Season 4 Finale
/ Eight Months after the Fall of Sheol /
Groaning in his sleep, John tosses in bed beside his wife, the muffled thumping resonating in the distance progressively growing more noticeable over time. Within moments of first hearing the beckoning cries for attention, Jess staggers awake as well, rubbing the exhaustion from her face before shaking John awake. “Honey, I think someone’s at the front gate” Jess explains, John’s military background allowing him to brush off anything in order to get a little extra sleep.
Such a long amount of time gone without communication with another living person, John almost began to forget what it was like to share the world with someone other than his group. Having grown accustomed to the silence of night, the ruckus was easy for John to brush off, Jess’ insistence of there being survivors awaiting their response giving John the confirmation he needs to treat the signalling with the seriousness it deserves.
Groggily stepping out of bed, John and Jess find their dark room flooded with the lights from the motel walls outside, Meghan flicking on their room light before confirming Jess’ belief. Looking towards his fellow survivors, now awakened in the middle of the night with guns readied for whomever resides upon the other side of their metal divider, John marches towards the gate, giving the clearance needed for Cameron to reveal their comfortable interior to the world beyond.
Greeting those on the other side, a mother and father, joined by their son and daughter, thank the group for having allowed them into their home. “Did anyone follow you here?” John asks, his hand on his gun in the event he needs it, the family denying such a thing. “Our car ran out of gas just down the road” the father explains, “we didn’t mean to disrupt you or anything, we just saw lights on and knew someone would have to be here keeping them that way.”
The first to appreciate the sight of new people, Troy walks up to the family and offers them a handshake, their names given by the father accordingly. “I’m Winston, this is my wife, Harper” the father explains, “this is our daughter, Lucy… And our son, Damon.” Looking towards John, Troy gives a smile, one which the man opposite him gives an equal nod to. “Get them a room and some clothes” John orders, “some food, too, if we have some to spare.”
Strolling out of the woods with his arms extended, an aggravated Emilio calls out to John in an annoyed tone. “What the fuck are you doing just letting new people in the place?” Emilio asks, John’s hand extended outwards, telling Emilio to go back home. “We meet new people for the first time in damn near a year and you want me to go home?” Emilio asks, his tone splitting between sarcastic and mocking, “how about you go fuck yourself?”
Trying to brush past John, Emilio bumps his shoulder into the man, a gesture which John doesn’t take kindly to. Reaching out, John pulls Emilio around, staring the man down until Jess gets in between the both of them. “This shit is not going down now, I don’t care what you two think about it” Jess explains, calming the situation down, acting as the defusal.
“Now, let’s get to-” Jess begins, a struggle ensuing behind them, capturing their undivided attention in the moment, all three faces glancing back at the group a few yards away. Having stripped Troy of his weapon, Winston takes the young man hostage, Harper doing the same to Meghan, both held in a single-armed sleeperhold whilst the couple aims at anyone they don’t associate with.
In an instant, Damon and Lucy tackle Amy and hold her hostage all the same, an act which only puts John and Jess on pure instinct, their intentions of talking the family down from their pedestal fading the moment their daughter is pulled into the escalating tensions. “You keep your hands up and do what we say or we’ll kill all of you!” the family demands, their first declaration being for the group to set their weapons down.
“Sorry, but that’s not happening” Angela replies, her aim improving with each passing day, a suggestion immediately argued against by Emilio. “Everyone set your weapons down” Emilio calls out, John turning towards the man, whose attitude has evolved from anger to compassion. “I’m sure whatever you’re looking for, we can get for you” Emilio explains, his hands held out as he nods to John, “no one needs to get hurt here, just tell us what you need.”
Taking notice of Emilio’s genuine shift in attitude, John doubles down on the man’s order, instructing every resident of the camp to set their weapons down. Hesitant, the group does as told, every eye in the camp, the family’s included, now belonging to the trio at the head of it. “What do we do now?” Jess whispers to John, the man looking at the desperate eyes of the father, schizophrenically darting around the camp, panic settling in, telling John all he needs to know.
“Now we bide our time” John replies, swallowing the fear building up within him, betting on the ability of his group to pick their moments and deal with the issue head on.
= 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 =
“What’s the big plan?” John asks, his hands tied behind his back and his body tied to that of his wife, Winston’s back turned towards him, the rifle in his hand held to his chest. “Are you just gonna ignore me?” John wonders aloud, having taken great notice of the man’s refusal to acknowledge him by this point, “if you’re not going to talk to me, at least realize that you’re holding that rifle the wrong way.”
Despite making an effort to hide it, Winston’s head turns slightly to the side, his eyes taking themselves to the corner of his eyelids, drawing closer to the source of John’s voice. “You need to have your left hand on the side of the rifle, you currently have it on the mounting holes” John explains, the man turning his face back towards the window he stands in front of, hand slowly adjusting to the correct position.
“I’ve helped you, now you can help me” John explains, “what’s the plan here?” Acknowledging the need to stay fair, Winston owns up to his part, head remaining locked onto the sights of the camp from just beyond the glass as he admits that the plan is as simple as any other plan. “Harper’s gonna make sure this camp doesn’t need any more hands than we have to operate and then we take it from you” Winston explains, John smirking to himself in response.
“Great plan, I mean… It’s a true work of art” John returns, “you take our shit, dump us on the side of the road and have us fuck off… How original.” Disrespected, Winston laughs off John’s train of thought to share the same lack of respect. “We don’t let people go” Winston replies, the smirk on John’s face, whether genuine or an act, slowly fading upon this correction.
“We can’t take any chances you’ll come back here and try to take it back from us” Winston explains, “we’ll make sure your deaths are quick and painless, though.” Looking back to her husband, Jess’ face sprouts an immediate worry, John asking in passing whether or not they’ve killed anyone yet. “Whoever you had inside these walls is still alive for now” Winston explains, “we need whatever leverage we can if something falls out of place.”
“So you’re just using us as collateral?” Jess asks aloud, the sound of her voice prompting the man to turn around for the first time, verifying her suspicions.”I know it seems like we’re bad people, but we’re just doing what we have to for our family” Winston explains, his eyes locking onto both of his captives, “you understand, right?” Looking up to the man, John makes eye contact with his murderer-in-waiting, a simple “I will soon enough” as his response.
“Why did they leave us in a room alone together?” Katie asks aloud, her hands tied behind her back just as Jess and John are, only her body tied to that of a struggling Salem’s. “I have a feeling they think we can’t handle ourselves” Salem replies, “after all, we’re both foster care kids… So I wouldn’t expect much from us either if I didn’t know any better.”
“And what, you know better now that you’ve grown up?” Katie inquires, the woman smiling to herself with her head shaking. “Nope, I know better because I’m more scrappy than that” Salem responds, snapping the plastic binds behind her back and release her hands. “As I said, I’m pretty scrappy” the woman says, having freed herself in time to do the same for Katie.
Having regained their limited freedom, the girls race for the window and stare out from their second-floor room, finding Harper investigating the metal barrier they’ve constructed. “Think I can get a shot off?” Katie asks, reaching for her rifle until Salem stops her, suggesting they keep from taking attention upon themselves.
Hurrying to the other side of the room, Salem stares out across the length of the motel, the light in every room turned out, not a single figure perfectly visible in any of the windows. “I don’t know where we’d start looking” Salem explains, Katie suggesting they take their chance to escape while they have it. “She clearly thinks we’re all tied up well enough for her to look at the wall without worry that she’d get jumped” Katie explains, “let’s just stay quiet and close to the ground.”
Feeling his wife struggling, John keeps quiet, simply staring at the back of the man’s head, his ominous figure being illuminated, little by little, from the morning sunrise. Taking in a deep breath, John feels the struggling of his wife reach a fever point, the sudden sound of plastic snapping forcing him into action. In one fall swoop, John drops his jaw and tilts his head, Winston panicked at the possibility of something being off.
“What was that?” Winston asks, grilling the couple, who stare at him in confusion until John finally answers. “My neck?” the man explains, pulling his head upright again before explaining that he was simply stretching the muscles in his neck. “You’ve sat me on my ass for the last hour, this is the most stretching I can do” John explains, the man turning towards him, blocking out the sun, and affording John the momentary sight of two figures rushing across the lot.
“You wanna keep smart mouthing me?” Winston questions, growing closer to John’s face, the smile on the man widening as his stare towards the window grows noticeable. “No, but I think they do” John replies, prompting Winston to turn around in a hurry, watching Salem and Katie scamper across the motel lot. In a hurry, Winston bolts for the door, completely having forgotten about the couple, letting his guard down long enough for Jess to strike.
Her hands free of the tacky restraints, Jess drives a wooden shank through the man’s stomach, removing it from the place in which shes dug it into before driving it back again. Seeing his opening, John disarms Winston, letting his wife continue to bury the blade deep within his sternum, killing him slowly before leaving him to die in a pool of his own blood.
“Stop!” Harper shouts, both Katie and Salem stopped mid-effort, hands thrown into the air upon demand as they’re held at gunpoint. “Winston, we’ve got two unrestrained!” Harper shouts, the room her husband stands within unchanged, the door not bursting open as she expected. Calling for the man multiple times, Harper begins to worry for something to be off, only for the door to finally pull in slowly, John and Jess both emerging from within, armed once more.
“Drop the weapon” John demands, Harper’s rifle now held towards John, a standoff ensuing between the two until Harper calls for the last remaining reinforcements she has to offer. From another room at the end of the motel, Damon and Lucy drag Amy into the lot by the hair, both girls wielding small handguns, Lucy aiming hers at Jess, Damon aiming his own at Amy.
“Don’t give an order you’ll regret making” John warns, his suggestion falling upon deaf ears as Harper switches the tone of the conversation, asking for the status of her husband. “He had a change of heart” John mocks, “he wanted to be the one tied up this time.” Lifting her gun into the air, Harper fires off a shot into the sky before retaking aim at John, demanding to know the truth.
“He’s unconscious on the floor and I have his gun” John replies, the woman’s preferred choice of jumping to conclusions only strengthened when she notices the smeared blood on Jess’ shirt. “You killed him” Harper exclaims, John’s finger moving to the trigger quickly as the woman steadies her aim at him. Suddenly, three consecutive shots rip through the air, the first putting Harper down, the others putting down the two children, allowing Amy to fall from Damon’s grip relatively unharmed.
Looking around the air for the source of the shots, John and Jess find their eyes meeting those of Emilio’s, the man lowering his weapon upon the damage having been done. With a sigh of relief, John nods to the man stood upon the second level while Jess hurries over to Amy without a word. Nodding to the man, John watches Emilio nod back, appreciation shared between the two, and respect given where it is owed.
The day dying into night once more, the camp prepares for what they hope to be a full night’s worth of sleep this time around. “I’ll be back soon, I have to talk to Emilio for a quick second” John explains to his wife, giving her a peck on the lips before leaving the safety of the gated community. Traversing the wooded forest, John stumbles across Emilio’s cabin, the man in full view from the world, his head resting upon the palm of his hand.
A knock at the door drawing him in, Emilio finds John waiting for him on the other side, moving to the side to allow John entry. Arm extended, John watches Emilio inspect the bottle of wine in his hand, a token of appreciation on John’s behalf met with confusion. “I appreciate the sentiment, but I’ve stopped drinking” Emilio explains, graciously accepting John’s offer and using it as a decoration on his windowsill.
“You’ve cut off the booze?” John asks in surprise, Emilio flashing a smile back, admitting that he can’t move on from Bill if he’s spending every night with a drink in his hand. “It’s about time I move on and work for whatever comes next” Emilio explains, “so, while I won’t drink your bottle of cheap wine, I’ll accept it gratefully.”
With a nod, John tucks his hands into his pockets, making a passing comment about how nice it looks to see Emilio smiling again. “It’s been a while since it faded, huh?” Emilio questions aloud, John responding in agreement. “Listen, I know we’ve had our differences in opinion over… Well, pretty much ever since we met each other” John explains, “but you didn’t just look after the group today, you saved my family and I, too… I owe you my life for that.”
Waving off the gesture, Emilio reminds him that he just walked in with a free bottle of wine in his hand. “You’ve paid me back, we’re even now” Emilio explains, John refusing to fight the man on a front he knows he has no chance of winning, simply sharing a nod with him. Stepping back towards the front door, John stops himself, turning back towards Emilio with his hand raised.
“I never did say ‘I’m sorry’” John adds, Emilio’s eyes narrowing in confusion. “What happened with Bill, how you came in at Sheol… Hell, you probably saved my life back there and I didn’t even know it at the time” John explains, “I wish I could have done something… I wish I had said something sooner.”
Trying to give the man a smile, the pain Emilio keeps held within takes control instead, forcing the man to simply say he wished the same. “I wish he would have said something sooner, too” Emilio responds, “but I’m not about to let that consume me anymore than it already has.” With a nod, John returns to the door, walking through and leaving Emilio to enjoy the rest of his evening in peace.
Eyes glancing back to the wine bottle, Emilio notices his own reflection in the glass, flashing it a smile and moving on with his night. Walking back for the door at the sound of another set of knocking, Emilio greets John at the doorway again, the man looking Emilio in the eyes before reciting what Winston had said to him earlier.
“They would have killed us so we wouldn’t come back for them or what they took” John explains, Emilio unable to follow along from the sudden rush of thoughts popping into John’s head. “They’re psychos, murder is kind of the name of their game” Emilio replies, John’s head shaking as he accepts that they may have been onto something.
“I don’t know what it was about it, but it just stuck with me” John explains, “they felt it necessary to take no chances.” Pushing the door closed, Emilio lets out a sigh, rubbing his eyes before telling John that what he’s describing is another name for murder. “At this point, everything is another name for murder” John explains, “but if they used it to keep their small, out-gunned and under-sized group alive all this time, it must work!”
“Okay John, I get what you’re trying to say, but listen to what you’re saying” Emilio explains, “kill everyone else before they can kill you… Who does that help?” Not pleased with himself in saying it, John does so anyway. “Us, it helps us” John explains, “and after today, I’m not really sure anyone other than us matters to me anymore.”
With a smirk, Emilio rolls his eyes, his hands rubbing against his head at the suggestion that such lengths need to be taken on principle alone. “I think there are more effective ways of keeping ourselves alive than killing for the sake of beating other people to the punch” Emilio explains, a response John refuses to buy.
“Is that what you truly feel, or is that the politician in you?” John asks, Emilio’s smile fading into a look of uncertainty. “I’m not any more proud of it myself, but I almost watched my daughter die today” John explains, snapping his fingers to illustrate his point, “my whole family, torn apart at the seems as quickly as the snap my fingers just made.”
Staring Emilio in the eyes, John tells the man to listen to him carefully, promising that he means every word that he says. “The second anyone tries to harm my family again, I’ll make sure they never walk the face of the earth again” John explains, “and if I don’t give them any chances to do so, we’ll never run into that problem again.”
Considering his options, Emilio takes John’s point into account, accepting that some sacrifices need to be made in order to ensure the group’s survival. “Going forward, I’m making it a point” John explains, “we take no more chances.”
/ Now /
Blood filling his mouth, each gasp John takes is one that leaves him struggling for more, a sight Seth takes pleasure in finding. “Now that I’m the leader of Sun City, I’m making it a point to take down those responsible for putting us into such a tragic state to begin with” Seth explains, “so I’m going to start of my legacy as the leader of Sun City by bringing home the people responsible for putting us into civil disruption.”
Glancing towards Dawson, Seth nods to the man, allowing him to return to the militia itself. “I thank you for leading us here, Dawson-” Seth exclaims, watching the man walk on towards the Sun City army, reuniting with the people he considers his true family. “-But you’re also too willing to sell out your own for a place you don’t belong in” Seth follows, looking towards Dawson as the turncoat turns back towards him and firing a round from his rifle.
In the blink of an eye, the bullet rips through Dawson’s head, killing him instantly and allowing his lifeless body to drop beside John, who struggles to even turn onto his stomach. Eyes widened, the group watches Dawson’s corpse fall to the ground, Seth returning his gaze to them, explaining that a rat is always a rat, unless taken care of properly.
“Well there was your man” Emilio calls out, his voice flummoxed as he watches John struggle to gain any resemblence of strength. “Dawson was the one that put us on that island” Emilio explains, “we were nothing more than collateral in his game, as evident by him turning us in.” With a smirk, Seth accepts Emilio’s statement, agreeing with him on all counts other than one.
“It’s not just about bringing the person that actually did it to justice, it’s about making it look good” Seth explains, “and when I come home with a group of chaos agents, I’ll be made into a hero!” Using the last remaining strength he has, John spits the blood from his mouth and hurls himself to his feet, the gun Dawson dropped to the ground returned to John, the hands of it’s rightful owner.
“Holy shit, you’re a tough bastard to kill, aren’t you?” Seth jokes, readying his rifle in the event he’d need it once more, John’s gun wavering in the air, his body losing the strength to hold it up. On sight, Seth’s militia moves in closer, their weapons drawn at John while their designated leader treats the conflict with humor. “The brick” John mutters beneath the blood-filled gasps, Seth doing his best to translate John’s statements.
“I did kind of cause this, so I’ll help you out while you’re still here” Seth informs John, the man’s face flushed a death-white, blood running from the wound at an alarming rate. Doing as John instructs, Emilio reaches into the bag, handing a brick to Jess, who reads the note to herself. In shock, her eyes slowly widen, mouth opening slowly as Emilio takes the note, directing the group to stand back.
Stunned, Jess stares at John, refusing Emilio’s attempts to pull her back, instead staring into John’s eyes and shaking her head. “John, you can’t do this” Jessica explains, Emilio putting on an authoritative voice as he orders Jess to back away from the man. “I- I- I’m sorry” John replies, his back pressing against the gas pump, the blood from his wound running down the dirt-covered machines and staining the asphalt below.
“John we have to find Amy, we have to keep moving!” Jess shouts, pleading her case to John as Seth watches on, invested in this encounter as a spectator. “You two are a beautiful couple, and I’d root for you if I didn’t already know how this ends” Seth explains, “you shoot the gas pump thinking it’ll blow up, but because the oil is expired, it’ll merely make a hole and then I’ll let you bleed out some more.”
Flashing his blood-covered teeth towards Seth, John shakes his head, gun still aimed at Seth as Jess pleads with the man to find another way. “Go ahead John, take your shot or follow your wife to another way” Seth mocks, “you’re not gonna survive these injuries, it doesn’t matter in the long run anyway… None of this does.”
“Jess, you need to move back” Emilio exclaims, the militia no longer holding the group at gunpoint, a much more risky danger looming over the leader they’re designated protectors of, giving the group the greenlight to move back. “I can’t leave him here like this” Jess replies, John’s apologetic face staring towards Jess, watching her fight for his survival with all she can offer, knowing he’s to meet his maker regardless of the efforts.
“You’re starting to bore me John” Seth interjects, “take your shot so we can get this over with or let me put you out of your misery.” A tear running down his cheek as his face turns blue, no longer being able to get enough oxygen, John mouths two words to his wife, who watches on as she’s dragged away by Emilio, the man’s arms wrapped around her, ripping her back in desperation. “I’m sorry” John mouths, looking away from Jess and turning back towards an amused Seth.
“What’s it gonna be?” Seth questions, watching the blue progress rapidly over John’s face, his hand wavering desperately as he says his final words. “No chances” John exclaims through a breathless gasp, taking the gun from Seth’s head and redirecting it to the gas pump before pulling the trigger. Painting the dark blue, night sky a bright, fiery orange, John engulfs the gas station in a ball of fire and smoke, the ground shaking in the last act of sacrificial defiance.
Blown back, the group watches from the ground as the ball of flames turns into a dark, black smoke. Stunned into silence, the group feels the heat pulsate off their skin, Jess quick to return to her feet, crawling up the hill to survey the destruction. An ounce of pathetic hope remaining in her heart depleted upon the sight, Jess watches the flames stretch a massive radius, the possibility of survival from the source outright impossible.
Hurrying to her side, Emilio takes Jess by the shoulder and pulls her in close, the woman losing her composure and breaking into pieces, all expressed through the outpouring of tears. One by one, the rest of the group climbs the hill to see the damage for themselves, their hearts dropping one after another, the man they looked to for guidance being lost in a furious blaze.
From behind, the silhouettes of the group are all that can be seen, plastered against the backdrop of a raging fire. Keeping by Jessica’s side, Emilio looks on at the burning complex, the group he now finds himself the leader of watching on directionless, uncertain of where to go next.
== Rise ==