One of many, a ragged corpse stumbles toward the sound of struggle, taking whatever delight it can from the presence of its prey, fending off the likes of its kind. Cutting off one side of a reasonably new bridge as others approach from the opposite end, the zombie drags itself closer to the sound of desperation, hoping to get lucky and drag its victim down unsuspectingly.
His decay withering him down to loose skin, withered muscle and fragile bones, the corpse draws near, reaching out for its meal as its opportunity arises. As quickly as it had arrived, the corpse is discarded of, the crown of its skull caved in by the claw of a hammer, whose handle rests within a familiar grasp. “Keep moving, Clint!” Jack shouts, watching the once religiously-pure man rip his weapon from the undead carcasses skull and advance forward.
“We can’t keep moving with them like this!” Franklin shouts, watching the number of the dead increase as his bayonet-tipped cap swings in the direction of rotten stench. “What do you suggest we do!?” Nessie shouts, kicking corpses aside as she takes on one at a time, her left hand grabbing their throat as her right brings a mallet over their heads.
“Find some fucking cover!” Franklin shouts back, forced to push back the undead onslaught as they begin to pile up. The only man spared from fighting for the moment, Jack glances toward the bridge’s side, the coastline itself littered with trees he can barely see over the tops of. “There’s a few houses on the shoreline!” Jack shouts, jabbing his phillips-head screwdriver at anything that walks, “if we can reach the end, we should be able to slide down to them!”
“I’ll settle for whatever works!” Clint exclaims, nearly splitting a corpse’s skull in two. “Get to the fucking shoreline then!” Franklin shouts, satisfied with the plan enough to start throwing his weight against the scrawny undead, leaving corpses to knock each other over as if they were bowling pins. Divided by a few feet, the group continues to push toward the front of the bridge, leaving whatever threat they’ve yet to dispose of behind in hopes of out-pacing them.
In the very back of the group, Jack continues to wail on the dead, spacing his breaths to avoid getting winded. “I think I see a road up ahead!” Jack calls out, beginning to lag behind the others as their discards climb back up, beginning to turn their sights toward him, as if they could smell the sweat dripping off of his face, “if we can take it east, we’ll-!”
Dropping another corpse mid-sentence, Jack pulls his hand back to free the screwdriver from its resting place, only to find his grip to have been relinquished, the perspiration-covered handle remaining in the dead’s skull as it falls beneath the next wave of corpses. “Fuck!” Jack shouts, watching multiple pairs of feet stumble over the body his weapon is buried in, separating him from his trusted defence permanently.
“What’s going on back there!?” Nessie shouts, watching her brother begin to crawl through choked gravel and dirt on his way to the street below. “I lost my weapon!” Jack shouts, forced to pull away from the hornet-like swarm around him whilst kicking aside the dead in brief moments of self-preservation. “I’m coming, Jack!” Franklin shouts, ripping at the collars of a few weather-damaged shirts before his friend’s order calls him off.
“Don’t! Just get to the houses!” Jack shouts, his back now pressing against the colour-faded green, metal fence. “I’ll find my way down!” Jack shouts again, this time aided in his declaration by Nessie, who hurries back to lead Franklin away by the hand, trusting Jack to handle himself. His lower body’s strength as strong as his pursuers are weak, Jack creates enough momentary separation to conjure a plan, seeing little option ahead that doesn’t result in his death.
As Jack wraps his hands around the metal gate for leverage, a thought suddenly dawns upon him, leading the man to take a momentary glance at the waters below with a smirk. Taking advantage of the space he’s created, Jack turns his back to the dead and propels himself over the metal gate, lowering himself onto the ledge with caution, his fingers wrapped around the solid bars dividing him from the dead.
Pulling back, Jack hangs himself over a steep drop into the water below as the dead advance, reaching their arms through the bars in hopes of getting within reach. “I hate how fucking ironic this is” Jack murmurs beneath his breath, glancing to his left as Nessie and Franklin descend toward the street below. “Ah, fuck!” Jack suddenly shouts, pulling his left hand away from the bars at the sensation of a stinging pain, his pinky finger curiously bloodied.
Shaking his hand, Jack comes upon a quiet realisation, only needing a moment in thought to wear himself into horror. Without giving his actions additional thought, Jack lets his second hand pull away from the metal bars, his weight pushing backwards as he does so, allowing him to plummet into the rough waters below.
Submerged, Jack feels the tide pull him away from his destination, unable to fight the stinging sensation in his back to begin pulling toward the surface. With effort and resilience, the man breaks through the surface, gasping for air as he paddles toward the shore, where Clint already awaits his return. Rushing into knee-deep waters, Franklin and Nessie hurry to meet Jack in the water, pulling him to land once in reach.
“That was too fucking close!” Franklin shouts, letting the man’s shoulders fall onto the rocky, grass-covered back lawn of their riverside meeting point. “How many more of those encounters are we gonna have before someone gets hurt!?” Franklin angrily questions, clearly agitated by the struggle presented. “None” Jack suddenly interjects, gladly playing the opposition to Franklin’s concern.
“Why is that!?” Franklin shouts, throwing his metal cap in the grass out of frustration, “have we finally learned our lesson!?” Still struggling to catch his breath, Jack holds his left hand toward the group, the water having washed the blood away to leave only the wound itself. “No” Jack replies, unable to speak without audible disappointment, “I’m bit.”
Having seeked comfort in the release of his anger, Franklin is pulled back to earth by Jack’s statement, unsure of how to respond whilst Nessie gives into denial. “No- no you’re not” Nessie replies, clearly rattled by the revelation as she hurries to the man’s side, taking his hand to inspect it herself. “Yeah, Nessie- I am” Jack responds, pulling his hand from her reach and shaking it to relieve the pain, “a dementia-ridden Sherlock Holmes could figure that out.”
“Yikes!” a distant, yet guttural voice exclaims, armed with an assault rifle as he approaches the group, flanked by dozens of men armed with the same, heavy-duty equipment. “When you find an infected washed up on the beach, the first thing you do is-” the man exclaims, waiting for his brigade to respond. “Eradicate the threat, sir!” the men all shout in unison, no one soul offbeat from the rest, not one existence daring to stand out from the cargo jacket, white t-shirt wearing ‘sir’.
“We don’t want-” Clint begins to explain, his words dying off as quickly as he is interrupted. “You don’t want any trouble, I’ve heard all of that before” the grey-haired, clean-shaven, mid-50’s appearing man replies, his voice coming across with the tone of rolling molasses, “I don’t care, and I’m not gonna.”
“We’re not a threat to you” Nessie replies sharply, protective of the people around her. “Is that supposed to change anything?” the man inquires, keeping his rifle aimed to the side, “if you’re a threat to me, I’d want you gone. If you weren’t a threat to me, what use are you without a pair of balls to stand your ground? Hell, one of y’all is already bit! It’s a lose-lose for you, darling.”
“We don’t have to be a threat to you in order to be a threat in general” Jack replies, angrily pushing himself off the ground as the older man begins to laugh. “You’ll be dead in days, I know you’re a threat in general” the older man replies, readying his weapon to fire, “that’s why I have you and your friends down.”
Throwing herself in front of Jack, Nessie shields her friend from the man’s line of fire, not caring for the result of her choice. “Little lady, you’d be better off steppin’ aside” the man warns, preparing his sights for a shot. “He doesn’t want bravery, Nes’” Jack groans, gently guiding Nessie aside, “he wants something more than that.”
Lowering his weapon, the old man indulges Jack’s claim, intrigued by what the survivor is getting at. “Kid, I don’t know what your game is, but it’s not working” the militia commander replies, “bravery won’t keep you weak folk from meeting your maker.”
“How about a tip, then? You know, for future use?” Jack queries, again prompting the older man to lower the gun from his sights. With a sigh, the man waits for Jack to offer his peace, providing another warning as he closes in. “My men will litter you and your friends with bullets if you don’t mind your distance, son” the greyed man explains, eagerly waiting for Jack’s advancement to cease.
“Think of a bite like a problem” Jack explains, displaying his infected finger to the gunman, “if you get rid of it before it’s too late, you’ll cut out the problem before it ends you.” With a chuckle, the man clicks his tongue as he nods. “I already knew that, son” the old traveller replies, watching Jack’s smile creep in. “That’s good” Jack retorts, using his adrenaline to fuel his next move, “how’s this for weak folk?”
Without warning, Jack leads his pinky finger between his teeth, feeling the tip of his digit press against the back of his tongue as his molars hover below the knuckle. Too committed to turn back, Jack sinks his back teeth through the skin, prying the pinky from his hand as the old man watches in surprise, listening to the audible crunch persist until there’s nothing left for Jack’s teeth to dig through, his hand shaking as it lowers from his jaw with one less count.
Mouth slightly ajar, the old man watches a visibly shocked Jack close the distance that remains between them. With a blank expression, Jack spits the severed digit into the man’s face with no remorse, allowing a few seconds to pass before extending his bloodied hand toward his guest’s arm. “Jack O’Rourke” the man grunts, refusing to show weakness in his greeting, the hardiness shown earning Jack the man’s respect.
“Rocky” the gunman replies, appreciatively refusing the man’s handshake whilst he remains visibly taken aback from the sight witnessed.
= 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 =
“So, it was never part of your plan?” Lauren stumbles, stood across the room from Alicia and Salem with her arms crossed. “No! We had no idea!” Ameil replies, his body cascaded by the sunrise as it peers between the window’s individual shutters, “he told us to go, and that’s what we did.”
“And you just assumed we were dead when the fireball went up?” Alicia asks, earning the response she anticipated. “What else were we supposed to think of it?” Heather counters, listening to footsteps patter along the floor overhead, “we never expected to see any of you again- I’ll be right back” she concludes, walking off to attend to Amy.
“How’d you get here?” Angela questions, sat on a loveseat a few feet to the right of Lauren. “They brought us here” Ameil replies, glancing at each of his neighbours as he responds, his sentences mostly finishing with his eyes panning toward Emilio, “we were walking over a little stream when their cars found us. We weren’t in any position to fight, so we just hoped they’d see Amy and have some humanity left in them. Luckily for us, they did.”
“And you just believed them when they said- what?” Salem inquires, her elbow pressing into the arm rest as she holds her head up. “They said who they were. They were from a town called ‘Cumberland’, they were patrolling a mile out from their border, and they wanted to bring us in for questioning” Ameil answers, “we were walking around the place because some street lights outside the walls were on. We knew there was power somewhere, so we followed the lights to it.”
“The lights must be connected to the town’s power grid” Alicia interjects, willing to defend Ameil’s account, “it makes sense.” Still sceptical, Lauren pulls away from the wall, arms still crossed. “Why didn’t they question you outside?” Lauren replies, peering toward the man through squinted eyes as their landline begins to ring, “what made you three so special to them?”
“Maybe the kid by their side had something to do with it” Alicia responds, engaging with the opposing side of Lauren’s question whilst Salem answers the phone. “Will you please stop answering for the man?” Lauren inquires, beginning to turn her annoyance toward the dark-haired couch dweller. “I’m not answering for the man, I’m making informed observations” Alicia retorts, matching Lauren’s increasingly-irritated tone of voice.
“I’d like you to stop doing that then” Lauren responds, watching Alicia prepare to retort before Salem’s own frustration overwhelms them. “FUCK!” Salem exclaims, slamming the phone back on the receiver before storming out of the kitchen. “Where are you going!?” Emilio calls out, watching the irate woman march toward the front door. “I’m gonna kill Jade- bye” Salem replies, slamming the door shut as quickly as she’d ripped it open.
Speechless, the group looks around the room for a moment, quietly wondering whether the woman is serious or not. “If Salem wants to kill Jade, none of us are gonna be able to stop her” Angela cuts in, aware of where the conversation had paused, “let’s get back to the ‘why are you in Cumberland’ story, please?”
“There’s no story left to tell, we’ll just keep repeating ourselves” Heather replies, following Amy into the living space, “they found us, we let them question us, they gave us a house. That’s it, that’s the story.”
“And they didn’t try to split you up?” Lauren asks, maintaining her reluctance for as long as it holds water. “They said they don’t split up families” Amy answers, her ability to do so still odd in the eyes of her peers, “and when the next bus comes, we get to go to Nova Scotland.” Getting on her knee, Heather places her hand against Amy’s head, whispering into her ear. “Scotia” Amy corrects, alleviating much of the worrisome suspense, “I meant Nova Scotia.”
Leaving her seat, Alicia silently walks deeper into the home, leaving the conversation to those that remain a part of it. Allerted to the sound of knocking at their door, Emilio departs the conversation next, finding Ryan’s approachable look on the other side. “Hey, neighbour” Ryan greets, waving to the homeowner as his welcoming expression turns into a playfully concerned look, “should I be worried about the woman that just stormed out of here with a scowl?”
“That’s Salem, and we’re not quite sure yet” Emilio replies, stepping aside to make room for the man’s entry, “come on in.” Accepting the offer, Ryan steps through the front door, immediately finding Ameil, Heather and Amy upon entering. “Uncle Ryan!” Amy warmly exclaims, holding her fist out. “Hey there, Amy-sphere!” Ryan greets, pressing his knuckles against those of the much smaller girl’s.
“Can Ameil take me with you guys on your next patrol?” Amy excitedly asks, a question that prompts Ameil to stare at Ryan with a dismissive face, swinging his fingertips at the man as if to beg him to refuse. “I’ve only got grown up gear this time, kiddo” Ryan responds, a wave of concern brought over Ameil’s face, “maybe next time, though. Ok?” With a frown, Amy accepts the man’s answer and walks away, disappointed.
“Maybe Emilio can join us?” Ameil abruptly asks, panning back to the hesitant man with a hopeful look, “I’m sure Jade would be interested in picking his brain.” Suddenly less hesitant, Emilio turns to Ryan, appearing as if he doubted the claim just made. “Jade is- wait, what’s a patrol?” Emilio questions, flustered with confusion. “We call hunting a ‘patrol’ around here so people don’t get the wrong idea” Ryan responds, lowering his voice, “you’re not supposed to go beyond the border.”
Putting two-and-two together, Emilio turns back to the kitchen, where he occupies one of the island’s barstools. “But, if you’re up for it, we’d love to have you” Ryan doubles down, “it’s just Ameil, Heather, the McKee’s and I. We’ve got another set of gear if you’d like, though?” Reluctant, Emilio feigns considering the offer for a few seconds before attempting to decline.
“He’ll do it” Lauren answers instead, watching Emilio’s face dart across the room, laying upon her with immediate annoyance. “Whatever this ‘hunt’ is, he’ll do it” Lauren doubles down, speaking louder than Emilio, who begins an attempt of refusal on his own, “I think he needs a few friends.”
“Seriously, we’d love to have you!” Ryan replies, pleased with the answer as he glances back at Emilio, the man’s eyes watching Lauren look at him with a great intensity. “Yeah, alright” Emilio finally caves, giving into Lauren’s acceptance despite his preference remaining largely opposite of such an answer. “That’s great, I’ll send you the info then!” Ryan replies, shaking Emilio’s hand before preparing to leave, “I’ll see you all later!”
Leaving the home, the group keeps their pleased facades worn until the coast is clear, where Emilio takes the chance to exercise his frustrations. “What the hell was that!?” Emilio barks, walking in Lauren’s direction with a confrontational edge. “This is your chance to find the others!” Lauren quickly responds, an answer that confuses Emilio the moment it leaves her mouth.
“Wha-? You signed me up so I could look for Jack?” Emilio replies, unsure where her reasoning adds up, “Heather, we’re like- an hour outside of Providence. What, do you think he followed us?”
“Who else is gonna be on the outside to find out?” Lauren retorts, gathering an equally confused look from Angela, “you could run into him on the way for all we know!” Pulling his head back, Emilio stares at Lauren as if he were wondering whether or not her answer was a joke. “Whatever, I’ve got to go to work” Lauren suddenly remarks, pushing past Emilio as she departs, leaving the home’s two residents hard for words.
Pounding her fist against the front door, Salem waits for an answer, refusing to speak until she knows someone is on the inside to greet her. “Whoever you are, schedule an appointment by telephone or mail” Archie replies from inside, sat at the kitchen table with a book in his hand. “Answer the door, or I’m going to drive that truck through your living room window!” Salem barks, almost able to hear a groan coming from within.
“She’s not here, Salem” Archie responds, placing a bookmark in the page he leaves off with. “I don’t care, let me in or I’ll let myself in” Salem replies, again left waiting for a response. Casually strolling up to the door, Archie lets the woman enter, unphased by her physical display. “There are, in case you didn’t know, ways to talk to Jade that don’t involve threatening to destroy our house” Archie remarks, following the woman through the home, “like I said, Jade’s not here.”
“My dead-sweep application just got reassessed and they hired me” Salem explains, climbing halfway up the house’s U-shaped stairs, “I know she had them change their verdict, I wanna know why.” Letting out a sigh, Archie’s head falls toward the ground, strapped for an answer. “Perhaps you convinced her the town was safe in your hands” Archie jokes, doing little to quell Salem’s anger, “our door doesn’t seem to be, but maybe the town will fare better.”
“I’m not laughing at your joke” Salem replies, watching the man’s eyes roll. “I’m not joking! Our door has fifteen new dents, and I can promise you Jade will know exactly who put them there” Archie replies, pushing his humour aside for a moment, “I don’t know if she did, but why would that be a bad thing?”
“Do I need to have a reason?” Salem responds, crossing her arms as she looks down from the staircase’s landing. “If you threaten to park my car inside the living room- yeah, kinda” Archie replies, looking into Salem’s face to find defeat. Silent, Salem’s head begins to hang, almost as if she were angry at the simple fact that she could be so angry.
“Listen, I won’t pretend to know you or what you’ve been through. That’s not my business” Archie explains, watching the woman’s eyes trail toward him, “but I was there when we vetted you. I think it’s safe to say that, if we both had to guess, there’s something inside you that doesn’t click with all of this.”
Turning away, Salem lets the man continue to speak, hearing him out without needing to pay him the attention he’d like. “There’s definitely an allure to what’s outside, Jade’s not wrong- but some people take to it more than others” Archie furthers, finally earning Salem’s eyesight, “you might just be one of the people that need it to function.”
Calming herself from the anger she’d entered the home carrying, Salem’s breaths blow the loose hairs that hang in front of her face, throwing them outward before they fall back into place. “I don’t feel normal” Salem replies in a low voice, as if ashamed to make such a claim, “why doesn’t this feel right?”
With a frown, Archie accepts the feeling of sympathy that comes over him, not afraid to offer an answer most would stray away from. “Maybe because it’s not?” Archie replies, pressing his hand into the railing as he looks at Salem, the silence that follows his response left to linger, sitting with them in the quietest parts of their mind.
“Is your real name ‘Rocky’ or do you just call yourself that because you live in ‘Rockford’?” Jack inquires, sat on a table as doctor’s tend to the wound on his hand. “What does it matter to you?” Rocky replies, leant against a surgical table with his arms crossed, hesitant to say much. “Well, if the answer is ‘number one’, it means you’re not trying to hide yourself. You don’t mind being open” Jack responds, holding back a slight chuckle, “if it’s the second, you’re just uncreative.”
Amused, Rocky’s tongue runs over his bottom lip, wondering how to answer. “What is it, Rock? Are you an honest man or are you just a square?” Jack proceeds, watching the man’s teeth appear from behind his teeth. “I’m the man that chose to bring you into my home, and help you bandage that gnarly bullshit up” Rocky replies, both eyebrows lifting a few inches, “does that satisfy you?”
“Jack, stop poking the bear” Nessie interjects, sat in a chair between Clint and Franklin, who keep their guard raised whilst Jack’s hand is stitched. “Where did you get these supplies in the first place, Rock?” Jack bothers to ask, disregarding Nessie’s suggestion with visible glee. “Stop asking questions, boy” Rocky replies, clearly beginning to grow perturbed, “you’re lucky that I let you live.”
“Why is that by the way?” Jack continues, taking more joy in Rocky's reactions the more they divulge his true frustrations, “wouldn’t want to give your boys the impression that you’re ill-tempered? Maybe too trigger happy?” Unholstering a firearm from his hip, Rocky begins to approach Jack, letting the conferral warn the man on his behalf. “Maybe you don’t practise what you preach?” Jack persists, starting to laugh at Rocky’s perceived weakness, “all bark and no bite?”
Goading Rocky into lifting his gun, Jack takes the opportunity he’s crafted for himself, prying his hand away from the attending nurse’s grasp and throwing it toward Rocky. With ease, Jack separates Rocky’s hand from the gun and takes it for himself, a gentle redirection now placing Jack in control. His finger on the trigger, Jack holds Rocky at gunpoint to the rest of his group’s surprise, giving into the thought in his mind.
“What the hell are you doing!?” Franklin grunts, unable to comprehend the hole Jack’s begun to dig himself into. “He said it himself- we’re of no use if we’re not a threat to him” Jack replies, tilting the barrel of the handgun downward in an effort of guiding Rocky onto his knees, “I feel pretty fucking threatening now.”
“We had a chance of being allowed to leave until you decided to point a gun at the man!” Nessie responds, keeping her voice to a minimum, “thanks for throwing that away!” His head shaking, Jack watches Rocky lower to the ground, refuting Nessie’s claims. “He wasn’t going to let us leave, but he’s gonna have a harder time getting us killed now” Jack replies, his voice calm and steady, poised in the face of his actions, “but if I’m lucky, he’ll cooperate.”
“Cooperate with what?” Franklin replies, his voice the lightest of the four, calmed more than the rest, “we came here to keep you from catching an infection.” Hand steady, Jack keeps his eye on Rocky, the man’s demeanour not changing at all. As his breathing steadies, Jack keeps the man at bay, refusing to look at his group or afford the camp’s leader an inch of leverage.
“Nova Scotia- I know he knows them” Jack replies, his face illuminated only by the flames of burning candles, night having finished dawning upon Rockford. “That’s what this is about?” Nessie hisses, almost more annoyed at the reason behind Jack’s actions than the actions themselves. “That’s what this has always been about- ever since we got away from Sun City” Jack responds, his conclusion providing a villainous overtone, “he’s our ticket there.”
“Jack, this is absurd!” Nessie replies, unable to hide the rage she holds for Jack in the moment. “Is it? Is it really? Go ahead and take a peak outside, huh? Tell me what that looks like to you” Jack replies, forced to speak through gritted teeth, “if this is too low of a standard for them, we ought to be on the next bus to Boston.”
“You’re basing this on a hunch?” Clint groans, watching Jack’s head shake. “They said there were boats they’d deliver stuff to the mainland on” Jack replies, continuing to stare Rocky down, “I saw the peer when they were bringing us in. It’s been overhauled, and I doubt these guys have the tools to turn a small, waterside dock into one capable of pulling a cargo ship to land- yet, there it is.”
“You’ve lost it” Nessie grunts, finally giving Jack the vindication to consult with his hostage. “Let’s ask the man himself. After all, he’s right here” Jack replies, the smile reemerging on his face, “what’s with the dock, Yee-Haw? Selling smuggled Cowboys tickets on the down-low?” With no way to stop the man, Nessie, Clint, and Franklin turn their attention to Rocky, waiting for his answer, as well as for the situation to cease.
Scowling, Rocky bites into his bottom lip and offers his answer. “They use it to offload oil” Rocky finally concedes, his revelation, and the true ties it holds to Nova Scotia, putting a look of shock on the group’s face. “Wait, it’s true?” Nessie responds, vindicating Jack’s entire plot by turning her sights onto Rocky’s confirmation, “you’re working with Nova Scotia?”
Dissatisfied, Rocky answers with a vitriolic look. “The bastards keep short-changing me” Rocky replies, clearly sharing the resentment he has for the group with those above him, “they use my dock, they load their oil into my warehouses, they sell weaponry made in my factories, and when it comes to giving back what they take- I get scraps!”
Squinting in the man’s direction, Jack takes a step backward, lowering the gun a few inches away from the man’s chest. “So, they’re fucking you over, but it’s you that keeps letting them use your ports?” Jack replies, unable to understand the logic behind that. “Have you taken a look around this room?” Rocky inquires, letting Jack take a few glances at the walls, “there’s a light bulb in every corner of this house, yet we’re lighting candles and prancing around in the dark.”
Unable to disagree with the man’s logic, Jack lets Rocky continue. “The gas we’re given is what’s left, the food we’re given is what’s left, the medicine we’re given is what’s left” Rocky explains, clearly upset by the situation, “I can’t feed the people here, I can’t treat them without screwing over someone else later down the line- I can’t provide for them. And, if I don’t keep them in check, they’re gonna revolt. And like a bunch of vultures, they’ll circle around and wait for me to die.”
“I thought every settlement had to specialise in something- agriculture, or medicine- something Nova Scotia wanted” Jack replies, watching Rocky take humour from his statement. “Yeah, we make guns, and ammo. The stuff you need for war, not for peace” Rocky replies, his statement finished by an observant Franklin. “I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume you don’t make as much as they’d like” the one-armed man responds, watching Rocky’s eyes roll.
“Again, take a look around and you’ll see why that is” the man responds, staring back into his gunman’s eyes, “if you don’t feed people, heal them, make them happy- why would they slave over packing casings?”
“There’s no oil refinery around here to take over?” Jack replies, again finding his response met with humour. “If I tried to undermine ‘big brother’ up north, I’d be dead before the vultures even thought to form that circle” Rocky replies, ashamed in his own ability to serve and protect enough to shake his head at the thought, “I’m in a lose-lose situation.”
With a chuckle, Rocky gives the statement another thought before looking up at Jack, a half-smile on his own face. “As a matter of fact, kid- just pull the trigger” Rocky remarks, holding his hands outwards, “let this hell be someone else’s grave to dig.” Steadying his weapon, Jack keeps his finger resting on the trigger, half of his mind urging him to finish the job he started.
“We might be able to help with that” Franklin suddenly interrupts, quick to draw every survivor’s attention toward him, “not the vulture part, or the ‘big brother’ part, but the ‘weapons’ part.” Doubtful, Rocky finds himself at a place in his life where he bothers to hear the man out, unable to find much of a reason not to. “If you can solve the unsolvable, I’ll give you whatever you want” Rocky responds, immediately sparking looks between the group.
“We wanna be the first people on the next trip to Nova Scotia” Jack immediately remarks, taking the opportunity that stands directly in his face. “Kid, if you four can solve my problem, I’ll take you with me when the next leader’s assembly gets called” Rocky replies, prompting Jack’s eyes to turn back toward Franklin, silently urging him to hold up his end of the bargain.
“Do we have an agreement, Frank?” Jack inquires, waiting for the head nod Franklin wastes little time in answering with. Taking another two steps back, Jack lowers the gun to his side and directs Rocky’s attention onto Franklin. “Alright, where’s this solution of yours?” Rocky questions, watching a cautious Franklin ease himself into an answer. Clearing his throat, Franklin looks Rocky in the eyes, “do you have a boat?” the man asks, keeping his question brief.
== Rise ==