This story is the continuation of “Hunt for the Red Megalari Pt. 2”

The screams of the Megalari mother receded into the iceberg’s tunnels until they became nothing more than a whisper. Bwiki and Wiboom’s eyes darted around the cavern, scanning its glossy curvature for any sign of danger.

Blue bioluminescent light radiated from the cavern’s walls, casting a softened glow on Wiboom’s features, smothering the combination of fear and rage that threatened to break through her stoic visage. Bwiki felt Wiboom’s beatbox power-up, the reverberations rising in amplitude. The Uhntz pounded into Bwiki’s head as he felt his thoughts careen toward battle.

Bwiki closed his eyes and let Wiboom’s song take hold. His pulse quickened, his muscles tensed, and in the soft light of the nesting cavern his fin unsheathed the horn-weapon at his side. It was cut from the top of his own head years ago, the final part of his ceremonial ascent into adulthood. All young Polari sprouted a solitary horn near the top of their skull, and all who survived their youth turned their horn into a weapon or tool according to their craft.

Bwiki’s memory flickered back to the end of that ceremony, when he felt his horn in his hands for the first time. He’d honed its edges since then, shaping it into the waved blade it was now. There was no more specialized weapon for slicing than the one he carried.

His eyes still closed, lost in the past and Wiboom’s driving beat, Bwiki noticed green light filtering through his eyelids. He opened his eyes and found himself staring downward, toward the base of the nesting cavern. Bwiki realized then that in their descent to find the cavern they’d traversed the entire height of the iceberg. The cavern ended at the the iceberg’s base, submerged deep below the waves.

Another vocal rumble shook the cavern, closer than before. Bwiki shivered at the clashing tones of the sound and watched with gnawing dread as the cavern floor bloomed with green light.

His trance was broken by Wiboom. She grabbed his fin and propelled both of them as far from the bottom of the cavern as they could go. The podmates reached the top of the nesting cavern just as the light from below became blinding.

Wiboom pulled Bwiki close. “Whatever comes at us, Bwiki -- “ she glanced nervously at the cavern floor. It radiated green light as if a sickened star had appeared below it. “Whatever it is, we are going to kill it. We’re going to avenge our pod. Then we’ll go back to where our pod died and sing their souls out with the tide.” She squeezed his fin intensely. Bwiki turned to Wiboom to speak, but was interrupted as a massive, spear-like horn plowed through the cavern floor, flinging chunks of ice into the water.

horn eruption

The horn was a marvel to behold. It was three times as tall as either Polari and coated in bright red plates that repeatedly overlapped down its length, like natural armor. The horn curved back from its sharp tip, forming a savage looking hook. The body and blade of the horn looked unscathed, despite having just punctured a wall of ice. The horn sat motionless, as if it had become a permanent fixture of the cavern floor, while the web of cracks celebrating its entrance settled into place.

Bwiki didn’t move a muscle. His eyes ran the length of the horn and the cavern floor over and over, waiting. Wiboom fidgeted nervously to his side, her song uninterrupted by the horn’s appearance.

A quiet, eerily-low pitch began emanating from the horn. It was perfectly clear, like the tones sung by master Beatboxxers. Wiboom’s eyes went wide with fear and excitement as her body tightened. She turned to Bwiki, her Uhntz reaching an unbearable pace. “Just keep me alive until I can drop the Bass. Just keep me alive, Bwiki.”

The tone climbed to a deafening pitch that held for what seemed like an eternity. Just when Bwiki couldn’t stand it any longer, it stopped.

Bwiki’s attention snapped to a falling object at the edge of his vision. The Bergcrab, which had been sitting on the lip of a tunnel, had somehow tipped into the cavern. It tumbled down the iceberg walls in free-fall until it came to a rolling rest at the edge of the cavern floor. A nervous eye-stalk jutted out of the crab’s shell and peered toward the horn.

An ocean-rending sound erupted from below. The horn that had pierced the floor vibrated with such intensity that it became little more than a red blur. Bwiki covered his melon with his fins, trying to keep the sound out, and watched as deep cracks spread like lightning through the rest of the cavern and up its walls.

As quickly as it started, the screeching tone ceased and the horn went still. A series of cracking sounds filled the void, rapidly blooming into a dull roar.

Then the iceberg shattered.