A Rose by Any Other Name

A Break from the Madness

Miranda Harley sat anxiously awaiting Albert Wesker's return. She wasn't sure what had her so on edge, but her insides were screaming. Impatiently, she tapped her knee. If she could just see him, perhaps the feelings of uneasiness would dissipate.

When the door opened to the basement room Miranda looked up expectedly. Wesker's eyes fell on her and Riley sitting side by side on the cot and he frowned hatefully. Miranda looked down at the floor and her stomach dropped. It wasn't hard to tell that he was still furious with them. After all these years she should have known better than to think he'd be anything but angry.

Jacks stood in the doorway, scowling at Riley. "Well… the King of Zombies is still alive. What a wonderful surprise." Confused, Miranda glared at him. It didn't make any sense for Jacks to act this way.

"Glad you made it back, Jacks. Always a pleasure." Riley acknowledged him with a smug smile. Jacks snorted and took the gun from his waistband and tossed it at them. Miranda reached out and caught it effortlessly. Wesker frowned again. "You look like a super model without your shirt, Jack-o."

"Who asked you smart-ass?" Jacks shot back.

"You're the…" Riley started.

"Quiet!" Wesker shouted. Jacks scowled again and moved toward the row of monitors slapping the gray haired man, Basin, on the back.

Before Miranda and Riley realized he'd moved at all, Wesker towered over them. Leaning down, he seized Miranda's upper arm, squeezing hard. "Listen to me both of you." He hissed. "There will be no more running around this city as you please. I will not stand for it." He shook Miranda aggressively. "The next time you two decide to make a trip into the city for any reason, I will leave you to die. Am I understood?" The two of them nodded simultaneously. "I've wasted enough time and men for this, Harley. We will not search for that girl, no matter how much you insist that we do. I do not care about that child. I will never care about that child." For a split second Wesker turned away and Miranda thought she heard him mumble something like: you never gave me the chance to. "This mission is cut and dry. We're here to collect the G-virus. We are not here to save lives. Grow up and stop being a fool, Harley. This isn't about saving lives anymore it's about destroying them." Behind him, Jacks nodded in agreement.

"Who asked you smart-ass?" Riley snapped. Wesker let go of her arm and Miranda turned her head. She wouldn't let any of them see that he'd upset her.

"He's right. What are the lives of this pathetic town worth anyway? They were all slaves to Umbrella and they got their just rewards. No need to save any of them when they wouldn't even save themselves." The room was solemn as he spoke. Jacks sat down in a chair and propped his feet up on the console in front of him.

"What about the children?" Miranda could hold back no longer.

"What about them?" Jacks sneered at her.

"Do they deserve this? They're innocent, Jacks. Sherry is innocent." Miranda was on the verge of tears but pride got the better of her. They would not see her cry. Not here.

"No child is innocent, Ms. Harley. The sins of the father are descended upon the child." Jacks had turned to look at her, his eyes gleaming.

"Enough!" Wesker shouted suddenly. Everyone in the room turned to look at him. He frowned and inclined his head toward Jacks. "I want a status report on the remaining humans and one on the monsters roaming in the city." Jacks took out a hunting knife with a razor sharp blade and began cleaning his fingernails with it.

"There's two different Tyrants running loose." Miranda said softly. "There's the standard Mr. X and then there's Nemesis." She paused and looked at Wesker. "While the X prototype isn't all that bright, he is effective in the capture of human life forms. The Nemesis however is a different subject. He was genetically enhanced to go after the first target he is shown and will not stop until he retrieves it…"

"That's the way he was originally designed," Basin interrupted. "But now it seems that he goes after his target with the intent to infect then destroy. Even if he is injured, he still moves like a machine in order to complete his mission." He pointed to a large monitor on the south side of the room currently displaying Jill Valentine firing shots into the Nemesis. She was having little success in felling the monster. "The X prototype is not the same either. It seems that he no longer captures life forms, but kills them."

"That doesn't make any sense. Why would they do that?" Miranda questioned. The Umbrella she'd known was developing these creatures as a safety measure to retrieve prisoners of war without the cost of human life. At least…that's what she had been developing them for.

"It's all about the war, baby. The man with the most advance weaponry wins. Don't you know that?" Jacks looked up from cleaning his nails and scowled at her.

Miranda looked toward Wesker, searching his face to see if Jacks was right. But with his dark glasses on she couldn't read his eyes.

Riley patted her leg. "Don't think about it, M. Not everybody worries about their weaponry." He glared at Jacks.

"Not the ones that don't have it." Jacks cracked. Wesker slammed his hand down on the console in front of him and Jacks jumped.

"Enough!" He nearly screamed the words. "Give me the status report on the humans alive in the city."

Basin hastily pulled up a screen on his computer. "Four of the remaining seven members of Umbrella's Bio Hazard Countermeasure team are holed up in the clock tower. Their communications suggest that they are waiting for a helicopter to come and pick them up." Basin rubbed his hands together nervously. "Jill Valentine it seems has joined hands with the other three members of the U.M.B.C. including that hot shot mercenary rogue, Carlos Oliveira."

"Of the police force," a man with green hair continued. "There's one person still alive. His name is Leon Kennedy. First day on the job too. It seems that he's searching through the police station looking for survivors. There's a girl there too."

Wesker raised an eyebrow. "What about her?"

"Her name is Claire Redfield." Green hair answered.

"Redfield?" Wesker and Miranda chorused. They looked at each other and then back at Green Hair.

"Yeah…Redfield...She's been blasting through the police station as well. It seems that she's searching for someone." Green Hair glared at Jacks who was leaned over the console typing something on the keyboard.

"Claire Redfield." He said loudly, his voice dared anyone to interrupt. "Nineteen years old…College girl…Youngest daughter of Senator John Redfield…Older brother by the name of Chris." He sat back and put his arms behind his head. "It's all right there in the government file boys. Learn your codes." Basin glared at him as well.

"Keep a watch on that Countermeasure team. If there's even an inkling that a helicopter is coming for them, shoot it down. Jill Valentine will not leave this city alive. Use the mercenary to get to her if you have to. Send Ada out to keep an eye on Kennedy." Wesker barked. It was very obvious he had had enough of the bickering. "Ignore Claire Redfield. She's as weak as her brother." Miranda opened her mouth to argue with him, but thought better of it as she saw him cracking his knuckles. "Anything else?"

"Chief Irons is still alive for the time being. That won't last long." Riley spoke up. "Ada says there's a reporter named Ben Bertolucci locked up in one of the cells in the parking garage. He says that he knows some secrets concerning Umbrella. She'll take care of him, of course."

"What the hell?" Jacks had leaned forward again and was staring hard at a monitor.

"What?" Wesker stepped behind him and was staring over his shoulder. Miranda came up next to him and stood on tiptoe to see.

"There's a little girl in the police station. She's in the ventilation shafts." Jacks said in surprise.

"Sherry?" Miranda's voice was shaking. "Is it Sherry?"

"Leave it be, Harley. Turn that off, Jacks. Now!" Wesker bellowed. Jacks did as he was told without arguing. "This mission is simple gentlemen. We get what we came for. We get the combat data we need and we get out. Anyone who wants to make it more complicated than that can go outside and negotiate with the bio-monsters."

Miranda turned away and walked through the door to the restroom, slamming it behind her. The sound resonated in the silence.

Albert Wesker sat alone on the far side of the Surveillance room and rested his eyes. It was mercifully quiet now that Jacks and Riley had retreated to their corners to sleep. Miranda had stayed in the restroom and he'd heard nothing from there in over an hour. More than likely she had cried herself to sleep. He was right about what he'd told them and she knew it. There was no sense in jeopardizing an entire mission for one little girl.

"So what happens now, Captain?" Jacks sat gazing at him with dark green eyes glittering. "The G-virus samples have been destroyed."

"I'm aware of that, Jacks." Wesker said, pushing his dark glasses up the bridge of his nose. "But there's more to it than that. Birkin would not have just placed all the samples in one briefcase. He would have been smart enough to make another and hide it."

"All we have to do is find out where." Riley sat up and stretched.

"We?" Jacks snorted. "There is no "we", smart-ass. There's an "us" but not a "you"."

"So technical for a soldier. Did they teach you that in finishing school, pretty boy?" Riley shot back.

"Think so…" Jacks stood and was stalking toward Riley anger dancing in his eyes.

"Silence!" Wesker hissed. "I've had enough of the bickering. You two sound just like a couple of women." That said, he closed his eyes again and heard Jacks sit back on his cot. After a long, blessed moment of quiet, Riley began shuffling around. Wesker opened one eye and watched him thoughtfully. He was running his fingers across the open wound in his leg.

"It doesn't even hurt. That's strange." He said aloud. Jacks ignored him.

"It's dead skin, Davis. It's not supposed to hurt." Wesker told him.

"Won't it rot and fall off?" Riley looked disgusted.

"Not necessarily. The antidote I gave you reversed the effects the T-virus was having on your body. However, it was not a strong enough dose to cure the cellular functions of that area. Any stronger of a dose would have killed you." Wesker laid one leg over the other and crossed his arms. "The only problem I foresee is the fact that with your bone being exposed as it is, you are highly susceptible to breakage. It would be in your best interest for us to remove that entire leg."

"Wait…No. I don't think my best interest agrees with that." Riley's eyes shot up alarmed. Jacks snickered.

"I don't see any other choice, Riley. There's not a medical surgeon on our team. The bone in that leg will break within the next few days unless you get something in there to hold the flesh together." Wesker shrugged. "Sorry." Riley hung his head and sighed loudly.

"Oh for heaven's sake, smart-ass." Jacks stood and took out his knife the blade glinting in the low lighting.

"What are you planning to do with that?" Riley cried.

"It won't hurt too much." Jacks told him. Wesker raised an eyebrow, but pretended to look uninterested. Reaching down below Riley's cot, Jacks pulled out a leather jacket. He'd noticed it lying there when he and Wesker had first arrived.

Taking his knife he cut the back and removed the insides. The standard operative jackets were lightweight, but filled with plenty of insulation. "Hold still." Kneeling in front of Riley, he placed a small swatch of the leather on top of the bone. Riley frowned and stared at Jacks as if he were another zombie chewing on his legs.

"What in the crap are you…?" Riley stuttered. Jacks began removing strings from the jacket. When he'd finished, he took out a long needle from his inside pocket and threaded the string through.

Wesker almost smiled. Jacks was a brilliant boy, there was never any denying that. He was very pleased with him. Not only was he a brilliant soldier with little conscious, but he also showed knowledge in fields that Wesker would never have imagined. He'd made the right choice.

Jacks stuffed the wound with the insulation, the needle clenched between his teeth. "What are you doing?" Riley asked again, his voice high pitched in worry. Jacks took the needle and viciously stabbed it into the cot.

"What does it look like?" Jacks frowned at him.

"But why? Don't you hate me?" Riley stared at him.

"Of course I hate you. But I hate you worse with a limp." Jacks snorted.

"Why leather?"

"Because it's the closest thing to your skin…This may hurt…" Jacks took the needle and jabbed it into Riley's leg. Riley bit his lip and growled. Laying another leather swatch over the insulation, Jacks began closing up the wound. "Now don't be stupid and get this wet. You do and the leather will shrink. Then, you'll never get it off."

"How old are you?" Riley found that for some reason he needed to know more about Jacks. After all, he'd just recently showed up at the HCF headquarters and although Wesker seemed to know him well, Riley knew nothing of him.

"Old enough to kick your ass into oblivion." Jacks said simply.

"Have any girlfriends?" Riley interjected.

"Why should you care?" Jacks looked up from sewing and narrowed his eyes. The two of them sat in silence for a moment before Jacks continued about his work.

"So, if you're such a ladies man. Give me some tips with Ada." Riley nudged him.

Quicker than Riley could respond Jacks had grabbed his arm squeezed unmercifully. "You stay away from her, Davis. She's trouble."

"Maybe so. But she's also gorgeous." Riley told him.

Jacks threw his arm down and continued working on sewing in the leather. "Whatever you say, smart-ass."

"So, why do you hate Umbrella?" Riley asked, never missing a beat. "I mean, I've heard a lot of stories, but I've never heard yours."

"It's none of your concern." Jacks said simply. He bit off the remaining string and threw it on the floor. He and Wesker exchanged glances but neither said anything else, much to Riley's irritation.

Without another word Wesker stood and nodded to Jacks. Jacks picked up his shirt and followed. "Since you and I are wide awake I think it's time we were on our way."

"Be careful," Riley told them almost embarrassed that he had said that. "And Jacks…" Jacks turned to look at him frowning. "Thanks."

"I only did it so I wouldn't have to hear you whining anymore." Jacks shrugged and left, leaving Wesker behind. Gingerly, Miranda opened the door to the restroom and peeked around the doorframe.

Wesker turned suddenly looking at the restroom door before his eyes rested on Riley. Although Miranda did not understand, Riley nodded. "Safe and sound, Wesker. Safe and sound." Wesker nodded back and disappeared into the darkness of the open door. Once again, Miranda did not catch the semblance of what had just happened.

"That little girl was wearing some type of necklace." Jacks said as he equipped himself with a set of sub machine guns and extra ammunition. The two of them were standing at the shattered remains of the hotel's front door. "What you said about Birkin…would it be possible for him to have hidden the last G-virus sample in his daughter's pendant?"

"You think that was his daughter?" Wesker asked. Jacks nodded and finished fastening his AK-47 to the strap on his back. He'd made the strap so the gun would be easily accessible when he needed it to be. Wesker took out his own gun and checked the clip.

"Desert Eagle .50AE." Jacks whistled. "That's a pretty smooth gun."

"Yes." Wesker said slipping it back into its holster. "I'll send Ada Wong to check on the girl. You find the four U.M.B.C.S. members in the clock tower and kill them. I'll meet up with you later and give you further instructions." Without another word, Jacks headed off into the darkness the rain dropping like a curtain behind him.

Albert Wesker knew that for the rest of the mission to go successfully he'd have to keep an eye on Ada Wong. She had been acting strange and in his gut he knew that he'd have to watch her and see if she decided to betray them. If she did, he would have no problem killing her.

"Wesker? You there?" Riley's voice boomed from the com-link.

"What?" Wesker spoke harshly. It wasn't as if he were angry, he was just annoyed with everyone at the moment. It was better that he was working alone.

"I just wanted to tell you thanks for saving my life." Riley said quietly. "I owe you."

"I know." Wesker told him. Ending the transmission he looked back out at the rainy street. This city was covered in death, he'd been able to smell it since the first moment they'd arrived and if the truth were told, he'd smelled it for years.

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