|Buck Rogers|| The rotation of the red police lights flashes across Buck's face in two-second rhythms; light-dark pause pause light-dark pause pause, a flame-like flicker that conjures memories of earlier times--
a gibbering crowd flooding a street
the smash of glass and its hailstone rain over scorched asphalt
waves of heat blackening leather and metal
two girls, pretty and panicked, and a bloody knife
and brings a smile to Buck's face. The thin, cynical officer next to him, lurking in a shadowy alcove near an alleyway where the security fence terminates against a brick wall, counts over the bundle of francs in his hands. "Okay," he says, in unpracticed English, "this way." There's a weakness in the iron mesh-- it's pushed in, it gives, and the giant of a man, backlit by the distant red, fades into the blackened quarantine zone; away from light, away from power, away from security. Beneath the stars and the pale needle-crescent moon, it's a ruin rich in shadow and choking dusts of rubble.. and dangers unknown, untold to the public. But there is something here Buck must find, something worth breaking the law, bribing a police officer, hurling himself into potential danger, and that something sets his mouth in a grim line. His ever-so-expensive shoes are surprisingly quiet when they thump against the sidewalk. On this outside edge of the blast zone, the buildings are mostly fine.
His journey lies deeper.
|Isabel||Less than a block away, another intruder watches the deal go down. Isabel Welsh isn't inclined to be a legal eagle, though: She's here to investigate some of the rumors that have come to surround the area in the days since the blast. Even her uPhone is set into its improvised hat mount, a modification made long ago in Raccoon City for hands-free filming. Her compact leather backpack is strapped on as well, and a pair of cheap blankets are stuffed into the top, easy to grab and pull out.
When the corrupt cop pockets his reward and turns to let Buck in, she makes her move. Taking advantage of the corner, she darts forward, grabs hold of the fence, and carefully shimmies her way up. At the top, holding on with one hand, she pulls out one of the blankets, shakes it out, and throws it up to drape over the top of the fence. The second follows it in short order. Protected from the sharp objects on top, she clambers over.
And thus begins another investigation... after she gets down from here, anyway!
|Trixie||The Paris police aren't the only sentinels on duty at this site. The F.B.C. put their thumb into this pie very quickly, being involved in some of the events that led to the quarantine zone. The French government isn't thrilled with that, but also must acknowledge that the F.B.C. is one of only a handful of organizations in the world trained and equipped to deal with potential B.O.W.'s that might have escaped or otherwise materialized in the aftermath of the explosion of the Umbrella complex.
It is for these reasons that Corporal Trixie Mackenzie finds herself walking another perimeter patrol in another outbreak zone, carbine in hand and stifling more than occasional yawns. "Chair-polishing jerkoffs... if they weren't gonna pick me for the main mission, they could've at least not picked me at all," she grumbles through the yawn, bitterly reminded of days upon days of walking perimeter during the original outbreak.
Her boredom doesn't last long, however. A faint flicker of movement deeper into the zone is the first thing that gets her attention. The second is the sound of someone trying to climb a chain-link fence quietly, a feat the very best operators struggle with. She steals closer to the second sound, bringing her carbine to her shoulder and praying it won't be necessary. The special anti-B.O.W. rounds can do terrible things to a human body...
|Buck Rogers|| Buck stands in the shadow of an evacuated co-op. An unlit fluorescent sign hangs above the front door: a dull green box, within it text of faded red and blue. An eggplant with a smiling face accompanies. As the wind blows, howling through the desolate streets, one of the fixtures holding the sign gives-- weakened by the explosion. There's a screech and it shakes, slides, swings down, smashing against the brick facade.
At his feet, the broken pieces clump like Christmas ornaments, and break beneath heel just as easily. "Smile," he commands the thing behind him, walking along. The eggplant continues to rock back and forth. Smiling, smiling, smiling.
There remain blocks to travel. Buck's goal lies ever onward, in the epicenter-- or near enough as to make no nevermind. At times, the wind sounds like moaning. At times, Buck feels at home.
|Isabel||Fence-climbing is a rather engrossing activity, especially when you're trying to leave no sign of your presence: Isabel is unaware of the presence of Trixie, caught up as she is in reclaiming the blankets. She pulls at them, finally getting them dislodged, and drops them to the concrete below. Moments later, she's descending the chainlink and quickly gathering up the blankets.
So much for getting in. Now she just has to find something worth filming.
There's a sound nearby, the screech of tortured metal and a smash of breaking... something! Isabel cringes, quickly ducking into the shadow of an abandoned storefront. What was /that/?
|Trixie||Trixie winces at the sudden crash, pausing and holding her breath as she looks for the source. A faint, rhythmic movement in the shadows is the only thing she can see. Probably just damaged architecture surrendering to gravity, but who can tell? She focuses on the bird in the hand for the moment... the figure hidden near the fence.
Taking a bead on Isabel with her carbine, she mentally prepares herself for the worst. "Step out into the light, intruder," she states, coldly and firmly, inwardly regretting ever going Army. "Or be shot. Choose wisely."
|Buck Rogers|| The giant wanders down the street. Gone is the broken sign; here now is the start of rubble, of chip-toothed buildings lining streets bleeding like an old man's gums. "Ol' Father Paris," Buck declares with a laugh, fingers wrapping around a lamp post and tightening, tighter, white-knuckled and spinning in slow circles, drinking in the rancid breath of the patriarch. The wind, coughing, death-rattle thing that it is, comes from alleys and streets in dusty sworls. "You and Raccoon woulda made beautiful broken babies."
He releases at the point of highest speed, lurching into a deadly momentum that carries him to the abandoned vehicles lining the street. He can't slow in time and smashes, hands-first, into the side of one, lifting it off its tires before settling it down with a groan, and ducking low to peek in the backseat. "Where are you, beautiful?" he coos, rumbles, voice as low and rough as the shifting wrecks of stone and support all around him. "Daddy misses you."
|Isabel||Whatever's making the noises further inside this forbidden zone is forgotten at the sharp command from outside the chainlink. Isabel freezes, ever so slowly glancing back in the direction of the fence. Someone's there. And there's a gun pointed right at her!
But that voice is familiar. She levers herself to her feet, turning, her hands held carefully away from her sides. "Trixie..?"
|Trixie||Trixie blinks at that soft question. "Who the... Isabel?" she asks, studying the shadow near the wall of the storefront.
Whatever else she might have said is lost in the smack and metallic groan of the car tipping and being resettled with a creak of overstressed suspension. She darts a glance in that direction, wincing, then reluctantly looks back to Isabel, lowering the muzzle of the modified M4.
"Get out into the light, damn it... I don't have time for this. Something's mucking around in my AOR and you're climbing over a quarantine fence during the bitching hours? It's dangerous in here!"
|Buck Rogers|| "Tsk, tsk, tsk," Buck clicks, tongue gone to work with severe disapproval. "You know I don't like hide-and-seek, princess," he chides, voice rising in tempo and temper. His head withdraws from the open backseat window. He smashes a balled fist against the top, driving, pushing through, until the metal dents beneath his strength. The sound echoes louder than his voice. "Where are you, sweetheart?" He pivots and flies, arms a-swingin' with every thundering step, an earthquake in motion. He's going from car to car, smashing windows and windshields, ruffling through backseats, always hopeful-- and always, in the end, pulling back with a disappointed look.
At some point, he's taken to whistling. It's the Andry Griffith tune fused with a funeral dirge; a-doot-doot, doo, doo doo doo doo... and then it drops, haunting, as he whistles lower pitched on the inhale. He should have expected the stray dog that pads its way, quiet and cautious, from the rubble-strewn expanse of an automotive repair shop. "Hey, buddy," he calls, seeing it, hearing it growl and press low. His smile's wide and he stares it down. "Atta boy," he praises, as its raised tail lowers, and the growl turns to whimper-- it smells something in the man, sees something unnatural in the way his titanic frame swells, and his smile widens in the dark, sharp-toothed and terrible. The way the shadows play over the crags of his face. The mutt makes obeisance.
No one could fault Buck for not expecting an entire pack of strays-- is that unnatural color in their eyes, rotten skin around their mouths, sores weeping blood and pus along ratty, mangy, falling-out fur? It seems like it. A handful of them, in tandem, sprint toward him and snarl.
In a moment of inspiration, Buck -roars-, leonine; all the power of his lungs come to bear, Achilles rage and wrath in full glory. The dogs pause.
When Buck is, later, seated atop a turned-over, black-burnt jeep, above six feet above the snapping dogs, he'll think maybe that should have worked.
|Isabel||"Jeez, Trix, don't have a buffalo," Isabel replies, wincing. "I'm coming." She steps slowly out of the shadows, her hands still away from her sides. "If you're worried about what's in there, I can leave if you'd rather."
Not that she's not curious herself. But going to jail in a country whose language she doesn't speak sounds just bad all around. She's never even had a speeding ticket.
|Trixie||"Believe me, I'd rather," Trixie pleads, a bit testily. "I /don't/ want to have to arrest you or somethin'. Just get out of here, before something /awful/ happens to you. We still don't know what might be loose in here."
And then she hears the frenzied barking of dogs, and looks back toward the racket, growling under her breath. "Izzy, /go/!" she snaps, and whirls toward the disturbance, running as quickly as she can on the risky ground. "Raptor Niner-Niner to Raptor Patrol... disturbance... Point Charlie... sounds like dogs... respond..!" she says into her radio headset, between soft panting as she runs.
Her earpiece answers with nothing but static.
|Buck Rogers|| "Awfully ironic," Buck begins, one knee drawn to his chest and the other dangling over the edge of the jeep, the foot taunting the snapping, infected canines, "that this happens just a few days after I told her I like dogs more than people." The mammoth man rolls his shoulders, presses his palm to his chin, and pushes over and up, a series of pops sounding out. He emulates this success all throughout his body-- sucks in and holds his breath, tugging his shoulders back until ribs pop; raising his shoulders high, tightening them, to stretch out his spine, as he twists it back and clenches the muscles to force it how he wants it to go. One pop, two pop, three pops and more, the musclebound brute treats his precarious position as an opportunity for a stretch.
"Look, buddies," he says, and one of them, some doberman looking bastard, leaps up and almost clears the vehicle, snarling and filling the air with spittle. "I'm busy. And, you know, I'm about ninety percent sure that car right there," and he jabs a blunt finger at a sports car flipped over into its roof one car down, "is mine. I left my baby girl in it, so can you do me a favor and fuck off?"
The group consensus is a no. Democracy is the objectively worst form of government.
"Assholes," Buck mutters, but he doesn't seem all that displeased. The corner of his mouth is curled in a lazy half-smile, all cocksure and proud. When he hears the sound of footsteps, and hears a cry of 'DAMNIT!' around the blind side of a nearby half-collapsed apartment building, he raises a hand and waves. "Hey, beautiful," is his call as Trixie comes around into view, making her way over the chunks of stone and wood and support beams. "Mind doing me a favor? I need to get in that car right there. Ideally, without being Kibbles 'n' Bits. Give a yell, make some noise, run. I'll rescue you in just a sec."
Buck stares down the feral things. Tosses his head at Trixie. "Go on, get. She's way more delicious."
|Trixie||Trixie blinks at the sight of Buck standing on top of a derelict car, like some kind of wasteland table dancer, only inches out of reach of a pack of feral dogs that are probably also infected. It's clearly her night.
"Are you /crazy/?" she cries at his suggestion. Then she realizes that being heard might be a bad thing in her position. After all, Buck may look like a dancin' fool up there, but he's a much safer fool than Trixie herself, without a car of her own to keep her out of their reach.
But she does have one thing he doesn't, and she brings it to her shoulder, bracing herself against the minimal recoil and squeezing off a long burst into the mass of rotting mutts. The rust-colored slugs tear through the animals' bodies, sending chunks of rotting flesh and rancid, stinking blood flying. One keels over almost instantly, thrashing violently, but the other dogs don't seem deterred by the injuries...
Until one suddenly catches fire. And another. They snarl and thrash, and moments later keel over. The remaining two, limping and torn, charge at Trixie, straight over their burning brethren. Within a split second they're burning fiercely. One starts furiously chasing its tail, as if to bite the flames to death. The other barrels straight toward Trixie, and she hastily drops to the ground with a wail of dismay.
It leaps right over her, its feet brushing the back of her armored vest as she falls, and sails over ten feet before landing and tumbling to a halt in a heap, continuing to burn sullenly. Before she can rise, the last dog falls in a heap, flickering flames highlighting its unmoving form.
Trixie stands slowly, groaning softly as she feels the pain of bruises she'll have tomorrow from the ugly fall, looking around at the carcasses of the monster dogs. Then at her M4.
"This stuff /really works/!"
|Buck Rogers|| Buck lets out an appreciative wolf whistle as the beauty goes to work. He rolls to the side as the dog bursts into flames, sliding off the car and kicking aside the carcass. The meat smells sweet, despite its death-- the fur smells awful, and is more than enough to trigger a sensible gag reflex.
Buck, however, can and will eat anything.. but at the moment, he walks along, squats near the flipped-over sports car, and looks it over. "There you are, princess," he says, and his face lights up-- metaphorically, though off in the distance, behind him and unseen by him, the exquisite Trixie is far more literal. He hooks his hands underneath a bit of curled metal making up the window frame, digging in hard, and in a slow deadlift motion lifts. Redwood quadriceps flex and stretch, his stomach tightens, his arms flex as he heaves the car upwards. Some few thousand pounds of car is upheaved, making the veins of his arms stand out, making his palms sweat, jaw tight. "Get... the fuck... up!" He growls, and finally it's enough that he can press his shoulder against it and push forward, making it roll back onto its four tires.
It is absolutely undriveable, the roof crumpled, the rubber melted by a died-out inferno, the bumper hanging off. Cracks spread through the windows like spiderwebs, and Buck takes a moment to open the back passenger door... only to growl, struggle, and with a Herculean yank rip it from broken hinges and toss it aside. He leans in. He searches. He pulls back...
And clutched in his hands is the only girl that really loves him. A massive, black-framed industrial chainsaw, with a thick, long blade and razor teeth, scratched and worn and always sharp. "Shh, sweetheart, Daddy's home," he says to it, patting it fondly. "I wasn't gonna leave you in the car."
He stares ahead at Trixie. Shoulders the chainsaw and strides forth, two-finger saluting her. "Hey there, princess. Nice work."
|Trixie||Trixie, winded and panting softly, watches Buck retrieve the chainsaw, shaking her head slowly. "You came into a fenced-off quarantine zone for /that/?" she asks, in mild disbelief. Then she throws up her hands. "What am I saying? Of /course/ you did. Geez... anyone ever tell you you're crazy?"
She checks the magazine of the M4, then shoulders the weapon. "You should probably get going before my squadmates get here. They'll have heard the shots, and the police probably won't be far behind. Only one place in Paris where automatic weapons are in regular use, and you're standing in the middle of it."
|Buck Rogers|| "What kind of man would I be if I left her all alone?" Buck stares at Trixie like she's speaking nonsense, one hand steadying the brutal weapon as the still blade hovers near his head. "She's seen me through the best and the worst, even when everyone else has left." He smiles, and stares down at the girl he looms before, eyes boring into hers. The manic energy he had before, beneath the Eiffel Tower, is gone-- though perhaps transformed is a better word, matured. Bloodlust no longer rolls from him in waves as wild as the sea; he no longer glows with a zealot's inner fire, but has a certain lethal focus. It's a calm, it is-- a purpose.
He reaches out, and pat-pat-pats her on the head, eyes never sliding from hers. He's always very direct with eye contact. "I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable," he rumble-growls. "I was drunk and miserable, and you've always been the cutest girl on the force. I'm not a good man, especially when I drink. You be good, beautiful." He withdraws his hand, gives another two-finger little wave, and begins to wander off.
|Trixie||Trixie notices the difference immediately, even if she isn't quite sure what it is, as she looks up, and up, into the giant's eyes, flinching slightly at the heavy-handed patting to her head. It's a tremendous effort of will for her to hold his gaze to the end, and she falters, looking away, as he withdraws his hand. She should be angry still, at the danger he just put her in, however inadvertently.
But she isn't. The danger was always inside this fence, and sooner or later it would have come out to play. She was lucky enough to confront them when they were fixated on Buck instead of her... when she could kill them without having to try to outrun them at the same time. Perhaps she owes him for that. And then there's that parting line... which sounds terribly final as a chaser for his other words.
Abruptly she whirls and jogs after him. "Buck, wait!"
|Buck Rogers|| It's a new thing Buck's trying, making amends-- finding people he's upset, or some of them, and doing right by them. His resolution made with Wesker has transformed him; months of self-destructive behavior has finally become the crucible that forged a better man.
An evil one, an apocalyptic one, but a better one, in ways. Man is a complex creature.
This man does not stop walking, making his way in the reverse of his earlier path; he'll move through rubble-strewn streets, and wind around empty lots, and smile at the happy eggplant before sneaking back out of the fence his cop 'friend' is guarding for him. But he slows-- just enough, just a little, long as his stride might be, so that Trixie can keep up with him. He looks down at her, furrows his brow, grins. "What is it, princess?"
|Trixie||Trixie follows him all the way back to the fence, treating the rubble and debris as an obstacle course of sorts. She's a natural athlete, making light work of the clutter and trouble, keeping pace without trying to outrun him. After all, it's better that he not be here when things get official, and she's pretty sure he's making for the entrance he came through.
Making a mental note to have that gap in the fencing properly repaired, she looks out at him through the chain-link. It's even harder to hold his gaze than the last time. "I... I'm sorry, too. Maybe I should have seen what was coming and stopped you before things went so far," she says softly. "Somehow I get this feeling that I might not see you again. But if you ever see me somewhere... don't be a stranger? Please?"
She bows her head, her nerve giving out at last. "Maybe you made me mad a few times, but... I've never disliked you. And I'd rather be a friend than a stranger. There are too few of us S.T.A.R.S. left to burn our bridges."
|Buck Rogers||"I don't think we're gonna see each other again," he confirms, voice slow and gentle. "I've come to terms with what I am, sweetheart-- and it's nothing fit for a cute little girl like you." There's a chuckle, self-amused, as the brute waves off the cop, who turns around and pretends he's neither listening nor aware of the two of them. "I don't think I'll be seeing much of anyone from back then. But you see the others, you tell 'em I said hi. You do that for me, sweetheart." Lazily, he drags a knuckle against the mesh of the fence, making it shake and jingle. "But hell, I see you again, I'll take you out for coffee." It's an empty promise; his tone is unambiguous. "I'm proud of you, Trixie. You and Caldwell, both too young for what happened, I think-- he's a big fuckin' dumb ox, and he'll manage on pure big fuckin' dumb ox luck. But you should've had something sweeter, something nicer than what you did. Keep your chin up, princess. You're okay." And with that, the big man pivots and departs.|
|Trixie||Trixie's eyes get wider as he speaks, and once her lower lip trembles. But she stills it through nothing but pure dogged determination. Knowing it's the last she'll hear from him makes it that much harder, but she forces herself to absorb every word, every nuance. It reminds her too much of her suicide treatment classes in the academy, the words he's saying; making things right with someone he doesn't expect to ever see again is a hallmark of suicide preparations. Her hands clench around the chain-link, as if she might keep him there a moment longer, but he's beyond her grasp and she knows it, even if her subconscious refuses to fully accept it. As much as she wishes it otherwise, she cannot take his choice from him. As her father always told her, he, like anyone else, must walk his own path.
"Take care of yourself, Rogers," she says softly at his departing back, watching him until he is out of sight. "And please, /please/ don't do anything drastic!"
Her head hanging, tears stinging her eyes, she leans against the fence for a long moment. Then another. And then she straightens wearily and turns to plod back toward the carcasses of the dogs, her former energy gone.
"Make sure that fence is properly repaired," she says to the French policeman, without looking at him. "And see that you keep a better eye on your area of responsibility in the future." Oh, yes... she knows he had some kind of hand in what just happened, and she makes sure her suspicions are known to him. It's all the warning she can manage.