Whenever his own Demoman would ranted and raved that the government was attempting to control its population via tampering with the water supply—as if Uncle Sam would ever need to stoop so low—Soldier would in turn laugh off the absurd notion. But now that he was about to embark on his own in what must have been enemy territory, he figured it would be better to be safe than sorry. So in addition to the Dispenser he’d strapped to his back (Engie wasn’t all too happy about letting Soldier have one of his babies, and in addition to a wall of words that the Soldier tuned out, gave Soldier a list of maintenance manual that must have been at least as thick as a New York phone directory and then some), Soldier packed all of the food and drink he could carry and made his way towards what he hoped to be one of the many emergency bunkers that were rumored to exist in case of events such as the situation they faced now. Even if everyone had agreed to not take action against the new head of Mann Co. (“That’s Awesome Supremo Madame President Olivia to you, minion!”), Soldier figured their former employer owed them some answers. This wasn’t a desired fueled by money; his service to BLU had never been about anything other than fighting the good fight. But ever since the first time BLU stopped existing in any meaningful manner, no matter how many robots he destroyed he couldn’t stop laying awake at night wondering what purpose all of that screaming, exploding, and dying was for.
And now, left to his own devices, a stranger in a strange land, and running out of edible things no matter how much care he took to rationing his supplies, Soldier found his mind drifting more and more to places they’d ought not to go. Dark, traitorous thoughts he had no business entertaining even in his wildest dreams bubbled to the surface; the hallucination Tavish who’d appeared to him somewhere between Bumfuck, Nowhere and Admit It, You’re Lost refused to go away no matter how many times he bashed himself upside the head with his entrenching tool and his head was starting to hurt. The one thing that saved him from irrevocable, gibbering insanity was the firm knowledge that the apparition before him was indeed a product of his fevered imagination—he had plenty of experience with both his own flights of fancy and the real thing, and there were a million little details that distinguished this unwelcome guest with the former friend that Soldier did his best to ignore during the brief time when RED and BLU stood together on a united front.
As irony would have it, the phantom Tavish stalked Soldier as he trekked through the desert. On most days, he spouted nonsense based on half-remembered conversations engaged while under the thick haze of Scrumpy and hand-rolled smokes; on others, he would act in such an over the top stereotypical fashion that it confirmed all the more he could not be an actual person (though Soldier had to admit that the hours-long monologue consisting nothing except the word “haggis” repeated over and over again was pretty funny, all things considered). None of this bothered him, as it was harmless compared to the sorts of things he’d witnessed himself or fantasized with his mind’s eye.
What was getting to him was the rare occasion that the fake Tavish spoke sense and gave voice to the doubts assaulting his mind. But he’d never let doubts paralyze him before and he sure as hell wasn’t now, not even as it was becoming more and more obvious that he was going in circles. Still, “anywhere but here” seemed a good enough destination, so he kept on trucking.
It wasn’t as if he had anything else to do with his life.