It was barely dawn, the sky a dark shade of blue and the sun not making its customary appearance yet. A small chopper flew in the air and over snowcapped mountains, disrupting the silence brought by the early hour. Its rotors whirred gently, lulling its five passengers into a serene, almost sleepy state. Claire Redfield smiled as she looked at her fellow TerraSave members, her mouth twitching upward. Up until about a decade ago, she wouldn't have pegged herself to be used to the motions of a helicopter. She wouldn't even have thought that encountering walking nightmares would practically be an everyday event for her, but such was what life brought her, and Redfields were known never to back up on anything, not even if the world threw them fastballs. Her smile dimmed somewhat when she remembered just what these events in her life were, but it returned when she remembered that there were good things the last few years brought too. Christian was one of them.
"Thinking about your nephew again?"
Claire Redfield whirled at the sound of the voice. Seeing it was Andrea, her grin grew wider. "Who wouldn't be? The little guy's adorable!" Her thoughts drifted off to her baby nephew and to his parents. After Chris had rescued Jill from Africa (or, if Jill's story was right, they mutually rescued each other, and Claire held back a laugh as she secretly bet that was really the case), the two didn't waste time. They got married less than a month after their return, and little Christian was the result of the union. Claire was delighted for her brother and his wife because she knew just what their relationship had cost them, but there was a part of her that couldn't help but be envious of them. She loved children, and while Leon had been everything that she could ever wish to be, he still hadn't popped the question, and had avoided any conversations when words like "children" and "marriage" were involved. Because it wasn't her nature to push sensitive topics and she sensed that Leon still hasn't recovered completely from a woman he met years ago, the subject was largely left untouched by the couple. Her musings were interrupted by a light laugh, a response to her comment and a reward in itself if someone knew the girl's background.
Andrea practically hero-worshipped her. Claire had tried to keep her involvement in the whole Umbrella mess a secret, only giving the barest information to her superiors in TerraSave after they assured her of confidentiality. The cat practically flew out of the bag when the Harvardville Airport disaster happened, and the media practically feasted on the information that one of its survivors just happened to be one of the handful who managed to escape from Raccoon City and had a hand in destroying two of Umbrella Corporation's properties. The fact that she happened to be the younger sister of one of BSAA's top decorated agents just added icing to the cake. Claire had tried to insist to the other TerraSave employees not to give her any special treatment or to treat her differently, but the damage, as she saw it, had already been done. The older employees looked at her as competition, while the younger, newer members saw her as their own personal hero. Andrea was one of the worst in the bunch, despite being only a few years younger than her. In a way, Claire understood. The girl didn't have any parents to raise her, and she grew up on the streets without anyone to look up to. TerraSave had found her on one of its rescue missions which Claire led, and she had stuck on as one of its members. Claire had to admit that she was flattered she was someone's role model, but sometimes, it got embarrassing, at least, for Andrea. She was not even being able to talk to her without stumbling over her words or her feet. Claire hoped that he fact that she was finally able to talk to start a conversation with her idol was a sign that she would finally see her as a human being and less as someone up on a pedestal.
"It's true," Claire said good-naturedly. "He's probably the cutest baby I've ever seen, and I'm not just saying that because he's blood!" This earned another giggle from Andrea. "I was over their house yesterday to visit him, and you wouldn't believe how much he's grown! I can't believe he's only six months old, I mean, he's practically growing too large for the clothes we just got him. He's probably going to take after Chris, he's always…" Suddenly, she cocked her head to the side. "You hear that?" When Andrea shook her head, she leaned over to the pilot. "Ryan, is there something wrong? The engine doesn't sound right."
"Nothing I can't handle, Claire," came the jovial voice of Ryan Wilkins, their designated pilot. Claire, like most of the TerraSave members, liked Ryan. He was lighthearted, someone you can count on for a few laughs, but he also knew when to sober up in missions. Currently, he was tasked to bring the TerraSave representatives to Argentina, where the UN conference was scheduled to be, a positive sign that the group is taking measures in investigating pharmaceutical companies and their connections to the black market. "We're just going through a rough spot, but we should get over it pretty quickly. We'll be in our destination in about an hour, so sit back and relax!"
Not thoroughly appeased, Claire leaned back in her seat again, giving what she hoped was a reassuring smile to Andrea, who was starting to look worried. She hasn't been with TerraSave long enough to get used to the helicopter rides. The others had already started to stir, no doubt because of the strange sounds the engine was making. "Is there something wrong?" Chad asked, rubbing a hand over his face sleepily. "I thought I felt the chopper buck."
"Ryan said that it's just a rou-", Claire started to say, but was cut off at the sound of Ryan's frantic movements to flick some switches. She'd ridden with him several times in the past years to know that the pilot never panicked, not even when they flew over guerilla-overtaken countries with high-powered weapons being fired at them. Slowly, the words he was murmuring in the headpiece reached her ears. "Possible engine failure… No place to land… Mountains…" Panic gripped her.
Gina, the senior officer, tried to speak. "Ryan, what's…" but an expletive from the pilot interrupted her. Speaking to all of them while keeping his hands and eyes trained to the controls and to the area they're flying in, he spoke, "Okay, everyone." Gone was his jolly tone. "We're in a tough spot right now. The engine's acting up, and I'm not seeing any smooth plot of land where I can land this thing. The good news is that it's not snowing, so visibility is still pretty clear. The bad news is that we seem to have been cut off from HQ. It's probably because our altitude's pretty high, and we might get the reception back once we go lower, but I don't think we'd get it fast enough to help us right now."
The passengers all took deep breaths when the words sank in. There's engine failure, no landing area in sight, and no immediate help. Beside Claire, Andrea had paled several shades, and had begun to tremble. They were visibly lower now, only a few feet above the trees. Claire gave her a commiserating look, and turned back to the pilot. "If there's anyone who can land this thing, you can," she said quietly to Ryan.
"Thanks, Claire," the pilot said. A tight grin appeared on his face, barely visible from where the younger Redfield sat. "Buckle up, everyone," he called out. "This is going to be a tight ride."
The next few minutes were a blur. The next thing Claire knew, she found herself flying through the air when her seatbelt snapped, and she only had time to look up to see the helicopter careening wildly before consciousness left her.
Here's the sequel to "Light in the Darkness"! I'm sorry it took so long to start this, but I hope you'll like it. I haven't written the succeeding chapters yet, but count on the fact that Chris, Jill, Leon and some special characters will make an appearance here. It's not necessary to read "Light in the Darkness" (at least I don't think so, at this point in time), but it would provide some background info about what's going to be coming up in the next chapters. I won't be updating this as fast as I did my other stories (since my sked's really tight these days), but I started it just so I can have the motivation to finish writing the story.
Reviews are really appreciated, so if you like/hate this chapter, please let me know! I'm not really a fan of this intro, to be honest, but it gets the job done. Is the pacing okay? Is Claire in character? This is the first story I'm writing that has Claire playing a prominent role, so I don't know if I can pull this off (I've been writing Chris/Jill stories, so this is definitely a new one for me!) Really, please let me know if any part of the story sounds off, I like getting comments because it also helps me put direction in the story.
Oh, and for those who are reading "Chris Redfield Is", I'm really sorry for the delay in updating. I have to go on serious mode because of the stuff I'm doing for school, so I need to put humor on the side first.x_x I'm not discontinuing it though, it's just on hiatus.
Thanks for reading!