**BEE CAVE, TEXAS, 1968**
The Bee Cave Junkyard was full of people like him. Out of work, without a home, and more often than not merely drunken dreamers who thought that with their next invention they would make it big, when in fact the only big thing they were ever going to make was the size of their bar tab.
Marmaduke Duke Neilsen was not a drunken dreamer. At least, he hoped he wasnt.
He clutched his wrench in his hand, striking his latest contraption in order to test its self-building capabilities, as the criticizing cries of his now ex-wife rang in every nook and cranny of his brain, still echoing in his eardrums and, at least to him, projecting all around him.
it looks like a gun
why does it look like a gun?
Duke, why did you build this
thing!? I toldja not to! I toldja! Whydja build it?
Youre a monster, Duke! I dont want ya livin in this house with your blueprints n nonsense!
He felt fortunate, though, that the bright yellow helmet and dark goggles hid his understandable depression, but his attire told a story of how so far hed spent two weeks wandering on the side of the road, sleeping wherever he could---a damp, wrinkled gray button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and tattered brown overalls, with torn-up brown boots. A single yellow glove was on his right hand, covering the burns and scars from an accident during the time he worked at a factory back when he still had house and wife. In his distraction, his wrench scratched the side of his contraption; like a father whose child had just gotten their first cut, he dropped his wrench, hardened hands running over the exterior of the device as he examined it. Upon finding it to have no damage other than a small scratch, he sighed in relief, then checked a compartment inside. The sound of a nearby crushed soda can being impaled on a stiletto heel caught his attention, as he looked over his shoulder, seeing the newest arrival.
It was a woman. She was holding a cigarette in one hand, thick brown locks crowning her head as she gazed down at him with steely brown eyes. Unlike the aura of welcoming and joy that his darling Caroline had once given him, this woman gave an air of absolute spite, with a small dash of impatience. The clean, dark red business suit gave her a straightened stature, as she gave him a look of belittling. When she spoke, a thick cloud of cigarette smoke puffed forth, as a thick formal British dialect exited from between her lips.
You must be the one with the self-firing gun.
Duke was surprised that not only was a foreigner approaching him about his creation, but that the news of his creation was traveling the pubs faster than he thought. She must have learned of it from the pubs, he thought.
Yeah, thatd be me
he drawled out, his voice thick and gravelly.
Good. She crouched down to look at his invention. And what do you call this?
Issa sentry, he explained, Designed by me
built by me
and you best hope
not pointed at you
Hm, she said, as if unimpressed. Duke felt a blow to his already dwindled ego, and he let out a low groan. The woman stood up straight, looking him in the eye, her gaze piercing the thick layers of his goggles.
I want to see it work. Show me now.
he scratched his headat least, as well as he could while he still wore his helmet, Havent ya ever learned tsay please?
No, she said, I want to see it work. Now show me how it works.
If ya say so
Duke murmured, crouching in front of his toolboxhis only hope of ever finding a purpose. He took out, to the womans amusement, two ballsone red and one blue.
It cn be color-coded
he said, throwing the red ball. The gun didnt react. The moment the blue ball left his hand, the gun let out two quick beeps, turning itself and blasting the ball to pieces. A small counter hooked up to it clicked, to show 0 0 1 on it. Duke turned slowly to face the woman. Well? Whatdja think?
The woman was lighting another cigarette. She then looked at Duke and smirked gently.
I think I may just have the job for you.
A job!? he instantly exclaimed, excited at hearing the offer. His heart was practically leaping.
Allow me to explain. She put her lighter in her jacket pocket. My name is Jillian Davis. I am the leader of Reliable Excavation and Demolition.
As she gave the explanation of who she was and what the job was, Duke began to feel his hopes lifting, as if at long last his prayers were heard. Then came the one condition of the offer.
To join the team
we need the blueprints to your amazing weapon
in our competitions against BLU, the engineer chosen for their team will also have access to your creation. I know it might be a little bit unnerving, seeing someone else use your creation
That dont bother me one bit, Duke interrupted, Look, I created this thing fer one thing: combat. I wanted tsee lines of these across a battlefield in thfuture of battlefields. An so long as I have my name on the patent, everythingll be perfect.
Jillian could see his excitement, and felt another smirk tug at her lips.
If that is what must be done
then so be it. Say goodbye to this junkyard
you wont be coming back.