Title: Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?
Plot, or Lack Thereof: Past and Present intersect as the Medic dissects a dead bird.
Reason for Banishment: Ran out of steam.
Since the War, I have kept a number of animals as a matter of self-therapy: having a flock of creatures at my mercy kept my sanity from teetering too far off the edge, and it was always useful to have the occasional guinea pig of the actual rodent variety in my line of work. But when I signed up for my latest employers, there were strict rules in place against keeping animals of any kind no matter how many times I or any or my teammates requested one.
Then, a few months into my assignment at Well, a bird almost caused global thermonuclear annihilation when it crashed against the window of the missile command room. Anybody with even half a brain could tell that it wasn’t the Russians here to reclaim their missing prisoners of war—if they even remembered that we existed, the last thing they would do is risk an international incident just to get us back—but the Soldier never had much of a brain to begin with. If I hadn’t saw the incoming avian moments before it splattered itself on an inch of reinforced polystyrene and ordered the rest of the team into motion, all of civilization would have been doomed. Instead, the Heavy tackled our self-proclaimed leader mid-rant and sat on him while the Engineer tried to talk some sense into him, the Sniper took up lookout duty just in case something worse than a stray bird was heading our way, and the Spy and Scout followed me outside to secure our so-called invader.
It wasn’t until I carried the quivering mass in my hands and showed it to the Soldier that the man was at last willing to believe that it wasn’t Communists, Nazis, or Aliens (or any combination of the above) at our door but just an unfortunate accident. Nevertheless, he persisted on giving it the evil eye. “It could be a Spy!” he declared, readying his meaty finger to poke into the bird’s crushed body.
I leveled my most piercing glare at him, causing him to hesitate just long enough for me to start moving out of his range. “Stop it, zat’s filthy.”
He lingered for just a moment longer before steeling his jaw and stalking after me. “Better that I get my hands dirty than you end up as a corpse, Doc.”
It was in this manner—me striding ahead, the Soldier struggling to keep up, and the rest of the team not even bothering with the pretense of stealth because they were all curious as to what I was planning to do with the bird—that we made our way to my lab. “You’re being ridiculous. Even if someone were to stuff zis creature full of explosives, ze potential damage vould be nozzing more zan a temporary inconvenience.” I raised a finger to shush him before he could retort. “If all else fails, zere iz always Respawn, ja?”
“You’re always too reckless, Doc,” the Soldier groused, seeing that he wasn’t going to make me agree with him.
“Says zee man who shoots himself wiz hiz own rockets,” I answered, placing my ‘patient’ in the last empty sterilized metal bin. Unlike him, I was a man of utmost efficiency, and contrary to the rest of the team’s expectations I wasn’t about to waste any of my precious supplies nursing a creature back to life. Rules were rules, after all.
My audience were quick to disperse once they realized that my intent was not altruistic. In no time at all, just the Soldier was standing at attention.
“Iz zis really necessary?” I asked without turning around. The other man’s over-protectiveness had been useful to exploit all those years ago, but now it was getting more and more irritating. The Heavy Weapons Guy might treat me like his personal pocket Medic on the battlefield, but as soon as the fight was over he entered a placid state not unlike hibernation and I was free to go my own way again.
“Better safe than sorry!” was the brusque response. The Soldier, on the other hand, was almost the opposite: he almost seemed to go out of his way to avoid me during missions, perhaps cognizant of how much danger he put himself into and therefore reluctant to draw me into the fray. But when we weren’t killing the other team, the Soldier refused to leave my side except to sleep, and he did that in the room next door to mine; I’d threatened several times to lobotomize him if he tried to come into my bed at night. It took strapping him to the operating table and breaking out the scalpels for him to realize that I was quite serious.
The bird’s final death throes drew my attention back to it. Scalpel at the ready, I hovered over its tiny, quivering frame, watching the life leave its body.
Look at you, a voice in my mind hissed. You keep playing mad scientist like this, one day you’ll become one.