Actions

Work Header

They Were Wrong

Chapter Text

“Thirty seconds out from the extraction point. I will- What? Mayday, mayday, mayday, I have been hit! Losing altitude!”

 

It all happened too fast. 

One minute in the sky and the next minute spent spiralling out of control.

 

Vision slowly began to seep in through the black. The dull ache began to grow into something fiery, forcing his brain to gear into overdrive, jerking up into a sitting position. The strange, reddish-orange fog seemed to haze up his brain, forcing his attention onto what pain he had. He glanced down for only a moment before needing to remove his helmet hastily, pull off his balaclava, and lean out of the broken window, emptying whatever contents remained in his body.

He wheezed, trying to collect himself. You’re fine, you’ve been through worse, you’re fine .

Forcing himself to look again, he choked down the panicky feeling that began building up. His grip tightened around his helmet, checking around, barely able to remember where he was. He looked back down, right at the piece of rebar that tore through his jeans, red stains stretching out of view and soaking just about his entire leg. He steeled himself and reached down, grasping the end of the rebar that stuck through the bottom, relieved to know it hadn’t pierced through his chair, which meant the rebar had broken on both ends. He wasn’t stuck. 

He grimaced, attempting to open his door. Realising it wouldn’t budge, he carefully turned himself to not agitate his leg, kicking the door with the working one, gritting his teeth. The door unhinged fairly easily, since having sustained plenty of damage in the crash. He donned his helmet, peering out the side. It wasn’t a far fall but, it would fucking hurt.  

He inhaled and dropped down, heavily landing on his good leg and collapsing at the ache that shot through his body. The rebar knocked against the ground, ripping out of his leg with a disgusting sound. He sunk his teeth into his gloved hand in time to muffle the loud screams that tore out of him.

He heaved, resting his head against the floor, exhausted. His voice hoarse and quiet now, he pulled himself up to a sitting position, a feat that took a lot of energy from him.

Dazedly he looked around, trying to figure out whether the others realised he crashed.

He froze.

A large, spined Rooter stood only a few meters from him, sniffing the air and inspecting the area. It slowly turned, fiery-red eyes directly on him. The Rooter disappeared into the ground, before reappearing in front of him-. It leaned over him, sniffing curiously, and he connected the action to a curious dog of sorts. He stared back at it as it leaned closer, lifting one of those spikes to tap lightly on his visor. It brought back the spine and he brought his arm up, closing his eyes.

CRACK!

His eyes flickered open, slowly dropping his arm down. The Rooter was flat-backed on the ground, a round hole sitting in the centre of its forehead. His arms wobbled and gave out under him, letting him fall back against the hard floor. Unknown words bore through his brain as a blurred figure in a bright yellow hazmat suit kneeled by him. He focused on them, the face slowly registering in his brain.

“Gustave?” his voice was raspy and strained, slurring over every letter.

“Are you alright? Any difficulty breathing?”

“Nnno… my leg,” he gritted his teeth, letting out wheezy breaths. “Rebar… went right t- gh- through.”

“Stay still, you’ll be fine in no time.”

He bit into his lip harshly as Doc carefully moved him into a sitting position. The Frenchman tilted his head to the side, his lips pressing into a thin line. “I’ll need to wrap it as soon as possible, you’ve lost quite a bit of blood.”

He nodded shakily.

“Tachanka, I want your turret in a position where you can see the entire room, as best you can. Lion, keep your gun trained on those front doors, Finka you as well. Buck, put that Skeleton Key to work by targetting anything that comes through those side doors.”

Doc received multiple confirmations from the other operators he didn’t know were there. He bit into his wrist as Doc had to move his leg in order to wrap it properly, his teeth nearly piercing through the fabric. He ignored how wet his face was to attain a little bit of dignity.

The sound of gunfire caught on his ears, looking at the two new CBRN additions. They had opened fire on what seemed to be more of those zombie-like humanoids, of which he hadn’t learned of their new name quite yet. A flash of red crossed his vision, forming into a familiar shape. He grasped Doc’s wrist, stilling him. Doc opened his mouth to speak.

“A...pex.”

The Apex appeared from practically thin air, a tendril lashing out at Finka, who staggered in response. Lion reached out a hand to steady her, yelling something he couldn’t quite catch.

Doc stared at him for a moment, lifting a hand to his ear. “Finka, focus fire on that Apex!” He dropped his gaze back onto him. “The helicopter is almost here, just a few more seconds.”

The few seconds crawled by in desperate struggle, ammo having been worn dry. The mechanical whir caught his attention.

“Let’s get you back on your feet, shall we?”

Doc draped his arm over his shoulder. He seethed as his leg buckled out, pressing a hand to his side and groaning. They struggled to the helicopter, Doc hurriedly getting him in and strapping him to the seat carefully. He waved in the others, sitting down beside him, shutting the door once Tachanka got in.

“How’s the pilot doing?”

The pilot’s name is… name… my name?

Doc looked over at Lion, responding in a monotone, yet sharp voice he hadn’t heard in years. “Jäger is doing better, but I’ll be able to do more once we reach HQ.”

Jäger... Me? He scrunched up his nose. That’s right. Your name is Marius “Jager” Streicher. You’re a GSG9 operator working under Rainbow.

His head hurt.

 

Jäger woke up covered in bandages, and an IV tube sticking into his arm. He grimaced, lifting his head, ignoring the headache that mercilessly brought a hammer to his skull over and over. He looked over at the mass of stitchings and bandaging, his breathing increasing slightly.

“... I don’t know if he’s stable, Doc hasn’t kept me up to date with him- yes I know that, alright fine, but if he’s still out, I’m not sorry.”

Kapkan stepped into the whitewashed tent, stopping in his tracks. “I take it back. He’s awake.”

Jäger stared as Kapkan halted near his bed before it clicked that there was something separating them. The Russian donned some sort of mask and gloves, before stepping through the unzipped door.

“Glad to see you up and moving,” he rumbled. Jäger blinked before nodding. 

“As am I. Who’s on the phone?”

“Bandit. No clue how he got my number, I suspect Fuse. He wants to talk to you.”

Jäger nodded slowly, carefully sitting up in the bed, pushing himself up enough to prop his back up. Kapkan handed him the phone and stepped out, zipping up the door once more. Jäger lifted the phone to his ear.

“H...Hello?”

“Marius?! Oh, thank fuck, you’re alive!” On the other end, Bandit sounded extremely relieved. “When Ash informed us about you crashing, I didn’t know what to think. Elias had to leave the room, I thought he was about to break something.”

Jäger gave a weak laugh, before grimacing and curling his arm over his chest. Note to self, laughing hurts.

“Well, I’m certainly alright now, just a couple injuries here and there, I’ll be good to go for the next mission, hopefully.”

Kapkan looked over at that.

“Next mission?! No, absolutely not. You were in a helicopter crash, Jäger. You’re not going on another mission until you’re completely healed!”

“Yeah, whatever mom. I’ll listen to you when you’re actually telling me that face-to-face, yeah?”

“Jäger don’t you dare-” Jäger hung up the phone, looking over at Kapkan and held up the phone. He stepped in, holding out a baggy. Jäger snorted quietly, setting the phone in the baggy. 

“This quarantine thing is quite extreme, no?”

“Well, it’s to be expected, especially with how quick the contagion spread.”

Jäger nodded and lied back down. Kapkan left without another word, and he fell back into a pitiful sleep.

 

Horrific imagery plagued his mind throughout his sleep. Sights of his coworkers, his friends, succumbing to the virus, or falling to the virus himself and having to be gunned down by his friends.

He woke up screaming, ripping himself from the bed and knocking down the IV stand, attempting to stay upright. A sob tore through his already strained throat as he buckled under the agonising pain. Shouting sounded from outside his tent, the flaps flying open as Thermite and Ash rushed inside, guns at the ready.

“..ger, Jäger!” Jordan’s voice barely reached out over the white noise that built up into his head. So much sound, too much sound, and he couldn’t hear himself, he couldn’t hear himself screaming.

A hazmat suit appeared in his vision, and he reacted.

He brought a hand back, lashing out at it, the fabric catching in his claws… claws?

Jäger scrambled backward, wrapping his hand around his wrist and holding it close to his chest. He stared down at it, watching as the black claws slowly reverted into the same, pale fingers he was accustomed to. Jäger looked back up to see Thermite staring right at him.

“I… I…” he couldn’t get the words out, why couldn’t he just talk?!

“It’s okay, you’re here, Marius. What happened?” Thermite’s calming voice washed over him, and he relaxed slightly. He motioned to his head.

“...dreams. Nightmares.”

“Are you able to talk about it?” at that Jäger shook his head, hugging himself.

“What’s wrong… with me?”

Thermite looked over his shoulder toward Ash, who slowly nodded. He slowly turned back around, looking the pilot in the eye.

“Doc suspects you attained some sort of strain of the virus, and it’s apparently slowly affecting you. Doc himself headed out on a mission with a few others to track down a doctor by the name of Mackintosh, saying that she may have a cure.”

Jäger was horrified, staring at Thermite with wide eyes. “In...fected?”

The Texan sighed, helping Jäger back onto the bed. “Doc will find a cure for you, Jäger, you’ll be fine.”

With that, they left him to wallow in the grim news.

 

“Absolutely not!”

Jäger glowered at Doc, crossing his arms. “Why not? I’m able to walk around now, which means I can fly a helicopter!”

“Perhaps you are cleared physically, but that does not mean you are cleared mentally! What if you experience muscle spasms? Panic about crashing again? Besides, we still aren’t done with the cure.”

The pilot turned away, beginning to pace in the quarantine cell. He felt caged in, vulnerable. He tightened his fists, his knuckles going white for a moment. 

“Fine. Fine, fine, fine.” Jäger threw his hands into the air, stopping. “At least give me something to do so I’m not bored out of my mind, so I don’t feel like a fucking prisoner.”

“The best I can do is get some radios, maybe an engine, for you to tinker with.”

“That’ll be fine.”

 

What used to be a rare occurrence of boredom became almost every other hour, where he would sit on his bed and force his hand to go through that transformation of the claw, to hand, over and over. Slowly, but surely, it became easier and easier to do, going as far as to meld the claws together into a single spike, like how the Rooters were. That, however, resulted in a slight panic as Jäger couldn’t undo it for a good twenty or thirty minutes.

Although, he had to hide the… ‘ability’ any time someone came in to check on how he was doing. Doc had made a comment on how the parasite didn’t seem to affect him as much, or as quickly, as all the other cases did. It had been a week and he hadn’t shown any of the usual, rage-inducing symptoms, besides the time he lashed at Thermite.

“You’ll be fine in no time,” Doc had told him, “the Operation is almost over, and then we can get you to a more comfortable quarantine. The cure should be developed much, much faster after that.”

He’ll be fine in no time.

 

Jäger had realised three things during his stay. One, his irises were beginning to redden, yet his pupils remained the same, pitch-black as always, unlike how most infected had shiny, pale pupils. He had learned this when Buck, ever so patient Buck, came in to chat and play Battleship with him. The Canadian was quick to point out both factors when Jäger began to panic about it.

Two, he could sometimes see through objects, items on the other side being outlined by a light shade of red. Jäger found this out quickly when he realised he could see through the barrier that separated Buck’s moves and him, and although the temptation of cheating came to mind, he quickly brought this up. They experimented with what types of material he could see through, how thick the material needed to be, and how far he could see. Cloth, any type of fabric really, was a no go for Jäger, but a lot of other things they got their hands on was fair game. Anything thicker than three inches wasn’t revealing, and Jäger could see things about twelve metres, or forty feet. Later on, Buck jokingly suggested they got a new game to play.

Three, Jäger had sharp teeth. He’d learned this in a painful manner, for when his gloves refused to come off, he went to bite the fabric to pull it off, only for a tooth to pierce the fabric and the pad of his finger. That was quite a thing to lie about to Doc, who had inspected the entire tent for anything sharp, not able to find anything, Jäger keeping tight-lipped the entire time. As soon as Doc had left, he checked the small mirror, noting that most of his teeth were more pointed, like a canine.

He’ll be fine in no time. Right?

 

Truth or Consequences had taken a turn for the worse, enough for Thermite to get his wish. Jäger watched from the safe distance as the mushroom cloud rose up, covering the horizon in ash and debris. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen a nuke, but it was the first time he was in person for it. All the documentaries about the testing in New Mexico, yet the black and white film didn’t do it justice, the mushroom cloud all sorts of reds, yellows, and oranges.

They could leave.

 

As expected, Jäger was moved from one quarantine to the next, the new one having a proper bed, padded floor, and whitewashed walls. Mildly eerie in his opinion, but it was better than nothing. Here he could look out reinforced windows, watch as birds flew by as a calm distraction. Well. It was calm, at least until a specific defender tried kicking down the door.

Key word being tried.

He looked up at the sound of a loud yelp, squinting his eyes. Glass had a weird effect on the enhanced sight, but through the haze, he could see a familiar German storming in and immediately starting a shouting match with Doc.

Jäger carefully got up, hobbling over to the window and knocking a knuckle against it. “Wait until Doc’s had his coffee at least, ja?”

The shouting ceased, Bandit’s head snapping over so fast Jäger half expected him to get whiplash. Doc’s expression turned to one of suppressed relief, sitting back down at his desk, resuming his conversation with Mackintosh, who had wisely stayed out of it.

“How are you doing?” Bandit leaned against the window, keeping eye contact and looking apprehensive. He was likely trying to figure out why his friend had red eyes.

“Good. Better than earlier.” Jäger patted the bandages on his thigh, gently, ignoring how much of an ache it had. He flashed Bandit a thin-lipped smile. “How about you? The others?”

“IQ has been more of a worried mom than usual,” Dominic rolled his eyes, grinning lightly. “Blitz has reached a level that’s worse than IQ, and would not stop calling Ash. She had to block his number!”

Marius barked out a laugh, amused. “As to be expected, at least someone cared,” he teased.

“You can’t say shit, Mr I-hang-up-on-my-friends,” Dominic huffed out, crossing his arms and glaring.

“Well you got your wish anyways, Doc wouldn’t let me anywhere because-” Jäger paused now, his gaze flicking to Doc. The man shook his head slowly. “-I was still hurt.”

Dom’s eyes narrowed slightly. Jäger shrugged helplessly with an expression of, ‘what can you do’.

“When do you think you’ll be done with quarantine?”

The question took him off guard, looking to the GIGN operative for help. Doc gave a shrug when Bandit looked over. “We’re not sure. The injury was deep, and we need to make sure that because of the injury, he wasn’t affected by the virus.”

Bandit frown increased. “He has red eyes.”

“It’s a small affliction. Nothing serious, and possibly permanent.”

Permanent?

I suppose it does up my threatening look? Jäger thoughts, focusing on his reflection with a frown. 

“How about you visit tomorrow, Bandit? I’ll keep you, and the rest of the GSG9, updated with his status. It’s quite late.”

Bandit sighed, looking resigned and weary, a look Jäger rarely saw besides when he spoke of the times undercover.

“Make sure he gets better, got it?”

“You have my word, Dominic.”

He turned to Jäger, crossing his arms. “You better get better, you hear me? No bullshit allowed.”

“You’ll be taking all the bullshit with you,” Jäger smiled. “I’ll be fine.”

Bandit turned around and left.

 

I’ll be fine.

Chapter Text

I spent another two weeks stuck in this cage before I was given the ‘cure’ Doc and Mackintosh had created.

 

“Jäger,” I looked up from the radio, eyeing the window. Doc stood at the see-through glass, clipboard in hand, Mackintosh right next to him. I stood up, walking over and crossing my arms.

“What’s going on?”

Doc and Mac exchanged glances, which was either concerning or good. I leaned closer to the glass, squinting. 

“We’ve completed the cure,” Gustave finally announced, and I let out a sharp exhale. I’ll be able to leave this godforsaken place.

“Will this mean I get to leave?”

Doc nodded. “Once a day has passed and you show no symptoms, besides your eyes and teeth, you’ll be allowed to go back to base.”

I let out a long sigh, relieved. Doc disappeared for a few moments, a door opening to the side of me, wearing a simple surgical mask instead of the full hazmat suit. That in itself was more comforting to me than anything else so far.

I thought back to how my hands could change to claws, how I was slowly seeing further with my new sight. What I had was amazing, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give it up yet.

It’s useful but dangerous. I have no choice in the matter, what Doc believes is good for me is what’s good for me.

So I forced himself to relax as Gustave held up the syringe. 

“This will only sting a bit, Marius.”

He stuck it into my neck, taking me off guard almost immediately, and when Doc moved away, I clasped my hand over it. “Could’ve told me it was going in my fucking throat.”

“Had I told you, you would have tensed more, no?”

“Still,” I grimaced, glaring. He didn’t feel any different. 

Did I feel a little woozy?

 

I woke up in bed with a headache. I slowly sat up, blinking rapidly. What? What had happened? I rubbed my eyes and stood up, feeling a little better, the headache receding slowly.

“Doc? Dr Mackintosh?”

A head poked out from behind the wall and into view. Doc brightened, standing up straight. “Ah, Jäger! You’re doing alright! I was just checking up on your vitals.”

“How long was I out?”

“A day!”

I stared at the Frenchman, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. “A day?”

“Yes. Which means you are able to leave quarantine and head back to the main building. Let me get the door.”

I waited, jittery and fiddling with my thumbs. Was I really able to leave? What if Doc was wrong about me? What if I was still infected? My thoughts were interrupted by the door opening, Doc holding out some folded clothes.

“I had Blitz bring me those yesterday. Thought you’d rather them. Changing room is to the left.”

I nodded my thanks to Gustave, slipping past and pausing, turning to him. “You should get some rest, ja? You look like you need it.”

I shut the door behind me.

 

I inhaled slowly, gazing at the clouded sky with a small grin, listening to the wind for a moment. I missed this. I looked down, straightening my shirt and noted how much I was craving some actual food, instead of that bullshit I had in the quarantine. Sauerkraut sounded amazing. I waved to Smoke, who was leaning against the wall and messing with a yo-yo, as I walked inside. The short man waved back for a moment before double-taking and dropping the yo-yo, hurrying over to his friend.

“Marius! You’re alive!” James dramatically slung his arm over my shoulders, forcing me to stop and bend over slightly. “Quite the chompers you have now, eh?! Perfect for Halloween, too!”

I stared at him for a minute. “Eh? Oh, yeah, I suppose so- what have I missed?”

Smoke let me go, retrieving his yo-yo and coming back, walking beside me. “So stuff has been pretty boring, but all of us had to quarantine for about a week, which is nothing compared to yours. We’re getting new guys in about a week, Alibi and… Master- no, Maestro, coming out from Italy. Oh! And Thatcher punched Lion in the face. GIGN and us were at odds for a while, though Doc was kinda on our side. Mark even threw a biscuit at Twitch, though that might have been something to do with stuff happening in the workshop. I’ve never seen Monty so angry at Mike in my life!”

“Sounds pretty crazy.” I glanced around, eyeing the walls. “How close are we to the dining hall? I’m craving something that doesn’t taste like medicine and sawdust.”

“Right over here, come on. Seamus is cooking at the moment, I think, I bet he’ll whip up something German for you!”

We reached the double doors, James lightly kicking the door open with ease. A couple of operators dotted the seats, each one doing their own thing. Echo sat off in the corner, meddling with his Yokai drone, a cup of instanoodles next to him. Castle was flicking through his phone next to Vigil, conversing with each other in what Marius assumed was Korean. Kapkan was speaking quietly with Jackal, and Sledge could be seen through the kitchen window, an unfamiliar man with him. I tilted my head in confusion, barely able to think about it before James grabbed my forearm, dragging me along. 

Echo glanced up for a moment, staring directly at us and lifted a hand in greeting, eyebrows raised. I figured that was the Japanese man’s way of saying ‘welcome back’, since I knew that he wasn’t all for socialisation.

I got a few other greetings, a vocal, “Welcome back from the dead, man!” from Castle, while I got a few waves from the others, along with a light smile from Jackal.

Smoke halted at the window, hitting the bell an obnoxious amount of times, interrupting Sledge’s conversation. “James, I swear if you- ah, Marius! How was quarantine?”

“Hell, especially without your food,” I rested my forearms on the ledge, peering in. “Speaking of your food, it smells delicious. What is it you’re making?”

Seamus gave a small smile, gesturing to the man beside him. “It’s actually Adriano here that’s been cooking it. Some sort of… what was it again?”

“Panzanella!” a thick Italian accent drew my attention over to the man, Adriano. “Ah, right, I should introduce myself! My name is Adriano Martello, but here I am codenamed ‘Maestro’.”

“Ooh, so you’re the new operator! Or at least one of ‘em. I thought you were coming next week?” I nudged James with my elbow. “OH, right, I’m James Porter, but on the field I’m Smoke!”

James looked over to me, and he responded with a shrug, eyeing the tall Italian. Seamus and Adriano seemed to be at ease with each other, perhaps they knew one another? It seemed likely. That fact alone made me feel like it was a little easier to speak with the Italian.

“Marius Streicher,  Jäger. Good to meet you.”

“Good to meet both of you! I believe I met your colleague, ah, Eli was it?”

“Close, Elias.”

“Right, right! Elias. Nice fellow. Was in quite a rush to get to the quarantine wing, not sure why.”

My small smile turned a little strained, changing into more of a grimace.

James made a noise, turning to me while looking at the two. “Seamus, Seamus, check out his eyes and teeth! Isn’t it so cool looking!”

If my smile hadn’t disappeared, it certainly did now, a complete grimace now. I glared at James from the corner of my eye, crossing my arms. Seamus set down the towel, leaning forward a little to get a closer look. “Jesus mate, didya talk to Doc ‘bout it?”

“He said it’s a permanent side effect from... It.”

Seamus’s mouth pressed into a thin line as he nodded slowly, leaning back. “Well, certainly would work well for any pranks Bandit might cook up. He’s been waiting until you got back, y’know that?”

“Oh. Shit.”

“Jus’ a forewarning, so be careful. Could be lurkin’ around anywhere.”

“Thanks, Seamus. Say, got anything quick that doesn’t taste like sawdust?”

 

I sat down across the table from James and now Mute, who had come into the mess hall a little before they sat down. Mark stared at me as I chomped down on the sandwich, enjoying every second of it.

Scheisse, I am so glad I’m not eating any more of whatever Doc got me. Nasty stuff, it was.”

“Your-”

“Augen?” I cleared my throat. “Sorry. Eyes? Yeah. They’re a permanent thing now.”

“Jesus, how bad was the crash?”

I set my sandwich down, glancing down, curling my hand into a fist. “Bad. Hurt a lot too. Not a clue on what shot me down though, possibly an Apex?” James shrugged at that. “I got lucky though. I wasn’t pinned or anything, and I only broke some fingers, the worst thing was the rebar.”

James looked up from his own food at that. “Rebar? You weren’t brought back with any rebar.”

“Exactly. Piece of rebar went right through my leg, my upper leg,” I brushed my thumb over the spot, focusing on the crumb on the table. “When I got myself out of the helicopter, I landed bad, and the rebar removed itself from its spot. Faced off with a Rooter for a couple of seconds, got extracted, you know the rest. I was soaked in blood for a reason, James.”

James’s nose scrunched up. “That’s a disgusting mental image I didn’t want.”

“Are you all healed up now?” Mark asked.

“Yeah. A couple of months doing nothing does wonders. Though I gotta do a couple of stretches before I do anything big. Certainly the worst vacation I’ve been on.” I smiled lightly.

“I don’t doubt it,” Mark stood up as I finished off my sandwich. “I’ve got to go help Mira with something about Ash, again.”

“Hah, good luck with that mate,” James got up as well. “I’ve got some shooting practise to go over, want to come, Marius?”

“Might as well. Got to brush up on it since I haven’t done much about it in weeks.”

We headed for the doors, and I opened the doors. In seconds, everything went dark as a sharp cold washed over my body, literally.

A loud, very familiar laugh tore through the moment of silence, followed closely by James’ laughter.

I slowly removed the metal bucket off my head, disbelief flickering through my mind. Did Bandit seriously use the oldest prank in the book on me? And it worked?

I glared at the laughing man, holding up the bucket and shoving it over his head in response, banging my fist on the top of it. The bucket emitted a loud clang that caught the attention of Kapkan, who was just leaving the mess hall.

“Nice helmet, Bandit. New style?” the hunter flicked the front of the bucket as he eyed my soaked clothing. He lifted a brow, slightly amused, and rested his elbow on the top of the bucket. “I see Bandit’s back in order with his pranks.”

Bandit shoved him off, removing the bucket, still grinning. “God, the look on your face was amazing, holy shit!”

I huffed, crossing my arms and glaring. “Thanks for soaking me to the bone, dick.”

“Not a problem!” Bandit laughed, while Kapkan squinted, taking the time to comment, “Your eyes and teeth are the same.”

“Yeah, Gustave said it was a permanent thing. I’m just hoping my teeth are thick enough not to snap in half. I doubt I can regrow them like a shark.”

Kapkan gave a noncommittal hum, walking off. I sighed, wringing out the ends of my shirt. “Looks like I gotta wait for firing practise. Besides, I don’t doubt that Thatcher will be throwing training at me soon.”

“Yeah, alright mate. See you two around!”

I began heading back to the GSG9 quarters, Bandit speed-walking after me. He looked so proud of himself. 

“Good to see you not looking like a brain-dead zombie, Marius,” Bandit said in our language and elbowed me lightly on the shoulder. “How’s it feel being cured and free?”

I tilted my head, thinking. “I do feel… the same I suppose? But it is very nice to be out. Never thought I’d miss England’s weather.”

“Ah, don’t worry, you’ll hate it again soon enough.”

I smiled, nodding lightly and opening the door to their quarters, only to find myself in a bone-crushing hug. I let out a grunt and was finally set down, so I took the time to glare at Blitz, who was positively beaming.  

“Marius, you’re looking great! I see Bandit already messed up the clothes I got you, it feels like not much has changed! How’s the leg?”

I waved my hand dismissively. “It’s perfectly fine. Left behind a scar that won’t be going away for some time, that’s for sure.”

Bandit shoved his way past Blitz, glancing over his shoulder. “You coming?”

“Yes, yes.” I headed in, almost immediately flopping onto the couch, sighing. “What time is it?”

“Dude, you’re still wet. And almost 1700.”

I rolled onto my back, leaning up against the couch arm, pressing my lips into a thin line. 

“Ah, that reminds me! Sledge said that dinner would be ready at 17:30. Better get ready because he said it’s good.” With that, Blitz headed out of the room, batting at his messy hair.

“You heard the man!” Dominic was quick to hurry after Elias.

I sighed softly, heading into my own, separate room, pulling open a couple of the drawers and picking out new clothes. Once redressed and dry, I closed the drawers and carelessly threw the wet clothes into the laundry basket I had.

I paused, lifting my hand to stare at it. Just maybe... I focused on it for only a couple of moments before my eyes went wide. 

The obsidian-like black ended right at my wrist, fading into my normal skin colour, and my fingers had morphed into the same sharp claws as before.

I wasn’t cured.

Chapter Text

I entered the mess hall feeling jittery and unnerved. My head kept flashing images of Truth or Consequences over and over, ever since I realised I wasn’t safe. I sat down between Bandit and Fuze, the latter of which welcomed me back with a pat on the shoulder. I rested my forearms on the table, frowning slightly.

“You look like someone kicked you out of the workshop, what’s up?” Bandit set an elbow on the table, placing his head in his hand as he stared at me.

“Just realising how much good food I’ve missed out on,” I managed what I hoped was a convincing smile, straightening up. I watched as other operators entered the hall, choosing their seats. Watched as when Vigil, Blackbeard, and Dokkebi walked in, Dokkebi immediately steered clear from Vigil. I assumed she still hasn’t gotten over her fear of him. 

It was quiet, calm.

Nice things don’t like to last.

Loud, French shouting broke through the doors, catching everyone’s attention. Across the room, Gilles stood up, while Fuze muttered a quiet, “Not again.”

I got up as well, quickly following Gilles out to see Doc and Lion in a shouting match, both looking very pissed off. Lion shoved Doc back, yelling what was likely obscenities in French, to which Doc brought an arm back. Faster than I thought he could move, Montagne was between the two, separating them immediately.

“The hell do you two think you’re doing?!” Gilles snapped, eyeing the two operators in sheer annoyance. “Gustave, you are more professional than petty fights. Must I remind you that there are two injured Recruits in your office? And Lion, I thought I told you to quit with this!”

“He started it!” Lion shot back, glaring at Doc and crossing his arms. Doc seemed to swell up, jutting a finger toward Lion. “Why you-”

“Gustave! Office! Now! Olivier, you’re coming with me.”

I watched, owl-eyed in surprise. Did Doc and Lion hate each other that much? And I thought me sending him documentaries at three in the morning pissed him off, but this? This was definitely more. Olivier caught my stare and glared back, before getting dragged off by Monty, who definitely seemed more than annoyed. 

“Seems I’ll need to get another appointment with him,” a smooth, familiar voice stated beside me. I glanced over to see Harry, arms folded with a thoughtful expression. The man turned to me, stating, “But that’s for another time. As of right now, I’d like to request that you come to visit me.”

I moved my hands into my pockets, lifting a brow at Harry. “And why do you think I need to do that?”

“Because of the Operation. You and I both know. You look exhausted, Marius, and I doubt you’ve slept well.”

I sighed softly, annoyed with how easy the man before me was able to read what I was thinking. “After dinner. 1900. I’ll… be at your office.”

Harry gave me a gentle smile and turned away, walking off with a calm, “I’ll see you there.”

I stared until he disappeared around the corner, before turning and walking back into the mess hall. Bandit and Fuze both glanced up, both with an expectant expression on their faces.

“Lion and Doc got into a fight. Doc almost punched Lion before Montagne intervened. Another shouting match almost started again before Gilles shouted at Gustave to go to his office and dragged Lion off by the ear. It was pretty interesting, though I’m not sure what happened.”

Fuze blinked slowly. “You… don’t know?”

“Know what?”

“Lion and Doc were on the same team,” Bandit started this time, “during the Ebola pandemic, in 2015. Lion made some choices that got Doc’s colleague, and several others, killed, which pissed Doc off and still pisses him off. Both think they’re right. Olivier thinks Gustave’s humanitarianism is a liability, while Gustave hates Olivier’s lack of empathy.”

Both Fuze and I stared at him. He blinked before shrugging. “Both have confided in me before I had to chase them off to Harry. Pretty sure Olli’s given me more information than Harry.”

Fuze snorted, mumbling “Olli” under his breath while I lifted a brow. “They willingly confided in you?”

“Well, yeah. Doc’s known me for a while, obviously, and Lion just started talking about it when we were sharing our old favourite rock bands. Dude’s alright, though he tends to tread on others’ toes while trying to avoid Doc.”

Both of us just kept staring before Fuze snickered. “Olli totally has a crush on you.”

Dominic spluttered, taken aback by the Uzbek’s words, unable to respond. He settled with a short, “fuck off,” while flipping him off.

I patted his shoulder in mock comfort, snickering, before glancing up toward the kitchen. “Foods up, come on.”

Arriving at the kitchen, I collected my own plate, thanking Maestro, who stopped his conversation with Sledge to smile at me. I hummed, and headed back to the table, sitting down. Fuze sat down across from me, resting his elbows on the table. “So, how’s it like being out of quarantine?”

“Better,” I took a bit, sighing happily. “God that’s so good.”

“New guy really knows how to cook,” Bandit set his tray down loudly, sitting down. “Maybe I could request some Hasenpfeffer.”

“Hah, maybe.”

“Is it just me, or do Adriano and Seamus seem like they know each other?” I took another bite, glancing at the two. Bandit shrugged where Fuze nodded. “I think they worked together. Not sure what because it’s been the one thing Seamus has been secretive about.”

“Weird. Do you think it’s big?”

“Nah,” Shuhrat waved his hand. “Probably something personal.”

I tapped my fingers against the table, finishing the pasta before switching the topic, “Has Thatcher said anything about training?”

“Ah!” Dominic snapped his fingers. “Right. Mike said you and Shuh,” he narrowly avoided a fork to the hand as he stole a grape from Shuhrat’s tray, “have training right after lunch, no matter what plans you have.”

I blinked. “But, I-”

“No, Marius, you’re not getting out of this. I miss cluster charging your ass too much.”

I sighed quietly, watching as Fuze warded Bandit away from his food with the fork. Hopefully, Harry will be patient.

 

It was 2 to 2, and I was already patterned with white and red dust. At one point I thought I was bleeding, but after a quick check, I seemed to be fine. So far, the Magpie placements have been working well, destroying the charges and Ying’s Candelas.

Though the overhead lights were enough for me. When I had complained about it, Vigil glanced over, stating that the room was darker than usual.

“ROUND BEGIN. MATCH POINT.”

I sent a salute to Doc, who was reloading his gun with new anger, and left the room. 

I glanced around the simulated theme park, slipping between the trains, gun up.

Turning the corner, I just barely managed to avoid a spray of bullets, ducking into the other room hurriedly. I brought my gun up and fired, receiving a loud swear in response.

“5v4.”

I sighed and began making my way back to the office, crouched low and steady.

“Lion’s hid out in the control room, gun pointed at the door.”

“Copy, on my way.”

I listened to comms intently, grimacing at the sunlight that filtered through the skylight above me. Squinting, I lifted my gun up at the sound of a nearby barricade breaking, slinking through the trains. A bad feeling crept up my spine, my grip tightening.

A click and the sound of something rolling against the ground echoed, and the blinding flashes hit like a truck. Searing pain shot through my eyes as everything went a white brighter than normal. I snapped them shut, going down on one knee, struggling to unstrap the helmet. I faintly heard Ying step in, barely felt the pellets hit against my vest, the distant 4v4 sounding overhead.

Ying seemed to be saying something, but all the white noise in my head blocked everything out, and everything was still white- click.

I staggered to my feet, tearing off my helmet and dropping it to the ground, pushing my palms up against my eyes. Something wet and warm pooled up against them as I started registering sound and sight. My back slammed against the train wall, and I slumped down.

“2v2.”

Ying and Vigil were before me, both covered with bits of powder, Vigil crouched down to keep eye level. He stopped snapping his fingers in front of my face, dropping his hand down. 

“What… what happened?”

“Something in Ying’s Candelas set you off. I’d guess something to do with the crash.”

“ROUND END. DEFENDERS WIN.”

I pulled my hands back, staring at the blood that had started building upon the palms. Ignoring how my head pounded, I wobbled to my feet. Vigil followed suit, watching carefully. 

“You’re bleeding.”

I wiped away the red that blotched up under my eye. “I’ll talk to Doc.”

Ying gave me a concerned glance, yet left anyways. Vigil stared at me before stepping in front of the doorway.

“Let me leave, Vigil.”

“There’s something going on with you, sanyangkkun, and it’s affecting how you work. What if this was a real mission?” Vigil had his arms crossed, his strict gaze piercing through his mask. “You’d die.”

I stared at the Korean, tightening my hands into fists. “Get out of my way.”

“And what if I don’t? Tell me what’s going on.”

My mouth felt dry as he stared back, silent.

“Why do you care?”

“Because,” Vigil responded shortly, his tone even, “you’re my teammate, and I prefer my teammates alive. I also want to make sure that whatever is going on with you, won’t get someone else killed.”

“It…” I blanked for a moment. Would the infection take over? Would I try to kill someone? “It won’t hurt anyone,” he paused, quickly adding, “what’s going on with me, I mean.”

Vigil continued his stare for a few, long seconds before walking off, holstering his shotgun on his back. I sighed quietly, relieved, and headed off to visit Doc. Harry can wait.

 

“Ah, Marius, good that you showed up.”

I sat down in the leather chair, picking up one of the pens sitting on Harry’s desk, fiddling with it. “Sorry I’m late, I got stuck with training, something happened, then had to deal with an angry Doc.”

“I presume Lion was on the attacking team, then?”

I simply nodded, looking down at the pen.

“Tell me, how do you feel?”

“Tired.”

“And why is that?”

I frowned. “A lot has happened already since I left quarantine, and it’s only been a day. Running around all day, training, being pranked and spoken to almost every few seconds. And me getting injured was practically the icing to that whole pain cake!” I flung my hands up out of annoyance, releasing the pen and sending it flying across the room. “Sorry.”

Harry waved his hand dismissively. “Can you tell me what happened during training?”

I nodded lightly. “Nothing too big really happened until match point. I guess my eyes have become more sensitive to light because when Ying’s Candela’s went off, it was like I doused my eyes in gasoline and lit them on fire.”

“Quite the description. It seems that your eyes share similarities to albinos, how their eyes are sensitive to light, yet yours seem to be much more extreme.”

“I figured that it could be a side-effect of the infection.”

Harry nodded. “Is that so?” with a click, the recording tape turned off, and Harry sat back, resting his hands on his knees. “Tell me what really ails you, Marius.”

I stared at the stopped recorder, my knee jumping up and down. “I… nothing said here is going to go to Six, right?”

“I stopped the recording for a reason.”

I wrung my wrist, glaring at my fingers. “It… it didn’t work.”

“What didn’t?”

“The cure.”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up, looking thoroughly surprised. He didn’t expect this, that was obvious. “Are you certain, Marius?”

I forced my hand back through the change, jutting a claw at Harry, snapping out, “Does this look cured to you?!”

Harry calmly moved my hand down, lifting a brow. “Perhaps it didn’t fully cure you, Marius, but you do seem to be in control of it. Perhaps it had its strength lessened?”

I sat back in the chair again, shoulders still rigid. “Maybe- I don’t know. I just… I don’t want to lose control. I don’t want to hurt my teammates.”

Harry observed me intently, clearly thinking. “I believe, with time, you will certainly be able to handle it. It is possible to exercise and practise your control on personal time, or during a few more chats between us, as long as you don’t break anything.”

I nervously chuckled, reverting the claws back to fingers. Harry lifted the recorder and clicked it on, stating, “I’ll be sure to ask Doc about getting some meds for that. Now, tell me about the crash…”

 

I left Harry’s office at almost 12 in the morning. I glanced around, noting how bright the dark was, even at this time. I headed down the halls, wide awake and alert. Stopping in front of the double doors, I peered around one more time before fishing out my keycard and unlocking the door, entering. Looking around the workshop, I let out a quiet sigh, a small smile on my face. It’d been a while since I stepped foot in here.

I walked over to the table, flicking on the overhead lights. I lifted up the large crate of scraps and set it down with a thunk, rifling through it. Humming lightly, I pulled up a stool, grabbed the box of busted electronics, and got to work, taking apart or repairing each, slowly but surely.

...practise your control on your personal time…

I sat back, apprehensive. I thought about how the Grunts and Rooters looked, the spiked arms and spines. Pulling off my jacket and focusing, I gripped the table, gritting my teeth as the unfamiliar feeling spiked through my body, edging on the feeling of pain. After a moment it ended, and I rolled my shoulders, stretching the two new spikes carefully. It was unfamiliar, controlling something that just grew out of my body, but after trial and error of dropping many things, I got the hang of it.

The spines passed items back and forth between the crate and table without me ever needing to turn around. I had been so far in my zone that I never heard the door unlock.

I spun around at the sound of a safety being flicked off.

There, standing in the doorway with a shotgun pointed directly at me, was Vigil.

Chapter Text

Silence. Complete silence held thick as I stared at Vigil, tenser than a spring. Neither of us spoke for ages, unmoving, before finally-

“You’re not cured,” he said it as a statement, his aim unwavering. I set down the electronic parts and forced the spines to retreat, lifting my hands up. Vigil stared at me intently.

“No.”

“You still have the infection.”

“Correct,” I began fidgeting nervously, my gaze flicking to the shotgun. Would I be able to get away without being hit with a slug? Vigil’s grip tightened, his gaze stony from behind the mask. “I-”

“Who else knows?” Vigil sharply cut in.

“I- Harry does, but that’s it,” panic was starting to set in, my mind clouding up. Was I going to be shot? Was Vigil going to kill me right here, right now?

“How long have you known?”

“Known? That I wasn’t cured? Yesterday, I swear.”

Another long silence ensued, Vigil examining me intently. To my surprise, he lowered the shotgun, and though his finger still settled on the trigger, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. I dropped my hands down to my sides, watching him warily.

“How’d you know something was wrong?” I slowly sat back down on the stool, stiff.

“The Candelas. No normal man bleeds from the eyes like that.” Vigil remained standing, poised and tense. A wry smile appeared on my face, strained and tired. 

“I should’ve figured,” I sighed quietly. “So, what are you going to do now? Inform Six?”

“Were you not listening to me earlier, Jäger? You’re my teammate, and I prefer my teammates alive. Taking you to Six would result in you being put down like a sick dog. I trust Harry, and if Harry knows and he hasn’t taken it to Six, then I won’t either.”

“Oh,” I let my shoulders drop, unable to keep away the look of relief. Vigil continued with, “Besides, I watched the footage from the operation, went over Doc’s notes, everything required. Your symptoms don’t match up with anything else, as if you gained a different strain of the virus, one more compliant, less malignant and more benign if that makes sense.”

“So basically, instead of being detrimental to my health… It's helping me?”

“You said you took a bar of rebar through your leg, right?” at my nod, he continued, “Normal injuries have a lasting effect, say like a limp. You never got that. Your ‘parasite’ healed it, completely.”

I leaned against the table, frowning. It made sense. I’d seen injuries like mine during operations, skirmishes, and more, and none properly recovered completely. I had been left with a scar, and that was that. I looked back to Vigil, who had finally set the gun on the table and take a seat on one of the other stools. Worry nagged at my mind. What if another operator found out? Would Six really put him down with no mercy? Or would he be thrown in prison for the rest of his life? What if-

“Marius,” Vigil’s voice broke through my thoughts, drawing my attention back. “You’re thinking too hard about this. Calm yourself before it gets overwhelming.”

“How’d you-”

“Grace gets worried a lot. Overthinks things, worries about losing her place here. I’ve learned the expressions to know when I need to keep my distance.”

I nodded slowly, trying to calm the racing thoughts that flooded my mind. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. A weak laugh escaped me. “I never knew you were so soft, Vigil.”

Even from behind the mask, Vigil looked slightly offended by that. “Are you calm now?”

“Ja.”

“Good, because I want you to tell me everything you know about this thing.”

And so I did, describing how it enabled him to see through thin walls and outline living things, and that Buck knew about this, acknowledging that if-Vigil enunciated the if-everything went to hell, the Canadian could be trusted. I explained how it was easier to see in the dark than before, though bright lights hurt more than usual, and followed up with demonstrating that I could change my hands to claws, or spikes. After a couple of questions, I admitted I was unsure if cutting someone with the claws could infect them. I proceeded to ramble about people I could trust about this.

“Buck is definite, he’s acknowledged how cool this stuff is. Bandit is the same, but he’d probably worry, and Blitz would become a mother hen. Doc is a maybe, especially if Lion is against me. Maybe Kapkan? He seems to like me, he did give me a dead animal once, and Glaz told me that’s his way of showing appreciation-”

“We can discuss this later,” Vigil interrupted. “It’s late.”

I glanced at the red, electronic clock. 04:47. Christ, it really was late. Had they really talked for that long? “Right, yeah. I’ll see you when I see you, I guess. Good night, Chul Kyung.”

Vigil nodded. “Good night, Marius.”

I headed out into the dark hallway, making my way toward the GSG9 quarters, just barely avoiding Jackal, who was roaming the halls, a usual occurrence. I closed my hand around the handle, quietly opening the door and closing it, stepping into the living room. The overhead lights snapped on, forcing me to cover my eyes with more of an annoyed hiss than a pained one. 

“The hell have you been, Marius?”

Bandit.

I squinted against the harsh lights to see Bandit sitting cross-legged on the couch arm, decked out in his leather jacket that had the red stripe, rather than the yellow. I grimaced, knowing for a fact that he wore that out of anxious habit.

“I had that appointment with Harry, remember?” I crossed my arms, trying to play it off. Dominic rubbed at his eyes.

“Last I heard, you were put with Doc with an injury from training. Bleeding from the eyes, Marius?!” I sighed, passing Dominic. I didn’t want to deal with this right now. His hand grabbed my wrist, pulling me down on the couch. “Don’t fucking ignore me, Mar! I- We just got you back- what’s going on?”

There it was. That desperate tone in his voice that I could never shake off. Bandit was scared.

“I- look, it’s just something with my eye affliction. They just make me really sensitive to light, so Ying’s Candela’s seriously hurt. I went to Doc, then straight to Harry. Our session just… lasted a while.”

“Until five in the morning!? I’m pretty certain that Harry is less of a night owl than Rook!”

I exhaled sharply, standing and throwing my arms up. “Okay, okay! I was in the workshop, Jesus! Can you drop it already?”

I stormed off into my room, ignoring how Bandit’s expression had flashed with hurt.

I’d deal with it tomorrow.

 

Waking up for breakfast wasn’t fun at all. I dragged after Elias, who was rambling about something that I hadn’t caught. Dominic was nowhere to be seen when I woke, Elias claiming that he said he’d be going to breakfast earlier. The back of my head nagged that no, he definitely wasn’t going to breakfast.

Exhaling, I stepped into the mess hall, surveying it for a moment. Unsurprisingly, Bandit was nowhere to be seen. What was surprising was Vigil already there, indicating at me. 

“I’ll see you later, Elias,” I held up a hand, interrupting him

“Eh- okay.”

I walked over fairly quickly, sitting across the table from the masked man. For a second I wondered briefly if he wore it, even when sleeping. “What’s up?”

“Something’s come up as a problem. About a year ago, I remember Mute and Echo talking with each other about installing a camera in the workshop so people can’t avoid taking responsibility for incidents.”

I felt the blood drain from my face, my fingers twitching a little. “Oh, Christ. I gotta destroy that camera-”

“We can’t do anything about it until the workshop is clear. Last I checked, Twitch was there, but she might have left for breakfast.”

I tapped my foot against the floor repetitively, wringing my wrists. After a bit, Castle joined us, stating that Blackbeard wasn't going to arrive until later. I listened to them chat, for the time being, eyes set on the doors. Why was Twitch taking so long? Normally she was here immediately, chatting away endlessly to Elena.

Mid-conversation I spotted Twitch and stood immediately, leaving the mess hall. I turned the corner and managed to run directly into Bandit. He stepped back quickly, quirking an eyebrow up in clear unamusement. “Where are you…” he paused when Vigil rounded the corner. “...two off to in such a hurry?”

“Workshop.”

“The both of you?”

I rocked back on my heels nervously. “Yep!”

Bandit narrowed his eyes, clearly suspicious. He looked from Vigil to me, then back to Vigil. He kept eye contact for a couple of seconds before stepping past, silent. I exhaled loudly, resuming my fast-walk.

“He’s suspicious.”

“No shit. That wasn’t the most convincing response.”

Vigil gave an annoyed, chuffing sound, keeping pace. We entered the, thankfully, empty workshop. I looked up squinting. Where the hell would it be? Focusing, the entire room turned a strange hue, each item outlined in sharp, bright red colour. At the top, stuck on the roof, was an old Yokai drone. “There, on the roof. It’s a cloaked Yokai. It… kinda looks like it got merged with one of Mute’s jammers?”

Vigil lifted his head, squinting. “I see it, barely. How’d you- right.”

“Now how do we take it down?”

It took only a couple minutes before I had my arm arched back with a bad idea. I threw the impact as hard as I could, a resounding bang crashing against the concrete ceiling. Sparks and parts fell from the ceiling.

 

Across the base, in the SAS quarters, a loud, blaring alert woke Mute.

Chapter Text

Mute unlocked his blaring phone, squinting, trying to read the message.

ALERT: WORKSHOP CAMERA 1-A HAS BEEN DESTROYED

He blinked in surprise. The workshop camera? No one knew of the camera, maybe it was busted on accident? Mark stood up, crossing the room over to one of the desks, pulling out a laptop. He opened the files, scrolling through to the latest one.

Movement from twelve to four in the morning? What the hell?

Mute double-clicked the videotape, pulling it open and checking the sound. At around twelve, Jäger entered the workshop, an oddly comforting sight for the Brit. Seems the mishap during training wasn’t too bad after all. The German sat down at one of the tables, pulling out a box of scraps and began to take them apart.

After a few minutes, though, he stopped, seemingly thinking hard. Jäger removed his jacket, concentrating, and to Mute’s horror, grew two spines akin to those of the Roaches. Jäger grimaced, stretching them out awkwardly, before attempting to pick up a wrench with one, proceeding to drop it to the floor. Mark stared in horrified curiosity, watching as Marius began to get used to the spines, managing to pick out each wrench with a spine and pass it to himself. At around one, the door opened slowly and silently, unbeknownst to Marius.

To Mark’s surprise, Vigil stepped in, and it quickly dawned on Mark that he was holding a shotgun. A click of the safety broke through the silence in the large room, causing Marius to whip around. The spines slowly retracted as they spoke, both equally suspicious of each other. Mark made a mental note of how, according to Jäger, Harry already knew about what was going with him. He’d have to bring it up with the man, and soon. Closing the computer, he stepped away for a moment to freshen up before he tucked it under his arm and stepped out into the hall.

Mark knocked his knuckles against the door loudly, stepping in the instant Harry opened the door.

“Ah, Mute, what do I owe the-”

“Marius is infected,” Mute cut him off. Harry blinked. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Mark set the computer down on his desk. “I have a workshop camera that catches any moment of movement. I was recently alerted that it had been destroyed. Apparently, Vigil and Marius decided this morning they wanted to blow it up. I have files automatically backed up to this computer, so I immediately reviewed it. Marius stated that you already know about what’s going on with him. Or was this just to prevent Vigil from shooting him?”

Harry folded his hands together for a moment, staring at Mute. “Yes, Jäger told me about what was going on. I turned off my recording, so it couldn’t be heard when someone reviewed our session. I had become suspicious after the training incident.” 

“Is that what we’re calling it? ‘The Training Incident’? The man bled from his eyes, Harry. He could be a danger.”

“He’s scared, Mark. But he can control it. Haven’t you noticed that his eyes don’t have the same, glassy sheen as the Roaches?”

Mark tapped his fingers against the desk. “I’ve known Marius for years now. He can’t keep a secret very well unless under pressure. It’s how he works.  You see his nerves act up, yet the moment you acknowledge it, he becomes an iron wall. It's an obvious tell when he's hiding something. And what if the others find out? Or Six?”

“We’ll deal with it when we get there, Mark. When it gets to that point, I’ll handle it, and if it turns for the worse, I’ll get him out. Trust him, there will be good results from this.”

Mute shut the computer tiredly, exhaling slowly. “Very well then.”

“Did anyone know of the camera other than you?”

Mute paused for a minute, before quickly setting down the computer. “Shit, M-”

The door opened rather suddenly as Echo stepped in. “I assume you’re talking about Marius and Chul Kyung, no?” At Harry’s nod, he stepped in, shutting the door behind him, and dragged a chair up and over, sitting down. Echo brought his leg up onto the chair, resting his chin on his chin. “So, what do you all think of it?”

“Marius already told Harry during a talk about his time in Truth and Consequences,” Mute leaned back in his chair, folding his hands. 

“I figure it’s best we don’t talk to Six about this,” Harry continued, resting his elbows on the desk.

“And why’s that?” Echo yawned, tilting his head.

“I’ve known Marius for years. You’ve known him for at least a year. We both know he’s not a threat, and that he’s a good guy. But, letting Six know will be signing his death warrant.”

Echo gave a low hum, dropping his leg. “Alrighty. Just wanted to bring it up to you two before I did anything. You trust him, I trust him. Besides, he’s saved my life plenty, now I can help him.”

Mute nodded. “All in favour of not speaking of this until the time arises?”

Three instant ‘I’s rang in the office.

 

“Those on this operation are the following. Lion,” the Frenchman stood, sporting a black eye from where Doc ‘accidentally’ decked him during training, “Bandit,” Dominic stood, arms crossed, “Echo,” Masaru looked up from his phone and stood, pocketing it, “Twitch,” Emanuelle rocked back and forth on her heels, “and Jäger.”

I pulled my mouth into a thin grimace, standing up, shoving my hands into my pockets.

“You’ll be heading out at 1500 exact,” Six folded her hands. “If possible, take prisoners. Lion will be in charge of the operation.”

I sent a helpless look toward Vigil, who shook his head in response. Nothing he could do to change Six’s mind. Now that I was approved for combat, no doubt I’d be thrown back into the swing of things.

I checked my phone, about forty minutes to get ready. I walked out, heading toward the fenced cubicles that contained the gear each operator owned. As I walked, Bandit slowly fell into stride beside me. A couple of minutes of silence passed.

“Dom-”

“Save it,” Bandit kept his stare forward. I exhaled slowly because god could he hold a grudge for the dumbest shit. I glanced over when he started talking again. “I don’t know why, but I know you’re hiding something, Marius.”

Panic seeped in slowly. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Faster than I could react, Bandit grabbed the front of my armour, yanking me closer. In an irrational thought process, I grabbed his throat. I hissed out, “let me go,”

We held eye contact for a couple of moments before simultaneously letting each other go. I dusted myself off, turned on a dime, and stalked off toward the locker room. Bandit followed silently. The second I entered and opened my mouth to greet Lion, a hand grabbed me by the shoulder, spun me around. I had a second to process before Bandit decked me across the face. Lion let out a startled shout as I slammed back-first against the locker beside him.

“What the fuck-”

I didn’t get a chance to finish before he charged forward, grabbing the front of my armour with both hands, slamming me against the lockers hard.

“What’s going on!?” I glimpsed Sledge stepped around the corner before kicking Bandit off, lunging at him. I scored a punch on his nose and had the other dodged, gaining a new bruise on my side as Bandit’s sneaker connected with it, hard. I kept my balance as best as possible, planting my feet and sending a punch at his throat. 

All I saw was red.

Dominic seemed to stop, slowly lifted a hand, pressing against his neck and drawing it back, coated in red. My whole body froze up, my gaze settled on my blood-covered hand, fingers slowly changing from black to tan. Had… had I- I couldn’t have, right? Right!?

Voices blurred together as operators gathered around Dominic, each trying to stop him from bleeding out. From dying. From what I did to him. Someone started shaking his shoulders, shouting unintelligible words that passed over my head. I shoved them away, taking off my armour, followed quickly by my shirt. I forced my way through, ignoring the way some tried to keep me back. I crouched down, panic alighting in my chest as sound slowly made its way back to me.

“You’ll be okay- you’ll be fine-” I pressed the shirt against the three-clawed wound, tears burning something fierce behind my eyes. Dominic’s hand gripped my wrist weakly, too weakly- and his head turned to face me.

“T...told you there w-..a...s somt...hing going o...on with y..ou,” he croaked softly.

I responded with a wet, sobbing laugh, pressing a bit harder, ignoring how much blood soaked my shirt-turned-temporary-rag. “Is now really the time for ‘told you so’s’?”

“Al...way..s time fff..or th...em,” Dominic’s gaze unfocused for a couple of seconds. I whipped my head toward the gathered group of operators.

“Why are you still here?! Someone get Doc!”



Lion skidded around the corner, nearly slamming smackdab into the man he was tracking down. Doc narrowed his eyes at the taller man, crossing his arms. “Watch where you’re going, Flament.”

Lion drew himself up to retort, yet forced himself about the fact that there was a more important task at hand. “Shut up and listen- Bandit’s hurt, badly.”

Doc lifted a brow. “And why should I believe you? Could be one of Bandit’s pranks.”

Lion swelled up in anger. “Of all the damn times you decide to be petty- Fuck this.” Olivier grabbed the front of Doc’s shirt and hurriedly dragged him back to the locker room, the other Frenchman swearing a storm at him. Lion ignored it as best as possible. His teammate’s life was more important than whatever shit him and Doc had between each other.

Lion nearly kicked the door down, shoving Doc inside. Sledge and Jäger were both crouched by Bandit, Jäger rambling panicked words to keep the other German awake. Bandit didn’t look good, looking around with an unfocused stare and seeming extremely pale. 

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?!” Doc snapped at Lion, dashing over to them. Lion exhaled slowly, balling his fists. Of course, he’d be like that. Finally, after some coaxing from Doc, Jäger pulled the blood-soaked shirt away. Lion stared at the wound. At first, he thought Jäger had accidentally hit him with something in his hand… but this? Three long wounds stretched over his throat, not horribly deep but painful altogether. They looked like…

Jäger’s fingers had been coated in blood before he even tried stopping the blood.

Lion’s eyes narrowed.

 

I felt horrible.

Soft, consistent beeping echoed through the whitewashed room, my foot tapping along with it. Beside me sat Dominic, unmoving, multiple IV tubes stuck into him. Bandages wrapped his neck, the outline of stitches barely visible. The doctors couldn’t stitch the entire thing, on the chance of making the injury worse, but had to stitch the corners where the wounds stretched closest to blood veins and arteries. 

They said he lost a lot of blood. That he’d been on death’s door, ready to knock.

Dominic almost died.

I stared at my hand, shifting it back and forth between the claws.

The door opened and Harry slipped in, followed by Echo. I looked up expectantly.

“The doctors said he’ll be out of commission for some time. He’ll need to stay at the hospital for two weeks at tops. Six has cleared you from duty for a week to get your bearings. Now, what happened?”

I glanced at Echo apprehensively, who seemed more tired than usual. His gaze was settled on Dominic. I exhaled, deciding to ignore him.

“Dom and I got into a fight. He was calling me out for hiding something. When we got into the locker room, the argument turned into a fight. I… didn’t mean to- I was just going to punch him and-”

I let my fingers turn black and sharpen once more. Masaru glanced over, lifting a brow, but didn’t say anything. I curled them, letting them bite into my palms for a second before reverting them back. 

“Before I knew it, he was bleeding out on the floor…”

“It’s not your fault, Marius. You’ve only had the virus for a week at most, you had no idea it would respond to your current emotions.”

“But it is my fault, Harry. I should’ve told Doc, or even Six, maybe then I could get this fucking thing out of me!”

I turned away, placing my hand on Dominic's arm, falling silent for some time. 

“Maybe I could’ve prevented…” I trailed off for a moment, my gaze searching Dominic’s pale, blank face.

 

“Maybe I could have prevented killing him.”

Chapter Text

I don’t know what I was thinking when I stood, the words coming out before I could stop them. “I’ll go.”

Many operators exchanged glances and murmurs, some concerned and some surprised. Six looked down at me from behind the podium.

“Are you sure?”

I nodded sharply, shoving my hands into my pockets. “I am.”

Movement sounded to my left and I glanced over, seeing Bandit get to his feet, posture slouched and casual, though his expression showed mild worry. “I’ll go too.”

Next to me, Echo rubbed his eyes with a sigh, standing as well. Vigil followed his lead. A loud, probably annoyed sigh came from the back, and I glanced over my shoulder to see Mute getting up as well.

Six looked us over, frowning slightly. “You all wish to go?” she questioned. She immediately received multiple nods. “Very well. You leave in 45 minutes, starting now. Good luck.”

I gave a shaky nod and turned, leaving the mess hall immediately after. I made my way into the little, fenced area I had, similar to the ones that every other operator had, filled to the brim with my own gadgets and items.

The fence shook slightly, forcing me to look over at the cause. There stood Bandit, leaning in the doorway, a concerned expression on his face, looking out of place.

“You don’t have to go.”

I turned away from Dominic, shaking my head.

“I do,” I insisted, “this is my fault. I was in Oregon, Dom, I caused the outbreak.”

“You don’t know that,” Dominic responded sharply, pulling himself into a standing position, “you don’t know that!”

“And you don’t either!” I snapped, turning and throwing a wrench in his direction. It clanged against the fence harmlessly. “You weren’t there, Dominic. You don’t know what I did!”

“Then tell me, Marius!” Dominic snarled back, grabbing the back my vest and hauling me backwards, toward him.

I whirled around and decked him across the face, forcing him into the fence with a loud crash, drawing the attention of many operators.

“It’s my fault, Dom, and I’m going to fix it. No matter what you say.”

I grabbed my weapons and turned to storm out of the room, only to be tackled to the ground. Bandit perched on my stomach, knees digging into my ribs as his knuckles slammed against my nose. I yanked my arm up and wrapped my fingers around his throat, pressing down.

I felt the sudden sting and daze of a pistol handle being slammed against my forehead, knocking my head back against the concrete floor, my grip loosening but not falling away.

Suddenly, I was yanked away from Dominic, hands grasping my arms as they hauled me backwards. I dug my nails in and forced them to let me go with a yelp. My eyes focused on Bandit, lunging for the man again, arm pulled back in a fist, grabbing a hold of the front of his jacket. Someone reached forward quickly, wrapping their hand around my wrist.

I froze, subconsciously looking down at my hand, my eyes widening. Slowly, but surely, these little black spikes retracted into my hands from where they had punctured through his jacket, and yet all I could focus on was the small red drips sliding down my fingers.

Blood.

I looked back up at Bandit, eyes locked on his neck. Dark red splotches peeked out from beneath his hands. He was breathing heavily, eyes locked on my face. I let go of him, letting him fall, and stepped back, wrenching my hand out of Doc’s gripped and storming out of the room. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oregon City, Oregon, United States

Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center

Drop-Point Able

1800 hours

 

I killed the engine of the helicopter, hopping out and joining the others at the front of the hospital. Quarantine tents had been set up, many medical professionals working co-workers. Before me, Lion spoke with a couple of people ordering others around. The man had come in instead of Bandit, since the man was held back by Doc, much to Bandit’s chagrin. 

I stood by in silence, running my thumb over my bruised jaw. I looked over at Lion approaching, shifting into a proper standing position.

“Well, according to Dr Mansch, the outbreak is currently contained inside the morgue. There is a possible chance that Dr Falschett is alive, but don’t keep your hopes up. We go in there, we do it carefully and silently. Watch each others’ backs and for the love of God, don’t strike off on your own. Clear?”

“Crystal,” I muttered, rolling my eyes behind my visor. 

Lion, looking satisfied, began walking toward the building. I glanced over at Echo, who shrugged in response. I sighed and began following Lion.

The moment I stepped through, past the still fleeing employees and patients,  was when the tension settled on my shoulders. These people were fearing for their lives because of me. I shuddered, bringing my rifle closer to me, feeling jittery for the first time in months.

A loud, startled shriek echoed through the halls, a doctor tearing through the halls at full speed. We watched as the man tripped over a tray, sprawling across the floor. A thing slid around the corner, wearing the remnants of a White Mask uniform, sharp, orange-black spines piercing through it. The doctor scrambled back to his feet, shooting past us. I walked forward, tuning out Lion’s protests. The Chimera let out a horrible screech, turning to face us, only to freeze in its tracks, angry red eyes settled on me.

In the corner of my eye, Lion lifted his gun to aim and shoot it down. The thing let out an irritated growl, looking torn . I lifted my hand in the universal sign of ‘wait’ . He let out an annoyed huff, but lowered the gun, his finger still resting on the trigger.

It eyed me, shifting with an almost nervous manner. The same nervous feeling that was curling up tightly in my gut. I stepped forward a little more, only for the thing to shoot off, leaving me to give chase, Lion shouting angrily after me. I skidded around the corner, just in time to see it burst through the doors down the hall. I ran after it, my sneakers pounding against the tile floor, panting slightly, not glancing at the sign above the door before breaking through.

I halted, many more of the Chimeras turning to stare at me. They made no movement, all stock-still and tense, waiting.

“What the hell,” I muttered, glancing around the bloodied room. My eyes snapped onto the smallest bit of movement, my gaze meeting that of a terrified doctor.

Dr Falschett, my mind echoed from the corner. I stepped forward and the Chimeras slightly parted , like the Red Sea around Moses. I kept moving, the man’s trembling starting increase at a faster rate, reaching its peak as I crouched before him.

“You’re Falschett?”

The man responded with a weak nod. I leaned back slightly, motion for him to come out from beneath the table and stand.

Slowly but surely, the man stood, and all of a sudden, one of the Chimeras let out a terrifying shriek, charging at us. My reaction was quick, one of my own spines shooting forward and impaling the Chimera in nearly the same place as it had been before like a javelin, pinning it to the floor.

The other Chimeras gave low wails, backing away from their fallen comrade instantly. I pulled Falschett forward and toward the doors, pushing him through. I turned around lifting my gun and started shooting down the remaining Chimeras. And, just to make sure, I put a bullet in the head of the impaled Chimera. I turned back out of the room and just about slammed into Lion, managing to stop myself in time.

“What. The hell. Was THAT?!” the man shouted down at me, his expression flared red with anger.

“The mission is over,” I responded flatly, “Falschett has been recovered and the Chimeras are dead.”

Lion looked to be about an inch from exploding until Vigil placed a hand on his shoulder. 

“Now isn’t the time. I’ve already informed Six of the mission’s success and expects us to return with Dr Falschett.”

Lion let out a heavy sigh, turning away and stalking down the hall to the entryway. I nodded gratefully to Vigil, who responded with a slight shrug. We began walking back out of the building, stepping out as Lion returned his talkie to his pockets, Falschett at his side, eyeing us for a moment before returning to the helicopter. I frowned slightly before shaking my head and making my way into the pilot’s seat, Mute joining me upfront to co-pilot.

It was silent for the entire ride, and I knew that something was very wrong.

 

It was dark by the time we reached base, the only lights lighting up the sky being the ones surrounding the building. Red lights caught my attention, looking out to see one of the staff waving the helicopter down. I hovered over the area for a moment before the lights turned green, giving me the signal to land. After a moment, I could shut the helicopter off and hop out, stretching for a moment and watching as Lion stalked off, Falschett in tow. I took off my helmet and tucked it under my arm, waiting patiently for the others to join me beside the helicopter.

“Something’s happening,” Echo voice the moment everyone was together. There was a moment of silence before Vigil responded with, “Lion was more jittery than normal, and that’s saying a lot.”

I frowned. “You all go on ahead, yeah? I’m just going to do the normal routine check on the heli.”

They exchanged a couple of glances before Mute stepped forward and patted my shoulder and walking away. I turned away, focusing on the machine before me and putting my hands on my hips for a moment, examining it. There seemed to be nothing wrong with it, so what was with the bad feeling I had during the entire ride?

I shook my head, straightening before turning around and making my way out toward base. All of a sudden, white light filled my vision, blinding me as the telltale sound of the main lights being turned on reached my ears. I lifted a hand up to block the light, squinting.

“The hell?”

Multiple shapes stood before me, some pointing something at me while some didn’t. 

My eyesight adjusted and I realised what was in front of me fairly quick.

Every single operator, save for a few as they were possibly on a mission of sorts, stood there, each one in different sorts of positions, from defensive, angry, and nervous. Guns pointed at me from separate operators.

Lion stood at the front, looking scarily calm, yet the way he pointed his gun at me told otherwise.

My teammates had been pulled off to the side by Vigil, who was muttering to the furiously while Echo held back Bandit, who look to be two seconds from knocking Lion’s skull in.

“Marius Streicher,” Ash stepped forward, seemingly professional as usual, “it’s come to our attention that you are indeed infected with the Chimera virus. According to Doc, it’s apparent that it’s come too far to be cured through… medicinal ways.”

I stepped back, my helmet falling to the ground with a soft thud. “No, no-”

Ash’s expression now seemed pained and remorseful.

“By orders of our superior, you will be dishonourably discharged and…” Ash’s words fell away, yet I knew what she meant, and I wasn’t the only one.

Echo was knocked to the ground as Bandit shot over, skidding to a halt at my side, his gun pointing right at Ash, yelling, “You do it, Ash, and I’ll put a bullet in your head!”

Ash’s eyes widened, opening her mouth to say something, only to stop as Vigil silently walked past, stopping at my side. He nodded to me before turning to face everyone, lifting his shotgun to point it at the crowd. Echo was yanked up from the floor by Mute and dragged over to us. They, too, pointed their guns at the others.

Suddenly, I found Blitz at my side as well, shield at the ready, Buck and Jackal standing stock still beside him, Glaz, Smoke, and Castle stood off to the left of me, Castle shifting from foot to foot.

“Miles?!”

Castle sighed softly, looking to Ash. “This ain’t right, Ash.”

Surprisingly enough, Doc stepped out of the crowd and joined us, casting a hateful stare at Lion for a moment.

Lion let out an angry sound, lifting his gun to us.

“NO!”

Black-and-red spikes erupted from the ground, shooting across the field and cutting each group off from each other, causing Lion’s bullets to ping off the side harmlessly. Red outlines appeared in my line of sight.

“They’re going around!” I turned to face the others. “Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen but I don’t think everyone can fit in one helicopter.”

Doc lifted his hand to catch my attention. “There’s a Chinook hiding out in one of the far hangars.”

My expression lifted into happiness, clapping my hands together. “Alright, everyone follows Doc to the hangar. Mute, can you get it started up?”

Mute nodded. “What’re you going to do then?”

“I’m making sure this wall stays up before it drops.”

I waited for a moment, letting the others move off before letting more spikes erupt from the ground, reinforcing the wall. Once done, I doubled over, putting my hands on my knees for support, heaving for breath. I pulled myself up, staggering to where the hangar was. The double rotors had just begun to spin, whipping through the air loudly. I hauled myself up into the piolet’s seat, nodding to Mute. I adjusted slightly as Mute started calling to the others to buckle in and shut the doors. I leaned forward on the controls, pulling the Chinook off the ground and out of the doors as carefully as possible.

Once in the open air, I yanked up on the controls, forcefully bringing the carrier up quickly. The helicopter gave a small groan of protest for a moment before levelling out. I reached out a hand, curling my hand into a fist, and the spikes burst into ash, disintegrating.

“Pull back, pull back!”

Attention drew back to Mute shouting, finally registering the loud beeping, the red light bathing us. Missile lock.

“SHIT!”

I yanked back on the control, the Chinook jerking back violently. The vapour trail of the missile passed right in front of the nose, exploding off to the left.

“ARE THEY FUCKING INSANE?!” Bandit shrieked from the back.

I spun the helicopter around, deploying flares in the process, sending the second missile off target, and pressed forward.

After a minute or so, I let out a relieved sigh, knowing that we had made it to the point where the targeting system Hereford had was out of reach. I brought a hand up to rub at my neck nervously, glancing back at the group of operators that had taken my side.

I sighed, turning back around and pulling the speaker down to my mouth, “alright, everyone buckle in and rest. I don’t have a single clue on where we’re going to go, but it’s going to be a long ride nevertheless.”

Bandit appeared in the entryway. “I think I have a place.”

“Where?”

“Just set course for Berlin.”

Chapter Text

“... and here’s the kitchen. Please don’t make me run out of food in a day.”

Cedrick leaned back, crossing his arms and inspecting us. “So what the fuck did you do?”

It was eerie how similar Dom and Cedrick were in looks, but so different in personality. Where Dominic was hot-headed and impulsive, Cedrick was calm and collected. They were identical and polar-opposites in every way. Among the biggest difference were their tattoos. Dominic with his biker-like tattoos, from which I had assumed come from bad decisions while undercover, to Cedrick’s meaningful tattoos, including one on his arm that was similar to the scars that came from lightning. At least, I hoped that they were tattoos.

Along with the fact that it was so not fair that they’re both hot as hell.

I cast a nervous glance to Vigil, who was sitting at the dining room table, deftly, and nervously, unassembling and reassembling his shotgun over and over. He opened his mouth to respond, only to shut it once more and gave me a helpless shrug.

“I have this… quirk,” I started nervously, shuffling slightly. Somehow, this man before me, sitting in a wheelchair, made me more nervous than Six. “One of our other operators, Lion, informed Six of this, and set the team against me, other than a couple of people defending me.”

Cedrick gave a derisive snort. “Lion, eh? I’ve heard some colourful things about him in Dominic’s letters. But what kind of quirk would cause a, basically, civil war?”

“Ehm…” I paused momentarily before sighing, rolling my shoulders and focusing, the spindles regrowing from my back, forming back into the spider-like legs. Cedrick’s eyes widened, looking thoroughly startled.

“That’s… uh, that’s new.”

An awkward silence ensued, Cedrick leaning back in his chair for a moment, locking his fingers together.

The silence was broken utterly the moment the door slammed in, Bandit walking in with a box of bags in his arms. “We’re baaaack!”

I rolled my eyes, turning to face Bandit, leaning against the counter and crossing my arms. From the table, an audible thud could be heard as Chul Kyung hit his head against it. Glaz shook his head as he walked past Dom, though the amused smile showed through the sniper’s annoyance.

“What’d you get?” I leaned forward as he set the box down onto the table.

“Just the things needed, you know, food, civvies, wiring, the usual.”

“Wiring?” Buck looked up from where he was sitting across from Jackal, the latter of whom passed out.

Bandit nodded in confirmation. “Along with that, got some car batteries, some forged ID cards and passports, all the things to keep us off the radar.”

“How in the hell?”

“I was undercover for a while, Mar, I’ve got a list of people who owe me favours.” Bandit began to sort through the piles, placing them in different spots. “Can someone get me Mute and Echo? I dunno how to actually put this together.”

“Yeah, mate, give me a moment,” Smoke got up from where he was sitting in silence, walking off. A moment passed before Smoke walked back out, Mute on his tail. Dominic lifted an eyebrow at the lack of Echo. “Where’s-”

“Looking for an acquaintance. Echo last heard he was in Berlin, so he went to go find the guy.”

“And we’re sure this guy is… good?” Chul Kyung looked up from his already disassembled gun, narrowing his eyes. Mark shrugged.

“This is Masaru we’re talking about, I’ve got no fuckin’ clue.”

I let out a sigh, bring two fingers up to the bridge of my nose and rubbing at it for a moment. “Well, what can you do with all of that, Mark?”

Mute lifted an eyebrow before turning around to the mess of electronics. “Well, I can definitely rig up some sort of… jammer I suppose? To mess with facial recognition and cameras, take us out of the picture. Like Vigil’s thing, but smaller.”

Chul Kyung leaned forward a little, eyeing the mess as well. “Ah, I see now, if you connect that with…”

I tuned them out, letting the two work, simply staring out the window as I wondered who Echo, of all people, was looking for.

“Hey, you alright?”

I looked up to see Bandit leaned against the counter beside me. In front of me, the awake operators, and Cedrick, were all engrossed with what Mute and Vigil were creating, while Buck and Jackal were both passed out in the living room, and Smoke had his head on the dining room table, snoring.

I turned back to Bandit to see him looking at me expectantly. “Well?”

“I’m fine, just… worried about who Echo went to find.”

“It’s going to be fine, Jäger, just trust-“

“I’m back.”

Echo stepped through the door, a man right behind him with a grin on his face and a toothpick between his teeth. “Hello, people I’ve never met!” 

He stuck his hand out for Bandit to shake. Dominic regarded it for a moment before lifting his arm and shook the man’s hand. “A pleasure.”

“Everyone this is Liu Tze Long-”

“Just call me Lesion, it’s easier,” Liu interrupted, causing Echo to glare at him for a moment before continuing.

“He’s here to help.”

Lesion nodded slightly before speaking once more. “Heard you all were in a bit of trouble since it was all over the news and whatnot.”

I blinked. The news had gotten to it already? I had to give it to them, that is pretty impressive.

“So, apparently, there’s an entire man-hunt, all for you guys, minus you,” he directed at Cedrick, “because special ops gone AWOL is pretty terrifying, so they’ve been searching all related homes.”

Dominic jerked up sharply. “RELATIVE?!”

“Shit- we need to go, then, they’ll check here for sure-” I stood up, grabbing ahold of the civvies beside me.

Vigil was off shaking the sleepers awake, threatening them when they didn’t get up. I quickly tossed the designated civvies at each operator, a little violently when it came to Smoke, which effectively woke him up. 

“Mute you almost done with those jammers?”

“Couple more… done!”

Mute pressed one to me before distributing them around. “Vigil, you already have your own gadget, right?”

Vigil nodded sharply. Cedrick rolled back a little, rubbing at his temples.

“Ced, you’ll be able to handle anyone that comes by, right?” Dominic looked to his twin, an eyebrow arched. 

Cedrick grinned. “I handled you my entire life. What’s a little interrogation compared to that?”

“Good, good, then we best be off. Any places to go?”

Lesion lifted a hand. “I’ve got my place. Though it’s out in Hong Kong.”

“That’s fine, that’s fine-”

“Uh, guys?” Buck was standing near the window, peering through the curtains. “We’ve got company!”

“Out the back doors, now!” Cedrick ordered. I cast a thankful glance to the wheelchair-restricted Brunsmeier before rushing out, the others following. 

“Where we headin’?” Lesion called up from where he followed beside Echo, keeping at a casual jog.

“Berlin Marriott Hotel, it’s where the helicopter is!” Bandit called back, running backwards for a moment before turning back around.

 

We stopped outside the hotel, panting. Jackal sat up, peering down the road. “Think they saw us?”

“It’s possible, best not to waste time,” I walked into the hotel, trying to get my heavy breathing under control. The lady at the desk looked up and smiled. 

“Willkommen!”

I thanked them before requesting to be allowed up to the helipad. She blinked before nodding.

“Name?”

“Roderich Schmidt.”

She smiled and handed me a keycard. “Just leave that on the keychain once you leave!”

“Danke!” I smiled and walked back to the others. “Let’s go.”

 

“I think it’ll be fine to just land by the house, no one will pay much mind,” Lesion was standing in the doorway (I don’t know how cargobobs or Junk Bay work, sue me) to the cockpit. I frowned, but did as told, setting the helicopter down and turning off the engine, the spinning blades slowing to a stop.

“Alright, we’re here!” I called to the back. “Grab your shit and hop on out!”

I opened the side door, grabbing my bag and hopping out. Bandit was looking the helicopter up and down. “Are you sure this thing isn’t going to get us caught?”

“Oh no, we’ve actually got to ditch it,” Lesion spoke up, leaning against the gate.

“Excuse me, what?” Doc’s head snapped up from where he was checking over the scrape Smoke had managed to get. Lesion simply shrugged.

“They know what they’re looking for. Along with the fact that we’re flying around in an American Chinook in China, we’d be painting a rather large target on our backs. So, we’re better off walking.”

“He’s got a point,” Miles commented from where he sat in the doorway of the Chinook, “we’re sittin’ ducks if we don’t leave the thing they expect us to be in.”

Murmuring broke out among the group as I watched in silence, a frown settling on my lips. I looked to the sky, squinting my eyes for a moment against the glare of the sun. Was this a safe place? Would Rainbow find us here? I crossed my arms. Of course, they would. They’re the best of the best, of course. We won’t have much time to run. Yet, is it worth it? I cast a glance to those coming up with plans. Is it worth it, to run for so long, travel so far to escape, only to never reach freedom? Is this just all for nothing? Why’d they even come with me? Protect me for what, the cost and risk of their own lives?”

“That was one hell of a face journey,” my head was thrown from my thoughts as I looked to Bandit, blinking. “What?”

“You had a lot of expressions. Why?”

I sighed, waving my hand dismissively, “It’s not important.”

“Yes, it is. I need you to be in the best mind you can be, Marius.”

“Why?”

“Excuse me?” Bandit looked so offended that it pulled out a little chuckle from me.

“I mean,” I directed at everyone around me discreetly, “why are all of you here? You all gain nothing from what’s happening. If anything, you’re all risking your lives for me. For what? We just run and run and in the end, Rainbow catches up.”

Bandit pulled me over so I was face to face, both hands on my shoulders. “We’re doing this because we need to. Because I want to keep you fucking safe. Because you are a perfectly good human being that deserves to be defended just like every other human being on this fucking planet, maybe even more so. So don’t come to me with that bullshit and look me in the eye when I say this. We care. We are here because we’re meant to protect those we goddamn love. Protect those in our family. Am I clear, Marius?”

I blinked, gears whirling in my head as I processed his words. “Cr-Crystal.”

Dominic nodded, satisfied, knowing that was probably the best answer he’d get, and walked away. 

Protect those we goddamn love.

Those five words repeated in my mind over and over, trying to understand the meaning. Trying to understand the whole damn paragraph and why it meant so much to me.

Oh.

Oh. Holy shit I’m in love with Dominic. 

Chapter Text

“Shit! How did they find us so quickly?”

“Fuck!”

Dominic spun in a circle, his gaze searching through the hazy gas. Smoke sprinted by, wearing his gas mask, immune to the gritty air that made Dom’s throat and eyes ache like hell.

Where was Marius?

A body thudded to the floor in front of him, making the German trip over the oversized shield. He turned his gaze onto the blank stare Elias gave him, blood running down from where it punctured him below the eye. 

“Scheiße!” Dominic scrambled backwards, his hand slipping on the slick blood that had come from where Glaz had fallen, the sniper lacking any sort of movement.

What was happening?

“Marius!” Dominic shouted, low to the ground to avoid getting shot,

Suddenly, charging out of the smoke, Ying launched toward him. She crashed into Dominic, taking them both to the ground, straddling his chest and forcing the air out of his lungs.

“Where is he?!” She shouted, pointing her pistol at Dom’s forehead. He managed to chuckle despite the fear that racked his body.

“I wish I knew,” he breathed, “I really do.”

“No, you know where he is, Bandit.”

Dominic narrowed his eyes, noting the falter and immediately taking up the chance, grasping the gun’s barrel and shoving it to the side, the bullet fired hitting the ground beside his head. He turned the gun on Ying, hesitated, closed his eyes and fired.

He had to shove her body off her in order to get up, the smoke slowly clearing out, revealing the carnage. Bodies were strewn everywhere while some on Marius’s side-stepped around, nudging the bodies, crouching beside them to lay a hand on them, mourning for their long-time comrades and friends.

He could see Doc trying to resuscitate Rook, the young man clearly dead, yet the medic valiantly muttered, “clear,” to himself, Rook’s limp body jolting from the defibrillator. Smoke and Mute stood side by side, Smoke wrapping Sledge’s major injuries while Mute looked on in pain.

Kapkan stood stock-still by Glaz, his arms crossed, looking stoic as ever, yet just from where Bandit stood, he could see the older Russian trembling, his shoulders dipping every now and then.

Dominic could pick out every single operator, dead or alive, except two. Where were Lion and Jäger?

An enraged scream tore through the thick silence, catching the attention of the living. Lion flew through the smoke, his back slamming onto the ground with a harsh thud. Jäger stalked out of the smog, his eyes burning red and more spindles than Dominic could count sticking out of his back and arms. The man’s hands were morphed to black claws with angry red veins decorating a strange pattern into it. He looked like he had just stepped out of a horror movie.

Lion struggled to his feet, looking around for any sort of leverage against Marius. Dominic stood completely still, unable to process what was happening before his very eyes.

The hazmat-wearing man fell to the ground, reaching for Twitch’s fallen form, grasping her revolver. Before Dominic could say anything, Lion turned and fired at the same time a loud shotgun blast sounded and Lion jerked and fell, the revolver slipping from his grasp, Dominic finding Vigil at his side, bloody and bruised. Time fell still as Jäger’s head jerked back, blood spraying from the new hole in his forehead. 

“NO!”

Dominic sat up on the couch in a cold sweat, trembling violently. The only sound was his heavy breathing and the quick footsteps that echoed down the hall. 

Footsteps?

Dominic fumbled with his balance, getting into a hasty fighting stance, only to drop it when Marius shot around the corner, the usual four spikes out and ready to fight whoever was there.

They stared at each other, Dominic’s thoughts racing, before he shakily sat down, burying his face into his knees. He was too tired to deal with his own fucking pride. Marius nervously stepped over, the spines retracting fairly quickly. He’s getting better at it.

“Dom?” the bed dipped beside him, Marius’s hand finding its place on Dom’s shoulder. “What happened?”

Marius is right here, Dominic, calm the fuck down. You’re fine, stop panicking, please stop panicking-

“Dominic.”

He lifted his head from his hands to see Marius staring at him with warm brown eyes. Not red eyes, not looking ready to kill everything that moved.

“You’re okay,” he said firmly, grasping Dom’s hand, his gaze set on Dominic, “look at me, you’re fine, you’re here.”

“I saw you die,” Dominic rasped, staring at the hand that held his, “I saw… everyone die, Marius. I… I’m scared. For once in my shitty life, I’m going to admit that I’m fucking terrified.”

“Dominic, I promise you, no one is going to die,” Marius responded sharply, “not on this side and not on the other.”

“How are you so sure?” Dominic’s voice cracked, and as much as he loathed it, it helped Marius realise how much Dominic actually cared for this.

“I’m not,” Marius whispered, “I’m not and it scares me too, but we have to try. We can’t give up just yet. It’s like you said, Dom. ‘We are here because we’re meant to protect those we goddamn love,’ right?”

Dominic managed a weak smile. “Right.”

The door slammed open, revealing both Glaz and Castle. “We’ve got someone who wants to talk to you,” they said simultaneously.

Jäger and Bandit exchanged tired looks before getting up and walking out to the living room. There, with Buck and Jackal both aiming their guns at them, were Fuze, Rook, and Montange.

In an instant, Jäger was gone from his sight, backing into the hall once more. Bandit narrowed his eyes, crossing his arms and walking over, standing between the two operators and leaning forward.

Rook was fidgeting a lot, twiddling his thumbs and shifting from foot to foot, the young operator clearly nervous. Fuze, as usual, was a blank slate, his LMG and AK both precariously slung over his back while he leaned on his shield, while Monty stood stock still, the only one with his arms raised, pistol pointing at the roof and shield hooked on his back.

There was a tense moment until Lesion walked out of the kitchen. He looked from side to side, gauging the situation, before speaking, “alright, first off, please don’t shoot up my house, I actually like my furniture, and second off, dinner is ready.”

He then turned around and walked back into the kitchen where Glaz milled around. Bandit jerked his head to Jackal and Buck, giving them the wordless order to head into the kitchen.

“Why are you here?”

Montange dropped his pistol, holstering it. Bandit’s shoulders dropped slightly from their tense position, though his sharp gaze never relented. 

“Lion’s wrong,” Rook spoke up, a little timid.

“Wrong?”

Julian nodded.

“Why?”

“Christ, Brunsmeier, what the fuck is this, Twenty Questions?” Fuze snapped. “We’re here because Jäger is our friend, our comrade. Why the hell would we give that up just because some arrogant prick said so?”

Dominic uncrossed his arms, lifting an eyebrow at the brash Uzbeki. “So, you all know what you’re signing up for then? On the run, all the time, looking over your shoulder, constant vigilance, all that?”

“Well, not much will change.” Monty shrugged slightly. “With the White Masks, we’ve always had to look over our shoulders. What’s a few more?”

“Oh, I don’t know, just that the few more are highly trained individuals?”

“And so are we,” Gilles responded shortly, removing his helmet, “except we have a capable leader.”

Bandit lifted the other eyebrow at this, his lips pressed in a thin line. He turned to the hall, giving Jäger a questioning look. With that, Marius stepped around the corner, albeit nervously, and halted beside Dominic, hands behind his back.

Rook’s lips turned up slightly, while Fuze’s covered head tilted and Monty shifted. Marius looked to Dom, uncertainty crossing his expression. Before Marius spoke, Glaz shouted from inside the kitchen. “Hurry the fuck up and make a decision, the food is getting cold!”

Marius flinched slightly before making his shaky choice. 

“Very well.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dinner that night was extremely quiet, everyone dwelling on their own thoughts of the newest additions. Fuze had only his helmet off, chatting quietly with Glaz.

“Is it just you?” I barely heard my own voice, unable to bring myself to actually look up from my plate.

“No,” Montagne spoke, somewhere off to my right, “there were others that wished to come.”

I looked up at the older operator, hopeful. “Who?”

Fuze spoke now, “There’s Kapkan for sure, IQ, as expected, Maestro, which is kind of surprising, Thermite and I believe Sledge.”

“What of Alexandr?” Glaz questioned.

“Alexandr, Mike, and Vicente refuse to be involved, much to Lion’s annoyance.”

Mark let out a relieved chuckle, leaning against James, “Thank fuck, I really didn’t want to go against Seamus or Mike whatsoever. Or the quote-unquote ‘Lord’. That’d be terrifying.”

“Will they be coming any time soon, so we’re aware?” Castle lifted his head off his hand, blinking at the Uzbeki across from him.

“Kapkan will be staying behind as, as he said, recon. Updating us on movements and trying to keep them off our tails. Currently, they’re off to Canada from an anonymous ‘tip’ that had been created by Kapkan and IQ.”

“Interesting,” Vigil sat back in his chair from where he sat in complete silence. “Any news on the new operators?”

“Glad you asked,” Rook pulled a folder out from his back, lightly tossing the manilla folder onto the table. “Managed to snag this guy’s folder before leaving. Erik ‘Maverick’ Thorn. Guy went missing in Afghanistan only to reappear from thin air. Could be a good idea to get IQ to talk to him before he’s thrown to the dogs once more.”

“Looks professional,” Jackal leaned forward, grabbing the folder and carding through its contents.

“And familiar,” Castle hummed, frowning.

I closed my eyes, reopening them to look around the table with a frown. “Hey, has… has anyone seen Doc and Blitz?”

Buck lifted a hand, “Doc’s been looking fairly pissed off lately, so Blitz offered to set up some dummies for Doc to practise hand to hand combat. They should be in the back.”

“Do they know of our new additions?”

Buck shook his head, “No. They left before they arrived.”

I stood up. “I’ll tell them. Thank you, Castle, Glaz, Lesion, for dinner.”

Lesion nodded, Glaz smiled, and Castle leaned back in his seat, satisfied. I walked off, turning my head to the sound of footsteps. A weak smile appeared on my face as I spied Bandit following me. He nodded and I turned back, following the sound of angry swearing.

Chapter Text

One.

Doc knelt beside the bleeding man, gloved hands pressed against his wound, red spilling over his fingers. Lion tore him away, shouting that he shouldn’t be wasting his skills. The man had died before Doc could even turn back around to help him again, despite Lion’s words.

Two.

Screaming and explosions. The sounds rung in Doc’s ears as he hurried through the hospital, vaulting over obstacles and ducking under the barrages of bullets. 

Three. 

Walking into the emergency room, to find a mass of bodies, 13 exact, each and every one of them part of the hospital staff, their throats slit and bullet holes gouged into their bodies. He could remember the horror of falling to his knees at the side of his friend, his colleague, dead because of that bastard.

Four.

Anger, unadulterated anger toward that arrogant, selfish prick-

“Doc!”

Gustave stopped his assault on the dummy, his bloodied hands falling to the side. Marius and Dominic approached, both fairly concerned at the sight of the angered medic.

“What do you want?” he croaked, narrowing his eyes and catching the gauze and tape that Elias wordlessly tossed to him, wrapping his knuckles with practised ease. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“If by busy you mean punching a dummy until you break your hands,” Dominic responded flatly, crossing his arms as they stopped a few feet away. Elias got up, attempting to sneak off, only for Marius to hold up a hand. “This includes you too.”

Gustave leaned against the fence, waiting. “So, what’s so important?”

Marius exhaled softly before responding, “Fuze, Rook, and Montagne have decided to join our side. They’re in the house as we speak.”

Doc’s world flipped sideways, his eyes widening, while Elias straightened. “They’re on our side?” he breathed out, relieved. “A-And what of Emmanuelle?”

Marius shook his head. “No word.”

Elias frowned, “They aren’t the only ones, right?”

“No,” Dom waved his hand, “back in Hereford there’s Kapkan, IQ, Maestro, Sledge, and Thermite. Kapkan will be keeping us updated on what’s happening, and the other’s should be arriving soon. Along with that, we’ve received news on at least one of the new operators, Maverick. It’s likely that he’ll ditch Rainbow fairly soon, knowing his record.”

Gustave lifted a hand, rubbing at his tired eyes, and let out a sigh. “So we have all of the GSG9, most of the GIGN, SAS, and Spetsnaz, along with parts of smaller units, yes?”

Marius nodded. “Technically, all of the SAS and Spetsnaz, and half of the unit from Brazil. Tachanka, Thatcher, and Capitão refuse to be involved.”

Gustave nodded silently. “Blitz, I appreciate that you came out with me, but I insist you head back in. Marius, could you send Julian and Gilles out to me? It’s… quiet out here.”

Marius and Dominic exchanged a glance before the engineer nodded. “Very well. Just don’t stay out too late, yeah? Lesion says it gets fairly cold out.”

Doc nodded, slowly unravelling the gauze from his knuckles. Once the footsteps vanished, he began slamming his fists into the dummy again.

 

A couple of days had passed, each equally quiet and tense. No word was heard from the others. Nothing in the newspapers that Lesion consistently came back with. Nothing.

And it was unnerving.

I stood at the window, flitting through the newspaper for what seemed the ninth or tenth time. Sighing, I set it down after reading the same paragraph four times, crossing my arms and looking out, my foot tapping nervously. So many operators in one place without having to move seemed suspicious, and I knew that they were up to something. But what?

“Marius.”

I look over my shoulder to see Monty walking over, wearing his own pair of civvies. I lifted an eyebrow in a questioning manner.

“You’ve been standing there for about,” he checked his watch, “three hours now. Is there something wrong?”

“Just nervous,” I responded, trying to be dismissive about it; as if it was nothing. “It’s been… quiet.”

Montagne lifted an eyebrow. “Too quiet?”

The corners of my mouth lifted slightly. “Yeah.” the small smile fell. “It’s just- no one’s heard from Kapkan, IQ, or even Maestro. Nothing on the news except for the false sightings of me and even those have slowed down. I’m nervous.”

“You think they’re planning something?”

I nodded, keeping silent for a minute. 

“Yeah, I do.”

 

Hell had broken loose.

Kapkan wasn’t exactly sure how or when it happened, yet here he was, trying to keep Tachanka from strangling a very specific Frenchman.

He struggled to hold the man back as he shouted Russian obscenities at Lion, who stood a few steps away, arms crossed. Kapkan shot an angry glare at Lion for a moment as Maestro came over to help him drag the angry bear of a Russian out of the room.

“Tachanka, calm down, for fuck’s sake!” Kapkan growled, shoving the man back.

“I will not stand by as this bitch insults our teammates!” Tachanka snapped in their mother tongue, a snarl on his face.

“You cannot blow our cover over some fucking dispute!” Kapkan shouted back, glaring at the bigger Russian.

“If I may,” Maestro interjected, “your shouting match has caught some attention. Just so you’re aware.” 

Kapkan paused, glancing at the Italian before looking around. Maestro was correct, some operators like Pulse, Caveira, and Ash were staring at them. Kapkan turned to Tachanka. “Look. Just try to be careful. Though of course, you can always head out to Marius.”

“You know how I wish to be neutral.”

“Oh yes, that shouting match with Lion was very neutral. Just make sure nothing of your knowledge gets out. We still have those two new operators to worry about.”

Kapkan glanced around. The two operators themselves were sitting off alone, Clash in a heated debate with Mira while Maverick stared at them intently. He looked more curious than anything, his head tilted at a slight angle, his blow torch sitting on the table as Mira looked over it, double tasking. Kapkan turned his head back to Tachanka.

“Alright, fine, I’ll keep it on the down-low,” Tachanka grunted, crossing his arms. “But if you’re urging me to go to Marius, then why don’t you?”

Kapkan sent another glance around the rather empty canteen. He turned to the two, noting that Maestro was partially listening.

“Recon,” he mused quietly, “I’m keeping them updated on where they’re looking for them while IQ sends them off on some wild goose chase. Though she has little effect, I’d assume, since the GSG9 are very loyal to each other, so they don’t trust her. Six is getting less and less happy about a literal walking weapon.”

“And what of Harry?”

“I’m not certain. I would have to guess that he’s a little nervous about the whole case since Jäger tried to attack him when he was first infected. But he’s a little more… logical than Six. He’s likely read Jäger’s files, he doubts that he’d try to do anything against us. Six, she sees Jäger as an enemy to us, he’s fallen to the ranks of the White Masks.”

Maestro spoke up. “I think he’s been trying to convince Six of putting a stop to this, not allow Lion to lead us all anymore.”

Tachanka nodded slightly. “We’d best return to our duties. Best not look suspicious.”

The three split away in different directions, Kapkan trekking to the range to work on his aim, despite it probably not needing any work.

He was there for a few minutes before footsteps notified him of someone approaching. Taking a glance over his shoulder, he saw Maverick. Strange. He looked back to where he was aiming and fired a round of bullets into the target. Maverick rarely ever came down to the range if someone was there, claiming that he didn’t like distractions, so he must have wanted something. But what?

Silently, Maverick loaded up his AR, checked its sights, and set the gun down, looking over at Kapkan. Here it comes.

“Who’s Marius?”

Kapkan froze, his knuckles whitening around the grip, turning to stare at the American. Maverick had a brow lifted as he leaned against the table, attentive. 

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Maverick let out a sort of snorting sound, shaking his head. “I lived in Afghanistan for quite a while. I picked up quite a bit of Russian, and you and Tachanka weren’t exactly quiet.”

Kapkan grimaced, setting down his rifle on the desk and looked Maverick in the eye, debating on whether he should tell him or not. IQ did say that Marius, more of Castle, wanted him on his team. 

“Alright, listen up, because I’m telling this once.”

Chapter Text

Dear god folks, I am so sorry for the major radio silence. But this is an important post for how this book is moving forward.

 

SO. I've decided to read back on my story and rewrite it. So far I have rewritten Chapter One and Chapter Two, completely rewritten and fixed up. This is because I tracked down a lot of plotholes, misinformation, and major errors. Like Marius not knowing who the CBRN operators are, or Lesion just- showing up out of the blue even though he's been in rainbow since, what, Season 2? Before Operation Outbreak by a solid four or so months? It was also fast-paced and each chapter was getting shorter and shorter. BUT, the thing I want to ask is, should I post the new, rewritten chapters separately, being a new book or new chapters added to this one, or shall I just simply replace the chapters? It can be at once, once I've rewritten Chapter Nine, or I can begin replacing with what I have at the moment. All of this is up to you. The at once will certainly take long but will provide more... context. The other book is always an option, along with just adding the new rewritten chapters onto this book.

It's confusing, probably, by how I worded it, but there are the options:

1) Create a new book

2) Add the new chapters after this Authors note

3) Replace Chapter One and Two immediately and replace each chapter as I go

4) Replace the chapters at once, once I have rewritten everything up to Chapter Nine.

That'll be all. Sorry for this not being a chapter, folks, but this is definitely a better outcome. <3

 

WE WILL BE GOING THROUGH WITH THE THIRD OPTION, GOODBYE TO THE OLD PLOT

CHAPTERS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, AND FIVE ARE OFFICIALLY UPDATED