Chapter 6: The Message
I awake the next day to the sounds of Alexis getting up and about. Bolting upright, I startle her as she enters the room.
"Oh, Alan! Did I startle you? I’m sorry."
"No, it’s alright." I assure her, "I’m just…I don’t know, kind of tense lately."
The phone rings and I jump.
Alexis giggles. "Boy, you’re not kidding, are you?" She picks up the phone. "Hello?"
"Alexis? We need you and Alan down at the station a.s.a.p. A situation has come up." Jill’s voice churns at the other end of the line. She doesn’t sound panicked, just…anxious.
I wonder what could be the problem.
Alexis frowns. "Sure thing, Jill. We’re on our way." Then she clicks the phone down. "Jill wants us down at the station. Something’s come up."
I stand and stretch. "Alrighty then. I’ll just need a moment to stop by my car and change."
She gives me an odd look.
"I don’t mean I’m going to change in my car," I explain quickly, feeling a bit embarrassed about the way that came out, "I always carry some extra clothes with me when I go on trips and stuff. It’ll only be a minute."
Minutes later I am changed into a fresh set of clothes and walking up to the B.P.D. once more, feeling rather stupid for not thinking ahead last night. Now I am wearing a black shirt with denim jeans to go with my custom black boots.
And is black practically the only color I own? Seriously, I do not know what is up with Weskers and black attire. Seems to me even my mother and sister wore it quite often. I sigh, thinking of all the dark and dreary colors in my suitcase in the trunk of my car. When I get the chance, I am going to have to do a little shopping.
Naturally, I am wearing my sunglasses again. Sometime in the future I really must find something else to do about my eyes. People who don’t already know are going to start wondering; especially on overcast days and at night.
There is much commotion the instant I step into the door. Stacy points to the direction of the door on her left--the one the S.T.A.R.S. members came through yesterday--so fast her arm knocks over a stack of papers in the process.
The man to her right--a local police officer--nods in unspoken agreement. He is trying to appear calm, but I can smell the fear on him. He is not overly afraid of me, but there is some definite uneasiness. Someone has told him something about me.
"Go all the way down the hall, last door to your left." Stacy instructs, "The S.T.A.R.S. are expecting you."
I hurry on through the door without even bothering to thank her and reach the last left-hand door at a quick pace. S.T.A.R.S. Office, it reads.
I fling it open.
Everyone is crowded around something in the right-hand corner of the room. They all jump when I enter.
Jill is the first to speak. "Alan, do you know anyone by the name of Clarice Wesker?"
My heart skips a beat. "That would be my mother. Why? Has something happened?"
I rush over to the group and make my way through to see a computer screen displaying my mother’s name. Several times.
Claire frowns from beside me. "She keeps trying to get through, but every time we try to accept the feed it keeps asking us for the password."
"She keeps asking for the password," Chris corrects, "We didn’t program this computer to behave this way. Watch."
Chris moves the mouse and clicks on ‘feed’. A window pops up.
"See what we mean," Carlos blurts out, "This user has requested the input of a password before this task can be performed."
Rebecca’s eyes light up. "Do you know the password?"
"Yes." I make my way to the keyboard and start typing.
"Um, just out of curiosity, what is the password?" Steve muses.
"My birthday. October 2, 1980. 10-2-80. One, zero, two, eight, zero. We use it for almost everything."
"I see," Barry grumps, "And who all knows this password?"
"Just my family." I hit ‘enter.’
Another window pops up that says: checking password…approved! Connecting to audio…
"Gee, you just turned twenty-three a couple of weeks ago!" Rebecca comments.
"Uh huh." I agree.
Connected! A buzzing radio sound emits through the speakers.
I snatch the hooked-up walky-talky or radio thingy--I’m not really sure what it’s called--and press in the button. The static goes dead.
"This is Alan." I say into the device, "Mom, are you there?" I release the button and the static builds up again. There is a tense silence.
Then, "Alan! Thank God. I was at my wit’s end trying to contact someone. Then someone here mentioned a new S.T.A.R.S.…" Her words are rushed and tired, "Listen. Spade and I are in trouble. We’re being held hostage near the Sambabwia village in Kenya, Africa. It’s only a few miles from a major river…I’m not sure which one. This company called Acid Rain has us…they’re even worse than Umbrella! Smarter, too. They have all kinds of monsters and super-viruses…I’m not sure what they’re going to do to us, but I don’t get the feeling it will be a quiet evening at the movies. Our last name is like a curse word over here! And the things they’re talking about doing would make Raccoon City look like a picnic…"
"Hold on," I say, "Do you have any idea which building you’re in?"
"Um…I think it’s a mansion of some kind, but there are labs down here. We’ve been here for about three months now…Uh-oh. Someone’s coming! I’ve gotta go!"
The reception goes all staticky once more, and I know she will not be coming on again so I turn it off.
Feeling all eyes on me, I face the crowd. "Looks like I’m going to Africa." I state matter-of-factly, "I can’t leave my mother and sister in the hands of those madmen."
"I don’t blame you." Carlos pipes.
"Do you need to borrow a chopper?" Chris asks.
I shake my head. "Chopper’s too slow. I just need a phone. There is an airstrip in this city, right? I thought I saw one somewhere on the way in."
"There is." Jill agrees
"Steve, could you find Alan the phone?" Chris orders.
Steve throws a hand to his head in a salute. "Sir! Yes, Sir! Right away, Sir!"
Everyone has to chuckle a bit. Except Barry. I don’t think the guy ever laughs.
"This isn’t the army, Steve." Chris laughs, "You don’t have to address me as ‘Sir’ all the time. You are to call me Supreme Captain Redfield!"
Steve grabs the phone and hurries over to me; his eyes on Chris the whole time. "Whatever, Rocket Man!" He snickers, dropping a cordless into my hand.
Rebecca has a huge smirk on her face. "You should drop the ‘Supreme’ part. The rest is hard enough to believe!"
"She’s right," Alexis smirks, "you had a heck of a time dealing with my mother."
"It wasn’t exactly like she was a normal person." Chris points out brightly, "She even gave Wesker a run for his money."
I nod my agreement. "And me. That woman can hit!"
"So far as we know," Chris chimes, "Alexia is still alive. Hey! Maybe that’s the answer to our problem! Turn her loose on Wesker. Those two will be at each other’s throats in no time!"
I punch in the number to a special department of the Iowa HCF division.
The line is answered on the first ring, "Hello? W.."
"Roy?" I say, recognizing his voice and cutting to the chase, "This is Alan. I need you to bring that shiny black jet to Bayview, Oregon, a.s.a.p."
"Gee, I don’t know if I can do that…" Roy’s voice quavers on the other end of the line, "Wesker ordered that the jet be moved at no costs, even by you. And the last person that went against Wesker’s orders…"
I do not have time to debate this. Every second counts when people I love are involved.
"Roy, listen." I growl, allowing my voice to take on a more sinister, dangerous tone, "I’m a Wesker too, if you recall. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I share the same super-virus as my dad? I could rip out your throat and leave you to bleed to death in your own guts just as easily as he can. So how about a little respect, hm?"
I ignore the surprised stares from my comrades and tap my fingers against someone’s desk.
When Roy’s voice next comes on, it is thin and shaky. "…Yes…Yes of course, Alan! I didn’t mean to…erm…imply I didn’t respect you. You want the jet in Bayview, Oregon? You’ll have it in Bayview! When would you like it?"
"Immediately." I inform my old acquaintance, "Today. I think my jet will be able to make it here in three hours, tops. Let’s see…" I glance to the clock, "it’s eight-thirty here right now. See if you can have it here by eleven-thirty our time."
Roy is very agreeable. "…Right! Right of course! Eleven-thirty…you’ve got it!"
"And Roy," I add, just as a precaution, "Do make sure that I am not disappointed."
"Certainly!" He pipes, "Um…is it safe to hang up now, or will you come over and gouge out my eyes if I do?"
I sigh. "Go ahead."
We hang up.
Everyone is staring at me. Oh. My threats.
"Don’t take it to heart." I murmur, waving a hand dismissively, "HCF contact. Fear is the only thing some of those weasels understand. You don’t have to mean it, you just have to sound like you mean it."
"So you would never really…rip throats out?" Rebecca pries nervously, backing up a pace from me.
I force a grim grin. "Of course not. Not unless I absolutely had to."
"Oh, that’s a relief," Barry mutters sarcastically, "for a moment there you were starting to sound like Wesker."
"Sometimes I have to." I confess bitterly.
Judging from Barry’s glare, I am going to be on his list for a long time. And I know that most of it is because I happen to look like my father.
Great. Thanks a lot, Dad.
I can’t blame Barry for being upset about his family. But I don’t think he is handling it very well. The guy needs to get out and get involved in some activities to help ease the pain or something. Deciding he hates me is not going to bring his family back or make him feel any better.
Alexis finds her way to my side. "Hey, I know what it’s like." She murmurs, "You would not believe how many people have mistaken me for my mother. And as far as friends go, Mom was in short supply. After the HCF incident, Chris and Claire adopted me to live with them. Ironic, isn’t it?"
"My life has just been one long trip into irony." I state.
The next two and a half hours are spent sitting around S.T.A.R.S. and swapping stories while I wait for my jet. With the exception of Barry, I get along great with everyone on the team.
Rebecca is peppy and cheerful. She likes to gab, and has such a cute, innocent face. She asked to see my eyes, and before I knew it everyone in the room was gawking at them.
Steve has quite the sense of humor and an ego the size of Texas. He has to be the hero of every story. During this time I hear of his engagement to Claire and wish them luck with their soon-to-be wedding.
Carlos, I learn, is the leader of Bravo Team. He has a sort of South American accent and is very knowledgeable in the field of weaponry. A very friendly type, he seems to have his head on straight. I hear he used to be with Umbrella’s countermeasure service one time. I can tell by the way he talks and acts that he used to have a thing for Jill, even though he tries to hide it. I’d be willing to bet he’s a little resentful towards Chris. But I have to give him credit for keeping cool about it. He is one of the most laid-back people I have met.
By talking to Jill, it has become obvious to me that everything I know about her is correct: she is very smart and cunning. Although she does seem to have a healthy emotional side. She is friendly enough, but I do not get the impression she knows quite how to take me.
Claire I love like a sister. She has a lot of faith in me, as I do in her. I would guard her with my life. I’ve seen a bit of a wild side to her, and I admire that. My own wild side is something I don’t think I’d like to tap into. Claire’s definitely a rebel, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Barry’s feelings towards me go without saying. All he can do during this time is make wisecracks comparing me to my father; which I don’t appreciate. I’d tried to like him at first, but now I find I just can’t. He is too much of a Gloomy Gus who never has anything nice to say about anyone or anything.
Chris is almost the same as I remember him, though a little more hardened. I can tell by his body language that, although he still considers me a friend, he is a little angry and upset with me. And I know that about ninety-nine percent of it has to do with my whole reaction to my father. Though he is not downright rude to me, he makes it pretty clear that he wishes I would have sided with him on the whole wage-war-on-Wesker deal. I almost feel like I’m walking on eggshells around him.
Alexis…she’s something else. I have never felt as strongly connected to anyone as I do her. It’s like we relate in everything. She seems to know exactly what I’m going through and exactly how I’m feeling; and always just what to say. It’s creepy how well we relate.
I also must admit that I feel a romantic flare for her. Sometimes when we touch it’s hard to resist the urge to give her a kiss.
This is perhaps the mother of all ironies--Weskers and Ashfords generally get along like Montagues and Capulets. Shakespeare almost could’ve been writing about our families--minus the viruses, of course.
Sherry is away babysitting for the Redfields again--I guess they pay her pretty good--and, thankfully, Natasha appears to have dropped off the planet. Nobody’s heard from her since she announced earlier this morning that she was going to go shopping. Hopefully she is going to go home back to whichever city she came from. Now that she’s found out what she needed to know, I can see no reason for her to hang around the Bayview S.T.A.R.S.
About fifteen minutes before I intend to leave for the airstrip, I excuse myself to go outside and get some fresh air. I go around the building and stand with my back turned about a hundred yards from the almost closed window where the rest of the S.T.A.R.S. are still holding their conference.
They would be surprised to know that I can hear every word they are saying just as clear as if they were standing only a few feet away from me.
Without turning around, I know that more than one of them are looking out the window.
"Are you thinking what I’m thinking?"I hear Jill ask, though I cannot tell without looking who the question was directed at.
"Yeah." Chris agrees.
"We should go with him." Claire joins in, "I mean, to rescue his family from the evil clutches of a new virus company. It’ll be just like old times."
"Too much like old times." Chris sighs.
"Hmph." Barry, of course, "Alan’s superhuman. He does not need our help to rescue his family. Besides, we have work to do right here in good old Bayview."
I sniff the crisp autumn air and try to appear at ease. Fall is here, and I smell winter right around the corner.
Well, winter and a few other things. There are times when it does not pay to have a heightened sense of smell.
"Hey, has anyone else noticed that without Alan around we’re all sitting ducks for Wesker?" Steve notes, "I mean, Wesker didn’t seem too hot on the idea of fighting his equally-powered son, right?"
"If it weren’t for him our children would be dead." Jill sighs.
"You have to admit," Claire adds, "Regardless of how we feel about it, the fact is that Alan is much stronger and faster than we are."
"Doesn’t make him better than us!" Barry, again.
"Maybe not." Claire agrees, "But it does make him better able to stand against Wesker."
"That’s not going to work, Claire!" Chris huffs, exasperated, "I didn’t get the impression that Alan hates his father. He told me flat out he would have nothing to do with killing him. I can’t understand it! I can’t understand why he insists on protecting him so much! I mean, yeah. That is his father. But his father is a cold-hearted killer! Can’t he see that? Wesker is like a dog with rabies. He needs to be put down. For good."
They are silent for a moment.
I gaze off into the distance, but I am not really looking at anything in particular. I wait for them to say more.
"My parents are also cold-hearted killers." Alexis adds softly after a moment.
"Yeah, but right now your parents are not hunting us down like animals in some sick, twisted game!" Chris fumes, "I don’t know what to do! The time we need Alan the most he bails out on us."
"He wants to save his family." Carlos rectifies.
"Yeah, well who’s going to save us from his family?" Chris snaps, voice thick with anger and frustration, "I’ve been up against Wesker before. Not even a rocket launcher would do against him. He moves like the Flash and he hits like the Hulk. We have no way of knowing where he’ll strike and when, and it’s not like he’s going to wait until we’re all bunched together and waiting with guns. The way I understand, he has highly developed senses and we’re not likely to catch him off-guard. Other than Alexia, the only other person I know coming anywhere near that kind of power is Alan. I wanted to believe we could do this on our own. But the more I think about it, trying to defeat Wesker without Alan would be a lot like trying to kill a pack of zombies with only a pairing knife. We’d need more than a little luck. And until then, not one of us is safe. Well, except for Sherry, maybe."
"Maybe Wesker will go to Africa and help free his family." Rebecca suggests.
"Yeah," Steve snorts, "As far as we know, Wesker doesn’t even know his family’s in danger. What are we gonna do, tell him while he’s tearing our guts out to do the decorating with?"
"Assuming he doesn’t think we’re just making it all up to save our own butts with." Claire adds helpfully.
"Hey." Rebecca cuts in, "Maybe Alan isn’t taking our side because we haven’t really given him a reason to."
"What do you mean?" Steve asks.
"Welll…" Rebecca drawls, "I think he can sense that some of us don’t really trust him just because he’s Wesker’s son. Not only that, but the good side of his family is in trouble an we’re all ‘oh, you need to borrow a chopper?’ like it’s not even a big deal. But he made sure we were safe. I know he’s not now, but who are we to make him choose between us and his family? Don’t you think that maybe we’re being a little selfish?"
"Not at all." Barry spits, "We couldn’t trust his father and we can’t trust him. For all we know, he still might be waiting to lead us into a trap. Maybe the whole child-rescue thing was just a ruse to get us to trust him more so that he and Daddy could spring the trap at just the right time."
"Barry, you’re a real jerk, you know that?" Alexis growls, "Just because someone’s parents are evil doesn’t mean they will be. Need proof? Look at me. I sacrificed almost everything I had in order to lead a halfway righteous life. I’m the black sheep of my family, and you know what? I’m proud of it! Everyone in here…all of you guys. You’re my family now. And I wouldn’t trade you for the world."
"Aw…that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me." Steve purrs.
"Thank you, Alexis." Chris beams, "I needed to hear that."
"Hey, I do what I can." Alexis supplies, "And I’m going with Alan to rescue the Wesker girls. The rest of you can do what you want."
"I’m going too!" Claire pipes, "I owe him that much. Besides, it’s been awhile since our last evil-company-showdown brawl."
"I go where Claire goes." Steve says.
"You’ll need a medic." Rebecca chirps.
"Hey! No way is the whole Bravo team leaving without their captain!" Carlos gushes.
"Well then, I guess I’d better go too." Chris mumbles, "Since nothing I say will probably change your minds."
"Not me." Jill declares, "I’m going to take the children out of town where hopefully they’ll be safe."
"I’ll go." Barry pipes.
"What?!" Everyone says in unison, just as surprised as I am.
"I might not be a Wesker fan, but someone needs to make sure you don’t get yourselves killed. Besides, not to beat a dead horse, but it’s not like I have a family to worry about anymore."
Okay. So they want to come with me. I’m not going to try to stop them. I can use all the help I can get, and it’s not like they’re inexperienced whiners or anything.
I turn and head back to the front of the office. Step in. I have barely crossed the threshold when I am greeted by all of S.T.A.R.S.
"We’ve…we’ve decided to come with you." Chris says rather sheepishly, "I hope that’s alright."
I give him and the team two thumbs up. "Sure. No prob. I’m going to the airport now to pick up my jet. Um…I don’t really know the way…"
"I could show you!" Alexis offers eagerly.
I like that idea. "Great. You can ride with me then."
"Um…I don’t suppose you’d have room for me, too?" Rebecca blushes.
"Sure. The more the merrier."
"Hey, carpooling saves on gas." Carlos approaches me, grinning, "I can’t let Mr. Stud Muffin here ride off with all the ladies to himself."
"Carlos!" Rebecca gives him a playful swat.
Carlos grins like an idiot. "Oh, we have a live one!" He laughs.
Alexis gives a mock-scowl, "Sometimes I think Chris must’ve been pretty desperate to post you as Bravo’s leader." She teases.
That rouses chuckles from everyone save Barry. Mr. Doom and Gloom. I think it would kill him to have a good time.
"Well, everyone else who’s going can ride with me." Chris announces, rubbing his hands together, "Let’s load up and get this show on the road!"
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