EDITED 3/19/2012. Removed adverbs, cleaned up a lot of sentences. Tried my best to fix some P.O.V issues. Added a classy quote.
EDITING 7/11/2012 Minor changes, some additions to help fit in with future chapters.
The Devil's Queen
"The Devil pulls the strings which make us dance;
We find delight in the most loathsome things;
Some furtherance of Hell each new day brings,
And yet we feel no horror in that rank advance."
It was nearly impossible to miss her.
Standing on the mezzanine level of the ballroom with one delicate hand placed on the wooden railing, the other holding a champagne glass by the tips of her fingers, she had the looks that drew the eyes of everyone in the room. Her stance was purposeful: hips jutted out seductively to one side, head titled back to reveal the smooth curve of the neck. She was a diamond in a coal mine, and she was well aware of it.
Despite the fact that she was one of the few women attending the party, she was completely at ease in the company of the opposite sex. Men approached her like moths attracted to the light. They orbited around her, desperately struggling to catch her attention and spark a conversation.
She enjoyed their goggling stares. She loved watching them strut around pathetically like peacocks as they attempted to impress her with hints of power, money and wealth. It didn't matter that most were twice her age and probably had more mistresses than the fingers on her hand. She continued to bask in their compliments like a snake in the sun, laughing delicately at their bad jokes and smiling alluringly whenever the time was right. It was a like game to her, and even from fifty feet away, Albert Wesker knew that she was enjoying it.
Reclining in one of the numerous, leather lounge chairs on the ground floor, he smiled to himself as he watched the female through the tinted lenses of his sunglasses. It was obvious to him that she saw her copious admirers as mere stepping stones, whose power and influence were the only things she sought. It was a line of thought he was intimately familiar with.
"Taken a fancy to Miss Gionne, hm?"
Like many of the other party guests, the man who had spoken was wearing a priceless suit, complete with a solid gold chain tucked in the front pocket. Against the extravagant attire, his wrinkled, lopsided face stuck out like a dented fender on a luxury sports car. A bodyguard loomed threateningly next to the man's elbow.
"Take my advice and forget about her. She may be a Venus on the outside, but she's one nasty bitch inside," the stranger said. He took a sip from his cocktail glass before continuing. "That's the problem with girls nowadays. They think they're so smart. Think they've got the brains to compete in a man's business. Excella's the worst of them all. She's sly. She'll do anything to get what she wants."
"Personal experience?" Wesker asked. He didn't bother to face the newcomer, and kept his eyes on to the woman in the distance. She was now chatting with a new set of young admirers who seemed dazed by her radiance. Every now and then, she would flick her wrist gracefully while she talked, causing the golden bracelets on her arms to jangle entrancingly in front of their eyes.
"It was a few months back. Bitch took a chunk of my money when she was finished." The man took another gulp of his drink. "In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. The whore's in for a surprise tonight, after the party…a little something I've got planned for her. I don't want her to think that she can get away without any consequences. We can't let the womenfolk get too cocky, you know, gotta let them know who's in charge. You seem like an interesting guy. Care to join?"
"Are you sure? I could let you have a go at her, if you know what I mean."
Wesker remained silent.
"Well, suit yourself," the stranger said with a shrug.
He downed the rest of his glass before carelessly tossing it to a passing attendant. Turning back towards Wesker, he smacked his lips a few times, revealing two rows of crooked, tobacco-stained teeth.
"Is this your first time at a Tricell fundraiser? I haven't seen your face around here before," the man asked.
"Are you here for anything in particular?" Wesker could feel the strangers' eyes roaming across his jet black suit, sizing up his attire.
"Just getting to know Tricell a little better," the blond man answered, still gazing up at the staircase. The woman, Excella, had shed the young suitors and was now speaking to an older man in a lavish, silk tuxedo. She was obviously irritated with his presence. Wesker could recognize the forced, dry smile plastered on her face even from fifty feet away.
"So you plan on doing some business with us, hm? Well, if you want, I have some contacts that you might find useful."
"I don't think that will be necessary," Wesker replied. In fact, I think I've already found one, he thought to himself with a smile, as he watched Excella Gionne leaning elegantly on the wooden railing. She said something to the man in the silk suit, causing him to go red in the face and growl something in reply. But the only reaction he got was a haughty laugh. The man, infuriated, turned heel and stormed away.
"Fine by me." The stranger's voice was clipped, no doubt annoyed that the mysterious man in shades had not appreciated his offer nor introduced himself properly. Standing up, he drifted away to the refreshments table for another drink, followed dutifully by his bodyguard.
On the higher level, Excella had turned around to briefly scan the room for any other associates to mingle with. There was a blond man in dark shades lounging casually on one of the chairs near the center of the room. She could feel his gaze, even under his sunglasses, and she paused to flash a provocative smile. When the blond man did not return it, she scoffed and drifted away, the movement causing the fabric of her dress to stretch alluringly over her thighs. She didn't have to look to know that the men nearby were shooting covert glances at her retreating figure, their eyes devouring the way the silk slid over her curves. The countless hours she'd spent selecting and tailoring her wardrobe were paying off. Smiling, she exited the room through a curtained entryway that led out to the balcony.
The thin fabric of the dress did little to fight to cold, but at least out here, she wouldn't have to put up with any more of that inane chatter. The young ones she didn't mind as much, but those white haired perverts were so unbearably boring. It's a shame that they're the ones with all the money, she thought to herself, leaning against the stone railing to stare out at the city below.
Sounds from the fundraiser drifted lazily in from the doorway behind her. It reminded her of her earlier conversation with the man in the silk suit and she clenched her teeth. The impurity of the Gionne family? How dare he. She had barely restrained herself from slapping him across the face.
"I'll show him who's impure…," she muttered to herself.
Excella jumped in surprise, one hand shooting instinctively down into her purse to grab hold of the compact revolver. Where had he come from? She hadn't heard any footsteps. Cautiously, she stepped back to face the newcomer besides her, all the while maintaining a grip on the weapon in her purse.
"Did I frighten you?" he said, a hint of a smile on his lips.
She recognized him. It was the man from earlier, the one in the shades that had been staring at her in the lobby. Inwardly, Excella breathed a sigh of relief and loosened her grip on the firearm. As long as it was someone from the fundraiser—specifically, someone she hadn't double crossed before— she would be safe.
She shifted her body to a more enticing position, allowing her curves to show more clearly through the fabric of her dress. They were practiced motions, perfected by hours in front of a mirror.
"Only a little bit," she drawled, her accent thickening the words. She smiled up at the stranger, hoping she'd come off as bold and fearless.
Now that she could see him up close, Excella realized that the situation was far more intimidating than she'd originally thought. His shades hid any hint of an expression and his mocking smile seemed almost predatory, white teeth baring out from beneath the lips. There was something about the way he carried himself that emitted power and confidence, so different than the other men back at the fundraiser with their custom fitted tuxedos and Rolex watches. It felt primal and ancient, like a tiger in the jungle. A magnificent creature, yet deadly to any who dared approach.
Wesker could smell the fear drifting off the woman despite her cool exterior. It was a familiar scent, one that never failed to stir up a pristine, fearsome excitement deep inside of him. He had the sudden compulsion to tear her apart with his bare hands, to feel the blood dripping between his fingers as he crushed her fragile life to pieces. But that was the virus talking, whispering to him like a hundred tiny voices promising death and destruction.
He ignored them and focused instead on Excella's beating heart. He could hear it pounding a steady rhythm, and he smiled inwardly. So, she could maintain her composure in the face of adversity. He'd made a good choice.
"Shouldn't you be introducing yourself?" Excella asked, raising one delicately plucked eyebrow. "You aren't going to have much of chance with me if you don't even bother to say hello."
"You think I'm interested in you?"
"Men usually are." She leaned one elbow gracefully on the stone railing. "I suppose I misjudged you then."
Wesker remained silent. It made the woman uncomfortable, and she fidgeted a bit, as if unsure of whether to continue speaking.
"Don't waste my time," she said finally. "What do you want?"
Excella gave a short bark of laughter, throwing her head back in the process. The smooth skin on her throat shone in the moonlight, and Wesker felt his fingers twitch. He could have snapped it so easily. Only a moment of pressure and she would have died at the spot.
In time, he told the hungry voices inside of him, even as they twisted and churned in frustration. He needed her now. Perhaps the female would provide him with some entertainment in the meantime.
Excella sobered up when she saw the man's smirk. His behavior was so unusual and unlike the phony, polite banter she was accustomed to. It made her nervous, not knowing what was going on behind those impenetrable sunglasses.
"You're joking, right?" she said, dismissing him with a casual wave of a pale hand. "I don't even know your name, and you're asking that we talk business? I deal with some of the powerful, influential people in the world, every single day. What makes you think you're so much more important than them?"
"I have something that you might want."
"Information. Valuable data that Tricell will never allow you to lay your eyes on, no matter how capable you prove yourself to be," he said softly. He leaned in closer, so that he was almost whispering in her ear. "You know that you can't get any higher the way you are now. Work with me, and I'll fix that faster than the blink of an eye."
She took a step back and tried her best to look indifferent. It was ridiculous, alright, but she couldn't help but indulge in the fantasy for just a moment. A secret informant, with everything she needed to impress even the highest in Tricell? If what he said was true, it would be a dream come true, a way to melt away the frustration that had been building up for years in her heart. Those chauvinist bastards that had sent her letter after letter of craftily disguised insults and threats would get what they deserved when they saw her on the top. She could already taste the bittersweet revenge.
But that was the problem. It was too perfect, and it made her wary. This stranger was offering her something that she had worked her entire life to achieve. There was no way it could be true; it had to be some type of clever scam.
"And how do I know that you really have this information?"
"I used to work for Umbrella," he said, as if the company's name would explain away everything. Excella wasn't convinced.
"Umbrella? I thought they killed off all their researchers after the bankruptcy."
Excella waited for him to continue, but the stranger remained silent.
"I need proof," she said finally. "I want to see the hard evidence before I make any decisions. And that means that before we talk business, I need to know how came about obtaining this data, what it contains…"
She stopped abruptly when she realized that the man wasn't listening to her anymore. He had tilted his head slightly to one side, as if concentrating on something far away. Although Excella couldn't see his eyes beneath the sunglasses, she could imagine that they were closed.
"Excuse me?" she said.
The stranger held up his hand, an obvious gesture of silence. Excella let out a breath of impatience and threw her arms in the air. Who was this imbecile? Did he really think he could go around ignoring her—
"You should get a new one," the blond man said.
"You should get a new driver. This one isn't trustworthy."
"What the hell are you—"
"Your chauffeur has just accepted a great deal of cash in order to be purposefully late. There's a man, back inside," he nodded toward the doorway. "who wants to kidnap you tonight. He plans on striking after the party, while you stand outside in the street, waiting for your limousine to come."
Excella stared at him for a second, before a look of annoyance and skepticism flooded her features.
"Oh really?" she asked. "And how, exactly, did you know that? Did a little voice in your head tell you that?"
"They're discussing it right below us." The man waved vaguely at two figures in the street underneath the balcony. Excella took a glance out of curiosity, but the ballroom was almost five stories up, making it impossible to recognize the shadows, much less hear their conversation amid the chatter of the party behind them.
"You're crazy," she said flatly. "You're crazy, and you're wasting my time." She turned away from the view and faced the stranger once more. In the glow of the outdoor lamps, she could see that he was smirking again.
"What? Do you think this is funny?" she snarled back. "What is this? Some kind of stupid joke?"
"You don't believe me?" he said, smile widening. So, he was toying with her. Clearly he was enjoying it too. Excella gave him her most vile scowl, before turning away and storming out the door. An attendant heading outside with a plate of drinks was rudely shoved aside as the woman marched back into the ballroom.
"Bastardo," she muttered to herself as she walked downstairs and into the lobby. The party was already thinning out as midnight drew nearer, leaving only the more inebriated guests chattering in the corners. The few sober ones were shaking hands with one another and exchanging polite farewells.
As she picked her way past a couple of food-ridden tables, she discovered that her anger was starting to evaporate. After all, she was no stranger to insults and jokes; working at Tricell had made sure of that. Excella sighed, and grabbed a leftover cocktail drink at the refreshments table. Sipping it, she turned back towards the balcony doorway to see if the blond stranger had followed her out. He hadn't.
It's a bit of shame, she thought to herself as she recalled the man's angular face and chiseled features. He was quite handsome…and it has been a while since I'd slept with someone who was worth looking at. She felt her heart flutter a bit at this thought. Annoyed at herself, Excella downed the rest of her drink and slammed the glass back on the table with such force that the waiter standing nearby backed away prudently. Don't be stupid, Excella. You could tell he was dangerous. Get involved with those types of men and you'll wind up dead for sure.
"Excuse me, miss?" said one of the attendants who had sidled up to her while she had been thinking. The vested man twisted his hands nervously. "The chauffeur outside…he told me to tell you that your limousine has arrived."
Excella didn't bother to answer. Instead, she shoved the attendant aside and headed out toward the elevators in the back of the ballroom. As she neared the entrance of the facility, her steps slowed. Hadn't the stranger said that there were men planning to kidnap her? One side of her wanted to slam the double doors open and walk showily out into the street, just to prove that he had been wrong. The other half warned not to let her emotions get the better of reason, and that caution would be the best way to proceed. Although she was fairly certain that the stranger had only been scaring her, she did know several men who wouldn't mind seeing her dead.
In the end, she decided hold her compact revolver discreetly in the palm of her hand before exiting the building.
The street was completely deserted. Which was odd of course. Hadn't the party just ended? She would have expected the usual flurry of half-drunk men in tuxedoes worth enough to feed an African village, stumbling into their priceless cars as they headed home for the evening. This time, however, there wasn't a person in sight.
Excella warily approached the curb, unsure of whether she should retreat back into the building. She took a glance upwards to see if the stranger was still on the balcony. He wasn't. In fact, there was no one on any of the balconies above her.
The sound of an engine approaching startled her for a moment, but when she realized that the approaching headlights were that of her own limousine, she gave a sigh of relief. So she had been right after all. The stranger had just been some idiot attempting to play some distasteful practical joke. She waved loftily at the vehicle, and watched as it screeched to a stop in front of her.
The passenger door opened and a man stepped out of the car. The golden chain folded in his pocket glinted under the streetlight as he strolled out onto the sidewalk.
"I suppose I am," the man said with a shrug, smiling at Excella. The other doors opened simultaneously and three other men stepped out, each one built like a slab of rock, their suits tight against iron hard muscles.
"So if it isn't my dear Stanton," Excella replied, returning the newcomer's smile with an even sweeter one. "Words cannot describe how glad I am to see you."
"Don't play around, Excella. Get in the car."
"What? No time for pleasantries?"
"I won't repeat myself again. Get in the car." At Stanton's signal, the body guard nearest to the female took a threatening step forward.
"Oh, my apologies. I totally forgot," Excella said with a jeering grin. She turned to the nearest guard. "Poor Stanton here is still a bit depressed over the little 'mix-up' we had last time. You must excuse his rudeness."
"Don't you dare…," Stanton fumed, his face darkening.
He took a step forward and Excella half expected him to hit her across the face. If he'd have done that, she'd have been ready with her revolver. However, the old man stopped mid-step, his eyes focused over her shoulder. A look of confusion flashed briefly over his twisted features, before morphing into a knowing smile.
"Changed your mind, have you?" Stanton asked.
Curiosity got the better of her, and Excella turned to see who had arrived. At first it was hard to recognize the individual, whose black suit blended well with the night shadows. But as he sauntered under the street light, she could easily pick out the square jaw-line, the glossy, golden hair, and the odd shades.
Wesker smiled to himself when he saw Excella gape at him. He had to give credit to the woman for being so strong-minded in a situation like this. Of course, he wouldn't have chosen her if she didn't already have the qualities he was looking for. Now, all that was left was to persuade the women to join him in his cause.
"I knew you'd change your mind," Stanton said. "You won't regret coming, that's for sure."
"Oh, I definitely won't regret it," Wesker said, as he approached the nearest guard. With one smooth movement he plunged his gloved hand into the man's chest, hearing the satisfying crack of ribs followed by a familiar squelch as his fingers pierced through the man's heart.
The body guard gurgled for a second, eyes wide in horror, before he sagged downwards as Wesker ripped his hand away. Excella gave a little gasp of alarm from besides the car. He ignored her, and instead, held his forearm up into the light. A shiver of excitement ran through him as he watched the warm, red liquid drip down between his fingers and his virus seemed to curl inside of him in pleasure. Blood had stained his suit up to his elbow, but he didn't mind. He could always get a new one later.
Wesker spotted the glint of metal from the corner of his eye as the second guard reached into his jacket to pull out a Colt semi-automatic. These men were trained to be deadly, fast, and unbeatable. But a lifetime of muscle building and top notch practice was still nothing compared to the inhumane power coursing through his veins. The tip of the pistol had just brushed past the edge of the guard's shirt when a hand encircled his throat. With a deft twist, Wesker snapped the neck in two, the crack echoing down the empty road.
The last guard had been faster than his now dead companions. By this time, he had leveled his pistol and had it pointed at the blond man's head. It was a perfect shot. Had it connected, it would have drilled a hole right between the blond's eyes. By the time he pulled the trigger, however, his target had already disappeared. The guard was quick; seeing a blur of movement to his right, he threw a fast punch in that direction. Wesker grabbed the fist easily before it made contact and squeezed, hearing the bones pop and crack beneath his fingers. He yanked the entire arm downward, pulling it right out of the socket and threw the man bodily onto the ground, hard. The guard's head hit the curb with a wet snap and his neck flopped uselessly to one side.
He was straightening up when he heard a gunshot ring out from behind him. Wesker spun around much faster than he had meant to, the dead guard's pistol in one hand.
Excella had her compact revolver out, held near the side of her hip. In front of her, Stanton was staring, mouth open in shock, at his chest. A widening, crimson spot was smeared on his priceless suit, the liquid seeping through the fabric. He made a choked noise from the back of his throat, before stumbling to his knees and crumbling down onto the asphalt. Coolly, Excella placed her firearm back into her purse. She didn't seem troubled at all.
"I'm impressed," Wesker said. He walked up to the old man's body and nudged it over with his foot. Bending down, he pulled out Stanton's golden chain with his thumb and forefinger and held it up to the light.
"You didn't think I could handle this on my own?" she said. "I'm not some kind of 'damsel in distress,' you know."
Wesker pocketed the golden chain before effortlessly reaching down and lifting Stanton's body up with one hand. He dragged it methodically into the shadows of a nearby alley before returning for the other corpses. From the corner of his eye, he watched Excella standing on the sidewalk. She had her arms folded tightly over her chest and he could see goose bumps crawling over her exposed shoulders. At least she hadn't turned tail screaming like so many others before her. Most of them hadn't even finished their second torrent of shrieks before he had been forced to silence them.
Unlike Wesker's ill-fated victims, Excella was actually doing excellent job hiding her fears. To the ordinary pedestrian, she was as calm as one could be; she could have just finished painting her nails or enjoyed a morning latte. However, Wesker's inhuman ears could hear her heart pounding fast and irregularly against her ribcage.
He found himself wondering what it would feel like to crush that heart between his fingers. He ignored the thought, pushing it away to the back of his consciousness. He'd had years to become accustomed to the side effects of his power.
By the time he had finished lugging the final body into the hiding place; Excella had somehow procured a cigarette from her purse. She lit it unceremoniously and took a drag before turning to face Wesker.
"So what is it? T-veronica?" she said thoughtfully, more to herself than to him. "No…it can't be. There's no visible mutation, unless…" She eyed his sunglasses.
"You're a nosy one, aren't you?" Wesker said with a smile that would have made dogs howl and cats hiss. He casually shook out the sleeve of his right arm, splattering red liquid artistically over the concrete. It didn't' do much; his arm looked like he had dipped it into a bucket of dark crimson paint. He made quite a sight, standing there in his ink black suit, decorated with blood and specks of human tissue.
"It's the burden of having a scientific mind," Excella said, tapping the top of her head lightly with the tips of her fingers. Her eyes were glimmering with some type of emotion that he couldn't quite identify. Was it fear? Envy? Awe?
She suddenly took a step forward, in front of Wesker, and reached toward him with one delicate hand. It wavered there for a moment, uncertain, as she studied his face for any sign of dangerous objection. Seeing none, she carefully settled her hand onto the front of his chest. He could hear her heart pounding faster, no doubt surprised at the heat radiating fiercely through the fabric. His abnormally high body temperature was yet another unfortunate side effect of his mutation.
"It's magnificent," she whispered softly, staring at him with those glittering, brown eyes. "Such strength and speed and…grace, yet not a single sign of instability."
Wesker chuckled ominously at her statement before reaching up and gently removing her hand. She flinched slightly when he touched her and hastily pulled her hand out of his grip. So, she was afraid. But who wouldn't be, after seeing what he had done?
"You've had plenty of time to think about our discussion earlier," he said. "Perhaps our little encounter here…" he gestured towards the alley where the bodies were hidden, "has changed your mind."
"The data that you have, is it really that valuable?"
"Absolutely. I assure you that with it, you'll be at the peak of Tricell's corporate ladder before the end of the year."
She gave him a disbelieving look, but it didn't really reach her eyes. They were shining once again, this time, with undeniable excitement.
"What's the catch? Say I agree. You give me the data, help control Tricell, and so on. But what do you want in return?"
Wesker smirked again and patted her shoulder in mocking sign of reassurance. He could see her nose wrinkle as the odor of blood seeped off his suit, but she didn't flinch this time.
"For now, all you need to do is listen to what I say. Everything else will come in due time."
"It's settled then," Wesker replied. He waved towards the limousine still parked on the curb, its doors swinging open in the night air. "I trust you can drive yourself home?"
"Of course," she said, starting towards the driver seat. She stopped before she went inside, one hand on the rear view mirror so that she could observe Wesker over the top of the car. "How should I contact you?"
"You'll hear from me." He stuck his hands casually in his pockets and started to saunter off in the opposite direction.
It was Wesker's turn to pause, turning his head back to regard the female. She seemed very regal, standing there with one hand on the vehicle, the evening wind fluttering the white dress against her body. Almost like a Greek statue, posed sensually in the middle of the blood-stained street.
"What should I call you?" she asked sweetly, tilting her head.
"No surname?" Excella started, but by the time the words left her mouth, the man had already melted away into the shadows.
"Albert." she repeated thoughtfully into the empty night. She smiled once to herself, recalling his graceful, yet deadly movements that had ended her abductors' lives. He could have been the devil himself, the way he killed those men without hesitation. But none of this mattered to Excella, after all, she didn't mind dancing with the devil as long as it suited her goals. But deep down inside, she had an inkling that there was much more to it than that. She slid into the leather seat of her limousine, started up the engine, and headed home.
Author's Note: Looking through the early storyboards for RE5, I noticed that the writers seemed to have a lot more planned for Excella/Wesker relationship. For one thing, there's a scene where they're cuddling on a couch. Which is especially cute. And Excella gets skewered by a Tyrant instead of getting betrayed by Wesker. Or maybe Wesker did betray her? We'll never know, since they eventually scrapped that whole idea.