Garth mourned his lost love and wondered if his place was with the fragmented New Teen Titans, which had recently decided to drop the Teen from its name. Might I even lead the team? he wondered. I need something to challenge me. Aquaman and Mera are at war with each other, and the pain that drives them is growing stronger ever minute. I can’t watch them blow up like this.
Curry gazed at his woman. She was his woman. According to Atlantean law, as ruler he could claim his mate or mates. Mera could be one of a harem, but he deferred to her. She had been his partner and lover. Had the tragic death of Arthur, Junior, at Black Manta’s hands many years ago now so embittered their love? He was angry and hurt, and he could only act. Action would keep him sane. “This is it. The second arch or gateway was once here… where ruins now stand,” he began.
“Uh, Aquaman, those sure aren’t ruins anymore!” said Garth, looking at the scene before them. Huge towers rose from the sea as a gleaming city occupied the once-empty oceanscape.
“By Triton, that is new!” said Curry. “That was not here last time I swam these waters. Those ruins are not from Atlantis.”
“I sense evil,” said Aaron. “I feel this place is not of this realm… not even of this dimension.”
How does a guy like that know about dimensional travel? wondered Garth.
Mera sat up, showing alarm for the first time. She clutched Curry’s arm, and he enjoyed the sensation.
After a quick conversation with the passing aquatic life, Curry announced, “The sea life is scared. They say this city appeared here all at once, days ago.”
“Let us leave!” said Mera.
“No! I need the gemstone within that tower,” said Aaron. “It was found and taken inside by whoever brought that tower here from the other realms.”
“OK, Garth, stay here with Mera,” said Curry. “Aaron and I shall check out this place. Be it demon abode or celestial palace, we’ll brave its doors or die trying.”
They hurried off, and Garth turned to Mera. “Can’t you forgive him?” he pleaded at her feet. “He is suffering so. I know he loves you desperately. This whole series of events has nearly broken him. He is hard, and it is from pain, not from any lack of sensitivity.”
She turned and said, “Boy, you are his foundling, not mine. I would as soon have cast you back to the outcast life your purple eyes earned you.”
Garth winced and swam off. Got to get out, or I swear I’ll strike that witch! he thought. Tula, how did our world change so fast? How do I live without your wit, humor, and love? Even when Roy, Donna, and I re-teamed to handle Doctor Light recently, I couldn’t stop thinking about you! (*) He groaned; his lost love haunted him still, but he was young and had much to live for yet.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The New Titans: Fragments.]
Aqualad entered the towers and crossed a hallway full of ornate paintings of weird scenes, and he was sure he had seen something like these seascapes in a nightmare. Hearing a scream ring out, he broke through a doorway to see a warlord hovering over a woman. “Leave her alone!” he declared.
The alien being was pink and red and did indeed look otherworldly. “Make me, guppy,” he said.
Aqualad ducked his chain-mailed fist and caught the arm in midswing. Like Dick taught me, he thought as he twisted and flipped the alien over his shoulder.
A swift kick to the throat left it stunned on the floor. He turned to look upon the alien’s prisoner and gasped in shock. “You?!”
Elsewhere, Curry and Aaron ran around a corner.
“Curry, your mate is not what she appears to be; she is evil,” began Aaron.
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear it!” commanded Curry. “I love her, even if she has turned bitter.”
An enormous alien being appeared before them with an army of guards at his bulbous sides. “Ha-ha-ha! It is my old foe returned to die at the hands of warlord Galg the Destroyer!” said the huge, fleshy creature. His size filled the hallway as his men lurked in front or behind his massive, rolling, fat form.
“Galg, you otherworldly fiend! I’ll shred the flesh from your decayed mass and make sure you stay dead this time!” ordered a grim and dangerously quiet Curry. He rushed forward toward the monstrous creature. “You ruled a microverse when we last met,” said Curry coldly. (*) “I assume that explains how the place suddenly appeared over an Atlantean ruin. You enlarged the base of your microscopic subsea kingdom.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Galg the Destroyer,” The Brave and the Bold #73 (August-September, 1967).]
Galg rumbled deep within his bulbous stomach. “True! I enlarged the tower and entered your realm from the microverse dimension beneath the ocean,” he laughed. “And I am not going back, either. It’s the big time for me, as your kind say.”
Aaron drew his sword, only to be attacked by the pink-hued alien guards. “By Deedra’s Chain — come on, fiends, and face the power of the scion of the Golden Gate!” he cried. He swung the blade with rare skill and drove back the much larger creatures with his sheer courage.
Curry took the moment to send out a mental command, and serpentine creatures curled around Galg’s form came to obey their true king. They wrapped around Galg long enough for Curry to tackle him and pound him senseless. “This ends here!” he growled. “I’ve seen enough pain and death. I won’t allow your kind of filth to sully the oceans of this world as you have your own.”
Galg screamed and saw his guards fall to the sword of Aaron, while Curry fought with a new fierce brutality. “I surrender! Take your human friends and leave me. I shall return to my own realm!” he babbled.
“Look — there upon his throne hangs the crystal we sought!” said Aaron. “It is of a kind to the one I carry.”
Curry nodded. “If a hunch I have is correct, then we need to get those crystals together as soon as possible. Hope Garth and Mera are OK back at the ship.”
He grabbed it and turned to hand it off to Aaron, who smiled and fitted it into the one he carried. They formed half of an odd, starlike emblem. Aaron smiled again in recognition.
Elsewhere in Galg’s tower, Aqualad gazed down upon a captive young woman he recognized but hadn’t expected to see. Her hair was much longer than it had been when he had last met her. The young girl’s golden locks were now thick and luxurious, as they cascaded down her now-mature body. She was beautiful, like a fantasy creature come to stunning life. Her features were vibrant, youthful, and had a purity that touched Garth’s heart. She wore a pink seashell bra and pink short skirt. Her legs were long, bare, and human. This last feature was not always the case, since this Atlantean-born resident of Denmark could turn her lower limbs into a mermaid tail and fly when she so desired. Her name was Ulla Påske — the Global Guardian known as the Little Mermaid.
“Garth! Thank goodness!” she cried. “That monster caught me and has been doing terrible experiments upon me. That’s why I can now live underwater as long as I want. Free me, please!”
He tore down her chains and carried the crying woman out of the cell. Garth and Ulla rushed down and into the main throne room as guards chased after them.
“Good to see you are as reckless as ever… and as loyal,” said Curry.
Garth grinned and kicked a guard in the face. Ulla flew up and dropped a guard into his friends, laughing with her old impishness. Her long, blonde locks flowed in the undersea wind, and she was magnificent to watch.
“Little Mermaid? Well met!” said Curry as he watched the blonde beauty fly directly through a squad of guards and send them rolling aside.
“Aquaman? You’ve changed!” she said, regarding his scruffy appearance and beard.
Curry glanced at the woman’s curves and new power and said, “I’m not the only one!”
Aaron gestured, and energy flashed across the arena at his command. It sent another guard squadron cowering before his flashing magic. I’m right about his identity, mused Curry.
Ulla pulled Garth near. “Thank you so much for rescuing me.” She kissed him on the cheek, and he liked the sensation very much.
Curry noticed them and thought, Perhaps in time she’ll make the guppy forget poor Tula.
Galg whined. “That magical fire — it disrupts the integrity of the enlargement machine! We’ll be returned to the microverse!”
The structure began to flicker away around them in response to the magical power unleashed. They rushed out as Galg the Destroyer and his dreams of empire shrank to microscopic size, leaving the ruins of old Atlantis exposed anew. The tower blinked out of sight as they all crowded into the vessel.
Mera lounged lanquidly across a divan. “Oh, we have company,” she sneered.
Garth and Ulla whispered together in the back of the craft.
“So you have parents in Atlantis still, as well as adopted ones in Denmark?” he asked. “I find it interesting that you adapted to life above so well. I mean, you’re the national heroine of Denmark, chosen to represent your home in the Global Guardians! That speaks volumes about how well-loved you are by the Danes.”
Ulla gazed into his intense purple eyes and said, “Well, I never knew life beneath the waves for an extended period of time… until Galg’s experiments altered me, increasing my powers and making the duration I can live above or below water limitless. I guess I owe that thing thanks, but if you had not freed me, I think he intended me for his harem.”
Garth kissed her. “I don’t blame him.” Ulla smiled and embraced him back.
Mera combed her hair and watched as Aaron stared back at her. “I do know you… from the past,” he whispered.
“One final chart reading, directly below,” said Curry. “It should finish the crystal and restore your memories.”
In minutes, they had located the final crystal.
“Arion!” The name rang out from Aaron’s lips with joy and awareness as he fitted the final crystal together. No one had come forth this time to oppose him.
“I am Arion, Lord High Mage of Atlantis!” he said with a newly found regal power. “You have restored me to myself after foul magic gone astray banished me from my era and clouded my mind!”
Curry smiled grimly. “I suspected as much. You are the hero my people have celebrated for eons. You are the greatest legend we have in Atlantis — a hero who wrought wonders and saved Atlantis from dark magic again and again, especially from…”
A magical blast then surged through him, and he was driven to the ocean’s floor.
“From his brother! From Garn Daanuth!” said Mera as her eyes widened in evil glee. “From the spirit that now wears this comely body!”
“Great Atlantis! This explains Mera’s changed ways — her hate, her venom!” breathed Curry.
Arion stepped forward. “My brother! I knew your stench within that mate of Curry’s. Release her and duel with me anew! I shall defeat you for good this time, so swears Arion, prince of magicians!” Garth held Ulla near as the ancient foes faced one another.
Curry stood firm, even as fiery rays bathed his body in pain. “Mera, I love you! Fight this fiend!”
Mera laughed and generated a blast of solid water that tore toward Arion. Garth leaped forward to be slammed down by her second fist. “Boy, you are not worth my time. Let me slay your master, and you may flee with your plaything,” said Garn Daanuth in Mera’s voice.
Arion summoned forth a powerful crystal in the pattern of the jewels that had restored his mind. “Garn, you drove me to the extreme of using magic untried to secure my life and heir,” he said as he waved Curry aside. “It brought me here, but so protected me that even I lost memory of the fact that I was Arion. It hid me from myself as well as from you!”
“She is my wife — don’t harm her, even if you are the legend I revere so much!” said Curry. “I won’t lose another loved one!”
Arion frowned. “I seek to save her from the evil that has warped her thusly!”
“I was drawn through time to this era, as were you,” said Garn Daanuth, “but I retained my sense of self… and lost my body. (*) I claimed hers through the darkness her child’s death filled her with anon.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “All the Elements of Disaster,” Justice League of America #217 (August, 1983).]
Curry menaced him. “Leave her and take me as your host. I am stronger. I am the heir to Atlantis. You would control the true power of the ocean world, not merely his mate!”
Mera smiled and said, “Indeed, such sacrifice! Yet I read you truly. You are willing to give up your life, your soul to free this woman. So be it!” Energies flashed as the spirit of Garn Daanuth left a limp Mera to fall to the ground while the colored energy surged over Curry’s body. Then Arion shoved the crystal between the energy and Curry.
“No!” screamed Garn as he was imprisoned within his brother’s sacred emblem.
“Yes. You read my thoughts perfectly, Arthur,” said Arion. “Know that I am pleased with you. My brother’s evil is now contained, and I will deal with him later. How fares Mera?”
As Curry held his sobbing wife close, Mera cried, “Oh, Arthur, forgive me! It was that thing using my lips, my body… I love you!”
Unable to reply at first, he simply smiled as tears filled his eyes. “Mera, I’ve found you, and I won’t lose you ever again!”
A beaming Aquaman held his wife and said, “Arion, I cannot thank you enough for this! You made me myself again — you and Garth.”
“You can return the favor,” said Arion. “Aid me in finding my own lost child! My infant daughter was also transported through time when the spell went wrong. She could have ended up here, or even a few decades past, or possibly yet to come! The magic would have adapted her to ensure her survival, but naught else can I say.”
Aquaman said, “I’ll clean up a bit, and we’ll find her.”
Mera clung to him happily as Arion said, “Milady, I sense that you carry within you a new life yet aborning — a strong and healthy daughter free of any taint of my brother’s magic.”
She wept as her husband rejoiced at the news.
“Not long after that, Arthur became busy with JLA cases,” said Captain Comet as he concluded his story in the present. “Yet he and Arion were both intrigued when I reminded him of you.”
Dolphin gaped. “You mean you think I was the babe transported through time to grow up in our era? I am the lost daughter of this Arion of Atlantis?”
“‘Tis true!” said a rich, musical voice. “My child, I know you now — you are my one, true daughter! Your aquatic gifts came to preserve you in the much-altered Atlantis and its environs of this era!” Arion and Aquaman entered the room.
Dolphin gasped at the handsome, regal heroic figure before her. “Can this be?” she said slowly.
A magical glyph flashed into view as Arion touched her hand. “See? ‘Tis the symbol of the House of Arion! Our touch produced it as a heralding that you are mine,” he said tenderly. “Daughter, I’ve searched through time and even ventured to another world entire to find you and look upon your beautiful face once more.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Times Past, 1977: The Man from Atlantis.]
She fell into his arms. “We have much to talk over!” she said happily.
Captain Comet smiled broadly as he shook hands with Aquaman. “I understand you are a father-to-be,” he said.
“Sounds like Mera is too proud to keep secrets,” said Arthur Curry. “That’s one reason I’ve scaled back some of my JLA work. I intend to be here for our daughter. She will not suffer like my son did,” he said grimly.
Captain Comet said, “I’m sure the princess of Atlantis will be very happy.”