The instant the four had closed the train door behind them, they heard a click as it locked shut. "No running away," Leon murmured. He led them through the doors to the next car, scanning it for a sign of what had come aboard. Where could it be?

"Not for nothing, but…" Mar called over the noise, "…exactly how am I supposed to fight? I don't have a weapon."

"You could nag 'em to death…" Nero muttered.

"Here; you can use this for now." Leon un-slung the shotgun from around his back and handed it to Mar. Mar took it, his eyes widening at the weight of the weapon. "Make sure to brace yourself, or your shot could go anywhere. And I'd rather not die after coming this far."

Nero moved through doors in front of them, and the group filed after him. He could sense the faint tingle of demonic energy ahead, but nothing caught his eye, even when they'd reached the far side of the train car. With trepidation, they opened those doors and went through to the last car.

The instant they stepped inside, a long, fleshy tendril crashed through a vent overhead. The faint echo of demonic power surged to a roar. "Get back to the other car!" Nero ordered. They retreated, piling through the doors. The doors started to close, but four tongue-like appendages identical to the tendril shot inside, and a giant creature forced its way into the car through the open doors.

Apart from Mar, most of those assembled could barely recognize the beast that had formerly been Birkin; the form of the monster was massive, squelching inside the train car with no room to spare. A large, toothed mouth was surrounded by several black, pupil-less eyes; Birkin's secondary head had been pushed aside like a dangling mask, one of the tendrils sprouting from its open mouth. Its clawed arms were jutting out of the amorphous body at odd angles, swiping angrily yet pointlessly. Several eyes, teeth, and hearts were dangling off of the shapeless body, and a horrible meaty stench permeated the compartment.

"Talk about ugly," Leon muttered, staring at the abomination in horror.

"Starting to wish we'd brought that rocket launcher…" Claire said, eyes wide.

"You think I'm scared of you, Birkin?!" Mar yelled. "There is no world I cannot walk in, and no plot beyond my comprehension! I can bend the forces of nature and treat time and space as mere playthings; I'm not afraid of a mutated freak like you!" He raised the shotgun and fired it with one hand.

The massive recoil of the weapon sent it up and backwards, taking Mar's arm with it. There was a loud cracking noise, then a clatter, and the sorcerer was on his knees clutching his right shoulder. "Shit…owowowowowwww…"

"So much for that," Nero said irritably. "Well, it's up to us, then!" The three opened fire with their weapons as the giant creature resumed its slow advance towards them; a hail of bullets mixed with Claire's last grenade impacted the blob, opening wounds that closed almost instantly.

The monster gave a loud roar, and shuddered all over. It gave a sound like a loud burp, and a fluid-covered creature crawled from its fanged mouth. It looked like one of the things called "Blades"…

"Ugh, seriously?" Leon yelled, turning his gun on the spat-up demon. "It vomits up helpers!" The toothy mouth of the Birkin monster contracted, and then spat out a stream of flame. "And it breathes fire?"

"It what?!" hissed Mar, staggering to his feet. "What the hell did you guys DO?!"

"Don't blame me! I wasn't the one who-"

"Never mind that!" Nero shouted. "Just keep shooting the damn thing!" He swapped Blue Rose over to his right hand, funneling power into it. Let's see you eat this one. To his shock, just as he switched the gun back over to his left hand, the power drained right out of it, vanishing completely. "Dammit, not again!"

The hideous monstrosity continued to pull itself forward slowly but surely; it was taking up nearly half the train car now.

"This isn't any good!" Claire exclaimed. "It's healing faster than we can hurt it!" Her pistol went silent, locking open. "Changing weapons!" Stuffing her pistol into its holster, she began firing the borrowed Desert Eagle.

Leon's face worked into a snarl. "No matter what, we can't let it get past us!" There was absolutely no way they were letting this thing escape with them. They needed to put it down, right here and now. But how were they supposed to do enough damage all at once to kill it for good? If only there was a way they could hammer it with continuous…explosions…

Wait a sec…what was it that voice said? "Each train car will detonate in sequence", I think…but then that means…

His snarl turned into a look of surprise. "That's it!"

"What's it?" Claire shouted over the gunfire.

"We can't kill it this way; we'll have to let the self-destruct take it out for us!"

"But…if we do that, we'll die too, won't we?"

"There's got to be a way to deactivate the system on one car; we'll uncouple this one so the engine takes us clear of the blast radius, and disarm the bomb on that car before it goes off."

She stopped firing with only three bullets left, gaping at him. "…If we pull all that off, it'll be a miracle!"

"Would you two PAY ATTENTION?!" Nero yelled as he cut through two tendrils before they could grab his partners. "If you've got a plan, don't sit here shootin' the breeze!"

"We need to withdraw," Leon ordered. "Can you break the link between this train car and the engine?"

"Only one way to find out!" He covered Claire and Leon as they retreated through the train doors. "Get moving, would you?" he snapped at the sorcerer.

"Working on it…" He picked up the shotgun with his left hand, his right dangling limply as he stumbled out the doors. Shaking his head, Nero followed, forcing the train doors closed behind them.

"C'mon…let this work…" Nero whispered. He focused hard.

The Devil Trigger activated, the familiar spectre forming around him. He gripped his right hand; the spirit gripped a large version of Yamato. He swiped his closed fist in an arc in front of him, praying that his arm would work this time.

A sharp hiss sounded. Slowly, the train car in front of them began to pull away as it lost speed.

"It worked!"he exclaimed, relieved. He returned to normal, the spirit disappearing. He turned to see Claire and Leon giving him accusing looks.

"Demon?" Claire supplied.

"Part. It's complicated." He frowned. "That a problem?"

"Not really," Leon said. "Could've used that earlier, though."

He shrugged. "Let's save the details for later; we don't wanna go up in flames, too." He knocked on the closed doors of the engine car. "Hey in there! Find some way to switch off the timer!"

Kyrie was already on it.

Dante had still been trying to get Lady up when the other four had left, and Sherry had been looking at her expectantly. "Sherry, follow me." The girl nodded at her, and they raced to the control room. Kyrie tried the door; it was locked.

Sherry looked at the bottom of the door; there was a flimsy-looking vent cover that looked about her size. "I'll open it from the inside!" she said to Kyrie, kicking the vent cover off and crawling through it. She turned around, pushing a button near the door.

It clicked, and then slid open, with the songstress filing in. "Look for something that says 'override' or 'stop', okay?"

Sherry nodded, searching the control panel. She found a great big red button reading 'Emergency Brake'. "Is this it?" she said, pointing to it.

Kyrie shook her head. "We need something to stop the explosion; Lady and your mother are in no condition to move." She scanned the various keys, knobs, and switches. "Hmm…" She noticed a timer near the activation lever; they had 1'56"47 remaining. Where could it be…There! A console read 'Emergency Override'.

She hurriedly typed on the keys, scrolling through a simple interface. Main Menu…Biohazard Containment…Section Control, here it is! She tapped on a few keys. Please select compartment to deactivate Cauterization Protocol…okay! She tapped a button to select the engine car. 1'32"44…

Warning: Containment protocol currently active. "Yes, I know that!" she grumbled in frustration. She hit a few more keys. Overseer authorization required.

A small panel opened up near Sherry. A look of understanding dawned on her face.

Authorization? Kyrie thought with worry. How am I going to get authorization here? We're miles outside of the city, and I'm guessing the Overseer isn't human anymore. 1'02"22 left! What should I-

A green light blinked on next to the screen. Authorization has been confirmed. Activating Overseer Exception to Cauterization Program. Caution: unselected compartments will be detonated. Are you sure you wish to proceed?

She gaped at the screen. "How did…?"

"I got it!"

She looked at her companion; the Master Key had been placed into a panel next to her. "Wonderful, Sherry!" she told the young girl. She turned back to the monitor. 0'30"23! Need to hurry! She thumbed the "Confirm" button as hard as she could.

Overseer Exception sub-protocol engaged. Engine car will not be subject to detonation.

She breathed out a sigh of relief, noting the timer still ticking down. She looked over the control panel once more, and finding a switch labeled 'Door Release', flipped it. "Well done, Sherry!" she said, patting the girl on the shoulder. "That was very clever; I couldn't have done it without you."

She smiled. "Thanks, Miss Kyrie. I'm glad I could help out."

Kyrie smiled back. "So am I."

The door at the rear of the engine car opened, and Claire, Leon, Mar and Nero piled in, the latter racing up to the engine car. The instant he'd gotten inside the control room, he pulled Kyrie and Sherry down, protecting them as the countdown timer hit 0'0"0.

The engine car rocked, and they could hear a roar in the distance behind them. Nero looked back, seeing a huge fireball approaching them from the still-open door. He looked up at the control panel.

"Look for 'Door Release'!" Kyrie called from underneath him.

He found the switch and flipped it. The door sealed, blocking off their view of the fireball racing towards them. A moment later, however, he saw flames licking the glass of the windscreen. He hugged the two tight, hoping against hope that he hadn't been too late.

But the roar of the flames began to ebb away. He looked up. The flame had receded from the glass, and the train was still moving. The Holy Knight let out a shaky, relieved breath. "I was a little scared I wouldn't be able to protect you," he said, releasing them gently.

Kyrie beamed up at him. "Perhaps I should be thankful that on that point, you'll always be wrong."

Sherry smiled cheerfully. "Kyrie and I were the ones that let you in. And we managed to stop this car from exploding, too."

"Did you?" he said, surprised. "Well…nice job, you two!"

The three of them returned to the others, who were all gathered back where they'd been before around the seats. It was almost as if the train had never been in danger of exploding; all of them seemed drained or safely content.

…Well…aside from one person…

Mar was holding his shoulder, a look of extreme discomfort on his face. Dante, meanwhile, was smirking at him. "One shot."

"Not now, please…" the cloaked man groaned.

"Just one shot?"

"…Yes, okay?"

He laughed. "You fired a shotgun once, and it dislocated your shoulder?"

"My powers…" he hissed, wincing, "focus on the mystical. Not the physical. This never happened before…"

"Sheesh, if I'd have known this, I'd have given you a gun weeks ago."

"Yeah, yeah…kick me while I'm down, why don't you…"

"Why can't you just re-set it?" he asked pointedly. "It'll still sting like hell, but at least it won't be messed up AND painful."

"I've never done it before. And the last thing I need is to make it worse."

He shrugged. "Whatever. Not my problem." He gave Mar a piercing look. "Maybe you shouldn't be putting us in these situations, and they won't keep turning out so badly."

Mar swallowed, nodding. "Yeah. I don't think…you'll be needed in this universe any longer."

"Can you at least give us an hour or two? Lady needs some rest after the crap she's been through, and the rest of us could use a little down-time too. We've been at it for almost two days solid."

"Very well. I'll need that time to heal, anyway. Be ready all the same; when it's time to go, I won't let you dawdle." Immediately after saying this, he abruptly began snoring.

Sherry looked around at the others. "What happens now?" she asked them.

"Well, before anything else," Dante said, pulling a sheaf of mismatched paper from the depths of his coat pockets, "Leon and Claire, you take these. There's some really incriminating stuff in there; take it to the cops, or the feds, or whoever you have to. Try to poke enough holes in Umbrella that they drown in their own mess."

"And take this, too," Nero added, holding the last vial of Daylight out. "Having a cure for the t-Virus should help if they try to kickstart another one of these zombie outbreaks."

Leon nodded, taking half of the papers while Claire took the antigen and the other half of the documents. "We can do that. But…why are you talking like you're leaving it all to us?"

"Not by choice," Nero muttered, glaring at the unconscious form of Mar. "But soon enough we'll have to be on our way. It's up to you to take out Umbrella."

"I'll be sorry to see you go. Even if we do get their company shut down, there'll be a lot of holdouts; they've got branches in several countries. We could use your help wiping them out."

"I gotta admit, it does sound like fun. Still, like I say, not our call."

"Why not?" Claire asked him, a defiant look on her face. "Who cares what that man tells you to do? If you want to help us, then help us."

Kyrie gave her a sad look. "But if we stay with you, we can't go home again. We've been away so long already; I hope nothing's happened while we were away." Dante and Nero shifted uncomfortably at those words.

Her stance softened. "But…"

"Hey, it's fine," Leon said, shrugging. "Do what you've gotta do. But once you have, look us up. You're welcome anytime." He held out a hand.

Kyrie smiled, taking his hand in hers. "We'd like that."


The voice startled Kyrie. She let go of Leon's hand, turning to see a certain young girl clutching her dress very tightly. "Sherry?"

"Don't go!" Tears welled up in her eyes. "Please…please don't go."

Claire knelt down, laying a hand over the young girl's clutched fist. "Sherry, sweetie, they said they can't stay. We can't-"

"I don't care!" She buried her face into Kyrie's dress. "I've already lost my dad…Mom might never wake up…I don't…I don't want to lose them too…"

"But there are other people that they'll need to help," she said gently. "Just like how they helped us. And besides, you'll still have Leon and me."

Sherry turned to look her in the eyes, but still didn't let go. "Won't you miss them too?"

Claire gave her a smile. "Of course. Even Dante." Sherry returned a smile of her own very briefly, then sighed and released Kyrie's robes.

The Devil Hunter in red felt a nudge in the small of his back. He turned his head to stare at Nero, who was motioning towards the gathered group. Since when was I the go-to guy to deal with kids? Shrugging, he knelt down in front of the young girl. "Don't worry, we won't forget you. And I'll give you something special to remember us by."

Dante held out a small object to Sherry, whose tear-streaked face turned to awe as she took it. It was a small, spherical vial of water that was clearer than any she'd ever seen before; just holding it gave her a sense of relief. "…It's beautiful. But what is it?"

"Call it a good-luck charm. You hold onto that, and if you're ever in trouble, use it."

She held it close to her chest, her lip trembling. "You mean if I'm in trouble, you…won't be there?"

He sighed, scratching the back of his head uncomfortably. "Not 'won't'. 'Can't'. We're from way, waaaaay outta town."

"A whole other world…" Lady muttered from her spot.

"Tell you what, I'll see if we can work out a chance to visit sometime. That okay?"

"You mean it?" Sherry asked, giving him a hopeful, wide-eyed look.

"No promises, but we'll do our best. For now, though, I think we could all use some sleep."

"I'm not tired," she pouted, completely ruining the effect by yawning a second later.

He gave her a smile, patting her on the head. "C'mon, humor me. I'm definitely gonna catch some Z's." He laid down on the floor, stretching out and putting his hands behind his head.

Claire and Leon sat together on the other seat, just past Annette's feet. "It's okay, Sherry," the woman with the ponytail reassured her. "Come sit with us."

She bit her lip, looking at the Devil Hunter for a few moments before sitting next to Claire. "You'd better…*yawn*…come back…" Her eyes drooped, her head lowering. "You better…" And like a light, she was out.

Claire patted the sleeping girl's head gently, looking over in Lady and Dante's direction. "Will you be here when we wake up?"

"Probably not, no," the red-coated man admitted.

She nodded. "I thought not. Well, take care of yourself, okay?"

"Careful, Claire. Someone might think you were friends with us."

"And someone might be right." Her eyes closed, and her head fell against Leon's shoulder.

Nero looked over at Leon, waiting expectantly. He stared right back, and it was only after a full minute that he finally said anything. "Don't die."

The Holy Knight raised an eyebrow. "Really? That's it?"

"They said everything else already, what do you want me to say? This probably won't be the last disaster you have to cut through. Just remember that Sherry's expecting you to visit; so, you know, don't die."

Kyrie gave him a small smile. "It's a promise." Nero sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall of the train compartment. After a moment, Kyrie sat down beside him, and within seconds they were both sound asleep.

Dante heard Lady's snores start; shaking his head, he closed his own eyes. "Keep sharp, Leon. Wouldn't want you to forget all my wise lessons and lose like a chump."

"If you say so," the officer's voice called over. "What's the charge for all the lessons?"

"How about a round of drinks for all of us whenever we drop in?"

"Sounds good to me. See you around, then."

Dante took a deep breath, relaxing. He felt himself drifting off to sleep…

…And what seemed like mere moments later, he felt himself being shaken awake. "Time to go, Devil Hunter."

He pulled himself up off the floor, stretching as he glared at Mar. "That was barely any rest at all."

"I gave you two hours, as agreed. But now it's time to send you on."

He looked around at the other three who had gotten to their feet, all of them looking as groggy as he felt. The train car was deadly still and quiet; he could see a teardrop frozen in place on Sherry's cheek. "Doesn't feel like two hours."

"One of the side-effects of sleeping while time is stopped, I'm afraid. The body may be rejuvenated, but there are no shortcuts for the mind. Anyway, shall we go to the next world? This one will be a bit more…magical than the current one," he said, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

"How about we talk about your little hint from last time?" he countered.

"Ahh, I'd almost forgotten. Yes, I did give you a hint, didn't I? Do you remember what it was?"

"It was definitely a little hint. One word is a piss-poor excuse for an explanation."

"Ah, but that all depends on the word, now doesn't it? Well, go on. What was that word?"

His eyes narrowed. "Return."

Mar beamed at him. "Excellent. Even a zombie outbreak hasn't dulled your memory. So there, we've talked about it. Shall we move on?"

"Hang on a second!" Nero snapped. "Return of who?"

"Of whom," Mar said, a smug look on his face.

"Piss off, you know what I mean."

"That would constitute a new hint, I'm afraid. But…since I haven't given you one yet, why not? I'm sure my bosses won't mind. The return of someone from the past. It's someone you all know, if not directly."

Kyrie's eyes went wide. "You couldn't possibly mean…the Devil Emperor, could you?"

"Maybe yes and maybe no," the grey-robed man said flippantly.

"I don't think that's who he means," Dante said, his gaze unwavering. "Still, you'd better not forget what it is that I do. If you or your 'bosses' are working with demons, I-"

And then he had vanished from that universe, along with his companions…

"-swear I'll kill you all!" Dante snapped as all four of them fell onto a hard, wooden surface. He winced slightly at the surprise impact, but sighed and opened his eyes, no worse for wear. And when his eyes opened, they continued to open further.

From the looks of things, they were standing on a large table, facing a group of seven people in differently-coloured robes. All were looking at them with the utmost sense of shock, each with a thin piece of wood in their hands. Well, introductions were in order, weren't they? "Hi!" he said cheerfully.

Chaos erupted. Jets of red light burst from every person's hands around them. Dante quickly assessed the situation as best he could in the milliseconds he had before the spells hit; they were all normal humans (but what was up with all the red light?) and didn't seem to be trying to kill them. But whatever they'd stumbled into must have been important. He could fight back, which would certainly injure or kill them, or he could weather whatever they threw at him, smile, and start talking.

The stuff I go through to help people… he thought as he curled his arms inward defensively. There was no time to summon anything; he'd just have to take the hits and start explaining afterwards. The streams of red light collided with him, and then everything went black.

Nero, meanwhile, had Ascalon in hand. He split his shield up, curling the halves around Lady, Kyrie, and himself the best he could, the red lights bouncing off at strange angles… "Wait, wait! Hold your fire!" he yelled.

The jets of light ceased. He peeked over the top of his shields, seeing the people in robes staring back past their wands (those had to be magic wands). He took a deep breath, trying to calm down before his battle lust took over. "We're not here to fight. Can we talk?"

"Didn't one of you just say you were going to kill us all?" one responded in a Southern English accent.

What, Brits? Where did we get dropped this time? "Bad timing. He was talking about someone else." Nobody moved. "Look, we don't know where we are, and it'd be nice to sit down. Do you mind?"

A man with a flowing white beard peered at him curiously. Slowly, he lowered his wand. "Albus!" one of the others hissed.

The older man smiled. "What sort of enemy would break into our headquarters and then ask to talk? Also…" His eyes, strangely, seemed to twinkle slightly. "I'm curious."


Author's Note: And finally, this story draws to a close. I had LOTS of fun writing it, and I hope you had fun reading it! I've definitely made a few mistakes throughout it, but as always, let me know if you find any and I'll work on them right away.

To the first Guest reviewer, you're absolutely right. But he IS exhausted...or maybe that's just a poor excuse on my part. Still, thanks!

To the second Guest reviewer, it's not weird at all. I ship them now, too. X-D

To SereneCrosstamer, thanks! And you're right; anything that ridiculously hot is usually good for disposing of supervillains, monsters, and the occasional killer robot. ;-)

I'm working on the next story, which this time is a collaboration with another author! So I'm really looking forward to it, and I'll start posting up chapters next year (as per tradition, the first five will be in one solid batch). You can probably guess which one this is a crossover with, so I hope you like it. :-)

Thank you all very, VERY much for all your awesome reviews, comments, and favourites! I'm lucky to have such wonderful fans; you're all incredible, each and every one of you. Have a great Christmas, and see you all next year!

Next Time: Devils of the Order