Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mercy

So I've caught the Overwatch bug. It's a fun little game that's perfect for a teacher who can't play all the time, but can catch a match here and there. The main character I play is Mercy. What follows is, I guess, fan fiction? It's silly, but I had fun writing it. Enjoy.

It was with some surprise that I awoke on a brisk September morning in a dimly lit forest. I was surprised that I awoke at all. The last thing I remembered, before the damp, rotting leaves and the swaying branches that greeted me as I regained consciousness, was my death. It wasn’t a dream; it hurt way too much. I had been shot during the battle. The bullet went right through my stomach. I collapsed, and I could feel the strange mix of pain and detachment that comes with the end.

I sat up slowly, looking down at my blood-drenched shirt, but unable to find the bullet wound. I probed the area gently with my hands, but felt no pain there, and no other sign of the wound. And yet, there was the hole in my shirt, and the blood. I could see no one else, no doctor, no way of accounting for my miraculous survival. I guess revival might be a better word. Or resurrection.

I stood up, expecting to be weak and woozy, but I felt strong, aside from the thirst and hunger that I always feel after a battle. But I was very confused. How was I alive? Where was I? What should I do?

I tried to focus on my memories of the battle. We had been fighting in a hilly plains near the planet Julen’s largest city. There were no forests that I knew of anywhere near the drop zone. I hand’t spent much time studying the planet, but as far as I knew there weren’t any forests for miles.

Judging from the scant light piercing through the branches above and the long shadows on the ground, it was late afternoon, but that didn’t mean much to me. It could have been the day of the battle, still, or it could have been weeks later. The dead don’t exactly have a good sense of time passing.

The dead. I was dead, right? I mean, had I woken up in a hospital in intensive care I could have understood what happened. But this forest made no sense. The more I thought through my situation, the more questions I had. What day was it? What planet was I on?

I thought back to the battle. The briefing had said we would meet heavy resistance from the colonial rebels. The Empire was sick of this foolhardy attempt at independence, so they were sending the elite third division – of which I was a newly minted member – to occupy Julen, and to locate and raze the rebel base. We were to land outside of Julen’s capital, then to fight our way into the city. It was a straightforward operation, and the battle had been in our favor when I took the bullet.

As I wondered idly whether we had succeeded in our mission, I heard a voice, “I’ve been watching over you. Your people took the city, but the rebellion fights on.”

Startled, I turned to see a beautiful middle-aged woman emerge from behind the largest nearby tree. “Who are you? What am I doing here? What happened?”

“One question at a time,” She said, laughing, “And I get to ask first. On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your pain?”

“I’m not feeling any pain, just confusion.”

“Good,” she replied, “I prefer to keep this painless, if possible, though sometimes it can’t be avoided. I’m not a miracle worker. Well, not always.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m a doctor. Or I was, before the rebellion. My name is Angela Zeigler.”

“And you, you rescued me?”

“In a manner of speaking. I took you from the battlefield, yes, to these woods.”

“Uh, where exactly are these woods?”

Dr. Zeigler shifted uncomfortably, “I can’t tell you that, actually. We’re on Julen, and we’re near the rebel base.”

“I thought that was in the capital?”

She smiled, “It’s not. But I’m glad to hear you think it is.”

I started to understand, “You’re with the rebellion?”

At this she stiffened, “I abhor war. I wish the rebellion had never happened.” It wasn’t an answer. Not really, anyway. But then again it seems this woman had saved my life, so maybe she wasn’t a rebel. She continued, “When the rebellion started I was in the middle of some fascinating research, research that has particular applications in a war like this one.”

“And this research,” I picked up the thread, “Saved my life.”

“It did. And it saved the life of the man who shot you. He died in the battle as well. I won’t get into the details as to how, but if someone dies, I can revive him if I also revive someone killed by that person. I’m not sure I understand it myself. Stills seems like magic, to be honest, but so far it works.”

It was hard to believe what Zeigler was saying, but then again it was even harder to believe that I was alive.

A man emerged from the same direction I had seen the doctor come from. “It’s time. I have to get back into the fight.”

Dr. Zeigler sighed, “If we must, Jackson”

“We must. You know that better than anyone,” the man, Jackson, replied.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I’m a hero buddy. A hero of the rebellion, and thanks to you I get to keep being a hero. We’re going to win this war.”

I spat at him. “You’re just a bunch of hopped up idealists who think you can beat the empire.”

“Boys,” Dr. Zeigler cut in, “This isn’t the time to argue. Jackson, he only just woke up, I haven’t even explained everything to him yet.”

“I don’t care. I’ve got to get to the front lines,” the man replied.

I looked on in confusion. Dr. Zeigler looked me in the eyes, resigned. I saw sadness, and also firm resolve.  “I’ll explain more next time. For now, just know that Heroes never die, for a price.”

“I’m no hero,” I replied.

“No,” she agreed. “You’re the price.”

Terror grasped me as I finally understood. Jackson looked into my eyes, pulled his gun, and aimed it at my torso.

“Mercy! Mercy! Please don’t do this.” I screamed, falling to my knees.

Dr. Zeigler kneeled down and grabbed my hand. “I’m here. I’m sorry.”

Jackson pulled the trigger and I felt the pain of dying for the second, and not the last, time. As I collapsed, consciousness fading, I saw Jackson walking away. Zeigler was still by my side. “How barbaric,” she said. Jackson had shot me in the stomach again. My death would be slow. Mercy took out a pistol and aimed it at my head. Again, she said, “I’m sorry.” Then, “It has to be done.” She aimed at my head and pulled the trigger. I suppose that was her idea of mercy.

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