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Major Timothy Cain didn't take any shit.
He'd been born with a different name in Berlin back when the city was separated by a large wall. The third of four children, and the youngest boy, he had the misfortune to be on the wrong side of it. Shortly after Mother died, when he was sixteen, Father had managed to secure a way for them to emigrate to the United States. Upon arrival, Father had declared their name to be Cain -- an anglicization of their name in German -- and gave all his children new names. They were now Michael, Anthony, Timothy, and Mary, because those, Father said, sounded like American names. Anytime they used their old German names, Father would hit them until they stopped. Not being fools, all the children learned quickly to think of themselves with their new identities.
In gratitude to his new home, Timothy enlisted in the army on his eighteenth birthday. Shortly thereafter, he was sent overseas to fight in the Gulf War. Father was happy that his son did so. Michael, who was three years older than Timothy, had moved to Chicago and become a police officer; Anthony had moved to San Francisco and lost touch with the rest of the family. As for Mary, though women could serve, she had no interest in doing so, preferring a career in business.
Timothy Cain became alive for the first time in the desert. He had always succeeded academically, but mostly by rote. He was a fast learner, but he had never had much enthusiasm for it. The two years of school he'd attended since immigrating were difficult, since Timothy spoke with a thick German accent, which made him the target of teasing by his peers, and made it difficult for him to derive any kind of enjoyment from the learning experience.
Combat, though, he took joy in that, especially when that combat was against the enemies of the United States of America. And in the desert, nobody cared about his accent, except for a few idiots, and they all shut up once they saw Timothy Cain in action.
It didn't take long for him to distinguish himself, work his way up the ranks. He was leading his fellow soldiers into combat after only a few weeks, and his men would follow him anywhere. He had a natural charisma, an aptitude for tactics, and an especially fine ability to kill Saddam's foot soldiers. Subject to the usual armed forces proclivity for obvious nicknames, he quickly became known as "Able" Cain, because no matter how bad the mission, no matter how ridiculous the plan, no matter what it was you needed to get done, if you put Sergeant Timothy Cain in charge, it was going to get done. Period.
Cain learned many things in the desert, but the most important thing was that, contrary to what Father had always taught him, life was neither precious nor sacred.
Life was, in fact, cheap.
If life was such a glorious, magnificent, wonderful thing, then it wouldn't be so easy to take it away.
If life was a great gift, then he wouldn't be able to kill a fellow human being with one hand, as he did often in the Persian Gulf.
When his tour ended, he went to officer candidate school to get his commission.
After several more years as an officer, he realized another important truth: there was more to life than the military.
That truth didn't so much come from plowing through the desert and blowing up the enemy, something at which he had frankly excelled. No, this truth came from the gentlemen in suits who worked for the Umbrella Corporation and recruited him to run its Security Division. Able Cain had served his country. In a sense, he would still be doing so, for Umbrella had many government contracts and provided services for Americans everywhere.
The main difference was that now he'd be recompensed with an obscene amount of money.
Having achieved the rank of major, Cain said yes to Umbrella's proposition, though he insisted that he still be referred to by his rank. He was also able to buy Father a house in Florida. When Michael was shot in the line of duty, and afterward was going slowly insane at a desk job, Timothy made him the head of security for Umbrella's Chicago office. He tracked Anthony down in a crack house in Berkeley and got him cleaned up, paying for his detox. (That he later jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge was hardly Timothy Cain's fault.)
When Mary learned her husband was cheating on her, Cain paid for her divorce lawyer. Then, after the divorce was finalized and Mary had taken the bastard for all he was worth and then some, Cain tracked the ex-husband down -- living in a shitty little studio apartment in South Bend, Indiana -- and shot him in the head.
Life was, after all, easy to take. But it was so much more satisfying to destroy someone first.
Now Cain stood outside the mansion. Located in the neighborhood of Foxwood Heights, two miles outside the Raccoon City limits, the mansion looked like something out of one of those snooty British movies that Cain hated rather than an actual structure outside a small American city.
It was also owned by the Umbrella Corporation, used as the primary entry point to the Hive.
Five hundred men and women employed by Umbrella lived and worked in the Hive, a massive underground complex where the corporation's most sensitive work was done.
The existence of the Hive was not kept a secret -- it was impossible to sequester five hundred employees, many of whom were in the upper echelons of their respective fields, without someone noticing they were missing -- though it was not widely advertised either. Umbrella kept its public headquarters in downtown Raccoon where everyone could see it: the public face of the company that provided the best computer technology and health-care products and services in the country.
Unfortunately, something had gone horribly wrong in the Hive. The facility's sophisticated artificial intelligence -- named the Red Queen -- had gone quiet, security measures were activated, and the Hive was now sealed. Cain had sent a team led by his best security operative, a Special Forces veteran who went solely by the code name One, to find out what the hell had happened.
In that, they seemed to have failed, since their contingency plan -- sealing the Hive -- had been enacted. That only would have been the case if the team was incapacitated or killed.
Cain had assembled a team of doctors and security personnel outside the mansion as backup for One. Based on the protocol that the Red Queen appeared to have used, the crisis was medical in nature and the AI had felt the need to activate a quarantine. So the entire team was dressed in Hazmat suits, with several gurneys and diagnostic equipment on standby, and a sterile umbilical linking the entrance of the mansion with the helicopter that would take them back to Umbrella's Raccoon City corporate headquarters.
Observing the feed from the security cameras located throughout the mansion on his PDA, Cain and his team waited to see if anyone would emerge from the Hive.
Only two people did. The first was the head of the Hive's security, Alice Abernathy, one of Cain's top people. The other was a man Cain didn't recognize. Of One and his six-person team, there was no sign.
That was bad news. Not only was One Cain's best operative, but the team he'd brought were Umbrella's elite. Bart Kaplan, Rain Melendez, J.D. Hawkins, Vance Drew, and Alfonso Warner were the best of the best, and Olga Danilova was a talented field medic. If they were dead...
Still, Cain felt no trepidation, because Cain hadn't felt trepidation since he enlisted in the army. As a teenager, sure, he'd felt trepidation all the time -- his skin was breaking out, he'd struggled with the language, he had difficulty with girls -- but once he reached the desert, he never feared anything again.
Because he knew the secret.
Life was cheap.
As Cain watched on his PDA's screen, Abernathy and the man made it to the vestibule just inside the mansion's front door.
The man had three wounds in his shoulder that looked like they were made by large claws.
Cain instantly knew what had happened. Someone -- probably the fucking computer -- had let the damn licker out.
This was turning into a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
Abernathy stumbled to the floor. She was carrying a metal case, which she dropped. The wounded man knelt next to her. Abernathy was crying.
Crying? What the hell had happened down there to make a professional like Abernathy cry?
The camera had an audio feed, and Cain turned it up. Abernathy's voice sounded tinny on the PDA's small speaker. "I failed. All of them. I failed them."
Cain shook his head. It looked like everyone was dead.
One of the security people asked, "Should we move in, sir?"
Holding up a hand, Cain said, "Not just yet."
"Listen," the wounded man said, "there was nothing you could have done. The corporation is to blame here, not you." He indicated the case that Abernathy had dropped. "And we finally have the proof. That means Umbrella can't get awa -- "
He cut himself off, wincing in pain.
Cain smiled. From the sounds of it, this guy was some kind of crusader. How the hell he'd managed to infiltrate the Hive was something Cain would worry about later. From the looks of things, this asshole was about to find out just what those wounds really meant.
The jackass kept talking. " -- get away with this. We can -- "
Again, he cut himself off.
"What is it?" Abernathy asked.
The man screamed, and fell onto his back.
"You're infected. You'll be okay -- I'm not losing you."
Cain had seen enough. "Let's move in."
Two members of the security detail opened the door and proceeded inside.
Abernathy shielded her eyes from the blinding light that suddenly poured into the vestibule. "What's happening? What're you doing?"
One guard reached for her, while the other, along with one of the medics, knelt beside the crusading moron, who was now convulsing on the floor.
"Stop!" she yelled.
Cain sighed as she fought off the guard with a few well-placed punches. Something obviously had happened to her down there that had a profound effect on her personality -- but it didn't have the least effect on her fighting ability. She was still the best.
Even as the wounded man was loaded onto one of the gurneys, three more of the guards tried to grab Abernathy. It took her maybe five seconds to subdue them.
Damn, she was good.
So that was the guy's name. Cain looked to see that this Matt person was growing tentacles out of the three wounds in his shoulder.
Definitely the licker. And this might turn out to be just what they were looking for.
"He's mutating. I want him in the Nemesis Program," Cain said.
Maybe they could salvage something out of this fuckup.
It took about twice as long as it should have, but the guards, with some help from a well-placed syringe full of sedatives, finally managed to put Abernathy down. She kept screaming Matt's name.
Again, Cain wondered what the fuck had gone on down there.
He checked the case Abernathy had been carrying. It had room for all fourteen vials of the T-virus and the antivirus, but several of the vials were missing. That didn't bode well at all.
"I want her quarantined. Close observation, and a full series of blood tests. Let's see if she's infected. Take her to the Raccoon City facility, then assemble a team. We're reopening the Hive. I want to know what went on down there."
One of the medics, a pissant little twerp whose name Cain didn't give enough of a shit about to learn, said, "Sir, we don't know what kind of -- "
Cain didn't have time for this. He needed information, and the only way to get that was to go into the Hive. "Just do it."
Abernathy and this Matt person were loaded onto the helicopter. The head of this security detail, a former Marine named Ward, gathered up his people.
"Ready when you are, sir," Ward said, sounding singularly unenthusiastic.
"Something bothering you, soldier?"
"I'm not even supposed to be here today." Ward's face was hidden behind the mirrored faceplate of the Hazmat suit, but Cain could hear the smirk in his voice.
"Tough shit. One's down there somewhere; it's up to you to find out what happened to him."
"Due respect, sir -- if they took One out, we ain't got a snowball's chance in hell. Moving in, sir," he added quickly.
Only those last three words saved the ex-jarhead from a tongue-lashing. Ward could be a real whiner, but he did his job. Today of all days, Cain didn't want to put up with his usual shit.
Armed with MP5Ks and all looking alike in their white Hazmat suits, the seven-person team moved through the high-ceilinged rooms of the mansion in a moderately tight formation. One of them -- probably Schlesinger; that little punk was always slow -- kept lagging half a step behind the other six. Cain brought up the rear.
Ward signaled another of his people -- Osborne, the tech-head in Ward's team, recognizable by the sterile bag of tricks tethered to the belt of her Hazmat suit -- once they reached the giant floor-to-ceiling mirror in the sitting room. She opened a panel with two knob switches, revealing a socket. Reaching into her pouch, she pulled out a plug and inserted it.
The mirror slid open to reveal a concrete staircase. Osborne then pulled out a minicomputer and started tapping its keyboard with gloved hands. "Sir, I still can't access the Red Queen. I should be hardwired into it now."
Osborne tapped more keys. "Nothing, sir." She looked up, her mirrored visor staring at Ward's equally blank visage. "The only way this could be happening is if the computer was totally fried."
"One's team was supposed to shut down the computer and remove the memory."
"They did more than that -- if it was just that, I'd be able to restart her in at least a limited mode. But there's nothing there to fire up. The Red Queen's dead."
Cain ground his teeth. Definitely an epic clusterfuck.
He gave Ward a nod, and Ward then signaled his team to move down the stairs to the bottom, where the way was blocked by a giant blast door.
This, Cain knew, was the contingency plan in action.
It was about to be put into inaction.
Ward nodded, then gave another nod to Osborne, who entered more commands into her minicomputer.
A second later, the blast door opened.
Ward and Schlesinger took point and moved in, MP5Ks at the ready. The rest of the team followed, with Osborne and Cain himself bringing up the rear.
Two seconds later, Cain heard the scream.
Only after the scream did he hear the footsteps.
He hadn't realized they were footsteps at first; they were so rhythmic that he assumed them to be the background noise of the Hive's operations. But no, these were feet moving slowly and meticulously.
Osborne pulled a flashlight out of her pouch and shined it ahead just as the sounds of gunfire erupted ahead of Cain.
Ward was shooting into a crowd of people. Next to him, Schlesinger lay on the floor, his Hazmat hood removed, a huge hunk of flesh ripped out of his throat.
As usual, Schlesinger was too fucking slow.
Ward kept firing, but even as the bodies fell, more kept coming. There seemed to be an endless supply of them.
"What the fuck are those things?" Osborne asked.
Cain said nothing, but simply looked at them. All of them were wearing either dark suits or lab coats over all-white outfits. Said clothes were filthy and muck-encrusted, but still recognizable as clothes conforming to Umbrella's strict employee dress code.
That wasn't why Osborne had asked her question, though. No, it was the faces.
At best, they were blank and expressionless.
At worst, they were missing parts.
One person's neck was at an impossible angle.
Another's throat was almost completely missing, only an exposed spinal column keeping head attached to body.
Another was missing both eyes.
Another, its cheek.
Many had wounds on their bodies -- teeth marks on some, bullet holes on others.
The four hundred ninety-two employees who lived and worked in the Hive were all dead.
And, based on the fact that this was not stopping them from wandering around the Hive, they had been killed by the T-virus.
Which was doing exactly what several of Umbrella's top scientists had predicted it might do if it went airborne. Especially after those experiments in the forests by the Arklay Mountains. Umbrella had managed to hush up that particular nightmare, and then moved the project down to the Hive, which could be contained in case of a disaster.
At least in theory.
Even as Ward and Clark went down, overwhelmed by the tide of dead Umbrella employees, Cain was wondering how this might have happened. Most likely, some overeager asshole had decided to steal the T-virus and the antivirus. Abernathy and her friend Matt, maybe? Impossible to be sure.
The gunfire continued, but the ones that had been shot at the start of the fighting were now getting up. One of them leapt onto Shannon and bit right into his left arm through the Hazmat suit. Heddle, panicking, shot both Shannon and his attacker, and the pair went down. The attacker got right back up and leapt for Heddle, as did a brown-haired woman in a lab coat.
Osborne had pulled out her Beretta and ran into the crowd, firing away.
Waste of time.
For his part, Cain turned and walked back up the stairs. Ward's team would keep the creatures occupied long enough for Cain to evac.
Abernathy hadn't struck him as the opportunistic type, but maybe someone had made her an offer she couldn't refuse. God knew there were enough people out there who wanted to get their hands on the T-virus.
Cain heard the screams of Ward's team as they died one by one. Perrella, Kassin, and finally Osborne all went down.
They had served their purpose. Cain now knew what had happened in the Hive. That was all that mattered.
Life, after all, was cheap.
Copyright © 2004 by Davis Films/Impact (Canada) Inc. / Constantin Film (UK) Limited