Okay! Here's the next chapter of "Divide and Conquer"! Thanks again to everyone who's been reading, reviewing, favoriting, and alerting this story! I really appreciate it! :D
P.S.- In the last chapter, I made Alexis's part bold, but I decided to try something different with her in this chapter. Let me know what you think of the way I'm using the fonts for her narration!
DISCLAIMER: Only my OCs, plot ideas, and liberties with the original game are mine. Everything else belongs to Capcom.
All I could see were images, flashing before my eyes as I tried to make sense of where I was and what had happened to me. My body tingled all over, and I could barely detect a pulse or a beating heart.
Was I dead? Had that toxin killed me like it had the other people in the auditorium? How long had I been in this void? And would I ever wake up?
And what about Audrey? Was she all right? So many questions that I feared I would never get the answers to.
Instead, I focused on the fleeting images, which were putting themselves together and showing a very familiar face. A face I hoped I would never have to see again…
"Where do you think you're going?" Albert Wesker asked from behind me after I had failed in my attempt to escape from the Tricell facility in Africa. Fuck! I cursed to myself as I turned to face him. He was staring at me and carrying a syringe in his hand.
"Leaving so soon?" he continued, "But the fun hasn't even started yet."
"And it won't," I assured him, "You have to let me and Jill go."
"Why should I when it's much more fun to play with both of you?" And with that, I felt him stick the needle into my neck.
"Ow!" I whimpered, "Get off of me!" But he stuck the needle further and further into my neck just as I spotted Excella making her way over to us gracefully. I hated her. I hated both of them. I struggled for a little bit before finally stepping away from Wesker and next to Excella.
"This is the same virus I used on your sister when she was injured," he explained, "Don't panic if you feel…off balance in any way. It's normal."
I fumed. "You son of a-"
"Ahh, watch who you're speaking to. You're just as bad as she was. Excella, take her back inside. And increase the security around here. We can't have her or Jill escape again. They won't." And as Excella began leading me back inside, I did feel off-balance, and my head started to kill me, all while Wesker stared in our direction for the whole time.
At the thought of Albert Wesker, my blood boiled, though I knew I couldn't risk letting my body basically barbecue itself. I had told Audrey not to let his memory bother her, and it seemed like I needed to start taking my own advice. I remembered the day Wesker had first infected me like it was yesterday, and how according to him, that hadn't been enough once I had shown signs of resisting it. Now I was really getting mad, and even though I couldn't move, I forced myself to control my anger.
The memories flashed before me, dragging me down as I had no choice but to remember the past, and remember what had brought me to this very moment in the first place.
"Wesker?" I asked as he finished pouring water on the burn and now rubbed some burn cream on me, "Is Audrey here? In Africa?"
For a minute, Wesker looked up and met my curious expression. "What would make you assume that?" he asked quietly. I sighed and tilted my head back.
"I heard her voice earlier," I explained, "Just outside the mines. I have to know." I cringed again as Wesker pressed down on the burn once more. It didn't hurt as much, but it was tender.
"You're lucky," Wesker told me as he continued to heal the burns and conveniently avoided my question, "Anymore from that beam and you would have had a worse burn than this. This is only the second degree." I sighed and leaned back in the chair.
"You didn't answer my question," I reminded him, clutching my shoulder. He simply moved my hand out of the way so that he could cover the blistering burn with a long gauze bandage.
"Impatient, are we?" he replied, "Just let me heal you before…"
"Before I run some…tests on you. Excella said you were influencing Jill. And I cannot allow that."
"You answer my question first!" I snapped, despite the sudden pounding headache and the burn throbbing through the gauze bandages, "Where's my sister?"
Wesker rounded on me as I picked myself up from the chair I was sitting in. "No more questions," was all he said, "You have already placed me behind schedule." I rolled my eyes as I felt him inject something else into my neck. Probably a sedative, I thought.
"You don't care about your sister," he told me in a reassuring voice, "And you won't after this." I felt him lead me into another testing room, where a capsule similar to Jill's cryostasis greeted us. Remembering how claustrophobic I was, I instantly began to resist.
"No!" I cried, "What are you going to do to me? Where's Audrey?"
"It seems the virus was not enough for you," Wesker explained, shoving me inside the capsule, "You were able to resist, but you won't get out of this one." He hooked my arms and legs to the machine itself, and my heart beat furiously.
"You know something, don't you?" I asked, "Where is she?"
But Wesker finally finished hooking me up to the capsule, and the last thing I remembered before feeling everything turn to liquid around me and fade to black was Wesker, with his sunglasses covering his eyes, smiling and waving at me.
The thought of him infecting me for the sole purpose of turning me against my own sister was enough to make me fight back against him, but at a price: I was now stuck with the first virus and Progenitor in my system.
I wanted to turn away from these memories, to stop recalling all the horrible experiments Jill and I had been put through at that facility, but one more instance where Wesker had tried to infect me crept up out of nowhere and dragged me down yet again…
"Excella!" I cried, running over to the Tricell CEO and trying to help her up after she had gotten sick from drinking a glass of champagne, "Are you okay?"
She ignored me and stared up at Wesker in confusion. "A-Albert," she choked, "What did you put in that drink? What the hell did you do to me?"
Wordlessly, Wesker extracted an empty syringe from his pocket, and I could have sworn I saw "Aheri" scribbled on the side. My mind frantically made the connection as I stared from the syringe, to my still full glass of champagne, and finally to a writhing Excella. "No, you didn't!" I gasped.
"This one I like to call…Uroboros Aheri," Wesker explained to us, "We'll see how it reacts to Excella."
"No!" she cried, "I can't believe you did this to me! This wasn't intended for me!"
"Oh, you'll feel differently in due time. Out you go." And with that, he shoved her out of the room and locked the door behind her, where her furious protests and agonizing cries of pain reached our ears. Wesker ignored her and then faced me next.
"I was never going to include her in my plans," he explained to me while I just stared at him with a shell-shocked expression, "This is my world to change! No one else's!" From his pocket, he pulled out another syringe that had "Aheri" labeled on it from what I could see. Oh, shit, I thought to myself.
Slowly approaching me with the needle out, Wesker simply said, "You're next. Just hold still, and this won't hurt a bit." At the sight of the needle, I began to vigorously shake my head and I backed up. After what he had done to Excella, no way was I allowing him anywhere near me with that needle.
"No thanks, Mad Scientist," I mumbled under my breath. But he continued to move forward towards me to try and give me Uroboros.
"Don't you want to be blessed by a gift from a god? Just hold still."
"I said no!"
While the viruses hadn't really affected me other than to try and force me to kill Audrey, I wasn't sure what would happen this time around, especially with this new toxin in me. Looking back on the last time I had seen Wesker before his death in the volcano, I realized that with Progenitor, I might have been able to accept Uroboros without mutating, unlike Excella, but I didn't want to take my chances. And I wouldn't take my chances with this new substance now.
As I tried to open my eyes, I remembered the tragedy in Edonia, and the pained look on Finn's face as his whole body had burst into flames. He had been such a nice person and it was sad to see him go like that. All of them, really. I thought back to that moment and the fever I had experienced earlier, recalling how I felt like I was going to combust any second, and I wondered if what had spread through the auditorium was the same virus from Edonia.
With that, I finally managed to pry my eyes open, blinking as I regained my vision. I was still sweating profusely, but I no longer felt the fire under my skin, and I finally managed to detect a faint pulsing in my wrist. Instead, a bitter, cold sensation replaced the heat, leaving me to shiver, and since I had taken off my jacket, I put it back on instead. The black and white checkered tile floor I had been resting on was a welcome relief, that was for sure.
"Thank God you're awake," a weak voice suddenly spoke up, making me jump and whirl around to face the corner of the room, inducing a debilitating headache in the process.
I could barely make out the click clacking of high heels as a young woman stepped out of the shadows. If my sense of hearing had strengthened before, it seemed to have gone back to normal now. I took in the owner of the voice, recognizing the red T-shirt, light brown hair, and blue eyes.
"I didn't know if you were still human or not," Liz continued, cautiously approaching me, "But you seem to be okay. I found you a couple of rooms away and brought you here, where it's safe for now." Right after she said that, she coughed, nearly hacking her lungs out, which made me realize she might have been infected as well. Her skin had the same slight blue tinge that Aaron and Jenny's had.
"Sorry," she apologized, "I think I might have breathed in some of that fog from before, but it wasn't that much."
"It's okay," I replied, my voice cracking as I spoke for the first time, "You're still alive, and that's all that matters. Thanks for helping me out, too." I wiped my hand on my stained dress and held it out to her.
"I'm Alexis, by the way."
"Liz," Liz retorted, shaking my hand, "It's nice to meet you, Alexis."
I smiled, and the two of us began heading towards the door so that we could try and find a way to escape. My vision was still a little fuzzy, and my head throbbed on and off. Pins and needles ran throughout my limbs, making movement a little awkward as well, and the two of us eventually leaned on each other for support.
"So are you here with anyone else?" Liz asked.
"No," I answered in a raspy voice, shaking my head, "My sister was supposed to come with me, but she had to leave for Europe at the last minute, thank God. What about you?"
Liz sighed, coughing a little more in the process. "I was here with my family, but I got separated from them in the chaos. I know my dad is still here, but I haven't seen my mom or my brother yet. Or if they're even still…you know…"
"I'm sure they're all okay. We'll find them in no time." This time, I was the one that coughed, spitting up the remnants of blue toxin in my stomach.
"Easy," Liz coaxed me, rubbing my shoulder, "I guess you got it bad just like I did."
I just shrugged. "There was something…something running around the auditorium," I explained, "Something that wasn't human. I don't know exactly what it was, but-"
Clank! Suddenly, we both heard something clatter to the ground in the distance, making us jump and stop where we were. "What was that?" Liz whispered in a fearful tone.
I didn't say anything in response, only keeping my ears open for anymore suspicious sounds. The university campus must have been overrun by now, and the last thing we needed was for a bunch of zombies to find us and kill us.
We continued to move as quickly as possible, covering a lot of ground pretty fast. We also tried to remain quiet so as not to attract the zombies, but it was tough when we were both coughing our lungs out and expelling more of the virus. Liz already looked worse for the wear, and I was worried she wouldn't make it after all. If she was getting delirious from inhaling just a little bit, then what was going to happen to me?
"Just hang in there, Liz," I said to the woman next to me, "We'll find someone soon."
To my surprise, Liz just chuckled darkly. "Trust me," she responded, "I'm the last one you should be worrying about. You don't look so good yourself."
As soon as she said that, I felt the pins and needles sensation return, almost like a rude reminder that I was in just as much danger as she was. Thanks for that, I thought, continuing to head towards the door up ahead. Liz moved slightly in front of me, since she knew this campus much better than I did.
Working together, we pried open a door up ahead, my arms feeling like dead weight when I tried to use the muscles in them, and I hoped the feeling wouldn't last forever. Once we poked our heads into the next room and decided there wasn't any danger, we crept forward…only to have another door burst open to the right.
Liz immediately stopped, causing me to stumble into her as she halted right in front of a piano, a bright light appearing out of nowhere and blinding both of us. Damn it! I thought, looking away and covering my eyes. This was almost as bad as staring straight at the sun. Not that I had ever done that, but I figured my eyes were still sensitive from the infection.
"Liz!" a voice cried out, and Liz collapsed to the ground just as someone rushed over to her and hugged her. Thankfully, whoever it was had turned the light away from us, allowing me to get a good look at who else was here.
"D-dad?" Liz croaked, "Where are Mom and Liam?"
"They already got out," her father explained to her, "They're waiting for us at home. I'm just glad you're okay." He hugged her again and helped her to stand up, letting her lean on him for support.
So the rest of her family hadn't been infected! Thank God. At least now she'd be able to escape with her dad.
"Leon," an unfamiliar female voice whispered, "I think someone else is here."
Suddenly, the blinding light was back, and I stumbled backwards as I fled to a dark corner of the room. Oh, no. Leon was here?
"Alexis?" Leon called out, "Is that you?"
I took deep breaths to calm myself down, thinking about how he was still alive and seemed to have escaped the fog. Now that I wasn't burning up anymore, I had the clarity to realize that it was his voice I had heard earlier, before the President…well, before he was shot. The hell? I thought, Why did Leon shoot President Benford? Was he infected, too?
"You two go ahead," Leon said to Liz and her father, "We'll meet you in the hallway. I'm gonna see if I can get Alexis to show herself." He put the flashlight away and began making his way towards me while I attempted to move out of his line of sight.
"We'll never get to the cathedral at this rate," I thought I heard the woman mutter under her breath, but I ignored it for now. Leon was getting closer, and there was nowhere else I could go and hide.
"Alexis, wait!" he shouted, grabbing my shoulder. I whirled around and shoved his hand away from me, backing up as I held my hands out in front of me.
"Stay back!" I warned, hoping my voice sounded stern enough, "I'm infected!"
"What are you talking about?" Leon asked, "You still sound human!"
"I mean it! I don't wanna pass this on to you or your partner."
"Leon," the woman piped up from the entrance to the room.
But Leon refused to leave. "If we can help Liz and her father, we can help Alexis, too."
"Are you sure we can even trust her?"
"No. But we're going to have to take our chances." He turned to me and held out a hand.
"Just come with us," he said, "And if you are infected, we'll see what we can do to try and help you."
I really wasn't sure about this. What if I lost control and finally turned into a zombie like everyone else had? The incubation period for this virus didn't appear to be too long. Maybe it depended on how much one ended up inhaling. Maybe since I had been inundated with it, it would take longer to completely settle itself in my body, if it hadn't already. Maybe I still had a chance to survive. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
"All right," I decided, stepping out of the shadows to finally look Leon in the eye, hoping and praying I could live through this. The agent just nodded, taking me by the arm and leading me towards the door where the other woman was waiting.
"Alexis, this is Secret Service Agent Helena Harper," he said, gesturing to the agent as we returned to the hallway, "And Helena, this is Alexis Fagan. Her sister was…on a mission with me back in Spain."
As Helena Harper and I quickly shook hands, I took in her appearance. Now that I was meeting her face to face, I realized there was something familiar about her from earlier tonight.
"You're the one that bumped into me outside the auditorium!" I realized.
Helena pulled her hand away from me and continued to lead the way as we caught up with Liz and her father. "Sorry," she apologized, "But I was in a hurry. Just like we should probably pick up the pace now. Who knows how much time we have left?" I could almost hear the unspoken You've slowed us down in her tone of voice, which made me frown. The further we traveled, the more I wondered if Helena was going to end up being my version of Piers. Just like the sniper didn't care for Audrey, it seemed the Secret Service agent wasn't too fond of me, either.
Up ahead, Liz coughed again, her voice going raw as she nearly collapsed. Her father quickly helped her to stand up again, and he glanced over his shoulder as he said, "There's an elevator just up ahead. It should work, and we can leave through the underground parking garage."
"Sounds like a plan," Leon replied, "Come on, let's get this junk out of the way." He and Helena moved forward to push a few broken poles to the side, and Liz and her father ducked down so that they could pass through. I followed suit, and Leon and Helena let go of the debris, hurrying us along. While we called the elevator, I thought back to the moment when Helena had mentioned something about a cathedral. I knew the Tall Oaks Cathedral was just outside the city, but why did we need to get there so badly? Why was she always acting like she was in a hurry to go somewhere?
After Liz's father swiped his keycard in a slot next to the elevator a few minutes later, the doors opened, allowing all of us to climb in and descend to the underground parking garages.
"So, Alexis," Leon piped up, "Why didn't you come find me as soon as you made it into the building?"
I looked down at my hands, which still felt like I had pins and needles in them, and shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I figured I'd just wait until afterwards. I didn't know if you were with the President or not and I didn't want to disturb anything."
As soon as I mentioned the President, Leon and Helena exchanged a glance, but before anybody could comment any further, Liz collapsed to the ground as she began coughing violently again. Her father quickly knelt down next to her and placed his hand on her shoulder. Oh, no, I thought, feeling a coughing fit start to build up myself, Hang in there, Liz. You can make it!
"It's going to be okay, Lizzie," Liz's father whispered to her, "You're going to be okay. We're almost there."
"Please, Liz," I pleaded, "You made it this far, and you saved my life back there."
But the more Liz hacked her lungs up and gained a lethargic expression in her eyes, the more her situation began to feel hopeless. "D-dad," she choked, holding his gaze before the virus finally forced her to pass on. I just sighed and clenched my fist, looking away as her father began to cry, holding his daughter in his hands as he began coughing as well. Leon and Helena glanced down at the floor, their faces showing sadness as well, but before any of us could say anything to comfort Liz's father, the elevator suddenly jolted and caused the overhead lights to flicker and then burn out for good.
"The power!" Helena gasped, and as soon as I realized we were stuck here for the time being, I began to panic. Even though small spaces had ended up saving my life in Africa, I was still a little claustrophobic and I hated the thought of being stuck in an elevator. Even worse was that now that Liz was dead, I knew what was about to happen, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
"Guys, be careful," I warned in a low voice as Leon and Helena took out some flashlights and turned them on. A horrible crunching noise reached our ears, and though I had an idea of what was happening, I still didn't want to hear it or see it.
"Oh my God!" the Secret Service agent cried as she shined her light on a horrifying sight: Liz crouching over her father and biting his neck. She snarled and growled, letting go of him before looking up at us, her skin pale and her eyes now a pale green.
"YAHHH!" she yelled, leaping up and grabbing Leon by the shoulders. Shit! I thought.
"She's already gone!" Leon yelled, "Shoot her!" He continued to hold her off while Helena fumbled for her pistol and took aim, firing a few rounds that hit Liz in the shoulder. She backed away from him and barreled towards me next, reaching for my arms, but I ducked out of the way before she could inflict anymore damage on me.
Liz reached for Helena instead, throwing her to the ground and causing Leon to take aim this time until I was able to move in and hold her down. Helena crouched down on the other side and shot her point blank in the head, putting her out of her misery once and for all.
"Helena?" I asked, "You okay?"
Helena stood back up and wiped some blood off her shirt. "I'm fine," she whispered, "I…I just can't believe this…"
"Well, get used to it," Leon told her, "It's either them or us, and they don't hesitate."
"Well, if I ever end up like that," I began, but Leon cut me off.
"You won't," he insisted, "You're going to be okay. All right?"
I forced myself to nod, and we just waited in silence for the elevator to eventually make it to its destination. "Why did this have to happen?" Helena whispered to herself, though we didn't have an answer for her.
A little bit of a breeze seeped in through the elevator door, and I realized we were at the underground parking garage at last. Only problem was…
"I don't think we're alone in here," Helena commented.
"I don't think so, either," Leon agreed, "Helena, grab your gun."
While the two of them aimed their guns at the door, I glanced down at my hands, realizing I had virtually nothing, and I figured these two expected me to be able to take care of myself. I was going to have to somehow get my hands on a weapon, too, if I wanted to increase my chances of survival, which were already looking pretty low. But would I be able to take aim if I needed to? Even though I had had a gun in Edonia, I had resorted more to using melee against the J'avo. If Audrey was here right now, she'd be able to help me.
Well, get over that, I told myself fiercely, Audrey ISN'T here, thank God, and you can't rely on her for everything. You held your own in Africa, and you can do it again.
"Shit!" Leon cursed, and he and Helena began to open fire on a group of zombies trying to enter the elevator. The ones that the others didn't shoot, I moved forward to perform melee on them. What I didn't count on was my arm feeling like lead when I went to throw in a punch. Ugh, I thought, my arm swinging like it was being completely weighed down, just like Liz's had when she tried to backhand Leon.
Out in the garage, a bunch of car alarms began to ring until it sounded like all the cars were sounding off, making my ears and head hurt. I raised a hand to my forehead and sprinted out of the elevator, swinging my heavy arms at whoever got in my way and being careful not to tire myself out too quickly. One of them swung an axe at me, but eventually collapsed after Helena shot him in the back. Once he was defeated, I reached down and picked up the axe, figuring it was better than nothing for now. It was a lot heavier than I thought it would be, though. If only my arms didn't feel so dead…
The gate leading to the exit was still shut, blocking our way, along with a brand new horde of zombies. "That's our cue to get the hell out of here," Leon announced.
"I couldn't agree more," Helena said, and we pushed our way through a side door in time to catch a few people crying for help on a monitor. They held up sign reading "HELP", hoping that someone, anyone, would be able to somehow help them.
"Oh, no," I mumbled under my breath just as we spotted a few zombies dragging their feet, approaching the unsuspecting survivors from behind. Just like when Chris, Piers, Audrey, and I couldn't help the BSAA agents Ada had infected in Edonia, the three of us had no way of warning these two men now.
Sure enough, the zombies ended up overwhelming the two men, grabbing them as the screen went static and then faded to black. "Let's go!" Leon cried, reaching for his pistol.
"Leon, it's too late!" Helena piped up, looking remorseful, "There's nothing we can do."
I glanced between the two of them, watching Helena's increasingly frantic expression and Leon's conflicted one, and I remembered Audrey mentioning how the agent always had a penchant for trying to save everyone, even her. That hadn't changed, it seemed. I still felt bad about those other two survivors, though. This was like a repeat of Edonia all over again. Edonia, I thought sadly.
"You're right," Leon eventually sighed, "Let's get the hell out of here."
It was eerie thinking about how quiet all the hallways were now when they had been jam packed with people earlier. There was dried blood on the walls, broken windows, overturned chairs, and abandoned papers littering the floors…along with more zombies.
"Liz's father said something about a fog before," Leon piped up as we entered a large lecture hall, "If this thing spread in gas form, then everyone who breathed it in got infected. Is that what you saw earlier, Alexis?" He faced me as Helena did the same.
I took a deep breath, feeling a slight burning in my chest from the virus. "Yeah," I confirmed, "That's what I saw. It was a dense, blue fog, and I was completely covered with it. So was everyone else in the auditorium. Almost everyone became infected by this weird-looking monster that was spreading the gas." Out of habit, I put my tongue on the roof of my mouth, which was still blue from when the BOW had bestowed its kiss of death on me.
"If that's true," Helena said, "Then everyone on campus must be infected. Didn't Hunnigan say it's already spread about three miles past the campus now?"
"Yeah," Leon replied, "We should keep moving so that we can get out of here, though. And get to Tall Oaks Cathedral." Helena nodded at him and ran ahead of us.
"Why do we need to go to the cathedral?" I asked, catching up to the Secret Service Agent as I remembered the comment she had made about it earlier.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Helena replied, "I need to show Leon something, and we're already falling behind. Now follow me!" She pushed a door open up ahead, raising her gun to take care of a few more zombies trying to ambush us.
While she and Leon did that, I just shook my head. The more I spoke with Helena Harper, the more I disliked her. Although Piers had acted standoffish as well when Audrey and I first met him, at least he had a valid reason for doing so. Helena, on the other hand, didn't know me at all, and again, I was getting the feeling that I was one of the reasons she and Leon had fallen behind. I was sure she cared about the fact that everyone was dying around her, but she definitely had an interesting way of showing it. I wasn't going to call her out on it, though. Whatever she needed to show us at the cathedral must have been really important for her to be acting this way.
Still, I hoped she wasn't going to be like this the entire time, and with that, I set off after the others with a sigh.