A Resident Evil Fic
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of non-profit, amateur fiction and is not meant to infringe on the rights of anyone. All characters (Ada Wong, Steve Burnside, etc.) belong to Capcom; they aren't mine. I don't get paid so don't sue. Other characters (Ripley, Travens, etc.) are mine.
SPOILERS: Up to Resident Evil CODE: Veronica
I thought you'd be out of my mind
And that I finally found a way to
Learn to live without you
I thought it was just a matter of time
Till I had a hundred reasons
Not to think about you
But it's just not so
And after all this time
I still can't let go
I've still got your face
Painted on my heart
Ground upon my soul
Etched upon my misery, baby
I've got your kiss still
Burning on my lips
"Painted on my Heart"
Remembrance and Resurrection
"THIS FACILITY WILL DETONATE IN FIVE MINUTES. ALL DOORS HAVE BEEN UNLOCKED."
The woman in red ran wildly through the carnage of the Antarctic Base mansion, searching desperately for a way out. Blood stained the red carpet as she passed by, and her breath was coming in hard, fast gasps. This couldn't be happening! She had made it this far, come so close! After escaping the destruction on Rockfort Island, dispatching that monster on the plane, and finding what she thought was the T-Veronica virus, she coldly refused to be taken out by another self-destruct system.
She stumbled to a stop at the base of the wartorn staircase, gasping for breath. The sleeveless red top and black jeans she had been wearing were in tatters, and her health was in no better condition. That monstrous black widow that attacked her on the ice had really done her in. It hadn't poisoned her, thank god, but she now had a gaping wound on her left shoulder that was gushing blood like Niagara Falls and no green herbs left to heal it. Not only that, the ammo in her handgun was running low.
Forcing herself to ignore the enormous amounts of her blood pooling on the floor, the woman in red lurched up the staircase and up to the landing. There was a door to her right, but both ways leading to it had been completely annihilated, large, dagger-like shards of wood sticking out from the shattered catwalks like stakes, reading to impale her if she tried to jump over them.
Not that she was going to try anything like that; she hadn't the strength left in her to do much of anything.
There was, however, another door in front of her, this one made of a paler type of wood. It was sort of sunk into the wall, and from the looks of the area around it, it appeared that something, probably a picture, had been moved in order to gain access to it. In all her years as an Umbrella agent, she had learned not to trust secret doors. They usually had a whole shitload of nasty surprises hiding behind them, and she had always hated surprises of any kind, especially when she was bleeding profusely and could count the number of her remaining bullets on one hand.
"FIVE MINUTES UNTIL DETONATION."
It was then that the most amazing sense of déjà vu came over the woman in red. A tidal wave of painful and beautiful memories suddenly inundated her senses, making her head spin and her heart ache with something that had nothing to do with blood loss…
Ada Wong woke up to a world of pain. Pain, as clear as daylight. Pain in her shoulder, pain in her back, pain in her heart. She was lying in a red pool of her own blood. A man's voice, guttural and barely recognizable in its rage, split the air like the cry of a banshee. There was a bark from a Magnum gun, and then another cry of pain, this one from a creature that was surely not human.
The woman known as Ada Wong shifted, her wounds screaming in protest. The agony she felt was almost unbearable, but she had to get up. She knew that man's voice; the owner was maybe the only man she had ever loved in her lifetime of lies and espionage. Just to hear him scream like that caused her more pain than her bleeding wounds did. Her heart and soul reached out to him, and she willed her body to follow. She had to help him; she had get to the secret hatch with the rocket launcher in it…
The woman in red snapped out of her reverie, forcing herself to concentrate on the situation at hand. She raised a blood-smeared arm and pushed her short, dark hair away from her sweaty forehead. The secret door in front of her blurred and danced before her eyes, becoming a shapeless and undefined mass of brown imbedded in a wall.
Oh, what the hell? she thought. The self-destruct system will probably blow me up anyways. Why not go out with a bang?
The woman in red stepped forward, and quickly entered the door before she could change her mind, slamming it shut behind her.
Her heart stopped in her chest. Zombies! Three of them all crammed into one hallway. Didn't they have anything better to do? The nearest one, dressed in some sort of green army suit, gave an eerie moan as he saw her. His raised his arms and lurched forward, pieces of rotting flesh falling away from his face to strike the spotless carpet. The other two followed in suit, their mindless cries echoing in the hallway.
Despair closed its iron maw on her. Four bullets, and three zombies. Not a good mixture. Unless you were carrying an enhanced handgun, you'd be lucky if four bullets took down one zombie, much less three of the undead bastards.
She was about to turn around and leave when she saw a pair of double doors, these made of metal, about five feet away from where she was standing. Acting on pure reflex, she dove for the doors and felt a huge rush of relief that bordered on euphoria as they hissed open, closing a split second before the zombie's teeth closed on her back.
The woman took a few seconds to catch her breath and slow the pounding of her heart. This room was blessedly enemy free. There were strange metal gadgets and control consoles everywhere, some glowing with brightly colored buttons. On her left, papers were strewn all over the floor, as if someone had ransacked the place in search of a certain file. The only sound in the room was the blaring voice of the self-destruct announcer and the gentle hum of machinery.
Then she spotted the green herbs in the corner.
She was ashamed at the joy she felt as her eyes locked onto those damned little green plants. Two of them. Just enough to allow her to walk upright. Dragging her weary legs like so much dead weight, and leaving a trail of blood on the steel floor, the woman in red practically fell on the herbs and broke open the stems, letting the sap coveted within their green wombs fall on her wounded shoulder. Almost immediately, the bleeding ceased, and her head began to clear. God bless Umbrella scientists for creating those damn herbs. They'd saved her life a dozen times over.
She rose to her feet and looked all around, spotting a door at the end of a short, metal staircase. The pain almost entirely gone from her system now, she ran up the steps as fast as she could and charged through the door.
The woman in red found herself standing in a hallway lined with paintings of nature scenes on one side and several cabinets on the other. Two of the pictures had huge, gaping holes in them, and some of the cabinets had been knocked over.
Her heart beat faster as she hauled ass to the door across the hall from her, taking care to avoid the fallen cabinets that had been strewn carelessly on the floor. Some hidden sense within her mind, enhanced by the adrenaline pumping through her body, told her that freedom was close.
Although she constantly told herself that it didn't matter to her whether or not she lived or died, the woman knew that she would be living a lie if she believed that. Like any other human being, she was very interested in her own well-being and survival. But as of late, ever since she had gone to Raccoon City and met the man that had turned her world upside down, she was even more obsessed with surviving. She kept hoping, foolishly, that she could return to him one day, and they could live out the rest of their lives together, like any other normal citizens, husband and wife, a man and a woman who had fallen in love with each other under the most desperate and deadly of circumstances.
But that was a lie, too, and the woman knew that.
Hopping over another broken cabinet, she rushed through the door and was utterly shocked at what she found.
A prison of sorts. The walls and floors were made of stone, and inside the cells were numerous dead bodies, most likely victims of the T-virus. One cell even housed a live zombie, who was banging on the bars in a frenzy, as if somewhere in the depth of his rotted brain, he knew that the whole base was about to go up in flames. His blood-curdling moans echoed off the walls as the self-destruct announcer continued to repeat the same message over and over again.
Wandering carefully into the prison area, the woman in red suddenly noticed that the door to her immediate right was gaping open like a slack mouth, not caring if she entered its domain to bear witness to whatever secrets it held within. It seemed to call to her; she turned towards it as if drawn by a string.
Her heart thundered in her chest. The woman suddenly broke out in a cold sweat; she had a bad feeling about this, but there didn't seem to be any other way out of this area. Holding her gun ready, she threw open the door and leapt inside.
Nothing. No zombies, no giant spiders, no strange blond haired men in sunglasses. There was a card reader against one wall, a torn metal grate, a discarded assault rifle and the remains of a tentacle lying on the floor.
Then she saw the motionless and shockingly familiar figure slumped lifelessly against the wall, and felt her heart stop in her chest. Tears suddenly sprung into her brown eyes, and she dimly recognized the sound of her gun falling from her trembling fingers and clattering to the floor. Her breath was coming in hard, fast gasps. The room spun, and the figure was suddenly all that she knew.
He was naked, deathly pale skin exposed for what was left of the world to see. Patches of scaly, green flesh were splattered across his form like leeches, making him look like a leper. A floppy mass of reddish hair hid his face from view, taunting her with the horrible secret it was hiding. His limbs were arranged in a graceless position as most dead people's usually were, legs extending bonelessly out in front of him and arms handing limp at his sides, looking like a fragile toy that the powers that be had carelessly strewn together in their "infinite" wisdom. On his slender belly, there was the obvious cause of death, a huge, gaping wound bigger than a basketball, red and pink insides glittering even in the dim light of the featureless room.
It can't be! she thought wildly. Is it him? No, this is too cruel! It can't possibly be him. He never came here or to Rockfort prison! That's the only reason I agreed to take on this investigation…because he wasn't here and I knew he wouldn't be hurt! And now I find this man in here! How could he have gotten here? His name wasn't on the list of prisoners at Rockfort!
But Claire Redfield's was, the woman realized. I should have figured that, after escaping Raccoon City, they would band together to fight Umbrella! The prison supervisors must have screwed up, forgotten to add his name to the lists or something!
As the woman's mind tried vainly to make sense of this impossible scenario, her body was enjoying its liberation from her control. Unbeknownst to her, the woman's feet were slowly taking her closer to the dead body of the achingly familiar man.
Her heartbeat thundered in her ears, drowning out all other sounds. All she saw was the man with the reddish hair, lying so cold and still against the wall, a gaping hole where his stomach used to be. She felt a sickening disorientation and shattering dizziness as she dropped painfully to her knees in front of him, gazing at the wall of red hair that hid his face.
Move the hair, she urged herself. Move the hair aside, and you'll see whether or not it's really him, if you've lost your love forever.
Her bloodstained left hand suddenly jerked out on its own accord, dirty fingers reaching out towards the soft-looking locks, seeking to disturb their rest so that the moment of truth could finally come. Her fingers brushed the wall of hair, sinking into the fiery strands as if into a pool of blood. She pushed the hair back.
The man's head suddenly lolled to the side, startling her, and his face was finally clear in the dim light.
It wasn't him.
She sagged against the wall, dizzy with relief. How could she have been so dreadfully mistaken? This wasn't even a man; it was a boy. If she had to guess an age, she would have said he was somewhere between sixteen and eighteen, maybe twenty at the most. It doesn't matter, she thought suddenly. He's dead, another one of Umbrella's endless casualties, but I'm still alive, and I need to get the hell out of here.
But as she lurched to her feet, her heart suddenly ached for the boy. Glancing down at him, she saw that his face was peaceful and serene in death, a small smile on his lips, or was she just imagining things? She wondered who the boy was and how someone so young had gotten tangled up in such a mess.
The ground beneath her feet suddenly began to tremble, and woman experienced a momentary state of panic. Had the self-destruct sequence already started going off? No! It hadn't been five minutes yet! Debris plummeted from the ceiling and crashed down in front of the door behind her, blocking her exit to the prison area. Then the trembling stopped, and everything was still once again.
Great, she thought, heart thudding in her chest as she glared at the now-inaccessible door. It's all hit the fan. Only one way to go now.
"Come on," she told the dead boy as, on pure impulse, she reached down and hoisted him onto her shoulder. His skin was still warm. "You deserve a much better resting place than this."
Moving slower now that she was burdened with more than a hundred excess pounds of dead weight, the woman staggered over to where the torn metal grate was gaping open into a room beyond. She took a moment to take a mental picture of the severed tentacle, the hole in the wall, and an ax covered in green blood that she hadn't noticed before. She would have to sort through this evidence later in order to speculate about what had actually happened. For a second, she even contemplated picking up the assault rifle, but quickly dismissed the idea, thinking that it would only slow her down.
What happened here? she wondered as she turned back to the metal grate. It appeared as if something very large and monstrous had burst through the gray bars by using brute force alone. The bars were broken and ravaged at least four feet above her head, suggesting that whatever caused such damage had been as tall as nine feet – Tyrant size…or worse.
"You didn't make this mess, did you?" she whispered to the dead boy, not caring if any hidden cameras were catching her talking to corpses on tape. She had heard of people doing crazier things in her lifetime. She worked for most of those people.
The woman quickly stepped through the dilapidated metal grate, careful not to impale her legs on one of the jagged bars. The room beyond was in no better condition than the one she had just exited. As she ran past with her burden, she could see that all the ornamental suits of armor had been knocked down by something that had apparently been on a rampage. Not a single suit was left standing. All of them were lying on the floor, inanimate witnesses who could never reveal the things they had seen. There were jagged marks on some of them, huge bloodless gashes in the ancient metal that provided a silent testimony to the events that had occurred here.
The woman rushed past them with a nervous glance, hoping that whatever had demolished this room wasn't hanging around anymore. She had no weapon to defend herself with, having dropped her handgun on the floor in the other room, and she was in no mood for last minute tussles when she was on a strict time limit here.
When she reached the back of the room, instead of an exit, all she saw was a metal alcove with a chair grafted into the wall. She cursed loudly, her voice echoing in the cavernous room. Despair threatened to overwhelm all her senses. She was trapped! The room ended in a dead end.
Something glittering on the floor of the alcove suddenly caught the woman's eye, and she stopped her violent tirade and crept closer. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw it was blood, still wet and deep ruby red in color. There were pieces of torn cloth scattered all over the floor of the alcove like discarded files in an office. A pair of ripped boots lay at the base of the chair, looking like they had tried in vain to contain feet that had suddenly grown too large to fit inside them anymore. Steadying the boy on her back, the woman knelt down and gently picked up one of the larger pieces of cloth, one that was dark green in color and had writing on the back.
"Rockfort Prison #267," she read. "Burnside." Her brows knitted in confusion, and she glanced at the boy she had flung over her shoulder. "That wouldn't happen to be you, would it?"
The dead boy made no reply.
Suddenly, something dark flickered in the corner of her eye, and the woman spun around, nearly dropping the boy and trying to reach for a gun that was no longer there. Her heart had skipped quite a few beats before it finally clicked that she was staring at another hidden door, this one in the alcove wall, specially camouflaged so that if one didn't look closely, they would never have been able to find it in the gloom of the room. The only difference was that while most hidden doors were shut, this one was slightly open and fluttering ever so gently in an unseen breeze, the darkness beyond it flickering on and off like a silent beacon.
The woman immediately rushed over to the door and shoved it open, daring to think that she was actually going to escape. Beyond the threshold, the secret passageway spiraled into darkness, like a pit that seemed to fall forever. Not very inviting, but she had seen worse in her lifetime. Much worse. Her heartbeat pounded in her ears, obliterating all other sounds.
"Come on," she told the dead boy. "We're getting out of here."
Then she ran into the darkness, her free hand out in front so as to prevent her from running headfirst into a door. There was utter silence in the passageway; the sound of her breathing and the thudding of her boots on the concrete floor seemed echoing and unnaturally loud. A strange tangy smell that reminded her of seaweed hung ominously in the air.
The tunnel seemed to go on forever, and the woman was worried that she would end up getting caught in the self-destruct explosion after all. That worry had grown into a flutter of fear in the back of her throat when the tunnel abruptly ended. In front of her was a medium size chamber whose ceilings and walls were lost in darkness. What was in the middle of the chamber beyond made her dizzy with relief.
A submarine! She'd never seen a more beautiful sight in her entire life. Sure, it was an ugly, gray color, and rusty in most places, but she was going to operate under the assumption that the old contraption still had to be working. It floated gently in its bed of ocean water like an idling car, as if waiting for her to board.
Her heart thudding in her chest, the woman saw that the top hatch was open wide, and that there was a small set of metal stairs leading up to it to made boarding easier. The woman raced up the steps with her breath coming in hard, fast gasps.
When she got to the top, she saw the dead body of a scientist lying on the floor, a small bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. His eyes were wide and staring, his mouth frozen in a silent scream.
He must have been trying to escape, she thought as she vaulted over the dead body without a second glance. Apparently, either Alexia or Alfred Ashford had had different ideas. That's a sniper rifle wound. Oh well, thanks for opening the hatch for me, Dead Scientist Man.
Without even bothering to use the ladder that had been placed in the hatch, the woman carefully shifted the boy in her arms to avoid hitting his head against the side of the hatch, and jumped down the narrow shaft and into the room below. Sheer reflex overtook her at the last moment as her right arm shot out and grabbed the handle of the hatch, shutting it behind her even as she plummeted.
Pain flared in her ankles and shot up her legs as she hit the metal floor with a bang. The dead boy fell from her arms to land in a heap on the floor beside her, where he lay still.
Without losing a beat, the woman leapt to her aching feet and ran toward the control console, the only place in the deep gloom of the submarine's interior that had glowing buttons. Her breath came in hard, fast gasps as she stared at the console in a panic. None of the buttons made sense to her! The labels beneath them might as well have been written in another language for all she could understand from them. They pulsed and blinked on and off like a heartbeat, taunting her.
The woman panicked and started pushing every single button on the control console, hoping that one of them would, by some miraculous chance, activate the submarine. The lights snapped on, illuminating the drab interior of the submarine. Dozens of other gadgets in the submarine turned on and off. It seemed as if she was hitting every button but the one she needed to. What luck.
Quite suddenly, however, the metal floor beneath her feet rumbled, and from somewhere behind and beneath her, she heard the engine roar to life with a defeated sigh. The metal hatch that she had dropped through locked automatically, and her ears popped as the submarine began to sink into the water with agonizing slowness.
Looking at the control console, she saw that she had apparently struck the autopilot button by accident. A damn good thing she had, too.
The submarine was fully submerged and already on its way when the self-destruct system finally detonated, the shock wave making the submarine tremble in terror. The woman was flung backwards to land on the metal floor next to the dead boy. Her heart pounded in her chest and didn't stop pounding until the submarine stopped shaking and righted itself. All was quiet except for the hum of the generator and the sound of rushing water outside the sub's metal walls.
She had made it. Unbelievable.
For a moment, the woman was too stunned to react. She just lay there on the rusted metal floor next to the dead boy she had saved, staring up at the ceiling. The adrenaline from her great escape began to ebb, making her legs and arms feel as watery and weak as limp noodles. Then, the emotions hit her like a sledgehammer, forcing her to curl up into a little ball. She wanted nothing more in the world than to just hide in a corner and cry her eyes out, but, of course, she did nothing of the sort. She hadn't cried since that night in Raccoon City…
Breathing hard in an effort to keep her emotions under control, the woman forced herself to get to her feet and scoot over next to the dead boy. He was lying facedown on the metal floor, arms spread ungracefully at his sides and legs wide open. Even dead people should not look so undignified as that, she thought sourly. The woman, glad that she now had something practical to do, told her weary limbs to pick up the boy and move him to a small cot that had been set up against the wall.
Once she had done so, however, she began to realize just what a fool she had been. He's dead, she told herself, appalled by her actions. Who knows how long you're going to be down here alone with this dead boy. He's going to start stinking in a couple of hours, and what if he somehow contracted the T-virus and ends up turning into a zombie? You have no weapons. Good God, what were you thinking?
The woman seated herself on the floor next to the dead boy's cot, staring down at him and wondering why she had endangered herself so much to save someone who was already dead. And here she was, laying him comfortably in a cot like he was going to wake up and complain about her hospitality.
"Why did I feel compelled to save you?" she suddenly demanded of the boy, her voice echoing in the silence of the submarine. "Why?"
She gazed down at the boy with some indiscernible emotion in her dark eyes. He hadn't changed since she had last gotten a good look at him lying motionless against the wall. His skin was still as white as freshly fallen snow, the scaly green patches still dotted his form, and the humongous hole in his stomach hadn't gotten any smaller. Oh yeah, and he was still very much dead.
On impulse, she reached out and ran her fingers through the fiery strands of his hair. They flowed like silk between her fingers, caressing the palm of her hand and then sliding coyly out of her grasp. So red, and so soft, just like his hair…
The woman was suddenly gripped in a tide of emotion so powerful and sweet that she found she had to yield to their cries. Her body trembled uncontrollably as the memories of three months before threatened to swallow her whole. She shut her eyes tightly as a flood of tears tried to free her.
"Leon…" she whispered, in a voice so full of agony and thousands of unrecognizable emotions that she barley recognized it as her own.
Behind her closed lids, the image of a man formed. He had silken hair of an amazing and indiscernible color. In a dark room with meager lighting, the soft tresses appeared to be light brown with hints of blond, but in light, they were transformed into a fiery mass of auburn shot through with gold, red strands rearing their passionate heads when exposed to the light. His eyes were an impossibly deep shade of blue, eyes that were an ocean she would drown in willingly. They peered out at her from underneath gently curving brows with a twinkle of humor and the unquenchable inner flame of his youth. The nose was a little long, but when weighed against the soft mouth and hard, solid body, it was soon forgotten.
Leon Scott Kennedy.
The idealistic, overprotective rookie police officer whose unstinting devotion to what he believed was his "duty" had sickened her at first. His "I'm an officer and you're a civilian and it's my duty to serve and protect you" had only served as a serious annoyance to the woman while she ran around the zombie-infested Raccoon City in desperate search of William Birkin's infamous G-virus. She had been a woman on a mission, and she didn't need any deluded, pretty-boy police officers seeking to protect her, thinking she was weak and fragile. She was a grown woman, not a girl; she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself like she always had her entire life.
But he kept at her with that "we're a team and I'm not going to leave you behind" routine, and eventually she had given in to him, fully intending to abandon him and his foolish moral values whenever she had the chance. Well, it hadn't been so easy. She was shocked to find herself growing attached to the young man who was the biggest annoyance in her life at the moment, a thorn in her side. Leon Kennedy made her feel strange inside; he made her heart beat faster with just the closeness of his presence, with the warmth that emanated from his body and heart alike. Leon Kennedy made her silently question her own moral values and the productivity of the life she was leading. Leon Kennedy turned her world upside down with his loyal devotion to duty, his almost unrealistic ideals, and his unforgettable flashing blue eyes.
Such devotion and youth wasted on trying to uphold a system that was outdated and unable to punish the true evildoers of the world, such talent wasted on defending a center that could not hold. Such kindness and kinship wasted on a woman whose only devotion was to herself and the life that she had chosen to live.
But the woman had fallen so deeply in love with him that the intensity of her own emotions took her by surprise. She had forsaken her common sense, her job, and her self-centered complex to save his life as he had saved hers a dozen times over. Memories of him had haunted her ever since that last escape from Raccoon City. Even now, she saw his russet hair shimmering in the meager light of the car garage where she had first laid eyes on him. She heard his voice calling out to her, cutting cleanly through her haze of red pain to touch and warm the coldest regions of her heart. She felt his warm, soft mouth slide gently over hers in that first and last kiss before the darkness had roared up and taken her under.
She would never find another like him, and she knew it.
The woman formerly known as Ada Wong was startled by a sudden drop of moisture landing on the back of her dirty hand. She watched, entranced, as the small pebble of water managed to remain in its original rounded form before slowly rolling down her hand, leaving a trail of wetness in its wake, losing its very essence piece by piece until it finally had nothing left of its rounded figure to roll with. What had begun as a drop of moisture was now a solid line of salty wetness on her hand, a streak of cleanliness among the dirt and blood. It was the depleted remnants of a teardrop.
She was crying again.
The trail of tears felt cold and alien on her face, drowning eyes that were unused to flow. Through her blurry vision and rapidly melting heart, the woman wearily raised her eyes to gaze at the dead boy again. Why had she saved him? she wondered for he millionth time in five minutes. Was she seeking redemption for her soul by saving whomever she could, whenever she could, even if they were dead? No, that wasn't it. There had been dozens of survivors on the planes, and she hadn't raised a finger to save any one of them, for the most part, at least. No, the only reason she had saved this boy was because she had thought he was Leon.
Looking at him now, though, she saw that there was very little resemblance between the two. This boy had reddish-orange hair, not the tresses of gold, red, and brown that had graced Leon's head. The eyebrows were a little thicker, the nose much sorter, the mouth more vulnerable looking, the body less well built than his counterpart in Raccoon City three months ago. In all reality, he looked almost nothing like Leon. This was a boy, and a dead boy at that.
But how had he ended up so? What had happened to him? Trying to focus all her attentions on unraveling the mysterious events that had occurred in the throne room or whatever it had been, the woman called up the mental pictures that she had taken of the carnage. Her mind began the now automatic process of examining the cold facts and coming to an unbiased conclusion. Before her, she saw the torn clothes, the fallen armors, gouges in the armors, the torn metal grate, the tentacle, the hole in the wall, the ax on the floor, and the discarded assault rifle with almost an entire clip left in it.
"Rockfort Prison," she murmured, still staring down at the dead boy as she recalled the section of cloth she had picked up from the base of the chair. "You were a prisoner on Rockfort Island, and you escaped to the Antarctic Base on a plane that was separate from the ones we took. I think I would have remembered seeing one as striking as you with the rest of us."
The woman paused, her dark brows creasing in puzzlement. "That chair against the wall," she muttered under her breath, thinking out loud. "And that ax – I've seen them somewhere before. Yes, in that room that held Alexander Ashford in it. The ax was embedded in the wall across his neck. So someone took you to that room, and put you in the same position, but why? And how did the ax end up on the other side of that torn metal grate?"
The woman suddenly fell silent as it dawned on her what had happened. She reached out carefully and touched one of the green patches that graced the boy's chest. It was of a rough texture, scaly in some areas and pebbly in others, and it was thick, meant to protect against all kinds of bullets that might be launched at it. These patches of skin didn't belong to the boy – they belonged to another creature that was strong enough to rip through a metal grate and make deep gouges in some of the toughest suits of armor ever made.
"So it was you who made that mess," the woman muttered, staring into the boy's pale, inanimate face as if to seek confirmation for her conclusion. "The T-Veronica virus – it's in you, isn't it? That's what made you change, didn't it? But why the mess with all the ax gouges and that metal grate? There was someone else in there with you, someone who got out of there alive when the doors unlocked. Who was it?"
The dead boy whose last name was Burnside made no reply.
The woman continued in a dull, flat voice, "I don't know who it was, but I do know that the tentacle in there was after someone, and I don't believe it was you, if you were a creation of Alexia's. It was the other person in there with you, right? The one carrying that assault rifle. You chased them down the hall with that ax; you were on a rampage, but they got through the gate with you stuck on the other side. So you tried to bust through it in order to satisfy that compulsive need to kill."
The woman paused. "That's when the tentacle came, right? It came through the wall, and grabbed the person with the assault rifle, holding them for you. That's when the grate gave way, and you came into the room. But what happened? You must have saved that person's life by severing the tentacle with your ax, and they fell to the floor, dropping their assault rifle. But that tentacle wasn't done, was it?"
Her eyes fell on the huge, gaping wound in the boy's belly, and she suddenly felt her eyes tear up again. "It killed you because you saved your friend's life. Poor boy. Poor, brave boy."
For a long time, the woman in red sat in utter silence, reflecting on the hypothetical report she had just made to the dead boy. Of course, there was a chance she had made the wrong conclusion entirely, but since the dead boy could neither confirm nor deny her story, she was going to assume it to be true. Besides, some unknown instinct in her told her that the scenario she had just visualized was exactly what had happened, and that the boy whose last name was Burnside had died a valiant, noble death.
Numbly, the woman reached into the side pack she had strapped onto her belt. From deep within its recesses, she carefully extracted a small vial of fluid. It was a pale blue color that almost appeared luminescent in the lights overhead. It sloshed against the sides of it unmarked glass vial like the ocean in a bottle. The last remaining sample of the T-Veronica virus, or was it? She had found it in a dead scientist's wartorn and ravaged satchel in an abandoned lab whose door had been broken down by the men who answered to the man with the sunglasses.
A war suddenly raged within the woman. The glass vial blurred before her eyes. In her mind, she was once again Ada Wong in the Raccoon City sewer system, and she was hearing Annette Birkin's voice.
"The G-virus has the ability to revitalize cellular functions."
She looked down at the dead boy. If the G-virus was inferior to the T-Veronica virus, then surely the vial she now held in her hand, if it was indeed what she had come all this way to find, had the same reviving ability as G-virus. And, of all people, this boy surely deserved another life.
William Birkin was alive when he injected the G-virus into himself, a voice in the back of her mind argued. It was the voice of her old life, a cold voice that spoke only of self-devotion and disregard for the feelings and opinions of others. William Birkin turned into a monster, it continued. Do you want to be trapped on a submarine with such a creature? Besides, the T-Veronica virus is already in that boy, and it's not helping him any. You jab him with that, and he'll turn back into a monster. Just take your findings to headquarters, and collect your pay. Forget about that boy.
The woman reached out and touched the boy's skin. Even now, after all this time, it was still warm. No smell of rot drifted from him. But how? There was no pulse, no blood flow to keep the body alive, but the T-Veronica virus was in him. The man in the sunglasses had told her, while pointing a gun at her head, that the only remaining sample of the T-Veronica virus was in Alexia Ashford's body. He had been wrong; this boy whose last name was Burnside had that accursed virus sitting in his veins, either dead or dormant, but it was in there. What if the virus was in the process of trying to revive its host body right now? The body was still warm; it hadn't begun to decay yet. The brain might still be active. The boy could live…
The voice roared up again, spouting vehement phrases about the illogical course of her actions and what devastating consequences could follow from such decisions. It was the voice of common sense, of her mind. The woman pushed at the voice of herself with all her shattered and scarred heart, and somewhere in the hidden recesses of her soul, the beloved image of a rookie cop in a torn police uniform leaned in and pushed with her.
The voice fell silent.
With one last glance at the dead boy, she reached into her pack and pulled out a syringe she had once grabbed off the floor to use as a weapon when her handgun had been knocked away. The needle was long and wickedly sharp, but she could tell that the syringe had never been use before. Numbly, as if her actions were being controlled by someone else and she was condemned to only watch, the woman plunged the needle into the virus and extracted as much as the syringe could hold. She put the glass vial back into her pack and sat looking at the dead boy whose last name was Burnside.
"Listen to me very carefully," she whispered to him as she turned his head to the side. "I'm not sure who you are, but in my mind, you're a brave boy who saved his friend by sacrificing himself. Such bravery should be rewarded, though there are others who wouldn't agree with me. I've killed many in my lifetime for no reason other than they were in my way, but I've saved precious few. You remind of someone I once knew, someone I still love even today, and for that reason, and that reason alone, I am going to try and save your life, even if you end up taking me down with you." She inserted the needle into the skin of his temple, pushing it deeper until she thought it was close to his brain, which she hoped was still operative. "Please forgive me," she whispered, "whoever you are or once were."
She depressed the plunger, and the virus went into him.
The woman backed away slowly, her heart thudding in her chest.
It could have been nothing but some sort of phosphoric compound, she thought dismally. A decoy virus. Or I could have just injected him with nothing but blue water.
Then the boy's eyes flew open.
Shocked and surprised by the speed of the reaction, the woman dropped the syringe on the metal floor, scrambling backwards until she felt some gadget on the other side of the wall digging painfully into her back. She ignored the pain as she watched the boy on the cot with wide eyes, her heartbeat roaring in her ears.
He had gone into some type of strange convulsions. His chest jerked in and out erratically, like an engine trying desperately to start after being frozen during an overnight cold front. Tortured breaths forcing themselves out of the boy's throat suddenly filled the cabin, obliterating all other sounds. The breaths were wheezing, like something was obstructing his throat. His mouth hung open slightly as he sought to draw air into lungs that had been told they no longer needed to operate and were reluctant to come back to work. His fingers and toes twitched, clawing at the cot like an animal trapped in a cage. Only his eyes remained static, wide and staring, pointed towards the ceiling yet focused on nothing at all. The pupils were tiny pinpoints set afloat in a sea of pale green.
The woman's heart pounded painfully in her chest, and she was certain her eyes were as wide and staring as the boy's were. He was going to mutate at any moment; she knew it. He would kill her. She just wished he would hurry up and get it over with.
Suddenly, the boy's gasping breaths grew louder and faster. His chest and belly heaved with effort. Then, the woman noticed something. Was it just her imagination, or was the hole in his stomach smaller? She could have sworn that it had been bigger than a basketball the last time she had looked at it. Now it seemed to be shrinking in size. Right before the woman's eyes, she saw its circumference decrease from the size of a saucer to about the diameter of a tennis ball. A few seconds later, there was nothing left of the gaping wound but slightly transparent and flimsy-looking skin.
His breathing suddenly dropped off, and the woman was afraid that it would stop altogether, but it only slowed until it was going at a more normal pace. His eyes drifted shut until she could only see a small line of white beneath his eyelids. And as his muscles relaxed one by one, she heard the boy moan very softly.
Her heart was beating so hard in her chest that she thought it was going to burst free. She suddenly let out a humongous whoosh of breath that she didn't even know she had been holding. The only thing she could see was the boy who had been dead just seconds ago and was now lying there half-awake and still naked on the cot, his thin chest rising and falling slightly as he breathed, revived by some dark miracle that science had created. She couldn't believe it.
The woman looked at the syringe she had dropped with a wary, fearful look in her brown eyes. Whatever was in there, she thought, wasn't the T-Veronica virus. No matter how powerful her employers had claimed it was, she was almost certain that it wasn't powerful enough to breathe new life into someone who had been dead for a prolonged amount of time. No, whatever was in that vial was something else.
The boy groaned again, recapturing her attention. He shifted restlessly, the cot making soft creaking noises as he did so. His head flopped to the side, facing her, and a shock of red hair swooped forward to cover his face. The boy made a face as the ruby red strands tickled his short nose.
Cautiously, the woman crept closer until she had resumed her original position at the boy's side. It didn't look like he was going to mutate anytime soon, but she was still a bit apprehensive. She reached out and gently brushed aside the fiery strands that obscured his face.
The boy muttered under his breath, the words jumbled and incomprehensible. She could see his eyes moving underneath his eyelids.
"What?" the woman asked softly, leaning closer to his moving lips. "Can you say that again? I can't hear you."
The boy coughed softly, then said quite clearly, "Claire?"
She jumped back, startled. So it had been Claire Redfield in there with him, of all people. It's a small world after all.
The boy's eyelids slowly drifted open, revealing eyes that were a beautifully pale shade of green. Not quite as compelling as Leon's deep blue eyes, but they came close.
The woman remained as still as she could as the boy blinked a few times and shifted his gaze to face her. She didn't want to scare him by making any sudden moves that would appear threatening to him.
The boy squinted at her, a look of puzzlement entering his eyes. "Claire?" he asked sleepily. His voice was high and slightly nasal, making him sound younger than he apparently was.
The woman shook her head. "No," she replied simply.
His head fell back. "Oh," he said softly, sounding disappointed. His pale green eyes started to close, and for a moment the woman thought he would fall back asleep, but he suddenly returned his gaze to her. "Who…are you?" he asked in a halting voice, as if it cost him great energy even to talk.
The woman hesitated, not really knowing the answer to his question. She received a new name with every assignment and was known under many different aliases across the country. The only thing she was officially known by was her agent ID number, and she didn't think the boy would understand about that. "It doesn't matter who I am," she said finally. "I really don't have a name, but you may call me…Ada Wong, I suppose."
The boy nodded slowly, still staring sleepily at her. "My name's Steve. Steve Burnside," he volunteered, trying to smile.
The woman's heart softened. She gave him one of her rare smiles. "It's nice to meet you, Steve."
The young man who she had forever called "the dead boy" nodded. "Thanks," he whispered, his eyes starting to drift shut again. "I dreamt I was dead," he muttered softly as his voice faded into nothing.
The woman laughed without mirth. "We all dream that we are dead, Steve," she said as she removed a blanket from underneath the cot and covered him with it. "But only the fortunate ones are given the mercy of such a liberating certitude at the time of their choice. Everything dies, if only we had to power to choose when, where, and whose arms to die in, but it's not that simple. Nothing ever is."