Ch 0: It starts with an ending...

It was a dark and stormy night.

A nurse stood at the window, and, closing the blinds, walked over to the figure lying on the hospital bed. An empty warehouse was not ideal for a patient in any hospital, but the two people in that room were not normal in the slightest.

Alex Mercer, the monster of Manhattan, was dying. After watching a duplicate of himself lay waste to the city, he had infected James Heller with a variant of his own virus, setting the scene for the solider to destroy 'him'. The plan had worked out well, and Heller had beaten back the infection in Manhattan... But it had changed.

Mercer gave a few others the same sorts of abilities, and set them loose on the rest of the world, his agents devouring the infection wherever it had popped up, and over time, BlackLight, and similar organizations had disappeared.

Heller, on the other hand, realizing that Mercer was still alive, began tracking down and killing his agents, and gained more power in the process. Eventually he found Alex's sister, Dana, and used her to blackmail Mercer into a one-on-one fight, in the city where the two of them would be at the greatest weakness.

Seattle, WA, the city of rain.

John, one of the survivors of Heller's hunt, watched Heller, holding Dana, now old, and her husband, by their necks, over the edge of the space needle, while Alex Mercer pleaded with Heller to let them go.

John, Mirriam, and Wesley, the three remaining 'children' of Mercer, had chosen that moment to act, and in a few moments of action, Wesley was grappling with Heller, and the other two had grabbed Dana and her husband.

Heller, yelling about how evil they all were, shot spiked out of himself in every direction, impaling Wesley, and, as Dana and her husband watched, liquified and absorbed Wesley.

Mercer, shouted at his 'children' to run, attacked Heller, snarling like a rabid animal, claws, spikes, and tendrils forming and attacking as fast as the eye could see.
John, carrying Dana, nodded to their creator/mentor, and jumped away, bringing them down to ground level in a moment, and hailing a taxi for the elderly couple.

The fight took less than a minute, and Alex, victorious, landed behind them as the taxi pulled up.

Dana and her husband both embraced Alex, before he began to cry. John and Mirriam watched as they said their goodbyes, and Alex walked over to the children of his creation.

"I wish to die."

Mirriam, the older of the two, was the first to speak up. "How?"

Mercer looked at the two who had been with him for more then 50 years, and pushed back his hood. "I will not eat again, and when I die, one of you will consume me."

That had been nearly 40 years ago. Mirriam, being infatuated with her creator since she had been gifted with the mercer virus, had stayed by his side for 39 of those years, dying before her creator, and had been his lover for the time they had shared.

John mentally 'pulled' his nurse disguise off, and feeling relief as the female shape shifted back into his more familiar male shape. He pulled up a stool, and sat by the bedside of his creator, wearing the same design of jacket and hood that Mercer had worn back when the two had met, all those years ago.

Mercer suddenly let out a breath, and sat up."... Ah. Sorry John. It's getting harder and harder to stay awake now. Are you sure you want to stay?" He asked, sounding healthy as ever. Only other infected could tell if one of their ranks was dying, and John knew without the shadow of a doubt that his creator, and one of his best friends, was dying. "I remember how badly Dana's death hit you... And how much you cried at Mirriam's."

"It's alright Alex. I am just sad that I am the last one left." John tried to keep the tears out of his voice, and was failing miserably. "I will stay here until the end. I owe you that much."

Alex smiled, and pushed his hood back again. "Can't this thing stay down for one nap? I hate having it reform around my head every time I sleep." He was jovial, joking almost, but John heard the exhaustion in his voice.

Alex had not changed since the events of the Prototype Redlight, as historians had come to call the event, and only recently had begun to show signs of aging, due to his lack of energy from feeding, the virus was dying at an alarming rate.

John sniffed. "It won't be trouble long, Alex. Remember how quick it was for Mirriam?"

Alex rolled his eyes, and his hood began to unravel. "How can I forget."

John looked down at Mercer's hands, noting how the tips of his fingers were beginning to lose color, as the virus absorbed everything it could to power itself, and ran out of fuel.

Alex looked at John, and put the discoloring hand on his friend's shoulder. "It will be alright. I chose my true children well after Heller, and I leave the decision of what you do to you." He grinned, his arm having lost all color, becoming a sterile white. "You remember where I want my grave?"

"Of course. " John was no longer crying, but he still felt sorrow that Alex had to leave. "Are you sure you need to go? We may have FTL in a few short years, if the archeologists on Mars understand the ruins properly, and then there will be a galaxy to see!"

Alex placed his arm on the sheets, stiffly, as the rapid death continued up his arm. "I chose this, John. You should go see that new galaxy, maybe even find others to carry on the virus... As long as you don't loose another Manhattan on the world, I will always be proud of you."

The discoloration was hitting his main jacket and shirt now, and his hands had stopped moving altogether. "Promise me this, John," Alex sounded tired." That you will keep the memories alive, and prevent those horrible events from happening again. Prevent humanity from going extinct."

John raised an eyebrow. "Should I do the same for all the alien species we come across?" His tone of voice was humorous, but with the ruins on Mars, well, it was not a sure thing anymore.

Alex closed his eyes. The discoloration marking the true death of the virus continued up his torso, and was at his shoulders. His voice had begun to suffer, with his lungs beginning to seize up (he may not have needed to breathe, but he needed them to talk). "Yes. Protect the intelligent species from extinction- god knows the humans needed me to interfere." His head began to discolor, black hair turning white, skin turning colorless, and he smiled.

"Goodbye, John. I am at peace."

With the last word, he stopped moving, becoming a stark statue of himself, sitting on the hospital bed.

John began to cry, and then stopped himself. That is not the way Alex. Mercer asked to be mourned, and that is not how he would mourn his friend, creator, and mentor. He felt a tendril, almost like an afterthought, snake from his shoulder to the white corpse, and spread over the surface, absorbing- no, consuming it, and after a moment, the bed was empty.

John felt the new knowledge his mentor had left him, imbedded in the pattern of microscopic, still-living nodules in the corpse. Memories, fond ones, of Dana, and dozens of shapes were remembered, but John only felt sorrow. He walked out of the building, and, still crying, began to run.

After a couple hours of running, at over 100km/hr, he had covered the majority of the United States, and came up on Manhattan island, leaping over the signs warning people of radioactive contamination, he leapt onto the only bridge intact enough to allow transportation to and from the island.

Water and beings like himself, anyone infected with the Mercer virus, did not really mix.

He ran through the destroyed city, grabbing cars, and other large pieces of metal, before coming upon a single, almost untouched hill, in the middle of the city. That was where Alex Mercer, John, and Mirriam had buried Dana and her husband, near the memorial that had been erected to the near-million dead that two zombie outbreaks had caused. After Mirriam's death, Alex and John had planted a piece of steel, about the same size as a small gravestone, taken from part of the battleship that had been blasted ashore by the nuke that had signified the end of the first outbreak, and had etched her face, and name into it.

John took the pieces he had collected on his run through the city, and began sorting them, and eventually, found a piece, similar in size to a gravestone, and sat down, holding it while his hands morphed into dark, organic metal claws.

He waited a moment, then began to carve an image of Alex's face into the steel with a single finger. After he was done, John nodded, and began to write beneath the etching.

Monster, brother, friend, creator, and teacher.
He will be remembered until the end of time.
Dixit ad mortem, sive mortalities est.

He placed the piece down, next to Mirriam's, and then stood up. After throwing the remaining scrap metal a good thousand yards, he stood over their graves, and, letting his arms return to a human form, cried for Mercer and his family.

End of chapter 0.