Five days had passed and the doctors assured him he would make a full recovery. As soon as they had been transportable Spencer had moved them back to America, where they were to regain their powers in one of Umbrella's private institutions.

Wesker didn't mind that. He didn't know a lot about medical service down in Africa, but if it was at all similar to the transportation service he was very glad that Spencer didn't leave them to try that out too.

He'd been coherent enough to hand in a short report on the third day and heard that Birkin had done the same. What he'd also heard about was his friend's behaviour during their rescue.

Umbrella had sent several teams on the lookout, some above ground, others searching for them through alleged connections of old mining tracts with the cave system. The initial route remained inaccessible, the tunnel collapse too heavy to clear.

He hadn't picked up a lot on the actual rescue. Soon after their climb out of the Hole his injuries had taken their final toll on him; blood loss, as his doctors had explained later on. Birkin had fallen unconscious too at some point, but woke up in a frenzy during transportation. Although he hadn't talked to the other man yet, Wesker could well imagine what had driven his friend out of his nightmares.

Personally he didn't dream yet. The fatigue was still too big, his body using every minute for recovery. His mind would certainly make up for lost time later, processing the horror during his sleep. Wesker did not look forward to it.

Suddenly the door to his room was thrown open and a man in a hospital gown barged in, clinging to a drip stand with one hand and brandishing a stack of papers with the other. William Birkin looked as lively as ever, his face deeply flushed and his expression mirroring a rage he usually took on when one of his assistants screwed up an experiment.

"You look well," Wesker said from his position, propping himself up on the pillows. But by the looks of it, Birkin hadn't come in for just a friendly visit and although he could guess why the man was so upset, he restrained himself from saying anything.

"Cut the crap, Albert," Birkin sneered and slapped the documents into his lap. "What the hell is this?!"

Wesker took the offered papers, skimming through them briefly. He recognized the handwriting instantly. It was his own, after all.

"That's my report on the case." He pointed to the first line. "It says so right there, see?"

Birkin boiled and Wesker wouldn't have been surprised if the i.v. stand bended beneath his iron grip on it.

"Don't take me for an idiot…"

"Then define your problem."

"This," Birkin pointed at the report, "is my fucking problem and you damn well know why!"

Wesker took another thoughtful glance at the papers, arranged them neatly and handed them back to the other man.

"If you have a problem with my retelling of events, William, I'm sorry. That is why they wanted us both to recap the situation. Different points of view. And now you're better returning to your room. I heard Dr Marcus has been diligent in our absence. There is a lot to catch up on."

The papers littered the floor a second later.

"Are you shitting me, Albert? After everything that happened down there you have the nerve to stab me in the back like this?"

"I am not doing anything to you. You're about to ruin your career all by yourself, but you're hardly noticing that, are you?"

Birkin was silent and Wesker used the moment to elaborate.

"Who do you think they will believe in the end, Will? You, who wrote so fantastically about alien-sized spiders, horrid man-shaped demons and a thing that has blades as its arms and its hide turned inside out?

"Or will they rather believe that in the chaos following the collapse serious injuries have been sustained and the remaining survivors riled up against each other in shear panic and terror. That your spider has been nothing more than a brute's hand wanting to gouge your eyes out, that your giant has been one of the workers who attacked us in a belief that we were ghouls sprung to life from his overstretched imagination?

"You suffered multiple hard hits to the head and have been diagnosed with a serious concussion, William. Hallucinations are not unusual, especially not in a place like that."

"Bull-shit!" Birkin yelled. "You KNOW what happened down there, you've been there and saw it with your own, damn eyes!"

"There is no evidence."

Birkin lifted his shirt, revealing a bandaged upper body. He clicked his tongue in frustration and pointed to Wesker's leg. "Isn't this enough of an evidence?"

Wesker sighed. He didn't like playing so radically against his friend, but there was no way around it. "While we were climbing towards the exit your hold slipped. You fell, and a sharp rock tore your back open, as for-"

"- it was the claw of that monster and you know it, because it ripped Smidt apart and nearly gutted both of us!"

"As for me," he continued calmly. "It was an unfortunate incident with one of the surviving workers and a mining tool of his."

"It was the Devil!"

Wesker snarled. "For God's sake, William! Listen to yourself! Go to Spencer like that next week and he'll throw you out of the program before you're even halfway through the story!"

"He won't, because it's the truth and-"

"Spencer doesn't care about the truth. He cares about results, which we did not bring. Be clever and play it out as I tell you to. The new Progenitor plants they found down in Africa are consecutively dying. The change in atmosphere, the different oxygen, what do I know… it's killing them. Spencer has turned his eye back to America, where Marcus excels with T. We fucked up down there, Will, and the best thing we can do now is shut our mouths and play along with what comes. Don't complicate matters. You have a concussion and I left more blood in Africa than I carried back to the US. We're the only survivors of that massacre, so Spencer's opinion is built upon our statements. If we argue, the foundation will topple over and fall on us."

Birkin shook his head. "I'm not agreeing with this. You know what's down there. You've seen what happened. Hell, we've not imagined that. Tappert wrote about it in his journal years before we went there!"

Wesker smirked. "Tappert's journal is purely hypothetical. The only book retrieved from the Hole is the other journal, and the only thing forensics managed to read out of that one were records about botany and geology. Continue to talk about Tappert's death notes and Spencer will think you've lost your mind in that cave."

"You…" Birkin's lips turned into a tight little line and he grit his teeth as he spoke next. "You son of a bitch left it down there, the journal. Why did you leave the only piece of evidence down there?"

"Because Progenitor is not what we have to focus on at the moment, William. T is waiting for us and it brings results that will satisfy Spencer far faster than Progenitor ever could."

"Fuck Spencer! You've seen what Progenitor did with those creatures, Albert! We've never gotten so far with T, never produced such breathtaking results. If Spencer really wants bioweaponry, the deadliest army is waiting for him to issue commands."

"William, I want to tell you one more time," Wesker said, slowly, as if every word that left his lips had a significance for the future duration of their lives. "Spencer does not know about the Hole. You had a concussion. We will support Dr Marcus in his experiments with T and not talk about Africa again. Do you understand this?"

"No." Birkin crossed his arms. "You can't simply let such a scientific discovery go unnoticed."

"I don't."

"Then what do you call this?"

"The trump card. Which should never be played until the right moment. And that is not now."

Who passes the Keeper of the Gate enters the playground of Gods and becomes a God himself.
- John Tappert


So, it's done. With the epilogue up, this story makes more sense in terms of plot development. The Hole lays the groundstone for Uroboros, even though Wesker doesn't know it yet. As for Tappert's last quote, take it as hint for Wesker's RE5 God-complex, hehe.

I had a lot of fun writing this story, and from the initial 8 or so chapters that were planned it really developed! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did and I want to thank you so very much for your continued support throughout - this is what really kept me going.

Although most of you already figured it out along the way, here is the solution to the different creatures Wesker and Birkin encountered during their trip.
Cheshire Cat / Facehugger - Bui Kichwa
Devil / Giant - Giant Majini
Grim Reaper / Death - Reaper

I'll be taking a break from full horror stories for the near future, I feel my repertory is a bit exhausted. I already have a pre-Mansion STARS action story in mind, until then I encourage you to read E re nata, an AU pre-mansion outbreak involving Albert Wesker and Annette Birkin. It's not so much psycho-horror as this one, but more survival-horror style that makes us all love Resident Evil. Here is the summary:

e re nata
as circumstances dictate
AU. On Spencer's behalf Albert Wesker and Annette Birkin embark on a diplomatic trip to Rockfort Island… but nobody speaks ill of the Ashford family name and simply gets away with it. Warning: Extreme violence, torture and gore.

Hopefully seeing you soon!