Resident Evil: Field of Blood (Fireheart Fury Book 1)

Chapter 20

Leon stood immediately and whirled around to face the impending threat. A shot suddenly rang out and struck him dead in the chest, the impact thrusting backward onto the floor. The vest caught the bullet, but debilitating pain tore through him.

“Leon!” cried Sara. She crawled over to him, her features etched with alarm.

Gasping, Leon looked up at his assailant who was descending on a platform from a hidden panel in the ceiling.

The platform alighted and a tall, broad-shouldered man with dark hair stepped off and advanced. Leon instantly recognized him as Devon Ramsey himself.

Ramsey stopped before Leon, staring down at him with menacing gray eyes, his gun still trained on him. Ramsey’s gaze traveled quickly from the floor, littered with the contents of his desk, to the shattered display case. He turned a savage visage on Sara who sat on her heels beside Leon, glaring up at him.

Ramsey became livid. “What have you done? What have you done?!” he roared. “My life’s work, the future of the world twenty years in the making, and you’ve destroyed it all!”

Ramsey grabbed Sara’s hair with his free hand and forced her to stand. She cried out in fury and pain. “Thanks to you, Nyx is dead!” he roared at Leon, shaking Sara with the force of his hold.

Leon staggered to his feet, surmounting the sharp ache in his sternum. “It’s over, Ramsey,” he said gutturally. “Let her go.”

Ramsey twisted Sara about harshly, pressing her against him in a choke hold. “Get rid of your gun,” he said, indicating Leon’s second weapon.

Leon shot Sara a tense, hesitant glance.

“Don’t do it!” she exclaimed.

Ramsey yanked her head back, making her cut her words off in a strangulated cry.

Leon quickly drew his weapon and dropped it on the floor, wheeling it over to Ramsey who kicked it away.

“You ended my dream, my paradise,” Ramsey declared.

“Paradise!” Leon spat. “The destruction of innocent people? A world ruled by monsters, overrun by the undead? That’s no paradise; that’s hell on earth.”

“One man’s hell is another man’s heaven, sir. Neo-Umbrella disposed of me because they deemed me unworthy--my skill and capacity insufficient to bring their plans to fruition.” Ramsey laughed. “See how far the mighty fell, reduced to a memory. But I carved my own niche in the world. I built an empire, and mapped the path to a glorious era where the mighty would rise from the blood of the weak. With my queen, Nyx, beside me, I would rule, and our children would own the earth.”

“Like locusts overrunning the fields,” Leon said, glowering at him. “Face it, Ramsey, you’re no king and definitely no god. You’re a copycat recycling old ideas.”

“I am a genius!” Ramsey thundered. “Nothing those Neo-Umbrella fools concocted could hold a candle to my work here. They were nothing but children playing with fingerpaint, creating aberrations. But I found a way to create life and continue the cycle with perfect constancy.”

He looked down at Sara almost fondly, caressing her cheek with the muzzle of his gun. “Then I finally found my queen, and I could begin building my pantheon.” Ramsey turned a murderous gaze on Leon. “But you came, and in one fell swoop, you razed it all.”

Ramsey seized Sara by the scruff of her neck. She exclaimed in pain as he hauled her aside, and pointed the gun back to Leon. “Now, thanks to you, she’s useless to me. I can’t even clone her. The vaccine has permanently inoculated her blood cells against Omega.” He gave Sara a hard shove, sending her careening halfway across the room and into a cabinet. She crashed into it headfirst, and sank to the floor, dazed.

Leon winced with rage, turning smoldering eyes on his adversary.

“Mark my words, this was just the beginning,” Ramsey asserted. “I will end you right here, right now, then I’ll start over on a new canvas. And this time, not even the devil himself will be able to stop me.”

“Cleaning out scumbags like you isn’t in the devil’s agenda; that’s where I come in. You’re going down now, Ramsey,” Leon affirmed.

Never taking his irate gaze off Leon, Ramsey disassembled his gun and cast it aside. He drew a large, cruel-looking knife with a double-serrated blade, his mouth spreading into a malevolent grin. “Let’s see what you’ve got.” He lunged at Leon.

Leon twisted away in time to avoid the attack. Drawing his own knife, he assumed a defensive stance.

Ramsey laughed. “I’m gonna tear you apart!”

“Yeah? Okay, Ramsey. Show me the god you think you are.”

Ramsey slashed wildly at Leon, forcing him to bob and weave in order to dodge the strokes. His first assault unsuccessful, Ramsey withdrew, circling Leon guardedly as he strategized his next attack.

Leon eyed his movements carefully. The air crackled with tension as the men circulated each other, assessing the other’s defenses. Ramsey then lashed out, feinting a slash at Leon’s right flank, and as Leon moved to evade the attack, Ramsey jabbed the blade at his throat. Bending backward almost to the breaking point, Leon managed to avoid the strike.

Ramsey roared in frustration and charged furiously at Leon who deflected the blow deftly with his own knife. They parried and thrusted fiercely, their blades scintillating as they clashed.

The fight came to stalemate as Leon found himself caught in a deadlock with his adversary. The men pushed hard at each other, eye to eye. Leon felt his strength waning. He struggled against his weariness, clinging to the rush of adrenaline to aid him in the battle.

Growling, Leon pressed his full weight against Ramsey, breaking the deadlock at last. Ramsey staggered backward a full pace, and Leon seized the opportunity to deliver a quick sideways slash at his abdomen before dealing a hard side kick to his stomach.

Swearing foully, Ramsey gripped the streaming gash. Undeterred, however, he sprang at Leon once more, raining blows upon him hard and fast, his blade little more than a blur. It was all Leon could do to parry the oncoming strokes. At last, his sorely taxed strength cost him a missed counterblow. Ramsey struck out at him hard, knocking the knife out of his hand.

Leon reeled with the impact, and Ramsey followed up his advantage quickly with a hard back hand uppercut. Leon stumbled backward into the wall with a grunt. He rallied quickly, however, looking up in time to see Ramsey’s knife darting straight at him. Gasping raggedly, Leon spun out of its path. The blade struck just inches away from Leon, jutting out from the wall, its hilt quivering.

Snarling, Ramsey snatched up Leon’s fallen knife, intending to fling it at him. But Leon was faster. Tugging the knife out of the wall he whirled about and hurled it at Ramsey.

The blade struck true, plunging into Ramsey’s chest just inches above his heart. He staggered momentarily, his eyes wide as he dislodged the knife from his flesh, causing his blood to spray forth. A wet gurgle burst from his gaping lips, but he teetered on toward Leon, knife upraised, blood streaming from his mouth.

Leon stood ready to receive the attack, but at that moment Sara cried out: “Leon, catch!”

He looked over to see her slide one of his handguns over to him forcefully. It skidded across the floor, stopping at his foot. Immediately he seized the gun and sprang back up, firing a single shot to Ramsey’s head.

For several seconds Ramsey stood staring at Leon in shocked fury. At last he toppled to his knees before collapsing prostrate to the floor, a dark pool of blood spreading from his body.

Leon maintained his stance, regarding the corpse warily. Sara rose unsteadily and approached him, eyeing it nervously. “You did it,” she breathed. “It’s over.”

Leon lowered the gun slowly, but made no remark. He glanced at her and frowned with concern, noting a small gash on the side of her head.

Sara smiled faintly. “It’s not that bad,” she said, wiping the trickling blood away roughly.

“Thanks for the assist,” Leon told her.

“Of course.”

Leon turned back to Ramsey, unable to shake the ominous feeling that gripped him. “That was too easy,” he mused aloud.

Sara’s eyes snapped back to him. “Easy?! The hell it was! He almost killed you!”

“The endgame’s never this easy,” Leon continued, his thoughts drowning her out. “I don’t expect to break tradition in one night.” He looked up at Sara severely. “We’d better go.”

Sara headed for the door, gingerly stepping around Ramsey. “What are you expecting?” she asked, glancing back at him.

Leon gathered his strewn weapons and followed her, his eyes still locked on Ramsey. “I dunno, but I don’t want to wait around for any new developments.”

As he turned to follow Sara, a peal of laughter erupted from Ramsey’s gaping mouth. Leon halted with a stab of fear. Behind him, Sara stood petrified. The laughter grew louder, and Ramsey turned his eyes to look at them.

Shifting in his own blood, Ramsey started to his feet. He guffawed. “Look what you’ve done,” he said, his voice hideously distorted. “You killed Devon Ramsey, the man, but now you’ve unleashed the god. Behold: I am Phanes!”

Ramsey’s neck twisted awkwardly to the left, instantly going limp, the eyes glazing over. The flesh tore open, and another head began to sprout in its place. Ramsey’s body grew taller, his extremities elongating abnormally. Thick, sharp claws burst forth from his fingers. His skeletal structure bulged through his flesh, exposing it to full view. Two more arms shot out from his flanks equipped with clawed hands. Ramsey threw his head back and let out a deafening roar.

Leon retreated. “Run, Sara! Run!”

Sara sprinted out into the dark passage, Leon only two steps behind her, lighting the way with his flashlight. “Put in the password!” he shouted.

Ramsey’s thudding footfalls made the floor tremble beneath them. Leon heard Sara’s ragged breathing as she punched in the password “akeldama”. He breathed a quiet sigh of relief as the computer accepted the code and the door began to lift.

“Crawl under it. Go!” he told Sara.

Sara and Leon scrambled beneath the rising door. The instant he was on his feet, Leon fired a round at the exposed code panel. The door halted its ascent and slammed back down.

“That’s not gonna hold him off for long,” Sara remarked.

“I know, but I’ll take any head start I can get,” Leon replied.

No sooner had he spoken than Ramsey began battering and clawing at the door.

“Shit!”

Leon bolted away again, grabbing Sara’s wrist and pulling her with him. They raced through the gallery and down the corridor to the elevator. Sara pounded the button desperately as Leon turned back, ready to shoot if Ramsey appeared.

The gallery door crashed down as the elevator opened. Leon ushered Sara inside then boarded himself. Ramsey lumbered into view, roaring furiously as the gate slid shut.

“What happened?” cried Sara. “He was dead! How did he turn?!”

Realization rapidly dawned on Leon, as he began piecing together the facts. He remembered his research through Grey’s computer. The Alpha Virus. The file had said little about it, but now Leon understood. Ramsey’s words echoed in his mind: just the beginning.

“Grey’s been carrying the Alpha Virus all along. He must’ve administered it to himself a while back, probably keeping the infection in check by using a decelerant like he did with you. His death triggered hyper-accelerated mutation,” Leon concluded.

“Oh, my God,” Sara murmured. “What do we do?”

“Try to live,” Leon replied.

As the elevator descended slowly, a distant metallic screech echoed through the shaft. Leon and Sara exchanged uneasy glances. The car suddenly rocked and pitched dangerously as Ramsey, having leaped down into the shaft, landed atop it. With cries of surprise and alarm, Leon and Sara fell hard to the floor.

“Ah, damn. What a way to speed things up,” Leon grunted, as the car plummeted, the cables shrieking in protest at the weight.

“Oh, God, I think he wrecked the controls!” Sara realized, her face horror-stricken.

“Stay down!” Leon warned her.

The elevator stopped its terrifying plunge abruptly with a jarring jolt. The gate opened, the car hovering halfway above the landing where the hall doors were barely ajar. The only way onto the landing was to climb down out of the car; a potentially deadly endeavor indeed.

Leon noted all this quickly, Ramsey pounding violently on the car roof. He punched one gigantic fist down, leaving a deep indentation in the steel.

Without hesitation, Leon leaned out of the car and proceeded to force open the hall doors until they stood open far enough to create a crawl space. “Go, Sara,” he called to her over the din of buckling metal. He spared her a brief glance over his shoulder. “Get out!”

Quickly and silently, Sara crawled past him and began wriggling out of the car backward and down onto the landing.

Ramsey’s savage blows finally broke through the metal, and he reached a clawed hand in, swiping fiercely at Leon who pressed himself into a corner as far as he could to avoid it. He rolled onto his back and fired a shot at the grasping hand. Fierce triumph flowed through him at Ramsey’s infuriated howl of pain.

Leon flipped back onto his stomach and looked out to the landing where Sara waited for him anxiously. He began crawling out, but Ramsey hopped hard on the car, causing it to jerk and sway hazardously.

Leon balked, fearful that the car would crash down and sever him in half. He looked down at Sara who stood staring at him in sheer terror. “Run,” he commanded. “I’ll be right behind you.”

The car buckled alarmingly.

Sara stepped forward resolutely, her eyes flashing stormily. “I’m not leaving without you, damn it! Give me your hand.”

Leon dragged himself through the gate and reached out to her. Ramsey tore away part of the car roof like a tin can, raking at Leon once more. Leon felt the rush of air as the claws came far too close for comfort.

“I’ll tear you open and eat your guts!” Ramsey thundered.

Panic gave Leon a burst of energy. He thrust his hand out to Sara who caught it firmly and, grunting with effort, hauled him out of the car. He flopped onto the floor and quickly moved away. A second later, the car came crashing down, Ramsey’s infuriated snarls and swears reverberating throughout the shaft.

Panting with relief and exertion, Leon scrambled to his feet. “Move!” he cried.

Leon and Sara were off again. Looking back over his shoulder, Leon saw Ramsey rip the elevator doors open and shove his bloody bulk through the yawning portal. Ignoring the growing stitch in his side, Leon increased his speed, snatching Sara’s hand to help her match his velocity. She tightened her grip on his hand and ran on.

They made their way down the stairs with what haste they could and rushed through the antechamber. The wreckage of the truck and battered doors were in view.

“We’re almost out,” Leon shouted. He swiftly lifted Sara onto the hood of the truck. “Don’t stop. Keep going.”

As soon as Sara had climbed down the other side of the truck, Leon heaved himself up, using the rubble as a step ladder. They picked their way over the debris as briskly as they could. Leon stopped a moment to catch his breath, turning to look at the tower. Ramsey had just arrived at the door where he stood briefly, glaring at them malevolently.

“You think this will stop me?!” he boomed. He lifted the truck with inhuman ease and flung it aside. Sparks flew as it drifted several feet over the pavement.

Leon huffed. “Nope; didn’t expect it would,” he muttered.

There were no more plans, and nowhere left to hide. The extraction chopper was their only hope now.

“Stay behind me,” he told Sara. He drew his guns, prepared to make a final stand.

Suddenly a gruff, masculine voice barked out: “Get down!”

Leon and Sara whirled about to see who the newcomer was.

A tall, broad figure stood at a distance, little more than a silhouette against the flames that still burned from the garage and nitrogen truck explosions earlier that night. He held an RPG in his hands, poised and ready to fire.

“Get down, now!” the man ordered.

“Oh, shit!” Leon dropped to the ground, pulling Sara down with him.

The man fired the RPG. It zipped through the air, hitting Ramsey dead on and flaring up into a blinding, deafening explosion. Leon protectively shielded Sara with his body, hiding his face to avoid the flash that followed.

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