Disclaimer: I own no franchise mentioned in this work. Halo belongs to 343, Overwatch belongs to Blizzard.
Wrote this today as a quick little thing when I noticed the lack of Halo/OW stories. Kind of have a plan for where I'd go with the next few chapters but after that it'd be a bit of a ramble, to be honest. If people are interested I can write a little more, though I won't promise quick updates.
Tracer couldn't remember what it felt like to touch something. She recalled a distant memory of sensation, perhaps the feeling of a chair to sit in or gravity pulling her down, but that was it. She had no idea how long she had been lost, time hadn't mattered since the accident. Her first sign of trouble had been the fluctuations of the portal generator on the Slipstream jet. Before she could do anything, the jet, and everything else she had known, was gone.
From then on her existence became nothing but a blur, flashes of events and people, but never anything tangible. She sat by and watched the world go on without her. Eventually she had given up on any hope of rescue or release from her own personal hell. Any feelings she once had were forgotten in lieu of her current blank slate. What point was there to try and feel if there was no one to hold her, speak to her, acknowledge her. She may as well have been a ghost, lost in time.
At first, she had fought with all she could muster, trying to find a way out of her incorporeal state. Yet every time she came close, the portal would engulf her, displacing her and undoing any sense of hope she had held. She gave up on returning, gave up on feeling. Everything became gray and lifeless in her eyes, not that it made a difference when the only thing that stayed the same was her own withered body. The pain that had hounded her for what seemed like forever became nothing more than a bother, soon forgotten amidst the pain of teleportation.
Every time the portal had appeared, it did so with a flash of light before quickly forming into what had to be the darkest dark possible. No matter what she did, Tracer always fell into the silent pit, unable to stop her own distorted form from being drawn inside. The first time, when she had been pulled from the Slipstream jet, it hurt beyond what she had thought possible.
Her limbs were twisted into shapes that she could not even comprehend. Whatever dimensions the place possessed, they did not match with the human perception. Her bones were broken and reformed and then broken again, each and every moment. Time held no meaning as her entire body was pulled apart, held together by nothing and everything at once. An instant later or after an impossibly long time, the portal had dropped her back out. Her mind was still processing the pain, trying to cope with what had happened, so she didn't notice it wasn't where she was supposed to be until much later.
That had started her escape attempts, which ended the same way every time. The portal would appear in front of her, draw her in, and destroy her will before spitting her back out to start again. Her body was not permanently harmed, but her mental state deteriorated quickly. Tracer had no choice but to stop feeling, for the disappointment and pain of every failure slowly crushed her mind. And so it was that she existed, albeit not living but not able to have the mercy of death either.
Her first indication that something was different was the light. Instead of the undulating darkness that normally held the portal open, there was instead a solid ring of purple that outlined the smooth edge. There was nothing she could do as she was sucked in except prepare for the pain, the twisting and cracking of bone and muscle as it was torn and reshaped. The pain never came. There was slight discomfort, but as she looked at her knees curled beside her there was no distortion.
She tried to feel happy, perhaps excited that someone had finally found her, or at least managed to stop the pain. But once again, there was nothing. A blank slate, naught but a canvas upon which nothing would sit. Forever lost to the eddies of time and space.
Eventually the portal deposited her, as it always did, in some random location. Instead of the dull roar that usually accompanied the closure of the anomaly, only silence was heard as the tear vanished. Tracer had no idea how long it had been that'd she'd been lying there, not that she cared. Anyone that would encounter her wouldn't see her, hear her, or even know that she was there, if she in fact even was. Even if the pain of transport had stopped, she had no interest in leaving her curled position on the floor.
That was when the second indication that something was different. As Tracer went to lay her head against whatever surface she had landed upon, she noticed that she could actually feel the coldness of the metal on her body. Yet still there was no stir of emotion, no surprise or even a hint of caring that she was once more tangible. Even if she could feel the surface, it was the same dark palate that pervaded her existence, choking out what excitement she once possessed.
She continued staring at the ground, ignoring everything around her, waiting for the next bout of pain. She hadn't eaten for however long she had been trapped her, hadn't had anything to drink without the ability to touch. It was easier to lay down and give up, to stop moving and worrying about what happened wherever she was. The first several suicide attempts had only led to a portal and more pain, which cut off that escape. Tracer had accepted that there was no way to leave this hell and live, but as far as she knew there was no way to escape by death either.
Her thoughts came to a halt as the metal beneath her vibrated. It was odd after so long of not being able to sense the world around you. She had never noticed the small things until they were no longer present. The air against her skin, breath in her lungs, the small tremors as something walked across the floor. Her eyes were drawn to the cause of those tremors, the green metal plates leading up into a leg in her peripheral before her field of view ended.
Whatever it was, it must've been heavy considering how even the solid surface beneath her shook at its steps. Each cautious stride brought the being closer, investigating something out of place from the portal most like.
The gruff, "Identify yourself!" drew her eyes from the boots of the being towards its head. Tracer took in the large metal plates that protected it, along with the black suit underneath that obviously was not just aesthetic either. Her eyes wandered farther up, taking in the massive chest piece and armored forearms. She paused long enough to take in the utilitarian design before disregarding it as useless information and continuing up to its face.
Or rather, where a face would normally be. Instead, all Tracer could see was herself, reflected from the golden plate in front of her. Looking at her. Something about that bothered her greatly, yet she couldn't pin it down. Ultimately, it was one more detail that she would never bother to remember amidst the pain. She looked behind her, expecting something to be there, or perhaps even inside her incorporeal body, as had happened before. There was nothing, just blank metal floor back to a wall stacked with crates.
Tracer turned back, expecting the being to be looking elsewhere, but still it looked down upon her. A small downshift of its head showed it was examining her pilot suit. She realized what had bothered her about that. It was looking at her. It saw her.
She sat up as fast as her body would allow, her eyes focused completely upon the gold mask. Words were on the tip of her tongue, questions, demands, pleas for help. Before she could say anything or even move more than a few inches, there was a weapon pointed straight at her.
Tracer stopped, knowing that whatever this was, it was far beyond her in her current state. Her eyes stared into themselves, the reflection almost mesmerizing. That was when she noticed its stance, the way it moved, or rather didn't. There was no sound, no movement, no indication that drawing its weapon had affected anything it might do. She hadn't even seen the being move, only a blur before the barrel was before her.
So she did nothing but stare into the gaze of what must be a soldier. And as she looked into that visage, into the reflection of her etiolated form, Tracer felt herself flicker. She saw her eyes widen before the world went black. Then, with a small pulse of white, Tracer saw the truth.
The wars of Overwatch were nothing. They were a small group doing good things in a small world. Whatever was standing before her, looking down upon her, had fought the real wars. Made the decisions that would decide the fate of millions, faced the forces of the galaxy. And it had won. She blinked in and out of time, flashes of the dead and dying appearing before her, and around her planets annihilated to naught but ash. She curled in on herself, horrified at the atrocities committed, the lives lost. The images were endless, her thin connection to time blending the scenes together into one long horror show. Tracer didn't know what was when or who was where, there were too many.
And then they stopped. Tracer froze, once more looking upon the unyielding golden front. In it, herself, curled into a ball, tears running down her face. Around her lay various objects, floating in the air as if gravity did not work in this place. The hard metal surfaces told her nothing, for there was nothing to tell that did not stand before her. Staring at her, evaluating her, questioning her very existence.
For the first time in however long she had been lost in time, Tracer felt something. It was at first but a twinge, a small spark amongst the gray facade of her being. As she stared at the massive being before her, that spark grew, It was slow, a little flicker when she noticed the gun pointed at her head, the tensed stance, the unfamiliar setting. Then she began to make sense of what she had seen of this past. The death, the chaos, the fear. So the spark grew into a flame.
She felt her heartbeat, another sensation she had lost as she descended into nothing. Her hands released their death grip on her curled legs, slowly coming around to cover her heart. She looked away from the being before her to see her splayed fingers resting on her chest. A steady rhythm pulsed beneath her palms, accompanied by whatever feeling had risen from before. She snapped her head back up as the being moved its head, still looking straight at her. Tracer realized what was happening, what was almost inevitable. She had invaded this being's space, seen into a past that she should not have seen. In the process, she had regained a part of what made her human, but the one in front of her was ready to end her invasion. And so the flame grew into an inferno, freezing her limbs and locking her gaze once more into her golden reflection. She knew what she was feeling, her brain catching up to her situation but not reacting. For the first time in her life, Tracer could not help herself, could not fly away, could not even think. But for the first time in forever, she cared that she couldn't help herself.
And in that moment, frozen in an unknown location with an unknown being in an unknown time, as her vision faded and the world became black, Tracer knew the meaning of terror.