Excerpt from "Vials of Aquilonia" wip unedited.
The ship rocked with the force of the wind and the waves. The eight original crew members were at their stations. The new men had all been assigned and were attending to their jobs. Jarvis was strapped in at the helm monitoring the storm. Carus paced the deck.
“Would you calm down?” Jarvis asked for the seventh time.
“I should be with her,” Carus said, pacing.
“I thought she was nothing to you.”
“Logically I believe that. My emotions are all tied in knots. I don’t even know what 'go to water' means, yet I feel I need to be with her.”
Jarvis unstrapped with one hand. He pushed up from the chair. Catching himself as the boat rolled he managed to walk to Carus.
“I don’t know the whole of it, but going to water means bad weather. Some how the mers cause it. I warned you about Jaden. With the plague and the vials and the change in you, you may be liked to her somehow.”
“Hell, I don’t know what is or is not anymore,” Carus said. “What is the weather doing?”
Jarvis moved back to the monitor. “Getting worse. I recommend that we dive below and wait it out.” Jarvis stumbled as the ship shuddered. He sat down and strapped in. “Carus, you have had a hell of a week. Why don’t you go below and rest. You sure as hell aren’t helping up here, Captain.”
Carus grinned lopsidedly at his captain. “Yeah, I guess I am in need of a nap. That and a drink. Damn, these things feel strange.” Carus touched the back of his ears. “Jarvis, take her down to 500 feet. See if we are below the weather at that depth. I will be in my cabin. If we need to go lower, use your discretion. Call me if anything comes up. Mister Jarvis, you have the helm.”
Carus slapped Jarvis on the back. Jarvis grinned back and nodded.
Carus poured himself a tall glass of brandy. He felt the vibrations of the ship as it transformed from sailing ship into underwater ship. The masts retracted. The fo’c’sle and the figurehead disappeared as the hologram was turned off. Mechanisms hummed creating a soothing vibration in the floor and his cot. Carus sank into the captain’s chair and put his feet on the desk. His boots thunked against the wood.
Many a night he slept in his cot being lulled to sleep with the ship vibrating beneath him. The hum of the engines was all for show sake. True shifting from sailing ship to space craft to submarine vessel took actual mechanisms. The engines themselves were of the highest tech. There was no vibration, no sound, no feeling of movement at all. Gyros kept the ships flooring constantly stable. However, studies found that humans needed to feel movement to keep their bearings.
So Carus felt vibration. He felt the ship begin its descent into the water.
The brandy in the glass was real, not the synthetic kind. Jarvis stocked his ship with only the best. Even though Carus was officially captain now he still considered Jarvis the real captain. He felt guilty sitting in the captain’s cabin while Jarvis manned the helm. Jarvis insisted.
Carus closed his eyes. He sipped the brandy willing his body to relax.
He heard the sound inside his head at first. He thought it was simply his mind wandering. Sweet singing, a melody with a warning built inside. The tones haunted him. The music grew louder and louder. Carus sat up in the chair. The glass of brandy dropped from his hand and smashed to the floor. He put his hands to his temples to drive the sound out of his mind.
She was calling him.
Jaden was vaguely aware of Triscaler watching her from an overhang in the rocks nearby. She sat on a precipice her tail curled under her. She stretched out her arms her hands open to the sea.
Jaden called to the denizens of the underwater world. She warned them of her sorrow. She warned them she wanted the water to respond to her feelings. Every sea creature, sentient or not, swam for cover.
Jaden wanted every sea creature away from her and hiding, safe from the raging storms that would result from going to water.
She wanted one man to be with her. Her chosen one. Jaden could feel Carus responding to her call. If she let logic control her mind, Jaden knew she should not call Carus. He was not hers to have. He was joined with her only to save his life from the plague. He did not love her, nor did he want her. Carus resented what she did.
Logic did not control Jaden at this moment.
Sorrow, loneliness, loss, mourning, and hurt controlled Jaden.
She intended to release all of her hurtful emotions into the water. She wanted Carus to support her, to hold her.
Jaden felt a warm masculine chest press against her back. Strong hands moved her hair over her shoulder. Muscular arms touched her arms as fingers interlocked with hers. A long thick tail curled around her.
Carus has legs.
Jaden could lower her arms to push Triscaler away. If she did all the negative emotion would fester inside her. She would transform into a hideous sea hag. She would be condemned to forever be filled with negative evil emotions.
If Triscaler stayed he would override the joining between Jaden and Carus. She would be linked to Triscaler for the rest of her life. He would have his wish.
Carus would probably like that.
Jaden willed the water to swirl around her creating a water spout to the surface. She wanted to drive Triscaler off her. The center of the spout thrashed and pulled touching Jaden’s fingertips and pulled her hair into a whirlwind around her face.
Jaden felt Triscaler’s tail wrap tighter around her. His thick clumsy fingers curled over her fingers holding her in place.
“Carus, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” Jarvis shouted into the communications link to the shuttle bay. A light blinked on. The outside hatch opened.
“You have the ship. You are captain, always have been,” Carus responded. “I'm going after Jaden. She needs me.”
“Carus!” Jarvis slammed his one good hand into the control panel as the readout indicated there was one less person on board. The outside hatch closed.
Carus launched himself from the ship. The Odysseus was settled on a ledge about five hundred feet below the surface. It was a silver bullet in an agitated world of blue and green.
He could see tiny fish hiding among the branches of colorful coral trees. Larger fish sought shelter from Jaden’s storm in the caves that dotted the rock formations.
The call came from a plateau on the other side of the ridge. Not thinking of anything but Jaden’s call, Carus swam effortlessly through the storm stirred waters.
Reaching the ridge Carus realized why he didn’t have to struggle. The ridge acted as a breakwater. On the plateau in the middle of a tempest larger than Carus had ever seen sat Jaden. Her arms were outstretched. Behind her fighting to hang on Triscaler wrapped his tail around Jaden as he had when Carus saw them in the water before.
At that time Carus was concerned for Jaden’s well-being. If she and Tricaler had a thing going on so be it. That was Jaden’s concern not his.
Now was different. Carus wanted Triscaler away from his woman. He wanted the interloper destroyed. He was going to do the destroying.
Reaching the ridge Carus realized why he didn't have to struggle. The ridge acted as a breakwater. On the plateau in the middle of a tempest larger than Carus had ever seen sat Jaden. Her arms were outstretched. Behind her fighting to hang on Triscaler wrapped his tail around Jaden as he had when Carus saw them in the water before.
At that time Carus was concerned for Jaden's well-being. If she and Triscaler had a thing going on so be it. That was Jaden's concern not his.
Now was different. Carus wanted Triscaler away from his woman. He wanted the interloper destroyed. He was going to do the destroying.
Carus watched the whirling water from a distance. He gauged the speed of the stream swirling around Jaden. He checked for angle and what force he would need to break through. Carus took in all the information in a moment. He was a fighter and a strategist. These kind of decisions were second nature.
Pushing off from the rock ledge Carus streaked toward the surface. Kicking against the water Carus propelled faster and faster. He burst from the water. Storm tossed waves struck against an indifferent Carus. He immediately dove back into the water, his speed tremendous. Diving straight for the underwater spout Carus struck the whirling water. With his speed Carus sliced through the wall.
Using the trajectory he computed earlier Carus careened head first into Triscaler. The merman was ripped from around Jaden with the force of Carus’ first strike. Slamming against the wall of water, Triscaler swirled past Carus for a moment. Leveraging his tail against the wall he careened off it toward Carus. He burst forward grabbing his rival by the throat.
Carus struggled as he was lifted from the rock floor into the air by Triscaler. He was small compared the merman since Triscaler had a tail. He felt his air cut off. Gripping the merman’s arms Carus fought to get free. He shifted his legs to one side. Wrapping both his legs around Triscaler's body, Carus raised one arm and slammed it across Triscaler’s elbows. The maneuver freed Carus. Moving his legs through the water Carus rammed his feet into the merman’s stomach.
Triscaler recovered, reaching for him again. Carus grabbed his hands. Over and over they tumbled and fought. Each battling and holding the other at bay.
Carus butted his head into Triscaler’s chin. He could hear the merman’s jaw crack. Triscaler pushed Carus away from him. He separated himself curling his tail under him.
Carus watched as small balls of swirling water formed in Triscaler's hands. He crouched down waiting for the next attack. The balls stretched longer and longer until they joined. Taking one end of the the water stream Triscaler flicked it toward Carus.
Carus fell back as the water whip sliced into his cheek. Blood floated inside the circle made by Jaden's whirling water spout.
Triscaler drew back his arm for another strike.
Carus planted his feet on the rock.
Two can play at that game.
Pulling power from a place hidden deep within Carus balled the water between his hands. He rotated his hands around and around creating a cannon ball of water.
Triscaler slung the water whip back and flicked it forward.
Carus hurled the cannon ball at the merman.
Carus rolled to the ground as he released the watery orb. The whip cut thru the water mere inches from his chest. Triscaler flicked the whip again as the cannon ball sailed through the water. Guided by Carus’ thoughts the ball swerved away from the whip and returned to its target. The whip cut hit Carus on the thigh.
Carus yelled as the water cut to the bone. Blood colored the water.
Triscaler raised his arm for the kill. The cannon ball struck him full in the chest. It pushed him toward the outer rim of the water spout.
Whirling water slammed into Triscaler. The moving wall shoved him off his feet ramming him into a crevice in a boulder. The merman was wedged between the boulder and the fast moving water. The crevice held him. The water was crushing Triscaler.
Carus heaved himself from the rock. He would not let a worthy opponent die in this fashion. He swam to where Triscaler was trapped. There was no way he could pull the merman free. Pushing or ramming against Triscaler would only trap himself. The only way to free the merman would be to use the same power that created the cannon ball of water.
Carus focused his mind on the line of connection where the water touched Triscaler's chest. He concentrated on widening the line. Slowly, tiny bit by tiny bit the water backed away from Triscaler. As the pressure on his body was released the merman glared at Carus.
"I won't let you die this way no matter how you feel about me,” Carus said into the water. His words did not go further than a few inches from his mouth. He continued to widen the gap between his rival and the wall of water Jaden was creating. The whirling water continued to encircle them. Carus caused a detour, a bend in the water tube. He didn't stop it. He couldn't stop it.
When the edge of the water was a few inches from Triscaler’s chest, the merman pulled himself from indentation. He mouthed words Carus did not understand. Pushing away Triscaler swam away, defeated.
Carus sank to the hard rock. He watched as the merman disappeared into the shadows.
Carus turned to look at Jaden. He watched for a few seconds taking in the wonder of the woman he saw. Beautiful, strong, alluring and dangerous. He was drawn to her. His body wanted her, but more than that his every existence seemed wrapped up in her.
He took a deep breath through his gills.
Carus pushed himself off to a standing position. The whirling water cut a wall around him. If he stuck a hand into the vortex he would be thrown into the cliffs like Triscaler. Carus looked around. Boulders loosened by the storm tumbled down the mountainside. The waterspout created by Jaden kept the avalanche from falling on her.
“Thank the Spirits,” Carus whispered into the water. His gills flared as he stood drawing much needed oxygen into his abused body. Staggering as though drunk Carus pushed through the enlarged eye of the storm toward Jaden.
Following instinct more than method Carus knelt behind the mermaid. He sat on his knees, his legs tucked under him. He put his arms around her waist and buried his face in the space between her neck and her shoulder. Breathing deeply through gills, Carus nuzzled close to Jaden resting from the struggle he had with Triscaler.
How strange it is to realize I can breathe in her scent underwater. Carus thought. This is where I belong.
“This is where you belong,” Jaden answered in Sea Speak. The words floated in the water. Carus did not understand them. Jaden repeated what she said. The words echoed in the water and in his mind at the same time.
The gold-green of Jaden’s hair danced around the two creating a frenzied cocoon as the whirlpool closed in on them. Strands of hair performed a ballet around the cut on Carus’ cheek and his chest. Soothing and healing Jaden’s hair touched each wound and each bruise.
Carus could feel his strength returning, his body being restored to health.
Stroking Jaden softly, Carus placed his strong hands first on the flat of her stomach. Moving slowly, savoring every moment, Carus cover her breasts. He thumbed the nipples until they were taut. Carus drew his hand away caressing the top of her chest dragging his fingers along her neck. Trailing his fingers he touched her arms. Smoothly he aligned his arms with hers.