Meanwhile, Aquaman, Dolphin, Cascade, and a furious Chimaera were battling for their lives against Warlord Barras and his troops from Lemuria. The death of Princess Amymone had sent her lover Karel Krill into a blind rage, and he was using the weapons built into his costume with a grim effectiveness.
Chimaera sailed across the area, picking off the soldiers with a fierce emission of energy blasts that left the armored men stunned and their weaponry charred to scrap. Dolphin was equally relentless, if far less ruthless, as she kicked and punched her way through the warlord’s forces.
Cascade was still regaining full use of her abilities, but the Javanese singer and dancer was able to find resourceful ways to battle the soldiers. I want more out of my super-hero career than just being the girl target of a bunch of thugs, but I have to admit my watery form does draw their attacks away from the others, she thought. These mugs can slice and chop and punch all they want without causing me more than a ripple or two.
As for Aquaman, he was ducking and punching away with the experience and skill of a true champion. However, he was still troubled by his earlier bout with Chimaera. I handled that like a real hothead! he thought. I don’t know what came over me.
Seeing Barras aiming a spear at the battle-maddened Chimaera, Aquaman dived forward to deflect it. Chimaera noticed the rescue and made no response except to continue battling toward Barras himself.
“We’re winning!” yelled Dolphin. “But we have to stop the rest of the Lemurian fleet!”
“I know!” said Aquaman. “Apparently, Amymone’s brother is leading them, and he also blames us for his sister’s disappearance! Her death may really ignite an all-out war!”
Barras saw his forces crumbling, and he began to back away from the battle. I didn’t expect these few fighters to challenge me and my crew, but they do have powers beyond mortal understanding! he thought. I have no choice but to take an active role in finishing them off. He dropped down with surprising agility as Aquaman came within range of the warlord’s weapons. Smiling coldly, he raised a crossbow, only to cry out as a blast from Chimaera’s hands shattered it in his face.
“Thank you!” said Aquaman. “Nicely done.”
Chimaera said nothing, but resumed fighting until he had broken through the lines and reached Barras. The blue-and-white-costumed youth was on the seasoned warrior in seconds, and he brought all of his pain and loss into play as he pummeled the older man until the warlord passed out.
Aquaman stepped forward and said, “Son, killing him won’t take away the pain. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. The fact is, nothing will take it away completely, but time will make it easier to withstand.”
Chimaera nodded and stood up over the battered body of the Lemurian. “You’re right,” he said. “Beating him didn’t help one bit.”
Cascade stepped over to her friend’s side and said, “Karel, you need time to grieve. Too much has happened to you for you to be thinking clearly.” Chimaera nodded and stepped into the girl’s embrace.
Aquaman turned to Dolphin and said, “We’d better secure them and use their ship to get home. We’ve still got to stop Amymone’s brother and his legions!”
“The Seekers were the Lemurians,” added Dolphin. “They also came from the search parties sent out several millennia ago by ancient Atlantis before it sank. If things were different, we could see them as kin!”
“I understand Atlena’s dream,” said Aquaman. “We even know that it was Demo’s abduction of Amymone with an Atlantean craft that led these Lemurians to come after us. It’s too bad that understanding won’t make stopping them any easier.”
Within Vulko’s palace at Poseidonis, Atlena had recovered from her fright and had explained to a concerned Mera that her vision of the Seekers seemed related to her late father King Thorvall and his expeditions. But this information did little to comfort either woman as they prepared for invasion.
Mera sighed as she thought about Nautica again. She had taken her young daughter to their surface home in New Venice, where friends would keep the child safe. But she still worried about her, and she wondered what had happened to Arthur and Garth. “Arthur left to help Dolphin, but Garth never came back from his own scouting expedition. If the enemy found him, they might have killed him! I know he is capable, but he still seems like a boy to me!”
Vulko approached her and said, “Mera, dear, you mustn’t worry so! Aquaman always triumphs! You know that!”
She smiled warmly at the old man’s evident faith in her husband. Patting his hand, she said, “Thank you. I know he does.”
At that moment, a quake shook the palace itself as guards raced in to report the approach of a lone figure.
“Excellency, a swimmer carrying a trident just came into sight!” cried a young guard named Alaris. “His weapon seemed to rip the very ground asunder! With that kind of power, he needs no army of his own!”
“Subdue him!” ordered Vulko. “Try to get him to drop the weapon! I assume the quakes are caused by that trident.”
As Alaris rushed to obey the portly monarch, Vulko turned to address Mera, only to find that the flame-haired beauty had left. Mera is still every inch the queen, he thought. There is no talking to the woman when she gets a notion in her head.
The troops of Poseidonis were being routed by one amazing invader. Prince Amphitron of Lemuria had his sister’s dark hair and regal manner, but he fought like a lion. He tore through the troops with ease, displaying a raw strength that dwarfed anything the poor soldiers could muster. He wore a blue outfit with golden trim at the neck and wrists, and he carried the fabled trident that had brought down Tritonis.
“Cowardly rabble!” he cried. “You steal away a helpless girl like craven suitors afraid to face her family. Well, I am here to rescue my sister or avenge her pain! Your fate will depend upon her state of being!”
Mera drew closer, watching with horror as her friends fell before his might. She darted forward and concentrated until a solid water fist formed and swept the trident out of Amphitron’s hand. She caught hold of it and swam furiously toward the city even as the angry royal chased after her, finally catching her by her long red hair.
“Well, a pretty prize, indeed!” he said as he admired her beauty and crushed her in a tight embrace. Mera struggled to break free, but his grasp was too strong, and he kissed her roughly before stepping back and nodding in approval. “If all the women are as lovely as you, then I will enjoy more than merely martial conquests!”
“You brute!” yelled Mera. “We don’t have your sister! Why do you use such lies to justify your aggression?”
Amphitron laughed harshly and said, “You speak well, but I cannot be swayed by honeyed words. A vessel from your realm took her away while she was on an ill-considered trip to the surface. I will free her, or die trying!”
Suddenly, a green-gloved fist crashed into his head as Aquaman swam forward and said, “Let go of my wife, or I’ll help you accomplish the latter goal!”
Mera sighed with relief as Aquaman wrestled Amphitron away from both trident and woman. She knew her husband could handle the problem, so she resumed her initial mission, hurrying away with the magical trident.
Amphitron sneered with contempt as he returned Aquaman’s blows with his own skillful punches. “You cannot stand up against a true prince of the realm!” he said. “If a beauty like that red-tressed enchantress belongs to one such as you, then I fear for the manhood of your kingdom!”
“Big words don’t win a fight!” countered Aquaman. He fell backward as Amphitron staggered him with an uppercut. The hero was tired, having piloted the Lemurian ship with all the speed he could muster, and now, as Dolphin, Cascade, and Chimaera transported the captive soldiers and Warlord Barras inside the city, he fought the Lemurian champion.
“Your fleet came here for the wrong reason!” he said as he ducked under a punch that could have shattered coral. “We share a common ancestry! Why have you not sought us out before — in peace?”
“The noble warriors of Lemuria have no need to traffic with lesser beings!” said Amphitron. “Barbarians have plagued us from time immemorial, and we have no desire to mingle with savages!”
“Listen to me!” yelled Aquaman. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but your sister was abducted by a criminal. The man that took her had neither status nor authority with any kingdom above or below the seas! He wanted to force her to tell him how she survived in either environment! He has always been an enemy of mine!”
Amphitron grunted as Aquaman caught him with a stinging jab to the chin. “If this enemy of yours has my sister, then why was she taken in a craft of yours?” demanded the Lemurian prince.
“Demo made the ship from parts stolen from our city,” explained Aquaman. “This is all a tragic mistake! Please, give me a chance to prove my story is true!”
Amphitron frowned and said, “There is more to this matter than you have expressed! Tell me plainly — where is my sister?”
Aquaman hesitated, then tried to place a placating hand on the proud prince’s shoulder. “Amphitron, I’m sorry to tell you this, but your sister died while in Warlord Barras’ custody. It was possibly due to the reaction her system had to pollution from above! The warlord wanted to use her death to engineer war for his own profit.”
Amphitron shook away from Aquaman, and a terrible expression covered his face. “She will be avenged! By Neptune’s trident, I will bring down this kingdom and make the oceans run red until her death is avenged a thousand times over!” He started to draw back his fists, when his eyes widened at the sight of Chimaera carrying Amymone’s body out of the city.
“Amymone!” cried Amphitron as he ripped the body out of Chimaera’s arms.
“I loved her, too!” said Chimaera. “Warlord Barras must pay!”
“There is a time for the strident blast of the battle horn, and there is a time for the sounds of grief,” said Prince Amphitron. “I will bury my sister and take no further action against your people at this time. But be warned, there may yet come a day when Amphitron of Lemuria meets you all as bloody avenger!” After a moment’s pause, to let the full import of his words sink in, he demanded, “Release the captive forces of Lemuria. Barras will be judged by the Lemurian court. I have always known he was an ambitious fiend. I will beat the truth out of him, if I must!”
Aquaman nodded and said, “I will see that it is done. Amphitron, I’m sorry for your loss, but I want you to consider the fact that some day our peoples might justly unite as allies and surviving heirs to the lost Atlantean empire.”
“Perhaps, but for now I seek nothing more than peace in which to grieve,” said Amphitron.