Chapter 17: I Will Overcome
After making his way through the mines, underground caverns and through some ruins, Leon came upon what seemed to be an underground mining station with mining carts docked, seeming to be ready for traveling farther into the tunnels. But as Leon approached the carts, another villager force came to bear on him, trying to keep him from going any deeper. But, of course, they were no match for Leon.
Now alone at the cart docking station, he cautiously climbed up into the farthest cart back and shot the switch, activating the track and the carts began a smooth descent. While in the tunnels, Leon had to crouch a few times since someone thought it was necessary to put up boards spanning the width of the track at head level, and before he knew it, Leon came to another station, but filled with yet more villagers as one flipped a switch to halt the carts and they all began advancing, about ready to jump onto the carts with Leon. Shotgun at the ready, he began blasting the closest villagers off the platform they were about to jump off of, then he shot the switch to reactivate it, sending the carts off on their downwards journey again.
This time he counted on the decapitating boards to take care of the rest of the group that were on the carts with him, and while he was crouched in the last cart, an older women, clearly being controlled by the Plagas, began climbing into his cart just as one of those boards hit her, launching her over his head and onto the tracks behind him with a scream. More boards had broken on the journey to the next station as dead bodies littered the carts, but that didn't stop the next group from trying to board the train as well.
But worse than that, a chainsaw maniac was among the boarding group, and when Leon heard the startling rip and snarl of the chainsaw coming to life, his mind went blank as he automatically aimed at the switch to continue the journey, hoping to leave the maniac. But it was too late; before the carts had left the station, the maniac had just enough room to land right behind Leon.
In shock, but still in control of himself, Leon vaulted over the edge into the next cart, stopping to duck when a board was about to hit him, but he knew the chainsaw-toting freak wouldn't be harmed, so Leon continued to climb to the first cart, until a sharp, downwards spiral halted his progress, and even then, it was all he could do to remain somewhat upright because of the intense gravitational forces. Sure that the maniac couldn't advance as well, he felt relatively safe where he was, but the increasing speed of the train was getting to him. Then the carts emerged from the darkness on a straight track, but dead ahead, the track abruptly disappeared into a chasm below.
Thinking quickly, Leon saw a wooden platform on the other side of the chasm, and just as the cart he was in began to take the nose dive down into the unknown, he jumped with all of his strength and adrenaline put into it and leapt across the chasm... as he landed with his upper half on the platform, but began to slide back down. Fear coursed through him as he tried pulling himself up, but the shoulder that Ashley had sewn up was in excrutiating pain and was just about to give out.
'...All I need to do is just see her again, make sure she's safe... Only then will I allow myself to give up...' Thinking that, Leon felt an unknown force within himself begin to struggle, trying to pull him upwards as his damaged shoulder complied, though not without giving him grief for doing so. Once he was completely on the platform, he collapsed on the floor, breathing heavily, weary from the exertion. But soon enough, he was ready to continue, and as he went on into the next room, he found the Stone of Sacrifice, allowing him to continue his search for the girl he loved...
Making it to the Cathedral, Leon couldn't help but wonder what Salazar was thinking when he built a giant moving statue of himself three stories high in the middle of a supposedly holy place. 'For someone that damn short, he's sure narcissistic...' he thought, manuevering his way through the three levels thanks to using the giant Salazar's hands as elevators. As soon as he flipped a switch that raised the platforms stretching from the statue to the doors at the far end of the Catherdral up above the standing water and unlocked the gate, Leon equipped his shotgun and began strolling down the aisle to the exit when he heard something.
Swiftly turning aroud, Leon caught sight of the statue breaking free of its restraints, now being obvious that it wasn't just a statue; it was a giant robot. Leon began to dash down the aisle as the robot began knocking over pillars, threatening to crush him as he ducked and dodged the enitre way to the exit, until he realized a couple yards away that the exit was chained. Firing a few rounds from the shotgun, it shredded the chains and a split second later, Leon kicked open the door and barreled down the bridge that led to a tower, hopefully leading him closer to Ashley.
The robot, though, didn't seem to be hindered by the Cathedral as it smashed its way through its walls and kept moving towards Leon. But as it began walking on the bridge, the ancient bridge couldn't handle the weight, starting to fracture and break under the robot. As the robot began falling, Leon sprinted as fast as he could to the other side of the bridge before it collapsed under him and before the falling robot could crush him. Jumping just as the entire bridge gave way, he caught onto the edge of the other side, dangling once again precariously on the edge of another abyss. This time as he thought of Ashley, his muscles gave him no trouble in hoisting him up, and as he lay for just a moment on the ground to rest, he was thankful that thinking of her had such a useful effect in helping him overcome pain.
As Leon regained his breath and stamina, he barged into the tower, this time to find Salazar and his remaining Verdugo bodyguard about to board a lift.
Salazar heard the sharp sound of a door hitting a stone wall behind him as he began clapping. "So nice you could join us, Mr. Scott Kennedy."
Furious, Leon barely managed to keep his voice at a regular volume, "You again."
Salazar smiled an absolutely evil and sadistic smile. "The sacred rite that is about to begin at this tower will bestow the girl with magnificent power. She will join us, become one of us..."
"This is no ritual. This is terrorism." Leon's vision began taking on a red tinge.
"Isn't that a popular word these days?" Salazar cocked his head, then he just grinned, as if nothing could touch him. "Not to worry, we've prepared a special ritual just for you..." as he began reaching for a lever.
Unwilling to fall for yet another trap, Leon snapped and allowed something feral that was dormant in him to quickly take his combat knife and expertly throw it at Salazar's hand, pinning it right before it could reach a lever. "Heh," Leon let out when Salazar looked at his hand in shock and began to whimper and it slowly began to escalate into a wail, when the other Verdugo swiftly took the knife out of his hand and flung it back at Leon, barely allowing him time to dodge it. But before Leon could react after his dodge, Salazar and the Verdugo were on the lift and quickly escaping. "Stop!"
The past few hours were torture as she was led to the top of the tower and then chained down to an altar right in front of a huge parasitic monster whose mass was just pulsing with its life-force. It was too much for her to look at. Her screams did nothing to earn the pity of her captors, and so there she lay with tear-stained eyes as Salazar and his bodyguard burst into the tower apex.
"It seems your Mr. Kennedy is much more stubborn that we originally thought..." Salazar snidely spat at Ashley while he rubbed his hand as she gasped.
'He's still alive?! Please hurry, Leon! HELP ME!' Ashley barely managed to speak through her parched throat and hoarse voice, "Where is he? What is going on?! What are you going to do to me?!"
"All in good time, my dear..." he said with a sweet, but poisonous tone. It set her nerves on edge. She watched him as he walked over to a duralumin case, opened it and reached inside, taking out a syringe and a vial of some kind of fluid. Ashley began to scream again. Then the Verdugo swiftly walked up to her as it grasped her hair, holding her head still as Salazar came back over to her. "Soon, you'll look back on this moment as pure foolishness when you become one of us. You should be glad we're bestowing this great honor on you."
"Let go of me! Leon! LE-!!!" and as she was screaming for her savior, Salazar stuck the needle in her neck and pushed the plunger down, injecting her with the sedative as they watched her eyes flutter and close and her body slump as it took effect. 'Leon... help... me........'
At that moment, Leon was making his way through the tower at an amazing pace, but deep down, he knew there was something very wrong about everything. When that twinge of intuition hit him, he began ignoring enemies, running past them or shoving them down the tower stairs or off the scaffolding as he began to race towards the tower apex.
Boarding the lift, threw off the heavy shipping containers with unknown strength to lighten the lift so it would begin to elevate, but as the lift started to go up, more zealots jumped down from above and onto the lift to slow him down. Leon would have none of it. In absolute rage, he wound up for a roundhouse kick, hitting every enemy in range and throwing them off the lift and down to their death as those who weren't hit began to take a step back, afraid of being next. They didn't have to wonder long as Leon then personally shoved one by one off the lift. It would continue that way until he reached the top and ran to the tower apex, not using any ammunition during his last stint in the tower.
Charging into the tower apex, he was greeted by Salazar and his bodyguard, both standing on top of an altar, and the writhing mass on the far wall, but no sign of Ashley.
"Ah," Salazar began, "You've just missed her. The ritual is over. She left with my men to an island."
Leon felt as if someone had just replaced his blood with poison as his body felt like it was burning yet freezing, and strangely tingling. The feeling of absolute dread and failure. 'But she isn't dead. I haven't completely lost her... But what have they done?!' But all the could manage was, "What?" in a voice that would sound like shock, but he knew it was his fear speaking.
Salazar just grinned, but it was somehow different; it had a hint of finality to it, like he had a trump card that would finally kill him. "I think it's time I payed my due respects towards to your impressive and stubbon will." And at that, he held out his arms in a welcoming gesture as his grin became an almost inhuman smile of pure power, hatred, and revenge. "Mr. Kennedy...welcome!"
Leon watched in horror as tendrills came from the mass of flesh on the wall and enveloped Salazar and the Verdugo and pulled them into itself, while Salazar was laughing manically, and when the transformation was finished, a long alien neck and head smashed the altar, and when Leon turned around, spikes shot up from the ground blocking the path he had come in, trapping him in the room with the mutated monster.
"Monsters." Leon muttered to himself, trying to calm down his nerves about Ashley and focus on the task at hand. "I guess after this, there'll be one less to worry about."
When all that remained was little bits of gore leftover from the fight with the joint mutation of Salazar, the Verdugo, and the brood queen, Leon ran from the room to a dock down below when he came across a familiar face, someone he didn't want to see.
Sitting in the driver's seat of a speed boat on the dock was a lady in red. "Need a ride, handsome?"
Unhappy to see Ada, but with her controlling his only way of getting to the island, Leon had no choice but to accept. Holstering his gun, he gruffly replied, "Hmph. Okay..." and he slowly got in the boat, unsure of why she was helping him, if she was helping him...