Leading what remains of the local fire department into her office, Jaime continues to ask questions worthy of answers. “Do we know who’s starting them?” the woman asks, her fire chief quickly answering with uncertainty. “We’re not sure who it is, but we do know it’s no one inside Los Angeles” the man replies, “the fires have been specifically set around the surrounding cities and towns.”
Brushing past the small crowd of experienced brigade workers, Chevy and Kayla enter Jaime’s office, confused at what they find. “Are we interrupting something?” the well-traveled man asks, the woman behind her desk immediately greeting them with a warm welcome before breaking the news. “Someone’s setting off fires outside of town” Jaime responds, her hands held toward the group of workers, “we’ve been dealing with cutting the flames off at their source.”
“Shit, is that something we can help with?” Chevy replies, he and Kayla both remaining focused on Colorado, their loyalties, however, remaining with the people of Los Angeles. Looking toward the chief, Jaime lets the man make the call, his hesitancy to approve rooted in a city-first. “If that trip to Colorado is as imperative to a trade deal as it sounds, it’s best you do that as soon as possible” the chief responds, “if you don’t go today, we’ll be keeping you for the next week or so.”
With a nod, Chevy graciously accepts the man’s refusal, his eyes redirecting to the woman behind the desk. “Thank you, Fred. Your efforts are appreciated and will be rewarded” Jaime concludes, extending her hand to shake that of the fire chief’s. “It’s a pleasure to serve you, Ms. Morris” Fred replies, turning back and leading his men through the door, Jaime’s slightly disappointed face only noticed by Chevy and Kayla.
“Yeah, the ‘Ms’ thing hurt to hear, too” Kayla responds, taking a seat opposite Jaime whilst her boyfriend remains standing behind her, his dominant hand resting atop the chair’s crafted peak. “That’ll change eventually” Jaime replies, pulling her chair in as her knees slide beneath the desk, “he’ll wake up from his coma, we’ll get back to work and everything will figure itself out.”
Sharing a reassuring nod, Kayla says that she’s just happy to see Jaime working. “The last we heard from your mom was that you spent the first week working from his bedside” Kayla recalls, “I’m just happy to see you trying to get back to normal.” Rolling her eyes with a sigh, Jaime admits that she wishes such a thing were possible, her faith in such a way of life slipping with every passing day.
“We’re on track to meet estimated growth by mid-July, the chemists will be set up two weeks after that, legitimate postings a few weeks later” Jaime explains, folding her hands with a relieved nod, “all in all, we should be fully operational by the start of September.” With a chuckle, Kayla promises to count down the next twelve weeks with great expectations.
“Just make it home by then please” Jaime responds, Chevy vowing to make that happen, both hands massaging Kayla’s shoulders. Sliding her chair back out, Jaime leaves her desk and walks over to the couple, pulling the two in for a hug and telling them to come back safely. “Yes!” a young girl shouts in excitement from the door, Kennedy’s feet dashing across the carpet before jumping into Kayla’s arms whilst Amelia follows shortly behind.
“Nah, you didn’t miss us” Chevy replies, Kennedy quickly leaping from Kayla’s arms and into his as a joyful Jaime stands by watching with a smile, her fleeting hopes of normalcy challenged by sights like these. “When are you leaving?” Kennedy asks, Chevy unfortunately left to admit that such departure time would be this very moment. “There’s a twenty-man convoy waiting by the loading bays” Jaime explains, a map with gasoline stops left for them at the site.
“I want you to have this” Kennedy says, pulling out a small pocket knife with a pink handle, tucking it safely into Chevy’s hand, “it’ll give you good luck.” With a smile, Chevy looks up to the young girl and thanks her, his hand held out for a high five. Already having returned ahead of schedule, Chevy and Kennedy hurry to use the additional time to remain ahead, cutting the happy moment short in the name of efficiency.
“Come back safely!” Kennedy shouts, the couple walking through the doors and stood in the hallway as they glance back. With a final wave, Chevy and Kayla disembark for their trek, Amelia, Kennedy and Jaime left in the office, the bookworm of the two looking back toward L.A’s guardian. “What are we gonna do if someone comes to take the city back?” Amelia asks, Jaime looking to her with wide eyes, surprised by the question.
“We already fought them once” Jaime responds, playfully tapping the girl on the arm, “we can do it again.” With a smile, she looks back to the window behind her desk, the bright sunlight bringing a calming view of the luscious greenery just beyond her vantage point. A few short miles away, select patches of this greenery burn a hot orange, flames shooting up in specific spots throughout the surrounding towns, cornering city hall and the rest of Los Angeles into the hills.
= Dire 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 =
Strolling through her daughter’s hillside residence, Alex approaches the sound of knocking at the front door, a simple pull of the handle presenting a familiar figure. “Chris?” Alex asks, the hospital worker greeting her upon the door’s opening, “what are you doing here?” Pulling a bouquet of flowers out from behind his back, Chris extends the assortment toward the woman, being met with a gracious and appreciative reaction.
“I was walking past one of the old flower shops they’d opened back up downtown and you just sort of popped into mind” Chris replies, the woman taking the flowers with a smile. “Come on in” Alex offers, the man quick to accept the invitation, following the woman through the large interior. “Wow- Jaime really did well for herself” Chris exclaims, the size of the home surprising him, its quaint exterior hiding a lofty- yet modest for the asking price- interior.
“Yeah, she put her head to what she knew and it paid off… literally” Alex responds, lowering the bouquet into an empty vase, quickly walking to the nearest sink. “Can I get you a water, or a… I don’t know, scone?” Alex replies, amusing the man, who takes her up on the offer of water and appreciatively declines the latter. Carrying a flower pot and cup of water, Alex approaches the man and gives him a selection, again amusing him.
Turning to the vase with the unchosen flower pot, Alex thanks the man again for the flowers, their colorful presence brightening a largely white, gray, red and oak-stained home. “It was my pleasure, really- The city really appreciates their doctors” Chris responds, walking up to the window in astonishment of the Los Angeles skyline. “You really can see everything from here” Chris remarks in astonishment as Alex soon walks up beside him, taking in the view for herself.
“It’s really easy to get lost just looking at it” Alex replies, the man glancing to the side at her, the woman’s eyes still pressed to the skyline. “Do you think your daughter would be mad if we took a seat poolside?” Chris asks as Alex looks at him with an assured face. “Probably not” Alex responds, watching the smile creep in through her new friend’s face.
“I hear you’ve got a little wildfire problem” Ryan beckons, hearing the door shut without needing to turn around to know who’s entered. “You have any of your little friends that could be trying to send you a message?” Jaime replies, sliding a chair up to the table and having herself the seat. “No clue” Ryan responds, his obvious attempt to retain the little power over the woman that he has being an open secret.
Letting out a sigh, Jaime remains silent, a cloud of nothingness filling the air in every direction, the awkward silence only prompting Ryan to talk more. “I may not be able to hear as much through these paper-thin walls as you can from your comfy office, but I still hear things” Ryan mocks, looking at her with a smile, “it sounds like you’ve got it handled, though… Nice one.”
Folding her arms atop the surface, Jaime asks Ryan what amusement he gets out of any of these performances, unable to understand how enjoyment can be had from behind these walls. “I think you underestimate how it can feel to be alone” Ryan replies, turning over his shoulder to look the woman in the eyes, her squint something he quickly picks up on, “I think you underestimate just how little it can take to make someone’s day under the right circumstances.”
With a nod, Jaime admits that such a statement could be true before repeating her question, the answer to which not having been offered in his potential discovery. “I like that you don’t know what’s happening but figure out a way to clean up the mess” Ryan responds, the squirming of the woman in moments of reactionary measure acting like television to him, “how you don’t know whether or not it has anything to do with me- but are so interested in finding out.”
“You like watching me squirm?” Jaime replies, the maniacal smile across the man’s face giving her enough of an answer. “I love seeing you- a woman with the closest thing to a world we have left- twitch at every problem that pops up” Ryan responds, an orgasmic glee taken in knowing that he plays a role in it all, “I can’t fucking get enough of it.” Sucking on her bottom lip, Jaime stands out of her chair and walks around the table, standing before Ryan and looking him in the eyes.
“Why do you hate me?” Jaime asks, the question turning Ryan’s smile into a grin, a simple ‘what?’ being offered back. “You seem to get off on my misfortune and take glee in my persistent suffering” Jaime replies, squatting close to the ground to come eye-to-eye with her opposite, “what was it that I did to you?” Head slightly askew, Ryan allows his smile to continue widening, answering with a question of his own.
“Why do you care?” Ryan responds, watching Jaime’s face contort with unease, her lower jaw protruding toward one side. “I’m invested in knowing what I could have possibly done to turn a supposedly well-off plumber into a willing criminal” Jaime replies, the man before her quickly arguing that he is no such degenerate. “You attempted to kill me” the woman responds, Ryan quickly arguing otherwise, “my only crime is being a bad shot!”
“Your crime is putting my fiance into a coma because you couldn’t kill me when you had the chance” Jaime quickly argues, Ryan’s response immediately falling out of his mind, its contents unimportant. “Agree to disagree” Ryan chooses to reply, Jaime’s nose crinkling with anger, nostrils flaring. Reaching into her boot, the girl removes her revolver and picks her bullet from her pocket, thumb gracefully sliding the brass-jacketed nub into the cylinder.
Sliding the revolving host, Jaime slams the firearm upon the table, her palm slowly removing itself from the weapon and leaving it within inches from Ryan’s own hand. “Go ahead, it’s your turn” Jaime remarks, the sound of a fist slamming against the two-way mirror proving to be a distraction. “Don’t think about it, Lazarus” Jaime calls back, her eyes never once leaving Ryan, continuing to remain frozen upon his.
With a nod, Ryan slowly reaches over to the weapon and picks it up, looking Jaime in the eyes before turning the barrel toward his own head. “What’s stopping me from taking this gun and shooting you in the face?” Ryan asks aloud, turning the gun away from his own head and pointing it toward Jaime’s, the woman’s expression never once changing.
“You” Jaime replies, Ryan’s handcuffed, dominant hand departing from his thumb as it pulls down the hammer, the trigger only needing one tug in order to fire. Squinting his eyes, Ryan leans closer toward Jaime and begins to laugh, amused at the scene that’s transpiring. “Wow, holy shit” Ryan responds, the only movement in the woman’s face being from her eyelids, their momentary blinks showing no emotion, “you really don’t fear death worth a damn, do you?”
With a disappointed sigh, Ryan lowers his aim partially, the gun now pointed toward her chest, his revelation. “This really reminds me of that one scene in ‘The Dark Knight’, y’know?- the one with Heath Ledger?” he replies, looking off into the distance, “You won’t kill me because of some weird fixation you have with understanding me, and I won’t kill you because it brings me less joy than toying with you does.”
With that, Ryan removes every finger other than his index from the weapon, the revolver dangling by the trigger guard from his extended digit. “You and I are destined to do this forever” Ryan concludes, Jaime reaching out to take the weapon back into her own hands, looking down the barrel before lifting the weapon toward the ceiling. With the gentle tug of the trigger, Jaime sends a weak, clicking noise through the room, the lack of a gunshot putting a frown on Ryan’s face.
“How did we end up in the pool again?” Chris wonders aloud, an amused Alex joining him in leaning on the pool’s infinity installation. “I don’t really know that it matters, do you?” Alex responds, sharing humorous banter with the man before the conversation steps back to reality, their world inescapable. “Do you ever find it fun to forget about how everything used to be sometimes?” Chris asks, admitting to his profession affording him great benefits, “it still feels better this way.”
With a shrug, Alex admits that it’s nice thinking of most post-catalyst things, regardless of how worrisome they tend to be. “I prefer the way it is now, but that doesn’t really say much” Alex admits, her ponytail-tied hair shifting with the rest of her head, “what about you?” Resting his chin upon the ever-flowing wave of water running over the lip, Chris admits that he would’ve preferred the world as it is now over everything that it once was.
“I don’t need to feel unappreciated with what I do, I don’t need to worry about debt anymore” Chris continues, moving through the wonders before stopping at the cherry of the metaphorical sundae, “plus, I never would’ve met you without all of this.” Flattered, Alex looks away from the man, eyes glancing back at the city before her chin is led back by Chris’ hand, the two facing each other once more.
Leaning in, Chris locks lips with the woman, a gentle kiss turning into two, which turns into three, and finally into four before being broken up. “Did I do something wrong?” Chris asks, watching Alex pull away, looking down in shame, her head shaking to refuse the notion implied. “No, you’re- you’re great! You’re seriously wonderful” Alex responds, unsure of how to react, “but I don’t think I should be doing this, and you’re nearly the same age as my daughter, and-”
Continuing to list the reasons to forbid herself from taking part in such a display, Alex begins to argue against what’s happening, though her reasons for doing so slowly shift to present her own self doubt. “I think you’re unsure about this- which is perfectly reasonable- but you’re unsure for the wrong reasons” Chris replies, Alex’s eyes lifting back toward him, awaiting his conclusion, “you shouldn’t have to hide from the things you want.”
Head falling again, Alex thinks to herself for a moment, the dead air allowing Chris to ask another question. “You do want to do this, right?” he inquires, the woman looking back up to him, still uncertain how to respond. “I- I think” Alex responds, trying to find a reason to leave, each attempt made coming with another reason to stay. “Do you want this?” Chris asks, cutting the question down further, laying it out in a simple fashion to find a resolution.
“I do” Alex replies after a moment of consideration, the man quickly pedaling back on the quick succession what evolves between them. “Let’s do this right then” Chris responds, pushing himself back toward the pool’s submerged steps, “we’ll go to dinner tomorrow night and see where things go from there.” Feeling like a weight has been lifted from her chest, Alex agrees, her date leaving a trail of water behind him as he returns to his car.
“Then I will pick you up tomorrow night at sunset” Chris concludes, leaving the woman with a smile, sun already beginning to set on the day. “It’s a date” the woman replies, while a still-soaked Chris departs without another word, his smile given back as he rounds the corner. Turning away from the path the younger man has left through, Alex looks back to the city, the massive towers in the distance blacked out as they are most nights, their sight giving her a sense of peace.
“Have we discovered anything new?” Jaime calls out, climbing through the fallen bramble in an effort to reach fire chief Fred Weller whilst Lazarus quickly follows alongside her. “We’ve definitely found something” the well-suited professional responds, reaching into his pocket and removing the casing of a small firework, noting that the presumed source of the spread appears to be a patch of black dirt, charred from the intense flames it had hosted.
“So the fires are coming from these little things?” Jaime replies, the dystopian-era Los Angeles always finding new ways to surprise her. With a shrug, she directs Fred to point her to the nearest crossing point between the flames, only able to find a small piece of timber already having been burned. “I don’t care what your job does and does not entail- go back to the hall” Jaime orders Lazarus, the man immediately arguing against such action.
“If you love something- set it free, big guy” the leader responds with humor, patting the man on the chest before removing the revolver from her boot, filling its cylinder with bullets, “I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.” Hesitant, Lazarus gives into the woman’s request without much choice, but refuses to leave the spot he currently occupies. “Suit yourself” Jaime says with a shrug, marching toward the charred remnants of timber and crossing through the burning woodlands.
Climbing over fallen trees, Jaime removes a flashlight from her hip and shines the dimmest setting through the desolate streets, a once thriving center now abandoned. With a groan, Jaime begins to walk the cut-off half of Los Angeles’ dark streets, whistling throughout her journey and signing a song. “There’s bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet...” Jaime chirps, her flashlight set to a higher brightness, “-no matter where you live.”
Continuing on, Jaime remains persistent in her exploration, eyes moving wherever the light in her hand does, every building called into question. “There’ll always be a few things, maybe several things…” Jaime sings, shining her light along the height of some rather-tall feats of architecture, “...that you’re gonna find really difficult to forgive.”
Aware of the irony behind the words she bellows, Jaime remains strong in her delivery, thumb pressing down on the button at the very bottom of her tool, giving the light a strobe-like effect. “There’s gonna come a day when you’ll feel better...” Jaime sings along, flashing her light down both ends of a street as she reaches an intersection, “...you’ll rise up free and easy on that day.”
Choosing one direction in particular, Jaime continues her unaccompanied venture, the light she carries continuing to flash along the ground. “And float from branch to brand, lighter than the air…” Jaime moves on, kicking up dirt as she walks, “...just when that day is coming, who can say?...” she moves along, the sudden jolt of movement from behind prompting her to quickly spin, light flashing in the movement’s direction, “...who can say?”
Stood in the middle of the road, Jaime presses her thumb upon the button once again, the strobe light steadying into one, highest-capacity brightness. Strolling toward an abandoned Chinese restaurant, Jaime flashes her lights through the doors, the colorful discard of something on the ground catching her eye. “Our mother has been absent, ever since we founded Rome…” Jaime sings, reaching down to retrieve an empty fireworks casing, “...but there’s gonna be a party when the wolf comes home.”
“Where’ve you been all day?” Julia asks, her brother strolling into her office with a pleased expression on his face. “I just booked a date with Alex Morris for tomorrow night” Chris replies, bobbing his head back and forth as the impressed grin on his sister’s face greets him. “You sly motherfucker” Julia responds, Chris quick to add the literal edge to the moniker.
“So where do we take this from here?” Julia questions, a notepad full of information thrown aside as she pulls her chair closer to the desk. “We use your connection with Jaime, and my connection with Alex, to get straight into the mix” Chris replies, the current vacancy of Chevy and Kayla presenting them the perfect opportunity to slip into their spots and take over from there, “we’ll have this city- and this regime- eating out of our hands in no time.”
Reaching into a drawer, Julia retrieves a glass of white wine and a pair of glasses, both placed upon the top of her desktop calendar. “I think this calls for a toast” Julia responds, the large bottle letting the beverage slip from its top and into the awaiting glasses below, “perhaps a celebration of the highest order in due time?”
Wrapping his fingers around the bottom of his glass, Chris raises his drink into the air with a smile, Julia following once hers has been filled. “To new beginnings” Chris toasts, his sister’s glass immediately lowering back down, the woman quick to point out the lack of inspiration that toast brings. “Fine, to total control of Los Angeles” Chris replies, the gesture begrudgingly agreed with by the woman, who returns her glass to the air and clanks it against her brother’s own.
“Los Angeles, do you copy?” Chevy calls back, pulling his finger from the PTT button, a few moments passing before he makes the definitive call, “we’re officially out of reach.” Switching transmissions, Chevy speaks into the radio toward the cars in the convoy behind him, Kayla sleeping against his arm in the backseat. “Make a footnote, we fall out of range from L.A just outside of Vegas” Chevy exclaims, acknowledgement offered one by one as the seconds pass.
“Boss?” the driver calls back, his finger pointing toward the distance, Chevy having to lean down to see what’s being pointed at, “is that our business or do we pass it?” Unable to truly figure out what he’s seeing at first, Chevy begins to describe what he perceives aloud, hoping someone would point him toward the right path. “I’ve got a big hunk of metal scattered through a field” Chevy responds, looking to the men around him, “what am I not seeing, boys?”
Before any of his fellow travelers can respond, a question is asked through the radio, the car immediately behind Chevy answering his question. “Is that the mayor’s helicopter?” the voice on the other end wonders aloud, Chevy immediately glancing down at the radio before looking back toward the scattered field. “Our business” Chevy replies, the driver looking back at him through the rear-view mirror for confirmation, “-definitely our fucking business.”
Directing all units toward the field, Chevy begins to slowly wake Kayla up, the woman quick to emerge from her slumber, looking out with the hopes of recognizing where they are. “We’re out of range from L.A, and we’re stopping at a crash site down there” Chevy explains, Kayla quickly looking toward the man with hope-filled eyes.
Kicking dirt across the ground as their wheels skid to a stop, the convoy vehicles park in the middle of the open sand, Chevy and Kayla being the first to emerge. “Everyone keep your weapons drawn in case we’ve got company” Chevy orders, he and his love both armed with semi-automatic pistols. “If any of you spot the deputy mayor, make yourselves known” Kayla adds, approaching the hunk of metal burnt to a crisp, its collision having made a slight crater in the ground.
“That’s the Los Angeles flag on the tail” Chevy exclaims, lucky enough to have spotted a well-preserved piece of the debris not too far off from the immediate impact. “It must’ve been saved from the flames” one of the convoy men exclaim, Chevy too busy climbing atop the wreckage to give such luck a second thought. “Pilots, two, both deceased, both burned obviously” Chevy exclaims, pulling himself up to the back of the bird for a better look, “no other occupants on board.”
“I can see why!” a voice calls out from the distance, the one man responsible for the exclamation stood atop a small hill of bramble. “You have our guy?” Chevy calls out, he and Kayla both leading the convoy toward the young man’s position, the grim look on the mate’s face suggesting such a truth.
Approaching the hill, Chevy and Kayla step over multiple fragments of burned or otherwise rotting flesh, a few bits of bone loitering the area leading to the grand finale. “He’s been decaying for a while, smells horrible, and isn’t very recognizable” the man explains, stopping himself to hold his arm over his face, keeping his lunch down long enough to walk away unscathed.
“That’s our guy” Chevy exclaims, looking down at Django Wenton’s nearly inhuman-looking corpse, his clothes still identical to the ones he was wearing upon his escape. “What the fuck took him down?” Kayla immediately wonders in astonishment, looking through the mostly-flat area and lack of tall structures in the near-distance, “they definitely didn’t hit anything.”
Stood over the decomposed corpse, Chevy holds his hand over both his own nose and that of his girlfriend’s, their eyes watering at the stench alone. “Whatever it is, I’d like to not stand around with our dicks in our hands waiting to find out” Chevy responds, moving his hand away from Kayla’s face and his own to spit on the corpse, their personal way of ridding their journey over concerns for the man’s whereabouts, “god bless America, I guess.”
== Dire ==