Chapter 1: For Her

AN: Everytime I look at my first fic, this fic, it makes me want to cut my fingers for typing this, and slit my throat. Or hung my head with shame and embarrassment, and all those nasty feelings.

You wanna read this piece of crap shit? Fine by me. I don't know what I was drinking when I wrote this but I remembered this one evening, oh this will be great, gonna be goooood! - Hipster Brain.

Never listen to hipster brain. Hipster brain is dumb and stupid and knows nothing.

Note, chapter one to chapter six(four, now. Deleted chapters after four, because I feel it could have gone better, the characters, the plot... everything). So the chapters are still un-beta'd. So if you're going to read, you have to swallow down my awful errors. Urk, you also have to swallow my paragraphs... I really need to fix the format of my writing.

The beta version is coming, just need to clear up some stuffs in it with the editor... when I can stomach my vomit of my first work.

For Her.

I am the virus.

For once, he felt the weight of the world heavy on his shoulder. It was like all the effort, the energy spent had finally caught onto him. Eighteen days of never-ending objectives, of running around, searching, always escaping, fighting through the infected and pummeling over any obstacle that barred him. He was hunting for answers and non-stopping he was. He got what he wanted but he didn't like it.

The man crinkled his nose at the thought of it as he walks slowly on the deserted path. Glancing across the miles of water, Manhattan glow a foreboding red color. His work is almost done. The infected headless and Blackwatch, a shadowy military of black operations, leaderless. A breath escaped beneath the brown hood. It obscured his face into dark shadows, hiding the sick-like paleness of his feature and the gaunt circles of his eyes. Though those eyes of his remained steely hard, inhumanly cold, and had a hunter's depth in them but there was a flicker of remorse running through it as he thought about the events that happened to him.

He felt tired, he felt light-headed, heck he felt like his body was unhealthily thin even when his form showed only a fit-looking man, a haggard fit-looking man. But that should be expected after all, he only just had a raven to recover from a nuclear explosion. Not only that, he fought the Supreme Hunter before. A monster existed to only hunt, kill, and consume him. And it was designed to combat the Blacklight virus in every way. It was the Specialist, he snorted at that thought, remembering one particular Blackwatch officer.

He lost a lot of his biomass in fighting that creature. It left him with measly amount and by right, when the nuclear explosion hit him, he should have disintegrated. He should have stayed dead. Yet here he was and he felt drained, not victorious. He felt wonder, not at the chances of him still alive, but at what the future would hold for him. But one thing that felt so heavy and was contributing to the weight he carried was remorse.

As he gazed at the city he could hear the sound of thousands screaming… in his head. All he consumed, all that he hunted. Some were just bystanders who were simply getting away, some fought against him, some deserved to get what they shouldn't have challenged, but all, all shared one common thing. Terror and for that he was a terrorist. All thought he was a monster, and monster he is. Killer, they deemed, and a killer too he is. That was fine because that's what he is. That's what he's made for. That's what a virus is. That's what he does.

Frankly, he's a sentient virus, an embodiment of a living plaque. What he is isn't made of muscles, tissues or organs. He was just a lump of flesh, biomass that was shaped to look human, because it was a human he first consumed. It was a man's genetic he first recorded into him. Blacklight is a retrovirus designed to rewrite the DNA structure, excessively 'til there was nothing left of what's before. He was something less human, well actually he's not human at all. He may have helix-structured DNA, genes and cells, not particularly a homo sapiens', but that's when the similarity ends. He was just wearing the clothes, the shape, a structure of one but inside, physically, was a whole new different thing. For that, he was something more than just human. His name is Alex Mercer, and his work is almost done.

Alex walked into the street infested with screaming citizens and the swarming numbers of infected. Blur of colors as the infected chase after their victims. Brief pressures from pedestrians rushing past him could be felt when they blindly brushed by. All of them though, ignored the still form watching them with silvery blue eyes. He frowned deeply, probably disapprovingly and sometime in wondering at the living citizens still here, in the infected zone. No sane mind should be here, and they should have evacuated from the area. They had more than two weeks to do it and yet there are still idiots who think they can waltz around without bearing consequences.

A heavy whack slapped the back of his jacket, breaking the chains of his thoughts. He crinkled his brow. His senses indicating it was an infected, a stupid daring one. It smacked him again and he gritted his teeth with a deep growl escaping from his throat. Can't someone just stand here on the street for a few second? Oh wait, this was the infected zone, of course not. With that in mind and his sight warning others noticing him, Alex immediately snapped his hand around where his attacker throat is, easily lifting it up like it was feather without even turning to look at it. It was time to recover some of his biomass.

He smiled as his inner hunter sighed happily at being release. What happens next was a slaughter house of gory galore. If one watched him from the distant, they would've seen a man whose icy silvery eyes crinkling in amusement, perhaps the twinge of a smirk twitching the corner of his lip. A living figment of insane imagination was the appropriate description. He was mowing down the numbers of mindless zombies with ease, punching holes into his victims, kicking them through their head, even sliding across spattered red mush that once was a whole body he'd simply dived on… using the heels of his shoes. What was even worse was for every fatal wound he strikes, black tendrils came seeking out of him and stabbing into the openings. From there his victim's body would just crumble into black-red swirl that he simply absorbed, the tendrils reeling it all in.

It made him look like a monster of swirling black tendrils, ever shifting as flesh and blood covered him. Any sane mind around him knew not to go near this tentacle-swirling eldritch monster, especially when this monster was the terrorist that news and media had warned. Once he felt the comfortable weight of dense biomass packed in him, he simply jumped from the crowds of the infection, fifty foot high and towards the buildings at the side. He launched against the vertical wall and simply sprinted up easefully with gravity-defying manner. Reaching the top, he jumped over the edge and with agile precisions, he landed a short meter in with a heavy thump on the concrete floor.

The exhilaration of the hunt, the euphoric release of having the virus ripping through his victim as he consumed, and the adrenaline of the excitement rushed through him. He was a hunter that hunts not for hunger, but for the sake of the hunt. In fact he doesn't hunger, but he does have the urge to consume, because consuming was infecting and a virus nature is to infect, so it was natural to have this instinctive desire. What's close to real hunger is the urgent need to replenish his mass instantly. He could have let his metabolism kicked in since he still had a huge amount of genetic materials that would last more than a life time, but why do that when there are easy to grab snacks? Not like he could taste his snack, which was why Alex preferred the infected. No memories, no sentient feelings to taste. Alex stood there, enjoying the feeling before the serious matter of the infected came to his thought.

His work needed to be done. He needs to rid the city of the infected. He can't risk having the Redlight virus evolving a random citizen into a host leader. There was a chance that it might. He already rid Elizabeth Greene, aka MOTHER, and he was not going to take chance of letting Redlight wrecking his weeks of work of tearing down the infected. Turning his back from the centre of the infected zone, he launched over the buildings, jumping across street-wide gaps with blurring speed. He was heading towards the centre of Manhattan where it would be easy to contact all the infected through the hive-mind.

It was necessary, he told himself as much as he hated to connect to the hive-mind. It was what made him an enigma. He is Blacklight, a strain of Redlight that was artificially altered through genetic engineering. It's what made him a perfect artificial release of non-coding regions of all the genetic materials he took. But the fact that he's a variant of Redlight, that he literally has, what the hu—people would refer, blood-relation to, should have made him at home with the hive-mind… because of his nature, because of what he is. But it repulses him. His mind simply cringed from the contact, like how he would cringe when having the onslaught of memories of his victim invading his mind.

The reason was simple. Alex sees Redlight as abomination, a mindless beast that has no purpose in existing. He was simply disgusted. Maybe it was the Blacklight's predator-instinct, the urge to dominate, to stay as the superior nature and top of the food chain, and that having Redlight existence was a contradiction to this. Maybe he was simply possessive over the city, his predator-like instinct seeing it as his territory. Or maybe it was mainly the thought of his comatose sister, weak and helpless; defenseless against the infected. He squinted darkly at that thought, to hell they would. Maybe it was all of these reasons and he was acting on it.

He wasn't really a deep thinker. What do they call it, a philosopher? He can be a strategist, make plans within plans, he thinks—improvise when backed into corner, but a philosopher? Well his existence would put a lot of theorist into headache, and that would mean he would put himself into headache. So he didn't bother or never thought about it. Just plan, think, do, and not ponder. His action was not to make him be a savior for the city, but to amend his mistake… and his predecessor's mistake. Both predecessors, Alex Mercer, the first identity he assumed, the dead scientist whose mindset he took after death made it a clean slate, and for Elizabeth Greene.

She was his predecessor due to Blacklight being a strain of the mother virus. She was Redlight first sentient host he had susceptibly released when he was foolish and naïve, when he was just days old. Young, his thought whispered. He wanted to reverse the work done by her and the work done by Doctor Alexander J Mercer, simply because there are some things he hates more than others. But hate wasn't the only thing that drives him. One could say he had a deep sense of responsibility. After all he believed humankind was just a pack of idiots. Blackwatch had proved that, Gentek, a group of the world's smartest minds had proved that, New Yorkers had proved that, the fucking media had proved that with every headline.

He was surrounded by idiots and with the fact kept rubbing in, especially when he has memories to remind this every time, he knew mankind is stagnant. He's existence proved that humanity wasnowmore unfit than him. So if it's not them that are going to cleanup, it has to be him and he would do a whole lot of better job than the twats hanging around beneath his feet. Someone has to do it, if not them, it has to be me, as the saying go. All of this was simply because he can, because he was proving himself to be more than just a virus, more than what Elizabeth Greene was, but proving so would mean he's less than that monster Alex J Mercer, less than human. Only a monster could hold the power to genocide, even if it's the infected. Alex let a huff escaped from his mouth, how ironic. That was what the purpose of Hope, Idaho was for; an experimentation field for a weapon to target specific racial type, to bring genocide from just a push of a button.

The trip to Time Square was oddly, uneventful but that's fine. The sky was helicopter free, the marines more focused in helping survivors, Blackwatch personnel are nowhere to be found. No one didn't bother look at the black streak blurring at the tops of looming building. It was quicker that way. The ravage left from the battle with Greene can be seen clearly even in the distant. The huge cracks, the hole in the road as if shells had struck there, pile of rubbles from destroyed buildings at the side, the cheese holes in the remnant of building still standing, and it goes on in all direction. It would cost billions to fix this place, a big chunk in the government's pocket.

That's fine. Alex didn't like the government anyway since they let military operations like Blackwatch exists. If they're soured, annoyed at the huge number in their bills, he took satisfaction. He may not be able to make the government pay directly, but at least they're suffering from the consequence. That's good enough for him and the government are just a load of politicians who says pretty words but doesn't lift a finger, so why should he. Besides, some ambitious intelligent personnel probably did the decision-making.

He leaped from the Paramount building, his favorite spot at beating the shit out of his victims. It has a nice number of terraces, and those terraces are used as a never-ending platform to bounce his victims against. Fun times. Particularly for the infected or the super soldier that dared to disturb him while he was doing something useful, like killing a pack of Hunters. He went towards the tallest building, Times Square and simply sprints up its side, his feet cracking the glass as he left imprint on the cracked surface. Reaching the top, he stopped and scanned around for clearance before closing his eyes.

Alex ignored the screams of the damned inside him, passing memories that weren't his though their experiences had imprinted in him. These are his internal hive-mind and frankly getting squeezed by both internal and external from these two presences, should have broken a normal mind. But he didn't have a normal mind to begin with. His mindset came from a psychotic asshole scientist. A very ruthless, cold-like thinker with intelligence and was prone towards dark thoughts. Added to the fact his subconscious revolved around his viral nature… his mind wasn't truly humane and it was probably why he didn't break.

Alex went toward the viral part of his mind, feeling the tug of his nature pulling him to the external link of the hive-mind. The onslaught mind of the infected washed through him, and he gritted his teeth at their insistent tugging. They were like children. Children with disturbing mind to please their parent. He mentally snarled, his dominance travelling through the hive-mind. The infected finally realizing who they were blindly groping on, wail in despair. In the viral hierarchy, he stood at the top of their minds but unlike the presence of MOTHER who only gave off a euphoric mental aura that made them belong, he only gave off the aura of promised destruction on their kind. To them, the role of the sentient Blacklight virus was an apex with an aura of not a Leader, but of a Hunter. It meant he was a hunter of hunters, a hunter that hunts them. Some snarled at him but out of their protective instinct, defense to stop fear from instilling them.

Ignoring their never-ending wailings, he simply took his mind deeper to the viral hive-mind. Once reaching the designated area of the hive-mind, he stopped his probing. It felt right, this was what he was seeking and he could almost mentally feel all the links to the Redlight virus. He couldn't quite describe what he was exactly feeling since there wasn't really left or right, or clear meaning on that matter, just tugging sensations that have no words to justify them. But he knew, he was in the core of control. This was where Elizabeth Greene mind or what's left of it usually found, a venerated part of the hive-mind.

He could feel traces of her, the lingering of her ghost-like whispers of the reason—whatever it was. But ghost was what she is now. Though he'd consumed her, Elizabeth Greene isn't an active mind in the web of intrigue. While others whisper, almost alive and seem to watch and feel his presence there in their memories, hers was the only one that left only ghostly whispers. Not much of her memories or thoughts made sense anyway. Her mind had long ago faded, fried from the virus presence and what's left was only an incomplete artificial intelligent that's programmed to follow the virus nature. Ignoring his repulsion induced from the leftover traces, he pulled the links that bind them all and send out the command to the Redlight virus within the infected bodies. Consume. Immediately he felt, he sensed the chain reaction.

He could feel the Redlight virus suddenly attacking their host, consuming the altered cells and replicating more viruses, weaker versions, less potent on each replication. He felt the race, as if the rush of the virus was burning in him. Most importantly, he could feel the virus self-destruct as other virus had altered cells to release a chemical reaction. It burned the now weakened virus from the system, with the sacrificial cells having to be destroyed in the end of course.


Alex collapsed as the scream filled his head. A female, woman, familiar presence screamed in pain through the hive-mind, a scream that hit him in the gut when recognition dawned on him. The last time he remembered that voice, it was pleading for him to save as he helplessly chased after her.

Alex eyes snapped open. Dana! Immediately Alex halted his spurring to a stop. She's with us now, Greene's voice whispered into his thought. No, no, no, no! He shook his head in denial and bristled violently in rage, anger, shock, fear. No, Dana's not infected, he thought stubbornly that he had unconsciously grounded his hands into a tight fist. A pit full of worm gnawed his insides. His sister was all he could think about and with that he immediately launched himself to the hospital where she safely resided.

Instead of just barging straight to his destination, Alex took his time. He couldn't just walk in looking all flustered, plus Ragland made him promise and the whole situation might be a tad blown out of proportion. So he took his time to calm down, he needed to.

He shape shifted his clothes and a bit of his feature. He didn't fully want to shape shift—assuming another's identity. Shape shifting to him was like masks he can easily wore and take off in seconds. Assuming identities were like picking suits out of a selection but like suits, they needed to get use to and it was the feeling of a different body shape; the weight of flesh aligned differently that made him uncomfortable, so he tried to shift partly instead wholly.

He changed his skin, appearance, instead of his body shape by immediately ridding his hood and black leather jacket. Though he was reluctant as they hid and guarded most of his form with their bulky presence, they were still a dead giveaway. Technically, what he wore is a bright cocky signature that screams, THIS IS ZEUS! Most New Yorkers were afraid to even wear hoods or bulky black leather jacket since they were scared to be mistaken as him. Plus normal people don't give an impression that they were drug dealers or hoodlums from bad neighborhood, or anything that gives a vibe of suspicion.

So he stick to turning his hair longer and blonde, eyes into softer shade of green and force himself to wear a shabby woolen vest over a white dress shirt. The jeans and shoes he decided not to change since he can't be bothered. Oh, he also made himself younger in appearance and even managed to produce glasses. Of course, Alex had to absorb and breakdown glass and metal compounds to replace what the nuclear explosion had burn off. Still… he looked like a bloody college student that has no association with the meaning suspicious. He snorted in disdain when he glanced at his reflection from some shop's window.

He strolled across the street, passing idling militia and pedestrian taking their slow… walk. He had to fight against the screaming urge to shove and bursting into sprint against their slow movements. He hated the feeling of…people constantly brushing past him, the feeling of being compact amongst them. It felt like being surrounded by… cows, a butcher's memory slid in… waiting to be slaughtered, this time it was a psychotic killer's thought… by him. The living sentient virus frowned. He was all into adaptability. It's part of nature. To survive is to adapt, and if he can't adapt into a situation that's far easier than building up resistant to BloodTox, well life's going to be unnecessary difficult.

Going up the familiar concrete stairs, he strode into the dark hallways of the hospital. He ignored the reception area and went straight toward the familiar path to the morgue, a path where not many people go to and which he was thankful for. Having to deal people, the narrow corridors that are unlike the open streets… and the fucking low ceiling, whilst keeping his shape from bristling in agitation, he was practically eye twitching. Many who came upon him immediately put him into the category of having one hell of a bad day, so they tried to keep their distance.

Pushing past the double door, he entered a cold room, his shoes tapping on the square tiles.

"Ragland." His deep hoarse stern voice called out as he searched the room for the doctor. "Ragland!" he called out louder.

If the doctor doesn't come out now, Alex was going to ransack through the hospital promise or not. Ragland may have squeezed him into promising not to enter the hospital in his undisguised mode and had also urged him to stop harassing patients. Alex had briskly replied an explanation to that. The patients he was interested in were ones that had the strain of Redlight growing in them. And the thought of an infected being close to Dana… well Ragland had to kick out a number of citizens and informed staffs about doing blood test before accepting patients. But when it comes to visiting time, Alex usually tossed that promise out the window once Dana was within vicinity.

He didn't want his sister to wake up to see a stranger's face instead of his, and he didn't want any of the infected existing in the same building as she is. In fact the thought of her waking up to a stranger's face or encountering one of the freshly turned infected made him adamant despite Ragland's reminder. He didn't want anything to worsen Dana's upset state of mind. No doubt she would be, or anyone for that matter after being hauled into an arm of a pinky slimy monster deemed as Hunter, plus going through an unpleasant ride across the city with it.

Alex had once thought the cause of her comatose state was due to her brain being damaged from bruising caused by impacts. After all, landing from a hundred feet and a yard long jump can be pretty jarring. The jolts and tremors travelling through the body would surely bruise or damage a normal person, not to mention the Hunter's clutch must have had fractured some bones… perhaps the spine. Thankfully, when he found her, she didn't show sign of being damaged by the ordeal. In fact, not one bruise nor broken bones nor even any traces of the ordeal had marked her. It was just her mental state of her mind that made him worried, and perhaps the status of her body's functions.

"RAGLAND!" he bellowed, getting impatient. He knew the doctor was somewhere here. He could smell the fresh imprints of the doctor's body odor.

"Alex?" A voice came from the back.

You bet your ass it is, but he didn't speak that thought out loud, merely scowled in answer. Though he may wear another's face, his scowl was pretty much a dead giveaway. It made him… well him from the way his brows crinkled, to how his eyes just simply glare in the same imposing manner and how his lips thin. Alex dropped his disdain off with a crinkle of his nose, but the furrow on his brow line remained. Ragland was used to that look and wasn't even a bit bothered by it when he walked back into the room, having clamped the body storage's door shut.

The aged dark-skin doctor was too unafraid of him, but Ragland had said no to Blackwatch and Gentek without breaking a sweat, so Alex could respect that trait of him instead of killing him. After all, why should the doctor break his calm demeanor simply because a living sentient virus had decided to pop in for a surprise doctor visit? Ragland's life must have been pretty much a roller coaster ride that simply made the doctor hardly bothered to respond in a normal manner, quaking in fear for example, or maybe Ragland had experienced too much that it made him equipped to deal those petty thing life sometime throw. He thought of the latter after all, he's not exactly quaking in his shoes for every time Blackwatch managed to pull a new card on him.

"Results?" Alex questioned.

"Ah," the doctor simply said. He slipped his rubber gloves off before striding toward the corner of the room meant for only his access. It wasn't really the secure type of area as it only has the standard issue of hospital curtain to hide that corner of his. But hardly any comes to the morgue, especially this morgue reserved only for him to do his research on whatever he was researching on. Now that the thought came up, Alex wondered. What was the doctor researching?

He knew that this doctor had… ethics. Why else would he refuse the offer to work for Blackwatch, but morality? Well if Ragland showed any sign of having morality, he didn't show it when he helped him even after discovering who Alex was, or even what Alex is and did on a daily basis. It was what made Alex suspicious about the doctor, but curious enough to let him live. If he was important for McMullen, once the head researcher of Gentek, to ask for help, then Ragland was pretty high in the list of potential geneticist daring to play god, and not much of those ended up… pleasant, or without releasing a devastating consequence on the world. Actually, Ragland was the only one in the list since the others are dead, but the man might be treading along the lines. Alex allowed the doctor to give him the benefit of doubt.

"Here's the recent reading on her blood test. The last one was completed just a few hours ago," Ragland had tapped the insides of the yellow crisp file.

Alex opened it, rifling first the bottom reports. If he were paying attention, he would've felt the tendrils of his biomass inside him tightening. Each chart he flicked past, each reading he scanned showed only signs of a healthy clean body with no indication of the virus and its symptoms. Clean. Clean. Clean. He flipped through the page with ease, reading with help from dozens of accumulated experience of top scientists within him. Alex stopped when he reached the last page, his eyes on the sentence: patient shown one of the symptoms of virus early at 8:07… morning, morning, the time he tried to rid the infected through taking the reins in the hive-mind.

Patient has stabilized within short second without medical help from the staff. Recent readings show a number of Redlight virus idling in her blood stream and was shortly active before shutting down.Alex scanned the charts and the clips of photos. There a model of Redlight virus was just sitting there, surrounded by blood cells. Chart reading was showing the recent burst of exponential growth, then a straight dead line. The virus have been dormant, hence the lack of symptoms but the numbers of virus contradicts its dormant status. The summary ended. His eyes looked up on the doctor and for once Ragland looked unease. Not at Alex, but at the situation they were in.

"I have a hypothesis about this, Alex," Ragland broke the silence plus Alex's glaring was starting to make him uncomfortable.

"Please tell, doctor." Alex's voice was curt and had a hint of a snarl hiding beneath it.

"You've told me about PARIAH—"

"What's this got to do with Greene's child?" Alex bristled at the codename.

"Please, Alex," Ragland spoke calmly, "let me continue."

Alex just flicked his eyes at the doctor as a sign before he turned to move. Ragland eyed the young man, striding smoothly across the room before swiveling around, pacing on his side of the room. Having Alex nearby was like having a black disgruntled jaguar searching for exit. Ragland let a purse escaped his mouth.

"As you've told me," he said calmly, "reports on PARIAH shown the subject having no sign of the virus having activated the non-coding regions, or having symptoms similar to… Blacklight virus producing an artificial release for those regions."

"Yes, PARIAH shown no sign of having a virus with similar capability as mine…," Alex drawled, recalling the theories behind his powers. Blacklight unlocks his abilities through genetic manipulation, activating the non-coding regions in the genetic materials he collects, just as Ragland had said. By short, as long he has the codes, he gets access, so Alex can basically evolved and discover more powers, "…or being the weapon Blackwatch dreamed him to be," the icy-blue eyes squinted at this fact.

"That's the thing, Alex. The reports told that he had shown no physical symptoms, but the theory revolving around that boy contradicts that."

Alex stopped in his pacing. McMullen thought PARIAH being the perfect natural release of the things buried in the genome. Basically, it meant all the known and unknown capability of whathediscovered and hasn't is already activated within the boy. Yet the boy showed no sign of being a super weapon… instead the boy is an enigma, an unusual case. If Alex was sure, he thought that the boy might be refusing to show what he's capable of. Or perhaps even hiding, maybe refusing to comply at becoming what they hoped for. He would be if he'd been stuck in a lab for thirty-four years and knew that he was just some kind of sick experiment to scientists. But PARIAH have been living with scientists and Blackwatch since the beginning of his birth, so he wasn't sure if the boy would think the same as him.

"What are you trying to get Ragland?" he said slowly, curious to how this ties to his sister. Plus he can be patient, right? This better lead to somewhere, his forethought growled while his subconscious was swirling around the facts brought up to light.

"What if, and I remind you, Alex, this is just a what if scenario," Ragland said in a reasonable calm tone, "PARIAH has conscious control on the virus since we can assume that's how he hid his… capabilities." the doctor turned from the impassive sentient virus and pointed at the Redlight virus diagram. Glancing over his shoulder only to see the glare, the doctor continued. "That he can somehow control the virus movements directly, perhaps can order them into a dormant state."

"Are you saying PARIAH is now controlling the Redlight virus, that he took his mother's mantle?" Alex tasted the quoted words coming out from his victim's memories. His blue eyes flashed at the meaning of this. That's not good. That's not good at all.

"No, I'm saying Greene might have the same capability to a certain extent. Her last act was to put the virus within her and that the virus did not react as expected. It became dormant under a control of another," Ragland explained.

Alex frowned, "Pariah could deactivate the virus from being active?" he said this slowly. He wondered, does distant affect the established links to the hive-mind.

"Would you prefer it to be Greene then?" Ragland spoke this thought out loud.

Alex bristled, having long dropped his disguise. If it was Greene, Dana was probably a material for Greene to evolve her. Perhaps the virus was smart, perhaps it has known that Blacklight was the superior strain and will defeat it. So when the chance came, it would want to worm its way into something that Alex would've never harm, something Alex would protect to the teeth. Ragland didn't spoke that thought out, nor did he want to think the possibility of Redlight being that intelligent.

"We could think of the third possibility," Ragland said slowly.

Blue eyes looked up.

"Defeating Greene, the virus would then need another main host. A new… leader, queen bee, or mother," Ragland said slowly, knowing he was treading on a mighty fine line. "Perhaps Dana was… chosen to become one."

Streaks of black tendrils flickered across Alex's form. Better get this over quick, Ragland's subconscious urged.

"If that's the case, Dana now controls the virus." The doctor said quickly. "And that her comatose state was a way for the virus and her thoughts to fuse—," Alex opened his mouth to argue with that. To have a link to a hive-mind was to have the genes that's in charge of that, and that would mean the virus had to infect and basically rewrite her DNA to include that gene, and that was death. That's what happened to Greene. Her memories and the traces of what's left of her mind told him this. But to begin this chain reaction, Greene had to past her mantle. "—it would mean her subconscious might have deactivated the virus from infecting her," Ragland continued.

Alex thought about it. She's with us now. Dana's immaculate body, unharmed, hardly bruised, formed into his mind. Not a single broken bone he found on her. It would explain. It would explain.

"Are you saying Dana has evolved to step up on the mother pedestal, that she was already infected to begin with, that she has already evolved to control the virus at the same time have abilities to hide the fact that she's one of them," he said this slowly but the air around him seems to thicken. "A new version of mother!"

She's dead. She's dead. She's dead.

"Wait, Alex!" Ragland called out, seeing that look on the young man. "Her DNA is unaltered."

Alex stopped, realizing he had been striding toward the exit. If Ragland hadn't said that… Alex didn't want to imagine what he would have done to his sister's body.

"Remember the virus is dormant to begin with. It was put in her but it did not infect. She might have the potential to be the new version of mother, but she's not because she hasn't been infected. She might have been attacked by the virus for a short while but it was only for replicating, not rewriting the DNA." Ragland said all of this slowly and clearly. "Whether or not the fact that her comatose state is due to the virus trying to establish connection to the hive-mind is unknown, or whether the virus is dormant due to some command," the doctor just shook his head at this, as if get the thoughts out, "I'm only listing theories of what, why, and could happen to her."

Alex let the words sink in.

"But unfortunately, all the facts are pointing to one thing. She has potential, and if the infected sense that, perhaps the links to her mind—"

"They would come after her," Alex hissed at this.

The thought of the hive-mind establishing links to her brain… well Alex is not going to take the risk. Potential or no potential, he was going to cut of any way the infected could get to her. If that's the case, it's probably time to move out. Perhaps to test if distant effect the connection to the hive-mind. He knows how aggravating it is to have the infected voice clawing the back of his mind. He already had to deal with his own internal hive-mind, but to handle the external ones also? It was another reason why he repulsed from it. Reminded him too much of the collections of damned minds. Alex might take this getaway as a potential holiday from the extra voices. Let the military deal with the infected. It was the government fault to begin with. Sure he may have released Elizabeth Greene, but by the time he found her, she was ready to escape.

He eyed the UH-1 Y Venom. A utility helicopter the marines have. Not like the Apache that's more fit for combat and had extra heavy guns in its arsenal. But the important part is that it's autilityhelicopter, his annoying thought rubbed in, or maybe it was one of the dead marines inside his head. This is what Alex was looking for. It has the same basic strength of Apache, can withstand the 23mm ballistics round but in sacrifice for the weights of heavy missiles, it was to carry teams and have space for MEDEVAC. Meaning Dana could be carried into that with bed, equipments and all. It still has pretty impressive machine guns, his thoughts whispered, but standard issued one, he retorted to that thought. It's basically an Apache without the heavy missiles… without the potential of instant explosion. Alex scowled from the top of the building.

Now to get a Blackwatch personnel. Even though they were issued to fall back due to a black hole in their upper ranks, Alex was still sure they still had the authority figure card. So if he waltzed in as a marine captain, an annoying Blackwatch low ranked officer could still boss him around. Alex scowled again. There was a mighty flaw in the plan. Manhattan is a quarantined island. Once something goes in, nothing goes out. All these marines were the same ones since the beginning of the outbreak. They don't even transport hospital patients out of the island unless… one of them was materials for research. Since Gentek, the research company based on this island was trashed. It would mean the military had to go to another medical company that's in the government's list. That means any research material needed to study has to go outside the island. This is where Ragland comes in.

The man work one of the medical companies that rivaled Gentek. It was a smaller company, younger too but it got the government to get them in their pocket. They were, as Ragland had said, the spotlight that tries to shine but in doing so they shaded the darker companies to be overlooked. An upstart that still filled with dreams and ideal, the doctor words echoed in his thoughts. But still, more reason to distrust that doctor, Alex scowled as he remembered the chat Ragland had with him, assuming having one of the two candidates only talking that is.

"You should know Alex, big companies and governments of any type always have corruption in it. Wherever you go, you will always find them. It's part of human nature. We're greedy, we're selfish and that's why things like corruption exist on a daily basis." Ragland spoke as he packed his equipments.
"Still, like you, Alex, we try to fight against that dark nature of ours, hence why mankind is still bothered to fight corruption. Corruption after all is an existence we're trying to keep a hold on within ourselves and to let it run free before our eyes is practically an insult to our effort. At least, that's what I like to think," the doctor's shoulder shrugged at this as his back faced the living sentient virus. Alex had just sniffed at this
"Yes I work for a company," the doctor had drawled, having heard the curt hiss of sharp inhale. "But at least I work with one with the
least amount of corruption. I even did a careful background check just to be sure their success was due to their own works and not from being tied to shady figures. Found it clean and the fact it was still young, it shows potential to being the least to my worries but in time that would change. When it does I would be far gone into retirement by then, I hoped." The doctor exhaled. The living virus thought it was maybe due to the efforts of packing the heavy—for humans—box of files.

He realized now it was the thought of history repeating that was tiring, but that was what made things keep moving in life, the doctor had added when he saw the disdain on the living sentient 's struggles were the same as the repetitive nature of the sun rising from the east and setting to the west.

This plan was too dependent on Ragland, Alex furrowed his brows. That was fine. He had depended on the doctor before, especially at that time the doctor was collecting samples on patient zero. Sometime he felt like the doctor was trying to lead him into something.

When asked what the doctor what he was researching, Ragland had simply replied with: "I study the works of diseases. The marks they left in their victims and try to figure out how they kill and why, then I simply list the ways to counteract their works. I send reports of these files and samples from one of the corpse hence why a military base is nearby. The marines sent my work to the medical company outside this island. I then receive replies and reports on my work from my colleagues through calls and emails." The doctor jerked at his study corner where a computer's dead screen stood with a shiny fax machine beside it. Piles of opened files were scattered over the desk till they make a heap. Alex had then realized the heap was due to a wireless phone hiding beneath the papers.

He scowled again when he remembered the flaw with this plan. Ragland had to reveal Dana's identity. The name Mercer attached to her made her a big prize to any Blackwatch. Her ties with you are a tie with Blacklight, Alex scowled at the words. A normal patient won't do it, Ragland had told him. If she was listed as just a random patient that had the virus, she would immediately carted off to the headquarter base on this island.

But if she was Dana Mercer, they would want her out of the island for simple reason. They knew if she was kept within reach of the Monster of Manhattan, Alex would then come after, smashing any base that held her. They've seen how Alex chased after her across the city, so it was a guarantee fact that he would come. The military didn't want any damage in their numbers and cause unnecessary bills, so the most strategic thing to do is to get her out of the island, out of the way from any prospect of getting smashed by the consequence.

What made it a flaw was that it made her a target to other medical company. Especially those who knew who she is, and the powerful thing she ties to, and that made her a "potential'. So the moment her name is reported, a change of orders would be expected for her to be delivered to this and that. Alex has to pull ranks for that, meaning he needs to get a Blackwatch commander that's the highest in the rank. The goal was to deliver her to Ragland's company, not to another. He knew the risk. He also knew there are some who's greedy enough to take the risk of acquiring the prize even if it was a false promise, a false BIG promise.

This was a game of power struggle and Ragland assured him, the company he works for were doing this as a favor for him, not to make Dana their Petri dish. Alex shook his head at that thought. There's a lot of trust he had to put into this plan, a lot of trust that he didn't have. Not to mention the restrain he has to put on. He has to work with Blackwatch and that made him prefer dumping himself into a tank full of BloodTox… if it weren't for the fact that it was for her.

"For her," Alex repeated the promise as he eyed the port military base before turning to leap off into the distant.

The flashback for Ragland's view seems pretty awkward now...