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.


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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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.


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