|Buck Rogers|| The heat wave hitting Raccoon City has many of the residents a little stir-crazy. While the high seventies aren't all that bad, the locals are used to cooler temperatures in the shadows of the mountains-- shadows that have vanished under the relentless heat and light, the unblinking fire of the sun bearing down on all. Still, despite the temperature, it's a beautiful, blue-skied day, with gentle breezes, and it's easy to forget the news warnings of flash floods that threaten so many of the bridges out of town.
A student activist demonstration has taken the zoo by storm. A number of college types have gathered to protest rumors of animal testing on one of Umbrella's minor new products, a hair conditioner said to cure split ends and rejuvenate every last lock. A few photos have gone around the internet or been passed around by hand of a cow-locked chimpanzee who, to be fair, does have especially glossy brown fur and a very unhappy (maybe? no one involved really knows how to read a chimpanzee's moods) look on its thick-browed face. The students have made their own little podium from a dragged-over wooden picnic table, condemning Umbrella in front of the ticket booths. Beyond the high wrought iron fences the animals, no doubt torturously lathered in hair-softening cream, go about their lives. The crowds today aren't particularly active.
Buck Rogers, himself, is sitting on the hood of his police cruiser, keeping an eye on things. So long as it doesn't get out of hand, it's fine.. a little annoying, but you get used to it here. He's in full uniform and sweating his balls off.
|Claire Redfield||For once Claire isn't at the center of the protest, she is instead using it as a diversion for something far more useful to her. Playing the part of just a local teen amidst the mass of Herbal Essence haters, the Redfield with the most is sitting on one of the picnic benches with a lollipop rolled to one corner of her mouth. She's not wearing her usual gortex jacket, but rather a red t-shirt over a black long sleeve shirt over a vest.. because she's still a wanted woman even if she is keeping a low profile.
In front of her, her laptop is open and she's busily typing away at the keys with a glance over the rim of her glasses to see if anyone is paying her any attention.
Some recognize her.
''Hey, that's Claire Redfield...'' ''Isn't that...'' ''Nah, that's Ellen Page.'' ''She was good in Inception.''
|Buck Rogers|| "For years, Umbrella's abused animals to test their products!" The speaker now, standing atop the picnic table, all mini-skirted and hoop-earringed, is a slender girl with a blonde beecomb 'do and bright red lipstick. She's got a set of lungs that don't quit and fake nails that dig into her indignant palms with glee. Beneath the queen, the workers scurry, passing out printed leaflets talking about animal abuse, replete with pictures that would make PETA blush-- bloodied animals, animals missing chunks of hair, animals strapped into devices that look positively atrocious, with the metal and the leather and the hooks and conveyor belts.
None of this is demonstrably relevant to Umbrella, nor going on at the zoo, but the rhetoric is powerful and the pictures make anyone who looks at them uncomfortable. The students are practically forcing the audience, who mostly want to bring their bratty kids to the zoo on a sunny day, to look at this crap.
"In 1998, an independent animal rights advocacy group known as P.E.E.R.S. found that no less than thirty dogs, cats, and reptiles were being kept in cages and used to test new shampoos! The formulas were so strong that they had second degree chemical burns! It's on page four!"
Buck adjusts himself, the leaflet crushed into his back pocket grinding with pleasant crinkles against the frying pan hood of his cruiser. He sighs, pinches the bridge of his nose, and stands up. There's a kiosk off to the side of the entrance, shaded and quite close to Claire, where a man is selling ice-cold drinks and refreshments. The protesters can be seen drinking the smoothies and the sodas, or munching on the chips and snack bars, in their off moments. That the products are all sold by companies publicly owned by Umbrella is an irony lost on them.
"Hey, man, get me a pop," Buck commands, reaching for his wallet and wiping his brow with the back of his hand. The behemoth, in full police uniform, is close enough to Claire that he must certainly be looking for her specifically... hell, he actually is looking at her, now.
|Claire Redfield||Thankfully, Claire is not paranoid of the police.
She is downright unafraid of them, point of fact.
Her Brother is Chris Redfield, afterall.
The people she's afraid of come in two forms, super subtle assassins with sniper rifles or super not subtle with black vans and sub machineguns.
Neither of those are officers looking bored to be out patrolling the a hot Sunday morning during a mostly routine protest.
Even Claire is a little put out by the nonsense the girl is spewing, which is all information provided by ''c0n5p1r3'' a hacker heading one of the many branches of Terrasaves. The hacker sits with her lollipop turning slowly between her lips, watching the protestors provide her just the right amount of distraction to work at hacking into the zoos servers remotely. Her smartphone laying next to a black-box dummy router to bounce her signal against several other servers throughout the city and state... and that's if anyone's even watching. Which, why would they? It's a zoo.
She does however glance up at Buck and smile around the stim of her lollipop, "Morning." A frisca sitting beside her because friscas are awesome.
|Buck Rogers|| The girl's voice continues until it becomes a droning buzz that neatly fits into the background noise of the universe. Buck buys his drink, curls one thick index finger under the tab, and pops it up, draining half the can down his throat in one mammoth gulp. He scratches his beard, wet around his mouth, sparkling with rainbow glitter whenever the sun hits it just so, and watches Claire. She's familiar as hell, but why can't he put his finger on it? Her brother's one of his coworkers, after all, even if he's been missing for awhile-- but then one of the passing people who does know her mentions the name Redfield, in overheard conversation, and the brainputer turns on with a click and a whirl, piecing her identity together.
"Claire, right? Chris' little sister." The big man shifts to the side, removing the baleful glare of the sun from his face, nose wrinkled in half-suppressed sneeze. This is a nice spot, beneath a many-limbed oak, its leafy canopy offering a cool respite. What light penetrates dapples his armor, highlighting the S.T.A.R.S. insignia on the shoulder. "Officer Buck Rogers. I work with your brother. Coming to visit the zoo?" Small talk. Hard to break the ice on a subject as sensitive as 'sooooo maybe your brother's dead, huh?'.
|Claire Redfield||Claire isn't worried about the rally, it was a distraction and it's working. People always listen to the loudest voice, that's why she'd contacted Pamela. Pamela wasn't the sharpest knife, but she could cut through a crowd with those pipes.
The hacker glances down at the progress bar on her screen and then turns, pulling her legs out from beneath the picnic table so she's leaning back against it instead. Both arms stretch out behind her, elbows sitting against the edge, and her feet are crossed out ahead of her. "Yeah." She says, eyes flickering down to the insignia, then back up at Buck without the hint of a grin she'd had earlier.
Hard not to ask, ''hey, is my brother dead? Why haven't you a-holes gone and found out yet?'', she manages though. "Me? Eh... sure... I come to these things..." Waving a wirling finger backwards at the protest, "Keep up pretenses on campus, ya know? Besides, their heart is in the right place... what about you? Looking to sign up?"
A smirk curls at the corners of her mouth.
|Buck Rogers|| Whatever the girl's name is, Buck Rogers has effectively erased her from his perception for the time being. The totality of his focus is on Claire Redfield, whose existence inspires in him a vague unease and sense of guilt-- the discomfort is almost palpable, seen in the downcurl of a lip at the corner of his mouth, the sidelong flicks of his eyes, the aborted words that die as chest-rumbling grunts. A bird chirps on a tree branch, and with that melodious distraction responding so he doesn't have to, he downs the rest of his drink, tossing it toward the paired trash and recyclable bins between the kiosk and the ticket booth. It misses and impacts the face of the bin, clattering to the paved ground. "Aw, hell," he complains, before manning up and about-facing to regard the slip of a girl again.
"I know you haven't been told much," the giant says, voice lowered almost conspiratorially-- though this is rather like a stampede lowering itself to merely a few stomping buffalo. Subtlety is not a word one can ever apply to Buck. "And I'm sorry for that, miss. Right now, all we know is there was a bad accident during a routine expedition for your brother's team. There was an avalanche, some technological malfunctions. With the weather, we couldn't manage a search until the snow began to melt."
Officer Rogers takes a breath. He speaks with a slow, measured pace, with roughness to his vocal chords that suggests he usually doesn't speak much at all. "We rescued one member of his team, and she didn't know if he was alive or not. There's some evidence he got away from the trouble. Might be he's holed up in a cabin, recuperating, waiting for the thaw so he could get down or contact us. We're gonna find him soon."
|Claire Redfield||To say that Claire hadn't expected that is something of an understatement, but it doesn't mean that she's not appreciative. Even if her expression sores a little, even if she doesn't look particularly pleased, because who would be pleased to know their brother might be dead and that so far nobody's gone back up to find him, she appreciates him telling her..
Or she will eventually.
Right now she just stares at the officer with increasingly narrowed eyes. Fixed on him like a vulture waiting for a much bigger carion animal to vacate a carcus so that it can swoop in for a bloody meal.
The sole vacation from this intense stare is her glance over at the laptop screen, but then her beady eyes are right back on him. "When?" ''Is soon''. "Because he would have already stolen a helicopter to come find you." She doesn't know Buck Rogers from a hole in the dirt, has never heard Chris mention him from any other officer, but she knows her brother.
"If you were up in those mountains and it was him down here... You wouldn't be in the mountains anymore..."
|Buck Rogers||"Yeah, maybe you're right," Buck says, and he lifts his eyes away from the girl, staring off toward the Arklay Mountains-- mountains unseen behind the looming towers of Raccoon City, off in the distance, away from the heat and the flooding. "And maybe one of us should have done that. Maybe it's what a good person would do." His voice isn't unkind, and his eyes soften when they turn back to her, bright and blue. "We all wanna do right by him, sweetheart-- you think we don't? I know you're mad, and right so. But you don't understand the logistics. It doesn't help anyone to run off by yourself, fly into a mountain cold enough to freeze ya to death in no time at all if you're not dressed warm. And God only knows how much'a those miles and miles a wood has that freak rabies in it." He squats down, trying to go eye-level with her. He reaches for her shoulder. "We're gonna find him. But we gotta do it right, because if we do it wrong, it doesn't help anybody at all. I promise, I'll be one of the first ones up there. Hell, if they don't want me to spend so much time, I'll take a vacation and do it on my own, bring you along. But we all want to find Chris."|
|Claire Redfield||"I'm not mad at you." Claire says, but it'd be hard to believe that even if Buck knew her personally by the way she's glaring at him, "But I know my brother.. and I know he's not dead up there. He's just alone.." She shakes her head a little and looks down at her feet stretched out in front of him, "With no ammo, food, and he's been up there for weeks during the hard frost..."
She'd thought about going to find him herself, but if STARS is ill equipped, would she fare any better?
She frowns a little, just the corners of her mouth. "I'm mad.. because that should have been a priority... for the department, not individuals, but when the whole department failed him, the individuals should have stepped up. You, Barry, Jill..." She knows most of the STARS team, even if just by name, "Frost. You guys are soldiers, even if you wear a badge... You left one of your own, the best of you in my opinion, up in the mountains to die..."
She glances at her laptop screen, the bar goes green and she reaches out to control alt delete the program down. "So, honestly, I'm not mad at you. I feel sorry for you... and I hope that when you ''do'' go find him, he's still alive because if he's not... that's on ''your'' head." Her's too, she'll not be immune to the guilt.
|Buck Rogers||Buck lets out a bearish sigh and rises to his feet, his gargantuan bones creaking like an old chair's joints. "Alright," he concedes, dusting off his knee and hands. He doesn't even disagree with her, not really; the department should have put more into this, if only for morale's sake. It doesn't sit right just leaving Bravo until conditions are better, even if it's smart. Despite that, her admonishment stings like a slap to the face, and arouses in the pit of his stomach an unworthy anger--an anger the troubled man is intimately familiar with, and knows to defuse. "Alright." Repeated like a mantra for calm. "I'm sorry I didn't have something nicer to tell you. I'll let you know when we go, and if you need anything, just visit us down at the station. You have a good afternoon, miss Redfield." He pivots on a heel and crashes into the space adjacent the bins like a force of nature, each step thump-thumping the ground like a wardrum's beat. He crushes the fallen can in one meaty paw with industrial force and shoves it into the container.|
|Claire Redfield||Claire closes her laptop down and starts unhooking her equipment to slip it all back into the heavily buttoned, patched, and decorated bag laying atop the table without glancing up. She's said her piece, fair or not, and doesn't even glance up to watch Buck leave. Inside she wants to apologize, it isn't his fault... she knows it isn't his fault.
But she can't.
She wants her brother back.
She's angry that she didn't go try to find him herself and she's angry that nobody else did either.
It's irrational anger that she has to direct somewhere. With her equipment put away she throws the strap of her bag around one shoulder and starts towards her motorcycle and nobody dares try to stop her from the protest group less they be the unfortunate victom of what is an obviously boiling fury in a small woman waiting to explode with white hot violence.