Year One: Duquesa Bay


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?


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?

Morrigan: Rarely

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.


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

Gracie: WHAT?

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?

Morrigan: Church

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

Frank: Argh

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.


The priests turn around and glare.

Frank: Amen

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

Morrigan: What?

Joenne: If you value your life... do NOT go inside!



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