VIII: The World On Fire

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T H E   F O R S A K E N

Hope County Jail
Henbane River Territory

Joey Hudson strolled into the main hall of prison, where they usually convened. With her own lieutenant in tow, she carefully stepped forward into the light. A grimace graced her naturally soft features when she spotted Pratt already seated at the table with two of his men behind him. He'd fluttered his fingers in a teasing wave at her entrance, to which she flipped him off.

"Come on in dear, the water's fine." Pratt jeered, waving her over. "Though I gotta say, boss, I love what you've done with the place."

"Yeah, yeah." The old man grumbled.

Hudson quickly stood at attention, straightened her back and stiffened her posture, though she seemed uncomfortable as her superior didn't yet face her. "You wanted to see me, sir?"

Sheriff Earl Whitehorse was so fixated on the large map of the County that he had spread out for his observation on the far wall. Lines of yarn connected pinned photos of the Seed family and their remaining supporters, some with small red x's through them to show him the ones who had perished. Not one of the Heralds or Joseph's photo remained touched, saved a few of the pinholes where Pratt decided to play darts with their faces as targets on the cork wall. Most of the outposts that had long since been liberated from the hold of Eden's Gate were crossed out with thick black sharpie, ones that remained open and as hostile as a DMZ were littered with notes and scrawl only he could decipher. He was still for a moment, focused on the small unclaimed territory he left granted to Joseph Seed. It wasn't that it was granted, so much that it hadn't yet been surrendered; the place he declared sanctuary was locked down tight and they had little to no way of getting to the Father without losing many more of their own.

"Sir?" Joey called for him again.

The bushy moustache of the Sheriff furrowed; he had been waiting impatiently for Hudson's arrival for some time. His greying eyes narrowed as he clicked his tongue, shaking his head in disappointment.

"I'm sorry for the delay, sir. Things got... complicated." She grumbled. The leather of her gloves tightened as she balled them into fists, before shoving them into her pockets to hold in the anger and disdain she had looming over her after the escape of Diana and John Seed.

With his hands clasped behind his back, and a deep, exasperated breath, Whitehorse finally turned to face her.

She felt prompted to speak as soon as she was graced with his attention. "As of right now, the Seeds are all—"

"Hiding out on Joseph's island. Nothing warms my heart like brothers reunited, hm?" He glared, his gaze as stone-cold as his tone. "We lost the Siren as well, not too long ago, and reports that some of the Bliss burns got delayed due to... what these prisoners are calling divine interference. Tell me you have something new or beneficial to report, because I know you didn't come here to waste my time, Deputy Hudson."

"Hiding out..." Pratt scoffed, "Fucking pussies. Doesn't help that you conveniently left the door unlocked so John could just stroll right on out, eh, Jo?"

Hudson flexed, popping her knuckles. She lowered her spiteful glower to the floor before looking back up at Whitehorse, even if her response was meant for her facetious cohort. "T-that was a mistake and an oversight, and I already paid for that."

"We all are." Staci added. "A damn oversight is an understatement. Shit, Jo—you might as well have booked 'em all tickets on the next flights out on our dime. Hell, have Rye personally fly them safely out of here, huh?"

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