RESIDENT EVIL X SILENT HILL: JUDGMENT DAY
written by Charles Spencer,
inspired by Ygure
"THE LOST AND THE WOUNDED"
It wasn't surprising that the group under Claire Redfield's leadership got lost. Doing their best to reach the center of Black Falls to the north, they were diverted more than once when they attempted to evade the hellish creatures that lurked in the grey, mostly successfully. But they got turned in the wrong direction in spite of themselves more than once, even following their maps...it didn't help at all that compasses didn't work, like most every damn thing here. They were delayed, but much more signifcantly than Leon's half of Bravo Team, and they were still a few blocks south of Wyler Community Hospital and the heart of town. If there was such a thing as a great wheel of fortune turning for each and every one of us somewhere in eternity, Claire and those with her were on the losing side. At least for the time being.
And it wasn't going to get any better.
Rain was at point and Vector was just as careful bringing up the rear as Claire, Sherry Birkin and Douglas Cartland moved quietly between them. They reached a derelict gas station that was devoid of any life or activity and Claire told everyone to move into its convenience store to take a breather, but they had to be very brief. The intermittent noises and screams the group heard near and far were becoming fewer...there was more and more silence between those sounds. The sounds of terror and death in the distance they had heard since they entered the town itself were dwindling down, which was a horrible sign they were running out of time to do anything for the citizens of Black Falls, Vermont. Claire wondered if anyone in this town would be left alive when they finally found the answers they needed. It was trouble enough to get through town without monsters detecting their presence.
Vector, the former Navy SEAL and infiltration expert, stood watch at the glass door. He looked at the oldest of their group and asked, "Did you have as much trouble getting through Silent Hill, Mister Cartland?"
Douglas Cartland found a seat behind the cashier's counter; he was working hard to keep his good humor in the bleakness of the fog. He answered, "Yep. Me and Cheryl had maps to go by, too...she knew we'd need them to find our way around in the fog." This was thirteen years ago, at a time when Cheryl still called herself Heather Mason -- when she and Douglas journeyed to Silent Hill to find and stop The Order. He didn't say that he was the only one who got lost; Cheryl told him later she had far less difficulty because she was able to find her way instinctively through the mist. And then its darkness.
Sherry Birkin sat on top of the counter next to the register...close by her, quietly watching the conversation between Vector and Douglas, was Claire Redfield. They tried to relax, but by contrast Rain couldn't. The young female commando was beside herself with tension, moving her weight from one foot to another, barely able to keep still as she gripped her silenced SMG. Rain seemed not to be paying attention as Vector asked, "And you don't know how The Order made that fog or this one. You don't know how they made those monsters, either."
The old private detective sighed. "Anne and I went over before with you guys, remember?"
"And that's it?"
Douglas looked at the man. "What?"
George 'Vector' Kishino's face couldn't be seen because he was wearing his infiltration/bio-warfare mask, but he was looking fully at Douglas. The tone of his voice betrayed his skepticism. "That's all you can tell us about what's going on? You got through this before and you never knew how they made the fog or where they got those monsters."
Douglas Cartland frowned. "Yeah. That's all I can say."
Vector suddenly questioned, "Is it all you can say or all you want to say?"
Claire Redfield asked, "What's wrong, Vector?" Sherry Birkin couldn't help but look at the masked man curiously, as well.
Vector said quietly, "It's nothing, ma'am."
But there was something, and the aged investigator was blunt as hell about it...Douglas said flatly, "Sounds like you don't trust me, pal."
Vector responded, "Mister Cartland, I don't even know you, but I am getting the impression you're holding something back. Or am I wrong?"
"Well, old timer?" That question came from Rain...the girl wasn't as distracted as she had seemed before. She stared at the old man, waiting. "Is he wrong?"
Silent seconds ticked by...Sherry looked at Douglas and asked, "Mister Cartland?"
With sudden exasperation, Douglas got up awkwardly from the stool he sat on behind the counter and said, "Look! If there's anything I'm not telling you, it's because I..." His expression became a troubled, heavily conflicted one. "...I-I just can't. It wouldn't help us right now, anyway."
Sherry's blue eyes were gentle as she asked, "I don't understand, why -- ?"
Douglas looked at the blonde girl firmly and said, "Cause you'd think I was out of my goddamn mind, that's why! You'd never believe me, and then you really wouldn't trust me." The others stared at him. The old man's expression softened, and he looked embarrassed. "I know how stupid that sounds, okay? But if I'm right, all the shit I saw in Silent Hill I can't tell you about...we're gonna see those things happen here. Then I'll help you understand it...even if I still don't understand most of it myself." Douglas looked at Claire, and his eyes almost pleaded with her as he said, "Please...if you're gonna believe anything I have to say, believe that."
Claire Redfield's soft eyes examined Douglas, and she knew the man was serious. Her instincts spoke to her to relax, to believe in him. Claire said, "I do, Mister...I mean Douglas." She turned fully to the old man, the counter's length between them. "I've seen a lot of things in my life most would call insane, but those things happened. I lived through them, and I'm not the only one. I just hope that when the time comes you can talk about what you've seen, it isn't already too late for us to do anything about it." Her beautiful eyes looked into the P.I.'s as she told him, "Keeping something that's important a secret, even if you think it's a good idea, never really helps. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say."
Douglas Cartland sighed and finally nodded. "I do...Claire, right? Thanks."
As her lithe body sat comfortably on top of the counter, Sherry Birkin gazed at Claire...the one she believed in and loved more than she ever would any other, ever. Her pale, lovely face shifted to discomfort as she listened. And she made a choice. With a quick push, she slid off the counter and her feet lightly touched the floor on Claire's side. Sherry drew close to her hero and said softly, "Claire? I need to talk to you."
Instantly Claire's attention was on Sherry, who she first met 15 years prior in Raccoon City. "Uh-huh?"
Sherry said in a much quieter tone, "I-I mean in private. Please?"
It took a moment for them to quietly excuse themselves and they moved into a stock room closer to the back of the small building. It was much darker in here and cramped by so many crates and supplies meant for sale in the showroom, but they had cleared it along with the rest of the market as a group only a few minutes ago. They turned on their flashlights to give each other illumination, and Claire asked, "What's wrong, Sherry?"
The blonde girl had become pensive since she asked to talk to Claire privately; at the moment, her entire being was radiating tension. Sherry asked, "Do you think Mister Cartland is wrong, keeping whatever he knows to himself?"
Claire sighed and answered, "I think it would do more harm than good if he doesn't tell us things we might need to know."
Sherry was plainly troubled. "The way he spoke, it might be better if we didn't know."
"Maybe." Somehow, the lady who was sister to Chris Redfield got that impression, as well. "But if your survival depends on it, Sherry, I'd rather he tell us sooner instead of later."
"Keeping a secret never helps." Sherry Birkin said it almost as a whisper as she looked down at the grimy floor. Her expression shifted to sadness...to guilt...as she summoned the courage in her heart and soul. "Claire, I'm so sorry. There are things about me you don't know...things I haven't had the chance to tell you -- No." She couldn't lie to her hero. "I've been afraid to tell you."
Claire frowned as she looked upon the blonde girl. "What do you mean? If it's about your work, I understand why you need to keep your missions a secret. What you do is important -- !"
Sherry interrupted, "I mean things about me, Claire. But I...I-I'm so afraid if I tell you...I..."
"Why?" Claire drew close to the girl she adored. Suddenly, Sherry felt the warmth of the brunette survivor's touch as she laid her hands upon the agent's shoulders, reassuring. "Sherry, you don't have to be afraid. If you're worried that whatever you're keeping from me might change things between us, it won't. You can tell me anything, and it won't change how important you are to me. I promise."
"C-Claire..." The girl felt so much dismay and uncertainty inside. Part of what she kept secret from her beloved hero would change things so fundamentally between them -- and Sherry wanted that so much. But what she feared the most was that Claire wouldn't accept -- !
Suddenly, they heard Vector's shout of warning from the showroom: "Claire! Sherry! Trouble's coming!"
Claire Redfield's heart sank as she said, "Damn -- !" But she looked at the blonde and hated to break things off so quickly. "Sherry?"
Sherry Birkin gathered herself and put on a brave face...she managed, "It's okay, Claire! It can wait until later!" If they were given the chance to talk later as horror converged on them once again.
Wyler Community Hospital. News of the unusual events that happened to Leon S. Kennedy and Helena Harper was delivered to Chris Redfield and then agents Sheva Alomar, Christine Yamata, and Caroline Floyd -- they hadn't been present in the lobby at the time when Leon described how he and Helena heard and then saw her dead sister, Deborah Harper. The general morale of both teams already wasn't what one would have called 'positive', and this didn't help. It was difficult enough trying to find a logical explanation for the crisis...most were afraid to believe that anything about what happened to Black Falls could be supernatural in any way, if their advisors Cybil Bennett and Anne Cunningham were right. Chris and Leon could only instruct everyone that if they saw or heard anything out of the ordinary to report it immediately. In spite of Leon's self-doubt and Chris' initial anger toward the agent, the others uniformly had faith that Leon and Helena were able to continue with the mission.
Minutes after that were lost in quietly embattled discussion between the members of Alpha Team and Leon's half of Bravo Team about what to do next. They had two workable options: to go out and conduct a search for both Claire's half of Bravo and Rebecca Chambers, Cheryl Mason and anyone accompanying them...or stay at the hospital to wait for Claire, then search for Rebecca and Cheryl. It was embattled because of the simmering tension between Chris and Leon, unfortunately...Chris blamed his friend and veteran DSO agent for his sister Claire being in town in the first place, in spite of the fact she wanted to be involved and it had ultimately been approved by General Earle. Cooler heads prevailed, though, the most vocal and reasonable amongst them Jill Valentine.
A compromise between those options was finally decided on, and it was Leon S. Kennedy who laid it out for everyone gathered in a fourth floor waiting area as Chris, Jill and Helena Harper stood close by. Leon announced to the agents, "A four-person squad will remain here at the hospital in case Claire Redfield and those with her arrive while the rest of us divide into two search teams...Chris will lead the first team, designate Alpha, and I'll lead the second team, Bravo." He referred to a large map for the town stapled to a dirty wall and said, "Starting from our present location, we'll perform the search in a spiral pattern, with each of our forces going in different directions, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Each of us are carrying an emergency flare gun along with all of our standard equipment, as you know. If one of our teams encounters either Claire's group or Chambers and Mason, fire up a flare to signal to the other team, and we'll join up again." Because of the thick grey mist outside, however, it was uncertain if a flare would even be visible from any kind of distance.
Caroline Floyd had to address that possibility: "What if we can't see a flare because of the conditions outside, sir?"
Leon said flatly, "Then that's just one more problem we have to deal with."
Christine Yamata stepped forward and said to Chris and Jill, "I request to volunteer to stay at the hospital." Christine absolutely hated the idea of leaving the civilians here, especially the sick and infirm, without anyone to defend them...there were over 200 innocents in the hospital at last count, and that included what remained of Wyler's staff. Head Nurse Gwen Park and everyone working with her still needed help desperately.
Jill Valentine shook her head. "Christine, I'm sorry, but as our ranking Medical Specialist you can't stay."
"Jill -- !"
Chris Redfield said quietly, "You'll still be part of Alpha, and our team will need you more out in the field. That's all there is to it."
Christine plainly didn't like it, but she nodded stiffly. "Yes, sir."
The Medical Specialist felt a warm hand on her shoulder...she turned to see the masked face of Michaela Schneider, who announced, "I volunteer to stay here in case the rest of Bravo arrives." She looked at Christine and said softly, "I'll do what I can to help everyone here in the meantime, okay?" Christine's posture relaxed considerably and she nodded, her eyes looking at Michaela with bright gratitude.
Chris said, "All right, Michaela. Who else wants to stick around?"
Barry Burton stepped up and said, "I volunteer, Chris. The moment Claire and the others get here, I'll help keep them safe until we hook up with you again."
Chris nodded deeply. "I appreciate that, Barry. Thanks. Anyone else? We can spare only two more people."
"I can stay!" Everyone looked at Sienna Miller, the blonde southern belle. She shrugged and added, "Hell, I'm a sniper. Out in that fog, I'm as much use as a one-legged contestant in an ass-kickin' contest. Figure I can do a little more good here."
Leon nodded. "You make three, Sienna, and thanks."
Sheva Alomar quietly said, "I shall stay, as well."
Jill Valentine nodded, but she felt a vague uncertainty. She wasn't sure if anyone else noticed, but Sheva had been unusually quiet ever since before they reached the hospital. Jill got the sense that her friend was distracted, perhaps bothered by something, but then this entire crisis was so terrible it had to affect people in different ways, didn't it? Chris Redfield knew Sheva better than Jill and got the same sense that something was off with her too; however, he was overwhelmed by so many things, chief among them his deep worry for his sister, and so didn't give it much thought.
With a little reshuffling, the new order for both teams that would leave and begin to search were as follows. Alpha was comprised of Chris, Jill, Christine, Cybil, Caroline, and Regina. Bravo would be led by Leon, and under his command were Helena, Anne, Marissa Ronson, Karena LesProux, and Hector Hivers.
Sheva Alomar, for her part, kept her troubled thoughts to herself, and she wished with all her heart she knew what to do. In spite of what Chris and Leon said, she knew it wouldn't have helped anything to tell them what she had been experiencing since after they left city hall, and she feared she might be seen as unfit for duty. As things stood the woman warrior prayed that staying here in the hospital, sheltered from the spectral fog, might somehow help.
Sheva Alomar prayed she wouldn't hear the voices of her deceased mother and father again.
"They're preparing to leave the hospital to search for us again," Cheryl Mason said...she and Rebecca Chambers were leading Alex and Elle Shepherd and Elza Walker carefully north through the oppressive fog on Cussler Avenue. Ever since she sensed Alpha and half of Bravo meet at the hospital, they tried to trek even faster, but the mist itself and avoiding the demonic monsters that prowled out here made it difficult.
Alex Shepherd winced with annoyance and snarled, "Shit, we're still a few blocks away!"
Close by him, his wife Elle Shepherd asked worriedly, "Oh god, will they be gone by the time we get there?!" It was a fear they had all shared, that they wouldn't make it before the agents moved again.
Cheryl said softly, "Most of them will be gone. A few will stay behind to wait for us and the agents they lost."
"Are they all right, Cheryl?" The blonde girl looked at the elvish brunette she held hands with, Rebecca Chambers, who added quickly, "I mean Claire, Sherry and the others?"
Cheryl frowned as she said, "They're in a fight with some monsters now, Becca. We have to wait and...see..." Her voice suddenly trailed off as she developed a distracted expression, as if she saw something far away...her feet came to a stop.
Everyone else in the group stopped, too. Rebecca's blue eyes examined the girl who captured her heart as she asked, "What is it, Cheryl?"
The lovely, troubled young woman who was born in the cursed town of Silent Hill twice finally looked at the lady she was falling for in turn. Cheryl said flatly, "There's a supermarket down the street...we need to make a stop there."
Cheryl Mason enlightened Rebecca and the others: "I can sense people trapped there...a few dozen of them. They're full of fear, unable to help themselves."
Elza Walker dared to ask, "Are monsters trying to get to them? Or...?"
Cheryl's face was grim as she clarified, "It's not monsters. It's something almost as bad. We need to help them."
That desire was held by everyone in the group, in spite of their fears. To help everyone they could in Black Falls who suffered because of this terror. Rebecca Chambers nodded deeply. "Okay. Lead the way, honey. If we can do anything to help, we will."
Cheryl gave Rebecca a warm smile in return, but she lost that smile quickly when she advised, "Before we reach the market, there's one thing. We have to hide our guns in a dumpster or somewhere else. We'll get them back when we're done."
Everyone looked at her...confused, Alex asked, "We have to go in unarmed?"
Cheryl Mason nodded. "It's the only way we'll be able to get into the supermarket, Alex. You'll understand soon."
After depositing their weapons in a couple of trash bins that could easily be accessed (Cheryl used her extraordinary perceptions to make sure no one saw them as they did it, even though they were in the heavy cover of the fog), they reached the supermarket. The place was as desolate and derelict as everything in Black Falls, but they saw the huge grimy windows at the front of the store were covered by sheets and anything else that could be hung or draped from the inside. The glass entrance and exit doors of the establishment were also obscured by large wood planks. If a creature really wanted to get in, it could have breached the doors and any of the windows with enough strength. The windows and doors were covered for another purpose: to keep anything on the outside from looking into the supermarket.
Inside. A sudden frantic knocking was heard on the entrance door...no one inside the market could see out, but a young woman's voice cried out insistently, "Hello! HELLO, IS ANYONE IN THERE?! HELLO!"
Outside, Cheryl stood close by Rebecca as the agent made as much noise as possible to get the attention of those within. Close by them, Alex, Elle and Elza could only wait, clearly apprehensive of the fact they no longer had any guns to defend themselves. Rebecca shouted even louder as she rapped on the door: "HELLO! C'MON, IS SOMEONE IN THERE!?! PLEASE ANSWER!"
A rough, hard voice suddenly called from inside: "What do you want?!"
Rebecca said loudly, "Oh, thank god someone's here! We need a place to hide from the monsters! Let us in, please!"
A few seconds passed...the same voice finally said, "Hold on!"
Several more seconds ticked by and nothing happened. Rebecca started to get nervous, and Cheryl's grim expression didn't help her mood. Rebecca knocked again and cried, "Hello?!? Please let us in, please?! HELLO!"
Suddenly, they all heard the door audibly unlock...the door swung open, and two men loomed in the doorway. They were both in their thirties, armed with handguns, and netiher looked friendly. One of them ordered, "Shut your goddamn mouth and get inside! Now! MOVE!" He motioned for them to come in with the gun he held.
Rebecca said with relief, "Thank you! Thank you so much!" She and Cheryl entered with the other three close behind, and they had to mill between the two men to go further into the supermarket.
The two men at the door watched them enter, and then they exchanged a look...and nasty grins. One asked the other, "You thinking what I'm thinking, Kyle?"
His friend nodded and said, "Christmas just came early, Stan." Those two men followed the five visitors into the market itself...waiting close to the checkout lines were two more men. One was heavyset, and he looked at the new arrivals with a smile, but his eyes were cold; he had a bolt-action rifle in his hands at the ready. The other man was wearing a bright hoodie, his expression hostile as he carried a handgun like the first two. Within these dim environs of the front of the market, the visitors saw even more people sitting on the floor, their backs to the walls. Some were injured and a few appeared beaten...none of them look up, especally at the four men with guns. The fear here was a palpable thing.
Rebecca approached the two men waiting for them as Cheryl and the others followed close behind. The pixie realized what was going on, what Cheryl meant before, but she tried to act normally until she could figure out what to do next. Rebecca kept her smile bright as she said, "Thank you, I didn't know how much longer we'd last out there -- !"
The man in the hoodie stared at her and interrupted with a growl of a voice: "Lady, you need to be quiet."
Rebecca stared at him with wide eyes. "E-excuse me??"
The bigger man who seriously needed to go on a diet stepped up to Rebecca. He said with escalating menace, "Did my friend stutter, honey? Does he have to repeat himself? That's okay, I can talk for him: you all need to shut up right now."
Not far away, Alex Shepherd wondered why the hell they left their guns outside. He moved from between his wife and Elza to slowly approach Eric. Alex began, "Listen, guys, if you've got a problem with us being here -- UHH!" Unfortunately, this survivor forgot the two men who let them in: one of them, Stan, came up behind Alex and hit him harshly across the head with the butt of his revolver. His world turned into a haze of incredible pain as he fell to his hands and knees.
Elle and Elza were horrified as Stan stood there and pointed a gun at Alex's head...he said loudly, "Eric said all of you shut up! You fuckin' deaf?!"
Elle Shepherd recovered quickly from her initial shock and rushed to kneel by her husband's side. She looked up at Stan and raised a shielding hand as she desperately urged, "No! Please don't hurt my husband, please!"
The four armed men surrounded the five visitors menacingly...Eric smirked and said, "Maybe we will, maybe we won't. See, we had to hurt quite a few people already so there'd be a, how to put it? An understanding that we were in charge of things here. Ain't that right, Ken?" The man wearing the hoodie nodded deeply. "What we say goes in this place. Everything's cool as long as we get what we want."
Kyle leered at Elza Walker as he chimed in, "Some folks had a problem with that. Some of them are dead. We put them in the meat locker in the back." The girl in the motocross jumpsuit cringed timidly, the predator got so close.
Stan barked, "You don't wanna be dead too, you do what we say when we say! Got it?!"
Rebecca Chambers realized the truth of what Cheryl said...she thought, These bastards are almost as bad as the monsters out there. Eric drew closer to Rebecca as he repeated, "But everything will be cool as long as we get what we want. Hell..." And then the big asshole got much, much closer than Rebecca wanted...a meaty hand reached out and the girl felt sudden revulsion when he laid it on one of her bare shoulders. Eric grinned and growled, "...I can think of a few things I want from you right now!" Rebecca felt the incredible urge to tell him to go to Hell --
"You're making a big mistake." The quiet voice cut through the air like a scalpel. Rebecca, Eric and his fellow predators couldn't help but stare at the source: Cheryl Mason, who was a few feet away. The blonde was calm, yet her eyes were as hard as stone. "Don't touch her." Even her friends looked at her with surprise.
Eric stared at Cheryl, his eyes wide with disbelief. He said loudly, "What?"
The blonde girl gave him a small smile, but her eyes didn't change in their stoic set. "Did I stutter? Do I have to repeat myself?" And then she did, with passion: "Don't ever touch her."
Eric laughed, but there was a dangerous anger in his face, too. He forgot about Rebecca and began to advance on Cheryl...so did his three friends, and the wolfpack was suddenly around the blonde. Rebecca felt a surge of elemental fear for the one she desired...before she reminded herself what Cheryl was capable of. And she began to realize why they didn't need to bring their weapons. Eric stared down Cheryl, a man over a foot taller and over 200 pounds heavier than her, and said in a bemused tone, "Listen to you! You came into our place to be safe from the monsters, right? It's only fair that you be generous to us as long as you're here." He looked at his buddies. "Wouldn't you call that fair?" Ken nodded slowly as he glowered at Cheryl.
Stan said emphatically, "Hell, yes."
Kyle testified, "More than damn fair!"
Eric lost his smile quickly. "And here you are, telling us what to do. I've got one question for you." He took one step forward, got into Cheryl's face, and he suddenly shouted, "Who the hell do you think you are, BITCH?!?"
Cheryl Mason smiled brightly as she gave her answer in a soft, chilled tone: "I'm the bitch who's going to make you wish you never met me."
Dead silence for a moment...the predators could only look at her, incredulous.
Eric's face twisted to a look of pure hate as he took a step back and with both hands raised the rifle to his shoulder, about to haul off and hammer its stock violently into Cheryl's face. He didn't give a damn how pretty this bitch was, NO ONE talked to him like that. Not in HIS place.
And he would have bludgeoned her, but to the shock of everyone watching (only Rebecca, Alex, Elle and Elza weren't surprised at all), Cheryl's eyes transitioned from hazel to a blue that literally glowed. Eric was shocked by that...and something else. With hs rifle reared back, he realized he couldn't move. At all. Every muscle in his overweight body froze against his will!
Cheryl laughed then. She inquired, "Are we having trouble? Can't move all of a sudden?"
Stan, Kyle and Eric barely snapped out of their own shock seeing this blonde girl's eyes illuminate the gloom of the market, and they all had the same cowardly instinct. The three of them raised their guns on Cheryl, ready to shoot her dead, but she said, "Your guns won't work!" Stan growled and squeezed his trigger, anyway. Click! The gun didn't fire. But the gun was fucking loaded, Stan thought, it should have fired! It was finally at this time the three of them began to panic as they all began to squeeze the triggers of their guns rapidly, again and again. To no avail. She glanced at Eric's three buddies and smirked. "What did I tell you? The gunpowder in your bullets might as well be sand right now." She had plenty of practice long ago to make a gun useless this way experimenting on the bullets of her own Peacemaker. She discovered it didn't require that much focus from her to both get a feel for the gunpowder in a bullet's shell casing but alter it just enough. You never knew what you might run into.
Eric stared at Cheryl with sheer horror and managed, "K-K-Kenny...why the fuck can't I move?!?"
As his three friends stared at her, too terrified to even run, Cheryl told him, "Just a case of mind over matter. Easier than pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Oh hold on, maybe you boys don't believe in magic. Bet I can change your minds!"
What happened next surprised even Rebecca.
Cheryl's bright eyes flared briefly...at first, Stan, Kyle and Ken looked at their guns as if they hadn't seen such weapons before, because something was happening to them. Kyle started to murmur, "The fuck...?" And within seconds, the three men had to drop their guns and Stan screamed, "Jesus CHRIST!" The guns had become too hot for them to touch as a result of Cheryl's pure will...more than that, the dull metal of the discarded weapons began to brighten until they cast a red glow as they laid on the floor. The guns and the tiles under them were smoking and the men could feel the intense heat radiating from them. Even Rebecca, Alex, Elle and Elza could feel the heat too, and they were much further away from them. The predators' former captives could only watch, they were also terrified.
Stan stared at Cheryl, and his eyes were as wide as saucers. "What the hell are you?!"
Cheryl Mason giggled like a little girl. "That's a long story." She looked at Eric, and with a snap of her fingers the man suddenly unfroze from his petrified state. She took a deliberate step toward him, and he quickly dropped his rifle -- he knew it would be useless -- as he stepped back from her in reaction, his round face full of horror. Cheryl kept advancing on him as she asked, "You're the leader, right? What you say goes, right?" She stopped and spread her arms. "Well, here I am standing in your way. You want to fight me, asshole? You want to put your hands on me? Go right ahead." Eric blinked stupidly, unsure what to do. "Come on, what are you waiting for? A big man like you can take on a little girl like me, right? Let's go. I'm in the mood for a fight." The big man was obviously conflicted, torn between the options of fight or flight, and he was struggling. Cheryl finally urged loudly, "Let's go!"
Eric proved to be as stupid as he looked, unfortunately for him, as he responded to Cheryl's challenge in a way she hoped he would. He gave into his anger and hate as his fat arms reached out and he rushed the girl...but just as quickly, with the speed of a thought, he experienced a total disconnect from his arms and legs. They went completely numb as he crashed to the floor heavily on his knees, and his arms slumped to his sides, lifeless. Again, he was completely helpless before her power.
Cheryl laughed as she put her hands on her hips casually, assessing the big predator. "What a shame! I forgot to mention I wasn't gonna fight fair." She shook her head, her expression one of mock regret. "Too bad for you I know Karate." And without warning, the girl cried, "KIAI!" The strong cry came from just below her stomach to assist in focusing her physical energy at the exact same moment she delivered a no-frills straight punch -- her relatively small right fist crashed into Eric's face with a force that reflected her skill as a Black Belt. His nose was broken and gushing blood as he keeled back and fell hard. Cheryl looked at Eric's buddies and grinned. "I studied damn hard to get a Black Belt, you know? I like to practice every chance I get!" For emphasis, she moved fast, and to the redoubled horror of Eric, Stan and Ken, THEY couldn't move, either. In a matter of seconds, Cheryl brought them each brutally to the floor in the same way a kickboxer would bring low practice dummies set up for them to knock down, and her practiced grace had nothing to do with her supernatural power. She broke the noses of two of them and guaranteed the third would need several trips to a dental surgeon to repair the damage to his teeth. Strangely -- or perhaps not -- Rebecca Chambers thought Cheryl was more beautiful than ever in those moments.
The three men moaned painfully as they laid semi-conscious on the floor. Cheryl turned to Eric again...and she burst out in a giggle again. She said, "Oh, dear! Someone needs a diaper." The big man, still on his back, had pissed his pants. The crotch of his voluminous pants was dark and moist from his soiling himself.
Elle was slowly helping Alex stand -- they were both understandably distracted by Cheryl. So was Elza Walker, who had gravitated to Rebecca. Her wide eyes were full of awe as she told the agent, "Cheryl still scares me, but I've gotta admit that was awesome!" Rebecca was too astonished to answer the girl.
Cheryl Mason looked down at the overweight predator, and her amusement shifted to anger. She declared in a strong voice, "I'm sick of people like you. You take what you want to feel powerful, right?? Even with everything gone to shit in this town, you want to set yourselves up as kings in a damn supermarket!" The rage in her was building as she drew closer to Eric, and the man was on the verge of hyperventilating from the overwhelming fear he felt, his bloody face slack in expression and his eyes almost bulging as he stared up at her. He was afraid to speak, to move, to even breathe. Cheryl was right above him, inescapable, as she became louder: "Bringing pain and fear to innocent people, who do you think YOU are, bitch?! You're as bad as Reeve and The Order! You give absolutely nothing to this world! All...you do...is take." Rebecca could feel the sadness mixed with Cheryl's anger as she spoke, a sadness that reflected her terrible history. How many people had wanted to take from her? Reeve. The woman she once called her best friend, Claudia. Her own mother. And far, far too many more.
Cheryl's eyes continued to burn with blue fire as she stared into Eric's horrified face. She said darkly, "I'd play with you a little more, but I'm already bored! I should kill you all so you never hurt anyone else ever again -- better yet!" With a gesture, she levitated Eric's heavy form off the floor, and he floated before her, helpless. The blonde girl's bright eyes hardened as her lips snarled, and her voice raised in volume and building wrath, "I'll make you assholes go outside into that fog without anything to defend yourselves! The way you smell after I made you piss your pants, it won't take long for something out there to find the four of you, and then we'll hear you start SCREAMING -- !"
The haunted blonde girl stopped, just like that...her expression of rage softened as she turned to the one who called to her. Her posture relaxed as she stared at Rebecca Chambers, who looked at her with wide, entreating blue eyes as the brunette clasped her hands before her bosom. The BSAA agent and former S.T.A.R.S. medic was afraid, yes, but she was afraid for Cheryl.
Cheryl Mason could see herself through Rebecca's eyes...and her eyes dimmed to their mortal hazel again as Eric fell to the floor with a loud thud. Cheryl looked down sadly and thought, God, I almost lost control. I could have lost my focus keeping us hidden from Reeve's senses...! Cheryl finally sighed and said to Eric as he trembled on the floor before her, "But killing you won't solve anything." Rebecca and her friends also relaxed as the victims of Eric and his buddies realized it was over, things had changed for the better. They wouldn't be threatened by those predators anymore...but as most of them stood, their eyes fixed on Cheryl. And she could feel their fear. The blonde looked at one of them and said, "Hey." He was almost as portly as Eric but he was a cashier with a colorful apron...on its breast was stitched his name, Ollie. He looked at her with a start. Cheryl said, "You work here. Can you lock these assholes in your meat locker so they don't give you anymore trouble?"
Ollie carefully approached her...he had a visibly kind persona, especially in his eyes. He said, "Y-yeah. The meat locker's not working right now...isn't like they'll freeze to death."
Cheryl shrugged. "Just as long as they're in a cage where they can't hurt anyone else."
Ollie nodded shakily. "Th-thanks...uh..." He wanted to say more, but he had no idea where to begin. What could he say to her after what he bore witness to just now?
Cheryl smiled thinly. "I know you're scared of me. You all are. It's okay, I won't be here much longer."
Rebecca moved quickly to the two of them and said to the cashier, "Uh, before we go! I'm a medic and I wanted to see the people those men hurt. Is that all right?"
Ollie managed a smile and said, "M-much obliged, miss!"
Maybe twenty minutes later. Alex, with some help from those in the supermarket, put Eric and his friends in one of the big meat lockers behind the deli section. The wolfpack did so quietly, in spite of the fact dead bodies were already inside. Rebecca checked on all of those who were hurt by the predators -- for most of them, fortunately, their injuries weren't serious. Terribly, that couldn't have been said for a few of the women who were victims of the predators. The gang took brutal turns with them earlier because they were so attractive; two of them were a mother and her teenaged daughter. Rebecca's heart broke for them, and she wished she could have done more for the rape victims. Rebecca told everyone that help was here trying to stop what had overtaken Black Falls, and Ollie among others reassured her that they'd hold out here as best they could until the crisis ended. None of them wanted to brave the fog and its terrors.
At the front of the supermarket, Cheryl Mason had distanced herself from everyone else, but Alex, Elle and Elza found her. Elle Shepherd held Cheryl's hand gently and offered, "I wouldn't have minded one bit if you made those scum walk outside, Cheryl."
Alex Shepherd still had reservations about trusting the young woman from Silent Hill, but even he had to voice his support of how she handled the predators. "I can't argue with that, Elle. It's not much more than what those bastards deserve."
Elza Walker was sorely tempted to feel the same way about those human monsters, but she gave the husband and wife a look and observed, "Don't you two sound ruthless!"
Alex said coolly, "These people already have enough to fear, Elza. Anyone preying on them in the middle of shit like this is inhuman. We've seen enough of that from the goddamn Order here and in Shepherd's Glen."
The four of them noticed Rebecca Chambers slowly approach them...but the beauty's blue eyes gazed solely on Cheryl Mason. She was so needful to reassure the moody blonde. "Cheryl..."
Cheryl couldn't look at her at first. She seemed beyond consolation as she said, "I know what you're thinking, Becca. You don't have to say what's on your mind."
The brunette pixie smiled gently and countered, "I think I do have to." Rebecca drew even closer and took Cheryl's hands in hers. "Honey, I know you were so tempted to do a lot worse to those bastards, and I'm proud that you didn't. You're better than -- !"
Cheryl Mason looked at Rebecca and suddenly said, "Better than what?" Her eyes reflected a soul who was nearly beyond reassurance. "I'm a monster, Becca. I know that. All of these people know, too. And I may have to own the fact I'm a monster if we're going to have any chance of surviving."
Rebecca Chambers sighed, "Cheryl...!" Her thoughts reached out to the one she adored. "I-I know things are horrible right now, honey, but you came here to stop Reeve and The Order for the right reasons. I know you were so tempted to give in to your anger before, but you didn't. You didn't because you're better than that. You're not a monster and you're better than our enemies, you hear me? Please, don't give up hope. Please!"
But to her own building sadness, Rebecca had to wonder how much worse things would become...
At the same moment Rebecca Chambers knocked on one of a dark supermarket's doors, several blocks away, Claire Redfield and those with her faced total chaos.
The horrid monsters converged on the gas station from every direction, and the survivors had to retreat into it's convenience store as they fired carefully, avoiding pointing any of their suppressed weapons even in the general direction of the gasoline pumps. It stood to reason that like most devices in Black Falls the pumps were shut down and inactive, but it would still have been foolish in the extreme to take any chances. With their field of fire limited, however, the monsters encroached fast and Claire, Sherry and the others had to fall back into the store just as quickly.
The ceiling-to-floor front windows disintegrated as everyone fired outward and enemies smashed their way in. Several Lurkers scuttle-crawled inside fast because of their powerful arms dragging the rest of them on the ground...Claire and the others shot them to pieces as Schisms rushed in, their long fatal heads swinging wildly. Grinding noise from outside growing louder by the second signaled that Pendulums were getting closer, as well. One Schism got too close, but Rain showed her frightening expertise with her combat knife...with a fluid grace, her right hand let go of the SMG connected on a strap around her shoulder to unsheath her blade. It took the commando in black less than two seconds to deliver several lethal, rapid-fire thrusts into the thing's chest and under one of its long arms before it even had the chance to swing its killer head-blade...it fell into a bloody heap immediately. Maybe it was because he was old-fashioned, but Douglas Cartland was shocked to see a girl like Rain display such ferocity. Then the old timer remembered he was in the middle of this fight too, and he concentrated on more important things...like helping himself and his friends stay alive! Vector was far more ominous, a hooded wraith in his foreboding mask as he did his part to dispatch the nightmare threats that preyed on them.
In comparison, in spite of her unique experiences, Sherry Birkin concentrated on keeping herself calm as much as she focused on taking down the monsters with her Triple Shot handgun. The girl who like Rain was dressed in black felt like her heart was beating faster than a cheetah. Looking to her adored hero at times helped greatly...in comparison, Claire Redfield seemed much more composed, her beautiful face firm in her set as she took down her fair share of enemies. Sherry would have been surprised to know how frightened Claire was, too...but all it took for the brunette to stay focused was to think of Sherry. She'd give anything and everything for the blonde girl she loved, including her life.
The grinding of the Pendulums' spinning blades were overwhelming in their noise as the floating things arrived...fortunately, none of them got close before the survivors' bullets crossed the distance to take them down, too. The air became quiet again except for a lingering, persistent static that was growing louder from Douglas' radio. Everyone in Claire's group tensed, prepared...unfortunately, none of them thought to check if anything got into the back of the store before what happened next.
With an unearthly groan, one more Schism burst in through the door to the storage area...Sherry turned in time to see it shambling with terrible intent toward Claire, who was already turning to face the threat, but the thing would have been on her before she had the chance to defend herself. The blonde didn't think before she acted. She didn't have to. All that mattered to her was Claire. Sherry side-stepped fast as she screamed, "CLAIRE, BEHIND YOU!" The jolt of adrenaline that ran through her being made what followed feel like it was going in slow motion.
Sherry just barely had the edge on the Schism and reached Claire before the monster could. The blonde hated to do it as she collided with her hero, her right shoulder knocking the brunette to the side, and the move thankfully got her out of the thing's path. But Sherry had taken Claire's place and the Schism attacked her, her back still to the monster --
-- and Claire's body whirled barely in time for her to see the thing's head-blade cut deeply into Sherry Birkin's back. The blonde girl screamed as Claire heard herself cry with horror, "SHERRY!" Sherry fell to the floor and Claire's one and only thought was to close the distance and fall to her knees next to the fallen agent, try to help her some way, any way.
Nearby, Rain cried in total anger, "Fuckin' ASSHOLE!" The commando in black fired her SMG and kept firing on the Schism even after it dropped hard. The demonic thing had been perforated, Rain was so furious that the bastard got to Sherry before she could do anything about it. "God DAMN it!"
Claire knew total anguish, she could almost feel herself plummeting into an abyss complete despair as she cradled Sherry's upper body in her arms, as she said in a frantic rush, "Sherry it's okay please hold still I'll help you I'll do anything for you -- !" But she felt so damn helpless, she blamed herself for what happened to the blonde girl, and her sight clouded from her tears as she wailed, "OH GOD, SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!"
Rain was with them in a flash. "I'm here, Claire -- !" But the girl's eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat when she really got a good look at Sherry. The violent gash in her back ran from her beltline to just over her shoulder blade. The diagonal wound was so deep as it bled horribly, and Rain caught a glimpse of the girl's spinal cord through the gore. Rain sighed, "Oh, Jesus!"
"C-Claire..." Sherry's beautiful face tilted up to look at Claire, her expession full of agony...
Not far away, Vector looked around with his carbine at the ready as he moved to the old P.I., who held his portable radio up to his ear. Vector asked impatiently, "Are there anymore?! Talk to me, man, are anymore coming?!?"
Douglas Cartland's mood was frantic as he finally said, "No-no! The radio's quiet! I-I think we're okay...!" But then he and Vector got a good look at how harshly this battle had cost them. The old man's expression broke at the sight of the blonde girl. "Aw, no!"
Sherry was leaning into Claire, who carefully held the girl in her arms as best she could, as Rain gingerly, carefully tore the ruined shirt from the blonde agent's upper body...the wound was so terribly vivid in its contrast to the pale, soft skin of her back. Rain glanced at Douglas and yelled, "You're carrying the medical supplies for us, old timer! We need them now!"
Claire trembled with horror and grief as she held Sherry...she whisper-moaned, "Shhh...don't try to move, angel, please...we'll help you, I swear..."
"Claire, it..." In spite of her mortal wound, even though she lost so much blood, Sherry's voice hadn't grown weaker as she spoke. "...it's okay. I'll be all right..."
Her hero wasn't sure if she heard the girl right. "Sherry...?"
Sherry's voice actually grew stronger in spite of the pain she suffered. "I just n-need a minute...and I'll get better..."
Claire didn't understand at first. "Sherry, how...?!"
Suddenly she heard Vector say, "Jesus, look at her...a-am I seeing things?!" Next to him, Douglas had been shrugging off his backpack to get to the medical supplies. His expression shifted to pure amazement and he froze.
Right there with Claire and Sherry, Rain stopped moving, too. She said quietly, "What the hell...!"
Claire followed Rain's eyes as she held Sherry...
...and she saw that the wound Sherry Birkin suffered was closing -- the terrible slash seemed to be knitting itself closed from one end to the other! The regeneration progressed at a lightning pace as Claire felt the girl's breaths steady and deepen again, as well. The blood had clotted even faster as the torn skin came together...and then fused in a matter of seconds. In less time than it took to describe it all, the mortal wound was gone...there was no scar, not even the slightest trace a wound had been there...Sherry's lovely back was marred only by stains of her own blood, but that was all. Sherry managed to sit up, but with an effort, gently disengaging from Claire's embrace...her black shirt had been ruined, and the girl quickly crossed her arms over her breasts to preserve her modesty at the moment.
There was complete silence for what seemed like an eternity, but in fact was only moments, for everyone present.
Finally, the quiet was broken by Claire Redfield...she looked at the person she adored since they first met in Raccoon City fifteen years ago with an expression of disquieted wonder and whispered, "Sherry..."
And even though she was clearly all right, this extraordinary young woman couldn't look at Claire...her beautiful face expressed quiet, overwhelming despair, as if her world had just shattered into a thousand pieces. She knew that from this moment, nothing would ever be the same between her and the hero she loved. Sherry Birkin finally said softly, "This is part of what I was afraid to tell you, Claire."
TO BE CONTINUED