Walking barefoot along the shores of Duquesa Bay, Morrigan McBride stares out to sea as nighttime joggers and dog walkers pass by. She glances down at her watch as the High Tide tickles her toes.
Morrigan: (To herself) Alrighty, Miss Mermaid, where are you? - I have been waiting for over a week now... it's not like we can just exchange e-mails
She searches the waves and finds nothing. As a slight breeze begins to blow, the petite brunette suddenly feels a presence behind her and whips around.
Morrigan: Oh, Mr. von Meer... it's nice to see you again
Karl Sr.: (Ambling up to her) Hello, Morrigan - out for an evening stroll?
Morrigan: Something like that
Karl Sr.: It's good exercise, or so my wife tells me... I have to keep a watch on the old cholesterol
Morrigan smiles as the man sighs and pats his stomach.
Karl Sr.: I'm not interrupting you, am I?
Morrigan: Not at all, I'm just enjoying some quiet time
Karl Sr.: (Looking around) I don't see any handsome young man in your presence
Morrigan: KJ's taking me for a sail this weekend
Karl Sr.: Who says I was talking about my son - AHA, go ahead and tell him I said that!
Morrigan: (Nodding) I'll be sure to do so
Karl Sr.: Seriously, I'm a little concerned - it's not safe for a pretty young lady to be out here all alone, we've had some... incidents lately
Morrigan: I know, I've been reporting on them
Karl Sr.: You sure have - great piece on the PCOC conference, by the way
Morrigan: Thank you
Karl Sr.: Do you have mace?
Morrigan: Uh, I appreciate your concern, Mr. von Meer...
Karl Sr.: KARL, please
Morrigan: Karl - but my father's an LAPD commander, I learned self defense techniques before I could ride a bike
Karl Sr.: I'm glad to hear that but I still think you should have mace... or at least a German Sheppard
Morrigan: I'll take that into consideration
Karl Sr.: Good, I like you, more importantly, my son likes you - I want to see your smiling face at my dinner table... it would be a pleasant change from the usual female faces I have my dinner table
Picturing a scowling Erika and her mother, Morrigan can't help but chuckle.
Karl Sr.: Speaking of which, I better get back home before Pauline comes after me with a net
Karl Sr.: NO, A NET... literally - she'd grab the net off of the tennis court and hunt me down
The older man becomes animated.
Karl Sr.: KARL, I TOLD YOU TO BE BACK BY TEN, AAAARRRRGGGHHH
As the senior von Meer contorts his face into a strangulation appearance, Morrigan is practically in tears laughing.
Karl Sr.: (Heading off) Have a good night, little lady, and be sure to stop by the house more often - don't let the womenfolk scare you away!
Morrigan: (To herself as she waves goodbye) It's not the womenfolk that scare me
Once again alone, Morrigan tracks a bit further down the beach, finally resting near some dunes. Two hooded figures, covertly observing the woman, whisper to each other.
Hood #1: Do you think she will appear tonight?
Hood #2: She cannot keep away much longer - if she finally does, we are only to report back what we have witnessed
Hood #1: I do not understand such logic
Hood #2: It is not for us to understand, only to obey... I need to take my forward position
Time passes as Morrigan dreamily regards the night sky and traces circles in the sand with her fingertips, unaware of the hooded figure a few yards away.
Morrigan: (Softly) This is almost as peaceful as Montana
Rising out of the surf, directly in front of her, is Darkfin.
Darkfin saunters over to where Morrigan is sitting and kneels on the sand before her.
Morrigan: (Scooting back) Holy Mackerel
Darkfin: Actually, mackerel is only 0.2% of my DNA
Morrigan: Heh, sorry - I should pay more attention to those "identify the fish" charts hanging in Captain Dave's Seafood Shack
Darkfin: (Eying the pattern Morrigan has made in the sand) Not a very effective sand castle
Morrigan: Who says it's a sand castle... maybe it's the design for a sand castle
The two stare at each other in silence for a moment.
Morrigan: (Taking a deep breath) Sorry, I know you've saved my life but you still freak me out - Zach and Gracie are the sci-fi fans, this is all just a little too weird for me... especially with that nagging issue called murder
Darkfin: You call it murder, I call it depopulation
Morrigan: That's sick!
Darkfin: Then, why are you here?
Morrigan looks puzzled.
Darkfin: Why are you here waiting for me?
Morrigan: OH, PLEASE... I enjoy taking walks along the beach!
Darkfin: You do not appear to be walking
Morrigan: I am RESTING
Darkfin: (Starting to get up) My apologies, I shall leave you to your rest
Morrigan: (Grabbing Darkfin's arm) NO, WAIT
Morrigan is momentarily mesmerized by the feel of the cold, sleek scales and notices a tiny electrical current pass between their touch. She is halted from exploring the arm fins as Darkfin draws back.
Morrigan: My turn to apologize, I have a nasty curiosity habit
Darkfin: That can be good... and bad
Morrigan: Well, since I have you here, I would like to ask you a few questions
Darkfin: I will answer yours if you will answer just one of mine
Morrigan: Sounds fair - but I get to go first
Darkfin: That is reasonable
Morrigan: OK... where do you come from, what are you doing, when did this begin, why is this happening, how many others are like you and who in the HELL were those robe people in the cave?
Darkfin: Are you done?
Morrigan: For this breath
Darkfin: I come from the sea, I defend those who cannot defend themselves, I was doing this before your arrival, I am the only one of my kind and I am not certain who the robed people in the cave are
Morrigan: THOSE ARE REALLY CRAPPY ANSWERS
Darkfin: Maybe, but they are answers nonetheless... my turn
Morrigan: (Throwing up her arms) AHH
Slowly reaching down, Darkfin clasps Morrigan's left ankle and rubs her thumb along the arch of her foot. The triskele mark glows at the touch as the petite brunette becomes warm and lightheaded.
Darkfin: What is this?
Morrigan: (Pulling her foot away) It's not a tattoo, it's a birthmark
Darkfin: A rather elaborate birthmark
Morrigan: I know - my father wanted to have it removed but my mother insisted that I keep it... why?
Darkfin now stands up and summons her trident. It comes flying out of the ocean and lands solidly in her palm.
Morrigan: That's a nifty trick - I have one, too!
Morrigan touches the tip of her nose with her tongue.
Darkfin: Impressive... be sure to put that on your resume
Morrigan: I would LOVE to see your resume
Darkfin: (Twirling her trident) May I try something?
Morrigan: Heh, you haven't bought me dinner yet
Plunging her fist into the shore, Darkfin pulls up several sand crabs and pops a few into her mouth. She offers one to a repulsed Morrigan.
Darkfin: (Walking away) Do you not eat sushi?
Morrigan: NO, I watch people eat sushi as I devour my well-cooked teriyaki chicken!
Darkfin turns around and abruptly hurls her trident at Morrigan. It veers off at the last second as the woman screams.
Morrigan: I CAN LEARN TO LOVE SUSHI
Darkfin: (Returning to her side) We will work on your wasabi tolerance later
Morrigan: Um, why did you just try to kill me?
Darkfin: I was not trying to kill you
Morrigan: REALLY? - is that the new Nerf spear?
Darkfin: Even if you did not repel it, it would have missed your head by three centimeters
Morrigan: I'm glad someone is good at math!
Darkfin: I needed to make sure
Morrigan: (Still shaking) Make sure of what? - why did I repel it? - I know I'm not in my best clothes tonight but there are no mountainous zits on my face
Darkfin: (Pointing to the trident) Try summoning it
Morrigan: Excuse me?
Darkfin: You heard me
Morrigan: Do I whistle or should I use a piece of cheese?
Darkfin: Try suspending the sarcasm for five seconds and concentrate
Morrigan: You're serious
Darkfin says nothing as she stares at the woman before her.
Morrigan: (Sighing) I suppose I have nothing better to do
Darkfin: Five seconds
Morrigan: (Folding her arms) FINE
Closing her eyes and concentrating, Morrigan tries to summon the trident to her hand.
Morrigan: It's not working
Darkfin: Keep trying
Darkfin: I need to prepare you for a return to the caves
Morrigan: OH NO, nonononono - I have no intention of returning to those caves until I have a division of tanks with me
With a slight twitch, the trident flies out of the sand and into Morrigan's hand.
Darkfin: That will do
Morrigan: (Shocked) Did you do that?
Darkfin: It was all you
Morrigan: (Regarding the beautiful weapon) It's so light... and warm - I don't understand?
Behind a sandy knoll, one of the hooded figures observes the two of them. Darkfin sensed it long ago but deliberately ignored the situation until now.
Darkfin: (Coming close into Morrigan's face) Remain still
Morrigan: What... what are you doing?
Darkfin: (Not breaking eye contact with her) Remain calm
Inserting her fingertips into both of Morrigan's ears, Darkfin lets loose with a concussive wave. The blow knocks out the hooded figure, as well as stunning its initiator.
Morrigan: (Jumping up) WHAT IN THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?
Darkfin: (Motioning to behind the knoll) We were being watched by our friends from the caves
Morrigan: DID YOU JUST... HOW DID YOU...
Darkfin: (Dizzy) RUN
Morrigan: I WANT TO SEE WHAT HE LOOKS LIKE
Darkfin: THERE ARE OTHERS COMING, RUN
Morrigan: I CAN'T LEAVE YOU HERE
Darkfin: GO, NOW
Darkfin pushes the woman forward and then hurls the trident into the ocean. Morrigan takes off running as she spots two hooded figures closing in behind her. Darkfin goes after them.
Morrigan: (At full stride) Mr. von Meer was right, I really wish I had some mace right now!
Tackling one of the hoods, Darkfin is sent flying into the sand by the other. All three continue to battle each other for some time.
Darkfin: (To the hood in front of her) This is pointless!
A hood jumps directly in back of her.
Hood: We'll see!
Suddenly, a white Mustang roars along the surf's edge, flashing its lights and blaring the horn. The driver's door flies open and slams into the back of one of the hoods, sending him soaring into the sand.
Morrigan: C'MON, LET'S GO
Taking her suggestion, Darkfin flips onto the top of the vehicle and grabs a secure hold with her hands. With a sharp acceleration, the car fishtails in the sand and zooms off along the beach, leaving the hoods behind. Now back on open road, Morrigan finally steadies her breathing and racing heart.
Morrigan: (Opening the moon roof) Dad told me to never pick up hitchhikers!
Crawling in through the passenger window, Darkfin takes a seat in silence.
Morrigan: Did they hurt you?
Darkfin: (Rubbing her eyes) What?
Morrigan: Why are your ears bleeding?
Darkfin: Pull the car over on that bridge!
Morrigan: (Doing so) We need to talk some more
Darkfin: (Jumping out) I need to leave... you need to return home
With one deft move, Darkfin dives off of the bridge and into the water below.
Morrigan: E-MAIL ME
Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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