Chapter 16: Grande Finale

Oh great, competition. Wesker thought bitterly upon Alexia's arrival onto the scene. His eyes glowed red through his shades, and there was no doubt when he spoke it was to her.

"You can kill the others if you want, but Chris is mine."

Alexia was not convinced. "Yours? He killed me!"

Wesker shrugged, demonstrating that he did not really care.

"So? You want to fight for him?" His voice was light and carefree, as if he were not at all concerned with the concept of fighting Alexia again.

Behind him, what was left of Wesker's team readied their guns, but did not move as they were waiting for their leader to give the order.

Alexia laughed suddenly, surprising everybody. "Did it ever occur to you, brain-trust, that if we fight over him he and the others will have a better chance of escaping both of us?”

Chris, Steve, and Claire exchanged worried glances.

Kitty mewled in discomfort and began licking the blood from her wounds.

Alfred and Ash had almost made it down the stairs.

Alexis emerged from the computer room and looked down onto the scene below with horrified eyes.

Alan, now on the ground, crouched behind an earthmover just out of sight of prying eyes and readied his rifle, prepared to shoot when necessary. He had a feeling things were about to get very ugly.

Wesker put a finger to his chin, as if mulling it over. But he'd already decided that, no matter what his personal feeling towards Alexia were, she was right about this one. A fight between him and Alexia would work to Chris's advantage, and he couldn't have that, could he?

"What do you propose then?"

Alexia's lips curved into a wicked grin, and she rubbed her white-gloved hands together.

"An all out battle, of course." She purred, "My team against yours. Whoever kills Chris first kills him first. But you and I do not fight each other until he is dead. Won't it be interesting to see who will be quickest?"

"Sounds fair enough to me." Wesker agreed, "Especially since everyone knows that when it comes to speed, you can't hold a candle to me!" In a flash of wild movement, Wesker zipped forth at seemingly supersonic speed and punched Chris in the midsection hard enough to land him on his back in the dirt.

And that is when all Hell broke loose.

The dozen or so HCF members opened fire on Alexia, but the area around her was so hot that their bullets exploded harmlessly in front of her without ever hitting her.

She retaliated by flecking them with blood from her open wrist and watching them burst into flames.

Alfred opened fire on a few of the HCF survivors and proved to be a better shot than he had earlier. He killed two of the dozen in just a few shots, their lifeless bodies dropping to the ground in a bloody mess. Figures, He thought, Sometimes I can shoot a fly off a wall from hundreds of feet away, other times I can shoot 500 rounds in point-blank range and not hit a blasted thing. What is with that?

Wesker was poised over a fallen Chris and about ready to administer a lethal punch to the face when Claire jumped onto his back and tried to strangle him while Steve kicked him repeatedly in the side.

Wesker barely felt it, but he was more than a little annoyed. He jerked up with blinding speed and threw Claire off as easily as if she were no more than an annoying little rag doll.

Steve was there in an instant and punched Wesker as hard as he could in the jaw. That was not one of his better ideas. He retracted his fist, howling in pain. It had been like hitting a brick wall! Every bone in Steve's hand felt like it had been shattered into a million pieces.

However, that was soon to be the least of his worries.

Wesker grabbed the young man's arm and twisted it in a direction it was clearly not meant to go with such force it broke with a sickening snap. He pulled Steve closer to him and kicked him so hard he literally went flying several feet away to land in a painful heap next to Ash.

Ash, who had managed to grab a gun from one of his father's kills, shot at Steve and hit him in the leg with a piercing bullet.

"I warned you once!" Alfred's son snapped over the chaos of the battle around them, "Now you die!" He was splattered all over with blood, turning his blue uniform purple in places and looking like he'd just walked out of a slaughter house. Some of the blood was his own. He prepared to shoot Steve again.

But his actions had not escaped the sharp eye of Alexis.

"Ash!" Alexis yelled so loud that almost everyone in the room looked up for a second, including Ash.

It wasn't much time, but Steve used it to his advantage and sprang up to tackle Ash, hitting with his one good arm. But he did notice that the pain in his other arm was starting to slowly subside, and he swore he could almost hear the bones knitting back together. One of the perks to super-fast healing.

Meanwhile, not so far off from where that was taking place, Wesker had Claire by the throat. He yanked her to eye-level with him, watching with pleasure as she twitched helplessly in his grasp.

"We've had a couple of run-ins by chance, even talked a bit briefly. That's not going to stop me from ripping your bloody heart out!"

Claire kicked Wesker with all the strength she had, but it did no good.

Attempting to hurt Wesker with only your arms and legs as weapons was a lot like beating on an armored tank, no matter how good of shape you were in.

With no thought for his own safety, Chris spun and kicked Wesker in the back. He might as well have kicked a concrete block.

$%#*! He's so strong! So terribly strong! Chris had no more time to think of the matter, however, as Alexia came up out of nowhere and smacked him sprawling clear into a pile of pipes laying on the ground more than 50 feet away.

She was so close to Wesker that she could've reached out and touched him.

Unfortunately for Chris, Alexia wasn't after Wesker, she was after him.

Chris sprang to his feet and pulled his magnum, frowning with disgust. Only two bullets left, what was I thinking? He fired both shots into Alexia. The Ashford didn't even falter in her stride.

Alexia made clicking, tsk-tsk sounds, mocking him. "Still trying the magnum?" She shook her head in disdain, "You're going to need more than that."

She's right. Last time I needed a linear launcher. Chris pocketed the empty magnum and briefly wondered how many handgun bullets it would take to bring Alexia down. He shook the idea from his head as soon as it entered. Way, way too many.

Instead, he grabbed a three-foot metal pipe from the pile he'd landed next to, thinking all the while how incredibly lame it was. It hadn't worked on Wesker, it wouldn't work on Alexia. Still, he liked the feel of it in his hands. The mere touch of it was oddly comforting. Not that he had any plans to attack Alexia with it. Quite the contrary. He planned to run away like Brad Vickers and only use it if he had to.

At the other end of the room, Wesker threw Claire to the ground and was about to stomp her face with his boot heel when Alan dashed from his most recent hiding place and hurtled into him, throwing all his weight into a colossal body-slam that knocked his father off balance.

He'd been hiding ever since the fray had began, watching out for his friends and prepared to help. He wasn't about to let Claire get killed.

Claire scuttled free and tore off to help Steve who was engaged in a vicious brawl with Ash.

Alfred closed in on Steve, laughing in that high-pitched voice everyone had come to know and hate. "You fight like a woman!"

"At least I don't dress like one!" Steve retorted as he broke free of Ash, dropped to the ground into a roll, and spun almost between Alfred's legs at just the right angle to kick him up in a very private place.

Alfred shut his eyes and made a face like he'd just sucked on a sour candy that was much too sour. He fell over backwards, dropping his sniper-rifle.

Claire grabbed it before Ash could and smacked the younger Ashford in the side of the face with it.

Ash staggered backwards as if drunk, a dark red welt forming on the side of his jaw. He only narrowly avoided being walloped over the head again by and angry Claire.

"Hey! You're not supposed to use it as a club!" He protested, regretting the words as soon as they left his mouth.

"Oh, thank you for reminding me!" Claire's smile was nothing short of murderous as she pointed the firearm at Ash.

Alfred, seeing Ash's plight, lunged past Steve and grabbed Claire by the ponytail. He yanked down hard.

Claire let out a piercing shriek and fell backwards.

Steve tackled Alfred, and within milliseconds all three were fighting and cursing in a vicious tangle.

The sniper-rifle fell to the ground where it was retrieved by Ash.

In another area of the cavern, Wesker knocked his son aside with the back of his hand. "Stay out of my way!" He warned, his voice raspy and dangerous, "Next time I won't be as gentle!"

His sunglasses had fallen off somewhere in the fray, and Alan found himself once more looking into those strange red and yellow slitted eyes.

Seeing that Alexia was about to get to Chris before he could, Wesker started in that direction and was stopped when one of his own teammates for some reason crossed his path, slowing him down.

Wesker grabbed his subordinate by the throat. "Now listen here, I have a Redfield to kill, and I can't have you blundering around in my way." He said, sounding entirely reasonable, just before he snapped the guy's neck.

By now, all the other HCF survivors save four were already dead. These four moved in on the Alfred-Claire-Steve-Ash fight, smart enough to know better than to get in the way between Wesker, Alexia, and Chris.

Knowing his chance for survival depended greatly on Wesker and Alexia not being able to get their hands on him, Chris darted behind a huge CAT earthmover. This just happened to be the same one Kitty had retreated behind when the fight had begun, and now the wounded Kiticore--disoriented and confused--ran out from behind the huge yellow piece of machinery.

"I thought they said that thing was supposed to be vicious!” Wesker scoffed at the sight of Kitty running out into the open like a scared puppy with it's tail between it's legs.

Alexia ignored it altogether and leapt up onto the roof of the CAT in a single bound. "Didn't think you could hide from me that easily, did you?"

Seconds later, she was joined on the roof by Wesker.

Chris couldn't believe his bad luck. "I thought you two hated each other!" He blurted in a last desperate attempt to get the two to focus more on each other than him. Chris's two worst enemies turned and glared at each other, but only briefly before returning their attention to Chris.

"We do, we just happen to hate you a little more." Wesker's grin was about as evil as they came. "What do you say, Alexia? Let's toast this freak!"

Alexia nodded and threw her blood all over the ground around an offended Chris.

"Freak?! Look who's talking! I'm not the one with the weird eyes or the fire-blood!" He darted over Alexia's spilled blood just before it burst into flame, "And while we're on the subject, since when does it take two super-beings to take down a normal S.T.A.R.S. member?" If he had to die, he wasn't going to allow them the luxury of seeing his fear.

That way, whenever the Raccoon S.T.A.R.S. are mentioned in the future, at least I'll be held in higher regard than Brad. At least they'll be able to say, 'Yeah, that Chris, he went out fighting. Looked Death straight in the eye and laughed.' Well, maybe not laughed, Chris thought as an afterthought, because then everyone would think I was completely insane like Alfred over there.

Wesker suddenly launched himself into the air as if trying to fly and pulled another of his trademark diving-punches.

Chris missed this one by inches. Only this time, there wasn't a load of I-beams hanging overhead and waiting to fall if someone jerked the pulley. There were I-beams around, sure. Tons of them. On the ground.

Alexia leapt down more gracefully than Wesker and picked one of the heavy I-beams up as easily as if it were made of paper.

Then she threw it. Straight at Chris.

The S.T.A.R.S. member spun around on his heel and dived to the side, missing the I-beam by a comfortable margin. However, he was feeling anything but comfortable at the moment.

No matter how he looked at it, it was just not fun--or safe--to fight foes that could hurl hundreds of pounds of steel at you with their bare hands. There was no doubt in his mind what would have happened if that I-beam would have hit him. You didn't just walk away from something like that. Well, not if you were normal, anyway.

Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Alexia snapped her head to the side like she had whiplash to study a brawl between Alfred, Ash, Alan, Steve, Claire, and what was left of HCF. Her gaze seemed to be especially focused on her brother, and now the twins were looking straight at each other with such an inflection that Chris wondered if the two were actually communicating telepathically. She looked to Chris, then back to the fight as if she were having a hard time making up her mind about something. Something decided her, and she dashed off, leaving Chris alone to deal with Wesker.

While all this was happening, Alexis was watching from above on the bridge and making some decisions. From what she could tell, this Wesker guy was pretty powerful, as was, apparently, her mother. Both had super-strength , and both seemed to have a killer urge to well…um...kill. This was one fight that Alexis felt totally divided on.

On one hand, she had her friend Steve and all of his friends. She didn't like seeing him or innocent people get hurt or killed by her ruthless family.

On the other hand, she didn't want to see her family hurt or killed either. Because, despite the fact that they were evil, despite the fact that they were cold hearted killers who had done many horrible things, and despite the fact that they obviously couldn't love her in return, Alexis still loved her family.

Is it wishful thinking, then that I might be able to help them? That I might reach out a hand and help pull them out of the dark Hell they have surrounded themselves with? Can I show them the light? Can I teach them to feel, to care? The more Alexis thought about it, the more she decided that she should at least try. Not openly, of course, and she definitely didn't want to live with them.

It would be a daunting challenge, she knew, and one that could take years to accomplish. But in the end, she just knew that was her purpose, one of her reasons for existing. Everything about it just felt so right. Where's the line between good and evil anyway? Sometimes the lines are blurred. Sometimes the rules aren't clear. Sometimes a person in a darker area may be able to move to a lighter one, perhaps without even realizing they are doing it. If given just the right nudge. All evil is rooted in good intentions.

Alexis remembered hearing that somewhere, and she believed it to be true. Some people tried to do all the right things in all the wrong ways.

All evil was just goodness warped, Alexis believed. Twisted, so to speak. And anything twisted could be untwisted to it's original shape, couldn't it? All she had to do was find the original intention somehow, and…..

She didn't know what would come next. She didn't even know when she'd see her family again to be able to try. And she didn't want to live with them, so how was she going to help them? The answer wasn't clear.

But right now, she knew, as the battle roared on below, she had to stop this fight or she might not have to worry about it any longer.

She reached a hand into her pocket and twined her fingers around the cylinder, an idea occurring to her. Everyone still alive was right down under her, battling for their lives. And they probably weren't far from emergency escape routes…Alexis slapped a hand to her forehead, suddenly feeling very stupid for taking the Self-Destruct cylinder.

If she were to activate the system, everyone would be forced to stop fighting. They'd be forced to flee to the hangar where planes were in plentiful supply. They would be able to escape. Nothing else mattered at the moment, just one step at a time.

Turning around, she tried the door she had just come through and grimaced upon finding it locked. How the heck had that happened? She banged against the door for a moment before spotting another one, almost hidden from view by it's superb camouflage job.

This door came open with ease, and Alexis raced into the adjoining room, determined to find another way to access the computer room.

Chris wanted to shout, to warn his sister and friend what was coming, but he never got the chance. Wesker shot into him like a bullet and ripped the pipe from his hand. Chris reached for the only other weapon he had--the Beretta-- and was stopped when Wesker hopped back like a well-trained fighter and executed a perfect kick to his chest, sending him down.

He's toying with me. Chris thought, terrified when it hit home. He had no doubt whatsoever that Wesker could've sent his ribs crashing through his heart with that kick if he would've put more effort into it.

As it was, he felt like he'd cracked a few ribs, but nothing more.

The wind had been completely knocked out of him and he couldn't move. However, that would only last a few seconds.

If he lived that long.

Wesker's grin reminded Chris of an evil jack-o-lantern. "No more playing around, Chris," He cackled evilly, "Now you die!"

"Yeah, like I haven't heard that one before." Chris said out of nervous reflex. Wesker was going to kill him anyway, what did he have to lose?

Even though he knew it would be useless, Chris tried to get up, to move away from Wesker--anything.

It didn't work.

Wesker hit him across the stomach with the pipe so hard he fell back down, barely stifling a cry. Then his ex-captain rammed the three-inch circumference steel pipe right through his lower stomach like a spear.

This time Chris couldn't hold back the intense screams of agony that escaped his throat.

The pipe had literally went right through one side and out the other--where it continued for a few inches into the dirt--pinning him to the ground in a rapidly-forming pool of blood.

Chris was so caught up in the most excruciating pain that he had ever experienced that he did not notice Wesker pull a very sharp bowie knife from a hidden sheath in his boot.

Wesker had almost never been more satisfied than he was right at that moment. He was finally going to get his revenge on that imbecile who had ruined his plans and made him appear incompetent in the eyes of others.

On some level, it was safe to say he was jealous of Chris. Jealous of the way the rest of the S.T.A.R.S. had bonded so quickly with Redfield, jealous of the fact that Chris had such a tight circle of true friends.

But Chris's most recent crime was by far the worst in Wesker's eyes.

The ever-so-popular Chris Redfield had managed to turn Wesker's own son against him. And that deserved so much more than death.

Wesker raised the knife, prepared to gut Chris like a fish.

And he would have, too, if Alfred had not gone flying into him just then like a quarterback making a tackle.

Now, if Wesker knew in advance that someone was going to lunge into him, he could brace himself and not be moved an inch.

However, Alfred caught him side-on and unprepared, and Wesker--dropping his knife in surprise--was knocked into a huge upright steel beam several feet in width and length, that supported the upper levels of construction. The knife landed a few feet away from Chris.

Alan and Claire--the reason Alfred had taken his life-saving dive in the first place--looked over to Chris and were horrified by the sight of the metal pipe sticking out of his body.

Claire was by her brother's side in a speed that rivaled Wesker's.

Ohmigodohmigodohmigod!! She thought, terrified she might lose him. "Alan! I could use some help!"

As if wakened from a trance, Alan raced over to Chris and Claire and put his hands just over Claire's on the pipe.

Ash saw his enemies weren't watching their backs, and used this opportunity to sneak up behind them. He snatched Wesker's fallen knife off the ground and moved right behind them, intending to strike once he was in range.

"One, two, three!" Alan and Claire yanked upward, freeing the pipe of it's fleshy sheath and unwittingly hitting Ash in the head with it, nearly giving him a concussion.

Dazed--and knocked halfway senseless--Ash dropped the knife and fell to his face on the ground like a drunkard.

His intended victims never noticed he was even there.

Alan tossed the bloody pipe over his shoulder without looking and examined Chris's wound. Once the pipe was removed, the blood had just started gushing, increasing their worries.

Not only that, but an infernal buzzing pierced the air in almost deafening loudness. "I am sorry to inform you that the Self-Destruct Sequence has been activated. This is irreversible, so don't even think about it. You have exactly seven minutes…no, make that six minutes and fifty-two seconds…to get the heck outta here before every facility on this entire island explodes with you with it, so you'd better start running! Have a nice day!" The cool female computer voice sounded so calm and ironically sardonic. Who the heck was going to have a nice day after hearing that type of a warning?

Paying the blaring siren as well as the strangest self-destruct warning she had ever heard little attention, Claire turned to Alan, tears rolling down her cheeks. "He's going to bleed to death! We have to do something!"

"What can I do?" Alan said, his voice choked with worry and fear, "I'm no medic! When it comes to medicine, I only know what my mom knows, which, frankly, isn't much unless you're interested in the potent healing powers of certain herbal teas!"

"We don't have time for tea!" Claire pointed out.

"Obviously!" Alan remarked, "Whatever gave you that idea?"

Not 70 feet away, it finally clicked with Alexia that she was only fighting Steve like some type of an idiot. In fact, all the HCF members had already been killed, and now this Burnside character was the only non-family member in this side of the cavern. Her patience tested to it's limit, she grabbed the young man by his throat and tossed him into the side of a CAT machine before returning her attention to more important matters.

Wesker was not happy. He made that perfectly clear when he grabbed Alfred by the back of the neck and slammed him against the steel pillar before tossing him up into the air and kicking him like a soccer ball in Alexia's general direction.

He was more than just mad, he was furious.

But Alexia had been closer to the Claire-Chris-Alan drama and snatched Claire's arm painfully' digging her nails deep into the flesh until red, dripping lines started to appear.

Alan had had about enough of seeing people he cared about getting hurt.

Acting on impulse, he found his father's knife laying on the ground, snatched it up, and rammed it up to the hilt in the flesh just below Alexia's neck on the left side of her chest.

It slid in surprisingly easy, Alan had worried at first that it might be like trying to drive a knife through solid metal. For once, he was glad he was wrong.

He pulled Claire free but was unable to save himself when Alexia flew into a fit of rage like some dangerous wounded animal and swatted him to the ground with a fiery hand.

A furious Alexia jerked the knife out of her chest with one hand and incinerated it in her palm, molten metal dripping down her wrist in a silver river. Fire sprang from the areas her blood dropped to the ground.

Before the young Wesker could move, she pounced upon him and twisted his arm at a vicious angle, breaking the bone.

"Five minutes before you're nuked! If you haven't already, you should really start thinking about escaping the island now. If you can hear this, you don't need Miracle Ear!"

At least now I know…Alan's mind was swimming and he really had no idea why he was even thinking about such trivial things just then. His arm hurt badly. So badly he could've swore someone was pounding on it with one of those spiked club thingys.

But Alexia was not through with Alan just yet. She jerked him up by the hair and dashed him against the side of an earthmover parked only a few yards away.

Alan went unconscious upon impact and slumped helplessly to the ground; a result of his head hitting a protruding edge of the machine at an odd angle.

Alexia started walking towards him.

By this time, Wesker had reached a dying Chris and was easily close enough to stomp his face in with the heel of his boot.

But he didn't.

He was too busy watching Alexia close in on his son.

"Four minutes until the big boom. What's wrong with you? Why haven't you left yet?" The computerized voice had been programmed to sound annoyed at this point, like it couldn't believe anyone was still around to hear the countdown.

From down on the ground, Chris stirred. "Are you just going to let her get away with that?" He moaned, barely conscious and fading quickly.

The question had been addressed to Wesker, and was actually more of a rhetorical question.

At that moment, something rare and wonderful happened.

Wesker's love for his son overrode his hatred for Chris, and he decided that saving Alan's life was more important than ending Chris's.

Forgetting all about the Redfields, and with no thought on his mind other than Alan, Wesker zipped forth and slammed Alexia aside. Savagely, he jumped in front of his fallen son, and the sheer ferocity with which he glared at Alexia with those red and gold cat's eyes made it all too clear to the T-Veronica enhanced Ashford that she would have to kill him to get past him.

"You touch Alan again and I will tear you to pieces." Wesker growled, and he had never sounded so dangerously serious.

Alexia glanced aside for a second and noticed that Alfred and Ash had come out of their daze and were heading out a previously unnoticed staircase leading up into daylight. Probably an emergency escape route activated only on the most extreme circumstances. Telepathically, Alfred was beckoning her to follow them, saying their mission was far too important to waste on other people.

She could hear Alexis coming down the stairs.

"Fine. Whatever." Alexia said. Of all the things she was rich enough to buy, time was not one of them. She backed away from Wesker and sprinted off after her family. There would be another day to finish this.

Wesker scooped a limp Alan up into his arms, his expression betraying his sadness and desolation.

He looked to Claire, Chris, and even the approaching Steve, and for once there was no hatred in his eyes.

Claire had a sinking feeling she knew why.

At first, she had thought Alan merely knocked unconscious. But now…with all the injuries he had endured, and knowing roughly how hard Alexia was capable of hitting…she honestly could not tell if Alan was even still alive.

And, much as she hated to admit it, Wesker was Alan's best chance of survival if he was still alive.

Without a word, Wesker--still holding Alan--zipped out the way the Ashfords had went and disappeared into the waning daylight.

The buzzing of the self-destruct system brought Claire to her senses.

"Come on, help me move him." She gestured to Chris and started to lift, Steve joining.

Both were too exhausted to say a word. But Chris was completely unconscious now, and moving him was no easy task.

"Three minutes until detonation. If you can hear this, you are most likely either a zombie or about to become one." The computer announced with it's usual cheer.

“Here, let me help." Neither Claire nor Steve had noticed Alexis sneaking up on them.

The youngest Ashford started to help with Chris.

"But aren't you...?" Claire started, looking at Alexis askance.

"Before you say it, the answer is yes, I'm an Ashford. But I'm a good Ashford, and I don't want to live with my family. I'll tell you all about it when we're not about to be blown to bits, 'kay?"

Nobody said another word or even pressed any farther.

It was simply too hard to argue with that kinda of logic.

Besides, now moving Chris wasn't quite so difficult.

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