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?"

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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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