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I Know Everything About You

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It was a risk being out here. Satya knew that. She’d been here a few times before, when she’d had the time and could pull herself away from whatever project she’d been absorbed in. But these botanical gardens were one of the only places in Rio de Janeiro where Satya knew she could step out from under Vishkar’s watchful eye.

The neat stone walkways, wide enough for at least two lanes of foot traffic, met perfectly chiseled stone walls high enough that Satya had often seen tourists using the flat surfaces atop them as elbow rests or makeshift tables for food and drink. Only beyond these walls rose the vast jungles of exotic plants. Every inch of the gardens was meticulously maintained, and Satya had always been comforted by how neat and spotless the place seemed to be. Nature, while beautiful, was often chaotic, but here its beauty was fully realized in order

Satya had stopped to wait on a carved stone bench in the corner of a large, square alcove. The gardens were like a maze, the paths only ever making right angles, and Satya had chosen a remote corner where several benches offered a brief respite from one of the longer stretches of walkway. It was quiet here, and the tall green fronds all around hid the area from view. From where she was sitting, Satya had a full vantage on both entrances, spaced evenly in the centers of the walls that formed the corner opposite hers. A smaller square of walls at the center of the alcove, supporting a neat floral arrangement, could provide cover if need be.

She hadn’t tied up her hair like she always did in her public appearances, instead leaving it down like she had on her covert missions. She’d also neglected her usual Vishkar headpiece and uniform, and had mostly hidden her recognizable cybernetic arm under the long sleeve of a light grey sweatshirt. Overall, she was more confident in her disguise than she’d expected to be, and was in fact quite proud of the hardlight guitar case leaning against the bench at her side. Street musicians often performed here – Satya could hear the faint sound of a violin, likely being played in one of the more frequented areas of the gardens – so it was less suspicious than a suitcase, and inside it she’d managed to fit her mission outfit, hardlight visor, and photon projector, along with several changes of clothes and everything else she would need for the journey ahead.

Whoosh.

Whoosh, whoosh, WHOOSH.

A streak of blue light in her peripheral vision, accompanied by a series of progressively louder sounds, caught Satya off guard, and she was thrown into a panic when the last sound occurred extremely close by.

She instantly turned to its source, ready to… Satya wasn’t quite sure what she could’ve done at this range, but she needn’t have worried. Next to her on the bench reclined a woman with wild brown hair, wearing a dark grey jacket that was both several sizes too big and probably far too thick for today’s warmer weather. After accounting for the woman’s odd fashion sense, Satya recognized her face as one of several whose features she’d studied intently, knowing one of them would be her contact today.

Tracer.

“Cheers, love!” Tracer offered in greeting, then, noting Satya’s startled expression, “Oh, sorry about that, love. Didn’t mean to scare you!”

“It’s…” Satya took a breath, recovering from the shock. “It’s alright. You’re with…”

“Overwatch!”

Hearing the name out loud made Satya nervous again. Every step she’d taken since she’d reached out initially had brought with it an overpowering feeling of this is real, I’m actually doing this. I’m leaving everything I know behind, and none more so than now, looking across her bench at a genuine agent of Overwatch, seated next to Satya and waiting expectantly for her answer.

“Tracer,” the woman said, filling the silence at Satya’s pause and offering her hand, “but we’re friends now so you can call me Lena.”

Friends? Satya considered, puzzled. She’d barely spoken to Lena in the minute or so they’d known each other. She watched as Lena’s eyes darted briefly down to her waiting hand and back up to meet Satya’s gaze before having a moment of revelation and giving Lena her own hand in response.

“Satya Vaswani, Lead Architech on…” she trailed off as she shook Lena’s hand neatly. “Satya,” she corrected, following Lena’s lead with a hint of embarrassment. It had been quite some time since Satya had introduced herself like this, in what she had slowly realized was an informal setting.

“Nice to have you on board, Satya. Now, let’s get outta here, yeah? We can chat in the car, love. This heat is killing me.”

“You could have dressed more properly for Brazil’s climate,” Satya said, gesturing to Lena’s massive jacket. She was silently thankful for having recognized the hyperbole.

“This was the only one I have that’s thick enough so the light doesn’t show through.”

Satya then noticed how Lena’s jacket fell oddly around her chest and forearms, remembering the strange harness and gauntlets she’d seen Tracer wearing in photos. She remembered her own covered arm and, in doing so, realized she was feeling somewhat uncomfortable herself.

“Lead the way,” Satya offered in agreement, “I hope your vehicle is air-conditioned.”

Lena shot Satya a grin, standing from the bench and looking very relieved. She turned to the walkway to their left and made a quick motion like she was about to break out in a run, but stopped, realizing something. She turned back to Satya and made a ‘follow me’ gesture with her hand, looking as if she might be trying to hide her disappointment.




Satya’s disguise hadn’t been a problem in the relatively cooler morning, but now that the sun was directly overhead – “high noon,” she’d heard Lena mumble to herself, chuckling at what must have been an inside-joke Satya wasn’t privy too – she was beginning to regret today’s fashion choices.

Lena was faring even worse, made exceedingly obvious by her increasingly hurried movement, heavy breathing, and pained sighs every time they turned a corner and realized they still had a fair distance left to walk before they could reach the exit.

“You couldn’t have picked somewhere closer to the lot, love? It’s like a labyrinth in here.”

“I… apologize.” Satya offered, unsure what she should suggest. She had deduced that the light on Tracer’s chest had something to do with her powers, and that her gauntlets were where she stowed her weapons, but couldn’t imagine why the woman would wear her entire uniform – was uniform the right word? – to this meeting. At her memory of what Tracer’s outfit looked like in all the more recent photos, Satya’s eyes went wide in concern. “Don’t tell me you’re wearing your other jacket under there?”

“Nah, skipped all that today, love! I’m not that crazy.”

‘Skipped all that today?’ Satya considered. Does that mean...

Satya didn’t let herself finish that thought, instinctively putting it aside like she had always done, until quite recently, with any lines of thinking she felt might have interfered with her steadfast dedication to her work at Vishkar.

It wasn’t long before they made their way to the parking lot. “And here we are!” Lena exclaimed excitedly, gesturing with both hands to a sleek, black vehicle.

It was one of the longer sport utility models with extended seating, like a hybrid between a minivan and a limousine. Upon being lead inside by an exhausted but cheerful Lena, Satya noted that beyond the driver and passenger positions, the rest of the grey faux-leather seating was arranged in two long benches along the walls. From the hidden but visible dividing lines and grooves along the floor, Satya deduced that the seats were modular and could separate and swivel to form traditional rows. As it was, however, there was clear access to a storage space in the back, and Satya set down her hardlight faux guitar case on grey carpeting next to a large brown suitcase with a small British flag sticker in the upper right corner. The vehicle was, in fact, air-conditioned, to Satya’s immense relief.

She spent a moment trying to decide which seat it would be the least rude to take before settling on the middle of the bench – composed of five modular seats, she’d counted – on the left side of the vehicle. She could see the entrance to the botanical gardens through the right-side windows, but more importantly, she also had a clear view of Lena, who’d taken the front right seat to… drive, Satya had thought, but Lena was reclined back in her chair, arms crossed and one foot resting on the dash, and remained that way even as the vehicle started moving.

“Gotta watch the road, love. Safety protocols and all that,” Lena began, facing forward but otherwise inattentive to anything happening outside the vehicle. “Don’t sweat about the suitcases, the antigrav on the Porpoise here is top-notch. It’s perfect for being inconspicuous, too. Can’t see through the windows from outside, and it can even change color. If we need to pick a new one, Athena takes requests!”

“Athena?” asked Satya, having been about to ask about the Porpoise moniker but figuring this was more important.

“Who’d you think was driving, love? I only do planes! Hey Athena, Care to chime in?”

Greetings Lena, Satya,” an electronic voice filtered through the overhead speakers.

“The AI is driving the vehicle?” Satya asked, concerned.

I have a long history of successful service functioning as Overwatch’s auto-pilot system,” Athena began. “I have only been engaged in two crashes in that time, out of several hundred successful flights.”

Flights, Satya noticed. “But are we safe now?” she asked Lena. “Has it been tested in this type of vehicle?”

I can make it three crashes, if you’d like.”

“Oi! A!” Lena interrupted, glancing toward the ceiling. “Be nice.”

My apologies.”

Satya felt sick. It wasn’t that she had anything against AI, at least she didn’t think she did. She considered artificial intelligence an integral part of an efficient and orderly society. It was simply that the unprofessionalism of her interactions so far with Lena had slowly been eroding Satya’s faith in Overwatch’s competence, and she realized that she’d unfairly placed those doubts upon Athena.

I did say ‘it,’ she remembered. Had Athena taken offense? The AI Satya had dealt with in her work at Vishkar had never reacted like this, with… sass? Sarcasm? Satya wasn’t sure which word was correct. She realized, adding a brief twinge of resignation to her guilt, that Athena apparently had better social skills than she did.

“You alright back there, love?”

Lena had turned to look at Satya – enough that she no longer had her eyes the road, which only added to Satya’s concern – and was watching her expectantly. Satya fell into an all-too-familiar mad rush to get her thoughts in order and work up the courage to speak before Lena, inevitably, would decide the pause in conversation had gone on for too long and Satya would lose her chance.

“S’okay, love. Take your time.”

Satya paused. Was she…

Lena offered Satya a small smile and nodded.

“I…” Satya began, grabbing hold of the silence like a lifeline. It was a long moment before she continued. “I would like to apologize to Athena. Could you…”

I can hear you.” Athena interjected. There was no venom in it, only a statement of fact.

Satya considered where she should direct her words, and settled on the closest set of speakers on the ceiling. She was shaking, feeling as if the circular parts of the speakers were eyes watching her every movement. She took another moment to compose herself before she was finally able to speak, her voice uneven. “I… did not mean to offend, but I realize I must have. I am sorry for doubting your capabilities… and for not addressing you correctly, if that was part of it…” Satya trailed off, not sure how to continue but feeling as if she’d said everything she wanted to.

I accept your apology,” Athena replied, sounding slightly apologetic herself, “I realize much of this may be new for you.”

Satya felt a weight lift off her chest, one she’d expected to carry for days or weeks, if not the rest of her life. “Thank you,” she said softly and to no one in particular, feeling it applied to both of her travel companions.

“No problem, love!” Lena chimed in, still displaying her friendly smile. “You’re doin’ a lot better at this than ol’ Torb, I’ll tell you that.”

Satya relaxed, and Lena went back to watching the road as she began going over the basic information Satya had given when she’d contacted Overwatch, having her fill in remaining details. Satya had never done well in interviews, but found it much easier to answer Lena’s questions when she didn’t feel like she was being watched. Satya wondered briefly if Lena had arranged it this way on purpose.

At one point, Satya noticed a blue wireframe octahedron spinning above her left palm and realized she’d been tracing out geometric shapes in hardlight while she’d been talking. She had a quick moment of panic and looked back up toward Lena, who had been occasionally looking back at her via the rearview mirror. If she’d noticed, her not-quite-driver hadn’t said anything about it, and was still going ahead with the interview. Satya relaxed again – as she’d been able to do quite often since she’d been with Lena, she noticed – and shifted her focus back to their conversation.

Lena started asking questions about Vishkar and the kind of work she did, and the warm, comforting sensation that had begun to overtake Satya vanished in an instant. What about that business with Calado? she imagined Lena saying, people DIED in that explosion, they didn’t GET their better world. What do you have to say for yourself? She waited for the question, her heart sinking further with every second that passed, but it never came. Her covert missions were only briefly touched on, and Lena quickly proceeded to the details of joining Overwatch.

“I should probably ask before we get too far, love: is there anyone you wanna bring with? We can maintain or replicate almost any equipment, so long as you let us take a look, but some people like to bring their own mechanics with ‘em, or even just friends and family, though we’d have to clear them first."

“My equipment is Vishkar’s, and I can repair it myself, so long as I have the proper materials,” Satya replied. “And my family would be strangers to me if I ever saw them again. So, no, I am going alone.”

“alright, love…” Lena said cautiously. She paused for a moment, deep in thought, and some time passed before she spoke again. “We’re gonna keep our promise. You’ll be safe with me, you’ll be safe with Overwatch, Vishkar won’t be able to get to you, and eventually they’ll stop being a problem altogether, if we have anything to say about it.”

“You… intend to eliminate Vishkar?” Satya asked incredulously.

“Stop them, at least, at any rate, once we’ve got the numbers to. It’s in our mission statement now, one of our other recruits’ conditions for joining. We’re actually going to pick him up right now. Hey! Maybe you two know each other!”

Whatever horrible realization was building in Satya’s thoughts was momentarily cut off as she was taken aback by Lena’s last statement. The possibility that she would know someone else here was slim. Satya had barely interacted with anyone outside of Vishkar in the time she’d been in Rio de Janeiro. She hadn’t even considered acknowledging the ‘friends’ part of Lena’s previous question. She hadn’t made any, nor had she held out hope that she would ever be able to.

But the vehicle had plenty of open seats, and there was still half a world away before they’d reach this new Overwatch’s headquarters in Gibraltar. If the people she was going to meet on this journey, and at its conclusion, were anything like Lena…

Cracks began to form in the walls Satya had built around herself through years of self-doubt and resignation. Shining through, she felt a tiny flicker of hope that she could not stifle, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself that this time too, just like the others, all she had to look forward to was disappointment and even more hurting. She closed her eyes to keep them from welling with tears. Of what, she couldn’t be sure.

“What is it, love? You okay?”

Satya breathed deeply, trying to regain some amount of composure before answering.

“I… I think, perhaps, I will be.”




The Porpoise – Satya would have to remember to ask about that name – pulled to the side of the street, into a very cramped parking spot between two very old-fashioned vehicles, one a garish blue-green and the other a dusty light brown. From what Satya could see of them through the windshield and back window, she guessed they were old enough to be from the era when cars drove on rotating wheels instead of hovered, and that the brown one had probably been parked in the same place for just as long.

“Be back in a minute, love! You’ll hardly know I was gone!” Lena said excitedly as she opened the door and shut it behind her before Satya had time to process what she had said.

While she waited for Lena to return with this mystery recruit, Satya took in her surroundings. She winced at what she saw. All around her were dilapidated buildings, painted in some places with bright, chaotic colors, worn down to bare wood in others. Like the light brown car, which Satya was beginning to suspect had at one point been white, various objects were strewn about, abandoned or momentarily neglected, on porches, in alleys, and even on sidewalks. She was thankful Lena’s vehicle – Athena’s vehicle? Overwatch’s vehicle? – seemed to have an air filtration system. Satya knew what places like this smelled like, and she felt nauseous at the memory.

Who would Lena be meeting in this place, amid such chaos and disorder? Satya wondered. Unless…

Satya’s eyes went wide with horror as the realization she’d been staving off hit her like a ton of bricks. At that moment, she could already hear Lena’s voice from somewhere outside, getting louder as she approached the vehicle.

“…and we will, as soon as we get enough recruits, we’ll all be back to finish the job you’ve started off so well.”

No. No no no no no…

“In fact, the way things worked out, I’ve actually got a surprise for you! You could call it a down payment of sorts, in a way. You see, love…” Lena opened what was technically one of the back doors, gesturing inside. “Vishkar just lost their lead architech!”

Satya shook to her core as the familiar blue-plated, metallic legs of Lúcio Correia dos Santos stepped though the same door Lena had shown Satya through only an hour ago. The long, anemone-like tendrils of his dark hair trailed in arcs behind his head as he moved, and that yellow, headphone-wearing frog sigil stared a challenge from the center of his sleeveless, green shirt. He’d already had a troubled expression brewing behind the yellow, transparent visor over his eyes, but it turned to pure, seething rage when he actually laid eyes on the architech. “What the fuck is she doing here?”

Satya’s equally venomous glare met his as she rose from her seat – there was almost enough room to stand, but not quite, so she ended up in a somewhat awkward crouch – and stared him down. She had little trouble speaking now. When she wanted people to think she was being rude, Satya didn’t have to try very hard. “I could say the same about you, what business does Overwatch have with a street rat?

“Aww heellllll no! don’t tell me you actually want me to work with this imperialist scum!”

Behind where Lúcio stood at the beginning of the bench-style seating, Satya could see where Lena had frozen in place in the open doorway, a look of apologetic horror on her face. Satya was annoyed beyond all measure at how cheerful she’d been while all the time bringing her straight toward the man who’d so quickly become akin to a mortal enemy of hers. Part of her felt that it served her right for her ignorance that she now had to watch everything she’d planned fall apart in front of her.

But beneath it all, Satya could feel a twinge of sympathy for the woman. She’d been so excited, so hopeful, she’d thought this would go so well only for it to go so wrong. Satya knew that feeling well.

Something brought about by the parallel, or by the obligation she now felt to do whatever she could to ease Lena’s pain, made Satya snap her lips shut around the next choice insult she was about to throw at Lúcio and gently lower herself to her seat.

Lúcio was taken aback for only a second before apparently becoming more frustrated. “Oh, you think we’re done here?”

By now Lena had herself stepped inside, pulling the door closed behind her, and was currently attempting to awkwardly squeeze between the two front seats to get back to her former position, all evidently so she could avoid having to leave the two of them alone together for even a few seconds.

Lúcio had begun to say something else, but Satya cut him off, her voice cold but not venomous. “I am sorry for what Vishkar has done to you and your people. Everything you’ve said about them is true. I see that now, which is why, as you can see, I have defected.”

At that, Lúcio froze, clearly unprepared for Satya’s apology. She’d said it mostly for Lena – who had managed to navigate her way to what Satya had reluctantly decided to call the driver’s seat, regardless – but she had to finally admit that she was having trouble justifying her continued hatred for the DJ-turned-revolutionary. She could never accept his ideology, not when she remembered what her life had been like before Vishkar, but he hadn’t exactly been wrong to object to Vishkar’s behavior, had he? Satya would have to think on this further.

As it was, Lúcio silently turned away from Satya, giving a shrug of annoyance to the interior wall to her left, and falling lazily into the seat at the very front of the right-side bench. He dropped his yellow backpack into the seat next to him, but didn’t bother taking his luggage – a blue suitcase with green lining, decorated with the familiar frog sigil – to the rear storage area. Instead, he let it sit in the aisle where he’d dropped it at his feet. Diagonally in the aisle. Satya winced and wondered if he’d done it on purpose, before deciding that he actually probably hadn’t but would have if he’d known how much it would bother her.

If there are no objections,” Athena broke the silence, “I shall begin driving us to the safehouse.”

A few moments passed, in which the silence resumed unabated, and the car effortlessly pulled out of the cramped space and took off down the highway, away from the favela.

Lena hadn’t said a word since she’d shown Lúcio into the car. Satya had decided that she didn’t deserve the blame for any of it. She’d been nothing but sweet and cheerful and Satya was already regretting the anger she’d felt toward her moments before, though she dared not say anything with Lúcio present.

Lúcio broke the silence instead. “So, you defected, huh?” he said without looking at Satya. “That mean you’re done with the whole ‘freedoms must be sacrificed’ thing or…”

The words came easily to Satya. She’d had to recite them to herself over and over before she could justify her rejection of Vishkar’s vision for the world without sacrificing her own in the process. “Vishkar was flawed,” she began, “they intended to assign the fruits of their success according to economic status, reinforcing the conditions that create poverty rather than eliminating them. Their institution of curfews and bans on certain activities may have overstepped the line from promoting civil harmony to instituting control. And, of course, their use of sound technology against civilians and the reckless lengths they went to in order to secure contracts” – Satya felt her heart flood with guilt at that last line – “were wholly unacceptable.”

“That doesn’t sound like a ‘yes’” said Lúcio darkly.

“I cannot condone the decision your people make to continue living in slums.”

“It’s our choice, our CULTURE, Vaswani. Do you know what that means? ” Lúcio was staring intently now, incredulous. “Of course you don’t, because you didn’t have any. You grew up in your ivory tower and think you can just take our lives away because you feel like it? Make your own decisions about how we live and who we are without knowing anything about us?”

“You talk as if you’ve all made this decision together, can individuals not have a say in your culture?

“We do all make it together. It’s what we all agree. You’ve seen us marching. That’s us, moving together as one!” There was something in his voice that more closely resembled pride than anger.

“And your children?” Satya asked, with pain in her voice. “Do you give them a choice, or do you dictate their lives for them? How long do they have to suffer in your filth before—”

“Fuck you!” Lúcio shouted, snapping back to pure rage and lunging forward, stopped only by his seatbelt. “Fuck you for whatever the fuck you were implying. We take care of our own.”

“Oi!” Lena finally shouted from the front, but she didn’t add anything else.

Satya had recoiled at Lúcio’s sudden outburst, her head sinking between her shoulders and her arms crossing over her chest as she sat as far back as possible in her seat. She nervously folded at the fabric of her sleeve, the medium-length, sky-blue nails on her right hand making the movement rather noticeable. In the silence at Lena’s interruption, she began weakly: “I just… want to make a better life for everyone, for people who aren’t born yet. Things should be better for them, they deserve better. And you are the one trying to rob them of that.”

“The way I see it,” Lúcio began, still scowling but his rage tempered somewhat, “you still think we should have everything that matters to us taken away, all because you think you know better than we do,” he scoffed, “can raise our kids better than we do, apparently.”

Satya felt alone, trapped. No matter what she said, Lúcio could make her sound like the villain. That was his skill. He wasn’t a revolutionary leader for nothing. But it was his argument that did the work for him, his words. How he could talk of simple things like freedom and choices and everyone would listen. Short-term, selfish thinking with no regard for the big picture, no regard for the long-term, no regard for the people like her that didn’t get out.

“Lena?” Satya asked, well aware of how desperate she would look, but she was desperate, what else could she be? “What do you think?” She regretted bringing her into this as soon as she had done so.

“Uhh… this is all kinda over my head, loves. Don’t really think I have much to contribute here.”

Of course she would side with Lúcio, Satya thought, convinced Lena’s avoidance of the question could mean nothing else, everyone does. Everyone listens to him, and no one cares about the people he hurts, the people he is too foolish and blind to see are being hurt.

Something in Satya snapped. This time she raised her voice, seething with rage. “Fine, street rat, have it your way. If you think you know what is best for all your people, if you think you can deny them a better life because of what you think is best. Then you… you are no better than Vishkar.”

“The fuck did you just say to me?”

“ALRIGHT, LOVES,” Lena shouted, so loud and scolding that both Satya and Lúcio forgot whatever they’d been about to say next, “DROP IT NOW, OR SO HELP ME I WILL TURN THIS CAR AROUND RIGHT NOW!

Satya’s eyes went wide in horror. In the rearview mirror she could see Lena, who was also looking at her, and the two made a kind of indirect eye contact. Lena winced, and when she spoke again, her voice was cautious and apologetic.

“It’s just a… a figure of speech, I think. Haven’t you ever been on a fam— oh.” Satya could see the exact moment Lena’s heart sank. “Sorry, love,” and after a few moments, “No one’s going to make you go back there if you don’t want to.”

Satya relaxed again, managing a slight nod of thanks. Lúcio seemed to not know what to make of any of this, and didn’t resume their conversation, so Satya turned away to look out the back window, pulling a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds out of her sweatshirt pocket. She sat there for a long while, tuning everything out and watching the road slip out from under them as they left it behind.

Lena waited about 15 minutes before daring to try to give Lúcio his entrance interview. Satya wasn’t paying attention, but could pick up a few short bursts of laughter once they’d been talking for a while. They’d be good friends, Satya thought. Lena can have other friends, she floated as an idea, waiting nervously for her own reaction to it. Eventually she decided that she didn’t disagree, though she found herself correcting the statement to Lena can have friends.

Her thoughts drifted to wondering how she was going to fix this. Would she even get the chance to? Lena, I wanted to apologize for… she imagined herself saying, finding some quiet time to pull her away for a moment, stop her while she closed up the car after they’d exited, perhaps? How would she finish that statement? …for thinking it could work this time, she couldn’t avoid answering.

At least that might get her attention, she reasoned. I want her to feel sorry for me, don’t I? Satya winced at that. She hated when she did this, imagining these conversations, but could never stop herself. Maybe I should start by thanking her, instead? I want her to know that I am not blaming her…




It was dark when they got to the Overwatch safehouse, which was a rather hidden-away mountainside hotel. It was one of the farthest buildings up the slope, bordering nothing but foliage and almost totally consumed by the jungle. The safehouse itself turned out to be three adjacent rooms in the back of the building, with windows facing into the hillside. Satya and Lúcio, of course, would be staying in the rooms on either end.

Satya didn’t get the chance to talk to Lena. In the moments she could have seized, she couldn’t work up the courage. Before she knew it, she was standing just outside the open doorway to her room, not having said a word to her.

She lingered there for a while, clinging to that last futile hope that she’d get one more chance before she closed that door behind her and wouldn’t get another one. She shook her head at how foolish she was being, and started into her room.

As she passed the threshold, she felt a hand on her upper arm and flinched, tensing up.

“Oh! Sorry, love.” Lena apologized, pulling her hand back sharply as Satya turned to face her, incredulous. “You don’t like to be… s’okay, love.”

She had changed out of the heavy jacket and into what looked to be a set of pajamas, but she still had that odd-looking harness strapped around her chest, a bright blue light in the center of metallic white panels not so unlike Satya’s own hardlight constructions. Satya would have to remember to ask about it, someday.

“I just wanted to…” Lena began, uncertainty in her voice. “I’m sorry… for all that. I Just… I still got your back, love, you don’t have to worry.”

“How do you…” Satya began, having completely forgotten everything she’d planned to say and still recovering from the shock. “How do you always seem to know what I am thinking?”

“I don’t, I just…” Lena winced, a sadness in her eyes as she reached a hand up to her shoulder and lightly pulled on one of the straps of her harness. “We’ve all got something, love.”

They stood there silently for a moment before Lena finally spoke up with “I should probably try to sleep, love. You too, we’ve got a big travel day tomorrow. Breakfast first, though, so I’ll see ya then. G’night, love!”

“Goodnight, Lena,” Satya returned, watching as the cheerful pilot with the strange harness walked back to the room next-door and gave a friendly wave as she closed it.

Despite how disastrous the day had been, Satya clung to her renewed hope that things might just turn out alright after all.

She allowed herself to smile, just a bit, as she closed the door and set her odd suitcase – she should probably make a more practical one soon, she decided – down on the floor. She slipped out of her sweatshirt, neatly folding it and placing it atop the suitcase. Under the midday sun, she’d been thankful she hadn’t worn anything heavier than a light blue tank-top underneath. Most of her wardrobe was sleeveless, in fact, as she didn’t much like the way thinner fabrics fell around her slightly asymmetrical shoulders. She checked over her left arm once to make sure everything was still in place, even though she knew it would be.

“Aww, that was so sweet! She really does care about you.” It was a woman’s voice; one Satya didn’t recognize.

Satya panicked, darting her eyes across the room in an attempt to find its source, only for the barrel of a gun to materialize directly between her eyes, and behind it, a woman with a strange side-cut of dyed purple hair and metal implants arcing over one ear. A pair of purple lips shot Satya a sinister smirk.

“Satya Vaswani…” The woman started, her finger on the trigger, and Satya closed her eyes.

“Don’t even think about calling for help, or doing anything clever with that arm of yours, comprende? You’ve given Lena enough trouble already today, don’t you think?”

Satya had to open her eyes again at that. What is she playing at?

The woman looked pleased, and her face softened into a friendly smile as she swiftly lifted her gun away from Satya’s face. “Alright, now that that’s over with, we can get down to business.” She narrowed her eyes on that last word.

Satya was still frozen in place, eyeing the woman suspiciously. Being caught so off-guard, perhaps the most unguarded she had ever let herself be, left Satya confused and terrified by the woman in front of her.

She seemed to notice, and her shoulders went slack. “Relájate! You don’t have to be so tense.” She stepped forward toward Satya, who still couldn’t move a muscle, and started in a circle around her. As she did so, she gently ran an index finger with a long pink nail down Satya’s right arm, from her shoulder to her elbow.

It… wasn’t terrible.

Nor unwelcome, exactly, though Satya cursed herself at the thought. It was just… new somehow, and Satya wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about it.

The woman appeared around Satya’s left side, holding out a hand in greeting. “Sombra,” she offered.

When Satya remained still, Sombra dropped her hand and shrugged. “It’s okay, I already know who you are.”

Some part of Satya actually found that convenient.

“So, how did the interview go?” Sombra began. “Notice anything missing?” she added cryptically.

Satya’s eyes went wide. Calado. But… how did she know?

“I found something you might be interested in seeing, amiga.” Sombra continued. She moved her fingers in the air as if tracing something, until a holographic display appeared. “The camera really shows your good side, you know.”

Satya watched in horror as a video played on the floating screen. She recognized it as security footage from inside the Calado building, and couldn’t tear her eyes away as the image of herself shot energy drain pulses at security guards, then stepped through a teleporter just moments before the footage cut out – clearly from the explosion.

Sombra made a motion with a finger and rewound the video to a frame that showed Satya firing at one of the guards. “You know, it could have been really bad if Overwatch had seen that. Good thing I wiped it before they could.”

What? ” Satya added, finally. They… didn’t know?

“Yeah, see, amiga? I did you a favor. Now I’m the only one who has this footage.”

“Why… why would you do such a thing?” Satya asked, incredulous.

“Because what are friends for?”

That word again.

“No one else has seen this, amiga, and I can make sure it stays that way, you just need to do me one little favor.”

Satya recoiled, suddenly realizing what Sombra was actually trying to do to her. “You intend to… extort me?” Her eyes narrowed, her face taking on a stern, combative look.

“Oh, no, nothing like that!” Sombra said, mock-clutching her hand to her heart. “What do you take me for? This is just a little exchange of favors between friends.”

She keeps using that word.

“Okay listen,” Sombra began, “We both know Overwatch is in a complicated position. How do you think it would look for them if one of their new recruits was seen on camera doing this? ” She pushed the image further toward Satya. “You really think they would still want to be associated with someone like that?”

Satya felt her breath catch in her throat. Sombra made a good point, she thought. Overwatch was attempting to regain legal status, and if something like this came out, it could be very damaging to those efforts.

“But that never has to happen, amiga. I can get you in with Overwatch. You won’t have to be the outsider this time, not with me helping you! You just have to get me the list!"

“What list?” Satya asked, becoming more and more confused by the second.

“The names.”

“Names?”

Sombra leaned in close, placing the tip of her finger between Satya’s eyebrows. “The names of the people who are going to be joining you on this trip of yours.”

Satya’s eyes went wide, and with a chill she realized that Sombra could feel the slight muscle movement through her fingertip. Satisfied, Sombra withdrew her hand with a grin.

Relájate! No one’s going to hurt them,” she continued, “just offer them a better deal.”

“I… I can’t,” Satya managed. “I will not do such a thing.”

“I wonder what Lena would think if she saw that footage.” A devious smile spread across Sombra’s face. “You reeeeeaaally want to be friends with her, don’t you?”

Satya froze. She did, didn’t she? Desperately. Foolishly. And this woman could hold it over her, possibly make her do anything she asked, all for someone she’d met only hours ago. Was that what Satya had been craving for so long? Weakness?

“I can help you with that!” Sombra said suddenly, cutting off Satya’s thoughts. “I mean, she’s going to need to trust you anyway if she’s going to give you the list, right?” She set her hands down on Satya’s shoulders, apparently delighted at her idea.

“That’s how we can do this, amiga,” She spoke softly with a smile. “I can show you how to make friends, and you can get me that list. Does that seem fair?”

Nothing about it seemed fair to Satya, but she didn’t feel like she had a choice in the matter.

“Think about it, alright?” Sombra said when Satya didn’t respond. “I’ll be in touch.” And with that, she reached back to the still-paused video, placing it in front of Satya’s eyes one last time, before making chillingly familiar motions with her hands until the screen had folded into a pale purple holographic octahedron, rotating above her left palm. Swiftly, she reached up and crushed it into nothing, raising her eyebrow with a smirk as her whole body seemed to disintegrate into fading purple pixels.

Chapter Text

Lena woke with a start, clutching her hands to her chest and pushing her fingertips flat against the cool metal. She waited like that for a few moments, breathing deeply, before experimentally lifting one hand away and reaching out to rest her fingers heavily on the wooden edge of the bedside table. She focused on the calming feeling of its texture against her skin.

She’d brought a spare range extending station in her luggage, so she theoretically didn’t have to wear her chronal accelerator to bed, but…

One experience waking up to nightmares like these and finding it missing had been more than enough for a lifetime.

Lena took in the room around her, its darkness, emptiness, loneliness, suddenly seeming far more sinister. She imagined that the ceiling and walls would pull away from her at any moment as she sank downward. She looked toward the window, where the darkened mass of vegetation just outside – which Lena knew only extended for a few meters between the back wall of the building and the sloping hillside behind it – now seemed like it could be hiding anything. Or nothing. Maybe nothing was worse.

“Athena?”

Yes, Lena? ” The quiet voice answered from somewhere to Lena’s left, near where her hand had settled on the table. The silence after her voice cut out seemed to go on forever.

“Can you say something else?” Lena asked quickly when she couldn’t think of anything specific. She just very desperately needed to hear another voice right then.

Something else.” Athena obeyed, and from her tone of voice, Lena imagined the faceless artificial intelligence raising an eyebrow.

Lena let out a groan that turned into a light chuckle. The terrible joke had done its job, at least. Lena sat up, no longer afraid the room was going anywhere without her. She pulled her legs out from under the covers and swung them over the side of the bed. The digital clock just behind where her phone – now with Athena’s stylized ‘A’ logo prominently displayed on its screen – was lying on the table now read 3:47 AM.

Lena knew from experience that she probably wouldn’t get back to sleep any time soon. She sat there wondering what she could possibly do to pass the time.

“You heard from Winston, love?”

He tried to contact you last night, but you were already asleep. He said that it could wait until this morning.”

“He awake then?” Lena asked. It would be around nine in the morning in Gibraltar.

No, he is not.” Athena answered, with a faint trace of humor in her voice.

“Sleeping in again, eh?” Lena said with a wide grin. “Let me know when he wakes up. Alright, love?”

Certainly,” Athena acknowledged.

Well, Winston was out for now. She didn’t want to disturb Satya or Lúcio at this hour – and definitely not both of them, she remembered with a wince – so it really looked like she was going to be stuck here alone for a while.

Four-hour time-difference to London, she remembered. Em’s usually up by around eight.

Lena picked her phone up off the desk and opened one of the secure communication lines, scrolling through to find Emily’s contact information. She lay down on her side and opened a new window.




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

hey love, you there?

[Em]: Lena? Isn’t it like 4 am where you are?

couldn’t sleep

[Em]: oh

[Em]: you alright?

fine, love, just needed to chat

[Em]: okay

[Em]: about anything in particular?

not really

oh, right. the whole mission thing I guess

[Em]: Sooo, how did it go?

could’ve been better honestly

I mean satya was great, real sweetheart once you get to know her

And lucio was super chill at first

[Em]: Lúcio

I still don’t know how to do that on here.

[Em]: It’s really easy…

but it turns out there kind of mortal enemies or something

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: What even is your luck?

honestly I’ll take what I can get

I mean at least we haven’t run into talon or anything

[Em]: Huh, would have thought you’d be looking forward to it.

emily

[Em]: please you know I’m right ;)

emily

[Em]: isn’t that her name too?

EMILY

and no its not

but EMILY

you know id never do that to you

[Em]:

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: nvm

[Em]: so what was that thing with Satya and Lúcio?

I mean to me it sounded super complicated

big questions I don’t really think much about the answers to

like, lucio’s this revolutionary right?

and vishkar’s all tryna control everyone

and satya left vishkar cause of what they did

but she still believes all that stuff

about order and making people live in better houses I mean

and lucio gets really upset because its destroying the peoples culture or something

but when satya talks it really sounds like she wants to help people

like she wants things to be better for future generations and stuff

but lucio thinks people should get to make their own decisions

and then satya got real mad and said lucio was like vishkar

it was something about kids

seemed real important to satya

personal

like they shouldn’t have to live in slums just cause there parents want to

but is there really a good answer to that?

I mean lucios stuff seems easier to understand

not having to bow to corporate overlords and all that

so like if I had to choose…

but it doesn’t really feel right to choose.

I dunno, what do you make of it?

[Em]:

[Em]: hmm

[Em]: if I had to choose

[Em]: I think I’m with Satya on this

[Em]: like, don’t get me wrong

[Em]: people should get to choose how they want to live

[Em]: but as someone who hasn’t spoken to her parents since…

[Em]: well

Em…

you don’t have to…

[Em]: I guess what I mean to say is

[Em]: no one wants to stand up and say parents shouldn’t get to make decisions for their kids

[Em]: even if everyone knows it can be true sometimes

[Em]: so I feel like Satya must have a reason to

[Em]: like you said, it sounds like something personal

[Em]: and I don’t really have to imagine what she must be feeling

[Em]: alone

[Em]: like no one will listen to her

you don’t really have to guess to know satyas like that

if you’ve seen her I mean

honestly…

I’ve only known her since yesterday

and I already get the feeling I might be the first real friend shes ever had

[Em]: That doesn’t really surprise me.

that’s kind of harsh, love

[Em]: not about Satya

[Em]: about you.

[Em]: of course you’d be the person to get through to her, Lena

[Em]: that’s just who you are

I feel like your trying to give me a really heartfelt compliment right now

[Em]: I am, Lena

[Em]: you dense fuck

[Em]: It’s not even that you know when people are hurting

[Em]: you just always treat them like they might be

[Em]: and Lena,

[Em]: most people are.

[Em]: Your heart knows what it’s doing.

yeah

you

[Em]: Lena, I’m being serious

[Em]: or I was trying to

I know

sorry love

It’s just…

I really needed this right now

I mean, I might be able to cheer people up when they need it the most

but you’re the one who always knows how to do that for me

[Em]: I can do a lot of things for you ;)

EM

we were having a moment

[Em]: you went there first

fair

[Em]: I just don’t know what to say when you say stuff like that

[Em]: cause usually I’d just hug you or something

[Em]: and I can’t right now

[Em]: but I know you’re gonna do great

[Em]: if anyone can get Satya and Lúcio to get along

[Em]: it’s you

I just don’t know how I’m going to keep up with them

[Em]: you’re pretty fast, Lena

oh

that just gave me a great idea actually

thanks!

[Em]: don’t mention it

[Em]: really, don’t

[Em]: I’m not taking the blame for whatever stunt you’re planning

you just said I was good at this!

[Em]: I said you had good instincts, Lena

[Em]: Your ideas leave a lot to be desired tbh

wow

savage

[Em]: Damn right

hey, athena just sent me an alert

winston’s up

I should probably let him know how things went

[Em]: alright

[Em]: Tell the big guy hey for me

Love ya, em

[Em]: ttyl

[Em]:<3




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [brk5cch]

hi winston!

[brk5cch]: Lena!

[brk5cch]: What are you doing awake?

[brk5cch]: Is everything alright?

yeah, love

em says hey

I’m with satya and lucio at the safehouse

heading out west tomorrow

[brk5cch]: Oh! That’s good to hear.

satya and lucio might kill eachother though

they REALLY hate eachother

apparently they have a history

[brk5cch]: I… don’t know how we missed that.

but it should be okay

I think I figured out how to handle it

[brk5cch]: I knew you would, Lena.

[brk5cch]: I gave you this mission for a reason.

because I’m less conspicuous in public than a giant gorilla?

[brk5cch]: Besides that, I mean.

[brk5cch]: You’re good at this, Lena.

yeah I know

I kinda just had this conversation

Anything else you want to know, love?

[brk5cch]: Actually…

[brk5cch]: There was one thing.

what is it, love?

[brk5cch]: I may have run out of peanut butter.

even the emergency stash I told you about?

[brk5cch]: …perhaps.

[brk5cch]: There wouldn’t be any more hidden around here somewhere,

[brk5cch]: would there?

under the couch in break room 5, love!

[brk5cch]: Oh, thanks!

[brk5cch]: How do you always remember where you hid it so quickly?

no reason

[brk5cch]: Anyway, I... greatly appreciate it.

[brk5cch]: And good luck to you!

thanks, love

I won’t let you down




After Winston left the conversation, Lena quickly tabbed over to her notes, crossed out one of the entries, and tabbed back to change his contact tag to [mtg1clgtleBR] before shutting off her phone.

She still had about three hours left before her alarm was supposed to go off so she could arrange breakfast, but as she set her phone aside and dug back under the covers, she actually found herself drifting off into a deep sleep.

Chapter Text

Satya was fairly confident she hadn’t slept at all that night, no matter how hard she’d tried.

From the moment Sombra had vanished – after Satya had spent a good deal of time wondering where she had gone and how she had done so before deciding it wasn’t exactly the most important question she should be asking – all through the restless night of contemplating the ceiling, and for the entire duration of her morning routine – which was extensive – Satya had been analyzing the situation she found herself faced with, considering her options.

She’d compartmentalized it into five individual problems, and devoted time to debating each one, analyzing all possible outcomes, complications, and explanations.

The first problem was rather straightforward: What happens if the footage gets out? While Satya had been dreading the subject when she’d expected Lena to bring it up, she had still known at the time – or thought she’d known – that Overwatch had been aware of her involvement in the Calado incident and had accepted her membership regardless.

She had expected to be grilled on the subject, asked tough questions, and possibly judged by her answers and even rejected because of them, but since she had been given a chance in the first place, she had been confident that there was an outcome where Overwatch knew what she’d been a part of and accepted her anyway.

Now she could not be so sure. She had to accept the possibility that Overwatch may not have given her that chance at all had they known the truth.

She also had to accept that the footage itself might make the difference. Overwatch had definitely known that she had performed at least some covert activities for Vishkar, and may or may not have changed their decision based on knowing about Calado, but hard video evidence of the incident could cause all sorts of problems that the abstract fact of her involvement may not have. Satya had no reason to believe that this Sombra would stop at showing Overwatch the footage if she rejected the offer. If it were released to the public, it could easily sway public opinion against the rekindled global peace organization.

Satya had to deduce that, in the event she rejected the offer, the possibility that she could maintain a place in Overwatch approached zero.

The second problem: What happens if I give her the list? Satya did not expect that she had enough information about Sombra to determine the full extent of why she required the names of the potential Overwatch recruits.

Satya had strongly suspected that the phrasing Sombra had used, ‘offer them a better deal,’ was too specific to be a bold-faced lie, so while there was a possibility that the recruits would be killed, perhaps to prevent Overwatch from attaining the numbers required to complete their mission – was Sombra working for Vishkar? Did they know Overwatch planned to strike against them? – it was more likely that someone else, perhaps a rival organization to Overwatch, wanted to acquire these individuals and put their skills to use.

Given the methods Sombra was using to try to identify them, Satya suspected that this ‘deal’ might end up being much like the ‘deal’ she herself had been given. Coercion.

There would indeed be very real consequences for giving this woman what she wanted. Consequences Satya would be at fault for. Perhaps not directly, but in a similar fashion to how she had been at fault for all the death and damage that occurred in the Calado explosion.

Problem number three was more of a puzzle, one that intrigued Satya rather than weighing on her: Who is Sombra? Satya couldn’t help but wonder about the strange woman and her… ‘exchange of favors between friends,’ as she’d called it. Why was her version of extortion reciprocal? Was it supposed to make the deal more enticing? Why would that be necessary, when it was already arranged so that Satya would have no choice? Was she lying? Satya couldn’t see the reason. She couldn’t imagine that anyone – even someone like her – would be fooled into thinking Sombra’s scenario was anything but blackmail.

And this insistence that the two of them were friends. Intimidation? Some deranged fixation? Was she playing on Satya’s own fears and twisting her desires? She’d certainly been doing that last one, Satya recalled with a shudder. But how did she even…

Satya stopped that thought before it could begin. I do not experience those feelings. I was mistaken.

There was one other possibility – that this woman actually intended to help her. Perhaps she required a long-term informant? That had been the deal, Satya recalled, to ‘get her in with Overwatch,’ or it had been before Sombra had latched onto the idea of…

The fourth problem. The one Satya couldn’t stop herself from coming back to, even though she’d arrived at the same conclusion every time she considered it. Lena.

If she rejected the offer, her conclusions from the first problem would apply. Satya had little hope that Lena would forgive her, or, even if she did, that Satya would ever see her again after being rejected from Overwatch.

If she took the deal, she would be… betraying Lena, taking advantage of her kindness to do something terrible. Their newfound friendship would never survive something like that, nor would Satya deserve that it did.

No matter what Satya did, remaining friends with Lena seemed to be out of the question. She would have to forget about everything that had happened the day before, and find some way to stop Lena from trying with her when it would only end in pain.

Why? Satya thought. Why did it always have to be like this? It hadn’t even been her fault this time.

Satya would get through it. She always had. Except this time, she couldn’t tell herself she’d been a fool for thinking it could work. It had worked. That simple fact made what Satya now needed to do immeasurably worse.

Fuck you, Sombra. Fuck you for your fucking… your everything. Every fucking thing about you.

The fifth and final problem: What am I going to do about this? If Satya didn’t take the deal, well, Overwatch probably wouldn’t send her back to Vishkar, at least. They wouldn’t want her to continue her criminal activities. She’d be imprisoned, at best, or at worst… left adrift in a world she wasn’t at all confident she could navigate on her own.

If she agreed, others would be put in danger… once she obtained the required information. Satya remembered that she didn’t currently have the list, after all. There would be time, and with it, other options.

She could tell Lena, tell Overwatch, about everything. There would be retaliation, of course. Sombra would release the footage, and while Satya might be treated more leniently for her honesty, Overwatch would still have a reputation to salvage. It would be functionally the same as rejecting the deal.

She could take the offer without intending to fulfill her terms. It would buy her more time to think of something else. Satya didn’t know what, but the option to not choose an option tempted her greatly. It didn’t seem like the right thing to do, but as soon as she’d thought of it, she knew right then that no matter how much more time she would spend thinking about it, it was the only decision she would be able to bring herself to make.

There was a knock at the door.

“Satya? You alright, love?”

Problem number four.

“Breakfast is almost ready,” Lena called from outside. “Don’t worry, there won’t be anyone else there but the three of us.” She paused for a moment. “I know that’s not really reassuring but you do kinda need to eat, love. I’ve got everything worked out, promise!”

“I am not currently hungry.” That was a lie, and Satya knew it, but she felt the sudden need to do everything she possibly could to avoid spending time with Lena. She couldn’t bear the thought of stringing her along like this when nothing good could ever come of it.

“Still gotta come to breakfast, love. It’d be kind of rude not to, plus all we’re really gonna get for lunch is whatever we can carry out with us so you’ll need to be there anyway.”

It didn’t take Satya long to realize her effort would be futile. Lena would not take ‘no’ for an answer, and Satya felt foolish for believing she actually might have. Having taken a direct hit, the rational part of Satya’s mind started to lose its foothold. We could just have breakfast together, she told herself, what’s the harm in that?

“We’ve got pancakes, eggs, French toast, fruit, plus all kinds of stuff I can’t pronounce…” Lena had continued, a sadness in her voice becoming more noticeable as she went on.

“Do you have waffles?” Satya asked, softly enough that she wasn’t sure Lena would hear her through the door.

”I can ask!” Lena exclaimed, her chipper demeanor suddenly restored. “Be down in fifteen!” she shouted behind her as she ran off down the hall.




Lena had arranged for the three of them to have the dining hall to themselves for the next hour, and if there had been any other guests currently staying in the hotel, Satya had not seen them, so it was only a surprise, rather than a shock, when she found Lena waiting outside the door dressed in her usual brown short-sleeve jacket, orange-yellow tracksuit pants, light grey running shoes, and her white-rimmed, orange-lensed ski goggles. She was also, as Satya had come to expect, wearing her harness and gauntlets.

“No, it’s no problem at all, love!” she spoke with her phone to her ear. She smiled excitedly, waved, and silently gestured for Satya to enter the hall while she finished her phone call. “But our doors are always open, ‘kay? And let us know if you ever run into anything you and O can’t handle, alright? Overwatch will have always your back, free of charge!”

Lena’s phone call went on for a while longer while Satya walked into the dining hall, finding an already-prepared breakfast platter laid out along a long counter just to her right. Lúcio was seated almost as far from the door as possible, at a table along the right wall and almost at the back of the room.

Satya looked over the arrangement of prepared food and, sure enough, found a stack of perfectly-made waffles sitting on a plate near its center. She placed one on a plate, and prepared another plate composed of various fruits, before taking both plates to a table at around the midpoint of the left wall, on the opposite side of the room from Lúcio.

Satya had just begun to cut neatly along the walls of the tiny cubicles when she heard Lena finish up her conversation and enter through the doorway. Satya watched her linger suspiciously around the French toast before settling on a large stack of pancakes, absolutely drenching them with syrup. With a swift motion, she turned and disappeared with a whoosh and a trail of blue light as she reappeared to set her plate down at…

Lúcio’s table.

Satya’s heart sank. Had Lena really gone through the trouble to beg Satya to go to breakfast with her only to…

Before Satya could finish that thought, Lena whooshed back over to the counter, humming innocently to herself as she took… another plate of pancakes. Why would she…

WHOOSH

Startled, Satya turned toward where she’d heard the sound just behind her, only to find Lena sitting opposite her at the table, a full plate of pancakes in front of her and a fork in hand.

“Alright, loves,” Lena began with a smirk, an air of competitiveness in her voice. “If this is how you two are gonna be…”

Whoosh

Lena disappeared and, Satya discovered when she swept her eyes over the room, had appeared in the seat opposite Lúcio, whose eyes were now as wide as Satya’s as he recoiled backward in his chair.

WHOOSH

Is she…? Satya thought, stunned, as Lena appeared at her table again. Is she seriously…?

“There are gonna have to be a few ground rules. First, no talking about each other. You’ve already done more than enough of that, as it is.”

Whoosh

Lena reappeared at Lúcio’s table to – as Satya had just pieced together – repeat the same words again for his benefit.

WHOOSH

“Second, you can ask me one question at a time, but you have to take turns.”

Whoosh

WHOOSH

“And third,” Lena pulled a silver disc from her jacket pocket, “I’m gonna flip this coin to see who goes first, no complaining.”

Whoosh

After Lena had explained the coin to Lúcio, she whooshed again to a point between both tables and said, to no one in particular but loud enough for both to hear, “Heads Satya, tails Lúcio.” She flipped the coin and whooshed back to Lúcio’s table, engaging him in conversation.

Satya was relieved to have more time to process this situation. Lena was… sharing the meal with both of them, separately, and clearly intending to hold conversations with both of them simultaneously. This was… certainly one way to do it, Satya thought. Quite amusing, actually, and somewhat endearing.

But Satya had been prompted to ask questions, which presented her with a dilemma. At this point it would certainly be optimal that she received as little information as possible. If she found out anything about the new Overwatch recruits… she wasn’t sure she would be at all able to hide that information from Sombra. She had no idea what the woman was truly capable of.

She would have to avoid the subject of their journey itself, and think instead of innocuous questions which, while not rousing suspicion in their irrelevance, would…

WHOOSH

“You got a question yet, love?” Lena asked, with no indication of impatience in her voice, while she carved a small bite of syrup-drenched pancake out of the stack of three on her plate.

Satya felt the approaching deadline nonetheless, and without thinking about it…

“So, where is it we are going.”

Satya froze, feeling her heart pound in her chest as Lena finished her bite of pancake.

“Oh, lots of places,” Lena replied, “Well, a few at least. Might’ve been one more but we just had a cancellation. You know, the girl I was talkin’ to on the phone. Nothing too soon, just someone we might’ve picked up toward the end.”

“Oh,” Satya interrupted quietly, attempting to imply her question had been answered.

“Understandable situation, really,” Lena continued, not seeming to notice. “Most people would rather protect their homes first, and I get the sense she might not be confident in her handiwork just yet. They are usually a little nervous at that age, even when they’re downright brilliant technological geniuses like her.”

Whoosh

Satya wished she could have taken a moment to not process information. At least she hadn’t learned anything specific, she figured, but she still felt guilt at possessing the knowledge at all.

When Lena eventually came back, she didn’t pick up where she’d left off, and Satya managed to change the subject away from the course of their journey without ever hearing about even the next location they planned to visit.

In fact, from then on, it almost seemed too perfect. Satya wondered whether Lena might have been avoiding certain questions deliberately.

Did she know? Satya wondered.

If she had, why had she told Satya anything at all? Still, she could not shake the suspicion.

Simple, yes-or-no, and personal questions got Satya through the rest of breakfast, and Lena seemed too overwhelmed by the dual-conversation – though she powered through it, likely on principle – to be suspicious about it. In fact, Lena seemed relieved whenever Satya would give her something she could answer without thinking about it. Satya couldn't help feeling a pang of guilt that Lena might think she was doing it to make things easier for her.

It did, in fact, go on for the whole breakfast, and on occasion, Satya even shared a few glances of exasperation with Lúcio. By the end, Satya had learned that Lena’s favorite color was ‘all of them,’ that pancakes were not in fact Lena’s favorite – the honor belonged to fish ‘n’ chips, even though Satya had specified ‘breakfast’ – and that Lena could, as she’d mentioned, fly a plane – though she didn’t seem very eager to elaborate.

After it was all over, Satya remembered with annoyance that if she’d thought of it, she could have used the opportunity to ask Lena why their vehicle was, in fact, called the Porpoise. She was beginning to think that one would always remain a mystery.

After they had finished eating, Lena had the three of them pile food into containers. Satya was mildly concerned at the idea of eating inside the vehicle, but supposed it was the only option, given that Lena had said they would be travelling all day today. Nonetheless, she insisted that no one bring syrup, an idea which Lena then claimed was one of Athena’s rules, and that they all had to follow it anyway. Satya filled her containers almost entirely with fruit, supposing that not much else on the platter would taste very good cold.

As the three of them moved to go back to their rooms, their departure set for a half-hour later, Lena motioned Satya aside in the hallway.

“We’re taking the East-West Burrow Passage, just so you know,” she said.

“Oh. Thank you,” said Satya, surprised both that this hadn’t been mentioned at all before and that, out of everything else that hadn’t been mentioned, Lena would have some idea that she should warn Satya about it. The tunnel utilized antigravity boosters in numbers so great that they produced especially bright light. “I will be sure to keep my visor with me.”

There was a long pause, in which Satya could tell both of them knew that something was being left unsaid.

Satya spoke first. “How did you… how did you know to think of that?”

“I didn’t… for sure…” Lena spoke, her voice shaky and uncertain. “I don’t, really. I’m just kinda guessing and I seem to get it right so far, but if there’s anything else… I’d rather not learn by having to watch things happen to you, love, so if you ever just want to tell me first, I won’t judge you, or anything. I really won’t. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, I’m literally the only one of what I am, so…”

Satya felt uneasy. Indeed, no matter how much her voice of reason wanted to end this before they both got hurt, there truly was no escaping Lena, and Satya would have to accept that. But it was more than that. Satya didn’t want to talk about this. She didn’t want to talk at all, if she could help it, let alone about herself.

“This way is easier,” Satya said coldly. She winced as soon as she’d said it, realizing how it must have sounded. “But I do…” she added quickly, “I do appreciate it, Lena. I simply do not wish to discuss the matter.”

“Oh. Okay,” Lena said, her face falling. “I just… nevermind.” She turned to leave, taking a few steps down the hall.

“Wait!” Satya called after her. Everything in her rational mind was telling her not to, but by this point she’d realized she was fooling herself if she thought that she could actually bring herself to listen to it.

“Thank you, Lena, for being patient with me,” she began as Lena turned to face her, once more. “People move quickly, and they do not often give me the chance to catch up.”

Lena closed the distance between them, giving Satya a wide-eyed smile as she pulled an object from her jacket pocket and held it out to her.

“You don’t always have to leave it to chance, love.”

Satya picked up the small, silver disc, turning it over in her hand. ‘One Token’ and ‘No Cash Value’ were printed on its surface, surrounding a picture of… a cartoon animal? Perhaps an octopus, or a squid?

It looked to be some sort of amusement park or entertainment parlor token, and when Satya examined it more closely, she realized that it had the same exact design on both sides.

Chapter Text

“That’s a big one, innit!” Lena called out to her two companions as the Porpoise rounded a bend.

Satya had to agree as the site came into view. A large divot had been carved into the mountain, as if a gigantic cylindrical section of it had been perfectly removed. In fact, that was exactly what had happened, if Satya recalled.

As they travelled further into the mountains of Brazil, these scars in the earth were all too common. Three decades of plant growth had obscured some of the lesser ones, but much of the terrain they passed had clearly been unnaturally, irrevocably altered.

During the Omnic Crisis, a gigantic burrowing omnic had wreaked havoc across all of South America, digging tunnels under the entire continent. When it surfaced, it would use its massive drill – dotted with laser emitters – as a ranged weapon instead, vaporizing chunks of the landscape along with its targets.

After the Crisis ended, many of its burrows were found to be structurally sound, and a decades-long project had been initiated to convert them into a high-velocity transit system. The East-West Burrow Passage used antigravity boosters to propel vehicles, at incredible speeds, from eastern Brazil all the way to central Peru, on the other side of the continent. A journey of several days was thus reduced to one of several hours.

Traffic slowed as they approached a queue of waiting vehicles. From her seat, Satya could see the entrance to the tunnel, the bright white light inside already making her uneasy. She brought her hardlight visor up to her eyes, lifting her hair so it would fall behind as she slid the visor into place.

Lúcio watched her with a strange expression as she did this. They had taken their seats from yesterday, except Satya now resided in the fourth seat along the left bench instead of the third. She had figured it was the furthest she could move away from the DJ without him noticing.

With her visor filtering out the harshness of the light, Satya was able to watch in awe as they entered the tunnel. They’d been required to wait until the previous vehicle had disappeared from sight, so all Satya could see through the windshield was a long circular tube, wide enough that it could have fit several lanes of traffic if it could have been accomplished safely, and lined with rings of light – the antigravity boosters – along its sleek, white walls.

There was no sound. The only way Satya could even tell that they were accelerating was the speed at which the lighter and darker rings began to process past the windows. Eventually, they were moving so fast that there was only one constant shade of white around them. There was no sensory indication that they were moving at all. It was no longer obvious how far away the walls were, or if there even were walls.

It felt like nothingness. A vehicle floating in empty space.

It would be like this for at least seven or eight hours. They’d already been driving for a while since breakfast, and Satya was considering eating some of her fruit when she noticed Lúcio staring intently at her.

When they locked eyes, he seemed to consider something for a few moments before finally speaking. “Can I say something, Vaswani?”

Figuring she wouldn’t be able to stop him anyway, Satya silently nodded.

“You know what pisses me off the most about you?”

Off to an excellent start…

“That I lose my cool around you,” he continued, his voice softening. “I don’t do that a lot. I can’t. Even when I’m up against the nastiest oppressive regime around, even when I have to watch people getting hurt every day, I still have to stay positive.”

Satya narrowed her eyes at that, and he explained.

“I have to be the leader my people need. They can’t be looking up to someone who’s out for blood, someone who’s gonna be all about hate and vengeance.” His last few words sounded almost apologetic as he broke away from Satya’s gaze and looked down at his feet: “Someone like I almost turned into yesterday.”

Satya could tell this was something he’d been thinking over, and his resigned silence ever since their argument now seemed to make a bit more sense.

“I have to set an example, be someone they can look to for hope, that things are gonna get better, just around the corner,” he said as he looked up to meet Satya’s gaze again. “Usually I can do that. Even when Vishkar’s nastiest are ranting and raving about ‘order’ and how their way is so much better, I can laugh because I know they’re lying through their teeth tryna make a profit.”

He let that sink in, before continuing. “But you? You actually believe all that crap. You actually think all that stuff they want to do is good for us. It’s… unsettling. It makes my skin crawl, gets me off my game. Greed? Wanting power? That I can understand, but you…” He paused, his eyes falling from her gaze.

It was a few long moments before he spoke again. “I guess it was always easier to think of you as some nutcase villain. I didn’t even want to try to understand you. It scares me, that you’re just like everybody else, but you think so different. It’s like, no matter how hard we try, we’ll never really all be on the same page.”

Satya remembered how adamant Lúcio had been about bringing people together, about uniting and speaking with one voice, acting with one purpose. His frustration with her made a lot of sense, actually. She was an affront to one of his core principles.

“But I guess now I have to,” he spoke up again. “Try to understand you, I mean. You’re not at all like I expected. You just seem… scared, I guess, and not just of me. It’s like you’re a whole different person without Vishkar backing you up.”

Satya really didn’t know what to say to that. To any of it, really. She might have an answer for him once she had time to think about it, but nothing she could say now seemed right. She didn’t want to thank him; it felt like conceding. All he’d really done was acknowledge there was a chance that he’d attempt to treat her like an actual human being in the future.

At her pause, he spoke again, briefly inclining his head upward in a gesture toward her visor. “Why are you wearing that?”

“It reduces environmental stimuli, so that I may continue to function effectively,” Satya said, grateful to be posed something she could actually answer.

“What?” Lúcio asked, confused.

“Bright lights, loud sounds,” she explained. “It filters them to manageable levels.”

Lúcio appeared somewhat taken aback, in what was perhaps concern more so than offense. “You mean like that stuff hurts you?”

Satya scoffed, condescension slipping into her voice. “You were not aware?”

Lúcio had nothing to say to that and sat back in his chair, deep in thought.

A silence passed between them, and after a few long moments, Lena’s voice broke it.

“Hey, loves…”

Satya felt her stomach lurch from something terrible in her voice, and felt a chill as she recalled that Lena hadn’t said a word since they’d been in the tunnel.

“Can you… I know it’s not a good idea to switch seats right now… but can one of you take over for me?”

Satya found the will to unbuckle her seatbelt – they were probably moving too fast for seatbelts to make a difference anyway, she reasoned – and start moving toward the front, figuring Lúcio wouldn’t be able to fit between the front seats with his bulky mechanical legs – whether they were prosthetics or some kind of exoskeleton Satya still couldn’t be sure.

After a short struggle, she took the left front seat next to Lena and recoiled at the haunted look on her face. Lena turned in her chair, her eyes locking on Satya.

“Oh, you don’t look so good,” Lúcio said with concern, now having leaned into the aisle space behind the two of them.

“I… I don’t think I thought this through, loves,” Lena managed weakly, her hands tightly squeezed around whatever parts of her chair she could grab easily.

“Do you need—” Satya started as she reached up to her visor, unsure of what she was planning on doing without it but not particularly caring at this point.

“No,” Lena shook her head. “It wouldn’t help. Can I just… look at you?” Her eyes were wide and desperate.

Satya’s eyes were drawn to Lena’s hands again. Cautiously, she offered one of hers.

“Oh,” Lena said, looking up from Satya’s upturned palm. “It’s okay. I’ll be okay.” She was breathing quickly in short huffs. “I know you don’t like…”

“Take it, Lena!” Satya pleaded, and Lena obliged. Lúcio offered his hand, too, and Lena took it as well. She squeezed them both tightly, as if clinging to life itself.

They sat like that for some time, and eventually Lena seemed to calm somewhat. Satya spent three long hours staring intently through the windshield at the endless white light, both keeping an eye on the absence of a road and trying to determine what about it cold have done… that to Lena. She got as far as noticing that the experience felt somewhat like flying, and remembered Lena’s hesitance at the subject, but felt that she was missing some key details.

At what they figured was around the halfway point, Lúcio took a shift at the front – they had to fold down one of the seats so he could get into the other – and Lena curled up on one of the benches, leaning heavily into Satya’s shoulder.

Satya had insisted it was alright, and held Lena close in her arms. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, or if it did, Satya didn’t notice. It meant everything in the world to feel Lena’s breathing even out.

She still didn’t know what was happening, exactly, but part of her didn’t care as long as she could help Lena recover from… whatever it was. She didn’t seem to be in any condition to talk about it, and Satya wasn’t going to make her. Everything else aside, Satya owed her at least that. Perhaps she’d get the explanation someday, but she didn’t need it now. All she needed right now, was for Lena to be okay again.

I’d rather not learn by having to watch things happen to you.




“Is that…”

Satya sat upright at Lúcio’s quiet, contemplating voice, realizing she had fallen asleep. She quickly noted that she could see the moving bands of light again and deduced that they were now slowing down. Lena stirred against her, having woken from a deep sleep as well.

Lúcio was leaning toward the windshield, staring intently down the remaining length of the tunnel as the exit came into view.

“Oh, y’all gonna want to see this!”

The exit point was somewhere in the mountains of Peru, Satya had known, but through the tiny circle that was slowly getting bigger, Satya could see an odd shape that didn’t quite fit with the rest of the landscape.

The sky was already starting to turn warmer colors as sunset approached, and a strange glow was cast on the mountains. But rising above all their peaks, at an angle, was a gigantic drill.

The road exiting the passage curved to the left, then gradually right, forming a wide arc around a stretch of ground littered with twisted chunks of weathered metal. Beyond it, leaning still against the side of a mountain, lay the husk of the subterranean omnic.

Past the drill at the front, the rest of it looked vaguely like a lobster. Mechanical, insect-like legs of varying sizes were mounted from its bottom and sides. The upper knees of the largest legs rose above its carapace even with the feet still planted on the ground.

The whole of the thing was pocked with holes and gaps where its armor had been blown away. Some of its legs lay across the ground behind it, having been rendered limp even before it fell. Odd strips of linked metal panels hung from its larger legs, which could presumably have converted to treads at one time, likely to allow it to move underground. There was a dusting of green scattered across its surface, where moss and vines had gradually attempted to reclaim it to nature.

The arc of the road gave Satya a long view of the wreckage. Lena even looked up, still drowsy but apparently feeling better.

They still had about an hour’s drive left through the mountains, and as the sun went down, they all noticed that they still hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Satya finally opened the fruit she’d saved, while Lúcio had some sort of pancake-based wrap he’d made. Lena just munched on plain, rolled-up pancakes.

Again, they reached the safehouse well after dark. This one was rather strange, looking more like it had once been some sort of observation deck. It was made of modular metal sections, and was built into the mountain. On the upper level, a long hallway lined with floor-to-ceiling windows peeked through the rocky terrain and faced out into the night sky.

Beside the exterior door, which was well-hidden by foliage, Satya noted the unmistakable sigil of Overwatch – the overlapped ‘O’ and ‘W’ forming something akin to a peace symbol – except with the detached upper section of the circle cast in lime green instead of the usual orange.

Ecopoint: Peru,” Lena explained as they entered. “Part of Overwatch’s environmental division. This one was monitoring geological stability. Y’know, cause of the omnic and everything.”

“And… nobody’s home?” Lúcio questioned as the three of them proceeded through darkened hallways, faint lights flickering on as the base’s systems re-initiated.

“When Overwatch shut down, the ecopoints were basically abandoned. No one ever went to check on them.” Lena visibly winced as she said it, and her voice fell again. “We’re… still a little guilty about that.”

Still hungry, they had a quick dinner of frozen rations. None of them spoke more than a few words all through the meal, but before they went off to bed, Satya and Lúcio both stopped Lena in the hallway.

“I’m alright, loves. Really, I am,” she insisted.

“Are you certain? You don’t have to…” Satya trailed off.

Spend the night alone, she had been thinking, given that the way to cope with whatever Lena was dealing with seemed to be to hold onto someone. But Satya had just remembered that she might already have plans for that evening, and didn’t have a choice in the matter.

“If you need anything, we’re here for you.” Lúcio finished for her.

“You know, loves, as much as it’s great to see you two working together on something, I really am fine. Just tired, that’s all.”

Neither Satya nor Lúcio had anything they particularly wanted to say to that, so Lena took the opportunity to take her leave of them. An ominous dread settled over Satya as she carried her suitcase to her room.

Chapter Text

Satya didn’t bother getting in bed that night. She wasn’t entirely sure what she expected to happen, but Sombra had said she would be in touch, and she didn’t seem like the type to give someone a few days to think it over.

She’d set her suitcase near her bed, which was off to the left upon entering the room, and had sat down in a swivel chair near a desk along the far wall, where she had angled herself to face towards the door. She again went over the details of the room, as if they would be critical knowledge going into tonight's predicted encounter. The carpet was a dark greyish green, while the metallic grey walls were striped at the midpoint with two dark red lines that were painted parallel around the room. They were only interrupted on the wall to the left of the bed, where a number ‘10’ was printed in the gap with the same paint. Satya had noticed similar lines and numbers in the hallway before entering.

Would Sombra even be able to get here? Satya wasn’t sure about that. They had just taken the quickest way across the continent short of flying, but Satya couldn’t be sure what resources the mysterious woman had access to. Perhaps she could simply go where she pleased, any time she pleased, given that she apparently had access to some sort of teleportation technology.

She had been invisible when they’d met, hadn’t she? Was she in the room right now?

Satya tensed up, immediately feeling as if she was being watched. “Greetings,” she said softly, giving a small hand-wave to the room in general, before feeling completely foolish.

As she reflected further, she felt a sudden chill, remembering the gun Sombra had pointed just between her eyes. In all the chaos surrounding the choice – no, the ultimatum – that Satya had been given, she’d nearly forgotten it. One possibility she’d left out of her consideration was the one where Sombra decided to kill her.

Satya’s trepidation was suddenly much, much more intense that it had been all day. She was shaking. Should she fear for her life? Why hadn’t she thought to before? Would Sombra do such a thing? It was certainly a possibility, she was a complete mystery to Satya, after all.

What else had she missed in her focus on the problem in front of her? What else had happened last night that she might have forgotten, neglected to consid—Oh.

The thought stuck in Satya’s mind as if it had been pinned there with an arrow, just as the room’s automatic sliding door opened and closed on its own.

“Oh. I see you were expecting me,” Sombra began as she decloaked, “I can already tell we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”

It was intimidating, it was said with a sinister grin, and likely implied a future for the two of them that might have been the farthest thing possible from fun. But the whole time Sombra had been saying it, Satya couldn’t pull her eyes away from the woman’s sleek purple-and-grey overcoat, those tight magenta-periwinkle-aquamarine stockings that she seemed to wear without shoes, the matching sheaths of the same material on her arms that Satya couldn’t quite think of the name for, those meticulously manicured bright pink nails, and most of all…

…the perfect gradient of color running through her hair, from what Satya presumed was natural dark brown to deep purple and a hint of white at the tips. The deep purple sheen of her lips and the fade of the same color around her eyes. Those small, neat gaps shaved in her eyebrows that Satya longed to run her fingers over. The simple metallic stud in her left ear lobe. The purposeful dot below the corner of her left eye. Her style was certainly … different. Not chaotic, but orderly in a different way, neat and well-kempt in its defiance. She was beautiful, Satya had to admit. The cybernetic augmentations, well… they only added to it, as far as she was concerned.

So, when Sombra reached the final few words of her introduction, Satya blushed.

Sombra’s eyes seemed to widen briefly, then narrow. “Is… something…” she started to say, confusion in her voice. She spread her arms out to the sides, looking herself over, apparently thinking she’d made some mistake in her wardrobe that Satya had found amusing.

Satya’s eyes widened in horror. Had she really just? How?

Does that mean I am…?

But I do not…

Satya was stirred from her thoughts by eyes staring intently into hers. Sombra had leaned down to her level, eyes narrowed skeptically. She was looking for something, apparently, though if it was a reaction, she seemed to now see only what she had initially expected to.

Sombra stood up, apparently deciding to set whatever she had just thought she’d seen aside for now. “So, amiga, did you happen to find anything that could help me out?” she said as she turned her back to Satya and paced a few steps away, examining her fingernails.

Does she… already expect the information?

“I… I have not had time to…” Satya hesitated.

Sombra turned and took a few quick, purposeful steps back toward the desk, reaching her hand out so quickly that Satya instinctively leaned back in her chair. One of Sombra’s long fingernails jabbed downward toward Satya’s face, hovering just over her nose.

“You have nothing but time,” she said with frustration, “I don’t have that luxury.”

Satya couldn’t keep her eyes off Sombra’s finger, several metallic loops along its length holding in place a pink tube of some kind that ran from her gloved wrist down to the long, pointed nail.

Would that be a problem if…?

Sombra turned away, bringing the hand back up in front of her face and making a point of curling her finger back into place beside the others. “I guess I’ll just have to pay Lena a visit, then,” she said wistfully as she made for the door.

Satya stood up.

Earlier that day, she might have assumed Sombra only intended to show Lena the Calado footage, but now… now she realized she couldn’t rule anything out.

Could she fight Sombra? She suddenly wanted to know. Another possibility she had not considered. Could she have set up turrets in the room before she’d walked in? Satya cursed herself for not thinking of it sooner.

Oh, you don’t want me to do that, do you?” said Sombra, before something crossed her face and she took a step back toward Satya, her eyes narrowed. “But you know something, don’t you?”

Satya recoiled, her mouth opening as she gasped involuntarily.

Sombra’s face softened – facetiously, with a false kindness Satya was all-too familiar with – as she tilted her head and made mocking puppy-dog eyes. “You know, I would be so happy if you would just tell me what you know. Would you do that, for a good friend like me?”

A hand reached up to touch Satya’s cheek, and with every fiber of her being, Satya brought her anger at Sombra to the surface, allowing it to stifle anything else she might have felt about the sensation. But she realized with a pang of sudden fear, when Sombra made a confused face, that she had somehow neglected to flinch or recoil at the contact.

Sombra pulled her hand away, wincing. She had something like… guilt on her face.

“There’s something off about you, amiga…” she began before turning away quickly, “I guess I’ll go see Lena after all.”

“There is a girl.” Satya found herself blurting out, horrified.

“Oh, is there?” Sombra turned back around, flashing that smile again. “What about this girl?”

“She’s…” Satya began slowly, feeling the walls close in around her as her heart sunk. “She’s a prodigy, having… developed a… proficiency for technology at a very young age.”

“…And?” Sombra pried, her fingers splayed and curved into claws as if ready to grasp the information as soon as it left Satya’s lips.

“And that’s all I know, I swear it.” Satya said truthfully. “It is all she told me.”

After reading Satya’s expression closely, Sombra’s face fell, her hands dropping back to her sides. “That’s really all you know, isn’t it?” She scoffed. “Useless.”

Satya’s heart started to rise again. “What do you mean?” she said as evenly as she could manage.

“A girl who’s scary good at tech?” Sombra said quizzically, before widening her eyes and lunging her face forward. “Do you have any idea how many of those there are?

Now that she’d put it like that, Satya, while startled, had to agree. She herself would have fit that description at one time, after all.

Sombra turned away, though Satya could see her arms tensing in annoyance as she did. She was silent for a long time, considering something.

Satya felt… relieved for the moment, though she hesitated to celebrate while she still had no idea what Sombra planned to do next. When she refocused, the woman appeared more relaxed, even hesitant.

With a softened face – not facetiously this time, it seemed – Sombra turned back around. “I guess it’s probably for the best that you didn’t push too hard just yet. You’ve only known Lena for two days, you don’t want to seem suspicious.”

Sombra walked to the door, allowing it to open, but paused in the threshold. She turned back to Satya, expectantly. “Follow me, amiga,” she beckoned, before walking out and letting the door close behind her.

Satya froze. Where was Sombra taking her? She considered for a moment, before deciding she probably had no choice in the matter, and moved to follow her. Satya tried not to think too hard about why she’d actually done it.

In the low light of the hallway, Sombra was standing near the wall of windows, fussing with something on one of her floating screens. As Satya walked over to her, she deactivated it, looking up and out over the landscape.

Satya did as well, standing some distance behind her. She noted how the mountains were silhouetted against the indigo, starlit sky. In the distance, she could even see the drill and one mechanical knee of the destroyed omnic peeking over the mountaintops. When she saw it, she realized just how much of the horizon was marked with the circle-cut scars of its attacks.

The world was so… changeable. Malleable. Anyone could bend it to their own vision, given enough power. Nothing was truly forever.

Sombra turned around, looking Satya over for a few moments before settling on her cybernetic arm. “How does it work?” she asked, her voice soft, curious.

Satya lifted her left hand, showing Sombra the emitter in its palm. “It is… very complicated. Creating solid material out of light is not a simple process.”

“Can you show me, then?” She took a step closer, her voice near a whisper. “Would you make something for me, if I asked?”

Satya considered for a moment, before nodding. Compared to everything else this woman had asked her to do… this was something easy.

Sombra leaned in, placing a hand on Satya’s left shoulder. She ran her fingertips down to the elbow, magenta lines spreading out in a circuit pattern from the touch of her nails.

“What are you doing!?” Satya asked, pulling away and watching with horror as her emitter flashed a pale purple for a split second before turning blue again as the lines across her arm faded.

Relájate!” she said, putting her hands up in a yielding motion, “I just gave you a design.”

Satya narrowed her eyes at the woman.

Did she just… hack me?

She held up the emitter, calling up the most recent blueprint and, sure enough, a blue wireframe structure built itself above her palm. It was a stylized skull, triangular markings around its eyes, likely some sort of sigil. Sombra’s? Was the woman pretentious enough to have her own sigil?

Sombra leaned down to be eye level with it, watching with fascination as the simple skull spun round and round.

It was… workable. A simple object, with no embedded technology. It had proper depth, hollow gaps for the negative space, it even had proper sizing information. Satya noticed a few odd lines that didn’t seem to serve the design, but for once she was able to resist the urge to correct every single mistake. It would work, and that was what Sombra wanted, wasn’t it?

Light rose from the emitter to fill the design. The glow was overpowering for a few moments, before the small hardlight object dropped into Satya’s palm. It was small enough that she could have almost closed her hand around it.

Sombra looked delighted. She reached out to pluck it from Satya’s hand, only to pause at the last second. “Can I?” she asked, looking up into Satya’s eyes.

Satya nodded, almost rolling those eyes. Why had this woman just now decided she needed to ask for permission?

Sombra held up the small skull, turning it over in her fingers, before slipping it into a pocket inside her long overcoat. “So, how did it go with Lena?”

“What?” Satya asked, confused by the question.

“We still need to talk about my end of the deal, don’t we?” said Sombra. “You’re not having trouble, are you, amiga?

She’s still serious about that?

“She…” Satya began, hesitant. The last thing she wanted was to tell Sombra about Lena’s apparent breakdown, so she thought back to breakfast, and the conversation afterward. “She… asks me about things I… do not wish to discuss, but… I cannot fault her reasoning.”

Sombra considered that for a long moment. “Could you arrange it so she finds out another way? One where you don’t have to talk to her directly?”

It was certainly an unexpected piece of advice in several ways, but for some reason Satya did see a familiar logic in it.

But no, it felt like cheating somehow.

“She respects that I have trouble talking about it,” Satya began. “Perhaps it is a problem that does not need solving, at least not right away. She has been very perceptive on her own.”

“Yeah, I guess she would be,” Sombra said quietly, cryptically. “What about Lúcio?” she asked before Satya could comment.

Satya was surprised again. “That was not part of the deal, was it?”

“No deal, this time. I just want to help out a friend,” Sombra said as if it should have been obvious.

“Erm… I still do not know what to make of him,” Satya began, uneasy about Sombra’s motives. “He seems willing to try to ‘understand’ me, but he will not move on his principles, and I will not either.”

“If you want my opinion,” Sombra began, and Satya didn’t at all think that she did, “you both talk an awful lot about choices and not having someone else decide for you, but you also both seem to think the choice you would make should be the only option.”

“It does not work like that!” Satya insisted. “It would be fine if it did, but… children stay with their parents. The decision is made for them. The only solution is for everyone to have better living conditions.”

“Oh,” Sombra conceded. “Well, you’ve got me there, amiga,” she said with a shrug. She broke her gaze away from Satya as she turned to look back out the window.

“Was never a problem for me, I guess,” she added softly.

Satya took a step toward the window, enough to see what Sombra was looking at. The hacker’s gaze fell on the drill in the distance.

Sombra didn’t need to explain. She looked… well, she looked young. Young enough that Satya had to do the math in her head. It had been almost three decades since the Crisis had ended. She could be in her late twenties at the earliest – much like herself, she noted.

“You must have been very young,” Satya pried, disguising her request for information.

“I don’t even remember what they looked like,” Sombra said quietly. “Sometimes I think I do, but I can’t be sure.”

The fear and uncertainty surrounding everything to do with Sombra went to war in Satya’s head, against everything she had ever taught herself she should do in this kind of situation. Eventually, her sympathy got the better of her, and she placed a comforting hand on Sombra’s shoulder.

Sombra recoiled, turning quickly toward Satya, her eyes wide.

With a startled jump, Satya pulled back her arm immediately as she instinctually brought the other upward, leaving both of them shaking awkwardly in the air in front of her while she struggled to decide what she should do with them.

Sombra tensed up for a moment, before softening her face and reaching slowly toward Satya’s wrists, which stopped shaking as she gently took them in her hands. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” she insisted, her voice warm and comforting. “Just… surprising, is all.”

Satya’s breathing slowed as she watched Sombra curiously. The strange hacker’s eyes lingered on hers only for a moment before she let go and took a step back.

“You should get some rest, amiga,” she said evenly, “get me what I want, and remember…”

She stood there for a moment, her eyes darting up and down Satya.

“…I know everything about you,” she concluded, as she dissipated into the familiar purple pixels.

It should have been frightening. It should have sent chills down Satya’s spine. It should have made her fear for her life, and some small part of it did. But Satya remembered how helpless she’d been to talk to Lena. She remembered how clueless, how ignorant everyone around her had been her entire life. About who she was, about what she needed, about what she wanted…

She hadn’t been able to explain it to any of them. She knew she appeared rude and arrogant, even when she was not trying to be. She knew that she often seemed inattentive or distracted, even when she most wished to engage. That she appeared cold and distant even when she desired comfort. Sometimes, she had found herself wishing people could simply know her, could see her for the person she truly was, in her thoughts, instead of who she seemed to be when she could not properly communicate.

But the way Sombra had held her hands so reassuringly, said exactly what she needed to…

Satya had to admit it. This person, this terrifying person might know everything about her.

And the idea was strangely comforting.

Chapter Text

NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

Hey em…

[Em]: What’s up?

so uh…

I slept with satya

[Em]: Wait, what?

its not my fault!

I was really tired

It was a long car ride

and she had a really nice shoulder!

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: Okay yeah that was pretty funny

sorry

its just that you joke about this stuff all the time so I thought…

were you really mad?

[Em]: I was surprised…

[Em]: when you said it was Satya.

emily

[Em]: I mean, I know she’s kind of emotionally distant or something

[Em]: but I thought you liked them colder than that ;)

EMILY NO

[Em]: Emily yes

[Em]: and you started it

I regret everything

[Em]: but seriously, you should just do it for science at this point

Em

[Em]: I mean her fingers must be like ice cold right?

Em

[Em]: On an unrelated note do we have any carrots in the fridge?

EM STOP PLZ

[Em]: What?

im laughing too hard

satya and lucio are going to think im choking to death

their already worried about me

theyll come in to try and save me

and then kill eachother since theyll be in the same room

[Em]: Okay yeah we wouldn’t want that

[Em]: I’ll stop

[Em]: wait

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: Why are they already worried about you?

oh

yeah

we took the burrow passage

[Em]: what happened?

inside its like your not moving at all

everything’s just white light

its like…

[Em]: Like nothing?

exactly

[Em]: Oh god, Lena!

[Em]: are you okay?

I am now

satya and lucio were there

and I slept through some of it anyway

[Em]: Is that when…

yeah

[Em]: Thank her for me

[Em]: I’m sorry I couldn’t be there

[Em]: but I’m really glad someone was

[Em]: and Lena…

[Em]: try to take better care of yourself, okay?

I wasnt even thinking it would be like that, love

I even warned satya first

[Em]: You’re always thinking about what you can do for other people.

[Em]: Think about yourself once in a while.

I thought you said I had good instincts?

[Em]: You do when you listen to them

[Em]: but I can tell when you’re not

[Em]: when you’re avoiding things that could help

[Em]: like you think you don’t deserve it or something

[Em]: Maybe you don’t care about what’s good for you

[Em]: but I do, okay?

[Em]: Other people hurt when you don’t take care of yourself.

em…

[Em]: I guess I’m just worried that…

[Em]: someday you’re going to do the wrong thing

[Em]: because you think doing the right thing is too selfish.

emily, love

Im not really sure where this is coming from

but I promise you I’ll try

believe me I kinda learned my lesson already

[Em]: and remember Satya and Lúcio are there for you.

[Em]: I’m sure they’d help if you asked.

Oh!

I just remembered

[Em]: What?

I’m such an idiot

satya asked where we were going

and I never got around to telling her

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: You do get distracted easily

yeah that breakfast was all kinds of insane

remember that idea I had?

[Em]: Lena, what did you do?

satya and lucio sat at separate tables

so I sat with both of them

blinked back n forth the whole time

[Em]: You didn’t…

yeah, love, I did!

kinda exhausting though, after a while

[Em]: I’d fucking think so

[Em]: but yeah, you should tell her

oh and lucio doesn’t know either

[Em]: Have you just been dragging them around the world

[Em]: without telling them where you’re taking them?

they know about Gibraltar!

Just not all the stops along the way

and its not like I know exactly where were going either

winstons supposed to update me today

before we set out

about those potentials

[Em]: Anyway, I have to go

[Em]: My shift starts soon

[Em]: But tell them, okay?

[Em]: Today, Lena

okay, okay

I think I know just when, too

as long as winston comes through in time

see ya, em!

[Em]: ttyl

[Em]: <3




Lena, like always, lingered fondly for a moment on those four letters Emily had typed out, then put her phone away and started down the stair module toward the kitchen. Satya and Lúcio would still be asleep for a while longer, so Lena perused the cold storage rations again for something she could use to make breakfast. There were plenty of options, but she still wasn’t sure what the others would or wouldn’t eat. Then again, she could always wait for them to wake up and make their own food, or at least place orders with her. They actually weren’t in much of a rush today, and it might be entirely pointless to set out without first coordinating with Winston.

So, Lena closed the storage cabinets for now and settled on a bar stool near the counter. Being in another Overwatch facility had Lena thinking a lot about their makeshift new home in Gibraltar. She wondered if any more former Overwatch agents had made it back there since she’d left. It was really lucky that Mei and Winston got along so well, but Lena hoped the two of them wouldn’t have to be alone for too long. Emily had promised to visit, at least.

It would certainly be a bit different than it had been last time. In a way, the recall felt less like soldiers returning to duty and more like a family all coming back home. Some wouldn’t be there, of course, but there’d be new people to welcome, as well.

Lena had felt alone for a long time after Overwatch had been disbanded. When she was there, everyone had treated her like she belonged. Sometimes she almost forgot how different she was.

Trying to make her way in the world with the chronal accelerator strapped to her chest had been a rude awakening. She’d been lucky, sometimes, since so many people knew her as Tracer and a lot of them still looked up to her, but…

She winced at the memories of the times people didn’t know what it was, didn’t understand why she needed it. She’d never been so scared as when she feared people would try to take it off of her. People she couldn’t even fight because, for all they knew, it was a perfectly harmless and normal thing to do to someone. They might have killed her without even thinking twice about it, watched in horror as she flickered away screaming right before their eyes until nothing was left of her. Just stood there, holding what they might have thought was a camera, part of some costume, or, god help her, a weapon they should take away first and ask questions later.

Lena just hoped that everyone like her could find a place like Overwatch, where they didn’t have to deal with things like that. Maybe even the Overwatch, now that it was back.

Lena, you have one new message from Winston.”

Athena’s voice roused Lena from her thoughts. “Thanks, A!” she said to the AI as she pulled out her phone again.




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [mtg1clgtleBR]

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Lena, how are you feeling? Athena told me what happened.

its fine, love, really

[mtg1clgtleBR]: …alright, just try to be more careful, okay?

I know I know

so where are we off to, love?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: There’s been another incident in Korea.

another attack?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Yes.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: The omnic is displaying new tactics.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: As we don’t have the numbers to intervene just yet,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Ms. Song has elected to delay her extraction.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: We’re arranging alternate plans,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: but you won’t be stopping there this time.

australia then?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I’ve decided Australia is off the table for now.

yeah figured as much

so all the way to russia?

she told us where yet?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Actually,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: there is a new location I hope you will consider.

another new recruit?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Not exactly.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I know it falls outside your original mission parameters,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: but I wanted to at least give you the option, if you’re willing.

so where to, love?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: You should probably read the letter yourself.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: And Lena,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: You don’t have to take this one if you don’t want to.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I realize this may be difficult for you.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: We can always send someone else.




Uneasiness set in as Lena opened the file Winston had sent her, and it only grew as she read through it, realizing where she’d have to go and what she would have to face when she got there.

But her resolve grew as well. She was determined not to let her personal feelings and regrets interfere with the task she had been given. An old friend was reaching out, after all. She wasn’t going to run and hide when someone needed her.




its okay winston

I’ll do it

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Are you sure, Lena?

yeah i can manage

ill talk to someone about it if i need to

promise

[mtg1clgtleBR]: That’s good to hear.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I think someone is being a good influence on you.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Athena has informed me that everything is in place

[mtg1clgtleBR]: for the next leg of your journey.

glad to hear it!

talk to you soon, love!




Dearest Winston,

(or whomever this reaches)

I apologize for having sent this via the channels for new recruits, as I only learned of the Overwatch recall in my correspondence with Dr. Zeigler. I am afraid that, in the anger you all must remember very well, I may have… misplaced my recall beacon quite some time ago.

I must also, of course, ask your forgiveness for my behavior. In my anger, I said and did many things that I take no pride in. I will understand, if you do not wish to chance such occurrences again.

In my travels, I have taken on the teachings of a wandering monk, formerly of the Shambali Monastery in Nepal. With the guidance of Tekhartha Zenyatta, I have put aside my resentment for my condition, as well as that I held for the assistance Overwatch provided, which I can now accept for the gift it was.

Now, I seek only to do what I can to best serve the world in these changing times. If you still have use for my talents, I would be grateful to be granted a position in the new Overwatch.

I currently reside at my master’s former monastery, awaiting your reply.

—a friend of one time, and hopefully once more,

Genji Shimada

Chapter Text

Satya had actually slept that night, but only because she’d already gone nearly two full days with only a few hours of meaningful rest. She’d fallen asleep thinking fondly of Sombra caressing her wrists, the gentle look in her deep, unnaturally blue eyes.

What broke Satya’s heart the following morning was the moment she realized Sombra had been the one to lure her to the window, and she had steered the conversation toward the subject of Lúcio, supposedly without any obvious benefit to herself. She’d chosen the location from which the omnic and its devastation could be seen, and prodded Satya until she’d brought up her fixation on the choices of parents and children. The moment they’d shared… had quite likely been engineered by the manipulative woman.

She’d done it.

She’d actually done it.

She’d fooled Satya into thinking they might actually have been friends.

Could she trust anything Sombra had said? Had she truly lost her parents in the Omnic Crisis, or had that just been another lie to garner sympathy? Satya couldn’t know for sure anymore, if she ever would have believed that she could in the first place.

Had the information Satya had given up truly been useless to her? Was she simply trying to convince her informant that she hadn’t been useful? For what purpose? To make her more desperate to be productive, for fear of retaliation? Or had it been to reassure her that she still hadn’t totally betrayed Lena and Overwatch, so Sombra could continue the charade of friendliness for a little while longer?

Had she done anything else when she’d hacked Satya’s arm?

All throughout breakfast and the first hour of their drive, Satya had tried to hide her trepidation as she’d run as many checks as she could think of on the cybernetic limb. She didn’t find any changes at all except for the design Sombra had left her, but she remained uneasy. She had no idea how advanced the enigmatic hacker’s technology was.

Sombra’s facial expressions and reactions had been… strange, to say the least. Satya was beginning to seriously doubt her previous assessments. She’d seen emotions cross Sombra’s face that she never would have expected, given the situation between the two of them. Perhaps she had been faking them, even being intentionally contradictory to toy with Satya, unless…

She recalled something else.

Sombra had turned her back to Satya several times that night, possibly to make certain Satya couldn’t see her face. Perhaps there had been something there, something she wanted to conceal but had not been completely able to.

Even if Satya’s interpretations had been reliable, she still didn’t have all the pieces. She doubted she could deduce much more about Sombra from their interactions thus far. She couldn’t even trust her previous deductions. Everything about the woman was… confusing.

Much about last night had been confusing.

Satya would have to face it eventually.

She is rather… pretty. And I noticed. I should not read anything else into it.

She couldn’t believe that lie.

She knew it had been much more than that.

I only noticed because I had been thinking about it at that very moment.

But had she been thinking about it because she had been afraid to think about it?

Hadn’t she only been afraid to think about it because she had thought about it in the first place? The first time? She felt a strange sensation at the memory of Sombra’s finger running down her arm.

It was difficult for Satya to accept. It wasn’t that she’d expected to be attracted to men, she had expected to be attracted to no one. Somewhere along the line she had resigned herself to the idea. It had seemed consistent with the order of things, another irrational impulse that would forever rest on the other side of the insurmountable fence from the space of logic and reason that Satya inhabited.

Or, perhaps it had been something Sanjay had said? He had never been quite sure about Satya’s place on the spectrum, she recalled. In the past, whenever she had doubts about something he had told her, Satya assumed he had been mistaken. Since finally realizing how deceptive he could be, however, Satya had slowly realized, with horror, that the only authority she’d really had on her condition may have been lying to her.

He had been right about most things, of course, but it had always been in his interest for Satya to be as useful to Vishkar as possible, had it not? Sanjay had made her believe that what Vishkar had done was in line with her vision of a better world, what else could the man have convinced her of?

Satya had always wanted to rid her mind of distractions, to focus on her life’s work and avoid anything that could have jeopardized that. She had convinced herself of that, or had perhaps been convinced of it, but she now realized that distractions had occurred.

In her search for answers, Satya remembered things she’d purposely forgotten. A few too-long glances at co-workers here and there. She had always set them aside, and perhaps would never have thought they had meant anything without last night’s corroborating evidence. She recalled that her mind had even wandered in that direction two days ago, at something Lena had said…

Lena.

Satya was briefly terrified. She had grown close to Lena over the past few days. Very close. And she had so desperately wanted to, but…

It was something different. Yes, she wanted to be closer to Lena. Indeed, it had felt right when she had comforted Lena, when Lena had comforted her. But that was the extent of it. It wasn’t that Lena was unattractive, now that she thought about it, but Lena hadn’t made her feel the things she’d felt about Sombra. With Sombra, something completely new had begun to stir insider her. She’d wanted to do things, have things done to her. She’d wanted to…

Satya wasn’t sure what she wanted to do.

Part of her hated what she now felt. Her desires were so… chaotic. Could she even indulge them without feeling disgusted with herself? Satya didn’t know. Perhaps she didn’t want to know. Perhaps she wanted to forget about the whole thing, even if she knew she was fooling herself if she thought that was even an option now.

“Hey, you alright there, Vaswani?”

Satya looked up to find Lúcio staring across at her, a look that approached concern on his face.

“I mean, I guess if I could do stuff like that, I’d do it all the time too, but…”

Satya looked down and noticed she’d been tracing shapes in hardlight again. She winced and quickly deactivated the emitter. “It… helps me focus my attention elsewhere,” she began, “I do not always notice when it happens.”

“I… well I wasn’t gonna say anything, but…” Lúcio hesitated, “the look on your face…”

Satya noted the implied question. “I was… working a problem.”

“It wasn’t about me, was it?”

“I can say, with certainty, that it was not.”

Lúcio seemed to relax somewhat, but retained an expression of unease on his face. He directed his gaze away from Satya, but she got the impression that she was still on his mind.

“What happened to you?” He finally asked, looking back at her. “I don’t mean…” he gestured vaguely at Satya and the space around her. “…whatever this is. It just… feels like something happened.”

Satya wasn’t in the mood to discuss it, but given what she’d been thinking about all day, she welcomed the distraction. Compared to everything else, it didn’t seem so difficult to talk about her past anymore. It wasn’t that she trusted Lúcio, but he’d already seen her be vulnerable, and she found she didn’t particularly care if he knew the whole truth behind her opposition to his ideology. Part of her hoped it would give him pause, perhaps put a dent in his ego.

“I was born in a place much like your favela,” she began, her voice even and nearly deadpan. “It was crowded, it smelled, and it was always loud. We had no money. We lived in the dirt and filth.”

Lúcio listened intently, apparently able to hide the offense he must have taken at her description. Lena also appeared to be paying close attention, even though her eyes were still on the road. From Satya’s position, she could occasionally glance up at her in the rearview mirror.

“No one was able to understand me. Why I acted the way I did, why the things that hurt me did so,” Satya continued. “My parents treated me worst of all. When I did not behave as they wished, they pushed me harder. The things that hurt me, they subjected me to, over and over, thinking it would help. Hoping I would learn to live in the filth because what other choice did I have?”

The shocked expression on Lúcio’s face grew more pronounced with every word she uttered. Lena was shaking in the front seat. Both of them were at a loss for words.

It was a distant memory for Satya. It was strange seeing them react like this, to something she had herself grown resigned to so long ago. Whatever additional feelings she had dragged to the surface by discussing it were miniscule in comparison to the drastic shift in her companions’ demeanors.

When Lena finally spoke, it was not directed at her.

“Athena?” she said weakly, pain in her voice. “can you pull us over, love?”

Of course.” Even the AI’s voice had a sadness in it.

They pulled to the side of the road, Lena quickly exiting her door and entering again through the door to the passenger section. They had been following a road down the center of a clear-cut section parsed out of the jungle around them. The street was lined with simple wooden buildings; barns and small shops, the odd roadside attraction. It was quiet and still all around them, but for the distant sounds of the jungle and the occasional passing car.

Lena sat down in the seat to Satya’s left, her hands stuttering awkwardly in front of her. Satya’s heart sank as she realized how in pain Lena was at not being sure if she was allowed to hug her or not. She could see it in her eyes and hear it in her shaking voice.

“I just… love, I know you don’t… but I don’t know how to…”

Satya offered her left hand instead, and Lena held onto the solid hardlight structure in both hands, her desperate grip somewhat reminiscent of that she’d held in the tunnel. Satya probably wouldn’t have minded the hug, she found herself thinking. It had mostly been okay when it was Lena. She just didn’t feel like she deserved it.

“I just wish I knew how to help you,” Lena finally managed.

Satya gave her a small, appreciative smile as a slight twinge of bewilderment filtered into her voice. “Lena, you have been all along.”

“But I didn’t know then, love. I didn’t know any of that.”

”You did not have to.”




They sat like that for at least fifteen minutes before Lena finally gave in to Satya’s insistence that she was alright and that they could keep going.

Lúcio was deep in thought again, and Satya sat back in her chair trying not to think about anything at all. She hoped to gain at least a moment’s peace of mind before approaching the morning’s topic once more.

She watched the jungle outside give way to a long stretch of sandy terrain.

“Uh, Lena?” Lúcio’s alarmed voice caught Satya’s attention. “I think we’re running out of beach.”

Satya turned to find that the Porpoise was fast approaching the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean… and showed no signs of slowing down.

“Where we’re going, loves, we don’t need beach!” Lena exclaimed with wild abandon.

“Lena!” Satya called in concern. What was she thinking?

“Athena?” Lúcio called in confusion, remembering who was actually driving. “You sure we’re goin’ the right way?”

Affirmative,” The AI replied, sounding mischievous.

The beach fell out from under them, the crests of waves splashing over the hood of the vehicle.

“Are you bein’ serious right now!?” Lucio shouted quickly, grabbing hold of the back of his seat just as Satya did the same.

“What’s the matter, loves?” Lena yelled over her shoulder. “Never been offlanding before?”

“We’re sinking!” Satya shouted as water rose quickly up past the windows.

“We’re submarining, loves!”

Sure enough, as soon as water had completely overtaken them, they actually increased in speed as they shot out horizontally, skimming just beneath the surface.

Underwater running mode: activated,” Athena chided.

“Could give us a little warning next time!” Lúcio remarked between deep breaths, his hand held to his chest.

“I… concur,” Satya added.

After a time, the ocean floor dropped out from under them, and there was nothing but blue all around.

“I hope you do not intend to cross the entire ocean in this small vehicle.” Satya said, worried.

“Course not, love! Just need to keep the next one out of sight from the mainland!”

The next one?

Satya narrowed her eyes at something coming into view far out in front of them. A white semicircle with a flattened bottom hung below the waterline.

The bottom of a large boat.

A door slowly opened as they approached, and the Porpoise slowed as it drifted into a large, water-filled chamber. After the door had closed behind them, the water started draining from the room.

“Watch your step, loves!” Lena called back to them once the chamber had filled with air. She cautiously exited the vehicle, checking her footing before making for a heavy metal door at the end of the room.

Satya and Lúcio exchanged a confused look before doing the same.

“Oh, you’re gonna love it here!” Lena’s words echoed as they ascended the stairwell. It seemed to go up for at least one more floor, but they stopped at the first level above the basement.

They stepped out into a wide, spacious landing area with tile floors, hallways off to the right and left, a half-wall on the left side across from them with a window to a kitchen, and just beyond it on the right, a carpeted lounge area with several large couches and a flat-screen TV.

“Welcome to the Beluga, loves!”

Chapter Text

As Lena gave the two of them the grand tour of the Beluga – Satya and Lúcio shared an eye-roll at the name – Satya actually felt somewhat at peace knowing they’d be staying there for several days. It was certainly no Utopaea, but the ship’s interior was orderly and pristine. It didn’t look at all cluttered or even lived-in – it had likely been floating adrift for some time with only Athena to watch over it, after all – and while their new surroundings only approached a unifying color scheme, there was a non-distracting simplicity to their decoration.

More than that, though, the space looked comfortable. There was a warm, welcoming presence to it that the cold, hardlight structures she was used to had lacked. Satya couldn’t quite place what she felt about it.

It had turned out that behind the kitchen area was a small dining hall. The open space to the right of the kitchen was a general waiting area, the lounge accessible on the far side of it. Two hallways ran backward on either side of the ship, passing the stairwell they had exited, a series of living quarters, and finally connecting to the rear of the ship where there were washers and dryers, showers, several restrooms, some rooms dedicated to machinery, and the exit to the aft balcony. The second level was much smaller, the stairwell exiting immediately to the control room. To the sides were access doors to the top deck. Through the large, sloped windows, Satya could see that the boat was already moving very quickly, though she hadn’t noticed from inside.

“It’s our Pacific mobile safehouse!” Lena explained. “We’ve got an Atlantic one too, I stayed in that one on the way out to get you.”

After the brief tour, the three of them took their suitcases to their rooms, then ate a large mid-afternoon meal in the dining hall – the kitchen had a cold storage locker much like the last safehouse had – with a clear view of the rolling waves through circular windows on the port side.

Lena ate quickly and finished before Satya and Lúcio, leaving the two of them alone at one of the metallic picnic tables as she left. “Be right back, loves. I need to go over a few things,” she’d said.

After a few minutes, she returned with an electronic tablet, apparently struggling for a moment to synchronize it with something above them. Satya felt uneasy as an overhead projector lowered itself from one of the ceiling tiles.

Shutters closed over the windows just as the lights above them dimmed, and Satya’s heart sank as a map of the world was projected over one of the pristine white walls. It was an intelligence briefing. Satya was going to learn things. For the first time in her life, she wished she could skip class.

“Whoa, is this gonna be on the test?” Lúcio joked in feigned surprise.

“Yeah, love, and I don’t see any notes in front of you!” Lena shot back.

“I’ll just copy off Satya later,” he jeered, giving the architech a friendly elbow jab. “And you don’t really see notes. You feel ‘em. Let the rhythm flow through you.”

Lena rolled her eyes at Lúcio’s wordplay, before looking back to her tablet. She marked a location that then appeared as a blinking green dot on the map, off the coast of Peru.

“Okay, loves. I know I probably should have gone over all this earlier, but to be fair, there were a lot of distractions, and not all of them were my fault.” She looked sternly at the two of them for a brief moment before her chipper smile returned. “So, it’s time I told you where we’re actually going.”

Having no other choice, Satya listened intently.

“Okay so, there were three other potential new recruits around the Pacific,” Lena continued, “but something came up and one of them delayed her extraction. The other two… well, we’re not too sure about them, honestly. We’re pretty sure they applied as a joke.”

Another dot appeared on the map – this one constant – just above and slightly to the right of India. On top of everything else, Satya felt a pang of more unease at the idea of being so close to Vishkar’s territory that eclipsed any nostalgia she may have otherwise felt about her home country.

“So, where we’re actually going…” Satya noticed a barely detectable unease, not unlike her own, in Lena’s voice as she continued. “…is here. An old friend of mine is meeting us at the Shambali Monastery in Nepal.”

“Whoa, hold up!” Lúcio whispered excitedly. “Like, the actual Shambali monks?”

“Yeah, they’ll be there, I’m sure!” Lena said, her excitement almost convincing. “But there’s another part of this meeting I need to get to, so…”

The map disappeared, replaced by a picture of a man dressed in black, wearing a white mask shaped like an owl skull.

“Overwatch has been facing off against an organization called Talon. Right now, we think they’re trying to start another Omnic Crisis. They’re the ones that assassinated Mondatta.”

There was a chilling silence in the air as Lena continued.

“This one calls himself ‘Reaper,’” Lena gestured to the mask-wearing man. “Somehow, he can turn into black smoke, teleport, all kinds of creepy ghost things. His shotguns have pellets laced with pulse energy, and… he really likes to do this.”

Another window opened, displaying security footage from… a museum of some kind. ‘Reaper’ had his arms out, his fingers splayed like claws – they looked like they did have claws on them – as he slowly drew his hands inward, black and red smoke swirling up around him. Once the shroud had coalesced, the masked man burst out of it, firing shotguns wildly. Red bolts of energy flew in all directions, leaving a splatter of burned spots across the walls and floor.

Lena seemed to tense up as she moved to the next slide: a tall, slender woman with pale blue skin, wearing a form-fitting stealth suit and a strange set of goggles with multiple red lenses.

“Widowmaker,” Lena began. “She’s a sniper. Has thermal vision, a grappling hook, proximity mines filled with poison gas… and she’s cold. Like, physically cold. She doesn’t have any body heat.”

She moved on to the slide after that, which featured a tall, muscular, dark-skinned man with… a rather disproportionately large, gold-plated cybernetic arm.

“Akande Ogundimu,” Lena explained. “Doomfist.”

Her voice was becoming more even again, but now there was a twinge of fear in it. Satya realized that Lena had quite likely had close encounters with several of the Talon operatives she was briefing them about.

“Since he broke out of prison, we suspect he’s taken a leadership role in the organization, so we’re not sure how often he’ll be in the field. If you do see him, though…” Lena paused, “don’t get too close to him.”

The slide changed again, and Satya froze.

A stylized skull, one Satya knew in intimate detail.

“We don’t know much about the Sombra Collective,” said Lena, “but we have reason to believe they’ve been assisting Talon with some of their most recent operations, including several attempts to infiltrate Overwatch’s servers. Otherwise, they’re a hacker group that seem to like to target corrupt institutions. It’s hard to say what their actual goals might be.”

Satya realized she couldn’t actually be surprised. She’d already pieced together that the woman was bad news, and had suspected that she worked for a rival organization to Overwatch. But… helping to create another Omnic Crisis? Would she really do that? Especially after… no, she must have been lying about that.

And this ‘collective’ business. Was there any truth to it? Was the hacker she knew as ‘Sombra’ one of many? Was she their leader? Or was it all a deception to throw Overwatch off her trail? There were only ever more and more questions surrounding that woman.

“Vaswani?”

There hadn’t been much more to the meeting, Satya realized as she was roused from her thoughts by Lúcio’s whispered voice. Lena was nowhere to be seen, perhaps having gone to replace the equipment she’d brought.

“Satya?” Lúcio tried again. “Is it still too weird if I call you that?”

“Oh,” Satya finally answered. “What is it you want?”

“Did Lena seem… off to you?” the DJ whispered, glancing cautiously over his shoulder. “I mean that was all pretty dark stuff, but it kinda seemed specific, y’know what I mean?”

“I suspect Lena may have encountered those operatives before,” said Satya, gesturing to the now-empty wall. “Talking about them likely brings up painful memories.”

“Can you talk to her?”

Satya was taken aback. “Why would you ask me to do so?”

“It’s not that she doesn’t talk to me,” Lúcio began. “It’s just, she’s always her cheerful self, maybe ‘cause I am, usually. She doesn’t seem to want to let her guard down if she doesn’t have to.”

Lúcio took a deep breath before he continued.

“And don’t take this the wrong way, Vaswani, ‘cause it’s way better than you were before, but you’re kind of a real downer sometimes.”

Satya had to laugh darkly at that.

“I guess what I’m sayin’ is… if she’s gonna talk about this, I think it’s gonna be with you.”

“I… I suppose I can make an attempt,” Satya said, hesitant about the idea of pulling herself even closer to Lena.

“Could you?” Lúcio said with gratitude. “I’m really worried about her.”

“You should not discount yourself, Lúcio,” said Satya, “You can be a good friend to her. But yes, I will try, so long as you do as well.”

“Oh,” he said, surprised at that. “It’s a deal!” He held out his hand, presumably without thinking about it.

Satya took it, evidently to the DJ’s surprise, and shook it evenly. As she did, she realized how odd it was, that they had reached this point when only a few days ago they had wanted to kill each other. Satya wasn’t quite sure what their relationship was now. A temporary alliance, perhaps? They had not discussed their ideologies for some time. That may have had something to do with it.

Part of it was… a concession on Satya’s part. Lena deserved a friend who wasn’t betraying her, and Lúcio could be that for her. Something about that felt good, that even in Satya’s situation, she could find a way to help give Lena something that would be able to last. The DJ’s bewilderment at her assistance would simply be icing on the cake. It was a lie Satya told herself to keep her own heart from breaking, but it was one with at least some small truth to it.




Satya lay back on her bed, having decided to take the remaining part of the evening to rest, to give Lúcio time with Lena, and to think a few things over.

The bed was larger than Satya was used to, and much, much softer. It was… different. Not exactly uncomfortable; the opposite, in fact. It was rather relaxing to sink partially into the thick sheets. The material felt refreshingly cool all around her.

She could hear music playing – Lúcio’s music – along with cheers and laughter at the other end of the ship, likely the lounge. She hoped Lúcio would be able to get through to Lena, thinking that she might then be absolved of the responsibilities the DJ had given her.

But if she did end up having to talk to Lena, what would she say? How could she get Lena to confide in her? How could she weave her words, the way she weaved strands of light, to create the circumstance where Lena would tell her what was really going on?

Lena, it is hard to tell when you are not alright.

Lena, I can listen… if there is something you wish to tell me.

Lena, I would rather not learn by having to watch things happen to you.

She winced at the idea of using Lena’s own words against her. It might be effective, but it would also invite further questions into her own troubles. Something about it was also cruel. It felt like cheating. To Satya, all of this felt like cheating.

Regardless, it could not happen tonight. She… should have thought it ridiculous that Sombra might be able to visit her on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She should have, but she had realized that she could never be sure of anything about that woman. Well, perhaps almost anything. Sombra should not be underestimated. That she was sure of.

So, she waited. She waited until the artificial lights – the living quarters were in the protected interior of the ship and did not have any windows to the outside – dimmed from white to yellow after dark. She moved from the bed and built a hardlight stool in the corner of the room. She… checked in the mirror to make sure she was presentable, then actually slapped herself on the forehead for doing it. This… this was a meeting with the enemy, she told herself, and nothing more.

She sat on the stool, and looked up at the intercom screen on the wall. Sombra was a hacker. If she couldn’t make it to the Beluga after all, she would contact Satya though technology, correct?

There was a knock at the door.

Well, that is new.

“You may enter, if it is my permission you seek,” Satya said, still facing away from the door. She did not wish to look too eager to set her eyes on the woman. The door creaked open.

“Satya?”

That was Lena’s voice.

And it was pained.

Satya whirled around, half-expecting to find Lena with a gun to her head.

“Oh! Didn’t mean to scare you, love!” Lena was alone, and looking rather nervous. “Why aren’t you in bed, love? It’s pretty late.”

Satya hadn’t paid much attention. “I… did not notice. Why aren’t you?”

Lena sheepishly crossed her arms over her harness. She was wearing those pajamas again, and Satya now recognized the pattern as the same octopus-creature that had been on the two-sided coin. Seeing the repeated image in color, Satya now suspected that it may, in fact, be some type of vegetable.

“I…” Lena finally began, “I just wanted to make sure you were okay, love. And… tell me if I’m doing that too much, alright? I don’t want to overstep…”

“I am fine, Lena, and it is no trouble,” Satya said, though she suspected Lena might have had an ulterior motive for coming to see her.

“Can we…” Lena started, gesturing toward the bed. “Can we sit down?”

Satya supposed she didn’t have a choice in the matter, and stood up. Lena rushed over and pulled back the covers to make enough room for both of them, and sat cross-legged on the side toward the foot of the bed. Satya awkwardly joined her near where the pillows were still neatly stacked. This was certainly not something she was used to.

“I’m sorry for asking you to talk yesterday,” Lena began. “I mean, you can if you want to, but what you said in the car today… If its easier, you can just tell me what you need me to do, and how I should treat you, and I won’t have to know why ‘cause I’ll just trust you.”

Satya’s heart sank at those words. I’ll just trust you.

“I just kind of… know how hard it is to talk about these things,” Lena continued. “I usually just pretend everything’s okay, that everything’s just brilliant, really, and it works, too. It all kinda stays below the surface if I really try not to think about it. I’ve just… well, I’ve had a lot of things happen recently that made me think about it.”

The room was quiet for a long time. The glow from the lights on the white walls, carpet, and sheets had made everything somewhere between yellow and pink. It looked much like a sunset, but it went on forever.

“I used to fly planes,” Lena finally said. “Got really good at it, too. Got so good they asked me to be a test pilot for a new plane. They called it the Slipstream and it had a time drive.”

“Then,” Lena continued, “something went wrong. It malfunctioned. One second, I was flying, the next I was nowhere. Just floating alone in nothing but… well, in nothing at all.”

The tunnel, Satya remembered. Lena’s hands were clutching the sheets around her, so Satya hesitantly offered hers.

“No, I can do it,” Lena insisted with a sad smile, and Satya put her hands back… she didn’t remember where she had set them before, so she nervously crossed her arms.

“I was alone there for months,” Lena went on. “After a while I started to… flicker back sometimes, but I was like a ghost. I couldn’t touch anything. It would all phase through my fingers.” She gripped the covers harder. “And I wouldn’t be there for long until I got pulled back away again.”

She managed to let go with one hand and move it up to tap on her harness. “Winston built me this. The Chronal Accelerator. It keeps me in one place. Keeps me solid. Keeps me from… from fading away.” Lena let out a nervous, cheeky laugh as she looked brightly up at Satya. “That’s why I wear it all the time.”

Satya had to admit that there was a comfort in knowing the reasons, in being able to form a complete picture. But she was not quite sure what to say or do at this point. Lena had refused her previous offer of comfort, and Satya found herself at a loss for how to help.

“It’s alright, love,” Lena said, apparently having noticed Satya’s conflict, “You don’t need to say anything. You’ve already done way more than you had to. I just… wanted you to know, so I could thank you… for yesterday.”

“Oh,” Satya said nervously. “You are… you are welcome.”

“I just… I know it must have been hard for you, love.”

All things considered, it might not have been the best idea to correct Lena on that assumption, but Satya couldn’t stand the idea of Lena believing she had made some impressive self-sacrifice when she truly hadn’t.

“It was no trouble, really,” Satya began. “I was not uncomfortable. It was actually quite… it felt good to be of help, I suppose.”

“Wait, you mean…” Lena perked up, confused but showing the beginnings of a smile. “I just thought you didn’t… that you didn’t like to be touched.”

“I usually do not, though it seems you are an exception, in most cases,” Satya explained, wincing as she remembered their meeting at the first safehouse. “Just… please do not grab my right arm from behind.”

“Oh, right,” Lena seemed to remember, “that was it, wasn’t it? The first time? Okay, love, I won’t. Just… still, y’know, thanks for being there. Em was really glad you could be there for me.”

“Who?”

“Oh, right,” Lena laughed, apparently at her own forgetfulness. “Emily, my girlfriend!”

Satya froze at the word.

Girlfriend.

Lena had…

So she was…

Satya had managed to avoid the subject for most of the day, but at that word, it all suddenly came rushing back to the forefront of her thoughts.

“Is that…?” Lena’s eyes narrowed skeptically. “That isn’t, like, a problem for you or something?”

Satya’s eyes went wide. “No! Of course not! I just…”

She couldn’t tell Lena. She couldn’t. Not without telling her about Sombra. Otherwise, how could she explain it? Lena might assume…

Regardless, some part of Satya didn’t want it to be true, didn’t want to acknowledge it and make it so. If she said nothing, perhaps she could simply forget about it. She wanted to. But she didn’t want to, did she?

Satya had to realize that if anyone could help her sort out what was going on with her, of course it would be Lena. She couldn’t afford to pass up a chance like this. Besides, Lena had already opened the door for telling only enough of the truth as was necessary, had she not?

“You’re not, like, jealous or something?” Lena asked at Satya’s silence, in a tone that somehow allowed it to be both joking and genuine.

Satya saw the opportunity and took it. “No, I… do not believe that is the case. I have reflected on it, and… while my feelings for you are intense, I must admit, they are not those feelings.”

“But you’ve… thought about it?” Lena prodded, surprised.

“It was a possibility I had to consider, given… recent developments.”

Lena’s eyes went wide. “Oh! So, you mean… You’re… You’re like…”

“I suppose so,” Satya admitted, to Lena and to herself. “It is… difficult for me to accept.”

“That you’re attracted to women?”

“That I am attracted to anyone.”

“Oh,” said Lena, perhaps not quite understanding, but not seeming confused or shocked either. She waited patiently for Satya to continue.

“I think… logically, rationally,” Satya began. “That is perhaps a simple way to put it. I prefer things in my life to be orderly. I require them to be. These desires, they are… chaotic. I am afraid of what they could mean for me, of what it means to… want things that may cause me distress.”

Lena’s arms were around Satya before the architech could react. It was… not uncomfortable physically, but Satya had a sudden pang of concern about the two of them being so close, given what they now knew about each other. “Perhaps we should not…” Satya began, trying to pull away.

“Satya, it’s okay!” Lena insisted. “It would be okay even if you were into me. You just told me I can hug you now, I’m not gonna give that up.” At her words, Satya relaxed a little. “You’re okay, love. You’ll get through this, I know it. Anything you need to ask, you always can. I’m here for you, love, I’ll help you figure everything out.”

Satya momentarily forgot about everything else in the world, getting lost in the sensation of… of not being alone. This wasn’t something she had to face by herself anymore, she realized. It wasn’t something she would always have to run from, something that would weigh on her the longer she went without addressing it. What had seemed like a million unanswerable questions, all pulling in different directions, was now a slow but steady path she’d started down. She had no idea where she’d end up, but now she at least knew which direction to walk in.

After a while, Satya remembered that they had been having a conversation at some point. “You… were about to tell me about Emily?”

“Oh!” Lena said, her face lighting up. “She’s great, Satya, she’s really great. Nice and kind and funny, you think I drive people crazy, she drives me crazy sometimes. And she’s really chill about all this Overwatch stuff, too. You can’t expect too many folks to eat dinner next to a talking gorilla, y’know?”

Satya searched for the correct response in this situation, eventually settling on “So, how did you two meet?”

Lena’s face fell, and she seemed to grow oddly nervous. “Oh… it’s not really a story I feel like I can tell, actually. Kinda personal. Sorry, love.”

Satya immediately felt a pang of guilt. “It is alright, Lena, I was simply…”

“…being polite?” Lena asked, with a sad look of understanding on her face.

“Indeed,” Satya answered apologetically. After a while, she added “It must be difficult… when the social convention is to ask that question.”

Lena smiled bleakly but brightly, and Satya got the sense that it was the first time someone had understood the position she was in so well. “Yeah, love. Exactly.”

Lena let out a yawn, and apparently decided that was enough for tonight. “Listen. Think about it, and whatever you need to talk about, I’ll be there to walk you through it. Okay, love?”

Satya nodded. “Thank you again, Lena.”

Lena slid off the bed, stretching her arms. “I should probably get going before I have to tell my girlfriend I slept with you again.”

Satya’s eyes went wide.

“Relax, it was a joke, love!” Lena said, holding back laughter.

After Lena left, Satya didn’t feel at ease for long. The calm and secure feeling she’d felt in Lena’s company slipped away, replaced by all the doubts and fears that still weighed on her conscience. Satya had just done everything she had told herself she shouldn’t. She had become even closer to Lena, perhaps closer than she’d thought possible. It would only lead to more heartbreak later. It was never going to last. It was a betrayal of trust; a false, poisoned friendship.

But this wasn’t a new feeling for Satya.

She had felt this way every time she had become at all close to anyone.

Satya could never keep up with the way everyone else interacted. That spur-of-the-moment thinking, the way people always seemed to know the right thing to say. No, Satya needed time to think. She thought logically. Everything was a problem to be solved.

She would imagine whole conversations in her head, spending ages trying to find that perfect thing she could say that would get someone to like her. She would guide conversations toward certain subjects, to make sure she could say something in a way that would seem natural. And it felt like cheating. It felt like playing people, having to think like this. She always felt guilty about it, like she knew something no one else did, or that pretending to be like everyone else was deceiving them about what she was truly like.

And the worst part about it, was that she did it anyway. She was so desperate to have companionship in her life that she would do things that made her feel terrible.

She couldn’t have real friends. She was isolated, alone, unable to engage in the world the way everyone else did. But she wanted people to confide in. People that would listen to her, people that could help her, and that she could feel like she was helping. She wanted those warm smiles, tender touches, shared laughter and tears. She would do anything to make friends, to have that relationship with someone, even if it wasn’t real. Even if the only way she could do it was to manipulate people into—

Oh.

Oh.

Chapter Text

Lena didn’t fall asleep right away. She fell snugly into her nest of pillows, quite predictably unable to think of much else besides the story she didn’t feel like she could tell. It wasn’t exactly the most convenient thing in the world that everyone always asked how she and Emily had met.

As if every relationship boiled down to some cute, happy memory people could ‘ooh’ and ‘aww’ over. It wasn’t that it was a sad memory, really, when Lena thought about it. It was just… happy in a very different way than the kind people were usually looking for. ‘She asked me to dinner and that was that,’ Emily had usually settled upon, after the two had shared a nervous glance. Lena wasn’t quite comfortable with how that version of the story made it seem like her fame had played such a determining role in Emily’s decision to date her, but she never argued the point.

Her thoughts drifted again to those years after the fall. She didn’t like to think about that time, at least how it had been at first. She didn’t talk about it, either; that time when the ever-positive mask she always wore as Tracer had been the hardest to maintain. Even when Winston had ordered the recall, she’d shown back up, chipper as always, like she’d never even left.

Emily was the only person she’d told the whole truth to, and probably the only reason she’d made it through those years relatively unscathed. The world hadn’t been kind to her, then.

The world wasn’t kind to anyone, really, and there were some things even heroes couldn’t fix.

But that night, Lena hadn’t been a hero.




Evening was fast approaching, and Lena had decided to take the scenic route.

By that, she meant one particular row of apartment complexes that formed a neat procession up a gradual hill, spaced close enough together that she could blink across from one upper-floor balcony to the next. It was a quick way to get back to her own apartment without running into people on the streets, and the view of the sun setting over King’s Row was simply breathtaking.

As one of her blinks landed her near the large green fronds of a potted plant, Lena was startled at the sight she hadn’t seen from the other side of it. Flowing locks of curly red hair fell delicately onto the back of a woman leaning against the railing, looking out toward the city.

The woman paused just a moment before looking around to see what the noise had been, and her eyes went wide in shock as they met Lena’s. “You’re…” She shook her head back and forth, her hair trembling as she did. “You’re Tracer! What are you doing here?”

“Sorry!” Lena put her hands up in surrender. “I didn’t think anyone would be up here… which I now kind of see was a dumb thing to think given that people do live here.”

The red-haired woman chuckled at that, showing a tiny blush and a gentle smile that both quickly vanished.

“Okay, well, again, sorry for bothering you,” Lena stuttered apologetically, her hands remaining in the air as she walked to the other end of the balcony. “I’ll be out of your hair in just a second, love!”

But as she stood there, ready to blink across to the next building, something occurred to her. Lena didn’t exactly get out much these days, ever since Overwatch had been disbanded. She could really use the company. It would sound pretty desperate, of course, but she was getting kind of desperate, wasn’t she?

And this girl was kind of cute…

“Hey, do you… wanna go somewhere?” The words left Lena’s lips before she could talk herself out of them.

“Uh, what?” the woman asked, seeming quite confused.

“Like… did you eat dinner already?”

The woman paused, considering something. “No, I guess I didn’t,” she said quietly.

“I mean, like…” Lena scratched the back of her head nervously, putting on her best attempt at nonchalance. “You wanna… go get something to eat, then?”

“I…” the woman looked stunned for a moment. “I don’t really have any money…”

“Don’t worry, love, it’s on me.”

The woman eyed Lena skeptically, her gaze lingering for a long moment of what seemed to be careful consideration. When she finally spoke, she had an amused, almost disbelieving smile twisting across her face. “Okay… Tracer. I guess I’ll go to dinner with you, then.”

Lena offered her hand, suddenly having to devote much more effort to keeping her composure. “Lena,” she said. “You can just call me Lena.”

“Emily,” the woman said quietly as she shook Lena’s hand. “So, Lena, you have anywhere in mind?”

“I might know a place.”




Emily seemed nervous all the way to the restaurant.

“It’s okay, love,” said Lena, “you don’t have to treat me like some celebrity or anything. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself, I’m probably gonna do that first anyway.”

All the furniture in the restaurant was dark, stained wood. The walls and carpet were a deep forest green, and dim overhead lights made sure the tables were bright while everything else was cast in rather relaxing semi-darkness. Lena chose a table near a dark wooden railing, on the other side of which was the staircase leading down to the lower level. Emily gave Lena the oddest look when they sat down, but said nothing.

“So, what are you doing these days, Lena?” Emily asked. “Still in the hero business, I guess?”

“Actually, I work here.”

Emily seemed skeptical. “Isn’t it kind of cheap then, bringing me here?”

“I’m not exactly made of money, love.”

An omnic waiter took their drink orders, and Emily watched their metallic frame rather intently as they left to go fill them. Then something else seemed to catch her eye, and she took a glance around at the other patrons. Lena followed her gaze to find quite a few customers with extensive body modifications. There were even several omnic customers, both sharing tables with humans and with each other, presumably there just to socialize since they didn’t need to eat, themselves. It was a frequent sight for Lena, but Emily seemed rather taken aback.

“Something wrong, love?” Lena asked cautiously.

“No,” Emily said quietly. “Just… I didn’t realize there were still places like this so close to King’s Row.”

“Yeah…” Lena said, meeting Emily’s quiet tone. “It’s not real great here, but there’s always places to hide away for a bit.”

“I have to admit,” Emily began. “I used to not really think about it. It just wasn’t my problem, you know? But now… I guess it wasn’t so long ago most places like this would’ve thrown us out, too. Some of them still do, really.”

“Yeah,” Lena said casually. “I guess if everyone was alright with Overwatch, we’d still be around.”

Emily gave her an odd look, sighed, and looked down at the table.

Lena smirked and raised an eyebrow. “That wasn’t what you were talkin’ about, love, was it?”

Emily blushed.

“Oh? So, this is a date.” Lena’s eyebrow went further into her hairline and she held back a chuckle.

Emily’s face was as red as her hair, but she just raised an eyebrow right back at Lena and gave her a slight shrug.

The waiter chose that moment to bring their drinks and take their orders, and they both realized, with embarrassment, that they hadn’t even looked at their menus.

“What are you getting?” Emily frantically asked Lena.

“I know I should probably order something fancy to impress you, love, but really I just want fish ‘n’ chips…”

“Two fish ‘n’ chips, please.” Emily told the waiter, holding up two fingers and smiling at Lena.

Lena smiled back lovingly, her cheeks bright red. I like her already.

“Wait, so… are you really…” Emily asked with her eyes narrowed after the waiter had left.

“What?” Lena said with her eyebrow raised again, “You didn’t think a superhero could be a lesbian?”

Emily’s eyes went wide and she glanced nervously around, as if scared that someone might have heard. Lena found the reaction rather odd, and somewhat concerning.

“It’s okay, love. They know me here, we’re fine.”

Emily seemed to relax at that, remaining quiet for a moment. “You could’ve said something,” she said with a sigh, keeping her voice low.

“I… just did, didn’t I?” Lena asked quizzically.

“I mean before,” Emily clarified, her gaze falling to the table. “Publicly, I guess. I mean, I don’t want to tell you how to do things, but… it could’ve helped.”

“Is something…” Lena began, concerned. “Is there something you wanna talk about, love?”

“No!” Emily snapped, her sudden hostility startling Lena. “Sorry,” she said after a moment. She had relaxed again but her voice wasn’t exactly apologetic. “Just get on with it, I guess...”

“Okay, love…” Lena acquiesced, dropping the topic. She felt uneasy.

They were both quiet for a while. Lena got the sense that there was something troubling Emily, but that she was very determined not to burden anyone with it, or perhaps not to drag down the mood, in general. With an internal sigh, she supposed that meant they had a lot in common, really.

Eventually the waiter came back with their food, setting two large plates of fish ‘n’ chips on the table between them.

“I don’t really know what I said, love,” Lena began cautiously, holding up a vaguely rectangular chip she had been about to eat, “but can we just…”

“Yeah,” Emily interrupted, seeming relieved. “We might as well have a nice dinner while we’re here.”

“That’s kinda the whole point, love,” Lena raised her eyebrow again.

Emily laughed at that, holding her head in her hands. “You are something else, Lena,” she finally said, moving her hands back to her cheeks and gazing into Lena’s eyes.

That made Lena blush.

They talked and laughed for the rest of the meal, telling witty jokes, exchanging stories, and just taking long moments to stare at each other, giggling as the silences went on and on. Emily seemed… happier the more they just joked around like any regular two people out on a date. Lena had to admit, too, that she was finding it easier than usual to maintain her cheerful demeanor. Just the normalcy of it… it was different. Good different. Something grounding, to keep her from being alone with her thoughts for too long.

She also had to admit that the company wasn’t half bad, either. She could get used to this.

“This was really nice, Lena,” Emily said as they got up to leave, a strange sadness in her voice. “Thank you.”

“I really had a great time with you, Em,” Lena smiled warmly. “Let’s do it again sometime, yeah?”

“Just…” Emily hesitated. “Let’s just go,” she said finally, sounding resigned.




Emily was silent as they walked back to her building, something like frustration or bewilderment mounting in her expression. Maybe it was a bit of both.

“You’re actually taking me home…” she said at one point, sounding oddly like she didn’t believe it.

“That’s what I’m supposed to do, innit?” Lena replied, having no idea what the woman was on about. “I’m not gonna just take you out to dinner and leave you there.”

“You’re not being very responsible either way,” Emily replied with a dark laugh.

They walked in silence under the streetlights, and then under the spotlights of the row of apartment complexes. As they entered the building through the front door, ascended the stairs, and walked down the hall to the apartment, Emily still didn’t say a word. That deeply troubled Lena.

“Okay, love,” Lena said, still confused. “You wanna say anything?”

No response. Emily stared blankly off into space.

“Well… Goodbye? You’re acting really strange, I don’t…” Lena paused a moment. “I’m… just gonna leave you be for a while.”

Lena walked back out onto the balcony, the cool night air giving her a slight chill. It wasn’t nearly as chilling as the look in Emily’s eyes had been. Lena knew something was wrong, but for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what. The dark blue, starry sky over the distant city didn’t give her any ideas, either.

She stood there for a while. She actually had had a great time with Emily. Before, at least. There had been something off, of course, but she’d really felt like she’d gotten Emily to open up more as the night went on. But with things the way they were now… Lena got the distinct sense that she probably shouldn’t leave just yet.

“Lena?” Emily called from the open doorway. She was sunk low into her shoulders with her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Her voice was quiet, but there was a trace of something like anger building in it as she continued. “Why did you bring me back up here?”

“What?” Lena asked, turning around to face Emily. “What else would I…”

Something occurred to Lena, and when she spoke again, she did so cautiously.

“Did you…” Lena hesitated, her eyes narrow. “Did you want me to take you back to my place?”

Emily blushed, seeming flustered for only a moment before regaining her composure. “You can stop, Lena.”

“Stop what, love?”

“Pretending?” Emily scoffed. “I’m not stupid enough to think you just happened to run into me.”

“I… what?” Lena was very confused.

“I know who you are, Lena. I know you always need to be the fucking hero, but you can’t always fix everything. Just because you give me one good night out doesn’t suddenly make everything better.”

“I really have no right clue what you’re talking about, love,” Lena was growing very uneasy. “This is where you live, innit?”

Emily scoffed again. “Not for fucking long, Lena. I got cut off. They kick me out at the end of the month. I guess I’m just not someone they can be proud of anymore.”

“Wha… Why didn’t you say anything?” Lena’s jaw dropped. “I can help you, I just need to—”

“Of course you can fucking help,” Emily’s voice was dripping with condescension. “All you do is fucking help. You think you can help everyone, right? Like it’s a fucking game. Am I just another point to you?”

“I really didn’t know you needed help, love, I asked you to dinner!

“What the FUCK did you think I was doing up here, admiring the view?

A haunted look fell over Lena’s face, a horrible gasp escaping her throat as she drew in an uneven breath. “Emily, I… Oh, God…

Emily’s face slowly morphed into a similar expression as she saw Lena’s, tears welling in her eyes. “You… actually didn’t fucking know, did you?”

“I’m really not very observant,” Lena said weakly through tears of her own.

“But, then… why?” Emily started. “Why would you do that for me?”

“I was just… I was just lonely, okay?” Lena admitted, to Emily and to herself, her voice bitter with a sad exhaustion as the walls she’d been building up around herself for so long finally collapsed. “I lost the only family I had left. They’re all bloody scattered to the wind, who knows where, and where am I? Out in a world that doesn’t feel like home anymore, that I don’t belong in anymore, not with this thing I have to wear, not when everyone’s either too embarrassed or too scared to even talk to me. All I do every night is sit at home, alone, reminiscing about times I’ll never get back, so can you blame me for wanting to do one normal thing with someone I thought was kinda cute to take my mind off all that?”

Emily had been listening in stunned silence, her arms hesitantly uncrossing as she took small but noticeable steps out across the balcony toward Lena.

Lena took slow breaths. “I’m sorry, I’m... I’m sorry you had to… hear all that.”

Emily was looking at her with strange eyes. After a long moment, she laughed bleakly through her tears. “I guess I kinda screwed up the normal part, didn’t I? Sorry about that.” Another pause. “Did you… really think I was cute?”

“Love, you’re…” Lena was sobbing, thinking of Emily’s long, red hair, her pale, freckled skin… but also her laugh, her smile, how she half-shrugged with her blushes as if to say ‘yeah? so what?’ and how she’d set her head in her hands and gazed lovingly at Lena across the table. “…you’re beautiful.”

Lena closed the distance, tears running down her cheeks as she pulled Emily into a tight, warm hug. Emily brought her arms up around Lena’s shoulders and relaxed against her, sobbing into one of the straps on her accelerator and holding on tightly as Lena walked both of them back inside and pulled the door closed. Lena sat them both down on a low, cushioned bench near the doorway, her arms still tight around Emily.

“I don’t… I know… I don’t know what you want me to say, I just…” Lena stuttered.

“We don’t have to talk now,” Emily said quickly, letting go for only long enough to wipe away tears before throwing her arms back around Lena, more tightly than before. “We’ll have… oh, umm, right, is it… it’s… probably too soon to ask for a second date, right?”

Lena couldn’t help but smile. “I really did have a great time tonight. I’ve just been… it’s been real bad for me, being alone. I’d really like it if… if I didn’t have to be, anymore.”

“Yeah, same.” Emily took a deep, shaking breath. “I… I’m sorry I got mad at you. None of this is your fault, you just walked into it… or, teleported into it, I guess, really.”

“I’m really glad I did, Em,” Lena said, laughing bleakly. “I’m really glad I did.”

Emily let out a pained cry that turned into more sobbing. When she spoke, softly, her voice was strained but clear.

“I’m really glad you did, too.”




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

hey em, you up yet?

[Em]: Yeah, only have a few minutes to talk though.

that’s alright, love

[Em]: So, what’s up?

[Em]: You need to talk about something?

not really

just thinking about you

[Em]: I was thinking about you too, Lena

you were?

[Em]: Actually no, I was thinking about which sweater to wear today

[Em]: But I thought about you last night

[Em]: That counts, right?

lol

I love you, em

[Em]: I’m gonna pretend you meant that in a sweet way

I did though

really

[Em]: So how are things with Satya and Lúcio?

well I told them where were going at least

[Em]: About time

[Em]: They still at each other’s throats?

actually theyve kinda mellowed out I think

im pretty sure there conspiring to make sure im okay or something

[Em]: Please tell me that wasn’t your plan, Lena.

no but ill take credit for it

[Em]: I knew you could do it, Lena

[Em]: Anyway, I have to leave now or I’ll be late.

[Em]: ttyl

[Em]: <3

can I

[Em]: What is it?

can I just say I really appreciate

how you always put ‘talk to you later’ at the end like that

[Em]: That’s why I do it, Lena

[Em]: It’s a promise

Chapter Text

Satya had a plan.

She had answers now, potentially, not just questions. Patterns fell into possible alignment, and after so much fear and guilt and confusion, she had a path forward.

Sombra hadn’t visited her at all that night, though Satya still could not be sure if their location had been the cause, or the fact that Satya had spent the evening with Lena. Perhaps the hacker couldn’t reach them on the Beluga, after all. Satya would find out for certain tonight, she thought.

Satya had done a better job of budgeting her time, spending an hour or so after her realization forming a basic outline of everything she would need to consider in the morning, then falling into a deep sleep knowing she finally had a way out of all of this.

She sat on a hardlight stool near one of the large, circular windows in the lounge. She watched the rolling waves outside while thoughts danced in her mind.

She couldn’t be certain, of course.

But it was the only explanation she had.

Sombra had manipulated her. She had planned out every interaction they’d had, every moment they’d shared. But Satya no longer felt she had to wonder about the woman’s reasons. About why she’d done it all. That much was finally clear.

Sombra wanted this.

She wanted… a friend, perhaps, if her words were anything to go by. She wanted casual conversations, exchanges of favors, mutual benefit. The feeling of being close to someone. She wanted those things perhaps as desperately as Satya did, given the lengths she went to.

But, like it had for Satya, something made those things just out of reach for Sombra. Something in her life had forced her to these lengths. She did lead the life of a criminal, could that be enough? Would she really never have had the chance to form close relationships outside of the individuals she targeted for blackmail?

That was the one burning question left for Satya: the reason behind the reason. There was really no way to be sure. It could easily be something Sombra kept hidden. She might even require these forced relationships because something was preventing her from opening up about herself. She had, after all, created a scenario where she could have all the benefits of a friendship without ever telling any of her own secrets. There could be something to that…

But after some consideration, Satya had decided that she didn’t need the reason. She and Lena had taught each other that much, after all.

Satya didn’t need to know what had made Sombra the way she was. She only needed to figure out what she could do to help.

Because that was what Satya intended to do.

She would be a friend to Sombra the way Lena had been for her.

It wasn’t the most logical decision, of course, but it was the best option Satya had. She had played along with Sombra’s deal on the condition that she would find an alternative solution, and she doubted another would present itself. If she could give Sombra something she truly wanted but didn’t know was on the table at all, something real… there was a chance that might change things. There was a chance Sombra would let her out of the deal without revealing the footage. There was a chance Satya would be able to remain with Overwatch, to remain friends with Lena...

It was a chance Satya had to take.

She would have to figure something out. She would have to formulate a plan, a strategy for manipulating Sombra into being her friend. And this time, she wouldn’t feel guilty about it. Sombra had done the same to her, had she not? They were both playing the same game, and how could it feel like cheating this time if she was playing against a hacker?

Perhaps they deserved each other, Satya thought darkly.

“Satya! Good morning, love!”

Satya whirled around in time to see Lena wave as she walked into the lounge. The pilot took a couch seat on the side of the window Satya had been most closely facing towards.

“A good morning to you, Lena,” Satya said, giving her a slight nod in greeting.

“I guess you do have a lot to think about,” Lena said, gesturing out the window. “I’ll leave you be if you want, but just let me know if you need me for anything. Alright, love?”

Satya was yet again thankful that Lena could tell when she might need space. “I… require more time with my thoughts at the moment, perhaps we could speak later?”

“Of course, love,” Lena gestured to the kitchen. “I think there might be some fish ‘n’ chips in the freezer. I’m gonna go try an’ make some. We can talk tonight if you want.”

“Perhaps sometime in the afternoon, or tomorrow. Tonight…”

Satya didn’t know for sure whether Sombra could reach the Beluga or not, but hoped that tonight, she could find out for sure. Besides, if it had been Lena’s presence that had prevented her from appearing the night before, it might not be the best idea to keep the hacker waiting two nights in a row.

“Tonight, I would… prefer to be alone.” Satya hoped that wouldn’t invite Lena to ask questions.

Lena seemed confused for a moment before… blushing, and apparently holding back laughter. “Okay, love! Say no more.” she said as she put her hands up and quickly set off for the kitchen.

Satya watched her leave with narrowed eyes, confused about the woman’s rather odd reaction. She supposed, at least, that whatever Lena had thought meant she wouldn’t pry, and decided to let it go.

But Lena had reminded her of another factor in the equation.

Sombra’s contact had been… rather intimate. Satya couldn’t be sure of the hacker’s motivations, but neither could she discount the possibility that the woman was interested in something more than friendship with Satya.

Despite how logically she’d thought about it, if the plan worked Satya intended her friendship with Sombra to be genuine, or at least as genuine as was possible for the both of them. In that light, she could at least attempt to consider her feelings on the idea of Sombra as a romantic partner.

She couldn’t exactly reject the idea outright. There were certainly many, many things that Satya should have objected to, but none that she could actually blame the hacker for without also incriminating herself. Sombra worked with Talon, yes, but Satya herself had, until very recently, worked for Vishkar, had she not? Sombra used deception and manipulation to get what she wanted, but Satya could not help but feel that she was guilty of something similar. Sombra had likely killed people and done other horrendous things in her dealings with Talon, but… Calado.

They were more alike than Satya cared to admit.

Satya’s own desires, of course, were a given, and against all logic and reason she hoped Sombra reciprocated, despite all the additional complications that would bring. First and foremost…

How many of those desires could she actually act on?

Satya found that she wanted to do… a lot of things, and… well, not all of them were so unappealing. But some of them were, and what frightened her at her core was the thought that she might not be enough. That perhaps she shouldn’t have gone through the trouble of having these feelings in the first place if she could never be fully available to someone. What business did someone like her have, wanting a relationship at all?

Satya stifled that thought, deciding it was something she should find time to talk to Lena about before she spiraled any further.

She supposed Sombra would be understanding, at least, of her hesitance. As much as their relationship thus far had been one of coercion, Satya didn’t actually feel afraid that the hacker would push her to do anything she wasn’t comfortable with. Even over their two meetings, she had noticed a change in Sombra’s attitude toward physical contact, as if she’d become more hesitant about using those tactics against Satya. Had that meant…

Had that meant she had already started to view their relationship in a different light?

Satya’s heart fluttered at the idea, and a warm feeling washed over her, not unlike what she’d felt when Sombra had comforted her by the wall of windows.

There was something there. Something kind and concerned and loving buried beneath whatever was weighing on Sombra, making her feel the need to act the way she did. And Satya would find it.

“Hey, Vaswani, are you okay?”

Satya looked up from her musings to find Lúcio staring down at her.

“It’s just…” he continued, confused but with a smile forming on his face, “I’ve never seen you look this… happy, I guess. It’s a good look for you!”

“I suppose I’ve just…” Satya stared out into the rolling waves. “…solved a problem, of sorts.”

In the reflection, she saw Lúcio raise an eyebrow. “You gonna invite math to dinner, first?"

Satya giggled as she looked back at the DJ, still smiling brightly. She supposed she hadn’t felt like this a long time.

Actually, she supposed she hadn’t felt like this ever.

“Whoa!” Lúcio took a big sniff of air. “Something smells good in here, what’s cookin’?”

“I believe Lena is attempting to make her favorite breakfast,” Satya said with a smirk.

“There’s enough here for everyone, loves!” Lena called from the kitchen. “You can take a seat if you’d like, it’s almost ready!”

“Hey, Athena!” Lúcio said, looking vaguely upward toward the ceiling. “How concerned should we be about Lena’s cooking?”

I have been instructed not to respond to this inquiry.”

Lena’s laughter could be heard from the kitchen, and Lúcio rolled his eyes, shrugged, and started off toward the dining hall.

Satya rose to follow, feeling for once satisfied with having spent enough time planning for the future. She could do with a good meal and some relaxation. She could do with getting lost in the moment for a while.

“You two seem to be getting along well!” Lena called from the kitchen as Satya took the seat across from Lúcio. The DJ smiled, but it faded after a moment.

Satya’s smile faded slightly as well, and she watched him expectantly, suspecting he was about to say something.

“I don’t think you’re right,” Lúcio began, meeting her gaze, “You’re just… you’re a good person, Satya. You have reasons, good ones. You just… give me a lot to think about. Things I don’t think I really wanted to think about before.”

“I may have held you as my enemy,” Satya began, “responded as if you intended to do harm intentionally, but… I always thought of you, truly, as more ignorant than malicious. I supposed you simply did not know, or care, who you hurt.”

“I guess you were kinda right about some of that…” Lúcio said, looking down at the table.

“But I was ignorant as well,” Satya continued. “I thought only of those like myself, perhaps thought of everyone as being somewhat like myself. The pain I had to endure… blinded me to the views of others, the wants and needs of others.”

Lúcio looked back up at Satya, puzzled.

“I wanted to create a better world, but…” Satya had to admit it. Sombra had been right about their feud, the hypocrisy of which they were both guilty. “I suppose what is better for me is not better for everyone.”

Lúcio thought for a long moment before saying, “and I guess your fancy future-housing stuff would be better for some people. Just… not everyone should have to live like that, y’know?”

“I simply do not see any alternative, when so many can not truly choose for themselves until they reach a certain age. It is… painful to think that those like myself must suffer for their entire childhoods.”

“Sometimes longer,” Lena called from the kitchen, and Satya could barely detect something haunted in her voice. “So many people end up dependent on their families these days. It can feel like your whole life belongs to someone else. And… and there are a lot of things you could be that your parents might not be alright with, and living in a pristine city isn’t gonna fix it for all of them.”

Satya was puzzled for a moment before realizing, with a sudden shock, that she had no concept, would never have anything whatsoever resembling a concept, of how her parents would have reacted to… to what she’d discovered about herself over the past several days. She supposed, in an ironic way, it might have been what they had wanted for her, just not in the way they had wanted it. “I suppose you are right, Lena,” she said finally.

“I guess the answer is…” Lena began, and though she was still facing towards whatever task she was performing in the kitchen, Satya could tell her mood was improving, “…family’s what you make of it. Family’s whatever acts like family. Whoever cares about you and not whoever else they hoped they’d end up with instead.”

Something about what Lena had said, and the way she’d said it, made Satya feel as if she might burst into tears if she wasn’t careful. The sudden pang of emotion wasn’t just about herself, Satya got the distinct sense that Lena was drawing from something in her own memory.

“I know it’s not really the practical solution you were looking for,” Lena added as she brought out a tray with three heaping plates of fish ‘n’ chips. She poured out three glasses of ice water and, as she sat down, raised her glass in the air.

Lúcio raised his glass as well, and Satya was thankful she’d quickly placed that Lena was proposing a toast, and raised her own glass near the others.

“To… to finding each other,” Lena said with a tearful smile, seeming overcome with emotion. The three of them clinked glasses, took sips of their drinks, and started eating.

The food was… decent, if a bit bland for Satya’s tastes. She did end up constructing a fork out of hardlight, as the breaded fish was rather greasy. She considered inquiring about spices, but thought it might be overstepping. Part of her suspected, with a sigh, that Lena might have come back with a salt shaker, anyway.

When they’d finished the meal, Lena seemed to consider something for a while, before finally speaking with quiet gratitude in her voice. “Thanks for going along with this, loves. It won’t be like this all the time, I promise, it’s just…” she paused, that tearful smile again spreading across her face.

“Just something I had to do today.”

Chapter Text

Sombra didn’t show up that night, and wouldn’t for the rest of the week they spent at sea.

Satya paced back and forth in her room, in anticipation of the meeting she wasn’t quite sure would happen, but that she had to be ready for just in case. She went over her options, every possible route she could take, both the things she could say and the things Sombra might say that she should have potential responses for.

What if she figured out Satya was up to something? Would she notice, right away, that her own tactics were being used? It was certainly a possibility.

What are you playing at, amiga? Sombra would narrow her eyes and lean in close.

The same thing you are, Satya could reply, speaking softly but surely. I know you want this, Sombra… I want it too.

Another possibility, one she wasn’t sure was even likely, given the trends she’d observed. The next time Sombra dared to lay a finger on her…

Do not touch me again, unless I tell you to, Satya would say in the most direct, scathing voice she could manage. Then, she would lean in close, her lips just beside Sombra’s ear, and whisper…

But Satya would never bring herself to do something so bold, would she? It was… exhilarating to think about, but not realistic in the slightest.

Still, Satya’s heart leapt with every imagined resolution, then fell again as the anticipation overwhelmed her. She repeated the process for hours on end, growing more and more tired and taking longer rests on the hardlight stool she’d decided would retain its place in her room for the duration of her stay on the Beluga. She would have to remember to dismiss the one in the lounge at some point.

It was getting rather late, and still no sign of Sombra. To buy herself an extra few minutes before she inevitably fell asleep, Satya set to work on a more sensible travel case, finally dismissing the guitar-shaped one once she’d transferred all of her belongings to a rectangular case with rounded corners and edges. The interior, accessible through either side, was sorted into a fractal-like arrangement of divided cells that functioned as shelves when the case was stood upright, each compartment exactly as large as needed to contain its assigned item or group of items. With its interior space used so efficiently, the new case had plenty of room to spare.

Her work finished, the architech decided that even Sombra wouldn’t be able to keep her awake for much longer. She was actually somewhat disappointed, both at the fact the hacker hadn’t shown, and at the confirmation that she probably wouldn’t until the end of Satya’s stay on the Beluga. As she climbed into bed, she supposed, with a clever smirk, that there would at least be plenty more time to refine her plan before their next meeting.

The moment Satya pulled the covers over herself, she drifted quickly into unconsciousness.




“It’s that accelerator thing,” Lúcio explained in a near whisper. He had found a short moment alone with Satya in the waiting area near the kitchen. “Like, she needs to wear it all the time just so she can stay connected to reality. It’s… it’s scary when you think about it, really. Kind of surprising she can be so happy all the time.”

“She tells me she tries not to think about it,” Satya replied, looking cautiously back to the lounge where Lena was busy setting up the television for something.

“I guess I would too,” Lúcio said with nervous, wide eyes. “She tell you that Doomfist guy tore part of it off once?”

“No,” Satya said, remembering that out of everything Lena had told her, she hadn’t actually addressed the concerns that had instigated Satya’s alliance with Lúcio in the first place, “but I suppose that would explain her anxiety during the presentation.”

“Yeah, it was back during the fight where they put him in prison. She almost… it almost went really bad…” Lúcio shuddered at that. “Oh, and Widowmaker smashed it once, was sparking and everything. Though… her face kinda went through a whole bunch of weird reactions when I asked about her, so I wonder if there might be more there.”

“Lena did move past the sniper’s slide rather quickly. I highly doubt that short description was all the intelligence Overwatch has on her.”

“Well, it was still enough that she gives me the creeps already.” Lúcio shrugged. He seemed to consider something for a moment. “You ever wonder about what we’ve gotten ourselves into?”

“No, I suppose I haven’t,” Satya said nervously, realizing the gravity of their role in Overwatch for perhaps the first time. She had been rather occupied by other concerns as of late.

“I mean, someone has to deal with Talon, and I guess that’s us, but… you really think we’re ready for the big leagues? Fighting people like that?

“We do have quite a lot of experience fighting each other,” Satya said with a slight smirk.

“Haha, yeah…” Lúcio said with a nervous smile, scratching the back of his neck and averting his eyes. “I guess we do.”

“Your tactics are, in fact, quite formidable. You caused Vishkar quite a lot more trouble than we would have ever admitted publicly.” Satya winced at her used of ‘we.’

Something seemed to occur to Lúcio, but he fell back to the topic at hand. “Yeah, you were a real pain in the ass too, Vaswani.”

Satya snorted, then attempted to recover with a quiet giggle. When Lúcio turned back to look at her, he seemed surprised to see that she was smiling.




“I mean, you really just gotta find someone who’s understanding, yeah?” Lena said, setting her hand reassuringly on Satya’s organic shoulder. She gently rubbed a small area of the architech’s upper back as she continued. “It might not always be easy, but it’s easier than you think. You don’t always have to be so concerned with what other people might want from you, love. I know it sounds cliché, but the right person’s gonna want you for you.”

Satya looked dejectedly down at her kicking feet hovering just above the bedroom floor. “People do not want a person like me. They want someone who would offer themselves fully, and I cannot. It makes sense for me to be alone.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Lena insisted. “Not if you don’t want to be.”

“It would feel like making someone settle for less than they could have otherwise. I do not want to do that to someone.”

“Satya, love, I guarantee you’re not the only person who feels that way. It’s not about being complete or not, everybody’s just got different things to offer. And you’ve got a lot to offer, love. You really do care about people. Like, you always wanna do everything you can to help, and sometimes that’s more important than anything else.”

“You know that is not the problem, Lena.”

Lena sighed. “There really are people out there who won’t mind. ‘Sides, like you said, you’re not really sure what you want anyway. Just gotta work out your feelings, is all.”

Satya laughed darkly. “Perhaps it would have been better to not feel these things at all.”

Lena seemed to shake at those words, and Satya turned quickly out of concern. There was a strange, sad look on the pilot’s face as she stared silently at the wall.

“Lena? Are you alright?”

“It’s fine, love,” Lena said, wiping something from her eye. “Just… feelings can be scary sometimes, but as someone with a lot of them… they’re worth it, love. I mean, you don’t always have to listen to them… and you wouldn’t be going through this alone, I’d help you through it… you might not want any of this right now, I get that, and I’m not trying to force you, but…” she trailed off.

There had been something strangely disconnected about the way Lena had spoken, staring blankly into the bedroom wall. Satya got the impression that it was something Lena might have had to say before, or perhaps something she’d wanted to say. Something she’d rehearsed again and again. And most of all…

It didn’t seem like she’d been speaking to Satya.

“I am sorry,” Satya said, grabbing hold of Lena’s wrist and squeezing it gently, “for… whatever I may have reminded you of.”

“It’s okay,” Lena said, and she was talking to Satya that time, “just give this all a chance, alright? Change might be scary but it’s not always a bad thing.”

“Do not worry,” Satya reassured. “Many things in my life have changed since I have met you, and I…” She supposed, upon reflection, that it was more true than she would have thought. “…and I do not regret that they have.”

Lena was silent for a long time, considering something. “Was it really me?” she finally asked, an odd, fearful trepidation in her voice. “Was I… really the only reason you had any hope?”

Satya searched her memories, finding the idea that her future had hinged so precariously on one meeting to be rather disconcerting. The more she looked, however, the more she had to accept that it was the truth. Overwatch had initially been nothing more than refuge from Vishkar. It was Lena that had made it start to seem like a future Satya truly wanted for herself, had made the idea of real friendship seem like something within her reach, had even given her the resolve to wish those things upon others.

“Yes, I believe so,” Satya admitted, to Lena and to herself.

That didn’t seem to be the answer Lena was looking for. “Oh…” she murmured dejectedly, averting her gaze. She had a pained, foreboding expression.

Unsure of how to help, Satya settled for a reassuring squeeze of Lena’s wrist before adjusting her grip to take the woman’s hesitant hand in both of hers. Lena sighed, curling her fingers around several of Satya’s in an awkward but enthusiastic gesture of thanks.




Satya set her hardlight teacup down in its hardlight saucer, atop the round hardlight table that was somewhat of an upscaled version of the stool, and leant back into the couch. She gently folded one leg over the other as she clasped her hands.

“Can I ask you something?” Lúcio queried as he put down his cup as well. “And you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

Satya turned to where he sat at her right, and quietly nodded.

“Why did you leave Vishkar?”

She narrowed her eyes, casting a curious look toward the DJ.

“I mean, I know they’re evil and all that, but like, after everything you said…” Lúcio’s face fell, “it must have been pretty tough. I mean, they saved you, right?”

Satya thought about it for a long moment. “There were many things that should have been the reason,” she finally said, wincing at the memory of the Calado explosion. “I suppose, in the end, it was a mistake.”

Lúcio gave her an odd, slightly nervous look. Satya narrowed her eyes at his expression, then widened them again and nearly rolled her eyes. “Not leaving Vishkar,” she clarified, “someone else’s mistake. I was sent a message that I was not intended to see.”

“Oh,” Lúcio said, his expression softening to one of curiosity.

“It was from Sanjay,” Satya continued, “my… handler, I suppose, among other titles. He had been describing, to other employees, how I should be approached. He detailed the conditioning techniques he used on me, the things he had led me to believe about Vishkar’s purpose, how he coerced me to do as he asked by undermining my self-confidence.”

“That…” Lúcio began, his eyes wide. “No wonder you bugged out.”

“I remained there for many months afterward,” Satya stated matter-of-factly.

Lúcio’s jaw dropped.

“I wanted to forget about it, at first. To acknowledge it would have been to upend my entire reality, so I tried as hard as I could to pretend that it wasn’t true. But eventually…” Satya paused for a moment, shuddering at the memory, “when Sanjay spoke to me, I could no longer see him as the caring, guiding hand he had once been in my life. I could see clearly that he was acting not in my best interest, but his own; that he spoke to me with a false kindness. Our interactions were… unsettling, to say the least, and the discomfort only worsened with time. I could only tolerate working with him for so long before I had to consider other options.”

“Th-that’s…” Lúcio stuttered, wincing in sympathy, “…that’s awful. I’m sorry you had to go through all that.”

“I had to reconsider everything I had done for Vishkar, everything I had believed about their purpose, about my purpose. Seeing the truth of what they had used me for, I could not stay, but… I knew nothing else. I was frightened of the uncertain future I would face if I left. It was, without a doubt, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.”

“I kinda figured they were using you, but…” Something like regret passed over Lúcio’s face. “I wish I could have helped.”

“I recall you saying something to that effect many times. It did not help then,” Satya turned away, her voice sullen. “No one could have helped me, Lúcio. I would have defended Vishkar to my dying breath. I could not have been convinced otherwise. It was only when I saw the truth for myself that I began to waver.”

“And now?”

“Now, I am often angry with myself for not having realized earlier. Perhaps, then, I would not have wasted so many years of my life.”

Satya saw movement in her peripheral vision and, looking back at Lúcio, realized the DJ was hesitating over placing his hand on her shoulder. Satya found herself silently nodding.

“Well, you’re with us now,” Lúcio said warmly as he set down the comforting hand, “and you’ve got the whole rest of your life to do whatever you want with. That’s what counts.”

“Thank you,” Satya said quietly, “I am very grateful, for your…”

She had been about to say friendship. She considered for a moment, and found that she could find no objection to the idea, aside from how improbable it seemed. They had been bitter enemies for so long, had been so caught up in the fervor of their hatred for each other and for what the other stood for, but none of it seemed to matter anymore.

“Are we friends?” Satya cautiously asked, watching the DJ’s expression closely.

Lúcio seemed surprised by the question, withdrawing his hand slightly but keeping it hovering in place. “Do you… do you want us to be?” he cautiously asked in return, as one eye narrowed slightly and the other raised a brow.

“Yes,” Satya replied. It was almost a whisper.

“I guess… I guess I kinda do too.” Lúcio said, sounding relieved as he showed Satya a confused smile. He moved to replace his hand but pulled it back in surprise as Satya got up and moved closer to him on the couch.

“Is this…” Satya questioned nervously, “…is this alright?”

“I mean, what? Pfft. Yeah, of course!” Lúcio recovered, being rather overtly casual to mask his obvious sheepishness. “It’s just… you know, it’s kinda…”

Satya scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Do not read into it,” she said as she leant backward into his shoulder. “You are most assuredly not my type.”

“O-okay…” Lúcio said, bewildered, as he tried to free his arm from between the architech and the couch. He cautiously rested it over her shoulders, his fingers falling gently on her prosthetic arm.

Satya found it rather comforting, though she had questioned whether she would. Even with all of the doubt and guilt that lingered in the back of her mind, the physical contact was reassuring rather than unnerving. She had now grown to trust Lúcio nearly as much as Lena. It was a genuine compassion she shared with the both of them. There was no obligation in it, and neither of them made her feel subordinate. Was that what had made the difference?

“Thank you,” Satya said softly as she stared up at the ceiling, “for… giving me a chance, even when it might not have seemed like I deserved one.”

“I really do try to see the best in people,” Lúcio began, sounding apologetic. “I’m sorry for all that, before… I’m usually better than that, I just… I always thought you were the one person it wouldn’t work on. The one person I shouldn’t even bother trying with.”

“I am glad you changed your mind.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Chapter Text

Several fish and something Satya could have sworn was a dolphin scattered away from the windows as the Porpoise sped up a wide river in the Ganges Delta.

Lena had seemed rather quiet ever since they’d departed the Beluga, and Satya could tell she was considering something. She debated asking if everything was alright, but decided not to force the matter. Instead, the next time Lena glanced up to check on her passengers in the rearview mirror, Satya gave the pilot a gentle nod and a reassuring smile.

Lena returned the gesture and, after a moment, began, “Hey, so… there’s something I should probably tell you before tomorrow.”

Satya and Lúcio listened intently, waiting for Lena to continue.

“So…” she stumbled slightly, “the reason I might’ve been a bit weird about going to Nepal, and the monastery…”

Satya shared a glance with Lúcio, supposing they were about to get the answer to the one remaining question they both had from the presentation a week ago.

“I… I was there when Mondatta was killed. I tried to stop it… but I couldn’t.”

“Oh,” Lúcio said quietly, his face falling.

“It’s just… It’s probably going to be hard, meeting them all. I still feel guilty about it. Just thought you should know that, so if I seem… if I seem like something’s wrong, you’ll know why.”

“Thank you for telling us, Lena,” Satya offered. Lena seemed to wince at that, though.

“There’s…” Lena began again after a moment, letting the pause hold her place for a while. “There’s more to it… more than just that. I don’t really want to say, but…”

“It is alright, Lena,” Satya said, “You do not have to.”

“Thanks, I just…” there was more guilt in Lena’s voice. “I know how the Shambali are, they’d just try to make me feel better about it, and… and even if the part I told you gets fixed somehow, I still wouldn’t be okay about it.”




It was nearing evening when the Porpoise pulled quietly up onto a narrow beach. Several tributaries carved winding paths through the sand as they flowed from the tree line into the river. Athena parked the vehicle there for a moment, allowing it to dry off in the setting sun, before pulling carefully through the short stretch of forest and onto the road beyond it.

It was another hour or so of travel, through mile after mile of farmland, until they reached the outskirts of Kolkata. Satya had never been to the city, but even in the dark of night, she recognized some familiar architectural styles among the chaotic jumble of buildings.

Culture.

Satya turned the word over and over again in her head, trying to make sense of it. Not everything about her home was foreign to her. She’d found time to continue her dance lessons, of course, even after she’d been taken to Vishkar. Satya reasoned that, even if she could not identify all of them, she likely had many mannerisms, preferences, and aesthetics that she took for granted, but that were derived from her Indian heritage. Vishkar, despite its utopian vision, was inherently of the country, and their corporate culture had been partially traditional. Even the imagery incorporated into Satya’s covert operations uniform was cultural.

As they exited the vehicle, the lights, sounds, and scents of the nightlife unsettled Satya. Neon signs created a chaotic mess of light twirling through the darkness. She visibly shrunk into her arms and shoulders as they walked to the hotel. Luckily, they were taking only a short back way into the building that was rather far away from the crowds. Several large palm trees lingered overhead as they made their way to the door.

They only passed a few people in the halls, and no one seemed to pay much attention to them. Nonetheless, Satya remained nervous all the way to her room.

Satya’s room was rather large, with a king-sized bed, a floral-patterned carpet that was primarily a dark reddish color, and a wooden set of a table and four chairs. Along the wall opposite the bed, a large flat-screen television rested on a set of low wooden cupboards. Satya paced in the illuminating yellow glow of several lamps as she went over her plan one more time.

There were three key points Satya would have to place surreptitiously in their conversation. First was the idea that she wouldn’t pressure Sombra to reveal any personal information. The woman likely kept a close and careful guard on her secrets, and Satya doubted she would be at all receptive to anything else without first being reassured that they would remain safe. Satya could easily bring this point up if, as she strongly suspected, the subject of her friendship with Lena came up in conversation, as that was where the philosophy had originated.

The second point was that Satya was open to a more genuine friendship with Sombra, despite the circumstances. She would have to be open and honest with the hacker, and convince her that she wasn’t only doing it because she felt she had to. It might be difficult, but Satya figured she might believably put emphasis on how alone she was, and perhaps on how she and Lúcio had reconciled despite their former animosity. Involving her own similarities with Sombra might be pushing too far toward the hacker’s secrets, so it was an option of last resort.

The third point… well, Satya would get to that only if she got the sense that it was at all a possibility. There was still a chance that Sombra’s intimate contact had been a method of intimidation and nothing more. If she needed to bring it up, she supposed she might have to be direct about it, much like she had been when she’d admitted her desires to Lena. Satya highly doubted she had the capacity to be implicit or seductive, though she admitted that she had never had any prior occasion to test that theory.

The first topic that would come up in conversation would likely be Satya’s progress in obtaining the information she’d been asked to gather. All she knew at this point was that Lena intended to pick up an ‘old friend’ at the Shambali Monastery in Nepal. ‘Old friend’ likely meant a former Overwatch agent, which technically fell outside the bounds of their recruitment mission. Would it also fall outside Sombra’s? Would someone with existing ties to Overwatch even be useful to Talon? Satya was conflicted but hopeful, thinking that offering up the information without much prompting would improve Sombra’s mood, even if the information itself would not.

It had been over a week since their last meeting, so Satya couldn’t be sure of what to expect. Would Sombra be more forceful now that it was much later in the game and she still had obtained nothing useful? Would she have her own plan from having a week to think over her options? Satya had decided that she would play into Sombra’s direction of the conversation, so long as it did not interfere with her own. If Sombra wanted to reveal more personal details or make herself appear more sympathetic, Satya would let her. The objective wasn’t necessarily to defeat Sombra, after all, but to make sure that both of them got what they wanted.

When she supposed everyone else was asleep, Satya made for the door, left it open as she stepped into the hallway to take a short look around, and closed it behind her as she returned to the room. She’d been listening for it, and she’d faintly heard the soft pitter-patter of those shoeless feet on the carpeted floor.

“What’s the matter, Sombra?” Satya scoffed. “Afraid of getting a little water on your coat?” She’d carefully switched the trajectory of the question at the second ‘w’ as she remembered, suddenly, that she’d intended to avoid the third point for as long as possible. In what little time she had left in the moment, Satya began to doubt her assessment of her own cleverness.

“It’s not that I can’t hack Athena,” Sombra said as she decloaked behind the architech, a playful annoyance in her voice, “It’s just that she always manages to find a way to make it not worth the trouble. I hope you didn’t miss me too much, amiga.”

“I was rather devastated, actually,” Satya said in a deadpan voice that she hoped passed as sarcasm. She turned around to face Sombra as she continued, “So, how have you been?” she said in mock politeness, trying to keep herself from smiling in amusement.

Sombra held back a cackle, and shook her head slightly with a smirk. “You are a lot of fun today, I hope you have some good news.”

“I know where Lena intends to take us next, but you should not get your hopes up,” Satya replied, “It is not a new recruit we are after.”

Sombra’s shoulders fell as she narrowed her eyes. “You’re going after Genji aren’t you?”

“I believe so,” Satya said, not recognizing the name but relieved at Sombra’s disappointment.

Increíble,” Sombra groaned, throwing her head back in an annoyed eye-roll. “Are you even going to pick up any more recruits on this trip at all?

“I am beginning to doubt that, myself,” Satya answered honestly. “Perhaps your employers would be delighted to learn of Overwatch’s complete incompetence.”

Sombra couldn’t contain that laugh. “You…” she paused as she tried to recover. “I like you, amiga, I really do.”

Satya felt that warm feeling creeping in again, and she gave the woman a slight smile.

Sombra returned a smirk as she shook her head again, apparently in amused disbelief. She shrugged as she started toward the table, gesturing Satya to follow her.

Satya neatly slid out a chair and sat down, and watched with impressed curiosity as Sombra expertly climbed into the opposite chair and slid into a sitting position without moving it at all.

“So,” Sombra said with rather exaggerated interest as she set her elbows on the table and clasped her hands under her chin, “what other news do you have for me?”

“I suppose things have been going rather well…” Satya began hesitantly. She was still not quite certain what Sombra was asking, but she could guess. “Did you want to know anything specific?”

Sombra rolled her eyes. “Lena. How did it go?”

“We resolved the issue some time ago,” Satya began, weaving her words like light through her fingers. “We have agreed that… that it is not always necessary to know all of one’s secrets. What matters is knowing how to offer support when it is needed.”

Sombra narrowed her eyes. “Could you really do that, though? Trust someone you know isn’t telling you the whole truth?”

“Secrets are secret for a reason, I suppose,” Satya said flatly. “It is not illogical to understand and respect that. But having secrets to keep should not resign one to loneliness.” Feeling that may have been too obvious, she looked down at the table and added, “At least, I would hope it should not. I keep a rather many secrets at the moment.”

Sombra seemed to consider something for a time, before changing the subject. “What about Lúcio, you win him over yet or are you two still at it?”

“I suppose we are rather close, actually. Friends, even,” Satya answered, taking caution with her wording.

“But… he was your enemy?” Sombra asked with an air of incredulity. “Why would you trust him like that so quickly?”

It was too easy. Satya wondered whether the two of them were guiding the discussion in the same direction. She certainly hoped so, and she felt her heart tremble in longing as she continued.

“I do not have many friends, Sombra,” Satya began, “and I am rather bad at making them. I am grateful to find them wherever I can, even if it may not be under the best of circumstances.”

“What a diplomatic way to say you have low standards,” Sombra said with an arched eyebrow. She pushed her chair out slightly and raised a leg to rest her foot against the table, applying just enough pressure to lean her chair backward until it was balanced on its rear two legs. She crossed her arms and tilted her head. “So, how did you resolve all that drama between the two of you?”

“Your advice did end up putting a lot of things in perspective,” Satya began. “So, I suppose I must give you my thanks.”

Hmph. At least someone appreciates me,” Sombra said, throwing one hand off to the side and curling her nails inward from fourth to first.

“We conceded that neither of our philosophies could account for all individual cases, that they had, in fact, been heavily biased by our own life experiences and our ignorance of other perspectives.”

Sombra actually seemed rather impressed. “I leave you alone for a week and you figure out how to achieve world peace.”

“It was your input, Sombra. I suppose you do have a… unique view of the world.”

“Information has its advantages, amiga.” She held a hand in front of her face, examining her nails as she tensed and curled her fingers. “Your problems tend to seem so small and petty when the all the world is at my fingertips.”

“It must be very lonely,” Satya said softly.

Sombra narrowed her eyes, but Satya could see the hacker’s expression faltering.

“And I did not solve the problem,” Satya continued, noticing Sombra’s relief at the topic change. “We agreed that our answers were not adequate, that is not the same thing. I am not sure if I believe that there is a solution.”

Sombra scoffed with a hint of irony in her voice. “So, that means you’re done with the ‘better world’ thing, I take it?”

“Perhaps the world cannot be fixed,” Satya admitted. “It is a cruel, destructive, controlling place that does everything it can to break the people in it. It makes us afraid. It makes us alone. It makes us resign ourselves to our supposed fates. It makes us see one another as enemies.” She took a deep breath. “Logic and reason did not help me escape that world. Neither did the truth. Neither did having to choose between the evils of the present and the uncertainties of the future. Those things… set me on the path, eventually, but what mattered in the end was… something else.” She steadied herself as she recalled the exact moment, sitting in the back seat while Lena spoke so kindly to her, when she’d realized that what she’d lived before hadn’t been any kind of life at all. “There is only one answer, it seems, that can free us from a world that wants us to give in.”

“And what do you suppose that is?” Sombra seemed hesitant, but curious.

“Finding each other,” Satya said, echoing the words of Lena’s toast. “The right people. People who will understand, or who will be welcoming even if they do not. One moment where you don’t have to think about what the world wants from you, can mean everything. It can change everything,” Satya took a long breath before continuing, staring fondly into Sombra’s deep, blue eyes, “as can one person who does not care what the world wants them to think of you.”

The ambient creaking from Sombra’s balanced chair suddenly ceased, as she froze completely. Her eyes narrowed, and the letter ‘w’ formed on her lips, but she said nothing.

Satya remained silent as well, pressing her lips together. The only thing she could have said next was to say it outright, so she simply sat there, petrified at the idea of it. Terrified at the possibility that she had just made a fatal mistake.

They sat in silence for a while, each waiting for the other to speak first. Eventually Sombra’s expression changed. Her sinister smirk returned, a look of odd satisfaction on her face, but from the hesitance in her eyes Satya could tell it was forced.

Increíble,” Sombra said as she laughed gently, and it was rather obvious that she was watching Satya’s expression carefully, trying to determine whether or not her ruse was convincing enough for the architech. “You actually…” another almost-convincing laugh as she rocked rather unsteadily in her chair. “This is rich, amiga. You actually think this is… I mean, I’ve heard of Stockholm Syndrome, but I never thought…”

Sombra was trying to pull away, even breaking the charade of their friendship’s legitimacy to do so. It was unclear why, but it could have been for any number of reasons. Satya could worry about that later. At the moment, a rather clever and incredibly risky idea occurred to her, and she was left with two choices. She could let Sombra maintain control of the interaction, or she could attempt to take control herself. It certainly seemed the safer option not to challenge the hacker, to let her continue to feel the security she was used to, but Satya remembered those small moments where Sombra had shown guilt at having power over her. Perhaps she would change her mind if Satya put up a decent fight.

“Are you implying I am your prisoner?” She shot back at the hacker, raising an eyebrow. Inwardly, Satya was thrown about in a storm of fear and doubt, but her face fell into stern confidence.

Sombra gave her an odd look, apparently surprised at the question and unsure of how to answer it.

Satya didn’t give her time to respond, instead raising her wrists and pretending to examine them. “Because if I am,” she looked back up at Sombra, “it appears you have forgotten something.”

Sombra gave her another odd, skeptical look, the hint of a condescending smirk forming on her lips. “Do you want me to put you in handcuffs, amiga?

The storm in Satya’s mind abated, and it took all of her strength to keep from smiling as she delivered her next line in complete deadpan, with only the hint of an arched eyebrow.

“I would prefer not to answer that.”

Sombra’s chair hit the floor.

Satya stood up, holding a hand over her mouth to stifle her uncontrollable laughter as she awkwardly made her way over to help Sombra off the ground. The hacker batted away the hand she offered, a rather cross expression on her face as she made a dramatic motion of dusting off her coat.

Through her giggling, Satya managed to say, holding her left palm out toward Sombra to prominently display her hardlight emitter, “Though, I suppose I could make some, if you’d like.”

Sombra’s eyes fell on the emitter and locked in place, widening as possibility after possibility seemed to dawn on her. A gigantic, mischievous smile formed on Satya’s face as she saw the gears turning in the hacker’s mind. A thousand ideas were running through her head, and she couldn’t do anything about it. Satya had just done the same thing Sombra had inadvertently done to her at the outset of their last meeting. She had the hacker trapped in a place where she couldn’t possibly think of anything else.

While Sombra was still stunned, Satya took a few steps closer to her, slowly bringing up her right hand between them. When she provoked no reaction, she reached out, cautiously, and ran her index finger gently up through the gap in Sombra’s left eyebrow, staring directly into the woman’s eyes as she felt a slight twitch of muscle through her fingertip.

Satya felt an overpowering trepidation, as if she were touching some wild creature that could snap and kill her at any moment. But she couldn’t stop herself, and she didn’t think she wanted to.

Sombra’s eyes briefly darted sideways as Satya’s hand fell to settle on her cheek. “What are you doing?” she finally whispered, narrowing her eyes for only a moment before her brows arched up again in strained confusion.

“Do you want me to stop?” Satya whispered back, her wide yellow eyes staring directly into Sombra’s blue ones.

Sombra said nothing. The silence was both terrifying and intoxicating. Each moment that passed felt like an eternity. The whole world disappeared, and with it, all its divisions, its hierarchy, its order and its chaos. The two of them stood in a void where nothing could reach them.

“So… you want me to keep going?” Satya asked, raising an eyebrow. Her eyes briefly darted downward to Sombra’s parted lips before meeting the hacker’s gaze once more.

She could tell there were a million conflicting thoughts ricocheting around Sombra’s mind, but at the end of it all, Satya felt more than saw when the enigmatic hacker gave a slight, almost imperceptible nod.

Satya leaned in, savoring the slight brush of her lips against Sombra’s and the heat of each breath that passed between them, before closing her eyes and pushing further into a gentle, chaste kiss. Sombra returned the kiss in kind, not venturing any farther than Satya had. It was an overwhelmingly comforting gesture.

Satya set her hands firmly over Sombra’s shoulders, pulling out of the kiss so their eyes could meet as she slowly ran her hands down the front of the woman’s coat. She didn’t try to open it, and Sombra seemed relieved at that. Satya didn’t mind, as even through the layered fabric she could certainly feel enough to get a reaction. She moved her hands further down until she could wrap her left arm around Sombra’s waist, pulling the woman’s hips against hers. She felt a long-nailed hand settle in the small of her back.

Satya brought her right hand up to catch Sombra’s left wrist, guiding the hand to her own chest. Sombra’s touch was careful but longing through the thin fabric of Satya’s shirt. Cautiously looking into the architech’s eyes for any objection, Sombra leaned in to kiss down Satya’s neck.

Satya threw her head back and to the side, using her free hand to brush her hair over her shoulder. She gasped as she felt Sombra’s lips touch her skin, and breathed deeply, finding something immensely satisfying, heartening, in being wanted. Sombra wanted her, and not just to use her. Not to cast her as a pawn in some game, and not out of pity.

And this much, at least, Satya could give her. She was at ease. It was all so very new to her. Overwhelming, even. But all of it felt good and none of it felt like too much. She could go further, perhaps, or perhaps she couldn’t, but she could tell that Sombra was doing everything she could to respect her limits and make her feel safe and comfortable. The kind consideration made Satya’s heart flutter, and she felt the sudden urge to test those limits so that she could give as much of herself to this woman as she possibly could.

Sombra was trying to hold back one of her devious smirks, and that made Satya blush. It was enough to break the dam, and at the sight, the hacker’s smile twisted into a wicked grin.

But as they locked eyes, Sombra’s face seemed to soften, something growing in her expression beyond simple desire. A fondness, a compassion, a longing for something more than the physical. Her touch became caressing, loving, as what seemed to be tears welled in her eyes, until…

…until Sombra’s eyes widened, an expression of shock or even horror forming on her face. She pulled away suddenly, throwing Satya’s arms off of her and taking several quick steps backward.

What…” Satya yelped weakly in desperation as she reached out toward Sombra, herself horrified at the woman’s sudden reaction.

Don’t! ” Sombra hissed as she put her hands up defensively. “I… this… I can’t.”

“What did I…” Satya began, with confused, shocked guilt in her voice.

No, it…” Sombra said as she froze, shaking. “It wasn’t… you didn’t…”

Sombra was stumbling over something, frantic and seemingly conflicted over what to say about it. But through everything, the one constant was the look of unmistakable fear on her face. It was strange to Satya, such a look on someone who was always so confident and in control.

“Are you alright?” Satya asked, “Is everything alright? I have… I have never seen you afraid.”

Sombra paused, a sad, apologetic grimace on her face as she folded her arms across her chest and shrunk into her shoulders.

“You’ve always seen me afraid,” she said darkly as she looked quickly away. “Lo siento,” she added softly, weakly, under her breath.

Satya couldn’t bear to see her like this, and rushed toward the hunched, trembling woman, overcome with a need to offer comfort for… whatever this was, but her arms only closed around a cloud of fading pixels.

Satya stood back, reeling with an emotion she couldn’t quite place. She knew there was some question she should be considering, some problem she should be working through, but no matter how hard she tried she could grasp at nothing. Her logic and reason had failed her.

She was overwhelmed. She was shaking, tears running down her cheeks, and she forced herself to breathe as she tried to calm herself down. Eventually, all she could do was get into bed, letting the warmth and pressure of the covers hold her tightly. The though of how hurt Sombra had looked was burned into her mind as she desperately wished for sleep to take hold of her.




Satya woke with a start, to the loud sound of reverberating static and repeated flashes of a purple glow throughout the room.

It was early the next morning, before sunrise. Satya sat up to find that the large television was flickering between black and purple, the screen filled with ASCII characters that together formed a familiar sugar skull logo.

She got quickly out of bed, rushing over to the screen. The logo disappeared, and was replaced with a multitude of black-and-white camera feeds. She couldn’t place the locations she was seeing through them, but from the architecture she guessed they were all somewhere in the city.

Several figures dressed in white crossed one of the feeds, then another, as they moved through the darkness. Their clothes were accented with angular lines of a darker color, and Satya didn’t have to guess what that color was. Those were the characteristic blue stripes of Vishkar uniforms.

The agents Satya could see were all wearing hardlight visors similar to her own, and though they tried to hide them even under cover of darkness, Satya could tell that they all carried photon projectors.

A rather strange-looking figure followed behind the agents, seeming taller and much bulkier. The man’s Vishkar uniform was barely identifiable under the many white pauldrons over his body that Satya suddenly placed as hardlight plate armor. A full helmet concealed the entirety of the man’s face except for the thin line of his visor, and he walked almost mechanically, with stern purpose.

Satya rushed out of the room, frantically pounding on Lena’s door. “Lena! Wake up!” she called desperately. “We must leave at once!”

“What in the bloody hell is it, love?” Lena called back, annoyed at having been roused from sleep.

Satya took a deep breath, trying to stop herself from shaking. When she spoke, her voice was calm, but urgent.

“Vishkar is here.”

Chapter Text

In less than five minutes’ time, Satya, Lena, and Lúcio exited the hotel wearing what Satya had decided to call their combat uniforms – she felt somewhat out of place in her sleek, sky-blue bodysuit, given how casually the other two were dressed – and each carrying their suitcase in one hand and a weapon in the other.

Lena readied one pulse pistol as she led the three of them back to the Porpoise, that large jacket hastily thrown over herself to hide the obvious glow of her chronal accelerator in the darkness of the early morning hours. Satya and Lúcio followed close behind, their photon projector and sonic amplifier respectively drawn. When they were safely inside the vehicle, Lena cast the outer jacket aside and moved to access one of the pockets on her usual one.

With a flick of her wrist, Lena returned the pistol to her gauntlet – Satya still could not figure out how she did that – as she pulled two small, dark objects from her pocket. She handed one each to Satya and Lúcio. They were tiny, somewhat round devices designed to fit easily in one’s ear.

“Comms,” Lena said simply, prompting the other two to put them in. She gave them a small grin as they did so. “Congratulations, loves, you’re Overwatch agents now.” As they pulled out of the parking lot and took off down the road, the morning light was beginning to shine over the horizon.

None of them spoke, all seeming overcome with the same unease Satya felt. There had still been no sign of the Vishkar agents from the security footage, and Satya started to wonder whether Sombra might have tricked her somehow.

Sombra.

With a start, Satya looked frantically toward the front of the vehicle, examining her reflection in the rearview mirror, only to calm with relief when she saw clear, dark skin on the face and neck looking back at her. She’d half-expected to find her throat nearly covered with patches of purple, but however Sombra had colored her lips, it had apparently been done with something that didn’t rub off. They might even be modified, if the rest of Sombra was any indication.

“Don’t worry, love,” Lena called from the front seat – sounding rather worried herself – apparently having misinterpreted Satya’s panic. “It’s gonna be okay, I promise!”

Satya didn’t feel very reassured. India was still Vishkar’s territory, even if they were about the farthest they could be from Utopaea without leaving the country.

It was already bright overhead when the Porpoise sped up a ramp onto an elevated section of highway that ran through the center of the city. The road was nearly level with the rooftops around it, and white-and-blue wall sections alternated as the vehicle sped past the patterned barriers to either side.

A burst of pixelated, blue energy washed over the Porpoise, and the vehicle rocked as its levitation faltered for only a moment.

“What was that?” Lena asked frantically, but both Satya and Lúcio already knew the answer.

Something has significantly drained our power reserves,” Athena answered. “I am detecting several similar firing signatures in close pr-pro_x-x-x-im_it_t_ty.”

Athena’s voice glitched out as three more energy draining blasts connected with the vehicle, causing it to drop out of the air. Satya clung to the seat and noticed the others doing the same as the Purpose spun end to end, sparks shooting up all around as it skidded roughly against the pavement.

The vehicle came to a stop only a few degrees short of a complete 180-degree turn, an outcome that irritated Satya far more than she would have admitted.

The vehicles that had been in front of them – now behind them – sped away. Those that had been following them swerved to round the obstacle now in their path, leaving the road oddly clear.

Satya could see why. Through the windshield, she spotted a white barrier that hadn’t been there before, blocking any more cars from proceeding down the road. In front of it, five Vishkar agents advanced toward the grounded Porpoise, photon projectors drawn. She tensed when she noted the agent in the center of the formation – the one with the suit of heavy armor.

Lena flicked out her pulse pistols fast enough that her gauntlets didn’t even appear to open. She kicked open the drivers’ side door and rounded to the front of the vehicle. Satya and Lúcio exited the left passenger door, taking position behind her.

A crowd had gathered off to their left on a long balcony attached to one of the nearby buildings. Dozens of people watched with seeming interest, and some of them were cheering. Satya heard several excited shouts of “Tracer! ” and “The cavalry’s here! ” along with one long, accentuated “Lúcioooooooo!

Agent Symmetra,” the armored agent droned, mechanically, at a deafening volume, though what seemed to be a loudspeaker built into his helmet, “Your contract with Vishkar has not yet expired.” Unlike the other agents, he kept the arm holding his projector pointing downward, the weapon’s three curved prongs evoking a wicked claw. His left hand was closed into a fist at his side.

“You keep your bloody hands off her! ” Lena shouted at a volume that rivaled the agent’s, “Your regular hands and your weird claw hands!” The gathered crowd cheered in unison at her words.

The agent paused, seeming completely still inside the impressive, knight-like suit of hardlight panels, before saying, simply, “Very well.” He raised his photon projector quickly enough to fire alongside the other four, as a series of rapid-fire energy pulses sped across the gap.

Lena blinked easily out of the way, and Lúcio leapt aside, activating his green energy skates midair and letting them carry him out of the line of fire. Satya brought up a transparent blue dome of hardlight around herself. As the blasts dispersed against her shield, making it falter only slightly, she quickly identified them as weakly-charged energy drain pulses.

They were trying to take her alive.

Lúcio rounded in a tight curve, speeding back toward the Vishkar agents as he raised his sonic amplifier. The bullhorn-like weapon sent out a wave of concussive sound energy, knocking all five agents off their feet.

Satya dismissed her shield and fired her own energy drain blasts at the armored agent as he tried to rise. Lúcio’s amplifier produced a series of green, rapid-fire sound blasts that peppered the two agents to the left. Lena appeared suddenly at the right of the formation, sweeping the leg of the nearest agent and delivering a point-blank headshot with a pulse pistol. Satya was rather surprised by the pilot’s quick brutality as she blinked out of the way of the next agent in line, who was then bombarded from behind by more pulse blasts.

Satya felt a numbing sensation wing her shoulder, and it took more effort than it should have to turn around. Six more Vishkar agents were advancing from the other direction. The two nearest agents stopped in their tracks, energy building between the prongs of their projectors as they charged up stronger draining blasts.

Lena appeared between the agents, her arms crossed as she headshotted both of them, and was gone before they hit the ground. Lúcio skated around behind the remaining four, firing rapid sound blasts. Satya attached an energy drain beam to her now-nearest target, watching the agent slow, stumble, and fall before she heard rapid, heavy footsteps from behind her and turned suddenly.

The armored agent was back on his feet, charging at Satya with his projector raised, energy building between its prongs.

Before he could fire or tackle her – whichever he had intended to do, perhaps both – Lúcio appeared from the other side of the Porpoise, firing a point-blank concussive sound wave.

The armored agent was sent flying, crashing hard against the blue-and-white sectioned barrier. He supported himself with his left hand against the hard wall, rising to one knee. Just behind him, the crowd cheered and applauded.

More blasts of pixelated blue energy just missed Satya’s head, and Lena and Lúcio sped off to deal with another wave of Vishkar agents. Satya charged a full-power draining blast as the armored agent in front of her struggled to stand.

At the instant Satya fired, the agent thrust his left hand forward, revealing a hardlight emitter in his palm.

An architech.

An array of small, interlocking transparent blue hexagons spread from the emitter, forming a miniature photon barrier. A gasp spread through the crowd as Satya’s energy projectile washed over the armored architech’s personal shield. Only a few of the component hexagons flickered out, and they replaced themselves instantly.

He moved his hand to the side, creating enough space at the edge of the loosely hexagonal arrangement to raise his photon projector and fire a few weak blasts at Satya, who raised her dome shield again to counter.

The armored agent started charging a stronger blast as he waited for Satya to make the next move, but, as Satya realized with confusion, it wasn’t a draining blast. Where there should have been a gradually welling sphere of light, the building energy sparked and cackled like lightning. The agent’s eyes met Satya’s through both of their visors, and, to Satya’s dawning horror, he cast a knowing glance to the side.

The instant the agent started to turn, Satya dropped her dome shield and frantically prepared her photon barrier. She managed to project the massive shield of interlocking hexagons just in time to protect the gathered crowd from the agent’s termination blast, and the energy rippled harmlessly over the transparent blue surface between the highway and the balcony.

The crowd recovered from where they’d frantically braced for the impact or tried to duck for cover, and a few of them began to cheer and holler from behind the barrier.

While Satya had been occupied with his attack, the agent had seemingly prepared something else with his emitter, if the characteristic blue-white glow in Satya’s peripheral vision had been any indication. Before she could react, the agent rushed toward her, raising a leg and kicking hard into Satya’s midsection.

Satya was propelled backwards, but instead of slamming into the side of the Porpoise like she’d expected to, she was surrounded by a familiar energy for only a moment before falling flat on her back and staring up into the open sky.

Satya propped herself up on her elbows just in time to see the armored agent step through the teleporter after her, dismissing the six-petaled, lotus-like platform and the oval-shaped portal above it with a wave of his hand.

She stood and brought up her dome shield, using the moment to quickly take in her surroundings. Over the agent’s shoulder, she could vaguely see a distant barrage of energy blasts through the gap between several tall buildings. It had been a line-of-sight teleporter build, albeit a very long-distance one.

She turned around and discovered that she was on the long, narrow rooftop of a building that extended partially over a wide river. About one level down from the roof, wooden boardwalks ran along either side, still a fair distance above the water. To her right, the massive metal structure of a bridge with two skyward points stretched across the river to the distant shore beyond it.

“I’m near the river, by the bridge!” she said over comms as she turned back to the agent, who was charging an energy drain blast. She dropped her shield suddenly, taking the agent by surprise as she dodged toward him and performed a dexterous spin-kick that knocked the photon projector out of his hand.

The agent stepped back in surprise, throwing out his palm to bring up his shield as Satya fired a few weak draining blasts. Again, the barrier only flickered slightly, and the agent responded by drawing back his left arm and quickly lunging forward, slamming Satya with the shield.

She managed to stay on her feet as the attack pushed her a fair distance away, but Satya felt exhausted. She was already reeling from the kick to her abdomen, and still felt tired from the weak energy drain she’d taken earlier.

The agent paused, dismissing his shield and instead holding his hands out in front of him, palms facing together, as he moved the fingers on his right hand. Light formed between his palms, and he quickly drew them outward until his arms were nearly fully extended to his sides. A long, narrow hardlight structure stretched between them, glowing brightly as it solidified. With his right hand, he took hold of one end of the object, holding it so the other end pointed upward. It was… a sword.

But there was something off about it. Above the handle and cross-guard, the weapon had a strange, oddly narrow blade that didn’t appear to have any sharpened edges, until it widened at right-angles just before the point, forming an arrow-like shape.

The agent pressed something on the handle with his thumb, and beams of pixelated blue light ran from emitters on the cross-guard, up the sides of the narrow faux-blade, and into receiving emitters at the base of the point.

Energy drain beams.

It had energy drain beams for blades.

The armored agent charged forward, swinging the massive sword with both hands. Satya brought up a dome barrier to block the strike, unsure of what else she could do against the unfamiliar fighting style. She leapt backward as the draining beam edge dissipated her shield, letting the blade fall where she had been moments before, and fired a few rapid draining blasts from her projector. The agent brought up the shield again, holding the sword one-handed as he blocked Satya’s attack. This was going to take a while, and Satya doubted she had the energy left to endure it.

“You don’t look so good!” Satya heard Lúcio yell as he ramped off one roof and landed on another, to Satya’s right as she faced the agent and slightly above her. The DJ let out a panicked, extended “whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa” as he skidded unsteadily along the angled, wood-slatted rooftop before letting out a sigh of relief as he came to a stop. “Let’s get you heal…”

Lúcio paused, hesitation on his face as his eyes went wide. Instead of healing Satya, he shouted “get out of there!” and fired a barrage of green sound blasts at the agent, who merely maneuvered his shield to block the attack.

Satya’s heart fell into the pit of her stomach. Why had he hesitated? It was confusing, but felt enough like a betrayal that panic overtook Satya. Instead of running, she charged a powerful draining blast while the agent was occupied, raising her photon projector to his chest and firing point-blank.

The armored agent stumbled, weakened, as both his shield and the blades on his sword flickered. Satya felt numb, having taken some of the blast herself. As the agent slowly lunged at her, she ran, dropping off the roof to the boardwalk along the right side of the building.

Several weak draining blasts flew past her, and she turned to see three more Vishkar agents running out along the wooden path, from the shore toward where she now stood. Satya ran the only direction she could, out toward the water.

She slowed, exhausted, and just barely managed to duck inward through a large gap in the wood-paneled wall to her left. She found herself in the shade of a wide hallway that ran under the roof to the boardwalk on the other side. She twisted light around the fingers on her left hand before lightly throwing it into the side of her photon projector as the weapon’s three prongs rotated.

The three agents rounded the corner, standing out on the walkway but aiming at where Satya stood under the roof. She managed to put up her dome shield as they fired, but even the weak blasts slowly chipped away at its stability. “Do not resist,” one of them called out to her during a brief pause in their barrage, “you are lost, confused, we are here to bring you home.” It sounded like something Sanjay would have said.

“Somebody’s got a bad beat! ” Lúcio shouted from some distance away, the sound of his grinding skates suddenly becoming audible. “Time to drown it out! ” he said as he sped out into Satya’s vision, spinning to a halt between her and the agents. He had his sonic amplifier at the ready, firing a concussive sound blast that knocked the agents clear off the boardwalk. Three geysers of water rose into the air shortly afterward.

“I do not believe they were playing music…” Satya commented weakly as Lúcio rushed to her side. She narrowed her eyes at the DJ as she continued, “…and neither were you, for some reason.”

“I didn’t mean…” Lúcio began, stumbling over something that seemed to make him uneasy. “It’s just…” he gestured to Satya’s visor. “I don’t know if my music will help you or hurt you.”

“Oh,” Satya said with wide eyes, taken by surprise but filled with relief. Even in her weakened state, she couldn’t resist reaching out to pull Lúcio into a tight embrace. “I thought…” she whispered tearfully into his ear as she held her head against his, “…it does not matter what I thought.”

Lúcio was still frozen in shock when Satya let go. The architech calmed herself, about to speak, when they both heard heavy, slowed footsteps from the roof above them.

“Play some through my comm,” Satya mouthed to the DJ, gesturing vaguely at her ear, and Lúcio slowly reached down to a disc-shape embedded in his hip, turning it in careful movements. After a moment, Satya heard a quiet techno beat in her left ear.

It wasn’t bad, actually, and regardless of the song’s quality, she could already feel the healing effects restoring her energy. She gave a nod of thanks to Lúcio as she brought her photon projector up into a two-handed grip, readying the weapon.

The armored agent landed heavily on the boardwalk outside, where the three agents had been moments before. He put his palm forward, bringing up the flat barrier in front of him as he held the sword aloft behind him.

“What the fuck is with this guy?” Lúcio said in impressed annoyance as he brought up his sonic amplifier, sending a concussive blast toward the agent. The attack washed over his shield, pushing him back only slightly, and he responded by swinging his sword around in a wide sweep. The solid tip of the blade knocked the bullhorn-like weapon out of Lúcio’s hand.

Lúcio swiftly caught the trailing cable that connected the amplifier to his upper arm, swinging it around toward the agent. The cable looped once around the solid, arrow-like end of the sword, the amplifier itself getting caught against the structure as Lúcio pulled back hard, attempting to wrench the weapon from the agent’s hands.

Still on his skates, the DJ couldn’t find a sufficient brace against the ground, and the agent swung the blade quickly out to the side. Lúcio crashed sideways into Satya, who had been charging an energy drain blast, and her shot went wide.

What is the point? ” The agent droned, slowly uncoiling the cable from his weapon. “I’m surprised they’d even take you after that business with Calado. There is only one home left for you now.”

Satya’s eyes went wide as she rose to her feet. She stopped in place, aghast, and shook as Lúcio’s gaze shifted from the agent to where she stood, confusion on his face.

No. No no no no no…

The agent took that moment to strike, quickly knocking Lúcio aside with the blade. The DJ’s movement was strained as he tried to get up, having been slowed to a crawl by his contact with the draining beams. He pulled on the cable, taking hold of his sonic amplifier.

The agent charged toward Satya. She dodged quickly away from the attack, forced backward by several more attempted swipes until there was no longer a roof above her. She dodged to the side of a downward, two-handed strike and ran along the boardwalk to the left of the building, realizing too late that she had been forced in the direction of the water.

She turned around, her eyes passing over the agent some distance behind her and falling on a thick, rectangular wooden post to her right. She quickly constructed a hardlight turret on the side facing herself, the smooth white sphere hovering near a ring of three curved panels attached to the surface like one massive barnacle on the wood.

Satya backed away as the armored agent advanced toward her. When he had passed the turret’s position, it rotated to face him and attached an energy drain beam to his back.

The agent slowed as he nearly reached Satya, giving her just enough time to build two more turrets on the wall of the building. Two more draining beams attached to the agent’s chest, and he stopped in his tracks.

With careful, strained movement, the agent managed to swing his sword backward, the solid tip knocking the first turret away from its base and out into the water. He brought up his shield against the two remaining beams, buying him more time to proceed toward them as they ate away at the tiny component hexagons in the barrier.

Satya turned and ran, finding a door along the wall as the boardwalk reached its end. Before she entered, she noted that the building angled downward to the surface of the river, possibly continuing underwater.

Satya found herself at the top of a long, descending concrete staircase with metal handrails on either side. It was wide enough to accommodate several people at once, and was walled-in by a very tall and wide sloped hallway. Large metal pipes ran along either side of the staircase, likely carrying water either into or out of the river, perhaps both. The pipes took an odd, brief step forward about halfway down to accommodate a small landing that was lit by large windows to either side.

The armored agent burst through the door Satya had closed behind her, rotating his left hand to knock her sideways with the barrier. Satya caught herself on the railing about ten steps down, her legs hurting from the stumbling impact with the concrete. She backed further down the staircase as the agent cornered her, following her down with his shield out in front.

Satya had noticed his movements slow over the course of the fight, suffering first the effects of her point-blank draining burst even before she had caught him in the beams of her turrets. Now he moved at little more than a crawl as he cautiously descended each step.

Satya moved quickly down the staircase, Lúcio’s music still giving her a speed advantage, until she was about two-thirds of the way to the landing. She built turrets on either wall, their draining beams eating away at the agent’s shield. She backed further down as the agent quickened his pace, managing to knock away both turrets before they depleted his shield, but he seemed to stumble slightly in the process as he strained to keep himself from losing his footing.

“Hey, ya got a minute?” Lúcio taunted from the top of the staircase as he leapt out over it, grinding down one of the handrails on his energy skates as he fired a barrage of sound blasts. The agent moved his shield to block them and readied his sword, swinging just as Lúcio slid into range.

The DJ leapt over the strike, spinning in the air and kicking across the agent’s faceplate with one of his skates, knocking him off his feet.

Lúcio sailed overhead as the agent tumbled past Satya, crumpling to a halt on the landing just below her. Lúcio caught the next handrail down with his skates and cheered as he skidded away.

Satya turned and caught the agent in an energy drain beam, but he brought up his shield again as he slowly stumbled to his feet. He drew back his sword and swiped at Satya, who managed to lean out of the way. The blade swung wide and shattered the window to the agent’s left and Satya’s right. The tiny splashes of glass falling in the river were visible along the window’s bottom edge, and upon closer inspection Satya noted that the window was just barely above the water level.

Lúcio huffed up the stairs from below, his skates deactivated, and fired another barrage of sound. The agent stepped into a spin, blocking the lime green pulses with his shield before swiping the sword down at the DJ, who dodged out of the way just in time. He spun fully back toward Satya, bringing up the shield but… deactivating it.

The agent’s hardlight emitter seemed to glow brightly, but Satya could see nothing happening until she felt something knock into her from behind. She fell down several steps to the agent’s feet, as the barrier he had projected behind her was pulled back to his hand.

Lúcio fired again, and the agent turned to block the attack, but then lunged his left hand forward. The shield moved quickly out past his hand and knocked Lúcio back down the stairs.

As the armored agent had lunged out with his left hand, he’d drawn back his right, and the sword’s pommel connected with Satya’s temple as she tried to stand.

Satya fell back to the last step before the landing, clutching her forehead. Everything that happened next was a blur. The agent cast something out of hardlight as he stared pointedly out the shattered window. Lúcio called something out from below, but Satya couldn’t make out the words. She felt a strong pull as she was swung roughly by her left arm. She rolled out onto another rooftop, still weakly clutching her photon projector. The agent stepped through the teleporter after her and dismissed it with a wave of his hand.

Lúcio’s music was still playing through her comm, and Satya suddenly came to her senses. She could still see the river, but the bridge was on the other side of her now. The building she was on top of was rather small and low to the ground, and the structures all around her were even smaller. Tarps were strewn about and wood was painted in pastel colors. Satya felt uneasy.

The agent lifted the draining sword in both hands, and Satya weakly put up another dome shield as the blade fell. The frame of the sword was held in place outside the dome, but one of the beams passed through it, slowly dissipating the barrier as it had before.

Satya couldn’t keep this up, but she couldn’t let herself be taken back to Vishkar. She’d tried everything she was willing to, but there were still other options. Energy began to build between the prongs of her projector.

Satya rolled out of the way as the shield dissipated, the agent’s blade striking the ground where she’d just been lying. She aimed and steadied the projector as the agent raised the sword in one hand for another quick strike.

Satya’s termination blast struck the agent in the chest, blowing off pieces of armor and leaving visible, smoking burns. The right half of his chestplate was gone, as was the armor that had been on his right shoulder. The blue and white undersuit was charred with streaks of black, and skin was exposed in several places.

The agent stumbled backward, but remained standing.

What the fuck was with this guy?

The agent swiped the sword sideways, knocking the photon projector from Satya’s hands. The weapon clattered to a halt near the edge of the roof. He brought the sword up overhead and struck it downward.

Satya caught the central column of the sword between her hands, but felt it slipping out of her grasp. The music playing through her comm suddenly cut out as the blade neared the left side of her head, and warnings indicated her hardlight visor was losing power. After a short struggle, she felt the solid part of the blade against her left shoulder, one of the draining beams running through her chest just above her heart. Satya felt tired, her senses failing her, and struggled to keep her eyes open as her arms fell limply to her sides.

Her eyes fell shut, only managing to open for fleeting moments. She saw the agent construct something. She felt herself being lifted and carried over a shoulder, a hardlight emitter pushing into the small of her back. She drifted off just as she heard the familiar hum of a waiting teleporter.




Satya woke with a start from a loud sound, but she couldn’t remember what it had been.

A moment later she was dropped against a hard surface.

She could hear the faint hum of a teleporter, and wondered how many she’d been pushed through while she’d been unconscious. Depending on the type, she could be anywhere in the world.

She couldn’t open her eyes, but she didn’t want to. She just knew she’d been taken somewhere dark and cold and far away, where Lena and Lúcio would never find her. She would open her eyes to Vishkar agents standing over her. She wondered if Sanjay was there, or if she would have to wait longer for him to arrive.

She heard another thud on the ground beside her.

They’ve captured someone else, Satya realized with horror. Lúcio? Lena?

She tried to reach out, but couldn’t get her arm to move. She wasn’t restrained, just completely drained from the armored agent’s sword. She tried to say something, even a whisper, but her voice failed her.

Through the fog, she heard faint footsteps somewhere nearby. They weren’t heavy like those of the agent. They were light enough that they couldn’t possibly be from boots, perhaps not even shoes…

“You better be able to walk, amiga, because I am not fucking carrying you.”

Satya finally managed to open her eyes, recoiling from an unexpected bright light above her. It was the open sky.

She was still on the rooftop.

She turned onto her side to see that the armored agent had fallen to his knees beside her. He was slumped over, held upright only by his armor plates bracing against one another. Blood flowed from several holes in the unarmored right side of his chest. He was still.

Amiga? Can you hear me?” A pause. “Mierda!

With a start, the footsteps sped to a sprint as they grew closer. Satya felt arms around her as her eyes fell closed again, and everything went dark.

Chapter Text

Ugh. Wake up already!”

Satya felt a hand slapping her face, her cheek stinging from the scratch of long fingernails.

“Oh! Lo siento!

Satya still couldn’t open her eyes, but she focused on the fearful, apologetic voice with all the strength she had left. A frantic voice masked by traces of pronounced bitterness.

She heard a faint mechanical sound that was followed, almost immediately, by another hard slap. That one hadn’t scratched her, for some reason.

“You need to stay awake, amiga. If those pendejos were trying to take you alive, they did a real shit job of it.”

Satya noticed the throbbing pain above her left eye and winced internally. She felt herself drifting into unconsciousness, but fought desperately to remain awake. An ice pack, wrapped in some type of cloth, was pressed against her forehead, and it seemed to soothe the pain somewhat.

“Drink this. You need to get your energy back.”

She heard a strange popping sound, and felt cool metal against her lips. The flavor stung her tongue slightly, but she drank it anyway. She couldn’t say much for the taste, but she certainly felt energized by whatever it was.

Satya opened her eyes. She was lying on her back across a small couch, her head resting, elevated, on a strange pile of smooth, cool fabric she couldn’t identify. Daylight poured into the room from somewhere above and behind her. Sombra had pulled up a padded chair with the same blue-grey material as the couch, and she seemed to relax when Satya’s eyes met hers.

Satya had been entirely certain she’d been captured by Vishkar. She’d resigned herself to it, knowing that whatever they would have done to her might very well have been worse than dying on that rooftop. Being with Sombra now felt like a dream.

But it wasn’t. Satya couldn’t move her arms or her legs. She could barely turn her head. But right then she had no need to escape, or to fight. She was exhausted, but she could have lain there forever, feeling safe and secure in Sombra’s care. A warm feeling of gratitude washed over her.

On the far side of the room, Satya could see a large desk along the wall. Next to it was an open hallway that extended backward to, presumably, several rooms on either side. The carpet was blue-grey like the seat cushions. It was some sort of front-desk waiting area, but the ceiling lights were off and Satya could see or hear no one else in the building. The desk was oddly empty, as were the black, circular, three-legged tables that dotted the room near a few other couches and chairs.

Satya looked to the right, spotting her hardlight visor and photon projector on a table near her feet. To the left, Sombra had set up another table near Satya’s head. On it were what looked to be a hastily picked-through first aid kit and the empty can of some sort of soft drink.

Satya rolled her eyes, eyeing the black can decorated with neon blue, green, and pink coloration. “Is this a proper medical procedure?” she said as she raised an eyebrow.

Sombra seemed relieved at hearing her speak, and took a slow breath. “It was the best I could do on short notice,” she said as she shrugged her left shoulder. Satya noticed that the hacker’s right arm was still outstretched, holding the cold pack to her temple. She could see where the teal-blue around her fingers faded to periwinkle near her elbow, running into magenta as it…

Satya finally placed the fabric that was piled under her head as she noticed Sombra wasn’t wearing her coat. The hacker’s strange arm-stockings disappeared into a dual-color, black and purple top that looked like some combination of a t-shirt and a bodysuit. It was… rather form-fitting, Satya noticed with a slight blush, but not in a way that looked uncomfortable.

Satya also noticed a thin, threadlike, silver-blue chain that was pulled oddly tight against Sombra’s neck. It seemed out-of-place, both in comparison to her usual preferred colors and in the rather unnatural way it sat around her throat.

Sombra slouched a little in her chair, breathing heavily in apparent frustration – with whom or what, Satya could not be certain – as her eyes darted back and forth in a manner Satya recognized as avoiding eye contact.

“Thank you,” Satya managed weakly as she turned to stare up at the ceiling, hoping it would put Sombra at ease.

“Don’t thank me,” Sombra commanded bitterly, “I’m the one who got you into this.” There was an undertone of guilt in her voice.

“I do not see how,” Satya noted, confused by the admission.

Sombra laughed darkly, apparently realizing something. “In more ways than one, I suppose,” she said more to herself than to Satya.

“You saved my life twice today.”

“No, I didn’t, amiga. Vishkar wasn’t going to kill you.”

“As you said before, perhaps someone should have told them that.”

Sombra sighed. “That’s not what I meant,” she began, annoyance seeping into her voice. “It was none of my damn business. You would have been safer with them.” Satya was beginning to suspect that the woman was talking about something distinctly separate from the morning’s events.

“But it would not have been a life.”

At that, Sombra was silent for a while. Satya noticed the pressure from the woman’s arm faltering, apparently from exhaustion. She tried to move her own limbs, but she only got weak responses from her legs and right arm. Her left arm was still shut down completely.

“Oh, hold on,” Sombra said quickly, audibly shifting her position in the chair. Satya turned to watch as the woman laid a hand on her arm. Magenta lines spread across the hardlight surface, and the arm began responding again as it rebooted. “Just needed a jumpstart, should be good for a while,” Sombra said as she looked up to meet Satya’s eyes again.

Satya raised the slowly recharging prosthetic arm toward her forehead, holding the ice pack in place herself. Sombra pulled her hand away quickly as their fingers touched, and Satya thought she might have heard that mechanical sound again.

“This is no life either,” Sombra said with resignation as she settled back into her chair and averted her gaze. She didn’t elaborate. She just sat there, looking more like she was attending a funeral than waiting by the bedside of someone who was still alive. Satya noticed fear growing in her eyes again. It was the same fear from the night before. The fear that had made Sombra push frantically away.

The night before…

You have always seen me afraid.

But how could she be afraid?

Satya took hold of that long pause, doing everything in her power to find the answer to that question.

Sombra knew everything about everyone. All the knowledge in the world seemed to be at her fingertips, not to mention her apparent ability to appear almost anywhere and avoid detection. She had been terrifying when Satya had first met her, what could someone like her possibly have to be scared of?

Something had to have happened the night before. It had been a sudden realization, an immediate reaction. The fear had struck Sombra just as her expression had started to change. Just as she’d started to…

Just as she’d started to care.

And that had been enough to make her push Satya away, despite how very clear it was that she didn’t want to.

I’m the one who got you into this.

She’d gotten Satya involved in something, some sort of situation. Something dangerous, perhaps. Something Sombra felt guilt over.

Vishkar wasn’t going to kill you.

Did that mean someone else was? Someone connected to the situation she was now in? Someone dangerous enough to make Sombra afraid?

Was it something to do with Talon? It was the obvious answer, but it didn’t seem like the right fit to Satya. Talon might have had leverage on Sombra, the same way Sombra had leverage on her. It may have been why the hacker was working for them, and she’d clearly gotten Satya ‘involved’ by using her as an informant.

But Sombra had only recently become involved with Talon, hadn’t she? As far as Overwatch knew, at least. Whatever was weighing on her… it seemed like more than that. Something ingrained. Something she’d had to live with for a very long time, something she’d adapted to…

Adaptations.

Sombra clearly didn’t want to be found. Didn’t want to be caught, perhaps. Everything about her suddenly added up: her invisibility, whatever that ability was that allowed her to teleport out of any situation, the powerful hacking tools built directly into her body. Her footwear was specifically designed for silent movement. She wore gloves, possibly to avoid leaving fingerprints, if she even still had fingerprints. She got everything she wanted through proxies. She had everyone convinced her actions could be blamed on a hacker collective. She was running, hiding, from something. Something that terrified her enough to turn herself into this… shadow.

But all of that meant she could never care about anyone. Whatever danger she was in, she couldn’t afford to. It was leverage that could be used against her. Sombra could disappear whenever she wanted, but she couldn’t take anyone with her. She would always be alone.

This is no life either.

Sombra must have noticed the utter hurt on Satya’s face, and began to eye the architech suspiciously.

Satya managed to move her limbs the most she had been able to since she’d woken up, but couldn’t find the strength to stand up, rush over, and wrap her arms around Sombra like she so desperately wanted to. It was probably for the best, she realized. She knew from experience that even if it helped in the moment, it would only make Sombra feel worse later.

Satya finally understood how Lena must have felt at not being able to offer comfort.

Sombra only seemed to grow impatient as Satya grew more and more heartbroken. She bitterly forced air through her teeth. “What is it now?”

Satya stared for a moment, taking deep breaths as she searched for something to say. She didn’t want to ask about the details. She knew she wouldn’t get any answers, and right at that moment she didn’t particularly care what the truth was. The truth wouldn’t help Sombra feel less alone.

“How long have you been living like this?” Satya finally asked with hurt in her voice.

Sombra scowled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, amiga,” she sneered unconvincingly.

Satya sighed. “You do not have to tell me why. I will not ask.”

“You’re going to trust me just like that, are you?” She raised an eyebrow and forced a grin.

“Yes.”

Sombra’s face went blank, her expression unreadable. She averted her eyes again.

Satya lay flat on her back and looked up at the ceiling. “Perhaps this would be easier if I told you what I already know.”

Sombra scoffed. “You really think you know anything about me?”

“Please,” Satya rolled her eyes. “You know me well enough to know that I do.”

At that, Sombra was silent.

“You are running from something,” Satya began, and by design she couldn’t see Sombra’s reaction. The hacker might have been throwing up another façade, but it would have made no difference.

“You have been for some time,” she continued. “The life you lead does not permit you to become close with anyone. It would be a vulnerability. Instead, you use leverage to create enforced situations of reciprocal benefit. These ‘friends’ of yours are the closest to the real thing that you can ever allow yourself to have.”

She let that sink in for a moment, taking a deep breath before going on. “You are pushing me away because you believe that being close to you puts me in danger, or that I could be used as leverage against you. I am not aware of the situation’s gravity, so in this matter I… I trust your judgement. But you do not need to lie to me.”

They were both silent for a long moment. Satya was nervous, unsure of what she should expect. Sombra likely did not want her to have any of this information. Would she be angry?

“Almost twenty years,” Sombra said simply, sounding resigned.

Satya turned her head, and her heart broke. Sombra looked… lost. She was staring down at the floor, her arms tightly crossed in front of her.

“It happened when I was a child,” She added, looking up to meet Satya’s gaze. “That’s how long.” Her sad eyes were wide and haunted.

To have lived two-thirds of her life so completely isolated, unable to make any lasting connections. Satya knew the feeling well, and she remembered just how much it had broken her. “You should not have to live like this.”

“Yeah, nobody should,” Sombra smirked in bitter irony, “but here I am.” She made a grand gesture with her arms. Her face fell again as she clasped her hands, wincing at something.

“But I am not very good at it, amiga,” she continued, seeming frustrated. “I make too many mistakes, get too close to the people I hack. You don’t collect as much information on people as I do without feeling like you know them.”

She looked up at Satya, seeming uncertain about whatever she wanted to say next.

“I always feel like I want to do something,” Sombra finally continued, “to help them out, in ways where no one would ever know it was me. Making sure certain approvals go through, putting a little extra cash in someone’s account…” She paused. “…sending someone information that was being kept from them.”

Satya turned that last example over in her head, her eyes widening as she made the connection. “You… that message…”

“When I hacked LumériCo, I found that they had dealings with Vishkar. I got into their systems, and found your personnel file. And Sanjay’s emails. I mean, I always knew he was an ass, but…”

“Why did you help me?” Satya asked, curious.

Sombra scoffed. “It wasn’t because I liked you or anything. I just wanted to mess with Vishkar.” Her expression faltered for a moment. “Okay, that was a lie.” There was a sadness in her eyes, and she turned to avert her gaze as she continued. “You… reminded me of someone. Someone I wish I could help sometimes.”

She seemed mournful, regretful, and filled with a sad resignation. The more Satya learned about the woman, the more heartbroken she became.

The frustration returned to Sombra’s voice. “I couldn’t do anything for her, but I could do something stupid to make myself feel better, so I did.”

“And I am glad for it,” Satya pleaded. “You feel. That is not stupid.”

“You don’t understand! ” Sombra snapped, her voice loud and stinging. “You’ll never understand. No one does. This is so much bigger than you know,” Her eyes were wide and her hands were shaking as she looked down at her tensed, curled fingers. “Bigger than Overwatch, bigger than Talon, bigger than everything!

She was spiraling.

Satya set the ice pack down on the table, managing to move herself just enough to swing her legs off of the couch. “Please…” she said weakly as she struggled to sit up, “do not do this alone. You cannot see how it is hurting you.”

“You don’t…” Sombra’s expression fluctuated as she tried to regain her composure. “I can do this. I just need to stop making mistakes, stop being so stupid. I just need to…”

“Stop being human? ” Satya snapped in return, condescension slipping into her raised, pleading voice. “Stop caring, stop feeling? Is that what you want? To be cold and heartless?”

Something about that made the hacker stop in her tracks even before Satya reached out, taking Sombra’s hands in her own. Sombra tensed and shot a pained, shocked look at the architech’s prosthetic hand in hers.

It must have been especially cold from holding the ice pack, Satya realized, but Sombra gripped the hand warmly anyway. Rather intently, actually.

When their eyes met, Satya had the distinct sense that some horrifying realization was finally dawning on Sombra. She was frozen in place. Something desperately apologetic in her shock.

After a long moment, Sombra withdrew her hands, staring down into her open palms before closing her eyes, breathing deeply. When her eyes opened again they were narrowed, but Satya could tell they had been wet with tears. Sombra stood up, retrieving her coat and putting it on. “You should leave. They’re probably wondering where you are. Can you walk?”

“I… think so,” Satya answered, surprised at the woman’s sudden matter-of-fact tone. She’d wanted to deny it, to buy herself more time, but she knew Lena and Lúcio would be worried about her. She realized, with a pang of guilt, that she had been missing for quite some time without contacting them, and stood up quickly.

As if on cue, Sombra pulled something small from her coat, handing Satya her comm link. “Energy drain flatlined it. You’ll have to find your way on your own.”

“Can… can you see the bridge from here?” Satya asked as she put on her visor and picked up her photon projector. Her worry pulled her though the parting interaction, in spite of how much she felt Sombra was leaving things unresolved. But something had clicked, and it was evident they were now parting on much better terms than they had last night.

“Yes,” Sombra answered, “and don’t worry about Vishkar. They’re a little busy at the moment.” Something in her mischievous smile told Satya all she needed to know about why they were so suddenly occupied. “Now go, your friends are looking for you.”

Satya paused as she made for a door to her left that she assumed led to the street exit. “You are my friend too, Sombra.”

Sombra laughed a sad, quiet laugh as she smiled warmly.

“People don’t usually say it back.”

Chapter Text

When Satya took her first step outside, she found herself in some sort of back alley in between closely packed buildings. She was standing on dry dirt, and weeds grew unkempt in many places at the base of the walls around her. Over the tops of what Satya guessed might be apartment complexes, she saw the distant, towering metal structure of the massive bridge.

Satya heard the flash of a camera. Alarmed, she turned quickly on her feet, trying to pinpoint the source of the noise.

A young girl, no more than 10, was peeking around a corner a fair distance away, holding a blue, plastic camera in front of her eyes. When she lowered it, Satya briefly saw a different face, one with an angry burn all around one eye, flash through her mind as she shuddered with guilt.

The girl standing in the present, her face perfect and unmarred, pulled a small, glossy piece of paper from the side of the camera, and rushed toward Satya.

“Can you sign it?” she asked, forcing the piece of paper into Satya’s hands. It was a wide shot portrait image of the architech, who seemed to stare slightly upward at something to the left of the frame. “It’s Symmetra, right?”

How did she know…

Satya remembered how the armored agent had used her codename at the rather public outset of their encounter. Everyone in the city probably knew who she was by now, and her outfit was distinct enough to be immediately recognizable.

“You… want my autograph? ” Satya asked, confused.

The girl nodded enthusiastically as she slid a pen out of a holster on the side of the device, and Satya realized just how much the child mirrored what she, herself, had looked like at that age. She shuddered again, remembering the last time she’d thought that about someone.

“I… am not someone whose autograph you should be wanting,” Satya said with guilt in her voice.

“But you’re a hero!” the girl exclaimed, giving Satya an odd look. “You saved all those people, you were amazing! That shield thing was so cool!”

“I am not… cool,” Satya said skeptically. The word felt unfamiliar on her tongue.

“Well, if you’re friends with Tracer and Lúcio, you’re gonna be cool someday!”

Satya supposed that was the path she was on, was it not? Joining Overwatch likely meant becoming a public figure – a celebrity, even. That was, as long as the Calado footage never got out, and as long as she survived whatever danger she was now in. But Satya did not feel like a hero. She was filled with regret, and dark secrets still weighed on her. She hadn’t saved anyone. She was the reason Vishkar had put those people in danger in the first place. She might receive praise for her actions today, but she didn’t feel like she deserved it.

But this girl, Satya realized, didn’t see any of that. She saw something different; someone who looked like her, out making the world a better place. Satya didn’t like that responsibility. She could never be the hero this child thought she was. But… this was not about herself, was it?

“Just a moment,” Satya said, handing back the photograph as she constructed a simple rectangular panel out of hardlight – she thought about using one of the walls to write on, but they did look rather dirty…

The girl watched Satya’s movements intently, her eyes widening in awe. She excitedly handed over the photo and the pen when Satya reached for them. Satya held the photo against the panel with her thumb, stopping to make sure the edges of the two rectangles were perfectly parallel, and wrote slowly, neatly in the space on the right side of the image.

“It doesn’t need to be perfect,” the girl said, seeming impatient at how long it was taking.

“It does for me,” Satya said simply as she carefully penned each letter, “my mind does not work the same as yours. I apologize if that is inconvenient.” She had found it surprisingly easy to say as she finished writing, examined her work for any mistakes, and handed back the photo.

In the hope that one day, I may be someone worthy of your admiration.

“Do not show this to anyone, not right away,” Satya said, provoking only mild disappointment on the girl’s face as she read the quotation with slight confusion. Hardlight scattered into nothing as Satya dismissed the panel, and she stooped down to meet the young girl’s eyes. “Someday,” she said, resting one finger on the top edge of the photograph, “you may decide, for yourself, whether or not this is something you can be proud of.”

“O-okay!” The girl said, holding the photo excitedly as Satya stood up again. “And you do have really nice handwriting!”

That made Satya smile. Perhaps the world did not have to be so cruel, after all.

As Satya turned to leave, bidding farewell to her young admirer, she resolved that she would try. She would try to be the hero the girl saw her as – if not for her own sake, then for the sake of what she could accomplish.

She was an Overwatch agent, after all. For the first time, the organization felt like more than her escape plan, more than something secure to cling to in an uncertain world. More, even, than a new family of sorts. Perhaps, it would be a way for her to achieve the dream she had thought lost. She could make a better world, and this time it just might be true. A world that would be better because maybe, by example, she could make it a little more understanding.

Satya spent more time than she would have liked working her way out of the jumble of buildings. The last thing she wanted to do was ask the girl to help her. Eventually, she found herself at the edge of a main street, one that extended southward toward the bridge. She walked along the sidewalks, hoping she would eventually be able to retrace her tracks and find Lena and Lúcio.

Her visor still had enough power that she didn’t have to worry about how loud the crowds were, but she still had to contend with a surprising amount of people as she made her way toward the city center. Most of them stared at her oddly, some taking pictures or video, and Satya tried to ignore them. A few seemed to get angry when they saw her, likely recognizing her Vishkar equipment, but just as often, someone nearby would whisper something in the person’s ear or show them something on a cell phone, and those who had before seemed displeased would look on her with softened or even grateful expressions.

The sights, sounds, and scents were conflicting for Satya. Kolkata was not exactly like Hyderabad, but there was some familiarity to the city’s…

Culture.

Satya considered the word again as she walked through the mass of people going about their mid-morning activities. There were some things that seemed almost nostalgic, even though much of her surroundings still brought her discomfort. The scents of foods she remembered liking mixed with unfamiliar ones, and with those that she hadn’t been so fond of. The people dressed in specific ways that she only now took notice of, having grown used to the fashion trends of other parts of the world. Restaurants and other specialty shops seemed imbued with familiar styles, even as the more traditional buildings intermixed with sleek, modern ones.

This was Satya’s culture, or part of it at least. As it was structured in reality, so chaotic and fast-paced, she felt she would always be excluded from participation, but she realized that the idea of it did mean something to her. It was saddening, in a way, but also somewhat comforting to have made the distinction.

After a time, Satya heard cheers and shouts from one of the side streets in front of her, and her heart rose in relief as they were followed by a familiar techno beat. Lúcio sped out on his skates, his eyes widening as he caught sight of Satya, and rushed over to where she had stopped in place.

“Hey, you okay?” he asked in frantic concern, “Is everything alright? What happened?”

“I am… fine,” Satya said as she realized she would need a cover story for the time she had been in Sombra’s care. “I was… moved a great distance by the architech’s teleporters, and it has been difficult to find my way back.” She figured that was true enough.

“What happened to that guy, anyway?”

Satya paused for a moment before looking guiltily down at her photon projector. She had fired a killing shot, she realized. The fact that it hadn’t worked didn’t change her decision. “I do not like to kill if I do not have to, but…”

“But you had to,” Lúcio finished with a sad understanding in his voice, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. He looked pointedly around, and Satya noticed that the two of them were attracting significant attention. “Can we talk somewhere?” he asked after a moment, gesturing Satya to follow, as if he had somewhere specific in mind.

“Where is Lena?” Satya asked, with a slight worry building in her voice, as they started walking.

“Getting our wheels back up and running,” Lúcio answered, “Well, not wheels, but you know what I mean. Sent me out to cover more ground.”

Satya felt reassured, taking in the sights as they continued their journey through the city. Lúcio was contemplating their surroundings as well, and seemed as if he was thinking of saying something.

“This must be…” he finally began, “well, I don’t really know what it would be like for you. Being here, I mean.”

Satya knew, instantly, what he was asking. “It is… disorienting,” she began. “Unsettling. But in some ways, it is also pleasant, in a bittersweet way. I suppose I understand the importance of being close to one’s… culture,” she emphasized the word for Lúcio’s benefit, “even if I am largely incompatible with my own.”

“What do you mean?” Lúcio asked with concern in his voice.

“I mean to say… that I want these things, I suppose. The familiarity. The belonging. Even if I never will belong in a place like this.” The sentiment seemed familiar to Satya, and she rolled her eyes as she made the connection. “I suppose that is how it will be for most things in my life.”

“Oh…” Lúcio said, his voice quiet and saddened. He winced. “I’m… sorry I said those things before.”

“It is alright,” Satya said, “There are many ways to feel connected to one’s past. For me, it is something personal, not participatory. Belonging is something I can seek elsewhere.”

Lúcio smiled. “Well, I don’t think you’ll have to look too hard for that.”

Satya tentatively returned the smile. Indeed, she hoped that she would not.

She still wondered why Lúcio had wanted to speak to her alone, then realized, with a start, that he had heard the armored agent mention Calado during the fight. Her eyes went wide, and she was silent for the rest of their trek.

They managed to lose the crowds as Lúcio led her into a large, forested area, ending up at a secluded picnic table, almost completely hidden from sight by the surrounding vegetation. Lúcio sat opposite Satya, appearing nervous and contemplative.

“So… about that thing…” he finally began, “…you seemed real freaked out when that knight guy mentioned Calado.”

“Did you tell Lena?” Satya asked with a sudden fear in her eyes.

“No,” Lúcio answered. “Should I have?”

“Possibly,” Satya said, her relief fading quickly into tired guilt.

“I mean I wouldn’t really know what to tell.” He scratched his neck nervously. “I kinda wanted to hear it from you first. I mean, I recognize the name, but…” He calmed himself, seeming more certain as he continued. “I spent enough time believing things about you without hearing the whole story.”

“I was in the building,” Satya began quickly. She knew she didn’t have much of a choice.

But she also felt she’d had about enough of keeping secrets and telling lies, even if her whole world, her whole future, was now cast into doubt in her mind. She looked down at the table, and tears welled in her eyes as she continued, her voice breaking. “I was in the building. Before the explosion. They wanted… Vishkar wanted leverage, something to make Calado back off from the development deal. I could not find anything, so… they…”

“I remember,” Lúcio interrupted. He was listening intently, and his voice was calm, but Satya didn’t dare look up to see his expression. “And it’s not exactly surprising it was Vishkar,” he said with a quick, dark laugh.

“There were people inside. Guards. I… knocked them unconscious. Energy drain. I did not know they were going to… I was there. They died. And the fire… the favela… I tried to help, but I…”

Lúcio reached a hand over the table to where Satya had clasped hers.

She looked up at him oddly as he held her hand. “Why?” she asked, and she finally noticed the confused expression on his face.

“Why is this a secret?” Lúcio asked, as if Satya hadn’t just confessed to her role in a crime of catastrophic proportions. “I mean, if you didn’t know… that wasn’t your fault. Even if you’d been the one who did it, I’m not sure it would be, really. I mean, with what they did to you…”

Satya… wasn’t sure if she could believe that. She had been so convinced that this would be the end of her role in Overwatch, that it was unforgivable.

Sombra had convinced her of that, she realized. Had the hacker manipulated Satya into an overreaction? Was it truly such a devastating secret after all?

Lúcio did have a good point, Satya thought, at least about her not having known what Vishkar was planning. She’d barely had anything to do with the actual explosion. If it hadn’t been about what she’d done, then…

“An incident of that scale…” Satya began, having figured it out, “and I was involved. I am not sure if it matters whether it was my fault or not.”

“Of course it does.” Lúcio narrowed his eyes at her. “Did you really think we’d blame you for something like that?” He seemed to realize something, his hold on her hand faltering as he winced, and his voice was quiet and apologetic as he continued. “I mean, I guess I would’ve… but if you didn’t tell Lena…”

“I… I thought Lena had known, that Overwatch had known, but… when I found out they did not…”

Lúcio appeared to understand that, squeezing her hand tightly as his expression softened. He paused for a long moment before speaking again. “I heard stories. About that fire. About someone using Vishkar tech to save people. I… didn’t believe any of it, but it makes sense now. That was you, Satya. The real you. That’s who you are when you have a choice.”

“I failed, Lúcio,” Satya exclaimed. She remembered the burned face of the girl she had pulled from the rubble. She’d lived, but… she’d have to live like that for the rest of her life, and it was Satya’s fault that she would.

“No, you didn’t. You did what you could, you saved as many as you could, that’s all any of us can hope for. And all that other stuff you did for Vishkar… that wasn’t you. It wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter anymore. So just let it go, okay? You can let it go now. I don’t care. Lena doesn’t care. It’s over now, and I just… it hurts to see you like this.”

But it wasn’t over. Lúcio didn’t know about the footage, or about what she’d agreed to be a part of because of it. The footage could cause problems all on its own. But… was she really to blame for the situation she was in? It was difficult to even consider that she should not be feeling guilt. Guilt was what she felt about everything, after all.

Satya remembered every mistake she’d ever made, no matter how small. Awkward moments, insensitive things she’d said when she hadn’t known better, things she’d said that had been misinterpreted, or that she feared might have been misinterpreted. Things that had happened when she was only a child. Things she’d said to people she would never see again. She could forget about them for a time, but eventually something would remind her, and the guilt would wash over her just as strongly as it had in the moment.

All of them weighed on her, made her long for the chance to apologize, to clarify, even for the things that had happened decades ago. But what she really wanted to do, every time she remembered one of them, was to apologize for existing. For bothering to try, when she didn’t feel like she could ever do anything right.

Something as significant as Calado… it had never occurred to her that it would not have been her fault. Everything that had gone wrong, that had involved her, was her fault. Satya had become convinced of this. But hearing it now, from Lúcio, it suddenly seemed illogical that she would be at fault for something that was done without her knowledge. Even the small part she had played had been under orders. Was it her own fault for not knowing better? She could not have expected herself to. Others would have, certainly, but it all came back to…

…to whether she should blame herself for not meeting the world’s expectations of her. She had at one time, but since becoming an architech, she had tried to see herself differently. But so much of that had been cast again into doubt when she realized she had been deceived for most of her life. It was a question Satya thought she might never be able to answer.

Lúcio stood up, letting go of Satya’s hand as he moved around to her side of the table.

“There is more to it,” Satya snapped quickly as he made to sit down next to her. “There is more I am not saying. You should not think that is all. But…” she remembered, rather fondly, how everything had turned out, “…I believe I may have it handled.”

Lúcio smiled warmly, sitting beside Satya. His arms were restless in a way that she knew meant he wanted to comfort her. Satya nodded, and relaxed into his shoulder as he held her tightly.

“Whatever it is…” Lúcio began, “…I know it’s not your fault.”

Satya knew that at any other time, that would not have helped at all. In fact, it would have made everything so much worse. But for so many of Satya’s regrets, she could now see that she hadn’t had a choice in the matter, and that that did matter. She couldn’t absolve herself of the guilt, it did not feel right to, but she was no longer certain she should let it weigh on her forever like she had been so content to.

“Perhaps it is not,” she said, finally.

Chapter Text

After a few minutes, Lúcio seemed to hear something over his comm, and got up to leave.

“Was that Lena?” Satya asked, moving to follow.

“Yeah, she found somewhere to park...” He trailed off and looked at her oddly. “Your comm not working?”

“Energy drain,” Satya said with a sigh.

“Oh, right,” Lúcio snarked, “I should work on a track for that. Those weapons are really annoying. It’s a good thing my amplifier has an external power supply.”

“If I recall correctly,” Satya said with a smile and a hint of condescension, “it was your idea to throw your weapon directly into the beams.”

“Hey, that almost worked!

“’almost’ is, nonetheless, a failing grade.”

Lúcio raised an eyebrow. “And what grade would you give my epic grind down that handrail?” He smiled proudly.

“Thirty-two degrees, I believe,” Satya deadpanned with just a hint of smugness.

Lúcio’s smile faded to confusion for a moment. “…I’m gonna go ahead and assume that was something clever I didn’t get.”

Satya and Lúcio made their way to a shaded and isolated part of the wooded area, where Lena had hidden the Porpoise inside a cluster of trees. Lena turned as she heard them approaching, and to their sudden shock, closed the distance in a single blink and swept them both into a gigantic hug.

“Oh, it’s so great to see you, loves!” she said, almost tearfully, as she squeezed them tightly in her arms. “Are you both alright?” she asked as she pulled away to look them both over.

“Nothing a little rhythm couldn’t fix!” Lúcio said with a grin.

“I sustained rather disorienting head trauma,” Satya admitted, “but I am feeling better now.”

“I should still look at that, actually,” Lúcio said as he eyed her forehead with some concern.

Satya sat down in her usual place in the middle of the left side bench, as Lúcio dug though his backpack for first aid supplies. He was rather skilled as a medic, even excepting his use of Vishkar’s sound technology. He took the seat to her left as he began looking over the wound.

“It doesn’t look too bad, honestly,” he said with some surprise, “I think the music I was playing over comms took care of most of it.”

“How did you restore power to the vehicle?” Satya asked in Lena’s direction.

“Solar charge points embedded in the roof,” Lena said with a grin. “Now, since they kinda know which car we’re driving now, we need to make some changes. First color you think of, 3-2-1-go!”

Satya closed her lips around the word ‘purple’ before it could escape them, trying her hardest to focus on those lips instead of the ones she’d been thinking of. A color that exemplified the complete opposite of stealth would not have been a very helpful suggestion.

“Gr—” Lúcio began, apparently suffering a similar problem before correcting, “uh, blue.”

Input accepted,” Athena chimed in from above.

As they pulled out onto the road, Satya turned around to watch their reflection pass by in the windows of buildings. Sure enough, the Porpoise was now a deep, metallic shade of blue. Satya momentarily forgot about lips and thought of a certain pair of eyes, instead.

They crossed the gigantic Howrah Bridge, looking in awe at the massive metal structure above them. Satya felt a small comfort at leaving the city behind, the security of no longer being where Vishkar had last located them, but there was also a twinge of melancholy buried deep. She did feel a connection to the place, to the country she was well on her way to leaving behind once more, possibly forever. Satya closed her eyes and let go. Her culture would always be with her in a different way, but she’d found something new. A world that would slow down and make room for her the way this world would not. A family.

“So, Satya, what happened, anyway?” Lena asked. “You were gone for a long time. We were… we were really worried about you, love.” There were traces of guilt in her voice.

“Later,” Satya replied, “I… have a lot to process, at the moment.”

“Okay, love, take your time,” Lena answered, “I’m just… I’m really glad you’re okay.”

Satya nodded to Lúcio, and he began to relay what she had told him about her encounter with the agent. Satya leaned back in her chair, deep in thought. She did have a lot to process. A great many things had happened in quick succession, leaving Satya little time in-between to think them over.

Vishkar had attacked, and they’d been surprisingly public about it. They’d been trying to recapture her. They’d said things to Satya that she recognized as part of Sanjay’s conditioning protocol. How had they located her? Had they spotted her as she’d been walking to the hotel, or had it been somewhere in the halls? She couldn’t rule out either of those possibilities; she would have to be more careful in the future.

And Sombra… Sombra was involved in something, something that made her afraid, had isolated her for most of her life. But Satya had gotten through to her, somehow, in some way. She had no idea what would happen next, but she didn’t feel like she should be afraid of never seeing her again.

Satya caught the strangeness of that thought, and realized that while so much had happened since yesterday, her path forward now seemed so much simpler than it had prior.

She didn’t feel the need to concern herself with so many secrets anymore, or with the guilt of keeping them. She was on good terms with Lena and Lúcio, and for the moment could set aside the constant fear that she would lose those friendships. She wasn’t even sure whether she was still being blackmailed, it seemed like something long forgotten. Everything in her was devoted instead to finding some way to help Sombra. She hadn’t the faintest idea what that might be, or what dangers she would put herself in by doing so, but it was one, solitary goal she could cling to.

And she wanted to pursue that goal. Sombra was hurting and alone, the way Satya herself had been not so long ago. The idea of leaving her, of leaving anyone, to that same fate was unacceptable, but… there was more to it.

Satya had been so distraught after last night that the only thinking she’d done about her… encounter with Sombra had been a bit of quick deduction while the hacker had been helping her recover from the battle. There were so many things she could have been thinking about, but the one moment Satya couldn’t seem to escape from was the very last second before Sombra had pulled away. The look in her eyes, that desperate longing for something more, something that must have pained her so, to convince herself she could never have.

And Satya felt it too. She hadn’t been able to place it, never having experienced anything like it before. But it was an overpowering feeling, something she wanted more than anything in the world. Something that terrified her at the same time it seemed to alleviate all of her fears.

Love.

The word tasted odd and bitter in her thoughts. It had always been something foreign to her, something she was vaguely aware that other people could experience. It was a word that her family had used, that they had seemed to think would be reassuring.

But Satya felt as if she finally understood it. At least, she supposed, in a way that made sense to her. There was a certain defiance in it, in having found it in such a different way than would have been expected of her. It did not feel like conceding to the world’s wishes, to the disorder of human nature. It felt like something new, something distinctly orderly. Symmetrical. Most of all, it felt right in a way that she could not clearly put into words.

I am in love, Satya thought to herself, and I suppose that is not such a bad thing.




It was a smoother journey than Satya had expected, though it made her no less nervous. She barely felt the motions of the Porpoise even as it quickly and effortlessly ascended steep slopes in the mountains of Nepal.

It was snow and rock as far as the eye could see. Satya found it strange that anyone would choose to live in a place like this, so cut-off from the world.

As they crested over another ridge, Satya’s eyes went wide at the sight before them. She heard Lúcio gasp. Lena was silent.

There were three layers of structures built on the slope of a large mountain peak, and the highest ledge housed an incredibly large, majestic stone building. Long, golden banners trailed from a wide central spire and several smaller ones at its corners.

It was nearly sunset when the Porpoise finally crept up the near-vertical slope and appeared at the edge of a stone courtyard. The moment the doors opened, Satya suddenly regretted the fact that she was still wearing her combat uniform, and that it left her three organic limbs largely exposed to the elements. She found herself huddling her right arm close against her waist as she carried her suitcase across the distance to the monastery. Lúcio seemed to be shivering as well, clutching a bare, tattooed shoulder with his free hand.

To their left was a much smaller, open building, and to their right was the cliff edge. They moved to navigate an ornate stone centerpiece as four large statues of omnic monks levitated around them.

As Satya rounded the sculpture, she caught sight of a congregation of monks waiting to either side of the entrance, and at several places on the sloping edges of the staircase that led up into the building. Like the statues, they were levitating in cross-legged sitting postures, far enough off the ground that their heads were just shy of standing height, with their hands held in various meditation poses.

At the top of the staircase stood a white-and-grey plated metallic humanoid, but one that lacked the piston-supported skeletal structure characteristic of most omnics Satya had encountered. The figure seemed to more closely evoke a human muscle structure, and was decorated with several groupings of rings of green light. An angular, silver faceplate was divided horizontally by a line of the same lime-green light, one that angled down into a ‘v’-shape in the middle.

Damn,” Lúcio said from somewhere behind Satya, but she was too distracted by the cold and by her observations to determine the word’s inflection.

“Genji!” Lena shouted in greeting, and blinked across the gap and up the stairs to throw her arms around the standing figure. Satya and Lúcio offered polite greetings to the gathered monks as they hurriedly followed her.

As they neared the entrance, Satya felt warm, humid air wash over her, and she stopped in her tracks. She looked over to Lúcio, who had stopped as well and shot her a surprised look in return.

“I believe your friends would like to get out of the cold as soon as possible,” Genji said to Lena, in a filtered, cybernetic voice that was still clearly accented and imbued with a good-natured humor.

Lúcio shrugged, and Satya nodded a bit more enthusiastically than she’d intended.

Genji chuckled and stood aside, gesturing inward with his left arm. Satya could now see he had two scabbards on his back, one mounted from his right shoulder to his left side, and a shorter one from his left side to his right thigh.

They entered into a wide hall with grated, patterned windows on the far side that vaguely evoked the structures of plants or trees. Beyond them was a vast, open area where several smaller buildings seemed to be built into the walls, connected by multiple levels of walkways and lit by a skylight far above. Ribbons crisscrossed the open air, and the heat throughout the building seemed to be provided by a hot spring somewhere below. A lowered, central platform was bordered on three sides by a large, bracket-shaped opening, from which steam rose.

Genji led them to a spacious room just to the left of the main entry hall, one lit by several groupings of candles that sparsely lined the stone walls like growths of plants or fungi. A deep red carpet was outlined by a stone ‘sidewalk’ of sorts. One corner of the room was open, a small staircase leading down to a walkway behind the entry hall. Other wide doorways led, presumably, to other areas of the monastery.

There were several simple wooden chairs and tables set up in the corner across from where they’d entered, where a small space was partially sectioned off by a rectangular stone pillar and a few groups of candles. Clay pots lined one of the outer walls, while a large wooden lattice lined the other. On the far side of the pillar, hidden from view as they had entered the room, was a low cabinet of drawers that doubled as a large table, on which sat a serving station for hot soup and tea.

Satya was grateful for the warm meal and took a seat in the corner near the pillar, setting her bowl and cup on the small table next to her. She could have made a much more convenient arrangement out of hardlight, but decided it was more polite to accept the present accommodations. Lúcio sat to her right, Lena further down near the wall of pots, and Genji across from the three of them, by the wooden lattice.

“So,” Lena began excitedly, “Everyone, this is Genji. Genji, this is Lúcio and Satya.” She introduced them both in turn.

Genji eyed Lúcio oddly. “Lúcio?” he asked with a sudden curiosity, “The Lúcio?” He looked pointedly at the headphone-wearing frog sigil on the front of the DJ’s shirt.

“Uh, yeah, that’s me…” Lúcio said rather nervously, scratching the back of his neck and averting his gaze. He looked up again with an odd, tentative smile on his face. “You a fan?”

“Erm… indirectly, you might say,” Genji said, also seeming nervous. “But yes, I find your music most enjoyable.”

“Umm, yeah! Thanks! Always nice to meet a fan…”

Lúcio seemed oddly flustered. Satya could guess why. Genji was a rather intimidating figure, not only in his cybernetic construction, but in his rather overt style. Remembering an earlier conversation, she supposed he was someone that could accurately be described as ‘cool.’

“So, how’ve you been?” Lena interrupted the awkward silence somewhat impatiently. “I haven’t seen you in years.”

“And for that, I am most grateful,” Genji began, prompting odd looks from the other three. “I must, again, apologize for how it must have been to be near me.” He turned briefly to Satya and Lúcio, explaining, “I was not always so accepting of this form I now inhabit, and in that time, I was quick to lash out in anger.”

“This… form?” Lúcio asked, curious.

Genji lifted both his hands to his head, pressing something on either side, just behind his faceplate. The glowing visor line went out, and the plate split, along horizontal lines, into several sections. He removed the middle section, revealing…

…a shadowed pair of eyes and the bridge of a nose, nearly every inch of visible skin crisscrossed with the pale lines of a great many scars.

Satya shuddered in sympathy, finally piecing together that Genji was a cyborg. There was no way of knowing how much of the man was human and how much machine, but from how scarred his face was and how little of his faceplate seemed readily removable, she had her own, pained, suspicions.

Genji casually replaced his faceplate, the glowing green line brightening again as the panels slid back into place. “It can be inconvenient,” he continued as if nothing had happened, “but I have recognized that it also has its advantages.”

“Oh!” Lena gasped, having thought of something. “Can you do the thing with your hand?” She paused. “I mean, only if you want to, love, but it’s wicked cool!

Genji chuckled in amusement, shaking his head slightly. “Alright, just once.”

With a sigh, he raised his right hand in a fist, which seemed to split lengthwise into four sections as six blades flipped out of the gaps to form three parallel ‘v’-shapes in the spaces between his knuckles. He slowly unfurled his fingers, the blades disappearing into the back of his hand before appearing again from the underside, where he held each of the three arrangements by a third blade between his fingertips. He prominently displayed the three throwing stars before slowly making a fist again. The blades found their former place between his knuckles before folding back toward his wrist, and the sections of his hand clicked back together.

“And the sword next!” Lena prodded excitedly, “how it glows with the dragon and stuff, I always had so many questions about that!”

“I believe I have already pushed the limits of drawing weapons inside a place of such reverence,” Genji said with another small chuckle.

“Oh, right…” Lena realized, seeming disappointed.

“Before we get too carried away,” Genji began, changing the subject, “there was something I wanted to discuss with you.”

“Yeah? What is it, love?”

“It is my understanding that it is possible for another to accompany me, to reside at the watchpoint. I hope I may take advantage of that offer, if not propose an additional full-time recruit.”

“Oh,” Lena said, seeming surprised, “who do you have in mind?”

Genji looked back toward the entrance hall, where some of the monks were still conversing with one another, and made a beckoning gesture toward one of them. The omnic seemed to acknowledge the gesture, and gently hovered closer.

“Tekhartha Zenyatta,” Genji introduced, “my master. He returned here a few days ago, with the intention of offering his services to Overwatch.”

Nine metallic orbs levitated in a slow rotation around Zenyatta’s neck even as he moved. He had mostly silver plating, with a few gold components on both his body and on the nine spheres, and a square arrangement of nine small, blue lights adorned his forehead. He wore simple tan pants and a red sash, which draped over his crossed feet.

“Greetings, peace be upon you,” Zenyatta said in a calm, soothing, metallic voice as he settled in the air near Genji. “It is good to see you among friends,” he said to his apprentice.

“Master,” said Genji, “This is Lena, and her companions, Lúcio and…” He paused as his gaze lingered on Satya.

“Satya,” she said, realizing it was the first word she’d spoken since she’d sat down. “I suppose I am not very talkative.”

“Those of few words often have the most to say,” the monk said, nodding in greeting.

“So, Zenyatta,” Lena said, trying to sound casual, “why would you want to? Join Overwatch, I mean.”

She seemed extremely nervous, and Satya didn’t have to guess why. She wished she could do something to reassure Lena, but from this distance she found herself at a loss.

“The path I have chosen has led me astray from the Shambali,” the monk began, “and I was not certain I would be welcome here again, even for these few days.” He addressed the group as a whole as he continued.

“I hold, as my personal belief, that enlightenment is most surely reached though personal connections, that being present for one individual at a time creates ripples throughout the world in a way that does more to promote peace and harmony than impersonal teachings ever could. Genji has told me much of the core mission of Overwatch, and I believe that our paths may be one in the same. In short, I sense that your present journey will take me where I am needed.”

Satya could see a familiar truth in Zenyatta’s words, and found herself in agreement with the omnic’s philosophy.

Lena seemed to struggle through some basic questions directed at both of their new companions, and Lúcio appeared rather attentive to what they had to say. But as the rest of the group conversed, Satya realized how distant she had grown, feeling more like an observer to their discussion than a participant. She simply did not feel she had anything to add, and that contributing for its own sake was unnecessary and extraneous.

As she became aware of herself, Satya became uncomfortable. She suddenly felt a sensation of being dirty, from being thrown about on rooftops earlier in the day. She hadn’t had a shower since the day before, there had been no time.

Lena pulled out her phone at one point, declaring that she had a message from Winston and that she had to depart for a time. She was typing something as she left, and Satya supposed she must have been relieved at the distraction.

After she had gone, Lúcio seemed to take over, asking questions of both Genji and Zenyatta. He still seemed nervous, but their discussion was rather jovial. Satya wanted to leave, to find somewhere to get cleaned up and change out of her uniform, but felt it would be rude to interrupt. She sat with crossed arms, nervously folding the light blue fabric at her side with her fingertips.

“Are you in need of something?”

The voice made Satya jump, and she turned to find Zenyatta floating to her left. She was bewildered, not having noticed the monk move from his previous position. Glancing back, she saw that Lúcio and Genji were enthralled in conversation, oblivious that anything was amiss.

“I… was hoping there would be… accommodations,” she said softly.

“Ah, follow me,” said Zenyatta as he turned to hover away. Satya surreptitiously picked her suitcase up off of the floor and followed.

Satya briefly had a clear view, through the opposite, open corner of the room, of the open sections of floor and the steam rising from below before Zenyatta led her further into the monastery.

“Is your friend alright?” the monk asked. “Lena. I sense something troubles her.”

“Oh,” Satya said nervously, “I… do not think it is my place to say.”

“She seems disturbed by my presence, but not for the reasons I have come to expect.”

“It is not personal,” Satya said, feeling that she should clarify on this point at least. “I believe she holds you, and the Shambali, in high regard.”

“What do you believe would reassure her?”

Satya suspected that Zenyatta knew more than he was letting on, and that their present discussion was merely a courtesy, perhaps with a goal in mind that had more to do with Satya herself than with Lena. “I do not believe you could, given the details of the matter. It might only weigh on her more heavily.”

“Indeed,” the monk said, “reassurance from those who do not know the truth can often harm more than it helps. That is the true cutting edge of a secret kept.”

“I know it well,” Satya admitted.

“In that,” Zenyatta replied, “you are not alone.”

They were silent until they reached another alcove, where several other monks were gathered. Zenyatta gestured to one of them, who hovered closer. They had a similar pattern of lights to Zenyatta’s, and their plating was bronze in color.

“I finally managed to have some guest rooms set up on one of the upper floors,” the bronze-colored omnic explained as they led Satya up a rounded stairwell. “The journey to the lower village is… inconvenient for humans, and these days it is usually too cold to live there.” They shook their head. “I kept telling them not to leave the doors open…”

The stairwell opened up into a narrow stone corridor with several wooden doors widely spaced along the right-side wall. Some of the stonework seemed recently altered, to Satya’s surprise.

“I hope that Zenyatta will find his path with you,” the omnic said, stopping to hover near a door just past where the corridor angled to the left. “We respect his dedication greatly, though our methods may differ, and it has been pleasant to see him again.”

“He did not seem certain you would be so welcoming,” Satya said, remembering an earlier conversation.

“It is always a good day when one of those who has left us returns, even for a short time.”

One of,’ Satya noted, then winced, remembering Mondatta.

The monk opened the door and stood aside, and Satya’s heart sank as she entered. It was a rather plain room, with stone floors and stone walls. Irritatingly just left of center was a large bed decorated in a similar red color to the carpet downstairs, and to its right was a single, small window that looked out on the courtyard they had entered through and the sheer cliff face to the right. The room was lit by several candle-growths like the ones downstairs, including one grouping atop a low wooden cabinet along the left wall. The right wall featured a simple wooden door, presumably leading to a closet or a bathroom. There was nothing on the wall Satya had entered through except for a simple mounted coat hanger on the right side, a long wooden plank with six metal hooks.

Satya wasn’t sure what she was actually expecting, but suddenly, the hope of a pleasant, hot shower seemed despairingly far away. “Is this it? ” she asked, her tone far more disgusted and accusatory than she’d intended.

The omnic seemed amused. “This is a place for those who seek enlightenment, we provide our guests with only the basic necessities.”

Satya scowled, feeling hurt in a way that made her frustrated with herself, both for having set her hopes unreasonably high and for being rendered so lost and pained by what must seem such a slight inconvenience.

“Check the door,” the monk said in a near whisper as they floated away.

Satya closed the door to the hallway, set down her suitcase next to the cabinet, and walked over to the room’s other door. As she opened it, she was taken aback by the unexpected modernity.

The room was larger than she would have expected, and had metal walls and a metal floor, as well as artificial lighting from above. It was at least partially a restroom, complete with a shower and even a washer and dryer. Several cabinets were fully stocked with medical supplies, and there was even a repair and recharge station for cybernetics.

The Shambali certainly have a broad definition of ‘basic necessities,’ Satya thought.

Or, she corrected with a sudden realization, a rather inclusive definition of ‘guests.’

Someone like Genji would, of course, require at least a few of the seemingly excessive furnishings. Now that she thought about it, Satya supposed the entire concept of ‘basic necessities’ was rather ridiculous and untenable. What was needed to survive did not always have consistent parameters from person to person, and for someone like her, survival was not always the same as living.

Satya was suddenly very grateful for the monks’ wisdom, and felt a pang of guilt at her earlier reaction. It was lessened slightly by the fact that the interaction seemed intentionally designed for her to have made the realization herself. She brought her arm and visor back up to full power, set aside her uniform to wash later, and stepped into the shower. The hot spring water washing over her put Satya at ease.

Chapter Text

NEW CONVERSATION WITH [mtg1clgtleBR]

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Lena?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Are you there?

yeah im fine

were all fine

[mtg1clgtleBR]: The fight with Vishkar was all over the news.

what are they sayin about us?

were pretty off the grid right now

but wi-fi’s great here for some reason

[mtg1clgtleBR]: It’s good for us, mostly.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Rather unfortunate for Vishkar.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Lots of praise for Ms. Vaswani’s shield maneuver.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: She’ll make a good agent.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: But no one saw how the fight ended.

oh

I hope no ones too worried about us

[mtg1clgtleBR]: There’s footage of you all okay afterwards.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: But I’d like an update on what happened.

Satya killed him

the armored guy

I don’t think she really wants to talk about it

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I’ll admit, I hadn’t figured that would be a problem for her.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Is she alright?

I think so

just needs time

Lucio was with her for most of the fight I think

and there kinda BFFs now

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Wow, you do work fast.

yeah, were like one big, weird family

speaking of which

anyone else show up yet, love?

Or is it still just you and mei?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Oh, yeah!

[mtg1clgtleBR]: A whole group showed up yesterday.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Reinhardt and Torbjörn are back.

Is brigitte still with them?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Yes.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Wait, how did you know?

she was with rein when I ran into him in King’s Row a while back

big anti-omnic riot

but two crusader shields put a stop to that let me tell you

[mtg1clgtleBR]: How did I not know about this?

rein’s not really cleared for anything, remember?

whole knight’s quest thing is supposed to be hush hush

he didn’t want me saying anything

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Oh.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Well, I already knew he was active again

[mtg1clgtleBR]: And however the old Overwatch treated him…

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I’m doing things differently.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Actually, lots of things are different, it seems.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Torbjörn brought an omnic.

oh…

dead or captive?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: A friend, I think, though he won’t admit it.

wait really?

like our torbjorn not a different one?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I was just as surprised as you are.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: But it’s certainly a welcome surprise.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: They’re a Bastion unit.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: I didn’t think there were any left.

Well, torb does like turrets a lot…

maybe more than he hates omnics

so that kinda makes sense actually

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Well, we got a new agent out of it, in any case.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: And if the current trend continues,

[mtg1clgtleBR]: we may just reach our membership goal sooner than expected.

oh, wait, actually…

I almost forgot!

Zenyatta wants to join

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Join Overwatch?

yeah

[mtg1clgtleBR]: The monk?

yeah

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Oh…

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Lena…

its fine, love

I mean im not sure how I feel about it

but I’m not gonna say no

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Just let me know if you need anything.

okay, okay

[mtg1clgtleBR]: How’s Genji?

it’s really great to see him like this

I mean I don’t think he’s really over everything just like that

but he’s a lot better than before

[mtg1clgtleBR]: It will be good to see him again.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: And Lena, I’m sending you your next location.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Ms. Zaryanova has been called to offer her consultation

[mtg1clgtleBR]: at a Volskaya Industries weapons testing facility in Eastern Siberia.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: She’s set up a rendezvous point for when you arrive.

we’ll head out tomorrow

might take a few days to get there

[mtg1clgtleBR]: And Lena…

[mtg1clgtleBR]: There was one other thing…

already?

[mtg1clgtleBR]: …yes.

meeting room 1

above the ceiling tile in the back right corner

[mtg1clgtleBR]: How many of these stashes are there?

can’t tell you

or they won’t last long enough

[mtg1clgtleBR]: …Fair enough.

[mtg1clgtleBR]: Take care of yourself, Lena.

see ya!




Lena stared absently down the long hallway toward the small, open doorway at the end of it. She felt a slight chill as the cold air from outside intermingled with the warm air inside.

She still wasn’t sure how she felt about the idea of Zenyatta tagging along for the rest of the trip, let alone being a permanent member of Overwatch. It was an honor, really, but she wasn’t sure how she would handle having a constant reminder of one of her greatest regrets.

“If I may have a moment of your time.”

The very near, but unseen voice startled Lena, and she turned quickly on her feet to find Zenyatta himself levitating behind her.

“Oh! Hi…” Lena said, anxiety quickly building. “Do you always sneak up on people like that?”

“I must apologize. A feather on a calm wind knows not that it is silent.” The monk paused. “Also, I find it amusing.”

Lena managed a weak smile. “What are you doing here, love?”

“I was hoping to speak with you, sooner rather than later. I am aware of what weighs on you.”

“You are?” Lena was taken aback. “Who told you?” she demanded, shaking.

Zenyatta lightly tilted his head. “Simple intuition, and much experience in these matters.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Oh.” She stopped shaking, but the slowly evaporating guilt solidified once more. “So how much have you figured out?”

“Enough to know that your fear of my reaction is misplaced. I will not be upset, though I am aware that nothing I say now can convince you of this.”

“You’d be right about that,” Lena said, though the omnic’s words seemed to cut deep into the defensive walls she’d been putting up. A long moment passed between the two of them.

“Walk with me,” Zenyatta said calmly, turning to leave. “You do not need to speak.”

Lena reluctantly obeyed, following as the omnic slowly hovered back into the main room, then out through the open corner and down the short stairwell. They moved along in silence for several minutes, passing by the rising steam in the main area, onto the overhanging central platform, and beyond, to the walkway on the opposite side.

Zenyatta paused when they had nearly circled back to the front again, stopping in a small entryway with a stone sculpture that vaguely resembled a miniature building. The main area could be seen through the gaps between stone pillars, and Zenyatta hovered over to one of the openings.

Lena stood next to him, looking out over the rest of the monastery. It was serene, calming. And in the silence, she was able to collect her thoughts. The rest was easier than she expected.

“I was there,” she began, her voice calm but full of sadness. “The night Mondatta was killed. I was in the crowd. I saw the assassin, I tried to stop her… but I failed. And it wasn’t just… it wasn’t just that I couldn’t stop her. I was…"

Lena paused, shuddering at the memory. “I was in the way of the bullet. I thought she was just trying to shoot me, and I… I blinked out of the way. That was the shot that killed him. I didn’t know she’d lined it up like that.”

Lena paused to take a few deep breaths before continuing.

“I blinked out of the way,” she said, lowering her head. “And I just don’t know. I really just don’t know. I know I shouldn’t even think this, but sometimes I can’t help it. I can’t help wondering if things would’ve been better if… if I just… didn’t.”

Lena felt a metal hand on her shoulder. Zenyatta was still silent when she looked up. He seemed contemplative.

“I am glad you are here,” he said finally. Lena looked at him oddly.

The monk looked down to meet her gaze, continuing, “We often overestimate our capabilities, in hindsight. The assassin intended to kill Mondatta, and would have accepted nothing less. She may have simply fired twice, if you had taken the first, and you would no longer have been able to prevent her from doing so. A single life lost is a tragedy, one that is never remedied, only worsened, by the loss of another.”

“But…” Lena tried to respond, finding something slightly off about the monk’s remarks.

“But that is only one perspective I may offer,” Zenyatta started again, unexpectedly. “In hindsight, we also often attach intention, where there was none, whether we acknowledge it or not. It was not your doing, that in evading the bullet, you allowed it to hit its mark. It was not a disservice to my brother that you did so. The events happened as they did, and you should not think yourself responsible because they happened to be of a particular irony.”

“That’s all…” Lena began, “I mean, you’re right, I guess, but I thought…”

“Should I continue?” said the monk, with an amused condescension in his voice, “Shall I offer mere platitudes? ‘It is not your fault?’ ‘You cannot change the past?’” He tilted his head.

“W-what?” Lena asked, confused.

“There are many reasons you should not feel the way you do,” he said, finally, “but I know that you will anyway.” He looked back out over the monastery, his hand still upon Lena’s shoulder. “So, I will offer you this, instead. I have come to care for you, Lena. Very much, even in the short time I have known you. If it were a simple choice, of having you standing here now, or my brother, I am not so certain I would choose differently.”

Lena was at a loss for words.

“You thought very highly of Mondatta, did you not?” the monk inquired after a time, turning again to face her.

“Of course! ” Lena answered, “He was a great leader. A hero. He could have made things so much better, done so much good in the world.”

“Could you not do the same?”

“I…” Lena paused, ensnared in a tangle of conflicting thoughts.

“Genji has spoken highly of you, Lena,” began Zenyatta. “Humility is an admirable trait, but you should not underserve yourself. We know intimately of our own doubts and regrets, but not those of others. In this light, it is natural to believe ourselves unworthy by comparison, especially to those we hold in reverence, but from all I know of you, I am certain that is not the case. The world is made better for having you in it, and it is only this particular memory, and the obligation you feel toward me, that obscures that truth from your mind.”

Lena might have objected, but something stopped her. The monk’s words resonated with other words, words fresh in her memory, and she found her guilt over Mondatta’s death suddenly pitted against a newer guilt over having doubted herself.

It’s not even that you know when people are hurting

you just always treat them like they might be

and Lena,

most people are.

Zenyatta seemed satisfied at her apparent conflict. “Do not allow my presence to demand that you dwell on my brother’s death. You owe no obligation to me, or to Mondatta. It does neither of us a disservice to allow the thought to disappear from your mind. We should not allow the memory of what was, in the past, to discourage what could be, in the present.”

Lena took several deep breaths. The was something she was still keeping from the monk, something that made his words seem hollow, no matter how much truth she found in them. “I wish all of that helped,” she said, finally, with guilt in her voice, “but it doesn’t, really. It doesn’t help because there’s more. There’s… something worse. Something I still haven’t said.”

“The burdens we bear are often lighter than we can allow ourselves to believe,” said the monk. “It is prudent to request a second opinion.”

Lena sighed, pausing again. She saw that Zenyatta was waiting patiently, and it was several long moments before she spoke again.

“It’s about the assassin,” she said simply, “the one who killed him.”

“Go on,” the monk encouraged.

“It’s just… Sometimes I feel like…” Lena paused for a long time, then closed her eyes and shook her head, pulling away. “I shouldn’t. It’s wrong. I can’t say it, especially not to you.”

The monk was silent, but tilted his head. Lena felt his steady gaze in a way was almost comical. She sighed, and tried again to find her words.

“I just can’t help feeling like… “

“Like…” the monk encouraged, amusement in his voice.

“Like I want to f—”

The words caught in Lena’s throat, but she forced them through. She had to admit it, she just had to. There was no point it hiding it now, in holding back this one thing when she’d already said the rest. When she spoke again, her words were fast and clear.

“Like I want to forgive her.”

She took a breath and continued, “Because it’s kinda not her fault, really. Talon did things to her, all sorts of horrible things to make her into a person that would do that. I used to hate her, but now I just… can’t. Now I just wish I could help her.”

“You do not need to explain,” Zenyatta said after a pause, sounding oddly proud. “It is normal, admirable, even, to experience these thoughts, though perhaps less common than it should be. I am pleased to hear that Mondatta’s work continues, even though he is no longer with us.”

“Oi, what, now?” Lena asked, taken aback.

“Forgiveness is held in high regard among the Shambali,” the monk explained, “and there is no greater act of forgiveness than that offered to one’s own killer. Predictably, it is not often that one completes this task. But if you are willing, and find it possible, I would be grateful if, through you, Mondatta could be made an exception.”

“I… don’t get it.” Lena was having a hard time believing what she was hearing. “Don’t you care about right and wrong? About justice?

“Revenge is not justice,” Zenyatta continued, “and I am not so certain punishment is justice, either. As I said before, a single life lost is a tragedy, one that is never remedied, only worsened, by the loss of another. There are ways to ensure peace and harmony, to prevent more harm from being done, without inflicting more harm ourselves. It is difficult to know when such paths are possible, but it is always admirable to hope that they can be."

“But it’s not really about all that,” Lena admitted, finding herself somehow frustrated at the monk’s continual ability to justify the thoughts she felt such guilt over. “I don’t think like that, I just…”

“You care for her?” Zenyatta inquired softly. There was no accusation in it.

Lena averted her gaze, looking out over the monastery once more. She took a deep breath and sighed. That wasn’t even the worst of it, she thought, but it seemed strange all on its own.

“Yeah,” she said, finally, resignation in her voice. “Is that wrong?”

“Not at all,” Zenyatta answered. “Compassion is not weakness. It is an admirable quality, even when held for one’s enemies. If more of us thought as you do, the world would be better for it.”

“But what if it’s not so admirable,” Lena said bitterly, “what if it’s selfish?

Zenyatta seemed to quietly chuckle as he patted Lena on the head, earning him an odd stare from the pilot. “The world turns on many axes,” he said, “It is rarely moved by altruism alone, as much as we would wish it so. But its presence, among many, can determine the direction. Does it matter, then, what force provides the push?”

Lena tried to make sense of those words as the monk floated away. She’d gotten as far as figuring out that he was trying to say something about ulterior motives when she realized she had another missed text message. It was from Emily.




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

[Em]: I don’t really know where to start, but are you alright?

yeah, what is it, love?

[Em]: I mean first of all

[Em]: you were in a fight

[Em]: then I hear that when you went to get Genji

[Em]: it was in the fucking Shambali monastery

Emily

there are some words that just dont belong in the same sentence

[Em]: Lena I’m being serious

[Em]: Why am I hearing about this now?

I didnt want you to worry

cause its not a big deal, really

[Em]: Lena,

[Em]: When I said you make me worry too much

[Em]: this wasn’t what I meant

sorry

it’s just part of the job, you know

[Em]: Winston knows, doesn’t he?

yeah and he told me I didn’t have to go

but

I can’t just hide from it forever

[Em]: Okay

[Em]: I guess you’re right

[Em]: But you still should have told me.

I know

it all turned out okay anyway though

[Em]: Oh?

yeah theres this monk named Zenyatta

and I just kinda told him everything

[Em]: And that helped?

yeah, in a weird way

he reminded me of some stuff you said

he’s gonna come with us to overwatch

but I think im okay with it

[Em]: I’m really glad, Lena

[Em]: I hope you tell me everything someday, too

there wasn’t anything you don’t already know, love

[Em]: Oh.

[Em]: So you didn’t tell him everything, then.

what do you mean?

there’s really nothing else, promise!

[Em]: Don’t use that word if you don’t mean it.

em,

I’m sorry

[Em]: Oh God…

[Em]: I’m so sorry too

[Em]: I shouldn’t have said that

Its okay, love

don’t worry

[Em]: Lena…

[Em]: I’m not mad at you, I swear

[Em]: I get why you wouldn’t want to tell me

[Em]: Its just frustrating when I can’t help you with this

[Em]: and I don’t want to say the wrong thing

[Em]: if it’s really a big deal for you

[Em]: so just…

[Em]: tell someone, okay?

Em…

okay, I will

[Em]: Promise me.

I promise

[Em]: We’re not fighting

[Em]: I love you

[Em]: No matter what happens, I love you.

[Em]: And we’re going to be okay.

I love you too, em

I always will

[Em]: I know you will, Lena

[Em]: …

[Em]: So, I’ve never had make-up sex over text but…

EM

please

you do know where i AM, right?

[Em]: You know I was kidding before but now that you mention it…

Em please

please don’t

Athena reads these

[Em]: Is it weird that that makes it hotter?

YES, VERY

FFFFFFFFFFFFF

Chapter Text

When Satya, now showered and dressed in warm, comfortable clothes, made her way back downstairs and caught sight again of the small gathering, Lúcio and Genji were alone. She heard a few lines of their conversation as she walked over.

“But I mean like…” Lúcio scratched his head nervously, “I wanted to say I thought you looked really cool, but is that okay? It’s not because you look like an omnic, specifically, it’s just…”

Genji chuckled, his head tilting slightly as if he were raising an eyebrow. “I appreciate your concern, but it is alright. I have accepted what I am.”

“I just… don’t really see how it could work like that,” Lúcio said skeptically.

“Ah, Satya,” Genji looked up as he saw the architech approaching.

“I apologize,” Satya said nervously as she retook her seat next to Lúcio, “for leaving, earlier. I have had a rather long day.”

“So I have heard,” said Genji, “and the weather in these mountains did you no favors either, I would imagine.”

“She dressed for Rio,” Lúcio chimed in with a smirk.

“As did you, if I recall,” Satya said, eyeing his thin tank-top and bare arms.

“Have you known each other long?” Genji inquired.

Satya shared a glance with Lúcio, who seemed to defer to her, before answering. “Yes and no,” she said, swallowing nervously as she turned to face Genji. “I was rather… misled. Convinced of certain ideals by those I trusted. Lúcio and I were bitter enemies for several long years, though we have grown quite close recently.”

“She’s a friend,” Lúcio added, somewhat redundantly.

“I see,” said Genji. He seemed contemplative. “What was it that changed, if I may ask?”

Satya paused for a long moment, stringing her words together. “It was not easy to accept that I had been deceived, that I had been wrong, even when I carried much guilt for my actions. It took years, and… several guiding hands, to see the truth.”

Genji sighed, seeming somehow disappointed. “perhaps that is the most we can hope for.”

“But at the end of it all…” Satya continued, “Lena was kind to me. Patient, in a way no one else had been. So soon after I had met her, before I was aware Lúcio would be joining us, I decided that whatever life I was going to was better than anything Vishkar could offer me. That perhaps I had not known a life at all before that moment. I suppose that is what made me try, even when it meant…” she failed to stifle a small grin, “sitting down for tea with my greatest nemesis.”

She felt Lúcio’s hand in hers, and squeezed it tightly.

“Pretty much as soon as I met her,” the DJ began, shaking his head with a slight laugh, “I realized I needed to rethink every damn thing I thought I knew about her. I didn’t know who I thought would be under all Vishkar’s programming, but… Satya’s just so… honest sometimes.”

Satya felt a pang of guilt at that, and Lúcio seemed to notice, his grip on her hand tightening as he continued, “About what she wants to say, I mean. One day, she just… asked me if we were friends, and it made me think, well, why the hell not? why don’t we just all do that?”

“Why, indeed,” Genji said, somewhat downcast. There seemed to be something on his mind.

“Hey…” Something seemed to occur to Lúcio. “Where is Lena? Shouldn’t she be back by now?”

“I believe she went to speak with my master,” Genji answered.

Satya and Lúcio shared another, concerned glance, their eyes wide.

Genji looked at them oddly. “Is… something wrong?”

“It is nothing,” said Satya.

“But we should probably go find her,” said Lúcio.

“I am sure she would appreciate your concern,” said Zenyatta, “but it is not needed.”

Satya and Lúcio jumped, having suddenly noticed the monk hovering near Genji. The cyborg merely sighed and shook his head. “Master…”

“We have discussed the matter,” Zenyatta continued, “and I believe that I have put her mind at ease. I suspect she will join us shortly, though she appears to be engaged, currently, in communications with…” he angled his head oddly, “someone named Emily, it seems. It appears rather heated.”

“Oh,” Lúcio said, concerned. “I hope they’re not having a fight.”

Genji eyed the DJ oddly. “Am I… missing something?”

Satya tried to follow the monk’s gaze, looking out into the rest of the monastery and just barely catching sight of Lena, her back to a stone support column, typing away on her phone. Her eyes widened. “You are… reading her screen?” she inquired, “from this distance?”

“Ah,” Zenyatta said after a moment, turning back to the group as they eyed him oddly, “I suppose that is rather rude.”

“Umm… yeah….” Lúcio said, breaking the momentary, stunned silence. He seemed to consider something for a time. “But are they okay, at least?” he asked, finally. “I’m kinda worried now.”

Zenyatta shot another quick glance toward Lena, before turning away suddenly. “Oh,” he said with shocked surprise. “Oh, dear.”

“Is everything alright?” asked Satya, supposing she should express her concern, as well.

“Most definitely,” the monk said with an odd emphasis. More calmly, he began, “Life, it seems, is a fast and cruel teacher.”

When Lena finally joined them, shivering slightly as she passed through the main entryway into the room, she seemed to carry a rather nervous expression. “I’m still not sure what just happened,” she said, cryptically, as she took a seat near Satya. The architech found it notable that she hadn’t taken her former seat on the other side of the circle, but dropped her concern, supposing that she was likely the only one who would have noticed something like that.

As the night went on, Satya still did not speak unless directly engaged, but she felt less isolated than at the outset, having gotten to know the two newcomers from the more intimate conversations she’d had with them in the meantime. She did not feel so nervously aware of herself, confident that she was now a known quantity to the entire group and that they need not be wary of her presence if she did not participate.

It soon became apparent that many in the group were growing tired, and everyone got up to leave. Lena seemed rather nervous as she kept close to Satya’s side all the way up the stairwell and down the corridor of rooms. As Satya got to her door and made to open it, Lena pulled her aside.

“Hey, Satya, love?” she said, her voice low and nervous. “There’s… well, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about. Not now, I mean,” she corrected suddenly, “give me a few days, just… hold me to it, okay, love? I know I won’t want to, but I really need to.”

“Of course,” Satya said. “Whatever you need.”

“Thanks,” Lena said with a yawn, “just make sure I do, okay? G’night, love.”

Satya watched the pilot walk away down the hall, wondering what it was that was on her mind. The architech had been loath to take Zenyatta at his word, but Lena had seemed more at ease since she’d spoken to him. That left the question of what could be weighing on her that she would want to speak to Satya about, and not, perhaps, Genji, who she had known for much longer. Whatever it was, Satya supposed she would find out soon enough, and went into her room.




Satya had decided to wear her long-sleeve sweatshirt to bed, as while the warm air from the hot spring seemed to be circulated exceptionally well throughout the building, and the candles along the walls provided some additional heat, there was a strong chill from the room’s small, open window.

She didn’t feel tired, but it was such a pleasant, consuming feeling to be huddled beneath the warm covers that Satya nearly drifted off to sleep.

She was startled awake by something small and metallic flying in through her window and clattering across the floor. As she sat up suddenly, she saw that it had a circular structure, but had three stabilizing feet that made it seem triangular at first glance. Satya’s shock and fear subsided as she noted the purple-centric color scheme. Holographic magenta rings slowly rose from the device, before Sombra materialized in a wave of pixels.

“Don’t get up,” the hacker said calmly, tiredly, as she caught sight of Satya, “and no, I don’t really know why I’m here. I guess we’ll find out together, hey, amiga?

Satya hurriedly went over the usual procedure of their meetings in her head, not having expected them to continue so soon. “I… was not aware, until today, that we would be recruiting—”

Sombra put her hand up. “I don’t want to talk about that right now,” she commanded.

Satya finally noticed how exhausted the woman looked, mentally, if not physically. She had obviously done quite a lot of thinking on her own, and seemed tired and resigned as she picked up her teleportation device, slipped it into a pocket of her coat, before taking the coat off, entirely, and walking over near the door to hang it on one of the mounted hooks.

From Satya’s angle, Sombra’s expression was hidden by the shoulder-length hair that fell down the right side of her head, but she seemed deep in thought as she fussed over straightening out her hanging coat. Satya got the odd sense that she might scare the woman off simply by speaking, so she nervously remained silent.

Sombra crossed her arms as she walked slowly around the bed, looking oddly at the cabinet along the wall to Satya’s right as she passed it. She stood nervously between the bed and the wall for several long moments.

“Move over,” she said, finally. As Satya shifted to the left, Sombra gently lifted the covers and slid into bed beside the architech, visibly relaxing and staring pointedly up at the ceiling.

Satya rested her head in the pillows with a gentle smile, her gaze falling on the small dot below the hacker’s left eye, the circular piercing in her ear lobe, and the circuit pattern shaved into the left side of the woman’s head, between the slightly glowing, neon pink arches of her cybernetic implant. The silver-blue chain was nowhere to be seen. A deep blue eye slowly shifted its gaze downward to meet Satya’s.

A smile formed at the corner of Sombra’s lips. “Okay, the candles are a bit on-the-nose.”

Satya looked at her oddly for a moment, then blushed heavily as she placed the cultural reference, bringing a hand up to cover her cheeks in embarrassment.

Sombra laughed, her smile growing to a broad smirk. After a moment, though, she looked back toward the ceiling, the bitterness returning to her expression. She let out a long sigh.

The hacker brought her hands out from under the covers, moving her fingers in the air until a large screen floated in the air above the bed, facing downwards. It was the Calado footage, Satya realized with a shudder.

Another, smaller window opened below the first, a rendition of Sombra’s sugar skull overlaid with ‘DELETE FILE’ and a simple Y/N prompt. With another sigh, the hacker pushed a long fingernail through the ‘Y’ button, and both windows dissolved into nothing.

“It’s not like you picked up anyone useful, anyway.” Sombra said with a scoff, briefly glancing over at Satya’s shocked expression. “I’ll just get them something else they want.”

She was silent for a while after that, eyes still fixed upward. Satya wasn’t certain if she was thinking of something, or just taking in the moment. Or, perhaps, was she… waiting for something?

Is she afraid I will leave her, Satya wondered, now that she has forfeited her leverage?

Satya lay still, smiling warmly and reassuringly as she watched Sombra’s gentle, nervous breathing. Her heart fluttered at having her so close. She wanted to reach out and hold her, tightly in her arms, and never let go.

“You think I like Talon?” Sombra said finally with another scoff, “I need them. They’re a powerful friend to have.” Her expression fell. “Well, maybe not powerful enough, but at least it would be a fight, you know?”

It was the point of no return, Satya realized. One last warning about how dangerous Sombra’s mysterious adversary truly was. One last chance to turn back, to stay out of it, to leave the hacker to wage her lonely war. Satya shuddered with a sinking, foreboding feeling about the road ahead. It was her first real taste of what Sombra’s entire life must have been like, she realized. The distant rumble of a gathering storm.

Satya’s cautious hand brushed against one of Sombra’s under the covers. She slowly crept her fingers around to interlace them with Sombra’s, and held the woman’s hand tightly. She watched, intently, while Sombra’s eyes widened at the contact.

“You sure you want to do this, amiga? ” Sombra asked distantly, still staring at the ceiling.

Satya smirked, a blush forming on her cheeks. “What is it we are doing?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. She nearly laughed as Sombra tried to contain her own blush.

Sombra took a deep breath, regaining her composure. “Only what you want to,” she said simply. “If you want to just talk, or lie here all night, that’s what I’ll do.”

“Thank you,” Satya said between nervous breaths, “but… no.”

Sombra rolled partially onto her side, eyeing the architech oddly.

“I… want to know,” Satya said, remembering the decision she’d made the night before and fighting through her hesitation. “I want to know how far…” she felt the weight of Sombra’s gaze, and closed her eyes. “Just… go slow, and I will tell you when to stop.”

She heard a loud sigh, and opened her eyes to find the hacker considering her with a rather concerned look. “You don’t have to be afraid.”

Sombra pulled back the covers enough to bring up both of their held hands, and shifted her grip around Satya’s right arm to hold it by the wrist. She gently rolled back the long, grey sleeve of Satya’s sweatshirt, and slowly ran a long-nailed index finger from the inside of Satya’s wrist down to her elbow. Satya shuddered with pleasure at the touch.

“Do you like this?” Sombra asked with a raised eyebrow and a satisfied grin.

Satya nodded, rather more earnestly than she’d intended, as her breathing quickened.

Sombra brought her left hand back up, brushing several fingers very slowly back and forth along Satya’s forearm. “Does it scare you, that you react like this?” she asked, “Do you not feel in control?”

Satya paused, considering the question. “I suppose so,” she admitted, “It is all so very… chaotic.”

“It’s just code,” Sombra said, as she ran a finger along the inside of Satya’s elbow. “Something in how you’re wired. How all of us are wired. Maybe it was there for a reason once, but it doesn’t matter anymore.”

She brought a finger to Satya’s wrist, and traced a circle over and over on her skin.

“It doesn’t matter why it’s there,” she continued, “It doesn’t want anything from you, and you don’t have to give it anything.”

Sombra paused at the innermost point of the circle, and moved her finger out in a line down Satya’s forearm, pausing near her elbow and angling into another circle.

“You feel a desire, but it doesn’t have intentions, it doesn’t control you. It’s just the code telling you it’s there. Code you can exploit, to make it do what you want, to feel these things…”

She paused, running her finger back up the imaginary line she’d traced earlier to go over the first circle again.

“It can’t make you do things you don’t want to. It can’t hurt you if you don’t let it, and even if it does…”

She brought her hand up further to hold Satya’s tightly in both of hers.

“I don’t want to hurt you, but if I do… it’s just the two of us here, and I’m here to help.”

The warm feeling from the night before came flooding back, a feeling of being cared for. Satya was no longer afraid of what Sombra might want, or of what she, herself, might want. Instead, she felt comforted, that if anything happened that she couldn’t tolerate, Sombra’s presence would be one of reassurance.

With a warm smile, Satya nodded, and Sombra pulled back the covers, climbing over the architech with her knees to either side of Satya’s waist. The motion was rather suddenly seductive, and with it, a shocked realization passed through Satya’s mind, just as Sombra reached down toward her with one hand.

Satya caught her by the wrist. “Sombra. We are in a monastery,” she said with a scowl.

“Doesn’t that make it better? ” Sombra asked, seeming legitimately confused.

“No, it does not,” Satya said with complete honesty.

Sombra seemed to consider something for a moment, then rather overtly rolled her eyes. “What is it with you and rules, amiga,” she snarked. A mischievous grin formed on her face. “You know, I could maybe find a manual for this, and we could follow it exactly, would that turn you on?”

Something about the hacker’s expectant, raised-eyebrow expression as she’d said it made Satya blush uncontrollably as she held back laughter. Sombra lost her composure immediately afterward, and somewhere in that moment, Satya made the decision to reach behind Sombra’s waist and pull the woman down on top of her.

She felt something odd and metallic in the middle of Sombra’s back as they collided, and ran her hand up and down to find it extended all along the woman’s spine.

“That’s supposed to be there,” Sombra said with another raised eyebrow, still grinning madly.

Satya smirked. “Should I ask how much of you is…” she trailed off as she felt a stinging on her right arm, and looked over to find a visible scratch along the exposed part of her bicep.

“Oh, lo siento,” Sombra said apologetically, “Sorry about that.” She slowly brought her left hand up from where it had fallen along Satya’s arm. She leaned away on her elbow just enough to guiltily show both of her hands to Satya. “Won’t happen again,” she said as she raised an eyebrow.

With a familiar mechanical sound, all ten of Sombra’s nails seemed to automatically withdraw back into her fingers. Satya’s eyes went wide.

“Oh,” Sombra said, noticing her reaction. “I didn’t mean…” she paused nervously. “Only if you want me to, amiga, I just…” she reached her left hand back over to gently rub the scratch on Satya’s arm. “I don’t want to hurt you again.”

Satya stared warmly up into the woman’s eyes, realizing in that moment just how much the two of them had grown to care for one another. Perhaps they had both been desperate, both been so eager to show affection in ways they had never been able to. Both looking to make up for the regretful, lonely lives they’d led, looking for something more while they still had time…

Satya moved her right arm from where Sombra was trying to trace the tiny scratch away with her fingertip, and lifted her hand so it hovered near the exposed side of Sombra’s face.

“Is this alright?” she asked, figuring she was about to do something incredibly intimate.

Sombra closed her eyed and nodded. “I trust you,” she said softly as she angled her head to give Satya easier access.

The architech gently touched her fingertips to Sombra’s implant, running them first along the cool, metallic arches, then over the shaved, circuit-pattern rows in between. She rested her palm on Sombra’s cheek so she could carefully trace the tiny circles and lines.

“Okay,” Satya said as she slowly withdrew her hand, gulped nervously, and nodded with an expectant smile. “I will tell you when to stop.”

Sombra gave the architech a wide grin, but paused, considering something. “Make sure you do, amiga,” she said as her eyes narrowed, “at the first thing that’s too much. Okay?”

“I will,” Satya said with a nod. “I promise.”

Sombra leaned in to kiss along Satya’s neck. Her hair brushing silkily over the architech’s left cheek. As Satya rested her hands on the woman’s shoulders, she shuddered as the cool, glove-like fabric of Sombra’s hands crept up her abdomen, under her shirt and sweatshirt. Sombra pulled her head back to watch the architech’s face carefully for any objection. Satya nodded, and kept her eyes locked awkwardly but intimately with Sombra’s as the woman’s touch enveloped her.

Satya lifted her right hand off of Sombra’s shoulder, running it down her side in an attempt to find her waistline, if what she was wearing even had one. She found an edge in the fabric, and watched a smile form on Sombra’s face as her fingers slipped beneath it and met skin. It was a surprising and welcome sensation to feel her skin, given how much of herself Sombra seemed to keep covered at all times. Satya slowly moved her touch upward, trying awkwardly to give equal time to both of Sombra’s breasts with her only organic hand.

Sombra leaned into the touch as she bought her lips to Satya’s ear. “You can use the other one, too, you know,” she whispered with a smirk.

Satya slowly, carefully, mirrored her previous motion with her left arm, being especially cautious as she pressed into Sombra’s soft skin with the mechanical, hardlight fingers. Sombra certainly seemed to enjoy it, so Satya didn’t stop.

After a while, Satya remembered something, growing curious. She slowly drew her right hand away, moving it around under Sombra’s arm and toward her back. She made a questioning expression and slowed her hand, waiting for an answer.

Sombra rolled her eyes gently with a smile. “If that’s what you’re into…”

Satya felt around Sombra’s back until she found the row of broad, angular panels that made up her spinal implant. She wondered about the woman’s many modifications. Had she wanted them, or had she felt that she needed them? Was it some combination of both? Did she regret any of them? Would she, if she ever had a reprieve from all of this? Satya’s curious touch became tentatively sad and sympathetic as she softly stroked her hand up and down the woman’s back.

“It’s alright,” Sombra said with a warm smile, seeming to notice Satya’s consideration, “I like who I am.” She winked. “Lots of surprises for you.”

Satya blushed heavily, and Sombra took the moment to lean in for a long kiss on Satya’s lips.

Like before, it was a gentle, dry kiss that made Satya’s heart flutter as she closed her eyes to savor the sensation. She felt Sombra pull her hands away, and did the same, feeling and hearing the mattress compress to either side of her as Sombra planted her hands apart and lifted herself, the kiss still holding as she moved her body slightly to Satya’s right so they were offset. Satya was just noticing the tickle of the woman’s hair against her left ear when suddenly, Sombra’s thigh was between hers.

Satya let out an involuntary squeak against Sombra’s lips, her eyes shooting open. Without a second thought, she planted her feet to push herself upward against the pressure, realizing as she did so that she was pushing her right thigh between Sombra’s as well. She felt the sensation course through her, her entire body tensing as she fought to continue the contact until… until it was all too much, too soon, and she let out a frantic, pained noise into Sombra’s lips as she tried to wriggle out from under her.

With a loud convulsion of the mattress springs, Sombra pushed away and rolled onto her side, her eyes wide as she tensed up. “I’m sorry!” she repeated frantically, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!”

Satya took deep breaths, calming herself, as she moved her right hand about on the bed. Sombra found it and held it tightly.

“I didn’t mean to—” Sombra began, apologetic and pained.

“It was my fault, too,” Satya cut her off. “That is what you are here for,” she said as she squeezed Sombra’s hand, pulling it slightly towards herself.

Sombra quickly moved back over, wrapping her arms around Satya and squeezing her tightly. Satya relaxed into the embrace, focusing on the caring, loving arms around her and letting everything else fall away.

“Can I…” Sombra began, her voice tearful, as she wriggled herself even closer. “Can I just hold you?”

Satya found the request surprising, but very welcome, and nodded.

Sombra pulled her entire body tightly against Satya’s, pressing their cheeks together and interlocking their ankles as if scared she might fall away. There was something desperate in it, as she pulled the covers back over them and frantically readjusted her shaking arms, trying to find a way she could hold Satya even closer.

“Are you alright?” Sombra asked with pain in her voice, and Satya felt a tingle in her right cheek where Sombra’s lips had moved against it. Her voice sounded odd coming from so close.

Satya nodded, knowing Sombra could feel the motion. “I… think I am,” she answered slowly, “I just… do not know…” She took a deep breath. “I have never done this before.”

“It’s okay if that’s all,” Sombra said quickly. “I don’t mind, really.”

“I am still not certain,” Satya said, considering. Any discomfort she still felt was far away, with Sombra holding her so. Her eyes swam with how loved and comforted she felt, and at what Sombra must be feeling to have reacted this way. Satya laughed gently as she continued, “If you do this every time, I do not think anything could hurt me for long.”

She felt a fresh squeeze of pressure from Sombra, and her heart soared even higher.

“I’m just going to stay like this, if that’s alright,” Sombra said softly, and Satya felt a tear that wasn’t her own run down her cheek as her lover spoke again.

“This is the part I’ve never done before.”

Chapter Text

When Satya woke, she was alone.

It was rather early in the morning, and she managed to quickly take another shower and do all of her laundry before the agreed-upon departure time. She hastily packed everything back into her suitcase and carried it out into the corridor.

As she walked the halls of the monastery, Satya became distinctly nervous about what had happened – or, what had almost happened, Satya tentatively corrected, not entirely sure what counted in her situation – the night before. Part of her hoped to escape as soon as possible, but she wasn’t exactly certain where she could escape to, given Zenyatta would be travelling with the group for the remainder of the journey.

Though, out of all the secrets Satya had been consumed with over the past week and a half, this one seemed rather comical by comparison.

While she was debating with herself over how concerned she should be, she exited at the base of the stairwell to find one of the monks floating near her. It was the bronze-colored one, from before.

“Good morning,” said the omnic, “your companions are partaking in a short meal before they depart. You should hurry if you wish to join them.”

“Th-thank you,” Satya stuttered, caught off-guard by how difficult she found the interaction.

“You… seem nervous,” the monk began, to Satya’s immediate horror, before continuing, “Ah, I see. Do not be concerned, we were not offended. We prefer to keep things here rather authentic, barring certain modern necessities, and I suppose the simplicity is not for everyone.”

“Oh,” Satya realized with relief, “yes, the accommodations… I apologize for my reaction, I suppose we merely have different tastes.”

Indeed,” the monk emphasized, as if considering Satya’s words an understatement. They tilted their head, putting a finger to their chin, and continued, “Though, I suppose you did end up finding your accommodations satisfactory, after all.”

Satya’s jaw nearly dropped before she remembered the trick the monk had pulled with the hidden room. “Yes… it was a great comfort, though I suppose you knew that all along.”

“I can say, with certainty, that I did not,” said the monk, “though, as I said, we were not offended.” They turned to leave, hovering slowly out of sight. “Why do places like this exist, then, if not for those who seek… enlightenment.”

Satya found the whole interaction rather odd, but was in a hurry, and quickly made her way back to the room near the entrance. The others were deep in conversation, having already finished eating, so Satya quietly placed her suitcase near the others and snuck around the pillar to the serving station.

“Greetings,” said Zenyatta, whose voice from behind nearly made Satya spill her soup. The monk bowed his head, placing his palms together beneath his chin.

Satya hesitantly bowed her head as well, unsure of the proper response.

Zenyatta raised his head out of the bow, and separated his hands, presenting both palms to Satya, before lowering his left hand outward, pressing his thumb to his index finger. His right palm remained in the air, and he looked to Satya expectantly.

Satya glanced oddly at the hand, turning back toward Zenyatta with confusion. “I… apologize. I am not familiar with this greeting.”

“Genji has told me it is rather rude to… ‘leave one hanging.’”

Satya narrowed her eyes slightly, the monk’s words having explained absolutely nothing. “I am… also unfamiliar with that expression.”

“Ah,” Zenyatta said as he lowered the hand. “Perhaps I have used it incorrectly.”

Satya sat down near where Lena and Genji were telling tales from Overwatch’s glory days. Having nothing to add, she quietly finished her soup while they conversed. She became rather alarmed at the number of practical jokes they regaled in their stories, recalling several painful memories from Vishkar’s academy. She would have to remember to request an exemption from those types of activities, if they were as integral a part of serving in Overwatch as Lena had made it seem.

The meeting ended with a briefing on the next stage of their journey. They were headed to somewhere in Russia, Lena explained, far enough to the northeast that the journey would take at least two days, but still a safe distance south of the frontlines.

Lena graciously thanked the gathered monks for their hospitality, seeming much less nervous than the day before, and the group made their way back across the courtyard to where their transport was parked. Zenyatta seemed not to have any material possessions that he did not keep on his person, but Genji brought a thin, metal case with the silhouette of a small bird up near the handle.

He placed it in the back with the others, on the section of floor that Satya had, as they traveled through the steep mountains the day before, guessed contained some type of gravity field to hold their luggage in place. He and Zenyatta took the second and fourth seats along the right side, as Lúcio and Satya took the first and third seats on the left. Satya found something strange and unnerving about the fact that Zenyatta was no longer floating and actually had his feet on the floor as he sat in the chair, his nine orbs joined in a ring around his neck.

The journey away from the monastery was as nerve-wracking as the journey to it had been, and though she didn’t need to, Satya held onto her seat as their vehicle traversed jagged ridges of snow and ice. She breathed a sigh of relief when they finally made it back to an actual road.

As they traveled north, snowy peaks gave way to rocky ones, dotted by a series of large lakes. All around them, the land was strewn about with metallic wreckage – the husks of large omnics, including titan-classes, and of some of the more impressive human vehicles and aircraft that had come into use during the Crisis.

Satya thought back to the scars in the earth she’d seen in South America. It was a changed world, one with constant reminders of a war long over. Omnics did not decompose, and their wreckage was often too large to conveniently move. The war had been global, on a massive scale, and the fighting had crossed into far too many less-than-hospitable places for any global cleanup effort to have been feasible.

And moreover, the war had never really stopped. A gigantic omnic larger than a titan-class lurked in the waters near South Korea, surfacing every few months to wreak havoc on the country. Far north of where Satya sat staring out onto old battlefields, new battles were being waged as Russian forces defended against mechanical armies pouring forth from the Siberian omnium. Three years ago, it had mysteriously resumed production, and it was still unclear whether the omnics were acting on their own, or at the behest of one or more ‘God Program’ AIs as they had been during the Crisis.

The rest of the world had moved on, watching idly as others fought the same war that had sparked a global resistance effort decades before. Perhaps Overwatch would change all that, uniting the world as it had the first time around.

Eventually, the dry, rocky peaks gave way to a dry, rocky desert, only for another series of mountains to appear on the other side. Beyond that lay a flat expanse of desert sand that seemed to go on forever. Aside from the odd shrub or piece of wreckage, the long, solitary road ahead and behind them was often the only recognizable landmark in sight.

After that, they turned off the road, skimming eastward out over the dunes. When the sun was low in the sky, they approached a large object of dark metal that turned out to be some sort of heavy transport aircraft, partially buried in a vast mound of sand. Most of its fins were broken off, but the visible portions of the hull seemed otherwise intact. The Porpoise pulled up to a door along the right side, just behind where the front of the ship disappeared into a dune.

Reactivating Bowhead AV-135,” Athena notified.

Lúcio sighed. “That’s another whale name, isn’t it?”

The door opened, and the Porpoise pulled up a small ramp to sit horizontally across the interior. The aircraft was just wide enough that there was still room to walk around the smaller vehicle even as the exterior door closed behind it. To the right, a narrow hallway extended between two small rooms and into the cockpit, where metal shutters were closed over what Satya presumed would have been a transparent canopy. To the left, another, wider hallway extended past five even smaller rooms on either side, ending in another cargo bay with a sloping far wall. Strangely, the rear bay had several picnic tables set up off to either side.

It turned out one of the rooms near the cockpit was a kitchen, and after a heated debate over who was and was not allowed inside it, the five of them sat down for a meal at the table on the leftmost side of the sloped wall. A loud motor sound was heard as the wall angled downwards, forming a large ramp at the rear of the ship. The golden light from the setting sun was angled perfectly to illuminate the interior of the bay.

Genji seemed to set aside some small snacks for later rather than eat with the others, and Zenyatta had no need for food, so it was a rather awkward meal, though the mood lightened a bit once a conversation began.

“So, since you’re not doing anything, love,” Lena said to Genji between bites, “how about that crazy sword stuff, huh? The Dragonblade, right?”

Genji chuckled through his faceplate. “You never seemed interested before,” he said as he tilted his head in the way he did to indicate an arched eyebrow.

Lena’s face fell slightly, forming a small, somewhat bleak smile. “I didn’t really want to bother you, love. You had enough on your mind without me makin’ you answer a million questions. I knew you didn’t like to talk much so I figured I’d just be there whenever I got the chance.”

“Oh,” Genji said, seeming rather stunned. “You… are very kind, Lena. I am sorry I could not be more grateful.”

“S’alright, love,” said Lena, and her voice seemed just slightly nervous as she continued. “I never would have asked you to pretend things were fine when they really weren’t.” She sighed, lowering her voice as she snarked, “Know what that’s like.”

Satya noticed when Lena shuddered almost imperceptibly, and began to put together a clearer picture of who the cheerful, overexcited pilot-turned-Overwatch-agent truly was. Satya was far from the first person she had known how to be patient with. Behind that always-positive façade of hers was a pain that only she would ever know. A pain no one else could possibly comprehend, and because of it, she made all the effort in the world to extend a hand to those with similar pains, those who seemed rude or irritable or uncaring on the surface, those that everyone else had written off.

And beyond that, given her slight unease just then, she likely suspected when others were hiding their pain in the same way she was, or had at least decided that the chance of that being the case was enough to always treat them as such. Satya would have to remember to hug her for that.

“Very well,” Genji said, interrupting the awkward pause. He reached up to his right shoulder, carefully wrapping his cybernetic fingers around the hilt. The long, slightly arced sword he drew had a serrated, toothed dividing line that separated the silver backing of the blade from its eerily glowing, lime-green edge.

“My Shimada bloodline grants me the dragon’s power,” he continued as he held the blade aloft. The transparent image of a green, snake-like dragon appeared from near the hilt, coiling many times around the blade before disappearing into the sword’s tip.

Satya wasn’t too impressed. She could create similar images from her hardlight, and had seen Sombra do likewise with her holographic screens.

“So, it glows like that because of your family?” Lena asked, skeptical. “And when it does that energy slice thing, you mean no one else can make it do that?”

“It would still be a sword, of course,” Genji said as he turned the weapon horizontal, “but only I can summon the magic imbued within the blade.”

Satya narrowed her eyes at the word ‘magic,’ determined that whatever it was could be explained by further scientific observation.

“But, like, your hand’s made of metal, innit, love?” Lena noted with curiosity, “That counts as you holding it? Is there a range or something? Is it always glowing in the sheath and we just can’t see it? Would it still work if you threw it at someone? Would it just shut down the second you let go or…” Lena’s excited flurry of questions trailed off as a mischievous grin spread across her face.

With a whoosh, Lena blinked out of her seat, around the table, to right behind Genji, wrenching the sword from his grasp before he could do anything to stop her. In another whoosh, she was standing near a table at the opposite edge of the open doorway with the dragonblade in hand. The eerie green glow along the blade lingered for a few seconds, before fading away. “Oh! That’s a bit more time than I thought!” Lena remarked, fascinated.

“Four point two-zero seconds,” Satya confirmed, having counted.

A wide grin appeared on Lena’s face as she tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh.

Satya narrowed her eyes. “Do you find my precision… amusing?” she asked, suddenly struck by a familiar sensation of being mocked, but in disbelief that it was happening now.

“No, it’s just…” Lena couldn’t seem to stop grinning, “you know. It’s like… four-twenty.”

An audible groan came from Genji’s voice filter. The cyborg seemed more annoyed at what Lena had said than with the fact she was holding his sword. Zenyatta and Lúcio didn’t appear to know what to make of any of it, looking to Genji for an explanation.

“…Blaze it?” Lena added cautiously, her eyes darting back and forth expectantly. “What? Just me, then?” She added after a pause, seeming disappointed.

Genji sighed. “There are some things Reinhardt should have left in the past.”

Satya finally managed to calm herself, gathering that it had been not her, but Lena, who had made the social faux pas. Still, she could not shake the tension from how awkward the entire situation had been, and that she had been involved at all. She felt a passing desire to recoil into herself, to remain silent for the rest of the conversation, and perhaps the rest of her life. It was a highly irrational thought, she realized, but she could not ignore how it weighed on her.

“You measured that in your head?”

Satya looked up, placing that in the time that had passed, Lena had returned Genji’s sword and had resumed eating, and the cyborg was now waiting impatiently across the table, having just asked the architech a question.

“Only because I was prepared to,” Satya answered after a time. “I was… intending to observe the weapon’s behavior, convinced that I could determine a scientific explanation.”

Genji chuckled at that. “The world is not always so bound to what can be understood.”

“Yes, it is,” said Satya, pointedly. “There is an order to things. The world can be interpreted, and controlled, by observing its underlying logical patterns. All can be learned through order and discipline.”

Genji leaned his head slightly forward in a way that made it seem as if he was narrowing his eyes. “It is strange…” he began after a moment, considering something about what Satya had said. “More and more… you remind me of my brother.”

Lena choked on her food.

“In a good way,” Genji added quickly and rather frantically, turning to look at Lena. “I… realize I may not have spoken well of him in the past.”

“That’s putting it lightly,” said Lena with a scoff.

They didn’t seem eager to discuss the matter further, and the rest of the meal passed in relative silence. Afterwards, Satya found herself making a quick cup of tea, and constructing a hardlight stool in the corner of the open doorway. With a wall to her right and the ramp dropping out in front of her to the desert sand below, she sat contentedly to watch the sun draw nearer to the horizon.

She heard approaching footsteps, and Lena stood beside her.

“…You seemed real tense earlier,” she said, hesitantly. “Is everything alright, love?”

Satya paused, trying to determine the optimal way to say it. “I do not like awkwardness,” she said at last, finding the phrasing, or the word itself, somewhat uncomfortable. “It is usually my fault,” she added after a time.

“Oh,” Lena said, sounding nervous. “Yeah… I guess I just…” She had an odd look as she seemed to consider something. “I guess sometimes I just feel like… like it helps to just say or do something stupid to take my mind off things. Reinhardt was always good at that. You know, to pretend everything’s alright, to maybe feel like it really is sometimes.”

Satya considered that. “You do not have to pretend with me,” she finally said, looking directly at Lena as she added, “please, do not. I have little patience for such foolish pleasantries.”

“Is it weird that I kinda like that about you?”

Satya eyed Lena oddly, finding the sentiment unexpected. “Yes, I believe it is. I appreciate your patience with me, but I am different. I do not fit into the world like you do.”

Lena absently squeezed at a strap on her shoulder. “I don’t think any of us do, really. We just think we do, or pretend we do, but you don’t.”

“Because I cannot,” Satya said, resigned, “and so I have stopped trying.”

“Maybe we all should,” Lena said, taking a moment to stare out into the desert. “I just… feel like I can talk to you about things. Real things. And it doesn’t feel like I’m breaking some unwritten rule, like it does with everyone else most times.”

“Oh, isn’t that… you wanted to speak with me?” Satya asked after a moment, reminded of their brief interaction the night before.

“Yeah…” Lena said, suddenly seeming hesitant and guarded in a way that made Satya regret having reminded her. “Uhh, not tonight, love.” She paused, turning back to look at Satya. “You shouldn’t stay out here too much longer either. It’s a long way to the next safehouse, and the roads have pretty good speed-assist but we’ll still have to be out of here really early to make it in one day.”

“Thank you,” said Satya, “I will be finished shortly.”

“Goodnight then, love,” Lena called as she turned to leave.

“Goodnight,” Satya replied, looking back out to where the Sun now nearly touched the ground. She sipped her tea, reflecting on what Lena had said.

“Will your companion be joining us tonight, as well?”

Satya jumped at Zenyatta’s sudden voice from beside her, and jumped again as she processed what he had said. She turned quickly toward him, eyes wide.

The monk tilted his head expectantly.

“You…” Satya began in a near whisper, a confused scowl forming on her face as she grew more fearful by the second. “You are aware?

“I am aware of many things.”

Satya’s thoughts were spinning frantically, but she managed to piece together that the omnic had chosen to confront her individually. “You are… intending to threaten me?” she asked hesitantly, “or to confront me first, for some other reason?”

“I intend to compare notes,” Zenyatta said simply.

Satya narrowed her eyes and stared very oddly at the monk for a long moment.

“Though our… methods may differ,” he explained with some humor in his calming voice, “I believe we are… similar. I seek to bring about a greater shared understanding through the small moments; the oneness achieved through the binding of souls in the space between the consuming past and the uncertain future.” He paused, looking out over the desert before them in the fading light. “As, it seems, do you.”

Satya was still frozen in place, not believing what she was hearing.

“In short,” the monk explained, noticing the architech’s hesitance, “I am aware of your endeavor, have reflected on it, and find myself in agreement with your approach. Though… you do not seem to agree with yourself.”

“How so?” Satya asked, managing to latch onto something to comment on.

“In your view of the world. You speak of order and logic, but your actions speak of something more. You must see, of course, that the path to enlightenment, the journey to a greater harmony, begins not with the drawing of lines, of defining things as right or wrong, orderly or chaotic, possible or impossible. It begins with a shared moment of connection. A word of assurance. A gesture of understanding. A friendly greeting. What are you looking at?”

Satya was caught off guard by the omnic’s question, so oddly placed at the end of the list with the same inflection as the entries. “I was… hoping to see the sunset,” she answered cautiously, glancing back to see that the sun was now halfway below the horizon.

“Ah,” said Zenyatta, seeming, himself, caught off guard by Satya’s response. “I was giving an example.”

Satya wasn’t sure what to make of that, and found herself staring out into the reddening sky. There was something ominous, foreboding about it, and a sudden, dark feeling struck her as it had the night before. But this time, the storm did not seem so far away.

“I do not feel like I have made things better,” Satya finally said as the sensation overtook her. “I feel as if… as if I may have brought something terrible upon us all.”

“Some eventualities are best dealt with sooner, rather than later,” Zenyatta said cryptically. “The road ahead only grows darker while we stand still.”

Satya looked oddly at the omnic. “What do you know of the road ahead?”

“I sense a great darkness,” he answered after a time, “but that is not so difficult to guess. We travel this path because we seek to bring the world out of darkness, to change it for the better. Those who fear the consequences, who assume responsibility for the actions of forces that seek to do harm, do not bring about such change.”

“What if there is a force so great, that we cannot hope to stand against it?”

Zenyatta tilted his head pointedly. “Then our task is not finished.”

Satya sighed, remembering Sombra’s words. “This is something bigger than Overwatch.”

“I am confident that the task would fall to us, regardless.” Zenyatta placed a hand on Satya’s shoulder, looking out over the desert. “There is much that weighs on you. That is by design. The troubles of this world seek for us to leave them be. To believe hope is but a distant dream. I do not know what awaits us, but if we do not face it, then we have already failed, in all we seek to do.”

“hmph. Such an optimistic take,” Satya snarked with resignation, hoping the omnic would catch her attempt at sarcasm.

“You did not make the wrong choice,” said Zenyatta, “because there was never any choice at all. It is better to know one’s enemy than to remain in ignorance.”

“I do not know much,” Satya sighed. “Only that they are powerful. Dangerous, and… have been in existence for nearly twenty years, at the least. She does not say much, and I do not ask.”

“That reminds me. You never answered my question.” At Satya’s confusion, he continued. “Will she be joining us tonight?”

Satya recalled that Athena seemed to be in control of the ship they were in, remembering Sombra’s earlier excuse for not visiting her on the Beluga. “I suppose not,” she realized aloud.

“A pity,” said Zenyatta. “I would like to speak with her, if she would allow it. Perhaps tomorrow. We will surely require her assistance.” He paused. “It seems we always would have, in the end.”

The sun passed finally below the horizon, and Satya watched the light fade, Zenyatta beside her. When the storm arrived, they would face it, like any other enemy.

Satya calmly sipped her tea as darkness fell.

Chapter Text

With the bay door closed once more, it was easy to forget they were sitting in the middle of a desert. There were no windows, only artificial, white ceiling lights.

Satya picked the room on the right side of the ship, at the back end of the row. The room was, as expected, very small, and Satya found herself torn between being uncomfortable at how cramped the space was and being impressed with how efficiently it was designed. There was a small counter space to her right, a storage locker to her left, and the bed was in a small, rectangular alcove carved into the outer hull.

There was only barely enough space for her to lay out fully on the small mattress, and she momentarily blushed at the idea of Sombra trying to spend the night here as well. Satya stared at the low ceiling above, wondering how little time they had left. How little time any of them had left, perhaps. It was all so bleak and tragic to think about, but there was something oddly beautiful about it, about the night they’d spent together, and what it had meant for the both of them.

Satya would do what she could. She had plans, things she wanted to do with her life, now that it was her own, and she would accept no less than for Sombra to have that chance as well. Her resolve grew, just as it had under Zenyatta’s calming presence. They would get through this, and whoever was responsible would pay for what they had done. What they had put her through; the woman they must have thought no one would ever care about.

Satya winced at making such assertions, at thinking so surely of a future that could not be predicted. It was foolish, if not dangerous. It was all so confusing, to know something dark loomed ahead, but not when or where. So overwhelming that it didn’t seem real, her thoughts often focusing not on the threat itself but on how strange it was that she wasn’t more worried about it. But Satya knew one thing.

For better or for worse, she would not wish for her life to be any different than it had been since she’d left Vishkar. She had a choice now, and her choice was to see this road through to the end.




Satya made sure to wake up especially early, to ensure she had access to the other small room near the front – a restroom – for as long as she would need it.

She dismissed the hardlight comb she had just been using, and carefully measured the fingernails on her right hand against the hardlight fingertips on her left. They were due, she decided, so she constructed a pair of nail clippers and… paused.

The five sky-blue nails were not nearly as long as Sombra’s, but they extended some distance past her fingertips and had a rather pointed shape to them.

Satya considered them. She might have wretched at the idea a week ago, and still had to fight the urge to wash her hands, then and there, merely for having thought of it, but…

Perhaps, under controlled circumstances…

Partly to avoid having to think any more about it, Satya cautiously clipped each nail far enough back that all five were completely bordered by visible skin when she viewed them from above. She then ran some quick tests with her hardlight to ensure the change wouldn’t affect her abilities.

When everything seemed in order, she spent more time than she would have deemed necessary running her thumb over her bare fingertips and vice versa. It was a new, pleasing sensation.




As they set out in darkness, a shining blue missile speeding north across the desert to the mountains beyond, Satya became especially self-conscious of her right hand, nervous at having made such an obvious change to herself.

But behind the growing fear that someone would notice, there was an odd, thrilling sense of anticipation about it. She supposed it was important to her, something that set her apart. The ways she had normally conveyed disinterest were rather rude, on reflection. It was convenient, actually, to now have more solid ground to stand on if she required it. Satya found a twinge of slight disappointment mixed with her relief when she realized no one was actually paying attention, even though she had caught herself absently rubbing her fingertips together on several occasions. Other people did not notice these things, she supposed.

Zenyatta would not have said anything, anyway, and neither would Lena, now that she thought about it. It was strange to realize that almost everyone around Satya knew some secret about her that the others did not. As far as she knew, Lúcio had still said nothing about Calado.

As her thoughts fell on Lúcio, she noticed that he seemed rather nervous himself. There was a suspicious, worried look on his face as he kept casting quick glances toward Genji. A few moments later, his eyes widened as they met Satya’s, and Satya winced, guiltily, at having been staring.

Lúcio slowly shrugged his shoulders, his forearms and folded hands upturning slightly with the movement, as his confused, questioning eyes darted back toward Genji.

The cyborg was quiet, perhaps meditating on something, but Satya shot back a quick, confused look, unaware of whatever he seemed to be concerned about.

Lúcio shrugged again, more quickly this time, as he looked away. There wasn’t much else either of them could do in the situation, Satya supposed.

The day’s journey was long and uneventful, as elevated roadways propelled the Porpoise, at impressive speeds, over a seemingly endless series of rocky ridges and peaks, interrupted only briefly by the occasional desert or stretch of farmland. Genji slowly appeared to become rather unnerved at how silent everyone was being. Satya supposed Zenyatta and herself had much to think on, and Lúcio as well, it seemed. And she still had no idea what Lena was so consumed with, something she seemed hesitant to discuss.




The safehouse turned out to be a remote cabin deep in a range of snow-capped mountains. It was dark when they arrived, as Lena had anticipated. Satya quickly set her suitcase in one of the bedrooms before joining the others in a large living room illuminated by the dim yellow light of several lamps.

Lena explained tomorrow’s planned events in detail. Aleksandra Zaryanova – or ‘Zarya’ as she went by, falling squarely in between the half of Overwatch that used codenames and the half that used their given names, or so it seemed to Satya – had set up a remote rendezvous location somewhere in this very same mountain range. It wouldn’t take a full day, so they would have to wait for the appointed time if they didn’t want to spend several hours parked in the snow. Satya, at least, now felt less guilty about how specifically she’d set her own pickup location.

“Hey, Satya?” Lúcio said quietly as the others started making their way toward their rooms, “can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Certainly,” Satya responded with some surprise, until she remembered how nervous he had been earlier in the day. She supposed she should be grateful that at least one of her burning questions seemed so eager to resolve itself.

Lúcio sat back down on the couch, seeming hesitant and somewhat distant as he waited for Satya to join him. Once she had, he still took a long moment before speaking. “Does it ever bother you?” he asked slowly, still staring across the room at the other wall, “your hand, I mean.”

Satya’s eyes went wide as she instinctively closed her right hand to hide her fingertips. “How so?” she asked nervously.

Lúcio didn’t seem to notice her reaction as he continued. “Cause it’s… well, I guess it’s not really metal, but still.”

“Oh,” Satya breathed a sigh of relief, raising her left, hardlight hand out in front of her to consider it. She actually had to spend some time thinking about that question. Her prosthetic had been such a constant part of her life for so long that she considered it part of her. “I suppose not,” she finally answered, but paused, remembering a somewhat awkward moment two nights ago. “It can be inconvenient at times, for… certain purposes, but overall, I cannot complain.”

Lúcio seemed disappointed as he finally turned toward Satya. “I mean, I guess I can kinda relate,” he admitted, his expression changing slightly as he seemed to realize something. “Tech’s pretty hardcore these days. And I mean…” he paused, looking cautiously at Satya, “it must be pretty great for you, to be able to make new stuff whenever you want instead of having to reuse things.”

Satya shot him a somewhat embarrassed smirk. “It is… one of the most comforting things in all the world,” she admitted fondly.

Lúcio let out a small chuckle at that, shaking his head at her with a stupid grin, but after a few moments, his face fell again. He took a deep breath. “Does Genji seem… off to you?” he asked finally.

“Aside from believing in magic, you mean?” Satya said with a raised eyebrow.

There was a sad look of concern on Lúcio’s face, and Satya felt a pang of guilt as she quickly matched his expression.

“He just… says all this stuff,” Lúcio began, “about how he’s ‘accepted what he is’ and all that, and I just… It doesn’t sit right with me, y’know?”

Satya looked at him oddly. “Cybernetics are not always a bad thing,” she offered, unsure of how else to respond, but remembering her own concerns about Sombra and the hacker’s quick reply.

“But it’s different for Genji, you know that, right?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” Satya felt another pang of guilt at not remembering sooner.

“If it was as big a deal for him as he made it sound…” Lúcio looked dejectedly down to where his metal-paneled feet lay against the floor, and lifted one ankle over the other as he sighed. “I don’t think it’s something you just get over.” He looked back up at Satya, concern on his face. “And I mean, prosthetics are one thing, but there’s barely anything left of him, you wouldn’t even know he’s human just by looking at him. And I… don’t think any amount of ‘teaching’ can make how you’d feel about all that go away. It just seems unhealthy.”

“I… highly doubt Zenyatta would have knowingly done something harmful.”

“I mean, I do too, but…” Lúcio sighed, leaning back into the couch with his hands behind his head as he stared vaguely toward the ceiling. “I’m just worried, is all. He seems fine, really, but… most of the time, so does Lena.”

Satya was silent at that. She wasn’t sure what she believed about Genji, but… Lena had seemed skeptical enough to be concerned, so Satya supposed that was enough to at least take the possibility into account.

“Well, I’m gonna fade out for tonight,” Lúcio said with a yawn as he stood up, “have a good one.”

“Do not worry too much,” Satya said as the DJ moved into the hallway, “I know what that is like.”

Lúcio gave her a small salute as he closed his door. The hallway split off from the main living space, making a right angle after a few rooms, and Satya’s own room was at the very end. It was getting rather late, and she supposed she should be there fairly soon in case she had a certain visitor waiting for her. She lingered for only a few moments longer, and got up to leave, as well.

As she passed Lena’s room, she heard the door creak open behind her.

“Satya?” Lena asked with a yawn. She seemed very tired, looking like she might have actually been asleep for a time already. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” she continued, a strange, hesitant confusion in her voice.

“I… suppose,” Satya stuttered, wondering why Lena would choose such a time to discuss whatever matter she had been considering.

“Oh, not about…” Lena corrected suddenly, tensing briefly as she spoke. “Something really weird just happened, s’all.” Her eyed narrowed, but seemingly in legitimate confusion rather than suspicion. “I just… got sent some video footage somehow, and you’re in it.”

Satya’s eyes went wide in shock, a flood of thoughts and fears racing through her mind, most of which she’d forgotten until that very moment. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense at all. Sombra had erased the footage, hadn’t she? Was it all a trick? Satya found herself taking a step away from Lena, overcome with a quickly returning doubt that she would ever have a place in Overwatch, or retain any of the friendships she’d made. No matter how hard she tried to call on everything that had happened to change all of that, she still felt lost and hopeless in the moment. But something else, the sinking, unbearable feeling of having been betrayed by someone she’d loved with all her heart, threatened to shatter that heart into a thousand pieces.

“Satya! What…” Lena looked positively aghast at Satya’s reaction, quickly closing the distance between them and taking the architech’s hands in hers. “Let’s go sit down, love, alright? I don’t… I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s not… I swear it’s not whatever you… whatever you seem to think it is.”

Lena led Satya into her room, turning on the overhead lights and sitting them both down on one of the couches. The individual rooms were also rather large, Satya realized through her haze. Lena pulled out her phone, holding it up to Satya as she played a video file.

Satya could tell, instantly, that it wasn’t the Calado footage she’d seen on Sombra’s screens. The small screen of Lena’s phone lit up with bright orange light, and the picture seemed unsteady, shaking, as the perspective itself moved through a world of fire. It was cell phone footage, Satya realized, as the camera progressed through a mass of burning buildings.

The favela.

The camera paused as whoever was holding it stopped in their tracks, the perspective shifting suddenly, and Satya saw… herself, running toward a field of debris and stopping just in front of it. She arced hardlight into the air to lift the wreckage, and moments later, she was carrying the young girl, the one with the burned face, out of the fire. She saw, finally, how lost and broken the version of her in the footage was as she handed the injured, scarred girl to her mother.

“That was my fault,” Satya found herself saying through tears, the confession spilling out so she could delay having to see Lena’s reaction for as long as possible. “Vishkar sent me there… to the building, for information. There were guards… I did not kill them, but they died regardless.” She took a deep breath. “Vishkar destroyed the building, caused that fire…”

Lena put a hand on Satya’s shoulder, a sad confusion on her face. “Why are you… Satya, I knew they made you do things. That’s why you left, innit? And even then, you did what you could, love. You saved those people.”

“No, I did not,” Satya insisted. “Not her. Her face was… burned. Badly. That is not a life.”

Lena winced, running her fingers over her accelerator strap. “Did I not get saved, then?”

Satya was silent for a long time. She had always considered that moment a failure, someone she had hurt instead of helped. But if, as she tried her best to remember, it wasn’t her fault… she had done the right thing, she cautiously realized.

She took a long moment to relax and collect her thoughts. Lena did not seem at all concerned about the facts of what she had done, and now having come to her senses, Satya realized she should not find that so surprising. It was her reaction that Lena had seemed so distraught over. The fear that had coursed through her at the mention of the footage. That was the answer Lena was looking for.

“I suppose it does seem foolish,” Satya began, downcast. “I was afraid, because I did not think Overwatch would be interested in someone involved in such things. I was afraid…” she took a deep breath. “I was afraid… that I would lose you.”

Lena gasped, throwing her arms around Satya before the architech could object. She awkwardly held up her phone again, off to the side. “This, this is what Overwatch is interested in. We don’t care about the rest, really.” She lay her head tightly against Satya’s shoulder, her eyes welling with tears. “And I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”

“There is…” Satya began, tensing as she felt the cutting edge of the guilt she still carried. “There is more I have not said.”

Lena laughed, pulling away just enough that their eyes could meet. “There always bloody is, isn’t there?” she said as she rolled her eyes with a smile. She considered something for a moment, and her face fell. “I guess I can’t really make you feel better then, can I?”

“It is worse than you think,” Satya said, pulling away.

Lena sighed. “I really wish I could.” Her face contorted slightly as she considered something. “It’s the footage, isn’t it? You thought it’d be something different.”

“She had footage from inside the building,” Satya said without thinking about it. Something was slowly occurring to her, something that made her heart sink.

“She?” Lena asked with a raised eyebrow.

“I…” Satya began. She was growing frantic, but not at Lena’s question. “You should rest,” Satya said as she stood up to leave. “There is more… I will explain later. There’s something I need to…” she sighed, looking down at Lena’s concerned expression. “Please trust me. I do not wish to speak of it now.”

“Makes two of us, I guess,” said Lena, smiling in a resigned, slightly guilty way.

“Goodnight, Lena,” Satya said quickly as she left the room.

Sombra sending Lena that footage could only mean one thing, Satya realized. An end to their arrangement, just as the original footage would have been. She felt frustratingly powerless, realizing for perhaps the first time that she had been entirely dependent on whether or not Sombra decided to show up. She had no idea how to contact the hacker otherwise. If Sombra had truly decided to end things, there was nothing Satya could do about it. She couldn’t argue, couldn’t try to convince her to stay. She wouldn’t even have a chance to say goodbye.

As she rounded the bend of the hallway, her heart jumped, but she couldn’t tell if it had been in a good or a bad way.

Her door was open.

Satya quickly walked into the room, shutting the door and turning on the lights. “Hello?” She whispered hesitantly, scanning the room for any kind of invisibility shimmer, though she had never seen one before. “Sombra?” she said even more softly.

There was no response.

Satya paced around the room several times, past the bed, the low table along the back wall, the two couches angled around a potted plant in the corner to the left from where she’d entered. She had just sat down at the far end of the couch along the left wall, desperately scanning the room for anything even the tiniest bit out of place, when she saw it.

She cursed herself for not having noticed it immediately. Her emotions were getting the better of her in a way that she wished she could do something about. She stood up, walking over to the low table, where she’d spotted a small shape, the unmistakable semi-metallic white of her hardlight.

It was the skull sigil Sombra had requested back in Peru.

Satya wondered where it had been the whole time, but didn’t have to wonder for long, as she finally placed those out-of-place, extraneous lines she’d noticed in the design. A narrow, hollow channel ran from edge to edge near the top, just below the upper point of the vaguely hexagonal shape.

Through it was threaded a thin, silver-blue chain.

Chapter Text

Sombra slowly, carefully closed the window she’d entered through, the slight sound masked by the commotion of the five gathered Overwatch agents as they departed from their meeting. She waited, invisible, in the dark, empty room as the others moved about the hallway. Three doors opened and closed, but hers never moved.

It would have been easier, Sombra noted with a sigh, if the room she’d entered had been occupied, but it was no trouble, really. She listened at the door, hearing Satya’s and Lúcio’s voices emanating from back toward the entryway. She put exact pressure on the wood door and slowly turned the knob, exiting into the empty hallway without making a sound. She repeated the process to close it again, then plodded silently around the corner to the room she’d spotted Satya’s suitcase in from outside.

She opened the door as she had the other, and was just crossing the threshold into the darkened room when she registered a series of new alerts through her cranial implant. With a sigh, she decloaked and brought up Talon’s internal message system on one of her screens.




[Gabe]: Sombra, Change of plans

[Gabe]: Forget the list

[Gabe]: There’s a Volskaya facility 37 kilometers north of your location

[Gabe]: You’re to steal the weapon in the main chamber

[Gabe]: You’ll have a window of reduced security tomorrow night

[Gabe]: Reaper out

What did I tell you about using this?

We don’t have an AI to secure the system, remember?

[Gabe]: You think every system is unsecured

True

And don’t worry about that window

I know you’re sooo concerned for my safety, but I can handle it whenever

[Gabe]: Tomorrow night

[Gabe]: 2200 hours

[Gabe]: Those are your orders

OK Gabe, whatever you say

[Gabe]: It’s Reaper

[Gabe]:

[Gabe]: You better not have me as ‘Gabe’ in your contacts again

You really think so little of me?

[Gabe]: Yes

Aww, that hurts, you know?

But please

I’m not that petty

[Gabe]: Don’t screw this one up, Sombra

[Gabe]: Reaper out




Sombra’s mischievous smirk faded as she dismissed her screen. It was over, she realized. She wouldn’t have any excuse, any pathetic rationalization for why she should keep dropping in like this. Keep taking risks like this.

She scowled, cursing herself. It was supposed to be simple, she recalled. Track them down. Find their weaknesses, and exploit them. Beat them at their own fucking game. Take their power for her own. Why couldn’t she just stick to the plan?

She noticed her hands clenched into fists, the shooting pain welling around where her nails pushed into her gloved palms. She exhaled as she loosened her grip slightly, calming herself.

It was weakness. It always had been. She knew how the world worked, knew that it was everyone for themselves. Information was power, and power was the only thing that mattered. She’d seen so much cruelty, so much indifference. What had the world ever done for her? Why did she feel she owed it anything? That she owed anyone anything? She shouldn’t care. She shouldn’t care at all. Not after how she’d been cast aside, left to fend for herself from as far back as she could remember.

But she cared anyway. Her humanity, she supposed. Somehow that hadn’t been stamped out of her. It wasn’t such a bad thing all the time, she admitted, but it was for what she had to do. She had to be cold, efficient, ruthless, if she wanted to have any chance of succeeding in her mission. Any chance of surviving her mission. As much as she cursed herself, as much as it pained her to even think of it, Widow’s reconditioning suddenly didn’t seem so unappealing.

The thought stopped Sombra in her tracks, as it always did, but this time, she cursed herself for letting it get to her. She wasn’t supposed to be like this. She wasn’t supposed to feel. The world was supposed to be hers for the taking, with just one last obstacle standing in her way. One she was so close to finally unraveling, if she could just be the person it only made sense for her to be.

If I had just gotten a tighter hold over Volskaya, Sombra thought with a grimace, I might have been DONE with all of this by now.

And Satya… she would have to forget about her. She shouldn’t have let it get as far as it had. Perhaps, when it was over… no, she couldn’t hold on like that. It would still be weakness. It would still interfere, somehow, she just knew it. Besides…

One way or another, Sombra still wasn’t convinced it would ever be over.

She heard footsteps in the hallway, and another door opening and closing. Lúcio, she realized. It was only a matter of time before Satya would return to her room as well. Sombra had to act quickly. She pulled up the video file from the Calado fire, the only one she had actually intended on sending, no matter which way it had gone.

The camera really shows your good side, you know, she remembered with a knowing smirk as she sent the footage off to Lena.

That would do the trick, she hoped, as her face fell again. But still… she had to sever all ties. Make it clear. She couldn’t know what effect it would have. She’d done everything she could to hide it, because letting Satya see it would make it real in a way Sombra could never admit to her, or to herself. But she knew she couldn’t keep it.

With a wince, she opened the outer folds of her coat, then undid the inner, zippered section around her neck just enough to unclasp the thin chain. Her heart broke as she set the necklace down on the table, but she did all she could to steel herself, to tell herself it had always been a mistake.

She heard more footsteps, and Lena’s door opening. She had bought herself more time, but she couldn’t bear to stay a minute longer. With one last, pained look at the hardlight rendition of her sigil, she was gone from the room, standing under the moonlight on the rooftop where she’d left her translocator beacon.

Sombra picked up the device, placing it in her coat as she lingered for a moment, staring out at the gentle, snow-covered slope and the peaks beyond. It was peaceful, quiet, yet ominous. The way the world often seemed in the places where it wasn’t actively falling to pieces. Nowhere was safe, really. Some places were just being suffocated instead of incinerated.

She activated her stealth, leaping from the rooftop and landing expertly on a stone retaining wall jutting out from the right side of the building. She tiptoed out along the wall, passing the snow-covered, stone courtyard below.

“If I may have a moment of your time.”

Sombra turned on her heels, startled. The monk, Zenyatta, was hovering some distance away, amid snow-covered stone tables and chairs. And he was looking right at her.

He couldn’t see her, could he? Sombra briefly panicked, considering her options. She wasn’t sure she could outrun the levitating omnic, even if she used her translocators, and her single machine pistol would likely be no match against the nine telekinetically-controlled orbs floating around his neck. She could try to hack him, or use her electromagnetic pulse, but… they probably wouldn’t be as effective as she was hoping. She very well knew that the monk was imbued with a power that was, for the most part, quite beyond her capabilities.

“I sense a presence here, and my intuition does not often fail me,” said Zenyatta. “Also, I saw you inside, and you leave footprints in the snow.”

Sombra cursed herself as she looked down at the trail of exposed stone – the snow melted away where she had planted her feet – leading straight to her current position. She cursed again as she remembered that she’d been so occupied by her conversation with Reyes that she’d forgotten to close the door to Satya’s room after she’d entered.

“Fine, what do you want?” Sombra snapped impatiently as she decloaked.

“Merely to offer my services, since it appears you will be leaving us.”

Sombra looked at him oddly, narrowing her eyes. “I don’t need a therapist.”

“Perhaps a new perspective, then,” said Zenyatta. He tilted his head. “I sense that you are conflicted, searching for an answer.”

Sombra rolled her eyes. “Are you for real?” she asked. “En serio?” She threw up her hands. “Why do you fucking care?

“That is the answer you seek, is it not?” Zenyatta said as he folded his hands. “Though, not from me.”

After a few moments, Sombra’s eyes widened briefly, but she remained silent, narrowing them again at the omnic.

Zenyatta slowly turned and began to hover away. “You may join me if you wish,” he said as he floated toward a stone bench. “I know you will not say yes, but you do not have to say no, either.”

Something about the way he had phrased that seemed oddly familiar, and Sombra felt a strange, confusing pang of guilt at the idea of leaving just then. With a sigh of disgust and another roll of her eyes, she reluctantly followed the monk, brushing the snow off the bench and taking a seat as he floated nearby. The frozen courtyard around them was oddly calming. The omnic didn’t seem at all affected by the cold, and thanks to her suit’s temperature regulation, Sombra didn’t feel anything more than a slight chill against her cheek. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest anyway, just to make it abundantly clear that she did not want to be there. How much of it was all part of the act, Sombra wasn’t sure she could tell anymore.

“You carry a great burden,” the monk began, his electronic voice slow and soothing, “one that is imperceptible to most. All see how it has made you bitter, resentful, but do not know why. But I can see the weight you bear on your shoulders, and I am here not as your enemy. I seek only to offer my assistance, where I can.”

Sombra remained silent, looking down at her crossed ankles to avert her eyes.

“You do not need to speak,” Zenyatta continued. “You do not need to listen, either.” He paused for a long moment. “To address your earlier question, I will admit that my concern is partially, as you may suspect, guided by self-interest. The threat you face is indeed worrisome, and likely stands across the path I hope to travel, just as it does yours. However… I also care for you, as I would any weary soul in search of guidance. I would take you as my student, if you so requested.”

“Yeah… not really my thing, sorry,” Sombra snarked with amusement.

Zenyatta chuckled to himself. “The others were often just as reluctant, in the beginning.” He paused, considering something. “But you wished to know not of me, but of yourself.”

At the monk’s expectant look, Sombra sighed. “People say they care,” she said, “but they don’t. It’s always about what they have to gain. About power, about control. That’s how the world works.”

“I believe you are quite aware that that is not the case, at least where you are concerned.”

“Ugh, yes, I care, okay?” Sombra said bitterly as she threw her hands out in frustration, her voice only growing more seething as she continued. “But that’s what doesn’t make any sense, because I shouldn’t. No one fucking cared about me, that’s for sure. I had nothing after the Crisis. Everything I had in life I had to steal, or manipulate people into giving me. The world forgot about me, do you understand that? I should hate it, and everyone in it, so why fucking don’t I?”

Zenyatta was silent for a moment as Sombra’s breathing steadied from her outburst. “When you care for someone, do you make them aware of it?” he finally asked as he tilted his head.

“Of course not,” Sombra snapped, “why would I admit that?”

“Then, how are you so certain that others do not hold similar feelings toward you?”

“Because the only time anyone does shit for me is when I’m in control.”

“Are they always aware you are in control? What feelings are you taking advantage of, if not compassion?”

Sombra paused. She had always felt so smug and satisfied at how easy it was to manipulate people, how they had laughed and smiled at her when she was a child, while she stole right out from under their noses. And a few members of Los Muertos had been friendly to her as well, but… that was only because they needed her skills, wasn’t it? People only cared about the person she had pretended to be. When she’d acted like she had everything she needed, and they didn’t have to put any effort into it. When she was someone who had something to offer, instead of someone who needed help.

“You must have a unique view of the world,” Zenyatta said after a time, “I have trouble believing you are convinced that people act only in self-interest, with so much knowledge at your disposal.”

Sombra considered that. It was just information, wasn’t it? Things she had on people, could use against them. It wasn’t real, like what she’d seen for herself, but… what was it, then?

“Perhaps, in your life, you have known only neglect and suffering,” Zenyatta continued, “and this makes you resentful. You believe your resentment should be absolute, that you should not have learned compassion when none was shown to you.” He paused. “But you do not view the world though your life alone.”

Sombra looked at him oddly, finding something significant in his words that she hadn’t yet placed.

“You know of many lives,” the monk explained, “in great detail. You see what these people experience, and they do not all suffer as you do. You see how lives can change when people do care for one another. Because you have not lived these things for yourself does not make them less real to you. You feel for these people, as if you had walked in their shoes.”

Sombra narrowed her eyes. “Are you trying to tell me I’m a good person because I invade peoples’ privacy?” She sighed. “Yeah, so what? I screw up, and get to know people a little too well, but I already knew that. It’s not the point. The point is… why do I care about anyone in the first place? Why do I feel these things at all?

Zenyatta tilted his head again. “Is ‘because you are human’ not a sufficient answer?”

Sombra grimaced, pushing air through her teeth in frustration. “You think I look at the world from the outside, and I see how good and kind it is, right? Well, it’s not. It’s a cruel, broken place, and people don’t want it to be fixed; they just want it to be broken in their favor. And the people who actually want to help, they don’t know how to help.”

“And what would you do about it?”

“There’s no fucking point,” Sombra hissed, “you can’t fix something that doesn’t want to be fixed.”

“I did not ask whether you could,” said the monk, “I asked whether you would wish to.”

“It doesn’t fucking matter what I want!” Sombra shouted, seething.

“It does, if you are afraid of the answer.”

Sombra stood up, bitterly regaining her composure. “If you’re not going to stop me, I’m done here.”

“Very well,” said Zenyatta, “but you need not be conflicted. It is often those of us with the most pain, who are most determined to alleviate the pain of others.”

Sombra made her way out from the courtyard to the open snow, hearing the monk’s words grow softer as he followed slowly enough to allow the distance between them to grow.

“It is not so strange,” Zenyatta continued, “to wish upon others that which you have been denied, or that you have denied yourself.”

Sombra stopped, turning on her heel. “You think you’re so fucking helpful, don’t you?” she said to the monk. “Well, you’re not. You have no fucking idea what’s at stake.”

“I do believe I have provided a much-needed assistance,” Zenyatta said, lingering in place as Sombra turned back around, activating her stealth as she left the monk, and the snowy cabin, behind. “You simply do not know it yet.”

Chapter Text

Satya wasn’t sure how long she’d been sitting there.

She was back on the end of the couch, her prosthetic elbow leaning over the armrest. She felt pressure against the skin and muscle on the insides of her organic fingers where the thin hardlight edge pressed into them, as she clutched tightly at the necklace with a determination she couldn’t reason with. She felt a similar pressure around her eyes as she forcefully held them closed.

“Hey, Satya?” Lena’s voice was quiet and pained from outside the door. “Are you alright, love?”

Satya realized, suddenly, that she’d been loudly sobbing for quite some time. Lena’s voice seemed… irritating, somehow. A distraction, something only anticipating what she actually needed, and therefore frustratingly inadequate.

“I mean, I know you’re not,” Lena continued, sounding apologetic, “just… I’m here if you want me.”

“Please, leave me alone,” Satya snapped, as if swatting at a buzzing mosquito. Her eyes went wide as she said it. “I am sorry!” she called quickly, raising her voice, fearing Lena might have already started to leave. “I did not mean to…”

She heard the door softly open and close. It occurred to Satya that she was holding, in plain view, a sigil that Lena would recognize from its association with Talon, but she could not find the will to move at all, let alone try to hide it.

“I do not…” Satya began, pained, and through tears. “I do not understand why I feel this way.”

She looked up, watching as Lena’s eyes fell on the sigil. She saw the pilot’s expression of fearful shock turn to stunned surprise, then to something more like guilt, and finally to… a sad, bleak, understanding smile as tears of her own began to well in her eyes.

“I think I might,” Lena said simply with a slight hint of embarrassment.

Lena sat down, curling up next to Satya and throwing her arms around the architech’s shoulders as she leaned her head sideways over the headrest and one of her arms. She lay there, holding on tightly and taking several long, slow breaths, and Satya’s own breathing seemed to slow as well.

“Just start whenever you want,” Lena said after a time. At Satya’s continued silence, she sighed and added in a mocking pledge, “I hereby accept any and all risks that whatever terrible things you have to tell me will make me want to stop hugging you, and waive my right to be mad that I already am.”

Satya rolled her eyes, her head shaking slightly as her face fell. It was almost a full minute before she finally spoke. “She was in my room,” she managed, calmly, through the tears that were still falling, “the first night, in Rio de Janeiro. After you left.”

“Is that when you joined?” Lena interrupted with a playful, stunned curiosity, extending an arm to run a finger along the hardlight skull sigil. “This whole bloody time, you were in Sombra?

Satya choked, her eyes going wide in shock as she lunged forward, some combination of a laugh and a squeal getting caught in her throat. “What?” she asked, completely flustered as she clasped her hardlight hand around the hand holding the necklace. “Are you… oh,” Satya realized aloud, sighing in relief and stifling a giggle, “the collective. You were… asking if I had joined.”

Lena’s eyes were wide as she stared at Satya in alarm and confusion, having jumped away at the architech’s sudden reaction. “Yeah… what did you think I was asking?”

Satya brought her hands up over her face to hide her luminescent blush as she looked away. “Sombra is her name.”

After a moment, she heard a muffled snort from Lena. “Oh, oh shit, love, did I really just…” Satya uncovered her eyes as Lena burst out in laughter.

Staring at Lena’s bright-red face, Satya couldn’t help but laugh as well. It was a pained laugh, but a genuine one. “Though, to answer your question,” she began as she managed, somewhat, to regain her composure, “we… did not get quite that far.”

Lena’s laughter only grew more uncontrollable, but Satya’s turned again to sobbing as she looked down at the sigil in her hand. Lena seemed to notice a short time later, her face falling as she struggled to compose herself.

Satya sighed, shrinking into her shoulders. “She wanted information,” Satya began, bracing for Lena’s reaction as she continued, “She threatened me with the Calado footage, so I would give her the names of those we were recruiting. I… do not think I gave her anything useful.”

Lena’s somewhat shocked expression started to break as stifled laughter peeked through. “You mean…” she began, smiling as she wavered on the edge of losing her composure once more, “all that time I kept forgetting to tell you things…”

“It was an immense relief,” Satya said simply as she eyed Lena oddly.

Lena stifled another laugh, “I’m sorry, it’s just…” she trailed off, and her face fell to something much more stern as she seemed to realize something. “She threatened you?”

“I know how it sounds,” Satya said with a sad sigh, “but I understand why she does it.” She gave Lena a long, serious look of concern. “She is involved with… something dangerous. Not Talon, she… she uses Talon for protection, from something else.”

Lena was listening intently, a worried look on her face.

“She fears they will… hurt those she cares about to get to her, so she does not allow herself to care about anyone. Instead, she… creates these arrangements. Threatens people into helping her, but acts as if they are her friends, and helps them in return. At the same time she was pressuring me for information, she insisted on… giving me advice, on how to be friends with you and Lúcio.”

Lena was squinting oddly, a look of skeptical disbelief on her face. “You’re… serious? And you figured all that out, did ya?”

Satya’s face fell. “I… have difficulty socializing. I often have to plan conversations strategically, like solving a problem. Working toward the most favorable outcome. Friendship often feels like… a successful manipulation. It was not difficult to see the parallel.”

“Don’t… feel like that,” Lena said with a concerned look as she held Satya’s forearm with both of her hands. “You didn’t trick me into anything, love. I like you. I know you think different, but it’s not that different, really.” She smiled bleakly. “I want you to like me, too. Why d’ya think I tell you all my sob stories, huh? Just because I don’t always think about that while I’m doing it doesn’t make it different.”

Lena let go so she could reach an arm back around Satya’s shoulders, sidling in next to her as she continued, “If you both want something, does it really matter how you get there?”

“Yes, I…” Satya considered for a moment, “I suppose I figured that out, eventually.”

With her free hand, Lena reached out to close it around Satya’s right, still clutching the necklace. She ran her thumb along the smooth, hardlight surface. “You really care about her, don’t you?” she asked, tearfully.

“Initially, it was a way out of her arrangement,” Satya began, “to give her something else she wanted, but now…” Tears fell down her cheeks as she relaxed into Lena’s arm, breathing deeply as she searched for the words.

“I… love her,” she said, finally.

The words felt odd, unfamiliar on Satya’s lips, sounding not quite right. “I love her,” she repeated more forcefully, trying desperately to say it just the way it was supposed to be said. The way she meant it.

Lena’s left arm squeezed tightly around Satya’s shoulders. “I believe you,” Lena said simply, followed by an odd, gentle laugh. “I know you might not believe this, but I think I know exactly how you’re feeling right now.”

“You… are taking this rather well,” Satya noticed, narrowing her eyes. “I have just told you that I met covertly with a Talon agent, and that I have a romantic interest in her.”

Lena smiled bleakly, letting out a nervous laugh. “Yeah… that all sounds pretty bad, love, honestly, but… I’m not really one to talk.”

Satya looked at her oddly.

Lena tensed up, seeming slightly pained. “Remember that thing I wanted to talk to you about?”

Satya nodded, and Lena pulled out her phone, scrolling through images. After a few moments, she held up the small device, displaying a security camera image Satya had seen once before, in the presentation Lena had held on their first day at sea.

Satya looked confusedly at the tall, slender woman with pale blue skin. “Widowmaker,” she remembered aloud. She took a longer look at the picture, meeting the chilling glare in the woman’s golden eyes. Her sleek, magenta bodysuit – with a neckline cut so low that it could not possibly be comfortable – was met at her hips by charcoal grey material over her upper legs. Her right arm was bare except for a spiderweb tattoo filled with bolded letters Satya couldn’t make out, while her left arm was adorned with a small shoulder pad and a very intricate-looking forearm gauntlet. A long, snakelike length of dark blue hair fell to near her knees from behind the seven circular, red lenses on her oddly-shaped, three-paneled headpiece.

“I think I might be in love with her,” Lena said hesitantly.

“That does not surprise me,” said Satya, still looking at the photograph.

Lena sighed. “I know how it looks, but it’s not like that.”

Satya looked up at her, raising an eyebrow.

“Okay, it’s sort of like that,” Lena admitted. “Partially.” Her face fell as she put her phone away. “But it’s about a lot more, trust me.”

Satya’s face fell as well, and she let out a long sigh. She moved the necklace to her prosthetic hand, using her organic one to hold reassuringly onto Lena’s wrist as she realized the woman’s conflict. “Does Emily know?” she asked softly.

Lena settled back into the headrest. “She knows something’s up, at least. Always joking about it in a way I just don’t understand.” Tears flowed down her face as she continued. “Em means everything to me. Everything. I love her with all my heart.” She took a deep, sobbing breath. “It’s just… it’s like I have another heart or something.”

Satya looked down at the glowing light of Lena’s accelerator. “I suppose, in a way, you do.”

Lena shot back a brief, amused smirk through her tears before her face fell again. “Widowmaker is…” she began slowly, then paused, seeming to have trouble putting what she wanted to say into words. “Well, her name’s Amélie.” She made a strange expression. “And before you say anything,” she added quickly, “yes. I know.”

It took Satya a lot longer than she would have admitted to make the connection.

“Or, it used to be, I mean. I’m not really sure if she wants to be called that anymore. You see, love…” Lena paused again, a sad, lost look in her eyes that gave Satya chills. “Talon really wanted to kill Gérard Lacroix. He was one of Overwatch’s leaders, one of the best. They failed every time they tried to take him out, so eventually… they took his wife, Amélie. She was missing for a while, then one day we just found her again. Nothing seemed to be wrong, but then…” Lena exhaled, a haunted expression on her face. “Two weeks later, Gérard got killed in his sleep, and now… now we know it was her that did it.”

Satya didn’t know what to say, if there was anything to say at all. She stared at Lena, aghast.

“They’d done something to her,” Lena continued. “Talon. And then they kept at it, making her into… we don’t know, exactly. She doesn’t seem to remember, or maybe she just doesn’t care. It’s like she doesn’t have any emotion at all anymore, except… except sometimes it’s like she does, Satya. When I’m fighting her on missions, sometimes it’s like she’s… she’s lost, but part of her’s still looking for something, and the rest of her doesn’t want to find it… but then the next time she’s right back to nothing at all again, and…”

“She is hurting,” Satya realized aloud, “or… may be hurting, and you wish to help her.”

“Yeah, except… I’m not sure I can. Not when I feel like this about her.” Lena let out a long sigh. “See my problem?”

“I suppose it is all very complicated,” Satya said, returning the sigh. “I am sorry I could not be of more help.”

“Help isn’t really the point, love,” Lena said bleakly, before perking up suddenly. “Hey! You know what we need?”

Satya was taken aback by the woman’s sudden enthusiasm, shaking her head slowly as her eyes widened in confusion.

“Be right back, love!” said Lena as she quickly got up off the couch and darted out of the room.

Satya sat there, startled but curious as she held Sombra’s necklace in her hands, running her fingers over the smooth hardlight and along the edges of the hollow sections. She ran one of the fingers on her right hand in a slow circle behind one of the eyes, watching as her dark skin filled each of the six small, triangular markings in turn.

She felt tentatively relieved, some of her guilt finally lifted. There was more she wanted to say, but it had been such an incredible shock to learn of Lena’s similar predicament, and the reality of that was still sinking in. And above it all, her distress at Sombra’s abrupt departure had abated somewhat. Whatever this was… it helped.

“Hey, can I… put this down somewhere?” Lena asked as she re-entered the room, carrying what appeared to be a large bundle of supplies.

Satya rolled her eyes, constructing a circular hardlight table in front of, and within arms’ reach of, the couch.

“You are really great to have around, you know that?” Lena said as she set down a folded, dark purple-blue blanket, several boxes of tissues, and two open tubs of mint-flavored frozen yogurt, a metal spoon sticking haphazardly out of each. “Alright, love,” she instructed with a smile, “this is what people do when they’re having relationship problems.”

“It seems…” Satya began hesitantly as she eyed the large containers, “…rather wasteful.”

Lena rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine,” she said as she rushed out of the room again, returning moments later with two small bowls. “This better?”

Satya nodded, still bewildered at the unfamiliar protocol. She placed the hardlight necklace down on the table and accepted the filled bowl Lena handed her, nervously holding it aloft as Lena squeezed in close beside her on the couch and pulled the blanket over both of them. Satya found herself shifting slightly at the strange pleasantness of the experience. It was altogether very comforting, even efficiently so. The process seemed to be something planned, something procedural. Satya felt that she was in the care of someone who knew what she was doing, and who knew that it would be helpful.

“Does she…” Satya began to ask, a question having been building in the back of her mind since before Lena had left. Lena stopped eating and listened intently, waiting for Satya to continue.

“Do you know whether she returns your feelings?”

Lena broke eye contact to stare out across the room, seeming to consider Satya’s question. “The weird thing is,” she finally began, “sometimes I feel like she does. I mean, it’s all really intimidating in a way I’m not sure how I feel about… but then sometimes, she’ll say something in French, and it won’t mean anything to me at the time, but then I’ll find out later, and then I’ll be like… wait, she said that to me?”

Satya found herself giggling and shaking her head at the strangeness of it all.

Lena turned to look at Satya, apparently pondering a question of her own. “Do you think you’ll ever see her again?” she asked delicately, “Sombra?”

“I do not know,” Satya answered, as evenly as she could manage. “She always seemed conflicted, struggling with whether she should acknowledge her feelings. All of our meetings were on her terms, so if she has decided to isolate herself again, I…” She trailed off as her eyes swam.

Lena shifted closer into Satya’s side, resting her head reassuringly against the architech’s shoulder.

“I feel helpless,” Satya continued after a moment as she fought back tears, “frustratingly so. I do not have the knowledge, or the initiative, to do anything about what has happened. She can… decide to leave, though it hurts her to be alone, and I can do nothing.”

Lena moved out to set her bowl – already empty – on the table as she brought her arms again around Satya’s shoulders. She seemed to be trying to find something to say, before settling on a pained, sad noise as she held Satya more tightly.

After a while, Satya noticed Lena shift slightly, then pull her head away to look at something. Satya followed her gaze to find that she was apparently staring intently, with a surprised expression, at how the architech was holding her bowl and spoon.

“Am I… doing something wrong?” Satya asked nervously.

Lena shook her head, and reached out one hand to hold it around Satya’s right. Her expression began to break into something that resembled a smirk as she… ran her own fingertips over Satya’s.

“Oh,” Satya said as she tensed, then blushed with embarrassment, “Yes, I… supposed I should… take care of that, at some point.”

“So, I guess you figured all that out, then,” Lena said with a knowing smile.

“Not… entirely,” Satya corrected as she put her own bowl down on the table and reluctantly gave Lena her hand to examine. “Sombra is… very patient. She is aware that I have… difficulties, and she does not push farther than I am willing. Sometimes, I… get the sense that she could take or leave certain things, that what she actually longs for is my companionship.”

Lena’s smile became bleak and warm, and her eyes were alight with… something like gratitude. “Tell me about her,” she said rather blissfully.

Satya withdrew her hand to once again pick up the hardlight necklace, running her fingers over its surface. “It… must have been by the second night, in Peru, that she… knew. That was when she asked me to make this. I did not know what it was for.”

She moved her fingers along the silver-blue chain, finding the clasp and undoing it. She held the two ends in place for a moment, before pulling them back behind her neck and reconnecting them. She pressed her hand against the sigil for a moment, holding it close to her chest.

“She… did not always seem so kind,” Satya continued. “At the outset, she was… seductive, and terrifying. But mostly, when she is not being manipulative, or overcome with emotion, she is…” Satya’s face contorted as she searched for the words. “She is bitter, and resigned. She is… frustrated, with herself, and with the way of things.”

The description seemed to sadden Lena, a bleak sympathy on her face. Satya let the pause in conversation stand for a time, before seizing the moment to work toward the rest of what she’d hoped, desperately, that she would have a chance to say.

“That morning, when you were trying to get me to go to breakfast…” Satya began.

Lena nodded, seeming to make the connection even before Satya had explained.

“I was… hesitant, because I was convinced there was no path forward in which I could retain my friendship with you. Either the footage would spell an end to my position in Overwatch, or my betrayal would. I… wished to spare you more pain later, by avoiding you.”

Lena exhaled bleakly, tears welling in her eyes. “Oh, Satya…” she said as she held tightly onto the architech. “I would never… not even if you did those things. I know you, and I know how much this means to you.” She paused, and when she spoke again, there was a smile in her voice. “What made you change your mind?”

“I suppose I knew, even then, that you would allow me to do no such thing.”

“Yeah, that’s me, love!” Lena winced. “I’m sorry if it just made you feel worse.”

“It… did not always,” Satya said simply, hoping she could still get through everything while she had the chance, “And, at breakfast. I was… asking those questions, because I was hoping to avoid obtaining any relevant information. I am sorry if… I seemed strange, or if you thought I was doing it for your benefit.”

Lena looked up as she seemed to be stifling a laugh. “I was kinda wondering… that actually makes it a whole lot funnier, looking back.”

“And… that night, after the tunnel…”

“Satya…” Lena interrupted with a look approaching concern. “I forgive you. For everything. Nothing else is gonna change things any more than what I know already. You don’t have to go over every little detail…”

Yes, I do,” Satya said forcefully. She took a few breaths to calm herself as she continued. “When I… make a mistake, when I do something wrong, when… a moment is made awkward, because of me… I remember these things. They weigh on me, for a very long time. Usually… forever. Memories that hurt when I am reminded of them. That I feel guilt over, as if it had happened only that moment, though it may be days, years, or even decades later. I… am not often given a chance to apologize, or to explain myself, though I still wish to, even for things that no longer matter. Even things that happened with people I will never see again, or… people that I trust in all other regards.”

Lena had a strange look of confused sympathy. “Love, you shouldn’t… you shouldn’t think like that.”

“I am aware,” Satya said simply and darkly. “I know that most of these things that weigh on me are insignificant. That the people involved have moved on, or may not even remember the specific instance that haunts me so. But knowing this does not help.”

“…Okay then,” Lena said bleakly, desperately, as she pressed her head further into Satya’s shoulder. “Just keep going, love. Tell me everything. Anything you can think of.”

“After what happened in the tunnel,” Satya continued, as she managed to free her right arm enough to throw it around Lena’s shoulders and hold her tightly, “before you went to bed, I… I was going to offer to spend the night with you, before I remembered that I might have a visitor.”

Lena laughed warmly against Satya’s shoulder. “I guess this is our raincheck, then,” she said with amusement. “I think it’s like two A.M. or something.”

As Satya searched her memories for the next instance she wished to bring up, she noticed that Lena was shifting uncomfortably under her arm.

“Actually…” Lena began as if to nervously ask for forgiveness, “can I just get one more thing?”

With a sigh, Satya nodded, and Lena darted out from under the blanket and out the door for the third time. When she returned, she was holding a wound-up spool of cable attached to some kind of mechanical device Satya didn’t recognize. She uncoiled the cable, plugging the end into a wall outlet as she set the strange device on the floor near the other couch. She knelt beside it for some time, apparently running some power tests, before she adjusted something on her accelerator and… started undoing the metal clasps on the straps of the harness.

“Lena!” Satya said suddenly, raising her voice in concern.

“It’s alright!” Lena insisted. “Winston made this too. I’ll be fine as long as it’s nearby.”

Satya watched nervously as Lena removed the harness entirely, set it down on the other device, and walked back over to take her place on the couch again. “If… you can do this,” Satya asked in confusion, “Why do you not do it more often?”

“I don’t like waking up without it,” Lena said, shuddering slightly at what seemed to be a troubling memory. She took her place under Satya’s arm again, holding herself close to the architech as she continued, “But it’s okay if I’m with another person.”

Lena was already rather small, comparatively, but without her harness she seemed especially lithe as Satya held her in a gentle embrace. Having removed the device seemed a very intimate gesture, and it made Satya somewhat nervous, but she did her best to perish the thought as she used her prosthetic to pull the blanket further up over the two of them. If it was alright for Lena, despite the guilt she carried, it obviously wasn’t crossing any lines.

“So… where were we?” Lena asked after a time, prompting Satya to continue.

“Yes, well,” Satya began hesitantly, buying time to scan her thoughts for where she had left off. “I believe I was rather rude, when you wished to speak with me the first night on the… Beluga. I was… expecting someone else.”

“I don’t actually remember that, but I’m sure I didn’t think anything of it, love.”

“And… the next day, when I was sitting by the window, that was… when I had determined Sombra’s intentions. I did not see her at all when we were at sea, and I was not certain I would, but when I wished to be alone that night, I intended to wait for her, just in case.”

Oh,” Lena said as she snorted an embarrassed laugh. “That… makes a lot more sense, actually.”

“When we first arrived in India, that was when…” Satya closed her eyes tightly over her welling tears. “We became close. Or started to. She left, suddenly, but… she was the one who warned me about Vishkar.”

Lena’s head perked up suddenly. “Oh, that’s right, I was wondering…”

“And… she was the one who killed the other architech. That was why I could not tell you what happened.”

“But didn’t you say you did that?”

“I…” Satya paused, guilt showing on her face. “I fired a killing shot. That was my choice, and it is unchanged by the fact that it did not finish the job.”

Lena had a mellow, sympathetic look. “You really don’t like killing, do you?”

“I… prefer not to, if I can avoid it.” Satya said before remembering something else about the fight. “You do not seem to have any trouble with it.”

“I didn’t that time,” Lena said with warm smile as she squeezed Satya more tightly. “I wasn’t gonna let them get to you.” She was quiet for a moment, but seemed to think of something suddenly, and a mischievous grin formed on her face. “So, what were you doing when you were missing for an hour?” she said with an arched eyebrow.

Satya smiled and shook her head at the assumption, before averting her eyes as her face fell. “I was… badly injured in the fight. Drained. Sombra… took care of me.”

Lena’s knowing smile faded, replaced by concern, then another bout of gratitude. “I… wow. That’s…”

“She seemed rather annoyed about it the entire time,” Satya added, “but… it was pleasant.”

“You know… the one part about all this I don’t really like…” Lena began with sadness in her voice.

“There is only one part?”

“I mean, I know it all turned out… like it did, but…” Lena seemed to be actively fighting tears. “All this was going on, and I didn’t know about it. I thought I was doing a better job of protecting you.”

Satya’s tears ran down her cheeks, as well, as she finally realized how it all must have seemed to Lena. How helpless she must be feeling, at how easily her security had been undone. That if Sombra had intended to cause harm, nothing could have prevented her. That Lena would have been blissfully unaware, as she had been of the events that had occurred. Satya threw her other arm around the small pilot and pulled her closer, resting her head over Lena’s. “I do not blame you,” was all she could think to say.

They were like that for a while, holding on tightly until they had both calmed down. “So, what happened after that?” Lena finally asked with renewed curiosity.

“Oh…” Satya said nervously as she remembered. “I… only saw her one time, after that.” She tensed with embarrassment as she continued. “We were rather… intimate… in the monastery.”

Lena let out a sudden snort that faded into a strange, involuntary cackle. “I’m sorry, I just…” she attempted as she only barely regained composure, “…you did that? I mean… you? Love, you’re literally the last person I would have thought…” she trailed off into laughter once more.

“It was not… that impressive,” Satya added quickly. “As I said, we did not get far.”

Lena managed to stop laughing for a moment, sounding very tired as she said, “I think I might’ve had a… slightly similar thing happen, maybe.”

After a moment of confusion, Satya made a tentative connection. “Oh, that is right. Your… conversation, I assume.”

Wait…” the word was rather drawn out as Lena moved her head just enough to eye Satya suspiciously. “How would you…”

“This… has nothing to do with Sombra or myself, but I suppose you should be aware that… Zenyatta was reading your text messages from across the building.”

Lena’s eyes shot open, and she tensed suddenly, appearing very awake. “Oh, God, are you serious?

“He did not read them aloud, if it is any consolation,” said Satya, still rather in shock from Lena’s sudden reaction.

“I mean that’s… sort of better… but… still.” Lena was clearly drifting off. “I think Emily and I almost had a cyber three-way with Athena.”

Satya choked, taken very strangely aback by Lena’s words. “Was that… a real sentence?”

“It… was as weird as it sounds.”

A thought occurred to Satya as she calmed down, and without thinking, she blurted out, “If your… other problem persists, perhaps that is something you should be getting used to.”

Lena laughed bleakly, apparently – to Satya’s immense relief – having taken no offense. “Well, isn’t that the dream,” she said with an eye-roll, before letting out something between a yawn and a sigh. “Yeah, I’m not that lucky. No easy way outta’ this one, love.”

“It… does not sound easy, to me. An agreeable arrangement involving two people seems difficult enough without the additional…” Satya trailed off as she realized she might be letting her analytical mind wander a bit too far down this hypothetical. She let out a yawn-sigh of her own before continuing, “…but I think we are both very tired. Perhaps it is time we retired to bed.”

“Okay. G’night, love,” Lena said through a long yawn, making no attempt to move from where she had settled against the architech’s side.

Satya also found the idea of leaving her present arrangements to be especially unappealing in her drowsy state. “Perhaps… in a few moments.”

In a few moments, they had both drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Satya woke to a knock on the door.

“Uhh, hellooooo?”

That was Lúcio’s voice, seeming casual in a way that must have been hiding concern.

“Yes, I am alright,” Satya answered drearily, still not fully awake as she heard Lúcio sigh in relief. The next moment, she panicked as she took note of her surroundings. “But… I wish to be alone right now,” she added quickly.

“Okay, just… you do know what time it is, right?”

Satya looked at the clock on the far wall, realizing, with a start, that it was just past noon.

“We’re just kinda worried, is all,” Lúcio continued, seeming nervous. “I think Lena’s still asleep too. Zen keeps saying you’re both alright, but… it is kinda late.”

“I am sure Lena is fine,” Satya said as she felt the pilot’s slow breathing against her shoulder.

“Ooookay, I’ll… I’ll wait a bit longer, but… she didn’t really tell us exactly when we have to leave, so… don’t be too long, okay?” Lúcio waited a few moments before walking back down the hallway.

A chill of unease washed over Satya. She’d found herself laid out on the couch, on her side, with the blanket pulled up to her neck. Lena was behind and slightly above her, wedged between the architech and the back of the couch with an arm draped around Satya’s waist. She was slowly waking up as well, and Satya could feel the pressure and shifting weight of the small woman’s movements across her entire body.

“Lena?” Satya asked, turning her head at a strained angle as the pilot’s eyes finally drifted open, “Are you… certain, that this is alright?”

“What?” Lena said drearily, through narrowing, sad eyes, in what was almost a mumble. “You… saying… people like us can’t have friends?

“That is not…” Satya paused, finding it difficult to argue the point she had found herself defending. “I… suppose I am… unclear on the boundaries.”

Lena rolled her eyes, shifting off of Satya as the architech lowered her feet back to the floor. “I know how much you like them, but there really aren’t rules for this, love,” she said as they both settled back into sitting positions, “and if there are, they’re kind of outdated and don’t really apply here.” She stared oddly at Satya for a long moment, before she shrunk away suddenly, a look of guilt and hurt on her face as she added, “Are you uncomfortable with this? Because if you are, I’ll stop, it just… it seems like it helps.”

“That is… not what I meant, I do not think,” Satya said, feeling her own pang of guilt at Lena’s reaction. “It is simply… confusing. We are friends, but it seems we are rather close, and I am… prone to not reading situations correctly. I do not want to make a mistake.”

“Oh, no, it’s fine, love. You’re fine,” Lena insisted, “this isn’t even that… I mean I guess I might be a bit more…” She paused, sighing. “I dunno. Emily talks about this stuff a lot, though, and I’m not really sure I get it, but… It’s like… sometimes, people need each other, and whose bloody business is it to make so many rules about that? It’d be different if you weren’t alright with it, but… I’m just…”

“Physical contact is important for you,” Satya remembered aloud.

“I mean, yeah,” Lena said in surprise, apparently at it having been stated so openly. “And… I get the feeling it is for you too, just… only in really specific circumstances.”

“…Yes, I suppose,” Satya admitted, somewhat surprised as well, “it is simply… new for me, and I am not certain where to place it.”

“I think you’re doin’ alright, love,” Lena said as she put an arm around Satya’s shoulders. She pondered something for a moment. “You’re goin’ through a lot of stuff really quickly that most people have years and years to figure out. I can’t even imagine…”

Satya felt as if she was forgetting something, and spent a minute pondering as she relaxed into Lena’s hold on her. When she placed it, her eyes shot open in alarm. “Lena! It is… rather late.”

“Yeah, I know,” Lena said, seeming unphased. “We don’t have to leave ‘til tonight, so we have time.”

“Still, the others are very concerned.”

“Alright, fine.” Lena sighed, and was apparently still somewhat tired, as she was particularly slow about getting up off the couch. “Are you gonna be okay, goin’ out there?”

Satya tried to gauge her state of mind as Lena reattached her accelerator. Lena knew the truth, and that was one thing, but… the idea of having to explain her distress to the others was suddenly very unappealing. “I… think I will stay here, for now. Lúcio knows I am alright, but I told him I wished to be alone.”

“Okay, love,” Lena said as she coiled up the long cable and made for the door. “I’ll bring you breakfast, or…” She looked at the clock. “…or lunch, or… I’ll bring you something to eat, later.”

“Thank you,” Satya said, reclining back into the couch as Lena left the room.

She sat there for a long moment before, feeling a sudden urge, she lay down again, curling up and pulling the blanket around herself like a cocoon. She wasn’t tired, but she wished she could stay like that all day, somewhere she didn’t have to face the world, didn’t have to think. It was all too much, and the comfort of the soft fabric around her was the only thing she wished to feel.

There was another knock at the door.

“You can come in, but I am not getting up,” Satya said, annoyed at the disturbance, but trying not to let it show in her tone.

“Ah, I apologize if I have disturbed you,” said Zenyatta, “I will be brief.”

Satya heard the door open, but with her eyes closed and the blanket over her head, she could not tell whether or not he was moving. She was startled, then, as the monk spoke once more, his voice suddenly much closer.

“I know that distress must fill your mind, and action may be difficult. However… time is of the essence, I am afraid, if you wish to do something about it.”

Zenyatta’s voice was calm and soothing, and Satya found herself latching onto it, allowing it passage into her thoughts. She was relaxed even as she began to process what the monk was suggesting.

“You may remember a… rather rude habit of mine,” Zenyatta continued. “Your companion’s screens are… obnoxiously visible, and she had neglected to close the door. I am afraid I… could not resist.”

Satya pulled back the covers enough to look at him oddly. He was hovering just past the arm of the couch, his head downcast and tilted slightly in what seemed a mock-apologetic look.

“It seems she was contacted by a superior, and given new orders,” said the monk, raising his head again to look Satya in the eye. “Would you like to know where she will be, tonight?”

Satya sat up. It… hadn’t been Sombra’s decision to leave, she realized. Her mind should have been racing, but Zenyatta’s presence seemed to be putting her at ease, and she simply nodded.

“Thirty-seven kilometers north of this location,” Zenyatta seemed to recite. “A Volskaya facility, it seems. At ten o’clock tonight, she will attempt to retrieve a weapon.”

Satya tried to weigh her options, but could find none. She knew where Sombra would be, and that was the end of it. She would find her, and… whatever happened, would happen. It was a highly illogical thought process, Satya realized, but she found herself oddly unconcerned.

She heard footsteps from the hallway.

“Hey, I thought I left this… Oh!” Lena stopped in her tracks, holding a tray across her arms as she gave a surprised look to Zenyatta.

“It is alright,” Satya said quickly, “Zenyatta is aware, and… has information.”

Lena cautiously entered, placing the tray on Satya’s hardlight table and sitting down next to her. She contemplated Satya’s expression for a time, before saying, sounding resigned but not accusatory, “You’re going after her, aren’t you, love.”

Satya nodded hesitantly, doubt chipping away at her resolve as she prepared to explain her decision. “I… know that I am able,” she began, “I have done many missions like this, but… those were under orders. Now that I have a choice…” Satya felt a sudden flood of anxiety at the thought of being responsible for her actions.

Lena put a hand on Satya’s shoulder. “It’s okay, love. I get it, I really do.” She eyed the architech oddly. “Something wrong?”

“I know that I will, in the end,” Satya realized aloud, finding her thoughts oddly clear to her. “I have to do what I can for her, and I could never choose otherwise, but… I will have doubts until then. It is easy, for me to take action, if I have already decided. It is not so easy to think of it.”

“What do you need me to do?” Lena asked with a warm smile as she took Satya’s hand in hers.

“I… may not return here tonight. I will give you my suitcase to take with you, and…” something occurred to Satya, and she turned, with alarm, to Zenyatta. “This location?” she asked. “Was that said in their communications?”

“Yes, it was,” said Zenyatta, who paised for several moments. “Ah, I see how that may be a problem.”

“We’re… compromised,” Lena realized aloud. “I guess we’re all packing up tonight if we can’t come back here. I’m not sure where we’d go, then, since…” She shook her head as her gaze fell on Satya’s concerned expression. “I’ll worry about that. You just go, and call me if you need—oh, that’s right!”

In a whoosh, Lena blinked out of the room, a trail of blue energy fading through the open doorway. When she returned, she handed Satya a small, rounded device – a new comm link.

“Lúcio told me yours got wrecked,” she said as she closed Satya’s hand around the device. She looked rather forlornly at the plate of food on the table, and asked, “So, do you need to leave now, or do you think…”

Satya considered for a moment. “It may take some time to get there, but I do not know where she will be until late tonight. I… suppose I should eat while I have the chance.”

Lena smiled at that, and despite the weight that now rested on Satya’s shoulders, she managed a smile as well.




Satya stood nervously near the back door, her arms crossed tightly over her chest as she ran her right thumb over the two metallic clips to the upper left on the front of her combat uniform. She looked out, through the wide, glass window, at the snow-covered slope and the seemingly endless array of mountain peaks in the distance.

She uncrossed her arms, running her fingers gently over the silver-blue chain that ran around her neck and under the metallic, angular necklace that she always wore as part of her combat attire. She moved her finger from one of the lower points to where the thin chain disappeared under the neckline of her dress-like bodysuit.

Narrowing her eyes with resolve, Satya picked up her photon projector, and opened the door.

A chill washed over her as the cold air met her skin, but rather than risking a setback on her progress, she quickly created a setting on her projector to build a perpetual charge between the prongs and generate a heat aura. It pained Satya’s mind greatly to create light through such an inefficient process, but her warming body thanked her as she set out into the cold.

As she reached the farthest point northward before a sheer drop, Satya eyed the closest mountain peak and constructed a set of teleporters across the long gap. The six petals of the node in front of her unfurled like a flower as an oval-shaped portal appeared above the platform. A faint trail of blue, pixelated light ran from the portal to the distant peak, where Satya could pinpoint the other teleporter only with the assistance of her visor.

She stepped through the portal, finding herself alone on a rocky, snow-covered ridge, just below the summit of an entirely separate mountain from where she had been standing moments before. She glanced back and located the tiny speck of the cabin in the distance, dismissed the two teleporter platforms, and ran the distance uphill to where she could see over the ridge and out to the next peak beyond it.

She continued northward, using her teleporters to move quickly from one mountain to the next under the afternoon sun.




It was dark and cold when she crested the final peak and looked out over her objective. In a wide valley between several mountains rested a large, circular perimeter fence made of tall, square panels of thick metal. Four large gates were placed at equidistant points along the edge, in the cardinal directions. There were a few small structures outside the fence, including one near the base of the peak Satya looked down from, but they looked old and abandoned.

The only modern presence outside the fence was an armored hovercar that seemed to make regular patrols around the outside, a dark gunmetal, heavy-duty bumper running all around the angular off-white frame. Satya couldn’t see through the slit-like black windows on the front and sides, but one guard clad in a black uniform clearly manned what looked to be some sort of turret on a swivel near the rear of the vehicle.

What was inside the fence was much more breathtaking.

A large crater of exposed rock was dug into the earth, with several vehicles moving about inside it. Long, populous rows of what looked like streetlights adorned either edge of four wide bridges, which began from outcroppings of bare earth just inside the four gates, and met in the middle, forming a smaller, elevated circle of the same bridge material around the center of the pit, where… a series of buildings sat at ground level, on a plateau of undisturbed rock.

They weren’t digging a pit, Satya realized. They were digging a ring.

The main building was several stories tall, and shaped like a wide, flattened cylinder. Four connected, rectangular offshoots surrounded it in the same cardinal directions as the bridges beyond them. There was no snow on or around the buildings, or at all in the interior of the compound. Large stadium lights were spaced at regular intervals atop the perimeter fence, and the faint, non-illuminating orange glow told Satya they were, in fact, enormous heat lamps.

Scanning for guards, Satya noticed that some of what she had formerly placed as excavation vehicles were in fact small mechs, their blocky, off-white, vaguely humanoid shapes moving about the lower levels. Their upper torsos housed open canopies of simple, black bars – the pilots would be easy targets for energy drain, if need be – and while their left arms had humanlike hands, their right arms were fitted with large, mechanical claws that they were using to clear away rocky debris.

Satya counted at least two mechs, but supposed there may be more hidden from view by the bridges and the central hub. A hover-truck with an open, rectangular bed was hauling a load of stone up a rough, curved ramp of rock that seemed to have been left along the edge of the pit during excavation. Satya noticed four such ramps around the edge of the ring, each running clockwise from ground-level near one perimeter gate, down to the floor of the crater, just before the outcropping that would support the end of the next bridge.

Satya watched the truck pull up atop the westward outcropping, lingering on dusty ground with the metallic, brightly lit bridge to its left and the gate in the fence to its right. In the light from the truck itself, Satya briefly saw two guards, one on either side of the gate. She couldn’t be sure how many guards were placed along the interior of the fence, where, aside from the four outcroppings that seemed to serve as intersections for the bridges, ramps, and gates, there was only a narrow, shadowed width of ground between the fence and the drop-off.

The gate opened, and the truck turned right to pass through it, driving off into the mountains. The armored hovercar made another round past the gate as it closed. The two mechs moved about toward separate piles of loose stone, their claws clicking in anticipation.

And Sombra was somewhere down there, or soon would be.

Chapter Text

Lena stared out the side window of the Porpoise, to the rough, jagged terrain of snow and rock beyond. They were parked on a ridge, loaded up and ready to go after one more addition, with only one small problem. Lena had no right clue where they would be going to.

She’d planned for everyone to stay one more night at the cabin, or as long as it took for Winston to come through with the next pickup. But if Talon knew about that safehouse, it would be too much of a risk to return. Overwatch had set up plenty of safehouses near populated areas, but they were few and far between out in isolated place like Siberia. The closest one would require driving at night, and even Athena had expressed doubts about traversing mountains like these in near-total darkness. And it was getting dark out.

Besides, it didn’t sit right to up and leave just yet, not when Satya might need their help. Everything in Lena told her to stay nearby tonight, but she wasn’t sure how she was going to break it to the others that they’d need to sleep in the car. Especially when only herself and Zenyatta were in on Satya’s ‘secret mission’ and the fact Talon was involved at all.

But there was at least one problem that Lena felt she’d made progress on, however little it had actually been. It was such an awkward subject to bring up that even though she’d had plenty of time waiting, every time she’d pulled out her phone she would just stare at it for a few moments before putting it away again.

But if Satya could bloody run off through the cold in a dress to go talk to her scary girlfriend, the least Lena could do was work up the courage to give Emily the progress update she’d been asking for ever since Nepal. So, she pulled out her phone and started typing, hoping she’d be able to type it out once she was already in a conversation and didn’t really have a choice in the matter.




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

hey em can you talk?

[Em]: Yeah, I’ve got a minute

[Em]: What’s up?

Umm

[Em]: Lena

So that thing I promised I would do

[Em]: Yeah?

I told Satya

[Em]: Did it help?

I kinda think it did?

I mean not much

but it helped to talk about it

[Em]: That’s what I meant by help??

oh!

then yeah it helped

[Em]: That’s good

uhh, glad you think so?

[Em]: Sry yeah I know this is weird

[Em]: How’s Satya doing then?

I mean she kinda has a problem of her own right now

So we just talked it out all night

[Em]: Oh does she have an evil Talon girlfriend too?

emILY HOw the fuck could you know that?

[Em]: Lena, I was kidding

Oh

Yeah, I was too

[Em]: I feel like you’re lying

[Em]: which is weird

[Em]: because how the fuck would that be true?

[Em]: I mean Satya isn’t even…

[Em]: Wait.

Em seriously its nothing just forget about it please okay?

[Em]: Is Satya into girls?

[Em]: Please tell me if she is

[Em]: I need to know

[Em]: for reasons

I think stuff like that is really personal and its not my place to talk about it

[Em]: I think that answer just told me all I need to know

please you didnt hear it from me shes really private and I didnt want to say anything

[Em]: Okay yeah, sorry.

[Em]: Just… give her a hug for me, okay?

[Em]: A big one

[Em]: If she’ll let you, I mean

last night I fell asleep on top of her

does that count?

[Em]: Wow, she really is opening up to you

[Em]: Wait.

[Em]: That wasn’t a pun, I meant it in a nice way

okay yeah cause I was wondering

[Em]: I’m not like that all the time, I swear

and em,

I know how important it is to you

knowing, I mean

it just never seemed like a good time to ask if I could tell you

[Em]: Thanks, Lena

[Em]: But I know it’s not really my business

[Em]: especially with her, I guess

I know it helps, though

[Em]: Well yeah

[Em]: But I get that not everyone likes to say

hey hold on

I think Zarya’s here

[Em]: Okay let me know how it goes

[Em]: ttyl

Love ya >3

[Em]: <3

<3




Lena glanced back out the window at the distant figure that had just come into view over a snowy ridge. A tall, muscular Russian woman was closing the distance on foot – had she walked this whole way? – with a large duffel bag slung over her shoulders. She was carrying an absolutely massive, off-white colored weapon that vaguely resembled Winston’s tesla cannon. Aleksandra Zaryanova was one of the strongest women in the world, Lena had learned, a weightlifting champion who’d given up fame and fortune to fight on the front lines for her country.

Lena’s eyes were drawn to the woman’s bright pink hair, cut shorter even than her own and angled up to the side in a similar style, but reversed. She had a sleeveless, blue-over-black paneled suit of armor covering her chest and legs, the panels sparsely detailed with red and silver. She had on heavy-duty, fingerless gloves that left her built upper arms exposed to the elements. Lena shivered just looking at her bare shoulders, but Zarya herself didn’t seem to mind at all.

As Zarya drew closer, Lena saw that there was also some sort of scar on the right side of her forehead, like an angled cross, where the lower point passed through her eyebrow and just grazed the outer corner of her eye. She had prominent tattoos poking out from under her gloves, thick lines of black ink running around her outer elbows. A similar series of lines coated her left shoulder, outlining a stylized number ‘512.’

Lena stepped out of the car, closing the shining, blue door behind her before crossing her arms, shivering as she clutched her own gloved hands over the rings of exposed skin between her forearm gauntlets and the short sleeves of her jacket. The thin, yellow-orange track pants over her legs weren’t much help against the cold, either.

“Cheers, love!” Lena managed, shivering, as Zarya stopped a few feet away. She looked up at the woman towering over her, and offered her hand in greeting. “Lena. Lena Oxton.”

Zarya had a stern, emotionless face as she briefly hefted her massive weapon. Against the fading daylight shone a glowing, blue orb between the two upper handholds on the turret-like device.

“Oh, right,” Lena realized, drawing back her hand. “Probably wanna open up the back for that.”

In a whoosh, Lena disappeared behind the vehicle, the back door swinging upwards for easy access to the rear bay. Four suitcases already sat off to one side, and when Zarya wordlessly deposited her bag and the huge cannon, they filled nearly all of the remaining space. Lena noticed an odd glare of resentment from Zarya as she took note of the three other passengers.

“Oh, I guess should probably introduce you,” Lena said, masking her suspicion with her usually cheerful demeanor. “This is Lúcio, Genji, and Zenyatta.” She pointed to each of them in turn, and all three gave small waves in greeting. Genji’s and Zenyatta’s faces were unreadable like usual, but there was something concerning about Lúcio’s troubled expression.

“Zarya,” the weightlifter answered simply, her glare not breaking in the slightest.

Lena closed up the back and led Zarya around to the side door. Zarya just barely fit through the opening, and sat down just behind the passenger seat on the left, nearly taking up the next seat down as well. Lena quickly entered through the front door and took her usual position again, thankful to be out of the cold.

“So… what made you want to join Overwatch?” Lena asked, with a polite smile, as she turned around to face Zarya through the gap in the front seats.

Zarya sighed. “Too many secrets,” she said simply. It was a long moment before she continued, noticeably correcting herself as she began, “Kat—Chairman Volskaya called me from the front, to investigate a… personal matter. For weeks, I searched for someone who had threatened her. Weeks I could have been defending my homeland from the omnics. Instead, all I was left with, at the end of my search, was the knowledge that she has been trading with our enemy for the weapons the people of Russia are so grateful for.” She shook her head in frustration.

“Now, she sends me here,” Zarya continued, “far away from the fighting, because she favors my knowledge of particle weaponry over my ability to defend our people in battle.” She lowered her head. “I do not… hold Chairman Volskaya in contempt for what she has done. She is in a difficult position, and she believes that what she does is best for our country. But I feel my talents are wasted under her direction.”

She looked up at Lena again. “I know it will take time,” she added pointedly, “for Overwatch to be in a position to combat the omnium. But I cannot work with Katya—” She winced. “…for Chairman Volskaya any longer. With Overwatch, at least, I believe my service will achieve results, in the end.”

Zarya paused, looking back at the other passengers before turning to Lena again. “I realize my disdain must be obvious, but it will not be a problem to work with omnics. I have done so before, and I am sure I would find a way to do so again, with these two here.”

Lena looked at the woman with confusion for a few moments. “Oh,” she realized aloud. “Genji’s not an omnic.”

Zarya glanced back at the cyborg, an odd, skeptical expression forming on her face. “What is it, then?”

Lena felt a sudden pang of hurt, and she watched as Lúcio’s concerned expression became openly hostile.

“I’m sorry, what?” the DJ said with narrowed eyes as he glared across the gap at Zarya.

“Umm, he’s a person,” Lena began, trying the best she could manage to defuse the situation, “just, lots of prosthetics, that’s all. But I get why you’d be confused.”

Zarya looked at Lena oddly. “I can see, clearly, what he is. Perhaps it is you that cannot.”

“Care to uh… explain that?” Lúcio said, his clasped hands contorting as they applied more and more pressure to each other.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no, Lena thought, not again.

Genji was still and silent beside Lúcio, and Zenyatta appeared deep in thought further toward the back. Zarya and Lúcio stared each other down, each waiting for the other to make the next move.

“Just hold on, loves,” Lena started frantically. “We don’t need to fight right now, just… we’ll work it out, we always do. We did with Torbjörn… kinda.”

“Torbjörn Lindholm?” Zarya asked suddenly, turning to Lena with a scowl. “He is with Overwatch?”

“Umm… yes?” Lena mumbled in confusion at Zarya’s reaction.

“The same man who designed the omnics that now wreak havoc on my country?” Zarya said with narrowed eyes.

“Are you serious?” Lena asked with a resigned sigh. She was starting to wonder if Zarya just had a problem with everybody.

“Don’t think I’m letting you off the hook,” Lúcio interrupted.

As Zarya turned back to answer the DJ’s challenge, Lena fell exhaustedly back into her seat, pulling out her phone and typing off a few quick messages.




em, it happened again

zarya hates everyone

shes got lucio really mad

what do I do?

[Em]: What’s it about?

omnics I think

and everything to do with them, seems like

shes hung up on genji for some reason

and really mean about it

[Em]: Well, I don’t think I can offer much advice

[Em]: Cause I’d just throw her out

yeah I can’t really do that here

because I’m representing overwatch

but also because if anyones doing any throwing

it’d probably be her throwing us out of the car

throwing the car too maybe

[Em]: Hmm…

[Em]: I mean,

[Em]: she’s basically living through another Omnic Crisis

[Em]: No excuse for taking it out on you

[Em]: but I can see why, at least

hold on, love, I think I got it!




Lena turned back around to where the argument seemed to have reached a momentary pause. Zarya was glaring at Lúcio, who had turned to Genji with a confused expression.

“Why don’t you just…” Lúcio asked, placing a finger to the side of his head. Genji was noticeably silent and unmoving in a way that made Lena’s heart ache.

“We’re here to help you, to help everybody,” Lena said, taking hold of the silence. “I know you must have a lot of trust issues with everything happening, love, but you don’t have to take it out on us.”

“I suppose the rest of the world is not concerned with what plagues humanity,” Zarya replied. “That is a weakness I do not intend to be subjected to.”

“Do you just…” Lena began bleakly in frustration, “…is it just the whole rest of the world that you don’t like? Are you gonna have a problem with me dating my girlfriend, too, then? Should we get that out of the way now?”

Zarya raised an eyebrow. “Is she an omnic?” she asked with relatively plain curiosity.

“Well, no…” Lena answered, a bit taken aback that that seemed to be her only question.

“Then, we do not have a problem,” Zarya said simply.

“…I guess that’s a start,” Lena droned with a sigh.

At that moment, a sudden electronic beep rang out from Zarya’s glove, and she brought her arm up to hold it across her chest, watching as a small, blue screen appeared in the air above an emitter on her wrist. She stared at the screen for a time, her eyes widening and her face gradually contorting into a scowl. “You must take me back at once, there is a matter I must attend to.”

Everyone looked at her oddly. “But… I though you were leaving there,” Lena asked, bewildered.

“There has been a break-in at the compound,” Zarya said simply. Her eyes narrowed, her scowl fierce and her voice scathing, as she offered only a simple, cryptic explanation.

“It is her.”

Chapter Text

Satya watched the hovercar make several more loops around the perimeter, carefully timing its schedule. When it had passed through the sparse structures near the south gate and was well on its way toward the east gate, Satya constructed a pair of teleporters that took her down to ground level, near one of the abandoned buildings. She dismissed the teleporters behind her, deciding she should use them sparsely from then on, as the energy trail between them was inconveniently visible under the faint moonlight.

The structures seemed as if they had once formed a small settlement, and Satya quickly darted inside the nearest one. She moved into one of the back rooms and crouched low to the ground, beneath a high window. She constructed a translucent blue dome of hardlight around her, using her projector to heat the space inside. She relaxed as the chill of the cold night air subsided.

Sombra would likely be cloaked, so there was little point in actively trying to locate her. The trick, then, would be to make herself visible to her – but not visible to the Volskaya personnel – and hope the hacker would be receptive enough to at least initiate contact. Satya wasn’t entirely confident her presence would illicit such a reaction, but she would have to try.

Waiting in the quiet, darkened room, Satya considered her options. Sombra may already be inside the compound, she realized, even though her mission wasn’t supposed to begin for another half hour. A hardlight bridge over the metal wall would be entirely too visible to the patrolling guards, so there was little Satya could think of that would get her past the perimeter, besides waiting for another truck. She couldn’t even be sure which gate would open next, and she wondered if, perhaps, it would have been more prudent to maintain her vantage from above.

Satya heard a light, repeated tapping sound on the outside of her dome shield. She turned as quickly as she could in her awkward crouch without tripping over the long trails of her bodysuit, but she saw nothing.

She raised her projector, scanning the room. There was a haunted atmosphere in the shadowed darkness, and all Satya could see besides the doorway she’d entered through was an old wooden chair, ominously lit by the light beaming through the window above her. A single floorboard creaked somewhere off to her right.

A chill ran down Satya’s spine as she heard another rapid round of tapping from behind her. She swiftly turned around again, her eyes wide.

There was a brief, stifled laugh.

“What are you even doing here, amiga? ” Sombra asked as she decloaked, a strange combination of annoyance and amusement on her face. “You know how stupid this looks, right?” She brought up a closed fist and tapped her knuckles rapidly against the translucent dome.

Satya lowered her projector, too overwhelmed with relief to be annoyed at the charade. With a wave of her hand, she opened a section of her dome.

Sombra rolled her eyes, crouching and stepping through the gap quickly enough for Satya to close it again without allowing the heat to escape. “I don’t even know what to say to this,” she said bitterly, with narrowed eyes, “You shouldn’t be here. I really thought you were smarter than that.”

Satya sighed. “I am well aware,” she hissed as her face grew stern as well. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest, pointedly stopping herself from throwing them around Sombra’s shoulders like she so desperately wanted to. “I know it is illogical, irrational, to have come here without a plan, but… you left without consulting me. You took away my choice, and that I will not accept.”

Sombra forced her face into a narrow scowl, but there was already guilt showing in her eyes.

“It is because of you that I have a choice,” Satya continued. “I have my freedom. You gave that to me. But you still do not have yours, and so long as you do not… then I have no choice at all, because Sombra… my choice is you.”

Sombra’s eyes widened for only a moment, a pained expression shooting across her face as a familiar façade of snide amusement struggled, unsuccessfully, to compose itself.

Satya simply closed her eyes. “Go ahead,” she challenged, “show me your false jest at my supposed foolishness. Tell me again that you have deceived me into feeling these things, while you do not. I don’t care. Whatever you feel, or do not feel, my choice is to do what I can to free you from this burden. To give you a choice. If this mission is the next step toward furthering that goal, then I will assist you. It is as simple as that.”

Sombra snickered a strained laugh. “You’re going to help steal a weapon for Talon? I thought you wanted to join Overwatch. To be some kind of hero.”

“I am some kind of hero,” Satya said simply, opening her eyes. “That, I can now see clearly. You are the one who seems convinced you are not worth saving.”

Sombra froze for a moment, then sighed. “You still don’t fucking understand,” she said bitterly.

“Then who does? ” Satya asked pointedly in a loud, scathing whisper as she heard the humming hovercar make another round outside. “You think this is just your problem, but if it is so far-reaching as you say, if its consequences are so great… then it is everyone’s problem, is it not? Your life is not the only one at stake. It never was, no matter how much you wish that forcing yourself to be alone will make the problem go away. You are not helping anyone by keeping this a secret, by making it your own personal war.”

“What if I don’t want to help anyone?” Sombra hissed. “What if I just want their power for myself? What then? What if I’m not a good person, what if I really don’t care?”

Satya scoffed. “Then why would it matter to you, if I put myself in more danger?”

Sombra sighed, a broken, frustrated, and exhausted look on her face as she pushed air through her teeth in an open grimace. She was quiet for a long time, her eyes darting back and forth as if looking at thoughts instead of sights, while her deep, uneven breathing continued.

“What the fuck am I supposed to do, then?” Sombra said, finally, in a near whisper.

“Just… stop,” Satya said, her voice breaking. She held her eyes shut again for a moment, this time to hold back tears. “Stop doing this to yourself.” She finally uncrossed her arms, quickly leaning across the space between them to take a tight, desperate hold around Sombra’s shoulders. She felt the woman tense in surprise, and squeezed even more tightly as she struggled to piece together the unfamiliar words. “Sombra, I…”

“You don’t have to say it,” Sombra said quickly as she leaned longingly into the embrace, with quiet surrender. She brought her own arms up around Satya’s back, pausing in surprise as her fingers found an exposed length of the thin blue chain. “You don’t have to…”

“I… love you,” Satya forced out. She felt her lips twist and strain painfully around the words, like a joint being bent in a way it was not supposed to. She breathed deeply, letting her tears fall into the woman’s shoulder as she softly added, “Please let me.”

Sombra took a long, deep breath that turned into a bleak laugh. “I guess this is where we are, then, amiga.” She then let out a shorter, somber huff, and when she spoke again, she’d abandoned the last shred of masking humor. “Okay,” she answered with bleak acquiescence, “okay.”

After a long moment, Satya pulled away, running her hands down Sombra’s arms. “I am with you,” she began as she took Sombra’s hands in hers, “whatever you need. If Talon gets the weapon, perhaps they will be powerful enough to protect you. If we bring this enemy out into the open, they will have more than you to deal with, and…”

It became apparent that Sombra was no longer listening. Instead, she was staring, with a surprised expression, at her own left hand clasped around Satya’s right.

Satya rolled her eyes, doing her best to conceal an impending blush. “Do not get distracted.”

“You’re making that really difficult, amiga,” Sombra said with an amused chuckle as she turned over their clasped hands and stroked Satya’s fingertips.

“May we discuss this at another time?” Satya asked as she swiftly pulled her hands out of Sombra’s grip. “We have work to do.”

Apparently,” Sombra noted with a smirk.

Satya sighed. “First, we need to find a way past the perimeter,” she began, forcefully, in an earnest attempt to change the subject.

“You know, I think I’m just going to let that one go…” Sombra said with disappointment. “The next truck should be here pretty soon, I saw it driving up the road to this entrance.”

“How were you planning to deal with the guards?”

Sombra guiltily drew back part of her coat just enough to display her holstered machine pistol. “Not the way you do things, huh?”

Satya hefted her photon projector. “I will take care of them, then.”

Sombra had a skeptical, concerned expression. “You… realize what you’re offering to do, right?”

Supposing there was some meaning she was missing, Satya considered those words for a time before she made the connection. “Promise you will not blow up the compound afterward?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Please, I only do that to my own buildings.”

Satya was about to ask about that when she heard the coarse hum of an approaching transport. She dismissed the hardlight dome, instantly feeling the chill of cold air, and silently crept out to the doorway, Sombra close behind her. The dump truck seemed to be entirely automated, and stopped just outside the south gate. Knowing the armored patrol vehicle was likely somewhere between the north and west gates, Satya darted out behind the waiting truck, constructing a temporary ramp of blue light and performing a running jump over the rear wall of the large, rectangular bucket.

As her feet connected with the scuffed, orange-yellow floor, one of Sombra’s teleportation devices landed beside her, the hacker herself appearing in a wave of purple light as Satya looked on in fascination.

“Translocator beacon,” Sombra said simply as she picked up the device and stowed it away. She seemed to freeze nervously for a moment before adding, “Don’t tell Lena. I may have… borrowed the designs for her accelerator to make these.”

Satya wasn’t sure what to think about that. Technically, her own technology was stolen from Vishkar, as was Lúcio’s. And Omnics, who had made gains to be considered individuals, had once been the property of the Omnica corporation. It was a difficult matter for Satya to grasp, but she had been sensing for some time that she would soon need to reconsider many of the rules and distinctions she had taken comfort in.

Very soon, in fact, if she hoped to be able to justify what she was about to take part in.

She braced herself as the truck started to move, preparing the wireframe structure of a staircase in her left palm. As she passed into the compound, she felt the cold subside. She glanced up at the dim orange glow of the heat lamps far above and wondered what, exactly, Volskaya had planned to do here that would justify such a costly use of resources.

As the truck stopped moving, Satya constructed the staircase out of her temporary, translucent blue hardlight, against the left wall of the bucket. She gestured to Sombra, who started up the stairs in a run, cloaking herself as she did so. Satya charged an energy drain blast between the prongs of her projector and crept slowly up until she could see over the rim, spotting the guard on the left side near a thicket of dry, wooden shrubs.

Satya fired the charged pulse, the guard falling softly on the bare dirt. After a moment, Sombra appeared from the bushes, decloaking as she pulled the unconscious body back behind the bare foliage. In the darkness, they both disappeared completely even without Sombra’s invisibility. Satya leapt from the staircase as it faded out, crouching behind cover as the gate started to close. She watched the tiny scuffs in the dust as Sombra ran around behind the truck. She charged another pulse as the truck began to pull away, and just when it had moved enough for her to catch sight of the guard on the other side, she fired. The guard fell, and was again hidden from view by Sombra.

Satya turned and scanned the narrow dirt path along the curved perimeter to the west gate. It was cast in near-complete shadow, and populated with more shrub clusters, the plants’ leafless wooden branches forming a concealing lattice. At about the midpoint of the arc, Satya could just make out another Volskaya guard, the low light glinting off a set of metallic shoulder pads. She adjusted her visor’s light levels until she could clearly see the man’s outline, and started to move along the perimeter. When she was close enough, she charged another blast and quickly dispatched the guard so that he fell silently behind cover.

Sombra decloaked beside her, and the two of them looked out over the compound. There didn’t seem to be any activity at or around the central complex, but one of the mechs in the pit below was piling large chunks of rock into the hover-truck, while the other carried a single boulder toward a pile on the ground below the east gate, at the bottom of the northeast ramp.

“Volskaya's new toys,” Sombra said simply. “Those are only the construction types, but if they have any of the combat ones here…” She gestured over to the nearest bridge. “Their particle weapons are like the one on the patrol car outside, but powerful enough that they could probably cut right through that bridge like it was nothing, even at lowest charge.”

“They have open canopies,” Satya said. “I should be able to drain the pilots.”

“Energy shields,” Sombra provided. “Generator on the left arm.”

Satya could just make out a narrow gap in the mech’s off-white forearm plating, leading back to an open octagon of darker metal beneath. “Then we will have to take them by surprise.”

“Couldn’t you just teleport us over there?” Sombra asked, pointing to the main complex of buildings on the central plateau.

“They would see the trail it leaves through the air,” Satya corrected, looking for other options. “And we would be much too visible on the bridges,” she noted as she considered the many overhead lamps on each side of the four large structures.

“Last time, I just made a run for it,” Sombra reminisced. “Wasn’t like this place, though. This time I don’t even know what my objective looks like.”

“Quietly, then,” Satya decided. “Take out the perimeter guards, then deal with the mechs.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sombra said with a smirk. “I’ll go ahead to make sure they all take their naps out of sight of the others.”

“Just stay clear of the guards until the burst dissipates,” Satya warned, “I may have learned that the hard way.”

There turned out to be twelve guards in total around the perimeter: two at each of the four gates, and one stationed somewhere on each darkened path between them. The solitary guards ran the risk of falling heavily into the dry thicket, and at one point, Sombra had to rush in to catch a guard as he fell. The pairs at the gates were trickier, though the two infiltrators quickly figured out how to lure one away at a time by breaking small branches.

As they made their way past the west and north gates, Satya took note of a metallic structure running down the northeast corner of the central plateau – some sort of freight elevator, she assumed. There didn’t seem to be any activity in the pit other than the two mechs Satya had seen initially and the now half-filled dump truck.

After the guard patrolling the southeast perimeter path finally fell, Satya and Sombra backtracked to the east gate, moving carefully down the southeast ramp into the pit below. Satya kept them both close along the outer wall, using the angle to keep out of the mechs’ lines of sight. There was a small, vaguely rectangular loading zone at the base of the ramp, bordered by the outer wall and the sheer cliff face of the southern outcropping, and cordoned off from the rest of the pit by a partially constructed pile of boulders.

“There,” Sombra said as the two of them took cover against the boulders. She pointed out to the left, where the south bridge passed overhead, casting a long shadow from the outcropping to the central plateau. That shadow merged with the one cast by the bridge-ring around the central complex, and then with those cast by the other three bridges.

“Too wide an angle,” Satya said, considering the shadows of the west and east bridges and deciding she would be able to see anything trying to cross them. The mechs were a similar distance from the first shadow they would have to traverse. The key would be timing, not cover.

One mech was still distracted at the western loading zone, but the bits of rock visible past the rim of the truck’s bucket told Satya it was almost finished with its work. The other mech was doing a wide sweep of the eastern side of the pit, still collecting boulders for its own pile. Satya waited until it turned its back, carrying a large boulder the long way to the eastern loading zone, and darted out under the bridge. Sombra close behind her, she crept past the shadow and instead hugged the curved wall of the southwest ramp.

“Keep watching the other one,” Satya said as the two of them stopped a short distance away from the western loading zone. There were still a few large boulders on the ground as the truck started up the ramp, the loud humming passing overhead. Satya charged a draining blast, waiting patiently for the mech to turn toward her.

“Uhh… I think it sees us,” she heard Sombra say nervously.

Satya glanced to the right just as she heard distant shouting in Russian, and saw that the other mech was making its way toward them, its left arm raised defensively. A translucent blue barrier of interlocking octagons and squares spread from the emitter Sombra had pointed out, forming a rectangle wide enough to protect the entire mech. It drew back its right arm, the large claw still clutching the boulder it had been carrying, and…

Satya’s eyes went wide, and she allowed her charged blast to dissipate as the mech hurled the boulder overhead. She ducked to the side, throwing an arm around Sombra to carry them both as far away as possible as she brought up her dome shield around them. The boulder shattered against the part of the ramp they had been standing against moments before.

The nearer mech turned in surprise, the pilot starting to shout something before taking notice of the two intruders. The mech brought up its shield as well and started toward them.

Another, smaller boulder struck Satya’s shield directly, and she barely managed to keep it intact long enough for the debris to fall around it. As the barrier dissipated, Sombra disappeared with it.

Satya frantically backed away, noting quickly that the farther mech was passing through the shadow of the south bridge and wasn’t carrying any more boulders. She attached an energy drain beam to the nearer mech’s shields, but like her fight against the armored architech, the beam ate away at the component polygons only for them to reappear momentarily. The mech kept up its steady approach faster than Satya could back away.

She detached the draining beam, bringing up her dome shield again as the mech stood over her. The pilot sneered at her through both energy barriers as the mech raised its claw high in the air.

Sombra reappeared near the mech’s left leg, casually laying a hand on one of the metal panels.

The mech’s movements ceased suddenly as magenta circuit lines spread over its entire surface. Its shield flickered out, the blue glow fading from the emitter. The pilot struggled against the controls as the interior canopy lights faded from orange to purple, along with the searchlight on the left canopy bar, the large lights on either side of the canopy, and the two small lights on the mech’s knees. The canopy opened, and the mech’s left arm reached inside, throwing the pilot out and onto the ground at Satya’s feet.

As Satya dispatched the pilot with several draining pulses, Sombra’s mech closed its empty canopy and tore a massive chunk of rock out of the weakened ramp with its claw. Satya backed away as the mech launched the projectile, looking on in awe as the boulder crossed the battlefield and shattered hard against the enemy mech’s shield. Sombra’s mech brought up its own, now-purple shield and began the march toward its opponent.

“Okay, so I am kind of glad I had someone here to see me do that,” Sombra said with amusement as she casually walked over to stand near Satya.

As the two mechs met near the vague center of the southwest quadrant, Sombra’s slammed its shield against the other mech’s barrier, causing it to stumble backward. The hacked mech followed up with several rapid slams of its claw until the blue shield was clearly failing.

A twinkling pulse of blue energy arced across the sky, a cloudy magenta trail marking its path as it slammed into the right shoulder of Sombra’s mech. The projectile detonated in a translucent sphere of blue-purple energy and blew apart the joint’s outer armor.

Quickly glancing upward, Satya noticed that the south gate was open, but the truck had backed out onto the bridge as the armored patrol car sped down the ramp. Magenta energy built around the two railgun-like prongs of the particle cannon turret as it fired a bright beam of blue energy.

Sombra’s mech backed away northward and angled its shield to counter both of its opponents. Satya and Sombra ducked back against the rock wall as they watched the blue beam pass overhead, still connecting with the mech’s shield even as the vehicle arced around the curved slope. Satya readied her projector and attached a beam to the armored car just as it exited the ramp, watching it falter slightly as she drained the energy that kept it aloft.

The guard took notice and spun the turret around, and Satya broke off the draining beam to bring up a shield around Sombra and herself. The particle beam flared chaotically against the hardlight, but the barrier held.

Sombra’s mech deactivated its shield, drawing back its claw arm and lunging it into the other mech’s shield. The forceful punch finally broke the barrier, and the hacked mech quickly closed its claw around its opponent’s left wrist, wrenching backward with enough force to tear the limb clean off. The other mech lunged with its own claw, but Sombra’s swung the disembodied left arm into the attacking right, deflecting the strike.

The hovercar turned its attention back to the mechs, and the turret operator fired several more particle blasts, their magenta trails arcing through the air. Sombra’s mech brought up its shield, deflecting damage toward the Volskaya mech as the projectiles detonated against the barrier.

Satya watched the hovercar’s movements closely, and saw it slow and slightly swerve as it prepared to make a sharp turn. She charged an energy drain blast, dismissed her shield, and fired. The vehicle paused near the southern loading zone and turned, midair, to make another pass at the mechs. In the split-second before it accelerated again, Satya’s blast collided with the turret operator, the man falling lazily off the back of the vehicle as it pulled out from under him.

The hovercar sped across the battlefield, its sweep of the mechs futile without its gunner. Satya darted out to get an angle on the now shieldless Volskaya mech, firing another charged draining pulse. The mech slumped lazily as the pilot fell unconscious, and Sombra’s mech turned its attention back to the hovercar.

“Can you get us up there?” Sombra asked as she ran up to Satya again, pointing vaguely up toward the bridges.

“If I can find a better angle,” Satya said as she looked for her opening. The south gate was closed, the truck apparently having left, so Satya turned and led Sombra partially up the southwest ramp. She constructed a pair of teleporters between the ramp and about the midpoint of the south bridge, and stepped through it.

She stepped out onto the wide, metal structure, wincing at the bright streetlamps all along both sides. She adjusted her visor back to the previous setting just as Sombra stepped through behind her. Satya dismissed the teleporters and walked to the edge of the bridge, looking out over the low guard-rail to below, where the patrol vehicle was uselessly circling Sombra’s mech.

“I know it’s entertaining and all,” Sombra said as she walked up behind Satya, “but we should get a move on before that car decides it has a better shot at coming up here for us.”

“Not to mention whatever is still waiting in there,” Satya said, glancing toward the wide, cylindrical building and its four rectangular offshoots.

The two of them took off in a run, closing the remaining distance toward the complex, but they did not make it far. A large, metal door opened upwards across the front of the south-facing rectangular structure, another mech taking a few steps outward. It didn’t have a construction claw like the others; instead, its right forearm was replaced by a pair of large, hollow, rectangular rails.

“You just had to say something,” Sombra snarked with alarm as they both froze in place.

“So did you, apparently,” Satya said as she heard an escalating hum from behind and turned to see the hovercar proceeding quickly back up the slope.

The mech brought up its right arm, the upper and lower shell-like rails separating. A blue glow built along their interiors as a rounded, egg-shaped metallic object unfurled between them like the bud of a flower.

The hovercar pulled out along the bridge, accelerating to full speed.

Run, and drop when I tell you,” Satya said quickly. She took off in a sprint toward the mech, Sombra following close behind her.

Satya watched the glow build in the Mech’s powerful particle cannon, remembering what Sombra had said about its capabilities. She listened as the hum of the pursuing hovercar grew louder.

Now,” Satya commanded, and dropped into a slide, letting her prosthetic hand trail behind her as hardlight built around the emitter in her palm.

The Mech opened fire, the bright blue beam shooting out towards them.

Satya brought her arm quickly forward over her head, creating a wide, ribbon-like trail of hardlight in the shape of a rolling wave. The transparent blue surface sloped up from behind and crested downward in front of where Satya and Sombra lay on the ground.

The mech’s beam hit the curved front of the shield at an angle, deflecting upward like a beacon into the dark, moonlit sky.

The hovercar hit the ramp, swerving sharply as it passed overhead. The mech’s reflected beam sliced the vehicle neatly in two, the separated front and rear sections flying off the ramp and soaring through the air.

The rear section of the craft, complete with turret, tumbled roughly over the right side of the bridge. The front section impacted one of the streetlights on the left side, deflecting back over the bridge and colliding forcefully against the combat mech.

The particle beam was sent upward into a wide arc, slicing through several streetlamps before shutting off as the mech toppled over. Satya saw the hovercar’s front section skid further backward into the large hangar the mech had been waiting in, its rear edge still glowing a molten pink-orange.

“Did… did you just… what? ” Sombra stuttered in apparent disbelief as she sat up slowly.

“It is simple geometry,” Satya deadpanned as she dismissed the curve of hardlight and stood up. She charged a draining pulse, waited, and fired directly into the mech’s canopy as it struggled to stand. She charged another pulse and turned her attention toward the front section of the hovercar, firing just as the left-side door swung upward. The pulse detonated inside the craft, draining the two Volskaya guards within.

“Okay, but…” Sombra still seemed stunned as she rose to her feet, dramatically brushing off her coat. “Is this what all your missions were like?”

“Why do you think Vishkar wants so badly for me to return?”

“You know,” Sombra began with a confused smirk as they started toward the open hangar door, “I was having my doubts about how all this logic and order stuff did it for you, but let me tell you… It’s doing it for me right now. It really is.”

There was only a short walk left to the end of the bridge and the beginning of the wide ring around the central complex. Satya couldn’t be sure of the functions of the other three offshoot buildings, but she could see a small door on the back wall of the south hangar bay, presumably leading to the cylindrical structure beyond.

Wait! ” Sombra shouted as they had nearly passed the last pair of streetlamps, and Satya felt the hacker’s arms pull her backward just as a bright beam of blue light passed directly in front of her.

The beam left a molten, pink-orange slice across the metal floor in front of them, and as they turned to run, another beam sliced up through the floor behind them. The section of bridge dropped out from underneath, and Satya threw her right arm tightly around Sombra as they fell.

She held out her emitter, constructing a hardlight ramp from just below them and down toward the east side of the pit below. She held Sombra close as they both slid down the smooth, translucent blue surface.

They rolled to a stop at the bottom, the ramp dissipating as Satya landed flat on her back. She looked back to see three mechs – all with particle cannons – just passing under the incomplete shadow of the south bridge. As they raised their arms to fire, Satya held out her emitter and brought up her photon barrier. The translucent blue wall of large, interlocking hexagons ran north-south, completely walling off the east edge of the pit and extending far enough upward to block access halfway across the east bridge. Three particle beams hit the barrier, moving about in futile attempts to cut through it.

Sombra rolled to the side, struggling to stand as she kept her eyes fixed on the impact points of the three beams. Satya stood weakly as well, looking about for any kind of cover. Her eyes fell on the rear section of the hovercar, upturned a short distance behind them. The turret rested near it on the ground, apparently having snapped off when it had hit the crater floor.

“The shield will not hold forever,” Satya shouted as she broke out into a run. The two of them darted for the vehicle wreckage and knelt behind the mass of off-white metal, peering over and around the gunmetal grey bumper.

“They’ll still cut through this thing just like the other one did,” Sombra said with concern.

“What about that?” Satya asked, pointing to the detached particle cannon to the left of the wreckage.

That? Against three of those? I don’t like our chances. Unless…” Sombra considered the cannon for a moment. “Give me your hand,” she said hesitantly.

Satya set her photon projector on the ground, took one last glance toward the approaching mechs, and reached out to clasp her fingers around Sombra’s. She squeezed tightly, savoring the texture of the woman’s layered gloves.

Sombra jumped in surprise, and turned back around with the strangest, confused smile on her face. “your… other hand, amiga,” she said with amusement.

Satya tensed suddenly in embarrassment, quickly withdrawing her hand. She slowly and guiltily held out her left arm.

Sombra took hold of the limb, turning it over so the hardlight emitter faced upward. Magenta circuit lines spread across the smooth, white surface, and the emitter flickered from blue to a pale purple. “I still have the files from the place where they make those mechs,” she said as she brought up a series of designs in purple wireframe above Satya’s emitter.

Satya watched in fascination as the hacker’s eyes darted back and forth between images of the particle cannon from the vehicle and the larger one from the mechs. There was something oddly intimate about letting Sombra mess about in her systems, and Satya was fortunate the hacker was too busy disassembling the two designs to notice the luminescent blush forming on her face.

“I… think this might actually work,” Sombra declared in apparent surprise as she flicked away piece after piece until she was left with something that resembled the bud-like structure Satya had seen inside the mechs’ weapons. She considered it skeptically for a time, then brought up the design for one of Satya’s hardlight turrets. She settled a nail on the base of the turret, then quickly flicked her finger toward the other structure. The three curved panels duplicated, and another base settled below the hacker’s creation. “Think you could make this?”

Satya looked over the design, making a few adjustments of her own. “yes, but it needs…”

“All over it,” Sombra declared excitedly, moving toward the detached turret and laying a hand on it. Magenta lines spread over the surface of the weapon, and pieces began to detach and fall away. Sombra held up a skeleton of several metal curves that contained a glowing blue orb of energy.

Sombra constructed the base of the turret out to the right of the wreckage, then built the lower section of the weapon itself. She waited for Sombra to place the core inside, then completed the device. It was the same bud-like structure that rested inside the mechs’ cannons, but made from Satya’s hardlight. In place of the outer shells, a series of staple-shaped stabilizers floated out front, glowing blue as the turret readied to fire.

“Still three against one…” Sombra said as she admired their creation, her excitement waning.

The three mechs had paused their beam assault, and were slightly spread out as they searched in vain for a path around the barrier. If Satya lowered it now, they would still be firing again in an instant. But Satya caught sight of something else, a faint purple glow hidden in the shadow of the ring around the main complex. “Isn’t that your mech?” she said as her eyes widened.

Sombra’s devious smirk returned. “I think this might just work out after all,” she said as she brought up a series of holographic purple hexagons in front of one hand and tapped away at them. “Adiós, cangrejito.” There was near-genuine sadness in her voice.

Sombra’s mech lunged from the shadows at the northernmost combat mech, gripping its construction claw around the mech’s particle cannon and wrenching it free in a tear of metal. It dropped the weapon and slammed its claw against the machine’s shoulder, causing it to stumble backward.

Seconds later, two particle beams tore through the hacked mech, slicing it into several large, glowing pieces.

Que triste,” Sombra said with a smirk. “Now!

Satya dismissed her photon barrier just as Sombra held her hands out toward the hardlight turret, strands of magenta energy launching from her nails and connecting to the bud-shaped device as circuit lines spread over it. She turned it about like a puppet on strings and swept the cutting beam across the backs of the two distracted mechs, their severed left forearms and particle cannons falling to the ground as their torsos tumbled free of their legs.

The northernmost mech managed to bring up its shield in time, blocking the beam but unable to fire back without its own weapon.

Satya took aim at the downed mechs, firing charged draining blasts at the pilots as they climbed free of the wreckage.

“This core isn’t powerful enough to keep this up for long!” Sombra shouted as she continued her attack on the remaining mech.

Satya darted around behind her and out in a wide arc across the battlefield, charging another draining blast. The mech’s pilot took notice, but couldn’t move its shield to block without letting Sombra’s beam through. Satya stopped far off to the side, firing the blast over the mech’s extended arm and into the canopy.

Sombra stopped firing as the mech’s shield flickered out, the machine slumping over.

All was quiet.

“Sorry if that was… a little invasive,” Sombra said cautiously, jogging to keep up with Satya as the architech made her way back toward the southeast ramp.

“It was not in a bad way,” Satya said simply. She was attempting to gauge how far uphill they would need to climb before she could construct another set of teleporters. The missing section of the bridge gave her a slightly more convenient line of sight on the south hangar bay.

“Okay, because… we could work really well together, you know? I make the software, you make the hardware? I could design things so much more exciting than those turrets if you let me.”

“Your request for administrative access to my internal storage will be taken into consideration,” Satya deadpanned. She smiled to herself as she heard a brief, frantic stumble interrupt Sombra’s otherwise rhythmic footfalls.

“I still can never tell with you, amiga,” Sombra said with amused exasperation, “was that… meant to imply something, or did you mean it literally?”

”Yes.”




The door toward the back of the hangar let out along the curve of a long, brightly lit hallway, one that seemed to run completely around a large, circular room at the very center of the complex. Directly across from where they had entered was a heavy blast door, one Sombra quickly ran over to and began to hack into.

“This might take a while,” she said as her circuit lines spread over the console on the right side of the door frame. “Watch my back, will you?”

Satya took a few steps along the hall to the left, taking note of several terminals along the interior wall. Just beyond one of the raised alcoves, Satya caught sight of something out of place.

“I believe they have set explosive charges,” Satya said as she backed away from the odd device clinging to the wall.

“Okay, just watch out for more and be ready to bring up your shield if one goes off,” Sombra called distantly from her position back at the blast door.

Satya took one last look at the long, purple cylinder supported by six splayed struts of dark metal. The device bore an odd resemblance to some sort of insect. Sombra was still working on the door as Satya walked past to investigate the curve to the right. Sure enough, the architech spotted another, identical device adhering to the metal wall like an ant crawling up a tree.

“Okay, got it!” Sombra declared with satisfaction. Satya moved in behind her just as the doors slid open, revealing the spacious interior of the central chamber.

Along the curved walls were three similar blast doors, denoting what Satya supposed were the west, north, and east entrances. The large, circular room seemed to be two or three stories high, lit by a series of lightbars about halfway up the wall. They were angled downward, leaving the ceiling shrouded in darkness, though Satya could tell it was populated with a jumbled network of catwalks and air ducts. In the center, a large, metal column descended to several meters above the floor, where a similar column sat at the center of a slightly raised, circular platform and ascended not quite high enough to meet its hanging counterpart. Between the two cylindrical structures hovered a swirling, spherical mass of blue, purple, and pink energy.

“Okay, I know what I said before,” Sombra said as the two of them closed the rather long distance toward the center of the room, “but that thing definitely looks like it could blow this place up if we’re not careful, so…”

“…Be careful?” Satya answered with a raised eyebrow as they both stopped at the edge of the wide platform. It would be only a single step upward and a short distance across to the column itself. A strange, eerie hum filled the air.

“Yeah…” Sombra answered as she slowly circled around to the left side of the base platform, her gaze locked on the mass of swirling energy. She skeptically considered it for a long moment. “How the heck am I supposed to steal that?”

Too late, Satya heard footsteps behind her. She shuddered with a sudden, overpowering sense of dread that chilled her to her core as she felt a familiar, cold hand close gently around the skin of her upper arm from behind. Her eyes narrowed sharply in a flash of defiant anger as she spun forcefully out of the man’s grip, her entire right arm swinging wide. Her photon projector struck hard across the face of one Sanjay Korpal.

In a flash, Sombra had her machine pistol at the ready, holding it out, one-handed, toward Sanjay as he stumbled backward. Satya’s eyes went wide, her anger and surprise fading to an unwelcome sense of guilt as she watched Sanjay clutch at his bleeding nose.

Four Vishkar agents moved into position in a distant circle around where the three of them stood, raising their photon projectors. The two that stood on either side of the energy sphere glanced at the strange object for a moment, but quickly returned their attention to Satya and Sombra.

Sanjay wiped the blood away from his face with the right sleeve of his blue and white Vishkar uniform, using his left hand to check over the flattened, gray circles of his headset and the two neatly-maintained upward points at the front of his hair.

Sombra was the first to speak. “What the heck is Vishkar doing here?” she asked with more annoyance than disbelief. There was an odd slyness in her voice as she continued, “…if this is Vishkar business, that is.”

“Satya, how relieved I am to see you again,” Sanjay said, ignoring Sombra completely and keeping an oddly calm and friendly tone despite his injury. “I’m glad to find you unharmed, but your recent behavior is very concerning.”

Satya shuddered at the thought that she had ever trusted him, ever bought into the kinds of things he was saying. Her fingers closed into a strained grip around her photon projector. “Just stop it, Sanjay,” she said firmly. “I am never believing your lies ever again.”

“Satya, you can see for yourself what you have become without my guidance. Look at all the destruction you’ve caused to get here. Someone could’ve been hurt. The world is far too dangerous, for you and for everyone else, when you are lost like this.”

Satya winced. Her actions had been rather reckless and irresponsible. Was she merely deluding herself with the idea that she was doing it all for the right reasons? No, she thought with a rough shake of her head. Sanjay was just messing with her, like he always did. But… was he wrong? His presence made her skin crawl, and she found herself slowly backing away toward Sombra, but doubts began to plague her mind.

“Come home, Satya. You can’t be trusted on your own, but I can ensure you never make these rash and dangerous mistakes ever again. With Vishkar, you can serve a higher purpose.”

“This is some grade-A unmarked van shit, Sanjay,” Sombra jeered, securing the attention of the room in the verbal equivalent of a record scratch. “I liked you better when you were just a chauvinistic prick.”

Sanjay froze for less than a second before showing Sombra a confused look of sympathy. “I’m… not sure who you are, miss, but if you speak again, I cannot guarantee your safety.”

The four Vishkar agents trained their weapons on Sombra, the crackling energy of termination blasts building between the prongs of the devices.

Sombra let out a sudden, uncontrollable fit of laughter. “Good fucking luck with that. I don’t think Akande would be too happy. He likes me better than you, I’m pretty sure. I know you’re a big shot and all, but, well… so was Vialli.” She narrowed her eyes. “You should remember that, if you know what’s good for you.”

Sanjay’s expression faltered only slightly. “I… have no idea what you’re talking about,” he emphasized with an air of cryptic urgency.

“Oh, that’s riiiiight,” Sombra drawled in mock revelation, raising an index finger in the air and glancing briefly upward. She stepped up onto the edge of the raised platform, taking playful, nearly dance-like steps across the edge as the agents followed her movements with their projectors. “I’m not supposed to mention you’re on the Talon council in front of your side hustle,” She continued as a devious, satisfied grin twisted across her face. “I’ll be sure not to do that.”

Satya’s eyes went wide. Any last vestige of the loving, caring Sanjay she’d once known vaporized in an instant. Even the four Vishkar agents seemed to falter in their steadfastness.

“Satya, she is… deceiving you,” said Sanjay. His calm demeanor was beginning to break as he urgently held out his hand. “There won’t be another chance after this, you have to come with me before it’s too late.”

“She’s not going anywhere with you, pendejo,” Sombra said with narrowed eyes.

“You have blood on your hand,” Satya said firmly with disgust.

“Her accusations are simply untrue!” Sanjay nearly pleaded as he looked at Satya with disbelief.

Satya stared at him oddly for a moment, then brought up her prosthetic arm, holding her wrist close to her shoulder as she pointed down at Sanjay’s outstretched hand. “I meant you have blood on your hand,” she said. Sanjay glanced down into his open palm, where the skin was stained red from clutching his bleeding nose.

“Do you actually think I would touch that,” Satya scolded as she pointedly crossed her arms, her eyes narrowed into a scowl. “And… also the part where you have leadership roles in two criminal organizations,” she added after a moment.

“Uh… yes! That!” Sombra settled on as she took a pointed stance to Satya’s left.

Sanjay looked… sad? Resigned? No… disappointed, as he took a slow step backward. He hesitated for a long moment, then gave a simple, emotionless order.

“Kill them.”

Four charged termination blasts collided against the dome shield Satya had brought up around Sombra and herself.

¿Qué? ” Sombra shouted with disbelief. “Do you have a death wish or something?”

“Uh… sir!” the agent on the north side of the sphere gasped in nervous surprise as he shifted his aim away from the shield. Everyone else followed the agent’s gaze toward the room’s north exit, where black smoke was pouring out of a nearby air vent.

Satya felt another chill as a dark cloud rolled out over the floor toward the center of the room, slowly coalescing upward into the walking form of a man wearing a long, sleeveless hooded coat over a set of silver-black body armor. He bore two vicious-looking, quill-like spikes on each metallic gauntlet, and there were, indeed, claws on the fingertips of his gloves. A bandolier of red shotgun shells across his chest was just visible between the sides of his open, black coat, and another bandolier around his waist left a series of shells draped across his left thigh. Wisps of black smoke hovered eerily around him even once he had formed fully. Satya froze in trepidation as she stared into the sinister, hollow eyes of Reaper’s skull-like mask.

“What the fuck do you want, Sombra?” Reaper’s voice was a dark, echoing rasp, his frustration more than apparent.

“Sanjay just tried to kill me!” Sombra yelled with an extended, accusatory finger.

I’m going to kill you both,” Reaper boomed in anger, “if you don’t tell me what the fuck is going on.”

“I mean… I didn’t know you’d be here…” Sombra said with building confusion.

“I almost wasn’t,” Reaper declared as he stopped a short distance away from Satya’s dome shield. The Vishkar agents nearest to him slowly backed away, looking nervously to Sanjay for guidance. “Now, I hope for all our sakes that you haven’t been wasting my time.”

Sombra quickly gestured for Satya to dismiss the shield, and the architech shakily did so. Sombra took a few pointed steps up and across the platform, lazily throwing an arm out toward the mass of energy. “Well, there it is… I’m not sure what you want me to do with it, exactly…”

Reaper tilted his head oddly toward the hacker. “Sombra…” he began in an oddly calm tone, “what the fuck are you talking about?”

“The… thing you wanted me to steal?” Sombra said, hesitantly, with narrowed eyes.

Stop playing games! ” Reaper bellowed, his voice reverberating throughout the room. “Sombra, I got your damn message. I took the chance that you might actually have something useful. I came all the way out here, for some ridiculous reason that I hope I never have to find out, so tell me… do you have the list, or don’t you?”

…What? ” Sombra snapped loudly in something that was almost a hiss.

Satya felt a growing dread that something was off. That something was going wrong… or had already gone very, very wrong. But at that moment, the west set of blast doors burst open in a screech of metal, a large, muscular Russian woman throwing the slabs of metal aside like they weighed nothing at all.

The woman with short pink hair and a sleeveless set of blue-paneled body armor hefted a large particle cannon of the same model that had been mounted on the patrol vehicle outside. She took a few steps forward only for a streak of blue energy to whoosh past her as Lena appeared roughly halfway between the west entrance and the center of the room, her pulse pistols drawn. Zenyatta and Lúcio darted through the open doors, flanking out to either side of the towering Russian woman – Zarya, Satya presumed.

Reaper looked at the newcomers with building rage, drawing a large pair of black, angular shotguns from somewhere in his coat. The Vishkar agents continued to back away toward Sanjay, not even bothering to aim their weapons. Zarya’s face turned to a scowl as she locked eyes with… Sombra, and she tried in vain to aim her weapon at the hacker without catching Lena in the line of fire. Lúcio readied his sonic amplifier, while Zenyatta’s orbs quickly revolved in a spinning ring around the monk’s neck. Genji was still nowhere in sight.

It was a frantic, chaotic scene with too many moving parts to keep track of, and Satya felt overwhelmed, knowing she should be preparing to do something but unable to think of what, exactly, that might be. All she could do was wait, in the few short moments that felt like an eternity, for someone else to make the first move.

Everyone’s eyes shot suddenly upward as the loud CRACK of a rifle rang out overhead.

Chapter Text

Widowmaker prowled silently along the catwalk, taking the position with the most effective vantage of the commotion below. She gracefully took a knee with the cover of an air duct to her left, shouldering the Widow’s Kiss against the pale, purple-blue skin of her upper arm. The rifle’s barrel extended outward, nearly doubling the weapon’s length as it shifted to its long-range configuration. In the same movement, a narrow, red-lensed scope displaced itself upward from the top rail.

Her charcoal grey, three-lensed headpiece, vaguely diamond-shaped and curving over her forehead, slid downward into position just as the smaller, two-lensed sections slid from above her ears down to cover her eyes. The recon visor’s slightly larger central lens gave Widowmaker a red-tinted view of the confrontation, as the other six panned about like so many red eyes, zooming in and out to give the sniper additional views of all the relevant features of the room.

Reaper was losing his temper, as always. Sombra certainly deserved it, for insisting this meeting take place at such an inconvenient place and time. Theatrics were, of course, to be expected in her company, but a casual demand that necessitated an entire field operation on a whim was pushing it, even for her. Futile as Akande’s plan might be, it was at least providing the sniper with some pleasant amusement. If he was so set on poaching talent from Overwatch, he could knock himself out, as far as she was concerned. Perhaps with that fist of his.

Vishkar’s presence was unexpected, but would not present a problem. It would certainly be a problem for someone, but as that someone was not Widowmaker, the sniper calmly followed her assigned task and watched over the odd scene playing out below her.

She could kill any one of them. Anyone she wanted, and she would feel the thrill again. Life would fill her cold, slowed heart as she watched it drain from her target.

Well, anyone except Reaper. His constantly reforming cellular structure meant he could come back from anything, even a bullet to the forehead. It would hurt, of course, but it just wasn’t the same.

Widowmaker was startled from her musings by the distant sound of the west blast doors being forced open. She retracted her visor and watched with a strange curiosity as the Overwatch agents poured into the room. So, this was the motley crew of new recruits. Widowmaker wasn’t impressed. She reminisced with smug satisfaction as she noted a member of the Shambali among their ranks.

Despite her best efforts, her gaze finally settled on Tracer. She winced and snapped her visor back down again, centering her main lens on the pilot and relegating the rest of the room to the other six. It would be easy, so easy, to put an end to the annoyance once and for all. One shot. One kill.

But for once, she wished she could pull the trigger coldly, without the life returning to her as the bullet hit its mark. The one kill that still haunted her memories was torment enough, and however loath she was to admit it… some part of her already knew, that what she would feel at this woman’s death might be anything but pleasant.

Widowmaker heard a slight creak in the metal catwalk somewhere off to her left, and turned in a flash, her visor sliding open in an instant as she brought her rifle to bear.

Across the short length of catwalk that stretched from her own position to the next cluster of ducts and pipes, she caught sight of a metallic, humanoid form. It was Genji, the cyborg, paused mid-step and looking up in surprise. His usual lime-green lights were inactive as he prowled quietly through the darkness to take his own position.

Not quietly enough.

It was almost too easy. She had the younger Shimada in her sights, and even with his combined ninja training and cybernetic reflexes, he wouldn’t be able to draw his weapons fast enough, let alone close the distance. Before the cyborg could react, Widowmaker pulled the trigger.

But the bullet never made it to Genji.

The projectile stopped suddenly, midair, as a slight shimmer of blue energy rippled out from the impact point. The waves curved in three dimensions, washing over the vague shape of a third humanoid form crouched between the two assassins.

Widowmaker’s eyes widened in surprise as she took a sudden step backward. Genji backed away as well, appearing to have a similar reaction. He drew the smaller blade from his lower back and held it in reverse grip. For a moment, it was as if the two of them were alone again, all traces of the third figure having vanished from sight.

Widowmaker, report! ” Reaper’s voice rasped through the comm link in her ear.

Before she could respond, there was a sudden rush of footsteps against the metal grating, and Widowmaker ducked quickly to the left. The closest thing to fear filled her mind as she watched steam pour from a sudden puncture in one of the pipes that had been behind her head moments before. A slight blue shimmer outlined a long, narrow object protruding from the torn metal.

Widowmaker threw back her left arm, the grappling cable launching from her gauntlet and connecting to another catwalk on the far side of the large gap behind her. As she pulled herself across, she retracted the scope and barrel of the Widow’s Kiss, shifting the weapon to its full-auto mode and leaving a hail of bullets in her wake. The projectiles pinged against the unseen opponent, momentarily revealing its silhouette, just as the lime-green trails from Genji’s body lights appeared in Widowmaker’s peripheral vision.

Widowmaker landed on the opposite catwalk, taking cover behind another series of pipes as she watched Genji swing his sword, the shorter metal blade seeming to clang metallically against thin air with only a slight shimmer to indicate it had struck some sort of surface. Widowmaker snapped her recon visor over her eyes again, activating her infra-sight. Genji’s orange silhouette was crouching defensively while he made unsure strikes against… a hazy orange cloud that indicated the strange attacker was putting off some sort of interference, masking its heat signature. She shut off her visor again in frustration, leveling her rifle.

Soon, Genji’s sword began to actually strike nothing at all, and he paused, looking about for any sign of his opponent. His right hand slowly shifted apart and with a quick, sudden motion, he sent a spread of throwing stars out behind him. Two of the blades puctured air ducts, but one ricocheted off a small blue shimmer and dropped off the edge of the catwalk. Widowmaker quickly shifted her rifle back to sniper mode and fired.

The shimmering silhouette clearly visible for a moment after impact, Genji lunged forward, green light trailing behind him as he swung his sword at the target’s neck. The weapon stopped midair with a loud clang, and Genji was suddenly sent stumbling backward from an impact somewhere along his midsection.

The target had disappeared again, and moments later, Widowmaker heard loud, fast footfalls moving swiftly through the darkened, elevated maze. She switched to full-auto again, briefly using her visor to find a general direction to aim her rifle. When she found the orange glow, she fired in a wide spread, watching the shimmer quickly gain ground as it sped toward her.

She ducked into a roll, launching her grappling hook low across the catwalk as her opponent charged past her. She landed in a low crouch, taking note of where her cable seemed to bend midair and firing a hail of bullets upward in a narrow, targeted spread. The onslaught left the target’s head momentarily awash with bright blue ripples of energy, revealing the outline of a smooth, rounded skull-plate and a narrow, angular chin.

In a trail of green lights, Genji appeared on the opposite side, lunging again with his blade. Widowmaker stood up, wrapping her hand around the cable where it fed out from her wrist and pulling tightly. Genji’s blade struck something long and metallic, and at the same moment, Widowmaker felt a sudden sting running from her sternum, up along her collarbone, toward her right shoulder.

Her right hand still clutching her rifle, Widowmaker retracted her cable, wincing in pain as she touched her fingertips to the long gash across her upper chest. There was still only a slight trace of blood, her cold heart pumping it unnaturally slowly through her body.

She felt a sudden impact against her abdomen and was sent flying backward, reaching for the handrail of the catwalk but just barely missing it.

She was falling.




Satya scanned the darkened catwalks above for the source of the shot.

“Widowmaker, report!” Reaper called out urgently in a dark rasp, likely through a comm system similar to that used by Overwatch.

She was here, then.

But she hadn’t fired on anyone below.

There was more commotion from above, and Satya heard the high-pitched whine of some sort of pulley system, followed by automatic gunfire. Her gaze fell on the series of bright muzzle flashes, trailing across the ceiling as if the weapon itself was moving exceptionally quickly. Streaks of lime-green light cut across in a path perpendicular to the gunfire.

Genji, of course.

It appeared that the two assassins were engaged in a battle in the rafters, but… something was off about the angle. About how Genji hadn’t followed the trail of gunfire, but still seemed occupied.

A small object dropped from above, glinting reflectively in the light of the chamber as it fell through the air. One of Genji’s throwing stars.

Another loud CRACK, and Satya swore she saw the shimmer of some sort of force field. With trepidation, she spun hardlight around her fingers. She wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but something was bound to, and she could only hope that she would be able to react quickly enough. She heard another round of automatic fire, then another, and then…

It was Widowmaker, that unmistakable pale blue skin and her snake-like length of dark blue hair trailing behind her as she was sent flying off a ledge.

Satya projected a plane of hardlight just below the falling sniper, building a ramp down toward the floor in the southwest quadrant of the room. She heard a sudden whoosh from behind her as Lena blinked quickly toward where Widowmaker had rolled to a stop, kneeling over the prone woman just as the ramp dissipated.

“Lúcio!” Lena screamed with a desperate urgency. The DJ rushed over on his skates just as Satya caught more movement from above.

Genji fell forcefully downward, his arms held out below him in a position that looked anything but natural. Before Satya could react, there was a loud, metal clang against the floor, a blue shimmer washing over the impact point as the nearby Vishkar agents scattered.

Genji didn’t seem to have fully hit the ground. His hands were still below him, but held just above the ground as he apparently struggled against more ripples of blue energy. He was suddenly sent flying up and backward, just barely landing on his feet as he lunged forward again, drawing the smaller sword from his lower back and slicing it across empty air. He paused, seeming in search of something.

Sanjay was already running back across the floor to the south entrance, the four Vishkar agents falling in step behind him.

The agent at the rear of the formation stopped suddenly, with an unsettling tearing sound, as blood began to pour out from the small of his back. There was the faintest blue glint protruding from the wound as he fell – no, was thrown – to the ground.

The next agent stopped mid-run to clutch at his bleeding throat, choking as he collapsed. The second-to-last agent fell forcefully forward, blood spraying upward from his back as the faint, blue silhouette of a narrow blade pulled itself out. The last agent spun suddenly to the floor with a deep gash across his midsection.

Sanjay had just made it through the threshold, the blast doors slamming shut behind him.

The room fell silent, aside from the constant humming produced by the swirling mass of energy within the gap of the central column.

“Where did it go?” Genji asked, holding his sword in a defensive stance.

Satya could have sworn she’d seen Reaper’s mask tilt in her direction, his gaze falling on her for only a moment, just before he pointedly threw his shotguns to the floor. “Let’s find out,” he announced to the room in a slow, punctuated rasp.

He threw his arms out to the sides, palms upturned as he splayed and curled his fingers. The claws on his fingertips raked through the air as he brought his hands toward his face, clouds of black and blood-red smoke coalescing in a vortex around him.

He was going to…

“West side wall, now!” Satya yelled through her comm as she started to back away toward the entrance Zarya had broken through. Sombra followed the architech’s lead as dark clouds swirled around Reaper. Genji seemed confused for a moment before locking eyes with Satya and running toward her. Noting Zarya and Zenyatta’s positions to her left, and where Lena and Lúcio stood over Widowmaker’s prone form farther off to her right, Satya brought up her photon barrier. The massive wall of hexagons easily sealed off a neat slice along the left curve of the large room.

Reaper burst forth from the vortex, somehow holding another pair of shotguns as he fired wildly. Pellets laced with red energy spread out in all directions, pattering against Satya’s barrier like hailstones. One stray shot hit the energy sphere, its swirling becoming more violent as the cylindrical structures above and below it began to creak loudly.

A few pellets struck against something in the southeast quadrant of the room, the blue, shimmering energy field glowing brightly as a metallic, humanoid form appeared beneath it.

It was… an omnic, its steel-colored, skeletal frame supported by a series of pistons. Several glowing red lines detailed its form, six prominent ones angling from its shoulders and sides toward the front of its torso, feeding into two larger, curved lines – much like a pair of parentheses – that formed a partial circle around the center of its chest. Its smooth skull-plate was fitted with a single, circular lens, shining with a sinister red light.

The omnic paused, looking pointedly around the room before its gaze fell in Satya’s direction. The architech shuddered, but beside her, Sombra seemed completely paralyzed.

Reaper readied his shotguns, firing them one after the other as the omnic passed the room’s central column and made its way toward Satya’s barrier. Each blast only made the omnic’s shields glow more brightly.

How_pleasant_to_finally_make_your_aquaintance_Ms._Colomar.”

The electronic voice was… strange. It wasn’t an omnic’s voice, not a typical one, anyway. Omnics had personality. This voice was cold, fragmented, as if each word were being recited individually and not as part of a flowing sentence.

The name, Satya didn’t recognize. She had the distinct feeling it was an easily solvable puzzle if she could only devote the time to it, but it was far from the most pressing matter at the moment.

Another blast from one of Reaper’s shotguns washed harmlessly over the omnic as it stopped a few meters from Satya’s shield. The machine stood completely still, unsettling Satya even more as she watched its unmoving from framed by one of the large hexagons in her barrier.

Very_well,” it said as it pondered the barrier. “We_must_first_discuss_something_with_Mr._Reyes.”

Both Lena and Genji gasped audibly.

In the second before the omnic turned away, something appeared briefly in the center of its large, red lens. A series of white lines… the outline of a human eye, a row of three dots above, and another row of three dots below. Two concentric circles forming the iris, and a single, vertical line taking the place of a pupil at the design’s center.

Sombra was shaking, an absolutely haunted look on her face. Satya longed desperately to reach out, to do something to calm her, but… she knew that was exactly what Sombra would not want her to do. She knew what this was, of course, and the distant rumble in the back of Satya’s mind became a deafening barrage of trembling thunder. She was in the eye of the storm.

And she would be unable to keep the winds at bay for much longer.

“We have nothing to discuss,” Reaper said scornfully, shotguns still at the ready, as the omnic approached his position near the center of the room. “If you’re actually fool enough to make an enemy of Talon, you’ll meet a swift end soon enough.”

We_did_not.”

Reaper tilted his head. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Eight_minutes_ago, Talon_was_cleared_from_the_board.”

Sombra gasped, and Lena and Lúcio stepped back suddenly as Widowmaker leaned up onto her elbow. Her pale, blue face had a skeptical but breaking expression as she shook her head intermittently in something like a shiver.

“You expect me to believe that?” Reaper said with a scoff and a slight shrug of his shoulders.

Talon_was_of_no_concern_until_Mr._Ogundimu_resurfaced. His_vision_was_deemed_incompatable_with_our_own.”

The omnic took a step forward, and Reaper's response was another ineffective shotgun blast.

You_on_the_other_hand_have_been_relevant_for_some_time.”

Reaper took a step backward, lining the omnic more clearly in his sights. “Is this the part where I’m supposed to care?

An_individual_that_cannot_be_controlled_nor_disposed_of_through_traditional_means,” the omnic mused mechanically as it took another step toward the Talon agent, “you_have_become_quite_the_concern, Mr._Reyes.”

“Sounds about right.”

Reaper – or Reyes, as his surname seemed to be – spoke with a smug confidence and seemed nearly apathetic to what the omnic was saying. He was sure of himself, perhaps dangerously so. The omnic’s expression was unreadable, even more so than Zenyatta’s normally was. It was hard to tell who was truly in control of the situation, though Satya had her suspicions.

Your_existance_is_simply_unacceptable.”

“Good luck with that,” Reaper said with a brief, reverberating laugh, “Like you said, I can’t die.”

The omnic paused for a moment, letting silence pass for long enough that Satya’s attention fell back to the swirling mass of energy at the center of the room, the metal support structure still creaking with strain as blue, purple, pink, and a trace of red mixed violently. The omnic now stood just at the westernmost edge of the low platform, only a short distance from where Reaper had been standing earlier. Right near where…

There_are_other_kinds_of_death,” the omnic said. Then, in one swift motion it took another step forward, its foot falling hard on the grip of one of the shotguns Reaper had left lying on the ground. The weapon was sent spinning up through the air, and the omnic caught it one-handed. It swung its arm out to the side, aiming directly at the sphere of energy, and fired.

The blast caused a violent reaction, as the swirling colors coalesced into a stuttering mass of empty blackness, a white glow around the edge of the expanding, dark sphere. The omnic released its hold on the shotgun, and the weapon was pulled instantly toward the strange void, disappearing into it. The other shotgun was pulled off the ground just as a tiny object of shining metal – Genji’s throwing star – flew across the room to be consumed as well. Four photon projectors followed.

Sombra gasped. “A… gravity well?” she managed, though her voice was shaking.

Zarya took several steps forward, looking through the photon barrier with a determined interest. “That… is not like one of mine.”

The omnic took a wide, lowered stance as Reaper seemed to struggle against the pull toward the center of the room, but both remained standing in place as the bodies of the four Vishkar agents disappeared into the gravity well. With a sudden, violent creak and tearing of metal, large portions of the upper and lower cylindrical structures were wrenched away, visibly crumbling inward just as they vanished into the growing sphere between them.

The omnic deployed a pair of narrow, telescoping blades from its forearms, the blades themselves nearly double the length of the gauntlets they had been stored in. It charged quickly across the floor at Reaper, who fired both his shotguns to no effect.

The omnic jumped into a spin-kick, knocking the shotgun out of Reaper’s right hand just before it landed. It brought its right arm up and outward in a forceful slice against the other shotgun, visibly cutting into the metal surface as the weapon was pried away, joining the other of the pair as they both went sailing into the gravity well.

Raising its left arm, the omnic struck downward just as Reaper pulled another shotgun from his belt, holding it across his chest with both hands as the blade sliced only halfway through it. The omnic swung its arm wide, tearing the weapon from Reaper’s hands and sending it flying. The flayed, spinning shotgun nearly collided with Satya’s photon barrier before its wide arc carried it back around into the growing void.

With apparent frustration, Reaper landed a hard punch against the omnic’s chest, sending the machine stumbling backward as he pulled out yet another shotgun, only to strike it viciously downward like a club against the omnic’s head. The blue, shimmering shield appeared to take both physical hits, and the omnic recovered instantly, diving under Reaper’s two-handed swing of the weapon and slicing a deep gash into the Talon agent’s right side.

Reaper grunted as smoke poured from the wound, clutching it with his left hand as he turned and fired four quick shotgun blasts at the evasive omnic.

“Should we… do something?” Satya asked with uncertainty, desperately trying to break Sombra out of whatever paralysis she was in, but it was a futile effort. Satya acquiesced, supposing there wasn’t much they could do. Her barrier was still the only thing keeping the rest of them from being pulled toward the growing gravity well.

With an agile upward kick from the omnic, Reaper’s remaining shotgun was sent arcing over his head in a spin toward oblivion, and the omnic brought its right arm-blade down hard. Reaper crossed his forearms, blocking the strike and catching the blade between the spikes on his gauntlets. His arms flexed slightly in preparation, and the omnic swiftly retracted the blade into its gauntlet just as Reaper forcefully pulled his arms apart in a motion that might have otherwise snapped the thin weapon.

The omnic lunged backward just to push off the ground, drawing back its left arm and throwing a downward punch accompanied by a deploying blade. Before the attack could hit its mark, Reaper brought up his left leg and kicked hard against the machine’s chest, sending it flying and skidding across the floor toward the north entrance. The omnic quickly righted itself, retracting the blade again and breaking out into a run.

“I invite you to try,” Reaper rasped cryptically as he stood his ground, watching the charging omnic carefully. The machine drew back its right arm for another blade-assisted punch as it sped toward the unmoving Talon agent. Reaper didn’t make any attempt to dodge or block as the blade deployed directly into his chest.

The rest of the omnic followed, sliding entirely through the cloud of black smoke that had once been Reaper as its momentum sent it hurtling directly toward the gravity well.

The omnic caught its right foot against the slight lip of the raised platform, spinning quickly around on its heel to plant its left leg out behind it, its left hand bracing against the ground as its right, bladed arm angled up and back into the air.

Moments later, a torrent of black smoke washed over the omnic’s shields as Reaper’s vapor form was sucked instantly toward the gravity well.

It was over in seconds, every trace of the ghastly Talon agent vanishing into oblivion.

Gabe! ” Sombra cried out suddenly, pain in her voice as she nearly lunged forward.

The gravity well began to distort, growing more and more unstable until it collapsed in on itself, leaving nothing but thin air in its wake. The room fell silent.

With_not_a_moment_to_spare,” the omnic said to no one in particular as it retracted its blade and rose to its feet. It looked over the empty space where the gravity well had once been before settling its eye again on Satya’s barrier.

Unfortunately_Ms._Colomar, your_presence_is_no_longer_necessary.”

That name again.

Satya could maintain her barrier for longer, even keep the omnic from getting through. The door behind them was open, but… what then? Was running even an option, if this enemy was anything like Sombra believed it was?

“Was that a threat?” Lena asked suddenly from off to Satya’s right. “’Cause I don’t know who you’re threatening, exactly, but that sounded like a threat to me.”

All eyes were on Lena as she walked out toward the barrier, coldly eyeing the omnic through it, at an angle, with her pulse pistols drawn. Her voice was loud and stinging as she continued.

“You think you can just walk in here and pretend you matter? Like you own the place? Who the bloody hell put you in charge, then? ‘Cause I’ll tell you what, love… every right mug thinks they oughta be in charge of things.” Lena was shaking, but there was a determined rage in her like Satya had never seen. “Look at you, one against eight and making threats. You think we’re scared? Is that why nobody ever does anything?” She let a quiet silence pass over the room for only a moment. “Well… you know who we are, then?”

The pilot turned to Satya with a determined nod.

Satya steeled herself, Lena’s words echoing her memories of Zenyatta’s. However powerful this enemy was, it was Overwatch’s responsibility to put an end to it. To meet it on the battlefield, just like any other. Moreover, Sombra would never be at peace until this was all finally put to rest.

And now, Satya supposed, neither would any of the others, nor herself.

She returned the nod.

“We’re Overwatch,” Lena said as she readjusted her aim, “and that’s the whole point of us, love…”

Zarya, Zenyatta, Genji, and Lúcio followed suit, readying their weapons. Satya charged an energy drain pulse in her photon projector. A wave of purple light washed over Sombra as she activated her stealth mode. A grin twisted across Lena’s lips.

“We’re the people who do something.”

Satya dismissed the barrier, and opened fire.

The omnic charged forward, pointedly ducking out of the way of Satya’s pulse and avoiding several of Zenyatta’s orbs before running directly into the beam of Zarya’s particle cannon. The blue energy washed harmlessly over the omnic’s shields, seeming only to make them grow brighter. The omnic leapt out of the beam as it closed on Zarya herself, spinning in the air and landing a forceful kick against the woman’s forehead. Zarya fell to the ground, lifeless.

Ryuujin no ken o kurae!” Genji shouted as he rushed in, dragonblade in hand, and brought the glowing sword down in wave of green energy.

The omnic deployed its blades, catching Genji’s sword between them. The green energy struck in a vague vertical line along the machine’s shields, lingering for a moment before dispersing across the entire surface as a brighter blue glow. The omnic swiftly uncrossed its blades, sending the dragonblade flying out of Genji’s hands and sailing through the air. Before the sword had even begun its descent, the omnic retracted its weapons and lunged forward, taking a firm hold of Genji’s right hand and twisting.

The four sections splayed apart in an ear-splitting tear of metal, three undeployed throwing stars falling out of the gaps. The omnic planted its left foot forward, then forcefully swing around its right, catching Genji across the midsection and sending his metal body screeching across the floor.

The omnic’s face was met with a sudden, rapid assault from Zenyatta’s orbs, each projectile knocking the machine’s head back almost comically, but its shields seemed to hold. In a flash, the omnic brought up its hand in time to catch the ninth orb, lunging suddenly toward the monk as he brought the other orbs around in a wide arc for another strike. Before he could react, Zenyatta was struck across the face with his own orb, falling out of the air and landing prone on the floor.

Satya heard the other eight orbs fall and clatter somewhere behind her as she brought up her photon projector, attaching an energy drain beam to the omnic’s shields. She saw the machine’s personal barrier falter for only a moment before she noticed her projector losing power and broke off the attack.

It had… reversed the beam?

Satya brought up her dome shield just in time to defend herself as the omnic launched Zenyatta’s orb in her direction.

In a whoosh, Lena was behind the omnic, firing her pulse pistols. As the omnic turned, she began furiously blinking around it, firing from all angles and never staying in one spot for more than a few seconds. The pulse fire only seemed to fuel the shields as well. The omnic watched her movements, making no effort to dodge or counterattack until its gaze settled on… an empty space. It lunged its right arm forward, deploying its blade into nothing but thin air.

A look of complete panic and horror spread across Lena’s face as she suddenly materialized, mere centimeters from where the blade had struck. A vortex of blue energy swirled around the light on her accelerator, and she was pulled in several angled loops around the omnic and back away from the fight by a trail of blue light that seemed distinct from her usual blinking.

A volley of green sound blasts struck the omnic from the side, and it turned and charged toward Lúcio, who was skating in from off to Satya’s right with music blaring from his speakers. The DJ fired a concussive sound wave from his sonic amplifier, and the omnic stopped in its tracks.

Something seemed to activate in its feet as it stood wide, clearly struggling against the wave but not being pushed back a single inch. After the wave had passed, it continued onward, throwing its arm wide just as it neared Lúcio and bringing the blade across in a downward strike.

Lúcio spun swiftly on his heel, bringing one leg almost over his head as he deflected the blade with his skate. The motion threw him off balance, and he fell, but not before lashing out with a mechanical kick to one of the omnic’s legs and sending the machine falling after him.

As his back hit the ground, Lúcio brought his sonic amplifier up between himself and the falling omnic, firing another concussive wave upward. Unable to brace against the ground, the omnic was sent high into the air, and in a flash Lúcio had pushed off the ground, using the distance he traveled on his skates to right himself. He spun quickly and fired another wave, one that caught the omnic as it fell and sent it crashing hard against the wall of the room, its limbs flailing wildly as it collapsed to the floor.

“You have any idea who I fought for the last three years?” the DJ taunted, “expect I wouldn’t know how to think on my feet?

Satya found herself suddenly appreciative of how much of an annoyance Lúcio’s expertise in guerilla tactics had been. The DJ had waged war, for years, against Vishkar’s far superior technology, and no matter how much Vishkar tried to deny it, he had won that war. He knew how to fight dirty when it counted, and right now… it counted.

The omnic slowly righted itself in a motion that was only almost perfect.

That would have to be enough.

Satya fired a series of uncharged energy drain pulses, watching the omnic duck and weave around them as it sped toward her. According to the brightness settings on her visor, the few attacks that connected were, in fact, dimming its shields, ever so slightly.

The omnic halted its advance, leaving itself open to a few more of Satya’s projectiles as it focused intently on one particular section of the west wall.

“Okay, well that’s no fair,” Sombra snarked as she decloaked along the wall. Behind the lightness of her voice was a scowl of seething rage as she clutched at empty air with her hands, sparks of purple energy dancing between her fingertips. She ducked low, crossing her arms as rings of purple light were rapidly drawn inward.

Apagando las luces.”

As Sombra threw her arms apart, a wave of purple energy washed over the omnic, deactivating its shields completely. Wasting no time at all, Sombra threw forward her left hand, five tendrils of magenta energy lashing out from her nails and connecting to the center of the machine’s torso. As her circuit lines spread out from the five impact points, Sombra made a quarter circle around her target to place herself between it and Satya. With a rough pull of her arm, she forcefully twisted the omnic to face her.

The red lines on the omnic’s chest glowed suddenly brighter, sending narrower red circuit lines out along its torso to intercept Sombra’s magenta ones. In seconds, the red lines had completely overwritten Sombra’s all the way back to the five impact points, where red-orange energy shot back across the tendrils and into the hacker’s fingernails.

Sombra screamed.

Satya lunged forward, taking hold of Sombra’s left shoulder and pulling her arm away. The tendrils vanished, but Sombra was clearly struck with pain and panic as steam rose visibly from her hand and forearm.

The omnic’s shields flickered on again in an instant as it charged toward Satya and Sombra, its right arm held high as its blade deployed upward.

Four thin, right-angled, metallic prongs closed around the omnic’s wrist, its arm and torso suddenly twisting backward as Widowmaker reeled in her grappling cable.

Lúcio sped over on his skates, stopping near Sombra as his music filled the air. Satya constructed a partial dome shield between the three of them and the center of the room, where Widowmaker was ducking and weaving under the omnic’s blades, kneeling out of a roll and peppering the machine’s back with automatic fire from what seemed to be a collapsed form of her sniper rifle. Whatever the hail of bullets was doing to the omnic’s shields, they didn’t seem to be brightening.

Satya looked back to find Lúcio hovering his left hand over Sombra’s forearm. She couldn’t tell exactly what he was doing, and though it was apparent it had initially caused the hacker to recoil suddenly, it now seemed to be calming her somewhat. Satya fought hard against the desire to rush over and hold her tightly, taking a pained step away and raising her photon projector past the edge of the shield. As she did so, Sombra looked up to give the architech a slight nod of thanks, and Satya returned a bleak smile.

Lena was blinking about on the outskirts, her pulse pistols stowed away as she watched the current brawl intently. Widowmaker was standing some distance south of center, firing a sustained volley northward as the omnic approached her. At the last second, Widowmaker threw her left arm backward, the cable deploying from her wrist, attaching to the south wall, and pulling the sniper far out of range of a furious arm-blade swipe.

Lena blinked in a short distance behind the omnic, reaching under her shoulder to pull some sort of disk from the back of her accelerator. She threw the projectile like a frisbee, attaching it to the omnic’s back and blinking away.

The omnic turned, and with its back partially to Satya, she could see more red circuit lines spreading across the machine’s back and onto the metal ring around the blue, glowing center of the disk. In one swift motion, the omnic reached toward its own back, pulling the disk away and sending it flying back toward Lena.

The reversal caught the pilot by surprise, and Satya winced in shock as the disk detonated midair, sending out a concussive wave that caught Lena near its edge and sent her rolling across the floor.

In a trail of green lights, Genji rushed in to place himself between Lena and the omnic. The dragonblade was back in his scabbard, his right hand near-useless at his side, and his left hand held the smaller sword in reverse grip. The omnic lunged forward, swinging with both its blades.

Genji swiftly blocked the first strike, then let go of the sword, catching it again in forward grip in time to block the next. The smaller sword had no glowing edge, but somehow still left trails of green light behind it as the cyborg used it to block every subsequent strike. Even as the omnic quickened the pace, Genji furiously alternated his position and grip to keep up an effective defense. Satya charged a powerful energy drain pulse as the battle continued, waiting for her opening.

Genji dodged backward as the omnic made a wide swing, then leapt over the arm-blade, kicking with both his feet and sending the machine stumbling away. Satya fired.

The pulse collided with the omnic’s shields, the smooth barrier around its form flickering out in places until only scattered sections remained. Genji took the moment to go on the attack, lunging forward with a downward, diagonal strike.

The omnic’s scattered shield fragments coalesced around its right arm as it used that blade to block Genji’s strike. Moments later, the rest of the shield flickered on again, and the two locked blades once more.

It could redistribute its shields.

It was another factor in the equation that Satya still had no idea how to piece together, let alone solve, in the chaos of combat.

Lúcio was speeding across the battlefield toward Lena, and Sombra was already backing away along the west wall, so Satya dismissed her shield, charging another draining pulse.

The omnic finally caught Genji’s sword between its crossed blades, then swung its arms outward. The curved blade was sent past Genji’s shoulder, though the cyborg held on tightly enough not to relinquish his weapon this time around. Before he could react, however, the omnic brought up its right leg and sent a hard kick against Genji’s faceplate, knocking him prone.

Nine metallic orbs collided with the omnic all at once.

One hit hard against its skull-plate, while the other eight sped past in a cluster, stopping midair as the omnic’s arms were pulled tightly out behind it. Each blade was held in place by two pairs of orbs, spaced out along its length and pressing tightly together with the weapons captured between them. The omnic struggled futilely against the hold as Zenyatta slowly approached.

“Weapons cut deep,” the monk said simply as he raised his hands, extending two index fingers toward the ceiling, “but none are cut so deep as the wielder.”

Zenyatta gently swiveled his wrists, tracing two small circles in the air. The movement was accompanied by a screech of tearing metal as the two pairs of orbs around each blade rotated in opposite directions. Four twisted lengths of metal clattered to the floor.

The omnic lunged toward Zenyatta, but the monk floated out of reach, battering the disarmed attacker with several arcing processions of orbs. Satya fired her draining pulse, and Zenyatta’s next attack left several physical dents in the machine’s armor as a few of the orbs struck metal plating instead of energy shields.

Zenyatta threw his arms out to the side, his orbs forming a wide circle around the omnic. With a dramatic clap from the monk, the orbs sailed rapidly inward.

The nine projectiles collided in the center of the circle as the omnic leapt over the closing ring, spinning in the air and planting a hard kick against Zenyatta’s chest. The monk dropped out of the air, pinned to the floor by a metallic foot.

“Master!”

Genji charged in from the east side of the room, tackling the machine and sending the two of them rolling across the floor. The omnic was the first to its feet, but Genji struck quickly with his blade, striking against shielding as the omnic defended with its forearms. After a few blocks, the omnic swung its left foot upward, kicking hard into Genji’s wrist and wrenching his sword away with its hands. The machine spun the blade into a two-handed reverse grip and plunged it downward through Genji’s thigh.

Genji seemed content to keep fighting, but the omnic quickly planted its foot on his knee, pulling out the blade and maneuvering the same leg to kick hard into the cyborg’s chest. Genji was sent several meters backward before collapsing to the floor.

Genji’s shorter blade in hand, the omnic turned, its single lens settling on Satya. The architech narrowed her eyes, firing the energy drain pulse she’d been charging.

The blast washed over the omnic’s shields, but was significantly less damaging than it had been prior. The barrier flickered only for a moment, leaving far less of its metal body exposed in the few seconds before the shield regained full strength.

Just as Satya took a shocked backward step, the omnic broke out into a run toward her, brushing off a sudden hail of bullets from somewhere along the west wall.

Lúcio sped in on his skates, firing a concussive wave from his sonic amplifier that made the omnic stop in its tracks and knocked Genji’s blade clean out if its hand. The DJ made wide circles around the machine, firing wave after concussive wave and forcing it to repeatedly stall its progress to use its ground-bracing ability.

“Oh, you’re in treble now!” he called out in a brazen taunt.

Satya watched as Lena blinked around the room to where Genji had fallen, then noticed Zarya’s prone form on the floor just beside her. She was alive, to Satya’s immense relief, but remained unconscious.

But it might not matter, Satya realized. None of it would matter if they couldn’t win this.

She charged and fired another draining pulse at the omnic, even catching it as it stalled in a brace, but the attack had less of an effect than even the previous one. It was… adapting, somehow, and it might not be long before her projector had no effect at all.

It wasn’t hopeless, she realized. It never was. There was always a solution somewhere, she just had to find it. But every few seconds the omnic took another step toward her, and Lúcio could not stall forever. Satya needed time, and it was looking more and more unlikely that she would have enough. Fear and anxiety coursed through her as she tried harder and harder to force herself to think of something quickly, and her state only worsened as she understood that the effort was only having the opposite effect on her.

Satya’s mind was racing.

The omnic took another step.

Experience Tranquility.”

Zenyatta’s voice from behind her had an odd, echoed effect as Satya found herself bathed in a warming, sun-like aura of light. She felt oddly calm, and the storm in her mind abated. She turned briefly to find the levitating monk with a bowed head, six additional arms made of golden light now spreading, spiderlike, from his back. Cast in the same golden aura, Zarya seemed to stir back into consciousness.

Satya had been concerned with whether or not she would have the chance to find the solution, but she now found herself spinning a small hardlight disc between the fingers of her left hand.

Why leave it to chance, at all?

“Zarya,” she asked, kneeling beside the woman and laying a hand on her shoulder. “You can make those things? Gravity wells?”

“Mine are not so strong,” Zarya managed, leaning up on an elbow but remaining prone. “Would only stop it for a few moments.”

“That will… have to be… enough,” Satya said with difficulty as she helped move the heavy particle cannon into position. Even lying on the floor, Zarya was still doing most of the work.

Zarya placed her hands over the weapon’s two grips and fired, deploying a small, dark sphere outlined in white. The projectile collided with the omnic, instantly growing to a size that contained the machine from its feet to its shoulders. The omnic struggled against the gravity well’s pull, but couldn’t break free even as Lúcio halted his attack and backed away.

Satya took the moment to scan the battlefield, taking note of every last piece.

On the far side of the omnic, Lena knelt over Genji’s prone form as Lúcio sped over to assist. Genji was conscious and resting on his elbow, but seemed unable to stand.

To Satya’s right, against the west wall, Sombra had her machine pistol at the ready in her right hand, her left arm held oddly at her side.

To Satya’s left and moving around behind her, Widowmaker had her rifle in its long-range configuration, apparently waiting for another opening in the omnic’s shields.

Satya spun the hardlight disc in her hand, keeping her eyes on the battlefield in front of her. Without looking, she closed her hand around the shape, vanishing specks of light drifting through her fingers.

She charged another draining pulse in her projector, keeping the weapon hidden from view behind Zarya’s massive cannon.

She turned quickly toward Sombra. As their eyes locked, she brought up her prosthetic hand, using hardlight from her emitter to simulate bolts of electricity crackling between her fingers. Sombra nodded, stowing her weapon and building energy between the nails of her right hand.

She turned back around, hesitantly locking eyes with Widowmaker. The sniper looked at her oddly, but nodded as the architech gestured toward the charge building in her projector.

Turning forward again, she stared out across the room toward Lena, Genji, and Lúcio.

“Lena,” she said over comms, “I need to tell you something.”

Lena turned around, and their eyes locked. “Satya, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I got us all into this.”

Satya winced at the pain in the woman’s voice. “Stop! Lena, just… listen.”

Okay, love,” Lena said weakly, her voice breaking. “What is it?

Satya watched the gravity well begin to distort, its hold on the omnic fading. Her charge was ready, a large, bright sphere of energy spinning between the three prongs of her projector. She locked eyes with Lena again, across the battlefield, and a smirk spread across her face as she spoke five punctuated words.

Four point two-zero seconds.”

The gravity well disappeared completely, and in a flash, Satya stood and fired. At the same moment, Sombra threw out her right arm, sending a wave of purple energy out toward the omnic.

The two attacks hit the machine’s shields, their combined effect enough to reduce the barrier to around one third coverage, a patchwork of fragments dispersed over its body.

A moment later, the loud CRACK of a rifle rang out, and the omnic just barely managed to coalesce the remaining shield fragments over its face in time to block the shot.

“Ryuujin no ken o kurae!”

Whoosh.

A lance of green energy pierced through the omnic’s torso. The machine’s shields flickered out completely, along with the red lines along its body, as the glow gradually faded from at least half a meter of dragonblade protruding from its chest.

The red light in its wide lens faltered, growing dim as its voice stuttered even more than usual.

Your_victory_here_is___ir_rrelevant. This_unit’s_objective_was_already_com_p_p_pleted.”

Sombra had a wide, bitter smirk across her face as she crossed the floor toward the impaled omnic with stern purpose in every step. She held her right hand down at her side, her fingers splayed and curved as she pointedly retracted her nails.

“I bet you all tell yourselves that when you lose.”

She lunged her right arm forcefully into the omnic’s skull-plate, deploying her nails with enough force to lodge them between the edge of the wide lens and the surrounding metal frame. Magenta lines spread over the omnic’s head and down its neck as the fading red glow of its eye flickered to a bright purple.

Chapter Text

“Okay, listen the fuck up, mis amiges, cause this is some real ‘end of days’ shit right here and I hope I don’t have to explain to you how fucked we all are if you don’t do exactly what I tell you.”

Sombra’s voice was stinging, full of its usual crass confidence, but the fear in her eyes was unmistakable, even to Satya.

“Why should we?” Zarya grunted as she stood, heaving her massive particle cannon over her shoulder. It seemed a struggle for her to maintain her balance, a new bruise now swelling on her forehead just opposite her scar.

“Because she knows what she’s doing!” Lena scolded with a tone of finality, still clutching the hilt of Genji’s dragonblade from behind the impaled omnic. She turned to look back over the machine’s magenta-streaked shoulder to where Sombra’s right hand now tapped away at a series of hexagons. “You… do know what you’re doing. Right, love?” Her voice was soft, but well above a whisper.

Sombra looked at the pilot oddly for a moment, presumably taken aback at the cordiality of the interaction. “, I know what I’m doing. Whether it will work is a different story entirely, but you stumbled into this shit and now they’re going to fucking kill us all if I don’t do whatever I can to get you out of it.” Turning around to face Zarya, she added, “And this is exactly what I tried to fucking tell you last time, so shut up and listen because in five minutes this thing’s going to self-destruct and you’re really not going to want to be in this room when that happens.”

All eyes were on Sombra at the mention of ‘self-destruct.’

Sore loser, much?” Lúcio scoffed with apparent frustration as he sped over to treat Zarya’s head injury. His music was playing at a low volume, but from its ambience Satya still felt a tight soothing in the part of her back she had rolled onto after her fall from the bridge.

“Sore winner, actually,” Sombra corrected with snark that was mostly drained of humor. “It was supposed to go off after it killed us. Apparently, these things… ‘assassin-types,’ it looks like… are what those fuckers consider disposable.”

Satya felt a heavy unease at that idea. They had barely succeeded against one of these omnics. That this enemy seemed to hold them in such little regard spoke none too kindly of the greater challenges that might lie ahead.

“I don’t think I can walk,” Genji said from where he still rested on the floor some distance behind Lena. Satya quickly moved to help, as did Lúcio and Zenyatta.

“We… might need a little more time, love,” Lena said with detectable worry.

“Technically, the countdown only starts when I say it does,” Sombra began, “but make it quick, would you? As far as they’re concerned, this thing’s still checking to make sure everyone’s dead. I need to get this over with quickly if there’s any chance for it to be convincing.”

Genji’s cyborg body was far too heavy to carry, but Satya had an idea. “Zenyatta,” she called to get the omnic monk’s attention as she wove light between her fingers, a newly-designed wireframe structure forming above her palm. “Will this work?”

The monk examined the rudimentary stretcher with apparent curiosity as Satya rotated the long, rectangular shape to display nine concave, hemispherical indentations along the bottom surface.

Indeed,” Zenyatta said after a time, sounding very impressed.

Satya built the structure on its side, stepping back as Zenyatta’s nine metallic orbs drifted from around his neck and slotted into place, forming a rectangular pattern not unlike a stretched version of the one that adorned the monk’s forehead. Controlling the orbs telekinetically, Zenyatta rotated the stretcher upright and lowered it to the ground so Satya and Lúcio could slide Genji onto it.

Lena slowly and carefully withdrew the dragonblade from the omnic’s back as Sombra made the finishing touches on her countdown and gently lowered the machine to the ground. Lúcio sped off on his skates to recover Genji’s smaller sword as the cyborg himself drifted toward the exit on the levitating, hardlight stretcher, Zenyatta following close behind. With a resigned huff, Zarya joined them as well.

As she made to leave, Satya’s gaze drifted to Widowmaker, who still hadn’t said a word but stood a fair distance from where the others had been gathered, her rifle held downward across her chest in its long-range configuration.

“This isn’t going to work if they see even one of us still out and about,” Sombra explained with an uncertain and lightly pleading tone. It sounded less like a directive issued to a teammate and more like an attempt to sway a person of known reluctance.

The sniper’s face twisted into a scowl, but her eyes seemed to hesitate, flickering just on the edge of narrowing. Her expression had no clear emotion in it, at least not any Satya could recognize, but it was not exactly blank, either. For a moment, she seemed… lost, perhaps, before wordlessly collapsing her rifle and joining the others through the open doorway.

Lena, Satya, and Sombra followed quickly after, leaving behind an empty room. As Sombra crossed the threshold into the hallway, she stopped at a terminal on the opposite wall, laying her right hand across the screen while Lena darted out through the westernmost structure of the complex. Satya stopped to watch the magenta lines spread over the device, lingering near the hacker as she worked, presumably, to more convincingly cover their tracks.

Sombra’s apparent resolve was swiftly breaking into panic as she tapped away at another series of holographic hexagons. She looked as if she might collapse at any moment, if not for the haunting fear that kept her eyes wide open and her fingers racing.

“Please…” Satya began in a whisper as she watched Sombra’s worsening condition with anguish, “please tell me when I am allowed to…”

Before Satya could complete the request, Sombra’s free hand had taken hers. She felt the hacker tense noticeably at the contact and remembered, with a wince, that it was the hand that had been burned. She tried to release her grip, but Sombra only held on more tightly until she had finished with the terminal. When she had, and the two moved to cross the second threshold, walking briskly through another wide hangar toward the west bridge, Sombra let go and moved the arm up over Satya’s shoulders. The architech mirrored the gesture, pulling the two of them together and leaning her head in close enough that her right cheek pressed warmly against Sombra’s left.

The explosion was less a sudden blast and more a gradual buildup of energy, coalescing in a sharp burst that echoed throughout the facility behind them. At that moment, all the lights in the complex flickered out, including the rows of streetlamps that had illuminated the four bridges.

Satya felt Sombra’s strength giving way and let the hacker slump into her shoulder, pushing forward for the both of them as they headed across the bridge toward the opened west gate. The dim orange glow of the massive heat lamps provided the only visible detail along the silhouette of the outer perimeter, rising up against the moonlit sky.

As the dust settled on a world thrown into chaos, eight travelers disappeared into the night.

Chapter Text

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special report. Moments ago, an explosion destroyed a popular gambling resort in Monaco. Details are still unclear, but what we can see is the clear devastation left in the wake of the blast. First responders are still en-route to the scene, but it’s already apparent there are significant casualties in both the building and the surrounding area.

Winston’s eyes widened in horror as he watched the unfolding scene on the large monitor. Smoke billowed from the fragmented wreckage, the lower portions of several stone columns rising from the rubble to form a perimeter around what had once been the structure’s outer walls. Beyond them, more debris tumbled down neat slopes, nearly obscuring the stone steps that bordered the raised platform the building had rested upon.

As he recovered from the initial shock, the scientist slowly withdrew his arm from the ceiling, allowing the foam-like tile to slide from atop his broad knuckles and back into proper alignment with the others. He carefully fell to a sitting position in the large chair he had been standing on, then kicked one of his prehensile feet along the floor to propel himself away from the corner. Along the table in the center of the room, the gorilla had a clearer view of the large monitor that was normally used for mission briefings.

“Athena, what do we know about this?” Winston asked, stunned.

Winston…” the AI began, a solemn urgency evident in her voice. “I’ve detected thirty-six detonations across the globe, all having occurred nearly simultaneously.”

Sure enough, the news footage cut out suddenly, replaced with aerial footage of several buildings at the edge of an expanse of open water, along with the remnants of a massive, ornate stone structure now sinking beneath rippling waves. Several of the buildings further inland had clearly been damaged as well, and before Winston’s very eyes, a large section of the ground gave out, falling into the water and taking more than half of another building with it.

We’ve just received this footage of the aftermath of a second explosion in the Rialto district of Venice, Italy, where even the reinforced structural supports supplied by the recent preservation efforts seem to have now been rendered unstable. It’s still unclear whether the two incidents are related, but the timing here seems unlikely to be a coincidence. Both occurred at – what?

The footage shifted again to a wide shot taken out across the water. Winston moved to adjust his rectangular-framed glasses, but as if on cue, the footage zoomed in to clearly show smoke rising from a partially collapsed stone structure at the edge of a cliff face. Large sections of rubble were still crumbling and falling to the water below.

It appears another explosion near Venice has claimed a historic hillside manor overlooking the city. It is still unknown whether this building was occupied, but… are you sure… is… oh my… this… We’ve just received reports of three additional explosions, wait… four? What? I don’t…

A brief snarl of rage twisted onto Winston’s face, his fang-like canines just visible between his tensed lips. “Who did this, Athena? Is this Talon?”

Several news outlets are reporting that the Sombra Collective has taken responsibility for the attacks, but after reviewing our own archived files, I find their admission suspect.”

Winston’s building rage abated, replaced by curious interest as his gaze was drawn to several of the smaller, surrounding monitors where Athena had brought up a world map and several archived files from Overwatch and Blackwatch.

While several sites of detonation, including the Vishkar employee housing in Rio de Janeiro, fit Sombra’s established motive of targeting corrupt institutions, most do not. Additionally, only nine of the attacks were carried out in public venues, and while casualties already number in the hundreds, they remain relatively low for a coordinated strike of this scale. Most of the explosions occurred at isolated locales with no prior evidence of habitation.”

“And the files? Why did you show me these?” Winston asked, though even as he spoke the words, the data on the display in front of him had already begun to reveal the answer.

Fifteen of the target locations already have extensive documentation in our records. Specifically, known or suspected ties to Talon.”

The scientist processed that for a moment, running through potential explanations. “Is this… infighting? Sombra striking against current associates?”

I find that highly unlikely.”

Winston gave an odd look to Athena’s stylized ‘A’ logo, displayed on one of the monitors. “Then… what would you presume to be the likely scenario, in your best estimation?”

I have nothing to offer beyond speculation, but there is something else that may be relevant.”

“Athena? If you think it’s important, I’d like to hear it.”

I have had to defend this watchpoint, and many others, against repeated digital intrusion by a single individual, one whose hacking ability rivals my defenses to the degree that I am often required to force a stalemate until they withdraw of their own accord. I have since determined that this individual is in association with Sombra, though the intrusions into Overwatch’s systems far predate the hacker collective’s public presence. Although today’s attacks may be easily construed as a more extreme direction for an organization that prides itself on rooting out corruption, I have long suspected that the true nature of Sombra may be distinct from what is widely believed.”

That peaked the scientist’s curiosity. “What are you saying?”

If my suspicions are correct, it is unlikely that Sombra possesses the numbers and global distribution required to have coordinated today’s attacks. They have never displayed a presence beyond the confines of the digital sphere, and it is my hypothesis that the individual I have mentioned is responsible for the actions that have thus far been attributed to a larger collective. The abilities the individual displayed in my prior encounters with them would certainly be sufficient to accomplish every known Sombra hack without assistance.”

“That definitely fits Talon’s MO,” Winston agreed, his head nodding slightly at Athena’s reasoning. “I always thought it was odd that they’d work so closely with a hacker group, but another agent with unconventional abilities? It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. But then… why take the blame for something like this?”

My first hypothesis was a coup from within Talon, engineered so Sombra would take the fall on the world stage, but even that explanation doesn’t fit the data. The attack was far too vast to be a clearing of leadership. Given the number of facilities targeted, it is likely Talon has experienced a drastic reduction in personnel and resources, if not a total loss.”

“I concur. Evidence suggests we may be dealing with a third party, possibly one with a source of intel from within Talon itself. Someone high enough in the hierarchy to identify and provide access to every one of their facilities. They might be a rival group, a splinter faction, maybe even some sort of would-be vigilantes, but whoever they are…”

Winston paused, his gaze falling again on the news broadcast. The monitor now displayed footage of bodies being pulled from the rubble in Monaco, the remnants of the stone columns reaching into the sky like so many splintered bones protruding from the tattered wreckage.

“They’re not on our side, not even if they want to be,” the scientist continued, solemnly but sternly, with equal parts righteous fury and ominous, growing dread. “They might have rid the world of Talon, but not even Blackwatch would have allowed this to be the price of victory. This is… something else. Something darker, and I’m afraid it might be just the beginning.”

I believe we may soon receive further clarification,” Athena provided, “I have been attempting to contact Lena and her team for several minutes.”

“What? Where are they?” Winston gasped with a start, turning quickly to face Athena’s sigil. “They didn’t get caught in this, did they?”

No, they are currently assisting Ms. Zaryanova with a security matter at the Volskaya facility. The compound’s perimeter seems to interfere with all signals from outside.”

“Are they alright?”

I cannot be certain, but I now suspect that the breach they have been called to investigate may be connected to today’s attacks. Over the last several days, I have collected… data that support my conclusions about the nature of Sombra, and that suggest this person may be involved in the current situation at the Volskaya facility.”

“What kind of data?” Winston asked, his urgency faltering only slightly as, noting the AI’s not-so subtle pause, he narrowed his eyes with growing skepticism. His ears were just able to detect the pronounced sigh in Athena’s voice as she made her reply.

The kind that still manages to come as a shock to me, though my extended service with Overwatch should have made me quite accustomed to the idea at this point. Needless to say, there is a chance that Overwatch may have a… rather close association with Sombra in the near future.”

Winston held a large hand to his forehead, letting out a long sigh of his own. “Lena…”

Not Lena this time.”

“I’m… not sure if that’s better, or worse.”

Winston,” Athena began suddenly, “I have made contact.”

The scientist shifted to attention. “With Lena? Is everyone alright?”

Hold on, she is… she has instructed me that… we must act as if she and her team are missing in action. That it is imperative that no one be aware of their survival.”

“…What?” Winston asked in stunned confusion. “This is Overwatch. Our agents can’t just… pretend to be dead whenever they feel like it. That would be insanity. What’s going on?”

It seems serious, Winston,” Athena said with the same solemn urgency as before. “I’m not sure Lena is entirely clear on the details herself, but she has told me to tell you… they’re invisible.’”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

I suspect it may be related to our hypothetical third party. Winston, they… they seem exhausted. Frightened, even, and they have sustained injuries. I do not think any of them are in a condition to explain fully.”

Winston tensed at the mention of injuries. “Give them time, then, but I’ll expect a full report as soon as possible. For now, enact our ‘agent missing’ protocols.” He paused, considering something else. “And… institute Waterfowl Contingency, as well.”

I was about to relay a request from Lena, to that effect. On the subject, however, there is something else you should be made aware of, and I must assure you, I am not happy about it.”

“…What is it, Athena?” Winston asked with narrowed eyes.

In addition to Lena, Genji, and the four recruits, I am evidently now to escort two additional passengers, both formerly of Talon. One of them, I have identified as Sombra, confirming my earlier suspicions.”

Winston sighed heavily. “And the other?” he asked, though he strongly suspected he already knew the answer.

Amélie Lacroix.”

Winston’s palm returned to his forehead. “I… really hope she knows what she’s doing.”

I will keep you apprised of any new developments.”

“Call in the others,” Winston began, turning his chair toward the door, “We need to catch everyone up to speed, and I’m putting the Watchpoint on lockdown until further notice. I’ll see what I can do about some sonic resolution motion sensors in the meantime. And… one last thing.” He slowly turned back to face the monitors.

Yes, Winston?

“Whatever this is… keep them safe.”

Of course, Winston.”

Chapter Text

Satya took deep, slow breaths, her right arm held tightly around Sombra’s shoulders. The two of them sat in the fourth and fifth seats of the passenger row along the left wall of the Porpoise. Satya’s visor and photon projector rested to her left, in the third seat. Her shoulders still felt slightly sore as she rested them against the soft backrest, but the worst of the pain had abated.

Sombra was frantically sorting through a series of files, much too quickly for Satya to interpret any of the text documents or images that flashed across the floating, purple-tinted screens. The hacker seemed especially frustrated at only being able to use one hand, her injured left resting, unmoving, atop her knee.

At the other end of the bench, Zarya occupied the first seat and a portion of the second. She was clutching at her forehead as she leaned out to look between the front seats. She had communicated that she knew of somewhere isolated where the group could hide away for a time, and no one had offered any alternate suggestions, so she was currently giving intermittent directions to Lena, despite the fact that she had been made aware of Athena’s control over the vehicle.

Lena was, like usual, in the front right seat, her eyes locked on the blurry, green-tinted view of the road ahead. None of the vehicle’s exterior lights were on, and all the windows were currently displaying the feed from what were presumably night-vision cameras somewhere on the exterior. It was difficult to gauge Lena’s emotional state. She seemed to be remaining calm, but with her, that did not always mean she was alright.

Zenyatta sat opposite Zarya, in the first seat of the right-side passenger bench. He was perfectly still, his gaze falling to his left where Lúcio was repairing Genji’s leg. The nine orbs rested around his neck, having returned there after Satya had dismissed the stretcher and Genji had been helped to his seat.

Lúcio, in the second seat on the right side, had pulled a set of tools from his backpack and was fast at work. He had explained that he wouldn’t be a very good field medic, these days if he hadn’t acquired basic mechanical repair skills. Given that six of the eight present passengers relied on cybernetics, prosthetic or otherwise, Satya was inclined to agree with his assessment.

Genji, in the third seat on the right side, was closely examining his mangled right hand, assessing the damage. He was missing both of his scabbards, which had been restocked with his swords and deposited in the rear storage bay along with Zarya’s particle cannon.

In the fifth seat on the right side, Widowmaker sat unmoving, the collapsed form of her rifle still clutched firmly in her grasp. Her expression was blank as her gaze fell rather disconcertingly on Sombra, who she sat directly across from, but it appeared more like she was simply staring off into space than paying any particular attention to the hacker. Sombra, for her part, didn’t seem at all bothered, or even attentive.

“Hey, Athena?” Sombra asked unexpectedly, interrupting the somber silence as she briefly looked up from her screens.

There was no response.

“Okay yeah, that makes sense,” the hacker continued with faint traces of guilt in her voice, “just… this vehicle has photo-manipulative cells on every exterior surface, correct?”

After a long pause, Athena responded with a dry, bitter “Affirmative.”

“It can change color, right?” Sombra queried, “and hide what’s inside, but… it can’t actually turn invisible, can it?”

No, it cannot.”

Sombra raised an eyebrow. “Do you want it to?”

There was another long pause. “Very well.”

Sombra seemed taken aback by the AI’s response, but after a moment’s hesitation, set her right hand against the wall behind her. Magenta lines spread across a portion of the interior wall, lingered for a moment, then faded.

“Just gave you the adaptive algorithms from my tech, shouldn’t put any added strain on the system.”

Acknowledged,” Athena said flatly. “Engaging stealth mode.”

Satya couldn’t tell, from inside, whether or not it had worked, but Athena didn’t offer any complaints, so she presumed it must have been successful.

Sombra went back to her screens, but seemed distracted for another long moment. “I’m surprised you let me do that,” she said without looking up.

My primary concern at this moment is the safety of my passengers,” Athena said with a hint of condescension. “I am willing to entertain any possibilities that may further that goal.”

“Well, thank you for that,” Sombra offered in reply, the hint of a smile on her lips.

I was not including you in that statement, Sombra.”

Sombra’s smile twisted into a satisfied smirk for only a moment, before her face fell. She started panning through screens again with her fingers. “Doesn’t change what I said,” she added quietly.

There was silence again as Lúcio shuffled past Genji, moving from the second to the fourth seat and hesitantly looking over the long gash across Widowmaker’s collarbone. What traces still remained of the injury vanished almost completely as he cautiously ran his left hand over it, healing waves of sound emanating from the padded fingertips of his glove.

“I… hope that helps, I guess?” the medic stuttered nervously, “Gotta be honest, I have no idea how you’re even alive.”

In the first show of awareness since entering the vehicle, Widowmaker let out something between a scoff of condescension and an exasperated sigh. “How reassuring,” she muttered softly, her thickly-accented voice dripping with enough sarcasm that even Satya found it unmistakable.

Lúcio made his way back toward the front and began repairing Zenyatta’s jaw, and Satya noted that Genji’s gaze had now been lingering on Sombra for some time, his expression unreadable.

“If… if I may ask…” the cyborg began with some hesitation, the line of his visor still fixed on the occupied hacker.

Sombra looked up from her work, a sadness already apparent in her eyes.

“That… man in the mask,” Genji continued. “Reaper. That was…”

Sombra nodded with intermittently closed eyes as she lowered her gaze, letting out a quick sigh.

“Yeah, it was.”

Something about the heartbreak in Sombra’s voice made Satya squeeze more tightly around her shoulders. She cautiously placed her prosthetic hand on the hacker’s upper left arm, unsure of how far along the limb the damage extended. It was strange to think Sombra would have cared so deeply for the man who had so callously threatened her life, yet it was obvious she was struggling to hold back tears.

Genji seemed to notice as well, averting his gaze and relaxing his attentive posture. “Perhaps another time.”

Sombra returned to her screens, scanning through what turned out to be the last of the files she’d obtained from the destroyed omnic. After she’d finished, she shifted in her seat, motioning for Satya to release her injured arm. The architech complied, and Sombra reached her right hand up her left sleeve. In a practiced motion, she rolled the long glove down to just above the black, flexible elbow-pad that marked the end of the external wiring. The smooth, caramel-colored skin of her upper arm appeared untouched, but as she slid the glove off entirely, Satya winced suddenly at the visible, threadlike burns running along the path of her glove’s wiring from her elbow to her fingertips.

“Lúcio!” Satya called out in concern, catching the DJ’s attention as she turned to face him.

“It’s okay!” Sombra quickly placated, resignation in her voice. “It doesn’t… it doesn’t really hurt anymore.”

Upon closer inspection, the burn seemed at a rather advanced stage of healing, likely due to Lúcio’s earlier treatment. Sombra held her forearm out in front of her, visibly wincing as she examined the lines marring her skin.

It occurred to Satya, as her eyes fell on five neatly-clipped purple nails, that she had never seen Sombra’s hands before. She wasn’t certain they would be fully organic, but all of the technology on the hacker’s left forearm, including the longer nails and their associated mechanisms, appeared to be part of the glove she now rolled up and stowed away in her coat.

After a moment, Sombra seemed to notice Satya’s attentive gaze and offered her a small smile, holding the limb out to the architech with her palm facing downward.

Satya examined the gesture with confusion until the hacker tilted her head back, gesturing twice to the arm that currently rested behind her neck. “It’s okay,” she whispered.

Oh.

Satya removed her right arm from Sombra’s shoulders to align her own organic hand under Sombra’s. Careful to avoid the burned areas, she slowly interlaced their fingers, a warmth welling inside her as she securely held Sombra’s hand in hers.

All things considered, Satya had found it rather easy to stop being concerned about what the others might think of her closeness with the hacker. She supposed she was still in shock, as most of her companions seemed to be, but there was something else, too. Whatever that eye sigil had meant, whatever this was, they were in it together now. The idea of keeping anything secret from the group felt somehow wasteful. An expense of energy that was critically needed elsewhere.

But most of all, Satya could not bear to let Sombra feel alone, even for a moment. Calming the hacker was, of course, necessary to the mission – her knowledge of their enemy, though she had concealed it even from Satya up to this point, would now be essential – but Satya had, predictably, taken to the task with an enthusiasm that far exceeded her duty as an Overwatch agent. Sombra needed her, now more than she ever had, and that alone was enough for Satya to cast aside her usual need to keep everything locked away.

Eventually, Satya felt a slight discomfort at the perspiration building between their clasped hands. She had decided she would continue the contact, regardless, but Sombra was the first to pull away, offering Satya another bleak smile as she offered her right, gloved hand instead. Satya returned the smile, taking the outstretched hand in her prosthetic and returning her right arm to around Sombra’s shoulders.

After a moment of staring into the hacker’s warm but so very frightened eyes, Satya let out a pained sniffle and pulled her close, her breaths heavy with welling emotion as Sombra settled into her shoulder. A fragmented chorus of quiet, desperate hums escaped from behind Satya’s closed lips as she held Sombra’s huddled form against hers, feeling the woman’s every uneven breath. After a long, calming moment, the architech adjusted the placement of her arm so she could gently massage Sombra’s scalp with her fingertips. The gesture elicited a slight purr of comfort through what was otherwise quiet sobbing.

Satya remained like that for some time, running one set of fingers through purple hair while the other was clasped tightly around a gloved hand. Sombra’s breathing slowed to a regular pattern as she relaxed into a deep sleep, and the architech kept dutiful watch over the hacker’s unconscious form pressed against her.




It was already getting bright outside, the morning light glistening on the snow as their vehicle passed through seemingly untouched mountain landscape, when Satya dared to again face the other passengers.

With trepidation, she raised her head and set her gaze to a slow pan around the vehicle’s interior, unsure of what reaction she should prepare herself for. Widowmaker offered a simple, condescendingly raised eyebrow, though Satya was quite sure she saw amusement in the sniper’s focused eyes and slightly quirked lips.

Genji’s and Zenyatta’s faces were, as usual, unreadable, though Satya already knew she would at least have nothing to fear from the monk. Lúcio shifted rather awkwardly as Satya’s gaze met his, then offered a confused but endearing thumbs-up.

Zarya… appeared as if she quite possibly hadn’t at all looked away from the front windshield during the several hours they had been driving, but Satya could clearly see the stupid grin that scrawled across Lena’s face as the architech and the pilot locked eyes through the rearview mirror.

Satya was certain she was blushing.

Sombra shifted in her sleep, murmuring something unintelligible as her muscles tensed in a way that filled Satya with concern. The hacker’s breathing quickened as her struggling grew more intense, her lips quivering with repetitions of pained pleading.

“No! No no no it can’t…”

“Sombra!” Satya commanded with urgency. In an instant, Sombra drew herself back, sitting upright and away from the architech as her widened eyes darted frantically across her immediate surroundings. “It’s alright. We’re safe,” Satya continued as she took a hesitant hold of the hacker’s shoulder, squeezing tightly into the embrace their hands still shared.

Sombra’s eyes locked with Satya’s, and after a moment she relaxed her stiffened posture, though the haunted look remained in her eyes. “I… don’t think anyone is safe,” she managed with a gentle sigh. “Not from them.”

We are approaching Ms. Zaryanova’s coordinates,” Athena announced from overhead.

The tension from the previous moment seemed to thankfully abate as the others’ attention turned to the windows. Satya still noticed nothing but snow and mountains, though her focus remained divided.

“Look for the ridge with three stone peaks,” Zarya offered, apparently reciting the description from memory.

“So… what is this place anyway?” Lúcio asked, confusion on his face as he stared out into bare wilderness. “I mean, this is definitely isolated, but it seems a little… how do I say this…”

“Survival bunker,” Zarya began without breaking her stoic tone. “Self-sustaining underground living, built after the Omnic Crisis and designed to ride out another. As it happened, the project was completed shortly before the omnium’s reactivation. All who knew of it were killed in the first wave of attacks.”

“Sooo… how did you know about it, love?” Lena asked with curiosity and an air of slight suspicion.

“A… resourceful acquaintance of mine gave me the location. It—they told me I could stay here, if I found that I could no longer remain with Volskaya.”

Lena seemed to only have further questions. “Then why didn’t you? If you had this lined up, I mean. Why go with Overwatch instead?”

“Hiding away while my country suffers? Unthinkable. It would be the coward’s way.” Zarya huffed in resigned frustration. “Though, I suppose that is the option we are now left with.”

Sure enough, their current course took the Porpoise up a shallow slope, three prominent rocky outcroppings overhanging a valley to their left, while a steep mountainside towered to their right.

“Stop here,” Zarya commanded as they slowed to a halt in between the two geological features. “The entry code is…” She let out a long sigh. “…‘she didn’t tell me you were observant.’”

After a muffled repetition, apparently the result of Athena broadcasting a recording through the external speakers, part of the mountainside began to shift. A dusting of snow fell from the disturbance as a large section of rock slid aside, revealing a dark tunnel. The Porpoise proceeded along a flat, paved roadway, headlights illuminating what turned out to be a relatively short distance through excavated rock into a large, open room bordered by thick metal plating. Artificial lights flickered on from above as the distant glow from the entrance vanished, the stone door sliding closed again. A smaller set of metal doors at the center of the left wall opened into a shorter, furnished hallway, beyond which another large room became visible as lights powered on in the rest of the facility.

The group exited the vehicle and proceeded out of what seemed to be the garage and into what seemed to be the beginning of the living space. The journey was punctuated with an odd silence, only occasionally interrupted by a faint mechanical sound – the three sections of Widowmaker’s recon visor sliding together or apart as the sniper scanned each new area of the facility.

The second room was about the same size as the first, but the walls lacked the bare, metallic surfacing and were instead decorated with a photorealistic depiction of a snowy, mountainous landscape not unlike the actual view outside. Satya had seen similar holographic displays in several offices at Vishkar, and supposed the physical prints here provided a less costly way of creating the same effect. The only visible metal floor was a perpendicularly crossed set of walkways, one a direct path from the short entryway across to another longer hallway on the opposite side, and the other connecting two doorways centered on the right and left walls. Where the two paths crossed in the center of the room stood four rectangular pillars, one at each inner corner.

The four smaller squares created at the corners of the room by the intersecting paths were adorned with off-white carpeting and furnished with grey-upholstered couches along the corner walls. Each small lounge area had a round table of dark stained wood and three matching wooden chairs, spaced in neat curves, opposite the couches, in the corners between the tables and the pillars.

From the recessed, intricate alcoves in the sides of the central pillars, the matching patterns connecting them in a square pattern on the ceiling, and those bordering each of the four entrances, it was clear that this room could be both sealed off from the other areas of the facility and itself divided into nine sealed sections by what were presumably blast doors waiting to be deployed.

The door to the left opened into a small area with several desks and a convoluted series of computer monitors, likely the security room. The door to the right opened into another short hallway like the one the group had walked through, seeming to end in a room that very closely resembled the garage but was cluttered with a series of reinforced storage crates.

They proceeded directly across the large room to the opposite door, which led down a longer hallway and past several rooms, including what seemed to be a kitchen and a dining area. At the end was a smaller common room, one whose carpeting was a dark, greyish blue and whose walls depicted the open water of an ocean. The room was rectangular instead of square, the group having entered at the edge of one of the longer sides with most of the room stretching out to their right.

The left wall was lined with bookshelves, roughly half of the visible titles clearly in Russian, while the right side of the room opened into three separate hallways, one at the center of the wall and the others running left and right from the corners. Three dark wood, low oval tables were spaced evenly throughout the room, their longer diameters perpendicular to the room’s longest dimension. Each table was enclosed between two grey couches, identical to those in the previous room.

“Okay so…” Lena began once everyone in the group had stalled near the center of the room, an audible exhaustion in her strained voice, “everyone meet back here in… as soon as you can, I guess. We need to get this all sorted.”




It turned out that the three hallways along the far edge of the room formed a wide trident-like pattern, with the right and left hallways both eventually angling sharply to run parallel to the central one. Another, perpendicular hallway connected the points, and the entire arrangement served as access to a series of spacious living quarters.

Having deposited her suitcase, visor, and projector in one of the rooms, but deciding to remain in the rest of her combat attire for the time being, Satya was the third back to the common area, though she suspected Sombra and Widowmaker hadn’t left the room to begin with.

Widowmaker met Satya’s eyes as she entered, the sniper having taken up residence on the opposite couch in the middle seating arrangement, at the end nearest what had been the far wall when they all had entered the room for the first time. Sombra sat across the table, her back to Satya as she rested at the end of the near couch in the same grouping.

Satya slowly circumnavigated the room, taking a seat in the middle of Sombra’s couch. Widowmaker had followed her movements in a way that rattled Satya’s nerves, but the sniper’s face remained expressionless. Sombra seemed afflicted with a similar blank stare, acknowledging Satya’s presence with a smile so faint it was barely a flicker at the corner of her lips.

A series of loud whooshing sounds and a staggered trail of blue light across the entire length of the room made all three women jump in surprise. Satya turned to watch the chronal accelerator’s aftereffects disappear through the entryway, noting that both of her companions had turned their attention there as well.

“…Should I ask?” Sombra began with notes of incredulity.

Satya sighed, shaking her head. “As if I had the faintest clue.”

After a few moments, the disturbance repeated itself, this time traveling in the opposite direction, from the entryway and clear into one of the hallways. Distant repetitions of Lena’s blinking sound indicated a semi-frantic search through the maze of rooms.

Sombra shrugged with partially upturned palms in a show of defeat just as the blinking grew louder again, Lena retracing her initial path through the common area and back to the entryway. Widowmaker’s stoic grimace finally broke into an exasperated eye-roll. “Does she ever slow down?” she drawled with a slight shake of her head.

Satya returned the eye-roll. “You should see her when we’re not getting along.”

Seconds later, Zarya emerged from the series of hallways, huffing in clear annoyance as she walked briskly through the room and toward the entryway Lena had disappeared through.

“So, uh… this the big underground resistance meeting?” Lúcio queried with hesitant nonchalance as he led Genji and Zenyatta to the center table. Lúcio and Genji settled at the other end of Widowmaker’s couch, Zenyatta hovering just beyond the armrest as if taking an additional seat.

“I… guess I’m ready whenever,” Sombra said with a resigned sigh. “I just… hope you all realize how fucking huge this shit is you’re getting into.”

“Pretty sure we’re already into it,” Lúcio corrected, “and the bigger they are, they more it’s gonna hurt when we knock ‘em down.” He pointedly slammed a fist into an open palm.

“This isn’t like Vishkar. That was one company, and you couldn’t even finish the job. With this… you’ll be knocking until you knock down the whole fucking world if they let you get that far.”

“Well… that’s what Overwatch is for, isn’t it? Fix all the messed-up shit in the world? That’s what Lena says anyway.” Lúcio’s gaze darted around the room, before he got up to look over the back of the couch. “Where is Lena?”

“She appears to be doing something in the other rooms,” Satya approximated when no one else seemed to have an answer. “Something for which she required Zarya’s assistance.”

“Oh,” Lúcio said with a note of uneasiness. He seemed to consider something for a moment. “Hey, Satya?” he began with hesitance, his voice pointedly lowered as he quickly shot another glance over his shoulder. “…watch out for her. Zarya, I mean. She’s kinda… uh, not great.”

Satya noticed the slight, uncomfortable shift in Genji’s posture, and didn’t have to guess.

“She’s a work in progress,” Sombra added with a slight grin, “whatever shit she says, don’t take it personally.”

“I… will be sure to keep that in mind.”

Satya knew the type, of course, and she also knew ‘not taking it personally’ never helped in the slightest. She was immediately thankful for Lena’s position of authority over the group, as well as the authority Sombra would likely have due to her expertise, as without those reassurances, the idea of owing Zarya respect for having provided their current accommodations would have been unbearable.

After another few moments of silence, Lena happily paraded a large metal tray into the room, followed by Zarya carrying another tray.

“I figured we might be here for a bit,” Lena announced as she set one of the trays on the table. It was populated with a series of unevenly cooked assemblages of bread and cheese that only approximated sandwiches.

“The labels were in Russian,” Zarya informed the group as she set down the second tray. “I only translated. I take no responsibility for this.”

Satya constructed a hardlight fork and collected a sample of Lena’s work, observing its unsettling structure with morbid curiosity. “I… appreciate the attempt,” was the only compliment she could manage to give.

“Hey, I do better when I have directions, okay?” Lena remarked, making a rather exaggerated show of being insulted.

As Satya began the process of constructing hardlight plates and utensils for herself and anyone who requested them, she briefly locked eyes with Widowmaker. In that fleeting moment, she could have sworn she saw the ghost of a smile at the corner of the assassin’s dark blue lips.

Zarya took a seat at the end of Sombra and Satya’s couch, while Lena blinked out of the room, reappearing moments later with one of the wooden chairs from further back and placing it at the head of the table, between Zarya and Lúcio and near where Zenyatta hovered. Satya couldn’t help but note that they’d basically reassumed their seating arrangements from the ride over.

After everyone had settled in, Sombra shifted nervously in her seat, looking to Lena for instruction.

“Whenever you’re ready,” the pilot replied, bringing out her phone as if ready to take notes.

“Okay,” Sombra weakly acknowledged, taking a deep breath. Satya placed a hand on her shoulder, a gesture the that caused the hacker to return a small, bleak smile as she started to stand. Satya’s hand slid back down to rest on her own knee as Sombra took a few steps away from the end of the couch and stood near the large, ocean-decorated wall.

“So…” Sombra began nervously as all eyes settled on her, “…normally this is the part where I’d say there’s no going back from this. You can’t put this genie back in the bottle. Once I show you this…” She let out a long sigh. “But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.”

With a wave of the long-nailed fingers on her gloved right hand, a large, pale purple hexagon appeared in the air in front of the wall, her sugar skull sigil prominently displayed on it. After a moment’s hesitation, she slowly placed her palm over the sigil.

A purple line drew itself up and to the right, where a larger hexagon appeared, and Satya shuddered as the eye sigil she had seen in the omnic’s lens took a place at its center. More lines spread out from the eye, creating more and more hexagons and a massive web of connection. In the immediate, large-sized hexagons directly linked to the eye, Satya recognized the symbols for Overwatch and Talon, the company logos for LumériCo and Volskaya industries, and the flag of Numbani.

Smaller hexagons showed Lena, Winston, and Genji linked to Overwatch, Widowmaker linked to Talon, and Reaper linked to both. After some searching, she was able to locate herself, Sanjay, and Vishkar farther off to the upper left, with Vishkar being linked to LumériCo through a man she assumed was the latter company’s CEO.

“…Wait, how did that Soldier: 76 guy know Jack Morrison?” Lena asked suddenly, with an air of confusion.

“So, that is Volskaya’s contact, I presume?” Zarya noted with a hint of derision, though it was difficult to discern to whom it was directed.

Sombra lightly sighed again, taking a step aside as she gestured widely toward the map.

“So… ready to find out who runs the world?”

Chapter Text

“I don’t even know their name,” Sombra began, seemingly unable to look away from the symbol at the center of her digital web. “Just this. This eye.” She sighed, visibly shuddering.

“Almost two decades ago, I hacked something I shouldn’t have,” she continued, the shadow of a tremble in her voice. “I found them, buried deep in the darkest corners of the net. They had some kind of defense, a surge that fried my tech, and… I saw it.” She finally looked away, extending a long nail toward the eye instead. “That symbol. My tech’s better now, but…” she glanced down at her ungloved, scarred left arm, “I guess theirs is better, too… or just always was.”

Sombra’s gaze then darted nervously around the room. Satya sensed something deeply apologetic, even frightened, in her expression and posture as their eyes met. Something that continued as Sombra took in each member of her audience individually. “Everything since that day has been… whatever I could do to disappear. Whatever it took to find them, before they could find me again.” She let out a long sigh. “I’m not asking you to forgive me or some shit like that, just… that’s why.”

Satya chanced a quick look back at the others. Zarya still had a clearly skeptical look about her, but Lena’s eyes were wide with what seemed to be a pained look of sympathy. Lúcio had a similar expression, albeit relatively subdued.

“They have connections to pretty much everywhere,” Sombra continued, seeming more collected as she indicated the relevant areas of the diagram. “LumériCo’s a big part of their funding, and their main doorway into the world economy. They were my first target, to try to hit that damn eye where it hurt. I thought Portero might be involved, but… well, I’m pretty sure he knows something, but whatever the link is, I don’t think it’s him directly.”

“Wait, are you saying…” Lena interrupted, seeming especially preoccupied with another area of the chart. “They have links to all these places, even Overwatch?

“Overwatch, Talon…” Sombra began to elaborate with an amused smirk, briefly interrupted by an anticipatory wince. “Get them both together, that’s a whole lot of power over the direction of the world, and they’ve had their hands in your little game for quite some time. You ever figure out who was behind the Swiss Base explosion?”

Lena’s eyes went wider, a silent “wha…” forming on her lips.

“I suspected it all along, but last night’s attacks confirmed it.”

“But… why? What would they have to gain?”

“Lots of things, probably,” Sombra curled up her wrist to count off on long fingernails. “Get Overwatch outlawed, shut down the research Dr. Ziegler was doing there, maybe even provide cover so they could steal it for themselves… I can’t give you a clear answer at this point, and I’m not even the only person I know who’s been trying to find that out.”

Sombra cast a brief look at Widowmaker, then seemed to nervously brace herself before she continued. “The whole time I’ve been working with Talon, I’ve been trying to find their connection to the eye. There’s… there was someone on the inside with the power to pull a lot of strings, maybe even someone on the high council, but I could never figure out who it was.”

Widowmaker, for her part, didn’t seem surprised in the least by the admission. If anything, her slightly smug expression spoke of a satisfied vindication.

“Wait…” Lena’s eyes widened. “They said… didn’t they say it was Doomfist that was messing with their plans?”

Ooh, I know where you’re going with that,” Sombra began with some surprise and the hint of a smile, “Max was my first guess, too.” Her posture slackened as she feigned disappointment. “No dice, there, it turns out – heh – but he was definitely on their payroll. Blowing an entire organization off the face of the Earth absolutely wasn’t their first plan, and Max made a killing from flipping on Akande way back when, but the paper trail went cold after a few proxies. He never knew who was paying him, which isn’t much of a surprise if you’ve seen the numbers.”

Lena’s expression softened in disappointment, and after a pause, Sombra moved on. She indicated the lower left area of the map, where a forked line connected the eye to both the Volskaya Industries logo and the Numbani flag.

“If LumériCo’s their cash cow, Volskaya and Numbani are, collectively, their R&D division. There’s some kind of feedback loop between the two, repurposed omnic tech going through revision after revision. I’ve found design signatures from Numbani in Volskaya’s tech, and vice versa, like an unwitting innovation exchange to make even more advanced weaponry.” She shot a look at Zarya, one filled with hesitation. “Omniums don’t just give their tech to the enemy. Unless, of course, someone told them to.”

“Are you saying… this group, is involved with the omnium?” Zarya asked with a clear scowl.

“More than likely, they’re controlling it. Keeping it churning out war machines so Volskaya keeps having to think outside the box.”

A haunted look had spread across Zarya’s face. “But… how would they even do such a thing? Reactivate an omnium?”

Sombra lightly sighed, pausing for a moment as if to give her next words their proper emphasis.

“Probably the same way they did it to all of them thirty years ago.”

The whole room went quiet. For the first time, it seemed to fully sink in how absolutely this group Sombra was describing had irrevocably altered the course of history and shaped the lives of everyone in that room.

It was almost thirty-three years ago, when it had started. Satya had memorized the dates. Genji was thirty-five. Widowmaker was thirty-three. Herself and Zarya were twenty-eight. Lena and Lúcio were twenty-six. Zenyatta was twenty. And she knew Sombra was somewhere in the late-twenties-to-early-thirties range. Of the eight of them present, none would have been old enough to remember much of a time before.

“So, this is really it then.” Lena interrupted the stunned silence with a resignation that was strange for her. “The big one. The bastards behind the damn Omnic Crisis.”

“Do you have any proof of this?” Zarya asked, still bewildered.

“None that you’d understand, but…” Sombra visibly winced. “I’ve seen a few of the God Programs up-close, the ones they managed to capture intact after the Crisis, and they’re only shells of what they once were. Something’s been… harvesting them. Using pre-existing backdoors to extract sections of their code. That’s what happened to make Anubis go berserk last year.”

Pre-existing? ” Lena emphasized. “You mean, something from before? From when they were made?”

“There’s nothing on this planet that could’ve done that to a God Program just by hacking it, not even another God Program. My tech is advanced enough to the point of having the same immunity, and even I have trouble with Athena. If someone wanted to mess with their systems like what I saw… they’d have to have put the right access pathways in from the beginning.”

Lena still seemed confused. “So, the only thing that can resist a God program… is another God Program?”

“Pretty much, yeah,” Sombra confirmed. Her gaze then fell oddly on Zenyatta. “Oh, and the Shambali have some kind of magical protection, or whatever. Can’t get controlled like other omnics can.”

Everyone appeared to glance at the monk for confirmation. “Really?” Lena asked with genuine curiosity, “That true, love?”

“Indeed,” Zenyatta replied simply, after a short and subtle pause.

“So, if I am drawing the correct conclusion,” began Genji, “this unknown enemy… created the God Programs, and intended to recover something from within each of them once the Crisis had ended.”

“So, you are listening.” A small, unsteady smirk formed on Sombra’s lips, and she lightly threw her hand out to the side and flourished into a shrug. “Obviously, some of the programs never made it through the Crisis, and it’s been taking them decades to get their hands on the rest. But all the ones that disappeared right at the end? I’d give you one guess what happened to them.”

“Is that why they waited to make their play until now?” Lúcio asked with a worried expression. “Think they need all the pieces for whatever they’re planning?”

“I mean, I’m sure there were redundancies; a war isn’t really the place to contar tus pollos, but… I’d say it’s likely. Tough to be sure if their ultimate goals are just to secure themselves where they are or…” Sombra’s expression grew tense. “Or if we’ve only seen the beginning.”

“Well… blimey, that’s a lot to take in.” Lena paused a moment, seeming deep in consideration. “So, um, we’re all here, then. Whadd’re we gonna do about all this?”

Sombra paused, letting out a long sigh. “Well, you’re dead to them, much as I can figure. Lay low, stay off their radar long enough and you might just get to live out the rest of your lives in peace. Sorry, but… it’s the best I could do with what I had.”

“Not gonna happen,” Lena insisted with uncharacteristic sternness.

Sombra huffed a dark laugh, then rolled her eyes in strained exhaustion. “Of course I had to be stuck with Tracer. Can always count on you to jump the gun and play the hero. Were you even listening? This isn’t another one of your run-in-and-shoot-a-bunch-of-bots easy mode missions. It took all eight of us against one soldier, and it only gets tougher from here.”

Looking nervously around the room, at the battered and exhausted members of her team, the pilot’s resolve seemed to falter. With a long sigh, she spoke with measured but stern defiance. “We don’t have to decide this now, but I am not spending the rest of my life in some hole in the ground. But as long as we’re all here and listening… where’d you leave off?”

Sombra appeared oddly startled at the question. “Um… what?”

“Y’know, the next clue,” Lena clarified, quickly but more gently. “What was your next move in all this, even if it was just you takin’ care of it?” She gestured broadly toward the holographic map. “The next piece of this whole big puzzle here. You can at least give us that, can’t you, love?”

Sombra rolled her eyes again, but shrugged lightly and made a flourish of her nails to magnify one of the smaller hexagons toward the left side of her map.

Satya examined the displayed face of a humanoid omnic, forehead adorned with five yellow lights in a cross or diamond-like arrangement. The lower half of the machine’s face extended especially far downward in a narrow trapezoid, another panel outlining it and angling just under the end to form a defined jaw. The overall result was the constant evocation of an amused, horse-like grin.

“If you really want to know, my best lead right now is Atlas Twelve,” Sombra began, gesturing to the image, “the omnic that’s been sharing tech with Volskaya. He’s been doing the same thing with Numbani’s defense division; basically runs the whole weapons exchange between the two of them, as far as I can tell. Volskaya’s supposed to have another meet with him in four days, and last night’s shitshow only made her prioritize her weapons program even more. Now, Atlas might very well have gone to ground, but there’s still a chance he’ll keep the date to avoid suspicion.”

There was a pointed silence throughout the room as the others processed the information.

“So you’re saying…” Lena began suddenly, still seeming occupied with working out the implied plan in her head. “…we go to the meeting, capture this Atlas guy, and find out what he knows?”

“Deceptively simple,” Zenyatta chimed in, “but we must be careful to consider the consequences.”

Genji briefly nodded to the monk before facing the group again. “Indeed, we cannot play our hand before we know we are ready.”

“Exactly,” Sombra acknowledged, “If we screw this up, they’ll know we made it out, and that we’re on to them. If this is really just another weapons deal, I wouldn’t expect anything like that assassin, but I wouldn’t really not expect it either. We need to be able to adapt on the fly, starting with what we already know these advanced omnics are capable of.”

“Did you get any info?” Lena inquired quickly. “From that thing you did?”

“…I couldn’t get a full rundown on its systems,” Sombra admitted, her voice trembling in a way she must have thought was well-concealed. “But you all saw what it could do. Shields, cloaking, that… power surge.” The hacker’s left arm appeared to recoil of its own volition. “It didn’t seem to have too many vulnerabilities it couldn’t adapt to.”

Lena had a somewhat ashamed expression. “I mean, I was pro’lly too busy tryin’ not to die to notice everything it did. I’d like to at least give Winston a more complete report.”

After several long minutes of silent observance, Satya suddenly felt compelled to contribute, partially to alleviate the obvious stress it was putting on Sombra to talk about all this, but also because during their battle, she had formed a mostly complete picture of their assailant’s set of abilities. So, at the pause in conversation, she raised her hand.

The others seemed to look at her rather oddly, and Satya got the distinct sense she had made an error in protocol. “I… apologize,” she began from under the weight of several gazes she feared might have been stingingly condescending, “but I believe I may be able to lead this part of the discussion. I had ample opportunity to observe the assassin-type omnic’s capabilities, as well as its limitations. Would that be… of assistance?”

“Uh… sure, love,” Lena offered with confusion in her voice. “Go right ahead.”

Sombra seemed relieved, giving Satya a brief, hesitant smile of thanks as she retook her previous seat next to the architech, though settling in rather more closely than before.

“Obviously, the omnic’s personal shielding presented us the most difficulty, but aside from that, it displayed several other capabilities including exceptional agility, deployable bladed weapons mounted at its wrists, some form of cloaking, and the capacity to brace itself against forces of horizontal movement. Its swift reflexes, in combination with the aforementioned blades, made it a particularly dangerous adversary in close quarters. The weapons, however, were vulnerable to physical breakage, even with apparent reinforcement from the shields.”

“And it couldn’t move when it did the ground-brace thing,” Lúcio added out of turn.

“Well, yes... thank you, but—”

“It could see where I was going to blink next,” Lena remembered with a wince, “and those lights on it hacked my pulse bomb.”

“Yes, that as well…” Satya negotiated with some difficulty, her frustration building. “I am attempting recount the matter in a logical sequence. The bracing ability allowed it to resist physical force, though required its feet to remain in place while it was active. Its observational capabilities were clearly advanced enough for pattern-recognition, and it’s hacking ability… its use seemed limited to proximity or direct connection, but even that is certainly concerning. Now, to discuss the shield, it displayed a certain differentiation between…”

Satya trailed off as her gaze was drawn in the same direction as the others – toward Widowmaker, who was raising her hand.

The sniper arched an eyebrow. “Is this not protocol?” she sneered, seeming very much aware that no one in the room would dare correct her.

“…Do you have something to add?” Satya asked in the most even voice she could manage.

“I had an observation to note, and another contribution relating to its cloaking. For whenever you get to that, of course.”

Satya couldn’t tell if Widowmaker was attempting to ridicule her or if that was simply the way she spoke, but either way, she had to respect the sniper’s adherence to the established protocol. “Your… observation?”

Widowmaker raised a finger to one of the two-lensed side panels of her currently-retracted recon visor. “I could observe the omnic’s infrared signature, but not its exact position. It was utilizing some kind of disruptive interference to cloud my detection. This does, however, mean the omnic’s signals have a unique appearance to my sensors, and their presence can be easily identified.”

“Certainly, a useful attribute to be aware of,” Satya agreed, before turning back to address the group as a whole. “As for the shield… it made a certain distinction between energy attacks, such as projectiles from pulse weaponry, and kinetic attacks, such as bullets or strikes from melee weapons. Kinetic attacks are blocked entirely, though their interception seems to deplete the shield at an extremely slow pace. Energy attacks actually appear to fuel the shield, charging it further. I was… actually rather impressed with how quickly you all appeared to recognize this.”

At the last sentence, Satya cast a glance over the group, noting a proud smile from Lena.

At the edge of the architech’s vision, and seeming to take advantage of her current visibility, Zarya raised her hand with a nervous, perhaps slightly guilty expression.

“Yes?” Satya acknowledged.

“I… may be able to explain its shields,” Zarya began. “Ol—”

The soldier stopped herself right there, but something about the single syllable made Sombra tense so tightly that Satya could feel the hacker’s muscles shift against her arm and thigh. Satya placed her hand over Sombra’s knee, relieved when the gesture seemed to have a minor calming effect.

“…Sombra suggested that this group acquired its technology from Volskaya.” Zarya recovered after a moment. “Using the particle core in my weapon, I can generate a spherical shield that absorbs projectiles, then diverts the energy to power the beam. I would strongly suspect the omnic’s shield was developed from this technology. It clearly possesses trade-offs, but I cannot argue with its effectiveness as a defense.”

“Given that they likely also had a hand in developing the advanced gravity well, I would suspect that is a reasonable assumption,” Satya agreed. “I also find it notable that the shield was able to absorb Genji’s energized strike, with its supposed mystical origins, as well as reverse the effect of my energy drain beam. It did falter under concentrated draining pulses and Sombra’s…”

“EMP,” the hacker provided.

“…electro-magnetic pulse, though it seemed to quickly adapt to those abilities. Now, as I was able to observe about its cloaking ability, the effect was maintained even when the omnic was in direct contact with other surfaces. The shield appeared slightly visible, but the omnic did not.” Satya turned to address Widowmaker. “You had something to add?”

“When we fought it in the rafters,” the sniper began after giving Satya an amused, perhaps slightly confused look that was so brief the architech barely registered it, “neither Genji nor I used energy attacks, only kinetic. The omnic was able to maintain its cloak indefinitely, but dropped it once Reaper’s pulse fire connected. It neglected to use the ability even once afterwards, even in the ensuing battle. If I were to hazard a guess, it may lack the ability to use its cloaking once its shields have been charged by an energy attack.”

Satya noted the way she’d talked about Reaper – coldly, her expression showing no change as she casually mentioned her… perhaps not dead, but certainly lost teammate. The complete opposite of what Sombra’s reaction had been.

“If true, it seems a crucial vulnerability,” Satya finally replied, hoping her brief pause of consideration had gone unnoticed. “In addition to the infrared distinction noted earlier, that should solve the problem of how to locate them. As for dispatching them…” Satya turned toward Zenyatta. “The shield did not seem to provide defense against physical strain.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Satya noticed Zarya raising her hand again. “Yes?”

“Once your barrier was lowered, it did make me its first target. Perhaps it saw me as the more immediate threat, no?” Zarya seemed to take pride in that distinction.

“Perhaps,” Satya agreed. After that, the room seemed to fall silent.

“If that’s all, I think I’ll make my report to Winston now,” Lena declared after some time, her eyes were moving about the room. “I guess… I guess we’re done for tonight, loves.”

If Satya had kept time correctly – and she knew she had – it was barely past noon, but following the pilot’s gaze, she noted the exhausted looks and slumped posture of nearly everyone present. Only Widowmaker seemed perfectly attentive, her elegant upright posture showing no signs of breaking as she eyed the others with faint amusement.

“If we are quite finished here…” the sniper spoke up after a moment, then stood, her high-heeled metallic shoes carrying her toward the leftmost hallway.

“You’re staying? ” Lena let out quickly enough that she seemed to nervously regret speaking at all.

Widowmaker made a hissing noise that might have been a small chuckle. “Where would I go?” she asked as she turned to look over her shoulder, her voice neutral in a way that was just shy of bleak. After a pause, she added, “The only reason I do not slit your throats in your sleep, is that that is what will happen to all of us, regardless."

“Don’t worry, she’s… always like that,” Sombra managed with a sigh as the sniper elegantly sauntered down the hallway and out of sight.

As Lena’s attention shifted primarily to her phone, Satya refocused back on Sombra. The hacker still seemed shaken, her widened eyes staring blankly ahead in the direction of the now-empty seat across from her.

“Sombra?” Satya whispered, lightly rubbing a hand against the woman’s shoulder.

Sombra let out a shaky breath. She seemed to be searching for words, but not finding them.

Satya put her arm across Sombra’s back and pulled herself out to the edge of her couch cushion. “You should get some rest.”

At the architech’s direction, Sombra slowly stood, letting Satya guide her around the couch and toward the hallways. As they passed Sombra’s holographic map, the hacker dismissed it with a flourish of her fingers. The web of conspiracy drew itself back into the initial hexagon, which then flickered out.

Chapter Text

The moment Satya had closed the door behind them, she lunged her arms over Sombra’s shoulders and pulled herself in close, holding on tightly as Sombra’s desperate arms completed the embrace. Her left cheek was pressed delicately into Sombra’s, and she had to hold back tears as she felt the woman’s frantic attempts to nuzzle in closer.

In the dim light of the room, they held each other in silence for what seemed like several minutes, and Satya found herself shifting her weight from one leg to the other in a rhythmic pattern. The gentle rocking motion appeared to soothe Sombra, so she didn’t let it stop.

“I…” Sombra eventually began, shifting uncomfortably, “I don’t… I shouldn’t… I’m fine, Satya, I don’t need…”

“It is alright to not be fine.” Satya tried to remember the last time Sombra had used her given name.

“That’s not what I…” the hacker weakly struggled to pull away, but not enough to succeed. “I’ve been on my own my whole life, okay? I can handle this! I should… I should be able to handle this! I shouldn’t need you! I shouldn’t need them! I shouldn’t feel bad that I brought you all into this, I shouldn’t feel like… like this is all my…”

“Do not,” Satya commanded, her voice stern and cutting. She pulled away just enough to set her head opposite Sombra’s, staring coldly into her eyes. “Do not say it. They had clearly been planning this for some time. You had nothing to do with it. You did nothing but save all of our lives.”

Sombra huffed darkly, her voice nearing a hiss. “For how long?”

“For long enough,” Satya insisted, catching several wayward strands of purple hair between her hardlight fingers to brush them away from Sombra’s face. She breathed deeply, getting lost in the deep blue of the hacker’s eyes just as both of them seemed to notice they were close enough to feel the warmth of each other’s breaths on their lips. Satya leaned in, once again savoring the slight brush of skin as the two lingered at the edge of a kiss.

“What are you doing?” Sombra whispered warmly against Satya’s parsed lips.

“Making it worth it.”

Sombra pulled away, her sad eyes on the verge of tears. “You could have had the rest of your life,” she said, pain in her voice, “If only I’d just…”

Stop.”

The suddenness, and forcefulness, of the word seemed to startle Sombra. “I didn’t even—”

“I know what you were going to say,” Satya interrupted, narrowing her eyes. “And I want you to never say it again.”

Sombra only stared at the architech in stunned silence.

“You once said that this was no life either,” Satya began, “but you were wrong. It is a life. It is the only life there is. It is reality, and I would always choose reality. I decided, once, that I did not regret all that has happened, and my opinion has not changed, even now. These few weeks… I have known life as I should have known it all along. Do you understand what that means to me? That I could have them.” Satya gestured vaguely to the doorway behind them. “That I could have you.” She set her hand around the side of Sombra’s shoulder. “No matter how much time we have left now, even if it is only moments, I would choose that over a lifetime at Vishkar. The idea that you would keep saying these things, that I might have been better off never having known any of this, that you would even consider that an option, that you can… Sombra?”

The haunted look on the hacker’s face made Satya tense with dread.

I must sound… I must sound completely out of my mind, Satya realized with dawning horror. To say such things… why did I… She pulled away in a harsh recoil, her hands hanging in the air, shaking. She’d messed it all up again. Done something wrong. She was a fool to think she wouldn’t, even now. This wasn’t the time for these ridiculous complications. Satya shouldn’t be here. Sombra needed someone normal, someone who wouldn’t completely screw up comforting her. What was Satya thinking, being involved in something like—

Satya’s mind went blank as Sombra collapsed against her, sobbing uncontrollably into her shoulder.

“I’m sorry! I’m so, so, sorry, I’m… damnit. Fuck. I’m… I can’t fucking believe I…” the hacker’s frantic words lost all intelligibility as they devolved into desperate cries.

Satya slowly and hesitantly closed her arms around the sobbing woman, holding her gently to her breast as she held back tears of her own. It only ever took a moment for the doubts to return, and she was still reeling inside as she attempted to pull herself back into the moment.

The room was carpeted in green. The walls were decorated like a coniferous forest, with beams of light filtering downward through the trees. The bed was set off to the left of the door, its ornate headboard aligned against the center of the left wall. The covers had a scaled pattern composed of several shades of green. Beyond a small dark wood table on the other side of the bed, the far wall opened into a white-tiled bathroom complete with shower. At its sight, Satya felt memories of the previous night’s battle creeping over her skin. She did her best to push those sensations aside, and sat herself and Sombra down on the grey couch along the right wall, from which they faced across toward the foot of the bed.

Sombra took several deep breaths, slowly reaching a state of relative calmness. “It just… it gets to me, you know?” she began, “All this… I thought I was prepared for all this. I thought…” She let out a long sigh, pausing for a moment.

“You have done all you need to, for now,” Satya reassured.

“Ever since that day… it’s like, every time I close my eyes, I can see that eye staring back at me. That damn eye with those damn six dots, I can never keep it out of my head for long. It’s always there, waiting for me to slip up. I can feel it taunting me. A damn eye with six dots laughing at me, like no matter what I do, it always has me right where it wants me.”

Satya made the connection, pulling the hardlight skull sigil out of her neckline. Like before, she ran her finger around one of the eyes from behind, her skin filling each of the six markings in turn.

“To everyone else, it’s just a sugar skull,” Sombra explained, watching Satya’s motions with understanding, “but I want them to know. Every untraceable hack that brings a corporation to its knees, every time that skull is out there in plain view on every screen in the world, I want them to fucking know that they’re next. That one day, that damn eye is going to be nothing but a dead, empty socket in dry bone. Whoever they are… when I find them, I’m going to fucking tear them apart.”

Sombra’s voice had escalated to a bitter rage, and Satya let the necklace fall to the front of her uniform as she brought her arms back around the woman’s shoulders. She wasn’t sure what she could say, aside from uncertain promises for the future that she wouldn’t dare make.

The moment of stillness that passed between them brought with it the creeping sensations Satya had tried to avoid. Against her thighs, she felt the dust and dirt of the rocky chasm floor, as if she were rolling across it all over again. The clammy chill that settled around her upper arm made her shudder to her core.

Amiga? You doing alright?” Sombra eyed the architech with confusion.

“It is of no concern,” Satya said a little too quickly as she noticed Sombra following her unconscious gaze toward the shower.

After a moment’s hesitation, Sombra shifted as if to stand. “Okay, come on. Let’s go.” Her voice seemed to be hiding trepidation.

Satya held Sombra in place. “You do not have to—”

Sombra took both of Satya’s hands in hers. “Satya, one of us has to not be a total wreck right now. I know you don’t think it’s important, but it is, because you’re important, comprende? I want to… I know I’m freaking out, but if I can make you feel better, that might be the one thing I can actually do right. Besides…” Her face fell, a nervous sympathy in her eyes as she glanced toward Satya’s right shoulder. “…it’s your arm, isn’t it?”

Satya shuddered under her gaze, but nodded.

“What the fuck did he do to you?”

“It is… not what you are thinking,” Satya began, her voice near a whisper. “It was how he sought to gain my attention, how he directed me, as if I was helpless without his guidance. It made me feel…” she shuddered again. “I do not like how it made me feel.”

Tears welled behind the quiet rage in Sombra’s narrowed eyes as she pulled Satya into a tight hug. “If that asshole is still alive, I’m going to fucking kill him.” After a few moments, she leaned away again, her hand hovering over Satya’s upper arm. “Let’s go… let’s go give you something new to remember, okay?”

Satya examined the cautious expression on Sombra’s face before her gaze settled on the two neon pink arches over the woman’s ear, instead. “Is it… alright? For you to…”

“Yeah, they’re waterproof,” Sombra answered, seeming momentarily distracted.

They made their way to the shower and familiarized themselves with the settings on the control panel. It was taking a significant amount of time for the water to heat up, likely due to how long the facility had remained dormant. The white light reflecting off the tiled walls and floor was nearly blinding, and Satya almost considered wearing her visor before realizing she could use the slider on the wall to adjust the brightness of the room instead. Sombra seemed preoccupied with finding somewhere within reach of the shower to hang her coat. Satya felt a pang of guilt at that, realizing how much stress it always seemed to put on the hacker to be without it.

“Are you… certain?” Satya began with hesitance, “I should not be making you to… feel vulnerable.”

Sombra turned around, seeming startled in a way that made Satya tense. Guilt flashed over the hacker’s face as she began, “Sorry, I just… always forget how perceptive you can be. Well, less that, I guess, and more… knowing how I feel is one thing, but I don’t expect people to just say it outright?” She paused, averting her gaze. “Or care, really. I guess that’s it…”

Satya had taken several steps toward her, but the hacker put up a hand, sighing as she made an effort to collect herself.

“Just… maybe a little help? Can you make, like, a coat rack or something?”

Satya designed something simple, but sturdy, figuring Sombra’s coat might be quite heavy with its several layers and the number of items she seemed to carry within its many pockets. Sombra fussed about with hanging the garment on the geometric tree-like structure that had suddenly grown in the center of the room.

“…Thanks,” Sombra said softly, with an air of it being an admission of guilt. She briefly brought up her left forearm, seeming to shudder as she set her eyes on the scars again. “If I’m being honest… I’m pretty sure I’m feeling something similar right now. We’ll both feel better after, okay?” She reached out to take both of Satya’s hands in hers, then leaned in to press her left cheek to Satya’s. “We’ll both… we’ll both feel better.”




Sombra’s spinal implant featured several details Satya hadn’t noticed prior, when she had only had the chance to study it by touch. Thin, metallic lines ran from one of the upper segments along angled paths to a pair of small, round nodes embedded near the inner edges of her shoulder blades. Two more pairs of identical nodes were embedded in the small of her back, though the wire-like structures that splayed and angled down towards them ended in small hexagons that surrounded, but never touched the nodes themselves. Satya was left to wonder about the distinction, trying her best not to spend too much time running her fingers over the lines while she was supposed to be washing off Sombra’s back.

Satya also had the best view of the hacker’s full set of cranial implants that she could recall during their time together. Even when Sombra’s back had been turned, the raised collar of her coat usually obscured the base of her skull. It was now apparent that once the neon arches had passed behind her ear, they both angled off into reversed, parallel curves whose lower ends angled off in diagonal segments. This second double-arch was nested against the side of a circular arrangement centered on the back of her head. The diagonal portions, but not any of the arches, were mirrored on the opposite side.

Sombra’s largely distant presence was occasionally interrupted by faint but clear amusement at the fact that those were the parts of her body Satya seemed most interested in.

Every hint of a smile she could still draw from the woman in the state she was in brought Satya to tears, and what had been an arrangement of convenience became a gentle, lathering caress that sought to traverse every inch of Sombra’s caramel skin. Satya kept a thorough pace and made certain not to linger anywhere she might have felt the desire to, but Sombra leaned into every session of contact all the same.

Though the water already running down her face made it difficult to notice at first glance, Satya finally discerned the tearful shock in Sombra’s eyes. Satya realized, with twinge of hurt, that it might have been the first time anyone had cared for Sombra like this. She found herself unable to resist the urge to wrap her arms around the woman’s shoulders and hold her right then and there, as water cascaded over their intertwined forms.

Satya wasn’t sure what to make of the stirring that welled inside her when Sombra returned the gesture, a pair of steady but curious hands gently erasing the uncomfortable sensations lingering on her skin and replacing them all with welcome ones. At most, she could decide that it was calmness and rest she wanted at the present moment, but other options didn’t seem quite so objectionable as they might have under different circumstances.




Satya lay back in bed, enveloped in the relaxing coolness of the sheets. She’d selected casual nightclothes in her preferred blues and teals, but had spent more time than usual staring blankly at the fractal shelving of her suitcase. Having noticed Sombra’s concern about vulnerability, she couldn’t help but linger over the more elegant but far less practical clothing items she had continually passed over for the entirety of their trip.

Running her fingers over the delicate silk she had neglected, except in transfer from one carrying case to the other, Satya longed to believe it had been a simple desire to fit in with Lena and Lúcio’s more casual attire, but she knew that wasn’t the whole truth. It had always been the fear of capture in whatever state she would be in, of having to face Sanjay and Vishkar, perhaps Sombra at one time, and now their new, unnamed enemy.

Though Satya despised sharing any personal belongings whatsoever, she had been just about to make the offer to Sombra when the hacker had produced the outfit she now wore in bed to Satya’s left: a too-bright magenta shirt – adorned with her familiar sugar skull – and leggings of a shade of purple that neared black. The thin material had been compressed and stored in yet another coat pocket. The degree to which the woman seemed to live out of the garment – which now hung on the nearest bed post – was astounding, though not exactly a surprise given her circumstances.

“Hey, are you… you alright?” Sombra asked with a warm smile and a faint, but noticeable hint of concern. “You comfortable like that?”

“Yes, I… Yes, I am.” Satya returned a lazy, blissful smile as she let herself go limp into the soft, cool comfort all around her.

Sombra also seemed content, at least for the moment, to let herself be at ease. She wriggled closer to Satya, pulled the covers around herself into a tight cocoon, and pointedly dropped her head halfway into a pillow, a blanket of purple hair acting as an unnecessary cushion and obscuring much of her face.

Satya had to stifle a light chuckle at the woman’s antics.

The moment didn’t last long, and a strange hesitance passed over Sombra’s face. With a sigh, she rolled away onto her back, her eyes seeming fixed on the ceiling.

“Is something wrong?” Satya prodded with brewing concern.

“No, it’s just…” Sombra paused, taking a deep breath. It was clear she was at the edge of saying something. There was a long, pointed silence before she spoke again.

“My name’s… Olivia.”

Satya’s eyebrows shot up at the sudden, unprovoked divulgence of information. By the strangeness in her voice, it was clearly a name she hadn’t spoken in a long time, and yet… there was a certain undertone of sadness, perhaps longing, for only a fleeting moment.

“Now, don’t you go wearing it out,” Sombra added quickly, briefly glancing at Satya without turning back over, “I just… you should hear it from me first, before Zarya brings it up, or… or…” Sombra’s face grew haunted as her thoughts seemed to drift to a second possibility.

“Olivia… Colomar? ” Satya tested, remembering the surname the omnic had mentioned before. “That is you?”

“Yeah,” Sombra said quickly, allowing only a short pause to follow the word. “I… erased all that, after they found me. Every electronic record I could find. Some physical ones, too. I was already a nobody before, but… now I don’t even exist, as far as the world is concerned.”

It seemed to Satya like she was going to continue, but after a few moments, the hacker turned partially back over, a silent request beginning in her eyes as they met Satya’s.

“Can I… tell you some things?” Sombra began, hesitating over the words. “I… want to. Never thought I would, but… I know so much about you, it just doesn’t seem fair, you know? When you don’t really know anything about me.”

“I know enough,” Satya began, her voice soft but firm. “I know that you have a kind heart, even if you will not admit it, I know that—”

“Okay, okay!” Sombra held out a defensive hand, retreating ever-so-slightly into her shoulders. “Save the list for later, amiga, I just… I feel like I should. No, no, it’s not that, I… I want to.” A shudder of something like fear passed over her face, briefly enough that Satya almost missed it. “I want to tell you everything. I don’t think I can… keep going like this, unless I do.”

“It is alright to have secrets,” Satya insisted, eyeing the hacker with concern.

“I know, I… you don’t have to tell me that, it’s just… it’s a lot. Things you should know. Things I’ve done, things I was a part of, and the things that… well, it’s that, and also the little things. The kind of stuff you’d know if you had all those records I got rid of. I mean, I…” Sombra let out a long sigh. “I guess I don’t have to go over everything all at once. Maybe if…”

Sombra rolled fully onto her back again, seeming occupied with some elusive idea that took several false starts to form on her lips.

“Okay listen, how about… I tell you something new every night, for however long… and if you’re even… I mean, it’s just an idea, don’t…”

Satya reached out to lay a hand on Sombra’s shoulder, the woman’s pained stuttering ceasing immediately. “I think… I would like that.”

Sombra took a deep breath, again tilting her head to meet Satya’s gaze. “Okay. That’s what we’ll do, as long as you… every night, I’ll tell you something, and then, eventually, you’ll…” her eyes seemed evasive, but she managed a playful smile. “…you’ll know everything there is to know about Sombra.” She chuckled a short laugh that quickly faded to anxious breathing. “But… I have to go over the heavy stuff tonight, okay?”

The nervous, pleading look in Sombra’s eyes was enough that Satya simply sighed and nodded, having been on the other side of conversations like this enough times to know the peace of mind it would bring Sombra to say everything she wanted to.

“Okay, so there was this one time I was in a gang. Well, by ‘time’ I mean, like… well, the whole thing really started as…”

So, Satya listened.

She listened to every one of the woman’s confessions. Her time with Los Muertos, with Talon, a tale of staying hidden and finding the truth, of surviving in a world that had left her with nothing and decided to take even more. The hacker spared no detail, and it nearly seemed as if she were hoping for some part of her past to be found unacceptable, if only so she would not need to relate it in its entirety. Satya offered reassurance where she could, knowing full well it would be only a temporary comfort but longing to give Sombra at least that.

And though it pained her so, Satya waited patiently, her arms crossed over her chest, when a shaking, fearful Sombra insisted she could not accept Satya’s comfort until she had explained fully.

That night, Satya said ‘I love you’ time enough to make up for how little either of them had heard it all their lives. She smiled to herself, finally feeling she had mastered the proper pronunciation of the words, while a sobbing but relieved Sombra cried rivers into her shoulder.




It had turned out that there was a motion-sensing slider attached to the wall near either side of the bed, and Satya had waved a hand over it to change the room’s lighting to something that evoked a moonlit night. In the quiet darkness, she listened to her own, steady breathing pattern and the more rapid, still-slowing one of the woman whose waist she’d wrapped her arms around. She lay with her ankles intertwined with Sombra’s and her cheek pressing against a cybernetic pattern of nested circles and arches.

She felt it on her skin when the muscles in Sombra’s face tensed, hesitant words beginning to form on her lips.

“Can I… tell you one more thing?”

“You do not have to—”

“Just one, I promise.”

“…Of course.”

It was another long, quiet moment before Sombra spoke again.

Te amo. Te quiero, mi amor.”

Satya huddled closer with a fresh squeeze of pressure, her breath catching in her throat. She’d noticed the strangeness in the hacker’s voice, the unfamiliarity of the words on her lips, and the defiant earnestness with which she’d nonetheless forced them through.

She didn’t need to understand to know what Sombra had said to her.

Chapter Text

NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Winston]

hey, winston, love, you there?

[Winston]: Lena?

[Winston]: Is everyone alright?

yeah were fine now get ready cause its a lot

[Winston]: Lena, you don’t have to…

talon is gone

reyes is dead

big conspiracy stuff

creepy eye thing

got their fingers in everything

lumerico volskaya numbani talon

even the old overwatch

[Winston]: …Reyes has been dead for a long time, Lena.

okay backing up a bit

reyes is alive

reaper is reyes

reyes is dead again

[Winston]: What?

I know you want to dwell on this bit but you cant

this conspiracy thing

sombras been working it out for like 20 years

she thinks there behind the swiss base

shes pretty sure they started the whole crisis in the first place

[Winston]: The Swiss base? Wha

they mightve also made the god programs

and now there taking pieces of them or something

[Winston]: You can’t be serious

[Winston]: Lena, slow down!

cant, love!

you need to be careful

they sent this thing after us

could be more

omnic with cloaking and arm-sword thingys

really fast and with wicked crazy shields

maybe can hack too

mess with infrared

foot magnets

shields can stop almost anything

pulse fire makes them stronger

guessing electricity and fire and stuff would be the same

bullets and swords and stuff dont boost it

just get blocked

if you boost the shield it cant be invisible anymore

and shield cant stop it breaking

like if rein wanted to tear one in half I don’t think it could do anything about that

[Winston]: That’s…

[Winston]: We suspected some of this already, but it’s certainly a lot to process.

[Winston]: It will take some time to organize this data into something I can work with

[Winston]: but I’ll brief the others as soon as possible.

sombra has another clue to follow

volskaya meeting with an omnic contact in 4 days

we’re thinking intercept and see what he knows

that sound like a good plan or…

[Winston]: As much as I hate to admit it…

[Winston]: working with Sombra may be our best chance.

shes still kind of in shock

but satyas working on that I think

[Winston]: Then I’d suggest you all lay low for a few of those days, at least.

[Winston]: I’m not sure I’m willing to trust Sombra just yet.

[Winston]: but if she wants to coordinate with Overwatch on this…

[Winston]: let her know she’ll have our full support.

alright but

you sure we’re up for this, love?

I mean I get that someone needs to do something

and thats us

its just

this isn’t like null sector or talon

or anyone, really

if they run the whole world, can we even fight that?

[Winston]: We never accept the world as it appears to be, Lena.

[Winston]: I’m beginning to suspect this is the fight we were preparing for, all along.

[Winston]: You’ve seen what it’s like out there.

[Winston]: The death, the suffering, the world at war with itself.

believe me, I know

[Winston]: It’s why I initiated the recall in the first place.

[Winston]: Changing the world was always our mission.

[Winston]: So, if this… global conspiracy does indeed exist, it was always our enemy.

[Winston]: I’m not about to let it stand in the way of the good we can do.

I’m with you, love

just… be careful

[Winston]: We’ll proceed as cautiously as we can.

[Winston]: We’ve seen what this enemy is capable of.

[Winston]: I’ve put the watchpoint on lockdown.

[Winston]: And Lena…

[Winston]: she’s safe.

thank you

it really means a lot

can I talk to her?

[Winston]: When I’m done briefing everyone on your intel.

[Winston]: I’m typing up the presentation as we speak.

with your hands or your feet?

wait which are you talking to me with?

[Winston]: One each, actually.

ooooh that cant be easy!

[Winston]: And… one more thing, Lena.

oh yeah

compartment under the window in stairwell one

[Winston]: That… wasn’t what I meant, but thanks!

blimey I was saving that one!

it was clever!

[Winston]: Lena,

[Winston]: I know you’ve picked up another… unexpected passenger.

yeah, well…

she hasnt caused any trouble so far

[Winston]: Be careful, Lena.

I know

[Winston]: I have to go now,

[Winston]: but I’ll try to keep in contact as often as I can.

alright

cheers!

[Winston]: Stay safe, Lena




“You should not trust her,” Zarya had begun as Lena’s conversation was drawing to a close. “Sombra. She cares only about herself.”

The remainder of the group was locked in an awkward silence as Lena finished typing her final few messages. Zarya had her large, muscular arms pointedly crossed in front of her, an apparent challenge for anyone to contradict her.

“Well, I trust her,” Lúcio declared with finality, interrupting the silence. He crossed his arms as well, then planted one mechanical boot against the table so he could cross his ankles and lean back into the couch. After a moment, he shot an arched-eyebrow glare at Zarya and added, “and no, it’s not just because you don’t.”

Lena was eyeing the DJ with curiosity, as was Genji. Zarya let out a frustrated huff while Zenyatta seemed as though he somehow understood the situation perfectly.

After the silence had stretched for a few more seconds, Lúcio’s face softened as he gave a small shrug of his shoulders. “You see the way Vaswani was hanging all over her like that? She doesn’t let anyone touch her if she doesn’t trust ‘em completely. I got no idea how those two know each other, but… that’s enough for me.” With that, he again settled firmly into his ‘tuning out’ sitting position.

“You seemed familiar with her expertise in this… situation,” Genji offered, looking directly at Lena. “Some clarification would be appreciated.”

“Well I… I’ve never actually met her before, but…” Lena took a deep breath, feeling the weight of the others’ gazes. “I know enough. She’s been Satya’s… contact for a bit, now, feeding us information on…” She gestured vaguely across the length of the table toward the now-empty wall. “…well, you know.”

Genji seemed as surprised as his body language could convey, but Lúcio only raised his eyebrows in a way that felt more like he’d just got the answer to a question he’d been pondering than like he’d been thrown a complete curveball. Zarya looked shocked in a way that seemed to, luckily, take the place of the anger Lena had expected from her.

“Though I was not made aware of the details until today,” Zenyatta began unexpectedly, seeming content to play along with Lena’s… selectively disclosed version of the truth, “I have had much time to ponder this matter, and have spoken to Sombra at length. There is no doubt in my mind that she speaks the truth, and that the situation we find ourselves in is as dire as she claims.”

Genji seemed somehow even more shocked than before, but between both of their explanations the others seemed content – if reluctantly, in Zarya’s case – to consider the matter closed. With a huff, the Russian soldier got up to leave, retiring to the living quarters.

The others were all making moves to leave as well, but still taking some time. Lena left her chair and moved to the seating arrangement nearest the other exit, sitting on the couch that faced away from the direction of the bedrooms. She nervously stared at the blank screen of the phone in her hand, figuring she would probably have to wait at least fifteen minutes for Winton to hold the briefing. She opened the screen again to check the time.

1:06

There was a chill creeping over Lena, the worry heavy in her gut. She couldn’t help it. She’d put on a brave face when it counted, she’d taunted the enemy she’d found herself faced with, but now… now she was scared. Scared of what they’d do, not to her, but to everyone she cared about. Emily was safe at the watchpoint, but… how safe was the watchpoint? They’d gotten to Talon, could they get to Overwatch just as easily? Every second Lena still hadn’t heard from her… something could have happened. How long would she have to wait like this? She checked the time again.

1:07

Her family was there, at the watchpoint, but Lena wasn’t. Lena was here. Here with… with… she couldn’t even bear to think about that right now. She’d leave it to someone else. That would be easier for everyone. Sombra probably knew her better anyway. Lena didn’t want to think about it. She checked the time again.

Still 1:07

This was taking ages. The others seemed to have finally left the room, at least, but Lena was already considering texting Winston again to ask how long it would take.

Lena let out a pointed sigh as she caught silent movement at the edge of her vision. “Drew the short straw, did ya, love?”

Genji stopped in place as Lena looked up. The cyborg had made his way around to the other end of the couch, and was now standing between the middle seat and the edge of the table, completely unmoving in a way only he could manage.

“Well, come on, sit down then.” Lena gestured to the seat beside her. “I’m gonna be waiting here for a while, think I could use the company.”

Genji nervously took the offered seat, glancing at the phone in Lena’s hand. “What’s going on? Are they alright?” he gently prodded after a moment.

“Yeah. I gave Winston as much intel as I could. He’s locking down the watchpoint until… until this is over, I guess. Now I’m just waiting… he has to get everyone up to speed first, and then…”

Genji was silent, contemplative. “You’re waiting for someone.”

“Yeah, Emily, she’s there. She’s…”

“She means a lot to you, doesn’t she?”

“Yeah. Everything. The whole world.”

Lena averted her gaze as her eyes began to water, staring instead out across the room to the bookshelves along the wall she was facing. Genji copied her motions, and they sat in silence for what felt like several minutes.

“What was it like for you?” Lena finally asked, her voice low. “Before the recall, being out on your own? I mean, you don’t have to say if you don’t want to, I certainly don’t, it’s just…”

“Before I found master?” Genji began, “It was… a difficult time. I had already been living a life of misery, and though I was thankful that others need not share my pain, it… nearly consumed me, when I had to face it alone.”

Lena sighed, her free hand finding the strap of her accelerator. “Things weren’t… things weren’t much better for me, either. Not at first.” Her eyes found Genji’s visor again. “What about after? With Zen, was it… better?”

“I… was not always so willing to learn,” Genji admitted with a small chuckle, his head inclining slightly in reminiscence, “but I found truth in his words, and more than that, trust and comfort. The path he speaks often of, he showed me in compassion, and in the end, I found peace.”

Lena brushed her remaining tears away, showing Genji a bleak smile. “Well, you had Zenyatta, Torb and Rein had the family, Dr. Ziegler had her work… and you, in a way. Even Winston had Athena. And me, well…” she looked down at her phone again, still not turning it on. “I had her. She was what I needed, and I was what she needed, and… when we had nothing else, we had each other. But now, with all this, I just… can’t stand being away from her, never really knowing, for sure, if she’s safe. If they could get to Talon, whose to say they can’t get to Overwatch?”

Genji set a comforting hand on her shoulder – his left hand, the one he always used since it was still flesh underneath, even if they both looked the same from the outside. That was usually the most he ever did, Lena remembered. Maybe the most he thought anyone would want.

So, instead, Lena gently moved his arm away and settled into his shoulder, bringing her legs up onto the couch and curling snugly against the smooth cybernetics. Genji let out a small, almost inaudible gasp of surprise, the kind he always made when anyone treated him like nothing was different. Lena always smiled at how flustered he got, even if her heart broke at the idea that it was a rare enough occurrence to warrant a reaction.

After a moment, Genji hesitantly brought his arm around Lena, and the two sat in silence.

“How is Dr. Ziegler?” Lena asked, hoping the question would lead to a lighter discussion, but also genuinely curious.

“Frustrated, the last I heard,” Genji replied with a light chuckle. “Her relief efforts have been getting pushback from Helix Security sealing off certain affected regions. She made it quite clear she would… ‘give them a piece of her mind,’ as she put it, and she intends to confront them personally. Apparently, someone there actually agreed to the meeting.”

“Yep, sounds like her, alright,” Lena said with a smile of reminiscence. Something else occurred to her. “You think she’ll ever come back? To Overwatch, I mean?”

Genji let out an amused scoff. “I do not think so. It was Dr. Ziegler who informed me of the recall, but she did so in the process of expressing her deepest disappointment in Winston for initiating it, and for anyone ignorant enough to respond.”

Lena couldn’t help the laughter that suddenly overtook her. “So, of course your first thought was ‘I’m gonna do the thing!’”

Genji joined in with an electronic chuckle for a few seconds, before growing contemplative. “She still thinks it is for the best that Overwatch was disbanded, and with what her work was used for, I cannot blame her. Such a person who could show her that the world still needs us, and convince her to return after all this time, I cannot imagine.”

Lena paused at the seeming end to the discussion, the question she wasn’t sure she wanted to ask finally reaching the tip of her tongue. She took a deep breath and hesitantly began, “Would you… if… if Reyes was here now, would you have tried to help him? To… bring him back?”

Genji looked at her oddly for a moment, seeming taken aback by the question. “…Yes, I think, perhaps, I would. To apologize properly, if nothing else, but… I would rather know if it were possible, than spend the rest of my life wondering if it was.” He paused, his visor downcast. “As I suppose I might, now that he is lost to us, perhaps forever.”

”He’s dead,” Lena said more quickly than she’d intended.

“Of that, I do not think we can be certain.”

“No, he’s dead,” Lena insisted again, “He has to be. It’s not even because I hate him for what he did, or for what he became… it’s just… if he’s alive in there, wherever he ended up…” Lena shuddered to her core, her hand once again finding her accelerator strap. “Nobody deserves that, not even him.”

Lena felt Genji’s arm move more securely around her, and she relaxed into the embrace, allowing her breathing to normalize. “I guess… yeah, I’m sorry for bringing it up, I just—"

“You expected a different answer?”

Lena looked up in surprise, an uncertainty in her gaze as she searched the cyborg’s visor for any sign of emotion. “I mean… you didn’t talk about Blackwatch a lot,” she sputtered out, powering through her initial hesitance. “Towards the end, with me an’ Winston, with Ange… It was like you were, I dunno… better. At first I thought it was just ‘cause you upgraded, but then, that stuff you said back in Havana… you seemed like you really hated them.”

“…They got the worst of it, I suppose. Blackwatch was… a difficult time, and I just wanted to move on.” Genji paused a moment, seeming slightly sheepish. “And perhaps I may have been a bit… over-eager to do so.”

Lena couldn’t help a small chuckle as she leaned back into the cyborg’s shoulder. “Maybe just a bit, yeah,” she chided with an eye-roll.

How was I supposed to know—”

“S’okay, love, we all laughed about it.” Lena couldn’t contain the huge grin on her face as Genji sighed again.

“What I mean to say is…” Genji waited for the mood to fall somber once more. “Gabriel Reyes was… irritable. Angered, perhaps much in the same way I was. But he showed compassion in his own way. I see that now, and if I could find peace, I would dare to think he could as well. That anyone could.”

“Even… someone who hurt you?” Lena said softly, growing more nervous with every word. “Someone who… killed. Killed someone you cared about?”

Genji let out a small chuckle. “Even someone who killed me. Revenge is a fleeting thing, and can end in death, certainly, but there are far too many ways for it to lose its flavor. I looked into my brother’s eyes, and saw someone who had already suffered enough. Curses return upon those who curse, but it is not always by our hand. If it is a choice, I would rather know my enemy, see the truth as it is, than be an agent of more death.”

“I guess we’re all gonna have to figure that out, now…” Lena said somewhat distantly.

“Indeed,” Genji agreed, “we find ourselves with a challenge, but also an opportunity.”

An alert from her phone caught Lena’s attention, and she paused. “Gotta take this, sorry.”

“I understand.”

Lena cast one last look at the cyborg as she settled back to the end of the couch. “And really… thanks, I think I needed that.”

Genji’s angled his visor just above his usual eye-level alignment, a gesture Lena had long ago figured out was a smile. “Any time.”




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

[Em]: Lena? Are you there?

yeah I’m here, em

[Em]: LENA WHAT THE FUCK!?!?

um…

well ya see…

[Em]: LENA

[Em]: REALLY?

[Em]: You know where I am right now?

[Em]: I’m in Gibraltar

[Em]: Where you were supposed to end up.

[Em]: The whole base is on lockdown.

[Em]: There’s a fucking BASTION TURRET guarding my room.

[Em]: Where the FUCK did they get a bastion turret?

[Em]: You run into trouble and your first thought is to fake your own death?

to be fair it was sombras idea

and this is really bad stuff em

[Em]: I know it’s bad

[Em]: but you’re not the one who had two Overwatch agents show up at your flat

[Em]: and they wouldn’t fucking tell me anything all the way to the base

oh god

em I’m so sorry

[Em]: I know it’s protocol or some crap

[Em]: to make sure no one figures it out

[Em]: but I thought it was for real, Lena.

[Em]: I thought I’d lost you

I’m here, love

always here for you

if it helps ive been a wreck too

[Em]: I know its not your fault I just…

[Em]: I was scared, Lena

[Em]: I was really fucking scared

me too, em

cause if they wanted to get to me I know exactly where they would’ve gone

[Em]: I know, and…

[Em]: thanks for having me brought in

I need to know you’re safe

and you need to know what’s happening

[Em]: At least you’re being smart about this.

[Em]: Are you alright at least?

[Em]: I know there was a fight.

yeah I’m okay

couple of us got roughed up a bit but lucio and zen helped a lot

its mostly just the shock now

[Em]: Pretty much the same here.

[Em]: It’s a lot more crowded than last time

[Em]: but it was never this quiet even when it was just the four of us

sombras taking it the worst I think

shes been running from this her whole life

[Em]: That’s Satya’s gf, right?

yeah

I wasnt sure what to expect but there really cute together

hardly ever let go of eachother

[Em]: Awww

I know

feels like it was just yesterday she came to me for advice

they grow up so fast

[Em]: Satya’s older than both of us.

its the principal of the thing

[Em]: Well, it’s good that they have each other

[Em]: Emotions are running pretty high here

yeah same

well, except for…

you know who

[Em]: Really? Even with Talon gone?

I mean she seemed a bit shaken when we first heard it

but if its effecting her she’s hiding it pretty well

[Em]: I’m not gonna pretend to know if it’s even a good idea with the state she’s in

[Em]: but this is your chance, right?

umm what?

[Em]: Like you’ve been talking about

[Em]: get through to her.

[Em]: Talon can’t get to her anymore.

I mean

I guess I can try

[Em]: You’re the leader

[Em]: I think it’s kind of your job to now.

I’m the leader of the overwatch mission

widow just ended up here

I don’t think she’s ready to submit to my authority just yet

[Em]: That’s an image.

[Em]: shit, sorry!

[Em]: it slipped out!

really, em?

you gonna go there now?

[Em]: Dammit I’m so sorry Lena

uhh, em?

I’m not actually mad

it’s okay

[Em]: No, it’s not.

[Em]: I…

[Em]: I really had no idea how much it was bothering you

[Em]: not at first, anyway.

[Em]: I just wanted you to know it wasn’t a big deal

[Em]: and that you could talk to me.

[Em]: I should’ve probably said that in the first place, but…

[Em]: nvm it doesn’t matter

[Em]: the rest doesn’t feel right to bring up right now

[Em]: and you have enough to worry about anyway

[Em]: sry I’m rambling, but Lena…

[Em]: I’m really not mad at all

[Em]: it’s just frustrating that you think I would be

[Em]: and I want us to be okay again

Em, we are okay

we never werent

and im sorry

ive been letting alot of stuff get to my head havent I?

[Em]: Definitely.

[Em]: And I really get it.

[Em]: I know this means a lot to you

[Em]: and that you’re one of the only people who hasn’t given up on her.

[Em]: I know you can help her, Lena

[Em]: You might be the only one who can.

[Em]: Please don’t make me the reason you didn’t.

Em…

don’t think about it like that

this isnt on you

[Em]: I can’t help it, Lena

[Em]: It would be on my conscience either way

[Em]: so please…

[Em]: promise me you’ll at least try

of course

I promise

[Em]: Thank you.

[Em]: I get that things are kinda hectic over there

[Em]: but make some time, somewhere.

[Em]: I know I don’t really know her

[Em]: but after everything you’ve told me, I care about her too, and it would mean a lot.

[Em]: Besides, something tells me we’re going to need all the friends we can get right now.

yeah I kinda figured that too

its not gonna be easy workin with them

but thats where we are and ill do my best

[Em]: Eh, you’ve worked with worse.

this is a bit of a different situation, love

no one at Overwatch ever shot at me

[Em]: That’s just cause they weren’t interested ;)

…dammit are we really here again?

[Em]: It’s too easy, Lena.

[Em]: Please let me have this.

…okay fine

[Em]: btw I think we’re working on defenses now.

[Em]: Might have to duck out for a bit

k just stay safe

[Em]: alright you too

[Em]: ttyl

love you

[Em]: <3

Chapter Text

It was still dark when Satya woke, though she was well aware that was no indication of what time it might be. She wondered whether the time of day would even matter as long as they were all sealed underground.

It was a surprise, but a pleasant one, to find Sombra still sleeping next to her. She noted that the hacker had fallen asleep facing the door, and supposed she should take care not to startle her, knowing full well how she might react. Satya lay as still as she could for several minutes, watching her companion’s body rise and fall with her breathing.

After a time, Sombra began to stir, a murmur of a yawn disturbing the calm silence. The mattress creaked as the waking woman arched her back in a way that made Satya smile and stifle a light chuckle.

Sombra froze mid-stretch, remaining quietly tense for several seconds before very slowly turning herself over. Her eyes were wide as they finally met Satya’s, but after several seconds she seemed to calm slightly, her lips forming a tentative smile.

“Is… everything alright?” Satya whispered, concern briefly passing over her face.

Sombra’s smile relaxed into a smirk of contentment. “Yeah, just… never woke up next to somebody before.”

“It is… the second time, for me,” Satya realized aloud, with some embarrassment.

Sombra’s eyebrows shot up, but her smirk only grew more intense. “Oh, do tell.” After a moment, though, she winced, taking on a concerned, apologetic expression. “Unless it was… it wasn’t a Vishkar thing, was it?”

“No, it was…” Satya paused, her face falling as she remembered the inciting circumstances. “It was the night before last. After you had left, Lena stayed with me.”

“Oh…” Sombra’s face fell to match. “I’m still really sorry about—”

“It is alright,” Satya insisted quickly, reaching out a hand to take one of Sombra’s. “You were in a difficult position. I understand.”

Sombra visibly relaxed, but the guilt in her expression remained. “I don’t deserve you,” she said softly as her fingers interlaced with Satya’s.

“That is too bad,” Satya said matter-of-factly, “because you are the one I want.”

The smile returned to Sombra’s lips, a bit of mischief seeping into her gaze. “What? Too good to be Lena’s third girlfriend?”

After a brief pang of concern, Satya rolled her eyes, figuring she should probably stop expecting anything to ever remain a secret from the seemingly all-knowing hacker. “I am serious, Sombra. I have forgiven you, for all that you did. For the fear of what I would lose, for the guilt that I carried...”

Satya paused, a realization forming at the edge of her thoughts. “Whether it was your intention or not,” she continued, “you have shown me the truth in a great many things, brought me to the answers I may not have found otherwise. That much of the guilt I carried, I should not have been content to hold at all, that the bonds of friendship I was so afraid to lose were stronger than I ever thought they would be. I am stronger for having known you, Sombra. There was a time when I might have said that it was I that did not deserve you, for the kindness, the understanding, the patience you have shown me.”

Sombra had taken on a worried expression. “Satya, you don’t have to…”

Satya squeezed Sombra’s hand more tightly, trying to distill her thoughts to the most important sentiment. “Your past is full of regret, as is mine. In the trials you put me through, I have learned that I should not carry the guilt for things outside my control, or things that I did because I had no choice. And now, perhaps I may ease you of your burden, as well. I have seen who you are, in the moments when you are not thinking about what the world wants from you, and I see you, the kind, compassionate woman my heart longs for.”

Sombra’s eyes had become wet with tears, her quick breathing at the beginnings of sobs as Satya pulled her into a tight embrace. “Dammit, are all our mornings going to be like this?”

“Perhaps the next one will be more fun,” Satya reassured, putting a smile into her voice so Sombra could hear it with her head already buried in the architech’s shoulder.

“I mean, there’s no reason this one still can’t be…” There was a more devious smile in Sombra’s voice, though it was clear she was still choked with tears. The arms around Satya’s back crept up to her shoulders, making a purposeful, sensual journey back down to rest on her thighs.

Satya began to copy the motion, but lingered on Sombra’s back as she felt the woman’s entire torso arch against hers with every touch. She pulled their embrace in tighter as she continued, and was overcome with a pleasant warmth at the eager, shifting tension in Sombra’s frame.

After a moment, she pulled away, eyeing Sombra with a questioning expression. “When I touch you, it means a lot to you, doesn’t it?”

Sombra seemed taken off-guard by the sudden question. “I mean yeah, obviously. You know, it’s just…” Her face fell slightly. “It doesn’t happen a lot, that’s all.”

Satya supposed she felt something similar, and that Lena had been correct in assuming it was important to her. Aside from some best-forgotten exceptions, physical contact had been almost non-existent during her time at Vishkar. Yes, she had been shown that sort of affection as a child, on occasion, but not until the past few weeks with Lena and Lúcio had she known it as a positive sensation. And Sombra’s touch… Sombra’s touch could be many things: affectionate, playful, sensual, intimate, desperate, longing…

There was the physical pleasure, of course, and the reassurance Satya always felt, but it also made her feel valued, as the object of Sombra’s desire, and of her love. As someone to cling to in an unforgiving world. As someone trusted – though it was saddening to realize, Satya was perhaps the person Sombra trusted when she trusted no one else, and the only person in whom she could seek anything resembling a comfort free of lingering uncertainties.

“It… means a lot, when you touch me, as well,” Satya said, finally.

Sombra playfully arched an eyebrow. “Okay, glad we cleared that up, amiga. Now, you want to get back to it?”

Encountering no resistance but one of those surprised, sinister smirks that always made her blush uncontrollably, Satya shifted Sombra onto her back, straddling the woman’s hips and setting her hands on unexpecting but eagerly tensing shoulders. She ran them slowly down, across, and all over Sombra’s upper torso as she gently pressed through soft fabric into tensing muscle and delicate, sensitive skin. She occasionally crossed her arms in an attempt to even out the sensations from her very differently textured palms.

“Okay, shit, that’s… that’s no fair!” Sombra pouted with an edge of laughter, turning her head to the side in a move that failed to hide the blush clear across her face. She’d shifted slightly into the direction of her turn, and brought her arms up in a partial defensive posture, but made no move to actually use them in such a manner.

Satya felt extremely nervous at having tried something that, to her knowledge, was rather unusual, and tensed momentarily until she had properly processed that Sombra’s resistance wasn’t a genuine attempt to get her to stop. Sombra seemed to notice the moment of conflict, her pout fading to an embarrassed but warm smile as she continued to happily squirm against every touch. Her own arms drifted to linger around Satya’s midsection, the incursion of tactile pressure over her waist and hips nearly sending the architech off-balance.

There was a knock at the door.

“Cheers, loves! Breakfast is served!”

With a start, Satya rolled back off to the side, pulling the covers over the both of them in a panic that she couldn’t quite explain, given that they were both still fully-clothed. After a moment, her widened eyes softened slightly as a blush formed on her cheeks, and she looked over at Sombra, who let out a small, amused chuckle that she’d apparently been stifling until she could discern how serious Satya’s reaction had been.

“It’s okay, I know you’re both in there,” Lena began in a low, strained voice that made it obvious she was whispering as loudly as she could, directly against the outside of the door. “Just, tell me whenever you’re ready.”

Sombra shrugged her shoulders, deferring to Satya, who sighed and locked her eyes on the ceiling above her. “Very well.”

Lena carefully opened the door, stepped through, and closed it behind her. “Hey Satya, love, can I set this down somewhere?”

Satya looked over at the large tray the woman was carrying and reluctantly sat up, moving around to the foot of the bed as Sombra pulled her legs in to allow the architech passage. When she reached the edge facing the door, Satya constructed a long, rectangular table alongside the bed.

Lena set down a tray containing a plate stacked with golden waffles, as well as a pitcher of what looked to be orange juice, a bottle of maple syrup, a small bowl of fruit, and the appropriate plates, glassware, utensils, and napkins. “Sorry, love, didn’t know if you wanted anything different,” she said as she cast a glance toward Sombra.

“If you made something edible, I’ll take it,” Sombra said with a wide grin as she hungrily looked over the tray. “Don’t know when I’ll get that chance again!”

“Oi!” Lena put her hands on her hips in offense that might have been genuine.

Satya shot the hacker a stern glare, and the grin faded. “I mean thank you?”

“Yes…” Satya agreed with uncertainty, her gaze trailing back to Lena as Sombra sat at the edge of the bed and started filling her plate. “It was very kind of you, but… what are you doing here?”

“Please, you think I’d miss this? I feel so honored.” Lena wistfully set her gaze askew as she held both hands over her heart. Satya shared an embarrassed but somewhat amused glance with Sombra.

After a moment, Lena’s face fell slightly. “Actually, there was one thing I wanted to talk to you about,” she said, looking at Sombra again. She seemed to nervously avert her gaze as she clasped her hands. “So does, um… does Widowmaker eat?”

“I mean, not as much as you or I would,” Sombra began, apparently unphased by the unusual but probably legitimate question. “Her metabolism’s too slow for that. Like, once every few days should be good, and probably start out with simple stuff. She’s been on plain rations for like, forever.”

“Okay, thanks, um…” Lena paused. “She’s still in her room. I tried earlier, but… I don’t think she really wants to talk to me.”

“Sounds like you didn’t try hard enough,” Sombra snarked in a low murmur.

“Uh, wot?” Lena seemed more stunned than offended.

“Nothing,” Sombra added a little too quickly.

“Anyway, I was thinking…” Lena continued hesitantly. “Since you know her… if she doesn’t come out on her own then maybe you could possibly talk to her?”

“…Okay, I can try,” Sombra acquiesced with a slightly pained expression, “but I’m not sure…” She let out a long sigh. “With Talon gone just like that, it’s going to be tough for her to adjust. It might be days before she wants to see anyone at all, and even then… I’ve only ever seen her reconditioning lapse for like a week at most. She was due pretty soon, but now… I’m not really sure how she’d react to something like this, and it would probably take a while to sink in, whatever it is, but my guess is it’s not going to be good.”

Lena seemed to spend a long moment taking in that information. Eventually, her expression softened again. “Well, loves, I’ll leave you two be for a bit. Lunch is in a couple hours, so I guess I’ll see you… whenever you feel like getting out of bed.” She gave both women a knowing wink as she quietly slipped back out the door.

Satya settled in near a seemingly bewildered Sombra at the edge of the bed, properly positioning her plate in front of her and holding her knife and fork aloft as she carefully planned her first cut into the waffle she had placed there. In her peripheral vision, she noticed Sombra pause to watch the careful incision she had started along one of the interior walls.

“I take it this is one of your favorites?” the hacker queried with a sly grin.

“It is one of the only foods made with a mold,” Satya began, with admiration in her voice, “always cast with the same shape and dimensions. An edible geometric rendition of a circle perfectly centered on a coordinate grid.” She finished her explanation just as she neatly carved away the southwest quadrant.

“Wow, breakfast and a math lesson,” Sombra snarked, “you really know how to show a girl a good time.”

“…Am I boring you?” Satya asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, no, of course not!” Sombra insisted, her hands raised in front of her. She paused to consider something, looking down at her own plate. “It’s actually just… nice to see you get so excited about stuff like this. I never would have thought of it that way.”

Satya wasn’t sure what to say to that, and the two ate in silence for several minutes while another idea was busy assembling itself in Satya’s mind.

“She is the one you wanted to help,” Satya finally realized aloud.

“Yeah,” Sombra answered with a low sigh.

“I gather that you could not before,” Satya began, “without risking your allegiance to Talon. Do you think it is possible now?”

Sombra paused to consider something, her expression grave as she looked Satya in the eye. “Her at Talon… it was like you at Vishkar, but way worse. And now she has a lot less time to figure it all out.” She let out a long sigh. “We’ll see, I guess.”

Satya tried to imagine what it would have been like if she had been completely loyal to Vishkar one day, then suddenly without them the next. It was hard to picture any variation of events in which she would have been at all willing to accept that her life could be improved by the change. Sombra definitely had her work cut out for her.




Satya stood at the edge the doorway overlooking the common room they had all gathered in the day before. It was still around fifteen minutes prior to what she supposed would be an acceptable time to arrive for Lunch.

Sombra had left earlier to wash her uniform – Satya certainly wouldn’t blame her for her preference to be wearing it at all times – and then to make an attempt at conversing with Widowmaker. From further out into the facility, she could hear Lena and Zarya’s voices emanating from the kitchen.

Lúcio was sat at one of the tables, wearing a large headset distinct from his usual one. He seemed quite deep in concentration, fiddling with a series of metal boxes and wires that Satya presumed to be music-related. To his right sat Genji, who appeared largely fixated with pressing buttons on a small handheld device slightly larger than a cell phone, but who also cast the occasional glance over to watch the DJ work.

Satya found herself considering a problem that she had never, ever, expected to be faced with.

Over the past few weeks, Satya had engaged in not one, but several arrangements that she could consider friendships, and she was now faced with the perplexing puzzle of how to best allocate her time between them. Several members of the group had confided in her about their own problems or concerns, and it seemed prudent to follow-up with those situations.

The private matter Lena had disclosed two nights ago could only have become more urgent, given recent developments, and she had confided in Satya alone, thus it seemed of import to be available to her as soon as possible.

Lúcio had been concerned about Genji, and they both had seemed rather cryptic about something that had involved Zarya. Satya supposed Genji was actually the person to converse with on the matter, though she suspected that of the two, Lúcio might be more open to discuss it.

That matter seemed time-sensitive as well, since Satya only knew partial details concerning the rift between Zarya and the rest of the team. She would prefer to avoid the woman, if possible, until she could learn the complete situation from Genji or Lúcio, but that would likely put even more strain on the group at a time when it was crucial that they all find a way to work as a team.

“I presume you slept well.”

Zenyatta’s voice was imbued with only the slightest trace of suggestion – which he would have certainly denied if called on it – as he took the space in the air to Satya’s left. The architech was almost getting used to the monk’s unannounced appearances.

Almost.

“I suppose so,” Satya replied, doing her best to pretend as if she had detected no other meaning in the monk’s words.

“If I may ask,” began Zenyatta, “what has brought you to this particular impasse? There seems to be something on your mind.”

“I was simply… considering how I could be of the most assistance,” Satya explained, with a certain hesitance. “Many here have confided, in me, things that… trouble them. And I do not wish to neglect their investment. It is my… responsibility as a friend, is it not?”

“I see…” The omnic paused, looking thoughtful. “And what is it that troubles you?”

Satya considered, finding the question odd. “As I have just said, there are several matters for which my comfort may be required.”

“Yes, your concern for others is most evident, but as to the matter at hand, I am not certain you have reached a complete understanding.”

Satya briefly froze, concern in her voice as she gave the omnic her full attention. “Then please, enlighten me. If there is something I have misread, I…”

Zenyatta raised a hand in front of him. “I only seek to clarify. I am uncertain whether it is apparent to you, that you seem unaffected yourself.”

“Oh.” Something began to click in Satya’s mind as she tried to place what, exactly, she was missing. There had certainly been a somber mood lingering ever since the events at the Volskaya facility. Being in danger was one thing, but that should not have differed between herself and the rest.

There was something larger. Something to do with the state of the world, the darkness and doubt it had been cast into.

“Everyone I care about is here,” Satya realized aloud.

Knowing how devastating their enemy’s attacks could be, and that there was likely no one they couldn’t reach if they wished it so… Lena was likely concerned for Emily, and the other members of Overwatch. Lúcio had friends and family in Rio de Janeiro. For Genji, perhaps it was his brother, and other members of Overwatch, as well as the Shambali, whom Zenyatta must also be concerned about. Zarya would be fearing for her country and its people, and Sombra…

Save for one, Sombra may have lost all of her former associates at Talon, and beyond that, there were likely dozens of people across the globe, perhaps hundreds, who would be entirely unaware that Sombra knew of their existence, let alone may be deeply concerned for their safety.

But Satya had no one. Not her birth family, of course, nor anyone at Vishkar. She had no one to be concerned for who was not also holed up in the very facility she was standing within.

“Thank you,” she said aloud, her voice filled with urgent gratitude for the monk, who had been waiting patiently while she had been thinking. “I do not always…”

“I am sure they would appreciate your diligence,” Zenyatta filled the growing silence as Satya trailed off. “The things that trouble us do not disappear, simply because they have been overshadowed by others, and I am sure that in time, the others will seek your counsel, as they will mine. For now, however, I believe they will benefit most from our mere, supportive presence at this afternoon’s meal.”

Satya considered for a moment, before looking back over the room in a sudden panic. The two of them were alone, Lúcio and Genji having already left, and it was several minutes past the time Satya had planned to arrive for lunch.

“I hope my assistance has been enlightening,” Zenyatta chided, “but we should most likely hurry.”

Satya started toward the exit at a brisk pace, Zenyatta hovering beside her at a speed that defied his usual tranquil demeanor.




The dining hall was a large room with four long, light tan tables. The walls were decorated to resemble the shore of a lake, with crooked trees, sand, and driftwood giving way to deep blue water and the distant shore. The decoration extended along three walls, giving the room the appearance of a peninsula. The fourth wall held the long serving station and, beyond it, opened into the kitchen, a smaller space lined with counters and cupboards on either side and the many shining, metallic doors of the cold storage section along the far wall.

This time, Zarya had been performing a more active role in helping Lena to cook, and Satya wasn’t sure how she felt about that. At the very least, all the food displayed at the serving station, even the offerings that had been assembled by hand, now seemed to consistently follow the laws of Euclidean geometry.

Satya briefly paused as she stood at the beginning of the middle aisle, between the two inner tables. The layout of the room and the tray in her hands threatened to bring another painful memory to the surface, but Lúcio’s enthusiastic, waving hand snapped her out of it. She caught sight of the DJ, at the end of the table nearest to her left and sitting on the far side, Genji occupying the actual end-seat beside him. Not having needed to fill a tray, Zenyatta had already taken to hovering at the head of the table, just past Genji.

Satya took a seat at the bench on the aisle side, properly aligning herself and her tray across from and equidistant between Lúcio’s and Genji’s positions.

“Hey, Satya… how you holdin’ up?” Lúcio asked with a cautious hesitance.

“Truthfully, I am… rather unaffected. Perhaps it is taking some time for reality to set in, but it is yourself, and the others, that most concern me at the present moment.”

“I… kinda get that, a bit,” Lúcio admitted, “Sometimes it doesn’t even feel real. I’m still kinda waiting for it all to hit me at once.”

“I think it is best to bide our time,” Genji added with a notable calmness. “I trust that I will be called on if my skills are needed, but until then, it is of little use to dwell on matters outside our control.”

“Hey…” Lúcio began somewhat quietly as he scanned the room. “I’ve been meaning to ask, is this ‘Sombra’ the same ‘Sombra’ that leaked all those Vishkar emails a while back?”

Satya almost smiled at the DJ’s unshakeable single-mindedness. “To my understanding, Vishkar was never a direct target of hers, merely… collateral damage.” Satya paused, something else occurring to her. “Actually… there was one isolated instance. The message I told you about, the one that led me to leave Vishkar… she was the one who ensured I would receive it.”

“Oh,” Lúcio said in surprise, his expression shifting to something distinctly positive, if still possessing traces of confusion.

“But… you should probably not mention this to her, directly,” Satya added cautiously. “She has continually expressed guilt at having initiated my involvement, and though I believe the matter to be resolved, I would hope to avoid bringing it up again.”

“Okay, but… I thought she was your informant?”

“My what?” Satya asked, confused.

Lúcio looked at her oddly. “You know…”

“Lena, and master, led us to believe she was your contact,” Genji clarified. “They implied that you had sought her guidance on this matter.”

“They did?” Satya was rather strangely taken aback. She looked urgently to Zenyatta, who offered a mere shrug. “That is… one way to put it, I suppose. The situation is… rather complicated.”

Lúcio appeared to sense Satya’s hesitance, and dropped the subject, but there still seemed to be something on his mind. “There was… one other thing,” he began again after a time, a strange gravity to his voice. “What was Vishkar doing there? Y’know, before everything went to shit?”

Satya shuddered at the memory. “They were… attempting to recapture me, by persuasion. That man that was with them… that was Sanjay Korpal, my handler at Vishkar…” Satya paused in brief consideration, an eyebrow arching slightly, “…and, according to Sombra, also a high-ranking member of Talon.”

“Say what now?”

The words were low and quick, Lúcio having been taken suddenly aback. Slowly, a huge grin began to twist across his face. “Are you… wait, are you serious? Haha, you better not be playin’ wit’ me right now, cause that is…” He briefly leaned back in his chair, slapping a hand on his knee as he broke out in a fit of laughter. “I can’t… dammit, I can’t even say ‘I told you so’ for that one!”

Satya would not have been shocked if he would have begun to dance in celebration, and a small smile began to form on the architech’s own lips, interrupted only by thoughts of the encounter that had sparked the revelation. Something about Sanjay’s presence that night lingered strangely with Satya. Something he had said, something about his urgency

It was almost as if he had known what was about to occur.

Satya was roused from her thoughts as the others seemed to shift their attention to the direction of the kitchen. She turned to find Sombra had finally arrived to their meal, her usual state of dress now restored with the sole exception of her long gloves. It was difficult to read her expression, but Satya got the distinct sense that something rather troubling had occurred.

As Sombra started to move away from the serving station, tray in hand, Satya hesitated, lingering on the uncertainty of whether it was proper to extend an invitation when she had been invited herself. To her surprise, Lúcio enthusiastically waved the hacker over, and Sombra shot Satya an amused smirk as she settled in to the left of the architech.

“So, this the cool kids’ table?” Sombra snarked as she looked over the other occupants.

“I… guess we haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Lúcio.” The DJ extended a hand.

“Yeah, I know who you all are,” Sombra said between bites. She was already busy digging into a loaf of bread, apparently finding it disappointing.

Lúcio seemed taken aback, but continued unabated, quickly withdrawing his hand. “Hey, you doin’ alright?” he asked with hesitant concern.

“Just some stuff I’m doing for Lena. Didn’t go so well.”

Satya knew what that meant. Sombra shot her a quick look that possibly meant she hoped to discuss the matter later.

“I meant about…” Lúcio continued very cautiously, “…y’know, all this… you didn’t look so good last night.”

Sombra raised an amused eyebrow. “You’re really worried about me, huh? I don’t know what Satya’s told you, but…” She paused, rolling her eyes. “Okay, yeah, she probably told you I’m some kind of a saint or something. You’re not forgetting the part where I worked for Talon, are you?”

“I mean, you were with us back there, that’s what counts, right?” Lúcio said with some confusion.

“Okay listen.” Sombra brought up a hand to count off on her fingers. “I’m with whoever pays the best, gets me the best connections, or gets me closer to what I want.” She seemed slightly annoyed that the effect was largely lost without the accentuating presence of her hacking tools.

Satya wasn’t sure what to make of the hacker’s behavior, and shared a confused, apologetic glance with Lúcio.

“…If I may ask, precisely what is it you see in her, Master?” Genji asked in bewilderment as he turned to Zenyatta.

“I assure you, her virtues are merely… well hidden,” the monk explained, slowly.

“Yeah, keep them right next to Lúcio’s Hasselhoff playlist,” Sombra quickly chided.

The DJ seemed rather suddenly flustered. “Uh… what? Who? Me? No idea what you’re talkin’ about.”

Genji let out a light chuckle, and Satya suspected he was grinning under his visor.

With an eye-roll, Lúcio pointedly crossed his arms and averted his gaze. “…Okay, how’d you know about that,” he finally added in defeat, breezing through the words as quickly and quietly as he could manage.

“Perhaps I should have informed you about Sombra’s… proclivity for information-gathering,” Satya explained. “She is likely in possession of every one of our most well-concealed secrets.”

Both Genji and Lúcio froze, though Zenyatta remained unreadable. After a moment, Lúcio shot a glance of odd curiosity toward Satya. “So… why do you trust her, again?”

Sombra let out an amused cackle. “Yeah, you should all probably trust me about as much as you can trust Genji to buy the right kind of chocolate.”

Genji slammed his cybernetic hand on the table. “That was one time!

Lúcio, at least, still seemed able to derive some amusement from Genji’s misfortune. After a moment, however, his expression softened as he looked at Satya again. “So why do you trust her so much. I mean, it just seems like there’s a reason.”

Satya nearly froze as all eyes fell on her, but she recovered and chose her words carefully. “There are… several reasons,” she emphasized, noting Sombra’s smirk at the words, “but I suppose the first one was… as you are probably aware, there are many things I have difficulty communicating. With Sombra, it needed not be a concern. She already knew everything I would have wished to tell her.”

No one seemed to have anything to say to that, aside from a few odd looks that slowly grew contemplative. Lúcio’s thoughts eventually brought him to something resembling gratitude, though by that time, Sombra had already become too distracted to notice.

The meal passed uneventfully, and by the end Satya was still uncertain whether anyone suspected herself and Sombra were anything more than close friends. She wasn’t entirely sure why she had avoided the subject, aside from possibly having been too nervous to have brought it up of her own accord. There had still been a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the hacker, and Satya supposed it might be more prudent to wait until the others had accepted her fully before breaking the news.

As Satya got up to leave, she noticed that Lena had been eating in the kitchen. After a moment, she placed that the purpose was probably to avoid leaving Zarya alone, since it was unlikely she would have been welcome alongside the others. Though Satya trusted there to be a legitimate reason for her exclusion, she could not help but feel a strange, sorrowful sympathy.

Remembering the look that had passed between herself and Sombra, Satya waited in the hall, and sure enough, the hacker walked quickly over.

“I take it your meeting did not go well?” Satya asked, concerned.

“Yeah… let’s just say she doesn’t want to talk to me, either.” There was a sadness to Sombra’s voice, though it was quickly and rather forcefully replaced by a strange bewilderment as she continued. “There was something else though, she… she asked for you.”

“What?” Satya was taken aback. “She barely knows me at all.”

“I mean… maybe that’s why. Or… I guess to her, you might seem like the only sane one.”

Satya tried to remember her brief interaction with Widowmaker the day before, and it did make some amount of sense. “Perhaps she has an appreciation for logic and practicality.”

“Yeah, that might be it…” Sombra considered, seeming contemplative. “Anyway, just though you should know. I mean, it might help, but… I wouldn’t ask you do it or anything.”

Satya knew, then and there, that she couldn’t refuse if it would mean forcing the situation back on Lena. But even if the alternative was to simply leave Widowmaker to her isolation… Satya knew she couldn’t. Both Lena and Sombra had expressed that they cared for her, and more than that…

Satya herself had to admit that she felt a strange kinship with the sniper, one that had only become more evident after the parallel Sombra had drawn to her time at Vishkar. Widowmaker was someone who had been taken, altered, conditioned, in a manner even more severe than what Satya had been subjected to. If anyone could understand her situation, and perhaps understand how to help her without causing her to recede further into her programming…

“Perhaps…” Satya began, her resolve outweighing her trepidation, “…it might be worth an attempt.”

Chapter Text

Satya stood outside the door, hesitating with her organic hand closed into a fist and ready to knock. Her prosthetic arm delicately balanced a serving tray adorned with a teapot, two empty teacups on saucers, and a basket of bread – some of the few appropriate nourishment items Sombra had indicated she could safely begin with, if she ignored the rather unhelpful suggestion of ‘probably like a fuckton of wine, I guess.’

She wasn’t entirely sure what she actually planned to do. Any attempt to appeal to Widowmaker’s emotions would be pointless, and would likely do more harm than good. Any attempt to break her programming, or anything that would give away her intention to do so, would only result in the same. Was Satya actually planning on lying to her? The truth was something the sniper would certainly be unprepared and unwilling to hear, just as it had been with Satya herself while under Vishkar’s conditioning. What, she wondered, would have been most useful to her then? What could have helped her the most, if time was not an option? As she pondered the question, Satya took a moment to again go over the brief words of advice Sombra had given her.

Try not to stare. I mean, not that I’d ever blame you, but she doesn’t like it much when people make a big deal out of the blue.

She hates small-talk just as much as you do. Maybe more.

Don’t show any weakness. I swear she can smell fear or something. Just put on the same game face you did at Vishkar, if you can manage.

She’s not going to agree to anything she thinks is dumb, but she doesn’t always say ‘no’ if that’s the option you give her.

If she talks shit about me, let her. I’m… starting to think I might deserve it.

Actually, if she talks shit about anyone, just go with it. The more on her side you seem, the better.

To be honest, you probably know what to do better than I do. Just… don’t be afraid to be yourself.

With a sigh and a roll of her eyes, the architech steeled herself and knocked three times on the door. The nervous silence that followed stretched for only a few seconds in actuality, but felt like an eternity to Satya.

“Yes?” Widowmaker purred from inside.

“As you requested,” Satya stated evenly, letting the words hang in the air. She heard a few quiet steps toward the door, and in a moment, she was face to face with the former Talon sniper.

“Symmetra, I presume,” the assassin said through a glare that conveyed skepticism more than malice. The codename sounded strange as it rolled across her delicate accent.

“That is correct,” Satya replied, supposing the sniper would prefer the formality.

Widowmaker’s face fell into an amused smirk. “…Step into my parlor, said the spider to the fly,” she sneered as she stood aside, gesturing to the interior of the room. It was brighter than Satya had expected – though not concerningly so – as the bedspread and carpet echoed the glistening off-white of the seemingly endless salt flats portrayed along the walls.

“I am not sure how that is pertinent,” Satya replied flatly as she entered, ignoring the sniper’s scowl of disappointment and lingering gaze as she made for the open area between the bed and couch. The architech carefully transferred the tray to her other hand, used her prosthetic to construct a circular table, then set the tray down and constructed a stool on either side. She poured out tea for the both of them, then sat pointedly at one of the stools, elegantly crossing her legs and eyeing the sniper expectantly.

Widowmaker retained her combat uniform in its entirety, down to the black, fingerless gloves on each hand and the thin supply pouch strapped to her right thigh. All she lacked was her rifle, which sat on the small shelf on the wall to the right of the bed. She had her arms crossed as she eyed the architech with suspicion. The web tattoo along her right forearm read ‘cauchemar,’ and up close, her skin was clearly more of a faded purple or periwinkle than any actual shade of blue.

“I can leave you be, if you would prefer,” Satya finally stated at the sniper’s hesitance, “but I suppose there must a reason you requested my presence.”

“…Yes, how rude of me,” Widowmaker said, a strange smile in her voice as her expression softened. She took a seat at the opposite stool, mirroring Satya’s elegant posture, but paused unexpectedly as she eyed the arrangement before her. After a moment of contemplation, the first thing she reached for was not the tea or the bread, but the surface of the table itself. She ran her fingers over the smooth, semi-metallic surface with a strange expression of familiarity. She looked back up to meet Satya’s gaze with a question in her piercing eyes.

“Why did you catch me?”

Satya blinked, taken slightly aback. “Because you would have fallen.”

Widowmaker scowled. “What concern is my life to you?”

So that was it. “Someone I have great faith in vouched for you. I trusted her judgement.”

“You should not have.”

Silence hung in the air for a moment before Widowmaker spoke again, a weak smile and a slight chuckle of false pleasantness punctuating her words.

“And so, here we are… doing what, exactly? Wasting away in hiding, while we put our faith in the competence of fools? Taking time to recover from oh, such a terrible shock… I can only wonder what that is like. Though, perhaps I will find out soon enough, seeing as my condition will only deteriorate without Talon to correct it.” She reached out to take hold of her teacup, raising it in both hands as her gaze seemed to sink into its contents. “But oh… C’est la vie.”

As she watched the sniper drink her tea, Satya attempted to gauge her companion’s presence of mind. Her words had certainly seemed passive-aggressive, to the extent that Satya could recognize it, but the sniper’s overall demeanor carried a similar edge. It was not entirely clear how, exactly, the woman was taking such a sudden and complete break from the purpose she had been conditioned for, and Satya found the uncertainty distinctly frustrating.

Widowmaker set the teacup back on its saucer, her gaze lingering on the hardlight surface of the table once more. She considered it intently, her blank expression beginning to falter as something urgent or shocking seemed to cross her mind. “You… create machines, correct?” she finally asked. Her voice was calm as ever, but the look in her eyes bordered on something like desperation.

“…Yes,” Satya answered as she felt a strange, foreboding feeling about where this line of questioning was headed. “I require exponentially more preparation according to the level of complexity, but with sufficient time and effort, hardlight can be made to replicate any kind of technology, including hardlight generation itself.”

The sniper had followed the architech’s words with interest, but suddenly turned away, shaking her head with a hiss-like sigh. “I should not even consider it. I was never made aware of what machines they used, regardless.”

Widowmaker paused, considering something, until her expression seemed energized once more.

Sombra would know. Yes, of course she would! But…” Her eyes immediately narrowed into a deep scowl. “But she would never agree to it.” Widowmaker shook her head, laughing darkly in resignation. “Ah, the irony. Soon, she will have everything she ever wanted from me.”

It was a lot to take in, and Satya still wasn’t sure she fully understood. “What is it Sombra wants from you?”

Hmph,” Widowmaker scoffed, “Sombra is a fool. She wishes for me to be more like herself, and at the same time, seems to wish for herself to be more like me.” The sniper let out a long sigh, any trace of a smile disappearing from her lips. “She wants this. For my reconditioning to break down, for me to… feel things again, no matter how much it compromises my effectiveness.”

“But… you do not?” Satya said gently, inviting the sniper to continue.

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” Widowmaker murmured with resignation. “It is inevitable now.”

Satya matched the woman’s averted gaze, finding a strange and not wholly unfamiliar sadness in her words. “I am sorry,” she said softly.

“No, you’re not,” Widowmaker said suddenly, turning back to face Satya with narrowed eyes. “How could you be? It is what you want, too, is it not? What you all want for me? You must think I am the fool, to wish to remain so cold and unfeeling.”

Satya winced. “It was not so long ago that I wished for the same thing.”

It was a dangerous play, she knew that. The last thing Widowmaker would be amenable to was the implication that her opinion on the matter would change, and the moment Satya compared Vishkar to Talon, that would become unavoidable. Sure enough, the sniper was already showing a harshly skeptical expression.

“My life has changed much in these past weeks,” Satya continued, making her best effort to tread lightly. “I have experienced many sensations that I was previously unfamiliar with.”

Widowmaker arched an eyebrow. “But I suppose you have embraced them,” she sneered.

“Those that I found acceptable,” Satya said neatly and concisely, with hints of a familiar condescension. “There was a time when I was overwhelmed, but I have learned to navigate my feelings, and allocate them to their proper time and place.”

The more Satya spoke, the more her words seemed to ring true. It was almost frightening, how easily the manner with which she’d carried herself at Vishkar was now returning to her. She supposed it had never actually left her, only been augmented to account for additional possibilities.

“What a way to say you have allowed yourself to be compromised,” Widowmaker said with a faint smirk of amusement.

Satya arched an eyebrow. “Do I seem compromised to you?”

Widowmaker sighed, shaking her head. “It is different. You are different, I suppose. I remember how it was for me, before. Do not try to tell me it will be different this time.”

“You… are not exactly incorrect,” Satya hesitantly admitted, her condescending tone faltering for only a moment. “But how are you to know it will be like before? You are different, also, if I understand it correctly. Can you be certain that all of what was done to you will be so easily undone by time alone?”

It was a long moment of apparent contemplation before Widowmaker spoke. “If it is like the other times, it will happen slowly, little by little. I have never allowed it to progress past the point it began to affect my performance, so I truly do not know the extent of what may occur.”

“If it happens slowly,” Satya began, “then that is one advantage I did not have. It gives us time, and we can deal with the symptoms as they present themselves.”

The sniper had an eyebrow raised again. “What is it you are proposing? That you would help me suppress my feelings?” she chided with smug amusement.

“No, but… perhaps I can help you understand them, channel them into something you do not have to be afraid of.”

Widowmaker scowled. “I am not afraid. I do not feel fear.”

Satya gave the sniper an amused look in return. “Then whatever it is that makes you concerned.”

It was quiet for a time, the sniper appearing to sink back into her own thoughts. Satya patiently drunk her tea, and after a time the two began to slowly pick at their simple meal. Widowmaker regarded the architech oddly, but finally seemed somewhat at ease in her company.

“How long are you going to stay here?” Widowmaker asked suddenly, her voice notably to-the-point and lowered in volume.

“As long as you would prefer,” Satya answered matter-of-factly.

Widowmaker paused at that, considering the idea with apparent confusion. “I… think I would like to be alone now, but… you will return tomorrow?”

“Of course, if that is what you want.”

“Leave this,” Widowmaker commanded, laying a hand on the table as Satya got up to leave. “If… it is practical to do so.”

“It is alright, yes,” the architech confirmed. “Is there anything else?”

Widowmaker was still for a moment, deep in thought. “Why would you do this for me?” she finally asked, her eyes narrowed in skepticism.

Satya was still for a moment as well. The sniper was unlikely to respond well to sentiment, as Satya very well knew was involved in her decision. “Your company has not been disagreeable. Perhaps I would occasionally prefer someone intelligent to share my tea with.”

“As would I,” Widowmaker replied with a slight grin.

Satya wasn’t entirely sure what she was feeling, as she left the sniper’s room and made her way through the halls toward her own.

It had been easy to lie to her. Easy, because most of it had been the truth.

Lacking in emotion as she might have been, Widowmaker was a person. A person afraid of uncertainty, just as Satya had once been. Satya hoped she could help the woman experience life anew just as she, herself had, if that were even possible. But the idea that she might disappear entirely, to be replaced by the person she had once been… it seemed somehow wrong to Satya, and filled the architech’s heart with a strange sadness.

Was that how she, herself had seemed after Vishkar? Despite everything, she didn’t feel as if that part of her had disappeared, especially after today. Her desire for elegance and structure was something inherent that would not simply go away. But it might not be the same with Widowmaker, who had a past self she had shown specific reluctance to return to.

Was it fair to consider Widowmaker an individual worthy of preservation, when she had been created at the expense of another?

Something about that thought deeply troubled Satya, seeming distantly familiar in a way that tapped at a long-closed door in the back of her mind.

Was it fair to even ask that question, simply because of the circumstances? To consider trading one life for another only because it might happen regardless?

Satya had to admit that she did not know the entirety of the situation. She did not know who Amélie had been, or whether the distinction between the two was even tangible. Widowmaker’s fear – or whatever she would prefer to call it – might not even be justified.

What she did know, was that Widowmaker had clearly not expected an advocate. She had expected to be alone, was perhaps resigned to it.

What would have helped Satya most, she realized, if her separation from Vishkar had been under different circumstances, was an advocate. Someone who would not have openly challenged her in a way that would never have helped, but could have been a friend when she needed one. Someone who could have guided her in the right direction, but made certain not to push her into anything that would have been wrong for her. Someone who would have made the distinction between her inherent self and her loyalty to Vishkar, and known that only the latter was in need of correcting.

So, to the best of her ability, that was what Satya decided she would do.

Chapter Text

Sombra wasn’t in her room.

Or rather, she wasn’t in Satya’s room. Or their shared room, perhaps. It was still unclear what the arrangement between them actually was, a subject which lingered, strangely obscured, just past the edge of Satya’s conscious thoughts.

For now, though, she began her search through the bunker, unsure what, if anything, was currently expected of her. Lacking clear guidance on how the group’s time was to be managed made Satya uneasy, and she hoped to at least find someone who could confirm her presence wasn’t currently required somewhere specific.

The common room was empty, something Satya found rather odd. In these times, she was beginning to realize that her instinct was to want closeness – or, perhaps, more so to provide it where it was needed – and that seemed to be more-or-less the case with most of the others as well. There was clearly still a significant amount of unresolved tension among the members of the group, and Satya supposed it was more important than ever to find some way to rectify it.

The dining hall and kitchen were, as expected, empty as well, but low voices caught Satya’s attention as she made her way farther from the dormitories and closer to the larger rooms near the garage. She left the kitchen and crept stealthily down the hallway toward the open, divided room with the crossing footpaths.

“I mean, sure, chico, but as soon as you put a face to a movement…”

That was Sombra’s voice.

“…you’re already excluding people. Everyone hates corruption and megacorps, sure, but it’s always going to be just a little bit less than they all hate each other.”

“I dunno…” another voice began.

Lúcio’s, it seemed.

“…most of the time it seems like people can’t get enough of me. I mean, sure there’s always a few haters now and then, but people like to see the big hero, y’know? They wanna know their hero. It’s inspiring, and that’s worth a hell of a lot more than the people who’ve got a problem.”

“Yeah, well, yours is a local movement. To the people you need to reach, I’m sure seeing your face on all those posters is just as inspiring as it needs to be. Me, on the other hand… I’m a global operation – or, I was – and that’s a lot more tricky. Even just what you can tell from the name and the symbol are things a few pendejos still have opinions about, nevermind these.”

Satya had peeked around the corner with sufficient angle of sight to see that Sombra was pointing out the ridges of her cranial implants to Lúcio. The two of them sat on the couch to the right of the security room, in the quadrant between it and the hallway Satya had been listening from.

Lúcio seemed somewhat concerned. “I really think you’d be surprised.”

Sombra laughed with a broad smirk. “And you’d be wrong there. Trust me, I do my research. Besides, I gave up caring what people think a long time ago. The Collective was about exposing the truth, not about getting anyone to like us—well, me.”

“Still, I could totally have seen us working together back in the day, you know that?”

Sombra seemed somewhat taken aback. “Well, you were certainly on my radar, amigo, but like I said, Portero didn’t pan out and if that eye has any solid link to Vishkar, I could never find it.” She paused for just a moment. “Which is a shame, because those assholes totally deserved my kind of trouble.”

Satya heard slow, light footsteps behind her and managed to soften her startled response when Genji appeared next to her, silently putting up his hands in a non-threatening gesture and moving to observe the scene as well.

“Well, woulda’ been glad to have you,” Lúcio added with a smile and a slight shrug, “I mean we had it covered, don’t get me wrong, but damn if it wouldn’ta been fun.”

“Totally. I mean, Sanjay would’ve been pissed but that would’ve just made…” A devious smirk spread across her lips. “Wait, you know who Sanjay is, right?”

Lúcio’s whole face lit up with a smug grin. “Yeah, Vaswani already told me about that.”

“Dammit, I wanted to see your face!” Sombra pouted, snapping a fist across the space in front of her, though her grin failed to disappear.

Satya and Genji silently backed away down the hall, the architech giving a small smile and guessing the cyborg was returning it beneath his faceplate.

“I was… not sure she would manage to connect so well with anyone else,” Satya said softly when she figured they were out of earshot. “I am glad to find that I needed not be concerned.”

“Lúcio seems to end up friends with everyone eventually,” Genji replied with a short, filtered laugh, “I was hoping to ask him about something, but… I suppose it might be nice to have a break from the constant worry he still seems to be hiding.”

“Oh, yes, that is right, I…. wished to speak with you.”

Satya realized her mistake when Genji’s posture slackened with resignation.

“I did not mean…” Satya added quickly, her words hanging awkwardly in the air as she stopped near the door to the kitchen. “I… suppose you would prefer not to?”

Genji paused as well, frozen for a moment before he relaxed, his faceplate tilting in a presumed eyebrow-raise. “I take it he has passed his concerns on to you?”

“It… may have been discussed.”

Genji sighed at the words, but there seemed to be more humor in it than actual frustration. “Then, perhaps it would be best if I explained properly.”

After a brief peek around the corner to make sure the room was empty, the cyborg led Satya into the dining hall, and the two took seats across from each other at the far end of the rightmost table. Genji clasped his hands and waited for Satya to situate herself before he began.

“While I appreciate the compassion you both hold for me, I hope you can imagine how frustrating it could be, to be looked upon with such pity. I recognize it may be difficult to act as if nothing is amiss, but I prefer to put such concerns aside, to not let what has happened take more of my life than it already has.”

“…Oh,” Satya began with a slight hint of embarrassment, before growing solemn. “I apologize, but… I do not think I will be of much use to you, in that case. I assume it is a more… casual, or superficial companionship that you would prefer, and that, I am unable to provide.”

“Ah,” Genji said in reply, seeming only briefly taken aback. “I would not dwell on it. I can see the others find great comfort in you.” He gestured another brow-raise. “Though, to be certain, I am not one so fond of small-talk, either. It is simply…”

The cyborg paused, clearly having trouble finding the words. Satya gave him time.

“…I did not always wear the same armor,” Genji began again, the very slight rush to his words carrying the promise of a conclusion best arrived at through a different starting point. “The first design was merely functional. Mechanical. That was always when I was at my worst.”

He held out his right arm over the table, his gaze falling to the limb as he twisted his forearm to upturn his palm, then back over again.

It was one of the first things Satya had noticed about him, she recalled. His body may have been artificial, but it was a far cry from the static, piston-frame of an omnic. Genji’s form moved like the muscle it resembled, its overall shape creating something distinctly human.

“It is not as though I have done nothing,” Genji explained. “But it was only the first step. I was always to be marked as an outcast, seen by the world as something other, and there were times I became convinced that was all I could ever be. What Master taught me was to recognize my human spirit, and that it remains intact always.” He paused, crossing his arms and taking on a more relaxed posture. “I know who I am, and that is the life I now choose to live, all else aside. If others cannot see that, it is their failing, not mine.”

“That, I… believe I am able to understand,” Satya said with slight hesitance.

After a moment, Genji seemed to think of something else, and averted his gaze. “Though, if I am being truthful, I have found Zarya’s distrust of me more painful than I had hoped.”

“Yes, I… was not there. I have been trying to determine what happened.”

Genji sighed, visibly slackening in his chair as he met the architech’s gaze. “Like many others in the past, it is fear that drives her. She sees me as an omnic, or… she is not certain what she sees me as, but it is not human.”

Satya narrowed her eyes skeptically. “Did she… not see your face? It is clearly organic.”

“I did not show her,” Genji began with resignation. “It would not have made a difference. She sees what she wishes to see. It is not evidence that she makes her judgements upon, and so evidence would do nothing to correct them.”

Satya made a confused attempt to process the idea. “That does not seem logical in the slightest.”

A small, filtered laugh escaped Genji’s faceplate. “In that, I must agree with you.”

Light footsteps sounded from the hallway, and the two glanced back toward the entrance to find Lena clumsily peeking through the open doorway.

“Oh, there you are, loves! I… guess I’m probably interrupting something, but, uh… Satya? Can I borrow ya for a bit afterwards? Talk to you, I mean.”

“Of course,” Satya replied in a voice she hoped was loud enough to be heard from the other end of the room.

“Thanks, love. You… won’t even know I’m here,” said Lena, trailing off as she moved extra-quietly into the kitchen and started to search through cupboards with exaggeratedly slow movements.

It was probably getting rather close to dinner time, Satya noted as she turned back toward Genji.

“It has been pleasant speaking to you, Satya,” the cyborg offered with folded hands and a slight bow of his head. “I should hope, that when a brighter day comes to pass in Overwatch, we will not find ourselves at odds.”

Satya arched an eyebrow. “If the juvenile frivolities – and resulting damages – I have heard regaled in yours and Lena’s stories are to become commonplace once again, I am not so confident that will be the case.”

Genji tilted his head, returning the gesture. “I doubt the decision will rest solely in my hands, but on my honor, I will do my best to make sure you are considered off-limits.”

“…I suppose that is the most I can hope for,” Satya said with a smile as she departed and made her way to the kitchen.

“Can you… cook at all?” Lena asked, straining on her toes to peer into one of the higher-up cupboards as the architech approached.

“…Yes, some things,” Satya slowly replied.

“Good, cause I was thinkin’… Back at the watchpoints we used to do meals on rotation…” Lena sighed and closed the cupboard, her search apparently in vain. “Well, I was hopin’ we could start it up again.” She turned to face Satya, a cautious hesitance on her face. “So, like… if you’re ready, we could do dinner…”

“I do not think they will have all the ingredients I am used to, but… I could make an attempt.”

“Brilliant!” Lena exclaimed, though her nervousness returned a moment later. “Also… I still haven’t figured out how the dishwasher here works, and I can’t find anymore plates and bowls and silverwares and things so…” She sheepishly averted her gaze. “If you could do that thing you did before…”

Satya rolled her eyes with a sigh. “Yes, I suppose I could assist with that as well.”

Lena’s excitement seemed to return just as easily as she suddenly sprung forward into a tight hug around Satya’s waist. “Thanks love! You’re the best!”

Satya stood frozen for a moment, taken by surprise at the action, but as the embrace lingered and she felt the small pilot’s arms stuttering to tighten their hold, it occurred to her that there was likely more meaning behind the gesture than it had first appeared. She brought her own arms around to settle above and below the back component of the chronal accelerator, and Lena began quietly sobbing as she was pulled into Satya’s shoulder.

“Let it out,” Satya whispered, hoping it was the appropriate phrase of comfort. “You do not have to pretend with me.”

The kitchen was outlined with standing-height counter space and had no seating, so Satya carefully maneuvered her hands to create a small bench against the nearest row of lower cabinets. Gently, she settled herself and Lena upon it.

“I… I’m just…” Lena began, still fighting uneven breaths, “I’m really scared. I keep thinking… all this stuff is happening, and I don’t really know if anyone’s safe and… I’m not there. Cause I said all those things and if they really wanted to get to me and…”

She paused, making an effort to calm herself. Satya couldn’t think of anything to say, aside from what would be empty reassurances, so she continued to hold the smaller woman in silence.

“Oh… that’s right!” Lena mumbled with a short, bleak laugh, then readjusted her grip to pull Satya into a larger hug. “This is from Em. It… was a bit ago. Y’know, before… and, well…”

She seemed to grow more hesitant the longer she spoke, then finally pulled back enough that the two were facing each other.

“So, um…” Lena began again, averting her gaze and drawing her hands back to awkwardly tap her two index fingers together. “In like, this weird freak accident while we were talking, I kind’ve-might’ve completely not-on-purpose told Emily about you and Sombra.”

Satya was taken aback for a moment, but softened as curiosity overtook her, a question lingering in her thoughts. “And… how did you describe us?”

“Um, nothing… you know, just…” Lena hesitated, wincing as if anticipating a harsh reaction, “…just that you like girls, and… and she’s your girlfriend.”

Girlfriend.

Satya considered the word. Just that morning, Sombra had employed the term in jest, with the implication being that it was what the two of them were. Of course, that was what they were. It had been how Lena described Emily the first time she spoke of her, and Satya had always intended to pursue the same thing with Sombra, hadn’t she?

Still, it came as a shock to her. Even since they had become close, neither herself nor Sombra had directly addressed the nature of the arrangement between them. They had spoken of love, and of closeness, but it had not occurred to Satya until the present moment that she was currently involved in a relationship.

And the thought terrified her.

“Is… is that wrong?” Lena asked with a confused look, apparently having noticed Satya’s reaction.

“No, yes it… no, I would say that is the correct word,” Satya stumbled over, “I simply… it had not been stated out-loud before.”

Oh.” Lena’s eyes went wide. “Sorry about that, love!”

“It is alright, I…” Satya considered. “I suppose our situation has left little motivation for long-term thinking.”

Lena’s face fell slightly. “I guess that should probably be my job, yeah? Haven’t been much in the mood, but… we kinda need to get moving along, don’t we? Get ready for Sombra’s mission? Can’t mope around here forever, y’know…”

Satya could tell the pilot’s heart wasn’t in it. “Perhaps we should start small. Something simple we could prepare tomorrow?”

“I mean, I got a few ideas…” Lena’s mind seemed to wonder, an aversive hesitance in her eyes. “I guess we’re still not really on the same page yet. Kinda tough to get anything going. Do you… I mean…” She regarded Satya nervously. “How’d it go today?”

The question’s meaning obvious even to her, the architech had been in the early stages of organizing her thoughts when she quickly caught herself. As much as she loathed the idea of keeping another secret from Lena, something about giving a report on her conversation with Widowmaker seemed very wrong to her. “I… do not think I should say. I have gained her trust, in a way, and… I should not break that trust.”

“Oh,” Lena said, seeming taken aback, before her words and motions grew quickened and evasive. “No, no, you’re right, love. I don’t need to hear it. If… if she’s actually listening to you, then… I trust that you’ve got it handled.”

Satya had watched Lena’s display with growing concern, and she let out a light sigh. “I… know this must be difficult for you.”

Lena finally seemed to let herself relax. “I mean, not as much. Me and Em kinda talked about it for a bit, and… I mean, I do want to help with Widow, and Em doesn’t want me to worry, but…” Worry quickly settled on her face. “I mean, whether or not I believe that, it’s… it’s different when Widow’s actually here. Like, I’m just now remembering how dangerous she really is, and… everything else aside, it’s not just me I have to think about.”

Satya set a hand to Lena’s shoulder. “If I can handle this without involving you, I will make my best attempt to do so.”

“Appreciate that, love, I really do, but… I can’t run away from this. Promised I wouldn’t. Just might take some time, ‘sall.”

“Of course, but… you may always speak to me if you need to.”

Lena let out a short breath and smiled warmly, reaching up to her shoulder to gently lay her hand over Satya’s. “Thanks, love.” She paused for a moment of consideration, looking about the still-quiet kitchen. “Should probably get started on dinner, yeah?”

Satya smiled at the pilot’s renewed – and clearly genuine – excitement, and had to admit she herself was also a bit curious what she could come up with given the resources available.

“Of course. We would not want to keep our guests waiting.”

Chapter Text

Dinner was a rather solitary affair, both Satya and Lena remaining behind the counter for the duration, from preparation to cleanup. Satya didn’t mind at all, glad for the relative calm, the orderly routine, and Lena’s reassuring presence.

When Zarya made a brief appearance, collecting a substantial portion to take, presumably, back to her quarters, Satya managed to suppress her glare to the point of hopefully being indistinguishable from her natural demeanor.

“In the old Overwatch, it was different, you know,” Lena said thoughtfully once the soldier had departed. “We all had to work and live together, for better or worse. We’d work out our differences, or… or ignore them. Sweep them under the rug, whatever. I’m not sayin’ it was right to do that, but… it worked.” She let out a resigned sigh. “But you’re all new to this. Don’t really tolerate stuff like that. You draw a line in the sand for that kinda’ behavior and… Em would agree with you, and… and so would I, really. Still kinda’ makes it tough, though.”

Satya considered the words. Soon enough, she would need to have a proper discussion with Zarya. Though she’d been warned away before, and could easily imagine the sorts of verbal wounds that might cut her deeply, Satya was quite certain she could handle herself in such a confrontation.

Without any solid plan for the evening, the others eventually dispersed of their own volition, and the dining hall was emptied by the time Satya and Lena’s work in the kitchen was concluded.

Satya found Sombra in the room they both shared, the hacker seemingly deep in concentration as she considered several objects she’d arranged on the bedside table that had remained since the morning. She’d laid out one of her long arm-gloves – the left one – and had disassembled the circuitry, evidently intending to repair it with what seemed to be replacement components from a small utility pouch – something likely also having been stored somewhere in the coat that now rested on the nearby bedpost.

“Oh, hey, chica,” she said, looking up after a moment with a bright smile. “Sorry, just figured I should probably fix this up. The tech got messed up pretty bad, but I always keep spares around so it shouldn’t be long ‘til it’s good as new.”

Satya was paralyzed for a moment, wondering what, exactly, she was supposed to be doing. Had she arrived too early? Had she arrived too late? Did Sombra require more time alone? She stared at the seated hacker, searching in vain for answers.

Sombra narrowed her eyes in confusion. “Uh… you doin’ alright over there?” She shifted her posture just slightly away from her work, as if to signal her willingness to abandon it if required.

Satya found she wanted to say something, anything, but was at a loss for words. She longed to ask what was required of her, but that would be to admit defeat, that she might not be cut out for the communication and understanding that she knew was expected of her. That perhaps she was truly out of her depth, and should not have allowed herself into the situation at all.

Sombra’s expression softened to dawning concern. “Hey, you… you wanna come sit down?”

Hesitantly, but clinging to the offered lifeline, Satya slowly made her way toward the bed, edging around the table to take a seat beside Sombra. The hacker offered her left hand, scars still briefly visible on her forearm before she turned it so her palm could face upwards. Satya hesitantly took the offered hand with her right, a slight calm from the contact easing the worst of her trepidation.

“Is something bothering you?” Sombra began, her voice soft and genuine as her eyebrows creased worriedly. “Did… did something happen with…”

Satya had to think back over her day to recall what Sombra likely meant. “No, it was not… it was alright, speaking with her. Pleasant, even. I only… wanted to ask…” She eyed Sombra nervously, then looked away, taking several longer breaths.

“What… are we? To each other, I mean?”

“Well, we’re…” Sombra paused abruptly, her tension discernable through their held hands. “I mean, it’s… it’s whatever we want it to be, right? I’m kind of assuming we’re exclusive unless you tell me different, but that’s always something we can talk about if you want to.”

“That is not… it is not what I meant, I…” Satya exhaled, collecting her thoughts. “I am… concerned, because… I do not think I can be in a relationship.”

“No, you don’t… you don’t have to worry about that!” Sombra stuttered frantically. “Not now, I mean, and maybe not…”

“Something will happen,” Satya cut in, “It always does. I… I will make a mistake, and there are real consequences that I have never—”

Sombra reached out, taking hold of Satya’s left, hardlight hand with her right and bringing both between them, though Satya still did not meet the hacker’s eyes directly. “What consequences? That I’ll stop loving you? Because I won’t.”

She paused a moment, seemingly discomforted by the pointed silence, then closed her eyes and shook her head with a long, staggered sigh before she continued. “I… I know you’re always thinking ten steps ahead. How this is all going to work, making a plan of it… I don’t really do that shit.”

Satya finally shot an odd look back at Sombra, the hacker’s gaze averted now as her rather active eyes danced across a series of apparently difficult thoughts and considerations.

“I… try not to spend too much time thinking about the future,” Sombra began again with the air of an admission. “It’s hard to, when I’m never sure how long it’s even going to last. I just… I have to get through what’s in front of me, you know? No use wasting that energy on things that might not happen. So… I’m sorry if I’ve been leaving you in the dark on this, and if it’s important to you, we can work it out now, okay?”

Sombra’s eyes met Satya’s with a silent, nervous plea. “But I promise, this isn’t something you need to be this worried about. It doesn’t have to be what you’re thinking, it’s… this.” Her squeeze around the architech’s hands grew tighter. “This is all I need from you. That you’re with me, for as long as you still want to be. This only goes where you want it to go, and I mean that. It’s all on your terms, however you want to play it.”

Satya scowled with growing skepticism. “How can you mean that? Surely you have expectations, even if you are not aware of them, or take for granted that I will fulfill them.”

Amiga…” The hacker’s eyes had the noticeable shine of tears welling on their surfaces. “You’ve… you’ve already given me so much more than I could have ever asked for, I…” She closed her eyes with enough force to briefly part her lips, her breathing stuttered but slowly making progress in evening out. “And yeah, I know it’ll be tough. I know it’ll be different, but… maybe I want that. Every day with you, it feels like… like some huge fucking adventure you’re taking me on, that I didn’t even know was a thing that could happen, and I want that. I want to go with you, wherever you’re taking me, because I just know it’ll be something incredible I never even thought I wanted. I get that it doesn’t mean much for either of us right now, but I’d spend the rest of my life as… as whatever I am to you… if you’d let me.”

Satya often found she could never find the right words to form a proper response, but at the moment, she was quite certain there weren’t any words that could be considered adequate. Only her heavy, stunned breathing filled the silence as she gazed upon the nearly tearful hacker with widened eyes and a slight shiver. “I… I am not certain where I am taking you. This is entirely new for me, and I…”

“But that’s the best part,” Sombra assured with a warm smirk and eyes that swam. “It’s all new for me too. I mean, I know how it’s supposed to go, but… I don’t think I want that anymore. Not now that I have you.”

Through welling tears of her own, Satya returned the smile, then calmed herself to pondering as she set to work on the lingering question. “I think, perhaps, I would call you…”

Every label Satya could recall seemed juvenile, inadequate, or binding in a way that failed to express the vastness of what had already been said. With a light sigh, she continued, “I think you are a great friend who is far better with words than I am.”

Sombra raised an eyebrow. “Let a girl down easy, why don’t you?”

With a wince, Satya searched with building worry for the fear or hurt in Sombra’s expression, but what she found seemed to be only jest. “I did not mean… I know that we are more. Much more, but… I am your friend, and you are mine, and I think that is also important, for the both of us.”

Sombra’s eyes widened, her gaze briefly averting as a series of revelations sent her expression into another bout of rapid changes. She finally looked up at Satya with a wide, genuine, and tearful smile, raising a hand from their held embrace to stroke across the architech’s cheek. “I mean, when you put it like that, it’s… it’s… it’s perfectamiga.”

Satya found herself entranced in the stunning display of emotion in the woman’s eyes, the sparks of a gentle touch on her skin holding her captive to the rush of sensation that washed over her. In a moment, her hands were on Sombra’s shoulders and she lunged quickly forward, tilting her head as she pressed her lips warmly but urgently into Sombra’s.

Something between a hum and a squeak escaped the hacker’s throat in a moment of shocked tension, but her body immediately relaxed and twisted into the touch, the brief exclamation of surprise followed by an extended moan of contentment. Satya let her hands trail down Sombra’s back, and smiled into purple lips at the familiar arching that took place as she grasped at the sides of the woman’s waist. She felt Sombra’s hands on her abdomen before they slid upward, hungrily taking in every curve of her breast.

With a smooth twist of her hips, Satya brought her right knee up onto the bed and under her, hitching her other leg over both of Sombra’s as she pulled herself closer, the hacker leaning back to match as the architech took her shoulders again and held the kiss more firmly.

After a moment, the two finally pulled apart, lightly gasping for breath and staring widely into each other’s eyes. Over a luminescent blush, Sombra’s brows creased worriedly. “Hey, you’re goin’ a little fast there, amiga. Are you… are you sure?

Satya paused, considering. She hadn’t actually thought about how far she wanted this to go. Everything up to that point had been familiar, things she knowingly desired and had no qualms about, but looking down at the smirking hacker held like putty in her hands, she couldn’t have honestly told herself she had planned to carefully evaluate each further action before proceeding.

Sombra raised an eyebrow at the architech’s deliberation, but a hint of genuine concern still remained. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d never turn you down if you were really up for it, but… I did mean it when I said I don’t care if this is all.”

Satya was certainly more willing than she had been prior. Her hesitation had not faded completely – far from it, and she highly doubted it would ever fail to be a factor in need of consideration – but she had noted herself growing more comfortable with the idea as she’d grown closer to Sombra.

“I want you,” Satya said simply, nearly whispering as their parsed lips lingered only inches apart. She backed slightly away, taking Sombra’s hand in hers and guiding it far enough toward herself that a sudden blush formed on the hacker’s cheeks. “I… do not know when, or how often, or… under what circumstances I would find it acceptable, or if we will even have the chance, but… I want you.”

With a stunned, but suggestive smile – and what was now a very heavy blush – Sombra drew her hand away. “Y-yeah, um… that’s… that’s okay.” With a nervous sigh, she lowered herself the rest of the way down onto the mattress. She gently took hold of Satya’s wrist, guiding the architech into bed beside her.

“It… means a lot,” Sombra began again, looking across into the architech’s eyes once the two had settled in place, “that you’d be this honest with me. I… know I say a lot of shit about us not having enough time, but I really don’t want you to worry. If nothing else happens, I’m good with that.” She took both of Satya’s hands in hers, melding all four into a single embrace that she pulled near to where their heads rested on the pillows. “I have everything I need right here.”

They lay there in silence for several minutes, and after a time Satya could tell there was something hesitant brewing in Sombra’s eyes.

“It’s you,” the hacker said quickly and bluntly, with a nervous smile. “You’re everything I need, in case that part wasn’t clear. And obviously, like, not completely literally because—”

“I understood as much, yes,” Satya clarified with a slight nod, a faint grin forming on her lips as she watched the hacker become flustered.

“Yeah, okay well… just making sure, you know?”

Satya’s eyes grew contemplative as she considered a response for several moments. “…Thank you, anyway. I… do appreciate when you, too, are honest about how you feel. I know that is something you are not used to.”

“I mean, for you…” Sombra seemed contemplative as well. “I guess I don’t really mind as much. And, uh, speaking of things I need… as much as I just want to stay here like this all night…”

“…Oh,” Satya remembered, shifting to get up. “You still have work to complete.”

“It won’t take long, promise!”

Satya had expected she would find areas in the repair process where her hardlight technology would be of assistance in improving on Sombra’s design, but to her surprise, and admiration, the hacker’s glove was a marvel in efficiency all its own. “I… must admit, I am impressed,” she announced once the entirety of the design’s function was clear to her.

Upon completion of the project, Satya settled back into bed, while Sombra sat cross-legged beside her. The hacker was running through a series of system checks, and Satya watched with interest as holographic screens and keyboards of floating hexagons appeared and disappeared in quick succession. The glowing nails accenting each of her fingers, Sombra’s hands flourished with smooth, practiced motions – both in coordination with the holographic interface, and in the short, stolen moments when she held them idly.

Satya paid particular attention to the latter, to the way Sombra splayed her nails out in a fan-like arrangement whenever she could, curling and uncurling her fingers in fluid sequence from first-to-fourth, or fourth-to-first. Her hands were always in the air, held out in front of her or just off to the side, kept within or near to her range of vision even when they didn’t need to be. A single fingernail tapped absently at her lips when she had something to contemplate, and a celebratory flourish would greet the air when she paused to admire her work.

For the first time, Satya really looked at Sombra’s face as the hacking tools danced their rehearsed performance. At the brightness in her eyes, the upturned corner of her lips, the indulgent edge she always added to her expressions when she wanted to hide the genuineness of her emotions.

Satya was reminded of something Sombra had said, just that morning.

“I think, now, I know what it is like,” the architech posed thoughtfully, just as the hacker dismissed the last of her screens.

“What’s that, now?” Sombra asked, freezing in place just as she’d begun to shift on the bed and giving Satya a somewhat startled, confused glance.

Satya slowly reached out, slipping her right hand into the palm of Sombra’s left, and, encountering no objection, pulled it down to her level so she could delicately examine the complex marvel of technology that served as the hacker’s set of false nails.

“To wonder how a person can find such joy in something so simple.”

She heard Sombra’s breath catch, then looked up to find wide eyes and the corner of a nervous smile, both seemingly attempting to draw attention away from the heavy blush forming between them. “I mean, yeah, no way I’d ever have real ones, so don’t you go worrying about that or anything, but…”

Satya pulled gently at the hand still within her grasp, and smiled brightly at the woman who then carefully slid under the covers to join her. Before the sheets had settled, she wrapped her arms around Sombra and pulled her close to place several light kisses on a reddening cheek.

“Oh, shit! I almost forgot!” Sombra exclaimed suddenly from within Satya’s tight hold. “We still have to do that thing, you know. What I promised?”

Satya paused just as her kisses had begun to travel down the side of the hacker’s neck. “I think you have told me enough already.”

“Yeah, but… it’s the first time since, you know? We have to do it for real.”

She waited for a moment while Satya relinquished the embrace only slightly, resting her head back against the pillows.

“Okay then, uh…” Sombra stuttered as she began, apparently not having thought the idea through completely. “Okay… pick one, happy memory, sad memory, or… embarrassing memory.”

Satya scowled in confusion, considering the odd choice she had been presented with. A lighter subject might be somewhat refreshing, given the content of their past several discussions. It might, however, be healthier for Sombra to openly discuss any pain or trauma she still hadn’t been open about. What Satya simply couldn’t abide, however, was the idea that there might still be anything Sombra was concealing for which she was afraid or nervous about what Satya’s reaction might be.

“Embarrassing memory,” Satya said simply, after some deliberation.

“Ooh, going right for the good stuff, I like it!” Sombra smiled fiercely, but it soon gave way to something more hesitant. “Uh… so…” Her face visibly scrawled, and when she spoke the next words, she seemed to be making an effort to get them out as quickly as possible.

“I still sleep with a teddy bear.”

Satya blinked in surprise. “…That’s it?”

“At my place back in Dorado, I mean,” Sombra began, her nervousness gradually fading as she continued. “It’s uh… one of those ones Overwatch used to give out to all the orphans of the crisis. One of the only things anyone ever gave me that I didn’t have to make them get for me. It’s kinda…” Her face fell with a slight wince. “Like, sometimes I just… wanted someone to hold, you know?”

Satya stared at the hacker for a few moments, her face growing slightly stern. “Are… Sombra? Is this a trick question, and no matter what I choose, all of your answers are secretly sad memories?”

The hacker made one of her slight little jumps of consideration, her eyes widening. “Um, uh, shit… now that I think about it… maybe?”

The architech pulled herself forward again, lifting herself partially to coax Sombra’s arms up and around her. “Well, at least in your companion’s absence, I hope I am able to provide an adequate substitute.”

“Oh, I think I might just like you better,” Sombra teased as she pulled Satya snugly against her chest, lightly rocking her back and forth several times.

They lay like that for some time, only making small adjustments to find more comfortable positions as they both started to drift off to sleep.

“Um, just to clarify…” Sombra began again, her voice slightly apologetic as Satya lingered on the edge of consciousness, “I definitely like you better. Like, the ‘maybe’ thing was a joke, just so you—”

“I was aware,” Satya mumbled, her quiet voice intermingled with slow breaths. “But… thank you.”

“Okay, good, cause… you know you’re like, my absolute favorite thing I can hold. And there are a lot of things I can hold, amiga, like… uh, my bear… my gun… my translocator… boobs… which isn’t even really a contest ‘cause you have some really nice ones, but like… someone else’s boobs, or… my own boobs – and I mean, not to brag or anything, but that one’s a really tough call – or like, uh… a starfish. I’ve held a starfish before, you know. It’s nice… but like, it was a really long time ago and I washed my hands a lot of times since then, so you don’t have to worry…”

“You are embarrassing yourself,” Satya mumbled again, though she couldn’t help the smile that formed at her lips.

“I mean, that’s what you asked for, right?”

Though her eyes were closed, Satya could clearly imagine the wide grin on the hacker’s face. “I love you,” she whispered gently.

Sombra seemed suddenly caught off-guard. “Uh, I love you too?”

After that, their correspondence was relegated to the gentle caresses of their shared embrace, and Satya finally managed to properly fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Lena blinked forward and to the right, keeping steady progress while also evading the burst of automatic fire that suddenly filtered through the path of her former trajectory.

There was a pause of brief silence, and after continuing on the same course long enough for her pursuer to have targeted her new position, Lena blinked forward and to the left.

The shots went wide at first, but through the pouring rain Lena could hear the procession of bullets increasing in volume as it swept across toward her. She blinked forward and high into the air, re-entering the timestream upside-down and facing backwards, then flicked her pulse pistols from her gauntlets and fired a volley at her pursuer.

She blinked down and past the edge of the building before she could see if any of her shots connected, landing feet-first on a lower roof and sprinting forward. The buildings to her front and right were taller and obscured visibility, but the roof between them was level to the one she currently occupied, so Lena blinked diagonally across in hopes that her pursuer would lose track of her position.

She didn’t have time for this.

She couldn’t remember how she got here, or what was happening.

But she knew she needed to find Emily before it was too late.

To her frustration, a brief glance off to her right revealed the pursuing assassin was keeping time, moving parallel to Lena’s progress as she distantly pulled herself across a gap with her grapple line. Soon enough, the two were once again separated by a building between them, but Lena felt uneasy about what she might find around the next corner.

She didn’t know where it came from, but a sudden impact to the back of her accelerator sent Lena sliding across a rain-soaked rooftop, past the glass-paned ridge of a triangular skylight and colliding with what she assumed was some kind of air-conditioning unit. She got to her feet without much trouble, but saw no movement in her vicinity until she lurched forward, knowing she’d been stricken across the back of the head with the stock of a rifle.

She whirled around, lashing across with her elbow and just missing someone whose leap overhead was clearly assisted by a cable. She heard the sniper drop behind her and blinked off to the side, skidding to a stop but remaining standing even on wet stone.

Widowmaker turned and raised her rifle, the spiderlike eyes of her visor sliding into place just as she fired.

Lena had been shot.

She couldn’t feel it, and she couldn’t tell where, but she knew she’d been shot.

She recalled on instinct, blue energy swirling in a vortex around the light of her accelerator as she was spliced out of the timeline. Lena’s position and state of injury moved quickly in reverse while everything else around her continued forward.

But before she could wind up right back where Widowmaker had nearly gotten the drop on her, she angled out into another blink, tackling the sniper over the angled skylight and sending them both rolling across the rooftop beyond it. Widowmaker was lifted out of the roll as her grapple found purchase somewhere above, a lashing kick as she pulled away sending Lena out past the edge and into freefall.

Lena blinked forward to a lower ledge and broke out into a run just as a pair of sharply-heeled boots jammed roughly into her shoulders, knocking her flat to the ground. She managed to raise her head just in time to see Widowmaker somehow reversing out of a roll into a kneeling position with her rifle trained back on Lena’s prone form.

Lena slammed her palms to the ground, pushing herself upward as a vertical blink carried her well above the burst of fire that lashed out in response to her movement. Widowmaker barely had time to look up before Lena blinked forward and downward, propelling her arched knee hard into the sniper’s shoulder. In another blink, Lena was on her feet again and hooking an ankle around Widowmaker’s to throw off her balance as she fell.

She briefly felt a chilled leg expertly snaking around her own calf before she too was pulled to the ground, landing with her face only inches from Widowmaker’s. Gold eyes stared into her own as a scowl twisted into a smirk of amusement.

“You truly are a foolish girl.”

In the quickest movement she could manage, Lena threw her left arm over herself in a partial roll, flicking out her pulse pistol and pointing it squarely at where the sniper’s face had just been. In a flourish, a cold hand slammed downward into Lena’s forearm, pinning her hand and the drawn weapon uselessly against the ground as Widowmaker rose to a low kneel. Her other arm trapped beneath her and unable to aim past the pinned one, Lena was helpless as the sniper leaned in to whisper in her ear.

“Let us make this interesting, non?

“I don’t… have time…” Lena weakly grunted under the pressure, leaving the sniper to fall a few inches downward as she blinked off to the side, still prone but now drawing the other pistol to match as she aimed both weapons back toward the site of the struggle.

Widowmaker planted her grapple anchor halfway between the two of them, then pushed herself into a sliding spin that carried her in an arc around Lena’s pulse-fire and sent her knees colliding with the pilot’s extended forearms. Both pulse pistols slid out of Lena’s grasp as a sharp kick to the center of her accelerator pushed her further out toward the edge of the rooftop.

She nearly lost balance and rolled off completely, but quickly felt another impact on her accelerator, the attached cable pulling back with enough force to lift Lena to her feet. The grapple detached just as Lena’s momentum carried her into the cold hand waiting to close tightly around her throat.

Widowmaker leaned in, an uncertain hunger in those gold eyes as Lena struggled against her icy grip. “Ah, but yourself? Out of time? Such cruel irony.”

With all her strength, Lena took a tight hold of the sniper’s wrist before pushing off the ground and kicking hard with both feet. The action sent Widowmaker stumbling backward and launched Lena into a blink that carried her sailing upward and across to the next roof. The pilot spun quickly, looking back down over the ledge but seeing nothing but an empty rooftop below.

Somewhere behind her, Lena heard the telltale stony click of Widowmaker’s grappling claw attaching itself to a brick wall.

“Bloody hell, for once can you just LEAVE ME ALO—”

Lena’s frustrated shout as she turned to face the assassin was silenced by a bullet, Widowmaker’s visor closed once again as she fired several more shots without hesitation.

No! It must’ve happened again!

Lena’s recall undid the damage – or rather, she knew it had without having felt any of it in the first place – but she still had to blink out of the way of another burst of full-auto, taking cover behind a stairwell exit as she tried in vain to calm the unsettled feeling that washed over her.

It wasn’t long before Widowmaker rounded the corner, an empty, cold grimace across her face as she mechanically brought her rifle to bear.

Lena charged directly at the sniper, ducking low in her blink and sending an elbow upward as she spun out of it. The fin-like edge of her gauntlet caught around the rifle and sent it spinning away just as the pilot’s other arm threw a quick jab into Widowmaker’s abdomen.

Widowmaker sent a sharp kick into Lena’s side and caught her by the straps of her accelerator as she doubled over, but Lena hooked her arms over the sniper’s and took control of the grapple, spinning them both until she could pin her opponent against the wall she’d taken cover behind moments earlier.

“Say something!” Lena commanded, her gauntlet pressed upward into the sniper’s neck.

Golden, expressionless eyes glared back at her.

“SAY something!” Lena shouted again, her breaking voice filled with more anguish than rage. “God, would you just… would you just say something.”

After a moment of blank contemplation, Widowmaker unexpectedly burst out in dark laughter. It was a strange, sinister laugh that sent chills down Lena’s spine at the same time it somehow seemed something of a relief. As the sniper calmed once more, a small smirk formed at the corner of her darkened blue lips. “What is it you want from me, foolish girl? What do you hope to find?”

I mean… maybe it’s just this, Lena thought as she let out a semi-relaxed sigh, her fear retreating as she reached a momentary calm.

The distant rumble of an explosion sent Lena reeling.

Her eyes going wide, the pilot whirled around, her captive forgotten as she caught sight of a column of dark smoke rising several blocks away.

I have to…

Lena blinked across to a higher rooftop, then another, until she had scaled the tallest high-rise in the vicinity.

I need to find…

There were no sirens. No screams. No sign of life anywhere near the site of the blast, or in the seemingly endless mass of rooftops that stretched out all around. It was just a cold, empty night that even the rain had abandoned, though the dark clouds remained to cast everything in grey.

There was another explosion.

Then another.

No, no, no…

Wide-eyed and helpless to do anything but Watch, Lena ran from edge to edge of her vantage point as a series of blasts and subsequent columns of smoke sprung up all around her, each event all the more ominous for the dead silence that followed it.

Hmm, how tragic.”

Lena spun quickly, just in time to catch sight of the blue-skinned form that charged her, a cold hand clasping tight around her throat as she was pinned against a wall she couldn’t remember having been behind her.

“No, let me go!” Lena pleaded, her voice quick but hoarse as she struggled against the sniper’s grip, her gloved hands pulling tightly against a tattooed forearm. “I have to find Emily. Please, I need to know she’s safe, I…”

Lena trailed off as she felt the hand around her neck, and her own clutch around the offending arm, encountering less and less resistance. The icy feeling against her skin was beginning to disappear, and a dark, desperate shudder took hold of her.

No! Not now! PLEASE not now…

She pulled one hand away to hold it in front of her face, frantically watching for any sign she was fading, but nothing happened. Her glove was completely solid in front of her, and it was only as she let out a small, non-choked sigh of relief and lowered her hand that she noticed the translucent blue face staring back at her.

What? No, no, how can YOU be…

Lena reached out in vain, her hands passing uselessly through Widowmaker’s fading form as the sniper offered only a satisfied smirk.

Adieu, Chérie.”

The softly-spoken words lingered in the air until Lena was alone on the rooftop, a silent, empty city billowing dark smoke all around her until that, too, began to fade.




Lena woke with a start, clutching at her accelerator but finding the contact only partially successful in alleviating the panic that washed over her.

The time was 3:13 AM. The room was dark, but that didn’t mean anything. Lena had felt at a slight unease ever since the team had sealed themselves underground – away from any real day/night cycle – and the feeling certainly wasn’t helping now.

Lena took deep breaths, gradually sliding out of the waking panic and into a general dread, the echoes of the nightmare lingering in her thoughts.

“Athena?”

Yes, Lena?

“Can you… is Em alright? Do you know where she is, I—”

Of course.” Athena’s gentle voice conveyed a knowing sympathy that made Lena relax enough to properly listen for an answer. She always knew just how to do that. “Emily is currently in Break Room 4 of Watchpoint: Gibraltar, along with Miss Zhou and Miss Lindholm. Would you like me to contact her?

“Oh, not It’s okay, I… probably shouldn’t bother her,” Lena acknowledged with a wince.

It is still relatively early in the evening at the watchpoint, and I am certain she would be delighted to hear from you.”

Left unspoken was and I think you need her right now. With a sigh, Lena reached for her phone.




NEW CONVERSATION WITH [Em]

hey love, you there? sorry if I’m bothering you

[Em]: You’re never bothering me, Lena.

you sure about that?

[Em]: Okay, yeah, you’re right.

[Em]: Your shoes do bother me a bit.

Oi!

don’t lie

you know how cute I look in these!

[Em]: …

[Em]: Let the record show that it’s not the shoes, but…

[Em]: agreed.

so what’s going on over there?

everything alright?

[Em]: Well, Torb and Mei built a bunch of ice turrets.

[Em]: Does that reassure you?

damn

yeah it kinda does

thats bloody devious

[Em]: And Winston made some electrical field things

[Em]: supposed to charge anything that passes through them.

oh for the shields yeah that might work

[Em]: Also, all the floors in the hallways are covered in sand for some reason.

oh!

footprints!

[Em]: I’m not entirely convinced that one wasn’t from an unrelated prank.

[Em]: Winston’s kinda pissed.

now that I think about it yeah that must be pretty annoying

[Em]: Well anyway no one wants to be alone right now

[Em]: so we’re all staying up late and using the common rooms

[Em]: Mei and Brigitte and I are making those curtain things.

[Em]: The ones that are just strands of beads?

[Em]: We’re gonna hang them in the doorways.

aww that sounds really cute

and kinda depressing…

but very cute

[Em]: There’s also a bird here for some reason.

[Em]: I think it thinks it’s helping

[Em]: but it just keeps trying to land on Snowball.

awwwwwww

you should get some pictures!

[Em]: What, you think I didn’t?

[Em]: Also Rein said he’d make pizza later

umm

[Em]: Is there…

[Em]: something I should be concerned about?

nope not at all

[Em]: Lena

im sure hes just making perfectly normal pizza

[Em]: …I don’t even wanna ask

[Em]: So, how are things with you?

different

tense still

no ones really getting along

[Em]: And what, your usual plans didn’t work?

…right, yeah

guess ive been kind of out of it

should probably at least get that rolling tomorrow

maybe when we clear out the training space?

[Em]: Just please try to keep it reasonable.

[Em]: Hey, love…

am I alright?

not really but talking to you makes it a bit better

time gave me away, huh?

[Em]: Top 10 anime betrayals.

[Em]: wait

[Em]: Damnit!

lmao Em!

thats what bein around rein does to ya, love

should probably get used to it

[Em]: But yeah this is usually when you have them.

[Em]: Same as always?

well not exactly…

[Em]: Was it about her?

…yeah

[Em]: Good kind or bad kind?

uhh

not sure theres a good kind with her involved

[Em]: There is for me.

[Em]: shit

[Em]: I mean what

I…

am not sure what to do with this information

[Em]: Nope nothing to see here just…

[Em]: Um

[Em]: Is it really still that bad now that you’ve been awake for a bit?

something about being underground I think

not even any windows here

lights make it look like night but its still a tiny room

[Em]: Is there somewhere else you could go?

maybe the halls or the common room yeah

think it would help?

[Em]: I don’t know.

[Em]: Might be worth a try, though

[Em]: change of scenery.

alright Im headed out

maybe lay on the couch for a while or something

[Em]: Okay and I can stay on for as long as you want

thanks em I think I mi

[Em]: …

[Em]: Lena?

sorry its um…

she’s here




Somehow, the images on the walls, combined with the more open space and lighting effect, gave the common room the actually halfway decent illusion of being an island in the middle of the ocean on a moonlit night.

Lena actually had started feeling better, right up until she’d noticed the long, dark ponytail falling against the back of a pale blue neck at the other end of the room. At the second-to-last couch so she still faced away from Lena as she entered, Widowmaker sat motionless against the armrest closest to the side doorway that led to the rest of the facility.




[Em]: And?

and what?

[Em]: You going to go talk to her or what?

I really dont think she wants to be disturbed right now

[Em]: If she’s by herself

[Em]: but in the public area instead of her room

[Em]: then a part of her is probably hoping someone will show up and talk to her

[Em]: or maybe not

[Em]: but that was the reason when I did it

…I still dont know about this

[Em]: You won’t have to do it alone

[Em]: I can walk you through anything you need

she will definitely notice me typing on the phone

[Em]: Hey, you’re a busy Overwatch agent

[Em]: and this is like the most important mission ever

[Em]: gotta keep HQ updated and shit.

think shed buy that?

[Em]: If she’s as out of it as you say then maybe

[Em]: but it’s your call.

…okay I’m going for it

[Em]: Good luck!




Lena slowly began the journey across the room, and only made it five steps before a cold, knowing voice broke the silence.

“Finally made up your mind, have you?”

“Um… you know, love… it’s kinda…” Lena nervously filled the silence until she’d rounded the arm of the couch and could face Widowmaker directly. The sniper didn’t look up from the book she’d been reading, a stack of what seemed to be novels stacked neatly on the table in front of her. “I just… got stuff to do…” She held up her phone with the screen turned towards herself. “Overwatch stuff, y’know… super busy, just thought I’d…”

Widowmaker hissed a sigh, visibly rolling her eyes. “I suppose I have little choice, then. Very well, join me if you must.”

That… technically wasn’t anything close to what I said, but okay.

Lena took a seat near the middle of the couch, still leaving a fair amount of space between the two of them, and pretended to get back to work.




okay I’m in

shes reading books it looks like

[Em]: Did she say anything?

kinda

acted like I was forcing her to let me sit next to her

even though I hadn’t really got to that bit yet

[Em]: Hmm…

[Em]: Acted like it was already a given?

exactly

[Em]: I mean you could just be predictable…

[Em]: That, or she’s saying she wants you there

[Em]: but in a way where she doesn’t have to admit it.

that’s…




“I did not think it would happen so quickly.”

A startled Lena looked up at the sudden voice to her left, the sniper still not looking back but seeming visibly troubled.

“…didn’t expect what to happen so quickly?” Lena hesitantly asked, keeping her voice soft.

Widowmaker closed the book and set it on top of the pile, then leaned back and crossed her arms, her face angled ever-so-slightly away from Lena’s direction as she hissed another sigh. “I… felt something tonight. I want it to stop.”




[Em]: Lena?

[Em]: You still there?

srry she just started talking

shes feeling something and doesnt like it

[Em]: Okay lemme think.

[Em]: See if you can figure out what feeling it is

[Em]: And if you can help her get rid of it

wait, what?

why would we want to do that?

[Em]: Because it’s probably something bad, Lena

[Em]: How many opportunities do you think she’s had to feel good emotions?

[Em]: It’s probably all the same to her.

…oh




“Hey, sorry, um… do you know which one it is?”

Widowmaker finally locked eyes with Lena, her face awash with a skeptical look. “How do you mean?”

“I mean… I might be able to help you if I know which one it is. Help make it stop, I mean.”

The sniper’s glare became a pointed scowl. “You have been talking to Symmetra.”

“Wot?” Lena asked, bewildered. “Um, no… she actually wouldn’t say anything to me. She said she… that you trust her, and she doesn’t wanna mess that up.”

The hostility faded from Widowmaker’s expression, her brows creasing as a softer, more reflective confusion filled the void.

Something bad…

“It’s okay if you’re afraid,” Lena said quietly. “We all are, it’s… it’s a bad situation, and it honestly wouldn’t be that surprising if it made—”

“That is not it,” Widowmaker commanded with a harsh and somewhat offended suddenness. “I do not feel fear, and that has not yet changed.”

“…Okay,” Lena mumbled nervously, having recoiled just a bit at the outburst. “If it’s not that, then… I mean, you just lost Talon, I don’t know… does that make you sad?”

“I think I do not want to discuss this further,” Widowmaker said in an almost-hiss as she averted her gaze.




darn

shes shutting down

[Em]: Something you said, or…

I was trying to guess was she was feeling

[Em]: She might not want to be talked about like that.

[Em]: Try something more…

[Em]: …clinical? professional?

[Em]: That’s how she talks about herself, right?

[Em]: It’s a flaw to her, maybe acknowledge that?

I dont know…

dont feel good about it

[Em]: This might not work exactly like you wanted it to, Lena

[Em]: but it can still work.

[Em]: I mean, you had her talking

[Em]: like, really talking to you.

[Em]: That’s a big deal.

I…

I think I get it now

thanks, love!




“I… we’re…” Lena let out a long sigh. “To tell the truth, I don’t know what we are. But whether we’re a team or… or whatever, we need to work together now. That makes you my responsibility, and if you’re not… performing efficiently or however you’d put it… that’s something I need to know about, so I can do what I can to fix it, alright?”

Widowmaker had a strange skepticism on her face, but after a moment of consideration, she looked at the pilot more oddly and with more curiosity than she had all night. “You… are confusing. Not like I expected.”

Lena let go of the breath she’d been holding. “I just… I wanted to help you, but maybe I wasn’t really… listening. I want to do that now.”

Hmph. You wanted me to feel, did you not?”

“I… yeah, but…” Lena gave the sniper a worried, sympathetic look. “I don’t think I can blame you for not wanting to. Not anymore. I can’t… I can’t tell you it’ll be worth it, because I don’t know if it really will for you. And if all you’re gonna feel is pain and stuff like that, I shouldn’t be acting like it’s a good thing.”

Widowmaker stared blankly for several moments, before lightly shaking her head in a quiet, bleak laugh as she turned away. Her gaze seemed fixed past the opposite couch and across to the bookshelf, and she was silent for a time afterward.

“I think I am feeling… alone,” Widowmaker said flatly. “It is… not as intense since you have been here, but… I still feel the sensation, cutting into me like a hunger I cannot sate. A need I cannot fulfill. It is… unpleasant.” She turned back to face Lena, her eyes just slightly widened with the faintest hint of desperation. “Can you make it stop?”

Lena gulped nervously, her hand a little tighter around her phone but kept idle under the sniper’s piercing gaze.

But she didn’t exactly need help on this one.

“I mean, you’ve got the right idea with the books,” Lena began, her voice more even than she’d expected it to be. “Something with sound might be better. Y’know, stuff with people’s voices in it. Even if they’re not actually talkin’ to you, it kinda… fills the void. Music’s not as good cause after a while you can sort of tell it’s its own thing and tune it out, y’know?”

Widowmaker had an odd look to her – a skeptical confusion, then something of a solemn acknowledgement – as she gave a simple nod and turned back to the table and the stack of books.

She was hoping for something else, wasn’t she?

Lena winced slightly as she searched her thoughts. Something… professional. Practical. Don’t make it weird, just…

“I can try something, if you want,” she blurted out quickly, prompting a pause, then a strange, hesitant look from the sniper who had quietly gone back to reading.

“Only if you want to,” Lena continued, her resolve faltering. “Just… it might help.”

Widowmaker’s eyes seemed on the verge of narrowing, but at the moment she just looked completely lost in the situation. “I… alright,” she spoke softly. It was almost a whisper.

With a greatly slowed procession of steps and building anxiety, Lena moved closer on the couch, slipping her phone into her pocket and leaving one last, tiny bit of distance between the two of them. Looking cautiously into the sniper’s eyes for any objection, she lifted her hands, and very slowly hovered them over the distance to settle on a cold, tattooed forearm.

She tensed slightly as her fingertips met the frigid skin, but the shock subsided quickly, and the temperature was only mildly uncomfortable as she gently lifted the arm and held it midair between the two of them. Now looking away and toward the suspended limb, she slowly turned it palm-up, ‘Cauchemar’ on the outer surface of her arm giving way to ‘Araignée du soir’ on the inner surface.

With a slight shift over, Lena closed the last inch of distance and felt a chill against her left hip and shoulder, then braced for more as she gently set Widowmaker’s forearm down on her left thigh, laying her own over top of it and interlacing their fingers.

It was about a minute of slow temperature adjustment before Lena dared look up again, finding Widowmaker now resting her left, gauntleted arm on the couch’s armrest and continuing her reading. Lena did her best to remain completely still as time marched forward and the embrace continued to hold, neither of the two of them acknowledging it in the slightest.

Though, unless Lena was mistaken about how books worked, Widowmaker appeared to have been focusing intently on the same page of her novel for at least ten minutes.

After a time, she felt the sniper tense up and, moments later, pull her hand suddenly away. Lena looked up in surprise as Widowmaker quickly stood, an odd almost-panic about her as her eyes darted back and forth to look everywhere except at Lena. “I… should not be here,” she said, a slight urgency to her voice.

“Did… did it not work?” Lena asked, trying to keep the pleading tone out of her own voice as she shifted slightly away to give the sniper more space if she needed it.

But Widowmaker was already moving around to the left, ducking low to retrieve the rifle that had apparently been stowed under the couch and proceeding quickly back across the room to the living quarters.

Lena watched, confused and somewhat stunned, from over the back of the couch as Widowmaker disappeared into a darkened hallway.

With a heavy sigh, she finally turned around, pulling out her phone again. There was a slight, unobtrusive numbness to her left hand as she began to type.




hey im back

[Em]: That was kinda short…

[Em]: Though, I guess she is probably more used to something different

i mean she just went an bloody ran off on me

[Em]: Oh shit, that sucks.

it was fine for a bit, yeah?

said she felt alone

just let me hold her hand as like…

so she’d feel it less

[Em]: …Wait, is that it?

…yeah?

whaddya think I meant?

[Em]: …

[Em]: You know, I actually didn’t think a single thing while you were gone.

[Em]: Nope.

[Em]: Not a thing.

[Em]: But that sounds…

[Em]: actually kinda sweet

[Em]: and clever

[Em]: Do you have any idea what happened?

she just kinda…

panicked all of a sudden

said she shouldnt be here

[Em]: I don’t know…

[Em]: Could be she just thought about it too long

[Em]: or, you actually helped a whole lot

[Em]: and like, the feeling stopped being too much for her

[Em]: and her programming kicked in again?

that kinda makes sense

[Em]: Could be something else, though.

like what?

[Em]: Maybe…

[Em]: and don’t freak out on me…

[Em]: she felt something she wasn’t ready for.

[Em]: And that could be anything, Lena

[Em]: You keep telling me she acts weird around you

[Em]: There’s something to that,

[Em]: and we should probably figure out what

[Em]: …

[Em]: We don’t have to talk about it now.

[Em]: We were supposed to be getting you back to sleep

yeah we did kinda get sidetracked…

[Em]: Can you tell me one thing, though?

sure, love

whaddya wanna know?

[Em]: What did she feel like?

um ive told ya before havent I?

[Em]: Those were like,

[Em]: chokeholds and shit

[Em]: I mean what was it like to hold her hand?

okay, uh…

the cold takes a bit of getting used to

like when people have cold hands for regular reasons, but a bit worse

my hand’s fine now but it felt a bit weird for a bit

[Em]: Interesting…

[Em]: Hold on, might be away for a bit.

[Em]: Rein’s taking us all to the dining hall and

…uh, Emily?

you there, love?

[Em]: what

[Em]: the fuck

oh, right

that

[Em]: This is literally just…

[Em]: a table full of plain pizza crusts

[Em]: with like, sausages or something just sitting on them

[Em]: not even like a real topping just all on one side?

[Em]: Rein and Brig are laughing like crazy but no one else gets it?

[Em]: There’s also just a plate of fucking bones

[Em]: Rein said don’t worry he took them out.

[Em]: like WTF?

[Em]: out of the pizzas?

[Em]: Oh ok it was just a prank

[Em]: and there’s real pizza too

…wait for it

[Em]: Dammit it’s pineapple!

[Em]: Why is it all your fucking friends like pineapple!?

…because its bloody brilliant?

[Em]: I hate you

youve never actually tried it though

[Em]: Because I don’t need to?

[Em]: How would that possibly be good?

cmon, love, just trust me on this

[Em]: Lena,

[Em]: I trust you on literally everything else

[Em]: but this, I will fight you on.

just try it once okay?

[Em]: …

[Em]: Fine.

…well?

[Em]: It’s…

[Em]: It’s technically food.

well enjoy your technical food then, love!

[Em]: An attempt will be made

[Em]: Hey, so…

[Em]: we kind of got distracted, but…

[Em]: are you okay, Lena?

actually…

I am feeling kind of better now

think I’ll stay out here for a bit, but the worst of its gone I think

[Em]: Well, that’s good, at least.

[Em]: I’m still here if you need me.

I know

love ya!

[Em]: ttyl

[Em]: <3

Chapter Text

“Okay, loves! So, all these boxes here need to go…” Lena’s face screwed up in concentration as her gaze darted around the large, metal chamber, her hands quivering in not-quite fists until she quickly threw them both out in front of her, index fingers extended. “…against that wall.” She turned her head back around with a sheepish grin. “Think you two can handle that?”

“Without question,” Zarya answered, a competitive edge to her eager smirk as she clenched her hands together and flexed her muscles in a way she must have thought was subtle.

“Brilliant! That should clear up enough room for that training space I was talkin’ about. Now then, I’ve gotta go help Lúcio in the kitchen, so… you two have fun!” Lena briefly cast a hesitant but reassuring smile in Satya’s direction, fumbling an awkward two-thumbs-up just as she blinked away, leaving Satya and Zarya alone in the immense stillness of the storage room.

“Hm, I do not know why you’re here…” Zarya began shortly afterward, her face briefly displaying a curious contemplation before giving way to a bright smile. “But you are most welcome to enjoy the show.” She accentuated the last three words as she heaved a large, metal crate into her arms, shooting Satya a wide grin over her shoulder as she moved to carry her cargo toward the right wall as Lena had indicated.

“When I am finished with my share of the work, perhaps I shall consider it,” Satya stated plainly as she weaved light through her fingers. She constructed a pane of transparent blue hardlight against the nearest lateral face of the roughly cube-shaped crate in front of her, then used her projector to guide the path of the object as the evenly-applied force slid it neatly across the floor. Zarya had only made it two-thirds of the way to the wall when Satya’s crate completed its journey.

Zarya set her crate down with a huff – placing it near the wall but not bothering to align it correctly – and sent a pointed scowl in Satya’s direction. “It does not count if you cheat.”

“I was not aware there was a need to apply limitations to this task,” Satya remarked with feigned, condescending innocence as she dismissed the previous pane of light and began working on a different crate. “Surely it should be completed according to efficient use of available means. An intellect of your caliber should understand that.”

Hmph. You suppose I should use gravity to move crates?”

“Of course not,” Satya declared with a shrug, still without looking away from her work. “For a similar reason, I do not merely teleport the objects to their destinations. Such frivolous expenditure of resources would serve as nothing but a vain display of capability. However, maintaining some barbaric adherence to physical strength when more efficient methods are available only results in much the same.”

A rough, inelegant sliding of metal on metal and the heaving grunts of force exertion indicated Zarya had started pushing crates in an effort to keep up with Satya’s pace. “What would you know about true human strength.”

“That it is unneeded in the present circumstance.”

Zarya attempted some form of physical assault on a crate she had been moving, with a noise that made Satya recoil and briefly clutch at her ears.

“I do not recall it being in our directives to damage the supplies,” said Satya, with a hint of annoyance, once she’d sufficiently recovered from the shock.

The soldier was now apparently angered beyond words, merely harrumphing her displeasure as she continued with her work.

“Life is not a competition,” Satya mused idly as she slid another crate across the floor.

Zarya stopped in her tracks. “It is always a competition. The strong survive. The weak perish. Who is best is who comes out on top. That is the way of things, and you are a fool to think otherwise.”

“And in your time here, do you feel as though you have won?”

A pointed silence followed, and when the architech finally chanced a look back toward where Zarya stood, the soldier’s face displayed a strange hesitance. Satya set out in a gentle stride around the room and toward the crate nearest to where the larger woman stood, and constructed a hardlight stool beside it. She gracefully took a seat and waited, motionless, for a response.

Hesitantly, Zarya sat down on the crate to Satya’s right, pointedly crossing her arms but otherwise appearing somewhat receptive.

“I have been told I should avoid you,” Satya began matter-of-factly, “that I should have something to fear from what you may say to me. Clearly, your behavior has been abhorrent enough that the others refuse to engage with you, and I will not take that lightly.”

The architech then pointedly averted her gaze, closing her eyes with a light sigh and wincing sharply in reminiscence as she spoke the next words candidly. “But… I know what it is like to be seen as rude or arrogant, to have been hurtful without intending to be, and to be forever shunned for it. And so, I will grant you one chance to explain yourself.”

“There is nothing to explain,” Zarya began, though her mood appeared somber. “Omnics are responsible for the death of my people. I distrust them, as I should.”

Satya considered that for a long moment. “And yet, I have neither seen nor heard of you expressing your displeasure with Zenyatta. Should he not bear the brunt of your ire?”

“That is different.”

Sayta cast the soldier a knowing glare. “I do not think you are so certain in your beliefs.”

Zarya seemed combative for a moment, then slackened under the architech’s searching eyes and let out a long sigh. “Perhaps you are right,” she admitted distantly as her gaze drifted away from their conversation and over the walls and ceiling of the room. “The acquaintance… the friend, I suppose… that told me of this place, was an omnic. It—they… were a hacker, and consultant for Volskaya, and I was ordered to work with them on assignment.” She paused, huffing an ironic laugh. “It was, in fact, your hacker friend I was sent to locate.”

At the mention, Satya felt herself briefly tense in something between fearful anticipation and narrow relief, but calmed as the woman failed to linger on the topic.

“This omnic, they were… an individual, one capable of things I did not think they would be. I do not think I can believe, about omnics, what I once did. Not now. They are not human, but… they are not mere machines, in the sense I had thought.”

“So, while you may have reconsidered your views on omnics,” Satya began with a lighter, but still present scowl, “you continue to hold them as lesser, and someone like Genji is too far of a leap for your mind to make?”

Zarya’s eyes narrowed, but she nonetheless seemed to be processing the question. “No, that… I don’t think that is the case.” She trailed off, her contemplation only appearing to intensify.

Satya took a moment to consider the woman, a musclebound frontline soldier and former athlete who certainly acted the part. But there was more to her, that was plain. She could understand and manipulate Volskaya’s particle weapons far more effectively than anyone else, save for the scientists who developed them. She had shown at least some capacity for growth and change, so it may not have been mere stubbornness or pride that was holding her back…

The architech’s eyes finally drifted to the tattooed ‘512’ on the woman’s shoulder.

“Your record,” she mused aloud, gesturing to the design and catching Zarya’s attention. “It means much to you?”

“I may never have claimed the title,” Zarya began, a hint of pride finally slipping back into her voice, “but there is no doubt that I am the strongest woman in the world.”

“Your strength,” Satya continued, unabated by the change in the woman’s demeanor, “your body… these things are valued, inseparable from who you are as a person? A part of your humanity?”

Zarya looked at her oddly for a moment. “…Yes?”

Satya found herself slipping her prosthetic further to her side and away from the woman’s line of sight, a nervousness entering her voice as she spoke. “Do you take modification personally?”

Zarya’s eyes narrowed again, still conveying more confusion than hostility.

“Your body is important to you,” Satya continued. “You attach value to what you can accomplish with it, this ‘true strength’ you speak of. Does that… shape how you consider it in others? That it is, in your eyes, a necessary condition for being human?”

As she let the words linger, the soldier still seemed at a loss to speak, but her confusion had at least partially been supplanted by consideration.

“…Is it fear?” Satya asked with a wince. “Do you… not wish to acknowledge that such a thing is possible? The idea of being without something so vital… is it easier to convince yourself Genji is something else, so that you need not consider it?”

At that, Zarya’s scowl now seemed somewhat offended, her posture becoming slightly defensive. “You do not know what you’re talking about.”

With a deep breath, Satya steeled herself, averting her gaze and pointedly crossing her arms., but keeping her tone relatively calm. “I am certain that Genji values his body just as you do yours, he simply does not have it. So, why must you feel hatred instead of sadness?”

There was another long silence, and when Satya finally looked up again, she found Zarya looking out across the room with a blank stare, a solemn look in her eyes that was repeatedly interrupted by the tensing of muscles that attempted to turn it to anger instead. With a short, partially-hissed sigh, Zarya began to speak once again.

“I never had a problem, being part of a team. In the defense forces, I had the respect of my unit. We would joke, and we would laugh, and it would be a good time. Here… it is different. What was valued there is not valued here, and I am instead, cast out.”

Zarya paused, and Satya had almost put together the beginnings of a response when the soldier spoke again, unexpectedly.

“But here… ‘team’ also means something different. The values are different, but so is the gain to be had from inclusion. A different kind of comradery… perhaps, one that is more honest. It is not something I am used to.”

“Is it something you want?” Satya asked quietly.

“I believe so,” Zarya mused thoughtfully. “Hmm, but I think it is not to be. I could not change even if I tried, and I doubt I would be given such an opportunity.”

“In my experience, Overwatch appears to be rather forgiving,” Satya began, then paused as her thoughts were drawn to something else she could recall. “Why did you never claim your title?” she asked, though she very well knew the answer.

“The Omnium,” Zarya answered, an ominous look dawning in her expression. “My home was destroyed just as the competition was to begin. I left to join the defense forces.”

“The competition was important to you.”

“My people were more important.”

Satya gave the woman a light smile. “Then, I believe there is still hope for you.”

Zarya glanced back with a look of confusion, and some measure of surprise as she noted Satya’s warming demeanor.

“It will take some time, of course,” Satya clarified, “but if you are willing to adapt, I see no reason why you should not be, then, welcomed, at least as far as I am concerned.”

Satya was in no way prepared for the pair of immense arms that suddenly formed a tight hold around her. She shuddered and recoiled, and nearly tried to struggle free until she noted an almost familiar longing in the embrace – something likely spurred by an absence extending much farther back in the woman’s history than the short amount of time she’d spent with the Overwatch recruits.

“In… the future… please request permission before performing this action.”

Zarya quickly released the architech, a somewhat fearful expression on her face. “Oh. I… apologize.”

“It was not… immensely disagreeable,” Satya decided.

Still seeming nervous, Zarya stood up slowly. “Perhaps… we should get back to work.”

Satya stood as well, dismissing the stool but letting her curious gaze linger on the crate itself. “What is actually inside these?” she asked, partially in an attempt to dispel the tension.

Zarya shrugged and undid the latch, lifting the hinged lid with little effort. Inside, the crate appeared to be filled with various clothing items designed for especially cold weather.

“You should take these,” Zarya suggested, though it sounded somewhat closer to a command. “Your uniforms are no good here. Not warm enough.”

“You wear an outfit without sleeves,” Satya said with a scoff, before she paused to examine the crate’s contents.

The clothes were not particularly bulky and appeared to be adjustable, many items accented with various zippers that suggested removable components. Hiding partially below an obnoxiously orange set of snowpants that she suspected she would see Lena wearing eventually, Satya noted a matching outfit in a dull light blue color, with gold trim for the zippers and other parts of the lining.

Ideas started forming in the architech’s mind as she helped Zarya move the rest of the crates to the wall. Certainly, she couldn’t expect her Vishkar bodysuit to be practical in these conditions, and adaptations would need to be made.




“Oh, hey, Vaswani! We missed you at lunch, what kept—whoa, uh… Satya? You… you should probably, uh…”

Satya heard Lúcio stutter over the words from somewhere on the other side of the kitchen as the architech busily searched through one of the cold storage units, pointedly ignoring the several-meter-long, semi-translucent, lime-green serpent that had taken up residence in the small shelf-like space between the tops of the units and the ceiling. The creature’s long body coiled throughout the space, its neck and head hanging out over the edge and down toward Satya. Its teeth were bared, threateningly, as it let out a hiss of apparent warning.

It was a realistic image, Satya would give him that, but if Genji had decided that their rivalry was to begin early, the architech wouldn’t give the cyborg the satisfaction of reacting to the rather obvious prank. She couldn’t see the holo-emitters, but her confidence carried her through the task of retrieving the bread and tea she required.

As she left to prepare each part of the arrangement using the proper heating apparatus, she heard the image let out a rather startled and disappointed whine from over her shoulder. Certainly, Genji had spared no expense in programming the creature’s reactions.

“Um… how did you…”

So, the DJ was in on it, too. Ah, well. Satya wouldn’t hold it against him for something so technically harmless. She calmly went about her task and left the room without saying a word.

On her way through the common room, Satya noted that several books were currently missing from their shelves.

Chapter Text

Standing outside the door, Satya had been about to knock again when she noted the faint sound of movement within the room. It reported vaguely like repeated footfalls, but there was something far too purposeful, almost rhythmic, to the specific pattern.

Putting aside the thought as something to consider later, Satya gently knocked at the door to announce her presence.

There was a slight scramble from inside, and a long pause before a frustrated voice finally hissed, “You may enter.”

The room was largely as it had been the day before, but Satya noted the presence of several books – likely the ones missing from the common room – stacked atop the shelf space that had once held the sniper’s rifle. The weapon had been moved to lean against the wall.

“You are late,” Widowmaker declared with seeming annoyance, though not exactly malice, from where she was now seated in her former position at the hardlight table.

“It appears Zaryanova can be rather fond of contact, and failed to notify me,” Satya began, hoping her concise demeanor would offset the peculiarity of her complaint. “I… may have indulged in an additional shower.”

Widowmaker’s expression was skeptical for only a moment, then briefly thoughtful, before finally settling back into its usual sneer of amusement. “Hmm… such a pity. Here I was, thinking she would be one of the tolerable ones.”

It wasn’t the response Satya had been bracing for. Curious, but mainly relieved, that the series of events hadn’t been questioned further, the architech moved to set the tray at the table’s center before taking her own place opposite the sniper. Indeed, Widowmaker now seemed somewhat distracted in her own thoughts. Satya settled in for what she suspected might be a long wait for any kind of engagement.

“…I spoke to Tracer last night.”

Satya blinked in surprise, having heard nothing of the supposed encounter. The morning had seen Lena in something of a rush, so it wasn’t entirely out of the question that the pilot hadn’t found the opportunity to speak of the occurrence, but it seemed something especially significant to have neglected to mention.

Widowmaker had apparently been watching the architech’s reaction closely. “You were unaware?” she spoke with measured curiosity.

“It is the first I am hearing of it.”

Something near a skeptical, pleasant surprise formed in the sniper’s expression. “She was actually quite… helpful. I did not expect that. Most often, she is little more than an annoyance. I thought, perhaps, you were giving her instruction, but she insists that is not the case.”

“…Instruction to what end?” Satya questioned with dawning confusion.

“I…” Widowmaker paused, her eyes narrowing slightly as she became even more guarded than she had been prior. She kept her voice lowered as she continued. “I have been… experiencing things. Sooner than expected. Tracer believes it was spurred by recent events, and I cannot think of any other explanation.”

“Oh,” Satya began, unsure if the strange feeling in her gut was a positive or a negative reaction to the news. “Is there… anything you require assistance with?”

The sniper averted her gaze. “Tracer’s advice proved adequate. The rest is...” She shook her head, scowling. “It is nothing. It is no concern of yours.”

“I can provide no guidance if you are not forthcoming,” Satya offered, keeping the tone of her words purely informative.

Widowmaker shot Satya a warning glare, but made no response.

The sniper had been hoping for some sort of consultation, at least at the outset of their conversation, yet now seemed hesitant. It wasn’t such an unusual concept to Satya. Clearly, Widowmaker had reconsidered something, thought of it in a different context, or been dissuaded by the reality of direct confrontation. Something else had changed over the past day, and given the initial subject matter, it likely had something to do with…

…but, no, it couldn’t be, could it? Satya supposed it had always been a possibility, given the details Lena had provided, but the sniper’s demeanor thus far, at least in moments of confidence, had suggested otherwise.

Clearly, anything said in that voice could be construed as romantic interest.

But it was beginning to appear as if Lena hadn’t been mistaken, after all. If it were true, it obviously wasn’t something Widowmaker would easily admit, and Satya’s relationship with the sniper didn’t leave much room for encouragement via comfort. Their shared harmony had developed as something more… combative, relying on blunt honesty, and the path to circumventing hesitation would likely rely on entirely removing the need for it.

Satya arched an eyebrow. “Hmm… and I suppose your hesitance would have nothing at all to do with a certain… annoyance?

Widowmaker scowled at the architech, but a confident smirk soon began to form at the corner of dark blue lips. “Ah, and I suppose you are one to talk, no?”

Once she’d placed the meaning, Satya allowed herself to reel for only a moment, quickly adjusting to the challenge. “I was wondering to what degree you were aware.” She paused, with a creeping feeling of unease, as she remembered the animosity the sniper seemed to hold for the hacker. “I should hope that my… arrangement with her will not present a problem?”

Hmph,” Widowmaker sneered, “you can have her. I have, in fact, found the peace and quiet rather agreeable, and it would be much to my relief if you could continue to keep her… occupied.” After a moment, something else seemed to occur to the sniper, and her widening Cheshire smile nearly faltered as she regarded the architech oddly, but it only became more sinister as she continued. “Though… I suppose it is quite to my disappointment, that the two of you are far less… entertaining than I had hoped.”

Satya’s growing confusion seemed to satisfy the sniper. With a knowing smile the architech still couldn’t make sense of, Widowmaker raised her left index finger, allowing the digit to linger in the air for a long, building moment before bringing it quickly against the side of the multi-lensed, thermal imaging device attached to her forehead.

With a shudder, Satya felt her whole body go tense, her cheeks flushing red as she recalled… several things in particular that had happened the night prior.

For the briefest moment, some amount of uncertainty, perhaps even alarm, flickered into Widowmaker’s faltering expression, before her entire posture slackened. “You cannot be serious. There was hardly anything of note.” The words were devoid of even her usual sneer.

Satya was still reeling from the implication. It had been a sudden strike against a particular vulnerability, a betrayal of her understanding of their situation’s reality, but it was also… a challenge. An opportunity to prove such matters could be discussed plainly, without being tantamount to exposing a weakness. And it was a test the architech had thus far faltered in. It took Satya considerable effort to recover, but once the idea had condensed, it was not so difficult to adjust her demeanor accordingly.

“Perhaps it may appear so, but I assure you… the arrangement is finely attuned to both of our particular… proclivities. I was unaware you had been in observance.”

Widowmaker looked on in stunned confusion, her expression shifting to something resembling a certain amount of respect. “I suppose I can appreciate the appeal of… unconventional preferences. It was not my intention to intrude, but… I am still the only one capable of detecting the presence of our would-be assassins. Truthfully, I found it to be a necessary precaution. Almost wholly an exercise in self-preservation.”

“Almost?” Satya arched an eyebrow.

The sniper’s pointed smirk returned. “Ah, but what else is there to occupy my time with?”

Satya rolled her eyes. “As interesting as I am sure my… personal activities must be, I believe there was a matter about which I inquired.”

Widowmaker let out a short huff of frustration, but her demeanor did not appear entirely combative. “Yes, I suppose… perhaps we should start at the beginning, no?”

Satya calmly reassembled her relaxed-and-attentive posture, awaiting further elaboration.

“Tracer is…” Widowmaker began with slightly narrowed, averted eyes. “Hmm, she is foolish, yes. Always running her mouth even as the bullets fly. Speaking to me as she would a familiar acquaintance, as if wholly unaware I am her enemy. It is grating, perhaps even insulting, but… I have always found it curious, for someone to have no expectations of what I am to be.”

The sniper cast a brief glance back at the architech, and sighed as she fell under Satya’s probing, expectant gaze.

“When I am functioning correctly,” Widowmaker began again, seeming even more hesitant, “I do not feel… with one exception. At the moment of a kill, there is a short window of time, in which sensations are again heightened. In most cases, all that emerges is the satisfaction, the thrill of a life taken, but… occasionally, as I have discovered, this window leaves me open to… other occurrences.”

After another sigh, she continued, “It was the night I killed Mondatta. Tracer was there. She tried to stop me. She failed. It was… a beautiful death. One shot from midair, that could have hit either target, perhaps both. Tracer was unaware, and saved her own life, the omnic falling dead in the street only seconds from safe passage.”

The growing pride in the sniper’s wide, golden eyes faded slightly, something more uncertain taking its place even as her voice retained its smug satisfaction. “It was only moments later that Tracer realized what I had done, and accosted me with such rage, such betrayal. She asked me ‘why.’ Why, as if there was even a question. As if I was not the mere weapon of Talon. I had no intent, no agency… not until she gave it to me.” A strange smile twisted across her lips. “I laughed, then. I laughed at her anguish, her agony. I laughed because I knew how much she was hurting. I could see it in her eyes. Feel it through her eyes, and the way her face twisted, and the shaking of her hands as she held me to that rooftop.”

“You… empathized with her emotions?” Satya offered hesitantly.

“Perhaps,” Widowmaker continued, her air of detachment from the events faltering slightly. “I had thought it a victory, that the sensation would soon fade from my own heart, but linger as a torture in hers. And yet, it was I that became tormented. For days, weeks afterward, I could not keep that moment out of my mind, even through reconditioning.” She paused, seeming thoughtful. “I have done many horrendous things, and feel no hurt, no regret, for any of them. Most, I pay no mind to; they are simply orders, tasks completed, remembered only in the beauty of their execution. But this… was different. Different like the first.”

“The first? You mean…”

“He asked me ‘why,’ as well.”

Satya stilled at the words, at how completely devoid of emotion they were. It was a simple statement of fact. Her husband had asked her ‘why’ just as she murdered him.

A smile again formed at the corner of the sniper’s lips. “Ah, you misunderstand. It is not remorse I feel for Gérard’s death, nor for Tracer’s pain, it is…” She retained her smile for a moment longer, though her eyes betrayed a difficulty in finishing the thought. Eventually, her face fell, and she continued with a sigh, “It is something else. Something that lingers… not an emotion, but an emptiness, a haunting, the recurring thought that… that I should feel something, even though I do not. That I hold responsibility, and though I try not to care, the thought does not listen. At one time, Gérard meant something to me, and though I cannot feel for him now, or for what I have done… I still cannot escape it, not entirely.”

“And… Tracer means something to you, as well?”

That seemed to give Widowmaker pause, and she stilled a moment, before her searching eyes fell to her right hand on the table. She lifted the arm, and turned it palm-up under her gaze.

For the first time, Satya noticed that the sniper had a second tattoo on the inside of her forearm, the same web design outlining a different string of lettering: ‘Araignée du soir.’

“I wanted to kill her,” Widowmaker began simply. “I had her in my sights, at the Volskaya compound. I wished I could end it, but… I knew I could not. That I could not bear the… unrest, discontentment, it would bring me.” The sniper tensed, her expression growing frustrated, then combative. What had been an open hand closed into a fist as she glared back at the architech. “I do not wish to speak of this.”

Satya had been about to push further, but decided against it. Widowmaker appeared to have reached a point she would need to reflect on further, a clear direction of thought that might only be set off-course again by further prodding. The architech relaxed and waited for additional instruction, her eyes drifting to the sniper’s arm. As her gaze lingered on the intricate tattoos, she recalled a similar occurrence earlier that day.

After a time, Widowmaker calmed, her fist unclenching but remaining closed. She briefly followed Satya’s gaze down to the arm, then up again with the accompaniment of a slightly arched eyebrow.

“What do they mean?” Satya asked simply, answering the sniper’s silent prompting.

Something of Widowmaker’s former confident demeanor returned as she opened her hand and seductively flexed her fingers. “There is a saying, one on the matters of luck and fortune. A spider seen in the morning brings grief, and in the evening, brings hope… but I am no such spider.” She held out her arm to Satya, showing the inner face more clearly. “If one is so unfortunate to see me, even as araignée du soir, the evening spider…” She turned her arm over, displaying the tattoo on the outer face. “…I will bring nothing but a nightmare – cauchemar – regardless.”

“That makes no sense whatsoever,” Satya announced bluntly.

The sniper seemed taken aback, displaying an odd and confused expression. “Quoi?

“The way you hold your rifle, how you engage in combat, and present yourself, as a whole… I was not even aware of the other tattoo until just today. And you are saying that the inner portion of the message is intended to be read first?”

“It… it’s just a saying.” Widowmaker began, her eyes narrowed with bewilderment more than warning. “Most would not read it at all, as I am a sniper.”

The architech’s face was stern and unmoving. “Logically, the outer surface of a limb is first in sequence.”

The sniper squinted unevenly. “You are… quite possibly the only person who thinks of that.”

After a sudden pause, Satya sighed with a twinge of embarrassment. “Yes, I suppose.”

Widowmaker retained her curious gaze for a while longer, before the beginnings of a smug smile gave way to a dignified chuckle of reserved laughter. “I do find your company… so intriguing.” After a moment, she added, “But not disagreeable.” Her small smile lingered briefly, before her gaze fell again toward the table, a new and pointed hesitance asserting itself seemingly of its own accord.

“There is… something on your mind?”

The sniper flinched only slightly, a long sigh seeming even to echo through her pursed lips. “I am finding… things that return. In these long, empty hours devoid of observation. Things that I had once occupied my time with. I was… so distracted, just before you arrived.”

Satya recalled the commotion she’d heard on the other side of the door. “And you wish for my assistance?”

“I don’t know. They are not feelings, and the memories are not new, I have never been without them. With little alternative, I am left to suspect it may be more to do with these new circumstances than with my degrading condition. I am… not certain what to think of that, and would appreciate… whatever you may have to offer on the matter.”

“It might help if you were more specific,” Satya stated with an arched eyebrow.

Widowmaker lightly scowled, but her glare didn’t linger. “I… was a dancer. In another life. Ballet, Swan Lake. It seems I am… still familiar with my performances.”

“So, that was it, then.” Satya murmured matter-of-factly, mostly to herself.

The sniper gave the architech a sudden, skeptical look. “That is all? But, of course, you must think it… frivolous.”

“That would most definitely make me a hypocrite.”

Widowmaker’s eyebrows jumped only slightly, as she blinked once.

Satya kept her voice even, but an undercurrent of warmness began to seep through. “I am certain our styles are much different, and… it has been some time since I have had the chance to practice, but… I do find the repetition, the coordination, the perfection of movement to be a thing of beauty. I never found such a thing at odds with the image of perfect order I hoped to represent, and I certainly do not think it would be a detriment to yours.”

Widowmaker narrowed her eyes, seeming aversive but thoughtful as she processed the information. “I am not certain I have an opinion on the matter. It only seemed… out of place.”

“Because it is something of the past?” Satya wondered aloud, “Something not of Talon?”

“…I suppose.”

“You think they would not approve?”

The sniper raised an eyebrow, turning back toward Satya. “I was not their slave, Symmetra. At least… not in the end.”

The sudden declaration – measured in volume, but more pointed than her voice had been moments prior – greatly peaked Satya’s interest. “How so?”

Widowmaker lightly smiled. “It was not so long ago that those who made me… or, those who had the greatest hand in my making, were purged from our ranks. Killed by my own hand, at the insistence of Doomfist himself. I was to be loyal only to him, and his vision. I remain Talon’s weapon, but now, it is by choice.”

There were a lot of things to process about that statement, but Satya still had a difficult time getting over how utterly preposterous all of these codenames continued to sound in what was otherwise a deadly serious tone of voice. It was certainly a chilling image the sniper presented, and Satya found the use of present tense near the end of the admission to be the most worrisome component of all.

And how much of it truly was her choice, in the state she was in? Satya found herself pondering the question, but stopped short, an odd pang of guilt coursing through her. It didn’t seem right to invalidate Widowmaker’s decisions, reduce them to the result of lingering manipulation, but… that was all they were, weren’t they?

Her state, Satya reminded herself, looking back over her thoughts for the point of contention. Widowmaker’s mind had been altered, and Talon had made her loyal. Those were likely very related to one another in execution, but fundamentally different in consideration. And… her loyalty had changed once before, it seemed. From one definition of Talon to another.

Still, Satya found her mind a storm of conflict. Something was coloring her thoughts, her logic, her reason. Keeping her from seeing Amélie’s side of things – if, again, she had any distinct presence remaining to be worthy of consideration. Whatever it was, Satya felt she was almost close enough to the idea to grasp it.

“…Hmph, so, I see you do not believe me, after all.”

Satya tensed at the voice and looked up, a shudder of fear rushing though her.

Widowmaker was wearing a smug, vindicated grin, but something in her eyes betrayed disappointment, perhaps nearly sadness. Still, her gaze lingered intently on Satya.

Having been caught in her deliberation, Satya felt… exposed, and perhaps under threat of some amount of danger she hadn’t considered prior. Her brows creased in dawning worry – worry for whom, she could not be certain – as she attempted to find some footing in the precipitous situation she had suddenly found herself in.

“I… am not quite certain what to believe,” Satya finally admitted, deciding honesty and directness were perhaps the best course of action available. “But… I will not invalidate your choices. Whatever the case, they are important. That… is truly what keeps me here. That you have… if not feelings, thoughts of your own. If not fears… worries. You are owed a say in the matter of what happens to you. These wants, needs, choices I see in you are real, they are your own, and… and I will not cast them aside in favor of those of a person who is not here.

Satya was surprised at the anger that had built in her voice, at the insistent finality with which she had spoken the last several words. Widowmaker herself seemed especially taken aback, watching in stunned silence as the architech’s breathing returned to normal.

“I… apologize,” said Satya, her voice low and still somewhat gasping for breath. “Evidently, I… have some things to work out.”

“…Evidently,” the sniper repeated in an amused sneer, the confusion in her expression largely departing. Still, several last flickers of uncertainty lingered in her stare. After a short silence had passed between them, she continued in a more plain voice, “You should not have grown so… attached. I am not worth your feelings.”

Satya returned an odd, concerned look, then sighed and averted her gaze. “You are beginning to sound like Sombra.”

Take it back.”

When Satya looked up again, she was greeted with a pointed scowl, one she observed with worry for several seconds before she was able to detect at least some level of jest involved in the display. She could have sworn she’d noticed Widowmaker intentionally adjust her expression in the intermediary, in an attempt to make its true nature more obvious.

“I will do no such thing,” Satya finally replied, arching an eyebrow and hoping for the best. “I stand by the comparison.”

Widowmaker scowled again, but it was followed with a brief laugh under her breath and a light shaking of her head. Soon, however, the faint smile vanished from her lips, her expression growing contemplative. “…She says such things?” the sniper finally asked, sounding almost somber through her apparent surprise.

Satya sighed again. “I am trying to get her not to.”

“Trying to get her not to say something?” Widowmaker suppressed a bout of laughter. “Please, if you are successful, you must show me your technique, no?” The sneer, however, lingered for only a short time before vanishing again. “I think we are done for today.”

“Of course,” Satya replied as she stood to leave, still feeling some lingering guilt over her strange outburst several minutes prior.

“But I would like to see you again,” the sniper clarified, seeming especially aversive.

“Of course,” Satya repeated, feeling somewhat awash with relief. “And, if you ever wished to… compare notes, on that other matter… I would be more than amenable.”

She hadn’t been entirely certain Widowmaker would catch her meaning, but the sudden, additional hesitance in the sniper’s eyes seemed to betray that she had.

“It is only an offer. Nothing more, nothing less.”

“…Of course.”

Chapter Text

Satya found Lúcio in the common room, most of the others seemingly already taking shifts in the newly-improvised practice range. In the far corner of the room, near the bookshelves and across from the main entrance, several smaller boxes of supplies had accumulated, most likely found in the crates Satya had helped move earlier.

Lúcio sat at the nearest table to the small pile, at the center of the couch that had its back to the bookshelves, and Satya took the seat to the DJ’s left, leaving enough room at the table for her own workspace. She paused to look over her shoulder at the equipment – seemingly several large, home-use electronic devices – before examining Lúcio’s work at the table – which seemed to involve several smaller components of said devices.

“…Greetings,” Satya began, with hesitance, when the DJ failed to acknowledge her presence.

Wha—oh, hey, Vaswani, what’s up?” Lúcio greeted, appearing somewhat startled as he removed his headphones, then rested his left arm against the back of the couch as he turned more fully toward the architech with a tentative but friendly grin. “So, uh… what can I do for you?”

“I was… hoping for your assistance in a matter involving audio equipment.”

The DJ froze, seeming dumbfounded for a long moment. “…Wait, really?”

The architech returned an odd look. “…Yes?”

“Cause that’s like… my exact thing.”

At Satya’s somewhat confused silence, Lúcio’s expression slowly broadened into a grin of seeming excitement, though his eyes remained widened in apparent disbelief.

“Uh, well, alright then! Whaddya got for me?”

Satya held out a small music-playing device in the palm of her hand. “I was wondering if, perhaps, this could be made to work with wireless earphones, with a range of… let us say, ten meters, approximate?”

The highly skeptical, concentrating look on Lúcio’s face set Satya aback for a moment. “Uh… where’d you even get something like that? ‘Cause it’s either the most obscure retro tech I’ve ever seen, or it’s a hundred years old. It probably doesn’t even have internet.”

Satya cast another long, searching look at the tiny, clip-on player that had once been a gift from Sanjay – she’d, of course, been sure to repeatedly search its internal workings for any monitoring devices in the months preceding her exit from Vishkar – and let out a quiet sigh. “Yes, I suspect that was the intention.”

“Well, at any rate, you’re gonna probably wanna start from scratch if you want it to do anything like that. I got a couple loose parts and salvages we can…”

Satya set the player aside, and cast an array of holographic projections over her workspace, her section of the table becoming a neat, orderly catalogue of the designs for many basic electronic components she had stored in her records, as well as other, more advanced systems she supposed might be relevant.

Lúcio had been in the process of pulling a smaller go-bag out of his backpack, but slowly reversed the motion as his wide eyes looked over Satya’s projection. “…yup, that’ll work!”

The two of them worked for nearly an hour, Satya moving components into place at Lúcio’s direction, as well as supplying her own innovations that the DJ seemed to find rather impressive. Once Satya had solidified the final design into physical being, Lúcio contributed a basic operating system from one of his own custom builds, and Satya was able to copy over the stored media files from her previous device.

“Hey, can I uh…” Lúcio began, seeming oddly sheepish as he scratched the back of his neck. “…cause, y’know, I’ve actually got the perfect thing to test this out with…”

Satya looked at him with brewing concern. “…if you believe such, I do not object.” She took one of the small earphones – a small, rounded device much like one of the Overwatch comms, but clearly made with hardlight – and fitted it to her ear.

“Okay so this is just… something I’ve been working on.” The DJ began with hesitance as he copied another file onto the device. “Just a sample, it’s not done yet, I… well, here goes nothin.’”

Satya braced herself for one of Lúcio’s usual fast-paced beats – not entirely intolerable, from what she remembered of the music’s somewhat pleasant electronic flow – but what played into Satya’s ear was something rather unexpected.

It wasn’t fast, not exactly. The core of it was familiar, but far more smoothed out, almost scenic. A soft, soothing procession of harmonious sound, not quite reduced to ambient gradients, but lacking entirely in staggered percussion.

It was… peaceful, calming, having almost the same effect Zenyatta’s voice occasionally seemed to be imbued with. Satya’s eyes widened as the music overtook her, its pleasantness on another level entirely from what she had heard prior. “What… is this?” she asked, her voice possibly more urgent than she had intended.

“I, um…” Lúcio stuttered, his eyes widening as well. “I just… my music was always supposed to bring people together, y’know? Except… well, when I wasn’t sure what would happen back there… at the docks, it… it didn’t sit right with me, that maybe my tunes weren’t really for everybody. So, I’ve been thinkin’ about my next album and, well, I wanna make sure it... does have somethin’ for everybody.”

“Oh…” Satya began, stunned at the DJ’s words. “Thank you, that is…”

She already knew it was a far grander gesture than she had immediately realized. It would have been unthinkable only weeks ago, and now… to have so influenced his nearly singular passion, not solely for herself, but for the betterment of the world, in a much similar way to what she, herself, had newly realized was the true path to doing just that…

“So, did you wanna try out the range next?”

They strangely sudden and casual question had been one of rescue, from the speechlessness that Satya had found herself in. The architech didn’t feel as if her words had been nearly adequate, but from the look on the DJ’s face, it was clear that Satya’s expression must have been all the gratitude he had needed.

Leaving the new device on the table, Satya slowly stood, making her way past the other two tables and completing a full loop around all six couches. At no point did the signal seem at all interrupted.

“It works wonderfully,” Satya said aloud, but with the elegance of a whisper, as she retook her initial seat next to Lúcio.

“Hope it’s good for what you need it for,” the DJ provided with a smile.

Satya hadn’t been certain she would need it; that she would even be presented with the opportunity for its use. In fact, that uncertainty had been what had finally convinced her to take the seeming risk of pursuing the project at all. The assurance to herself that it was a contingency, and nothing more. Satya wouldn’t push the matter, she had decided. If things went on the planned course, the device would not be needed at all.

But on the chance that it would be needed… it still was not entirely complete.

“I suspect this may not be in your purview…” Satya began with hesitance, then with something of a pang of guilt, “…and by it, I of course mean no offense to your own skill as a musician, but what I still require are… several specific tracks, and I am unsure where I could obtain them.”

“I mean, we’re not exactly hooked up to the outside world down here…” Lúcio offered, his eyes squinted to the ceiling in consideration. “You could ask Lena, see if Athena could help you out, or… I mean, Sombra could probably get what you need, but as a musical professional I think I’m contractually obligated to advise against it.”

Satya’s face fell slightly. She had been hoping to avoid requesting Sombra’s assistance, since the specifics of what pieces of music she required would most certainly betray the purpose for which she required them. And now that she had devoted thought to the matter, the same was likely true of Lena, as well.

But Lúcio already seemed distracted with different thoughts, entirely. “Do you… know where I can find her, anyway?” He began, seeming slightly cautious. “Sombra, I mean. I’ve been meaning to run a couple things by her, but I don’t know where her room is.”

Satya counted herself only moderately fortunate that her thoughts had carried her gaze to linger on the device on the table, and not directly toward the DJ.

Though, the rigid laws of spatial geometry aside, in that moment Satya was quite certain the blush on her cheeks could be seen from any angle.

She hadn’t set a specific timetable for when she would reveal the truth – indeed, she had had no qualms with being open about hers and Sombra’s closeness, it was only when definitions had become involved that the hesitance had presented itself. That, at least, Satya felt had been resolved, even if the particular words of the definition had yet to manifest, and even then… Satya supposed that in a more generalized context, words such as relationship or involved might prove to be sufficiently adequate descriptors.

Besides, Lúcio had become one of her closest friends, and out of all the others, seemed already to be the most comfortable with Sombra. Given how many of her companions were already aware – even more than she’d thought, if a certain conversation earlier that day was any indication – it seemed entirely unnecessary to avoid the subject any longer.

None of that made actually beginning to speak any less of a struggle, as Satya was quick to find out as she hesitated over her long-awaited reply. Casting a sweeping glance around the room to make sure the two of them were still alone, Satya quietly began:

“Actually, she is… staying in my room.”

“Oh,” Lúcio stated briefly with a twinge of uncertainty, as if it might or might not have answered his question, though shortly afterward, he added a half-embarrassed, half-smug, “ohhhhhhh, gotcha.”

Satya blinked once, then turned to cast a curious, skeptical look at the grinning but otherwise unperturbed DJ. “You… that is all?

At the question, a slight amount of hesitance returned to Lúcio’s expression and posture. “I mean… I knew you two were close, at least, and I kinda wondered…” He seemed to have a sudden realization, and the grin returned. “This was the ‘complicated’ part, wasn’t it?”

“Well, yes…” Satya began with another light blush, though it soon faded to nervousness of another kind. “Though, also the part where she had initially been tasked to coerce me into providing confidential information to Talon, prior to my discovery of her ultimate motivations.”

Lúcio had an odd look on his face, though the grin still hadn’t faded. “Yeah… o-okay, maybe that’s not the best opening note to the whole thing…” He settled into the couch at what seemed a more direct viewing angle, crossing his ankles and returning his left arm to the back of the couch once more. After a moment, his expression grew more hesitant. “I mean… you really don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, but…” The face he made was clearly in jest, but looked almost begging or pleading. “…you can’t just leave me hangin’ like that.”

Satya rolled her eyes, then allowed her thoughts to settle. “She called me her friend. I knew it was not meant in a genuine sense, but eventually… I could see a truth to it, buried in the chaos of her actions. She wanted it to be real, but had settled for something false; not only in my case, but in seemingly every case, for her entire life.” She paused, casting a grateful look toward the DJ. “I was… very glad to learn that you had been speaking with her. It likely means much more to her than you had realized.”

Lúcio’s eyes widened slightly. “I mean, it helps that I was already kind of a fan…”

Satya recalled the leaked information the DJ had mentioned. “I think you are a fan of everyone who hates Vishkar.”

Lúcio brought both of his hands between the two of them, extending his thumbs and index fingers at right angles from each other and quickly flicking his hands forward into a pointing gesture accompanied by a snide smirk. “Now you’re getting it.”

Satya shook her head lightly with another eye-roll, collecting her thoughts and taking a moment to return to her previous note of tranquility. “Sombra wanted a friend, and I decided I would be that for her – though, per her unclear advances and my… responsiveness to them, I approached the matter with a mind open to… other, additional possibilities. And so, with much difficulty, I made it my mission to reach her, and that is how we have found ourselves fighting for our lives against an immensely powerful, global conspiracy.”

Lúcio had the oddest, wide-eyed grin on his face. “That… that does sound like something you would do, yeah.” He took a moment to contemplate something. “And… Lena and Zen must know already, right? ‘Cause they’re covering for you?”

Satya winced at that. “I did not ask of them to do such. I… am not sure I would have preferred to have told the whole truth in so many words, but…” She let out a long sigh. “It is frustrating, having kept so many secrets already, and now there is another lie told on my behalf.”

The concern on Lúcio’s face spoke of a sudden pang of realization. “I mean, it was true in the end, right? You did get through to her, got Overwatch the intel on this stuff, and brought her here to help us deal with it all… that’s the part that was real, even if anyone lookin’ might’ve seen it as somethin’ else for a bit. Givin’ all the details would’ve just made it seem more like that somethin’ else and less like… what it was?” The DJ seemed lost for a moment, then shrugged lightly. “…And, now I’m confused, but I guess it’s just like… sometimes the truth can be a little deceptive, y’know?”

“That statement makes no logical sense,” Satya insisted sternly, “but… I believe I see your point.”

Lúcio’s posture slackened. “Well, that’s a relief, cause I thought I lost it for a minute there. Anyway, point is…” He offered an unmoving, bright smile. “…we’re good.”

Satya lightly returned the smile, feeling some amount of relief for herself. “For that… I am glad.”

The DJ let the moment settle for a time before growing only slightly impatient. “So… if you wanted to stick around for a bit, I do have…” He cast a wary glance over the various physical electronic components strewn about his own section of the table. “…some stuff I could probably use your help with. I’ve been trying to run some stuff from Genji’s storage on this, but… it’s not exactly compatible with the system. To be honest, I know this kinda thing really isn’t your cup of tea, and you’d probably just say it’s a waste of—”

“I will provide assistance where I can,” Satya interjected with a warmer smile, seemingly to Lúcio’s surprise. The two quickly set to work on what was apparently some sort of secret project. As the architech prepared her holograms once more, she noted that even though the energy she had used in the previous design session had been a minimal percentage, the charge in her arm already seemed to have replenished itself, much sooner than expected.

It was certainly something to ponder.

Chapter Text

Weaving light between her fingers, Satya created three spherical arrangements of a similar size and shape to her turrets.

Unlike her turrets, these constructs levitated in the air, slowly floating across to the far wall of the storage room. When they had reached their destinations, the constructs spun around to face their creator and the room’s other occupant.

With their central, eye-like lenses, they projected not draining beams, but energy shields. These were not the wide, oval-shaped, unit-defense barriers they had initially been designed to create, but small, circular planes of translucent hardlight that extended only as far in width as the diameters of the drones themselves.

Standing only slightly farther out from the near, crate-lined wall than Satya did, Sombra leveled her weapon – a simplified, hardlight rendition of her usual machine pistol designed in order to help her practice her targeting skills without wasting ammunition or invoking the dangers of a live-fire exercise – and screwed up her face in concentration. Just as the mobile shield generators began their movement, rearranging themselves in sequence like overturned cups in a shell game, the hacker opened fire.

The targets moved vertically, horizontally, and diagonally along the plane of those two directions. It was a predetermined pattern, at least for the initial round, and yet the carefully-measured pulses of energy drain failed to deactivate the simple barriers even when fired by the dozen.

“Three draining pulses in sequence, according to rate of fire, are keyed to deactivate the shield upon impact,” Satya began, with an air of condescending disappointment, once Sombra had emptied her pre-programmed magazine. “And yet, you failed to accomplish this feat even once.” She held out her arm in a sweeping gesture toward the three targets and their still-activated shields.

Sombra returned a scowl that conveyed far more confidence than was appropriate in the situation. “I hit all the targets fine, they must be broken or something,” she said with a light shrug.

“Three pulses in sequence,” Satya emphasized. “It does not count if there are missed shots in between.”

“Well that’s no fair…”

“I am measuring both your accuracy and your precision.” Satya continued unabated. “Each shield is designed to replenish itself after impact, at a rate that can only be overwhelmed by a sustained burst of fire. Now, again.”

Before the hacker could react, Satya built a small sphere of light between her prosthetic fingers and delivered it to the side receiver of Sombra’s weapon. The targets started moving again, and Sombra opened fire once more.

She seemed to dedicate her attention to each target for a longer period of time – easily long enough to deliver the full three rounds to each – but while the shields flickered more dramatically than they had on the previous attempt, all still remained active at the end of the exercise.

With a huff, Satya stepped forward, taking hold of the left arm Sombra insisted on holding out to her side while firing. By the wrist, she guided the limb so the hacker’s hand settled on the underside of the weapon.

Sombra’s eyes were slightly widened, a confused smile playing at her lips. “Uh, amiga? I know how guns work. There’s only one trigger.”

Satya rolled her eyes with a defeated sigh, taking a step back but letting her glare linger on the seemingly amused hacker.

“When are we even gonna use this stuff, anyway? I mean, bullets don’t do shit against them, and even if we’re going with the energy drain stuff for real… they have to have fixed that vulnerability by now, right?”

Satya noted the slightly dark look that had entered the hacker’s expression. “We do not know the full extent of what we will be up against. It is always prudent to maintain basic targeting skills.”

“I do fine when I’m not up against your weirdly specific restrictions,” Sombra chided with another shrug. “In a real firefight, it’s just about what works.”

“On the contrary,” Satya began, looking contemplative, “I found our encounter with the lone assassin-type to be much like a puzzle, or an equation. Its makers had gone to great lengths to fortify it against nearly all conceivable avenues of attack. It was a challenge, of sorts; one that required both skill and logical reasoning to find a way to damage it at all. Whatever other enemies we encounter will almost certainly provide similar challenges, and I think it a necessary precaution to ensure our capability in any skill that may be required, no matter how unlikely the circumstance of its use may seem at the present moment.”

“And what, you think being able to shoot a moving basketball three times in a row from across a four-lane highway is going to be the magical key to our victory?

Satya raised an eyebrow. “I think, given the performance I have seen today, it is a miracle you did not injure me when you dispatched the Vishkar agent that had attempted to abduct me.”

“Ugh, fine, okay…” Sombra huffed as she settled into a far more professional-looking firing stance with an ease that betrayed already having been aware of the proper technique. “But that’s a really cheap card to play, you know that?”

Satya smirked in victory as she commenced the third test.




“Okay, amiga. Now it’s your turn.”

A slight, confident grin of anticipation was the architech’s only response to the hacker’s snide proclamation. As she held out her prosthetic for Sombra to access, Satya kept her eyes dramatically downrange, though the gesture was mainly in preparation to hide the slight blush that formed on her cheeks as she remembered her earlier phrasing on the subject.

Once Sombra finally stood back with an anticipatory smirk, Satya held out her hardlight palm in front of her, using the fingers of her other hand to scroll through the several new wireframe designs that she could now project above it.

“Ooh, start with that one,” Sombra announced excitedly as an admittedly underwhelming rectangular structure presented itself.

With a skeptical glance toward Sombra, and another toward the shape spinning above her palm, Satya brought forth a bright glow of white light that immediately behaved strangely. Instead of rising to fill the wireframe – which now vanished entirely – the flow of light diverted into several strands that wove around her wrist and between her fingers to coalesce somewhere on the underside of her outstretched hand. Quickly turning the limb over, Satya caught the end of the process as the object formed itself on the outer face of her forearm, just behind her wrist. She now recognized the structure as an additional hardlight emitter, this one’s generation platform narrow and rectangular, and partially recessed into the side that faced out along the line of her hand.

Finally placing the premise with a light roll of her eyes, Satya supplied power to the device, watching as a long, knife-like blade of translucent blue hardlight extended from her wrist.

“Now do a cool pose or something!” Sombra exclaimed, seemingly ready to burst with a sort of giddy excitement that Satya had little patience for.

“I am not trained in the use of this type of weapon,” Satya announced flatly, though her exasperated expression spoke volumes, “and I find it wholly unnecessary to attempt such an endeavor.”

“Oh, that’s funny,” Sombra said with audible mischief as she turned her back to Satya and twirled her fingers through the air, “because I could have sworn I heard someone say something about… capability in any skill that may be required.” At the final words, she turned quickly back toward the architech with a sinister smirk, though it quickly faded to something more hesitantly honest. “If you hadn’t noticed, you’re kinda useless in close quarters. Kind of a shame with all this tech you got.”

Satya had been about to object until she remembered several instances of specific difficulty in the fight against the armored architech. With a sigh, she announced, “…very well.”

With a satisfied grin, Sombra sent trails of purple light out toward the three drones, her circuit lines spreading across them as the she pulled up a holographic keyboard and directed them into a small circle in the center of the room.

Reluctantly, Satya started toward the center, placing herself between the drones as they began to move erratically around her. The architech made several attempted strikes against their shields, but her targets always managed to evade just in time.

She was certain she looked completely ridiculous.

Her thoughts drifted to the simple task she had set about that day, one she had never intended to allow to become significant enough to weigh on her. Still, she couldn’t decide whether she hoped for their training session to soon be at its end, so that she could ask the question she had been intending to, or whether she would prefer it to continue for as long as possible, in order to further delay the discussion.

Of course, it would need to occur eventually. Even if the device was never to be needed after all, Satya wouldn’t leave the task unfinished. Completion would be optimal, if the situation ever arose that would require—

Satya paused, her gaze falling on her prosthetic after another ineffective swipe.

…But it was the same, wasn’t it?

The architech turned around in place, taking on a more elegant stance with her feet placed close together. Back at the line of crates, Sombra seemed confused, but her face bore something of an anticipatory smirk.

From the hacker’s puppeteering, it was clear she was directing the drones manually. Still, even supposedly haphazard human behavior had its inherent patterns. Satya held her hands out in front of her, staying wary of the blade’s position but otherwise removing it from consideration as she planned out her movement.

The hardlight weapon was a weightless extension of her forearm, not hindering the limb’s movement in the slightest. It wasn’t a new skill that was needed, not entirely.

From her preparatory stance, Satya moved all at once, her limbs carrying her in practiced motions. It was only a small adjustment, and a slight challenge to her coordination, to direct her left arm in a pattern that carried the weapon though the paths of the moving targets. One after another, shields flared and faded as elegant, sweeping strikes found their marks.

The targets retreated out into a wider circle, remaining in place as the test completed. Sombra stood wide-eyed with a stunned smile as Satya dismissed the blade and its emitter and proceeded back to the staging area.

Sooo, what do you think?” Sombra asked with a seeming grin of pride as Satya stood beside her.

“I am still not convinced of its practicality,” the architech declared, unphased, but she fell quickly to inspecting the structure of her prosthetic for any other convenient locations for additions.

“Although… you have provided me with some ideas.”




As the two of them readied to leave, Satya finally found the courage within herself to pose the question. She drew the small, vaguely phone-sized device from her pocket, the two earbuds stowed away in their slots along the right-side edge so that only their curved shape prevented them from being flush with the smooth surface.

“There was… something for which I was hoping you could provide assistance,” she stated with dawning hesitation.

“Yeah? What is it, amiga? ” Sombra replied offhand, occupied with something on one of her screens.

Satya stood nervously with the device in hand. “I was looking to acquire… several musical arrangements, in particular. They would be very old, but also well-known, and…”

Sombra had turned around by then, something in her expression changing as she took note of the hardlight construct and watched the architech stumble over the words. “Oh. Yeah, I think I know what you’re looking for.” The hacker pulled up several screens between them and began scrolling through a list of some sort. “Swan Lake, right?”

She must have found the answer in Satya’s expression, for the next moment, she swiped a long fingernail across several titles. The words appeared to copy themselves, and the versions that had moved along with the intervening nail dissolved into a pixelated data stream, one that solidified into a small, pale purple cube of light that the hacker seemed to pull into being with the aligned tips of her fingers. With another flourish, the cube was sent through the air toward Satya’s player, dissolving into data once more as several additional titles appeared in the device’s audio database.

Satya looked up with a curious expression. “You… already had these, didn’t you?”

Sombra winced at the question, her gaze averting. “Yeah, I… I listen to them sometimes. Not really my thing, but…”

There was a pronounced, resigned sadness welling in her eyes that she seemed unable to conceal. Upon reflection, it was the same look that had more-or-less taken hold nearly every other time the sniper had been mentioned in her presence.

It was what had finally broken through to her, Satya remembered, so long ago now that it seemed something in the distant past. The accusation of the coldness, the heartlessness, she had been bound for. The realization that had given her pause, had seemed to shock her to her very core.

You… reminded me of someone.

Someone I wish I could help sometimes.

Slowly, Satya set her prosthetic arm around Sombra’s shoulders. Receiving no objection, she guided the two of them to sit at the edge of one of the crates behind them. She kept her arm firmly in place as the hacker’s closed eyed began to intermittently pull tighter in earnest – a muted, soundless sobbing she seemed to have perfected through practice.

“Do you love her?”

Even at the quiet, gentle tone of her words, Satya felt the sudden, frantic tense in Sombra’s posture. “It is alright if you do,” the architech added quickly, taking the hacker’s hand in hers with a slight squeeze of reassurance.

“…I don’t know.”

Sombra’s words were marked with exasperation, perhaps a hint of irony, even as they grew more hesitant. “I mean, it wasn’t like that, not really. I don’t know if it would’ve been… if things were different…” She let out a quick sigh, shaking her head as her thoughts seemed to settle.

“It just… wasn’t something I ever thought about, you know? I mean, even if I did, what the fuck could I do about it? I didn’t want to find an answer that would just make everything worse.”

Satya squeezed the hacker’s hand again, pulling closer and laying flush against her shoulder so her resting head settled into a cushion of purple hair. “But… you care for her, a great deal.”

“Yeah,” Sombra said with much less hesitance. “Yeah, I do. And it hurts.” The hacker took several deep, sighing breaths as the following silence endured. “I… I wanted to be there for her, ‘cause I could tell she needed someone, but…”

Satya considered the statement, and how at odds it seemed with their present circumstance. “But it did not turn out that way, I presume?”

“She hates me,” Sombra said simply, then laughed a brief chuckle at the words. “She doesn’t want me around – doesn’t want anyone around, really – and just… sometimes, for the smallest moment when she’s starting to slip… I can sort of tell some part of her’s glad I’m there, you know? But then it’s right back to ‘it would be such a shame if you died on the next mission’ and… I feel like I’m always just waiting for that one moment again.”

“You said… you were thinking it was your fault,” Satya remembered aloud.

“Yeah, I…” Sombra seemed evasive for a moment. “I… read her file. And for everyone else, that helps me get to know them better, but for her…”

Eyes narrowed in contemplation, Satya put the pieces together. “You… became attached, to what she was like before?”

“She doesn’t like it when I push her,” Sombra began with a slight air of guilt, “and I know that. I try to hide it pretty well, but… she made it pretty clear the other day, she’s always known how much I want her to feel things.” There were tears beginning to run down the hacker’s cheeks, and her whole body tensed at something that passed over her thoughts. “…But I can’t help it! The way she’s so… programmed. It’s like she’s standing right in front of me but she’s not even a whole person!”

Satya winced at the display, a deep, uneasy feeling washing over her as the thought she could never seem to grasp lingered at the edge once more.

“Am I not a whole person?”

Sombra had jumped and turned with a start, the frantic gasp of something apologetic at the edge of her voice, but Satya cut her off with another quick clasp of hands.

“I know it is different,” she added firmly and reassuringly, “but… I am not sure we are seeing the same things, in her. It may be that… the conditioning has already failed enough to prompt a noticeable change in her demeanor, or that the adjustment has arisen due to her separation from Talon, but… I do not see in her what you are describing. She is not a machine, nor a weapon. She is a person, and her company is… agreeable. Pleasant, even. I know she is deceived, and that she was made to be this way against her will, that she was someone else before, but she is also the person that is here, and I do not think it is fair to judge her by…”

And there it was.

Satya trailed off as her eyes widened, her breath catching over the words as the thought that had evaded her finally made itself known. She let out a long, stuttered, downcast sigh as she let her head fall into her hands.

“…Amiga? You alright there?” Sombra’s lighthearted but concerned words danced about the periphery of the dark clouds that formed in the architech’s mind.

“I think… I am going to need some time.”

“Whatever you need,” Sombra gently assured as she settled in for the wait. After a time, the hacker began to shift uncomfortably, only seeming to grow more concerned.

Satya knew she must have appeared troubled, the building revelation carrying her through the fresh stings of memories she had not dwelt upon for many years. With only a slight, subtle motion, she opened her hand from where it had become clenched, and Sombra took it in both of hers without further prompting.

“Vishkar valued me, for my potential,” the architech began, slowly, as she cast her gaze out toward the far wall of the storage room. “To them, I had a gift; one to be embraced, and cultivated.” She paused, wincing with consideration. “Most of the time. There were… still some things they did, in an attempt to make me more… presentable.”

She noted the sudden change in pressure around her hand, and with a brief aside glance… the hurt in Sombra’s eyes was far more than she had expected, or been prepared for.

“But… before…” Satya continued, averting her gaze once again, “…it was different. I was seen as… an affliction. Something broken, I…”

She noticed Sombra growing more agitated, and paused, taking long, slow breaths.

“The worst was not the total rejection,” Satya continued. “The worst was when they tried to spare me their hatred. When it was my condition that was blamed, and myself seen as a victim, as if we were not one in the same. Even the… the idea, itself, of a version of me that is not how I am…” Something between a shudder and a scowl crossed Satya’s face. “A person with a different mind, you understand? That person would not have been me. And I could tell that was what they wanted… for me to not exist, and that other person to have lived in my stead.”

One of Sombra’s hands had shifted to rest on Satya’s back, near her shoulder, and in a moment the architech found herself pulled into a wordless, desperate embrace against the hacker’s chest. A gloved hand was running a gentle, soothing path up and down her back.

“I… think I have been seeing that in her,” Satya began once she’d reached