The Hawaiian Islands are steeped in tradition and folklore that goes back fifteen hundred years. And with all that history, it’s no wonder that paranormal encounters here are fairly common. The MU team will be investigating one particular story – the Night Marchers. Belief in these ancestral specters is still so strong in some native families that they’re afraid to even speak of them, because invoking the name might bring the Night Marchers right to a family’s doorstep. Is this merely superstitious belief? Or do these ghostly processions continue to haunt the people of Hawaii? That’s what we’ll try to find out!
“Geez, just bless us already,” Rodney grumbled under his breath.
The maile leaves on the lei that had been ceremoniously draped over his shoulders were scratchy against his neck, and he was bored. There’d been an opening prayer of some kind, shell blowing, more prayers, water sprinkling, and who knows what else still left to endure. It wasn’t the first ceremony he and the rest of the team had been through during the course of the show – indigenous tribes loved to wish them well, for the most part – but it wasn’t like they got an actual quantifiable boon from these things.
John nudged him with his shoulder. “Relax. He’s almost done.”
Rodney didn’t bother asking how John knew that. Presumably he’d had plenty of opportunity to travel while still in the employ of the United States Air Force, which of course Rodney wasn’t supposed to know about because everyone thought he was some kind of fragile flower who couldn’t handle the information. Just because the military had screwed him over royally didn’t mean he held a grudge against everyone who served. Mostly.
At least this particular ceremony didn’t involve the ritual sacrifice of a chicken, or dancing to native drums. Rodney wasn’t a fan of either, Kyle even less so as far as blood-letting went. Those incidences never made it to air, obviously, and Kyle put a stop to as many as he could without angering the natives.
John nudged him again, Rodney’s cue to pay attention. Everyone bowed their heads politely, and the ceremony was finally over.
“Don’t take it off,” John warned when Rodney made a move on the lei. “Wait until the kahuna leaves. It’s a sign of disrespect otherwise.”
Rodney was forced to endure another half hour of itchy leaves while Kyle talked to the kahuna about the Ghost Marchers and got more footage. The meeting with the eyewitness earlier in the day had been much more satisfying, if only because that guy owned a shrimp truck and had comped them their lunches. He’d also hammed it up for the cameras, which frustrated Kyle, and made sure his name, logo, or both was in every shot. Free publicity. Rodney had to admit he hadn’t paid much attention to the guy’s story, not when he had a mound of spicy shrimp to deal with.
Maybe they could go back tomorrow, after they wrapped shooting.
Once Kyle finished running his mouth and the kahuna departed, John carefully took the lei off of Rodney’s shoulders and hung it from a nearby tree branch. “You never throw one of these away,” he explained. “Otherwise you’re rejecting the good fortune that’s just been bestowed.”
“You seem to know a lot about it.”
John shrugged. “I pick things up.”
Yeah, Rodney just bet he did. There was a lot about his new teammate that he wouldn’t mind discovering. He wasn’t the most observant guy, but he could tell that John had some hidden depths behind his easy-going persona. For one thing, Rodney had seen how quickly the man finished a Sudoku puzzle. And for an amateur he was excellent behind the camera; he had a real eye for setting up a scene.
“Let’s move out, team,” Kyle said. “We’ve got some ancient Hawaiian ghosts to find.”
Rodney rolled his eyes.
Despite the tropical beauty of the place, it was creepy by the bay at night: the waves hissing on the beach, the rustling of the tall grasses, and the possibility of ghostly warriors passing by on their way to deliver some death.
Kyle to base camp.
“Go for base camp,” Rodney said.
We’re getting some kind of sound here. Like a murmuring or something. Can you track it with the parabolic?
“I’m on it.”
He pulled out the parabolic microphone and made sure it was recording before he aimed it in the direction of Kyle’s GPS coordinates. Regular night noises, regular night noises…wait.
Kyle was right. There was some kind of murmuring. Rodney put one hand against the headphones, pressing them closer to his ear. He could almost make out words.
Ronon for Kyle.
Go for Kyle.
We’ve got light. Coming down from the mountain, fast.
Rodney’s arms broke out in goosebumps. Was this finally the real thing? Out of all the investigating they did for the show, ghosts were the one thing that he could really get behind. As a worshipper at the temple of science and a part-time misanthrope, he’d long ago rejected the idea of God. But a transfer of energy was something else entirely. That could be quantified, tested. And it seemed like the MU team was about to get the most concrete evidence ever to support that.
I see them!
Jesus! Go, go, go! Does anyone hear drums?
No drums, but it sounds like someone’s running.
Rodney still held the parabolic in one hand, his eyes glued to the monitors. He could see the lights now, and his heart was pounding as he watched their rapid descent towards the bay. The Night Marchers were supposedly known by the torches they carried, and the sound of either drums or the blowing of conch shells.
Kyle for base camp.
“I’ve got it, Kyle! I’m recording everything!”
Two things happened in quick succession after that: the murmuring resolved itself into words (…right behind us) and both field teams literally ran into the torch-bearers. It took exactly two seconds for Rodney to realize that they hadn’t captured evidence of the Night Marchers at all, but rather two far more corporeal beings.
What the fuck?
Rodney wasn’t sure what he should do. Did the team need assistance? Should he stay and monitor? He was decided as soon as more people showed up, this time with guns.
Five-0! Everyone down on the ground!
Bring the paperwork, Kyle hissed through the radio.
Rodney was already on the move. The MU team often found themselves hanging out in cemeteries or on protected lands, and Teyla’s job was to make sure they had permission before they left for location shoots. It was always best to keep on the right side of the law, especially in the middle of the night.
We’re a film crew, he heard Kyle trying to explain as he got closer. We don’t know anything about anyone named Santello.
By the time Rodney arrived on the scene his whole team, and the two guys who’d run into them, were sitting in a row with their hands zip-tied behind them. Five-0, which was only identifiable to Rodney as law enforcement by the badges that gleamed in the flashlight’s beam, consisted of two guys that at first glance looked like the kind of cops that got partnered up in movies: complete opposites put together for comic effect. One was tall, the other short. One brunette, one blonde. They both turned their weapons on Rodney when he approached.
“I’m with the crew!” he said. He held up his hands, and waved around the papers he’d brought. “We have permission from Governor Denning and the local kahuna to be here!”
“Stay where you are,” the tall one ordered. His partner snatched the paperwork out of Rodney’s hand and quickly scanned it with the help of the slim flashlight he carried.
“This looks legitimate to me, Steve,” the short guy said. He aimed the flashlight at Rodney’s face, momentarily blinding him, and then scanned it over the faces of the rest of the team. “Hey, I think I recognize these guys.”
Kyle struggled to his feet. “I’m Kyle Dorsey, lead investigator for Mysterious Unknown. We’re here about the Night Marchers.”
The tall one, Steve, lowered his weapon, though he still looked incredibly skeptical. “What are you? Some kind of ghost hunters?”
“Sometimes. We do paranormal and cryptozoological investigations. Ghosts, bigfoot, lake monsters, that kind of thing.” Kyle used his head to gesture towards his team. “That’s what all this equipment is for.”
“Yeah,” the short cop said. “I watch your show sometimes. They run the old episodes late on Syfy.”
“You sure about this, Danny? Maybe we should take everyone back to HQ.”
“That would be a colossal waste of your time and ours,” Rodney said. He kept his hands up, just in case. “You have our paperwork, you can clearly see that we have cameras and other equipment for filming, and you can review our footage if you want to see what we’ve been up to.”
“Don’t provoke them, Rodney,” John warned in a low voice. Even sitting in the grass with his hands behind his back, Rodney could see how tense he was. Like one wrong move against anyone on the team would send him flying into action. Officer Steve seemed to notice that as well, his eyes narrowed as he spent far too long looking at John. Rodney stepped between them as nonchalantly as possible.
“So you’re unfamiliar with the suspects,” Officer Steve said after a long moment.
“We literally just ran into them, officer,” Laura replied. She did her best to look sweet and innocent, stopping just shy of batting her eyelashes.
“You can stand down, Rambo,” Office Danny told his partner. “I’ll vouch for these guys.”
That was followed by some grumbling on Officer Steve’s part, but he dutifully went around and snipped off the zip ties. As soon as John had his hands free he slid in front of Rodney, trying and failing to look casual as he did so. Rodney found it oddly flattering.
“We’re with them!” one of the suspects said, while the other nodded enthusiastically.
Ronon glared down at them, crossed arms showing off his enormous muscles to good advantage.
“We’re not with them,” the guys whispered, his eyes wide.
“How long you guys gonna be on Oahu?” Officer Danny asked. “You just in for the Night Marchers? Because we’ve got all kinds of freaky shit up in here.”
“Stories, Daniel,” Officer Steve said in a disapproving tone.
“Yeah? What about that mutant shark they pulled out of the ocean last month?”
“Mutant shark?” Evan asked with interest. Unlike John, he’d retrieved his camera and was filming.
“That was a goblin shark, which is rare but not a mutant.”
“It was disturbing. I was disturbed by it.”
“You’re disturbed by regular sharks.”
“Are we free to go, officers?” Kyle asked, interjecting. “This whole thing kind of killed our investigation, and we have to pack up our equipment.”
“Go ahead,” Officer Steve said. “But we’ll be holding on to your paperwork and doing a full background check. I suggest you plan on sticking around for a couple of days, just until you’re officially cleared of any involvement in our investigation.”
“Can he do that?” Rodney asked. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I suppose it won’t kill us to spend a couple more days in Hawaii,” Kyle responded, shooting Rodney an all-too-familiar look of exasperation. “I’ll call Richard in the morning and explain the situation.”
“Richard Woolsey? Your producer?” Officer Danny asked.
“Wow, you really do watch the show,” Rodney said.
“Here’s my card. Have him call me first thing, and we’ll add his statement to yours. That should expedite things.”
“Thanks,” Kyle said, accepting the business card. “What’s Five-0, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“We’re a special task force that operates independently from HPD.” Officer Steve managed to make that sound like a threat. It probably was.
“Well, wonderful. Can we get back to work now, please? I’d rather not linger here any longer than we need to.” Rodney nudged John out of the way with his hip. “Lots to do. Chop, chop!”
“Hey, where are you staying?” Officer Danny asked. “Maybe we could meet up for drinks or something tomorrow night. I’d love to hear some behind-the-scenes stories, especially on that chupacabra episode.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Do I not sound serious, Steven?”
“They could be suspects!”
“If you watched something besides ridiculous Hawaiian sporting competitions –”
“Paddling is not ridiculous!”
“– then you would know they aren’t suspects, they’re TV personalities.”
Rodney exchanged an amused look with John. These guys were definitely perfect for a buddy cop movie.
The officers gathered up the real suspects and went on their way, Steve telling them once more not to leave town. No worries there. They hadn’t completed their investigation, so there’d be a reshoot at least. And Rodney was betting that Teyla could find them something else on the Islands to hunt down as well. Volcano gods or something.
As they hiked back to the parking area where they’d left their rental cars, Rodney was almost certain he heard the faint sound of drums.