Disclaimer: Prototype is the property of Activision; Resident Evil is the property of Capcom.
Rain poured down on the ruined city streets, puddles forming in dozens of cracks in the asphalt and pavement, water flooding destroyed cars and military vehicles. Wind howled in between abandoned buildings, blowing light debris around. Lightning would occasionally illuminate the darkened streets, shattered glass and decaying corpses included. In the middle of the desolation, a squad of Marines had set up shop around the tarp-covered remnants of Blackhawk helicopter.
"Goddamnit Sarge, we've been pullin' guard duty all fuckin' month." Private Lewis Gregg muttered. "We finally get a call to action, and now, instead of guarding the bridges or shit, we're guarding a fucking wrecked chopper. It's fucking soaking wet out here, freezing, and…"
"Your point? Aside from me having to listen to you?" Sergeant Adam McAllister responded. Between the miserable weather and Gregg's whining, it certainly felt that they had been pulling guard duty for a lot longer than a month to McAllister. "We got our orders, and we're following them."
"Yeah, but c'mon. We're told to fucking secure this goddamn helo, try to keep it intact but not to fucking touch it, because those goddamn fuckers from Fort Detrick would have a shit fit if we got our fingerprints on their toys?" As Gregg mentioned them, McAllister scowled. He didn't particularly care about the interservice rivalry bullshit which irked some of his subordinates; if the US Army had a unit that specialized in dealing with the fucking insane bullshit, fine, he'd do what they'd ask. But having seen Blackwatch operate, McAllister immediately hated them. They treated the Marines like meat shields, had no concept of why friendly fire was bad, and seeing them handle civilians who were possibly infected… damn. "I mean, if this crash is goddamn important enough to drag us out here in the middle of the night to guard, why the fuck haven't they just shown up and retrieved whatever the fuck is so important about it?"
"You're asking me what I think goes on inside the heads of those crazy bastards?" McAllister said, taking off his cap and scratching the back of his head. "I have no fucking clue. Right now, it just seems all they want to do is hole up in bases behind fucktons of virus detectors and let us mop up whatever's left."
"You think they're scared?" Gregg asked. "Y'know, of… that thing."
They had only recently been rotated in to the city; some of the Marines who'd been there longer, who had fought the infection, they had stories to tell. Things that they were ordered to keep quiet about. Things that sounded fuckng crazy. And after all he had seen, McAllister had to admit he believed those stories. "If it does exist… yeah, I'd be scared of it too."
"Y'know, they say it can be anyone. Anywhere."
"I know." McAllister said, placing his cap back on his head and pulling the brim down low over his eyes.
"So… what if we're guarding something it wants?"
"Then we're fucked." McAllister snapped at his subordinate. "Y'know, if you're trying to pass the time to make this shift suck less, you're not exactly succeeding. So kindly shut up."
As they stood there in silence and the rain came down, McAllister tried to push the memory of the conversation out of his mind. After only a month of guard duty, working alongside Blackwatch, his nerves were frayed. He didn't need to focus on some sort of unstoppable supervillain. Probably was just exaggerated bullshit. So McAllister put his cap back on, scanned the darkened city streets, and stood, cold, wet, and miserable.
After what seemed like an eternity, McAllister checked his watch; it was oh-three-hundred-eight hours. Sleep-deprived, stressed out, and standing out in a monsoon at three in the morning. "This sucks." He let slip, bracing himself for more of Gregg's whining. After an uncharacteristically long silence, he turned to his right.
Gregg's eyes bulged out at him, as a black shape in the darkness had an arm wrapped around his throat in a chokehold. Gregg struggled in an attempt to break free. McAllister caught a glint of a metallic object plunge into his subordinates neck; Gregg's eyes widened further, as his assailant sawed through a jugular and his trachea. As blood poured from the wound, the shape shoved Gregg out of the way; the Marine taking a shaky half-step forward before collapsing on his face.
McAllister levelled his M16A4 at a pair of dull red eyes, and Gregg's killer charged. It was too close; the aggressor managed to shove the gun barrel upwards before McAllister could fire. Something hard slammed into the side of the Marine's head. McAllister stumbled to the side, dimly aware that his rifle had been wrested from his grasp, struggling to regain his footing on the slick asphalt and reorient himself.
The sergeant was brought back to reality by a sharp pain in his chest. Looking down, he saw the handle of a combat knife protruding from his torso, held in a reverse grip by a gloved hand. As things started to grow even darker, McAllister wrapped his hands around the man's arm, while his gaze tracked up to those red eyes; the round, expressionless lenses of a gas mask.
The man twisted the knife.
Agent HUNK of the Umbrella Security Service waited until the Marine went limp before removing his knife from his torso. Quickly jamming the knife between two of the man's cervical vertebrae, just to make sure, HUNK let the body drop. After holding out his knife momentarily, letting the rain wash off the blood, he sheathed the blade.
Taking a knee, he retrieved the Marine's radio. Part of the plan was to report an incident with a leftover infected. Informants had suggested that in order to stop the package from being breached, they'd use an artillery strike with a mixture of high explosive and incendiary shells. That'd conveniently wipe out any trace of what really happened.
Turning away from the wrecked helicopter, he saw some black shapes moving in the darkness. A flash of lightning revealed it to be the rest of Alpha Team, approaching his location. One of the gas masked figured said, with a hint of pride "All clear, Sir."
"Anyone manage to radio out?" HUNK inquired in a neutral tone, sizing up the wreckage they had been sent to reach.
"No sir. They never saw us coming." The subordinate, Wolf said, again with that hint of pride. "Fucking jarheads were sitting ducks."
"Good." HUNK replied, this time letting his voice betray a little annoyance. While the Marines were easy enough to get the drop on, the Alpha Team leader knew all too well how easy it was for what were supposedly simple missions to turn into utter chaos in seconds. He didn't need his squad feeling cocky, at least, not while they were still on the clock.
There was no room for error; Alpha was on a strict time limit. Infiltrating Manhattan had been no easy feat, even with certain friends that the Umbrella Corporation had within the US government, and the fact Blackwatch was more focused on keeping the denizens of Manhattan in, rather than keeping other interested parties out. They only had a limited window to secure the objective and get out of the city.
Dropping to a knee, HUNK grabbed one of the stakes securing the tarp to the ground and pulled. The wind blew the loose corner upward, revealing the open door of the wrecked Blackwatch. Unslinging his MP5, he flicked on the underbarrel flashlight to provide some illumination. The Blackwatch troops aboard the helicopter were piled in a boneless heap on the floor, presumably having died on impact. One man was different; rather than black biowarfare gear, he was dressed in a dark blue service uniform. The silver rank insignia on the man's shoulder identified him as a Lieutenant Colonel, and given by the row of medals on the man's chest, he was someone important.
More important to HUNK, handcuffed to the man's wrist was a reinforced metal briefcase. Stepping inside, the Umbrella Soldier picked up the case, looking it over for damage. Satisfied that the case was intact, HUNK stepped out of the helicopter, his feet splashing in the pool of rainwater. Tapping another subordinate, who was surveying the streets for possible hostiles, on the shoulder, HUNK said "Wire, need a lock picked."
As Alpha Team's technical specialist climbed aboard the helicopter to ply her trade, the squad leader stood, keeping his finger on the trigger guard. The storm made slipping under the military's radar easier, but now that they had to pause for the lock to be picked, they were stuck dealing with the poor visibility. Above the howl of the wind and the tarp whipping around, HUNK could've sworn he heard gunfire in the distance.
Hearing Wire's boots splash down behind him, HUNK lowered his submachine gun and turned. Wire held the case open. Resting in the heavily-padded interior of the case was a clear vial with a deep red liquid inside it. Picking it up, HUNK turned it over in his hands. Seeing no damage to the vial, he tucked it in his satchel.
"That doesn't look like it belongs to you." A voice called out from behind HUNK.
At once, Alpha Team trained their guns on the person. HUNK quickly catalogued the new arrival. They wearing standard-issue combat gear; digital print camouflage, a Kevlar vest, and helmet, along with a black balaclava. Definitely a marine. A quick squeeze of the trigger later and a nine-millimeter bullet found its mark. The Marine's head snapped back, and he fell backwards. Keeping his weapon trained on the prone body, HUNK turned and glared at the rest of his squad. "Missed one."
"Sir, we got all the Marines…" Wolf began to explain, before the squad leader brushed passed him.
"Command, this is Alpha. Package is secure. En route to extraction point." HUNK said into his radio. Glancing over his shoulder, he added "Be advised, it is probable that a sentry has radioed out."
"Understood" A British voice, equally as cold and detached as HUNK's, replied. "Need I remind you that the corporation cannot afford to be tied to your actions if your team becomes compromised?"
HUNK clicked off his radio and motioned for his team to move. As they headed out, HUNK's muscles tensed. He had had a bad feeling about the mission they reached the containment zone. Without thinking, the Umbrella Agent dove to his right, seconds before his men started shouting obscenities and Wire screamed. He whipped around, training his gun on the aggressor.
It was the Marine he had shot. Somehow, despite the bullet wounds, he was back on his feet. More than that, the trooper had shoved his right fist through HUNK's squadmate, whose screams had turned into a gurgle as one hand wrapped around the arm buried in her torso. The Marine turned his head to glare at HUNK. Then, in a series of frenzied motions, the creature tore his arm free, slammed the Umbrella trooper facefirst to the ground and stomped hard, flattening her head and sending fragments of her helmet flying.
"Open fire!" HUNK shouted, as he himself backpedaled and emptied the rest of his MP5's magazine into the creature's head and upper torso, as black-and-red tendrils began lancing into the Wire's corpse, rending flesh apart. More tendrils coiled around the monster, shifting it; the camo gear and balaclava changed into dark gray and black biohazard gear. The creature had lost a few inches of height in the transition and had a slighter build; looking exactly like Wire. The monster had just turned into the soldier it had killed.
The creature charged at the squad leader, who managed to duck under a right hook and sidestep an uppercut. His gun empty, HUNK turned and vaulted over a wrecked car, in what he knew was a probably futile attempt to put some distance between him and his opponent. The creature cocked its head to the side in what HUNK could only assume was amusement. Taking a knee, it reached under the car, black tendrils winding around its arms as it lifted the hunk of metal above his head. Every muscle in HUNK's body tensed up as the creature threw the car.
The rest of Alpha Team had been firing at the creature since HUNK had given the order. If their opponent had been human, the multitude of rounds from their assault rifles should've punched straight through it, probably hitting the commander after tearing sizeable holes through its body. However, despite the fact that it should've happened, it didn't. Hell, the bullets didn't even seem to be annoying it, much less killing it.
Wolf gritted his teeth. Pulling the pin on a frag grenade, he yelled out "Fire in the hole!" before lobbing it at the creature.
Without even looking, it caught the grenade in midair. It turned to face the rest of the squad, holding the grenade right on level with its eyes.
The explosion blasted the creature's arm apart, everything below its mid-bicep were gone, with red-and-black tendrils lashing around the stump. The armor and CRBN gear it was wearing was ripped in places, with deep wounds visible beneath, exposing the ribcage and organs as more tendrils slowly wove around the wounds. The combat helmet and most of the gas mask had been torn off by the blast; most of the creature's face and cranium were missing. Its lower jaw hung on to the remnants of its skull by a thread, its tongue rolling senselessly over mangled teeth. One eye, darkened by burst blood vessels, remained in what was left of its head, glaring at the Umbrella troops in a sick parody of rage.
It took a step forward.
And then another.
By this time, HUNK had managed to stagger to his feet, leaning heavily against a nearby wall. He had barely managed to dive out of the way of the car. Slapping a fresh magazine into his MP5, he managed a smirk at his team's actions. They hadn't killed the creature, but they did manage to distract it from him. Surveying the scene of his team backing away from the mostly-headless creature, HUNK planned his next move.
It seemed that their mission had just gotten a lot more complicated.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank NanoMoose for beta reading this for me.