Baywatch: Rutnarura

Short Story by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997


As the crimson sun sank into the Pacific Ocean, its shimmering corona obscured behind the thick brown haze of smog, Carlos paid the view no attention. He hammered the shiny new nails into freshly-cut floor boards to the soft rhythm of the lapping water that ebbed and flowed along the sandy beach, a mere 10 yards from the open-air porch where he was working. The other workers had left for the day already, leaving him alone to finish the job. It wasn't that the other fellows on the crew were lazy. They had put in a full days work, having started at six in the morning. No, Carlos stayed because he took pride in his work. Carpentry was a gift, and this was his way for showing his appreciation. Another hour, and he would be done.

"Carlos, you still here?" a man's voice called out behind him.

Carlos stopped his hammering and turned around. "Senor Buchanan!" Carlos replied to the tall muscular man with the curly brown hair.

"Mitch... call me Mitch. I thought everyone had left already," Mitch said, his hands in his red lifeguard pullover.

"Si... they all went to get some bieros. I still have much work to do to get this house ready for the kids," Carlos said.

"You and your crew have done a wonderful job. Finally, we'll be able to get those orphans out of the inner city and get some fresh ocean air," Mitch said.

"Yes, Mitch. I want to do my best for all those children. We put up a new wall in the kitchen, repainted the washrooms, and I'm just finishing up with new floorboards for the porch," Carlos said proudly.

"But you should go home. You can finish this tomorrow," Mitch said.

"Si... just a little longer," Carlos said.

The quiet ambiance was disturbed by the crackle of Mitch's two-way radio. Mitch pulled the radio out of his pocket and said, "Mitch here."

A raspy voice barked over the speaker, "Mitch... we got a problem by the marina... we've got a drunk and disorderly."

"I'm on my way," Mitch answered.

Mitch leapt off the porch, landing on the soft sand, still warm from the sun's rays. "Duty calls Carlos. I'll see you tomorrow," Mitch shouted as he ran off to his pickup.

Carlos waved good-bye and returned to his hammering. He checked his watch. It was past nine. Ten more minutes and he would go.

He had hammered for a little while, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw something shimmering in the darkness. He stopped his work and looked up. In the distance, on the still waters of the ocean, there was a bright white light. Carlos strained his eyes to make out what it was. Whatever it was, it was heading towards shore. Carlos stood there, transfixed by the shimmering light on the water. As it drew closer, the visual stimuli created a perception in his mind of the outline of a boat. But it was unlike any boat he had seen before. For one thing, it was surrounded by an unnatural white glow. The large triangular sail straddled two pontoons, which were secured by two crossbeams. "My god..." Carlos uttered silently, "Rutnarura."

The floor creaked behind him. Carlos spun around and screamed at what he saw...

Some people stand in the darkness,
Afraid to step into the light.
Some people need to have somebody,
At the edge of surrender inside.
Don't you worry,
It's going to be alright.
Cause I'm always there,
And won't let you out of my sight.
I'll be ready (I'll be ready).
Never you fear (don't you fear).
Forever, if always,
I'm always here.
Cause I'm always there,
And won't let you out of my sight.
I'll be ready (I'll be ready).
Never you fear (don't you fear).
Forever, if always,
I'm always here.

APRIL 17 1996, 7:30 A.M.

Mitch drank his morning coffee as he rested against the wooden railing that lined the boardwalk, allowing the gentle sea breezes to caress his bronzed face. It was early in the morning, and the beach was empty, except for the die-hard sunworshippers who came early to stake out their territory on the sand. Another day in Los Angeles county, he thought to himself.

"There you are," a woman's voice called out.

One of the lifeguards in his team, Shoni, came up to where Mitch was standing, and rested the bright orange flotation device in her right hand on the railing.

"What's up Shoni?" Mitch said to his blonde co-worker.

"There's a problem with the new orphanage," Shoni said.

"What sort of problem?"

"Carlos' crew didn't show up to work."

"What's Carlos doing about it?"

"Carlos stayed at home, too. He was babbling about something, I couldn't really make any sense of what he was saying. And his crew doesn't even want to set foot any where near the property."

"Then I guess I better talk to him," Mitch said, as he sipped the last drop of his coffee.

Mitch rapped his fingers on the door of the apartment. He heard some shuffling noises from behind the door. The door opened slowly, and Carlos' face appeared in the crack. His face was ashen, and his lips were trembling. "May I come in Carlos?" Mitch asked.

Carlos reluctantly opened the door and Mitch went inside.

Captain Thorpe, decked out in his freshly-pressed and starched white uniform, his hat tucked firmly underneath his right arm, marched into Mitch's office. Mitch, who was on the phone, acknowledged his arrival. "Listen, I'll call you back," Mitch said to the other party on the line, and then hung up.

"Mr. Buchanan, I have heard some disturbing news about the orphanage, which is due to open next week. What's this I hear of the renovation work stopping?" Thorpe said in his faux English accent.

"Yes Captain Thorpe, it's true. Carlos and his crew won't set foot anywhere near the house."

"And why, might I ask?"

"I spoke to Carlos this morning, and he's convinced that the house is haunted."

"Haunted? Since when?"

"Last night, after I went to check on that DnD at the marina, Carlos said that he saw a 'ghost ship' coming towards shore. A couple of minutes later, he heard a noise behind him, and turned around. That was when he saw the ghost."

"A ghost?"

"That's what he said."

"Has anyone checked this out?"

"I went by the house this morning. I saw where Carlos had been working, but I didn't see or hear anything that would substantiate his story."

"With the orphanage due to open up next week, we can't sit around. We must do something to get Carlos back to work!"

"We'll need to do some type of investigation, if only to allay Carlos' fears."

"What do you have in mind?"

"There's this girl I used to date a while ago, and this sounds like something up her alley. If you like, I could give her a ring."

"Do it! And keep me informed."

As Thorpe marched out of the office, Mitch checked his rolodex for the phone number, which had long ago faded from his mind. He found the small cream-colored card with the phone number and dialed. Several rings later, the line picked up.

"Hello," the voice on the other end said, "this is Special Agent Dana Scully of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I'll be in Senate Committee Hearings all day but I will be checking messages throughout the day. So if you leave me a detailed message, I'll return your call as soon as possible."

Mitch hung up the phone. Now what?

The green and white van pulled up into the last parking space along the boardwalk and the passengers spilled out. The driver, a tall blond man with an orange scarf tied around his neck over his white shirt, was the first one out. "Can you smell the sea breezes, Daphne?" he exclaimed as he inhaled deeply.

"Yes Fred, and I can't wait to work on my tan," Daphne, the woman in the purple dress, said as she looked at the bronzed bodies lying in the sand.

Another woman, in an orange sweater and wearing thick glasses, came out of the passenger side of the van, and stretched, exclaiming, "I hear there are a lot of good museums in Los Angeles."

"Oh Velma, is that all you think about?" Daphne teased.

A tall lanky fellow with a goatee ran out of the back of the van carrying a surfboard. A large dog, a great Dane, was not far behind. He pulled off his green shirt, exposing his thin and pale build, as he continued to run. "Last one in is a rotten egg!" he called out, making a bee-line for the water.

"That Shaggy," Fred chuckled.

"Rooby dooby roo," was the noise the dog made as it chased Shaggy through the beach.

PHAM LEE JEWELRY, APRIL 17 1996, 12:30 P.M.

"In and out, and nobody gets hurt," Seth Gecko said firmly to his less-intelligent brother Richie.

His bespectacled beady-eyed accomplice in the passenger seat nodded. "We go in, get the stuff, and leave," Richie confirmed in a soft-spoken voice. Seth smiled and slapped Richie affectionately on the cheek. "Just as usual, I'll get the merchandise, and you do crowd control. Now let's get this over with," Seth added.

The matching pair, decked out in post-Pulp mode, exited the 70s muscle car and headed towards the nondescript jewelry store that faced the main road that ran along the boardwalk.

"Those are nice," Shoni said as she pointed to the matching gold earrings in the display case.

Eddy feigned interest, oblivious to the hints his girlfriend was dropping. "Don't you think they're nice, Eddie?" she asked again.

"They're okay," Eddie said noncommittally.

"How much time do we have left?" Shoni asked.

Eddie looked at his wristwatch and replied, "Just under ten minutes. We should head back before Mitch gets mad."

"Oh..." Shoni moaned.

"What's wrong?" Eddie asked.

"I feel sick," Shoni said.

"I told you not to drink that stuff," Eddie chastised, pointing at the small bottle of green sugar-rich liquid in her hand.

"It's not from that," Shoni retorted.

"Then what?"

"I didn't buy anything."

"You're sick because you went shopping and didn't buy anything?"

Shoni nodded her head.

Seth entered first, pushing open the door with the metal bars that jingled every time the door opened. The inside of the store was awash in white and polished silver, save for the neon-orange 'Clearance Sale' signs that hung ubiquitously along the walls and fixtures. Soft non-threatening muzac floated through the air. The Vietnameses proprietor was reading a newspaper by the cash register, and there were two customers, dressed in lifeguard jackets, looking at one of the display cases. Richie flipped over the 'Open' sign that hung in the door and locked it. Seth pulled out his hand cannon and noisily destroyed the two security cameras that recorded all comings and goings. He then swiveled around and pointed it at the proprietor. The proprietor stood up in a start, dropping his newspaper.

"Ease it back down or I put a bullet in your face," Seth ordered as he cocked his .44 revolver.

Richie whipped out his 9mm and pointed it at the couple by the display case, and motioned them to move next to the proprietor. They obliged without a word, moving quickly to a position by the cash register. "Now that I have your attention, Mr. Lee, you will open up your safe and hand over to me the half-million dollars worth of diamonds that you keep on the premises," Seth said calmly.

"What diamonds?" Lee said, playing dumb.

"Don't give me that flippin' load of B.S! If you do as I say, no one will get hurt and we will be on our way. If you don't do as I say, my brother and I will have a freakin' hissy-fit. Understand?" Seth said.

The proprietor nodded his head hesitantly, and backed away from the cash register towards the safe. Seth turned towards the young couple and warned, "Sorry for the inconvenience, but if you don't make a noise or do something stupid, I give you my word that you will come out of this unhurt. So be cool-- be very cool."

Shoni and Eddie nodded silently. "Good," Seth said, "Richie-- keep an eye on them."

Seth turned to head off to the back office, where the diamonds were kept. Shoni looked to Richie, who stood motionless, staring at her in an odd sort of way. Shoni looked away, trying her best not to make eye contact. "I've seen you before. You look kinda familiar," Richie said quietly.

"Leave us alone," Eddie replied.

"I wasn't talking to you!" Richie said calmly.

"It's okay Eddie..." Shoni said tensely, not wanting any trouble.

Richie thought for a moment and then answered, "I know where I saw you... it was when I was working at the video store... you look like that chick that was in 'Under Siege'."

"Oh, I see," Shoni said, not knowing what to make of that comment.

"What's in the bottle?" Richie asked, motioning towards the green liquid in Shoni's hand.

Shoni looked at the bottle and replied, "This? Umm... Kool-aid."

"Cool... it's so green. What flavor is it?"

"Lemon-lime, I think."

"You like it?"

"Uh... yes. It tastes pretty good."

"Is it really pennies per glass, like they say?"

"Well, yes it is... one small packet will fill six of these bottles."

"And how much is one of these packets?"

"Twenty-five cents."

"Twenty-five cents? Cool. So all you do is just add water to the packet."

"Not quite... um, there's only flavoring and color inside. You have to add your own sugar."

Richie stood up straight, causing Eddie and Shoni to tense up. "That sucks!" Richie ranted, "So I have to go out and buy some sugar to add to it? That's freakin' inconvenient. Why can't they make an all-in-one-product that already has the sugar?"

"They do... actually."

"I'd go for that."

"But it's more expensive."

"But I would gladly trade-off cost for convenience. You see, I'm just part of that growing consumer segment that values convenience over low cost, paying the extra price for the instant gratification."

"But is it really worth the extra cost to have that convenience?"

"What do you mean?"

"It's just that this type of thinking is just an extension of the disposable society. It may seem glamorous, but in reality, it is quite a hollow existence when you really think about it."

"How's that?"

"For example, I prefer to bake a cake from scratch than buying one already made from a store. You may have to put some effort into it, but in the end it still is cheaper. And I think one of the good things about it is that I don't miss out on the experience. You know, the actual experience is what a lot of people miss out on these days in the drive for convenience."

"I see your point, but still, convenience is very tempting..."

"I know it is... a lot of people think that way... but the extra cost you pay to have that convenience is not sustainable. Pretty soon the extra carrying cost becomes intolerable and something's gotta give."

"I told you to watch them, not have a flippin' conversation with them!" Seth shouted as he marched back into the showroom with a small velvet pouch.

"Sorry Seth... just passing time," Richie apologized.

"Well it's time to go... everyone on the floor!" Seth ordered.

The two lifeguards and the proprietor got down onto the carpet that hadn't been shampooed in years, and waited fearfully. "Now my brother and I are going to leave now. Nobody move for five minutes... understand?" Seth said.

The Gecko brothers hopped into their late model Chevy and screeched noisily away. "We did it!" Richie exclaimed.

"Not yet," Seth said gravely, catching a glimpse of the red and white lights of an LAPD cruiser in the rearview mirror.

Richie looked back, and chambered his semi-automatic. The wail of the siren grew louder as the squad car closed in on them. Richie rolled down his window and stuck his head out and aimed at the pursuer. With each staccato press of the trigger, a loud bang erupted from the end of the barrel. Spider-web blotches appeared on the front windshield of the squad car as each slug made contact. But the police car unerringly stayed on its course. "Those pigs are still on our asses!" Richie shouted.

"Forget them! Forget'em all!" Seth shouted back.

Richie turned his head and saw the dump truck blocking the thoroughfare. "Look out!" he shouted.

Seth violently lurched the steering wheel, and the Gecko getaway vehicle climbed the curb onto the sidewalk, barely missing the dump truck. The police car, however, was not as fortunate. The driver hit the brakes, smoking the squad car to a standstill, but not before its front end crumpled underneath the dump truck, where it came to rest.

"What's that noise?" Daphne asked as she sunned herself on the warm sand.

"Hmm... sounds like a car crash," Fred replied, looking back towards the street.

"Pineapples! Oranges! A whole cartload of fresh fruits on the sidewalk for no good or convincing reason!" the fruit vendor with the straw hat belted out in song.

A loud roar erupted in the distance. The vendor turned to the source of the noise, and saw the crowd of pedestrians shouting and clearing a path for something that was rapidly approaching. The last of the crowd thinned out and he saw the front grill of the oncoming car.

"Whoa!" he exclaimed as he barely jumped out of the way in time as the Gecko's getaway car clipped the edge of the fruit cart, tipping it over and spilling its contents onto the sidewalk.

"It's getting louder," Fred remarked.

A red car skidded around a corner, its tires screeching in protest, the tires unable to grip the pavement, and plowed into a group of parked cars. "Jeepers! Our van!" Daphne shouted.

Too late. The red car slammed noisily into the back of the green and white van, leaving a sizable dent. "Hey!" Fred yelled as he ran towards the carnage.

The red car backed up quickly and then leapt off again down the street, disappearing into the distance. Fred was the first to see the damage that had been done. The right rear quarter of the van was crushed, making it undriveable. "How bad is it?" Velma asked, out of breath from the twenty-yard sprint from the beach, with Daphne just behind her.

"Looks like we're going to be here a few more days," Fred said somberly.

A tall lifeguard waded through the gathering crowd of onlookers and approached the three youngsters. "Hi, I'm Mitch Buchanan of Baywatch... is everyone okay?" the man asked.

"We're fine, but our van is going to need a trip to the body shop," Fred answered.

"An impressive van I might add... The Mystery Machine," Mitch replied, as he read the painted design that decorated the side panels of the vehicle, "What does it mean?"

Velma stepped forward and answered, "This is actually the company vehicle of the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency. I'm Velma... this is Fred... and this is Daphne."

Fred and Daphne nodded. "We also have two other members, but they went surfing somewhere..." Daphne continued.

"A tall skinny fellow and a dog?" Mitch asked.

"Yes... how did you know?" Daphne replied.

"Rescue One just fished them out of the water downshore," Mitch said.

"Are they alright?" Velma asked.

"They're fine. Only their pride was hurt," Mitch said, "so you're detectives, hmmm."

"You know of someone with a mystery in need of solving?" Fred said.

"Actually, I do," Mitch said, "we're opening up an orphanage in an old house that appears to be haunted."

"Great! That will give us something to do while we wait for the Mystery Machine to get fixed!" Fred exclaimed.

A few yards away, the crowd, distracted by the hit-and-run, failed to notice the four oddly-dressed strangers walking along the boardwalk. The woman, who seemed to be the leader of the group, had reddish-brown hair tied up in a bun. The man next to her was a tall Native American, hair cropped short, and a distinctive blue tattoo over his left eye. Behind them was a fresh-faced blond-haired man in his twenties, and an African American with a colorful bandanna conspicuously covering his ears. "You know Captain, isn't it amazing how little effect the Eugenics Wars had on this part of the world?" the Native American remarked.

"Yes, Chakotay," the woman replied to her First Officer, "the tyranny of Khan Noonien Singh must have been restricted only to the Eurasian continent."

"Either than or the people of this time period had greater ingenuity than we give them credit for, being able to rebuild their infrastructure rapidly after the end of that devastating war," Chakotay added.

"Intruiging," the Captain replied, before turning to the African American, "Mr. Tuvok, any signs of residual temporal distortions?"

"I am detecting faint traces of dekion particles, Captain," Tuvok answered, as he examined his tricorder, "thirty degrees from our current heading at a distance of two hundred meters."

"Good... perhaps now we'll get some answers as to how Voyager causes a supposed cataclysm in the twenty-ninth century," Chakotay said.

"Voyager to Captain Janeway," a voice called out.

The Captain tapped her comm badge, a gold and silver emblem fastened to her lapel, and replied, "Janeway here. What is it Ensign Kim?"

The Operations Officer, temporarily in command of the USS Voyager in an elliptical orbit above the planet, answered, "Captain, we are receiving a transmission from the surface. It appears we have been detected."

"Can you isolate the source of the transmission?" Janeway said.

"I will download the coordinates to Tuvok's tricorder," Kim replied.

"We'll investigate from our end. Janeway out," the Captain said, before tapping her comm badge once again.

"Lt. Paris and Lt. Tuvok," she said, turning to her Navigational Officer and Head of Security, "try and find out who is sending that signal to Voyager. Commander Chakotay and I will continue to try and find the timeship. Keep me informed if you find anything."

"Aye, Captain," Paris acknowledged.

"We lost those pigs!" Richie exclaimed.

"Good... now let's get off the flippin' road before we attract any more attention," Seth said, "I just want to lay low until our rendezvous, and then we'll get paid."

Seth turned off the main road and onto an unpaved trail that lead towards the beach.

APRIL 17 1996, 1:00 P.M.

The tow truck lifted up the tail end of the Mystery Machine in preparation for towing, just as a light blue Ford Taurus pulled to the curb. A middle-aged man stepped out of the driver's seat, and helped his two passengers out. Mitch recognized the passengers, Eddy and Shoni, his two best lifeguards. The man approached, his dark hair and penetrating gaze betraying his Italian heritage. "Lt. Mitch Buchanan?" the man asked gruffly.

"That's me," Mitch acknowledged.

The man pulled out a leather case from his jacket pocket and flashed his badge. "I'm Detective Vincent Hanna of the LAPD Heist Squad," the man said in a no-nonsense manner.

"Hanna... oh yes... you're the one that took down Neil McCauley and his crew that held up the downtown First National Bank," Mitch said, with a glimmer of recognition.

"Obviously my reputation precedes me," Vincent replied.

"I saw footage of the shoot-out on the news... I couldn't believe it was going on right in the middle of lunch hour," Mitch remarked.

"That was a tragedy... a lot of innocent people got hurt that day," Vincent reminisced.

"If I'm not mistaken, didn't you retire just after you caught McCauley?" Mitch asked.

"Semi-retired is the more appropriate term... I just do a little bit to keep from going crazy," Vincent replied.

And if he hadn't done that, he would be even crazier by now. That screwed-up-miserable-excuse-for-a-pathetic-man that he was. Neil McCauley was the least of his problems. First Justine, his Prozac-popping wife was stabbing him in the back and then Lauren, his messed up stepdaughter tried to kill herself. And who was to blame? Yours truly. It was funny, despite McCauley being his nemesis in the cat-and-mouse game of epic proportions, it was he who gave him the one true insight out of that whole year, over a cup of coffee one late night six months ago.

"A guy told me one time 'don't let yourself get attached to anything that you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner'," Neil had said to him in the noisy restaurant, "now, if you're around me and gotta move when I move, how do you expect to keep... a marriage?"

"Well, that's an interesting point," Vincent had answered, "What are you... a monk?"

Neil merely smirked and replied, "I got a woman."

"What do you tell her?"

"I tell her I'm a salesman."

"So then, if you spot me coming 'round that corner, you're just going to walk out on this woman... not say good-bye?"

"That's the discipline," Neil had said with conviction.

"That's pretty big."

"It is what it is. It's that or we both better do something else, pal."

At the time, Neil McCauley's words had no meaning to him. But not long after, the meaning was clear. After the mid-day bank heist, he had finally tracked down Neil again by a runway at LAX, and in a split-second decision, had pumped four bullets into Neil's chest. As Neil lay dying from several bullet wounds, vacillating between the light and dark underneath the landing lights of the runway, he had said defiantly, "Told you I'm never going back."

And in that empty airfield, with the hustle of the domestic and international flights screeching in the background, Vincent had held this man's hand as he passed away. There was no one to remember him, nor to mourn for him, except for the one who had ended his life. It was at that moment that Vincent saw the emptiness in his own life, much like that of his late adversary, an isolated existence that had sacrificed everything for the attainment of a single goal. He had always said that 'all he was what he was going after'. But at what cost? He was not going to end up like another Neil McCauley. Justine needed him. Lauren needed him. And as he walked away from the still form of his former adversary, he knew what he had to do. So he let someone else have all the glory, going after the really big crews. And in return, he was there for Justine and Lauren. And they were there for him...

"Excuse me, Detective Hanna," Mitch interrupted, "but your reminiscence has exceeded the average attention span of our target audience."

"Oh, sorry, I forgot where I was," Vincent said.

"Now, if this were the X-Files..." Mitch added.

"That's alright," Vincent said reassuringly.

Stealing a glance at the van that was about to be towed away, Vincent continued, "The reason why I'm here is that two of your employees witnessed a heist at a local jewelry store that netted the thieves a substantial amount of cut diamonds and it seems that the culprits passed by here during their escape. I'd like to take your two employees downtown to look at some mugshots, as well as anyone here who may have seen the culprits during the accident.."

"By all means, Detective Hanna. I didn't arrive on the scene till after the fact, but you might want to talk to those youngsters over there. I'm sure they saw something, because they run their own detective agency," Mitch said, pointing to his new-found acquaintances, "and it was their van that the suspects crashed into."

"Thank you," Vincent said as he wandered towards the three pointed out by Mitch.

"Hi, I'm Detective Hanna. Lt. Buchanan over there tells me that you kids are detectives?" Vincent said, introducing himself.

"Yes, sir. The Scooby-Doo Detective Agency at your service," Fred said, "I'm Fred Jones, this is Daphne Blake, and Velma Dinkley."

"Nice to know your acquaintance," Vincent replied, "now did any of you get a good look at the two suspects in the vehicle that hit your van?"

"I saw the whole thing!" Daphne said.

"Well Daphne, do you mind coming down to the station and looking at some mugshots?" Vincent invited.

"Sure... but what about you guys?" Daphne answered, shooting a glance at her friends.

"Don't worry," Fred replied, "Velma and I will wait for Shaggy and Scoob and then go help Lt. Buchanan solve the mystery of the haunted orphanage. You can catch up with us when you get back."

APRIL 17 1996, 2:30 P.M.

Mitch's pick-up truck came to a stop in front of the sinister-looking old house that was to be the orphanage, and the passengers disembarked. Velma and Fred squeezed out of the passenger side while Shaggy and Scooby hopped out the back. "There it is," Mitch exclaimed, pointing to the house, "the future home of the Los Angeles Baywatch Orphanage. If we don't get to the bottom of this by the end of the week, there are going to be a lot of disappointed kids."

"Don't worry Mr. Buchanan," Fred said reassuringly, "you can count on the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency!"

"You are those kids' only hope. My friends at the FBI in something called the 'X-Files' aren't available," Mitch said.

"We're better than the X-Files, Mr. Buchanan," Fred boasted, "where they take an hour to solve something, we'll solve it in half in the time!"

"Do you mind if we go inside and search for clues?" Velma asked.

"By all means," Mitch said, "do what you have to do."

"Velma and Fred," Shaggy interjected in his perpetual pre-pubescent voice, "Scoob and I volunteer to inspect the kitchen."

Scooby lifted his paw over his brow in a salute and the two of them dashed off. "Be careful!" Velma called out.

"Don't worry about us!" Shaggy called back.

"So what did the foreman say he saw?" Fred asked.

Mitch stepped onto the porch and turned to face the ocean. "He was working here, facing the ocean, when he saw a boat on the water out there," Mitch said.

"A boat?" Velma inquired.

"He said that it had a white glow all about it, and a big triangular sail. He was watching it for a few moments, when he heard a noise from behind. When he turned around, he saw the ghost," Mitch said.

"Did he describe the ghost?" Velma said.

"He said, like the boat, it had a white glow all around it. It was a man in a large wooden mask, carrying a spear. He mentioned something about a necklace of small skulls around its neck... oh, he said that he had heard of this ghost before, but never thought that he would see it in real life... what did he call it... Rutnarura?" Mitch said.

"Hmm... haven't heard of that one before," Fred mused, scratching his chin.

"Rutnarura's a big legend in these parts," a scraggly voice said.

Mitch, Velma, and Fred turned around to face the old man with the dirty grey-streaked hair in the khaki uniform. "Mr. Peabody," Mitch called out, recognizing one of the sanitation engineers under the employ of the City of Los Angeles.

"Don't be a danged fool and mess around with things you don't understand!" Peabody warned ominously.

The junior detective waded through the crowded precinct office with the thick manila file, making his way to the desk of Detective Vincent Hanna. "Sir," the junior detective said, "we've got a positive ID on the suspects from the witnesses. It's all in here."

The thick manila file landed on the desk in front of Vincent, who quickly opened it. "The ringleader is Seth Gecko, with an extensive laundry list. There's an outstanding warrant for his part in a bank robbery in Scott City, Kansas back in '88," the junior detective reported.

"Gecko... why does that name sound familiar?" Vincent pondered.

"You've probably heard of Seth Gecko's older brother, Gordon. The one who was involved in that big insider-trading scam back in the late eighties," the junior detective said.

"Oh yes... I remember now. Further proof that criminal tendencies are genetic," Vincent said, flipping through the other half of the file, "What about geek boy here? What's his story?"

"A real sick puppy, the youngest brother of the Gecko clan, Richard. Wanted for sexual deviancy and various felonies in four states," the junior detective said.

"They're a long way out of their own backyard," Vincent said, "what are they doing all the way out here in California?"

"Trying to stay ahead of the Rangers, perhaps?"

"But they would know that a warrant in Kansas is valid here. And if they were trying to head for the border, it would make a lot more sense to go by Texas. Something's screwed up somewhere."

"Maybe they want to set up shop permanently here."

Vincent quickly scanned the list of offenses for both brothers and remarked, "This heist doesn't fit the profile of their typical job either. Liquor stores, banks, gas stations... they usually go after places that have lots of cash lying around. The Pham Lee Jewelry job is unlike anything they've done before... the M.O. is different. Taking goods is not the same as cash... I want APBs on these two and word put out on all our informants to work the fences. These chuckleheads are sitting on half a million in diamonds, and they probably have a buyer lined up. A high-profile gig like this will probably attract some attention. And maybe put some surveillance teams on any potential buyers that deal in this type of merchandise. I want to be on top of them when they move."

The junior detective acknowledged the request and left.

The beach was filling up now, with the warmth of the afternoon sun beating down like an open fire grill. The beach was packed with a statistically-improbable combination of perfectly-proportion youthful bodies engaged in various outdoor activities, which ranged from beach volleyball to slow-motion applications of sun tan lotion. However, by the soon-to-be Los Angeles Baywatch Orphanage, the beach was deserted, with word of the haunting having spread to the beachgoing population.

"What can you tell us about these hauntings, Mr. Peabody?" Velma asked.

"Rutnarura is an old spirit," Peabody started, "that has been here for almost a thousand years. He was a warrior, the leader of his clan, that lived on what we now call Easter Island. It was his people that built the stone heads that are all that remain on the island now. The people were starving and the two clans that ruled the island had been fighting for many years, neither side gaining advantage over the other. So Rutnarura decided to set out in a boat to find a new home for his clan. He sailed for many weeks, but he did not reach landfall. Finally, when he was near dying from starvation, thick clouds covered the sky and the sea began to churn. His boat was destroyed, but he managed to cling to a piece of the wreckage, where he drifted to shore, landing on this beach. He spent the rest of his days here, longing to return home to his people. And it is said that sometimes, late at night, you can still see him wandering up and down the shore, looking back towards Easter Island."

"Wow, that is some story," Fred said.

"But Mr. Peabody, no one has ever found any evidence of settlements in the Los Angeles county area," Mitch countered.

"The fellows working on this house did," Peabody answered.

"They did?" Fred, Velma, and Mitch said in unison.

"Here, I'll show you," Peabody said.

He led them around the back of the house and they came to a clearing where a hole had been excavated. Fred hopped into the depression and reached down to pick something up. "What is it Fred?" Velma asked.

Fred stood up straight and held up what he had found. "What is it?" Mitch asked.

"It looks like some kind of a talisman," Velma remarked.

The object was less than a small replica of the monolithic stone heads on Easter Island, roughly carved out of stone. "Rutnarura," Peabody said.

Shaggy poked his head into the soft white electric glow of the refrigerator, and began pulling items from the lavish spread, piling them into Scooby's outstretched paws. "We certainly can't do some investigatin' without some grub, right Scooby?" Shaggy said.

Scooby giggled as he watched one of Shaggy's world-famous quadruple-decker sandwiches take form. It would be a shame to let all this good food go to waste. He and Shaggy always had this sixth sense when it came to food-- it didn't matter where they found themselves, whether it was an abandoned amusement park or a derelict pirate ship in the middle of the ocean-- they could always sniff out a well-stocked fridge.

The floor creaked behind Scooby, causing him to turn around. A six-foot tall apparition stood silently within arms reach. Bathed in an unearthly halo, it slowly reached out towards Scooby with its left hand. Its face was hidden by a large elliptical wooden mask. The carving of the mouth was twisted downwards, giving it a sinister look, especially with the jagged teeth and the large ornamental tongue that jutted out at an angle. The eyebrows were in a perpetual frown over the slit-like eyes. In its right hand was a long spear, with a pointy metal tip. Around its neck was a necklace of small skulls, possibly marsupial in origin.

Scooby dropped the foundation of the quadruple-decker sandwich onto the ground and tapped Shaggy nervously on the shoulder. Shaggy merely ignored him as he was opening up each of the clear Tupperware containers at the back of the fridge, looking for something that had not either pulled itself from the edge of the container in which it sat or had grown any hair. "Shaggy..." Scooby mumbled.

"Yeah, Scoob... just checking what's back here," Shaggy said.

Scooby tapped his friend on the shoulder even harder, until Shaggy finally pulled his head out of the refrigerator. "What is it, Scoob?" he asked.

Shaggy did a double-take as soon as his eyes fell across the apparition. "Zoinks! Let's get outta here!" Shaggy said.

"Okree dokree," Scooby replied.

They took off in a start, screaming in horror, and ran out of the kitchen.

"What's that odd high-pitched noise?" Mitch asked.

"It sounds like Shaggy and Scooby. They must have found something," Fred said.

"Help!" Shaggy screamed as he and Scooby ran out of the house, straight into Fred, "Ghost... kitchen...!".

"Whoa! Slow down Shag... what happened?" Fred asked.

Shaggy caught his breath and said, "It's inside... we saw it!"

"Sounds like he had a run-in with Rutnarura," Peabody said.

"Then let's go check it out!" Fred said excitedly.

"Oh no... no thank you!" Shaggy said, with Scooby shaking his head in agreement.

"C'mon Shag and Scoob... I want to see!" Velma said.

Shaggy and Scooby remained adamant. "Give you each a Scooby Snack," Velma offered enticingly.

Their insatiable appetite got the best of both of them, and as they opened their mouths, and Velma tossed them each a Scooby Snack. After savoring the delicious treats, Shaggy and Scooby led the group back into the house towards the kitchen.

The kitchen was the way Shaggy and Scooby had left it. The scattered remnants of the would-be quadruple-decker sandwich lay in shambles on the hardwood floor, and the door of the refrigerator was still swung open, letting the cold diffuse into the warm humid air of the kitchen. The kitchen itself was a mess. A thick layer of dust covered the floor and all the countertops. The rusted sink was caked with mildew and the dried carcasses of dead insects. A half-full garbage can sat in one corner, next to a couple of plastic gasoline containers and a ratchet set.

"Yes... it's a mess. Carlos' crew was supposed to finish up the kitchen tomorrow... there's so much junk that's collected here over the years," Mitch apologized.

"The house has it's own power supply, right?" Velma inquired.

"Yes it does... why do you ask?" Mitch said.

"Just wondering," Velma said.

"And you saw the ghost in here?" Fred asked.

"I tell you, we saw it... this Rutna... whatever. It was right here!" Shaggy said, with Scooby nodding in agreement.

"Well, there's nothing here now," Fred said.

"I was looking in the fridge, and Scooby was standing right next to me, and it was right behind Scooby!" Shaggy insisted.

"Well, where did it go then?" Mitch asked.

"Mitch, the door we came through... is that the only way in and out of this house?" Velma asked.

"Hmmm," Mitch thought, "there was a back door, but that's been boarded up. Yes, the way we came in is the only way in and out."

"I get it!" Fred snapped his fingers, "so that's the only way in and out of the house. So if Rutnarura was in here, we would have seen him enter and exit!"

"But we didn't," Mitch said.

"Rutnarura is not constrained by the limitations of the physical world," Peabody added.

"There has to be a rational explanation," Velma said.

Velma pushed up her glasses and made a closer inspection of the floor where Shaggy had said that Rutnarura was standing. "Jinkies!" she exclaimed.

"What is it, Velma?" Fred asked.

Just then, the sun came shining through the kitchen window, hitting the floor at an angle, and everyone saw what Velma was excited about. There in the dust that was matted to the hardwood floor, was the distinct outline of a footprint that did not belong to either Shaggy or Scooby.

APRIL 17 1996, 9:00 P.M.

The five members of the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency approached the dark house from the main road. The sun had already sank below the horizon, and the stars twinkled overhead in the pitch black sky, save for the orange glow that illuminated the sky in the east, the result of the brush fires that burned out of control in the San Bernadino mountains. "It's so beautiful," Daphne said, looking up into the clear night sky.

"I think we've been here long enough," Shaggy said nervously.

"But we haven't seen the ghost yet," Fred said.

"Exactly," Shaggy replied.

"I don't see why we have to come here in the middle of the night," Shaggy complained.

"If we're going to get to the bottom of this mystery, we have to," Velma said.

"According to Mr. Peabody, this is when Rutnarura comes out," Fred added.

"Scoob and I have already seen him once, and that's more than enough!" Shaggy said.

"Jeepers!" Daphne exclaimed, "Look over there!"

"What is it Daphne?" Fred said.

Through one of the windows of the third floor, Fred saw a flicker of light. Something was up there. "Let's go investigate!" Fred said.

"If it's alright with you, Scoob and I will wait out here," Shaggy said.

"Stay here then... don't wander off," Fred said.

Velma, Daphne, and Fred headed into the house.

The three friends arrived at the landing immediately in front of the winding staircase that lead to the upper floors.

"Hear that?" Fred whispered.

"Someone's moving around up there," Velma said, hearing the creaking that Fred was referring to.

"Ow!" Daphne exclaimed.

"What's wrong Daphne?" Fred asked.

"I just pulled a muscle in my foot! Boy, does it smart," Daphne said, rubbing the back of ankle.

"Why don't you wait down here while Velma and I go upstairs?" Fred suggested.

"Yeah, I don't think I'll be climbing any stairs right now," Daphne said.

"We'll be back, don't disappear or anything, okay?" Velma said.

They reached the third floor, where there were three doors that lead to the bedrooms. The one directly in front of Fred and Velma was the one that they could see from the beach. The creaking of the floors was definitely coming from that room. Fred and Velma put their backs against the wall and edged slowly towards the doorway. Fred peered around the corner and saw the figure in the dark room, carrying a flashlight. Fred jumped and tackled the stranger, who let out a yelp.

"Get off of me!" the stranger shouted.

Fred got up and turned the stranger around. Velma grabbed the flashlight that the stranger had dropped and illuminated his face. "Detective Hanna!" Fred and Velma exclaimed surprisedly.

Fred offered a hand and helped Vincent up. He brushed off his Hugo Boss jacket and said, "Don't ever do that again!"

"We thought you were Rutnarura?" Velma explained.

"Rutana-who?" Vincent queried.

"The ghost that is supposedly haunting this house," Velma replied.

"What are you doing here, Detective Hanna?" Fred asked.

"I was checking all abandoned buildings in the area... I found the getaway car of the Gecko brothers abandoned about ten minutes away from here," Vincent said.

"Oops, sorry," Fred apologized.

"Did you manage to find anything?" Velma asked.

"Not a thing. Not a goddamn thing. Those two chuckleheads seemed to have vanished into thin air," Vincent complained.

"Jeepers!" Daphne's voice cried out from downstairs.

"Daphne's in trouble!" Fred shouted, running out of the bedroom.

Fred, Velma, and Vincent flew down the staircase back to the ground floor. "Daphne?" they each called out.

But here was no answer. They were alone at the bottom of the staircase. "But she was just here," Velma said.

Fred ran to the front door of the house and shouted at Shaggy and Scooby, who were skipping rocks on the water. "Shag! Scoob! Is Daphne with you?"

"No... isn't she with you?" Shaggy shouted back.

Fred returned inside to see Vincent reach the ground floor. "You lose someone?" he asked.

"Our friend Daphne has disappeared!" Velma said.

"Are you sure she didn't wander off?" Vincent suggested.

"No... she was hurt. She would have stayed... unless something happened to her," Fred said.

"Fred... she may have very well been just a victim of bad writing and fallen into a plot hole, as part of the transition to the third act," Velma conjectured.

"You know, with her predisposition to stumbling into traps or being captured by the bad guys... it's very possible," Fred answered.

"Let me get a unit in here and see if we can find her," Vincent said.

APRIL 18 1996, 12:00 P.M.

Vincent drank the last of his coffee, which made him sweat even more under the afternoon sun, before tossing it into the waste receptacle by his parked Ford Taurus. He then walked purposefully towards the scene of the crime that had happened just over twenty-four hours prior, Pham Lee Jewelry.

The door jangled as he entered, and he saw the owner, Mr. Lee packing up the items in the display cases into travel cases. "Closing up?" Vincent asked.

Lee looked up and replied, "Hello, Detective Hanna... yes, I am. I've had enough of this city life. Too much crime. Too many guns."

"That's unfortunate... but I assure you Mr. Lee... I will catch the people that did this," Vincent said.

"No matter... time to retire anyways. So do you have any news," Lee replied.

"Not as yet. We found their getaway car, and are working on some leads. But there was a question I had for you that I forgot to ask yesterday," Vincent said.

"Shoot," Lee said.

"That was an excessively high level of inventory in diamonds that you were carrying-- half-a-million," Vincent said, looking in his notebook.

"Those diamonds were for export... I bought them wholesale and was going to ship them to my brother in Hong Kong who runs the parent store there. He has the biggest Pham Lee Jewelry in the world."

"Were they insured?"

"Of course... I could not ship them if I didn't."

"Well, that answers my questions. I hope you do stick around for a little while, just in case we do catch the thieves," Vincent concluded.

"I'll be here a few more days," Lee said.

The door jangled as two more people came in. Shoni entered first, with Velma just a couple of steps behind her. "Detective Hanna," Shoni said, "what are you doing here?".

"Just continuing the investigation on the robbery yesterday. I was just on my way out," Vincent answered.

"Any luck finding Daphne?" Velma asked.

"Not as yet... but we haven't given up yet. I have teams combing every inch of the beach and a house-to-house search," Vincent replied.

"I'm sure you're doing your best," Velma said.

"We'll find her... just give us some time. Now you'll have to excuse me... I have some work to do."

Vincent exited the store with another jangle. Shoni turned to Mr. Lee and said, "Everything back to normal, Mr. Lee, after all that excitement yesterday?"

"Almost... but I decided to retire. It's too dangerous here now. I think I'll go back to Hong Kong," Lee said.

"But this was just a one-time occurrence,"Shoni said.

"I know, that's what everyone says, but... I think this is best."

"That's too bad," Shoni said.

"Don't be glum... hey, who's your friend?" Lee said, noticing Velma.

"This is Velma Dinkley... she's one of the members of the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency," Shoni answered.

"A detective... then maybe you can find the men who stole my diamonds," Lee said.

APRIL 18 1996, 3:00 P.M.

Vincent entered the interrogation room and saw the Oriental man on the other side of the two-way mirror. He was dressed in a well-cut dark suit, sitting calmly in the straightback chair, puffing away on a cigarette. Vincent turned to the man that had paged him-- Detective Crane. Vincent had the opportunity to work with him in the past. He was a joker, though sometimes his humour pushed the limits of good taste, even though he meant well. "So who's this guy?" Vincent asked.

"Picked him up on a routine license plate check. He was driving a stolen Cherokee from the Napa Valley area. When we arrested him, we found these on him," Crane said.

Crane lifted up the small plastic ziploc evidence bag for Vincent to see. The two cut diamonds glittered in the dim light that leached through the mirror. "If I'm guessing correctly, this has to do with something you're investigating, doesn't it?" Crane asked.

"Have you already asked him about this?" Vincent said.

"I tried... but he's keeping his mouth shut. Makes me wonder, does he really speak English or what? Certainly is quiet," Crane said, looking back towards the prisoner in the other room.

"Let me give him a try," Vincent said.

Vincent entered the room and dismissed the officer guarding the prisoner. He pulled up another chair and sat directly opposite the Oriental man. "I'm Detective Hanna... and I want to know where you got these," he said, holding up the diamonds that they had confiscated from him when he was arrested.

The man just gave him a bored look, and continued puffing away. "This evidence relates you to a jewelry store heist that happened yesterday. Now if you don't talk, I'm going to throw the book at you for possession of stolen property. Now I don't think you're the buyer... looks to me like you're just the mule... bringing a sample for your boss to inspect. We're only interested in who you work for... not you," Vincent continued.

Still no response. A knock came at the door. Vincent got up and opened the door. It was Crane. "Vincent," he said, "just got a match for his prints from the NCIC database. Looks like this guy's been around."

Vincent took the rap sheet from Crane and closed the door. He sat down again with the prisoner and pored over the crisp white pages. "Says here that you're wanted by Interpol, Mr. Yue. I'm sure they'd be happy to get their hands on such a high profile criminal like you. Prostitution, racketeering, and extortion for the Vietnamese Mafia," Vincent said, "now I'm obligated to contact Interpol and begin extradition proceedings with you in my custody like a good little cop... or I could pretend that I never got this. The question is, what will you do for me?"

Mr. Yue sat up and took the cigarette from his mouth, and crushed it under his shoe on the scratched linoleum floor. "If I tell you the buyer... he will have me killed," Yue said.

"If Interpol gets their hands on you, for sure your boss will have you killed. So would you rather die incarcerated, or take your chance on the streets?"

"Okay, I'll talk."

"Good. Tell me the name of the buyer-- your boss."


"Who is your boss?"

"No.. it's not Hu-- it's Wut."



"What is your boss' name?"



"No, Wut is his last name."

"Hey, I'm the one asking the questions here."

"I just told you."

"Told me what?"


"Exactly what?"


"Then tell me his first name."


"Well... what's his first name?"

"No, Wut's his last name."

"Don't answer a question with a question. Just tell me his first name."


"Okay what?"

"You got it."

"Got what?"

"Okei Wut."

"Just tell me his name!"

"Okei Wut."

"You either start cooperating or I turn you over to Interpol!"

"But I am cooperating!"

"No you're not!"

"You asked me for his name, and I told you."

"Which is?"

"Okei Wut."

"I can see this is getting nowhere... can you tell me where the buy is going to take place then, if that's not too hard."

"They're meeting the sellers at the Marina tonight, around eleven o'clock. My boss will be there, plus his second-in-command."

"Who would that be?"

"Sum Yung Chik."

"And what's her name?"

"It's not a she... it's a he!"

Vincent could feel a migraine coming on.

The cellular phone in Seth's jacket pocket chirped. He extracted it and pressed the 'SEND' button quickly. "Hello?" he said.

He listened for a few moments and then replied, "What do you mean your guy never showed up with the sample? I gave him two of the diamonds and sent him on his way. Listen Mr. Wut... I'm on the level and I can't wait anymore. Are we on for tonight or what? I'll bring all the merchandise... and your guy is your problem. Just be sure to have the money. Bye."

Seth hung up the phone and turned to his brother, who was sitting down at the small table in the dingy dark room, munching away on a Kahuna burger. "So what did he say?" Richie asked.

"Tonight... tonight we conclude the deal and high-tail it out of here," Seth said.

Fred stood in front of the blackboard that occupied the centre of the east wall of the meeting room used for briefings by the Baywatch team. Seated around the table in front of him were Velma, Shaggy, Scooby, Shoni, Eddie, and Mitch. Fred pointed to the chalk diagram that he had drawn and explained the plan.

"So Shaggy... you can Scooby walk by the orphanage and try to get the attention of Rutnarura. Make him come after you, and start running down this trail here when he follows. When you reach this grove here, that's where phase two will kick in. Velma, you will be waiting behind these bushes. A net will be suspended from this tree. Once Shaggy and Scooby run past this point, you cut the rope that will release the net, which will fall onto Rutnarura," Fred outlined.

"Where will you be in the middle of all this, Fred?" Shaggy asked.

Mitch stood up and went over to the blackboard, "Fred... if I may? While you are setting a trap for Rutnarura, Shoni, Fred, and myself will be waiting in Rescue One offshore. Once the phantom boat supposedly belonging to Rutnarura appears, we will spring into action and try to board it."

"Any questions?" Fred asked.

"Good, then everyone knows what to do," Mitch concluded.

APRIL 18 1996, 10:45 P.M.

Shaggy and Scooby walked along the deserted beach, shrouded in darkness, their path lit only by the quarter moon overhead and the brush fires on the San Bernadino mountains, which were still burning uncontrollably. "How come we always have to be bait, eh Scoob?" Shaggy asked his partner.

Scooby made a muffled noise and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, at least I don't have to wear a dress this time," Shaggy said.

Rescue One rocked gently a few hundred yards offshore as it was cloaked in darkness. The rest of the team waited for Rutnarura's phantom boat to appear. But like the waters in which they waited, all was still.

"Nothing's happening yet," Shoni whispered.

"It will... just be patient," Fred said.

"You really think we'll actually be able to board it?" Mitch asked.

"I'm working on a theory that we will," Fred said.

"Movement!" Eddie announced.

"Where?" Mitch said.

"Over there!" Eddie said, pointing to the white shape shining through the darkness.

"Showtime!" Fred exclaimed.

Shoni gunned the ignition of Rescue One. The 300 horsepower diesel engine of the high-speed Baywatch rescue vehicle awoke in a haze of noise and smoke. The powerful searchlights flickered on and illuminated the darkness as the powerful motorboat leapt off towards the phantom ship.

"C'mon Scoob... we'll be fine," Shaggy said, trying to comfort his companion, "all we have to do is follow the plan and we'll be alright... I hope."

They walked cautiously, approaching the darkened house. The only noise they could hear was the soft crashing of the waves against the shore. "Oh well," Shaggy said, "looks like he's not showing up tonight. Too bad. Let's go Scoob."

Scooby froze in his tracks. "Shaggy," he muttered.

Shaggy looked towards the house and saw Rutnarura standing on the porch. "Scoob," Shaggy whispered, "let's back up slowly..."

They retraced their steps as Rutnarura watched them from the porch. "He's not following us," Shaggy whispered.

In a blur of movement, Rutnarura jumped off the porch and headed straight towards them, with the spear raised high above his head, ready to strike. "Let's get outta here Scoob!" Shaggy screamed.

When the phantom vessel was a mere twenty yards away, it suddenly came to life and took off in a start, with the distinct sound of an engine crescendoing. "It seems our phantom friend has an outboard motor," Mitch said.

"Can you keep up with it?" Fred asked.

Shoni, turned hard to the port and replied, "Are you kidding? We can run circles around it!"

There it was again, Velma thought, hearing the rustling behind her.

As Velma sat in the bushes, waiting to spring the trap that Fred had rigged earlier, she was distracted by the strange noise. She listened intently, straining her ears. Yes, there was definitely a noise, coming from the bushes behind her. Velma crouched back from her station and peered through the dense foliage. The leaf-laden branches pushed back to reveal a seagull nesting her eggs.

The seagull, surprised by the sudden intrusion on its nesting ground, raised its wings towards the threat and cawed. With its enormous wingspan fully unfurled, it leaped towards the intruder. The feathery wings bumped against Velma's face, knocking the glasses off her face and into the sand, where they came to rest.

Instantly, the world around her was a complete blur of shadows. "My glasses!" Velma exclaimed as she desperately searched for them.

Rescue One came up alongside the phantom boat, which was in actual fact a short-range motorboat, painted and modified to look like the phantom boat of Rutnarura from a distance. Eddie shone the huge searchlight against it as Mitch took the microphone.

"Halt! This is Rescue One of Baywatch!" Mitch called out over the loudspeaker, "you cannot evade us! Cut your engines and prepare to be towed!"

Shaggy and Scooby ran as fast as they could along the sandy beach. Behind them, the ghostly apparition followed, gaining on them with each passing second. Shaggy could almost feel the pointy end of the spear digging itself into the back of his neck. He was pretty sure that they were done for this time, and prepared himself mentally for the hellish terrors which even he couldn't comprehend. The were coming up to the break in the small grove of trees which Fred had pointed out earlier in the afternoon. "This way Scoob!" Shaggy called out.

They dashed into the grove, where the low-hanging branches brushed up against their faces as they entered. However, in their heightened emotional state, instead of turning abruptly left, as Fred had instructed them to earlier, Shaggy and Scooby went straight on through.

Velma still had not found her glasses when she heard the sound of the approaching footsteps. She looked up through the bushes and saw a blurry shadow move across her field of vision. "Oh no," she said to herself, "the trap! I've got to spring the trap!"

She crawled through the blurry and dark underbrush back to where Fred had tied the rope for the net to a tree. She grabbed the heavy ax that rested against the tree and lifted it above her head. She brought the blade down with a force sufficient to cut through the heavy piece of hemp. The weighted-down net dropped from its resting place in a palm tree and fell to the ground, directly over the quarry.

The heavy net fell on Shaggy and Scooby with a thud, knocking them both to the ground.

"Oh no Scooby! It's got us!" Shaggy screamed, struggling to break free of the net.

Scooby made some unintelligible noises, yet the fear was distinctive in his tone, as he too struggled to break free. But the more he fought, the more he became entangled.

Rutnarura approached the two ensnared interlopers, and raised his spear up menacingly. "Zoinks! Looks like this is it Scoob!" Shaggy cried out.

Velma's hand fell across the metal and glass form of her glasses, which she quickly put on. Everything came into focus. Something had been ensnared by the net... but it was... "Oh no, Shaggy and Scooby!" she screamed, seeing the sinister apparition about to skewer her friends.

The ghostly apparition took another step closer, and began the wind-up for the final thrust. Just then a bright light fell onto the scene, distracting him momentarily. Rutnarura turned his head towards the bright light, just as something tackled him to the ground, knocking the spear from his hand.

Fred wrestled with the apparition in the sand, managing to grapple both of Rutnarura's arms behind his back within a few seconds, despite the rumors from his detractors that said he was gay with that orange scarf around his neck all the time. "Mitch! Help me tie him up!" he called out.

Mitch ran over with a length of thick rope from Rescue One and helped hold down Rutnarura while Fred tied his arms and legs up. "You did that pretty quickly," Mitch said, impressed.

"I get lots of practice.... there, that should keep him," Fred said as he got up.

"Detective Hanna is on his way," Shoni announced, hanging up the marine radio.

"Good," Fred said, "soon we're going to get to the bottom of this."

Eddie ran over and got the net off of Shaggy and Scooby. "I thought we were done for," Shaggy said with a measure of relief in his voice, "thank goodness you guys got here in time."

"We would have gotten here sooner," Eddie said, "but the alleged phantom boat gave us a fair chase around the bay. But we got it... in fact, it's hitched up to Rescue One right now."

"What about Daphne? Did you find her?" Shaggy asked.

"No, but I know where we'll find her," Fred said confidently.

The SWAT team burst into the house, their MP-5s locked and loaded. They swept through the entire house, securing all three floors in under a minute. Vincent made his way into the kitchen, which was now secured by the SWAT team. He slung the submachine gun over his shoulder and attacked the floor with a heavy crowbar. A square portion of floorboard lifted up, revealing a hidden room underneath the floor. He removed the flashlight from his belt and shone it into the darkness below, where it fell onto the face of a young woman.

"He's got a gun to my head!" Daphne called out.

The light shifted laterally and cast its gaze upon her abductor, a beady-eyed man with a widows peak. "I'm gonna do it! So back off, man!" the man threatened, shoving the semi-automatic handgun to the side of Daphne's head.

"Richard Gecko," Vincent said calmly, "the house is completely surrounded. You have nowhere to go."

"I'm leaving with the lady and don't try to follow me!" Richie answered back.

Vincent signaled quietly to the best sniper in the team, who took up a position on the edge of the trap door. "Richard... let the girl go... and we can talk about this," Vincent replied.

Daphne held her breath as the cold metal of the gun barrel pressed into her cheek. The shadow at the top of the stairs was saying something, but she was too preoccupied to listen. Her abductor was becoming increasingly agitated. She had to do something.

Daphne raised her leg slightly and slammed her heel down on Richie's foot, which resulted in Richie letting out a loud yelp of pain. While Richie was momentarily distracted, she dove for the floor. The sniper at the side of the trap door let off a single round, which entered Richie's left shoulder an instant later. Richie spun around from the momentum of the bullet and covered the wound with his right hand. The team leader slid down the ladder leading into the basement and led Daphne to safety while the rest of the team swarmed in.

Richie was in a daze from the gushing wound in his shoulder, but he still managed to run down the twisting tunnels that had been dug out long ago by opium smugglers during the nineteenth century. The further he ran, the more distant the footfalls of the pursuing SWAT team seemed, until they were silenced. Up ahead, he saw a sliver of moonlight, telling him that he was at the end of the tunnel.

Richie squeezed through a crack at the end of the tunnel that lead to the outside, where the salty air of the beach greeted his nostrils. He stumbled through the bushes that covered the opening and leaned against a tree, catching his breath. "Where are you Seth?" he asked rhetorically.

But only the crashing of the sea answered him. If the cops had found their hide-out in the old house, most likely they had captured Seth. Which meant he was alone.

Richie grimaced against the pain and ran along the sandy beach, disappearing into the night.

The SWAT team leader escorted Daphne to rejoin her friends on the beach. "Are you alright Daphne?" a relieved Fred asked.

"I'm fine... just a little shaken up," Daphne replied.

"So you found your spook?" a voice called out.

Velma turned around and said, "Yes Detective Hanna... we caught Rutnarura... or at least someone pretending to be him."

Mitch got Rutnarura on his feet. "So let's see who this is," Fred said.

Fred went over and removed the wooden mask from their prisoner. "Mr. Lee!" Shoni exclaimed.

The proprietor of Pham Lee Jewelry had an expression of shame on his face. "But why?" Eddie asked.

"I can explain part of that," Vincent said, "it struck me as odd that Mr. Lee would keep such a high inventory of diamonds on the premises. And that the Gecko brothers would be so far from their home turf to pull of something like this. It just didn't seem right. But then we picked up a member of the Vietnamese Mafia, who was a buyer for the diamonds, it all made sense-- I had seen a similar case a few months ago."

"You see," Velma continued, "this whole thing was an elaborate scheme cooked up by Mr. Lee for an insurance scam. When I was at Mr. Lee's store earlier this afternoon, I noticed the 'clearance sale' signs, indicating to me that business had been slow. And so Mr. Lee hired the Gecko brothers to steal the diamonds from his store, who were then going to sell them. That way Mr. Lee would get the insurance money and the money from the sale of the diamonds, of which the Gecko brothers would get their cut. The Gecko brothers, who were laying low in the house, hadn't counted on it being renovated for the orphanage. So in order to keep prying eyes away from their hide-out while they were waiting to sell to the buyer, they had to scare everyone off. So Mr. Lee dressed up as Rutnarura to scare away Carlos and the renovation crew. The boat used to transport the diamonds was also similarly disguised with fluorescent paint, fitting in with the legend."

"But what about that buried talisman you found?" Shaggy asked.

"You mean this one?" Fred said, holding up the talisman in question.

Shaggy nodded. "Look carefully at the bottom," Fred said, holding the talisman upside-down.

Shaggy's eyes fell on the odd symbols etched into the bottom of the stone object. "Ma-e -n -wan?" he mumbled, trying to read.

Fred rubbed the remaining dirt from the talisman, and proudly read, "Made in Taiwan."

"Oh," Shaggy said.

"So it was all an elaborate hoax... so that's why there were gas cans in the kitchen. Hmmm... but if the house was their hide-out, how were the Gecko brothers able to move in and out without being seen by anyone?" Mitch asked.

Daphne stepped up and said, "There are an elaborate system of tunnels underneath the house.... which probably have been there since the house has been up. That was how they abducted me and where I was kept until the police rescued me."

"That would explain how Mr. Lee snuck up on us in the kitchen," Shaggy said.

"Exactly," Velma said, "And the Gecko brothers were able to move in and out of the house undetected by a system of tunnels underneath the house, where Daphne was being held."

"Excellent work, kids," Vincent congratulated.

Mr. Lee gave a scornful look to Vincent, and then to the ones who had exposed him. "If it weren't for you meddling kids, my plan would have worked and I'd be rich now!" he shouted.

"Take him away and book him," Vincent said to the two police officers that pulled Mr. Lee away.

As soon as Mr. Lee was removed from their sight, another two officers hauled Seth Gecko over. "They're looking for you in Kansas City," Vincent remarked, "I'm sure they'll be happy to see you once we start extradition proceedings."

"Just give me my flippin' phone call," Seth said.

April 23 1996, 10:00 A.M.

With the haunting by Rutnarura dismissed as a hoax, Carlos and his work crew returned to finish the work on the house. By the end of the week, they had made up for lost time and completed all renovations. To celebrate the opening of the Los Angeles Baywatch Orphanage, Captain Thorpe authorized a celebration. The newly-renovated house was decorated to the hilt with streamers and balloons, and the first residents of the orphanage were on hand to join in the festivities. Special guests came from all over the country to take part, including Hulk Hogan, Regis and Kathie Lee, Charo, William Shatner, and the entire cast of Friends.

Captain Thorpe stepped onto the porch, which had been turned into a make-shift stage, and grabbed the microphone off the stand. "Hi, I'm Captain Thorpe of Baywatch," he bellowed on the P.A. system, "and I take great honour in opening up this new orphanage... a badly needed service in our community. I'm glad to be here and I would like to introduce our very special guest... Beck!"

The four young men, dressed blandly-colored retro-wear, and a chorus of similarly dressed singers took their positions on the stage as the voices of the audience were raised in expectation. The audience settled down and the chorus began:

DO do, do DO do do do do do do
DO do, do DO do, do do do do do
DO do, do DO do do do do do do
DO do, do DO do, do do do do do

The drummer began a steady drumbeat and an electric guitar joined in seconds later. Beck Hansen approached the microphone and began to sing:

Some have said it was overly long,
And quite obscure in several places.
Combining characters of several genres.
Driveling on for twenty-one pages.

Far from the stage, away from the noise and clatter of the festivities, Mitch stood under the shade of a tree with the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency. "You must be happy," Velma said, turning to Mitch, "that the orphanage is finally ready."

"It was close, but we did it, thanks to you and your friends. Without you, that hare-brained scheme of Mr. Lee's would probably have worked," Mitch replied.

"All in a day's work," Shaggy proudly announced, before turning to his canine companion, "right, Scoob?"

Scooby let out a mild bark of agreement. "So where are you kids off to now, now that your Mystery Machine is fixed?" Mitch asked.

"Well, we just heard on the radio about two strange incidents," Fred said.

"Really?" Mitch inquired.

"Yes, apparently a woman had her spine removed in a night club washroom last evening and several hours later, a man was found dead in a hot tub. Sounds like a mystery for the Scooby and the gang," Fred explained.

"C'mon Scooby, you know what this means-- we're monster-bait again," Shaggy sighed.

But we've come to the resolution,
Of this drug-induced hallucination.
Worn-out clichés and a contrived ending,
No maturation of any characters,
Who the hell wrote this dialog?
It's as stilted as the real Baywatch.

Richie squished the cigarette into the filthy ashtray of the stolen El Camino and rolled down the window, quickly refreshing the stale air of the car. The long ribbon of asphalt went on for miles into the distance, bounded on either side by reddish-beige rock. Somewhere in the distance, where the blue sky met the red rock, was Seth, rotting in some Kansas jail cell, awaiting trial for the Scott City job they did a number of years back. But that wasn't going to be for long, if Richie could help it. He would have his brother out in no time, they'd get their hands on some cash, and then maybe head south of the border to Mexico. Maybe to El Rey. Yeah, that'd be nice.

We have come to the resolution,
No more of this E-Biz pollution.
Time to stop your procrastination,
Time to study for examinations.

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