“This was not the plan!” John shouts, pacing from one side of his office to the other, his hand wrapped over his forehead, settling the headache that quickly consumes him. “Well it’s the only plan we had the chance to execute!” Bill shouts back, both Emilio and Jess remaining silent amidst the ordeal, allowing their respective significant others to argue amongst themselves.
“Charlotte was surrounded by her militia the entire night, this was the best we could do” Bill explains, crossing his arms as he takes a seat atop John’s desk. “You fail to see the point, Bill. We’ve stolen her brother!” John exclaims, holding his hands towards an unconscious Tom, tied in rope and laid across his couch, “there’s no way she doesn’t show up to our front gates raising hell!”
Walking to the window with his hands on his hips, John allows Bill to continue his explanation, trying to calm himself back to a civil tone. “It was either this plan, or it was nothing. I know we don’t have the manpower to fend off another attack, but it was our only option” Bill explains, looking to the compound’s leader, his front bathed in the light of a new dawn, “as long as we’ve got Tom here, there’s hope we can negotiate our way out of this mess.”
Squeezing his eyes shut, John lets out a deep breath and turns back to those he shares the room with, suddenly changing the subject. “What’s the news on the tower collapse?” John inquires, a quick glance around the room showing the changed expression on Emilio’s face. “Uh, the- the tower, it brought down one-fifth of the wall” Emilio replies, the displeasure John takes in that knowledge becoming palpable, “we’ve got fourteen confirmed dead, and we presume there will be more.”
Strolling back to the wooden workspace Bill occupies a corner of, John retakes his seat and crosses one leg over the other. “Surely we’re not done talking about Charlotte’s impending arrival, are we?” Bill wonders aloud, the change in discussion having caught him by surprise. “What’s the point of talking about it anymore? You’ve already said all you needed to” John replies, “we either make a deal to give her brother back and go on with our day, or she kills us all.”
Out of frustration, Bill slams his fist on the desk as he gets up, walking for the door as John calls out. “What the hell is wrong with you now!?” John exclaims, instantly bringing Bill back to the conversation. “You’re a fucking mess!” Bill shouts, both his husband and Jess looking towards him, reacting with surprise, “when the going gets tough, you throw a pity party and tell us all to fuck off! Grow a fucking pair of balls and lead this compound without someone having to tell you!”
“What the hell do you think I’m trying to do!?” John immediately shouts back, the veins in his neck popping with rage, “we put together a plan to keep Charlotte from knocking on our door, and you called an audible that’s gonna result in exactly-fucking-that!” Looking to the floor with his hands by his side, Bill licks the desert-like dryness from his lips, following John’s earlier lead in trying to calm himself down.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s better than if we had just done nothing” Bill explains, staring back at the compound’s leader, “Charlotte was coming to our door one way or another, now we have leverage that we didn’t before.” Sucking on his teeth, John gives Bill a silent nod before looking back towards the window, thinking of how to respond.
“John, I hope you understand that, in saying this, I’m not trying to hurt you, or discourage you, or whatever-” Bill explains, responding to himself on John’s behalf, “but if you keep worrying over every little detail, you’re gonna get everyone here killed.” Leaving the office, Bill discards the calls of his name his husband exclaims, both John and Jess left to themselves.
“I don’t think he-” Jess begins to say, her words brushed off as worthless. “He meant it” John cuts the woman off to say, the dejected look on his face prompting his wife to seat herself on the opposite side of the table. “We’re not in a good spot. Charlotte’s gonna be riding up to our gates any minute now looking for her brother, and we’re severely under-manned” John explains, his eyes scanning one side of the desk to the other, “when I go out there, if I fuck anything up, we’ll all die.”
“You won’t fuck anything up” Jess replies, trying to speak optimism into her husband regardless of whether she truly believes what she states. “You can’t be sure of that. The compound is falling apart, I mean it’s literally falling apart” John explains, a wave of self-reflection coming over him, a haunting visual put across his face.
“I’ve done nothing but fuck up since I started sitting at this desk” John explains, his hand balled into a fist, resting upon his armrest. Opening his mouth to continue, a distant horn begins to blare in the distance, cutting the married couples’ conversation short. “Where is Johnathan Callis?” a familiar, vengeful voice proclaims, calling the compound towards her attention.
“Here we go” John mutters to himself, leaving his desk to enter his wife’s embrace, her arms wrapping tightly around his body, “keep an eye on the brother. I’m not sure how long he’ll be out for.” Her lips pressing to his cheek, John lets the kiss play out before departing, his presence suddenly called for once more. “Wait!” Jess calls out, watching her husband spin back towards her.
“I know you don’t need it, but I’ll give you my advice anyway” Jess explains, stepping back into her husband’s reach. “If Charlotte’s power, or her control, comes from being in charge of the conversation, don’t let her” Jess whispers, her hands caressing both sides of John’s face, “as long as you force her to follow your lead, the pillar she stands atop will get weaker.”
With a smile, John returns his wife’s kiss, this time pressing his lips to Jess’ own before pulling away, his eyes set on the stairs to the ground level. Watching her husband walk off into the still-dark hallway, Jess waits for his figure to disappear, her eyes setting back upon the desk. Rounding the fierce corners, Jess opens a drawer and allows her hand to rummage within, emerging with her fingers wrapped around a once hidden, yet familiar, handheld explosive.
“Where is John Callis!?” Charlotte orders a quickly-gathered crowd to answer, her voice resonating from within a megaphone. “I don’t want to start going around-” Charlotte continues, the sight of John stepping through the accumulated gathering having silenced her. “It’s about damn time you showed up, Cowboy” Charlotte remarks, somewhat humored by the man’s appearance, “when I gave you that nickname, I did not anticipate you turning my compound into the wild west as such.”
Graciously accepting the megaphone Emilio hands to him, John speaks into the receiver, matching Charlotte’s tone. “This compound does not belong to you” John replies, keeping his retort short, and brief. “As far as I’m concerned, you didn’t build these walls” Charlotte replies, laughing at the towerless skyline, “it seems like you sure as hell took ‘em down though!”
Remaining silent, John stares at Charlotte as if to insinuate she explain her presence, a gesture the woman picks up instantly. “Listen, I’ll give you credit. You got the jump on us before we could. Well done” Charlotte explains, her point yet to be made, “but now you have something, or rather, someone that I’d like back.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right” John replies, his strong, confident posture foreign to what Charlotte has been accustomed to. “Okay, well I’ll cut to the chase then” Charlotte replies, bending one knee outwards, digging the toe of her boot into the dirt, “last night, my brother was abducted from an undisclosed bunker a few, short miles away from this compound. He was taken by the people presiding over the lives of every soul in this community.”
Calming himself with a deep, long breath, John allows Charlotte to continue, granting her the position she wishes to stake claim to. “I’m going to give your leader two choices, partially because I don’t care which he chooses, but mainly because I’m tired of getting hit by his goddamn bullets” Charlotte explains, locking eyes with John, “either he’ll return my brother and turn himself in for the actions he’s taken against my authority, or I’ll gun down every man, woman, and child in this camp.”
Turning the crowd against John, Charlotte plays her hand, a smile on her face at the unchanged expression the man wears. “Cowboy, you have until the sun sets to make your decision, and if it’s not made by then, I’ll make it for you” Charlotte explains, one hand stretching out to the side, “have I made myself clear?”
His arms hung at his sides, John continues to stare at Charlotte, unmoved for a few moments before his hand lifts the megaphone back towards his lips. “No” John replies, his answer simple, and brief, his feet remaining firm in the ground he’s stood at since the confrontation began. “What did you say?” Charlotte replies calmly, her face souring at the man’s disobedience, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you understand what’s-”
“My answer is ‘no’” John replies, cutting the woman off to an unimpressed response, Charlotte’s face tensing with anger as John finally steps towards her. “Charlotte, you have mistaken yourself. I don’t think you understand what this is” John remarks, his words carried with a calm, effortless stride, “as of this moment, my wife has a knife to your brother’s throat. Your only chance of getting him back is through me. So let me make myself clear, you are not in control.”
Stunned silent, Charlotte’s lip hangs open just slightly, a chill running down her spine as the conversation turns towards a path she prefers to stray from. “You will not-” Charlotte begins to jab back, uncertain of what to say, and soon relieved of such responsibility. Snatching the megaphone from Charlotte’s hand, John hurls the device across the camp and stares the woman in the eyes, her shocked expression revealing the truth behind Jess’ advice.
“You will speak when I give you permission to speak” John explains, lifting his hand to Charlotte’s chin, closing the woman’s mouth for her, “until then, you will keep your mouth shut.” Unable to hold back their amusement, Bill and Emilio part from the sea of civilians, soon joined by Janice and Meghan, who follow the married couples’ lead. Backed by his closest allies, John makes his own point clear, Charlotte still powerless to stop him.
“If you make any wrong move towards me, or my family, or my friends, or my compound- your brother will die” John explains, “you fail to follow the instructions I’m going to give you- your brother will die.” Throwing his hand to the air, Bill motions for his militia to approach from their posts, a small fleet of armed militants soon gathering behind John, illustrating the shift in control John’s put into effect.
“You’re going to call a plane out, and in it will be half of every crop you have” John explains, the woman looking away with a snicker. “How am I supposed to get a plane to land here!?” Charlotte shouts, her voice rendered weak by comparison, “every goddamn building in this camp is built on the fucking tarmac!”
“You’re going to make it work. I don’t care how, you’re just going to make it work” John replies, “when that plane is close enough, I’ll give you Tom and the two of you will leave. If you ever show your faces again, the two of you will die.” Hanging her head, Charlotte fights to contain every ounce of hatred she has over this conversation, the way John talks down to her bringing her blood to a boil.
“Now, as I said before, you will speak when I give you permission” John reiterates, Charlotte’s eyes lifting back towards the man, “with that said, have I made myself clear?” Calmly rotating the receiver towards Charlotte’s lips, John keeps his eyes locked onto Charlotte’s own, his face void of emotion as he waits for the woman’s answer. “Yes” Charlotte says after an excruciating silence, finally putting a smile on John’s face.
“That’s fucking bullshit!” a man roars from the crowd, displeased with the events that have transpired. “You shouldn’t be in charge!” a lady screams at John, the disruptions only breeding further frustration over the community, two sides forming to scream at the other. “Everyone! Hey, everybody, quiet down!” John shouts towards his community, their cooperation proving non-existent as the screaming matches persist without relent.
“Would you look at that?” Charlotte remarks, drawing John’s attention back in her direction, the confident smile she frequently wears having returned once more, “you’re definitely in control.” His face now sprouting the snickered expression Charlotte had recently worn, John walks away without another word, returning home to leave Charlotte to her obligations.
= Rise: Remastered is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 Media from the start of Season 1 onwards =
“Reggie” Jack whispers, his skin darkened with smoke from having stayed beside his friend through the night. “Reggie, it’s been nine hours” Jack mutters, again answered with utter silence, “I think you should get back in case-”
“In case what? In case she turns?” Reggie quickly snaps back, disguising the pain in his face with a veil of anger, “why should I do that? Why should I get to live, and she should have to die?” No response good enough to answer Reggie with properly, Jack stays quiet, resting his hands on his knees as he looks to the dirt. Consumed by a building anger, Reggie pushes himself up and reaches for his gun, aiming between Jack’s eyes in a sudden burst of frustration.
“Jesus f-!” Jack shouts, his hands thrown into the air as he joins Reggie in standing, unsure how to react. “Why do I get to live, Jack!?” Reggie asks through gritted teeth, tip-toeing the line between grief and a mental breakdown, “she warned us! She warned me! We stayed here when she was right!”
“Reggie, put the fucking gun down” Jack angrily replies, his eyes veering away from the man across from him at all costs, Jack’s intentions set on giving Reggie little reason to cross unspoken lines. “Or what? You’re gonna save me from pulling the trigger!?” Reggie says through uncontrollable laughter, “you’re gonna try to s-?”
Before he can finish his thought, Reggie’s paranoid delivery is interrupted by a faint groan, both he and the man his gun is aimed towards pausing to look towards Shauna. Her eyes a sharp white, Shauna’s arms reach towards her boyfriend, her speech replaced with hiss-infused groans. “Fuck” Jack whispers beneath his breath, his friend’s murderous rage replaced with an instant wave of grief, one that brings him to his knees.
“Reggie, I-” Jack begins to speak, stopping himself amidst a loss for words, a silence coming over the pair until Reggie stands back to his feet. “I don’t know what to say” Jack mutters, watching his friend wipe tears from his face, a broken smile appearing on his mouth. “Me neither” Reggie replies with a whimper, his gun lingering by his side.
Continuing to stare at Shauna’s reanimated corpse, Reggie remains silent, not another word leaving his mouth. “Reggie?” Jack calls, slowly stepping closer to his friend, his hand extended towards Reggie’s side, “let me do-” Cutting Jack off, Reggie lifts his gun towards Shauna’s head and pulls the trigger, staining the debris with blood before Jack’s kind gesture can even be offered.
Caught by surprise, Jack tries to gather his thoughts, the words remaining elusive enough evade Jack again. “I don’t-” Jack struggles to begin, falling silent when Reggie lifts the gun from his side once more, this time taking aim at his own head, rendering words obsolete. Lunging forward on instinct, Jack pushes the gun away from Reggie’s head just as the trigger is pulled, sending a round into the blank distance.
Wrestling on the ground, Jack disarms Reggie once more, biting his friend’s fingers until the gun falls from his grip, safely tucked into Jack’s own. “What the fuck is wrong with-!?” Jack begins to shout, looking back at Reggie one second too late, the split-moment glance he takes at the man spent watching a rebar pipe catch him between the eyes. Cursing beneath his breath, Jack rolls on the ground in pain whilst Reggie escapes, climbing over the debris and leaving through the fractured wall.
“Reggie, get back here!” Jack shouts, finally regaining his composure well enough to follow his friend’s path through the rubble. Returning to the ground beyond the New World Order’s boarders, Jack looks around for the man’s frame, his attention eventually taken by the revving motor of a nearby parked truck. “Reggie!” Jack shouts, firing his gun into the air to stop his friend to no avail.
Slamming the door shut behind himself, Reggie puts his foot to the floor and speeds through the thick grass, kicking dirt up on his way to the nearest road. Taking a second shot, Jack fires a bullet through the rear-view window to equal use, the broken glass doing nothing to stop Reggie from his impulsive escape. All other options having run dry, Jack tosses Reggie’s gun into the grass and takes off after the man on foot, refusing to let the man he’d sworn to look after vanish into the sunrise.
“If it’ll take two hours to stock the plane, I give it eight hours tops before that plane touches down here” Bill explains, capping a marker amidst the conclusion of his whiteboard calculations, “that gives us, roughly, until sunset to work out a plan.”
Watching Bill from behind his desk, John leans against his folded arm, his finger pressing into his cheek. “What plan?” John replies, his wife, his daughter, his sister in law, Emilio, Lauren, Alicia, Franklin, Cameron, Salem, Troy, Katie, Janice, and Tyler immediately looking to him.
“What do you mean?” Bill replies, resting the marker back upon the tray he’d taken it from, his back leant against the wall. “You said we have until sunset to work out a plan” John replies, his free hand thrown to his side, his shoulders lifting into a shrug, “what plan are you talking about?”
“The plan of how to deal with Charlotte” Bill replies, his words resonating slowly, left to flutter in the air as if John had no prior recollection of it, “the one you wanted to kidnap Charlotte for?” Uncrossing his legs, John takes his hand from the armrest and locks it with his opposite, his elbow pressing into the leather-bound cushion beside him. “We don’t need that anymore” John replies, his head resting upon the back of his chair, “we’re giving her Tom, and she’s leaving us alone.”
His once hopeful face dropping into a worried glare, Bill joins those witnessing the meeting in a surprised reaction. “You’re not serious, right?” Emilio replies, pulling away from the couch he once sunk comfortably into. “Did you not hear the agreement?” John wonders aloud, playing dumb despite carrying the posture of a man confidently betraying prior ideals, “we give her the brother, she gives us the compound. That’s the only ‘get rid of Charlotte’ plan we need.”
Rolling his eyes, Emilio falls back into the couch, his face turning towards the sky as Jess attempts to argue an opposing view to that of her husband’s own. “John, there’s no way, none whatsoever, that Charlotte is going to give this place up. Kidnapped brother or not” Jess replies, slouching forward with her eyes kept sternly upon her husband, “she took a bullet, multiple times for this place. You betrayed her trust, and she still spent the last year planning a counter attack.”
“Jess, don’t even worry about her morals” Bill interrupts, his words directed at the man he’s called to follow the instruction of, “Charlotte is a bona-fide sociopath. She’s not the kind of person you trust to take at her word.” Looking to his coupled hands, John listens to the rest of the room, nearly all of whom argue against his plan, doing so freely with little argument from John.
“Even the risk itself is a danger” Alicia explains, her voice coming across with more composure than the rest, “there’s a chance, one way or another, she’ll go back on her word. If she does, we won’t be able to fight her off.” Glancing up at Alicia amidst the woman’s retort in a way he’d yet to do with the rest of his opposition, John cuts an additional argument from Cameron short, his eyes setting in on brunette across the room.
“Are you on drugs right now?” John questions with a smile, the dilated pupils Alicia carries now putting her state of mind into question. “No, I’m hung over. Why?” Alicia replies, her calm tone twisting into one more representative of her unamused expression. “No, he’s hung over” John replies, pointing to Franklin, the oversized sunglasses not only standing out, but giving his lack of sobriety away.
“Correct, he is equally hung over as I am” Alicia replies, crossing one leg over the other, “I’ve done enough in life to warrant holding my liquor well.” His eyes squinting, John slowly nods to himself, mirroring Alicia’s reactions by kicking his crossing his own leg again. “Sober or not, I’ve made a fair point” Alicia explains, her thin jacket falling from her shoulders as her arms cross, “I don’t think going overboard with liquor should invalidate that.”
“You’re right, you have made a fair point. And in addition, your lack of sobriety should not invalidate it” John replies, leaving his chair to seat himself atop his desk, arms folded in his lap, “and yet, being high does.” Letting out a sigh, Alicia digs into her jacket pocket and hurls an orange bottle into John’s awaiting hands, explaining herself as he pours its contents into the palm of his hand.
“A woman gave them to me back in Concord last year” Alicia explains, Franklin’s eyes squinting behind his glasses, “it’s a poor duplicate of fentanyl. Not worth the cutter they used to split the tabs.” Using his index finger to count the pills, John’s face begins to sport a surprised look. “A thirty pill capacity bottle with thirty pills inside” John replies, his original assumption now disproven, “okay, I take my accusation back. Your point is no longer invalidated.”
Screwing the cap back atop the bottle, John returns the pills to their original owner before retaking his seat behind the desk. “Why do you have them?” Salem asks the woman beside her, a disappointed look taking over Alicia’s face. “Some woman gave them to me while I was out on a walk” Alicia replies, letting out another sigh, “she saw my leg was giving me pain, and probably tried to use it as an excuse to get me hooked.”
“How did you know it was a rip off?” Franklin replies, finally turning to look his girlfriend in the eyes, though remaining hidden behind the monolithic shades. “I used to be an addict, Frank” Alicia replies with a smirk, her hair shaking with her head, “I know what the good shit is supposed to look like.”
“Neither of those questions are the right ones” John suddenly interjects, his hands folded in his lap once more, eyes placed upon the outspoken brunette. “How, Ms. Alicia Haven, do we go about discarding of Charlotte without another ounce of bloodshed?” John wonders aloud, locking eyes with the woman in preparation for her answer. “We don’t” Alicia replies, quickly solidifying her stance to John’s appreciation, “there’s no getting rid of the problem without escalation.”
Uncoupling his hands to point his finger towards Alicia, John recites her conclusion. “There is no getting rid of the problem without escalation” John replies, clapping his hands together four times, “and that, that right there, is the reason we have to play with the cards we’ve been dealt.”
“Bullshit!” Bill shouts from across the room, clearly irritated by John’s contradictory positions. “At first you want to kidnap Charlotte, wipe her crew out, and put her down. Or ‘nullify the situation’ if you want the civil way of looking at it” Bill explains, irate in his response, “and now, you’re suddenly fine with trusting her to walk out that door, take our only piece of leverage, and never come back.”
“Yes, I am” John replies with little argument, leaving Bill to throw his hands into the air, rendered speechless. “I’m not going to risk everyone in this camp falling victim to crossfire” John replies, his voice finally suggesting his dislike for the situation. “Why do you care?” Troy retorts, his arms crossed and his demeanor calm, legitimately curious to the answer, “half of the people here hate you, and the other half only care to tolerate you because there’s food involved.”
“I served in Afghanistan, Troy. I’m not designed to care whether or not people like me, or the decisions that I’m forced to make” John replies, lowering his voice to respond to Troy’s concerns, “they haven’t started killing each other in a fit of rage yet. As long as that stays the case, they’re still salvageable.”
Letting silence fill the air, John leaves the floor open to counter arguments, no secondary voice rising to speak. “Have the arguments run their course?” John finally speaks up, starting the clock on alternative strategies, “if so, let’s start getting people into position.”
“What if we got the jump on the soldiers first?” Salem replies, “sneak up from behind them, take out the militia, leave Charlotte for last.” His head shaking and his arms crossing, John refuses the plan. “We don’t know how she’s got people laid out. She could have snipers in hiding, she could have backups stationed elsewhere. There are too many variables” John replies, unable to say another word before Janice cuts in.
“We’ve been going on hunts for their compounds for the last couple of months” Janice explains, her hands tucked into her pockets, “if she’s got backups, that’s where they’ll be hidden.” Refusing the idea once more, John shakes his head. “No one’s to leave this compound for any reason” John replies, against the woman’s plan enough to physically wave it off, “we need that plane to get here. If she grabs any of you, that plane is off the table, and the trade becomes ‘person for person’.”
“What if we demanded she just call off the rest of her soldiers” Tyler proposes, again finding little traction with John. “She’d know there’d be a better chance of her getting Tom back with gunfire than reason at that point” John replies, shaking his head again, “with these conditions, she at least has the soldiers as a security blanket. She’s playing nice for the moment, if we push her out of her comfort zone, she’ll resort to taking him by force.”
Falling silent again, the room comes under John’s control again, his prior offer expiring quickly. “Once we adjourn, that’s it. No going back” John explains, standing from his chair to look towards everyone he shares the room with, “this is the last call for counter arguments.” Glancing between each other, John’s group remains quiet, the decision having been made.
“Alright” John replies, sliding his chair back into his desk as he makes his way for the exit, “meeting adjourned.”
The breath having been taken from his lungs, Jack’s run has come to steady as a speed walk, still following the flattened grass that’s broken through the unattended, heavily cracked asphalt. The sunset turning the beads of sweat running down his face orange, Jack follows the tire-pressed backroads like a man possessed, refusing to ease on his run until a sound begins to emanate from within the bushes, shuffling through fallen leaves and overgrown branches.
Fighting to catch his breath, Jack stares at the treeline intensely, unsheathing a knife from the pouch on his hip. “Who’s the pervert watching me, huh? Show yourself!” Jack declares, readying himself for a fight, the blade in his hand made visible for all to see. “Oh, come on shy-guy!” Jack exclaims with a laugh, the blistering tension he builds up only assisting in the rise of his aggression, “don’t just enjoy the show, put yourself in-”
His call for company fading into silence, Jack watches six men linger from within their hiding, cloaked with jackets covered in undead gore, all wielding their own blades. “Well, this is a surprise” Jack whispers to himself, slowly taking steps backwards, the hybrid, living dead that approach him beginning to sprawl out, trying to surround the retreating survivor.
“What’s the point of this?” Jack asks calmly, tossing his knapsack to the ground, “if you want my shit, there it is.” Without an answer, the hybrids continue to approach Jack, matching the pace of his steady retreat. “Put your hands up and come with us willingly” one of the cloaked survivors orders, his knife held by his hip. “Why would I do that?” Jack replies, continuing to back away from his pursuers.
“Because we don’t need to hurt you” the first man replies, his placid voice finding a way to be more intimidating than if he were to yell. Glancing behind himself, Jack’s eyes widened at the distant sight of a gray truck parked on the side of the road, the coastline resting just ahead of it. “Don’t make us hurt you” the stalker calls out, watching Jack’s face turn back towards him, “none of us need that.”
With a scowl, Jack begins to slow his retreat, putting both hands into the air with a friendly smile. “Alright” Jack remarks, finally coming to a stop, “come and get me.” Throwing his hand forward, Jack hurls his blade into the first man’s throat, its dagger hitting the hybrid with enough force to throw him to the ground. His move made, Jack takes off running, his second wind hitting him just as the living dead begin to give him chase.
Feeling the air whip past his face with every step, Jack scurries towards the car, shattering the glass window by leaping into the vehicle’s side, unable to slow himself naturally. Bouncing with enough force to take himself to the ground, Jack climbs to his feet and dives behind the steering wheel. “Stop!” the hybrids exclaim as Jack turns the key in the ignition, revving the engine loudly before slamming his foot to the gas, turning the vehicle back towards his chasers.
The door too malformed to shut properly, Jack grabs onto it’s handle and holds it outwards, using the metal frame as a battering ram. Mowing down the first two hybrids, Jack veers past the third and outright misses the remaining two. Stomping on the brakes, Jack skids the back tires across the ground and takes aim at the hybrids that remain, preparing himself for round two.
Mowing down the first two once more, Jack steadies his path towards the final hunter, who remains standing in the way, daring Jack to hit him. The engine roaring, Jack speeds towards the final survivor, who huddles close to the ground in preparation for launch, using Jack’s intent to kill as a tool for himself. Pressing the pedal to the floor, Jack watches the cloaked figure spring to his feet and dash towards the vehicle, welcoming the contact.
Leaping from the ground, the hybrid launches himself towards the truck and hurdles into a ball, turning himself into a projectile. No room left for error, the hybrid voluntarily slams through the windshield, destroying the truck’s interior and hitting Jack with his foot mid-dive. Unable to control the truck, Jack falls into the steering wheel, leading the truck into an open field it inevitably finds rest in.
His nose gushing blood, Jack presses his hands to his face as he falls from the vehicle, crashing into the dirt. Wincing in pain, Jack struggles to his knees, beginning to crawl back to where he’d found the truck. “Reggie!” Jack exclaims, the truck’s running motor growing distant the closer he staggers towards the coast. “Reggie!” Jack shouts once more, paying no mind to the vehicle he leaves in the distance.
“Re-!” Jack pauses, finally reaching the docks to find it stained with blood, a long, red trail leading over the wooden planks and into the water. “Reggie!” Jack shouts towards the waves, his hands coupling over his mouth. “Reggie!” Jack shouts once more, quietly waiting for an answer until the approaching sounds of footsteps hurriedly inches nearer.
“Reggie?” Jack turns back to exclaim, the hope that had come over him depleting instantly. The lone hybrid’s body weight crashing into his chest, Jack’s feet are swept from solid ground as he vanishes beneath the waves of the Newark Bay, floating freely within the unstable current. Fighting the waves in return to the surface, Jack peers his head through the water as he paddles towards the docks, a light tug at his leg keeping him from swimming to safety.
Reaching through the waves, Jack wraps his hands around the survivor’s head, air bubbles emerging from beneath the depths as the hybrid is refused the chance to resurface. “Give up you freaky bastard!” Jack shouts, paddling his way to the wooden platform until his back presses comfortably against its supports, guaranteeing him an escape.
“Give the fuck up!” Jack screams, slamming the man’s skull into the wooden pillar he rests against, sentencing his assailant to a watery death. Laying in repeated punches, Jack continues to submerge the man beneath the waves, the struggle he senses beneath him dissipating as fast as the air bubbles cease. Quickly pulling himself out of the water, Jack lays against the sun-kissed dock gasping for air, the pain in his ribs returning as his adrenaline drops.
Glancing to the waves, Jack stares at the muck-covered coat reemerge, the body its worn atop lifelessly floating out to sea, following the waves towards its watery grave.
A crowd regathering at the front of the compound, all eyes, foreign and domestic, wait for the arrival of John and his allies. “Mrs Walters, it’s sundown” a soldier remarks, his voice a low, unremarkable tone. “I have eyes, soldier” Charlotte replies, peering at the guard from over her shoulder. “Yes, my apologies, ma’am” the unimportant strongman replies, only further irritating the woman before him.
“Ma’am?” Charlotte replies, her lip curled and her voice carrying a disgusted inflection. “Again, my apolog-” the soldier replies, hanging his head until a bullet rips through it, Charlotte’s trigger finger suddenly taken towards her own defense. “My name is Charlotte. Use it” Charlotte orders her fleet, the revolver in her hand falling to her side, “I don’t care how many of you I need to put down to prove a point, so don’t give me a reason to start keeping count.”
“Yes, Charlotte” the soldiers reply in unison, clearing the air just as John arrives, squeezing through the gathered crowd empty handed. “Where’s my brother?” Charlotte calls out, her weapon resting by her side. “Where’s my plane?” John answers with a question of his own, his hand resting on the grip of his holstered weapon. Unamused, Charlotte takes herself out of the conversation by retrieving her radio, a simple call through the receiver setting the night in motion.
“How far out are you?” Charlotte calls into the handheld, returning her firearm to its home upon her hip. “I’m just over New York City, coming in for landing within the next ten” the pilot replies, calm as the day is long, “you’ve got a secondary landing point lit, correct?”
“Yes, we’ve hooked a string of lights to the compound’s electrical grid” Charlotte replies, staring across the grounds and towards John, “you’ll land north of the compound facing east.” Lowering the radio from her mouth, Charlotte waits for the pilot's response as eagerly as John does. “Copy that” the pilot replies, the final loose thread of the evening now tightened into place.
“For insurance purposes” John exclaims, holding his hand out to take the radio from his once superior. “Show me my brother, then I’ll give you the radio” Charlotte replies, grasping hold of the communicator tightly. Giving himself a nod, John looks back through the crowd, his hand stretched into the air, calling for his militia’s support. “Let me out of these fucking handcuffs!” Tom shouts, trying to fight the aggressive handling that Bill and Emilio lead him with.
“There’s the piece of crap, now throw me the radio” John replies swiftly, his hand reaching out again. Equally as cautious as John, Charlotte considers her options for a moment, recognizing the lack of control she has over the situation. “No, we’ll trade at the same time” Charlotte decides, refusing to relent any more than she already has, “I trust you just as much as you trust me. You get the radio when I get my brother.”
Their calm demeanors used to hide their hidden feelings of worry, Charlotte and John continue the standoff in an eerie silence, the tension that grows within each pause driving the compound mad. “Before you try anything, let me make one thing clear” John replies, taking his final opportunity to clear misconceptions, “if you come back, I will kill you. If you try anything right now, I have my fair share of snipers to act instantly. And if you don’t agree to those terms, this ends horribly.”
Her nostrils flaring, Charlotte bobs her head once, silently giving the man her word. “Whenever you’re ready, John” Emilio remarks, his hand resting upon his own holstered weapon. Letting out a quiet sigh, John takes three steps forward, one hand wrapped around the back of Tom’s collar, the other grasping onto the handcuffs behind Tom’s back, his fingers wrapping around the chain between the two metal restraints.
Holding the bottom of the radio, Charlotte matches John’s steps, extending the device for John to take. “I wish you could have cooperated like this before we got here, Cowboy” Charlotte mutters just loud enough for John to hear, “this camp would have fared much better.” Shaking his head, John keeps his eyes intently upon the woman ahead.
“The compound would have, but the people are a different story” John replies, earning a well-hidden, barely-noticed laugh from the compound’s creator. “That’s where you’re wrong. People are all kinds of different stories” Charlotte replies, biting into her dry bottom lip, “that’s what makes them so dangerous.”
“It works both ways, Charlotte. Their stories may make them dangerous, but it’s about how you handle them that speaks to who you are” John replies, crunching dirt beneath the weight of his boot, “we could cooperate with each other on plenty, that I’m sure of... But how do we handle them? Well, we can’t see eye-to-eye there.”
“No, of course not” Charlotte replies, a genuine, yet disheartened smile appearing upon the woman’s face, “but which one of us was right?” Stopping in his tracks, John takes his eyes towards the woman ahead, watching her match his stop. “What are you doing?” Charlotte wonders aloud, looking at John with great curiosity, the expression he holds inspiring neither fear, nor confidence.
“It’s not about which one of us is right, it never has been” John replies, Charlotte’s smile fading to a concealed grin, “I chose the people, you chose paradise.” Her hands wrapping around her hips, Charlotte indulges John’s conversation, staring him in the face with every counterpoint. “That’s my point, you fucking idiot!” Charlotte shouts, the veins popping out of her neck as her hand punches the air, “the goal wasn’t to choose between them, it was to make them no different from each other!”
Holding himself back, John lets Charlotte vent in frustration, partially out of a wish not to escalate matters, but largely due to finding truth within her aggressive shouts. “People are fragile. People are as instinctive as the dead, they’re just more complex about it” Charlotte explains, her finger raised towards the gathered crowd, “these people gathered to watch this out of curiosity just as quickly as the dead would gather to chase after a decent-sized meal.”
Huddled together, the compound’s residents look to each other for a response, their immediate reaction only proving Charlotte’s point. “I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again. You don’t have to like how I lead my people, but you can’t deny that it works” Charlotte explains, her hands reaching out to basque in her proof, “and now, you can’t even say you’re able to do better.”
“Yes, I can” John replies, his calm voice burying the deep passion within his response. “Yes, you brought the old world into the new one, and you got people to play along. And yeah, your approach worked a hell of a lot better than mine” John explains, his acceptance surprising Charlotte. “It’ll take time, probably an amount of time I can only hope to have, but the day will come” John explains, a tear lingering on his eyelid, “this compound, and these people, are salvageable.”
Her eyes drifting towards the heavens as a long, extended breath leaves her lungs, Charlotte shakes her head in refusal, again breaking a smile. “You can’t salvage something unless it’s already broken, John” Charlotte replies in a whisper, her disappointment immeasurable, “and when something’s broken, you’re left with two choices. Replace it, or throw it away.”
“No, you’re wrong. There’s a third choice” John replies, vehemently stood by his mark, “there’s always a third choice.” Stomping her foot to the ground, Charlotte steps forward, breaking out into a yell as her finger swings downward. “There is no third choice, John! It’’s not life, death, or you. It’s one, or it’s the fucking other!” Charlotte barks, spit flying from her mouth with every other word, “you took people and you turned them into broken toys!”
Her eye twitching, Charlotte’s frustration only continues to boil, every word acting like a hook, it’s jagged edge digging further into his flesh on its way to his heart. “I created paradise, I filled it with the best toys money can buy and you fucking ruined it!” Charlotte screams, her voice growing deeper until suddenly falling back to a whisper, “then you- you took over. You took paradise, my paradise, and you filled it with broken toys.”
Seething, Charlotte’s whisper continues, those gathered at every turn only watching with paranoid minds. “You didn’t use my perfect toys to fix your broken ones, you just broke them all” Charlotte’s whisper falling to a growl, a pause chilling the air as her conclusion is reached, “SO STOP BREAKING ALL MY FUCKING TOYS!”
His stomach turning, John remains frozen behind Tom, his eyes finally falling from Charlotte’s, following the rest of his face in its fall towards the loose dirt. “They’re salvageable, John” Bill remarks from afar, offering the only support he can to ensure the trade goes off without a hitch. Looking to the husbands across from him, John flashes his armed support an approving nod, remaining silent as he resumes his walk.
“Don’t do the deal!” a woman shouts from the crowd, Charlotte’s resuming steps depleting the quiet hope she’d held for the woman to save the compound she calls home. “If you leave us, we’ll never make it!” the woman pleads, pulling her young daughter from the crowd and into her arms. “Then do something about it” Charlotte replies, not intending to lose sleep over the fate of those within these unstable walls, “a house isn’t industru-”
“I recognize you!” a middle aged gentleman, shouts through a grey beard, pushing his way through the bunched-together citizens, “you stole my fucking apples!” Rolling her eyes, the mother brushes the man’s confrontation aside. “What’re you gonna do about it?” the woman replies, guiding the young girl behind her, “you gonna hit a woman?”
“Nah, I’m gonna shoot a bitch!” the man immediately shouts, pulling a gun from behind his back, firing two rounds into the woman’s chest, and a third into her face. Without another word, the man stands over the woman’s body for less than a second, his moment to marvel at his work taken as the compound’s militia put four rounds into his back, killing him instantly.
“Everyone stop!” Emilio orders through the megaphone, unable to calm the hysteria-ridden crowd, “this is not how we do things!” His eyes widened at the young girl sobbing over two dead bodies, John’s surroundings disappear, the screams, cries and words spoken all around him muffled into dense, unintelligible sounds.
“John!?” Bill repeatedly calls out, still standing beside his militia, unsure how to react to the situation at hand. “John, what’s your call?” Bill questions, the compound still enraptured in fearful screams. “John, snap the fuck out of it!” Bill shouts, John’s grasp on Tom’s restraints only tightening, his ears slowly fixating on the specifics, his name growing more clear each second.
“John, make a fucking decision!” Bill shouts, finally breaking through the distraught leader. Gazing towards Bill, John’s widened eyes remain worn, the tear finally leaving his eye, the expression alone enough for Bill to realize what John’s intention has turned to. “John, don’t” Bill orders in a stern voice, walking towards the man with his hand extended.
Unholstering his weapon, John shakes his head towards Bill, embracing the chaos around him as the final nail in his leadership’s coffin. Putting the barrel of the weapon to the base of Tom’s skull, John remarks in defeat, “they’re not salvageable.” Without second thought, John pulls the trigger, firing a bullet through the top of Tom’s skull, spraying his brains into the air without concern.
“NO!” Charlotte roars, her finger inching towards the trigger of her firearm as it raises towards John, taking aim between his eyes. Pulling the pin, Jess launches her grenade through the air, watching its shell vanish into the crowd of bodies lined behind Charlotte. Their faces dragging through the dirt, John and Emilio watch a fireball emerge from behind Charlotte’s back, her men roasting alive whilst others bleed out from their wounds.
Unable to open fire, Charlotte loses control of her gun, its grip falling from her hands as the explosion throws her forward, dragging her across the ground to a slow, sudden stop. His eyes widening again, John braces against the heat as he reaches for his gun, watching Charlotte intently as he barks orders to Bill. “Get everyone into trucks and wait at the front!” John shouts, pushing Emilio’s arms away as he takes off after Charlotte.
Dusting herself off, Charlotte scrambles for her gun and turns towards John a mere second too late, his larger frame wrapping around her arms, tackling her back to the ground. Trying to squirm, Charlotte’s attempts to escape fall flat, her arms finding themselves pinned beneath John’s knees, looking the man in the eyes without any chance of defence.
Putting his barrel to the bridge of Charlotte’s nose, John returns the woman’s eye contact as his finger inches over the trigger. “Go ahead, Cowboy” Charlotte orders with a whisper, hiding the true fear her impending fate leaves within her, “I’m not gonna stop you.” Closing her eyes, Charlotte waits for John’s move, huffing in a deep breath as she makes peace with her demise.
Caught by surprise, John just stares into the woman’s peaceful face, the fire’s orange glow reflecting off her soft skin. “What are you waiting for?” Charlotte whispers peacefully, the tear she’d tried to hold back forcing its way down her cheek, “do it.” His breaths calming, John’s grip on the weapon begins to lessen, watching Charlotte’s eyes slowly reopen.
His head shaking, John pulls the weapon from Charlotte’s face, letting it fall to his side to the woman’s surprise. “No” John replies, reaching into his pockets for a pair of handcuffs, “not this time.” Pushing Charlotte onto her stomach, John restrains the woman’s hands and pulls her from the ground. “What are you doing?” Charlotte asks, following the lead John takes her through.
“Honestly?” John struggles to reply, looking the woman in the eyes, “I don’t know yet.”
“Where’s Jack and Reggie?” Tyler calls out, climbing into the back of an old-school pickup truck. “I haven’t seen them since this morning” Janice replies, joining Salem and Katie in hurling her rifle into the backseat. “And John?” Jess replies, joining the rifles in the backseat, her daughter held tightly within her arms. “He told us to get everyone together” Bill replies, climbing into the front seat as two figures emerge from the flurry of gunshots hidden within the smoke and debris.
“What the fuck is he doing?” Emilio whispers to himself, watching John lead an uncooperative Charlotte towards the truck, dumping her in the bed. “Why is she here?” Janice calls out in great anger, her question left unanswered. “John, answer the fucking question!” Janice exclaims, pulling John towards her. “Sit the fuck down, Janice!” John screams, his face red with anger.
Attempting to speak, John’s ears latch onto a distant buzzing above, helping to drown out the war between sides within the New World Order’s walls. “No one touches her” John directs, hopping off the truck bed and returning to the compound's walls, refusing to acknowledge the countless questions his friends throw at him.
“Get the fuck off me!” citizens scream, running for cover whilst others launch attacks, consumed by blood lust their conditions have finally become suited for. Retrieving his gun, John fires at armed citizens taking their shot at him, the shards of glass and numerous shanks no match for the slug to the face John’s trigger finger delivers. Leaving countless bodies in his wake, John reaches the maintenance shed and vanishes within, now operating on pure instinct.
Letting the sound of gunfire cement itself within the back of his mind, John peels open the circuit breaker and flips the central switch, killing power to the compound and the makeshift landing spot just beyond the borders. Powering every switch off, John returns the central switch to its natural state, keeping the compound in dark isolation. “Charlotte, where the hell’s that landing strip?” the pilot calls through the radio, earning John’s attention.
Raising the receiver to his lips, John rests his finger upon a single switch, staring at it with an emotional overload. “Charlotte, we need that landing strip now!” the pilot exclaims, still earning no response. Glancing at the door he entered through, John watches civilians butcher each other in the street, not a care in the world for anyone other than themselves. “Yeah” John finally replies in a frail pain, his finger guiding the switch to its place, “you’re all good.”
Letting the radio fall to the ground, John walks calmly through the shed door, entering a dark compound engulfed in sparse flames. Hearing the plane near its descent, John looks back towards his community, a final glance at what he’d let fall through his hands. Walking through the gates without remorse, John returns to the truck with no emotion, hopping into the truck bed and patting the cab’s roof.
“Let’s move” John orders, giving Bill the greenlight to put his foot to the pedal, taking the truck away from their home. “What did you do?” Charlotte worriedly asks, keeping her eyes to the compound. With a sigh, John begins to lean against the cabin, his eyes returning to the walls as well, “I gave the pilots a new route.”
The New World Order forced into darkness, only a long, ever-stretching line of runway lights illuminate the streets, turning the compound and everything built atop it into just another tarmac. Coming over the treeline, the pilots lower their landing gear at the worst possible time, their front wheels left to slam through the lip of the multi-story, concrete wall, fatally wounding the multi-ton aircraft.
“There it goes” John whispers amidst his silent company, all watching in horror as the plane disappears beneath the wall. Leveling buildings and shacks, splattering people into lines of bloody waste, painting the remnants of life a horrifying red, the plane bursts into a ball of flames and devastates all that surrounds it, leaving little more than a mushroom cloud for those in the distance to see.
== Rise: Remastered ==