|Buck Rogers|| What does one do when humans swarm like bees? Oh, they lack the wings and the many legs, but they move with their own fluid grace-- a mass of flesh that rolls like ocean waves, their buzz the stomping of a thousand feet. And they might lack the stingers, but their barbs are waspish, angry letters scrawled on pickets and bellowed in synchronized chants. Indeed, humans might not be bees, but they're very similar.
The swarm is gathered in the streets near the TerraSave offices. It seemed a natural place for them to all organize, a local hotspot of sympathy from which they could flood the city-- disaffected youth, mainly, though there's a goodly number of older men and women, from all walks of life come together in sustained anger over the outrageous sins of the F.B.C., the failures of their own government to protect them, and all other social ills that have been melded together with the clay of fury.
Still. What does one do when this happens? Join in, maybe-- it's certainly easy. There's a warm resonance that blossoms in the heart when you join a group and get really mad at other people. Walking is a higher road, though it can be difficult to resist the temptation. And if you're a real idiot, you blow on the fire, and trust the smoke will eventually choke every little bee out.
"You fuckin' morons," Buck spits at the feet of five people near him, two women and three men. "What do you know about any of this?"
|Trixie||Trixie may be inadvertently adding fuel to this fire. She steps out of a taxicab close to the TerraSave offices swathed in a digicam plastic raincoat that doesn't completely hide her F.B.C. fatigues and body armor, though her only weapon is a pistol holstered at her thigh. Spying the crowd and seeing a few of their signs that are in English, she takes care to keep closer to the building, as far from the crowd as she can manage. A look of concern comes over her as she spies what can only be Buck Rogers arguing with some of the crowd.|
|Buck Rogers|| One of the benefits of a crowd is that there is anonynimity even for the enemy; Trixie's presence, initially, is unnoticed. She's just a pretty girl in a raincoat that seems a bit bulkier than it should be, and so gets lost in the tides-- she walks along the building and sees people chanting, arguing, yelling, waving signs and arms. Most stand in solidarity, but, as with any issue, there are counter-protesters.. those who come and respond to anger with anger, or try to calm people down and discuss the issues rationally. It's a mix of French and English.
"Fucking Americans," one twenty-one year old French girl says, her pierced nostrils flared.
"The media has to be misrepresenting it," an overweight middle-aged man is trying to explain in French, though he's getting heated. "If they were that evil, why would they have helped us all this time? What's the point?"
A few disgruntled folks look unfortunately black bloc, wearing sunglasses and hoodies and coverings over their faces.
The people Buck are engaging, however, are normal. Angry, but normal. "What do we know? We saw it! We saw it! They were killing innocent people! How can you defend that?"
The giant shakes his head, and steels his gaze down at them. "Some of them were innocent. But I killed them because they all had to die."
It's enough to stun them into silence... briefly.
|Trixie||Trixie is certainly stunned... for a moment. But she recovers quickly, hurrying over to Buck. Maybe she's just that used to him. "Maybe we should get you out of here before things get any worse?" she suggests softly.
To the crowd she offers only some loud words in English. "The BBC didn't show even /half/ of that video! Only a few seconds in the middle that looked the worst! TerraSave will tell you the truth about it!". Then she tugs at Buck's arm to try to get him away from the crowd.
|Buck Rogers|| One of the young women, a mousy brunette, takes the dare the men won't-- that she can strike Buck and get away with it. Her hands smack against his chest in defiant provocation once, twice, three times, the thwump of her palm serving to enunciate her words. "Murderer! You're one of those F.B.C. thugs?" The others crowd in, but they aren't violent, not yet-- ideology or not, few people are bold enough to pick a fight with a man of Buck's sheer size.
But so far, her courage isn't getting her punched in the face.
"You need to take your God damn hands off me, sweetheart," he says, and there's a sudden ice in his voice, subzero anger-- his jaw is tight. But then Trixie's there, tugging on his arm, and before the whole crowd starts paying attention, the big man turns. Now her male accomplices are bolder; they don't attack, but press in closer, sandwich him. Buck pivots and shoulderchecks one hard enough to make him turn damn near one-eighty, grunting and stepping away toward the building. The girl keeps hitting at his back as he walks away, until the other girl pulls her back.
A little bit of walking brings Buck and Trixie away from the crowd. Oh, they're still yelling, marching, protesting, and a fist fight will probably break out between someone else, but -they're- fine for now.
"TerraSave will tell them the truth? TerraSave's the fuckin' reason behind this. Dumb cunt hippies."
|Trixie||Trixie almost abandons guiding Buck away for subduing the brunette would-be spitfire, but notes that she probably can't even bruise Buck's feelings more than slightly, and that he's not fighting back. Not until the man closest to him is pushed aside for trying to surround him. Thankfully, none of the others seem brave enough to retaliate, or else this could have turned much, much uglier.
She stares back at the crowd as they finally get clear, then at Buck. "No, the /BBC/ is to blame... TerraSave's video is much longer than that sound bite the news showed. If it had been shown in its entirety, it would have exonerated everyone in it. They were trying to /help/ us, and maybe hurt some actual rats a lot further up the chain, when they put the video out to the news. They didn't see that the BBC could, and would, edit it to show the worst part only. So maybe they deserve some of the heat, but not all of it."
|Buck Rogers||"Bullshit," Buck growls, pounding pavement as he stalks down the sidewalk like a frustrated bear. He rounds on Trixie, and there's a light in his eyes that hasn't been there for some time-- a wildness of apocalyptic fire and hate. "You're smarter than that, girl. How would it hurt the rats higher up? What rats? Your C.O. giving the order? Because he's the highest up motherfucker in the video, no matter how you edit the footage!" His fist slams into the brick and mortar of the shopfront whose facade they now sit in the shadow of. "How does that damn anyone but the boots on the ground? Right call or wrong, we're the only ones the footage judges!" He snarls, lip curled, fingers tightening and dragging his knuckles against the rough-textured bricks until they scratch and bleed. "I've a mind to wring Emma's fuckin' neck. I don't know who released it, but she's in charge, and should have shut that shit down. You don't go leaking this. You know better. It's always meant to hurt."|
|Trixie||Trixie glances back at the crowd worriedly, but they seem to be staying put for the moment. "Don't ask /me/, 'kay? /I/ didn't put that rubbish out. I told Emma it couldn't hurt any higher-ups the next time I saw her, and she was really shook up about it. Now she's trying to get the whole video out somehow, to counter the BBC footage. I don't know if it'll help or not, but I'll feel better once it's out. Once /someone/ has an opposing viewpoint to what the BBC did to us. I think she asked Isabel to post it in her Journals."
She draws her raincoat tighter about her as they walk, against the chance of someone seeing her uniform so close to the crowd. "I found out that she was aiming for Colonel Wesker. And I can't say I blame her a bit. I just wish she'd had a better idea than releasing something like /that/ to the most anti-F.B.C. TV news network in Europe."
|Buck Rogers|| Like iron plunged in water, Buck's anger quenches with hissing abruptness. He draws in a tight breath as the red trickles down the hairs of his hand. Over Trixie's shoulder, he stares at the young woman who struck him-- she's staring back, stealing glances as she talks with her friends. This isn't the first time the man's dealt with anger or protesters; it is the first time he can recall being loathed so intensely by someone he'd never met or done anything to. His agent handled the bitter hatemail, after all. "There's no helping it," he proclaims. "Just need to wait for the rage to die down. There'll always be another incident, another thing to rant about-- this'll all get sucked into some American imperialism debate and wind up focused on the Middle East, you watch." His fist opens slow, sun-bronzed fingers blossoming around a bloody red palm. "But the F.B.C.'s going to be weakened in the EU for a long, long while."
His eyes slide back to Trixie. Soaking in the sight of her with a passion; anger and other sentiments so easily mingle. "Wesker, huh? And why do you all wanna fuck with the Captain? He was always a good guy."
He lifts his arm and slips it around her shoulders as she tightens her raincoat, shepherding her with no small amount of protectiveness down the sidewalk. Away from TerraSave, away from the swarm.
|Trixie||"I was never sure about his feelings about me. I know he and Dad didn't see eye to eye, but I tried to just do my job and not cause trouble. I mean, it took getting into S.T.A.R.S. just to get me out of the Campus PD, after my 90 day probation was up. Every time I tried to get transferred into the main police force, it got blocked," Trixie explains. "That's neither here nor there, though. What matters is that Dad didn't fully trust Wesker, and it got worse after Mom was killed. And now, thanks to some friends in funny places, I know why... what Dad suspected."
She steps forward as they reach the end of the block, out from under the arm shielding her. "Buck, how much do you trust me?" she asks softly, looking up into his eyes.
|Buck Rogers|| Their travel arrests in the cool shade of a Honey Locust tree growing near the edge of a cement plaza leading to a deli. The clamor of the crowd is duller here, though never gone. All the while, the girl's words root in Buck's ever-so-spacious head, the outline of her intended narrative clarifying itself until it becomes crisp. "You don't think the Captain's on the up and up," responds Buck, bringing his bloody hand to scratch his beard. The red streaks paint him as the dappled sunlight paints the leaves. "And your dad didn't either, huh? Wouldn't be the first cop getting his palm greased.. but the Captain's always been such a tight ass, it's hard to believe." The brute shrugs, and turns away a little, pondering Trixie's question with the gravity it warrants.
But then he's patting her head with the sanitary hand and smiling. "As far as I could throw you, beautiful," and he winks. "What is it?"
|Trixie||Trixie eyes Buck's arms in the wake of the comment, noting the smile. "I'm guessing that's a long way, but I don't want to be the test case, 'kay?" she replies with a wry smile and a mock 'backing away' hand gesture that's followed by straightening her beret under her raincoat hood.
"Don't tell /anyone/ I told you this... but I want someone outside the F.B.C. and TerraSave to know, and I'm sure I can trust you," she says, in a low voice. "Wesker was working with Umbrella since before the outbreak. He was even friendly with the company founder."
|Buck Rogers|| "That's a serious accusation," Buck replies after a moment's consideration. Whether he takes it seriously or not is hard to tell--that smoky voice is awful neutral. "Especially to take on faith, baby girl." He hooks his thumbs in the back pockets of his pants. "You implyin' he was cashing corporate checks back in Raccoon? Doing what, covering up their experiments?" He draws in a deep, rumbling breath, exhaling through pursed lips with an idle growl. "Or somethin' less nefarious? Awful lot'a people worked with Umbrella; hell, I dated a secretary back in the city. Damn near everyone worked for them one way or another." He looks around. Spies a bench near some tables, likely meant for walkers and deli-goers. Escort the girl, with a guiding and forceful hand on the small of the back, take a seat, and hrmm.
"Nah.. wouldn't have that look on your face if it was innocent. Spill, cutie."
|Trixie||"No... he wasn't working openly with the company back then. Or ever, really. It was an under-the-table thing, and I don't know all the facts on it. I just know that he was helping them test their viruses, and may have been involved in some of that testing. Think about it... remember how some of S.T.A.R.S. got killed on a mission into the Arklays before the outbreak?" Trixie asks, still keeping her voice low and letting Buck conduct her to the seat in question, wincing a little at the rcracking sound of her plastic raincoat trying to flex against existing creases as she sits down.
"It looks like a coincidence, a chance meeting with the first major B.O.W.'s, but I don't think it was. Not anymore. That was probably one of the tests... groaners and such against a trained fighting force. That may be why Umbrella was so willing to back S.T.A.R.S. back when they were founded. No other town had anything like us at the time. I'm sure he was involved in the mushroom treatment we and the rest of the RPD got before the lid came off the town. If he hadn't been, we would've been on the streets with our heavy stuff, mashing melons and taking names, instead of doing routine patrols and not knowing /what/ the hell was going on, except that the stories were just getting stranger."
|Buck Rogers|| The weight of the accusation ought to hit like a train. Someone Buck knows and trusts-- well, is attracted to, which is close enough to trust-- is telling him that his former superior officer, now well-placed in a branch of the American military, is working with the very forces he purports to fight.
If Albert Wesker is the ill intent of the bio-terrorism world, what might that mean for everyone else?
It ought to. It ought to.
It does not.
The giant hooks one arm behind the bench. His fingertips drum an aggressive beat. "That's a lot to take in," he says after a long, long silence, watching her. He isn't smiling; his mouth is subtle-turned to a sneer of cold command, head tilted up, looking down the length of his nose at her. There's an imperiousness to the look that Buck rarely wields-- this isn't the look of a cop, or a berserker, or even a b-list celebrity. This is a cruel and naked appraisal. "And say it's true. What do you want to do?"
|Trixie||"Buck, what /can/ we do? He's top kick in a major military special task force, with friends in a company that's been legally torn apart in North America and blown to hell in Asia, yet still refuses to roll over and die. That was able to amass a whole new outbreak under everyone's nose right here in Paris," Trixie replies, just a bit helplessly, giving her hands a little toss of frustration. "/And/ I'm /in/ that branch. For me, he's absolutely bulletproof. And I've got a feeling he's that way for an awful lot of people, assuming anyone would believe someone with his record were capable of being corrupted."
She manages, with effort, not to shrink under that gaze. It's a near thing. "I wish I had more proof to give you. There are others who have that proof, but it says something that /they/ aren't going for him yet. They're gathering more evidence and evaluating their chances, 'cause if they don't take him down on the first go, he'll just crush them. Just like Umbrella would."
|Buck Rogers|| "Say he's working for Umbrella," Buck decides, playing along with the accusations. "Friends with the higher ups. That'd mean the F.B.C.'s controlled opposition-- a tool to gather combat data on B.O.W.s. in the field, and through its existence channel anti-Umbrella military operations in predetermined directions. Every conflict you've been in, then, is meaningless. You and yours have fought, killed, and died all to make better weapons that sell for more money, maybe pick off black market competition, or just convince the world things are being done so they stay complacent." The rapping of his fingers against the bench terminates. "His position would imply more than ties to Umbrella; it'd suggest influence within the highest parts of the US government. At the very least, deep executive connections, military. It'd all be one great big bloodsoaked pyramid scheme."
He watches her as he speaks. Always, actually-- staring, in that too-forceful fashion, every look significant. His gaze is sharp. He admires that she doesn't wilt.. but wants to see it happen, too. "Alright. Who do I gotta talk to to get to the bottom of this?"
|Trixie||"Sounds familiar, doesn't it?" Trixie asks, looking up at him with empty eyes. Her tone is cold, with only a hint of a brittle edge suggesting that she is fully realizing the ramifications of what he's saying. Or maybe, deep down, she realized them long ago. "All that changed is the scale."
She gestures back toward TerraSave's Paris HQ. "I'd start with Emma. But be gentle with her. She's just lived through two attempts on her life, and has the bandages and medical bills to prove it. But she can be trusted. Even if her judgement in action isn't always the best."
|Buck Rogers|| "The daft little red head's got secret info, huh?" It's rhetorical; of course she does if Trixie's directing him to her. He waves a hand and chews on that. "She shouldn't have done that. Allowed these dumb kids to release that. But I'll give her the benefit of the doubt if you're vouching for her, sweetheart." He sucks in a deep breath and tilts his head back, eyes closed, bathing in the sun. "Get out of the F.B.C. Get yourself a discharge. I don't care if it's honorable or not-- be insubordinate, get knocked up, go Full Metal Jacket. Hell, just vanish. With that leech fucker dead, I'm heading out of Paris. I owe Celeste and you a trip to Disney, but after that, right on a plane." He looks back at her now. "I own some land on the Paradise Islands, right off Bolivar's coast. Got myself a nice private beach, house-- white sand, lots of water, lovely cliffs. Fish and gulls and salt. Fenced in. Access to the local resort, if you want. I'm bringing Celeste there. She'll be safe."
A pause. "Ain't under US jurisdiction. Come with us, keep an eye on her for me. I'll pay ya, if you want work. She's comfortable around you anyway."
|Trixie||"I'll try. But Esa tried to get transferred out, and got blocked. What's that say about my chances? And what you're suggesting would land me in a military prison, not free and clear in civvies. You saw how that ploy in Full Metal Jacket ended," Trixie replies, bowing her head for the first time. "I'm looking for a way out, but for now I'm stuck riding this wave where it goes. And right now, that's Maracaibo. That's our new assignment... shuffled off on some petty detail in South America, in some propped-up tin-pot dictator's backyard. Only Wesker's not going with us... he's been shunted to our primary area of interest in Africa and the Middle East. You were right about one thing... it /did/ only hurt the boots on the ground."
She looks up at him again after a long moment. "If I do get out, I'll head your way as quick as I can. Not like anything's tying me to the States anymore. I just hope it's not as hot as I remember from my geography classes."
|Buck Rogers|| "So Esa's in on this too," Buck says, chewing on the name. "Don't recognize the name, but from how you talk-- higher rank than you?" The brutal appraisal that lingered in his eyes, the vague disdain, has faded-- there's a warmer look now, accompanied by the huge man cupping Trixie's face again. It might bring to mind memories beneath the Eiffel Tower, when he flirted with her with alcohol on his breath and a thumb between her lips.. but he's sober now, and his hand, big and rough as it might be, is nevertheless warm. "One way or another, little lady, I'll keep an eye on you. Your dad and I weren't best friends, but hell, he was a brother-- what would I say to him after if I didn't keep you out of trouble?" An almost patronizing, albeit affectionate, pat on her cheek follows, then he withdraws the touch. "There's more going on than you know. More than any of you know. Stick by me, and whatever happens, you'll be okay. All these worries about Umbrella, Wesker.. leave 'em to someone else. Because I promise you, the world's gonna change, and it won't be ruled by them."
He's smiling. But Buck Rogers is not, by any means, a subtle man; stoic and macho, yes, but not subtle. The lack of surprise, what he says, he knows more than he lets on.
Then again, he is B.S.A.A. Though he doesn't recall if he ever told her that.
|Trixie||"A little higher, maybe." Trixie almost crumbles at that touch. The past month has emotionally beaten her bloody and raw, and it doesn't look like the hurt's going to stop anytime soon. The suggestion of comfort, of protection, almost undoes her right then and there. Were it not for the unyielding spirit she got from her father, she might have folded after Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine were killed. But that same spirit keeps her together now. "As long as it doesn't /end/," she murmurs. "As long as Umbrella pays for what it's done. Thank you. For... for being here. And the offer. Maybe B.S.A.A. needs another shooter or something... a lateral's better than rotting away under Wesker's thumb."|