A dull ringing pierced her ears, and Gwynivara couldn’t figure out where it originated from. She could feel something pressing against her cheek, something hard, bumpy, and cold. Darkness clouded her entire vision, and she briefly wondered if she had died. The feeling in her head started to come back, and it felt sore all over. At this point, she realized her eyes had been closed this whole time. When she tried to open them, her head throbbed sharply. She knew it would hurt, but she had to get her eyes open. They were so heavy, which made it difficult to lift her eyelids, but slowly, she did just that. At first, all she saw was a beige, brick wall, and that didn’t give her any clues as to where she had woken up. Memories slowly flooded back, and the last thing she recalled was walking down a dark street towards the mountain. She remembered seeing a bright light before everything went hazy. A shadowy figure had stood before her, and everything after that remained a mystery.
She heard groaning next to her, and it dawned on her that she had her people with her when she got attacked and didn’t know if they were safe or not. She bolted up and saw them laying in a heap on the ground. Thankfully, she felt a cascade of relief as she saw that they were all breathing and starting to stir. She wanted to reach out to them, but she couldn’t move her arms, and it then occurred to her that her hands were bound. Before she could process anything else, she heard a door open, and the light from the other room practically blinded her. A familiar voice observed, “Oh good, you’re awake.”
It took her a moment to recognize him, but her subconscious figured it out. Without thinking, she inquired, “Chief Forsythe?”
The door closed, and in the dim light of the room, Gwynivara confirmed that it was, indeed, Chief Forsythe. She felt fully awake now and after noticing the bars, she figured out that they were locked up in a jail cell. Chief Forsythe informed her, “While you were unconscious, we ran your fingerprints. We know who you are. I ordered my men to surround the place, so don’t try any funny stuff!”
As the Rebel officers woke up, Gwynivara felt comforted knowing for sure they were alright so that she could focus on finding answers on what happened and why they were there. She knew that Chief Forsythe didn’t keep them here for no reason. “What do you want?”
Chief Forsythe told her, “The only reason you’re not in quarantine is the FBI wants to talk to you. They’re driving down from DC as we speak.”
“The FBI?” Kierram questioned.
“Yes,” Chief Forsythe replied. “They believe that you’re in possession of illegal weapons.”
Bernadette objected, “We paid for those! You know who my father is! We have the money!”
Chief Forsythe argued, “One of my officers nearly got killed in an unnatural way. Don’t tell me you did that legally! Besides, why would innocent citizens possess a military level arsenal?”
“Not for any malicious reasons!” Gwynivara countered. “We’re simply training.”
“Training for what?” Chief Forsythe probed.
Gwynivara hesitated. She certainly didn’t owe him an explanation, and truthfully, she didn’t see the point of one. Either way, whether she helped him or not, they were going to get set to quarantine, so she didn’t see how telling him anything about the mission would help the Rebels out. Plus, she certainly didn’t want to give away where the rest of the Rebels were hiding or the weapons that they had. However, she remembered what Rebekah had disclosed with them about her father. He desperately wanted to find a cure, so much so that he got tunnel vision in an attempt to find it. He probably had no idea how much his officers were manipulating him. She didn’t know how else to help her people out other than get on his good side. It was a long shot, but she decided a small chance was better than no chance. She took a deep breath and revealed, “Partly, we have to defend ourselves against your men. Not because they want to hurt us, but they’re trying to use us to spread Venenatus Sanguis!”
“Bull shit!” Chief Forsythe clearly didn’t believe her, which she was the reaction she expected to get at first.
Bernadette put in, “It’s true. They’re just using you!”
Chief Forsythe refuted, “You’re spreading the disease by refusing to be quarantined. They’re helping us contain it.”
“Oh yeah?” Kierram disputed. “Haven’t you noticed things getting more hectic since they were sworn in?” Chief Forsythe didn’t say anything, but they could tell he was refusing to admit it to them. “They’re using their position of power to make it more widespread, and they’re doing it in plain sight!”
Chief Forsythe obviously didn’t want to believe them. Before he could debate the issue further, he got distracted by the noise of commotion outside. Everyone listened intently as it sounded like the policemen out there had encountered someone causing trouble, and the Rebels were especially interested in who it may be, hoping some of their comrades were coming to rescue them. Gwynivara didn’t have a clue how they would get out of this, but she hoped that the others had found a way to outsmart the police force. To their dismay, the noise died down, and Chief Forsythe turned his attention back to them. “Why would my men want to spread Venenatus Sanguis?”
Gwynivara explained, “They work for the one who created the disease! They’re double agents trying to stop us from getting the cure!”
Before Chief Forsythe could respond, they heard commotion in the hallway. Chief Forsythe stood up in a ready position as a couple of policemen burst in. One of them frantically apologized, “I’m sorry, sir! We tried to stop her!”
They could see a female push past the group of policemen, and everyone’s curiosity peaked. When her presence came in to view, Chief Forsythe gasped, “Rebekah!”
As he stepped towards her, Rebekah brandished a dagger to her throat and warned him, “Don’t come any closer!”
“Rebekah!” Chief Forsythe said in complete astonishment. Some policemen pointed their guns at her, and so Chief Forsythe bellowed, “Stand down! That’s my daughter!” After the policemen reluctantly put down their weapons, Chief Forsythe took another step towards her, “Rebekah…!”
“I’ll do it!” She furrowed the dagger further into her neck, which actually drew a little bit of blood.
“Okay, okay!” Chief Forsythe stepped back, viscerally scared. “Why are you doing this?”
“You’re keeping the cure from us!” Before Chief Forsythe could object, she went on, “If they’re in here, the origin will get away and we’ll never get the cure! I’m not spending the rest of my life trapped like a rat! I won’t do it!”
“What do you mean by the origin?” Chief Forsythe asked.
Gwynivara nervously answered, “The origin of Venenatus Sanguis.”
Manically, Rebekah commanded, “Listen to them or I’ll do it!”
Chief Forsythe turned to the Rebels with a grave look on his face. “Talk.”
Gwynivara told him, “The origin is hiding in the Athas Ridge. That’s the reason we were in that neighborhood and that’s why they ambushed us there.”
“They told me you were hiding there,” Chief Forsythe remarked.
Bernadette commented, “They did that to keep you away from the one with the cure! They’ve been deceiving you from the beginning because they work for the origin. They use the badge to help spread the disease without consequences.”
“They’re also using it to suppress what you know about Venenatus Sanguis,” Kierram added. “They have people on the inside of the Public Health Center who destroy any research people find relating to the truth of the cure.”
“That was them? They told me you did it!” Chief Forsythe shook his head. “I don’t know! I can’t just release you! You’re criminals and you make our streets unsafe!”
Gwynivara calmly responded, “With all due respect, the only real law we broke was evading quarantine. We got the weapons to protect ourselves against your men, but we also have been training to fight against the origin. We don’t really know what to expect though. She’s from another planet, so our weapons could end up being useless. We don’t know! We would love to have a peaceful negotiation with her, but considering she’s trying to destroy the planet, I highly doubt that’ll happen. The Rebellion exists so we can find the cure and save lives. We’re no threat to the public!”
“You may not intend to hurt the public,” Chief Forsythe debated, “but you still create those monsters. That makes you dangerous, and I gotta protect the citizens of this city. No one would stand for your kind being around them!”
“That’s not true!” Rebekah vehemently disagreed. “My boyfriend doesn’t have it, and-!”
“Boyfriend?” Chief Forsythe certainly didn’t seem to have expected to hear that.
“That’s right!” Rebekah confirmed. “”He loves me and wants to be with me; he doesn’t care that I have the disease! He cares about all of the Rebels! He even risked his life to follow them tonight and make sure that they were safe!” Gwynivara and the others were surprised to hear this, but it did explain how Rebekah knew that they were in trouble.
Chief Forsythe didn’t look totally sold. “That’s great he accepts you, but don’t you think it’s irresponsible to be around people who don’t have it? You’re putting them at risk!”
“No I’m not!” Rebekah exclaimed. “If we’re happy, we don’t create beasts! Actually, they can harness the Venenatus Sanguis to do their bidding!”
“Is this true?” Chief Forsythe asked the Rebels.
Gwynivara answered, “Yes, it’s true. That’s how I defended myself outside of the military supply store.”
“Why haven’t you shared this with the Public Health Center?” As soon as the sentence came out, he figured it out. “Oh, right.” He furrowed his brow as he contemplated everything. “What if you’re lying?”
“If you give us a chance to confront the origin and get the cure,” Gwynivara explained, “and if after everything, you still feel like we’ve deceived you, we will happily return to our jail cell. But if we’re right, we can save a lot of lives!”
Chief Forsythe took a moment to really wrestle with his decision. He glanced at his daughter and finally relented, “Fine. Now, is there anything you need from me before you go?”
Inspiration striking her, Gwynivara replied, “Actually, there is one thing…”