sine sole sileo
without the sun I'm silent
Disclaimer: Not mine. Sadly.
His footsteps resounded in the empty corridor of the mansion. It was well past working hours and those that remained for the night had withdrawn to their residences or the subterranean laboratories. In the pompous hallway it was only him and the ornate decorations Ozwell Spencer liked to spend the company's money on.
He took a corner to the left, descended the creaking stairway that led down onto the ground floor and not for the first time wondered whether the old, moldy stench was there only for disguise or whether the mansion truly decomposed at such a fast rate.
As he knocked against the oak door leading into Spencer's office he freed his mind of all else. Then he stepped through and gave the individuals in the room an apologetic nod for his delay.
Spencer, slouched in his leather armchair, gave him a sly smirk and waved him over impatiently.
"Take a seat."
He did as he was told, but not before exchanging glances with the other two persons in the room. James Marcus gave him a stern expression in response, obviously displeased with his late arrival. Wesker was usually on time and after the meeting with Spencer, he was sure that he would have to explain his delay to the overseer of the Training Facility.
In the chair beside him William Birkin tapped his fingers against the armrest nervously. He had probably arrived sooner, earlier than the arranged time. Waiting for Wesker in the company of two of Umbrella's most influencing individuals had picked at his patience and nerves. Neither Marcus nor Spencer were amiable fellows and the simple need to call in a meeting without giving away the smallest hint of what it was about openly unnerved Birkin. It had the same impact on Wesker, only that the latter managed to hide his anticipation away.
"Now that we have found together," Spencer started, locking his eyes with each of them as he spoke. "Let me inform you why this meeting was called into place."
Beside him Birkin shifted in his seat. Wesker glanced at Marcus. Even if his mentor knew what this was about, it was impossible to judge it by his expression. Spencer could announce their promotion or have them here to sign their death warrants. Marcus wouldn't give away a single detail, not even when they had asked him earlier in the day. 'Concentrate on what you are doing now, not on what you'll do later' had been all he would lay open.
"Can either of you tell me what significance Africa has for the Umbrella Corporation?" Spencer asked.
Wesker raised a brow, but kept silent. Birkin voiced his dubious thoughts seconds later.
"Progenitor originates from there."
"Very good, doctor," Spencer said and Marcus gave an approving nod before he turned to Wesker.
"Can you name some characteristics of the virus, Dr Wesker?"
"A retrovirus that transcribes its genetics into the host DNA, thus multiplying itself throughout the subject. Infection causes uncontrolled molecular changes. In subjects low down the evolutionary ladder this triggers cell growth and mutagenic remodeling. Experimentation on human and human-like hosts has so far led to cellular decomposition of a speed that takes further research back on a theoretical level."
"Precisely. So far, the human genome did not successfully bond with the agent, albeit repetitive tries," Marcus added, seemingly satisfied with Wesker's short recap.
"Yet," Spencer said and all eyes turned to him.
"Sir?" Birkin furrowed a brow and tapped his finger against the armrest again. "We achieved successful bonding by combining Progenitor with Ebola. T, despite in its early stages, is applicable to humans."
"Did you even listen to what Dr Marcus said, Dr Birkin?" Spencer questioned and Birkin fell silent instantly. Ashamed, he let his head hang. Knowing better than to interfere in defense of his friend, Wesker kept his mouth closed. So far, he hadn't figured out what Spencer was playing at. A sideways glance to Marcus revealed as much as ever. Nothing.
"Recite what Dr Marcus said," Spencer ordered.
Birkin looked up again. "Sir, he said that Progenitor does not bond with the human genome."
"That's correct, Dr Birkin. We are not talking about T, but about Progenitor here."
Marcus cleared his throat when the Umbrella head had finished, easing the growing tension in the room some.
"To get down to the point, gentlemen, we speculate that such views on the viral agent are wrong."
"Sir?" It was Wesker now, his voice not holding back his curiosity.
"Progenitor does merge."
"How?" Birkin questioned, eyes wide. "Who has… when did it happen?"
At this point Spencer cracked a smirk and Wesker was sure, right then and there, that there was more to his delightment than only the scientific breakthrough.
"Your plane leaves in five hours," Marcus calmly informed them and the new turn of events made Wesker refocus his attention from one man to the other. "Mr Spencer and I want two of our best researchers deployed to investigate the phenomena. I would go personally, but you will understand that an impairment in T research at this point is unthinkable."
"Our plane?" Wesker echoed.
"You will leave for Africa, both of you. Once you arrive you will be transported to the local facility, where you are to meet the chief researcher Brandon Bailey. He will entrust you with further directions."
"We expect the first reports within a week of your stay, doctors," Spencer called to attention.
A short silence sunk in and Wesker urged his mind to gather all the information on Progenitor it possessed. All of this sounded as if taken out of a daydream. If it turned out to be true… all research on the Mother virus would have to be rewritten. He glanced over to Birkin, but the other man didn't catch his gaze. If this was true then they could write scientific history over again. But as it was with work of this kind the image of a royal castle usually crumbled to a stray grain of salt.
"What about T?" The question had to come up. If they were gone, who would take care of their research? If the rumors on Progenitor turned out to be nothing more than fantasies they would use precious time with their current project – one that had very realistic prospects.
"Dr Marcus will continue work on the T virus," Spencer explained. "He shall keep you updated in the case of developments, as will you pass on every information on Progenitor."
Wesker wanted to ask why they couldn't stay and Marcus go in their stead, but as he eyed the stern professor the question dissolved in the back of his mind again. If this was the decision, there was no bartering around.
"How long will we stay?"
"As long as is necessary."
So much to that. The conversation had just reached its end. Tickling out more details of either of the men would be an effort not worth to take. Everything would unfold sooner or later. Wesker took another glance at Birkin and this time their eyes met. A barely visible nod and they both turned to their superiors.
"We should pack then, sirs." Wesker said.
Spencer nodded curtly. "You are dismissed. Be at the front entrance in three and a half hours. All further briefing will be made there. Good evening."
They both bowed out and once Birkin had slipped the heavy oak doors closed behind them, they sighed; partly in relief of having come through the meeting, partly out of tenseness for what was yet to come.
Birkin spoke first. His voice rang off the walls as they walked through the long corridor winding through the mansion.
"Where were you? They were close to ripping me apart, like some rabid half-starved-to-death wolves."
"If I told you I was on a date you wouldn't believe me anyway, would you?" Wesker suggested, one eyebrow raised.
It was responded to with a scowl from his colleague. "Please, your jokes are miserable, Albert. I dearly hope your absence was productive to the project."
"Not that that is going to help us a lot now. Pack mosquito spray and freshen up your vaccinations. The last thing we need is dealing with the local illnesses."
Birkin grimaced at the thought. "We're not going into the jungle." He seemed to consider this for a moment, then added, "Although we should pack some Progenitor antidote, just in case."
"Marcus' leeches are snappy enough. If the boys down in Africa found a human-pathogen strain the first sensible thing they should do is create the matching antidote before injecting the agent into people."
"Better safe than sorry," Birkin reasoned. "In the main hall in three hours?"
Wesker looked at his watch and nodded tentatively. "I'll jet. Thank god there are no speed controls on this way."
"I still don't understand why you insist living in Raccoon when they offer you the same conditions here. It's two hours of road you could avoid. Daily."
"Two hours," Wesker shrugged. "I'm willing to spend that in exchange of not having BOWs breathing down my neck when I try to sleep."
"Oh please," Birkin clicked his tongue. "What's the probability of an outbreak while you sleep? If it happens while you work you're stuck with it anyway. And don't even think of giving me that talk of trying to keep up a normal social life."
"I won't." Wesker's lips curled into a smirk. "I know you hate it when others succeed where you fail, William. I'll spare you that one."
The comment didn't go unheard. Birkin pursed his lips, but when the fitting retort didn't come, Wesker said:
"Three hours. Don't make me wait."
Here we are again, better late than never. This story obviously takes place pre-mansion and in case you wonder, it also takes place pre-Lisa. Neither Birkin nor Wesker know of her existance yet.
That said, I hope you enjoyed and check back for the next chapter in a week!