FRIDAY, AUGUST 4th, 2000
OFF THE COAST OF PAGO PAGO, TUTUILA
The red-speckled-purple fish darted away in unison, looking for a piece of coral or a clump of sea grass to hide behind. The thin, green lines of eel grass parted respectfully as a larger creature swam by in a rush of fins and bubbles.
Rachel Williams kicked at the sand to give herself a boost and then surfaced, shaking the salt water out of her hair. She wiped away the condensation that had gathered inside her goggles, and watched as her two friends Christina Munsen and Hallie Keller surfaced as well.
"Hey, you have to come over here, Rachel...I found this sea anemone that's this big!" Hallie demonstrated the length with outstretched arms. "And it's all purple and red and orange...it's sooo cool!"
Rachel replaced her snorkel and mask and swam over to where Christina and Hallie were waiting. The sun was just beginning to grow out of the horizon, painting the South pacific a coral pink. Even in the early morning, the water was quite warm. She could see the shore just a little ways away, still looking more like a silhouette since the sun wasn't up yet. This is definitely worth four years of high school, she thought with a grin.
She took out her snorkel to talk as she came up to her two friends. "We'd better go in soon, you know...'The Walrus' will kill us if he finds us missing."
"Come on, you worry too much," Hallie reassured her, and added, "you homework canary."
Rachel rolled her eyes at the old private joke. Just then, Christina tapped her on the shoulder. "Hey...you see something out there?"
Rachel looked to where Christina was pointing. "Where?"
"Out there," She stared at the horizon. "I just thought I saw something splash up for a minute."
"You're seeing things, Chris," Hallie answered. "Now come on, I want to show you that sea anemone!"
The three girls replaced their face masks and snorkels and headed down beneath the surface. They could no longer talk to each other, but instead communicated with head and hand movements. The transparent tropical waters they dived through were teeming with all kinds of life; fish and sea grass and crabs and eels. There wasn't much coral in this area off the coast of Tutuila. They had already visited the Samoa Islands that had coral reefs.
Then, Rachel saw what Hallie was pointing at. It was a huge sea anemone, at least four feet across, with graceful tentacles waving in the current; beautiful but deadly to creatures that came too close. Rachel circled the monstrous sea creature, observing it from all angles. It really was something to look at.
It was a few minutes later when Rachel came back to the surface, and saw Hallie's head pop up as well. Hallie yanked her snorkel out of her mouth. "Wasn't that cool?"
Rachel nodded vigorously. "I wonder if there's been an anemone that big recorded before!"
"I dunno...." Hallie paused, looking all around her. "Hey, where's Chris?"
Rachel glanced behind her, and then below in the water. "I thought she was right with you. You don't see her?"
"No..." Hallie replaced her mask and snorkel and dived down again to look for Christina. Rachel stayed up to scan the surface, just in case Christina popped up. Rachel didn't like staying out there in the water alone...it had taken her long enough to get over her fear of swimming in the ocean. Ever since...then, she had always been wary of salt water. But she had learned to overcome her fears and begin enjoying herself again. Margaret would have wanted her to.
Just then, Hallie's head bobbed up to the surface again, startling Rachel. "Hey, I don't see her anywhere," Hallie said, her voice becoming anxious. "Come help me look for her."
Rachel quickly put on her gear and went under again, feeling some strange comfort with the warm water surrounding her. Perhaps it was because she could see everything around her instead of just the top half of everything around her.
The ocean was unusually quiet. Rachel stayed close to Hallie as she scanned the ocean floor, searching for any sign of Christina. Rachel went deeper, pushing aside lengths of seaweed and grass as she swam. If Chris is playing a joke on us, I'm going to kill her when I find her!
Just then, she stopped. There was something that wasn't right...she had that prickly feeling, that feeling that she was being watched. She was surrounded by waving seaweed and grass on all sides, not knowing where the feeling was coming from.
And then she saw it.
Hidden behind the rippling fronds was a pair of eyes. Yellow with black pupils; designed to see well at great depths and low light. Large, glaring, reptilian, hungry eyes. Eyes that were staring straight at her.
She could recognize those eyes anywhere.
Rachel kicked away frantically from the thing in the grass, trying to keep down the scream that was threatening to explode out of her throat. She swam for all she was worth, just waiting for the owner of the eyes to leave its hiding place and attack. It didn't move.
Rachel spotted Hallie, and waved her arms frantically for them to surface. Hallie obeyed, and followed Rachel to where the morning light broke through the water.
"We have to get outta here!" Rachel gasped in a salty voice as soon as they were on top. "We gotta leave now!"
"Whattabout Christina?!" Hallie protested.
At that moment, a small object bobbed up to the surface just a few yards from Hallie. Just one look at it told them instantly what it was...Christina's face mask and snorkel.
Rachel let out a strangled cry and began to swim like a maniac, paddling with every ounce of strength in her body to get to the small motorboat that the girls had borrowed from the dock. "Hallie, hurry!" She yelled in a panicked voice as she thrust herself into the boat.
"Where are we going?!" Hallie cried as she caught up to Rachel. "We can't just leave Chris!"
"We have to go NOW," Rachel urged, wiping salt and tears from her eyes. "I can't explain it, we just have to get back to shore!"
Hallie collapsed into the back of the boat, too shocked and exhausted to argue again. Rachel grasped frantically at the engine chain, and the little motorboat let out a froth of bubbles. Keeping her gaze away from the water, she directed the boat towards the shadowed shore, her voice choked out by sobs.
Scully walked down the basement halls in quick steps in order to get her blood moving. She pulled her small coat tighter around her, glaring at the AC vent that she passed. Why can't they ever get that air conditioner fixed? she thought. It's July, but down here it feels like it's January.
She arrived at their office door. Her hand hovered over the doorknob, when suddenly the door opened before her and Mulder's tall frame filled her vision.
"Hey, Scully!" He smiled at her. "You're just in time. Here, come with me."
"Wait," Scully called after him as he headed down the hall. "Where are we going?"
"Skinner's office," Mulder explained. "he just called us up. Said something about a phone call for us."
"Through the general FBI line?"
Scully sighed, and followed Mulder right back up the route she had taken. As soon as they exited the basement level, they were hit by a blast of hot, stiff air to counteract the frigid basement air. I wish I could actually be in a stable environment for once... Scully thought again.
The two agents headed into Skinner's office, where he sat holding the phone. "I don't know who or what this is about, agents, but this is a long-distance call, so I suggest that you get through it quickly."
"Long-distance?" Scully questioned. Mulder just took the phone.
"Is this Agent Mulder?" A teenage voice came from the other end.
"Yes...who is this?"
"I don't know if you remember me or not...this is Rachel Williams, from Malibu. About a year and a half ago, you and Agent Scully came to Malibu to look for a...sea monster?"
Mulder had to think for a minute, but then he remembered. "Yeah...the Malikudda." Mulder saw Scully tense up just a little at the mention of the creature that had nearly eaten her alive. "What about it?" He asked.
"I....." Mulder thought he heard the teenager's voice crack slightly. "It's back. I saw it again, and it..." She stopped.
Mulder's interest was instantly piqued. "Where? It appeared at Zuma beach again?"
"No...I'm not in Malibu right now. I'm in Pago Pago, on Tutuila."
"What are you doing in Pago Pago?"
"Senior trip," She answered. "I'm here with most of the class and my Biology teacher. We just graduated."
Mulder nodded. "So you think that you saw the Malikudda in Pago Pago?"
"I know I saw it," Rachel corrected. "Hallie and Christina and I were out snorkleing in the early morning...and Christina...she was..."
"Have you told anyone else?" Mulder cut her off to avoid an emotional breakdown.
"No..." Rachel said slowly. "No one would believe me. Even Hallie is a little bit skeptical, and she was there. I was just trying to think of something to do, someone to tell...and I remembered you and Agent Scully, and how you helped us out the first time. I thought that perhaps..." Her voice became hopeful. "You could come down and help us get rid of it again."
Mulder thought about the desperate request. If they went, he knew that Scully would not be happy about it, considering what happened the last time they encountered the Malikudda. But if they didn't go, then that thing could certainly attack again. And they were the only ones who had an idea on how to deal with it. "We'll do everything we can," Mulder assured her. "Scully and I will be on a flight down there as soon as possible. Then we can figure out what to do there."
"Thank you so much," Rachel sighed heavily with relief. "I just can't go back in the water again until I know that that thing is gone for good."
"Just sit tight," Mulder finished, and hung up the phone.
"Agent Mulder, what is this all about?" Skinner demanded the moment Mulder replaced the phone on the desk.
"Sir, Scully and I need to go to Pago Pago right away," Mulder launched straight into his explanations. "We can book a flight there today, and catch the night plane there and be there in the morning..."
"Pago Pago?!" Skinner nearly lept out of his seat in surprise. "What on earth makes you think I'm going to send you and Scully off on some vacation straight out of nowhere?!"
"It's not a vacation, sir...something's happened down there. Something that we've encountered before."
"Is this part of an official investigation?"
"Then there is no reason for you to investigate it," Skinner stated simply.
"But sir, it's important that we do this, or someone else might get hurt--"
"Agents, I know that you believe that whatever is at this island is dangerous and that you need to go out and defeat it." Skinner's tone was lined with sarcasm. "But unless an actual crime has been reported and filed to the FBI, I cannot let you two run off together without authorization."
Mulder's shoulders slumped, clearly disappointed with his rejection. Skinner sighed, knowing he had upset Mulder. "I'm sure you both have plenty to do, Agents. I'll be seeing you."
They both took the hint. Scully nodded her head for Mulder to follow her out of Skinner's office. Mulder sighed, cast one last glance at the phone, and exited the office.
"I don't like this," Mulder shook his head. "You and I both know what that thing is capable of, Scully...if Rachel Williams said that it attacked once, then it certainly won't think twice about attacking again."
"But I don't understand it, Mulder," Scully answered. "I thought that this Malikudda was dealt with in Malibu. You told me how it got sucked into the whirlpool; you called it a dimension door. What on earth would it be doing a year and a half later, thousands of miles away over in the Samoa Islands? How did it get there?"
"I don't know..." Mulder sighed. "But the only way we could find out is if we went down there and investigated it ourselves. And now we lost our chance."
Scully just shivered slightly. "Even if we could go, I would rather not want to encounter anything like that again. Monster or not, that thing broke my leg and nearly killed me."
Mulder sighed again. "Although you have to admit...a few days on a tropical island wouldn't have been that bad of a case to take."
Scully agreed with that. "Just forget about it, Mulder, there's nothing we can do about it."
Mulder didn't answer. They may not have a case, but it wouldn't be easy to forget a phone call like that.
The glass cup tinkled against the polished wood of the patio table, mixing with the interweaving sounds of people's conversations and water splashing in the pool and the ocean moving beneath the ship's hull. Special Agent Ritter of the FBI gazed at his surroundings with obvious pleasure. He looked in particular at a young woman letting herself drift in the pool, a woman with dark brown locks and soft, chocolate eyes. She was Jenny Toolett, a secretary at the CDC. And soon to be Mrs. Jenny Ritter, Ritter thought happily.
His fiancee` decided that she had had enough of the pool, and slipped out of the chlorinated water to go and get her towel. Ritter followed her every movement, congratulating himself for falling in love with such a beautiful woman. Jenny came up to him, shaking water out of her hair. "You sure you don't want to go in the pool?" She asked. "It feels really good."
"No..." Ritter said. "We're going to be docking in Pago Pago soon anyway."
Jenny smiled at him. Ritter had met her just about a year ago, and they had started going out nine months ago. He had proposed to her at the beginning of June, and she had agreed to it, and as a result they were now spending several weeks on a cruise ship sailing through the South Pacific islands. Ritter found the tropical ocean air and relaxing atmosphere to be quite an improvement from the stuffy FBI offices where he had spent so much time.
"We're getting closer," Jenny told him as she gazed out over the cruise boat rail. "I can see the beach and the buildings from here."
Ritter smiled back at her. "Yeah, we-"
A sudden sound, like a rumble from deep within the bowels of the earth, errupted at once all over the ship. Ritter caught Jenny as the huge boat rocked unsteadily. "What was that?!" She cried.
Ritter looked around the boat frantically, and saw everyone else also tripping and shouting in surprise. What's going on here?!
The distant rumble came again, followed by some very disturbing squeaks and groans. The ship shuddered, feeling just for a moment like an unstable elevator. Everyone on the ship was clinging to the edge of panic, not knowing what was going on or what was causing it. "Somebody needs to go get the captain and figure out what's happening here..." Ritter said.
Right on cue, a loud, reverberating voice sounded out on the cruise ship's loudspeaker, causing everyone on the ship to go silent. "Attention! Attention passengers of 'The Silverway'! This is your captain speaking! We have experienced a problem with the hull, and the ship will have to be evacuated immediately. Now, I need all passengers to make their way to the nearest lifeboat station in an orderly fashion..."
Of course, the moment that the captain mentioned "evacuate" and "lifeboat", the entire cruise ship errupted into chaos. People began screaming and running everywhere, pushing others out of the way, scrambling to stay close to loved ones. Ritter latched firmly onto Jenny's arm. "Come on...we'd better get to a lifeboat right away."
As they tried to make their way through the pressing crowd, they felt the ship rock again, and begin to slowly yet surely lower into the sea. Ritter tried to keep down his own panic as he searched for a lifeboat station. He was thinking only about getting Jenny and himself to safety, but he was also wondering what on earth could have caused the cruise boat to start sinking.
"There, there's a lifeboat!" Jenny cried, pointing to their left, where masses of passengers were beginning to crowd around a large inflatable raft. Ritter steered them in that direction. He pushed and shoved at anyone who got in his way, knowing that the pushiest people were the ones who would get to the lifeboats first. I guess that FBI physical training became useful after all...
Some way or another, Ritter and Jenny managed to make their way to the front of the line. A crew member was hurriedly ushering people into the lifeboat, and taking any possessions they tried to sneak aboard. The crew member pulled Ritter and Jenny onto the lifeboat and forcefully seated them in-between some crying children and a rather heavyset man in his bathing suit.
"It's okay," Ritter reassured his fiancee`. "We're going to be alright now."
After just a few more people came aboard, the lifeboat was full, and the crew member ordered for it to be lowered into the water. Slowly, slowly, the inflatable raft full of passengers was lowered with ropes and pulleys into the churning aqua-blue water below.
As the lifeboat touched the ocean, Ritter got a good look at the cruise ship. He couldn't see where the hole was, but he could tell that the ship was definitely beginning to lean over to one side precariously. He thrust his arm around Jenny, comforting her. "We may have just a hit a coral reef or something. It's a good thing that we're so close to the island; we'll be able to get on land and get food and a hotel right away. It certainly could have been much worse."
The small, crowded boat was directed away from the sinking ship to go and join the other lifeboats. They could see the shores of Tutuila not very far away, offering them shelter from the frothing tropical ocean. Someone at the rear of the lifeboat started its small engine, and the boat chugged forward.
"Well, it's almost like this vacation has turned into more of an adventure," Jenny laughed. "We'll have fun telling about this back at th--"
Her words were suddenly cut short as an amazing force hit the boat from below, throwing the lifeboat into the air and knocking all of its passengers into the sea.
Ritter hit the water on his belly, sending a shocking pain throughout his entire body. He began to sink, and then kicked his legs desperately, struggling to reach the surface.
He opened his eyes and began to scan the clear water, searching frantically for her. He saw other people suspended in salt liquid, kicking and pushing and creating a mass of bubbles that was impossible to see through. He began to swim, holding what little oxygen he had inside his lungs tightly. The water was an instoppable chaos of people and bubbles and scraps of debris and sea plants. I have to find Jenny...
Something suddenly struck him in the side forcefully, spinning him around into confusion. What was that?! His mind raced, his lungs screamed for air.
When he opened his eyes again, another gaze met his...a threatening, reptillian gaze, belonging to something he had never imagined existed. He managed to get in one last scream before there was a pain, like railroad spikes stabbing him on all sides, and then blackness.
Scully flipped through the in-flight magazine with little interest; a last resort after the movie and the food failed to satisfy her. Apparently, the magazine was made by the same people who made the food...it was distasteful.
Mulder saw Scully's disgusted expression, and took off his headphones to talk to her. "Hey, what're you upset about? We're going to a tropical island! That would certainly make me happy, anyway."
"Oh, I'm not upset that we're going to the Samoa Islands at all," Scully assured him. "I couldn't be happier about that. I just find it an amazing coincidence that a federal agent is drowned in the exact same place that you wanted to help Rachel Williams."
"And a federal agent that's an old friend of yours, in fact," Mulder said, not bothering to hide the sarcasm in his voice.
"Sorry, but I really don't consider someone who shoots me in the stomach to be my friend."
"You shot me in the shoulder," Mulder countered, his face taking on a pouty look. "Does that mean you're not my friend?" He said in a fake, whiny voice.
"Oh, Mulder..." Scully rolled her eyes. "Don't be like that. You know what I mean when I'm talking about Agent Ritter."
"You almost sound like you're happy that he drowned," Mulder said with raised eyebrows.
"Of course not. I'm not happy that anyone drowned at all. I'm just amazed at the coincidence."
"I doubt that it's a coincidence," Mulder said. "A large cruise ship that's close to Tutuila is suddenly struck from below and sinks. All the passengers get into lifeboats, but one boat is overturned suddenly. Most people are able to get into different boats, but a few don't make it. Their bodies haven't been recovered yet. One of the lost just happens to be a federal agents, which is the only reason we have been allowed to investigate."
"So..." Scully said, "you think that the Malikudda attacked the cruise ship and devoured the people in the overturned lifeboat."
"What else would have caused the ship to sink?" Mulder reasoned. "There were no coral reefs or rock croppings where the boat sank. No storms or rough seas. The captain and the crew still have no idea what caused the ship to sink."
"Do you think that Skinner thought that this could have been the Malikudda? Or did he just assign this to us without it coming to his mind?"
"Oh, I think he remembered Rachel's phone call. I almost think that he wanted us to go down and investigate it at first, but he couldn't authorize it until something like this happened."
Just then, the fasten-seat-belt sign switched on overhead, indicating that they were going to land soon. Mulder looked out the window at the ocean and tropical island below them. Even from the air the place looked very inviting. "Well Scully, maybe if there's no Malikudda here after all we can just pretend there's a case going on and spend and few days vacationing!"
"I wish..." Scully sighed.
Scully soaked in the fresh, clean air that surrounded them on all sides, deciding that she could get used to having cases like this. The hotel they were in was constructed mostly of glass, so they had a clear view of the beach just by standing in the lobby.
At the moment, Mulder was attempting to get their rooms. After standing in a rather long line, he managed to get to the front. "Two singles, please," He asked, taking out their FBI card.
"Sorry, sir...we only have one duplex left. It's the busy season, you realize," The receptionist explained.
"Fine, we'll just take that, it's not a problem." Mulder got their room key, and went to join Scully.
"So what do we do now?" Scully inquired.
"Let's have a look around outside," Mulder suggested. "Later we can talk to the captain of the cruise ship or somebody else who might give us information on how the ship sank."
The two walked out of the hotel lobby and into the outside. The hotel stood right across the street from the beach, where most of the people were gathered. The ocean was a perfect sapphire-and-emerald color, with white sand that was dotted with swaying palm trees. The air smelled fresh with lotus blossoms and salt sea water, inviting anyone present to simply forget their troubles and just relax.
Mulder took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Mm-hmm...I think I'm going to enjoy investigating here."
"Agent Mulder, Agent Scully!"
Mulder and Scully turned around at the sound of their names being called. Heading towards them was a small group of teenagers, headed by a tall, blonde girl...Rachel Williams. Her face held obvious relief. "I'm so glad that you could finally make it!" She said as the teens caught up to them. "I was afraid you wouldn't come at all."
Mulder didn't bother to go through any introductions. "We almost didn't...but just yesterday a cruise ship sank close to here, and a federal agent was killed because of it. So we were allowed to come down and investigate."
"Hey, whoa, Rach, you have federal agents for friends? What'd I miss here?" One of the teenage girls butted in.
"This is Agent Mulder and Agent Scully, from the FBI," Rachel explained. "Remember, Liz? I told you about them awhile ago, when they were in Malibu."
Liz nodded, finally remembering. "Hey, that's cool!"
"Yeah, I know," Rachel said with a hint of pride. "I met them back when I was going out with Jake-"
"-President of nation Loser," some other girl added.
"Anyway," Mulder decided to interrupt the girls' conversation. "Rachel, are you sure that the thing you saw underwater when you were snorkeling was the Malikudda? You couldn't be making a mistake?"
Rachel nodded. "I'm positive. I was looking right into its eyes. You can ask Hallie...she was there."
The girl named Hallie stepped out of the crowd. "I didn't actually see anything...the only thing I saw was Christina's mask and snorkel when it came up to the surface. And then Rachel was screaming that we had to get out of the water, so I got out. I really didn't know what she was talking about."
"But if the Malikudda got sent back to wherever it came from when we were caught in the storm, how and why did it suddenly appear all the way over here in the Samoa Islands? Is there some other portal machine that we don't know about?" Scully inquired.
"I doubt that..." Mulder said, his theory beginning to fall into place. "The scientist who created the portable atom-smasher hasn't been released from prison, and I don't think that there was anything in his records about traveling outside the US. If there was a second portal-hole, it would have to have occured naturally, or by someone else. And somehow I think the chances of that are slim."
"Then how did it get here?" Scully persisted.
"I think there were *two* Malikuddas that came through the portal the first time it appeared in Malibu. The second one Rachel and Margaret may not have seen, especially if the first had appeared on the surface and the second deep underwater."
"But then wouldn't we have seen two Malikuddas at the beach instead of just one?" Rachel asked.
"Not necessarily. You could have spotted one at one time and another at a different time and not have known the difference. One could have done the hunting while the other kept the fort in some undersea habitat." Mulder paused. "They could have been mates."
The idea sombered the group. "That still doesn't explain why one would suddenly decide to swim all the way out here," Scully reminded him.
"Well, if the first Malikudda had been sucked back into the portal whirlpool, the second would realize that this was not a safe place to be, and would get out of Malibu as quickly as possible. Why it came to the Samoa Islands in particular...that, I don't know yet."
Rachel gazed out towards the sparkling Pacific with anxious eyes. "I don't care how it got here or why it's here...I just want it gone." She turned her gaze towards the ground. "That thing already got Margaret...and now Christina..."
"Then the first thing I suggest we do is talk to whoever is in charge of the docking schedules at Pago Pago. We have to suspend all sea craft coming into or leaving the port until we can at least contain the Malikudda."
"You want to suspend all shipments and passenger boats going in and out of a port like Pago Pago?!" Scully said in surprise. "Mulder, how on earth do you expect to convince anyone here of something like that? Without this port, no one on these islands has food or materials from the outside. And if you come into these people saying you want to shut down sea traffic because of a sea monster, they're just going to laugh at you."
"They'll have to listen to me," Mulder insisted. "If they don't, more ships will be sunk and more lives lost. It will only be for a little while, until we can contain the Malikudda." He looked in Scully's direction. "And we know how to deal with that creature...we won't make the same mistakes we did last time."
Scully said nothing to contradict Mulder, at least not arguing on whether or not the Malikudda was real. Yes, she had denied its existance in front of Skinner, just because she knew that then was not the time and place to start telling everyone she believed in sea monsters. But an experience like she had had in Malibu was not something she could easily deny having happened.
"Come," Mulder interrupted Scully's thoughts, motioning for him to follow her. "We should go speak with them now."
"Do you even know where you're going, Mulder?" Scully asked, halting Mulder in his tracks.
Rachel sighed. "The person you'll want to talk to is Mr. Conrad Johanneson...he is the head director of all shipments coming and leaving Pago Pago. The Walrus knows him, and that's why we came here for our senior trip."
"The Walrus??" Scully asked with raised eyebrows.
Hallie grinned sheepishly. "Our biology teacher. We call him the Walrus because...well...he is a walrus!"
"Mr. Johanneson's office is on the far west side of Pago Pago Bay," Rachel explained. "Old, big house. You can't miss it."
The FBI agents thanked the group of teens and started out to the bay.
A FEW HOURS LATER
When Scully had told Mulder that the people in charge of Pago Pago Bay would laugh at him and his request, she hadn't imagined that they'd also be incredibly rude. Conrad Johanneson was obviously not a man who found anything funny, especially demands for him to suspend all ship schedules. He glared at the two agents from behind his large, oak wood desk. Mulder swallowed nervously.
"Is there anything we can say that can make you reconsider?" Mulder said desperately. "If you don't stop the docking routine, another ship could be sunken."
"Nothing is going to make me change my mind," Johanneson said firmly. "Especially stories about some sea monster."
"Sir, we came down here to investigate the death of a federal agent," Scully sighed, beginning to get fed up with the way this request was going. "Therefore, it is our job to see that no one else gets hurt, even if it means shutting down business for awhile."
Johanneson looked at Scully with contempt. "I don't believe that the FBI has any jurisdiction over American Samoa. I am the one that makes the rules and sets the standards here."
Mulder leaned back in his char, letting the frustration drain out of his body. He let his gaze drift around the spacious office, and at the strange decor it contained. On the tables and shelves were odd-looking statuettes carved out of wood or stone and decorated with shells. There were sketchings of symbols and gods and monsters framed on the walls as well. "Then what will you do when another ship is sunken? Suppose it is a ship that has important supplies aboard, or what if there's twice as many lives lost as before?"
Johanneson's stern expression didn't change. "I cannot prevent all accidents from happening in this bay. This is not the first time a ship has experienced problems, and it will not be the last. But to ask me to suspend all shipments and cruises on nothing but a sea monster story is simply ludicrous."
Scully decided that it was her turn to step in. "I will say right now Mr. Johanneson that this is more than just 'a sea monster story' as you say. The creature Agent Mulder is speaking of has been encountered before. We have several credible witnesses that can back up our claims. Unfortunately, we can't present them to you at this time."
"Again I say to you...nothing is going to change my mind. No witnesses or evidence of anything else will convince me of your imaginary animal."
Mulder looked at the floor, finally admitting defeat. At least, for now. He gave Scully a look that said they should leave now, and they stood. Johanneson cleared his throat, apparently relieved that he was through talking with them. "Thank you for stopping by," He said, mustering up the little politeness he had left in him.
As the agents turned to leave, Mulder stopped; one more question on his mind. "I couldn't help noticing the decor of your office here, Mr. Johanneson...what exactly is it from?"
Johanneson looked at the surrounding decor as if seeing it for the first time, and nodded. "Oh, it's mostly ancient Polynesian mythology. I find the art to be rather enticing. Although there are practically no more native Polynesians that believe in the old religions anymore..."
"Polynesian?" Mulder questioned. "This is Samoa, though...how do you know about Polynesian mythology?"
"This is the 21st century. It is very easy to travel between all the islands of Oceania, and therefore it is easy to exchange ideas and cultures." Johanneson paused. "Why do you ask?"
"I just wanted to know," Mulder mumbled absently, then led Scully and himself out of the head director's office.
"So much for that idea..." Mulder grumbled as they stepped out into the warm tropical sunshine. "This isn't good, Scully. The longer we ignore this, the more people are going to die." He case his gaze back at the old house. "And that man isn't helping matters any. I don't like the way he was acting...it's like he doesn't want to comply to our wishes for reasons other than what he's giving."
"Well, that's pretty obvious..." Scully explained. "Even if he did believe in the Malikudda, he couldn't announce it to the public and shut down shipping schedules because tourist rates would plummet. American Samoa relies heavily on tourism, and if tourists were to stop coming because of stories of a deadly sea monster, it would hurt these islands more than the Malikudda itself."
"Somehow, I don't think that's it," Mulder disagreed with her. "There's something more to him than just wanting to keep tourism strong."
Scully gave Mulder a look that said, 'You better not try anything stupid.'
But all the mental warnings Scully gave Mulder couldn't change his mind once it was made up.
The only sound he could have created was drowned out by the soft droning of the waves on the shore and the chirping of crickets hiding in the grass. Mulder was thankful for this constant background noise as he eased along the fern bushes lining the driveway of one Conrad Johanneson.
Scully would kill me if she found out what I was doing... He thought to himself. If had been difficult enough trying to sneak out of their hotel room without waking Scully. And now it was going to be even more difficult trying to sneak into Mr. Johanneson's home (which luckily happened to be right next to his office.)
Mulder cautiously peered up over the tops of the ferns. Johanneson's car was not in the driveway. Mulder breathed a sigh of relief...that meant that he wasn't home, and he wouldn't have as much trouble sneaking in. Keeping himself hidden, he tread to the front door, and twisted the doorknob slowly. It was unlocked.
Mulder creacked the door open and took a few silent steps into the darkened house. He really hoped that Johanneson didn't have a wife or a butler, or any other person in the house that could discover him. It appeared that all the lights were off, and there was no sound within the house.
Mulder could feel his heart thumping loudly with something between nervousness and thrill. He knew that he was taking a big risk by coming here, especially since it was on little more than a hunch. For an instant, he toyed with the idea of going back now, while he still could. But his curiosity and sense of purpose pushed his feet forward instead of backward.
His eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, and he was able to observe his surroundings to the best of his ability. He found the house to be decorated the same way as the office...statues and paintings of Polynesian gods, heroes and monsters, strings of shells and dried seaweed, and what appeared to be ritualistic weapons and other tools. This man is very interested in this Oceania mythology idea... Mulder thought.
The house had an upstairs, but Mulder decided to remain on the first floor for now. He walked down the hall, not sure of what he was looking for, and at the same time feeling that the entire house was telling him what he needed to know...
Mulder turned and went behind the stairs, heading into what he figured was the study. The small room was crowded with books and papers that created a maze of information. Here the Polynesian decor was everywhere...the walls were practically hidden behind drawings of mythological beings and masks and hanging weapons. On the center of the deak was a small statue of a fearsome-looking god. There were also some small sculptures of fish, reptiles and other sea creatures; some unfinished. So he likes to sculpt, too...
There was one unfinished sculpture, larger than the rest, that caught his attention. The stone was slick obsidian, and was beginning to take the shape of what looked like a menacing, scaly marine serpent...
Mulder's suspicions mounted. He saw that the most recent drawings were those of loose sketches of serpents, giant fish, water dragons and the like. None of them looked exactly like the Malikudda, but it was as if the artist was trying to picture the animal and wasn't getting it.
The desk was also littered with all different types of colorful shells and candles that had been burned down to their bases. It was almost like there had been some sort of ritual here. He could smell the fading whisps of a strange odor in the air, like incense.
Another thing that caught Mulder's attention was what appeared to be a poem, written in fancy calligraphy. But he couldn't read the poem since it was written in the traditional Polynesian language. A quick scan of the desk revealed to him something helpful - a Polynesian-English dictionary. Grabbing a stray piece of paper, he translated the poem as best as he could. When he finished, he stared at the poem in surprise, his eyes wide.
O eight for Tangaroa
Receive till thou art satisfied
O messenger for Tangaroa."
Mulder's head shot up at a sound, like judgement day being heralded. It took him a few seconds to realize that it was the grandfather clock in the corner of the study, striking 11:30. He let out an anxious breath.
He quickly pocketed his translation of the poem, and put things back in relatively the same place he had found them. He picked up the obsidian serpent sculpture again, studying it from all angles. The thing seemed to snarl at him. He cringed at its uncarved eyes and chisled teeth and set it down.
Another sound startled him, but it wasn't the grandfather clock. It was the sound of a car's engine, and tires squealing to a stop on the driveway.
Mulder flipped off the light and headed out of the study, intending to go back out the way he had come in. But the sound of a car door slamming told him that the front door would not be a wise choice for escape. Instead, Mulder switched direction and headed back into the house, hoping there was another way out. He ducked into the kitchen just as the front door opened.
Mulder didn't dare to breathe. Mr. Johanneson stepped into his home and locked the door behind him. He paused, as if sensing another presence in the house. Mulder closed his eyes, hoping, hoping that he wouldn't decide to look in the kitchen. Johanneson's footsteps sounded throughout the hall. And they were coming in his direction. Mulder hid just beyond the door, deciding that if Johanneson came in, he would just give him a blow to the back of the head and get out as quickly as possible...
The footsteps stopped, and Mulder then realized that Johanneson had gone into his study. It's now or never...
Mulder darted past the open study door, and heard Johanneson spin around fast. He ignored it and simply headed for the door. He opened the door and slammed it behind him, not caring if he made noise now. Mulder ran as fast as he could down the driveway, over the fern bushes, and sped away like a fugitive into the night.
When he arrived back at the hotel room, breathless and excited, the first thing he saw was Scully sitting on the edge of her bed. She was glaring at him, arms crossed, body stiff. Mulder skidded to a halt in front of her, breathing heavily.
"Mulder, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Mulder's brain searched frantically for a response. He wasn't coming up with anything. Scully's gaze grew harder and harder the longer Mulder stayed silent. "You snuck over to that Mr. Johanneson's house, didn't you?"
Mulder shrugged his shoulders. "Think so?"
Scully rolled her eyes skywards. "Mulder, why on earth did you do that?! Johanneson isn't connected to the Malikudda, so you can't justify it by saying it's connected to the case. It's nothing more than your curiosity, Mulder, and someday it's going to get you in more trouble than it has already."
"Well, this time it got me somewhere," Mulder insisted, pulling the translated poem out of his pocket. "This Johanneson person knows more about the Malikudda then he's letting on. I went inside his house..."
"You broke into his house?!" Scully exclaimed. "I didn't exactly break in..." Mulder sighed. "The door was unlocked. And I didn't take anything..."
"Then what's that in your hand?" Scully pointed to the piece of paper.
"A translation of something I found written in Polynesian on his desk. Tell me what you think of it." He handed the poem to Scully.
She looked it over once, twice, three times. Then she looked back at Mulder, hoping for an explanation. "What does this mean? Who is Tangaroa?"
"I don't know..." Mulder paused. "But his house was full of pieces of Polynesian mythology. Including some drawings and sculptures of what looks like the Malikudda."
"So, what? You think that Johanneson believes that the Malikudda is Tangaroa?"
"I don't think so..." Mulder was silent for awhile, and then suddenly pulled his cell phone out of his bag and began to dial.
"Mulder, who are you calling?"
"The Lone Gunmen."
"At this hour?! It's almost 1:00 A.M.!"
"Time difference," He reminded her. "It should be in the afternoon their time."
"Why are you calling them?"
"To ask them about Tangaroa," Mulder said as he heard their phone ringing. "Perhaps they know something about Polynesian mythology. If I ask Johanneson, he'll get suspicious of me."
"Hello, Lone Gunmen's office." Frohike's voice came from the other end.
"Hey, it's Mulder. I need some information."
"Hey, Mulder's on the line!" He heard Frohike call to the other two Gunmen. Langly and Byers picked up the phone as well. "Shoot." Frohike said.
"Well, Scully and I are here in Pago Pago..."
"Pago Pago?!" Langly said in surprise. "Wow, aren't you the little tropical paradise vacationers! How'd you convince Skinner to give you a break?"
"It's a case," Mulder informed him. "Do any of you know anything about ancient Polynesian mythology?"
"I do!" Langly piped up again. "I studied mythologies in college!"
"I didn't know you ever went to college, Langly..."
"I did," Langly boasted. "Now, what do you want to know?"
"Is there any mention of the name 'Tangaroa' in the island religions?"
Langly was silent for a moment. "Yeah, I remember now...Tangaroa was the Polynesian god of the ocean, fish and reptiles. He could be easily angered, and swallowed up people and animals in storms he caused."
Mulder continued. "Was he shaped like a fish or a reptile in any way?"
"No, I don't think any of the Oceania gods and goddesses were. He just had power over the ocean beasts."
"Is there anything else about him you can remember?"
"I...I don't think so. Why do you want to know? What sort of case are you working on, anyway?"
"Something we've encountered before," Mulder said. "A sea monster."
"Sea monster, huh? That wouldn't be Tangaroa, then. Maybe it's...I dunno, his dog or something?"
"It's not Tangaroa's dog. It's a sea monster from another dimension."
"The plot thickens!"
"The plot's too thick as it is," Mulder sighed. "This monster has already killed five people, not counting the others who died the first time it appeared in Malibu. We have to make sure it doesn't kill anyone else."
"Well, we hope it works out," Frohike said. "Bring me back a coconut, okay?"
"Yeah, thanks for the information. I think it will help us," Mulder finished, and hung up his cell phone.
"How will it help us?" Scully questioned as soon as Mulder was off the phone. "All this business about Polynesian mythology and Tangaroa isn't going to help us understand the Malikudda or why it's here."
"It may not help us understand the Malikudda, but it might help us understand Conrad Johanneson," Mulder explained. "What if he actually believes that ancient Polynesian mythology? What if he thinks that, say, the Malikudda is some kind of servant of Tangaroa?"
"That's quite a stretch, Mulder," Scully said. "Besides, it's not a crime to believe in ancient religions. How do you expect to get anywhere by stating that Johanneson believes in the Malikudda?"
"Well, if he does believe it exists, that means that he lied to federal agents," Mulder mentioned. "And that means that there's also a reason why he doesn't want us to stop the Malikudda." Mulder paced the hotel room, ideas beginning to pop into his mind. "Maybe...maybe he wants ships to be passing through the bay on the belief that the Malikudda will attack them. Perhaps he thinks that these dead people are being taken as sacrifices to Tangaroa..."
"Enough with that, Mulder!" Scully said, louder than she should have. She didn't want to hear anymore about people being eaten by the Malikudda. "I don't know what you're saying about Johanneson, but that doesn't concern us any. We're here only so that we can get rid of the Malikudda. We'll just have to find a way to do it without Mr. Johanneson's help."
Mulder was silent for awhile. "You're right. We don't need Johanneson's help to track down the Malikudda. Tomorrow we can arrange a diving team that will go with us to Pago Pago Bay, and we can look for the Malikudda..."
Mulder stopped as he saw Scully's body tighten with unpleasant memories. Mulder nodded. "We'll have a large group of people with us, all with radio communications and adequate weapons." Mulder's voice became firm, repeating what he had said earlier. "We won't make the same mistakes we did last time."
The gathering of personnel, materials and seacraft took all of the next day, so they were unable to actually set out on their mission until the day after. During that time, a small private fishing boat that had been out on the bay was suddenly wrecked. Two people had fallen into the water, but only one had come back up. The missing person's body had yet to be recovered. This only prompted Mulder even more, knowing that they would have to act fast if they wanted to stop the disappearances.
Mulder and Scully stood on the dock, waiting for the captain of their ship to announce their departure. A crowd of divers and other workers were helping to load supplies onto their ship, 'Angel Gabriel'. Scully stared out at the ocean nervously as Mulder went through a checklist of what they had.
"We have 8 professional divers accompanying us, all with at least three years of experience. Each one will have a radio communicator that extends to all the other divers in a large radius. We're all getting 40 minutes' worth of air in air tanks, as well as large flashlights. For weapons, um...each person will have a shockbar that goes up to 10,000 volts, as well as large spearguns, like they use against sharks."
Scully turned to look at Mulder, her face etched over with worry. "Mulder, spearguns aren't going to do any good against the Malikudda..."
"I know..." Mulder sighed. "But do you think I could possibly get 8 divers to come along with us if I said that we were hunting for a sea monster with railroad-spike teeth and unbreakable scales? Those who wouldn't think I was just nuts would leave because they're afraid."
"If you didn't tell them we were looking for a sea monster, what did you tell them?"
"I told them we were looking for a large marine predator that's disturbed several boats in this area. They've just assumed it was a shark. They were originally just going to have spearguns, but then I suggested the shockbars."
"I don't think it's a good idea to not tell these people what they may be up against."
"We'll be able to handle it," Mulder assured her. "We came prepared this time."
"Do we have steelsuits?"
Mulder looked down at the dock. "I wasn't able to get ahold of any steelsuits." Mulder felt his skin prickle as he saw Scully's face drop. It was probably the steelsuit that had prevented Scully from losing a limb last time, and he knew that not having them would make her feel less safe. He put his arm around her shoulder to comfort her. "Don't worry, Scully...you're going to be okay."
"Attention! This is the captain of 'Angel Gabriel'! Will all those participating in the Bay Predator Extermination Excursion please board the ship. We will be casting off in five minutes." A voice sounded out on a loudspeaker over the dock.
"That's our cue," Mulder said, turning Scully towards the boat with his arm still around her shoulder. "Let's get to it."
"By the way..." Scully asked as they headed up the gangplank. "How on earth are we paying for all this?"
Mulder sighed again. "Let's just say that the FBI is going to be getting a very large bill after this is all done..."
In a matter of five minutes, Mulder and Scully and all the divers were on deck, as well as all of the other people that would be helping them on their dangerous mission. The ship lifted anchor and began to pull away from the dock, slowly heading out into the tropical bay. Mulder and Scully stood at the rear of the ship, watching the shores of Tutuila pull away from them. There were a few people watching them from the shore, including Rachel Williams and her friends. They waved to the two agents as they left; a look of renewed hope in Rachel's eyes.
'Angel Gabriel' pulled away from the dock completely and headed out into the sparkling sapphire ocean. It was just after noon, and the ocean was ablaze with stars the sun cast on the surface of the water. There were a few other boats out on the water as well, but they were too far away to hinder 'Angel Gabriel's desired path.
"It's beautiful..." Scully sighed as they gazed out at the ocean.
"Yeah...it's hard to imagine that something so beautiful could contain something so deadly."
Scully didn't like the reminder. She nodded towards the rest of the divers, who were already heading below deck. "Come on...we better go get suited up."
30 minutes later, the entire team, including Mulder and Scully, were assembled on the side of the ship. It was impossible to tell the divers apart, as they were all now dressed in black-and-blue wetsuits, air tanks and face masks. Each diver had a shockbar and speargun at his side.
"Alright!" Mulder, who was standing at the front of the group, quieted everyone with his voice. "Agent Scully and I will be heading this expedition. Our goal is to find a large marine predator that has been attacking ships in this area. If we cannot kill it, then we should at least attempt to contain it. If any person spots it, he should not attempt to attack it alone, but should call everyone else to come and help him. I would suggest using your shockbars; they can inflict the most damage. We need this thing down and dead as soon as possible." Mulder paused for breath. "Any questions?"
One of the divers spoke up. "What exactly is this 'marine predator' that we're looking for, anyway?"
"Trust me...you'll know it when you see it." Mulder cleared his throat. "I just want you all to use extreme caution. Do not let down your guard when we are below the surface. Use your weapons and your flashlight; they are your best friends from now on." Mulder was quiet for a moment, waiting for another person to speak. "Alright, then...if we find nothing, we will meet back here in half an hour to refill our air tanks and then try again. If we have to do that repeatedly, we will discuss a different plan of action."
Mulder looked at Scully with determination. "Let's go!"
Grabbing Scully's wrist tightly, Mulder stepped to the edge of the deck, and they dived together into the water.
There was a brief moment of confusion as they landed in the ocean in a torrent of bubbles. Then the bubbles disappeared, and the water was once again clear. Mulder forced his eyes open, and saw Scully suspended beside him, her red hair waving around eerily in the water. He inhaled, and metal-tasting oxygen filled his mouth and throat. "You okay?" He heard Scully's voice echoing in his head.
Mulder nodded. Scully had already done this once before, and knew a little more of what to expect. She motioned for Mulder to move away from the boat so that the other people could dive in. The ocean suddenly erupted in an explosion of bubbles more of the other divers hit the water, then instantly regained themselves and set out on their own desired paths. Mulder and Scully went straight ahead.
Unlike the murky waters at Zuma beach, the tropical ocean in Pago Pago Bay was very clear and easy to see through. Mulder could see all the way to the bottom of the bay, even though it was fairly deep. The ocean bottom was covered with a thick carpet of sea grass waving gracefully in the current. The ocean itself seemed a living being, full of colorful fish and other sea creatures. For awhile, Mulder was completely mesmerized by the scene cast before him, and he almost forgot that he was supposed to be looking for the Malikudda. Then his senses snapped into place as he remembered that he was not supposed to be just exploring.
It suddenly occurred to him that, at least this time around, there was nobody that had been attacked by the Malikudda and lived to tell about it. He remembered when the Malikudda had first appeared in Malibu, there had been two or three people that had lost limbs to the monster, but still lived. Why is the Malikudda taking whole bodies instead of just bites? It's not normal for any predator to do...
He and Scully kept close together, swimming as one being. After what had happened before, Mulder was not going to let Scully go out of his eyesight for anything. And of course, Scully wasn't planning on going off by herself, either.
"Hey, you see anything yet?" One of the divers' voices crackled over the radio.
"Naw, just fish sticks," Another answered sarcastically.
Mulder was surprised with how easily he was able to move through the water despite all his equipment. Above water it had been very difficult to move in his tight wetsuit and awkward fins, but now the fins and wetsuit provided him with easy movement through the ocean. Scully suggested that they go deeper, and they dived closer to the bottom, feeling the pressure change shoot through their ears.
It wasn't until several minutes later when one of the divers spoke again. "Hey...I think I see something!"
"What is it?!" Mulder answered excitedly.
"Aw man...I dunno! But it's huge! Rick, come here, you gotta see this!"
Mulder and Scully turned around in the water, trying to figure out which direction to go in. "Where are you?" Mulder cried into his radio communicator. "We need to know where you are!"
Now the communicators were garbled full of several divers speaking out at once and static, making it impossible to hear anything anyone was saying. Mulder and Scully began to swim where another diver was swimming, assuming that was the direction they needed to go. Suddenly, the original diver's voice sounded out above the others: "HEY RICK, BRETT! SOMEBODY! THAT THING IS COMING-I CAN'T-KRRRRKT-IT!!-KXT-OH MY GOOOOOAAAA-KHHHHZZZZZZZZ!......"
"What's happening?!" Mulder cried, feeling his heart beating the word FEAR FEAR FEAR over and over again in his chest. Ahead of him and Scully he could see where all of the other divers were congregating, and where there seemed to be some sort of struggle in the water.
"Where is it?!" Mulder yelled frantically.
"I don't know!" One diver cried. "Trent is gone!"
"Oh God...there's blood here! That thing is gone, and it took Trent!!" Mulder felt his heart sink to the bottom of the bay. We couldn't have lost a man that fast! This is unreal...it took us completely by surprise!
For a moment, there was nothing except frightened yelling going on between the divers as everyone tried to figure out what had just happened. Mulder looked over to Scully...her eyes were wide with fear. He could hear her breathing coming in frightened, quick gasps. I shouldn't have brought her down here. The guilty thought entered his mind. She can't handle this. I know she said she was all right, but she's really afraid of this thing. She shouldn't be doing this, she should be where it's safe...
"There it is again!!" Somebody cried, breaking the drone of fearful sounds. There was a rushing of bodies as people searched around them, not knowing what they were looking for but afraid of it anyway. Mulder grabbed his shockbar out of his belt and switched it to 10,000 volts, ready to slay that dragon once and for all.
Chaos reigned! The underwater world was lost in a violent storm of bubbles and bodies and screaming. The Malikudda was everywhere, thrashing left and right like a shark in the middle of a school of helpless fish. Mulder saw it as flashes of black and blue scales, a blue of fins, and heard growls and roars like an out-of-control engine. Mulder couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't think. The only thing he could feel was his frantic heartbeat and Scully's arm inside his grip. Mulder was trying to yell into the melee, but no sound was coming out of his throat.
When suddenly, everyone cleared out of the way, and he saw it.
It was like watching fish part aside as the predator charged through. Mulder suddenly found himself looking straight into the face of the Malikudda, eight-inch teeth and all. It was swimming like a machine towards Scully and him, reptilian gaze fixed firmly on its prey, scales flashing in the clear water.
Beside him, Mulder heard Scully scream.
Mulder shut his eyes instinctually, expecting any minute for the Malikudda's teeth to come tearing through his flesh. His entire body felt as if it was coming apart, fiber by fiber, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Instead of the tearing of flesh, Mulder felt an immense force hit him from below, causing him to spin off into the water in a mass of confusion. Somewhere in the mess of water and bubbles, he let go of Scully's wrist. The radio hissed in his skull.
Divide and conquer The thought suddenly sprang to Mulder's mind. The Malikudda's trying to split us up so that it will be easier to pick us off!
Mulder thought he heard Scully's voice, and he kicked against the water, trying desperately to swim. Where's my shockbar?! He suddenly realized that he had dropped it when the Malikudda had struck him.
Then he saw the Malikudda again, turning around to come back for another pass. He also saw Scully, struggling to regain herself several yards from him. It's gonna get Scully!
Mulder was wrong. Although Scully was closer, the Malikudda changed direction...and started to head towards him!
For a moment, Mulder was frozen, completely paralyzed with fear and confusion and awe. He never could have imagined anything like this...this creature with power in its every muscle, control in its every movement, and causing fear with every steel scale on its body.
It was Scully's terrified voice that got Mulder moving again. He began to swim, swim for all he was worth, utilizing every muscle in his body to help take him away from his hungry pursuer. He sucked in oxygen from his air tank and dived, hoping to hide somewhere in the rocks and seaweed.
But Mulder wasn't fast enough. The Malikudda was built for swimming and hunting, and there was no way that Mulder was going to outswim it. Mulder glanced behind him for a split second, and saw nothing except an open mouth lined with white teeth, heading straight for him.
Mulder heard the jaws snap shut, throwing a painful darkness across his vision and snapping his body awkwardly. Then he just felt an immense rushing sensation, the sound of blood in his ears, the feeling of a force dragging his body along dark liquid. His entire body screamed pain.
A sudden, killing thought entered his mind. What if it swallowed me whole?!!
The thought made him open his eyes again, despite the pressure and rushing sensation. He saw nothing but a blue blur, and light coming from somewhere above him. He twisted his head around, and his vision was met with a giant nostril. He realized that the monster had not swallowed him, but had just bitten down on something, and was carrying him somewhere...
He couldn't hear Scully's voice anymore. The only sound he was aware of was the rushing in his ears, and also a strange hissing sound...
Mulder realized what had happened. The Malikudda had bitten down on his air tank, and the giant teeth had punctured the metal under pressure. It didn't bite me! Mulder tried to struggle free of the Malikudda's grip, but it held on tightly, and the current and the pressure prevented him from moving, anyway.
Mulder felt the Malikudda dive suddenly, seeming to go directly into the ground. He felt his body shift suddenly, like a plaything being tossed by a child, and suddenly he was being pushed down a long, black tunnel.
Again, Mulder thought the Malikudda had swallowed him, and again he was proved wrong when he saw the creature's nostril again. Where am I, then?! His mind raced as fast as his heart as he was pulled deeper and deeper into the never-ending blackness.
When suddenly, the Malikudda let go of his air tank, intending to chomp down again and get a better grip on Mulder's body. And all hell broke loose inside Mulder's air tank.
The oxygen under pressure was suddenly released into the water, causing the air tank to shoot away from Mulder's body like a rocket. In the process, Mulder's mouthpiece was ripped from his lips, smacking against his teeth and causing a flood of salt water to fill his throat and lungs.
The released air tank spun around in a flurry of oxygen bubbles, hissing and banging against the sides of the tunnel he was in. It struck the Malikudda across the nose and then on the neck, forcing the enormous creature backwards as if it had been blown back by an explosion. Mulder heard the monster roar in a rage at the strange, powerful object that was bashing it across the face.
AIR! OH GOD, I NEED AIR!!!
Mulder swam with both arms and legs, holding his breath tightly inside him and shutting his eyes against the stinging salt water. He heard the Malikudda swimming behind him, trying to catch up, having pushed the punctured air tank out of the way. Mulder could feel his mind beginning to grow fuzzy from lack of oxygen; his limbs were beginning to fail him. His last thoughts were those of terror and defeat...I'm in a cave...I'm just swimming into a dead end...I'm going to drown myself...if it doesn't eat me, first...
Just as Mulder was about to surrender himself to the Malikudda's appetite, he felt something pulling on his body...the surface! He could feel emptiness above him! He swam for the surface like a madman, knowing that his lungs were about to burst, knowing that the Malikudda was behind him...
His head broke the surface and he roared...AIR! Precious oxygen! He splashed in the water, his limbs flinging water everywhere, as he greedily sucked in air. He forced his eyes open despite the stinging salt, but nothing but darkness met his vision. The water was so warm he felt like he was boiling.
OH, AUGH! WHAT IS THAT SMELL?!!
A horrid stench filled his nostrils, causing him to feel faint. All the air around him seemed to consist only of the smell, that horrible smell that he couldn't identify. It made him want to go back down in the water...
Mulder felt the Malikudda before he heard it, felt its teeth brushing against his leg, felt its hot breath beating on his back. Mulder felt himself rise in the air and he kicked, feeling his fin hit the monster in the eye. It howled in a rage, releasing more hot breath.
Mulder felt his fingers clutch solid rock, and he clung to it as his lifeline. Feeling around, he felt a flat, hard surface...a level surface! An embankment!!
He grasped at the flat surface and hoisted himself up. He laid his belly on the hot rock surface, thanking his lucky stars that he had found the embankment. Feeling the Malikudda move below him, Mulder rolled over so that he was farther back on the embankment, where the Malikudda couldn't reach him. He felt his arm touch something soft and wet. There's something else here...
Mulder reached for his flashlight, his hands shaking. He switched it on, and the beam hit the dark water. The flashlight was the only source of light in the entire cave; all else was a complete mystery to him. The light hit the Malikudda, and Mulder stopped and stared at it.
It was staring back at him with hungry eyes, not moving. It was looking at him as if to say, 'I have you exactly where I want you.' Then it disappeared beneath the surface, and was gone completely.
Mulder began to cough, partly because of the salt in his throat, and partly because of the horrid stench that was still everywhere. Mulder cast the flashlight beam around his new surroundings, trying to figure out exactly where he was...
When the light suddenly hit something that made Mulder stumble back in disgust.
It was a large, reeking carpet of...bodies! Grotesque, rotting corpses, some missing arms or legs or heads. He couldn't count how many corpses there were, they seemed to cover the entire edge of the embankment, staining the rocks blood red with their deep wounds.
Mulder suddenly felt extraordinarily nauseated. He switched off his flashlight as his stomach heaved violently. He managed to crawl farther onto the shore before vomiting onto the rocks, leaving his mouth full of the taste of salt and acid.
He released something like a sob and crawled away from the corpses until he hit the wall of the cave. Too sick and shocked and exhausted to carry on anymore, Mulder curled up in a ball and allowed himself to slip into a peaceful, silent darkness.
Scully screamed into her radio communicator, her voice cracking into a strangled cry. She had seen the Malikudda grab Mulder by his air tank, had seen Mulder struggling feebly to free himself, and had seen the Malikudda disappear with Mulder into the small underwater cave. Scully had tried to swim after them, had tried to catch up. But the Malikudda had easily escaped, and all of her kicking and screaming wasn't going to make it give up Mulder.
Two other divers were following Scully, since they now did not know what to do and just turned to their leader. Scully continued to dive towards the cave, hoping that maybe Mulder had found a way to get free and swim back out...
...When suddenly she saw something shooting out of the cave; a large, shiny, cylindrical object...Mulder's air tank!
Scully felt her heart stop for what seemed like an eternity. Her logical self began to scream out its doomsday proclamation as she watched the punctured air tank sink to the bottom of the bay...He's dead. It ripped off his air tank and then it got him. Even if it didn't catch him, he'll drown without any air...
But her logical self was suddenly and violently ripped out of her skull by a pulsating, hot rage. NO! HE'S NOT DEAD! I'M NOT GOING TO ACCEPT IT!!
The rage branched out into obsession, shock, and a blind delusion that she could not control. She heard other divers yelling in her head, but she didn't care. She thought only of finding that underwater beast and tearing it apart scale by scale; anything to save Mulder.
And suddenly, the monster in question emerged from the cave into which it had first disappeared, reptilian eyes scanning the bay for more prey. It coasted smoothly along the ocean floor until it started back up towards Scully and the other divers.
"WE'VE LOST TWO MEN!!" One of the divers yelled. "WE NEED TO EVACUATE THE WATER NOW!"
Scully heard the words, but didn't want to obey them. As far as she was concerned, they had only lost one man, and the other still needed her help. She would have continued to swim towards the Malikudda had not two divers grabbed her arms and begin to tug her towards the surface.
"Come on, Agent Scully, we need to get back topside! We don't have any time to waste!"
"NO! I NEED TO FIND MULDER!!!"
But despite her loud protests, the other divers still pushed her towards the surface of the water, desperate to escape the hungry sea monster that was right on their tails. Scully kicked and yelled furiously, yet there was a poison of hopelessness in her veins.
Finally, the remaining 9 people were back on the surface, and heading for the 'Angel Gabriel' as fast as their limbs could carry them. Scully's outer fury had been reduced to a saddened whimpering, but the rage remained inside her in full force, ready to explode outwards the moment she found something or someone to release it upon.
The first diver to reach the ship began shouting at the captain to get them to shore as soon as everyone was aboard. The other divers clambered onto the deck, all of the experienced men suddenly becoming very afraid of the water. Scully was pushed and shoved onto the deck from those below also wanting to escape the Malikudda's hunger.
Scully hit the deck on her back, and sprang back up as soon as she was down. She ripped the mouthpiece out of her mouth in order to yell better..."MULDER! WE HAVE TO GO BACK AND FIND MULDER!!"
"AGENT SCULLY, AGENT MULDER IS DEAD! WE HAVE TO GO BACK NOW OR THAT THING'LL WRECK THE BOAT!" One of the divers yelled back, shaking Scully's shoulders to get her out of her trance.
Scully refused to believe it. The rage in her skull had not only blocked out her logical self, but also all other outside influences. "NO, HE'S NOT DEAD! WE GOTTA GO BACK AND FIND HIM..."
Too late. All of the other divers were already on board, and 'Angel Gabriel' was starting back to the safety of the shores of Tutuila. The other divers began to strip off their protective swimwear so that they could shout exclamations at each other, shouts of relief, shock, terror and sadness. Scully just stumbled to the rail, her limbs failing from exhaustion, salty tears springing to her eyes. The clear blue Pacific was now silent and empty, with no trace of the Malikudda...or Mulder.
It had all happened so fast that Scully couldn't comprehend it. The Malikudda had appeared out of nowhere and had taken everyone by surprise, including herself. There was absolutely no denying the Malikudda's existence now...not when she had felt its scaly tail separate her from Mulder's grip, had watched it snatch Mulder out of the water and drag him into its lair. And now all Scully felt was an empty ache in her bones, an extreme exhaustion and a burning desire for revenge. She gripped the boat rail with chalk-white fingers, visibly using effort to keep herself from screaming aloud. I'll find him. She vowed to herself. I'll find him if I have to drain the entire Pacific Ocean! And when I do, I'm gonna kill that monster once and for all, so that it never comes back!
The 'Angel Gabriel' arrived back at the dock in a poor state, even though it had only been gone a little more than an hour and a half. The divers on board had lost one of their team, as well as the FBI agent that had hired them. And as for his partner...still dressed in her wetsuit, she paced the deck like a caged animal, eager to get to shore so that she could get her own boat and head right back out on the water.
When the boat finally came to rest on the dock, Scully noticed something, something that simply made her rage flare even more...Conrad Johanneson was standing on the dock with a large scowl on his face. Around him were other dockworkers busy putting chains over docks, yellow-taping entrances, and just basically roping up the entire harbor.
The moment the gangplank was lowered, Scully was off the boat and on the dock, marching towards Johanneson with a fire burning in her eyes. The harbor manager stood his ground, not giving Scully any regard.
"What's going on?! What're you doing here?" Scully demanded into his face. She was a strange picture of a woman, dressed in a shiny black wetsuit and with wet red hair plastered to her neck and skull, and spreading vibes of fury in all directions.
"We're closing off Pago Pago Bay for three days," He replied calmly. "All shipping schedules are being put to a halt."
"WHAT?!!" Scully clenched her fists, having the mentally restrain herself from strangling the man before her. "What do you MEAN, you're shutting down the bay?! You can't do that, I need to get a boat!!"
"No boats are arriving or leaving this port for three days," Johanneson said back tonelessly. "For any reasons whatsoever."
"No, I won't accept that!" Scully yelled. "I need to go back and find Mulder..."
"He and another diver were lost." Johanneson said in a voice that wasn't a question.
Scully just nodded slowly.
"It is well, then," Johanneson closed his eyes. "Tangaroa had received his eight souls for appeasement. Now the sea must be silent for three days to fulfil the prophecy."
"Look, what IS all this CRAP about Tangaroa?!?!!" Scully yelled back. "That thing is NOT some ancient god-monster! It's..." Scully stopped as she saw Johanneson staring at her stiffly. "Mulder was right about you!" She said in a hissing voice. "You do believe in all that stuff about Tangaroa! You've been wanting people to be out on the bay so that they can be sacrifices! You DON'T GIVE CRAP ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO ANYBODY, JUST SO LONG AS YOUR LITTLE PROPHESIES AND RITUALS ARE FULFILLED!"
"You will keep quiet, now!" Johanneson hissed back. "You have no comprehension of the powers of Tangaroa! I am in charge of this harbor, and I say that there should be no boats in this bay! Anyone who does not observe this rule will be subject to severe punishment!"
"DAMN YOU AND YOUR STUPID RULES! YOU WANTED MULDER TO GET EATEN BY THAT THING AND YOU ARRANGED IT SO THAT IT WOULD HAPPEN, YOU DAMN SONOFA--"
Scully's last word was turned into a cry of rage as she launched herself at Johanneson, her fist flying into his face. Johanneson was knocked back by the amazing blow, and stumbled back up again with blood on his nose. He swore at Scully and retaliated, but missed. Scully landed him another blow in the chest, but then he caught her wrist and held her back...
Finally, the other divers separated the two. Scully stood, glaring furiously at Johanneson through wet hair and rubbing her hurt wrist. A sound like a growl emitted from her throat.
"You all, get your boat out of here," Johanneson commanded to the diving team. "This expedition is over."
Not while Mulder is still out there... Scully thought to herself, storming back to the boat.
Mulder awoke slowly, willing himself to return to consciousness, but not opening his eyes. He hoped, hoped for all he was worth, that when he opened his eyes he would discover that it had all been a nightmare. He would be back in his plush bed at their comfortable, expensive hotel room...(with room service...) and then he would know better than to arrange that fateful mission.
But when he finally forced his eyes open, he saw that it was still pitch black. He could feel his cheek pressed against warm, wet stone. The stench still filled his nostrils...the scent of rotting flesh. For a moment, Mulder felt the urge to vomit again, but he forced it back down. He fumbled around in the dark for his flashlight; his one weapon against the darkness. He touched it, and flipped it on.
The bright beam hit the water first. Still regaining his strength, Mulder stumbled to a kneeling position, and cast his flashlight all around the cave. The cave was actually very large...the ceiling wasn't very high, but the cave was long and had lots of space in the water. Plenty of room for the Malikudda to turn around in.
He changed the beam to the embankment that he was kneeling on. It was little more than a ridge in the cave, a flat platform that offered him shelter from the warm water. The edge of the embankment was still covered with the bloated and rotting corpses. As Mulder kept the flashlight on them, he suddenly recognized some of them...one was the diver who had been taken first. Another was Agent Ritter.
Mulder switched off the flashlight, and sat down to think.
I must be really far underwater...and this air pocket is the only thing that saved me from drowning. The air pocket is also trapping everything else inside...the heat, the smell, and me.
But why is the Malikudda gathering bodies and leaving them here? I somehow doubt that it was doing that the first time... There must be some reason why it wants bodies here!
Suddenly, a horrible thought sprang to Mulder's mind. Scully doesn't know about the air pocket in this cave...she doesn't know I'm alive! She probably saw my air tank shoot out of the cave and I thought I had been killed...
He had to get out of this cave. He had to let Scully know that he was alright...there was no telling what she was thinking or doing. Not to mention the fact that he didn't have any food or drinkable water, and his air supply was limited. Wouldn't it be just ironic if I escaped the Malikudda only to die of thirst in the cave it was bringing me to...
Mulder shook the disturbing thought out of his head and reached for his flashlight. He tried to estimate the length from the air pocket cave to the tunnel entrance. He thought that he could make it in one breath...but then he remembered that he still had to go from the ocean floor to the surface. And he had no idea how long that was. There's no way I can hold my breath that long... Mulder thought despairingly.
Mulder slouched down on the embankment, letting his fins trail in the still, dark water. There's no way out of this...I'll drown trying to reach the surface. No one knows I'm here, so I can't wait for anyone to come and rescue me. There's nothing to do...
The hopelessness was beginning to cloud Mulder's mind, but he still clung to the little hope left in him. Maybe it's not as far to the surface as I think...maybe I can still reach it.
He would have to practice holding his breath for a little bit; get his lungs ready for his dangerous stunt. Keeping his flashlight in his grip, he sucked air into his lungs and dropped into the water.
The seawater was extraordinarily warm; he felt like he was in a giant spa. With his face mask on he could still see underwater. Mulder switched on the flashlight and began to scan the cave bottom, just so he could occupy himself with something other than his aching lungs.
But then, he actually saw something...instead of the rocky or sandy cave bottom, he saw what looked like...smooth, round objects. They littered the entire cave bottom, and were a slate gray speckled green color. Mulder swept his flashlight back and forth, wondering what these strange things were. Always the tactile one, Mulder reached his hand out and touched one of the round objects. It was smooth, somewhat textured, and only slightly soft...
Mulder could not hold his breath any longer, and he headed back to the surface. He sucked in air thankfully, but wished that the smell wasn't present. He shook salt water from his hair and climbed back onto the embankment.
When it suddenly hit him.
He was certain of it. It all made perfect sense now; it answered all the questions he and Scully had had ever since they had started the case. Those are the Malikudda's eggs. He thought with horror. That's why it came to the Samoa Islands...it was looking for a place with warm water, as well as one with a good food source. The Samoa Islands must have just been the first place it found. And then it went to this cave because it was a good place to lay the eggs; the trapped heat would incubate them. And then the bodies on the ledge...they're to feed the babies as soon as they hatch.
The idea fascinated Mulder. He knew that the philosophy with most reptiles and their eggs was to lay 'em and leave 'em. But the Malikudda was displaying almost mammal-like characteristics here, laying its eggs in a safe spot and then gathering food to feed them. It's so interesting...
Reality smacked Mulder upside the head and made him stop. If the Malikudda is gathering bodies, it means the eggs are going to hatch soon! And I do not want to be here when they do hatch!
Mulder knew that he had to get out of here now, before he became Malikudda baby food. Making sure his mask was fit tightly and with his flashlight in hand, he drew in a huge breath and dove smoothly into the water.
Don't think about your breath. Don't think about your breath. Mulder told himself over and over as he swam forward through the black tunnel, keeping his flashlight ahead of him. He propelled himself through the water like a torpedo, hoping that it wasn't too far to the surface and that his breath would hold out...
...When he suddenly reached a dead end.
Mulder stopped before a solid stone wall, his heart thumping loudly with fear. This was a dead end! Where was the entrance that the Malikudda had first brought him through? Could the tunnel have branched off, and he had taken a wrong turn? No, his flashlight had confirmed that there was only one tunnel. Something that had not been there before was now blocking his only exit. The only thing it could be was an enormous boulder.
Needing air, and seeing that there was no way that he could move this rock, Mulder turned around and went back through the black tunnel to his air pocket sanctuary. He barely made it back in time, and choked on salt water as he broke the water surface. Mulder quickly climbed back onto the embankment, his entire body falling apart as he finally admitted that it was hopeless. His only way out was firmly blocked. The only thing that could possibly move that rock is the Malikudda itself, and I can't get out if the monster's in my way.
Mulder felt extremely tired, and he laid down on the cold stone, inwardly feeling that he was laying down to rest beside the other corpses. His head hurt, his throat was dry and his nose burned. Why did the Malikudda have to put that stone there...
Of course, it's obvious. It's to keep predators from coming in and getting the Malikudda's eggs.
The thought made Mulder laugh. The Malikudda was the predator...there was no creature on earth that would try to take its eggs.
At least, here it's the top predator, Mulder thought, letting his imagination carry him away from his doom. This creature comes from a different dimension. What if, where it comes from, the Malikudda is not the top predator? What if there are even bigger creatures that eat it, that it has to guard against? After all, there's always a bigger fish...
The idea made him wonder...what if, when the dimension door in Malibu had been opened, the real top predator had come through? What sort of havoc could it reek upon this lowly dimension?
However, his imagination soon drifted away, and he was left staring cold reality in the face.
There's no way out. I'm going to die in this monster's nest. Mulder's body felt weak. He curled up onto the stone, feeling another wave of exhaustion sweep over him. He closed his eyes against the constricting darkness, letting the lapping of water against stone lull him to sleep...
The lapping of water against stone echoed somewhere outside Scully's ears as she sat, her head in her arms, facing the sea. She was sitting on the pearl-white beach with the vast ocean before her, and with the moon reflecting on the water like a brilliant silver globe. The silhouettes of palm trees and a sky of black velvet and stars completed the tranquil scene.
But inside, Scully was anything but tranquil. It had been nearly 36 hours since she had returned from their disastrous undersea dive, and she had not gotten a wink of sleep since. Her entire last night had been spent talking to the diver team, trying to convince them to come and help her look for Mulder. Every single one had flat-out refused, and some had even threatened to bring complaints against the FBI for their losses. Then she had spent the entire day confronting Conrad Johanneson, and trying to convince him to lend her a boat. But all she got back from him were refusals and talk of how Tangaroa must be appeased.
As time wore on, Scully's rage had been broken down piece by piece until all that was left was a foundation of delusion. The logic was beginning to work its way back into her brain; the knowledge that there was no way Mulder could be alive now.
Scully held a sob tightly inside her throat as she stared out at the silent sea. She half-expected to see Mulder come walking out of the waves, perfectly alright, and smile at her in that way she loved, and pull a sarcastic remark out of his bottomless supply of dry humor. But the Pacific remained silent.
"Pssst...hey! Agent Scully!"
Scully twisted her head at her name. She heard a rustling in the fern bushes close to her, and she suddenly wished that she had her gun.
"Agent Scully!" A familiar female teen appeared from the bushes. "It's me, Rachel Williams!"
Scully relaxed somewhat. "Oh, it is. What're you doing here, Rachel? Aren't you supposed to be with your senior class?"
Rachel stepped out of the ferns and approached Scully, her face containing sorrow. "I hard about what happened yesterday, how you and Agent Mulder and some other people went looking for the Malikudda and Agent Mulder got taken..." She trailed off as she saw Scully's expression harden.
"So, what're you doing here?" Scully asked, harsher than she should have.
Rachel's voice became secretive. "I also heard about how Mr. Johanneson wouldn't let you go out and look for him. So me and all my friends decided that we're going to help you."
Scully was clearly surprised. "What do you mean, help me?"
"We've got stuff with us that we can use. Diving suits, weapons, explosives..." She paused. "A boat."
"Where on earth did you get all these things?!"
"The diving suits we already had, but we have snorkels, not oxygen tanks. The explosives are fireworks that Adam bought here; he was planning to shoot them off in front of 'The Walrus's hotel room. The weapons...I'll admit, we did steal those from the diving center. We got half a dozen shockbars and some spearguns...I dunno, maybe we can shoot it in the eye or something. And the boat's real small, I'm afraid; it's just a little speedboat we rented awhile ago."
Scully was amazed at how quickly the tide was turning in her favor. "How did you convince all of your friends to do this? You know how dangerous that thing is."
Rachel grinned. "That's for me to know and them to find out. Teens can't resist surprises." She started back towards the fern bushes and motioned for Scully to follow her. "Come on! We've already got everything ready!"
Scully's heartbeat quickened as she trailed Rachel back into the ferns. She was only half-listening as Rachel went on about how she had spent hours trying to find her, and how they would have to launch the boat from the beach since all the docks were closed. Scully was thinking mostly about Mulder, and where he was, not to mention whether or not he was still alive.
Before she even realized it, she and Rachel had arrived in a cove hidden by palm trees and tropical flowers. A large group of teens was gathered on the beach, loading up a small speedboat and talking. Some were already dressed in wetsuits and fins. When Scully and Rachel came forth, they all stopped talking.
"I found her, guys!" Rachel said excitedly. "Now we can go out and get that thing!"
"YAAH!" One tall boy let out a whoop.
"Agent Scully, these are my friends," Rachel turned and introduced her group one by one. "This is Hallie, Liz, Pru, Adam, Mel, Juggler, Irina and Jennifer," She said, not bothering to distinguish real names from nicknames.
"Nice to meet you all," Scully nodded. "I can't tell you all how grateful I am that you're helping me do this..."
"Hey, it's not every day you get to go hunt sea monsters in Pago Pago!" Adam said, climbing aboard the speedboat. "Let's go!"
Scully agreed wholeheartedly. She helped to finish loading the boat, and then squeezed in beside the rest of the teenagers on the small speedboat. The teenager named Pru started up the engine, and the boat was pushed off the shore and into the silent ocean.
No one aboard the boat noticed the dockman hiding in the undergrowth quietly take out his cell phone and dial a number.
Scully was amazed with how helpful and alert Rachel and her friends were. They provided Scully with an extra suit, mask and fins, and were very concerned with what was going on...quite different from the cruel, indifferent teens she had encountered when she had been held hostage at the high school awhile ago. They were practically more help than the "experienced" diving team.
Pago Pago Bay was now completely silent, as there were absolutely no seacraft allowed out on the water. The fact that it was the middle of the night added to the stillness of the scene. Scully stared down into the black ocean, suddenly wondering if she had enough strength to go back into the water.
"I'm afraid we don't have any high-tech equipment or whatever to find the Malikudda," Rachel said, breaking Scully's reverie. "We'll just have to go down and look for it with flashlights. And when we find it well...we'll just have to deal with it when we find it."
Scully grinned weakly at Rachel as she put on her fins. "I just can't believe that you put all of this together so quickly," She sighed. "Especially with how dangerous this is."
Rachel's expression became hard. "I lost two of my friends to this monster," She said sternly. "And now I'm going to fight back."
Scully nodded. She saw that Rachel, Adam, Hallie, Liz and Juggler were all dressed in scuba gear, while the rest of the teenagers were staying on the speedboat. After looking the teens over, she looked back out to the sea. "Is this the same spot where you last were, Agent Scully?" She heard Rachel ask.
Scully scanned the horizon, making sure that the scenery she had seen two days ago was the same that she saw now. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the place. I recognize that rock formation back on the coast." She turned back to the group. "So does everybody here have a weapon of some sort?"
"I've got fireworks!" Adam said, holding up his armfuls of long, colorful sticks. "Each one's battery-powered with a timer, so they should go off underwater, although they aren't exciting 'cause there aren't many colors."
"Everyone else has shockbars, and Hallie and Liz have spearguns." Rachel quickly added, "And flashlights, of course."
"Alright..." Scully said, fitting her mask over her eyes, her voice shaky. "I guess it's now or never."
With that last thought, Scully threw herself off of the boat and into the ocean.
She hit the water easily, and instantly began to swim downwards. Don't let your fear take control of you. But that thought wasn't helping. Think about finding Mulder.
The ocean was now sleeping...without the tropical sun to bring the sea flowers out, there were no colorful ocean plants to see, and no fish to accompany them. All there was to observe was a watery night, with sand and rocks and grass as far as the eye could see. Scully saw some of the teens swimming behind her; she could no longer distinguish them individually. It was very different swimming with a snorkel instead of an air tank...although she had unlimited air time, she still had to remain relatively close to the surface so that she could breath. That's going to prevent us from going down too deep... She thought worriedly.
The first thing that came to Scully's mind was the cave that the Malikudda had taken Mulder into. If she could find the cave, she could take a deep breath and see if it was actually a tunnel that had another exit. He couldn't have survived that... Her logical self was beginning to gain power again. It's too late to turn back now, She told herself stubbornly. Not after all they've done for me.
"Hey, Pru...you see what I see?" Irina pointed out towards the bay.
"Yeah..." Pru's expression dropped to a frown. "And I don't think this is going to turn out good."
Irina, Pru, Mel and Jennifer watched and waited as a large, fast, white boat sped over the surface towards them, with the words 'PAGO PAGO COAST GUARD' painted on the side.
"I think we're in trouble."
It was here.
Scully felt her entire body transform into a tangle of steel fibers as she saw the great creature coast the bay floor, webbed claws pushing its scaly body through the dark water. Scully was trembling all over...she had developed a desperate fear of the Malikudda, and seeing it now put her fear into physical being. She could hear the other teenagers beginning to gather around her.
Scully watched with terrified fascination as the Malikudda began to move around strangely on the ocean floor, twisting and turning its head and creating a cloud of dust. It looked like it was trying to scratch an itch on its nose. Scully could hear rocks grinding and moving as the Malikudda twisted. What is it doing?!
And suddenly, the Malikudda pulled away from the ocean floor and began to swim upwards...revealing the ocean floor, and the empty hole that was the cave!
But Scully wasn't thinking about the cave...she was thinking only about how they were going to get away from the Malikudda, which was heading straight for them!
Mulder awoke again to a harsh sound, as if he was inside a giant's mouth that was grinding its teeth together. He put his hands over his ears, wishing that his silent sleep had not been interrupted...
When he suddenly sprang up, realizing what was happening.
"What the hell do you kids think you're doing?!" The voice of Conrad Johanneson boomed out across the empty bay, his face scrunched up with a mixture of fury and fear.
Pru, Irina, Mel and Jennifer didn't answer. They just stood, staring dumbstruck at the enraged harbor manager, wondering who was going to punish them more...The Walrus or this crazy guy.
The Coast Guard boat, which was pulled up alongside the much smaller speedboat, bumped menacingly as Johanneson left his craft and boarded the teens' vessel. He looked just about ready to strangle every single one of them. "I want you to take this boat and go straight back to shore," He barked. "I'll deal with you all back on the island!"
"W-w-we c-can't, sir," Jennifer stammered. "There's people scuba-diving down there. We can't leave without them."
Johanneson's face turned an incredible red color. "Is this the work of that FBI AGENT?!!"
"Look sir, this was our idea!" Mel was the only one brave enough to retaliate. "We wanted to help Agent Scully! And I don't know what this stupid rule with no boats is about, but we're doing something to help someone who needs it and we don't feel that you have a right to keep us from doing that!"
The purple color that soon covered Johanneson's face was even more incredible than the red color. "I am not going to stand here and be insulted by a bunch of kids when there is a prophesy that must be fulfilled!" He pointed to the coast guard boat. "Every single one of you, onto the boat! I don't care who's under the water...I'll deal with them as well!"
Johanneson's rant was suddenly interrupted by a deep sound from beneath the water, and a flash of something blue and black broke the surface and threw spray in all directions.
The group was scattered like a school of fish as the Malikudda charged through, sending bubbles and bodies in all directions. Scully regained her composure like cat, grabbing up her shockbar and switching it on. The Malikudda was using the same trick as last time...dividing the group and then picking off one or two people. But it's not going to get away this time! Scully thought with determination. She propelled herself through the dark water and tried to follow the Malikudda, but it just went around and dived deep, intending to come back up for another strike. Scully followed the monster as it circled towards the floor.
When something else caught her eye.
Scully felt her heart stop dead in her chest, and something like an electric shock travel through her every nerve. She kept telling herself that her eyes were deceiving her, that this could not be happening.
But it was. A struggling figure was slowly making its way up from the ocean floor, kicking and paddling as fast as it could.
Scully didn't know how she got back to reality, but she did, and she snapped into action. She swam through the darkness for all she was worth, her entire focus centered only on Mulder. As she got closer, she could see that she was not making a mistake...it really was Mulder. She could also see that he was beginning to slow down, his strokes were becoming weaker and weaker, and a column of bubbles escaped from his lips.
Scully reached him just as he stopped swimming, and just hung suspended in the water, motionless. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kicked upwards, feeling an amazing strength course through her body. She wished that she had an air tank so that she could give Mulder a breath of oxygen, but she was holding her breath herself. She didn't know where the Malikudda was and she didn't care. The only thought that existed in her brain was that Mulder was alive, and that she needed to get him to the surface!
She saw something flash below her; a brief movement that startled her, but didn't stop her. She kicked for the surface, her legs moving like pistons; the dark water preventing her from knowing exactly how far away she was...
Scully burst through the water with a limp Mulder in her arms, coughing and choking on seawater. Her vision was blurred by salt, but she could just barely see the lights of the boat ahead of her. She tried to yell, but the salt in her throat and the shock at finding Mulder prevented her from making a sound.
She paddled for all she was worth, hauling Mulder with her, crying out for someone on board to lower a ladder and help her get Mulder on board. But she heard no reply, save for the rushing of water in her ears. When she reached the speedboat she decided not to wait for any help, and she pulled Mulder onto the deck with her own two arms.
"M-Mulder!" His name came out salty and full of amazement on Scully's lips. He was still in the outfit he had worn diving two days ago, except for his air tank. He didn't have a scratch on him, and -aside from the fact that he stank like nothing she had ever smelled before- he looked perfectly fine. Scully checked his pulse...it was strong. However, he still wasn't breathing. Keeping her boiling emotions deep inside her, Scully allowed a mechanical, medical version of herself to take over, and she began to administer CPR.
Almost immediately, Mulder began to heave, and he violently coughed up a lungful of seawater. "Mulder?..." Scully said, almost apprehensively.
Scully twisted around, startled by the loud voice. She instantly saw what she had failed to notice before...a larger boat, pulled up against the teens' speedboat. On board were the four teens that had been left topside...as well as Conrad Johanneson.
"Agent Mulder is here," Scully managed to croak out, grinding her teeth.
"I don't care who is here," Johanneson growled back. "You and all your little friends must leave the bay immediately! I am going to take steps to press charges against the FBI, so I suggest you come with me now to avoid any more problems."
"I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!" Scully yelled back, clutching Mulder's head to her chest.
Johanneson had had quite enough of this. He marched to the head of the coast guard boat and flung his fists to the sky. "YOU WILL PAY FOR THESE CRIMES AGAINST TANGAROA!! HIS MESSENGER SHALL DESTROY YOUR BODY AND CARRY YOUR SOUL TO HIS MASTER'S SANCTUARY! THERE IS NO ESCAPE FOR YOU...FOR NO MORTAL ON THIS EARTH CAN STAND AGAINST THE WRATH OF TA---"
Johanneson's rage-filled speech was snapped short by a resounding boom beneath the surface, and a sudden explosion of water beneath the coast guard boat. Scully felt her speedboat rock violently as she watched the other boat suffer a much worse fate...it was tipped over completely.
Scully watched in shock as all those aboard the coast guard boat surfaced immediately, swearing and splashing and trying to figure out what had just happened. The four teens instantly began to swim for the safety of their speedboat, well aware of what was still lurking in the water. Knowing that Mulder could breathe, she went to the edge of the boat to help them up.
The coast guard boat began to sink into the bay, like a toy boat that had just been struck down by a child. And then it appeared...the familiar shark-like fin gliding through the water. But the shark fin was a deception; giving false hopes when in reality the creature below was far more deadly than any shark. And the fin was headed straight in Johanneson's direction.
Scully opened her mouth to shout, but her warning came too late. Johanneson disappeared beneath the surface with a scream as the fin charged towards him. Scully turned her face away as the black tide was painted a blood red.
The teens still underneath saw the attack from below. The Malikudda grabbed Johanneson right off the surface and bit down hard, causing the attack to become hidden behind a cloud of blood. None of the other teens dared to make a sound, they just looked on from a distance.
Once satisfied that its prey was completely dead, the Malikudda turned and dived back towards the cave in the ocean floor, intent on adding its newest victim to its collection of corpses for its offspring. Every person underwater was watching as the Malikudda slipped easily into its nest.
And Adam suddenly got an idea.
Taking a long, deep breath, the tall teenager dived towards the cave, clutching his fireworks.
Rachel and Hallie instantly realized what he was up to. They dived down to help him. Understanding what they wanted, Adam handed them each a bundle of fireworks.
Knowing that they had to work fast, the three teens began to stick fireworks into the cracks and rocks surrounding the cave, making sure that they were spaced evenly. They worked quickly and efficiently, moving around the entire cave entrance until they were certain everything was covered. Then, Rachel and Hallie swam backwards as Adam went around and flipped a small switch on each bundle of fireworks.
Scully helped Mulder into a sitting position slowly. He was still coughing up water, but he appeared to be alright considering all he had just been through. Scully appeared to be in more shock than Mulder was; shocked at finding him alive and in one piece. At first she was afraid to speak, afraid that if she made one wrong move that he would disappear completely. But then she managed to whisper his name..."Mulder?..."
"S-Scully..." Mulder coughed, grabbing at her shoulder with chalk-white fingers. "I-m-m ok-k-kay..."
It was all Scully needed to hear. She threw her arms around him and buried her face in his neck, not bothering to hold back tears. Mulder held her back, closing his eyes as he felt his entire body wash over with a wave of thankfulness and exhaustion. Scully just cried into his neck; all outside influences were nonexistent to her. She didn't know how long they stayed in that position, it seemed to last forever and not long enough all at once. When she finally did pull away, she just sat and stared into his eyes, content at feeling his hands on her shoulders and his forehead on hers.
Scully's mind was filled with questions. "Mulder...h-how did you..."
"There was a cave..." Mulder said between gasps for breath. "And an embankment...there was an air pocket....."
"Oh, Mulder..." Scully buried her face in his neck again. She couldn't believe that they had been so lucky, that Mulder had been blessed enough to find an air pocket in the vast ocean.
Mulder continued to talk, loving the feeling of Scully's breath beating against his neck. "It was a nest, Scully...there were eggs in the cave. The Malikudda was collecting bodies there, to feed the babies when they hatched... That's why it's been attacking boats just in this area, because it needs to take its food to the cave..."
"Oh, shut up, Mulder," Scully said, and she kissed him.
The kiss came completely unexpected, and shocked Mulder into full awareness. It was there and then gone as Scully suddenly became aware of herself. She stared at him with a surprised look, a whirlwind of mixed emotions hidden behind her eyes.
"What was that?" Mulder asked slowly, as if afraid to move his lips again.
Scully's face broke into a smile. "Mulder, I have just found you after you've been trapped in a sea monster's nest for the past two days, and the entire time I thought you had been devoured alive. Doesn't that permit a kiss?"
Mulder was silent for a moment, then he smiled ear-to-ear. "I guess so."
Everyone on board the speedboat looked up in surprise as the bay suddenly erupted in a display of booms and colors. Flashes of light and bubbles and deep rumbles from far beneath the surface appeared all in the same spot. It was like watching an underwater light show. Just as the booming was finished and everyone was wondering what had happened, Rachel, Adam, Hallie, Juggler and Liz came up to the surface.
"Well, you won't have to worry about that Malikudda anymore!" Adam cried.
"What do you mean?"
"The monster went into this underwater cave," Rachel explained what Mulder already knew. "It had somebody in its mouth, but I don't know who. Adam, Hallie and I stuck fireworks around the cave entrance, and we set them off. All that sound and explosives caused the entrance to cave in on itself, so now the cave is sealed off!"
"Are you sure?!" Scully asked, amazed.
"We went down and checked it...it looks pretty tight to me," Hallie said. "It would take a lot to reopen the entrance. And just to make sure, we can have people seal it off with something stronger later on."
Mulder and Scully exchanged looks of surprise and relief. It took a moment for them to overcome the strange feeling, but then they awoke again as they heard the last of Johanneson's coast guard boat disappear beneath the waves. By that time, several other boats both private and public had started out to see what all the commotion was about. Mulder and Scully helped the rest of the teens back onto the speedboat.
As everyone was on board, Scully helped Mulder to his feet. He was still slightly shaken, but quickly regaining his strength.
"Come on..." He said tiredly. "I'd like to be far away from the water right now."
Scully looked up from her magazine for what seemed like the tenth time in the last five minutes. She kept getting distracted by Mulder's endless staring out the window. Mulder himself seemed distracted as well. Scully tried to grab his attention. "Hey, Mulder...I thought you said you didn't want to see seawater for at least five years, and now you won't stop staring at it."
Mulder sighed, and relaxed into his airplane seat as best as he could. "I was just...wondering what it was doing."
Scully felt herself groan inside. "What? You're not talking about the Malikudda, are you?"
"It's different from the first time..." Mulder said. "It wasn't just trying to gorge itself on as many people as possible...it was trying to feed its children. Something you or I or any other creature on this planet would consider very important."
"We call this thing a monster, Scully. Why? Because it's bigger than we are, because it has sharp teeth, because it eats us? What does that make us to cows, chickens and pigs? It makes us monsters as well."
"Mulder, tell me you're not deciding to become a vegetarian."
Mulder grinned and shook his head. "Nah...I like steak too much. It just...is kind of humbling to not be on top of the food chain."
"It may not be humbling, but at least I feel safe being the top chain link," Scully replied. "That thing is gone, Mulder, and so are its offspring. Without food and constant water circulation, all of those things will eventually die."
Mulder was silent for a minute. "You know, they're still holding us responsible for Johanneson's death."
Scully frowned. "How so? We didn't do anything..."
"Because we broke his rule of no boats out on the bay and brought him out onto the water, therefore contributing to his death."
Scully didn't bother to hold back her groan. "That man...was responsible for his own death entirely. He could have prevented all this if he had just helped us instead of getting in our way..."
"His beliefs wouldn't let him. He was so convinced that the Malikudda was some messenger from a god that he thought he needed to sacrifice others' lives to save his own."
"And he just ended up sacrificing himself," Scully concluded.
There was a long silence. Mulder went back to staring out the window at the ocean. Scully thought about going back to the magazine, but then she put it away. Then, a small smile spread across Mulder's face. "You know, Scully, it seems to me like this is the first case where you wholeheartedly agreed with me on what was going on. I mean, I was certain that the Malikudda existed, and so were you."
"Well..." Scully's reply was slow. "It's kind of hard to deny something when it's staring you straight in the face."
"Yeah..." Mulder said, his thoughts miles away. "I guess it is."