The thing in the ruins was near unstoppable. They unloaded round after round into it and still it kept coming.
Sheva had thought she’d known about B.O.W.s, having seen zombies, hunters, and the Majini and other mutants that Wesker had created, but she’d been wrong.
This thing wasn’t like any of them. Not even the Uroboros infected monsters they’d had to deal with had prepared her for it. It was infected with Uroboros the flailing black tendrils bursting from its fish-belly white skin made that apparent, but it wasn’t like the formless masses that she and Chris had managed to put down previously. Those things at least died.
This one was different, still recognizable as some kind of animal, though she couldn’t begin to imagine what kind. The size of it and the way its gaping mouth was full of tusks and fangs and jagged bits of bone made her want to think it was a hippopotamus, but the legs were too long and jointed all wrong, bone spurs protruding randomly from it. It staggered and lunged and screamed, healing from every injury inflicted.
Through the tendrils she could see glimpses of orange and red, but they were hidden most of the time.
Around its neck and limbs she could see metal glinting through the slime it oozed, restraints embedded in its flesh from the massive growth spurt whatever virus or viruses it was infected with had caused.
Because it couldn’t just be Uroboros.
It didn’t lash out blindly like the other monsters had, it fought like an animal, in that it shied away from gunfire and waited until one of them was reloading to attack and then it focused its attacks.
Whatever it was Wesker had put a great deal of effort into making it as dangerous as possible.
“Good luck with my little pet project,” he’d laughed as the thing lurched towards them, “I’ve been working on it for a very long time and I can assure you that it’s not like any other B.O.W. you’ve ever encountered. If you make it past I’ll tell you what you want to know.”
When the thing fell, only to shake itself and stand up yet again on its mismatched limbs, thrashing and howling Sheva had turned to Chris. He’d been in the BSAA from the start, survived Raccoon City, been through the worst, so she hoped that he’d have something to say, some insight on how to kill the thing so that it would stay dead.
He’d just shrugged, “Sometimes they don’t die.”
That thought horrified her.
Then he smiled, in the same distracted way he had since they’d managed to catch Irving and press him for information. Capturing the man should have been a victory, but when he hadn’t been able to give Chris any information about the whereabouts of Jill Valentine the older agent had been furious. Sheva had been barely able to keep him from taking it out on the smuggler.
From the start Chris had been convinced that Jill was out there, somewhere, alive, though Sheva didn’t dare ask why.
The few times she’d tried the look he’d given her made her lapse into silence.
It was a look that she’d seen before, one that told her not to press her luck.
Chris wore that look as they fought the undying thing. To him it was just another distraction, an obstacle on the way to his final goal, catching up with Wesker, who through it all had managed to stay just one step ahead of them. When they got Wesker he’d have the answers that Chris wanted.
All that stood between him and his goal was the thing. On the other side of the room was the door that Wesker had fled through while the thing attacked them.
Wesker was waiting on the other side, Chris was sure of it, that he’d want to gloat over what he assumed would be his moment of victory, taunt them one last time before escaping.
Chris had other thoughts.
Sheva wasn’t so sure.
She’d noticed something, something about the thing that she wasn’t sure if Chris had picked up on. She didn’t mention it because she wasn’t certain and it was very possible that she was just imagining things, but it seemed to her like the thing was deliberately keeping them back from the door, barring their passage onwards.
Delaying them until it was too late.
Except that suggested that it was even smarter than she wanted to think, or at least crueler, that it was toying with them like a cat with its prey.
The thing charged them.
Chris dodged right, she went left.
The thing paused for the barest instant, gasping and wheezing, letting Chris shoot directly into its open mouth.
It staggered back, reared up on its hind legs and stood there, tentacles wavering uncertainly.
Letting out a sound so shrill that Sheva wanted to cover her ears, it dropped back down and lunged.
Not towards Chris, who had taken advantage of its stopping to shoot it in the chest and stomach, hoping to hit something vital, but towards her.
Tentacles slapped wetly against the floor as it lashed out, reaching for her.
Claws missed her by inches and the thing stumbled, a milky orange cyst rising to the surface along its shoulder.
Sheva took aim and the cyst exploded in a spray of gore.
The shambling horror collapsed, wailing like a dying thing.
But it wasn’t.
Chris, still reloading, shouted at her.
“There, in its chest, shoot that!”
Between the tendrils, embedded deep in the sagging flesh of its underside, was something red. Sheva thought at first that it was another cyst, but then she caught a glimpse of metal around it, liquid moving inside.
It wasn’t part of the creature and what purpose it served was beyond her, but she did as told, hoping that it would do something.
The way it was thrashing meant that it wasn’t an easy shot, but, holding her breath, trying to still her racing heart as she hoped for something, anything, she managed.
Red liquid too bright and thin to be blood dripped down the thing’s front when the glass shattered.
It shuddered and let out another, quieter sound, more like a sob than a howl and lay still.
The tentacles still twitched and its claws raked deep gouges into the floor, but it made no move to get up.
“We did it!” She smiled.
Chris walked past her, not even looking at the thing.
She hurried to follow, catching up with him as he flung the door open.
Sure enough Chris was right, Wesker was waiting on the other side, leaning against the wall and smirking.
There was nowhere for him to run, but he seemed unconcerned.
“Wesker!” Chris shouted, shaking with rage.
“I know, I know,” he sighed as though bored with it all, “You want to know where your dear, missing Jill is. That’s why you came here, but did you ever wonder where the picture came from? Of her sleeping so peacefully in cryo-stasis? Did it ever strike you as strange that someone was there to take a picture like that yet give only the vague hint that she was somewhere in Africa?”
“Cut the bullshit,” Chris snarled, “I want answers!”
“I’m getting there,” Wesker straightened up and brushed some bit of unseen dust from his sleeve, “It’s all linked to my plan, my ultimate victory. It’s not Uroboros you know. Not just Uroboros at least. You’ve been a thorn in my side for so long Chris, that I couldn’t just leave you to live or die in the new world I’m about to create. One way or another, the fact that you’ve failed isn’t enough. I wanted to see you utterly crushed. Not just to know that you suffered the ultimate defeat, but see, with my own two eyes, you at your absolute nadir. That’s why I sent that picture to you Chris. Because I knew that you’d come and that you’d hope.”
“Where is she?” Chris raised his gun.
Wesker effortlessly dodged the shot when it came, “Patience Chris, I’m getting there. Jill was vital to my research, the antibodies in her blood like nothing I’d ever encountered, nothing I could have hoped to find. Using them I was able to refine the Progenitor virus into something new, Uroboros. After that I had little use for her. The P-30 kept her an obedient, if begrudging assistant, and it was a fun game, to force her to obey my every whim, carry out countless tests and help dispose of the failures. Watching her was amusing, knowing how she suffered, unable to do anything other than follow orders. Of course all good things must come to an end and Uroboros wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. Too virulent, in all the tests there were no true successes. Plenty of failures like those that you no doubt encountered, but nothing quite what I was looking for. So I continued work on Uroboros, hoping for a more workable strain. Jill continued to help me of course and went from being my first test subject to my final one. Watching her as she injected herself with the final variant of Uroboros was delightful, and though the end results left something to be desired, it gave me what I needed to finish the rest without her.”
When Chris went to shoot him again Wesker covered the distance between the two of them faster than the eye could follow and batted the gun out of his hands, tossing him aside as though he weighed nothing.
“I know, I know,” Wesker’s smirk grew to a genuine, hateful smile, “Where’s Jill? That’s all you care about. Well, rest assured, she remained lucid through the entire process. I’ll admit it was hard to tell initially, but when I resumed dosing her with P-30, just to see if it would still work, I was amazed. She obeyed my orders as best as she was able given the physical limitations she had to account for, the same as before, no matter how complex. Dear Jill understood every word I said to her. Every word. To some degree I believe that she was even sane, enough so that if not for the P-30 and my ordering her not to let anyone other than myself out of that room, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had simply stood aside and let the two of you pass.”
Until that point Sheva had thought that she’d seen every awful thing imaginable, the deaths of her family members, rampaging B.O.W.s, the Majini villages, but she hadn’t.
Seeing the look of final defeat overcome Chris, who until that point had been unstoppable, nearly emotionless, hearing his agonized wail as he fell to his knees, chilled her to the bone.
And Wesker laughed through it all.