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Trapped in an Iron Grip

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"Long ago, a young girl went with her mother to pick berries for her father who was hard at work. But the forest greeted them with a dark, cold silence, the bushes empty. Yet, determined to find the berries, the rascal broke free from Mother's grasp and vanished into the trees.

"Mother's worried cries faded fast as the girl ran on; over vine, and under branch and into the forest deep. Feeling strange eyes upon her, the girl recalled Mother's scary bedtime tales and her throat became bone dry. Then, the Bat Lord appeared! He greeted her warmly and bit his own wing.

"'Come, child. Quench your thirst,' he said. So she drank the thick, dark blood and smiled with joy.

"Passing through a graveyard, menacing storm clouds loomed and the air turned bitingly cold. The girl was shivering in her thin clothes. Then a Dark Weaver appeared, and with a click of his fingers, crafted mist into a beautiful dress.

"'Come, child, warm yourself,' he coaxed. So she clothed herself and smiled with joy.

"Across waters deep and ominous she went, hoping a boat she found would carry her home. But hunger's grip tightened and her heart grew heavy. Then the Fish King appeared and offered one of his many fins.

"'Come, child. Eat your fill.' So the girl ate and smiled with joy once more.

"Continuing on, she soon entered the forest's dark heart. Then an Iron Steed appeared, bearing a beautiful, golden gear. The creature said nothing as the girl approached... and snatched what she thought was another gift.

"The horse grew angry and summoned the other monsters.

"Terror filled the girl's heart as a wild wind rose about the beasts. Suddenly, a witch appeared- dark, yet regal.

"'Gifts we gave, but more you took,' she snarled. 'So more, in turn, is due.'

"In a blink, the girl was trapped inside a mirror...

"...There, she's asleep," Mia whispered, closing the storybook.

You look at your sister wide-eyed. "No thanks to that story."

"Yeah, what is with the creepy story? She's only six months old," Ethan sighed, slightly amused and uncomfortable.

Mia shook her head and smiled. "Woman at the store said it was traditional." She handed the book over to Ethan. "A local tale. Besides, Rose doesn't seem to mind."

"Because she doesn't understand it," you rolled your eyes at your older sister.

"Thank God," Ethan said under his breath. "We moved here so she wouldn't have to deal with any of that, remember?"

"There is nothing wrong with my memory," Mia snapped, sounding defensive. Almost as if she flipped a switch, Mia's small smile reappears. "You're just being paranoid. Both of you."

That was weird, you thought as Mia tried to reassure you and Ethan. Ethan didn't seem too convinced either.

"It's not-" Mia cut Ethan off with a small movement, as if to warn him, "never mind, I'm sorry. But I'm not paranoid, I'm just cautious."

"Then, go cautiously take your daughter to bed," Mia teases Ethan as she hands him Rose, "I'll finish diner."

You all stood up and Mia turned around to go into the kitchen. You turned to Ethan with a concerned look on your face.

"That was a little out of character for her," you whispered to Ethan when you heard Mia busy at work. "I'm a little concerned."

Ethan shook his head, keeping his eyes trained on his daughter. "She's been acting a little different since Rose was born. It's just a little post-partum stress."

You looked at Ethan as he turned to go upstairs and put Rose to bed.

'Post-partum stress' my ass. You thought as you watch Ethan climb the stairs. Yeah, she was a little on edge the first two months, but this is a new height. 

You've slowly noticed something different about your older sister since New Year. She's been easier to anger and extremely defensive about certain topics. Topics such as her memory, anything involving Rose's care, and anyone outside of this little home. Not only that but Mia just sounded different, like her entire voice just changed overnight.

"Hey, Mia?" you called into the kitchen.

"Yes?"

"Do you need any help? At all?"

You heard Mia laugh from the kitchen before she spoke.

"Need to keep your hands busy, huh?"

You smiled and walked into the kitchen area. "Yeah, you know me, can't sit still to save my life."

Mia giggled, not turning away from the soup she's working on. "I'm almost done with the food, could you please set the table?"

"You got it," you said with a mock salute that you so often see Chris do. 

You quickly went to the cupboards and grabbed three plates and three wine glasses. You placed the wine glasses on the island before opening a drawer to pull out some forks and knives. 

"Wait," Mia stopped you from turning to the dining area, "leave the plates here, for now, I can plate most of the food."

You nodded and put the plates on the island, separating them while Mia went to grab the food she could plate. 

You turned around and grabbed some bowls when you spotted the boiling soup, placing those bowls on the island as well.

Now or never, you thought to yourself. "Hey, Mia?"

Mia hummed her acknowledgment.

"...Are you okay?" you asked carefully. "You've been a little off since New Year and I'm a little worried."

Mia paused for a moment before she continued to plate the food. "I have been? How so?"

Here we go. "You just seem a little more on edge than usual, which is warranted from the whole incident in Louisiana-"

"Don't talk about that," Mia snaps, practically throwing the food onto one of the plates.

"That," you pointed out, not even flinching at her outburst, "that is what I'm worried about. You are constantly on edge and, with what you've been through, I can understand. But why now, why like this? It's been three years and you act as it happened a month ago." 

By now, Mia finished plating most of the food and you went to grab one of the plates, carrying the cutlery in your other hand.

"Something isn't right and I don't know what you're going through right now but I want to help and so does Ethan," you continued before Mia could stop you, setting the first spot at the table. "We may be insufferable, but we're still your family so, please, let us help you."

"You aren't..." Mia said under her breath, but you didn't hear it as you grabbed the other two plates and putting them where they belong.

Mia grabbed the pot of soup from the stove just as Ethan walked into the kitchen.

"Is she okay?" Mia asked Ethan, placing the pot on the island.

Ethan rubbed the back of his neck. "Sleeping like a... well, like a baby."

Both you and Mia let out a small laugh as Mia began filling the bowls on the island.

Ethan sniffed the air and his face broke out into a smile. "Mm, that smells good," he sighed and reached for the soup. "What is that?"

Mia playfully hit his hand away from the pot with the ladle. "Hands off, mister. It's ciorba de lagume. It's a local recipe," she explained.

You rolled your eyes as you grabbed two of the bowls and Mia grabbed the last one, taking the bottle of wine with her too.

"Wow. You've gone full native, haven't you?" Ethan sighed and grabbed the wine glasses, giving you a thoughtful look. All you did was shrug.

"Local wine, too," Mia teased, "But if you two are going to keep sulking all evening, maybe you shouldn't have any." Mia's tone darkened and you let out a small shiver.

You all placed the items you were holding down in their respective places at the table and Mia started to open the wine.

"You really have to stop worrying," Mia sighed, sounding a little annoyed. To whom she was referring to, you had no idea.

"You can't really expect us not to worry, Mia," you said quietly.

Ethan nodded. "It's just... Finding you in Louisiana, the pregnancy, Chris moving us here, military training- It all happened so fast, you know?"

"Really fast," you agreed.

Mia only rolled her eyes and started to get a little defensive. "Well, at least we're all together."

"Mia, sometimes that's just not enough," you said slowly, trying not to agitate her more than she already is.

Mia ignored you and continued on her spiel starting by saying your name, "you, me, Rose. Now everything is going to be-"

"Seriously?" Ethan interrupted Mia and her once faulty, blissful look fades and annoyance takes its place. "You think that we can just forget what happened in Louisiana?"

You elected to stay silent and will hop in when needed. It's best to let them work this out. After all, you were nowhere near Louisiana now.

You only got a small summary from a co-worker, and friend, of both Ethan and Mia. You and Chris Redfield became friends very quickly and bonded over your different fighting styles. You sticking more with MMA and him focusing on Boxing, you gave each other tips to help out on the field or in the ring.

When you first met Chris, he was telling you what happened to your previously missing sister and her husband. He gave you a summary and you immediately asked where they were so you could see them again and help them through whatever they were going through. Chris informed you that they were in an undisclosed location and that you should keep living your life. You told him to fuck himself and said that your sister needed you. Chris quickly handed you a burner phone and said that it had two contacts in it; Mia's and his. He told you that the burner is how you'll communicate with your sister and him for the foreseeable future. You sucked it up, just thankful that your sister and your brother-in-law were safe. It wasn't until Ethan called you and Chris in a panic, informing you that Mia was pregnant when you were finally able to see them if only to help with the pregnancy and the first year of the kiddo's life.

"It happened so long ago. I just- I don't understand why you are so-" Mia tried to argue but couldn't get the right words out but was soon cut off by a bullet to her shoulder.

"Mia!" You shouted as she stares at the wound.

"Wha-?!" Ethan had a bewildered look on his face as he just stares at Mia.

Mia looks up as if she wasn't affected by it. She stood tall and looked forward, almost curiously.

Ethan finally realized that something wasn't right and he turned to Mia.

"Mia, get down!"

The lights went out and you look around in a slight panic, still trying to process that your sister took a bullet to the shoulder and barely even flinched. Someone cut the power.

From behind you, bullets rained straight into Mia and you ducked down, screaming. One of them just glazed your right shoulder.

"MIA!" Both you and Ethan shout as Mia falls forward onto the table before another onslaught of bullets rains from your left.

"Ow," you cursed before looking under the table, "Ethan, are you okay?" Your voice shook as you tried to stay calm.

Ethan didn't respond as a few more bullets broke the light and made the side table fall over.

"Mia. Oh, God..." Ethan looked at his wife's body in pure horror. It's at this time that you finally register that Mia is on the floor filled with enough bullet holes to resemble Swiss Cheese. 

"No," you felt tears prick your eyes as you crawled over to her body, "NO!" you screamed.

Tears fell from your eyes as you clutched your sister's body, whispering prayers that this is just a dream. You don't hear the heavy set of footsteps coming up behind you.

"Chris...?! What the Hell?!" Ethan shouted at Chris as he turned to your shaking body, still holding on to her.

"Sorry, you two," Chris' tone was flat as he ripped you away from Mia's body and filled her head with another round of bullets.

Chris held you back by your shirt as you started screaming and cursing him.

"What?! Why?!" Ethan angrily shouted at Chris, still sitting on the floor.

Ethan heard glass break and turned. He was met with the barrel of a gun. You, on the other hand, didn't hear anything. You were too busy screaming and crying, trying to hurt Chris in any way you could. You managed to get a good hit to his knee before feeling the barrel of a gun on the back of your head.

Chris let go of you and started speaking into his walkie-talkie, but you paid no mind to him or the person behind you. You just stared at Mia's lifeless body, tears ran down your cheeks and sobs came out of your throat.

Eventually, the soldier behind you pulled you up to your feet and walked you to the front hall, passing by Mia's body along the way. How crueler can they get?

You and Ethan both pause at the entry hall, staring Chris down.

"Go on, move!" One of the soldiers pushed both you and Ethan forward, causing you to stumble.

"Shut the fuck up," you hissed at the man.

Both you and Ethan started taking slow steps forward when you heard a baby crying.

Another soldier walked down the stairs carrying something. No, not something. Someone.

"Rose?" Ethan shouted and ran forward, you quickly followed. "What the hell are you doing with my daughter?" Ethan glared at Chris and the soldiers with nothing but fury in his voice.

The soldier carrying Rose held her out to Chris. "Package secured, sir."

Chris took Rose in his arms and paid no mind to you or Ethan. Your wrath boiled over your grief and you started to shout at him.

"What. The. Fuck, Chris?!" You yelled, wanting to jump at him but knowing you'll get shot. "First you kill Mia and now you're taking Rose away?! What is happening? Why are you doing this?!"

Chris looked up, but he wasn't looking at either you or Ethan, he was looking past you.

"Take them away," was all Chris said before he turned to the door, a crying Rose in hand.

Ethan lunged at Chris before a soldier could get their hands on him. "I said get your hands off her!" Ethan shouted, grabbing Chris' arm, venom seeping from his voice.

"Ethan, no!" Chris said sternly as if talking to a misbehaving puppy.

Ethan let go of Chris, slightly taken aback when he caught the slightest movement in his peripheral vision. A soldier was raiding the blunt end of his gun at Ethan. Ethan didn't have time to move away before his world when black from the impact.

"No! Ethan!" you shouted, struggling against the soldier currently holding you back.

You heard Ethan mutter a quiet "Rose" before Chris told the soldiers to get him out of the house.

You watched as the soldiers pulled Ethan out the door by his legs. Just as Ethan crossed the threshold, you attacked. 

You stomped down onto the foot of the soldier that was holding you and kicked him in his knee, loosening his grip on you. 

Without missing a beat, you lunge at Chris, adamant about getting a good shot in or taking Rose away from him. Unfortunately for you, Chris knew you and he knew that you would do that. 

Chris sidestepped away and you stumble before quickly regaining your balance and kicking him in the stomach. Chris let out a grunt and signaled for someone to knock you out. 

Your attacker was successful, they were able to get a good hit to the back of your head.

"Fuck you, Chris," you whisper before your vision went black.

"Get her out of here too," Chris ordered, staring at your unconscious body, "and make sure Miranda goes with them."

"Are you sure, sir?" One of the soldiers asked him. "Should we really put Miranda's body with them?"

Chris handed Rose over to the soldier and motioned towards the car that your and Ethan's bodies are being loaded into. "Yes, I'm sure. Not much a corpse can do to them, is there?" The soldier shook his head and went to the vehicle. 

"Put Miranda in a body bag, don't want them waking up to that sight," Chris sighed to one of the passing soldiers.

The soldier let out a quick 'yes, sir' before running to grab a body bag from one of the equipment vehicles.

Stage one is done, Chris thought to himself as he walked to his own car. Next; find that damn Megamycete.