“There he is!” a reporter hollered. As Agent Cecilio got out of his car, dozens of press members bombarded him. Cameras flashed, and that same reporter probed, “What can you tell us about the agents that invaded that news station this morning?”
Another reporter queried, “Did you guys plan this attack?”
A third reporter inquired, “Have you located the agents responsible for the death of that journalist?”
“Let me through!” Agent Cecilio barked. He finally thought he had the chance to wrap up a long day! His head felt so much pressure that one of his eardrums kept emitting a rapid thumping, and his muscles felt so tense that it pained him to move! Under normal circumstances, he would have been in bed reading a book with his wife, but he hadn’t even returned to the office to file his daily report yet! An impromptu press conference was the last thing he wanted to deal with! He just wanted to hurry and finish his paperwork so he could go home and have a drink to gain some sanity after such a hectic ordeal, but since the gaggle of reporters continued to hound him as he made his way to headquarters, he could tell that wouldn’t happen anytime soon! “I’ll hold a press conference tomorrow and give you all the answers you need then!”
“We need answers now!” another reporter insisted. “Something horrific happened, and we need to know why!”
Agent Cecilio made it to the steps of the building when he heard Linda Knucker declare, “I can explain what happened!”
He could have gone inside and gone on with his evening, but when Agent Cecilio heard that, he groaned knowing that he had to say now! He couldn’t let her spread more disinformation on the subject, that would have made matters worse! He dreaded the concept, and while he hoped that it wouldn’t take long, he had to accept that it just might! He turned back to the reporters and snapped at Linda, “You have no firsthand knowledge on the situation, spread your conspiracy theories elsewhere!” Linda looked somewhat affronted by this, but the rest of them gazed at him eagerly when they saw signs of him relenting.
“In no way, shape, or form would the FBI have orchestrated a siege like that!” Agent Cecilio stated firmly. “The Disease Safety Unit had intelligence that suggested some of our most wanted might show up at the Channel Five studio today, and I authorized them to go there to retrieve them. That’s it! Why they took the actions they did, I have no idea! If I had any inkling they made that plan, I would have put a stop to it and I would’ve terminated them immediately! It’s not FBI protocol to engage in property destruction, and we do our utmost to protect the public at all costs! Their heinous act doesn’t align with our values, and when we find them, I’ll see to it that they go to a federal prison right away, and at their trial, I’ll make sure they get hit with the maximum punishment possible!”
“Are these guys the same ones responsible for the deaths of the two men who died in your custody?” one of the reporters asked.
Agent Cecilio almost answered with an automatic reply of not being able to comment on an active investigation, but instead, he couldn’t help but truthfully express, “I… I don’t know! Everything I thought I knew about my crew has flipped upside down! Our organization isn’t perfect, and there were certain practices I believed should get reformed, but I never knew any of my people were capable of such atrocities!”
A reporter close to the front considerately questioned, “Are the people on your most wanted list still going to get charged with murder after they fought so hard to save lives during this insurrection?”
Agent Cecilio had to mull that one over, so another reporter pointed out, “They tried to put a cure for Venenatus Sanguis out there, so how can you charge them with using the disease to kill people?”
“He’s not gonna charge them for anything ’cause they work for him too!” Linda theorized. “They don’t have Venenatus Sanguis, no one does! They staged this coup ’cause Rialowe pulled ahead in the polls and he-!”
“Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!” Agent Ceclio cried out. They all got taken aback by the sudden outburst from a typically clam and composed personality. “People have died! Don’t you dare use their deaths to perpetrate your propaganda!” The other press members applauded him for that response.
The agent who had interrogated Bernadette glanced out the window and smirked. “He’s out there arguing with the media!” he shared with the person on the other line.
Rafeneita spoke back to him, “Good! That buys us some time! Have you seen Abigor at all?”
That agent chuckled, “Are you kidding? You think he’d actually show his dumb face here after broadcasting his crime on live television?”
“Don’t remind me of that!” Rafeneita seethed. “I didn’t think he would come back to work after that fiasco! I just wondered if you had any leads on his whereabouts.”
“Afraid not!” The agent casually kicked his feet up on his desk and tossed peanuts into his mouth. “I gotta tell you, if we do find him, we’re gonna have to arrest him! There’s no way I can get him off the hook!”
Rafeneita told him, “He’d be safer incarcerated! If I find him first, you’ll find him in pieces!”
The agent snickered at that. “What are you gonna do? Add another secret ingredient to your lollipops?”
“Who would that appeal to, his cannibal supporters?” Rafeneita shot back. “What an idiotic-!”
“Relax! I was only kidding!” the agent reassured her while popping more peanuts into his mouth.
Rafeneita remarked, “This is no laughing matter! Get serious! Did this incident get those Rebels off the most wanted list?”
The agent shrugged. “Eh. A lot of people are clamoring for it, but don’t worry! Regardless of what the boss or even the DOJ says, I’ll find a way to get those guys captured! Right now, we’re setting up a-.”
“What are you doing?” Agent Cecilio stared at him incredulously.
“I… Uh…!” The agent quickly hung up the phone. “I was just talking to my wife!”
Agent Cecilio didn’t buy that. “You’re planning on defying me and the Department of Justice?”
The agent denied that, “No, no, no! My wife… She just doesn’t want those murderers to get off easily just ’cause public opinion softened anyone’s heart! She thinks they belong in jail! That’s all!”
“You’re fired!” Agent Cecilio exclaimed.
“For talking on the phone with my wife?” the agent challenged.
Agent Cecilio replied, “You gave away classified information at best! At worst… Don’t leave town! I’m gonna have to file a case against you too!”
The agent pleaded, “Don’t do this! Gimme another chance!”
Agent Cecilio coldly regarded him, “Turn in your badge and get out of my sight!” The agent slammed down his badge and left the area with a truly frightened look on his face. Agent Cecilio went into his own office, and after he slumped onto his chair, he cradled his head in his hands. As he stared blankly at his desk, something caught his eye. He picked up a “Rialowe ’76” lollipop and rubbed his chin contemplatively.
Gwynivara sat on the cliff’s edge staring at the moonlight reflecting off of the lake’s surface, and she didn’t glance up when she heard footsteps behind her. Kierram sat next to her, and even when he tenderly grabbed her hand, she still didn’t look up. Kierram commented, “You know, as long as we’ve been here, I don’t think I’ve really taken the time to appreciate just how beautiful the scenery is!” Gwynivara remained unresponsive, so Kierram posed to her, “Are you still blaming yourself for what happened today?”
“I don’t blame myself!” Gwynivara finally broke her silence. “I know that if I had any clue that Abigor would do what he did that I would have brought more reinforcements, and I know I did everything I could have in the moment to prevent that security guard and Joanette from dying. It’s just… First, Professor Chadron dies trying to get the cure out there, and then Joanette got killed for trying to get the truth out to everyone. It’s starting to feel like anyone who agrees to help us is fatally doomed, like they’re animals getting sent to slaughter! We still don’t have the cure out there, and who knows if people will believe Joanette’s story! Rialowe is probably gonna paint them both as crazy people, and we-!”
“I don’t think Rialowe would do that, “Kierram put in. “I think he would just use this tragedy as an example of why we need to give people more freedom, like they wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths if everyone had the same opportunities!” Gwynivara gave him a peculiar gaze, so he reacted questioningly, “What?”
Gwynivara asserted, “It almost sounds like you’re defending him!”
Kierram didn’t deny this accusation. “Well, we’re always making him out to be some kind of super villain, and he’s really not all that bad!”
“Not all that bad?” Gwynivara roared. “He’s working for our archenemy, an enemy that wants to wipe out all humanity, and you don’t think he’s that bad?”
“We don’t have definitive proof that he’s working for her!” Kierram argued. “No one knows anything about her, she could be anyone!”
Gwynivara contended, “So, why did we get ambushed by a barrage of incantations after the debates?”
Kierram retorted, “Bella had us attacked, not Rialowe! And to be fair, we were going after her!”
“We were going to investigate her!” Gwynivara debated him. “If we went back there and didn’t see any connections to Rafeneita, we would have left them all alone!”
“How was Bella supposed to know that? What would we have done if someone came snooping around our headquarters?” Kierram countered with.
Gwynivara rebutted that, “We wouldn’t have automatically had an intruder murdered! We’d ask questions before we stooped to that level!”
Kierram fumed, “She kills her enemies! It’s not so strange!”
“So, you’re just gonna keep justifying everything they do?” Gwynivara yelled.
“They’re just doing what they think is right! It’s not that different than what we’re doing!” Kierram uttered.
Gwynivara shrieked, “What are you saying?”
Kierram bellowed, “Hey, our movement gets people killed too! We’re not always the good guys!”
Gwynivara vociferated, “How can you say that?”
Before Kierram could respond, tow long, reptilian-like beasts appeared above them, growling at them from above the cave’s entrance. Gwynivara cast an incantation at one of them, and right away, she felt completely drained. She almost forgot that she had used so much energy earlier fighting Abigor’s henchmen! Luckily, she saw another incantation take care of the other beast! She assumed that it had come from Kierram, but when she turned to thank him, she saw that he was no longer there! “Kierram?”
When she swiveled to search for him, she nearly lost her balance. “Woah! Don’t fall!” Riley caught her and hoisted her back onto the mountainside.
Gwynivara could see Emorick as well as the other Rebels watching the scene unfold in front of them, but she didn’t pay them any mind right then. She urgently needed to find Kierram! She finally spotted him storming down the rocky trail, so she called out to him, “Kierram! Come back!”
He spat, “I’m not going anywhere I’m not trusted!”
Gwynivara wanted to chase after him, but when she attempted to run, she almost fell again. She braced herself on Riley’s support as she demanded, “We have to go get him!”
“He just needs to cool off,” Emorick reasoned. “He’ll come back when he’s calmed down.”
“But…!” Gwynivara stared at his figure getting smaller and smaller from her view, and her heart wrenched more and more the further he got! As much as their disagreement hurt, she didn’t want it to end like this! She wanted him to come to his senses and apologize for creating this distrust in her, and the fact that he hadn’t raised so many alarm bells in her head! Despite that, her gut seemed to indicate that he would stay loyal to their cause. Emorick sounded so sure when he said that Kierram would return once he got over his sore feelings, but Gwynivara didn’t feel so certain. So many adversaries sought them out, and she feared that him being alone would make him more vulnerable to getting seized by them! She hoped that he would realize this and circle back to the cave, but when she saw his shadow disappear into the night, she knew the awful truth- Kierram would come back! She wanted to share all of this to the others, but all she could do was burst into tears! As she sobbed into Riley’s shoulders and stomached another loss, she couldn’t help but wonder if the Rebellion had any kind of future ahead of them!