Year One: Duquesa Bay

"Weekness"

Dan: Welcome back to KCON's special presentation, "Mountain Meltdown: One Week Later" - I'm Dan Henshaw...

Claudia: And I'm Claudia Steel - the eruption at Mt. Wiggins was more than unsettling for many of our viewers but what has truly amazed emergency personnel, as well as local residents, is how rapidly things have returned to normal...

Captain Craig Phelps is shown in a sound bite.

Craig: Frankly, we are stunned, the way that mountain blew... this valley dodged a mighty bullet - everybody has been working very hard, helping out when and wherever - the community has truly come together

Claudia: No new eruptions have occurred since the initial blast and seismic activity in the area has dramatically decreased - sadly, the current death toll stands at 82

Dan: Well, Claudia, I may be sweeping ash off of my prized eggplants for some time but traffic is flowing faster than hot lava...

Claudia glares at him.

Dan: (Clearing his throat) All roads in and out of the county are clear and in use - FEMA centers remain stationed throughout the city and anyone needing assistance is encouraged to contact the number on your screen

Claudia: Clean-up crews have already begun to assess the damage in the north-eastern part of the valley - the south end of Quartz Lake has sustained the most devastation - SCU's chief biologist, Dr. Javier Sanchez, is heading a team to determine what course of action is needed...

A perfectly preened Sandy is shown on screen in a soundbite.

Javier: Right now, we just don't know for sure - it might take decades for the lake's ecosystems to fully recover but we will do everything humanly possible to help this landmark return to its natural state

Dan: The Quartz County park commissioner is also on site and predicts that the upper end of the lake will be ready for use in a matter of weeks - for many residents, the tragic death of local entrepreneur, Joseph Tiszo, and the destruction of the historic Quartz Lake Inn are devastating losses... on a personal note, Joe always admired my mushrooms and I will forever be an ardent fan of his grapes - we'll miss you, Big J!

Claudia: Uh, yes... in another shocking loss, Beacon Point residents are still mourning the sudden death of Meeramar's, Karl von Meer - the Duquesa Bay shipping giant died of a heart attack just over a week ago - later today, his family will hold a private ceremony aboard the company's lead tanker - several foreign and national dignitaries are expected, including the state's governor - von Meer's ashes will then be buried at sea

Dan: When we come back, Austin Ortega is here with the weekend weather forecast...

Austin: (Dramatic face) What could be worse than chunks of molten rock and layers of icky ash? - RAIN, that's right, RAIN... and plenty of it!

Austin pops open a wildly-colored umbrella and twirls it over his head.

Austin: Say "see ya" to the Cali sunshine and hola to a whole lot of precipitation - stay tuned

As they go to a commercial break, Claudia takes two antacids and chases them with a Starbucks double espresso. Dan checks his appearance in a large mirror held up by a production assistant while Austin mambos with the umbrella.

Claudia: How long is it going to rain?

Austin: My forecast is just minutes away

Claudia: (Barking) Ortega!

Austin: (Holding up his hand) Chill, sister - on and off for the next week - and it will be unusually heavy for this time of year

Claudia: Christ, I just did my hair

Austin: You did?

Dan: Bad times for your follicles is fantastic news for my rutabagas

Claudia: Does anyone know where the hell Turner disappeared to this week? - we're supposed to have my semi-annual review and the sneaky bastard was a no-show

Austin: Why don't you ask Lady Shepperton? - I'm sure she knows everything, and I do mean everything, about our Master Gates

Claudia: I don't need to know how many moles are on his cock, I need to know when I can schedule an appointment with the asshole!

Dan: (Whispering) Um, Claw - you might want to find different word usage... your children are here

Claudia: (Turning around) What?

Dressed in black, Ben and the three kids are waving and smiling from the corner of the set.

Claudia: Oh... hi

Ben: Honey, don't forget, we have to be at the memorial in an hour

Claudia: Right, we're almost finished

Hannah: Mommy, what's a cock?

Austin doubles over with laughter.

Palmer: Shut up retard, it's a rooster!

The young boy jumps around, flapping his arms and crowing.

Kayla: I believe mother was using a colloquial term that falls under the category of obscenity - right, daddy?

Claudia: BENJAMIN, GET THEM OUT OF HERE

Ben: C'mon kids, we'll wait for mom in the control room

In Claudia's earpiece, the director begs her to send them somewhere else.

Claudia: ALL OF YOU, IN THE CAR, NOW - I'll be there in 10 minutes!

Dan: (To Claudia) You know, if you ever need specifically shaped vegetables to use as teaching tools, feel free to ask - I have this gourd...

Inside Techtonic, Gracie watches Austin's weather report on the TV over the bar. She pours herself a beer and sighs. Jeremy steps away from the DJ booth and joins her.

Jeremy: (Grabbing a soda) Was it really that bad?

Gracie: Huh?

Jeremy: I just played my latest track for you and not one word

Gracie: Oh, sorry - I'm a little out of it... okay, a lot out of it right now

Jeremy glances up to the KCON news on screen.

Jeremy: It wasn't you fault

Gracie: Tell that to the station

Jeremy: Whoever stole the newsvan is to blame - it was a time of chaos and panic, like you could have stopped a gang of thugs from boosting it!

Gracie sits quietly and sips her beer.

Jeremy: They had no right to suspend you without pay

Gracie: There was a million dollars worth of equipment in that van

Jeremy: Your creep boss bleeds money, besides, the insurance should cover it

Gracie: That's not the point - the point is that it was my responsibility and I failed in that responsibility

Jeremy: That's such bullshit

Gracie: I know, but with the way things are going lately, I'm just happy to have my eight fingers and my gig here

Jeremy: Um, they didn't tell you?

Gracie: Tell me what?

Jeremy: Ooh...

Gracie: Spit it out, Colvin

Jeremy: The club has decided to add two new nights - salsa and swing

Gracie: You have GOT to be kidding me

Jeremy: We now have to compete with the other DJ's for the remaining nights

Gracie: No frigging way!

Gracie downs the rest of her drink and pours herself a shot of whiskey.

Gracie: It's... it's all just getting out of hand - Morri, the crazy happenings, the van...

Jeremy: Zach

Gracie: (Nearly choking) ZACH - what do you know about Zach?

Jeremy: Nothing... except that it always comes down to Isaacson with you

Gracie: Well, sadly, not anymore - I honestly don't know how to handle his huge problem - he needs serious help and I just can't be the life raft this time

Jeremy: That's kinda harsh - can't you at least throw him an oar?

Gracie: It's all so overwhelming right now - I'm having trouble processing anything except alcohol content

Jeremy: Maybe you should take a trip to Seattle and see your family?

Gracie: I went back home to my folks once with my tail between my legs - HA, never again!

Jeremy: What happened?

Gracie: It was right after my divorce - for two solid weeks, my mom kept reminding me how much better off I would have been if I had married my second cousin in Yokohama and then my dad kept shaking his head at me the entire time - and my brother with his sarcastic putdowns...

Jeremy: Surely he can't top the master?

Gracie: I was his apprentice

Jeremy: Whoa - you are better off down here

Gracie: Or in Oahu - I have friends there that I haven't seen in awhile, now might be the time - oh, wait, that's right, I have no money... so, I guess I'll be getting me a Jamba Juice job application on the way home

Jeremy: Don't you get alimony?

Gracie: Nope, it was an amicable divorce, we each got half of diddlysquat because that's what we had and that's what we agreed to

Jeremy thinks for a moment, reaches into his pocket and gives Gracie a wad of hundred-dollar bills.

Gracie: WHERE DID YOU GET THIS? - ARE YOU SELLING DRUGS?

Jeremy: Hardly - I might get baked now and then but I'm no dealer - the last thing my mom and little bro need is me behind bars

Gracie: Then, how did you get this? - your girlfriend?

Jeremy: No... Pen doesn't pay for me anymore

Gracie: Hey, how's she doing? - it must have been horrible inside that jet?

Jeremy: Dunno - haven't seen her since she got home - she won't speak to me

Gracie: So, where did you get the roll of dead presidents?

Jeremy: I have this totally cool side job - and it's going to hit really big, really soon

Gracie: Excellent, can I get in on it?

Jeremy: Sorry, I wish you could, but it's a member's only kind of deal

Gracie: By members, do you mean special people or penis only?

Jeremy chuckles and finishes his soda.

Gracie: (Turning serious) Jere - you're a good kid - look me in the eye and promise me that you aren't doing anything illegal

Jeremy: I swear, it's all legit - don't worry about me

Gracie: You aren't selling body parts... or fluids?

Jeremy: It hasn't come down to that... yet - that was a joke, relax

Gracie: Why can't you tell me about this job?

Jeremy: Maybe someday... but not now - as a friend, please don't ask, just take the cash as repayment for all the times you bailed me out

Gracie: (Thinking) Okay... but you take my turntable in return

Jeremy: How about I borrow it until you get back to the mainland?

Gracie: I could live with that - thanks, Jere!

The two give each other a big hug. It's obvious Jeremy has deeper feelings for Gracie.

Jeremy: (Sighing) You'll be a lot safer away from here, Grace, trust me

Gracie: (Pulling back) What?

Before Jeremy can answer, Jason enters the club and walks with a slight limp over to them.

Jason: We need to talk, Takanachi

Penelope, George, and Lydia are dressed in black rain slickers. They are crowded in with a dozen other people in a tiny boat that ferries them to the Meeramar cargo tanker.

Penelope: It would have been a lot easier if we went by helicopter

George: After what happened... this boat is perfectly fine

Water sprays across their faces as storm clouds loom in the distance. Penny wipes her face and glares at her father.

Lydia: (Clutching her cane) George, I'm going to need at least two other people helping me onto that monstrosity

George: I know that, Lydia, I'll take care of it

Lydia: How absurd to hold the memorial out here on this thing - why couldn't it have been on their yacht?

George: This was Karl's business after all, it seems appropriate - and there wouldn't have been enough room on the yacht

Lydia: Well, they sure do expect a lot from us

George: It's not supposed to be about us

Penelope: (Looking up at the sky) When are we going to talk about what happened?

Lydia: What, dear?

Penelope: What happened in the plane?

George deliberately turns away.

Penelope: It's been a week now

Lydia: Be grateful we are here today instead of where poor Karl is and simply leave it at that

Penelope: I want to know what happened to me - I have a right to know

George: It was a fortunate fluke, now drop it

Penelope: Fluke my ass!

George: I SAID leave it alone

Lydia: Penelope, watch your language - George, keep your voice down - the two of you need to remember why we're here

The boat pulls up to side of the tanker as George ignores his daughter's scowl. Lydia struggles to her feet as Penelope rips off her slicker to reveal a bright red dress.

Lydia: (Rolling her eyes) The one day she decides to wear color...

Around 300 people dressed in formal black gather on the deck of Der Herzog, Meeramar's premier shipping tanker. A huge banner bearing a grinning image of a younger Karl on his first yacht hangs over dozens of white-flowered wreaths and a lone candle. People mill about as Erika sneaks off around a corner with Stephanie.

Stephanie: Pretty decent turn out

Erika: Have you talked to him today?

Stephanie: About an hour ago - he insisted that I bring a mini video camera because he wants to see the whole thing - who says something nice... who doesn't

Erika: Heh, I see my father still has a flare for the macabre

Stephanie: It's remarkable how well he's recovering, thanks to you - the antidote will be written up in science journals for sure

Erika: It would have killed him outright if it didn't work - I had to take the risk

Stephanie: Still no idea who did this or why?

Erika: (Long pause) I need to investigate further

Stephanie: There's so much I don't understand, Erika - Hector is even more of a mystery than you

Erika: When you see him again, please thank him - if there's anything he ever needs, financially or otherwise, tell him to contact me

Stephanie: (Arms folded) If I see him again...

Erika nods at the ornate golden urn on display. It is the center of everyone's attention.

Erika: So, who... or what is inside?

Stephanie: "Anna no last name" - courtesy of Bay Valley Medical Center's indigent cases - she was a crabby old wino with no family or friends, not to mention teeth - the few brain cells that weren't soaked in booze were riddled with cancer

Erika: Ah

Stephanie: I figured she deserved a nice send off

Erika: How munificent of you

Stephanie: Besides, it's a great way to get back at my ex - taking this tanker out on a dry run must be costing Doug plenty

Erika: (Searching the crowd) I know he's a complete ass but I can't believe he didn't show up

Stephanie: (Sighing) I can... why do you think I divorced the bastard? - he may be your father's business partner but they stopped being friends long ago

Erika: Still...

Stephanie: I asked Ben and no one has seen him since the volcano

Erika spots Ursula paying her respects to Pauline. Captain Craig Phelps struts by and shares a quick look with Ursula.

Erika: Funny, the current Mrs. Martel claims she had dinner with Doug last night and that he would have been here except that he wasn't feeling well - old polo injury

Stephanie: What a lying sack of shit!

Erika: Which one?

Stephanie: Oh, what does it matter? - we know the truth and won't they all be astonished when Karl rises from the dead?

Erika: That won't be for sometime - did you make more antidote in case our toxic terrorist turns up again?

Stephanie: I have some with me at all times and there's a stash at the hospital

Erika: Good

Stephanie: So, when are you going to visit him?

Erika: Isn't he safe at that clinic?

Stephanie: That's not my question - Karl wants to see his daughter, why haven't you been by?

Erika: I've been...

Stephanie: Busy - busy throwing yourself off of buildings, disappearing when your family needs you, acting stranger than usual - what is going on?

Erika: I can't get into this now, Stephanie

Stephanie: If it were drugs, I would be relieved because it would offer a comprehensive explanation - but I know addicts and you do not fall into that category

Erika: (Smirking) Not everything falls into a simple category - as a doctor, you should know that

Stephanie: Then, what is it, Rikka? - why won't you let me help you?

Erika: You have helped my father and that has been an immense help to me

Stephanie: But...

Erika: That's all I care to discuss

The two stare at each other and then refocus on the gathering of mourners. The black clouds grow with intensity as the seas turn choppy.

Erika: Actually, you can help me with one other thing...

Stephanie: Name it

Erika: Lend me your PDA - I need to check in with someone

Stephanie: (Handing it to her) No problem

Victoria Martel waves to Stephanie and staggers over to a corner of the ship.

Stephanie: Oh dear, I see my daughter didn't take her seasick pills, I'll be right back

As Stephanie hurries off, KJ storms up to his sister.

KJ: Hey

Erika: (Noticing his bruised cheek) Kage?

KJ: So glad you could make it today!

Erika: Don't start, little brother - who hit you in the face?

KJ: I fell

Erika: That's not a fall, that's a punch

KJ: Why do you care?

Erika: Why are you causing a scene?

KJ: Oh, that's right, there should be no high emotion during a funeral

Erika: I just want to know who hit you and why?

KJ: Maybe if you showed up to the house, I would have told you what happened - where the hell were you all week?

Erika: On my...

KJ: Boat - yes, I was there - you couldn't even let me in when I came by?

Erika: I'm sorry - I was having a very rough week

KJ: (Tearing up) We were ALL having a rough week - you were NOT the only one who lost dad

Erika: (Trying to wipe his face) I'll come home with you and mother after the service

KJ: (Backing off) Don't do us any favors

Winds start to kick up as Erika taps on Stephanie's PDA. The low rumble of thunder is heard.

Erika: m, will be by soon - all is well, f

KJ and Pauline glare at her as the service is about to begin. Erika sends the message and frowns. Rain starts to pour down.

Erika: (Muttering) All is not well

As she makes her way to her seat, Erika falls to her knees as a large explosion rocks the entire ship.

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