DISCLAIMER: Paramount owns Voyager, Capcom owns Resident Evil. I *sob* don't.
CLASSIFICATION: T/7, J/f uber. Voyager/Resident Evil
RATING: Nc-17 (for gore and horror)
WARNINGS: If you are easily offended please, please, please do not read. Contains blood and horrible deaths. I also apologise for any inconsistencies in military manoeuvres, terms or equipment and scientific terms or equipment, because I don't know very much about either of them.
Silence. It covers the grounds of a country house, set in the middle of a silent forest. Silent paths wind their way through silent gardens. A well used car park, thoroughly modern and thoroughly out of place, is eerily abandoned and quiet. The house itself is dark, no lights in the windows even though night is approaching fast. Inside the house the disquiet grows, oozing out of the tastefully expensive decor and silent rooms.
It's obvious the house was - or rather, is - being used. Rooms are full of possessions, and little things in hallways - a book here, a magazine there, someone's idly placed coffee mug - give the place a sense of being lived in. There is very little dust, but what there is lies heavily disturbed.
The house, though, has more levels than a house should. Keep going down and things become slightly discordant. A table knocked over; a picture pulled down; a bullet hole in the wall; blood in a pool on the carpet, soaking into and ruining the expensive weave. A groaning, just on the cusp of hearing, pervades the hallways, seemingly no-where and everywhere all at once.
'Don't talk! Run!' Three people exploded out of a set of double doors, panic etched on their faces. They urged tired and frightened bodies to give that little bit extra as, with an ear-rending screech, they heard claws hit the concrete behind them. The trio sprinted down the dank corridor, trying not to get tangled in each others legs, and each feeling the hot breath of the beast on their backs.
'Keep going!' The leader shouted, her once white lab coat stained and grimy as it streamed out behind her. 'We're nearly there!'
The man in the middle could feel his chest tightening as the lift came into view. They were going to make it!
Suddenly a high pitched snarl rang out, amplified against the close grey stone walls. Great claws split the flesh of his back in one swipe, scraping against bone, blood gushing out over already soiled clothes. He screamed as the beast pulled him down, falling before he could try and stop himself. His jaw broken on impact, all he could manage were wordless screams as the beast turned him over, seeming to smile at him as it raised disfigured claws for the final blow.
'Come on!' The lead woman pulled on the arm of the second, who had turned back and was frozen, transfixed by the blood. She changed direction and they threw themselves through the nearest door as behind them, the beast screamed its victory.
'Delta to Charlie, do you copy Charlie?' Her face twisted in irritation, she held the headphones tightly to her ears, trying to make out the words over the noise of the helicopter.
'Charlie here, what's our ETA?'
'One minute and counting. Be ready,' she said. She turned her attention away from the headphones and started to check all her equipment. A pistol was strapped securely to her thigh, a smaller one tucked in a shoulder holster and a knife in her boot. A shotgun was attached to the side of her pack. Let no-one say I ain't prepared, she thought, nodding at the rest of her unit and smoothing down her dark hair.
'We're there,'The pilot called, his voice tinny through the 'com. She looked across open air and saw the leader of Charlie team, Chakotay, nod sharply. Their 'copter veered off toward the east, looking for another landing site. She nodded to her team and then looked out of the open sided craft. Underneath them was the sprawled layout of a country house.
The outhouses were wreathed in mist, deadening sound and blurring vision. With one hand clamped over the haft of the axe and the other reaching out for the doorknob, she sent a silent prayer to whoever could hear her that she would make it out alive. She patted down the pockets of her overalls one last time, checking she still had her torch, lighter and map.
Blue eyes wide with fear, she reached out for the doorknob. Her hand shook as she touched it and the shaking transmitted itself to the cold metal, the lock rattling in the door. She removed her hand like it had been burnt, suddenly afraid of what might hear her, and she had to breathe deeply for several minutes before she could touch the door-knob without it rattling. To her ears it sounded so very loud, just like her breathing did as it roared in and out in harsh, quick pants.
Taking a deep breath, she lifted the axe, ripped open the door and ran.
'This is bullshit,' One of the men said, his voice transmitted directly into her ear by the ear-pieces they wore. The team was spread out along the front of the house, slowly sweeping the grounds as the approached the formidable building. They were investigating the deaths of several locals and a few hikers in the nearby woods, and when S.T.A.R.S Charlie team's helicopter had found the country house, both team leaders had decided to search the grounds and investigate the house to see if the people there had seen anything.
'Shut up Paris,' she snarled quietly. 'This is a mission on unknown territory, so shut up before you give our position away.'
She thought she heard him muttering under his breath but dismissed him quickly, turning her attention back to their destination. In the semi-darkness, the house looked forbidding, and seasoned soldier that she was she couldn't help but shiver. Once again her mind wandered back to the letter...could this be the place mentioned? And if so, why the secrecy?
'Did you hear that?'
'What now, Paris?' She asked, picking her steps carefully through the thigh high grass. Wasn't this place supposed to be populated? Shouldn't the gardens be better kept than this?
'Something coming in fast from the North-west!' The man hissed. Instinctively the unit picked up it's pace and drew together, going from a line spread out across the gardens to an easier defensible group.
'I don't see nothing,' one of the men on her left said, raising his automatic rifle to firing position as they moved faster still.
'I've got a bad feeling about this.' The only other woman on the team, Wildman, said. While they often picked on her for always having 'a bad feeling' about something, this time it set them on edge. It was as if she'd voiced what they'd all been thinking.
Paris whirled, raising his gun as the long grass on their left rustled, parting quickly. He snapped the gun's attached light on, secrecy be damned, and fired a quick burst and soon everyone was firing into the grass.
'Anyone remember that scene in Jurassic Park two when they're all running through that field and the raptors come along…?' He whispered.
'Shut up, Paris,' at least three of the team members said, but their hearts weren't in it. Instead, their hearts were in their throats as the rustling started up on the other side.
'Move it, people!' She hissed, 'they're flanking us!'
'Who's flanking us? What the hell is going on?!' Paris yelled, firing another quick three round burst. The panic in his voice fanned the flames of terror already burning in every one of them, and their leader felt it, cursing the loud-mouth.
'Stay together!' She said, trying to sound as if she wasn't feeling it too. 'No-one break for it!'
The rustling sped up, coming from at least four different directions. She glanced up at the house…it was still too far away!
'Delta to Charlie, Charlie respond!' She said loudly into her transmitter. 'Charlie! Unknown assailants on the property!'
'…lta! Delta! We...r…der…attack! Man down, man down!'
Suddenly, one of the men on the edge of the group went down, screaming in agony as the long grass swallowed him. A spurt of blood, black in the moonlight, splashed up and across the grass and the men looked at each other in horror.
She looked at where he had been and then at the rest of her men. 'Break!' She yelled.
As they turned and fled, she heard growling behind them, and then the scream of someone else
'Duck!' She shot over two team members' heads into the grass as they ran. The two men straightened and started running all out as something gained on them, unearthly snarling following their every move. Wildman and Paris had made it to the huge front doors of the house and were straining to get them open as fast as they could. Just as the last three leapt up the steps, they managed to get a gap large enough for two people to get through, old hinges protesting as the huge doors were pushed inward.
The team bundled in, and set to work closing the old doors. The leader covered them, sweeping the porch with her light as the other four strained against the huge doors.
'C'mon, c'mon!' She said, eyes wide as the growling reached the edge of the grass. Finally the doors started to move, slowly inching back towards each other.
Just as they were nearly there, a dark shape broke from the grass, howling its defiance at the team. She took aim and fired, but the shape kept coming, faster and faster.
'Close the doors! Close them!' She yelled, firing again and again. Sharp teeth reflected the moonlight as the beast screeched, and a muzzle black with blood snapped for her legs just as the doors came together. She took a deep breath, feeling her legs go weak as her brain caught up with her on what had just happened.
'What the hell is going on?!' Paris yelled.
In a movement that might have been vaguely comical under different circumstances, the two remaining scientists slapped a hand over each other's mouth simultaneously. With a silent agreement, they slowly began to lift their hands, only to slap them back as each one started to whimper in absolutely terror.
A sound drew their attention away from each other and to the thick door they'd locked behind them. It sounded like someone was dragging something past, stopping every few seconds. They heard the beast throw its prey into their door and heard a long, loud moan, one that they recognised immediately. They drew closer to each other as they recognised the voice, and each began to cry silent tears of fear and hopelessness.
'Have you seen this place?' Wildman asked.
The rest of the group drew their attention from the noises outside and turned. The room they stood in was dark, almost too dark to see. Paris fumbled around the wall until he found a switch and suddenly they were bathed in light. A huge electrical chandelier had exploded into life above them, illuminating the massive staircase.
'Wow,' Paris said, admiring the artwork on the walls and the expensive looking knick-knacks spread about. He was admiring a gold shield set into the wall when he heard the commander mutter 'fingers to yourselves, lads.'
He shrugged and saw that they all had their backs turned, admiring the shear scope of the room. He opened his penknife and, careful not to damage its bracket, plied the small shield from the wall. He put the shield in his pack and then something else caught his eye.
The hole where the shield had been went far deeper then it should have. He heard an odd sound then, like something moving in the walls, and he peered further. Something was moving deep in the recess, glinting slightly in the light that reached that far in. He raised his gun, pointing the mounted light down the hole…and then everything started falling apart.
Her chest hurt like hell from the running, but she'd made it. She was in the shed nearest the house, the one with the adjoining path, and she'd made sure to lock the door behind her. She slumped against the wall, wiping the sweat from her face with one mucky hand. The axe was getting heavy, almost too heavy to run with, and she found some rope, fashioning a way to sling it across her back. Once that was tightened, she searched for another, lighter weapon in the dark corners of the shed and found it in the shape of a smaller hatchet, used for hacking dead limbs from tress when the chainsaw wasn't working…wait a minute…
The chain saw was lying neglected on the workbench in the room. She checked the petrol tank and, despite the situation, smiled slightly to herself.
'What the fuck?!' Wildman yelled as the floor moved beneath their feet. They clustered around the walls, watching in horror as the room tried to throw them around mercilessly.
Paris stood shocked until a tremor threw him into a wall. He rummaged desperately through his pack until the cool metal of the shield met his questing fingers. He was about to ram it back into its hole when the floor around the walls fell open and the team fell, screaming, down a long dark chute.
'Did you hear that?' The blonde asked, whispering.
'It sounded like…screaming?'
'Do you think someone else is still out there?' The taller woman's eyes lit up with hope, and the auburn headed woman didn't have the heart to say that if they were screaming, they wouldn't be out there for much longer.
'Yes, sounds like it,' she said, standing and helping the other woman upright.
'Do…do you think we're going to get out of here Kathy?'
Before she turned to look the other woman in the eyes, Kathryn Janeway locked her face into an expression as closely resembling a hopeful smile as she could. 'Yes. I do. We're going to get out of here, Hanson. You'd better believe it.'
The taller woman smiled then, her face lighting up through it's layers of grime. 'I do.'
The team landed heavily on a hard floor in complete darkness, their bodies complaining bitterly at the treatment. They lay still for a few seconds assessing their injuries, and then the leader sat up.
'Paris, don't think I didn't see you trying to stick that shield back. It was you that did this, wasn't it!!' The woman launched herself forward in the darkness and landed on him, pushing him down to the floor and wrapping strong hands around his throat.
'I…I…didn't…' He managed as he choked.
'Liar!' She snarled, shaking him violently. 'I've had it up to here with you always fucking up our missions!'
Just then, two of the team found the pair in the darkness. Wildman wrapped her arms around her boss's middle, trying to heave her off the stricken man, while a second member tried to pry her hands from his throat.
'Let it go boss!' Wildman said. 'He's not worth it! When we get back, we'll get the bastard fired!'
The woman let go suddenly and the pair tumbled backwards, landing with a thump and a groan on something soft. They lay there for a few seconds,
'You're right Sam,' she said, untangling herself carefully, 'thanks.'
'No problem, Torres, just keep that temper under control,' even in darkness Torres could tell Sam had grinned at her.
'What the hell are we lying on?' She asked, reaching out to feel what was underneath her.
One of the team had finally got it together and snapped their gun-light on. Blinking at the sudden brightness, Torres stood and looked around. The room they were in appeared to be quite large. She saw a door at one end. It had floorboards, neatly polished, underfoot and a few pictures hung on papered walls. Looking up, she couldn't see any sign of how they'd entered the room.
'Holy fuck!' Wildman exclaimed behind her. She whirled, and saw the team clustered around something.
The team drew closer together as they stared down at the visage, and Torres was having a hard time keeping just about everything she'd ever eaten down. A man, white lab coat and smart trousers soaked in blood, was lying face down on the floorboards. His back was a mass of shredded clothes, skin and blood, and Torres narrowed her eyes, bending down.
'Are those teeth marks?' She asked, pointing to an exposed part of the dead mans neck.
One of the other men, Chapman, bent down and gently turned the guy over with the barrel of his gun. They gasped. 'Yes…' He managed. 'I think they are.'
The man's arms, torso and face were a mass of human sized bite marks. It looked like he'd been eaten alive.
The moonlight gave the hallway a silvery glow as it passed through the large, high windows. It hit cabinets full of expensive looking plates and candlesticks, pictures with large, nice frames and a figure, tall with tangled brown hair streaming out behind her as she desperately ran as if the hounds of hell were on her heels. For all intents and purposes, they were.
She reached the corner and took it so fast she nearly overbalanced, stumbling slightly. She righted herself, hands desperately trying to pull the cord on the chainsaw she ran with. Finally it spluttered into life, the teeth of the saw catching the moonlight as they started to move.
She reached the end door and pulled hard on the doorknob, but it was locked. 'No!' She screamed, leaping forward and putting her shoulder to the door. Again and again she threw herself against the thick wood, but it did not move.
She lifted the 'saw, about to cut through the door, when she heard a sound behind her. She knew she didn't have time to cut through the thick wood before the thing chasing caught up with her, so she raised the 'saw, swallowed her tears of terror, turned and charged.
Delta team, or what was left of it, was lined up in front of their leader.
She checked her pack and then straightened to address them, running her hand through chin length dark hair as her chocolate eyes scanned the assembled team. 'Now, as you know, our mission parameters have been changed due to circumstances beyond our control. This was a simple recon mission to back up reports of missing personnel and strange goings-on in the area. Now, our main priority is to get out. Any survivors we find will also come with us, understand?' The team nodded. 'Good. Now, I want to…see…' Her words trailed off as she saw all of their sight go past her, focusing on something directly behind her.
'He can't possibly be alive!' Sam whispered as Torres turned, a hard ball of fear settling in her gut.
The dead man was moving.
They watched as he began to flail on the hard concrete. He rolled onto to his front and started to pull himself toward them, moaning in a cold, empty voice.
Chapman and Wildman started forward, bending down to pick him up. Just as their hands grabbed his upper arms he shot forward, sinking his teeth into the soft flesh of Chapman's calf. His bloody hands wrapped themselves around Chapman's leg as the soldier stepped back, yelling.
Torres leapt forward and grabbed the scientists legs, pulling for all she was worth as Chapman kicked at the mans head.
'Somebody shoot him! Shoot him!' She screeched, pulling her pistol from its holster with one hand as she continued to pull.
Paris loosed three bursts into the man's body as Torres aimed for his head, and within thirty seconds he went limp in her grasp. She pulled him off her team-mate with one hand, keeping the gun trained on him.
When she'd pulled him to the other side of the room, she turned back to see Chapman sitting against the wall, a hand to his wound as blood started to pool on the floorboards. She nodded at Paris who shook himself out of his shock and ran forward, opening his pack as he did so. He checked the wound, cleaned it and dressed it quickly - say what you like about the weasel, she thought, but he's one of the best medics we've ever had.
'It looked clean,' he said as he gave Chapman a small shot of antibiotics. 'I don't think it'll get infected.'
Torres nodded and Chapman got to his feet. 'How does it feel?' She asked.
'I'll be okay,' he said, shooting a glance at the man's body. It was clear his wound wasn't what was troubling him most, and the thought was one they all had - What the hell is going on?
'Are you ready?' Kathryn asked. 'We have to try and get out of here, get off the grounds.'
'I'm ready,' Hanson said, trying desperately not to shake. Janeway nodded at her and then every so slowly unlocked the door of the room they were hiding in. She opened the door a fraction of an inch at a time, peering out into the dimly lit corridor beyond.
'I think it's clear,' she whispered. She could see the lift, its doors still open, and it was so close now. Pulling the other woman behind her, she stepped out into the dank, dripping underground hallway. They took one step forward and then another, trying to ignore the dark pools of blood by their feet.
They sped up, trying to walk quietly and at the same time so desperate to get out that they almost didn't care how much noise they made. The lift was so close, only another fifteen feet…suddenly Kathryn noticed that all the side doors leading off from the hallway were ajar. A feeling of dread insinuated itself into her consciousness and she moved a little faster.
Why are all the doors open? They were shut, they were all shut, it's the rules…why are they…?
A low snarl, almost crooning, echoed behind them. They froze, and Kathryn turned to look over her shoulder. 'It's one of them,' she whispered, feeling Hanson begin to shake once more.
Suddenly, from behind every door came a moan, pale fingers pulling at the half-open doors as zombies fought to get to living flesh.
'How…?' Hanson stuttered, staring at the rooms.
Kathryn knew. She stared at the beast that was lurking at the far end of the corridor, its face twisted into a permanent snarl by its oversized teeth. It saw her staring and bobbed its head…it's laughing at us she thought.
'He did it,' she said, 'he trapped us here. He herded the zombies into the rooms because he knew as soon as they smelled us, they'd come out and we'd be trapped.'
'Does that mean that it doesn't wasn't to kill us itself?'
'No,' Kathryn said, horror making the words catch in her throat. 'It means he's playing with us. He's learning.'
They watched in horror as the dead man lying on the other side of the room pulled himself slowly to his feet, His movements looked jerky and disconnected, as if he'd only seen people move and never tried it himself.
No…it can't be possible, can it? As if reading her thoughts, the thing in front of her groaned. She un-holstered her gun in one swift movement, aiming it at the dead man who had somehow found his feet despite being shot. He swayed gently, as if caught in an invisible breeze, and then raised his face, sniffing the room. He turned sightless eyes toward them and started forward.
Without hesitation, Torres put two bullets in his torso. He stumbled, looking lost for a moment, and then started forward once more. He didn't seem to register the pain at all.
All at once the room was filled with the loud crack of gunshots as the rest of Delta team opened fire, mincing the guy to pieces. She worked fast, un-strapping her shotgun from her pack and she held up a hand for cease-fire. The guy was still standing, somehow, although he'd stopped moving. Blood ran thick and slow from the holes on his body as he moaned quietly to himself, his skin slightly green where it wasn't blood-smeared.
She walked forward and he lifted his head as she approached, sniffing deeply.
Like a dog hunting for meat, she thought as she stopped just out of range. The guy tried to step forward but his legs no longer responded to his commands, and all he could manage was to lean slightly in her direction. He lifted one hand, reaching out for her.
She kept her eyes on his face, noting the slackness of his skin and the pearly sheen over his eyes, before she raised her gun and blew his head from his shoulders.
The body toppled backwards slowly, and she nudged it with a booted toe as if, somehow, it would get up again.
'Everybody with a shotgun,' she said, her eyes still on the headless zombie. 'Use it.'
'Move, move, move!' Kathryn screamed as they broke for the lift. The zombies were making their way into the hallway, reaching out blindly for the pair as they ran. The monster behind them, seeing that the zombies were not going to stop them reaching the lift, let out an outraged screeched and launched itself down the corridor.
Kathryn took the lead, shouldering zombies out of the way as Hanson followed in her wake. She felt cold hands reaching out, brushing against her body and tangling in her hair, and she let out a dry sob as she recognised some of the dead faces surrounding them.
They were only about six feet from the lift when she heard a scream behind her and turned to see Hanson caught in the deathly strong grip of two zombies. The men were about to lunge forward and sink their teeth into her flesh when a fire extinguisher slammed into the side of one their heads. The man fell backwards, moaning slightly as he lost balance, and Kathryn ripped Hanson from the second ones grasp.
The hold-up had cost them, and zombies littered the path ahead. Behind them, the monster was closing fast, his every breath punctuated by an angry snarl as he struggled to keep his playthings from escaping. Thinking quickly, Kathryn sprayed a thick white cloud from the extinguisher behind them, masking them from the monster, and then used the heavy canister to beat a path to the lift.
Throwing the other petrified woman into the small space, she frantically pushed the button to make the doors close as her smoke screen disappeared. The monster saw what was happening and tried to reach them, but his plan had backfired - the zombies he'd hoped would slow them down were slowing him down instead, walking blindly into him even as he ripped them apart in frustration.
Too slowly, the doors started to close. Hanson screamed as an arm, mottled and dead, thrust itself between the doors. Programmed to open if an obstruction came between them, the doors reversed direction.
'No! God, no!' Kathryn screamed. She threw the fire extinguisher at the zombie trying to force its way in and the arm disappeared. Thumping the button as hard as she could, she watched in relief as the doors finally closed.
One hand clamped across the gushing claw marks on her arm and the other wielding the 'saw, the woman peered down the next dark hallway. It had only one door in it, and that was placed squarely in the middle of the wall instead of at the other end. Glancing behind her she closed the door and crept forward. The door looked like any other, except for the strange lock on the wall next to it.
She pulled her lighter from her pocket with her blood-covered hand and lit it, examining the keypad. She leaned forward, listening. What was that noise? It sounded like machinery, moving behind the door. What the hell was going on? Why was high-tech technology in an old country house?
Shaking her head and sighing, she realised that she couldn't open the door without knowing the code. She lifted the 'saw, preparing to cut a hold through the door, when suddenly the keypad lit up and beeped. She took a step back in surprise and her foot slipped in something on the thin carpet. Regaining her balance, she bent down to examine the substance carefully. It looked thick and sticky, and as she reached out her hand to feel it she was relieved to see that it wasn't blood as, in the moonlight, the liquid was a pale cream. Her relief lasted all of three seconds though, because as soon as her fingers touched the pool, they started to burn, the faint hissing of acid reaching her ears. She leapt upright and yowled, fighting down the urge to suck on her burning fingers as the skin crinkled and was eaten away.
She realised the acid had eaten partway through the carpet, and she ran to a clean part, trying to wipe off the burning substance on the rough material. The friction just made it worse, and tears of pain started to run down her cheeks.
Suddenly, something dropped onto the floor by her foot. She leaned closer and saw another small blob of acid start to eat through the thin weave. She leapt sideways as another pale drop fell, and then another. Standing slowly, she looked up.
'Can you hear that?' Hanson asked, standing slowly as the lift approached their stop.
Kathryn held her breath for a moment and sure enough, heard noises start to filter through the walls of the elevator. 'Someone's shouting,' she said.
They listened harder, and the shouting got louder. It was wordless, horrified shouting, and it was accompanied by the growling bass sound of something with a motor. As the lift stopped, the noises continued, and as the doors opened slowly they became deafeningly loud. A normal looking door barred their way into the house, and Hanson quickly rifled through her pockets, looking for and finding a keycard which she slipped into the reader by the side of the door. They heard some beeping that indicated that the electronic lock had been deactivated, and Kathryn carefully opened the door.
For a moment all the scientists could see were moonlit windows and the pool of light that the lift cast, and then the normal door was ripped from its hinges by something they couldn't see. The shouting became louder and Hanson darted forward, slamming a finger down on the button to close the doors with a frightened gasp. Just as they started to close a person barrelled into their space, reversing the doors direction and slamming them into the wall as they pushed inside. For a moment Kathryn panicked, raising her hands to push the body back out, thinking zombie! Zombie! But then the person started slamming their hand down on the elevator buttons at random, desperately trying to get the doors to close. The lift became filled with the roaring of a chainsaw and the smell of blood and petrol.
Suddenly Hanson screamed as a giant shape filled the doorway, monstrously real in the light cast from the small overhead light of the lift. Multiple eyes glimmered as the giant spider tried to force its oversized body into their space, its mandibles snapping and acid dripping from its jaws. The stranger revved the chainsaw and shouted something intelligible, thrusting the vibrating machine directly into the monsters mouth.
The thing screeched as its face was ripped apart, blood and acid spraying across the hallway as the teeth of the saw cut through its skin. It screamed as its own acid dripped onto its legs, eating through the thick limbs. Just as the doors started to close, she pulled it back quickly, switching it off entirely as the elevator moved once again.
She turned, dropping the 'saw from shocked fingers and slumping down against the wall. Kathryn could see the war of emotions battling on the new woman's face, and could guess at the thoughts producing them - What is going on? Why is it happening to me? What was that? Is this all a dream?
She shrugged off her once white lab coat and ripping off a length along the bottom. Slowly, she knelt down to the stranger's level and used the rag to clean a nasty claw wound on the woman's arm. The woman flinched but didn't try to move, and when she was done, Kathryn ripped another section off and bound the wound, tying it tightly.
'Thank you,' the newcomer whispered.
'No problem,' Kathryn whispered back, looking across into frightened blue-green eyes.
'What's that?' Sam asked, peering over Torres's shoulder. The shorter woman started in surprise and thrust the letter back into her pack, making sure it was under several other things.
'Nothing. Orders,' she said, standing and hefting her pack onto her back. Before Sam could question her further she called, 'Ready?'
The rest of Delta team nodded and they moved toward the door. They had traversed two hallways, turning on lights as they went, before anything untoward happened. They were trying to find stairs to take them back up to the floor with the main doors when Paris called them to stop and cocked his head to one side.
'Can you hear-'
'-that?' Kathryn asked. The others listened carefully. The lift had stopped but they'd kept the doors closed, overly cautious after what had happened last time they had attempted to leave the small space.
Sure enough, a moaning could be heard, permeating the air. 'It's them,' the stranger said. 'They're everywhere.'
Kathryn glanced over her, wondering how many of them the woman had had to kill to stay alive. She couldn't begin to think what the woman had been through - at least Hanson and herself known something was going wrong, but for everyone else it had just happened.
Hanson must have had similar thoughts, because she reached out and placed a comforting hand on the other woman's shoulder. 'They're…zombies,' she explained, aware that it wasn't the most comforting thing she could say.
'Zombies,' the woman repeated, her voice flat. 'You're kidding, right?'
'No…What did you think they were?' Kathryn asked, keeping her voice low and soft.
'I…I didn't think,' the woman admitted. 'I mean…I recognised some of them…tried to talk to them, but they just…I had to…' She hung her head, a few tears escaping her eyes as she screwed them shut.
'We'll get out of here,' Hanson said, 'we're going to make it.'
Buoyed by the words, the woman nodded. She opened her mouth to respond but the sharp rat-tat-tat of gunshots made her shut her mouth with a snap.
The three of them shared a look. Gunshots meant people.
'Paris!' Torres screeched, ducking under the arms of a zombie and blowing its head off. The medic was struggling with another dead man as it tried to stick its teeth into his shoulder. He managed to break free, turning and firing his rifle. The gun stuck though, and he panicked, lashing out with the weapon and knocking zombies down.
Wildman backed up against the other woman, loosing a shell at an on-coming zombie as she yelled, 'We're surrounded!'
'Where did they come from?!' Chapman yelled, smacking a female zombie in the face with the butt of his rifle and then firing as it fell. He paused before attacking again, his breath harsh and quick and his skin pale.
'This way!' Torres called, pointing to a door on their left. A zombie lurched into her path as they fought forward, but she quickly dispatched it and the team bundled into the room.
'Are you ready?' Kathryn asked.
'As I'll ever be,' the woman replied. She started the chainsaw and Hanson raised the hatchet she'd been given.
Keycard in one hand, axe in the other, Kathryn reached out for the door.
'Guys!' Paris yelled, pointing to a door in the back of the sparse room. The team could hear noise coming from behind it, and they leapt into action, aiming their weapons.
'Quiet!' Torres said, tossing him her shotgun and pulling both their pistols from their holsters. Suddenly the door was thrust open and a person quickly exited, a moving target of blonde and white.
Torres pulled the trigger.
Hanson swam back to consciousness slowly, pain swamping her as she became aware of her body and her surroundings.
'What were you thinking?!' Someone was shouting.
'Have you seen what's out there!' Someone else replied. 'She could have been a zombie!'
Hanson realised that she was lying horizontally, her head on someone's knees.
'But she wasn't! You should have waited!'
'You should have given us some warning!' The voices became discernible as female, and Hanson became aware of someone stroking her hair.
'What if it had been zombies in here? What would you have done, knocked and popped your head round the door? "Oh, excuse me Mr. Undead Killer, do you mind if we pass through? No? How kind!"' the first voice said sarcastically.
'Look, it was a mistake and no-one's seriously hurt, so why don't we all just calm down?' A male voice interjected.
'I agree,' a voice said, right above her head. 'Everyone's on edge.'
'Who are you three anyway? Those two look like scientists, what the hell are scientists doing in a country house in the middle of no-where?'
'That's not the issue,' the male voice said, 'we have to get out of here.'
She finally opened her eyes and a face swam into view directly above her. Her head was resting on Kathy's knees, but the other woman wasn't looking at her, instead looking off to her left at something else. She tried to sit and immediately felt hands help her.
'You're awake!' Kathryn said, helping her sit upright.
When she was sitting, she looked around the room. She saw a blonde haired woman leaning against the wall, a man slumped down by her feet idly scratching his leg and looking pale and another man who gave her a wide smile, which she hesitantly returned. Then she saw the two women who were arguing. One of them was the woman from the lift, the other was someone she didn't recognise with dark, almost black hair and caramel coloured skin. They were roughly the same height, and at that moment they were dangerously close to one another, getting right in each others face. The expressions they wore were strangely similar as they argued.
The other woman turned, ignoring her verbal sparring partner for a moment and looking at the scientist. 'I'm glad you're awake,' she said, the argumentative expression falling from her face and her chocolate brown eyes turning warm and sincere. Hanson looked into those eyes and for a moment forgot to acknowledge the apology.
'Thank you,' she stuttered, smiling slightly. 'What happened?'
'She shot you!' the other woman exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air.
'It was a mistake!'
'You're just some trigger happy soldier with meat for brains!' The first woman snapped. 'Shoot first, ask questions later!'
'What the fuck did you just call me??' The dark haired woman screeched, her anger seeming to reach new levels. 'At least I don't look like I clean toilets for a living!' She said, pointing at the other's overalls. 'At least I do something worth doing!'
'Right, that's it!' The woman almost threw her chainsaw down, undoing the front of her overalls down to her middle and tying the arms around her waist to reveal sun-bronzed arms, lean and strong. She was wearing a stained white vest that clung to her flat stomach. 'C'mon!'
She lunged forward and the other woman side-stepped, throwing off her protective jacket to reveal a tight-fitting green T. They were about to leap on each other and start fighting outright when Kathryn and the sandy blonde haired man stepped forward. Kathryn fought to get a grip on the woman's slick skin as the brunette wriggled like a fish in her grasp.
'This is neither the time nor the place!' She said as the man managed to grab the other woman. 'We have bigger things to worry about!'
'She's right boss!' The man said. As if on cue, the ever present moaning from the hallway outside increased, bringing all of them back to the situation at hand.
When he was sure they were not going to rip each other apart, the blonde man approached Hanson, a swagger in his step as if to say 'look what I did.' He knelt down next to her and gave her what she assumed he thought was a friendly smile.
'How are you feeling?' He asked, placing a hand on her knee
'Okay, I think,' she replied honestly. She did feel okay, apart from a stinging tightness that encompassed the upper half of her right arm.
'The bullet just grazed you,' he said. 'I was able to patch you up good as new.' He stuck out a hand that she reluctantly took.
'Tom Paris, lead field medic, S.T.A.R.S Delta team,' he said.
'Annika Hanson,' she said, gently taking her hand back from the leering man's clammy grip.
'Annika, that's an unusual and may I say, very pretty name,' he said.
Suddenly a hand grabbed his shoulder, hefting him upright. 'I hardly think this is time for hitting on pretty women, Paris,' the dark haired woman snarled.
He moved away, mumbling something under his breath and the woman watched him go. Then she turned back to the scientist, kneeling down like Paris had done moments before.
'I really am sorry,' she said, her voice low and meant for Hanson's ears only.
'I know. I believed you the first time,' Annika said, smiling slightly.
'I'm Lanna Torres, leader of S.T.A.R.S Delta team,' she said, offering her hand.
Hanson slipped her hand into the other woman's, marvelling at the feeling of warmth her skin gave off. She tightened her grip a little, feeling the calluses on Lanna's palm rub against the sensitive skin of her own. Wasn't she supposed to say something? Oh, yeah, her name.
'Annika Hanson, and that's Kathryn Janeway,' she said, pointing at Kathy. Looking up, she allowed her cornflower blue eyes to rest on Lanna's brown ones and felt the corners of her mouth turn upward as she caught Lanna's gaze resting on her lips. Feeling a blush colour her cheeks, she suddenly realised they weren't actually shaking hands, just holding them. She quickly started moving their hands up and down before anyone else noticed.
She looked up to see if anyone had and saw Kathryn watching the other woman, who was staring almost sulkily at the back of Lanna's head. Feeling eyes on her, Kathy looked around guiltily and found Hanson smiling at her.
Turning her gaze back to Lanna, Hanson's smile widened.
As soon as she'd pulled the trigger, Torres had known something wasn't right. She'd hit the woman's arm and blood had spurted out, spraying over the floor.
For a moment, everyone had frozen, and then an angry shout came from somewhere on the other side of the door. An irate looking woman wearing filthy green overalls and carrying, of all things, a chainsaw, had leapt through the door, rounding on the assembled team members.
A third woman had followed, her face pale as she saw her fallen companion. Paris had moved forward then, quickly tending to the woman she'd shot, who'd passed out from shock.
She'd looked at the woman's face as he'd worked, vaguely hearing Sam trying to calm down the chainsaw wielder, and couldn't believe what she'd done. The woman's face was…beautiful, with full lips and blonde hair that looked soft even though it was streaked with dirt.
Shaking her head, she dispelled those thoughts and suddenly found an irate brunette in her face. After the ensuing argument and near fistfight, she'd seen Paris sliming all over the blonde woman and she'd lost her already enflamed temper.
Once the rat was dealt with, she'd knelt down and apologised once more. The smile the blonde had given her was enough to dispel her anger at the lecherous medic completely, and she held out a hand.
'I'm Lanna Torres, leader of S.T.A.R.S Delta team,' she said.
The blonde had reached out and slipped her larger but more delicate hand into Lanna's, wrapping long fingers around the other woman's strong hand and squeezing slightly.
Lanna couldn't believe how soft the other woman's skin felt, and she let her gaze slide down to the blondes lips, wondering how soft they were when the other woman said her name. 'Annika Hanson, and that's Kathryn Janeway,' she said, pointing toward her companion.
Lanna realised the woman was looking at her and she ripped her eyes away from Annika's lips guiltily, feeling like she'd been caught…well, doing something Paris would have done. What's got into me? She thought.
Thankfully, Annika was smiling at her, her full lips parted slightly to reveal even white teeth. She couldn't help but return it as Annika started their hands moving up and down. They hadn't been doing that before?
She vaguely heard movement behind her as they continued to look at each, and voices filtered through her consciousness. Say something! Her brain supplied, At this rate she'd really is going to think you have meat for brains! The voice said as they continued to shake hands.
'I…' she said, but then a commotion from behind her made her turn around.
Chapman had collapsed.
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