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My pulse raced as I ran down the emergency stairways to the ballroom. I stopped short, eased my breathing, and quietly opened the door.

"Dear God." The dancing and dinning area was dark and silent. Gambling tables, eating tables, chairs, pictures, money, broken fountains, some shoes, torn pieces of clothes, purses, overturned plants, and plaster from the walls lay strewn in wreckage. Thousands upon thousands of little glass shards sparkled the floor like diamonds, and light fixtures hung from threads of cords high above me. In a room that was overflowing with vibrant beings only hours ago was a dreary display of destruction. I cautiously stepped out into the vacant ballroom. Along the floor in pools of crimson were trails of blood, thick and warm.

"Where is everyone?" I whispered. The ship groaned under my feet. I tensed then ducked under a nearby roulette table as gunshots erupted in the room. FUCK! Where the hell?! I peaked my head out from under the table, and realized with some embarrassment that no one was in the room. The shooting was taking place somewhere else. When the gunfire stopped, I could hear screams. They sounded above me.

"Damn it, pick a spot and stay there!" I hissed as I ran back to the saris. True, I wasnít too keen on finding the owners of the guns, but it did mean that someone was alive. But who could get on the ship with machine guns? I slowly walked out onto the 5th floor corridor. Click. Shit.

"Well, well, a live one. Hanover!" I tried to move my head to see my guest, but it caused the cold metal of a gun barrel to press into my temple. I heard footsteps behind me. A lot of them. "Look, another passenger. Not as pretty as lady passenger who ran off earlier, though." My eyes widened.

"What lady passenge-"

"Iíll ask the questions here!" Someone walked in front of me. He was an older Asian man, dark skinned with short spiky black hair. I couldnít believe it. He was covered with weaponry: guns, knives, and grenades.

"Mr. Hanover, we canít stay out here in the open, those things are everywhere! I canít emphasize enough-"

"What things?" I cut in. I cautiously turned my head to see two more men on my right. One was tall, thin and white, the other was black and looked panicky. Both were young, but the black gentleman was certainly more built. Ok, so that's three bad people. I glanced to the left, where two other men were tagging along. One was a crewmember, most certainly. The other looked like a passenger and was dressed in a nice white dress suit. His eyes were wild behind his thin glasses, and by the expression in his eyes, he was scared shitless.

"First we find Mamooli, T. Ray, Finnegan and the Grease Monkey. Next we fix Finneganís boat." I turned to the guy in front of me as he spoke. Hanover, I believe they called him. Presumably the leader. He looked me over and stared questioningly. "Service elevator?"

"Down that hall," someone answered. Hanover nodded and began walking.

"Letís go. You," he looked back at me, "stick with us." The black guy shoved me forward.

"Hey, watch it or Iíll kick your ass!"

"Iíd love to see you try, cowboy." The gun was trained on me as we reached the elevator. In a moment, the bell dinged and a voice said clearly "Doors opening." There was a cry and everyone dropped into a defense crouch as we came face to face with two more men with guns, and obviously not with Hanoverís group.

"Drop it!" Hanover yelled cautiously. Both men slowly dropped their guns. One was tall, scrawny, and had a shock of black hair that hung limply about his pale, thin face. The other was roughly handsome, I suppose, and was more built. All of us piled into the elevator, and for the first time I caught sight of a red dress.

"Son-" I stopped. It wasnít her. The young woman was tall and curvy, with thick brown hair placed in a delicate mess upon her head. She was dangerously beautiful.

"Whereís Mamooli?" the tall white guy with Hanover asked. I could detect an accent in his tone. Australian, I believe. "T. Ray?"

"They didnít make it."

"What the hell happened?" Hanover demanded.

"You killed them, you killed them didnít you?" the Australian whispered, angry and upset.

"I didnít kill anybody, thereís something on this ship!" the ruggish looking guy shouted back.

"Bullshit, Finnegan!" Hanover shouted back.

"Itís not bullshit, Mr. Hanover. Theyíre real, thereís things on this ship!" the man with the glasses cut in.

"You two know each other?" Finnegan questioned.

"You killed them. T. Ray was my-" The Aussie got up in Finneganís face, shouting wildly. "You killedíem, didnít you?! Didnít you?!" Suddenly he grunted and collapsed to the floor, holding himself.

"I heard you the first time," he hissed. The woman and I stood next to each other, just listening.

"Are you ok?" I asked softly. She looked at me suddenly, as if realizing for the first time I was there. I smiled.

"Yeah, justó" She waved her hands about and sighed. "Iím Trillian. You are?"

"Johnny Cage." She blinked a few times then scoffed.

"You canít be serious."

"What happened here?" Hanover asked suddenly.

"I donít know, how the hell do I know? The bloody ship is infested with them."

"Infested with what?" Trillian and others yelped as the elevator jumped and rattled wildly. Above us, something shrieked hideously, and my heart seized up while my stomach twisted in a knot. The lights flickered as the car shook like a rickety roller coaster. Some of us cried out. I just closed my eyes and endured. We went still. The shaking stopped. No one moved. With a cringing shrill, the elevator bounced again, only this time it was more erratic. In a moment, the car stopped again, and music popped on over the P. A.

"What the hell is that?" Finnegan whispered.

" ĎGirl from Eponima,í " the grease monkey and I answered in unison. Weird.

"Can we get out of here now?" All of us agreed immediately, and turned to open the doors. The buttons didnít work, and we could seem to pry the doors open. Without notice, there was a vicious growl, and the cables snapped. Screams echoed around us as we plunged faster to the bottom floor. The numbers sped by on the computer indicator, and with a thundering crash we hit bottom. The elevator doors exploded, and we tumbled out.

"This elevator is out of service." No shit. Slowly, I picked myself up from the floor, and gaped in horror.

"Oh, God!"

"Fuck me!"

"What the hell is this?!" All around the corridor lay muscle, organ, and skeletal remains. My stomach lurched when my memory flashed back to my fight with Scorpion; the memory of hundreds of dead warriors who lay scorched on the ground. But here, here it was much more bloody. I was vaguely aware of Hanover bickering with Finnegan, but they were quickly silenced by a new groaning noise at the end of the hall. The steel door was bending in under the pressure of something really big.

"Now what?" Finnegan asked.

Twenty minutes later, I was panting with the rest of the group as we raced into a storage room.

"What the fuck was that, man?!" the black guy yelled. Earlier, I had learned his name was Mason. "What kind of creature can bend metal so fucking easily?! Christ, I ainít never seen it!"

"Please, we have to get off this ship before they get us too!" Canton, the man with the glasses shouted into Hanoverís face.

"Canít we call for help?" the grease monkey spoke up. His actual name was Joey, and he was apparently good with mechanics.

"Yeah, yeah! These cruise ships have hundreds of ways to call for help!" Mason chimed in. I noticed that Canton seemed a bit discouraged at this information. There was a loud clang as Finnegan threw his gun on the table.

"Are you so sure about that?" he questioned. Everyone looked at him, confused. But his eyes remained on Hanover. "Hanover? Can we call for help? Or did your man on the inside fuck us over?" Canton shifted uncomfortably.

"That depends on how good a job he did," Hanover answered while he turned to the man sweating under his glasses. "Well?" Canton remained silent. Mason became agitated, and jumped up in the older manís face.

"Answer the man. Answer him!"

"The systems were melted at their cores, there was no other way to disrupt the shipís tracking system. There wonít be any calls for help." We stared in silence, and suddenly the Aussie went berserk.

"God fucking damn it!" He began banging his pulse rifle against a steel cabinet. "I donít fucking believe this! This canít be happening!"

"Mulligan, sit down and shut up!" Hanover commanded as he pulled a gun on his own partner. Mulligan glowered and stalked away.

"Donít go far, boy," I hollered after him, "You may not come back!" There was a click next to my ear, and I felt cold metal at my throat.

"Shut up, you. Youíre expendable," Mason growled in my ear.

"Yeah, just like the rest of us," I growled back. Swiftly, I seized his wrist and twisted his arm, making him flip onto his back. I kicked the switchblade out of his hand, and it flew across the room. Mason tried to sit up, but I pressed my heel into his ribcage, forcing him back to the floor.

"Back down, you!" Hanover was at my side, his gun aimed on me. "Back down now." Suddenly, there were two pairs of guns on him, as Finnegan and Joey came up to my defense. Mulligan moved up and trained his gun on Finnegan, but became wary as the lovely Trillian pulled a handgun on Mulligan. I looked about and whistled at the sudden threatening triangle we made.

"This could get messyÖ" The captain of the ship stood off in the shadows, when he suddenly began to gasp wildly. His hand shook as he pointed above us, and Canton began to step away in horror as he looked at the ceiling. Slowly, each of us looked up in turn, and all at once, hell broke loose. Something large and slimy curled down from the ceiling while a lump passed through in the middle. In a moment, the large tentacle like being split and a body fell out in a shower of slime, water, and blood. Trillian screamed as the body stood and turned toward us.

"Now what?" Finnegan muttered in shock.

"Fuck me," I whispered. Part of his face was missing, and his skin was peeling away from his body. He stepped toward us, screaming and gasping, before dropping in a heap of bones and tissue.

"My God, itís Billy!" Mulligan gasped.

"Jesus, no! NO!" Mason screamed as he pointed his rifle toward the creature growling above us. Bullets roared through the air as everyone opened fire. All about the room, blood splattered from the thing as it writhed and screeched in a maddening song of insanity. In a moment, it disappeared up into the eves, and we scattered like mice.

"Christ, these things are everywhere!"

"Oh my GOD!"


"How do you turn this damn thing on?!" Cries echoed through the steerage rooms while I ran frantically, trying to escape the slithering beasts. Gunshots ricocheted everywhere, and I crouched in fear of being hit. Suddenly, something hissed and there was a creeping arm in front of me.

"Shit!" I fell back in fear as massive jaws that opened from the spiked arm charged me and ran into a pipe of steam. The lead burst, and with a gush the steam screamed from the broken metal and burned a few layers of skin from the creature. Again it shrieked and dodged back into the collage of piping and electrical wires.

"What the hell are these things?!" I shouted as I jumped to my feet and chased after the shadows of my companions. Together we ran through the maze of ladders and stairwells until we reached a room filled part way with water. Below us was a set of steps, and I listened with much dismay as Mulligan concluded the only was to the upper levels was by getting on the other side of the water filled room. Which, in fact, wasnít very comforting. I looked at the frightened and exhausted faces around me, and I knew their emotions mirrored my own. But, I realized with a start, we were one short.

"Hey, whereís the captain?" Finnegan glanced at me.

"Didnít make it." I groaned.

"What are these things?" Trillian came up and patted my shoulder.

"You missed the lecture, eh? Basically, theyíre mutated sea creatures that donít eat, but drink you." My eyebrows shot up.


"Just donít get yourself caught." I groaned again. Some vacation. My heart suddenly dropped to my feet. Sonya.

"Who wants to go first?"

"I will." I looked up to Finnegan, who was putting a heavy knapsack on his back. Then, he dove into the water. Hanover followed, with Mulligan at the rear. Canton, Joey, Mason, Trillian, and I stayed behind. Joey was gasping.

"Can you just get asthma," he asked suddenly. "Or do you have to be born with it?" Trillian and I looked at him oddly, for he most certainly was an odd little boy.

"Man, I donít mean to sound like a pussy," Mason suddenly spoke, "But this shit is startin' to freak me out, man!" I nodded in agreement.

"I second that." Joey looked at me strangely.

"Hey, arenít you that actor guy? The one in all those cheesy karate flicks?" I barely restrained myself from hitting him.

"Yeah, I guess I am."

"What are you doing out here, boy?" Mason asked as he poked his gun at me. "Shouldnít you be home, screwing your latest chick escort for your latest gay ass film?" He poked me in the ribs again, and I spun to grab his gun, yank it from his hands, and aim it at him.

"Quit fucking with me. Iím in mood for your childish games." I tossed the gun back to him. "And to answer your question, Iím on vacation. Even actors like to take breaks."

"From what? I thought your stunt double did everything." Fuckiní bastard! I stepped up to him, ready to kick ass and take names, when there was a terrible screeching behind us. Down the hall where we had earlier run from, the floor was rippling in a very loud and frightening manner. A creature was moving toward us, and very quickly. Joey moved to the door, shut it, and locked it. The creature groaned and hissed as it barged into the metal door, and began pressing against it, forcing the door open.

"The power of these things is amazing!" Canton exclaimed.

"LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE!" Mason screamed before shooting wildly at the door. When his spasm ceased, so had the pressure on the hatch. All of us stood silently, tensed and barely breathing. The first one to speak was Trillian.

"Is it gone?" A thunderous crash followed, and we ducked to the side as the door flew off its hinges and into the water below us. Everyone opened fire. Trillian fell back in the water from the sheer force of her rifle, and Canton followed her. I stood in shock, unwilling to leave the two men who continued to brutally shoot the beast, but knowing that without a weapon of my own, I was left standing there stupidly. In a moment, the beast disappeared.

"Letís go!" I shouted, and dove into the water. It was ice cold and murky; the salt water stung my eyes, but I kept them open so I could see my way. All about were pipes and floating objects that I couldnít identify. My lungs were crushing inside me, and I was beginning to see spots. At the moment I felt my head was about to burst from the lack of air, something grabbed my collar and pulled me from the water. I gasped.

"Hey there, you ok?" I choked a bit as I answered.

"Never better." Trillian helped me out of the water as I stepped foot onto solid flooring. I coughed and rubbed the water from my eyes; Joey showed up a minute or two later.

"Whereís Mason?"

"It got him," Joey panted.

"No, not Mason!" Mulligan cried out as he hit a wall. ĎIt got him.í Joeyís words repeated over and over in my mind. Slowly, a fear inside me began to grow, to overcome my senses. Whatever these things were, they were taking over us, one by one. We were being killed off slowly, and there was a slim chance of surviving. ĎThis couldnít be the endÖ no. No way. I survived Mortal Kombat, I can survive this.í Then again, the tournament was about people fighting people, not people fighting things that crawl around in cramped places and crush you in weird spiky tentacle thingies before drinking you. I groaned. This just wasnít fucking fair! Down the hall, there was a loud bang. Everyone looked up swiftly, and I noticed that Mulligan and Hanover had drawn their guns on each other. They, too, looked toward the doorway where the pounding had come from.

"Now what?!" Finnegan asked, growing even more annoyed with each passing moment.

"Donít these things ever give up?" I hissed. Finnegan carefully walked over to the door, put his finger on his lip; behind him, Joey and Hanover stepped forward and trained their guns on whatever target they were about to face. His hand shaking, Finnegan turned the handleÖ