Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.

 


Resident Evil: Phoenix
by Red Hope

Chapter 10

Alice sunk into the chair beside the table. She slumped forward and struggled to grasp what Wesker did to her in Japan.

Claire went down on her knees in front of her friend. She watched Alice hang her head. Through their bond, she was drowned in a mixture of anger and fear. She didn’t want to tell Alice what she’d learned from Jill, but she couldn’t hide it either.

Alice threaded her fingers through her dark hair and fought with her racing heart. She closed her eyes until a gentle hand touched her knee. She pushed down her emotions and lifted her head. Her normally bright green eyes were clouded now. “Did she tell you what the G-virus does?”

Claire blinked away the burn in her eyes and barely kept calm, like Alice. “She wasn’t sure… but she did say it continuously mutates the carrier.”

“Continuously,” Alice murmured. Now her heart pounded wildly against her taut chest. She stared for a second then returned to Claire. “Are there other results?”

Claire started shaking her head and whispered, “I don’t know… Jill doesn’t know.”

Alice watched her world spin out of control. There was nothing she could do about it. She sharply got up and nearly knocked Claire over.

The leader jumped up and hastily stepped in front of Alice, who was headed to the quarters’ door. She knew exactly what Alice was going to do.

Alice tried pushing past her friend, but Claire sidestepped her again. She slotted her eyes and growled, “Get out of the way.”

Claire sensed the rage building up in her friend. She grabbed Alice’s arms and stated, “You’re not leaving.”

Alice reacted like an animal in a trap. She suddenly grabbed Claire and shoved her out of the way.

Claire was fast and inserted herself between Alice and door just before Alice had the handle. She peered under her brim into fiery blue eyes. All around her the air was electric with raw power, but Claire held her ground.

“You’re not dangerous… not to any of us.” Claire hoped her words would pierce Alice’s haze. “We can figure this out.” She used her connection with Alice to her advantage and understood what was going through Alice. She wanted to touch her friend, but she restrained herself.

Alice was breathing hard and was starting to become overwhelmed by Claire’s blood. She couldn’t fight off her attraction to Claire. “I don’t trust myself.” Her voice was throaty and deeper than normal.

“I trust you,” Claire whispered. She shifted closer to Alice after she realized what her blood was doing to Alice. Her body lightly pressed into Alice’s stronger body.

Alice lowered her head closer to Claire’s. She was surrounded by Claire’s scent, which soothed her anger. She shut her eyes when Claire’s hand touched the back of her neck. Slowly the blue in her eyes faded away and her psionic powers fizzled from the air. She rested her forehead on Claire’ shoulder and started feeling human again.

Claire carefully brought her left arm around her partner’s waist. She was relieved that Alice didn’t reject her. She massaged Alice’s neck where the tension was the greatest. “We’ll get through this.”

Alice grabbed Claire’s hips and held onto the leader. She came back to herself but still clung to her friend.

Claire waited for calm waves to come from Alice. She didn’t think about Umbrella or what’d been done to Alice. She merely enjoyed how she felt against Alice. It was one of the few things in her life that made her happy. All the rest encouraged negative thoughts that Claire and Alice didn’t need right now.

Alice raised her head from Claire’s shoulder and brushed her cheek across Claire’s. She sighed now that she was under better control. She was amazed how Claire was able to give her peace.

Claire twined her fingers in Alice’s black hair and continued nuzzling Alice. She didn’t question the comfort that was similar to animals. She wasn’t the type to comfort or accept it in return, until Alice.

“I’ll stay,” Alice repeated again today. Her voice was husky and filled with her promise.

Claire lost a weight on her shoulder after Alice’s words. She knew Alice’s promise was solid. She wouldn’t suffer from fear of finding Alice gone one day. Claire withdrew and revealed her smile and full cheeks.

Alice’s stomach was tickled by butterflies and made her feel like a kid for a moment. She hadn’t expected such a reaction from Claire. She straightened up and softly asked, “How about that nap?” She didn’t want to discuss the G-virus for right now.

Claire freed her hand from Alice’s hair and considered the offer. “I need to see Chris quickly.” She considered her options. “Why don’t you get a shower then I should be back by then.”

Alice raised an eyebrow and checked, “Am I that bad?” She’d only spent twenty minutes practicing on the deck.

Claire chuckled and thought of several smart replies, but she didn’t want to take it too far. “I won’t be long.” She adjusted her ball cap. “See ya shortly.” She quietly left after feeling that Alice needed the space.

Chris was pleased to learn from his sister that Jill could be released and without any guards. But Jill wasn’t allowed any weapons unless authorized by Claire first. He readily agreed and also promised to speak to Leon Kennedy about Jill’s situation. Chris agreed with Claire that it was important to keep a close eye on Jill, especially if Alice was near. Chris hoped that his old partner wouldn’t hold onto her hatred for so long. He knew what it could do to an individual.

Claire told her brother that she was going to rest before the meeting. She didn’t want to be disturbed so on her way back to her quarters she shut off her handheld radio. She hesitated on the way back because she suddenly sensed her partner’s dark upset. Claire felt her heart quicken so she hurried up and eventually broke into a jog because Alice’s mood was worsening. Claire knew it had to do with the G-virus.

Once at her quarters, Claire quietly entered and discovered her partner resting on her side in the center of the bed. She noted Alice’s damp hair and clean attire minus boots or socks. Claire could sense that Alice was awake despite Alice had her eyes closed. Claire removed her red vest and ball cap, which she set on the table. She also hastily removed her boots and socks then went to the side of the bed at Alice’s back.

Alice became stiff as a steel rod when Claire slid into the bed behind her. She tensed when Claire’s arms encircled her body then Alice fisted her hands once Claire’s body pressed into her back. Alice didn’t recall anybody ever holding her despite she knew she had been as a child. Now she struggled to accept Claire’s care over her.

Claire was surprised that comforting Alice had caused their bond to reduce in significant strength. Their bond reminded her of a river and the water was their flowing emotions and understanding of each other. But the water could apparently rise or fall according to their wishes. And now Alice seemed to nearly dam it after Claire held her. Claire could only wait it out and hoped that Alice would open up.

After a minute, Alice felt Claire’s thumb gently grazing her stomach, just near her belly button. It was an affectionate motion that focused Alice. Slowly Alice listened to Claire’s blood then the sweet scent softened Alice’s resolve. The pressure in Alice receded at a calm pace and caused her hands to loosen up. Alice released a heavy sigh, which carried away the last of her anxiety.

Claire was relieved that waiting it out had worked for them. She felt their bond refill to normal so she pressed her forehead into Alice’s head. She shut her eyes and allowed Alice her time to cope with her upset about the G-virus.

Alice clenched her jaw and wished she could fight off her pain from her past. She couldn’t seem to escape Fate’s game with her life. Nor would Umbrella leave her alone, ever. She was furious that she’d been infected, again and wasn’t able to stop it, again. Alice realized that if Claire wasn’t anchoring her now then she would lay herself to rest, for good. But that wasn’t an option like it had been for the past few years. She had a reason to stay on the Earth and find her way.

Claire nuzzled her partner, who was trying to calm down. She then felt Alice’s hand slide into hers. She tenderly squeezed in a silent promise that it’d be okay.

Alice felt a warm tear free between her eyelids. The tear trailed down her nose a little then rolled off and landed on Claire’s upper arm. Eventually the tear dried against Claire’s warm skin. But the tear had done enough to calm Alice, who started drifting off. Claire wasn’t far behind and fell to sleep shortly after her partner.

An hour before three o’clock, Alice was up and woke her partner. She felt better under control despite what she’d learned about the G-virus. Alice softly thanked Claire for being there for her. Claire smiled in return then suggested they get ready for the meeting at the wheelhouse. Alice compiled and was ready in fifteen minutes.

Claire took a few extra minutes but joined her friend at the front door. She holstered her Glock on her right leg. She noted that Alice only carried a kukri on her left hip then a revolver on her right hip. Claire long ago decided that Alice was indeed a walking army.

On the walk to the wheelhouse, Claire finally asked her partner why she bothered with weapons since she had superior strength and powers.

Alice had a grin tugging at her full lips. “I like being conventional.” She shrugged and playfully quipped, “It gets my blood going.”

Claire chuckled and shook her head after adjusting her ball cap. “Well, don’t forget you owe me some lessons soon.”

Alice nodded but recalled Claire’s technique in the prison’s shower. “You did well against the Executioner.”

Claire crinkled her nose briefly. “I still didn’t kill him.” She canted her head and narrowed her eyes under the brim. “How much did you see anyway?”

Alice smirked and replied, “Enough.”

Claire huffed and shook her head. She entered the main stairwell. Her boots pounded against the metal grating as she climbed up.

“I do have to say you were brave to slide between his legs.” Alice gave a disgusted look to hint at her meaning.

Claire laughed and lightly shouldered her friend when they came to the steps’ platform. “I closed my eyes after I fired your gun.”

Alice chuckled and mentally reversed to Claire’s earlier request. “We can practice a few moves tonight… before dinner.”

“Hmmmm.” Claire was intrigued and asked, “Any ideas on what?”

Alice considered a variety of moves and decided on a few. “I think some blocks, punches, and a kick or two would be a good start.” She grinned at her partner.

Claire liked the idea. She followed Alice through the next door and entered the wheelhouse. She wasn’t surprised that only Jonathan was there. A warm greeting came from Jonathan, and Claire returned it.

Shortly Chris arrived with Leon Kennedy then Luther showed up last. Claire started the meeting by first thanking Luther for a job well done with quarantining the survivors. She could tell he appreciated her compliment. Claire felt he’d earned it after Gable’s positive reports. Claire continued discussing what was happening with the survivors, which peaked Leon’s interests.

Leon was pleased that nearly everybody had been rescued from Vacation Isle. He was grateful that Arcadia had come to their aid. He thanked Claire a few times during the meeting. But he was the one to bring up the Arcadia’s plans.

Claire folded her arms after Leon asked what the Arcadia would do. She noted her brother initially took the question.

“We’re debating whether to continue sailing up and down the coast to pick up survivors.”

Leon studied the siblings but directed his next question at Claire. “How long do you think you can keep that up?” He leaned his hip against the table. “Supplies… fuel… overall living situation.”

“A couple of months at best,” Alice answered. She’d been quiet so far. “These people need to settle on land.”

“It’s too much to ask of them to stay on the ship,” Luther readily agreed.

Chris sighed and reminded, “But they need protection too.”

“From Umbrella,” Leon summarized, “And the infection.”

Claire’s eyes wandered over to her partner, who held her gaze for a few seconds. Claire shifted on her feet then announced, “I’m considering Hawaii.”

“What?” Luther had a confused look and tried grasping the idea.

Claire saw the puzzlement on the others’ faces. She recalled Alice’s solid reasons and explained, “It’s far enough from the mainland. But there’s enough land to live on and live off of.”

“How do we know it’s not infected?” Luther debated.

“We don’t,” Claire replied. She centered her stern features on the former basketball star. “But I think it may be worth going out there to check.”

“It’s most likely infected,” Alice stated. All eyes went to her. “But what matters is whether the land is salvageable.”

“If we can clean out the virus,” Claire conceded with her partner. She received a nod from Alice so she looked back at the rest of the group. “We have enough supplies and fuel to get out there and back without a problem.”

“If it is salvageable,” Leon brought up, “then how do we salvage it?”

Claire was slightly unsure, but she sensed Alice had the answer. She bowed her head when Alice easily took Leon’s question.

“I can detect the T-virus,” Alice explained. “If there are undead on any of the islands, I can kill them and dispose of them properly.” She placed her left hand on the touchscreen table. “It may take weeks or longer, but I can sanitize the islands.”

Leon had a bewildered look and checked, “How can you detect the virus?” He had seen what’d happened on Vacation Isle, but he still didn’t understand it. He was hoping that Jill would be able to tell him what he’d saw, yet Jill was locked up.

Claire hastily took over the conversation. “Alice is a hybrid.” She liked how it sounded better than saying Alice was infected. “Her blood is half human and half T-virus.” She left out the part about the G-virus, not totally sure about it herself. “Alice’s blood bonded with the T-virus several years ago.”

Alice sensed Leon’s fear and saw the leeriness in his eyes. She was use to it from humans, except Claire. She hadn’t felt or seen Claire afraid of her and even now with the G-virus.

Claire caught Leon’s apprehension and didn’t like it being directed at her partner. However, she reigned in on her emotions and stayed strong as the leader. “Alice’s awareness of the T-virus can help us settle the islands.” She noted that Luther and Chris were pondering the idea. “My biggest concern, regardless of where we settle, is Umbrella.”

“They won’t stop,” Chris softly reminded the group.

“Is there anything that’ll make them stay away?” Luther posed.

Alice had a dark grin and replied, “Nothing short of a few atomic bombs.”

Luther gave Alice a mock glower and asked, “Do you have any handy or can you just create one?”

Alice smirked at Luther. “I’ll have to practice.”

“You do that,” Luther teased back. He shook his head once then looked at the leader.

Claire was next to Chris, but she stared hard at Luther before stating, “I think we need to talk to Jill about Umbrella.” She caught Leon’s lost look so she focused on him. “Jill has been working for them for awhile.”

Leon was about to protest such a lie, but Chris cut him short.

“Not of her own freewill.”

Leon shook his head then combed his short, dark hair back. “I guess I’m a little behind on things.”

“That’s what happens when you live on an island,” Luther quipped.

Leon rolled his eyes at Luther.

“How long will it take to get to Hawaii?” Chris looked between his sister and the skipper.

“Four to six days,” Jonathan replied. “It’ll depend on winds and currents… how the seas are.”

Chris hadn’t expected it to only take that short amount of time. He thought it’d be closer to ten days. But in reality, the island state wasn’t that far away from California.

“What about Jill?” Leon brought up. He didn’t like that she was in the brig. He believed in her good heart despite her time with Umbrella.

Claire decided it was best to handle Leon now and make sure the others were clear too. “Jill has been released from the brig.” She placed her hands on the table. “She does not have guards, but the security team will keep an eye on her.” She sensed that Leon wasn’t happy with Claire’s decisions, but she didn’t give a damn. “Jill Valentine cannot carry or use a weapon of any kind without my authorization first.”

Leon shook his head and fought, “You don’t know Jill like I do. She won’t harm-”

“I know Jill much more than you,” Claire coldly cut off.

Leon Kennedy was displeased and looked like he wanted to argue more.

“Claire and I have known Jill since high school,” Chris informed the former Raccoon City officer.

Leon lost his words and stared in surprise at the siblings.

Claire felt it was settled so she continued with her earlier speech. “I’ve only spoken briefly with Jill about Umbrella. I will be talking more with her.” She studied everybody’s faces but added, “Then we’ll have a meeting with Jill. There may be things you think of that I have not.”

Luther and Leon both nodded and didn’t say anything.

“We’ll make a decision later about Hawaii after we hear what Jill has to say.” Claire glanced at her partner then at the others before asking, “Is there anything else?” After a few head shakes and silence, Claire ended the meeting and waited for everybody to file out except for Chris and Alice.

“Chris?”

Chris turned to his sister and waited to hear what was on his sister’s mind.

“Do me a favor and keep an eye on Jill and Leon.” Claire leaned against the touchscreen table.

“I don’t think they’ll be a problem,” Chris debated. Yet he still understood his sister’s concerns. “But I’ll inform the security team.”

“Thanks.” Claire folded her arms. “I don’t like surprises.” She just wasn’t sure about Leon Kennedy. Despite everybody had the same mission, there were opinions on how to get the mission done.

Chris assured his sister with a squeeze to her shoulder. “I’ll go handle it now.” He said goodbye to Claire and Alice then quietly left the wheelhouse.

Alice watched Chris leave then she looked at her partner. She already knew what was on Claire’s mind. But she approached Claire and warmly offered, “Thank you.”

Claire was bewildered and canted her head.

“For calling me a hybrid rather than infected,” Alice explained.

Claire softly hummed then argued, “An infection means it can be transferred and is dangerous.” She started to the door with Alice next to her. “You’re not those things.” She and Alice left the wheelhouse. “You’re bonded with it… that makes you a hybrid.”

Alice silently agreed but murmured, “Half dead… half alive.”

Claire touched her friend’s shoulder and faced her in the hallway. “You’re more alive than most of these survivors on this ship.” She tilted her head back and had a better view of Alice’s features. “A lot of these humans are plagued by constant fear… that’s not living.”

“No it’s not.” Alice continued down the hall after Claire released her. “So, how about the training?”

Claire flashed a grin at her partner. “I’m gamed.”

Alice returned a darker grin. But she planned to take it easy on Claire after yesterday. She knew Claire was still sore after the rescue mission. She and Claire made it out onto the deck and picked out a good practice location on a sealed hole. Alice started out simple by showing Claire different stances for fighting.

Claire was quick to learn from Alice. She noticed that Alice was being cautious too, and she suspected it was because of her sore body. Claire’s left arm was still quite tender from yesterday, but she thought tomorrow it’d be better. It didn’t slow her down though during her practice.

Alice taught Claire a few punches, kicks, and how to block effectively. She then decided they finish up by sparring with each other. But Alice stayed on defense mostly while Claire practiced offense moves.

Claire had turned her ball cap around. She had a better view of her partner during the sparring. She quickly broke a sweat while it took Alice a good twenty minutes into it. Claire kept a solid pace, but it was a decent workout for her. She doubted it would tire Alice though.

Alice warned Claire about her weak punches. She kept trying to verbally correct Claire, but her partner wasn’t making the adjustment. Alice finally decided it was time to teach the hard way. She’d simply parried Claire’s uppercuts, jabs, and hooks. The next fist, she didn’t block but instead caught in her right hand.

Claire was shocked and tried breaking away but was too slow. She lost her orientation when the entire world spun out of control. She gave a holler until her back hit the deck’s metal surface. Claire gasped for air and gave a soft moan before focusing on Alice’s face above hers.

“I said keep your left foot in front of your right,” Alice reminded her friend.

Claire quickly rolled over and hopped onto her feet. She didn’t comment on Alice’s harsh correction, but it made Claire mind her footing when she attempted her next jab. She found her punch’s power improved when she corrected her form. She saw that Alice was pleased this time.

Alice gave it another minute or two then decided aloud, “Let’s take it up a notch.” She planned to work Claire harder than earlier. She added more offense to their sparring and mainly used moves that Claire had learned so far.

Claire quickly executed several blocks to stop Alice’s attacks. But Alice’s kicks were more difficult, and Claire jumped away anytime. She wasn’t sure how to block a kick other than to move.

Alice hadn’t taught Claire a roundhouse kick, yet she suddenly performed one at Claire’s head. She had every faith in Claire’s quick mind.

Claire didn’t have time to move and instead she raised her left arm then ducked her head out of range. She felt Alice’s ankle connect with her forearm, and Claire pushed away Alice’s kick.

Alice landed on her feet and backed off a step. She had a grin and was glad that Claire learned on her own. “Good.” She launched into heavy hand to hand combat.

Claire was hard pressed to stay at Alice’s pace. She gave a few low growls when Alice nearly caught her, but she returned a few attempts without luck. She tried a quick uppercut for Alice, but Alice caught her wrist. Claire repeated another spinning trip but this time found her back pressed hard against Alice’s front.

Alice locked her left arm across the leader’s stomach. She then immobilized Claire’s arms against her chest using her right arm.

Claire sucked in a tight breath and gritted her teeth. She tried jerking free but discovered that Alice only tightened her hold. She breathed hard and started, “So…”

Alice was grinning and heard the annoyance in Claire’s tone. “A headbutt would do nicely.”

Claire twisted her head sidelong and argued, “I’m not as thick headed as you.”

Alice rolled her eyes. “Everybody is full of jokes today.”

Claire couldn’t help her grin now. “You’re an easy target.” She was breathing hard.

Alice briefly squeezed her partner hard and enjoyed Claire grumble of displeasure. But she loosened her hold on Claire. “Elbow jabs work too,” she offered.

“Good idea,” the leader murmured. She was able to breathe easier now that Alice released the pressure on her chest. She started relaxing in her partner’s toned arms and found comfort in it.

Alice sensed her friend’s now calm manner. She had wanted to cool Claire down from the sparring, but some plans never work out right. She liked this detour and slid her right arm down to Claire’s waist.

Claire had free arms so she reached up and fixed her hat forward. She now was able to lean her head against Alice’s shoulder without the brim in the way. She waited for her heated and wired body to calm down. But Claire realized in front of them was San Diego. It darkened her mood to see the decimated city.

Alice inhaled deeply and felt the air calm her heart. She too studied the ruined city off the ship’s starboard side. She thought about yesterday, and a chill ran down her back. She murmured, “I could have lost you yesterday.”

Claire wasn’t concerned about getting out of San Diego when she followed after Alice. “You’re the one to talk.” She leaned her temple against Alice’s forehead. “You help so many, but who is there for you?”

Alice sighed at her friend’s concern. She could tell that Claire intended to fill that hole. She was going to reply until her instincts went on alert. She quickly turned her head to the left and stared at the main door to go into the ship.

Claire shared the alarm and followed her partner’s stare. “What’s wrong?”

“Jill,” Alice answered. She withdrew from Claire just as Jill opened the door.

The leader faced Jill’s direction and prepared for a possible fight. She didn’t like that Jill had made such a choice. She made a mental note to talk to Jill about it later, if it ended better than how it felt right now.

Jill neared the pair and noticed how close they stood by each other. She watched how Alice stepped in front of Claire, who was Jill’s closest friend in high school and former girlfriend. She wasn’t a threat to Claire, and Jill didn’t like being treated as such by Alice.

Claire briefly touched her partner’s lower back in a silent request for Alice to stay calm. She lowered her hand when Jill stopped a few yards away from them. “What is it, Jill?”

Jill took in her friend’s leadership tones, but she calmly replied, “I have a question.” She shifted her stare to her murderer. “For you, Alice.”

Alice slightly lifted her chin and waited for Jill.

Jill placed her hands on her hips and tilted her head. “Is that chip in your head still operational?”

Alice narrowed her eyes at the former Umbrella agent. She clenched her jaw, but voice came out gruffly thanks to her temper. “No.” Her simple answer was solid without any weakness to it.

Jill was actually assured and nodded once. She dropped her arms, smirked, and jabbed, “I’ll be able to sleep tonight then.” She turned on her heels and started back to the door.

“I have a question for you, Jill,” Alice called to the tall blond.

Jill had only gone two steps before she faced the pair again. She was interested and poked, “Shoot.” She revealed a dark smile. “Figuratively speaking, I mean.”

“Jill,” Claire warned her friend.

Alice shook her head at her partner because it didn’t matter. She trailed her eyes from Claire over to Jill. “Is Angie alive?”

Jill obviously didn’t expect the question, and her smug look faded away. She fisted her hands and stared darkly at Alice. “What the fuck do you care?”

“Is she alive?” Alice sharply repeated. But she had less patience this time.

Claire grew tenser but waited for the conversation to play out. She hoped that the two would at least not break into a fight.

Jill visibly shook and a tremble was in her voice. “I don’t know.” She turned and walked away from the pair.

Alice nearly went after Jill until she thought better of it. She also didn’t want to rattle her partner any further. She turned to Claire, who was watching Jill go into the ship.

Claire let out the breath she’d been holding the entire time. She peered up at her friend and silently asked why Alice was concerned about Angie Ashford.

“I have to find out,” Alice softly revealed to the leader.

Claire’s lips thinned from her racing thoughts. She softly asked, “If she is alive, then what?”

Alice frowned but stared across the deck to the door that Jill had gone through. “I’m not sure.” She stepped off the sealed hole and started for the door too.

Claire briefly watched her partner go. There was so much remorse from Alice, and it made Claire ache. She sighed and hopped off the hole then followed her friend’s cold trail. Despite she wished the girl was alive, she also didn’t want Alice going after Angie Ashford. She swallowed down her apprehension about the near future. She had a bad feeling about it.

Alice held the door open for the leader then let it shut after Claire joined her. She suspected that Claire wanted a shower like her. They returned to their quarters and each took a hot shower. Alice was quieter than normal while she got ready for dinner.

Claire didn’t push her friend into talking, right now. She instead joined her silent friend to the galley for dinner. She had to admit she was famished despite her emotional concerns. She was glad to see Chris, who sat down with them for dinner.

Chris discussed the idea of Hawaii further with Claire and Alice. He seemed taken with the idea, especially compared to Alaska. He thought that it was a good option. But like Claire, he too was concerned about safety from Umbrella. He knew what Umbrella would do to get their way.

After dinner, Claire told her partner that she planned to go to K-Mart’s quarters. She offered Alice to go, but Alice refused and decided to go see Will. Claire nodded and separated from her partner shortly afterwards. She sought out K-Mart, who was doing some reading in her quarters. That briefly made Claire think about continuing K-Mart’s education like she’d done in the desert, but she set that idea aside.

Alice eventually made it down to the hospital and found Will still there. She noted his aunt was gone, but he had finished dinner. She offered him a smile then sat down next to him.

“How are you feeling?”

“A lot better,” Will replied.

Alice indeed noticed his skin had more color but still not a normal level. She could pick out his blood’s smell better too. “I’m glad.”

“Doctor Gable says I have…” Will frowned and struggled to recall the name of his condition. “Ana mea.” He shook his head in frustration.

Instantly Alice’s bell went off, and she supplied, “Anaemia.” The boy’s bright smile confirmed her correction.

“I just don’t have enough iron in my body,” Will explained.

Alice nodded. “You weren’t eating properly while on the island.” She sadly smiled at the boy’s bobbing head. “Are you taking an iron supplement?”

“Yes, I take one in the morning and night now.” Will was proud of the fact that his health was improving.

“That’s good to hear.” Alice leaned back in her chair. She continued talking to Will for awhile before she noticed he was getting tired. She suspected his weariness was from being sick. She got up and adjusted the blankets on him. Alice said goodnight and silently left the room after turning the lights off.

Doctor Gable came out of a room a few doors down. She spotted Alice and approached her halfway in the hall. “How are you, Alice?”

“I’m good.” Alice indicated Will’s room with a nod. “How’s his health looking?”

“A lot better.” Doctor Gable lowered her clipboard to her side. “I’ll probably release him in the next day or two.”

Alice was pleased by such news. “His aunt will care for him?”

“Yes.” Helen glanced at the boy’s dark room. “They’re rather close.” She had a smile but went serious at another thought. “How’s Claire doing?”

Alice nodded once. “She’s better today. She’s still sore though.”

Helen rubbed the bridge of her nose and mentioned, “I’d love to get her in for a checkup, but I know how…”

“Stubborn she can be,” Alice finished.

Doctor Gable grinned at the hybrid. “To put it mildly.”

Alice chuckled but went serious. “I’m keeping an eye on her.”

“I know.” The doctor briefly touched Alice’s arm before dropping her hand. “You’re the only reason I don’t have Chris and his team escort her down here for a checkup.”

Alice smirked and took a step back. “She’s in good hands.”

Helen didn’t argue Alice and instead mentioned, “I heard Jill Valentine’s memory has returned.”

Alice lost her somewhat good mood. “Yes.” She didn’t offer anything else. “I have to go.”

The doctor understood and said goodnight to the younger woman. She briefly watched Alice silently move down the hallway, but she went back to work.

Alice sighed once she was out of the hospital. But Helen’s comment about Jill made Alice think about Angie Ashford again. It did nothing to help her mood or control her anxious needs to find out about Angie. Alice set out to find Jill Valentine, and she hunted down the former Umbrella agent within twenty minutes. Her sensitive instincts were able to hone in on Jill’s quarters.

Jill was almost to her bathroom with her sleepwear in hand when a knock was at the door. She set the clothes on her bed then hurried to the door. She grabbed the locked handle, but Jill faltered when her blood tingled. Immediately she knew who was on the other side of the door. Briefly flashes from her past came over her and made her take a step back.

Alice detected Jill near the door so she called, “Open up, Jill.” She fought to stay civil with her tone.

Jill wished she had some kind of weapon, but she was empty handed. She steeled herself and opened the door partially with her left foot blocking the door any wider than a few inches. “What the Hell do you want?”

“We need to talk,” Alice replied.

Jill was in disbelief and narrowed her eyes at her killer. “I don’t think so.” She quickly swung the door forward until it slammed hard into Alice’s hand.

“I think so,” Alice fought. She now smelled Jill’s hidden fear behind Jill’s arrogant attitude. She fed on it and warned, “Don’t make me kick this door into your face.”

Jill had a faster heartbeat, and palms dampened from worry.

Alice detected the altered human’s accelerated heart, and it excited Alice’s blood. She grinned darkly and pressed the door open.

Jill only fought for a second before she backed up and allowed Alice into her room. She fisted her hands and stepped backwards a few times.

Alice entered the room, which suddenly seemed much smaller for them both. She shut the door behind herself and stayed between Jill and the door. She had a calm face, but she hummed with energy.

Jill stared coldly at her killer and expected Alice to talk first.

“What happened to Angie?” Alice demanded.

“After you shot her?” Jill bitterly checked.

Alice narrowed her eyes and stepped closer to Jill. “I wish I could take back what happened, Jill.”

For a long minute, Jill just stared at Alice but couldn’t decide how she felt about Alice’s words. “Our bodies were taken by Umbrella, and we were transported to the Houston facility.” She only had broken memories, and she wasn’t sure if it was from the P30 still or because she was in and out of consciousness back then. “I’m not sure when we were reanimated, but we were…”

Alice saw the faraway look on Jill’s face. “What happened in Houston?” She saw Jill return to the present.

“I just remember white walls…a lot of pain,” Jill replied. “We were experimented on together. But I don’t know for how long.”

“What were you given?” Alice pressed.

Jill shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know… the P30 was tested on me.” She folded her arms. “Most likely the T-virus.”

Alice silently agreed because the T-virus was in Jill. “What about Angie?”

Jill fought with her emotions and coldly answered, “I don’t know… they moved her one day.” She hoarsely added, “I never saw her again.”

Alice remembered Matt Addison and how they’d gone through the experiments together before they were separated too. “Was she alive when they moved her?”

“I think so,” Jill honestly replied. “I was in and out of consciousness a lot until they cut off the drugs and moved me into a cell.” Some of her memories were solidifying now.

“But you were under the P30 by then,” Alice guessed.

Jill dipped her head in agreement. She then straightened up and ordered, “Now you can leave.” She wanted Alice out of her small space.

Alice considered it, yet she had to be sure that she knew all that Jill knew about Angie. She quickly moved forward while saying, “I have to be sure.” Her right arm shot out then her long fingers latched around Jill’s throat.

Jill hastily grabbed Alice’s arm, and struggled against Alice’s lock until Alice dragged her forward. Jill’s boots scrapped across the floor. Their bodies nearly touched. She sucked in a sharp breath when Alice’s eyes grew an electric blue. All around Jill there was a charge that made her hairs stand up. “Don’t,” she gasped but suddenly she went limp against Alice. Jill’s head was invaded by Alice’s powerful mind.

“Give her another dose of P28,” the robed scientist ordered her colleague. She watched the needle pierce the subject’s already scarred forearm. “Dr. Isaacs is getting close though.” She noted since the last dose that Project Kill Jill had lost some hair, which piled around the left wheel of the bed like a fine hay stack.

“What about Project Ashford?” a lab tech inquired.

Jill’s eyes nearly rolled back in her head until she heard Angie’s last name. She fought off the effects with all her resolve. She rolled her head to the left and stared across to the girl, but the scientist stood in the way.

 “Project Ashford isn’t going… according to plans,” the scientist concluded. She was reading over something on a tablet, and her right hand scrolled the touchcreen. “I want her transferred to another lab.” She moved from between the two beds that held the subjects. “She may be of some use before termination.”

Jill took a moment to focus on Angie, who was only several feet away. Her swimming vision finally settled on the girl.

Angie stared lifelessly up at the ceiling. But she no longer saw any colors like she had before Alice shot her. She only saw shades of grey in the world. She heard the scientists talking and starting to leave. She used all her strength to turn her head to Jill.

Jill released a low moan once she took in Angie’s mutated face that was distorted and ash colored skin. She wanted to get up and go to Angie, but her body was paralyzed by the drugs. Her mind was fuzzy, and she’d long ago lost track of time.

Angie had heard that she was to be moved then later terminated. Her fingers twitched when she fought to reach for Jill. But the drugs weighed heavily on her. “Jillll,” she gurgled in a scratchy voice.

Jill warred with her useless body. She wished she could even hug the girl one last time. But they were doomed in Umbrella’s hands.

“She will… come… for usss,” Angie softly promised her friend.

Jill didn’t believe it though. She blinked a few times and only her left index finger moved after much fighting against the drugs. Then she distantly heard the movements of humans in the lab. Her view of Angie was sharply cut off by several lab techs surrounding Angie.

A lab tech mobilized the subject’s bed then moved to the foot of the bed. They adjusted a few hoses and screens then played with the wheels’ brakes.

Jill couldn’t save her friend. She couldn’t even scream a protest when Angie’s bed began to move. But she cried out for Angie in her head, over and over. She was numb to her body, but the emotional pain cut into her deeper than the scientists’ knives. She heard the lab’s door lock shut, and Jill was truly alone. She closed her eyes and the very first tears since her reanimation trailed down her face.

Jill realized that the only person that could save them was herself. She swore they’d have revenge against Umbrella for what’d happen to them. And Jill would hunt down their killer soon, very soon. It was all the Jill had to cling to until she had her chance at freedom.

Jill fought for air when Alice’s hand left her throat. She stumbled back but was hunched forward after experiencing very dark memories. She recovered enough to come at Alice.

But Alice was prepared and grabbed Jill’s shoulders with her arms stretched out. She held Jill at bay.

Jill clutched the hybrid’s forearms and tried breaking the lock between them. “It was your goddamn fault,” she growled.

Alice didn’t argue anything and instead kept Jill off of her. She watched how the struggle wore Jill out quickly and most likely the memory transfer had weakened Jill too.

Jill collapsed to her knees and broke the contact between her and Alice. “They experimented on her.” She lifted her hatred filled eyes to Alice. “She was just a girl!”

Alice fisted her hands, but she couldn’t hold down the guilt. It was her fault that Jill and Angie ended up in Umbrella’s hands and suffered so badly. She understood such a dark fate after her multiple experiences.

Jill bowed her head and dug her nails into the wood floor. She struggled with her anger and disgust for Alice and Umbrella. She promised Claire that she wouldn’t cause trouble again. Yet years of suffering and soaking in dark hatred lifted Jill to her feet. She lunged at her killer.

Alice was ready for it and grabbed Jill’s right arm. She spun Jill around and slammed her against the wall next to the door. She then pressed her left palm directly against Jill’s chest where the mind device left scars.

Jill growled and wrapped her hands around Alice’s muscular arm, but she was pinned against the wall. “If you hadn’t stopped me, I could have saved Angie.” She barred her teeth and dug her nails into Alice’s skin.

Alice tilted her head after Jill’s curious statement. But her attention snapped to the right at the door when her bond alerted her that Claire was not far. She mentally cursed because Claire most likely knew what was happening between her and Jill. There may be some minor disadvantages to their bond.

Claire exploded into the room with her Glock in hand. She kept it ready at her side, but her worried features settled on the pair off to her right. She looked from Jill’s trapped form to Alice’s guilty face.

Alice’s course attitude fell into her stomach once she saw Claire’s annoyance flare up. She slightly loosened her hold on Jill.

“What the fuck is going on?” Claire chewed out. She looked from Jill to Alice and expected the answers from Alice.

Jill swallowed hard and actually took the question. “We’re just talking.” She removed her hands from Alice’s arm.

Alice looked from her partner to Jill Valentine. She released Jill and was surprised by Jill’s attempt to save them both from Claire’s wrath.

Claire slotted her eyes at the pair. “I swear to God I’m going to put you both in the brig.” She didn’t put her Glock away yet. Her smoky blue eyes centered on Alice. “I can’t believe…” She let her angry words hang in the air. She didn’t approve of Alice’s method.

Jill peeled off the wall and looked at her friend. “It was nothing, Claire.”

The leader shifted her dark glare onto Jill and snapped, “Are you her goddamn mouthpiece now?”

Jill sighed because there wasn’t much she could do to fix the situation. She just didn’t feel like going back to a ten by ten hole.

Claire glanced back at her silent partner but decided they could continue the discussion in private. She hoped by then some of her temper would cool off. “What’s this about?” she tried more calmly. But she already knew why Alice sought out Jill.

“I asked Jill about what happened to Angie,” Alice finally spoke. She had a deeper tone than normal.

Claire breathed deeply and wondered why Alice was so concerned about Angie Ashford. She understood the history, but it was years ago too. She went with the conversation and focused on Jill. “What did happen to her?”

Jill folded her arms and repeated her earlier story to Claire now. She then noticed how Alice was staring hard at her.

Alice cut into the conversation and mentioned, “You said you were trying to save Angie.”

Jill clenched her jaw but shifted her gaze to Alice, who was taller and certainly stronger. “Just before I was dispatched from Houston, the CEO came to me. He told me that Project Ashford hadn’t been terminated.” She looked between Claire and Alice then further explained, “He promised me if I fully cooperated with Umbrella and returned the antivirus and G-virus that Wesker stole that he would free Angie. But I had to continue with Umbrella if I wanted Angie to stay free and alive.”

Alice was in disbelief and shook her head. The trade off for Angie’s life versus Jill’s servitude to Umbrella was no surprise. “How could you be sure she was alive?” She narrowed her eyes and argued, “They could have killed her.”

“I was taken to her cell… I couldn’t see her, but I could feel her.” Jill stared off to the side for a moment and murmured, “I had to try.”

Claire put her gun away and asked, “Who is the CEO?”

“Alfred Ashford,” Alice supplied without fault.

“What? Wait.” Claire looked between the pair. “Is this same Ashford related to the Doctor Ashford who created the T-virus?”

Alice sighed and explained, “Doctor Ashford was Alfred Ashford’s cousin.”

“Then that makes Angie his cousin, once removed,” Claire concluded. She touched her forehead and checked, “So you’re telling me Alfred Ashford has been condoning experiments on his own family?” She was clearly appalled and further sickened by Umbrella.

“Yes,” Jill softly confirmed.

Claire was in disbelief and peered up at her partner. “You worked for these sick mother fu…” She didn’t finish her words and shook her head.

Alice had a displeased look, but she only drank the company’s koolaid for two years before she discovered what Umbrella’s smaller divisions were doing, especially at Raccoon City. After she became Head of Security with Spence, she met Lisa Addison and found the perfect route to exposing Umbrella. It would have worked if Spence hadn’t been so goddamn greedy.

“Any other questions?” Jill directed at Alice.

Alice glanced at the former Umbrella agent. She shifted towards her partner, who was blocking the open door.

The leader focused on Alice and informed, “I’d like to talk to Jill for a few minutes.”

Alice silently conceded and left the quarters after Claire moved out of the way. She studied Jill for a second before she closed the door behind her.

Claire listened to her bond with Alice and waited until she was sure Alice had gone at least down the hallway. She folded her arms and shifted her weight to her right side. “You two were just talking?”

Jill rubbed her neck where Alice had held her. She brushed past the leader but commented, “Your girlfriend talks more with her body than her mouth.” She noticed how different Alice was now than she was when Jill first met Alice in Raccoon City.

Claire rotated on her boots’ soles. She decided not to correct Jill’s assumption about her relationship with Alice. She didn’t care and knew it was Jill’s attempt to get under her skin. “You just inspire it in her.”

Jill faced her friend and smirked at Claire. “I do have a way of rubbing Alice the wrong way.” She seemed proud of it.

“Jill,” Claire warned her friend. “I don’t need this.”

Jill released a sigh and gave into the leader’s gentle warning. She leaned against the foot of her bed in her small quarters. She could tell something else was on Claire’s mind.

“What you plan to do now that you’re free from Umbrella?” Claire asked.

Jill had been considering her options, especially since she had plenty of time to think in the brig. “I have to get Angie out.”

Claire was afraid of that, and she dipped her head. “She could be dead, Jill.” She peered across at her old friend from under her brim. “You have no idea if she really is alive.”

“I have to try,” Jill softly argued. “I can’t leave her in there.”

Claire became worried and walked across the quarters to the wall. She turned and crossed her arms. She kept her head down while she thought about it. “You could be killed,” she murmured.

“I’m already dead,” Jill quietly argued. She found upset blue eyes locked on her. “I know what I am not, RC… and human isn’t it.”

Claire shook her head, but she knew there was nothing she could really do to stop Jill. At least nothing short of having Alice nail Jill down to the ship. But Claire suspected that Alice would rather join Jill on such a crazed rescue mission. She tried not thinking about it.

“I won’t make a decision tonight,” Jill promised.

Claire started to the door but met her friend’s stare. “I think you already have.” She pulled the handle down but didn’t open the door. “I’ll talk to Alice about her evening visit.” She caught Jill’s gratefulness. Claire suspected that Jill had been rattled by Alice forcing her way into Jill’s quarters and demanding information from Jill’s past.

“Thanks, Claire,” Jill called before the leader left. She silently admitted that some part of her had sympathy for what Alice would face later. Jill remembered being on the receiving end of Claire’s fury after she’d done something Claire didn’t approve of. It nearly paled in comparison to Umbrella’s experiments.

Claire nodded. “Goodnight.” She was gone and headed directly to her quarters. She knew her partner was waiting for her there. Claire wasn’t much surprised to find Alice seated at the table and sharpening her kukris.

Alice inwardly flinched when she saw Claire’s blue eyes fire up. She prepared for her partner’s reprimand. She cautiously set her kukri down on the sheath then tossed the whetstone between her hands. She didn’t look at Claire and waited to be handed her ass.

Claire had thought out what she was going to say once she saw Alice. But now her anger was rising again and clouded her mind. “What were you thinking… seriously?”

Alice didn’t answer but did peer up at her partner. She lost her heart in her stomach at the furious expression on Claire’s face. She’d seen Claire’s cheeks rosy for better reasons than this. She lowered her eyes to the whetstone that she turned over in her right hand.

“You forced yourself into her room then used your telekinesis to extract Jill’s memories of Angie Ashford?” Claire was in disbelief that her partner had done it.

Alice sharply looked up at Claire and was in shock. She didn’t understood how Claire knew exactly what she had done to Jill.

“Yeah,” Claire whispered, hotly. “I saw Jill’s memories that you pulled out of her.” She couldn’t keep the accusation from her tone. She started breathing hard. “I guess you didn’t expect our bond to be that good.”

Alice part her lips some but held her silence. Claire was right that she didn’t account for their bond to transfer what Alice had seen in Jill’s mind.

Claire waited for something from Alice, but she wasn’t getting anything except Alice’s regret through their bond. “You know how Jill feels about you. You know to keep a safe distance from her. But you went behind my back anyway.”

Alice only saw the leader of the Arcadia in front of her. Her bond with Claire was drying up thanks to how she hurt Claire. She was struck by how her poor actions had badly cut her partner.

“You do that to me again, and I’ll put your through the haul of this ship,” Claire harshly swore. Her voice didn’t tremble despite her throat tightened up. She had nothing else to say and instead quickly left the quarters. She needed space before she said something stupid to her partner. Claire prayed she got through Alice’s thick head because if Alice pulled another trick like this on her again then she wasn’t sure where her trust would be with Alice.

To be continued.