Inside one of the many caverns of the Kiyomi mountain range, a cluster of hooded figures gathers and chants while their white-robed leader observes. One in blue reverently approaches the one in white and they break off into another part of the cavern.
White Robe: All is going well?
Blue Robe: Mostly... we were able to confiscate everything from the anointed one but I still do not understand why we simply cannot eliminate her and the aberration at her side?
White Robe: We need them - we need all of our enemies in play
Blue Robe: Why? - you have failed to explain your reasoning to us
White Robe: (Levitating the one in blue) FAILED?
Blue Robe: I APOLOGIZE - A MISFORTUNATE CHOICE OF WORDS
White Robe: (Dropping him to the ground) Choose your words more wisely - at the appropriate time, the others will know of my strategy... until then, it is not for them OR for YOU to question
Blue Robe: (Bowing) Of course
White Robe: Select two subordinates and bring them to me - I have a mission for them
Blue Robe: Scouting or conversion?
White Robe: Neither
The blue begins to question but thinks twice.
White Robe: Go... NOW
As the two return to the others, a nearby figure packs up some sophisticated electronic equipment and secretly waits for the subordinates to set forth. It is Joenne Mirabello.
Joenne: (To herself) This is going to be interesting
A digital message flashes on her phone. LOSE MARRIED GUY AND MEET US AT PIZZA PARLOR - JUSTINE. The two hooded subordinates emerge from the cave and take off.
Joenne: (Following them) Sorry, sis, I have better things to do
In downtown Santa Conchita at Mama Toni's Pizza Parlor, Morrigan, KJ, Gracie, Zach, Justine, and Jason all smush together in a tiny booth with a red-checkered tablecloth. They have already finished two pizzas and are now on their third.
Justine: I'm sorry, I know most of you are sci-fi fans but that was the LAMEST movie I ever had the misfortune of seeing
Morrigan: I hate to admit it, but I agree
Gracie: (Crunching on her crust) That wasn't REAL sci-fi, that was Hollywood's crap version with a bunch of special effects passing off as a story
Zach: Not to mention a star vehicle for their latest "IT' girl... oops, I meant "TIT" girl
Jason: (Smirking) But, it was kind of cool when she used her boobs as weapons
KJ: (Giving him a high-five) THAT WAS SWEET
Zach: Well worth the price of admission!
The three women simultaneously roll their eyes and shake their heads.
Gracie: Someday, hopefully, a solid sci-fi writer will get the chance to tell their tale on the big screen
Morrigan: Do you ever think "Sigma Seven" will make it?
Zach: (Hoisting his beer) Here's hoping!
Gracie: If anyone could write it, Jess could
Morrigan: Who's Jess?
Justine: Warning, boring topic of conversation ahead!
Zach: Jessie Escobar is the creator and head writer for Sig7 but she's being slowly muscled out by Martel and his goons
Gracie: God forbid anyone with real talent be allowed to flourish in this country
Jason: That's not true - a lot of struggling athletes have made their dreams come true
Gracie: Yeah, JOCKS, not artists!
Justine: (Inspecting at a dirty knife) Yet another boring topic of conversation - shouldn't there be a limit?
Zach: Before we leave the last one entirely, I found an EXCELLENT chat group devoted to Ursula/Bogree slash fic - Grace, we need to link it to our site!
Gracie: (Scrunching up her face) EWW, I HAVEN'T FULLY DIGESTED MY MEAL YET
KJ: (Bewildered) Does anyone know what they're talking about?
A waitress in a goofy hat made of faux straw comes over to check on them.
Jason: Yeah, two more pitchers of beer, please
Zach: (Smiling at Morrigan) And another Cherry Coke for the little girl in the pink sweater
Everyone laughs except McBride.
KJ: (Picking up on Morrigan's mood) Maybe she likes Cherry Coke, man, I prefer Dr. Pepper myself
Zach: Morri, if you're a recovering alchie, just say so - it's nothing to be ashamed of
Morrigan: (Softly) You know, Zachary, I'm getting real tired of you riding me about not drinking beer, so I think it's about time I tell you why I don't drink beer... when I was nine years old, I was in a car accident with my mother and little brother - my mom was obeying all of the traffic laws, until some drunken asshole in a huge pick-up truck crossed the center lane and barreled right into us - there wasn't even time to react - when I regained consciousness, the only things I could coherently grasp through the searing pain of my shattered leg were my brother's dying moans in the back seat and my mother's decapitated head in my lap - an hour later, after being trapped with a blaring car horn and the radio stuck on Neil Diamond, the firefighters finally freed me with the Jaws of Life and wheeled my broken body into the back of the ambulance - on the way, the very last thing I saw were two twisted piles of metal sitting in a large pool of blood and gasoline with empty Coors cans floating in it - so, no, I really do not like drinking beer - I have nothing against others enjoying themselves responsibly - but, for me, I suppose you could say, it has left a very bad taste in my mouth
Everyone stares at Morrigan in quiet shock.
Zach: WHO'S UP FOR A GAME OF POOL?
Jason, Justine, and Zach all jump up from the table and dash off. KJ follows them but kisses Morrigan on the cheek first. It is now just her and Gracie with the pizza.
Gracie: I could say "sorry" but I know that doesn't even come close
Morrigan: No worries - how come you stayed?
Gracie: (Grabbing another slice) Are you kidding? - I mean, I'm sorry for the suffering and all but THANK YOU for clearing the table!
Morrigan: It was a bit crowded, wasn't it?
Gracie: I seriously had no idea Justine and Jason were going to tag along
Morrigan: I'm a little surprised that Justine bolted like she did
Gracie: Well, she lives stories like that everyday with her job - besides, the pool table is where the men are!
Morrigan: Very true
Gracie: Speaking of men, what's up with you and KJ? - have you two done it yet?
Morrigan: None of your business!
Gracie: Dear God, please don't let there be some horrific story that has scarred you sexually for life!
Morrigan: It's nothing like that... it's just - I dunno
Gracie: Is there someone else?
Morrigan: (Defensive) NO, of course not - something's missing in our relationship, that's all
Gracie: (Making a crude hand gesture) That's pretty obvious
Morrigan: More than that
Gracie: What do you mean?
Morrigan: (Taking her beverage from the waitress) I don't know
Gracie: You need to be a little more specific
Morrigan: Honestly, I don't know and it's frustrating the hell out of me
Gracie: Not to mention poor Kage
Morrigan: He's everything I've ever wanted in a man - handsome, rich, sweet - in all of my previous relationships, I was always the one doing the romancing, tending to THEIR needs - I used to say to myself that I would become a slave to the first man who bought me flowers or chocolate without having to fucking beg for it... and don't even get me started on "The Hope for Poetry"
Gracie: (Chuckling) I hear ya!
Morrigan: (Sipping her soda) And now KJ has given me all of that
Gracie: (Nearly choking on her beer) HE WROTE YOU POETRY?
Morrigan: Actually, it was a Hallmark card... that counts
Gracie: Five points
Morrigan: He signed the card "Love, Your Rockin' Lawyer Dude"
Gracie: Three points off
Morrigan: Four - anyway, he's just not "deep" enough for me
Gracie: Funny, he is the one guy that I know who would be just as comfortable making 50K a year as he does making 500, so what if he's a little dim or a little shallow?
Morrigan: He is actually very smart but he's too casual about life... and girlfriends
Gracie: Mmm, NOW we're getting closer to the truth
Morrigan: Not to mention, Mrs. Javier Sanchez
Gracie: Don't worry, I'm sure that little obsession will pass
Morrigan: As will his obsession with me
Gracie: Why do you see it as that?
Morrigan: Because it is - I'm something new, a little different - he'll get tired and return to his bimbos soon enough
Gracie: Jeez, give him a chance, first
Morrigan: It's really hard - when we're out to dinner, I wonder to myself, has he brought all of the others to this place as well? - when we listen to a certain song, will that be OUR song or is it a song he was banging some girl to last summer? - these questions are always in the back of my mind
Gracie: Sounds like insecurity
Morrigan: Maybe, but I choose to see it more as "pride" - pride in knowing that I didn't have to bed half of the state to fall in love with someone who feels exactly the same way about me
Gracie: But you're missing out on a lot of good times
Morrigan: See, that's where our standards differ - I don't trivialize love with lust
Gracie: Do your standards keep you warm at night?
Morrigan: Of course not - I don't expect them to - unlike most of the population out there, I don't allow my body to dictate my actions - my head and my heart do enough damage
Gracie: If it makes you feel any better, I can assure you that you will always be KJ's "Morrigan" - your name is just too weird for him to have had any others... now I, on the other hand, was my ex-husband's "Gracie #3" - can you believe that? - I never knew when he was screaming out my name during sex if it was me, his sophomore year blonde Gracie or the trannie named "Amazin' Grace" he picked up on a street corner in Miami... now, there's a case for insecurity!
Morrigan: (Rubbing her head) Dear Lord!
Gracie: (Looking at her watch) WOW, we've been together all night and you haven't tried to duck out once
Morrigan: I'm sorry for being so anti-social lately, I have a lot of things to research
Gracie: (Suspicious) Like Darkfin?
Morrigan: No - I'm digging something up, literally, on the Pacific Coast Oil Cartel
Morrigan: The story is far from ready and I can't trust Zach with it yet, if he goes to print... it will screw up the timing
Gracie: Why can't you let me in on this? - we work for the same team, maybe I can help you?
Morrigan: I know and when it's time, I'll need you there... but not yet
Gracie sits back in exasperation.
Morrigan: You've got to trust me on this, Takanachi... PLEASE
Gracie: Fine - but, if I were you, I wouldn't be sitting here...
Fingers nods over to KJ at the pool table.
Gracie: I'd be PUMPING my prime PCOC source
Morrigan: Not a bad idea
Morrigan's cell phone rings.
Morrigan: (Answering it) Hello?
Hector: Hola, Senorita McBride - this is Hector Tapia returning your call from earlier?
Morrigan: Ah, Hector - thank you so much
Hector: You wanted to find out some details about the Chumash burial grounds in the Kiyomis?
Morrigan: Yes, I was hoping you could help me out with that?
Hector: I know a little bit but I also know someone who would be more of a help to you
Morrigan: GREAT - where can I meet this person?
Hector: Come to your church, pronto!
Morrigan: St. B's?
Hector: My sister, Carmen, is here on behalf of Our Lady of Guadalupe - inter-parish business and such - anyway, she knows everything and would be the perfect source for you
Morrigan flashes back to Anita Fiore's heirloom bracelet.
Morrigan: Perfect - I'll be there in 10 minutes... muchas gracias, Hector!
Hector: Always at your service!
Morrigan chuckles to herself as she puts away her phone.
Gracie: Now where are you off to?
Gracie: With Hector Tapia? - yeah, right!
Morrigan: (Dashing off) Please say goodnight to the others for me
Inside the main hall of Saint Brendan's Catholic Church, several people are gathered among the priests to discuss parish business. Frank Fiore and his wife, Carmen, sit in the front row while Hector repairs on one of the broken tables.
Frank: (Arms folded) I don't know why you dragged me here - I should be home, watching wrestling with my grandchildren
Carmen: Ona Rosa took them to see that new sci-fi movie
Frank: I should be home helping Anita fix the barn
Carmen: She is playing at a club tonight
Frank: I should be...
Carmen: A supportive husband
Carmen: Do I make the slightest complaint when you and your buddies bring home dead animal carcasses for me to clean?
Frank taps his cane on the ground in defiance as Hector returns to their side.
Hector: Carmie - I hope you don't mind, but I invited a friend to join us later
Carmen: A lady friend, hermano?
Frank: (Struggling with his coffee) What other kind would there be?
Hector: It's Morrigan McBride and she needs your help with a story she's doing
Frank: (Eyes lighting up) That KCON girl who saved the dog - I LIKE her!
Carmen: (In a huff) Anita talks about her all the time as if she were the harbinger of doom
Hector: That's because she has failed to succumb to your daughter's charms
Carmen: (Covering her ears) NOT HERE, NOT IN CHURCH
An amused Frank accidentally spills some coffee on his shirt.
Frank: AW, CHRIST
The priests turn around and glare.
Carmen: What does this McBride want to know, Hector?
Hector: About the Chumash... particularly the burial grounds in the Kiyomis
Carmen turns several shades of white and does not answer.
Hector: (Noticing) Is everything alright?
Carmen: (Looking away) Both of you need to be quiet... Padre Juan is about to bring up Guadalupe concerns
Now pulling into Saint Brendan's parking lot, Morrigan turns off the ignition and gets out of her car. Out of the corner of her eye, she notices someone lurking in the bushes by the steps, away from the main lighting.
Morrigan: (Assuming it's Darkfin) You know, Bouillabaisse, you have got to come up with a better way of contacting me
Morrigan is stunned when Joenne Mirabello steps out from the bushes.
Morrigan: (Startled) JOENNE... Justine's sister, right? - we met that day outside the morgue
Joenne simply stares at her.
Morrigan: I'm sorry - are you on your way to the meeting? - please don't let me keep you
Joenne does not budge and continues to say nothing.
Morrigan: (Nervous) Are... are you alright?
Joenne: No... and neither are you
Joenne: If you value your life... do NOT go inside!
Surfaced on July 1, 2000
® All Rights Reserved, 2000-2018
Contact the Webmaster