Season 5 Finale
His body shifting with the last of his big rig’s forward momentum, Rocky slows the vehicle to a halt, pushed back into his seat as the tires finally roll to a stop. “We’ve been on the road for almost thirty hours, Rocky” Franklin remarks groggily, having made up for lost sleep over the last few hours, “I’ll ask again- what’s the plan?”
In pause, Rocky peers through the windshield, the unimpressive entrance to the settlement allowing him to leave space in his heart for optimism. “Well, it may be a tall ask, but I reckon this place can be humane if you treat it right” Rocky replies, his left hand lying limp on the top of the steering wheel, “I’m sure they can take some of us in. All of us, however, is unlikely.”
“Are- that’s- that’s your plan?” Jack quickly speaks aloud, “throw fire at the problem and hope the people- who I’d like to remind you, voted against that fair share you were after- decide to forgive and forget?” Swaying his head, Rocky casts the man’s concerns aside, already too devoted to the idea he’s conjured in his mind.
“Do you prefer sneaking off into the woods and living life in hiding?” Rocky rejoinders, “good luck strolling your way into Nova Scotia then!” Regret beginning to consume him, Jack presses his hands onto his lap as he gathers breath, his mind too full to continue the conversation. “Listen, if the four of you hadn’t shown up, I’d still be in Rockford counting down the days to a revolution- but I’m not” Rocky continues, aware of the lack in susceptibility within the crowd he panders to.
“Not only do I owe the four of you that ticket to Nova Scotia, but I owe my people a home” Rocky begins to finish, letting his door open as he does, “if I’ve got to get on my knees and grovel, so be it. You do what you need to do.” Nothing left to say, Rocky climbs down from his seat in the cabin, both Jack and Franklin left to look at each other with silence, the latter man following Rocky’s lead in exiting the vehicle.
“How’s it going, friend?” Rocky wonders aloud, enough anxiety over the world he enters to guide his hand toward the package of darts in his shirt pocket, “it’s a lovely evening, ain’t it?” Nervously strolling around the truck’s front, Jack and Franklin hang back, watching the man speak from a safe distance. “What’s his plan?” Nessie whispers, equally as out of the loop as Clint, who follows her closely as they reunite with the men ahead.
“Please back your trucks away from the gate” Sal replies, stood atop a platform in a nearby tree, armed with an automatic rifle and a full view of the world beyond the border wall. “Hold up, we’re not looking for any trouble, and we’re not here to hassle you folks” Rocky replies, holding the tobacco end of his dart over the small flame of his lighter, “we’re just hoping for a little hospitality.”
“We hold no hospitality for turncoats” Sal replies, his rifle aimed toward the ground, though both hands rest upon it in preparation, “there’s no welcome for people like you in Cumberland.” The hand he holds his dart in falling to his side, Rocky exhales a cloud of smoke, eyes kept on the man above. “They weren’t the turncoats, I was” Rocky returns, beginning to worry his efforts may be for nothing, “screen them, take in the people you want. Do whatever you feel you must and I’ll go.”
“You’re a wanted man, Rocky” Sal replies quickly, passing a nod to the subordinates that remain hidden from Rockford’s view, “you won’t make it far regardless.” Pulling another drag, Rocky shrugs, holding back the intake as he responds. “All the more reason to give the rest of them a chance!” Rocky continues, letting the smoke escape through his nostrils, blown back by the steady winds that flow from the east, “you can turn me in and get yourselves a nice little reward from the big guys.”
Pulling his weapon a few inches away from his hip, Sal prepares himself for whatever outcome may emerge of his refusal. “We’re not obligated to do right by the people you made the choice to neglect” Sal reiterates, voicing the orders of those who’ve given them to him, “and for the record, we’re not in a place to support an increase of a few thousand citizens even if we wanted to- which we still don’t.”
His teeth clenched, Rocky takes in another pull of his dart, the cloud held in his lungs for a few seconds before finding its way to the air beyond his lips, no words uttered throughout that time. “I have people that could be of value to you. They’re strong people, I’d argue they’re as dedicated as any” Rocky pursues, paying no mind to the subtle shake of Sal’s head, “at least give them a look?”
“We’re not accepting any of your residents, Rocky” Sal reaffirms, holding stiff in the upholding of his orders, “I’m not breaking policy for some ungrateful saps.” His worry having turned into disappointment throughout the conversation’s length, Rocky’s eyes take on a squint, offence taken to the claim that now draws an annoyance out from him, the dart silently guided back to his lips.
“Ungrateful saps?” Rocky soon murmurs beneath his breath, almost reaching the depths required to certify it as a growl, “ungrateful saps!?” he shouts back, this time much louder. “We’re fed scraps because we made one tiny mistake, can’t afford to feed ourselves well because of one tiny mistake, and that makes us ungrateful!?” the smoker yells, pacing around the front lot in a fit of anger, “that’s real easy to say when your greedy ass is fed with our food!”
“Turn your vehicles away from the gates, Rocky” Sal repeats, worriedly holding his weapon a few inches further toward the desperate leader, though he remains confident in his speech, “you’re not winning this one.” His narrow eyes widening, Rocky stares at Sal for another few seconds, inspecting the weapon the man holds at his waist. Pupils dilated, Rocky begins to turn away, nodding his head as he quietly pulls another drag from his dart.
“Sir, we’re sorry for showing up like this. If we could go back, I’m sure we’d all prefer to meet on better terms” Jack calls out, earning Sal’s attention as he takes over for Rocky, “in fairness, Rockford’s been cut short for years. I’m sure no reasonable man could blame anyone for wanting the pay they feel they’re ow-”
Stood there in one moment and gone the next, a single bullet rips through Sal’s skull just as Jack prepares to finish his plea, the smoking gun far closer than they’d wish it were. “Everyone in the fucking trucks!” Rocky exclaims, the dart he’d come close to finishing tossed into the gravel as he climbs back into the big rig, returning his handgun to the holster on his side.
“What the hell did you just do!?” Jack barks, an unmistakable anger coursing through his body. “Calling an audible!” Rocky shouts back, slamming his rig’s door as he transitions the vehicle into drive, his foot slamming on the gas pedal without offering Jack’s group the opportunity to climb aboard. His wheels spinning in the dirt, Rocky forces his tractor trailer through the gates and continues driving, entering Cumberland’s quiet, midnight streets by force.
“Come on, we’ve gotta go!” Nessie calls aloud, waving for Jack and Franklin to join Clint and herself in the seats of a nearby SUV. Without yet knowing it, Jack and Franklin’s decision has already been made, the eighteen wheelers, trucks and other vehicles riding into Rocky’s shadow only clarifying their destination. Unable to turn back any longer, Jack and Franklin take the siblings up on their offer, joining them in the convoy vehicle just as it couples with the herd.
= 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 =
“Are you sure they’re at the diner?” Emilio hurriedly asks, rushing from one end of the house to another as sirens blare throughout the streets. “They only left forty minutes ago, I seriously doubt they made the twenty minute walk, sat down and finished their meal already” Alicia calls back, holstering a loaded handgun onto her side, “even if they did, I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t hide out somewhere.”
His boots clattering against the floor, Emilio dashes into the kitchen, his hand reaching into a drawer close to the floorboards, where his hand axe lies waiting. “Alright, keep away from the windows and stay close to the ground” Emilio warns, watching Alicia dig her spear out from behind the coats of their nearby closet. “If things get bad, we run for the cellar” Emilio continues, his hands resting upon Alicia’s shoulders, “you’ve got a baby on board- don’t go playing superhe-”
The sound of gunfire cutting him off, Emilio pulls Alicia to the floor with him, each bullet that’s fired coming increasingly closer. His body laid over Alicia’s own, Emilio waits for the storm to pass, soon discovering himself to fall directly in the middle of it. The bullets now reaching their home, Emilio presses his hands to each ear, shielding himself from the shards of glass that fall upon their hardwood floors, bullets ripping through their home with intent to kill.
Removing the weapon from Alicia’s holster, Emilio throws himself into the wall just beside the window, prepared to return fire. “Get to the basement, I’ll cover you!” Emilio exclaims, blindly opening fire on the gunmen before any attempt to dissuade him can be offered.
Left with no further choice, Alicia retrieves her spear from the floor and makes a run for the sublevel, the door left open in hopes of Emilio following. Her footsteps shifting the unsteady bannister, Alicia reaches the bottom step, the poorly lit cellar that surrounds her doubling as a rather large concrete crypt, only the sounds of war aid in making her new surroundings less intimidating than they truly are.
“Alicia, get down!” Emilio yells from above in a horrifying scream, his voice guiding the woman’s eyes back the way she’d arrived. For a brief moment, Alicia can see Emilio’s figure hurry past the door through the small crack she’d left open, his hands immediately pressing the door shut on his way by, never once thinking to join her below. Recalling Emilio’s advice, Alicia sprints over to a stack of rubber tires, dropping to the ground right beside them just as the house begins to quake.
In a sudden moment, the ground moves, every light in the home goes dark as the world above explodes, a roaring blast the most appalling event of them all. Though the debris still rains, the second-long detonation subsides, the damage it’s done, even from an unaware eye, easy to assume. Peering toward the top of the staircase, Alicia finds the same sight she’d seen just seconds before, the only difference being the various cables that sway from the commotion.
Funnelling through the diner’s entrance, wait staff and patrons spill into the chaos-ridden streets, accepting the risks as they tempt fate into taking them swiftly. “They’re all gonna get themselves killed” Angela remarks, following Salem and Lauren to the diner’s kitchen, the three women holding more composure than every other customer combined. “Get whatever looks like the best weapon” Salem commands, leading the charge into the prep area, “we might need it.”
“Who the fuck did we piss off so bad!?” Lauren grunts, very distant bursts of gunfire still herd through the kitchen’s walls. “Whoever it is, they’ve got quite the arsenal” Salem responds, her eyes taken toward a rubber mallet resting just beside the kitchen counter. “It doesn’t matter who we pissed off, it matters that we find somewhere safe” Angela replies, her fingers wrapped around the base of a rolling pin, “Unless they like Betty Crocker, I don’t think we stand much of a chance here.”
Her boots tapping against the kitchen’s tiled floor, Salem approaches the building’s rear exit, peering through the window and into the alley beyond. Letting her breaths calm, Salem considers her choices in silence. “Whether my odds are high or low, I don’t care” Salem answers, turning back to look her friends in the eye, “I’m gonna make my dues out there, either join me or don’t- I won’t make the offer twice.”
“Hell no!” Angela shouts back, taking no time to even consider the offer made, “I’ll find somewhere safe to settle in.” One answer offered, Salem turns her focus onto Lauren, her hand pressing against the rear exit door, ready to hurry into the night. “I think I’ll stay back, too” Lauren replies with a shrug, “diners haven’t been too bad to me in the past.”
With a huff, Salem gives the women a nod as she steps into the alley, “good luck” she mutters, shielded by nightfall as she sprints into action. “Excuse me?” a jittery waitress inquires, stepping into the kitchen from the larger diner, noticing Lauren and Angela’s figures through the serving hatch. Turning silently, the women acknowledge the worker, waiting for her to speak up.
“I- I’m Nia” the waitress murmurs, again receiving no more than a silent stare from the survivors. “O- ok?” Lauren responds, waving her hand to motion for the waitress to continue speaking. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting people to be back here” Nia nervously replies, trying hard to place her mind at ease.
“Ha! Hahaha!” a deranged voice exclaims from the diner, firing his rifle off as he bursts through the doors. Throwing herself behind a stack of crates, Lauren pulls her knees close, the knife she’d claimed possession of readied at her side. Less fortunate, Angela and Nia squeeze into a corner, Angela’s shoulders touching two sides of the same wall whilst Nia trembles against her, her heavy breathing amplified by the tight corners they reside within.
“Order up!” the voice cheerfully exclaims, enjoying his rampage slightly more than others would. Skipping into the kitchen, the man begins to fire rounds into the ceiling, his attention taken from the clouds of debris that fall upon his shoulders the moment his ears catch a squeal from afar. “Hello?” the man calls out, his insane persona set aside in favour of a more natural tone, almost wholesome in a way.
Raising his firearm toward the kitchen’s exit, the man steps forward, the weapon trembling in his grasp. “Come on out, little one” the man says menacingly, squeezing the trigger once, a bullet ripping into the drywall at the kitchen’s rear. Catching another squeal, a smile breaks out along the gunman’s face, his eyes lighting up with joy as he pulls the trigger for a second time.
“All of this food should have been mine!” the man roars, pulling the trigger for a third time, “you dirty fucks have been eating off my plate!” A fourth, fifth, and sixth pull of the trigger emptying the magazine, the man proceeds forward, toying with those that lie in wait like prey as he reloads. “I’m so glad Rocky finally got the big picture! Your camp is ours now!” the man cheers, pulling the trigger another three times, only hearing the squeals grow louder.
Pressing her teeth together, Angela feels Nia’s body tremor against her own, feeling the security of her hiding spot diminish with every provocation. “We’re gonna put you little chickens to bed, bitch!” the man howls again, three further rounds put into the building’s dry wall, each earning a louder shriek than before. Barely able to see Lauren, Angela listens to the third shot ring out, her eyelids closing as the man’s voice grows nearer.
“Come get what you deserve, asshole!” the man exclaims once more, his demands unexpectedly met by force. Her back against the wall in the most literal sense, Angela lets her survival instincts take over, her hands lifting to Nia’s upper back with a shove, kicking the woman out into enemy territory. “Hey!” Nia exclaims, screaming in betrayal as she looks the gunman in the eyes, his weapon already aimed.
Letting the one gunshot emerge, Angela wastes no time in peering around the corner, the rolling pin thrown from her hand before Nia’s body even has the chance to hit the floor. Taken aback by the attack, the gunman braces, letting the object graze his arms before preparing to fire his weapon again. “You b-!” the man exclaims whilst Lauren sprints out from cover. Before he can take notice, Lauren’s blade swings through the air without another shot taken.
Jabbed in the breastplate, the man crumbles to his knees, the firearm he drops on the floor finding its way into Lauren’s possession. Taking no chances, Lauren lifts the barrel to the man’s head, spilling his brains against the off-white floor below in relief. Gasping for each breath, Lauren glances toward Angela, unable to look in the woman’s direction without seeing Nia’s bloody carcass strewn on the ground.
“You could’ve waited until he was out” Lauren grouses, crouching close to the ground with her hands pressed into her knees. Forcing herself to pay an eye to the bloody mess beside her, Angela steps up to Lauren, stood over the kneeling woman without remorse. “I did what it took to survive” Angela grumbles, stepping over what remains of the ceiling tiles on her way back to the dining room, “that’s what matters.”
Her finger pushing the curtains aside, Heather watches the flashes of light in the distance, the faint sounds of explosions roaring beyond the street. “When Jade said this place was like the world as it used to be, I was assuming she didn’t mean Syria” Jess groans, sitting on her bed with Amy wrapped up in her arms.
“This isn’t a time for jokes, Jess” Heather responds, the salt lamp on the woman’s dresser coating the room in an orange hue. “And why the hell not?” Jess replies, her back resting against the bed’s headrest. Rolling her eyes, Heather peers away from the window, eyes settling upon the woman with the twisted sense of humour. “Because this is serious shit” Heather answers, trying not to present herself as being frightened for Amy’s sake.
“Do I have to go to school tomorrow?” Amy interrupts, her innocence putting the hostility at ease. “I don’t think that’s gonna-” Heather begins to reply, stopping at Jess' intrusion, “no honey, I’m happy to let you call in sick” her mother responds, passing a glance back in Heather’s direction. Though silent at first, Amy thinks about her mother’s answer before looking back to Heather.
“Does that mean I can stay home, Heather?” Amy asks again, the satisfaction Jess had worn on her face immediately fading, the inquiry almost too much for Heather to hold back a laugh from. “Amy, why don’t you go play in the next room over, okay?” Jess responds, not once removing her eyes from the woman across the room from her, “Mommy and Heather need to have a talk.”
Compelled to refuse, Amy remains silent, looking for Heather’s response rather than asking for it. “Go ahead, honey” Heather reassures, watching the girl tap her feet along the wooden floor, and entering the abyss-like hallway that lies beyond the bedroom.
“What the hell was that?” Jess begins, climbing off her bed to approach Heather, an angry gleam in her eyes. “What do you think it was, Jess?” Heather replies, stepping out onto the balcony with the invitation offered for Jess to do the same. “Did I not make it clear the other day? I’m Amy’s mother!” Jess exclaims, her outburst stalling as Heather interrupts, the sky lighting with fires between them.
“Give me a fucking break, Jess- you’re her mother in name only” Heather cuts back, bringing an immediate silence upon the woman, who stares at Heather in shock. “Sure, you gave birth to her- and sure! She’s got your last name! Well, technically it’s John’s last name- but whatever! Sure, that’s all you!” Heather shouts, closing in the remaining distance Jess had yet to occupy, “but as far as actually being there for her, and being there to teach her how to live in this world?- that’s me.”
Her nostrils flaring, Jess stares into Heather’s eyes, her left hand beginning to twitch. “You know what, while I’m at it- I fuckin’ hate this way that you look at me- like I’m trying to replace you or something-” Heather furthers, her own right hand beginning to hover over her rear pocket.
“You know you’re trying to replace me” Jess grunts, her shaky hand beginning to hover closer toward her pocket, “the way you treat her, and talk to her, and teach her things- you’re trying to replace me and you know it.” Her expression changing, Heather looks at Jess through apologetic eyes, her head shaking as her scrunched face eases. “Oh, honey- you’ve lost your mind” Heather replies condescendingly, her hand fully tucked into her back pocket, “if all that’s true, then I already did.”
The response stunning her, all thoughts leave Jess’ mind, her eyes widening at Heather’s boldness, and her trembling hand steadying in a sudden moment of relief. The apologetic look on her face turning to confusion, Heather watches Jess back away without defence, the woman returning to the home’s depths without further argument. Anticipating further escalation, Heather finds herself at a loss for words, the switchblade she’d wrapped her fingers around left to fall back into her pocket.
“Alicia!” Salem cries out, throwing herself down the hill their home resides at the bottom of, watching as her pregnant friend crawls through the cellar doors beneath the grass’ surface. “I’m fine! Go get Emilio!” the woman exclaims, pulling herself onto the lawn whilst having yet to inspect the home’s damage for herself. “Wh- where!?” Salem confusedly responds, the question prompting Alicia to turn her head around.
Through wide eyes, Alicia gawks at the front of their townhouse, its face baron, stripped of anything more than the gaping wound outlined by charred wood. “What the fuck happened in there!?” Salem wonders aloud, her fingers still wrapped around the mallet’s handle. Her concerns lying elsewhere, Alicia leaves the question unanswered, instead shouting aloud in horror.
“Emilio!” Alicia screams, discarding her spear in favour of advancing upon the home, her only entrance being the wound that had taken both women by such surprise. “Em!” Alicia continues to blurt, the living room they’d occupied only a short time prior almost unrecognisable from its former state. “Where’d you last see him?” Salem shouts, following the woman closely, each pile of wreckage that’s strewn through the building makes the terrain rougher to travel.
“Just past the basement door!” Alicia shouts, struggling to push past the last heaps of rubble between her and the man they search for. “Yeah- yeah, I’m here!” Emilio exclaims, his back leant over an overturned set of drawers, the uncomfortable position he lies within made bearable by the certainty of Alicia’s safety. “Oh, thank-fucking-god!” Alicia replies, the knot built in her stomach quickly unravelling.
“Are you alright?” Emilio asks with a whimper, the woman refusing to answer without her arms wrapped around the man’s neck. “I’m fine- it’s you that has no reason to be” Alicia mutters, laying by her friend’s side as Salem catches up, the uncomfortable wreckage they lay beneath made less unwelcoming with such friendly faces. “Wanna clue us in on why our house isn’t- well, a house anymore?” Salem inquiries, taking a seat near Emilio’s feet.
“I think it was a grenade- but I didn’t get a good look at it obviously” Emilio replies, his left hand pressed against his side, “it sure got a good look at me, though.” Pulling his hand away from the wound, Emilio presents a bloodstain on his shirt to his friends, a smile still worn on his face. “Of all the places to get shot, this is probably one I prefer” Emilio clarifies, able to let out a brief laugh without pain, “it was an in-and-out kind of thing- I’ll be fine with a little cleanup.”
“Well, then let’s get you to a hospital!” Salem quickly responds, both Alicia’s concerns and her own quashed with Emilio’s light-hearted banter. “Seriously, I’ll be fine. It stings, but if that’s the worst of it, I can manage” Emilio promises, patting Alicia’s leg and giving Salem’s shin a tap with the head of his boot, “though, I think we’re gonna need new living conditions.”
With her head hung, Alicia tries to settle herself from the rush of emotions the night has brought on, both gunfire and explosions still roaring in the distance. “Chin up, buttercup” Emilio jokes, interfering with her disappointed self-reflection by lifting her chin with his knuckle, “we’ve gotten over worse, haven’t we?”
Putting her own worries aside, Alicia gives Emilio a smile, the reassuring nod she adds only helping put the troublesome times in the past, at least, that’s what it appears to do at first. The quiet air only allowing the chaotic events outside to feel louder, Emilio opens his mouth to speak, though is unable to find the words. “What is it?” Salem whispers, her elbows pressing into her knees whilst she sits forward, clearing the air for Emilio to air his thoughts.
Taking in a deep breath, Emilio’s lips pucker, his eyes wandering back to the woman his words had been given freedom by. With a push, Emilio sits himself up the remainder of the way, his eyes kept on Salem with a disheartened look. “The walls couldn’t do it either, huh?” Emilio solemnly wonders, their conversation from the night prior recalled, “this is the world we live in- no matter where we go- isn’t it?”
With her fingers locked, Salem frowns at the man, only able to offer a slow, poignant nod. Accepting the answer, Emilio changes his face’s direction, his eyes travelling to the friend he can only hope carries the next generation’s promise within her womb. “I’m afraid of the man I was turning into before Cumberland. I’m afraid of what I would have been like if Jade hadn’t found us” Emilio whispers, placing his hand upon Alicia’s arm, “I don’t wanna be that man again.”
Not able to say much, Alicia takes her free hand to Emilio’s head, resting it on the side of his face, and only able to offer her sincere beliefs. “You won’t” the woman replies, letting her hand fall back upon the palm Emilio rests on her wrist, giving Salem the nod to push forward. “Let’s get you to the hospital, big guy” Salem grunts, aiding Alicia in helping the man up, their journey taking them back into the street, the hill they climb holding their latest chapter at its base.
In the distance, gunfire continues to echo through the night’s sky, their past intermingling with their present, only leaving what resides of the world’s future in question. “Keep your head on a swivel” Emilio warns, returning Alicia’s firearm to its holster as they enter the night, every ounce of chaos that stands before them nothing in comparison to what they’ve seen, only worthy of being left behind in the world it belongs to.
== Rise ==