Yay! A chapter! Enjoy. Disclaimer:
All other notes and disclaimers are in the story's Prologue
Alice honestly didn’t know why she was surprised. This was exactly what she had been talking about for so long. About how things had a habit of happening around her. Bad things. She just wasn’t compatible with happy endings. She had told Willow all this — explained it to her and so many others. Time and time again. They always responded by telling her to stop making excuses. Willow especially. They had talked more the previous night in the tent. Willow had told her that if she kept on accepting it, just letting the bad come, that nothing would change. She would actually have to do something if she wanted a different outcome.
Easier said than done. Nevertheless, Alice would try. The first thing she would do to change her bad fortune was get Willow back. It was time to stop hiding from Umbrella. She was tired running. This time, she would seek them out. For Willow. For herself.
Alice had difficulty trying to figure out what Willow was to her even in her own mind. There was a lot there, between them. More than she thought there ever could be for someone. Especially someone she had only known for a few months over a year ago. She did care about her. It surprised her how much she did. Alice liked her quite a lot actually. It was just… she didn’t know if she could do love. Before, she had thought she’d been in love with her partner in Umbrella. The man who had played her husband. But that had been a lie, in numerous ways.
And then the world had ended. After the helicopter crash and the escape from the Detroit facility, she had stared travelling with Carlos and the others. It had been tough. She had liked being near Carlos. She thought she might have loved him, or could’ve grown to love him. She knew she cared for him at least. But Willow…
Maybe she wasn’t in love with her. However, she knew that she was happy with Willow.
There was something about her. Something impossible to ignore, that made it so very difficult to forget her. And god knew Alice had tried. She had always felt guilty about leaving Willow alone the way she did. Abandoning her after a particularly hectic run-in with the undead. A guilt, which was only multiplied by her earlier desertion of Carlos, LJ, Jill and Angela. She didn’t want to leave them again. Not now. It was somewhat inevitable that she would only realise this when one of the deciding factors was doomed to death. It was like some Greek tragedy. One bad turn after another.
Alice looked down at LJ’s body. She still hadn’t asked what happened to Jill or Angela. Seeing LJ dead made her want to ask even less. The surviving members of the convoy worked around her, separating the bodies of the formerly undead from the bodies of their own. The procedure was, unfortunately, well known to them, having had to perform it more times than anyone cared to remember. The last part of the routine was particularly hated: all the dead would get a bullet between the eyes so they wouldn’t rise again.
She was helping.
Bending down, she grabbed LJ’s arms and dragged him towards the line of dead bodies being prepared for burial. Once done, she walked over to the Humvee where Claire and Kmart were tending to Carlos. Kmart was wrapping a strip of cloth around the wound on his arm, trying to hold back tears.
“You should just shoot me now,” Carlos said. “Better yet, just give me my gun back and I’ll do it myself.”
Claire smacked the back of his head. “Don’t even think it, you fucking idiot.”
Carlos winced. Whether it was from the slap to the head or the makeshift bandage Kmart had just pulled tight over his wound wasn’t clear. He focused on Alice when she appeared in his sight. She glanced down at the covered wound on his arm. “Was anyone else bitten?”
Carlos shook his head. “No one still alive.”
“I’m sorry.” Alice wasn’t sure what else she could say. This was, in a way, all her fault.
“Don’t be,” Claire answered.
Alice looked up at Claire. The other woman stood on the other side of Carlos, keeping watch as Kmart wrapped his arm. “It’s hard not to; Umbrella was after me
,” she said. “If I hadn’t met up with you all—”
Claire interrupted her. “Then a lot more of us would probably be dead. Or worse. I hate to say it, but I don’t think we could’ve survived much longer as we were. We needed something to happen.”
Alice looked at the dozen bodies being carefully laid out on the ground as others began digging holes in the sand. Still more were being carried or dragged over to the line. “I doubt this is what you had in mind.”
Clair followed her gaze. “No. It isn’t. But it’s done.”
“It isn’t, not yet.” Alice turned back to her. “Umbrella must have a facility near here. That’s where they’ll have taken Willow. I’m going to get her back.”
Claire nodded. “That girl was one of us once. We’re going with you.”
“I don’t think there’ll be anyone who doesn’t want to have a go at the people that started all this,” Carlos said. “Do have any idea where they went?”
“Not yet.” Alice looked up at the roof of the building where the helicopter had taken off. “They left a lot of equipment up there. Computers and papers. I’ll need some help going through it but I bet we’ll find out where they’ve gone.”
She looked back down as the first few bodies were being lowered into holes. A couple of the holes were far smaller than they should’ve been. Some of the kids hadn’t quite made it to safety.
* * * * *
The location of the facility was easy to find once they perused the computers left behind. Willow’s Hybrid did surprisingly well on the sandy roads. Alice had not wanted to leave it behind and decided to drive it herself rather than leave it or have someone else take it. She followed behind Claire’s Hummer where Kmart, using a map and one of the Umbrella laptops, acted as navigator. “This is it,”
Kmart said over the radio. “The entrance to the base is just on the other side of this ridge.”
Alice stopped behind the Hummer. The rest of the convoy followed suit. Claire jumped out of the car and opened the back door to help Carlos down. Alice got out and headed towards the pair. Stopping, she frowned and looked up at the top of the ridge. There was a natural trail leading up to the top that would be easy enough to ascend. They would be able to get an idea of what to expect around the building that housed the elevator. Still: “Something isn’t right.”
Kmart walked around the front of the car carrying binoculars. She handed a pair to Alice. “What is it?”
Alice opened her mouth and then closed it again. She couldn’t find the words to describe whatever it was she felt. “I don’t know. Something just doesn’t feel right.”
“I’m with you there.” Carlos walked up beside her. Claire hovered next to him but he waved her off. “I’m not that far gone yet.”
Claire sighed and glanced up at the ridge. “Are we going to take a look?”
They began their ascent. Only stopping once when Carlos suddenly bent double and coughed up blood. When they started again, Alice slowed her pace until she was walking beside him up the rise.
“Before, I never asked what happened. To the others I mean.”
He didn’t answer immediately. The pause didn’t instil Alice with confidence concerning the fate of the two women. “It wasn’t long after you left. Bad things were already starting to happen by then. Angela… she got sick. We weren’t able to help her. After that happened, Jill left. She had someone that she wanted to find in Los Angeles. I don’t know what’s happened to her since then.” He choked then. Alice laid a hand on his shoulder as he spit out a mouthful of dark blood.
“Do you want to stop a moment?”
“No.” He shook his head and continued with his story. “I moved around, joining up with groups of people for a while here and there. And then I met Claire. She already had a group going then. And it kept on growing. Right up until about a year and a half ago. The convoy stopped growing long before that, but it wasn’t until then that our numbers started dropping.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
Carlos chuckled. “Nothing to apologise for.”
Alice shook her head. “I meant for leaving. I shouldn’t have done it the way I did. Just going without telling you.”
“It’s done, Alice.” He grabbed her arm and stopped. “Yes, you probably could’ve gone about it better, but it’s done. And we’re here.”
Alice glanced at the reddened bandage on his arm. “And you’re bitten. I’m just… I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologise for that either.” Carlos pulled her into a hug.
Alice clung to him tightly and sniffed. She held on to him until he finally loosened his grip. Tenderly, he kissed her forehead and pushed some errant hair behind her ear.
“What the hell!”
They parted at Claire’s exclamation. Looking up, they saw her and Kmart on top of the ridge, eyes fixed on something still hidden from her and Carlos’ view. Hurriedly, they climbed the rest of the way to the top.
In the centre of a flat, wide-open plain there was an area enclosed by chain-link fencing. Inside was a ramshackle building, a water tower and what looked like a large drainage ditch which seemed out of place. Parked in one corner, where there was an outline of huge doors in the ground, was the same helicopter that had flown away with Willow aboard. Surrounding the perimeter of the fence were hundreds, if not thousands, of infected.
Silent, unmoving grey statues.
While certainly worthy of a disbelieving stare, that was not what they were staring at. Centred above the building was a swirling vortex of black dust and smoke. Even as they watched, it grew in size. The frozen infected around the perimeter dissolved into dust and were absorbed into the vortex. Purple-cued lightening flashed inside the tornado of dust and debris. It stopped getting fatter and instead grew taller. The dead around the complex continued to dissolve into dust, adding to the bulk of the maelstrom which stood at nearly two hundred feet into the air by then.
As she stared at it, Alice knew that this is what she had felt. It chilled her. The coldness of it. The sheer power.
* * * * *
She couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this cold. The desert at night could get reasonably cool, no matter the season. But this
was cold. Not the ‘days of blistering heat and now this, how refreshing’ kind of cold. But the deep down, bone chilling sort of cold that could never, in her experience, bode well.
She was shivering.
Penetrating, to put it simply. A feeling that ran from her skin down to the marrow. It wasn’t just a physical sort of cold either, but mental — emotional. It felt sickly. Dreadful. And it felt like a coldness that would pair nicely with deep, dark, nothingness. Not darkness.
Willow finally found the courage to open her eyes. A bright light shone down on her. She looked away, but not very far. When she tried to lift her head, she felt straps keeping it reasonably immobile. A simple test of her arms and legs revealed that she was well and truly held to the table.
“Interesting.” Willow tried to look in the direction the voice came from but had little luck. “You are awake sooner than a normal human being should be. Not by a great amount, but still quite soon for the amount and type of sedative I gave you.” A man moved into her limited line of sight. He smiled down at her. “I suppose that means I wasn’t being overly cautious in having you moved down here and restrained so quickly.”
She wanted to tell him where he could go in a very detailed manner but a tremor ran through her body. The shivering turned into outright shaking. Her back arched, lifting up from the table as far as the straps would allow. Her eyes rolled up into her head and she nearly screamed. She actually tried to scream. Her mouth was open wide but only a small choking noise came out. Her lungs needed to draw in air to be able to make a sound. And at the moment, they refused to function.
It passed and she could breath again. She lay flat on the table once more, breathing roughly. She sobbed once before composing herself as well she could. It was never a good idea to show more weakness than necessary to the madman who had you strapped to a table. Said madman came back and began talking as if she hadn’t nearly suffocated during some sort of seizure. She started struggling against the straps.
“Considering the way you metabolised the sedative, as well as the way your and Alice’s bodies react to utilising such marvellous abilities, I had wondered what effect the T-Virus would have. Would you absorb it, or would it turn you into one of my special breed?” Willow stopped struggling at his words and stared at him. “It wasn’t part of my plan when you were bitten while we were escaping, but I am rather interested in the outcome.”
Now that he made her aware of it, she understood what it was she was feeling. Something foreign inside her body. Searching, seeking, to change her into something else. Into one of the walking dead. The man walked around to the other side of the table and began fiddling with something attached to her arm. Willow looked down as far as she could and saw an I.V. in her arm.
He continued talking. Willow was beginning to think he liked to hear the sound of his own voice. “I’ve already drawn off a number of blood samples to keep me busy, but I’m hoping to get your help in many more ways than just a few samples.”
“Not likely.” It came out as a whisper. Her throat felt horribly dry.
He chuckled. “I didn’t mean willingly. Though that would have been very nice. But I do still need you alive and, hopefully, cognisant.”
A metal and glass vial stood on the tray next to the table. There seemed to be two glass tubes inside, spiralling around each other in a double helix pattern. A blue liquid filled one tube, a green the other. He picked up a rather ominous looking injector with numerous needles on the end. The canister was placed into a void in the body.
Willow began struggling once more as he brought it near her arm. “I am wondering what effect the anti-virus will have on you as well. Especially against the modified T-Virus from the infected persons you encountered earlier today.”
He grabbed her wrist to hold her arm steady. He brought the needles to her arm and pushed them deep into the tissue. She could feel the liquid burn inside her arm as it moved through her muscles and into her blood stream.
“Doctor Isaacs.” A shaky image of a little girl appeared at the end of the table she was strapped to. “Mister Slater is on his way to see you. He does not appear happy about your latest excursion.”
Isaacs sighed and put down the injector. He moved towards the door to intercept the man. The doors opened just as Isaacs moved a hand to the controls. Two guards moved into position on either side of the door and Slater entered with two more flanking him.
Taking one look over Isaacs’ shoulder at the restrained girl, he glared at Isaacs imperiously. “Chairman Wesker specifically stated that Willow Rosenberg and Project Alice were only to be observed until such time as a recovery operation was deemed feasible. Not only do you ignore this direct
order, but you fabricate orders, misappropriate and waste numerous resources to capture Miss Rosenberg — in the process, getting her bitten — while Project Alice, once again, gets away.”
Isaacs raised an eyebrow. “Do you have point? Because I must be getting back to work. The data we collected during the operation should be more than enough to convince even you of this girls importance.”
“No, doctor.” Slater gestured and the two guards flanking him moved forward, each grabbing Isaacs by an arm. “You are to be confined to your quarters until your actions have been reviewed by the Board.”
“You can’t do this!” Isaacs shouted.
Willow vaguely heard what was going on. The anti-virus was like acid eating its way through her veins. It spread quickly throughout her arm, similar to that pins and needles feeling when a limb has ‘fallen asleep’. Only it didn’t fade. It intensified. She felt the drug move into her bloodstream. The burning sensation moved to her shoulder, down her side, up the right side of her chest, and finally into her heart. She gasped at the feeling of fire that erupted in her chest. Faintly, she could make out the sound of beeping machines going crazy. Her heart felt like it was about to explode as it continued pumping the virus and its supposed cure through her system.
She could feel her reserves of magic combating the foreign substance. She tried to reign it in as it went about attacking the virus and its cure. It felt like her blood was boiling from the magic flowing through it. But her magic wasn’t enough. She needed more. She tried to reach out to the Earth.
And found a tenuous thread buried deep underneath a dried lake bed so very far away.
The last thing she heard before the sound of her own screaming filled her mind, was a clattering and tearing sound. Shearing. Metal on metal. Shattering glass.
Distracted by the furore erupting behind them, the guards let go of Isaacs and turned towards Willow with their guns raised. Slater stood, watching the sparks flying and the convulsing body strapped to the table. Isaacs however, had some sort of spectacular insight into his immediate future and dove under a nearby desk.
A wind picked up inside the lab. Loose papers and debris were picked up in the whirlwind that appeared to have invaded his laboratory.
Alarms stared going off. The trays filled with various implements were flung away from the table Willow was strapped to by some invisible force. Slater followed Isaacs lead and hit the floor. One of the guards tried to approach her. He too was flung away violently, hitting the wall with a sickening crunch. The other guard was perhaps the smarter of the two and dived for the door. But the action came a moment too late apparently. A heavy storage cart flew through the air and hit the guard in the back, sending both crashing to the floor.
There was one last loud snap and clang of metal and then silence. The wind died, the paper settled down. Even the alarms stopped blaring and flashing.
Carefully, Isaacs got out from underneath the desk and looked over the top. The table which contained Willow Rosenberg moments earlier was now void of her presence. In fact, the table was no longer there at all. A glance showed pieces of it embedded in the concrete walls. Isaacs got to his feet and looked around, wondering just where she had gone. And how.
A shuffling noise drew his attention to the opposite corner of his lab.
She was there, her back to him. She was hunched forward slightly and appeared to be looking down at her hands. Her postured straightened suddenly and she turned.
Isaacs stood rooted to the spot. He had never seen the virus in any of its incarnations transform a person like this. Dark blue veins stood out on her face and neck. Eyes, pitch black — similar, yet wholly different from the effect he had seen in his special breed of infected — looked up and caught sight of him. A corner of her mouth twitched upwards. The hands she had been staring at rose and combed through her reddish…
Isaacs stared as her hair darkened to a deep, blood red. Its colour continued to deepen until it was a pure, glistening black.
Tilting her head to one side, she studied him. “Bored now.”
I loved that line in the show. Just the right amount of creepy.