Meanwhile, back in Poseidonis, King Vulko strolled through an algae garden with the lovely Mera. “My dear, your daughter’s name interests me. Have you considered Vulkonia?” he said with a chuckle.
Mera smiled and shook her head. “No. In all honesty, I may say we have not. Perhaps Nautica.”
“Nautica?” said Vulko. “I rather like the sound of that. Very musical.”
At that moment, the king and the other-dimensional former queen were greeted by a worried guardsman.
“My King, we are under attack by hordes of the outer sea barbarians!” he cried. “Amuta and his legions are attacking the very dome itself!”
Vulko frowned. “By Thetis! Those savages will destroy all we’ve rebuilt if they break through!”
“Too late, sire! They’ve entered!” shouted a newcomer. “I know not how, for the dome is un-breached, but they are within our city as I speak!”
“Oh, Arthur, return to us quickly!” prayed Mera.
“Arion has departed, too,” said Vulko with concern. “Summon Aqualad. He is our best hope.”
Garth and Ulla Påske had been enjoying a romantic moment in a coral garden when the barbarians had attacked. He had been feeling more confident in his relationship with the champion of Denmark since he’d had a long talk with Aquaman. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Aqualad and Mermaid: Guppy Love.]
Aquaman had said to him, “Garth, Tula would want you to continue living and loving. You need to stop feeling guilty for finding a new love after Tula’s death. She’d be happy for you. You’d feel that way if you had been the one to die and she had lived on after the Crisis.” Garth knew this to be correct. Tula had been so vivacious and full of life. She would want him to find new love after her death.
The time for romance ended abruptly after only a few kisses, as savage warriors erupted from the streets and created immediate chaos.
“Garth, those are the barbarians of the reef,” said Ulla, the heroine known as the Mermaid. “I’ve heard of them before. They are said to be flesh-eaters!”
Aqualad stood up. “How they got in is the big mystery.” He charged forward to pull a warrior off of a startled woman.
Mermaid flew toward the fight and slammed into the fray, her legs changing swiftly from human to mermaid in the blink of an eye. Ulla used her enhanced strength to push a group away from screaming citizens. Her blonde hair flowed behind her as she fought for her lover’s adopted homeland.
King Vulko ordered out the troops and worried. “They entered through a passage known only to a trusted few,” he fretted, “Arthur, Garth, Mera, and myself.” Nearby, Mera watched with concern as they viewed the battle.
Garth rallied the troops, who had in fact been trained by Aquaman personally. They fought well once the initial surprise wore off.
Hours later, a battle-weary Garth and Ulla embraced as the remnants of the army led by the barbarian Amuta fled in defeat.
“We lost several good people, but we drove them out of the city!” cried Vulko. “The reason for the attack was senseless. They just sought death and destruction for no reason.”
Mera patted his arm. “They fought like madmen. Truly, I feared for our home in Arthur’s absence.”
Vulko frowned and said, “How did they even know he was away? They not only found a way into the city known only to a handful of us, but they picked a time in which our champion and our mage were both away!”
“Could there be a spy among the guards?” asked Ulla.
Garth held her and said, “That’s the only possible answer! Someone was paid off by the savages!”
Vulko kept his thoughts to himself. No one outside of the former royal family and myself knew of the passage, he mused. I must confer with Arthur!
At that moment, a terrible explosion shook them out their feet. The Mermaid flew upward over a cloud of smoke to see a figure posed on a tower balcony above. He stood by a weird device unlike any Atlantean technology Ulla had seen before. However, the pretty girl knew the man all too well from her career as a member of the Global Guardians.
“Garth, it’s the Ocean Master!” she shouted.
“Figures that water rat would show up when trouble’s brewing!” said Aqualad. “He’s the one who put those warriors up to the attack, or so I’d bet!”
Vulko gasped. “Not him! Not now!”
Mera drew closer to the old man. “Vulko, drink something. You’re going to make yourself ill.” She handed him a goblet, and he drank the cooling liquid.
“Thank you, my dear,” he said.
Ocean Master smirked from above. “Hold it, waterboy. You and your Nordic pin-up girl can just hang loose, as you young punks say! This is a family affair in more ways than one!” he gloated.
At that moment, he touched the device. “I used the ‘seaweed-brains’ to distract you and gave the Fisherman a little toy to occupy my dear brother at his other little home away from home,” he explained. “I’m sure he triumphed over the idiot and will arrive here to play hero any second!”
Ulla flew toward him and said, “We can stop you ourselves!”
Ocean Master laughed. “Really? You’ll have a hard time doing that, legs!”
The Mermaid moaned as she began to choke and fell hard into Garth’s arms. “She can’t breathe!” cried Aqualad as he rubbed her throat, and she began to gasp.
“She’ll live, as will all of you rejects from Artie’s world,” said Ocean Master. “You’ll live to see me take over as the true king of the seas!”
Ulla said weakly, “I’m OK. Just could not breathe for a minute. Something blocked my throat!” Garth bided his time. He knew a rash heroic act would not help against this crafty foe.
“That’s a good little kid sidekick,” Ocean Master said as Garth held his love. “Just tend to legs, there. Wait for the big man to show, and we’ll settle old family business!”
At that moment, Aquaman and Dolphin materialized in the Aquacave via the teleporter. “This is wonderful!” he announced, still unaware of events in Atlantis. “Back near home in record time.”
Dolphin nodded and said, “Aquaman, look — that computer indicates trouble in the city! A huge energy buildup!”
He frowned and gently elbowed her aside. “Let me see,” he said. “Suffering Shad! You’re right! It’s coming from the city toward Tritonis!” he said grimly.
Swimming at top speed toward his home, Aquaman slipped easily inside as guards waved him by. “Aquaman! He’ll save us! The king’s champion has arrived!” they whispered. He heard their comments and hoped to deserve their respect.
Dolphin kept up with him and frowned. That blast was so strong, she thought. It had to have had a devastating effect on the people of Tritonis!
The platinum blonde beauty was right. In that sister city to Poseidonis, the residents were mermen and mermaids. One notable native, Lori Lemaris, had been a love of Superman’s and had met a tragic death during the Crisis. Another native named Jerro, who had shared a romantic attachment to the Kryptonian’s late cousin Supergirl, worried as he struggled to pull some injured citizens clear of wreckage. The city-state of Tritonis had been almost completely destroyed by shadow demons during the Crisis, and although rebuilding began quickly in the months following, it still lacked a protective dome and was thus vulnerable to attack. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Final Crisis,” Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (March, 1986).]
“Hold on! I’m coming!” cried Jerro. He had grieved for his past love and now wondered if the city would ever find peace — peace from attacks from above or even from other former cities of lost Atlantis.
“Jerro, that blast of destructive energy came from Poseidonis!” said a comely blonde named Hanna. “Why would King Vulko attack us?”
“I don’t know, but I fear the worst,” said Jerro. “He’s either mad, or someone else holds the throne. Rumors claim noble Arion himself has returned. Maybe he alone can save us!”
A handsome man with long, black hair glowered past the youth. “Bah! Be it madness or be it malice, I, Iquila, will avenge our losses!” he vowed as he raised a gleaming sword.
In the city of Poseidonis, the Ocean Master gloated to his listeners. “I just blew up Tritonis. Guess that means big brother’s going to have his work cut out for him. I have no doubt he’s on his way here to play hero once more. But I’m taking all he owns and making myself the king of the seas. And to think Dad thought I’d never amount to anything!” He chuckled loudly.
King Vulko had begun to grow pale. “Mera, he’s going to destroy the whole city if Aquaman doesn’t arrive soon!” Then the portly king gasped and sank to his knees.
“Vulko!” cried Ulla, only to collapse to her knees as she gasped painfully for her breath.
“He’s been attacked — like Ulla!” cried Mera.
“Look, there’s my sibling now!” crowed Ocean Master. “How’s New Venice, dear brother?”
“Curse you, Orm!” cried Aquaman. “Not you, not here — you always turn up to cause me misery! You know very well what occurred in New Venice. You equipped the Fisherman to keep me busy while you brought in your savages. He failed, and you will, too!”
Mera grabbed her mate’s hand and kissed him. “My love, be careful. He has some weapon.”
Ocean Master grinned and said, “Oh, this little thing? I salvaged it from within the city. Seems you jerks didn’t even know you were sitting on this baby. It’s a real Martian death-ray, like in the comics we read as boys back at the lighthouse. Your old green goomer pal from the hero club battled one of his people for it and thought it destroyed by the ocean depths. Wrong! It works, and with it I’ll be taking everything you love. In fact, I’ve already had my way in ways you’ll never imagine.”
“Shut up!” cried Aquaman. “Orm, I’ve made a life’s work out of apologizing for your evil. You have become a bad Smothers Brothers routine. ‘Dad liked me best,’ and all that. Maybe he did, but that pain is not an excuse for your crimes. You are not going to find me looking for any explanation for your actions except pure evil from now on!”
The Ocean Master sneered at his brother. “You mentioned Manta? Black Manta irks me. He should never have killed my nephew. I’d never wage war on a child. I’ll tell you what, Art. I’ll avenge little Artie, since you weren’t man enough to do it!”
Dolphin had slipped behind the Ocean Master, and now the platinum beauty drew closer and mused, That ornate helmet may be fancy, but it has to be bad for his side vision! Before the aquatic angel could reach her foe, she stiffened in pain. Her ears, mouth, and nose had become obstructed with some solid matter, and she collapsed at his feet.
Ocean Master turned and kissed her prone form. “Artie, I have to say you do attract some fine ladies! But don’t let me stop you from pleading for me to… what? — cease my madness since we’re brothers? Won’t work. It never has!”
Aquaman shoved him away from Dolphin. “No pleading. I’m sick of trying to reach you. You hurt people all to get to me. You are a criminal. You are not my brother!” he shouted and exploded in fury as he pounded his twisted sibling again and again.
Ocean Master reeled backward. This was not what he had expected. Why doesn’t she help me? he mused. She shut down the babes when they attacked me! He staggered and rose again. “Armor… has link to weapon! Remote-control death!” he gasped as he activated the alien weapon.
Aquaman whirled and saw the device glow. Suddenly, Mera’s hard water surrounded it in a tight sphere and hurled it skyward beyond the city, along with Ocean Master.
There was a glow, an explosion, and then silence.
No trace of the alien weapon or of Ocean Master remained as Mera flung herself into Aquaman’s arms. “Arthur! I thought he was going to kill you,” she wept. “I could not stand to lose you! I just reacted. I didn’t mean to send Orm along with the weapon!”
Aquaman soothed her and ran his hand through her hair. “You saved the city from damage. The Ocean Master brought it on himself. My brother Orm died years ago, anyway,” he said as he kissed her.
Ulla helped Dolphin to slowly rise. “He got us both with some weapon from his armor. I’m glad you are OK,” said the Mermaid as she lifted Dolphin to her feet.
Dolphin nodded. “Somehow he smothered me.”
“Aquaman, Vulko’s in a coma,” said Garth. “He must have hurt him more than he hurt the girls.”
Aquaman bent over his old friend. “Vulko, hold on! The medics are coming! Curse you, Orm!”
Mera watched as they departed to care for the injured old man. She gripped Dolphin’s wrist as she passed. “You stay away from my husband,” she hissed viciously. “You may be Arion’s daughter, Lady Mara, but to me you’re just a tramp. I saw how you flirted with him! Arion is not revered by me. I come from another dimension. Atlantis needs no heroes but Arthur. Keep your nubile little body away from us!”
Dolphin pulled free of her grip, seeing how the former queen’s eyes gleamed with jealous fury. “Mera, please! He’s older than I am, and just a friend!” she said.
“Keep away, or I’ll kill you!” she hissed.
Later, in her bedroom, Mera combed out her long red hair and gazed at her reflection in her mirror.
That foolish Orm thought us allies merely because I told him how to lead his troops into our city and spent a few nights with him, she thought. I would never join him. Arthur is the only man for me. With Vulko silenced, my part in the little drama will never surface, and my hard-water creations in the bodies of those girls stopped them once. If they dare to tempt you from me, I shall end their miserable lives.
She rested her chin on her linked hands and said, “Truly, it is so good to be queen!”