Rebels of Darkness II, Chapter 8

In a vast room full of people in all white uniforms except for a scarlet blazer, the majority of people read and flipped through pages almost in unison. A few of the occupants stopped to take an occasional note, but most of them continued working in a clock-like fashion. One person stared at a report from a quarantine center, and then, all of a sudden, she made a startling realization! She had to read it over and over again just to make sure she got it right, and when she verified the accuracy of her findings, her whole body filled with excitement. She abruptly stood up and cried out, “I got something!” The ticking from their page turning came to a halt as her colleagues all stared in her incredulously…

Gwynivara and the other Rebels froze for a moment as they took a moment to register that they hadn’t stumbled across any kind of danger. The massive, bear-like, geometric-looking creature remained motionless, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. “We really need to invest in some weapons!” Kierram advised. “Pretty soon, we won’t have the energy to keep doing incantations!”

“Look at these shells!” Rebekah picked up a bullet casing off of the floor. “These are from a type of gun the police use!”

“So, the real question is: Did they get here in time to save the people who lived here?” Bernadette wondered.

John remarked, “I’d rather not know! We’re leaving as soon as the cops clear out, so I’m just gonna pretend they were able to escape before they got bit by the beast!”

Naama, who peeked out of the lacy curtains in the living room, observed, “It looks like they’re blocking off the whole road. We’ll probably be here for a while, so it wouldn’t hurt to find out!”

“Actually, let’s make sure this crime scene has been cleared in case they’re blocking off the road to investigate this place more,” Gwynivara suggested. The others agreed, and they spread out through the house.

Gwynivara, Bernadette, and Kierram went upstairs, and the small hallway seemed totally empty. Gwynivara glanced at the framed photos that lined the walls, and it pained her to see such a nice family had previously occupied this house! She sincerely hoped that they wouldn’t run into their corpses, especially not of the the two young children! Kierram gazed into a bedroom, and then he observed, “The beast definitely went in here!” Bernadette and Gwynivara peeked inside the room and saw two beds with sheets that got completely disheveled as well as the rest of the kids’ belongings that got scattered all over the ground. “Maybe they just got bit and are in quarantine right now! We have the cure, so they won’t be there long!” Bernadette told herself, and none of them appeared to have gotten convinced by her assertion.

When they walked into the parents’ bedroom, they saw a giant hole in the wall, and while debris had spread all over the area, they saw patches of dried blood all over the room too. “They could’ve just gotten injured,” Gwynivara, without any confidence, theorized. When she caught a glimpse of the inside of their closet, she spotted a purse, so she concluded, “They’re not in the hospital or in quarantine. No way would a living woman leave this behind!”

Suddenly, they heard muffled sounds of voices that they didn’t recognize! The three of them rushed down to see what was going on, and with her pulse racing rapidly, Gwynivara hoped that she wouldn’t arrive too late to save the others! To their surprise, the scene below showed only calm and curiosity. The voices had apparently stemmed from the television set! Riley turned towards them and apologized, “Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare the crap out of you like that!”

“You really do need to start giving out more warning before you make sudden decisions like that!” Gwynivara scolded.

“Did you guys find anything?” José asked them.

Gwynivara grimly answered, “We saw a lot of destruction and a lot of blood…”

Everyone grimaced to hear that, and Cody inquired, “Is it safe to stay here?”

“I think so,” Gwynivara certified. “They’ll probably come back eventually, but I think that all of the activity outside is meant for a fresher crime scene.”

“More police have arrived,” Naama announced. “We may as well get comfortable, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon!”

Rebekah eyeballed the beast’s body and commented, “I’m not gonna be able to relax with that thing in here!”

Niqun shared her sentiment, “Yes, that thing needs to go! It’s creepy! Plus, it’s taken over the entire kitchen! We’re all starving, it would have been nice if we could make-!”

“Hey, come look at this!” Riley strongly recommended, which made everyone immediately run to the TV.

“…Aren’t you tired of it?” A young, darkly beautiful woman spoke to the camera with a sly look on her face. “I know I am! I just need someone to tell me something good! It’s okay if you lie to me! That’s why I’m voting for Don John Rialowe! The world needs less bad news, and he’s here to tell us something good! Vote Rialowe for our thirty-ninth president of the United States!”

While she posed with a lollipop in her mouth, Rialowe’s voice sounded with, “I’m Don John Rialowe, and I approve this message!”

The programming switched over to a local anchor desk, and Kierram scathed, “Wow, he aired that garbage during a news broadcast! That’s rich!”

“He’s trying to get into people’s heads that they shouldn’t believe the news!” Bernadette scowled at the very thought of it. “He wants people to believe no one but him! That seems more like a dictator move than someone who wants to be president!”

“Did you see the prop she had at the end?” Gwynivara queried to everyone. “She’s basically calling everyone a sucker!”

José pondered, “Who would fall for this? Seriously!”

Riley responded to him, “Seriously, a lot of people. He’s holding a rally in Silver Park, Maryland on Friday at Scouts Arena. That place could hold thousands of people!”

“Hopefully no one shows up!” Niqun folded her arms and watched the TV reproachfully. “It would serve him right! It’s okay to lie to me! How could he…” How could she…? How could anyone…?”

“Sorry, Jim, we need to interrupt your forecast because we have some breaking news!” one of the anchors reported. “We now go live to Great Dismal Falls!”

A man with gray hair and a nice suit stood at a podium with several people standing behind him that donned both red and white coats. The suited man addressed the gathered press, “Good morning, everyone! Now, as you know, everyone here at the Public Health Center has been hard at work for several years in trying to find a way to curb our problem with Venenatus Sanguis, and up until today, we haven’t been able to make as much progress as we would have liked. Shortly after their shift started, our research department made a significant discovery! No, it’s not the cure, but we’ve found a way to slow down the rate of infection.

“The people afflicted with Venenatus Sanguis intermittently release an energy that creates a large and aggressive manifestation, and what we’ve recently figured out is that this energy is primarily transmitted from the afflicted person’s hands! Any obstruction to the afflicted person’s hands greatly reduces the odds of producing these destructive manifestations, so it is our recommendation that everyone wears gloves while they’re out in public or they’re among others of unknown Venenatus Sanguis status. Unless you’ve received a test from a hospital or physician, it is not known whether or not you’ve been infected. We’ve had patients come into quarantine not knowing where they contracted the viral disease from, so it is our belief that some may contract it from smaller manifestations and attribute the contact as a bug bite, muscle spasm, or other minor injuries. So, we at the PHC recommend gloves for everyone!”

Some of the mass that had gathered objected to that notion. The spokesman reassured them, “It’s only temporary! If we can get the rate of infection down, then we can allocate more resources into developing a cure for it instead of…” He trailed off as the boos in the crowd grew louder, which made him stare at them in disbelief. “Really? Almost two hundred and fifty thousand people have died from Venenatus Sanguis in this country, millions have died worldwide, scores of people are suffering alone in quarantine, and you can prevent this problem from hurting more people just from wearing an extra piece of clothing, but you won’t do it?”

“You’re infringing on our civil rights!” one onlooker shouted.

“You won’t have any rights if you die from this! Except maybe last rights!” the spokesman retorted. He let their churlishness ebb a little before he spoke to the gathered reporters again, “I have time for a couple of questions.”

He called on one reporter, who wanted to know, “Do you have any kind of timeline for when you expect the cure to get released to the general population?”

He replied, “I’m not able to give any kind of window into when that may happen. We have doctors and scientists all over the world working on it, so it could get announced any time between later today and years from now. If we can get the rate of infection down, it’s more likely to be days or even months rather than years! Okay, who’s next? Yes, you!”

“Was the PHC able to find all of the people who escaped from that quarantine building that caught on fire?” another reporter probed.

“Many of the escapees were found and have been re-isolated in our new facility on Fort Cragga,” the spokesman explained, “We’re working with law enforcement to find the rest. The Disease Safety Unit has partnered with the FBI to get them back. The current quarantine laws are still in effect, so I know they’re still searching for the people who were ordered to go into quarantine and chose not to as well. Personally, I don’t think we would need many people in quarantine if we could just get glove wearing mandated!”

As the bystanders expressed their irate attitudes over his opinion, Bernadette opined, “Wow, less than a week without Abigor and his henchmen interfering with their research and they were able to make a major breakthrough!”

Kierram brought up, “Did you hear how many people got pissed about wearing gloves? That’s gotta be Rialowe’s doing! He’s getting people not trust the scientists too!”

“That makes no sense!” José stated. “Why would people trust Rialowe over people who can actually offer proof of their claims?”

“They think the entire government is trying to take away their freedom. I guess they’re including scientists in this conspiracy theory too!” Riley rolled his at that thought.

John exclaimed, “How ridiculous! My wife is a geologist and has yet to say anything involving controlling anyone or taking over anything!”

Gwynivara bolted up and searched around the room. “Where’s their telephone?”

“Why?” Kierram’s brows furrowed in confusion.

“Who did you guys leave in charge of the Rebels who stayed behind?” Gwynivara posed to Riley, Cody, Niqun, Rebekah, José, and John.

Niqun let her know, “We had the medic, Susie, take over until we return to Great Dismal Falls. Why? Is that-?”

Gwynivara darkly proclaimed, “We won’t be able to return to Great Dismal Falls ’til the public gets the cure for Venenatus Sanguis! Didn’t you hear what the PHC said about gathering quarantine evaders? They’re teaming up with the FBI! Since we escaped from Agent Cecilio, we’re obviously at the top of the list of people they’re looking for! We can’t deliver the cure to the PHC, they’re probably looking for us there! He knows about the cure we have, and even though he doesn’t believe it’s real, he knows we’re gonna try to get it out there. We’re gonna find someone somewhere else who does believe us, but if we try to do it there, we’re just gonna end up getting captured again! We can’t risk them destroying it! We can’t go back ’til the cure is safe in a scientist’s hands!”

Heavy silence filled the room after Gwynivara’s speech. While most of the Rebels hadn’t had a permanent residence there in quite a while, Great Dismal Falls was still their home. Gwynivara assumed that some of them still had family in the area too, and while they couldn’t see them as a wanted criminal, she could imagine it hurt to know they were far from them. Gwynivara disliked being so far away from the PHC, which would have been the ideal people to deliver the cure too, but she despised straying too far from her hometown in case her parents came looking for her there. She didn’t think they would actually go there until Venenatus Sanguis had gotten eradicated from the planet, but she wouldn’t have put it past them to sneak in a visit. It depressed her to imagine them putting in the effort to do that only to realize that she left, but then she remembered what the spokesman had said- it was only temporary. The sooner that they found a way to get the cure out there, the sooner that they could go back! She prepared herself to pass on this wisdom to the others, but the other news anchor broke the quiet with, “More breaking news: This Friday, the Silver Park Courthouse will begin seeing a case of treason against the disgraced lieutenant general, Emorick Conley!”

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