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Dagon The King (IC)

Avenger Assembled

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Fall 2019 

Claremont Academy 



There was quite the crowd gathering for this year's first Ambassador Talk, both among Claremont students and the occasional adult parent or guardian who had turned up for what promised to be a very special talk. Everyone knew who was coming - Aquaria Innsmouth, the first Deep One superhero! The word 'first' had been used with some vigor when faculty were talking up the event to students, 


Attendance was by no means mandatory, and many students (such as Watchdog and Daystar) were skipping it either out of personal conviction or taco night, but there were good snacks in the upper galleries of the big classroom that was usually used for the big first-year classes. Headmistress Summers was on the scene, standing up by the snacks to greet new people as they arrived, and (along with a few teachers) keeping an eye on students, guests, and guests of honor. 


She was currently having an argument with one of the second of those three. "That you would subject a prince of the blood to this appalling display is one of the most deplorable things I have ever heard." General Dalekos had come dressed as a Surfaceman for this event, albeit with the rumpled look of a man not quite used to this particular fashion. "The embassy will certainly hear of this.


"Prince Telemachus," the young Atlantean princeling was staring straight ahead in the second row, and looking desperately as though like he was trying to pretend he couldn't hear the Atlantean general arguing with his headmistress, "is here by choice - and by his family's permission," said Summers frostily. "Just as you are here out of courtesy in your role as loco parentis to our Atlantean students." She murmured something else - and then, his face flushing scarlet, the general took a seat in the upper tier among the other visitors for the talk. 


As more students entered, Summers and other faculty greeted them by name and pointed them to their seats. "Our guest of honor will be arriving soon." 


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And with those words, a guest of some honor appeared: Heroditus Fabricus Stylianos, Claremont's other student from Atlantis!  He scanned the room to see which adults would be present, looking especially for Dr. Marquez.  He did not see him, nor did he catch sight of Prince Telemachus, but did see Headmistress Summers... and the man she was speaking with!


"General Dalekos!"  He bowed slightly and gave a salute appropriate for a high-ranking military agent, raising his clenched right fist to his temple, "I did not know you would be in attendance, sir!"


He turned slightly, enough to bow slightly to Summers, "Headmistress," and gave her a similar salute, raising his clench left fist to his temple.  He swiftly turned back to face Dalekos, placing his clasped hands before him.  "General,I trust all is well back home?  And with my family?"

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Nicholas "Vox" Brown drifted in behind Heroditus, hands stuffed in his pockets. Whether deliberate stealth or not, the small teen had a way of blending into the crowd. Spotting authority figures ahead, Nick kept his eyes down and did his best to maneuver around them. That may have worked on the faculty, but the ever mysterious Summers turned out to be hawk-eyed. It was his own fault, really, for giving the snacks a hungry glance.


Nick froze like a deer in the headlights and turned toward Summers. He looked about the same as usual. His clothes were clean if casual jeans and a band t-shirt. His hygiene looked presentable. The listless frown was normal now though. As were the dark circles around his eyes and the fidgeting. Swallowing slowly, the super-powered teen waved meekly and signed, "Good evening, Headmistress Summers."


At least his sign language showed improvement. Although the semester was young, course work so far suggested final grades in the B range. Although not a super genius like some classmates, he was a very smart young man and obviously doing the bare minimum. His Squad work was likewise adequate if uninspired. According to Dr. Marquez, some improvement had been made, but opening up during therapy had proven difficult. He was, for now, maintaining.


Seeing him at a voluntary event came as a good sign. He had a habit of hiding in his room or wandering less traveled areas on campus. In this case, an actual kick in the butt from Claude pushed him out the door. If he was honest, he was interested in meeting Aquaria and seeing what she had to say.


In the moment, Nick shifted under Summers' scrutiny and wrung his hands.

Edited by Dariusprime
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"Ah, young Heroditus," said Dalekos with a smile. "I knew a smart boy like you wouldn't stay away from an event like this." He patted the chair next to him, looking surprisingly at ease with conditions on the surface. "Would you care to join me here in the adult section? You might find yourself appreciating Atlantean company once the guest of honor begins her...talk.


Summers' signs to Nick were slow enough that he could tell she wasn't quite fluent - but she was certainly far better than the average hearing person, and ahead of even many of his students. Good to see you. Do you want a snack? The snacks were all of the sort that could be eaten quietly - cookies and hors d'oeuvres. On the room's stage stood a gallon-sized plastic jug of water. 

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Heroditus' eyes widened, and he bowed again, slightly deeper this time. "You honor me, General, but I would not presume to take a place at your right hand.  Some of my... classmates" (he was still unsure of which term to use for them, so went with as neutral a one as he could think of) "had expressed interest in attending, and I had planned to sit with them.  So that I might answer any questions they have, and fill in any... gaps that our speaker may leave out.  They should be arriv-" he turned to look behind him, seeking out Dio or Octoman, and instead laid eyes on Telemachus!  "Oh! My prince!"  Here he fell to one knee and bowed his head, "I did not... but of course you would be in attendance, as you are a student here."  He lifted his head slightly, "perhaps here to debate the speaker?"

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Prince Telemachus shot Heroditus a wide-eyed look "N-no," he said, his voice soft. "P-please stand up." He looked at Dalekos, who had adopted a deferential posture but was decidedly not kneeling in his presence, and said, "General, I'm g-going to be returning to my s-seat now. I will ss-summon you if needed." He said it in a tone that suggested he would sooner gargle with leeches. "Well-met, C-citizen Stylanios," he added politely to Heroditus before he did just that. 


"His majesty prefers the role of observer to debater," said Dalekos politely, not commenting on Telemachus's stutter while speaking English. "A wise thing, if you ask me. Well, I won't keep you from your chums, Stylanios, go and take your place." He smiled, folding his hands before him. "It should be an interesting show.

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Kam arrived slightly ahead of hte start time and watched with some curiosity the interplay between the young atlantean student and the others by the headmistress.  He winced as the trying to be subtle royal was revealed by his subject knowing all to well that particular bob and correction.  He let out a sigh and approached Heroditus with a warm smile, "Well he didn't seem to appreciate the honorifics." he joked lightly and indicated a nearby seat.  "Probably trying not to bank on his rank I imagine.  It is always surprising how many of refined lineage wish to escape such gilded cages yes?"


He seamlessly moved on however not dwelling on the awkward interaction.  "I know little of these 'Deep Ones' outside rumor and scary stories are your people more familiar?"  he asked carefully trying to weigh if it was a problematic question before going too far down the line of questioning, "I do enjoy learning of other cultures and traditions however."

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Herodotus rose at his prince's command, but then saw another prince!  He gave Kam the salute for nobles of other lands -- raising a left fist, with the index and middle fingers jutting slightly out, to his temple -- then flashed his classmate a quick smile.  "I'm happy to share what I know with my classmates, though it might be best to wait until more arrive," he glanced back at Dalekos, "so I don't have to repeat myself."  He tried looking past the Dakanan's shoulder, "I'd heard Dio and Ben -- ah, OctoBen -- might be coming.  Have you seen either of them?"


Edited by Dr Archeville
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Ben Wang was shapeshifted into what he still considered his "default" form. It wasn't his true form, the one his body reverted to when he completely relaxed, when he fell asleep at night. It was the recreation of his appearance before the accident, or, at least, as close as he could get to the pictures he had. No "scars", no shiny rubbery skin, no yellow eyes, just an ambiguously pan-racial brown kid who still had eyebrows, and a mess of hair on his head somewhere between a "medium Afro" and "short dreads". Technically, he was nude, but the top layers of his flesh were mimicking the colors and textures of the clothes he'd chosen closely enough that it was impossible to tell that he wasn't actually wearing a yellow and black zip-up hoodie, open over a white t-shirt dominated by a giant black gecko silhouette, with baggy blue jeans and slightly over-sized white high-top sneakers.


When Ben reached the open double-doors leading into the lecture hall, he stopped short of walking inside. "Hm...'scuse me a sec." He grabbed both doors and pulled them closed. Then, almost immediately, he threw them back open and shouted "BOOM!" as he strutted into the classroom. "The B-Bomb has DROPPED! There ARE no survivors." Every time he saw a face he recognized, he pointed at them with his arm fully extended, grinned, nodded a few times, and said "Heyyy!" while only barely slowing down his strut. "Now where's that free food? That's the best KIND of food! Hey wait, this isn't tacos! Did you guys know they're doing tacos down in Cooke? Why didn't you guys, like, coordinate? We coulda had freaky fish-people AND tacos! No offense to the freaky fish-people, hey, one freaky fish-person to another, feel me? But nothin' gets butts in seats like free tacos." He held a piece of food up to his face. "I'm gonna go to town on you like you're my last meal, but the whole time I do I'm also gonna low-key resent you for not bein' a taco."


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Adam was grateful for Ben's utter lack of subtlety. It made it a lot easier for him to sneak his massive frame into the room. He didn't like being stared at, and some people still did. He was wearing his prosthetics and his wig, but he was still huge and felt out of place.


He knew Lulu was right behind him, and for that, he was grateful. She made him feel better wherever he was. He considered her the most attractive woman he had ever met, and if she liked him, he really couldn't be a monster, could he?


Aquaria Innsmouth was also a 'monster'. He had heard things, but he felt like he needed to be fair. He was really interested in what she had to say.


Still, he kept his mouth shut, found a seat, and waited for Lulu.  

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Nick's expression softened at Summers use of sign language. His frown didn't turn upside down, but she couldn't miss that he appreciated her efforts. Forcing his hands to stop, several signs started only to be abandoned. Finally, he signed, "Thank you. Thank you. I hope you have a good night."


With his message articulated, the snack table didn't stand a chance. The distance was closed in excellent time and the harvest began. If anything Nick looked annoyed at the small snack plates and grabbed two of them. The cookies were bypassed in favor of hors d'oeuvres. Quite a metabolism for his size.


He didn't so much ignore the goings on around him as appear to. That was just about impossible given the nature of his powers. Yes, he was listening to the conversations and politics but politely playing dumb. One for his own sanity and two so no one would notice him listening. What the Atlanteans (really? Altlantis is real? Talk about mind blowing.) were saying dovetailed with what information he was able to find. Yes, he actually agreed with that General Dalekos fellow: this would be an interesting "show".


One plate was heaping full when Octo-Ben made his entrance. The other however went flying. Bite-sized nibbles bounced all over. Nick stood ramrod still, looking mortified, but remembered himself when Ben greeted him. Sitting down the other plate, he signed a quick, "Hi, Ben," before cleaning up his mess. That was going to use a lot of napkins.

Edited by Dariusprime
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A few moments later, Lulu Beaumont entered the classroom; she'd paused for a few moments to allow Ben to make his impressive entrance. She waa dressed fairly casually, thinking of this whole affair as more of a school lecture than a diplomatic event, but judging from the outfits of the Atlantean contingent, perhaps she'd underdressed? She was just wearing a pink Atlanta Braves t-shirt, black sweatpants, and sandals. Her red hair was tied up in a bun on top of her head, and she had a notebook and pen with her.


Finding a seat next to Adam, whom she gave a quick kiss, she looked over her shoulder at their showman-like classmate. "Good Lord! He sure is extra extra, ain't he?" Then she noticed Nick cleaning up his fallen nibbles, and she sighed sympathetically.


- Do you want me to make a distraction, Nick? I can make it look like the stage is on fire! - 


Her mental 'tone' was friendly and playfully conspiratorial.

Edited by Heritage
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A few more minutes went by, giving other students a chance to make their arrivals - though nobody was quite as spectacular as Octoman. With snacks provided and seats taken, everyone was at some variety of ease when Headmistress Summers took to the stage and the lights in the room dimmed considerably. 


"Good evening," she said, in a low, quiet voice that nonetheless demanded attention. "I'm glad to see so many of you here - students, parents, and friends of Claremont alike. The Ambassador Program was created so that Claremont students have an opportunity to meet people they wouldn't otherwise encounter - to make sure that your educations are as complete as we can make them. Our guest tonight is the heroine known as Sea Devil - Aquaria Innsmouth, or Ackweera in her own language. A graduate of Project Freedom, she has earned the trust of the heroic community and many people in Freedom City. Without further ado..." 


She stepped back as the door behind the stage opened, and an unlikely figure walked out. Clad in opalescent armor that glittered oddly in the dark room, the figure walked out into the middle of the room and tapped the side of its helmet with a three-fingered hand. The face inside was - well, like a monster. Aquaria was perhaps more frog than fish compared to what the Claremont students had seen in their textbooks, but she was clearly not human - staring at them with huge black and gold eyes that goggled further apart than a human's would be. Her green and white skin glistened wetly, marked all over by blue arcane tattoos of a squamous sort.


She exhaled, a noise like a seal snorting, and then spoke with a voice like booming bass, from a mouth wide enough to swallow a human head and with a flash of serrated teeth sharp enough to bite one off- 


"HELLO!" she croaked. "I AM" She caught a look, then modulated the deep croaking rumble of what must be a very impressive voice. "Aquaria! It is nice to see many beings here!" She turned her upper body and eyed the Atlanteans in the room, giving another great sniff, before she spoke again, her voice slow and throbbing as she picked out the words of an unfamiliar language. "I am what you call a Deep One. I am here to tell you that we are not your enemies! We are born like you, and we die like you, and we want our -children to be happy like you.Well, sort of, she thought. She stopped and opened the jug of water on the stage and raised it in the air - some she poured into her mouth, other parts she let splash on her face. She had a distinct but not necessarily unpleasant order - smelling distinctly of fish. "I have a dog! He is my friend's dog, but he is also my dog! I like to feed him meat and take him for walks. I am different than you but I am not very different from you - just as you are different from each other ."  At least, that was what she assumed. She went on, throat sacs notably bloating as she made points. 


"Many Deep Ones have done bad things. I am sorry for what my people have done to your city. But Deep Ones are not monsters. We are not your enemies because of who we are. Some are your enemies because of what has happened. But we can make new things happen, to make things better. Does anyone have any questions? They told me to ask you questions so that I do not monopolize the evening." She laughed, throat throbbing again. "I thought that was just a game, but it means something else! Your language is funny!


Aquaria's accent was decidedly odd, her loud, croaking speech unfamiliar to human ears - and some in the audience didn't have those! Just before she'd begun speaking, one of the big display monitors on the display had come alive and begun displaying her words in big white letters, albeit with a slight delay - sharp-eyed students could see Crimson Spoke, the tech savant student from France, typing away on one of the keyboards built into the room as he provided Aquaria's translation. 

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Kam nodded to the salute with a slight wince.  Not that his sister hadn't largely ensured the school at least suspected theri true status but none the less he was trying to remain low profile.   "Ah he's not the only one trying to keep their rank unobtrusive."  he added with a wink.  "As for 'OctoBen' I hav...."


Kam flinched slightly at the sudden noise of Bens arrival, "a feeling he's arrived."  he finshed with a low laugh and moved to a seat as well as the guest of honor arrived and he sat in rapt attention as the talk began.  What came next was to say the least not what he expected.  And then directly into questions he paused trying to form one with what he knew of the deep ones.

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No one seemed to want ask the first question, so Lulu decided to go ahead and get things started. She hadn't done much reading about Deep Ones, and she suspected most of the other students hadn't either, so she decided to make it fairly general. The redhead stood up and cleared her throat, but then instead opted to use her illusion powers to project  bit better; this had the unusual effect of allowing Ben to 'hear' her question mentally. Her voice sounded amplified, but without the usual characteristics of electronic transmission, and seemed to just hag in the air without source, though Lulu's lips were clearly moving.


"Hi, mah name is Lulu Beaumont, and welcome to Claremont, Ms. Innsmouth. Can you please tell us a little bit about the history of your people? Thank you, ma'am."


As she returned to her seat, Lulu winced slightly. She hoped her Alabama accent wasn't too thick for Aquaria to understand; maybe she should have modified it?

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"Yes!" Aquaria croaked animatedly - this was evidently a question she'd come prepared for. "Let me sing you the song of my people!"


She took a deep breath, swelling her throat, and began to tell her story: 


"In ancient days, Dagon and Hydra looked upon the world and saw it nearly lost. So they reached out and took some of the beings of the world. They took them below and brought them to understanding. They gave them their power, and their glory, and so made them Deep Ones - with their eye, their hand, their skin, and their power." She croaked at that, then went on, "But the Deep Ones were born in the midst of a great war between Lemuria and Atlantis - Lemuria knew the gods but had become weak, and Atlantis was..." She croaked again, distinctly fixed her eyes on the Atlanteans in the audience, then went on, "brek-kek-, coax-coax, Atlantis had...lost its way.


She took another drink from her jug and went on. "Then came the Great Change, when the gods tired of the weakness of Lemuria and the sin of Atlantis. So they pulled them below, hoping to give them their might down under the sea." She inflated her throat in a noise like a great sigh, then said, "Things have been bad since then. Lemuria is lost, and many of our people scattered. Even in our great cities, there is not much food, and there is no safe harbor. Our enemies destroy us whenever they can, and many of us fight to die because there is nothing better. That is why I came here. Because I wanted there to be something better."

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DAMN. I thought *I* was a freaky fish-guy. But Kermit-thulhu up there just raised the Freaky Fish-Person bar for ALL of us. I could drop the act and STILL look normal if I was standing next to HER. Wait, or WOULD I? Is THAT what I look like to normal people? Aw man, it IS, isn't it? I'm gonna DIE a virgin.



"Hi, mah name is Lulu Beaumont, and welcome to Claremont, Ms. Innsmouth. Can you please tell us a little bit about the history of your people? Thank you, ma'am."


"What?" Ben's head started jerking back and forth when he heard Lulu's voice. What...how...RIGHT. Spooky Mind Powers. He closed his eyes and grabbed the sides of his own skull. GET OUT OF MY MI-...Waitaminute. He relaxed, opened his eyes, and leaned back in his chair. What am I even worried about? Actually, y'know what? It's cool. Hangin' out in my head's gonna be worse for you than for me anyway. Hope you like memes, porn, and Geckoman fanfic.


Ben raised his hand. "Yeah, so, uh, elephant in the room, nobody's gonna ask but everyone wants to know...Do you guys really eat people? Like, in general, and also, specifically, have you ever eaten a thing that could and probably did say 'Please don't eat me' in like, a language?"


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There was a brief stir from the Claremont faculty bench at that, but it didn't seem to bother the Sea Devil at all. "That is a very good question!" croaked Aquaria without hesitation. This was evidently a question she had been asked before. 


"Deep Ones only eat meat." She opened her mouth wide, very wide, impossibly wide, to reveal rows of jagged, serrated teeth, then closed her mouth again. "My teeth are only for biting - your teeth are for crunching and crushing." She spread her long limbs, gesturing with three-fingered hands. "I only eat things that are not meat when I need to vomit." She hesitated, hand where the chin of a Surfacer would have been, then went on - they probably did not want to hear about her vomiting - few Surfacers did! "Our food speaks to us all the time, because Hydra lets us hear the things that live Below." She tapped the side of her head. 


"And there is the other thing." She hesitated, taking a deep breath that made her throat swell and close, then said, "We believe that the souls of the dead are contained within their flesh, and by eating them, we free their souls and keep a piece of them within us. We do this to honor the mighty dead, and remember those that are gone. I..have done this, and I hope it will be done for me if I die. But the people who live on the Surface, and also the Atlanteans, do not believe this, so it is wrong to eat them, even when they are already dead.

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Heroditus facepalm'd when OctoBen entered.  He was still getting used to the flamboyant teen, and didn't think he'd ever really adjust to him.  Though it did reassure him somewhat on seeing that their other teammates were just as exasperated by him at times, and that it wasn't just his conservative Atlantean upbringing.  He waved at Adam and Lulu -- the few interactions he'd had with them had gone well, and he was fascinated by Lulu's psychic abilities.  He also waved at Nick; he'd yet to interact much with him, but heard he had some manner of sonic abilities, reminiscent of what the Sirens had gifted the Royal Family, and made a note to have a chat with him soon.


Soon Aquaria was on stage.  She was quite different from what Heroditus had expected: more anuran than piscine, and wearing some sort of advanced suit of armor, not the robes of a cultist (or the nudity of most Deep Ones).   Lulu and Ben had asked their questions, and she had answered them, with as much pro-Lemurian slants as he'd expected.


This is a unique opportunity.  I would be a fool not to take advantage of it.  But I must do so carefully, as the eyes of both Headmistress Summers and General Dalekos are surely upon me.


He took a drink from his waterskin, stood, and cleared his throat.  "So you are saying," he began, his voice bright and even, "that the war between Lemuria and Atlantis started before the creation of the Deep Ones.  That is is something your people were... were thrust into?  So what started the conflict between Lemurians and Atlanteans in the first place?  And why did your people side with the Lemurians?"

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"Because they could...think," croaked Aquaria automatically, taken briefly off-guard by the question. "From ancient times, Atlanteans have heard our songs and called us killers, and thieves, and monsters, and killed us in their sport. Lost Lemuria was the land of the gods that made us, its people blessed by Dagon and Hydra. We sided with our kin and our gods against our enemies, just as all things do." She assumed a facial expression like a frown. "Even now, Atlantis grows fat in the best places Below while we hunger in the worst. I am sure you are one of the good ones, but if I came to the place where your people live, I would be killed."


"Ms. Innsmouth?" General Dalekos had actually raised his hand for the question - and with some reluctance, Aquaria pointed at him. "Thank you. Dalekos of the Atlantean Defense Force. Tell me, if you would be so kind - what would happen if an Atlantean, such as myself, or like Mr. Stylanios, came to the place where your people live? Wouldn't we also be killed out of hand - and then have our bodies eaten afterwards?


Aquaria was silent at that, staring at the Atlantean man, her throat bulging and deflating noticeably, before she croaked, "The only time that has ever happened to me, the Atlanteans came to kill our adults and burn our eggs. I never saw the place where I was hatched again."

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Nick did not, in fact, take Lulu up on her offer. Though he in no unconcern terms loved the idea. That coaxed a toothy grin out of him. With a wave to Heroditus, Nick settled into his seat a row behind Octo-Ben and the Atlantean. The lights were just beginning to dim.


Mesmerized was as good a descriptor of Nick's situation as any. From the moment Aquaria stepped on stage, he followed her every move and utterance with slack-jawed attention. The plate of snacks sat uneaten. The students at the school were a diverse lot, but something about this Deep One truly piqued his curiosity. Particularly her voice. It sounded...familiar.


As was his way, his mind was busy studying her bioacoustics. She was fascinatingly different not only in voice but biology, and her sounds echoed those differences. Of particular interest were the infrasonic properties of her speech. Nick knew whales and some other animals used frequencies below human perception for long-distance communication. The frequencies she used suggested similar capabilities. He glanced around clandestinely while wondering how greatly she was modulating her voice for Surface language. If that was the case, what did her native language sound like?


Once that first question came to mind, Pandora's box opened and flooded him with inquiries. He finally leaned back and silently cursed having left his tablet in his room. Looking around the room, several options came to mind. He appreciated Lulu breaking the ice, but she seemed uncomfortable. Not wanting to impose further on her hospitality, his attention drifted across the faculty section, assembled students, and the big screens. Some students didn't seem to have an issue asking questions, and good ones at that.



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Lulu snorted at Ben's inner monologue; she had no interest in spending any time in his personal PornHub, but she spared him a quick snarky thought.


-Son, I grew up in the Bible Belt; you don't know the meaning of the word 'filth'. -


But now things were getting a little political, and the redhead was sensing a hint of discomfort in the air. Where were all the school's brainiacs with their weird science questions? Clearly Aquaria, as odd as she seemed, was more than willing to discuss the sorts of things most aliens wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole; this was a golden, nerdy opportunity!


Glancing over at Nick, she noticed he was a ball of frustration; surely the boy had all kinds of questions about, what did he call it, 'bioacoustics'? But then she noticed him digging into his bag and clearly not finding his tablet, and the situation became clear. A quick skim of his surface thoughts yield the info she was looking for, and once again she stood and 'spoke' her question.


"Pardon me, ma'am, but I have a two part question on behalf of Nick Brown? He wanted to know how you modulate your voice to speak a Surfacer language, and could you give us a demonstration of your native tongue? Thank you!"


The telepath returned to her seat and gave Nick a quick thumbs up.

Edited by Heritage
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"It is hard!" croaked Aquaria with great force. "It took me a long time to learn. I have to close my throat when I talk, and use my face in strange ways, and sometimes I forget and make sounds like brekekekèx-koàx-koáx when I am trying to speak your words. It ifeels bad but I am used to it. Lemurian as I learned it sounds like this - " she opened her mouth, planted her two feet, and began to sing in a low, bass rumble that did indeed resonate deep into the subsonic and infrasonic. All told, it sounded something like this: 


Hello! This is my

Lemurian, it has my

favorite soundings.


(The room's subtitler kept up with the shift to the black tongue of Deep Ones - evidently Crimson Spoke really _could_ speak all languages!) Down in the subsonics, even the infrasonics, the proud defiance in the words came through, the tone of a flag planted and a voice crying "here I am, world!") 


When Aquaria was done with her singing, she took another drink from her now-almost empty jug and said, "People ask about my tongue. It is in the front of my mouth and not the back, see?" She opened her mouth wide to point to where indeed it was suspended in the reverse of the usual way. "That made learning the words hard. But it means I can do this!" She reached into her armor and pulled out a bizarrely out-of-place object - a wet, silvery fish about as big as a human hand. Without another word, she tossed it in the air, leaped slightly - and caught the fish with the tongue that erupted from her face like a fifth digit - a long, muscular limb that caught the fish and pulled it back down into her mouth with a single gulp. She chewed, noisy crunches, swallowed, and made a gesture with her hands as if to say "Ta-da!" 

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Enthusiastic clapping erupted from the third row, Leroy Ransom-Conte bright as the Sun in a gold and yellow three-piece suit styled after the old private school uniform, down to a shield on the left jacket breast. His long hair rested in a thick braid on his right shoulder, feeding into a golden pyramid. Glancing down at a notebook already full of dense handwritten marks in a jagged sort of cuneiform script, the beaming young man spoke up for the first time.


"Good Ackweera, you have met my dragon, Dio, though he was loathe to say where or how. He wishes to ask, your history is dedicated to Hydra and Dagon, but many of the ruins taken as Lemurian bear what we Atlanteans call 'the Yellow Sign'. It turns us into reptilian beings and is considered an evil mark thanks to ties with unfriendly otherdimensional entities, does it have some significance to Deep Ones as well?"


Leroy leaned partly over his desk, golden eyes gleaming in a way oddly like Coral Snake's had those years back. 


"As well, do you know any way for us to learn your language? I recognize of course you have limited time, but might common understanding weaken this blood-feud?"

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The Sea Devil paused, evidently considering this question carefully. "The Golden Sign is a mark of great power," she finally said, emphasizing the description with great care. She sniffed in the boy's direction, trying to get a feel for him as she listened to his voice. "It is not something you should touch. If you see it," she went on seriously, in a tone that sounded a bit like a parent speaking to a child about guns, "You should tell an adult who has power, so they can decide what to do. You can also tell me," she added, "I will be happy to help. There are Surfacers who speak Lemurian, but it can be unhealthy for them," she went on. "The sounds are very powerful and it can hurt their brains. Reading it is better but sometimes even then it can be bad.

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