|Albert Wesker||In the aftermath of the chaos in Raccoon City, Berger found the anonymous exchange of research data with his enigmatic associate continuing. New disposable phones were delivered, some rather intriguing breakthroughs from widespread genetic testing shared.
One day, when the phone rings, the information conveyed is not a simple location, but a more detailed request. "Dr. Berger. It's time for us to meet; bring Mr. 'Scott'. We need to talk; about the future."
The electronically modified voice is familiar, the address given not. "Tell the woman at the desk 'The Alps are beautiful this time of year.'" It would lead them to an unassuming bookstore, a French sign declaring it 'The Nook', and promising used books.
The storefront is old,, perhaps ancient, the interior warm but clearly sparsely patronized. A layer of dust covers many books, and at present, only one ostensible customer sits in the loft, reading an old volume in a plush chair. There's also a clerk manning the front-- a middle aged, spectacled woman with greying blonde hair like cornsilk.
|James Scott||James was alright at following orders, especially if he got something out of it. He wasn't certain what was going on, but he figured he'd give everyone involved a shot to speak their piece. Naturally at his side was one Vivienne Asherion, his fingers laced with hers as they approach The Nook.
"Maybe we can luck up and find a replacement for those first editions I lost. I know that's not why we're going, but I'm not the type to pass up an opportunity."
|Markus Berger||Markus himself was of course also here, having been the one to actually get James here and right now busy rolling his eyes. "Well, its bound to be interesting at the very least, that much I can assure you. Probably even enlightening which would be a change of pace for once."|
|Vivienne||When James pulls her into the bookstore Vivienne gasps and a wide smile appears on her face. She pulls away from him for a moment and walks to a shelf, leaning over to gaze at the volumes present there, tsking softly as she gently thumbs a layer of dust off of one of the books.
"Or maybe we can find some new books. I haven't had anything new to read in a few months." She replies, reluctantly stepping away from the shelf. She joins James again and glances around warily.
|Albert Wesker||Likely unseen by the trio, efforts are taken on the street to subtly baffle James' Umbrella handlers. The streets behind them suddenly clog with traffic thanks to an impolite delivery truck, and across the street, a construction crew moves a large partition as if on cue, obfuscating line of sight to just which building they chose along several opportune local sightlines.
Inside, the blonde clerk smiles a polite but unenthused smile, a standard of retail, and for the moment simply allows the newcomers to browse.
|James Scott||"I doubt it Berger." James says simply, giving his head a slight shake. "I don't do secrets very well, but it's nice to not be watched. For the moment at least."
With that said his attention turns over to Vivienne, "Of course babe, we do need some more for the library." He flashes her a smile before turning to nod at the clerk.
|Markus Berger||Meanwhile the doctor swiftly heads to the desk and smiles at the woman. "Excuse me. I'm looking for something with the title 'The alps are beautiful this time of year'. Does that ring a bell?" Going by the very strained polite smile its obvious that the doctor hates this whole secrecy nonsense and rather get to meet who he is supposed to meet ASAP, but a paranoid wreck has got to do what a paranoid wreck has to do.|
|Vivienne||Vivienne doesn't feel the need to interject her opinion while James and Marcus are talking. She smiles up at James and takes his hand again, her eyes moving towards the entrance, watching the impolite delivery truck driver as he gets into a verbal argument with another loud car.
"One or two for my backpack too. Just in case the Library has another 'accident'." She quips quietly, trying not to smile.
|Albert Wesker||Walking that precise line between detachment and impoliteness, the woman manning the bookstore pays little apparent attention to the repartee until Berger approaches her directly-- though James would pick up on a subtle, professional analysis belying more substantial depths or motivations.
James would also notice when her initial response to the phrase is one hand drifting below the counter, lingering just long enough to, say, press a button. "I hate the mountains." She answers in fluid French syllables, still looking substantially unimpressed.
A single finger is held up to forestall the group, as she makes a display of typing a few methodical keystrokes on the aging terminal next to her, its screen obscured. Likely, this is simply to buy time.
After a few passing moments, the woman gestures quietly to the book-lined hallway leading to a cramped, smaller, book-stuffed display room on that same ground level. It's initially seemingly a dead-end.
|James Scott||"It probably will, so I'll be sure not to lead anybody there." James sighs quietly, his attention drifting over to the clerk. His one eye focuses on her as she looks over Markus, his brows furrowing slightly. "Well, looks like all the good books are down this way." he says quietly, taking Vivienne's hand once again as they're directed down towards the display room.|
|Markus Berger||"Apparently. Lets take a look." With that said and a slight nod to the woman Markus heads towards where they have been directed to.|
|Vivienne|| Vivienne allows herself to be pulled along, her eyes scanning the titles of the books as they walk down the hallway. She is nervous, but she tries not to show it.
"Lead them to the spare bedroom next time, that way you can get some new curtains." She says quietly.
|Albert Wesker||The nook within the Nook closes in around the trio for only a few moments before a low, subdued grind announces the motion of one of the bookshelves. Its backing is a reinforced metal door, the corridor it opens of ancient, partially-hewn stone and a similarly carved stairway. At once a passage into the ancient history of Paris, and a portal to its future.
In a nod to modernity, gentle LED lighting illuminates the corridor as it twists deeply into the Earth, eventually leading into a similar stonework space sparsely adorned with several throw rugs, a sitting area, a desk, and a small lab.
There's also a statuesque man standing, initially with his back to them, clad in a heavy, black longcoat. When the man in shades turns to look halfway back over his left shoulder, and wryly smirks, the reality would likely hit James hardest. They've come straight to Wesker.
|James Scott||James gives Vivienne's hand a reassuring squeeze, but remains quiet as the passage opens and they march towards some unknown destination. When they finally reach the lab his eye takes everything in, the rugs, the seats, the desk, and finally Wesker himself.
"Yo, Wesker. Last time I saw you I was getting pumped full of bullets. How's Umbrella's favorite son doing?" First rule is to never let the enemy know when you're shocked.
|Markus Berger||The doctor meanwhile just stares at Wesker for a few moments before he decides to pipe up. Deadpan. "Well, thats a surprise. Puts a few things into perspective though. Probably." He doesn't sound particularly sure though. At all. Especially since he also glances towards James with a rather unsure look on his face before his attention is swiftly focused on Wesker again.|
|Vivienne||Vivienne nearly walks into James and when he throws out his smart ass comment her mouth drops open slightly, more shocked at his insouciance than seeing Wesker. She glances back at the door that has since closed and sighs. She likes having her escape options open.|
|Albert Wesker||The enemy? Wesker's smile subtly broadens at James' words, and he shakes his head. "Ah, Mr. 'Scott', or do you prefer Mr. Marcus? How very much you've discovered, to understand so little." The words may be a bit condescending, but the tone is sympathetic. Perhaps even tinged with an appropriate note of regret.
"To Umbrella you are two things: An opportune experiment, and an obvious double agent." While James feigns a lack of surprise, Wesker doesn't have to. He's all too well informed on this subject-- and the veteran operative knows it.
"You misunderstand me if you think I see things the same way, or have been behind these... tragedies. You're a man who's struck the jackpot no less than three times in your life, apparently nonetheless determined to lose everything. You've fatally misjudged the chessboard; I've brought you here to see if I might keep you alive."
Beat. "Alongside two others who understand, partially, just how helpful an ally I am." That smile returns, as the Colonel's shaded eyes pass easily to Markus... and Vivienne.
|James Scott||"Wesker, I don't have any love for my father. The man I read about and the man who supplies the black market with the t-virus and bombs Paris are two very different people." James lets go of Vivienne's hand, slipping both of his into his pockets. It's probably not a coincidence that he has his brass knuckles waiting there.
"I know what I am to Umbrella. I know they've bugged my penthouse. I know that they have people who follow me. I'm not under the illusion you're happy with them, if you were you'd have went through them to organize a meeting with me."
Having said his piece he turns his attention to Markus. "So, what bullshit did he sell you? Or better yet, what'd you give him? I doubt he'd go out of his way to recruit you unless he could use you. So I figure you're a monster too or.." his words stop, a distant memory popping into his head. "Doctor. That blood sample you took and your trip to the Umbrella lab back in Raccoon were pretty close together. You didn't use me, did you?" His expression turns deadly, that blue orb in his head returning to the crimson Markus and Wesker were likely used to seeing at this point.
|Markus Berger||"You? I didn't even know what was up with you back then aside from you being walking proof for the things that were happening. Not to mention that I was very afraid off you." The doctor doesn't seem particularly fazed by James expression. "As for the bloodsample. Well, I never got my hands on it again after I took it and neither did Umbrella or Wesker here. Emma had it and worked on it. Never got any results from that one before everything went to hell so it just went up in nuclear fire or whatever else the US dropped on the city. For what I gave him and what I got, well... its up to him to mention it since I'll shut up now." With that said Markus just shrugs as he proceeds to lean against the next best wall while putting some distance between himself and James.|
|Vivienne||To say that Vivienne doesn't look happy is the most massive of understatements. Her small form tenses as she stares at Wesker, fear warring with annoyance. She opens her mouth to comment but after a moment decides that it's better to say nothing and hope that none of *her* secrets come spilling out of Wesker's mouth.
She glances at James and blinks at the mention of the bugged penthouse and she flushes a bright red. "Fucking figures." She mutters, swearing quietly. She can feel the tension ramping up and she takes a step back, a hand making sure her gun is where she left it.
|Albert Wesker||"Perhaps literally." Wesker observes with a bemused lilt to his features, conjured out of his normal stoicism in, perhaps paradoxically, a sincerity. He shows the emotion, the wit. Dr. Marcus isn't the man he once was-- Wesker is certain of that much.
"You -know-, or you've -recently realized-?" The Beast at the heart of the FBC inquires matter-of-factly. Even as tension gathers, as some loss of cool threatens, he's unnervingly calm; cool as ice. These moments come with the territory.
The Colonel simply nods along with Berger's explanation-- it's as good a description of their association as any. "This is actually the first time I've met face to face with Dr. Berger. But he's a resourceful man, who's impressed me. Similar might be said of your ladyfriend."
A slow, pensive sight pauses Wesker's line of thought, and he calmly removes his shades, setting them atop the desk as he paces several strides towards James to face them fully.
"You're not a monster, Mr. Scott. Much as everyone would like you make you one; wield you like a weapon." Beat. Secondary lids on the Colonel's eyes open; crimson, predatory spheres akin to James' new, enhanced peepers. "You're something greater; something new."
|James Scott||"No video feed." James assures Vivienne, turning to shoot her a wink. Which would be cool if he didn't have a glowing demonic eye in his head. "I really should have told you, but I don't have any proof other than a gut feeling." The smile he flashes her is very clearly apologetic.
"But, you're wrong there." These words are aimed at Wesker. "I'm not just something new. The bond wasn't a perfect one and I run the risk of turning into something like those lickers or Nemesis if I get beaten too badly. What I am now is because of a mixture of the Progenitor and T-Veronica. But, I'm sue you brought me here for a reason." Those hands get withdrawn from his pockets. "What exactly would that be?"
|Markus Berger||"Hmm, I was honestly expecting that someone would be at someones throat by now. This is a surprise." Markus just keeps standing where he is, keeping an eye on both James and Wesker as he does so. "For elaboration, its true that I never encountered him in person before and neither was I aware who I was helping. Contact was entirely handled through encrypted communication and deaddrops. Still, I got to credit him to some degree for my survival back then since he managed to arrange a few things for me which included some tinkering with my genetic code. Side-effect free too since it did not involve any virus."|
|Vivienne||Vivienne clears her throat and nods at James. "It's fine." She assures him, shifting on her feet as she folds her arms over her chest. She levels a gaze at Wesker and speaks up. "I'm sure we're all here for a reason, and the quicker we get on with it, the better off we'll likely all be." She glances towards the exit again and adds. "Quicker we can go, too." Hopefully without violence is the unspoken thought that drifts through her head."|
|Albert Wesker||"If the prototype serum did not bond properly to your DNA, it would have almost certainly killed you." Wesker observes simply. "No instabilities were observed even under.... shall we say substantial strain during the Raccoon City incident; and while my pool of data limits certitude, T-Veronica is notoriously unstable. Whatever Ashford did does not change what you are-- or perhaps, what you might be."
Wesker's hands remain calmly clasped behind his back, now, any arms he might have hidden under that coat; still, he shows no indication of imminent violence, or even consternation.
"Modifications that also make you -less- likely to... devolve when exposed to viral agents, Dr. Berger." Secondary infection is rarely convenient for -anyone-, but that's neither here nor there. "Perhaps I brought you here because I think you have only grazed your promise, and you overestimate your superiority against an organized UBCS killteam. Perhaps I brought you here to see if two useful associates are worth elevating; trustworthy enough to help me kill you, and curry favor with your deadly enemies."
Wesker steadies his gaze on James. "You seem to have a lot of animosity towards me. A lot to say, trying to turn others against me. Let me guess-- they convinced you I murdered your father. They told you I envied his legacy." The well-dressed agent shakes his head, slowly.
|James Scott||"No, what I heard about you was through his paranoid scribblings. And no, I was certain they'd kill me. I don't know if I'll survive another strike. But that's not something you let the people you care about know." James reaches up to scratch at his beard.
"And for whatever you've done to Markus, I know I could take him in a pinch. Vivienne? I wouldn't hit her if she shot me right now." He turns to flash her an actual smile, that red orb returned to it's normal blue.
"If I had to guess, you went through a lot of trouble to make sure Umbrella didn't know about our contact. You're a hungry man, so what you've got probably isn't enough. If you're gathering players you either expect the bioterrorism commission to find you out or you plan on splitting. For all the praises you've been singing to the Stairway of the Sun you might be planning to produce people like myself on a larger scale. To be honest with you, I couldn't give a fuck which of those it is."
"My only goal is to kill my father before he causes any more trouble and grow stronger."
|Vivienne||Vivienne doesn't react to either James or Wesker. She simply stands there, listening to the back and forth as she waits for the real party to start. She does take a moment to study Marcus though while she listens, trying to decide if he's a threat. Satisfied with her internal assessment, she speaks up "If you did bring me here to kill James, then you must not have been paying any attention to the intel coming from his Penthouse." She says, a slightly amused grin on her face."|
|Albert Wesker||Wesker's initial response to James' reaction is a satisfied nod, a small smile. With a touch of sadness to it. "The man was like a father to me; moreso than the one who considers himself the 'real' father." Perhaps the Colonel is simply aware of the parallel to Dr. Marcus' alienation with his own offspring, but it has a ring of authenticity to it.
"You're keen to the methods, but not the motives, Mr. Scott. If I wanted to be in charge of Umbrella, I would already be in charge of Umbrella. This, I assure you, is -far- more effort. Mankind has been devising increasingly destructive weapons for all of recorded history. Society is now on the verge of collapse, strip-mined and manipulated by men who worship the imaginary numbers proffered by their bankers. Forces the FBC serves; the Commission will hone these weapons, inevitably. It's an unsustainable pattern, I expect we can agree."
Despite the weighty conversation, the Colonel grins right back at Vivienne, bemused. "Which brings me to the actual point. You command loyalty, you've unearthed much that you need to know on your own. Everyone here agrees self-destruction is a poor path for you, as well, I suspect. But for me to offer any solution-- you'd have to trust what I say. ... And you do not."
|James Scott||"Never said your plan was taking over Umbrella. It'd just be more in fighting and sabotage." James lifts his shoulders in a shrug and walks over to where Vivienne is, wrapping an arm around her waist. "As long as you're telling me you want to destroy anything that could make more people like me. For the most part it'd kill off just about everyone, and those seventy some thousand that would be left would be just like us. It wouldn't make the fighting better, it'd just be a new kind of hell."|
|Vivienne||Vivienne is still grinning and hasn't shifted from her relaxed pose. "You can get loyalty if you give it. You can get secrets if you take the time to stop talking and listen." She pauses and then gazes down at her feet before she continues. "If you want respect and trust, you have to earn those, and thus far, you haven't earned them from me." She smiles up at James and wraps an arm around his waist before she gazes back at Wesker. "So whatever your plan is, if I need to trust you, we're going to have a bit of a problem."|