RESIDENT EVIL X SILENT HILL: JUDGMENT DAY
written by Charles Spencer,
inspired by Ygure
"AMONGST THESE BLEAK SATANIC STREETS"
Black Falls, Vermont...even in the most hopeless darkness, there can be glimmers of light.
What was once a secondhand furniture store in this fallen town. Caroline Floyd slowly returned to awareness again...she felt a little better as her eyes opened and she saw Karena LesProux, her blue-illuminated face shrouded by her biohazard mask. Her upper body was rested in the French-born warrior's lap upon her crossed legs as she was also cradled gently, protectively by the agent in black. Karena smiled and said, "Bonjour."
Caroline smiled back and said, "Hey."
On her other side, she saw Leon and Helena side by side close by...Anne wasn't much further away, but her expression showed her quiet gratitude toward the lady Ranger, the same as the others. Helena knelt next to her and said, "You've only been out a few minutes, Caroline. Karena treated you with some Green Herb for your injuries. It should be okay to help you stand..." Caroline nodded, feeling a lot better than she did before she lost consciousness. Both Karena and Helena helped the Ranger on her feet...Helena bowed deeply and said, "Thank you, Caroline."
Leon was next to her then and nodded earnestly, as well. He said humbly, "Thank you for saving us."
Caroline appreciated the thanks, but she shook her head...there was such a note of sadness in her eyes. "I don't deserve any thanks. I wanted to save Marissa, too." She wanted to see the redhead one more time, say goodbye to her like she did to Vladamir Borovski before they had to abandon his body in that bar...she looked at her boss and asked, "Leon, where is her body...?"
An awkward tension suddenly filled the air as the others looked at her. Leon couldn't look at Caroline at all as he told her, "Her body is...gone, Caroline. We have no idea what happened to her. One minute Marissa's body was there on the floor, then that air raid siren sounded and..."
Caroline needed more than that and pressed: "And what? Where is she?!"
Leon managed to look at her and said, "As everything turned into...into this, Marissa disappeared." Caroline stared lasers into him. "I'm serious, she just faded away at the same time everything changed around us!"
Not believing it, deeply afraid of believing, Caroline said, "Leon, that sounds crazy!"
"It happened, Caroline," Karena said. "We all saw it happen before our eyes." Close by, Helena nodded, also supporting Leon. Caroline suddenly felt more scared than ever.
Leon growled, "I have no idea how to explain it, goddamn it...but maybe our advisor can give us a little help!" He suddenly turned to Anne Cunningham, who stood slightly apart from the others...her expression was neutral, and deliberately so. Leon slowly began to approach the petite prison guard from Maine and asked, "What happened to Marissa, Anne? What's happening to this town? I can presume that this change, all of this blood and darkness isn't limited to this house?!"
Anne looked at him and said simply, "You're right. This is happening to all of Black Falls, just like Silent Hill. But right now, we need to get the hell out of here."
Agitated, Leon almost barked, "Not yet! You've got to know more than that! How in the name of god is The Order doing this!?"
Anne sighed deeply, trying to keep her own patience as she folded her arms across her breast. Again, very simply, she responded, "I can't help you there."
Only a foot away from the lady, Leon S. Kennedy had enough. He'd just lost a good friend. He and people he cared about were in the middle of a horror show he could only grapple at understanding. Leon blew up in front of Anne and shouted, "BULLSHIT! For godsake, if you've seen this in Silent Hill, then -- !"
Anne suddenly surprised Leon by taking a defiant step up to him and she screamed into his face, "THAT DOESN'T MEAN I KNOW A GODDAMN THING ABOUT IT, YOU ASS!"
In that incendiary moment, thankfully, someone literally stepped in. Karena LesProux was there and put a warm yet firm hand on each of their shoulders. As Caroline and Helena watched, the masked woman in black wanted to mediate things fast. Karena said to them both, "Please settle down! We all need to keep our heads...it's the only way any of us will live through this!" Thankfully, Karena's invertention made both Leon and Anne visibly cool...but to a moderate simmer.
With quiet anger, Anne Cunningham said to Leon, "Maybe you could TRY to remember: I told you I never understood how or why the things I saw in Silent Hill happened, I just barely lived through it! I am here to help you if the same things were happening in THIS town, but I need answers, too!" Anne took a couple of steps backward from Leon to look around her...to look at the windows at the wet black outside. Her eyes full of apprehension, she said hesitantly, "It has a different feel here compared to what I remember, though. I saw this darkness before, and it was raining...but the rain was pouring down more than it is now." Her eyes closed as she tried to compose herself. "Before, it felt like a prison...now it looks even worse...!"
Fighting his own fear that threatened to overwhelm him, Leon's best instincts told him that the prison guard was telling the truth...fantastic as it was. He managed, "A-all right. No, it's not all right! This IS crazy...first fog that wouldn't go away, the monsters like nothing I've ever seen, and now this town shifting from one form to another...and Marissa..." His heart heavy with a grief that didn't quite override his fears, Leon asked Anne, "Do you have any idea what happened to Marissa?" Helena, Caroline and Karena looked at the prison guard needfully, as well.
But to their disappointment, the green-eyed girl shook her head slowly...Anne said quietly, "No. If it helps at all, being in Silent Hill...being here...it's like being in a different world." So close to the truth. So close. "This place, it may even have an affect on us if we're not careful."
Leon frowned. "I don't understand. You mean with us hearing and seeing things we can't explain?" It had happened before, during the fog. Leon and Helena both heard the voice of Helena's dead sister, Deborah Harper. Saw her image on the unplugged television screen.
The memory of Murphy Pendleton transforming before her eyes into a monster was vivid in Anne's memory, but she kept that to herself. Even after what happened to Black Falls, she doubted they would have believed her. Still, Anne counseled ominously, "It goes a helluva lot deeper than that, Leon. All I can say is, just as long as none of us have anything that...haunts us, we should be okay. And maybe it's a good thing Marissa isn't here anymore, maybe it means..."
Leon asked, "What? What are you thinking?"
Anne fixed her gaze on Leon and told him, "I've had my own ideas about what's going on, but telling you won't help. It's only what I feel to be true. And you'd probably think I was crazy." She'd always had her own thoughts about what the spectral shifts in Silent Hill meant, and they were only made stronger by what Douglas Cartland and Cybil Bennett told her of their own experiences. About what the darkness meant, especially to those who live and die within it.
"After everything I've seen, don't be surprised if I'll want to know anyway."
Caroline Floyd looked at Leon, her eyes full of purpose. The Ranger said to her leader, "I know this to be true, Leon: we should listen to her. Right now, all that matters is seeing this mission through. We do what Marissa would have wanted. We survive, make things right again -- if possible -- and we destroy The Order."
Leon nodded warmly. He pronounced, "Our first priority is still finding Rebecca Chambers and Cheryl Mason. Maybe they can help us understand all of this, too." He considered his fellow survivors and said, "Everyone, get your gear in order. Caroline, we're going to hold out here briefly until we're sure you're healed up -- "
Anne Cunningham suddenly shouted, "No!" The others stared at her. "I tried to tell you before, we need to get out of this place as fast as we can." She hesitated for an awkward beat before she continued: "Please, please don't think I've lost my mind now, but chances are good these assholes are going to get up again and try to kill us!" She gestured at the bodies of the Order Soldiers on the fenced floor.
The others stared at her. Helena said nervously, "Anne, these terrorists are dead. You can see that, right?"
Anne didn't yield an inch and insisted, "Well, they're gonna come back. When the darkness is here, death doesn't mean shit. Anytime now, they -- !"
The five survivors were immediately surprised by the strangled cry that came from one room away. From the area where Caroline had killed the Order Soldier with her knife only minutes before. That Soldier, Louis, suddenly appeared at the doorway...Caroline only barely recognized him as she thought the bastard was supposed to be dead!
Louis had stumble-shuffled into view and almost collapsed on one side of the door frame, clutching at it with his arms. The sight of the terrorist was a ghastly one, and not simply because he was a bloody sight, the gory puncture of Caroline's knife still clearly visible under his chin. 'Still' because Louis was changing -- reanimated, he appeared to be in tremendous pain as he was gradually transforming into...something. His skin was paling to become sickly gray as his arms grew longer...he was also getting visibly taller before the stunned eyes of Leon and the others. The worst part of the change was what was happening to his face. It was swelling as its features distorted and sank...it was taking a horrid nocturnal shape... Virtually blind at the moment, the thing that was once Louis still managed to sense the agents in the room...with a hideous screech, the thing dislodged from the doorway and began toward them.
But Caroline Floyd stopped it cold with a headshot from her silenced .45 pistol. It felt surreal to her to kill the same asshole twice in one day. The thing fell, but its body was still twitching and spasming gruesomely. And it was still changing...Anne Cunningham remembered seeing creatures like this Weeping Bat in Silent Hill, and her heart filled with dread.
Caroline stared at the thing for a beat and glanced at Leon...she said with quiet urgency, "Leon, we really, really should listen to our advisor."
Leon nodded grimly. However this was happening, they had to go before this creature got back up. They had to go before its dead comrades came back to life and changed into whatever the hell. He growled, "Yeah." He looked at Helena, Karena and Anne and said quickly, "Let's get our gear together and go! Now!" No one else needed to be told twice.
The weapons and gear stripped from the agents previously held hostage were left on a nearby antique coffee table, which with the changes became grimy and caked with blood. They all felt compounded sadness as they distributed Marissa Ronson's equipment amongst themselves, leaving behind only her M249 Squad Automatic Weapon without its ammunition in a solemn show of respect. They already had more than enough weapons to load them down. They hoped. Like the other infiltration agents scattered through the nightmare landscape, they were keenly aware they were low on provisions like medical supplies and field rations. The way the situation was now, Leon had to wonder among all of the other things he had to worry about if any water and food was available anywhere. They had to find some way to get to the heart of this crisis and end it fast, and they had already lost far too much time.
Helena Harper was as quiet as the others as she gathered her gear, starting with her Hydra triple-barrel shotgun. She thought it was unusual that even though everything else changed, it seemed their weapons weren't altered in the slightest way. What did that mean? But inevitably, her thoughts turned inward to the ghosts that relentlessly haunted her, chief among them her sister, Deborah. She still felt such guilt for all she did to try to save her sister. The anguish within her was still terribly raw from letting Deborah's hand go in that moment of pure finality deep under Tall Oaks. God, and now Marissa was gone and she never got the chance to know that no-nonsense firebrand --
It was something Helena only glimpsed at first. Leon was right behind her, but focused on checking his carbine. Anne, Caroline and Karena were close by, but also preoccupied.
At first, Helena thought it was a trick of the light...the darkness on the palm of her right hand.
Distracted, the former Secret Service agent brought her hand up to take a closer look, and Helena felt a lurch of sudden terror it took all of her inner strength to contain. It looked at first like a bruise, but it wasn't. It didn't ache at all. On the contrary it felt...increasingly numb. The discoloration was unusual, a grayish violet she thought looked so familiar...the fear within her increased as she realized why...
...at the same moment she also noticed it was very subtly growing bigger.
Helena heard Leon from behind her: "Helena?" The lady quickly clenched her right hand into a fist to hide the bruise from sight as the others looked at her, too. For Leon S. Kennedy, he'd noticed that Helena seemed to freeze for a moment and he worried if something was wrong. He asked, "Helena, is everything okay?"
Helena Harper quickly turned to Leon and nodded...she lied, "Yes, Leon. I'm okay." She and Leon briefly forgot something very important Anne tried to tell them before. Unfortunately.
It takes a certain kind of person to want to be a soldier.
There's a reason why military service is described as a calling...serving one's country, defending it and their beliefs, speaks to some of us on a deeper level than most. Being a soldier means committing all of oneself to the service of others, and most are hesitant to do so. Many choose not to because they have other goals, different ambitions. Others can't for medical reasons, they're just out of shape, or they don't have the character to adopt such a regimented life. Those who do enter that life become soldiers because they believe with all their hearts they're making a contribution to something far greater than themselves. Many also feel the call and answer it for the sake of testing themselves, because they thrive on challenge and the desire to excel.
That was the case for George Kishino when he enlisted in the United States Navy with the intention of joining its special forces unit known as the SEALs. Physically fit and quietly aggressive fresh out of high school, George had the kind of personality that made him excited to take on any trial that could test him physically. He actually looked forward to taking part in the SEALs' infamous Hell Week, appropriately named because of the relentlessly brutal regimens that veterans put new prospects through for seven nightmarish days. It was meant to separate the men from the boys, and George didn't realize immediately that Hell Week was both a physical and psychological test. When he did figure it out, he realized how stupid he had been. It took more than physical fitness and endurance to be a soldier, one had to have the grit and determination and inner fortitude to weather the worst, as well. George struggled at first. More than once, he almost quit. But it was a testament to George's character and bravery that he reached deeper into himself than he ever had in his life to find the strength to get through Hell Week. After that, comparatively speaking, the rest came much easier and the young man became part of the Navy's elite fighting force.
George was forged by his experiences into a recon specialist who earned the callsign Vector -- he had an amazing success rate for reaching his target (or 'vectoring in' as a buddy called it, which inspired his callsign) no matter what obstacles or enemies laid before him. He intended to be a 'lifer' in the Navy, but then the escalating threat of bioterrorism began to grip the world...the disaster of Raccoon City happened...and George shifted focus, understanding instinctively the gravity of that threat and someone had to be on the frontline, and just as importantly go beyond it to face these unique kinds of enemies. And he had years of experience in recon in the most hostile places on Earth. The first chance he had, he jumped at the opportunity to join the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance...ever since, shrouded in black with his signature biohazard mask, his ominous appearance was polar opposite to his noble desire to stop threats that would literally change the world if not dealt with.
But all of the experience George 'Vector' Kishino's earned in his years of military service, his confidence that he could hurdle any obstacle to achieve his goals, had been quietly fraying little by little since he entered Black Falls, Vermont. Its transformation from grey fog to hellish darkness only made matters worse, and his anxieties and fears were getting the best of him. Rebecca Chambers told Elza Walker that fear makes us do the wrong things. Case in point: overwhelmed with alarm and frustration, Vector pointed his SOCOM pistol at Douglas Cartland's face and yelled, "I knew you were holding out on us, old man! I fucking KNEW it!"
This turn came as a shock to not only the aged private investigator but to Claire Redfield, Sherry Birkin, and the earnest commando Rain as they all stood on a bleak streetcorner of this blasted, rusted, bloody landscape as it lightly rained on them. Jolted from trying to accept that they had plunged into this gothic darkness, Claire quickly snapped, "Vector, what are you doing!? Put your gun away!"
Surprisingly unperturbed by a gun being aimed at him -- he was far, far more frightened by other things at the moment -- Douglas said calmly, "You oughtta listen to the lady, kid. Getting pissed off won't help us right now -- !"
Vector took a step closer, and his automatic drew that much closer to his target as he shouted, "Screw YOU, Cartland! You knew this was going to happen!" He looked around at Claire, Sherry and Rain. "Goddamn it, don't any of you see?! This bastard and his buddies from Maine led us into a fucking trap!"
Douglas' expression tightened with outrage. "Whoa-whoa! You think I'm working with those Order scumbags?!"
Vector snarled, "You haven't done jack-shit for us ever since we started! You said you'd advise, right?!? GIVE ME ANOTHER GOOD REASON WHY YOU WANTED TO KEEP THIS AS A SURPRISE FOR US, YOU ASSHOLE!"
To his credit, the grizzled old timer almost laughed when he shot back, "You're pointing your gun in my face and I'm the asshole?"
"Vector!" The man turned to the voice of Sherry Birkin...the blonde girl was dismayed by what Vector was doing and cried, "Put your gun away like Claire said and calm down, please -- !"
Vector yelled at Sherry, "Shut up! I want answers from our so-called advisor, and I'm gonna get them!"
"You want answers, kid?" Vector's face whipped around fast to stare at Douglas again, and the old man stared back through narrowed eyes. "You want a good reason why I didn't say anything about this before? How does this sound? Let's pretend I did tell you everything I knew, I told you I was in a town where darkness fell at the drop of a hat and changed everything including the kitchen sink, and odds were good the same thing would happen here! What do you think would have happened? Your bosses wouldn't have allowed me to advise on a goddamn thing, I'd be in a padded room right now!" Douglas took a step towards Vector then, and the silenced bore of the recon man's gun was only an inch from touching the P.I.'s forehead. Douglas didn't care...his anger escalated with each word as he challenged, "You think I'm setting you up? Yeah, great idea! If that was true, I WOULDN'T BE STUPID ENOUGH TO WALK INTO THIS SHIT RIGHT ALONGSIDE YOU!"
Douglas and Vector stared each other down in a dangerous moment...broken by a soft, thoughtful voice from another source. The girl in black called Rain was surprisingly calm as she examined Douglas and she said, "You told us you're here because of one of the ladies we're looking for. Cheryl Mason." True to her name, she didn't seem to mind at all as she became visibly damp from the light rain...her face looked even more beautiful framed by her wet hair, in spite of everything.
Douglas looked at her in spite of Vector. "Yeah, and it's nice to know at least one of you remembers that. I care for that girl. I'd move heaven and earth for her. And yeah, I'd go through a nightmare again if it means Cheryl will be all right and we can help everyone in this damn town."
On this darkened street corner, illuminating each other only by their flashlights, Rain's eyes seemed as black as the darkness around them as she gazed at Douglas. It didn't even take a moment for the girl to decide. She believed the old man. Rain nodded and said, "Sounds good to me." The young commando then looked at the recon specialist from the BSAA and told him, "Vector, do what Claire told you and put your gun away."
Resistant, Vector harshly replied, "Fuck that! I'm not done!" He turned back to Douglas --
"HEY!" Rain's shout got Vector's attention again, and the young commando kept it because she brought up her MP5 submachine gun in both hands and was aiming it at him! The girl definitely wasn't in the mood for an argument. Rain said with building power, "I don't have to be polite because I'm not asking you, Vector! Put your gun away and fuckin' chill RIGHT NOW!" Vector only froze for a moment in reaction, incredulous.
Douglas looked at Claire and said conversationally, "Claire, you're in charge. You understand why I didn't say anything about this, right?"
Claire Redfield nodded. "Yes, I do."
The old man told her, "I really hoped this wouldn't happen, but now that it has, I can advise you that we're in a helluva lot more danger than we were before. The monsters we've been fighting will be bigger and nastier than they were before, so we need to keep moving and move fast to the hospital -- " Then, worst timing ever, Douglas' radio began to surge with static from one of his coat pockets. He winced and finished impatiently, "The LAST damn thing we should be doing is sitting in one place and having a stupid ARGUMENT!"
Claire moved to Vector...her lovely eyes bored into him as she asked, "Are you listening, Vector?"
Slowly, grudgingly, the man nodded and lowered his gun...Vector said with effort, "Yeah...yeah, I am!"
Claire then looked to everyone and yelled, "Then let's go! MOVE!"
Sherry Birkin looked around to see the first sign of whatever was making Douglas' radio react...and considering what they faced so far, she also looked skyward in every direction. She was glad she did because she caught sight of the incoming monsters approaching fast from the south. Sherry readied her Triple Shot as she screamed, "INCOMING!"
The girl pointed at what she saw, and everyone else looked in that direction. Douglas felt his stomach lurch as he growled, "More damn Air Screamers!" But even from a distance, everyone saw they looked different from the ones they shot down just before they lost Lawrence Kimbala hours ago. There were six of the things flying in a tight flock.
Claire Redfield yelled, "Take them down!" Everyone closed ranks into a huddled group and fired on the incoming creatures with their suppressed weapons, hoping to do some damage fast.
Two of them were shot multiple times and dropped hard very close by, one almost at Rain's feet. The girl stared at the creature and cried, "Jesus! They are bigger than the ones we shot before!" The Pterodactyl-humanoid monsters were the same size as an average adult human, about twice as big as they were in the fog...and nastier in appearance, as Douglas said. The Air Screamer's skin was virtually crimson, bloody and diseased. The survivors could only feel revulsion and fear from the sight of them.
"C'mon, you fuckers!" George 'Vector' Kishino was refocused again on what his true enemies were, and his zeal in seeing these monsters dead escalated. In his heart he regretted taking his frustrations out on Douglas, but right now there were bigger fish to fry. He could apologize to the old man later. The Air Screamers were getting closer, ever closer with each pass they made as they flapped and shrieked, but Vector and the others never flagged in their efforts to kill them. Another Air Screamer fell and Vector felt galvanized by enthusiasm and adrenaline as he yelled, "C'MON! I've got something for ya, so come and get it!"
Terribly, it was as if the monsters took the recon specialist up on his invitation...with a vengeance.
Two of the Air Screamers virtually fell on Vector, their huge membranous wings reaching out and incidentally knocking down Claire and Rain at the same time. The creatures began to tear into Vector, their beaked mouths bit into him as their strong legs lashed out -- the talons of their feet ripped through the man's body armor. And into his flesh. Vector cried, "Ah-AAAGGGHHHH!" Full of defiant fury, the soldier dropped his SMG and broke out his combat knife. Vector began to stab the Air Screamer he faced viciously in retaliation as he yelled, "Piece of...SHIT!"
Claire Redfield was picking herself back up as the remaining flying monster descended on her with a terrible shriek, but Sherry and Douglas blasted it. Claire had to roll on the rusty-bloody fencing under her FAST and barely dodged the thing's crash! Sherry quickly moved to Claire to help her, and Douglas heard Rain cry, "Vector!" He saw the young commando was back on her feet and looking at something with wide, shocked eyes.
Douglas looked at what Rain was witnessing, Vector was being killed, and instantly he didn't think of himself. He wanted to help the man, whether he pointed a gun in the P.I.'s face or not! He grunted, "Goddamn it! Hold on, kid -- !" But he couldn't even get close -- he was hit hard by one tough wing from one of the demonic beasts and he crashed down hard. "ARGH!"
Two angels were quickly there for him...just like that, Claire and Sherry were on either side of Douglas, ready to help him up. Sherry knelt next to the old man and began to reach out...she said breathlessly, "Douglas...!"
But the old man was fixed on a sight that would haunt him to his dying moment, and maybe beyond...he could only scream as he pointed at what he saw: "Forget about me, HELP HIM!"
It was a hellish melee he was looking at, Vector caught between two Air Screamers...every move was a blur, every moment bloody as the monsters literally tore into him, the talons of one tore open his stomach and his intensines were visible, but Vector was a true fighter and retaliated, he lashed out just as viciously with his knife as he screamed, "AAAAAHHHHH!" From another vantage, Rain tried to aim at the things with her SMG, but the horrified look on her face spoke volumes as she realized there was no way she could get a clear shot...she could hit the man she wanted to save as easily as either of the beasts. Claire aimed her M4 at the horrible sight, and terribly also had the same trouble. And Vector kept screaming...
Douglas Cartland watched and said thickly, "Oh, Jesus!"
Sherry Birkin could only scream, "VECTOR!"
And then the two Air Screamers began to take flight, and they carried Vector with them. He was still screaming, still fighting, but that wouldn't last for long because his blood was falling even heavier than the rain in the darkness of Black Falls as he lifted higher, higher into the black. Claire left Sherry and Douglas and moved to Rain. The lovely survivor and the girl in black were still aiming their guns at the horrible sight of Vector slowly being taken away.
Claire said mournfully, "I-I can't shoot, I might hit Vector! Rain?!"
Rain issued a ragged, emotion-filled sob from her lips. "I-I can't, either! We're losing him, Claire!"
Claire Redfield lowered her gun...her face tilted down as she closed her eyes. Tears mixed with the rain on her cheeks as the lady said, "No, Rain...we lost him."
The team led by Chris Redfield found brief shelter from the rain in a lurid, gruesome place that used to be a coffee house. The team's advisor, Cybil Bennett, was quickly and quietly telling the agents what she could about the new state of affairs in Black Falls. (Unfortunately, because there was so much her comrades wouldn't have believed, even in this mystical darkness, she couldn't say much.) Jill Valentine, Rain's mentor Regina, Christine Yamata and Hector Hivers could only do their best to absorb what Cybil could tell them...things were too uncertain, too nightmarishly bleak, and they were understandably distracted and on-edge. The fact one of them tried an experiment just before they reached this temporary shelter didn't help in ANY way, shape or form.
As Regina took point for the others, the big man Hector had kept looking down at the fencing that replaced much of the sidewalks and streets. The rusty, bloody linked steel didn't give at all as they walked on it, even under his considerable weight. But that wasn't what distracted Hector...it was what was underneath the fencing, depthless black, just like the sky. Hector had to grumble, "Am I the only one wondering what happened to the frickin' ground?"
Christine Yamata glanced at the armored man and sighed, "I think we have bigger things to worry about, Hector."
Hector said defensively, "I'd just like to know how deep this darkness is! The ground has to be down there somewhere, right? No one else's a little curious??"
Cybil Bennett looked at him. "It's just part of the changes that happened here," the lady cop said. "It won't do any good to think about any of this too much. I tried a long time ago, and I didn't get any answers."
Jill Valentine said, "Hector, focus. It's not like we can stop and find out how deep the darkness goes."
"Yeah, well, I'm a little more creative than that!" One of Hector's gauntleted hands reached to one of the pouches on his equipment belt around his thick waist...he got a plastic glow stick, dull in lifeless color at the moment. He stopped and said to his teammates, "Guys, hold up!"
Chris finally turned and looked at him as everyone else stopped, but impatiently. The team leader said, "Hector, we're not just going to -- !"
"Come on, this will literally take a second! Watch!" Holding it only in his big thumb and two fingers, Hector bent the glow stick and it snapped with an audible crack!, but it stayed in one piece. The chemicals that filled the stick mixed together, and the resultant chemical reaction created a brilliant yet diffuse blue light. The glow sticks were a fallback option in case they ran out of batteries for their flashlights, which was a long way from being necessary. Christine drew a little closer to watch out of curiosity. Then all the big man did was drop it through one of the countless diamond-shaped gaps in the fencing to watch it fall.
The bright blue stick pinwheeled down into the darkness for a second...and then longer as it fell further...further...further...over ten seconds passed by and it fell so far, the light could barely be seen. Then it seemed to wink out, devoured by the dark from a great, great depth below them. They never even heard a sound from down below. Hector Hivers wanted to know how deep the black went.
This wasn't the answer he expected. The big man managed, "Uh..."
Christine couldn't say anything...as nice as she was, though, the medic was strongly tempted to give Hector a kick in the ass.
With a dour expression, Chris barked, "Let's move, team!" In the coffee shop, the agents had a lot of questions. The police captain from Maine already told them to expect bigger and more horrifying monsters, but they wanted to understand more about how the town itself was affected in full, and she told them all she could. Cybil said that if Black Falls had become like Silent Hill in its worst darkness, utilities would be virtually nonexistent. Electric power would have been nil, with even fewer lights available in the area. They had to rely on their flashlights completely. If one wanted fresh water, it would have had to come in a prepackaged bottle. (Fortunately, the agents had enough provisions between them to last another 24 hours. But no longer.) What Cybil informed them to expect of plumbing and sewage prompted understandable, primal disgust. Those citizens of Black Falls who had survived thus far were basically thrown back to a condition approximate to the Dark Ages. And yes, telephone land lines, cell phones and any communications devices were still completely useless.
Hector Hivers was full of tension as he growled, "All of those goddamn changes happened in less time than it's taking you to tell us about it. I don't fucking get it, we might as well have dropped on another planet!" He couldn't help but wonder if the rain outside was just water, too. He hoped to god so.
"It is like we're in another world," Jill Valentine said softly. She had thought this town wasn't following the same rules the rest of the world was long ago, just because of the fog that wouldn't go away, that stayed static and covered Black Falls. And now a terrible darkness had taken its place. But...that didn't feel quite right, she thought. There was something more to this, something she didn't think of. Or maybe it was something she didn't want to imagine...? Jill set aside that thought, not knowing how close she was, and she said, "We still have to roll with the changes. We deal with this. We keep ourselves alive so we can find Rebecca and Cheryl and keep them safe. To make things normal again. Like Cybil said, they need help more than ever now."
Only one of the team wasn't visibly fixed on their advisor. Chris Redfield had taken a positon at one of the glassless windows of the place. He seemed to be watching the rainy dark streets (could they even have been called streets anymore?) outside for any signs of threat, even though Cybil still had her radio to give them early warning of encroaching terrors.
Regina, her posture deceivingly relaxed, looked at Cybil thoughtfully and said, "From the start, you've said Cheryl Mason is incredibly important to The Order. That they want to make her the Mother of their God." The redhead gazed directly into the police officer's eyes and asked, "But what exactly does that mean, Captain? I thought what they wanted her for was more symbolic than anything, but...they believe she can give birth to their God literally?"
Cybil looked back at Regina with saddened eyes. "Yes."
Hector said dismissively, "Bullshit! Ain't no way something like that could be possible. These Order assholes are looney-tunes!"
Cybil asked Hector, "What religion do you believe in, Agent Hivers?"
Hector stared at her...his face was fully concealed by his armor mask, but his tone was defensive: "Not like it's any of your damn business, lady, but I'm Catholic!"
"Okay. Do you believe everything you read in the Bible happened? From Genesis on down?"
"Of course I do, but -- !"
Cybil gently interrupted: "Do you believe the Virgin Mary was blessed with a child by immaculate conception, and then she gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem?"
"You believe God impregnating a woman with his son literally happened?"
A tense, quiet moment passed before Hector asked roughly, "What's your fuckin' point?"
Cybil said, "Don't be so quick to call something bullshit. You have your beliefs. They do, too. The fact they're looney-tune assholes doesn't necessarily mean their beliefs can just be discounted out of hand. Do you understand?"
Hector said hesitantly, "...Yeah, well, this Cheryl Mason can't be some modern-day Virgin Mary!"
"I didn't say she was. From what I know for a fact, The Order's God sure as hell isn't the one that created Heaven, Earth and everything." Cybil didn't say she saw The Order's 'god' up close, when she could only watch as Harry Mason destroyed the demonic bitch thirty years ago. "Just remember we're now in a town where things that shouldn't by all logic be happening are. Keep an open mind, that's all I'm saying."
Regina took the opportunity to ask, "You said this same shift to darkness happened sometimes in Silent Hill. How long will this last?"
Cybil Bennett told the commando, "When Silent Hill went through a similar shift from fog to darkness, it happened sporadically. When it did, the dark dominated for...at least an hour I guess, before things returned to the fog. No timepieces worked then, same as here, so I could only estimate."
Hector chimed in, "Shit, an hour of this doesn't sound too bad."
Regina shot Hector a look and said, "A lot can happen in an hour."
Cybil said uncomfortably, "But we're not in Silent Hill. Things are different now. For all I know...this darkness might last even longer..." Just saying that scared the living hell out of Cybil.
Clearly, no one else liked the sound of that. Jill was frowning as she mused softly, "The longer this darkness lasts, the chances of our surviving will get slimmer."
You have no idea, Cybil Bennett thought darkly. Before this crisis began, Rebecca Chambers discovered that half of the population of Silent Hill, literally thousands of people, had disappeared without a trace in less than ten years as the rest managed to leave to find new homes and forget that haunted town. The medic had tried to ask Cybil about the disappeared in Brahms, but how could the police captain have told the girl what happened to those who couldn't escape Silent Hill's neverending fog?
Cybil had figured it out long ago: those who disappeared had been claimed by the darkness, little by little each time the town shifted to that phase, over those years. The cumulative numbers were massive just from the town's shifting to black temporarily again and again. Jesus, if the darkness and everything that went with it wouldn't go away here...! Thankfully, another agent spoke and took Cybil from those terrifying thoughts.
Christine Yamata had been very quiet up to this point, her logical mind working desperately to understand and accept the situation she was mired in. Christine was more than a soldier, she was a virologist. She believed in science...and although she liked to think she had an open mind, she had so much trouble accepting what had become of Black Falls. Christine said, "Cybil, you said before this darkness might have an affect on us, like the fog did on Agents Kennedy and Harper...but I guess now things will be much more...intense?"
Cybil nodded. "Yes, that's right. We need to prepare for that too, especially if the darkness wants to linger."
"Okay...b-but how do we prepare? You said earlier that as long as we don't let our fears get the best of us...?"
Cybil remembered what she and Harry Mason saw in Silent Hill because it preyed on their fears and worse. She remembered what Anne Cunningham said about her experiences with Murphy Pendleton. "Yes, and that's incredibly important. It might make all of the difference. But it's not just fear, the darkness...please, all of you, take me seriously when I say this...the dark will prey on the worst things you carry with you inside. All your deepest fears and regrets, tragedies and traumas you might ever have suffered, if you feel guilt for something horrible in your past...the darkness will take all of those inner demons and use them in ways you won't expect. It'll make you vulnerable, even change you if you're not careful."
Chris still stood at the window, his back to the others...
Christine tried to understand...she didn't, not quite, but only because she really didn't have any inner demons haunting her. The medic finally nodded. "O-okay, I think I get it. It's about setting aside the baggage we each carry. We just need to stay focused, that's all."
Cybil managed a smile. She wished she could have said more at that moment, that the dark might literally change a person because of what haunted them, but for now it had to be enough. Cybil offered a quick prayer in her heart it would be enough. These people were soldiers, and they had to have the inner discipline to set aside anything that haunted them, to fulfill their mission. Right? She said, "That's all there is to it, Christine. We don't lose our focus on finding Cheryl and Rebecca." She'd have no trouble doing that, like Christine. "Do the rest of you understand?"
Regina looked at Cybil with a stoic expression and nodded. "Yes, Captain."
Hector said impatiently, "Yeah, whatever we gotta do, we'll do it."
Cybil looked at the beautiful blonde warrior in their team. "Jill?"
Jill Valentine looked back at Cybil for a beat, her expression deliberately neutral. She thought of the guilt she still felt for being a puppet under Albert Wesker for three years, for almost killing Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar before she was free of his control. The terrible doubt in her heart that Chris might never love her. Still...the survivor gathered her inner strength and nodded. Jill said from her heart, "I understand, Cybil. People need us to fulfill our mission. For them, for everyone in this town, I can be focused." But she was still worried, and it wasn't because of her own baggage...she worried about what haunted someone else.
Jill thought of the man she turned her lovely face to look at and asked, "Chris?"
Chris was still looking outside. He didn't acknowledge anyone. The expression on his face couldn't be seen.
Jill turned fully to Chris where she stood...she couldn't help but frown with sudden concern. Had he heard what was said at all? She opened her mouth to say something, but she heard Regina say, "Captain Redfield?" Jill looked at the redheaded commando, who she knew had been ordered by General Beauregard Earle to terminate Chris' command authority if Regina felt he was unfit for the duty. Regina asked, "Captain, did you hear what our advisor said?" Everyone in the coffee house was staring at him then.
Jill knew better than anyone in the world that if anyone might have been haunted by personal demons, it was the man she loved.
But Chris Redfield finally turned around...he looked at Jill and then Cybil, his expression seemingly quiet-calm as he said, "I heard, Regina. The darkness might distract us, make us dwell on anything negative we feel, right? I understand, Captain Bennett. Like everyone else, I'll be focused on our objectives and saving this town."
Jill Valentine glanced at Regina and saw her relax a little...
...but the survivor who had fought by Chris' side for years against monsters didn't.
Jill's instincts told her that Chris was hiding something...and she was right.
Chris, for his part, was holding onto his trademark confidence with all of his inner fortitude, and he hoped no one else would have noticed how tenuous his hold was.
Chris did indeed have inner demons...things he couldn't share with anyone else, not even Jill...and they were only growing stronger with every moment he was in the goddamn darkness.
Deep within the building once known as the City Hall of Black Falls, Vermont. Something unspeakable had begun. But it must be shown, if only briefly, because it would set the stage for events to come.
It was a large basement area of the building. Reeve Meyers, the High Priest of The Order, was here. So were the children of the townspeople he had executed hours ago. Now that the darkness had come, these ten children could fulfill a purpose for him that was beyond vile.
Reeve was in the center of the area and the children surrounded him, each lying on ten long tables arranged in a circular formation, as a great Halo of the Sun burned in the center at the High Priest's feet. The boys and girls were all asleep. They were all naked.
In his ceremonial black robes, he approached one of the children, a little girl. Reeve felt his black urges grow stronger the closer he got, but he controlled himself. As satisfying as the rites he was about to perform would be, the monster still wished he had a little more...time with them. But he could spare at least a moment with this girl before he proceeded. This nude girl with long brown hair, like all of the children, were asleep because of his power. With a mere thought from him, she woke up...and unfortunately, the first thing she saw was Reeve looking down on her. The pale man smiled and said, "Hello, my little jem. Comfortable?"
The girl's name was Jennifer. She only had a brief chance to talk to one of the heroes who infiltrated the town, Christine Yamata, and almost told her that bad men were in the City Hall itself. The girl thought of her mother as she looked at the scary man and asked, "Wh-where's my mommy? Why is it...so dark...?"
Reeve smiled a bit wider...he had said long ago he had something special in mind for the girl, and it was going to become a horrible reality. He attempted to soothe her, but his words still sounded so hollow. "It's all right, Jennifer, you have nothing to be scared of. You have many playmates with you at the moment. See?" The man gestured around him at the rest of the naked children in the area. "It's not like you're alone!" The monster did a double-take at the girl before him, his eyes examined her more intently. He said simply, "You are so frightened of me. You do not have to be."
Jennifer wanted to be frightened of this monster. She wanted to get away from him, break his pale, predatory face, anything...but she couldn't move. She could only feel a strange calm that still submerged her fears. Jennifer managed, "You're one of the bad men Christine wanted to find. I wanted to tell her about you."
Reeve sighed, "And I had to stop you, little jem. No one likes a tattletale. Oh, this is something you really need to understand..." He loomed a little closer and whispered darkly: "I'm the bad man." His faced ascended a little more again as he smiled. "But I won't do bad things to you, Jennifer. You have no idea how much...affection I have for you." He couldn't help himself. He reached out and touched the girl in a way that can't be described or imagined by anyone with a heart and soul.
The girl shuddered from his profane touch and quietly pleaded, "Please...I need my mommy..."
Reeve frowned and shook his head. "I'm afraid your mommy is somewhere else right now. I know that makes you sad, but that's partly why I wanted to take a moment to talk to you. To...make you feel better." He still touched her in a way beyond evil.
The little girl was so much stronger than even she knew. In a voice that was almost a whisper, the girl said, "You don't want that. You only hurt people."
Reeve's touches stopped. He really did smile then...in fact, he laughed. "Ha-ha, I do far more than that, my jem! You must be wondering why you can't move, why you can only lie there before me. It's why you feel so...sedate, and not as afraid as you really should be. My power has calmed you, immobilized you, in the same way I made you and your playmates sleep not long ago. I just wanted a moment because you're so special and we don't have much time left together, I'm sorry to say."
His expression became one that only aped sadness...it wasn't possible for this monster to empathize, to feel for anyone in any way. "You're going to...sleep again, Jennifer. So will all of your playmates when my work is done. With this." Reeve's other hand lifted into view from the side of his black robes. It held a sacrificial knife of thin silver. The girl's eyes fixed on it dreamily. "But it'll be all right, dear girl. It won't hurt at all, my power will make sure of that."
The monster's mood brightened as he continued: "But I have good news, too! When you wake up, you and the rest of the children here will be let out to play. You'll be able to play all you want, anytime you want, forever and ever!" His smiling face loomed close and he asked, "Won't that be nice?"
Jennifer was only nine years old. The children with her were at or around that same age. They had decades of life ahead of them...but that wasn't their fate. But this girl was so brave, even as the darkness was about to consume her. Jennifer said defiantly, "I hope Christine and the good guys get you."
The monster chuckled and said, "I strongly doubt that they will, little jem! For now, I'm afraid our time together must close. It's time to sleep." As he said that last, there was a flash of motion -- and the dagger sank deeply between two of the girl's ribs and into her heart. The monster was true to his word, though. The beautiful child didn't feel any pain at all...she didn't make a sound as her soft breaths faded to nothing and her eyes closed...
...and a little girl named Jennifer died.
Reeve took a step back from his first sacrifice and looked around...he announced brightly, "Next!"
It didn't take long for him to sacrifice the rest of the children. After his unspeakable work was done, Reeve Meyers moved to his sanctum, what was once one of the offices of the building. Another ward of power glowed urgently here on the floor. He knelt in the Halo's center and said with expectation:
"Time to bring a new player piece to the board..."
He sensed the sacrifices of those children satisfied his God, as well...their deaths gave Her power, with Reeve as the conduit. Reeve knew full and well, unlike those who wanted to stop him, what the darkness meant. He knew the full terrifying reality of what happened to this town. And because of the state of affairs at present, his God was literally closer to him than ever before.
The way things were in Black Falls, the children he sacrificed would need a little time to be ready...it was necessary for them to die first so that they would become things that Reeve could use, after all. The children would wake up soon, and they'd be most playful to anyone they encountered. They would become purer creatures than they were, things that belonged in the blessed dark.
But at the moment, the High Priest of the Sect of Valtiel devoted himself to something else as he waited for the children to transform. Their sacrifices gave Reeve the dark blessings he needed from God to perform a new rite of summoning. To bring to Black Falls a being from the source of this darkness.
From the source of all darkness.
And unfortunately, Cybil Bennett had been right to fear what she had, that this darkness wasn't just temporary. Because of the power of another who worked with Reeve, helped him ensure the girl from Silent Hill couldn't make the fog and now the darkness go away, the darkness would be sustained until the desires of his remnant of The Order were made reality. Thousands had disappeared in a matter of years from Silent Hill and then Shepherd's Glen because of what happened when the darkness came at sporadic and brief times. The chances for survival for those residents of Black Falls still alive had indeed reduced a thousandfold because the black and all of the terrors with it wouldn't just be brief.
The High Priest of the Sect of Valtiel was increasingly bothered by the interlopers, the agents from outside who wanted to find Cheryl Mason and Rebecca Chambers. As much as he wanted to use them, as much as their combined strength had been fortuitously divided, he wasn't so foolish to not think them a danger. Especially if they found Cheryl and Rebecca. So Reeve felt it necessary to...thin their numbers further. The children in the basement below would become things that would help with that. He had looked into each of the agents without their knowledge, and there was so much potential to use what haunted some of those interlopers against them. Reeve knew with cold delight that one of the agents would only need a little push...that in part was what the children were for. He already sensed another was slowly being changed, she was being affected most dramatically by the black and its overwhelming power.
And then there was one other Reeve got to know well...this agent's inner demons could easily be the source of his doom...
...especially after the pale man completed his ritual.
Reeve Meyers issued the first part of the incantation, using the words of an ancient, misbegotten and thankfully dead language. He then spoke it in English: "I summon the one that was born from the shadow of Valtiel, the First Servant of God...born from shadow to preside over the shadows of your realm, The Judge of All Judges." He spoke the second part and he felt the air in the room chill dramatically... "I summon the one who be Justice, the one who be Punishment Incarnate! In the name of Valtiel, by the grace of God, I summon you to do your holy duty!" Reeve's voice rose to a shout and finally to a roar as he finished, as he felt the barriers fall...as his power reached through the gateway and to the source of the darkness that gripped this small town in Vermont... "Fulfill your sacred purpose! Bring retribution to all infidels! LET THOSE WHO ARE UNWORTHY AND ALL WHO FEEL GUILT FROM THEIR SINS SUFFER FROM YOUR JUDGMENT!"
All of the darkness in Black Falls, just like Silent Hill, was the same. The darkness was omnipresent, unrelenting, and offered nothing, especially hope. The shadows in this town were just as vacant and final.
But from some of these shadows in one of the darkest corners of this place, if one had been there to witness, they would have seen what Reeve Meyers summoned...as He literally stepped from the shadows unsteadily, yet towering in height as he dragged his Great Knife with him...His appearance a strange, lurid vision of Wrath.
The Red Pyramid was here. He had a soul, but He wasn't so much an entity as pure force. Purpose given form.
Reeve Meyers grinned and said in quiet triumph, "Good. Very good. You would not obey me directly -- you would destroy any who tried such a thing -- but I don't have to be direct. My powers can lure you and goad you in ways you won't detect, Red Pyramid, and you'll do my bidding all the same. With enough prodding, you will find one of those who would defy me...when you do, you will feel the guilt that motivates him and you shall be driven to punish him, to annihilate him...you will destroy any who would defend him, as well...
"...and his name is Chris Redfield!"
TO BE CONTINUED