“Tony, come in!” Eddie shouts on the other end of his radio, the van he’s in kicking up dirt the further he goes without response from the man supposedly on the other end. “Tony, we’ve almost reached the destination. We’re unable to open fire without your signal!” Eddie continues, hoping the familiar voice on the other end of the radio will come through with a response.
Riding over the undead lining the roads, Eddie watches on in the back of a long line of convoy vehicles, going about their business as they would any other day. “Let me tell you a little secret, Tony” John states, holding onto the radio just in case Tony tries to do anything stupid, watching his hands tied behind the back of the chair he’s been forced to take a seat in.
“Your men believe they will return from their mission the way they have multiple times, but their blood does not need to be shed in order for us to be even” the man says, leaning against the jurors walls in the confines of their clandestine courtroom. “What they find themselves on is a roadway leading to not only a dead end, but a dead end that will blow them into the next few years if you do not order them to stop and return to camp.”
Looking at John with hatred in his eyes, knowing that the result of the actions he could possibly be untied into would create havoc amongst the community he holds within his grasp. “Now, we’re already aware that each of us hold the power to rip the other a brand new asshole, but the question is exactly what artillery remains behind those warheads. I’ll tell you this much, Tony…” John says, leaning in and holding the radio out. “... We’ve got more than enough to, cover our tracks, if you know what I mean.”
“Bullshit” the man too stubborn to listen to what’s good for him replies, being met with a disappointed stare from John. “You’re in here, holding me hostage, trying to take command from within because you don’t have the firepower to do it from the outside!” Tony replies, immediately being shut down by John, who dashes to his feet and moves within inches of Tony’s face. “That’s where you’re wrong, Tony… We chose not to start the fight from outside because we have the firepower to do so. Unlike you, we care about the people inside these walls, even if they don’t yet realize just what their governing body thinks of them.”
Staring the man in the eyes, taking control of the conversation before reminding Tony what breaking into this place entails knowing, John informs him of what is in store. “I’ve fought in countries that carry regime’s like these, and I’ll inform you of one thing, the people always put two and two together eventually. That, and watching it all unfold, is ten thousand times more satisfying than ending it with one mediocre bullet. So ask yourself this right now, if you’ve think we’ve made it this far without a mass horde of brainwashed civilians, how the fuck do you think we’ve managed to get here?”
Gritting his teeth and watching John extend the radio towards his mouth with an eyebrow raised, Tony makes a call, using the information he’s been given to assess the situation. After the few moments of tension passes, Tony looks to John with his smile back and mutters two words, watching for the man’s response. “You’re bluffing” Tony replies, eying John as he shrugs his shoulders, pouts his lips, and takes his seat upon the jurors wall again.
“Can you try to avoid these things, man?” Eddie asks, trying to convince the driver to steer clear of the dead blocking a somewhat clean roadway every few inches before listening to an eruption send off throughout the air. Ducking on instinct from the sound of the burst, Eddie looks up to find a fireball reaching well above the treelines, shooting smoke far enough into the sky for it to be barely visible near the New World Order a few miles away.
“What the fuck was that?” Eddie asks over, pulling his radio to his lips and broadcasting to whomever can hear on the other end. With a smile taking over his face, John holds the radio up, waiting for the transmission before listening to a panicked Eddie inform Tony of an unknown explosion a short distance away. “It’s coming from the other line of-” Eddie begins, shouting an unintelligible flurry of screams as another eruption, this time caught through the talkie, takes his mind away.
Staring at John with a grimace, Tony immediately spots the error of his ways, watching John enjoy the sights ahead with such glee. “We’ve got another explosion just-” Eddie begins again, only to be met with another string of much smaller explosions following soon after, bringing his van to a halt. Ducking behind whatever cover he can find in the van, Eddie orders for every line of convoy vehicles to stop in their paths. “Hold your positions, stay in your vehicles! No one advance until I give you the all clear!” Eddie demands, the entire altercation being heard in perfect quality by John and a captive Tony.
From within their respective vans, most of the members of the convoy looks around the ground, trying to find what they can to make sense of the sudden explosions. After a tense few seconds, filled with uncertainty as to whether or not they could deteriorate into a cloud of bones fragments and dead skin, the first assumptions are made from the remaining vehicles at the forefront. Waiting for Eddie to be informed by his crew mates of the nature of the incidents, John and Tony finally listen to the man broadcast his findings to them with certainty.
“The bodies on the ground!” Eddie shouts, “They’re all propped!” Taking in a breath of refreshing air, pleased with the findings of those outside, John waits for Eddie to spell it out for the imprisoned man. “We can’t go any further! The place is a minefield!” Eddie shouts, much to the delight off the smarter group. Still in their vans in the event that there are gunners waiting for the first sight of their heads, the convoy quarantine themselves within their vehicles as the smoke from the small forest fire burning as a result plumes into the sky.
Miles away, overlooking the beauty of the sights rising in the sky from the confines of the New World Order’s remains, the core group watches on with their guns drawn in the unlikely event they catch a few stragglers on the way. “I think we’ve started to make our point” Jack jokes, his arm wrapped around a happy Lauren as the couples and individuals within the group find their own comfort.
“John?” Jess radios in on the second walkie talkie, the man as chipper as she is whilst offering Tony the chance to listen in. “How’s it look?” John jokes, the woman with a smile on their daughter’s face as well as her own replying with appreciation for the beauty. “Worked to perfection” Jess replies, knowing that Tony is in the room listening in. “Hey, Tony?” Jess asks, waiting a few seconds before she assumes the man has taken his eyes and focused his attention on the radio. “Quick question, be sure to let me know if it’s too difficult to answer, but how’re those numbers you’ve got looking right about now?” Jess asks, the furious anger drenching Tony like an ice bath.
“I’ll be honest Tony, I think it’s impressive how well you’ve managed to keep this community going… I honestly mean that” John says, beginning to walk over to the man before leaning before him again. “But there’s one thing you need to understand about me that I’m not so sure you’ve really begun to get a grip on…”
Patting him on the leg and lifting the barrel of the gun to his head, tapping it as a way of pointing to his brain. “...You may lie to us, but we’ll never lie to you.” Standing to his feet whilst leaning forward, closing the gap between Tony’s face and his own, John begins to force Tony to pull as far away as his restraints will allow him. “So when I say that your numbers, your firepower, your power, and your pull doesn’t mean shit, I simply mean…”
Having pushed Tony as far back as the man can go, John pauses to smile before concluding his statement and walking away. “... I simply mean that all you have means shit.” Taking a roll of tape and tearing away a piece to put over Tony’s mouth, John takes the first radio and does his best impression of Tony. “Continue on foot, complete your mission, that’s an order” John says, much to the hatred of Tony, who is helpless to do much more than listen into Eddie acknowledging the command and issuing the rule to keep the convoy going.
= Rise 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 3 onwards =
“Attention Sheol” John says, continuing to play his role as interim Tony well, even though it comes at the dismay of the actual Tony. “I wish for all residents of Sheol, civilians and guards, to join me on the stage on the main grounds right now” John states, broadcasting the message throughout every radio and loudspeaker within the city’s confines.
Within radio control, Arsenal and his supposed friends have their conversation interrupted by the two guards knocking at the door. “Sir, we’re requested at the town hall” one of the men states, only to be met with assurance that the three individuals inside have been specifically requested to remain stationed in the booth. “Who gave you that order?” the guards ask, met with a tilted head and a raised eyebrow from Arsenal, giving the guards the only sign they needed to refuse any further questions and do as told.
“If you get in trouble, it isn’t on us!” the second guard states, shutting the door on his way out and leaving the three individuals stationed within radio control to their own vices. “Tell us more about this ‘resistance’” Angela asks, putting aside her curiosity over the concept of an underground collection of people, “Why did it start?”
Taking in a deep breath, Arsenal looks at both with worry that the question is simply too big to unpack. “Well, for a start, there’s always going to be a core of people that don’t trust their leaders regardless of where or what it might be that they’re involved in” Arsenal begins, “The resistance movement, or ‘Project Promenade’ as we refer to it, really started gaining traction once we started finding people going missing.”
“Wait, back up, ‘going missing’?” Tyler asks, met with agreeance. “We started seeing people disappear back and forth, one person and then another, in a tight-knit community, people don’t just disappear without someone knowing something. It wasn’t long until people started suspecting the convoy of wrongdoings, and once that happened, people started uncovering some stuff.”
Asking what was uncovered, Angela and Tyler are aghast when the increasing mountain of truth begins piling up. “Abductions, human trafficking, cannibalism, all the fucked up shit you hear about people doing was a part of this business model the convoy leaders have been taking part in. It wasn’t long before we realized that the people going missing started having their posters being torn down every other corner. The coincidence was too much to ignore.”
“Okay” Tyler says, standing from his seat and walking over to the window, watching speed boat after speed boat fill with passengers as the center stage begins to crowd up. “How many of those people would you say are awaiting this ‘resistance’?”
Standing up and walking over to the window, Arsenal admits that the numbers probably stack up to most civilians and roughly half of the increasing numbers of guards taking the stage. “So pretty much all of Sheol?” Angela asks, watching the smile inch from ear to ear across Arsenal’s face.
“How close to your target are you?” John radios in, awaiting Eddie’s response as the man, flanked by his convoy, waltz through the maze of the undead lining the roadway. “We’re less than a few hundred feet away, waiting on your mark” Eddie states, continuing to lead his core forward. Groaning through the heavy adhesive tape over his mouth, Tony gets the attention of John and prompts the man to uncover his mouth.
“What difference do you think you’re making? You’re trying to take away the only constant these people have had since everything went to shit!” Tony argues, seeming to honestly want to find the reasoning behind John’s actions. “This is about the girl, isn’t it?” Tony asks, “You’re mad about the girl I poisoned? Is that it?”
“I’m mad about the girl you murdered, forced to fight to us and die in our arms, warning us that you’d be coming. I’m mad about her, and I’m mad about the countless others you did or would have done the same thing to if given the opportunity!” Met with a laugh, John watches the man question whether or not he’s truly seen what this world causes people to do. “I’ve seen what it makes people, what it turns them into… People like you” John states, immediately argued that it’s the people like John himself that the world turns survivors into.
“Don’t you get it? People like me have been around since well before the world fell apart, it was only more difficult to stop than it was before, that was the only difference.” Arguing to the man, telling him that the world has always been this way, Tony clings to the hope that he can get the man to view the world through his eyes. “This entire time you’ve had me restrained, you’ve been trying to get me to look at things from your point of you, so how about you take a walk in my shoes for a change, huh?”
Watching the man pull a chair up and take a seat opposite Tony, the prisoner tells John to take a glance at the world surrounding him. “There’s no money in this world, no spare change to toss at some pedestrian on the side of the road… This is survival of the fittest, the people are the ones with value, power is the currency. You better believe that I was telling you the truth when I said you’d run into people far worse than I have.”
“I find that difficult to believe” John states, met with the assurance from Tony that it would be within his best interest to start believing it. “When one of us falls, it’s going to be onto the next big bully to take your lunch money and make you his bitch, only this time, he’ll bash your friends heads in on the side of the road. You’ve got it easy with me, pal.”
Shaking his head and wandering his eyes away, John’s attention is regained by Tony as he tells him to keep his focus squarely devoted to him. “It’s genuinely nice to see you dreaming that a community exists where the citizens never have to worry about being caught on the wrong side of history, but that is exactly what it’s described as… A dream.” Leaning forward and telling John that he’s open to playing this game with him forever, Tony reminds him that he has time on his hands. “The people will be mad, they’ll try to force my hand if you give them the chance, but it will only result in one of two things…” Tony says, waiting for John to ask of them.
“...They’ll either try to change the rules and weaken this place enough to bring it down by the knees, or they’ll skip to bringing this place down by the knees and be caught within a world so drastically different they’re just as good as the dead they’re mice caught in a snakepit for.”
Silent, thinking to himself what his next approach will be, John is met with a call in from Eddie, informing John that he and the remaining members of the convoy have made it to the home. Placing the tape over the mouth of Tony once again, John instructs them to open fire on Eddie’s call. “When he gives the order, empty every clip you’ve got. I want no one left standing” John says, still doing enough justice to Tony’s voice for his order to be convincing, John listens in to Eddie begin the countdown, reaching the final second before the radio cuts off with the opening sound of gunfire.
Emptying magazine after magazine into the home, Eddie steps away from the gunfire to take care of a few undead stragglers down the road. Letting his crew take care of the undead, Eddie unsheathes a knife from his pocket carrier and takes down the stragglers in front of him before turning around to return to the group. Concealing his blade once again, Eddie readies his gun and takes aim at the home, only to be knocked on his ass by a massive explosion erupting before him, engulfing his crew in a fireball big enough to singe the hair on every exposed part of his body.
Brought to the ground by the sheer force of the blast, Eddie is helpless to do much more than watch on as the body parts of his freshly-deceased convoy guards rain from the sky like a present from the butcher’s shop. “Explosion at the home! It was a red herring!” Eddie shouts, unable to make out much more than the few words he can find beneath the sky of human remains. “Work with me, who’s standing?” John asks, assured that Eddie is the only man left standing as far as he can tell.
“Excellent” John replies, dropping the voice and closing communication, baffling Eddie beyond lines he can even make sense of. Pulling free the second radio, John calls in for Salem, “Do your thing, girl” John states, earning a smile from the woman on the other end, fixating her scope on the man sprawled upon the ground quite a ways away. Confident in her ability, the woman places her finger on the trigger and lets out a steady breath.
“Goodnight” Salem whispers to herself, pulling the trigger on her rifle and ripping a bullet through the sole survivor’s skull and splattering his brains against the pavement below. “Taken care of” Salem radios in, signalling the end of Eddie’s life to the two men on the other end, both to polarizing expressions. “Well done, Salem” John responds, met with the same confidence he’s grown to expect from their guaranteed advantage-swinger.
Returning to the man and ripping the tape from his mouth again, Tony reminds John of the amount of lives he’s damaging with the actions being taken. “You’ll be rendering these people’s lives to little more than a hope and a prayer, and since those never helped keep the world from falling into irreparable chaos, hopes and prayers are pretty ways of saying nothing!” Tony shouts, watching the man walk through the corridor and peak his head through the doorway, taking a look at the maxed out main yard.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, might I have your attention please?” John asks, his voice ringing throughout Sheol, Tony helpless to stop him as the audience gathered awaits their reasoning for being called to this event. “Take a look at the incredible people on the stage, willing to do what they can to provide for the community they love with their hearts” John says, earning a rowdy applause from the crowd, with many of the civilians hiding their disgust for the need to react in such a way beneath the crowd around them.
“I have one request of them on this very fine evening, and it is a request that some incredible people have told me should clear plenty of things up” John begins, looking through the cellar windows atop the walls to see the sights of central Sheol. Within the Radio Control tower, Tyler, angela and Arsenal look out through the observation desk to see the sight from the best view in the house.
“I would like to request that the guards belonging to the resistance please step off the main stage” John requests, immediately bringing a mixture of dread and anxiety over anyone familiar with the group. “I’ll see you soon, Tony” John states, walking through the door and approaching the main yard, earning the attention of the people questioning why he stands out from the rest. Stepping onto a small platform beside the crowd, John returns his voice to the radio, assuring the civilians can put a voice to a face. “My name is John Callis, and I promise you that the guards belonging to the resistance shall not be punished at my hand. I kindly request that they remove themselves from the platform at once.”
After a few seconds, guards begin lowering themselves from the platform in droves, leaving behind roughly half the force remaining atop the stage. “I would like the citizens of Sheol to join me in taking a look at the gentlemen remaining on the stage” John states, redirecting the crowd’s eyes to the featured presentation. Walking through the sea and joining those individuals on the stage, John waves his hand in their direction, leaving them little more choice than to obey.
“These individuals belong to a regime that has been guilty of so many crimes you wouldn’t be able to put a number to unless you added up the charges placed on every citizen of this community that has suddenly gone missing.” With those words, John has taken the audience captive in the palm of his hand, turning their reactions into whatever he wishes to mold them into. “It has been no secret that strange disappearances of normal, everyday people, have been documented throughout the history of Sheol, and I’m here to tell you right now, there is a truth to it I take pleasure in offering you.”
Understanding the gravity behind the truth he is mere seconds away from uncovering, John keeps his composure under control and remembers what his current demographic is up against. “I have the responsibility the convoy leaders in this community refuse, to affirm to you that your worst fears are, indeed, true. The people you were forced to see stripped away from you in the middle of the night, as if the boogeyman roamed the streets of the land of the dead, have all been murdered at the hands of Sheol’s authoritarian regime.”
Gasps, tears, screaming and outrage from the crowd begin to unfold, letting emotions ravage what typically prides itself on being a strong and safe community. “They have been scapegoats to a regime that wishes to blame their incompetence upon those other than themselves, and the wave of individuals upon this stage are people that have known that since they were indoctrinated into this community and have refused to step up to stop it.”
With booing now beginning to take charge, John keeps the increasingly raucous crowd calm for a few more moments to finish what needs to be done. “Some of you may know Janice Garnett” John begins, looking out at the crowd for whatever reaction he can find. “Janice was one of the many victims stolen in the middle of the night by the convoy, and died in our arms from the beating she took over the course of five days. Another one of our fellow survivors, Katherine Dawson, we call her ‘Katie’, was poisoned in our efforts to get this message out sooner. She, thankfully, survived our encounter with your regime, but these events are two of many reasons the people in this community have to demand change be implemented. There can be no further abductions under the dead of night perpetrated by the convoy, and that responsibility rests in your hands.”
With cheers having now stolen the admiration of Sheol in favor of John at the expense of a few white lies, John demands the community look throughout their quarters and shops in hopes of finding devices that the convoy has used to further ease their need to dig. “Uncover the truths you deserve to know! Enrich yourselves within the Sheolan spring!” John shouts, earning an ovation visible in drive from the perch of Radio Control.
Looking at the guards beside him at a loss for words, John turns back to the crowd with his fist high in the air. “Long live the resistance!” the man shouts, earning the biggest pop one could imagine a community finally having their freedom restored can offer. Disappearing through the crowd and sneaking away into the courtroom, John looks at a defeated, demoralized Tony before ripping the tape from his mouth for the final time.
“You’ve just killed Sheol” Tony states, refusing to even struggle against the man’s assurance that he’s only returned their rights to them. “I guess we’ll find out about that, won’t we?” John states, walking for the door before turning back and decking Tony in the face, laying a right hand right into the back of his head. “Sorry” John says, backing away from the man, “I just figured that I’d earned the first punch after all the work I did.”
“First?” Tony replies, watching John retreat before the realization is shown in his widened eyes. “No! John, no!” Tony shouts, pleading for John to return before watching the man walk through the door and prop it open with a rock. “One final announcement, Sheol!” John begins, “I stand beside the entry to what Sheol refers to as their ‘courtroom’ where those abducted met their final moments.” Watching the crowd turn their attention to him, spotting him at the bottom of a restricted dirt path, John smiles amidst a cry from Tony to spare him.
“I guess we’ll let them make that decision” John states, yelling into the radio that the man responsible, Tony himself, sits helpless in this courtroom awaiting their verdict. “You hold the power, Sheol! Innocent or guilty, make your voice heard!” John shouts, hurrying away from the entry as the screaming crowd rushes down the hill, swarming the courtroom like a pack of dogs.
“Good luck, Tony!” John shouts, running away from the crowd as they engulf the dungeon and aim to take their justice. Rushing past the crowd, John hurries for the front gates, met with a fist bump from Louis on the way out, who he hands the central radio to, telling him that he’s the man in charge now. “Thank you, John” Louis replies, met with assurance that this is only the beginning. “Whatever today brings, the aftermath will be what really hits you” John states, giving his blessing to Louis.
“Don’t let it take you out!” John states, finally being met by Alicia, Tyler and Angela just as Reggie pulls his truck up to the front gates, waiting with the rest of the group to bring them back to their hideout. “Come on, guys!” John states, met with a response has wasn’t in favor of hearing, but inevitably saw coming. “We’re staying back” Tyler says, holding Angela close. Turning slowly to meet the man, John hears Tyler assure him that Louis is going to need help, and it’s himself and Angela that will do that.
Accepting the terms laid out, John walks up to Tyler and shakes his hand, hugging him and telling him that he’s proud. “You’re the guy that I always wanted to be” John says, “Ready to stand up and do what’s necessary at a moments notice.” Tightening the hold, Tyler thanks John for everything he’s done for him. “Maybe you’re not the most likeable, and hell, maybe you can be a dumbass sometimes…” Tyler states, earning a laugh out of the man, “...But I’m thankful to have met you.”
Breaking the embrace with a closure to the handshake, and meeting both Angela and Louis with additional handshakes, the group watch on as the crowd tosses a massive rope around a tree branch atop the stage and wrap it around Tony’s neck. “Is it bad that this is a welcomed sight for us?” Tyler jokes, getting a reply from a joyous John. “Yes it is, but it’s warranted” the man replies, watching Tony, still restrained in his chair, be pulled into the air by the neck as anyone in the crowd that can grab onto the rope yanks it further back.
“Long live Sheol!” the people chant, the sight serving as a grim reminder to the wrong side of history that the power of the people doesn’t let up just because of a switch in cultural climate. Going limp in the chair, Tony finally finds himself strangled to death by the people’s revenge, bringing an end to the newly former regime of Sheol. “Let’s go! The tank’s running!” Reggie jokes, prompting John and Alicia to split from Tyler, Angela and Louis once again upon the backdrop of a new world order over Sheol.