Beautiful Experiment

Chapter 7

After scouring the village for information, Leon waited by the northeast gate. Checking his items, he found it more than a little strange that the villagers had such weaponry considering their remote nature. They still used pesetas after all, so there was no logical reason they should have handguns or grenades of this quality. Someone else was at work here, and Leon was sure it had to do with whoever had kidnapped Ashley. Furthermore, if the villagers did have these kind of weapons, why didn’t they use them? It would certainly be more effective than a pitchfork.

Leon’s thoughts drifted to the chainsaw man. He had caught a shotgun blast straight to the chest and still kicked afterwards, necessitating two more shots to end him. Something was wrong with that man. Leon felt a growing unrest as he looked at the bodies that were scattered not too far from him. His doubt growing to intolerable levels, he moved over to the downed man and crouched beside the body, preparing himself. Sliding on a pair of gloves, he prepared himself.

Cautiously, he removed his combat knife, pressing it into the flesh of the man. Gently, he began slicing the chest open, focusing intently to avoid a rising nausea. Soon, the man’s insides were exposed to the light, and Leon thanked the fact that he had gloves on, as the man’s organs were rather...eager, to move. Leon could quickly tell that there was something drastically wrong with this man’s anatomy just by virtue of the expansion. Sighing he began moving bits around, trying to find the cause. He eventually caught sight of something just barely breaking the surface of the blood.

Tilting the man’s body to drain some of the blood, Leon recoiled as the shape was revealed more fully. It appeared to be some living organism attached to the man’s spine, dead but tightly embedded. It ran along the back, legs sunk into the flesh.

“Leon what are you...what is that?” Manuela took an involuntary step back as she beheld the thing.

“I think it’s some kind of parasite” Leon responded, stepping back, glad to be away from the corpse. “My guess is that everyone here has one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like it.”

“Neither have I. It kinda looks like a huge centipede” Manuela answered, a waver in her voice.

“We should move on. We need to find what we’re dealing with. I suppose we shouldn’t let them get close to us” he pointed out, leading her away. “What did you find?”

“Nothing much. The evidence suggested they’ve been “living” here a while. But it seems they gave up on eating or behaving normally for a while, given the dust I found over most everything. I did find some skulls in one house, suggesting they’ve been killing intruders. We’ll have to get a team in to identify the bodies.”

Leon didn’t respond as they passed through the northeast gate. Leon could barely make out the very peak of what he presumed to be a barn over the embankments. Gun still ready, and newly reloaded, he peered around the corner. A few of the villagers could be seen still wandering about, almost normally. It wouldn’t take too long to take them out, he figured. He motioned for Manuela to cover him as he approached the first one he could see from behind.

Turning on point, he got a surprise kick in, knocking the man down. A bullet through the brain finished him. Two bullets from Manuela took care of the other. With the farm yard quiet for now, Leon slipped his gun back into its sleeve, almost not noticing a message nailed to a tree. “What’s this?”

“15 blue medallions…

7 in the farm...8 in the cemetery…

For those of you who destroy 10 or more will be awarded”

Despite his best efforts, Leon could not read the rest. He handed it to Manuela, pearing around, noticing a blue glint up above them, presumedly hanging from a tree branch. Taking a step back for a better view, he raised his weapon, taking careful aim, before knocking it off the branch with a well placed shot. The glint fell to the ground, and Leon bent down, confirming his suspicions. In his hand was a blue medallion.

“Who do you think wrote this?” Manuela asked, regarding the medallion. Leon shrugged.

“I don’t know, but I think we should gather them. They could be evidence of something at the very minimum. Who knows, maybe there’s someone on our side out here. Keep an eye of for these things while we search.”

Manuela nodded as they split up to search.


Manuela decided to check the north end of the farm, particularly the open areas, while Leon cleared the barns. Just across the fence, some cows grazed peacefully, unaware of the hell around them. Cautiously walking past them, she released a breath as they simply regarded her with vacant stares. She smiled at one of them before continuing on.

Nearby, she could see a well, and a shed of some sort. Beyond that, a fortification of some sort had been erected, with a path over it coming from the side of one of the barns. She’d have to tell Leon about that. Seeing as the well was in its own little corner, she figured she’d check that first.

Leaning over the edge, she could see the murky water, suggesting it hadn’t been in use too recently. The cows must have been getting water from somewhere else. Perhaps there was a river nearby, she wondered. Turning her attention to the shed, she approached with caution, lest something come out. Whipping around the corner, pistol at the ready, she was relieved when nothing greeted her. However, her relief was short lived as the beheld the grim contents. Maggots were crawling over every available surface, forming a living carpet on everything. This was a conclusive bit of info that told her that whatever was going on here was not right. Images began flashing before her eyes.

Verdant jungles. Rotten corpses shambling. Leon almost crushed.

Manuela felt back as she felt her breathing constrict, heating her chest unbearably. Her limp grip caused the gun to hit the ground unceremoniously. Backpedalling, she threw out her hand, as if the shed would chase after her. Through the fog of fear, she dimly realized that she threw flame at the structure, lighting the foul building. As the building went up in a stinking smoke, she became more alert to Leon’s hurried approach, his boots crunching on the dry ground.

“Are you okay? What happened?” he interrogated, exchanging glances between her and the burning building. Gently, he helped her shift to a more comfortable position, helping her breathe. Manuela could feel her body temperature lowering as her breathing stabilized.

“I’m...I’m okay” she answered finally, her reason returning. She shakily, stood, brushing herself off. Picking up her gun, she regarded the building, amazed at her own potential. She glanced at the hand she had thrown out, noting a slight wound from where she had scraped it on her way to the ground. It seemed to be a small wound, but apparently that was all that was needed.

“Let’s get you bandaged up and then let’s get you out of here.” Leon reached for his med kit, when Manuela stopped him with her uninjured hand.

“I’m not letting you do this on your own. I’ll be fine...it just caught me off guard is all…”

Leon stared at her for a long moment, trying to gauge the situation. Finally, he grabbed the bandages, offering her one before continuing. “What was in there?”

“Maggots. All over the place. Leon, I think we’re dealing with some kind of outbreak or infestation here. It...it reminded me of the jungle” she admitted. “But! I’ll be fine. If anything, now I need to be here. I need to help end this. I don’t want anyone one else hurt by something like...this.”

Leon nodded, smiling slightly. “I know how you feel. Come on, we’ve just got a few medallions left in the area, and then we can move on.”


After finding the last medallion on a windmill, they had tried the gate nearby. One of them could theoretically throw the other over it, but there was no guarantee they’d be able to open it from the other side. And despite how much Manuela tried, whatever was holding it closed was too strong for her. They eventually decided to keep it in mind and instead try the other gate past the farm houses.

The door swung open quietly, revealing a narrow path downwards. At least this would make it easier to face an oncoming horde, Leon thought dryly as he began walking down it. He was about to ask Manuela to cover the ridge when he heard a shout. Looking up, he had just enough time to call out to Manuela. “Run!”

A crash a moment later confirmed his fears as he could hear the boulder behind him. He could also hear Manuela’s increasingly close steps, so that was a plus. She quickly passed him, her superior body outpacing his own. He followed her as she dived into an alcove formed by a tree’s long term presence. He could feel the rush of air as the boulder zoomed by, crashing into a solid wall before splitting. Leon sighed, taking a moment to realize that he and Manuela were particularly close given the amount of space they had.

Backing up as nonchalantly as he could, he waved the moment off by looking for the perpetrators, but they had already fled, possibly to set more traps. “You alright?” he asked, catching his breath.

“I’m fine” she mumbled, a little caught off guard by the moment as well. Collecting herself, she looked towards the shattered boulder, making out the edge of a tunnel to one side. “I would assume that’s the way forward” she commented.

Leon nodded as he saw it himself. As if giving them a break, the tunnel itself was empty, save for a few bats. The other end opened into another farm area, though this one was overgrown with reeds. Another strange signpost stuck above the grass, causing Leon to feel a chill down his spine. Last time one of those had appeared, he’d nearly been blown up.

“Keep your eyes out, there might be…”

BOOM!

Leon threw up his arm as dirt was flung into the air from the explosion. Both he and Manuela jumped to one side, rolling to a stand. He heard Manuela cry out in pain, and he could see her clutching her leg. He started moving towards her, before he caught sight of a villager not too far away from them, hiding behind a shack. Leon’s eyes widened as he saw the man take out a stick of dynamite, eying Manuela as an easy target. Quickly, he took a series of shots at the dynamite, finally hitting it, causing the man to disappear in a fleshy, dusty explosion. Satisfied they were safe for now, Leon rushed over to Manuela, quickly spotting the problem.

When Manuela had dodged, she come to a stand...right on top of a rusty bear trap. Said bear trap was now clamped firmly around her leg, though the dull teeth had only managed to break a little ways in. Not debilitating, but painful. Leon crouched beside her, getting a tight grip around it. With a grunt, he pulled them apart, allowing Manuela to pull her foot out before he let go, the dull sides clicking together with a groan.

“Thanks. I was worried there for a moment when I saw him with that dynamite.” Manuela knelt down, inspecting the wound. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad. It should feel better in a few hours” she observed, rolling it a little.

“Just take it easy. I’ll take point for now. And we should keep an eye out. Seems like these guys are willing to use anything they can to take us out…”

“Sh…” Manuela commanded. “I think I hear something. It sounds like...banging. There’s something in that house” Manuela pointed. Leon nodded, moving towards the house, making careful motions around the remaining bear traps. Reaching the porch, kicked off the lock, entering with gun held high. Nothing but the banging greeted them.

Only one door lay before them. Moving into the next room, the two were greeted with a wardrobe, which was bouncing along with the banging. Leon nodded towards it and they took up opposite sides. The latch was lifted and…

...a man fell down, bound on the wrists and gagged. The man’s panicked eyes gazed back at them as he struggled to get away. Leon knelt beside him, tearing the tape off.

“A little rough, don’t you think?” he asked with a Spanish accent. Leon turned him over, working on the bonds. “You’re not like them?”

“No, and neither is she” Leon motioned as the man rolled away, rubbing his wrists.

“I only have one very important question: you got a smoke?”

“I got gum” Leon snarked, turning as he heard foot steps. Two armed villagers stood at the door, though they made no approach. Then he came in. A roughly seven foot tall, angry looking, bearded man with a red eye and a trench coat. The released man regarded the giant with a look of tiredness and slight amusement.

“Perfect. The big cheese.”

“What?”

Hoping to catch him by surprise, Leon threw a spinning back kick. He was more than a little surprised when he was caught solidly. He had just enough time to start panicking before he was hurled into the wardrobe, landing on Luiz. He had just enough consciousness to hear gunshots firing.
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