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The Tyrrhenian Sea subdivision of the Mediterranean Sea,

June 24, 2013


Giang Trang sliced through the clear blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Graceful and poised on land, the Asian teen was perhaps even more so underwater, seamlessly banking and turning as she swam amid a small school of giant devil rays.  Reaching wing spans of up to seventeen feet across, the large rays were impressively graceful swimmers, and truly majestic to behold.


The last couple of weeks had been an incredible experience for Giang.  Her friend and roommate at Claremont Academy, Thaelia, had invited the Asian teen to spend part of the summer break visiting in Atlantis.  So Giang had been a guest of the Atlantean royal family, of which Thaelia was a member, allowing her to see the wonders of the legendary city and continent located in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. 


After spending two weeks in the Atlantic, Thaelia had brought Giang to visit the Atlantean outpost of Crantorium, which was located in the depths of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a section of the Mediterranean Sea generally bound by Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and most of the western coast of the Italian peninsula.  Crantorium's shallower depth, and relative proximity to even shallower waters near the various islands and Italy, made the outpost something of a resort location for Atlanteans. 


In addition to the marvelous sights and experiences the trip had provided, it also provided Giang with the ability to relax more than usual, as it was highly unlikely that either her father or any of Dr. Sin's other lieutenants would be able to locate her among the Atlanteans.  The somewhat more carefree attitude she was feeling was rather evident as she swam alongside the school of devil rays.  Banking slightly as the school veered around a large rocky outcropping, Giang looked back over one shoulder to ensure that Thaelia was still alongside, though the Asian teen had little doubt, as the Atlantean was an equally powerful swimmer.


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Thaelia was matching Giang's pace, stroke for stroke.  Though not exactly her enthusiasm with the Devil rays.  The dark haired teen could barely hold make a smile.  The Atlantean royal certainly enjoyed her friend's company and was somewhat relieved when Giang agreed to come to Atlantis in the first place.  Especially as it provided the added benefit of Thaelia not having to worry about her roommate being kidnapped.  Although some part of her was curious as to what it would be like to have a father have that much of an interest in their child, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.


While she would never utter a complaint about her tutelage on the surface world, Thaelia still couldn't help but feel its natural beauty would never compare to the world hidden within the depths of the sea.  She was home and her body knew it.  With every stroke she felt her heart almost skip a beat with excitement.  No longer feeling restricted by the short span of the Claremont's pool.  Which over the past few months had become as close to a home away from home as she could get.


Not that she would ever admit to being homesick, especially to her family during the course of the previous few weeks.  She loved them all the same.  But Thaelia was far too prideful to even consider letting that much of a softer side slip out.  As sophisticated as the underwater magical society was, they were still a warrior people.  Of course that didn't mean they didn't know just how to relax as the atlantean was hoping to show Giang with Crantorium's beauty.  "You could easily fool someone into thinking you were a child of the sea at the rate you're going. Haha!"

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Giang gave Thaelia a small smile as the pair continued along with the school of devil ray.  Then, somewhat suddenly, the ocean floor dropped off steeply into darker depths below.  The school of ray continued forward, moving out into the open water, the two teens following along.


"I may have lived all my life thus far on the surface," Giang began in reply, as she glanced around her at the clear blue waters that seemed to extend without end in almost all directions, "but I find myself feeling a strong connection with the sea that has only grown the longer I have been here."


The Asian teen looked back over at her roommate as she continued.  "Of course, I have never spent such a long period of time beneath the waves as this."

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There was a time where Thaelia would not have been allowed to travel without armed accompaniment.  Either they had more faith in her after a semester without incident or they had just enough faith in the atlantean's roommate to keep her head out of trouble.  Both possibilities had the questionable air of assuming that the youth was better at thinking before acting at this point.
She hadn't brought the subject up seeing as they were in the comfort of guards back home.  But Thaelia had yet to remind her roommate of the risks in the ocean depths that accompanied the wonders.  "Well if you enjoy it so much perhaps this can become a regular occurrence?  I am forever grateful that the administrators at Claremont roomed me with someone who has a shared appreciation for the ocean.  But...barbarians, warlords and the like.  I'm glad you're enjoying yourself.  Also remember to keep a vigilant eye in case we run into someone a bit more possessive with their own connection to the sea.  Not all creatures are like the rays we're swimming with."
The excitement in her voice was palpable.  Although she was attempting to warn Giang about possible dangers, it was easy to tell that the atlantean warrior wouldn't be opposed to actually getting into said danger.  Being the far less level headed of the pair.

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Giang looked over to Thaelia with a smile as the Atlantean teen mentioned the possibility that the Asian teen might visit the undersea kingdom more often.  "I certainly would not mind having a chance to visit more often, but I am not ready to abandon the world above, despite how difficult my father and his enemies have made things there for me."


She then nodded as the other girl mentioned the potential dangers they could encounter in the ocean depths.  "Thank you for the reminder of the need for vigilance Thaelia.  I am mindful that there could be dangers within the oceans, but one can always become distracted if they are not careful."


Giang did not miss the tone in Thaelia's voice that suggested the other teen would welcome a chance to deal with some form of danger.  It had certainly become evident during sessions in the Wreck Room at school that the Atlantean enjoyed a good fight.  While Giang was certainly a competent combatant, she generally preferred to find alternatives to fighting when she could.  However, since coming to Claremont Academy, she had seemed to find herself in a number of situations where she had no other option but to fight.

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"I'm still not used to it honestly.  The world above.  I like the surface dwellers, um...people, well enough.  But life up there seems to lack the same glory to it.  Does that make any sense?  Your people tell stories daily of your warriors as they fend off in those square boxes.  Why is it only a select few take the efforts to try and commit the feats that would earn them.  Would not your world be a better place if everyone aspired to be one of your heroes?  I am not implying everyone should be pursuing a warrior's lifestyle.  But shouldn't they pursue more meaning?"  It was clear that her culture shock hadn't quite faded from life up on the surface.  She liked people, but she found it incredibly difficult to relate to the lifestyle of an average civilian in Freedom City.


It was a conflict that she often found herself at odds with.  Especially as she was most accustomed to matters that she could solve with more straightforward means, as opposed to an abstract understanding of her fellow man.  It was a learning process.  Luckily, when she was interested in something she put her all into it.  Case in point, she quickly moved on from whatever sociological and philosophical difficulties she was having and sped towards her friend.  "Have you ever seen a coral reef up close?  They're so beautiful.  Let us see if we can find one nearby."

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Giang listened to Thaelia's comments about what she found confusing about the surface world, giving a slight understanding nod.  "Unfortunately, the basic needs of survival are often the focus for many living on the surface, preventing them from being able to pursue some higher meaning.  Others allow themselves to remain complacent with their situations, even if they might wish for something better."  She replied.   


When the Atlantean teen changed subjects, asking if Giang had ever seen a coral reef up close, the Asian teen shook her head.  "No, I have never had the opportunity." 


The two teens turned away from the path the group of rays was following, and instead descended further into the depths below.  The Mediterranean Sea was not known for coral reefs, in part due to cooler water temperatures, but also a result of centuries of damage caused by humans.  But, there were still a few areas with such reefs, and in particular deep sea reefs, which were often much more difficult to locate, unless one was able to easily access the depths.


Giang and Thaelia swam down a couple thousand feet below the surface, weaving among the somewhat barren rocky outcroppings and valleys.  But after a short while, they were able to locate a large deep sea reef that stretched out from a small rocky cliff.  While not quite as bright and colorful a tropical coral reef, there was still a considerable amount of biodiversity arrayed before them.

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Thaelia was positively beaming as they set their eyes upon the reef. "Places like this make the voyage worth it.  I once got lost in one of the forests beneath the sea.  Only found my way out thanks to catching sight of one of these reefs.  All of them having their unique beauty makes for readied landmarks.  I got such a long lecture on how it was improper to run off into a forest without telling anyone when I got home."

Thaelia shrugged after her reminiscence had come to a close. The trip out to the Mediterranean was everything she had hoped it would be as far as relaxation went. Actually the past few weeks in general had been pretty great. "Of course there are some less than natural formations lying about that make for good markers as well. Vessels, abandoned cities, even some fortresses that were razed by surface-dwellers and eventually sunk. But as this reef shows, above all there is life down here." The atlantean didn't agree with the use of the sea as a sort of resting ground for the belongings of the surface. However, not everyone on the surface could experience its wonders as easily as Giang, so that was to be expected.

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Giang listened to her friend as they slowed down, almost gliding over the top of the reef, taking in the stunning sights as well as Thaelia's words.  "I have seen jungles in Vietnam and the Lost World, some time I would very much like to see one of those undersea forests."  The Asian teen replied as her eyes followed the quick movements of small fish that were swimming among the anemones growing on the reef. 


She looked back over at Thaelia as the Atlantean mentioned some of the refuse from the surface world that, one way or another, had found its way into the ocean over the millennia.  It was regrettable that so much from the surface world would find its way down into the depths to pollute the natural beauty of the undersea world.  Though, not all of it was intentional, such as cities that had been swallowed by the sea, or vessels that had been sunk in storms or other accidents.  "It is too bad there is so much the surface world has cast off down here.  Unfortunately, humans do not always fully consider the potential effects of their actions."

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"Perhaps we could take a stop to one of the more exotic forests down here during our vacation at some point.  I must ask...what is the Lost World like?"  The excitement in her voice permeating through the water.  There were many locales she had been in her life for the purpose of diplomacy.  None of them had real life dinosaurs walking about.  Unless you counted the rows of teeth on some questionable sea creatures in the bottom of the ocean's depths.
"Atlanteans have our own wasteful ways.  Much as I would enjoy to deny it.  Ours just tend to have magical properties attached.  It is not as if I am a very environmentally conscious being to begin with.   But it isn't exactly their domain to tread upon to begin with.  And well, if it hasn't become apparent we are not exactly a people to shy away from war.  Not that I expect one to occur.  Also, I have my own connection to the water to begin with so it teeters on dangerous ground.  On the bright side, your sea faring vessels are a delight to explore when they sink."  Exploration that she was not likely permitted to undertake. Not that a lack of permission ever stopped the teen from taking an action once she got an idea in her stubborn head.  Thaelia's eyes began to wander as she examined the various fish wading by.  At least the ones that weren't startled by the presence of two teenagers.

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Giang smiled slightly at the excitement in Thaelia's voice as the Atlantean teen asked about the Lost World.  "It was a truly amazing place, in its own way."  The Asian teen began.  "A vast prehistoric jungle teeming with dinosaurs and other animals now extinct on Earth.  The dinosaurs were quite impressive to behold.  In addition to humans living in small villages throughout the jungle, there was a small territory controlled by a remnant of the Roman Empire, founded by descendants of Roman settlers who were transported to the Lost World centuries ago.  There was also a city founded by Incans who were trapped there as well.  We were able to visit all of these places, and help them when tribes of Serpent People controlling an army of dinosaurs tried to destroy them all."


Now that the two teens had slowed down and were drifting through the currents around the deep water reef, more and more fish were starting to come back out from hiding and were swimming around the area once more.  Giang turned to watch the fish as well, doing her best to keep her movements slow and calm, so as not to startle them once again.

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"Lizard People?  Do you mean the Lemurians?"  Instinctively Thaelia began to look around.  Almost expecting someone to be eavesdropping.  The word carried a whole host of enmity by itself couple it with the words army and destruction and one was liable to get the wrong person a bit too on edge.  Whether through justified paranoia or through the veil of darker shades of emotion the sordid history that led to the creation of many of the underwater ruins still leaves a bad taste in many the mouth of an Atlantean.  Thaelia wasn't particularly an exception, the teen simply chose not to care about events that happened thousands of years before she was born.  It still left enough room to be wary but not enough to hold them in contempt.  After all, life wasn't exactly cesspool of suffering under the sea.


Thaelia jokingly made puffed out her face as a comedic looking fish swam by.  Attempting to mimic its appearance as she turned to her roommate to try and commit to her version of a joke.  It wasn't exactly stand up at a nightclub, the atlantean's sense of humor being as straightforward as her personality.

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Elsewhere, on the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea….


The midday sun shone brightly on the clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Seagulls bobbed on the surface of the relatively calm waters, resting before preparing to set off in search of food once more.  But with the approach of a large vessel, the birds took flight, squawking as they scattered to the winds.


The Python was a somewhat battered trawler, but still sturdy enough for the calm weather these waters were currently enjoying.  Several crew members were moving about the decks, busy with the routine tasks that filled their days.  On the ship's bridge, one crewman was watching the Python's GPS as the vessel slowly chugged through the waves.  The ship had just reached a waypoint that had been set in the GPS, a small "ding" sounding to ensure the event was noticed.


"We've arrived.  Someone needs to go tell the captain."  The man said to the other two crewmen on the bridge, both of whom hesitated a moment, neither very keen on the idea of going alone to speak with their employer.  After a moment, one of the men gave a faint grunt before speaking up.  "Fine then, I'll go tell 'im." 

Turning away from the other two, the man made his way off the bridge, headed for the lower decks.  A short while later, he was moving through the corridors of the deck bellow, arriving at the door to the captain's cabin.


Knocking on the door, the man spoke loudly, in order for his voice to carry through the heavy wood.  "Sir.  We have reached the location you set."

"Have us hold position and inform the assault teams to prepare for a dive."  Came a cold, hard voice in return.


"Aye sir."  The crewman replied before setting off once more back towards the bridge to carry out his orders.


Inside the cabin, a six foot tall man with a heavily scarred face turned away from the door to regard the maps spread out on the desk located on one wall of the small cabin.  Natas scowled slightly as he considered the last few months.  Just five months ago, he would have been launching a mission like this from the large submarine that had served him as a mobile base.  But the submarine had been lost during a job in Freedom City, sunk by a pair of teenage superheroines who had also prevented him from completing his job.  In fact, the mercenary had barely escaped capture with a handful of his old crew, the rest ending up in prison.


Between using a large chunk of the money he had saved over the years and some extra money eared on a few easy jobs, the supermerc had been able to buy the Python and hire a new crew of mercenaries.  Now, he had managed to land a contract that would put him well on his way toward being able to replace the lost submarine.  This time, he would not let anyone prevent him from completing the job.


Picking up the green helmet designed to resemble a snake with its mouth open around the opaque faceplate, the scarred supermerc placed it over his head, attaching it to the reinforced black and green wetsuit he wore.  Natas then turned and made his way towards the cabin door to join the rest of the assault teams.

Edited by Thevshi
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"Lemurians?  I am not sure about any such connection."  Giang replied to Thaelia's question.  "But I was told that the Serpent People in the Lost World are believed to be somehow connected to those here on Earth."  The Asian teen was somewhat concerned as the Atlantean teen appeared somewhat on edge by the mention of the Serpent People, glancing around some.  But whatever concern Thaelia had, it seemed to pass quickly, as she began attempting to mimic the odd appearance of a fish that was swimming by. 


The effect was enough to have Giang laugh lightly, glad for levity to remind her that they were on vacation, away from the responsibilities of school, and far removed from any possibility of conflict with her father or any of Dr. Sin's other lieutenants. 


The Asian teen let herself float freely in the waters near the reef for a short while, making as little movement as possible, taking the opportunity to take in the majestic beauty of the sea around her.  Finally, she looked over to her roommate.  "So, did you want to look some for one of those undersea forests?  Or return to Crantorium now?"

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"As much as I would enjoy pursuing an underwater forest.  I think we'll save that for after I ask the king for the location of an ideal one.  I know some lovely ones near South America which some barbarians and raiders use as their home.  The waters are large and it would be a bit ill advised to end up within some territorial creature's purview.  Fun.  But ill advised."  Thaelia nodded matter of factly.  Not one to err on the side of caution, she did respect its purpose.  Especially when leading her more level headed friend around the ocean.


Thaelia would begin to casually float around.  "We can head towards Crantorium at any time.  I could show you our version of what I believe your people call a 'spa day' back there." Not that her intentions had anywhere near the appearance of what one traditionally thought of when it came to spas. But her only point of reference involved a whole lot of kelp and some magical assistance.

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Giang nodded in agreement as Thaelia discussed the reasons delaying a trip to an underwater forest, appriciating that the Atlantean teen was tempering her more typical impulses for Giang's benefit.  While certainly capable of taking care of herself if the need arose, the Asian teen did not typically go out of her way seek conflict or trouble.  Of course, since arriving at Claremont, Giang had begun to go against her normal inclinations as well, accompanying some of her friends on patrols in various parts of Freedom City.


When Thaelia mentioned the possibility of a "spa day" back in Crantorium, Giang grinned slightly again.  "Well, I have never indulged in a 'spa day' on the surface, my regular meditation providing some of the benefits many seek with a spa treatment, but I would be somewhat remiss if I did not take the opportunity now."


"If nothing else, perhaps we should return now to rest a bit before we set out to explore the nearby oceans once more.  I am sure many of the residents of Crantorium would be able to provide some suggestions on places to visit."

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Thaelia nodded towards Giang before moving to propel herself backwards through the water.  Seeing as the atlantean's roommate had proved herself capable of keeping up she didn't have to slow down too much to set the pace in attempting to head back to Crantorium.  Biting her lip as she pensively stared upwards mid breast stroke.  "Nereid said surface dwellers loved using those 'spa days' as bonding tools.  I hadn't expected you to have never partaken."  Thaelia had failed to consider her cousin's perspective had far different expectations on what was ideal and what wasn't.


Not that Giang seemed to mind the suggestion.  The atlantean's fluid movements ceased for a moment as Thaelia made sure to check if Giang was following her.  The teen was a respectable swimmer, but the ocean wasn't exactly home for someone who lived up on the surface.  So Thaelia wanted to make sure she didn't lose track of her friend by taking off without a word of warning.  Even if her nod accounted for the girl's idea of forewarning.

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Giang swam alongside her roommate as they began the return trip towards Crantorium, nodding slightly as the other teen mentioned what her cousin had said about "spa days." 


"I can understand how a 'spa day' could be used in such a manner."  The Asian teen replied.  "My failure in taking part in one is mainly a result of lack of opportunity.  Growing up in a remote village in Vietnam certainly did not provide any.  Since I have been at Claremont, none have arisen most likely due to those I am close with.  Besides yourself, Cerys, Mali and Kat are not ones I would generally imagine wanting to bond at a spa."

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The two teen continued on towards Crantorium at a steady pace, not in a particular rush, but not dallying either.  A short while later, they were almost through a canyon which led to the underwater town when a dull, muffled *BOOM* echoed down the canyon.  The sound was quite clearly from some sort of explosion, causing the pair to speed up.


Moments later, they rounded the corner of some rocks and came within view of the town.  Several of the buildings had been damaged, and in a number of places, silt from the ocean floor had been kicked up by falling debris or collapsed walls, looking very much like smoke.  A half dozen men in armored green wetsuits could be seen swimming over this part of the town, firing some sort of high-tech energy weapons at the few Atlanteans who were in sight.  Another *BOOM* echoed from somewhere deeper within the town…

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Thaelia's eyes widened as the destructive noise echoed through the sea.   Abandoning the consideration to slow down even in the slightest she sped  off like a torpedo cutting through the sea.  What came next was a total surprise to the Atlantean royal.  All around there was mayhem and destruction as armored men began storming the undersea city.  The furor in her eyes quickly subsided as Thaelia came to a complete halt.  A calmness sweeping her form as she simply stared at the armored men.


"I think I am going to have a conversation with our visitors.  They seem to have wandered to the wrong location."  However calm her voice may have come across there was no mistaking the fact that the teen's volatile temper had long since passed its boiling point at the very sight of her people's plight.  In that moment the Atlantean emmisary to the surface ceased to be, there was only Glamazon.  And the Glamazon planned on leaving a wreckage in her wake.  She didn't  show this side of herself often on the surface, after all there was enjoyment to be had in the throws of combat.  But if there was one thing she inherited from her godly side it was her vengeful passion for those who dared to cause harm in her domain.

Edited by HG Morrison
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Giang was equally surprised by the sight that she and Thaelia came upon.  The Asian teen retained her calm, even as she felt feelings of shock and anger.  She took a quick moment to study the scene before her as a thin sheen of water began swirling over her, providing the teen with protection, her eyes widening slightly as she focused on the closest of the men in the reinforced wetsuits.


"I have seen men dressed like this before."  She stated to her friend.  "It was several months ago when they attempted to kidnap a number of Deep One infants from the Freedom City Aquarium.  They were led by a dangerous mercenary named Natas."


With that, Giang swam forward, closing with one of the nearest men.  Bringing both hands up in front of her, she sent a powerful jet of water twisting through the ocean towards the man.  The blast struck him dead center, knocking him backward and into the side of a building with the force of the impact.  The man's body then went limp as he lost consciousness, floating near where he had stopped.

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Following Giang's successful attack, several of the men in the reinforced wetsuits turned to regard her and Thaelia.


"Gamma reporting, have encountered unexpected resistance.  An Atlantean teenage girl and what appears to be an Asian teenage girl who can breath underwater and control the water itself."  One of the men reported, as he swam forward slightly, aiming his weapon at the Asian girl who had just knocked one of his companions unconscious.  Another of his companions followed alongside, also leveling his weapon at Giang.


The teenager was able to avoid one of the energy blasts, but the second managed to clip her shoulder, though her watery forcefield allowed her to easily ignore the blast, as it slid harmlessly off her.

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"Then Natas shall pay with his men when I get my hands on him."  Thaelia shot through the water towards one of the two mecenaries who had blasted away at her roommate.  Most likely the man named Natas of which Giang spoke.  Flushed with rage the Atlantean teen twisted her body as she attempted to throw a hook towards the mercenary's jaw.  The straightfoward attack allowed him the opportunity to brace himself in which the armor proved itself more sturdier than expected leaving only the thud of her fist colliding against his armored chest to echo throughout the sea.


Clenching her fist, Thaelia clearly wasn't about to be deterred on her failed charge.  The statuesque teen's intimidating form floated along the water poised to continue her assault at a moment's notice.  Even if they decided to back out now, it was clear that no clemency would be afforded.  "State your names vile intruders.  For today you have the honor of being bested in combat by the daughter of the seas!  If you run, I will hunt you to the ends of the earth.  There is no place in the ocean that will spare you from the descendant of the earth shaker!"  Although it was hard to tell she wasn't actually threatening the mercenaries. The Atlantean was used to an exchange of boasts before combat began and it was simply a knee-jerk reaction.

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The mercenary Glamazon attacked drifted backwards slightly, as he focused on the Atlantean teen.  "A little help here."  He said into the radio in his helmet.


Another of the mercenaries swam over towards the pair, but given the close proximity of his associate, he could not risk firing into the melee.  So instead, he closed into melee range himself, bringing his weapon up over his shoulder as he tried to smash the butt of the rifle into Glamazon.  But as able as he was at fighting underwater, the Atlantean teen was far too experienced at such fighting, and easily avoided the attack.


One of the remaining six aimed his weapon at Giang as well, firing a shot that managed to hit her from the side.  This time, the Asian teen grunted slightly from the impact, as her protective layer of water failed to protect her from the full force of the blast.  But she was still far from out of the fight.


Nearby, the last of the mercenaries saw an approaching Atlantean warrior and turned his attention towards that new threat.  Once his weapon was leveled, the man fired a blast which hit the warrior squarely in the chest, knocking the Atlantean backward to slowly drift away unconscious. 

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Despite the continued sting from the blast that had struck her, Giang took a moment to consider the tactics the mercenaries were employing and recalling her prior encounter with Natas and his henchmen.  The Asian teen frowned as she determined the likely objective for this group of mercenaries.


Swimming up closer to her roommate, Giang concentrated on twisting and swerving, trying to make herself a harder target.  As she went, she swept one arm out to the side, sending another blast of water, this one aimed at the mercenary who had just shot her.


Once again the Asian teen's aim was true, and the blast slammed squarely into the mercenary's chest.  A grunt of pain escaped his lips as he was propelled backwards by the force of the blast.  Losing consciousness, the man then continued to drift along limply with the momentum from the blast.


"Thaelia, these men are likely a diversion or blocking force.  Natas is likely elsewhere with another force, after whatever his objective is!"

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