Aquaman: The First Wave, Chapter 2: Cascade

by Libbylawrence

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Later, a determined Aquaman swam swiftly through the waters outside the city as he wrestled with troubled thoughts all his own.

Atlena’s resting now, but I never could get her to explain her vision, he thought as he swam furiously. However, I don’t need to understand the exact nature of the threat she envisioned to prepare for it. I’ve been out here for hours without running into so much as a lost guppy. With Garth, Mara, and the others leading their own search parties, perhaps one of them will have better luck. I only hope one of us finds out what these so-called Seekers she described want!

He knew that inactivity sometimes rubbed him the wrong way. Although he relished every precious moment of peace with his wife and daughter, there was a part of him that had been a hero for too long to ever accept sitting idly by for too long without itching for action.

Aquaman frowned as he climbed over a reef and stared through the waters in search of something or someone that might pose a threat to the cities he championed. The Seekers? he mused. Vulko had never heard of them, and his knowledge of Atlantean history is second to none! There is nothing in the JLA files about such a group, either. I would have supposed Atlena had merely envisioned some previously unknown threat was about to rise up against us, but she specifically said they have returned. Plus, she knew their name. This is a mystery worthy of Elongated Man and his twitching nose. Too bad I lack Ralph’s gift for deductive reasoning.

A shark loomed into view, and Aquaman casually used his telepathy to nudge it aside. As he did so, an odd feeling came over him. The blond hero placed one gloved hand against his head as he felt a sudden sensation.

“Neptune’s beard! I’ve felt this same tingling before today. It is as if some other mind was trying to contact my own. I’ve tried to restrain my own telepathic impulses out of respect to the visiting Tritonians. I certainly didn’t want them to pick up on my earlier discomfort at the ceremony.”

Concentrating, he allowed his powerful mind to reach out into the waters in a manner that sought the other mind but made no effect to control it. “It certainly is not an aquatic life form. If it was some fish trying to seek my help, I would have recognized the feeling by now.”

Then he fell forward as something slammed into him from behind. Quickly regaining his footing with his characteristic agility, he whirled to face nothing but empty waters. An invisible foe? he wondered. Even the otherwise invisible Un-Thing wore a very visible diving suit. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Aquaman, Save Our Seas,” Aquaman #24 (November-December, 1965).]

Again he felt a whispering touch in his brain, and he tried to contact the unseen mental presence. Slowly, almost painfully, he probed the waters until his eyes began to see a transparent shape or the outline of a shape form across his line of vision.

That’s it! Use my mind as an anchor! he thought as he sensed that the strange apparition had been trying to make mental contact with him all along.

“Aquaman! Help me, please!”

The thought reached his mind, and this time what had been a vague whisper or a mental tickle became words that he could understand. He tried to command the other presence into finishing the process of communication, but he could only help the process and not control it.

Slowly, the watery formation assumed a more humanoid form, and a rather curvaceous one, at that.

Suffering shad! he thought. A female made of water! Yet she’s certainly not my old foe, New-Wave of the Masters of Disaster; her blatant hostility is absent from this girl.

Finally, with a convulsive sob, the watery girl became fully solid and then fell into his arms. She was a beautiful girl with long, dark black hair and the flawless complexion of an islander. She wore a dark green costume with a scalloped shell-like pattern across the leggings and chest section.

He easily swept her up and carried her back to the city. Don’t worry, he thought. You’ll be fine! I’ll help you!

In Vulko’s lab, Aquaman stared down at the girl as the wise ruler of Poseidonis revealed his own findings.

“Being a monarch is rewarding, but I admit I do miss working in my lab,” said Vulko.

Aquaman nodded and said, “What about the girl? Is she all right?”

“She is remarkable,” said Vulko. “Apparently, she possesses the power to transform all or part of her body to water at will. She can also make the watery areas semi-solid by choice. I’d wager she overexerted herself and somehow dissolved or dispersed her consciousness amidst the ocean itself. Only making contact with your own heightened and sensitive mind allowed her to bring herself together again.”

Aquaman nodded and said, “I’d assumed as much, but do you know who she is?”

The girl sat up abruptly and said, “I’m OK now, thanks to you! My name is Sujatmi Sunowaparti. I’m a singer/dancer from Java in Indonesia. My professional name is Cascade. Catchy, huh? I figured it also was fitting because of my talents.”

“I’m Aquaman. This is King Vulko. Your English is very good. How did you gain your abilities?”

Cascade smiled and said, “I don’t know. I just discovered them when I was thirteen, about six years ago. A friend of mine was able to help me make sense of them. He’s a real egghead type. He created the costume I’m wearing. Normally, it allows me to retain control of my body when I’m made of water. I guess I busted it trying to get here to you.”

“I repaired it while you rested,” said Vulko. “What brings you here?”

She looked at him with a worried expression on her face. “I was swimming around off of Java, while on a break between gigs, when I spotted a whole fleet of underwater warships! They looked like something outta George Lucas’ daydreams! I spied on them while in my wet look and figured you were the only guy around who could stop them. I mean, you are the Superman of the deep!

“High praise, indeed,” said Aquaman. “I’ll help you all I can.”

“Perhaps we’ve found the Seekers!” suggested Vulko.

***

Meanwhile, the blonde mermaid known as Lenora Lemaris was hiding within a thick cluster of tangled seaweed. She placed one hand on Dolphin’s arm and gestured toward a mysterious vessel that blended almost seamlessly into the side of a coral reef. Lenora shook out her long blonde hair and communicated telepathically, “This is the source of the anguished thoughts I detected. There is a woman in considerable emotional distress within that ship!”

Dolphin stared at the strange ship and said, “Amazing! It is a submarine like those used by many undersea explorers, but it combines surface technology with Atlantean technology.”

“Yes,” said Lenora. “It is the Atlantean cloaking device that allows it to camouflage itself so well. I doubt anyone would have noticed it at all by mere vision.”

“Your telepathy may be their downfall,” said Dolphin.

Lenora adjusted one of the many necklaces that hung across her chest and said, “I hope I’m in time. I brought you here as soon as I spotted you, but shouldn’t we get some of the men to come here? After all, this could be dangerous.”

Dolphin smiled to herself as she thought, Poor Lenora grew up in her big sister’s impressive shadow, and she still needs to gain some self-confidence. From the way she handled herself in the ceremony, I assumed she was more capable.

“I do read minds, you know!” said Lenora.

Dolphin blushed and said, “I’m sorry! It was brave of you to come and get help, and I do think I can handle it alone. Why don’t you return to the city and tell the others while I try to rescue the captive?”

Lenora smiled warmly and said, “I will hurry.”

As the mermaid swam away, Dolphin approached the sub and carefully climbed over the reef to perch on the top of the craft.

But before the girl in the light blue top and jean shorts could do more than steady herself, she received a powerful electric shock and knew no more.

***

When Dolphin opened her eyes sometime later, she found herself bound to a wall by what appeared to be ancient, rusty chains but were, in fact, made of a modern metal that defied her own enhanced strength.

“Aye, my pretty. Ye’ll not be breakin’ those metal bonds, I’ll wager!”

The words came from a weirdly dressed man who cackled with delight at the girl’s predicament and brandished a silver hook at the end of one wrist. He wore an ornate long coat with faded gold braid at the cuffs. He grinned crookedly and bowed low in a mockery of courtly manners.

“Cap’n Demo at your service!” he said. “If only all the fishes I catch from the deep had legs like yours! Now, give us a kiss!” He chuckled.

Dolphin couldn’t free her chained arms, but her legs were free, and she promptly kicked the modern-day pirate across the cabin when he tried to kiss her.

Captain Demo roared in anger and jumped to his feet with a scowl on his face. “Ye’ll regret that little show of spirit!” he cried.

Suddenly, as if in response to some thought, the hook retracted, and a nuzzle swiveled around to generate a blast of heat that left Dolphin gasping in pain. “That will teach ye manners! Learn from my other prisoner! No one defies the iron law of Cap’n Demo!”

He gestured to where another woman was slumped over from chains that held her to another part of the cabin. She wore thigh-high pink boots and a matching tunic. Her long hair was dark black with almost a blue tint to it.

“That one claims to be royalty, no less!” said Demo. “Well, I broke her spirit, and I’ll do the same for you!

“You know, the whole pirate act would be more effective if you were consistent in your use of ye and you,” said Dolphin.

Captain Demo nodded with a dark expression on his face. “After my last battle with that scurvy dog Aquaman, I served years in the brig. When I got out, I built this here craft from technology taken from ruins below. It cost me time and money, but now I can use my sub to rule the waves and the world beneath them! And with the secrets Princess Amy, here, can give me, I’ll be the terror of both domains!” He stalked out of the cabin.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Pirate Who Plundered Atlantis,” Adventure Comics #441 (September-October, 1975).]

Dolphin spoke softly to the other woman. “Amy? Is that your name? Are you hurt?” she called.

The other woman looked up through a mass of tangled hair and said, “I am known as Princess Amymone of Lemuria.”

“Lemuria?” said Dolphin. “I’ve heard of that ancient land. Wasn’t it a rival nation to Atlantis itself?”

Amymone shook her head vigorously and replied, “Legends may depict it as such, but in truth Lemuria was settled by explorers sent out from Atlantis before disaster struck that proud empire! Sadly, ancient Lemuria also fell victim to destruction beneath the waves because of hubris and the infernal powers of terrible machines!”

“You seem weak,” said Dolphin. “Are you not normally an air-breather?”

“No,” said Amymone. “My people — my ancestors — developed a means of surviving underwater. I rely upon a chemical potion to temporarily breathe out of water. It is that potion’s efficacy that is slowly wearing off!”

“Is there anyone who might come looking for you?” asked Dolphin.

The exotic princess began to weep as she replied, “My beloved was murdered by Demo when he attacked us at our usual rendezvous. As for my family, only my brother lives to avenge me! Should he find Demo, then that land-dweller will surely perish before he may so much as raise his hook!”

Dolphin wished she could do something to help the woman, but as she strained at her chains, she took comfort in the thought that Lenora Lemaris would alert Aquaman to her location. If only he comes in time, she thought as she gazed at the gasping woman across from her.

***

Earlier, Aqualad had been scouting the area outside one section of the domes of Poseidonis when the purple-eyed New Titan had spotted a scene of combat. Garth swam forward with the same courage that so marked his mentor and said, “Three against one? I’d say you boys enjoy playing it safe!” He addressed the defiant words to three men who wore golden and black armor and were wrestling a female figure to the ground.

Garth dodged the spear one of the soldiers hurled his way, and then he connected with a punch of his own that sent the attacker reeling. He twisted to block a sword thrust with the discarded spear and kicked out to drive the other soldier into his partner.

“The stripling fights like a fury!” cried the soldier. “And no wonder — his eyes mark him as one accursed!

Garth rammed his head into the man’s chin and then elbowed him in the stomach. A final well-placed kick flattened the final soldier as he tried to rise up to attack again.

Too bad Ulla chose to remain with her folks, he thought. She enjoys action as much as I do, but then, as the champion of all of Denmark, that’s natural. That spunk of hers reminds me of poor Tula.

He thought of his lovely blonde fiancĂ©e and of her predecessor in his affections — Tula the Aquagirl — for a moment and then bent over to help the fallen woman. She was partially bound by a hood that draped over her upper body and constricted her arms.

“Hold on!” he said. “I’ll get you out of that thing.”

Ripping off the fabric, Aqualad gasped as he stared into the wide brown eyes of Tula herself.

“Suffering shad!” he sputtered. “Aquagirl — alive?!

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