“I never thought I’d hear sounds like these again” Jess murmurs, a finger guiding the curtain from her bedroom window, her eyes watching Heather tend to the lawn from atop her mower’s throne. “Why not?” Amy replies, stood on the opposite side of the queen-sized bed from Jess, the kid-sized t-shirt in her hand folded elegantly and with care.
“Well, it just didn’t seem possible” Jess ripostes, allowing the curtain to slide off the side of her digit, its silky fabric back to covering the window, “everything seemed too broken to get better.” Her eyes falling, Amy lets the shirt in her hand join a pile of others near the bed’s edge, only able to muster the barest memories of the apocalypse’s early days. “Were there always bad people?” Amy finally inquires, the question not of the selections Jess had presumed she’d be forced to answer.
“Wh- what do you mean?” Jess responds, intrigued at the perspective of discovering her own daughter’s definition of the concept. “When you left me with Heather and Cam, I remember you telling me that you were leaving to stop bad people from doing bad stuff” Amy remarks, her eyes focused on the next shirt she presses against her chest to fold.
“Oh- you’re talking about Sheol” Jess replies, a slight relief coming over her, “uh, there weren’t always those kinds of bad people. But, well- yes, there have always been bad people.” Placing the next shirt upon the nearby pile, Amy’s head pokes up as she reaches for the next piece of laundry to prepare for storage. “What’s the difference?” Amy inquires, a pink top with a purple butterfly in its centre taken into her hand.
“Well, for a start, there used to be rules that kept things like what happened in Sheol from happening” Jess responds, taking a seat on her own side of the bed, “-rules that would have punished them for what they did so we wouldn’t have to.” Moving onto a grey top, Amy continues to fold her clothes as Jess talks, her mother beginning to lose track of the chore that had originally brought them to the room their conversation takes place in.
“Things got really messy when everything changed. There weren’t people around to make sure those rules were followed” Jess begins to conclude, taking a look toward her daughter, “so we punished them.” Nearing the end of her laundry pile, Amy takes a pause, looking off at the corner of the room whilst her mother remains silent, curious to the thoughts wandering inside the young girl’s head.
“What’s wrong?” Jess inquires, assuming from the near-minute Amy spends thinking that her mother’s explanation has brought upon a profound confusion. “So the people in that town did bad things because there weren’t people to stop them anymore?” Amy reflects, her mother’s bobbing head allowing her to make her own conclusion, “so, doesn’t that mean they were always like that?”
Attempting to speak, Jess finds herself silenced by her own consideration, latching onto the presumption her daughter has made for the accuracy it holds. “What makes you say that?” Jess remarks, the impressive discovery somewhat blurring the route Amy took to reach it. “You said there were rules to keep them from doing bad things. So, the bad started when the rules stopped” Amy responds, “that means they were always bad, but the rules stopped them from being bad.”
Her mouth agape, Jess stares at her daughter with widened eyes, her underestimation of Amy’s intellect dawning the sensation of utter shock. “Y- Yes, I- I guess you’re right” Jess finally regains her presence of mind long enough to reply, “how did you figure that out?” Returning to her chores, Amy gives her mother a shrug, now taking a pair of jeans into her hands.
“I dunno” Amy replies, digesting the question as if it were a maths problem, “Heather said that, when someone answers a question, I should pull it apart to see if the little pieces make sense.” Her pleased reaction starting to subside, Jess feels a disappointment roll over just as relief had minutes prior. “Heather taught you to do that?” Jess ripostes, watching Amy bob her head with a smile, pleased to give credit where it’s due.
Her pride wiped away in favour of defeat, Jess remains sat on her bedside as Amy prepares to return her pile to the drawers of her own bedroom. “It sounds like Heather taught you a lot” Jess remarks, doing well to hide the feeling of having been left behind in her daughter’s life, almost able to visualise the distance created in just the last few months.
Satisfied with her work, Amy places her hands at the top and bottom of her pile and turns for the door. “I’m gonna help Heather with the trees” Amy remarks, shuffling toward the door as her mother’s voice beckons her back. “Hey, honey!” Jess calls out, a sudden worry over the impending answer to her own question arriving the moment Amy turns to look back at her, “can I ask you a question?”
With a nod, Amy presses her shoulder against the wall and waits for her opportunity to answer, unable to decipher the issue lingering in the back of her mother’s mind. “Do you-” Jess begins, stopping herself as the anxious curl in her stomach begins to build, almost tempting her not to ask the question, though her relentlessness pushes through what stands in her way, convincing her otherwise, “do you love me?”
With a smile, Amy nods her head, her shoulders shrugging as she does. “You’re my mom” Amy responds, almost glad the question is so easy to answer, “I have to!” The moment her daughter’s rejoinder is spoken, the curl in Jess’ stomach punches at her heart, the pain that overtakes her poorly hidden by a smile that Amy struggles to discern from one of authenticity. Tears beginning to rest upon her eyelid, Jess’ head bobs, allowing her daughter to return to her room before the emotion consumes her.
As if she were hollow, Jess listens to her daughter’s answer on repeat, the final three words bouncing from one side of her head to the next with no end. Her core withering with each listen, Jess wipes the tear from her face and stares back to the window, curtain still draped before the midday sun. With a deep, aching sigh, Jess climbs off her firm mattress, her index finger parting the curtains once more.
With a glare, Jess looks past the sunlight that shines brightly in her eyes, her only focus placed upon the woman atop the tractor lawnmower. Her convulsing irritation converted into indelible scorn, Jess leaves her eyes upon Heather while her expression turns into bitterness, an incredible dislike taken to the woman beyond the panes of glass.
= Rise is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and the entity of Pacer1 from the start of Season 3 onwards =
“I don’t want to go to their party” Annie remarks, followed by Emilio as she makes her way to the sofa, holding a face stricken with exhaustion, her voice emptied of its common warmth. “I know that, I’m just forwarding the offer” Emilio quickly responds, stood over the same couch the woman begins to sink into. “And I’m declining it” Annie retorts, lifting a hand towel over her face as her head comes to a rest atop one of the pillows, “I hope you enjoy yourself.”
Her legs stretching down the sofa’s length, Annie rests her hands on top of her stomach and stops responding, holding out hope that the conversation will end as easily as it had begun. “Do you need anything from me?” Emilio inquires, letting a few seconds pass before raising the question, “I’m here for whatever you need.”
“If you can’t bring my husband back from the dead, then I don’t need anything” Annie replies, her frail voice growing weaker with every attempt to speak. Getting no further than he had upon arrival, Emilio nods his head and prepares to turn away, little left to offer now that his best suggestions have been turned away. Concealing his sigh, Emilio starts to leave the room, his hand raising to take the front door’s knob into his grasp, only for a sudden thought to cross his mind.
Drawn back to the home’s lone resident, Emilio skips to the question with no lead up, too invested in the answer to care about the manner in which the question is asked. “Do you blame me for what happened to Ryan?” the man blurts out, left to stare at Annie for the seconds that follow as she silently removes the towel from over her face. “What?” Annie calmly ripostes, pressing her elbows into the cushions to prop herself up, “why would I think that?”
“Because I was on the trip with him” Emilio responds, hands restlessly hanging by his sides, “I don’t know if, maybe somewhere deep inside, you blame me for not doing enough to keep him safe.” Flummoxed by the suggestion, Annie pushes her back against the seat’s armrest, her arms wrapping around her bunched-up legs. “Ryan didn’t need a chaperon” Annie remarks, hindsight beginning to make her wish he had, “he shouldn’t have even been out there in the first place.”
Silent, Emilio’s head falls, not needed to find a response as Annie raises her own question toward him. “Do you blame yourself?” Annie wonders aloud, watching the man’s eyes lift back toward her. “I think I should have done more” Emilio replies, whilst not overwhelmed by the grief of a life being lost, is clearly touched by the effects such loss has had on the woman before him.
“We all should have” Annie ripostes, not letting the pain cloud her better judgement, “I shouldn’t have let him go out on the hunts in the first place. If you don’t blame yourself, I can’t blame myself either.” His lips pressing together, Emilio remains silent, staring into Annie’s eyes whilst he answers with a nod, only able to accept what he’s being told.
The hallway he sits within lit rather poorly by the candles it’s lined with, Clint waits patiently for his name, amongst others, to be beckoned for. His right foot tapping against the old, wooden floor boards as seconds waste, Clint presses his back into the bench he waits upon, eyes not once moving from the door that separates him from the meeting that unfolds on the other side.
“Can you quit that?” Jack wonders from a few feet away, his voice the first thing to pull Clint’s mind away from the door ahead. “What?” Clint responds, watching Jack’s finger aim toward his own foot. “Your tapping, will you stop please?” Jack repeats, feeling the uneasiness the rest of his group shares once Clint’s foot collides with the ground for the final time, “thank you.”
Dressed in a white t-shirt and a pair of black jeans, Jack folds his left leg over the right, arms coupled in his lap as he waits for their names to be called. “It takes them an awfully long time to finish their greetings, doesn’t it?” Franklin muses, holding the same posture as Jack, though containing more suspicion than he cares to let on. “Patience isn’t much of a politician’s thing, is it?” Nessie jokes, dressed just as Jack, her left leg protruding further into the walkway than her right.
“I’ve met plenty of senators and state officials, and none of them ever took twenty minutes to shake my hand” Franklin remarks, letting his true thoughts peak from behind the contained veil he’s erected. “What exact suspicion are you trying to hint at us, Frank’?” Jack responds, eyes drifting to the largest of the four figures. “I don’t have one” Franklin replies, slowly redirecting his face to the man who’d asked the question, “but I suggest we don’t wait much longer.”
Lifting his chin, Jack’s eyes take to the ceiling as Nessie calls for Franklin’s focus. “We already showed up, we can’t just walk out” Nessie ripostes, her correction coming from Jack just as the statement finishes falling from her lips. “He’s not implying we should leave” Jack explains, gracefully climbing from his place on the bench, his hand beginning to stretch out for the doorknob, “he’s implying we should do this.”
Assuming control of the group’s motivations, Jack opens the door to the conference room and descends upon the nearby meeting. The first to follow Jack’s lead, Franklin propels himself off the bench, his hand pressing against the door’s exterior to hold it open for the siblings that soon follow closely behind.
At the group’s forefront, Jack steps through the short corridor that sits between the hallway and the ongoing meeting, only a few seconds separating their unrequested entrance and inevitable appearance. “Good afternoon” Jack warmly delivers, his hand reaching for one of the chairs in the first unoccupied quartet his eye catches, “we’re sorry for the tardiness.”
Along with a small number of armed militants, the allegiances of whom lie with either Rockford or the larger Nova Scotia territory, Rocky and a second woman sit on opposite sides of the table, a handful of other individuals occupying various chairs throughout the room. “Who are these people?” the unintroduced woman inquires, looking to Rocky with great curiosity.
“We’re the people whose guns are being used in this negotiation” Franklin responds, shouldering the conversation’s lead on his group’s behalf, “and who are you?” His question deflected, Rocky pulls his eyes away from his opposition. “Franklin, I did not call for the four of you” Rocky explains, a statement that both Franklin and the unnamed woman take interest in, though for very different reasons.
“We weren’t waiting around for your call. You invited us to this thing, we’ll show up if we feel we’re being neglected” Franklin remarks. “I’m sorry, you invited these people here?” the woman replies, attention taken back toward Rocky. “Because these meetings aren’t fair to us! We’re always left screwed over by the people up north!” Rocky ripostes, his left hand balled into a fist as it rests on the table, “I figured it’d be good to have some people in my corner.”
“Let’s not overlook the fact that over seventy percent of the stockpile you’re negotiating with are our guns” Franklin responds, sitting with Jack and Nessie to his right, whilst Clint occupies the seat to his left. “How did the four of you take on an ammunition pile of over four hundred guns?” the woman questions, immediately suspicious of their claim.
“You’ve seen the stockpile, you know it exists. How we got it is not of your concern” Franklin replies, standing from his seat with his hand outstretched, “Franklin Carter, and you?” With squinted eyes, the woman looks at Franklin’s hand before turning back toward Rocky, almost as if looking for a hint of how to respond. “If I’m going to say another word, I want to refer to you by name” Franklin reassures, keeping his hand extended.
Her arms draped over the armrests of her chair, the woman stares into Franklin’s eyes for a few seconds longer, slowly taking her sights toward the man’s hand. Brushing off the whispered voices that attempt to sway her mind elsewhere, the woman stands from her seat, taking Franklin’s hand into hers. “Courtney Golden” the woman ripostes, breaking the handshake after only a few seconds, “now tell me where you got the fucking guns.”
Dressed in jean shorts and a purple tank top, Lauren walks alongside Angela as they enter a crowded mansion, music bouncing off the home’s marble walls, and the distant cheers of pleased guests flood each hallway not too dissimilar to the flow of lava through the doomed streets of Pompeii. “This is almost too much room for a Walmart, let alone one man” Angela murmurs in awe of the building’s size.
“Is that jealousy I’m picking up on?” Lauren mocks, the colourful lights dancing over Angela’s all-white dress. “No. It’s my way of saying that, with a house like this, he better not be offering cheap beer” Angela answers, playfully patting Lauren on the shoulder, “I’m gonna sneak off for a few. I’ll catch up with you later.”
Dashing off into the evening just as she had arrived, Angela leaves Lauren to the frat-like party happening in each of her directions. Beer pong tables set up throughout the main foyer and front yards, kegs prepared in nearly every corner, and furniture adorning every last spot of solid ground, the usually well-maintained home spends its night hosting a scene of anything but.
“You’re a lot easier to spot out from a crowd than I thought” Grace remarks from afar, climbing over various people as she descends the nearest stairs. “Just look for the person that’s off on their own and surrounded by no one- that’ll be me” Lauren responds, openly accepting of her lack of interaction. “It was more the ‘fish out of water’ look and great set of tits that helped you stand out, but sure- what you said!” Grace quips, offering one of the two cups of booze in her hand.
“What’s this?” Lauren inquires, peering into the unfamiliar cup the moment it reaches her fingertips. “I’m not sure, but I think it’s a mixture of many different things” Grace replies, already beginning to lead Lauren through the huddled mess of people gathered in drinking circles. “Donnie!” Grace exclaims, her top teeth biting into her bottom lip as she enters the kitchen.
“Hey” Donnie ripostes in a somewhat callous way, his hand limply guiding itself over Grace’s shoulder. His cheek pecked by his girlfriend’s lips, Donnie offers his free hand toward Lauren, introducing himself. “I’m Donnie” the man greets, watching Lauren’s head casually pull back. “I know, we’ve met before” Lauren responds, resting her hand on the top of Donnie’s own before guiding it back toward his side.
Without apology, Donnie nods with no other word to offer, Lauren’s explanation simply taken for fact. “Lauren works with me at the disposal plant, remember?” Grace corrects, “the barbecue? Back in March? I introduced you to her while you were flipping burgers?” Only able to muster up a shrug, Donnie turns back to his drink. “I don’t remember, sorry” Donnie continues, the hand he’d rested upon Grace’s shoulders now moving to his side, “if you’ll excuse me.”
Lowering himself into a beach chair, Emilio’s orange-tinted face pulls toward the sky, eyes staring directly into the twilight’s onset. “I prefer doing this when it’s not in the middle of a forest during winter” Salem confesses, lifting the rim of a cold beer to her lips. “I’ll second that” Alicia remarks, her eyes watching the flames in their firepit ascend.
“It almost makes me nostalgic for the zombie days” Emilio adds, cargo shorts covering his thighs, a short sleeved button up worn over his chest. “It reminds me of those nights we spent on the road. Remember?- those very first few months?” Salem remarks, her eyes set upon Alicia, “I don’t even remember where we were going, but I know where we ended up every night- right back in a forest somewhere.”
“We weren’t going anywhere” Alicia answers, her smile stretching from ear to ear, “you had a thing about not wanting to settle down somewhere. You just wanted to keep moving.” The memory returning to her, Salem’s head begins to bob. “Oh yeah, and we had that beast of a pickup!” the woman recalls, her head lowered back onto the chair she sits upon, “what ever happened to that thing?”
“I’m sure Neville put it to use somehow. It’s probably off somewhere collecting dust” Alicia assumes, “probably the same fate as that truck John took out to Connecticut.”
“Oh, I forgot about that truck!” Emilio blurts out, slapping his forehead in disbelief, “we were catching a ride into Sheol from somewhere. I think we just left the thing under a tarp in the woods.” His head shaking, Emilio grabs a cup of lemonade by the rim, a brief sip from it affording him another thought. “Is it not insane that we made it this far?” Emilio inquires, looking to the women he sits with, “that we can look back at when it started with good memories?”
Dropping her head along with the smile, Salem’s hands wrap around both sides of the bottle, its glass casing reflecting the bright orange embers. “Who’s to say it’s not over?” Salem replies, raising her eyes toward Emilio and Alicia despite her head remaining hung, “we’ve seen it before- it doesn’t take much to turn people against their leader.”
“These people are different” Emilio quickly corrects, not letting the idea do much more than linger on his mind, “these people don’t have the same instinct as the people that survived the start of the outbreak.”
“That doesn’t matter” Salem quickly retorts, neither voice raising any louder than their common tone, “as long as the world is the way we left it, we’re a stone's-throw from being right back where we started.”
His argument quashed, Emilio looks back to the fire, uninterested in outright bending his knee to Salem’s assessment.
Climbing out from her passenger’s seat, Jade’s feet tap along her parkway’s asphalt as she approaches the figure ahead. “You’re not gonna hold me at gunpoint again, right?” the woman inquires, her eyes set upon the front door to 18 Rawson, where Jess sits waiting for her presence, “I gave you Amy back, I’d appreciate you letting me inside.”
Wiping her hands on her jean-clad thighs, Jess pushes herself off the step, both hands held by her head as she approaches Cumberland’s commander. “I’m only here to ask you for a favour” Jess responds, watching Jade’s face light up as she holds back a chuckle. “Was letting you invade my home and walk away without punishment not enough?” Jade remarks, shuffling her fingers into the pockets on her waist.
“Was what you said about parents and Nova Scotia true?” Jess inquires, her approach stopping a few feet away from her once-prisoner, “the first people to go north were parents and their children?” Eyelids narrowing, Jade begins to make her assumptions of where this favour is leading. “The first people to Nova Scotia are expecting parents, the second people are parents with children” Jade answers, her left knee arching as her back leans.
“What happens with Amy when the next trip is made?” Jess inquires, providing no further context than what her questions offer, “who’s going with her? Is it me, or is it Heather?” With an exhale, Jade peers off into the night, only able to answer with a shrug at first. “I don’t know what decision I’ll make yet” Jade replies, her dark hair flowing perfectly over her shoulders, “at the end of the day, whoever goes with her is up to me.”
“I’m her mother- her real mother- I birthed her, I raised her, I kept her alive when the dead came back” Jess argues, jumping directly into her presence’s purpose, “that is my daughter.” Her lips coloured maroon, Jade’s pearly white smile shows itself to Jess, its origins stemming to genuine amusement. “You held my brother at gunpoint and threatened to kill me if I didn’t let you see her” Jade retorts, “pardon me if I have a hard time believing you’re what she really needs right now.”
Attempting to continue with her night, Jade steps forward, her intentions set on returning home without confrontation, though Jess proves such hopes to be impossible. “I’m not what she needs right now? She doesn’t need her mother right now?” Jess ripostes, her hand pressing against Jade’s chest as she moves the woman back, “who the fuck are you to tell me what’s in my daughter’s best interest?”
“I don’t know, how about the fact that you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me? Is that a good start?” Jade counters, swiping Jess’ hand away from her chest, “or maybe it’s that Heather taught your own daughter so much more than you ever did.” Her face souring even more than it already had, Jess stares at Jade without a word, simply unable to think of a response.
As Jade pushes past her, Jess’ eyes remain fixated on the spot Jade once stood upon, the anger she conceals guiding her hand to the grip protruding from her side. “Oh, and one more thing” Jade remarks, turning back to face Jess, who quickly pulls her hand away from the weapon, “if you ever touch me again, I’ll fit your teeth around the curb and lay a boot into the back of your head.”
Her warning ushered, Jade steps into her home and shuts the door, leaving Jess stood in the middle of the road, staring into oblivion with no understanding of the emotions she feels.
“The guns are ours, we’ve fulfilled your quota, and we’re owed the agreed-upon share” Franklin explains, a disgruntled expression worn on Courtney’s face the longer she speaks, “anything less operates against the arrangement made in Nova Scotia’s deal with Rockford.”
Her hand pressed against her mouth, Courtney looks at Franklin without a word, her mind still wrapping around the cards dealt. “Why is it always you one-armed people that fight the hardest?” Courtney mumbles beneath her breath, pushing herself out of the chair as her attention is pulled toward Rocky. Sucking on the corner of her lip, Courtney presses her hands against the table, its glossy finish resting calmly beneath her warm touch.
“I can't” Courtney sighs, wiping the hopeful look off of Rocky’s face with the shake of her head, “you’ll either get what you’ve always gotten, or you get nothing.” Whilst not surprised, the sense of betrayal hits Rocky harder than he’d expected it to, feeling the answer truly set in the moment Courtney turns her back to him. “We had a deal!” Rocky shouts, joining Courtney in climbing to his feet, “you owe us a fair share!”
Matching Rocky’s angry tone, Courtney twists back, furthering the argument as their visitors watch on. “Do you know how long we’ve waited for you to start pulling your weight? If anyone owes anyone anything, you owe us!” Courtney shouts, each continuation of the conflict drawing the armed support closer to getting involved. “You fucks made it impossible to produce to your standard!” Rocky argues back, face turning bright red, “you’ve been using us for years now!”
Turning away, Courtney gathers her belongings, repeating her original conclusion. “Leave the weapons at the docks, and we’ll drop off the same shipment you always get” Courtney explains, doing no favours to her perception in the man’s eye. “Excuse me, but those are our weapons” Franklin interjects, watching Courtney’s face turn in his direction, “and, unless you give us what we want, you’re not laying a finger on our property.”
Zipping up a small knapsack closeby, Courtney lets the conversation resume, her attention given to the large man across the room from her. “Those guns belong to Nova Scotia now” Courtney responds, looking into the man’s eyes as she approaches slowly, “they’re our property because we said so. If I were you, I’d start losing my affinity for them.”
“And if I were you, I’d start noticing that you’ve got no leverage in this argument” Franklin retorts, stepping out of his seat to meet the woman halfway, his tall frame immediately presenting Courtney as inferior in comparison. “Let’s be honest, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back- metaphorically speaking” Franklin explains, “as soon as Rockford’s people know that Nova Scotia is outright choosing to neglect them, your brothers and sisters up north will lose a settlement.”
Taking the man’s claims as a joke, Courtney chuckles as her nose points upward, guiding her eyes toward Franklin’s. “We control the northeastern coast, and we’ve manufactured all the weapons we’ll ever need” Courtney remarks, playfully tapping the man’s chest with the back of her hand, “stop acting like Rockford’s irreplaceable.”
“Maybe you should stop acting like it is” Franklin quickly counters, not once dropping his eyes from Courtney’s, “while we’re being honest, let’s also point out that the guns have nothing to do with Rockford’s value to Nova Scotia. No, no, no- it’s the docks that do.” Her confident mask slipping, Courtney’s eyes narrow just slightly enough for Franklin to notice, his past career giving him the experience to know that he’s already found the woman’s soft point.
“If it were about guns, you would’ve cut Rockford off completely. After all, that’s what your leader did down in Delaware” Franklin persists, drawing a precise interest in the man’s claims. “How do you know it’s a woman?” Courtney inquires, just now beginning to feel the silent threat imposed by those she stands before. With a chuckle, Jack stands to his own feet, joining beside Franklin to add an illustration to her well-hidden worries.
“We’ve gone to war with your leader before, and spoiler alert- we won” Jack replies, continuing to chuckle, “you see, ask your leader what the New World Order was and I’m sure she’ll remember us. And again, spoiler alert- we won.” Having entered the room with suspicions placed upon the settlement they call home, Franklin and Jack exude a confidence the likes of which spell terror for those high up within Nova Scotia that stand in their way.
“You can’t supply the rest of the settlements without our docks. It was the New World Order’s fatal weakness, and now it’s Nova Scotia’s” Franklin remarks, continuing to lay in the cold truth, “and we’re happy to wait out however long it takes for the settlements you need our docks to supply to change their tune on that fair share.”
Nostrils flaring, Courtney’s eyes pull away, her head shaking as her eyes roll. “I can’t give you what you want” the woman finally ripostes, needing to pull away from the pair she’d stood before in order to reclaim her wits, “this isn’t a decision Nova Scotia made.”
“Well then, I guess we know what the leader’s conference I wasn’t invited to was about” Rocky responds, watching Courtney’s eyes dart toward him, her facade left to the past. “Fine, yeah- the other settlements are too comfortable with the status quo. And most of their populations are actually increasing, so that only worsens the problem” Courtney remarks, too constrained to do much else than come clean, “you were lacking behind. They thought they could use that to take advantage of the ports.”
His head hung, Rocky’s fate is put to stone, no amount of work he can manage being good enough for his superiors north of the border to free his people of their torture. “I don’t like it either, but liking the decisions they make isn’t my job” Courtney explains, throwing the paramotor over her shoulders. Peering up at the woman, Rocky lets out a deep breath, resigning to the challenge that now awaits him.
“Thanks, Courtney” the man replies defeatedly, moving aside to allow the woman and her armed detail to pass. Disappointed, Courtney follows her soldiers around the table, her eyes initially set upon the exit before a second thought occurs to her. Her soft hand resting on Rocky’s shoulder, Courtney lowers her face to the man’s ear, whispering away from the attention of anyone else.
“They might come to take them by force, but if you close the ports down, it might do enough to get the message across” Courtney explains, departing with a pat on the back and a nod in Franklin’s direction. The door closing behind her, Courtney leaves Rocky with those that remain, Rockford’s governor leaving his attention on their shoulders.
“I’m still a man of my word” Rocky remarks, watching the four eyes keep upon him, all anxious to figure out where the next steps reside. “Can I trust the four of you?” Rocky inquires, swiping the long, grey locks of hair away from his face. “As long as you’re still able to get us to Nova Scotia, I don’t think we’ve given you any reason not to” Franklin ripostes, looking to his side to watch Jack nod.
“I was wrong about what I said earlier- about not caring what happened to this place” Jack admits, accepting his desire to see Rockford be given what’s due, “if it doesn’t fuck us over, let’s make sure Nova Scotia pays.” Taking a glance in Clint and Nessie’s direction, Jack’s mind wraps around Courtney’s confession. “Either we just got lucky, or we got our confirmation that Charlotte’s still running the show” Jack concludes, “from the way I see it- it’s personal now.”
Letting out a sigh of relief, Rocky steps around the table and departs the room, nodding to himself silently as Franklin’s group is left to stay behind. “I don’t think this is going to end well” Nessie murmurs, an admission the rest of the group hears, but does not interact with, their eyes set fully on what Rockford holds in store.
== Rise ==