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

Chapter 7

Leon led the way down the dim corridor, glancing back at his charge frequently to be sure she was keeping up. Sara followed closely, wisely leaving a space cushion between them to avoid collision if they had to retreat.

Leon thought of Sara’s courage in interceding to save him from the B.O.W. She had surprised and impressed him. He recalled her bright, dark eyes turned upon him. Through the fear he had read there, he perceived true strength and valor. He was glad of that; she would need to draw on them to survive this ordeal then and thereafter.

Leon then reflected on the deceased victims, now reduced to names to be mentioned cursorily on newsfeeds and news segments until they were forgotten entirely. How many more lives would be sacrificed at the hands of mad people looking to destroy the world? Leon’s resolve to save Sara increased exponentially.

They hadn’t walked very far when Leon heard Hunnigan’s voice transmitting to his earpiece.

“Leon, come in. Leon, do you read me?”

He halted, signaling Sara to wait. “I read you, Hunnigan.”

“Thank God. You and Dana went dark. I’ve been trying to contact you, but there was no response. I’m not getting a reading on Dana. Is her tracker malfunctioning?”

“Agent Liu… didn’t make it,” Leon answered quietly, his eyes downcast. “We got ambushed. She was attacked and infected by a B.O.W. I had to… terminate her.”

“My God…” Hunnigan maintained a grieved silence. Presently she resumed. “What about the missing women? Please tell me there were survivors.”

Leon glanced at Sara who was alternately watching him and looking around cautiously. “There’s only one survivor left: Sara Rios. She’s with me now.”

Hunnigan sighed disappointedly. “Okay. Uh, I’m having trouble pinpointing your location. You seem to be in an uncharted part of the facility.”

“Fantastic. I was counting on some guidance to get out of this hellhole.” Leon sighed. “Okay. I’ll figure something out. What’s going on topside?”

“The BSAA unit is on watch on Manhattan Island in case things get out of hand. When you’re ready to evacuate, let me know; they’ve got a chopper on call. Once you give me the word, I’ll contact them and get back to you with the ETA.”

“Where’s the extraction point?”

“The tower on the northernmost part of the island. There’s a helipad on the roof, but it’s Ramsey’s personal headquarters, so you should probably expect resistance,” Hunnigan replied.

“Naturally.”

“I’ll send you the coordinates for the extraction point. Good luck, Leon.”

“Thanks, Hunnigan. I’ll be in touch.” Leon turned to Sara who was staring at him anxiously. “We’re running blind down here, but hang tight. It’s gonna be okay,” he told her reassuringly.

Sara gave him a dubious look and gripped her gun tightly. “Okay.”

Accustomed to being caught in such predicaments, Leon turned and led them on, his mind steady and focused.

Presently, they came to a steel door. Leon tried it, silently hoping it would be unlocked. Happily, the knob turned easily, and he pushed it open. Behind him, Sara breathed a low sigh of relief. But they weren’t out of the woods yet. Not by a longshot.

Leon motioned to Sara to stay back while he assessed the area. Guns aimed, he looked about. They stood in another hallway, this one branching both east and west. It was dimly lit by rough service light bulbs pendent from the ceiling. There was no one to be seen, and it was as silent as a tomb. Satisfied that the coast was clear, Leon signaled Sara to follow him.

“Which way?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Leon considered. “Right,” he said at last. They cautiously made their way down the corridor. It ended quite abruptly, however, at a wall decorated with a large relief of a deity.

“Dead end…” Sara muttered disappointedly. “This is a pretty odd place for artwork,” she noted.

Leon squinted at the relief. “Sure is.” He turned on his flashlight and analyzed the relief carefully. It seemed vaguely familiar to him. A winged man, wrapped in a winding serpent and crowned with wings stood at the center of a halo of the zodiac signs. In his right hand, he held a scepter. “Phanes,” Leon declared.

“As in ‘the Phanes Project’.” said Sara, coming up beside him.

“Yeah.”

“Wasn’t he the Greek god of creation?” Sara asked, likewise turning on her light to inspect the relief more closely.

Leon turned to look at her. “You know about Greek mythology?”

Sara scoffed. “I’m the poster girl for escapism,” she replied.

Leon regarded her momentarily with interest, but quickly resumed his examination of the relief. “What is a piece of art like this doing on an end wall?”

“Good question,” Sara agreed.

Leon leaned forward, his attention arrested by two odd details. “In every picture I’ve ever seen of this guy, his scepter’s always in his left hand. Here, it’s in his right, and his left hand is empty.”

“You’re right. Maybe they made a mistake on this one.”

“Not likely.” Leon holstered his guns and traced his hand along the relief. He touched Phanes’ right hand and the scepter it held. The scepter was made of steel, the figure’s grip loose on its shaft. He took hold of it and pulled it up and out of Phanes’ grasp.

Sara studied it, intrigued. “Maybe it’s a key to something,” she suggested.

Leon glanced at her and nodded. “My thoughts exactly.” He shifted the scepter and inserted it into the figure’s waiting left hand.

A low click sounded, followed by a grating noise as the relief receded into the wall then slid to the left, revealing a darkened room beyond.

“Whoa,” Sara breathed. “A hidden room. Just like something out of a movie.”

“The creativity of these bastards never ceases to amaze me,” Leon muttered. He drew a single gun and stepped over the threshold guardedly. Immediately, fluorescent lights came on, illuminating the room in a blaze of brilliant light and revealing a lab of considerable size.

Two idle computers were set up on separate tables. Four portable lab cabinets were lined up at the far end of the room. They were covered with various jars and bottles in different sizes. A large mobile bookshelf stood beside the door occupied by thick binders and notebooks. Against the far wall was a mobile glassboard scribbled with virtually illegible notes and complex formulas.

“Looks like someone’s got a private lab,” Leon said. “We might have just hit the jackpot. There should be data on the Phanes Project on these computers.”

The second Sara stepped in behind him, the hidden door slid shut. She gasped softly. She groped the edges, looking for an opening. “God, tell me we’re not trapped in here,” she worried.

“No; if there’s a way in, there’s a way out. There’s gotta be a switch or something,” Leon said.

He surveyed the layout of the room, taking in its contents; specimen samples in jars and chemistry equipment. “I wonder who this lab belongs to. They obviously don’t want Ramsey to know what they’re working on here. This part of the facility isn’t mapped, according to my field support agent.”

Leon took a seat at one of the computers and, laying his gun on the table, he began searching the desktop files. Sara wandered around the lab, studying the binder spines and exploring the cabinets and drawers.

Leon pulled up file after file, searching for anything labeled “Project Phanes”, but found nothing. “Damn it! There’s got to be something about it here.”

“Leon, look.” He glanced up to see Sara approaching him with an ID badge that read “Dr. Liam Grey” beside a picture of a hard-featured man with silver-streaked red hair. Leon took it and examined it.

“The soldiers who killed the prisoner across from me mentioned a ‘Doc Grey’,” Sara explained. “One of them said something about it being Grey’s project. Maybe he’s the scientist who’s been doing the experiments. I found this, too.” Sara held up a .45 caliber pistol. “I think it’s loaded.”

Leon reflected on this information, his brow furrowed. “Ramsey’s the mastermind, so Grey must be the hired brain for Ramsey’s plot. And judging by that .45, it looks like he’s more than just an egghead. This secret lab means Grey’s working on some extracurricular activities aside from Project Phanes. I’ll ask Hunnigan to do a rundown on him.”

Sara returned to her exploration while Leon continued to comb through the computer’s drive. His frustration increased as the search proved fruitless. He put both elbows on the table, cradling his face in his hands as he stared at the monitor, confounded. Presently one folder on the hard drive stood out to him. It was labeled simply “AO”. Leon cocked his head to one side, his mind working. “AO…,” he mused aloud.

He thought over what he knew about Greek mythology and references. “Greek symbols… Phanes is the god of creation… Creation marks the beginning. The Alpha. The symbol for Alpha is ‘A’. This project is the means to an end. The Omega. The symbol for Omega is a partial ‘O’.”

Sara came up beside him almost unnoticed. “Did you find anything?”

“I think so,” Leon replied. “I’ve been looking for the obvious--a file named for the project. But this has to be it: the Alpha/Omega file.” Leon clicked the folder to open it. A dialog box opened immediately prompting him to enter a password. “Damn! File’s locked.”

Sara stared at the screen. “Can you request a password prompt?”

“That might give a clue, at least.” Leon clicked the link on the dialog box and went on to request a reminder. A new dialog box opened with the following prompt: “Fear and Terror I begat.”

“What the hell does that crap mean?” Sara groaned.

Leon threw himself back against the chair. “Damn these riddles!” He reread the text, sighing.

" ‘Fear and Terror I begat’,” Sara mused. “It personifies fear and terror.”

Realization dawned on Leon. He looked up at Sara, eyes alight. “That’s it!”

Sara stared at him, puzzled.

“It personifies fear and terror, referring to them as offspring. Everything pertaining to this project is named after something connected with the Greek pantheon. I think the password is the name of whatever god fathered those deities. Sara, can you remember anything about that?”

Sara exhaled sharply and closed her eyes. “Gods of fear and terror… Phobos, yeah, god of fear. And Terror...?” Her brow furrowed in concentration. “Deimos! Phobos and Deimos were twin brothers, sons of Ares, god of war.” She opened her eyes and fixed them on Leon. “It’s gotta be Ares.”

Leon entered the name into the waiting password field. Immediately, the file opened revealing a list of individual files. Sure enough, at the top of the list, was Project Phanes. “I’m impressed,” he told her, clicking on the file folder.

“I didn’t really do anything,” Sara said.

“Yeah, you did: you just got us into the Phanes file.” He gestured at the spread of data filling the screen. Her eyebrows shot up at the sight.

Leon analyzed the data. He perused the early entries into the research log which included the objective of the project.

Project Phanes consisted of two viruses: Alpha and Omega. The Alpha Virus wasn’t elaborated upon therein, but the data on Omega was extensive. The virus was designed to create a female B.O.W. entitled Nyx. “Nyx” was to be a controlled mutation with superhuman strength and agility but whose primary function was to produce spawn. These spawn would form an army for the purpose of waging war against world governments. The ultimate goal: global domination with the threat of humanity’s annihilation.

The catalyst for Nyx’s creation was the introduction of the Omega Virus into the body of a live human female host. Pending successful bonding of the virus with the host’s blood cells, the controlled metamorphosis of the mutant Nyx would begin.

Leon’s jaw tightened as he read the information. He moved on to the files pertaining to the “failed” experiments; the unfortunate women whose blood had not bonded with the Omega Virus. He scanned each of the photos in turn, steely anger and poignant grief taking hold of him. Conclusive notes on these failed test subjects pointed Leon to a subfile labeled “Ares”.

The subfile opened up a series of subfolders. Leon leaned forward intently, his frown deepening as he went through them. “Jesus…,” he muttered. “Grey’s been recycling the victims.”

“What?” asked Sara, pulling up the other chair and sitting beside him.

“All that blood work was to confirm whether or not the subject was a match for successful fusion with the Omega Virus. Those who weren’t got recycled as B.O.W.s. Harpy, Cyclops… If those failed, Grey terminated them. Here’s a video.”

Leon selected a video under the “Harpy” file, and they watched a lab technician inject a test subject. In a matter of seconds the woman mutated into a hideous clawed creature with large, bat-like wings.

Sara covered her mouth in horror. “Oh, my God!”

Leon shoved the keyboard away from him. He exhaled sharply and passed his hand over his face. Disgust, sorrow and fury blackened his countenance.

“You’re grieving for them,” Sara said, shattering his abstraction. There was a note of surprise in her voice.

Leon turned to face her. “I am,” he replied. “I’ve seen this too often. Wasted lives, people used and disposed of like trash at the whim of a maniac.” Memories of those who had died in past outbreaks crowded his mind, threatening to suffocate him.

Sara glanced at him empathetically then looked back at the monitor. “I hope I don’t end up like them,” she said in a hushed voice.

“You won’t,” Leon said resolutely.

Sara scoffed. “And you can promise me that?”

Leon drew a breath, releasing it in a guttural sigh. “I never make promises I can’t guarantee to make good on. But I don’t give up easily, and if my track record is any indication, I die pretty hard. The rest… we’ll have to take on faith.”

Sara turned her eyes to him again, smiling plaintively. “Good enough, I guess,” she said.

Leon returned the smile encouragingly, realizing that he enjoyed encountering her clear and direct gaze. He turned back to the computer, scrolling through the victims until he found Sara’s profile. The data he saw therein made his expression harden into severity.

“What is it now?” asked Sara, quaveringly. Without waiting for his response, she thrust her face up to the screen. She quickly recoiled, the blood draining from her face.

Sara’s profile was displayed. The words “Cellular fusion complete” stood out in bold red text over her photograph. Sara’s DNA had bonded successfully with the Omega strain, guaranteeing a seamless transmutation.

“Oh, God,” Sara said hollowly. “I’m Nyx!”

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