AN - This is just a quick ramble, stemming from an idea I have for a future story ^_^. Also my first non-Chris/Jill-centric fic. I hope you all enjoy it and would love to hear your thoughts! I have rated this M just to be safe.
'Grief teaches the steadiest minds to waver.'
January 7th 2014
There was a flash of light, perhaps a dawning sun flickering on the horizon. It lasted barely a second, but she caught it on the edge of her vision, held it in her thoughts for a few seconds longer.
Ferocious heat beat down upon her, scorched earth peppering her lips. She could almost taste death on the dirt, spluttering against the stench.
She was wounded, perhaps too badly. The desert infested her wounds, the vibrations of a circling carnivore echoing through the earth. And then, pattering became pounding, the snarl heard first, the curl of lips over sharpened teeth.
Claire spun, firing her Ithaca at the creature's belly. She felt its pain through every nerve. Or perhaps it was her own, aggravated by the recoil? It felt more forceful this time, but she was weaker than before. And so she cried out as her arms trembled, feeling the force of the shot in the base of her spine.
It was sheer luck that the lion was female, and quite emaciated; the shot was more than enough to kill it in its weakened state, and its light body crumpled a mere foot away from her.
Claire judged its physique, scanning for signs of infection. A shotgun blast to the belly would not be enough to fell a T-creature, nor a plaga so long as the parasite remained intact. The lioness's fur was filthy but untainted, wounds infested with maggots but otherwise clean. It was a simple, normal lioness.
"Fuck," she groaned, falling back as muscles cramped.
Barely moving, she inspected a deep gash in her abdomen and another on her arm. A severed tusk lay next to the lioness, coated in blood that was undoubtedly hers.
Her parents had always promised to take her to Nairobi 'when she was older'. They would sleep in game lodges, spot the big five! Oh, she had seen the big five; three had already tried to kill her.
Nervously, she checked her surroundings. For all she knew, minutes could have passed; the elephant could still be out there. It had been healthy in every respect that mattered now, though, like the lioness, it had appeared emaciated and frantic. It attacked her out of fear more than fury. There was so little left of Africa's wildlife now, and those that roamed uninfected were slowly dying of starvation. They knew now not to prey on the infected.
Even the infected had died out, starved to weakness and shrivelled by the sun.
Claire pressed the barrel of the Ithaca to the dirt and pushed, legs far more steady than her was a long walk back to base and she hoped that her strength would remain to see the journey through.
Hours passed and thirst took hold, but each village that passed remained desolate. That was simply how things were now; both the villagers and the tribal folk had relocated to the larger towns and cities, drawn by the heightened chance of survival. The T-virus rarely made it past the borders of the cities, and with families torn apart the G-virus died out in its first week of freedom.
But the cities had another evil to contend with.
She had witnessed with her own eyes what remained of Nouakchott; buildings reduced to rubble, blood painting the streets. There was not a body in sight; it was a ghost town in many respects. As with many other cities, they were not prepared for Uroboros. The city fell almost overnight.
Dakar was the only safe hold they had found; the former BSAA West-African base now an armed fortress. They had known from the beginning that fire repelled Uroboros, and it was this knowledge alone that had saved them all.
Dakar was where she must return, yet she recognised not a single shrivelled tree in her surroundings.
Claire fumbled in her pocket for the booklet of Litmus paper, tearing off a strip as she stumbled to a concealed trough within a dilapidated house, filled halfway with water. The survivors had learned that water became acidic when infused with viral particles, that Litmus paper was their safest option of testing water they had not cleansed and processed themselves.
The strip turned a deep shade of green almost instantly and she scooped water into her hands, slurping loudly. It was warm but it was good enough, and it cooled burnt skin as it evaporated. Carefully, diligently, she cleaned her wounds, hissing through gritted teeth as she dabbed iodine from her pack onto broken skin.
'You need to be more careful,' she reminded herself. Because with limited medical supplies, a simple bacterial infection had the potential to be deadly.
She bandaged her wounds as best she could, filled her canteen from the trough before washing her hands in the water and reaching for her radio.
"This is...Alpha Seven-Echo," she breathed, choking on the stifling humidity. "Request- Fuck it, I'm lost. I'm lost and I'm bleeding. Just find me...I'll maintain transmission for as long as possible, you should be able to track it. Over."
This military shit was still new to her mind. Chris was the militant one; she was always the one who shunned rules and violence. Yet here she was, in the middle of the fucking desert...and where was he?
"The quarantine will be in full effect within forty-eight hours," Lieutenant Daniels informed her. "We hope this will be enough."
She knew there was something he was not telling her, something he hid behind those big eyes and that optimistic smile.
"Tyrone," she pushed. "Why are you here? If anyone should be telling me this, it's Chris!"
Footsteps, outside the window.
Claire jumped, holstering the Ithaca, reaching for her loaded handguns. Save the power for the beasts.
"Chris," she whispered; hoping, not guessing. Her arms ached as she limped for the doorway, holding the weapons close to her shoulders. She found it easier to swing this way, but knew that such an action would bring her to her knees. If those feet belonged to Majini, she knew that it would be her last act. They rarely travelled alone.
Torn clothing hung from wires suspended between buildings. Infected lay still against the ground, bones visible through paper-thin skin, pink tongues lolling out past cracked lips. Starvation. The infection had spread so fast that food sources became limited. They were slow and lumbering, no match for those with the will to survive. Most had collapsed, unable to move, twitching for days before the echoes of life finally left them.
Footsteps, barely three feet away.
She twisted, balancing herself adequately as she thrust out an arm, pointing her weapon through the streets. Several chicken carcasses hung from what had once been a butcher's stall, meat pecked away by famished birds.
Movement again, closer this time.
Claire jumped, firing against a shadow. Bullets pounded into the dirt, but they missed their target.
The lizard stared back at her, tongue lashing out. She froze, speechless.
The beast was longer than she was tall, bearing muscle she knew could overpower her in seconds. She had seen these creatures before, always through a thick plate of glass. But they were not native to Africa.
The creature stepped forward, judging her, mocking her almost. And then it charged, powerful legs propelling it forward.
And then it was gone, in a hail of bullets and blood.
"The Komodo dragon," a voice whispered in her ear, her hand trembling; it was not her weapon that had fired. "Wonderful research specimens. Not deadly by design, their saliva is teeming with pathogens; so potent just one bite can kill."
She turned, firing her weapon into his chest, limping through the mess left by the dragon, seeking the shelter of poorly-constructed abodes.
"Running and hiding?" Wesker laughed. "So like your brother."
Claire shrank into the shadows, switching to the Ithaca once again. The pea-shooters would do nothing against him; she was not sure that the spray of the shotgun would but it was the more hopeful option.
Tins of perishable food littered the floor of the shack, insects crunching beneath her feet as she shifted.
And he was there, reaching through the rag at the window.
She fired, and skin peeled from bone, but he did not flee. She did.
Her steps were unsteady, body aching for the morphine that had leaked from shattered ampoules. She may as well have ran with bricks strapped to her ankles.
'You have to run!' she urged herself. 'Faster!'
"Wesker is dead," Jill whispered, the corners of her lips curling upward at the acknowledgement. "There was no way he survived."
"Then what happened to Chris?"
Jill shook the distant expression, frost falling into her eyes.
"Do you think death could stop a monster like Wesker?" she hissed. "He always finds a way."
A rush of air sounded in all directions and the Ithaca followed every tumbling pot, every fallen pan. Every time she fired, it was a second too late, wasted bullets splintering wood, cracking dried dirt. He was circling her, as a hyena would its prey.
"Intelligence does not run thick in your family."
She spun, fired.
He pulled the weapon from her grasp, slammed the handle against her skull. Light flared behind her eyes and the sky fell farther away. His hands were at her worn fatigues, pulling plastic-wrapped parcels from her pockets. She barely registered the action, pulled herself away frantically.
"On such an occasion, many would thank God for the gifts he has presented," Wesker chuckled. "Don't mind if I forgo appreciation. Opportunities are not made; they present themselves. We are the architects of fate, turning opportunity into action."
Dirt crumbled beneath the bandage she wore, itching, aggravating. She kicked her legs, propelled herself forwards. Sand, hair and tiny rocks gathered beneath her fingernails as she clawed through the earth, anything to secure her grip.
She heard the click of the Ithaca behind her.
"But this, my dear," Wesker sighed. "This opportunity is not yours."
Rock salt. The bullets were a back-up plan, created in anticipation of a frightening lack of shells. They would slow down majini, but would not stop them. They were not a weapon. Yet the pain that seared into her calves claimed otherwise, fabric tearing, skin shredding.
She screamed, and he laughed, firing this time at her arms. She could not crawl, could barely move. The hot sun burned her skin, salt ensuring that the pain in her wounds did not fade.
"Sto-Stop," she begged as she felt the toe of his boot touch to her side. With one swift kick, he turned her onto her back, reloading nonchalantly.
"That is exactly what he said," he smiled. The third shot drove salt into the wound across her abdomen and her scream tore through the village. Surely he knew that it would attract majini...or worse.
She knew then that this was how her life would end, sprawled on scorched earth, sobbing at the foot of her enemy. Wesker knew it also, and crouched at her side, smoothing stray hair back.
"You are strong," he noted. "But also foolish...arrogant. Just like him. It truly is a shame that it must end this way. I would very much have liked to...work with you."
"G-Go to hell," she spat.
"Now, now," he warned. "Would you mock the devil to his face?"
Every breath tore her lungs to shreds, but she kept breathing. He blotted out the sun as he hovered above her, tugging at the crude bandage and tutting at what lay beneath.
"What- What did you do to him?" she demanded.
Wesker smiled, leaned down, brushed his lips against her ear.
"I killed his sister."
Pain flared, lost to the sensation of agony. His fingers pierced the skin of her chest as though they were daggers, bypassing her ribcage easily. She felt his grip on her heart, choking the life out of her as she cried out. Arteries split, the fragments of her ribcage slicing muscle as he pulled back, tearing her heart from her chest.
It throbbed in his hand, like a fish in death throes. The last breath escaped her, but her eyes followed the organ, watching as it fell to the ground, crushed beneath the heel of his boot.
Claire woke in a heated sweat, clutching a hand to her chest.
The sun had set outside, the only light emanating from the television. She could barely hear the words of the reporter above the pounding of her heart.
"-drawing close to the fifth anniversary of the incident, and we are still to believe that there is no explanation for what occurred that day?"
"David, you have to understand that this is a sensitive topic. Millions of innocent people lost their lives to-"
"And the majority of those casualties were poor inhabitants of third-world countries!"
"I'm sorry, gentlemen, but we have to finish here. Thank you both for your input. The BSAA has scheduled a press conference to address growing concerns over the safety of the African quarantine zone. Though they have faced harsh criticism over the number of casualties, their swift action undoubtedly led to the salvation of millions of lives that would otherwise have been lost. The recent announcement of plans to conduct an investigation within the quarantine zone will likely add to their growing support. Amongst the devastating number of the deceased are believed to be twenty-eight BSAA agents caught behind as frantic evacuations took place. Amongst the twenty-eight are believed to be Original Eleven member Christopher Redfield, Colonel-"
Claire shut the television off, unable to listen to any more. Echoes of the nightmare resounded in her mind.
She considered the monster behind the name, considered the life it cost to finally claim his. No…the lives.
Chris had changed in the aftermath of his death. A shadow of his former self, he had locked himself in his apartment for weeks, drinking himself into a stupor before diving headfirst into one suicidal assignment after another. Jill's death hit him harder than any had in years. The bite of unrequited love became venomous, and she feared one day that it would kill him.
Perhaps it had.
Rumours had driven him to Africa, hope turning to obsession. She was alive in his mind, and he would find her if it killed him.
That was five years ago. He was simply one of many; a statistic in what became the most devastating act of terrorism in human history.
Claire ran a hand absently over her abdomen, recalling the pain she had felt in the depths of sleep. It had been real to her, everything from the heat to the details. Had it been a message? She had been searching for reason, for hope…was this it?
And she reached for the phone, keying in the number of the BSAA North American headquarters with trembling fingers.
"Sir," she gasped, using the sleeve of her cardigan to mop sweat from her neck. "I'm in."
Without a further word, she ended the call.
The distant hum of traffic was the only sound, and she sat in the darkness, skin itching beneath moist clothing.
Whatever the consequences, she did not care. Chris was alive, she just knew it. He was somewhere in Africa, fighting for survival; that was where she must head. And she would find him, whatever the cost.
AN - Please review :)