Chapter Three - Mysteries Unveiling
"Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart." – Psalm 97
Once Rebecca finished reading the highly illuminating, painfully disturbing details provided in the salvaged pages of Dr. Helen Schmitz's diary, she gulped croakily. Her heart skipped a beat. The suspense of taking in this knowledge, comprehending it, and then acknowledging it as fact, abominable as it certainly was, very much took her aback for a short-lived, yet still nonetheless embarrassing, moment: Despite Umbrella's unspeakable crimes against Humanity,YES, the corporation, incomprehensibly evil, was truly at it again. And frighteningly, there was absolutely no way to say with any certainty that their actions wouldn't be even more damaging this time, even more catastrophic, and maybe to the overall betterment of human society, too! In mere DAYS Umbrella's actions had wiped out 100,000 innocent civilians — almost everyone in Raccoon City, hence — so who was anyone to say that their next affirmative action wouldn't somehow be even worse? The possibilities were endless...
Finally Rebecca just shuddered, unable to stop herself from unleashing a fear-stricken gasp in her shock. Trying to appear contained as possible, the youngest S.T.A.R.S. team member looked up at her friends, her comrades who had too survived the treachery of Umbrella. Luckily fazed speechless only for a couple seconds longer, ultimately she just said, "Wow...That's, that's, well, pretty intense stuff. Umbrella never ceases to surprise us with its atrocious dealings, does it?" Her voice trickled with an uncomfortable bitterness.
Chris and Jill looked studiously at her, seemingly intrigued by her reaction, by the transfixed horror vividly coloring expression on her face because of it. Naturally, both of them tensed up themselves in response, with Jill firstly responding after exhaling a long, deep breath. "That's right, sadly. But don't worry, 'Becca. We've got the skills and talents on our side to take them down together." But somehow Jill's words had not managed to sound quite as reassuring as she'd clearly intended, the conviction in her tone coming across moderated.
Rebecca gulped achingly, exasperated from fathoming so many ominous details all at once. Though obviously unconvinced, she said nothing. Played it safe. Nonetheless, Chris, immediately noticing her hardly inconspicuous, silent vulnerable responses, stepped closer to Rebecca and affectionately patted her on the back. Then, totally surprising her, in a tone of voice that was very caring and, again slightly uncharacteristic, rather sentimental, the oldest of the three S.T.A.R.S members present consoled, "It's going to be alright, Rebecca —I promise."
Embarrassed by how visible her doubt and disbelief surely appeared, Rebecca sighed wistfully, only very timidly returning to look up at her watching teammates. And when she finally did utter a verbal response, she remained unable to disguise the vulnerability that flattened her tone. "So, uh, where do we go from here, then?" Her glum tone of voice was barely unrhetorical.
And hence she was caught quite off guard when Chris immediately answered her unsuspecting gaze in a few very particular, reassuring words. "We make a plan," he said firmly, as though he'd already anticipated her very question. That he couldn't have sounded any more filled with confidence made a redefining difference too, no doubt.
No less promptly, Jill followed up Chris' words in an equally assertive voice that led with direction. "And that's where you come in," she said upfront, pointing of course right at Rebecca, whom, believe it or not, they'd perhaps never seen so flushed from shyness.
Barry Burton sat up straight in his first-class seat on an American Airlines jet just after noontime, impatiently awaiting their twice-delayed take-off from Atlanta International Airport. He was anxious to set sail for Belize at last, having grown only doubly confident of his decision since the fight with Amy, his worrisome wife, three days ago. He wanted to be in the company of his loyal comrades doing something about all of it already; after all, the sooner they successfully accomplished their objective (taking down Umbrella of course), the sooner this whole dangerous game would be over. Then Barry could return to his family, return to living out what, prior to this mess with Umbrella anyway, had come quite close to a reflection of the American dream. Yes indeed (and undoubtedly to no one's surprise), the Burton family man couldn't help thinking about his family back in Atlanta all the time. Fear and concern, thus, were unfailingly present in his disposition throughout every moment of each and every day...
Startling him from his reverie, abruptly the plane moved into motion, set for take-off at last. Relief soured through Barry, who grumpily exhaled a dissatisfied sigh nevertheless. 'About time,' he thought longingly to himself, shifting in his seat. Oddly, he actually felt the impatient, restless feeling surmounting him increase as the aircraft steadily proceeded in place on the helipad. He was ready to feel the surreal, weightless thrill of being carried across the clouds already, wanting so badly to feel that irresistible sensation which Barry still enjoyed even following decades of air flight. 'Never gets old...' he thought peacefully, reminiscing on old times. Once the plane finally ascended into take-off, Barry could not escape the boyish smiling which always came upon him as he felt the aircraft fastening up in speed before soaring momentously from the ground.
Rising up with a clear of the throat, Barry was determined to keep his head straight, trying to let at least a mild level of optimism pass through the darkness which disrupted his thoughts. Suddenly he felt tired. 'Heh, I guess I'll just wait and see what happens when the other shoe drops,' he decided to himself, somewhat introspective in thought.
"So Chris, where exactly is Dr. Schmitz's house at?" inquired a very curious Rebecca.
Rebecca, Jill, and Chris were sitting outside in the balcony of their hotel refuge, discreetly discussing pressing matters in quiet voices.
Chris cleared his voice before calmly answering, "About three miles from here."
Appearing almost pleased by this information, Jill nodded along, reassuringly adding, "Not too close, not too far."
Rebecca looked contemplative, pausing for a moment. "Hmm...Yeah, I'm inclined to agree. Keeps us at a safe distance without being too remote from the target location." By the time she finished speaking her words, surprisingly Rebecca actually sounded confident of herself. For the first time since yesterday, when she'd arrived, Rebecca was beginning to feel assured once again of the value that her unique contribution had.
Chris nodded wholeheartedly, very receptive and looking as though relieved that they'd arrived at the same conclusion. "Exactly. And it will definitely help that I've already been inside Schmitz's house once, though I don't think even I would be reckless enough to bet on that kind of luck again..." Chris ended with a chuckle despite the serious nature of his words, even shooting a smirk their way.
Both Jill and Rebecca laughed, earnestly nodding in the midst. Neither, apparently, felt any qualms at the moment about blatantly displaying their agreement with Chris' realistic acknowledgment of certain self-limitations. Messing with him, sarcastically Jill added a bit harshly, "Yeah, glad even you've acquired some common sense after all the Hell that Umbrella's raised, Redfield..." But she was clearly being facetious, and few would know that better than Chris.
Kidding or not, Chris shook his head at her unappreciatively, clearly not too humored by his giggling comrades' playful ragging. Rolling his eyes and smirking their way, he first let the funniness of the abrupt moment pass before he then said more seriously, "I say we wait for Barry to get here before we get down to business."
Jill looked adamantly reassuring, nodding right along. "That's right. We're going to need all the assistance we can get if we plan on somehow succeeding. And needless to say Barry's a formidable asset," she noted prudently, her demeanor instantaneously studious and deeply calculative once again.
Rebecca was looking between Jill and Chris carefully, measuring their demeanors before putting in her own two cents. She didn't want to seem ignorant, impetuous even, in her choice of words. She wanted to sound resonant in her approach, as that was the key to confirming she too was indeed on the same page. Finally she contentedly let out a sigh - not inappropriate at all really at this point in their discussion - and then innocuously asked, "When is Barry arriving, Chris? Did he give you a concrete date when he called earlier, or is he acting specially vigilant about flying under the radar?"
Jill, too, turned to look at Chris, who'd received an extremely brief call from Barry about an hour ago, when unfortunately Rebecca and Jill had still been enjoying a fancy breakfast in the lobby downstairs. Unexpectedly, Chris lit up brightly at this turning point, and some of the color that was usually hidden by his traumatized gaze - that which had scarred him (somewhat) permanently that very first night at the Spencer mansion, when their Umbrella nightmare truly began - restored in his expression, reddening his cheeks. He looked excited to answer them, engagingly saying, "Barry's plane is landing in the capital, Belmopan of course, tonight at nightfall! I wanted to surprise you guys with the only bit of good news we'll probably have for quite a while, hehe..." He, in such a contrast to just moments ago, sounded cheery as in ever in deliverance of this uplifting news.
Jill and Rebecca started laughing instantly, full of excitement and shocked relief. Neither of the two had expected such wonderful news, so used to being prepared for what almost always turned out to be the inevitable 'worst'. By now it was instinct, sadly. Laughing, Jill was first to burst out saying, "That is such awesome news! CHRIS! How could you wait to tell us that?!" She halfheartedly punched Chris on his shoulder, but the sight of him and his infamous half-grin, half-smirk left all three of them succumbing to continuous laughter.
Although yes, Chris and Jill both went WAY farther back with Barry, and were in turn each very close to him, Rebecca wasn't left out of the elation considering she'd always enjoyed his company (as little of it she'd had, admittedly) and highly respected his admirable loyalty to the few S.T.A.R.S. left. If nothing else, this meant one more ally would be readily jumping aboard very soon, and that alone was miraculously worth celebration.
Author's Endnote: Stay tuned! There's about to be some major action coming up in Chapter Four :)!