God this has taken awhile but here it is! The next act for my Hazard and Lisa romance is finally here. HURRAY ME!

Ok I'll get straight down to business so you can get to reading.

Firstly feedback to reviewers! (Haven't done this for awhile so forgive me)

Waruzska- thank you first for your very elegant and well written (and very informative) review. Firstly no I don't take the review as a flame and even if it was meant to be a flame I'd consider it a review as it was so nice J

Firstly no idea who SD Perry is but if I am considered even a little like (as in as good) as a published writer then that's a great complement. Also never read his books but wanna get some so could you tell me what are you're favourite resi-evil books for me to check out please?

Secondly I'm glad you like the characters as that is the thing that worried me the most, peoples reactions to Hazard and Lisa and whether they would view the characters as realistic or even likeable. As for the story to be honest I only have a vague idea how this is going and sorta writing the story as it goes along. (Shrugs) that's usually how I do things… also why it's taken so long as I'm constantly going over the pages again and again wondering 'is this ok? Will people like it? Etc Etc'.

Thirdly yes I doubt myself that the Tyrants and the humans will get along at first but then Hazard and Lisa are really nice once you get to know them and I never once believed that Chris or Jill are the type to only look at someone at face value (or tentacle value) so they should work together, at least to survive.

Lastly thanks for you're lovely review and hope to get another J

Ps: hey you write and probably speak English better then me pal! I only speak Chavlish.

Tinkies- hey if last chapter was a lot of reading then get ready for this Act! (Dy36 winces as he holds up blistered fingers owie!) anyway thanks a lot for your review Tinkie J

Yeah Lisa and Hazard will become good friends but still not sure 'how' close a friend they should become so if you, (And other reviews) have any thoughts on them (And Jill and Chris for that matter) then please say them.

Oh and hope you find this act awesome too J

Ok now the warnings! (They gotta be done for the kiddies, 'WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?')

lots of gore and violence, and as this a resident evil fanfic expect it to be very detailed and dark :p

Nudity. Detailed descriptions of certain human anatomy's and while there is no sexual acts there is certainly some impure thoughts from a certain character. But nothing wrong with that I say or most of the human population would burn in hell so NYAH!

some swearing, while I don't go overboard on swearing anymore (on writing at least I'm very vocal in the real world) there is enough to make people wince.

Oh and lastly this is an 'M' (incase you didn't notice) so really nobody underage should be reading this, though if they don't read of violence here they can just look at the news or out their front window, especially in England grr…

Ok enough political rambling warnings over enjoy the fic!

Act 3: A friendship is forged and dark designs are made.

Chapter 12.

The colour of cruelty is now Hazel.

Night had fallen over the city of Raccoon and in the darkness its towering buildings and human sprawl was nothing more then shadows mixing with those of the forests that surrounded it.

But against the darkness around them human defiance shone like a beacon, in this case by the thousands of lights that filled the city pushing out against the night providing the people of the city with a aura of security as their eyes continued to function within their homes.

But night and darkness laughed at their efforts, for from above the city was a mere spark of light surrounded by darkness and within the night humans could only imagine what horrific nightmares inhabited the shadows.

But for two humans: a cop tarnished by life but maintaining a good heart, and a scoundrel who couldn't hide his own despite his efforts, they were to discover that not all evil hides in the shadows of the world.

Some evil rests within the shadows of the soul.

"You better be right about this Hank"

"Its just over the next Hill Chris I'm sure"

"Funny cause you said that about the last three!"

Chris Redfield stuffed his hand in his pocket to warm it against the cold, cursing under his breath as Hank scrambled up the hill in front of him.

For the last few hours the git had been dragging Chris across the Raccoon countryside in the fricking cold and night and he was ready to throw a serious fit any second now.

He sighed and looked up at the distant twinkling stars above him. He supposed the night sky was sorta nice, especially as he rarely got to see the stars with the brightness of the city. But at the moment his thoughts kept drifting back to a pair of twinkling star-blue eyes despite the situation.

Jill… his friend, his co-worker, his unending source of fantasy and adoration. Lately he had found himself becoming more and more drawn to her and it was becoming difficult not to do something drastic.

Chris had dated many girls… and slept with a fair few too. And although he had never truly loved any of them he had honest affection and his actions had always been sincere. He had never cheated but neither did his relationships last long before it got dull and he moved on.

But with Jill he felt something truly unique when it came to her. And the thought of messing up their friendship, or worse, hurting her by making some mistake was more then he could handle.

'Man I'm like a bloody teenager with these nerves' Chris thought ruefully, shaking his head he followed after Hank, maybe beating the little guy up when he took 'another' wrong turn with distract his thoughts.

"Chris! Chris over here!" Hank yelled while trying to whisper at the same time.

Holding back his growl of annoyance Chris climbed the hill reached the crest where Hank lay crouched on the ground.

When he saw what Hank had spotted he quickly dived for the ground beside the other man taking in what he was seeing.

Before them over the ridge the Raccoon river stretched in a lazy curve across their vision, its length splitting the grasslands in two though in the darkness it was hard not to see the land as one whole and only the faint moonlight on the flowing water revealed its presence.

And on the other side was the base his informant had sworn was there shining dimly in the night as the tall spotlights around its perimeter illuminated its surroundings.

Chris stared across the few yards at the fenced outpost wondering what its purpose here truly was, judging by the dark figures that prowled the area he guessed it wasn't a Cub Scout camp.

"See, told ya it was here" Hank whispered with a trace of smugness.

Chris merely grunted in response as he shifted his pack off his shoulders and rummaged inside. Pulling out a pair of binoculars he took a good look at the supposed 'government' outpost.

'Well whoever they are they don't look like your run of the mill crooks' Chris thought in understatement as he focused on one of the patrolling guards. The black clothing he wore, expensive-looking goggles ('probably N-V') and mean looking assault rifle were all pricey enough to be out of a mere gangsters reach.

The way he moved and the confident aura about the masked figure also clearly said he was a well-trained professional, probably private security or a mercenary.

"Question is, Chris murmured half to himself, why does this place need such protection"

Hank squinted hard as tried to make out what the buildings within the compound were, truth be told he was curious himself about what this was all about.

"So what now?" he asked, worrying a little about the heavy armament those distant figures carried.

Chris lowered the binoculars and gave his companion a large grin, the action almost satanic with the rest of his face shadowed.

"We sneak in of course"

Hank gulped hard as Chris crawled forward over the ridge towards the scrub below, grabbing his foot to stop him Hank hissed, "Are you nuts? Look at the size of those guns"

Chris glanced back at him, "Something's up here Hank and I wouldn't be a much of a cop if I didn't get to the bottom of it," he said firmly.

Hanks' eyes raced between the compound and Chris, "Can't you just show them your badge or something?" he whined.

Chris rolled his eyes, "I don't have a warrant on me Hank and even if I did I don't think these guys would let me in, not without a trip into the river afterwards anyway"

"Well how about waiting until you do have one and then coming back with more backup?"

"Yeah like they'd still be anything interesting there once I got a warrant, that's if I could even get one if these guys are connected high up" Chris argued.

Hanks eyes were wide with fear now, "Chris please…"

Chris sighed and turning round laid a hand on Hanks shoulder, "You'll be fine Hank, if worse comes to worse I'll get you out even if I have to stay"

"Besides you know I'm not smart enough to figure anything technical in there so I'll need your expert help for finding clues and stuff" Chris lightly joked.

Hank looked down towards the ground for a moment avoiding Chris's eyes, then releasing a breath and nodding his head weakly.

"Good thing you're paying me well… ish" Hank said glaring at Chris without venom.

Chris clapped him on the shoulder almost knocking him down, "That's the spirit. Ok lets go"

Chris took the lead crawling on his belly through the scrub towards the river intent on, hopefully, crossing it undetected and bypassing the fence. Behind him Hank followed praying like never before that he wouldn't die.

And that if he did Chris be smitten most harshly.

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The guard had been staring at their position for the last minute now.

Chris swore at whatever bastard had trained that silent figure, for even in the dark and almost completely submerged in the river, ('which is fucking cold!' Chris seethed) the guard had stopped in his patrol along the riverside.

He should have carried on past the large centre building then inwards to the other end of the compound and another structure that Chris assumed must be a barracks of some kind.

But instead the guy was just standing there, not moving, not shooting, not even calling for backup just staring at them.

'But its not like he can see us. Even with N-V we'd be melded with the background at this distance… I'm right, right?'

He was certain he and Hank hadn't given away their position so he was at a loss to why the guard had stopped, perhaps just instinct made him aware to something unusual in his surroundings.

Most people would scoff at the thought but Chris had been a cop long enough to know such 'sixth senses' did exist in some fashion. Hell he himself had felt unease with a person or place before for no understandable reason and been right to be wary later.

'A distraction of some kind is what we need… but I can't exactly chuck a rock with him already suspicious of my position' Chris inwardly fumed, even so his hand dug into the river bed finding a smooth pebble just in case.

However the next moment had Chris wondering if the powers that be had their eye on them cause he could hear something familiar approaching the region.

The guard too had heard it and his gaze switched to the sky as a steady 'Whoop-whoop-whoop' of a helicopter grew in intensity, he reached for his headset listening to someone then with a last stare at the river dashed off to the right.

Chris breathed a sigh of relief and motioned Hank to follow as he carried on wading through the river, it was once he was close to the other shore that the helicopter flew into sight and took position above the compound.

"Down" Chris hissed and he and Hank almost submerged into the shallows again, only the area above their noses out of the water, as the action in the compound became hectic.

Chris watched curiously as a heli-pad lit up on the far right end of the compound and a ring of guards took station around the perimeter, 'obviously someone important is coming judging by the honour guard' Chris mused.

The helicopter steadily lowered landing gracefully on the pad, Chris noted that the helicopter itself was heavily armoured and sleek, and again, looking far too advanced to be anything but military.

His suspicions were confirmed when a group of white robed people exited the helicopter, 'Scientists' Chris thought with intrigue.

They immediately began to carry some cases and boxes from the helicopter and what could be the leader strode over to the ring of guards, ignoring his labouring comrades.

One of the guards stepped forward, (Chris noticed it was the same one that had been watching them) and words were exchanged between the two. Chris wished he had brought a microphone to hear what they were saying but judging by their motions and the look of excitement on the lead scientists' face it was something important.

There was a lot of hand waving in the direction of the forest and Raccoon city, the scientist appeared to ask something and the guard nodded and pointed towards a small warehouse shelter behind the main building, Chris made a note to check that out.

The scientist finished the conversation and strode ahead towards the main building ignoring the guards who hurried after him, the head soldier barked at the remaining researchers who quickly hurried after their leader carrying the cases and equipment between them.

Chris remained motionless until the action had died down and the guards had returned to their posts, to his delight the suspicious git who had been patrolling the river had gone inside with the head coat so the area was now clear.

"Lets go" Chris whispered and he and Hank dashed forward crouched low and came to a stop against the wall of the main building, thankfully there wasn't much in the way of windows and the metal sheeting and thick pipes of the wall were probably very sound resistant.

"Where now?" Hank queried a faint tremor in his voice.

Chris frowned as he considered this, closing his eyes he recalled the image of the site from across the river trying to plan a course.

The compound was a basic square fence with a large central building, that he and hank were currently huddled against, a barracks behind and to the left and a heli-port now revealed to its right.

To the far left was a guard-post and gate, behind and to the right of the central building was the warehouse that the head guy had pointed to and Chris believed the best place to investigate would be there.

"Ok we're gonna check out that warehouse down there" Chris whispered while watching the guard hanging around the heliport.

"The one that the head coat asked about?"

Chris grinned despite himself, "Glad you're keeping track"

"The weasel sees all Chris, you should know that by now" Hank answered smugly.

Chris merely shook his head in amusement as he watched the guard; he waited until the man had wandered to the far end of the compound starting to observe the fence before moving out.

Hugging close to the wall and ducked down low Chris and Hank skirted along the centre building, taking a right and following its length towards the warehouse, in the darkness Chris hoped that they'd be unseen but considering the gear the security had speed was their best option.

Chris was tempted to stop and glance inside the building they were creeping along to see what was going on, but considering the structure had only a single door and not one window trying to peek inside would be a big mistake.

"Guard!" Hank hissed and he and Chris froze against the building as another security man came round the corner between them and the warehouse.

Chris's hand tightened on his gun but only as a precaution, the guard was out in the open looking straight ahead to the right but all he had to do was turn again and he'd be looking right at Chris and his partner.

Chris judged the distance between them and believed he could charge the guy and knock him out before he could raise the alarm but what if another guard was just around the corner? Or the man put up too much of a fight for Chris to finish it quickly?

He reversed his grip on his gun holding it like a club when the guard raised a hand to his earpiece listening to someone. Chris held his breath in anticipation but just when he thought he'd have to attack the man turned towards the warehouse and went inside oblivious to the men behind him.

"Too close" Chris whispered after releasing his breath, behind him he heard Hank shuffle about untensing himself.

Chris crept forward to the edge of the structure and peeked round the corner, he could see the barracks a few yards away but other then distant chatter nothing much was happening there.

Glancing back at the heliport he saw the guard was sitting against the concrete 'square' of the landing pad and having a drink, judging by his relaxed posture he didn't suspect anything so Chris judged the time right.

"Lets go" He said and sprinted across the open ground towards the warehouse door, Hank following close behind as Chris reached the building and stopped by the door the guard had used.

Up close the warehouse was typical of its kind, a simple rectangular shape, metal sheeting and a long 'pyramid' roof, a set of tall double doors and a single man-sized one to its right.

'Hope there's something of interest in here that's worth all this' Chris thought as he waved Hank inside and followed after quietly shutting the door behind him.

Once inside Chris had to squint due to the thick darkness inside but after a few seconds began to see what was inside, and what he saw brought a confused scowl to his face.

Dozens upon dozens of boxes and crates filled the room in various stacks, some covered in black sheeting others piled high on metal scaffolds. The crates were mainly wood but were spattered with metal cases that looked quite sturdy.

But what had Chris's attention was the symbol printed on every object in the room, the symbol of a large octagon with four red and four white portions in an ordered pattern.

"Umbrella?" Chris whispered in perplexity.

Chris had heard of the company, everyone in Raccoon City had. They were a pharmaceutical corporation that had branches all over the world, from small chemists on the streets to huge factories in Europe.

Chris himself had bought god knows how many painkillers and bandages after a hard nights out and a drinks-fest, hell the hospitals and the medical service of the R.P.D all had contracts with Umbrella for their medicines and drugs.

'So what has this place got to do with Umbrella? Why have they got a base hidden out here?'

These questions and many more raced in his head but as Chris thought that the best solution was to explore the boxes and find out more something else began to exert itself in his mind.

Being a cop for so long, and an ex-soldier had given Chris a good instinctual sense for danger and at the moment his nerves were yelling that something was wrong.

And as he pondered this it suddenly became clear.

A guard had come in here less then a minute before them.

So why was it so quiet?

"Hank wait here" Chris murmured before drawing his gun and stepping forward into the shadows.

"Chris?" Hank hissed but his partner didn't answer and in the next second the cop had vanished completely leaving Hank alone in the dim light and huddled at the entrance.

Hank cursed under his breath and glanced around the gloomy room nervously. The silence and isolation started to get to the weasel and he fidgeted anxiously while awaiting Chris's return.

He twitched as he heard a footfall close by and he squinted into the dark trying to make out some sense of the shadows, "Chris?" he whispered.

No verbal answer was given; instead a clear 'click' was heard of a bullet settling into its chamber and Hanks heart pounded in terror as he froze.

A figure stepped into Hanks visual range and he gulped hard as the guard pointed a pistol at him, the mans black gear and clothing making him difficult to observe as he stalked closer to his prey, gun barrel unwavering.

The mans head cocked to one side without a sound as he considered Hank, the sharp green lens of his goggles revealing nothing as he stared into Hanks terrified eyes.

"What are you doing here?" the man asked his voice cold and slightly muffled behind his mask.

"Got lost, er… car broke down, don't suppose you know where I can get a spare tyre?" Hank blurted his voice practically a squeak as he stared at the gun barrel pointed at his head.

The man didn't answer and Hank couldn't shake off the horrifying suspicion that the guard was weighing the pros and cons of shooting him right now.

Fortunately for the weasel the man never got to make a decision, another shadow emerged behind the guard and Hank saw the figure swing something.

The guard folded with the barest of grunts as Chris's gun handle smashed into the back of his head, falling to the floor as Chris leap forward and kicked the gun from the mans nerveless grip while changing his grip on his own weapon.

"You alright?" Chris asked as he flipped the man over with a foot while keeping his gun trained on him.

"Am I alright? If you call having a trained killer pointing a gun at my head alright then I'm great, I'm just fan-bloody-tastic!" Hank yelled shrilly once he found the strength to speak.

Once sure the man was unconscious Chris grinned at his fuming cohort, "Hey you were handling it well back here, the car thing had me convinced mate"

Hank bristled as Chris winked at him cheekily, "Forgive me for not being able to think of something more convincing Chris, I'm not bloody James Bond!"

"Too right Hank, he's a lot better dressed then you for starters"

Chris held back his laughter as Hank gave him the finger and turned his attention back to the guard, up close he could see his gear was as professional as he assumed and he made sure to strip him of anything offensive and place it out of reach.

Chris frowned as he picked up the mans pistol finding another Umbrella logo stamped onto the barrel, since when did Umbrella make weapons?

'Another mystery to be solved' He thought as he hissed at Hank to help him drag the unconscious merc into cover then turned his attention back to the warehouse.

"Ok mate lets split up and try and find something worthwhile here ok?"

"Which is just about everything here" Hank answered as he approached a crate examining the Umbrella logos and 'Biohazard' symbols with interest.

"Something that could relate to the murders is of most importance ok" Chris reminded him before starting his own search.

"Wait!"

Chris stopped and turned towards Hank, scowling at his nervous look, "What?"

"What do I do if I run into another guard?" the small man asked fearfully.

Chris rolled his eyes and turning on his heel strode off remarking over his shoulder, "Just scream for help Hank" as he did.

Rounding a set of scaffolds he couldn't quite hear Hanks reply but judging by the tone it wasn't very pleasant.

Focusing on his surroundings the S.T.A.R.S officer got to work.

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'This certainly is unusual stuff to have' Chris thought as he levered open another crate finding a multitude of syringes, chrome equipment and toughened vials inside.

He had pawed through three crates so far finding stuff from the mundane, like lab equipment, to the mysterious, such as exotic weaponry and powerful tranquillisers.

Still as strange as his findings were at the moment it could all still be just standard stuff for a company like Umbrella to have. While strange to have weaponry it could be explained and the guards outside could merely be expensive, and deadly, security for valuable equipment.

Yet something was wrong here, he didn't know yet what it was but he was certain this place, and indeed Umbrella, were tied in with his case.

"Chris! Chris over here!" Hanks' voice called in a loud whisper.

Chris hurried over to the source and found his friend leaning over a large metal capsule, at seeing Chris approach the weasel grinned and patted the device smugly.

"How's this for worthwhile?"

"What is it?" Chris asked as he stepped beside Hank, looking over the capsule he was oddly reminded of 'Forever young'. The capsule with its metal casing, misted glass viewpoint, various tubing and attached computer console looked a lot like some kind of cryogenic unit.

"Duh it's obviously some kind of cryogenic capsule, (Chris smiled self-approvingly) and it's a good thing you brought me cause I doubt you could do this" Hank said as he placed himself next to the capsules attached keyboard and screen and started punching at keys.

Chris tuned out as Hank started typing in commands; computers had never been Chris's strong point.

'Jill's always been better at it then me' He thought affectionately.

Shaking his head to clear the pink haze he focused on the glass view plate of the capsule, it was heavily misted and frozen over but the shadow inside definitely meant someone or 'something' was inside.

"Crap!"

Hank scowled at the screen his hands feverishly typing but judging by the 'access denied' covering the screen his hacking wasn't going well.

"Problem?" Chris asked idly after a minute of frenzied typing.

Hank shot him a glare before returning to his task, "Whoever made this computers encryption program is a serious bastard, its proving hard to crack"

"I thought you were good at this computer stuff Hank" Chris pointed out accusingly.

Hank scowled for a moment then gave a weary sigh, "As I said you're lucky to have me as I've got partial access here" Hank said while opening a file on screen.

"Only partial?"

"Umbrella's obviously a powerful and rich company that can afford complex and bitchy password systems," Hank said distractedly as he read the file on screen, after a few moments he gave a low whistle of wonder.

"Well that's… something interesting all right"

Chris sidled next to him reading over the weasels' shoulder interestedly and adding his own whistle of awe as his eyes ran over the words.

What was printed in black and white pixels on screen was certainly interesting, the talk of increasing security for the base due to some 'outbreak' was cause for suspicion as was the order not to open this capsule without 'level A' fire support most intriguing.

"Subject underwent viral mutation last week at 6:47 p.m. after field test. Subject deemed 'compatible' with operation and transported to outpost within a day of evolution. Doctor Birkin will oversee the procedure, render him all available assistance." Hank read out as the two men's eyes followed the text.

"What the hell does all that mean?" the thief muttered.

"No idea but is that all there is?" Chris responded with haste.

Hank quickly checked the file but came up dry, "Nope that page of text is all that's on here, I can only assume its basic instructions for anyone who comes into contact with this capsule to have"

Chris nodded thinking over this information, obviously his suspicions were correct and Umbrella was definitely up to something… but what?

Viral mutations didn't sound good at all and made Chris immediately think of biological weapons or some kind of killer disease. As for this 'Dr Birkin' Chris would bet a dollar the head coat outside had been the man mentioned in the report.

What got to him though was this talk of a 'subject' in the capsule. Was it a man? A woman? Should Chris try and open the capsule and find out and perhaps rescue someone who was in serious trouble?

Some warning instinct told Chris that would be a bad idea trying to break open the sealed cryo-capsule, the report had clearly said to keep it shut unless well armed and Chris was going to heed that warning this time.

His thoughts were derailed as Hank began to scrabble in his own pack and quickly placed something in the terminals disk drive, "What are you doing?" Chris asked as Hank began to mess about with the keyboard.

The weasel merely raised an eyebrow and said, "Making a copy duh".

Chris blinked then waved him to continue, while he did so the marksman looked around the warehouse wondering what to do now. Should they keep looking or try and escape now with the stuff they had before pushing their luck?

Another thought popped into Chris's head, "Hey why would someone in cryogenics be here? I thought only the rich could go in these things and that they stay in special facilities?" Chris asked with a frown.

Hank scowled as he watched the file download, it was taking an annoyingly long time, "Its not a cryogenic capsule in the usual sense Chris" he answered irritably.

"Its not?"

"No! This thing is sorta like a portable life support machine. Whatever item is in there is cooled to slow down metabolic rate and bacterial growth as well as sustain the item via the machines"

"The item?" Chris noted.

"Yeah these things are usually much smaller and used to transport organs about, Umbrella made it awhile ago to move stuff around countries without deteriorating the organ" Hank muttered distractedly.

"There's a person in there though Hank" Chris pointed out, tapping on the fogged image on the glass as he spoke.

"Yeah that's were it gets weird"

Chris gave this some thought, why would they want to put a person in one of these things if it wasn't true cryogenics? Was the person being kept alive because they were fatally ill? If that was the case why here, in this warehouse in the middle-of-nowhere, and not at a hospital?

However such thoughts were immediately cancelled when he saw something that brought a cringe to his face.

"Hank" He said quietly.

"Yeah I'm almost done Chris"

"You see that little red light over there?" Chris continued, pointing to a space on the ceiling.

The other man looked up from the screen and with a quizzical look followed Chris outstretched hand, his eyes widened at what he saw, "Oh shit…"

The camera was almost completely invisible hidden in the shadows of the ceiling but the flickering red pinpoint that revealed its location glared down at them like a malicious eye.

Chris stepped to the side and around the capsule and cursed when the light moved to follow him, 'Why didn't I think to look for things like them straight away?' Chris chastened himself.

His eyes flickered towards the doorway they had entered from and the moving shadows at its base, "Hank get out" Chris hissed as he rushed for the door.

The door flew open, silhouetted in the doorframe was another black clothed and masked mercenary, his green eyepieces scanning the room, and in a second focused on Chris's charging figure, behind him another guard readied his weapon.

The mans gun raised towards Chris but putting on an extra burst of speed for thrust the STARS officer lunged for the ground and slide towards and under the guards firing sight as he did.

Drawing a tazer from his jacket, one of the many that Jill collected, he swung a foot at the guards leg knocking him down to one knee and then jabbed the stun gun into the mans chest in the next instant.

The guard screamed, the noise muffled but still high-pitched behind his mask, and fell towards Chris who swiftly smashed both feet into his body throwing him against the mercenary behind him.

The others split-second of grappling with his unconscious partner gave Chris the time to jump to his feet and rush forward barging against the remaining guard and throwing them both to the floor.

Chris slammed the mans gun against the ground forcing a grunt of pain from him as he did yet he didn't relinquish his grip, raising a fist Chris punched the man hard in the face with a snarl of anger.

Unfortunately for Chris the guards headgear gave him some protection and recovering quickly from the blow the man used it to his advantage, surging up he smashed his head against Chris's with devastating results.

Chris yelled in agony as the heavy metal cut and bruised his face as well as causing enough disorientation to make Chris relax his hold on the struggling man beneath him. Without hesitation the guard kicked Chris off of him and rolled up and away coming to his knees with his gun pointed towards Chris.

Chris drew his own gun as the mercenary aimed his and the two men remained motionless in a deadly stand-off, both focused on the other and waiting for any sign of aggression yet hesitant to act himself. "What are you doing here?" the guard demanded in a gruff voice his pistol unwavering in its aim.

"Just out for a night stroll mate" Chris lightly replied.

"You picked one hell of a place for a walk," the guard said with scorn.

"You have an unusual line of work yourself buddy, just what is so important here that a medical company needs hired guns?" Chris queried, his eyes watching the guard carefully for his reaction.

The man didn't so much as twitch, "You may find out yourself firsthand 'mate'" he answered ominously.

His gun started to lower and Chris tensed in readiness for any tricks but the guards' attention was no longer focused on him, instead his green-covered gaze was switching elsewhere.

To a point just over Chris's shoulder.

The STARS officer realised a fraction of a second too late what was happening when a gun pressed against the back of his skull.

"Shit" he whispered and he braced himself for a sudden and painful death as the cold metal of a gun barrel scorched his skin.

Fortunately death was not to be tonight as a hand materialised at his side and a voice ordered him to hand over his weapon.

"I'll want a receipt for that" Chris muttered as he placed his pistol in the gloved hand that was quickly yanked back once the gun was taken.

"Get up!" Chris's captor barked and he carefully picked himself up watching warily as the guard behind him stepped round to his side but keeping a safe distance between them.

'What's up with that guy? I gave him one hell of a jolt with Jill's stunner and he isn't even twitching! He shouldn't be awake for another few hours at least' Chris thought as his eyes followed the previously unconscious mercenary.

"Doctor I have the subject under control, what are my orders?" The first guard asked into his earpiece while his partner kept Chris under watch.

Chris couldn't hear what the 'doctors' reply was but he was ready to make a lunge, however suicidal, at his captors if it looked like his execution was coming.

As if sensing his thoughts the guard who had been talking to the doctor waved his arm towards the barracks at the other end of the yard, "You're in luck Redfield, Doctor Birkin wishes to talk with you"

Chris didn't answer and followed the mans lead as the other shadowed Chris's steps, at the moment his thoughts were abuzz with curiosity, who was this doctor? How did he know his name? Why did he want to see him? And most importantly had Hank safely escaped and hopefully on his way to getting Barry and the cavalry?

'Just hope I don't end up floating downstream by dawn' Chris thought grimly as he drew closer to the barracks.

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Chris stretched and shrugged his shoulders to work out the tightness, the chair he was sitting in wasn't the most comfortable of furniture.

'But then prisoners don't usually get luxuries' Chris thought as he gazed around his 'cell'.

After entering the barracks he had found himself in a 'living room' of sorts, a simple rectangular room with the barest of furniture and six doors spaced around the room that led to individual bedrooms.

Another guard had been inside though this one was unmasked unlike his fellows, his face was clean-shaven and free of scars yet his ice blue eyes spoke volumes about his competence.

With a simple brown hairstyle and no other markings made his face unremarkable and unlikely to be remembered, something Chris believed to be purposeful considering his line of business. His body was bulky and heavily built with muscles, visible even under the gear and padded clothing he wore, but Chris got the feeling the man was nowhere near as slow as his weight suggested.

The same man had told him to sit at a straight-forward table and chair set-up and the cop had carefully sat down as the others talked amongst themselves though the armed man never took his eyes, or gun barrel, off Chris.

Chris only got snatches of the conversation but what little he heard made him feel they were surprised at his presence here and even his knowledge of this place.

While immediately he supposed if this was a secret base of some kind they'd be surprised at finding a strange man in their warehouse but for some reason Chris felt there was more to it then that.

As strange as it seemed his job as a STARS and status within alpha team was most talked about and it was this what was confusing (or worrying?) them.

Blue eyes cocked his head suddenly listening to a voice on his com, he then barked at the others telling them to stand to attention.

'Is this Birkin gonna see me now' Chris wondered as he watched the doorway with interest.

A second later a man stepped into the room and glanced around briefly before his eyes settled on Chris, his face sprouted a pleasant grin and he stepped forward, lab coat fluttering behind him, as he stretched a hand towards Chris.

"Chris Redfield! A pleasure to meet you I'm sure. I am Professor William Birkin," The strange man said cheerfully.

Chris took the offered hand and shook it while taking in the, seemingly, friendly scientist. William was of average height, slightly shorter then Chris but only by and inch or two, and quite thin, not to the point of anorexia but more of a few dinners missed in the heat of research.

His face was pleasant enough, young and with a nice smile but with a few more shadows under the eyes then would be normal for someone his age. His hair was a messy mat of brown fur and further heightened his aura of endless science and little self-care.

What got Chris was the mans eyes, they were a bright hazel and sparkled with more intensity then a normal mans and if Chris had to guess he would bet there was perhaps a touch of insanity, ('and definitely megalomania' Chris thought) in the mind behind those eyes.

"A pleasure to meet you too Professor, Chris replied politely (hey it never hurts), to be honest a friendly welcome was the last thing I was expecting" Chris jerked his head towards the closest guard for emphasis.

William cringed slightly, "I apologise if our security were a little rough with you Mr Redfield they are only doing what they are paid to do" he said apologetically. He then turned to the unmasked guard and ordered him and his men to holster their weapons, "I'm sure I am safe in the presence of a police officer sergeant," he said brightly as the ice-eyed soldier reluctantly told his men to disarm.

The scientist then took a seat beside Chris, stippling his fingers and appraising him in a curious matter; "Now Mr Redfield… wait do you mind if I call you Chris? Redfield is so impersonal?" He asked earnestly.

"Chris is fine as long as I can call you William professor" Chris said with a nod.

"Great! Now Chris I suppose it will be best if I get straight to the point… may I ask why you are here, sneaking into our 'supposedly' secret bases?"

Chris wondered how much he should reveal, certainly nothing about Hank that's for sure, "The recent murders in the city brought me here"

"Indeed? You hoped to find some clue here?" William asked in surprise.

Though his tone was mildly curious Chris could tell by the mans eyes he was hungry for information, "The attacks originated in the city suburbs close to here, so investigating the surrounding countryside seemed like a good idea"

Now Chris was the one giving William a piercing look, "Maybe it wasn't what I was looking for but I'm still very curious at the moment" he said with obvious question.

"Curiosity is something I can relate to Chris, as a scientist it is one of the major driving forces behind my research, the younger man mused. "But if you had wanted to find out if the murderers were hiding here, or had ever been here, you could have knocked at the gate and asked"

Chris raised an eyebrow in amusement, "Most people I've dealt with wouldn't be inclined to let me in and offer tea if I called at their door and started asking such questions William"

William smiling indulgently, "Quite. Still to answer your unspoken question no we have nothing to do with the incident and we are, in fact, very worried about an attack on ourselves". He waved towards his guards who stood silent and watching, especially the blue eyed Sergeant, "Hence the extra security we have had to employ here," he said with an annoyed sigh.

"Then may I ask what you are doing here William? And perhaps if you know anything that could help me seeing as you have been here for awhile" Chris said seriously.

"Sorry if it's intruding of me but I am a cop after all. Nosiness is one of our failings unfortunately," he added with a shrug.

"Come now Chris! Umbrella is only a pharmaceutical company, I assure you all our activities are legal and might I add produce a lot of profit and work for many people in the world. Surely our guarded nature is no reason for suspicion from STARS?" William said with mock indignation.

Chris tilted his head, his gaze thoughtful, "Most pharmaceutical companies do not hide their labs, neither do they conduct unknown research in hidden places… nor do they manufacture weapons" Chris said quietly as he met Williams gaze resolutely.

William shrugged, not in the least worried by Chris accusation "Umbrella is very rich and thus we can afford to produce and equip our security forces with the best arms they need. Would you want STARS to be an less prepared?"

"But what need does a drugs company have for such arms, Chris glanced at the guards around them, or for such trained men if they conduct simple legitimate research?"

"As I said Umbrella has powerful rivals and you'd be quite surprised at the lengths some of our enemies would go to in order to steal our work. Our need for protection is entirely justified" William said with a reasonable tone. However his eyes were narrowing in warning, 'you are beginning to try my patience' was the hazel slits silent message.

However Chris wasn't intimidated, "Nevertheless I would like to see for myself what makes your need for security so great" he said calmly.

William smiled again, but now it was as cold as ice, "You realise without a warrant I am within my full rights to deny you this?" he said silkily.

Chris nodded, conceding that point, "You are 'William'. But perhaps it would best for us all if we sort this out now then me coming back with all my annoying paperwork, search teams and disrupting your work"

The two men stared at each other, Chris trying to read the other mans now cold eyes. To be honest he hoped the guy would say no so he could come back with Barry and armed backup, this place was freaking him out big time and he knew it'd take ages for him to untense later.

But as threatened as he felt he knew he couldn't let this drop, whether now or later he had to check this place out. Something was definitely not right here…

"Well, William quietly said, I suppose your argument isn't without some merits"

The scientist quickly reached into his pocket and came out with a tape recorder, he smiled as he clicked it on and held it between them.

"Would you be as good as to state your agreement that you Chris Redfield will not reveal anything you see here to any interested party's for either money, or any other reward, without facing severe consequences as we, Umbrella, sue you for every dime you ever gain from present to future?" William said with a smirk, his face all childish mischief as he watched Chris intently.

'Except for his eyes' Chris thought grimly, "You understand that anything I see, whether now or later, I can't withhold from my department if it is of some use to our case" Chris said with narrowing eyes.

"Oh don't worry, we'll get in touch with the R.P.D later and get a 'gag' order on them. No this is just for you" William said with a bright smile.

"Of course anything that can help your investigation we wouldn't dream of censoring we would just like some… discretion from you when it comes to our private researches" William added placatingly.

Chris scowled for a moment as he thought this over, after a few seconds hesitation he sighed and recited his agreement. 'I'm not interested in bureaucratic crap, but if there's anything here that can help my case I'm not gonna pass up the chance to find it'

"Very good Chris" William said brightly as he pocketed the recorder. He sprang up so suddenly that his chair screeched and Chris had to fight not to flinch at the noise.

"Well then shall we begin our tour Chris?" William began to stride off without waiting for an answer, already at the doors before Chris had sprang from his chair and hurried after the scientist.

Chris came to a halt outside the barracks were William had been standing waiting for him, the scientist raised an eyebrow in amusement at Chris's slightly annoyed glare as the three guards followed silently behind the officer.

"You men return to your posts, sergeant you may stay with us if you wish" William told the guards. The two masked men quickly strode off into the dark but the blue eyed sergeant stayed, his eyes still fixed silently on Chris.

Chris wondered what the deal was with the strange man. If his gaze was angry, for Chris having hurt his men, or even protective, with him being so close to William, he could deal with that. The blank neutral look was all together new and a little unsettling.

He decided to take a gamble, "Before we go any further I'd like my gun back" he said, trying to sound calm and not nervous at being unarmed.

William cocked his eyebrow again, "Nervous are you officer?" he said with a smirk, obviously sensing Chris's discomfort.

Chris allowed his eyes to narrow into a glare for a few moments, "I don't like knowing whether I'm a prisoner or not" he growled pointedly.

Williams smirk became a grin but he didn't say anything more, he nodded towards blue eyes and without a fuss Chris's pistol was handed back to him.

Chris held in his sigh of relief as his hand closed around the cold metal of his weapon, he quickly holstered his gun but made sure to keep the gun loose… just in case.

"Follow me please" William asked and then briskly walked towards the central building, lab coat billowing behind him due to the cold wind as he started to fade into the darkness.

Chris strode after him his thoughts alight with curiosity as they approached the plain door into the large structure. Whatever was going on here he bet it was something big, and perhaps even tied in with his case.

'Though I'm probably gonna get the run-around in here but I might still find out something' he thought wryly as William opened the door for him.

"After you Chris"

Chris eyed him momentarily then stepped through the doorway, senses alert for anything.

"Gah!" he winced as bright light filled his vision and he threw his arm before his eyes, his hand twitched close to his gun yet he didn't draw it… yet.

"My apologies Chris, the lab specimens need to be kept in light for long duration's and it can be a bit disorienting when you first go inside" Williams slightly mocking voice said close to Chris.

The officer warily lowered his arm blinking rapidly as he adapted to the bright light, after a few moments his vision returned and he could at last make out the room within.

The inside of the building was hollow, with no other floors except the ground and rows of bright lights hanging from the ceiling. Around the walls were several booths with either labs or computer rooms within them, dozens of white-robed scientists moved between the areas, their tread purposeful and engrossed in their work.

But what was most intriguing to Chris's eyes were the rows upon rows of plants that filled the centre, the rows colour coded into lines of small blue, green and red plants.

"You're making drugs?" Chris said in confusion as he watched men move between the rows, writing on clipboards and occasional measuring or removing the odd leaf.

'This certainly wasn't what I was expecting' Chris thought in annoyance as William appeared beside him.

"Umbrella IS a pharmaceutical company Chris, were you hoping for something more criminal?" William said with a light chuckle.

"I was hoping for something more interesting to be honest"

William looked hurt, "Chris for a man of science these simple plants are one of the greatest discoveries of the decade!" His eyes returned to the plants now filled with pride, "They are one of my most precious studies"

Chris eyed him sceptically; "These plants are the big reason for a hidden base William?"

"More then a reason Chris. These plants are the next generation cure for almost any form of physical injury," William said with conviction as he stepped into the rows, motioning Chris to follow as he did.

"These plants were discovered a few years ago by an expedition sent here to investigate an old legend of Raccoon City. Though faded into myth it was rumoured that centuries ago the tribes who lived here had much greater vitality and healing due to a plant that grew in the mountains"

William's hazel eyes met Chris's as he smirked; "Who would have thought that the legend would actually be true and such a plant was actually found by those scientists"

He waved his hands at the rows of plants, "Only now, thanks to the advancements of science, have we been able to unlock the true potential of these plants and create a whole new range of medical treatment for various ailments" William said proudly.

Chris noticed the look in the young scientists' eyes, despite his likely annoyance at having him here William was nevertheless eager to boast about the research being conducted here. Like a parent showing off an exceptional child to another at a school fair.

"I assume there is some reason to the different colours? Different properties or more concentration of whatever it is that heals people?" Chris hazarded a guess.

"Very astute Chris! You have the makings of a scientist after all" William beamed. "Yes you are quite right the different colours represent three different strains of the same organism that grow in the mountain ranges. Each with their own special effects"

William carefully picked up a potted green herb, one of several pots that were separate from the main trenches of herbs, and held it up before Chris.

"This green herb is the most potential of the strains, which I will demonstrate in a manner I'm sure you will understand" William said with a slight smirk.

"I notice you were injured in your scuffle with our guards Chris" William noted without a trace of sympathy.

"Its nothing" Chris replied curtly. In truth the bruise across his cheek and forehead was sore as hell but he wasn't gonna mention that here.

"On the contrary it looks to be very sore, the swelling of the facial tissue would make even simple speech uncomfortable" William responded with only a slight trace a maliciousness in his eyes.

The plant was extended towards Chris like an offering, "Would you like to try a leaf?" William asked with shining innocence.

Chris scowled, he didn't trust William at all and there was a good chance this thing might be poisonous. 'But then if they wanted me dead they could have done it up to a dozen times by now' Chris thought and with a sigh carefully plucked a leaf, watching William suspiciously as he did, and placed it in his mouth.

Immediately a strong taste of mint flooded his taste buds and he scowled harder at the attentive scientist, "I hate mint" Chris muttered as he quickly chewed and swallowed.

William nodded, though whether in agreement or because Chris had swallowed he wasn't sure. "The effects usually take place in a minute or two, depending on the subjects mass and several other factors" William said carefully.

Chris glanced around impatiently as he waited for something to happen, the stares of the guards, several scientists and Williams manic eyes were making him nervous.

He blinked rapidly as a strange feeling over took him, he wobbled slightly as his thoughts became light and his head began to feel like it was stuffed with cotton.

"What the hell! You-you've drugged me!" Chris slurred as his body tingled and his limbs felt sluggish. His hand scratched at his gun and William quickly stepped forward and pulled his hand away from the weapon.

"Nothing to be afraid of Chris, some subjects feel the effects more strongly the first time they ingest the plant material. The dizziness only lasts a few moments" William said soothingly.

Chris rubbed at his eyes and clenched his fists tight as the room spun but, as William had said, after a few moments the fuzziness began to fade and reality stopped taking a roller coaster ride.

"You could have warned me about that" Chris growled as he glared at the smiling scientist.

William shrugged, "I made the assumption that as a police officer you'd be more resistant to the effects given your active lifestyle. Clearly I was wrong," William said, smirking openly and obviously holding in his laughter.

Chris shook his head and blinked the gunk from his eyes. That incident reminded him too much of his youth and the shit he took when he was younger, that was before the army of course and now he never touched that crap.

'Until now that is' He thought wryly and said, "It's strong stuff but you couldn't sell it in the supermarkets with effects that strong"

William raised a finger in exclamation, "Ah but that was the pure, and heavily toxic, wild specimen. The medicine we have made has been filtered of all the side-effects leaving only the positive healing benefits"

"Toxic? Healing?" Chris repeated wearily.

"Do you not feel it Chris? The pain in your face has gone! And even as I watch the bruise on your cheek is already beginning to fade" William said smugly.

Chris quickly pawed his face in astonishment, he couldn't believe it but William was right! His face felt a little numb but also completely free of pain yet still retained its normal sense of touch.

"That's… some good sh-stuff" Chris whispered in awe.

"Everything we make is good… 'stuff' Chris" William said with a smile as he put the potted plant back.

"You mentioned toxins?" Chris asked, once again suspicious.

"I did didn't I? Well its nothing serious just a few chemicals in the plants tissue that causes the drugged state, but the final product has those imbalances carefully removed" William said off-handily.

Chris couldn't help but eye the plants around him with a greater degree of respect. If they all acted in the same manner then perhaps the dream of a 'cure-all' wonder drug wasn't completely impossible?

"And what do the red and blue do?" Chris asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

William smiled, obviously pleased with Chris's new-found interest, "The blue herb is a powerful anti-poison and toxin drug that has been able to either cure, or heavily dampen, the effects of whatever harmful substance it is introduced to"

He pointed out to the red, "The red herb is the most curious however. Alone it has no effects whatsoever, neither harming nor aiding the creature that ingests it"

He picked up one of the red pots and Chris examined the red plant inquisitively as it was held up for inspection, the bright fiery colour of its leaves and stem were attractive enough he supposed.

"I'm sensing a 'but' William" Chris said knowingly.

"But when combined in a mixture with the green it seems to triple the healing properties of the plant far beyond what its quantity would be capable off. Even better when all three are placed together in a mixture it creates a powerful agent that can not only heal grievous wounds but repel the most virulent of toxins" William said with glee, his voice sounding awed by his own words.

Chris raised an eyebrow in interest, his own astonishment better contained then Williams, "It sounds like quite a breakthrough," he said slowly.

"Come with me Chris and I'll show you something even greater" William said enticingly as he placed the pot back and quickly hurried off down the rows. Chris followed and soon found himself in one of the booths that surrounded the central 'crops'

His eyes darted around quickly, mindful of the silent sergeant who shadowed his steps as he took in his surroundings. The booths around him were a hodgepodge mix of large computer terminals, strange machines that filled the rooms, files, tables, X-rays, equipment, and all manner of stuff that was beyond Chris's understanding yet instinctively his interest was pi-

'Wait a minute… X-rays?'

Chris quickly glanced at the bright blue-ish glowing sheets that covered one of the walls of the booth next to this one. The scans showed a skeletal arm and hand as well as a few shots of a person's skull, all pined up and with small postal notes clipped to them.

Chris eyed the X-ray of a hand noting that the fingers seemed deformed somehow. It was only as he squinted carefully that he saw that the bones that ended in fingernails had instead become great claws that sprouted from the digits.

"A patient of ours Chris" Williams voice said quietly from beside him. Chris turned and examined William carefully, his expression kept neutral, as William gazed sadly at the X-rays.

"He came to us for help with his… affliction. He was born heavily deformed and had been turned away by many 'respected' doctors and scientists before coming to us, he had heard of our experiments and interest in genetic research and had asked for our help" William explained solemnly.

"Is he by any chance the person locked in that cryo-tube thing in your warehouse?" Chris asked sharply, his question almost an accusation as he locked his gaze with the other man.

Williams smile had once again gone cold as before, and a faint twitch was the only sign of the violent rant he was probably itching to unleash. "Yes it is he Chris and I'd have you know that it could be considered harassment to spy on a man about to undergo an operation" William said snidely.

"It could be considered criminal to lock a man up in a warehouse" Chris replied just as harshly.

Williams nostrils flared as he took a sudden sharp breath of anger, his eyes narrowed and he practically hissed the words, "How dare you make such an accusation?" The man is being kept in that 'cryo-tube thing', as you so quaintly put it, for his own health considering he almost died in a previous operation. And forgive me if we don't have first-class housing for him here but I consider saving his life more important then where he sleeps!"

William panted slightly as he finished his outburst and then looked away as if the sight of Chris would start him up again, Chris had to say he was suitably shocked.

"I didn't mean to offend" Chris said lamely, at a loss of what else to say.

William didn't answer as he began to punch in a key code into a small safe set in the wall, Chris could tell that the scientist was purposely ignoring him.

The STARS officer was, for a lack of a better word, flummoxed. Williams's outburst had been so full of hurt, both professional and personal, that Chris' instincts and intuition were tied up in knots.

He had straight away suspected that something was wrong here, and with William, but after that outburst he was torn between his suspicious nature, that was still sniffing the air and smelling a rat, and feeling guilt for being suspicious of a man who seemed to care so much about the life of his patient.

The safe opened with a beep, William reached inside, and gently removed something from the safe, slamming the thing shut afterwards as he turned towards Chris.

His eyes were filled with zeal as he held out what looked a lot like an aerosol can to Chris, "This, he yelled righteously, is the big, 'suspicious' secret here Mr Redfield!"

Chris blinked at the change of his naming but decided to ignore it, he leaned forward examining the long green coloured tube with polite interest.

"First Aid Spray?" Chris read out in part confusion, part amusement.

Unfortunately William picked up on the trace amusement, "The label and idea may be amusing Chris but I assure you the product is nothing to laugh about" William hissed.

"Sergeant!" He barked, his eyes fixed angrily on Chris's as the muscled officer stepped soundlessly forward.

"Sir?"

"Your knife please sergeant" William asked politely as he held out his hand, his eyes watching Chris carefully.

Chris merely gazed back blankly, allowing nothing to show on his face as the low 'shing' of a knife being removed was heard and a very sharp combat knife was handed to the scientist.

"And now sergeant your hand please"

Now Chris allowed some perplexity to show as he looked down at the hand being offered to William, just what was going on here?

William tsked and eyed the sergeant in mild annoyance, "Your glove sergeant" he sighed.

Chris finally realised what was happening when the soldier removed his glove and again offered his hand, as William stretched the knife across the mans palm Chris watched intently as well as keeping his right hand free to draw his weapon.

The sharp blade of the combat knife cut effortlessly through the sergeants flesh, blood pooled in the mans palm and thick rivets flowed over his fingers as a miniature crimson rainfall pattered against the metal floor.

A testament to the blue eyed warrior was that he didn't so much as flinch when the blade cut his flesh, nor did he cry out or even wince. His features remained blank, a clear indicator of his pain resistance.

"Now watch Chris" William said in a hushed voice as he raised the 'first aid spray' can over the mans bleeding hand.

And sprayed hard for a full three seconds.

Chris watched intently but he couldn't see much due to the thick blood that covered the mans hand. After a few seconds William asked, "Do you feel anything sergeant?"

"The pain is fading sir" the man replied calmly.

'And here I was thinking he didn't even feel pain' Chris though wryly.

William snapped his fingers and held out his hand to one of the scientists who were watching them a few meters back, the man jumped slightly as Williams attention came to him then quickly rushed off to another booth.

'He looked more then a little nervous' Chris thought as he saw the fear in the man's movements.

The scientist quickly returned with a handful of wet wipes and gave then to William who immediately began to carefully dab at the sergeants' hand cleaning up the blood.

"Look closely Chris"

Chris did so and as every wipe drew away more blood from the sergeants' palm he began to see what should be impossible.

"That's not possible" Chris whispered in amazement as the blue-eyed soldiers completely healed palm was revealed. The deep cut was gone and only a light scar that traced across his palm was the only sign of it having been there, the wound stitched together in seconds what nature should have taken days.

Williams's eyes were filled with triumph, "Science can overcome anything in time Chris" he said smugly, "And with this, he added, Umbrella will secure its position in the annuals of history for centuries"

"How can it do that?" Chris asked in genuine awe.

"With the three species combined together in a mixture, and our own special ingredients too, the whole sample is carefully filtered of all its impurities and has the beneficial effects greatly heightened. Then it is treated and turned into a liquid vapour that can easily be put into any container we wish"

William held up the miracle product itself, "In this case an 'aerosol' can"

Chris eyed the can for a few more seconds before his detective traits kicked in again, "And can this 'first-aid spray' cure genetic disorders as well? Because I find that to be beyond even this drugs abilities"

"Are you again referring to out patient Chris?" William snapped.

Chris raised an eyebrow at Williams tone, "It had occurred to me yes, but if this spray could help that man, or woman? Then surely it can help a lot of people in the world," he said reasonably.

William relaxed slightly at Chris's tone, "Yes it could but unfortunately even the healing abilities of the spray can't correct genetic damage" he answered regretfully.

He waved a hand at the X-rays, "However it will allow our patient to survive far greater surgery then normal due to his condition, the healing power of the spray allowing us to conduct much more intrusive repair to his body without risking his life too greatly"

Chris nodded taking this in then carefully asked, "What is the patients name anyway? It just seems very 'impersonal' to just refer to him, or her, as just a patient" Chris said, quoting Williams previous wording when they first met.

Chris hoped his polite wording would work but Williams was unwaveringly steadfast, "I'm sorry Chris but I can't reveal the name of the patient. I'm afraid that when it comes to patient confidentiality the law is very clear" his words were regretful but Chris knew William was pleased at snubbing him.

Chris nodded seemingly accepting Williams explanation but inside he was fuming, he knew he couldn't force the scientist to reveal who the person was to him. In this case the law was working against its enforcers and Chris would have to find a way around it at a later date.

William made a show of examining his watch and then gave a heavy sigh, "I'm afraid the tour must come to an end Chris. The hour is very late and while I'd love to show you around more I really must insist that we be allowed to continue our work in peace"

"After all, he added, I'm sure your team is anxiously awaiting your return and whatever new information you have, and if this case is to be solved I wouldn't want to delay STARS any more then necessary"

Chris smiled back just as falsely, "You've been more then helpful William, I learnt a lot here and saw some very intriguing things that I'm sure will have me thinking about them for days to come" he said sweetly.

"Indeed" William replied dryly.

The scientist then nodded towards the blue eyed sergeant, "Sergeant Collins will escort you back to the gate Chris, hopefully next time you want to snoop about you'll ask for an appointment instead of breaking in"

"I'll be sure to ask for you personally professor, you made an excellent tour guide" Chris replied good-naturally. He followed the sergeants' lead as the man asked him to follow and wondered if the next time they met would William be as restrained as he was now?

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Chris reached the gate without event and certainly without much said between him and his 'escort'. The other man wasn't even looking at Chris but the STARS officer could tell he was being carefully scrutinised nonetheless.

'Whatever. I'm not gonna try anything and neither will he, I've got too much to think about to start fights now' Chris thought distractedly.

"We're here Mr Redfield" Sergeant Collins said calmly as they stopped at the checkpoint, a simple watch post and mechanised bar at the only opening in the wire fence.

"Right" Chris muttered as he checked himself over making sure he had everything before leaving. He eyed the bulky sergeant for a moment, "Well it was fun and all, we gotta do this again sometime" he said with only slight sarcasm.

His words had little affect on the man, "Please ask for an appointment next time Mr Redfield instead of breaking in and assaulting my men"

And now at last his eyes finally showed a tinge of anger, "Next time we might not recognise you before opening fire" he said lightly but the threat clear in his words.

"I'll be sure to ask at the reception next time," Chris replied dryly. Turning on his heel he carelessly vaulted over the metal bar that blocked his path and began to stride off, effectively dismissing the soldier behind him.

"Mr Redfield!"

Chris inwardly cursed and reluctantly stopped walking and turned, observing William as he ran after him clearing the bar with surprising grace and coming to a panting halt before Chris.

"Whew! Need to get in better shape" the scientist said with humour as he took deep breathes of air.

'Funny you move better then I'd expect a scientist to' Chris thought. Not in the least bit convinced by Williams act.

"Is something wrong William? Did I forget to sign out or something?" the officer asked wearily.

William grinned and reaching into his robe held out something familiar to Chris, "A token of good faith Chris" he said in answer to Chris' enquiring look.

"Faith in what?" Chris asked cautiously as he eyed the first aid spray William was offering him as if it was a bomb, 'hey it could be'.

"Why a symbol of Umbrellas faith in you Chris! We want this case solved just as much as you and to show how serious we are we are giving you this to help protect you" William said energetically.

Chris carefully took the offered container and jiggled it experimentally, "I'm honoured that the powers that be would give me such a gift," he said after he was sure it wasn't going to blow up, 'At least not yet'

William had a strange glint in those, only slightly, sane eyes of his, "We don't want you getting hurt Chris, a STARS officer is too valuable to be lost right now" he almost whispered the words so hushed was his voice.

Chris tilted his head slightly frowning at William, "Funny it was my impression STARS was just as much cannon fodder as the rest of the police force" he said with obvious question.

"But STARS have been ordered to solve this crisis have they not? And the quicker you do so Chris the faster we here can all breathe a sigh of relief. Believe me this is purely in the motive of self-interest Chris" he stated reasonably.

"And here I was worried this was a clumsy come on" Chris said amusedly, making a joke of the conversation while inside he was picking it apart for clues.

"Unfortunately I'm married Chris so you'll have to find someone else to satisfy you, William responded with a smirk, then, goodbye Chris Redfield"

Chris gave a mock salute and walked off away from the base and following the dirt path back into the night, all the while keeping his pace nonchalant and ignoring the eyes boring into his back.

He felt he'd have to walk a mile before he'd stop feeling the hard hazel eyes of William staring after him, thankfully the darkness quickly welcomed him into its embrace and after a dozen meters or so he felt sure he had disappeared.

He glanced back at the base seeing the distant figures of William and Sergeant Collins conversing with each other by the gate, he watched carefully but couldn't deduce much from this distance nor even guess at their words.

'Probably talking about me I bet… I wonder how long until someone tries to kill me?' Chris wondered curiously, not at all ruffled by the possible threat.

Thinking of such a thing though made him hold up the spray can in his hand and examine it more closely, due to the darkness he couldn't see much just the black shape of the can.

'Shod this I ain't ignoring it' Chris inwardly grumbled and he sat down in the bushes to hide him from any onlookers in the distant camp and flicked on a small penlight.

The can was simple enough, just the name of the item in bold lettering and various slogans marking it as Umbrellas property, but what made Chris snort in half-amusement, half-irritation, was the lack of any information on the ingredients what was in the spray contained within.

'Bet it would be the same with most of their stuff not just this' Chris though wryly.

Tracing the small, but bright, light over the can he frowned as he noticed the can was slightly longer then the one he had previously seen. Running his fingers around the bottom he scratched and pawed it inquisitively for a few moments until he found what he was looking for.

He grinned as his nails caught in a slight grove that curled around the can's stem and found that an extra inch had been added at the bottom no doubt containing something.

'But what?' Chris mused as he sniffed at it and pressed an ear to the bottom. He couldn't smell any scents normally associated with explosives and nor was the bottom warm or making noise.

'If not a bomb then probably some sort of electronic equipment, probably listening device or tracker' he reasoned. Satisfied with his analysis he decided to get Joseph or Kenneth to check it out once back at the precinct.

He sneaked a final peek at the compound, seeing that William and the sergeant had left the gate, and wondered if Hank had gotten out ok.

'I couldn't have mentioned him to William so for all I know he could still be inside tied to a chair and being question' Chris thought with a wince.

'Or huddled behind a crate praying for salvation' Still regardless the cop decided to do a sweep of the area and if he couldn't find his companion then hunker down here and wait for a sign. Oh and also to call Jill or Barry and ask them to check the city for him while he waited here.

Thus decided Chris rose from his crouched position and took a few steps into the darkness.

And that was when the shadowy figure leapt out of the bushes before him.

Chris reacted on instinct, grabbing the body and throwing it behind him with a simple toss he rolled over the stunned person coming to rest with his knees on the mans chest and gun drawn.

"Chris it's me!"

Chris growled in annoyance, "Dammit Ha- man say something next time instead of jumping out of bushes" Chris said as he holstered his weapon and helped his friend up. 'Almost said his name out loud then, be careful here Chris' the cop mentally berated himself as Hank cursed painfully.

"I'll be sure to keep it in mind" Hank replied a little ruefully as he rubbed at his sore chest and stretched his back.

"You got out ok then?" Chris asked eyeing the other man with relief.

"Yeah it wasn't a problem. You did a good job of getting their attention mate" Hank replied, "To be honest I thought I'd have to be telling your team that you were probably dead by now" Hank said a little reproachfully.

Chris shook his head, "I thought that too but instead I got the grand tour and got to meet with the head coat of that place"

Hank cocked his head in interest and Chris continued, "A scientist named William Birkin showed me what's going on in there, some kind of research on the plant life here and its medical uses. It's the real deal too"

Hank scratched at his nose in thought, "Funny, I got the impression a lot more was going on there then botanical research," Hank said with a frown.

Chris nodded, "Yeah me too. But it all seemed to be legit" Chris lied easily, all too aware that this talk could be being listened to by more ears then four.

Hank raised an eyebrow in surprise and eyed Chris oddly; "You sure man? I was certain more was going on there," he said in confusion.

"Trust me it's a dead end there" Chris said smoothly but all the while his eyes were drilling into Hanks, 'I can't talk right now Hank so please understand mate what I'm trying to say' he inwardly prayed.

Hank must have picked up the message cause his eyes narrowed in suspicion, Chris nodded with a slight jerk of his head and Hank scowled in understanding.

"Well guess I was wrong then" Hank said carefully.

"Hey better luck next time mate?" Chris said with fake humour.

Hank patted himself down and searched his pockets then held up a silver disk, "Well guess we both came away with sod all then Chris, but maybe we'll find something else out later" he said purposefully as he shook the disk slightly.

Chris delicately took the offered CD and stowed it away on his person; he then glanced around him deciding it was time to get going.

"Ok Hank I think its time for a drink, let's get out of here now" Chris said cheerily, mouthing the words 'Tell you later' afterwards.

Hank nodded then his face split into a real grin, "First thing you've said tonight that makes sense Chris"

"Watch it" Chris answered without menace.

The two men turned to go but before Hank stepped away he found Chris's hand on his shoulder halting him, "One moment" Chris said quietly.

The weasel frowned at his companion in confusion as Chris appeared to be collecting his thoughts, "I wanna say thanks, tonight probably would have gone much worse without you… so cheers for the support"

Hank shrugged easily, "Hey anything for a friend right?"

Chris shook his head again, "You're a lot braver then you give yourself credit for mate…perhaps you should get out of that desk job and do real work more often?" Chris said in amusement while throwing in a little lie too.

The criminal snorted in disgust, "Screw that Chris, I don't wanna get bullets chasing my ass like you do. Besides the bookish girls are much nicer then the rough squadies" Hank said with a chuckle, wiggling his eyebrows obscenely as he did.

Chris smiled back, "Suppose it's for the best. If you became a real cop it wouldn't be the donuts in the break-room that went missing but the deliveries eh?"

"You know it'd be true"

Chris laughed and clapped his cohort on the back; "Ok enough crap lets get out of here"

"Lead the way partner"

Chris smirked and strode off, Hank hurrying to follow, back in the direction of Raccoon City. He had to admit he was knackered but he couldn't sleep yet.

'I gotta tell someone about what happened here, got to get the ball rolling straight away' Chris thought as he wondered about what connections, and he knew there were many, Umbrella had with this case.

Chris sighed and rubbed at his eyes, he'd have to sit down with Jill and discuss it as his sleepy musing wasn't gonna get anywhere alone. He just hoped Jill wouldn't be too pissed with him waking her up in the middle of the night.

And inwardly he also hoped that his worried gut feeling could just, however unlikely, be wrong about this case.

Cause the last time he felt so nervous and tightly strung in an investigation it had almost killed him.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sergeant Andrew Collins believed he had made a good career choice when he enlisted with Umbrellas military division.

He got to use his combat skills on numerous occasions; usually against challenging and incredible dangerous biological weapons his employers had created and quickly lost control off.

That was why of course that Umbrella had such a high need for trained soldiers like himself and his men because an escape by one of Umbrellas latest monstrosities happened fairly often.

And that was when Collins and men like him had to face down and destroy these monsters, and risk a certainly agonising death, because of the company's screw-ups.

Of course occasionally a prominent scientist would 'accidentally' allow one of his, or her, creations to run loose on a rampage just so they could test the creature against human firepower and courage.

'And then watch with glee the end video footage of one of my men getting eviscerated' Collins thought with disgust.

It was megalomaniac men, not the monsters that were the true risk to any employee of Umbrella. Collins himself believed in the viral research Umbrella conducted and in the potential power of the T-virus and its spawn.

Him and soldiers like him had already been treated with small samples of the virus and the increased strength, agility and toughness granted by the virus were extraordinary.

Collins believed in Umbrellas dream. He believed that an army of super warriors could be made and that he himself, one day, would be on the frontlines as Umbrella took on the whole world.

A New World order… an end to the hypocrisy and corruption of the worlds nations and especially America. An end to disease and poverty, an end to war, the entire world united by Umbrella.

True equality… a future where everyone, man, woman and child would receive the blessing of Umbrella and become stronger then they believed possible.

And with everyone united not by blood but by the virus within his or her veins peace would become a reality.

But that day was a long way off and until then Collins resigned himself to having to obey the whims of men who were driven by their own need for power and not a dream.

And that was why when Dr Birkin asked him, in that oh-so polite and friendly voice of his, to cut off another toe he did so without comment.

The man strapped to the steel-operating table screamed as the big toe of his left foot was severed his voice hoarse and broken from almost a solid thirty minutes of screaming.

Sergeant Collins took the mans toe, squeezing it firmly to get most of the blood out before placing it in a bag on a small tray next to him. It contained eight fingers, two thumps and now one toe.

"It was really foolish of you Mr Carter to leave those X-rays hanging up when I gave explicit instructions for all evidence of the project to be removed from the lab. Do you know how… irritating it was to see that my instructions had not been fully carried out?" The soft voice of William Birkin asked almost gently of the man writhing in pain on the table.

"Please… please…" Mr Carter whimpered, his voice slurred with pain and now barely coherent.

Collins wasn't surprised that the man was having difficulty talking. He had already fainted five times now, 'once for every finger of his left hand' and every time the professor had asked with slight exasperation for Collins to wake him up.

This meant giving the man a powerful electric shock until he woke up screaming again.

"Mr Redfield asked a few very intrusive questions and I was forced to lie to him in order to allay his suspicions… you know I hate having to lie Mr Carter and liars in general"

"Didn't… didn't know… sorry… please" the broken man whimpered through blooded lips.

William made a noise of sympathy and stepped round the table gently laying a hand on the mans slightly smoking hair, the man flinched as William patted him soothingly.

"I understand. You were in charge of sweeping the lab of all evidence, clearing tables, wiping computers, and hiding files with only a few minutes advance warning. I can understand that you may have forgotten a few silly little pictures," William said calmly and reasonably, Collins could almost believe the man was sincere himself.

"I can even forgive the X-rays… after all my explanation was plausible and although Chris will search for information on the subject, Williams eyes hardened slightly as he shot a look at the sobbing man, and he will of course but he won't have any luck"

William leaned down slowly, "I can forgive all that Mr Carter" he whispered into the mans trembling ear.

Collins watched the visible relief in Mr Carter's eyes, though it was difficult to see as both mans eyes were puffy and black from the beating he had been given. The sergeant couldn't help but find the Professors polite mannerisms so intriguing in these situations.

"But what I can't forgive Mr Carter, Williams voice was now a sinister hiss, was you leaving an open file, a very incriminating open file, right on the desk below the X-rays where all Mr Redfield would have to do was look down and see something he shouldn't know of yet"

Now William straightened up his eyes as hard as a judge passing sentence, "If that happened he would have to have been killed there and then and the whole stars project could have been jeopardised… and THAT is unforgivable Mr Carter"

"Please… please!" Mr Carter's voice became shrill with desperation as he pleaded with the man looming over him.

"I'm afraid I have no use for such bumbling fools in my labs. So Mr Carter I must put you to another use that I'm sure even you are capable of performing"

The bound man watched in speechless horror as William motioned for himself and the sergeant to leave. As William reached the thick steel door that was the one of the only entrances to this room he turned towards Mr Carter and gave him a sickening smile.

"Fortunately in this case your skills and intelligence are not needed in the slightest bit Mr Carter. Here you only have to do something your body will find very easy to accomplish. Species all over the world do this at least once in their existence, whether in life or death and I'm sure you'll perform admirably"

The professor then locked the door behind him and Mr Carter was left alone in the brightly-lit cell, tied and helpless.

His hazy vision saw William appear at a plastic window to his right and the small smile and wide stare alone made Mr Carter shake with renewed fear.

"Open the door" Williams voice said over the speaker system and the strapped down scientist began to scream and thrash in his binds as the heavy steel door behind him opened with hardly a sound.

Mr Carter pleaded to the image of William but the other scientist merely smiled wider at his prayers.

Then he saw Williams's eyes move and focus on something behind him and a look of wonder and excitement come to the young mans eyes. Mr Carter froze as he heard heavy breathing and gurgling approaching from behind him and the shuffling steps of something walking.

Shaking like a leaf in the breeze the bound man slowly looked back behind him, his neck protesting at the action but his terror too acute to care.

His trembling suddenly stopped, his whole body ceasing all movement as if he had been frozen solid. His eyes so wide with terror and fixed on the creature that looked back at him with an almost curious expression on its ravaged face.

Pale milky eyes roamed over his body and the face rose and the monster breathed in deep, a horrible snorting sniff as it absorbed the scent of blood. His blood.

The eyes noticed that he was tied down and the creature's mouth split into a disgusting leer as rancid spittle flowed over its cracked and brown teeth. The excitement evident in its dead eyes as it stared back at the defenceless human.

Green gas began to flow from its mouth as its excitement grew; it stepped forward shakily its white eyes wide as it drank in the sight of him. Almost as if it was loving what it was seeing so hesitant were its steps, like the soft careful approach of one lover to another, the other bare and vulnerable.

Its hands reached for him, blackened claws at the tips and red muscles over the bone while its skin lay peeling from its flesh. The hands shaking with trepidation and a note of awe in the creatures' light groan as it inched closer to the human.

Mr Carter's trembling returned at the first touch of those hands, the slimy sensation making him want to flinch and recoil but the terror in his limbs and his locked gaze with his companion preventing all movement.

The creature cooed as its hands traced over his head, the claws running gently through his hair and over his cheeks. Its touch soft and strangely gentle and Mr Carter lay completely still, paralysed just like a rabbit in the grip of cat. With wonder one rotted thumb grazed over his lips leaving a bittersweet tastes of rot on his trembling lips.

The creature leaned over him, its panting becoming heavier blowing foul green air over his face as it slowly approached him. It licked its lips, like a person preparing to savour the taste of his loves lips, and its mouth opened almost as if it was going to kiss him.

The scientists' mind was numbed with terror and so was his sensation of pain. He never felt the claws sink into his neck holding him tightly in place as the rotted lips descended and bared the cracked fangs underneath.

Mr Carter died with the a pair of glowing white eyes etched into his mind, his last thought was that the eyes of the monster did possess a strange caring and even love within them just before they changed into bloodthirsty rage.

The final love between a predator and its prey… the love for its food.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

William watched with interest as the crimson zombie devoured the late Mr Carter, even through the thick glass the mans screaming had been shrill and distinct before the crimson had finished him.

A loud crack sounded and William cocked his head as the crimson ripped its foods skull open and began happily feasting on the soft tissue underneath, murmuring in pleasure as it did so.

"It's almost as if it was worshipping him at that final moment just before it attacked, William muttered thinking back to before it struck, what do you think sergeant?"

Sergeant Collins allowed a hint of revulsion to show on his face as he scowled at the feasting zombie, he had nothing but contempt for the beast and all others like it. He couldn't wait for the day when the virus was completely perfected and such monstrosities would never again degrade the image of Umbrella.

"I think that everyone loves bacon but I wouldn't want to be the pig sir" Collins said dryly.

William laughed, "Interesting wording sergeant and not without some merit"

The scientists' eyes then returned to their usual cold appearance, "And now that this nuisance has been dealt with sergeant perhaps we can now see what we can do about the other one yes?"

Collins nodded and quickly strode over to the security stations main computer, ignoring the zombies squealing as he accessed the computer and wondering, not for the first time, why the security office was connected to the feeding pens.

"Here is the warehouse camera footage sir" Collins said as he brought the small feed to full screen. Seeing the image before him he knew the scientist would not be acquiring a good mood anytime soon.

William took a seat beside the terminal and stared in silence at the security footage for several long moments, his eyes were hard and focused and a slight twitch in his jaw was the only sign of his rising anger.

"Who is that man sergeant?" William said quietly as he pointed to the small almost rodent-like man who was hunched over the crimsons' status tube, fiddling around with its computer terminal while Chris looked over his shoulder.

Collins took a long look and was oddly reminded of a rat or perhaps a ferret of some kind as the mysterious man turned to talk to Chris and he got a good profile on his face, "I'm afraid I have never encountered the man before sir" he said carefully.

"However, he added all too aware of Williams rage and needing to placate it, I would guess he is not a police officer, his clothing and bearing makes me feel that he is probably a petty criminal or private investigator Chris brought along"

William nodded already reaching the conclusion himself, "Sergeant I want this mans life on paper for me in a day tops" he said quietly.

Collins nodded, William didn't need to threaten considering his reputation alone was intimidating enough, "Yes sir. May I ask if you would like an operation prepared for this… man?"

William grinned and tapped a finger on the image of Chris's companion, "In time sergeant, in time. For now we have better things to focus on but in a day or two this man will regret ever sticking his rather rodent-like nose into my affairs"

"And Mr Redfield sir?"

William immediately shook his head, "No sergeant none of the stars are to be approached in any way. The project can't be deviated in the slightest and we will want the men and women of stars as fit and able as possible for the trial ahead"

"Although, William scratched his chin in thought, Mr Redfields attention will mean I will have to take steps to dampen his curiosity and also speed up our course in Raccoon City"

William stood up and began to pace about, face slightly frowning and deep in thought, he nodded after a minute and pointed at the sergeant, "Get in contact with Albert, tell him I need to talk with him regarding one of his guinea pigs"

"Is that all sir?" Collins asked.

William glanced behind him at the crimson, the monster had finished its meal and was now right up against the glass, its pale eyes hungrily fixed on William and Collins.

"Tell me again where did our other friend go for his dinner last time sergeant?" William asked with a strange excitement in his voice.

Collins thought back then answered, "A caravan park on the outskirts of the city sir, up to a dozen families I believe" 'women and kids too'

William raised a hand and gently touched the glass; the crimson jerked its head to the side and followed the movement.

"And while that created quite a panic the people at Raccoon are easily calmed by the promises of their police and mayor, even now they are moving on with their lives correct?"

Collins nodded again, eyeing the crimson as he did so, "Yes sir. People are already beginning to dismiss it as a freak occurrence"

The crimson mewled and began to lick and nuzzle the glass between it and Williams's hand; the scientist chuckled in amusement at its actions. "Now that can't do can it sergeant? If we want stars to be sent out into the wilderness quickly then it will take a lot of public uproar to convince them to move" the young man said with a disappointed sigh.

His eyes turned away from the zombie and fixed on the sergeants instead, the soldier had to fight not to frown as he saw the bright insanity in those hazel orbs.

"Tell me sergeant what sort of attack would get the greatest media? A peaceful and quiet street? A workplace? A park or club?"

William snorted and shook his head, "Such attacks happen all the time, the people will dismiss them just as readily as the caravan massacre," he said with slight disgust.

He tapped his chin in thought as his other hand-traced patterns on the glass, the crimsons head darting about to follow its movement.

"Show me a map of the nearest city blocks to the caravan park" William said in an excited rush as he stepped away from the glass, the monster within whining as he did so.

Collins quickly brought up a map of Raccoon City on the computer, magnifying it to the designated area then stepping to the side as William sat down and examined it. After a few moments the scientist grinned widely and pointed to a point on the map, "There sergeant, he said with satisfaction, that is where we will get all the media we want"

Collins narrowed his eyes as he stared at the small group of buildings that Williams's finger was hovering over, "Are you sure sir?" Collins asked, inwardly hoping William would change his mind.

Hazel eyes flickered towards him narrowing slightly in suspicion, once again Williams's empathic nature allowing him to sense his sergeants reservations.

"Is there something wrong with the place I have chosen Sergeant Collins?" William asked sharply.

Collins fought to keep his face neutral, he considered backing out but he was anything but a coward…. And he knew he had to voice his disapproval now or forever suffer for his weakness.

"It's a school sir," he said quietly.

William rolled his eyes in annoyance, "Yes I am aware of that sergeant, that IS the reason I picked the place for the next incident," William said curtly.

"An attack there will force Stars into action and with Albert and Irons nudging them in the right direction the operation should begin in just a few days"

Collins listened and knew that William was correct, if the monster were unleashed on the school then Stars would have no choice but to follow the beast back to its lair. The route helpfully provided by Umbrella.

But some battered shred of his soul cried out that this was wrong, that setting the beast on children was going too far, that no dream was worth such a sacrifice.

But then Collins had heard the inner voice plead with him for years now and he had yet to take its advice.

"My apologies sir, I was merely worried that being so far into the city we would lose this subject to the police like the previous crimson" Collins said neutrally.

William eyed him for a moment then nodded his head approving of his wording, "Fear not sergeant I will have greater precautions taken this time round so no mistakes will be made" the madman said soothingly.

"This will be yet another step towards the ascension of Umbrella" Collins said quietly, more to himself then his leader.

William nodded and spared a glance towards the crimson, the beast was now picking out pieces of the bloody corpse it shared a room with out of boredom.

"They say that the road to evil, or is damnation? Is paved with good intentions…" William whispered.

He looked back at the map and his grin was now a sick leer as he prodded at the screen with a finger.

"So perhaps our road to peace, to a New World… is to be drenched in blood?"

William sat in silence for a few seconds then shrugged and sat back in the chair, he beamed up at Collins and said with a titter, "But then what else is new in the world eh. Hasn't blood always been the fuel for true peace?"

"Yes sir"

Chapter 13.

A date with the devil.

Dreams.

Many theories exist on one of the most unusual activities of a resting brain.

Some believe them to be an images or representations of our subconscious desires. Others feel that perhaps dreams are windows to other worlds or even realties, while some think they are a part of a greater collective unconscious of humanity.

Of course the majority of people just dismiss them as occasional interesting, sometimes unnerving, usually dull. Nothing more then something that happens and that rarely requires any deeper investigation on their part.

But even amongst the cynics there are times when they awake from a dream that was so intense, so real, that they find themselves wondering for just a few seconds after waking which is the true reality and which is illusion?

They say that dreams can be gateways to another world…

But what about entrances to the world, and the shadowy inhabitants, within your own mind?

It took Hazard a few minutes for his brain to finally start asking questions.

He supposed the poster was interesting enough and the picture it showed had so far made him overlook asking himself the important things.

The dark image was unsettling even to Hazard, the scene showing a mud pathway leading up to the mansion, lines of trees on either side and a heavy downpour drenching the ground.

The whole image was set at night too, with a crescent moon providing just enough light to see what was in the world but creating enough shadows to give the imagination plenty of tension. The monstrous shapes that lurked among the undergrowth and could just be seen in the black windows of the mansion would be unsettling even in daylight. At night they were absolutely terrifying.

Golden eyes glanced to the right, blankly observing the reptilian shapes that danced through the trees and darted through the bushes, their evil eyes glaring hatefully out of the poster.

And now looking to the left Hazard tilted his head in confusion, not recognising the subject that coiled around several trees and was almost invisible in the darkness. The monster looking like a giant snake and although difficult to distinguish its body its blazing, and yet strangely compelling, eyes shone like torches in the night.

"Ok the scaleys I know but I've never meet any giant cobras so far" Hazard said dryly, at the moment more annoyed and confused then scared.

His eyes were then drawn to the mansion, immediately looking towards the second and third floors and the many windows that dotted the buildings length. Some windows were brightly lit, and the shambling zombies within were horribly detailed, their rotted limps stretched out towards him even over such a great distance and a hunger in their dead eyes.

In the shadowed windows only nightmarish creatures could be seen, horrible images of tentacles, teeth, claws and glowing eyes that drenched the walls and window framework around them with slime. It was as if all the denizens of the mansion had gotten together in an unholy orgy, and in the shadows had birthed a litter of monsters that highlighted each of their most disgusting traits.

Hazard scowled at the abominations for a little longer before his eyes rose higher, now on the roof of the mansion itself. Strewn across the turrets, tiles and pathways of the roof were great dirty-grey webs that had several different species of monster trapped within them. Dotting the webs were huge spiders, their many eyes and limbs fixed onto their prey as they drained the life fluids from their screaming victims with their huge fangs.

"I hate spiders" Hazard growled, now becoming a little scared at the madness he was seeing but quickly overriding it with anger.

He wanted to look away and for a brief instant his eyes closed and his head began to turn away from the this depraved portrait of natures perversion. Yet against his will his eyes snapped open again and returned to the poster, now staring at the very doors of the mansion itself.

He cocked his head as he studied the open entrance doors of the mansion. The great wooden doors thrown open revealing nothing but inky darkness inside, as if the mansion itself was the entrance to a realm of shadow and insanity.

"Suppose it's right actually" Hazard muttered in resigned agreement with the poster.

His eyes blinked and now they were focused on something else, something he missed in his last sweep of the mansion.

There was something standing in the open doorway of the mansion, a humanoid figure but far too tall and muscular to be a human.

Nothing but a faint outline could be seen in the darkness but Hazard got the impression of incredible strength and power in that tall frame and a cunning and murderous intent unrivalled by any other monster of the mansion.

He could see blades glinting in its right hand and after squinting realised that instead its hand was mutated into a great weapon of long claws instead of fingers, the bone weapons just as sharp as steel.

Even more chilling were the creatures' eyes, that like the snakes was bright and visible even in the shadows. They shined with a will long turned to madness by years locked within a cage, and were now challenging Hazards own golden eyed gaze.

"Freaky" Hazard muttered wondering at the significance of the poster and the monsters it depicted.

Lastly Hazards eyes again moved of their own accord and admired the tall, defiant figure that stood at the base of the poster. The creature walking towards the mansion, shoulders set in determination and a weapon in both hands as he strode forth to challenge the monsters.

"The way it always will be" Hazard said smugly as his other self prepared to face the mansion, no fear evident in its posture.

Hazard glanced upwards finally noticing the writing scrawled across the top of the poster, in silver gothic lettering the words 'Can he survive?' were printed on the poster.

Hazard snorted, "Of course I will, I made a promise to myself right Unity?"

Hazard waited a few seconds then frowned as no reply came from his friend. He poked at his head, (wincing when he jabbed a little too hard) "what no cheeky remark Unity?" he asked pleasantly.

There was still no response and Hazards frown turned to a look of worry, 'what the hell?' he closed his eyes and began to explore within his head searching for the familiar presence of his later ego.

But where the other voice had occupied a soothing and warm part of his psyche now he felt nothing but silence and cold from the area, as if Unity was locked away under ice or even worse completely gone.

The shock alone made Hazard flinch and break eye contact with the poster, now his darting eyes at last saw his surroundings for the first time. When he did all thoughts of Unity vanished and his eyes widened in amazement at what was before him.

'Where am I?' the question was finally thought.

The first thought that came to mind was that the room was just as large as the great hall of the mansion and looked a lot like a lobby of some kind.

The Tyrant glanced down, wondering at the strange furriness he could feel on his feet. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw it was just red carpeting, the fabric covering the floor of the whole room.

Peeking behind him he saw a revolving glass door and see-through walls that led outside, however all he could see through the glass was pitch-blackness, not a star nor any other shape visible in the darkness.

He scowled at the 'out of order' sign; a cheap cardboard hanging that was attached to the exit. He was tempted to smash through the glass just to find out what was going on with the outside.

'Should really finish checking this room out first Hazard' the Tyrant berated himself, feeling a chill as he thought that it should be Unity saying this.

Shaking his head to clear his fear he glared ahead of him noticing a strange stand, like a reception desk but not, stretched across the far wall and two bright red double doors on either side.

He cocked his head in perplexity as he noticed the front of the desk was glass and inside it was stuffed with strange coloured objects and lots of small yellow-white things.

He hesitantly stepped forward, his stride slow and his hands bunching into fists as he glanced around wary of an attack. The numerous posters that all showed the same image that covered the walls either side of him were making him a little uneasy.

'Bloody hell where's my gear?' Hazard thought angrily as he patted himself down and found his knife and crossbow gone. Where the hell had he left his weapons?

As he walked he spent a few moments trying to think back, to remember how he got here, but all he could get out of his damn memory was 'come back later'.

He was now close enough to see the desk fully and as he stared at the items in the glass, and smelled a strangely familiar scent in the air, he suddenly clicked at what these things were.

"Its popcorn and sweets!" Hazard yelled in astonishment, scarcely able to believe what he was seeing.

But now his suspicions were aroused and his eyes darted upwards now seeing a timetable hanging above the desk. The white plastic sheets saying in bold black marker pen 'Hazards Tale: Showing now' over and over again in ordered rows.

It all suddenly made sense. The posters. The bright colourful room in a simple shape. The timetable and the food.

"This is a cinema?" Hazard whispered in disbelief.

It was then his ears pricked as a loud flush sounded and his head whipped to the left, he had a moment to stare at the blue door, with the word 'Men's' printed on the top, before it opened and someone stepped out.

Hazards' face screwed up in revulsion at the creature that had just stepped from what he assumed to be the toilet. The creature hissing to itself as it straightened its uniform and hat, not yet noticing its gawking audience of one.

Hazard thought the creature looked a lot like an insect had gotten busy with a human and created the horrible thing. Its body was vaguely humanoid, standing upright with four limbs and a head, yet its skin was more like the chitinous plating of a beetle and its limbs ended in claws and reaper-like scythes.

Its face was anything but human. With bulging grey eyes in the normal place, another smaller two at the sides of its face, mandibles and a dripping orifice for a mouth. It had no ears just slits on the side of its face and small grey wisps of hair sticking out of its head in odd directions.

It was monstrous. It was an abomination. It was unholy!

And yet it was wearing a dorky red usher's uniform and a silly cap. The contrast of images making Hazard pause as he tried to work out what he should do, laugh or attack?

The creature at last straightened its uniform, or as much as it could considering all the spurs and barbs sticking out of its flesh, and noticed Hazard.

The Tyrant and monster stared at each other for a few moments, neither saying a word nor moving as they sized each other up. The slightest fast movements sparking an instant kill or be killed battle between the two.

Then the monster moved, its claws shooting behind it and Hazard tensed to spring, ready to rip the foul beast to shreds.

Then paused at the sign that was thrust into his face.

'Hi! I am the cinemas resident usher, food server and toilet cleaner. Please do not attack me, as I am here to assist you, the consumer, in your enjoyment of tonight's movie'

Hazard had no clue what to do now. The sheer insanity of the moment making his whole body twitch in uncertainty as he stared at the almost comical, ACME-like, hand sign before him.

"You're the usher?" Hazard asked, at a loss for anything else to say really.

The monster nodded and hid the sign behind its back, then quickly coming out with it again but this time the writing on board was different, 'Yep though believe me I could do without the toilet cleaning bit'.

"Really?" Hazard said weakly.

The grey eyes of the monster flashed and a fresh stream of slime splattered on the floor as it spluttered in anger, 'Damn right! I don't need to be trying to unclog the toilets with all the emotional baggage you put down there' the sign practically screamed.

Hazard blinked as he read the wording, the strange sentence making him think with perfect clarity 'the hell?' "Just what is going on here" he growled.

The monster didn't answer and instead padded past Hazard, the clicking of its claw-footfalls dampened by the red carpet below, and took up a station behind the reception, glaring around at the various foods and hissing to itself as it searched for something.

It ducked out of sight and more sounds of scrabbling and stuff being thrown about was heard from out of sight. Hazard raised himself on tiptoe, trying to peek over the counter before the sign made a reappearance as the creature waved it above the counter.

'AHA!' The sign said as the creature bounced up from out of sight clutching something in its claws and a relieved expression on its face. Though it was hard to make any judgements on its expression considering the face it owned.

'Whew! For a moment there I was worried that I was gonna be getting a kicking later' the sign changed to say as the bug monster handed a small slip of paper to Hazard, the Tyrant hesitating for a moment then carefully taking it from the monsters claw.

'Grab some food and drink for two Hazard then meet me in the cinema, we got a lot to talk about. V' The note said in a barely legible scrawl.

Hazard scowled at the paper then shot a glare at the monster that was watching him closely, "Who the hell is 'V'?" Hazard demanded.

The monster shrugged, 'Don't ask me I just work here, I don't wonder about the messages I'm asked to hand out or the senders' the raised sign said in a dismissive writing.

Hazard covered his eyes and took a deep breath to try and calm him down. God he couldn't take much more of this, where was he? What was he doing here? Why was here?

'And where the hell is Unity?' Hazard screamed in his mind. The absence of a soothing reply making him more unnerved then he ever though he would be.

Hazard flexed his claws as he glared at the bored-looking monster. He may not have his knife or bow but he had plenty of other weapons…

The creature shrieked as Hazard grasped it by the front of its uniform and yanked it across the counter so they were face to face, "You are going to answer my questions or I am going to tear you apart" Hazard hissed into those panic-wide grey eyes.

'What do you wanna know?' the shaking sign said.

"What is this place?" Hazard growled.

The monster rolled its eyes, the sight of four eyes rolling distracting Hazard slightly, 'It's a cinema… duh!' the sign wrote mockingly.

Hazard snarled and smashed a fist into the counter, the mass of bone, skin and sinew causing a very big hole in the desk and reminding the monster of its precarious situation.

"How did I get here? And when?"

The insectoid monster frowned as it mulled this over, 'I'm not exactly sure of the time but you came here probably about an hour after you fell asleep. Before that you were fantasying about that Ada chick again'

Hazard felt the rage drain from his face to be replaced with swirling confusion. He glanced around at his surroundings, at the posters and the images they showed, "This… is a dream?" Hazard whispered in disbelief.

The monster thumped its sign against the counter to get Hazards eyes back on it, 'Of course this is a dream! Though to be honest I'd consider this to be more of a nightmare myself'

"But… why? What's the point of this dream?" Hazard muttered as he tried to make sense of all this.

The bug monster shrugged again, 'Beats me. It's your head you work it out, I'm not being paid to'

Hazard looked back at the monster and slowly let go of it, stepping away and looking at the floor as his eyes narrowed and he tried to get a grip on his anger.

He glanced back at the creature seeing it hissing to itself again as it straightened its uniform, "What are you anyway? And what's your purpose here?" he asked sharply.

The monster fixed its cap and then answered with its classic raised sign, 'My purpose here is to assist you and provide a friendly face (Hazard snorted as he read that) to calm you while you get your head on straight about this place not being real'

The bug creature then flipped the sign round and fresh writing was there on the back, 'To be honest I don't have a name, nor do I know what I am as you haven't encountered something like me yet'

The creature shrugged again at Hazards incredulous look, "So I regularly make hideous monsters that look like something from a crappy B-movie, that I've never even seen! To talk to me in my dreams! Oh that's just great," Hazard yelled in astonishment as he threw up his arms and started pacing.

The monster frowned and quickly raised another sign, 'Have a care mate, I may be imaginary but I still got feelings' the sign wrote in hurt.

Hazard ignored it and continued pacing, after a moment he snapped out another question, "Where's Unity? Why can't I hear him in my head?"

'Beats me' the sign said.

Hazard roared and kicked over a waste bin, he stood fuming for almost a full minute, claws clenching and unclenching, teeth bared, muscles taunt and eyes blazing as he fought against his anger.

"Right! Hazard barked as he came to a decision, I'm here so I might as well see what else my crazy head has to throw at me"

He quickly glanced up at the timetable seeing that screen two was currently the only one showing 'A Hazards Tale', all the others saying the film had been delayed or cancelled.

He began to walk off in the direction of the movie when the bug monster shrieked to get his attention.

'Wait! You get free food and drink first before going in!' The sign said as the monster gestured at the food around it.

Hazard was about to tell it to stuff itself, and leave it up to the monster to work out what he meant exactly, when the thought came to him that he had never tasted popcorn before.

'Well technicality its all imaginary food so I won't be 'eating' anything… of course I had to have had popcorn at some time in my previous life to even know what the stuff is… ARRGGH! Too many questions!'

Hazard stomped over to the counter and scowled at the various foods on over, "Just gimme some popcorn" he muttered with as much menace as he could.

The creature ducked down, shovelling a heavy measure of the yellow-white fluff into a paper bag, it stood up and gingerly handed it to Hazard.

'Want a drink?' the trembling sign asked.

"No" Hazard said curtly and, turning on his heel strode off towards the film doors.

"I hope I never get a repeat of this dream" Hazard said over his shoulder as he opened the double doors and stepped into the viewing room, the darkness enveloping him as he the door swung shut behind his tail.

'Me too Hazard… I don't wanna meet Virus twice' the sign said towards the door the Tyrant had just exited from as the monster slowly faded away.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

'You know the buttery taste is quite nice… wonder how long ago it was when I last had some?' Hazard wondered as he threw another handful of popcorn into his mouth and chewed loudly.

The young Tyrant eyed the bright screen before him, the sheet that covered the wall ahead having the words 'Please wait for technical difficulties to end' projecting onto it.

Hazard sighed and leaned back in his chair, he had already given up on trying to escape and after exploring the small room for a few minutes he had decided to just sit down and enjoy his popcorn until something happened.

"Whoever this V is he, or she, better hurry up" Hazard grumbled as the popcorn began to run out.

He had entered the room only to find six rows of empty chairs and the screen ahead that had yet to say anything different. He had waited for about five minutes then had had enough and gone to leave.

But the exit had been extremely reluctant to open, no matter how hard he pushed, kicked or clawed at it. So once he found no other ways out of the room he had plunked down on a comfy seat and started munching.

He screwed the paper bag up and chucked it behind him then glared around him in boredom. The light of the screen was bright but only extended up three rows before being beaten by the darkness; the area ahead being so dark even Hazards eyes had trouble piercing through it.

Though even being in the light wasn't much better, the area was still covered with deep shadows and the floor was practically impossible to see, Hazards feet appearing to be cut off at his ankles by the blackness.

"God this is boring" Hazard said with a weary sign as he scratched his head.

Then shot up with a start as a huge 'five' appeared on the screen.

Four.

Three.

"Two… one…" Hazard whispered watching the countdown.

The screen went nuts with grey, fuzzy static for second then an image appeared on the wall, a little blurry but easily viewable.

Hazard squinted as he tried to make sense of what he was seeing. A bluey-grey liquid with small bubbles of air rising above it that filled a glass capsule around seven feet tall.

The capsule appeared to be in a lab. Various computer terminals, desks and steel furniture, as well as the grated floor filled the room along with up to a dozen other glass containers that were ordered into rows.

Hazard made a noise of revulsion as he stared at the masses of mutated flesh that filled each capsule. Like a great ball of cancerous tissue the things even had stumps of limbs and huge, bloodshot and pus-filled eyes that dotted their foul forms.

"What the hell am I seeing?" Hazard whispered as he looked at the failed, for what else could they be, experiments that were stuffed into the capsules.

"You're seeing your birth Hazard"

Hazard leapt to his feet as the strange voice faded into the gloom, "Who's there?" Hazard demanded as he crouched in a fighting stance, claws ready and fangs bared in a snarl.

The voice chuckled, though it sounded like nails down a chalkboard to Hazards ears, "My my aren't we defensive? Do not fear Hazard I am not here to harm you".

"Then why are you here?" Hazard asked warily.

"To show you. Look at the single clean capsule Hazard" the voice quietly ordered.

Hazard scowled but complied; he looked back at the screen and gasped at what he saw.

"Its… me?"

Hazard watched his other self float in the liquid, idly wondering why he didn't see it before, a peaceful expression on his own features.

The Tyrant stared at his own self in wonder, amazed by the sight before him. So this was where he was born.

It was strange… but Hazard couldn't remember much of that moment when he first opened his eyes and found himself in the labs. His first real conscious thought, that had any intelligence, was when he looked out into the corridor leading out of the room and felt afraid.

Hazard frowned as he noticed his other self begin to curl up into a tighter ball and a distressed look shape his features. He wondered what had caused it when he saw that the fluid in the tube, that his past self was immersed in, was slowly turning a putrid yellow.

Hazard flinched as the screen went red as emergency lights flooded the lab, making his other self appear to be floating in blood. He watched with growing alarm as sparks of electricity ran over his capsule and the other Hazard flinched and writhed in pain.

"Wha-whats going on?" Hazard yelled as he watched horror-struck his own pain.

"You are dying Hazard," the voice said with calm detachment.

"No!" Hazard shrieked as he continued to watch, he took a step forward, wanting to help the creature in pain, then realised how foolish he was being.

He snapped his gaze into the shadows, searching for the owner of the voice but finding nothing but darkness, "I can't be dying or I wouldn't be here now" he growled.

"Correct Hazard you 'were' dying then…but luckily for you someone intervened with fate on your behalf' the voice said with smug excitement.

Hazard looked back at the screen and almost jumped in fright as he saw his own eyes, now a bright bloody red, meet his own as the Tyrant in the capsule awoke.

Hazard watched himself look around as he started to choke on the poisonous fluid around him. Drawing his lips back in an animalistic snarl the other Hazard began to smash his fists against the glass in an effort to break free.

After a mere five seconds the glass shattered and the Tyrant within was washed to the floor with the small wave of fluid that was released.

The Tyrant lay curled up in a foetal ball, shaking heavily due to cold floor and retching as Hazard forced the fluid from his lungs. Then he arched up in one powerful movement as he opened his mouth wide and took his first deep breath of air, then falling back in a heap, temporarily weakened by his struggle to escape and breathe.

Hazard was mesmerised as he watched his past self's' eyes open again and look around the dingy lab, the bright red eyes wide with confusion as they took in the horrible sights around them.

'I don't remember any of this' Hazard repeated in shock as he watched himself shakily rise to his feet, holding onto the smashed capsule for support due to his shaking legs. The whole image so alien to Hazard yet he knew it was all true, that the puzzled creature that took its first, hesitant steps forward was indeed him.

His past self walked across the hall, his red eyes looking around but either not noticing the repulsive sights around him, or more likely not caring.

'Its not me… its something else' Hazard thought as he watched his other self rip off a chunk of aged flesh from a dead researcher, one of several that dotted the lab, and hastily devour it for nourishment. 'Its me as an animal' Hazard surmised as he watched himself reach the steel door and poke and prod the obstacle, sniffing at the metal and mewling like a beast as he tried to work out what to do with the blockage.

After a few seconds the animalistic Tyrant couldn't figure a way out and its eyes hardened as it snarled in anger. It released a roar of pure rage and threw itself at the door, howling at the top of its voice.

Hazard watched in awe as his other self effortlessly tore the thick steel door apart, the heavy metal crumbling under his frenzied blows. His claws gouging deep into the solid metal without any trouble.

"How… how is that possible" Hazard whispered in confusion, "I'm strong but not THAT strong"

The floor around the other Hazard was becoming slick with blood and the Tyrant realised he must have been cutting his hands as he ripped through the metal. Yet the deep cuts he could just make out in-between the punches were closing just as quickly as they appeared.

"The door was designed to hold back creatures like yourself Hazard. And having your hands shredded to ribbons before the door could be broken wouldn't be very helpful… so you needed to be able to heal faster then you were injured" The voice explained from the shadows.

"And you did that?" Hazard asked sceptically.

"It is my vow to you Hazard"

"Vow?" Hazard asked quietly.

"Not yet, there is more to see"

Hazard blinked as the picture returned to bright white static, after a few seconds the countdown returned and now Hazard saw himself again but in a different setting.

He was dressed this time, wearing the white coat he found in the labs and he appeared to be in the mansion now. Hazard watched as his other self walked confidently down a set of dusty old stairs and felt a lump grow in his throat as he remembered what happened next.

Though there was no sound Hazard clearly remembered his surprised scream; the screen showing his lips repeating the motion, as a pair of powerful hands smashed through the steps and grabbed him by the ankles.

Hazard flinched and recoiled from the screen as he watched himself fall down the stairs, a sharp breath escaping his lips as he crashed against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. THAT had really hurt…

Hazard saw his others eyes widen in terror and Hazard knew the crimson had just released its demonic roar of hunger. He saw the monster step out from behind the stairs and approach his fallen body, that terrible hunger shining with horrible clarity in its eyes.

"You would have died here Hazard, so great was your fear and pain" the voice said with a trace of accusation.

Hazard ducked his head and held back his retort, he didn't want to admit it but he knew the voice was right about this moment, this terrible moment.

He looked up seeing the pain and paralysing fear in the other Hazards eyes and knew at that moment all he would have been able to do was stare as the crimson ripped his throat out. The shock of the impact and numbness afterwards overwhelming his senses and drowning out the instinctual flight or fight response.

'I remember this, Hazard thought wretchedly, the sudden sharp pain as I hit the wall, warm fluid flowing over my eyes and face and then numbness, a cold that deadened the pain but made me so weak that all I could do was watch death coming'

"But thankfully there was another who is always alert Hazard, the voice hissed from the shadows, one who is always ready to fight".

Hazard watched as the eyes of his other self glazed over for the barest of seconds, then a deep blood red dyed the irises of the eye and the transformed Hazard roared as he threw himself at the approaching monster.

"Me…"

Hazard swallowed in revulsion as he watched himself tear into the crimson, his own face warped into a visage of pure rage as he matched the crimson claw to claw, tooth to tooth. His frenzied attack amazing to Hazard as he watched himself rip whole chunks of flesh off his adversary and not once even flinch at the wounds he was gaining himself.

"If you're trying to get me on your side then this is a poor attempt. I was confused earlier but after seeing this I know what you are" Hazard snarled as he looked away from the picture and scowled into the darkness.

"You know my name Hazard but not what I am to you"

"You are the reason for all my problems! You are the Virus that has corrupted me!" Hazard shrieked in outrage. His eyes narrowed in hate as he glared at the shadows, searching for the manifestation of the poison in his very cells.

"Corrupted? Corrupted you say?"

The Virus laughed mockingly, "Is the improvement of your body a corruption? Greater strength, agility, regeneration, senses, such things would be considered a blessing to thousands, no! Tens of thousands of humans across the world! And you dare call it corruption!"

"You took away my life… I don't know what I am anymore" Hazard whispered as he stared at his claws, so different to humans pink fingers.

"No Hazard I did not take away your life, a greater monster then me has claimed responsibility for that my friend. A monster we both know well" Virus said solemnly.

"But Umbrella made you" Hazard said in accusation.

"They made you too Hazard. Are you their puppet? Are you their weapon? No, so neither am I"

"So what! You want to be a friend to me too? Like Unity? Somehow I question your motives Virus" Hazard laughed as he pointed out to the bleeding, torn creature that was Hazard on the screen.

"I am your ally Hazard. I give you strength to survive in a world that wants to devour you. I am not like Unity, I am different, but like him I have no wish to see you die"

"Then what do you want?" Hazard asked warily.

"To survive… just like you Hazard"

Hazard frowned as he thought this over, the words and the strangely soothing reptilian voice were making him confused, 'I need Unity'.

"You tried to mutate me afterwards" Hazard snapped as he pointed at himself who was now being guided by Unity towards the medical room under the stairs. He hadn't forgotten the terror he had felt when he found that cancerous lump on his tail.

"It was an accident Hazard, Virus said with a sigh, you were heavily damaged and it was the first time I had needed to heal you to such an extend"

"But it was your fault I WAS injured so much! You let me get hurt so badly by the crimson!" Hazard roared.

"Is that what Unity told you? Well forgive me Hazard if I wasn't able to keep you unharmed while fighting a crimson zombie unarmed! This body is vastly superior to that foul creature but we are young still and not immortal"

"Consider the facts before you judge with such conviction Hazard" Virus finished sourly.

Hazard stopped to think about this, he supposed the Virus had a point but… Unity had been so clear about this alter ego, was Unity wrong or was Hazard being manipulated?

"And remember Hazard, Virus said cunningly, when you were so close to death who came to your aid? Me or Unity?"

The screen changed again and Hazard was bombarded by various images of his wounded self, his wide golden eyes watching with horror and echoes of pain as he saw himself ravaged so many times.

"Who helped you here?" Virus whispered as Hazard was shown torn and bleeding on his white bed. His wounds slowly ceasing to flow with blood and close as Hazard slept weakly.

"And here?" Now Hazard was lying at the foot of a tree, unconscious and with a large bruise on his forehead. The deep colouring of the wound quickly fading and then Hazards golden eyes drowsily opening as he picked himself up.

"What about here?" Hazard watched himself battle the reptilian creatures that had attacked the tentacle girl, then recovering in his room later. Again the wounds, which would have been mortal for a human, quickly healed with no scar what so ever.

"Who has been helping you the most Hazard?" Virus quietly asked.

Hazard didn't know what to think at the moment. The Virus was right but… he didn't know whether he could trust it or not.

"We are proud to have your trust Hazard"

Hazards eyes hardened as he remembered the words. He knew whom to trust; who had never steered him wrong, and who had always comforted him.

"Sorry Virus, Hazard said with resolve, but at the moment there's only one voice in my head I really trust at the moment. Trying to listen to two would just give me a major headache so I'm gonna say thanks for the chat but the juries still out on you Virus"

The shadows were silent but Hazard could sense a tension in the air and he prepared himself for battle as his eyes darted around wearily.

"Very well Hazard, Virus finally said, if that is your decision I won't contest it, I'll leave you to think about this talk for a little longer"

Hazard frowned as he absorbed the Virus's words, 'Ok I was expecting worse' he thought in surprise. The voice had been so calm and composed that Hazard almost felt bad for his earlier words…

"Well…um thanks" Hazard said lamely.

"But" The Virus snapped, 'Here it comes' Hazard thought edgily.

"Before you go I want you to remember my vow to you Hazard, that as your virus I will always heal you and strengthen you against your enemies"

"And should you need me… I will always listen and unlike your 'friend' I can act" Virus said with promise.

Hazard thought this over for a few moments then shrugged, "Oookay, thanks for that" he said lightly, 'I'm too freaked and tired to make any major decisions right now' he thought.

"Now! Hazard clapped his hands together, how do I get out of here?"

"You're already out Hazard, in a few moments you'll wake up and you can continue to do whatever it is you do in the real world" Virus answered dryly.

"Trying to get that female into bed perhaps would be a good idea, Virus said slyly, I myself think you could do worse then her judging by what we saw of her oh-so pretty body yesterday"

Hazards mouth dropped in surprise as he heard Virus's words, 'Wh-what? He… it! Thinks that I want…'

"That's none of your business!" Hazard snarled, hiding his embarrassment, and the blush tinting his cheeks, behind a show of anger.

The Virus laughed and the sound made Hazard grit his teeth and shut his eyes tight, 'Otherwise I'm gonna go ape' he fumed as he chanted 'wakeup,wakeup,wakeup' in his head.

"I share the body so I think it is my business, but do not worry, I'll let you chase her in your own way and I won't interfere" Virus said with a chuckle.

"So kind of you" Hazard hissed as he chanted louder, whispering the words under his breath too in desperation.

He drew in a breath as he felt suddenly light-headed and when he opened his eyes the surroundings were becoming fuzzy and hard to see, sharp one moment then dull the next. And then when he had the sensation of warmth on his cheeks and a light beginning top grow in his vision he knew he was waking up.

"Give my regards to Unity" he heard Virus call after him as he felt himself drift away.

'I'll tell Unity about this that's for sure, and I hope I never have to talk to you again' Hazard thought before his dream ended and he was thrust back into consciousness.

Back into that strange world he had left behind.

Chapter 14.

A bath time conversation.

Hazard sighed as he held his head tight and listened to the tense silence within his head.

"That's all of it Unity, everything he… it said to me" Hazard mumbled.

'We… see…' Unity whispered in a small voice.

"I didn't listen Unity! Hazard said hurriedly, worried by Unity's quietness, I told it to get lost really"

'We are not afraid of betrayal by you Hazard, Unity said confidently, though still in that subdued tone, we are worried by this latest move by the Virus'

'That it could talk to you in your dream, and keep us in the dark about it, has us very afraid Hazard' Unity continued.

"Afraid?" Hazard asked as he took his head out of his claws and looked ahead into nothing. 'Unity has never been scared before' Hazard thought nervously.

'We are sorry to have scared you by our words Hazard' Unity said quietly, picking up on Hazards unease and the reasons behind it, 'but we cannot hide our unease from you'.

'I keep Virus in check within our minds, but the fact he was able to communicate with you so clearly in your dream means only one thing' Unity said ominously.

"And that is?" Hazard asked impatiently.

'That the Virus is becoming stronger within us Hazard'

Hazard felt his head drop back into his hands as he let loose an aggrieved growl, ' if its not one thing it's another'.

He snapped his head back from his hands and shot to his feet, eyes blazing with determination as quickly began to dress, "Well! I'm not gonna let this get to me Unity. If the Virus wants to try and take me again then let it try, I'm not afraid of it!" he said briskly as he pulled a shirt over his head and dragged it down.

'It was being strangely civilised with you Hazard' Unity pointed out with a mental frown.

"It was probably trying to get influence over me in a more subtle way, regardless I'm not listening to some imaginary voice in my head" the Tyrant said with a disgruntled snort.

"Except you of course," Hazard added as he buckled on his belt and clipped his crossbow to it.

Unity chuckled and Hazard felt a smile tug at his lips due to the pleasant sound, 'I don't wanna lose that voice again' he thought as he recalled how silent and alone his head felt without Unity's presence in the dream.

'So what is the agenda for today?' Unity asked lightly.

Hazard grinned as he twirled his knife and sheathed it in a fluid motion, "Now I go find some pretty flowers and knock on a lady's door" Hazard said with a carefree grin.

'Oh god this is gonna be fun to watch' Unity laughed.

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Hazard poked his head out of the mansion doors looking around at the forest surroundings and sniffing the air cautiously, ears pricked too for any sign of danger.

'It is already noon… perhaps two o'clock? You slept for quite awhile Hazard' Unity said quietly.

Hazard frowned as he looked up at the sun, the bright light making him squint as the ball of fire hung overhead. "How can you tell what time it is?" Hazard asked after he looked away and started blinking to clear his eyes of sunspots.

'Magic' Unity whispered.

"Funny, my sides are splitting with my loud laughter" Hazard growled as he drew his knife, just in case, and bounded off into the forest.

The foliage quickly embraced him into its world of green and shadow and Hazard smiled as he enjoyed himself, racing past the trees, vaulting bushes and fallen logs and generally enjoying his own life.

'Do you know where you're going?' Unity asked suspiciously after around five minutes of Hazard dashing through the forest as silent as a mouse and as agile as a panther.

'Yep!' Hazard thought back happily.

'And where is that?'

'The tentacle girls house' Hazard replied.

'And you know where this is how?'

"By using my highly evolved sense of smell," Hazard said with a smirk as he sniffed deeply. This was one of the many things he considered to be a blessing instead of a curse, his incredibly acute sense of smell.

'Not that I consider any part of my body ugly or anything' Hazard was quick to reassure himself.

He had picked up the tentacle girls' scent within the mansion and had judged it to be a simple matter of following the sweet smell back to her home. It was due to this that he picked his way so confidently through the forest only stopping from time to time to sample the air and get his bearings within the scent-heavy forest.

'Its amazing being able to smell with clarity so many different things in the world, I can almost see them within my mind, the creatures of the forest, moving about the place in the past' Hazard thought smugly.

'This body isn't so bad when you consider some of the gifts it has'.

Hazard frowned and glanced about as the strange words filled his mind but he couldn't be sure if someone said them or if he was merely imagining them.

'What's wrong?' Unity asked curiously.

Hazard closed his eyes for a moment, 'It wasn't it, the Virus isn't talking to me I'm just hearing things. That's right. The wind and the movement around me are making me imagine words its obvious' Hazard thought to calm himself.

'Hazard?' Unity asked again, now with worry. Hazard was careful to keep his thoughts hidden just a moment ago so his friend had no idea what was freaking its host out.

'Its nothing I-'

Hazard froze in his explanation as something changed in the world around him. Though the forest seemed the same a strange… feeling… a sensation was growing in the air that Hazards instincts were warning was danger.

'Wait!' Hazard stopped dead as he finally sensed something. Quickly drawing himself against the nearest shadowed tree trunk he unclipped his crossbow, held his knife close, and with both weapons in his hands waited silently.

He breathed deeply, his face screwing up in revulsion as a revolting smell filled the air, thick and cloying like fresh sick it made Hazard want to gag as the air became polluted by the foul gas.

"Ssssssss…"

Hazard held his breath as an evil hiss whispered amongst the trees, the sound freezing everything around it as the very plants themselves seemed to be waiting tensely for whatever was coming to leave.

The Tyrants ears pricked as a quiet rustling sounded but a few meters from him and Hazard instinctively held himself as still as possible. His lungs began to protest as he refused to draw in oxygen but the young Tyrant KNEW that it would be a bad idea to make any noise what so ever.

His golden eyes narrowed as he stared into the bushes ahead but whatever was making him so afraid was in no hurry to reveal itself, yet while sight showed nothing but motionless bush and branch his other senses had more to give.

Whatever was out there it was big… really big. Smell and sound together giving him a rough mental image of the creature that was silently passing by him and he guessed it was probably more then thirty feet long.

Its scent, and the little sound it made, extended over a large area and Hazard was chillingly aware that only a few creatures had such a body shape and a terrifying 'hiss' too.

Though it seemed like an eternity to Hazards paralysed mind it was only perhaps a minute, maybe two, before the haunting presence of the creature faded away as it continued on through the forest in the direction Hazard had gone. Thankfully unaware, or perhaps not caring, of Hazards presence.

A final hiss drifted back to Hazard and then it was gone. Hazards senses waiting a few moments before giving the all clear that the terrible thing had gone to wherever such hellish things went.

"What… the HELL… was that?" Hazard said hoarsely once he felt it safe to take a breath.

'We have no idea… and we also hope we never come face to face with whatever that was' Unity whispered fearfully.

"That smell… it smelled like what terror and hopelessness smells like, choking and sweet like decay" Hazard said with a shiver of revulsion.

'We should leave now Hazard. Though it has gone this may be a route it uses often and it could be back at any moment' Unity said urgently.

Hazard nodded and rose to his feet holding his weapons tight as he looked around him cautiously. It was strange but now, with the sun overhead, dappled shadows on the floor and the almost peaceful silence around him, it was hard to imagine such an abomination of nature had just passed by.

'Whatever it was if we do come face to face I'm gonna kill it' Hazard thought with a snarl. Now that the numbing horror had passed a familiar rage had taken its place and Hazard wanted now to cleanse this place of the cancer that creature represented.

'It made us weak and for that it must die'

Hazard didn't know if that was his own thought but he agreed with it regardless. Shaking his head to dispel his anger he sniffed around for the girls scent and once he found it hurried off deeper into the woods.

'Perhaps the tentacle girl knows what that thing was?'

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'We told you you should have taken a left'

"Unity we're in the middle of the woods! There aren't any crossroads here to even chose between left or right!"

'Then maybe you should have asked for directions' Unity said snootily.

"Who the hell could I have asked for directions Unity?" Hazard yelled as he kicked a nearby log, smashing it into fragments in his annoyance.

'There was a zombie a mile or so back' Unity suggested with a hint of a laugh in its voice.

Hazard rolled his eyes and glared around him irritably. The trail had fallen here after Hazard had been chasing the girl's scent for maybe five miles. Now he was left in the middle of nowhere, in a hostile wood, and with no idea where to go.

'Perhaps we should turn around Hazard, Unity carefully suggested, we can follow your own scent back to the mansion then plan another route from there'

Hazard nodded as he covered his eyes with a claw, 'god this had started off so well'.

He had planned to meet the girl again and hopefully have a better second meeting, perhaps even hang out together for awhile, maybe get to know each other's names at least.

But now he had lost the scent and was in a foul mood again. He was also hungry and thirsty, (as he skipped eating anything so quick was his dash from the mansion) and he was increasingly aware of how much he was starting to smell.

"Well that's what blood covered clothes do when unwashed Hazard they go stinky" he mumbled to himself.

'There's probably a working bath somewhere in that big house Hazard' Unity said without worry.

Hazard nodded again and uncovered his eyes. He glanced around him one more time just trying to enjoy being in a world of green before he turned and prepared to retrace his steps and spend another hour trying to get back to the mansion.

But as he lifted a foot to take his first step his ears twitched as it began to filter in that the silence forest was not, in fact, silent.

He shut his eyes for concentration and after a few moments he realised he could faintly hear running waters nearby, perhaps a stream or even a river.

'Hey that'd be a result. Perhaps I can even take a bath' Hazard though cheerfully as he blundered into the woods again, now following his ears not his nose.

The thought of a source of fresh, hopefully pure, water was appealing enough but Hazard also wondered if this river could be followed alone its length and eventually lead to the same flow of water that was underground near the tentacle girls home.

'Hey it's worth a shot' Unity said in agreement.

Hazard remained silent as he traced the noise in an effort to find its source. He suspected he had been wandering for around ten minutes, becoming increasingly frustrated as the noise kept changing direction and pitch, before he finally found something worth the all the searching.

Hazard blinked rapidly and squinted as he gazed at the blackness before him, "A cave?" he said in question as he peered into the hole in a large hillside.

Hazard eyed it for a little longer then felt his hopes soar as he realised that this could very well lead to the underground sewer caves themselves.

'And to her…'

The thought was enough to send him striding into the darkness, his eyes quickly adjusting to the darkness as he picked his way through the increasingly wet rocks and slick lichen that covered them.

He made about five feet and felt certain he was going in the right direction considering how many little rivets of water were flowing down the passage and soaking his feet.

He glanced back at the open cave mouth behind him, getting a good photo image of sunlight in his mind before continuing underground.

'I may be down here for awhile… especially if I get lost' Hazard thought with a weak chuckle

'Unfortunately very likely'

'Shut up Unity'

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Lisa yawned widely as she felt her consciousness slowly awaken from a deep sleep, her mind pleasantly fuzzy and happily rested after a prolonged healing sleep.

The female Tyrant ducked her head towards her cuffs, curling up into a ball under her warm quilts so she could reach her hands. She lazily swiped and rubbed at her eyes cleaning the morning gunk out and helping her stay awake as her amber eyes blinked rapidly in the dark.

Satisfied that she could see Lisa threw off her covers, half-wincing in fear of pain, and sat upright on her bed stretching towards the ceiling as she let loose a content murmur.

Her tentacles stretched to their full length, a good two meters each, as she worked out the kinks in her body. Rolling her shoulders she also thrust her hands forward, grunting slightly against the weight of her cuffs, to stretch her arms as lifting them above her head was too uncomfortable to do unless in battle.

'And once again I feel as fresh as a daisy' Lisa thought with a smile, copying a phrase her mother said often, as her body felt blessedly free of any pain. All her injuries from yesterday fully healed and a comfortable tingle made her shiver and mewl, a side effect of all the natural drugs that would flood her systems for the next hour or so due to such an intensive regeneration.

She swept her gaze across her bedroom for anything out of the ordinary, more due to enforced habit then real concern as nothing would dare enter her home.

Everything was fine and Lisa gave a content sigh as she felt back onto her bed, quietly giggling to herself as she rolled about in her sheets.

'I really enjoy these moments after a battle… one good thing about my mutation I guess' Lisa thought giddily.

However as the memories of yesterday returned it quickly became clear to the girl that it was more then the post-healing high that was making her feel so good today.

"He said thank you" Lisa whispered to herself as she remembered that ever so warming yell that the purple nuisance did yesterday.

The relief and joy she felt was making her snicker and hug herself in almost forgotten excitement, her eyes shining with mirth as she arched up from her pillow and shrieked "HE SAID THANK YOU!" before falling back in a burst of laughter.

Ted was smiling too; obviously enjoying his owners' good mood, as a tentacle coiled tenderly around the old teddy and brought it against Lisa's chest who cuddled it happily.

Lisa couldn't remember being so full of girlish happiness. She couldn't stop her giggling as she kept recalling Hazards words in her head.

His voice so full of joy and thankfulness, his eyes shining with glee and a wide smile on his lips. It had been so good to see that Lisa wished she had stepped out from the corner and tried to talk to him again instead of hiding and sneaking peeks at him.

'Well perhaps today will be different, perhaps today I'll finally get to say hi properly'

Lisa let loose another happy sigh as she threw Ted into the air and caught him as he fell, repeating the action several times as she relived every moment she and Hazard had shared thus. True most had been during fights, either against each other or as allies, but those few sweet moments, such as just after waking up in his room, brought a toothy grin to her face.

She caught Ted and tenderly laid him down on the bed, giving him a chaste kiss on his stitched lips before rolling out of her bed. She quickly adjusted to the cuff, (it was now practically instinctual as she never thought about what she was doing) and began to get dressed and prepare for the day ahead.

She sorted through her limited selection of clothing, all of it greyed and ragged with age, some brown, some green, (the colour not due to rot) and one even a burnished red.

She paused as she held up the red dress and examined it carefully. Though aged it was still in good condition and the sleek redness and soft touch made it Lisa's sorta 'party' clothing.

She closed her eyes, indulging in a common fantasy, as she imagined herself wearing that beautiful dress in the mansion hall. Except now soft music filled the grand hall and numerous couples, dressed in equal finery, slowly danced around the hall.

And Lisa herself was amongst them and she was dancing too, her body though was free of mutation and she looked divine in her red dress as a faceless man twirled her around as she simply enjoyed the feeling of being held and dancing softly to equally gentle music.

With a shake of her head the fantasy broke and she reverently put the red dress back, no she couldn't wear that today, ('Or any day' a sad whisper said within Lisa')

She picked up another more familiar garment, one of her tattered rags, and held it up for examination. The dress itself was, naturally, ripped and torn at the back to allow her tentacles free rein to move. Covered in stitches holding it together it whispered a message of constant repair by Lisa over the years.

Lisa wrinkled her nose at the smell the rags were emanating. She remembered then that this particular item was what she was wearing yesterday when those wretched Hunters ambushed her.

'And saved by Hazard…' the thought distracting Lisa for a few seconds before she focused on the task at hand.

She sniffed again and with a weary sigh decided it was time to clean these clothes. It wasn't that she didn't do it often, unlike the other members of the mansion she prided herself on being reasonably clean, it was just she hated the cold boring trek through the underground tunnels to the river.

She glanced down at her own naked body, morbidly wondering if she would ever run out of room for scars on her pale skin, and sniffed distastefully as she saw all the blood and filth that coated her flesh. The soft candlelight of her room making it appear like blackened mud on her faintly yellow skin.

"Guess all of us should get a wash" she said with tired acceptance.

She glanced back at her bed and her lips quirked into a half-smile, "Even you, you little beast" the female Tyrant said with a chuckle as she scooped up Ted and put him in an old sack.

She quickly bundled her sheets and some clothing into the sack, threw a simple grey, (it was once white) linen shift over her nakedness and turned towards the watery passage between her bedroom and the rest of the tunnels.

She hummed a half-remembered tune as she waded through the water, the liquid rising to her waist and freezing but after so long Lisa barely noticed.

She felt a ripple in the water that was not her own and glanced down, immediately hissing in warning at the small snake that was swimming lazily towards her.

The thin, but long, reptile looked up at her with an insolent gleam in its slitted eyes. It hissed back, bared its fangs, continued to swim towards her, obviously intent to get by Lisa, and not at all concerned by the mutant.

Lisa watched it approach through narrowed eyes, the arrogance of its movements and its lack of fear clear indicators that it was young and had never encountered her before.

'Wish I knew how that monster keeps making these beasts' Lisa thought in disgust for the giant predator who was mother to this intruder.

The snake was within a foot of her now and seeing that Lisa had not moved it bared its fangs and hissed quietly, shifting about carefully before her as it prepared to spring forward.

"I'm only saying it once, back off or die," Lisa said, quiet and threatening, more annoyed then threatened by the pathetic creature.

The snake merely hissed loudly in response, its tone outraged at being challenged, and lunged for her, fangs dripping with venom, as it flew towards Lisa's throat.

Quick as thought a tentacle slashed across its path and a sharp pain flared across Lisa's senses causing her to snarl in growing anger. The snake hissed and spat as it chewed on the tentacle that had blocked its path, driving its fangs in deeper and injecting poison into the pink tentacle.

Lisa lifted her tentacle so that the snake was hanging downwards at eye level before her. Her narrowed eyes meeting the snakes as it continued to bite and seeing a dim, but growing, fear as the snake realised its poison was having no effect on the creature it was biting.

Lisa sneered at it, enjoying the stupid animals' primitive fear, before darted her head forward and biting deep into the snakes' length.

The snake let go with a shriek as Lisa's fangs easily tore through its flesh, its dark greenish blood flowing over the sides of her lips as Lisa ripped through bone and organs as easily as soft fruit.

The snakes' shriek ended with a gurgle as blood flowed from its mouth and it went limp as it dangled from Lisa's mouth like loose spaghetti. The Tyrant chewing hard to ensure its demise then spitted the rank meat from her mouth in disgust.

"Serves you right" She hissed as the snakes' body fell to the water with a small splash and floated pathetically past her. The girl watching it pass for a few moments then looking back at the water, tutting to herself as she saw the green trails that covered her lower face and began to wipe at them with her tentacles.

But as she cleared the gunk from her face a frown creased her brow as she began to notice something odd about her appearance. She stared at her reflection for a few more moments then her eyes widened in horror, panic and terror filling the amber orbs as Lisa's mouth opened in a silent scream.

With a sharp cry the girl twisted round as she lunged towards her bedroom and began to race back the way she came. The chains and water slowing her down but Lisa's panicked pace easily compensating as she blasted through the water, great splashes drenching her as she kicked her legs forward as she moved.

At last she reached her bedroom again, the ten seconds seeming like ten minutes of horror to Lisa. She darted over to her dresser; sweat mixing with the water on her body as she began to whine in terror, and with shaking hands reached forward.

And picked up her mask.

And put it on.

Lisa froze for a few moments as the familiar veil covered her face then, as the panic faded, her whole body sagged with relief as she reached forward with a trembling hands towards the dresser to steady herself.

'I can't believe I forgot it' Lisa thought in amazement as she began to chuckle, the sound occasional broken by wet sniffling.

She patted the skin of the mask for reassurance and looked into her dresser mirror again, finding comfort in the many faces before her and in her eyes being the only sign of 'her' in the reflection.

"Don't do that again Lisa" the Tyrant whispered to herself as she stared at her reflection. She couldn't believe she had almost gone out without her mask.

Or that she had actually seen-

'No! Don't think about it! I'm a monster and monsters hide their ugliness just like I'm supposed to!'

Lisa muttered venomously to herself as she sorted herself out then start her journey again. Wading through the waters she reminded herself that she wore the mask for a reason.

'The monsters won't be scared of a freak, the mask is scary not the face underneath' Lisa repeated to herself as she entered the tunnels.

She continued her journey towards the underground river hoping by the time she got there she would have blanked the incident out of her memory like she had done for everything else in her life.

After all she had been doing it for over two decades, a little incident like this would be forgotten in an hour or so.

"I'm going for a wash and I'll forget all about it" Lisa said firmly and she forced images and feelings into her mind to blot out the burning panic of earlier, imagining herself having a nice wash and coming out refreshed and full of plans for the day.

'Plans for Hazard… maybe have some idea what to do next about him' Lisa thought with mixed anticipation and fear. Well perhaps not fear… maybe just a little nervous?

Lisa winced as a drip of water fell from the tunnel roof, the stinging cold making her shiver and she glared up irritably at dripping ceiling.

"At least the cold's gonna make me forget" Lisa muttered, though internally feeling relief, as she walked on through the tunnels towards her 'spa'.

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Hazard whooped as he leap from the top of the rusted elevator, the air whistling through his ears and tugging at his hair as gravity gripped him and he fell in graceful dive. The cold of the air making him shiver for a few seconds, Goosebumps rising from his naked body, before he hit the water and every nerve of his skin let loose a shrill shriek of surprise as the ice cold lake welcomed him into its depths.

'Fuck its cold!' Hazard yelled in his thoughts as he curled up in a ball and felt himself sink, the force of the current pulling him back a few feet before he tapped against the rocky floor.

'What did you expect hazard? A heated spa perhaps?' Unity said with scorn and amusement, his voice shaking slightly as if he was freezing too.

'Well in a way he is' Hazard mused before uncurling himself and floating gently underwater. His arms stretched out at his sides and legs half tucked under him as he experienced the pleasant sensation of weightlessness. His tail waved like a long serpent behind him helping to keep him in place as Hazards golden eyes looked around him in wonder.

A few bubbles of air escaped his nostrils but he felt not the slightest discomfort as he turned gently underwater. Spinning in a lazy three-sixty as he gazed around at the rocks under him and the seemingly endless black-blue water around him.

'How long I been under now without air?' he wondered in amazement as he scratched at the floor with his taloned feet, watching with interest the smoky silt that drifted up with the action and the tiny fish that darted away from their hiding places.

'We believe that the Virus gives you a much greater ability to store oxygen within your lungs' Unity said with careful consideration as Hazard began to swim around excitedly.

'Hey! Watch this' Hazard thought and curled up slightly before pushing forward with all the strength of his limbs and with a powerful flick of his tail. His eyes shone with delight as he shot forward like a bullet from a gun, his powerful thrust propelling him through the water for a good distance before he started stroking again.

'This is great!' Hazard swam in long circles as he experienced the joy of swimming, the cold of the water no longer a concern as he danced around as gracefully as a dolphin within the water.

'Just be careful for anything in here ok? We don't know what predators exist in the waters here' Unity said warningly.

Hazard flipped under the water, quickly changing direction with a powerful thrust of his tail before executing a flawless twist and spinning to face an imaginary assailant, 'Let them come' Hazard thought brazenly as he flexed his claws and slashed them through the water.

'Do not get overconfident Hazard. Remember the crimson' Unity said gravely.

Hazard scowled as he remembered the stairs and pouted as he spun round and swam slowly backwards, 'You're no fun' he mentally whined.

Unity chuckled, 'why do we need to be funny when you do all the entertainment for us?'

Hazard laughed, and immediately regretted it as water poured into his mouth. He quickly expelled the fluid and clamped down hard on what oxygen was left in his lungs but now he was beginning to feel tight in the chest.

'Perhaps its time to surface?' Unity said dryly as Hazard choked.

'Ya think?' Hazard bunched up again and did another 'super tail-thrust!' as he called it and very soon he broke the surface of the water and took a deep, oh so sweet breath of fresh air.

Wiping at his eyes and paddling to keep himself afloat the young Tyrant looked around him still feeling a little strange being back in this place. But then he had told himself he would have to come back here at some point hadn't he?

After entering the cave in the forest he had followed the watery tunnel he had entered for almost an hour, going deeper and deeper into the darkness and tracing the steadily rising stream of water at his feet.

'Good thing I can sort of see in the dark or I'd have been terrified' Hazard thought with a shiver as he remembered the fearful silence of that long tunnel.

'And he was blessed with eyes of gold, Unity quoted, and against those eyes the darkness had no power. Fleeing back before the light that shone from those glowing orbs'

Hazard tilted his head, mentally peering at Unity, 'Where'd you… I… read that?' he asked.

'Just made it up now' Unity answered with a chuckle.

Hazard rolled his eyes before looking up above at the large hole in the ceiling that a steady stream of water fell from. Though it was tiny compared to the massive waterfall that fed the lake hazard was swimming in the current of that was enough to have dragged hazard down here.

The Tyrant clicked his tongue as he recalled considering turning round and heading back to daylight before he had put a foot down wrong and slipped into the stream, his curse cut off by the rush of water as the stream eagerly claimed him within its wet embrace.

'It was a little awkward to walk through but I never guessed its current had grown to such an extent by then' Hazard thought with embarrassment. After slipping into the stream, which at that point was waist high, he had been effortlessly swept away and any attempt to right himself and stand had been squashed by the roaring water.

Thankfully Hazard only suffered a few seconds of panic before he reached the hole and fell down into the underground cavern. His screaming entrance now making him grimace as he imagined what it must have looked like to anyone who saw. A peaceful underground lake, its tranquil waterfalls and roaring waters, and then some strange screaming creature falling from the ceiling and breaking the spell of serenity.

'Well next time we'll remember the current' Unity said dismissively as Hazard began to swim small circles of the water surface.

"Suppose its good my clothes already got soaked or I might have reconsidered having a bath, considering how COLD this water is" Hazard said ruefully as he glanced back at the wooden platform, the landing site for the elevator between the two sewer levels, and seeing his clothes hanging up on an old rusted cable slowly drying.

'You're not feeling the cold now Hazard' Unity pointed out and Hazard just grunted in reply.

The Tyrant studied the surrounding areas for a few moments checking for enemies, also wondering if perhaps the tentacle girl would come by, before deciding to take another dive.

'Hey if she comes then hopefully the weirdness of our situation might make her ease up a bit' Hazard considered as he disappeared under the water with a flick of his tail.

'Now, Hazard though with a fanged grin, just how fast are those fish?'

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Lisa sighed in relief as she entered her 'washroom', the underground cave long being a place for her to wash, drink, and see to other bodily needs.

She breathed deep of the misty air enjoying the cleansing feeling of water vapour in her lungs clearing away the gunk in her throat.

She stepped into the room, her eyes glancing momentarily at the ancient elevator, before she walked across the platform heading towards the lower level and the shallow pool of water that grew there.

She went by without noticing the new features in the room, the clothes hanging nearby the elevator and the hazy creature that raced around under the water were overlooked by Lisa's, normally, hyper sensitive sixth sense.

'What am I gonna do later? Should I visit him or go on with my usual routine?' Lisa thought in turmoil.

She knew after what happened yesterday she needed to make her mark again on the Hunters. To remind them just who was the dominant creature of this area and to stay the hell out of her domain. After all they had wounded her quiet badly yesterday and she couldn't risk them getting the idea that she was no longer the invincible predator that they feared.

'But should I see him while I'm on patrol?' Lisa wondered as she reached her 'pool'. The 'pool' was a small bath of water ringed by rocks that was on the edge of the river leading off of the lake down further underground. Thus creating a stable pool with no current yet was still fresh and clean due to the water that gently flowed through it.

She opened her ragged sack of clothes and hummed to herself as she dipped them into the water, the clear liquid clouding over as dirt and blood came free. Though without soap, (Which she ran out of over a year ago) it would take a lot of scrubbing to get the entire dirt off.

She picked up Ted and clicked her tongue as she saw the blood that had dried over him when she cuddled him in the night, "Look at you! All dirty and smelly. Well time to scrub and get you all pretty!" Lisa cooed as she kissed the doll.

She licked her lips, ('blood shouldn't be wasted whether mine or another's' she thought sagely) before lifting her arms and reaching for the hem of her shift with her tentacles. If she was going to take the next hour cleaning her clothes and friend then she should wash herself too!

It was only common sense after all.

The shift came free without trouble and Lisa didn't even shiver as her naked flesh was bared to the cold air and cool rocks she sat on. Her body long since accustomed to being uncomfortable for a long duration.

She sighed as she dipped her feet into the water, the cold liquid soothing her aching soles, and with barely a sound, and barely a ripple, she slipped into the water so that it covered her up to her shoulders.

Her veil of faces billowed around her as the water tugged it in different directions, its pulls like the soft touch of a meek child on a mother's skirt. Yet Lisa didn't dare remove it and she made sure to keep it clamped onto her head when she submerged her face to wash herself.

She spent maybe a minute just gently running her tentacles over herself with a cleaning scrap she brought with her, the course rag scratching her skin in a pleasant way as it removed clouds of reddish-brown dirt into the water, before her dulled senses finally began to growl as they sniffed the air and found something foreign.

Her amber eyes narrowed in suspicion, as she smelled a strangely familiar scent in the air. Her eyes darted around warily before they stopped on a line of clothes hanging on the elevator above her.

'They weren't there before' Lisa thought in alarm as she grabbed a floating dress and clutched it to her chest as her tentacles rose for battle. She began to slowly turn glaring around, peering into the shadows and rocky crevices for foes, and all the while thinking 'those clothes look familiar…'

She almost shrieked as a great fountain of water sprayed from the main lake on the other side of the platform across from her and her tentacles immediately scooped up several heavy rocks and held them ready. She scowled at the dissipating water waiting for whatever was there to be revealed so she could take a clear shot at the intruder.

A creature began to materialise as the water subsided and Lisa hefted a rock and snarled in outrage, 'Whatever it is it's gonna have a hole put in its skull!' she thought in a murderous rage.

Yet as Lisa reared her tentacle back to throw the creature before her turned, Lisa at last realising its skin was purple coloured, and its golden eyes were now resting on hers.

Those eyes showed confusion at first, not quite sure what they were seeing, then they widened in astonishment, and a little embarrassment, as they recognised Lisa.

The creature released a startled shriek as it sank under the water again, Lisa dimly understanding it was due to its own frozen state, and then quickly came up again, this time gently kicking to stay afloat. Its startled eyes still wide with amazement as they gazing back at her, slowly slipping down to stare wide-eyed at her bare breasts before snapping back to her eyes with a guilty expression.

Lisa knew she should be feeling anger at this point but she too was completely frozen, her tentacles shaking nervously as she stared back at those golden eyes that had captured her. She felt herself shiver and then remembered that her upper body had rose from the water so she could get a clear shot at the creature and that now her bare chest was easily viewable.

She felt the temperature under her mask reach boiling point, and she swore she could hear the hiss of steam rising from her mask as her cheeks burned bright pink in a panicked blush.

The other creature was blushing too, a strangely sweet pink tinge to his cheeks, as his eyes locked onto hers, his face visibly twitching with the urge to glance down again but fighting against it with all his resolve.

At last he cleared his throat and raised his claw in a little wave, "Hi?" Hazard said in a choked voice.

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Hazard erupted from the water with one powerful thrust of his tail and imagined himself as some kind of leviathan with the amount of water that burst into the air around him.

His lungs were burning but the heat quickly faded as Hazard opened his mouth wide and took a deep, cleansing breath of oxygen while still in mid-leap before crashing back down into the water.

'THREE MINUTES! I CAN STAY UNDER FOR THREE MINUTES!' Hazard shrieked in his mind, the euphoria of the accomplishment, and the light-headedness, making him giddy with joy as he broke surface again and wiped water from his eyes.

'I doubt we were meant to be an underwater weapon Hazard but your oxygen holding capacity is still very impressive' Unity said with a chuckle.

'Isn't it! Man swimming is great! I gotta come here every day if I can' Hazard thought happily as he cleared outs his eyes and blinked the last of the water out of them.

He coughed up some water, ('Yuck' Unity mock vomited) and decided that now was probably the right time to leave considering how wrinkled his skin was getting, 'It looks like a shrivelled lemon skin' Hazard thought in amusement.

He turned around deciding to head for the lower platform behind him, ('well it IS the only way out of this lake without scaling the cavern walls') but before he had made even one stroke in that direction he saw I sight so amazing that he froze completely.

And then choked as he went under the water, quickly kicking back to the surface and coughing up water before looking back at the amazing thing. This time remembering to tread water instead of sinking.

'Its… its her…' Hazard thought numbly as he stared at the tentacle girl who was also in the water on the other side of the platform. Completely naked except for the mask she wore and holding several rocks in her tentacles that she looked ready to throw.

Hazard felt the urge to dodge or babble apologies to prevent her from braining him with a well-aimed rock but all power of speech had left him and all he could do was stare back at her.

His eyes searched for hers amongst the horror of her veil, (Again Hazard felt no revulsion or fear as he looked over the mask, he simply ignored it) and he wasn't surprised to see that her amber eyes were wide too with astonishment, surprise, and just a hint of fear.

She was trembling and Hazard began to assemble some words in his mind to say to calm her down. The last thing he wanted was to scare her.

'Look down'

Hazards eyes dropped without realising and again his mind went blank with a 'guhhh…' as he saw the perfect breasts that rose from the water, rising and falling with a mesmerising tremble as the tentacle girl breathed.

They were just as beautiful as he remembered, perhaps more so as small droplets of glowing water dripped down the pink flesh, small and rounded, proudly pert and topped with hard pink nipples. They-were-perfect. Perfection personified.

'Hazard what are you doing? If you ogle her any longer she's going to kill us!' Unity shouted in accusation.

Hazard quickly snapped his gaze back to eye level and tried to fight back the guilty blush from his cheeks. Thankfully there wasn't any anger in the girls amber eyes just numb embarrassment.

'Oh crap, what do I do? What do I say?' Hazard thought in turmoil.

He thought faster then he ever had. In the next second several clear and concise sentences, each stating his apology for interrupting her bathing, for what else could she be here for? Were constructed and Hazard opened his mouth to spin a work of vocal art.

"Hi?" Hazard said in a weak whisper.

'That's it? Oh we are SO dead' Unity said fatalistically.

For a moment nothing happened. The girls' eyes remained as stolid and blank as before and Hazard began to fear something was really wrong with her.

But then the slight tremble in her body grew to a fierce shaking, a tremor of growing rage, and the amber eyes within the veil blazed with rising indignation.

She moved so fast that he barely dodged in time. Throwing the largest rock she carried at him with a shrill yell of outrage that was answered by Hazards scream as he splashed out of its way.

"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT FOR?" Hazard roared as he kept thinking, 'if that rock hit my head I'd be dead now'.

The girls shoulders were rising and falling rapidly, (and so were her VERY distracting breasts) as she fought to keep her anger in control.

"What-are-you-doing-here!" she forced out through grinding teeth.

Hazard waved a hand at the lake they were both in; "I was having a swim and a wash until big rocks started falling from the sky"

Lisa thrust a tentacle accusingly at him, "You were spying on me!" she shrieked furiously.

Hazard blushed but met her smouldering glare with his own, "Hey I've been here for at least twenty minutes now. If anyone's spying its you" he countered.

The girl glared at him for a few more seconds before she huffed and sat down again hiding all but her head and shoulders from Hazards view, (Which were both a blessing and a curse to him) she turned her back on him and went back to cleaning her clothes, effectively dismissing him.

Hazard blinked at the sudden change in behaviour, 'ok that was weird' he thought in confusion.

'I think you've been dismissed Hazard' Unity said lightly.

"Hell with that" Hazard muttered, and noticed the girls head turn slightly then studiously return to her work.

He began to carefully swim forward keeping silent as he approached the platform between them. As he got closer he saw her shoulders stiffen in growing agitation and her hands scrub harder at the wet clothes around her.

Hazard propped his arms onto the platform, crossing them and resting his head on them as he gazed over at the silent girl. She was barely three meters away and Hazard had to stamp down the urge to just climb onto the platform and jump into her side of the pool.

'And if you did she'd probably kill you' Unity warned.

Hazard began to pick at the platform, digging a claw into the wood as he burrowed into it his whole manner nonchalant as he focused on his action.

"Thanks for returning my knife to me" Hazard said off-handily.

The girl remained silent.

"That water was pretty sweet too. Did you get it from here or is there another spring nearby?"

More silence but tension was growing in her shoulders.

Hazard grinned as his claw dug a groove into the wood, "So do other monsters come here or is this place used only by you?"

The girls' control snapped as she threw down her garment with a splash and hissed back, though without turning her head, "Why are you talking to me?"

Hazard shrugged, "I find our interactions exceptionally riveting. Besides no one else in this place has been very talkative here"

"Our 'interactions', she said the word with scorn, usually end with us fighting and injured"

Hazard chuckled, conceding the point, "Yeah but now we won't fight anymore so we can just talk, like we're doing now"

The girls' head turned and she stared at him from the corner of one amber eye, "What makes you think we won't fight?" she asked in a dangerous whisper, her tentacles starting to rise from the water ominously.

Hazard smiled shyly at her; not at all put off by her show of threat, "Because if you wanted me dead you wouldn't have saved my life" he quietly answered.

The amber eye watched him for a few moments before it rolled and she went back to scrubbing her clothes, "Foolish creature" she muttered in mild amazement.

Hazard grinned but didn't answer; just continued to watch her scrubbing at her clothes, the play of muscles on her slender shoulders… her pale soft looking skin…

'Hazard. Snap out of it' Unity grumbled.

Hazard covered his eyes suppressing a groan of dismay. What was it about this girl that made him feel so strange? She had tried to kill him a dozen times yet just being around her now made him feel so calm and relaxed that he wondered if his brain was damaged from all the knocks it had suffered.

He gazed back at her, this girl whose name he didn't even know, and racked his brain for more stuff to say. Someway to keep her talking cause he 'really' wanted to keep talking to this person.

"H-how's your body? I mean! You know, your wounds from yesterday, they ok? The bandages help at all?" Hazard stammered, inwardly wincing at his crap wording.

But still as he stared at the white scars that criss-crossed the tentacle girls' skin he couldn't help but ask that question.

The girl turned her head fully, tilting her gaze as she stared at Hazards meek expression, "My wounds have healed," she said matter-of-factly.

She turned back and Hazard felt himself slump, 'well THAT was a hell of an ice-breaker' he thought in disgust.

"The bandages did help a lot, the girls' voice gently drifted over to him, so… thank you for that"

Hazard blinked in surprise then rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment, "Hey it was no biggie"

The girl turned fully, Hazard having to grit his teeth as he saw the shadow of the girls chest under the murky water, and examined him fully with her, now, inquisitive amber eyes.

"And you? Have you fully healed?" she asked with surprising, to Hazard anyway, concern.

Hazard grinned and flexed an arm, "Hey it'll take more then scaleys to take me down!" he boasted.

"They are called Hunters, and you risked death and consumption by fighting them" the girl said reproachfully.

Hazard blinked again, "Well I-" he began.

"Why did you challenge them? They outnumbered you more then four to one and still you fought why?" the girl pressed on.

"I would have thought that was obvious?" Hazard said quietly.

The girl tilted her head to the right and Hazard felt the need to emphasise, "You were in trouble… and I couldn't let you die like that" he stated calmly.

The girls' head righted itself and her eyes were piercing his as if she was searching for something in his eyes, perhaps deception or untruth? Eventually she found nothing dishonest with Hazard and clicked her tongue in disapproval.

"Then I thank you for that… but you're still a fool" she said lightly before dumping some wet clothes on the platform.

"Can I wear the official uniform then tentacle girl?" Hazard said in jest and grinned, but stopped when the girl shot him a 'look'.

'I'm getting familiar with those looks, Hazard thought, it's a 'I'm entertaining the thought of killing you' kind of look'

'Then lets hope she's only thinking of it not actually planning it' Unity said dryly.

Hazard looked down at the girls' hands and the item she was scrubbing now in a search for any topic to chat about.

His eyes squinted at what she held and he grinned widely as he realised it was a furry teddy bear, yellow-brown with age and with stitches for a smile and buttons for eyes.

It was pretty old and grisly yet seeing it confirmed Hazards steadfast belief that there was more to this girl then tentacles and a freaky veil.

"He's a cute little guy. What's his name?" Hazard asked politely.

For the first time the amber eyes that captivated him shone with a real happy emotion. She looked down at the teddy with nothing but love in her eyes and Hazard wished she took the veil off cause he knew she was smiling under those faces.

Still with smiling eyes she picked up the teddy in her cuffed hands and held him out for Hazard to inspect, "This is Ted, my best friend" she said brightly.

Then she did something amazing to Hazard. Her hands changed their grip and she was holding the toys paw between finger and thumb. "Say hello Ted, she chirped and then she waved the tiny bears arms back and forth in a little wave.

"Hello Hazard, I'm Ted! Pleased to meet'cha" The girl said in a squeaky voice, creating words for the silent doll.

Hazard couldn't help it he laughed out loud, a deep gut-wrenching chortle, as the sheer childish wonder of the scene before him made him feel like a boy himself, being introduced to a little girl and her imaginary friend.

He wiped tears from his eyes and smiled back at Lisa but he saw a sharp sadness in her eyes and he realised she thought he had been laughed 'at' her. 'Shit she was trying to be normal and it looks like I laughed in her face' Hazard thought furiously.

Before he could think not to he leaned over the platform and extended his arm across the gap between him and the girl. His clawed hand inching closer to her outstretched arms as she watched him carefully.

And with infinite care he took hold of Teds' tiny paw and gave it a hearty shake, "Pleased to meet you too Ted. May I say just how luvv-ly your fur looks today," Hazard said in a posh accent.

'The shot is taken, Hazard is racing out to catch it before it falls beyond his reach, can he make it!' Unity yelled.

Lisa blinked and stared for just a moment then in the childish voice replied, "Oh thank you mister Hazard! It takes a lot to keep my fur all nice and fresh"

'AND IT'S SAVED!' Unity shrieked.

Hazard grinned, "Well you're doing a good job Mr Ted, may I call you Mr Ted?" Hazard made a show of sniffing his arm then retching, "As you can smell sir its much harder for me to keep as clean as you"

Hazard then clasped his claws as if in prayer, "Oh Ted please tell me your secret! How do I get myself smelling as sweet and lovely as you do? Please do not leave this poor lowly boy smelling of poo for the rest of his life" Hazard beseeched the doll.

And then a heavenly sound was coming from the girl and Hazard realised with delight that she was giggling. It was only a short burst of sound, barely a few seconds before the girl realised what she was doing and clamped down on it, but those few seconds were divine to Hazard.

"Wash regularly mister Hazard, of by-tea-way you can call me Mr Ted, and make sure to change clothes often like my friend Lisa does" The girl chirped in the 'teddy' voice.

Hazard froze and his eyes widened in surprise as he stared at the girls eyes, her own amber orbs realising their slip-up and the girl began to tremble slightly as Hazard picked himself up on his arms and watched her carefully.

"You're Lisa?" he whispered in half-disbelief.

Silence from the girl but the trembling increased.

"You are Lisa aren't you!" Hazard asked again in excitement as he reached for her, the tip of a claw brushed across her own finger.

'Lisa' shrieked and snatched her hands back as if burned by Hazards touch. Her eyes flashed and a tentacle slashed across Hazards' vision and he found himself being thrown back with a splash back into his own side of the lake.

He submerged and choked as water rushed into his open mouth before he broke surface again, the purple Tyrant retching to clear his lungs before looked back towards Lisa with shocked eyes.

Except the girl wasn't there.

He heard a crash and his eyes darted up to the second level platform above him as he saw Lisa scrabbling over the edge with frenzied desperation. He realised she must have climbed onto the lower platform and jumped for the other while he was under water.

'Man that's one hell of a jump' Unity whistled in admiration.

"LISA WAIT!" Hazard yelled as he rushed onto the lower platform and raced for the ladder leading up. Not caring about his nakedness at the moment only trying to catch up with Lisa and… talk… or something! Just stop her from running away and leaving him alone again.

'She's scared Hazard, don't do anything rash' Unity gently advised.

Lisa had managed to climb the edge and was now standing on the platform above looking down at him, his pleading yell making her pause as she watched the purple Tyrant scale the ladder.

Hazard stopped as he stared back, his eyes and thoughts scrambled as he gazed at her slender naked body… god she was beautiful.

Lisa thrust her head forward and squared her shoulders in a display of fury as she shouted down at him, "JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" before turning and racing towards the exit. Her chains clinking and rustling with her hurried steps and leaps before the sound of a door slamming echoed in the chamber.

'I'm not losing her' Hazard thought in determination and he scaled the ladder with maniacal speed and hurried after the girl, pausing only to dress himself and grab his weapons before throwing open the exit door and following Lisa into the tunnels.

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Lisa was sobbing when she reached her bedroom and threw herself onto her sheets in a tearful, wet mess. The sound of her crying filled the small cave as she beat at her pillows in anger.

'DAMMIT WHY'D I HAVE TO LET SLIP MY NAME!' she wondered furiously.

And with a little terror. He now knew her name. He knew who she was… what else would he find out about her?

She was honest enough with herself to know why she hit him and ran. Having someone call her by name, even having her name spoken aloud had been too scary, too haunting.

Too real.

She had been burying her past behind iron walls of forgetfulness inside her own head. She hoped, (And deeply feared) that one day she'd look in a mirror and not recognise her true face, that she'd even begin to believe that the veil 'was' her real face.

That her name was just a meaningless word, that she'd read her diary or look at an old photo and feel nothing but maybe a slight confusion.

'Only then can the pain stop, I won't feel sad or alone anymore because I won't understand such emotions' was a wish Lisa had been praying for for years now, an end to her pain, an escape.

'Not that I haven't tried suicide' Lisa thought with a grim smile, 'but a painful death sucks when you wake up a day later and have to be in agony for a week until you fully recover'

So suicide had been out. Her own body refused to die no matter how much Lisa demanded it to, and she had 'really' tried to force it to give up.

So forgetting 'Lisa' and all the pain and suffering 'Lisa' had was the only other option.

But then 'he' turned up and brought back all that pain she had been trying so hard to forget. Bad enough he made her talk and feel emotion again now he could call her by name and cut open her scars with just a four-letter word.

'I should have killed him in the treehouse, then none of this would have happened!' that wild part of her hissed in Lisa's mind.

'But it would have been wrong, he was too young and innocent that it would have hurt more to kill him then any others' Lisa argued.

'So! If he was dead then we could go back to forgetting!' that part of her argued.

'But then I'd forget him… and I'm not sure I can do that now' she thought with a resigned sigh.

It was then her ears twitched and she rose her head as she heard something gingerly wading through the water tunnel between her bedroom and 'playroom'.

Lisa felt her tentacles rise and her heartbeat quicken in readiness for a battle, the creature approaching could be any of a thousand enemies and laying apathetically on her bed sobbing into her pillow would make her easy prey.

Yet even as she prepared to fight she realised that it could only be one person and she lay down again with her head turned away towards the wall and pulled a sheet over her naked body.

'What are you doing? It could tear you apart!' the wild part screamed.

'It's Hazard' Lisa answered quietly.

'Then he could tear us apart!'

'He won't' Lisa answered with sad confidence. Killing helpless creatures wasn't something he did… only she did that.

The wild part was silent for a moment then it whispered darkly, 'He could do the other thing to you… one that hurts more then any wound those monsters can inflict and its scars 'never' heal'

Lisa went silent as she thought about that… would he do 'that'?

She heard someone enter her room and stand silent as it stared at her curled up body beneath the sheets. Just her covered head and tentacles were out of the sheets and as it stalked quietly up to her bed she felt herself begin to shake.

'Would he do that?'

The other person knelt beside her bed and she felt its presence lean over her. A clawed hand gently touched her shoulder, the hard bone on bare skin making her freeze in terror.

'Would he do that?'

'No… no he wouldn't do that, Lisa thought with iron-strong belief as the creature's other hand moved over her.

"You dropped someone important" Hazard whispered in her ear as he placed Ted next to her.

"Thank you" Lisa whispered as she reached out and cuddled the teddy close to her.

"You're welcome Lisa" Hazard answered softly before he rose and stepped away, for an instant Lisa feared he would leave but then she heard him settle down on a chair and get comfortable.

'Maybe… it won't be so bad… to have him know my name' Lisa thought with an odd smile on her lips before the panic and fear faded away leaving her feeling tired and weak.

She didn't last a five seconds before she was asleep, her eyes softly shut and mouth open slightly as she breathed slowly. Her Ted held tight in her arms as she curled up like a child in her bed.

And not once did her instincts awake her or trouble her sleep with the fear of sleeping in the presence of something.

Because that presence was Hazard.

And he wouldn't hurt her… ever.

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'You know… for someone whose only been alive-what?- three days? I've had one HELL of a hectic life thus far' Hazard thought with an amazed shake of his head as he watched Lisa sleep in her bed. Though he could only really see the bulge of her curled body under her sheets she was still cute to him. Mainly due to the sweet little snores and sighs she was making.

'Well Hazard we for one wouldn't want to trade it. Though we've suffered we've also enjoyed quite a bit here… and of course we both enjoy Lisa's company' Unity beamed.

Hazard glanced at his reflection in the dress mirror, wondering idly if Lisa thought him attractive, then blushed and went back to pawing through the tabletop items.

'I don't know why… but I feel there's more to my feelings for Lisa then just liking her because she's the only person I know. Sounds stupid but there you go' Hazard thought as he turned a bottle of spray in his claws.

'We don't think you're stupid Hazard, to be honest we feel something for Lisa too" Unity replied soberly.

Hazard placed the bottle down and picked up one of the photo frames that dotted the room, the one on the desk showing a happy child, perhaps six or seven, running around a park or garden. Hazard smiled as he had done last time he looked at this photo.

'This is her when she was a kid' Hazard thought in wonder as he looked at the little girls happy smile and beaming eyes. He wondered if that child was still there in Lisa and if that smile ever graced her hidden lips at all.

'Well after what happened with Ted we believe she is still child-like, Unity paused for thought, thought being here alone with no other company would have caused serious problems for her'

'Imagine it Hazard. A child forced to survive in these world, she'd have be logical and ruthless yet under it all the child still remains… a child that perhaps has yet to become an adult despite her age' Unity continued to press its point.

'I can imagine it, Hazard replied with a pitying expression, but that also makes me wonder just how old she is?'

He carefully put the photo down and picked up the other, the one that showed Lisa's parents Trevor and Jessica.

Trevor was a very serious looking man and probably possessed a intelligent mind yet his eyes also had a great deal for love for the woman and child at his side.

Jessica was a beautiful woman and Hazard found himself glancing between the mother and the sleeping daughter, he knew that parent and child shared characteristics so perhaps Lisa looked like the gorgeous woman in the photo?

Maybe… probably not. For all he knew her features might be changed by the virus within her just like his body had been. It was a good reason for why she wore a covering over her head all the time.

And yet…

Her body was so perfect, so beautiful, and with bright eyes and a musical voice he found he just couldn't fathom that her face would be deformed or indeed anything wrong with it.

He looked back at the sleeping girl and knew that even if her face was warped he'd still care for her… but the simple truth was he 'knew' that she was just as beautiful underneath the veil as any other human. The only problem would be convincing her to remove that veil.

'Not gonna be easy Hazard' Unity warned.

'Got that right' he replied as he put the photo down and then found his gaze going to the little box surrounded by candles in the bottom right of the room. The box that had all the information Hazard needed about what had happened to Lisa.

Hazard snorted and gave his head a dull thump with his palm. He couldn't believe that after all the evidence of this room and the one connected to it he had never clicked that the 'tentacle girl' was in fact the child Lisa that he believed lived here.

'It just never occurred to me… after our first meeting and having to make a run through the woods and then finding the mansion I completely forgot about it'

'We had a lot more serious stuff to think about then Hazard' Unity said with a shiver as it recalled the crimson and Hunters.

Hazard frowned, 'yeah but I met her several times and I never stopped to ask questions, hell I probably wouldn't have thought about it at all until she let slip her name downstairs'

The Tyrant sighed and stood up, stretching his arms and tails with a groan then pacing around the room in boredom. He was wondering what to do next, perhaps grab something to eat or go for a pee ('I really need one') but he didn't want to leave the sleeping girl alone.

It was as he stopped and mulled this over that a quiet voice asked, "What are you holding there?"

Hazard shrieked and whirled round in surprise. He blushed as he met the amused eyes of Lisa who was sitting up on her bed with her sheets held tight to her chest, her head tilted to the right as she examined him.

"U-uh you're parents I think, um this photo" Hazard stuttered and held it out for her to take. Lisa stared at it for a few moments before dropping her eyes, "Put it back," she said coldly.

Hazard frowned but complied and once done he stood with claws on hips calmly meeting her gaze as she looked back up and watched him carefully.

"So what now?" she asked with a hint of aggression, her amber eyes bright with suspicion.

Hazard shook a claw at her; "First you calm down and get that aggression out of your system Lisa. If I wanted a fight I'd have started one long ago"

Lisa scowled but nodded at him.

"Secondly I… I'm not sure really what happens now. I've only been alive three days and to be honest I could probably use a bit of direction" he asked timidly.

The girl ducked her head as if thinking then looked back up at him with a determined expression, "Get out" she barked.

Hazard blinked not at first certain he had heard her right, then scowled back at her in rising indignation.

"Oh that's just great ain't it! I help you out, I, once again, think we're making a connection and you tell me to piss off again well let me just say Lisa that this is the last time! I'm not gonna help you ever a-"

Hazard yelped as something bounced off his head and he caught it before it hit the floor. He blinked stupidly at Teds' button eyes and smiling face before looking up at Lisa who was glaring at him impatiently.

"I-mean! Get out so I can get dressed then we'll talk" she said forcibly.

Hazard glanced between the teddy in his hands and then at Lisa's growing amused expression, "But I thought-" he started nervously.

Lisa waved a tentacle at him, "You got it wrong, no problem" she said calmly.

"You could have said 'I need to get dressed' instead of just 'get out' Lisa" Hazard said huffily.

And now there was a hint of a smile in Lisa's eyes as she turned her head and watched him with a mischievous expression, "But if I said that I wouldn't get to see you all riled up Hazard" she said with a giggle.

Hazard stared for a moment then stared upwards and clasped his hands together, "Oh thank you god you've given her a sense of humour, however droll, thankyou-thankyou-thankyou!"

Lisa snorted but her eyes still showed amusement, "Just go upstairs and wait for me" she said impatiently, and then added in after-thought, "Help yourself to some deer up there if you want"

Hazard grinned and bowed to her, "I obey your commands as always my queen" before turning tail, (literally) and climbing the ladder out of Lisas' bedroom and making his way to the cabin above.

Lisa watched him go and once she heard the trapdoor open and shut, and certain he wasn't listening in, she fell back onto her bed giggling like the child she had once been.

She hummed to herself and felt her sides ache from the, long-forgotten, laughter before rolling out of bed and padding over to her dresser and draws. She still continued to hum happily as she picked through her clothes, unconsciously putting aside her best garments as her choices of clothing.

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Hazard paced back and forth before the fire wondering how long she was going to take, "Do all girls take more then ten minutes just to get changed?" Hazard yelled in accusation to the universe.

'Yes they do' was its silent answer and the Tyrant snorted and threw another log on the small inferno that he had made.

The flames billowed as they devoured the new fuel, Hazard stared for a few moments before snapping out of it, and continuing his pacing…there was something strangely hypnotic about fire.

He raised the bone he carried to his mouth and gnawed on it for lack of anything better to do. Eating raw meat straight from a several day carcass hadn't been too bad, even kind-of invigorating as he slurped up the blood and chewed the hard meat.

'Good thing I have this body or I'll be dead by tomorrow by food poisoning' Hazard mused as he cracked the bone in half and sucked at the marrow within.

'Though you'll probably have horrendously smelly farts and excrement' Unity said with revulsion.

Hazard paused in mid slurp, his eyes crossing as he eyed the bone he was chewing, 'aw hell with it' he thought then started biting again in earnest.

"Does it taste nice?" a silky-quiet voice asked from behind him, Hazard turned and immediately went 'guhhh' as his brain seized up.

Lisa was standing on the small flight of stairs looking over him in amusement as Hazard stared back numbly. As she walked ghostly silent down the steps he couldn't stop his eyes following every movement with devout attention.

Lisa was wearing a white shift, truly white and as gentle looking as silk, that hugged her body and hung like robes just above her feet, her little dainty feet.

Hazard gulped as he saw the swellings of her breasts pushing out against the material enticingly and the perfect figure of her hips accented by the dress. The fact that the garment was semi see-through didn't help matters much.

'She's so beautiful' Hazard thought in wonder.

He realised he had been staring for too long when Lisa cocked her head to the side and began to tap her foot in impatience. He swallowed hard then quickly looked away mumbling something along the lines of "Nice dress" as he stepped over to the fire and threw another log into it.

The blaze of flames that almost scorched his eyebrows was highly successful at clearing his head.

"Do you always burn your eyebrows off before having dinner with someone?" Lisa asked with a short chuckle as she dragged an old rug from behind the stairs.

"Its my way of breaking the ice" Hazard painfully joked as he rubbed at his smoking hair, 'Hope it grows back' he thought as he felt his eyebrows to be very thinned.

Lisa laid out the rug in front of the fire and took a seat, motioning for Hazard to do the same. The Tyrant sat cross-legged finding the worn rug to be surprisingly soft, "So what now?" he asked once he was comfortable.

Lisa's amber eyes matched the glow her body had taken due to the flames, "Now we talk, and by the end of it maybe you'll begin to understand just what a messed up place you chose to be born in" she said ominously.

And then Lisa began her story. A story of a girl, changed into a monster, and forced to survive in a nightmarish world. She talked of the clans and the monsters that lived here and how it was possible to survive amongst them.

And most importantly she talked of humans.

Of the evil of humans.

And of the evil of a corporation named 'Umbrella'.

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The Hunter remained silent as he watched the boar drink from the pool, the cousin to the common pig watching the area around it with darting eyes and twitching ears.

It would bend its neck and gulp down a mouthful of water before snapping its head back and looking around wildly for predators. Its nervous antics something the creatures of the forest had learned to employ after the mutated beasts of the mansion flooded the surrounding lands.

The Hunters yellow eyes watched the boar carefully but strangely not in readiness for a powerful lunge that would bring him within striking distance. Oh no he had something else planned for this boar, something that would help him greatly in the future.

For the Hunter was merely an observer of this pool and the prey here… he was waiting for 'her'.

He had lived for a long time in this forest, his senses were tuned to the rhythm and flow of the woods, and it was this that that made him tense in anticipation as he sensed her approach.

She couldn't be sensed by smell, sight or hearing until she was right upon you, her colossal body more stealthy then even the Chimeras. No it was the almost supernatural feeling that tinged the air, the aura of death and danger that followed her wherever she went.

If he had had hair on the back of his neck it would have been standing up as warning of what was coming. For a reptilian body it began to tremble as its warning and the Hunter was quick to clamp down on the feeling lest he give away his position.

'The boar senses nothing' the Hunter thought in wonder and mockery. The whole world was screaming in terror, a higher creature like himself easily able to hear its screams, yet the boar just kept drinking.

What happened next was so amazingly quick that the Hunter fought not to flinch when it happened, nor blink or he'd lose her.

From the bushes and shrubs behind the boar there was an explosion of movement, leaves and earth bursting into the air as an enormous head sprang from the forest and sank its teeth into the boar. The pig squealed coughing up blood as she bit hard into its midsection crushing its rips and internal organs with undeniable strength, the animal kicking weakly but couldn't escape the monstrous jaws clamped around it.

With unearthly grace she lifted her head and released the pig, the animal still squealing as it fell down the great snakes' gullet onto a straight course to her stomach.

There was a fountain of blood, a final high-pitched squeal from the pig that echoed hauntingly, and then she closed her mouth and swallowed hard.

The squealing stopped.

'Yawn'. The great snake. The most majestic and powerful of the predators and mutants to escape the mansion burped mightily as her eyes lidded with pleasure due to the full feeling of her stomach.

The Hunter held his breath as he watched in awe that great beast, her speed and power incredible and despite the danger of the moment he almost found himself stepping out from his hiding place and bowing down before her. Worshipping her even unto the moment she bit deep into his body with those huge fangs of hers.

Thankfully common sense won out and he remained still as the snake glanced around a few times, (every moment her eyes fell on his he flinched in terror) for anything else of interest before she turned and slithered back into the woods.

The Hunter breathed out a sigh of awe, and a little relief, after he was certain she was gone. The whole incident had lasted less then a minute and apart from her first strike and the death-squeals of the pig she had made no sound nor left any marks of her passage through here.

'She truly is a god' the Hunter thought in dark satisfaction and he knew that if anyone could grant his wish then it would be her.

He stared at the pool for a few moments before starting back towards the clan caves, now that he knew she preyed on the small pond he could proceed with his plan.

Though for his scheme to succeed he'd need to scour the ranks and find another Hunter willing to follow him. One that would be stupid and easily duped and thus also of no great loss to the clan.

He hissed as his chest ached and he brought a claw to the tender area of his chest rubbing it soothingly. The arrow that that bastard purple beast had fired at him had been removed and the wound healed but the Hunter suspected he'd always have pain from time to time due to the attack.

The thought brought a snarl of hatred to his face as he imagined the sufferings he would place on that fool and his female ally.

'And Yawn is the key' he thought with a gruesome grin, the scenario of success playing in his head and making him light-headed with glee. If his plan worked he would see those two pests removed from 'ever' interfering with his life again.

'And with those two gone, he hissed to himself in his own tongue, nothing will stop me from ruling the clans'

Filled with dark visions of conquest the Hunter chirped and tittered to himself as he entered his clans' land, now off to find a suitable clan brother to follow him.

Already with several candidates in mind he disappeared into the sewers and caves following the scent trails of his kind deep into the bowels of the earth.

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Hazard and Lisa had been talking for the better part of an hour now, (Well mainly Lisa talking and Hazard listening intently) and the young Tyrant was quite frankly amazed by the tale Lisa was calmly reciting to him.

She had explained about the various clans' and species that lived here, their tactics, their mannerisms and tendencies, as well as the areas they inhabited and called their own.

The depth of knowledge Lisa contained about the monsters was staggering, and she explained that these beasts were far more complex then he Hazard first believed. He had imagined them to be no more then wandering bestial monsters searching for their next meal but Lisa refuted this.

The zombies that infested the mansion and old human buildings were first to be explained. Though they were truly animalistic and couldn't communicate intelligently with each other they were by no means a weak side at all. The dead humans firstly, for the most part, stayed within the mansion and guardhouse (Hazard had asked what that place was but Lisa said "Later") wandering the places their rotted brains dreamily remembered.

Though an individual zombie was little threat they tended to move in groups and the crimson breeds, that Lisa had noticed were growing more common then their weaker cousins, were a beast best avoided if possible.

"No arguments here" Hazard muttered, remembering with a chill both his encounters with such beasts.

'At least they can be overcome by us one on one Hazard' Unity added helpfully.

Next Lisa spoke of the wild dogs that lived in various packs across the miles of forest around the mansion. The dogs were also infected by the virus and thus rotted too but they, unlike the infected humans, had retained their speed and strength and gained a dangerous bloodlust too. The only plus side was that Lisa believed their senses of sight and hearing to be much weaker then even the zombie humans as the dogs could be sneaked by when they are in a docile mood.

"Why is it that the dogs are stronger then the humans? Why do the animals mutate differently?" Hazard asked of his teacher.

Lisa had frowned and after a few moments shrugged and answered, "I have no idea but it's the way the virus works, that's all that's important"

Next she explained about the Hunters, the most dangerous of all the monsters that Lisa had encountered. The Hunters were the most dominant creatures- "Apart from me" Lisa smugly stated- and also the most prolific, their numbers constantly fluctuating during the years but always staying high.

"It seems that all they do is go out off their caves looking for trouble, and when they get back they just have sex all the time" Lisa said in disgust.

"What a life" Hazard said dreamily, then coughed and motioned for Lisa to continue when she glared at him, Unity laughing loudly inside his skull.

Next she mentioned the gigantic spiders that haunted the sewers and the previously mentioned guardhouse. The enormous arachnids were one of the few creatures Lisa feared in this insane menagerie of monsters.

"Never-ever think you're safe around them, Lisa warned with steely eyes, they are smart and fast, cunning and so silent. And to date neither any other monster, nor I have been able to drive them back or dent their numbers. 'That's' how deadly they are"

Lisa then closed her eyes and shuddered, "Just thinking about how they kill you is creepy enough"

"I'll bet" Hazard muttered, remembering the screaming victims of the spiders in his dream this morning.

Thankfully the spiders rarely ventured from their strongholds and Lisa had met them on the rarest occasions in the woods.

"Even outside their own territory they are dangerous so always keep alert for them when outside"

"What signs are there if they're so sneaky Lisa?" Hazard replied a little smartly.

Lisa's eyes glittered with grim amusement, "When all the hairs on the back of your neck start to dance and you feel like a thousands eyes are staring at you. That's the only sign you get" she answered with mocking experience.

"The next monster, from what I've discovered there's only one and be grateful for that, is a creature that is far stronger and deadlier then all of the previous monsters combined" Lisa said with a deathly serious tone.

"It is a snake. But a snake far bigger then any other in the world and ten times stronger. Her name is 'yawn', well it's a name the Hunters gave her and I've picked it up too, and she is the greatest predator of all. If you ever meet her you'll get what I mean and hopefully you'll do what I do and run"

"I think I've already met it" Hazard said hesitantly and quickly explained the strange encounter before the caves, the creature that had passed without being seen yet an aura of terror had followed it.

Lisa went on to explain its habits and hunting style, basically trying to hypnotise its prey if it could and if not overpowering them with brute strength, and the best ways to avoid it.

Hazard listened raptly but decided to keep his own thoughts of challenge to himself. A part of him was itching to fight such a beast and in killing it prove himself to be the greatest Tyrant here, though to be honest he had no idea were such a mad notion had come from only that he was giving it consideration.

'Consider how easily such a creature could kill you Hazard. Unity said scornfully, if Lisa says it should be avoided then the smartest action would be to heed her advice'

Lisa finished off the list of monsters with the lesser animals of the region. The bloodthirsty birds seemed to be of little threat to Hazard, and Lisa agreed, yet she felt it best to keep an eye out for them or else possibly loss it.

After that his mentor explained the surrounding areas and the buildings and realms within the region. The guardhouse piped Hazards curiosity and he immediately decided to check it out at some point, 'surely some overgrown bugs can't be that tough' Hazard reasoned.

'You're not invincible Hazard' Unity warned.

And lastly she explained, with some hesitation, about the corporation that had created what they both were now, the faceless entity whose children and technology still left marks in this world.

Hazard listened with wide eyes as Lisa told him of the humans' experiments on animals and their own kind in the effort to make a whole new breed of weapon. A weapon made on the building block of life, a weapon made from mutating flesh.

"B-but how? How could they do all this and nobody knew about it?" Hazard asked in outrage after Lisa told him about the screaming humans being feed to their creations.

The girl shrugged and her eyes were distant as she said, "Umbrella was powerful and rich. And people don't ask or care what rich corporations like Umbrella do in their spare time… not when they can buy silence like a child buys sweets, effortless and without trouble"

"And what about you, Hazard asked gently, how did you fit into their experiments?"

Lisa's eyes flashed in warning and her gaze was now cold, "That is not your business Hazard" she snapped.

Hazard flinched and dropped his gaze in apology, "Sorry… I didn't mean to pry," he said meekly.

"Yes you did" Lisa stated, her tone so lifeless that Hazard flinched.

"Then I certainly didn't mean to upset you" He answered and met her eyes with sincerity in his own.

The other Tyrant stared for a moment before she blinked and sighed wearily, "I just don't want to talk about my past Hazard, not to you or anyone else. So don't take it personally"

"Ok then, it's a deal. As long you put up with my questions for a little longer," Hazard said with a grin.

"Questions on other subjects I mean!" he added quickly as Lisa stared.

Lisa rolled her eyes but continued her tale telling Hazard about the day when the virus first escaped and began to infect the scientists and residents of the mansion.

"At first nobody knew what was going on, the people in the mansion going about their business without any idea that their own disease was loose below them. It took an hour or so for them to realise something was wrong when they didn't receive any calls from the labs and by then it was too late"

Lisa's eyes were glassy as she looked deep into her memory, "I was watching from the forest when it all went to hell, once they discovered the virus was loose the lab was locked up and the security forces took full control of the mansion"

She chuckled without humour; "They were acting with such purpose. Confining the staff, shooting everyone who escaped the underground labs, and welding the main lab entrance shut and hiding the rest… though nothing they did helped them in the end"

"For a day or two everything seemed ok and they believed that the Virus had been contained underground, Lisa said as she picked at a stray corner of the rug, but then I saw them starting to shoot people and burning the bodies"

"Why?" Hazard asked appalled.

Lisa eyes met his and they shone with grim satisfaction, "Because they were infected Hazard, perhaps not all but enough to be a threat"

She leaned back and gazed at the fire in contemplation, "Anyone who started to show symptoms was killed, and although there were a lot of scientists infected and that some of them hid their illness in fear the mansion shouldn't have fallen. The soldiers methods would have killed almost two thirds of the population but it would have halted the virus and prevented a total catastrophe"

Hazard looked around him at the old cabin and waved his arms in emphasis to Lisa, "Well obviously it didn't work so come on what happened Lisa?"

Lisa was grinning again, though Hazard couldn't see it but he just knew she was, "Why the monsters happened Hazard" Lisa answered sweetly.

"The very creatures they had been growing underground escaped and started killing and slaughtering the soldiers, very soon total chaos reigned as the humans hid and ran throughout the mansion and grounds trying to escape the monsters" Lisa said with an amused look.

"Several even found me… though not for long" she whispered in fond remembrance.

Hazard eyed her wearily but decided not to press comment, "So the monsters killed them all and later they came back as zombies?" he hazarded a guess.

Lisa shook her head, "Not quite Hazard. Mostly they held out in small parts of the mansion and guardhouse hoping to survive until help came. But without the soldiers constant surveillance very soon the few infected began to change and attack their companions"

She sighed and looked back at Hazard; "In the end once the monsters escaped they lasted barely a week… after that the world you see around started"

Hazard closed his eyes as he digested this information, all thought the scientists had this coming, poetic justice to be killed by their own murderous creations Hazard believed, yet he still felt some pity.

'To be trapped in just a few rooms in that house… knowing that horrible creatures stalk the corridors and that at any moment you or a friend may change and become a soulless beast… it most have been truly insane'

'We just hope we don't lose hope like they did Hazard' Unity said quietly.

Hazard opened his eyes and looked at Lisa with frank admiration. He couldn't imagine what it had been like to survive for so long like this and maintain your sanity but she had done it. She was truly a miracle and the strongest willed creature he had ever known 'and' would ever know.

"You're incredible" Hazard whispered.

Lisa tilted her head watching Hazard uncertainly, "What do you mean?"

"To survive like this for so long and still be the way you are… you're just incredible Lisa" Hazard answered in reverence.

Lisa blinked rapidly then averted her gaze and began to twitch nervously, "I am not 'incredible' Hazard… living like this has all but destroyed me" she finally answered with deep sadness.

Hazard shook his head and leaned forward gently laying a hand on Lisa's pale human one, she flinched but didn't move away from him.

"You-are-perfect Lisa, Hazard said brooking no argument once Lisa met his eyes, never doubt that"

The two stared at each other silently for perhaps a minute before Lisa shuddered and drew her hands back. She rose and stepped away from Hazard towards the flight of stairs, looking back at him before she started to ascend.

"I have to go get changed" she said calmly, her blank eyes and detached demeanour back in place.

'I was getting through to her I'm sure of it! What is it that makes her so afraid… is it just being alone for so long or is it more?' Hazard wondered.

"Hazard?" Lisa growled, annoyed by his silence.

The male Tyrant started and looked back at Lisa in embarrassment, "Y-yeah I heard… what you getting changed for?" he asked curiously, 'cause I really like what you're wearing right now so you sure you wanna change?' he thought to himself.

Lisa glared at him for a second before she sighed, as if giving up on berating him and impatiently answered, "I have to go out on patrol and I won't wear a shift for that"

The girl continued up the stairs yet paused when she reached the doorway to the second room.

She looked back him with nervousness in her amber eyes, after a few moments fighting with herself she hesitantly said, "You are welcome to join me if you want?"

Hazard blinked in surprise before smiling softly at her; 'Maybe I'm getting past the wall of ice after all?'

"I'd be happy to come, I still need to sightsee a bit more after all" Hazard said in explanation, making it sound like he was being logical so as not to make Lisa any more nervous then she already was.

She nodded and quickly disappeared from Hazards sight, leaving the Tyrant alone with his thoughts.

'Wow did the psychotic tentacle girl just ask you out on a date Hazard?' Unity teased as soon as they were alone.

Hazard blushed, "I hardly think going on patrol, whatever that is, counts as a 'date'" he said defensively as he picked up his weapons and tied them to his belt.

'Maybe, maybe not. But just being around someone like this is probably a huge step for Lisa'

"Yeah… I had reached that conclusion too Unity" Hazard answered as he watched the fire begin to die down.

'So with that in mind, Unity continued, don't mess this up Hazard'

Hazard growled and rubbed at his eyes, "You're the worse kind of agony aunt Unity" he muttered.

'Well we try' Unity said smugly, 'Perhaps with Lisa's aid the two of you could figure out a way to escape this place'

"I know. But still something must have kept Lisa here for this long so she'll probably not be too enthusiastic about leaving"

The Tyrant sighed again as his thoughts drifted to Lisa's story about Umbrella, "And the other main problem… what if me and Lisa do escape only to be caught again by this 'Umbrella' or otherwise shunned and disgusted by the humans at large" he whispered worriedly.

'We will cross that bridge when we come to it… and when we do we will overcome whatever we have to face' Unity said soothingly, its confidence cheering Hazard up a bit.

"Hope so"

'Know so' Unity countered.

Hazard grinned and tapped the side of his head, "Don't get smart Unity or I'll make you regret it" he mock threatened.

'You talk the talk but can you walk the walk?' Unity challenged.

Hazard laughed happily, his other persona always finding ways to cheer him up. His ears twitched as he heard Lisa's return and he waited patiently for her arrival.

When she entered the room Hazard was disappointed to see she was wearing another of her brown rags that completely covered her beautiful feminine figure. He eyed it for a moment, wisely keeping his thoughts to himself, and looked up at Lisa's suspicious gaze.

"What were you laughing about?" she asked, her question throwing Hazard off.

"Uh just something funny I remembered" he stammered. The idea of revealing to Lisa that he had at least one other personality in his head that he regularly talked wasn't something he was going to consider.

Lisa's head tilted, her eyes still calculating, "Can I ask what was so amusing to you?"

Briefly Hazard considered saying 'no you can't', he didn't butt into Lisa's life so why should she enter his? But then the remembrance that he wanted to be friends stopped that sentence and he wracked his brains for something to say.

His mouth split into a real grin as he recalled his first encounter with a normal zombie, "I was just remembering when I was in the labs I needed to get a zombie to follow me so I chucked paint cans at its head, Hazard giggled to himself, the thing followed me and almost tripped over one of the cans that hit it, the look on its face was priceless!"

Lisa blinked as she absorbed this then a small snort of amusement escaped the mask, "I suppose that would be funny," she admitted reluctantly.

"Sorry to pry… I was just worried when I heard you laughing from downstairs," Lisa added in apology.

Hazard waved her off then clapped his hands and cocked his head inquisitively, "So what now?" he enquired.

Lisa hissed and Hazard again could imagine a grin under her mask, albeit a bloodthirsty one. Her tentacles snapped into the air and Hazard took a step back from her menacing aura.

"Now we go and find a few Hunters to… educate in the consequences for attacking us" Lisa said with a child-like titter, all sweet and high yet twisted into something crazed.

Hazard smiled back meekly as he thought this over… in truth he wanted to get some payback too against those scaleys.

'It would be nice to be the hunter this time and not prey' Unity offered.

Hazard smirked and drew his knife, twirling it with his claws and matching Lisa's violent posture with an excited glaze in his own golden eyes.

"Let's go to school Lisa"

Chapter 15.

Forbidden thoughts in outlawed creatures.

Far from the cabin, in one of the many tunnels that breached the daylight land from the underworld, a creature was steadily making its way towards the surface.

Its many eyes looked ahead seeing the hazy light that came from the end of the tunnel and knew it was close to the surface. Although there was now sufficient light to see the creatures eyes had been born damaged just like the rest of its kind and all it could see were vague shapes and the bright, painful light of the sun.

Still without sight its other senses had long since been mutated to something far grander then norm and it could easily use smell and touch to navigate, a boon in the dark labs that it was born in.

Its head rose, mandibles opening in a small hiss and nose twitching as it picked up a familiar scent in the downwards breeze. A shape detached itself from the rocky walls ahead and took position between the creature and the outside.

The creature sent an enquiring click from its mandibles and was answered by the other. Its caution now gone it continued its journey and came to an easy halt before the other that had patiently awaited it.

The guard stretched his neck forward, sniffing and clicking in question, 'Who are you?' he asked authoritatively.

'Don't joke about, you know me, or is your smelling nose losing its touch warrior?' the creature answered with its own high clicking, its tone pleasant though an outsider would wonder at the harsh hissing it made.

The guard snorted, 'Oh its you. Out again on another of your scavenger hunts?' he asked wearily.

The creature shrugged, its tiny deformed wings fluttering on its back as its scythe swished through the air, 'I found something interesting yesterday but had to leave because of those damn Hunters, now I'm coming back for it' it explained.

The guard twisted round to look outside, sniffing the air intently, his many eyes looking in all directions in agitation.

'Though you won't listen I gotta say it. There's a bad feeling in the air today; perhaps Yawn or a band of Hunters are about… I'd say try again tomorrow when it calms down' the guard said in warning.

The other clicked its mandibles together sharply, its species version of a sharp dismissal, 'It may be gone tomorrow so I have to go now, besides I'm faster then any stupid Hunters' it answered cockily.

The guard snorted and butted the other on the chest with his head, 'Do not be so arrogant young one, you may be willing to risk your life for stupid shiny objects but the clan would be upset to lose you' the guard hissed.

The smaller creature had almost fallen over with the head-push but quickly righted itself and bared its mandibles and inner teeth angrily, 'They are not stupid! They were left by the creators and they could be the key to discovering our past' it chattered righteously.

The guard eyed it, (something that would have been unnerving for a human considering how many eyes the big male had) then sighed and gently laid a claw on its shoulder, 'I'm sorry, I know this is important to you. But still you're too valuable to risk yourself like this'

He tilted his head and hissed questionably, 'How did you get up here without your brood mother stopping you?'

The smaller creature tittered and answered, 'gave her the slip, said I was going to impress the chief and she was so relieved that I was being 'normal' that she didn't follow me'

The bigger male chuckled and rubbed the smaller ones shoulder affectionately; 'You have a cunning mind young one'

The creature backed away from the touch and glared petulantly up at the older one, 'Stop calling me young one, I'm not an infant anymore I've grown' it stated while gesturing to its body.

The guard paused as he examined the other silently, yes he couldn't deny that the child had grown and there in lied the problem.

'Yes you've grown and that's why you should go back… you're too valuable to risk Kee-ta' the male said gently.

'Oh stop going on about that' the creature clicked impatiently.

'The argument is not going to go away just because you want it to' the guard hissed a little annoyed himself.

The other folded its arms and buzzed its small wings irritably; 'There are other females' she answered sulkily.

'You and only a few others are actually fertile Kee-ta' the male pointed out.

'So! Why should I allow myself to be bullied into stopping doing what I enjoy?' Kee-ta demanded angrily, her claws bunched and scythe shaking as her smaller body vibrated in anger.

The male stepped forward and carefully reached out for her, she resisted at first but soon surrendered to his hold, 'I know you don't like it but we are constantly in danger and we cannot replace our numbers like our enemies can. That is why you are valuable Kee-ta' he hissed gently.

The small female was silent for a moment, 'He wants me Cha-chi' she whispered fearfully.

Cha-chi felt his mandibles tighten and he hugged his friend back in comfort. He had known the small female since she was first born, back then being a young hunter himself and not yet a member of the chief's guard. Even then he had cared for her and now that she was older he couldn't deny that he felt anger due to her plight.

'I know' he whispered, at a lose for anything else to say.

'I don't like how he's constantly watching me… I know he's the chief but I still hate it' Kee-ta hissed.

The male held her closer and nuzzled against the soft flesh of her neck, 'He won't dare make a claim until you are ready little one. And that is not for a few more moons at least' he said soothingly.

She laughed self-pityingly, 'perhaps, perhaps not Cha-chi' she hissed with a hint of a sob.

She raised her head and her watery eyes gazed into his own, 'Why can I not chose who I mate with? What is so wrong with that Cha-chi?' she asked with pained green eyes.

The male gulped as he stared back at her. His beautiful young friend that he had watched over for years and she in turn comforted and played with him making the hard life of a clan-warrior much more bearable.

His eyes roamed over her, at such a close distance he could see Kee-ta clearly, admiring the soft chitin of her outer shell, the clean and delicate mandibles and teeth of her mouth, her glowing emerald eyes and sweet scent full of vitality.

He sighed and nuzzled against her neck trying to comfort her, rocking her gently as he hugged her and hoping that would calm her down and stop the depression that was coming. It had some effect as the female relaxed against him, her smaller body moulding against his perfectly.

Cha-chi could see why the chief was staking so adamant a claim on her but as he held her he felt resentment, as any hot-blooded male would have. She was absolute perfection, the pinnacle of health and beauty for his species and like many others of the clan he felt it unfair that the chief could ban her from any other suitors.

But more then that he knew her far more then any other male. The chief just saw a healthy breeder and detested her hobbies and wilful nature. Cha-chi secretly admired her cheeky nature and would never dream of stopping her from continuing what she enjoyed.

Despite his half-hearted arguments he found his nuzzling changing to gentle licks and nips as he explored the tiny females slender neck. His arms held her closer as he own scythe ran gently down her back sensually tickling the shiny black chitin there.

To his surprise Kee-ta didn't resist and instead a tiny mewl escaped her throat as she moved against his attentions, her own arms coming round him holding him tight as she arched her neck Cha-chi quickly licking and tenderly biting down the length of the quivering throat.

Her scent of arousal grew heavy in the air and the male growled in lust, hearing an answering meek hiss from the female in his arms. His scythe curled around her midsection, just above the swell of her abdomen, as his other hand carefully explored between her thighs.

She shrieked and clutched against him, trembling heavily as his claws sank into her young wetness. He knew he shouldn't be doing this yet the thrill of doing wrong just added to the haze of pleasure in his blood.

Kee-ta was not yet ready to breed. She still had a little more growing to do and although he himself was fully mature they could not make a brood together.

Yet many of his kind mated just for the pleasure of it although it was frowned upon by the elders… but then those old coots were probably too haggard to even mount a female so most young-bloods didn't listen to them.

Still only a few males and females mated outside the breeding cycle and Cha-chi was himself one of those few. Mating felt so nice so why limit it to just a few cycles of the moon every year?

Still fewer females were as same-minded and Cha-chi had found himself wondering if Kee-ta was the same. Now as she writhed against him clicking and whimpering in excitement he knew the truth now.

He felt his claws sink deeper into her warm folds and as his own excitement grew he felt that what was about to happen was something he had wanted to do for years. Truly he felt that the beautiful female was rightfully his and at this moment he was prepared to claim her as his own and to hell with the chief.

But as he shifted about and opened her up in readiness to take her both of them froze when they heard movement coming up the tunnel.

Trained instinct took over instantly and Cha-chi quickly pushed Kee-ta behind him and took a defensive posture between her and whatever was coming. His eyes glared into the darkness as he sniffed frenziedly and felt the currents of the air.

After a few seconds he realised that it was another of his kind coming and the urge to go down there and rip its throat out for disturbing he and Kee-ta was almost overwhelming.

He was just about to step forward and at least pound the fool a little when a scent wafted back to him and he realised who was coming.

He looked behind him at Kee-ta who was still sitting on the floor looking dazed, 'Its your brood mother' he whispered, inwardly feeling smug at how he had rendered her mindless with his attentions.

However his words jumpstarted her brain and she shot to her feet quickly rushing for the exit, 'Tell her you didn't see me!' she shouted back at him before disappearing into the sunlight.

Cha-chi let loose a shriek of fury as he dashed to the entrance of the cave, 'Kee-ta its dangerous don't go out!' he screamed after her but if she heard she gave no sign. The sunlight, though mild, was blinding to his eyes and he knew he'd have to leave the cave and track her by scent if he wanted to catch her.

As he was standing at the entrance gnawing at the bone of his scythe in agitation that he was called by Kee-ta's creator.

'Cha-chi is that you?' the elder female asked as she blinked her eyes and sniffed the air. She was already old when she first gave birth to Kee-ta and the rest of the brood and had lost her sharp senses in the following years.

Taking a deep breath the warrior turned and paced over to her, ducking his head respectfully and then touching scythes with her in greeting, 'Mother Ik-gei, what are you doing here? Its dangerous' he said with concern.

The old female sighed and clacked her mandibles tiredly, 'My daughter has vanished again Cha-chi and I am trying to find her. Has she passed by here at all?'

The male paused for a moment then shook his head, 'No mother Ik-gei I have not sensed her presence here. I have been here for several hours now I believe and you are the first to come visit me' he added a little wryly.

The elder chuckled, clapping her mandibles together rapidly, as she nuzzled him apologetically, 'I am sorry you sentries get so bored. If you want once your shift is over you may join me and my brood for our meal'

'Perhaps my daughter will turn up for food' she hissed in annoyance.

'Would you like me to go out and search for her once my shift is over? It should only be another hour at most' he added hopefully. Having official reason to explore the outside world would ease his mind.

The old mother gazed at the sharp blob of light that was the cave entrance before clicking negatively, 'No Cha-chi my daughter will find her way back in time. She is sometimes more resourceful at evading danger then even you warriors' she said half-cheerful, half-mocking of her daughter. Ik-gei was of the old school elders and didn't like how wild her daughter was and her copying of male practices like hunting.

'If you say so' Cha-chi answered neutrally but inside he was feeling sick with worry.

The mother snorted and turned away from the younger male, 'I swear that child will never learn her place. The chief would be better to choose another female as his mate then my rebellious daughter. He should not be burdened with the task of making her behave herself' she muttered angrily.

Cha-chi remained silent but he felt his hand bunch up into a fist as he imagined how the chief would 'educate' Kee-ta. He had seen some males beat their mates to control them and he had no desire to see such a thing happen to his beautiful friend.

'Not after what almost happened just now' he thought. Still confused and uncertain about what to think in the wake of that heated moment.

The mother turned and bared her teeth in a friendly expression; 'well I'll ask the other sentries Cha-chi but if she turns up please tell her to get herself down to me or else'

'I will' Cha-chi lied.

'And don't forget that to join us for our meal later will you' the old female said cheerfully.

'I won't forget, thank you'

The mother turned and hobbled back down underground muttering to herself all the way. Cha-chi watched her until he was certain she was gone then raced over to the entrance of the tunnel.

He gazed out into the sunlit world, a hundred reasons not to chase after the young female yelling into his ears.

This was his post, if a predator came down here that wasn't spotted and reported in time it could kill many of his kind before it was stopped. If his replacement came and found him gone he would be reported and probably given a firm dressing down by the chief. And of course Kee-ta's mother was right, the child had gone out into the world many times and come back safely so why not this time?

'Because I have a bad feeling about this time, he thought to himself, this time something serious could happen to her'

He thought this over for a few more seconds then with a hiss of 'to hell with it' abandoned his post and dashed into the forest, intently following the scent of his friend.

He didn't care what happened to him as long as she was safe.

Chapter 16.

A monster that has a heart is no monster at all, but a person like Frankenstein.

Hazard shivered but not from cold as he looked around at the black mud and tattered weeds that surrounded him, "Tell me again why we're here of all places?" Hazard asked tensely as he gazed at the gravestones that surrounded him.

Lisa's head popped up from behind an angel figurine to his right and he almost flinched at the sudden movement. She noticed his unease and her eyes twinkled with glee, "Scared purple one?" she sang.

Hazard glowered at her and gestured around him at the crumbling gravestones and the dozens of bodies under the ground, "We're surrounded by dead people, isn't that freaking you out a little?"

Lisa shrugged and went back to her search; "Not really" she answered calmly.

"Besides you meet dead people all the time why be scared now?" she shot back as she crouched before a toppled headstone and poked it with interest.

Hazard stood with claws akimbo on his hips as he hissed agitatedly, "Exactly I'm worried about these dead people becoming 'undead' people and trying to eat me"

'Calm yourself Hazard, there is nothing to fear' Unity whispered.

"Don't be afraid these people won't be getting up, there's not enough left of them for even the virus to regenerate" Lisa answered off-handily, unknowingly collaborating with Unity.

"Besides do you not think we are a match for any zombies," she said smugly as her amber eyes gazed at him before she started to dig at the ground.

"It's the red ones I'm worried about" Hazard muttered as he glared around the graveyard. Of all places why did their first stop have to be a graveyard?

He heard Lisa give a sharp "Ha!" of satisfaction and picked his way over to her, (Being careful not to tread on any graves as he did) and stared down at the mound of earth the girl was digging into.

"What are you doing?" he asked, confused as to why Lisa was trying to dig up a corpse.

Lisa's tentacles burrowed into the ground and with a sharp tug pulled something free. Hazard knelt and helped his friend ('Well she almost is Hazard' Unity said) uncover the object.

The tyrant pulled a face of disgust as a rotted stump that used to be an arm was exhumed and he stared at Lisa for some kind of clarity.

The girls eyes were shining with triumph and the thrill of the hunt, "They are close, very close" she whispered excitedly.

"Who's they?" Hazard asked wearily.

Lisa quickly buried the stump and gave Hazard her full attention; "Sometimes Hunters or others come here and try to dig up the bodies for food. That was until I placed this graveyard under my protection and killed anything that entered here or dared try to steal a corpse"

She stood up, brushing off the dirt off her rags and continued, "This shows that Hunters were here recently, I recognise the digging style, and the fact they nabbed just an arm then ran for it shows intelligence"

Her eyes blazed with fury for a second, "And that they dared do this just after a battle with me proves they think they can get away with this. Oh I will enjoy correcting them" she hissed venomously.

Hazard nodded slowly and quickly stood up and followed after Lisa as she stalked out of the graveyard and into the forest, her deep breathing showing she was searching for a scent to follow.

Hazard followed in silence for a moment before hesitantly asking, "Why do you protect them?"

Lisa didn't register at first that he had spoke them stopped and glanced at him in confusion, "Protect what?" she said perplexed.

"Why do you protect a graveyard full of dead people?" he asked curiously.

Lisa turned away and Hazard waited patiently. After half a minute she still didn't answer and Hazard wondered whether he should bother repeating the question again.

"Its because they are innocent, Lisa whispered haltingly, they were put to rest long before the monsters or Umbrella came to this place and they don't deserve to suffer anymore then they already are"

She quickly continued to walk obviously deciding she had said enough, Hazard followed after her sedately mulling over her words as he stared at her back and the long tentacles that grew from her.

'She's like a puzzle box, Hazard though fondly, and I've only just started on one side'

'Does that mean there's only five more revelations she can give us Hazard?' Unity asked in mock seriousness.

'Maybe… it'll all get metaphysical after side four trust me on this' Hazard replied lightly as the duo silently moved deeper into the forest.

Taking a curving path that lead straight towards the abandoned, but not uninhabited, ex-guardhouse of the ancient humans.

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Kee-ta clicked her mandibles in agitation as she clung tight against the gnarled bark of the tree she was hiding in. Her black chitin and pale brown skin blending well against the old tree even as the thick canopy hid her from view from below.

She closed her eyes and focused with her other two main senses as the Hunters below chirped to each other in greeting. It was just her luck to be at the spot where a group of youngbloods had arranged to meet and now be stuck until they decided to leave.

'But of course, she thought wryly, if I'd been paying attention I'd never have got into this mess'

The reason she had not noticed the increasing scent of Hunters nor the trampled ground was that her head had been, figuratively, in the clouds. Every minute her mind kept playing back that moment barely an hour ago that had made her feel more wonderful then she could ever imagine.

She clamped her mandibles together to stop the hiss of frustration that her aching body was yearning to release. But more so it was yearning for someone to release her.

Someone with such a gentle touch and soul yet a powerful and dangerous body, someone she had known for years but never imagined knowing in such an intimate way.

'Cha-chi…'

Her body shivered again and that special place between her legs, that she had never attributed a great deal of thought to, was now throbbing with feelings that made her want to scream and cry at the same time.

She had heard the older females talk in hushed tones about such feelings, usually that their mates had given them the night before, she had found it fascinating but also believed it to be a little too farfetched.

But then she spent barely five minutes in her old friends arms and she was willing to take back every scornful remark she made about the pleasure tow people could make.

She was broken out of her daydream when there was a greater chorus below and sniffing intently she got a rough image of a fourth Hunter rushing to greet the others.

A strange stink filled the air and the female wrinkled her nose and bared her fangs in disgust. Peering down at the Hunters she could fuzzily make out that one of the Hunters was holding something aloft that the others were eagerly clambering around it to get at.

She breathed deep again and realised that it was a large hunk of rotted meat the young reptile had acquired, probably ripped from the flank of a zombie. She snorted distastefully, it was just like those foul beasts to eat such wasted meat, and probably it was why so many of them were out of their minds.

'At least my clan makes an effort to find fresh meat and makes sure to properly treat dead flesh' she thought with scorn.

The Hunters below began to fight and tumble over the meat and Kee-ta sighed and made herself comfortable in the branches, 'looks like I'm gonna be here awhile' she thought irritably.

So as not to think about Cha-chi she picked up the object she had found earlier and sniffed it wondrously. The object was a thin metal stick that was made from a very shiny material, more so then normal metal.

Her fingers explored its length enjoyed the cool smooth touch and coming to rest on the protruding nub at one end of the stick.

She grinned and pressed down and was delighted that as she pushed the nub in it locked and a pokey bit shot out from the other end.

She tittered and pressed down at again and the nub came loose and returned to its previous position, the pointy bit returned inside the stick too.

Still though she remembered to stifle her sounds of glee the stick made a faint clicking sound every time Kee-ta pressed it and soon the repeating sound made one of the Hunters below cock its head, pausing in mid-chew, as it heard the strange noise.

The Hunter sniffed suspiciously and its slitted eyes widened as it smelt another very close by. It quietly chirped to its companions and soon all four Hunters were looking around and sniffing inquisitively.

Kee-ta paused as she sensed the predators below stop eating and when she glanced down she forced down a curse (More a high-pitched squeal that basically meant 'shit!') as she watched them explore the shrubbery around them.

She glanced over at the human building nearby, the one she had found the 'stick' in and just avoided being spider food too, and wondered if she should risk making a break for it.

When one of the Hunters stopped at the tree she was hiding in, sniffing at the base of its trunk then looking up in confusion, she knew she had to risk it. Otherwise she'd be caught in this tree and those Hunters could easily leap the height to get her.

But it was as she silently moved in position to leap, and the Hunter below dug its claws into the tree and prepared to leap, that a loud shriek made everyone start in surprise.

Kee-ta squinted down at the floor, her eyes picking up a blurred shape that was standing out in the open before the Hunters. Her eyes widened in shock as the scent reached her and she knew who it was instantly.

The Hunters quickly gathered together and eyed Cha-chi as the big male stood fearlessly in front of them, his four eyes glaring at each of them in turn as he stood at ease, calm and confident.

The Hunters, encouraged by their greater numbers, stalked forward, fanning out and surrounding the single warrior. But Cha-chi remained still just watching them and Kee-ta then knew his plan.

'He's distracting them from me!' She thought in horror and immediately her blood raced with adrenaline as she brandished her scythe and prepared to leap to her friends' aid. She was not going to allow her best friend to sacrifice himself just for her!

'Stay where you are Kee-ta I have this under control' Cha-chi hissed to Kee-ta though he made sure not to look in her direction. The Hunters, not understanding his language, assumed he was threatening them and growled back mockingly.

Kee-ta stared panic-stricken unsure whether to take his advice or do what she did to many males and disobey. However the next instant had her frozen in awe and unable to move only watch.

The Hunters had circled their silent prey and one of the bolder ones decided to take the first shot and lunged for Cha-chi's back, fangs bared and claws outstretched.

Quicker then Kee-ta believed possible her friend side-stepped and raked his scythe along the charging Hunters side, the beast shrieking in pain faltering in its charge and collapsing on its side in agony.

The others roared in outrage and charged forward hoping to pin Cha-chi between them and crush him, however the faster male launched his own attack heading for the nearest Hunter and slashing him across the face before the trap could close.

The reptile fell back clutching its bleeding face in pain and Cha-chi drew his scythe back for a killing blow. However before he could connect one of the other standing Hunters put on a burst of speed and threw itself against Cha-chi.

Her friend turned so that the Hunter smashed into his side and the predators greater weight forced him to the ground.

Even as the Hunter shrieked in triumph and slashed at Cha-chi's arm, spilling crimson blood in a wide arc, his discipline held and as he fell back with the Hunter he used its weight against it. Forcing them both into a roll he pushed up and forward with his clawed feet throwing the surprised monster right over his head and into the one Cha-chi had been attacking.

Quickly rushing to his feet he met the final Hunter just as it struck, its claws swinging in a deadly arc as it prepared to disembowel him.

The smaller but faster male jumped back, the claws slashing his stomach but not fatally, and quick as thought swung his own scythe in retaliation.

Though his speed was greater then a Hunter this one was smarter then its fellows and had been expecting a counter like this. As Cha-chi swung his scythe it ducked and was merely grazed across the back of its head, the wound irritating but in no way damaging.

Still ducked it thrust forward with a mighty punch, its green scaled hand curled into a mace of bone that would easily crush Cha-chi's ribcage should it connect, Kee-ta screamed in terror in that second and almost closed her eyes not wanting to see her friends end.

Fortunately Cha-chi was not a highly ranked warrior for nothing and the subtle movements of the Hunter alerted him to what it planned the instant it ducked his scythe. As its fist thrust at him he danced to the side, his twisting body avoiding the deadly punch by a mere centimetre.

Before it could pull back Cha-chi grabbed its stretched arm and curled his scythe around its elbow at the same instant. Quickly yanking with all his might the warrior threw the bulky beast past him and into the other two who had just started to rise.

All three went down in a tangled pile of claws and green scales and Cha-chi opened his mandibles wide in a roar of laughter.

He heard a painful hiss behind him and glancing back with his hind eyes he saw the first Hunter rising to its feet, though it was bleeding heavily pure hate was keeping it on its feet as it snarled at him.

'Kee-ta stay there until its clear then get back to the clan!' Cha-chi shrieked as he leap the mass of bodies before him and sprinted for deep forest.

'Cha-chi!' the young female screamed after him but the male merely screamed a 'DO AS I SAY!' before he disappeared into the forest.

As Cha-chi expected the Hunters picked themselves up and with chirps and squeals of outrage dashed after him, completely ignoring the female who hid in the trees above them.

The young female crouched paralysed by indecision as she heard the Hunters crashing through the undergrowth, roaring and shrieking in bloodlust as they gamely chased her friend.

She remained still for a full ten seconds before leaping from the tree and hurrying after the group as fast as she could.

She wouldn't let her friend face them alone!

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"You hear something?"

'We hear a lot of things Hazard'

"Hear what purple one?"

Hazard blinked and scrabbled a claw in his ear for a moment then tilted his head listening intently. Beside him Lisa watched him impatiently and within him Unity grew quiet as it heard something too.

"Something's coming" Hazard whispered and he quickly drew his weapons and stood protectively before Lisa.

"Sorry" he mumbled as Lisa pushed him aside, (almost knocking him over completely) and took a defensive posture next to him, her amber eyes glowing in anticipation.

Soon the high-pitched squealing and roaring was easily identifiable, "Hunters" Lisa hissed in glee and her tentacles snapped into the air excitedly.

"Just remember I'm on your side Lisa" Hazard said nervously as he ducked a swinging tentacle. He eyed the appendage wryly and wondered if Lisa would object to him slapping them if they hit him again.

Lisa turned her head and her eyes were thoughtful as she stared at him, "Don't worry Hazard if I kill you it won't be today" she said lightly before looking back into the undergrowth.

"That makes me feel so much better" Hazard muttered and Lisa shot him a mischievous look. A moment later the Tyrant squeaked as a tentacle ran sensually over the back of his neck and he stared at Lisa in surprise.

The girl threw him an apologetic look, "Sorry that was me trying to joke. I must be rusty after all these years," she said with an embarrassed laugh.

"Uh-huh" Hazard answered, unsure how to reply and a little shaky due to the previous caress.

'My god you mean she's saying she 'has' got a sense of humour?' Unity exclaimed in amazement.

'Not now Unity' Hazard growled as he clenched his fist tight around his knife and watched the bushes ahead shake and the shouts grow louder

There was a burst of movement, a shower of twigs and leaves, and a creature leapt from the undergrowth coming to a skidding halt as it saw the two Tyrants before it.

Lisa snarled as the monster stared at them in surprise but Hazard was open moved with shock. The beast before him had an uncanny resemblance to that bug-usher thing in his dream this morning.

It was covered in smooth black chitin and underneath its skin was a leathery brown. It had four limbs, two arms two legs, yet one arm ended in a long scythe of bone while the other was a more 'normal' hand with elongated fingers and wicked claws at the end.

Strangely it had a large 'growth' (that being the best way Hazard could word it in his mind) coming from its behind. After a seconds consideration he realised it was like an insects abdomen, like an ant or bee, further making him believe this was some kind of bug hybrid.

Lastly its face that was almost (And very 'almost') the most horrible thing he ever seen. Its face had smooth skin and a human shape but that was all that was normal. Its mouth had four mandibles like an insect and inside was sharp rows of teeth that definitely belonging to a carnivore.

Above its mouth it had not two but four eyes, two centre placed like a humans but the other two were on either side of its face to give the creature 180 degree vision.

Hazard was frozen in disgust as he gazed at the monster that panted heavily in exhaustion and gazed back fearfully. Beside him Lisa growled and rose her tentacles menacingly as she prepared to strike the weakened creature.

Hazard ears pricked as he heard an excited crashing as the Hunters approached and realised that the reptiles must have been chasing bug-boy here. The bug-boy in question glanced over its shoulder its trembling more prominent as it realised it was trapped between two groups of aggressors and now too tired to attempt an escape.

It closed its eyes for a second then when it reopened them they were filled with a resigned determination, a stubbornness that showed that even with its end approaching it was committed to making its killers remember its last stand.

Even as it half-crouched, prepared to lunge in any direction for what could be its final battle, Hazard felt respect and a tinge of admiration warm his chest and he knew that however horrible it may look it didn't deserve to die for that.

"Wait" Hazard ordered as Lisa prepared to attack, the girl staring at him in surprise and confusion but standing silent for the moment.

Hazard stepped forward and the monster eyed him warily, "Hurry get away" Hazard said in a rush, motioning for the creature to run past him and praying it would understand.

The creature stared back in confusion, a strange clicking sound coming from its mouth as if it was asking Hazard what he wanted.

"Hazard" Lisa growled, her tentacles twitching in anxiety and rising bloodlust as the approaching Hunters made her giddy with the desire to kill. She glared between the beast and Hazard wondering irritably why her friend didn't just kill the pathetic thing.

Hazard shot Lisa a beseeching look then turned back to the creature, he stepped to one side and urgently motioned for the creature to pass by, speaking softly to it to try and keep it calm.

Their was a loud screech from ahead and a Hunter sprang from the bushes and came to a halt as it saw Lisa and Hazard, pausing in uncertainty.

"Come on move!" Hazard yelled at the indecisive bug creature. Thankfully the appearance of the Hunter appeared to make up its mind and it darted forward passing by Hazard and coming to a halt a few meters behind them, staring nervously at Hazard and Lisa as they stood protectively in front of it.

Hazard smiled at it then glared at the Hunters that had began to emerge, Lisa shot the bug creature a warning glare then focused her attention on the Hunters.

"Payback time Lisa?" Hazard asked confidently.

Lisa answered with her characteristic screech that made Hazard wince and the Hunters cower in fear, she then launched herself at the Hunters, tentacles swinging through the air and bowling one over before it could react. Hazard grinned in excitement and rushed into the fray himself.

The first Hunter Lisa struck was thrown back into the forest and disappeared from sight, the two next to it quickly lunging at Lisa and meeting her in combat. Leaving one, this incidentally seemed to be the biggest, for Hazard to play with.

Hazard fired off an arrow and the Hunter proved its prowess by darted to the side and avoiding the attack, something that would have impressed Hazard if he didn't want to kill it.

Throwing his now empty crossbow away he stabbed at the beast with his knife aiming straight for its stomach with a roar of anger.

The Hunter dodged back and then rushed forward with a swipe that Hazard ducked with ease, replying with an upwards slash that cut across the Hunters chest and ended up its shoulder.

Ignoring the pain the Hunter closed the gap with Hazard and immediately began to grapple with him, hoping to use its greater mass and weight to overpower its leaner adversary. Hazard growling as he was pushed back but bracing his feet he pushed back surprising himself as he forced the Hunter away.

Realising that Hazard was as strong, (perhaps more) then itself the Hunter roared and utilised its natural weapons, striking forward with a headbutt that would have knocked Hazard senseless if it connected.

Fortunately Hazard had experienced this attack before and saw it coming. Leaning back he changed his grip and with some quick footwork threw the Hunter past him, its own weight and momentum aiding its flight.

Hazard laughed out loud as the Hunter picked itself up, its eyes blazing with hate and wounded pride. Hazard met its gaze with his own contemptuous stare as he clenched and unclenched his free claw and swished his tail excitedly.

'The beast is weak! It is no match for us… show it how inferior it is'

Hazard smirked and with an idle smile held his knife out and let it drop, the Hunter watching the action with surprise as Hazard surrendered his weapon.

The purple Tyrant stepped forward and held his arms out at his sides, a timeless gesture of 'come and get me then' as he stared at the Hunter with blazing gold eyes.

The Hunter blinked only once then rushed at Hazard, its whole mass held low as it charged with the force of a train, its claws sharp and jagged, its fangs like daggers, and its eyes burning with a terrifying desire to kill.

A human would have run screaming; even Hazard should have felt a hint of fear as it shot like a bullet towards him.

But all he felt was delight and an almost pleasurable excitement as he swung his fist and smashed it into the charging beasts' face, just an instant before it struck.

The Hunters' roar changed to a choked squeal as its nose broke and it fell back, barely staying on its feet as blood sprayed from its face as it weakly tried to stop the flow.

Hazard advanced and spinning on his heel swept the Hunters feet out from under it with his tail, the reptile crying out in pain as it fell heavily to the floor.

It tried to get out but with cold accuracy Hazard kicked it in the face and it collapsed again, mewling in pain as it held its broken face.

Hazard stepped calmly around it, his face blank as he watched it roll and squirm on the floor in pain. He came to a stop just beside its head and continued to watch it with cool detachment.

The Hunter looked up and it knew it was at the end. It had been bested by a creature more powerful then anything it had ever faced before and as it stared up at the sharp gold eyes of its executor it did something it had never done before.

It begged.

Hazard watched as the Hunter raised a hand weakly and began to chirp and squeal hurriedly, its tone weak and hurt but the meaning clear as it looked beseechingly into Hazards eyes.

It was asked him for mercy.

Hazard remained silent but the Hunter could see him shaking as if in the grip of some terrible emotion, or perhaps in the middle of mental war with himself.

The Hunters eyes widened and its begging increased as Hazard slowly raised a foot, its whining high-pitched as it pleaded for its life.

'Kill it'

Hazards face screwed up in agony as his raised foot trembled.

'I shouldn't' Hazard thought as he watched the beaten beast pled for mercy, fighting against his own growing rage.

'It would kill you if it could, it would show no mercy to you if your roles were reversed'

Hazard eyed the creature knowing it would kill him if it could but still… should he stoop to that level?

'Hazard what are you doing?' Unity whispered as it felt Hazard's indecisiveness and saw through his eyes the pleading creature.

'IT WOULD KILL LISA!'

Hazards foot slammed down into the Hunters face with terrible force, the trainer being splattered with blood and gore as Hazard foot crushed the Hunters skull and smearing the head into the ground. Hazard snarling in satisfaction as he twisted his heel, crushing the ooze that was the Hunters face, further into the ground.

'Hazard why did you do that?' Unity yelled shockingly.

"It would have killed Lisa if it could, the Tyrant answered coldly, letting it escape means it would have threatened her at a later date"

'But… it was defenceless'

"If it wanted to live then it shouldn't have started a fight" Hazard answered curtly as he looked over the area, searching for Lisa.

Unity fell into silence but it was feeling nothing but horror and a sickening feeling of shock as it examined its hosts mind wondering at his new found sense of rage.

Hazard found Lisa standing a few meters away, a dead Hunter at her feet and another squirming and struggling as Lisa held it in the air.

Hazard watched as Lisa snaked a tentacle around the fighting beasts neck and elegantly snapped its neck and dropped the now lifeless Hunter to the ground.

She looked around and her eyes met Hazards, "You ok?" he asked as he worriedly checked her over.

She shook her head, shaking off the adrenaline of the fight, then answered Hazard with a tired; "I am fine Hazard"

Hazard nodded and looked down at the two dead Hunters noting the quick and efficient way they had been killed. Lisa was certainly a much less sloppy killer then himself.

But as he stared a frown came to his brow as he realised something was amiss.

'There were four Hunters at the beginning, where is the fourth?' Unity asked first.

Hazard heard a scuffling behind him and spun round to the source of the sound. To his horror he saw the final Hunter was attacking the bug creature, overpowering its wounded prey while Hazard and Lisa were distracted.

Hazard dived for his crossbow, scooping it up and hurriedly reloading, the Hunter had its hands clamped tight around the bug monsters' throat and was steadily choking the life from it.

Hazard raised his cocked weapon and took aim but the Hunter spotted him training his weapon on it and spun its victim around so that it was in the way, the Hunter crouching behind the choking creature and grinning maliciously at Hazard.

'Dammit I can't risk shooting I'm not THAT good a marksman!' Hazard thought in dismay as he tried to find a clear shot.

The bug creatures' struggles were growing weak as its eyes began to close and Hazard prepared to fire and pray that his arrow wouldn't hit the Hunters captor. However before he could pull the trigger there was a loud screech of outrage from behind the struggling pair and another creature leapt from the undergrowth.

It was similar to the other bug monster, in that it was the same species, yet its eyes were a different colour and its skin was a much lighter shade, additionally it was much more slender then the other.

'We're willing to bet its female Hazard' Unity muttered.

Before the Hunter could turn the female bug had brought its scythe in an overhead arc right into the reptiles back, the bone claw sinking in deep and a spray of blood spat into the air as the Hunter roared in pain.

The female quickly pulled back hard, the Hunter being dragged back by the scythe impaled in its back and it was forced to let got of its choking prey.

The Hunter arched up as the female pulled back, its arms swiping feebly behind it, and Hazard took advantage and quickly released his shot.

The Hunter started in shock as the bolt slammed into its jaw and half-emerged from its skull with barely a sound. The large reptile remaining frozen for a few moments blinked stupidly as its brain tried to process what had happened before it fell back dead.

Hazard grinned as the scaley fell dead. That would teach the damn things to be more wary of him and Lisa!

He heard Lisa walk over to him and a hand gently lay on his head; he looked up questionably as Lisa gazed at him with clear amber eyes. Her tentacles traced over his body and he fought not to blush or shiver at the pleasant sensation.

"Just making sure you're ok" she mumbled defensively after Hazard coughed nervously, her eyes glaring at him for a moment daring him to try and make something of it.

"Thanks" he smiled back anyway and noted the lightening of her expression that he was beginning to understand meant she was smiling too.

Clearing his throat he stood up and looked worriedly over at the bug creature he had saved in what must have been the nick of time. The monster was coughing and rubbing its throat while waving away the other that was fussing over it.

Hazard stepped forward, opening his mouth to ask if they were ok, when the smaller creature hissed and sprang in front of him, its scythe hovering dangerously and mandibles bared in a snarl.

Hazard halted and glared back at the creature, he was only trying to be friendly and this was how it repaid him?

'I mean I save their lives and it wants to start a fight with me? What's up with that!' Hazard thought irritably.

The wounded bug was trying to tell the other to calm down judging by its harsh sounding clicking but the female wasn't budging just continued to glare at Hazard warningly.

Hazard felt his temper rise, very much like it had earlier with the Hunter, and felt his claws twitch with the urge to swat the damn nuisance aside and talk to the first bug directly… and perhaps give it an incentive to grovel and thank Hazard for saving its pathetic life.

'You saved its life so shouldn't that life belong to you now? Is it not your right to decide how it lives or dies now?'

Hazard almost stepped forward, intent on punishing the ugly things for their disobedience when he felt a familiar sensation take over his body. He had but a second to consider it before his own hand slapped him round the face.

"OW!"

'WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU HAZARD? WHY ARE YOU BEING SUCH A JERK YOU CRETIN?' Unity screeched in accusation as Hazard rubbed his smarting cheek.

"Wha?" was all Hazard could say; blinking rapidly as the anger drained away from him leaving him feeling tired for some reason.

'You are losing it Hazard, Unity growled, get this anger of yours under control or so help us we will smack you silly until you start being the goodie we know and love again'

'Don't tell me what to do Unity' Hazard thought back in a hiss of indignation, angrily retorting before he could stop himself.

The Tyrants eyes widened as he realised what he just thought and he groaned and held his head as he felt Unity's anger.

'I… I'm sorry… I don't know what-' Hazard thought in an apologetic babble.

However Hazard's babbling wasn't enough and with a loud roar of rage that made Hazard feel his head was gonna blow Unity made its displeasure known.

Hazard yelped as a fist smashed into his stomach, then again when his own tail tripped him up. He gasped for breath as he lay winded on the floor blushing with embarrassment as Lisa and the two bugs stared at him in amazement.

'Please don't hit me again' Hazard pleaded to Unity.

'Don't make me hit you again' the persona hissed before falling silent.

Hazard cautiously got back to his feet mumbling "Sorry for that" to his staring audience as he got his breath back.

'I'm sorry Unity I don't know why I acted like that… please forgive me' Hazard thought as he closed his eyes in pain. However he received nothing but sullen silence from his friend. The silence more hurtful then Unity's previous shouting.

"Hazard?" Lisa carefully approached him, a cautious and worried expression in her eyes, "Are you all right?"

Hazard nodded weakly, "Just something I gotta handle Lisa, I'll explain later," he said wearily, hoping Lisa wouldn't press the matter.

The girl didn't question him but he could still see the nervousness in her eyes and posture and knew he'd have to explain Unity and Virus to her before the day was over.

'Man that's gonna be fun, Hey Lisa! Just thought you should know I'm a split personality! Still wanna be friends?' he thought with dark humour.

He felt a stir from Unity and wondered if it would say anything but it remained stubbornly quiet just watched him edgily.

Hazard rubbed at his eyes trying to recollect his thoughts when there was a burst of clicking from the two bugs and they hesitantly approached him, the weaker male being supported by the female.

Hazard met the males questioning eyes and shrugged distractedly, "Can't even begin to explain my fit just now so I'll just say you ok?" he asked with false cheer.

The two bugs exchanged glances and began to click and hiss to each other as they conversed, Hazard stared at a loss to understand.

"Chimeras' do not understand our language" Lisa spoke quietly into his ear, "Nor can I make any sense of theirs"

"Chimeras'?" Hazard replied in question, his mind so tired he barely had the strength to inquire.

"They were another of the weapons made by Umbrella, a genetic crossbreed between insects and humans that was supposed to be a kind of spy or stealth soldier" Lisa explained, her tone bored as the Chimeras' talked.

Hazard glanced at Lisa noticing her impatience and guessing she wasn't used to this kind of situation and wanted to get going as soon as possible. Though Hazard would normally be happy to stay and talk to the Chimeras' he was too mentally fatigued by the fight and his argument with Unity to want to stay.

'Plus I feel… strange… strange for some other reason then an argument. Just 'why' was I so angry earlier?' Hazard thought in perplexity, worried by the rage he had experienced barely five minutes ago. He didn't like this anger that had griped him twice in less then ten minutes.

At last the Chimeras' finished speaking and the wounded male hobbled closer to Hazard and sniffed at him for a moment, the Tyrant holding still more uncertain then afraid as the beast sniffed at his chest.

The male then backed away and when it looked up at Hazard there was warmth in its four eyes now. It clicked to itself in thought; tilting its head as it did, then grinned and extended its clawed hand to the confused Tyrant.

Hazard stared for a moment, at first worried by its grin considering how many teeth it had, but now realising it was asking for a hand shake.

"Well at least I understand that" Hazard said with a smile as he took the proffered hand and gave it a hearty shake, the Chimera hissing to itself and shaking back enthusiastically.

"As fun as it looks we should be going Hazard, blood attracts things here purple one" Lisa whispered to Hazard, her words impatient and a little worried as her eyes darted around the wood carefully. Her amber eyes alternating between staring suspiciously at the surrounding woods and shooting the Chimeras' cold looks.

Hazard sighed and gave the Chimera an apologetic look, "Sorry buddy but the wife says we gotta go and I can't argue with her," Hazard said, grinning at Lisa's indignant glare.

The Chimera chirped in understanding and backed away, quickly being steadied by the other, they turned to leave but the female stopped and whispered to the male for a few moments before gingerly letting go of him and padding over to Hazard.

Hazard looked down at her curiously, despite their first meeting he guessed she was probably quite kind and cheerful judging by her bright eyes and nervous twitching.

He was about to lay a hand on her to calm her down before she thrust her hand out presenting something to him. Hazard cocked an eyebrow as he gazed at the thing she held out to him.

"This for me?" he asked as his hand hovered over hers. The female grunting impatiently in answer as she pushed her hand towards his.

Hazard hesitantly plucked the item from her hand turning it over in his fingers as he examined it, "A ballpoint pen?" he asked in disbelief, wondering at the strangeness of the metal gift.

The female smiled, (Again Hazard felt uneasy) and answered with a happy burst of chirps as she pointed out its functions excitedly.

"I have no idea what you said but thanks for the gift anyway" Hazard answered as he pocketed the pen. He paused in thought for a moment then rooted in his own pockets for something.

"Here ya go! An even trade Chimera girl" Hazard beamed as he handed the chimera a small pocket mirror.

The Chimera squealed and excitedly took the gift and Hazard smiled as he watched the female babble to the other about her new toy, however a tap on his shoulder made him turn towards an amused Lisa.

"Why do you carry something like that around with you?" Lisa asked mischievously as the Chimera cooed and poked at her own reflection.

"Its just something I picked up in the mansion" Hazard said defensively.

"You sure it's not to 'admire' your eyes from time to time Hazard?" Lisa chortled.

Hazard blushed and scratched his head, "Just to check my face for any wounds or blemishes from time to time" he weakly lied.

Lisa tilted her head and eyed him shrewdly; "Uh-huh" was all she said.

Hazard blushed harder, squirming under Lisa's bright gaze, he coughed, and turned back to the Chimera, "You like?"

The monster must have guessed what he was asking as she screeched happily and clutched it to her chest like a little kid, albeit a mutant bug kid.

Hazard grinned and almost patted her on the head but reined himself in when he realised he'd probably get bitten.

The male clicked impatiently and the female chirped a goodbye before hurrying to her friend and lending him support. Hazard watched the two disappear, (the female waving goodbye that Hazard answered with his own before they vanished in the undergrowth) and wondered if he should escort them to safety.

"They will be fine, there is a Chimera tunnel nearby" Lisa said calmly, noticing Hazards' unease and correctly interpreting the reason.

"You sure?" Hazard asked, taking a few steps forward and peering into the forest nervously.

Lisa sighed and looped a tentacle around Hazards arm and dragged the protesting Tyrant away, "They are more capable of surviving in this land then you are Hazard, after all they have lived here several years at least" Lisa said consolingly as Hazard reluctantly followed her.

"Yeah but he was injured" The young Tyrant muttered.

"And he will heal, very quickly I might add" Lisa stated growing bored with Hazards worrying, after all it was all unnecessary.

It still confused Lisa why they had risked themselves ('well as much of a risk that those pitiful Hunters made' Lisa thought mockingly) to save two Chimeras. In the past Lisa had killed them without hesitation, something she would have done again today regardless of the males wounded state. That would have just meant easier food for her.

'But Hazard stopped me, with just a pleading look I went against my instincts and spared them… why'd I do that?' the female Tyrant wondered in confusion.

"Were we going if 'I' may ask Lisa?" Hazard asked, his words disrupting Lisa's thoughts.

"Uh we are continuing on my patrol route" she answered simply.

"And the route is?" Hazard pressed.

"Otherwise called a path" Lisa quipped.

Hazard scowled at her and Lisa grinned under her mask, she was finding some enjoyment in pestering her young companion.

"Why did you spare the Chimera's?" Lisa asked, to satisfy her curiosity and to prevent Hazard's questions.

Hazard blinked and again gave Lisa another of those 'you being a duh?' looks, "Because he was injured and being chased by Hunters" he said simply.

"So? We kill him, and the Hunters, and have more food to bring back home"

Lisa glanced back the way they had came, their passage allowing the forest to hid the bodies from her eyes, 'Actually I should probably have dragged those corpses back home really' she though in self-annoyance and missing Hazards revolted look.

"Lisa we couldn't have eaten them!" Hazard said in shocked surprise.

Lisa gave him a shrewd look, "So what else do we eat Mr peaceful?"

"There's a fridge stocked with food back in the mansion, I've been eating from that without troubles"

Lisa smirked and clapped her hands, "Oh well, a fridge! Our food problems are over, we'll be set up for life!"

Hazard growled at her, "It will last awhile and means we wouldn't have to eat the Chimeras'" he said curtly.

Lisa shook her head, "Yes Hazard but that food will only last a few days at best and 'experience', she said the word to him insultingly, has taught me to save and preserve whatever sources of food I can find"

Lisa finished and stared at Hazard as the Tyrant glared at her venomously. She watched his slitted eyes staring at her with a healthy dose of anger, probably due to her reminding him of her older and wiser status, and wondered if she had gone too far.

However as she readied herself to fight Hazard looked away and closed his eyes, "It may be logical but I won't let you kill and eat creatures that mean us no harm Lisa, its not the 'right' thing to do and that's that" he said once he had calmed himself down.

Lisa watched Hazard stare angrily at the ground and felt another unaccustomed emotion… regret.

The girl sighed and stepped forward her hands cautiously taking Hazards own half-expecting him to squeeze and hurt her yet his hold was gentle as he looked up at her with still hurt eyes.

"Look I'm not saying we hunt those Chimeras down or kill them when we next meet them I'm just saying Hazard that you're gonna have to get used to doing some things that you probably won't like if you want to survive" Lisa said gently, surprising herself at being the calming one this time.

Hazard nodded and his face now showed resignation and a little fear, "I'm just scared that I'll end up like 'them', Hazard spat the word in disgust, just another beast trying to survive" he whispered fearfully.

Lisa watched him carefully, his pain understood as she had been dealing with it for a very long time herself, 'Holding onto your sanity in this place isn't easy that's for sure' she thought morosely.

"Hey, Lisa spoke gently, you said that you admired me for surviving this long without going nuts right?

She waited for Hazards nod, "Then if I can survive this long then with the two of use together we'll hold onto our minds for many years to come" she continued supportably.

"Until we escape," Hazard added confidently.

Lisa nodded thought didn't say an answer as she wasn't certain herself about that.

'Not after over a decade of being alone'

Hazard steeled himself and met Lisa's eyes with fresh determination; "Ok Lisa I'll try and pick up some new eating habits from you if you pick up some caring habits from me?" he challenged.

The girl smiled though Hazard couldn't see it, 'I already have' she thought uncomfortably.

"We'll see" she finished and carried on walking, Hazard following and arguing about "That's not a proper answer Lisa!"

The two Tyrants continued on deeper into the forest Hazard following his newfound friend with nothing but trust, compassion, and a deep but well hidden feeling of… something in his chest. But something he wouldn't dare name or mention out loud.

As for Lisa for the first time she felt completely secure and safe having another creature guarding her back, the instinctual urge to attack and thus defend her vulnerable back not once making itself known.

And as she led Hazard through her routine, giggling as he stumbled and cursed through the forest, she felt the loneliness that she had suffered for many years begin to lift…

And in its place leave a warm sensation in her chest that, while new and frightening, she wouldn't ever wish it gone from her.

"Hazard would you stop playing around before every predator for miles discovers us" Lisa snapped, but secretly smiling under her veil.

Hazard curt reply and subsequent squeal as he tripped again brought a burst of laughter from the girl as she watched Hazard writhe on the floor, yelling "ITS NOT FUNNY!" as he tried to free himself of the vines tangled around him.

'Thank you God, wherever you are, for giving me this miracle' the ferocious and yet gentle girl thought as she helped Hazard up and tidied him up.

"Sorry" Hazard muttered as he pulled a twig from his hair.

"Don't worry about it purple one" Lisa giggled.

"Why do you call me that?" Hazard asked with a squinted stare.

"Cause its what you are" Lisa said seriously, "Stupid" she added with an invisible grin.

Hazard stared at her for a moment, his eyes wide with surprise at Lisa's (however lame) banter, before he shrieked and chased after her, "Oh you gonna pay for that, nobody calls Hazard stupid!" he yelled laughingly as he chased her.

And to Lisa's delightful surprise the urge to fight never rose and instead she ran, laughing and squealing as her friend chased her, his own laughter music to her ears.

'I have a friend' Lisa thought happily as she dodged Hazard and the two chased one another through the forest. Bright grins on both their smiling faces.

Monsters playing like the children they were, monsters at last experiencing the joy of friendship.

Monsters at last beginning to feel the first gentle touches of love.

End Act 3

OH MY GOD!

It has taken me FUCKING months; it seems, to complete this!

I mean first it was only gonna be forty pages or so but then it went on and on and it was NEVER right to be called finished.

'Just a bit more, just a bit more' I kept saying.

BUT! At last I consider this act done and what a great FEELING it is! J

Oh man I'm so tired and happy now.

My longest chappy 'ever' and I PRAY that you, my much loved readers (seriously love you all) will be so kind to review and hopefully have enjoyed it immensely.

Sigh (falls back in chair) think I'm gonna wait a bit and have a rest before doing the next Act.

Besides (musing) I gotta get next chapter of 'born from darkness loved by light' done now…

OK! Thankies so much for reading and I'll get back to this once I got my sonic chapter done so hopefully almost 100 pages of writing will keep you guys happy until the next batch.

But please! (Gets down on knees and begs) don't ask for another hug Act as I think another of these long chapters would kill me!

Ok so take care, bye-bye then, (sticks tongue out) PLEAW!