THEY KNEW IT WASN'T OVER. . . . In the aftermath of their ordeal through the Umbrella Corporation's genetic research facility, the surviving members of the Special Tactics and Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) attempt to warn the world about the conspiracy to create terrifying biological weapons. But the conspiracy is far from dead, as the S.T.A.R.S. learn when they are declared outlaws by the very people who trained them. Forced to go underground, the S.T.A.R.S. resolve to battle the conspiracy on their own, determined to seek out and stop Umbrella's experiments wherever they may be. Combat medic and biochemist Rebecca Chambers, the sole survivor of Bravo Team, joins a new S.T.A.R.S. strike force when rumor comes of another Umbrella experiment: hidden beneath the rocky cliffs of Caliban Cove, Maine, someone is building an army of the undead. Within a sinister lighthouse, through a complex maze of sea caves, inside the shell of a sunken shipwreck, the S.T.A.R.S. must battle more unspeakable horrors and stop a madman from unleashing the biohazard upon the world. But the S.T.A.R.S. may never get the chance, as the aggressive DNA-altering virus Umbrella has engineered to create its living weapons begins to infect them. . .
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S. D. Perry is a novelist living in Portland, Oregon. She is currently lives with her husband, Myk, her two children Cyrus and Myk Jr, and their two dogs. She mostly writes tie-in novels based on works in the fantasy/science-fiction/horror genre, including Resident Evil, Star Trek, Aliens and Predator. She has also written a handful of short stories and movie novelizations. Her favorite Star Trek series is the original series, with her favorite characters being "The Big Three" - Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Rebecca Chambers rode her mountain bike through the dark, winding streets of the Cider district, the late summer moon swelling in the warm, clear night sky overhead. Although it was relatively early, the suburban streets were deserted, the citywide curfew still in effect; no one under eighteen was supposed to be out after dusk until the murderers were caught and put safely behind bars. It had been a tense and quiet summer in Raccoon City, at least on the surface....
She glided past silent houses, the faint glow of television sets spilling out across well-kept lawns, the distant drone of crickets and an occasional barking dog the only sounds in the air that whipped past her. The uneasy citizens of Raccoon dwelled behind those locked doors, waiting for the announcement that the killers had been apprehended and that their city was safe.
If they only knew....
For just a moment, Rebecca envied them their ignorance. She'd come to the rather disheartening conclusion in the last couple of weeks that knowing the truth wasn't all it was cracked up to be -- particularly when no one believed it.
It had been a long, merciless thirteen days since the nightmare at the Spencer estate. The surviving S.T.A.R.S. had escaped treachery and death just to run up against a massive brick wall of scornful disbelief when they'd tried to tell their tale. Jill, Chris, Barry, and herself had been labeled drug addicts and worse in the local papers, undoubtedly at Umbrella's urging -- and after their suspension, even the RPD had refused to believe them. Now, with Umbrella taking over the investigation of the fire, undoubtedly getting rid of the last of the evidence...it was as if everywhere the S.T.A.R.S. turned, Umbrella had been there first, greasing palms and covering tracks, making it impossible to get anyone to listen to their story.
Not that it would have been that simple anyway. One of the biggest, most respectable med research and pharmaceutical companies in the world -- not to mention the primary source of income in Raccoon -- conducting bio-weapons research in a secret lab, creating experimental monsters -- if I didn't know better, I'd probably think I was crazy, too.
At least the absolute worst was over. With the lab destroyed, the attacks on Raccoon had stopped -- and though the people responsible hadn't been held accountable yet, she figured it was only a matter of time. Umbrella was experimenting with dangerous stuff, and wouldn't be able to hide it from a S.T.A.R.S. investigation. She and the others just had to watch their backs until the home office sent backup.
Speaking of -- ouch...
The pancake holster was poking into her ribcage. Rebecca adjusted it through the thin cotton of her shirt, hoping that after tonight she wouldn't have to carry the weapon anymore -- a snubnosed .38 revolver from Barry's collection. She couldn't speak for the others, but she hadn't had a decent night's sleep since they'd escaped the Spencer estate, and walking around armed all of the time wasn't her idea of safe.
Sighing inwardly, she took a left on Foster and pedaled through the shadows toward Barry's house, reminding herself that he'd probably called the meeting because he'd heard from the home office with orders. He would only say that there had been a "development" and to show up ASAP -- and though she was trying not to let her imagination run away with her, she couldn't help the steady pulse of excitement that had knotted her stomach since he'd called.
Maybe they'll fly us to New York to brief the investigation team, or even to Europe for when they storm Umbrella's headquarters....
Wherever they were sent, it had to be better than staying in Raccoon. The strain of looking over their shoulders had been getting to all of them. Chris seemed to think that Umbrella was waiting until the public eye was off the S.T.A.R.S. before making their move, though it was only a theory -- and not exactly the most reassuring thought to fall asleep by. Chickenheart Vickers had skipped out of town after only two days, unable to take the pressure -- and although Jill, Chris, and Barry had condemned Brad's cowardice, Rebecca was starting to wonder if maybe the Alpha pilot didn't have the right idea. It wasn't that she wanted Umbrella to walk, there was no question that their experiments were morally reprehensible and certainly illegal -- but until the S.T.A.R.S. sent help, staying in Raccoon City was dangerous.
Not after tonight; just a little bit longer, and this will all be over. No more guns, no more locked doors -- no more worrying about what Umbrella will do to us for knowing the truth.
When they'd first made the report, their superiors in New York had told them to stay put. Assistant Director Kurtz himself had promised to do some investigating and get back to them -- but it had been eleven days, and still no word. She had no intention of running away as Brad had done, but she'd come to hate the feeling of that holster, the weight of the deadly steel against her side every waking moment of every day. She was supposed to be a chemist, for chrissake....
And once the reinforcements come, maybe they'll move me to one of the labs, let me study the virus. Technically I'm still a Bravo; there's no way they'd want me on the front lines....
There was no question that it would be the best use of her talents. The others were experienced soldiers, Rebecca had only been with the S.T.A.R.S. for weeks. Her first mission had been the one to Raccoon Forest that had wiped out over half the team and clued the rest of them in to Umbrella's secret. Since then, she'd spent a lot of time brushing up on the molecular architecture of viruses, trying to determine the T-Virus replication strategy. The S.T.A.R.S. didn't need field medics right now, they needed scientists...and if she'd learned anything from the Spencer estate disaster, it was that she belonged in a lab. She'd held her own that night, but she also knew that working with the T-Virus was the greatest contribution she could make toward stopping Umbrella.
And you may as well face it, her mind whispered, you're fascinated by it. The chance to study an unclassified emerging mutagen, to find out what makes it tick -- that's what makes you tick.
Yeah, well, there was no shame in enjoying her work. She'd joined the S.T.A.R.S. in hopes of just such an opportunity -- and with any luck, after tonight's meeting she would be packing a bag and getting the hell out of Raccoon City, heading into a new phase of her life as a S.T.A.R.S. biochemist.
She pulled to a stop at the end of the block in front of a huge, two-story remodeled Victorian painted a pale yellow, checking all around for anything suspicious before getting off her bike. The Burtons lived next to a sprawling suburban park, heavy with trees. Even a few weeks ago, she might have wandered through the silent park, enjoying the balmy summer night, looking at the stars; now it was just one more dark place for someone to hide. Shivering slightly in spite of the warm, humid air, she hurried up the front walk.
Dragging her bike onto the porch, she wiped sweat from the back of her neck and checked her watch. She'd made excellent time, only twenty minutes since Barry's call. Rebecca leaned the bicycle against the railing, praying that he had good news.
Before she could knock, Barry opened the door, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, his heavily muscled body filling the door's frame. Barry lifted weights. With a vengeance.
He smiled and stood back to let her inside, taking a quick look out at the quiet street before following her into the front hall. His Colt Python was tucked into a hip holster, making him look like an overgrown cowboy.
"You see anybody?" he asked lightly.
She shook her head. "No. I took back streets, too."
Barry nodded, and though he was still smiling a little, she could see the haunted look in his eyes, the look he'd had ever since their narrow escape. She wished she could tell him that nobody blamed him, but knew it wouldn't make a difference; Barry still held himself responsible for a lot of what had happened at the estate that night. He looked as though he was losing weight, too, though she figured that had more to do with him missing his wife and kids; he'd sent them out of town immediately following the incident, terrified for their safety.
Just one more way that Umbrella has damaged our lives....
He led her through the spacious hallway past the stairs, the walls decorated with framed drawings in crayon that his daughters had made. The Burton house was rambling and spacious, filled with the scuffed and well-worn furnishings that epitomized family.
"Chris and Jill should be here any time. You want some coffee?"
He seemed tense, scruffing nervously at his short red beard.
"No thanks. Maybe some water...."
"Yeah, sure. Go ahead and introduce yourself, I'll be back in a minute." He hurried off to the kitchen before she could ask him if anything was wrong.
Introduce myself? What's going on?
She walked through the hall's arched opening into the cluttered, comfortable living room and stopped, a little startled to see a strange man sitting in one of the recliners. He stood up as she entered the room, smiling -- but she could see by the way his dark gaze narrowed slightly that he was sizing her up.
Even a few weeks ago, the careful scrutiny would have made her horribly self-conscious. She was the youngest S.T.A.R.S. member ever to be accepted for active duty, and knew that she looked it -- but if anything positive had come from the incident at the Umbrella lab, it was that she no longer cared much about things like social embarrassment. Facing down a house full of monsters tended to put things in perspective that way. Besides which, being stared at had gotten pretty routine since then.
She gazed back at him impassively, studying him in return. Jeans, a nice shirt, running shoes. He also wore a hip holster with a nine-millimeter Beretta, the S.T.A.R.S. standard-issue sidearm. He was tall, maybe a full foot over her five-foot three-inch frame, but slender, with a physique like a swimmer's. He was almost movie-star handsome, a high, weathered brow and finely chiseled features, short, dark hair and a piercing gaze that sparkled with intelligence.
"You must be Rebecca Chambers," he said. He had a British accent, his words clipped and somehow polished. "You're the biochemist, is that right?"
Rebecca nodded. "Working on it. And you are...?
He smiled wider, shaking his head. "Forgive my manners, please. I hadn't expected...that is, I..."
He stepped around Barry's low coffee table and extended his hand, flushing slightly. "I'm David Trapp, with the S.T.A.R.S. Exeter branch in Maine," he said.
Rebecca felt cool relief wash over her, the S.T.A.R.S. had sent help instead of calling, fine by her. She shook his hand, stifling a grin, knowing that her appearance had thrown him. Nobody expected an eighteen-year-old scientist, and while she'd gotten used to the surprised looks, she still took a kind of mischievous pleasure at catching people off guard.
"So, are you like the scout or something?" she asked.
Mr. Trapp frowned. "Sorry?"
"For the investigation -- are there other teams already here, or did you come to check things out first, the dirt on Umbrella..."
She trailed off as he shook his head slowly, almost sadly, his dark eyes glittering with an emotion she couldn't read.
It came out in his voice, heavy with frustrated anger -- and as the words sank in, Rebecca felt her knees go watery with a sudden anxious dread.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Ms. Chambers. I have reason to believe that Umbrella has gotten to key members of the S.T.A.R.S., either by bribery or blackmail. There is no investigation -- and no one else is coming."
A look of confused terror passed through the girl's brown eyes and just as quickly was gone. She took a deep breath and blew it out.
"Are you sure? I mean, did Umbrella try to get to you, or...are you positive?
David shook his head. I'm not absolutely certain, no -- but I wouldn't be here if I wasn't...concerned about it."
It was a bit of an understatement, but David still wasn't past the shock of seeing how young she was, and felt an almost instinctive desire not to alarm her any further. Barry had mentioned that she was something of a child genius, but he hadn't really expected a child. The biochemist wore high tops and cut-off denim shorts rolled at the knee, topped by a shapeless black T-shirt.
Get past it; this child may be the only scientist we have left.
The thought rekindled the anger that had been burning in David's gut for the past few days. The story that had been unfolding since Barry's call wasn't a pretty one, filled with treachery and lies -- and the fact that the S.T.A.R.S., his S.T.A.R.S., were involved...
Barry walked into the room with a glass of water and Rebecca took it from him gratefully, swallowing half of it in one gulp.
Barry shot him a glance and then turned his attention to Rebecca. "He told you, huh?"
The girl nodded. "Do Jill and Chris know?"
"Not yet. That's why I called," Barry said. "Look, no point in going through this twice. We should wait for them to show up before we get into specifics."
"Agreed," David said. He generally found that first impressions were the most telling, and if they were going to be working together, he wanted to get a feel for the girl's character.
The three of them sat, and Barry started to tell Rebecca how he and David had met back in S.T.A.R.S. training when they were both much younger men. Barry told a good story, even if it was only to kill time. David listened with half an ear as Barry related an anecdote about their graduation night, involving a rather humorless drill sergeant and several rubber snakes. The girl was relaxing, even enjoying the story of their childish prank --
-- seventeen years ago. She would have been celebrating her first birthday.
Still, she had put her questions on hold at Barry's request, even though David knew she had to be anxious about what he'd told her. The ability to retrain one's focus so quickly was an admirable trait, one that he'd never fully mastered.
He'd been able to think of little else since his own call to the S.T.A.R.S. AD. David's devotion to the organization had made the apparent betrayal all the more bitter, like a bad taste in his mouth that wouldn't go away. The S.T.A.R.S. had been David's life for almost twenty years, had given him all the things he'd lacked growing up -- a sense of self-worth, a sense of purpose and integrity....
And just like that, the lives of dedicated men and women, my life and life's work simply tossed aside as if it meant nothing. How much did that cost? How much did Umbrella have to pay to buy the S.T.A.R.S.'s honor?
David shook the anger, focusing his attention on Rebecca. If all he'd learned was true, time was short and their resources were now severely limited. His motivations weren't as important right now as hers.
He could tell by the way she held herself that she wasn't the shy or subm...
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