"Let's get one thing out of the way," Jack Morrison began, his voice resonant in the office, amplified from his vantage point behind the oaken desk and directed at the chair across him. "You don't choose Overwatch – Overwatch chooses you ." Extraneous finger pointing and hand gestures abounded. It was a characteristic of the typical by-the-book military introductory speech that couldn't be escaped even in the most informal of addresses.
"You've just entered the halls of the finest that humanity has to offer. A task force that transcends national boundaries and cultural differences, comprising scientists, soldiers, adventurers, and oddities from all over the world, united under one banner. We work together to secure the future of every person on the planet. If that responsibility sounds like too much, now's the time to turn around. We don't need second-guessers in our unit. But if you're still listening, then there's nothing more to say."
Jack's chiseled face was pockmarked with scars, some from front-line combat and others from the toils of command. A permanent expression, halfway between a scowl and a smirk, had etched itself on his lips. Now it was a spirited smile that broke through the façade, daring to see the world for what it could b-
"Real nice, Jack," said the voice seated in the chair, followed by a slow clap that matched the rhythm of sarcasm. "I can see the acceptance rates soaring already." Gabriel Reyes stood up, returned the smile to his friend, and shook his head.
"Hey, you wanna be on the other side of this desk, be my guest. You were always the people person, Gabe." Jack frowned. "What's wrong with what I said?"
"The problem…" Gabe said, walking around the side of the table, tracing his hand over holographically projected names and ID images, "…is that you're way too uptight. No one's gonna bite if you're not offering the goods."
"We're a military unit, we have structure, we have a chain of command – you and I know this better than anyone else on the team."
"No, we're not," Gabe said. "This isn't the old days, at least that's not how we're tackling it anymore."
"Maybe." Jack sighed and turned to the window behind them. The shoreline of Lake Geneva glistened in the distance, over which Mont-Blanc and the Alps crested like glimmering white jewels atop a crown of blue. Overwatch's brand-new headquarters in Geneva were situated in an annex of the century-old Palace of Nations, where for decades, the diplomats of man brokered peace and negotiated deals that would determine the fate of the world, in times that were arguably scarier than the past few years. Perhaps the United Nations had since developed a reputation for being a toothless body filled with talking heads, serving only the biggest members' interests and imposing unenforceable sanctions, but really: no organization this large could ever lay claim to one hundred percent efficacy in a world where, as always, everyone pursued their own interests above everyone else's.
Was Gabe right? Were times really that different now, just two years after the Omnic Crisis ended? Perhaps the militaristic approach wasn't the best one anymore, because of that difference. Were they finally moving into an "unprecedented era of peace" like the media so lovingly and haughtily declared?
Of course not. Plato himself once said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." Or if it wasn't Plato, then it was Douglas MacArthur, whose "I shall return" bravado certainly had no shortage of war-witnessing. Jack knew that times were good, but also that good times breed weak people.
Still…Gabe's approach, whatever it was, would be informed by this same cynicism. They were cut from the same wartime cloth, and Jack trusted the man with his life – as well as his public speeches.
"How would you do it?" Jack asked Gabe, turning back to him.
"Well, first off…" Gabe stood side by side with Jack, both looking at the huge twin wooden doors on the far end of the cavernous room. "Everyone who comes through those doors is the best of the best, in whatever field they come from. They'll have heard your speech a thousand times. 'Only the best' this and 'Only the willing' that, yadda yadda yadda.
"That's not what makes Overwatch special. You almost got it right there, with 'transcends boundaries' and all that. With Overwatch, we fight for something more than ourselves, more than countries or nationalism, or allegiances to different ideas. We fight for a bright future, for freedom, equality, security of every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth. And to do that, we need to love that Earth, and each other. Overwatch is a goddamn family, Jack, and that's the first thing you need to instill in anyone who is sent into this office."
Jack nodded, and a faint, thoughtful smile actually broke through for a moment, before, "Awfully melodramatic for a guy who wears a black hood at sector meetings."
"Hey, I gotta keep the image up. Good cop, bad cop."
"And I'm the bad cop, right?" Jack snickered.
"Well, Mister All-American-Bloomington-Indiana-Farm-Boy, you can't be all 'moral compassy' like the papers make you out to be." The two laughed at the absurdity of it all. They, and the rest of Overwatch, were heroes in the eyes of the world. Superheroes, even. It wasn't an act at all, but such personality theatrics were a useful trait to have when facing the judgmental eye of the public.
Jack was the first to stop laughing, and he made a quarter turn away from his friend. The pause that followed was pregnant, and Gabe saw right through it. "Hey, you okay?"
"It's the ceremony tomorrow." Jack still didn't look back. "Heh, can you believe it's right next door?"
"Millions of people all over the world watching us get some medals. Did I ever tell you that back when I lived in LA, I tried to sneak into the Dolby Theatre during the Osca-"
"They're making me Strike-Commander, Gabe," Jack said, cutting him off with a sombered look. "They told me last night, told me I was most qualified to lead, I think it was the operation in Bucharest that got them thinking..."
"Jack." Gabe pushed his trailing voice aside. "I'm proud of you." He was smiling - and it wasn't a weak expression of happiness layered over a world of envy, but a warm reflection of how he truly felt for his fellow Overwatch commander.
Jack shook his head. "You wanted it so bad, Gabe, I-"
"And you deserved it, Jack." Gabe put his hand on the man's shoulder. "I wouldn't have anyone else leading the world's heroes."
"I swear," Jack said, "Nothing I do, no major changes are going through without passing them through you. We're doing this together."
"Hey, as long as you let me have a go at the uniforms, I'm not complaining. All this UN Peacekeeper Blue just isn't doing it for me." Gabe chuckled. "Besides, they'll give me something, don't you worry. Probably some black ops division, so I don't steal your thunder, right?"
"Right." Jack returned the chuckle.
"Primary," spoke the holographic table, projecting an Overwatch comms signature. " They're ready for you outside the door."
Gabe reached over and touched a button to respond. "All right, thanks." He withdrew and turned to Jack. "You ready for them?"
"'Overwatch is a family,' right?" Jack orated.
"You got it. Let's go." The two walked over to the double doors and opened them together, to see a couple sitting along the hallway.
"Lacroix, Gérard?" Jack called out to them.
"Yes, and this is my wife, Amélie."
"Welcome to Overwatch."