|Kitten||There are less bullets at the Church than there are people and that is not saying a whole lot about the current situation as several hundred survivors are crammed into the close confines with a definite lack of supplies to continue sustaining them.
Over the course of the past few scavenging runs, several of the people staying here have had issues with leading trouble back home and over the course of the past day the beleaguered National Guard defenders have been pushed to their limits in dealing with it.
On both sides of the street leading towards the church, massive hordes of Undead had been spotted shambling towards the location.
The inevitable moment of truth had come where the dead far outnumbered the living, and there was no possible way to do anything about it. No word had arrived yet to those at the Church about extraction but they had seen the choppers in the city.
Would help arrive before it was too late?
In preparation of what was sure to be the final assault, defenses were being prepared which would help slow the dead and buy time; but there was far more of the dead then you could ever hope to kill approaching.
Escape was your only option, and the only way out... was up.
|Claire Redfield||Claire is making rounds amidst the gathered survivors to hand out the severely rationed rations to those who need it the most. The constant sound of gunfire from beyond the baracades was certainly putting some of the children, because there are children here, in a fright so she's focusing her attention there. Kneeling down with her backpack slung on her shoulders and the pair of pistols within easy access.
Always she's smiling. She's the eye of a storm, even when that storm is directly ontop of them; "Hey, what game are you guys playing?" She asks the teens who were most certainly not playing a game. "Well let's play one, alright? We're all doctors... No, it doesn't matter that you're only 12, you have an imagination dont you?" Ruffling a little girls hair with splayed fingers. "So, what I want you all to do: show these frightened adults how to handle real stress... Go grab some of those water bottles over there and start passing them out, okay?"
Anything to keep their minds off the fact that they're all probably going to die.
|Ashley Graham|| It was late last evening, or perhaps the evening before that -- the days do start to run together don't they -- that Leon and Ashley returned from their recon/make a break for it run in the vehicle Major Stadler provided. Apparently it didn't go quite so well as all that, for while they do bring back a small box with some items that can be used, such as a blanket and some water and some powerbars, there wasn't much to be added.
Ashley's carrying that box with a few other small things salvaged from the collapse in the rectory more than a week ago. By now, her bright platinum hair has dulled with dirt and grime, and her button-down carries a few more splatters than it did when she first arrived. But she's here, and fully together, and still has Leon's glock tucked into the back of her yoga pants, beneath the overhang of what is also Leon's button down.
"This is all I was able to pull out," Ashley reports to Claire with a tired frown, gesturing with the box so Claire can take a look in. "It's not much but it's certainly better than nothing," she notes, lifting her eyes up to Claire then. Those are dull, too.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||So. This was it. Too many zombies were converging on them, this time, and Stadler was... not in a good way. The one good thing was the fever hadn't hit him. He should have been dead by now if it did, but it... didn't. And his scientific mind, when he had time to think of something outside of this horrible state, ran over the reasons for it. Lickers weren't infectious? He got lucky to avoid infection? There was a critical threshold to which the body could not fight the infection? /Immunity/?
All interesting, thought provoking questions. And all of them... rather pointless.
He grabbed everyone who could use a gun decently (not complete newbies; they didn't have the ammo for that). Looked over the land around them, set up defenses. Walking over them all, trying to look like he wasn't in an incredible amount of pain.
"All right. Chokepoints! They'll be funneling through to these locations, but numbers don't mean dick in close quarters. Wait until they're in the funnel, and direct fire toward head level!" He read that once. A long time ago, he thinks, in a history class. Half remembered, it rang true; funneling them in would allow them to deal with the zombies in a better way. But.. there were alot of them. And he simply didn't have enough people, enough guns, enough ammuntion to deal with them all.
But it gave them something to do other than suicide. A few of them... probably were thinking the government would come, but Rick had his doubts. He could only hope...
Kathy, Arthur. Maybe they were still alive. And perhaps the last thing he could leave his son was another story. Dad, the war hero. Something to live up to. Maybe that was enough. He told himself that desperately.
|Katherine Quinn||Ever since getting abandoned by Umbrella, Katherine Quinn has been drifting through the city, using her skills to help out people, mostly herself. She hopes Teach and her friends made it out, they were a nice enough group, not much for combat though.
The church is very much surrounded. It makes sense a lot of people would seek shelter here, but that's not ncessarily a good thing. Too many survivors in one location attracts the undead.
She had been using the hookshot to keep to the rooftops. Easier that way, less zombies to fight her way through. She was close enough now to the church to hit it with the hookshot. She took aim and fired, sending the grapling line reeling out through the air, aiming to hook onto the steeple. Get up high, she could enter from above. Hopefully they wouldn't shoot her, she was coming to help.
|Katie Colt||Katie was out there with Rick, holding the M14 Battle Rifle she had borrowed by way of Claire, no doubt the man recognized the gun. Even though she had expended the ammunition during the fight at the TV Station while her and Leon were swarmed by zombies trying to turn the generator on, she had managed to steal, or con some more ammo out of National Guard soldiers to get at least 1 more magazine in it.
Looking very worse for wear, the young woman kneeled down beside one of the Humvees being used as a barricade and said to Rick, "Hey General, you got a light?" She began to remove a bunch of Molotov cocktails from a garbage bag.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon is there behind Ashley, his RPD-branded bulletproof vest strapped down over the casual clothes he's got underneath, a longsleeve sweater that might, just might, protect him from zombie nails and that sort of thing. It's better than a t-shirt, at least. The young officer looks worn and bedraggled, even his stylish hair dirty and greasy from the days without being able to perform meaningful hygiene, his face unshaven and gray around the eyes. The escape effort had not panned out.
"I'm going to help them fight," he mutters, reaching out to tap Ashley on the shoulder. "It's our best chance at, uh. Well, it's our best chance." The odds are not on their side, and he's past lying to her about it anymore. He trots over toward the barricade, rubbing tired eyes with the back of his hand, and preparing to blast some zombie heads as they come through the chokepoints, 300 Spartan style, before the whole place is inevitably overwhelmed.
|Claire Redfield||Claire glances up at Ashley and Leon, but focuses on the former when she brings over a box of collected items which are accepted with a warming smile. How Claire has managed to keep the light in her eyes through all of this is anyone's guess, but there it has remained. When the resources were destroyed; Claire smiled it off. When the undead came in masses to the church; Claire stayed calm and set off to work moving supplies where people could easily get to them.
"Thanks Ashley." She says genuinely and kneels down to hand the box over to the group of children who are now acting as her carriers. "How are you both doing on ammo?" Looking up and over her shoulder at Ash and Leon, not asking how their attempts to evacuate went since they're both back now and that's universally a bad sign when someone's intention is to leave.
|Katherine Quinn||The hatch from the steeple opens up, and Kat drops inside. She probably doesn't look super friendly, what with her combat armor covered in defensive metal. She looks like she should be screaming WITNESS ME before diving from a moving car.
She doesn't have her weapons drawn, however. And she calls out before she decends any further, "Anybody alive down there?!" She calls out. She knows there's people alive, she can hear them, but she wants them to know she's here, "If you're not dead say something other than brains!"
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler looks over the men for a moment more, checking his own clip. He wanted to expend the one that had a few bullets down first... not that it would matter much. He had another two clips for his rifle after this short one, and two for the pistol... including what was loaded in it. It might last... a few minutes. If he aimed right. At the very least, there was no shortage of targets, and missing one would almost probably mean hitting another.
Katie gets a look over to the side, as he handles his father's M14. Part of him feels conflicted about it... it has history. He could have given it to his son. But it was proabably for the best. Still. "I'm going to want that back." He says, reaching into his pocket and tossing her a book of matches. "You can keep that, though. I don't smoke anymore." He says, before looking at the barricade.
A slightl look over to the rest of those at the church, then the commando dropping in from the top. If she was here to kill someone... well, she was duplicating effort. Maybe she was here to help. At least she wasn't shooting at anyone.
|Katherine Quinn||"Somebody who's here to try to help." Kat replies, as she lowers herself down with the hook shot, and then stashes it on her belt, "Look you guys are going to need an extra gun, and if I'd wanted to I could have shot you all from up there." She says, simply.
"I want to get out of this hellhole more than anybody right now, but I can't do it on my own." She looks around at the gathered group, "Doctor Stadler, good to see you're...Well, not dead." She notes that he's not exactly doing great, but he's not a zombie so that has to count for something.
|Ingrid Hunnigan||Leon's cell phone rang as he went to go outside and when he answered, it was a video call from Ingrid Hunnigan, the government agent who had been communicating with him back and forth about Ashley Graham's extraction, "Leon! Thank god you're alright, I've been trying to reach you. A helicopter is incoming for Ashley, please make sure she gets on it. There are other helicopters on the way for everyone else, but you NEED to make sure she is on the first one Leon. Do you understand?"|
|Leon Kennedy||"Shit," Leon mutters, on his way out toward the barrier when his pocket starts to ring. He's managed to keep the uPhone charged up, really by will alone, and now it was going off. He pulls it out to find Ingrid there, again, with more news of another chopper inbound, because that went so well the first time. "I understand," he affirms, nodding shortly. "And Hunnigan? Send as many choppers as you can spare. We've got a lot of people down here. /Hurry./ They're coming." They being zombies.|
|Kitten||Those outside trying to defend the church could see multiple larger zombies within the masses of undead as the sun began to set over the tallest building in Raccoon City; the Umbrella America HQ Building.
The landmines, and other booby traps that had been setup along the perimeter began to go off as the zombies crossed the threshold and it was a sight of gore and carnage as body parts and blood blasted through the air.
Joining the National Guard survivors were a handful of civilians from the church, many of them armed with makeshift weapons while their families huddled inside for protection. Councillor McLaren, the man who had organized the attempt to turn the water back on was there holding a shotgun with a belt full of ammunition strapped over his barrel-chest. Sammy, the Water Treatment Plant engineer was there as well holding a revolver in each hand as he looked towards the tide of undead grimly.
Sammy flicked away the cigarette he had been smoking, and muttered, "As good a time as any to quit." Nodding to Rick he said, "Thanks for getting us this far Major." After the Water Treatment plant incident Sammy had helped Rick back to the church, doing what he could to help out around the church, "Got another round in you man? Help's coming, we just need to hold out a little longer."
|Ingrid Hunnigan||"I'll do what I can Leon. Good luck." Ingrid ended the call as she went back to doing what she could to make the evacuation a thing because she was well aware that the President was only sending in a single chopper and a team. Lying to Leon had hurt, but she was going to do everything in her power to make sure that something could be done, even if it wouldn't be accomplished as quickly as the rescue of Ashley Graham.|
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler turns over to Katherine, as she arrives. He pauses for a moment, trying to place her. "Security, right? Back at Umbrella. Why... No. Really shouldn't be suprised." He sighs. "I really, really shouldn't trust you, given what everyone is saying." Everyone being Leon and Ashley. "But what the hell? Bullets in the back or teeth in the neck'll be the same result." He says, pointing to the barricades. "They're holding the line. You can help, but watch along the walls. Those... tongue things might be coming off from the sides, and I don't have a big enough... reserve to deal with them. So you're it." He says, before turning to the team.
IEDs being used for good. A few scant claymores some reservist who should have been arrested for it, other make shift traps. That tightly packed, it would sherd scores... and leave thousands.
Stadler looks over to Sammy, and tchs. "Cheating. Try quitting and going through the nicotine withdrawl. That's how you know." He says, extending his hand to the man. "I've got one round. Or most of one. We'll hold." He says, wincing at his chest wound.
Oh, they'd hold. Until they ran out of ammo. Then they'd die. But... well. One has to go for the high score.
"ALL RIGHT!" He tries to belt, attempting to ignore the pain and do his very best impression of a Sergeant. "Here they come! You will hold fire until they pass the stakes and into the lane! READY UP!" He says, moving to one of the supports, resting his carbine on it, and holding, finger resting on the trigger, pointing down range.
|Claire Redfield||Claire hears the IEDs going off and knows how close that means the incoming horde of dead actually are, so she shifts her attention to the children. "Okay guys, come'ere!" Waving them all over. "I want you to all go to the back of the church and only come out if I say so... Someone will be coming to get us soon, but we all need to be in an orderly line when that happens if we want us all to get out quickly!"
She watches them scurry off and grabs her glock to slowly unscrew the silencer and slip it into her pack. Once she's checked the magazine she switches to her Revolver, clicks out the chamber to see the load, and then slaps it back into the ready. She moves towards the front of the church and peeks out through the cracks in the pane windows, then steps back at Richard's inspirational words from on high.
"You heard the Major, get ready!"
|Kitten||As the zombies began to cross the stakes that had been setup, many of them were impaled and the plan halted the initial tide until the stakes themselves were weighed down with the dead. Zombies crawled over zombies and when the line was breached the soldiers and civilians all began to open fire as a tide of dead came in from all sides to surround the living.
The 'tongue' things or Lickers that Richard had warned about could be seen darting through the shadows, leaping from building to building. They were heading for the Church....
Some RE Music to help set things up! https://youtu.be/dXFSI7JUmzQ
|Katherine Quinn||"Yeah you probably shouldn't trust me." Kat replies, "But I'll be damned if I'm going to just let those bastards ditch me here and not put up a fight."
She follows Stadler's orders, moving to one of the barricades, and getting herself into position. She takes a moment to take a breath, and then drops into her mentality to prepare for combat.
She watches them move, the zombies shambling, the Lickers ducking in and out from the shadows. She wondered if any of the Hunter units were in this horde somewhere. She may need something bigger than her carbine to bring one of those down, "Starting to wish I'd picked up a shotgun." She muses to herself aloud.
|Leon Kennedy||Leon may be tired and hungry and worn out. It may have been weeks since he had a real shower. It may have been weeks since he had a real home-cooked meal that didn't come straight out of a can. It may have been the worst month of his life. But he wasn't out of this fight yet. Not by a long shot.
As he shoves the phone back in his pocket, he's pulling the custom S.T.A.R.S.-branded M92F from its holster at his hip as he approaches the barricade, grey-green eyes narrowed as they peer between the twin curtains of hair hanging down both sides of his face. His thumb depresses the magazine release, dropping it into his waiting hand, where he counts the number of bullets remaining. Fifteen. A full magazine. Grunting his approval, the palm of his hand slams it back into the well of the handgun, eyes turning outward. "Looks like bingo night is back on the church schedule," he remarks to the nearest defender, as the swarm descends.
|Katie Colt||Katie nodded to Rick, "Not my style anyways." Lighting up the first Molotov cocktail she used it to light the second before throwing the first towards the undead piling over the stakes on her flank near Rick and Claire.
She continued with the other six molotovs she had put together before shouldering the battle rifle against the hood of the Humvee and opening fire with precise shots, trying to take down undead as they started to break through. When every single round was expended, she let the rifle sling over her chest before drawing the misappropriated Samurai Edge she had never returned to Rashaam and taking aim, "Hey Claire, got any spare clips? I think we need like over 9000."
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley nods at Claire's words, and begins to take over on the hoarding-of-the-innocencts projects. "Everyone this way," she says, using an orderly an authoritative voice. Apparently growing up with a politician has given Ashley something of a good public face. When Claire turns to go, Ashley offers one more thing to the woman. "I'll stay with them," she promises, and turns to continue to move them back.
As the group moves into the back, a few start dragging big plastic and metal tables from the rectory to create a barricade between the alter and the front of the church. What's more, Ashley begins to offer new weapons: the large metal crucifixes and flagposts that often decorate the church. Those are now to be used as spears behind the barricade.
She's basically helping them to build a shield wall.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler yells out, as they hit the stakes and the lane. "FIRE AT WILL!" And then aims down his portion of the lane that they were heading to. Attempting to keep from duplication of effort on the friendly side from wasting too much ammo. His rifle was set to burst, enough for him to resight after each three round down range, but aiming was less of a factor. There were simply too many of them to really care about that. So he fired. And fired. bulling the trigger again and again until the short clip went dry, and he had to slam in a fresh one.
Stadler had learned one thing during the weeks here. Perhaps it was the corporate nature he came from, or some forgotten bit of tactics he read about back in OCS so many years ago. A badass could kill ten zombies. Twenty, thirty, in the right circumstances. But then they'd be overwhelmed. With these numbers, there was only one option: death on an assembly line. Dead shuffling forward in as narrow a place as they could make it, bullets coming to meet them, men in line pulling the trigger again and again and again.
He was certain, reletively, if he had boxes of ammunition, a brigade here, he was certain the equation would be on his side. BUt it wasn't. So they'd kill, and kill. And then they would be dry, and then they'd die.
|Claire Redfield||Claire steps out to the first line of baracades and pulls the big revolver from her waist band. It isn't that she's not aimming, but she's definitely waiting for closer targets that don't require her to spend over amounts of time focusing on a single target. "Leon, watch your right!" Her Glock slips out when her Revolver runs dry and she empties the clip at a group of zombies scrambling towards the barrier near the stairs leading up to the front of the church.
"Yeah, catch!" She pulls one of her remaining clips, which isn't a whole lot, and tosses it towards Katie. "Make'em count, that's the last full."
Crouched down, the glock is put away and her Revolver is reloaded with methodical, somehow not shaking, hands.
|Katherine Quinn||As soon as the order is given, the first round from Wyvern's carbine rings out, slamming square into a former postal worker's forehead and shattering the back of the skull. He drops like a rock, but another one instantly takes his place.
"I would give literally anything for some CAS right now." She says, probably not even loud enough to be heard over the constant reports of the multiude of firearms being unleashed. If they weren't outnumbered a hundred to one, this would be a rather impressive mad minute.
She fires a second time, the red dot sight still able to pinpoint a zombie's brain box and put an end to it, "Movement on the left, one of those fast wall crawlers!" She calls out, shifting her position and trying to sight in on a Licker. She takes a shot, winging it, but not puting it down. The round's not big enough to drop it with a single shot. She'd need a .50 to pull that off, or maybe an anti-tank cannon.
|Leon Kennedy||The gunfire is deafening, but Leon barely hears it. The howls of the undead are unsettling, but they've faded to a quiet roar. In his mind, everything has slowed down just a little, quieted just enough, and the only thing that really grips his attention is the calm, quiet voice of his father in his head.
"Always try to keep both eyes open, but if you have to, use your dominant eye," he hears, as his father's instruction reaches him from beyond the grave in this time of need. "Smooth, slow, steady trigger pull. You should be surprised when that thing goes off."
His breath is even and slow, his hands steady and firm, his vision clear and focused. This is what he was born for. The rounds don't fly in hasty desperation, they're precision death-knells doled out with the calm, deliberate accuracy of a surgeon's scalpel. Claire's warning pierces the officer's zen-like state, and he turns to the right, noticing the horde coming his way at a shamble, adjusting his feet to face them. Boom. Boom. Boom. An eye socket shatters. A jaw is crushed. A chunk of temple spins into the air. Boom. Boom. Boom. Bits of brain fly like paint spatters. Neural fluid, black with disease, sprays the pavement. Blood rockets outward in big, rusty globs. Boom. Boom. Boom.
|Kitten||The undead had begun to break through despite the best efforts of those present, at first only in ones and pairs, but they were enough to enter melee range with many on the front line and at least a handful of the remaining guardsmen and civilians were torn apart with nothing to be done for them.
It seemed like all hope was lost. There was no respite from the tide of the undead, they cared not for losses or numbers but won through sheer attrition.
The sound of aircraft could be heard from above...
...coming over the rooftops of the buildings were a trio of helicopters flying low. A single Blackhawk helicopter and two Apache Attack Choppers that fanned out and began unloading hell on either flank of the beleaguered defenders.
The assault was temporarily stemming the tide and on either side of the line the helicopters maintained a stationary position and began unloading into the undead buying the defenders some time.
The single Blackhawk landed in the middle of the street where the defenders were holding the line and Delta Force soldiers began to fan out. The leader of the team a man with a big beard patted a soldier that didn't look like the others on the shoulder and said, "Redfield, we're going to stay and hold the line until the other choppers arrive. You get her onboard, your sister to, and any wounded. Don't let me down."
|Prestige Richard Stadler||And Stadler keeps firing. Pulling the trigger again and again with the next clip. One burst sent aganist a zombie's kneecap, cracking it and sending him collapsing to the ground with a broken femur it doesn't feel, causing the ones behind him to spill over, and be crushed in turn by those behinf him. Another knee, then aiming up to another second, a burst sent through the weak and rotten skull of a zombie with two bullets, the stray slaming through the neck and spin of another. Brain matter from the first mixes with the offal that churns forward from the swarm, the one shot through the spine becoming a quadreplegic for the 15 seconds he wouldn't be able to appreicate it for. And so it goes. And so it goes.
He looks to Katherine. "You need t take those lickers-
And then, a sound he'd only heard a few times before. One was at an air show. The other was in Iraq. But it was the voice of angels, here. 30 millimter chainguns with shells so dense they slammed through tanks. Hydra folding-fin arieal rockets, high explosives and flecheetes, turning those zombies into so much hamburger for the carrion. And then one. One UH-60. Damn.
Death was exceedingly simple. Living... living was the tough part. And this would haunt him. For the longest time.
He flicked on the radio. "Captain. I'm moving airbourne, directing from a birds-eye view. Hold this line until... the rest arrive." He says, before looking over to Sammy, and the Councilman. The wound he was certain was killing him slowly was going to save him now, but that's not an excuse he could use.
"I'm... my family. I have to find them." He says to them. Expending the last carbine clip. Then drawing his pistol, firing bursts asd he slowly falls back to the helicopter itself. So many excuses. His wound. Family. Scinetific and combat knowledge. That he could do more good out there.
He was still the CO. And he was still running. God, he was still running. Because he suspected, almost knew that this would be the last one out.
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley remains at the back of the church with the other survivors, who are huddled. Several now are using the staffs as long spears from behind the table barriers, ready to start smacking or spearing any that make it close enough. A few of the rest are armed, but they otherwise just wait. Ashley is one of the armed.
The sound of shattering stain glass draws her attention. She was standing in front of the barricade, helping to secure it, when the Zach army began to bust it's way through. She looks over at the breach, takes a deep calming breath, and reaches for the glock tucked into the back of her yoga pants.
She mutters to herself as she takes aim, trying to remember what few rules she'd learned during her lesson with Secret Service. She seems almost surprised when the weapon goes off. BAM. She blinks, and steadies herself, and fires again. BAM BAM BAM BAM. One of the Zeds, dead, tumbles in, only to be replaced by another. And another.
|Claire Redfield||When the front line folds, Claire makes her way inside and only stops long enough to grab hold of Leon's sweater, "In....side..." What the hell? She looks up at the wooping sound of helicoptors.. "Belay that! Go get Ashley!" The rockets and cannons are tearing a path to the choppers and the blessed sight of Delta Squad tearing holes in undead flesh like a dick punch from Uncle Sam.
Toby Keith is so proud of you mother fuckers right now!
Claire, however, rushes towards the chopper with the last remaining bullets in her magazine acting as point defense against any zombies that jump out at her until she's made it to the defensive line of badasses. "Hey guys." She says with a voice that's either calm as a cucumber or shellshocked beyond recognition, "I don't suppose you're the UBER I called a few weeks ago?"
|Katie Colt||Katie unloaded the extended clip that Rashaam had left loaded in the Samurai Edge, eyes closed in fear for a moment when the magazine emptied before opening them and using the spare magazine Claire had given her to kill some zombies who were killing a man and then putting the man out of his misery with a tear in her eye.
When she was out of ammo, she began to reach for her bow as she tucked the pistol away but the sound of helicopters filled her with relief. Rescue had come. Even if only for a small group.
"Hey Claire, I'm going to get on that chopper. If you want to live, let's go now, if not, I'll write your autobiography. Kay?" She wasn't looking to be a hero and die, she only wanted a way out. She handed Richard Stadler back his rifle and began heading towards the chopper, she wasn't wounded but she looked like hell.
When the aircrew who was taking on the handful who would be boarding looked at her with a funny look until she said, "My dad's General Jack Colt." They didn't question her about boarding alongside Richard as she settled into the helicopter with a sigh of relief.
|Leon Kennedy||Well damned if help hasn't arrived. One chopper. The first one. Leon's instructions were clear; get Ashley on that chopper. The Samurai Edge in his hands barks out again and again and again, helping to clear the landing area of the undead, spitting fire and slugs from its mouth until the slide locks back and he drops the magazine straight to the ground, pulling the next from his vest and slamming it into the well in the grip. While Rick might be running towards the chopper, the young officer is headed back to the church, back towards his charge barricaded inside, heeding Claire's advice.
Running towards the church, he can't help but notice the zombies starting to spill in through one of the windows, despite the barriers around the perimeter. A fence must have gone down somewhere. The handgun comes up again, slowing to a determined glide as he fires again and again, boom boom boom boom boom boom. The force of each shot jars the gun in his hand, and he takes just long enough to affirm his grip and sight in on the next head before he fires again. The magazine drops to the ground, another goes in, and he keeps firing, blasting the last of this clump into brainless immobility, and then scrambling up through the window. "Ashley! Ashley, we gotta go!" There are more zombies inside the church already, though. "Shit."
|Ashley Graham||BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. Ashley's weapon discharges further. One Zed has fallen inside the church, and it takes a few shots before she gets the head, turning the creature into the Phantom of the Opera before it collapses. And then? It's Leon. "Jesus!" She swears. "Leon I almost shot you!" she accuses, knowing enough about firearm safety to draw the weapon back and up so she's not pointing it near him anymore. She does cross the room at a quick run to the man, though, pausing to look around. "Can we just open the doors? Everyone runs out?" Because Ashley doesn't know the exact hellicopter situation.|
|Katherine Quinn|| There were supposed to be more helicopters, not two gunships and a transport. Kat moved towards Rick, he was hurt and needed to evac. She wanted to get out of the city, but she wasn't sure if she was going to.
She briefly wonders if she coudl hitch a ride on one of the Apaches, she'd seen it done before. She turns her head back towards the church once Rick was onboard, "Hurry the hell up, they're not gonna hang around forever!"
|Chris Redfield||Chris Redfield nods to the Delta Force commander, "Copy that." He flicks the safety off of his M16 assault rifle, steps off the chopper and runs towards the Church. He's wearing his familiar light green S.T.A.R.S. body armor that certainly makes him stand out among the Delta force troops if anyone is looking in his general direction.
As the Delta force soldiers, formed a defensive line in front of the Blackhawk and laid waste to any zombies that were approaching, Chris took out a few stragglers that had gotten through with very accurate bursts from his M16.
He spots Claire first as she runs towards the Chopper, he flashes her quick smile breaking from his focused mission poker force for a second. "Sis!" He doesn't have time to explain to the her that he's alive and stuff at the moment, there will be time for that later. "Get everyone into the chopper! Where's the President's daughter?" He waves survivors towards the chopper, glancing at Katie as she runs past who spoke to Claire. He then looks towards the church as more zombies are entering it. "I'll get her! You go!" The tone he uses to Claire is of course his classic Big Brother, I don't have time to argue with you.
Chris then rushes off towards the back of the Church, firing his M16 at any undead that are in his path until he gets to where Ashley and Leon are situated. "I'm Chris Redfield. Bravo Team. We're here to rescue you." He then shoots another three zombies who get to close on fully automatic, emptying his clip, ejects it and then slaps in a new one. "We gotta go, now!"
|Leon Kennedy||"No," Leon answers hurriedly, shaking his head. "Not yet. There's more help coming but right now I have to get you out of here." Making his way toward the window again, he uses the back of his handgun to slap out any remaining lead or glass from the bottom of the windowsill and waves her over. "Come on. I'll give you a boost up. We don't have time to debate this right now, Ashley."
And then the main door blasts open and there's Chris Redfield, waving an M16 like some kind of badass. "...That works. Let's go." The policeman latches onto her arm, despite her inevitable protestations, and hurries her towards the exit and the chopper.
|Ashley Graham|| Protestations? From Ashley? No, never! "Leon we can't just leave them in here like this!" she hisses to the man in just such a protestation, but keeping her voice down far enough so that she can't be overheard by the 100 or so terrified people barricated on the alter. But Leon starts to pull her and, as much as she might argue with him, she does give in to his orders.
The sound of the barricated door being broken in by the Delta Force stranger causes Ashley to yelp, what with tensions running so high. She just stares at him, slightly opened-mouth in shock for a moment or two. But thankfully, Leon is there again pulling her along, and without another word she runs with him, glancing back once at the terrified people being left behind her.
|Chris Redfield||Chris Redfield nods to Leon, firing off two more bursts from his M16 at two more zombies and he hits them both in the head, ending their undead existance. "What are you two waiting for?! Go!" He moves off to the side, giving the Leon and Ashely an easy path through the door towards the Chopper. He then racks his underbarrel grenade launcher and aims it towards a large group of zombies that were breaking through Delta's line of fire and heading towards the Chopper. The explosion, rocks the Church but at least there is a few less zombies to worry about.|
|Katherine Quinn||That's it, Kat can't wait any longer. She mounts onto the chopper and then moves to the far door. It's a blackhawk so it should have a door gun, "Out of the way!" She shoves somebody, one of the air crew, to the side, and slides open the far door of the helo, the one facing most of the zombie horde. Mounted on the door is the best thing she has seen in a very long time, the M134.
One can actually hear Katherine laugh as she starts to go through, making sure the weapon is primed and ready to go, before she swings it around towards the horde. It takes a couple of moments for it to spin up, but once it does, the ever satisfying sound of the rapid fire chaingun fills the air.
Zombies are mowed down, cut to peices by the sheer rate of fire from the 7.62mm beast. She has to fire in bursts, otherwise she'll burn through all of the ammo, but each burst contains more than enough lead to keep the horde at bay, "Get some you stupid dead motherfuckers! Nobody's taking me! Haaaaaah!" Yeah for the first time in a long time, she may actually be enjoying herself.
|Kitten||The Apache on the left flank ran out of ammunition, the pilot being a little too gung-ho to get the chance to unload upon the undead masses. Seeing the zombies start to breakthrough and knowing they would overwhelm the position of the defenders, he did something very stupid.
The chopper was angled downwards so the blades could slice into the zombies, it was a stupid thing to do because of the cost of the helicopter and how unlikely it was to work.
Predictably the blades hit pavement and the force caused the chopper to lose control as it spun into the group of undead; slicing more apart before ultimately exploding.
The lone Apache had stopped firing rockets and most of the defenders were down to melee weapons, the Delta Force commandos doing what they could to help.
"Come on!" One of the air crew screamed towards Leon and Ashley as the Blackhawk was preparing to take off. Whether or not the other choppers were coming was not a question, it was if they would get here in time before the entire position was overwhelmed...
|Leon Kennedy||"I know," Leon murmurs back to the President's daughter, no less enthused to be leaving the refugees behind. "I know." It's a sad, but powerless refrain. He can't make more choppers appear by the force of his will, or he would do it.
As they run past/with the newly arrived Delta Force Redfield toting the assault rifle, the young officer apprises the other man of the situation. "We've got at least a hundred people still inside! When are the rest of the helicopters coming in?" This can't be the last helicopter. As they get closer, the whirling of the props starts to drown out any attempt at conversation. "We can't leave them all to die!" But his words are mostly lost in the noise, even as he ushers Ashley through the hatch and onto a seat. He's not out of ammo yet, and the least he can do for these people is take out a few more bodies, so he turns and puts the rest of his rounds out the barrel and into heads, faces, necks, and shoulders. Some miss, admittedly, but most don't. With Ashley on the thing, he's (probably) fulfilled his promise, and with one last long look at the church, he jumps up inside.
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley is running with Leon, gun in her opposite hand as she allows him to drag her along. The explosion off to one side causes her to flinch, and she lets out a slightly yelp and stumbles to the side. But Leon's got ahold of her, and keeps her on the path. And with another breath she's climbing inside.
There's a moment of panic, however, when Leon doesn't get in right behind her. When he turns to continue firing. Ashley leans out of her seat so she can slide a slender arm out of the chopper, which takes hold of the fabric at Leon's shoulder. He could pull away easily if he wants, but it's Ashley's little reminder to him that she's there, and that she's tugging him in that direction too. Once he steps in, however, she falls back to her seat and lets out a sigh. They're not out of here yet. But it's closer than they've gotten.
|Claire Redfield||Claire glances back towards the building and jolts a little out of her comfort zone when the apache goes down... things are going very badly for them all. "Alright, Leon." She leans out of the chopper and stares at him, "It's time to go... this is the last flight out..." This is the girl who risked everything so people could have a little bit to eat. Dwindled their resources down to bare bones so others might struggle through.
"Remember the train... it's time to get on the train." She says, holding out her hand to him.
|Chris Redfield||Chris Redfield continues firing his M16 at any approaching zombies, trying to save as many of the civillians as he can inside the church from a horrible fate but there are just too many. He knows that in a war, you can't save everyone but he's got to try even if it means taking unnecessary risks at time and in the end the result is probably the same.
His M16 clicks, it's empty and unholsters his Samurai Edge that Jill loaned to him. With extreme precision and acurracy every shot he makes, is a headshot at the approaching zombies as he moves towards the Blackhawk, that has Claire's small team on board along with the President's daughter and the rookie RPD officer with the unblemished hair.
Redfield, steps on board the chopper, still firing away with his pistol, taking out as many of the undead as possible until his pistol is on empty. He looks at the Delta Force commander, "Mission accomplished." and he reloads, then keeps firing at more zombies that are going towards the church.
|Leon Kennedy||Ashley's small grip on him, that pale hand wrapped up in the fabric of his sweater, tethers Leon to the chopper and brings him inside. The cop takes the seat next to her, slapping the radio Claire had loaned him into the student's outstretched hand. They're onboard. They're going to get out. The shock of everything they've gone through is threatening to come crashing home all at once, but he's holding it off for now, staring vacantly out the hatch towards the church where the zombies are already starting to overwhelm the defenses again.|
|Kitten||With the chopper fully loaded, it began to take off and leave the desperate firefight on the ground behind; nobody remaining giving up any ground if they could help it as more and more undead began to spill through without the air support.
As the Blackhawk flies away, you can see more chinook transport helicopters incoming; heading towards the Church, with luck they would still manage to save some people before there was no hope remaining.
As the sun finished setting over the horizon and night descended, you could see the lights of Denver ahead as the chopper continued to fly you to safety and out of the nightmare that was Raccoon City.
|Ashley Graham|| Once Leon is situated beside her, Ashley reaches out for him, reaches to take his hand and cling to it with her own small, pale one. It's shaking. She's shaking. The President's Daughter turns her head, looking across Leon to the Church, which by now is full of screaming people, being torn apart by the Zeds that have made their way in. No matter how many they kill, there's no salvation for them. So she watches, helpless.
Where Leon holds it together, Ashley begins to cry. Tears slide down her cheeks, even as the other helicopters pass on their way in. She just clings to Leon's hand harder and releases. The hand comes up to drape across Leon in a hug, resting on his far shoulder while she turns her face into his close one. She cries into him, squeezing him, both offering comfort and seeking it.
|Claire Redfield||Claire closes her hand around the radio as if that's what she'd been reaching for all along. It's something to grip hold of when even the sight of her brother, alive and well, isn't enough to pull her out of the malaise of the horrible sacrifice she just made others make. Leaning against the side of the bird as they escape the nightmare, staring down at the flash of light in the growing darkness that represents assault rifles. The blinking power grid of a generator giving out entirely bathing the entire monolith of hope she tried to build in darkness.
Claire has been strong through it all. Always smiling, always offering support or aid, but there's nothing left in her but a deaden nerves and frayed edges of barely contained remorse. One hand comes up to slide the beanie off her head. That dirty, vomit green beanie she's almost never been without is tossed down on her bag so her hair can sit matted to her face from the weight of grime.
Slowly, possibly at the point of landing, Claire looks up and stares at Chris, "Where the fuck have you been?"
|Chris Redfield||Chris Redfield continued firing his Samurai Edge even after the Blackhawk took off, it was the only thing he could do to express the fury inside him at leaving countless innocents to possibly die because the President had given him a chance to save the only family he has in this world. It was a choice he would make again and again, though but it leaves his heart heavy.
He holsters his now empty pistol as the door to the Blackhawkk closed and he grits his teeth, banging a closed fist against the now sealed door. He doesn't sit down, preferring to stand and grips the overhead handles on the ceiling as the Chopper makes its way back to base. He doesn't even glance at the assembled survivors who they had just rescued, occassionaly shooting a few short looks towards his sister Claire who is silent for most of the trip. When she finally does speak, he seems in shock at first never having heard such language from her before.
"Long story. I'm glad your alive, sis." is all he manages to blurt out and he feels like the entire world has just come crashing down on his shoulders with everything that has happened. He looks Claire in he eyes, trying to find some sort of solace or forgiveness through his look and is hanging onto that strap with one arm above his head as if his feet are about to give out.
|Claire Redfield||"I bet it's a great one. I bet it involves..." Claire tries to make a joke, but can't come up with a sense of humor to formulate it. So she just shrugs, "I'm glad you're alive." She manages that much, truthfully even, and glances out the window at Raccoon City disappearing behind them. She's numb, eyes dull and cold after pretty much remanding most of the people she's been protecting for weeks, to a grizzly death.|
|Chris Redfield||Chris Redfield nods towards Claire, letting her be for now as he see's her staring out the window. He closes his eyes for a few moments, gathering his thoughts and pulls himself up using the strap to stand up straighter. Opening his eyes, he looks towards the Delta Force commander, "Eta to base?"
The bearded Delta officer, turns to look at Chris from his seat. "Five more minutes, Redfield." He taps his headset as if listening to something, then responds. "Copy that base. Medical team will be on standy to receive survivors and yes, I'll send him to the debriefing." He looks once more towards Redfield, "You have a debrief to attend too once we land. You sure you don't want to re-enlist, Redfield?"
Chris nods to the Delta commander and sighs, "Right...of course I do and nah, I'm done with military service. Had this small problem with chain of command." He then glances at the assembled survivors in the helicopter, his gaze settling on Ashley since he recognzies her from the picture he saw of her at the mission briefing but doesn't say anything to her since she's being consoled by Leon, not to mention he isn't sure what kind of clearance she has.
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley lifts her head once the city is no longer in sight, lifting her hand to wipe the tears from her cheeks. They've left trails of pure white skin peeking out from beneath the dirt and grime of living hard for the last few weeks. She sniffles, swallowing, and looking around the hellicopter.
And then her eyes settle in her other hand. The one that still holds the Glock 19 with a tight, white knuckled grip. "Jesus," she mutters, though in the noise of the machinery she likely can't be heard. At least she seems to know what to do with the gun, switching the safety on quickly and immediately. "Jesus," she swears again, her hands shaking.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler looks up, for the first time in a long time, during the chaos, the quiet time after the helicopter slowly lifted off. He had things to contemplate... less things than before he had seen those heavy-lift Chinooks heading to the church, but still some things. A thousand things could still go wrong... but they were safe. Safe when so, so many others hadn't.
He pauses, for a moment, looking down at the pistol he still held, it's slide locked back as he poured out the last of the ammunition. He hasn't thought to ask for more. He looks up to Ashley, once. Maybe their eyes meet, but... he doesn't have much to offer, beyond the obvious. "We're out. It's done."
|Chris Redfield||Chris watches Ashley for a few moments, while she puts her gun away and see's her muttering something but can't hear what it was due to the engine and cabin noise. "Your dad will be happy to see you. Thank him for me." he says loud enough in the cabin to be heard and then looks towards Major Richard Stadler, nodding in approval of what he says to Ashley then turns away to let them speak in private.|
|Claire Redfield||Claire takes a deep breath and slides off the bench where she's been sitting to move over closer to Chris and suddenly give him a hug. The dam breaks as soon as she's in close proximity to her brother and while her face is buried in his shoulder, her own start to rock, tears immediately welling up in her eyes and spilling out onto his shirt and armor.|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley hears Richard, looking to him first. She doesn't seem to really know what to say to that. Going from a 'shoot and run from your life' moment to 'safety'? The body doesn't work like that. Adrenaline is surging still. So she just shakes her head at him, and there's a few more tears, and she moves to turn her head back toward Leon.
But the Chris is speaking up, and she turns her eyes up to him. They're brighter now than when she was looking at Claire back in the Church, but it's because of tears. "For what?" she asks, at first quietly. Realizing she won't be heard, she speaks up again. "For what?" Louder.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler doesn't know what to say, either. For the most part, he was a man who had been one thing, thrown through an abbitior, and came out something else... something he wasn't sure of. Very little, was he sure of at the moment. So that's why he might try to latch on something he could answer, to be professorial. Shirnk down to this moment instead of the world he wasn't ready for.
"Decisions need to be made, Ashley. Resources allocated. The people in charge have to look at a small group of survivors admit hundred of thousands of walking corpses, and ask themselves if the blood and treasure they'll spend to get them out is worth it. An equation."
He pauses. "I... don't meant to be cold. I shouldn't be, and it's... not something you want to hear, but it's something you're going to have to make peace with. The fact that you were there, one person, may have been the tipping point. For them to come."
|Chris Redfield||Chris glances over at his sister, when Claire stands up and when she hugs him he lets go of the handle above his head to wrap both his arms around her in a big brother bear hug. No words need to be spoken between the two, he was never good at expressing himself and won't ruin that tough guy image now. Besides he sent her an email, so that has to count for something right? He holds onto Claire as she cries, just like when she was upset when they were kids growing up and times were tough.
Unfortunately for Ashley, he's a bit distracted at the moment with his sister, sharing a rather tender moment and doesn't hear her or Richard as they speak.
|Ashley Graham|| And that's just fine, because Richard's words have fully distracted Ashley too. She keeps a very firm hand on Leon's hand. The gun is left to sit in her lap, still held in her other hand. She listens to Richard, shaking her head and looking away from the man. Her hands begin to shake again, and she chokes back a sob to instead replace it with a deep, calming breath.
"You're right," she tells Richard, loudly to be heard. "That's not what I want to hear." She pauses then, thinking over her next words carefully. But there's strangers here, and a lot of people would overhear, and she'd have to shout. So she thinks for a few more moments before she finally speaks. "It shouldn't have been like this." Yeah, thanks Ashley. Understatement of the century.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler hangs his head. Desperate for small talk, almost. For a downshift in his operations instead of a slithering halt this has been from 2 weeks of constant panic. So he talks, and listens, and nods, when he has to. "I doubt you will. Because... I know, we like to have a reason. And the reason you don't want to hear is 'because your father's the leader of the free world'."
A long pause, his own voice raised, as Ashley's words make him face the pit that's waiting for him once they land, get somewhere quiet. Something he needed to avoid for now... for the most part. "It shouldn't. It... that... that was my home. Where I built my... life. My family. It's... just past Easter, isn't it? Kathy and I should have been filling up the basket we've always used, hiding it somewhere in the house. A few years left before he got too old for it, so you enjoy each one you have. Not that..." He trails off.
Not like you think it's the last one.
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley turns her face away, lower lip trembling. Thankfully Leon is still there, having his own introspections, and Ashley is able to rely on his form to keep her face hidden from the rest of the helicopter. She's able to speak, though. "It's not right," she states to Richard.
A slight shift in the air causes Ashley to start, leaving the gun on her lap as she grips for the armrests. But there aren't, really. So she just steadies herself as best she can.
As Richard starts to speak of his family, though, Ashley looks back to the man with wide, sad eyes. She takes a deep, calming breath, and then reaches a hand out to set on the man's knee in a comforting gesture. But what can you say to that, to a man that's lost his entire family? Not much. "Are you holding up alright? Your chest?"
|Katherine Quinn||This whole time, Katherine has been sitting quietly at the door, closed back up after they took off, looking out of the window at everything that was passing by them down below. She had mysteriously shown up at the church just in the nick of time, it seems. Lucky for her. She listened in on the conversation, about Stadler's family, how they most likely hadn't made it. She shakes her head and sighs. How many lives did Umbrella destroy? For what purpose? And why was her's going to be among them, if she hadn't fought and clawed her way out.|
|Chris Redfield||Chris eventually lets go of Claire from his big bro hug and he sits down beside her as he feels the chopper start to bank as they near the landing zone. He glances between Richard and Ashley, as they speak to one another. He doesn't want to interrupt their conversation, looking over to the silent Katherine now and gives her a polite nod. He turns to look at Claire, pointing at her seatbelt and then buckles his own. He doesn't want to remind her about Safety first by being a nag so he likes to remind her through visual aids. The Redfields are a stubborn bunch it seems.
"One minute until landing, Redfield and then you've got that briefing to attend too." The Delta commander says to him and then glances at all the other survivors, his gaze landing on Richard. "Major. You've got to report to the medical team that is awaiting on the tarmac along with all the other folks we rescued. Standard procedure. You understand."
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler blinks, for a moment, at the question of how his chest is doing. That does actually get a bit of a smile. Perhaps it's because he didn't see his family die. That they might have gotten picked up, or evacuated. That the lingering hope might be the bandage needed to get the wound to close. BUt, speaking of wounds, he looked down. "Wouldn't it be funny if I got out, and this killed me? Suppose I should see a Doctor in... whereever we're going."|
|Ashley Graham|| Ashley nods to Rick, but when he's addressed as "Major" she sits back in her seat, looking forward to the man who spoke. Her blue eyes flick to Rick once again.
"Sounds like they'll get you seen to immediately," she says, able to give the man a soft, sad smile. "I daresay if you've survived everything else with that wound, you'll do very well under the attention of a medical team."
Still holding tight to Leon's hand, she looks back to the Delta Force, the men who seem to be in charge. She opens her mouth, as though she might say something, but chooses not to, instead retreating quietly back into her seat. She closes her eyes, she sighs, and purses her lips in a moment to force a swallow. So many feels trying to break out. So many feels.
|Kitten||The chopper finally settles down at a military airfield in Denver, the pilot announcing, "We're here, safe and sound. Also, some of you might like to know that I have word that a few of the other evacuation choppers made it out." No clue who would be on them though, hopefully Hunni, Cecily, and the other civilians hade made it.
You would all be checked out briefly by the CDC, and cleared to go about your lives for the most part; no doubt some of you would have your own reports to make and quests to follow but the nightmare was over.
|Yoko Suzuki||During the whole chaos, Yoko Suzuki was trying to help out as best as she can, but during the situation she got attacked from behind, and as she tried to fight back, she suddenly lost her balance and fell over, hitting her head on the ground and losing consciousness. That was the last thing she remembered before she blacked out.
Now she had awakened onboard the chopper, with Chris and Claire and a few others. She began to feel things falling back into place and she blinked her eyes a few times, before realizing where she was and what was happening.
They were finally leaving Raccoon City.
Eventually, the chopper touched down, and everyone was checked out by the CDC. Fortunately, Yoko only suffered a small bump to her head, and there were no other major injuries to her. Unfortunately, while her physical health was clear, her mind was anything but clear. The emotions she'd been holding in were finally coming out, and she began to feel the sting of tears for the first time in a long time. She'd tried to hold them back, but now that she had no need to hide them, she literally collapsed.
Dropping down to her knees, Yoko begins to cry as she realizes what truly had happened, and how lucky she was to get out, not to mention how many people have perished in some form or other. All because of the company known as Umbrella. She knew that she was once part of them, but now she was definitely against them. Each tear she shed was like a memory for each of those she'd known before the nightmare began...
|Chris Redfield||"Don't worry, Claire the medical exam is standard procedure and I'll come by to see you after my debriefing." Chris says to his sister when they land. He unbuckles his seat belt, then gives the Delta Commander a small salute and shakes the man's hand. "I'm sorry for any loses, those are some of the bravest soldiers I have ever seen." Redfield says to the Delta leader in a sincere yet sombre tone. "Thanks again for the ride and it was an honor to see your team in action." The Delta leader nods, "Thank you and likewise Redfield."
Chris, helps Claire exit the plane offering his arm to her and gives her a quick hug as she's being taken to a nearby tent by the CDC team who are wearing those enviromental suits. He nods to Richard Stadler, then looks toward Yoko giving her a shoulder a reassuring squeeze when he see's her starting to be overcome by emotions. "Your safe now." and then he walks over to where Leon as well as Ashely are before he heads off to his debriefing. "You did good out there kid. Be safe." Then turns to Ashley, "The President let me go in with Delta Team to assist in the rescue of you and my sister. I'll always be grateful for that. Take care." He then walks away to head off to his debriefing before they send some suit to drag him away.
|Prestige Richard Stadler||Stadler looks over to Chris, the words before sinking in. "Oh. Yes, of course. I understand procedure, even if it wasn't for this gut wound. Quarantine, and all. Poked and proded by people from Atlanta." He says. A quick look over to Ashley. Maybe something about 'Oh, it's fine, don't worry'. Tough guy approch that he didn't feel. "I hope so." is what he says, instead. "Eventually, this'll kill me as easy as any of the other stuff... even if I can walk, for the most part."
And then the helicopter lands, out on some tarmac. Stepping out, with the rest of them, as they're seperated. Going to the tent to be poked and proded, and then...
What? What now? It was like a disaster, a flood, a wild fire. The night mare was over, but what life did it leave behind? Stadler didn't know. He suspected some of the others, didn't, either. But none of them would be the same, that one was for sure. It sounded cliche as hell when he thought about it, but it was true. It still left that one question left, one he only had an inkling of an answer.