March 24, 2014.
        Dell Conagher was known as Engineer to his fellow RED mercenaries, as well as his BLU rivals. Three months ago, the last time Engineer was in the mental inhibitor room within an otherwise dark empty area, he and some of his friends had learned the identity of their next enemy. But what came to mind were the words they heard just moments before.
        "Well, team, I'm open to the idea of there being someone dressed up in the same exact outfit as you are, but for there to be actually two of you at the same time, that's kinda..." These were the words of a man at the other end of the communication system, known only as an apparent Fugitive.
        Nearly a year ago, this Fugitive formed a voluntary Resurrection Movement, and recruited the help of various certain individuals in order to protect him from the Opposition, a group of seven people who wanted him dead. The Fugitive's small peacekeeping team consisted of mercenaries specialized with military-grade weaponry, and young girls skilled in various magical defense arts.

        Now, Engineer had learned from his fellow RED mercs about a recent incident involving Homura Akemi, a young girl with long black hair, who was also part of the Resurrection Movement. Only this Homura was not the girl who had joined them a year ago. During the incident, the Homura they knew had been slapped in the face by an angry girl with a pink ponytail over her left shoulder and a revealing form-fitting battle dress, and knocked to the ground shortly thereafter by a teenage boy who had wavy blonde hair and was wearing an unusual Arabian-style outfit with a green headdress-- both were clearly a little underdressed for the cold weather.
        There was apparently a second Homura in the area at the time. The doppelganger seemed to have faint purple highlights in her hair, which was sleeker than that of the Homura of the present day. She managed to confuse the RED mercs who were there, as well as the pink-haired girl and the blonde-haired boy. Thankfully, it was enough to stop the girl's accusations. Unfortunately, Homura had also fainted from the confusion, and had to be brought to Medic so she could recuperate.
        Engineer wanted to find out more about this second-Homura who had appeared during the incident. He stepped in front of the inhibitor machine that was opposite an identical model that sustained a glowing slash, and took out his wrench.
        "Inhibitor 3" appeared on the machine's now-activated viewscreen.
        "Move 'em out," called Engineer. He swung his wrench onto the machine.

        The signals scrambled as Inhibitor 3 picked out its footage. Yet it wasn't what Engineer wanted to look for.
        The screen was marked with JAN 18 2014 7:55 PM.
        In a corner of a silver-walled room with windows covered with blinds, a young blonde-haired girl appeared on the screen. She had her hair in twin curls and was wearing a brown cap with a white feather, and a corset-like dress of white, brown, and tan. Engineer recognized his assistant Mami Tomoe right away, as she twirled around once and started to wave in front of her with her right hand.
        The inhibitor's viewscreen switched to color bars as the machine selected another piece of footage.

        FEB 28 2014 4:14 PM.
        In another dark open area, a teenage girl with chestnut-blonde hair and a white and red caped outfit, with a chestplate and a skirt, was talking to a woman in a black tracksuit with her hood down. The woman had black hair tied in a ponytail, with neon pink and blue streaks in her hair and had similar graffiti-like markings down her tracksuit. The girl was pointing to a poster she was holding, which had "MISSING: Lambent Light" typed onto it with an illustration of a silver and teal sword located underneath. All the woman could respond with was a solemn shake of her head. Engineer had not met face-to-face with either of these people on the viewscreen, though he remembered that Medic had mentioned the blonde-haired girl in passing during one of his Reanimator device runs.
        The color bars appeared once more and suddenly inverted their colors, but it was the next piece of footage that caught Engineer off guard.

        DEC 15 2013 4:27 PM.
        In front of a dark sheltered room at the snow-covered Construct grounds, a girl with brown hair in a ponytail as in a tan jacket over off-white clothes, with brown shorts-like coverings around her white pants, straps and belts along her uniform, and knee-high boots. She was holding one of Scout's giant red candy canes in her hands; Engineer only knew this because he heard Scout's voice on the inhibitor footage.
        "Awww, yeah!" exclaimed Scout.
        The girl smiled. She briefly took her right hand off the candy cane and made a peace-sign gesture in front of her.
        "Ya v osadke!" Heavy's Russian phrase of amazement was also heard on the footage.
        The girl then waved, presumably toward Scout and Heavy, with her right hand, while still holding the candy cane in her left.
        Engineer took a closer look while the girl waved. It was then that he noticed that her jacket had a particular emblem on it: a shield with two stylized wings on it: one dark blue, the other white. There could only be one person with a brown ponytail who wore a uniform that had a shield with wings like that.
        But before Engineer could rationalize a better state of thought toward Heavy's new friend, he found himself collapsing to the floor as shouts tinged with fear slipped out of his mouth.
        "Damn dagnabit dammit AARGH!"

        As Inhibitor 3 deactivated, a now-shocked Engineer was left on his knees with his dropped wrench beside him. He did not notice the young woman who had just arrived in the room. The woman had silvery-blonde hair, with one braided ponytail over her left shoulder, and wore a flowing crystalline light blue dress. She glimpsed Engineer, who had slumped in front of the inhibitor. She then quickly looked around to see if anyone else was in the area, and stepped over to Engineer. As the woman leaned down toward him, she placed her hand on Engineer's shoulder and spoke with a slight brightness in her voice.
        "Are you okay?"


*   *   *


        May 14, 2014.
        It has been five months since the Resurrection Movement defeated Black Rock Shooter and gained a second victory against the Opposition who wanted the Fugitive dead. Since then, the Resurrection Movement was on hiatus ever since they were forced to defeat their old former ally, who helped the mercenaries destroy a horde of rogue green-onion-shaped missiles all those years ago.

        Outside the RED base at the Coldfront area, which the mercs nicknamed Warmfront outside of the winter months, two young mercenaries known as Scout and FemScout had been goofing off with a boombox attached to Scout's bag and enjoying their usual supply of Bonk drinks. Both of them were assigned on guard duty at the base, and Scout was supposed to resume feigning injury in the event of an Opposition Member encounter, as he wore a vintage white Aperture hardhat and had bandages wrapped around his upper right arm. A recovered Engineer, who now had a communications headset embedded into his hard hat, brought over blueprints and a toolbox that contained his Mini-Dispenser, and had arrived to tag in with FemScout.

        At the nearly-derelict Drogentote Medical Hospital, Spy, a BLU merc in a formal suit stained with blood around the collar and on his necktie, laid his face against his left hand in front of Medic, a labcoated merc and mad scientist. Medic was off to test a custom Medigun made out of scrap parts; the emitter nozzle was fashioned out of a Sentry Turret gatling gun with red-painted metal at the tip, and it was connected with thick wires to a Dispenser machine casing that was repainted white. As Medic pointed in front of him, Spy shook his right wrist once.

        In a subway station littered with trash, Kyoko Sakura, a girl with long red hair and a black ribbon on top, was snapping friendly pictures with Sayaka Miki, a girl who had shoulder-length light-blue hair with small brass clips on her left above her ear. The phone Kyoko used for their photo session was one of several phones connected to a specialized communications system used by the team and the Fugitive. Kyoko and Sayaka were then greeted by a third girl, Madoka Kaname, who had pink hair tied into twin ponytails with thin red ribbons. None of the girls had transformed into their magical girl outfits, but all of them wore their usual school uniforms from times past. Kyoko took the chance to wave at Madoka, who waved back and drew Sayaka into waving along with them.

        At the vibrant retro racetrack known as Xenon Cakeway, FemScout closely watched two mercs carry some food in their hands. One of them was on the RED team and had a bullet belt wrapped around his oversized body. Mikhail, otherwise known as Heavy, was eating one of his favourite Sandviches while standing in front of a Mario image. The other merc was on the BLU team and had two grenades made out of soup cans attached to his chest, a small penguin figure on the back of his belt, and a feathered red felt hat with a wide brim on his head. Classified as a Mr. "Jane Doe", Soldier was almost about to sink his teeth into the leg of ham he was holding before FemScout arrived.

        At the RED Teufort base, three men in spacesuits stood in front of the central bridge joining it to the BLU base across the river. One of the men had bent over and pressed his helmet against his hands, as a baseball had just been sent there by Scout. The man beside him was holding up a wooden sign reading, "ALL RESURRECTION DESERVE TO DIE". These spacesuit-wearing men were part of a group specializing in protest rallies centered on death threats toward others, in apparent support of the Opposition's idea of terminating the Fugitive's life and those of any protectors. There had lately been a surge in protest rallies by the spacesuit-wearing group, and the Resurrection Movement had been forced to encounter them at every turn.
        A loud minigun's motor began to rev up, and a storm of bullets impacted the "Watch Your Step" sign on the bridge's roof.
        Heavy fired a custom minigun fashioned out of another Dispenser machine and another Sentry gatling gun. A bright red beam emanated out of Medic's custom Medigun as he, Heavy, and Scout made a standoff against the spacesuit men.

        Meanwhile, blocks away from a city fountain, three more spacesuit-wearing protesters stood in front of a poster-covered gray brick wall. One of them held up a sign, this time reading "WHY HAVEN'T YOU DIED YET?" Suddenly, a flaming red otherworldly portal appeared behind the men, who didn't seem to care.
        A young black-haired girl stood her ground in front of the spacesuits. She wore a white and purple skirt outfit and long black legging-boots, lined with purple diamonds. Homura Akemi knew that the portal behind the men was the entrance to the barrier of a witch: one of the sinister beings she and other magical girls had combated that used to cause despair in their vicinity. What Homura didn't understand, however, was why a witch barrier entrance would exist at a place like this. Homura reached for the circular shield strapped to her left forearm, and turned it along its central axis.
        In the blink of an eye, she disappeared. The spacesuit men looked at each other in confusion, still unaware of the barrier entrance behind them.

        Three more protesters in spacesuits were at a lumber facility, this time holding a sign with a blatant death threat proclaiming, "THOSE WHO DONT KILL FUGITIVES HAD BETTER KILL THEMSELVES". A bright red laser beam appeared and was directed at the man in the center. Engineer pointed his remote-Sentry-control Wrangler device at the men as he stood beside his Sentry Turret. The Sentry, equipped with twin gatling guns and a self-reloading quad-rocket launcher, had a round holographic shield around it and emitted its red laser.
        Standing on the other side of the Sentry was Mami Tomoe. As she quickly swept her right arm across the area in front of her, two white musket rifles floated down and hovered above the Sentry, also aimed at the spacesuit men. Mami and Engineer kept their weapons forward in case the protesting spacesuit-men suddenly decided to take matters into their own hands and try to attack.
        Suddenly, Engineer heard a short sword duel on his headset, which ended with wounds being inflicted and two swords being dropped onto the floor. Engineer listened attentively as he kept his Sentry aimed.

        Mr. Mundy, known as Sniper to his mercenary allies, had been called in by Engineer to their Warmfront base. However, he was left alone on guard duty as Engineer had to assist Mami with a surprise plan for the spacesuit protesters. This decision was made with bad timing, as the base had been invaded moments later.
        Sniper had Engineer's old PDA device in front of him as he lay on the ground, reeling from a blow by the invader. Sniper then took out his vintage-looking camcorder and pointed it in front of him. This camcorder appeared as a handheld 8mm film camera, but it had been internally upgraded by Engineer to modern standards so that its side lever was not required for use.
        Sniper absent-mindedly aimed his camcorder at something that was also on the ground, and at two injured RED mercenaries. Demoman lay on his chest, having collapsed from a chest wound beside his Eyelander sword, Pyro's fire axe, and some bottles of scrumpy, one of which had broken and left a stain. Pyro, who also had a chest wound, lay against a metal column and pointed his right hand in front of him.
        Sniper heard a sword being picked up from the ground. Thankfully, it wasn't Demoman's Eyelander being taken away. Sniper was, however, confused by what then sounded like clothes being pulled up along someone's leg instead of a sword being sheathed. He didn't have time to think about it or turn his head toward the invader before a bright blue portal briefly filled the area with energy arcs into the floor and columns, and allowed the invader to escape.
        The portal was caused by rampant time screw teleports, which were tears in reality that had been harnessed by Engineer and placed into the rebuilt primary inhibitor machine in January 2011 as an upgrade. With the rise of the Opposition, though, some of its members had been using time screw teleports to ambush Resurrection Movement members when they were most vulnerable.
        "Blue... candy cane," Pyro seemed to say through his gas mask. He then dropped his hand and began to sob to himself.

        "Blue candy cane? Aww, hell," groaned Engineer.
        Mami then looked over to Engineer and spoke somewhat sternly, as if she had a voice that wasn't exactly hers.
        "Can I have a moment?' she asked.

        Sometime later, after the protesting spacesuit-men had given up for the day, Madoka found herself at the inhibitors. She felt she was compelled to keep their commanding Fugitive happy and content, but neither she nor the other team members had heard from him over the past five months. Madoka walked up to the angular-designed primary inhibitor.
        Madoka decided to leave another message to the Fugitive and hoped he would receive it this time. She walked up to the inhibitor, causing it to activate.
        "Inhibitor 1 - primary" appeared on the viewscreen.
        "Are you okay?" asked Madoka. She placed her right hand onto the front triangular column and continued. "I just don't want you to be all alone." She tapped the column with her fingers. Color bars appeared on the viewscreen with a test tone. Suddenly, the colors inverted and a second audio tone was briefly overlaid before the signals scrambled.


        An audio message then began to play on the inhibitor.
        "This should be my last time in doing this kind of thing," the Fugitive spoke.
        Madoka couldn't help but smile in relief. The man who had formed the Resurrection Movement to regain the hope he lost was still alive.

        Meanwhile, back at the Teufort base, Engineer was carrying the toolbox that contained his Sentry as Mami held a walkie-talkie in her left hand. The walkie-talkie alerted the both to the inhibitor broadcast.
        "So, if there's anyone out there," the Fugitive continued, "even if you're part of... the team..."
        "Heck yes!" said Engineer, knowing that his very team was being mentioned.
        "Put aside your differences just this once, because I would like your support for this final time, hopefully... hopefully."
        Spy had a slight worried look on his face as he heard the audio message on his headset as well. But neither Engineer nor Mami saw him across the bridge, crouched down with his arms bent much like a small blue crab-like figure that he attached onto his shoulder.
        "Wait," gasped Mami. She leaned her head toward her walkie-talkie and spoke into it. "What happened to you?"




Chapter 1 >