Year One: Duquesa Bay

"Spinning, Weaving, Tangling"

Inside the main, marble lobby of the Meer-A-Mar corporate headquarters, the press gathers for a statement about the events that took place on one of the company's ships four nights ago. Karl von Meer Sr. frantically dials his cell phone as Doug Martel watches his son, Griffin, approach the podium.

Karl Sr.: (Into the phone) Dammit, KJ, where are you? - this is important, can't you get out of court for once? - no, I don't know where Erika is... it sure would be nice if at least ONE of my children gave a damn about our family's interests!

Sighing, Karl Sr. pockets the phone as Doug pats him on the back.

Doug: Relax, old man, Griff will take care of this

Karl Sr.: That's what I'm afraid of

Doug: At least he's here - that's more than I can say for your two

Griffin: (Speaking into the mike) Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you all for coming - I will issue a brief statement and then take a few of your questions... last Thursday night, two gruesome discoveries were made aboard "The Maleeva" a Meer-A-Mar Industries tanker based out of the Black Sea - one, it was carrying an illegal arms shipment and two, the crew was viciously attacked by an unknown assailant - we are currently cooperating with the United States Coast Guard, as well as several local and international law enforcement agencies to remedy this situation...

Doug: (Watching the women in the room watch Griffin) The ladies all used to look at me like that

Karl Sr.: (Rolling his eyes) Yes, I remember the academy very well

Doug: It wasn't just the academy... what I can't figure out is when exactly did it stop?

Karl Sr.: Maybe when you got married... again - and your wife, who is comparable in age to your daughter, gave birth

Doug: Funny, I don't feel any different - I see my son up there right now, he has my looks, my charm, he IS me... except a few decades younger

Karl Sr.: We're all getting older, Douglas, learn to accept it

Doug: I don't want to, I still feel 30!

Karl Sr.: Weren't you telling me earlier about how you get leg cramps whenever you ride your Harley?

Doug: (Grimacing) I still feel 30 mentally

Karl Sr.: You should be happy with what you have accomplished with your life, most men would kill for a quarter of what you have

Doug: It doesn't seem like enough

Griffin: In conclusion, Meer-A-Mar had no prior knowledge of this cargo - an internal investigation into this matter has been launched and we will promptly deal with anyone involved - the authorities and the media will be kept apprised of our findings, thank you...

Doug: (To Karl Sr.) Ursula wants me to have liposuction

Karl Sr.: Martel, we are in the middle of a crisis here!

Doug: This is not a crisis - a crisis would be a shipment full of mutilated babies

Karl Sr.: (Shaking his head) I can't believe you just said that

Doug: It's the truth - this is an incident at best and tomorrow it will be a forgotten memory - it's the glory of the fast-paced society we live in now

Karl Sr.: We have four dead men and several others severely injured

Doug: Gun-running Bulgarians, who cares?

Karl Sr.: Their families?

Doug: Griffin has already made arrangements for a generous settlement - even though we are NOT at fault

Karl Sr.: He seems to have everything under control

Doug: He better!

Griffin: (Looking out over the reporters) I'll take a few questions now... Ms. Shepperton

The KCON reporter and weekend anchor stands and gives a soft smile.

Doug: (Aside to Karl Sr.) You know, Erika better watch out

Karl Sr.: What do you mean?

Doug: I mean that Kylee Shepperton is real competition for Griffin's affections

Karl Sr.: Ah

Doug: I absolutely cannot understand why Erika keeps him at bay?

Karl Sr.: (To himself) Because my daughter is smart

Kylee: Mr. Martel, there are allegations that this was the work of a vigilante - is this true?

Griffin: I will defer to the proper authorities on that subject... next question

Doug: (Whispering) There's talk among the crew that it was that she-creature again

Karl Sr.: Oh, for heaven's sake, you don't believe that garbage, do you?

Doug: I don't know

Karl Sr.: C'mon, Doug - next thing you'll be telling me is that the Loch Ness monster just bought a summer home off of Beacon Point and that Big Foot is applying for a job on the loading docks!

Doug: All I'm saying, Karl, is that I don't rule it out - I've seen too much in my life to ever rule anything out

Karl Sr.: You've been watching too much of your wife's crazy TV show

Doug: (Glancing at his watch and taking off) Speaking of which, I promised to meet her for lunch

As the press conference disperses, Griffin comes over to Karl Sr.

Griffin: Where's my father?

Karl Sr.: He took off for lunch

Griffin: (Looking down) Oh

Karl Sr.: (Patting the man on the back) You did a fine job, Griffin

Griffin: Thank you - tell me, have you heard from Erika today?

Karl Sr.: No, I haven't seen her since Thursday - KJ said she went for a sail

Griffin: (Searching the room) Where is Kage?

Karl Sr.: (Clenching his jaw) Not here

The elder von Meer heads back to his office as Kylee struts up to Griffin.

Griffin: May I buy you some coffee, Ms. Shepperton?

Kylee: (Smiling) Don't you have a cappuccino machine in your office?

Griffin: Let's find out

Sprawled on a blue and white couch with Tallulah the tarantula on her stomach, Morrigan watches the press conference on TV. She casually answers the ringing phone on the wicker table beside her.

Morrigan: (Still watching the TV) Hello, Gracie - yes, Gracie - I saw the whole thing, Gracie - no, Gracie, this is my day off - I just got in from Dallas two hours ago - alright, Gracie - yes, she is a slut - I'll see you tomorrow - goodbye, Gracie!

The diminutive brunette puts the phone back with one hand as she carefully strokes the spider with the other.

Morrigan: (To Tallulah) That was Crazy Gracie - you'll meet her soon enough - that guy in the lower right corner of the screen picking his nose during the press conference was Zach - they're both very weird but very nice - the KCON reporter covering it, that was Kylee, yes, THE Kylee... and I don't really think she's a slut, I think she thoroughly enjoys what she does - Gracie is insanely jealous of her... I suppose I can understand her POV - Zach is just pissed he can't get her into bed, thus their communal hatred for all things Shepperton

McBride reaches over for the newspaper and points to a picture of Captain Phelps and Lieutenant Fiore.

Morrigan: Here are Chip n' Dale, aka "Captain Crunch" and the "Tuna Taster" - whenever I see them in their uniforms, I want to break out into Village People songs, I'm not sure why - they're doing their damnedest to keep me in the dark... ha... about Darkfin, but they can't do it much longer - you can strain freaking ziti with their account of what happened aboard the Maleeva - and I would've pressed them on it too, but I had to rescue YOU... yes, I did, I had to come get my Lil Lu from evil Auntie before she got fed up and flushed you!

Springing off the couch, Morrigan carries Tallulah on her arm and puts a Tori Amos CD in her stereo.

Morrigan: (Dancing around and singing)

Talula
Talula
I don't want to lose it
It must be worth losing
If it is worth something
Talula
Talula
She's brand new now to you
Wrapped in your papoose
Your little Fig Newton

After putting her pet back in the terrarium, Morrigan peers at it through the glass.

Morrigan: I hope you like your new home... I hope I like my new home - it's strange, part of me didn't want to come back here yet there was a bigger part of me that did

She resumes twirling around the room, singing along with the music.

And Jamaica
Do you know, do you know what I have done
Mary M weaving on said
What you want is in the blood Senators
Said what you want is in the blood Senators, yes
I got Big Bird on the fishing line
With a bit of a shout a bit of a shout
A bit of an angry snout
He's my favorite hooker of the whole bunch

There is a loud, persistent banging at her front door.

Morrigan: (Halting) ARGH

Morrigan throws it open to find Amethyst standing there wearing pink kitchen gloves, ski goggles and a "Love Animals, Don't Eat Them" apron. She's holding a giant spatula in one hand and a can of Raid in the other.

Morrigan: Um, thanks Amy, I've already had lunch

Amethyst: NO WAY, MORRI

Morrigan: How about dinner?

Amethyst: NO WAY IS THAT THING STAYING HERE

Morrigan: (Trying to look innocent) What thing?

Amethyst: (Pushing past her) THAT THING WITH EIGHT HAIRY LEGS

Morrigan: It's just a little spider

Amethyst: LITTLE? - IF YOU CONSIDER THAT LITTLE, I WOULD HATE TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND

Morrigan: (Keeping between the woman and the tarantula) You said I could have pets

Amethyst: PETS as in CATS and DOGS, maybe a ferret, but not that THING

Morrigan: C'mon, Amy, you of all people should be cool with this

Amethyst: (Spying the spider and striking a karate pose) What does that supposed to mean?

Morrigan: You can't kill, you're a Buddhist

Amethyst: But I can accidentally maim

Morrigan: Look, I'll throw in an extra $10.00 a month on the rent

Amethyst: I cannot be bought

Morrigan: $15.00?

Amethyst: Well...

Morrigan: And I think you should know that Tallulah is a Gemini... with Aries rising

Amethyst: (Relaxing) OH MY GODS, WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO BEFORE?

She goes over to the terrarium and smiles at the spider as Morrigan rolls her eyes.

Amethyst: Of course she can stay - you know, I can see she has the demeanor of an Aries rising

Morrigan: Do I still have to pay the extra $10.00 a month?

Amethyst: $15.00 and I can't be held responsible if Roshumba decides she's snack material - sorry to interrupt your shower by the way

Morrigan: (Baffled) Do I appear wet and unclothed to you?

Amethyst: (Cocking her head) I was wondering how you could properly bathe like that

Morrigan: Amy... TRY, TRY to make sense

Amethyst: I heard you singing

Morrigan: And?

Amethyst: You mean you weren't singing in the shower?

Morrigan: (Motioning to her clothes) Nnnnno

Amethyst: Euterpe lives!

Morrigan: What?

Amethyst: You have a musical gift, why do you shun it?

Tim Hajanian pokes his head in the door and gawks at Amethyst.

Tim: Um, excuse me... Morrigan?

Morrigan: Oh, hello, Tim - thanks for coming over

Tim: I have the... ahem... information you requested

Amethyst: (Taking off her goggles and looking at Tim) Do you know Leon Serna?

Tim: Yes, we used to date

Amethyst: I used to cut his hair

There is an awkward silence as all three stare at each other.

Amethyst: OK, time for me to return to my universe - Morri, from now on, please be up front with me - I don't want to find a pet alligator in my jacuzzi!

Morrigan: (Watching the woman leave) Damn, there goes your birthday surprise!

Tim: (Looking uncomfortable as he hands over some documents) Here are your results

Morrigan: I see a lot of charts and graphs, charts and graphs give me a headache - what's the bottom line?

Tim: Smelt innards

Morrigan: (Throwing the papers across the room) LIAR

Tim: I am NOT lying - instead of tossing the results in the air like an insolent child and accusing me of not telling the truth, try LISTENING to what I have to say - isn't that what journalists are trained to do?

Morrigan: Then say what you have to say, Mr. Hajanian

Tim: Smelt innards are just the beginning - these results show a DNA cocktail of multiple varieties of marine life - we're talking rajiformes, lamniformes, anguilliforms, cephalopods...

Morrigan: Hold on, hold on, hold on - I don't know what you're talking about!

Tim folds his arms and shakes his head.

Morrigan: See, in my biology class, I was busy doing the jocks' English homework so they wouldn't beat up the science geeks - in return, the science geeks did my biology homework - so, you're going to have to explain to me what you just said... in English

Tim: I'm sorry, I left my ichthyology coloring books back at the office

Morrigan: (Grabbing a white lace doily off of the table and waving it) TRUCE - let's end the verbal exchanges, I know we both have better things to do with our time

Tim: I agree - simply stated, we have a mixture of DNA from rays, sharks, eels, octopuses, and several kinds of fish

Morrigan: I thought it was octopi?

Tim: (Blinking) It can be either

Morrigan: Oh

Tim: You don't really seem all that stunned by this news - tell me, is it because of your scientific stupidity or do you know something more about this?

Morrigan: Is there human DNA in there as well?

Tim: Yes, she is most definitely human

Morrigan: She...

Tim: Another thing - all humans have certain metals in their blood... iron, cobalt, manganese - although this is not my area of expertise, there is a metal in this sample that I cannot even begin to comprehend

Morrigan: This keeps getting better and better

Tim: I can't really explain anything else beyond this... and I am not so sure I want to - if that will be all then?

Morrigan: Thank you, Tim

Tim: (Leaving) Please keep your part of the agreement about George

Morrigan: And please keep everything we discussed here today to yourself

The two exchange a final look before he departs.

Morrigan: (Rubbing her head) Research time

Inside a small corner of the Santa Conchita University library, Erika sits at a table piled with old books and maps of the area's history.

Erika: (Rubbing her head) There has to be some real answers somewhere - I've had enough of this folklore and hocus pocus junk

As she slams the book closed, a voice echoes in back of her.

Shelby: Sometimes folklore and hocus pocus junk can be better than a Venn Diagram

Erika: (Jumping out of her skin) JESUS, SHEL - don't creep up on me like that - what are you doing here?

Shelby: Picking up some books for Calvin - what are YOU doing in this section?

Erika: Looking some stuff up for Penny, she's not doing well in her history class

Shelby: What class is she doing well in? - listen, I have to go - promise me that you will get your face out of ALL books tonight and do something fun

Erika: Did Griffin, Sandy or my family pay you to say that?

Shelby: (Squeezing Erika's shoulder) No one had to pay me to say that

Erika: Thanks Shel, I'll see you tomorrow

Shelby: I'll help you with the Gumberson paper then

Erika: (Under her breath) I wish you could help me with something more important...

As she gathers her books off of the table and crosses the room to another section, Erika suddenly notices Morrigan searching the books in the biology section.

Morrigan: (Flipping through the pages of a technical manual) Maybe I should've started in the kids' section first

As she reaches another shelf, the eyes of Erika stare back at Morrigan.

Morrigan: (Frozen in fear for a second and then becoming pissed) Please don't do that

Erika: Need some help?

Morrigan: No, I'm fine, thank you

Erika: (Glancing at the textbook) The mitochondrial protein sequences of Isurus oxyrinchus... is KCON trying to drive down ratings again?

Morrigan: It's not for KCON

Erika: Oh?

Morrigan: (Glancing at Erika's books) The subterranean geography of the Kiyomis - I'm going hiking there tomorrow with your brother, would you like me to bring back some brochures from the ranger?

Erika: That's an interesting place to hike - did KJ recommend it?

Morrigan: Actually, it was Joenne Mirabello

Erika: Hmm, she doesn't strike me as the hiking type

Morrigan: And you don't strike me as the scientific type, so much for judging a book by its cover - speaking of which, I need to return to my research... please don't let me keep you from yours

The tall von Meer daughter flashes a cold, semi-smile and starts to walk off. She abruptly stops and turns back to McBride.

Erika: (Nodding at her textbook) If you're curious to learn more about this subject, don't be afraid to ask

Morrigan: (Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck prickle) I shall keep that in mind

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