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Saturday, May 20th, 2015
Frankfort, Michigan, United States

Late afternoon

 

Frankfort was a small town of barely a thousand souls, full of picturesque buildings, sandy beaches, and a startlingly white lighthouse out on the point. Families walked or ran up and down main street, people on vacation enjoying the warm spring weather and the cool breezes that blew off the lake. It would be a perfect image, if not for an air of tension that hung over the town.

You didn’t have to go far to find the source of the tension. The town’s docks had been interdicted, with Atlantean troops standing on the boardwalk and stopping anyone who tried to get to their moored boats. Tourists stared at them; police talked at them; angry citizens and protesters yelled at them; but the soldiers of the underwater kingdom were impassive in their verdigrised armor and lightning-staffs. For three days and three nights they had kept up a silent presence, not intruding further into town or attacking any of the surfacers (well, except for one guy who showed up at the ER with a broken arm and an electrical burn, but he should’ve known better than to throw a brick) but not allowing anyone to reach their vessels, either.

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Thaelia was starting to wonder if there were any human/Atlantean interactions that didn't end with somseone getting badly injured or killed.  First there were the pirates trying to steal Atlantean treasures after attacking the undersea resort town.  Then the whole thing with the American Government's superweapon and army of undead.  That was weird.  But, still oh so very much problematic.  There were the barbarians that attacked her and Errant, though technically Errant didn't go as far as killing them, she jumped to awkward conclusions then.  And now...well she wasn't exactly sure what was going on.

Her people were certainly prepared to hold their ground.  A trait she found commendable.  But, the undersea princess had a feeling it would also lead to more unnecessary conflict.  Not counting the man in the hospital.  But, from what she gathered he deserved it.  It was that exact lack of objectivity that pushed Thaelia to invite Daphne to help her temper heads.

"Brave warriors.  Lay down your arms and explain yourselves at once."  Thaelia called out to the Atlanteans.

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Daphne was trying really, really hard not to spoil all this by giving a little squeal of joy, either physically or psychically. Yeah it was like really bad what was happening here and the Atlanteans were doing very mean things, but it did mean she wasn’t excited to get to meet realy Atlanteans. Well yeah Thaelia was in fact an Atlantean but she was a friend and had spent ages out of the water and didn’t count.

Not quite sure she could say anything without sounding like a massive fangirl she stood trying to look tough and self important, with only a few minor alterations to her normal form to be more Atlanteans.

Actually was there Atlantean fangirls and fanboys? She have to look that up later.

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The guards kept their stony expressions, but after a moment they started shooting quick glances between themselves. They had their orders, but this wasn't a surfacer peace officer or politician; this was a royal princess, related by half-blood to their king and on the other half to their gods. They had their orders, but her words had a weight beyond that.

The guards were kept from deciding between two different kinds of treason by the appearance of another Atlantean, from inside one of the docked ships. He was older than all of them, his hair already going bald, dressed in the loose toga that some Atlanteans wore on formal occasions. Despite his age he moved swiftly down the docks, stepping between the soldiers and bowing deeply before Glamazon. "Princess Thaelia," he said. "You honor us with your presence here! Truly we, your humble servants, do not deserve to be in your presence. Please, tell me what your wishes are, your highness, and I shall see them carried out forthwith."

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"And you brave warriors, honor me with your servitude to the crown.  I simply wish to inquire what your purpose in the fort of Franks is."  She pressed on.  Having no reason doubt that the soldier would be anything less than forthright.  The crowd was agitated.  But, no one who didn't deserve an electric stabbing had been injured.

Which meant it wasn't an invasion of the surface.  No, they were holding their ground.  But, Thaelia couldn't for the life of her figure out what their interest in docks so far disconnected from the ocean would be.  Let alone why they would venture this far.  It wasn't as if the surface world was held in high regard.  Especially amongst the soldiers.

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"Of course, your highness," the toga'd man said. "If you would follow me, I would be honored to bring you up to date on what's been happening in this... settlement." He waved a hand dismissively at Frankfort, obviously considering the tiny town to be far too provincial to be wasting this much time on. The man turned and walked back down the pier; the troops parted to let Thaelia through, but crossed their weapons in front of Miss Grue. Before the princess could raise an objection, the older man was in front of her and physically moving the staffs out of the way. "Of course our home is open to the friends and allies of Princess Thaelia."

The trio walked down to the very last ship on the pier and walked aboard, then headed belowdecks. The ship had been all dark wood hull and copper fittings, and below it was similarly rich. The man reached into an open cupboard and pulled out a bottle of wine and two glasses. "I wish to reiterate," he said, pouring two glasses full of wine, "how much of an honor it is to serve you and your friend today. I shall long remember this day." He smiled broadly and easily, offering each woman a glass.

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Thaelia took the glass and raised it up without consideration.  "You flatter me too much.  Speak to me your name so I may know who honors me so."  Thaelia hadn't forgotten about her originally asked line of questioning.  However, if she were to outright demand further inquiry it'd be an insult to the old Atlantean's hospitality.

While he wouldn't be turning his blade on her.  The same couldn't be said for her not quite Atlantean companion.  Who already placed them in a precarious position due to the fact that that Glamazon was an atrocious liar.  Incapable of the act.  Daphne could hold her own in a fight.  But, Thaelia absolutely did not want to fight her own people. 

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Whilst she could appear Atlantean and speak the language like a native but she didn’t quite understand all culture that well, they unhelpfully didn’t make there own television and few show about there culture existed. And she was pretty sure that Man from Atlantis was the best source for how to act in this company. So she kept quiet and trying to figure out exactly what was going on right now.

Okay is this like really bad or something? Cause if you want I could try and really there minds and find out what going on. They wouldn't even know that I was doing it I promise.

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"I am Senator Cato," the older Atlantean said, "representative of the will of our people, and servant of our king. Servant of your family, actually," he corrected himself with a laugh. "And as your servant I beg of you, Princess, to take whichever vessel you desire as your own, personal accommodations. Even this one we are sitting in! I would be beyond happy to move my personal effects elsewhere. I can find lodgings on a different vessel."

The Atlantean glanced at Miss Grue. "And of course, your traveling companion is welcome within our cordon. I extend all the hospitalities of my station to the both of you."

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"You are most generous. Moving your belongings will not be necessary."  It was funny to think just a few years ago, Thaelia wouldn't have even considered taking him up on the offer to be a sign of entitlement.  "If you truly wish it, my companion and I will be happy to share room with any.  There is no need to hand over a personal vessel.  I bear some confusion as to why you would need a vessel in this port.  Atlantis is quite a great deal away.  I do not believe any outposts are within reasonable distance either."

Thaelia was a little iffy on having her friend read the mind of the aged soldier.  It wasn't that she thought Daphne would be caught.  But, who knows what she could see.  Chances are the old soldier had seen some conflict in his time.  At the very least his service deserved respect...for now.

I do not know.  I think it best for you to introduce yourself.  I will trust your decision in whether you choose to probe into his mind.  And if there are any consequences I accept responsibility.  Just try and save such an option for a last resort.

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Cato waved his hand airily. "All that floats on the water is the proper property of Atlantis," he said. "We allow the surfacers to travel here by sufferance, because we don't need it at the moment. But now we need to stop the boats going out of this port, at least until this situation is resolved, and so I have exercised Atlantis's ancient rights and claimed the best of these vessels for my home. Temporarily," he added, pouring himself a glass of wine. "Once all of this unpleasantness is over, I hope to return to Atlantis and enjoy my quarters there once again."

He sipped the wine, picking a chair and relaxing in it. "If you wish to know the details of why we are here," he offered, "you should speak to the grave-robbers who live in this town. I believe the chief one is named Jacob Harris. All he wanted to do was to strip our vessel of Atalantean gold and fill his own, greedy pockets! And they try to cast us as the unreasonable ones," he scoffed.

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"Grave robbers?"  Thaelia repeated with a hint of anger.  Cato had deflected the explanation away from him.  Putting all culpability on one of the humans in town.  And Thaelia accepted it readily.  After all, why would an Atlantean lie to her?

"Where may I find this Jacob Harris.  So that I may inquire why he dares dishonor the dead of Atlantis?"   Catching herself as soon as the question escaped her lips.  "Oh pardon,  If you have been guarding the vessel all this time.  Surely, you have not entered the town to learn of Jacob Harris' location.  My friend and I can leave."

Tapping her fingers on the wine glass she took a sip.  As the princess had a complete lack of a sweet tooth, wine sat gentler on her palette. 

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"I may not be able to walk you to his front door," Cato said, putting the wine glass down, "but I can certainly point you in the correct direction." He walked the two girls up to the pier and back out to the blockade of Atlantean soldiers. "If you go down this street," he said, pointing in a direction that ran parallel to the coastline, "you should find the graverobber's house. Last time I was there a few of the surfacer news media were attending him -- no doubt spreading his poisonous, lying version of events."

Once the princess and her companion were on their way, Cato walked back down the pier and boarded a different boat. This one was older and dirtier than the one he had chosen, but it was perfect for another reason because it was the single largest boat docked at the pier. In the hold, a trio of Atlantean soldiers were working on small devices that looked like basalt nautilus shells. One stood and nodded at Cato as the senator entered the workspace. "How are the sonic charges coming?"

"We're almost done," the soldier said. "We should be able to blow the vessel no later than midnight."

Cato nodded slowly. "With the help of the gods, I should be able to keep the princess busy until then." He glanced at the shells. "I hope that there will not be a problem with her going down afterwards?"

The soldier shook his head curtly. "The charges will destroy the cargo," he said. "And we have the surfacer's submersible. We can destroy that at the scene, claim the surfacers sent it down and it exploded. There shouldn't be any evidence left."

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Daphne had managed to stay quiet during the whole exchange still trying to get a handle on this part of Atlantis culture, well any part of it really. There was so much going on in the world that she wasn’t on television and now and again she got a chance to experience such things, it was really exciting.

I’m sorry but I think I’m going to be asking this quite a bit today, but what exactly happened back there?

She’d asked Mother Unit to try and find out more information on Atlantis culture but it seemed that they didn’t go in for much for blogging or facebook. Anything she did find was either fan theories of fan fic that Mother Unit wouldn’t let her read.

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Thaelia was busy looking around for the media they had been warned about.  To the public it wouldn't matter whatever crimes the man had committed on her people if she acted brashly.  The situation was a powder keg waiting to blow.  As a public figure representing the interests of Atlantis one needed to make sure not to light the spark.  That was where Daphne came in.

"Apparently, the local populus has seen fit to rob Atlantean grave sites for gold.  I wish to hear it from this Jacob Harris' own mouth.  Yet I find such an endeavor would be difficult if  I am to repeatedly punch him.  With violence.  I wish you to take the lead in our line of investigating.  His mind feel free to examine."  Thaelia stated clearly showing a bias where mental privacy was concerned.

Edited by HG Morrison

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The two heroines followed the road as it curved along the lakeside, their appearance causing no little stir. Especially Thaelia; with Neriad in Atlantis, she was probably the most well-known Atlantean active on the Surface, and it was only natural that the townsfolk would be suspicious of yet another individual from that watery kingdom appearing in their town. A police officer with wide-brimmed hats stopped writing tickets long enough to stare at her, but no one made a move to intercept Thaelia.

The Harris household was hard to miss. It was easily the biggest one on the block, a red-brick structure with a bleached wooden dock jutting out into the lake. There were large news vans parked out front, proclaiming them to be from Action News 7 and Local At 4. The Atlantean knew enough to avoid them and instead made a beeline for the front door.

A knock on the door was quickly answered by a balding, middle-aged man in a thick sweater and slacks chewing on a pipe. “Yes? Hello? What do you want?” He squinted at Thaelia for a moment before drawing back in shock. “I know you. You’re that Atlantean living in Freedom City! What, did you decide to come here and tear up my SCUBA tanks, too?”

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"We are not here to destroy your breath giving apparatus."  Glamazon responded.  Immediately tearing into the aging man.  Not exactly holding her tongue from the get-go.  "We wish to inquire what level of arrogance it takes to defile the graves of fallen Atlanteans?  I have heard of this Jacob Harris' misdeeds, and they fill me with disgust.  Such fiendish actions are unbecoming of a chief of such an industrious station.  Tell your chief a Princess of Atlantis would have words with him."

Clearly the balding man was not the figure she envisioned when it came to the graverobber.  Assuming him to work for Harris' rather than holding the position of prominence the Atlantean warrior described.  If for no other reason than Atlantean politicians tended to be more on the muscular side.  Thaelia wasn't so haughty as to push her way in uninvited.  But, she had at the very least wasted little time in wishing to speak to the man in charge.

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The balding man grunted. "I never made it to Chief Petty Officer," he said. "Retired E-6. Well, I guess there's no use in keeping you on my doorstep. Come on in." He turned and walked into the house, leaving the door open to Thaelia and Miss Grue. Inside the house was handsomely appointed in pale wood, with polished brass furnishings -- it was sort of like being inside a very large ocean ship. Pictures on the wall showed the man when he had hair and less gut, in a white Naval uniform standing in front a submarine. Other pictures showed him older, in the same uniform, next to a dark-skinned woman in a white wedding dress. Another picture was the woman's portrait, with the dates January 4, 1968 - March 23rd, 2004 underneath it.

Jacob led them into a sitting room with large, plush chairs. He went to a wet bar and poured something dark into a tall glass. "I'm afraid I don't get very many underage visitors," he grunted. "I've got bottled water and ice, if you want it."

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Daphne gave a little mental frown, a strange feeling for someone who wasn’t psychic, as she transmitted his surface thoughts.

It’s fairly standard stuff for someone who has a honest to Disney Princess turn up on his door.

Playing the part of some kind of aide to Glamazon she kept mostly to the background not drawing too much attention to herself.

I could push deeper but we’d probably get more if we make him think about what happened.

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Thaelia nodded as she stepped in time.  It was both a note of confirmation to Daphne and a visual acceptance to the invitation inside.    "Thank you for the offer, but I will have to decline the water.  I do not know what these letters you speak of are.  The uniform however is recognizable.  You were a warrior once?"  Thaelia asked while examining the pictures throughout the home.

"Odd.  I would not expect a man of such experience to defile Atlantean graves.  And yet word of such malfeasance has spread through my people.  If I may be so bold, I wish to inquire as to the nature of your relationship with the Atlanteans currently stationed in the port.  And why is they tell me tales of your wrongdoings?"  The princess folded her arms as she eyed the older gentleman.  Not dancing around the subject of why she had stormed to his home in the first place.  Potentially steering his thoughts in the direction Daphne needed.  Thus far the man was polite, but that could have been an act for the news vans parked outside.

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Harris sipped his drink. "I don't know anything about Atlantean graves," he said. "For the last seven years I've been living in Frankfort and diving into Lake Michigan. Don't believe what people tell you about the Bermuda Triangle, young miss," he said. "Foot for foot, liter for liter, the Great Lakes have swallowed more lives and more ships in peacetime than any other waters in the world. And Lake Michigan has more wrecks at the bottom than the other four put together." He put his drink down and walked over to a bookcase, pulling a thick folio tied shut with cord. "I was looking into the disappearance of a cargo ship in 1912. The Nautiloid set sail from Cardiff under Captain Olmstead and was due to put in at Chicago in April. It never arrived." He put the folio in front of Thaelia; the name 'Nautiloid' was embossed on the leather cover.

Harris picked up his drink and settled into one of the overstuffed arm chairs. "I charted a course on the 1912 sea charts and sailed it in my own ship, using SONAR to look for the wreckage. I found a few unusual outcroppings and investigated with my RSV. At the second site, I found the Nautiloid" He took a drink of liquor and smacked his lips, sighing. "And a couple days later when I was exploring it with the sub, a bunch of frog m-- sorry, a bunch of Atlanean soldiers pull themselves up on my ship and point those damn sticks at me. Start screaming about how I'm desecrating graves. Let me tell you, I did find some skeletons down there, but humans and Atlanteans all look the same once critters eat the fleshy bits."

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"What do make of his tale?"  Glamazon asked.the disguised Miss Grue.  She, personally, didn't have tabs on what happened in every large body of water. Especially landlocked areas like lakes.  Meaning that despite her royal title she could neither confirm nor refute how dangerous the Great Lakes themselves were.  But, the man was certainly certain of his claim.  

Thaelia was a little better with history.  As it pertained to Atlantean relations with the surface at least.  World War 1 didn't do great strides to end the isolationist view Atlanteans held.  It would technically be possible for the grave site being discussed to be the outcome of a skirmish between local merchants and Atlanteans coming to blows.  

"What in particular drove you to seek out this vessel?"

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As far as he knows he’s telling the truth, it would take a lot more to drag out what’s happened down there. It might be easier to get the information the old fashion way.

Behind Glamazon Daphne tried to look all serious and stern as if she was the best assistant she could be, it was hard for her sometimes not to break character but she was here to help her friend.
Isn’t there another group of aquatic creatures that could have done this? I think it could be interesting to meet them as well, maybe they’d be able to help?

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Harris looked at his drink, swirling it around in the glass for a moment before answering. "Why did Edmund Hillary climb Everest? 'It was there.' I spent twenty-eight years on different boats before I messed my leg up, and then I spent two more years behind a desk just lookin' at them. My whole life has been wet -- swimming in the water, sailing over the water, diving through the water. I've the money, and I don't really care to do much with my time except for digging up old wrecks." He sipped his drink again. "Most of the time people don't mind too much. Most of the time people are happy when I can prove what happened to granddad or whoever."

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Deep Ones would certainly revel at the opportunity.  However, a Deep One colony would have some difficulty arriving into a lake.  Unless they already lived here, undisturbed.  Sunlight is blinding, casting those dark creatures back into the shadows.  It is for this reason the attempt to control Atlanteans in any invasion attempts of the surface.  Still that would not explain how the Atlanteans at the port were aware of the graverobbing.   Glamazon mentally responded while listening to Harris.

 

Glamazon opened the folio.  Slowly giving the man's tale a measure of consideration.  "I take your word that you had no purposely ill intention in exploring this vessel.  You must understand an officer in your naval forces recently created a massive weapon that brought our dead to life.  Raising an army to march upon Atlantis.  To speak nothing of an already tumultuous political relationship."

 

"I believe I can grant you clemency from further Atlantean reprisal.  If you agree to show us this vessel.  I could perhaps find a means to bring closure to the departed.  Whilst avoiding the insult of a surfacer prying into Atlantean graves unwatched."

 

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