Year One: Duquesa Bay
Chapter Four

"Off the Rails"

TRAIN DERAILS! KCON Breaking News!

    Just past the intersection of Riverbank Drive and the 101, total chaos surrounds the scene as emergency personnel try to cordon off the area from onlookers. Six of the train's 17 cars are completely engulfed in flames as two others teeter precariously on the side of the bridge. A huge plume of oily dark smoke rises into the sky. The KCON news van arrives with the rest of the media.

Morrigan: (Looking at the madness before her) Dear God!

Gracie: (Speaking to the station) BENNY, ARE YOU GUYS READY OVER THERE? - WE'LL BE GOING LIVE IN TWO MINUTES... START THE COUNT

    Morrigan heads for a police officer as Gracie sets up the shot.

The wreck burns... MM: OFFICER, OFFICER... could you please tell us what happened here?

Cop: Sorry Ma'am, you're going to have to wait for our Public Information Officer just like everyone else

Morrigan: Can you at least tell me if there have been any deaths?

Cop: There have been fatalities - again, you'll have to wait for more details... now, I'm going to have to ask you two ladies to step back

Morrigan: Thank you, officer

    Zach comes rushing over.

Zach: I just talked to one of my fireman buddies - they're going to start evacuating 10 square blocks of the surrounding area because of toxic smoke and fumes

Gracie: Great, I just had the van washed!

Morrigan: How bad is it?

Zach: He said he particulate level is not that bad... yet - if this thing gets any bigger, people's lungs are going to be doing the "Benzene Boogie"

Gracie: Morri, get ready

Morrigan: (Into her mike) CHECK, CHECK... 1, 2... CHECK - they're not getting me, Gracie

Gracie: (Banging on some equipment) There's too much interference for audio but the vid feed is fine - get on the cell to the talking heads and give them all of your info, they're just going to have to read over the shot!

Morrigan: (Dialing the cell phone) If we move back about 100 yards, we might get some clearance

Gracie: Yeah, but the studio wants me in as tight as possible on the shot

Morrigan: No doubt - let me talk to the anchors and then I'll go find the DIS-information guy... let me know when we have audio

Gracie: Will do!

    Darkfin swims effortlessly up the river towards the spill, cutting through the water at upwards of 70 knots. Her sonic signature warns off the marine life in the area, clearing the river of fish. As she approaches the site, she can "taste" the change in the water. She stealthily rises from the water, concealed among some reeds and surveys the situation.

Darkfin: I'm getting really tired of this

USCG Helicopter

    Piloting a USCG helicopter, Lt. Fiore flies over the scene with Captain Phelps next to her, barking orders into his radio.

Craig: I WANT ALL WATERCRAFT OUT OF THE IMMEDIATE AREA, GET SOME TEAMS DOWN HERE TO START A CONTAINMENT BOOM AROUND THE OIL

Anita: (Looking down below) NOTHING is going to contain that shit!

Craig: (Turning off his radio) SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER, FIORE, SO SOME ASSHOLE WITH A SCANNER CAN PICK UP THAT EXACT QUOTE

Anita: Sorry - do you want me to go in closer?

Craig: Nah, I can see all I need to see - remain at this level, we can coordinate better with this vantage point

    Hidden below, Darkfin holds up her middle finger to the air.

Lt. Anita FioreAnita: (Looking out at the rising smoke and growing oil slick) The wind speed is low, the spill is fresh and the water current is less than a knot... we have perfect conditions for an in-situ burn!

Craig: There's a nearby residential area southeast of here

Anita: The wind isn't blowing in that direction

Craig: For now

Anita: The conditions aren't going to get any better

Craig: Fine, Anita, go ahead and click the red tape scissors shoes three times - let's see what happens

Anita: Dammit, Craig, time is of the essence!

Craig: There are too many variables and we need the Federal and State On-Scene Coordinators' permission with a residential area so close by

Anita: IT'S THE FREAKING WEEKEND, THEY WON'T BE HERE FOR HOURS

Craig: That's not our fault, is it?

Anita: (Slamming her hand down on the panel) This is Alaskan North Slope Crude Oil, once it hits the bay, we're going to have another Exxon Valdez on our hands - it will take YEARS to clean up

Capt. Craig PhelpsCP: At least someone will be getting an employment opportunity out of it

Anita: HOW CAN YOU BE SO CAVALIER? - think of what it'll cost the people living here!

Craig: THINK of our CAREERS going up in FLAMES if one person so much as COUGHS because of the fire WE set

Anita: Save a few people... or an entire ecosystem - I say we choose the latter

Craig: NOW who is the one being cavalier? - you've been hanging around your brother-in-law too much!

Anita: At least Sandy, Shelby and Erika are trying to figure out ways to help

Craig: Well, unless those science wizards are down there with magic wands, there's nothing any of us can do at this point

Darkfin: (Clutching her trident and watching the slick spread towards the faster currents of the river) What are these fools waiting for, LIGHT IT

    Calculating in her head and gauging the surrounding factors, Darkfin looks at the train.

Darkfin: Just the right angle

    On a cliff overhead, Morrigan and Zach question the Information Officer as the evening sky is obscured by flame and smoke.

Info Officer: At this point, we can't rule out sabotage but we have no conclusive evidence yet and no further comment

Morrigan: But one witness said there was a small explosion BEFORE the train derailed

Info Officer: We have no confirmation of that yet - we're looking into faulty tracks, as well as, human error - it will take awhile before we know for sure

Zach: At this time, there are two dead and three injured - all crew members of the train?

Info Officer: That is correct

Morrigan: Most of the cargo is from Meer-A-Mar Shipping, when can we expect to talk with them?

Info Officer: They are helping set up a command center and will have a statement for you within the hour

Zach: How is the evacuation going?

Info Officer: Smoothly - a few people have been treated at local hospitals for smoke inhalation - but, as long as the wind continues to blow to the northwest, we don't foresee a problem

    Out of the corner of her eye, Morrigan notices something in one of the wrecked cars by the bridge.

Morrigan: Excuse me, I'll be right back

    The young reporter snakes her way around the confusion and tries to get a closer look. Zach trails behind her.

Zach: McBride, what are you doing?

Morrigan: (Making her way down a side embankment) I think... IT IS... IT'S A MAN... HE'S TRAPPED BEHIND THE CAR

Zach: I'LL GO FOR HELP

Morrigan: (Now inching along the bridge towards the man) THERE'S NO TIME FOR THAT, THIS WHOLE BRIDGE IS ABOUT TO GO UP IN FLAMES

Zach: DON'T DO IT, HE'S PROBABLY ALREADY DEAD

Morrigan: WHAT IF HE ISN'T?

Zach: (Now following cautiously behind her) FIRST RULE OF JOURNALISM, NEVER BE PART OF THE STORY

Morrigan: FIRST RULE OF HUMANITY, ALWAYS HELP OTHERS

    As Gracie pans the scene with her camera, she notices Morrigan and Zach.

Gracie: (Zooming in) NO... NONONONO, WHAT IN THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?

    Above, in the helicopter, Anita and Craig also spot the situation.

Craig: (Screaming into his radio) WE'VE GOT CIVILIANS ON THE BRIDGE, GET THEM OUT OF THERE

Anita: (Flying in closer) IT LOOKS LIKE ISAACSON AND MCBRIDE... CHRIST ALMIGHTY

    With trident in hand, Darkfin takes a deep breath and positions herself carefully.

Darkfin: It will still be a mess, but at least it's a mess that can be handled

    The two reporters reach the man and start to carry him to safety. As they near the edge of the bridge, the man chokes and gasps.

Man: Ahhgh... Pete... he's still inside... HELP HIM

    Morrigan takes off back to the car, towards the smoke and flames.

Zach: DON'T DO IT, THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TIME

Gracie: (Watching through the camera lens) WHY IS SHE GOING BACK?

Anita: (From the helicopter) JESUS, SHE'S GOING BACK

    Darkfin bangs the bottom of her trident down hard on a rock to activate the charge. She prepares to throw it.

Darkfin: Time's up

    Inside the car, Morrigan looks frantically for another man.

Morrigan: PETE... PETE... CAN YOU HEAR ME?

    A small whimper is heard over the increasing roar of the flames. The woman finds a frightened Border Collie crawling towards her.

Morrigan: Pete? - C'MON BOY, IT'S OK, C'MON

    Grabbing the dog in her arms, Morrigan starts to run as fast as she can. Before she makes it off the bridge, everything in back of her explodes into flames.

 

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