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It was in the gala when the monster met the god; the former nude and glistening save for her leather harness, the latter magnificently attired in Greco-Roman armor that gleamed with the light of purest divine orichalcum. Aquaria was standing by the punch when Poseidon approached. To her delight, he recognized her, golden eyes widening and aristocratic nose wrinkling as he took her in. "You!" 

 

"Me!" Aquaria croaked in agreement, feet sticking noisily to the floor as she stepped away from the bowl. "Atlantis-god!" she added in a bellow. "Do I surprise you?

 

Poseidon smiled behind his green seafoam beard. "Child of Dagon, child of Hydra, nothing you could do could possibly surprise me. Are you fool enough to strike me beneath the banner of sacred hospitality?"

 

"One so wise knows," she croaked firmly, remembering her strict instructions about how to behave. "I come among you without fear under that banner. A child of Dagon, a child of Hydra.

 

"Do you not fear the gods of your enemies?" inquired Poseidon, raising an eyebrow. 

 

"There are no gods but Dagon and Hydra," Aquaria co-axed quickly, "those that follow you and yours would say other." They were getting louder and Aquaria caught their names among the buzz of conversation around them and pressed on. "It is you who should fear me, Atlantis-god," she said suddenly. "I teach the Surfacers the truth!

 

Poseidon glowered. "What is this truth? That only a mad Deep One, one who has abandoned her own people, could stand among them as an equal? If that is your teaching then yes, you have taught them much." 

 

Aquaria bit down lightly on the inside of her mouth to keep from trying to bite Poseidon in the face, in her mind hearing the echoes of Atlantean weapons-fire, of the murdered uneaten bodies of her tribe. "I have shown them who the true monsters are below! They have learned that Atlantis is a cruel empire of conquerors. They are a wise people above, and they will not love your deluded followers forever!

 

Poseidon actually laughed. "Are you so toothless, woman? Can you stand there and tell me, child of Dagon and Hydra, that your people are but helpless innocents? They would rend you limb from limb for that and cast your bones to the fish!" He got close, unafraid to put his head near enough to Aquaria's face that she could have bitten it off. "I know this because I have seen this happen to every Deep One who has ever raised their head!" 

 

"Come and see my teeth," said Aquaria, baring them in the display that looked like a forced smile to Surface eyes. "I know you have none!" she added. "Everyone else has forgotten what happened when the Terminus last came but I have not! When this realm was threatened it was my gods who came, not the Surface gods, and not you! You are weak." she pronounced with a great feeling of satisfaction in her breast. 

"I will be sure to remember those foolish words," said Poseidon testily, "when next we meet." His own threat made, he stepped past Aquaria and poured himself a cup of punch, not noticing that Aquaria had by her presence discouraged anyone else from this particular bowl once she was sure that Poseidon was about to see her. 


The god raised a glass to his lips, threw it back - and then his eyes widened with disgust as he spat out all that was left. "Fool! You drank it! Ha!" she bellowed with laughter, then louder, "He drank it! He drank it like his own wine!" And though she found herself escorted roughly from the premises afterwards, it was a very good day. 

 

That should be a fine enough distraction, she thought much later, sitting on a Freedom City dock and looking out at the comforting waters of the Atlantic. I have done my part, and tonight will rest with those I love. Above, the stars shone down in their splendor, and she was content. 

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