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"I have a really bad feeling about this," Trillian whispered. From the darkness there was a scream, and Finnegan was knocked to the ground. Trillian screamed next to me and I jumped with a start.

"Shit!" Joey was tackled by a red and gold flash, which suddenly cried out in surprise.

"What the hell is this?!" Hanover shouted in anger.

"Goddamn it, why do I always get hit in the face by aggressive women?!" Joey groaned from the floor. On top of him sat a blonde chick in a red dress, and my heart stopped.

"Sonya?!" Her head tilted swiftly, and she stared at me in shock.

"Johnny! You’re alive!" I don’t know why, but I suddenly burst out laughing. I jogged over to her to help her up from a dazed Joey.

"Where did you come from, lady?" Finnegan pulled Joey up and looked at Sonya. "And how did you survive this long?"

"Story time later, children. I want to get up top and get the fuck outta here," Hanover interrupted. Sonya suddenly tensed as she noticed Hanover for the first time. Her hand tightened around her gun as her eyes became slits.

"You," he questioned to Sonya. "Can we go back the way you came?" It took her a few moments to answer. Something was wrong, and Sonya looked ready to kill the man before her.

"I wouldn’t recommend it. I was chased by something big, loud, and ugly down there. I shot a couple rounds at it, and I blew some gas pipes that suddenly collapsed, so the passage is blocked anyway." I looked over Sonya as she spoke, taking in her unkempt appearance, torn dress, and semi-automatic in hand. Various wounds bled slightly, and bruises were forming on her arms and face.

"Very well. Canton?"

"Down this hatch, there’s a flight of stairs that’ll take us up to through the storage areas and to the crew’s quarters." Hanover nodded, and tilted his gun in the direction of the doorway.

"Lead the way." Each of us followed quietly, with Mulligan in the middle watching Finnegan and Joey, while Hanover took the rear to keep an eye on Sonya and I. My hand moved down to lightly clasp Sonya’s, and she squeezed it.

"You know that guy?" I asked as I tilted my head toward Hanover. She nodded.

"I’ll explain later. Are you all right?"

"Aside from the fact that my vacation has been ruined, my ego bruised, and the knowledge that we’re being hunted down by body fluid drinking sea monsters, I’m splendid. What happened to you?" She shrugged her shoulders.

"I remember being knocked out for a moment after the ship tilted, and then I heard screaming which woke me up. The room was dark, and I was confused. I looked out in the hallway to find passengers running in a panic. Some guy grabbed my hand and began pulling me toward the lifeboats."

"So you just left me in the room, covered under a bookcase? Thanks, I’m glad to know you cared," I cut in sarcastically. She slapped my shoulder. "Ow."

"I tried to pull away, but I was being pushed with the crowd. Then we were surrounded by these things and something knocked me head first against an elevator. I can remember seeing a lot of hazy colors because I was blacking out, and I pulled myself inside. I remember feeling very shaky, and things were blurring. Then I felt incredibly light, and there was this awful crash before I lost consciousness. When I came to next, I was down here, in the rigging of the ship, with a destroyed elevator behind me. I’ve pretty much been working my way around since then." I laughed softly.

"Yeah, the elevators here are rather dysfunctional." Sonya frowned at me, but I was unable to fill her in when a loud screech interrupted us. Ahead, pipes and sheets of metal fell from the ceiling, and our path was blocked.

"Damn," Finnegan whispered. Canton turned to the left to go down another way, when the door slammed shut and was locked from the other side. I couldn’t believe it. These things were actually locking us down here!

"Oh my God, what the hell is going on?" Joey screamed.

"I think they’re leading us somewhere." All of us turned and stared at Finnegan. Canton spoke up.

"He’s right. They’re leading us to the bow of the ship."

"You mean to tell me these things can think?!" Finnegan laid a reassuring hand on Joey’s shoulder.

"What’s at the bow of the ship?" Sonya whispered to me. I shrugged. Finnegan cocked his gun and began walking toward the only open hatch left. I heard Trillian say something to Canton who was leaning against the wall, but ignored it. After moments of walking in silence, we came to a door that lead into a large room. The cargo bay.

"Oh dear God." Sonya gasped next to me before turning away. Trillian did the same. The rest of us stared.

"What the hell is this?" Joey whispered. Below us, thousands of skeletons lay strewn in blood. The walls were painted with thick and large red splotches, and the floor was covered in muscle and tissue organs. My stomach churned as I looked at the various remains cast carelessly on boxes and supplies. So many dead… it just wasn’t fair.

"I think it’s a feeding ground," Finnegan answered. At the other side of the room, metal was groaning and there was a horrid scraping sound. "Oh, now what?"

"Oh, shit, they’re breaking through the hull!" Hanover yelled. A wall split and water raged into the room in an unforgiving current of icy salt sea.

"RUN!" Each of us didn’t have to hear it again, and we turned in a mad rush out the door. Finnegan shut it behind us, but it wouldn’t hold for long. Taking Sonya’s hand in my own, we ran frantically toward the intersection we had started at.

"Wait! If they blocked off all the other passages, which way are we gonna go?" Joey asked frantically. Good question.

"Hey, where’s Canton?" Hanover asked suddenly. We looked around, but he was gone.

"Wait, how the hell are we supposed to get around now?"

Hanover looked at Mulligan. "You still have the directional computer?"

"Yeah, uh, there an emergency staircase that could take us up to the deck. This way." Mulligan pointed to a nearly recognizable hatch, and we followed him. Behind us, as Mulligan shut the air tight door, was the sound of rushing water. They’d broken the hull. Now the ship was going to sink twice as fast. Definitely not good.

Halfway up the stairs, and luckily without any interruptions by our unfriendly visitors, Mulligan pulled Hanover aside. They spoke in low tones. Sonya watched them with an evil glint in her eyes.

"Hey," I whispered. "You know them?"

She nodded. "Theives. Very good. They rob only the richest of the rich. They’re very skilled with weaponry, explosives, missiles, and even torpedos. They have connections in every part of the world, and have been able to dodge the FBI, the CIA, and even the Special Forces for years." Quietly, she checked the safety on her gun. Riding up the slit of her dress a bit, I noticed another set of clips hiding.

"Whatever happens, Johnny, I just want you to know that I’m taking these bastards down." My heart sunk a bit. I was hoping she would say something a little different.

"Well, with the way things are going, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that." Hanover suddenly stepped forward, and he pointed his gun at Finnegan.

"How long will it take you to fix your boat?" Finnegan looked at Joey.

"Joey?"

"An hour. Two tops." Hanover looked at Mulligan.

"Fine." Suddenly he grabbed Trillian and thrust his assault rifle into her temple.

Finnegan reacted by thrusting his own rifle at Hanover. Sonya also pointed her gun at him.

"Hanover! I wouldn’t!" Sonya threatened. Mulligan came up behind Hanover and pointed his gun at Sonya. I stepped slightly in front of her. Joey took up the back and aimed his weapon at Mulligan.

"Here’s the deal," Hanover started. "Finnegan, you and your little group here are going to your boat, and you’re going to fix it. She stays with us until we come back down. You leave, she dies with us. You try and pull anything, she dies."

Finnegan looked terribly agitated. "We don’t know our way around the ship."

"Go to the top of the stairs. You’ll be in the lobby," Mulligan interjected. "Follow the signs to the deck from there."

"And you’ll be doing some spring cleaning in the vault, I suppose?" Sonya quipped.

Hanover looked at her. "You’re very quick. You must be law enforcement. Why else would you just happen to have a gun?" Sonya remained silent.

"You bring her back alive, or we leave you, is that clear?" Finnegan demanded.

"I don’t take orders-"

"You will now because Joey and I are the only ones who can get you away from this ship alive. That means we play my way. You want to rob the safe, fine, I don’t give a fuck. Just get her back to the boat. She will not be hurt in any way, or I will tie you by your ankles and feed you to these things. Clear?"

Hanover glared, but nodded.

And below us, the wall began to split. Water leaked, and soon, the pressure became too much. With a loud crash, the metal broke. Icy sea water swirled down at the bottom of the staircase, and it was quickly rising.

"Oh, yeah," I hissed. "This is definitely getting better." The stairs shuddered and metal began to bend below. With a roar, a creature came flying up from the swirling waves and snapped at the metal steps. Everyone yelled and we scattered. I dodged into the hall of nearest exit, dragging Sonya behind me.

"No!" she yelled, struggling against me. "Hanover-"

"Forget it, Sonya! Let the creatures finish him off!" I shouted as we ran through the silent hallway. We passed an elevator. Floor 6. Damn. We had a long climb to go.

"The others!" Sonya shouted at me. I stopped dead and looked behind us. They weren’t there.

"They’re armed, they can take care of themselves."

"But what about us Johnny? You don’t have a weapon, I only have a semi-automatic and three more clips." Her face creased in frustration. "Besides, they’re the ones with the boat that can get us out of here." Sonya paused, and her words sunk into me with growing dread. "We have to go back."

"Son-" I paused, looking a few meters down to the right. There was movement. "Canton!" I shouted. He looked up, panic washed over his face, and he darted. I chased him, Sonya close on my heels. We followed him through the ship’s built in mall.

"Canton, stop!" Sonya yelled after him. She paused, pulled out her gun, and fired a warning shot. The wall gave off a burst of paper and dust as it chipped near Canton’s head. He froze.

"Stay there, Canton, or I’ll shoot you where you stand!" His hands remained in front of him.

"Why are you running from us Canton? We need to stick together if we’re to stay alive," I asked, stepping forward to put my hand on his shoulder.

"Because the creatures hunt by sounds. If they hear something they follow it. If we travel together, we’ll be targeted until they can trap us." He took a breath, and his voice became steady and clear. "I want to make sure I live, and sometimes that means sacrificing others." Canton turned and I saw a glint before I ducked, the switchblade missing my eye by mere inches. Then he threw something at Sonya and ducked into another door.

"Sonya?" I shouted. I heard the door latch behind me.

"I’m fine, stop him!" I threw myself against the door, but it didn’t open.

"Shit!" I yelled, banging my hand on the door. "He locked it!"

"Oh, no." Sonya’s voice was soft and unsteady.

I turned to her. "What?" She as staring at the far corner.

"Run." Then she grabbed my hand and pulled me.

"What?"

"Grenade! Run!" She yanked my arm again, and we dodged into the clothing store as the grenade went off in a ball of flames. Glass shattered and mannequins fell off their stands, their clothes burning away into strips of black. I looked up from the floor. The way out was block by the walls of flames. The hallway was red and orange. Steams of heat made the walls shimmer.

I barely noticed Sonya get to her feet and run further into the store. I stood and followed her. She moved around frantically, running from wall to wall.

"Shit! There’s no other way out of here!" We both turned toward the expanding fire that was burning hotly and coming closer. The smoke was swelling around the ceiling in black curly clouds. Burning rubber and crackling glass filled the air. I looked around my eyes drifted to the ceiling as the sprinklers kicked on. And near the sprinklers…

"Sonya! Up there!" I moved over to a table covered in clothes and I shoved them off. "Give me a hand!" I noticed Sonya look up and smile before she came over and took the other end of the table. Together, we carried it underneath the air vent. I jumped on top, reached up, and pulled the grating off. I looked down both sides of the vent. No creatures… as far as I could. Sonya was at my side. She covered her mouth and coughed.

"Let’s go!" She jumped up and grabbed the edge of the vent. Quickly, she pulled herself up.

"Which way?" I heard her yell.

"Just go!" So she began crawling as I jumped up and climbed in after her. The smoke began filling the cramped passageway, making us cough and gag. We continued a few more feet before an erratic coughing fit made Sonya stop ahead of me. Minutes passed, and she still didn’t move.

"Sonya?" I coughed.

"Can’t. I can’t breath," she choked out.

"You have to keep going, or we’ll die from asphyxiation up here." She didn’t move. I felt myself become annoyed, whether it be from the lack of fresh air or the whole bloody vacation from hell.

"Goddamn it, Sonya! You’re a lieutenant! You can’t stay here and die! Get over your pain and keep moving!" I saw Sonya turn and stare at me. Then she moved. She kept moving until we came to a four way split. Sonya went to the right. As we continued crawling, the air became a little cleaner, and I could breath again. As my body concentrated on staying in motion, my mind drifted a bit.

‘Well, this is one way to screw over a perfectly good vacation. I wonder if this sort of thing happens to normal people. First the tournament, now this. Chosen Ones, huh? Yeah, chosen to be cursed is what it sounds like. Then again, I don’t hear Sonya complaining. Huh. Then again, Sonya wasn’t the one who paid for this trip, and being the most expensive luxurious cruise ship in the world, that’s no small price. Then again, I am the richest actor in the world. And the best action hero. And the most handsome.

And the most arrogant, snobbish, and cocky bachelor-to-be-for-the-rest-of-his-life man I’ve ever known. Unless I could somehow convince Sonya to stay with me; but at the rate of the things we do together, I doubt she’ll stick around.’

For some reason, my heart sank a bit at the thought. I didn’t really think that she’d leave in such a hurry. ‘Not saying she would, of course…’ But I couldn’t help considering the possibility. This wasn’t exactly the best way to impress a girl, and I’m sure she’d agree to that. ‘It’s probably scared the shit out of her, and now she’ll never want to hang out with me again.’ I mentally groaned.

‘Back to being a horny 16 year old boy wanting to date the beautiful blonde prom queen.’ A picture of Sonya in a long puffy gown with white gloves and a huge glittery crown upon her head entered my mind. And then the dress expanded and got even puffier, while the crown seemed to get bigger and heavier. Sonya suddenly screamed as the dress lifted her up in the air like a balloon, and her crown made her flip over upside down, and she floated away into the night sky… I snorted and giggled, and considered the idea that the lack of oxygen made me high. And then suddenly, my head ran into Sonya’s nice round rump.

"Cage! God, what the hell are you doing back there?!" I apologized proficiently and backed up, rubbing my hair.

"Sorry, I was daydreaming." I looked around Sonya’s very lovely back view and noticed we had come to the end of the line. There was a loud scraping as Sonya pulled off the grate and tossed it down the short distance of vent in front of her.

"Watch out," she called back.

"For what?" I asked, but she was already rolling herself forward on her hands, and she slipped down into the room below. "Wow, nice move!" I copied it, and landed gracefully on my ass. ‘Hmm, overestimated my thrust.’ Sonya was helping me up, and I looked around the room. It was a bar.

"All right!" I moved to the fridge and pulled out a beer. Sonya slapped my arm. "Hey! I could use a drink right about now!"

"And weaken your response time so you can end up getting eaten alive? Brilliant idea." I considered her words, looked at the beer, pouted and put it back.

"When we get out of here, you’re buying me a drink," I pointed my finger at her accusingly. She rolled her eyes and pulled her gun from her leg band. I took a moment to admire the smooth skin revealed beneath the slit.

"You look so sexy when you do that." And my mind drifted to the moment we shared before the horror set in. I looked in her eyes. She was thinking of it also, I could tell. I stepped closer to her, and caressed her cheek. To my dismay, she flinched and moved back.

"We have to find the others," she said distractedly, turning toward the door that led out of the small bar.

"Sonya-" Her look stopped me. There was something in her eyes that told me to leave it alone, that something was bothering her. Something about what happened earlier. And I became afraid.

"Give me that key, you bitch!" The doors lit up red and there was an explosion. Sonya and I ducked. Then Trillian ran by.

"Trillian!" Sonya followed her, and I was close behind. We went out into the once populous ballroom that was now quiet, dark, and frankly dead.

"Trillian?" I called. Her head peeked out from behind a pillar. A rush of relief went over her face before it fell in concern.

"Where’s Canton?"

"Canton?" I asked.

Trillian’s body jerked and she was yanked out from behind the pillar, Canton’s hand tangled in her hair and a flare gun in his hand. Sonya’s gun was aimed on him in a second.

"Canton! Let her go!" Sonya shouted.

He shook his head. "Throw down your weapon," Canton pressed the barrel into Trillian’s temple, "or I splatter her pretty face all over the wall."

Sonya’s arm twitched and she fired near Canton’s head. He jerked to the side. Trillian elbowed him in the stomach, seized the flare gun as he doubled over, and knocked him across the face with it. Sonya fired again when Trillian ran from Canton over to Johnny, and Canton screamed as the bullet pierced his shoulder. Then gunfire erupted around the room.

From the restaurant, Finnegan marched in, his gun blazing and his face set in grim annoyance. He fired all around Canton’s body, but didn’t hit him. Finnegan stopped. Canton stood, his eyes wide with fear. Then Finnegan began firing again.

Holding his bleeding shoulder, Canton fled from the room, like a beaten dog with his tail between his legs. Finnegan stopped again, and turned to face Trillian.

"You all right?"

She nodded, panting slightly. "He caught me by surprise in the jet ski garage." She turned to face me. "Where have you two been?"

"Crawling through air vents. You?" Sonya answered as she lowered her arm.

"Trying to kill these bastards." Finnegan joined us.

"All right, glad to see you guys are still with us. Trillian, how many jet ski’s were usable?"

Trillian shook her head. "All I remember seeing is one." She held up a key. "All the others were broken from the sudden crash."

"What’s wrong with your boat?" Sonya inquired.

"We’re going to use it to torpedo the ship." Finnegan looked at his watch while I gaped at him. "Which is going to happen soon, so we gotta get out of here."

"What are you doing with torpedoes?" I asked.

Finnegan shrugged. "Hanover brought them on my boat after paying us to bring him out here. They were gonna torpedo the ship so Canton could get the insurance-"

"-After they cleared the vault," Sonya finished. "Right?" Finnegan nodded.

"Where’s Hanover now?" Everyone looked at me then at each other.

"I haven’t seen him," Trillian said, "Not since the attack in the stairwell."

"Joey?"

"Joey’s getting my boat ready to blow the ship," Finnegan answered quickly. "Now, if there’s no more questions, I suggest we move our asses outta here." No one argued.

"Wait, we’re gonna blow the ship? With your boat?" I asked incredulously. "Then how are we getting away from the ship?"

Finnegan shrugged. "I haven’t figured that out yet." Oh, that’s comforting. "We’ll deal with it when we get down to the cargo bay." I nodded, not too happy with the expected outcome, but at this point, I was willing to go on a little faith if it meant getting off the ship.

It was about the time we headed toward the emergency stairwell when a terrible rumbling started. The floor was shaking. Oh, terrific. There was an explosion on the far side of the ballroom, causing furniture to fly in the air, hit the ceiling, and crash back down.

"Oh, now what?!"

"Shit!" Sonya hissed. The grand staircase that curled around the wall separated and slid across the room in a boomer rang motion. It crashed into the opposite side of the room just as the center bar, a hexagonal shape in the design of a pagoda, skidded across the floor as if being pushed by an oncoming train. It, too, smashed into the wall. Splinters flew into the air and glass shattered. Light fixtures fell and furniture ripped into hundreds of parts. I fell to my knees when the floor quaked violently. A terrible screech filled the air.

"Oh my God…" Spindly tentacles wrapped in thick layers of slimey muscle slithered out from a large hole in the floor, followed by a large, fatty mass of blubber that rose up to the ceiling. It gurgled and suckled, with stomach churning slopping sounds that made my face pale.

The creature must have stood over thirty feet high, though it had no legs. All around the large whale sized body, the snapping arms with vicious jaws writhed back and forth, moving like a mass of uncomfortable bodies sliding across each other in egg yolk.

"Now that’s something you don’t see everyday," Finnegan commented, in obvious shock.

"Christ, and I thought Goro was bad."

I couldn’t help but smile as Sonya said this. Probably because I was thinking the same thing. But then again, someone once said that no matter how bad things get, they can always get worse. Well, this thing was definitely worse than Goro. It was bigger, faster, uglier, by far, and had a helluva lot more arms.

"Time to go," Trillian whispered as it growled and looked around the room with its large and milky blue eyes. Quietly, we all began to step back toward the hallway that would take us to the emergency stairway.

Apparently, we weren’t quiet enough. Suddenly, when we thought we were safe, two arms slid across the floor and wrapped around Finnegan and Sonya. I heard Trillian scream at him, as I screamed at Sonya. Together, the two were lifted into the air, struggling against the tightening grip of the meaty arms.

No, no! God, gotta do something! But my mind was coming up blank. I heard Sonya scream. My gut wrenched as I watched her slowly being crushed like a mouse caught by a cobra. And then they were in front of the creature, and it turned to face them. With a loud roar, its mouth opened to reveal rows of jagged teeth and a large gaping hole that led down into its acid filled stomach.

"Finnegan!"

Have to help them. Have to save her. And I looked at the floor, trying to find something, anything…

The light glinted off her gun. She dropped it. I dove. I seized. I aimed. The gun went off. The creature’s eyes exploded in a burst of gooey residue and a horrible popping sound, like a tv dinner exploding in the microwave. Then again, I would be the only person who would think of a microwave at a time like this.

The sea monster yowled and shrieked in pain, and its arms flew out against the walls. Together, Sonya and Finnegan fell as the impact loosed the monster’s grip on them. Sonya landed and rolled before running toward me.

"Thanks!" she yelled and grabbed my hand. "Finnegan!"

I turned to see him cocking his rifle and firing at the arm. It writhed and coiled back before striking again. He cocked the rifle a second time, sent off a second shot, and the arm collapsed, apparently dead.

"Quit screwing around with that thing and let’s get the hell out of here!" Together, the four of us fled the ballroom and the giant sea freak roaring within. A few minutes later, we found ourselves in the cargo bay. It was flooded up to our knees with icy salt water. I shivered momentarily as I surveyed the damage of the room. Water skis floated in splinters, metal pipes were broken and severed through each other, light fixtures dangled dangerously close to the water, threatening to electrocute us, and straight ahead there was an open door that led out into the slashing wind and slanted rain of the storm.

"Is that our way out?" Sonya asked, as she nodded at the jet ski. Only problem was, there appeared to be only one that was in at least modest condition. The others were broken and smashed into each other against the wall.

"Yep, that’s it," Finnegan remarked gravely. "Stay here. I have to get Joey and get the boat going." He moved through the water to the open door, checked outside, then jumped.

"Great, so what do we do?" Trillian grated. There was a bright flash and all of us dove into the water to avoid the rapid burst of gunfire. When I surfaced, the first thing I registered was dead silence. Then a gun was pressed to my back.

"Get up." Shit. Hanover. Carefully, I rose from my knees with my hands in the air, facing the ladies. Sonya and Trillian were doing the same.

"Well, everyone, what an interesting cruise this has been. Unfortunately, Mulligan and I have some previous engagements we must attend to, so we’ll be cutting our stay short." Hanover thrust his gun up at Trillian. "Key?"

She shook her head. "I don’t have it."

"Where is it?!" Mulligan snapped from beside Hanover.

"Finnegan has it," she said flatly.

"And he is where?"

"Dead," I answered quickly. I caught their eyes. They followed. "He didn’t make it." Everything went white as I sank down from the heavy blow. My name was shouted from no more than a few feet away though it sounded like it came from miles.

"I don’t have time for this," Hanover said icily. "I suggest you give me the key, or," Hanover commanded as he pressed the large barrel into my neck. "This one dies."

As the pain subsided from my head, I watched Sonya and Trillian exchange a glance. Trillian’s face was creased in anger as she reached behind her and pulled out the key.

"Toss it to Mulligan." Hesitation was set in her beautiful features, but at Hanover’s request, she threw it at the Aussie. From about a foot away, there was a loud clump. I smiled. She tossed it in the water.

Then a loud roar made all of us tense, and suddenly Mulligan was lifted up and he disappeared into the ceiling. Trillian and Sonya quickly moved away as Hanover began firing his gun. I rolled out of the way, then Finnegan was firing his pulse rifle and Hanover was running away. In moments, the room was still and silent. We looked at each other with questioning eyes.

"Well, that was interesting." But no one heard me over the sudden roar, and someone screaming at me to move. I jumped to my feet and caught a flash of a headlight coming at me. Funny, I didn’t think a car could fit through that narrow hallway.

"John!" A searing pain went through my leg as something hard practically ran over me. I heard before I realized the scream of pain that escaped me as I flipped in the air and landed in the water. My hands scrambled trying to find the surface, but I was in so much pain I couldn’t figure which way was up. Tugging on my shirt made me focus as my face was brought out of the water and I could breath again. There was more roaring followed by gunfire and shouting. Beneath the water, my leg throbbed.

"Get him!"

"He’s coming around again!"

"Fuck-"

"Shit, look ou-"

Screams ripped through my head and my eyes opened to see Trillian firing at the creature as it curled down from the ceiling.

"What the hell’s going on?!" I suddenly shouted over the din of the fire, the explosions, and the roaring that wouldn’t go away. As I finally became aware of my surroundings, I noticed Trillian standing next to Finnegan, pumping round after round of bullets into the shrieking creature. Next to me was Sonya, standing in a classic defense military crouch as she fired at the moving object on the water. It was Hanover, bloody, injured, angry, and armed on another jet ski that tore around on the waters, trying to get to the open door to jump to freedom. The creature, I noticed with interest, was blocking it adamantly.

Suddenly, everything went silent. The creature was gone. Hanover was gone. Nobody breathed.

"Finnegan?" Trillian whispered shakily. "What do we do now?"

"We leave." Finnegan wrapped his gun around his shoulders and let it swing around behind his back. He took the key to the jet from his wrist and sat on the low seat as he started the engine.

"What? We all can get on that thing!" Sonya nearly screamed.

But before Finnegan could reply, Hanover was back tearing across the rising water, aiming for Finnegan. Trillian jumped on behind him and he sped off down a bending hallway. As Hanover came closer, Sonya fired off three more shots before her clip went empty. Her last bullet hit him in the shoulder, knocking him off. However, the jet ski continued coming closer, right at Sonya.

"Sonya!" I stood, ran, and jumped her, knocking us both into the water and out of jet ski’s way.

The sound of hydraulics whirring made me look up sharply, and I noticed that where I pushed Sonya was right into a storage room, and the doorway was locking up.

"No!" I quickly stood and grabbed the edge of the door and pulled as hard as I could to keep the door from closing. My muscles strained to their limit and I heard myself grunting loudly as I struggled. To no avail, the door closed and locked just after I pulled my fingers out. "Sonya! SONYA!" I looked through the small plastic and glass mirror into the room. It was rapidly filling with water, and my heart began to sink as fast as the ship. "SONYA!"

Then her head came into view in the glass. There was a cut across her brow and it bled heavily, but she managed to look at me through the glass. Her lips moved, shouting something to me that I knew was important, but I couldn’t hear her. I focused carefully on her beautiful full mouth. ‘Go. Get out. Go.’

My eyes widened. The water had risen up to her neck. A tear. There must have been a large tear right there in the room. "No!" I shouted back to her. I began pounding on the door, punching and kicking and shouting angrily. I wasn’t going to leave her here. I couldn’t. My fist hit against the glass, cracking it. And suddenly I stopped.

‘Go. Save you-‘ Sonya couldn’t finish her sentence as the water curled up over her mouth and nose, and she was completely submerged. I watched her move away, and my body felt like it was being torn in two. I had to save her, it was my job. Wasn’t it? I saved her from Shang Tsung, I could save her from this…

My breath left me in a rush and I crumbled with a splash. What… I tried to stand, but was knocked down by a brunt blow with a heavy object. I groaned and collapsed again.

"Where’s the blonde?" Hanover. My teeth clenched.

"Fuck you." There was a click. A hammer being pulled back. Metal pressed into my head, forcing my face closer to the water.

"I’m not going to ask you again." But even if he wanted to, he didn’t get the chance as he was knocked to the floor from the blow of the bullet to his back. I pushed the bleeding thief off me and looked up to see Finnegan, shotgun raised high.

"Let’s go!" he shouted.

"Sonya’s locked up, we have to get her out!"

Finnegan shook his head. "I’m sorry, but we have to get off the ship before it goes!"

I glared at him in confusion and apprehension. "What are you talking about?!"

"The torpedos-" He didn’t finish as another creature coiled down and began snapping at us. Finnegan fired off his shotgun and the creature lurked back in the confines of the many pipes, waiting for the next opportunity.

"Look, we’re out of time," Finnegan yelled at me as he began to turn his ski around. "Do what you damn well please, but you’ll do your friend no good if your dead." He stared me down, awaiting my decision, and at last I gave a tight nod before I ran toward the idle jet ski left by Hanover. I jumped on, revved the engine, and sped after Finnegan.

"Please protect her," I prayed to myself.

Then the stern exploded.

"What the fuck?!" I yelled as the back hallways went red with leaping flames. A terribly loud explosion reached my ears and the ship was lurching. "Finnegan!" I shouted.

"Don’t look back!" And we were racing through a wall of flames on the water. The intense heat seared my clothes, made my eyes water and my skin burn, but in seconds it was gone and we were riding up the slight incline that sent us flying across the open sea and the ship was a giant ball of flame. Debris rained around us when we smacked into the cresting waves with large sprays of water.

Those disgusting mutations couldn’t have survived such an explosion. My heart was racing, but breaking at the same time as I thought of Sonya trapped in the ship, and the dreaded fact that there was no way she could have survived, either.

 

A ship found us about six hours later, drifting around on our dead jet skis, and they gave us food, board, and medical attention. Trillian and Finnegan took comfort in each other’s company and practically collapsed when they reached their respective beds. But I was not so quickly subdued. I kept thinking about my abandonment and betrayal. Sonya may have wanted me to leave her, and would probably forgive me for following her orders, but that didn’t mean I could forgive myself. I stood on the deck for many hours, maybe another four or five, just staring ahead of me and thinking. When Finnegan came on deck a few moments later, he gave me a sad smile and offered his condolences. I said nothing, instead just nodding. Then I thought of his friend, the grease monkey, and I turned to question him.

"Drifter on the port bow!" My head turned to see a group of sailors leaning over the banister and pulling at something frantically. I squinted my eyes, and noticed them dragging a body on board. My heart leaped to my throat. Could it…

"Joey!" Finnegan ran over to the stick of a man coughing up half the pacific, pulling him into a brief embrace and talking a mile a minute.

"How did you make it out here, Joey?" Trillian asked with a smile when she ran over from the second deck.

"I was fixing up Hercules when those things came out of nowhere. I jumped overboard, swam like hell, and those things were snapping at my ass. Then next thing I know, Kabluiee! And suddenly your damn surf board falls from the sky and nearly cuts me in half," Joey half glared at Finnegan. "Then a I paddled like it was nobody’s business. But I got so tired, I nearly passed out from all the excitement. Luckily, that military chick gave me a lift on her little scuba jet thingy."

Once again, my world turned over. "What?"

Joey yelped as they pressed on his leg, where he was injured. "Hey, watch it!"

Impatient, I grabbed his shoulders and made him face me. "What did you say? Some military chick?"

"That’s what he said, but let it be known I always have and always will resent that title."

My head snapped up as I caught a flash of soaked blonde hair and beautiful green eyes. Before the shock settled in, I was spinning Sonya around on the deck while laughing with joy. When I finally put Sonya back on her feet, I pulled her into a passionate kiss that left my head spinning. I pulled away at last, and her fist cruised across my jaw. I spun on my heels, landed on my ass, and laughed some more. She was back, alive and feisty as ever. And I was thrilled.

"How did you make it?" I asked between laughs.

She kneeled before me with a smile. "You, oh quick thinking one, shoved me into a diving room. The equipment in the room consisted of oxygen masks and tanks, snorkels, goggles, flippers, suits, everything. So I used one of the tanks when the room was completely filled with water. Then I noticed a button on the wall that opened a door in the floor that lead out into sea. I found a deep sea propulsion unit right near the passageway, and I used it to speed myself out of there. Next thing I know, there’s this dull thud, and when I looked back I watched the bottom half of the ship sink into the darkness."

I grinned widely. "Blew the ship," I said with a shrug.

Sonya tsked and shook her head. "I can’t take you anywhere."

"Does this mean no more dates?" I pouted.

"Hmm." Sonya’s expression became so serious I panicked. "I don’t know, Johnny. We may be safer at home, just staying in bed."

I made my face thoughtful in consideration. "Are you sure that’s the only solution?"

"Yes, I’m afraid so," Sonya answered gravely.

I took a beat, before shrugging my shoulders. "Whatever you say, Lieutenant." And I pulled her into a soft kiss as the ship sailed back on its way to civilization.