Disclaimer: Any character, object, plot device, or setting not immediately recognizable as the intellectual property and/or trademark of either Capcom, Paramount Pictures or Gene Roddenberry is probably mine (unless otherwise stated). Any and all characters, objects, plot devices, or settings that are immediately recognizable are not mine. I seek no monetary gain from this and simply wrote it for fun.
Characters: Now we're on to the Enterprise crew! Plus some random redshirts that...miraculously survive. (There will be plenty of carnage later, don't worry.)
Rating: T, because I like to include obscenities as they work for the plot.
Summary: This was the virus that had revolutionized the biotech industry - at the cost of turning thousands of people into undead. History thought it had been lost, destroyed. But now it's back, two hundred and fifty-odd years later, to do its dirty work all over again.
Warnings: Swearing and spoilers for Star Trek XI/AOS and the Resident Evil games through Resident Evil 5. Also descriptions of blood, gore, and zombie-slaughter.
His crew was tense. Kirk could see it in the lines of their bodies, the upright way even his most relaxed crewmembers were sitting in their chairs. They were tense and waiting, just like he imagined all of the other ships in Starfleet were.
Kirk balled his fist, relaxed it, then balled it again. Word had just arrived from Starfleet that the Raiths had just attacked and destroyed another colony on Midgar Nine. Their ongoing assault of the quadrant was growing fiercer and more violent with each passing day, and Kirk suspected it wouldn't be long before Midgar Nine fell to the Raiths. He hoped it was the only planet that would fall, and not just be the first in a line of many.
Really, the end of negotiations had come as no real surprise. The Raiths were a cunning, intelligent species with ships and weapons and technology decades ahead of Starfleet's. They were also ruthless, power-hungry, and had been eagerly expanding their empire across the planets within their own system, dominating the small handful of less-developed inhabitants of each. When it became clear the Raiths planned to continue the expansion of their empire beyond the borders of their planetary system, Starfleet had stepped in.
Or tried to. Now Kirk imagined that it was only a matter of time before Starfleet recalled the Enterprise from her mission and outfitted her for a war.
"Captain," Uhura suddenly called, her voice short.
Kirk looked up. His brows knit, but only slightly and only for an instant. "Yes, Lieutenant?"
"I'm picking up a signal over here." Uhura turned and looked at Kirk, meeting his eyes briefly. "It's a distress signal. I can't tell how recent. There's a code, but…"
Spock moved to join her at her console, looking over the windows she had open.
"Curious," he murmured. "I have never seen that code before."
Signals and transmissions typically ran with a leading code, a basic series of numbers and letters that condensed the message to a type (distress, private…) that made it easier for the receiving party to interpret in case the entirety of the transmission was lost or corrupted. "Is it one of Starfleet's?"
"I believe so," Spock replied. "But it is non-standard. I have never seen it used before."
Kirk flexed his jaw, thinking. "Keep tabs on it," he ordered. "Let me know if you find anything else out about it."
Uhura and Spock both nodded. "Yes, sir."
Long, tense minutes passed as Spock and Uhura scrambled to trace the full distress signal. Then Uhura called, "Sir, I have a visual feed…"
"Put it on screen, Lieutenant. Let's see it."
Uhura nodded and quickly hit a few keys on the screen of her console, putting the message on up on the ship's large screen. Another finger-tap dimmed the bridge lights.
The feed started dark and grainy, like it had been filmed in near-total darkness. Soon Kirk could make out the features of a man – old, near retirement. His thick glasses sat askew on his nose, like he'd nearly had them knocked off and hadn't been able to fix them. His face was streaked with something dark – dirt maybe, or blood. His hair was disheveled, and there was a look of raw, primal terror on his face. He was breathing heavily, his words coming in short bursts after long pauses. He flinched at every noise in the background. But he stared hard at the camera, as though he could see the very crew he was looking at.
"You are receiving this because I succeeded in my mission," the man said, his voice like dry leaves over concrete. "I didn't want to do it, but I did, and now no one is safe. They had me make it airborne, so I did. I didn't want to, not at first, but…this virus. It's…intoxicating. Its power, its elegance. I've never seen anything like it before, and I got swept up in it.
The man jumped at a noise in the background, and Kirk felt his own body twitch at it, too. It sounded like something was trying to get in the door.
"Now they're coming."
The noise came again, followed by a low, wet moan that was barely muffled by the door. Kirk felt the little hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stand upright. That sound…
"Listen. You have to listen. The virus doesn't just kill. It mutates some of its victims. Changes them into…into monsters. Starfleet wants both to…to…" the man trails off, shaking his head. "I can only hope I'm not too late. If you are receiving this, I've embedded information you will need into the code. Keep it secret. Keep it close. This goes deep. You can't trust anyone. And…stop Starfleet. Stop Starfleet before it uses the T-virus on the Raithavians."
There was another noise in the background, one Kirk was much, much more familiar with: the faint hiss off a door sliding open.
The man whirled. With a faint cry, he lunged towards the screen. Kirk guessed he wanted to cut the video feed, but his hand missed, instead knocking the recorder to the floor. It landed so that it faced the door – and the dozen of slow, shambling, humanoid shapes silhouetted there. Kirk could see the man scramble back, away from the horde and out of the frame.
One of shapes moaned. It was the same sound from earlier, low and wet, but worse because there was no door to muffle it. The shapes' eyes all glowed a pale white in the darkness.
The one of them lunged for the man. The others followed. Kirk could only hope he died quickly. From the sounds, that wasn't the case. In the end, just a few long minutes later, the man's body fell back into the camera's view.
His face, splattered with fresh, red blood, hung frozen on the screen.
No one made a move to get rid of it. Several long seconds of silence followed on the bridge, with only the faint background sounds of the ship to break it.
"Did…did he say T-Virus?" Sulu finally asked, his voice catching.
Kirk nodded dumbly. The T-Virus…
His knowledge and understanding of the T-Virus was limited to what he'd learned at the Academy – which hadn't been much, especially since he'd only paid so much attention to his pre-warp history lessons. He knew it was deadly, that it acted fast and spread quickly, and that it had no cure. The rest…
The doors to the turbolift hissed, and nearly everyone on the bridge jumped at the sound, whirling to face it. Bones' stride slowed, then halted, his eyes flickering quickly over each crewmember. His brows knit as his gaze reached the screen. "That's…My God, that's Matthew Donner. He's dead, Jim?"
Kirk stood. "You know him, Bones?"
Bones nodded, still looking at the screen. "Know of him, really. He's Starfleet's top virologist. Brilliant man. Long career. Wrote more than half the existing books on xenovirology. Half the immunizations you get when you enter Starfleet are ones he developed."
"So he's big," Kirk said.
"The biggest. If he's out here…" Bones shook his head. "Why would he be out somewhere like this?"
Kirk took a deep breath and quickly told Bones had happened and what the bridge crew had seen. He didn't dare replay the feed. Once was enough.
"You're sure he said T-Virus," Bones asked when Kirk was finished. His brows were tightly knit on his forehead. He shifted, tightening the way his arms were crossed over his chest.
"That's what it sounded like," Sulu said. The others on the bridge quickly agreed – Hannity, Chekov, Uhura, Spock, and the rest.
"Jim, this is not good."
"I know, Bones." Kirk balled his hand into a fist, relaxed it, then balled it again. "Mr. Sulu, please put us in orbit around the planet." He flashed his signature cocky grin at his crew, hoping to fake a bravado he really didn't feel. "We've been tasked with exploring this part of the galaxy. I think a little adventure counts as exploring."
"Are you outta your mind, Jim?"
The grin grew, and this time it was more genuine. "Usually."
The planet was dead. Kirk was barely comfortable calling it a planet. It was more like a rock drifting in space. It had no breathable atmosphere, no signs of any kind of life – not even any of the millions of bacteria capable of surviving in such harsh conditions. There was nothing but brown rock as far as the eye could see in any direction.
Really, it was the perfect planet to house a dangerous, illegal laboratory for developing biological weapons. There was nowhere for it to go if it escaped. It would be trapped right here, where it would die.
The Enterprise had traced the distress signal and Doctor Donner's message from this rocky planet, somewhere close to where Kirk and his away team had been beamed. They weren't entirely sure exactly where it was, and Kirk hoped it wouldn't that hard to find. There could only be so many made structures on this dead rock, right?
"Okay," Kirk said. "Let's look around. Stay tight. If this situation is half the mess Bones thinks it is, we cannot afford to make any mistakes or suffer any injuries here."
"Then maybe we should've left you back on the ship," Cupcake quipped. "Captain."
"What, and let you have all the fun, Cupcake?" Kirk grinned a lopsided grin, though it was probably hard for his officers to see through the tinted breathing masks they all had to wear.
His away team consisted of just six people besides himself: Cupcake, Able, and Reese from security, Spock, Lieutenant Hannity and Ensign Walker. Not his usual away team, really, but it had been a little more difficult than usual to round up some volunteers.
"Getting anything, Spock?"
"No, Captain. There don't seem to be any signs of life."
Kirk could only wonder if that meant no one was left alive on the planet…or if the tricorder's scanning software simply couldn't pick up evidence of the undead they'd seen in the feed. "You, ah. You let me know if that changes, okay?"
"Naturally, Captain, though I do not expect that it will."
"Just let me know if it does."
Slowly, the away team began making their way across the short, empty field to a rocky outcropping. Kirk led, thinking that if he were going to try and hide a top-secret biotech lab anywhere on this place, he'd put it under a rock. The biggest rock he could find, so he'd know where to find it again. It was a bit of a long shot, that idea, and Kirk was surprised to find that it paid off. He'd been right.
The largest rock was a decoy. Not a hologram, just a fabricated rock designed to look and feel and register chemically as a rock native to the planet. A smaller, hollow rock nearby housed the keypad to unlock the door, and Spock quickly figured out the codes, prompting the doors to hiss open.
"And there we go," Kirk said.
The facility was stuffy, closed, and cold. A thick layer of dust had settled onto the floor, and Kirk could see faint footprints leading into and out of the hallway. Even through the protective suit Kirk could feel the cold air pressing down on him, threatening to smother him. No air circulated. There was no power to light the place. Only the bright but narrow beams of their own lights cut through the heavy darkness of the inside of the facility.
"Okay," Kirk said, glancing back at his team. "Here we go. Stay tight still. Eyes and ears open. You see anything, you let the rest of us know. I don't want to going to take any chances down here."
They proceeded slowly through the narrow hallway. Kirk led, and Cupcake took up the rear. The whole team had their phasers ready, but Kirk wondered just how useful they'd be against the zombies – and whether he'd have to find out. Did the zombies need air? Sensor readings showed that the facility had been completely devoid of power for at least a few days, which meant there no breathable oxygen in the atmosphere at all.
The hallway soon gave way to a larger main swept his light along the floor. The light flickered over patches of dark, smeared blood. Chunks of…chunks of body parts lay strewn in small piles across the floor, and there were bodies everywhere. Patches of blood, open sores, and oozing wounds covered their bare skin, and Kirk could only assume that the clothed parts looked very much the same. A stench hung over the air, flavoring their air filters with rot.
"Keep your eyes open," Kirk ordered. "Stay together, same as outside. Who knows what we'll find down here."
The others murmured their assent.
The main room gave way to a series of smaller rooms, and one by one Kirk and his away team looked into all of them. All of them were labs, by the look of it. Various pieces of lab equipment – from microscopes to centrifuges to cold storage containers – lined every wall and sat on every desk. Only one room vaguely differed – that one was totally devoted to a massive cold storage container. Kirk carefully peered inside. The container appeared to be empty.
Actually, everything appeared to be empty. Sure, the equipment had been left behind, knocked over and strewn haphazardly everywhere, and Kirk saw some of the desks still had PADDs and a few scattered notes, but all the samples of the virus were gone.
…But there was no evidence of broken glass on the floor. No sign that anything housing the virus had been dropped, or opened and discarded, or simply left behind.
It looked like the place had been ransacked.
Kirk felt a chill race up his spine. The air in the facility seemed to grow colder, heavier, and Kirk felt like the air was beginning to close in around him.
What had happened here?
He heard a shout from behind him and turned around in time to see several slow, shambling zombies lurch into the room and toward Walker and Hannity. Hannity scrambled out of the way while Walker quickly raised his phaser and fired, but it barely seemed to affect the zombie it hit, who twitched and moaned slightly, but didn't stop in its relentless approach.
Kirk, Able, Reese, and Spock also tried their phasers, but to no avail. The zombies simply paused upon impact, then continued to shuffle forward.
Then Cupcake came at them with a chair, lobbing the first zombie's head off with a single swing and knocking a few others off their feet with the same blow. The first zombie's head bounced somewhere into the darkness, deflecting off an distant wall with a wet splattering sound, while the body teetered and veered of its own accord before falling over in a spray of dark, partially congealed blood. The others turned on Cupcake.
Able and Reese then leapt into action, throwing themselves onto one zombie each. Reese had an easier time with his – having hit the zombie hard enough to knock it to the floor, he stomped on its head. The head gave under his food the way a melon would, spraying bits of brain matter onto the floor. Able was not so lucky, and the zombie managed to throw him off.
Able cried out, hitting the wall with a heavy thud as Cupcake swung the chair around again. With a wet thwack the next zombie went down and Spock sprang over to grab Able, dragging the injured crewman out of the way.
Kirk went for the last zombie with some help from Hannity, and in short order the four zombies were all dead.
"Did you get any readings on those zombies, Spock?"
"No, Captain. If I may, I would advise that we not stay here for much longer. There is a chance there will be more, and I don't think it is wise to leave Able's wound unattended."
"Agreed, Spock. Just one more room." Kirk knew there were still several rooms left, but he didn't want to risk running into more of the undead researchers.
The final room was down a longer hallway than the others had been. Like the others it was dark and powerless, the only light coming from the ones Kirk and his team carried. The team moved quickly, but fought to stay quiet. The faint tracks in the dust were more obvious here, as though someone had been through rather recently. The zombies?
No. Something told Kirk that it wasn't it. The footprints weren't right for the shambling, slow zombies they'd just encountered.
He had to push the thought out of his mind, however, because then he and the away team found themselves in a room he vaguely recognized. A lone body lay on the floor.
Donner was dead. Actually dead. His body had been torn open, his insides eaten. Though he had guessed it was a long shot, finding anyone alive in this special version of hell, Kirk still felt blood rush through him – first away from his extremities, then through his head with force.
No one should have had to die like this. Not now, not ever.
This was why the virus had been eradicated. This was why every scrap of remaining information anyone had on the T-Virus came with a warning, though no warning he'd ever come across had been enough to prepare him for this.
This was a virus that turned normal people into hungry, stumbling, shambling zombies with insatiable appetites and a penchant for digging into anything living. This was a virus that had changed the entire world in the twenty-first century.
"Spread out through here," Kirk said, looking away from Donner's body. "Look around. Anything you can find that might be useful. Stick to PADDs, files, records, whatever. Copy the information somehow, then leave the original behind. Nothing gets to go with us. I don't want to risk having the infection reach the ship."
"Aye, Captain," the team echoed, then dispersed. Kirk began looking through some of the papers on the desk, realizing that some of the sheets he was looking over dated back to the twenty-first century. These were all original data files, lab reports on the virus. Kirk took pictures with his tricorder, sending the information on them straight back to the ship. He didn't waste much time reading over each page as he photographed it, but nevertheless certain words and phrases leapt out at him.
Highly infectious, said one. Spreads on contact.
Effects irreversible, said another.
Then there was the last page, which he couldn't help but pause to skim over: Subjects appear to have little to no memory of who they were prior to infection. They appear driven entirely by the need to eat, though it is unclear whether the flesh of their victims truly provides any sort of nutritional value to their decomposing bodies. If left without food for long periods of time, infected individuals become increasingly lethargic until a death-like state is reached, however, placing a food source before them seems able to raise the undead.
Severing the spinal cord or severely damaging the brain appears to be the best method available to kill the infected permanently. Other methods have been proven to work, but are not always as effective. Fire is not recommended.
Headshots were best.
Kirk was starting to realize just how unprepared his crew was to deal with this. They had done some training with the phasers at the Academy, but when the both the stun and kill settings were designed to affect the whole body regardless of which part was originally hit, accuracy wasn't much of an issue. Certainly not the kind of issue accuracy with a projectile weapon was. But this, especially combined with seeing how ineffective the phasers had been on the zombies in the hall, was more than enough to drop a dead weight in Kirk's stomach. They were woefully unprepared.
Even Starfleet was woefully unprepared, unless the peace-keeping force was also preparing an army in secret.
Right now, Kirk wouldn't have put it past them.
Once he and his away team were back on the Enterprise and had gone through a double round of decontamination procedures (procedures Kirk could only hope were as effective on this virus as the others they were designed to destroy) he and his crew began the long, arduous process of going through all of the information they'd collected from the lab.
The picture grew more and more grim the more they read.
The T-Virus, as they knew from history, had been created in the tail end of the 20th Century. Its parent company, Umbrella, had kept it hidden in a mansion-turned-science lab for decades before an accident had set the virus loose – first on the mansion facility, then on the unsuspecting residents of Raccoon City. Those who were, for whatever reason, left uninfected were forced to fight for their survival in what was left of the city. Several of those survivors – Jill Valentine, Chris and Claire Redfield, Leon Kennedy, Rebecca Chambers, and Barry Burton – managed to escape, and soon after the entire city was destroyed in the only recorded use of a nuclear weapon on the United States prior to 2026.
The survivors went on to encounter the virus several more times through the start of the 21st century both independently and as part of the Biohazard Security Assessment Alliance, an organization designed to help prevent and contain outbreaks of T and similar viruses. The survivors' ordeal with the virus ended in 2015, when the last known storage facility holding samples of the virus was destroyed.
What Kirk and his crew were learning from the information collected in the lab painted a slightly different picture of events. It seemed that not every sample of the T-Virus had been destroyed by the time the BSAA was disbanded in 2015. Several samples had remained in a hidden military facility underneath Union City, the site of an outbreak in 2011, and one of those samples had survived into the 23rd century.
That sample was the one Donner had been using to rebirth the virus. Clearly he had succeeded. But what had caused the virus to spread through the facility? Every one of Donner's notes had made it seem like he and his team took every precaution possible to prevent its transmission. It seemed unlikely that someone had simply dropped a vial or forgotten to wear their protective gear properly.
…Had Starfleet itself done it? Kirk had to wonder. There had been no samples left in the facility. There'd been plenty of evidence that they had been there once, but no actual samples. Donner couldn't have been working from one sample alone. And if what he had said was true, then the higher-ups in Starfleet knew exactly what had happened on that rock, and it went against everything Starfleet supposedly stood for. It also meant Kirk couldn't go to Starfleet to report this, either. He couldn't do part of his own damn job.
The Tyrant virus was bad. Very bad. Planet-destroying bad – though all of that was information that had been drilled into his head after years of history, and wasn't anything he knew firsthand.
In fact, the only people who could tell him anything from firsthand experience were dead. All of them. They either died back in the 21st century, when the virus was out of control, or were in pieces on the rock. There was no one living today who could help him stop Starfleet from unleashing this virus.
To find someone who could, he'd have to go back in time. But was that even possible without the red matter to help? Would he even be able to control when he ended up?
Kirk pushed a hand through his hair, then dragged the hand along the side of his face. He didn't know.
But he did know someone he could consult.
Author's Note: I'm terribly sorry for the, what, two-years and counting pause between the last update and this one? However long, I am terribly sorry. I don't like to leave projects hanging unfinished, but things in my life rather fell apart shortly after I published the prologue, and they've only now started to come back together. (And in my defense, I did say upfront that this was a project I had on the back burner. That's still true, it's not yet a fic I'm throwing all of my heart and soul into finishing, so updates will still be slow. But I've made quite a bit of progress on later chapters and I've been working to make sure the political intrigue makes a lick of sense, so here's to hoping the next few updates won't take me another two years each to do.)