It all started when they changed bases. This one had a lot more natural features like trees, boulders, and even a lake or two and a river trailing in the northwest quadrant. It was definitely a change of pace from the usual man made structures they had to work with.
Aside from a day or two of ceasefire when they first arrived, to unpack and get the lay of the land, it was back to the fighting, as per the usual.
BLU Scout in particular was interested in figuring out where any and all sources of water greater than two feet deep were, and avoiding these areas at all costs. He was a poor swimmer, and didn't want to end up getting knocked into the deeper water. He wasn't sure how quickly RESPAWN would kick in if someone were to drown, and he didn't want to be the first to find out.
Unfortunately for him, one month into the renewed battle, his worst fears were realized. Their Spy had gotten ahold the enemy intelligence, and when he was shot down, Scout had grabbed hold of the briefcase and booked it as fast as he could, adrenaline rushing through his veins.
Unfortunately, most of his team were scattered across the field, the closest (by his estimates) was a small structure hidden in the trees by the edge of the smaller lake. Sniper had taken a liking to camping there, but depending on who got there first, it could be his or the enemies Sniper. . . being in the middle of the map had it's advantages, after all.
Throwing luck to the wind, Scout picked up the pace, darting ahead, ducking and weaving behind boulders to further minimize the chance of getting shot.
A shot rang past his shoulder as he approached and he yelped, skittering closer to the lake. Quickly ducking beneath the foliage, out of range, but dangerously close to the Sniper (which he was certain was RED by this point), he crawled on all fours in the bushes, cursing under his breath.
After a few minutes, he found himself right at the edge of the lake. Peeking out, he figured that if he was quick, he could circle around, get up over the rocks to the east right quick, and be over the far side of the embankment and back on his way in just under two minutes.
Slowly standing, he looked around for any sign of the REDs, and for any of his teammates. Finding none, he breathed and raced ahead feet flying over the ground. The metal box against his back should provide a decent shield, should anyone attack him from behind. No one was eager to attack the very thing they were trying to protect, and even if they DID, it should provide a decent amount of protection.
Hearing a shot fy past his ear, Scout leaped to the side, closer to the water, now several feet below him. He risked a glanced behind him and flipped off the Sniper up in the treefort, cursing vehemently when the next shot grazed his arm.
He wasn't paying attention therefore when he went to leap down the rocks and out of range, for he only noticed the RED Soldier until he was screaming at him to, "HAND OVER THE INTELLIGENCE, MAGGOT!"
Scout couldn't completely dodge the blast of the rocket, and was sent tumbling over the rocks. Tumbling over the edge, he managed to cover his face and head, the rocks rough and scraping and bruising him. And then, there was nothing beneath him, and he hit the water with a splash.
He froze for several long moments, then began to panic, twisting around and struggling to reach the surface. After about a minute or two, his lungs burning, he felt a hand grab the back of his shirt roughly and drag him up to the surface.
Wheezing and coughing, gulping down air, he registered the color of his rescuer a few moments too late. The RED Soldier pulled the briefcase from his back and tossed him back into the water, giving his head a solid kick for good measure.
Darkness fluttering in and out of his vision, Scout couldn't find the will to hold his breath, the water burning his lungs before he lost himself to unconsciousness.
Scout fluttered in and out of consciousness for the rest of the afternoon and well into the night, plagued by aches and pains. He drifted from dreams to nightmares, unable to differentiate them from reality.
In his dreams, he was back home in Boston, playing baseball with his brothers, racing around the track, racing around town, beating the hell out of the chucklenuts that DARED mess with his Ma and his family!
The next, he was deep underwater, bubbles escaping his jaws, drowning and flailing and unable to move. Convulsions overtook him, left him shaking and weak as pain ripped through his legs and spine, before leaving him, dizzy and disoriented, and sinking into darkness once again.
He woke up at long last, or thought he did, stiff and aching, having stuttered between the two realms of light and air and dark and water for too long to keep track of. His head pounded dully and he lifted a hand to it, wincing as he felt the spot. That RED Soldier had hit hard. . . Owww. . .Owwwwww. . . .
"/Chrrr/. . ."
What the hell? Scout frowned and slowly pushed himself up, noting for the first time that he was lying down on a pile of smooth, slippery rocks. Glancing around, he realized that the same rocks carpeted the ground on all sides. He didn't remember anywhere like this, except—
All the blood drained from his face, his hands —were they /webbed?!/— clutching at the rocks below. Rocks he'd only seen on the shores of the lake, the very same that he'd fallen into.
Looking up, he kicked and flailed, a scream tearing from his throat. His legs crashed and smacked into the rocks below with uncoordinated grace, only adding to his growing list of injuries. He paused, huffing and panting, then clutched at his throat, coughing reflexively. Despite the fact that the liquid flowed over his tongue and down his throat without consequence, he gagged and coughed and spluttered.
He ended up dry-heaving for his efforts, clutching at his torso and stilling until it passed it. Breathing shallowly, Scout slowly waved a (webbed!) hand through the water, confirming where he was once again.
Okay. This was. This was okay. He was breathing underwater. This. . . This had to be a dream. Maybe RESPAWN had malfunctioned and he was in the infirmary. Yeah, that had to be it. He was in the infirmary, and the concussion and whatever drugs Medic had injected into him was causing him to. . . To have this very vivid dream. Lu-, Lucy-whatever-it's-called-dreaming.
Nodding slightly to himself, Scout managed to calm, glancing around as his fear lessened and his intrigue grew. He tried to stand, but found his legs wouldn't respond the way they were supposed too.
Glancing down at them, he sucked in a lungful of water, startled at the shimmering silver-blue scales and moon-white fins, a fish-like tail having replaced his legs from the waist-down. Gently feeling over one, he winced when his hand brushed over a patch of scales that were hanging by a thin thread of skin, like a hangnail just about.
Gently tugging it loose, he squealed, /honest-to-god SQUEALED/, and looked over the thin trail of purple-red blood that trailed from the wound, dispersing in a crowd through the water. Yech.
Scout shifted away just enough so that he (hopefully) wouldn't 'breathe' it in. Best not to go tugging at his scales, then. Looking over his tail once again, Scout churred softly in thought, curious, brushing his hands over it slowly.
Spending the next few minutes analyzing himself, the young man found that his fingernails had turned into sharp, black claws, his teeth were much pointier than before (he'd bitten his tongue by mistake), and his torso had six distinct slits, that he first mistook for wounds, but now figured were. . . Were kinda like gills, shifting and allowing water to flow over them so he could breathe.
The more he looked over himself, however, the more he realized that he was actually pretty beat up. All his flailing and rubbed scales off against the rocks, leaving raw patches of skin open and unprotected to the water, besides more bruising all over his torso. His back was especially tender. . . Gently feeling back there, he winced when he felt something prick his hand.
Okay, so he had spines back there or something. . . Man, this was a REALLY weird dream. Definitely something to write home about. Heh, his brothers and Ma would LOVE this shit. Real fantasy-level horror bullshit right here.
Hm, if this WAS a dream, then he should be able to swim proper, right? Or maybe, get to the surface and turn back into a human? While breathing water no longer sent him into a panic, he was unaccustomed to it and wanted to stop doing so as soon as possible.
When he first tried, however, he found he had no clue how to control his tail. He tried to move as though he was moving his legs together, but he'd never even swam, and his increasingly frenzied movements did nothing more than stir up the water and slam his aching body against the rocks even more.
Damn. . . This was going to be harder than he thought. Glancing around, he noticed how the rock-Kaiden ground seemed to tilt up, and figured that there might be a bank there, and braced himself to crawl up to it.
He had made it about halfway when he felt exhaustion hit him all at once, sweeping over him like a wave. With a yawn, Scout gave in readily and tucked his head in his forearms, unaware of his tail as it curled around his torso and head defensively.
They'd lost, but it was a near thing. Neither team had won that day, but that was hardly any consolation.
Snipes was the first to notice that something was off. Having been beaten to his favorite camping spot by the RED Sniper and forced to setup elsewhere, he was understandably a little pissed, but he hadn't minded too much in the end when Scout begged his help in getting the Intelligence. A little teamwork never hurt noone.
The partnership hadn't last long before he was taken down by an enemy sentry, but Scout had booked it with the intelligence firmly strapped to his back. He'd been taken down apparently, before he could make it back, but he hadn't RESPAWNED back at base, nor turned up after the battle was over.
It was a possibility that he'd ended up injured somewhere and simply couldn't get back on his own. RESPAWN was certainly an option, but no-one really like the idea of offing themselves simply to get home quickly. Not unless the wounds were REALLY bad already, and apparently they weren't, otherwise he would've RESPAWNED already.
Engie volunteered to help him look, and managed to rope Heavy into it as well, who then brought along the Doctor by proxy. Even Pyro tagged along, giving a mumbling explanation that they barely understood.
Their first solid clue was the runner's footsteps, near Snipes usual camp spot. Following them, he lost the footprints but picked up on blood on the rocks to the east, around the lake. Following that, he soon picked up the kids hat, laying on a small shelf leading down into the water, as well as scattered droplets of blood.
There were no other signs of the wanker, and he immediately feared the worst.
He shouted, throwing off his hat and sunglasses, removing his shoes. As the others shouted back and moved in his direction, Sniper clambered down towards the water and peered in, shading his eyes.
Picking out a spot of blue fabric in the murky depths, he shouted back, "Think I found 'im!" diving in without waiting for the others, he reached the bottom ten feet down.
To his shock, Scout was much more. . . Much more FISH than person at the moment, delicate white fins shifting and twitching along the length of a silver, scaled tail, reflecting shades of pleasing blues in the light.
Taking hold of his arm, Snipes pulled it over his shoulders and pushed off from the bottom, taking a huge gasp of air when he reached the surface.
Scout sputtered and coughed in his ear, squirming slightly in his hold as his teammate swam towards the bank, dragging them both slightly up the rocks in order to take a seat, feet dangling in the shallower water.
"W-woah there! A-ain't that somethin'?"
"Vhat is. . .?"
"Th-that's-, that shvould be impossible!"
Sniper glanced up at his teammates, then back at Scout, who was huffing and wheezing beside him, startled from the sudden wake-up-call.
"*huff huff, wwwhhhiiiinneeee* Sn-snipes—"
The kid wheezed, choking and coughing as though he were suffocating.
Panicking briefly, Sniper pushed the kid back into the water, showering himself with the resulting splash. Scout twisted about, hands clawing at the rocks, pushing himself back up so he wouldn't sink any further. His tail twitched and flailed, unable to aid him in his endeavors to move.
He got his head back above the surface, eyes flashing brightly yellow, maw full of sharp teeth, and started shouting at him, shifting between cursing him for throwing him back in and begging for help, irrational and sporadic.
"Ah, sorry mate! You sounded like ya were suffocatin', I didn't mean no harm, honest!"
"Vhat happened to leetle man? Why you half-fish man now?"
"Fuckin' hell, man, I don't know! Damn RED Soldier threw me in and kicked my head under and I fuckin' woke up like this and thought it was a motherfucking /DREAM/! I can hardly fucking move!"
"Calm /down/, mate. We'll figure out what happened and how to turn ya back, just calm down."
Snipes did his best to reassure him, slipping halfway into the water and wrapping an arm around his midsection, helping to hold him up.
"Hm, pretty sure we got a tub or basin somewhere that could hold 'im. . ."
"That might be a bad idea there, Engie. He could hardly breathe after a minute or so after leaving the water; would we even be able to get him back to base without him dying on us? Bloody hell, we don't even know if RESPAWN will work for 'im right now!"
Scout listened on silently, doing his best to huddle and curl his body against the rocks, his arms beginning to shake. He was hungry, and aching, and the others were talking over him, and he was helpless as he was. He could barely even MOVE for Christ's Sake!
Resting his head on the rocks, he churred softly, eyes slipping closed and shoulder drooping. Their arguing was making his headache /worse/ and he wanted to eat and walk around again.
He no longer believed he was dreaming. He never felt so numb in a dream before.
A/N: Completely self-indulgent, good ol' Merman-Au type business.
Also a test to see if REviews work on this story. . . On a newer story I posted it keeps saying I have reviews but when I click to see it brings me a page that claims I don't have any. . . It's really bizarre.