|William Birkin||The underground laboratory of one Doctor William Birkin is practically a Mecca to adherents of the scripture that an organized mind and workspace is the only way to live. It's a sterile, unforgiving environment, devoid of any color that isn't stainless steel or 'operating theater' white, and the only sound that constantly dominates the space is the distant hum of an industrial heating and cooling system. Even the air smells clean and sterile, no doubt another function of that humming unit.
The laboratory itself is extensive, but only by the standards held to other personal labs. It contains three seperate specialized workspaces, each sealed behind airlocks and labeled with the fields they're dedicated to: Chemistry, Biology, and Virology. It is in the latter most that one would find the current sole occupant of the underground 'facility,' working away with a single-minded focus in a far corner of the lab.
"Once again the subjects show incompatibility with the G-Virus," he mumbles darkly into an audio recorder held in one hand while he observes a dark, twitching mass held within a sealed, plexiglass cage repeatedly ram the sides to no avail, "Increased aggression, strength, and endurance are all present as one would expect, but the form is inefficient. The subject has mutated out of control and displays significant loss in limb control and environmental awareness as well as an inability to reason on even a basic, animal level." A sharp click signals a pause in the recording as he lets out a sigh and sags backwards into his chair, staring up at the ceiling.
|Albert Wesker||Under normal circumstances, early warning systems and klaxons would have announced the first phases of any outsider trying to encroach on the hidden lab-- unless, of course, the interloper happens to know all the right combinations, and hidden switches, and carefully avoid various pressure-sensitive triggers on the way to the access lift. In that case, Birkin and any security he might have would only have the video feeds and airlock indicator lights to signify the arrival of another warm body; the internal sensors would append another count to that tally, as well.
All easy to miss, engrossed in one's work. At least, until the elevator providing access to this lab disembarks from where it had rested since dropping Doctor Birkin off some hours before, and ascends the distance towards the surface. Even more notable once the capsule descends anew, all its security clearances in order to add a second inhabitant to the beyond-classified facility as the lift's doors open smoothly, mechanically, and admit Albert Wesker, sharply dressed against the winter cold. The statuesque blonde advances with graceful precision, an unassuming briefcase lightly swinging in the grip of his gloved left hand, each of the lab's security doors opening for him until he strides into Birkin's workspace as if this most isolated of environments were a second home.
His right hand plucks the dark glasses from his eyes, and Wesker's gaze travels past Birkin to the violent struggles of the biomass sealed in containment beyond. Where others would show disgust, recoil in dread, Dr. Wesker studies with some fascinated intensity. "Still the same roadblocks in primary administration of G, I see." He observes matter-of-factly, folding and tucking away the glasses in the breast pocket of his long, black coat. "Any more luck identifying the genetic markers that might indicate a successful adaptation?"
It's what passes for 'Hello, old friend' in the mad scientist world.
|William Birkin||Each lab in the small facility contains a terminal that, when paired with the proper clearance codes, monitors and controls all the security systems (amongst many other functions) throughout the entrance and the lab itself, theoretically making it difficult for even cleared visitors to access the elevator without alerting anyone already within. In practice, however, Birkin's obsessesive focus renders it all pointless, for it is the sound of the airlock cycling that first catches his attention. Glancing aside towards the door, he notices the familiar form of his colleague and friend and returns his attention to the cage without a second look.
When he's finally joined by the new arrival, he merely grunts a dour confirmation of Wesker's observation, before waving vaguely towards a small stack of notes nearby as answer to his question. "Very little," he finally elaborates once he's swallowed his latest frustration enough to speak, "I'm close. I know I am. It's like a word stuck on the tip of my tongue." He rises from his stool and approaches the plexiglass cage, tapping on the side opposite the creature's focus, drawing it towards the sound of his finger in a waddling, sliding mass aided by small, gripping tentacles. "This one deteriorated slower than the others. I was able to record several transitionary stages, but it continued to mutate beyond acceptable bounds without seemingly any external stimuli." He sighs, dismissing his frustration and letting it turn into simple annoyance before he finally notices the briefcase in Wesker's hand.
"What's that?" he asks, all traces of his disappointment gone in an instant as curiosity sets in.
|Albert Wesker||There's a pensive nod in punctuation of Birkin's explanation, neither satisfaction nor doubt showing on Wesker's features. It might not be there yet, but... "If anyone can solve this puzzle, I've faith that it's you." And what are puzzles for if not to be solved by the industrious and innovative? Dr. Wesker spends several more moments studying and considering the abberrant mutation before he's stirred back to the present by the inquiry, and steps towards the nearby workstation to set said briefcase down upon it.
It's quickly followed by his PDA, which is activated and begins blanketing electronic listening and recording equipment in their immediate vicinity with undue amounts of rampant interference. "This..." Wesker muses, dialing in the combination on the case and releasing an unusually reinforced seal with a hiss before lifting it to reveal a sealed case tailor made for sample containment, only one of several slots filled by an almost equally well sealed vial. "Is one of the last artifacts to make it out of Arklay Mountain before the airstrike."
Wesker continues, curious but mutedly so, after all: "In all likelihood it's only a sample of R or T-- but I believe it was on its way to WilPharma." Interesting, that, regardless. "But better we be safe than sorry. Analyze a small sample, find out what my agent brought out, if you would." Which.. Birkin likely can't help himself, can he? "There's more, William..."
Wesker pauses, cementing a frown on his features, "Military Special Forces may have caused the Event at Arklay-- it appears they may have gone in trying to seize or purify the facility. It went... poorly."
|William Birkin||Birkin notes the familiar use of Wesker's PDA with increased interest, his focus now dominated by that mysterious briefcase. When it's revealed to contain a sealed vial, Birkin glances quickly towards Wesker as he gives his explanation, and then back to the mysterious sample. "R or T," Birkin muses, his curiosity muted for a moment, both strains already known to him to varying degrees, "So what? I have dozens of samples of T here, and have access to hundreds of both in the Hive. What makes this one so-" He stops, almost visibly backtracking through the conversation before his eyes flick back to Wesker again. "Hold on, did you say airstrike?"
When he's informed that there's more, his expression changes from confusion into grim understanding. "I didn't expect them to make such drastic steps so soon," he mutters, largely to himself. If Wesker was anticipating Birkin's surprise at learning of the presence of Military forces being the cause of some sort of event at the Arklay facility, he's in for a disappointment. Birkin wanders away from Wesker at this point, mumbling something under his breath as he approaches the airlock leading back out into the small connecting corridor.
|Albert Wesker||"An Umbrella Commando team was in shortly thereafter, possibly simply for B.O.W. containment, possibly because there was something of great priority in Arklay." Wesker posits. "And possibly something of great importance to bury. The military airstrike is unlikely to have caused the earthquakes your sensors certainly picked up; I'd suspect final-phase containment solutions in the concealed portions of the Mountain. My intelligence from inside the facility suggests advanced research into T and R-variant B.O.W.s... and even fools treading the halls of giants may wander off with their secrets."
Birkin would know Wesker well enough to safely hypothesize that Albert tries -not- to employ fools. Their chances of true success may be small, in this venture-- but what a venture it is. "William." Wesker appeals to extend the private meeting. "Umbrella is risking full-scale outbreak-level situations in several operations within Raccoon City. We're not equipped to contain the potential problems, and the Company knows it."
The implications are weighty, but does he have to spell it out? Both men remember Dr. Marcus; and how Umbrella consolidates its problems.
|William Birkin||Birkin waves off the implications Wesker brings up, glancing over his shoulder towards his old friend with a look of tired indifference. He knows what the other man is driving at, so instead of waiting for him to bring it up, he simply gets right to the point; "What do I care? Outbreaks will eventually be contained as they always are, and in the meantime I'm untouchable down here. Data is one thing, but I have several samples and test subjects that I'm simply not equipped to transport. Leaving now would set me back by months. It's out of the question." He slaps a button on the side of the airlock as he steps into it and it cycles through, quickly scrubbing the air of all traces of potential viral strains as he steps out into the hall and peers through the plexiglass seperating the lab from the small connecting corridor, waiting for Albert to follow him. When and if the airlock cycles again to let his visitor through, he leads him towards a door at the far end of the hall and steps into a small living area, complete with a combination kitchennette and dining room that leads into a small office that contains a closed door that likely leads to his quarters.
"Besides, there's something you should know," he continues, following the momentarily paused conversation as he locates and withdraws a bottle of scotch and a pair of glasses, "Someone's been leaking information to the government. High-level information. They contacted me about setting up a deal. Protection and increased funds if I bring the G-Virus with me." He glances towards Wesker's PDA, knowing the feedback it generates is the only thing keeping an Umbrella Security team from busting down his door and 'neutralizing' him on the spot for even mentioning such an outreach from the feds. "I told them I'd consider it, but I think they knew I was just stalling for time. I didn't expect them to make such overt moves, however." He pours out a fair measure of scotch into both glasses and offers one to Wesker before taking his own and retreating to his desk. He sighs when he settles down, shaking his head wearily, "This was always your expertise. I just want to do my research. I've never had much of a head for these exhausting intrigues."
|Albert Wesker||"If I'm the expert, William, then listen to me." Wesker retorts rather emphatically, "I know I can't make you leave, and I'm not asking you to." Beat. Albert levels his gaze on his contemporary, "But get ready to. Get me samples of what you're working on, as quickly as you can. Quietly back up what you need to take. Finish experiments you can't move, take the detailed sample data." It's a polite way of describing biomass, and it's not advice Dr. Wesker gives lightly.
"Umbrella is directly targeting S.T.A.R.S. and the more ground the military gains, the more likely it is to lead Commandos here. If not the Government bumbling about and destroying more research, then the Company containing its mess. You may be more than secure from containment failure at any Raccoon City lab, William-- but we both know how much is centered here, and the models on what happens when Saturation passes the nominal containment threshholds. Face facts, old friend. You know they're coming eventually, they're not going to rely on your good will. Umbrella isn't going to take any chances on either of us defecting."
|William Birkin||Birkin just levels a studious gaze on Albert, measuring his words with years of experience with the man. After a moment of consideration, he relents and lets out a sigh, draining another fraction of scotch from his glass before he sets it down on the surface of the minimalist desk that he sits at. "This is all a massive inconvenience, I hope you realize that. Isn't it your job to contain this sort of thing?" he asks of Wesker, only the slightest hint of humor laced into his largely annoyed tone of voice, "I'll begin preperations, but there's a lot to comb through. I was just beginning to consider moving some of the less relevant samples to the Hive. My freezer is practically full." He turns to the terminal on his desk, quickly entering the complex alpha-numeric string that serves as his password for this particular week in order to gain access to the files stored within. He takes out the audio recorder from his earlier experiment and slots it into a USB drive on the side of the discreet tower before sparing a momentary glance to Wesker, "What's the timeframe?"
No matter the answer, whether it's a handful of hours or months, he lets out a weary sigh of annoyance and starts to upload the data from his recorder onto the networked storage of his lab with a few practiced keystrokes. "And what, exactly, should I do about the feds? They'll want a concrete answer sooner rather than later, especially if they're impatient enough to hit the Arklay facility. I don't need those buffoons breathing down my neck as well. If they try to get past the security up top, they might trigger some hidden failsafe of Umbrella's and ruin all my research."
|Albert Wesker||"Apparently not." Wesker deadpans, as to the task of containment. "I do hope I'm wrong, but there are too many threats in motion not to take precautions of our own, William. /Decades/ of work..." Not to mention the value of each individual in question. "And we are decidedly /not/ disposable." The frown on Wesker's face deepens as he considers the rest, "Yesterday would have been ideal." The timeframe is something of a chaos theory countdown. Just how long -can- their peaceful existance last?
"We need these assets under -our- control. When the Company is finished quarreling with Delta Force, perhaps there will be good sides to be chosen. Compartmentalize our holdings, be prepared to disappear key personnel like you... and we may come out the other side of this with our research intact. Uncle Sam didn't come to Umbrella for evolution; war never changes." Even as the weapons most certainly do.
"Telling the Feds anything could backfire. They're just as likely as the Company to use your family against you. I'd suggest a vacation." Never quite so simple, is it? A simple procedure is offered for the rest, however. "Check that Arklay sample, and if you can do it without notice, get me anything else that's high priority. I'll be back for the case tomorrow." A finger hovers over the jammer, an arched brow punctuating Birkin's response quizzically.
|Sherry Birkin||William Birkin's secure line begins to ring. Ring-Ring-Ring. Phone Call Phone Call!|
|William Birkin||A vacation. The idea is almost laughable. Then again, Sherry would likely enjoy some time on a beach. Or maybe she wouldn't. Creating biological weapons from multiple strains of highly mutable viral agents was always more predictable than a teenagers response to anything. Speaking of which...
Once William's secure line begins to ring, he looks at it for a long moment, considering the implications of its sudden revival. It was usually a very quiet line. It was set-up for him by Wesker himself, or rather a tech Wesker knew from somewhere, so he had little doubt it was, for the moment, unmonitored by Umbrella or anyone else. It was intended as a line he could use to contact Sherry or Annette directly for whatever reason, and they in return, but in practice it sat quietly unused most of the time. They weren't a very chatty family, after all. Normally he'd ignore it, but something about the timing set his teeth on edge. "Yesterday. Got it. I'll make sure everything of importance is in your hands as soon as I can," he quickly reassures Wesker before waving at him to release the jammer so he can actually hold a conversation on the line without distortion rendering the call pointless, and then proceeds to answer.
|Albert Wesker||There is one final carrot to offer, after all. "I may have two subjects of great interest to you before we're done with this lab, if you can get us a... private window." Then, Birkin is left to his phone call. The hiss on the line goes away quickly, Wesker's device deactivated and tucked away in his jacket, the inner compartment of the 'briefcase' he brought folded out of the lining and set aside on Birkin's desk before the case is latched back up. The graceful blonde plucks it back up and straightens his coat, turning to head back the way he came. "We'll speak soon." He's a busy man making an unscheduled stop; and leaving with everything he came in with, obviously.|
|Sherry Birkin||The voice on the other end of the line was not feminine in the least, it held the refined air of command and nobility and came from the type of man who not only demanded respect but punished any such lack quite effortlessly, "Hello William." The voice on the other end of the line was that of Lord Oswell E. Spencer; head of the Umbrella Corporation. The sound in the background sounded like that of a jet flying, likely the call had come from satellite phone. He heard another sound as well, a familiar voice asking, "Can I speak to my father yet?"|
|William Birkin||Immediately William snaps his fingers and even tosses a pencil at Wesker's back as the man turns to leave just as Spencer's voice comes through the phone. The sheer fact that Oswell would choose to call him on this particular line is reason enough to worry. Coupled with the fact that he can hear Sherry in the background? It doesn't take a genius of William's caliber to understand what's happening. "Lord Spencer," he replies, fixing Albert with a look as he says that name in the most polite manner he could possibly muster through the shock, "A pleasure, as always, though admittedly I'm a little..." He clears his throat, searching for a word to correctly summarize his feelings on the situation that he's steadily puzzling out from the first few clues he's been provided, wittingly or not, "Surprised to hear your voice. Especially on this line. To what do I owe the pleasure?"|
|Albert Wesker||Wesker stops beside the door, and out of the camera angles, turning an ear Birkin's way, but his eyes to the corridor beyond the lab. A cursory check is paid to the sidearm concealed in a shoulder holster beneath his coat, the snap undone all too casually. Some men don't make a habit of being caught unprepared, even by the worst case scenario.|
|Sherry Birkin||"It's been too long since we last spoke." Spencer replied calmly on the other end of the line, acting as if not a thing was wrong, "I thought it would be good to touch base and let you know that with the current problems in Raccoon City and unwelcome attention." The way he said the last bit was vague, perhaps referring to the situation in the Mountains or even more startlingly; the fact that Birkin had been approached by the US Government.
"I had decided it would be best if we relocated some of the family members of our most important researchers to more comfortable locations. I'm sure you understand." Spencer's voice had an edge of danger to it despite his sincerity, the families of the researchers being under close watch was as much a security measure as anything. It was also security for himself.
A safeguard against betrayal.
"How goes the current research, old boy?"
|William Birkin||Birkin had already mostly deciphered the purpose behind the phone call, but to hear Spencer lay it out for him so plainly, even if the true intent was hidden beneath the friendly, well-meaning surface, was a real gut punch. He grits his teeth, ready to respond in anger in an instant, but instead he takes a second, perhaps a suspicious second, to calm his emotions and reply in his classically cold tones. "As generous as ever," he says, glancing up to Wesker, "Might I ask where you'll be taking my daughter, then?" It's a longshot, and it's not really a question he anticipates getting an answer to so much as an excuse to voice the gist of the conversation to Albert. He almost forgets Spencer's question in the wave of anger, but at last moment he remembers and glances to his terminal, still displaying the records of his latest few experiments, many of which are stored as recordings of himself voicing his findings. "The G-Virus proves highly mutable and a likely candidate for many future applications," he reports diplomatically, "All that's left is isolating a few key variables and we can begin production on products that'll put our current line to shame."|
|Sherry Birkin||Spencer ignored the question about Sherry, listening to the explanation of G, "Excellent William, I'm most pleased to hear of your progress. Be sure to tell Anette I send my regards. When your work is done in Raccoon City, you'll be free to join Sherry in Paris. She's quite anxious to speak to you." There was a pause, "Take care of yourself William and tell Albert I said Hello. I'll put Sherry on the line." It was likely a coincidence that he asked for such a thing, there was no way he knew Wesker was there now...|
|Albert Wesker||There's a distinctly dour look somewhere between 'see' and 'told you so' that's levelled on Birkin as Wesker catches the jist of the conversation, simply lingering in the doorway and alternately monitoring the early warning stations and the hallway that so often evade William's notice. There's a lessening of tension on Wesker's part, paradoxically-- if Spencer is trying to leverage Birkin's loyalty so blatantly, they're likely not making a more dramatic move against the researcher; yet.|
|William Birkin||"I'll do so," Birkin responds to Spencer, his free hand balled into a fist as he glares straight ahead, waiting to hear the voice of his daughter on the other end of the line. "Sherry?" he asks, "Listen to me, Sherry. Lord Spencer is an old friend. You're safe with him." That may ring false considering he's more or less kidnapped her without any warning from her parents, but Birkin has an answer for that as well. "I must have forgotten to tell you his men were coming to pick you up. Work and all," he drones, careful to keep his voice free of emotion. Better to continue thinking her father is an uncaring and distant man who was to caught up in his research to even tell her that Spencer would be coming to get her than to let the realization sink in that she's more or less been kidnapped and being held as ransom.|
|Sherry Birkin||There was a brief moment of silence as the phone was transferred over to Sherry, who cried out excitedly, "Daddy!" She immediately silenced herself at the explanation given by her father and sighed audibly, the dreadful sigh of a teenage girl, "I figured it was like, something like that. Some warning would have been nice, I didn't even have time to pack much.." Another sigh, "How's Mom doing? Is she remembering to keep you fed?"|
|Albert Wesker||Wesker lingers as Birkin talks to his daughter, clearly taking little pleasure from his warning coming to fruition already-- at least, little visible pleasure. The wheels are, naturally, already turning as the pieces fall into place, and the major players involved begin to satisfy the operative's expectations; to elevate his concerns.|
|William Birkin||"Yes she is," William responds, "She's doing fine." Her simple question makes it even harder to remain devoid of emotion, to keep the anger from slipping into his voice while he responds. His eyes are on Wesker now, and there's a look in them that is rarely there. A look of pure hate and determination as he grabs a pen and quickly jots down Paris on a pad near his hand. "Don't worry about me or your mother. We'll be along soon enough. Just need to finish up some work here for Lord Spencer," he assures her, trying to make it sound like he's largely distracted by something else. "But listen to me, Sherry. You behave, alright? No running off, and..." he struggles for a moment, unused to this whole parenting thing, "Brush your teeth after every meal. Make sure your eating well." Things most eighteen year olds have figured out by now. "I have to go now, Sherry. I'll keep this line near me at all times, as usual. Call me if you have any problems," he insists, likely tipping her off that SOMETHING is amiss simply by how long it took him to try and extricate himself from the conversation, and how he's given her an open invitation to call him while he works.|
|Sherry Birkin||Sherry listened carefully, doing her best not to act out of sorts around Lord Spencer given what her father seems to be hinting at by his actually speaking to her for more than a few words. Call him any time? That wasn't the norm.
"I'm eighteen dad, I think I can remember to brush my teeth." Sherry replied with a little laugh, almost a nervous one given that her suspicions had been confirmed, "Try to hurry up in Raccoon City ok? I want us all to spend Christmas together this year."
She sighed again, "I love you. Tell Mom I love her to. Bye Daddy."
|William Birkin||"I love you too, Sherry," Birkin responds, waiting a moment before he hangs up the phone and turns to Wesker. He stares at him for a moment, silent and thoughtful, careful not to say anything until Wesker's turned the jammer back on. When he does, finally, he says only two words: "He's dead."
With that, he rises from his desk and moves swiftly towards Wesker -- or more accurately, the door. "Him and his pathetic little company," he blurts out, moving into the hallway and turning towards the heaviest looking door lining the small walkway. He slides his keycard into an elock on the side and enters a quick series of numbers before pulling the door open and releasing a cold blast of air. Inside is a freezer lined with various samples of dead (or at least unmoving) creatures and what used to be creatures, tubes of various colored liquids, and an assortment of chemicals. "You want an outbreak? I'll give you a damn outbreak. We'll see how long your company lasts when Umbrella's name is plastered in every paper, every article. This city will burn and it will be his funeral pyre."
|Sherry Birkin||When the phone was hung up, Sherry handed it back to Lord Spencer and looked out the window of the airplane towards the glittering lights of Paris. She had always dreamed of going there, but she had hoped it would be under better circumstances.
So long Raccoon City.
|Albert Wesker||"Don't be a fool." Wesker strongly suggests, pacing Birkin from the lab, even as his eyes pass over the various experiments. "Rash action just gives them the initiative to do what they will with her." Not that that's out of the question -anyway-, as far as the operative can discern, but there are levels of risk to consider. "Keep to your -job-." The way he emphasizes it, the look given to William-- it suggests more than the profession he's undertaken. "We -just- talked about this." And calls back to the progression of events Wesker had just been pitching to the notably more apathetic researcher.
"Do as I ask. Negotiate from a position of strength." Even as Birkin's impulses and anger provide yet another reinforcement to Wesker's analysis of the situation in Raccoon City; they simply aren't prepared for the saturation of egos and experiments present in the city. Not if things start going awry. "Unless you're ready to give up on getting her back already." Wesker's eyes narrow, steady on Birkin for long moments before he makes a move to stride towards the elevator once more, apparently deciding his point is either made... or moot.
|William Birkin||Birkin pauses, though in truth he's already come to a stop to survey the wide variety of biological weapons he has at his disposal. You don't need to be the strongest or the fastest when you can command a horrific mutant monstrosity. It's only a matter of mixing the right ingredients in the right body. "I've perfected it, Wesker," he murmurs, his voice barely a whisper as he looks over his shoulder, turning to face his only friend, "The serum. It's ready. I'll give it to you, but you need to help me get her back. Help me kill Spencer like we did with Marcus." Wesker is his last reasonable chance of defeating Spencer. If he doesn't agree to help...
Birkin's gaze shifts towards the rows of purple vials, all labeled 'G-Virus' that line the walls next to him.
|Albert Wesker||A matter of mixing the right ingredients in the right body, indeed. Wesker knows exactly what Birkin refers to, "And we know I'm ready to adapt to it." Some might say born ready; and there have been improvements since then. "You'll always have whatever help I can provide." the operative reminds Birkin simply-- and Wesker's capacity to help is already quite noteworthy. If anyone can find her in a timely fashion? Well, he's right here. "We'll see to this newest threat the same as any other. All it impacts is our timetable." And, well, the weight of the risks; but that's mostly on William, isn't it? "Get your work ready, William." Because if it wasn't clear already, it is now-- they need to move.|