Leon's fingers wearily gripped the handlebars of the jetski as he forced himself to stay focussed. Ashley had been asleep for hours, her arms still wrapped around his torso and her head leaning against his back. Leon couldn't remember how long he had been staying awake, but it was pitch black out on the open seas, and the only thing to guide his way forwards was the small amount of light shining off the stars above. That, and the fire from the island.
As Leon risked glancing over his shoulder, he shuddered. Despite having been travelling for hours upon end, he could still see the fires in the distance of the island, and not far from it, he could see the old castle he had explored, also alight. As he saw more smoke, even further away, he realised that Ada had probably set explosives in the village as well. Everything he had gone through, all the villages, caves, and people he had fought, they would all be burning to the ground.
It was over.
But a voice was still in the back of Leon's head. The voice that was doubtful. Not about Leon's skills, or his bravery, but about the mission itself. The truth was, as Leon quickly checked behind him to make sure that Ashley was still secure, he was beginning to wonder whether he'd really done the right thing.
True, he'd become attached to Ashley over the mission, and he was definitely relieved that he'd got her out of the situation alive, but he knew as well as she did deep down that when she got back home, they would probably never see each other again. After all, after an incident like this, the President was hardly going to let his daughter keep in touch with a… a…
Leon frowned. After all of his work, he still didn't really know what he was. A soldier, mercenary, spy, or secret serviceman? Shaking the thought out of his head to keep himself from getting sidetracked, he tried to keep his focus on the jetski, but he still couldn't help feeling like he could have done more. Had he even stopped the problem of the virus? Ada had managed to get the sample, and would no doubt deliver it back to Wesker. Leon had no idea what Wesker would need it for, but was pretty sure that he wasn't trying to make a cure.
Feeling angry with himself, Leon cursed silently as the thought that he could have done more entered his head and refused to leave. He could have tried to kill Saddler the first time he saw him, or he could have stopped himself from letting Ada take the sample. She'd had a gun to his head, but he'd been in worse situations and managed to escape. His actions could have caused a universal outbreak of the virus; a pandemic, even the end of mankind! For a second, Leon was so distracted that he lost his grip on the jetski, and he swore loudly as he almost fell, just gripping back onto the handlebars in time.
Shaking that thought out of his head too, Leon couldn't stop thinking about the victims of the outbreak. Luis, impaled by Saddler as he gave to Leon the drugs that kept the parasites from growing too much inside Leon and Ashley. Mike, the emergency back-up helicopter operator, killed by a rocket launcher by Saddler's right-hand man. Worst of all, the Ganados, the innocent Spanish villagers forced to house the parasites until they lost control of their bodies to the evil growing inside them.
Leon hadn't spared a thought to the Ganados for most of his mission, but when he was briefly under the control of the parasite, and he'd tried to choke Ada, his point of view changed drastically. He could tell what he was doing, and he wanted to stop, but he was no longer in control of his body. The parasite had taken over, but luckily for Leon, Ada wasn't one who would let herself be killed easily.
But it was still at that moment when Leon realised that the Ganados weren't evil. They weren't even bad guys, they were just pawns that Saddler had infected with the virus. They were innocent people who had lived peaceful lives before being the victims of a sadistic experiment, and they had died for it. As Leon looked back remorsefully at the island again, he was surprised to see that he had finally driven far enough for it to be completely out of sight, though not out of mind.
A loud crashing sound distracted Leon as he turned around just in time to be tossed off the jetski. Expecting to land in a splash of water, he didn't have time to scream before thudding against hard ground. Forcing himself to sit up, he heard a high-pitched scream followed by another thud and heavy breathing, letting Leon know that Ashley had landed as well. The jetski had finally made it to land, but unfortunately run aground.
"Ashley, are you ok?"
"I think so," came the weak response, as Ashley crawled closer to Leon, "Something hit my head."
As Ashley finally got close enough for Leon to see her through the darkness, he saw a small trickle of blood running down her forehead and shuddered. Forcing himself to move again, he looked around and eventually found his old case. Pulling it open, he picked out a first aid spray and threw it to Ashley. He was about to shut the case again when something caught his eye.
Closing one section of his attaché case, he found what he was looking for; the place where he kept all of the items he thought were important. Keys, Insignias, and anything worth selling all went in here, and for a second, he regretted coming across a few jewels that he hadn't been able to sell before escaping. Then, he found something he had stored at the beginning of his mission. Looking through one of the bookshelves in the village where he had started, he'd found a photo album. He didn't have time to read it, but he shoved it in the case in the hope that it might provide him later with answers to why the locals were attacking him. He didn't know about the virus, and as soon as he found out about it, he promptly forgot about the photo album, but he had just remembered about it.
Leon was too curious to answer Ashley's question, but let her crawl over and sit down next to him as her eyes fell on the photo album as well. Opening it, Leon was surprised to see a peaceful picture. It was the village, before the incident with the virus. A few children were playing in the street whilst more villagers were out and about, carrying on with their everyday lives. There was a sentence underneath, but it was in Spanish, and neither Leon nor Ashley understood it.
Turning the page, Leon found the next picture. A few villagers were chopping wood, but not in the hateful way that Leon had grown accustomed to after facing so many of them. There were smiles, even a few laughing faces amongst the workmen. On the next page, a father was teaching his son how to milk a cow. Again, all smiling faces. No sign of misery, distress or anger to be found anywhere.
The next page was a family at dinner time, the mother of a small child dishing up food as the eager infant grabbed at it desperately, much to the amusement of the laughing father figure and his smiling friend. The next page depicted a young girl, distressed by something, finding comfort from her mother, who held the young girl's hand and was speaking to her softly. Even though the picture couldn't show how the mother was speaking, or if the woman even was the girl's mother, it was clear to Leon. The next page was filled with more happy images that would have been delightful if they weren't all so morbidly in the past.
Workmen were filling crates with fruit from the nearby trees, presumably to feed their families. An old man was playing guitar on his porch, with children gathered around him, listening as he plucked out an upbeat song and let the children sing along with him. The picture seemed strangely familiar to Leon, and it was only then that he recognized the man playing guitar as the first villager he'd met who had come at him with a hatchet. The next page featured a simple picture with a merchant walking into the village with a cow pulling a cart laden with supplies. Even the animals seemed happy.
Turning to the next page, Leon felt his blood boil. The Spanish caption simply read 'Saddler', and Leon felt rage welling up inside of him as he saw the smug look on Saddler's face as he stepped out in front of the peaceful villagers and shouted orders to them. They looked horrified, and Leon guessed that Saddler had a weapon somewhere, especially judging the body slumped against the wall that was behind him. However, Leon's anger became even stronger as he turned the next page and saw the caption, 'Las Plagas'.
An innocent villager, anxious and afraid, was seated on an old wooden chair whilst two men in masks restrained him. Another man was preparing an injection, much to the subject's dismay, but there was nothing he could do to stop them. On the next page, no caption this time, but the picture of a distraught woman standing by an old, dirty stove while her child lay motionless, killed by the parasitic injection. Leon knew why there was no caption; by this time, the villagers would have lost or forgotten the skill of writing.
On the penultimate page, the parasite had grown inside one villager to the point that he couldn't eat, and had excused himself from the dinner table, clutching his stomach while his family looked on in concern. On the final page, villagers were recoiling in terror as one parasite had finally grown to the point where it had burst from under a man's neck, severing his head completely. As Leon slammed the book shut, he heard Ashley whimper, apparently holding back tears, and he angrily through the album back on the ground next to his case, muttering words that Ashley couldn't make out except for 'Saddler', and 'Bastard'.
Sensing Leon's rage, Ashley attempted to calm him down.
"You know Leon, you did the right thing by killing them."
Leon's angry glance told Ashley that she probably wasn't helping, but she gulped and kept going anyway.
"Think about it. Those people were peaceful and happy. Don't you think they'd rather die than be under the parasite's control, killing other people for them?"
Leon sighed. "I guess so, but they could have still lived. We had the virus, and we still lived."
"We had help, we had Luis."
Leon sighed again, but Ashley didn't want him to let the darkness of the situation overshadow his success in the mission.
"Leon, you saved me, you've saved millions of lives, and you stopped Saddler. You're a hero!"
"I'm not," spoke Leon, strongly but calmer, "Luis was the hero. He wasn't trying to kill the villagers like I was. He was trying to cure them."
"Saddler killed Luis, and you killed Saddler. That makes you the hero."
Leon stayed silent until Ashley changed the subject.
"Where are we now?"
"No idea," Leon began as he held out his hand, "But we should probably find out."
As Ashley took Leon's hand, he forced himself to crack a smile to convince her that he'd cheered up, but as she walked a few paces ahead of him, dragging him behind her, he turned around for one last look at the islands, which were just visible on the horizon. Leon remembered the innocent villagers, the infected bystanders, but most of all, Luis.
And Leon knew that no matter what he did, he could never shake the feeling that the real heroes of his adventure had all been left dead on the islands.