On the BLU battlements, a familiar yellow pegasus sat, ducked under the battlements, making sure not a single pink hair was poking above the window. It had become a routine: Wake up, hide under the windowsill until nightfall, go back in. Not a single chance to get hurt. She looked up on the wall, confirming the RED dot that had adorned it all day was still keeping vigil. She clutched the rifle in her hooves tight, squeezing her eyes shut. A small squeak of fear escaped her throat.
"You'll never hit him if you never fire"
Fluttershy jumped with a yelp, briefly exposing a part of her mane to the opponent. The dot scrambled toward it, but she ducked back down. The dot resumed slowly scanning the wall, waiting for its opportunity to strike.
"Oh. It's you, Mr. Sniper. I didn't hear you come in" She blushed slightly at her scream.
"I noticed" He took his sunglasses off and polished them with his shirt. "I just wanted to come by. I haven't really talked to you since you got here"
She didn't say anything, content to stay as quiet as ever. The silence between them lasted almost a full minute.
"Are you okay?"
"Wh-what do you mean?"
"You know what I mean, Fluttershy. You haven't gotten a kill yet"
"Well, I mean, um, you know, um," She continued, never actually starting her thought.
"I know it's hard, but you can't just come in here every time you spawn and just wait until the day ends. That's not helping anyone"
"W-well I did get rid of a soldier once"
In actuality the soldier had blown himself up when his rocket hit her at point blank. Both knew this, but Sniper continued, "I understand, but that's not enough. Are you having problems?"
She whimpered quietly, not wanting to answer. 'I can't do this,' she thought to herself. 'I've never had to hurt something to protect something else. I'd use the stare, but it won't work, he's just so far away
' Her mind raced, but she didn't say a thing. Trying to break the tension, Sniper changed the subject.
"So what's it like in Equestria?"
The question, while simple, caught the pegasus off guard. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you didn't talk much while I was teaching ya how to fire. The only thing I really know about where you came from is it's name. So tell me. What's it like? How's it different?"
Fluttershy started thinking around, piecing together noteworthy things. "Well
what do you want to know first?"
"What do you all do back home. I mean, I assume you have jobs and such"
"Well, Twilight runs the Library, Rarity has the Boutique, Applejack runs Sweet Apple Acres, Pinkie helps at Sugar-Cube Corner, and Dash is on weather team"
"It's a group of Pegasi that control the clouds. It's why Dash acted so strangely yesterday"
He laughed slightly, recalling the day before. A rainstorm had rolled through and Rainbow Dash had repeatedly flown around the clouds, trying to find the pegasi operating them, but to no avail. "I think you forgot someone"
"Well, Trixie used to be a traveling magician, but I'm not sure-"
"Not her. You"
Before she said anything, Angel hopped in, looking at the Sniper suspiciously before heading over to Fluttershy
"Hello Angel. Noon already?" Fluttershy dipped into her saddlebag, pulling out a fresh carrot. Angel took it and greedily consumed it. "Now Angel, what have I told you about that. Your going to get a tummy ache" The bunny rolled his eyes under the helmet and finished the meal. He hopped out the window, back into the battle.
"What was that about?"
"Oh, Angel gets grumpy when he doesn't have something to eat"
"So I'm going to hazard a guess and say you're a caretaker for Angel?"
Fluttershy's eyes lit up briefly, and her voice rose slightly in volume. "Oh, not just Angel. I take care of all the critters around Ponyville. All the squirrels and the mice and the birds and everything"
"That's gotta be a lot of work. How do you manage?"
"Oh I don't mind. It keeps me busy, and the animals are wonderful friends. It can get a little frustrating at times, but usually I can handle it"
The mare blushed slightly. "Sometimes there's a big rush of injured animals, and I have to help them all alone. Then there's the ones that for some reason I can't communicate with, like the migrating geese"
"So you can communicate with animals?"
"Yes, in fact it's my special gift. It's how I got my Cutie Mark"
"That's what that symbol is?" He gestured toward the three butterfly's that adorned Fluttershy's flank
She nodded. "They show up when y-" A bullet pierced the wall, and Fluttershy screamed, covering her head. The Australian sat, unfazed.
"Rude. You okay?"
Fluttershy squeaked. After a while, she slowly lifted her head, still shaking. "How do you do it?" She asked in a voice that was barely audible
"Do wh-" Another shot, another scream. Sniper felt the top of his head, discovering his hat was gone. He looked in front of him to find it sporting a bullet hole in the side, still smoking. "Bloody Mongrel! I like that hat!" He swept up the rifle and swung around, briefly looking through the sights before firing. The oppressive RED Speck disappeared. "That'll teach 'im"
You killed him in cold blood"
"Not in cold blood. We've traded more shots than I can even remember"
"And that makes it right?" She raised her voice. Sniper recoiled a little. He could tell that The pegasus would never raise her voice unless absolutely necessary
He paused. "
Didn't say it made it right. Said it was a reason"
There was a dark silence between the two for a few seconds.
Fluttershy cocked her head, confused. "Excuse me?"
"It's been six years since I've seen anything that wasn't this place. I remember when I got here
A lanky Australian got off the train, a bag slung over his shoulder and a rifle in his hand. The building in front of him. A pair of buildings, actually, facing each other. Between them a covered bridge crossed a murky looking pool. The buildings looked so similar, except for their colors. One in shades of red and the other, closer one, in shades of blue. 'What am I even doing here,' he thought to himself. When Builders League United hired him, they neglected to mention New Mexico as the location. What was this, some kind of arena? He walked in, looking around for anyone else. He caught sight of a man sitting on a tool chest, strumming a guitar idly. The man lifted his head, and smiled amiably.
"Howdy. I suppose you're number 2?" The thick Texan accent was accompanied by an outstretched hand.
He tentatively shook it. "Uh
I suppose I am. And you are?"
"I've been told that my real name shouldn't be used, so y'all can call me The Engineer"
"They told me the same. I'm Sniper. So you're a mercenary? Sorry to say but you don't look like much of a fighter"
"Mercenary probably ain't the best word to describe me. More like 'Scientist-fer-hire,' seein as my guns do the work for me"
"My gun does my work too, after all I can't will the bullet into their heads"
The man laughed. "I don't think yer gun," He paused and smacked the side of the toolbox. The sound of servos and motors began and the box opened. A pair of legs popped out, followed by a small cylinder that sported a gun barrel on the front. It paused, then the front split, reforming the barrel into a pair of Gatling guns, with the bullet chains attaching to the body. One more pause, then it shifted again, producing a box on the top containing four rockets. The Texan sat on the top of the contraption, beaming. "Is quite the same as mine," he finished.
The Sniper gawked. "Cripes! That thing could take out an army!"
"You bet. That's why they hired me"
The two's talk was interrupted by a loud yell from a skinny kid running on, a duffle bag on his back and a sawed off shotgun in his hand. "Finally!" he shouted. "Thought dat train wasn't ever gonna get here. Dat took too damn long!" A few people followed. A man who's physique reminded Sniper of a propaganda poster grabbed the boy by the collar and lifted him up, bringing them eye-to-eye. 'Well, eye-to-helmet' Sniper mused.
"Do you ever stop talking, maggot!?"
"You better put me down or dat helmet a' yours is gonna have a fresh new dent in it!" The boy wrapped his hand around a bat. He was dropped to the ground with a growl. The rest started filing out: A German man in a lab coat laughing with a monster of a man with a Russian accent guffawing about some story that the German had told about a stolen ribcage. A suited man walked out next, smoking a cigarette. Over his shoulder was slung another man, drunkenly mumbling and occasionally laughing. And at the rear was a portly man, also clad in a suit, arguing with the woman that had hired Sniper. 'Ms. Pauling, I think?'
"Madam there is obviously a mistake, I am no killer! I'm a civilian! I am not supposed to be here!"
"I understand, sir, and I will try to rectify the situation, but there is nothing I can do at the moment" She turned away and faced the mercenaries.
"Now see here!" He grabbed her shoulder, Intending to speak to her face to face. Instead he was staring down the barrel of a large caliber handgun.
"If you place your hands on me again, sir, getting to your proper destination will be the least of your worries"
She went back to work. "Welcome, BLU team! Before I begin, let me just make sure everyone is here. Scout?" The Boston youth excitedly shouted to verify his presence. "Soldier?" He grunted. "Pyro?"
A sound was heard in the corner of the court, which sounded like a muffled "Present," No one had seen the person get off the train, but they were there now. Sniper couldn't see what he looked like, due to a large Fireproof suit, and a gasmask that covered his head.
"Okay, Demoman?" Here the drunken man burst out laughing, concluded with a slurring sentence that was completely incoherent. "I'll take that as a yes. Heavy Weapons Guy?"
"HERE!" She flinched at his quick response. "Engineer?"
"Here, li'l lady"
She put her clipboard down at her side. "Okay, now that we're all here, let's get down to business. My name is Ms. Pauling. I am here on the behalf of your employer. We at Builder's League United, or BLU as we normally go by, have reason to believe that Reliable Excavation and Demolition, also known as RED, is trying to sabotage our efforts. So to end their tyranny, we've hired you, the best in your areas. When RED heard of our plans to hire killers, they did the same. You will fight until RED gives in"
"What if they refuse to yield?" The Spy flicked his cigarette away and pulled out a new one.
"Then you'll have to try harder. Now, should you die, there is a machine that we have created, able to bring you back to life after fatal injuries. Unfortunately, the thieves at RED have stolen our technology, and have the same Regenerator. In fact, when they stole the blueprints, they also attained something else. You will not only be fighting other mercenaries, you will be fighting clones of yourselves"
"WHOA WHOA WHOA, There!" The Scout started shouting. "THEY'RE US!?"
"Calm down. Yes, you will. And we have contracts with all of you, meaning you're here until the contract is terminated. So I'd get used to it quickly," she said as she walked away. She boarded the train and it pulled away. Before she disappeared, she shouted out the window, "Good luck!"
"So we kinda fell into our routine, and here we, six years later"
" Fluttershy had stayed quite throughout the entire story, but something had been on her mind for a good part of it. "What happened to that one man? The Civilian?"
"Well, about a week after we all showed up
"AGGHHH!" The man stabbed his umbrella into the wall. "ANOTHER DAY WITH THESE BARBARIANS! I CAN'T TAKE IT!"
"Will you SHUT UP you whiner!?" The Spy snapped back. Every day since his arrival the civilian was getting louder and louder in his hatred of being stuck.
"I AM NOT WHINING! I REFUSE TO BE SPOKEN TO AS SUCH!"
The Sniper placed his hand on his gun, trying his hardest not to turn the rifle on the loudmouthed Brit. Even his patience was being pushed towards it's breaking point. If he died, though, that would be it. He wouldn't come back
As he entertained the thought in his mind, a sound caught his attention. Train brakes
"FINALLY!" He pulled the umbrella out of the wall. "I CAN LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER COME BACK!"
Ms Pauling walked off the train with a serious expression. The pudgy man ran up to her. "THANK YOU so much! You've come to take me away, right?"
"Of a sort. As much as it pains me, you will not leave here. This operation is a secret, and if we let you out, we cannot trust you to keep it under wraps"
A tense air began building. "Wh
What are you saying?"
Ms. Pauling held up a revolver. "That I've been sent out to take you out"
The Team dared not try to stop it. "You can't kill me! I-I'm important! Very important!"
"Not to us. It pains me to do this, it really does," She raised the gun, firing once. The man groaned and fell to the ground. A pair of large men walked out of the train, picking the body up and taking it to the train. "As harsh as this is, let it be a lesson. Trying to leave will only end in tragedy"
Fluttershy shook, the picture replaying in her mind. Sniper sighed. "I'm sorry, I didn't think it would upset you so much
But that's not fair
It wasn't his fault
"It's why we fight. Maybe if we go long enough they'll let us go"
Fluttershy shuttered. 'I lose either way!' Her mind screamed. 'I don't want to kill anyone, but they'll
get rid of me if I don't'
Sniper grabbed the rifle and stood up.
"What are you doing!? Get down or he'll get you!"
"That's the point," He held the sight up to his eye. The trigger was left uncovered. "If you want to save your friends, sometimes you gotta make tough decisions. I've got 'im in my sights, but I'm not gonna pull the trigger. You are"
"What!?" She looked over the ledge, seeing the other sniper looking in another direction, distracted.
"If he kills me, that's it. I'm not coming back. The regenerator isn't set to me anymore. But even if you kill him he'll be back in a minute. So make your decision quick"
A blue dot caught his eye, and he looked over. 'No' He fumbled with the gun, trying to bring it up. The red dot hit the wall again. 'No!' It maneuvered toward her friends head. She looked at the trigger, tears coming to her eyes.
"NO!" She closed her eyes an swung for the trigger. The loudest shot she'd heard since she had arrived rang out. Had she done it? She was too afraid to open her eyes, too afraid at the possibility she'd messed up and her friend was dead. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"You can look now"
Her eyes shot open, and a blurry picture showed that she'd succeeded! She practically tackled the Australian in a hug. "Ohmygoodness! You're alive!"
"Well of course, you did take the shot," He chuckled, wiping the tears away from her eyes carefully. "Now do you get it?"
"I think I do," She nodded. "I'm not really hurting them, am I?"
"Well, for a split second. But because they regenerate you're not really killing anyone. So do you think you can do what you need to?" She pulled a hoof under her eye.
"Yes, I think so
The dot returned, but it felt different for her. It no longer symbolized the fear she felt. He stood up, walking away. "Good luck"
She looked down the sights, taking the target. She closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.