Chapter 3: Prelude to a Disaster

Alexis sighed as she stared out the bars of her cell. She was in some sort of dungeon area, that was for sure. Where else would there be iron maidens, electric chairs, water chambers, and various instruments of torture? They were all about the dim, stony room she was in now. The very left-hand corner of the room itself served as half of her cage with iron bars closing the other two sides. The only furniture decorating her prison was a small wooden cot with a thin blanket and a pillow so stiff it might as well have been a rock. There was a door, sure. But it was padlocked tight, and unless she suddenly got strong enough to bend the bars, Alexis didn't see how she was going to escape.

Why are they doing this to me, she wondered, I'm only 14 years old, I can't possibly know anything they haven't already figured out. Unless…maybe they're not holding me here for information at all. Maybe they just want to experiment on me, turn me into some sort of horrible mutation. Maybe they're already gearing up the proper equipment…

She was interrupted from her morbid thoughts when the only door to the miserable little room suddenly flew open and the tall, blonde man wearing sunglasses stepped in.

Alexis instinctively retreated to the farthest corner of the cell. She had seen this man before and knew he was dangerous. In fact, he was one of the military-whackos who had helped kidnap her from her Florida home.

The black-clothed man shut the door behind him, then strode leisurely up to the cell as if it were all the most natural thing in the world.

He grinned when he saw the terrified young girl in the back of the enclosure.

"So, how are you doing today, Alexis? Comfortable?"

"As comfortable as I can be with a rock for a bed. Tell me, is this the latest in torture? Having to sleep on a big splinter with fig-leaf blankets and an iron pillow?" Alexis didn't know why she was poking fun at the man, she was just scared. More scared than she had ever been in her life. This wasn't like the times she'd dreamed of monsters and ghosts lurking in the shadows. This time she couldn't just wake up and have Mr. Rosken or Mrs. Phelps come running in and give her a nice cup of tea or cocoa and tell her everything would be alright.

The man in the shades actually seemed amused. "Ah, trying to be funny, are we? Well. Isn't that something. But I'm not really in the mood to kid around right now, dear. I just want you to tell me a few things, that's all. Co-operate, and maybe you'll see your family again. But if you choose to be a problem, well…" The man gestured to all the horrible torture devices hanging on the wall and lying around the room.

Alexis barely stifled a cry. Some of those things looked awfully sharp! She could just imagine the Shades Guy cutting into her with a saw, or maybe stabbing with a knife…

"Well, if you don't want to play nice," Shades Guy continued in that low, smooth- as- marble voice of his, "Then I guess playtime is going to get a little rough, if you know what I mean."

Alexis frowned. She knew exactly what he meant. "Alright. I'm game."

Shades guy rubbed his hands together. "Good. First question…"

Shades Guy never got the chance to finish. The door swung open and a thin man wearing the same weird army-like outfit as the guys whom Alexis had seen earlier burst through the threshold.

"Wesker, we have a problem! There's been a T-virus spill at one of the research compounds and all our personnel there are either dead or infected. To top that off, all of our security systems are going berserk. We've lost communication with the other research compounds, and the B.O.W. containment systems are off-line. We're going to have those creatures running all over the island! "

The man's voice was shrill and frantic, like he was on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, which he probably was.

Wesker turned on the frenzied man.

What happened next happened with such speed Alexis barely saw it.

Wesker moved so fast he looked like a black blur, and the next thing she knew, the frantic military-man was laying on the ground with his throat ripped out--his blood already starting to puddle and seep into the cracks of the stony floor, his body still twitching in it's final death-thros.

"I hate bad news." Wesker told the corpse matter-of-factly as he drew a little black cloth from his pocket and began to wipe the blood from his hand, "Especially when it comes in the form of a whining sissy-boy about to pee his pants."

He turned to Alexis and gave a cruel, evil smile that seemed to penetrate her very soul.

"Oh well. Duty calls. I guess we're going to have to take a rain check on that whole questioning session."

Without another word, Wesker slipped out of the room, leaving Alexis with only a corpse for company.

"Wow, this is a nice jet." Chris said for about the hundredth time since they'd first seen it in the airstrip. Now they were all aboard, and, using the coordinates Alan had given him, Chris was already flying them towards the Florida Keys.

And indeed, it was a nice jet.

Although a bit lacking in size, the outside was glossy, jet-black and very high-tech looking; it had reminded Claire of the new stealth bombers she'd seen on T.V. before. The inside was only about twenty feet long from cockpit to back-end, and probably half as wide, but it was very, very high-tech looking, with fancy, leather seats situated next to very complex controls full of blinking lights and moving gages. Everything about the aircraft was new and the latest in software and technology.

Claire couldn't even begin to guess what half the fancy switches and stuff were for, but one thing was certain--this was not a run-of-the-mill personal jet, if there even was such a thing. Whoever owned this jet had money. Big time.

Claire settled down in the passenger seat next to Chris and watched the clouds go by in a blur as Chris maneuvered the aircraft on it's course. This craft was very fast. Faster than the speed of sound, probably much faster.

The only sounds to be heard other than the bleeps and bloops of the controls were the noises Alan made preparing weapons in the back.

Claire listened to these noises with growing curiosity. Was it just her, or was the motor of this jet oddly quiet?

"I've prepared a basic survival kit in case things get ugly." Alan's voice penetrated the low hum of the jet's motor, "I brought along a medical kit, a couple of guns, and some grenades in case we need them. Oh, and some knives too. Never know when they might come in handy."

He seemed almost cheery. Claire wondered what was up with that. Given her experiences with crooked pharmaceutical companies and deranged scientists working in secret labs, she was not one to laugh at the potential danger they were about to cross into.

Well, maybe he just doesn't fully understand what we're up against, Claire reasoned, Maybe he just wants to play the big hero, kind of like the way Steve did.

Claire snuggled into her seat, liking the feel of the smooth leather against the skin of her arms.

Don't worry, Steve, she thought to herself, If you're there, we'll find you.

"So, I was just wondering, Alan." Chris asked the young man in back, "How exactly are we going to approach this HCF base? I mean, I have this vision of us flying over the facility and getting shot out of the sky faster than a duck in a hunter's convention. Kinda hard to save the world in itty bitty pieces."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that." Alan replied, "This is one of their registered jets. They're sure to recognize it. All you'll have to do is supply them with the landing code when they ask for it."

"And what exactly is the landing code?"

"Um, T6494, I think."

"You think?!" Claire asked, incredulous. She turned over in her seat to face him.

"Alan, if you're off even by one digit…"

"I know! But I'm pretty sure that's the right code! Besides, there's a chance they might not ask for it at all. This aircraft belongs to one of their top officials."

"Oh, that's nice to know." Chris muttered, "And what exactly do we tell this guy's friends if they come out to greet him and find us instead? 'Oh, sorry. We had to borrow this jet so we could get to your island and blow up all your facilities so you won't be able to carry out your evil plans?' Yeah. I'm sure they'd like that."

"Speaking of bombing, do you plan to just fly over the island and hit it with some missiles?" Claire asked, desperately hoping the answer was 'no'.

Chris frowned. "That would be a good idea, if this jet had any weapons armed. I checked the grid when we first got aboard. This baby can fires all sorts of missiles and bombs, but it's empty. Out of everything. Like nobody bothered to stock it up. Besides, even if we had missiles, I wouldn't know which buildings were important."

Relief. She didn't know why, but Claire had a strong feeling Steve was on the island. Almost like she could sense his presence.

"We'll just have to figure it out when we get there." Alan supplied, "We could hack into the main computer system and set the place to self-destruct. Then, Kablooie! No more virus!"

"Or Kablooie, no more us." Claire pointed out, "Some self destruct systems don't give you as much time as you want to get away. Believe me, I speak from experience. I've almost been toasted by self-destruct systems."

"Same here." Chris gushed, "We'd better make sure we have a secure escape route before we push the button or whatever. But...I guess we'll worry about that when we get there. According to my instruments, that'll be in about an hour, give or take a few minutes."

"Hey, this is a bit off the subject, Alan, but won't your parents be wondering where you are?" Claire asked, hoping to draw the teen out of his shell, "I mean, you look about…"

"I'm eighteen." Alan cut in, "And I could be asking you the same thing." He didn't sound rude, exactly, just a little…uncomfortable. She thought she detected a bit of a nervous edge in his tone.

Definitely weird. Alan didn't seem to like to talk about himself much.

"Actually," Claire replied coolly, "I'm nineteen. Already done with high-school and everything. I like motorcycles, cheeseburgers, and traveling. How about you?"

Alan blinked. "Oh, uh…yeah, I guess I like those things too." He replied, totally misunderstanding Claire's question.

Oh brother. But Claire decided not to press it. There was no sense in getting Alan all jumpy and weird. Maybe he'd had a bad family life and just didn't want to talk about it.

Or maybe, Claire suspicioned, there's something else going on with Alan.

Wesker stood alone in the hangar at the HCF facility, a frown deepening on his face. What the hell happened to my jet?

There were about four planes in the hangar at this moment, but Wesker's precious state-of-the-art black jet was missing.

I could've sworn it was here yesterday…somebody's going to have a lot of explaining to do! His mind raged.

The spilled virus, as well as the B.O.W.S., hadn't quite reached this part of the island yet. Not that he was worried--with his new superhuman powers he was sure he could dispatch them quite easily--but Wesker had wanted to make sure he had a secure escape plan. That was why, after assessing the damage, he had gone down to the hangar. Sure, he could escape in one of the planes, if need be, but Wesker was particularly fond of his jet. It had cost him quite a bit of money.

And I'd just had the inside all redone, too. He thought bitterly.

The faint sound of shoes slapping concrete caught Wesker's attention. Ever since he'd gotten his virus, his senses--as well as his strength and speed--had greatly been heightened.

Now he could hear someone breathing. The sounds were coming from the other side of the hangar, and by the rhythm of it, Wesker could tell whoever was there was trying not to be noticed.

Quick as lightning, he zipped over towards the sounds, expertly dodging the planes along the way, and the next instant he was holding a small, scruffy man wearing a tweed jacket up by the neck.

"Aaa….Wesker….igs jusk me." The scruffy man replied, and Wesker let him drop.

It was Sam, one of the guys who worked here.

Wesker had only met him once or twice, but he'd never really paid much attention to the small, brown-haired man who helped tune the planes and jets in the hangar.

"Sam. I'm going to ask you this just once: what happened to my jet?" Wesker's tone was not at all friendly--things were just not going his way today.

Sam rubbed his neck, and Wesker watched with increasing agitation as he began sweating--his face turning red, as if he knew he was screwed.

"Well…your jet…was that shiny black one, wasn't it?" Sam sounded like he was about to cry, "Well it…it kinda got…misplaced."

"What?!" Wesker roared. He yanked Sam up by his throat and threw him against the wall, not hard enough to do anything serious, but hard enough to let him know he wasn't fooling around. "How do you misplace something as big as a jet?!"

Sam trembled against the wall, not daring to get up. "We got a call the other day. It was your son, Alan. He said that you wanted it flown to someplace in California for restocking. I had no reason not to believe him! I sent Nathan out to fulfill the order. But…Nathan never came back. And he never called."

Wesker was beyond angry. This simple little jerk had taken orders from his son?!

"You mean to tell me that you took orders directly from Alan and you didn't even think to check in with me first?"

"No! I mean yes! Well…Alan is your son! I…"

Without a word, Wesker reached down and picked Sam up by the collar of his business shirt with just one hand.

The man struggled considerably. "Please Wesker…..I don't want to die!"

"Sam. Alan does not work for this company, I do. I'm afraid you've made a very foolish mistake." Wesker's voice was calm again, but there was no mistaking the anger it.

He was just about to smash Sam's brainless little skull right through the wall when he heard snickering coming from just beyond the window in the first room that attached to the hangar.

The snickering was followed by rapidly retreating footsteps and the sounds of doors being opened and closed. An intruder? Or was it just another traitorous worker looking to carve himself a name by stealing secrets and creating total chaos? Either way, Wesker was not about to let him get away.

This was Sam's lucky day--Wesker dropped him like a bag of wet cement and tore off after the mysterious giggler.

The first thing Steve Burnside was aware of was his headache. It felt like someone had opened his skull and was now pouring molten lava into his head.

"Oh, man….where have I been?"

He was laying on his back somewhere staring up at more ceiling tiles than anyone ever had good reason to look at. All he had on was some weird-looking white hospital gown…if that was what you could call it. There was a faint buzzing in his ears, and his skin felt kind of….weird. Like he had a really bad case of pins and needles.

He tried to sit up. That's when he noticed all the electrodes and wires sticking out of his flesh in various places all over his body.

Or maybe needles and needles. He thought gloomy. What the hell happened to me? Where am I and how long have I been playing Sleeping Beauty in some mad scientist's lab? Where's…where's Claire?

Steve forced himself up and refrained from crying out as he tore all the wires from his body. It hurt like a giant wasp stinging every time he pulled one free.

Now he had a clear view of the room he was in, and he nearly fainted at the sight.

Monsters! There were tanks full of monsters everywhere!

They came in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some were like the monsters he'd fought back at Rockfort. Others were new. One looked like it had once been a crocodile, but now it was disfigured so badly it was hard to tell. Another one was about the size of a large dog and sported a slick, red, furless body with oversize ears and birdlike legs ending in fierce, curved talons. It obviously stood on it's two hind legs in much the same fashion as a kangaroo, but it's head was clearly serpentine--Steve could just make out the long, protruding tips of wicked-looking fangs from it's mouth.

All the mutations were floating in a kind of greenish fluid, sleeping in suspended animation. They were hooked up to banks of computers along the far wall. Steve decided he didn't want to look anymore.

He got off the stretcher he'd been laying on and studied the computer he'd been hooked up to with the wires.

It was considerably larger than the rest, and the screen was now displaying 'Subject Not Detected' in big, red, capital letters.

Yeah, no kidding. The party's all set up, so where'd everybody go? Steve was getting more confused by the minute. He had no idea where he was. For all he knew, he could still be in the Antarctic base. Then again, he could be just off the coast of Japan for that matter. As for time, he wasn't even sure what month it was anymore.

How long did they have me on that stretcher? Nobody was around to answer his silent question.

But Steve was willing to bet there were people around. They'd probably just went off on lunch break or something and forgotten all about him. Lucky him.

Well, the first thing I have to do is get out of this hospital gown and into something more complimentary.

Steve began to search the room.

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