The Engineer was never very much a morning person, busy as he was with his tinkering that he often forsook sleep or even food, so when the Soldier burst into his room on Sunday morning—the one day of the week the team’s self-appointed drill sergeant didn’t kick everyone out of bed for another one of is inane exercises—acting like the world was coming to an end, the Engineer slugged the other man with his robot hand.
The Soldier, for his part, just looked irritated at getting his jaw broken. “Dammit, Engie,” he warbled through a mouthful of blood, holding his face together with one hand. “Now’s not the time to be throwing one of your hissy-fits, not when we’re getting invaded!”
“Now look here, Solly, I don’t care if it’s the Goddamn Second Coming of Jesus Christ Himself, I don’t want no-one wakin’ me on Sunday mornin’—”
“HOLY CRAP, SPY!” Scout’s high-decibel screeching could be heard even from the Engineer’s workshop, “WHAT THE FUCKING HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, MAN?”
That got the Engineer moving. Without even bothering to change out of his sleeping clothes, he hurried up to the Spy’s room, and found it already crowded with about half the team.
The man himself was seated at the foot of his bed lighting a new cigarette while he sucked the old one down to the filter, his otherwise immaculate white undershirt marred with blood spatter. On the bed itself, in a much bigger pool of blood, lay the Sniper. “I told him many times, did I not, zat I would kill heem in his sleep one day?”
“Well, yeah, but I didn’t think you’d actually-” the Scout couldn’t stop staring at the gaping entrance wound made by the Ambassador. “I mean, he was an ass, I’ll give ya that, but he was a fucking good Sniper! Now we gotta go ask for a new one, and God knows how long that’s gonna take!”
“You leave zat for zee grownups to vorry about.” The Medic stepped forward, patting the Heavy Weapons Guy on the arm. “Make room, would you? Let’s get zis body out of here before it stinks up zee whole base.”
The Scout wanted to argue the point, but the Pyro clapped a glove hand on the younger man’s shoulder and shook its head, mumbling about breakfast. The others tried to talk to the Spy, but he just continued to chain-smoke in stony silence, so once the Heavy carried the Sniper’s corpse out of the room, the rest of them shuffled downstairs for breakfast. The Engineer, for his part, decided that dealing with this mess could wait until after he’d gotten more sleep, and shuffled back downstairs, giving the Soldier the hairy eyeball when they passed in the hallway but otherwise not saying anything else.
When the Engineer woke again, his clock read close to noon. He sat up with a yawn, pretending not to notice the Spy-shaped displacement of air squatting next to the Dispenser he kept near his work bench. Nor did he remark upon the fresh leftovers he found on said work bench once he had changed, washed up, and shaved. He did, however, pour an extra cup of joe and left that on the Dispenser while he dug into his brunch.
That afternoon, the Engineer was called into the Medic’s laboratory and found himself staring at the abominable mess that the other man had made of the impromptu machine he’d slapped together.
“Ze Scout’s assessment of ze Sniper got me zinking,” the Medic was saying as he put the finishing touches on the Sniper’s corpse. “Ze portions of ze brain zat govern muscle memory are different from his higher mental functions. Zo why not reanimate him and have ourselves a Sniper wizzout zee insufferable personality flaws?”
“You know me, Doc,” the Engineer knelt and began the meticulous process of rewiring everything so it wouldn’t blow up on them once it had current flowing through it. “I don’t got no problem with you creating an abomination ‘a science-”
“Please,” the Medic sniffed, cleaning flecks of blood from his glasses, “zis would be a medical breakthrough nozzing short of a miracle.”
The Engineer was glad that his dark goggles obscured the eyeroll he was making. “Yer aimin’ ta turn tha Sniper inta Frankenstein’s monster, Doc. If yer gonna tamper in God’s domain and all that, at least make sure ya have everything else going fer ya.”
The Medic shrugged. “Zat iz what I have you for, ja? Besides, I was able to make ze team Ubercharge ready wiz only minor complications, was I not?”
“If nuthin’ else, at least this oughta get tha Scout ta shut up about how you sewed a bird inta his chest,” the Engineer muttered.
At the Engineer’s insistence, the attempt to reanimate the Sniper was delayed until the Engineer could attempt a few dry runs. In the meantime, the corpse was stashed in the meat locker-the Medic, with a smirk, added a yellow sticky note to the dead gunman’s forehead reading: “DO NOT EAT—DEMOMAN, THIS MEANS YOU”.
On Monday, everyone went back to work as if nothing had changed, not one of them giving the Spy any lip about being a team-killer thanks to the Engineer smoothing ruffled (metaphorical) feathers beforehand. It also helped that being in Turbine meant fighting while down one team member—a Sniper in particular—wouldn’t tip the balance too far in the enemy’s favor. On top of that, the Spy went about his job like a man possessed, and the notification feed soon cluttered with his kills and saps. In response, the other team hunkered down on their side, keeping the choke points too well defended to push far beyond the center room, but that meant they made no attempts to steal the Intelligence, either. The day ended with the battle being determined on points, Spy’s record-breaking contribution putting their side over the top.
Said Spy didn’t hang around for any post-battle kudos or show for dinner, so the Engineer saved him some leftovers in the common room fridge and went back to brainstorming contingency plans in case bringing the Sniper back from the dead backfired on them. The Medic, still in a good mood due to his own better than average kill-to-death ratio, took all of the Engineer’s suggestions in good grace, joking that starting a zombie apocalypse would be too irresponsible even for him. (He was not, however, too irresponsible to keep unlabeled canisters containing fatal toxin lying about for whatever other science-related projects he was also working on.)
The Engineer had made contingency plans for every possible scenario except disappointment: while the body did show signs of life while hooked up to inadvisable amounts of voltage—including being able to be healed by the Medigun—as soon as the juice stopped flowing, so did the movement.
“I waz even willing to cackle and exclaim ‘eetz alive’,” the Medic sighed as he failed to find a pulse yet again.
“Maybe it’s like jump-starting a car,” the Engineer mused. “What if we let the engine run fer a bit, so ta speak?”
The Medic thought about this for a moment before he nodded in agreement. “Eet vould be wortz trying.”
An entire night’s worth of experimentation later, the Sniper’s organs were all working again—with a little help from the Medigun—and he even showed signs of independent movement, but he couldn’t get very far from the slab before falling into a heap of limbs. Still, the Engineer found this an encouraging sign. “Well, whaddaya know, this might be crazy enough ta work after all.”
The Medic rubbed his hands together. “Ja, if zis works, I could turn zee whole team into my minions and never haff to vorry about you idiots again.” He took one look at the Engineer’s scowling face and amended with a forced smile: “Just kidding, ov course!”
The next day, the Engineer was called in for a video conference with a very irritated Administrator. “Having fun playing mad scientist with the good ‘doctor’?” she sneered, the acrid tone in the word “doctor” making her true opinion of the man clear.
The Engineer wasn’t shaken by the attempt to intimidate him in the least. ” You saw the results for yerself, ma’am, and if you don’t mind I’d like ta get back ta givin’ ‘im a hand.”
“I do mind. I do mind very much.” The Administrator narrowed her eyes, and the Engineer was certain that the temperature of the room dropped by a few degrees. “Why did you not report that you were down a team member as soon as it happened?”
The Engineer shrugged. “We’re doin’ jus’ fine without ‘im, ain’t we?”
“And what happens when you transfer to a place like Thunder Mountain, hm? Stop wasting time with this reject of a science fair project and trigger a manual Respawn at once, before I do it for you and punish you all for insubordination.”
The Engineer squared his jaw. “With all due respect, ma’am, I don’t give a damn. That son of a gun got what was coming to ‘im and if we bring ‘im back, he wouldn’t last a day before one ‘a us blew ‘im a way agin.”
The Administrator arched an eyebrow. “You seemed to have tolerated him just fine before.”
“That was before,” before the Spy grew a pair, the Engineer added to himself, but if the Administrator didn’t know about what had happened between the Sniper and the Spy, she sure as hell wasn’t about to hear it from him, and if she did, he didn’t have to elaborate. “Now, I don’t want ‘im on this team even if he be tha best damn Sniper y’all have.”
The Administrator smoked in stony silence for a good five minutes before answering. “Fine. I’ll try to find you a less insufferable crazed gunman, but I make no promises.”
The Engineer tipped his hat. “Glad we could come to an understandin’, ma’am.”
The Spy was waiting for the Engineer against the opposite wall of the narrow corridor where the conference room was located, the pile of spent cigarettes at his feet showing that he’d smoked at least a whole pack and then some. “Well? What was zee word from zee salope supr´e;me?”
“She was none too happy, but when is she ever?”
The Engineer reported the news to the rest of the team, all of whom except for the Medic—still too busy playing with his new “toy”—were waiting for him in the common room to bring word back. They discussed the merits of Snipers in general and speculated on the personality of their new team member in specific for a while, and then each man went back to his own business.
For the Engineer, the week leading up to the arrival of the new Sniper was a blur of the usual routine broken up with all-nighters at the Medic’s laboratory. The old Sniper, in the meantime, “improved” to being able to respond to basic commands, and the Medic showed off the fruits of his labor by leading it around on a leash.
The (re)addition of the team’s ninth official member coincided with the move back into Thunder Mountain, so they all shared a six-hour long train ride where most of them took turns chatting up the lanky Australian. The Engineer said his hellos and then he hung back with the Spy, who was watching the Sniper with an expression the Engineer hoped wasn’t dreamy or lovestruck.
“Three years ago,” the Spy murmured, perhaps more to himself than the Engineer, “I sat, much like zis, staring at what seemed to be zee perfect human specimen, and thought to myself, ‘self, you must be insane eef you zink pursuing zis eez a good idea’.” He exhaled a long stream of smoke. “But zen I thought, ‘zee only difference between a madman and myself eez zat I am not mad; what eez zee worst zat could happen?'”
“Well, lesson learned, right?”
The Spy shrugged. “Perhaps.”
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
Poor Spy. Even when his story was the A plot, I wasn’t planning to go into what was happening between him and Sniper. And then Medic stole the spotlight and I felt it added to the unexpected genre shift into black comedy to keep Spy’s problems in full Noodle Incident territory; for all we know, he could have murdered Sniper in cold blood (unpleasant a human being as I implied him to be) for something as minor as snoring too loud.