Disclaimer & Notices: See Chapter 1.

Resident Evil: Phoenix
by Red Hope 

Chapter 3


Alice braced herself for impact and happily smiled when K-Mart jumped into her arms. She warmly hugged the young woman that’d she’d come to care about in a short time.

K-Mart tightly held onto the older woman until she felt she’d physically transferred all her thanks. She withdrew and smiled up at Alice. “You’re awake finally.”

“Sorry for the scare.”

K-Mart shook her head because she knew her friend would pull through anyway. “I’m glad you’re alright.”

“How’s your leg?” Alice checked.

“Almost healed,” K-Mart replied. She had a small limp when walking, and she didn’t attempt to run at all.

Alice was glad to hear it.

K-Mart was about to ask more, but she fell short when Claire touched her shoulder. She looked at her sister.

“Alice and I are headed to a meeting.” Claire could tell that K-Mart was disappointed. “After we’re done then you can catch up with Alice.”

K-Mart understood and gave a nod. She shifted a step to the left so that she was out of the way of the galley’s main entrance. “I’ll see ya later.” She glanced at her sister, who gave her an appreciative look.

Alice briefly watched the young girl go then she joined Claire out of the galley.

Claire waited until they were out of the galley then mentioned, “I think she’s starting a fan club for you.”

Alice laughed and shot her friend an unsure look. But a smirk creased her full lips, and she teased, “Are you the president of the club?”

Claire rolled her eyes yet went along with the joke. “Who else would it be?”

Alice chuckled and shook her head a few times. She wasn’t sure what to make of Claire and K-Mart sometimes. They were good people, who honestly cared about Alice. Their loyalty was what brought Alice back to the country after Tokyo. At first, she thought it was foolish to show up in Claire and K-Mart’s life, but she was far too lonely once she felt like the last human.

Claire noted her friend’s silence. She didn’t break it either and instead guided them to the wheelhouse where the others were waiting for them. Claire walked in first and smiled at her brother’s warm greeting.

Alice shut the door and went stiff upon seeing a familiar face. “Luther?”

Luther West beamed a bright smile at Alice and approached Alice. “Miss me?” He held out his hand in offer.

“Damn,” Alice muttered. She took the athlete’s hand for a brisk shake. “How’d you get here?”

“I swam,” Luther honestly confessed.

Alice shook her head then looked at Claire. “You didn’t tell me Luther was here.”

Claire was wandering over to the large table in the center of the wheelhouse. “It slipped my mind.” She gave a weak grin to Alice, but her eyes were anything but playful.

Alice didn’t believe it was a tease at all. She put away her suspicion and instead looked at Luther. “How did you…”

Luther was walking with Alice over to the table. He knew she was asking how he made it out of the prison. “Skill, girl… skill.” He traded a short laugh with Alice. He and Alice stood beside the table.

Alice looked across the table to Claire and Chris, but her green eyes cut over to the woman on the right.

“Alice,” Claire started, “This is Doctor Helen Gable.”

Alice shook hands with the doctor.

“She’s been looking after Jill and took care of your wounds too.” Claire had her arms crossed. “Helen is in charge of the ship’s hospital now.”

“Thank you for your help,” Alice honestly offered to the doctor. She took in the doctor’s short brown hair, petite figure, full cheeks, and stet scope around her neck.

Helen returned a warm smile. She was obviously a bit shy.

“Now,” Claire continued, “I’ve made Chris in charge of security on the ship.” She was looking at everybody in the small group. “He has the proper training for it.”

Luther had his arms crossed with a relaxed attitude. “Agreed.”

Alice noticed how Claire’s normally calm blue eyes were chilled in Luther’s direction. She wasn’t sure if anybody else could detect how Claire was put off by Luther’s presence, but Alice felt it like a bite to her neck from an undead.

Claire straightened up from her hunched position. “We need to decide on where we go from here.” She considered a few things then stated, “Our biggest problem is Umbrella.”

“There’s no telling where those damn choppers came from,” Luther brought up.

Claire slightly narrowed her eyes at Luther West and coolly informed, “Those V-22 Ospreys were built by Bell-Boeing for the military. They have a range of one thousand ten miles and a ferry range of two thousand two hundred thirty.”

Luther cleared his throat after being educated by Claire. He lowered his eyes to the digital chart on the touch screen table. “So… that’s a big area.”

“What about that facility in Nevada?” Claire checked with Alice.

Alice was shaking her head and looked up from the chart. “Nevada is due north-east.” She then further explained, “I took out that facility.”

Claire also didn’t recall any massive hangar to hold so many V-22s. But that didn’t mean there weren’t any underground.

“Vegas is only five hundred miles away,” Alice thoughtfully whispered.

Claire decided to make use of the touchscreen table. She was efficient with it like she’d used it before. She quickly drew up a map of the United States. “Where are their facilities, Alice?”

Alice peered up from the map to her friend. She indeed knew where many of them were located since she was the head of security at the Raccoon City facility. “I don’t know all of them,” she admitted. “But I know the major ones dedicated to research.”

Alice stretched out her hand, leaned forward some, and started touching each of the six major facilities throughout the country. “Seattle, Raccoon, Detroit, New York, Houston, and Miami.”

“Jesus,” Luther whispered. He looked at Alice and checked, “How do you know all this?”

Alice straightened up and replied, “I worked for Umbrella.”

Luther went stiff at the news, but he noticed nobody else was bothered by it. He settled and murmured, “Cool.” He looked back at the group.

“Houston,” Claire decided aloud.

“It’s possible,” Chris murmured. He was looking at the distance between Los Angeles and Houston. “I bet it’s good twelve to fifteen hundred miles.”

“By the way the crow flies,” Claire softly agreed.

“Okay so even if we know where those soldiers came from,” Luther brought up, “What does that do for us?” He looked between the Redfields. “Are we planning an attack on Umbrella?”

Claire stared at the map then started shaking her head. “No.” She focused on Luther. “It’s just good to understand our enemy.”

“How fast do those Ospreys move?” Alice inquired.

“Two hundred forty knots cruising,” Claire told her friend.

Alice didn’t feel like doing the math and asked, “In miles per hour.”

Claire briefly closed her eyes and replied, “Two hundred seventy-five, roughly.” She looked back at Alice. “You’re talkin’ a five and half hour ride one way.”

“I don’t think they’ll be back… anytime soon,” Chris mentioned. He nodded at Alice. “Not with Alice here.”

“They lost a lot of men in the first fight,” Claire agreed. She now looked at the quiet doctor. “How are we on medical supplies?”

“We’re plentiful… for now.” Helen had a mental inventory already.

“And other supplies?” Claire asked Luther West.

Luther bobbed his head. “Good… we’re good.”

Claire now pressed her palms against the table’s edge as she considered their options. “We can travel up and down the coast… try to find survivors.”

“We could settle in Alaska,” Chris added to the mix.

“And keep ferrying the coast to help people,” Claire continued. “We can use the Arcadia as a quarantine to make sure the settlement in Alaska isn’t accidently infected.”

“You’re putting all your eggs into one basket,” the doctor spoke up.

Alice glanced over at the doctor. “She’s right.” She found Claire’s crisp blue eyes on her. “If we are Umbrella’s last lab rats then they’ll be back at some point.” She looked at Houston then Alaska on the map. “That would make us easy pickings.”

“And rocking and rolling in the confines of a ship is a better option?” Claire debated. She straightened up again and further argued, “We should paint a gigantic bull’s eye on the haul so Umbrella doesn’t miss next time.”

“We’ll constantly be on the move,” Alice reminded her friend.

Claire knew Alice’s philosophy about staying on the move. She didn’t agree with it either. “I have over two thousand lives on this ship that I have to think of.”

Alice recognized the weight on the human leader’s shoulders now that Claire was on the Arcadia. She clenched her jaw and briefly looked away. “Umbrella will be back,” she stated after a tense minute. She focused on Claire again. “Maybe they won’t return tomorrow or the next day or even a month later, but they will come for us no matter where we are.” She understood and even appreciated how relentless the company was about getting what they wanted in this world.

“Then what do we do?” Chris felt all eyes go on him.

“We would have to take Umbrella down,” Alice simply answered.

“Oh no,” Luther fought. He looked at Alice, who he saw in action the other day. “You may be a one woman army, but…”

Alice understood what Luther was saying to her. She nodded once. “Then I will take Umbrella down.” She’d obviously set her mind to it, but when she looked back at Claire Redfield she knew it was a very bad idea.

“I don’t think so,” Claire stated, coldly.

“But Alice stands the best chance at succeeding.” Luther folded his arms and leaned his hip against the table. He quickly regretted his words when Claire’s fiery blue eyes set on him.

Claire clenched her hands, and her voice dropped to a dangerous tone. “You keep feeding the fire, Luther and I’ll put you in a small nine by nine box far down in this ship.”

Chris grunted and smirked. He’d be happy to escort Luther West to that tiny ass space.

Claire now switched her ire on Alice. “If you think you’re leaving again then it’ll be through me.” She didn’t care about all of Alice’s superior powers. “The last time you abandoned us for Umbrella…” She let her unfinished sentence hang in the air because she knew Alice got her drift.

Alice didn’t take orders in her life, but she knew this was something else other than an order coming from Claire Redfield. It was a silent threat that made Alice’s skin cold. She quickly realized that her presence was more than necessary here. Finally, she concluded it was best not to cross Claire or she’d lose more than her friendship. Alice knew she owed Claire this much after all Claire had freely given her.

“Alright,” Alice softly conceded. She instantly felt all the thick air sink away. She hoped the conversation was over and didn’t continue later with Claire.

“Maybe we’ll have a better idea after Jill wakes up and gets her memory back,” Chris suggested to the tense group.

Claire gave a low sigh and looked at her brother.

“We probably shouldn’t make any decisions until we talk to her.” Chris held his younger sister’s stare.

Claire switched gears now that they were talking about Jill Valentine. She focused on Doctor Gable, who was directly caring for the former S.T.A.R.S. member. “How is she?”

“She’s been holding stable since yesterday afternoon.” The doctor had an optimistic voice. “She will make a full recovery.”

Claire nodded at the good news. She then decided, “After we’re done this meeting, I want to see her.” She considered whether or not Jill Valentine was already awake, but the doctor would have received a transmission over the VHF if that were the case.

“So I want to keep updated on the security watches,” Claire told her brother, who nodded his agreement. “I want current logs on the hospital and supplies every day,” she directed at the doctor and Luther. “Depending on what tomorrow brings, we may pick a heading and move away from LA.”

“There don’t seem to be anymore survivors,” Luther indicated. “We may have more luck further south.”

Claire nodded because she recalled her flight down the west coast with Alice. They didn’t see any human life along the way. She considered whether or not Umbrella had picked off the survivors. “Alice.” She received her friend’s full attention. “Do you think you can help me figure out what experiments Umbrella was planning for the survivors?”

Alice recalled the dead survivors in the throne room. She gave a simple nod.

Claire looked at everybody and could tell nobody had anything else to say. “We’ll meet again tomorrow around this same time.” She then directed her words at Luther. “Do you want to join us to the hospital?”

Luther only nodded in response. He’d seen Jill Valentine from afar and decided she couldn’t be that huge of a problem. But she obviously was if Alice had been badly injured from the fight. He filed out of the wheelhouse behind Alice. He then took her side in the hall during the three minute walk down to the hospital.

“So what is your story?” Luther inquired.

Alice shrugged and replied, “Just a disgruntled, former employee of Umbrella.”

Luther shot a doubtful look and checked, “Disgruntled huh?”

“Just a little bit,” Alice playfully replied. She traded a grin with him, but she quickly lost it.

“Do you know anything about this Jill?” Luther was more serious and also curious because he knew nothing about Jill Valentine, who supposedly led the attack the other day.

“An old friend.” Alice allowed Luther to slip through a small, open door first.

Luther glanced back at Alice as he passed through the door. “Do all your reunions go so well?”

Alice knew he was teasing her again, but she huffed and stayed serious. “Pretty much.” She took Luther’s side once they were in the next hallway. “She worked for S.T.A.R.S. before the outbreak in Raccoon City.” She saw they were approaching a long stairwell so she went after Luther. “I met her during the outbreak.”

Luther only listened and decided not to dig any further. He made his own conclusions about why Jill and Alice had battled it out down in the hangar bay. He’d merely seen some of Alice’s powers from afar on the shores of LA before he swam out to the ship. By the time he’d arrived, Alice was gone, and he could only join in the chaos.

Doctor Gable guided everybody to Jill Valentine’s room once they entered the dedicated hospital. She had a few other patients, who were recovering from the battle. She expected to have few patients within five to six days.

“Here we are,” the doctor informed. She noted the two guards stepped aside when she approached them.

Chris Redfield stepped aside so he could speak to the guards briefly.

Claire entered after Doctor Gable, and she sensed Luther on her heels. She visually accessed Jill Valentine on the hospital bed. She glanced at the EKG monitor and noted Jill’s steady heartbeat.

Doctor Gable was busy talking to the nurse, who was completing her rounds. She and the nurse had dedicated many sleepless hours to making sure their patient would survive.

“Thank you,” Helen murmured to the nurse.

The nurse nodded and decided to handle her other checks since she was one of three nurses on the ship. She rather liked rekindling her former duty before the world went to Hell. It gave her a sense of stability again.

Doctor Gable finished looking over the charts then rehooked it to the foot of the bed. “She’s much stronger,” she told Claire.

Claire approached the bedside and focused on Jill’s familiar face. “She’s still very pale.” She looked at the doctor for answers.

Helen sighed and shook her head. “I’m not really sure what’s causing that.”

Alice joined them, but she was beside Jill’s head. She slightly leaned forward and inhaled deeply. “Have you tested her blood?”

“Yes, of course.” Doctor Gable removed a pair of black glasses from her head and put them on when she grabbed the clipboard again.

“Anything abnormal?” Alice inquired. She leaned in slightly closer to Jill. She couldn’t ignore how her blood was extremely excited by Jill’s presence.

Claire could tell that Alice was onto something, but she looked over at the doctor.

“A rather high count of white blood cells,” the doctor reported. She’d flipped through a few pages and dropped them. She removed her glasses and set them on the clipboard in her hand. “I attribute it to her healing process.” She curiously noticed how Alice continued to be inspecting or even smelling the patient.

Alice straightened up after a minute or two, and she instantly noticed the pull fade away. She related it to magnets attracting each other. “It’s not from that.”

Claire narrowed her eyes and asked, “What is it then?”

“It’s the T-Virus in her system,” Alice coolly explained.

The doctor tensed and nearly stepped away from the patient out of natural reaction.

Claire caught the doctor’s apprehension.

“I have no way to test for the T-Virus,” Doctor Gable worriedly admitted. She could only perform visual inspections for things like bite marks or infected wounds.

“You said she’s not contagious,” Claire reminded her friend.

“She’s not,” Alice affirmed. She then picked up a lock of Jill’s hair. Her mind was suddenly bombarded by Jill’s screams and visions of needles going into Jill’s left arm. Alice quickly released Jill’s hair then pulled the cover off Jill’s upper body.

Claire was confused but moved out of the way when Alice shifted closer. She watched what Alice was doing then sharply looked up at Alice after she too saw the puncture marks on Jill’s forearm.

Alice clenched her jaw and ran her thumb over the puncture scars left behind from experiments. Again she was hit by another vision from Jill’s past.

Up the dosage of P30,” Doctor Isaacs ordered. He handed his assistant a filled needle.

Alice lowered Jill’s arm back to the bed and pulled the sheet over Jill. “She was experimented on.”

Claire covered her quivering lips and a glaze entered her eyes. She blinked away the threatening sting.

Alice sighed and further explained, “The experiments have caused her hair to go blond… skin to be pale.” She looked at Claire, who was getting upset by what she was telling of Jill’s past.

Doctor Gable was at a loss and lowered her clipboard after putting her glasses back on her head. “How can… she not have turned?”

Alice considered what may have happened and what she’d seen the T-Virus do to humans, including herself. “My guess is her immune system can ward off the T-Virus.” She looked from Jill’s pale features to Claire, who had lowered her hand from her face. “My bonded with the T-Virus, but Jill… she can fight it off.”

Claire cleared her throat in hopes it’d stop any shake to her voice. “Then… where does her strength come from?”

“Probably the experiments,” Alice suggested. However, she shook her head because she wasn’t totally sure.

Chris came up behind his sister and touched her lower mid-back. He knew Claire was distraught about what’d happened to Jill. He could barely manage to control his own emotions. He’d known Jill as long as Claire. “Umbrella would want her blood if she is naturally immune to it.”

“It is… highly valuable,” Alice softly agreed.

Both Redfields knew exactly what that meant to Umbrella, wealthy survivors, and especially well-armed survivors. If word spread that at least one human could fend off the virus without any support then other survivors would want the same ability.

Claire swallowed hard and peered up at Alice. “Do you know if Jill was bit?”

Alice wasn’t a hundred percent. She licked her lips and stared at Jill’s still features. “When I was with her in Raccoon City, she was never bit.”

Claire shook her head and checked, “After Raccoon City?” She knew that her friend had still been with Jill after the outbreak in Raccoon City.

Alice took a small step away from Jill. “No.” She folded her arms as bad memories surfaced thanks to Claire’s questions.

Chris slotted his eyes at Alice suddenly apprehensive attitude. He nearly opened his mouth until Claire touched his arm. He looked at his sister, who shook her head once at him. He realized his sister didn’t wish to push Alice further, especially here in public. Chris relented to his sister’s choice and let it go. He wondered just how far Claire would go to protect Alice. He hoped it wouldn’t cost Claire.

Claire looked at the doctor and ordered, “Keep me posted on her status.”

“Of course,” Doctor Gable promised. “I’ll alert you as soon as she wakes up.”

Claire nodded and started out of the room. She felt Chris right behind her and saw Luther had already stepped out a minute ago. She suspected he wasn’t sure what to make of it. He’d get use to it.

Helen Gable put the clipboard back and looked at Alice. “How do you know she’s not contagious?” Her voice was low because she didn’t want any of her staff to overhear her.

Alice was moving to the door, but she seriously held the doctor’s gaze. “I just know.” She didn’t elaborate and instead quietly left the room.

Doctor Gable let out a low sigh, glanced at the sleeping patient, and exited too. She wouldn’t allow her fears about the virus to dissuade her from her duties as a doctor.

Alice was a few yards behind the group after Doctor Gable separated from her. She caught up to the group until Jill’s voice floated down the hallway like a ghost.

“Angie,” Jill’s whisper carried to Alice’s sensitive ear.

Alice quickly did a one eighty and rushed down the hall back to Jill’s room. She heard Claire call for her, but she ignored it. She pulled up short in the hospital room when she saw Jill awake and slightly upright on her elbows.

Claire appeared at Alice’s side and breathed deeply once she saw Jill’s brown eyes open. Relief quickly washed over Claire, and she could have almost hugged Jill upon seeing her awake. She restrained herself and instead grabbed Alice’s arm.

Jill Valentine briefly scanned about the room then oddly stared at the two women in front of her. She then noted the three newcomers pouring into the room too. She focused back on the two women in front of her but directed her words at Alice, first. “I’ve seen you before.”

Claire took a partial step forward but hesitated when Jill’s sharp eyes landed on her.

“And I know you,” Jill murmured. She then started shaking her head because her mind was fuzzy. “But I don’t know your names.” She lowered her eyes to the white blanket over her body then looked back up. “I don’t even know my name.”

Chris stepped up to his sister’s other side. “Jill,” he supplied. He faltered but explained, “Your name is Jill… Jill Valentine.”

Jill sat up better, but she found her body was weak. She struggled until the doctor was helping her.

“Take it easy,” Doctor Gable instructed. She helped Jill sit upright in the bed.

Jill softly thanked the doctor then looked back at the tall man beside the two women. “Chris,” she tempted.

Chris was surprised and gave a small smile. “That’s right.”

Jill couldn’t recall his last name, but she knew his first name was Chris. She couldn’t place him otherwise.

Chris lost his smile once he sensed that Jill couldn’t attach anything else to him. He indicated his sister and introduced, “This is my sister, Claire.” He then went to Alice next. “And that’s Alice.”

“I’m Doctor Helen Gable,” the doctor properly informed her patient.

Luther had quietly joined the group and properly chimed in, “Luther West.”

Jill gave a weak grin to Luther. “The basketball star for the Lakers.”

Luther was impressed and had a smile. “Former star,” he sadly admitted.

Jill chuckled and argued, “You could really jump high.”

Luther hadn’t lost his smile. “I still can,” he promised.

Jill slowly went serious as she looked at Claire and Alice, who she couldn’t quite place yet. She then scanned about the room and asked, “Where am I?”

“You’re aboard the Arcadia… a freight ship anchored along the coast of Los Angeles,” Claire told her old friend. “You’ve been here for a few days now.”

Jill wasn’t sure what to make of it, but she shook her head and stated, “I was in fight with somebody.” She summarized that’s how she ended up at the hospital.

“Yes,” Claire confirmed. “We brought you to Doctor Gable’s care.” She then tempted fate by asking, “What else do you remember?”

Jill took a deep breath and tried jogging her mind, but some things were vague while other things were solid. “I’m a S.T.A.R.S. member.” But there was some doubt in her tone. “Or I was,” she whispered. She kept trying to pull up more and murmured, “I work in Raccoon City.”

“You shouldn’t push yourself,” the doctor warned her patient. She also hoped that would warn Claire Redfield.

“You should rest some more,” Claire told the Umbrella agent. “I’m sure everything will come back in time.” She knew it’d taken her awhile to regain all her memories.

“It sounds like I’ve been resting for awhile,” Jill argued.

Claire nearly grinned at Jill’s stubborn attitude. Some things didn’t change, in Claire’s opinion. “Yes, but you’re still weak.” Her tone started filling with authority, and she became the leader she was born to be. “I’m sure the doctor would like to get you to eat.” She caught Helen’s low nod, but Claire continued talking. “After you’re stronger then we’ll get you discharged.” Claire also silently promised to come back this afternoon or tonight after dinner and talk to Jill alone. She couldn’t explain everything, but she could ebb some of Jill’s curiosity and concern.

Everybody left the room, again after Doctor Gable pushed them out the door. Nobody spoke until they were well away from the hospital. Claire was unsure how well Jill could hear, if any better than a normal human. Chris was the first to speak about Jill and her condition. Claire talked with him about it.

However, Alice remained quiet and carefully listening to the Redfields. Eventually her mind drifted back to what earlier when she thought she heard Jill calling Angela Ashford’s nickname. Alice considered whether or not she’d imagined it.

“Alice,” Claire called and separated from her brother. She caught the distant look on her friend’s face before Alice focused on her. “I want to go down to the bays… see if we can figure out what Umbrella has been up to.”

Alice only nodded and remained at Claire’s side. She did bid goodbye to Chris and Luther when they went in different directions. She followed Claire to the lower levels of the container ship until they were in the special designed bays.

Claire entered the first room and went directly to the touchscreen tablet that still sat on the pedestal. “I’m glad Jill is awake,” she softly admitted. She kept her attention on the tablet and quickly diagnosed how it worked.

Alice didn’t comment back. She merely watched what Claire was doing on the screen. She realized that Claire was rather handy with the tablet’s software.

“I wonder if it’s two different networks,” Claire murmured. She shook her head and looked at her quiet friend. “The ship seems to have its own system. But maybe this…” She indicated the tablet. “Could be linked to Umbrella’s network separately.” She continued toying with different menu screens on the tablet. “It’s Linux based.”

Alice shook her head because she only knew enough about computers to do basic things. If she had a need to learn more complex things then she picked it up quickly. Otherwise she focused her energy on weapons, fighting, and creative techniques to get the job done.

Claire suddenly grinned when she came to a logon screen for Umbrella’s network. “Ha.” She tapped the username area, but she had no clue where to begin.

Alice recognized the screen immediately and suggested, “Try ‘aabernathy’.”

Claire gave a dubious looked to her friend. “There’s no way they haven’t removed your user information from the system.”

“Try it,” Alice urged.

Claire didn’t argue this time and slowly typed in Alice’s username with her right hand. She touched the password box.

“The password was ‘GlobeSwift’,” Alice revealed. “The ‘g’ and ‘s’ are capitalized.”

Claire was touching the letters on the virtual keyboard. “What’s a Globe Swift?” She had an idea.

“My favorite airplane,” Alice informed. “It was built in the 1940s.”

Claire hadn’t expected that from her friend. She gave Alice a grin but looked back at the screen. She touched the logon button and waited to be rejected, but after a long twenty seconds the screen switched to a home page of Umbrella’s network. “Holy shit,” she whispered.

Alice was dumbfounded herself. She hadn’t tried logging into her account since the day before Hell awoke in the Hive at her job. “I bet I have a lot of emails in my inbox.”

Claire laughed and joked, “Including a ‘you’re fired’ email from your boss.”

Alice grinned for the first time in hours. “I was an excellent security officer.” She canted her head and further informed, “I was next in line to be head of security at the Raccoon City facility.”

Claire was learning new information about the older woman. “Maybe I should have made you in charge of security instead of Chris.” She was starting to check out different options in Alice’s profile.

“I’m a little rusty,” Alice joked.

Claire was shaking her head, but she was focused on the tablet. “Do you recall if you had any way to check on what projects were going on at the facility?”

Alice bit her bottom lip and jogged her memory about her access to the Umbrella network. “Go here.” She pointed at the upper left menu option. Once a submenu dropped down, she ordered, “Click on Houston.”

Claire did so and watched a main screen for the Houston office to load up. She saw a lot of the links were related to security. “You know,” she mentioned, “they’ll see that we’re logged on with your username.”

“Yes.” Alice wasn’t foolish. “They left my account open for a reason.”

“For us to find this,” Claire agreed.

“Here.” Alice now touched the security shift detail for the Houston facility. “In here, you’ll find the different security details for Houston.” She watched them load on the screen. “What happens is a security detail is assigned to a project. As a security officer, we can read the overview of each project just so we’re familiarized with what the duty will be.”

Claire was reading over the different project titles listed below the menu options. “Look at this one called P30.”

Alice was struck by the name and watched the next screen load once Claire touched it. She quickly read the details about Project P30.

“It’s the mind control device,” Claire whispered.

“It’s…” Alice shook her head and better interpreted it. “P30 is a chemical.” She looked at Claire. “The device is just administering the P30 chemical into humans.”

Claire agreed, but she backed out to the security project details. Now she scrolled lower and grew wide eye at seeing Jill’s name. “Look.” She touched one called Project Kill Jill. She hastily read over what the details were about the project then whispered, “Those… bastards.”

Alice shook her head and pointed to the last sentence in the last paragraph. “Anytime you see a project that has respirators as required equipment then you know it’s research related to biochemical.”

Claire’s stomach had twisted tightly. She clenched her jaw but made herself back out to the project screen again. She continued scrolling down, but Alice’s voice made her stop.

“Project Ashford,” Alice whispered in worry. She quickly reached over and touched the link for the project. But a spinning red and white umbrella continued to twirl and was increasingly slow. “Shit,” Alice hissed.

Claire was about to touch the screen when the screen flickered and returned to the main logon screen. “Shit,” she cursed too. “I think they figured us out.” She was hastily reentering Alice’s logon information, but after she hit enter it denied them access. “They’ll probably block this tablet off the network soon too.” She was pissed and wanted to break the tablet.

Alice felt her heart race after she’d potentially seen Angie’s name as a project. But she couldn’t be sure if it was Angie or her father. Her mind started spinning like the tiny umbrella icon on the tablet.

Claire did her best to place the tablet back on the pedestal. After a deep breath, she looked at Alice and saw how rattled she was by what’d happened. “What is it?”

Alice glanced at Claire and shook her head. “Nothing.”

The human leader didn’t believe it and stepped up to Alice. “Don’t lie to me.” She grabbed Alice’s arm. “Who is Ashford?” She saw Alice wasn’t going to be forthcoming. “Is he a friend?”

Alice struggled with herself and wanted to lie further. She could easily work out of it with a smooth lie. Yet she faltered upon looking to Claire’s eyes. She didn’t see demand or anger, but she saw true concern.

“What is it?” Claire softly urged.

“If I’m right… Ashford is a girl,” Alice answered.

Claire was confused but pressed forward. “Who is she?” She sensed Alice’s apprehension despite it wasn’t written on Alice’s face. She could feel it perfectly.

Alice looked about the white bay and quietly tried, “Can we talk about this somewhere else?”

Claire understood what was bothering Alice so she nodded and decided going on the outside deck would be better. She didn’t say anything on the journey up, and she guided Alice over to a chain rail. She leaned on the large chain and waited to see if Alice would open up. She started wondering if she’d have to pry answers out.

“Doctor Charles Ashford created the T-Virus,” Alice started. She leaned against the post that linked the chain rail. “He invented it because his daughter had a degenerative nerve condition that would cause her to be wheelchair bound.”

Claire knew nothing about the T-Virus’s history so she intently listened to the story.

“Angela…” Alice faltered and corrected, “Angie was being administered the T-Virus at regular intervals, but she was also given the anti-virus to keep the mutation aspect in check.”

Claire considered this and checked, “The T-Virus would reanimate her degenerating nervous system?”

“Yes, exactly.” Alice folded her arms and studied the vast Pacific Ocean in front of them. “Problem was that the T-Virus was Umbrella property, and they had other plans. But some of Umbrella’s employees decided to make it public knowledge about the T-Virus.”

Claire had a furrowed brow and asked, “This happened at Raccoon City?”

“Yes.” Alice glanced at Claire but looked back at the ocean. She explained, “A lab tech, Lisa Addison, planned to sneak out a vile of the T-Virus and had a contact in security detail to help her get it out of the facility.”

Claire considered who the security officer was, but she instead asked, “What happened?”

“Hell broke loose,” Alice softly replied. “My security partner stole some of the viles, but he threw one on the lab floor. It broke open and filtered through the ventilation systems in the facility.”

“Everybody was infected,” Claire whispered.

Alice nodded once. “I joined the Umbrella security team that had to enter the facility. It’d been locked down by the artificial intelligence.” She trailed her eyes over to her friend. “We didn’t succeed in containing the virus and everybody was killed.”

“Except you.” Claire took a deep breath and tempted, “Were you the one working with the lab tech?”

Alice studied her friend for a moment then nod.

Claire looked away for a minute but curiosity resurfaced. “What happened to the scientist that invented it?” Some part of her hoped he was dead despite he meant well for his child.

“Dead.” Alice had sharp blue eyes back on her.

Claire let out a sigh. She straightened up from the chain. “What about his daughter?” She realized that was indeed Alice’s sore spot.

Alice clenched her jaw and patted her right palm a few times on the post. She finally gripped the post and swallowed hard. “I…” She clenched the post harder, and it softly protested against her superior strength.

Claire quickly pieced it together after she recalled Alice’s dream last night. “You killed her.” She half expected an argument, but none was coming from Alice. She took a deep breath and tried staying objective. “Why?”

Alice didn’t seem to want to reply and kept staring at the ocean. “After I escaped the facility, I was taken hostage by Umbrella… experimented on with the T-Virus.” She knew Claire had some of her dark history but not all of it. “When the T-Virus broke out in the city, I joined up with Jill, Carlos, LJ, and few others. We searched for Doctor Ashford’s daughter. We saved her under the pretense that Doctor Ashford could get us out of the city.”

“I remember they put the city on lock down when the virus spread from the facility.”

Alice nodded at Claire. “I was recaptured after we escaped the city and experimented on again, but Doctor Isaacs implanted a chip in my brain.”

Claire was shaking her head at the story about Alice’s past. She couldn’t believe it, but she knew it was true. She was wrapping her head around it.

“I didn’t know it.” Alice looked at her friend. “Jill, Carlos, and Angie rescued me from Umbrella then we disappeared from Umbrella’s radar. But Umbrella flushed me out by activating the chip. I was ordered to kill Angie and Jill then I disappeared from our hideout… returned to Umbrella.”

Claire stayed quiet as she absorbed the details about Alice. She wasn’t sure how she felt about the information and needed time to digest it. Claire looked at Alice and saw how uncertain Alice was now. She always saw Alice as being strong, stable, and confident. But in reality, Claire discovered a lonely woman that was being hounded and persecuted by many.

Alice was bitterly staring at the ocean. She wished to be gone from Claire and the survivors now that she’d removed her mask. She didn’t expect to ever find her place among humans again. She only wanted to take Umbrella to Hell with her. If she was going to pay for her sins then she wanted to make sure people like Wesker did the same.

Claire reached out and gently placed her hand on Alice’s shoulder. She wasn’t hurt when Alice slightly recoiled from her touch, but she moved forward so that Alice couldn’t back away. “I am sorry.” She found hesitant green eyes on her. “I don’t know if I could endure what you have endured.”

Alice opened and closed her mouth a few times. But words were useless now. She’d spoken enough. She just was unsure why Claire was apologetic to her. She was the monster born from an evil virus.

“I don’t think any less of you,” Claire softly told Alice.

But Alice didn’t say anything back to her. She instead pressed against the post like a caged animal. She stilled herself though despite Claire’s continued loyalty shook her, greatly.

“I’ve made mistakes… got people killed,” Claire confessed. “And I’ve shot friends when I didn’t want to do it.” She recalled their faces, but she pushed it down. “I can’t say I have the same pain as you, but I can relate to it.”

Alice was doing her best not to show any emotions. She tried staring through Claire, but it was very hard to ignore Claire’s beautiful face and her calm blue eyes.

“I’m still here for you, Alice.” Claire briefly placed her palm against Alice’s flushed cheek, but she withdrew just as quickly. She could tell that Alice needed personal space so she took a step back. “Promise,” she softly swore to her earlier statement. Claire forced her body to move away, and she started back to the main entrance to go below. She tugged on her cap’s brim in hopes it’d keep her from looking back at her distraught friend.

Claire would wait until Alice sought her out this afternoon or even tonight. Claire took a deep breath but the salty air did nothing to calm the painful ache in her chest. Damn she hated that Umbrella Corporation, and it took all her strength not to yell a stream of curse words. She could only hope that Alice would one day be able to move on from Umbrella and her dark past.

To be continued.