The driver side door swung open, revealing Mallory with his arm outstretched, his head still swallowed by the now deflating airbag. Remmy moved his aside, opened his door, and fell out, tumbling on the pavement. Still disoriented from the impact, he slowly rose to his feet and groaned. Meanwhile, Maggie lifted her head in pain as blood trickled from her temple.
"What was that?" Maggie asked groggily.
Rebecca soon raised her head, rubbing the back of her neck in pain, while Diana moved her shaking hands towards the nearest car door. The sound of the car beeping annoyed her more than her now aching back. So, she opened the door and hopped out of the vehicle as the pain in her back multiplied.
"Everyone OK?" Remmy asked, lying against the front passenger car window. The only response he got was two "yeah"s and one "ow." Mallory crashed himself onto the pavement from his seat, still perplexed from the crash.
"I think we just hit an oversized road block," Mallory quipped weakly.
Remmy stumbled to the front of the car to see what had hit them in the first place. He took a couple of steps and raised his head to see what looked like a massive figure lying on the ground about five feet away.
"Oh my God...," Remmy said, his curiosity getting the better of him as he hobbled to the figure.
Mallory stood up and hobbled to the front of the SUV to survey the damage. The front central section of the hood was smashed, and the front bumper was totally damaged, but Mallory concluded that it was still drivable.
"What the hell did I just hit?" he asked himself.
Diana stumbled herself to a fire hydrant on a nearby curb and threw up, the river of undigested food and bile flowing on the structure and pavement. The slide turned out to be a ride of non-stop torment for her. Much, much worse than Purgatory in her opinion.
"You shouldnít bitch, girl," she kicked herself mentally. "This is your creation. Your world. Enjoy it while it lasts."
Diana wiped her brow and coughed up the rest of the unsettling liquid.
Remmy was stunned at what he came across. The nude figure that was lying near his feet looked VERY human-like, its face containing a stone-cold expression, devoid of any emotions. It had the appearance of a heavy, muscular male but didnít display any outer sexual organs. Its skin was unnaturally pale, except for its chest muscles, which displayed exposed dead tissue. Remmy's eyes wandered to the creatureís right arm, or what was left of it. It contained a massive stub, lined with spikes.
Remmy turned around and saw Rebecca, looking horrified.
"Rebecca...," Remmy started speaking.
"Whatís a Tyrant doing here!?"
"Tyrant? Is that what this is?"
Rebecca grew frightened. "Letís just get the hell out of here."
"Wait, this doesnít make..."
"We need to leave!"
"Letís just go!!!"
Rebecca grabbed Remmyís hand in a panic and starting dashing for the Explorer. As the pair was running, the creatureís foot twitched.
"Are you alright?" Maggie asked, laying a band-aid on her forehead as Diana sat beside her. "You look like hell."
"Well, when in Rome...," Diana responded, staring blankly at the driverís headrest.
"Sorry, I shouldnít have said that," Maggie said, kicking herself.
"Itís OK. Really."
Maggie took a peek out the window and saw Rebecca grabbing Remmyís hand.
"You know," Diana sighed, "I should be the one apologizing."
Maggie glanced back at her, showing a look of concern. "Apologize for what?"
At that moment, Mallory hopped back onto the driverís seat and started searching for the ignition wires.
"Well, we have a big dent, but at least the tires arenít blown out and the engine is still intact, which means we can still make it to our destination. Now, is everyone..."
The front passenger door swung open, and Rebecca hopped on the seat.
"Drive!" she ordered as Remmy sat in the back.
"Give me a minute," Mallory retorted as he touched the two wires together, bringing the SUV to life. "Whatís wrong?"
"What the hell is that!?" Diana yelled as she pointed towards the windshield.
The five looked out and saw the large figure starting to rise from its lying spot.
"Look at the size of that thing!" Maggie gasped.
"Hurry up!" Rebecca yelled urgently.
"Umbrella started making Terminators now?" Mallory quipped, gripping the steering wheel and pressing his foot on the gas pedal, making the car speed towards the Tyrant. "If he poses a threat, Iíll just run its ass over."
"No!" Maggie and Remmy yelled from the back seat at the suggestion. Rebecca snapped into action as she grabbed the steering wheel, slightly overcoming Malloryís control of it. The vehicle jerked left, narrowly missing the menacing creature and leaving it reaching back one of its arms to attack. It never struck its target however, as it looked at the SUV speeding down the barren street and turning a corner further down. It stood at the middle of the street, staring at the ongoing trail of dust and debris with its colorless eyes, its face unmoved as if it was frozen.
Suddenly, a shadow fell on its back, and it heard footsteps. Heavy footsteps, coming from behind. The Tyrant quickly turned around to see a purple spike coming at it, but still it stood, its face expressionless as a river of red and black liquid trickled to its mouth, cheeks, and chin from a newly formed hole located between its eyes. It stood, giving its attacker that cold, blank stare before the purple spike retreated to its hiding place. At that instant, the large creature dropped to its knees and its upper body landed on the pavement.
"What the hell were you thinking!?" yelled Maggie.
"Well, I guess itís one of those Ďspur of the momentí things," Mallory said, cracking a smile.
"Oh yeah, I forgot. Itís a GREAT idea to try to total the car even MORE," said Maggie sarcastically.
"It wonít do it any good anyways," Rebecca uttered.
"What do you mean?" Diana asked.
Rebecca sighed and continued, "Chris told me all about that huge creature; he fought it in one of the underground labs at the mansion. He told me that it was damn near unstoppable and it took many shots of his Magnum before it finally collapsed. Looks like it can play dead real well because he ran into it again on the heliport above ground. ĎIt just broke through the concrete floor like a paper banner!í Brad told me. Oh, heís the helicopter pilot that picked us up and was hovering above the landing pad when the entire battle took place. As the story went, Chris kept shooting at it but the beast charged at him undeterred. The only thing that knocked it out of commission was the rocket launcher Brad threw down. I was in the sublevels helping Jill fend off some of the minor monsters following us, so I didnít see what happened first-hand. I havenít seen what the ĎTyrantí looked like until Robert managed to find a file detailing Umbrellaís experiments, and it had pictures and stats of all the creatures theyíve created. Thatís when I saw Tyrant for the first time. It looked... human. How they made such a creature, I donít know, and I donít want to know, but according to Umbrella, it was called Ďthe ultimate Bio-Weapon.í"
"But what is it doing here?" Remmy asked.
"You got me," Rebecca responded. "Maybe itís part of the ĎUmbrella Clean-up crew.í"
"But didnít they send that leather-clad freak to kill S.T.A.R.S. members?" Mallory asked. "It looked like it was doing one hell of a job to need back-up. Maybe that ĎTyrantí thing is a replacement killer or something when Maggie blew that ugly mother away."
"I donít think Umbrella is that fast, or that dumb, to release another Bio-Weapon here when the entire city will turn into fire and rubble in the next... Remmy?"
Remmy was busy staring out of the window as he recognized the strip of highway they were driving on. Through the glass, he saw himself, driving his red Cadillac while rehearsing the "Star-Spangled Banner" for the Giants game. The same exact day he drove into Quinnís vortex that started the "endless interdimensional joyride." That day was supposed to mark his "big comeback," his "rebirth." He started to chuckle at himself looking back at how one small gig excited him.
"Mr. Brown, you have a call," Mallory said, holding his nose.
This brought Remmy back to reality.
"Hm... oh... what?"
"Hey, Iíve been calling you out five times," Mallory smiled. "What were you thinking about?"
"Uh, nothing. I just drifted, I guess."
"Since you are back in reality, mind telling us what time we have left?"
Remmy straightened himself and pulled the timer from his pocket.
"OK, we have... a bit over 3 hours."
All five of them looked at each other, their faces full of concern. Suddenly, Mallory slammed his foot on the gas pedal, and the vehicle went speeding past dead stoplights and overturned cars.
Fifteen minutes later, the group drove into the carport of the train station. Like the other buildings theyíve passed, cars also surrounded the station, both totaled and overturned, as well as debris and litter. The wind howled as if the city itself was savoring its final breaths. A light shower of rain signified its weeping. In just a few moments, the city known as San Francisco will be no more. Its landmarks and once-human inhabitants will become no little than burning pieces of stone and dust, and the Golden Gate Bridge will only be linked to wasteland. Mallory stopped the SUV on the side of the station entrance as he parked in front of a banged-up Toyota.
"Well, kids, weíre here," Mallory said, smirking.
"Itís about time," Maggie groaned, rubbing the back of her neck.
Remmy was the first to hop out, stretching his stiff joints and back. "Well, we better hurry so we can catch that train."
The rest of the group did the same as they climbed out from their seats.
"Iím going to miss the old girl," Mallory said, petting the Ford Explorerís hood, which was warm from the long drive.
"Maybe youíll drive one in the next world," Maggie said, holstering the large brown sack over her shoulder.
"The next parallel dimension or Heaven?" Mallory quipped.
"Donít tell me you lost hope already," Rebecca said, smiling as the barrel of her shotgun laid on her shoulder.
"Iím not. I was just saying..."
"Besides, I donít think youíll be Heavenís type," Maggie said, slapping his shoulder.
"Ouch...," Remmy said.
Diana distanced herself from her friends and made her way up the stone steps to the partly shattered glass doors. Her mind was still troubled at the thought of her double being responsible for all this death. The dread was too much for her soul to bear as tears slowly trailed from her eyes.
"Hey Diana! Wait up!" Rebecca called, climbing the steps. Diana quickly wiped away her tears as she heard numerous footsteps behind her.
"Diana, did you see something?" Remmy asked.
"No... no...," Diana said trailing off. "Just eager to get out of this hellhole."
"Yeah, we better find a train quick. No matter what track itís on, it better lead away from here."
"Well, at least the doorís open... sort of," Mallory said as he proceeded to smash the remaining glass with the butt of his Magnum.
"Open Sesame," he said, smirking as he led his friends inside to station.
The interior was in complete contrast to the exterior. The marble floor gave off a beautiful glow from the reflected lights, as if they were polished recently. The benches that lined the walls and the center of the floor were still intact, and not a speck of litter was seen anywhere. Although the newsstand and ticket booth located at the right of them had been locked up tight, the locks showed no sign of tampering. In fact, there were no signs of any looting, rioting, or tampering of any kind. It felt as if they found sanctuary in the middle of a warzone.
"Snazzy," Mallory commented. Remmy just whistled.
Rebecca began to look around and began to soak in its serenity. "Itís amazing that this place hasnít fallen apart like the others."
"Yeah," Maggie said, "too bad this will all be dust just as the rest of this town."
"Maggie," Remmy said, disgusted.
"What? Itís the truth."
Remmy sighed and said, "OK... Rebecca and I are off to find the boarding station to see if we can find an engine we could use. Diana..."
Diana looked at one of the paintings that were posted along the walls, though she wasnít paying attention to the detail. Something still lingered in her mind and started to feed on her like a swarm of locusts.
Diana was startled and turned to Remmy. "Yeah... Iím here."
"Whatís the matter? You seem kinda distant ever since we left the gas station."
"No, I'm fine. Really. You wanted me for something?"
Remmy gave her a look of concern. "Yeah. There should be some sort of Control Room somewhere around here. I want you to go there and find a terminal to see if you can program an escape route."
"Iíll go with her," Maggie said, hoisting her AR. "This place may look clean, but looks can be deceiving."
"Iíll stay here," Mallory said. "I want to check out that newsstand."
"Why?" Maggie asked. "That doesnít seem important."
"Maggie. OK, suit yourself," Remmy said as he pulled out the timer. "2 hours 47 minutes! The bombs will be here in a bit over an hour."
"Looks like we donít have time to dawdle," Maggie said.
"OK, let's hoof it," Rebecca said.
Remmy and Rebecca ran down the corridor to the loading station, while Maggie and Diana walked through a couple of doors that were marked "Employees Only." Mallory made his way to the newsstand and hit the padlock with the butt of his gun. After a few hits, the lock fell apart and hit the floor.
"You must be the key to all things good," Mallory said, looking at his gun as he put it in his pocket. As he entered, he was greeted by a tall rotating rack displaying postcards showing various pictures and sights of San Francisco. He proceeded past it and headed straight for the counter. Aside from some shelves of candy and gum, the countertop had a display of "I Love San Fran" miniature license plates and a small display for Umbrella-brand aspirin.
"Damn, those people are everywhere," Mallory thought, grimacing as he made his way behind the counter. After becoming briefly distracted by the porno mags, he looked at a small hand radio near the register and picked up."
"I wonder if weíre on the news...," Mallory wondered as he turned on the switch. What followed was static, and no matter which way he tuned the dial, the radio still hissed.
"Figures," he said as he put the radio in his other pocket.
"I donít believe this!" Remmy said as he saw that each of the five main tracks had been completely barren, not even a single car.
"How can there be nothing here?" Rebecca asked.
"I donít know. Maybe they had them locked up somewhere because of the emergency."
Rebecca hopped down on one of the tracks and looked around. To her left, all she saw was the rails expanding in the distance while pages of newspaper danced in the wind.
"There!" she yelled, running to her right.
"Wait a second, girl!" Remmy yelled as he followed her down on one of the tracks and saw a large gate standing just a few feet away with a sign "Fueling Stations. Trains and Authorized Personnel Only."
"It would make sense," Remmy thought to himself as he ran towards a door positioned next to the large, iron gate. Rebecca beat him to the entrance and started pulling at the handle, but the door wouldnít budge.
"This thing is locked!" Rebecca said, kicking the door in frustration.
"Damn!" Remmy yelled. "OK, there should be another way in somewhere. There has to be."
"We could try searching the lobby, like we have any other choice."
"Good idea," Remmy said as he and Rebecca ran back towards the boarding station, running past some graffiti written on the side of the building.
"Green Light, baby!"
"So tell me whatís wrong," Maggie said as she was walking beside Diana as they were heading towards the Control Room. After following numerous signs and climbing a couple flights of stairs, Maggie noticed Diana becoming more and more depressed. "And donít give me that 'Everything is fine' crap."
"Itís nothing for you to worry about," Diana said, looking as if she was lost in her emotions.
"Bull. Why donít you just talk to me?"
"What? Are you my shrink? My 'Big Sister' I never had?"
"No, but I am your friend."
"What do you want me to tell you, hm? My sorrow for feeling responsible for the genocide of thousands of people?"
"It wasnít you, Diana..."
"Maybe not, but I could have. In fact, Iíve done so already. Iíve already destroyed billions of lives thanks to Geiger and my own foolish... ambitions."
Diana's face was covered in tears. "And if it werenít for you... and Remmy, I would have destroyed even more lives, including my own. Iím like a first grader eager to destroy the world for a gold star, and that makes me no better than that bitch or... or ANY of those monsters out there. And what reason or advice are you going to tell me to feel any different? Tell Me!"
Maggie looked at her with concern and compassion, then slumped to the ground, as Diana dropped to her knees and wept.
"You learned," she said softly. Diana just let the tears drop on the waxed tiling as she let her friend talk.
"Before you met us, your only purpose in life had been to achieve the next discovery in science, to find something so that you could feel appreciated and needed by others. Geiger showed you the way. You only walked through the door. You just never knew his true intentions, or what you were really getting into. Sure, you couldíve pushed the switch in Geigerís lab, but your intentions werenít malicious to the other worldsí inhabitants, unlike Geiger. And you pushed that switch in that college lab because Geiger fueled your need to make your unfortunate double lead a better life, unable to see the consequences that followed. But the fact is, from those mistakes you have learned very valuable lessons. Maybe your double here hasnít learned any of them yet... hell, we donít even know that sheís directly responsible for this catastrophe. But she was probably edged on by Umbrella the way that you were edged on by Geiger. The only difference between you and your double is that you learned."
Diana rose to her feet and wiped away most of her tears. "Yeah... I learned that Iím a total screw up."
"Not a screw-up. Just human," Maggie said, smiling. "Címon. Let's get this errand done before all hell breaks loose."
Mallory walked out of the newsstand reading an article in "LilNem Magazine" before running into Remmy and Rebecca in the lobby.
"Any luck?" Mallory asked.
"Not a train in sight," Remmy responded, catching his breath.
"We found a fueling station though," Rebecca added. "But the outside entrance is locked."
"Have you found another way in?" Mallory said.
"Not yet. Weíre doing another search through here. Wanna come with us?"
"Wait a second," Mallory said, rushing back inside the newsstand. He went behind the counter and started searching the drawers there.
"I saw something when I was rummaging through here earlier. Well, I didnít find any ammo or... here it is!" Mallory said as he began running back towards his friends, waving a large sheet of paper. "This is the map of the whole station, and it also covers some areas that are not quite open to the general public."
Rebecca eagerly snatched the map from Malloryís hand. "Mallory, youíre a life saver."
"Donít celebrate just yet, you need to read the map first," Remmy said.
Rebecca walked to a nearby bench and laid the map there.
"Hereís the fueling station," Rebecca said, pointing to an area on the map. "And hereís the doorway we just... There it is!"
Rebecca repeatedly pointed on a place on the map that indicated another entrance near the employee lounge, located at the rear of the building.
"Yes!" Mallory shouted, as he started to run off. "Iíll get our tickets."
"Mallory," Remmy said, his face showing a stern expression.
"Kidding," Mallory smiled. "I'm just eager to beat the firing squad."
Rebeccaís eyes followed the drawn corridors to their position like a kidís menu maze. "We could reach it from those doors Diana and Maggie went though."
Aside from being barely lit, each terminal in the large control room was laden with Styrofoam cups half-filled with cold coffee and partially eaten candy. The gray sunlight poured inside from the windows overlooking the rails, displaying some of the terminals' idle screens. Also, a large desk overlooking a tower of nine surveillance monitors was barely seen from one corner; three columns of blank screens. Diana raced inside and turned on one of the computers on a large section at the center of the room, impatiently tapping her fingernails on the tabletop as she waited for the boot-sequence to finish. Maggie rushed inside after her and saw the nearby light switch and flipped it.
"That should help you a little," Maggie said, as she walked towards her companion.
Suddenly, the terminal screen went black and the logo for the "AmTrak Railway Management System" flashed on.
"It took long enough," Diana uttered as she grabbed the mouse. Maggie looked up from where Diana was working and spied the surveillance equipment.
"You keep working on that. Let me see what the others are up to," Maggie said as she sat placed the brown sack on a nearby chair and started walking towards the monitors. Once she arrived, she gave each blank screen a look and flipped the "on" switch on the first monitor on the top left. With a flicker, the picture faded into view a section of the boarding station.
"Whereís Remmy and Becky?" she thought to herself as she rolled her fingers on the scrolling dial, making the camera pan left and right. But all she saw was barren platforms and leaves blowing across the tracks. Maggie turned on the second and third monitors from the top and waited for the screens to take shape. One screen showed the interior of the newsstand and the other showed the lounge.
"Now where the hell is Mallory?" Maggie thought as her eyes panned from one monitor to the other. "God, I wish we had radios for c... HOLY SHIT!" The third screen showed a large moth sitting on a vending machineís front side, opposite of the camera, and stuck on the tables and walls were what looked like small cocoons.
"OK...," Maggie gulped. "We came across mutant zombie roaches, birds... gorillas... and now giant moths... whatís next, giant rats? Oh God, please donít let there be giant zombie rats," Maggie shuddered at that sudden thought and flipped the switches on the rest of the monitors. A view of the stairwell leading to the control room appeared on the fourth monitor, and an overview of the main lobby occupied the fifth, but it was the sixth screen that gathered her attention.
"Hey, I found our escape vehicle... or five of them," Maggie announced to Diana.
"Good, since I already planned a trip to Fresno," Diana said, excited. "Just about far away from any soon-to-be burning cities, and itís conveniently located just inside of our Sliding radius."
"What, you want a cookie?" Maggie said sarcastically.
"Just getting off this world is reward enough," Diana smiled. "Let me check the status on each train before we leave."
Diana and Maggie looked up to see Rebecca walk in.
"Hey, I was starting to worry about you," Maggie smiled and looked at the seventh monitor. As she watched, she saw the shadows of two figures walking away, turning a corner.
"I think I see the guys," she announced as her eyes panned to the eighth monitor, showing the outside entrance to the fueling station.
"Oh, theyíre not far," Rebbecca said as she walked towards the surveillance table. "Theyíre looking for a way inside the... There they are!"
Rebecca pointed at the ninth screen, watching Mallory and Remmy approach a metal door.
"Well, this is it," Mallory said as he reached for the doorís metal handle. His spirits dropped when the door wouldnít budge after he gave it a strong tug.
"No...," he pleaded as he kept pulling in the handle. "No. Goddammit, NO!"
"Let me try," Remmy said, reaching for the handle.
"This is too fun to watch," Maggie chuckled.
Rebecca grimaced at Maggie, but she noticed a button next to the screen. At the bottom of it, "FS Ent." was written out in small lettering.
"Hmmm...," she thought as she pushed the button.
"Back away, Remmy!" Mallory yelled as he took out his Magnum. He grew more and more impatient as the both of them tried to pull the door open.
"Are you crazy?" Remmy asked. "By the look of that door, the bullet will probably bounce back and kill you."
"Iím desperate, ok? You have any other ideas?"
"Weíll figure something out."
"But I donít have the time."
"Fine...," Remmy said as he backed away. "But Iím not singing at your funeral, FogBoy."
Mallory cocked back the hammer and aimed the gun slightly to the left of the door handle. He closed his eyes as his index finger rubbed the trigger.
As the sound echoed through the hallway, Mallory still stood with his eyes closed.
"Am I out of ammo?" Mallory asked nervously.
"No," Remmy said, relieved. "Thatís the door."
Remmy walked towards the exit and once again tried the metal handle. His smile grew bigger as the door opened wider as he pulled it. Remmy started laughing hysterically when he saw one of the train engines.
"Thank the Lord!" Remmy yelled as he ran through the door.
"Thank Amtrak," Mallory said as a sense of relief enveloped him.
Becky and Maggie watched both guys run inside the fueling station, their morale in high spirits.
"What? No 'thank you?'" Maggie quipped.
Rebecca chuckled. "Címon, they have enough reason to celebrate."
"And we should too," Diana said, walking away from the terminal. "I just got us tickets to the train in Dock #3. Fully fueled and with a dining car. Now, all we need to do is to power it up and we are gone."
While Diana was making her announcement, the fourth screen showed a large shadow covering part of the stairwell. Then, a purple flash appeared swiftly before the monitor turned to static.
Rebecca looked back at the surveillance tower and noticed the square of rolling snow.
"Hey," Rebecca said. "One of the cameras went out."
"Thatís strange," Maggie said, looking at the white screen. "This equipment doesnít look old."
"Maybe thereís something wrong with the...," Diana's sentence was cut short when all three of them heard loud footsteps.
"Remmy?" Diana asked.
Maggie looked back at the fueling station monitor. "Remmy and Mallory are still in the fueling station."
Rebecca grew terrified and rushed to close and lock the door as Maggie searched the nearby drawers for a weapon. Diana tried pushing some of the chairs in front of the door.
"I have some more shotgun shells in that bag there," Maggie said, pointing to the sack.
"What do you think it is?" Diana asked, getting a little frightened.
"Whatever it is," Maggie said, pulling out a handgun and a clip out of one of the drawers, "it will be dead once it gets through that door."
The footsteps became louder as each second passed, the tension in the room growing ever so slightly.
"What if it's another survivor?" Diana whispered.
Rebecca softly answered her while loading her weapon, "Well, I doubt a person would knock out a security camera before..."
Suddenly, a purple tentacle crashed through the doorís window, startling the three women, and a low monotonous groan was heard through the sounds of the glass pieces crashing to the ground.
"What?" Maggie uttered in fear, as she saw the creatureís head coming into view. Through the doorís gaping hole, the monstrosity turned its head and leered at its batch of prey, half of its face badly burned.
"No... no, I killed you, you bastard!" Maggie whispered, staring at the creature in disbelief. Suddenly, the large hunter rammed the door with enough force to disable the chair barricade and partly tear the door off of its hinges. Rebecca hurriedly raised her shotgun and fired, but only a few buckshots made it to their target. The monster continued undeterred and rammed the door a second time, sending the door flying off of its hinges. As the creature stepped inside, its entire body became visible and, thanks to Maggie, was even more hideous. The top half of its leather trenchcoat was burned away, revealing the monsterís muscular shaped chest and abdomen, which was laden with hanging rotten flesh. Protruding from the monsterís sides and arms were purple tentacles lashing about in many directions like several out-of-control fire hoses. A couple of more tentacles looped at the back of his neck, like large veins. Diana froze in fear as she saw the organic tubes flow from the creature like some evil deity. The memory of one of them crashing through Mancusoís skull played in her head. Maggie angrily ran from the surveillance monitors and stopped just a few feet away from the creature.
"Just die!" Maggie said, almost in tears, as she repeatedly pressed the trigger to her handgun.
"Maggie!" Rebbecca yelled.
With each loud pop, the bullets made their targets on the monsterís neck and chest, but it wasnít enough to deter it. When Maggie pressed the trigger once more, she heard a loud click.
"Dammit!" she yelled, and she searched her pocket for another clip. But before she could pull it out, the creature whipped her across the abdomen with one of its tentacles. The force of the blow knocked Maggie into one of the terminals, and some of the half-filled coffee cups fell to the floor. As Maggie struggled to get up, the creature advanced towards her, leering as its boot stepped in the brown puddle.
"Shit!" Diana thought aloud as she saw the abomination walk towards her friend. Rebecca once again took her stance and pulled the trigger, the remnants of the blast hitting the monsterís arm. It wasnít enough to subdue the creature, but it did make it stagger and divert its attention from Maggie. As Rebecca rushed to reload, the monster swung one of it arms as it launched a tentacle at her. She was getting ready to raise her weapon before the fleshy rope slammed against her side, knocking her off balance. As she fell, she accidentally pulled the trigger, with the barrel facing the window. The blast made a big hole in the glass before the area surrounding it shattered and rained on the desks and sill. After seeing the S.T.A.R.S. member topple, the creature turned its head to Maggie, who was trying to crawl away. The emotions of fear and anger swirled inside Diana. She felt useless watching her friends get hurt by this thing and felt angry that she didnít put in an effort to try to help them. In a fit of rage, Diana picked up a nearby chair, struggling as she lifted, and hurled it at the creature. Although she lacked the strength to allow the chair to hit its target directly, the projectile slammed into the back of the monitor Diana was working on earlier.
"Shit!" Diana yelled as she saw the creatureís lone eye stare at her after the attempt. Anticipating another tentacle attack, she quickly looked around for a possible shield. The multiple tubes continued to flail wildly, waiting for their possessor to give the order. As the monster raised one of its arms, the monitor tipped over and crashed screen first into the coffee puddle. The creature yelled in pain as the sudden surge of raw electricity traveled throughout its body, each tentacle knocking into several screens as the hunter tried to fight the current. Sparks flew as Diana ducked underneath the table for protection. And as the volts continue to flow, the creature groaned and toppled, slamming hard onto the cold tiling.
Rebecca struggled to stand up. Her side still ached from the attack. All she seemed to recall was hearing a very loud noise and a thud. While grabbing the tabletop, she was soon back on her feet. She looked around and saw demolished terminals with sparks flying from their wounds. A few yards away, Maggie gathered enough strength to rise up. She first noticed the stench of charred flesh and turned around to see the monsterís body lying still near her. Diana was the last to stand up and survey her surroundings. She also noticed Rebecca and Maggie staring at her in amazement.
"Why are you guys looking at me like that?" Diana asked. She found it hard to believe that it was her act of courage that ended this confrontation. Maggie and Rebecca still looked on.
"Um... I think we... better leave now," Diana said as she walked over to the damaged doorway. Rebecca followed suit, but Maggie stood over the now idle monster. With a look of scorn, Maggie aimed her handgun at the creatureís head, her finger gently massaging the trigger.
"Maggie?" Rebecca called from the bottom of the stairwell.
Maggie just stared at the deformed head, trying to keep her armed hand steady. It would take a split second to plant a bullet inside the bruteís head, but she suddenly realized that time wasnít on her side. As the creature lay motionless in a darkened puddle, she figured that the sudden electrical surge would finally put it out of commission. Still, she grew angry as she remembered that her previous attempts didnít slow it down. It was supposed to be her kill.
"Maggie!" Rebecca yelled. "We have to go!"
After that last call, Maggie snapped out of her trance of anger and hatred. Suddenly remembering her primary mission, she dropped her firearm, grabbed her sack, and ran for the door.
"Hey, this one has a dining car," Mallory exclaimed, while exploring the train on dock #3. "Maybe we should escape in luxury."
While the three women were in battle with the stalking abomination, Mallory and Rembrandt were exploring each docked train. Each engine they have explored so far was inoperable, due to lack of power. Remmy was going to enter the next train until he saw a terminal at the far wall whirl to life. The screen flickered and indicated lights around the console lit up, illuminating the barely lit silo with a bright, eerie glow.
Remmy stared confusingly as he walked over to the now operable terminal.
With a chime, the logo for the "Amtrak Railway Systems" appeared, and in a few seconds, a window popped up with the following notice:
The engine on the following dock has been approved for transport:
To activate engine, press "OK."
"Thank you, Diana," Remmy smiled as he grabbed the mouse and moved the arrow sprite to the "OK" button.
"Hey Remmy!" Mallory yelled. "This one has lights! Woo-Hoo!"
"Glad to hear it!" Remmy smiled. Then, he once again turned his attention towards the console.
The engine in -Dock #3- has been activated.
"Yes!" Remmy said triumphantly as he clicked the OK button. But his celebration was short-lived, when he heard a warning whistle, followed by an error message a split-second later.
Warning: Train cannot depart when the security gate is closed. "OK"
"Security gate?" Remmy asked. Then he remembered the huge, rusted iron gate that he and Rebecca found earlier. As Remmy clicked "OK," he noticed a row of icons that described a specific function.
Without hesitation, Remmy clicked the "Yes" button. This time, the computer let out another synthesized warning whistle. This time with the message:
WARNING: Only authorized personnel are allowed to enter this command.
"Dammit!" Remmy yelled as he pounded his fist next to the keyboard. He had come so close to escaping only to be stopped by a minor roadblock. He would rush up to the control tower and ask Diana to hack through the system, but that will take time, a thing that was running short on all of them. For a brief moment, he cursed the day he ever drove into the void. He remembered that if it werenít for this trip, he would still be that pompous "has been" that treated every novelty gig as a "big comeback" that would one day propel him to glory.
Rembrandt snapped out of his moment of sorrow and quickly turned around to see Malloryís smiling face.
"Jesus, Mallory," Remmy exclaimed, holding his chest.
"Sorry, old timer," Mallory said, his smile still projected. "Why the long face?"
Remmy stepped away from the console so that Mallory could see the "Error" message.
"See for yourself."
"Hmmm... I just have one thing Iíd like to know."
Mallory reached in his pocket and pulled out a plastic card. It looked metallic, but with the Amtrak logo and blue and red outlining, and on the upper right corner was someone's picture, name, and position.
"Whoís da man?" Mallory exclaimed, his smile growing wider as he saw Remmyís reaction.
Remmy was almost at a loss for words.
"Where did you get that?" he asked immediately.
"I found it in one of the trainís bathrooms next to some dated newspapers. The poor sap probably dropped it when he was ordered to evacuate."
Remmy eagerly snatched the ID card from Malloryís hand and swiped it on the card reader next to the monitor. Remmy watched the "Error" message disappear and was faced with another window.
Are you sure you want to open the security gate?
"Yes" "No" "Cancel"
Remmy let out a cheer as Malloryís chesire grin continued to grow.
"Thank you, Mr. Zack Kimble."
"If he was here, Iíd shake his hand!" Remmy said.
"You wouldnít kiss him?"
"I wouldnít go that far."
Mallory chuckled and Remmy pounded his finger on the left mouse button, the arrow icon hovering over the "Yes" switch.
In the distance, horns blared as warning lights flashed from each half of the gate. Rusted gears started to turn and grind against one another the minute they received the signal. Mallory and Remmy walked over on a platform on one side of a train and watched the two parts of the gate slowly part ways as it swung inward.
Maggie, Diana, and Rebecca ran out of the door, puzzled after hearing the horns blare out in a quick succession.
"Whatís going on!?" Rebbecca yelled through the noise as she glanced at the gigantic metal doorways.
"Get on the train!" Remmy yelled, grabbing Dianaís and Rebeccaís arms and pulling them towards their escape vehicleís caboose. "Now!"
Mallory was the first to hop aboard and begin racing through the trains seven cars. As he reached the engine, he saw that the gate hadnít opened fully yet, but just enough for the train to pass through safely. Frantically, Mallory looked at the control board that has been laid before him. Each gauge, switch, monitor, and button generated a life of its own. He saw a big lever mounted on the center of the board and pushed it forward.
Remmy, Diana, Maggie, and Rebecca experienced a sudden lurch forward while waiting in the dining car, which was the fifth one from the engine.
"Weíre moving!" Maggie cheered.
The train soon left the fueling dock and started to gain speed as it traveled through the gates. Before long, the locomotive passed beneath the shattered windows of the control tower.
Mallory walked inside the dining car, his face covered in sweat, but still wore a bright smile.
"Now I would like to ask you all. Who... is... da... ma..."
Suddenly, the train received a shock, knocking every passenger to the floor.
"Ow..." Mallory uttered, as he kneeled to rise.
"What was that?" Maggie asked, rising to her feet.
"I donít know...," Remmy responded, hoisting himself on the seat in a nearby booth. "Turbulence?"
"Well, it seems calm now, so itís probably nothing. I bolted the gas pedal to the floor back there. So, itís no surprise that weíll be experiencing some bumps."
Diana also hoisted herself up on a nearby seat and slid her body against the window. As she looked out, the loading docks that Remmy and Rebecca were exploring earlier became a giant blur as the train sped away from the station.
"How much time do we have?" Rebecca asked, leaning against a table.
Remmy pulled out the timer and announced what was on the digital readout.
"We still have a little under... 21 minutes before the Air Force gets here. So, you all better pray that this silver bullet will get us out of here before that time."
Diana wasnít paying attention as she watched the view of the great metropolis as numerous phone and power towers rushed past like a few seconds of film looped over and over through a projector. The locomotive raced through a patch of showers hovering in the area. Dianaís gaze didnít change when the cityís tears streaked the window. Standing on its roots, it has realized that there was no one else around to hear its cries and that it will simply wait for its destruction. Although it meant that for the city to die is to contain a major threat, the sheer thought of death fueled its sorrow, overpowering its sense of nobility. A few minutes past and the speeding train just made it inside the open countryside, and the great concrete jungle started to fade from view.
"So, Becky," Maggie said. "How does it feel to be the only surviving member of the SFPD?"
"Lucky... I guess," Rebecca responded, lowering her head. "I kinda wish I wasnít alone though."
"Yeah, but at least you might be treated to a heroís welcome."
"Heroís welcome nothing. As soon as the Feds see me, I have to file a HUGE report along with interrogations and interviews and..."
"Look!" Diana said, pointing to the three fighter jets that zipped overhead in a V-formation, making their course to the fading metropolis.
"Theyíre a bit early," Mallory said, leaning across the table.
"Gotta give them credit though," Maggie said, smiling.
"Alto team, this is Bluebird. We are approaching the San Francisco area. Eagle and Vulture, proceed to your designated strike points."
And with that, the two planes that made the wings of the V parted ways as the leading jet maintained its course. The lead pilot reached forward to make his firing preparations.
"Itís a shame, too. My wife is from here. Pretty nice place."
"Look at it this way. You get to blow up 'Full House.'"
"Heh heh heh. Roger that."
On the city streets below, several wandering zombies looked up slightly as they saw the dark shapes whiz past.
The pilot flipped over a small red hatch, revealing a brightly lit switch.
"HQ, this is Bluebird. Closing in on strike zone now. Launching 'Little Tim' in 5... 4... 3... 2..."
As the pilot flipped the switch, a small but dense missile launched horizontally from the jetís left wing, making its way to a block of buildings that were 10-15 blocks away from the Trans-American Pyramid. Seeing the descending trail of smoke, the pilot immediately made a hard right and climbed altitude. Suddenly, an intense flash engulfed the city, and what followed was a rapidly growing and expanding ball of fire from which the missile made its target. The several lickers that were loitering on the roof of the police station raised their deformed heads as they saw the flash. One of them stood on its two back legs, and they saw the growing ball of destruction ripping apart every building and any man-made structures in its wake. It let out a loud screech as the rolling death made its way to the police station, the walls flying outward as the sphere ripped the building and its unhuman inhabitants apart. The undead mob at Golden Gate Park looked on as they saw a huge orange glow rushing towards them, not realizing that it was also deadly as well as beautiful. A split-second later, they were all engulfed by the fires of Hell.
"HQ, this is Bluebird. Mission Accomplished. Heading for home."
"Vulture, Eagle. Status."
"Objective has been met. On course for base."
"Mission accomplished. Going home."
"Wow," Rebecca said as she saw three mushroom clouds rising from the cityscape.
"Looks like weíre home free," Mallory said, wiping his brow. Remmy sat down on the seat opposite of Diana, his expression a mix of joy and sadness while Diana and Maggie displayed contentment.
"Yeah, now all we have to do is to wait till the slide."
"Yep," Mallory said, standing up to stretch. "Whereís this thing going, anyway?"
Maggie sighed, "Fresno."
"Well then," Mallory said, smiling. "Fresno, here we c..."
Suddenly, something crashed through the roof, missing Mallory by nearly an inch. Shocked, Mallory dropped to the floor and everyone jumped back.
"No...," Diana uttered as she saw what was coming from the newly made hole. A huge arm, wrapped in dead skin and muscle, began swinging, trying to grasp one of the passengers with its massive hand.
"GODDAMMIT!!!" Maggie yelled as she pulled out her handgun and started shooting the dangling appendage. After a few shots, the limb retreated, leaving behind a puddle of purple liquid.
"Shit!" Mallory yelled as he got himself up. "Maggie, I thought you killed that thing!"
"Look, mister, I am just as surprised as you are! We ran into that thing back at the control room."
"What!?" Remmy said, rising from his seat. "It followed us to the station?"
Maggie tried to keep her composure. "Look, Iíll explain what happened later. Right now, we have to..."
Suddenly, a purple tentacle crashed through the window Diana was looking through earlier. Remmy hurriedly grabbed Dianaís arm and tugged her out of danger while she was shrieking.
"GET TO THE FRONT OF THE TRAIN!" Maggie yelled as she grabbed her sack.
Everyone made for the door as the creature swung himself inside the car from the roof, crushing the adjoining table in the process. The monster has been bleeding heavily from battles past, but still had the strength to continue its mission.
"S.T.A.R.S.!" it growled as the purple liquid oozed from its exposed gums. Its tentacles flailed weakly, knocking over the dining carís vases holding fake silk flowers.
"What is this guyís problem?" Remmy asked, resting on the wall of the passenger carís cramped hallway, which was the third car from the engine.
"That... thing is here because of me," Rebecca said. "Itís been chasing us to the point that we have smuggled it out of the city."
"Oh my god," Diana uttered. Then, the sound of the doors between cars being ripped out of their hinges echoed throughout the compartments, followed by a low, agony-filled groan.
"Thatís it!" Maggie said angrily, opening her sack.
"What are you going to do?" Remmy asked with concern.
"I am going to make sure that bastard dies!" Maggie pulled out a couple of charges of C4. "And stays dead! I am NOT going to miss him this time!"
"Are you nuts, Beckett!?" Mallory yelled. Maggie continued to unpack the C4.
"Just go to the next car, and try to uncouple the two compartments. This time, this thing is going straight to hell."
"Maggie!" Remmy yelled.
"Iíll be with you in a sec. Just go!"
Remmy only frowned as he saw her set up the explosives at the center of the car.
"You better be in that car in the next two minutes." Then, he turned to the rest of the group. "OK, do as she says."
"What?" Mallory objected.
Reluctantly, the three obeyed Remmy, and they hurried to the next car.
Maggie murmured angrily as she arranged the charges. She listened closely and noticed that the incoming footsteps were out of sequence. It was limping.
"Thatís what you get for jumping onto a speeding train," she thought, smiling as she rose from her feet.
"COME AND GET IT, YOU BASTARD!"
Through the looking glass of the door ahead of her, she caught a glimpse of the creature struggling to walk through the narrow passageway with its injury, leaving streaks of purple on the walls as it passed through.
"Maggie!" Remmy yelled from the second car. Maggie set the timer for 40 seconds and ran in the opposite direction. Remmy stood near the door, the emergency detachment lever grasped in his hand.
"You ready?" he asked.
"Pull it!" Maggie yelled as she raced inside. Remmy followed the order and pulled the latch. Slowly, the cars separated due to the increasing speed of the train and the decreasing speed of the latter cars.
"How long did you set the timer?"
"Are you nuts!?" Mallory yelled.
"That thing looked pretty beat-up. It was struggling to walk through the halls."
"You better hope we donít get caught up in the explosion."
"Uh...," Rebecca cut in, looking out the window. "Guys? Take a look at this."
Remmy was the first to reach the window followed by Mallory. Ahead of the train, about 5 miles down on a dirt road, a couple of concrete barricades along with a tank sat across the tracks.
"I guess the army didnít leave anything to chance." Mallory said.
"It was fun while it lasted," Remmy said, walking over to the opened door, and saw a field of tall grass race past due to the locomotiveís speed. "C'mon, we have to jump."
"Wait a second!" Maggie halted him. "Canít someone go up there and pull the emergency brake."
"At this speed?" Diana looked at her, disgusted, and then looked at the rolling tracks through the door, then at Remmy. "You want me to go first?"
"Itís proper manners," Remmy joked.
Diana sighed and leapt for the tall grass on the left side of the tracks. Upon impact, she tumbled and rolled a few yards and stopped, but she managed to get up easily.
"I was only kidding!" Remmy yelled as she jumped, and then followed suit. As Rebecca ran for a leap, Mallory motioned to Maggie.
"Ladies first?" he smiled.
Another door torn completely off its hinges, the creature easily made its way inside the second passenger car. As it walked in, the wind crashed into its head and body, its "blood" flying backwards from its open wounds. It sensed the prey getting farther and farther away, but still it was determined to complete its mission. Every S.T.A.R.S. member must die. No exceptions. No questions. As it made its way down another narrow corridor, the passage suddenly stopped by a pile of small boxes. On top of the pile was a box with a small LCD display on it. The monster leered at the timer as it read:
"Sure, after yo...," Maggie was cut off as the sound of the distant explosion startled her. Due to the shock, she lost her footing and fell on the tracks as she rolled violently on her side on the bolted wooden planks.
"Maggie!" Mallory yelled as he dove off to the right side of the rails. Maggie gathered herself slowly before standing. After the tumble, she was a bit disoriented. When she rose, she rubbed her temple as she saw the train speed away and looked behind her at the large, rising tower of fire and smoke.
"Survive that, you piece of shit!" Maggie declared groggily, trying to ignore the pain in her shoulders.
Maggie turned around to see Mallory climbing the small rocky slope and running towards her. Remmy, Diana, and Rebecca werenít too far behind.
"Are you o..."
The train slammed itself into the concrete barricade undeterred, splitting the two blocks in half before hitting the tank head on. Upon impact, the locomotive tried to wrestle with the attack wehicle for several yards, but the tank claimed victory as the train ultimately derailed. The engine and cars toppled and rolled on the trackís right side. Aside from the small dent, the tank looked particularly unscratched. All five of them looked at the crash in awe.
"So, I guess we're not going to Fresno," Mallory said, breaking the silence between his comrades. The rest of the group just looked at him, disgusted.
Remmy sighed at his friendís remark, "Is everyone OK?"
"Kinda," Maggie replied as the other three just nodded.
"OK," Diana said, while looking around. "We escaped from the city before it was decimated, blew up a monster, and crashed a train. So one question remains..."
Remmy dug in his pocket and pulled out the timer. "1 hour, 2 minutes, 7 seconds. May I suggest that we walk down that dirt road a bit. Maybe weíll find somebody."
"I donít care, as long as it kills time," he said as he made his way to the tall blades of green. While he walked, he pulled out the radio he found at the station. Maggie started to follow, limping a little.
"Need help?" Remmy asked.
"No, thanks," Maggie replied, almost snapping at him as she slowly walked down the rocky slope. Remmy looked back and saw Diana try to smirk.
"Some slide, huh?"
Remmy tried his best not to smile, "Yeah... but I wouldnít miss it when we leave."
"But at least you guys have somewhere to go," Rebecca cut in. Before Remmy could respond, she was already behind Mallory.
"Hm...," Remmy said. "I was going to ask her to come with..."
"Donít," Diana said, smiling. "The vortex is crowded already."
Remmy sighed as he watched Diana clamber down the slope and immediately followed suit.
1 hour later.
Mallory sweated heavily as The Doors sang "Light my Fire" from his handheld radio along with some spots of static. The five had passed no sign of any buildings, let alone any human contact. All they saw was the dirt road and the side patches of grass. Remmy took off his jacket and carried it over his shoulder to try to make the walk bearable. The women on the other hand seemed to have no problem walking nonstop in the hot sun, momentarily wiping their foreheads.
"You know what?" Mallory yelled. "This will be a perfect haven for cows."
"Yeah," Maggie said. "Then why didnít we see any?"
"Remmy, can we stop now? If not, please tell us that itís time to go."
After Remmy wiped away the massive amount of perspiration on his face, he reached for the timer, "Itís time to go. 20 seconds."
"Thank God!" Diana yelled. "My legs were about to give out."
Maggie only smiled, and then looked at Rebecca.
"You know, you can come with us if you like."
Rebecca only smiled back, "Sounds tempting, but I'd rather stay in this world. Besides, without me, they wonít have anyone left to give an eyewitness account of what happened."
"10 seconds," Remmy shouted.
Diana walked over and hugged Rebecca, "You take care, OK? And watch out for any umbrellas."
"Heehee, Iíll keep that in mind."
After letting go of Diana, Rebecca embraced Maggie.
"Iím going to miss you," Maggie said.
"Same here. You were a good friend."
Mallory lowered the volume on his radio and walked over to Rebecca.
"Iím sorry that we didnít spend any time together back there," he said, smiling. "You are one tough woman."
Rebecca giggled, "Címon, Iím not that tough. Just... lucky."
After that statement, Mallory gave her a playful bear hug that almost lifted her off the ground.
"Three! Two! One!" Remmy shouted, and he pressed the activation button on the timer, shooting two bolts of electricity from the device. As the charges hit the open air, a massive blue hole appeared, hovering as it swirled inward. Rebecca's jaw dropped as she stared at the vortex as it kicked up the remaining dust and dirt off of the section in the road. She never actually believed the story that Maggie and Remmy told them, but she thought that it would be fun to play along. And now, the evidence that made their stories true was swirling 5 feet away from her.
"Beautiful, ainít it?" Remmy said, smiling back at Rebecca. "I wish you luck, and donít let those Umbrella bastards take you down."
Remmy turned back towards the interdimensional wormhole and jumped in. A quick flash of light appeared as his body expanded as he traveled through the gateway, and when it cleared, he was gone. Mallory followed suit as he jumped inside behind his friend. Diana reached in her pockets, and gave Rebecca the janitorís journal.
"Maybe itíll come in handy," Diana yelled, then ran towards the hovering hole. Maggie approached the S.T.A.R.S. member before making her leap.
"Are you sure you want to stay? You are going to love it."
Rebecca snapped out of her trance the vortex induced and looked at her departing friend.
"Positive. Besides, maybe some hunk in a pick-up will pass by."
Maggie smiled as she gave Rebecca one last hug, and then with a running start, jumped inside the wormhole. A few seconds later, the swirling gate suddenly shrunk and disappeared, and the dust began to settle.
"Good-bye," Rebecca said as she started walking down the dirt path. A few moments later, a helicopter came into view, and Rebecca started waving her arms. As the helicopter passed her, it made a U-turn and lowered its altitude.
"Yes!" she cheered as she continued to wave her arms. As the helicopter landed, a woman wearing a blue tube-top and leather mini-skirt hopped out. Her short hair danced in the wind as the blades whirled overhead.
"Rebecca?" she asked.
Rebecca couldnít believe her eyes.
"This just in: The township of Raccoon City and the giant metropolis San Francisco are no more. Due to a critical and potentially dangerous outbreak, the President of the United States had to make the heartbreaking decision to bomb both cities in order to contain the threat. Both cities had been under federal quarantine since 3 days ago. The President has this to say about the decision:
I would like to say that I am sorry that I had to order the destruction of these two cities, but my council and I did it with the best intentions, to make sure that the outbreak doesnít spread to other parts of the country. I am currently calling upon an official investigation to find out what was the cause of this epidemic that, which has transpired in two isolated locations, have similar reports from what I have read so far. Now, our hearts and prayers go out to those who have lost family and friends to this crisis, and I will do everything in my power to find out what really happened out there. Thank You.
Current details about the epidemic have been sketchy, but we have just received some footage from our affiliate, WHKS, in San Francisco. Word of Advisory: The following footage may contain content that is not suitable for young children.
From the looks of this videotape, it seems like the local law enforcement is battling what look to be 'zombies.'
(Tape shows a zombie attacking and eating a person.)
While, at first glance this footage could be taken as fiction, our sources have told us that the reel is very authentic.
Also, the casualty list for Raccoon City is tallied at over 20,000 while San Francisco is tallied at a whopping 6,000,000+. And local churches are also setting up SF + RC memorial services. So, if you have a loved one that perished in either of those two cities, let your local parish know.
In other news..."
Rubbing his temple, the general director reached for his remote and switched off the television. What laid before him was two gigantic messes he had to clean up, severing all ties that might link them to Umbrella. The work becoming unbearable, he leaned forward and buried his head in his arms. He was about to drift off when the intercom buzzed, startling him.
"Mr. Coschocton, Officer Vial is here to give his briefing."
"Thanks, Mary," he said, straightening himself. "Send him in."
What walked through the door was a tall soldier in brown uniform, sporting the Umbrella logo. He had a pretty muscular build and, even though he was wearing a helmet, showed some patches of blond hair.
"Sir," he said as he removed his helmet and gave a salute. Coschocton rose, returned the salute, and sat back down.
"What news do you have for me, officer?" the director said as he laid back from his chair.
"Well, sir, only 40% of our San Fran lab personnel has evacuated and is currently being interrogated on what caused the outbreak. And as for your request, sir, I am sorry to inform you that Dr. Diana Davis wasnít on that list of survivors."
"Hmmm... pity. She was one of the best."
"Iím sure she was. I have also received word that Alpha team has just acquired the G-Virus sample from the Raccoon labs. Though it is noted that every member of our retrieval squad was killed on assignment except one, Hunk. He is currently resting in the barracks."
"Hmmm... when you leave, tell Hunk to report to me. What about the S.T.A.R.S. problem?"
"From last I heard, Chris Redfield and Barry Burton were heading for Europe during the early stages of the epidemic. We still havenít heard anything on Valentine and Vickers."
"Ah... maybe thereís a future for 'Nemesis' after all. And what about our San Francisco songbird?"
"There is no word about Chambers, sir."
"Good... good. I should tell our Bio-Weapons department to whip up two more of those ĎNemesisí drones. Are there any other details you would like to share?"
"No sir. This ends my report."
"Good, good. Youíve done well, soldier. Iíll summon you if I need more of your services. In the meantime, you should make a visit to the accounting offices for your pay. That is all."
With that, the director rose from his seat and saluted as the officer did the same. As the soldier walked over to the door, Coschocton lowered himself back to his seat, rubbing his developing 5 oíclock shadow. With a sigh, he reached inside a box and pulled out a cigar. After finding his lighter in a mess of paperwork, he turned his chair to the window. The sight of the Chicago skyline always relaxed him. Without the annoyances of hearing city traffic or being approached by tourists, he can marvel at the sight in peace. After inhaling a good dose of smoke, the director reached back to the intercom with his left hand.
"See if you can send a memo of warning to our London, Paris, and Amsterdam offices. Looks like theyíll be expecting company soon."
"Iíll get right on it."
As the director released the call button, he sat back and hoped that he wonít have to clean up any more spill-ups. The company couldnít be linked directly at first glance, but if Redfield blew the whistle, it would bring in lots of unwanted attention. His head aching from thinking, he turned his attention towards the window. Looking out, the lights of the nearby buildings always calmed him.
"Maybe I should ask for a raise," the director said as he closed his eyes.
The vortex opened at the middle of the street, spitting out the Sliders one by one before closing. All four of them landed on their feet without any complications.
"Woo-Hoo! Good-Bye Zombie-world!" Mallory cheered.
Remmy began to smile, but regressed when he saw his surroundings. They were standing in the middle of a four-way street but were surrounded by thick fog. The mist was so thick that it was impossible to make out any other structures. What was also unusual was that it began snowing.
"What the hell?" Remmy uttered as a couple of flakes touched his opened hand.
"Snow?" Diana asked, looking around. "In California?"
"That's strange," Maggie uttered. "It's not even cold, let alone freezing."
"And I don't remember fog getting this thick in LA," Mallory said. "How much t..."
Suddenly, all four heard a huge flapping sound, as if it was made by large, leather wings.
"What the hell is that?" Mallory asked as the sound became louder. Then, Mallory's radio began to hiss.
Mallory pulled the device out of his pocket and stared at it. Each time the flapping got loader, the radio let out an eerie tone along with heavy static.
The other three crowded their friend, staring at the plastic box as the two sounds clashed. What they failed to notice, probably due to the heavy fog, was a sign: