Interview with a Hero

August 18, 2014:

Rowan and Mera converse with Simon Williams.

The Atlantic Ocean

A shipping lane not too far outside New York Harbor.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Rowan has been rather strictly forbidden to go to the surface. By which is generally meant 'dry land.' He's still not entirely sure he'll accept that long term, but provided this doesn't drag out he'll be okay. However, being left unable to try to find home has left the displaced soldier… kind of bored. There are Atlantean settlements to explore and Mera would no doubt be happy (ish) to show him some of them, let him take in village live. He's not feeling horribly well disposed toward Atlanteans at the moment though and decided not to inflict unwilling ire upon his unsuspecting hosts. So instead he swam out toward the fringes of the area he's been allowed and even gotten the sea queen to give him some space. That was… less difficult than expected since she appears to appreciate that too. In the end he wound up out in the shipping lanes, watching a very large oil tanker float up from the south.

Unaware of Namor's recent attack down near South Carolina, he has no idea of the panic he's currently causing.

*

Back at the oil rig. Simon went there to do some pro-bono work, basically helping clean up debris and stuff that needed to be done before they could make repairs and decide whether they would shut down or restart the pumps. The damage was extensive but not severe, and somehow Namor's people managed to control the spilled oil that they caused by hiring that mercenary idiot.

The morning was productive, the heavy lifting is done, and the Wonder Man is all warmed up and everything, and about to fly north to New York again, when a message comes on the emergency channels — a blue-skinned human in the water, menacing (or at least watching) an oil tanker. The tanker is equipped with the new Stark Mini-Drone Sea Detection System (but there'll surely be a better name for it soon, SMDSDS lacks vowels) and that was how they spotted the blue man. The flying "bird" drones circle the ship in a slightly unrealistic fashion. One of them nearly hits Simon before he drops to hover over the ocean, near the guy who … doesn't really look the same as Namor's Atlanteans. Simon saw their war uniforms. This guy isn't wearing one.

"Ahoy. Friend or foe?"

*

He is wearing some kind of uniform, but it's more in the shorts and shirt vein than it is armed for battle vein. He's got a bracer on his left arm, a lean face and a sort of haunted look to him… somehow. Simon's arrival is anything but subtle and the Ionic Man has his attention long before he drops down.

Rowan isn't used to surfacers like this. Mutants and metas are largely not a thing on Earth 81 and the ones that do exist tend to be deliberate experiments. The blue tinted man puts both hands up as he treads water, which seems to be much easier for him than for others.

"I suppose that depends. Are waterfolk usually friends or foes?" Despite Arthur's insistence that there is peace with the surface, Rowan can't help but be somewhat wary.

*

"To be honest? Until recently, mythical. We didn't really have much contact. Nobody believed in sea-people. But not too long ago there was a visit from someone calling himself King Arthur back in New York Harbor, with lots of water thrown around in a rude and pushy way — kind of funny if you know the people getting wet though, and then just a few days ago, King Namor of Atlantis attacked an oil platform. Too many people died, both his and ours, before he left suddenly. So … are you with Namor or Arthur or someone else?" Simon asks.

*

"Neither…" There's a short pause and the man shrugs. "Arthur I guess. At the moment. It's complicated. I'm just trying to find my way home. If I still have one." A hand sticks up out of the water. "I'm Rowan. Are you one of the… champions of the surface world?"

Hearing again that this world has had little contact between sea and land just confirms what others have been telling him. This isn't his home anymore. Awful as it could be, it's what he knew and having it be gone is just… Yeah.

*

Simon kind of balances in the air for a moment. That looks like an offer for a handshake, and if it's not, well, Simon can't drown. So he manages to reach down and do the hand-clasp thing, which leads to him landing in the water, which makes him start laughing.

"I'm Simon Williams. I'm not really a champion as such, I'm an actor. But I have this power thing so sometimes I get asked to help."

He waves to the ship. "IT'S OK! KEEP GOING!" he yells. Hopefully there won't be a secret Atlantean net-trap or something ahead. But they usually warn about those first.

*

"Simon Williams." That quaint surfacer thing of having two names. Rowan smiles. At least some things don't change. "What brought you out here…" He eyes the ship. "Don't tell me they were worried about me." Rowan is a fairly terrifying soldier but he's not Namor or even a proper Atlantean. He's just Blue.

"What's it like out there?" He nods, indicating the surface and cities he knows are in the distance. Truthful or no, any information would be helpful at this point.

*

"Yeah, they were. Only a few days ago, oil platform attacked, Namor saying keep off my ocean you rotten land-dwelling kids, giant squid warships, it kind of makes the people who live on the ocean nervous," Simon answers. The question of what it's like is really hard to answer.

"I'm not … What's it like? People are people everywhere, I guess. They live their lives, they work, they sometimes have kids, they live and eventually die. What's it like undersea?"

*

Rowan shrugs a little, frowning as he treads water. "I… could have told you a week ago. Two… But. I'm not sure. I've been… I'm not from around here. Nothing's the way I remember it." He looks back across the ocean he just came from. "I just remember a war. That's all I remember. That's all anyone remembered because that's all there was. I knew my place there. Here? I'm told people have never even heard of each other. And…" And his condition makes him dangerous to the peace. Damn Atlantean politics.

*

Simon is genre savvy … he knows a 'stranger in a strange land' plot crossed with a 'parallel universe' plot. There's even one sitting on his laptop at his apartment, he was reviewing it before things went sideways with his agent.

"Man, that sucks. I'm so sorry, man. So you were a soldier?" Simon considers … probably some degree of PTSD. "I won't be that guy who makes things harder by asking what you did, or what things were like back home, but tell you what. You ask me questions and I'll try to answer them."

*

Figures the first person who combines being helpful, knowledgeable and not frightening would be a surfacer. Rowan smiles a little. "I was a soldier… am a soldier. I'm not quite sure how that works anymore. But yeah. What's going on up there? I remember… a lot of fighting. Magic people against psychics. Been going on for years. If there's no contact with the sea though…" Either the war went really badly for someone or it never happened.

*

"We don't really have a lot of psychics, as far as I know. We have a good number of magical types, and a lot of technology types. And a lot of just plain regular people. I guess that's a big difference. For us, the regular people are mostly in control of things. Over there," Simon gestures to the coast, "about two hundred thirty years ago, the people decided that they didn't want to be ruled by Kings, and came up with an alternative. It's … been as successful as anything else. Fewer tyrants, more confusion, but also a lot less feeling of being someone else's property."

The ionic guy is washed over by a sneaker wave, but doesn't seem to sputter about it, just stops breathing for a moment, then starts again when air is available.

*

Rowan nods. "And the world did not go to hell seventy years ago, I'm going to guess." Lack of psychics and magi is… interesting. "Are there many people… like you?" He gestures at Simon's rather energetic form. "And are all of them actors who leap to the defense of very large ships at a moment's notice?"

*

Simon laughs again. "Far as I know I'm unique in this," and he waves his hand in the air leaving a bit of a trail, "but there's a good number of other people, some of them just well-trained, others who are a bit different. We have, how to call it, super-beings, that started showing up in larger numbers about a hundred twenty years ago, people who seemed to be just different. Some of 'em magical, some just with weird powers, or from other worlds. Sometimes they choose to be heroic, champions I guess you might call it. Helping the weaker, protecting people from harm. Inevitably running up against governments or wealthy or powerful people who didn't want their status quo disturbed. And sometimes they chose to be parasites, or wreckers, and got into fights with the champions and the regulars."

More sneaker waves. Blub, float, breathe. Appears that Simon can't talk underwater.

"Anyway," Simon continues when he can, "I decided that it would be better for everyone if I didn't try to be a hero or a villain, just live my life. Being an actor is … I'm good at it, I have a great time, and it leaves me room to help people out when they need me to. Which is why I was there to help when Namor attacked, because I'm pretty much unbreakable."

*

Unbreakable. Interesting. Back the way he remembers it, Simon would have been made a weapon toot-sweet. Well… if someone could leverage him. Hard to leverage someone who is unbreakable.

"I see… maybe I should venture surface-ward at some point. If I can't find a way to get home… or to whatever passes for the home of my people here." It's clear that not all of the ocean is his home.

"May I ask, if there's been little contact between surface and sea, why this… 'King Namor' would attack you? Did he feel threatened in some manner or is this… perhaps a prelude to something bigger?"

Not that Rowan would have necessarily heard but it's good to know these things. And wouldn't it be depressing to have left one world at war just to arrive at the start of another.

*

"Well, I'm rather ashamed to say, the land-dwellers can be short-sighted and out of touch with the natural world. Our population has been growing pretty fast, our technology has outpaced our ability or knowledge of how to keep it clean, and some of us are stupid enough to think it's OK to just dump our garbage, whatever it is, into the oceans, because in the infinite ocean it'll just be out of sight…" Simon pauses, sarcasm having increased to a tangible point, "yeah, not buying it? Neither do I, but some of us are stupid. I guess Namor got fed up."

*

"Ah." The notion of a polluted ocean is, perhaps surprisingly something Rowan is rather blase about. Then again, he comes from a world where the oceans have been nuked repeatedly.

"Stupid is correctable. Malevolent is… less so. I've yet to meet any surfacers that seemed anything but confused and maybe a little frightened of me." He has no idea what the conditions of this world are, but kicking off a war against everyone on the surface seems like a bad call. Even on earth 81, despite the differences in 'land area' of their respective nations, the land dwelling nations are more populous. He guesses that may well be the case here.

"Our own people can be fairly stupid. We just tend to do it differently."

The soldier seems to be relaxing, smiling a little. "You say you're simply an actor, but you speak like a very principled man. Are you sure you're not a champion of your people?"

*

Simon laughs again. "I might be some day. WAY too green so far. But yeah, I'm not so old that I've lost my idealism, and not so young that I'm stupid. Though I was, for a while. Which … is how I got turned into this."

Ionic krackl again. "This was some evil bastard's idea of the ultimate soldier-slave, and I was his sucker lab animal," Simon explains. "And I was lucky to get free of his control. Another reason I decided to not do the Champion thing right off."

*

That makes Rowan frown if only because it sounds so familiar. "Ugh. Soldier-slave? You were… created? When was this? And… how did you get loose?" Simon's certainly not acting like some controlled weapon. Which is ironic considering who he's talking to.

*

Simon's voice becomes a smooth, narrative, flashback-voiceover thing. (He's good at his job.)

"I was the son of a rich man who made high-tech weapons for anyone who was able to pay for them. My father died when I was still a student, and I didn't have the training nor the raw talent he did - and he made me the heir. I didn't do very well, the company was failing, the people whose livelihoods I was responsible for… well, I took some really bad advice. And ended up in prison, and then was broken out of prison, by the guy who had planned the whole thing. My older brother had been jealous of Dad making me his heir. So he trashed the company, and sold me out to a mad scientist. I was unstable, coming apart into a gas. I was knocked unconscious, and apparently I died a few hours later. Stayed dead for a year until someone tried to use magic to animate my corpse, and that kicked everything back into gear and I woke up."

The short version. There's a longer one, but it takes several comics to tell.

*

Blnk. Blinkblink. "Are you sure you're not from here I'm from?" That's not a story Rowan's ever heard before, but it's one that's a lot more likely on his world than on this one.

"So this thing… this purple energy trick you have. It was killing you. And a magi woke you back up. I guess… that's lucky in a way."

The Blue soldier sighs. "I was born without the hydrokinetic abilities common to my people. Really, the only one I've ever heard of who doesn't have them. We'd been at war for generations so everything centers around that. My lack of ability was a weakness, but also an opportunity. Our allies helped my people's scientists encode a secondary set of genetics into me…" He lifts one arm, showing subtle bio-tech cybernetics. "These activate them. There's also some… magic involved. I know a bit less about that. Just what I was taught about how to use it."

*

"You were an experiment too? At least tell me you volunteered?" Simon says with some sympathy. He remembers how much it hurt, probably even worse for the Blue guy here, since it's all in his skin.

"So, how did you end up here? I mean, what do you remember, if anything? Not here off the coast, I mean here on Earth-not-at-war-between-land-and-sea."

*

"Sort of. Mandatory conscription for us so it was either volunteer or end up on the front lines anyway and probably get someone killed because I can't move as fast or work with water like everyone else. I don't… particularly regret it. I was going to end up in the war either way." Of course Rowan may not have an objective perspective on that…

"Memory… now there's a funny thing. Mine's full of holes. Best I can remember is that we attacked the site of some big surfacer machine underwater. The eggheads thought it was some kind of teleportation device. I remember getting close enough to tear it apart… and then the next thing I know I've fallen a long, long way and crashed into some laboratory back that way." He gestures indicating the direction of Deep Marine Discovery.

*

Genre Savvy Time again. "Huh. Sounds like a wormhole or something. Was your head injured?"

Simon's got two theories — what, he was trained as an engineer, he builds his own rocket pack/belt jets, he's not completely without ept — and one of them is traumatic amnesia. The other is based on a really nasty idea from a story, and unfortunately, the whole 'magic is involved' idea may mean it's more likely. Of course, he could be completely F.O.S. and without clue.

*

"Maybe? A couple of waterfolk I met said the same thing. It's sounding like that could be it, not that it makes this any…" Rowan sighs and looks back down into the water. "Any less disturbing. I.. yeah, my everything was hurt. I think I may have gotten into a fight of some kind on this side. I was told that I was transformed when I hit the bottom. Nearly collapsed part of that lab." And met Aspen. Well, this place's Aspen. And sacred the daylights out of her. Poor woman.

*

"Hm. Well, have any memories returned as you healed?" Simon's not sure whether it's a good idea to offer either of his theories, but the soldier probably already knows about 'head trauma amnesia' from the comical training films with Private Parts and Corporal Punishment showing what happens when you go without your helmet.

*

"Some. Though…" He pauses. "They seem to come back when something triggers them. I met a woman that I'd… met a few times on the other side. In the oddest of places. Suddenly remembered everything about her. Not that we were close, but she was famous and important to the war effort." And here? She's a scientist. And a Blue who has been separated from her people so long she no longer remembers them. He wonders if she's still at the lab or if she ever followed up on what he told her.

*

"Huh. So it does sound mostly like trauma. Falling through a wormhole, it's … things can get ripped off of you, at least, that's what the scientists have said," Simon relates. "I was in a film where that was the story, a man who fell through a wormhole and lost the parts of himself that made him a good person, but another guy fell through and the bad parts were ripped off. They ended up fighting on the Brooklyn Bridge — I know, it wasn't a great movie, it just had that interesting idea."

His smile is washed off by another sneaker wave. They don't like the movie either.

*

Rowan smiles, amused by the list of bad movies this man seems to have been in. "Tell me, is there really so much peace on this planet that people get bored enough to regale themselves with such stories? Not meaning to insult but… it sort of seems like a frivolity." Not that there wasn't fun on Earth 81, but it kind of got subsumed by the crushing need to stay alive.

*

"Yeah, very much a frivolity, but also a way to keep people entertained, which is both good and bad," Simon answers. "We haven't had a world war - one with all the governments involved taking some side and sending soldiers - in nearly a hundred years. Even the economic war that went on for the seventy years after that, well, that doesn't keep people distracted. And people want to be distracted. So a whole industry of making entertaining shows grew up. We haven't had your war, but I think, we've had Hollywood instead."

*

Rowan nods slowly. Hollywood is not a name he knows. He hasn't even seen the sign. It burnt down years ago on his world.

"I see. I guess that's better?" He's got one more question for the man. A very important one. "How do you think… your world would handle someone like me living in it? Do people fear… the unusual? DO you have to, say, hide? You're an actor so maybe not but… others, perhaps?"

*

Of course Mera let Rowan have some space. But just as much a given, she doesn't give him THAT much space. She follows his noticeably slower pace, staying right on the outside of her telepathic range with him — which has been growing farther the more time she spends around the unusual Blue — and then waits at the edge of that range while he speaks with a surface dweller. She's trying to determine if this is going to be a problem or not. If they're plotting something, she'll shut them down quite decisively. If it is truly an innocent meeting, she'll leave them be.

*

Ah, this is the hard part. Simon has to give the answer, and it isn't a totally happy one.

"Well, it kind of varies, but there's in general," and another sneaker wave pause. Simon just needs to learn to talk underwater.

"In general," he continues when the air has returned, "people are mildly afraid of what's different, but if they are given time to know you, if they're not attacked, if you make friends of them first, they act like most other people. They'll always react poorly if they feel threatened, but in the times I've been to places where I wasn't known, I didn't have more trouble. I had more trouble where I was well known as being a metahuman, frankly. And that's because they wanted to measure themselves against me. I don't try to stand out, but I also don't try to hold myself above other people, and it's worked for me. But it might not work for everyone. It's worth trying, and I'd be willing to accompany you if you need to go to the surface, like, find out if there are people who map to others you've left behind."

*

"I'm considering it. For now I am forbidden to leave the water by the King of Atlantis." Mera can tell quite easily that this has not earned Arthur or Atlantis in general a friend. "However not being Atlantean myself I may not in the future feel particularly beholden to that. For now I am… extending the benefit of a doubt."

The whole under the water and back up finally piques Rowan's curiosity. "You don't seem to need to breathe. Perhaps we should do this down below if it would be more comfortable?"

*

Mera continues to 'observe' from afar, though this invitation to a surfacer to 'speak' underwater is … intriguing.

*

"I can't talk underwater," Simon replies. "Unless there's a trick to it you can teach me. But hey, if you're a guest of … this Arthur's also the King of Atlantis? Because that's what Namor was claiming to be. Are they like the Spartans, multiple kings? Or is it something more complicated?"

Taking a breath in case he'll need air, Simon drops down under the water to see if he can hear the reply from Rowan. Maybe it'll work?

*

"I'm afraid I'm not sure who Namor is. If he existed in the reality I came from he was either far away or long dead. Either is possible I suppose assuming this is an alternate reality and I'm not simply some horribly injured delusional amnesiac." Which is… not a comforting thought at all. "Hrm… I think I'll just stick with the first idea for the sake of not driving myself mad."

*

How to speak underwater? Simon tries first to talk, but air bubbles ensue. Then water gets in. It's shocking, and a bit painful because it feels like it should be, not because it actually is, and Simon just grits his teeth and exhales hard, pushing the air out, letting the water in. He's probably going to hate it when he has to breathe air again. He tries to talk, and it sounds very weird to him. "Hn, ffff yuuwuw wrr d!llludddid hwhwwhwhyyy mmmaak uuupppopop ssummmnnn laiiiiahhh, mmmeee?"

That was terrible. He's pretty sure the water here has had fish in it too. He may even be trying to talk around plankton.

*

Mera drifts a bit closer, very much curious about the surfacer actually willing to try to communicate underwater and going so far as to force his body to breathe the liquid. And… just possibly due to her fascination, she gets close enough for Rowan to notice her presence.

*

Rowan half turns. He can be understood through the water via some sorcery or other. "Ah. My watcher. This should be interesting." It can't have escaped Mera's notice that he knows she's here now. "If you don't need to breathe, it's just a question of getting used to your vocal chords vibrating in water and not air. It's easier in some ways Simon."

*

Vocal exercises. You got it! Simon grins and makes a thumbs-up gesture. He starts making odd noises. "mmmaaaaa ayyyy iiiiy ohhhh ooooou" over and over until they sound right. He used to talk with a Connecticut accent, but he had to learn dialects for acting. Prrroooojekkt! your voice! Let them HEAR you in the BACK Rrrrowws! was his old voice tutor's orders, kind of ridiculous because Hollywood mikes everything and they get upset if you're doing that THEEATRRRICAL YELL. But whatever. He knows the drill. After an amusing few minutes, and peering through the water to see who this 'watcher' is in the meanwhile, Simon finally spots the swimming sea-queen, and pretends not to because he's in no condition to be polite yet. Talking with water really DOES use different muscles, but hey, it's only a little worse than New Orleans in summer, right? Oh hell no, this is worse.

*

Mera realizes pretty much right away that Rowan has seen her, so she moves closer into 'conversational' range. Of course, this means she gets to witness Simon's rather … odd vocal exercises. Which of course means she's looking at the surfacer like he's even MORE odd than the usual surfacer.

*

Rowan folds his arms as he watches the woman approach. "You're catching on really fast, Simon. That's sounding much better. Give it a week or so and you'll be talking to whales." That last is a somewhat wry joke. "Careful now. She's… very… um… strong willed. I'm sorry if I get you in some trouble here. I don't think you're crossing an international border…"

*

Only strangling a little on the consonants, Simon says, "Don't know about the borders. We're in the territorial waters. Don't know if it means anything to Atlantis. Didn't bother Namor much."

He waits respectfully enough for the Sea Queen to approach, recognizing her from the news and online photos. Which causes him to stop and realize that he's underwater. And his phone is underwater. And it's not … rated … for diving. "RRG!" he says to himself, and exhales hard. "Forgot. My Phone. Not water Proof."

*

Mera looks from Simon to Rowan. "These are uncontested waters. Too close to land for any undersea dwellers to try and make use of." Now, those fishing trawlers up north, those she might want to have a few words with every now and again. When the surfacer suddenly reacts to something she can't see, her eyebrows furrow and she watches him warily. "What is a 'fohn'?"

*

Rowan has no idea either. Communicators totally a thing he knows about. Phones? There are no cellular networks on Earth 81. Shortwave radio, yes. Not cell phones. "Good to know. Good afternoon Your Majesty. May I present Simon Williams of the Surface? Champion and Actor."

Rowan's tone is deferential but both Simon who is an actor, and Mera who is a telepath, may pick up on the subtle cues that he's not one hundred percent comfortable or happy with the Sea Queen.

*

Simon slowly opens his jacket, because of underwater, and (from a pair of earbuds) tugs out a silvery rectangle of metal, not very thick. It has glass on one face, and metal on the other, and water has made its way in through a few necessary openings to saturate the insides. High technology, not intended for trade or sale to Atlantis.

"This is a phone. Uses radio to talk to other phones."

He slips it back inside when he realizes: Majesty? This is the one he called Queen Mera? Wife of King Arthur? Oh. SHIELD will be very unhappy if he makes an international incident. If he could hear that far, he's pretty sure he'd hear Maria Hill preparing the Debriefing Room … where they remove your briefs in a forceful upward motion with respect to your feet being downward.

"Your Majesty? Honored to meet you," Simon manages.

*

Mera narrows her eyes at Rowan ever so slightly, thinking his displeasure in her is misplaced. She's been as accommodating as she knows how, even to the point of volunteering to remain with him instead of returning with Arthur to their home. That's gratitude for you. But then her attention returns to Simon and she nods with the introduction. "Champion SimonWilliams. Is that phone device damaged? Remind me before you depart, and I will attempt to correct it for you." See, Rowan? She's trying.

*

It's possible, and it's possible that Mera knows, that a great deal of Rowan's opinion about her is rooted in the version he knows being absolutely terrifying. That's… slowly changing.

"I fear, Your Majesty, my presence here frightened the crew of a passing ship. Simon was good enough to swoop down to defend them… and then inform them that I was not a threat." Might as well get that out there. Rowan isn't even permitted to transform right now? Honestly, how scary can he be? Pity he doesn't know, really, about Namor or he might understand.

"He's also… cleared up a number of things for me. The surfacers, they have many champions like him." So war with them? Seems really stupid. Good thing Arthur is apparently smarter than this.

"Additionally, they have so much leisure time that they can watch badly written stories."

*

"I'm not really a champion," Simon answers, "not officially anyway." Even though he got Namor mad enough to go all Imperious Rex on him just a few days ago. That was kind of fun, really. He got so huffy.

"That would be very kind, I would be indebted to you. They're a nuisance to replace."

Nuisance, not pain in the ass. Good. No vulgarity in front of a reigning queen. He smiles at the 'badly written stories'. Yeah, well, some day he'll get to be in the good ones.

*

Badly written stories? Mera glances at Rowan and then at Simon, apparently just as clueless about them as Rowan is/was. "I had heard from Arthur about the surfacer heroes. He works in coordination with them every now and again." She tilts her head a bit, studying Simon a bit more intently. "How are you 'not officially' a champion? Either you are, or you are not."

*

That part had confused Rowan a bit too. Clearly the ship's crew had recognized him and trusted him enough not to panic when he gave the all clear. But Simon insists he's merely an actor. Clever clover story perhaps? And Rowan is merely a soldier too. And Mera merely a queen. Heh. Right.

*

"I prefer to be an actor, an entertainer. I don't think I have the wisdom yet to use my power as a hero. I've done some hard work, unpleasant or dangerous things that might kill someone less breakable. But I was used, forced or tricked, into doing things that were harmful to others, to the common good, and so unless it's very clear that my extra power is necessary, I would rather use it to entertain people." That was a long speech, and it leaves Simon slightly dizzy, as actual oxygen got into his body from the amount of work speaking.

"So they can see someone who has unusual powers, who doesn't use it to oppress people, or to punish people personally instead of bringing them to justice under laws. It means they see me as a regular person, not a terrifying force. So when I do use it to do something nobody else can, it's not terrifying because it's not aimed at them, it might even be aimed on behalf of them."

*

Actor equates to entertainer. All right. That Mera can comprehend. She nods. "That you strive to assist others … more breakable than you qualifies you as, well, perhaps not a full champion. A," she says a word that doesn't translate to English, but Rowan would likely understand as something akin to a surfacer historical 'squire'. If he's heard that term used.

*

"Ah… an apprentice Hero?" Rowan struggles with the wording for a moment. "Squire perhaps. In any case, I'm glad to know that there are surfacers like you on this world, Simon…" That… actually makes him think of something. "Your Majesty, it occurs to me that this man seems to have the appropriate qualities to be an envoy of his people to your court." Inasmuch as as he's level headed, humble, philosophical and can breathe water. The last bit, very important.

*

Mera looks at Simon for a considering moment at Rowan's suggestion. It's a valid suggestion. "I agree. SimonWilliams, may I propose to my husband that you be contacted for the possible appointment as surfacer envoy to our court?" She phrased that carefully, not wanting to appoint the relative stranger offhand, but mentioning it to Arthur is at least a start. Though, who knows. Maybe Arthur already knows someone better for that posting.

*

And, there goes Karma (the Bitch Goddess) and her twin brother Murphy the Confounder, making Simon's good deed in stopping by to check out Rowan, into something that will make his life much more complicated. Well. If they ask for him, he'll have to do it, besides, they might choose someone like a Kissinger or a Creed, some kind of political monster that would poison things slowly for generations.

Hi, I'm Simon Williams, and I'm not a real Envoy but I play one on TV. No, wait. Shirley Temple did it. Of course she trained for years. Well. Get yourself a good scriptwriter, Simon.

"I wouldn't refuse, but I do have to point out, Your Majesty, that I was part of the group that opposed King Namor at his recent attack on one of our oil platforms off-shore about two-hundred miles south of here. So it might be a political problem."

He pauses a second to bring up something he noticed.

"I don't think he was as reckless as he seemed. He waited until we had the platform clear, and he had people and machines ready to safely remove the rig without spilling oil. I think … he may have hired an over-enthusiastic mercenary. A dozen humans and as many of his own people died there. It was … a horrible tragic waste."

*

Rowan shrugs at that. Until he learns more he's not inclined to judge. "What do you know of Namor, your Majesty? I'm given to understand he's a being of some clout, and yet I don't remember him… not that this should be surprising, I suppose." Mera is already well aware of Rowan's memory issues.

"Even so, provided there is such a thing as diplomatic immunity, I imagine such a thing could be worked around. Especially if you were simply defending your own."

*

Namor? "What exactly did this individual do?" she demands of Simon, openly scowling now, though it can easily be determined that her ire is not aimed at the water-breathing surfacer. Instead, she is angry that she had not heard about this earlier, and has every intention of relaying every word to her husband telepathically as it's spoken. She's just gone serious, yo.

*

Uh-oh. This could become Dramatic. Hill will absolutely be either delighted or bury him in a hole somewhere. Oh well. In for a penny, in for a million pounds.

"I am going from memory, and I was only given a partial briefing. King Namor has been upset over increasing pollution and destruction of sea life, and apparently, of underwater cities, though most surface-dwellers don't know anything about where your cities are. Namor issued a warning that we were no longer to consider ourselves free of the seas, and ordered our shipping, fishing, and mineral and oil drilling especially to cease or our ships and platforms would be … I think he said removed, not destroyed."

Simon pauses a moment to forcibly recall the briefing.

"Through some indirect method, we learned that he was going to remove the oil drilling platform off our coast, at the point I told you about earlier. I was asked to help defend, to minimize loss of life. So I went in with SHIELD, who gave me the briefing about his actions."

He looks up, and he's almost in performer mode, narrating it.

"It was calculated to be impressive, to make us feel helpless; he brought out a beautiful but very old ship. To me, it looked like a version of Jules Verne's Nautilus, but with styling closer to a whale. It was covered in barnacles, but there was a beautiful electrum figurehead of a sea goddess, and Namor was there next to it, in full armor with a conch bullhorn. He made a speech in what I think was Old Atlantean, and then a fairly well-written formal threat, possibly declaring war. I moved in and started pushing his ship off-course. The ship was huge, it had giant grinding teeth inside, it could have chewed the oil rig away to nothing. I called Namor a hypocrite, which made him angry, he claimed his people would prevent even one drop from spilling. It might have, but he'd apparently made an offer to mercenaries to keep the SHIELD agents - surface people, in general, I think - off the oil rig. The guy who he hired began killing SHIELD agents, and then a bunch of bombs that the mercenary had set were detonated, killing Atlantean and human alike - there was shooting, explosions, fire. Oil did in fact get into the ocean. Between myself and another person we broke his ship, and it was pulled back by his Kraken-ships. In the fighting, one of our heroes, Captain America, had been injured, and fell into the water. I was fighting with Namor, and he saw Cap in the water, and acted like he knew him, and ignored me — just as well, I was trying to keep the oil rig from collapsing by then. He took Cap up to the SHIELD helicarrier, and then ordered a full retreat."

Simon can't even claim dry mouth when he tells this story. Talking in the water, after all.

*

Rowan blinks once. Then twice. "I… um…" Okay… might as well just say it. "That… has to be oddest account of a battle I've heard in ten years of combat duty… and I've heard some really strange ones."

*

Mera looks positively murderous by the time Simon finishes speaking. "The surfacers are going to blame us for this insane Namor's actions." She looks at Rowan. "I need to confer with my husband. I will return." She looks ready to leave, but then turns to Simon again. "Let me try to repair your device, but then I need to leave."

*

"I will let my contacts at SHIELD know that you weren't aware of Namor's actions, Your Majesty."
He hands her the phone, hoping that if she dries it out it might not be useless. Even if it is, he'll be able to recover his memory cards."

*

Mera takes the device and surfaces just enough to extract all of the water from it. Hopefully the salt went with it. Keeping the device and her hand above water she then tells the surfacer. "It is now dry."

*

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Simon says, lifting upwards in a surge of purple energy, He takes the phone and carefully puts it in the waterproof pocket that it should have been in but wasn't because he was using it, and shortly, disappears in the direction of New York, at an increasing speed. Because he has news for the DepDir.

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