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Octoman

 

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"General Dalekos said Theodora had gone missing," Heroditus interjected, "after the attack. That does not automatically mean she was kidnapped," he said defensively, "she may well have pursued them as they retreated.  She is not some coy damsel to be rescued, she is a... a..." his eyes darted around a bit as he searched for the proper English word, "a firecracker, very active, aggressive, and I can easily see her moving to take the fight to them.  But she may have rushed in where prudence would be more advisable."

 

Octoman held up his hands in a placating gesture. "OK, OK, chill, I get it, Sis equals Badass, Trinity, Lara Croft, Pam Grier, Michelle Yeoh, I know the type, I feel ya."

 

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He shook his head, made a few whistle-click Atlantean murmurings.  "If we are very fortunate, we shall catch up with her as she readies an assault.  If we are less fortunate, we may find her as she retreats from a failed attack."

 

"So we find her and then we go all back-to-back bam-bam-POW with her. Cool." He balled his hands into fists and made a jab-jab-haymaker motion in the empty water in front of him.

 

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"Well well well!" Dalekos was on his feet in the bridge, animated with excitement as the old-fashioned crystal display before them magnified the scene below. The horde of Deep Ones below was frightening, the barbarous temple intimidating, the small group at its top a mystery. "The Harbinger _and_ the Surfacer's pet, all in one place." The view didn't let them make out the words, but they could see the blue-skinned humanoid and the small cluster of deep-dwelling Deep Ones, as well as the armored figure of the Surface 'heroine' Sea Devil. "Perhaps we have a greater opportunity here than we thought." The Harbinger turned his body in the direction of the submarine's 'cameras' as they approached, showing the grisly trophy that hung from his neck. The female that was with him didn't quite face the camera, her tentacles waving as she spoke to the Sea Devil.

 

"'Harbinger'? Now THAT's a full-on supervillain name. MAD sinister, nobody calls himself 'The Harbinger' unless HOLY SHHHCOW is that a freakin' SEVERED HAND he's wearin' as BLING? OK, yeah, BAD GUY. And is that...aw man, I KNEW she'd go evil again! SO MANY PEOPLE gettin' told I told 'em so after this!"

 

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"Boys, are you prepared?"

 

Octoman stood up straight, as much as anyone could "stand" underwater, rested his fists on his hips, and looked Dalekos right in the eye (though it was hard to tell, since Octoman's eyes appeared to be featureless white orbs). "I was BORN ready...Oh man, I've always wanted to say that! But yeah, uh, stealth mode!" He held his hands in a "two thumbs up" gesture as the colors of his skin gradually changed to match those of the surrounding environment. In a little over a second, the Sensational Cephalopod had completely vanished. He could still be heard half-humming, half-singing a piece of music most likely unfamiliar to the present Atlanteans.

 

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The Front 

 

Dalekos led the way up the temple steps as part of his disguised force swam behind him, turning his back to the Deep One mob below them with the bravery of an Atlantean warrior. Their submarine hovered roughly horizontally across the plane of the steps, a dark line across the crowd beneath. There were songs and howls and grunts behind them, but Dalekos kept his eyes fixed on those above. When he'd reached them, he bowed unhesitatingly before the Harbinger. "Greetings, my lord. I bring my greatest warriors to pledge to your cause."

 

"Rise, Talek," said the Harbinger with the air of a beneficent monarch. "I am glad to see so many of your tribe have joined us - that the Children of Dagon are not the only ones who stand against the corrupt Throne of Atlantis!" The crowd below, anyway, sung in their triumph and Aquaria snorted at the blasphemy; then realized what she could smell. Something familiar, and close by. Closing her eyes and briefly ignoring the prattle of the Atlantean as he introduced his traveling party, she listened with senses that could hear the song of the universe and realized she could hear something moving past them in the direction of the temple, something, no, someone that she recognized. 

 

She opened her eyes, stared at the arriving Atlanteans as they made their obeisance to the Harbinger and his hooded mate and realized something. She recognized one, no, two of them! Reflexively she closed the faceplate of her helmet, the opaque features hiding her expression. An Atlantean general and the Atlantean who studied at Claremont! They must be here for the hostages; curse the luck. Did they not realize I can tell one Atlantean from another? Perhaps she couldn't blame them for making the mistake; frankly it was _not_ easy with them or any other being that bore the mask of Surfacemen, but those two had impressed themselves on her memory quite well.

 

She cleared her faceplate after a moment, not sure what to do. Expose these Atlanteans, and risk a war - or hope that they came only to save the hostages and not to kill her people before her eyes? Well, when she put it that way, she knew her play.

 

"Why do you come here?" she demanded suddenly, interposing her way into the conversation with the frankness a true Deep One should show - not the honeyed words of the transformed Surface-Man. "This is no place for the likes of you. This place is already mine!" She thought about shouting a warning in English, but of course the mutated Surface-Man would speak that. Instead she fixed her gaze on Dalekos and Heroditus among the troops. 


"Patience, Sea Devil!" laughed the Harbinger with a smug tone that made Aquaria want to shove her trident down his throat. "Talek has been in our camp for some time. Why should there not be an Atlantean on their Throne, when the stars are right?

 

"As you say, Lord," said Dalekos smoothly. "But until that great day comes, I bring only gifts that I might buy the freedom of those of my poor foolish _civilized_ countrymen who fell victim to your raid. Surely even the Surfacer's pet would not disagree?" Two of the Atlantean soldiers dropped an impressive-looking chest of ancient Atlantean design on the temple platform as he spoke. 

 

Aquaria resisted the urge to tell the Harbinger that when the stars were right there would be no thrones, and no kings, save Dagon and Hydra and the other Gods Below, something any Deep One should know! Instead she bellowed, "He thinks you are a fool; you prove him right to take these dolphins to your bosom!" She struck the ground with her trident. "I too have come here for those you have taken - but I offer you no baubles from those who kill us for their sport. Are you so _weak_ that you take them?" It was a vile insult, but no worse than sneering about her sexual habits.  

 

"Do none of _us_ get a chance to speak, amid all this bellowing?" The Harbinger's mate threw back her hood - and Theodora smiled at her brother with pointed teeth. "Hello, brother. I'm so glad you're here." She smiled (not blank, not horror, but the teasing superiority that Heroditus knew well when his sister was feeling bold) as tentacles emerged from her robe, and raised a hand emblazoned (much to Aquaria's horror) with the golden sign of the king in its three-fold glory. "We have such sights to show you..." 

 

The Back 

 

Evidently realizing that they'd spotted his 'tail', the Deep One who'd followed Miss Grue and Wraith around to the rear entrance of the temple didn't bother to conceal himself. Raising a bone-tipped spear, he called, "What ho!" He clung to the stony flanks of the ancient monument and said. "Prisoners are for the leaders, outlanders. Whose people are you?" Up close, the cyclopean bulk of the temple loomed, casting where they stood into a darkness that no visible light could penetrate. They could hear sounds coming from within by the iron-seeming grate that blocked their path further, voices and other sounds coming from mammalian rather than aquatic throats. The Atlantean prisoners had to be close by indeed inside the temple's bulk. 

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Heroditus remained quiet at first, letting Dalekos take the lead (and because he wasn't sure he could restrain himself from making rude comments about the Deep Ones around them).  But as soon as he and the Harbinger began talking, an even slimier sensation came over him.  Dalekos said we would be playing the part of a barbarian warlord and his vassals, come to parlay with Deep One chiefs.  But Harbinger says he 'has been in their camp for some time'?  Dalekos sees the Deep Ones as monsters, he wouldn't be in league with them... would he?  He did a double take at the chest Dalekos' men offered, such a gift would fit with the proposed ruse, but are those worthless baubles, or true Atlantean treasures?  Has he been covertly aiding them?  If so, is it for their benefit, or his?  His family were true barbarians, assimilated into Atlantis only a few generations ago -- could he be trying to rally aid to conquer Atlantis for himself?

 

And then he saw his sister.  He darted back reflexively, then moved back in to get a better look at her.   "<Theodora!?  What... how... sister, what have they done to you?!>"

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Miss Grue

Daphne must have been getting rusty she’d never considered the currents and flows of the water would affect her concealment, she was after all not really one that lived in such a medium. Thinking quickly she shifted as she dropped her concealment becoming a version of herself with her features suitably altered to be a Deep One.

<” I’m sorry for the deception but Lady Aquaria thought it wise fo us to act in haste.”> as she spoke Deep One she provided an instant translation for Wraith

<” Alas we must act with some haste, if you wish to assist us in this task we’d be grateful. I have been away from the glorious sea for far to long.”>

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Wraith watched the scene not from the ground, but from up the side of the temple - she'd flattened herself against a surface shadow, trading her normally-smooth silver for a dull, matte shade reminiscent of iron and patina'd copper.

 

Letting her copper oxidize itched, and she looked forward to scraping it off, but for now it broke up her profile and with the help of the shade she was just this side of invisible. It was a good perch; she could watch the Deep One below, listen to the temple behind, and if there was a sudden change in the latter she could come down on the former like the metaphorical sack of human hammers.

 

...probably. Three black eyes slid across her body to eye the temple and her would-be quarry. Water was complicated; she might have to push off pretty hard to get to him in time. She would have to hope that Daphne could handle it.

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Octoman

 

The Crime-Fighting Kraken's already-slightly-too-wide eyes grew even wider when Artificer's sister revealed her disfigurement. OH SNAP! Mermaid-Girl went all freaky fish-monster on us! Damn, this is some REAL stuff Squaddy's going through right now, and I wanna be here for him. But he's got a whole Squad of other Squaddies backin' him up right now. And someone's gotta go help those hostages. That's what Geckoman would do. Sorry, Dude. You're the distraction this time. I'll be back as soon as I can.

 

Still invisible to the naked eye, Octoman swam as quickly and quietly as he could toward the temple. He silently chuckled to himself as he looked down at himself, spotting the tiniest distortion between his body and the surroundings they were mimicking. "If it bleeds, we can kill it." Wait, no, I'M "it." Bad example. He crept up the walls, searching for a way inside. Gotta take it slow. Can't get a jet boost without ripping a super-fart, bubbles might as well be road flares lettin' everyone know I'm here. 'Sides, skin pigments can't keep up with the background if I go too fast. Learned THAT one the hard way. OK, start at the top, work your way down. Even fish-people never look up. There's gotta be somethin'...a hole, a vent, even a crack, somethin' I can squeeze through...

 

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