Prototype does not belong to me, unfortunately. That honor goes to Activision and all those other lovely logos that pop up on screen.
Lieutenant John Rogers really hated this job. It wasn't so much the gruesome pustules of biomass clinging to every conceivable surface, the rotted stench of flesh and decay, or even the mutated Infected throwing themselves at his men like a haphazard, deadly battering ram. It wasn't even those Blackwatch lunatics descending on the crippled island of Manhattan like a flock of damn vultures, bringing with them high-level clearance and gizmos and gadgets and intelligence wrapped up in so much red tap he was surprised no one had tripped over it all, although the lot of them could probably do with a good old-fashioned punch to the face.
He might not be a scientist living it up in some fancy-shmancy lab with needles and tools with names he couldn't ever hope to pronounce, but even he knew that messing with bioweapons and then letting them escape was a Bad Idea. He couldn't claim to understand the reasoning behind it, or even how it worked. All he knew was someone, somehow, had let a virus loose in Penn Station and that virus was not content to simply stay in the air where it belonged.
No, it had to mutate people into… into these; Hunters and Walkers and citizens with barely enough brain power left to stumble in a relatively straight line towards them like zombies. It clung to walls, it dug tendrils into the subway system beneath their feet, ready to erupt into a spiked tentacle of death that the Blackwatch men insisted on naming Hydras, although all Rogers cared about was getting the hell away from them the moment they shot up from the pavement.
The first few weeks had been the worst, back when the Infected were organized. He'd lost count of how many good men had died in that first initial wave, before they'd known exactly what it was they were dealing with. When the brass had told them they had an outbreak of a lethal virus to contain, the very last thing on his mind had been walking monsters straight out of a horror film. Blackwatch had been stingy and protective of what little they knew about it, although from what he could gather, they'd called the Outbreak Redlight and it had something to do with Gentek.
But none of that made him hate his job. He was a soldier, and he was used to waking up every morning wondering if today was the day his luck would run out and he'd be dragged off to a Hive or torn apart on the battlefield. He could really sum up the entirety of his desperation and growing unease in two words.
Codename: ZEUS, Mercer was an unknown variable in a warzone Rogers knew almost nothing about. And that made him dangerous. At first, it had only been rumors among the men, whispers of a man who could run up the side of buildings and throw taxis at helicopters, tearing apart the Hunters as if they were paper and vanishing as quickly as he'd come. Lieutenant Rogers had passed it off as absolutely ridiculous, a fantasy concocted by one of the soldiers under his command, or maybe an idea planted there by one of those Blackwatch loons.
And then everything had gone to hell in a hand basket.
It was routine, as much as shelling out artillery into a corrupted Hive until it crumbled could be considered routine; he'd had the tanks all set up, an air strike was en route, and his men were actually holding their own for once. An explosion cracked over the sound of mortar and flame and one of his tanks flew over his head and slammed into the side of the Hive, the snap of rocks breaking and the unholy squelching of the biomass on the walls the only sound as everyone paused to stare.
Lieutenant John Rogers had seen a lot of crazy things in his lifetime. Flying tanks, though… nothing he knew of could have done that short of an act of God Himself. And just as suddenly as the silence had fallen, it was broken by the howling of a Hunter and there was no time to wonder at exploding machinery or the fact that the radio chatter had become frantic and panicked and where was that damn air support?
It only took him a moment to realize the Hunters were no longer focusing on his marines. They had broken off to charge up a nearby building in an unnerving display of synchronization, and then suddenly they were just dead. He'd seen a blur of motion, of dark grey and impossible crimson, and the Hunters had been severed neatly in two, the pieces falling back to earth with anticlimactic thumps.
It took his marines three full clips to bring down a single Hunter. Something on that roof had just taken out four of them. At once.
He didn't have time to consider that before the blur leapt from the building, a full ten stories if not more, and impacted the ground like a sledgehammer, knocking aside man and beast alike until nothing was left but a crater in the asphalt. Someone in his squad yelled out a warning that sounded like "ZEUS has made contact!" before every marine in the unit turned and unloaded everything they had at the figure kneeling in its impact site.
Lieutenant Rogers had just enough time to snap at his men to quit shooting at empty space and eliminate that Hive, damn it before the following command died in his throat. That figure in the crater, the one that had just torn apart a group of Hunters and then fallen ten stories with enough force to crack the pavement, was standing amidst the smoke and carnage, body jerking as the bullets hit it but otherwise remaining motionless. Its entire left arm was nothing but a massive blade, spiked with black and dripping crimson, but it was human. There was no mistaking that humanoid figure, or the grey hoodie and black jacket.
Between one breath and the next, the thing had leapt clear of the crater and bore one of the soldiers to the asphalt, ripping him in half with that massive blade and turning before either piece had even hit the ground. What followed was not a fight.
It was slaughter.
Gunfire turned to screams and incoherent pleas as the… thing tore them all apart without uttering a single sound, inhuman in its silence. Rogers unloaded his own assault rifle into the creature's back, doing nothing but earning him an irritated flick of that huge bladed arm and a cursory glance in his direction. Electric blue eyes locked on his for a single heartbeat, and then it was suddenly right there. Faster than the eye could follow, a mere suggestion of a blur, the creature had cleared the distance between them and a lance of white-hot agony shot through his abdomen.
Rogers choked and coughed up blood as he looked down at the huge blade speared through his midsection and erupting out his back. He met the creature's inhuman blue eyes again and pushed vainly against the arm that had run him through. There was no human emotion in those eyes. No compassion, no regret, no pity. Only satisfaction. A primal hunger that had no place on a human face. He was staring into the eyes of a predator.
Idly he realized the field had fallen silent as he coughed and tried to breathe through the blood threatening to drown him, and barely felt the creature's other arm go around his shoulders in a mocking semblance of an embrace. He felt fingers crawling across his skin, blurred vision recognizing the black and crimson tendrils unique to the Infected as they spread across his frame.
He could feel them inside, spreading from the blade he was impaled upon, and he couldn't make his throat voice the yell he was screaming in his own mind. Those ice blue eyes never left his, never wavered, as Rogers shuddered and struggled for a single breath.
The creature—ZEUS, Alex Mercer—pulled him impossibly closer and he could see nothing but those eyes, even when the tendrils spread across his face and suffocated him. For an instant, he could hear a thousand voices, whispering in a single discordant chord of sound, before the world collapsed in on itself and he heard only silence.
He had felt something, once, when he'd consumed his first Blackwatch soldier. Horror, revulsion, disgust… until his body had shuddered in relief and cried out for more, and he'd found himself leaping at the next man he saw and tearing him apart like the animal he was. It had felt so good, soothing an ache he hadn't known was there, and nothing existed except for hunger, fight, consume. And then he'd crumpled to the ground, holding his head in agony as someone took an ice pick to the back of his brain, and memories not his own flooded him.
He could still hear them, sometimes, when it was quiet. Whispers, echoes of a thousand lives he'd never lived but could recall in acute detail. Sometimes, when he's in the midst of battle, blades and claws rending flesh and muscle, he forgets whether the screams come from his head or his prey.
It doesn't bother him that much anymore. It is what he is. What he was made for. He could no more deny his instinct's drive to hunt and feed than any human man could deny the urge to breathe.
He reveled in the chase, the exhilaration of tracking his prey and seeing that final spark of hope die in their eyes once they realize they've been caught. The knowledge that he was the apex predator, that nothing could stand before him and still draw breath… it was addicting. He was willing to admit he took a sadistic sort of satisfaction in consuming humans that he simply lacked while hunting Infected. It was different somehow; more thrilling, more fulfilling when his prey has the capability to fight back, to struggle, to weep, to beg, to claw at his face and kick at him as he drains them of everything that makes them human.
He chooses to call himself Alex Mercer, because that is the face he most often wears and the first body he'd consumed.
Alex Mercer had been a terrorist. A monster.
Now he was a monster in every sense of the word.
An Outbreak of Redlight had condemned Manhattan to a slow, corrupted death. A virus wearing human skin had saved it. As far as Blackwatch and the military were concerned, the entire epidemic was his fault.
And it was. In a way.
It had been Alex Mercer, the original Alex Mercer, who'd unleashed the strain in Penn Station, killing hundreds, if not thousands, in mere minutes, and countless others over the next eighteen days. He carried no guilt for the act, no shame, but he remembered having done it, and that was enough. It had been Alex Mercer who signed New York's death warrant, a final spit in the eye before he was shot down and Blacklight—ZEUS—rose to take his place.
When he'd first woken in the morgue and received his first hint towards what had happened, he had planned his revenge. He would make Blackwatch and Gentek pay for what they'd done to him—to Alex, even if he had to raze the city around him to do so. As he consumed more and more agents and doctors and learned more about his situation, the need for revenge tapered away into something vaguely disquieted. He still wanted to slaughter them and paint the walls with their blood, but it was more a general desire for death rather than a lust for vengeance. Revenge was a human concept, and it had become rapidly apparent that human he was not. A virus does not feel. It does not think. It does not plan. It simply is. Actions and reactions. Instinct.
He struck back because they'd struck first, rage accumulated from a plethora of consumed marines and soldiers roiling at the injustice at it all, burning just beneath his skin. He carved a swath of devastation and gore through their ranks, sundering buildings and tearing down bases and Hives as he crossed them.
He isn't sure why he risked his own life to detonate the nuclear bomb away from Manhattan, where it would do the least damage. He isn't sure what drove him to put the safety of others before himself. He could have survived the blast, even if the rest of the island was reduced to glass as a result. His continued existence was proof of that. Perhaps it was because Dana was on that island. The only tangible link to humanity he still had.
Perhaps he was more human than he'd thought.
But he was a virus. It was in his blood—so to speak—to adapt, to change, to evolve, and if becoming more human was how he could do so, then so be it.
Alex lifted his head and stared out at the ever-present blockade quarantining the island. Blackwatch could never hold him if he really put his mind to escaping, but he had no desire to do so. He had everything he needed here in Manhattan: prey, places to hide and run and hunt, a home he could return to should he feel the need.
Alex shifted bright blue eyes in the direction of Ragland's makeshift morgue. He checked on her whenever he found himself in the area, still unsure why he bothered. She was never any different, still comatose and pale. Greene's cryptic warning still unnerved him, as much as it was possible for him to be unnerved. She is with us now. Dana wasn't Infected. He'd made sure to check before he'd brought her to Ragland.
He didn't care much what happened to the city or the people in it, so long as there were still enough for him to live off of without having to force his way into military bases to do so, but some part of him felt that he should. He should care, and it was enough to make him stay. Blackwatch had made him to be a bioweapon, a thing to be used and discarded. But he was more than that. He was Blacklight. DX-1118 C. ZEUS. Alex Mercer. Elizabeth Greene. John Rogers. He was everyone and everything he had ever touched.
Slightly less than human, but also so much more.
A/N: I just got Prototype a few days ago and I loved it. I immediately pranced over to the fanfic section over yonder and consumed (heh) my fair share of stories. I thought it might be fun to give it a shot! If you've read anything else of mine, you know things like "plot" and "continuity" don't mean snit giggles to me, so I don't honestly know where this will go (if anywhere). But! I just loved Alex as a character, and who wouldn't jump at the chance to give writing him a shot?