Like a Dog Chasing Cars
A/N: SPOILER ALERT. Okay, so, I'm going start, right off the bat, with an alteration of the ending. Cross doesn't turn into a supreme hunter. Instead, a supreme hunter is able to disguise itself and attack Cross and Zeus. This story picks up after the defeat of the supreme hunter and the dropping of the nuke into the ocean.
Disclaimer: I do not own Prototype, nor any properties of Activision. Characters unrecognizable are obviously my OCs. Eric Morris belongs to Herrlichkeit.
Pain. I wasn't a stranger to it. A very dominant part of me had wanted this to be it. After I'd lost a race with the nuke, I'd thought that I might finally know peace. I was wrong…
I seem to be wrong about quite a lot. In fact, I'm not so sure what I've been right about. I was brought into this world wrong, thought wrong, heard wrong, did wrong. So then, it only seemed about right. Fitting, for me, at least.
I was wrong. I would survive. That supreme hunter had wanted to consume me just for that very reason; because, like a cockroach, I could apparently survive nuclear blasts. And if scientists still thought that I couldn't cross bodies of water, they'd have to explain how my naked biomass had plastered itself to the pier after a lengthy swim, begging for a sacrifice. At least I wasn't the only one wrong here.
I was wrong. I would survive. I would continue to exist. My purpose? I don't know. Maybe… maybe I could rid Manhattan of the Redlight infestation. Maybe there was still hope in saving Dana. Maybe a cure could be contrived to save those who hadn't already lost their minds. It was not my goal to be the hero of the people or anything. It was simply that… well, what else was left?
I hated to think about it, and I still do, but… what about after all of this?
While I deterred the dropping of the nuke, it wasn't likely that the news channels would be very correct on the matter. A governmental excuse would certainly be conceived. I wasn't looking for credit. I was hardly looking for justice any longer. I'd gotten half of my justice when Dr. Mercer's dead body collapsed on me. The rest was gathered from the systematic deaths of the entire Gentek family, and much of Blackwatch.
They call it self-reflection, or self-discovery. I think it has more to do with realization. Epiphany. Maybe even close enough to the denouement. In that case… then what? The end of the infection didn't necessarily imply the end of me… did it?
Most days, I know Cross seemed to think so.
Dana Mercer was by no means a frail young woman. She was a resilient human being with an uncanny resourcefulness. She had long ago mastered the ability of learning what others did not want anyone else to know. This not only boosted her worth in the field of journalism, but it also made her incredibly important and useful to her brother, Alex Mercer.
However, it wasn't simply her usefulness to him that had given him pause for thought on strategy when the leader hunter had abruptly crashed into her safe hole and stolen her during the midst of a conversation. A conversation, in fact, that had taken an abrupt and awkward turn at that very moment. It had begun with an earlier visit; when he had started speaking without much consideration or filtration of his words, and Dana had stood to turn him toward her, demanding that he explain the wild things falling passed his lips. It had only served to disturb her even further as he pushed her boundaries to the limit. It must have seemed, to her, that his sanity was at a breaking point. Strong as she was, even she was cowering back, moving away from him, before she was backed into a desk. Find Ragland, she'd said. It seemed like a 'get some help' sort of statement, and 'get out of my space, please'.
That conversation hadn't been ended with his departure that day. It continued to hang in the air. He returned after an episode of sabotage. After meeting Ragland and finding a way to rid himself of the cancer that had been engineered to take him down, he'd returned to his sister with apologies. While Dana didn't know the whole truth, she had come, quite surprisingly, to learn some of it. She had dissected enough of his words, actions, and wants to know that he wasn't the same anymore. Voices, powers, people he'd killed. Them being in him. Her brother wasn't human any longer. In a way, he'd used her, and they both knew that. Dana stated that he was still her brother, convinced that there was something left of Alex Mercer left in there, inside of the body that had belonged to her older sibling. Then… that was that. She was gone. Out of his reach.
After time stretched and priorities loomed over him, he slowly became certain that she would stay that way forever. His encounter with Elizabeth Greene had been, perhaps, the worst. In her memories, among so many other disturbing things, was his sister. She was somewhere in New York. She was alive.
While he attempted to convince himself that finding her was unimportant, he still sought her out. He'd found her, eventually. Without thinking anymore on why he should or should not care, he carried her to Ragland's safe house where the doctor could watch over her. Dr. Ragland had informed him that she was in a coma. Maybe she'd wake up. Maybe not. He convinced himself that he had much more important matters to consider than the well being of Mercer's sister.
Still, without permission, concerns for her did surface at the oddest of times.
It was a quiet, chilly night not unlike the rest. Perhaps that only difference was that Mercer was spending this particular night on Ragland's back balcony. He sat on the floor of the balcony, his legs draped over the edge and his arms propped on a lower support. The side of his pale face lay against a bar as he stared off into the sea of dilapidated concrete buildings and sky scrapers.
Perhaps, somewhere in the mess of things, when he'd learned the truth of himself, he'd dehumanized himself the way Blackwatch command had right from the start. He was an 'it'. He was ZEUS. He was Blacklight DX-1118. He'd been smashed from a vial, single cells locking on to Alex Mercer's in order to inject a written code and consume the body; all to assume control. Yet he knew justice. He knew that what Alex Mercer and Gentek had done was unforgivable. Still, he figured that the ends justified the means, and that if New York was free of the disease, then he'd done the ultimate right.
What he felt right now… it was human feeling. Concern. It bewildered him. Much like when he'd first awoken. He'd been scared shitless. He'd panicked first, felt anger and unrelenting rage later, and finally… loneliness, dread, resentment, and all the bitter tasting emotions that fulfilled revenge left in its wake. Up until the facts, the missing puzzle pieces to his very core nature, had been revealed, he'd stumbled around blindly for answers. His mind seemed human enough; his very self clutched onto memories written by Alex's brain cells upon happening. They hadn't been ZEUS' memories, but they hurt him just the same.
Had he wanted so badly to be human? Had occupying a human body, a complex, multicellular, thinking animal caused the single cell virus to panic? Perhaps that was the problem. Blacklight, like any virus, wasn't meant to control such a complex being. He watched how the hunters behaved. Even the supreme hunter, who was intelligent enough to speak and plot, had been a twisted being. Imperfect. They were all imperfect, ugly, and out of control.
Alex raised the palms of his hands a little, spreading his fingers and inspecting them. He had full control at all times. He had a sense of independence. He could adapt to any environment, conquer any kind of cell, memorize and replicate any genetic sequence, and he could exist as his own entity. He knew this, because he knew that he was nothing like the real Alex Mercer.
"Alex." Dr. Ragland's voice spoke from the slider door frame, and Mercer craned his neck around to look up at the doctor. "I… you should…" Ragland was trying his best at consoling him, Alex knew. He pawed at the air lightly, effectively waving away anything concerning Dana the man was about to say, and turned back around, looking out over Manhattan.
"I'm going to need to make a trip to the store soon." Ragland finally said, rubbing his face. He was exhausted… and hungry.
"Just give me a list." Alex said with a sigh, pushing aside his musings as he grasped the bars and pulled himself up.
"He's unpredictable." Cross stated, his arms crossed over a chest covered by a standard issue grey t-shirt. He was a tall, broad shouldered man, clothed in camouflage pants and barefoot. His voice was raspy and authoritative, and everything about the man exuded leader and hunter.
"I trust him." Eric said easily, scooping some food out of his dish and shoveling it into his mouth. Eric was a Blackwatch soldier, but you wouldn't have known him to be a soldier at all by the way he was dressed. He donned a comfortable pair of jeans and not much else. He had cropped black hair that had been growing a little unruly since his prolonged stay on Manhattan Island. There were worse things to be concerned with than hair that grew like a weed. He had grey eyes that saw most every detail but dodged being caught in the act. Eric was, after all, the kind to notice much and remain hardly noticed. He was also due for a shave, the shadow across his jaw evidence.
"Exactly." Cross grumbled, shifting his eyes downwards to glare at the younger man sitting at the table with his feet propped up. Eric shrugged.
"I don't believe we'll be able to accomplish the cleansing process on our own." Eric said, taking a swig of water. "Not only that, but he's evaded all attempts at capture anyway." This statement was pointed, and if it were even possible, Cross' frown deepened. He had been personally in charge of capturing ZEUS with his team, the Wise Men. He'd failed. Countless times. This unsettled the man who was not used to failing. In the end, he'd covertly contacted ZEUS and worked with him. Rather, he'd gotten the virus to work for him.
"The uppers won't like it." The Specialist said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"The uppers can shove it-".
"Captain Cross, 1st Lieutenant Morris. We have an update for you." Thomas Watson strode into the room without knocking, handing the higher ranking officer a folder. The red headed soldier promptly saluted to the two, and then left. Cross flipped open the folder and quickly began examining the contents.
"Huh… I guess this decides things for us, doesn't it?" He said after a moment of reading the documents within. A repetitive twitch of his eye bespoke some annoyance. He handed them to Eric for the other man to look them over. A smile quickly flushed across his face.
"Sure does. Looks like a visit with Dr. Ragland is on the schedule, eh?"