JILL SLID DOWN THE LADDER AND STARTED running, her mind reeling with the news about Rac-coon. She couldn't imagine what had been going on outside of the city in past days that the conclusion had been reached to blast a quarantine site out of existence.

Of course it has to be blown up, they would have wanted that once they'd collected their data, to make sure all the evidence is destroyed...


Jill leaped over a sprawled body, then another, and was at the doors with the exit sign overhead, just as Carlos had said. She barreled through and was greeted by wonderfully fresh, cool air, heavy with dew. Dawn, he said they were launching at dawn. Half an hour was a generous estimate. Jill ran faster, through a winding corridor of stacked cars and junk metal, and there was the warehouse, straight ahead. It was big, low, and wide, and she was already thinking in hours when she hit the heavy, steel-reinforced front doors. Eleven o'clock... She couldn't see the back door for the giant wall of unidentifiable machinery in the way, all thick pipes and metal shielding, but Carlos had said she'd have to run around some equipment. She veered right...... and stopped in her tracks, staring at the mon-strous apparatus that Carlos had mistaken for a genera-tor. It was some kind of a laser cannon, huge, cylindrical, she'd seen them before but not even half the size  - it was at least ten feet high and twenty long, and as big around as a table for six. Dozens of cables led from various outlets to the wall of machinery she stood next to, and it was aimed approximately at the front door, making her wonder what the hell they'd tested it on... The back door slammed open. Jill reflexively pointed the Beretta and saw Carlos standing there, the whining sound of a revving helicopter outside.

"Jill, come on!"

He was obviously glad to see her, but she could read the urgency in his face, a reminder of what was coming as the door closed behind him. She jogged toward him in the sudden silence, shak-ing her head. "Sorry, I was surprised is all, that's a laser cannon, biggest I ever..."

Ka-rash! Near the ceiling by the front door, a giant mass ex-ploded out of the wall, disappearing from their sight as it fell to the floor behind the wall of machinery. Jill had just an impression of a swollen, bulbous body sur-rounded by claws and tentacles, and she knew that she'd been right about the Nemesis. It was evolving. A beat later there was another crash. Sparks crackled and flew from a tall panel next to the entrance, and a gurgling, warped howl erupted into the room, the cry of the Nemesis, but horribly mutated, deeper, rougher... "Come on!" Carlos shouted, and Jill ran to him as he jerked at the handle on the back door...... and it didn't open, and Jill noticed the small blink-ing lights on the panel next to it and understood that the Nemesis had shorted out the locking mechanisms. They were locked in the warehouse with the thing that had been the S.T.A.R.S. killer, and it was scream-ing for blood.

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