Code Veronica - By S. D. Perry


She'll die too faced with his immediate death, surrounded by the diseased and dying as pieces of flaming helicopter rained down from the skies, all Rodrigo Juan Raval could think about was the girl. That, and getting the hell out of the way.

- move!

He dove for cover behind an unmarked tombstone as the small cemetery rumbled and shook. With a shatter - ing metal sound of high impact, a massive chunk of smoking 'copter crashed into the far corner of the yard, spraying the nearest rotting prisoners and soldiers with burning fuel. Bright, oily streamers of it spattered across the ground like sticky lava

- and when Rodrigo hit the dirt, he felt a tremendous bolt of pain in his gut, two of his ribs cracking against a weed-buried slab of dark marble. The pain was sudden and terrible, paralyzing, but he somehow managed not to pass out. He couldn't afford to. A rotor blade knifed into the dirt barely two feet from him, spraying sandy earth into the evening sky. He heard a new chorus of wordless moans, the virus carriers protest - ing the rain of fire. An infected guard shambled by, his hair blazing like a torch, his eyes sightless and searching. They don't feel it, don't feel a thing, Rodrigo desper-ately reminded himself, concentrating on his breathing, afraid to move as the pain edged from shrieking to mere shouting. Not human anymore. The air was thick with dizzying fumes and the smells of rapid decay and burning meat. He heard a few gun - shots somewhere else in the prison compound, but only a few; the battle was over, and they had all lost. Rodrigo closed his eyes for as long as he dared, fairly certain that he would never see another sunrise. Talk about having a crappy day. It had all started only ten days before, in Paris. The Redfield girl had infiltrated HQ Admin, and had put up one hell of a vicious fight before Rodrigo himself had gotten the draw on her. The truth was, he'd been lucky - she'd pulled her piece and come up empty. Yeah, real lucky, he thought bitterly. If he'd known what the immediate future was going to hold, he might have reloaded for her. The reward for catching her alive, a chance to take his elite security unit through their paces with real, living viral carriers out at the Rockfort facility, the compound on a remote island in the Southern Atlantic. The girl would end up a new test subject for the scientists, or maybe bait for her troublesome brother and his hayseed

S.T.A.R.S. rebellion Rodrigo kept hearing rumors about. Seventeen people had been seriously injured by Redfield's dance through HQ Admin, five more dead. Most of them were sleazy suits, Rodrigo hadn't given a half shit about any of them, but catching the girl meant he could look forward to a serious pay hike. Umbrella could turn her into a giant neon cockroach for all he cared, they'd certainly done worse. Lucky again, it seemed. He had ten days to ready his troops, ten days while the HQ interrogators unsuccessfully questioned the girl. The journey from Paris to Capetown to Rockfort had been cake - the pilots were all top-notch and the girl had wisely kept her trap shut. All of his men had been psyched for the opportunity, the mood high as they touched down and started to prep for the first drills. And then, less than eight hours after reaching the is-land - only the second time he'd ever been there - the compound had been brutally attacked by persons un - known, a precision air strike from out of the blue. Cor - porate financing, definitely, razor technology and seem - ingly unlimited supplies of ammo - the 'copters and planes had rolled overhead like a thundering black nightmare, the attack well-planned and merciless. As far as he could tell, everything was hit - the prison, the labs, the training facility... He thought the Ashford house might have been spared, but he wouldn't bet on it. The strike was devastating enough, but it was almost immediately trumped by what came next - the de - stroyed hot zone lab leaked out a half dozen variations on the T-virus, and a number of experimental BOWs, bio-organics, had escaped. The T series turned humans into brain-fried cannibals, an unfortunate side effect, but it hadn't been created for people.