The Chimera Within

Chapter 24


Koba stared at Lily Hollister, with a look of grim satisfaction smeared across his scarred and ugly Bonobo face. A hint of a rumble came from his chest, but he didn't move.

Hollister immediately realized the peril of her situation. She looked into the murderous redness of Koba's functioning eye and tried to reason with his humanity. "Look, Koba. I know you're mad. But you have to understand, it was never personal, we were saving lives. And, speaking of which, I have a patient on the table that I desperately need to get back to right now, or we're going to lose him."

Koba moved his head and made soft hooting sounds, pondering what was his next move. If Hollister didn't know better, she'd have thought he was relishing the moment of his victory over the chief of his tormenters.

The seconds ticked by, and Hollister started to panic, even to cry a little bit. "Koba! You have to let me go. Please! I need to get back. I need to-"

Lily Hollister made a move towards the door and Koba cut her off with a blood-curdling roar. He grabbed Dr. Hollister and threw her against the floor like a rag doll, and, despite his rage, the cracking noise of her spine on impact was not lost on him. Even so, he continued to pound with his arms; his enhanced comprehension that he was exacting vengeance was just yet another product of the human brain capacity that had been bestowed upon him.

Fred Foswell sat in the command centre to the south of the island, feeling nervous. He did not get along well with these military types, and he tried to compensate for his feelings of intimidation by ordering them around more than was necessary. He requested constant check-ins over the radio from the men that were stationed in his quadrant.

When one of his sentries failed to respond to his check, he began to feel very nervous. "Come on S-2, talk to me. Come in," he called over the radio, to no response. "Anyone got a visual on S-2?" he asked. "Ranger 3, can you tell me what's going on in S-2's corner?" he called to one of the helicopters.

"Negative, base," the pilot came in. Then he said, "Wait, I'm detecting some movement, near the rear entrance."

"Go in for a closer look, Ranger 3. Maybe some of their soldiers snuck past our sentries. They've done it before."

"Roger." When the Comanche helicopter moved in to investigate, they passed by a squad of Vitaly's men who were concealed behind some brush. The soldiers in green opened fire, and managed to launch an RPG into the tail of the chopper. "I'm hit!" the pilot reported, as black smoke poured out of the tail section.

"You look pretty bad," observed Foswell, staring at his monitor. "Can you still fly?"

"We can fly, but who knows for how long. I'm going to put her down near the base and try to repair it."

"Do it quickly," Foswell commanded.

As the helicopter started to descend, the pilot and gunners saw something moving in the trees and on the top of the building. "There's something there," said the pilot. "Wait, what the-?" as suddenly a troop of apes came swinging out of the trees and onto the helicopter. "We're being attacked!" he yelled. "By apes!"

"Did he say…apes?" Foswell thought out loud.

A big chimp grabbed one of the gunners and tossed him out of the chopper, while another ape leaped inside and started beating the pilot. The chopper started spinning and lost control, hitting the ground and rolling in a destructive mess.

Foswell gaped, "We have a Comanche down. Repeat, a chopper just went down."

Vitaly's men made no mistake in capitalizing on this hole that was created in the enemy's defences. They swarmed out of the marsh, shooting and providing covering fire as soldiers advanced and smashed their way into the rear building.

The battle was proceeding laboriously from Toby's vantage point. Iraklis had a small force dug in on the beach, but Castle's forces and their cannons kept them pinned down. Then he heard Foswell report over the radio that they had lost a Comanche and that the enemy was advancing from the south. "Report. What's going on back there?"

"We're getting torn to shreds! That's what's going on!" yelled Foswell.

"We've just lost the initiative in this battle. Basically we got two options, sir," informed Commander Castle. "We can try and sit tight here, attempting to retain our defensive position on the beach while stretching our defences to also cover the south. Or, instead of risking of being outflanked, which is what will eventually happen, we could launch an advance on the beach, cut them off there and then we can turn back and mop up the south. I think you know sir, where my suggestion rests."

"I do, Commander, thank you." Toby thought hard about what to do, but really he relied on Castle's military advice. "I'm out of my depth here, Commander. I seem to carry on war like General McClellan at Antietam, not so much commanding as being commanded. Alright Castle, we'll do it your way. Start the attack."

"Yes, sir!"

Castle sent out his attack in lightly armoured vehicles that launched RPG's, fired cannons and provided heavy machine gun fire. By doing so, it provoked Iraklis' men to launch a counterattack, and soon, both armies were locked in an intense firefight at close quarters.

Tom was running around looking for Elias while trying not to get shot. He ran through the corridors of the military hospital, as doctors, nurses and wounded were rushing around as well. Finally he tracked down where Dr. Hollister had been hiding, learning that she kept her own personal operating theatre that only she was allowed to use. As he rushed down the hallway, he found Janice lying in a pool of blood, struggling to breathe.

"Dr. Lincoln! Here, sit up, lean forward a little bit. You're going to be okay. Here, look at me." Tom used his flashlight to shine in her eyes and swore under his breath as he saw blood in the anterior chamber. She was haemorrhaging badly. "It's okay. You'll be okay, Janice."

"Tom?" she croaked weakly, and grabbed his hand. "Please. Uh-huh." She choked a little. "Please, tell my father, I love him still." Her voice was thick.

"Don't worry about it. This just looks bad, but we'll get you fixed up." He started pressing his shirt onto her abdomen to try and protect the organs. "I just need to moisten this, to clean up the wound."

"Tell him for me, to forget the railroad and all those bills. Tell him."

"It's okay, Janice, don't worry about that, whatever it is. You can tell him yourself."

Her hand went limp and she died, just like that. Tom stared down at her crumpled body and his futile efforts to tend to her injuries. As he looked around in a daze, he was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. The deafening sounds of the battle faded into the background of his consciousness as he hung his head and wept. He hadn't been close to Janice by any means, but she was a human life, and the stress and remorse he felt about his mission finally caught up with him; breaking through in waves of feeling and sobs that erupted up from the depths of his very being. His head continued to hang down as the tears dripped onto Janice and splashed in the bloody pools on the ground, but she just stared forward. Her war of protest and her concerns about the world were over.

When Tom managed to pull himself together, he heard screams and gunshots coming from the hospital area. He ran to see what was happening, and as he peaked around the corner, he saw chimpanzees and other animals attacking everyone. The battle was unravelling, and Tom was struck by the grim realization that he needed to get out of there.

As reports of the apes rampaging through their compound reached Toby and Castle, it was bad news that was piled onto the disaster that lay before them. When Iraklis' forces pushed back hard, Toby's forces were forced to fall back.

"The situation is dire, Commander. We must retreat, but we are losing control of the compound here," sighed Toby.

"I hate to say it, sir, but the only option left to us is surrender and retreat."

"Yes, Commander. You must retreat. There is no dishonour in helping what good men you have left to escape. You must signal your men to retreat and escape in the choppers back to the mainland. I will stay and cover your retreat."

"How?"

"I had prepared the contingency for this possible eventuality. I am going to fall back and direct the retreat from the control room in the mountain bunker on Pago Pago. I can buy you some time. But you must obey this final order Commander Castle." Toby slowly saluted. "It's been a pleasure, sir. Now, go! Quickly now!"

Frank Castle started making his way through the mayhem that was inside the compound to try and gather his men and escape in the helicopters. A huge ape loomed up before him and Castle shot him when another came out of nowhere, pinning down his arm so he was unable to fire.

The ape looked like he would rip him apart, limb from limb, when the ape was pulled off and beaten by someone with remarkable strength. Tom was also trying to fight his way through the compound, and he managed to kick Castle's opponent into submission. He nodded to Castle. "Time to get out of here?"

"Damn right! Get your people together and we'll convene at the southeast corner of the island. You got ten minutes."

"Right next to there is the docks. Look for Dr. Wirtham. He's got a homicidal mutant up his ass and he probably needs your help."

"We can't wait! Ten minutes!" called Castle after Tom as he ran away.

Peter Morgan continued to try and focus on his wolf trap, unaware that the battle had released all the hybrids onto the island. He suddenly heard one of his snares go off. He pulled out his revolver and went to investigate. Instead of Guthrie, the man-wolf, the snare had knocked a small chimp unconscious.

Peter was about to put his gun back in his holster, when he saw Guthrie. As soon as he made eye contact, Guthrie ran towards him snarling and growling ferociously. Peter held out the revolver in his two shaking hands and unloaded the gun's magazine into his attacker. Guthrie's momentum was so great that he kept running right into Peter and collapsed on top of him, dead. Peter, going hysterical, manically extricated himself from under Guthrie's bulk.

As he did so, he found himself staring at man-wolf's dead face. He truly was a remarkable specimen, Peter thought, but now he was destroyed. And why shouldn't he have destroyed him? He was a monster! An abomination of all that was good and natural in the world that Peter so loved. And he had killed him.

The more Peter looked over Guthrie, the more feelings of pity and remorse surged through him. "Why did they do this you, huh?" As he looked at him, the monstrosity of creating such a poor creature to suffer and live such a repellent life redirected Peter's rage.

"Why do we do this? Why do we create such biological monstrosities only to torture and loathe them?"

At this moment, Tom ran up, not even noticing Guthrie's carcass. "Peter, buddy. We need to get out of here, right now!"

Peter didn't hear or acknowledge Tom's presence. "This is what the human custodianship of this planet has resulted in? A curse on all humanity! We are a blight in this great universe. A curse on mankind! A curse!"

"Look, I can see you're upset, but Peter, we need to get out of here, now."

Finally Peter looked at Tom. "Look," he said pathetically. "Look at what we've done."

"Yes, we can deal with this crisis you're suffering later. But I gotta find Elias. We only got five minutes to get to the choppers," he said, taking his leave.

"A blight, I tell you!" Peter called after Tom as he ran away. "A pox on both your factions!"

Tom ran towards the docks, where he finally caught sight of Elias. He waved to him and smiled, but that smile quickly faded as he saw Kanaka come out of the trees behind him. Yelling out a warning, Tom sprinted at top speed to tackle Kanaka to the ground. While Tom was able to use his superior speed to get the drop on Kanaka, their weight disparity immediately highlighted to Tom the disadvantage that he found himself in, in a face-to-face fight. The big tarantula man soon had Tom in a bone crushing hold, taking away his mobility. Wriggling with all of his might, Tom managed to loosen his arm and dig his fingers into the wound on Kanaka's leg. At this point, Elias came running forward, with his gun raised and looking for a clear shot.

"Get moving, Tom! I got this!" he yelled.

The words were barely out of his mouth as Kanaka, with one smooth motion kicked Tom in the ribs with his good leg and managed to swing out his long arm, backhanding the gun out of Elias' hand. Tom tried to jump around Kanaka's neck, but he reached back and threw Tom about ten feet away into the water. As Kanaka reared up over Elias, his eyes betrayed his murderous intent; in that he recognized it was probably too late to deliver him to Dr. Hollister and now revenge was his only recourse. Tom, realizing that Elias was about to face death in about two seconds, desperately splashed around in the shallow waters for something he could throw. As luck would have it, his fingers managed to find an old whaling harpoon in the sand that had been uncovered by the tide. Before his brain even had the opportunity to acknowledge what exactly he had found, he lanced the harpoon, which struck Kanaka between the shoulder blades, causing him to stagger forward. Looking down in dismay, he could see the point of the harpoon protruding from his chest.

"Come on, Doctor, we got to go!" Tom helped Elias run towards the waiting chopper.

They sprinted towards a Comanche where Adriana Soria was firing up the rotors, with Frank Castle at her side in the cockpit. Tom and Elias sprinted towards the chopper as Mike Hall did as well. They drew some attention from the pursuing soldiers in green, and as Mike Hall jumped into the helicopter a sniper bullet hit him in the back.

"Go! Go!" yelled Castle.

As the chopper lifted off, Mike Hall fell out the door, followed by Tom leaping out to catch him. Performing his usual acrobatics, he managed to grab the falling soldier's arm while hanging on to the door gun with his legs. As the chopper flew higher into the air in an effort to dodge further fire from the ground, Tom was able to pull him in, where he assisted Elias in the treatment of his wound.

They quickly located the bullet in his left buttock and bandaged him up and gave him a shot of morphine, telling him: he'll be okay, just to sit tight and enjoy the ride until they could get him to a proper hospital.

Tom looked up at Frank Castle, thanking him with a nod of his head. "No man left behind, right?" He shouted above the din of the helicopter.

"Something like that, yeah. That's right!"

Tom looked down to the chaos below, as a band of apes dragged what was left of Dr. Lily Hollister through the compound. "Thanks for the lift. So now are we finally off to Australia?"

"No such thing as a free ride, son. We need to work out your fare, if you want safe passage out of this hell-hole."

"Our fare?"

Castle pulled out a pistol. "Doc Ock asked me to do one thing for him on the way out. Destroy the signal jamming station. And you know where that is, don't you, friend."

Tom gulped. But he knew that he didn't have a choice.

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