The Tides of Blood: Ripples in the Pond

January 29, 2015:

A shot heard round the seas has serious consequences. (emits by Aquaman)

The Dreadnaught

The Royal Flagship, in all its glory.

Characters

NPCs: Orm, Tula

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Exfil for the Royals is never needed, but the Atlanteans are nothing if not disciplined, so bored as they are, the ship waiting about in the depths of the Indian Ocean is in fact right where it's supposed to be. When it's alarms sound and it's soldiers, used to kicking back and doing scut work as they wait for their 'time', rush into action, it's all done through training because they honestly haven't a clue what to think.

The Drift soldiers, powered in their armor, escort the Queen and her package straight into the reservoir and into the ship proper, weapons drawn and ready. The soldiers on the ship gawk as the bleeding body of their King is shown to the light.

"Get him to the medbay! NOW!" roars one of the Drift, a man nearly seven feet tall and layered in slabs of muscle like granite. One half of his face is melted with burn scars and the hand of his that's not covered in one of the rail weapons Atlantis equips its elite soldiers with, is capped with a barbed hook-spear that glints as he points it at the gawking men. They gather the King and run move him quickly down the hall towards the medical facilities.

Atlantean Dreadnaughts are massive ships. Massive. Able to make Helicarriers appear nearly dainty in comparison, but what they may lack in maneuverability under water they more than make up for with speed and weaponry. Tula leaps from the docking pool and lands in the bay, barking orders before her feet even touch the plating.

"Shields up, weapons hot!" she says, pointing at a soldier who starts backing into an intercom.

"I want scouting troops in the water in twenty seconds! Someone tell the Captain to make haste for Atlantis! IMMEDIATELY!" her shout echos in the hull and men scatter. Angering the Drift's commanding officer has ended well for exactly no one. She moves to Mera.

"My Queen," she drops to a knee, hand clasped to her chest, "your orders?" The ship jerks slightly as it begins the trek towards the portals that will take them quickest to the capital city of the Empire.

~~~~

Mera looks at Tula for a shell-shocked second, her cheek still red with the blood splatter that hit her. She takes a breath and squares her shoulders, then says evenly, "Get us home then shore up defenses on every border, especially the ones toward land. And put the Palace guard on alert. This will not happen again."

Her eyes drift after where Arthur was taken, but she doesn't move to follow as much as she wants to.

~~~~

Surface World spy diplomat Simon Williams (seriously, him a diplomat?) is only apprised of the disastrous failure of a news conference by a double-brace of guards showing to escort him to a room in the Palace. It's not a room with windows and the door doesn't have a handle on the inside, but otherwise, it's a nice enough room, with light and art. On the way, he's not told anything.

"Fellas? What's going on? Did something happen?"

No response. So he waits. Apparently whatever happened, he needs to be here.

~~~~

Rowan is in a holding cell. To be fair, Rowan is in a holding cell because he opted not to show some Atlantean border guards what a dragon-commando from a world where There Is Only War looks like, but he's in a holding cell all the same, one situated not far off the pathway where Arthur, Mera and Simon would pass through in order to get to the medical wards

He's not really sure what happened except that it's bad and the entire city is buzzing like a kicked beehive to borrow the surfacer reference. He's hasn't been in here long and is just debating internally whether this is a case of someone being slightly overzealous or whether things have gone Horribly Wrong.

~~~~

A people as sensitive to sound as Atlanteans are build very quiet prisons, which is usually more then a little disconcerting for the few Atlanteans that decide to break the law. Very very few. It's quiet in Rowan's rooms. Very quiet. But he can feel the tremor of heavy men running. Lots of them. Hard. Soldiers don't usually run unless something is very wrong.

Tula nods once and leaps to her feet before running off down a hall, motioning to a handful of men as she goes, "You, you, you, you, and you with me, the rest of yo-"

She stops mid word and bends down to pick something up with a scraping of metal. There's a hum in the very core of every Atlantean on the globe, a soft hum, a tickle, and then it fades. Tula turns and returns more sedately to Mera, holding out the Trident, its golden sheen dimmed behind smeared blood.

"My Queen." she says softly. The Trident is more then just a spear or a pointy thing. It's The Artifact. More then any crown it is the symbol of the ruler of Atlantis and when it's held by a Royal it deems worthy, all can feel it. It's the one thing no one can argue with Arthur about, because when it is in his hands they Know It's Meant To Be There. Tula, uncertain if Mera wants it, seems at a loss at what to do with the Trident.

~~~~

Simon's cell door opens and in walks a man in black and purple armor, scaled and made of the same material as Aquaman's. He too holds a trident, though his is more circular at it's crest, the edge sharpened to razor points, and his face is obscured behind a golden mask fashioned to look crustacean like in design.

"Simon Williams." says the man, his voice instantly giving him away as Prince Orm, right hand of the throne and the most powerful magic user in the realm, "Wonder Man."

His lips twist in a snarl.

"Do you know why we allow you into our home?"

The door behind Orm closes with a heavy sound and locks with what sounds like bolts several yards thick.

"We are a people obsessed with security, secrecy, and you are a poorly disguised agent of espionage. And yet," he waves the trident as if to say 'you're here', "but you've never really asked why we allow it. And to be clear, we do. Allow it. At great sufferance."

~~~~

Rowan can be patient, when he has to be. So he's reclining on the cot in his cell, watching what he can which isn't much. Patience is a virtue. A virtue that, once exhausted, turns into a grudge.

Arthur and Mera he respected because he knew from his own world their mettle and character, even if they frightened him. Atlanteans he respected because of their fidelity and skill in battle.

He's starting to respect them a little less now.

~~~~

"I haven't asked anyone, no, because I was told by Mera and Arthur why they invited me. According to your king, I was asked to come here so that the people of Atlantis would have a surface dweller to get used to, since he lived among us for what amounted to that reason," Simon answers. He's seen Orm only at occasional formal functions, never actually spoken with him.

"I was told to gather appropriate information, yes, as any ambassador does. I am not a soldier. As a spy, I'm not really that big a deal. I don't know anything about troop strength, defenses, or military. I know more about how your people live from day to day, which is not a great deal different to how many surface dwellers live."

He tilts his head, red-glowing eyes narrowing slightly at Orm's attitude of superiority. Yeah, royalty, there's a reason why we kicked them out.

"So, yes, if your King has more than one reason, and I'm sure he does, the major one is that I'm here to be your sample surface-dweller. I'm your Gulliver. You probably won't get that reference. But I know the majority of you tolerate my presence because they told you to."

~~~~

Mera accepts the Trident from Tula, though she's pretty sure she knows what's going to happen. She has never really had any affinity for the Artifact, and she's fairly certain now will be no different. But, she'll do what she has to. And this is a BIG symbolic thing.

"Notify Orm that I would speak with him the moment we arrive." She needs to be sure of where his loyalties lie, and fast.

~~~~

The trident… does nothing. There is no sudden feeling of wrongness from anyone present, but neither is there the comforting feeling of Rightness that comes from Arthur's hand on the weapon. A Rightness who's sudden lack is screaming in the primitive parts of every Atlantean's soul the world over. A sort of feeling of something missing that shouldn't be, something not right, something… off. But nothing feels wrong either. The trident remains dormant in Mera's hands, but neither does it reject her. Arthur always told her it was a finicky thing, it had it's own mind about who could use it. He also said the cost was high. Perhaps she has yet to pay it.

Tula pauses only for a moment and then her hand hits her breastplate, "Yes my Queen."

Then she finishes her orders: "The rest of you stay here, guard the Queen with your lives."

And then she returns to running through the ship's halls, the men she selected to help her in tow. One of the men from the ship approaches nervously, kneeling quickly.

"Majesty, the Blue Centurion from the other dimension was caught breaching our borders without escort. We haven't returned him to the City yet. He couldn't be a spy fo-" the man stops, even suggesting an Atlantean would betray them is anathema.

"What do you wish us to do with him?" he asks instead.

~~~~

Orm stares at the man and shakes his head sadly, "I suspected you hid a canny intelligence behind your boyishly foolhardy charm. Perhaps you still do, however I find it increasingly unlikely. We invited you here for those reasons yes, but not them alone. You are one of the surface world's strongest champions, a bastion of strength, a symbol of great power. A marker, not unlike a flag."

Orm reaches out to run a finger along the wall of the room. The armor scrapes on the metal of the wall, an unpleasant keening noise.

"We brought you here because should the surface world ever make a move against us, we would need someone, someone they all knew was powerful, very powerful, to serve as an example to the others."

Orm turns to look back at Simon, his expression hardening.

"I suggest you attempt to wrap your infantile brain around the following two facts and come to terms with your soon to be fate Simon. First, we just received a communication from one of our dreadnaughts. The King has been slain by a surface worlder assassin. Second, my people discovered Ionic energy over fifteen hundred years ago and have long since mastered its use in both our technologies and our magics."

Orm's lips slowly split into a hateful grin, "When my sister-in-law returns with my brother's body, I wonder what sort of mood she'll be in… I for one hope she lets me play with you first."

~~~~

Simon is stunned, and not hiding his expression of shock. "Killed? How? Why?"

He shakes his head in denial. "I don't care about your flag and marker games. Really, that's … why do you even bother with that kind of threat? You sound like a bad movie villain. Whatever game you want to play, death or torture, it's not important. Someone killed your brother and they have to be brought to justice."

He mutters briefly, and Orm might hear something like 'Poseidon guard your shade' … a street-level, commoner Atlantean goodbye to the dead.

~~~~

Mera looks at the man asking about Rowan, and thinks quickly.

"Send him to the Surface. He has no place in Atlantis."

More accurately, Mera could use his presence on the surface more than cooped up in a holding cell in the palace. But again, that thought isn't for public consumption. But, she does want Rowan to understand why she's technically exiling him, so waits until he's close enough for her to communicate with telepathically, and then she explains her reasoning for telling the guard to send him away.

~~~~

Mera's attuned to Rowan enough to know that it's a good thing the captain who actually lets him out of the cell is one of the more reasonable sorts, because he's been stewing long enough that he's actually quite angry. The Blue doesn't see Mera or Simon as he's escorted out, nor does he speak to the guards as its explained that should he return, he'll be treated with hostility. He does, however, give their armor a rather unimpressed look before he shifts and begins to swim away. He's close enough now, that some telepathy should be possible.

~~~~

The dreadnaught wastes no time returning to Atlantis, even as Rowan is 'escorted' to the pool in the bay that leads out, the ship shimmers its way through a portal and vanishes onto the next leg of it's journey… leaving Rowan in the Indian Ocean with orders to go to the surface. That no one knows about. And no idea why. Thousands of leagues from his known waters. Awesome.

Mera's communicator chimes softly and Tula speaks.

"Orm has had the surfacer Simon Williams arrested on principle, he is in the Forgotten currently. My brother asks you allow him to take his anger out on this Wonder Man before activating the room's magics. Also the medical suites have been prepped and our surgeons are standing by… but the doctors on the dreadnaught they say… I'm sorry my Queen. They say our King is no longer with us. I-" there's the sound of grinding teeth, "the Drift has mobilized and they are sending out the word. Our military is beginning it's slow return to complete readiness, and the Magi have been informed you may require them, whatever help the bickering academics may be."

Someone not a huge fan of the Magi, but then most soldiers aren't since they're more professors then anything warlike and useful. Well. Some of them anyway.

Orm eyes Simon.

"I suppose that is the sort of question my Queen will have for you upon her return. 'Why' and possibly 'how' and maybe even a 'who', though honestly I can't see as it matters greatly. One of your kind is much like any other. I will see to it your world is drowned for this, blood or water I care little which one."

Simon's soft comment spoken this close to an Atlantean is sure to be heard, and Orm's eyes flash, "DO NOT SPEAK SUCH BLASPHEMY!!" and the water in Simon's throat simply stops moving, blocking up his airways and clogging up his voice box.

"You should know, we don't often kill criminals here… we rebirth them. You will be stripped of your memories, your life, everything. We will take from you all the things you know and teach you anew. When we are done surfacer, Atlantis is all you will have known, all you love. We will take from you the sky and the sun and earth and leave you with nothing but us. And you will love us for it."

Orm's form shimmers, becoming indistinct, "I must leave you now, it seems my sister is calling on behalf of the Queen… maybe she'll let me start early…" and he's gone, vanishing from the cell, with his removal the water in Simon's throat releases its hold and flows normally again.

~~~~

It's uncomfortable but Simon's not actually bothered by the breath being locked in his throat, though he coughs to get his voice back… he doesn't actually breathe, and only eats out of courtesy. Down here, he has been forced to refine his control of his ionic structure, and what he can do might be an unwelcome surprise, if it comes to it.

For a few minutes after Orm leaves, he remains impassive, following the direction of Orm's movement. The room is quiet, but in the dark of the deep ocean Simon's had to learn to see with something more than just heat and light, and while the room is lit, he still follows the faint neutrino ghost interacting with the magician's energies; it makes him stand out a bit more.

The man has given away several things while making his threats that might not be things that he would have wanted to give away. First, that they have Ionic technologies. Simon hasn't actually sensed any such things, so far, and he does have that capacity to sense, but it could be for many reasons. They might shut him down, or worse. Second, they use something, probably magic, to destroy memories, of their criminals at least. State sanctioned murder that creates a happy slave, How very special, how very civilized. No wonder the place was sunk to the bottom of the ocean by annoyed gods. But hypocrisy and hubris aren't unique to Atlantis, unfortunately.

"Arthur, I am going to miss you," he says.

Then he starts actively reaching out with his senses, looking for the ionic energies — yeah, not actually electrical charges from extra electrons or extra holes where electrons go. Mad Doctor was Mad, and made up terminology. Whatever. Find the energies, if they're out there, and see what they do. Are they really the same thing? And don't think about the threats. DO remember, though, that if you end up punching him, do it really, really hard.

~~~~

Orm fades quickly, and then he's just… gone. Completely. In fact, Simon can't sense anything beyond the walls of the Forgotten, nothing at all. Not because there is technology or magic that's blocking him, at least, he doesn't think so. But perhaps something entirely worse. Perhaps… because there's nothing to sense. Atlantis mastered the Veil, the Bleed, long ago. They have trapped entire races in pocket dimensions (ask Mera) built ancient prisons in other worlds, separated gods from their people even. Either the room is secure… or it's Elsewhere. Orm is arrogant and proud, but he's not boastful, when Simon's seen him speak, he's never bothered to lie. Lying is beneath Orm, just like the surfacers are. Lying is for lesser beings.

Simon is utterly and completely alone…

~~~~

Mera acknowledges Tula's message about Simon, and replies with, "No. I will speak with the Surfacer first. Then Orm can play with him afterward if he chooses."

But then she goes on to say that Arthur's …. she can't even think the word to herself. The urge to scream and start destroying anything that her hands touch is quickly reaching unbearable, and she practically snarls at the next member of the Dreadnought's crew that makes the mistake of trying to get her attention. Instead, she demands that the captain allow her uninterrupted use of his stateroom, and that she remain undisturbed until Orm arrives.

And, once she's in the space alone with her husband's Trident in her hands, all she can do is sit on the floor and grieve. Which quickly turns to anger. Anger at those who DARED take Arthur away from her. They WILL pay. She will make sure of it.

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