It did not take long for you to become custom to your new lifestyle. With plenty of conditioning on or off duty, you were quickly able to keep a smooth flow of requests and demands shot at you. You even began to think this job was better for you physically. As you were getting older being on your toes and active may be a healthier alternative rather than just sitting at an office desk all day.
You also learned about all kinds of special missions the mercenaries had to take part in. Some of them did include capturing intelligence, but there are other kinds like capturing certain points of an area, fighting to defend one main point or even trying to stop the BLU team from delivering a "payload" to your side of the area. You have been to multiple parts of the Badlands. You even have been to some alpine areas just around it as well. Though, you have yet to travel the world as mentioned by Miss Pauling.
During this time you also got to know your team better as well. You quickly became the norm amongst the men, they weren't afraid to joke around with you as if you were one of the other mercs, but they (for the most part if they weren't drinking) kept it to a respectful manner. As you did have a higher role in the corporate chain to them, they also did their best to treat you like a manager of sorts as well. There were some members on the team that you certainly were closer to than others.
As speculated, for quite some time RED had a winning streak going. Each victory was praised every evening filled with food and drinks galore. This kept up for a solid two weeks or so... Until there was a sudden change.
What may be in part with a cocky attitude from the classes, or a nasty hangover from the victories of past battles finally came the day of your first loss with the team. It came as a slight surprise to the men, but there was no concern. Everyone loses once and a while. Then came another, and another, and another, ... and another.
At this point, the team who was once keeping a tally of wins was now marking each rotten loss. Day by day, defeat by defeat, each member of RED started to grow more irritable and frustrated to not only the other team but to each other as well including you. They all pointed the finger at those who couldn't keep up with the slack, which has pitted debates forming sides on who to defend between the men. On occasion, you were accused of 'You're not being quick enough', 'You're not watching the cameras closely', or 'You're not listening to when I say I need assistance'. You always tried to keep calm when you were accused. Though it did weigh your heart down to your stomach when you truly believed you weren't doing your part to help the team. Though most of the group came to your side to assure you that truly it wasn't your fault. Or after some time the teammate who accused you would confront you and apologize.
This marked the seventeenth day in a row of a loss. Everyone was on edge, especially today. The weather at Gorge that day was somewhat off, it was more humid and stuffy than normal. It made the day worth fighting perhaps feel sluggish and uncomfortable. You even felt the difference in your normal funk, you were a lot slower to attend everyone's needs. This lack of speed was evident based on some nasty or disapproving looks the men gave as you finally were able to reach them. After the defeat, you tried to avoid interacting with most of them until dinner.
The meal that night felt more tense than normal. You all sat around the table in silence, everyone barely touching their food. Everyone knew what the problem was, but nobody seemed to want to bring it up. Or in fact, anything up really. Some time passed before Engie cleared his throat to break the dreadful silence.
"Well, the best we can say is that we gave it our all out there." He stated simply to the group.
"Are you freaking kidding me?! We SUCKED out there!" Scout burst out. "We MIGHT have had a fighting chance if it weren't for Soldier shooting that stupid rocket in the way of the point!"
"Well! If it weren't for this maggot Pyro here picking up the pace, and scaring them off with that stupid fire gun we wouldn't have that problem, would we?" A muffled but shocked 'What?!' came from Pyro's mask. They began to speak frantically, the only thing was you could not pick up what they were saying. At some point in Pyro's argument, you heard 'Backer' mentioned. Soon after, all their heads turned towards you waiting for a response.
"Well, I..." You attempted to start but genuinely did not know where to go with the statement. You couldn't just blame someone else for your actions, especially if you do not know what you're being accused of.
"That's some shabby work there, sheila," Sniper commented quietly from where you trailed off.
"Aye, Lass you got to get yer sheit together! We lost time ter 'each the point because yerrr twig legs couldn' move fast enouf-" Demo was able to slur out, he had his scrumpy sliding around the table in one hand.
"Yeah, what the hell Backer?! Not cool!" Scout commented once more. You looked around the table helplessly at the others. All made no effort this time to come to your aid, you could tell that all of them may have been slightly bothered by your efficiency from the day. This look of helplessness turned into more frustration. It built up more and more as some around the table began to list off some examples from today and past battles when you weren't exactly on the ball. It came to the point where you were completely fed up.
"Look, I'm trying my best okay?! I cannot be at more than one place at a time. Do you ever think about that maybe JUST maybe I have to help more than one class at a time? There's one of me and nine of you. I'm tired of us losing, too. We have had this conversation a million times at this point, arguing with one another isn't going to make us win. So how about everyone gets off their god damn high horse and think about others for once!" You stood up from the table. Nobody responded, some just kept looking at you while others had their heads tipped slightly down at their plates. The silence was thick in the room again. You marched off towards where you stored the wheelbarrow, burlap sacks, hacksaws, and shovels to begin your post-battle-cleanup.
It was about an hour into the duty, once again the mercenaries had countless RED bodies sprawled all over their side of the map. A bloodier day than normal. It was pitch black outside, all you had was a small strap-on flashlight to guide you through the darkness. You were still pressed about what went down at dinner. The comments made by your team played back in your head, which built up your rage even more.
You mumbled tiny rants to yourself. About your team, about your losing streak, about your inefficient skills to make them happy, everything under the sun that could be linked with some sort of negativity. One of Scout's bats sat on the ground in a pool of blood. You picked it up to examine it. That was then you thought of the snide comment he made to you. Your eyebrows knit down and you dropped the shovel you held in the other hand. With both arms and with full force you chucked the bat itself as far as you could. With it, the rage that you contained.
What came next made your heart stop. From the direction you threw the bat a loud and painfully obvious crash could be heard. You remembered then about the ginormous water tanks in the area. The thunk carried in the air what felt like miles. You froze for a moment in the dark. Your anger turned to fear. With small steady breaths, you collected your items from cleaning up bodies and moved to a different area.
Twenty minutes or so later you picked up the final RED body that you could find and loaded it into the wheelbarrow. It should be the last of the load you had to take to the incinerator to dispose of. Though you took a minute to sit in the grass against the wheelbarrow, turning off your light, you look up at the night sky above you. The stars twinkled in the dark to form whimsical patterns and streaks of light from the galaxy to leave you in wonder.
You took this time to think to yourself, maybe you were a little too hard on the guys. They were being sore themselves, but it may as well of been rubbed off onto you. You exhaled deeply, but that's when something strange caught your ear.
It almost sounded like a gust of wind, but louder. There were some trees in the area, but there was no breeze that you felt the entire evening. The noise seemed much closer to you than it did in the trees in the outline of the area. You wanted to ignore it, and you did. What was the tipping point is when you heard a sudden crunch of leaves on the ground and what sounded like a stick breaking between one's footsteps.
Something didn't feel right.
You scanned around the area in the darkness. You did not dare to breathe, let alone speak. Getting up from where you sat, you grabbed one of the fallen butterfly knives from the wheelbarrow in one hand, turned on your light, and took out the pistol from the holster on your leg. You laid your hand that contained the pistol out and over the one that held the knife. It made a slight cross in front of your chest to provide a slight barrier.
Your footsteps were small, and your head moved slowly to scan whatever part of the area was lit up by the light. Your heart pounded at a million miles per hour. After a minute or so of scanning with the light, you built up the bravery to call out into the night.
"Hello? Is someone there...?" You asked hesitantly. You wanted to cover the fear in your voice, but it was no use. This horrified you, part of you prayed it was just an animal, or maybe your mind playing tricks on you. You focused on the direction in front of you shining your light in one direction, no noise hung in the air beside the sound of your pumping heart. It was then you heard the wind sound even closer now. Right behind you.
You swiftly did a 180 and your eyes widened and every muscle in your body went stiff. There stood only a few yards away was a man. He looked similar to your team's Spy, the only difference being his suit and balaclava was different shades of blue. He had a small look of surprise on his face as the light shined onto him.
Your mouth felt dry, and your hands began to shake. In an attempt to raise the pistol you had up for a better level of his chest, you ended up dropping it from the constant jittering of your hand. His eyes and yours darted down at the ground now where the pistol sat. Then they quickly came back to staring at one other.
A strange smile slowly grew on the Spy's face. You couldn't describe it, but how it was projected towards you was haunting. You just looked back in shock. Right before your eyes, he slowly began to deteriorate with the same wind sound and faded into the night. Even after he suddenly disappeared, you did not dare to move. It was what felt like a century before your blood finally ran cold and your senses came back.
In a shaky panicked state, you began to collect your things and tossed them into the wheelbarrow. Without trying to make it tip over you hightailed it out of the area and back to your base. A million thoughts flooded into your brain all of which caused more fear and confusion. All these assumptions were trumped by one major unavoidable fact:
You were finally discovered and caught red-handed by the enemy.
Sometime Earlier That Evening...
"I don't even think those RED boneheads saw what was comin' their way!" A Scout in blue commented while stretching back in a metal chair, it tipped back on two legs as he slammed his feet on top of the cheap wooden table in front of him. He had a self-satisfied grin and laughter came from his lips. Along with him in the coldly-lit room was an Engineer and Spy dressed in similar blue style.
The Engineer had some sort of gadget propped up on the table. Both he and the trinket jumped up in response to Scout's sudden action. "It's quite a pitiful sight, really. 'Does seem like RED has begun to accept the fact they ain't as good as us. ... Or they've hit the trough just as we had prior." He commented alongside what the blue Scout had said. Then a look of displeasure formed on his mouth observing the young man's posture. "And get yer nasty feet off the table, boy! This here is a new machine I've been working on. I don't want it ruined from the likes of you!"
The Scout and Engineer began to argue. Spy sat at the final side of the table reading a book and smoking a small cigar. He tried not to acknowledge the noise the two were making, but after a bit, it became too unbearable for him. He leaned his head back and rolled his eyes. Closing his book and placing it on the table he said, "While you two imbeciles continue to bicker, I'm stepping outside for some air." He got up from his seat and began to walk towards the exit of the facility.
Scout bounced out from the argument and shook his head facing Spy's back. "Wait- Spy! You know how the Administrator feels about us snoopin' around the grounds after fightin' hours." The man in the blue mask stopped in his tracks, without completely rotating his body, his neck turned in the direction towards the boy.
"I zhink you forget who you're talking to."
He left it at that and continued to walk leaving behind Scout and Engie in silence.
With only the small embers from the end of his cigar to give off light, the Spy walked around the open area full of admiration. It was a beautiful night for such a scorching day. He admired the stars above and how the light pollution from the buildings didn't seem to affect how they radiated from above.
He came to halt when he picked up a peculiar noise from a distance. It sounded like metal scratching across the concrete. Along with it were small mumbles that hung in the air. Spy activated his invis watch just as a safety measure, and quietly began to approach closer to where the sound came from. While standing next to one of the water tanks his face filled with surprise at the sight a short distance in front of him.
There stood a woman wearing a red pullover with a dinky little strap-on light around her head. She grumbled to herself as the shovel she held clinked against the concrete to scoop up remains to what looked like mercenaries from earlier that day. All of this interested Spy, he has never seen this person in his entire time here, or even in his life. He was only under the impression the nine mercenaries from RED and his team were in this area. ... Unless...
His thoughts were cut short by a loud slam of an object onto the water tank just inches away from his head. On instinct, he jumped back and held with all his might not trying to make a noise from the sudden action. He looked down at the object to make the sudden noise. A Scout's bat? He turned his attention back towards the girl, who at this point now has a horrified look on her face from the noise of the bat. After a brief moment of stiffness, she collected her things and began to move in a different direction. Spy let her get some distance before he pursued her path.
From there on Spy pondered in curiosity about the presence of the girl as he observed her clean up the corpses and their pieces. He concluded that she was more than likely working with the RED team based on her outfit. Though there was so much more he wanted to know.
She had finally finished her duty and rested on the side of the wheelbarrow when his watch buzzed. He looked to see the battery to his invis watch had drained. He let out a quiet groan as he decloaked somewhat loudly. He shifted towards another part in the area, but in the process crunched over some noisy leaves and stepped on a twig. That caught the girl's attention as she slowly began to scan the area he was near using the light. Luckily, he slipped away before it could be caught shining on him. It was then Spy got a mischievous idea.
As she moved forward in the direction she heard him, he disguised the noise of the little charge he got on the invis watch and formed a large loop to now end up behind her. He stood patiently a few yards behind her with his hands behind his back as she called out into the night.
He uncloaked himself still with his hands behind his back and held a blank expression as the girl thrust around and shined the dim light right onto him. He raised two brows noticing the gun she held in one hand and the knife in the other. He didn't even notice her carrying them at any point. What amused him the most was the frantic shaking of the girl from head to toe. She tried not to look frightened, but it was no use. She ended up dropping the gun from fear and looked back up at him helplessly.
Spy got the greatest idea of them all. To put a final impression on her, he gave her a smile and began to cloak right in front of her. He stood there for a moment, then began to slowly walk off back towards his base. Leaving her there in the dark.
He tried to conceal his laughter as he heard her frantically collecting her things and trying to book it from the scene. Now that his fun was over, it just left him with that curiosity again. In some way, he needed to get to know who this girl is. More importantly, why was she even here in the first place?