“They got away!” the man blurted out before he lost the nerve.
“What do you mean, they got away?” Rafeneita glared at him as if he had misspoke purposely just to annoy her.
The man took a deep breath before he clarified, “They escaped from the courthouse, and the police couldn’t track them down. They’re getting ready to call off the search and assign it to a detective.”
Rafeneita howled with enough rage that the man backed away from her. “How is that possible? Why wasn’t that idiotic FBI agent there to capture them?”
The man quickly volunteered himself, “I’ll go find out!”
After the man zipped out of the room, Rafeneita sunk down to her spiky throne and took a few seconds to process her emotions. Once she composed herself, she spoke much more measuredly, “Don’t think that this changes anything! One way or another, I’m gonna get you, Gwynivara!” She flashed her eyes at her angrily.
Gwynivara dropped the orb as if it had suddenly stung her. Emorick caught it before it hit the ground, and everyone stared at her incredulously. Gwynivara wanted to run and hide, and she almost did, but she had nowhere to go, so she reluctantly stayed put. She couldn’t make eye contact with any of them, but she decided to explain it to them knowing they would request her to, “Before we battled her on the mountains, I kept having dreams about her. They felt so real! After we left the peak, I had more dreams about her, and I don’t know how she does it, but I think she’s sending me visions to threaten us! Well, I thought she wanted to intimidate all of us…”
Gwynivara suddenly felt so full of shame. These constant invasions of her subconscious made her feel so violated, and it embarrassed her to share this with everyone. She also worried that they would get mad that she kept this secret from most of them. She hadn’t intended to shield them from this forever, she just wanted to wait for the right time to discuss. With the Rebels constantly needing to pull off daring escapes, she hadn’t found an opportunity to share this information with anyone, and even though the cat was out of the bag now, she still didn’t deem it appropriate to discuss it right then and there! She hoped that they didn’t dwell on it for too long so they could set up a safe house for themselves and prioritize all of the tasks much more pertinent than this so that they could save the planet!
“You had one of these visions in the truck!” José descried.
“Yes,” Gwynivara confirmed. She had forgotten that they overheard her conversation with Kierram. They knew that she had a realistic nightmare about her, but she didn’t go into enough detail to give them the true nature of her dream. She wished that she had done it back then since they were all half asleep and probably wouldn’t have fussed too much over it.
Bernadette remarked, “I remember you telling me about these dreams before. You were so adamant that they were prophetic, but I didn’t really believe it ’til now! You’re not asleep at the moment, so we can’t blame it on that!”
John put in, “When we met Rafeneita before the battle, it did seem like you had met before. I didn’t really think much of it at the time, I just thought you were meant to fight each other or something. If she’s communicating with you in this way, then the way acted around each makes total sense!”
“Why did she choose you?” Cody inquired. “She must know that Emorick isn’t in a coma anymore, so how come she doesn’t talk to him?”
“I don’t know!” Gwynivara felt herself blushing furiously. Inwardly, she came to the conclusion that Rafeneita couldn’t penetrate Emorick’s mind, he was too powerful for that! She must have sensed a vulnerability in her, which only increased the amount of abashment she endure from this occurrence.
Emorick asserted, “Let’s not waste a lot of time speculating on how this happened, let’s just be grateful for the information we gleaned from it!” A rush of gratitude came over Gwynivara as Emorick steered their conversation back to strategical subjects. “This Rafeneita woman obviously has a lot of connections, and if any of them had a clue to our location, they would have told her, so we’re safe right now. I think the best course of action for us right now would be to rest up a bit. Once we can think more clearly, we’ll start planning out our next move!” Everyone’s weariness prompted them to agree with this suggestion. Emorick concentrated his energy on the orb, and once they saw a blue light shining from it, he led them all into the dark cave.
The cave had a tunnel that acted as a natural hallway, and it led to an open area where they saw remnants of Chief Forsythe and the motorcycle cops’ campsite. They left behind some food wrappers, a couple of newspapers, and a hand-drawn map of the sewer systems in the area. “This could be useful!” Emorick sat down and began studying it.
Rebekah picked up an empty potato chip bag and morosely commented, “I wonder if this where Daddy sat! I can just picture him eating this having no idea it was his last meal…” She began to tear up again, and then she hastily apologized, “I’m sorry! I’ll try not to think about him too much so I don’t create another beast!”
Bernadette put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder and consoled her, “I know how you feel! My dad got killed unexpectedly too. It takes time for it to stop hurting! Well, it never really stops, but eventually you’ll start remembering all of the good times you shared together, and it’ll help you get through the day! It’s not easy to move on when you miss someone so much, just keep in mind he’s looking out for you and hoping you’ll find happiness even with him gone!”
“Bernadette is right!” Cody put his arms around her in a comforting way. “I don’t know what it’s like to lose someone I love, I actually hate my dad’s guts, but I’m sure your dad is watching over you right now! Whenever you feel sad, just think about what he would say to you if he were here, and that should help you at least a little!”
“If my dad were here right now, he would want me to get some rest so we can figure out how to get the cure out there,” Rebekah surmised. “It was always important to him that the everyone in the world could get cured from Venenatus Sanguis, especially me! Oh, but I don’t think I could sleep after seeing him…” She couldn’t finish her sentence, the image too horrible for her to relive.
Cody offered, “That’s okay, you can just lay down with me! You make me feel better just having you in my arms!” Rebekah gave him a weak smile for his sweet sentiments. They laid down with Cody spooning her. Afterwards, Bernadette, José, John, Riley, Niqun, and Naama all found spots in their own spots in the cave, curled up, and fell asleep.
Gwynivara settled herself on a part of the cave where she could view the illumination emanating from the orb but still had some cover to it. She wanted to lead by example, but she couldn’t bring herself to fall asleep, not until she figured out how to block out Rafeneita’s mental invasions! As she contemplated the situation, Kierram sat beside her and grasped her hand. “How you doing?”
“I’m fine,” Gwynivara reacted automatically. As soon as the words came out, they felt so dishonest that she had to correct herself, “Actually, I’m a little scared! I don’t wanna be her victim! Why did she choose me to do this to?”
“You’re not a victim, she chose you ’cause she views you as a threat!” Kierram reassured her. “She’s trying to scare you so she can weaken you and make it easier for her to take you on! But you’re too smart and too strong for that to work! When she realizes that she can’t get to you, she’ll be even more intimidated by you! Show her what a bad ass you are and get some rest so she knows that her pathetic attempts didn’t have an impact on you!”
Gwynivara beamed at him before giving him a kiss. She couldn’t express just how much she appreciated him in that instance, but she tried anyways by saying, “Did you know I love you so much?”
Kierram grinned as he responded, “No, I didn’t! I said it to you, but you didn’t say it back to me!”
“I love you, Kierram!”
“I love you too, Gwyn!”
They kissed again, and then Emorick unexpectedly jumped in, “When did this happen?”
Gwynivara and Kierram looked startled that he had the strength to position himself in a way where he could witness their romantic interaction, and Gwynivara inwardly admonished herself for not showing more discretion. The others all knew about their relationship, so they didn’t think twice about their amorous exchanges. She had gotten so used to that as a norm that she forgot that Emorick didn’t know about this development, and she really regretted letting him find out in such an abrupt manner! She got so mad at herself for putting herself in this kind of position, but she also grew quite nervous on whether or not Emorick would approve of her for his son! He welcomed her to the Rebellion with open arms, but she fretted that he may have had different standards for who he welcomed into his family. She hoped that he wouldn’t call this a conflict of interest for their cause; if he forced her to choose between the role she played in their important efforts or a rare love that made her happier than she had been in years, she didn’t know how she would pick! Both held great importance to her for different reasons, and her nerves felt like they were on fire as she waited for Emorick’s judgment on the matter…
To her astonishment, Emorick smiled as he regarded them, “It’s okay, I expected it to happen eventually, I just was curious how it happened.”
“You expected it to happen?” Gwynivara repeated in shock and awe of his response.
“Just a fatherly sense I got.” Emorick shrugged.
Kierram detailed for him, “I told her how I felt before we fought Rafeneita, you know, just in case we didn’t make it. After it was all over, we just… came together. Something about getting so close to death and still living, it was like why wait?”
Emorick chuckled at the cute attitude that Kierram displayed, and then he advised both of them, “Just don’t let any arguments get in the way of business!”
“Not gonna happen!” Kierram promised as he gave Gwynivara’s hand a tender squeeze.
Gwynivara still had a hard time believing that not only did Emorick approve of them as a couple but he expected it! She couldn’t believe her luck on this occasion, and if they didn’t have to hide from a murderous regime, she would have sworn that she had died and gone to Heaven! Emorick moved himself away from their view to give them some privacy again, and then Gwynivara rested rested her head on Kierram’s chest. The warmth of his body felt more comforting than any blanket she had ever used, and she got so relaxed that her eyes started to grow heavy…
She noticed a source of light that hadn’t been there before, and Gwynivara lifted her eyelids out of curiosity. She saw sunlight streaming into the cave, and she realized that it was dawn. It surprised her that not only had she fallen asleep but she had slept for much longer than she anticipated! She saw that most of the others had gotten up already, and Riley was munching on something from the previously empty potato chip bag. “Morning, lovebirds! Care for some breakfast?”
Gwynivara groggily asked, “You found food out here?”
“I’d love to take credit for it, but Cody and Rebekah went out earlier and found some berries and nuts. Hungry?” Riley held out the bag for Gwynivara and Kierram to indulge in, an offer they gladly accepted!
“We found more food!” Cody announced as he and Rebekah returned to the cave. They presented a handful of yellow flowers with green leaves to them, and Cody reported, “We saw some rabbits eating them, so they can’t be poisonous.”
Bernadette complimented him, “Wow! We got ourselves our own Euell Gibbons here!”
José and John returned with Emorick draped around them, and after they set him down, Naama and Niqun got up from their rest. Emorick then observed, “Oh good, everyone’s awake now! We can start planning out the new mission!”
“I say we go back to that stadium and get that son of a bitch, Rialowe!” Niqun advocated with venom in her voice. A few of the others wholeheartedly agreed with her suggestion.
“We do need to do something about that bastard, but unfortunately, I doubt that he’s staying in town, and we have no idea where he’s going next,” Emorick politely turned down that idea.
Naama proposed, “We should find out where he’s going and meet him there then! But maybe first we should stock up on supplies this time!”
Emorick weighed that option. “He does need to be stopped before he holds another super spreader event, but we may not need to go anywhere to do that. If we can get the cure out there, then all he would spread is bad ideas. So, how do we get that done?”
Gwynivara let them know, “I have an idea…”