Chapter 1: Ache
The hot desert winds blew across the vast emptiness that was the Arabian Desert. Little to nothing lived out in the unforgiving place. However, sitting amongst the harsh climate was Oasis: a true jewel of the desert, where some of the world’s greatest minds resided and worked. Its majesty was so gleaming, it almost seemed utopian.
The city’s citizens were going about their day, doing whatever so they pleased. All across the city, its leaders, the Ministers, worked diligently in their respected offices and buildings.
However, one of the Ministers wasn’t working in a nice office building like her subordinates, but deep underground in her dark laboratory, where seldom few people were allowed. She preferred it this way, as so no one would disturb the work she considered vital.
Moira O’Deorain, the Minister of Genetics, stood at one of the tables at the center of her lab. In her hand, she was examining a glass beaker full of liquid with a bright-green hue. Her mismatched eyes scrutinized the solution before she set it down on the table, typing out her observations on her datapad.
Suddenly, the large display screen behind Moira began flashing. She turned around and noticed a symbol that was in the screen’s center: a black letter ‘T’ with a black shield behind it.
Sighing, Moira moved away from her table and stood before the screen. She straightened herself and said, “Answer call.”
The screen stopped flashing and revealed a man wearing an all-black suit. His eyes were glaring at Moira and his jaw was set, as if to keep himself from frowning any more than he already was.
“Doctor O’Deorain,” the man drawled.
“Donovan,” Moira replied. “To what do I owe the pleasure for this unexpected-”
“Stop talking, O’Deorain. You know perfectly well why I’m calling,” said Donovan, his voice filled with aggravation.
Moira cocked an eyebrow. “I am a geneticist, Donovan, not a mind reader.”
That remark seemed to annoy Donovan more. “The project we assigned to you,” he stated. “What is your current progress?”
At that moment, Moira stilled for a minute and replied, “Donovan, what you ask of me is beyond-”
Donovan shouted in frustration. “I don’t want to hear your excuses! I want progress on this project!” He collected himself and said calmly (albeit tersely), “Remember what we gave you. We are the ones who provided you with funding when no one else would. We were the ones who gave you this position as an Oasis Minister. So when we ask for something, you will deliver.”
Moira knew she shouldn’t make any more remarks, lest she regret them later. “Of course, Donovan. I’ll have something for you.”
Donovan nodded and said, “It’s good you remember where your loyalties lie.” With that, the screen went black as the call ended.
Moira sighed and she walked towards her small office that sat on the far side of her lab. She sat down in her chair with a groan and leaned her head back. She let out another sigh and leaned forward to place her elbows on her desk. As if by some magnetic pull, Moira’s eyes floated over to the framed picture next to her.
In the picture was a young woman with creamy white skin, blonde hair done up into a ponytail, and soft blue eyes. She wore a black turtleneck sweater and matching miniskirt, all of which was partially covered by a white lab coat. Her smile brightened the picture even more.
Moira slowly reached out and grabbed the picture, holding it delicately as if it were fragile. She looked at the blonde woman’s face, Moira’s gaze a mix of happiness and sadness. Without realizing it, a single teardrop fell and spattered against the picture of Angela Ziegler, Moira’s former colleague...and lover.
“I’m sorry, Angela,” Moira whispered to herself. She had messed everything up, betraying every last bit of trust the Swiss woman had for her; and with Angela, she had a lot.
“I’ll make things right, m’aingeal,” Moira said as she put the picture down and walked back into her lab. If everything went to her plan, this new project she was working on would be the last one Moira did for Talon.
A continent over, inside Overwatch’s Gibraltar base, a lone person sat in the small office of the building’s medical bay. Everyone else had gone to bed hours ago, but not Angela Ziegler.
Angela was typing away on her computer, the characters appearing before her eyes as her fingers swiftly pushed each key. The brightness from the screen burned her eyes, but she didn’t care; she had medical reports to finish, and she’d be damned if she didn’t complete them now.
Of course, she had the usual round of individuals come by and tell her to take a break: Lena being first, then Jack, then Winston, and even Ana. However, she brushed their pleas away and only continued her work.
It was unfortunate that her eyes wandered as she typed, as Angela’s eyes fell onto a single photograph on her desk. Her fingers stilled as she reached over and grabbed the photograph of a tall, redheaded woman wearing a black, button-up shirt, black slacks, and a purple tie. Her signature smirk and mismatched eyes bore right into Angela’s heart.
“Dammit, Moira,” Angela whispered. “Why did you do it? I trusted you.” She looked at the clock on her computer and saw it was nearly two in the morning. Angela put the picture down and finished the last report. With that done, she closed the computer and stood up from her desk, making sure to grab the picture before she made the walk back to her quarters.
Upon entering, Angela felt the all-too-familiar tug at her heart when she saw the bed empty. Sure, they both worked long hours, but they would almost always return in time to sleep together. Sighing, Angela placed the picture on her bedside table and proceeded to change into her sleepwear.
Climbing into the bed that was far too big for one person, Angela stared at the picture of Moira on her table. With all of the things she had done: stealing Angela’s research, the experiments on Gabriel and herself, as well as completely turning her back on Overwatch for Talon, why did Angela still keep the photo of Moira?
Because she still loved her.
Chapter 2: The New Doctor
Morning came and Angela immediately found herself once more in her office. She had been busier than usual ever since Overwatch’s revival. With growing unrest around the world and the constant threat of Talon, the U.N allowed Overwatch to reform. However, they were keeping a closer eye on their activities.
As Angela sat at her desk, typing away at her computer, there was a knock at the door. Without looking up, Angela answered, “Come in.”
The door hissed as it moved to the side and two people walked in: the one in front was Jack Morrison, the team’s strike commander and one of Angela’s closest friends. Standing behind Jack was another man. He was around Angela’s age, with brown hair was cut fairly short on the sides and slicked back on top. He wore a white, button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, khaki pants, and a red tie.
“Angela, have you got a minute?” Jack asked.
Angela nodded and stood from her desk. “Why, yes. What is it?”
Jack brought his hand back and guided the man forward. He smiled when he stood before Angela.
“Angela, this is our newest member, Doctor Elias Mahler,” Jack said.
Elias reached his hand out. “There’s no need to introduce yourself, Doctor Ziegler. I’m pretty sure everyone worldwide knows your name,” he said with an accent.
“Your accent is familiar,” Angela said as she accepted Elias’s handshake.
Elias smiled. “I’m from Austria. I was born in a small town outside Vienna.”
Angela nodded as Elias released her hand. He smirked and said, “I must say, your beauty is far more prominent when seeing you in person, as opposed to a holoscreen.”
Rolling her eyes, Angela said, “Looks like you found a real charmer, Jack.”
The three chuckled. “Don’t worry, Angie. I already told him not to try anything,” Jack stated.
Elias nodded. “Absolutely. I shall make sure our relationship is nothing but strictly professional.”
“Well, welcome to the team, Doctor Mahler,” Angela replied. “So, where exactly will you be working?”
“Doctor Mahler is our new R&D scientist,” Jack explained. “He’s a replacement for...you know who.”
Angela did a good job of hiding the pained look in her eyes as she once more thought of Moira. She was so caught up in thinking of her that she didn’t hear what else Jack said.
Angela snapped back to attention. “Apologies, Jack. My mind drifted off.”
Jack nodded. “As I said, do you think you could show Doctor Mahler around as well as to his lab?”
Angela looked back to her desk and deduced her work could be put off for maybe a few minutes. She turned back and answered, “Of course.”
Jack smiled and said, “Then I’ll be going.” With that, he walked out of the office, leaving Elias and Angela alone.
“Well, Doctor Ziegler, shall we be off?” Elias asked.
Angela nodded and led Elias out of the medical wing. She showed him the major areas that made up the Watchpoint, stopping every once in a while for another agent to introduce themselves. Finally, they made it to the main elevator.
“The lab where you will be working is on the lowest level,” Angela explained as she hit the bottom button and the elevator began descending. They stood in silence for a few moments before Angela asked, “So how did you come to us?”
Elias looked up and replied, “Well, when I was but a boy, I had never thought about what I’d like to do, for all of my free time was spent getting into mischief around my hometown.”
He stopped for a second and then said, “Then, the Omnic Crisis happened. My home was destroyed. All of my family and closest friends were killed. From that day on, I excelled in school, so that I may one day do something to help create a better future, a better world. My hard work in school paid off and I received my doctorate from Cambridge, but I still really had no idea what I was going to do. This may sound narcissistic, but I knew I was destined for great things.”
The elevator continued and so did Elias. “I worked with several government agencies around the world, helping with weapon prototypes, research, and so much more for the nearly ten years out of university.” He paused and said, “Then, I heard stories across every news network about Overwatch’s reform.”
The elevator finally stopped and the door opened, revealing the vast laboratory that hadn’t changed at all in the years since Overwatch had disbanded. Mixed emotions were coming from the both of them; Elias looked on in awe as he walked passed the various tables, while Angela followed close behind at a slower pace, as old memories began bubbling to the surface.
“It appears my predecessor was quite messy,” Elias pointed out as she examined one of the cluttered work tables.
Angela nodded. “Moi- Doctor O’Deorain was known for working on multiple projects, with each one starting from a stroke of genius.”
Elias chuckled. “It happens to the best of us.” He ran his hands along another table and said, “As I was saying in the elevator, after the announcement of Overwatch’s reform, it was obvious where I wanted to go. Thus, I managed to contact Commander Morrison, and the rest lead up to where I am now.”
“Well, we’re all glad to have you on board, Doctor Mahler,” Angela said with a smile.
Elias returned the smile. “Thank you, Doctor Ziegler.”
“So, what precisely will you being doing for us?” Angela asked.
Elias leaned against one of the tables and replied, “Researching and developing new tech and such for use in the field by our agents.” He walked around to examine another table and asked, “You would know this better, but what are the guidelines for conducting experiments of our own?”
Angela nodded and said, “It is allowed. However, I must warn you that the U.N. has decided to more closely monitor our activities. Just a little heads up, if you are caught performing anything illegal by the standards of the U.N., then we and they shall take action.”
Elias placed his hand over his heart and said, “I promise you that any experiment or project I conduct shall abide by Overwatch regulations and international law.”
Angela nodded and smiled. “That’s good to hear.” She looked at her datapad and said, “Well, I must be off. I’ve put work to the side far too long. Take care, Doctor Mahler.”
“Auf wiedersehen,” Elias responded. Angela grinned and walked into the elevator, taking herself back up to the Watchpoint’s main level.
Three months had passed since Donovan’s message about the project and Moira was frantically running about in her lab, as though she were extremely stressed about something
But that was the idea.
Suddenly, the large display screen in Moira’s lab began lit up with the Talon symbol. Moira knew who was calling her, only this time, she welcomed it.
“Answer call,” she said breathlessly as she paced more around the lab’s tables.
The screen warped and Donovan appeared. He looked incredibly displeased and was about to go off on Moira when she interrupted.
“Whatever it is, Donovan, make it quick. I’m onto something,” she snapped.
Donovan’s expression changed instantly. “Really? Does it pertain to the project we had given you?”
Moira nodded. “Yes. If I’m given plenty of time, you will get the results you want.”
Donovan smirked. “Well then, sorry for interrupting. Is whatever happened going on the right path?”
“It appears so, but I will need to run some more tests,” Moira answered. She picked up some scattered papers and added, “With the time to sequence all I’ve found, it’ll be at least three months before the results you desire are in.”
Donovan frowned. “Three months? That seems like a long time. Is it possible to shorten the time?”
Moira shook her head. “Not unless you want incomplete and useless results.”
Donovan stroked his chin and thought for a few moments. He relented and said, “Okay, O’Deorain. You’ll have your three months. However, when your three months are though I will be personally coming down to Oasis to see the results myself.”
Moira nodded. “Of course, Donovan. You won’t be disappointed.”
Donovan curtly nodded and the screen went black. Moira sighed and tossed the papers back on the table.
“Bastard,” she muttered. She looked around to the lab she had practically called home, already deducing what research she’d take with her, encrypt, or destroy before she left. She pulled up her datapad and began pulling up various files.
“Let’s see how well you cope without me.”
Chapter 3: The Vision
Months had passed since Elias had started as the new R&D scientist for Overwatch and all was going well. Most of his time thus far had been spent doing check-ups on the gear of various agents. It was rather dull, and Elias wanted nothing more than to start up his own experiments. However, no one said his job would be easy.
Elias had just finished another report when he heard the door to the lab open. He looked up and saw Angela walking inside, geared up in her Valkyrie Swift Response Suit and Caduceus Staff in hand. She approached and stood in front of Elias.
“Doctor Mahler. How are things?” she asked.
Elias smiled. “Oh, just fine. Just filling out reports.”
Angela noticed the bored tone in Elias’s voice. “The paperwork part of Overwatch is rather dull, I know.”
“No kidding. Not like I can do much else.” Elias stated.
Angela looked at Elias in confusion. “What do you mean? I figured you would’ve had multiple experiments going.”
Elias shrugged. “It’s not that I don’t have time, but rather nothing has inspired me,” he answered.
Offering a comforting smile, Angela responded, “Something will come. I’m sure of it.”
Nodding in thanks, Elias turned his attention back to Angela. “I see the great ‘Mercy’ has graced me with her presence.”
Angela chuckled and said, “Jack has us going on an op in Italy. I’m obviously there to make sure everyone is safe.”
Elias nodded and shifted his gaze to the staff in Angela’s hands.
“Ah, the legendary Caduceus Staff. A true marvel of modern technology,” Elias praised as he gazed upon it.
Angela smiled. “This was my brainchild. It took weeks of research and dedication. If you put in the effort, you can achieve the same success.”
Angela’s comm pinged and she said, “That’s Jack, so I must get going.” She turned to leave and said, “Goodbye, Doctor Mahler.”
“To you as well, Doctor Ziegler. Good luck,” Elias responded. Angela nodded and turned to exit, leaving Elias alone in the lab.
Several hours passed and Elias still was filling out reports in his lab. The boredom of his task had taken its toll, and Elias was slumped over at his work station.
Finishing the last report, Elias rose and stretched his limbs. Not knowing what else to do, Elias walked into his office and pulled out his personal laptop. Once it was open and activated, he typed something into it and hit the enter button, bringing him to the live broadcast stream from Overwatch agent, Hana Song.
“Get rekt, noobs!” Hana shouted as her MEKA’s fusion cannons made short work of enemy soldiers. Through her stream, Elias could see who was all in the op; Hana, Lena, Jack, Angela, Fareeha, and Lúcio. All of the agents were protecting what appeared to be a group of scientists.
Also from Hana’s stream, Elias could see who they were up against. Their uniforms gave them away as Talon soldiers. While they were no match for Overwatch’s agents, it wasn’t the soldiers they had to worry about.
A deafening crack went off and a split second later Lúcio was on the ground, shouting in pain.
“Damn! Sniper shot my arm!” Lúcio shouted.
“Angela, Lúcio’s down! Get to him! Hana, give them cover!” Jack ordered.
“You got it, sir!” Hana answered. Her MEKA surged forward and stood above Lúcio, covering him from enemy fire. Angela suddenly flew in and knelt next to Lúcio.
“Now, where does it hurt?” Angela asked in a calm voice.
Lúcio looked at her in fake shock. “Where do you think, doc?! My arm’s almost been shot off!”
Elias focused on Hana’s camera and saw that Lúcio’s arm was only being held in place by bone and flaps of skin. Elias grimaced as the blood pooled around the wound.
“Patching you up,” Angela said as she activated her Caduceus Staff. A bright golden beam shot from the staff and enveloped around Lúcio’s wound. Within moments the beam stopped and Lúcio’s wound had been healed, the only evidence was a large scar from where the flesh ripped.
Elias’s jaw dropped. “Incredible,” he gasped. He saw Lúcio turn his arm and say, “Thanks, doc. I owe you one.”
“Always here to help,” Angela said as she slung up Lúcio’s arm. She turned in time to see Jack approach.
“Alright agents. Talon’s retreating. Let’s get the scientists out of here,” he ordered.
The agents nodded and hurried off to collect the scientists and huddle them into the dropship, but Elias could care less about them. He already had a clip recorded onto his laptop of Angela’s staff performing its duty.
“Simply ingenious,” Elias said to himself as he copied the clip to his datapad. He hurried into the lab and set up the datapad on his work station. He watched and re-watched the scene over and over, enamored by the Caduceus Staff’s capabilities.
Suddenly, an idea formulated in Elias’s mind. This scene, this demonstration of the Caduceus Staff in action, had inspired a vision.
“Athena!” Elias called out.
“Yes, Doctor Mahler?” the cool voice of the Watchpoint’s AI answered.
“Do you have access to Doctor Ziegler’s schematics on her Caduceus Staff?” Elias inquired.
“Why yes,” Athena replied. “I have full access to Overwatch’s servers and can pull any sort of data you’d like.”
Elias smiled and his eyes widened in joy. “Could you please pull them up for me?”
Silence followed and a few moments later Elias received a notification on his datapad.
“Done,” Athena said.
Elias excitedly opened the file and displayed them on a hologram. He swiped through the blueprints, schematics, and research of the staff, everything he needed to satisfy his vision.
“I must tell Doctor Ziegler what I’ve conceived. She’ll be proud to hear about this.”
The dropship entered the hanger bay of the Watchpoint and settled down on its landing gears. The side doors opened and all of the agents from the op in Italy stepped off, Jack exiting last.
“Successful op, team. We got the scientists out of there and made it through almost unscathed,” he said proudly.
Lúcio’s head whipped around. “Easy for you to say,” he remarked as he lifted his slung arm.
“I did say almost,” Jack pointed out. He walked passed, leaving the rest of the agents behind.
“Now remember, Lúcio, don’t put any unnecessary stress on your arm,” Angela reminded him.
Lúcio saluted with his good hand. “You got it, doc. Thanks.”
Angela smiled and made her way back to her office. She opened the door and walked onto a small platform on the far side of the room. Angela set her staff down and stood on the platform. Instantly, her Valkyrie suit separated and allowed Angela to walk out. The components reformed over a hardlight mannequin.
Angela changed back into her usual lab coat. She had reached her desk and was about to log Lúcio’s injury when Athena’s voice asked, “Doctor Ziegler?”
Looking up to the screen next to her door, Angela answered, “Yes, Athena?”
“Doctor Mahler has requested you down in his lab. He seemed extremely ecstatic,” Athena said.
Angela smiled. “Really? He must’ve had his first ‘stroke of genius’,” she remarked. “Tell him I’ll be right down.”
Athena’s screen went dark and Angela began making her way down to Elias’s lab. She passed by a few agents, greeting them as she walked by. She reached the elevator and descended down to the basement laboratory.
When the elevator doors opened Angela could hear noises coming from the lab. Angela knew those noises well; that of someone frantically running about the lab when a breakthrough was in their grasp. A small knot formed in Angela’s stomach when she recalled Moira making those sounds.
Angela finally entered the lab and found Elias bustling around one of the work tables. Several holograms were displayed before him and he didn’t register his company before he glanced up. He smiled upon seeing his visitor.
“Doctor Ziegler! Glad you came. I’m happy to see the op was a success,” he said excitedly.
Angela looked at Elias, confused. “How did you know? We just got back.”
Elias pointed at his office. “I was bored and tuned in to see Agent Song’s stream,” he replied.
“That girl. I swear,” Angela commented with an eye roll.
Elias chuckled and braced his hands on the table. “Yes, yes, she’s something else. However, Doctor Ziegler, I didn’t call you down here to talk about Agent Song’s streaming, but rather my vision.”
Angela nodded. “Go ahead.”
Elias smiled. “Well, when I was watching the op, I was fascinated by the cooperation between members and how each one contributed, but the true marvel of the show was when Lúcio was injured.”
“He might disagree,” Angela said.
Elias chuckled. “Anyway, the true spectacle was what I witnessed: the Caduceus Staff.”
Elias walked away from the table and said, “I had long heard stories of it, as well as seen it physically not too long ago. But to see it in action was incredible.”
“It is something to marvel,” Angela pointed out.
Nodding, Elias continued. “Yes. When I saw it, I was immediately mesmerized. Technology that can heal even the gravest of injuries. And after I saw it, I had the vision explode to the front of my mind. Imagine, this technology’s effects…reversed.”
Angela’s brow furrowed. “What?”
“Imagine, Doctor Ziegler, the exact same nanotechnology, but instead of repairing on a cellular level, the beam destroyed them. The tool of healing made into a weapon of untold power.”
Elias whipped around and showed one of the holograms to Angela, who gasped when she realized it was her Caduceus Staff research.
“I’ve looked over your research and schematics. The process would be easy. Only a few tweaks and adjustments and it would be perfect!” Elias exclaimed.
“Doctor Mahler,” Angela spoke. Elias didn’t hear her as he pulled up three other holograms.
“I already have three prototypes for the weapon system that would use this beam.”
“Doctor Mahler,” Angela said again, this time louder.
Elias still ignored. “If given enough time, I can have a working one within a month or-”
Elias jumped and looked over to Angela. He could see a fire in her eyes and her jaw was set to keep from shouting anymore. Angela collected herself and looked Elias in the eyes.
Elias’s brow furrowed. “W-What do you mean by ‘no’, Doctor Ziegler?” He chuckled, as though Angela’s statement was a joke.
“I meant ‘no’,” Angela said simply.
Elias smiled, still thinking she was jesting. “Doctor Ziegler, if I need to repeat what I said-”
“I’ve heard enough!” Angela exclaimed. “And I said no. I created my nanotechnology and Caduceus Staff to help people, not harm them.”
Elias’s smile fell. “Doctor Ziegler, this isn’t going to be used against civilians and that like, but rather a weapon system that can be used by agents on missions. It would be an effective way to defeat enemies in the field.”
“It doesn’t matter, Mahler. What you’re envisioning, using my healing technology as a basis for a weapon, goes against the very ethical and morals I follow,” Angela explained.
“Doctor Ziegler, those things only hinder scientists like us!” Elias exclaimed, his voice rising.
Angela felt the anger bubble inside of her. She had this conversation before, but with her.
“What was it that I told you about unauthorized experiments, Doctor Mahler?” Angela asked sternly.
Elias’s mouth opened and closed, trying to form words. “But, I-” He stopped and said, “Please, I can-” Finally, he stood straight and said, “Y-You’re right, Doctor Ziegler. I guess seeing what your Staff was capable of went to my head.”
Angela took a few breaths before she replied. “You’re a brilliant scientist, Mahler. You shouldn’t let something like this consume you.”
Elias nodded. “You’re right.” He turned to his three prototype holograms and said, “I guess these won’t be needed.” He tapped on them, and Angela saw them deleted. Elias then closed out the Staff research and schematics.
When Elias looked back to Angela she was smiling. “I’m glad you saw things my way, Mahler.”
Elias nodded. “Thank you, Doctor Ziegler.”
Angela bowed her head to acknowledge the thank you and said, “Well, I’m certainly glad we didn’t go after each other’s throats.” Unlike the last conversation.
Suddenly, Angela’s comm buzzed and she answered it. “Yes.” There was a short pause and she added, “We’ll be right there.” She looked back to Mahler and said, “Lena and the others are gathering upstairs for celebratory drinks. Care to join?”
Elias smiled and said, “Sure. A break and distraction are just what I need.”
Angela smiled and walked out of the lab, followed closely by Elias. She entered the elevator and Elias stepped on behind her.
Weeks had passed since the confrontation between Elias and Angela in the lab. Staying true to his word, he hadn’t touched Angela’s research nor had he brought up the subject when around her. To Angela, the whole situation had blown over.
But not to Elias. The prospect of the new beam he envisioned had been engraved into his mind, never leaving him. It especially came full force when he was working with projects provided by the other agents.
Elias was sitting at the small table in the Watchpoint’s breakroom. Holding a cup of coffee in his hands after another long day in the lab, Elias was looking over the results of McCree’s upgraded flashbangs and the recent diagnostics on Lena’s chronal accelerator. Both were menial compared to his vision.
The door to the breakroom opened and Fareeha Amari walked in. She gave the doctor a small smile and said, “Hey there, Doc.”
Elias gave the woman a curt nod. “Good afternoon, Agent Amari.”
“Sitting here all alone?” Fareeha asked him. “That won’t do. I’ll keep you company.”
“That will not be necessary,” Elias said, his eyes not leaving his datapad.
Fareeha waved her hand. “I insist. Besides, maybe I can get to know you a little better.”
Elias looked up from his datapad and sharply replied, “If you expect me to spit out my life story to you this is not a good time.”
Fareeha’s eyes widened at Elias’s outburst. “Hey, no need to tear me to shreds!” she said loudly.
Elias sighed. “I apologize. I’ve been incredibly stressed and distracted for quite some time.”
Fareeha sat down opposite of Elias and asked, “What happened exactly?”
Putting down his datapad, Elias answered, “Well, I had a vision for a project.”
“That sounds great,” Fareeha said. “How is that causing you trouble?”
“I’ve scraped the idea, but the thought of it won’t leave me,” Elias answered.
Fareeha looked at Elias in confusion and asked, “What was it? Why did you abandon it, even though it’s very important?”
Elias sighed once more. “I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say I was…’ discouraged’.”
“Hit an obstacle you can’t get through?” Fareeha asked.
Yes. Angela and her ethical science. “Something like that,” Elias answered.
Fareeha nodded in understanding. “I know what that’s like. You have a goal and it seems everything is thrown against you in your attempts to achieve it.”
“Hmm. Sounds like you’re talking from experience,” Elias said.
Fareeha sighed. “Years ago, when I was growing up, I aspired to join Overwatch. I saw all of the good that my mother, Jack, Angela, and the others had done, and I wished to be a part of it. However, I had one unexpected obstacle: my mother.”
“Really?” Elias asked.
Nodding, Fareeha continued. “My mother’s refusal of me to join Overwatch strained our relationship, and so years later, I joined the Egyptian Army. My loyalty and courage almost guaranteed me a place in Overwatch. Unfortunately, they disbanded before I could join all those years ago.”
“What’s your point with all of this?” Elias asked.
Leaning forward, Fareeha said, “I may be with Overwatch now, but I’ll never forget the hurdles I had to go through to get here.” She pointed at Elias and said, “You shouldn’t let your discouragement stop you. I’d say if your goal is worth it in the end, then it’s worth going for.”
Elias’s gaze looked away and then back to Fareeha. “Encouraging words. I’ll think about it.”
“Well, it’s been nice chatting, but I’ve got to get back to training,” Fareeha said. “Thanks for the conversation,” she added as she headed towards the door. Just as the Egyptian woman exited the room, Elias’s mouth formed into a self-satisfied grin.
“No, Agent Amari. Thank you.”
Chapter 4: Betrayal
Several hours passed and night fell at the Watchpoint. The halls were silent, with the only noises coming from the building’s ventilation system. Everyone was in their respective quarters, exhausted from earlier missions or just their general workloads.
The door to one of the quarters opened and Elias peeked his head out. When he saw nobody around, he quietly made his way from his room to the main elevator. Once he reached it he walked in and hit the button for his laboratory.
As the elevator descended Elias kept still, a steely, determined glare in his eyes. The elevator opened and he briskly walked out and within moments arrived in his lab.
The lab’s lights flicked on and Elias approached one of the tables. He opened his datapad and typed a few commands into it. A minute later, the three prototype designs Elias had “deleted” after his and Angela’s confrontation appeared before him. Elias studied each one before choosing the second one and enlarging the image.
“Athena?” Elias called out.
“Yes, Doctor Mahler?” the AI asked.
“Could you please pull up Doctor Ziegler’s Caduceus Staff resources?” Elias requested.
There was a pause and Athena replied, “I am sorry, Doctor Mahler, but I cannot do that.”
Elias straightened himself and asked, “Oh? And why is that?”
“I overheard you and Doctor Ziegler’s conversation. She made it explicitly clear she did not want you looking at her work,” Athena replied.
Elias smirked. “Oh, that?” He chuckled and said, “Doctor Ziegler was simply overreacting. I gave her time to think about it and I was able to talk with her earlier today. She agreed with my points and has allowed me full access to her research.”
“I’d best ask Doctor Ziegler, just in case,” Athena replied.
Elias’s eyes widened. “Athena, I cannot delay this even for a few minutes. Doctor Ziegler is most likely asleep. Please, just pull up her resources.”
There was another pause. Elias was beginning to think that Athena had indeed gone to tell Angela when her voice chimed in. “Well, if Doctor Ziegler allows it, who am I to deny you?”
“Thank you, Athena,” Elias said as the holograms of Angela’s research and the Staff schematics appeared before him. “That will be all, Athena. However, don’t let Doctor Ziegler know about this. I want to surprise her with it.”
“Of course, Doctor Mahler,” Athena answered.
Elias let his smile drop and he looked to Angela’s research. He expanded the images to better see them.
“She’ll understand. I only need to complete it. Only then will she understand.”
The sun of the early morning shined through the windows of the Watchpoint. Most of the agents were now starting to rise and prep for their day.
In the Watchpoint’s large break room, Lena and fellow agent Brigitte Lindholm were seated across from each other, eating their breakfast and trading stories and jokes between them.
“I’m tellin’ ya, Hana’s been lookin’ at you an awful lot,” Lena said with a smile.
Brigitte shook her head, a blush beginning to creep up her face. “No way. I think she only sees me as a friend and fellow agent, nothing more.”
Lena sighed and cocked an eyebrow. “Brig, look who you’re talkin’ to. I’m a self-proclaimed expert in this kind of thing.”
Brigitte was about to make a snide remark about Lena’s statement when the door opened. The two girls looked and saw who walked in: Doctor Elias Mahler.
Elias practically stumbled across the room right towards the coffee pot, ignoring the two girls seated nearby. He grabbed a paper cup and lifted the pot from the machine. He poured some into his cup and immediately began drinking from it. Both Lena and Brigitte grimaced at him drinking coffee straight black. He finished that cup and reached to pour another.
“Hiya, Doc!” Lena exclaimed.
Elias, not expecting anyone inside the break room, shouted and nearly dropped the coffee pot. He looked to his right and saw Lena and Brigitte sitting at one of the tables. He collected himself and allowed his heart to return to a normal pace before speaking.
“Ah, Agent Oxton, Agent Lindholm. Good morning,” he said a little breathless.
Lena gave him a nervous smile. “Sorry ‘bout that, Doc.”
Elias waved his hand. “It’s alright, Agent Oxton. I just didn’t see you.”
Smiling, Lena said, “No need to be so formal. Just call me Lena.”
“Okay then, Lena,” Elias responded. As he poured another cup, Brigitte noticed the dark circles under his eyes.
“Have you been up for a while, Doctor Mahler?” she asked.
Elias lowered his cup and answered, “Yes. I’ve been up since about one o’clock.”
Brigitte’s mouth gaped. “Surely that isn’t healthy.”
“Maybe. But what I’m working on requires all of my attention,” Elias explained. He lifted his cup to take another drink.
Lena was visibly excited. “Ooh. What is it you’re workin’ on?”
Elias stopped and pulled the cup away from his mouth. “Sorry, Lena, but that information cannot be shared at the moment.”
Lena sighed in disappointment and Elias returned to his cup of coffee. The door opened once more and Brigitte greeted who walked in.
“Good morning, Doctor Ziegler.”
Elias nearly choked on his coffee as he saw Angela walk inside and make her way to the coffee pot. “To you as well Brigitte, Lena.” She looked up and said, “And good morning to you, Doctor Mahler.”
Nodding to Angela, Elias responded, “Good morning, Doctor Ziegler.” Angela reached for the pot and noticed the darkened circles beneath Elias’s eyes.
“Doctor Mahler, did you sleep any last night?” Angela asked.
Elias took another sip of his coffee and answered, “Something important came up last night and I had to see it finished.”
“Oh? And what was it?” Angela asked as she added sugar to her coffee.
Elias’s eyes twitched slightly. “Oh, you know, the usual. Just more reports to fill out for the higher-ups.”
Angela nodded as she turned to grab something from the cupboard. From the table, Lena said, “Reports? I thought you said-”
It was lucky that Angela was looking away because Elias fixed Lena with a steely glare and swiped his hand several times across his throat. Thankfully, Lena caught on and silenced herself.
“What were you saying, Lena?” Angela asked as she turned back around.
“Uh, oh, nothin’. I just started talkin’ without thinkin’,” Lena said. Elias’s gaze softened and he nodded slightly.
“Well, chatting is nice and all, but I must be getting back to the lab. Good day everyone,” Elias said as he quickly made his way out.
“He seems obsessively dedicated to his work,” Brigitte pointed out.
Lena chuckled. “Yeah. Hardly sleeps, obsesses over his work. He’s like O’Deorain.”
Angela stilled when she was mentioned. She collected herself and said, “Let’s hope not.”
Lena caught on immediately. “Oh. I-I’m sorry, Ang.”
Angela shook her head. “It’s alright, Lena.” She grabbed her coffee and said, “I must get back to work as well. Goodbye.” With that, she left the breakroom, the familiar tug at her heart returning.
Weeks passed and Elias’s progress had reached a critical point. The test runs he conducted would reveal problems, and when he’d fix one issue, another would pop up.
“I’m so close,” he said to himself as he walked into the testing chamber. It was another late night and thus another night of calibrating, testing, and then recalibrating. His selected prototype shot the beam from a small, handheld device. He grabbed his project and walked back into the lab. He set it down on the table and scrutinized it under his gaze.
“I’m missing something,” he whispered to himself. “But what?” He opened the device up and checked that everything was matching to his schematics and comparing with Angela’s research.
“Perhaps if I reverse the polarity of the projector channels…” Elias said trailing off. He delicately unhooked and reattached wires in the device’s core. Finally, he closed the covers and carried it back to the testing chamber. He secured the device to the table and fastened the mechanism on the trigger.
Walking out and sealing the testing chamber Elias stood in front of the large viewing window. He looked from the device to the piece of metal acting as its target.
“Mahlerstrahl, Test Number Seventeen. Activate power,” Elias said unenthused. He flipped a switch, powering up the weapon’s energy cells. “Firing in three… two… one…”
Elias didn’t look up as he heard the whine of the beam powering up. However, this time when the whine stopped, what came next was an indescribable noise followed by a bright red flash.
Elias’s head snapped up and looked into the testing chamber. He ran to the door and walked inside. The device’s barrel was smoking slightly and when Elias looked at the piece of metal, he saw a large hole in the sheet surrounded by burn marks.
“YES!” Elias exclaimed as he ran back into the main lab. His work and weeks of failed tests had finally paid off; his beam had worked! He reached for his datapad and said as he typed, “Test Number Seventeen was positive. Mahlerstrahl successfully produced a direct-energy beam and hit its designated target.”
Behind the celebrating doctor, the door opened. Brigitte walked in and stood in the open doorway to the lab. “Doctor Mahler?”
Elias turned around and saw Brigitte standing at the entrance to his lab. He collected himself and said, “Agent Lindholm? What are you doing here?”
“Well, I figured you were probably working late again, so I brought you some coffee,” Brigitte explained as she held out a steaming cup.
Elias nodded thanks and grabbed the cup. Not caring that it was hot, he lifted it to his lips and began downing the coffee.
Brigitte’s eyes wandered to the beam behind Elias. “Is that your project?”
Elias glanced back and said, “Yes. And I’m still incredibly busy, so I can’t socialize.”
Brigitte looked to her side. Her gaze scanned over the various holograms next to Elias’s workstation.
“What are these?” Brigitte asked.
“I’m sorry, Agent Lindholm, but I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Elias said.
Brigitte squinted and reached out to the hologram. “Aren’t these Doctor Zieg-”
Elias grabbed Brigitte’s hand and said, “It doesn’t concern you, Lindholm.” He let go of her hand and seethed, “Leave. Now.”
Brigitte’s eyes widened. She slowly backed away from Elias and headed out the door.
Elias followed Brigitte as she left the lab. When the door closed, he returned to the testing chamber and said, “And now, the last ultimate test.” His eyes slowly shifted to the right until he saw the sign next to another storage room: Lab Animals.
Angela found herself once more working well into the night. Never thinking about herself when she, the Swiss woman was always determined to get her work done. Usually, by the time she finished, it was well after midnight.
Closing the door to her lab, Angela walked through the darkened and quiet halls of the Watchpoint. She rounded a corner to head back to her quarters when she saw Brigitte walking towards her from the opposite hall.
“Good evening, Brigitte. Why are you up and about so late?” Angela asked.
Brigitte answered, “Well, I couldn’t sleep and came to get some coffee and that’s when I remembered Doctor Mahler has been working late on his project. So, I decided to bring him some.”
“I’ll bet he appreciated that,” Angela responded.
“Oh, he did. But when I asked him about his project, he got defensive and kicked me out,” Brigitte said.
Angela’s brow furrowed. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow. He shouldn’t have been rude, you were only curious.”
Brigitte shrugged. “Yeah, but at the same time, his project looks as though it needs all of his attention. His beam looks important.”
Angela’s eyes widened. “His what?”
Brigitte didn’t notice Angela’s change in attitude. “Yeah. I entered the lab and found him testing some beam in the lab’s testing chamber. I also looked at the table and saw several holograms of blueprints and research that had your name on them and-”
Brigitte stopped when she saw the pained look on Angela’s face. “Doctor Ziegler? Are you okay?”
Angela looked away. “He’s using my research,” she whispered, as though talking to herself. “Just like Moira.” She looked to Brigitte and said, “Please inform Commander Morrison to bring a security team down to the basement laboratory.”
Brigitte nodded. “What’s going on, Angela?”
Angela steeled herself and walked towards the elevator. “Please, do as I ask, Brigitte. I’ll see to Mahler.” She entered the elevator and pushed the button for the basement laboratory.
Angela felt her chest ache. She had made this fateful trip before. Already, she could hear the argument playing in her head.
“How could you, Moira?!”
“Angela, calm down.”
“Calm down?! You’re using my research for your twisted experiments!”
“I trusted you!”
Angela was shaken from her thoughts as the elevator dinged and the door opened. She slowly walked out and towards the lab. The door was closed, but Angela could hear talking from the other side. She reached the door and opened it.
Angela found Elias walking into the testing chamber with a struggling brown rabbit. Her gaze shifted and she quietly gasped as she saw the monstrosity that Elias created.
“Don’t worry, little one,” Angela heard Elias say to the rabbit. “Your sacrifice is for the betterment of science and mankind,” Elias said. He placed the rabbit on the table and strapped it down. Elias walked out and closed the door to the chamber. He stood in front of the window and placed his goggles over his eyes.
“Godspeed, my friend!” Elias yelled. Angela watched as he busied himself at the controls. He pushed a button on his datapad and said, “Mahlerstrahl, Test Number Eighteen. Activate power. Firing in three… two… one…”
Angela saw a red glow build up at the front of the device and a split second later a red beam flashed from the muzzle. Angela looked to where the rabbit was but gasped lightly when she found no rabbit, but a pile of what seemed like dust. Angela could’ve fainted; her research was used to create a sadistic, perverted weapon.
“Yes!” Elias exclaimed. “Test Number Eighteen was positive. The nanobots in the Mahlerstrahl disintegrated the subject as expected.” He began to type his observations into his datapad, and it was at this point Angela had had enough.
Elias froze; his datapad slipped from his grasp and it shattered on the floor. Slowly, he turned around; his face went pale when his eyes met Angela standing in the lab.
“D-Doctor Ziegler?” he stammered. “W-What are you doing here?”
Angela, fearing she might shout outright, breathed deeply and said, “I passed by Brigitte upstairs and she mentioned to me how rude you were to her when she asked about your little project. Then, she let slip on what your project was, as well as what you’re using with it.”
Elias was cornered and he knew it. There was no escape, no way to talk his way out of it. He looked Angela in the eye and said, “Yes. It’s true.”
“How could you?” Angela asked in disbelief.
Elias held out his hands defensively and said, “Now, Doctor Ziegler, calm down.”
That statement, the same one Moira used, broke Angela. “No! I will not ‘calm down’! I clearly stated that my research was off-limits for anything horrendous such as weapons development! I saw such promise in you, Mahler. But it turns out you are just like her!”
Elias looked at Angela confused and asked, “Who’s ‘her’?”
“Moira!” Angela exclaimed, not caring she was using her first name. “She did the same to me! She used my research for her cruel tests! I trusted her, much like how I trusted you! And now, you broke it just like she did!”
“Doctor Ziegler, please let me explain!” Elias pleaded. “I am not doing this for personal gain or recognition, but to find a more effective solution to defeating our enemies! We cannot simply survive by healing more of those who are wounded, but by destroying all who would do the world harm! This beam is a game-changer!”
“That beam you made was ethically and morally wrong to create!” Angela yelled.
“Morals? Ethics? That’s your concern?” Elias asked in a calmer voice. “Those two things are going to be the death of us. Can you think of what we could be capable of if we didn’t have such trivial things like that holding us back? Or if scientists had no handicaps? Cures for diseases, permanent treatment for mentally ill, genetic altering. The possibilities are limitless, Doctor Ziegler. What I have done merely scratches the surface.”
Angela couldn’t believe what she was hearing. It almost brought tears to her eyes. “I swore when I became a doctor I would do all in my power to save lives. What you claim as trivial is the lifeblood of science. It prevents people from doing as they wish and playing God.”
Elias walked around one of the work stations and coyly replied, “Playing God? Says the one who brings soldiers back from the dead on a seemingly daily basis.”
He must’ve touched a nerve because Angela threw a beaker at him. “Don’t you dare compare what I do to what you’re doing!”
“You only are angry because you know I’m right!” Elias shouted.
Angela collected herself a little and said, “I seem to also remember saying how any unauthorized experiments would result in consequences.”
Almost on cue the lab door opened and a team of six security guards surrounded Elias. Jack walked in and stood behind Angela.
“Doctor Mahler, stand down!” Jack commanded
Elias looked around the room. “You called security on me?”
Angela stood firm. “I won’t let your work tear this organization down.”
“Stand down!” one of the guards yelled.
Elias shook with anger. “You goddamned-” he stepped forward but the rest of his sentence died when one of the guards stunned him. Elias slumped forward and hit the ground, unconscious.
“Secure him,” Jack said. One of the guards nodded and directed the others to bind Elias’s arms and legs. They then proceeded to haul him out of the lab.
Jack looked on as they dragged Elias out. He looked back to Angela and was barely able to say her name when she broke down and began to sob.
Donovan walked down the winding halls of the basement section of the Oasis Science Building, followed closely by a squad of Talon soldiers. Finally, they reached a closed door at the end of one hall.
Walking forward and standing before the door, Donovan knocked three times. “O’Deorain? It’s Donovan. I’ve come to take a look at your results.”
That was a lie. The results O’Deorain promised were a month overdue, and so Donovan made his way to Oasis to “chat” with her…with the presence of armed soldiers.
“No answer,” Donovan said calmly. He motioned his hand and one of the soldiers stepped forward and overrode the door’s lock. The door opened and the soldiers entered, fanning out across the lab. Donovan walked in slowly after them.
“O’Deorain?!” Donovan called out. He looked around and saw the soldiers had finished their sweep.
“Well?” he asked.
“No sign of her, sir,” the soldier reported. Another soldier who was searching through the computer said, “Almost all of her files are gone too. Personal and Talon.”
Donovan shouted in frustration and kicked a stool over in anger. Suddenly, the video screen turned on, revealing Doctor O’Deorain in a prerecorded message.
“Donovan. By the time you view this message, I will have disappeared from your sight. You won’t be able to find me.”
Donovan walked closer as Moira continued to talk. “Even though you and Talon gave me everything, there are some things you could never provide. Your grand plans also went beyond what I wish for in this world. And so, after much deliberation, I decided to leave. Don’t bother looking for anything, as any file that I thought you could find remotely useful I either took with me or destroyed. So now, you have nothing. Consider this my retirement announcement, you son of a bit-”
The remainder of the message was cut off when Donovan smashed his hand into the screen, shattering it and making it go black.
“Come on. We’re leaving!” Donovan spat. He and the soldiers walked out of the lab and back to the elevator. He turned to one of them and said, “Get the word out. The Inner Council must be informed of this transgression.”
Chapter 5: Brought to Ruin
Elias stared blankly at the wall in front of him as he sat alone inside a small cell. His breathing was steady and his composure was calm; all of it a front for hiding the anger that boiled within him.
The sound of a door opening roused Elias and he looked up to see two MPs standing in the open doorway. Without speaking, Elias rose and stood before the MP as he placed handcuffs on Elias’s hands. He turned and walked between the two men as they escorted him away from his cell and into an adjoining hall. They walked for a few moments before stopping in front of a large set of doors.
The doors opened and Elias walked through them, entering a large courtroom. Like some high-profile criminal, he made his way forward. All around him, the seats were filled with hundreds of people who gathered to watch the ordeal unfold. Elias reached a table with a microphone and a single chair at the end of the aisle. He stopped next to the chair and waited. After a few moments, he turned to let one of the guards remove his handcuffs.
Elias looked passed the guard and he saw several members of Overwatch sitting in the front row behind where his table was. All of them; Jack, Ana, Angela, and a few of the other agents were stone-faced. Elias returned the gesture.
“Doctor Elias Mahler?”
Elias turned to see a panel of seven men and women sitting in front and above him, scrutinizing the doctor under their gazes. Above their heads was the map of the world surrounded by two olive branches: the symbol of the U.N.
“If you would please take a seat, Doctor Mahler,” one of the judges said.
Elias nodded curtly and sat down alone at the table. He placed his hands in front of himself and linked his fingers together.
“Let us begin,” the head judge said. He raised a document in his hand and read, “Doctor Elias Mahler, you have been accused by Overwatch of conducting experiments that were deemed illegal by the standards of the organization. As part of the agreement when allowing them to reform, Overwatch is required to report any illegal activity directly to the United Nations so that a panel of judges may decide the appropriate course of action for the accused’s acts.”
The head judge put down the document and asked, “You have been with Overwatch how long?”
“Nearly five months,” Elias answered.
“And while you were with Overwatch, you were warned about unauthorized and or illegal experiments?” asked another judge.
“Yes,” Elias hissed.
“And you admit that you did conduct such experiments which have brought you here before us today?”
“Yes,” Elias answered. “And I would do it again,” he added. He looked up to the judges, who all looked at him with the same scrutinizing look.
“Well then, by the sound of it, you have no remorse for your actions,” the head judge said. “You seem to show no regards for the ethical boundaries that-”
“Oh, shut your mouth,” Elias said.
The head judge stopped and looked down again at Elias. “I beg your pardon?”
Elias glared upon the judges. “I do not apologize for my actions. How many scientists have been blacklisted because their experiments or hypotheses didn’t follow ethical standards? I see something that people like you refuse to acknowledge: for humanity to survive for generations to come, we must push passed the boundaries we set up for no reason other than fear of the unknown. After all, as the old quote goes, ‘You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs’.”
Elias continued. “So yes, I created the Mahlerstrahl. It would have been revolutionary; a weapon that carries the power to change modern combat.”
Elias shifted his gaze until it fell on Angela. “However, thanks to the ‘moral and virtuous compass’ of Doctor Angela Ziegler, who believes war is about saving lives rather than ending them, I find myself here, sitting before you, and telling you how we will destroy ourselves in the coming years unless we destroy those who would undermine our civilization.”
Before he could continue, the head judge raised his hand. “Enough. We have heard enough. You desecrate the name of science with your views and actions, and you shall be duly punished.”
The head judge stood up from his chair and said, “Doctor Elias Mahler, we hereby authorize your termination from Overwatch. Furthermore, seeing as how you’ve used it for more harm than good, we also inform you that we are revoking your doctorate.”
“WHAT?!” Elias shouted he slammed his hands to the table and stood tall. “Revoking of my doctorate?! Do you know how much I’ve sacrificed for it?! You have no right!”
The head judge, unaffected by Elias’s outburst, replied, “Actually, we do. The University of Cambridge agreed that your actions do not lie with the standards set by their school, and they decided revocation of your doctorate was appropriate.”
“You son of a bitch!” Elias shouted. He heaved the table out of the way and would’ve rushed the judges had the two MPs not grabbed him. They began dragging him back to the door, but Elias wasn’t finished.
“You spineless bastards! Your resistance will be the downfall of mankind! You will hesitate and stand idly by until disaster catches you! You will run like the cowards you are while the dogs snap at your heels!”
“Get him out of here!” the head judge bellowed over Elias’s shouts.
Elias gazed over to Angela and his anger flared even more. “And you! You are just as guilty as them, Ziegler! You may have ruined my life today, but I swear this is not the last you’ve seen of me! I’ll have-”
The door slamming shut silenced Elias’s tirade. The people sitting in the room let out a collective sigh of relief that he was gone. Angela’s face remained the same; no trace of emotion.
“Thank God that’s over,” the head judge said. “The hearing is over. The room is to be adjourned.” The strike of the gavel caused a shift in the atmosphere. Everyone began shuffling around and talking to one another.
“Angela, let’s go,” Jack said. Angela nodded and rose from her seat. She and the others made their way to the exit. Her face, still unchanged, betrayed her true emotions, as on the inside she was heartbroken over this second betrayal against her and Overwatch. It seemed, to her, nobody could be trusted.
High above the main seating area, in the gallery, sat several different observers to the whole hearing. One of them was a bald man wearing an all-black suit. While everyone else saw Mahler as crazy, the bald man found himself intrigued. Nonetheless, he left with everyone else.
It was late in the evening and Angela was sitting in her office, working to distract herself from the dramatic afternoon she sat through. She asked Athena to lock her office and to only disturb her if someone was at her door.
Sometimes as Angela worked her mind would wander and Elias’s angered expression, as well as his threat, would be thrown full force into her conscious, causing her to jump and take deep breaths to calm herself.
As Angela worked the screen next to her door turned on. “Doctor Ziegler?” Athena asked.
Angela paused long enough to rub her eyes. “Yes, Athena?”
“There is someone who wants to speak with you,” Athena said.
Angela sighed and looked around at the work on her desk. “Tell them I’m unavailable.”
There was a short pause before Athena replied, “She won’t leave without seeing you, Doctor Ziegler.”
Shaking her head, Angela answered, “Fine. Let them in. I’ll tell them to leave myself.”
Athena’s screen turned off and the door hissed as it opened. Angela didn’t look up as the person walked in.
Angela closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose and said to her visitor, “Whatever it is can wait until tomorrow.” She opened her eyes and added, “I’m incredibly-”
The rest of Angela’s statement died in her throat when she saw who was standing at the door. Standing in the doorway wearing an overcoat over her typical all-black clothes and purple tie, red hair slicked back and mismatched colored eyes was Moira O’Deorain.
“-busy,” Angela gasped. Both women stared at each other for what seemed to be forever, neither one of them speaking.
“Hi, Angela,” Moira said. Angela nearly shook at the sound of hearing Moira’s voice again. However, she remained unmoving and silent.
“Angela, please, talk to me,” Moira pleaded.
Talk? That’s what she wanted to do? After what she did? Angela clenched her fists as her emotions flared.
“There is nothing to talk about, Moira,” Angela hissed. “I thought you made it clear what was important to you.” She walked around her desk and added, “I’m contacting a security team and you’re going to-”
Whatever else Angela was going to say she stopped when she saw Moira surged forward and wrapped her arms around her. Angela’s eyes widened as Moira held her tight, but she was even more surprised when she caught a few sobs come from the redhead.
“I am so sorry, Angela,” Moira gasped as tears flowed down her cheeks. “I betrayed you. Using your research for myself, taking advantage of your love and trust; all of it has haunted me for all those years.” Moira pulled away from Angela, both women’s eyes were welled with tears.
“Think of me what you will. Do what you want with me. Just know that my words are true,” Moira said.
Angela looked into Moira’s eyes as if to see truly if her words were genuine. After a few moments, Moira was about to speak again but Angela slapped her once across the face. But that action didn’t convey her feelings as the blonde wrapped her arms around Moira and cried into her shoulder.
“You shattered my heart that day, Moira,” Angela said as she pulled away. “I thought you had finally placed science and breakthroughs before me. I always loved you, but it seemed you loved your work far more. Then when I heard the rumors of you and Talon, I thought you had finally slipped away.”
Moira shook her head. “It took me quite some time to realize how wrong I was, m’aingeal.”
Angela looked into Moira’s eyes, as though to see if they would show the truth. Angela gave Moira a small smile and hugged her again, the redhead returning the embrace.
It felt good to be in Moira’s arms again. Angela felt as if part of herself that had been lost had returned. She didn’t know what to make of this situation, and she was still wary of Moira considering what she had done. Tomorrow they would need to talk more, but right now, nothing could ruin this moment.
Various men and women sat at a long table inside a darkened room. The only source of light was the large holoscreen that sat at the end of the room.
The table’s occupants talked amongst themselves before the screen flashed and a man appeared on it. His facial expression showed anger and annoyance.
“My friends,” Donovan stated to the group, “thank you for meeting on such short notice. I have gathered you here to discuss the state of our organization.”
Donovan’s eyes scanned across the room and he said, “If you haven’t noticed already, we are one person short.” The men and women looked and saw indeed that one chair was empty.
Donovan smiled, but it wasn’t a happy one. “Yes, and I think each one of you knew who occupied that chair.” His face twisted into a frown and he said, “As you can see, Doctor Moira O’Deorain is no longer with us. However, she didn’t die nor was she imprisoned. What she did was worse: she betrayed us.”
“Maybe you should have been a little nicer, Donovan,” a raspy voice said from the middle of the table.
Donovan’s brow furrowed more. “Hold your tongue, Reaper.” At his seat, Reaper merely waved his hand in dismissal.
Another man seated at the table raised his hand to cease any other words between the two. “Now, now, let’s not be at each other’s throats when there are more pressing matters to discuss,” said Akande Ogundimu in his deep voice.
Donovan nodded. “Agreed, Akande.” He looked out to the other members of the Inner Council and said, “Our organization has been placed in a rather tricky situation. O’Deorain was the key to developing the technology we need for our plans. And with her gone, we’ve hit quite the roadblock.”
“So, what do you suggest?” a woman next to Reaper asked.
“Our solution is relatively simple: we find a replacement,” Donovan said.
A chuckle drew the attention of everyone in the room. Reaper collected himself and said, “Right, Donovan. Unfortunately, there isn’t anyone in this organization that is up to par with O’Deorain.”
Donovan sighed. “Which is why we need to expand and look further. We need someone with a mind that can match, or even beat, O’Deorain’s. We need someone who can use their abilities to further our goals. They must have no sense of empathy, and of course, they must be unknown.”
Donovan looked out to the seated individuals. “So, does anybody have someone in mind?”
He was met with silence for a few moments, and Donovan was about to speak again when someone spoke up.
“Pardon me, sir. But I think I know of someone.”
Donovan smiled slightly. “Oh? Who exactly do you suggest, Torres?”
The man, Torres, sat up and revealed himself in the light of the screen: a bald man wearing an all-black suit.
“Trust me, sir. He’s everything you’re looking for,” he said with a wicked grin.
Chapter 6: The Proposition
“Well, I wasn’t expecting this.”
Jack, Ana, and Winston were awoken early in the morning by an urgent message from Angela, saying how something important had come up and they needed to meet her in one of the conference rooms. All three rushed to the room, unsure of what was going on.
However, all three of them were shocked by what they found on the other side of the door.
“Hello, Jack,” Moira said as Jack placed his hand on his sidearm. Ana and Winston were simply shocked.
Angela stood by Moira. “Jack, please. Calm down,” she pleaded.
Jack didn’t move a muscle as he kept his hand on his pistol. “Why?” he asked. “You know what she’s done, Angela. She betrayed all of us. She betrayed you.”
Angela nodded. “Yes. I am well aware of that. But she returned because she realized her mistakes. She’s here to makes amends.”
“How in the Hell could she possibly do that?” Jack asked as his hand moved to wrap around the pistol’s grip.
Moira sighed and slowly reached into her pocket. She produced a USB drive and placed it on the table, sliding it down next to the three. Winston grabbed it and looked back to Moira.
“All of my research, all of the projects. Anything useful to Talon is on that drive,” Moira said.
Winston clicked a button embedded in the table and a holoscreen appeared. He plugged the drive into a socket and instantly several files popped up. He opened each of them and studied the contents.
“Incredible!” Winston gasped. “Jack, Ana, everything we could need to defeat Talon in the field is right in here.”
Ana nodded. “That’s fantastic.” She looked to Jack and said, “Come on now, Soldier. Stand down.”
Jack glanced at Ana briefly before looking back to Moira. He hesitated for a little longer, but let go of his pistol. Moira visibly relaxed.
“Can you help us look through this?” Jack asked.
Moira nodded. “Of course.” She looked back to Angela, who was smiling at how the encounter went. She joined Moira and the others to look through the files.
“His record file is impressive.”
“His accomplishments, even more.”
The Talon Inner Council were sat once more in their dark meeting room. This time Donovan himself made an appearance and the holoscreen was showing them a file that gave them details on their person of interest: Doctor Elias Mahler.
Akande nodded in agreement. “Everything we have found thus far is all quite admirable.”
“How can this guy be trusted, anyway?” Reaper’s raspy voice asked.
Torres walked to the front of the room and pressed a button on a clicker. Suddenly, a video played to the whole room of Mahler’s outburst at the U.N. hearing. He stopped the video after the doors in it closed.
“As you can see, Doctor Mahler can be trusted because of his removal from Overwatch and the revocation of his doctorate. This means that no one will take a person with such a smeared reputation,” Torres explained.
“And with nowhere else to go…” Akande said.
“…he will come right to us,” Donovan finished.
“And that will solve our problem,” Torres said.
There was general agreement among the members. Donovan nodded and said, “Then it’s settled. Torres, find Mahler and bring him to our side. Use whatever methods necessary.”
Torres bowed slightly and replied, “I’ll see to it that it is done, sir. I’ll just need Sombra’s help to track him down.” With that, Torres walked out of the room.
“Sir, what if this Mahler proves to be too much trouble?” Reaper asked.
Donovan looked away and answered, “We’ll worry about that when the time arises. However, just know I won’t hesitate to have you take care of him.”
Donovan looked out to the table and said, “We are adjourned. You shall be contacted for when we next convene.”
The table’s occupants rose from their seats and exited the room. Donovan turned and looked once more to Mahler’s file on the screen.
“Don’t worry, Akande. Our inconveniences will soon be over,” he said over his shoulder.
“They had better be,” Akande responded. “O’Deorain was extremely promising.”
Donovan nodded. “She was. But I feel this one will know his place.” He turned off the screen with Mahler’s file and left the room, followed by Akande.
Nearly three weeks had passed since Moira’s return and to Angela, everything seemed to be alright. Everyone else was a little weary of Moira’s presence; they all knew what she had done. She and Angela knew it would take some time before Moira would be truly welcomed.
Moira and Angela were sitting in the break room, nursing cups of coffee in their hands to start up their morning. Both weren’t talking but instead looking over some notes on their datapads.
The door opened and Brigitte walked in. Angela glanced up and greeted her.
“Guten morgen, Brigitte,” she said.
“Morning, Angela,” Brigitte replied with a yawn. She reached the coffee pot and poured herself a cup before she turned around. Her eyes widened when she saw Moira sitting next to Angela.
“Oh! Doctor O’Deorain! I didn’t notice you,” Brigitte said in surprise.
Moira merely smiled and said, “That’s quite alright, Brigitte. I have a knack of being so quiet no one knows I’m there.” Moira studied Brigitte a little more and smiled before saying, “Nice shirt, by the way.”
Brigitte looked down and saw that Moira was referring to her shirt that had a graphic of a fork, knife, and weight with a bite taken out of it surrounded by the words, ‘I Like Exercise Because I Love Eating’.
Brigitte chuckled, which grew into a full laugh. “This is still my favorite shirt. Thanks for the compliment.” She made her way to the exit and before she left added, “You’re way nicer than the other one that was here. Glad he’s gone.”
Moira’s brow furrowed at Brigitte’s statement before she left. “Other one? What does she mean, Angela?”
Angela stilled. Memories of her and Elias’s argument in the lab and his outburst at the hearing all flashed through her mind.
“Um, it’s nothing, Moira,” Angela lied.
Moira cocked an eyebrow. “It doesn’t seem like nothing. What happened?”
Thinking up a quick excuse, Angela answered, “Oh, it was just a new member that joined us after the recall. He didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of us. He understood and left.”
Although she could sense there was more to it, Moira didn’t press further. “Well, hopefully this mystery man finds another calling."
Loud bars were never Elias’s forte. Ever since his university days, he preferred the quiet of higher class establishments. However, circumstances all but forced him to choose the rowdier dives around where he lived.
The time after the “incident” wasn’t kind to Elias. His time was spent mostly drinking either at home or in this particular place, all the while piecing his life back together to get work. While his doctorate was revoked, that didn’t mean he’d throw away all that work for some minimum wage job.
The TV screen in front of him suddenly switched to a news report. He glanced up and immediately his anger flared upon seeing who it was: Angela Ziegler, surrounded by reporters asking her questions.
“Doctor Ziegler? What details can you give us about the incident that happened within Overwatch?” one of them asked.
Angela leaned into the microphone and said, “I cannot answer that question. It’s not to be disclosed.”
“What happened to the person responsible?” another inquired.
“The person in question was taken into custody,” Angela replied. “He was brought before a U.N. court and the punishment he received was just for his crimes.”
“Punishment was just?!” Elias exclaimed over the shouts of the other patrons. “Fuck you, Ziegler! You ruined me!” He threw his head back as he finished off the rest of his drink.
“Hey, buddy,” the bartender said as he stood in front of Elias. “I think you’ve had enough tonight.”
Sure enough, Elias’s appearance was quite disheveled compared to how he was while with Overwatch. He glared at the man and said, “I’ll let you know when I’ve had enough. Just bring me another.”
“I’d like to see some more money first before I did,” the bartender said as he outstretched his hand.
Elias reached into his pocket but then quickly realized it was empty. He was about to state this when suddenly a voice next to him said, “I’ve got it. I need another as well.” He looked down and saw the money slid to the bartender, who in turn set down two glasses of whiskey.
Elias looked up to see who paid for his drink. It was a bald man, wearing an all-black suit. He grabbed his glass and said, “Cheers, friend.”
Taking his drink, Elias returned to his bitter mood and said, “I don’t know what you’re hoping to gain, but buying me a drink won’t get you far, buddy.”
The man chuckled. “Damn. I’ll just have to try harder.” He looked at Elias and said, “No, friend. I simply did this out of the kindness of my heart.”
“I don’t believe that,” Elias said as he took a drink. He put down his glass and asked, “Who are you?”
The man outstretched his hand. “Joseph Torres,” he introduced himself. Elias grasped his hand and replied, “Elias Mahler.”
Torres’s brow furrowed and he asked, “What is a man like you doing in a place like this?”
Elias stopped drinking and asked, “What do you mean?”
“You look like a man who should be drinking top-shelf at an upscale bar, not in some dirty dive,” Torres said.
“Watch it, bub,” the bartender said as he walked passed.
Torres nodded an apology while Elias said, “Well, let’s just say I had an ‘unfortunate incident’ which resulted in fewer funds for me to go out and splurge.” Elias tilted back and took another swig.
Torres chuckled lightly and said, “Oh yes. I must admit, your hearing was quite spectacular.”
Elias stopped drinking and immediately slammed his glass down onto the bar. He hauled himself up and grabbed Torres by his jacket lapels.
“What did you just say?!” Elias hissed.
Torres was completely unfazed. “I’m just saying, friend. What you said before and during your exit were memorable.”
Elias huffed out a breath and let go of Torres. He sat back down and said, “All of my words were true, dammit. They just couldn’t accept it.”
“They, and Angela Ziegler,” Torres commented.
“Especially Ziegler!” Elias exclaimed with a slam of his fist. “Her precious morals were what led me here. She ruined me.”
Torres sat down next to Elias. “It seems so. It amazes me that the world’s scientists and politicians all seek out the answers to fix our world, and yet when one is presented in any controversial fashion, it is ignored.”
“Mankind is going to be the ones who kill themselves with their ignorance to the truth,” Elias stated.
Torres smiled. “It doesn’t have to be like that, Doctor Mahler.”
Elias looked to Torres and said, “You can’t call me that. You should know, you were there when they revoked my doctorate.”
“Whether or not you have a doctorate is of no concern to me, Mahler,” Torres said.
Elias took another drink and asked, “What is it you want?” Torres finished his drink and turned fully to face Elias.
“I’ve been seeking you out ever since the end of that hearing. I’ve come to you with a proposition,” he said.
“What kind of proposition?” Elias asked.
“The kind where you may continue your work,” Torres said. “My organization recently lost its top research scientist to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. Since she is no longer with us, the position must be filled.”
Elias turned fully; Torres had his attention. “My organization operates without any intervention from other governments and global agencies. No worries about ethics committees closing down your lab, near-limitless funding, and no one knows about you. You’ll become invisible.”
Elias thought for a minute. It sounded incredibly tempting. He had never heard of an organization like the one Torres worked for. He had to know more.
“What is this organization?” Elias asked.
“That is something you don’t need to know at the moment,” Torres responded.
Elias smiled. “Is that so?” Torres nodded, and Elias suddenly stood from his seat. “Then forget about it.”
Torres seemed amused. “I beg your pardon?”
“You heard me,” Elias replied. “Won’t tell me a name? That’s probably because it’s just some fucking scam.”
He finished his drink and said, “Thanks for the offer and all, but I’ve got a few things lined up. Better probably than your ‘mystery organization’.”
Torres sighed. “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, Mahler. However, before you go, take this.” Torres reached into his pocket and produced what appeared to be a black business card. “If, and when, you decide to reconsider, find me at that address.”
Elias looked at the card and his brow creased. “This is just a black card. There’s nothing on it.”
Torres nodded. “I know. Have a good day, Mahler.” With that, he left his seat and walked out of the bar.
Elias threw him a look of disgust. He looked back to the card. He thought about just tossing it away, but he instead pocketed it and sat back down.
Outside, Torres pulled out an earpiece and placed it in his ear. He tapped the button on it to turn it on.
“Sir, I found Mahler.”
“And? What did he say?”
“He asked about who I worked for and I said he shouldn’t worry about that. He proceeded to refuse the offer,” Torres reported.
“Damn!” There was a noise that sounded like a fist slamming on a table.
“What is our next step?” Torres asked.
The line was silent for a moment before Donovan said, “I may have our solution. But for it to fully work, it will take time.”
“What’s the solution?” Torres inquired.
A chuckle came from Donovan and he answered, “Let’s just say Sombra will see to it that our person of interest comes right to us. You gave him the card, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” Torres answered.
“Good,” Donovan replied. “Sombra will take care of the rest. Just remain on standby in our safehouse until she completes her task.”
“Yes, sir,” Torres repeated. He hung up his phone and left before Elias could walk out and see him. Whatever Sombra’s plan was, it was bound to work.
Chapter 7: Last Resort
“What do you mean my accounts are frozen?!”
Elias was pacing through his small apartment, adjusting his clothes while speaking with his bank on speakerphone. He had tried withdrawing money and found that he couldn’t, and he was now talking with the bank about the situation.
“Sir, all I am saying is for unknown reasons, you cannot access your accounts. We don’t know what is going on,” the woman over the phone said.
Elias huffed in frustration as he straightened his tie. “I am not driving down there to solve this issue since this was not my fault. I want this handled soon if you please.”
“We will try our best, sir,” the woman said.
“Thank you,” Elias said bitterly as the call ended. He grabbed his phone and left his apartment, walking down the stairs to the parking lot and entering his car. He pulled out and drove onto the main road, turning immediately to get to his next destination. Elias had an interview today, and hopefully, his life could get back on track.
Elias drove a little longer before he stopped outside the entrance to the Vishkar Corporation’s London-based research center. He left his car and walked briskly towards the door. It opened automatically and Elias made his way to the front desk.
On display throughout the lobby were various hardlight models of buildings and other things created by the corporation. Elias knew he’d find a place here.
At the front desk sat a young woman typing at a computer. She looked up and noticed Elias approaching.
“Hello, sir. What can I do for you today?” she asked.
Elias waved and responded, “My name is Elias Mahler. I’m here for an interview with your supervisor, Lawrence Cook.”
The woman nodded and said, “I’ll get him down here.” She pushed a button on her earpiece and said, “Mister Cook? There is an Elias Mahler down here. He says he’s here for an interview of some kind.”
Elias began looking around at the various displays in the lobby, not noticing the change in expression on the woman’s face.
“Oh, I see. Okay, I’ll tell him,” she said. She ended the call and said to Elias, “He’ll be down in just a moment.”
Elias nodded and sat down in a nearby chair. A few minutes later the elevator ahead opened and out walked Lawrence Cook, the chairman of Vishkar’s London research center.
“Hello,” Cook said as he approached. “You must be Mahler.”
Elias nodded. “Yes, I am Elias Mahler.” He stuck his hand out to shake, but Cook didn’t accept it.
Withdrawing his hand, Elias said, “I-I appreciate the opportunity you’re giving me, sir.”
“What opportunity?” Cook asked.
Elias’s brow furrowed. “The interview I was coming for. The one for working here.”
Cook nodded. “Oh, yes. I do remember that. However, I am not interviewing you anymore.”
Elias’s eyes widened. “What? What do you mean?”
“Let’s just say some ‘recent events’ have changed my mind about hiring you,” Cook explained.
“What events? What happened?” Elias inquired.
Cook gave Elias a steely glare. “You ought to know. Now, please see yourself out. I now must look for a suitable person to interview for the job.”
With that, Cook walked away. Elias turned to the woman, who only could give him a sympathetic look. Elias shook his head and walked back through the lobby and out the door.
“No matter, Elias. No matter. I still have a few cards to play,” he said to himself. Elias looked at his phone and saw his accounts were still frozen. He checked his wallet and found he had very few bills left.
“So long as they play out.”
Only a few blocks away, a young woman appeared seemingly out of thin air and looked out from an alleyway. She looked on and saw Elias putting his wallet back into his pocket and walking back to his car.
Suddenly, the earpiece the woman was wearing chimed on. She activated it and said, “Go ahead.”
“His accounts have all been frozen. The video of his U.N. hearing was sent to Cook. I’m keeping an eye on him now to see what he does next.”
“Good. Remember, you are to ensure that Mahler comes to us. Do whatever else is necessary.”
“I know,” Sombra responded.
“Everything hinges on this. We’ve been taking heavy losses ever since O’Deorain left.” With that, the communication cut out, leaving Sombra alone to observe her target.
“What else can we do?” Sombra asked herself as she saw Elias pull away.
“Keep on them! They’re falling back!”
Months after Moira’s defection from Talon, Overwatch has been able to crush Talon operations all over the world. Their tactics proved to be efficient enough to stop their enemies. The only drawback was the leadership, especially the Inner Council, had gone underground when the heat began catching up to them.
Now, a small band of Overwatch agents were busy driving Talon forces out from a small, rural town in the French countryside that was being used as an outpost. Jack, along with Angela, Hana, Brigitte, Lena, Jesse, and Genji, as well as some French special forces, had driven the last of the Talon soldiers into a small house at the end of the town. They stood outside for a few moments before a makeshift white flag was raised out from the window.
“Secure them,” Jack ordered as the Talon soldiers filed outside with their hands raised. The French spec ops soldiers began cuffing and linking the remaining soldiers together while a transport truck pulled in.
Jack turned around in time to see the French spec ops captain approach him. “Commander Morrison, the outpost has been secured. All enemies have been apprehended.”
“Good,” Jack replied. “We’ll ensure they’re properly handled.” The captain nodded and walked back to his men.
“Well, that wasn’t such a chore, now was it?” Jesse said as he placed a lit cigar in between his lips.
Lena joined them and said in excitement, “Yeah! We’ve been kicking some serious arse lately!”
Jack nodded. “I normally say not to get cocky, but I think you’re right, Lena. Ever since Moira came back, we’ve had these bastards on the run. Any new tech they could’ve used, she was the source. And since she’s gone, they are practically fighting us empty-handed.”
Angela and the rest joined them. Jack turned to her and said, “Angela, send a report back to the Watchpoint. Tell Ana and Winston that the op was a success and we are heading home.”
Nodding, Angela took out her communicator and clicked the center of it. A few moments followed before Winston’s voice responded.
“Go ahead, Angela.”
“Winston, the op is finished. The outpost has been secured and Talon soldiers have been apprehended,” Angela reported.
“Fantastic!” Winston said in excitement.
“We are on our way back,” Angela said.
Back at the Watchpoint, Winston, Ana, and Moira were grouped in the basement lab, looking over some of the data Moira brought back while talking with Angela on a hologram.
“We’ve still got several files to look over at the moment,” Winston said.
Angela responded, “Good. We’ll get back as quick as we can to help.”
Winston nodded and ended the communication. He turned and approached Moira, who was organizing an entire folder of her research for review later.
“Moira, I cannot express how grateful we are for you being here,” he said with a warm smile.
Moira returned the smile and replied, “It was more than just my disillusion with Talon that brought me back.”
“Nonetheless, your choice has ensured us an upper hand over Talon,” Winston commented.
Winston walked away, leaving Moira to smile once more at the thought of bringing Talon down, as well as Angela’s return to base.
“Well, Mahler. Your record is quite impressive.”
Elias sat still, but incredibly nervous, in front of what could quite possibly be his last hope. Almost every other job he went to interview for he was turned away. Elias’s confidence dissolved; his accounts hadn’t been unfrozen, he had almost no money left, and he had various payments due for his car and apartment.
“Thank you, sir,” Elias replied, hiding how nervous he was behind a forced smile.
The man in front of Elias, Isaac Davidson, was the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company. They had posted a job related to Elias’s studies and he applied. He ensured that he made no mention of certain “bumps” in recent times that would make Davidson reconsider.
“I must say, Elias, everything I’ve seen I’m impressed with. You may be just what this company is looking for,” Davidson said.
Excitement bubbled inside Elias for the first time in months. “Thank you so much, sir!”
Davidson nodded and added, “Onto business, I feel that you should be able to start-” Suddenly, a notification sound went off on Davidson’s computer.
“Hmm, strange. I received something from an unknown sender,” Davidson said. He clicked on it and Elias saw it appear on a screen next to them.
Elias’s heart sank when he saw that the item sent to Davidson was the clip of his hearing before the U.N. court and his outburst that followed. Elias looked and saw Davidson’s face change instantly.
The clip ended, leaving the room uncomfortably silent. Davidson finally broke it with a “Hmm” and turned to look at Elias.
“Left out this little incident, didn’t you?”
Elias had to save himself. “Sir, if you’ll allow me to explain. I-”
“No,” Davidson interrupted. “That clip was explanation enough. I now see what you truly stand for.”
“No, please, sir. You don’t understand. It was just a misinterpretation,” Elias tried to explain.
“'Misinterpretation’?” Davidson asked incredulously. “Defacing science with your unethical methods and your slanderous words against not only the U.N. but one of the most prestigious peacekeeping organizations and greatest minds in our modern world is a ’misinterpretation’?”
Elias had no response and Davidson knew it. “With that being said, it should be obvious that I do not want you here. Please leave this building.”
“No! Wait!” Elias exclaimed. He clasped his hands together and said, “Please, I’m begging you. This is my last chance. I have no money, my accounts are frozen, and payments on my car and apartment are due. I’m desperate. Please, I will do anything.”
Davidson gave him no look of sympathy as he said, “It’s out of my hands. Now, please leave.”
Realizing his begging would get him nowhere, Elias sighed in defeat and stood from his seat. Slowly, he made his way out of the building. Once he was outside he looked to his car and his eyes widened when he saw a tow truck hooking up to it.
“Alright Terry, you’re good!” a man outside said as the car was completely hooked.
“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” Elias shouted as he ran towards his car. He stopped in front of the man and asked, “What are you doing?”
The man gave Elias the dirtiest look and answered, “Repossessing this vehicle. The owner is behind on his payments. What does it matter to you?”
Elias shook his head. “I’m the owner.”
“Ohh,” the man said in understanding. “Then I guess I should inform you we’re taking your vehicle for being behind on your payments.”
“How is that possible?” Elias asked. “I thought I had another two weeks.”
The man shrugged and replied, “I guess the bank wanted their money now.” He turned to climb into the tow truck and said, “Good day.”
“Wait! How am I to get home?” Elias questioned.
The man entered the truck and said, “Looking at you, you probably can afford cab fare.”
“I have no money!” Elias said in frustration.
“Oh,” the man simply said. He looked up as dark clouds began forming and the low rumble of thunder rolled in. “Then I’d best get walking.” With that, the tow truck lurched forward and drove down the street, leaving Elias rooted to the spot.
Elias looked up in time to see rain beginning to pour. Not bothering with covering himself, Elias began jogging back to his apartment. The rain came down harder as Elias made his way back; a few passing cars splashed more water onto him.
Finally, Elias made it into a covered part of his apartment complex. Gathering his breath, Elias walked up the stairs and down the hall to his apartment. Elias glanced at his door and his eyes snapped up when he saw a paper taped to his door. He sighed when he saw what it said:
Elias unlocked his door and slumped his way inside. He turned on the lights and the TV before heading to the kitchen. While the TV began playing some news channel, Elias retrieved a bottle of whiskey and a glass with ice. He poured a drink and downed it instantly, letting the alcohol burn his throat.
“I have nothing,” Elias dryly said to himself as he poured another glass. He stalked back into his living room, pacing back and forth. “My life, everything I worked, for, all that I have done, all that I have sacrificed, is in shambles.”
His gaze shifted up and suddenly Elias saw Angela Ziegler’s face on the screen talking. Rage coursed through Elias’s mind and his grip on the glass tightened.
“And it’s all…” Elias walked to the TV, “…because…” he grabbed it, “OF YOU!” he shouted as he heaved and threw the TV against the wall.
“DAMN YOU, ZIEGLER!” Elias shouted as he grabbed his drink and tossed it back. He went back and retrieved the bottle of whiskey and took a large swig from it. “YOU RUINED ME! YOU’VE TAKEN EVERYTHING FROM ME!” His last statement was punctuated by him throwing the bottle at the wall.
Elias shouted and cursed until his voice was hoarse. He stopped and slumped to his hands and knees, tears of anger falling from his eyes. He collected himself and stood, walking slowly to his bedroom. It was dark inside, with only the window as the sole source of light.
“Ziegler and Overwatch may have ruined me, but there’s still one thing they haven’t taken,” Elias said to himself.
Slowly, Elias stood before his work desk. He pulled open the top drawer and shifted various items around, until he found what he was looking for: a handgun.
With shaky hands, Elias reached down and grabbed the gun. He clicked off the safety with his thumb, and even slower, raised the gun to the side of his head. His finger closed around the trigger, tighter and tighter, just waiting for the minimum amount of pull before…
Suddenly, Elias saw a purple, pulsating glow come from his desk. He looked down and saw what was causing the glow: the black card given to him by Torres all those months ago; when he offered Elias to join Torres’s suspicious organization.
Putting down the gun, Elias grabbed the card and turned it over. Instead of it being blank, letters and numbers formed, giving Elias directions to where he was to go. With no other options, Elias walked out of his room and exited his apartment. Not caring about the rain, he made his way down the street to the place where his life will forever change.
It wasn’t a real far walk; only a few blocks from Elias’s apartment. However, the pouring rain made the trip much slower as Elias walked down the deserted sidewalk.
Retrieving the card from his pocket, Elias looked and saw he next had to turn at an upcoming alleyway. He walked in and found it completely barren, save for a few dumpsters and other trash. However, beneath a single source of light was a door.
Walking further into the alley, Elias reached the door. Not bothering to knock, he twisted the handle and opened it, walking slowly in. Inside, he found himself in a hallway, with a dimly-lit room illuminated through an ajar door at the end.
As Elias walked to the open door he could hear people talking. Finally, he reached the door and entered the room.
Inside were about a dozen people, all of them talking beneath the dim light. Elias awkwardly shifted closer in, not wishing to draw attention to himself.
“Ah! There he is! The man of the hour has arrived!” a familiar voice called out. Elias found all of the occupants’ eyes on him as Torres approached and took his hand to shake it.
“Hello, Mahler. We’ve been waiting for you,” Torres said. He pointed his hand and added, “Come, there’s someone I want you to meet.” The pair walked to the back of the room where Elias found a group of three men talking. Elias could also make out someone standing in the shadows, but couldn’t see who.
“Mahler, this is Donovan,” Torres introduced. A man wearing an all-black suit, Donovan, Elias assumed, nodded in acknowledgment.
“Torres, this is the man you were talking about?” he asked.
Torres nodded. “Yes, sir. This is the answer to all of our problems.” He looked to Elias and said, “Of course, that is if the reason he’s here is what I believe it is.”
Elias breathed in and sighed. “I-I have reconsidered Torres’s offer.”
The room seemed to clap and cheer at Elias’s statement. Torres smiled and placed his hand on Elias’s shoulder.
“I knew he’d come around,” he said with a smile.
Elias pulled back from Torres’s hand and said, “Wait, wait. Please, just tell me what exactly this organization is. Why are you so secretive?”
The atmosphere in the room shifted instantly. Everyone went silent, causing Elias to look around to the occupants. A sigh came from behind Elias. He turned and saw Donovan walking around the people.
“He was going to find out anyway,” Donovan said. He turned to Elias, straightening himself towards him. “Our organization is comprised of a variety of individuals, all united with a similar goal: to lead mankind and this world to a better future. We operate within almost all major aspects of society. We are the true rulers of the world. We, are Talon.”
Elias’s eyes widened instantly. “Talon!” he shouted. He paced angrily for a moment before saying. “When I came here, I thought it was a chance to rebuild my life, not this!” He angrily glared around the room before meeting Donovan’s gaze. “You can forget it! I may be desperate, but I’m not desperate enough to join damned terrorists!” With that, Elias began walking back towards the door.
Donovan felt someone shift behind him. “Not yet, Reaper,” he whispered. He looked to Elias walking away and called out, “Fine! Go ahead and leave! Return to your sad, lonely apartment and eat your gun!”
Elias stopped dead in his tracks. Slowly, he turned to face Donovan. “What did you just say?” he hissed.
Donovan smirked. “You heard me.” He walked towards Elias and said, “Mahler, we are not your enemy. We are painted as villains because we perceive that humanity can better themselves by pushing past the boundaries they put up for themselves. That’s something that isn’t far from your ideals, is it not?”
Elias didn’t respond as Donovan led him back to the main group. “We are not your enemy, because who ruined your career, and who ruined your life enough to make you try and take your own?”
“Angela Ziegler, and Overwatch,” Elias seethed.
Donovan nodded. “See? That alone shows Overwatch’s true colors. If anything’s done to stain their image, it gets thrown under the bus.” He stood in front of Elias and outstretched his hands to show the people. “But not us.”
Another person walked to the two men and presented a small box to Donovan. He opened it and produced a ring with Talon’s logo on it.
“Join us, and with your expertise, we can reshape the world for generations to come,” Donovan offered. “What do you say, Doctor Mahler?”
Elias shifted his gaze up; it had been a while since he’d been referred to as ‘Doctor’. He looked at the ring. The decision he had to make was akin to selling his soul to the Devil. He would become anonymous. He would disappear. He would cease to exist.
There was only one choice.
Without any further hesitation, Elias reached out and grabbed the ring, placing it on his right ring finger. As Elias looked at it, thoughts of what he was now capable of sped through his mind. Ideas of vengeance against all who wronged him joined those thoughts. He looked back to Donovan, a sinister grin on his face.
“Where do I start?”
Chapter 8: No Looking Back
By the end of the week, Elias found himself and any possessions he wished to take settled in his quarters at one of Talon’s secret bases in southern France. Checking his accounts, Elias found they had been unfrozen, along with some generous donations given to him by his new employers.
As Elias tightened his tie and placed his Talon ring on his finger, his door opened. He looked up and saw Donovan entering.
“Donovan, sir,” Elias greeted.
Donovan nodded in acknowledgment and said, “Doctor Mahler, if you would follow me we shall head to your new lab facilities.”
Elias grinned. He followed Donovan out of his quarters and down the hall. They stopped at an elevator and walked in, Donovan pressing the bottom-most button for Elias’s lab. The elevator quickly carried them to the bottom level. The door opened and the two exited.
“Here is your access card for your lab,” Donovan said as he presented a card to Elias. As he took it Donovan added, “Only you and higher-ranking Talon members have access. You need not worry about unwanted visitors.”
Elias nodded and chuckled. “An unwanted visitor is what led me here.” They finally reached a locked door at the end and Elias placed his card in front of a scanner. It beeped twice and turned green. With a hiss, the door slid open.
Elias was taken aback by the lab. It was large and spacious and the equipment was far superior to anything he had with Overwatch.
“Impressed?” Donovan asked.
“Very,” Elias answered. He stood at one of the lab’s work tables while Donovan stood before him.
“That’s good because I want it to go to good use immediately,” Donovan said.
Elias examined a few things on the table and asked, “And what would that be?”
Donovan turned on a nearby screen, revealing to Elias a scene of a battle between Talon forces and Overwatch agents. Confused, Elias asked, “What is this?”
“Overwatch has been pushing us back ever since O’Deorain betrayed us. We have been losing valuable assets and ground to them for months,” Donovan explained. “We need you to push them off of us, and then, push them back,” he added.
Elias looked back to Donovan and asked, “And how exactly do I do that?”
“Well, there is something that can get you started,” Donovan replied. He pressed a button next to him and a holoscreen turned on behind Elias. He turned and found what appeared to be a formula for some chemical serum.
“It’s a formula stolen from Volskaya Industries some time ago. It is meant in its current form to simply increase a soldier’s awareness on the battlefield, but we want you to make it into something that goes more along the lines of our purposes,” Donovan explained. Turning back to the formula, Elias scrutinized its every detail.
“Very well. I shall tinker with this formula and should have something for you,” Elias said.
Donovan smirked. “Good. I can tell this is the start of something glorious.”
Angela stood alongside Jack, Ana, Winston, and Moira as they surveyed a holographic map of the world. The map gave them a detailed view of the remaining Talon strongholds, which were disappearing at an alarming rate.
“Their main force appears to be in Europe,” Jack stated as he pointed to the map. “That’s where I’m seeing the highest concentration of Talon activity.”
Moira nodded. “Correct. However, this map is only of known locations. There may be some that we don’t know about.”
“Then we keep our eyes and ears open for any chatter on hidden locations,” Ana added.
Jack nodded as he pulled up three agents and their locations on the map. “Current ops running: Lena is working with British SAS in destroying a Talon manufacturing plant in North Africa, Jesse is returning from the States after helping with an escort in Texas, and Aleksandra is currently helping the Spetsnaz in the Ural Mountains.”
Angela walked forward and said, “I don’t think we had this much going on when we originally formed.”
“It’s just about getting there. We won’t stop until these bastards are defeated,” Jack said.
Donovan walked back through the darkened halls of the Talon base back towards Mahler’s lab. Nearly two weeks had passed since Mahler had joined them, and during that time, he and the rest of the Inner Council watched his progress with admiration. Finally, today he received word from Mahler that he had something for him. With that, he and a few Talon soldiers had made their way to the lab.
The door opened and the group found Mahler standing at the main work table. Sitting in front of him was a tube full of a dark orange liquid.
“Donovan, I have followed the formula you gave me and I made some additions to it. This serum, if prepared correctly, gives the user near-superhuman resilience and strength, as well as sending them into an uncontrollable rage,” Elias explained. He held up a small chip and said, “And this will allow us to control them. All there is left to do is test it.”
Donovan smirked. “Well Doctor Mahler, we have just what you need.” He motioned his hand and Elias stilled when he saw a man in a prison uniform pushed towards him.
“Here’s your test subject,” Donovan stated.
Elias looked at the man uneasily. “I-” he said but trailed off.
Donovan stared determinedly at Elias; this would be his ultimate test. “Now Doctor Mahler, sometimes necessary evils are required to make advancements. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Elias looked away for a moment. However, he was here to prove that people like Ziegler’s moral and ethical science held back human potential. The decision was made.
“Bring him to the testing chamber.”
Donovan smiled as two Talon soldiers grabbed the man and hauled him into the chamber. The man struggled as he had restraints shackled to his wrists. Elias entered the testing chamber as the Talon soldiers finished restraining the man. “You guys are all crazy!” the man exclaimed when Elias stood before him.
Elias tilted the man’s head to the side as he grabbed a device and placed it on the back of the man’s neck. He secured it and uncapped the tube of the serum. As he screwed it into the device, Elias said, “Worry not, my friend. You are partaking in a noble cause.” Finishing up, Elias placed the chip on the side of the man’s head; he gritted his teeth in pain as the chip pierced a needle into his brain.
Elias walked out of and sealed the testing chamber. He stood in front of the window and brought up the man’s vitals on a small monitor.
“Chemical Serum Omega, Test Number One,” Elias said to himself. He pressed a button and immediately the serum began slowly emptying from the tube and into the man’s bloodstream. They waited for several tense moments, observing the man as the tube was half empty.
Suddenly, a loud shout alerted them. They all looked up to see the man thrashing around. His teeth were bared and his hands pulled at their restraints as flailed and yelled incoherently.
“Heart rate increasing,” Elias said as he looked between the monitors and the man. “Body temperature rising.” The man continued screaming and pulling against his restraints.
“I don’t think he’s going to make it,” Donovan said, sounding unimpressed.
“Just a little longer,” Elias said as he looked and saw the tube emptied. Almost instantly, the man’s trashing slowed until it completely stopped. He calmed himself; the only noise coming from him was his harsh, yet steady, breathing.
Elias was still; his hand slowly reached out and pressed a button, releasing the man from his restraints. The man moved out from his spot but didn’t make his way to the door.
Activating an intercom, Elias said, “Subject, walk forward.” The subject walked slowly to the closed door and turned back around, walking back to where he was.
Elias shook in excitement. “Good, good,” he commended. “Now, sit down.”
Just as slowly as he walked to the door, the subject sat down on the floor and Elias smiled in jubilation.
“This is quite impressive and all, but I want to see a real test,” Donovan said.
Elias turned around to face him. With a smirk, he said, “You’re right.” He turned his head to one of the Talon soldiers and said, “You, into the testing chamber.”
The soldier’s eyes widened. “Me? But-”
“That is an order!” Elias exclaimed.
Sighing, the soldier walked to the door and unlocked it. He opened it and walked inside while Elias sealed the door behind him he walked back to his intercom.
It was instant. The subject sprang to his feet and launched himself at the soldier. The subject grabbed the soldier and threw him against the opposite wall with all his might. He raised his rifle but it was kicked from his hands. The subject brutally beat down the soldier before throwing him to the other wall.
Reaching to his side, the soldier grabbed his sidearm and aimed it. He emptied the full clip into the subject’s chest and abdomen. The subject’s eyes flashed with rage and he shouted. The soldier could only look on in fear as the subject grabbed him and hauled him to his feet.
Elias simply watched with bated breath as his subject began repeatedly smashing the soldier’s head on the viewing window. Pieces of his helmet broke off as blood began spattering onto the glass. The subject gave one last smash before he threw the soldier’s lifeless body onto the ground. He continued pacing back and forth, throwing his arms around in rage looking for something else to destroy.
The subject stopped dead in his tracks. He breathed in once, and his breathing returned to its shallow pace. He turned and looked at Elias through the window.
“Very impressive, Doctor Mahler,” Donovan said as he walked to stand next to him. “The potential I see is quite substantial.”
Elias nodded. “I will get to work at once with creating more batches of the Omega Serum.”
“We shall take this one to get fitted into armor,” Donovan said.
Elias leaned into the intercom and said, “Subject, you are to go with the men entering the chamber. And you are to follow their every command.”
The subject slowly nodded once. The door opened and he walked out, escorted by the rest of the (extremely nervous) soldiers.
“In the meantime, I shall require more test subjects,” Elias said. He turned to see Donovan nod and begin following the soldiers.
“Have you got a plan to deploy them?” Elias asked.
Donovan chuckled. “I know of a perfect way to test their effectiveness. Just give me more units and I will take care of the rest.” With that, the door to the lab closed, leaving Elias alone to create more of the serum.
Jack walked into the Briefing Room, nodding quickly to the sitting agents as he approached the front of the room. Sitting at the briefing table were Angela, Fareeha, Hana, and Reinhardt. Jack activated the viewscreen and stopped next to it, turning to the group.
“Agents, we’ve intercepted a coded Talon transmission about the location of a secret weapons depot situated here in Southern Germany,” Jack explained. The viewscreen showed a map of Europe and zoomed in on the spot where the depot was.
“Any idea what’s specifically there?” Fareeha asked.
Jack shook his head. “Not sure, Hana. But, since we haven’t heard anything about this location, I would suspect maybe they’ve got something new they’re tinkering with.”
Hana cracked her knuckles. “Well then, it’s our job to wreck their shit!”
Jack rolled his eyes. “The enthusiasm is appreciated, Hana. But since we don’t know what precisely we are dealing with.”
Looking over at Angela, Jack added, “Angela, you especially had best make good preparations. Depending on how tomorrow goes, you may be dragging us back to the dropship one by one.”
“Please, don’t say that,” Angela said, her voice laced with worry.
Jack shrugged. “Just saying. Sometimes we need to be prepared for the worst.”
Reinhardt leaned back in his chair. “We’ve been rolling these bastards back day by day. This is going to be easy!”
Elias stood in the hanger of the Talon base, observing as the dozen “Berserkers” Elias had created were loaded onto a dropship. The twelve individuals were encased in thick, heavy armor, their faces were covered by menacing helmets, and a large tank of the Omega Serum was attached to their backs.
“The units are in a standby stasis,” a Talon Commander said to Elias. “With the push of a button, the serum will empty into their bodies and the command chips will activate. They will decimate anything before them.”
Elias raised an eyebrow. “So you claim. They haven’t been field-tested yet.”
The Commander smirked. “Well, based on what I heard happened to Garcia, I’d say they are more than ready.”
Elias rolled his eyes. “If you say so. And you’re certain Overwatch will be where you say they’ll be.”
The Commander nodded. “Of course. Donovan leaked the info on our weapons depot straight to them, and they took the bait almost instantly.”
Turning to the dropship, the Commander said, “Excuse me, but I must be off.”
Elias gave the commander an unenthusiastic wave and turned around to leave.
The Overwatch dropship flew over the expansive forest towards its designated target. Inside, Jack walked passed Angela, Ana, Fareeha, Hana, and Reinhardt. He got to the front of the group and turned. “Alright agents, here we are,” he said. “Remember what we briefed. Remain vigilant, keep to your roles, and we’ll all make it out in one piece.”
The dropship suddenly lurched to avoid incoming enemy fire from the trees. Jack and the others braced themselves to keep from falling over.
“Pilot put us down now!” Jack commanded.
“Yes sir!” the pilot replied. Avoiding more enemy fire, the pilot found a large clearing and the dropship descended onto the spot. It hovered in place as the side door opened.
“Op is live! Go go go!” Jack bellowed.
Reinhardt gave a hearty yell as he jumped from the ship and immediately brought up his energy barrier. The rest of the agents left the dropship as well, and before it could leave dropped Hana’s MEKA next to them.
“Alright agents, let’s move!” Jack yelled as Hana took control of her mech. The agents followed close behind Reinhardt as he charged forward, protected by his energy barrier. They came upon the first group of enemies clustered around an MG bunker.
“Hana, focus fire on infantry! Fareeha, handle that bunker!” Jack commanded.
Hana’s mech jumped into the fray and opened fire on the exposed Talon soldiers. Fareeha sent a couple of rockets from her launcher at the bunker. The first blew open the front and the second hit the ammo reserves, sending a jet of fire sky high.
“Clear!” Hana exclaimed.
“Fareeha, get us an eye in the sky,” Jack said.
Saluting, Fareeha took off above the treetops and scanned the area ahead. Finding what she was looking for, she descended back to the others.
“Weapons depot is two hundred yards in front of us, straight through these trees,” Fareeha reported.
Jack nodded. “Good. Alright team, let’s move it.”
The agents took off further into the forest. As they moved, the trees became farther apart before they finally found a clearing; and sitting in the middle of it was a large wall with a heavy door.
“That is one big door,” Reinhardt said.
“Try knocking and seeing if anyone’s home,” Ana said.
Chuckling, Reinhardt readied his hammer and took off running. Then, a blinding flash followed as Reinhardt charged straight into the door. There was a deafening bang and the large door was knocked off and flew back several feet. Instantly enemy fire began pouring on him.
“I think someone is home!” Reinhardt shouted as he activated his energy barrier.
Turning to Fareeha, Ana asked, “Habibti, give me a lift?”
Nodding, Fareeha grabbed her mother and flew to the top of the wall. She dropped Ana off and she quickly readied her rifle. Shots rang out as the older woman expertly picked off the soldiers pinning Reinhardt and the others down.
“Clear! Move up!” Ana yelled.
Reinhardt charged in followed by the rest of the team. Jack made it to the front, reloading his Pulse Rifle.
“Leave nothing standing!”
The agents proceeded to raze the rest of the camp, destroying weapon and ammo stockpiles, vehicles, and anything else remotely useful to Talon. Finally, after a grueling fight, one last soldier stood alone.
Jack aimed his rifle right at the soldier, who looked to be the commander, and said, “I’m giving you this one chance to surrender.”
The Commander smiled. “You think you have won? You are mistaken!” He pressed a button on his wrist comm.
“You are in for a world of pain!”
Suddenly, Jack and the others jumped as they heard muffled shouts come from the area behind the Commander. They looked and saw twelve large containers at the back of the depot. The doors of them burst open and the agents readied themselves as they saw a dozen large armored figures walked towards them.
The Talon Commander clicked another button. Angela looked closely and saw a large tank of dark orange liquid emptying into the figures. Their shouts grew louder and they stomped the ground in pure rage. Smiling, the Talon Commander shouted, “Berserkers, attack!”
The Berserkers all shouted and rushed towards the agents. Jack opened fire on them, but the hulking monstrosities pushed on.
“Team, split!” Jack commanded. The agents broke off from each other as the Berserkers reached where they stood. Two of them were encroaching on Angela.
Angela upholstered her sidearm and fired, but the shots couldn’t penetrate the thick armor. “I could use a little assistance!” she exclaimed.
Two successive sniper shots pierced through the helmets of the Berserkers. Angela looked behind herself and gave Ana a small salute.
Jack sidestepped out of the way of an incoming Berserker and readied his rifle once more. He fired on the armored brute but his shots did nothing. The Berserker swung its heavy arm, which Jack dodged and rolled behind it. Taking a grenade from his belt, Jack shattered the empty tank on the Berserker’s back and stuffed it inside. He ran off and ducked just as it exploded in a large fireball.
Three Berserkers were slowly surrounding Reinhardt. Laughing, he readied his hammer and shouted, “Come on! Who wants first crack?!”
Reinhardt lurched forwards as a fourth Berserker jumped and latched onto his back. The rest rushed him and knocked the hammer from his grip. They then attempted to dogpile onto him, but Reinhardt was able to throw the one on his back and shake off the rest. Grabbing his hammer, he slammed it down on the one he threw to the ground. He punched another into the side of a bunker, but it only rose and ran to him again.
“These bastards are persistent!” Reinhardt yelled as he activated his charge and pummeled the rushing Berserker. Grabbing his hammer, Reinhardt side swung it into another Berserker. It flew away into another, but it merely caught and threw it back to Reinhardt before running towards him.
Three more Berserkers surrounded Hana. She knew even in her MEKA she wouldn’t be able to take them, so she had her usual ‘Plan B’.
“Fareeha, requesting a pickup!” Hana said into her comm.
“What do you mean?” Fareeha asked.
The Berserkers rushed Hana and just before they reached her, Hana ejected from the mech. Just as she started to come down, Fareeha swooped in and caught her.
Hana smiled. “Thanks. And now the fireworks.” She and Fareeha looked back as the Berserkers piled onto the MEKA. However, they didn’t last long as a few seconds later a massive explosion went off, sending pieces of her mech (and the enemy) everywhere.
Fareeha landed on the ground to drop Hana off when two more Berserkers spotted them. Readying herself, Fareeha activated her rocket barrage and within moments the two Berserkers were blown apart by a constant salvo of mini-rockets.
With a mighty shout, Reinhardt hefted his hammer high into the air and brought it down right on top of the final Berserker. It groaned slightly but succumbed.
“Haha! All enemies cleared!” he declared loudly.
Jack was about to say something when he heard movement behind him. He whipped his pulse rifle around and fired, putting several shots into the Talon Commander. He staggered and fell to his back, sighing one last breath before dying.
Taking a few deep breaths, Jack collected himself and said, “Team, regroup.” The agents all made their way to the center of the depot, each one of them exhausted from the fight.
“What the Hell were those things?” Ana asked as Fareeha dropped her off.
“Maybe some advanced mechanized units,” Angela said.
“What kind of robot screams like that? And what of that liquid on their backs?” Hana questioned.
Turning to one that was on the ground and relatively undamaged, Jack said, “Here, let’s look at this one.” The team gathered around the Berserker as Jack knelt next to it and examined it.
“Armor’s what we’ve seen on robot units, but let’s see what’s underneath,” Jack said. He reached down and released the latches holding the Berserker’s helmet. Jack removed the helmet and the team gasped at what was revealed.
Underneath, they found a man’s face. His eyes were still open, staring at them with a look of pure rage. His face was pale, save for lines of dark orange that went along where his veins were.
Hana grimaced as she stared longer. “Why would anyone do this to themselves?”
“I don’t think these guys were ‘willing participants’,” Reinhardt commented.
Angela’s eyes widened as she covered her mouth; she was disgusted by what she was seeing. “Who would do something like this? This is abhorrent.”
Jack stood up and replied, “It’s Talon, Angie. What would you expect?”
The rest of the agents walked away as the dropship approached. Angela looked back down to the open-eyed man trapped within his steel-encased prison.
“What sick, twisted person would create these?”
Chapter 9: The Vision Rekindled
Elias was standing alone at one of his lab’s workstations typing down some simple observations into his datapad. It was a quiet day; nothing to disturb the young scientist.
Suddenly, that silence was broken by the door opening and someone walking in. Donovan walked inside, and his face showed that he was upset about something.
“Mahler!” he shouted.
Elias was unfazed by Donovan’s outburst. “Donovan, you seem displeased.”
Donovan stalked over and said, “You’re damn right I’m displeased! Your freaks of nature failed!”
Elias chuckled and said, “Ironic how you heaped praise onto them when I first developed the serum, but now they are failures for not performing per your expectations.”
“They failed to perform as we expected,” Donovan said.
Elias shook his head. “What were you expecting, Donovan? They weren’t field-tested. The subject smashing a lowly Talon soldier’s head against a wall isn’t the same as putting them through several combat simulations to see their effectiveness.”
Donovan huffed. “And here I thought you would be a boon to this organization.”
Elias stood straight and said, “What do you want from me, Donovan?”
Pacing, Donovan replied, “What we want is you to create something that will help us further our goals. An advantage in the field. A game-changer.”
Elias’s eyes widened at what Donovan said. Suddenly, images flashed before his mind. His great creation; the advancement and ideals behind it that certain people feared.
“I know just what to do,” Elias said.
“Donovan looked at him in confusion. “What is that?” he asked.
Elias stood in front of Donovan and explained, “During my tenure with Overwatch, I had conceived a vision which I believed would be a revolutionary next step in modern combat. The weapon I created was a beam that used the same nanotechnology as Angela Ziegler’s Caduceus Staff, but instead of healing, it destroyed on a cellular level.”
Donovan smirked. “I’ll bet she was a fan of that.”
Elias darkly chuckled. “It was the reason I was removed from Overwatch. She saw my beam as an abomination.”
Smiling once again, Donovan said, “It sounds like this beam of yours is just what we need. I want you to redevelop this beam for our organization’s purposes.”
Elias walked back around the table and said, “Well, it wouldn’t be hard to redevelop, but there is only one problem.”
“And what is that?” Donovan asked.
“I don’t have access to Ziegler’s research. The majority of the beam’s components were of my design, but the nanotechnology aspect I cannot replicate. And I am willing to bet that my prototype has been destroyed.”
Donovan nodded. “Correct, but that’s a problem that can be easily solved.”
Elias walked around and said, “The only way I can press on with this experiment is if I get Ziegler’s research.”
“Exactly,” Donovan said. “So all that needs to be done is stealing her research.”
Elias stopped and smiled. “That sounds like a perfect idea. The security is a roadblock, however.” He stopped for a moment and added, “But with the right team, I already have a plan in mind.”
Donovan smirked and lifted his hand. He typed something into his wrist communicator and said, “Our best agents are heading to the hanger now.”
Elias smiled and asked, “And if I may, I’d like to take temporary command of this team.”
Donovan said, “Of course. Dropship Ten.”
Elias nodded and made his way out of the lab. He went up on the elevator and walked through the large, winding halls of the base. Finally, Elias reached a large metal door. It slowly opened and revealed the hanger area. All over, mechanics and pilots were seated all around. Various dropships and fighter craft were docked in their respective bays.
Elias slowly walked through the hanger, the men stationed inside saluting him as he walked passed. Being Talon’s new R&D scientist certainly had its sovereignty benefits.
Looking up, Elias found the correct dropship; the ramp already lowered, Elias walked right on. Inside he found three occupants seated; the best team for the job.
“So, you all must be ‘Talon’s Best’,” Elias said. The three agents looked and nodded curtly.
Elias retrieved a hand-held device from his pocket and a hologram of each of them appeared. “'Reaper’. A shadow. A ruthless and remorseless killer. All other information, ‘Not Applicable’.”
“And it will stay that way,” Reaper growled.
Elias’s eyes widened briefly. “Noted,” he said. He flipped to the next one and said, “'Widowmaker’. Proficient markswoman. Multiple confirmed kills. These were some high-profile targets.” He glanced to Widowmaker and commented, “Very impressive.”
“Merci,” Widowmaker curtly answered.
Finally, Elias moved to the last agent. “'Sombra’. Brilliant hacker and master of infiltration.” Looking at Sombra, Elias said, “Typical skills for an organization like this.”
“Everything can be hacked…and everyone,” Sombra remarked.
Elias nodded and deactivated the holograms. He turned and yelled, “Pilot! We are ready to go!”
The dropship’s engines powered up and lifted off from the ground. The aircraft turned and slowly flew to the exit. Once it left, the ship lurched as it went up to its full speed.
Elias turned back to the three. “Okay agents, the mission today is simple but important. We are stealing vital research from Overwatch’s Watchpoint in Gibraltar.”
Sombra looked at Elias in confusion. “Uh, Doctor. Why are we heading out for a full-on op? I could easily just hacked their servers and gotten whatever you needed.”
Elias chuckled. “You may think that, Sombra. However, Overwatch’s security over their servers are quite extensive. During my tenure with them, I was told that one of the major security features was a lockdown sequence that’s activated anytime an outside source of any kind tries breaking into the servers. This makes simply hacking into them almost impossible.”
Elias paced in front of them and said, “And that’s why I asked to be placed in temporary command of you three. You will attack the base, drawing attention away from me while I gain access to the servers.”
“You seem confident in this plan,” Reaper said.
Elias smirked. “Of course I am. Prep yourselves, we will arrive shortly.”
Angela was sitting in her office in the Watchpoint’s medical bay. She was filling out report after report for Jack and Ann, her fingers and eyes aching. She knew she should take a break, but she was stubborn and persisted.
Angela looked up and smiled when she saw Moira walking in, two mugs of coffee in her hands.
“Hello, Moira,” Angela replied as she gratefully accepted one of the mugs from Moira.
“Paperwork killing you too?” Moira asked as she took a sip.
Angela nodded and she took a sip of her coffee. She sighed and said, “Amazing, as usual.”
Moira chuckled. “I’m glad I didn’t lose my touch.”
Angela giggled. She shook her head lightly and said, “This seems unreal. Like a dream, almost. I never thought, after everything that happened all that time ago, you’d be here.”
Moira nodded softly. “Believe it, Angie. I’m here, and I’m going nowhere.”
Angela smiled and looked into Moira’s mismatched eyes. Slowly, Moira leaned down, and Angela began tilting her head up. Their lips were inching closer and closer…
The deafening blare of the base’s alarms ruined the moment. The two women glanced at each other in confusion, wondering what was happening when Jack yelled over the intercom.
“All agents! Talon dropship approaching fast! Prepare for defense!”
Angela scooted out from her chair and ran to the hardlight mannequin holding her Valkyrie Suit. She deactivated the hardlight and stepped in. The suit formed around her body and she grabbed her Caduceus Staff.
“Come one, Moira! Let’s get going!” Moira nodded and followed Angela out of the office and towards the main hall where the rest of the agents were gathering, ready to fight.
The side door to the dropship opened and Elias gripped the side as he looked out. Anger flashed in his eyes upon seeing the Watchpoint.
“We’re here! Ready up!” he shouted.
Reaper, Widowmaker, and Sombra readied their weapons and equipment and stood to the open door. They were closing in on the base.
“Remember! Keep them distracted while I break into the servers!” Elias commanded.
“Will do, Doc,” Reaper growled. The dropship slowed down and the three agents leaped from the side, making their way towards the base. Immediately, gunfire was being exchanged between the two forces.
“Pilot! Take me to the rear of the base!” Elias yelled.
The dropship turned away and flew away from the main battle and to a more secluded part of the base. Elias hopped from the open doorway and snuck his way to the side of the base. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew another small device. He clamped it to the wall and pushed a button. A blue pulse was set off and a secret door suddenly opened.
Smirking, Elias ran into the open doorway, finding himself in a dimly-lit hall. Pulling up the base’s schematics on his hand-held device from earlier, Elias slowly made his way through the hall.
“Hold them here!” Jack shouted as he shot a burst of his Pulse Rifle.
The Talon agents had breached the Watchpoint, and now the Overwatch agents were fighting them through the halls.
Brigitte blocked a flurry of shots from Reaper with her shield. “What are they doing here?!”
Lena appeared and yelled, “No idea! But we aren’t going to give up!” She proceeded to Blink and rushed towards where Widowmaker was perched.
“Whatever it is they want, we’re not going to let them have it!” Jack yelled.
Elias turned another corner, looking to the map again to make sure he was going the right way. The halls seemed to become more compact as he moved through them.
“Good Lord, they can’t put up directories anywhere, can they?” Elias asked himself.
Finally, Elias looked up and saw a large door. When he looked down, Elias smiled as he found that he was right where he wanted to be.
Elias deactivated the device and approached the door. When he reached the door, a terminal appeared, and a cool voice said, “Please enter credentials.”
His brows furrowing, Elias hesitantly reached out towards the terminal. “I wonder,” he asked himself. He began putting in his old access code with Overwatch. He hit the last key and pushed ‘Enter’.
Two seconds later the voice said, “Access granted,” and the door hissed as it opened.
Elias blinked in surprise. A smirk formed on his lips. “Really?” He sighed as he walked in. “They’re so careless.”
However, what Elias didn’t notice was the laser tripwire on the floor, which he stepped through as he walked into the server room.
Winston was overseeing the battle from the Watchpoint’s command center when another alarm began going off. His eyes scanned all over before they widened as he saw what it was for.
“Agents! We have an unauthorized presence in the server room!” Winston yelled into the communicator.
“Lock it down, Winston!” Jack commanded.
Winston typed a few commands into his terminal, but each one was denied; the servers hadn’t locked down.
“I can’t, Jack!” Winston said. “The only way someone could be there is if they had Overwatch access!”
“Impossible,” Ana said. “All agents are accounted for.”
“I don’t care! I want whoever is closest to the servers down there now!” Jack yelled.
Winston brought up another screen and scanned through to see where all of the agents were. He found who was closest and got back on the communicator.
“Angela, you’re closest! Get down to the server room!” Winston yelled.
“What?! I cannot leave you without a healer!” Angela protested.
Another voice chimed in. “Angie, they’ve got me! Just get to the server room!” Moira yelled.
There was a huff and then Angela said, “Fine.” She added, “No one had better be hurt while I am gone!”
“Sure thing, Mum!” Lena chimed. She suddenly yelped and the sound of a sniper shot rang in the background.
Angela ran from her cover with the battle and towards the elevator. She clicked the button and got inside. She pushed the button below the basement labs and readied herself as the door slid shut.
Elias slowly walked into the expansive server room. His gaze traveled all around to the server stacks that were on the sides of the room, blinking lights illuminating the otherwise near-dark room.
Looking ahead, Elias found a large screen overtaking most of the wall, a terminal sitting in front of it.
Elias smiled as he stopped in front of the terminal. He gazed down and chuckled.
“Too easy.” He pressed a key on the terminal.
The elevator opened and Angela sprinted from it. She made her way through the winding halls, knowing exactly where to go. She rounded the final corner and found the door to the server room was wide open.
“Scheisse,” Angela muttered. She ran through the open door and into the server room. She instantly saw someone, a man, standing at the terminal, searching through the servers.
Angela withdrew her sidearm and aimed at the man. “Freeze!” she shouted. The man’s head shifted up but did nothing else.
“Step away from the terminal,” Angela commanded.
The man didn’t move. Suddenly, Angela heard a chuckle come from him.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he said in an amused tone. “Of all the people to find me, it had to be you. Didn’t it, Angela Ziegler?”
Angela’s brow furrowed. “How do you know who I am?” she asked.
The man sighed. “Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the feminine, Swiss accent I’ve heard so many times.”
Angela noticed the venom dripping in his voice. “Who are you? Show yourself!” Angela demanded.
The man shifted and said, “Really? You don’t recognize me by my voice, Angela?” He fully turned around.
Angela’s eyes widened and she gasped.
“I’m hurt,” Elias Mahler said with a sneer.
Angela was rooted to the spot. Mahler. Elias Mahler. Here. How?
“E-Elias?” Angela asked with uncertainty.
Elias smiled. “Yes. So you do remember. How’ve you been, Angela? You’re looking as lovely as ever.”
Angela shook her head. “What…what are you doing here?”
Elias smirked. “Oh, nothing. Just acquiring some necessary materials for my new employers.”
“New employers?” Angela questioned. Her eyes widened when realization dawned on her. “No. You’re…with Talon?”
“Bingo!” Elias exclaimed.
Angela shook her head and looked back to Elias in disbelief. “How could you? You know what they are. They go against everything you stand for. Everything you-”
“Shut up, Ziegler!” Elias yelled. “They don’t go everything I stand for, they go against everything you stand for!”
Elias began pacing back and forth in front of the terminal. “After my dismissal from Overwatch and the revocation of my doctorate I was ruined. I had no money, no work, I was at my end. I had a gun pointed to my head.” Elias took a deep breath. “But before I could pull the trigger, Talon saved me. Our interests aligned, and they promised me everything I could want, all for my services.”
Elias turned and typed something into the terminal. Suddenly, Angela saw her Caduceus Staff research pop on the screen.
“You’re creating that wretched beam again?!” Angela exclaimed.
Elias chuckled darkly. “Right again, Ziegler. Two for two,” he said as he inserted a data drive.
Angela steeled herself and aimed her sidearm once again at Elias. “You know I won’t let that happen. I will stop you.”
Elias’s face fell. “And that, Angela, is where you are wrong.” He reached to his hip and withdrew his sidearm. He sent a burst of fire at Angela, which she dodged and returned fire.
Back and forth the two exchanged gunfire, the shots missing each of them by inches. Elias threw his sidearm at Angela, which she also dodged but allowed Elias to rush and throw a few punches. Angela deflected his strikes with her staff, but he was relentless.
“The future is inevitable, Angela! It cannot be stopped! I will not stop for morals and ethics when the human race is close to annihilation!” Elias bellowed between hits.
Angela continued to block him. “Your idea of science belongs in fiction, not reality!” She pushed him away and struck him once with her staff. Knocking him back, Angela swung her staff, knocking Elias off of his feet and onto his back. Quickly, Angela ran and kneeled next to him, pressing her sidearm to Elias’s forehead.
Below, Elias looked at the gun and chuckled. “Go ahead, Angela. Do it.” He could see the hesitation in her eyes. “You say I’m a danger to the world, so why don’t you just kill me now?”
Angela looked down at Elias. He was playing her, trying to make her act against her ideals. Slowly, she withdrew the gun.
Unfortunately, Elias knew she wouldn’t do it, and grabbed her wrist. He slammed it into the ground, in turn activating the boosters on Angela’s wings. She yelled as they shot her into the opposite wall, her body crumbling to the floor.
“So gullible,” Elias said as he rose. He heard a chime and smiled when he saw the download was complete. He walked back to the terminal and removed the drive. Smiling, Elias reached for his communicator.
“Agents, I have what we came here for. Get back to the ship for evac,” he commanded. Elias began walking back out of the room. He looked to Angela, who was struggling to get back up.
“It was nice seeing you again, Angela. I’d love to stay and chat longer, but I’ve more important things to do.” Laughing, Elias exited the room and ran back down the winding halls before exiting through the back of the base. He looked above and found the dropship waiting.
The door opened and Elias jumped in. The other agents looked up at him expectantly. He in turn grinned and produced the data drive, tossing it in the air.
“Good work, agents. We made a nice impression,” he said. Elias turned and yelled, “Pilot! We are done here! Take us back!”
The dropship ascended some more and took off, flying passed the Watchpoint and back towards the Talon base, with Angela’s research onboard.
The Overwatch agents were cleaning up the main hall from the battle that took place. Surprisingly, the only injury was Lena being grazed by one of Widowmaker’s shots, which Moira was patching up.
“You know, Lena, you’ll keep getting shot if you keep letting the lovely sniper distract you,” Moira said as she finished wrapping Lena’s arm.
Lena scoffed. “I am not getting distracted.” Moira noticed the blush on the Brit’s cheeks.
“Sure,” Moira said.
Jack walked through the group and said, “This makes no sense. Talon launches an attack against us, basically fire a couple of shots, and then takes off. What did they hope to gain?”
“They didn’t hope, they got it.”
Jack and the others looked and saw Angela approaching; her wings were slightly damaged.
“Angela,” Jack said in relief. “What happened? Did you stop whoever was in the server room?”
Angela shook her head. “No. I confronted him, but he bested me and stole my Caduceus Staff research.”
Jack’s brow furrowed. “Your research? Why would he-”
“Jack, it was Mahler,” Angela interrupted.
The area went quiet as the group digested the news. Not surprisingly, Moira wasn’t fazed.
“Who’s Mahler?” she asked.
Angela looked up and answered, “Doctor Elias Mahler was our R&D scientist. He was brought in after our Recall. He had such promise. However, his ambition took a dark turn when he used my research to create a horrible weapon. He was removed and the U.N. revoked his doctorate.”
Moira whistled. “And I guess he found a new calling.”
“Sounds familiar,” Jack mumbled.
“Not now, Jack,” Angela said. She looked up and noticed Moira looking at her feet.
“Regardless, we now must realize that our easy streak with Talon might be coming to an abrupt end. We must now be better prepared,” Angela said. She sighed and said, “My wings need repairs, and we need to fix this place up. For now, we wait until we discover Talon’s and Mahler’s next move.”
The door hissed and Elias walked into his lab, speeding to the nearest work station. He pulled the data drive from his pocket and inserted it into one of the inputs on the table. The files immediately opened and appeared before Elias.
“Yes,” Elias breathed. He tapped on one file, showing the smaller details of Ziegler’s nanotechnology.
“I see that the mission was a success.”
Elias looked up and saw Donovan walking in. Elias smiled and nodded. “I acquired what I needed.”
Donovan walked around the table and looked at the files. “Incredible. Just utterly ingenious.”
“Technology that has the power to change the world, and it’s used to heal wounds,” Elias said. He tapped another file, opening its contents.
“So, Doctor Mahler, how long before we can see this project completed?” Donovan asked.
Elias looked up and answered, “While I did say it would be easy to redevelop, it may be about a month, maybe one and a half.”
Donovan nodded and said, “Well, maybe you can get it done in three weeks.”
Elias looked up in confusion. “Three weeks? It took me longer when I first created this beam. There’s so much I have to go through.”
Donovan chuckled. “Doctor Mahler, your work with Overwatch is far different from Talon.” He began walking away to the exit but stopped before walking out. “When we ask for something, you will deliver.” His face fell into a slight frown to emphasize his point. “Three weeks,” he added before he exited the lab.
Elias’s brow furrowed as his gaze followed Donovan out. He looked down at the files; there was no way he’d finish in three weeks. Nonetheless, Elias opened another file and started his work.
Chapter 10: Wicked Deeds
Angela was alone in the Watchpoint’s command center. She found herself staying here for long hours for nearly a month after the Watchpoint attack. She was looking all over the screen in front of her, on the lookout for any activity relating to Talon…and Elias.
She couldn’t believe it. Angela hadn’t forgotten Elias’s threats at the U.N. hearing, but she never thought that he’d fall into Talon’s embrace. It seemed no one was impervious to their corruption.
“Back here again, Angie?”
Angela turned and found Moira walking in. She stood next to Angela and asked, “How’s the search?”
Sighing, Angela answered, “Nothing. Talon seems to be lying low.”
Moira nodded. “This Elias seems interesting.”
Angela sighed. “He was so promising. Unfortunately, he became too-”
“-much like me?” Moira completed.
Angela stilled and slowly nodded. “He did show complete disregard for morals and ethics when I confronted him on his experiment and stealing my research. His outburst during the U.N. hearing still rings in my ears.”
Moira leaned onto the table and said, “Watching the screens late into the night isn’t going to help.”
Angela took a breath. “No, but we must keep vigilant.”
“I’ll get us some coffee then,” Moira said as she stood up straight and walked out of the room. Angela once more set her eyes on the large holographic map before her.
Donovan briskly walked through the halls leading to Elias’s lab. He was slightly agitated; Mahler was two weeks behind schedule and he hadn’t seen any results from the scientist.
“He will not get away with this like O’Deorain!” he spat as he appeared before the door. He scanned his card and it slid open. He walked inside, finding the lights still on.
“Mahler!” Donovan called out. “I’m here to see your results!”
“Calm yourself, Donovan,” a voice called from the far side of the room. Donovan turned and saw Elias walking towards him. He was wearing only his pants and a strange harness attached to him. It wrapped around his abdomen and ran up his back, splitting off into two apparatuses that attached to his arms.
“It is complete,” Elias said sinisterly. He turned and outstretched his hands. Two projectors formed in Elias’s palms. His thumbs flexed and a red pulse of energy formed. Suddenly, two beams shot out and blasted the table in front of him. It disintegrated and when Elias moved his hands they had disintegrated two more tables.
Elias’s thumbs lifted and the beams disappeared. With a self-satisfied smile, he turned to Donovan. Donovan, in turn, nodded, impressed.
“Impressive, Doctor Mahler,” he praised. He approached and said, “Very impressive.”
Elias smiled. “Thank you, Donovan. This is a true marvel of modern science.”
Donovan nodded in agreement. “A shame that fools like Ziegler don’t see it that way.”
“Precisely,” Elias said as he looked at the projectors on his arms. “However, now that they are developed, I feel that their effectiveness can be bolstered.”
“How?” Donovan asked.
Elias walked around. “I’m unsure.” He walked back to another table, his hands sliding over it. “Tell me, Donovan, when Doctor O’Deorain suddenly left, did she leave anything at all behind?”
Donovan shook his head. “No. We found nothing of value to us.”
Elias sighed. “Of course,” he mumbled. “I mean did she leave anything at all?”
Donovan thought for a minute. “We never searched.”
Elias shook his head as he walked towards one of the lab's terminals. “You are just like Ziegler.”
“What?” Donovan asked, slightly agitated.
Elias began typing into the terminal and answered, “You scratch at the surface, never able to see what is beneath, what can be uncovered.” Elias found a file on his screen and opened it, revealing a few files that weren’t his own.
“Well, it seems O’Deorain did leave a few things behind,” Elias said. He scanned through; almost all of them were simply notes. Suddenly, the last note he opened piqued his interest.
“And what have we got here?” Elias asked himself. He opened the file and found that it was simply another note. But this held the intel he needed.
“What is it?” Donovan asked.
“A memo by O’Deorain talking about some conceptual sketches on a combat suit she wished to develop, but never got around to it,” Elias explained.
“Combat suit?” Donovan questioned.
Elias nodded. “It seems she abandoned it due to unknown reasons, but I can see myself using it.”
“Where are these concept sketches?” Donovan asked.
“The memo says they are located in O’Deorain’s old lab at Oasis,” Elias answered.
Donovan sighed in frustration. “Well, that’s a problem. Ever since O’Deorain’s exit, she also left as Minister of Genetics at Oasis. She was our connection, and with her gone, we’ve lost our influence there.”
Elias looked at the memo and said, “I want those sketches.”
“Unfortunately we cannot give you a full team to storm the Science Building,” Donovan explained.
Elias smirked. “Nothing a one-man job can’t handle.”
“Are you sure you can handle this?” Donovan asked.
Elias chuckled. “Absolutely. And besides,” he activated the energy pulse and stared at it.
“I wish to take these for a test run.”
Jack, Ana, Winston, Angela, and Moira were gathered once more in the command center of the Watchpoint, going over reports from across the world of potential Talon operations. They were on the run for so long, but Elias’s joining threw things for a whirl.
“Whatever Talon is planning, Mahler is at the center of it,” Jack said.
Moira walked back towards one of the nearby screens when she felt a vibration and when she reached into her pocket she withdrew her data drive.
“Oh no,” Moira gasped. The rest looked up and saw Moira placing the data drive into the terminal.
“Moira, what’s wrong?” Angela asked as she and the others gathered around her.
Moira typed a few keys and said, “When I left Talon, I said how I destroyed anything that could’ve been useful for them. However, I couldn’t get to everything, so on any remaining files I added a simple tracker that would activate anytime one of the files were accessed.”
A screen pulled up and Moira read it. “The file opened was a memo I made about concept sketches on a combat suit.”
Angela leaned forward and said, “Wait a minute, isn’t that the suit with the mechanical arms?”
Moira nodded. “Yes, but I tossed it away because it wasn’t practical.”
“It seems someone finds it to be practical,” Ana stated.
“Mahler,” everyone said.
“Where are these sketches? We cannot let him get them,” Angela said.
Moira leaned back and said, “That’s the problem. They are in my old lab at Oasis. But after my exit, it’s entirely likely that I will be barred from my lab.”
“Whether you are allowed or not doesn’t matter. We need to stop Mahler,” Jack said.
Moira nodded. “Best leave it to Angela and me.”
Ana walked up and said, “I agree. Moira, Angela, either retrieve the intel, stop Mahler, or both.”
The two women nodded and exited the room. Jack crossed his arms as he watched them leave.
“Something sinister is coming. I can feel it.”
Elias never was a fan of hot weather. But the desert was another beast entirely. He held his hand up to shield his eyes as he looked around.
Wiping a bit of sweat from his brow, Elias pressed a button on his earpiece. “Pilot, come in.”
“I read you, sir.”
Elias nodded. “Good. Remain on standby. When I activate the beacon, you get here quick.”
Elias turned off the earpiece and looked up. The Oasis Science Building stood before him. Slicking a few stray hairs back, Elias made his way up the steps.
Opening the door, Elias sighed in relief as a wave of cold air went over him. He looked around the lobby, which was bright from the ceiling window. His eyes were scanning for any signs of where he needed to go. Eventually, his eyes landed on the front desk. An attractive, young woman was sitting behind it.
Elias smirked as a plan already formulated in his mind. He made his way towards the desk, making sure to make eye contact with the receptionist. She met his gaze and returned the smile. Finally, Elias reached the desk and leaned on it.
“Why, hello there,” Elias said in a charm-filled voice.
The receptionist giggled and said, “Hello. Welcome to the Oasis Science Building. My name is Elizabeth. How can I help you?”
Elias stood up straight. “Such a beautiful name. Mind if I say a cuter, shorter version? Like ‘Lizzie’?”
Elizabeth giggled again. “You know how to use your words.”
Elias let out a throaty chuckle. “I use my most charming words for beautiful women. And my dear, you are putting my vocabulary to the test.”
Another giggle escaped Elizabeth. She collected herself and asked, “I-Is there anything I can help you with?”
Elias shook his head as though snapping back to reality. “Oh, yes. Yes, I’m sorry. I am Doctor Elias Mahler. I am an associate of Doctor Moira O’Deorain. Are you familiar with her?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yes. She was the Minister of Genetics.”
Elias feigned confusion. “Was? What do you mean?”
“Well, Doctor O’Deorain all of a sudden stopped showing up here. I overheard some of the other higher-ups that she was dismissed,” Elizabeth explained.
Elias laughed and shook his head. “Oh, you cannot trust those old fools.” He collected himself and said, “Doctor O’Deorain hasn’t been dismissed. She is simply taking some much needed time off and afterward went to an extensive science conference.”
“Oh,” Elizabeth said. She looked up to Elias and said, “Well, I hope she’s enjoying her time.”
Elias nodded. “Recently, Doctor O’Deorain contacted me. She asked me to retrieve some files from her old lab.” He pointed around the lobby and said, “However, I don’t know my way around here.” He looked back to Elizabeth and said, “I was hoping you could help me.”
Elizabeth’s smile fell. “Umm, unfortunately since Doctor O’Deorain left, her lab has been locked down. Unauthorized personnel aren’t allowed in her lab and I’m not to give away where it is.”
“Oh, come on, Elizabeth,” Elias pleaded. “Do I look like an untrustworthy person?”
Elizabeth quickly shook her head. “Oh no, no. You look extremely handsome- I mean, trustworthy. But, I need this job, and-”
“Elizabeth,” Elias said in a soothing voice. His bare hand lifted her chin. “You can trust me.” He leaned back and said, “Look, here’s what I’ll do: you tell me where Doctor O’Deorain’s lab is and I’ll get down there, get what I need, and come right back. If anyone stops me, I’ll say how you begged me not to do it, but I put your warnings off.”
Elizabeth looked around, her lower lip between her teeth. “Well…” she trailed off and looked back into Elias’s charming eyes. He flashed her a smile and a quick wink. “To there and back?” she asked.
Elias crossed his heart. “To there and back.”
Elizabeth paused once more. “Umm…” She trailed off again and looked back at Elias. O-Okay,” she said, nodding.
Elias chuckled. “I knew you’d come around.”
Elizabeth smiled and said, “Okay, take one of the elevators to your right and click the button labeled ‘Lower Level’. Immediately out of the elevator, take a left and continue until you reach a split. Take the right hall and then it will be the second smaller hallway.”
Elias pressed his hands together and said, “Thank you so much, Elizabeth.” He began walking away before stopping himself and turning back. “You know, maybe when I finish my work here, maybe you and I could grab dinner later.”
Elizabeth smiled. “R-Really?”
Nodding, Elias added, “I’ll be sure to hurry.” He walked back into the left elevator and clicked the button. A few moments later it opened. Elias walked in and looked back out. Elizabeth smiled and waved excitedly at Elias. He returned it as the door closed.
The second the door closed Elias’s smile fell. “Too easy.” He clicked the ‘Lower Level’ button and the elevator lurched as it descended. As he rode down, Elias adjusted his sleeves, ensuring his harness was still concealed.
The elevator dinged and Elias exited. He took the immediate left and walked down the dimly-lit hall until he reached the split. He turned right and walked towards the second hall connected to the main one.
Upon turning into the hall, Elias was greeted by two armed guards. One raised his hand and exclaimed, “State your business!”
Elias stopped and answered, “My name is Doctor Elias Mahler. I am here to grab some files on the behalf of my superior, Doctor Moira O’Deorain.”
That got Elias an immediate response; the guards raised their weapons.
“You are not authorized to be here! Leave now, or lethal force will be used! This is your first warning!”
Elias’s face looked at them in faux-confusion. “What? There’s no need for trouble. I simply need to grab a few things Doctor O’Deorain left behind.”
The guard didn’t budge. “You are not authorized to be here! Leave now, or lethal force will be used! This is your second warning!”
“Really? You’re going to kill me for being here even though I am an associate of Doctor O’Deorain?” Elias asked incredulously.
“You are not authorized to be here! Leave now, or lethal force will be used! This is your final warning!”
“My friends,” Elias said as his hands shifted, “You have no idea what you are dealing with.”
The guards deactivated the safeties on their guns. “Lethal force is authorized!”
Elias shook his head. “I warned you.” He raised his hands and flexed his thumbs. A few seconds later red energy pulsed in his hands and two beams shot out. The screams of the guards were present for only a split second before they faded away.
Elias deactivated the beams and looked at the door. He looked down and said, “I tried to play nice, I really did.” Elias proceeded to walk towards the door, passing the remains of the guards.
Angela and Moira exited the car they took into Oasis. Angela looked around, taken aback by the wonders the city held, and they were only in one spot.
“This place is amazing,” Angela remarked looking at Moira.
Moira nodded. “It is, but we must not become distracted. We have a job to do.”
“Of course,” Angela said. The two women walked away from the car and through the streets, passing by people on their way to work. Moira knew where she was going and thus led them through the city.
Moira suddenly perked her head up. “Up ahead. The Oasis Science Building.”
Angela followed her gaze and openly gawked. She was amazed, but there would be time to admire it later. She and Moira hurried across the street and into the courtyard.
“Let’s get in. Hopefully, Elias hasn’t beat us here,” Moira said. They walked up the steps and made their way inside. They both sighed at the cold air hitting them.
“Follow me. My lab is on the lower levels,” Moira said. She and Angela began walking towards the elevator when a female voice asked, “Doctor O’Deorain?”
Moira turned and saw a young woman sitting at the reception desk. She was waving at her.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” Moira greeted as she walked towards the desk.
“To you as well,” Elizabeth said. She looked to Moira’s left and gawked. “Oh my God! You’re Angela Ziegler! Mercy!” she exclaimed quietly.
Angela smiled and said, “Hello. Nice to meet you.”
Elizabeth looked back to Moira and asked, “So, Doctor O’Deorain, what are you doing here?”
“I need to grab a few important files from my lab,” Moira explained. “I know I unceremoniously left, but it is extremely important.”
Elizabeth looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean? I thought you sent an associate to collect some files.”
Moira’s eyes widened. “What?”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah. A man came in earlier and said he was an associate of yours. He said you left to take some personal time off and then left after that for a conference of some kind. He told me you asked him to collect some files from your lab.”
“What was his name?” Angela asked anxiously.
Not noticing their worrying looks, Elizabeth answered, “Elias Mahler.” She closed her eyes and sighed, “Tall, handsome, witty with words.”
Moira slammed her fist down. “Stupid girl! That man is not associated with me! He is a scientist connected to Talon, the terrorist organization!”
Elizabeth’s eyes snapped open. She shook her head and said, “N-No. He isn’t. He couldn’t. He seemed so trustworthy and-”
Moira huffed in frustration. “Forget it. We’ll go down ourselves.” She dragged Angela towards the elevator and entered it. She pushed the button for the lower level.
“Left for personal time,” Moira muttered.
“You should’ve gone a little easier on her,” Angela said. “Elias has been able to swindle others with his words.”
“The problem, Angela, is that her believing Elias may lead to disaster,” Moira said. The elevator continued and finally stopped. The door opened and Moira quickly led them towards her lab. She and Angela turned at the final corner. They stopped dead in their tracks; Angela gasped. On the ground in front of the door to Moira’s lab were two piles of what appeared to be ashes.
“What happened here?” Moira asked.
Angela pressed a button on her wrist comm and scanned the piles. She looked at the screen and her lip quivered. “I’m detecting traces of nanobots. This was Elias’s doing.”
Moira sighed. “Let’s get inside.” She opened the door and snuck in, followed by Angela. They quietly made their way in and entered the main lab. Just ahead, they found Elias standing at the main screen, a file already downloading into a data drive.
The two women knelt behind a table. Moira tapped on Angela and said, “I’ll distract him. You sneak around and grab the drive.” Angela nodded and crouched lower, sneaking beyond to the far side of the lab.
Moira stood tall and walked to the center of the lab, directly behind Elias. “Who are you?”
Elias looked up and turned around. He looked confused and asked, “What is it to you?”
“Well, you are in my lab?” Moira said matter-of-factly.
Elias suddenly smiled. “Doctor Moira O’Deorain, in person.” He clapped slowly and added, “Your reputation precedes you, Doctor.”
Moira nodded curtly. “Thank you. Now, who are you?”
“Doctor Elias Mahler,” he introduced. “Although, I believe you probably already knew that.”
Moira stilled for a moment. “By what do you mean?”
Elias chuckled. “Oh, I’m willing to wager that my old employers told you all about me.” He paced back and forth a little before adding, “After all, I believe Overwatch would be the only ones who would take you back.”
Moira couldn’t deny it; he was good. “Yes. I was also told of your views and practices.”
“You have no right to scold me about morals and ethics, Doctor O’Deorain. I believe you held similar views. And yet, you leave Talon and rejoin Overwatch.”
Elias pointed all around the lab. “I must ask one question: why? You had everything at your fingertips. Anything you wished to do, it could be done. And yet, you left.”
Moira fidgeted where she stood. “There were somethings far more important.”
Elias smirked. “More important.” He took a few steps forward and said, “You know, I did search all over this lab looking for what I needed. I noticed something interesting on your desk: a framed picture of Angela Ziegler.”
When Moira didn’t answer, Elias continued. “Wasn’t Ziegler a vocal critic of your work? Why have a framed photo of the woman who despised you?”
Elias suddenly backed up again, his smirk grew into a sinister grin. “Love can make us do stupid things.” He stopped before the large screen as he heard the download had completed.
“Am I right…Ziegler?!”
Elias swung his hand, missing Angela’s head by inches. She struck him once in the stomach, winding him. She ripped the data drive from its plugin and ran back through the lab, followed by Moira.
Collecting himself, Elias activated his beams and blasted. The beams missed the women, leaving massive burns in the walls. He pursued them, blasting anytime he caught a glimpse of them.
The women entered the elevator and quickly pushed the button for the lobby. They barely glanced at Elias before the door closed.
“We need to hurry and get out of here,” Angela gasped as she collected her breath.
Moira nodded and anxiously waited for the elevator to arrive at their floor. “You’ve got it, right?” she asked.
Angela nodded and held up the data drive. Moira nodded as well and her head snapped forward as the elevator chimed and opened. The two hurried out, but they only made it to the center of the lobby before the sound a door being destroyed. They turned around in time to see Elias walking out of the other elevator.
Moira turned and saw armed security running towards Elias. He shouted and raised his arms. Red beams shot from his hands and blasted each guard. Their screams echoed before fading away into dust.
“It’s over, Elias! We have the file!” Angela shouted.
Elias looked at Angela and then looked out of the corner of his eyes. He smirked and ran to the reception desk. He wrapped his arm around Elizabeth’s neck and activated one of the projectors, holding the energy beam on standby. “No, Ziegler, it’s not over,” he hissed.
Elizabeth screamed in terror as Elias gripped her tighter. He moved out from behind the desk, staring Angela dead in her eyes.
“I’ll make things simple: give me the data drive, or I disintegrate this girl all over the floor,” Elias hissed.
Angela gasped, her grip on the drive tightening as she looked at Elizabeth’s terror-stricken face.
“Angela, don’t do it,” Moira said. “We’ll have bigger problems on our hands if you give it up.”
Elias chuckled and said, “Come on, Ziegler. Make a choice. Let’s see where your moral compass guides you. Are you willing to sacrifice this life to stop me?”
Angela looked down at the drive, then back to Elias. She closed her eyes and said, “Okay, Elias. You win.”
Smirking, Elias said, “Good. Slide it on the ground to me.”
Angela knelt, setting the drive on the floor. She kicked it and it slid within a foot of Elias.
“Pick it up!” Elias spat. Still holding the beam projector to Elizabeth’s head, she knelt and grabbed the drive. Elias quickly grabbed it and pocketed it before wrapping his arm around her once again.
“Good. I’m glad you made the right decision,” Elias sneered. He pushed a button on his earpiece and tightened his grip.
“Whatever Talon is planning, they won’t succeed,” Moira stated.
Elias laughed. “You honestly think those fools would know what to do with these materials? This goes well beyond them and their views. But they have been a fantastic help.”
A loud boom went off and the sound of shattering glass echoed. Moira and Angela dived away while Elias stayed out of the radius.
Elias looked up and walked to the center of where the glass ceiling was. A tow cable descended and it attached to Elias’s harness. He laughed maniacally as he was lifted towards the ship.
Angela quickly got up and ran. Suddenly, the wings of her concealed Valkyrie suit ripped from her shirt and she took off towards Elias.
Looking down, Elias grinned and yelled, “You made the choice once, let’s see if you make it again!” He let go of Elizabeth.
Angela’s eyes widened as she saw Elizabeth fall; her screams piercing her ears. She diverted away from Elias and dove towards Elizabeth. Fortunately, she was close enough and was able to catch her. She slowly descended and landed back in the lobby.
Elizabeth was hysterically crying; both from the lie she had been told and the two times she almost was killed. Angela soothed her, whispering comforting words to calm her. She looked up and saw Moira looking to the dropship as it took off.
“Moira, I’m sorry. I really am, but I couldn’t let him kill her,” Angela pleaded. Moira looked at her, but she wasn’t mad.
Sighing, Moira said, “Let’s get this girl some help and get back to the Watchpoint. Our problems are nowhere close to being resolved.
Elias entered his lab; excitement clear in his posture and face. He removed the drive from his pocket and inserted it into a plugin. The file appeared and he opened it; the sketches appeared before his eyes.
“Created by Doctor Moira O’Deorain,” Elias marveled. There weren’t any specifics, but Elias felt he could work with it.
“A successful operation, I take it.”
Elias looked up and was able to hide his annoyance when he saw Donovan walk in. He nonetheless nodded.
“Yes, Donovan,” Elias replied. “This combat suit appears to be exactly what I envisioned.”
“So, how long before it can be ready?” Donovan inquired.
Elias shook his head. “Donovan, these aren’t blueprints. These are just sketches. It could take months to prepare something even half-”
“We don’t accept excuses, Elias. We want results,” Donovan interrupted.
Elias looked at Donovan, his brow creased. “You ask the impossible. Do you realize how much work is required?”
“I do not care. I made it quite clear: we ask, you deliver,” Donovan said. “We want a complete unit in a month.”
Elias felt his anger rising. “A month?! That’s outrageous! Even O’Deorain probably couldn’t get that!”
“Elias, you will do as I and your superiors command!” Donovan shouted. He turned quickly and walked back out the door. A split-second later a glass beaker hit the door, followed by a shout from Elias.
“I am nobody’s slave!” he yelled. He walked back to the sketches and said, “This creation will be the pinnacle of scientific prowess. I will show them. I will show them all!”
Chapter 11: True Colors
Elias was walking through the dark halls of the Talon base back to his lab. In his hands was his datapad that held his notes on the progress of the combat suit he was constructing. The project was taking a toll on him, both from sheer exhaustion and the demands of his superiors.
Suddenly, Elias heard footsteps running behind him. He glanced briefly, sighing in annoyance when he saw another scientist, Doctor Harold Boyd, quickly approaching him.
“Doctor Mahler!” he said in excitement. “Doctor Mahler, may I have just a moment of your time?”
“No,” Elias simply said as he kept walking.
Boyd was persistent. “Please, Doctor Mahler. I need the insight of someone with your-”
“Fine!” Elias snapped. “What is it?”
Boyd smiled as he showed Elias a schematic on his datapad. “It’s something revolutionary. It’s an A.I. enhancement apparatus. When added to an A.I.’s central mind, it can strengthen the A.I.’s intelligence, thus making it more efficient.”
Elias rolled his eyes. “Why not just create a smarter A.I.?”
“Because, if this enhancement is added to an existing A.I., then it would continue to carry out its main functions, but with increased ‘awareness’ to its environment, allowing it to solve problems quicker, all without the potential glitches that come with creating a new program. This enhancement could beat out any new A.I. that’s created,” Boyd explained.
Elias looked ahead as he kept walking. “Hmm, a self-aware and smart artificial intelligence. What could go wrong?”
Boyd laughed. “Oh, Doctor Mahler, this isn’t anything like-”
Elias stopped and looked back to his colleague. “Look, you can work on your little project all you want. Now, leave me. I have more important things to attend to.”
Boyd stopped and stammered a few words before nodding quickly and turning away. Elias sighed in relief that he left and continued towards his lab. However, as he walked passed an opening to another hallway, he overheard someone talking.
“Mahler seems to be doing well.”
Elias stopped in his tracks, recognizing the voice as Sombra’s. He turned and walked down the hall just as someone else spoke.
“Torres made a good choice finding him,” Donovan said.
“All he needed was a little push,” Sombra added.
Elias stopped just outside the door as Donovan said, “I daresay your plan was more than a ‘little push’.”
Elias’s brow furrowed. What were they talking about?
“I was told ‘any means necessary’. It wasn’t hard to find his bank accounts and freeze them,” Sombra said with a small chuckle.
“And the video of him at his U.N. hearing? How exactly did you manage that?” Donovan asked.
“I simply followed him wherever he went and sent it to his potential employers. I was lucky I caught him in time before he offed himself in his apartment,” Sombra explained.
Elias’s eyes widened. His teeth gritted together as he shook with rage. But he didn’t cause an outburst; he wanted to hear more.
“Well, thanks to your methods, we now have someone that far surpasses O’Deorain. And this one also knows his place,” Donovan said.
“And what if he forgets that?” Sombra asked.
Donovan chuckled. “We won’t have to worry about that. We’ll remind him that he has nowhere else to go but us. And if he does present a problem, well then, I meant it when I said that by joining us, he’d vanish.”
Hearing enough, Elias turned and walked back to his lab, his anger bubbling dangerously close to the surface. Once he reached his lab, he walked to his main work station, grabbed a glass beaker, and threw it against the wall.
“They are the ones responsible for this!” he shouted. He walked to his half-complete combat suit and grabbed one of the tools and threw it against the wall. “Those bastards pushed me into further ruin! All so that they could use me!”
Elias steadied himself as he slammed his hands down next to the suit. Breathing in one last time, Elias said to himself, “Well Donovan, this little game has turned against you. You will pay for this.”
As if by cue, the door opened and Elias heard Donovan speak. “Mahler, what’s going on?”
Elias feigned ignorance and asked without turning, “What do you mean?”
“I heard shouts from here,” Donovan stated.
Standing fully, Elias turned around, keeping his face from contorting with rage after seeing Donovan. “Just shouts of triumph. I feel that I have finally gotten passed the small block in my progress.”
Donovan smiled. “Wonderful. So, it will be done on time?”
Elias sighed and said, “I am working as fast as I can, Donovan, but the amount of effort needed for this project is-”
“Mahler, I’ve made it known that I do not want excuses,” Donovan said. “This suit must be completed in time for the presentation.”
“Presentation?” Elias asked. He turned back to the suit and added, “What are you talking about?”
“All of the major Talon leaders, as well as the entire Inner Council, are meeting at our headquarters in Venice to present our organization’s next steps for our plans,” Donovan explained.
Elias’s eyes flashed. He lightly smirked and replied, “Really? That sounds like quite a prestigious event.”
“Indeed it is. And you are the star of the show,” Donovan stated.
Turning once again, Elias said, “Then I will triple my efforts to ensure that it will be done by the given time.”
Donovan smiled again. “Good, Mahler.” He began walking out of the lab while saying, “I expect to be thoroughly impressed at its showing.”
“Trust me, Donovan,” Elias said, turning back around as the door closed behind him. His mouth turned into a menacing smirk.
“It will be one Hell of a reveal.”
Angela and the other senior Overwatch members were once more gathered in the command center. Jack walked in with reports from their agents sent into the field.
“Nothing,” he growled slamming down the papers. “Five agents spread across Europe, at least four intelligence organizations at our backs, and several private-sector agencies, and not one can find a single trace of where Mahler is, let alone Talon’s operations.”
“We have to keep looking,” Angela said. “Who knows what catastrophe will come next if Elias continues his twisted experiments.”
Ana stepped forward and said, “Angela, we are trying our hardest, but you know that Talon isn’t exactly keen on being found. We have to dig into the deepest holes to find them.”
“Then we keep digging!” Angela snapped. She realized her raised voice and sighed. “I’m sorry, Ana.”
Jack stepped forward, placing a comforting hand on Angela’s shoulder. “Angela, you’ve been cooped up in here for too long looking for him. Why don’t you get some rest? We’ll handle this.”
Angela sighed. “You are right, Jack. But I can’t.”
Jack let his hand drop from her shoulder. “I’ll get back with all of our contacts.”
Moira stepped forward and said, “We also have another piece of this puzzle. Angela, don’t you remember what Mahler said at Oasis?”
Angela nodded. “Yes. He said something about Talon only being ‘tools’, and that he had plans bigger than they could imagine.”
“What did he mean by that?” Ana asked.
Angela thought for a moment and replied, “I feel that Elias might just be using Talon for his own gains.”
“We don’t have time to think about theories to Mahler’s true plans. Our priority is stopping him and Talon.”
With that, everyone in the room walked back to their designated stations. Angela stared back at the center viewscreen. A picture of Elias was staring back at her.
“What are you planning?”
Several conversations were being carried out within the large gathering of people in the room. Men and women were dressed to the nines, drinking high-end alcohol all while along the perimeter of the room several armed soldiers were acting as security.
High above the gathering, silhouetted from view, Reaper, Widowmaker, and Sombra all stood at the large viewing window down to the people below: the Talon leadership.
“Looks like a full house,” Sombra said as she looked over the room.
Reaper growled. “I hate events like this. I made it clear I was not attending.”
Sombra giggled. “You would’ve looked great in a suit. Akande always wants a reason to look sharp.” All three looked at Akande’s imposing figure wearing an all-black suit, mingling through the crowd of people.
“More power to him,” Reaper said dismissively.
“What are they waiting for?” Widowmaker asked.
“Mahler most likely. I heard that he’s presenting his little pet project,” Reaper answered.
Suddenly, the talk below ceased and was replaced with applause as Donovan walked onto a small stage and stood behind a podium. He waved and acknowledged the applause.
“Show’s starting,” Sombra commented as the others looked on to hear Donovan speak.
Back on the floor, Donovan cleared his throat and leaned into the microphone. “Friends, fellow leaders of Talon, I welcome all of you to Venice. I have invited you here today to give you a glimpse into our organization’s future.”
Smiling, Donovan said, “With that, I will now pass the talking to the man behind this great leap towards our goal.” He pointed his hand and said, “May I present Doctor Elias Mahler.”
A door next to the stage slowly opened, and out stepped a man wearing an all-black armored suit. Red light activated at the center of the suit, lighting up lines that ran along his arms and legs. The helmet was reminiscent of one that Talon soldiers wore but much more streamlined.
There was a faint glow behind the suit and suddenly, four long arms materialized seemingly out of thin air, ending with four sharp fingers. The center of each “hand” glowed with a pulsating red light.
The helmet opened a little before it dematerialized, revealing the face of a young man. He smirked as he looked over the room and then to Donovan.
“Thank you for those words of welcome, Donovan,” Elias said. He turned to the crowd of Talon leaders and spoke.
“Leaders of Talon. I come before you a man of humble origins. I lost my family at a young age, excelled in school, and earned my doctorate at one of the best universities. All of that, I achieved through hard work and perseverance. And yet, despite my achievements, I still didn’t know what I wished to do. Then, I thought that I had found my purpose, and so joined with an organization I thought would allow me to utilize my skills: Overwatch.”
There were noises of annoyance and disgust at Elias’s comment. He smiled and continued.
“Indeed, your reactions are just. After a few months of being there, they became afraid of me. I showed potential and thinking that didn’t align with their views. And so, to protect themselves, I was removed and everything I had worked so hard for was stripped from me.”
Taking a breath, Elias continued. “I was ruined. I had nowhere else to turn. And just when I thought I had reached the end, that there was no hope, Talon saved me.” Elias saw several smiles among the leaders.
“Through them, I was able to not only work to my potential but well beyond even what I thought I was capable of. Through them, through you, I have created a true marvel of science and technology.”
Elias raised his hands, and in doing so, the four mechanical arms stretched as well. “Behold! The culmination of my genius!”
There was silence for a moment but it was quickly broken by the sound of someone chuckling. It grew into full-on laughter, which Elias noticed was coming from a man standing near the front.
“Is something funny to you, sir?” Elias asked, agitation laced in his voice.
The man collected himself and said, “Yeah. We came out here to see what? A glow in the dark squid costume?” He doubled over in laughter again, earning a few small chuckles from the people around him.
Elias merely smirked as he walked to the stage’s edge. He chuckled along with the man and said, “Oh no, my friend. It is so much more than that.”
Elias’s smile fell as one of his mechanical arms swung over his head and grabbed the man by his chest. His laughter died instantly as the arm hauled him to within a few feet of Elias. The scientist gave him a steely glare.
“How would you like to demonstrate it?” Elias growled.
There was a short pulse and a red light brightened on the hand holding the man. The light suddenly flashed and the man was disintegrated right in front of everyone, his screams fizzling away with his remains.
Gasps of shock resonated throughout the room. High above, two Talon agents’ eyes widened while the other was completely unfazed.
“I never liked that guy,” Reaper said.
As the red glow subsided, Elias looked around the room and asked, “Any other crude comments?” His question was answered with various headshakes.
Elias smirked. “Good. Now, before I was so rudely interrupted, I was explaining how this suit is a culmination of my genius by utilizing the technology of two of the greatest minds in our modern world.”
Pointing to the pile of ashes, Elias said, “The beam that just made short work of your colleague is based on the same beam used by Doctor Angela Ziegler, otherwise known as ‘Mercy’, in her Caduceus Staff’s healing beam. I have taken the technology and created something far more practical.”
Opening his arms, Elias explained, “And the suit itself I created using nothing more than conceptual sketches created by my predecessor with both Overwatch and Talon, Doctor Moira O’Deorain.”
Elias smirked again as he talked more. “The suit is strong enough to shrug off any small arms fire, can withstand extreme heat and cold, strength enhancements, radiation protection, and one last feature that I feel I won’t need, a simple A.I. built into each arm that acts as a safety in the event I am ever incapacitated for any reason. However, with the strengths of this suit, it will not be needed.”
Elias was about to speak again when Donovan cut in. “Very impressive, Mahler. Very impressive indeed.” He turned to the crowd, a victorious smile on his face.
“Leaders of Talon, as you can see this is the very stepping stone for our ultimate plan of creating a better world through conflict. Imagine, only a few agents wearing these suits; they would be able to create the chaos and discord necessary to crush our enemies. We will bring the major powers of the world to their knees!”
Collecting himself, Donovan continued. “And once the dust settles, humanity will see that our views are what’s best for the world, and thus, they will bend their knees to their new masters: Talon!”
Cheers erupted from the crowd at Donovan’s words. He basked in the praise that was being heaped onto him while Elias stood at his side wearing a blank face.
“The entire world bending their knees to Talon,” Elias repeated. He smirked as one of his mechanical arms slowly rose behind Donovan.
In a flash, the arm swung and slammed into Donovan, knocking him away several feet into a table. The crowd gasped and looked up at Elias, whose smirk turned into an evil smile as his helmet rematerialized back over his head. All four arms rose, their centers glowing brighter.
Suddenly, several flashes went off as the beams from the arms fired into the crowd. The fading screams of the people were mixed with the shouts of those trying to escape.
As the beams continued to blast their way through the people, several Talon soldiers began surrounding him. But they didn’t last long as two of the arms stopped firing and grabbed two of the soldiers, brutally slamming them into each other.
The Talon leaders tried escaping through the doors, but they were quickly killed by the beam’s long reach. Once they had all been dealt with, the remaining Talon soldiers still rushed him.
Deactivating the beams. Elias laughed maniacally as all four arms grabbed onto the heads of four soldiers. The fours hands quickly tightened around their heads; the soldiers all went limp.
Donovan groaned as he rolled over to see the onslaught in front of him. Mahler had grabbed two more soldiers and disintegrated them in his grasp. The final soldier decided to flee and started running for the exit, but Mahler fired all four beams at him; he didn’t stand a chance.
“What are you doing?!” Donovan shouted. “What are you doing?!”
Elias turned and found Donovan lying on the remains of the table. He slowly walked over and grabbed him with one of his arms. He hauled him to his feet as his helmet dematerialized.
Smirking, Elias said, “Isn’t it obvious? I am using this suit for what you stated it’s too be used for: ‘To crush our enemies’.” The grip tightened around Donovan as Elias added, “You really should find better places to have your secret conversations about those who work for you.”
“What are you talking about?” Donovan asked.
Elias chuckled. “I overheard you and Sombra talking about your little scheme to get me. It was you who pushed me to the brink of taking my own life. And look where it got you.”
Donovan gritted his teeth and hissed, “We helped you, Mahler. You were nothing, and we made you into something.”
Elias punched him in the stomach. “Your lies and deceit are what brought me here. You were so blinded by your arrogance that you didn’t even realize I was planning this for weeks. And just like that, I have eliminated a major obstacle that had the capabilities to stop my grand plans.”
Throwing Donovan to the ground, Elias aimed all four beams at him. “I will thank you however for providing me the necessary materials to make this all a reality. I owe this all to you. Goodbye, Donovan.”
Donovan’s eyes flashed and he moved to attempt to strike at Elias, but the four beams fired and Donovan was disintegrated; his shouts fading away like the others’.
Elias looked down at the remains of Donovan and took a deep breath. He instantly gagged and said, “Good Lord, the smell of disintegrated flesh is not a pleasant one. I should find a way to fix that.” He turned to exit the room when three individuals suddenly dropped in front of him. Reaper, Widowmaker, and Sombra all trailed their guns onto him.
Elias was amused by their entrance. “Ah, my friends. I was beginning to wonder when you were going to join me.”
“Stand down, Doc!” Reaper growled.
Elias rolled his eyes. “Oh, come now. You guys can’t be mad about what I just did, right?” Upon looking at their faces and getting an answer from their steely glares, Elias said, “Why are you mad? I just did you three a huge favor.”
“Killing the people we work for?” Sombra questioned.
Elias chuckled. “No. Killing the people who were holding you by a leash. Your abilities can be put to far greater use than simply mercenaries for an international terrorist group.”
“How so,” Widowmaker sneered, eye never leaving her scope.
Pacing around a little, Elias said, “Talon’s goals were too narrow-minded. You cannot create a better world by having humanity at each other’s throats. That has been done before countless times in our history, and each time it has failed, further keeping us from truly reaching beyond our potential.”
Elias stopped as he stood before a holographic map of the world that was on display during the presentation. “To truly make mankind better themselves, they must be shown the potential of pushing passed boundaries. Then, when they can see what they are capable of, they can be easily coerced to do anything.”
“Where do we fit in all this?” Reaper asked.
“I’ll get there,” Elias said. He turned back to them and continued. “With this suit, I alone can show mankind the nearly limitless capabilities we have. They will ignore the standard, and embrace the unconventional, the revolutionary!”
Pointing to the three Talon agents, Elias said, “And that’s where you will come in. Of course, with this growth of mankind’s future, there will be those who will cling tightly to the norms that keep us locked in place. They will try to dismantle all that I, all that we, will build. I will need you to eliminate those who would drag us down.”
Elias smiled and opened his arms to the three agents. “So what do you say? Will you become my enforcers and help me build a better world?”
Reaper raised his shotguns and said, “And what? Who’s to say you won’t off us when you no longer need us?” He disengaged the safeties and added, “Last chance, Doc. Stand down.”
Elias kept smiling but sighed. “I give you the olive branch, and you toss it aside.” His four arms raised and the hands opened. “You are obstacles, and you will meet the same fate as your former employers.”
The sound of the beams charging up made the three agents’ eyes widen. They readied to evade when the charging died down; the beams didn’t fire.
Elias frowned in confusion as he looked at his arms. He looked down to something on his forearm and said, “Oh, Hell.” He looked back up and said, “It seems disintegrating a large room of people drains the energy cells rather quickly. I’ll need to give them time to recharge.”
The arms’ “hands” snapped a few times as Elias’s helmet rematerialized. “No matter. I do not need the beams to defeat you.”
Reaper growled as he unloaded his shotguns into Elias. The shots simply bounced off the tough armor of Elias’s suit. One of the arms swung out, but Reaper dodged it. He suddenly disappeared into a smoky black cloud and reappeared behind Elias. He fired twice before becoming the shadow again.
Elias growled in frustration as his HUD showed the views of all four arms. They followed the cloud and just as it stopped, one of the arms surged and grabbed Reaper by his chest.
Reaper shouted as the arm heaved him into the air and slammed him back into the ground. It hefted and struck him back into the spot several times, creating a large indent. Reaper was tossed into the air, grabbed again, and throw to the opposite side of the room. With a groan, Reaper crumbled onto the floor.
Elias smirked but it quickly fell when a flurry of gunfire bounced off his armor. He turned and saw Sombra running towards him, emptying her machine pistol.
Anger flared up in Elias and he reached his mechanical arm as Sombra tried to jump out of the way. The arm brought her right next to him.
“You! I will especially enjoy destroying you!” Elias yelled.
Sombra smirked as she brought up a small holographic panel and began typing on it. “Let’s see you fight without your fancy suit, bastardo!” She hit a button to complete the hack.
She smirked, but it quickly fell when Elias started laughing. The grip around her tightened as Elias said, “Fool. I knew you three weren’t going to accept my offer, so I installed various anti-hacking protections in the suit’s firmware. So, despite what you said, I am unhackable.”
Elias slammed Sombra into the ground, spinning her around on the floor and letting go, sending her flying into the podium on stage.
A loud crack went off and a sniper shot grazed the left side of Elias’s helmet; it merely left a small scratch.
Elias turned to see Widowmaker aiming her rifle at him. She fired again but one of the arms swung, striking the bullet into the ground. Elias sprinted towards the blue-skinned assassin, avoiding more shots as he drew closer.
Widowmaker activated her grapple to escape but Elias was quicker. He jumped and sliced through the grapple wire, sending Widowmaker to the ground. Elias quickly dropped back down next to her and before she could get up swiftly kicked her twice in the stomach. Using his hand, Elias hoisted her up and threw her away. She landed on a table, which crumbled from the velocity she landed on it.
Elias walked to the center of the room. All three agents were groaning from their beating, which only made the doctor laugh.
“And you’re supposed to be ‘Talon’s Best’,” he mocked. Suddenly, a loud crash shook the room. Elias turned around and smiled even more. Akande, who had slipped from the chaos, had returned as…
“Well well, the legendary ‘Doomfist has graced us with his presence!” Elias exclaimed. Indeed, Akande was wearing his massive gauntlet, and pieces of his torn suit remained on him from when he quickly grabbed it.
“Mahler! You will pay for what you have done!” Akande bellowed.
Elias laughed. “What’s the old saying, Akande? ‘You reap what you sow’. It was your actions against me that led to this.”
Growling, Akande asked, “After everything we’ve done for you, you still are nothing more than a lapdog for Overwatch?” A table flew towards Akande, but he knocked it aside.
“Don’t ever affiliate me with those bastards!” Elias yelled. “They still are the ones who initially ruined me, but you and Talon were the final nail in the coffin!”
“No matter, Mahler,” Akande said as he readied himself. “You will not leave this place alive.”
Elias chuckled. “Funny. I was about to say the same to you.”
Akande shouted as he charged towards Elias. He clenched his fist and fired several shots at Elias, but he either dodged or the shots ricocheted off of him. Akande ran forwards and jumped into the air. But as he flew down to the ground, Elias caught Akande and slammed him back into the ground. Elias grabbed him again and threw him back against the opposite wall.
Akande rose from the ground and immediately charged towards Elias, gauntlet sticking out in front of him. Elias readied himself as two of his arms locked themselves into the ground behind him and the other two remained in front of him.
The two connected where Elias stood. Elias only slid back a few inches as his arms caught Akande’s gauntlet. His legs dug in as the other two arms grabbed onto Akande to keep him at bay as he continued to push.
Elias was about to simply throw him aside when he saw a green flash on his forearm. He looked and smiled as he saw that his beams’ energy cells had recharged. He looked back to Akande, still struggling to push through.
Elias laughed as all four of his arms tightened their grips on Akande. The larger man gritted his teeth as he pulled his gauntlet away. He hoisted his arm up high to strike Elias once again when the beams all charged up. He never was able to bring his fist down when the flash went off. All that remained was his fading screams and his gauntlet collapsing onto the ground, with nothing connected to it.
Elias chuckled darkly as his helmet dematerialized, revealing his sinister smirk. He looked around the room to the still down Talon agents and asked out loud, “Have you had enough?”
Elias’s ears perked when he heard something behind him. He turned on a dime and swung one of his arms. The hand struck right across Reaper’s face; the mask he wore shattered into pieces as he collapsed to the floor.
“Now you have,” Elias said. He turned to walk towards one of the exits before stopping and saying, “Oh, and by the way, you were right. The moment you became useless to me, I would’ve killed you to avoid any problems you might have presented.”
Ripping through the door, Elias turned back to the agents. “Good day, my friends. A shame you wouldn’t join me. But I must be off, for I have big plans for this world.” And with that, Elias walked away, his evil laugh still ringing.
Chapter 12: Desperate Plea
At least an hour passed when the three beaten agents finally regained consciousness. Sombra weakly pulled herself up and stood, nearly gagging when the heavy stench of death slammed into her.
“Mierda!” she gasped. Sombra looked around and found Widowmaker stirring. She hurried over and helped her up.
“You okay, araña?” she asked.
Widowmaker groaned as she stood. “I’m fine.” She looked around the room and asked, “What just happened?”
“We had our asses kicked.”
Sombra and Widowmaker turned to see Reaper slowly approaching them. Their eyes widened when they noticed that his mask was gone, exposing his weathered and scarred face. He sighed and said, “But we all fared better than Akande.”
The other two followed his gaze and they gasped. Lying several feet away was a pile of ashes, and next to it, Akande’s gauntlet.
Widowmaker spat on the ground. “That bâtard! We have to stop him.”
“How?” Sombra asked. “He pummeled us without even using his fancy beams. We can’t defeat him.”
“We’ll need to find help then,” Reaper said.
Sombra turned and asked, “And where will we find that, Gabriel?” She opened her arms and turned to the many piles of ash. “The Talon heads are dead, and we are three internationally-wanted criminals. Who could help us?”
Reaper sighed. “There’s only one group I know of who can stop Mahler.”
Sombra and Widowmaker thought for a few moments before the answer dawned on them. “No, Gabe. Really?” Sombra asked.
Reaper nodded. “Believe me, I don’t like it any more than you do. But we have no choice.” He waved his hand for the two to follow him. “Let’s get a ship and get out of here. We’re going to Gibraltar.”
Sombra nodded as the three of them walked out of the room. “I think I’d rather go against Mahler head-on again.”
Angela was walking through the halls of the Watchpoint, fresh mug of coffee in one hand and various medical reports in the other. She had decided to take Jack’s advice and take a break from the search for Elias…by doing more work.
“Stubborn as ever,” she thought to herself.
As Angela took a sip of her coffee, she looked up in time to see Lena walking towards her. The young Brit gave her a cheery wave and smile.
“Hiya, Ang,” she said.
Angela smiled. “Hello, Lena. What are you up to?”
Lena shrugged. “Oh, nothing much. I just got back from across the Channel from my part of the search. You?”
“Taking a ‘break’,” the blonde replied holding up her paperwork.
Lena sighed a little and asked, “So, still no luck on your end finding him?”
“Nothing,” Angela said. “We’ve been at it for weeks now. I’m afraid that if we don’t catch him in time we’ll-”
Suddenly, both of them were startled by an alarm going off. Athena’s voice took over and said, “Talon dropship closing in!”
Angela and Lena ran the short distance into the command center, where a viewscreen brought up the incoming ship; it was closing in fast.
Winston growled, “The bastards are back, but we’re ready this time.” He entered a few commands and said, “Athena, activate AA defenses. As soon as they come in range, blow them out of the sky.”
“Yes, Winston,” Athena replied. The others stood behind Winston as they saw the guns activated and aim towards the dropship. Suddenly, another sound went off.
“Winston, incoming transmission from the enemy ship,” Athena said.
Winston shook his head. “Don’t put it through. Prepare to fire.”
Athena didn’t respond for a moment before saying, “Transmission override. Playing the message.” The room went quiet for a moment before the sound of Morse code began playing. Everyone in the room knew what it was; the message was an “All Clear” signal, and it was only used on Overwatch’s old covert ops.
Winston was about to give the order to fire when Jack stepped forward. “Athena. Override Alpha-Seven-Two. Stand down.”
“Yes, Commander Morrison,” Athena replied. The guns went offline and the ship continued towards them.
Winston was dumbfounded. “Jack? What are you doing?”
Jack didn’t respond to that question. Rather, he turned to Winston and said, “Let them land.”
“Jack,” Winston said quietly. “I know that-”
“Just do it,” Jack said sternly.
Winston opened his mouth to say something else but stopped. He returned to his terminal while Jack looked at the rest of the agents.
“The rest of you come with me,” Jack said. He walked towards the door, followed by Ana, Angela, Lena, and Moira. They all filed out of the room and headed down to the landing platform.
By the time they exited the Watchpoint and walked out to the platform, the Talon dropship had already landed. Jack led the group towards it and just as they reached the ship, the side door opened. Jack stopped and crossed his arms as he saw the three occupants leave the ship.
Widowmaker climbed off first; her sniper rifle was slung around her back and her signature headgear was missing. Followed by her was Sombra, who wasn’t wearing her usual smirk, but rather a stoic, emotionless face.
And at the front was a man wearing all black. His bone-like mask was no longer covering his face and his shotguns were nowhere in sight. Anyone else seeing him would’ve known him to be Reaper.
But he wasn’t anymore. In his place was Gabriel Reyes.
Gabe led the other two towards the halfway point of the landing platform. They stopped right in front of Jack and the others; Jack’s face showed nothing but anger.
Gabe sighed and said, “Jack-”
Whatever else he was going to say was interrupted when Jack surged forward and punched Gabe right in the nose. He yelled in pain, collapsing to one knee and holding his nose as the blood started flowing.
Spitting some from his mouth, Gabe said, “That’s about what I was expecting.” He stood up in time to see Jack withdraw his sidearm and aim it right at Gabe’s forehead. He didn’t raise his hands as he said, “Look, Jack, I know you’re beyond pissed-”
“You’re damn right I’m pissed!” Jack shouted. His hand stayed still as he kept the gun on Gabe. “Venice, the Swiss headquarters, betraying us for some goddamned personal vendetta!” He flicked off his gun’s safety and growled, “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t just shoot you now!”
Gabe sighed. “Jack, you have every right to be mad at me all you want. But right now, we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands than what’s happened in the past.”
“And what is that?” Jack asked.
“We both now have a common enemy,” Gabe said.
“What do you mean?” Ana asked stepping forward.
“Mahler,” the three former Talon agents said.
Angela’s eyes widened. “Elias? What happened?”
Gabe sighed and said, “Mahler seemed to be doing just fine with us. Donovan heaped praise onto him during Inner Council meetings that he would lead Talon in their quest to change the world. However, what he didn’t know was that Mahler had been playing him and the rest of us for weeks now. He had found out that it was us who had driven him to his breaking point after his dismissal from Overwatch.”
Turning his gaze to Jack, Gabe continued. “And so, during a presentation of Mahler’s new combat suit he developed from Angela’s and Moira’s research, Mahler killed everyone in the room. Donovan, Akande, the entire Inner Council, and every other high-ranking member of Talon was disintegrated.”
Angela gasped from what she heard. “What happened after?”
This time, Widowmaker spoke. “We tried to take him down, but he was too strong. I guess he liked that we presented somewhat of a challenge and didn’t kill us outright.”
Sombra nodded. “After beating us to a pulp he escaped.”
Gabe nodded and looked back at Jack. “Jack, Mahler is loose now with technology that can bring complete destruction. He needs to be stopped. We couldn’t defeat him. We need you.”
Angela stepped up and said, “Jack, please. This is a threat that goes beyond anything we’ve ever faced. Fighting over what happened then won’t do anything to fix our problems now.”
Jack shifted his gaze to Angela; her eyes were pleading with him. He looked over to Moira, Lena, and Ana; all three of them nodded. Jack turned back to face Gabe, his face unchanged as the gun was still pointed at his head.
Slowly, Jack pulled his arm back. He flicked the safety back on and holstered his sidearm. The three Talon agents (especially Gabe) visibly relaxed.
Jack jabbed his finger into Gabe’s chest. “Don’t think that this changes a thing.” He turned and walked passed the other agents back to the base. Ana turned to the three ex-Talon agents.
“Well, come inside. We’ll discuss the situation further,” she said.
Widowmaker and Sombra nodded and followed the others back as well. Sombra chuckled from the back and said, “That went better than I expected.”
“How so?” Moira asked.
“We thought there were only two possible outcomes: it was either just Gabe getting shot or all three of us getting shot,” Widowmaker explained.
Angela sighed. “Well, hopefully, Jack will be able to see passed what happened all those years ago and focus on the present threat.”
Gabe huffed. “That’s a big ‘hopefully’.”
The senior Overwatch members, as well as the former Talon agents, had gathered in the briefing room after their meetup on the landing platform. Sombra had stepped forward and presented them with a data drive.
“This is the camera footage from what went down at the Venice headquarters,” she said as she plugged it in. The video opened and she added, “Viewer discretion is advised.”
The video played. It showed Donovan talking on the stage and then out walked Elias. Angela’s eyes widened and she gasped when she saw what he had created. Her heart raced when she saw the beam being demonstrated on the unlucky man during the presentation.
The room was dead silent when the video continued until finally, Elias’s rampage began. Although it only took a few moments for him to kill everyone in the room, it seemed to last forever. The footage ended when one of the Talon soldiers Elias killed was thrown into the camera.
Gabe stood up and walked next to the screen. “As you could see, this is a threat that even we couldn’t go against. Nonetheless, we need to take him down.”
Jack shrugged and said, “We don’t even know where he is.”
Sombra raised her hand and said, “Actually, I can track him down. The ring he was given has a small tracking device in it. Just so long as he hasn’t removed it, I should be able to find him.” Bringing up a small screen, she transferred the tracker to the main screen. A map of the world spun around a little before a red dot appeared in…
“Austria?” Ana asked. “What is he doing there?”
“Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter,” Gabe said. He turned to the others and said, “We’re going after him.”
Jack crossed his arms. “With what army?” he asked.
Gabe looked at Jack and said, “What do you mean? We have to take this bastard down.”
“There’s that ‘we’ again, Gabe. While I am aware that he is a threat, it was you who made him in the first place,” Jack said, his voice rising.
Gabe laughed darkly. “There it is. Jack Morrison: the man who can’t take responsibility. It was you who threw him out in the first place when his work was going to taint your reputation. Sound familiar?”
“You have no right to lecture me, Gabe!” Jack shouted. “I did what had to be done!”
“This is both of our faults!” Gabe exclaimed. “And thanks to us, we have a madman on the loose who has unbeatable power in his hands!”
“I am not risking my agents to go against him!” Jack argued. “You said it yourself, he’s impossible to defeat!”
“Then what do you suggest we do, Jack?!” Gabe asked.
Jack and Gabe stopped their shouting upon hearing someone volunteer themselves. They turned their heads to see who had said it: it was Angela.
Jack immediately shook his head. “Angela, there is no way am I allowing that.”
Angela stood and said, “No, Jack. This is something I must do. It was my fault that Elias has fallen from grace.”
“Your fault?” Jack asked incredulously. “Angela, his lust for power was what brought him to where he is.”
“That may be,” Angela agreed. “But if I could just go and talk to him, he-”
“Angela, you’ve seen what he is capable of,” Gabe interrupted. “I don’t think he’ll be in the mood to talk with anyone, especially you.”
Angela paced around the room. “True. But you said it yourselves, we can’t send everyone in after him.” She stopped at the window, looking out over the pristine view outside before turning around. “This is my battle, and I will fight it.”
Jack and Gabe were silent as they looked at each other. Sighing, Jack looked back to Angela and said, “Get yourself ready, then.”
Angela nodded and walked out of the room. Jack turned back to face Moira and said, “I’m surprised you didn’t object.”
Moira shook her head. “You know as well as I do that you can never get Angela to back down. If she is insistent, she’ll do it.”
Jack huffed. “Yeah. Well, let’s hope her ‘insistence’ doesn’t get her killed.”
Twenty minutes later, Angela walked into the Watchpoint’s hanger. She was wearing her Valkyrie suit and her Caduceus Staff was held tightly in her hands. As she walked further in, she saw the others from earlier standing by one of the dropships.
Angela stopped in front of Jack, who kept a straight face as he said, “Sombra has uploaded the coordinates into the ship’s navigation system. All you need to do is activate the auto-pilot and it’ll take care of the rest.”
Angela nodded. “Understood.” She walked passed and climbed through the open doors of the ship.
Angela turned around and saw Jack giving her a small salute. “Good luck.”
“Thank you, Jack,” Angela replied. She walked into the cockpit, setting her staff down, and sat down in the pilot’s seat. She pressed one button, activating the ship’s lower lifts. She pressed one more button and turned on the ship’s auto-pilot.
The ship lurched and remained stationary for a few moments before slowly easing its way out of the hanger. Once it exited, the thrusters engaged and the ship shot away from the base.
Angela shifted into a more comfortable position in her seat and looked down at the tracker. She would be at her destination within a few hours. Rising from her seat, Angela walked into the bay of the dropship, staff in hand, and began working through some of her combat exercises. Hopefully, she wouldn’t need them.
At least twenty minutes passed since Angela left to confront Mahler and Jack stood alone in the briefing room, staring out the window. He was thinking about all that had transpired in the past few hours. Gabe and Amélie returning after everything that had happened. With Talon essentially defeated, could it be possible to…
“You never did leave this room.”
Jack turned around to see Gabe walking in. Surprisingly, he didn’t throw a retort his way and instead replied, “Not as much as back then.”
“Always busy,” Gabe said with a small chuckle. He looked and saw Jack still looking out the window.
Gabe sighed. “Jack, I know that I am the last person you want to see. I’ve done things that are beyond forgiveness.” He looked back to his old friend and said, “But I wouldn’t be here if I wanted to help bring down a greater evil.”
Jack shook his head. “Neither of us were innocent. We both carry the burden of our mistakes.” He turned to face Gabe and added, “But I’m glad you’re back in the fight, Gabe.”
He stuck his hand out, and Gabe smiled as he firmly gripped it and they shook.
Gabe laughed. “And here I thought you were going to put a bullet in my head the moment we landed.”
“Piss me off again, and I will,” Jack half-heartedly threatened.
“Let’s at least deal with Mahler first before you do that,” Gabe said.
Jack looked back out the window and sighed. “I can’t believe I just let her go on her own.”
Gabe walked up from behind him and said, “Don’t worry, Jack. She won’t be alone.”
“What do you mean?” Jack asked in confusion.
Just as he asked that Jack could hear the sounds of a ship’s engines. He looked out and saw one of their single-seater aircraft leaving the hanger, taking off in the same direction Angela went.
Gabe smiled and said, “And there goes Moira.”
Jack turned his head to look at Gabe. “Didn’t she defend Angela going on her own?”
“Yes,” Gabe said. “But that didn’t mean Moira wasn’t going to follow her. Besides, Moira said she had something that can stop Mahler.”
Jack turned back to the window. “Whatever it is, I hope it works, or they may not come back at all.”
Hours had passed before Angela arrived at her destination. She disengaged the autopilot and landed the dropship in an open field far from where the tracker was, not wanting to alert Elias of her presence.
Once the ship touched down, Angela grabbed her staff and exited the ship. Angela walked off and into the field. She walked through it until she reached a weathered road. Following the tracker, she walked slowly down the road.
Angela walked for nearly twenty minutes, her eyes never leaving the tracker just in case Elias decided to move. Suddenly, Angela walked into something large. She stumbled back and saw that she walked into an abandoned car. Angela looked passed it and gasped at what she saw.
It was a large town. Well, what was left of a large town. Almost all of the buildings were destroyed; others stood like hollow shells. The streets were filled with rubble, and sitting all around were several cars buried in the remains. It was uncomfortably silent.
Angela slowly walked into the town. “Why would Elias come here?” she asked out loud. She walked through an intersection and stopped. Her eyes widened when she saw the remains of Omnics strewn all over the road.
Kneeling next to one, Angela studied it for a bit. They have been here for a while, which meant after whatever happened here, everything was simply abandoned, allowing nature and the elements to take over what was left.
Angela jumped when a pinging began going off. She looked at the tracker and saw that Elias was only a couple hundred yards away. She rose from the Omnic and walked back onto the main street. As she drew closer to where the tracker took her, Angela looked up to see where it was taking her.
It was a large building. It was slightly damaged in some spots, but compared to the rest of the town, it appeared to be completely untouched. Only the weathering on the outside was the extent of the damage. Angela approached a sign at the bottom of the entrance stairs. It read:
Berkton Research Facility
Head Scientist: Doctor Friedrich M-
The rest of the sign had been damaged, obscuring whatever else it said. Angela walked up the steps; the tracker was going off the charts. She reached the top of the steps when the tracker released one long continuous whine. Angela looked down and the entrance to the building was slightly open.
Preparing herself, Angela took a deep breath and stared inside “Here goes nothing.” With that, Angela walked forward, opened the heavy door, and headed inside.
Chapter 13: Confrontation
Angela found herself inside of a large reception area. Parts of the ceiling had caved in and chunks of the walls littered the entire space. Omnic remains were strewn all around and blast marks scarred the walls and floor.
Slowly, Angela walked through the reception area. As she walked she approached a doorway, and above it hung a large painting. The painting was of a bearded old man wearing a lab coat. Angela tried seeing who it was, but the painting was damaged enough that she couldn’t see.
Angela walked through the doorway beneath the painting and into a long hallway. As she walked, she passed by windowed labs, and they were all in similar fashions of disarray. Glassware was broken and on the floor, papers scattered everywhere, and (Angela grimaced slightly) animal cages with remains inside them.
As she walked further into the hall, Angela began noticing other doors next to her, but they all were sealed. She stopped at the end of the hall where she stood before a large steel door. Angela read the sign above it:
AUTHORIZED PERSONEL ONLY
However, this door had been forced open by something, as the two sides had been pushed open enough for a person to easily walk through. Angela gripped her staff tighter as she walked through the gap and into the other side.
She was greeted by a long and winding staircase. Only some parts of it were lit, leaving some areas in complete darkness. And deep down at the bottom of it, Angela could faintly hear something (or rather, someone) causing a lot of noise.
Activating the flashlight built into her suit’s shoulder, Angela slowly descended the stairs. As she neared the bottom the noises got louder. She could then hear a familiar voice shout in annoyance.
“My God! Does anything here work?!”
Angela stopped and closed her eyes. She thought back to the events that brought her to where she was now: Elias stealing her research, his hearing, his dismissal, all of it flooded back to her at once.
She opened her eyes and sighed. All of this had happened because his ambition clashed with her defense of the ethical fiber of science. He claimed her as weak for seeing nothing but good in all, but maybe there was still hope for him.
Angela straightened herself and walked down the remaining steps. She walked into another short hallway, but this time there was a bright light through the door at the end. She continued down the hall and walked through the open doorway.
She entered a large, spacious room. Angela’s gaze drifted all over and found various weapons components strewn around at lab tables and on the ground. Her eyes roamed a little more before they fell upon a lone figure standing on the other side of the room.
Elias’s head snapped up and he slowly turned around. Not shockingly, his brow creased when his gaze fell on the blonde. However, instead of an angry tirade, he merely sighed.
“Angela?” he asked in annoyance. “You have got to stop showing up where I am unannounced.” He pointed at the room with his hands and said, “If I knew you were coming, I would’ve cleaned the place up a little. I mean look at this place. It’s filthy.”
“Had you known I was coming, you would’ve ran,” Angela stated.
Elias chuckled. “Ran? Oh no, Angela. If I had known you were coming, I would’ve waited as long as possible. Just. For. You.” Elias’s mouth turned into a smug grin as his four mechanical arms slowly shifted and raised themselves around him.
“Impressed?” he asked as one of the hands snapped a few times.
Angela shook her head. “Not exactly the words I would use to describe what I am seeing.”
Elias laughed. “Don’t be absurd, Angela. You cannot deny the splendor of what I have achieved. This merely scratches the surface of what I am capable of. It goes to show that what I say is true, that the limits we put on ourselves as scientists must be pushed away for us to achieve greatness.”
“Creating monstrosities? Stealing research? Taking people hostage? That’s your idea of ‘greatness’?” Angela asked.
Elias smiled. “Well, no plan is perfect.” He began pacing and said, “My actions were selfless, not selfish...from certain points of view.” He walked back to where he originally stood, his back to Angela.
“All I want is to help mankind realize their full potential, so that we may advance ourselves for our survival.” Turning back to face Angela, Elias’s expression shifted into one of annoyance. “Unfortunately, people like you act like children on a playground. You are oblivious and ignorant to what happens outside the fence, perfectly content to stay within your boundaries.”
“Those boundaries you are so adamant about tearing down are put in place to keep people safe,” Angela retorted.
“Lies!” Elias exclaimed. “The ethical and moral thinking of scientists has caused me nothing but pain and suffering!”
Angela looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Elias glared at Angela as he outstretched his hands. “Behold, Angela. This is my hometown, well, what’s left of it.” He took a deep breath and stared back down at the blonde.
“I still remember all those years ago when the Omnics were ravaging their way across Europe. Senseless destruction, people getting killed all over. They were unstoppable.” Elias paused for a moment and continued. “And then, they were quickly approaching my home.”
“We needed a solution. Everything that was tried was futile; no matter how many soldiers we threw at them, there was no stopping the onslaught. But, one man had a solution: my father, Friedrich Mahler.”
Angela’s brow furrowed for a moment. “Friedrich M-” she stopped and said, “Wait, that man in the main foyer is your father?”
“Very good, Angela,” Elias commended. “Yes. My father was the only person to realize that the usual methods would not work and that we would need more unconventional solutions to defeat this threat. He planned to convert the town power plant into, in essence, a large EMP bomb. If detonated at the right time, the following EMP would short-circuit the Omnics within a massive radius. Our town would be saved.”
Elias stopped and darkly laughed. “However, with every solution, there is a small hitch in it. All of the town’s power was being diverted to the hospital, where several dozen people were being treated. They were all in Intensive Care, on life support, you name it. In short, destroying the power plant would kill all of the patients inside.”
“My father knew that it was a difficult choice, but it was one that had to be made. However, when his colleagues heard his plan, they dismissed it as barbaric. They claimed that they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night with the thought of innocent blood staining their hands.”
Elias began pacing once more as he continued. “My father, much like me, was immediately stripped of his credentials, and even his doctorate. He was removed from the building and told never to return. But he refused to throw away the lives of thousands over a couple of dozen hospital patients. He made his way to the power plant, intent on carrying out his solution, despite the refusal of the rest.”
“Unfortunately, my father’s former colleagues somehow caught on and sent the authorities after him. He was apprehended, and they put him in jail, where he was to sit for three weeks.” Elias stopped and he sighed. “His sentence wasn’t fully completed, as the very next day, the Omnics attacked. No one was spared; men, women, children…everyone killed. Those people in the hospital? Slaughtered like animals.”
Angela remembered the destruction she saw above. The rubble, the Omnic remains and the empty shells of buildings and people’s homes. She knew first-hand what it was like.
“I was lucky that day. I was able to crawl from the rubble of my home. My mother and sister dead and buried beneath me.” He paused and sighed. “I remember wandering through the silent streets, shouting my father’s name, shouting for anyone still alive. I stumbled my way through what was left of my home until I heard the sound of someone weakly calling my name. That’s where I found my father, buried up to his chest in rubble from his jail cell.”
“He looked me dead in my eyes and used the last of his strength to say his last words. He said ‘My son, sometimes we must do, not what is right, but what is necessary, for the survival of humanity. They realized this too late. Help humanity before it is too late for them.’”
Elias turned back around and faced Angela. “And so, ever since that fateful event, I have dedicated my entire life to science, so that I may work to save humanity from their ignorance. To prevent catastrophe much like the one my father tried to stop.”
Angela processed what all she heard. “Elias,” she said quietly. “I know what it is like to lose people you care about. I lost both of my parents to war. But I didn’t use their deaths to lay out a path of revenge and-”
“There’s that naiveté again, Angela,” Elias interrupted. “You think this is about avenging his death? Oh no. This is simply about showing the world the truth: if we hold back because an action is ‘immoral’ or ‘isn’t right’, then we are digging our own grave down the road. And once we reach the end of it, all that we will be able to do is lie in it.”
Walking back to where the remains of a large viewscreen were, Elias said, “I thought that joining Overwatch would help me; a pity that didn’t work out.”
“And you thought Talon would be a better option?” Angela asked in disgust.
“Well, it’s not like I had anywhere else to go. Talon had the resources I needed. You and O’Deorain provided the other necessary materials,” Elias said, smiling.
“If they gave you everything you could have needed, why did you kill them?” Angela asked.
Elias laughed again. “Well, I culled their heads for several reasons. Sure, I was furious when I learned it was them who influenced me coming to them. However, I truly killed them because they were just like you. They were so narrow-minded; they honestly believed that mankind can improve themselves through conflict. The number of wars that have been fought throughout our existence have proven the exact opposite. We don’t advance ourselves. We merely find better ways to kill each other.”
The arms of the suit raised alongside Elias. “But this is advancement,” he said as one of his hands pulsated with the red glow. “Only look at what I did with Talon. You and Overwatch have been fighting them for years, and yet you honestly had nothing to show for it. Then, there’s me and this suit. Within minutes, I was able to cut the heads off of every Talon leader…like that,” he added with a snap of his fingers.
Elias smirked. “This is true change, Angela. I will show this world, whether it likes it or not, the true capabilities we have. I will usher in an era of peace.” He stopped for a moment before adding, “And you could help me.”
“What?” Angela asked.
Elias paced and said, “Angela, you and I both seek the same thing: a better world for future generations. Of course, the methods we use to reach that goal differ, but the end justifies the means. We need not be enemies, Angela. Our fighting is pointless, counterproductive, whereas we could do so much more.”
Elias outstretched his hand. “Join me, Angela. Together, we can create that peaceful world we strive for.”
Angela couldn’t believe what she heard. After everything he had done, he honestly thought that she would join him? She wanted to believe she could convince him to stop this, but he had made his choice.
“Elias, you are asking me to follow you on a path you know I will never go down,” she said. “It’s obvious now that there is no convincing you otherwise, and if that’s the case…” Angela withdrew her sidearm and activated her wings. “…I will do what I must.”
Elias’s smirk fell instantly. He slowly withdrew his hand and darkly remarked, “What a shame. You could have been remembered for all time, Angela.” His helmet slowly materialized over his head. “Instead,” his mechanical arms slowly raised themselves and a bright red light began glowing from them.
“I will see to it that you are forgotten!”
Angela took off from her spot and flew as the beams opened fire. She spun and evaded the red beams, taking pauses to fire her sidearm at Elias. However, his suit merely absorbed the shots as if they were nothing.
“You are a fool, Angela!” Elias’s distorted voice yelled. “You and all the others! The world will realize one day that what I say is right, but by then it will be too late! I will not let people like you stand in my way! You will be swept aside!”
Angela landed as she dodged another blast of the beams. She fired more rounds from her sidearm but it still did nothing. “Elias! Stop this madness!”
“Madness?!” he exclaimed. “That’s what you call it?! It’s only ‘madness’ to you because you don’t understand!”
Angela took off again, retorting with, “I understand it perfectly! Is that how you’ll create a peaceful world?! Silencing those who oppose you?! Preaching delusions of grandeur to those who will listen?! That is not peace! That is submission!”
“The people would learn to accept it!” Elias yelled as one of his arms swung at Angela. “Scientists like me and my father only sought to help mankind! But people like you, all you peddle is inefficiency and stubbornness to the harsh reality!”
Angela flew over again but Elias was too quick. His arms swung and struck Angela, knocking her down. Before she could get up, Elias leaped and held her down with his mechanical arms. His hands gripped at her wings, and she shouted as she felt her wings ripped away from her suit and tossed aside. The arms hoisted her up and threw her away. She quickly recovered as Elias aimed all four beams at her.
“I will be remembered, not for the bridges I’ve burnt, but the ones that I have built!” Elias activated his beams, combining them into one directed at Angela.
Without thinking, Angela activated her Caduceus Staff beam and fired. The gold beam met the red one halfway and the two smashed into each other, joining as one large ball of energy. Angela’s eyes widened in surprise
“What?” Elias said. He deactivated the beams, and Angela did the same. “Impossible,” he added.
Angela took a few breaths and stated, “Did you forget whose research you stole to create those beams, Elias?”
Elias huffed in frustration. “Of course. I should’ve thought.” The beam projectors turned off as Elias began walking towards her. “But that’s no matter. You don’t deserve the merciful death of my creation.”
Gripping the ground with his mechanical arms, Elias launched himself at Angela. She barely dodged him, but he was able to stop himself next to her. He relentlessly swung his arms while Angela ducked below the strikes and blocked the arms with her staff. However, she knew she’d be overwhelmed.
Angela braced herself for another series of strikes and in a flash found an opening. She swung her staff upwards, but Elias caught it with his hand. He pulled his other hand back and slammed it right into Angela’s chest.
Shouting in pain, Angela collapsed to her knees, her hand resting upon the dent in her suit that came dangerously close to piercing her. Behind her, Elias let his helmet dematerialize.
“You can’t defeat me, Angela,” he mocked. “I will destroy all who dare oppose me as I carry out my vision.” He walked up and stood behind Angela and said, “After I’m finished with you, your precious friends are next.”
Angela shouted as she stood and swung her staff, striking it across Elias’s face. He stumbled away as he yelled in pain, his hand flying up to his face. Angela quickly regained her footing and backed away.
Elias growled in pain once more as he stood up straight. Slowly, he turned to face Angela, revealing a long gash that went from his left temple down the left side of his face. He fixed Angela with a glare.
“You are going to regret that!” he spat.
Angela shouted again as she charged towards him, fueled by his threat to her friends. She raised her staff to strike, but two of Elias’s mechanical arms caught her hands. They squeezed and Angela shouted in pain, dropping her staff.
Slowly, the arms raised Angela in the air. She attempted to kick Elias but his other two arms caught her legs. With a growl, Elias had the arms pull Angela’s limbs. She screamed as her arms and legs were painfully stretched to their limits.
The arms pulled her until she was just in front of Elias. With a shout, his fists began mercilessly and repeatedly striking her. Angela shouted in pain as pieces of her armor broke off and a few of the strikes hit her in her face.
Growling, the arms holding Angela’s legs let go and planted themselves onto the ground. They hoisted the two up, allowing Elias to kick her square in the chest with both of his feet. The arms let go, sending Angela back into the opposite wall.
Gasping for breath and already feeling the blood drip from her wounds, Angela weakly got up on her hands and knees. She could hear Elias slowly walking towards her. He was taking his time, savoring the moment.
Angela slowly looked up and saw Elias standing over her; his expression devoid of emotion. One of his arms quickly swung and grabbed Angela’s neck. Her hands flew up and grabbed the hand, gasping for breath as it squeezed.
Elias began walking back to the center of the room, dragging Angela behind him. Once he reached the spot he turned back around to face her. Elias continued staring her down, but suddenly, his expression changed and the hand let go of Angela’s neck.
Taking in several breaths, Angela looked back up. She looked at him in confusion, but her eyes quickly widened when Elias’s hand grabbed her throat. She gasped once more as he hefted her to meet his steely gaze.
“No,” he said sinisterly. “I will not let my mechanical hands kill you. I would rather feel you breathe your last with my own.”
Angela struggled as she could feel Elias’s fingers slowly tighten. Suddenly, she could feel a vibration on her wrist comm. She quickly gazed down and was able to see it was her locater. But how was that possible? It only was on when another Overwatch agent was near.
Elias’s menacing laugh rang through the empty and decrepit room. “So, this is how the great Angela Ziegler ends.” He forced Angela onto her knees and clamped his other hand to her throat. “Her wings clipped, her body beaten, her spirit broken. And most of all…alone.”
Angela could slowly see her vision starting to blur. She could still feel her locater going off, and Elias didn’t notice. He hoisted her back into the air with one hand as his helmet rematerialized.
“But I am not a cruel man,” he said. “Tell me, Angela. Have you any last words?”
Feeling her locater going crazy, Angela gathered enough strength to gasp, “You…are…wrong.”
Elias laughed once again. He looked at her again and said, “I highly doubt that, Angela. But, pray tell me, what is it I am wrong about?”
Supporting herself by grabbing Elias’s arm, Angela glared at him and exclaimed, “I’m…not alone!”
Elias’s face fell a little at her statement. Suddenly, he heard a loud boom and when he looked to his right, he saw a large green blast coming right at him. He was hit dead-on, causing him to drop Angela, and sending him through a few of the abandoned lab tables and into a large machine, which promptly fell on top of him.
Angela weakly turned and saw who had saved her. Standing at the open doorway, with Lúcio’s Sonic Amplifier in her hands and wearing her old Blackwatch gear, was Moira. She promptly dropped the weapon and ran towards Angela.
“Angie! Angie!” she yelled as she drew nearer. She dropped next to the blonde and helped her into her lap. Angela looked up into Moira’s mismatched eyes and said, “Moira? You’re here?”
Moira nodded. “Of course I’m here.”
Angela chuckled. “It certainly took you long enough,” she said as she sat up enough to hold herself by her arms.
“Oh, you know, traffic a little rough. Different airspaces. You understand?” Moira said to lighten the mood. She stood up and held her hands out, which Angela took and allowed the redhead to heave her up. Standing tall, Angela embraced Moira.
Their moment lasted just that, however, as the sound of crashing machinery caused them to pull away. They looked and saw Elias crawling out from the remains he had been buried under. His helmet dematerialized, revealing a face of pure anger. He gritted his teeth as he cracked his neck.
“O’Deorain!” he hissed. He walked out of the machine remains towards the pair.
Moira stood in front of Angela. “This ends now, Mahler!”
Elias smirked and laughed. He collected himself and retorted, “What? The lovebirds of Overwatch are going to stop me?” He clapped and laughed once more. “This is just too perfect. I kill both of you, and there go my sole obstacles stopping me. And once you’re gone, Overwatch will be easy to defeat.”
Moira glared at him. “We will not let you, Mahler.”
The helmet rematerialized and Elias said, “Then prepare to join the souls that perished for their weakness.” He surged towards the two women.
“Split!” Moira shouted. The two separated, and Elias focused on Moira. His arms swiftly struck, but Moira’s suit allowed her to dodge the blows. Elias’s hand shot out and grabbed Mora’s throat. He hauled her into the air and slammed her into the ground. As she gasped for breath, Elias leaned down and allowed his helmet to dematerialize.
“You can still join me, O’Deorain,” Elias hissed. “You may have lost your way, but I feel that getting rid of a certain distraction may put you on the path to greatness, by my side.”
“Fat chance!” Moira spat. Her hand slowly reached down to her hip.
Elias sighed. “Then you will die like the rest.” His arm positioned itself next to her head and the beam projector activated.
Moira yelled as she withdrew a small, handheld device and jammed it into Elias’s side. He shouted as an electric surge coursed through his suits systems. He let go of Moira and backed away from her, his mechanical arms falling limp to the ground. Elias looked at his wrist display and saw that his power cells had been temporarily drained.
Distracted by his suit’s loss of power, Elias didn’t notice Moira running towards him. He held his hands up and caught both of Moira’s mid-strike. His suit still gave him greater strength, and he began pushing Moira down. She looked and saw his suit was halfway from regaining full power.
With no other options, Moira brought her head back and slammed it into Elias’s. He shouted in pain and stumbled back, giving Moira a split-second to grab another small device and affix it to the left side of Elias’s suit.
Elias’s suit regained power and his mechanical arms grabbed Moira and threw her across the room. The redhead collided with Angela, knocking the two of them to the ground.
“I have tolerated your existence long enough!” he bellowed. His arms all raised and the red pulses activated. His helmet rematerialized as the beams built up more power. “The story of my rise begins here!”
“On the contrary, Mahler,” Moira said as her finger grazed a button on her wrist, “this is where it ends.”
She pushed it.
The beam projectors shut down. Elias’s head jerked to look at them. “What?” he said as he began pushing a few commands into his wrist display. “What’s happening?”
Suddenly, Elias saw the power cells for the beams drain away into the device Moira attached to him. The nanobots inside dispersed and spread all over the left side of his body, going down to his leg and reaching his face.
Elias screamed in pain as he felt a surge throughout his left side. Elias looked and noticed that areas affected began to slowly disintegrate. He looked ahead to Moira and shouted as he ran towards her.
Moira pressed another button and Elias stopped dead in his tracks. His screamed once more as he felt his left side as if he were on fire. He shouted in agony as he collapsed to his knees, clinging to his left side as the nanobots continued to violently burn. His screams grew louder, ringing in Angela and Moira’s ears before being silenced by a massive explosion.
Moira tackled Angela behind a lab table to shield them from the blast. Once it had subsided, the silence was broken by what sounded like a raspy exhalation of breath, followed by the sound of something falling to the ground. The two women slowly stood up from their cover and looked to where Elias was.
What was left of him.
He was lying on his back; the left half of his body was almost entirely destroyed. His arm, leg, and most of his torso were both gone, and the left half of his face was partially disintegrated. His right side was completely spared and his mechanical arms lied limp all around him.
Angela slowly walked towards and stood over what remained of Elias. “What did you do?” she asked.
Moira walked up behind her and answered, “I overloaded his beams’ power cells and dispersed the nanobots into his suit’s main systems. I then reactivated them, using his own weapon against him.”
Angela looked back down to Elias. The areas of his body that had been destroyed were blackened from the destructive nature of his nanobots. She knelt next to him, pressing a command on his right wrist display.
The other half of the helmet dematerialized, revealing the undamaged half of his face. His eye was wide open and the other half of his mouth showed his gritted teeth. She slowly closed his eye.
“He had so much potential,” Angela said quietly. Moira walked up behind her as she slowly rose.
“He chose his path,” Moira said. “It was no one’s fault but his.”
Angela nodded. “You are right. I just wish it could have been different.”
Moira placed her hand on Angela’s shoulder. “Come on, Angie. Let’s go.”
Nodding, Angela allowed Moira to support her weakened body against her as they exited the room and made their way up the stairs. They walked out of the building and back out into the remains of the town; the ship Moira used was right in front of them.
Looking out to Elias’s town, Angela sighed. “It seems that this is all we see anymore,” she said somberly as she took in the magnitude of the destroyed town.
Moira sighed. “That’s the way of the world, unfortunately. No matter how much we try to avoid it, we always find ourselves back in its embrace.”
With nothing more to say, Angela climbed onto the ship. Moira followed and took the controls while the blonde sat next to her, groaning as her aching and tired body finally relaxed. She looked out the window as the ship began ascending.
The destruction stretched outwards throughout the whole town; nothing was spared, and nothing was left standing. All of this, as Elias had said, because a necessary sacrifice wasn’t made.
Was it possible to truly end the chaos and destruction by pushing beyond their limits? Angela had dedicated most of her entire life to helping people. But if she were presented with the same scenario that Elias’s home had faced, what choice would she have made?
Angela looked away from the window as the ship lurched forward, flying on its course back to the Watchpoint. She refused to think on those thoughts anymore, opting to leave them behind in the ruins of the town. Hopefully, she would never have to make that choice, for she wasn’t sure of what she would do.
A week had passed since confronting Elias and Angela found herself standing alone in the Watchpoint’s basement lab. She had been able to heal her wounds (which were quite severe; a couple of fractured ribs, a minor concussion, some massive bruises, and several cuts across her body and face) with her staff, but she made sure to take it easy. She still grimaced when standing up too quickly.
Angela was standing at the main lab table, going through all of the files to make sure anything belonging to Elias was truly gone. Of course, she found nothing, as they had gotten rid of his stuff the day he was arrested. However, Angela wanted to make absolutely sure.
Once she deactivated the holoscreen Angela walked towards some of the filing cabinets. She passed by the testing chamber and stopped, looking inside and slowly turning her head away as memories of what she saw came back.
As she worked around the lab, the door opened. Angela looked up and saw Lena walking in. She approached her and asked, “Hiya, Ang. What are ya doin’ down here?”
Angela sighed. “Oh, nothing. Just cleaning up a few things.”
Lena understood what she meant. “Well, I guess that’s something that needs to be done, but I was asked to grab ya. The celebration’s upstairs.”
Angela stopped and turned to face Lena. She smiled and said, “You know, maybe I should leave this alone.”
Lena pumped her fist. “That was easy. Come on.” She walked back out of the lab, followed closely behind by Angela. The pair got onto the elevator and Lena pushed the button for the main floor.
“How does my hair look?” Lena asked as she combed her hand through her spiky mane.
Angela giggled. “It looks fine,” she said sincerely. “Why? Who are you trying to impress?”
“No one!” Lena answered quickly as a small blush colored her cheeks.
Angela giggled as the door opened and they walked out. All of the agents were gathered all around, and when they saw Angela they all yelled in greeting.
“There she is. We can finally start,” Jesse said as he withdrew a large liquor bottle from his pocket.
“Do you really need an excuse to start drinking?” Angela asked as she took a glass from a nearby table.
“Nope”, he replied as he poured some of the whiskey for her. She nodded in thanks and turned around as Jack walked to the end of the room.
“If I could please get your attention!” he shouted to the agents. Silence fell upon the room and Jack resumed talking.
“This past week has granted us multiple reasons to celebrate,” Jack said with a smile. “For one, Talon has been backed into a corner and is standing on their last legs.”
Cheers erupted from the crowd of agents. Once they calmed down, Jack resumed.
“And secondly, we have some new and yet familiar faces here at the Watchpoint,” he said. He looked to his right and said, “On the long but hopeful road to recovery, I welcome back Amélie Lacroix.”
Angela turned and joined in the applause. Amélie, formally “Widowmaker”, sheepishly waved and smiled at the crowd. Her skin was noticeably lighter but still blue. Angela and Moira were helping reverse all that Talon had done to her.
“Next, another old face…a really old face…has joined us again as well. Gabriel Reyes,” Jack announced.
Gabe walked up next to Jack and shook his hand. “Welcome back, old friend,” Jack said.
“Keep it up with the ‘old’ shit, and I’ll kick your ass,” Gabe said with a smile.
The room and Jack laughed as Gabe walked away. Jack turned back to the crowd and said, “And lastly, I would like to personally welcome a new member to our organization. Olivia Colomar!”
Olivia, who had previously only called herself “Sombra”, suddenly appeared in front of everyone. The agents all laughed while she joined with them.
“What has happened in the past is behind us. There shall be no looking back,” Jack said to everyone. “Instead, we will look forwards, for Overwatch’s future, and the future of humanity.”
Various “Cheers!” rang out among the agents. Jack stepped back into the group and went to get himself a drink. He approached Angela and stopped in front of her.
“I’m proud of you, Angela,” he said.
Angela gave him a small smile. “Thank you, Jack. It wasn’t easy.”
Jack shook his head and chuckled. “It never is,” he said as he walked passed. Angela turned back around and found something that caught her attention: a certain tall redhead standing at the edge of the celebration. Angela rolled her eyes as she made her way over to her.
“You still hate things like this?” Angela asked as she stood next to Moira.
Moira shrugged. “Some things never change.”
Angela stood on her toes and placed a small kiss on Moira’s cheek. “Well, I’m glad some things with you changed.”
Nodding, Moira said, “I’d love to keep the conversation going as is, but I first need a drink. I’ll be right back.”
She walked, leaving Angela alone to look around the room. She saw all of her closest friends happily celebrating. Fareeha and Ana were deep in conversation, Gabe and Jack were laughing along with Reinhardt, Brigitte was awkwardly flirting with Hana, and Lena was standing all alone when she was suddenly pulled away by a light blue hand.
Angela smiled brightly at what she saw. Her friends were all here, Moira was with her, and Talon was close to defeat.
To her, it seemed that everything was alright.
Nearly seventeen-hundred miles away, deep below the Berkton Research Facility, Elias Mahler’s body still lay where he had been defeated. The bright lights continued to shine on what remained of him. It was deathly silent where he was; there was not a sound anywhere.
Suddenly, the wrist display activated. It flashed a red screen several times, and it began letting off a high-pitched beep. It abruptly stopped after a few moments and turned red, with words appearing on it.
The screen switched over to another display, this time showing another set of words.
UNITS 1-4: ACTIVE
A low, twitching sound could be heard from around the body. Suddenly, the four mechanical arms slowly raised themselves. They surrounded Elias’s body like confused animals; their beam projectors blinking like eyes. Another message flashed on the display.
The arms raised themselves above the body. The hands were snapping at each other; almost as if they were talking. Suddenly, their “eyes" began to flicker as the wrist display began flashing once more.
The other half of the mask suddenly rematerialized over the remains of Elias’s head. The arms’ eyes went black and a few moments later, the eye in the mask flashed several times before turning completely red; the remaining limbs began to violently twitch and shake.
A bloodcurdling, inhuman scream echoed through the room.
To be continued...
Thank you so much for reading! This seemed a little rushed, but worry not, for the story continues in Part 2!