Rebels of Darkness II, Chapter 26

The station manager went up to Joanette and let her know, “The disturbance turned out to just be the mailman. We had him watched the entire time he was here, and he left without any incidents.”

“You tailed the mailman?” Joanette questioned.

“You can’t trust anyone during a time like this!” the station manager responded. “It’s not unheard of for someone to put on a blue collar uniform to infiltrate a forbidden area!” Gwynivara and Bernadette tried not to snicker as they gave each other knowing smiles after he said that. The station manager glanced at the security guard behind him and asked, “How’s everything now?”

The security guard answered, “Everything’s quiet, so we’re looking good right now!”

The station manager chimed, “Good!” When he turned back to Joanette, his expression still appeared nervous. “It’s just an interview with a few college students, no big deal!” he told himself. His eyes flickered between Bernadette and Gwynivara, who stood off stage, as well as Cody and Rebekah, and he probed, “You’re all in the same class?”

“Oh no! We were Professor Chadron’s grad students. They’re just some freshmen volunteers,” Bernadette fibbed.

“That makes sense.” He took a deep breath and resumed reassuring himself, “Just some college students testing out a theory, no big deal!”

Joanette pointed out, “And a licensed nurse. She’s here to test them for Venenatus Sanguis.”

The station manager nodded in remembrance of this detail. “Right, right! One of these kids took on this serum as a preventative measure, and one of them previously tested positive for the virus. Have you checked out the validity of these claims for yourself? No offense to you guys, I just have to double check you’re not snake oil salesmen in disguise!”

“Of course I checked their claims! You think I would do this if I hadn’t done my homework?” Joanette countered.

“That’s good… So, are we harboring a quarantine evader?” the station manager probed.

Joanette refuted that notion, “No! She’s gonna test negative, so she’s no longer a felon. I guess you could say these two girls harbored a fugative, but considering they found the cure, I’m sure the district attorney would cut them a break!” The station manager still seemed on edge, so Joanette assured him, “Everything’s gonna be fine! We’ll show the world that this cure works, and then we’ll have exclusive access to their story as they bring the vaccine to the Public Health Center and become world famous scientific heroes!”

The station manager tried to quell his anxiety with her logic, “You’re probably right. I’m just being overly paranoid! I got myself so worked up that I’m starting to get flashbacks to the day the Nazis invaded our camp! Something in the air felt different that morning, like a strange electricity in the atmosphere could sense a dangerous presence headed our way… I think those hate letters just took me back to the trenches of Magiskby fields… You know some of the locals in the area got deeply harassed for speaking out against what their German neighbors were doing…”

“You remember who won that battle, right?” Gwynivara brought up. “The ones who spoke out were on the right side of history!”

“You’re right!” The station manager’s confidence buoyed up after hearing that. “I just gotta…” He paused as he listened to someone speaking into his headphones. “Oh shoot! One minute ’til we’re live! Places everyone!”

As everybody prepared themselves for the broadcast, Gwynivara noticed a lot of chatter on the security guard’s walkie-talkie. He didn’t seem worried, but Gwynivara grew a little suspicious and wondered if the station manager’s paranoia actually had some merit…

The anchor at the news desk announced, “Breaking news on the Venenatus Sanguis pandemic! Joanette Joules, take it away!”

“I’m here with two students from Hildegard Bingen University who claim they’ve taken an antidote developed by the recently departed Professor Ezra Chadron, and Nurse Alvaro is here to test…” She trailed off as she heard the security guard whispering urgently into his walkie-talkie, but he gave her a thumbs up, so she continued, “She’s here to test if this cure was, indeed, effective. So, we’ll start with Rebekah, who is actually known to authorities to have…” The ground beneath them shook slightly, and the security guard inquired into his walkie-talkie to find out what was happening. Joanette ushed Nurse Alvaro to keep going with her test as she spoke into the camera, “She’s known to have escaped quarantine, so if she tests negative…” Nurse Alvaro tried to steady her hand as she held up a small device that pricked Rebekah’s finger, and although the quakes grew stronger and more frequent, Joanette felt determined to keep going. “If she tests negative, then it means…”

“Joanette!” After hearing what the security guard said to him, the station manager urged Joanette to stop.

Gwynivara and Bernadette watched as the security guard moved to a position between the set and a station entrance, and they became even more alarmed when he brandished his gun! The camera person attempted to turn off his equipment, but Joanette ordered him, “Keep rolling! Nurse Alvaro, what do the results say?”

Nurse Alvaro frantically replied, “I don’t know, it takes a minute to…”

The walls started to tremor so violently that the dust and small debris above them began to rain down! The station manager shouted, “Joanette! We have to take cover!”

Joantte refused, “No! They’re trying to prevent the truth from coming out, and I just won’t let that happen!”

All of the staff ran in the opposite direction of where the imminent danger stemmed from, but Joanette didn’t budge. Gwynivara and Bernadette ran to the security guard’s die, ready to assist him with what they assumed was a giant beast while Joanette attempted to go on, “Any moment now, this test will prove that she is no longer…”

Suddenly, the entryway to the station burst apart, and it shocked Gwynivara to behold this sight! The massive size of this beast, which resembled the appearance of an elephant with no tusks or trunk but had sharp fangs, didn’t shock her as much as the fact that Abigor and his minions who worked for him were riding on top of it! Everyone but Abigor hopped down and immediately fired incantations at Bernadette and Gwynivara! The security guard hit one of them with one of his bullets, but he soon ran out of ammunition. Gwynivara and Bernadette shielded him as he reloaded, and although they were still outnumbered, they managed to fend them off. Gwynivara could see the beast advancing towards the set where the others stood, but she couldn’t take action on it without getting struck by one of her many adversaries!

Cody ran over to the abandoned camera and swiveled it so it could film the fight. Rebekah tried to produce an incantation, but no matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn’t conjure anything. “Oh, I forgot I’m cured!” Rebekah recalled fretfully.

Nurse Alvaro dropped the testing device and hurried to safety. Joanette picked it up and then commanded to Cody, “Point it to me!” As she used her body to cover Rebekah from the beast, she informed the viewers, “According to this device, Rebekah is-!”

Before she could read the results, the beast nearly bit her. Cody rushed over and kept its jaws held open with all the strength he had. Joanette and Rebekah got up to help, but soon, their endurance started to wane. Just when they feared that the beast might overtake them, a gunshot rang out, and the beast howled in pain. The security guard fired another round, and this time, the beast went limp. The three of them let got of its jaw, but in its last bit of life, it sunk its teeth into Cody’s arm! Cody freed himself, but he couldn’t concentrate on anything else as he stared the wound with wide eyes. Joanette grabbed the Venenatus Sanguis tester, and she directed him, “Quick! Take the test!”

As the beast fell down to the ground, Cody hurriedly pricked his finger. Joanette saw Abigor rising up off the floor, so she grabbed Rebekah and Cody by the wrist and ran them behind the security guard. The security guard had the instinctive ability to dodge the incantations that Abigor hurled at him while returning fire back at him, and both Bernadette and Gwynivara tried to rapidly defeat their opponents so they could go help, but they were still overwhelmed! During the melee, Joanette spun the camera towards herself, and as fast as she could, she rattled off as many facts as possible, “That man works for the FBI in the Disease Safety Unit. They’re supposed to be protecting you from Venenatus Sanguis, but as you can see, they’re trying to spread it! Rebekah’s test came back negative, and in a few seconds, we’ll see that Cody’s will too. They don’t want you to know this ’cause they’re using biological warfare to-!”

Abigor struck the security guard, who fell down and laid motionless! Gwynivara was able to free herself from the other agents, but as she used an incantation against him, he threw one at Joanette! Abigor collapsed, but so did Joanette! “No!” Gwynivara cried out. This distraction almost got her hit by the other agents, and she rejoined the struggle. Rebekah swooped down to take Joanette’s pulse, and when she found none, she gasped!

All of a sudden, police sirens blared! One of the agents aimed an incantation at the heavy lights above them, and everyone had to roll out of the way to avoid the impact of this! The agents swept up Abigor, and right as Gwynivara and Bernadette prepared themselves to take them out, they disappeared into thin air! “How did they do that?” Bernadette exclaimed.

The four Rebels exited the building, narrowly missing the the police’s arrival inside. Some of the staff, including the station manager, warily crept out of their hiding spot, and one of the police officers asked them, “What happened?”

“Our audience can tell you, we’ve been live this whole time!” the station manager answered while ruefully staring at Joanette.

“Nobody touch anything!” the other police officer instructed just as the staff neared the damage to survey it all. “This entire studio is a crime scene!”

The first police officer talked into his microphone, “Dispatch, we’re gonna need CSI and a detective in here stat!”

As he gave the dispatch operator his location, the staff all wept for their fallen brethren. The station manager bent over top pick something up that landed close to them, and sadly told his crew, “Cody’s test results!” They all peered over his shoulders to read what it displayed.

“Ladies and gentlemen, never in my life did I imagine doing the autopsy of one of our own, but Professor Chadron donated his body to science, so we’re going to help the police out with this!” A man in protective surgical gear gazed despondently at Professor Chadron’s lifeless body while a half dozen students, who also donned the same garb, looked at him wistfully. “So, what’s the first step?”

“An external examination,” a female student replied.

The teacher responded, “Yes! This includes less visible places like underneath his fingernails, which could hold important clues to the events leading to the victim’s death. Go ahead.”

All six students positioned themselves at different sections of his body, and they thoroughly inspected it. Another female student stated, “I see gunshot residue.”

“Ah, so the gun the police retrieved did come from him,” the teacher noted. “No bullets were found, so there’s a wounded killer out there somewhere!” He jotted this down, and then he queried, “Any contusions or lacerations?”

A male student asserted, “No. It doesn’t appear that there’s any external signs of his cause of death.”

Another male student put in, “That means the cause of death is from an internal attack, which is strange considering that he physically fought someone off!”

“Indeed!” The professor wrote this finding down. “It’s possible that Professor Chadron had myocardial infarction from the fear generated by this assault. It’s also possible that he ingested some kind of toxin prior to the assailant arriving. Only an internal examination will tell! Who wants to make the incision?”

“I’ll do it!” a third male student volunteered.

As he made a y shaped cut with a scalpel, the teacher informed them, “This process takes days to complete because we have to examine each organ as well as run tests for all of his bodily fluids. WE begin with the vital organs. You’ll need to open up the rib cage with-!”

A fourth male student raised his hand and brought to the teacher’s attention, “I think Rafael found something already!”

The teacher turned to Rafael, who let him know, “There’s an unusual protrusion coming from his stomach!”

“Really?” The teacher briskly walked over to see it for himself, and when he espied what Rafael had seen, his brows furrowed. “What the heck is that?” He swiftly grabbed the scalpel, and as he operated on the stomach, he educated the class, “Normally during an autopsy, we initialize the process with the heart and lungs, but in this case, we’re going to make an exception!” The rest of the class curiously gathered over Professor Chadron’s body and watched with anticipation as he worked. Once he got the organ open, the class reacted in a perplexed astonishment, and the teacher’s brows furrowed even more. “What is that?”

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