The Virus

While we’re waiting for the results of my Necro and Effie poll, here’s a little something I decided to whip up: This story takes place while Necro and Effie are still on the run, between NG and TS. So far they have managed to stay one (sometimes 3) steps ahead of their pursuers but fate seems determined to send them running back into Gill’s waiting (but not so warm) arms.
I’ll be working on it and posting periodically as I complete each plot so be patient but lemme know how this story arc sound.

The Virus

The gunship passed overhead, its rotors a thundering sound of inevitable doom for the prey it was seeking. It shone its lights through the forest, illuminating everything in its path and ensuring that nothing went unnoticed. Inside, the pilot and crew scanned with infrared visors and ready trigger fingers; an insurmountable reward awaited them for accomplishing this task.

“Remember,” said the team leader, "Our orders are to shoot to kill, especially the Twelve Progenitor, otherwise known as NECRO.?

?What of the other one who deserted with him?? inquired his lieutenant.

?She?s expendable but don?t worry if we cannot kill her outright, tovarisch. According to the files, she?s already on borrowed time. Her usefulness to the G-Project ended long ago and Lord Gill was simply letting her live out her days. He was getting tired of her repeated escape attempts anyways, although if it weren’t for her most recent before this, we wouldn’t be in the position of obtaining high favor that we are in now. Trust me, if our bullets don’t kill her she will expire of her own accord."

Ever so briefly, the lieutenant balked at the idea of so harshly sentencing an innocent girl --whose only actual crime thus far was trying to lead what many would consider a normal confinement free life–to death. But then again, he thought, *she was just a sick orphan when we found her. * She was already doomed to die young. And she’d obviously chosen desertion over any chance to save her that Gill or any of Dr. Kure’s scientists might have offered had she remained loyal. She’s cast her lot, he decided and now she’ll just have to take what fate has to offer. Which admittedly wasn’t much given the circumstances–and the now condemned company that she’d aligned herself with.

Thinking once more of the proverbial bigger fish and of the honor that he and his crew would receive upon landing said fish, the Illuminati lieutenant hefted his gun and, smiling grimly to himself turned to readdress his superior. “So when does the fun begin?”

Interesting, but you need to space your paragraphs out, it hurts the eyes to read straight through like that.

Sorry about that, Gouki10. I just edited it so it should be a little easier and thanks for reading.

As the chopper circled ominously like a gigantic vulture, the girl in question pressed tightly against her companion, more for comfort than for any actual attempt not to be seen; the high LED light being emitted would have made Illia’s pallid skin shine like a diamond at high noon. It was all he and Effie could do to simply stay out of its path and as poor luck would have it, the forest had opened into a rather sizeable clearing. There were still enough trees and shrubs to provide adequate cover but not without having to shadow-hop. Nonetheless, Illia did his best to remain optimistic, at least for Effie’s sake if not his own.

“We’re halfway to the other side,” he said, “If we can can keep this up, we’ll lose them under cover in no time.”

"Yeah, ‘if’ being the key word,"Effie replied. “Just face it Illia, we’re screwed this time. We definitely can’t stay in one place out here, but each time we move from shadow to shadow we risk exposing ourselves.” Although I have to admit, she thought to herself, *those Shinobi skills Ibuki was nice enough to teach us are coming in quite handy. *

“Even if we manage to avoid being spotted from the air, our bio-signals are all over this place. What makes you think they’ll just fly away instead of landing and searching us out on foot?”

" I don’t," Illia admitted, “but we stand a better chance if we keep moving. Should push come to shove, we can always give 'em a few thousand volts to think about, da?”

“Riiiiiiiiiight. My friend, the walking, talking electric eel,” Effie allowed herself to quip, “O.k. I’m sold. Lead the way, Sparky.” Despite that Effie used the one nickname he’d told her he absolutely hated, Illia had to chuckle at that. Unfortunately the lightened mood did not last very long at all. Just as Illia and Effie made into the shadows of the next tree, the wandering light passed over them. It was only for a second that they could be seen but that was enough. Gunfire pierced the night and bullets shredded the bark from Illia and Effie’s hiding place. It was only a matter of time before flesh was next.

“I knew this wouldn’t work,” Effie wailed. But Illia didn’t even waste time responding; he already had one last trick up his cuff. In one fluid motion, he snatched Effie up, cocked his arm like a rubber band and snapped it forward. In a flash, he’d stretched it across the remainder of the clearing and into the forest, depositing Effie safely out of sight and for the moment, out of harm’s way.

Now to give those trigger-happy fools one very electrifying performance, Illia told himself. Grabbing two relatively high and sturdy tree branches, Illia pulled himself backwards, stretching both arms to their most considerable limits. When he could go no further, he took careful aim and snapped himself forward, literally flying toward the gunship at breakneck speed.

Effie picked herself out the shrub Illia had dropped her in. At first she was angry–she’d gotten scratched up and would be picking twigs out of her hair for at least the rest of the night–but that quickly subsided. I could have bulletholes instead of twigs and scrapes, if not for Illia’s quick thinking. For that matter, where is ol’ Rubber Band Man? She looked around and froze in stark terror as she scanned the sky.

“Illiaaaaaaaaaa,” she screamed “Nooooooooooooo!” …

As the soldiers in the gunship fired away, their rifle muzzles blazing in the night sky, no one noticed a strange, streamlined figure gliding effortlessly towards them. Even if they had been paying more attention, they would not have noticed Illia, who had actually stretched his entire body out until it was barely discernible in the dark. Reaching out, he managed to grab hold of one of the rear wheels and haul himself up onto the back of the copter. He avoided the spinning rotors and being blown off with relative ease by staying close to the hull and worked his way to the front end. He considered lowering himself inside and either electrocuting the soldiers or tossing them out but decided against it for two reasons: (1) the soldiers would obviously be wearing shock-proofed gear and armor and (2) fast as he was, he didn’t think now was a good time to match that speed agaisnt a hail of bullets.

Instead, Illia decided to take everything out at once and began unleashing EMP waves into the chopper. In short time, he was able to completely cripple the bird, stopping its engines and rotors cold. The soldiers aboard the chopper never knew what hit them. One minute they were scanning the ground for the two fugitive mutants, the next minute they were watching in dumbfounded horror as that very ground came rushing up to meet them.

Effie saw the chopper plummet to earth with Illia still clinging on for dear life. She knew there was no way he’d survive the crash, even with his powers, yet she was powerless to do anything, except pray for a miracle that would somehow deliver him out of danger as he had just done for her.

Miracles seemed to be in no dwindling supply tonight. Illia had mamnaged to ride the chopper down until it was literally 50 feet from the ground. How he managed to time himself, even he could not say but he knew exactly when to jump, hurling himself at least 60 yards away from the falling chopper and landing with no harm done. Brushing himself off, he surveyed the crash for any survivors; the chopper hadn’t exploded. Just as he was satisfying himself that the threat was over and had turned to rejoin Effie, something thrust itself into the back of his head, something metal.
“Don’t move a muscle, freak!”

Cockraoches, Illia thought sourly,you flush the whole nest down the toilet but one always manages to crawl back up the bowl. Obviously, a good frying was in order, but the soldier holding the Makarov to his skull would still be able to get off a fatal point-blank shot.

“Your little EMP stunt on the chopper cost some good men their lives. That makes this personal,” the irate soldier spat; from the markings and decorations on his now tattered uniform, he must have been the commanding officer in this latest mission. “Now tell me where your little wannabe gothic girlfriend is hiding. I want her to watch me kill you slow, just like you forced me to watch my men die!” Of course, he might as well have talking to thin air. Illia’s only response was “Go rot somewhere,”; he was really hating not being able to fry this pansy jerk.

*At least Effie will get a chance at freedom, I did that much. * Illia heard the hammer of the gun cock and knew that these were his last thoughts and his last moments. Strangely, despite what he’d been told in the past, his life did not flash before his eyes. That was just as well, given the horrors he’d experienced since he was first “recruited” for the G-Project. Even stranger, though, was that the soldier seemed to taking a long time to fire.

The soldier smiled grimly as he squeezed the trigger. He was so intent on revenge that he barely registered a red, spike-gloved fist hurtling towards him from out of nowhere until it struck him dead-on, laying him out cold.

Illia finally looked around and saw Effie standing where the soldier had been only moments before, staring back at him. Illia could have kissed her right then except that she looked as if she wanted to deal the same treatment–if not worse–to him that she’d given his would-be murderer! * Not only that*, he thought, But there seems to be something strange about her eyes. He couldn’t tell exactly what, however, but they seemed different, darker and more sunken than usual…

“You big jerk!!!” Effie’s screeching shook Illia from his musings. “Were you *trying *to get yourself killed after I nearly got myself blown up saving your sorry tail? Or maybe you just get your kicks out of scaring me half to death, huh?!?!” “Um, in case you weren’t paying attention, we were kinda second away from being turned into Swiss cheese back there,” Illia tried to reason, " I had to do something." But Effie refused to be placated. “Well the next time you want to go play Super Hero with the Illuminati, do me a favor and DON’T!” Then in a less angry but still desparate tone, “Illia, I thought I was going to have to watch you get shot or crushed to death or something. Don’t you realize that if something happens to you, I’ll be all alone again? Just like before, when I was being…”

She went silent and sank to the ground, hugging her knees to her chest as she began to sob. The memories of her early childhood, of her being sick, alone, and largely unwanted by anybody came back to her in a rush. Following that came her painful first experiences within the Illuminati, and finally, the horros of the G-Project with its cruel, almost inhumane scientists, the nightmarish experiments and treatments she’d been forced to undergo daily…

“Effie, I said I’m sorry,” She heard Illia’s voice as if it were coming from somewhere distant, nothing more than a dreamy echo at first. Then it became clearer and only then did she register him crouching in front of her, his hand gently caressing her forehead. “No Illia, it’s O.K. YOu did what you felt you had to, to protect us, to protect me and I am thankful for that,” Effie sniffled, " I just don’t want to lose you, to be by myself anymore. The thought of it always brings back those terrible memories. It is too scary for me."

The tension having dissolved for now, Illia went back to his original thoughts before the tirade, concerning Effie’s sudden change in appearance. Her eyes, he remembered. “Effie look at me.” When she did, he nothing of what he had detected in them, save for their being slightly puffy from Effie’s crying. Yet Illia knew he had seen something and that he would have to keep his own eyes on her condition; there was no telling what those Illuminati crackpots had done to her or inserted into her system. For now though, his comfort was what she needed most and the both of them needed to put some distance between themselves and the crash site. Gill’s forces weren’t just going to let them off the hook because of the loss of one unit; more likely they’d be tracking them with a serious vengeance one they found out. Putting an arm around Effie, he coaxed her to her feet and suggested they keep moving.

Illia?s suspicions were correct. Sometime after they had vacated the immediate vicinity, the soldier Effie had knocked cold—they had forgotten about him—came to. His first thought was tracking the two renegades down but he was in no condition to exert himself in doing so. Instead, he limped back to the downed copter and dislodged the backup radio; it was not connected to the copter?s wiring, had its own battery produced power source, and was encased in the same shock proof plastic worn in their body armor so the EMP?s shouldn?t have affected it.

As he removed it, he saw the bodies of his men, mangled and torn, all at the hands of an aberration who owed his very powers and abilities to their organization. Fury and hatred swelled within him once more. He flicked the radio on, saw that it was indeed in good working condition, and proceeded to transmit his name, rank, and current coordinates. Sure enough, his master?s ominous voice answered??I trust you have good tidings for me.?

Predictably, Gill was far less than pleased to hear any of the news. According to Head Commander Yuri Prozkov, the unit he had dispatched to find and deal with Necro and the young female subject, supposedly his best unit, had failed miserably. The chopper was a total loss and all but the man he now conversed with had met their doom. What truly infuriated him, however, was what, according to Prozkov, occurred next.

?You mean to tell me that you, my highest ranking officer next only to Kolin and myself, had Necro in your sights, at point blank range no less, and you were stopped from finishing him by a sickly little girl?!? he thundered.

?Fool, your ineptitude surpasses that of even my brother?s. I thought you were a prime example of our organization?s creed for strength, a perfect specimen. Perhaps I was mistaken.? Prozkov did not even bother trying to argue, apologize, or even grovel?all three were considered further signs of weakness, or not holding oneself accountable for their own failure. Regardless, he knew what would come next, that which all Illuminati considered the worst punishment for any offense.

?Head Commander Yuri Mikhail Prozkov, or perhaps I should say former Head Commander, you have proven yourself weak, useless, unfit and unworthy of the Illuminati?s goals and blessings. You are hereby banished, forbidden ever to return to Ultania or to have any further associations with our society. Only your faithful, loyal service protects you from the same punishment which has been decreed upon Necro.

You will not be marked for death outright but hear me well, you are now considered an untouchable outsider. As such, any attempt to reintegrate yourself within the Illuminati will be dealt with accordingly. Now, be gone dog!!!?

For Prozkov, this final rebuke was a fate even worse than death itself; at least that would have been a quick and possibly honorable end to the suffering he now felt. Instead, he was to wander the Earth among those he himself considered unworthy of its riches and the blessings that Gill had planned for the future.

*My men died in shame and I?m now all alone in the world *he thought bitterly, and it’s all thanks to that freakish renegade who doesn?t even know how to appreciate his own blessings. Darkness, rage, and revenge clouded his mind and heart?these were now his only motivations for living. In those moments, Yuri Prozkov swore that he would not rest until his robbed honor had been avenged with Necro?s blood.

When they reached what seemed to be a safe distance from the crash site, Illia decided they should rest and conserve their strength; by this time tomorrow, he was certain these woods would be crawling with Illuminati soldiers, tracing their fading bio-signs. For now though, they should be fine. ?O.K. Effie. Looks like we?ll be able to spend the night here until first light. Be a dear and look for some tinder so I can get a small fire started would you?? Effie didn?t answer him at first and Illia almost had to yell and shake her to get a response. ?Huh? Oh, tinder, firewood. Sorry Illia, must be tired from all of that hiking.? She rose to her feet and set off, with Illia shaking his head in confusion.

*She?s been acting strangely ever since that encounter with the soldier *he realized. He hadn?t forgotten what he saw in her eye either. It was just that he?d been so focused on getting them to safety that he had not thought to stop and check her condition. Not even when she seemed to be stumbling and falling over every pebble and twig in the woods. Illia had to help her to her feet at least ten times during the hike. He?d definitely make sure he gave her a thorough check over when she returned.

Effie was ambling through the woods when the first painful wave hit her like a punch to her entire body. She clutched her gut and stared wildly about in confusion. The pain passed as quickly as it came and she chalked it up to some berries she had eaten earlier that day?some of them had looked rotten but she?d been so hungry she thought nothing of it. Then the pains came again, stronger this time, as if some invisible hand or vise had her in its iron grip and was determined to torture her by squeezing just enough to make her hurt without breaking her completely.

At the same time, it seemed as if every muscle and joint in her body was ripping loose from her bones and tying itself into knots. Head to toe, her skin was on fire, feeling as though someone had doused her in something flammable and thrown a match onto her. Her insides seemed to just want to burst out of her body altogether. She convulsed as yet another painful spasm hit her, forcing her to cough. Through a vision reddened with agony, she could barely discern that there was blood in her spittle. She remained doubled up on the ground for what seemed to be eternity. Finally, the pain let up, just enough for her to get up and hobble painfully in the direction of the campsite. Her one regret, surprisingly, was that she hadn?t been able to do what Illia had asked her. He?s gonna be awful sore at me not finding any firewood.

It took seemingly forever for Effie to return. Illia was about to go looking for her when he heard something stumbling about in the brush. Sure enough, it was Effie but when Illia went to her, his eyes widened with horror. Effie?s skin had taken on a yellow, almost jaundiced palor. Her grimaced lips were swollen and purple and there was a dribble of?.blood?..streaming from one corner. Veins crisscrossed her once smooth face and skin like spider webs. And her eyes, normally they were a hypnotic lulling baby blue rimmed slightly with lavender shades on the lower lids. Now they looked as if she?d been repeatedly punched by someone trying to see how much they could be blackened without actually putting them all the way out.

What really broke Illia?s heart were the words Effie gurgled to him through her swollen, barely moveable lips. ?I?m sorry I couldn?t ?..get?.firewood?.Illiaaaa?..pleeeeeese?..don?t be angreeeeeeeeeeee?.? Her voice trailed off, her head lolled back into unconsciousness. Her body went limp and had he not been able to sense her faint pulse thanks to his electromagnetic abilities, Illia would have sworn she?d died right then. She wasn?t breathing however, and her he knew her heart was dangerously close to stopping.

?Effie, precious, don’t do this to me,? he half screamed, half choked. ?Please no, not now. You’ve got to hang on. I’ll find a way to fix this, I promise but don’t you dare die on me.? His mind raced frantically and he first performed rescue brething, then CPR. Neither worked and he thought of only one solution that might keep her alive or?.. kill her. Pulling the top of her dress down to expose her sternum, he rubbed his hands together to generate a sufficient charge and saying a quick but sincere prayer, touched his fingertips to her chest, letting the current flow through her body and to her heart. Nothing. He tried again, and got a better result. He heart fluttered, and then regulated itself and her breathing became slightly stronger.

But she wasn?t out of the woods until he could figure out what was wrong with her. Tears streaming down his face, he tried to think of what to do next. They were miles away from the nearest hospital. The downed chopper crossed his mind. It was, after all, a military style vehicle and as such, it might have triage supplies and medical equipment that could keep her stable. It would put them back in danger but it was his only option.

Sometime later, Illia arrived at the site with the barely conscious Effie in his arms. Despite the crash, much of the chopper?s hull was intact and that gave Illia hope that the med supplies were still in good shape. There was also no sign of the soldier that they had encountered?he wasn?t sure that was entirely a good thing but right now he had more pressing matters to attend to. Setting Effie down outside the chopper, he stepped inside?and immediately found himself face to face with a very familiar Makarov muzzle help by a very familiar person?
Illia didn’t even permit Commander Prozkov enough to fire a witty remark, let alone a bullet. The man was standing between him and the supplies he needed to help Effie and anyone who knew Necro knew that when you were between him and something he wanted you only had as long as it took for him to utter these words before you got the most electrifying beating of your life, “Outta my way…”

Like a striking rattlesnake, Illia?s arm snapped out. It hooked itself around Prozkov?s right ankle and then jerked back in the opposite direction, sending the man flying into the now defunct cockpit of the gunship. As if he didn?t even feel the blow, Prozkov jumped back to his feet and charged. He didn?t have his gun, this time, but that wasn?t going to stop him. He was determined to make Illia pay for the grief he?d caused even if he had to use his bare hands. And sure enough, he came and Illia all fists and feet, at a speed that Illia was certain no normal human was even remotely capable of. They?ve begun to mutate him, the same way they did to me, Illia realized. Apparently, being the head commander entitled you to that perk with the added benefit of still looking human.

The two combatants traded punch for punch, kick for kick. Every time Illia thought he saw an opening, Prozkov was right there to counter his strikes. Before long, Illia was on the defensive, and after the physical and emotional toll of the night?s events, he was beginning to tire. A right cross zipped past his face, missing by mere centimeters. He tried to weave out of the way but a rock hard knee always jammed into his side, just above the solar plexus, making sure he could not go anywhere.

This was the worst fight of any kind for Illia. Despite his training and abilities, close quarters were not his best. He was a distance fighter, and needed adequate room to bring his extendable limbs into play or give himself enough time to fully electrify himself, making his body untouchable. Unfortunately, Prozkov did not seem at all inclined to give him that room or that time and soon was raining blows upon his opponent almost faster than illia could block. Finally backing Illia against the wall, the soldier managed to get the mutant in a tight headlock, attempting to cut off his air supply while steadily pounding away at Illia with his free hand. ?I had everything worked out,? Prozkov bellowed, ?my honor, my favor with Gill, and you have ruined it.? Illia would have loved to explain to this blind idiot that there was no favor with Gill, that the egotistical despot only used who and what he considered to be useful and then eliminated them once he was sure that there usefulness had been outlived. But with Effie?s life on the line, that notion was somewhat irrelevant. You?ve had this coming for some time, pal, he thought, and then summoning every ounce of physical strength and every volt of the internal current that surged through his body, he let loose an electrical field that would have shorted out an entire city block.

Prozkov was thrown yet again, this time he went straight through the chopper?s busted windshield and into the bushes beyond. If he was still alive, he probably wouldn?t be getting up for the next 24 hours. Illia gasped for air; his neck was one of the most vulnerable parts of him, even with the huge metal plate surrounding it. An enemy who knew what they were doing could aim with deadly precision for his the soft spot between his throat and chin and wind him long enough to do serious, if not mortal, damage. Nonetheless, he remembered his objective and headed for the medical supplies.

There was a gurney and equipment for rigging a triage tent, complete with antibiotic drip bags and syringes. Illia remembered that Dr. Kure had once stated these antibiotics were supposedly the strongest of any ever synthesized. Not only would they cure almost any bacterial or viral disease, but they automatically vaccinated the patient against the very same ailments. Sort of like a living, evolving, symbiotic type of medicine. The technical details aside, Illia was sure this could at least stabilize Effie, if not make her completely well. Illia returned outside with the materials and set them up, placing Effie comfortably onto the gurney and covering her with a blanket. As he went back inside the chopper for the antibiotics, he noticed a small black object on the floor. Picking it up and examining it, he found it to be Prozkov?s wallet. Good, thought Illia,* Might as well have some cash to show for our troubles*. But what was inside the wallet was not any kind of spendable currency, although Illia wagered that it was extremely valuable to its owner. It was a photograph of Prozkov, a young woman who might have at one time been his wife, and who was that little girl Prozkov held in his arms. Illia took a closer look and his eyes widened with shock and confusion. No, he mused, it couldn?t possibly be her??.

Who is the mystery girl? And why is Illia able to recognize her? And will Efiie be able to be saved? Find out in the next exciting segment of ?The Virus?

Illia was still staring in disbelief at the photograph in his hands when the agonizing scream rent his ears. On the ground where she?d been laid, Effie writhed in what could be nothing less than excruciating pain. Whatever she was infected with, it must have been doing serious damage to her nervous system, if not her internals as well. All other thoughts aside, Illia raced to her and tried to calm her. ?Illia!? she wailed, ?Illiaaaaaa, don?t leave me, don?t leave meeeeeeeee!? Make that excruciating pain and stark raving hysterics, Illia thought darkly. Then to her, ?Effie, I?m not going anywhere. I?m right here. Please calm down, precious. I?m here.? But it was as if she didn?t hear him or register him cradling her in his arms. In fact, she wriggled against him as if in some feared enemy?s grasped, all the while howling progressively louder and Illia was actually tempted to shock her into unconsciousness to prevent her injuring herself or him. It seemed an eternity before she finally stopped altogether and went limp. Illia checked her pulse, still there. He then decided to strap her down to the gurney right then. Once he?d made sure she was secure and could do no harm to herself or to him in case of any more throes, he gently caressed her face and lowered his head to hers.

?Oh Effie,? he whispered quietly, ?I don?t know what has happened to you or why but I promise, I?ll do everything in my power to make you well again.? And if the Illuminati are responsible for this, there?ll be the Devil and his entire legion to pay. Right then Effie stirred. Illia braced himself for another scene, but she simply gazed up at him and then at her surroundings, noting that she was now strapped down and could not move. ?Illia, what happened. Did I do something terrible? Why have you got me strapped like this?? She strated to struggle but Illia laid his hand on hers and she calmed herself. ?You were screaming and thrashing around from that sickness you seem to have contracted, Illia replied. ?I had to do that to keep you from hurting yourself.? ?I, I can?t remember, but if I did all of that then I?m sorry. All I remember is you telling me to get firewood and then my stomach started hurting and?and then?.?

?Hush, love,? Illia soothed, ?You?ve been through a lot and it doesn?t look like it will end anytime soon. Right now I have to get you stabilized so at least whatever?s ailing you won?t be as strong.?

He came back outside with the drip bag and taking note of Effie?s queasy expression (as if she could have looked any worse) stated, ?I know you hate needles after what we?ve had to go through Eff. Shoot, I?m not too fond of them either, but we have to get you well again, at least so that you won?t get any worse.?

?Illia before you do that, I do remember having this dream?a nightmare really.?

?Oh yeah?? Illia queried, ?Tell me about it while prep this up. It?ll help take your mind off of the injection, for a while anyway.?