DISCLAIMER: Please, no one sue me! I do not own any of the original Streets of Rage characters. I have merely adapted the game series storyline to aid my overactive imagination. I have been a huge fan of the Sega series since childhood and this is purely a fanfic for my own and online readers enjoyment. I did however create the character Ali Stone and should anyone wish to use her please ask me first, thanks. Helpful and encouraging reviews are most welcome but please, nothing too hideous!
His heart thumped loudly within his chest, beating almost as fast as his legs which were sprinting through the tall trees. Twigs, leaves and bark crunched beneath his black boots, but he would not even dare to stop and retie his left shoe lace that was loosening. He was unsure if he was still being chased, uncertain if he had lost them. It had been more than ten minutes since he last heard them shoot their hand guns and he was now almost at the house. Another couple hundred metres perhaps. He knew the wooded area would come to an end soon, and then, only then could he stop running. Once the road commenced he would have reached the quiet residential estate. The smooth tarmac path to the house. Her house.
They would have to disappear together. They had talked of running away before although it had gone anything but to plan. But this time was different. This time there was no other choice for them. He loved her more than anything or anyone in his life, he wanted to keep her safe and well. He wanted so badly to be able to protect her from everything in the world that could possibly cause her harm, and yet he knew that very easily he could fail her.
The two children were almost grown up, would they come with them? Perhaps not. They would most likely wish to remain with their father. Her husband. What would he do when he discovered they were gone? Would he come looking for them? Would they always have to live as fugitives, both of them desperately trying to shake off their past existence and start a fresh. Together.
They would have to leave New York behind, that was certain. Would they leave America too? Maybe. They could settle somewhere quiet, spend their ever looming retirement years on a peaceful beach in the Mediterranean, or eating bagels each morning in a bistro in Europe…they could do anything, he would do anything…for her.
The crunching noise stopped only to be replaced with a sound of the dash of pebbles. The ground was now flat, smooth and dark. The grass had stopped growing here and his feet now stood on solid tarmac. A wide street was clearly visible on the other side of the wired fence that was directly in front of him. What lay on the other side was the beginning of the avenue, he had made it.
The sun scorched his already red face as he awkwardly climbed over the barbed parameter, squeezing himself through the small gap, each wire only centimetres from the tip of his nose. He tried not to cut himself anymore than he already had been scratched by the brambles and nettles. The ones that grew from the forest had been trampled by the weight of his heavy boots as he had run, almost out of breath. But some thistles were sly, they sneakily peeked out from the long thinner branches of the many trees that covered the wood, leaving tiny tears and dots of red along both his bare arms.
He managed to half fall half jump to the other side, coming down quite hard on his left leg. The landing sent a wave of pain through his heel right up to his hip bone, causing him to groan out loud and even his eyes filled with water. He swore to himself as he tried to stand up straight, attempting to readjust himself a little better. He puffed and panted and tried to get his breath back. His back was stiff and sore but again he tried in vain to keep his balance. He was so close now. So very close.
The beatings and torture he knew he would suffer if he got caught could not even be put into words. No human should ever have to go through what Dr. Zan Gilbert would be faced with. He had been witness to the torment and wretched sorts of punishments that were inflicted on anyone who double crossed the syndicate. He would not let himself get caught. He would get his love and they would commence their new life together. A whole new life. He could actually say goodbye to this one forever, something he was most grateful for. With that thought in his head he managed to turn the corners of his thin lips upwards into a small smile.
He brushed his dirt stained hands down over his loose shirt and trousers. They too were dirty but he had no time to spruce up. He was here now. This was urgent. He crossed the street and avoided making eye contact with the few children who played outside their homes, some on bikes and others jumping on the hopscotch drawn out on the pavement in purple chalk. Some went about playing their games, one or two just stared at the grubby looking white bearded man who had mysteriously emerged from the hedges.
He walked on a few feet until he got to the bend in the familiar looking neighbourhood, but he looked quizzically ahead as he heard sobbing coming from someone nearby. The street was almost empty of people, only a couple of residents on the long estate were outside their homes, but it was not them who cried out. A petit looking lady stood at the end of a garden, her face buried into her hands and a yellow handkerchief stuck out between each of her fingers. At first sight he thought it was her. They shared the same blonde hair and similar figure. But as he got closer he felt prompted to duck behind a large hedgerow that lined the wall of the garden next to him. He continued to watch the woman weep while she was comforted by a tall young man. He couldn't be much more than eighteen. He had his arms wrapped firmly around the middle aged woman and he too looked extremely distressed.
There was an ambulance parked two houses down from where the two sorrowful people stood, and people in navy blue uniforms were exiting the house that stood at the top of the garden. One of the paramedic team came out into the daylight, head hung, and walked straight towards the young man and the small woman. He placed a hand on her shoulder and spoke to her, but she did not seem to notice. The boy kept his eyes fixed on the ground and nodded his head silently. The other two medics emerged from the front door of the house. Between them they were wheeling a stretcher out to the ambulance. A person was laid out on it. A woman. Zan's heart, which had only started to relax now began to quicken its pace, once again beating rapidly in his chest. He knew it. He just knew it. That terrible sinking feeling started to form in his stomach, similar to the feeling you get when you've lost something valuable and you are frantically trying to locate it but to no avail.
The paramedics had now pushed the stretcher out onto the road at the rear of the ambulance, spinning it around in order to open the back doors. Then he saw her. It was her. Lying on the stretcher, he could see her face. Her usually beautiful radiant face was now blue in colour and totally lifeless. He was just close enough to see his precious love for one last second, before the long black bag was zipped up over her, covering her features, and her long blonde hair.
A lump had become lodged in his throat and he felt tears quickly slide down over his aged face. He was too late. They had gotten to her first, and now she was gone. Two weeks ago he had told her they would start their life together soon, as all he ever wanted to do was to hold her, kiss and embrace her. But he would not get that chance ever again. She was dead. His sweetheart, the only woman he had ever given his heart to, his most precious angel.
His sadness almost instantly turned to livid anger as he watched his beloved be taken up into the ambulance and the doors shut behind her. It drove off, slowly down the street and out of the estate. The paramedic who had spoken with the two people in the garden had obviously gone with it, although Zan had not noticed. The young boy was still standing with his arms around the shoulders of the wailing woman, and he realised then who the boy was. Her son. His lovers son. He actually looked quite like her. Same hair colour, similar complexion, good looking. From what he could see they had the same smoothly curved nose too. And although his face was mournful there was something else in the young man's expression. Something that came through in his eyes.
Zan had now moved closer and closer along the corner wall, remaining out of sight but almost forgetting that he might be seen if he neared any further. He knew that look. It was exactly how he felt. It was rage, fury, a look that if it could speak it would say it wanted vengeance. But the boy did not utter a word. He just remained in his stance, gritting his teeth and watching the road, although the ambulance was no longer in view.
The scientist's mind was made up there and then. A payback was in order. Yes, retaliation was the only way to go. It would not bring his princess back, he was under no illusion about this. But the syndicate had to be stopped, once and for all. It could not be rushed, oh no, and looking down at his arms and legs he knew that he himself was not physically fit enough given his aged and worn out body. But the boy, yes, the boy…he was much more suitable.
Zan stayed watching for a while longer, feeling slightly numb after what he had witnessed. Eventually the woman who had been crying went into the house, dabbing her eyes with the handkerchief as she went. But the boy remained. He just stayed staring at the road for another couple of minutes. When he finally turned around to go inside, he looked over to where Zan was now raising himself from his position on the ground. Their eyes met and they held each others gaze for a moment. The young mans eyes were red and his cheeks looked flushed. It was clear that he too had shed some tears. He pulled his eyes away from Zan and went into the house, shutting the door firmly behind him.
Zan was now completely and utterly on his own. He had no one in the world to turn to. He was so angry, he wanted revenge on those who killed his beauty. As he made a move to walk away he started to try and form some sort of a plan. He would have to lay low for a long time, he could not risk being taken back to work in the lab. But he also could not let the experiments there continue. 'Experiments', if you could call them that. The more accurate word would be torture chamber. He tried to think clearly as he quickened his pace out of the estate, but it was hard to stay on track with his thoughts. He needed a plan. He was unsure of the beginning and most of the nitty gritty bits in between. But he knew the ending.
Mr. X was going to die.