Dr. Luis Sera sat in a dimly lit room, clutching his brow with one hand and drumming his fingers on the splintered wooden table with the other. A computer hummed quietly on the table in front of him, trailing numerous thick cords that snaked away into the dark corners of the small, stone-walled room. Some were connected to large, blocky technical components that most people would not be able to identify. His area of expertise may have been biology, but he knew his way around a computer. Well enough to ensure no one in the compound would be able to track his recent activity, at least. If anyone were to discover that he had been contacting an old colleague from Madrid, a fellow biologist by the name of Carlos Torres, things would not go well for him.
Of course, it seemed that his attempts at establishing contact had failed. He had set up a secure email and sent his friend all the information he'd been able to risk over the web. He'd included instructions on precisely how to contact him – particularly the time of day, his windows of opportunity were very short – but so far, no dice. His friend had not responded to his call of alarm.
Luis was fairly sure it was not from lack of interest. He'd wager that news of a mind-controlling parasite in the hands of a cult with ambitions of global domination was bound to be more interesting than anything Carlos had on his plate (he'd met the mycologist at a seminar on Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. They'd bonded over a shared interest of the fascinating little organism, but ordinarily the man was more likely to be studying something that one might find growing on the ceiling of their bathroom). Luis was equally confident that the lack of response was not a technological hang-up – his friend had minored in computer science, and would surely understand the system Luis had set up better than he himself did. Was it possible that his friend's old email was defunct? Or was he indisposed for some other reason?
Luis had been mulling the question over and over in his mind, but as he sat slumped in his chair, ears straining for any sound of an approaching Ganado, he realized it didn't really matter.
This computer was his only link to the outside world, and he was very, very limited in his ability to use it. He'd booted it up nearly twenty minutes ago, hoping desperately that his friend had finally responded after nearly a month of silence, but he had not. And without a friend on the outside – Luis's friends were precious few – he had little hope of escaping Los Illuminados unscathed.
Well, escaping wasn't actually beyond him, but successfully going into hiding?
His fingers clenched on his hairline and he wheezed quietly as a twinge of pain shot through his chest. The egg inside was stirring. He'd stunted its maturation with a careful cocktail of drugs, but it would hatch soon. Likely within the next 36 hours.
His window of opportunity was closing. Killing the egg was no problem, he had the medication on him. But once the recessive Plaga was dead, the Dominants that surrounded him would take note. Medez. Salazar.
The room darkened as the computer fell into sleep mode. Luis had been contemplating his options since seeing that his email was still empty. While he didn't like any of them, the absence of any hope of outside help had driven him to settle on a course of action.
He could not remain here. He'd begun to suspect it months ago, and had known it concretely ever since he'd first stumbled across the First Daughter Abduction Plan. Then, if he'd needed any confirmation at all (or timeframe for escape) it had been that little red dot on the back of his upper thigh, the one he'd woken up with that morning after a long night of drinking with Ramon. The strange and arrogant little man had been uncharacteristically friendly towards him the previous night, chattering pleasantly about the scientific wonders they had accomplished thus far and musing innocently about the days of tomorrow. Luis had let his guard down.
When he'd woken up that morning, head pounding, stomach churning, he'd searched himself thoroughly for signs of tampering. Anyone else would have assumed that little red dot on their ass to be nothing more than a bug bite. Luis knew a 7 gauge needle mark when he saw it.
He sighed, his heart drumming heavily and rapidly in his chest, in that dark, quiet little room beneath the stones of Castle Salazar. It seemed that when danger was imminent, it didn't matter if it was lurking days away or storming down the stairs that very moment. It still sent the body into high alert.
There was nothing else for it. He would gather what supplies and wealth he could over the next day or two, kill the parasite nesting in his torso, and, as the Americans were so fond of saying, get the hell out of Dodge.
He lifted his head and took hold of the mouse, shaking it to dispel the screensaver. First he would need to thoroughly dismantle his setup, then—
You have one new email.
His heart skipped a beat – then began racing as hope flooded his veins. Carlos had come through for him after all.
The message had been sent eleven minutes ago, and Luis silently swore over the timestamp. No doubt his friend been waiting for a hasty response. Hopefully he was still at his computer, waiting for a reply. Luis would need to…need to…
Hello Dr. Sera. I'm sorry to report that your friend, Dr. Carlos Torres, was killed by a drunk driver roughly four months ago.
He read the paragraph once, twice, thrice, and each time hit him like a fist to the gut. It seemed that his last hope of getting out of here, getting this information into the hands of someone who could put an end to this mad conspiracy, and getting into hiding without having his head cut off and strung from the castle ramparts was gone after all.
Your friend is dead and all you can think of is saving your own skin? Not a moment of grief for the jittery little mushroom man with whom you shared so many drinks and scientific discussions? None at all?
There was grief, of course, but it was terribly blunted by the hard reality his own predicament. What took precedence in his mind was not the loss of his friend, but the loss of the opportunity the death entailed.
He could loathe himself for that later. For now, there was more to read.
That being said, he was a friend of mine, and we shared a certain degree of interest in pathogens. Your report of the Plaga parasite is quite alarming, the cult in possession of it doubly so.
It would seem you're in something of a tight spot. I belong to an organization that is capable of using the information in your possession to great effect, and of putting an end to the ambitions of this Saddler character you mentioned. We also have a spot in our ranks for a researcher of such high caliber as you. If it is of interest to you, perhaps we can arrange to have you extricated from your current position?
Please respond promptly.
Upon finishing the message, the word 'promptly' clanged alarmingly in his mind, and again he cursed himself for his long period of inaction. Thirteen minutes had already passed since the message had come in. He wasted no time replying.
Yes, please. I will not be able to get out of the compound without outside assistance. That said, I must confess I do not know if I am interested in taking up with your organization. Frankly, I would rather put this mess behind me as soon as possible. Still, I have much information that will be of use to you and your people – if you can get me out alive.
Dr. Luis Sera
As he sent this email it occurred to him how much it smacked of desperation. He also realized that it may not have been wise to so quickly deny interest in joining up with this organization of A.W.'s. Should he have feigned interest, at least initially? Would they consider the allure of information on the Plagas tempting enough to risk extracting him? Had his flawed reply perhaps been too late altogether?
If his correspondent was still present, it would surely take them a few minutes to process his reply, write one of their own, and send it back. Nonetheless, he found himself clicking the refresh button only thirty seconds after sending the message. And thirty seconds after that.
You have one new email.
He blinked. That was fast.
That can be arranged. That said, we will require some proof of the plans of the Los Illuminados. You mentioned in your email the differences between the Dominant and Recessive Plagas strains. My employer will get you safely out of the compound in exchange for a live sample of the Dominant Strain Plaga. We will also be glad to assist you in finding a new life for yourself, whether that life involves our organization or not. I was asked to mention that a career with us would be quite lucrative – think six figures annual starting salary – but going by the tone of your response, I get the feeling the offer is moot. Perhaps you would be happier settling down as a high school biology teacher in Florida than conducting top-grade research on some of the most exotic and dangerous pathogens as yet unknown to humanity. Still, the choice is yours.
Do we have a deal?
Twenty seconds to read the message. A one-word response didn't take much time to type. His reply was off in less than half a minute.
The response he received was equally fast, though not as pithy.
Lovely. Let's try to have this whole thing planned out within the next fifteen minutes, shall we?
Leon sat in the back of the police jeep, head propped up on his fist, contemplating his assignment. It seemed almost surreal to him. Just yesterday he'd been heading to the airport to catch a plane to Massachusetts for his new assignment: looking after Ashley Graham, the new POTUS's oldest daughter. He'd been happy enough with the gig, if a bit confused – he honestly wasn't sure why he was being given Secret Service work when his training had been geared towards a much more active and combative lifestyle.
Then again, it looked like the training would probably come in handy for the gig all the same. His F.O.S. for the mission, Ingrid Hunnigan, had given him the rundown when he'd arrived at the airport and been pointed towards a private plane…bound for Spain.
The subjects' names, as you know, are Ashley and Aurelleah Graham. Ashley was kidnapped by an unidentified group while on her way home from her university, Aurelleah from her local junior college. The kidnapper's motives are still unknown, although there's reliable information that the perpetrator is an insider.
Only a handful of people know about this kidnapping. It's been kept under wraps mostly due to the fact that we can't determine who the traitor is.
Our intelligence operatives say they have reliable information that the girls have been sighted somewhere in Europe – northern Spain, to be precise. That's where you'll be headed. But until we find out who the insider is, we can't be sure of anything. It could be a ploy.
We have very few concrete leads. Members of the Secret Service and everyone else related to the two are being questioned as we speak. This recent sighting is the best lead we have. You'll be the one following it up. You'll be greeted when you land by two members of the Spanish Policia. They'll escort you to the village where Ashley was recently sighted. Any questions?
He'd asked her if she lived in the Massachusetts area, or if he'd have to fly all the way to D.C. if he wanted to introduce himself face to face. She'd taken that as a 'no' and hung up on him.
All according to plan so far. His escorts had picked him up from the small landing strip just outside of something that could be classified either as very small city or a fairly large town by American standards, but which was classified as The Big City by the locals, who hadn't seen much in the way of urban expansion in – well, ever. It had one of the only McDonald's in the province, which they'd dropped by to stock up on food on the Spanish taxpayer's dime, or whatever currency they used here. Leon hadn't minded. The two pockets that weren't stuffed with ammo were now stuffed with burgers, which were probably staining his pants with grease even through the wax-paper coating. He didn't really care. No one was going to notice if his pockets were stained.
His sleep schedule had been off, so after stuffing his face with three whoppers, a large fry, and a six-piece McNugget and washing it all down with a large (small by American standards) coke, he'd let his new buddies know that he was going to catch a bit of rest and to wake him up half an hour before they got there.
They'd mumbled something to each other – the only word Leon had caught was Americano – and then waved him an affirmation. Six hours later, ten minutes prior, they'd tossed a bag of cheeseburgers at his head and laughed as he started awake.
As far as wake-up calls went, a bag of burgers was not a bad one. He'd gone through a couple more, crammed the last two in his pockets for later, and now here he was.
As Leon's eyes scanned the scenery sliding past them through the window, he heard the officer in shotgun grumble quietly, "Coño, why am I the one who always gets the short end of the stick?" The officer, who had tossed the bag-o-burgers at Leon's face and who didn't seem all that happy with his assignment, rolled his head on his shoulders, eliciting several loud pops.
Leon didn't respond to the man's comment, and neither did his friend. Instead, the driver addressed Leon. "Ay, who are you really? C'mon and tell us."
His friend finished popping every joint he could manage in the cramped car and added, more loudly, "You are a long way from home, cowboy. You have my sympathies."
Leon's new comrade didn't sound all that sympathetic. Guess that's the locals' way of breaking the ice, he thought. "You know what this is all about. My assignment is to search for the president's missing daughters."
"What?" Said Mr. Sympathy, chuckling. "All by yourself?"
Leon pushed himself off the window, shifting in his seat. That comment wasn't exactly encouraging. "I'm sure you guys didn't just tag along so we could sing Kumbaya together at some Boy Scouts bonfire."
As he said this, it occurred to him that Hunnigan had said he had an escort to the village – she hadn't explicitly mentioned anything about mission assistance. "Then again, maybe you did," he added.
The driver snorted, but Mr. Sympathy just laughed lightly. "Oh, ju crazy American. It was a direct order from the chief himself." He tried to stretch his arms out, but couldn't manage much in the cramped vehicle. "I tell you, es no picnic."
They both had fairly heavy Spanish accents, but not so heavy that Leon had trouble understanding them. That being said, accents were the least of his worries out here. There was a real possibility that out in an area this rural, there wouldn't be a lot of English speakers. He'd probably need these guys' help translating if he was going to dig for information.
He told them as much. "I'm counting on you guys. Any information I can find pertaining to these two is going to be invaluable."
The only response he received was a noncommittal sound from the driver and a declaration from Mr. Sympathy that it was high time they took a piss break.
They did. Leon took the extra time to radio his F.O.S.
He flipped the leather strap on his walkie talkie. It was a pretty high-tech gadget – video capability and a superb signal. He flicked it on and held it up.
"Hunnigan?" He said. A moment of crackling and a few soft pops confirmed that the signal was established. "Leon here. We're almost to the village."
The screen lit up. It was a little blurry, but not bad. "Leon, good to hear. Ahead of schedule, too. Hey, you're not lined up with the camera. Hold it about two inches further back and tilt it up just a little."
He did as she asked. "Like this?"
"Your other up."
Right. Duh. He shook the remaining sleep out of his head and corrected the positioning. "Better?"
"Great. Wouldn't want you to miss out on the nice view."
His new partner didn't seem to think that merited a response. "So, any information on the subjects yet?"
"Not yet," Leon responded. "My new police friends and I just got finished with the introductions. Hey, are these guys supposed to be my partners in this, or just my ride?"
"They're there to offer their assistance however they can. If they don't seem forthcoming with their help, don't be afraid to lean on them for it. Make sure they know that this mission will seriously reflect international relations between the U.S. and Spain as whole. Also, that their chief said their jobs are riding on it."
Leon raised an eyebrow. "Their chief of police said that?"
"No, but tell them that anyways. We need the subjects back at all costs."
Leon considered his heretofore warm welcome, and nodded. "Will do. And I'll get them back safe and sound, just leave it to me."
"We're counting on you, Leon. Give me an update once you've talked to a few villagers, gauged the mood of the town. And Leon, one thing; you're locating and saving the president's daughters, so try to behave yourself."
He snorted. Not that he wasn't a charmer, but he wasn't about to get involved with the objects of his mission. He'd once tried laying the moves on a colleague back in special training, and a good friend of his had given him some advice that he'd only taken to heart after the whole fiasco. Don't shit where you eat.
His brows creased as he thought the incident over. Not because of the girl; rather because the friend who had given him the advice hadn't crossed his mind in a while. That old buddy, a rough and tumble man by the name of Jack Krauser, had been killed in an accident a few years back. The news had been a shock to Leon. They'd been through…a lot.
He shook his head and drew his thoughts back to the present. "These guys sure picked the wrong girls to kidnap. I'll see what I can find and get back to you. Leon out."
The screen went dark on her end. He snapped the radio off and slipped it back into his pocket.
He got back into the jeep, and they started off.
Hey! Just finished playing Resident Evil 4. Amazing game. It was my first one in the franchise, though, so I'm not as intimately familiar with the lore of the universe as I usually am when writing a story on something.
I'm writing this because there are certain characters that I was hoping to see fleshed out a little more, maybe get a better ending for. We'll see what I can do.
Now for the formalities. First, a quick disclaimer: I do not own the Resident Evil franchise or any of its characters. The OC, Aurelleah, is mine, though, and you can't have her.
Second, a quick courtesy note to my readers: This story is rated M for a reason. Bad language (mostly in Spanish) and depictions of the all the lovely, graphic things that can happen in game are to be expected, but there will also be sexually explicit themes later on. I honestly doubt anyone minds, but it's still polite to let you know. Also, my mom follows my account and might decide to read this. So...uh...heads up, mom.
Third, the first of many credits to Duel Screens. Their YouTube video, What are they saying in Resident Evil 4? - Duel Screens, will be the source of almost all of the Spanish dialogue and corresponding translations throughout this story.
Finally, the translations will always be at the absolute bottom of the page for easy access. If there's another format for translations that you would prefer, please let me know. I hope you enjoy my newest story, and I hope you're all having a wonderful day.
The Topaz Dragon.
Addendum: Secondary genre recently changed to romance due to later character developments.
Americano - You don't need a translation for this
Coño - Fuck (among other things)
Please note that many Spanish swears are fluid and interchangeable.