FACED WITH HIS IMMEDIATE DEATH, SURrounded by the diseased and dying as pieces of flaming helicopter rained down from the skies, all Rodrigo Juan Raval could think about was the girl. That, and getting the hell out of the way.
She'll die too -
He dove for cover behind an unmarked tombstone as the small cemetery rumbled and shook. With a shattering metal sound of high impact, a massive chunk of smoking 'copter crashed into the far corner of the yard, spraying the nearest rotting prisoners and soldiers with burning fuel. Bright, oily streamers of it spattered across the ground like sticky lava -
- and when Rodrigo hit the dirt, he felt a tremendous bolt of pain in his gut, two of his ribs cracking against a weed-buried slab of dark marble. The pain was sudden and terrible, paralyzing, but he somehow managed not to pass out. He couldn't afford to.
A rotor blade knifed into the dirt barely two feet from him, spraying sandy earth into the evening sky. He heard a new chorus of wordless moans, the virus carriers protesting the rain of fire. An infected guard shambled by, his hair blazing like a torch, his eyes sightless and searching.
They don't feel it, don't feel a thing, Rodrigo desperately reminded himself, concentrating on his breathing, afraid to move as the pain edged from shrieking to mere shouting. Not human anymore.
The air was thick with dizzying fumes and the smells of rapid decay and burning meat. He heard a few gunshots somewhere else in the prison compound, but only a few; the battle was over, and they had all lost. Rodrigo closed his eyes for as long as he dared, fairly certain that he would never see another sunrise. Talk about having a crappy day.
It had all started only ten days before, in Paris. The Redfield girl had infiltrated HQ Admin, and had put up one hell of a vicious fight before Rodrigo himself had gotten the draw on her. The truth was, he'd been lucky - she'd pulled her piece and come up empty.
Yeah, real lucky, he thought bitterly. If he'd known what the immediate future was going to hold, he might have reloaded for her.
The reward for catching her alive, a chance to take his elite security unit through their paces with real, living viral carriers out at the Rockfort facility, the compound on a remote island in the Southern Atlantic. The girl would end up a new test subject for the scientists, or maybe bait for her troublesome brother and his hayseed S.T.A.R.S. rebellion Rodrigo kept hearing rumors about. Seventeen people had been seriously injured by Redfield's dance through HQ Admin, five more dead.
Most of them were sleazy suits, Rodrigo hadn't given a half shit about any of them, but catching the girl meant he could look forward to a serious pay hike. Umbrella could turn her into a giant neon cockroach for all he cared, they'd certainly done worse.
Lucky again, it seemed. He had ten days to ready his troops, ten days while the HQ interrogators unsuccessfully questioned the girl. The journey from Paris to Capetown to Rockfort had been cake - the pilots were all top-notch and the girl had wisely kept her trap shut. All of his men had been psyched for the opportunity, the mood high as they touched down and started to prep for the first drills.
And then, less than eight hours after reaching the island - only the second time he'd ever been there - the compound had been brutally attacked by persons unknown, a precision air strike from out of the blue. Cor-porate financing, definitely, razor technology and seemingly unlimited supplies of ammo - the 'copters and planes had rolled overhead like a thundering black nightmare, the attack well-planned and merciless. As far as he could tell, everything was hit - the prison, the labs, the training facility... He thought the Ashford house might have been spared, but he wouldn't bet on it.
The strike was devastating enough, but it was almost immediately trumped by what came next - the destroyed hot zone lab leaked out a half dozen variations on the T-virus, and a number of experimental BOWs, bio-organics, had escaped. The T series turned humans into brain-fried cannibals, an unfortunate side effect, but it hadn't been created for people. Through the question-able miracles of modern science, most of the new weapon subjects weren't even remotely human, and the virus turned them into killing machines.
Chaos had ensued. The base commander, that creepy maniac Alfred Ashford, hadn't done a damned thing to organize, so it had been up to the ranking soldiers to lead. The prisoners were obviously useless but there had been enough grunts on the ground to launch a tremendously unsuccessful defense and counterattack; his own boys had fallen as quickly as the rest of them, wiped out on their way to the heliport by a trio of OR1s, the current T-virus breed of choice.
All that training lost in just a minute or two. The OR1s were particularly nasty, violently aggressive and extremely powerful. Fortunately, only a few of those had escaped ... but then, a few was all it took. Bandersnatches, the grunts called them, because of the long reach. Funny, that his team had been so careful to avoid infection, don-ning custom filter masks even as the first bombs hit - and yet they were taken out by a form of the virus, anyway.
At least it was over fast, before they even knew how much trouble they were in, he thought, envying them their hope, He hurt, he was exhausted, and he'd seen things that he knew would haunt him for the rest of his life, however long that might turn out to be. They were the lucky ones.
Rockfort had become a hell on Earth. The man-made virus was a short-lived airborne and had dispersed quickly, only infecting about half the island's population ... but the new carriers had promptly chomped down on most of the other half, spreading the disease.
Some had escaped early on, but between the infected and the freed BOWs, getting out had become a bleak option. The entire island was overrun.
Maybe that's the way it should be. Maybe we all got what we deserved.
Rodrigo knew he wasn't an evil man, but he didn't kid himself, he wasn't exactly one of the good guys, either.
He'd turned a blind eye to some very bad shit in exchange for some very good pay, and as much as he'd like to shift the blame around, he couldn't deny his own small part in the apocalypse that now surrounded him. Umbrella had been playing with foe ... but even after Raccoon City had gone down, even after the disasters at Caliban Cove and the underground facility, he'd never really considered that something might happen to him or his team.
Another walking corpse wandered past his temporary shelter, a reasonably fresh shotgun blast where his jaw should have been. Rodrigo instinctively ducked lower and again had to struggle not to pass out, the fresh pain shockingly intense. He'd broken ribs before; this was something else, something internal. Liver laceration, maybe, a sure killer if he didn't get help. Assuming his amazingly bad luck streak held up, he'd bleed out internally before something ate him ...