Welcome to Resident Evil Legends Part Seven: Aftermath. This is the final part in the Legends Saga.
Part Seven picks up pretty much where Part Six left off. Those readers familiar with the Legends Saga should be able to jump right into the story. For those new readers who haven't had a chance to read the previous installments, or longtime readers who simply want a quick reminder, let me sum up the current state of affairs:
Raccoon City is destroyed. Jill Valentine defeated the Nemesis and escaped with Carlos Oliviera by helicopter. Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, and Sherry Birkin managed to escape by truck after a devastating explosion apparently killed Sherry's father William. Ada Wong, believed to be dead, escaped as well, along with former Umbrella commando Hunk. And Albert Wesker, who escaped from the city long before, has not been heard from in some time and his whereabouts are unknown ...
The man seated at the large rectangular desk stared at the printed statement in front of him and ignored the crowd of people packed into his office. He was tall and thin, but not athletically so, with graying hair at his temples and soft, expressive gray eyes that had made him popular with the public. Although there were bags under his eyes now, and they were slightly bloodshot since he had been awake for so long. A team of makeup artists had managed to hide the worst of it, making him appear appropriately photogenic, as the public expected him to be. But it had been a very long day and a longer night, and he could not hide his weariness. His hands trembled almost imperceptibly as he ran his finger along the edge of the papers.
Packed into the Oval Office were his family, his closest advisors and members of his Cabinet, several other high ranking officials of both parties, as well as technicians and the cameramen and the director. Two large television cameras dominated the center of the room, and at least half a dozen other photographers were standing in the background, ready to snap pictures at a moment's notice. A select number of journalists, reporters, and other news writers were in the office as well, with tiny audio recorders hanging from their wrists and notebooks in their hands. And nearly invisible among them due to their omnipresence, were a small army of Secret Service agents.
He scanned the opening lines of the speech in front of him for the thousandth time. He didn't really need it printed out, since it would be shown on the teleprompter for him to read, but it was good to have a copy on the desk as well, to give him something to do with his hands.
His wife, standing to the side of one of the cameras, forced a brave smile and nodded to him, their two young children there as well, completely ignorant of what was going on. They were used to standing around during these sort of meetings, but they were too young to understand the significance of what was about to happen. He tried to think about his children, wondering if someday they would look back on these events with the benefit of hindsight, and whether they would feel pride or disgust for their father in this defining moment.
And more importantly, how was the American public going to react? It was almost a foregone conclusion that this would effectively end his unfortunately short Administration, but the question remained as to just how quickly it would end. Would it end in the next election, or would it end this very day? Would it end in the voting booth, in a massive public protest, or would it possibly end with a bullet? The future was impossible to even guess. He was entering completely uncharted waters here, and trying to anticipate the public's reaction to the events of the last 24 hours would be a futile effort.
There was no way to lessen the impact, no way to sugar coat it. To even attempt to soften the blow might as well be political suicide. He had to face it head-on and bear the consequences. If his Administration was going to survive this catastrophe, he had to stand and face the aftermath like a lone person standing up against a tidal wave.
Finally, he sighed and glanced at the director. He nodded silently and the director immediately signaled the cameraman, holding up his index finger to start the countdown.
The red light blinked on above the camera, indicating that they were now transmitting live all across the country, and in fact all over the world. The entire room was now focused solely on him, and he stared into the camera like a man facing a firing squad.
"My fellow Americans," he said gravely, his voice quavering but resolute, "I am here today to tell you something that no President has ever wanted to have to tell his country. The news I have is terrible and tragic, and although I am certain that we will face this event with the same strength and fortitude that has made this nation so great, I can only hope that the American people will come to understand the reasons that this tragedy took place."
He took a deep breath, glanced down at the papers in front of him, and felt as if he had lost his voice. But he continued, "Early this morning, a nuclear weapon was launched and detonated over American soil. But this was not the act of an enemy nation or a terrorist organization, and it was not an accident or a mistake. It is my duty to inform you that … I am the one who authorized the use of that nuclear weapon. I cannot express in words how much it pains me to tell you this, but I ordered a nuclear weapon to be fired over an American city."
The words hung in the air like a cloud of poisonous gas. It was out in the open now, and there was no putting it back. He took another nervous breath and stared helplessly into the camera. His eyes, once the warm and gentle eyes that the public found comfort in, were now panicked and guilt-stricken, like the eyes of an accused man up against a corrupted jury. A confession such as this would have crippled him even in private, but he was making the announcement to the entire world. Millions of people were listening to him.
"Two days ago," he said in a fragile monotone, "a small town called Raccoon City was exposed to a highly contagious, extremely dangerous biological contaminant. There was an advanced medical laboratory in Raccoon City operated by the Umbrella Corporation, where they studied different diseases in the hopes of finding new cures and treatments. In their research, they studied mutated versions as well, and it was one such mutated version that somehow infected one of their employees. Exactly how this happened is unknown."
His hands trembled once more as he continued, feeling sweat drip down his back. "This single employee unknowingly spread the disease into the city, where it very rapidly infected other people. It spread almost immediately through personal contact, and spread through the city at an exponential rate. Half the city was exposed to the disease within 24 hours."
The words on the teleprompter seemed to blur, so he glanced down at his papers, although he didn't need to read them. Reading a prepared speech seemed pointless; he would be better off just saying what happened in his own words. He let go of the papers and fumbled with his hands, eventually managing to fold them in front of him.
"This disease was … it was unlike anything that has ever been seen before. Less then 36 hours after someone is exposed to it, they become affected by the most … terrible symptoms. I cannot even describe it to you … but there were a few people who survived this epidemic, and their stories will horrify you. I have seen images of the infection, and believe me when I tell you that this disease is the most awful thing you would ever witness ..."
He took a deep breath, and continued, "Despite the best efforts of the local government in Raccoon City, and the brave sacrifices of hundreds of people in their attempts to halt the spread of the disease, all of Raccoon City soon became overrun with those who became infected. It was not possible to contain the spread of the disease any longer, because it spread too fast. Unless immediate, drastic action was taken, the disease threatened to spread outside the city limits of Raccoon City and possibly infect neighboring towns and cities."
His voice took on a desperate, pleading note, and he stared directly into the camera, as if trying to speak to every single viewer individually. "If there had been any conceivable way to stop this disease from spreading farther, I promise that we would have tried it. But we had to take action, we had to do what had to be done, in order to protect the lives of thousands, if not millions, of more innocent victims. Any delay, any wasted time, could result in further death and suffering."
His wife was crying now, tears streaming down her cheeks, and his children stared at him in uncomprehending worry. The journalists and reporters stared in horror as the words sunk in, and his own advisors could not disguise their dismay and disbelief.
"What I had to do will haunt me for the rest of my life," he said, his voice quavering. "I had to order the only possible solution, the only possible way to stop this disease from infecting more people. I ordered a nuclear missile to be dropped on Raccoon City. I could not make this decision without the most profound sadness, and even though I strongly believe it was the only possible course of action, I will never be able to erase the guilt I feel.
"In the coming days and weeks, you will see for yourself the terrible devastation that this disease was capable of, and understand the impossible choice that I was faced with. I was forced to give an order than no one would ever want to give … but the alternatives were worse."
His voice felt dry and he knew he could not speak for much longer without breaking down completely. But he continued, his voice growing weaker. "All I can do now is pray for the lives of the people who died, and beg for your understanding and your forgiveness. The American people are strong, and I know they will deal with this terrible tragedy with courage, and sympathy, and hope. This great nation will survive this catastrophe, and the memories of those we have lost will never be forgotten.
"God Bless America," he whispered, his eyes welling over with tears. "God Bless us all."
The camera's light blinked out.