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Norris Atoll 
Lonely Point, Freedom City New Jersey

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

5:17 PM

 

Norris Atoll was a pseudo atoll formed by the three islands South of the Lonely point Naval Base.  Far from an island resort like Bermuda, the islands were just as desolate as the mainland.  Which made the territory an easy concession when the United States agreed to a formal concession of land for an Atlantean Embassy on the Atlantic.  

 

King Theseus reached out to the architect behind the construction of the Freedom Aquarium who oversaw the construction of the structure.  Essentially it was designed a self-contained deep sea resort, using the Aquarium's iceberg like design in which a majority of the property was actually beneath the surface.  Visitors would be allowed to stay for as long as they so choose as long as a security concern does not arise.  Allowing for the education of Atlantean culture in a way far removed from the offensive Atlantis Casino.  

 

The Ocean Factory at the bottom was closed off from surface world access.  Only subcontractors and official delegates would be allowed access with a residence designed for use for any Atlanteans that would choose to use the facility.  The fact that Atlantean hostilities with the surface (and the location being so near a surface world military installation) made it unlikely that anyone other than the Atlantean Ambassador would choose to actually use it.  

 

News outlets approached the entrance on a cargo ship.  The grand unveiling was to be broadcast throughout the country.  Including from within a Waterfront Russian bar where two heroines were currently enjoying a meal.  Or the much quieter apartment belonging to Jessie White and Aquaria Innsmouth.

 

William Cline, or Thoughtspeed as he was currently dressed, had a much closer look of the festivities.  Having been personally invited by Princess Thaelia, as the only one of her friends not currently out of the city.  With the possible exception of Elias, who she could never keep track of.  Thoughtspeed found himself sitting in a room, with a view of the approaching vessel, accompanied by the Atlantean royal family minus King Theseus himself.  An armed escort posted throughout, perhaps too armed for a guided tour.

 

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Aquaria tried not to think about Atlantis. About how their empire had conquered so much of the world - building their cities, carving their highways, erecting temples to their gods, crushing or driving out any of the 'barbarians' who dared stand in the way of their armies. About hiding in terror from the Atlantean soldiers who had come to find her tribe, calling people driven to starvation and death 'raiders' because they stole, they fought, they killed the enemies who had taken the world that was rightfully theirs. She knew not all Atlanteans were monsters - she had little good to say about people like Nereid or Glamazon, but they weren't the merciless killers she'd always been taught they were. But the empire? Their father, the king whose lineage had won an alliance with the Surfacers because pink skin was more familiar than green and white? She tried not to think about Atlantis. She didn't like how it made her feel. 

 

She'd almost turned off the radio in her room when news came of the opening of the embassy - but she was trying to hear more Surface words and learn more Surface culture, and that meant listening even to the words about her peoples' enemies. Instead she crouched in her small pond, half-submerged in the water her heater kept warm, and mouthed along with the voice of the speaker. It was easier to hear about Atlanteans when she didn't have to see them. Reaching into her pool, she took a handful of water and dumped it over her head, remembering a line from a Surfacer holy text she'd once heard. 

 

"...Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over..."

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Thoughtspeed was nervous. Now, this wasn't that unfamiliar of a situation for him, but in this case, it wasn't just "asking a girl on a date" nervous, or "I didn't get a great grade and now I'm telling my parents" nervous. Not even the nerves he had when taking on supervillainy; those nerves came and went in mere moments, even for a speedster. 

 

No, here he was waiting for a King to show up, dressed in his hero costume, to...do what, exactly? He pretty clearly wasn't going to be providing security; the dozens of big bury Atlanteans put paid to that idea, and if Glamazon's dad was half as fierce as she was, well, he'd hat to be the mugger that ran into him. Nope, he was just here to hobnob. 

 

The advice from his parents had been a bit...all over the place, so he was determined to just try and stay under the radar. In a black costume with glowing green highlights. Yeah. 

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Thaelia looked over Thougthspeed.  The Atlantean princess appreciated having a friend who had performed in front of cameras before.  But, she wasn't sure if he was upset at being at the bottom of her invite list.  As she really did appreciate the company.  At least his body language didn't seem natural, but she had never been great at reading people.  At least that was the conclusion she settled on after multiple interactions with Elias.  Finally, she parted her lips in an attempt to try and smooth over the perceived slight with an offering,  "Would you like a glass of water?"

 

Queen Ariallis was pacing around the guards.  Giving them each a thorough once over.  The former captain of the palace guard was nothing if not diligent.  "Thalassa, that water is for the reporters.  Lest they print lies upon their pictographs.  You there, stand firmer."

 

"Mother, calm yourself.  I promise you this will not be a repeat of that Freedom Friends cartoon.  No one will call you Sea Queen the jilted jealous ex trying to break up Siren and her beloved Sea King."  Tethis called out, her eyes glued to a cell phone she hadn't used in the years since graduating.  The future queen quickly and openly cut to the heart of the matter.  The Atlanteans had a less than stellar showing in the Freedom Friends cartoon  back in the 60s.  With Sea King finding himself underwater once an episode as if that was the only contribution he provided to the League.

 

In the distance the Queen Mother, and the first heroine known as Siren, Lynn Sidon was listening to her grandson attempt to entertain her with panpipes.  As it was the twelve year old boy's first experience on dry land the sound was hardly impressive feat.  But, Lynn's face would never let it show.  As the first bit of dry music she had heard in the longest time, it made the trip itself worth it.

 

 Outside the ship carrying the reporters reached the dock.  And were immediately treated to a gaudy daytime fireworks display.  King Theseus's wide open arms welcoming both viewers and reporters alike.  "Tethis be a dear and turn on the box of lies.  I would like to hear your father marvel the surface people before we welcome them inside."  The queen called out in reference to the television within the very sparse room.

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Klara had  been to Freedom City before she retired to start their family, but she had to admit now she seemed to be coming here much more often now than she ever did. But it did mean she got to spend more time with those people she considered friends, or at least what did they call them frenemies. And she got to spend time in Night Witches enjoying the places home cooked meals that reminded her of the time during the war. Maybe that was why she was feeling quite nostalgic as the bar little TV played the news of the new Atlantean facility.

 

“You know when they were trying to work out what I could do for the Soviets people I was sent to try and open diplomatic relationships with the Atlanteans a that lived there. It didn’t go well I was young and a little pushy and they are a proud people, I guess we both were really. Let’s hope this goes better this time.”

 

Though this was Freedom City and things never went quite how you’d expect them to happen.

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GM

 

King Theseus patiently waited as the reporters exited the ship one by one.  "This embassy is to serve as an olive branch between the people of Atlantis and the surface.  A location in which you can learn of our ways.  And in turn my people can learn from you.  This is the homeland of my mother.  Surely, if there were anywhere that Atlanteans could view as brothers in arms it would be the States of America."

 

"BUT DO YOU THINK US BLIND TO THIS SLIGHT?  My people fought in your Great War.  I have served among your Freedom League.  A champion of the surface people."  At this the king sneered.  "And yet this is where you place an embassy.  A barren land not reachable by foot.  Yet another reason for you to ignore the plight of the people of the sea.  Yet another reason for you to continue poisoning our seas, or raiding or outposts for arcane artifacts."

 

Suddenly a loud screeching noise could be heard as metal twisted and contorted itself from behind the reporters.  Quickly turning around they saw the ship tearing in half.  A giant megalodon shark appearing from the ocean beneath having torn through the metal like a knife slicing through butter.  "On this day the surface will know the Sea King's Wrath.  As violence is the only thing you savages respect.  You will bow to my demands and finally treat Atlantis with the respect it has earned.  A war is coming."

 

In the dome of the embassy itself the Queen was shocked.  When she rose up from her seat, two armed Atlantean guards would move to block her path of exit.  "Apologies milady.  The king gave specific orders.  You and your surface guest are to stay here."

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Will had taken the offered glass of water with a muttered "Thank you", and was sipping it carefully as the Atlanteans turned the television on. It all seemed pretty normal, until the King went crazy.

 

"So, Thaelia, your dad summon up super-ultra-mega-death sharks often?"

 

And then he was casually standing next to the Queen, arms sloppily crossed over his chest, now-helmeted head tilted to one side.

 

"I've heard of domestic disputes, but come on guys. She's the Queen. Surely she can go ask her husband a few questions? I thought you folks were pretty gender-equal under the sea? Also, seriously, 'surface guest', come on at least call me the annoying boy or something!"

 

-Thaelia what the HELL is going on?- rang through Glamazon's mind with rather more urgency and anxiety than the young man's cocky words suggested.

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Leilani too had glanced up at the television to absently watch what had caught her dinner partner's attention. "Well, I--"

 

Whatever else the Hawaiian meant to say was cut off as the scene erupted into chaos. It was a testament to how many dinners that Leilani had eaten with super heroes now that she only hesitated for a moment before reaching to toss down an uncertain number of bills on the table. Enough to cover the meal and tip, at least, and probably a bit more than that. Leilani wasn't exactly rolling in funds so she'd regret that hasty action later, no doubt. 

 

"Looks like your bad feeling was already right on the money. Gonna go make sure no one drowns. You coming?" Leilani asked as she went to slip off her sandals for bare feet once more. 

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Aquaria hopped out of her room and turned on the television, crouching down before it as she studied the scene of violence at the Atlantean embassy. She had learned, from long experience sharing space with Jessie, not to panic when she was frightened - but it wasn't easy. Her hands wrapped around her mouth, she watched with gigantic eyes, remembering some talk of Jessie's sister and her friends being away in some other dimension. Who would save them now? 

 

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As violence is the only thing you savages respect.
 

 

 

 

They had only a moment's warning before the explosions began - and the elders died beneath Atlantean bombardment. The island had burned by the time the pitiless sun rose. 

 

Quote

 

 


You will bow to my demands and finally treat Atlantis with the respect it has earned.
 

 

 

 

"HAIL HYDRA!" she shouted along with the other females, iron tridents in hand. In a few days she would undergo the rite to fully open her gills - making her a woman of the People and a warrior in their armies. "SACRIFICE! SAC-RI-FICE!"

 

Aquaria Innsmouth opened her eyes and bounded to the closet where she kept her armor, heart pounding in her chest, as news reports of the melee beginning at what had been the embassy site. "I'm sorry, Jessie," she croaked as the armor opened, "I can't let them do this! I can't let them do this! Not again." 

 

 

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"Only in times of war and only with his trident."  Thaelia responded her voice neither calm nor measured.  The undersea princess equally shocked by the sight.  She knew conceptually what it was like for Atlantis to march to war.  But, that was before her time as far as she knew she only grew up around tensions with the surface or their seafaring neighbors.  Never a full blown declaration like such.

 

Thaelia didn't answer the second question.  How could she?  Equally taken aback by even the guards denying the queen access to the elevator.  There wasn't a single palace guard that hadn't been trained by the queen at one point or another.  To say there was an underlying level of respect between the guards and her would be putting it mildly, despite the queen not hailing from noble blood.  And yet here two guards were standing in front of Will and the queen, defying her.  Apparently under orders from the king.  Nothing was making sense to Thaelia.

 

The queen eyed Will before smiling politely.  "I fear this has been too much excitement for the Queen Mother, daughters will you and your guest take the Queen Mother to the living quarters within the earth factory.  I will have words with my husband."  Queen Aryallis dropped both of her hands to her sides.  Her dominant hand resting on her telescopic oricalchum baton. 

 

One of the Atlantean soldiers blocking their way had been sneering at Will ever since he stepped up.  The other four guards in the room began positioning themselves so as to completely surround cover the exit elevators.

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Will didn't glance back at the Queen, but his head did nod, even as faint green light began to glow on his body. 

 

"I'd be more than happy to, ma'am. I'm a big fan of grandmothers and it would be an honor to escort Thaelia's grandmother anywhere. I do hope your conversation is productive."

 

His helmet shifted a bit, as if he was looking right at the man sneering at him.

 

"In case you're wondering, yes, you have something in your teeth. Looks green to me."

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Jessie had been curled up on the sofa in the living room before Aquaria came in, reading the homework assignment for her literature class. She was behind, like she always seemed to be, but not hopelessly so. If she could just have some quiet days and work really hard, she could still catch up and do better than she had last semester. She liked school, and god knew she had no idea what else she was going to do with herself, but she suspected her doppelganger's largesse wouldn't last forever if Jessie proved consistently unable to do the work. There was just so little time to get everything done. 

 

She was just setting her book aside to start outlining the paper she needed to write when Aquaria came bounding in, highly agitated. That wasn't very surprising, since Jessie knew Aquaria was listening to the opening ceremony for the new Atlantean embassy. The fact that something bad was actually going on was much more surprising than the idea that Aquaria would freak out over nothing. Jessie rose from her seat and followed Aquaria to the closet. "You aren't the right person to be in this fight," she reminded Aquaria, knowing it would be fruitless. "Having a Deep One in the mix is only going to make the situation worse, and you'll be putting yourself in a lot of danger. There are plenty of other heroes who are going to be responding to this. You could get in trouble." Her arguments were already tinged with an edge of tired resignation. 

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Catching the reluctance in Jessie's words even as her suit closed around her and misted with water, Aquaria was briefly torn. She couldn't stay here while Atlantis was attacking - and she couldn't tell Jessie to stay when she knew full well that Singularity wouldn't let her go out there alone even if she had to run and leap after her the whole way. "Brek-kek-kek..." she croaked unhappily before coming to a decision. "I promise I'll stay back unless there's no other way. Most Atlanteans don't know that Sea Devil is a Deep One. Even if I do have to fight, it'll be okay." She looked at Jessie, her face still visible inside the armor, then at the two-dimensional battle on the news. "Not again, Jessie. I can't let it happen again." 

 

True to her word, Sea Devil stayed low to the ground on the flight towards the would-be Atlantean embassy, largely as a way of staying close to Singularity. She wasn't a lone survivor of a massacre anymore, or a podless loner cast away on the Surface. She had her companion, she had her pod, she had her friends. The Atlanteans couldn't hurt her anymore. 

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“I’d thought you’d never ask!”

 

Klara gave Leilani and broad smile as she was asked if she wanted to get involved, she’d missed all this when she’d retired to raise her children. She picked up her bag and pulled on her bracers as she looked for her purse, she knew that she happily leave her stuff her without any problems.

 

“I still don’t know why you won’t let me pay for the meal, I have a very generous expense account from the Ministry. Heck if I didn’t insist Petia would let us eat and drink for free.For better or worse you’re friends of us old warriors now.”

 

She counted out her fair share of the cost of the meal and subtly push some back toward Leilani, she didn’t want to hurt her new friends pride. And she’s dealt with a lot of many more prideful people back her days in the People’s Heroes.

 

“Let’s go do this!”

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GM

 

It looked as if the guard sneering at Thoughtspeed would attack for a moment.  But, instead he acquiesced to the Queen's demand and let her exit.  The elevator on the left quickly wooshed closed with the Queen giving a reassuring smile and a quick look towards the first woman to take the title of Siren.  Apparently something was communicated between the two as Lynn started talking once more, in a transparent attempt to ease the worries of the youths accompanying the nonagenarian.  "This has all been quite exciting.  And such a handsome gentleman caller, reminds me of Artie Shaw.  Did I ever tell you all about the time I met Artie Shaw."

 

"I do not know who that is."  Tethys, Thaelia, and Telemachus all said in unison as they followed after Will who was leading Lynn to the separate elevator.  The spacious round elevator had a a clear view as it descended levels underwater.  Giving a quick view of every floor of the Embassy.  But more importantly a clear view of some sort of giant metallic skull like ship sitting outside in the bottom of the ocean.  It had strange runes etched on it.  Strange in that the language resembled Atlantean and Lemurean but not enough enough to actually be translatable.  The "eyes" of the skull glowed an ominous yellow.

 

"What...is that?"  Thaelia shouted in the elevator.  With the only immediate answer she received being the confusion.  When they exited the elevator the view of the Skull had yet to fade.  In fact one could argue it was more visible as the bottom dome sections four quadrants were all pretty barren at the moment.  A living quarters with absolutely nothing but a bed inside (obviously the room was not yet decorated), an earth factory for the cultivation of resources and self sustained underwater farming which was currently barren, a seismic monitoring factory that was currently powered off, and lastly the "port" in which one could access the sea gondola which traversed levels faster tha the elevators.

 

*      *      *

 

Voin Zhenschina, Volcanic, Singularity, and Sea Devil all managed to run into one another along the way.  Or more correctly they all avoided traffic in a way that lead to running into one another.  There was a palpable panic in the air.  The Atlantean crisis couldn't have come at a worse time, apparently supercrime throughout the city had been amped up.  Pulling attention from the diplomatic fallout.  They quartet even heard hearsay that four heroes had a bounty placed on them by motorcycle gangs and the chase throughout the city was being covered on social media.

 

Suffice to say they had a good shot of being the first heroes on the scene at the pace they were headed.  At least until they hit the roadblock.  Seamen from Lonely Point Naval base were on guard in the road leading into Loney Point.  The Navy apparently trying to establish jurisdiction of the situation.

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Without Singularity there, Sea Devil would surely have bounded over the Surfacer barricade and made her way to the fighting. With their guns and vehicles, the Surfacers might slow an Atlantean force - but they couldn't stop it. But Jessie was there, and Aquaria knew she couldn't let either her anger or her terror drive her today. Recognizing the other two females from the holiday party earlier in the year (or was it last year? Surfacer calendars were hard to remember), she and Singularity joined Voin Zhenschina and Volcanic. "Even Atlanteans fear fire from Below," she croaked to Volcanic without preamble, thinking of the blasphemous powers of the Atlantean royals to assume the form of water itself. Glamazon had no such powers, she knew. She wondered suddenly where the Atlantean princess was, right now. "Can you burn them?"  

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Will was glad for the helmet as he blushed at the compliment, especially since he was in front of several younger, attractive ladies. Yes one of them totally had a thing with his buddy Elias even if they both swore they didn't, but still. Principles.

 

"Well, I was about to ask you what it was, but since you don't know, I got nothin', Thaelia."

 

He shifted nervously.

 

"That said, my guess is that it's potentially behind some of these shenanigans. Is there a way for us to go take a look inside the spooky giant glowing skull ship? Better to do it now. And you know I can get myself in all sneaky-like."

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Klara sighed at the sight of the soldiers, she’d had lot’s of experience of the armed forces and definitely not all for the best. They were always trying to take charge of the situation and normally making a mess of everything, always best for the experts to deal with these things she fault.

 

“I’m going to see if I can get those lunkheads to stand down, see if you can’t work out that plan further.” she gave a other heroes a confident smile, she’d only met them briefly but she felt she could trust them to get things done. She then stepped forwards towards the roadbloak flashing her ministry pass, technically it gave her some pull with even US forces but these things tended to get fuzzy when problems happened.

 

“Unless you have a plan to deal with a giant shark and Atlantian hostility I suggest you let us all through. We’ve got an expert here who can help defuse the entire situation.” she pointed over to Aquaria


When she helped with negotiations with the Deep Ones off Cornwall she learned a lot about the different sentient sea dwellers, but most people did know or care about the differences and she was hoping it would help then in this little crisis.

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Singularity came up behind Klara, studying the soldiers with an intensity that bordered on unnerving. She'd suited up for the fracas, looking strikingly like her doppelganger despite the different hair color in her new black combat gear. "You should let us pass," she agreed levelly, her attention still focused. "You're not equipped for combat with metahumans, and I don't think they're here to negotiate. We don't want you to die for no reason while you're trying to do our job for us." The next obvious step would be jumping over the barricade, but that might be some kind of tricky probation violation. It was better not to risk it if they didn't have to. 

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"There are always other ways through if it comes to it." It was meant to sound at least somewhat reassuring but it took some real practice to understand the tonal intonations of Volcanic's voice when she was transformed into a creature of rock and heat. Obsidian armor plates ground against each other as she shrugged at Aquaria's question. "Almost everything will burn given enough heat. It's the collateral damage that's the problem. Let's see what needs to be done. I'm not going to let anyone die on my watch."

 

As the guards went to let them through, Volcanic stepped forward to lead the way, trusting the very natural fear of what the heat pouring off her body could do to clear enough of a path for Aquaria and Jessie. She was aware enough of their program that Leilani figured any attitude would be better directed at herself and Klara. "We're with the Freedom League." She added, leaving off the 'Auxiliary' portion since, well, she didn't want to slow down long enough to explain the difference. 

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Sea Devil closed her eyes tight beneath her armor and knelt low, spreading her three-fingered hands wide against the ground, slow, sonorous breaths letting her keep her composure. "They will come and scatter your people. Burn your temples and slay your chiefs." She swallowed hard, then smoothly rose to her feet again, bouncing slightly on her large, spread-wide toes, all of her covered head-to-toe in armor that glowed a faint iridescent green and looked nothing like a Deep One's at all - if you weren't paying attention to the body plan. Deep down, it occurred to Aquaria in the dark place that sometimes whispered to her when she was alone and the thoughts of what she had lost, that this was the perfect opportunity. From all she had seen and heard, the mighty defenders of the Surface could triumph over the armies of Atlantis, especially when the tribes Below moved against them. Everything could be different, but. 

 

"But there is no war." There was a grief around the corners of her words before she focused again, her voice a mechanical, booming croak that gained in confidence as she spoke. "Atlantis has planted its seeds among the surface; they have no enemies here. We must find what hatches here today." Without another word, as soon as their guards let them through, she joined Volcanic and the other females in bounding their way towards the scene of battle. 

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GM

 

The navy guards looked at each other nervously.  Listening to the pitches provided by the quartet of heroines.  And the truth behind the words spoken.  Eventually they relented.  Only to soon after be met with another wall.  The Atlanteans had set up a visible blockade of their own in the ocean.  Surrounding the giant shark monster were a little over a dozen atlantean soldiers.  Each sitting on Atlantean military vessels that could be best described as submersible backless jet skis with side cannons attached.   They were a far enough distance between the long swim that it took to reach the consulate that as long as the heroes were on shore they provided no active threat.


In fact, aside from the hostage situation with the captured journalists the Atlanteans had yet to attack.  Despite the aggressive declaration, they were playing the assault more cautious.  In fact the king's supposed demands hadn't been made public.  Whether for dramatic effect or not it remained to be seen.  But, it was clear that some level of planning had gone into their actions.

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"What an excellent idea," the Queen mother quipped before pointing downwards.  "We should make our escape and you kids can do just that."

 

"But klannotil!"  Thaelia protested using the Atlantean word for grandmother.  Dropping the formality of calling her the queen mother.  "The waters are dangerous.  We cannot abandon you while the king has gone mad."

 

"Young woman, I was evading U-boats decades before you were learning to haphazardly form a fist.  I will not fall so easily.  This is an escape hatch, your polite friend will need to recover a pressure suit from the other side.  While the queen is occupied attempting to reasoning with my hot headed son, why don't you three kids go out and play?  This has been too much stimulation for poor Telemachus."

 

"Thaelia, I will accompany the queen mother and Telemachus to the capital city."  Tethys stated before Thaelia could register a second complaint.  "You wanted the role of ambassador to the surface.  You will stay and protect our relationship"  The woman who would one day be queen calmly stated to her cousin/adopted sister.  

 

Glamazon did not want to relent.  Hoping that the queen would quickly resolved the king's strange outburst on her own.  But, her time on the surface had taught her.  Giant skull structures were rarely the sign of a peaceful resolution being in the cards.  "Thoughtspeed, let us perform the sneaky like behavior."

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Under normal circumstances, Aquaria knew what she'd be doing. She'd be there on the beach, twirling her tridents, bellowing war cries to the Atlanteans in the sea. War cries to the Atlanteans riding crafts that could run down a fleeing Deep One, coax-coax, and spear them in the back. But she couldn't do that here, not with her friends at her side and a peace to keep, and not with Singularity, so easy to frighten or madden, as her boon companion. Should I have brought her? No - if I hadn't, I could never have come myself. "We-we should forget them," she croaked, fixing her goggle-eyed gaze on the Atlantean warriors. "And their beast." It wasn't like she had any males to impress, she thought ruefully, there was no point in fighting the shark. "We can fly." Well, Singularity couldn't fly - but between her and the others, she could get across the water. 

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Thoughtspeed wisely said nothing about the go-getter granny giving orders to the young'uns. He knew better than to question her competence. Instead, he just opted for nodding sagely as she spoke. 

 

"That sounds good, ma'am. Please stay safe out there, Missus Sidon. You, the little one, and Tethys. I'm sure you'll be fine, just, you know. Be careful Thaelia and I can do this."

 

Glamazon would get a brief mental communication from Thoughtspeed that was less words and more a vague impression of uncertainty and determination in equal measure. He glanced toward the airlock, and was suddenly standing there, eyeballing the suit.

 

"So, uh, how do I get this on?"

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