Disclaimer: Prototype is the property of Activision.
And yeah… this'll be kinda random.
In the plague-ridden city of Manhattan, a solemn figure stood on the edge of the roof, looking down at the ruined city below him. A squad of Blackwatch soldiers passed on the streets, not noticing they were being watched by the grim creature.
For his part, the figure narrated the tale of the events which had led to his current situation. My name is Alex Mercer. I'm the reason for all of this. They call me a killer, a monster, a terrorist. I'm all of these things…
"Damn it! Now you're ruining my monologues! Bad kitty!"
SEVERAL HOURS EARLIER…
Unstoppable viral mutant Alex Mercer leapt from rooftop to rooftop. Poetry in motion. Well, more like a heavy metal album barreling headlong through any all opposition. He had to hurry. He had to get to where he needed to be in time… he just had to. The consequences would be dire if he failed…
It had all started when he tore into his latest target; a Blackwatch officer. The man was assigned to hunt down and get answers from Dana Mercer, and had committed her entire profile to memory. And then, Alex found yet another horrible truth… it was her birthday. Today. And he hadn't bought a gift. Or stolen a gift. Or just looted a gift from a wrecked store. Or even gotten a cake.
He briefly mulled over his options. Hmm… couldn't the Blackwatch file on Dana include 'helpful gift suggestions'? Damn… what does she like? Aside from me not murdering lots of people… I'll hold off on making that pledge until New Years…
He assessed the situation. He needed a gift idea, something that'd make her happy. He wondered how he would get one. He considered tracking down her friends, eating them, and using their knowledge to figure out what to get her. Then he realized that killing off her friends would make her sad. Which would be the opposite of what he was aiming for.
He dropped down to ground level, but hesitated. He had never really gone shopping; the closest he had come was when he once ducked inside a Starbucks in an attempt to hide from Blackwatch. That… hadn't ended so well… he reminded himself. Severed limbs and spilled coffee everywhere…
He put his hands in his pockets, scowling at the forgone conclusion that they were empty. No cash… He mulled over his options. He could try shoplifting… then he realized that would probably somehow end up, like everything else he tried doing around normal people. Six or seven gunships chasing after me, with a few dozen tanks. Great…
Suddenly, something caught his eye. Movement, coming from an alley. Alex slowly approached, his hands curling into fists. Ready to fight. Ready to kill. He lunged into the alley, ready to face whatever Blackwatch or the Infected could throw at him.
Instead, he saw a kitten. It didn't take a genius to figure out where it had come from, and Alex had already eaten a couple of geniuses. Due to the collapse of municipal services, garbage wasn't generally collected; which led to an infestation of rats in areas that weren't covered by viral biomass. That attracted the stray cats. The cats made the kittens.
Trying his best to be gentle, Alex picked the creature up by the scruff of its neck. It was a cream-colored ball of fuzz, with little black paws and ears. It didn't seem frightened, staring at its captor in curiosity. A dozen thoughts ran through Alex's head.
Is it edible?
If I threw it hard enough, in just the right location, could I bring down a gunship?
Wonder what it tastes like.
Why the fuck is it staring at me?
I'm curious… how many of these would I need to eat to equal consuming one person?
Seriously, stop staring or I'll throw you at a helicopter.
Why do people like these things so much, I mean its not like…
At that moment, Alex's thought processes were interrupted by the dozens of people he consumed, dozens of damned souls in his head, crying out in unison.
Alex's knees buckled, and he collapsed on his face. As the voices in his head died down, he was aware of the kitten playfully batting at one of the strings of his hood. Part of him was still tempted to throw that kitten at a helicopter and see what would happen. But a part of him realized that he might have just found the solution to his problem.
He carefully picked the kitten up and scratched it behind its ears. It closed its eyes and purred, rubbing its head against his jacket. Yeah… this thing'll do… He wondered how he would get it to Dana's; he wasn't exactly gentle and had a habit of… breaking things. Lightbulbs, furniture, people. It took him a few minutes, but eventually a plan came to mind…
Abby stood behind the counter, flipping through a magazine. She wondered why she even bothered coming in to work anymore; given the fact most of the potential customers had been eaten. And maybe the manager had gotten eaten too. Which meant she could've skipped out of work. Right when she was she was about to leave the store for a quick smoke, the door swung open.
He was a creepy-looking bastard. Pale skin and dark circles under his eyes seemed made it look like he hadn't slept in a decade, was a plague victim, or both. He was wearing a well-worn leather jacket over a hoodie covered in dirt and grime. His eyes seemed almost inhuman in their intensity and focus.
Of course, the man's menacing appearance was undercut by a kitten tucked inside his hoodie, head poking out inquisitively.
"Sir, the store doesn't allow pets." Abby said, turning back to her magazine.
"Look, I need cat food and litter, can't I just…"
The man's bargaining was cut off when by the sound of feral roars and breaking glass. He turned to face a trio of hunters, growling menacingly at him. "Where the fuck did these guys come from?" The man asked as he pulled the kitten out of his shirt and set it carefully on the ground.
"I'd guess that warehouse across the street with the red stuff growing on it…" Abby said, continuing to flip through the magazine. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a massive, silver blade replace the customer's right arm. Fight scene time?
"You seriously have a hive across the street, and you came to work today?" He asked incredulously.
"Actually, they seem to keep the stupid people away, so normally I don't mind them. They don't usually bash down the front wall." Abby said, setting down the magazine and preparing to watch the carnage. This is gonna be EPIC!
Abby, the customer, and the hunters all looked down at the kitten. It had walked over to the nearest hunter, positioning itself right below the creatures jaws. The giant infected opened its mouth and…
…let out a rather hilarious shriek. Suddenly, it and its two compatriots turned and fled.
"Did your cat just chase away the hunters?" Abby asked, not sure whether to be disappointed at the lack of carnage, or amused.
"Uh… yeah…" The customer said as his arm returned to normal. Turning, he noticed the pet supplies; after picking the kitten back up, he grabbed the food and litter and turned towards the door. "Anyways… kay thanks bye!" He said, before running outside.
"Hey! Aren't you going to pay for those?" Abby said, reaching for the phone.
Fifteen minutes later, the Wiseman Squad was assembled at Red Crown Command for an emergency level briefing. Captain Cross wondered if they were going to be sent against ZEUS again. Since their last encounter, the thing had only grown more powerful. His ruminations were cut short when General Peter Randall walked in and turned the squad's attention to a monitor.
It looked like security camera footage of ZEUS and… a kitten? That's weird.
One of the team members in the back raised his hand. "Sir, what is this a—" He began, before a rage-filled glare from General Randall shut him up. The squad continued to watch the footage, and Cross's eyes went wide as he saw the kitten chase away a pack of hunters. And then, ZEUS shoplifted pet supplies. And the cashier hopped over the counter and grabbed a case of beer.
Cross was wondering if someone had slipped something into his coffee that morning, when one of his compatriots tapped him on the shoulder and asked "Did I just see what I thought I saw?"
"You are witnessing security camera footage of a shop downtown. Codename ZEUS stole cat food and cat litter from it, accompanied by what appears to be a small kitten. The cashier notified police after the incident occurred, and we're monitoring all 911 calls on the island containing the words 'pale corpselike hoodie bastard'. If you're wondering, she blamed ZEUS for the missing beer, too." Randall said, hand clenching into a fist. "I want your team in the field to find it and bring it in."
"No problem, sir." Cross said, confident tone masking the utter confusion he felt. "ZEUS is as good as—"
"Not ZEUS." Randall responded, slightly agitated. "That animal… did you see how the hunters reacted? It's possible that that animal is behind all this."
"It's a kitten…"
"It's a monster! I want it on a slab in one hour!" Randall replied, scowling. "I don't care what it takes, bring it in!"
"Fine, we'll bring in the kitten…" Cross said, trying not to roll his eyes. His team was being sent to fight the deadliest thing in Manhattan, possibly the deadliest thing in the world, over a kitten.
"You will address the target by its codename. Mittens."
"Mittens?" A soldier in the back asked. Generally, codenames tended not to be so adorable.
"Good question, Murphy. My secretary's the one who usually comes up with codenames, but when I showed her a picture of the target, all she could do was ramble on about how cute he looked, and how those dark patches on his paws look like mittens." Randall replied with a shrug.
"It is quite precious…" Another soldier said.
"Not now, Dunn! Screw it, let's just call the thing DEATHCAT PRIME so you people will get off your asses and get the job done!" Randall grumbled.
"Sir, yes sir!" the entire squad responded, while simultaneously thinking I am not getting paid enough to deal with this crap…
While he originally had every intention of paying for the pet supplies he was currently hauling (As he had beaten up a mugger and stolen his wallet on his way to the store), Alex decided just to take it when the hunters smashed a bigger entrance. After all, why not? He had already violated the store's 'no pets' policy, and considering how much havoc he wreaked on a daily basis, commandeering cat food was one of the less evil things he had done all week. Looking over his shoulder, at the direction of the store, he thought to himself And besides, the cat needs this stuff. Now I just gotta get this thing to Dana…
Looking forward, he saw an M-1 Abrams tank. Aiming it's main cannon. At him. Okay, memo to self. Never, ever, shoplift again.
A deafening roar sounded as 120 millimeters of depleted uranium and high explosive were launched in his direction. Alex ducked, the shell barely missing his face. Leaping atop the tank, he sprinboarded to a nearby rooftop, and took off running. After making sure he was no longer in the line of fire, he paused and winced. The kitten was scared, digging its claws into his chest.
After dropping the food and litter, he carefully took the animal out of his shirt and set it on the rooftop, intending to wait for it to calm down. The buzzing of helicopter rotors made him scowl. I hate Blackwatch so very, very much.
Captain Louis Grey, of the Blackwatch Air Wing, Wardog Squadron, carefully pushed his Apache helicopter forward. ZEUS was in the area, and it was his squadron's goal to take him down. Unfortunately, after those USMC tank crews missed him, they lost sight of him. So now he was watching the rooftops for any bizarre activity.
He looked to his right to see ZEUS, hanging onto the helicopter. Tearing open the cockpit, he glared at Grey and the helicopter's gunner, Smith. He reached towards the unfortunate weapons officer and… gave him a kitten?
"Hold that for a minute." The monster said, before letting go of the helicopter.
"ZEUS has been spotted! Smith! Open fire!" Grey yelled out.
"Aww, this little guy's so cute…"
"What? Forget the kitten! He's killing our squadron! Oh my god! He just threw a car at Wardog Three! I repeat, Wardog Three is down!"
"Aw, his little paws look kinda like mittens. Yes they do, yes they do!"
"Seriously, he just jumpkicked Two out of the air!
"Who's a floofly widdle…"
"That's not even English you moron! SHOOT!" Grey yelled, before realizing his entire squadron had been destroyed. Another thud marked ZEUS's return to their helicopter.
"I'm gonna need that back. Promise not to shoot me?" He growled at Smith.
"With that widdle guy in the crossfire? Of course not." The gunner replied, handing it back to ZEUS. "Thank you for letting me hold him!" He yelled as ZEUS once again dropped down off their helicopter.
"I hate you so very, very much, Smith…"
Upon returning to the roof where he had stashed the food and litter, ZEUS took a deep breath. Okay, that hadn't been pleasant, but at least it was over. Now to finally take this thing to Dana…
Suddenly, a familiar voice called out behind him "Gullibleidiotturnsaround!"
"Whuh?" Alex said, turning around to see Captain Cross's taser heading for his face. The next thing he saw, once his eyes stopped smoldering was the Blackwatch leader, backed by a full complement of troops, standing in front of him. Okay… all my limbs are still attached. That's a good sign. He thought as he got back to his feet. I hope the kitten is okay… He then realized the kitten was no longer tucked into his hoodie.
"Give it up, Mercer." Captain Cross said, smiling. It was a false one, mainly because he considered stealing kittens a gross waste of his time.
"Cross!" Alex growled in rage. Regaining his composure, he decided to play things cool. Cracking his knuckles, he bragged "You really want to go another round with me? Last time, I would have killed you if it weren't for that trick you pulled. But bringing up Penn Station isn't going to work this time, and I'm even stronger than I was back then."
"We're not here for you." Captain Cross replied, tightening his grip on his shock baton. "Murphy, Dunn, get Mittens… er… DEATHCAT PRIME to the extraction point." He added, glancing over to the two soldiers entrusted with seizing the target. Alex also glared, and was filled with cold, murderous rage. They had the kitten.
One trooper, clad in the black biohazard gear typical of his unit, was trying to pet the small mammal, while a similarly-equipped soldier tried to keep it to himself. "Captain! Dunn won't let me pet him!"
The one holding the cat yelled out "I called it first!" as he stroked the creature's ear.
"Nuh-uh! I did!
"What. The fuck. Is going on?" Mercer said, wondering if this all wasn't some sick practical joke being perpetrated by Blackwatch.
"The kitten, Mercer. Our orders were to capture the kitten." Cross half said, half sighed, feeling a little bit of his soul die as he said that. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we're taking it to be vivisected."
"Wait, you meant to tell me an elite Blackwatch strike team, a tank battalion, and a flight of gunships wasn't sent out to chase the unstoppable virus monster, but to steal a kitten?" Alex's jaw dropped.
"Yeah, pretty much." Cross said, turning and signaling for his men to follow. That was the last straw. Alex needed that cat. He needed to do something nice for Dana, given all the shit she had been through due to his mistakes. He didn't need yet another reason to want to eviscerate Blackwatch, but as long as they didn't mind giving him some…
"Hand over the animal, or else I swear I will shove tentacles in places tentacles should not be shoved!" Alex bellowed.
The assembled Blackwatch troops nervously looked around at each other, and even Cross seemed a bit unnerved by this, as he turned around, slightly. "You don't mean…"
"Yes… the eye sockets." Mercer said, grinning evilly. A chorus of "Oh thank God…" and "That's not as bad…" emanated from the assembled troops. Alex's smirk faded as he tried to figure out why they were relieved. "What are you guys so happy about?"
"Oh, it's just we all thought you were gonna…" One of the troopers said, before another motioned for him to be quiet, and not give the shapeshifting freak any ideas.
"Seriously, what's worse than tentacles to the eye sockets?" Alex asked, before realization struck him like a ton of bricks. "Oh… you mean that you thought I was going to do –that-? Seriously, you are some sick, sick people. What, just because I have tentacles automatically means I use them like that?"
"We just thought…" A trooper started to say, before Mercer took a few steps towards him.
"Look, I don't do that, and am offended that you people thought I did. Demeaning stereotypes like that do a disservice to us all all, and I am disgusted that you people buy into them. Look, I can be a decent enough guy…" Alex said, calmly, rationally. Then he grabbed the nearest Blackwatch trooper by the neck and glared at Cross. "Give me the goddamn kitten or I'm tearing out this guy's intestines and strangling you with them!"
"I thought you said you could be a decent guy." Cross said, looking at the kitten, then to Mercer, then to the soldier in Mercer's grasp.
"I said 'can be'. Now's not one of those times. Hand over the cat, or I swear to god there won't be enough left of any of you to fill a Ziploc bag."
"Why the Hell would you need a cat?" Cross asked, trying to think of a battle plan. "Hungry or something?" At that moment, the one trooper in Alex's grasp shook his head wildly, terrified that Cross brought up food around the man-eating viral monster currently strangling him.
"It's a gift for my sister. It's her birthday today; and I really want to do something nice for her, because she's put up with a lot of shit because of me." Alex said. "So please, just give me the cat, and I'll be on my way."
"Sorry, Mercer. But one way or another, that cat's ending up in the morgue." Cross growled, readying for battle.
Simultaneously, Murphy and Dunn yelled out "What?"
"Our orders are to catch the cat so McMullen can perform a vivisection…"
"Vivi-what?" Dunn asked, holding the kitten closer. "I just assumed it meant 'give ball of yarn to'."
"No you idiot, it means they want to cut the cat open." Cross explained, simultaneously hearing the entire squad groan. "Seriously, don't you guys understand science talk?" he asked, unsurprised yet still vaguely worried by the chorus of 'no's that responded.
"Sorry, sir." Murphy said, positioning himself between the kitten and Cross. "I'm not going to let you hand the cat over to McMullen." Several other troopers positioned themselves similarly.
"Seriously?" Cross growled. "You guys are all going to defect over this?"
"Defect?" Dunn asked quizzically.
"Switch sides, jackass." Cross shook his head. Dear God I am not paid nearly enough to deal with this crap.
"If that's what it means, then yes." Murphy said, his fellow troopers nodding in agreement.
"If I could make a comment…" The trooper in Alex's grasp said. "I think we should give the man back the kitten, and call a truce so he can celebrate his sister's birthday. And nobody else needs to be horrifically mangled today."
"Yeah, Jim's right." Dunn nodded in agreement, walking over and handing the kitten over to ZEUS. The virus monster responded by letting Jim go, the soldier immediately running as far away as the rooftop would allow.
Cross simply clenched his teeth, took in a deep breath, and tried not to snap. After a minute, he shrugged. "Okay, fine. You know what; I honestly don't care at this point. I am just going to go back to base, go to bed, and try and forget this whole thing ever happened. Just… somebody tell Randall we couldn't find the cat and called off the search. And ZEUS? Next time your sister has a birthday, could you please get her something that isn't that cute?"
"So you're admitting this thing is cute?" Alex said, checking the animal over to make sure it wasn't damaged.
"No, so that my men won't feel bad about killing it…"
Several Hours Later…
Dana Mercer sat at her computer, bleary-eyed and tired. For the past twelve hours she had been scouring for information on Elizabeth Greene, fueled only by sheer determination. And Red Bull. Lots of Red Bull. She blinked hard, wondering if the text on screen was real or a product of her caffeine-addled, sleep deprived brain.
Deathly allergic to cats.
She chuckled at that thought. Allergic to cats. That's hilarious. I wonder if she's afraid of them as a result. If she was, would her monsters be afraid? Naaah… Dana seriously. You need to get a grip.
She heard the door open behind her. It was obviously Alex, since he was the only one who had a key. Without looking, she said "Sorry. I haven't been able to find out anything of value… but here's something kinda funny; Elizabeth Greene's allergic to cats."
"Are you?" Alex asked, with an apprehensive tone in his voice.
"No…" She said, rubbing the back of her neck. It irked her that he couldn't remember anything about her since he woke up at the morgue, but at the very least he was spending time with her again, something he hadn't done in years.
"Ah… that's good." Alex said, in a relieved tone that made her turn around. Her jaw dropped at the sight of her big, scary brother with a nervous look on his face as a kitten crawled over his shoulders. "I… wasn't sure what to get you… and…" he paused as he saw her eyes begin to water. "Are you sure you're not allergic?"
"You remembered my birthday?" She said, wrapping her arms around him. Alex tensed up for a moment, before relaxing. Dana then gently picked the animal off her brother's shoulder and scratched it behind its ears. She said "I… thank you! He's so… I…"
Somehow, watching his sister be unable to form coherent sentence over the kitten brought a smile to Alex's face. "So… what'll you name it?"
"Um… not sure. You have any ideas?"
"Well, those dark patches on his paws look like mittens, so… maybe Mittens?" He said, feeling a little foolish when she looked at him like he was insane.
"Nah…" She said, rubbing the kitten's stomach. "I'm thinking… Hunter."
"You're naming it after the monsters ravaging the city?"
"No, after my favorite journalist." Dana replied, smiling at the little ball of fuzz she was holding. "I just… I… thank you. I hope you didn't go to too much trouble getting him."
"For you?" Alex said, grinning again. "It was no trouble at all. Happy Birthday, Dana."
Author's Note: Eh, this was spurred on from being stalled on another project, a desire to write something humorous, a friend's observation that Dana really needs a kitten or something nice after all she's been through, and another friend's penchant for posting pictures of kittens.
I'd like to thank Saeto, Lang Noi, NanoMoose, and Ferric for their help and inspiration on this project. And I'd like to thank the readers, for all views, favorites, and reviews you guys left. I'm both surprised and rather glad at the response this fic has gotten. Thank you all.