Year One: Duquesa Bay

"Aperture"

Upon seeing Darkfin standing directly in front of her, a speechless Morrigan McBride drops her flashlight and slowly starts to back away, into the cave.

Darkfin: It would be wise of you to look forward if you choose to venture inside

Morrigan: (Trying to catch her breath) It's... it's true - this is not a dream... or a nightmare

Darkfin: (Looking back into the cave) That has yet to be decided

The taller form picks up the flashlight and approaches the smaller woman.

Darkfin: (Handing her the light) Take this, you will need it

As Morrigan reluctantly grasps the handle, she focuses on the hand, the hand from her visions, and recoils at its cold touch.

Morrigan: (Fumbling with the flashlight) The... the only other time I have ever touched a hand this cold...

Darkfin: My body temperature is not the same as yours

Morrigan: (Her mind reeling) Of course, you're... um, you're a fish... or something

Darkfin: (Still glaring) Or something

Morrigan: You... uh, you speak English very well

Darkfin: Would you prefer me to speak in another language?

Morrigan: Oh no, English is just fine... heh, I was kind of expecting Flipper noises

There is a long silence.

Morrigan: Can you talk to dolphins?

Darkfin: (Brushing past her) I do not have time for this, Ms. McBride

Morrigan: How do you know my name? - in fact, how do you know ME? - why are we connected?

Darkfin: (Sensing danger) I suggest that you leave... NOW

Morrigan: Listen, part of me totally agrees with you... but the other part - the part that controls my legs - is telling me to find out what's in this cave

Darkfin: (Going further inside) I do not think you are ready for what is in this cave... I am not sure I am ready for what is in this cave

Morrigan: (Following her) What's in this cave?

Darkfin: I am not certain

Morrigan: Ooh, the "I'm not certain" chimaera - that's almost as scary as... you

Darkfin: (Stopping and glowering back at her) Trust me - if I am not certain of what lies ahead, you should be deeply afraid

Morrigan: Well, "I'm not certain" can also turn out to be positive... like when you bite into an ice-cream and, to your pleasant surprise, there's a hidden ripple of caramel buried inside

Suddenly, a swift, cold draft blows past them, followed by an increasing roar.

Darkfin: Perhaps that is your caramel ripple now

The two brace themselves against the cave wall and crouch behind a small rock formation. Morrigan tries to shine the dying flashlight in the direction of the rumbling.

Morrigan: I don't understand, I put new batteries in here last week - it shouldn't be fading on me so fast!

Darkfin: It is being drained... you cannot stop it

Morrigan: Why does this keep happening? - explain it to me

Darkfin: (Scoping out all of the surroundings) Not now

Morrigan: You were the one who just told me I would need it

Darkfin: To use as a weapon

As they draw closer, the rumbling is now more distinct. Glowing torches now line the cave walls.

Morrigan: Is that... is that singing?

Darkfin: (All of her fins in full spread) Chanting... YOU MUST GO BACK

Morrigan: NO

Darkfin: Then, I wish you luck

With a quick flip, Darkfin vaults away and then twists up to the ceiling and sticks there out of Morrigan's sight.

Morrigan: HEY, WAIT A MINUTE - COME BACK HERE - WHERE DID YOU GO?

Suddenly, three cloaked figures appear before her, two in brown, one in blue.

Blue figure: We are right here, Child - and we have been awaiting your arrival

Morrigan tries to back away slowly with a smile.

Morrigan: Hey, you know what, how about another time? - see, I forgot to bring my robe... feel free to call me at KCON for an interview!

With one swift move, the two in the brown robes are on either side of her.

Morrigan: Now, I don't want to seem rude but I really need to GO

She kicks one in the shin and takes off running. The second brown-robed figure lunges for her when Darkfin drops from above and breaks its back. She then slams the first one's head hard against the rock wall. Before Morrigan has a chance to escape, the one in blue stands before the passageway out of the cave.

Blue figure: We are not finished

Darkfin: (About to slash it with her arm fin) If you value your carotid, you will step aside

The figure chuckles and, with a quick wave of the hand, hurls Darkfin across the room without actually touching her. Aleta Oscura quickly rebounds and heads straight for the figure again.

Blue figure: (Dodging Darkfin's attack) Your trident is not at your side?

Darkfin: (Twisting into the air) I only bring a weapon my opponent cannot control

Blue figure: And what did you bring with you tonight?

Suddenly, Morrigan slams the flashlight against the side of the blue figure's head.

Morrigan: BACKUP

Darkfin now takes the stunned figure, shoves it out of the way and pulls Morrigan towards the cave's exit.

Morrigan: WAIT - let's see who this is!

Darkfin: RRRUUUNNN

Before either of them can react, Morrigan's leg buckles under her and she is being mysteriously dragged across the cave floor towards the figure in blue. Darkfin grabs under her arms and tries with all of her might to hold on. The figure in blue crawls up to the screaming reporter and rips the shoe off of her left foot. Morrigan passes out and falls limp. Darkfin suddenly takes notice of a tall figure in a white robe with coral-colored fingernails approaching from one of the caverns.

White figure: (To Darkfin) Come here... by my side

The sea creature bears her teeth in defiance.

White figure: It is for your benefit

Suspicious yet curious about her powerful rival, Darkfin does as asked. The two now stand near each other.

White figure: (Facing the fallen Morrigan) Present her mark to me

Clutching the woman's ankle, the blue figure holds the foot up to expose a distinct triskele image on the sole.

Darkfin is stunned at the sight of this as it begins to glow in the same manner as her trident.

White figure: ENOUGH - LET THEM PASS

With that, both cloaked figures disappear into the mist, leaving Darkfin to gather up an unconscious Morrigan. She quickly carries her out of the cave, into a fiercely stormy night, and heads towards the reporter's car. After carefully settling the petite woman into the passenger's seat, Aleta Oscura jumps into the driver's seat, finds the key and starts up the engine.

Darkfin: Wonderful, a stick-shift... and I am left-hand dominant

Awkwardly navigating the white Mustang down the windy roads of the Kiyomis, Darkfin tries to recall in her mind the chanting she heard and what it meant.

Darkfin: Was that Patristic Latin? - this does not make any sense

Morrigan: (Fading in and out) And you do?

Darkfin: (Touching her forehead) How do you feel?

Morrigan: Like I'm swimming in sand... my foot is burning but the rest of me is freezing

The driver reluctantly turns on the heat and aims all of the vents at the passenger.

Darkfin: Tell me how you got that tattoo

Morrigan: Only if you tell me how you became a fish

The car makes a grinding noise.

Morrigan: You need to shift gears

Darkfin: Right

The car is now speeding along on the main highway as it heads back into the city. The rain continues to pelt down, prompting Darkfin to open her driver's side window just enough to splash some of the drops on her face.

Morrigan: (Still groggy but watching) You can turn off the heat if it's bothering you... you literally are a fish out of water

Darkfin: (Focusing on the road) Be silent and rest

Morrigan: Why do you kill?

Darkfin: Why do you breathe?

Morrigan: Never answer a question with a question

Darkfin: Close your mouth before I kill you

Morrigan: You won't kill me - you keep saving me... why?

The passenger feels herself drifting off again and does not hear the answer.

The sound of three howling cats awakens Morrigan. She realizes that she is still in her car, now parked in Amy's driveway, and it is early morning.

Morrigan: (Quickly sitting up and rubbing her head) I'm home - how did she know...

Wearing black and white cow pattern pajamas, Amethyst Hill grabs one of her cats off of the car and peers in the window at her tenant.

Amethyst: WILD NIGHT, EH?

Morrigan: (Sighing) You could say that

Amethyst: Too much liquorage?

Morrigan: Not nearly enough

Amethyst: (Watching Tyson sniff the steering wheel) My babies are going crazy - why does it slightly reek of yesterday's catch in here?

Morrigan: (Stretching) I went fishing

Amethyst: I thought you were going hiking?

Morrigan: Running, spelunking... more running

Amethyst: Well, that must have been some little hike with KJ because you look absolutely thrashed... in a good way

Morrigan: KJ? - oh, right

The KCON reporter slowly stumbles out of the Mustang and tries to walk with one shoe.

Amethyst: Wow, that's some limp - I want the juicy details!

Morrigan: (Looking back at her car) So do I

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Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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