Well folks, my epic tale is finished. This is it. Thanks for coming with me on this little journey!
Evey looks like I did, V thought as Evey swayed in his arms. They were dancing, a new ritual, the calm before the storm of national gain and possible personal loss.
It was December 28th and Evey was waiting to be told Norsefire had toppled after which she would tell the British people they were safe. She had gone over her speech with him several times and V still wondered what had given him away.
He had not offered a single suggestion and he had held his posture rigidly straight to avoid body language speaking for him. He had worn the Guy Fawkes mask, knowing he did not have to anymore and that Evey hated it. He knew it was a wall she thought had tumbled, and for the most part it had, but not for this.
He would remove it later and things would return to normal, but for now their battles were separate and the wall between them necessary.
Evey was wearing a green dress and V wondered if it was intentionally symbolic. There was a slight floral pattern in the fabric calling to mind spring with its renewal and warmth. She was mother earth, reborn. "You look beautiful."
Evey said nothing as she continued to sway in his arms with her head resting on his shoulder. The slight squeeze of her arms around him was the only answer she gave. His Evey was no longer the frightened fearful wallflower she had been so long ago, before he freed her…don't think about that.
Evey had become a lightening rod, attracting power and grounding it, directing deadly energy and making it safe. She had done it at home…their home…and she had done it with the powerful people she had drawn to her cause. V had absolute faith she could do it with a nation.
"What are you thinking?" Evey asked quietly, stepping back to look up at him but still in the circle of V's arms.
"Then must you strive to be worthy of her love. Be brave and pure, fearless to the strong and humble to the weak; and so, whether this love prosper of no, you will have fitted yourself to be honored by a…nation's…love, which is, in sooth, the highest guerdon which a true knight can hope for." (33)
"Quoting again." She chuckled and rested her head again on his shoulder.
"Yes, but only where appropriate." V replied through a smile of his own.
"Everything will be okay."
"Yes." V answered wondering who she was talking to. Perhaps his voice had sounded uncertain or betrayed some fear he was unaware of.
"We will win tonight, I know it."
"Yes." He said again understanding now Evey was reassuring herself, not him. His arms wrapped around her tighter and he cursed the mask which kept him from kissing her.
Evey looked up at him. "Am I being placated?"
"No." V denied, totally confident in everything Evey had said and wanting her to know it. "You are being supported."
She stretched up and kissed the cursed mask. "I love dancing with you."
V pulled her tighter, loving the feel of her tiny body against his. "As do I."
Evey was swaying in the warm, comforting embrace of the love of her life when the phone rang. V's arms immediately fell away and he stepped back from her, his head slightly down and his hands clasped behind his back.
Guy Fawkes hid his face from her and she hated the mask with every fiber of her being. The phone rang again and V gestured toward where it sat atop the couch back table.
Now was not the time to worry about masks and walls. Evey walked over to the phone, picked it up and flipped it open. "Yes?"
"It's done." Eric Finch's voice, sounding grave.
"It is? You're sure?" Doubt was evident in her voice, but could not be helped. Eric's tone was not what she had expected. She expected joy.
"Mission accomplished. BTN, Buckingham, the Eye, the Ear, and the Finger are secure. Last count we had 57 in custody." He sounded tired.
Evey glanced at V, but he was gone. She turned around wanting to share this moment with him, but he was no longer in the room. Unable to sacrifice the time now, she refocused her attention on Finch and asked the questions necessary to inform the people.
Thirty minutes later she nodded against the phone and said, "Okay."
"Tell them, Evey. It's time." Finch's voice was stronger, more resolute now. He sounded like he had accomplished something great and carried the burden of it.
"I will." Evey promised, overwhelmed by the moment. They had succeeded. All they had worked for, all V had sacrificed for had come to pass. England was free. Her voice was shaky when she spoke again, "Eric? Thank you."
"No, thank you." He hung up.
Turning to the empty room, Evey said, "It's time."
Evey walked to the Caravaggio and went into the computer room. Inside she pulled the switch to turn everything on and moved back to her mark before the camera. She had five seconds from the time she pulled the switch to when the broadcast began.
The green light she had been waiting for came on and Evey began. "Good evening, London. My name is Evey Hammond and it is my pleasure to inform you that tonight we are once again a free nation."
She paused, allowing the words to sink in before repeating them, "We are free."
"Our former leaders are in custody and will be tried according to the law. The question which logically follows is what law? Who's law?"
"Once, a long time ago, our nation was faced with the same question. Civil war broke out as the English people were divided. It was a religious war, yes, but it was also a war about leadership."
"We learned a lot from the Commonwealth and the Restoration which followed. From Cromwell's Commonwealth came the idea of representative law. People wanted a voice in their government and checks on the power of kings. From the Restoration of Charles II we learned the power of tradition and the need for creativity and free speech."
"In times of fear it's natural to look for a leader, someone who will guide us from our terror and into a place of safety. Fear is the easiest thing to manipulate. To create fear is to take control."
"I am aware you are afraid. I was too, until V showed me how to take back my power by refusing to be afraid. He showed me that when you decide you have nothing left to lose you are at your most powerful and we, all of us, we have nothing left to lose do we?"
"We have given up our freedom to move, to speak, to believe, to learn, and to love. What is left to give up? What is left for the black bags to take? What remains of the people we were?"
"Memories." Evey said, her voice drenched in tears, but strong in spite of her sorrow, the phoenix raised from ashes. "We know who we were. We remember better times. We speak in hushed tones about how things used to be and quietly hope things can go back to how they were before Norsefire told us they knew what we wanted and if we gave up our power to choose they would guide us away from fear. We remained fearful."
"V told us we did not have to live in fear. He pointed out the fear we hoped to avoid by giving up our power was only made worse by our acquiescence." For a moment Evey was back in her cell afraid for her life, but no longer willing to bow to her terror. "He told us if we believed in him, if we could believe in ourselves, we could regain our integrity and our power. V promised a new world…and then he died and it seemed like hope died with him."
A tear slid down her cheek and Evey brushed it away, refusing to give in to sadness. "But V showed us their weakness. No one is more afraid than the dictator himself. He knows how unstable his pedestal is and he knows that one wobble is all it takes for those he rules to realize how vulnerable he is and how truly powerful they are. V understood this and he proved to us all how weak Chancellor Sutler really was."
"V showed me…us the power of hope." A smile lit her face as she remembered her night in the rain when her fear was shed and she roared victory to the fertile sky.
"I know you fear the replacement of one dictator with another. I've worried about it, too, but we have a long and storied history to look to for guidance. As of today an interim government will be operating under the rule of law as established prior to the election of Norsefire. We will be bound to the same code of ethics history has always held us to. The purpose of the interim government is to hold a series of public votes to decide what our permanent government should look like."
"There are huge questions to ask and answer about our future government. Do we want to restore the monarchy? Do we want to restore both houses of Parliament? What criteria do we want to use to choose our leaders? What sort of power should they weald? What districts will they represent and how will those be determined? What laws do we want to keep and which do we want to discard? How do we make sure we never give into fear again?"
"These are not questions I can answer by myself. They're not questions an interim government can answer either. You have to make these decisions."
Though the speech was planned, Evey made an unexpected connection. She had paid lip service to V's refusal to be involved in the future and his insistence on being dead in public if not in private. His intentions were suddenly clear and she spoke her understanding as she thought it. "V did not leave a roadmap for us to follow because he didn't want to be followed. The path he walked was vengeance and he knew he couldn't be our guide into the future because he had none. He knew what he was doing would kill him, but he gladly sacrificed himself to offer us freedom. It is up to us to accept his gift and decide together what the future of our country will be."
She paused, letting the weight of V's gift settle on her listeners as it was on her. When she began again she spoke of the known future. "For the time being we are going to gradually take down the framework of Norsefire. We have to be mindful of the economic impact of this change. This is a time for celebration, not violence and crime. Posted on the interlink is the civil code from 2000 which the interim government will use as its foundation. Please take a look at it and know that even though Norsefire is no longer in control there are still laws. I hope you will stay home with your families and digest this change. I hope you will go to work tomorrow knowing you are free and that you are working not to support a corrupt government but to support your families. I hope you visit the website and understand the current legal environment and act accordingly."
"Police services remain available, headed by Eric Finch. In the spirit of honesty I will tell you he was a Norsefire party member for twenty years. Many of you probably wonder why you should trust him. The answer is because V did."
"I am sure many of you wonder if Norsefire party membership will be held against you. The interim government will not view party membership as a crime. However, there are those who, under the mantle of party membership, committed acts of cruelty which according to the 2000 code are criminal. Those people will face justice."
"We have to look to history to guide the future and decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. Upcoming votes will be based on the 2000 code and whether we want to uphold it, or discard it issue by issue. We have enlisted BTN to help us. It made me very happy when I heard blacklisted items were not destroyed but locked away. The vaults are open and the airwaves will be filled with programming about our history and our legal system as it used to be. BTN has agreed to not only air blacklisted items but will also air debates about the decisions we have to make. I know its hard to believe, but they will no longer a tool of propaganda but part of a free media which is something vital to a free nation."
"Furthermore, the Ear is turned off. The Eye is no longer watching. There is no curfew. Feel free to visit family and friends without fear of reprisals if you're out too late. Read what you want. Talk about anything, everything. Go to the country. The quarantine is lifted, it was never necessary in the first place."
Evey heaved a deep breath. She had agonized about how to phrase what she knew about Saint Mary's and had decided to be honest from the start, but to say it aloud hurt. "We were told Saint Mary's was an act of bioterrorism. It was. We were told Muslim extremists were responsible. They weren't. I have the sad duty to tell you it was a Norsefire experiment which created the disease and it was Chancellor Sutler who released it to overrun us with fear and ride the tide to power. There were a very select few who knew of this experimentation and V, who was among its first victims, has dealt with everyone who was affiliated with creating and releasing Saint Mary's."
Her voice wavered and she could not stop her eyes from watering as she shared her own losses. "My brother died of the disease and when I learned who was really responsible I wanted blood. I am ashamed to admit it. I wanted someone to blame, someone to hate and punish for what happened to my family."
"There is no one left but ourselves." She said the damning words knowing some would not be able to hear her. Even she struggled offering her own excuse of being too young to understand what was going on, but that was moot. The important part was, "Those directly responsible are dead. The rest of us carry the burden of blame because we allowed fear to overrun reason. We didn't ask questions we should have asked. We leapt to judgment against innocent Muslims because it was easier than probing deeper."
"We stand in risk of doing it all over again. It would be easy to blame neighbors and coworkers who belonged to the party, but it would also be very wrong. Most members didn't agree with Norsefire policies anymore than the rest of us. We all know party members had access to better food, jobs, healthcare, schools and a host of other services. A choice between integrity and an empty stomach is not an easy one, and people who chose to eat should not be condemned."
Evey realized she was still angry herself. Well, she had known, but the strength of her anger was more than she anticipated and she had to tell herself as much as her audience that there was no need for vengeance. "To reiterate, those responsible for Saint Mary's are dead. Those responsible for government sponsored terror have been arrested and are being arrested as we speak. More arrests will follow."
"What's the difference you may ask? You've heard many speeches about arrests and responsibility. How do you know things have changed? What makes me any different than Chancellor Sutler?"
Evey had fought hard for this part. Feeling proud of herself Evey continued, "The men and women currently arrested and those being arrested are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They will have access to all evidence against them and they will be represented by attorneys in court. They will be judged by a jury of their peers and if they are found to be guilty they will be sentenced under the laws of 2000. If they are found innocent they will be set free."
Because all of them had listened to Chancellor Sutler say exactly the same thing, Evey further clarified, "Their trials will be conducted in the open. There will be no backroom deals and no predetermined outcomes. We will have a transparent judicial system, interim government, and hopefully a transparent future government if that is what you choose."
"V chose me. I will never understand why, but I will live up to his confidence as best I can and as his chosen representative I will be the voice of the interim government." That was all she was going to do and Evey wanted that known up front. "However, I will not be part of the future government. My name will not be on any ballot and i will not accept an office if I am written in. I simply want to complete V's work. This coming November 5th the interim government will step down and the government you elect will take over. My work will be done and V's hope will be fulfilled."
"The future is what we make of it. Together we will determine what it will look like for our children and grandchildren. Thank you, and good night."
Evey switched off the camera and as soon as the green light went out she slumped to her knees and wept.
V sat in the living room watching BTN.
A commentator was reiterating what Evey had just said and she looked relieved. Her words were hopeful and upbeat.
V flipped the channel and again found a commentator discussing Evey's speech. Another channel, another commentator…even the international channels were picking up the story and running with it.
All he had hoped for was happening now.
It was over.
His work was finally done.
V reached up and pulled off the Guy Fawkes mask, suddenly feeling suffocated by it. He pulled off the black cloth mask beneath it and his skin was exposed to cool air. He felt hot, like his body was burning….and he was back at Larkhill, walking through the wreckage, triumphant.
He saw the bodies of his enemies lying before him, his feet flamed like a god's as he stepped over them, defeating them just by having the power to keep walking. He was death, walking over the graves of those who sought his ruin and V was happier than he had ever been before.
Suddenly V stood up, the motion as fluid as it had ever been, his arms went above his head, and he was roaring.
Evey's head snapped up. The sound coming from down the hall was like nothing she had ever heard before. She climbed to her feet and ran.
V stood in the center of the living room, his face uncovered and the emotion on it naked rage. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, and Evey was certain he had finally snapped.
She stopped still in the hallway and sought cover against the wall. She understood. Evey had expected to be elated when the news came, but she had been sobbing since going off the air. It was as if a dam had broken on the inside and things she had not allowed herself to feel had come crashing through.
Her heart was broken. So much had been lost and their victory today seemed hollow and too late….but she knew it was not. It was the greatest day of her life even if it hurt like hell.
V's arms came down and he quieted, his attention turning back to the telly. He slumped to the floor in a cross legged seat and stared. Evey's attention followed his.
A female commentator gushed, "A historic day today as England finally says enough is enough. Moments ago, Evey Hammond, once thought to be a hostage to a terrorist and later believed to be a terrorist herself, went on the air at BTN and told the world England is free from the oppressive regime that ruled it for the last twenty years."
"It has always been whispered the St. Mary's virus was a government experiment gone wrong. Today she confirmed it calling the disease a mechanism of control created and released by the Norsefire party to gain leadership of the last freestanding country in the world."
"Sources on the ground confirm Norsefire agencies used Gestapo tactics to keep citizens under control in the disease ravaged country. Today, at six pm local time, coordinated assaults were carried out against the remaining Norsefire hierarchy which fell. Hundreds of arrests have been made and sources say arrests are on going."
"We have not heard reports of looting or violence yet, most people seem to be staying indoors as Ms. Hammond requested…."
Her co-anchor busted in, "Did Ms. Hammond make any references to V, the terrorist….or should I say liberator….of the English people? He was the man who started this ball rolling after all."
"She did, Dave. She said V had dealt with those responsible for St. Mary's. Later she said those people were dead. We can only assume she was referring to the men and one woman V is known to have killed last year."
"It seems this revolution so far is pretty peaceful." Dave said, smiling.
"Yes, surprisingly so. Of course, Ms. Hammond asked the citizenry to…."
"It is finished." V said in a voice so soft Evey almost did not hear him.
The finality of his tone made Evey think of his death. He had never expected to live to see this day. What must he be thinking? All Evey could think of was the future which was no available to him...to them, together. Wanting to remind V there was something to look forward to she said, "Yes and just begun."
He turned and looked at her, ice blue eyes swimming in tears. "We are free."
Evey bowed her head, acknowledging his sacrifice, "We are thanks to you."
V smiled and crawled the distance between them. With no hesitation he put his arms around her. Evey sank back into his embrace and heard him whisper by her ear, "And you."
(33) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The White Company
I posted the first chapter of this over two years ago…can you believe it? Time has flown by…for me at least.
I am sure to some of you it will seem like I left you hanging, but this story was primarily about V and Evey and only secondarily about the revolution V started. I wanted to keep going until V was able to feel loved.
However, how could V really be loved without his great gift to the world being recognized? How could Evey ignore the job V gave her? No, I had to finish the revolution too. I could go into how the new government went and how V and Evey changed over the next year, but I think it would be a let down after all they've already been through….so…the end.
I want to thank all of you for sticking with me and giving me a kick in the pants every so often when I needed it. I'd like to especially thank Belmont-Bellamy for not letting me quit the several times I wanted to and to apologize for falling off the face of the map for so long.
Thanks to all of you who read or reviewed or put this story on your alerts/favorites lists or all three. It has meant a lot to me.
Also, I have a short sequel in mind that will explain the pattern I mentioned. I just could not make it fit in this story. Maybe the next.
Again, thanks for all the support!