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Something Fishy - part 2


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previously on Something Fishy


Bessie crossed the Lindroos Bridge, passed through Kingston bringing an unusual sight to the uniform suburbs, and finally arrived in North Bay, where the houses and buildings left place for a red, yellow and brown wall, made of maple and oak trees, hiding the mansions and villas behind a barrier of autumn colors shining beautifully in the sunlight. Bessie lifted clouds of dry leaves as Steam drove her towards the ambassador’s address.

The mansion called the Purple Porch appeared behind a high laurel hedge. It was a Victorian mansion, built in Queen Anne style; it was painted with a faint yellow in and growing up to two stories and an attic set below a very steep roof covered in dark tiles; Bessie seemed almost more fit to be in the yard than the Audi A8 currently parked there. The mansion was slightly below road level, built so that the back yard would end in a small beach facing Great Bay.

"Purple Porch" was probably inaccurate as a nickname, though. "Giant Purple Portico" was more precise in describing how the villa greeted the guests: a large portico held by five columns, all covered in a climbing plant still brightly green, and sporting giant purple flowers as wide as Frisbee disks, in complete contrast to the surrounding flora, flowerless and covered in autumnal colors.

The fine gravel cracked under the shoes as the trio got out of the car.

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"Not bad eh?" said Lord Steam, giving Bessie an affectionate pat on the bonnet as the automobile's engine died down to the tune of hissing copper pipes.

"And this quaint little residence isn't too shabby either!" he commented, taking in its architecture. Not bad at all! he added to himself, if not quite up to Steam Manor's glorious Victorian spendour, in his estimation.

As he stretched his back and tucked his cane under his arm, he caught the muffled sounds of screaming within.

"What's that?" he exclaimed "sounds like someone's in trouble! the timing of arrival seems most oppurtune! A man, a woman...well, more quite possibly...it sounds like haste is needed!"

He gave a quick glance at Bessie, wondering whether to storm the doors with the old car, but decided against it. It would be undiplomatic. And it would damage his lovely car.

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Lucy hopped down from Bessie with a broad grin on her face.

“That Lord Steam was exhilarating! If I ever get around to learning how to drive I must remember to ask you to teach me it this wonderful machine…â€

She stopped suddenly hearing sounds of distress coming from within the building.

“Wait, did you hear that? It sound like someone in trouble, follow me.â€

Without waiting for conformation from the other she ran towards the front door, bracing her shoulder in case it showed any resistance to her blow.

She wasn’t planning to allow just a door to slow her down.

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"It would be my pleasure to give you a lesson my dear" Replied Lord Steam, not missing the oppurtunity despite the cries from within the mansion.

"I say, my dear" he blurted, as Revenant surged ahead. "Perhaps we should utilise a touch of subtlety? As we have the advantage of surprise? We need not bulldoze our way in..."

He winced as Revenant collided with the door...

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Leviathan stepped from the car on shaky legs. Having never traveled by car before, let alone one as... unique as Lord Steam's, Leviathan was left winded with heart racing. Sure, he could instantly jump from one shadow to another, but that was not velocity, it was negating physics. Leviathan was acutely aware the entire ride that at such velocities, physics weren't easily negated in the case of such things as a collision.

Before Veijlial had time to properly compose himself a scream was heard from inside the house, the rest of the party reacted much quicker than him, which was for the best. Leviathan was not at all prepared to reveal his true heritage unless absolutely necessary. Revenant's feat of strength saved him from having to work any magic that would require dropping his facade. While rushing along behind Revenant Leviathan tried to take stock of all he saw, especially the shadowy areas and winced at all the expensive decor he saw. He hoped the ones screaming would be grateful enough to understand any collateral damage that came from rescuing them as his magic wasn't exactly... subtle sometimes.

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“You murderer! He belongs in the Realm! They both do!†thundered the man’s voice.

“He’s not one of your reefcrown jewels! He belong where he…†tried to reply the woman.

As they rushed up the stairs, the heroes heard the shouting come to an abrupt halt. This probably had something to do with the pale woman picking wood splinters from her suit.

When they got to the end of the stairs they found themselves staring into a very large chamber which, on the other side, opened on an equally large solarium facing the sea. A couch, a tea-table and some cushioned chairs were visible.

In the middle of the room stood a very large Atlantean, wearing all the signs of royalty. He was sleeveless under his breastplate inlaid with flowery motifs and his arms were thick and muscle-bound. His long beard and hair dressed in several thick braids, decorated with smooth seashells, were dripping seawater on the floor. He stood about a foot taller than the woman facing him. They recognized her as the ambassador.

Slightly hid by the doorframe, several other Atlanteans were in the room – most of them carrying shortspears.

“What? Who are these people, woman? Did you call your surfacer sentinels in their ridiculous costumes, to hide behind their capes?†he gave the heroes a quick glance. “Stand back, the three of you. This is a matter regarding the Realm, not your pollution nests on the drylands.â€

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Sensing that his apparent heritage might work in his favor, Leviathan stepped forward and pulled the hood from over his head to display his Atlantean features.

"Forgive the hasty intrusion, sirs, madam. We heard screaming and thought that someone might be in danger. I assure you that whatever the ambassador has done, we are not at all part of her plot. As for you ambassador, you have a serious crime to answer for. Not only to the Realm, which you deprived one of it's sons through murder, but also to Freedom City, for committing such an atrocious act in their city. Gentleman, I understand that a question of jurisdiction in regards to the murder, might I suggest that you let us take the ambassador into custody and we can sort out the proverbial red tape down at the police station?

Veijlial put on his best smile while silently sizing up all players in the room, trying to decide which would be the largest threat should this little foray get ugly.

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“I have committed no crime!†shouted the woman in anger after Veijlial’s accusation “I didn’t even know Diocles was dead before he sho…â€

“You will stay silent, murderer!†the warlord’s voice thundered above hers “And you, subject" asked then to Veijlial "what is your name? You do not bear the Ahdahr insignia, were you a companion of Diocles? Or are you one of those fools who deny their contribution to the Realm to fool around on the surface?â€

“Uncle, please…†a feeble voice came from the other end of the room “she couldn’t have killed Diocles… she was with me the whole time – we never parted…â€

“You will speak when I give you permission, child!†the warlord’s eyes moved towards the young man who spoke. He too was Atlantean, though in sharp contrast with the guards holding him, was wearing a shirt and a pair of jeans instead of breastplate and sharkskin clothes.

“The murderer will face trial and execution in front of the Throne. When a son of the Realm is killed, the murderer pays. We do not behave like you barbarians on your little islands of concrete and fumes, letting criminals and assassins escape from cells made out of sand.†The warlord gestured towards the guards. One of them grabbed the ambassador’s arms, the other one forced on her face a breathing apparatus. Then he looked to his nephew “You, child, will come back to court, apologize to the King and to your father, earn your adulthood and behave like a true son of the Seven Seas. And if you have loyalty left in you, subject, you'll come with us.†He looked at Veijlial, then the Atlanteans and their prisoner started walking out the solarium.

The ambassador turned her head and casted a last, begging glance towards the heroes.

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"Sirs, sirs, there really is no need to quabble!" piped up Lord Steam, leaning on his Cane and taking a relaxed posture.

"And no need to go banding around accusations of barbarism where there is none. I mean..." he said, frowning slightly at the regal Atlantean "...whilst this of course not England" he quivered his eyebrows "..these colonials still follow the principles of law and order, fair trial, habeus corpus, and all that.."

He trailed off.

"...just like you do, as you aren't barbarians." he added.

He coughed politely and raised himself off his cane.

"Suchwith and soforth the circumstances et-set-er-rah et-set-er-rah" he bluffed "I am sure that due legal process can be gone through in both worlds. We are not barbarians, we would all want fair trial. Avoid any miscarriage of justice, establish the facts, soforth and suchwith..."

He straightened up slightly.

"As a nominated ambassador" he added without explaining the context "I would have to insist that the whole matter is investigated properly and legally. A concern I am sure your civilised society would share!"

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The warlord raised a fist and the guards stopped walking. He turned around to face Lord Lucien. “King Theseus did not speak often to the Court about your laws and trials… most of all he spoke of your laughable cells. You don’t consider yourself barbarians? Maybe soft fools would be more appropriate, then.†He didn’t grin as he said that.

He waited a second, thinking, then snorted. “Your presence at the trial, ambassador, along with functionaries of the surface law, would be acceptable. King Theseus may even agree to a trial on a neutral ground, with dual judges. But we will not entrust her custody to those children’s sandcastles you call prisons. Not while she carries a future son of the Realm inside her. We will wait a caelania for your delegation…†he paused for a second “… a full moon cycle, as it is. That is Atlantis’ final offer. You want proof? Here's your proof!â€

He tossed a long knife at Lord Steam's feet.

Blade image

"Orichalcum blade. One of the few able to make so clean a cut through a breastplate." he seemd to get even more angry "She used a parting gift from the Realm to take away one of his sons! You won't deny Atlantis a rightful revenge!"

"Please, uncle Brutus, you have to listen to me… she is innocent! You’ve been misled! We just want to…†a backhand slap interrupted the nephew’s speech, along with breaking his upper lip “Iobatus… I warned you about talking. Until you complete your Ohdra-Fharnel, you have no saying in grown men’s affairs.â€

The mouth covered with the breathing apparatus, the ambassador couldn’t scream. But her eyes were red with tears.

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Lord Steam plucked out a silk handkerchief and gently picked up the blade from where it lay.

"Thanks for your helpfulness, Sir" he said graciously "and, if I may say, a credit to your investigative skills to identify so valuable piece of information. I presume you have already put this piece of evidence under the forensic microscope?"

He coughed into his other hand politely.

"After all, I am sure you would want to be crystal clear in your conviction of the suspect" he continued "and I am sure you have no objection to sharing your microscopic and DNA findings along with wound penetration studies, microfillaments, shatter lines, and projected line of impact and force calculations? just in the interest of clarity?"

He cleared his throat politely.

"I would be most interested personally in my role as ambassador. And of course, should you need them I would be happy to run the required forensic analysis myself for your interest..."

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Lord Brutus turned around, crossed the space separating him from the heroes and placed a hand as large a frying pan a few inches from Steam’s face. “I’m tired of your wordplay and your condescendence , you surfacer fopling!†he laid his index finger on Steam’s chest, leaving seawater drops on his shirt, then pressed slightly and pushed the Victorian detective two steps back.

“A woman I believed a friend of the Realm disgraced my nephew and murdered a fine Atlantean, today. On my shoulders falls the burden of taking care of her evildoings, here in this disgraced, loud and foul-smelling dryland! If you are looking for a way of letting me discharge my rage, I say you succeeded, ambassador.â€.

At these words two of the four guards immediately run to his side, spears pointed towards the trio. “A couple of clownfish popinjays airbreathers and a renegade… I needed this.†He cracked his knuckles.

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"So be it, Sir!" replied Lord Steam, defiantly "You have shown yourself to be the cad that you are! No civilised gentleman would act so!"

He whipped out his cane into a fighting stance and knocked aside two clumsy spear jabs from the advancing Atlanteans.

"And your cronies are no better!" he added, as his cane spun in his hand and returned to strike his assailants.

"Foolish brute!" he said, still aiming his words at the Regal Brutus. "If you can't hold your own in a battle of wits, then you will be outwitted! What hope do you have of maintaining any credibility here? You, sir, have lost the fight before it has even begun!"

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Leviathan cursed under his breath as things went from heated to boiling and weapons were drawn. He did not wish to reveal his true appearance, especially to the Atlanteans, who had nothing but a deep prejudice for his kind. Having little choice in the matter, and deciding to show restraint instead of blatant violence, Veijlial conjured black tentacles from below the Atlantean Warlord, attempting to fix him to his place and keep him from attacking his allies. The tentacles had little effect, however, as the warlord sidestepped the gathering pool of darkness beneath his feet.

As the spell formed, Leviathan's prior spell dissipated, and the Atlantean facade melted away, revealing the scaled green-black flesh beneath. His teeth became pointed monstrosities and his eyes clouded to a deep soul-swallowing ebony. Leviathan did not attempt to hide the transformation, hoping it might take the Atlanteans aback enough to offer his friends an advantage.

"As you can see sire, the term 'rebel' doesn't quite do me justice."

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Lord Brutus watched the display of incompetence of his guards with rage rising in his eyes; his flexed muscles displayed a web of veins throbbing under the pale skin. He just snorted at Steam’s provocation, blinded by his emotions. But it was only when Leviathan’s façade faded that the rage exploded for good.

“SCALY ONE!†he roared “So your claws are behind this ignominy too! Is no depth too low for your kin?†he prepared to charge, eyes burning with hatred now “Mark my words, you unnatural abomination, I will rip your twisted limbs from your body and bring your head to my King alongside your surfacer pawn!â€

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Lucy had been trying to follow the conversations between Lord Steam and this Atleantean, all the while trying to dredge up her knowledge of Ancient Greek law. It looked for just a moment like this whole mess could be solved peacefully.

Of cause this all went to pot when this important Atleanean decided to cause trouble.

“You obviously need to learn to relax a little.†She glanced back at the strange form Leviathan now took “And learn to embrace differences.â€

She gave a wicked smile.

“I think I’m going to enjoy this.â€

Then she hit him.

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Revenant’s mighty punch impacted on the warlord’s abs as if it was a brick wall.

“Foolish girl!†Revenant’s fist disappeared in Brutus's huge hand as he grabbed her before she had time to rise her guard “you will not stop me from my revenge on your abomination of a companion!â€

His eyes bloodshot with rage turned back to gaze at Leviathan; then, quickly and surprisingly gracefully for a man his size, he moved a step towards the girl, put his shoulder under her armpit and pulled down her wrist. He loaded all of her weight on his shoulders and with a semi-circular motion, leveraged against her arm and threw her at Leviathan. He laughed, filled with the ecstasy of battle as her body flew for a few feet and impacted on Leviathan’s “My knuckles will sing while shattering your bones, you reject of the ocean! Bring it on if you dare!â€

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"I certainly dare!" replied Lord Steam defiantly, noting the Strength of his foe.

I'm not fighting fair with this one...

"You underestimate your odds, arrogant one!" he said without flinching a muscle "Did you think we came without reinforcements?" he continued, before looking over the Lord's. "

"He's all yours, Captain Thunder!" he said with a smug, confident look at the imaginary hero who was not-really advancing to his Lordship's Rear.

If only for an instant, Brutus looked. An instant was all it took for Lord Steam's Cane to come crashing down on his head with a powerful blow.

Not powerful enough he conceded, as the sturdy stick bounced off the head of Lord Brutus.

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Feeling through the impact with Revenant the strength of the Atlantean Warlord, and seeing the way his fellow heroes' attacks bounced off the raging noble, Veijlial thought it best to continue a less... direct approach to solving the problem.

Muttering the words, Leviathan again brought shadowy tentacles to bear against the warlord, this time achieving his goal as the tentacles lashed out from beneath the Atlantean, wrapping themselves around his legs. Knowing this would only be a temporary reprieve, and would soon serve only to irk the already angry sea dweller, Leviathan backpedaled away from him, into the nearest darkened corner. Hopefully his compatriots would have a better chance at subduing the brute now that he was significantly impeded movement wise.

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By the time she had stood up the bruises caused by her throw were already fading. As Revenant stood up she clicked her neck. She looked all business and had a rather wicked grin on her face.

“So that’s how you want to play it. Anger, Violence and Intolerance no wonder Atlantis sank.â€

As she spoke she ran towards the Atleanean gathering up speed as she went. At the last moment she almost lost her footing but recovered in time to plant a well-aimed blow with her shoulder into the small of the Atleaneans back.

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Brutus was distracted by the tentacles of shadow that Leviathan summoned, and Revenant hit him perfectly. The Warlord roared in pain and had to bend a knee to withstand the hit. At first he seemed more shaken by the blow than he really was, though. He quickly jumped on his feet again and ripped apart Veijlial’s magic grasp, that dissolved into shreds of shadow.

“Touching me with your impure and corrupt arts will only make your demise more painful, monster! You will soon run out of tricks, and then I shall rip apart your true limbs! Guards! Take care of this other annoyances!â€

The Atlantean soldiers moved almost before their master gave the order. With a short run they reached the melee and struck at Revenant: the points of their spears flashed quick and lethal towards her throat.

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"You started it" replied Lord Steam, calmly, as he slightly spun on one heel to meet the charging guards. With a surprising turn of speed, he slipped between the spears and his cane flew left and right like a striking snake.

"And it seems, we will finish it!" he added.

"Hubris!" he snapped at Lord Brutus "has it permeated your skull yet that your own arrogance and stupidity has defeated you? the battle was lost before it began! You should choose your fights, not let them choose you. And thus it is, your humiliation is complete!"

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Leviathan was all to familiar with the pejorative. Bigotry, threats of violence, and narrow-mindedness were things Veijlial dealt with on a daily basis. In essence: been there, done that. Even coming from one of Brutus size and strength, Veijlial's skin was tough in more ways than one and the effects were somewhat less than what Lord Brutus expected.

Leviathan laughed.

"I have witnessed the cruelty of the sea incarnate, my lord. I have ridden tsunamis and drank down typhoons to tap their power. And what, you're small minded comments are supposed to leave me quaking in my admittedly scaly skin? You shall have to do better than that to harm me, or deter me."

As evidenced to his tenacity, Leviathan yet again muttered the words of entrapment, sending out the long tentacles to ensnare his foe.

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Revenant decided that the Ambassador was unlikely to respond to the heroes taunts. Not that it wasn’t fun, but a constant barrage was just a little too much. Instead she just gave the Atlantean host a manic little grin as she manoeuvre around there leader. She shouldn’t but she’d always enjoy this since she was a kid.

Spotting her chance she hit upwards catching the man in his stomach, maybe not the most honourable of blow but she had learned her fighting schools on the streets. The blow felt solid but the man was, like herself, tougher than he looked.

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Revenant hit hard, and Brutus definitely felt the blow - he exaled in pain and bent a it forward as the fist impacted on his stomach.

The evergrowing rage shone red in his eyes as he tossed aside the undead girl. He gave her just a scowl, even if she'd been the most serious threat so far "Out of my way, woman! I shall deal with you after the monster."

The guards attempted two clumsy spear thrusts against the more expert Revenant and Lord Steam; as their attacks predictably failed, Lord Brutus's veins throbbed under his pale skin as he called upon every bit of strength he had. Then he sprinted towards Leviathan, jumped in mid-run, raised his elbow and landed it on Leviathan's shoulder.

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