The fisherman stood on his small boat’s deck, fishing. It was a windy day on the small island-town of Fort Drio. The moon glowed bright in the skies, oddly bright and large for the time. The man liked windy days. The fish always seemed to love the food those days.
Out in the distance over the swirling blanket of waves, a large cargo ship seemed to drift towards the harbor.
The man checked the schedule, which told him that no ship should be coming in at the time. In fact, no large cargo ships were supposed to be arriving, not until the next month.
The man picked up the radio and dialed for the harbor. “A… A cargo ship is coming in,” he informed. “Did you guys make a last minute call or…?”
“No ships are supposed to be coming in,” was the response.
“Well, one is, just look.”
The gargantuan cargo ship kept heading towards the harbor, unchanged in its direction. No words could be read from the ship’s hull, obscured by untold years of weathering.
The cargo ship began to pass the fishing boat looming tall like a skyscraper.
The cargo ship should have slowed down. It did not, and kept going at full speed.
Full speed, that is, towards the docks.
Eyes widened as the ship did not lose speed and crashed into a dock, causing steel to be warped and a dent to be caused. An unfortunate ship was crushed by the speed of the ship, forever lost to the ocean.
Yet the massive cargo ship did not lose power, and kept charging, shrieking in warped metal and coming aground. Giant boxes that were upon the ship fell as the ship shook.
An earthquake seemed to rise throughout the entire harbor as the giant ship came aground, at last resting, crashed into an overlooking cliff.
Nobody was hurt, save for an unfortunate drunk who took walks.
Over the next hour, the island’s police gathered, led by the lead detective, a one Detective Stephanie Rengage. She was a seasoned detective, having solved top-priority cases before. But really, she was on vacation, acting as a leader to quickly aid the islanders. A large stairway was quickly assembled, and the officers were on the main deck, all trying to understand what had happened.
“What happened...” wondered the detective. “Now, any reports on who this ship belongs to?”
“No idea,” an officer replied. “We haven’t found any papers in anything, nor opened any of these containers.”
“Can we get into the rest of the ship?”
“Soon, once we finish documenting everything up here. Also, there appears to be… dust everywhere.”
Stephanie dismissed the officer and walked over to the door separating the outside from the inside.
Just as she was informed, the glass door was covered in a strange, orange dust. She could not see in, and whoever was inside could not see out. But, nobody had been seen leaving. It seemed as if nobody was even on the ship itself.
The detective wiped away the dust, revealing a clouded dust. Still, she would be able to see inside.
Stephanie peered inside, pressing her face.
Inside, she saw a few chairs, with a figure sitting on it, but she could only see the body of the figure.
Suddenly, something scuttled across the floor, making a scuttling noise like crabs. Stephanie looked to see nothing but a multi-legged dark red mass scurry across the room.
“Detective Rengage!” someone called. Stephanie turned her head to see an officer. “We’re ready to enter the cargo ship.”
“Alright,” Stephanie replied, stepping away from the door.
The officer shook the door’s handle. Locked.
“Just kick it open.”
Stephanie shook her head and rushed over. Next, she kicked the doors open, easily breaking the fragile lock.
The orange dust flew into the air, temporarily obscuring vision. When the crisp dust cleared, the inside was visible.
And there was blood.
The figure who had been sitting on a chair was a corpse. A corpse, who was missing a face. Instead of a face, was a bloody gaping hole where teeth, tongue, and innards were visible.
It appeared as if something had pushed itself up the person’s throat, then burst through its face.
All across the metal room were traces and bursts of crimson blood. Along with the blood paint, was a slick orange substance that seemed slimy in texture. Around the edges of the goo were the orange dust.
“I think,” Stephanie began, “we need the FBI here.”
But, of course, the FBI was not pinged.
Instead, at around noon, the members of the DCU assembled on the plane, after each finishing off a hearty meal.
Xavier activated the powerpoint while the rest of the team - Kitten, Daena, Leo, Stacy, Maizie, and Jack gathered. They sat, awaiting orders.
“Welcome!” Xavier greeted. “Ready for another day of creature finding?”
“Uh… no,” Maizie joked.
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that, Maizie,” Xavier replied. “Now, according to our sources, tachyon energy was detected onboard a cargo ship- which means portal. This cargo ship crashed into the harbor of the island-town of Fort Drio, where local authorities investigated.”
“Gross,” Stacy rasped, just as Xavier switched to the slide that showed numerous bodies with a bloody hole instead of a face. The others made a face, disgusted by bodies.
“We diverted the FBI request and we will be posing as the FBI. Only the first few decks have been explored, where about twenty-nine bodies have been discovered, all missing a face. The ship has been quarantined to prevent whatever did this from escaping. We… need to find out what creature is doing this, as usual. Dismissed- we’ll land there in about four hours.”
During the four hours, the team prepared and researched, but once it was clear nobody had any idea what the creature was, everybody relaxed.
So instead of doing anything productive, everyone played video games, took naps, and relaxed. Leo and Dana went on a date, going to the gym to spar.
Four agonizing hours passed, and soon, the team arrived at the airport of an island near Fort Drio. They would need to take a boat to the island. The island was in Hawaii, so time seemed to go backwards, and they had a second lunch.
Soon, the team left the plane.
“Well, boat time!” cheered Daena. “I never get to go on boats. I go on too many submarines.”
Thirty minutes later, the six arrived at the town. They split up, Jack, Daena, and Kitten were investigating the main scene, while Maizie, Leo, and Stacy asked around town to interview people. Xavier had returned to take a call.
“Ahem,” the detective began, “you can’t be here.”
“We’re FBI,” Kitten cooly lied.
“Can I see your badges?”
“Here.” Daena produced three badges for the trio.
“Good, I’m Detective Stephanie Rengage, we’ve been waiting for you guys. You do know what happened here, right?”
“Missing face?” Jack said, pointing to his face as he did.
“Yes, we haven’t moved any of the bodies in case... I don’t know. Just in case.”
“Take us to the bodies,” Daena advised. “I’m a doctor, I’ll be able to identify something.”
“Follow me,” the detective told, guiding them towards the entrance.
The four entered, where they saw the first of the corpses, laid on the floor with two people wearing lab coats around the body.
“Any clues?” Daena asked.
“No,” one of the scientists replied. “We haven’t been able to find out what did this.”
The three nodded, Jack took notes, Kitten chewed on some gum, and Daena wrote as well. The detective led them deeper into the cargo ship.
“You,” the detective said, pointing at an officer, “you, you, and you, follow us!”
The officers nodded and the group began the trek deeper into the ship.
Bodies littered the area, strewn about, all with a bloody gaping hole as a face. The odd orange goo was everywhere, some crystalized into dust, while others were intermixed with the blood.
Without warning, a body moved, writhing in pain.
“There!” Daena shouted. “Survivor!”
“Got it!” Stephanie notified, running towards the moving body.
The four arrived at the body, Daena turned the woman over, revealing her intact face. “What happened here?!” Daena questioned.
“Help me...” the injured woman moaned.
“Alright, detective- get us some paramedics!” Jack commanded. “We’ll try to bring her back!”
The detective wasted no time for words and ran back to the safer zones.
“I think she’s safe to move-” Daena began, “-now, come on, lift!”
The others held the body, and lifted. Daena led the way, going to the stairs back to the topmost floor. Slowly, step by step, they almost made it when-
“Daena, something’s happening!” Kitten panicked.
The mouth began to open, wider than any human should be able to. The jaw appeared to be stretching, trying to rip itself from the body.
From the deep abyss of the throat, a single, black limb-like tentacle emerged, but it wasn’t like any tentacle anybody had seen. On the edges were patterned rings, blacker in color. On the tip and suckers of the tentacle were small hooked spikes, which pulsed with the beating flow of blood.
More of the long tentacle kept appearing, until it bent to the side, reaching the injured woman’s neck, where it latched on with the hooks. The human tried to scream, but whatever it was inside her throat, it blocked that as well.
“Daena?” Kitten worried. “What now?!”
“No idea,” Daena confessed. “Just quickly!”
The three resumed walking, faster than before.
Meanwhile, a second extending tentacle-limb emerged, equally strange as the first one. It grew longer, dragging itself out from the innards, then wrapping around the throat and latching on.
At last, the three arrived out in the safe zone, just as the paramedics arrived. But the paramedics had no idea what to do.
“Well then, I think- well, probably, this… this creature, is responsible for the deaths!” Daena declared. “We just need to get it out of her!”
“But how?” Kitten pointed out. “Is there even a way?”
“Wait, what if we don’t pull it out!” Jack suggested.
“How will that help?” Daena inquired.
“Stacy once told me that a parasite keeps its host alive, so sending it inwards may work!”
“Yes, but how do we get it to go back?” Kitten wondered.
“Those tentacles must be sensitive,” Daena realized. “Quick, someone get me a knife!”
Jack passed on the order to the medics, who promptly gave Daena a knife. Daena then put on some gloves she always kept, then grabbed one of the latching tentacles.
With one single slice, the tentacle was cut in two.
A shrill shriek was heard from inside the body as the creature’s other tentacle retreated back inside, causing a waving bulge in the throat.
“Well then,” Kitten began, talking to the medics, “get this woman into surgery- and take out that creature, but keep it alive.”
“I’ll have the rest of the team interview her at the hospital,” Jack offered.
Daena nodded half-noticing, examining the severed tentacle.
The ambulance drove off into the distance, where the woman would be taken into surgery.
“Now what?” Detective Stephanie asked.
“Quarantine the area,” Daena ordered. “We can’t let any of these things escape.”
“But first,” Kitten interjected, “check the ship’s hydrophore system. I do believe it may offer up some clues.”
“Got it, I’ll send some people to check the water supply.”
One exhausting hour later, the team was notified that the woman was out of surgery and was now resting in a hospital. Meanwhile, the parasitic creature was recovered- alive, and sent to a hotel room that was rented, which Daena and Stacy were now observing.
Jack and Kitten remained at the cargo ship, where they discovered that the water system contained traces of ammonia, and something that looked like almost-microscopic broken shells. Meanwhile Maizie and Leo went to interrogate the woman.
“Ah, you’re awake,” Leo addressed. “I’m Agent Leo Weiss of the… FBI, and my partner is Maizie Cloude, another agent.”
“Let’s start by asking for your name,” Maizie insisted. “Do you know who you are?”
“Yes, Avery Rivali.”
“That’s something, now, tell us everything you know about the ship you were on,” Leo pressured.
“I’m an employee of Plexerco Corporations. I’m just an engineer to make sure the cargo ship was running. What we were transporting, I don’t know. Plexerco only transports stuff, mostly by air and sea. We were travelling from Madagascar, to China, to a small island, then to here, and that’s about it.”
“That’s all?” Leo puzzled. “What about what killed the others?”
“I don’t know. People just started fainting suddenly, and some people disappeared or fell into the ocean. It happened the first day, when someone fainted. Then this creature came out of him. We caught the creature in a bucket, but it escaped. The next day. Three people died. The deaths just kept going.”
“Odd...” Maizie pondered.
“Oh, and the water tasted funny.”
“Well, looks like that’s all for now,” Leo decided. “Maizie, send this recording to Stacy and Daena, see what they make of it.”
Maizie finished recording the witness statement, then sent it over to Stacy and Daena.
Stacy and Daena were testing the severed tentacle when they got the recording.
“Odd indeed,” Daena pointed out, “I think we need to investigate the main creature now.”
“Look, why do I need to be here?” Stacy asked. “My skills are better used fighting and shooting stuff, not investigating some boring old-”
“You’re the animal expert,” Daena cut it. “I’m more of a fighter than you, anyways.”
Stacy sighed and moved over to sit at a table, where the creature was trapped inside a cage made of glass.
The creature looked almost to be a squid, with eight tentacles, though one was cut short. But they looked like they were bony, more of a limb than a tentacle. The body was slender, long. Instead of a beak, however, was a mouth that resembled more of a Venus-Flytrap, all sharp with teeth.
“Ugh, those teeth,” Stacy groaned. “If these are just babies, how dangerous are the adult ones...”
“Stacy, just tell me if you know what it is, then you can go.”
“Huh… odd,” Stacy began, “it has gills… but that… lungs also, perhaps?”
“How so? Wait! The detective said she saw something crawl across the floor.”
“Yeah, not a prehistoric animal I can tell.”
“Well then, you’re dismissed. Go join Jack and Kitten at the cargo ship. They’re probably doing something useless.”
Stacy nodded and left the room.
Daena took out her laptop and called Xavier, who answered the call.
“Xavier,” greeted Daena.
“Great, now what?” Xavier asked, a tinge of annoyance in his voice.
“A level nine extermination,” Daena requested. “The creatures we found… are too dangerous. According to what Jack and Kitten found in the water supply, they could infiltrate the world’s water systems… and kill us all.”
“So, a time portal opened in the ship’s water system, which infected the water, infecting everyone with this creature?”
“Correct, a parasitoid, I believe. Based on my initial observation, I believe it may metamorph into something far more dangerous as an adult.”
“I’ll have an extermination team ready. Your mission is over.”
But unbeknownst to anyone, the mission wasn’t over just yet.
“Ah Stacy!” Jack called, seeing Stacy enter the cargo ship’s main deck. “Want some gum?”
“Stacy, glad you’re here,” Kitten addressed. “Anyone else coming here?”
“Good, Xavier just ordered a high-level extermination- that means fire bombing the ship,” Kitten informed. “Due to the fact that they passed from the water system. He fears it may endanger the world. Now, if you’d like to join me, I’ll be investigating one last time, checking out the cafeteria deck. That may offer some clues, because if anything ran off and survived, they’d need food.”
“I see. I’ll join in. Jack?”
“Nah,” Jack shuddered. “I’m tired of this mission.”
“Understandable- it is a dark and spooky place..”
“Not in that way, Stacy.”
Kitten laughed and Stacy walked over to the entrance. Kitten followed, and the two entered. The area had been lit by electric lanterns, and even though it seemed safe, the two still drew their pistols, lethal, this time.
“What do you suppose the adult is like?” wondered Stacy, imagining what they would find.
“No idea. But it’s got to be in the water, right?”
“I think it may be terrestrial as well. I saw gills, but a land-breathing system as well.”
Kitten nodded, unsure of what to say next.
The two continued in silence as they soon reached the cafeteria door. Stacy opened it slightly, giving a loud creak.
“Shush!” Stacy warned. “Something is in there.”
“What?” Kitten asked. “Let me see!”
Stacy and Kitten bunched up together, like peas in a pod as the two watched a large silhouette of a creature tearing through an ice-cream freezer.
Shadow tentacles danced, throwing boxes this way and that. But then, the creature paused.
In the darkness, a head raised, one that did not seem like any animal ever encountered before.
“I think...” Kitten mumbled, “it noticed us.”
“Good observation, Sherlock.”
“Do we run? I want to run.”
The creature shrieked loudly, alerting another, who appeared from the shadows.
The first creature stepped into a brief glimmer of light, leaving a slender neck with the head of a Venus-Flytrap’s. Teeth were a mess, hooking up and down, left, and right. But yet, the creature seemed incomplete.
It wasn’t fully grown, but it was dangerous enough.
“Run!” Kitten screamed.
Stacy and Kitten ran up the stairs, just as the first creature burst into the area, bunching up its limblike tentacles to gallop across the room.
“Gah!” Kitten cried, just as a tentacle wrapped around his leg. Blood spilled on the floor as the limb’s hooked claws latched. “It got me!”
“Wait-wait-wait...” Stacy murmured, looking around the room to find something to cut it off. Stacy then realized she had a gun, then fired at the limb. That seemed to do nothing, and the bullets seemed to bounce off. “What now?!”
“I… I guess it’s goodbye. I always wanted to know you better-”
“Wait, an axe!”
“Oh, how convenient- it’s almost as if our creator didn’t have a better idea!”
Stacy smashed into the emergency-fire-axe, which she then took.
With one swishing swoop, Stacy brought down the axe, slicing off the edges of the squid’s tentacle. The creature whined in pain, screaming in an atonal cadence. The two humans ran to the top of the staircase.
“Ahem, now let me deal with this,” Kitten cooly bragged, picking up a grenade from his jacket pocket.
“Wait, you had a grenade that whole time?!”
“Oh, well… I didn’t really...”
“Just throw it!”
Kitten removed the pin and threw it at the two creatures.
Unexpectedly, a tentacle caught it, then threw it to the side, where it exploded harmlessly.
Kitten and Stacy ran, firing back as they did so.
After an eternity of running, the dynamic duo approached the exit, which they opened, then closed.
“Quick, Kitten- unpin a grenade to explode just as they get here!”
Kitten did so, and ran.
Behind them, the galloping creature jumped through the glass.
Then, a burst of flame exploded, incinerating the creatures and spilling orange goo all over Stacy, Kitten, and the deck.
“Well, I guess Jack was right,” Stacy joked.
“Ahem,” somebody voiced just behind the two. They turned to see Daena. “Entering the ship? Really? Normally, I would do that, but you could have gotten killed… or worse.”
“Right, whatever,” Kitten deflected. “Can we get out of here now?”
“Yes, you two are getting a decontamination bath as soon as we get back on the plane.”
Kitten and Stacy sighed sarcastically.
And that, was that.
Later that day, several DAE drones set up powerful bombs all around the ship. Some collected evidence, some photographed the area, and one even managed to catch a baby one.
And so, the case of the mysterious parasitoid squid had been handled, though nobody was sure what time it had come from, or what its true adult form looked like.
But some mysteries are destined to go unsolved.
The parasitoid squid/octopus will return.