Chapter Twenty-Three: Defying Science

As soon as he stepped outside, Leon could hear the sounds of a battle nearby. He couldn't see where it was, but he could definitely hear the sounds of gunfire from somewhere above him, and as he moved around what looked like a recently created pile of debris with a metal pipe sticking out of it, all he could do was move forward and hope that whatever was going on above him wouldn't be distracted by his passing through. He suspected it was Ada, who wasn't too far ahead of him anyway. If she was engaged in battle, then with what?

Leon couldn't speculate any further; he had no time to waste. The parasites in his body were getting stronger by the minute, and Ashley still needed to be rescued again. The path took a left around a tall structure before heading down and to the right. As he neared the turn, he pressed himself against the concrete wall and listened. Aside from the muted sounds of gunfire, he peered around the corner and saw what appeared to be some sort of stronghold. Ahead was a short set of stairs, to which at the top stood a wall of sandbags. A couple of crates formed primitive walls, and farther back, a fenced area surrounded an upper room of sort, possibly a control room, accessed via a ladder that led up to it. Several of the mercenary ganados patrolled the building behind the fence, with a couple of them lying in wait, crouched behind the sandbags. As Leon scanned the area, stealth was most likely impossible. That fact was even made more apparent with the fact that Leon no longer had his rifle, having lost it during the exchange with the now fallen Krauser.

He couldn't see much else past the top of the stairs and beyond the wall of sandbags, and now he checked what he had for firepower. At his disposal, he had a fully loaded handgun and shotgun, and was still good for ammo. The Magnum he found was empty, and it was his hope that he'd find some more of the powerful ammunition at some point. He had one flashbang grenade left, which he thought may be needed here to buy some time if he needed to. No matter what he did, he'd be spotted as soon as he stepped into the view of the patrolling mercenaries.

He pulled out his handgun and aimed it at the closest Ganado, his head just above the top of the sandbags. He wasn't looking in Leon's direction--he was saying something in Spanish to someone behind him, leaving the back of his head exposed to the aiming agent. Knowing he had just a few seconds, he lined up the laser sight and immediately fired five rounds, all of them hitting their mark, taking a few chunks of bone and brain with them. The infected creature dropped, and Leon immediately made his move up the stairs. Several screams of alarm sounded throughout the yard, as expected, and as Leon rushed up to the top of the stairs, another man emerged from a crouch behind the sandbag, his eyes glowing with the familiar red, another infected host. He made a lunging grab toward the agent, but was greeted with a few rounds to the legs, knocking him to his knees. In one swift motion, Leon kicked the fallen soldier, and out he went.

Quickly panning the area, he saw that the stronghold stretched further off to his right, and that the way forward involved navigating a network of walkways and catwalks that connected what were now several of these buildings that were propped up by concrete supports. As for the purpose of this area he did not know, but he could see the lone reinforced metal door at the far end of the yard. He also saw a few large red barrels, metal barrels that looked like they might contain oil or some other fuel. Either way, it was not going to be easy, for at least ten or so of Saddler's forces were now alerted to the agent's presence, all of them armed with a various array of crossbows, cattle prods, and other things liable to hurt. To make matters worse, emerging from one of the far buildings was a large, and rather rotund, man.

He was dark-skinned and looked very much like a soldier--army camouflage pants, bulletproof vest, and red beret on top of his rather bald head. However, his vest and his waist were adorned with a connected string of large bullets, one long connected jacket. His massive, muscular arms were holding up the weapon that used those bullets--a Gatling gun.

Wouldn't be Saddler if he made this easy. However, he can make my job much easier…

The large, hulking figure let out a load roar before fixing his gaze on Leon, and as he aimed the massive weapon at the agent, he quickly looked for an escape route. The fat man had a major advantage for the moment, as he was standing on a raised platform. The alerted soldiers heading toward him were not too far away now, and they'd be on him in less than a minute. In the meantime, a fence door was open, and Leon immediately made for the door. No sooner did he take off running did the large gun whirr to life before ripping the air with loud peals of rapid gunfire, laughing as the impact of each bullet struck the ground with loud metallic pings, creating sparks as they hit the concrete inches behind Leon. The sounds of gunfire continued for a few seconds as Leon passed through the open door and underneath one of the supported buildings, whereupon the sounds of ricocheting bullets stopped screaming in the night. The fat man would have to move to ground level to continue his attack, which meant Leon had some extra time to make an escape or launch an offensive. Unfortunately, Leon was heading right into a melee as three of the infected mercenaries blocked his path, crowding near the ladder to get up into the control room or whatever above him, with a fourth one coming down.

They leered at him, their sick, grotesque faces adorned with insane grins as they closed the gap to Leon. The closest one, a few feet away, was armed with a shock prod--Leon could hear and see the bolts of electricity coursing through the weapon. Grabbing his shotgun, the electrically armed Ganado began to take a swipe--

--and an instant later, the loud boom of the shotgun tore through the surrounding air, and with it, an explosion that sprayed bone, skin, organs and copious amounts of blood as the hot slug ripped through the chest of the soldier, ripping the body messily in two. The other men behind him were forced back several steps as the buckshot contained in the shell ripped into their bodies as well, forcing them back several feet, causing them to drop their weapons in the process. One slammed into the armed soldier coming down the ladder, and for few moments, the scene looked almost comical, Three Stooges-like, as the remaining soldiers fell on each other. Although they were now wearing the previously armed man, Leon didn't have time to reflect on this humorous moment--for in just those few seconds, he could hear the angry scream of the fat man from somewhere off to his right--and as he turned, he could see, about fifty or so feet away, the large figure landing solidly on his feet, still holding that Gatling gun as if it weighed nothing.

It has to be those damn parasites…no normal guy could lift that!

Getting a shot off here would be useless--he was wearing a bulletproof vest, and from this vantage point, he'd have no time to line up a head shot, for the hulking figure was already aiming the powerful weapon at the agent. In the same instant, the injured but still very much alive group of soldiers was getting to their feet.

Up the ladder, Leon!

He could hear the mechanical winding up of the massive gun as his hands gripped the metal ladder, and then the booming peal of rapid firing a second later as his body disappeared into the room above. Below him, bullets were ricocheting off the metallic rungs just inches below. The agent could hear the sound of a deep, booming laugh over the roar of the gun, combined with the sounds of primitive screaming as it became apparent that the fat man did not care who got in his way, friend, comrade, or whatever. Leon was his prime target, and anyone caught in the path of the Gatling gun would meet a speedy and bloody end--the exact end Leon did not wish to experience. As potentially gratifying as it might have been to watch several enemies get strafed by a powerful gun, Leon had no time to dwell on it.

With his heart pounding, he quickly glanced around the room, finding a control panel or two, a table with some scattered playing cards, a few lockers and some shelving units, but nothing of use. He did see the exit behind him, leading back out into the open. His palms sweaty and his shotgun still in hand, he ran outside and onto the metal passageway, which would lead him to another of these large rooms, and the place where the large menacing figure initially emerged from.

A hail of gunfire immediately greeted him as he emerged, forcing him immediately back into the room, followed by insane laughter.

DAMN!

Leon pressed himself against the wall, breathing heavily as the shots sailed past the opening.

I'm trapped--!

He sat there for a few seconds, his thoughts racing, his heart pounding furiously as he tried to think of his next plan of action. After a few seconds, the screaming sounds of gunfire and ricocheting bullets stopped, but at this moment, he was stopped dead in his tracks, but before he could attempt to formulate a plan, he could hear a gathering of angry men and the clanging of feet against metal, growing louder with each running step.

Great. More of them.

And now he had no choice--it was going to be a battle of endurance. The next wave of ganados was going to come barging in any second, and Leon was going to be ready. He checked to make sure he was good for ammo, and then his eyes glanced over the one flashbang grenade he had left. A smile crept over his face.

He was going to wriggle his way out of this.

A hundred feet or so above the melee, she ducked out of the path of the jagged, mutated limb from the crazed, hell-bent Jack Krauser, feeling the whoosh of air as the blades sliced the space where her head just was. Seeing an opportunity, she slammed the butt of the TMP as hard as she could into Krauser's stomach. It caught him off guard, and the sweet sound of a sudden exhale was music to her ears. The blow forced him back a few steps, enough for the sexy double agent to get out of the corner she had been backed into. For all of Krauser's massive bulk, he was extremely agile, but then again, so was Ada--she made a profession out of tight spaces.

Regardless, where she was fighting was a cramped space indeed--a space probably no bigger than twenty feet square, and although Krauser was badly burned, he still had plenty of fight still left.

"You bitch!" he seethed angrily, before lunging at her again. Ada once more swerved out of the way of the sickening, grotesque arm--

--but suddenly felt the muscular, and very powerful human arm slam into her side, sending her sprawling, and also knocking the TMP out of her hand.

No!

She cried out in pain as she hit the cold metal hard, pain shooting all up and down her back. Amazingly, no bones were broken with the force of the impact, and the gun had not sailed over the metal railing, stopping just a few feet before the edge.

The infected soldier looked at her with primal, lustful glee as she attempted to get up, admiring the sexy curvature of her body--the shapely hips, the sleek legs, and her perfect ass. How he wanted to inflict punishment on the little bitch was something he unfortunately was going to have to forgo; this was it, the time was now--he was going to finish her off now before she could get to her gun.

"Too bad, Ada!" Krauser said triumphantly, walking slowly over to her writhing frame. His left arm seemed to react excitedly to what it was about to do, pulsating and throbbing with a will of its own. The Plagas tasted it.

I've been in far worse, Krauser…

The pain began to subside, and her vision was returning to her, but she knew she'd have to recover in a hurry. Krauser was now standing directly over her.

"We could've been something, you and I. But no…the traitorous bitch wants Leon's dick instead! You double-crossing cunt! You'll burn in hell just like Saddler and Leon, and when Umbrella returns to its former dominance, I--"

BANG!

The sound of a grenade going off below interrupted the preaching soldier, and a quick flash of bright white light filled the area. In that exact instant, knowing that this was all the time she was going to get to take advantage of a distraction, Ada grabbed her handgun from beneath her dress, rolled over and emptied an entire clip at point-blank range, aiming directly at Krauser.

Every shot landed squarely in Krauser's torso, and it was now his turn to stumble backwards in pain, clutching his chest and gasping for precious air. Blood seeped out of the newly-created gunshot wounds, covering his hands. As he stumbled back, Ada quickly rose to her feet and grabbed the TMP as the area was returning to normal light. She turned, and looked Krauser dead in the face, eyes locked with each other.

"Fuck off, Krauser," she said, smiling, before pulling the trigger on the automatic pistol. A hail of quick gunfire strafed his body, his torso quickly becoming nothing more than a flimsy target as the skin became dotted with bullet wounds. His face contorted in extreme pain, and he let out a feral yell which then gave way to choking, sickening gurgling sounds as he began to gag on his own blood. The soldier stumbled all the way back to the railing before the magazine ran dry, and all Ada could do was watch in sweet revengeful bliss as the gasping, blood-soaked body of Krauser clutched his chest. A second later, something exploded out of his chest, possibly his parasite-infested heart. Finally, the ex-soldier fell to his knees, his bloodshot eyes rolling up to the back of his head, before letting out one final breath and hitting the cold metal floor to lie in a pool of his own blood.

"Just like every other egotistical male, Krauser," she said, walking over to the deflating corpse. "Talk, talk, talk. Always gloating." She nudged the body with one of her heels. "Besides," she continued. "I wouldn't have wanted anything to do with you." She looked down at the writhing left arm. "Not with that sorry excuse for an organ." As if the seething, glistening tentacle heard her words, the sinewy, sick wet muscles and veins began to shrink and deflate as the life left the body. This time, there was no more doubt. Krauser had finally left this life for good.

She could feel pain starting to return to her left side as the adrenaline began to wear off. While she was sure nothing was broken--at least, nothing felt broken, she knew that Krauser had left a nasty bruise at the very least. For now, though, she'd have to press on. Had that blow been anywhere else, she might not have been standing now. However, all was not silent, as she could hear automatic gunfire from below.

Leon…

She quickly ejected the empty clips from both her guns and replaced them with new, fresh clips. She only had a couple one handgun clip left, and just a couple of TMP magazines. Unless she found more, stealth and ammo conservation were now needed. Hopefully, Leon could take out Saddler, saving her the trouble. For now, though, she decided against jumping into the gunfight below. No sense in plunging in recklessly--she was sure that it was Leon below, and was sure he'd handle it. Looking around for her next course of action, she saw a ledge nearby, which looked like it led to an entrance to a building. Pulling out her grapple gun, she fired, and the hook slammed into the concrete, holding solidly. Before she pulled the trigger, a loud, booming explosion suddenly shattered the area, lighting up the area briefly before a black plume of smoke sailed up into the fading night sky. She heard a loud metal clang a second or two later. After that, nothing but silence. The double agent pulled the trigger, and left the roof.

The heavy door finally budging, he slowly walked into the large room. He felt drained. Physically drained. The battle with the Gatling gunner took more out of him than he thought--that lucky shot on the explosive barrel saved him from depleting his remaining ammo. He had a couple clips of handgun ammo left, and little more than a handful of shotgun shells left. Luckily, he did find a box in an open locker that contained twelve Magnum rounds, of which six were immediately used to reload the powerful gun. However, that was all the ammo he found. Still, he had to be thankful--he was standing, and the fat gunner was not. In fact, most likely he was sprayed all over the ground after that explosion.

His body was screaming from fatigue. Every muscle in his body was sore, worn out, tired. He knew he had to continue on. Then again, this mission was going on far longer than he ever anticipated. He had been here for nearly twenty-four hours, and his stamina had begun to dwindle. Not to mention that that the parasites inside him were also taking their toll. It would not be long before they took total control over him, and once that happened, the game was over.

First bullets and zombies…now parasites and insane men. All in a day's work.

He had one last energy bar still left, and he felt that he was going to need it soon. He looked around the new area that he just entered. It was a large room with a high ceiling. The place almost looked like a warehouse. Computers, control panels, and wiring ran all along the walls and the floor. It was poorly lit, but it visible enough. The area had a second floor that was clearly visible, with more of the same; however, Leon could see an area of the second floor that had a stack of the same red fuel barrels. This was where they were stored, so it seemed. Below the section was the exit. However, the main focus was directly in the center of this massive area. A tall cylindrical capsule stood up, probably ten, twelve feet tall. In it was what looked like a large mechanical surgical bed, or an X-Ray table of some kind. Next to it was what looked like a lock mechanism, with a red and a green light. The red light was currently lit. A bright white light stood at the top, illuminating the inside of the capsule, revealing its contents. And there, Leon found what he sought.

Ashley.

Her eyes were closed, but Leon could see that she was breathing. The platform she was laying on was standing upright, but at an angle. The sleeping or unconscious girl was not fastened or secured to anything save for her wrists, but otherwise just lying there peacefully. Feeling a renewed sense of urgency, a spark of energy, Leon began to run toward the control panel, hoping to find a way to open the capsule and take Ashley back. He had only a gone a few steps when he heard a voice to his left, a deep voice that Leon had become all too familiar with.

"You'll soon harbor an awesome power," the Spanish voice said. "Yet it seems you would rather choose death."

Leon turned to face the robed figure of Saddler, who had a smile on his face.

"I'm taking back Ashley whether you like it or not," the agent replied sternly.

Saddler sighed, then chuckled. "Ah, the audacity of youth." Without warning, Saddler lunged--glided toward Leon at sudden speed, closing the distance to Leon in less than a second.

Inhuman--!

Before Leon could even react, Saddler stuck out his right hand and slammed it at full speed squarely into Leon's chest, easily sending Leon flying backwards, totally airborne. The agent slammed hard into the capsule, then fell to the concrete floor, knocking the wind out of him. Leon came up sputtering and coughing, trying hard to breathe while he writhed upon the ground. The attack caught him completely off guard, and all he could do was try to breathe and not choke on vomit that was trying to come back up.

Completely vulnerable, Saddler began to walk in silence toward him, holding out his hand, glaring, concentrating on Leon. A second later, Leon began to feel it happening again, could feel the parasites pulling in his body, hearing the call of their master.

No! Not again--!

Pain began to once again shoot through his prone body, an unimaginable pain, the feeling of being ripped apart.

Saddler--Ashley--!

Suddenly, gunfire ripped through the air above him. Automatic gunfire. As Leon got control of his body back, he saw a flurry of bullets coming down from somewhere above, slamming and slicing through Saddler.

What the--

Seconds passed, and the hail of bullets continued to rain down their fury upon the robed man as he stumbled backwards. Leon forced himself to his feet, leaning next to the capsule for support. Breathing heavily, he looked up to his left and saw the figure of Ada as she fired the last of the magazine. Saddler stumbled back a few more steps and then doubled over, his upper body completely smoking from the impact of many hot parabellum rounds.

Ada…perfect timing.

The lovely woman looked down at the tired operative below. "Leon, now!"

Leon nodded in acknowledgement, turned around, and slammed the green button on the panel with his fist. The capsule let out a loud hiss as air escaped, and then slid open. The mechanical platform moved completely upright and the wrist bindings released. He caught the falling girl, who was now starting to stir. His gazed remained locked on Saddler, who had not fallen over yet.

All those bullets and still--!

Saddler let out a low moan which began to get louder and far angrier. The robed man's hands clenched into fists, and to Leon's shock, he could see the hands pulsating and throbbing, watching in total horror as the parasites began to surge throughout his body. He slowly rose to his feet, and when he un-clenched his fists, bullet casings fell to the floor. Leon stared in total shock as his mind began to take in the sight, knowing that what he saw defied everything. The parasites, defying all known logic, had ejected the bullets from the body, fully healing the crazed man. All Ada's gunfire was for naught. In one final action, Saddler slowly lifted his head and looked at the two before him, a smile of sadistic glee on his face.

Fucking impossible!

"Move!" Ada screamed, snapping Leon out of his train of thought.

"Let's go!" Leon said to Ashley, who was still barely conscious. Grabbing her hand, she began to run with him, if only reflexively. As they made for the exit, Saddler began to walk after them, a slow, deliberate walk. Ada ran along the side of the second floor, putting herself in a position to open another steady line of fire. Immediately after the two made it through the exit, Ada aimed her TMP directly at Saddler's back and opened fire. She could not believe what she was seeing--each bullet was hitting their mark, slamming directly into Saddler's back, but it was doing no good. He kept walking, not even breaking stride once. When the magazine emptied, she quickly ejected and changed it and opened fire again. Same result. He didn't even flinch.

It must be the parasites--they're protecting him!

She looked up and saw the stack of fuel barrels positioned above the exit, and knew exactly what to do. Determined, she opened fire, and after several rounds hit the barrels across the room, one punctured the metal casing, igniting the flammable liquid inside. A loud explosion rocked the room, accompanied with a bright fireball of blinding yellow and white. Another barrel exploded a second later, and instantly it was airborne. A bright ball of hot fuel came crashing down just behind Saddler, and still he kept walking. Another explosion came from above, and another flaming barrel came crashing down. It landed just a couple feet next to Saddler, and the loud, jarring noise of crashing metal filled the air. A third barrel immediately followed, this one landing even closer, a foot away from Saddler. The immense heat and flame should've instantly stopped him.

But he still walked, immune to the smoke and flame.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Two more barrels exploded and were launched into the air, crashing hard to the ground below. The force of the explosions caused the exit to come crashing down, adding to the screaming noise. However, she bought Leon some time--the flaming pile of rubble trapped the exit, forcing Saddler to a halt.

Finally!

The robed figure turned around and glared angrily at her, gazing at her with his inhuman eyes. With the exit trapped, Ada was now going to have to confront Saddler and engage him in battle. She had hoped Leon would do it for her, but no matter now. She bought him time to escape, bought him time to leave this hell. It had gone completely against what Wesker wanted, but to hell with him and his agenda. She clearly wanted Leon to get out alive, perhaps to meet again under better circumstances. It was Saddler who had the parasite sample anyway--and she was going to get it.

Saddler let out an angry yell, then broke out into another impossible glide, aided by the parasites coursing through his body. This was going to be fun.

Bring it on, Saddler. Let's see what you've got!