Sam

transgenicprose


Character musings

...or something like it.


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[AU: Jill, Chris, Wesker] You're not my favorite mistake; you're just a simple regret
Gun it up, At the ready
zerosuitjill wrote in transgenicprose

Reaching the door at the end of the hall, Jill shifted her M92F to her right hand, gripped the handle, and listened. Everything was, for the most part, absolutely still. A low breeze, the slight rhythmic rustling of cloth, the scurry of tiny rodent feet somewhere further beyond -- small sounds, things she wouldn't have noticed just a few years ago. Now each one caught her attention, just like the particularly strong scents of wood, dust, something earthy, and what smelled like a fading whiff of stale alcohol. It might have been akin to a sensory overload for anyone not used to it, but Jill had adapted, like always, taking the small things for what they were and deciding not to waste time with bitter thoughts.

Fairly confident that it was safe to move, she turned the handle and stepped inside, her gun immediately sweeping the area and joined quickly by her small flashlight.

The room was as empty as the rest of the compound. Larger than any other so far, it was about a third the size of a typical storage warehouse. Discarded sheets and tarps littered the cement floor; tables, overturned chairs, dusty beer bottles, a few playing cards, and some shell casings were the only things that stood out. Overhead, a tattered hole in the ceiling, where fresh flakes from the snowfall outside drifted down to gather in the growing mound in the middle of the room. Other than Jill, it was empty.

A loud, solid, and echoing creak gave warning, and she sidestepped just in time to avoid another wooden beam as it dropped from overhead in a startling clatter of noise. It landed hard enough to disturb the thick coat of dust covering the ground, producing a small cloud that threatened to make her sneeze before she moved further in.

She touched two fingers to her headset, pressing it closer to her ear. "It definitely hasn't been used recently," she affirmed, glancing back towards the hallway. "The building isn't more than a few years old, though, so it shouldn't be falling apart like this. I guess they left a few surprises for anyone who might come snooping around." With just enough natural light to go by, she pocketed her flashlight and, with gloved hands on her gun and gun at her side, she ignored the cruel drop in temperature and kept moving, eyes and ears alert.

It was frustrating, hitting another dead end. From the looks of things, the group had cleared out long before now, which at least meant that the local town could rest easy. All the same, it just meant that another town, wherever they decided to hole up next, would be suffering shortly if it wasn't already.

Dammit.

Jill had to give them credit. Zhizn wasn't the most run-of-the-mill terrorist organization out there, even if its methods, mindset, and intentions were just as self-centered and cold-blooded as any other. They'd managed to keep the B.S.A.A. running in circles for months now, at least, which was a feat in and of itself.

Zhizn was actually the first case Jill had been assigned upon her return to duty. That had been over a year ago, and while terrorists were hardly ever cut-and-dry cases, this one was getting more complicated as time passed, not less, despite all their efforts and intel. Based in Russia, the group was said to have had direct ties to Umbrella in the past; even that was shaky information, as the group had proven particularly difficult to penetrate. Even the latest tips the Alliance had received were more rumors than anything, and if not for a couple B.O.W. corpses that had turned up in the nearby woods, the claims may well have been disregarded entirely by the higher-ups. Resources were stretched thin these days, after all, and false alarms were becoming progressively more detrimental to the B.S.A.A.'s cause. Most governments in the first-world countries were feeling the same strain, but the Alliance, as stretched as it already was, was definitely something near overburdened lately.

The thought made Jill exhale a little sharply, her breath visible in the freezing air for a couple seconds. "Pretty sure I'm just finding dust and cobwebs here," she went on, but kept her voice just low enough to prevent much of an echo. "Any luck on your end?"

  • 1
It took a moment for Wesker to focus on-- pain and the groan of metal and the smell of laboratories and Bill could have been standing there with his nay-says and his shaking hands as he couldn't pull the trigger and Wesker had to take the gun, warm from sweaty hands, and aim at that spot just between-- determined eyes. Blue eyes.

Look how close she was, voluntarily. His own impotence galled suddenly and violently and Wesker snarled, his arms jerking in bonds that groaned and held as his body stiffened against the current being pushed into it. Muscles on his neck stood out with the strain and then sagged down as the cycle disarmed and he could breath again; his eyes closed. His pulse beat in time to the thunder against the door. The door. Cyrillic.

"Sergei's bastard," he breathed out. He fought to stay here with the pounding instead of slipping back into the waiting arms of his memories. His muscles were still slightly spasmodic in the afterglow of the electricity, twitching. Think.

With effort, Wesker's eyes turned to Jill. Think. She had asked... asked. Asked him. His nostrils flared; could it be the smell of desperation? It was a rope to clutch. He groped for her question, thoughts sliding around in the fog. Help me.

You bastard.

Think.

"Let me out." His eyes held hers through a sheer force of will, cold and-- for this one moment-- alert. "Let me out, Jill."

Jill retreated slightly when a buzz shot through the bonds, tightening already tight straps even closer to Wesker's skin.

Electricity. Zhizn wasn't in the habit of underestimating -- also seen in how thick the door was, which was now working in her favor.

At his words, Jill slowly stood up straight, holding the stare.

"No," she said flatly, calmly. "I'm trying to survive, Wesker. Adding you to the mix isn't helping." That, and other reasons, but again, time was of the essence.

Anyone else -- anything else, and Jill would have complied in a heartbeat as long as she felt she could trust them, or at least overpower them. Wesker -- even drugged, she knew he could likely take care of the same small battalion that would kill her in seconds, but that wasn't an option. For too many reasons.

No, she couldn't even consider--

Another slam; the door shook on its hinges.

"I need a way out, Wesker," she repeated, hoping to return his unsteady attention to her previous offer. "Tell me and I'll make sure to nail these guys--"

Slam.

His laugh was low and dark, sliding under the blows raining on the door. Wesker closed his eyes and turned his head away from her.

Wait. Patience. He forced his shoulders to relax. His hands. Pictured her in the tube, floating and serene, her pale body almost green through the wash the nutrient-rich fluid around her. Her long hair unbound, whispering, bleaching out day by day as the virus ate away at her nervous system. He enjoyed that particular outcome. It suited her.

The woman who had been in that tube would not even promise him mercy; not by her definition or any other. A way out and she and the B.S.A.A. would swarm and he'd be flushed like an unwanted pregnancy. No. There were options. He had options. She-- unfortunately for her moralistic pride-- was the one running low.

So Wesker waited. Slipping out through the seconds only to have the increasingly loud jars against the door bring him back up to the surface of lucidity. He didn't open his eyes again.

He waited for her. Her demented sense of do-good ran deep; after all, Jill had sacrificed herself for Chris. So determined. But what would her death now give the world? Wesker might still live without her. If nothing else, his genes would. Her death wouldn't even be a sacrifice, just another stain on the floor to be scrubbed away.

"Poor Chris," Wesker murmured at the first audible screeching buckle of the metal door. "To have to live through your death a second time."

Jill's glare burned into him, her pulse picking up as each second ticked by.

She couldn't. She couldn't. Not after everything they'd gone through to beat him -- she couldn't undo all of that and set him free. Of course, even if she didn't -- even if she died here and now to keep him in place -- there was no telling what Zhizn would do with him. They were keeping him for some purpose, and that could have been for anything. Chances were he'd do more damage to the world before he died, whether directly or otherwise.

The only solution to that was to kill him, and then die herself -- but as stubborn as Wesker was, there was no guarantee he would die. One thing Jill didn't know was the extent of his healing factor, and there were any number of things that his captors could have done to him -- hell, they could've improved his physical resistance for all she knew.

Nothing was certain, except for one simple, aggravating fact: on her own, Jill was screwed, as good as dead. With Wesker, she at least stood a chance, however small and uncertain.

She all but silently snarled at his reply, casting another look over her shoulder before hissing between her teeth and leaning over him again.

"I don't have any reason to believe you won't kill me first," she snapped. "If I'm going to die either way, I might as well make sure you stay down." She was stalling. There was nothing he could say to make her trust him, no promise he could make when his word meant absolutely nothing.

No, that much relied on her own predicament. Even if she was willing to lie down and die personally, she couldn't -- she was the only one who knew about this place, who could get word back to Chris and the others to let them know and stop whatever God forsaken plan was in the making here.

But was it worth this? Was it worth possibly undoing everything they'd done in the last decade?

Tick tock.

The door was coming loose; she could hear their voices more clearly.

Those bright eyes reopened slowly. Wesker turned to focus on Jill.

"You kill me and you die-- and Zhizn wins." Terrorism wins. Wesker jerked an arm against his bonds-- and let his eyes rolled back, lidded slightly, as the snap of electric current buzzed through his muscles. It cleared the haze clinging to the edges of his vision. Brought her into sharper focus. "Do you want to be responsible for the destruction they will cause, left unchecked?"

As much as Jill knew him, he knew her. Wesker didn't need to beg for his life, only appeal to her better nature. To her blind moralist sensibilities. If it meant saving lives then Jill would take the gamble against absolute loss. She'd beaten him once, hadn't she?

She'd think that she could do it again. He made no promises in her favor or against the contrary.

Jill...

Jill had always proven more useful to him alive.

[1/2] ....obvs Jill is going for a record in this post

Jill went on glaring. He was playing her, and as well as anyone could.

She exhaled sharply, glanced aside. She needed to live -- it might have sounded selfish, but it was the truth -- and all things considered, she didn't find it likely that Wesker would kill her right away. No faster than the men behind her, anyway.

It was true that Jill, physically speaking, was worth something to Wesker. Even so, that was far from comforting, and only raised the familiar question of which was worse: death, or being at his mercy?

The labs in Africa had been searched, stripped clean, and destroyed. Unless Wesker had planned that far ahead and stashed back-ups of all of his work, his Uroboros plan was shot, which meant he would have to start over.

Including, most likely, isolating the key component that had made the virus so successful in the first place -- the thing that Jill and Jill alone carried, even now: the secret of her DNA, permanently mutated with the genetic coding that would stimulate the production of T-Virus antibodies more or less upon command. Another scar she'd bear until her death.

To that extent, Wesker choosing to spare her was no favor, if it happened, because it only meant that he had another use for her. If that was his intention after the present situation was taken care of -- if he got his hands on her again -- then everything really would be back at square one. Only this time Wesker would be more aware of his shortcomings, would know better than to underestimate both Jill and Chris as much as he had, the ultimate cause of his previous downfall.

It would be worse than Africa.

It was a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes, but the fact still remained that Jill was seconds from death, maybe worse. Wesker, for all his treacherous shortcomings, was still one man, and one man she knew well. The men coming for her blood were many, they were an unknown, and, for the moment, they were the most pressing danger in both the short and long term.

Jill needed to choose, and she needed to do it now.

Certain death -- or take a chance on someone guaranteed to backstab her.

The decision was a logical one, and only her personal bias kept her ambivalent.

Another second, another shuddering impact against the door--

--and then logic won out.

...I'm so sorry, Chris.

Cramming her gun into its holster and turning aside, Jill quickly looked over the large, humming machine that the electroshock wires threaded back to. She swept her hand over several switches, turned the key by the primary operation panel, and powered it down; the generator died with a high-pitched, drawn out whine.

Before it was done, she'd turned back to Wesker, now addressing the steel buckles that bound the leather straps. She started at the lowest one, intent on keeping his arms restrained until last to prevent any surprises. It turned out that the buckles alternated -- one on his left, the next on his right -- and Jill had to free one, lean over him to get the one after it, and then pull back again, and repeat. Another wise design: it would considerably slow the efforts of any idiot -- like her -- trying to free him.

Nimble fingers worked swiftly, having to put some arm strength into it here and there as she pulled and forced the strips free, deep indents in the material saying they'd been in place for quite some time. She'd just started on the one across Wesker's shoulders when there was a ear-piercing screech of grinding metal, a final, thundering slam, and then she heard the door burst off its hinges and crash noisily to the tile floor. Jill immediately ducked, crouching beside Wesker's table; with all the machinery and things crowding the lab, the men would have to make their way through most of it before they saw her.

The band came loose. The only obstacle left was the metal ring clamped down around Wesker's neck, which was -- again, wisely -- fastened with a heavy padlock. Jill whipped her lockpick from her pocket, threaded out the pick, and then slipped the tension wrench up and into the keyhole, working by the familiar touch and feel of the pins and plug.

Footsteps, at least three pairs.

Jill ignored them, focusing, her lockpick feeling out the padlock's invisible workings: one pin -- clack--

One set of footsteps was closer than the others -- much closer--

Second, third, fourth pin, done--

It sounded like only one row of shelves separated Jill from the gunman, and any second now he'd round the corner--

The fifth and final pin snapped into place, only seconds after the first. The lock opened with a subtle, metallic click. She pulled it free, hissed "Done" in a whisper mostly hidden by the remaining buzz of machinery--

--and then Jill hit the floor fast, drawing her gun in one hand even as she silently slipped away from where Wesker, thanks to her, was now free.

[1/2] oh noes, teal deerz of wesker's own

Honestly, she overestimated him in the most basic of ways-- Jill, being a person with emotions, granted him the same through the lens of her human bias. Oh, it may have not been any emotions that she would consider good, but certainly assumed that things like jealously, greed and hate would color his actions and reactions. The truth that had kept him steps ahead of her was that she was wrong.

Wesker viewed people in only terms of potential and usefulness. Jill and Chris, the B.S.A.A., even the younger Redfield's attempt to combat bio-terrorism with protests instead of guns, it all made a difference to him only when they decided to mount their white horses and ride to his doorstep. He didn't linger on thoughts of vengeance, didn't waste time as they did contemplating the eventual destruction of enemies. If they'd let him be, Wesker would have been content to forget about them wholly unless they proved to mean more to his New World. He didn't need to see B.S.A.A. destroyed-- they served a unique purpose, just as the S.T.A.R.S. had. Results did not happen in a vacuum.

Which was where Jill fit into his picture. Jill and her antibodies. Jill and the only true, natural, organic synthesis of the T-virus into a human host-- aside from himself, but to a uniquely different end. Jill's body had succeeded where years of his staged attempts had failed, and had succeeded in direct relation to the ongoing counter-measuring that the B.S.A.A. was attempting. If Jill had died in the Arklay Mountains she would have been a piece of data. If she had turned her back on his work she might be just another human living a cheap, meaningless existence. She hadn't done either of those things, however. She had persevered and in persevering, become a perfect, singular specimen of the very something that she was fighting against. A new step on the chain of evolution. And she could thank her morals.

Life was fantastic. Complex. Completely serving of it's own ends-- which was why Wesker had allied with that process. All he was doing was taking the chaos theory of natural evolution and life and speeding it up. Fighting against him was, ultimately, useless.

Proving that fact was that he was here. Alive. With Jill. And with each passing moment she was opening his bonds. She had no power in the equation. She never had.

When the door blew inward, Wesker closed his eyes. Without the hum and prick of electricity it was going to be hard to clear the fog back; Jill's footsteps had been an abberation in the the pattern. The drugs were still in his system. He breathed quietly and felt the loosing pressure of the cuffs; Jill was, after all, commendably intelligent when she wasn't being led around by her internal moral compass-- the locks were pried open but the cuffs themselves left closed, light against his skin. The soldiers-- and they were, he could tell by the commanding beat of their feet-- would have noticed. They were paid to notice danger. Wesker was quiet and still, just another experiment; it was easy enough. He'd started to drift into memories of another facility, always the same shuffle of feet what Bill must have heard as Umbrella came, dark against sterile white halls, for his work...

Done.

The work, no. The work was never done.

One man, close enough that the heat of his body was there, and Wesker's arms rose. The cuffs fell back with the soft clack of leather and metal hinges. The scream of his shoulders-- stiff from lack of movement, stiff from fighting his bonds, stiff from death-- was louder than the sound of those cufffs. But over the hum of machinery the only sound was the sharp snap of the soldier's neck breaking.

It was good that Jill hit the floor. The first man slumped in a puddle next to her, his gun loud on the tiles when it fell from lifeless fingers, as Wesker exploded up and sent the table careening back over her and her dead friend and into shelves that rained fragile glass samples. Two more men, guns forward, rounded a bank of machines and froze with the sudden cacophony of noise and motion. Wesker's body was nothing but a red haze of pain but it made him feel alive in a way he hadn't felt since Africa. Skin that had ripped with the exiting tug of tape and IV needles bled, dripped across the floor, was lost in the deluge. He stumbled as his body failed to respond perfectly to his command and the report of a bullet near his head was deafening but he was already moving on, up, wrapping fingers around the metal warmed by the spark of gunpowder and death denied. The gun was plied against conventional expectations and broke teeth and cartilage as it was smashed into the face of its owner. The second man was turning in response to the spray of blood but he was already too late. Wesker's foot forced his knee backward at an angle that nature never intended. The scream never left his throat as enough force was applied from a hand to completely cave in his larynx. Less than seven seconds. One dead, two more struggling silently toward that blackness at Wesker's feet.

He could hear others, coming.

He turned back to tell Jill to stay-- he would protect his investment, his work, the only sample he had left-- but lost his balance. A nearby piece of equipment saved him from collapsing and Wesker hauled a heavy breath against the sudden vertigo.

would that make them zombie deerz? ...or Uroboros deerz?

Jill had been half-crabwalking her way across the tile with her free hand, but she had the sense to go completely flat when she caught the blur of Wesker's movement, a reflex that saved her a broken nose, at the very least, as the table all but skimmed over her head.

An instant later she was already moving, instinct and habit mixing with the fact that she wasn't content to just cower in a corner and let Wesker do anything for her, or even vaguely in her favor; she rolled onto her side, up into a crouch, and pulled the AK-47 from the dead man's fingers. She preferred small models, preferably SMGs when possible, but she could use an assault rifle all the same. She checked the magazine, slipped the strap over her head to hang the weapon across her body, looked up--

--and the other men were already on the floor, judging by the sounds -- or lack thereof, rather. Jill only sent Wesker a flat glance as he wavered, her hands searching the corpse's belt and pockets; all that turned up were a box of cigarettes, an extra clip, and a radio, the last two of which she took and shoved into her own pockets as she stood.

The good news was that she was -- they were? -- situated in an advantageous position, all things considered: the heavy counters provided decent cover and a clear shot at the door, so she -- they -- could potentially hold the position, at least until the ranks thinned enough to move into the hall.

Setting her elbows on the countertop, the assault rifle primed and ready in her hands and aiming for the entrance, Jill sent Wesker another glance, this one not making it all the way over.

"Give me a heads-up if you start to pass out," she said flatly. Only, of course, so she would know if she needed to shift strategy.

uroboros deerz. the perfect deerz.

His laugh to her assertion was nearly silent, and without any humor at all. Wesker closed his eyes for a moment and listened to the men coming on, the sharp cock of Jill's new gun, the skirl of blood against his ears. The fog made the black behind his eyes a miasma and for a moment Wesker found himself fighting nausea. Such a human, fragile response, angered him-- but it also made him finally take stock of himself, or at least as much as his present state would allow.

He was not a quick as he had been. Those men should have been dead before they could pull a trigger. His arm... was still bleeding. Sluggishly, but there was no denying the soft patter of blood on the floor beneath the crook of his elbow. What had they done to him? That they had saved him was inconsequential and Wesker refused to believe that he couldn't have found a way out of the crash himself. That he remembered nothing of it-- that made no difference. The test they'd run, he wanted to know. What they'd taken out, what they'd put in.

First thing was first. The pings of bullets off of metal cabinetry drew attention and begged to be quieted so that he could think. Red handprints were left on cream plastic when Wesker stood. He breathed. "If you try to shoot me in the back after all this," he said as he took a step forward over one of the dead men, "I will be very displeased."

.....I'm picturing Bambi with Wesker!eyes

A brief round of her bullets answered the new assault, taking down two more soldiers in a more conventional mean than that which Wesker had used. In the pause after, Jill exhaled sharply through her nose -- not quite a snort, but enough to be dismissive. It was just as humorless as Wesker's laugh. "Never even crossed my mind." The deadpan remark was a quiet one, but she didn't care whether he heard it or not.

It's not like you won't do the same, first chance you get. Only he wouldn't be so literal.

"We're sitting targets here," she went on, eyes fixed on the door. "We need to clear this group and move, ASAP." Before they became organized, before more showed up and overwhelmed them with sheer numbers alone. She wasn't telling Wesker anything he didn't already know, she figured, but he obviously wasn't at one hundred percent, which meant this wasn't going to be as simple as if he were.

Memories of the slaughtered personnel at Spencer's estate flashed briefly across her mind, and for an instant Jill wondered if it wasn't better to have him powered down some, circumstances aside.

More footsteps drew closer, louder, and another two men rounded the corner. Jill pulled the trigger half a second before they stepped into view, peppering one in a cloud of crimson that immediately put him down. His partner leapt back, but not before taking a couple shots in the shoulder with a cry.

Ultimately, people were still people in Jill's eyes. Even the lowest, most despicable criminal was still human, a man or woman with a life that could be ended as quickly and easily as any other. Bad decisions made them susceptible to the law, and the law made them susceptible to neutralization when push came to shove: for all the B.O.W.s Jill had destroyed and wiped out, she also had her share of human deaths on her hands -- willing or otherwise -- and one thing she'd quickly learned was that it wasn't wasy, never would be for her, even if reflex had made her lethal trigger finger faster.

The things she'd been made to do in Africa had left more than their share of scars, but in the end that experience hadn't tilted her already solid morals one way or the other. After Chris and Sheva had freed her and Josh had found her, Jill hadn't hesitated in raising a hand against the Majini mobs. It was the basic, simple, founding rule of the jungle: kill or be killed.

Now was no different. An enemy trying to kill her was just that. Necessary evils, as any soldier or person in law enforcement could testify -- but considering who she'd just set loose on the world, it seemed today was all about crossing boundaries.

Jill didn't like taking the lives of these men she didn't know -- but she wouldn't hesitate to do it, either.

Suddenly there was a burst of blind fire from the right side of the doorway and she ducked, bullets chipping at countertops around her and glass behind her. Without pausing, she leaned around the counter's side, staying low, and quickly took aim at the space of plaster between her and the gunman, and fired her own small burst. Bullets tore through the wall like it was paper; the blind fire ceased.

Edited at 2012-04-03 07:27 pm (UTC)

the hunted hunting the hunters

Death was necessary. It was a means of culling the strong from the weak-- on any battlefield. Economics. Politics. War. Genetics. Being born gave no one inalienable rights to survive; Wesker couldn't understand how those people who fought for human rights could be so blind to the larger picture: overpopulation and limited resources on an ever-widening scale of disparity until the only option left-- death-- was no option at all. In the end the strong would still inherent the world... but the world would have nothing left and then, extinction. It was a paradigm that was not only viable but impossible to subvert on humanity's current course. With humanity's current cause.

Fools. None of them with the ability to look past their own small scope. Wesker watched Jill for a moment, watched her react. It was all she and the rest of them were. Reactionaries to a blind cause.

His lips pulled into a sneer. He had given her perfection and she had fought it tooth and nail. He had allowed her access to his new world and she had shed it as soon as she was able. "Listen to you," he murmured to himself, putting a shoulder to a shelving unit as the spray of bullets renewed, "and here I remember the days when you needed a man to save you."

Not that he wasn't doing that right now.

Wesker didn't wait for her response-- he dodged out from behind cover, away from Jill's line of fire... he didn't need to give her any easy excuses, after all. His footing wasn't as precise as it could have been but the adrenaline was clearing his head for the moment; he'd have to know the drugs they'd put in him to know if his raised metabolism would burn them away as well as the symptoms. Considering that he still felt off-balance, he would bet that it was unfortunately not going to be the case.

Coming up behind a man resulted in a dislocated shoulder and a scream that was cut off as Wesker turned his temporary shield into a round of bullets. He threw the man's dead weight into his neighbor and then moved in to crush his throat with a heel as he hit the ground. The man gasped and choked but Wesker was already turning away to the next fight. Jill might have only killed to avoid being killed, but Wesker thought it simply more prudent to end the threat entirely. He left no one breathing in his wake. The soldier that Jill had wounded was taken off guard, his head cracked loudly against a wall.

Wesker was gauging his strength.

The only reaction of Jill's was a slight narrowing of her eyes, her expression darkening slightly -- but she didn't look over, didn't try to respond, only moved to her feet again to resume her place behind the counter. In a matter of a few chaotic seconds, the lab had been considerably decimated: glass, wood, and tools littered the overturned tables and things, machinery had been caught in the crossfire and now stood sparking. A small fire had caught near one of them, slowly feeding off a curtain quarantining some small area in the back.

While Wesker went at it, she didn't fire; she wouldn't have minded hitting him, accidentally or no, but it was a reason to save bullets, for one, and considering how fast he still was, there didn't need to be anymore tension between them than was necessary.

Of course, any and all existing tension was solely on her part.

As the enemy number declined -- all except one -- Jill moved quickly but carefully, following but making sure to stay near potential cover if something went down. Nothing did, of course; any hopes that Zhizn had managed to screw up something permanent in Wesker's biochemistry were swiftly fading. Even if he wasn't the exact blur that he had been in the past, he was still plenty fast enough, well beyond anything Jill could handle by herself, once it came down to it.

Once. Not if.

When she and Wesker seemed to be the only two still breathing in the immediate proximity, she nonetheless put her back to the wall beside the door, scanning the hall before moving into it. Crimson stains and dark corpses now lined the otherwise pristine floors and walls, things she took in with the lightest of frowns. The next glance she sent Wesker was a dark one, but then again, if she ever managed to look at him and not let some emotion show...

...well. She'd either be dead or not herself.

Suddenly, belatedly -- although in an instant of hindsight, it couldn't have been more than five minutes since she first entered the lab -- an alarm sounded, loud and shrill enough to make her wince briefly even as her head immediately twitched towards the source, tension again reflexively rippling through her shoulders and back before she relaxed some.

"I only saw one way out of the labs," she called over the wail, reluctantly taking a few steps closer to make sure she was heard. "I guess you don't--"

Without warning, Jill was suddenly hauled backwards, meeting the solid wall at her back with a nearly blinding collision between it and her skull. She hit the floor long before the sounds or sights registered, and even then she wasn't sure what had happened -- she was, for a crucial couple seconds, effectively stunned, for some reason unable to put thoughts and the immediate present together. Memory had to make up for it, equating the thundering rumble, the flash of red and white, the wave of heat over her skin with an explosion -- from back down the hall, judging from the way she'd been thrown, and the same backup thought that told her that much also abruptly remembered the laboratory: shot to hell and back, maybe something combustible had caught?

She would have cursed, but that would have made her head vibrate, and it already hurt enough as it was -- the alarm was making sure of that. Up ahead, what had been the wall to that one laboratory was -- mostly gone, electric wires hanging loose and sparking from between the ragged, singed plaster. The labs beside it and across from it had taken damage, doors, windows, and parts of their walls blown clean off. Fortunately, Jill didn't see any flames besides those still flickering from the main lab -- no immediate chain reaction, at least.

How would he possibly know the way out?

It was the question he hadn't asked her earlier, deigning not to answer such an idiotic inquiry at all. Even he, for all his intellect, skill and power, was not psychic.

It seemed that he was never going to get the chance to remind Jill that he was not the absolute monster that she very obviously gave him the credit of being; the world spun out from under his feet and pain flared outward from his shoulder and back, hot and bright enough, that for a moment his consciousness flagged entirely and the world slipped into rocking tones of grey and black. A high-pitched whine trilled in his ears.

Despite his intent to get a pair of pants from one of the downed soldiers, he'd followed Jill into the hallway to make the obvious comment that the alarm meant that the main doors would be locked down. In retrospect he'd think that following her had saved something of his life-- as annoyingly fragile as it seemed to be at the moment-- but of course she deserved no credit for the decision he made. After all, she had been helping to blow the fragile and combustible items in the lab to hell and back.

Wesker blinked into the sliding haze of his vision and found floor under his cheek. His fingers. Smoke gathered in his lungs and was expelled with thick coughs that hurt enough to threaten another blackout. Sparks snapped near his face and the ozone sizzle of the live electricity made him move. His back was a blaze of pain as he climbed the nearest wall to get him to his feet. His back, the back of his thighs. He was snarling without realizing it, teeth locked and bared.

Something seeping down his back. Touching was... unadvised after the first shock of pain under fingertips that came away red. Wesker leaned against the wall. Shouts echoed down the hallway.

Jill shook her ringing head, blinked the dizziness from her eyes, and looked down. No burns that she could see, although the skin on her face and arms felt raw; hot air, it seemed, was all she'd caught, although there was a shallow cut below her left wrist, enough to barely bleed through her two sleeves.

She looked up next, past bodies and debris -- to Wesker, who was... standing.

Damn.

Moving unsteadily to her feet, Jill readied the assault rifle in her hands again as she moved up the hall, towards him, forcing away the lingering shakiness in her limbs. She, too, heard the voices, and faced their direction with only that same frown from before. How much worse could it get?

"You look like shit," she commented apathetically. It wasn't any of her concern whether he did, either -- if he ended up needing support, he could give it to himself for all she cared. She was about to ask him how well he could still move, if at all, but another high sound cut her off -- and made her heart skip.

Jill had already placed the source by the time it showed itself a second later: through the remains of one of the nearby rooms, a shambling movement scurried quickly across the ceiling and into the hall. A Licker, as big around as Jill was, at least, and packing much more muscle on its misshapen limbs, paused and sniffed the thick air. She didn't move, but a second followed the first down on the floor, turning an equally blind head in her and Wesker's direction.

It had gotten worse.

Another cry further back in the room, and she could only imagine how many there were total -- but rather than guessing, she took a slow step backward, gun ready but still silent--

--right as the shouts grew louder, and the first of the approaching group rounded the corner nearest the Lickers.

The B.O.W.s wasted no time: moving on sound, no less, the one on the floor instantly threw itself at the men in a sailing leap, catching two and knocking them to the floor. Panicked screams, random gunfire that missed its target or hit comrades -- the second Licker joined, and all Hell broke loose at the head of the hall.

Jill shot Wesker a look even as she backstepped into the nearest intact doorway -- after a quick glance showed her a large supply closet, a walk-in freezer at the other end -- in case the slaughtering yards away wasn't an effective enough distraction. She didn't ask if he had any better ideas, but she was open to suggestions, which was what the look was for.

"Death will have that effect on a person," Wesker murmured without emotion. It wasn't to remind her that he'd died-- but that he was still standing after the fact. He leaned on the wall with one hand, taking in the pain. It was lingering, which was unusual. His unbraced arm was lifted... the tear in the skin from the IV was red but closed.

Small favors.

Wesker had opened his mouth to speak when he heard the same thing that Jill did-- and knew as instantly as she did what was causing it. He watched the first Licker crawl out of the sparking debris, and then the second. He didn't have the same reaction Jill would; the Lickers were considerable, deadly, but they still posed little threat to him the way he was now. Ah, well. Not in peak condition. Perhaps caution, then.

He watched the slaughter for a moment after Jill had backed into a doorway behind them. They really were outstanding predators, perhaps one of his favorite outcomes. Wesker turned and, dropping his hand from the wall, followed her-- one eye still on the fight down the hall. "If they are trying to repeat Umbrella's successes-- with whatever knowledge they've gotten from my body," there had been no marking of time, who knew how long they'd had with the HCF proteins that had helped the virus blend to his DNA, "then we might have a problem."

Jill was scanning the shelves inside the small room, but as expected, there was nothing immediately useful. Laboratory supplies, some chemicals, the latter of which seemed to be primarily for medical care. It wasn't like she'd been hoping for an armory, but all the same, there was a brief flash of disappointment.

"We don't know the extent of their research, or how much they might have bought off the black market," Jill replied without looking back at him. "They haven't been tied to any kind of B.O.W. that we haven't already seen, but..." That didn't mean they couldn't be packing something considerably more dangerous than Lickers, Hunters, and the average zombie. Especially if they'd had access to Wesker all this time.

The unmistakable sounds of claws on tile, the wet tearing of flesh, and cries -- both Licker and human -- continued outside, but she did her best to ignore them, unless they drew any closer. These people had known the kinds of dangers they were dealing with, had been fine with unleashing those same monsters on innocent people; if that backfired on them, it wasn't Jill's responsibility to pull them out of it. Especially not when they'd return any help with a bullet to her head, anyway.

"These are the first B.O.W.s I've seen in this compound," she went on, glancing at Wesker again -- couldn't he find some freaking pants already? -- with a serious look. "So I don't know what to expect. For now, it looks like we'll have no choice but to push through to the head of the hall -- and hope we can get through any lock-down mechanisms that have been triggered." They had no alternate route that she knew of, no explosives, and if the Licker population was too large to stand around and mow down, they wouldn't have time to search the soldiers' remains for any keys or whatnot. Neither could they just stand around and hope more soldiers would enter, especially if they were more aware of the chaos that had broken out down here.

"I might be able to hack through it," she considered after a moment, "but that would take time, and we'd still have enemies in front and behind us." Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Either way, how well can you move, and how many do you think you can handle at once? Lickers and soldiers."

Please, Jill, point him to the nearest wardrobe. Or perhaps he should try to venture back into the room that she helped destroy to ply some trousers from a burned shell of a corpse?

"Bullets have to be taken into consideration," Wesker said, standing at the door's edge and watching the quickly downspiraling fight instead of paying attention to Jill's condescending looks. "I may be able to move past them as I am, but you cannot. Hacking a door will leave you a still target." Which he wouldn't defend any more actively than he had to in order to survive alongside her. "The Lickers will pose... less of a challenge." They were smart but he knew them well enough. They went for blood, for body heat. Easily distracted.

Wesker finally turned to look at his brunette companion. His back was still a bloody mess but the blood already looked old, dark, congealing. Underneath raw skin was forming. His balance was off, grew worse as he stood and gave his sympathetic nervous system time to rev down, but it was combatable. "I can handle a considerable amount of obstacles right now.

Anything short of a Tyrant, I suppose."

His thin lips curled into a sneer of a laugh that wasn't voiced.

Considering that, Jill was silent for a couple tense beats. Wesker gave her a bit more flexibility than she would have had with anyone else, there was no denying that -- but the complete lack of trust between them was enough to set back that advantage.

Still, options were short and time wasn't on her side.

"If you go first, I can follow," she offered finally, heavily. "Assuming any survivors notice, you should be the primary threat and draw most of the fire. If you can deal with it like you say, you should be able to neutralize anyone left."

A pause as she listened to the cries and sounds outside. "Lickers are easier to work around. I'll need ten seconds, fifteen max to get through, unless Zhizn has thrown a technological wrench into the system." Judging by the security at the front entrance, Jill doubted it.

She regarded Wesker again, now less anger about the look and more controlled consideration as the situation continued to weigh down on her, reorganizing her priorities. Distrust was written in every area of her expression and body language, but there was an inner competition of judgment going on, regardless.

"...I'm not expecting you to watch my back," she told him stiffly. "I won't ask, and I wouldn't trust you, anyway. But I'll need those ten seconds, as well as you're able. We both will."

It was the closest she'd come to asking him for anything -- and the reminder that his way out was potentially riding on her as well was no accident on her part.

Jill's body language was regarded and immediately forgotten: nothing less than what he would have expected of her and he had more pressing matters to attend to than her paranoia. That Jill Valentine didn't trust him rated here nor there on his list of things to give a shit about.

We both will.

It was that press of her assumed dominance of the situation that finally turned Wesker fully toward his ex and once again temporary companion. Through the swim of his vision his body straightened at the same time he seemed to leer toward her without doing anything at all-- but his full height was intimidating, his body bare but for the smears of blood and death. His focus was her for that moment-- only her.

"We both need nothing," he said quietly. "You need me to get out of this place-- if I snapped your neck right here, Jill, do you think I wouldn't find my way free? Do you honestly think that these idiots could subdue me?" Wesker's smile was a menacing promise of destruction.

Jill caught and translated his poise as easily as he did hers -- that meant-to-be-intimidating, alpha male bullshit that she was content to let roll off her shoulders like water. It was nothing new, even if there was simply more power to back it up in Wesker's case.

She didn't back away, didn't blink, but there was that slight narrowing of her eyes again, and some of her more subtle muscles shifted just so, more a poise of return challenge than any fight-or-flight response.

"What I think," she said slowly, pronouncing each word as clearly as if she were dealing with either a child or a particularly irksome upstart of a subordinate, "is that you could have killed me back in the lab as easily as you killed the others. You didn't."

Her hand gripped her hip, loosened, and then she drummed her fingers once. "I know you like to think you're invincible, but a year and a half's a long time for them to do things to you," she pointed out calmly. "You don't know what they did, exactly how it's affected you, or how long it'll last. You can obviously take damage, but you admitted yourself that you're not up to par."

Jill held his eyes, subduing the growing sense of disgust that came with looking at his face. "Those are a lot of risks to take, Wesker, and I'm sure you're cocky enough to think you can plow your way out of here, no problem. But that doesn't change the fact--" Her eyes hardened, a familiar but uncharacteristic blankness to them. "--that I'm still standing."

Whether it was because he thought he could use her to better his chances, or because he was thinking ahead to after he got out -- either way, he hadn't killed her immediately. That meant, for the moment, that he wanted her alive; Jill wouldn't swear by the notion, not when he could replicate her valuable genes as easily as he could work alongside her, but the odds were already stacked against her enough for her to bank on the chance.

"We're wasting time," she went on in the same stiff tone, "so either get over your superiority complex and work with me here, or we can part ways now."

Of course, if Wesker opted for the latter option, that wouldn't bode well for her, as she sincerely doubted he'd let her walk out of this room.

Warring emotions in the wake of her little speech saved Jill from violence. His initial instinct to hurt her was overrun by curiousity first-- her physical response made lips peel back from teeth in the start of a smile-- and then shock.

A year and a half?

The new knowledge quieted him, almost withdrew his thoughts from the conversation entirely. Jill went on but Wesker was only listening with a half an ear. Could he have possibly been in some suspended state of consciousness for that long? It seemed unlikely. Which meant that Jill was lying or there was an another answer. Unfortunately, Jill was more than likely to use the truth both as shield and weapon than resort to lies, even in front of him. Annoying. Which left the obvious fact-- his body had been more or less shut-down for an extended amount of time in order to heal. Or be healed. The longer the time the longer the healing...

Death seemed a probable conclusion. Not an enjoyable one, but the most likely out of a limited pool.

"While I give you credit for your annoying tenacity," Wesker murmured, pinching the bridge of his nose and trying to gather his focus and his thoughts, "I doubt you'd make it past the first corner without my help." His jaw jumped as he clenched his teeth. "But perhaps you're right about some things."

She was, after all, still standing.

He started to turn-- to lead the charge, so to speak-- but stopped with his hand on the doorframe. His eyes stayed forward to red-splashed tiles but he spoke back to her. "Your body still reacts so quickly, Jill. A year and a half, you said?"

And then he was moving.

That Wesker was being cooperative, that she'd gotten him to at least lower his hackles -- Jill didn't take either as any sort of personal victory. It was just one more challenge she'd passed for the moment, and with that done it was the next issue on the list.

Business, survival, not personal -- whatever she called it, it was the same until terrorists and B.O.W.s weren't breathing down her neck.

At his final remark, though, Jill's next step came up short and she half-jerked to a stop. Whatever vague, temporary shadow of something like tolerance that the situation had been beginning to build up in her mind immediately pitched and nearly shattered -- and all it took were those few simple, seemingly unassuming words.

Her lips parted slightly, startled, and she had to refrain from spitting any of the venom building up on her tongue.

Not now. Not now.

Not ever, if she could help it, but--

No. No time to consider it now. It took her only a second to snap out of it, and by then Wesker had moved on. Readjusting her AK, Jill moved to the wall beside the door, listened, leaned around -- and then followed, moving as quickly and quietly as possible, staying low while keeping her balance and then some. Her goal was the door; unless Wesker was overwhelmed or something slipped past him, she was determined not to give herself away before then.

He heard the shuffle-halt of her steps and smiled as he walked away. So she had noticed it, too.

The Lickers didn't generally eat much of their prey-- their stomachs were relatively small compared to their capacity for violence. They were all thought, in a perfected way. It was why they'd had to use humans; it was much harder to build an animal that sought violence for violence's sake. The apes, the dogs, they had all been driven by baser instincts, chemicals to heighten aggression via territorial and alpha urges. Not the Lickers. The Lickers sought violence. It was rather beautiful poetic though Wesker was sure that none of his underlings in the S.T.A.R.S. had appreciated the irony of the human mind.

By the time he'd reached the far corner of the hallway the men-- what was left of them-- had been shredded. His bare feet squelched over the blood on the tiled floor and the Lickers, milling now, tongues flicking through cooling red puddles, hissed and raised their blind heads.

Wesker smiled. He'd get no enjoyment out of killing them, but he was happy enough to destroy proof of the work that had been stolen from him.

The first Licker sprang.

New blood was added to the walls and the high squeals of death echoed sharply. Wesker wasn't without injury; the creatures were just too perfected as weapons and he not as balanced as he could have been. But the eventual outcome of the fight was clear from the beginning. The scales would not tip out of Wesker's favor.

He relished the fight. The movement. The clarity.

Jill hung back as far and long as she was able, but once the second round of bloodshed started, she picked up her pace. She watched the skirmish in the corner of her eye, her attention divided between Wesker and his opponents, any Lickers that hadn't yet engaged him, and the surrounding doorways -- and tried her best to ignore Wesker's movements, the ease with which he made them, even if he wasn't at his best. Just another reminder of what she'd done to save her own skin.

As she went, she used every loud noise she could -- the sounds of strikes landing, Lickers shrieking, blood splattering, sinewy flesh smacking against the tile -- to mask her footsteps, but there was relatively little need. Lickers weren't the smartest B.O.W. around, and as long as there was life to destroy and sounds to lead them to it, that would be their focus. Unless Jill fired off a round or landed on top of one of them, she was probably safe.

She sped up. At first, she tried to avoid any blood on the floor, not wanting to track the smell with her -- but it was soon impossible. The Lickers had made a literal bloodbath of the soldiers, and Wesker's progress certainly wasn't helping. So she kept going, having to pause here and there as a Licker scrambled across her path, or step around some mutilated mound of flesh or bone or whatever was left of the terrorists; at one point she slipped sharply on a particularly thick puddle of scarlet, but recovered her balance in a fraction of a second and kept going. As focused as she was, the motion was all but unconscious and she didn't even loosen her grip on her gun.

At the door, Jill immediately located the security panel and crouched beside it, letting her gun hang at her side and fishing in her hip pack for the screwdriver. As predicted, the entryway was locked down tight, bars twice the size of her bicep holding the door in place on top of whatever internal locks it had. Another glance over her shoulder, and then she set to work -- she hadn't mentioned that she needed another ten seconds max to get the plate off before she could actually hack the system, but it was a moot point now. Wesker was holding up his end of the process.

She set the metal cover aside silently but swiftly, shifting in place as she reached into the vaguely organized mess of wires. Like she'd predicted, it was nothing terribly complicated -- more or less a replica of the one she'd gotten through at the entrance, so hopefully the whole compound would be wired on the same basic set-up. It would definitely make her life easier.

[2/2] I like fight scenes, okay ;_;

Nine seconds, it turned out, was all she needed. There was a low, confirming beep from the panel -- making her look towards the Lickers again, just in case, but nothing was headed her way -- and the door hummed, clicked, and vibrated as the locks began to slide back. Standing, Jill back-stepped quickly towards the nearest obliterated doorway, wanting a direction to move in if any Lickers caught on.

Okay. Now we hope there's not a whole damn army waiting on the other side. She glanced over her shoulder, habitually checking the room she'd backed partway into for any surprises -- and not a second too soon.

The movement was quick, but not so much that she couldn't react by turning around -- but that was all she could do, aside from giving a startled cry, and in the next instant she hit the stained tile hard beneath the weight on top of her. The smell of blood and bile and other fluids hit her even harder, nearly overwhelming at this level, but her focus was on the Licker pinning her down and the way it was already rearing back, claws raised to tear her apart--

Again, purely on reflex, Jill moved -- she still had the screwdriver in her left hand, and she quickly plunged it as hard and deep as she could manage into that exposed heart beating on the Licker's chest. It screamed, bent further back, flailed, and hot blood spurted onto the front of her coat -- but Jill kept digging, kept wrenching, until there was a telling pop of something beneath the screwdriver's head. The Licker reeled, giving her just enough room, and Jill jerked a leg up between them in a motion of above average flexibility, twisting her hips sharply to clip the underside of the B.O.W.'s chin with a hard heel. It was enough, and the Licker flopped off of her with a dying hiss, its heart still leaking blood beneath it.

It all happened in less than six seconds, but her adrenaline would never know it. Jill stood, panting slightly -- the door was almost unlocked. She shot a look behind her, figuring her scuffle had already given her away to any Lickers that might still be living.

"Wesker!"

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