Chapter 1: Jones

12/10/07

"Sometimes I wonder if we're the only two sane men left on the planet..." Renard muttered to me slumping against the wall, and looking up at the stars. "Hell it's freezing tonight..."

"And last night," I replied, "and the night before that. And before that."

"Hey," Renard cut in, pointing down to the deck below us, "What do you think those two are talking about?" I traced his gesture, and saw he was indicating the silhouettes of Nick and Daphne, both leaning against the rail, their heads dangling above the sea.

"No idea. Probably nothing, Nick hasn't been very talkative the last few... weeks, really..." I said.

"You don't need to tell me. He's been shooting me down every time I try to say a word to him. He didn't seem this quiet the first time we met..."

"He wasn't. Something happened to him. I told you about the Labyrinth right?"

"Mmhmm, and I'm still a bit skeptical about it..."

"Live long enough in their world," I stuck my thumb out towards Daphne, "and that will fade. Anyway, something happened to Nick in there... He never told us exactly what, but he met the person who designed the place. Or, as Nick tells us, who the Labyrinth was designed to hold. Whatever he showed Nick... it was nasty."

"And it made him like this?"

"He won't associate with anyone. You start talking to him and he just walks away... It's like we aren't even real, it's like nothing he does matters. He just ignores it all."

Renard shook his head and said nothing. Below us, Daphne said her goodbyes to Nick, and went her own way. My eyelids sagged. It occurred to me that I hadn't slept lately.

"You know Oktober has gained quite a reputation?" Renard mused, almost speaking to himself.

"Have we now?"

"Mmm. You've left a quite vivid trail behind you. Starting that forest fire, the whole kidnapping mishap, killing the entire town of Light..."

"We only killed one person in light!"

"Apparently not. After you four left, the entire town turned into a puddle. No bones, no blood... just water, everywhere."

"Yeah... Light wasn't really our style..."

"But obviously your exploits haven't gone unnoticed. You have a very... enthusiastic fan club, believe it or not." I raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah?"

"There are entire websites dedicated to you kids. Mostly thrown together by crazies and conspiracy theorists. They've traced your trail of destruction all the way to... well to Light at which point you fell off the radar. It's how I found out you were being pursued by Rousseau International as well. Some redneck found the ruins of the helicopter you took down a while ago? I forget where it was... Anyway some redneck found it and took some pictures, and someone from the Oktober fan club found them. They managed to identify it as a chopper made by Rousseau International, and, this being a community of "the Moon landing was faked" types, wildly jumped to the conclusion you were being chased."

"Hmm. Clever kids."

"So, seeing as I was in a similar predicament, Rousseau Agents torching my apartment a few weeks earlier and all, I decided to hunt you children down. I was pretty successful, until Light. You disappeared without a trace. Your tire tracks literally made it to the limits of the town, then disappeared into nothing. Luckily, right as I was about to give up hope, you all popped up in Gettysburg, and I happened to be only about fifty miles away. I was able to track you all the way to New York."

"Your timing was impeccable, by the way. Scylla was about to repaint the floor of that cafe. With our brains. Shame you had to wreck your Ferrari though... Have you had that since Vegas?"

"Nah. That was my third since then."

"... Third?"

"Yeah. You wouldn't believe how many people leave their keys in the ignition by accident."

"What happened to the other two?"

"Freight train. Twice."

"... Twice?"

"Yeah, let's not dwell on how that happened."

We sat in silence again for a few minutes. Staring up at the stars. Without the industrial lights and pollution of the city, the sky was dazzling. The stars stretched from horizon to horizon, glowing brilliantly, and below us, the ocean mirrored them. I lowered my gaze, now looking at where the moon hovered above its reflection on the horizon. A black maw, fangs like ink, poked out of the water for a split second before receding back into the tar.

"Oh what the hell was that," I cried, staggering backwards. Renard turned to me, a confused expression painted across his face.

"What?" Renard asked. I didn't get a chance to respond. Something big hit the ship. BIG. Something massive hit the ship. Hard. The metal creaked, and the entire ship was thrown to the side. The deck was at a 45 degree angle. Cargo that wasn't secured began to slide, and Renard and I had to cling to the rail to stay upright. Expression Renard was wearing was one of the most genuine displays of shock I've seen in my life. I'm willing to bet mine was priceless.

The ship began to tilt back in the other direction, and then back again, repeating the process until it evened out like some sort of bastardized, gargantuan weeble. Renard and I stood stock still for what felt like hours. My eyes stayed locked on the horizon. A huge dorsal fin rose from the water, roughly the size of a four story building.

"... What?" Renard yelled suddenly. He was looking at the same exact point as I was.

"Was that a fin."

"Yes."

"Do you think whatever it belonged to hit the boat."

"... Most likely."

Neither of us said anything for another decade or so.

"Should we share this with Matthias or Daphne?"

"I believe that course of action would be wise," Renard replied.

"You don't think that was a fish was it?"

"Ever heard of the bloop?"

"No."

"It's this sound... really low-frequency. They recorded it off the tip of South America. It was organic, and loud. Whatever made it must've been huge, and old."

"I don't follow."

"I think we found it."

"... Oh."

"We're going to die."




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