As the sky finally opens up and begins allowing for the rains of the heavens above to fall, Emilio rests alone in his tent, tossing and turning as the trauma of his current world infiltrates his sleep. Awoken by the sound of gunfire in his mind, Emilio sits up in a daze, looking around the tent and wiping the crust from his eyes as the rain begins beating down on the tent. Ringing off like violent winds ripping loose wood from a house, Emilio tucks the pillow over his head again and tries to return to sleep.
Eventually realizing that he needs to use the bathroom, Emilio halts his battle against the audible disruption atop him and pulls pan from the corner of the tent to use as some sort of umbrella. Walking out into the grass, Emilio heads off beside the tent and relieves himself, further aggravated by the sound of the raindrops bouncing off the metal surface above him.
Looking around at what surrounds him to pass the time, Emilio notices a sheen of light reflecting onto a few trees a short distance from him. Finally having ‘emptied the tank’, Emilio takes a brief adventure up to the surface of the highway and notices he and Bill’s vehicle with it’s lights left on and the doors wide open. “Oh shit” Emilio shouts rushing over to the car as the undead begin to find the light source. Panning through the vehicle, Emilio realizes that nothing had been taken, leaving him baffled.
Returning to the tent, Emilio unzips the sheet and calls for Bill to wake up, only to find his sleeping bag empty. “What the fuck?” Emilio mutters to himself, lost in translation and finally removing the pan from atop his head, dropping it to his side as he returns to the main roadway. Taking notice of the undead refusing to let up their fight, Emilio takes the pan and brings down whatever inevitable threat looms in the distance.
“Did he leave?” Emilio asks himself, muttering below his breath as he continues cracking the skulls of the rotting undead along the roadway, eventually continuing his walk a few hundred yards down the road. “What the fuck?” Emilio says to himself, this time the question being more audible as he continues looking around, curious as to whether or not the undead could have gotten to him. Now fully immersed in the realization that his husband is nowhere to be found, Emilio starts calling out his name, beginning to return to the tent in hopes of him just walking out from the trees.
“William?” Emilio shouts, continuing to call and resorting to using Bill’s full name rather than shorthand, growing more concerned the longer he goes without an answer. A few hundred feet away from the tent now, and the water running down the sloped road begins to reflect the moonlight above, mostly hidden behind storm clouds. “William!?” Emilio continues calling, now extending his husband’s name in hopes of it bringing about any change.
Eventually, Emilio slumps down onto the ground and just looks out at the roadway, watching the heavy rainwater flow with the puddles it creates down the road like a stream. In the corner of his eyes, he catches a glimpse at one puddle in specific, wiping his eyes to get any water out of them in hopes of figuring out what he sees flowing with it. Too faded of a color to be more water, Emilio finally stands up and walks over to the stream, placing his hand in it and trying to catch what flows to no avail.
The faint red liquid running with the water perplexing Emilio enough for him to start following it upstream, hoping to eventually find whatever it’s originating from. Continuing to walk and wipe what he can from his eyes, Emilio brings himself to a halt, watching the faint red become much bolder in color the further he goes, bring an ominous presence to his quest and forcing him into a speedwalk. Finally, Emilio stops and squints his eyes to get a better picture of what lies ahead. Tilting his head to figure out exactly what he’s looking at, Emilio’s eyes shoot open and he drops the pan to the ground, letting its impact with the asphalt below ring freely.
Shaking his head and engaging in a full sprint, Emilio runs up to a hunched over body on the side of the road. Shouting in denial at what his better instincts would have him believe, Emilio drops to his knees beside the body and pulls it over, looking down to see his husband with a gunshot in the side of his head and the firearm it was a result of still tightly gripped in his hand.
Mouth agape and without words trying his best to process what he sees, Emilio completely breaks down, giving up and wailing his cries of lamentation, putting his nose up to his husband’s cheek and screaming in agony at the flood of results this brings about. Groaning in pain as his heart sinks, Emilio takes his husband’s hand into his own and aimlessly tosses the gun off into whatever it ends up lying in.
Beneath the dark skies briefly lit by the lightning striking down on the ground below in the moments where the moon disappears behind the clouds, Emilio lays and waits for the world to shove his next move at him. Letting the rain drop into his face and his hair to go wherever the blowing wind will take it, Emilio puts his head onto Bill’s and waits for the end to come.
= 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 =
“Couldn’t be bothered to take the nameplate off?” Salmanecci jokes, watching John pull his hand up and tear the tag off the wall as the rain begins beating down on the center of town. “You’ve yet to tell us how Tony died” Wahlen informs, not looking to remind John and Louis of it just yet, but rather, using it as an order to get an answer. “We hanged him” John replies, not missing a beat and refusing to stutter in his delivery.
“You said you ‘hanged’ him” Salmanecci repeats, watching John nod as he and Louis take a seat, neither man choosing to sit behind the desk, rather electing to confront their neither opposition nor allies upfront. “You expect us to just be fine with that?” Wahlen asks, ready to pull a gun if he still had one on him. “I mean, that all really depends on what it is you would leave Sheol expecting us to do in his succession, wouldn’t it?” John asks, watching both Wahlen and Salmanecci give off different versions of acknowledging their humor.
“We’re not leaving Sheol” Salmanecci informs John, with Wahlen reminding Sheol’s newly appointed leader that the convoy does not work with communities offering the people more power than they have control. “Sorry, but democracy just doesn’t work in this world anymore. You want people to live, you’ve gotten tell them where the water is. Whether they figure out how to drink or not is what they get control over. That’s it” Salmanecci replies, watching John’s head drift off.
“You’ve got convoys to get back to” Louis replies, reminding them that they won’t be able to station out here forever. “If you think we just left our compounds without making sure there was a plan if necessary, then those people down there truly don’t know what shit they’re ‘voting’ for” Salmanecci replies, watching John state that he never accused them of ditching their compounds without a plan.
“But just because shit can go down here, doesn’t mean shit wont go down there either” John states, reminding the two men ahead of him that it was the people outside the took Tony out, they just needed a little push. “Who’s to say you stopping by for a few months concurrently down here won’t allow the break your compounds need to get that little push themselves?” John asks, watching the two men smile as a way of hiding their creeping doubts that they’re well aware could occur.
“Even if we were to break out in a war down here, you’d be going back to your respective posts with far less man power than you had before, and that could be all the push they need.” Watching the men refuse to show any sign of fear, John lays his cards on the table and waits for Salmanecci and Wahlen to decide whether or not to play.
“These people are not going to be stripped of their control, and I certainly will not allow either of you to take it from them either. So here’s what I am proposing” John begins, the men intrigued and at least interested in hearing what he’s got to say. “You tell me what it will take for you to leave this community” John says, nothing further added, just casting out the line and waiting for a bite.
“I’ll tell you what, John” Wahlen starts standing from his seat and buttoning his jacket, “You’re probably one of the few people I’d be willing to work with here, but if you want us gone, you’re going to strip these people of the power you’ve given them.” Looking at the man as he slowly makes for the door, John assures him that he will not be doing that. Before Wahlen can respond, Salmanecci tells Sheol’s newly crowned leader that he gets what his beliefs are.
“I get what you fought for in the military, and I understand what standards of life you fought to keep in play. Believe me, if I was pulling your leg, I’d tell you” Salmanecci begins, reminding John that fights in this world are far different than fights from the world prior. “There’s no free world anymore, there is only this one. This world is one big story, and it sure isn’t yours. No, this is the story of what comes after humanity reached its peak. This story succeeds a world of appearance with a world of truth, and it only follows those strong enough to lead it.”
Standing up to join Wahlen in his walk towards the door, Salmanecci continues reminding John of what this story has different from the story that came before it. “There is only one rule no, John… Survive or die. I truly believe that you’re an individual with the capacity to be a spearhead of this story, but it’s down to you to prove that to us. And we’ll give you twenty-four hours.”
Adding onto Salmanecci’s proposal, Wahlen tells John that he’ll have one full day to decide whether or not he’s going to do what’s necessary and return power to the convoy. “We outnumber Sheol in droves and this isn’t even all we’ve got, John” Salmanecci replies, “if you cannot do what we’re asking, we’re not going to ask again.”
Exiting the room and making their way back to their convoy, the two men shut the door behind themselves and leave both Louis and John to their vices, left to make the decision for themselves as the rain keeps falling harder.
“Heather, Cameron, you there?” John calls in, waiting for a reply on the other end as the pair make their way back to the Connecticut border. “Yeah John, what’s up?” Heather replies, the morning having begun taking shape as Amy joyfully exclaims, “Dad!” on the other end, putting a smile on John’s face. “You guys almost at the border?” John asks, disappointed when the response of “No” is muttered over the radio.
“The roads near the border are too cramped, we tried switching spots but we ended up getting rerouted to Long Island. We’re up near Port Washington right now” Cameron replies, forcing John’s head down as the crowd outside begins chanting “Leave us alone” to the amusement of the convoy. “Everything okay up there?” Heather asks, as disappointed as John was a second ago when the worst response is muttered.
“They want complete control of Sheol now that Tony’s out of the picture and they’re using me to get it. I don’t know whether to play in or give them complete transparency.” On the other end, Heather tells him that there’s always a way of swinging the advantage in their favor. “You’ve got C4, you’ve got a nuke, You’re more familiar with the geography than they are” Heather says, “You don’t always need to have the numbers advantage… And sometimes that’s actually a disadvantage.”
Catching onto the last part, John looks over to Louis, who fixates on it as well before he thanks the woman and tells them to stop in Port Washington. “Well meet you there when we can” John replies, cutting off connection before informing the group about the change of plans. Before anyone within Sheol can reply, the distraught voice of Emilio breaks through asking for John.
“What’s up, Em?” John asks, waiting for a response before repeating the man’s name a second time following a near minute of silence. “Bill’s dead” Emilio replies, the break in his voice being enough to sadden the survivors outright. “What?” John asks, looking for clarification and getting just that.
“He has-” Emilio stammers, pausing for a second to get his wits about him, “He had cancer. He shot himself last night” Emilio replies, the bare tone and emotional detachment forcing the group into a lack of things to say other than apologies. “There’s something else you should know” Emilio replies, snapping the conversation into a weird switch the survivors have little more to do than go along with.
“They’re dead” Emilio replies, immediately capturing the full spectrum of emotions they could possibly feel in two minutes. “What are you talking about, Em?” John asks, waiting for a reply from the man, still sopping wet from the night of laying in the flooded highway, and standing before a cozy home burned to the ground with three bodies laying dead in the grass, face up. “That family you wanted us to check for” Emilio replies, “They’re all dead. Every single one of them” the man replies, looking at each body, freshly executed with one bullet buried in the center of their foreheads.
“It’s all fresh too” Emilio states, telling John that it couldn’t have been Tony’s convoy. “It’s not just the family either” Emilio replies, latching onto whatever he has left to forget about the things he’s seen. “Everything I drove past has been burned down. There’s no one left over here” Emilio concludes, setting off a switch in John that visibly pulls. “What’re you going to do next?” John asks, thanking the man for what he’s done. “You guys need backup?” the man asks, thinking over what Emilio on the frontlines after all this would be like before suggesting it would be a good idea to have him here if he can.
“I’m on my way” Emilio replies, returning to his vehicle and leaving behind the symbols of tragedy he feels indifferent towards. “What did you mean by ‘the family’? Louis asks, finally informed of how they figured out there was a bomb inside Sheol. “Oh shit!” Louis shouts, bolting for the door and running off into the compound, immediately followed by the survivors.
At the bottom of the compound, Louis spots a door just beside the staircase and starts forcing his shoulder into it, getting it to budge slightly before his shoulder can no longer take the abuse. “Salem!” John calls, watching the woman take aim with her suppressed rifle and blow a bullet through the lock, sending a few sparks flying en route to it jolting itself open.
Leading John’s group into the depths of the compound, Louis finally enters a windowless room illuminated by a singular light, with one lone nuclear warhead propped up atop a stand. “Holy shit” Franklin says, met by Jack admitting that he never actually took the idea seriously until now. “Can it be detonated?” John asks, joining Louis in inspecting it, noticing the lack of ignition for it to go off. “It’s just here” Louis states, having forgotten that it existed from blindly doing as told for so long. “It’s not supposed to be detonated as is, it’s supposed to be launched” Louis concludes, finding himself asked by John whether or not it could still be detonated in its current position.
“Technically, all bombs can be detonated anywhere… The downside is that whoever detonates the bomb has to do it manually.” Upon the realization that setting off the bomb would be a suicide mission, the grooup throws the idea out of the window. “I’ll do it” Reggie says, catching the eye of the group. “No, Reggie we just got you back, you’re not hopping out of here just yet” John argues, met with nothing more than refusal to accept that from the man in question.
“I don’t care what you think you’ve gotten, but I bring the least value to this group out of all of us.” Refusing, John looks at the man and calls to attention that he is just as human as everyone else. “John, sometimes decisions need to be made that no one has to acknowledge” Reggie says, “but those guys are going to burn this place down or die trying if you don’t give them what they want. This doesn’t need to be used, but if things boil down to it, I’m the one sending this puppy up.”
As the night falls over Sheol, John and his survivors remain in the main compound spiking the dungeon below with C4 in the event that everything has to be torn down. Still chanting outside, the crowd begins drawing the ire of the convoy opposite them, challenging them to bring on the fight and figure out whether or not they’ll live to tell the story.
“Those guys won’t hold up much longer, John” Louis states, telling John that it’s now or never to make a decision. “I know what I have to do” John states, assuring Louis that he’s not going to let history repeat itself. “Whatever you do, I know you’ve got the right intentions, so I’m with you on whatever you choose” Louis says, shaking John’s hand and thanking him for getting everyone this far.
Emerging from the main compound, John and his group stand at the forefront of the citizens of Sheol. Distancing himself from the group, John walks forward, taking his place at the front whilst his survivors vanish into the ocean of people behind him, all armed with their own weaponry and ready to fight if necessary.
“Just to say that I tried, I wanna make sure we’re clear” John states, “If I take the control out of the hands of the people and keep it for myself, you’ll turn around and leave Sheol standing the way you rode into it?” Declaring John’s belief to be fully true, Salmanecci waits for John to ask one final question before giving his answer. “You never told me earlier why you’re so afraid of leaving the power in the hands of the people” John declares, awaiting an answer as the wind blows the loose hairs back, and the flames of torches behind him flow as a backdrop for he expects to be his final stand.
“You really wanna ask us this now?” Wahlen asks, met with extended arms from John. “You’re threatening to riddle us with bullets on our own home soil” the man replies, “I think now’s as good a time as any!” Wahlen looks to Salmanecci for his response, going along with what the man replies with. “It’s not that we’re afraid of the power the people have, but we’re familiar with how it turned out for everything last time” Salmanecci replies, reminding John that he knows exactly what that’s like.
“If you think we’re not familiar with how the New World Order turned out John, you’d be a fool to assume we’re as unaware as you make us out to be” Wahlen replies, watching the man’s arms lower back to his hips as his own past is reiterated to him by two men that didn’t live in his shoes, or fight in his wars. “You tried to lead a revolution against the people that made the New World Order what it once was, and it left you vulnerable. When round two came along, you were too spent to put up the same kind of fight.”
“You don’t know what it was like, George” John replies. “I never said I did” Salmanecci retorts, “but I know what caused it. You wanted your freedom… And it cost you everything.” Watching John tuck his hands into his pockets and drop his head, taking in the truth he’s fought off having to accept for too long. “I’ll admit to that” John replies, “I’ve spent too long refusing to admit to my shortcomings, and hoping everyone would forget about the skeletons in my closet… Even if I never have.”
“So you see what we mean, John?” Wahlen asks, met with the same response that Salmanecci gave to him nearly twenty four hours prior. “I see what you mean, but that doesn’t mean I agree” John states, putting a frown on both leaders’ faces. “You see what went wrong with the New World Order was that I just didn’t know what to do” John states, not noticing his group’s eyes squint.
“I may look confident and I may know enough about how to keep that appearance up, but I didn’t know what decisions were right and wrong back then” John declares, admitting to the world that he failed to keep those people safe. “Those people entrusted me with their lives and I played checkers with it… I wasn’t even smart enough to play chess!” Pacing back and forth whilst glancing back at the citizens every now and then, John admits to having failed.
“Maybe I’m nothing more than a few speeches wrapped in a complicated story, Salmanecci, but what you were wrong about earlier is the simple fact that this is my story. The same way the story you abide by is your own, the only question now is who’s book is going to come to a close first.” Turning back to give his full attention to the convoy stationed at the front gates, and ensuring that Salmanecci and Wahlen get a good final look at the man that he is.
“So the choice to strip the power away from these people is only a way to decide which happens first…” John begins, “Does my story end here, does yours end here, or is tonight simply a way of delaying the inevitable? Because we all die, it’s just always been a matter of when.”
“You’ve seen where this gets you, John. It-” Salmanecci begins, met with an interruption from the man, correcting them on how history works from a grammatical standpoint. “No, George I’ve seen where it got me. Because I’ll tell you right now, I know where I went wrong last time…” John states, declaring himself a different man than what he once was. “... I left those fuckers standing, and it came back to bite me.”
Watching the man assure the two convoy leaders that he’s not going to make the same mistake twice, the people of Sheol ready themselves to open fire as the clock strikes midnight. “Do we have your answer, John?” Wahlen asks, looking out at the man as he retreats back to the civilians and takes a hold of an assault rifle, standing in line with the people of Sheol.
“I’m sorry, John” Wahlen states, genuinely disappointed that he’s made the decision in question, only to stop for a moment as John lifts his fist into the air and keeps it steady, confusing the convoy leaders for a moment as they try to figure out what is meant by the gesture.
Despite Wahlen not understanding what’s unfolding, Salmanecci slowly takes realization in the tactic and suddenly shouts for his convoy to run for cover, just barely outrunning his prior stance as a bullet from across the lake rings through the air and lights John’s truck ablaze, setting off enough C4 to completely wipe out half of Salmanecci’s fleet, including a freshly-charred set of Wahlen’s remains.
Sent flying from the explosion, Salmanecci flies over a few concrete slabs and finally collides with the water front, disappearing beneath the surface with an impact. Pushing forward, the remaining convoy guards begin taking the fight to Sheol, engaging in a firefight whilst others try too get across the lake and take out the snipers firing off.
Ducking behind a wall of concrete, John notices Salmanecci struggling to return to shore, and immediately takes his opportunity to keep true to his word, diving into the lake and holding Salmanecci’s face down. Ducking below the water surface to dodge oncoming convoy snipers, John watches the life slowly drain out of the already terribly wounded man before the breath being expelled from his mouth turns into blood, having firmly accomplished what he set out to do.
Returning to land, John watches the firefight unfolding and dips his hand in the water, firing a few rounds at some unaware guards before being forced back into cover by the ongoing flurry of bullets. Taking aim at another member of the convoy, John is forced back into cover when the gun won’t fire, forcing him to assess the jam as the guard in question begins to rush him. Closing in, John finally manages to solve the problem in time to peek up from cover, only to watch a bullet from afar alleviate the dangers.
Holding a thumbs up, Salem watches from across the lake, knelt beside Arsenal as the two fire round after round through the shattered view as the convoy fight their way past defenses and into Sheol Center. “From his desktop and dodging incoming shots from opponent fire, Arsenal signs on and declares “Lock and lod, Sheol!” before Salem takes aim and fires at one of the many crates hidden around Sheol, sending a flurry of fire and smoke into the air as more introduced to the wonder explosives can do.
Given enough room to move, John spots Louis leading people back, helping put space between the two before he takes a bullet in the back, dropping him to the ground. Charging from cover, John lets a flurry go in the direction of the opposing convoy, throwing himself to the ground and dragging Louis into the compound.
Rounding the corner, multiple convoy guards find themselves at the wrong end of John’s gun, collapsed to a pile on the ground just outside the lobby. “Come on, Louis” John shouts, “let’s go, buddy!” as he places the wounded man’s arm over his neck. Realizing the lack of movement from Louis, John looks to notice the man with an expression of fear in his face as the pain seems to be gone. “I can’t feel my legs” Louis says, making himself comfortable on the floor as John kneels beside him, changing the magazine in his gun and holding cover for the man.
“I’m paralyzed” Louis says, forced amongst the chaos outside to come to a quick acceptance of what needs to be done. “Don’t let them get to me, they’ll let me turn!” Louis pleads, watching John continue to fire back at whatever walks by the door covered in heavy black. “You need to kill me” Louis says, flummoxing John. “I’m not going to do that, Louis. You’ll be fine” John says, attempting to pick the man up before finding him refusing to cooperate. “John, I’m gonna get you killed. You need to put me down and keep this place going!” Louis says, immediately caught off guard by the scene of Angela and Tyler hurrying into the main lobby for cover.
“Louis!” Angela shouts, rushing to the man’s side as the blood from his wound begins pooling beside him. “What happened?” Tyler asks, informed of everything John knows. Turning around and holding fire, John covers for the trio as they say their goodbyes. “Just don’t give up, okay?” Louis asks for Angela, thanking Tyler for keeping her safe, but reminding her that it’s only going to get tougher from here on out.
“You need to stay strong, alright?” Louis says, fighting off Angela’s notion that they can help him. “I;m done for, and I’m not taking you guys down with me” Louis replies, telling them to go for cover and stay hidden. “Don’t drag yourselves down, if we lose I want you both out of here ASAP!” Louis shouts, telling them to go immediately as John returns, giving Louis the chance to watch the pair disappear into the main grounds in search a place to go.
“Please, John” Louis asks, handing the man his pistol and telling him that it’s all okay. “I know I didn’t get much of a chance to know you, but yo’re the first person I’ve seen in two years actually care about this place. If there’s anyone I’m glad to see fighting on our side, it’s you.”
Taking the gun from Louis’ hands, John puts the barrel to Louis’ head, listening as the man’s final words before death are, “It’s okay.” Closing his eyes, having steadied his grip on the gun, John sends one bullet into the man’s head, sparing him from having to realize his worst fears. Knelt beside the man’s body, John closes his eyes for a moment of peace before reawakening into the situation at hand, realizing what is necessary to be done before returning to the sea of carnage outside, ready to dictate what happens next.