Billy Coen hated fog. He hated fog almost as much as he hated forests and mansions and anything else that brought to mind the least association with Umbrella. He'd been on the run from them for several years now, and had almost seemed to get clear of them entirely. That was, of course, until he'd gotten a phone call from Rebecca. How she'd found him after so long, he wasn't certain, and he hadn't really had a chance to ask. Because somehow, Umbrella had found him again. So he'd started running, but this wasn't like the other times. He was a known entity to Umbrella, it seemed; and apparently enough of a threat for them to send one of their B.O.W.s after him. One of their bigger B.O.W.s. The Tyrant class.
He'd only encountered the Tyrant once so far, and bore the marks of the encounter. There were several gashes in his chest and hip, the best he'd been able to manage in the process of avoiding the Tyrant's deadly claws. He was swearing softly, his strength rapidly running out as the glare of headlights in the fog blinded him.
Reaching for his cell phone in the console next to him, Edwin glanced down momentarily as he flipped it open. He didn’t expect to get a signal, so he wasn’t too disappointed when he didn’t. Since he’d turned on to the road, he’d been unable to call out, figuring that wherever he was, it was in a dead spot, a thought that didn’t make him comfortable at all.
Dropping the cell back into the console, Edwin looked up just in time to see a human-like silhouette on the road, illuminated by his headlights. "Shit!" The rare expletive left Edwin's lips as he sharply turned the steering wheel and hit the brakes.
threw an arm across his eyes at the glare, throwing himself to the
side as the vehicle rapidly got closer. Hitting the ground sent
lances of pain through him that made him cry out, and he gritted his
teeth as he felt himself roll into a small ditch near the road,
unable to pull himself out of it.
Fuck...on your feet, on your feet! You don't know who this is! His brain screamed at him, although his body wouldn't obey him.
The Cherokee slid a bit on the slick asphalt, spinning slightly before going off the road and finally stopping on the shoulder. His heart hammering in his chest, the dark-haired man quickly put the Jeep in park as it came to a stop. Closing his eyes, Edwin took a few deep breaths. He had only drawn the second breath when he remembered the vague man-shaped form in the fog. His dark eyes snapping open behind his glasses, he quickly unhooked the seatbelt and opened the door.
Hopping down from the vehicle, Edwin opened up the back passenger door and quickly located the flashlight and emergency first aid kit that he kept under the seat. Switching on the flashlight, he jogged back up the road a bit casting about with the light.
heard the vehicle as it skidded to a stop, and heard the door open
and close. Partially hidden in the ditch, bleeding and aching and
generally miserable, he tried again to force himself to his feet. He
made it as far as his knees when the flashlight's beam glanced across
his face, sending pain stabbing into his brain again and he toppled
forward, his torso on the road, his legs still in the ditch.
Edwin swore again, this time much more softly as he rushed over to where he’d seen the man fall. God, I can’t believe I hit him! I thought I missed him!
Dropping down to his knees on the damp ground next to the man, the dark-haired man quickly flicked the flashlight over the fallen man’s body quickly taking stock of his injuries with his trained eye. Setting the first aid kit down on the ground, he reached to roll the man over as gently as he could.
A softer cry escaped Billy as he felt hands on him, rolling him over onto his back, the awkward positioning of where he'd fallen pulling at his gashes, making them bleed and ache.
“Sorry,” Edwin bit his lip at the cry, once again using the flashlight to flick over the man’s upper body and face. “Damn . . .” He pushed his glasses back up on his nose before moving to open the first aid kit. “Just lie still.”
"No...time..." Billy's voice was hoarse with pain, but his tone was firm. "Can't...stay here..."
“I know. You need to get to a hospital. Just try to stay calm for a few minutes, okay? I’m going to bandage some of this up and then we’ll see about getting you to a doctor.” Edwin reached into the first aid kit, wishing that he’d had the forethought to grab his field med kit which was stored in the back of the Jeep along with his uniform and other luggage.
hospital...we can't stay here...." Billy said again, trying to
sit up. Internally, he was swearing a blue streak, frustrated he couldn't explain
to the other man about the creature that was pursuing him, one that
might break out of the fog any moment. His ears were trained on the
sounds around them, his eyes tracking the fog for any signs of
Edwin lightly put his hand on the other man’s chest as he gently tried to push him back down. “Look, I know you’re confused and hurt but it’s going to be okay. Just lay back down and it’ll only take a few minutes I promise.”
Billy's strength gave out on him as abruptly as he'd gathered it and he slumped back some. "No...time..." he groaned.
Edwin frowned as he put his fingers to the man’s neck to check his pulse. Despite the man’s injuries and apparent disorientation, his pulse was relatively strong and steady. Satisfied, the dark-haired man once again started to work on the worst of the injuries. “You’re gonna be okay. I’m an emergency med tech.”
Nodding, the former Billy said nothing, but trained his hearing on their surroundings. In spite of the fog, there should have been wildlife sounds, other vehicles...something. But there was nothing but silence. Then, the distant sound of breaking branches; it was an unnatural sound, but one he'd become all too familiar with. Oh shit....no! Not now! Billy took a shuddering breath and replied. "We have to leave...now...."
“You’re in shock, just try to calm down.” Edwin tried to soothe the man as he dabbed at one of the bleeding wounds, cleaning the dark blood away. “Just let me get you stabilized a little bit and then we’ll find the closest hospital." Edwin was intent on his work, oblivious to just about everything.
"You...don't understand..." Billy was ready to try and threaten the well-meaning man if necessary, when he heard a sound that sat somewhere between a roar and a howl, and felt his blood run cold. The Tyrant had found his scent again. Judging from the volume of the sound, he wasn't far away either.
“What the hell?” Edwin felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as his head snapped up at the sound. His dark eyes glanced around nervously. Great, just what we need – coyotes or feral dogs. He didn’t even have time to debate on what he should do before the sound was repeated, sending a shiver down Edwin’s spine.
Billy was struggling to get to his feet again, swearing as his hand went questing for his gun. He found it not far from where he'd fallen, and managed to roll onto his side, facing what he hoped was the direction of the noise. "We have to go...now....right now..." he hissed out between clenched teeth, trying to fight against the instinct that wanted to pass out.
Edwin finally noticed the eerie quiet stillness that had fallen around them, his chocolate brown eyes once again darting to the woods around them. The faint glow of the flashlight did nothing to illuminate the area which only made his feeling of dread grow.
Edwin almost jumped out of his skin when another branch crunched on the ground, the sound almost booming in the dark silence. Momentarily forgetting the man’s injuries, Edwin could only think of one thing – that whatever was out there wasn’t something that he wanted to meet up with. He didn’t know why, but all he could feel was impending danger. Leaving the first aid kit on the ground, he moved to slip his arm around his injured companion. “C’mon, my car isn’t far away.”
Billy nodded, relaxing only slightly now that the medic seemed to understand the severity of the situation. The sound of heavy footsteps was getting closer and he knew the Tyrant was only biding its time. It was much faster than the zombies he'd dealt with before, and this particular Tyrant seemed to be smarter than the others he'd encountered so far.
Edwin helped the man to his feet, his eyes widening slightly as they caught the faint gleam of the gun in his hand. He was really nervous now; he’d never even thought to check the man for weapons. But as the sound of something approaching them grew louder, he found that despite his dislike for them, he was glad that the man had it. Letting the man lean against him, he maneuvered them away from the ditch and back towards the Jeep, the vehicle still running and the doors open, the interior light shinning like a beacon in the eerie darkness.
Content to let Edwin lead them for the moment, Billy didn't once take his eyes off the fog, his gun held firmly in hand. The fresh course of adrenaline flooding through his system had washed away any threat of blackouts for the moment, and he was glad for that, too. Especially when he heard that hungry roar again, sounding like it was practically on top of them.
“Jesus H. Christ! What the hell is that?” Edwin couldn’t help shivering once again at the sound and he picked up the pace, practically dragging the man to the waiting vehicle. He all but pushed his companion into the back passenger seat before hurriedly slamming the door and climbing into the driver’s seat. Pulling the door closed, he slammed his hand down on the auto-lock, effectively locking all the doors before putting the Jeep in drive and all but slamming his foot on the gas pedal. The Jeep’s tires squealed a little, sending bits of pebbles and dirt into the air as Edwin turned the vehicle back onto the road.
"Tyrant...." Billy breathed, his eyes darting to the rear view mirror, another roar practically rattling the windows of the Jeep. "Just drive..."
“As fast as I can . . .” Edwin gave the Jeep more gas, not caring one bit about speed limits or what such jolting acceleration might be doing to his transmission. Keeping his dark eyes on the misty road ahead, he chanced a quick glance out of the rear view mirror; although he wasn’t sure he wanted to see what had made such a sound.
He could see nothing but a dark, humanoid shape behind them, bobbing up and down slightly as the creature was presumably running after them. Billy reached for his seatbelt, loosening it and starting to roll down the window. "Whatever you do...keep driving..." he murmured, turning in the seat to lean out the window.
“What are you going to do?” Edwin’s dark eyebrows quirked together as he glanced at his passenger in the mirror while he unconsciously gave the Jeep a bit more gas.
"Trying to slow the son of a bitch down..." Billy replied, his voice tight with pain as he leaned out the window and drew a bead on the massive figure that didn't seem to be losing ground.
Edwin nodded his head slightly, his eyes once more on the road in front of them. Seconds later, shots rang out as Billy pulled the trigger. One, two, three, the staccato bursts of sound echoed in the interior of the vehicle. The recoil sent new shocks of pain through Billy, but he didn't notice. The Tyrant behind them howled in pain or anger, Billy couldn't tell which. He fired again, and was rewarded when the dark figure seemed to shrink a little in the taillights. Please, please let me have actually hurt him...I need a god-damned rocket launcher.
couldn’t help wincing at each shot. Despite his years in the
military, he never could resign himself to the sound of weapon
fire. Although he disliked guns, he did have one, but only
because he was required to. The only time it was taken from its
locked storage box and fired was his yearly marksmanship test –
another requirement of his service. Glancing up briefly to look in
the rear view mirror, Edwin allowed himself a small sigh of relief as
the misshapen form seemed to fall away behind them.
Billy slumped a little against the frame of the door, shifting back into the cab again. "I think I slowed it down...."
“Look, Mister, I don’t know what’s going on and I’m not altogether sure I want to, but just who the hell are you and what the hell is going on? What was that thing?” Edwin’s usual mild manner was gone, the questions rushing out of him in a tone that was quite unlike him but it was mostly due to the cold hand of fear that still gripped him. While he wanted to stop the Jeep so that he could turn and look at the man as he answered him, the medic instead kept his eyes on the road, only glancing momentarily in the mirror at his passenger.
"That thing is called a Tyrant...it's an experimental bio-weapon, also called a B.O.W," Billy replied wearily, slumping in his seat as he kept an eye on the rear view mirror. "It's been following me for a few days now."
hands tightened on the steering wheel, one word popping into his mind
immediately – Cobra. Great. I’ve picked up a Cobra agent.
His dark eyes once again glanced up at the mirror, momentarily
scrutinizing the man behind him.
The only plus is that he’s injured, but he does have a weapon and might have more. Edwin didn’t like the train of thought that he found himself taking. Okay, Lifeline, he doesn’t know who you are so that’s a point in your favor. Maybe if I keep him talking I can find out more, at least until I can get someplace where I can get in touch with Joe Headquarters. “Okay . . .” Edwin tried to keep his tone as level as possible. “And you are?”
"L...Coen. Billy Coen," was the weary reply as the man flicked on the safety of his weapon and slumped back into the seat, swearing at himself again. He'd almost let his former rank slip out, a mistake of habit that he couldn't afford to make. Using his own name was risky enough, but he figured if Edwin somehow knew about him, he wouldn't expect a convict on the run to use his actual name.
Lifeline didn’t miss the hesitation in the man’s answer. “I’m Edwin – Edwin Steen.” He had thought of giving the man a false name, but had decided against it since the Jeep’s registration and his driver’s license all bore his real name. Plus it was very unlikely that the man would recognize it – the real names of the G.I. Joe team were a closely guarded secret to protect not only them, but their families as well.
"Nice t'meet you," Billy said, the response more mechanical than sincere at this point, turning around to glance out the rear window again, still nervous the Tyrant might still be following him.
Edwin glanced up in the mirror at Billy. “So Billy Coen, how did you get out here with something like that on your tail?”
"I found out about things the public isn't supposed to know about," Billy said simply. "That Tyrant was sent to make sure I couldn't tell anybody."
“What are you, like a spy or something? C.I.A.? F.B.I.?”
Billy could answer that, something slammed into the side of the Jeep,
throwing him off the seat and onto the floorboard between the back
seat and the front. He landed with a yelp.
Edwin grunted as he was
thrown back against the seat, his hands tightening on the steering
wheel, turning it frantically to keep it on the road.
Hauling himself forcefully back into the seat, gritting his teeth with renewed pain, Billy had just a moment to glimpse the Tyrant as it rammed into the vehicle again. In the few seconds he had before he was knocked to the floorboard again, he saw that his shots had done damage but hadn't come close to fatally wounding the creature.
Lifeline tried in vain to keep the Jeep on the road as it was hit. All it took was a five second glance at the passenger side of the vehicle to make the bile rise in his throat as he got his first true glimpse at what Billy had called a Tyrant. The creature Edwin saw in the window had once been human, that was easy to see, even though its skin had a grayish, corpse-like cast to it. Growing out the right side of its chest, and up and over its right shoulder, was a tumor-like growth that pulsed regularly, like a massive heart. The creature was built vaguely like a male, and though it was unclothed, there were no signs of any external genitalia that would indicate for sure. But that wasn't the Tyrant's oddest feature. That particular award went to the massively over-sized arm, ending in elongated, finger-like claws.
With another roar, the creature slammed into the side of the Jeep once again, sending it off the road where it spun around, the vehicle’s frame groaning in protest. Billy's head cracked against the passenger's door at the next impact, throwing up stars in his vision as he moaned. He lost his grip on his gun for only a moment, hand scrambling to find it as he tried not to think about the Tyrant, and let his brain shift to complete auto-pilot.
It only took a moment for Edwin to get his wits back as he drove his foot down on the gas pedal, the Jeep lurching forward as the tires squealed before the vehicle peeled out as if it were in a drag race. Billy forced himself back into the seat again, pleased when he saw the sudden start had confused the Tyrant, though only momentarily. It lurched toward them at a run, and Billy started rolling the window down again. All it would take, he knew, was a few well-placed shots to drop the creature, but those shots were hard to come by.
Never thought racing dune buggies in the desert with Dusty and Clutch would actually be useful. Lifeline kept his foot on the gas as the Jeep shot down the road, glancing in the mirror briefly at Billy. “I thought you killed it.”
"No...just slowed it down..." Billy replied through gritted teeth as he leaned out the window again, steeling himself as he saw the Tyrant barreling down on them again.
His gun rang out once.
The third shot slammed into the tumor-like growth coming from the Tyrant's shoulder, the first two finding a home in its chest and head. With a loud roar, the creature died, but momentum continued carrying it into the Jeep, and the Tyrant slammed hard into the vehicle. The resulting dead weight was enough to knock the vehicle off-balance, causing it to roll over onto its side, then upside down, throwing Billy around like a pebble in a cement mixer.
Edwin cried out as the vehicle rolled, his seatbelt pulling tightly against his chest and pinning him to the seat. As the Jeep came to a rest on its roof, the airbag in the steering wheel exploded outward, knocking his glasses from his face.
A few minutes passed, the only sound the Jeep’s engine, which despite the damage the vehicle had taken was still running before the airbag began to deflate. Scrabbling for the ignition, Edwin turned it off, leaving the two men in silence and darkness. “Billy?” Lifeline’s voice was soft. “You still back there?”
A groan was the only response.
“C’mon, talk to me.” Edwin’s eyes darted around nervously, his voice still low, afraid to draw the Tyrant’s attention to them.
There was another low groan before the Marine's voice floated back to Edwin. "If that fucker's...not dead...I'm going to strangle him..." Billy growled from where he was laying on the ceiling of the Jeep, hurting in more places than he could readily count.
“Where do you think it is?” Lifeline’s voice dropped even further until it was just above a whisper.
Shifting very slowly, Billy looked out a window. He could see the Tyrant, laying only a few feet away, face down in a pool of its own blood. Its outstretched claw nearly touching the window a few inches from his nose. "Dead..."
Edwin closed his dark eyes for a moment, letting out a shuttering breath of relief. His heart was hammering in his chest, and he took several deep breaths before he reopened his eyes. “Are you okay?”
"All things considered, peachy keen...."
The medic couldn’t help the very faint smile that tugged at his mouth as he reached to release the seatbelt. Once free, Edwin slid down to the roof of the overturned vehicle, settling next to Billy.
The former Marine was lying on his stomach, trying to ignore the throbbing that seemed to have turned into a head to toe ache. But as he heard Edwin settle next to him, he turned his head toward the other man in the darkness. Edwin closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the interior of the Jeep while took a few breaths, the adrenaline in his system still causing his heart to race in his chest.
"We...need to get moving...leave the Jeep behind if we have to....they'll come looking for it..."
Lifeline slowly nodded his head. “Just give me a minute okay? It’s not every day my life flashes before my eyes.”
"Sure..." The voice was soft as Billy felt the adrenaline that had been coursing through him in waves finally start to recede, leaving a bone-deep weariness in its place.
Edwin slowly opened his eyes as his head slid forward. “Look man, I don’t know what you’re mixed up in, but we need to report this to somebody. Local cops . . . somebody.”
"Yeah, sure, Doc. And what do you say? Hey, Officer, I just got chased down the road by a seven-foot creature that looks like Frankenstein on steroids. Trust me, they'd have us locked up in a padded cell so fast it'd make your head spin..."
Lifeline made a slight face at Billy in the dark. “And somebody stumbling across an overturned vehicle with that – that thing,” the medic gestured towards the outside road where the Tyrant’s body was; “isn’t going to raise some eyebrows?”
"Not once the clean-up crew gets here..." Billy said wearily. "They'll get rid of both the Jeep and the Tyrant, erase any traces...including witnesses, if they can find them."
“So what are we supposed to do? I don’t know about you, but I’m supposed to be somewhere and if I don’t show up, people will definitely notice.”
"For the moment, we get the hell outta Dodge. We don't wanna be here when that clean-up crew shows...beyond that..." Billy said, his voice catching as he shifted to his knees, "I don't know...." Fatigue was catching up with him, making his movements sluggish, only the lingering sense of urgency to be away from that place before Umbrella caught up with him kept him trying to move.
Edwin turned and reached behind him into the jumble that had been the Jeep’s storage area. “I don’t know what’s around this area. I haven’t been up here before.” Working on touch alone, he quickly located the large duffel bag that contained his Joe uniform, field med kit and weapon storage box. Pulling the bag over the seat, he settled it between himself and Billy and unzipped it. After feeling around for a few moments, he pulled out what he’d been searching for – his spare pair of glasses. Opening the hard shell case, he quickly settled the metal frames on his face.
“We might want to take anything useful with us.” Edwin sat forward a bit, his hands feeling around on the roof of the jeep. “I had a cell phone if I can find it.”
Leaving Edwin to search for what he could, Billy tried the doors. The driver rear door was jammed shut by the abuse the vehicle had taken, but the passenger side opened without too much difficulty and Billy crawled out of the vehicle, collapsing outside as soon as he was free of it.
Edwin blindly searched what was now the floor of the vehicle for the phone but with no luck. With a defeated sigh, he turned his attention back to the storage area, feeling around in the darkness for what he sought. After several minutes, he was stowing away several bottles of water into the duffel bag next to him. Crawling back over to the front of the Jeep, he opened the glove box, the items within falling to the floor. It took him another quick search to locate the small folder containing the vehicle’s registration and insurance information. This he tossed behind him into the duffel. No point in making it any easier for who ever they are. He also took a few moments to find the map that he had been using before he’d gotten lost and added that to the bag as well.
Patting the pockets on the light jacket that he wore, Edwin made sure that his wallet was still with him before zipping the duffel bag back up and sliding out of the Jeep to join Billy. If not for the faint illumination of the headlights, which were still on, Lifeline would have landed on the prone man. “Billy?” The medic knelt down next to the wounded man.
"I'll...be fine..." Billy replied, pushing himself back up until he could get to his knees. "Just...gimme a sec..." He'd reopened one of his wounds, he could feel it. But that lingering sense of urgency drove him on, just like it had been driving him for the last twenty-four hours. It sent him pushing himself well beyond his limits, and now that there was another person to worry about, it was only screaming at him more loudly. But for all his physical endurance, and all his strength, Billy was just about at the end of his rope.
Edwin nodded his head slowly, his dark eyes traveling over the other man and taking in his near exhausted state. He was about to suggest that they rest there for a bit so that he could take care of Billy’s injuries but then his eyes flicked to the body of the creature that had pursued them and he couldn’t help but shudder and reconsider. Unzipping the duffel bag, he reached in and took out one of the bottles of water and opened it. “Here, take a few sips.” Lifeline held the bottle out to Billy.
Taking the bottle in a hand that trembled only slightly, Billy nodded his thanks and took a sip. The water was warm, but tasted like heaven after running so long. "Since we came from opposite directions, I'll ask you. Are there any little motels or anything back the way you came? Somewhere we can hide out and maybe patch me up?" He asked quietly.
The medic thought for a moment before nodding his head. “Before I turned off the main highway and got lost, yeah I think I remember seeing a couple.”
“How far back, do you figure?”
Lifeline sighed, “I don’t know maybe an hour back or so. I’m not really sure; I kind of lost track of time once I got on this road, but it’ll be a bit of a hike on foot anyway.”
Billy nodded, taking a final sip from the water bottle and handing it back to Edwin before forcing himself to his feet. He wavered a little, then exhaled a soft breath and let his hand drop to one of the deeper gashes in his hip, pressing his jeans more tightly to it, to let the denim try to staunch the bleeding again. "Then let's get going."
“Wait a minute.” Edwin recapped the bottle and tossed it back into the duffel before reaching in and pulling out his field med kit. Flipping it open, he took out a large package of gauze. “At least let me do something about that,” he said motioning to crimson stain on Billy’s hip. “Getting somewhere safe won’t do you any good if you bleed to death before you get there.” Lifeline rose to his feet.
The former Marine almost protested, but caught himself and nodded; Edwin was right, and he knew it. The Tyrant wasn't chasing him anymore, and in the stillness, it would be easy to hear anyone or anything approaching long before it reached them. "All right..."
Tearing open the package, the medic removed the large rectangle of gauze. Reaching out, he lifted the hem of Billy’s shirt and pushing aside the tattered denim, swearing softly as the wound was revealed in the dim light. Pressing the gauze to the glistening darkness, he held it with one hand while kneeling down to retrieve a roll of tape from the kit. It only took him a few moments to quickly secure the makeshift bandage to his satisfaction. Replacing the tape, he stowed the kit back in the back and zipped it up. Settling the olive green canvas on his shoulder, he turned back to Billy. “All set.”
The Marine hadn't made a sound while Edwin was working, save a soft hiss when the gauze had been pressed into place. He put his hand protectively over the bandage and nodded. "Well keep off the road, but near it. I'd rather not be seen if Umbrella comes in the same direction you did..."
“Gotcha.” Lifeline adjusted the duffel a little before starting towards the woods that edged the road.