I felt the spill happen as if in slow motion, and I reeled from the sensation. Dion’s arms wrapped around me as I fell against him.
“Amphitrite, what is wrong?” he asked, worried.
I turned to look at him. Calix and Rommel were just behind Dionysos as we had been saying our goodbyes. “There has been an oil spill off the Californian shore. I need to get back to Nymphaeum and see what I can do to help.”
Dion simply nodded and made his way to steerage. Rommel pulled me into an embrace, and I hugged him back tightly. “Do you want me to convey your decision to Poseidon, my lady?” he asked softly as he let go.
“No, I’ll speak with him as soon as I can. But I am sorry.” I held his hands tight in mine.
“For what?” Rommel looked at me curiously, and I smiled softly at him.
“I appointed you my counsel. But if I am no longer on the throne, you will no longer be in that position.”
Rommel just laughed, and I felt relief flood me. “Don’t worry about that. I was perfectly fine before your appointment. I’ll be alright after it. In fact, I may not stay in Atlantis after you’ve stepped down.”
“Oh?” I raised my eyebrow and looked at him.
He nodded and smiled. “I wasn’t an Atlantean mer to begin with. Before my self-exile to Korinth, I lived here, in your father’s courts. I would like to return if you’d have me.”
It was my turn to laugh, and the other two joined me. “I don’t think that’s my decision. This is still my father’s house. Should Nereus choose to bring you back, then I’d be glad to have you here. Calix, what do you think?”
I looked over at the captain and saw an odd look on his face. “Rommel may stay as long as he behaves.” Rommel smirked lightly and stepped back. “May I have a quick word, my lady?”
I stepped off to the side with Calix, and he turned to face me. “I hope to see you soon, but just in case I do not, I want to tell you how proud I am of you. The seas have been better since your return.” I scoffed and he shook his head before continuing. “It’s true. Regardless of the oil spill off of California and the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the seas have grown healthier. The Aegean is teeming with new life and growth. Part of that is you, and part is your father.”.
I smiled warmly at him, the sincerity in his voice touching me deeply.
Calix placed his silver spear in my hand. “Take it, please. I know you are not without your powers, but you spend too much time on land, away from the sea. You need some form of defence. Have someone train you. Perhaps Ares or Dionysos, but please. With your trip to the Underworld, and meeting Cressida, you are attracting attention to yourself. Please, be safe.”
I took the spear from him and nodded. “I will, Calix. Trust that I will, and I have no one better to watch my back than Nisos,” I replied softly.
“How you two fell in love, I’ll never know, but I am happy for you. I truly am. Now go, you need to get to California as soon as possible.” Calix practically pushed me towards steerage and chuckled.
“Yes, sir.” I laughed as the two men exited the sub and shifted back into their merman forms. Once the hatch was sealed, I made my way back to Dion and wrapped my arms around his waist, placing my head on his shoulder. “Home, Dion. Straight to Nymphaeum, please.”
“You know you could take the fast way, the wet way, if you wanted, Pheephee. The Minnowan and I can meet you there in a day or so,” he mumbled while resting his lips on top of my head.
“I know, and it is killing me not to. But if you get closer to the surface, I can send Mathieu a message letting him know to begin work on cleanup and assist the authorities.” Part of me was also itching to get back to the GC to see Aphie. To tell her everything she’d missed. We began the climb back to the surface of the Aegean Sea, and my phone began going off as soon as I was in satellite range.
Texts one through fifty were from Mathieu and Alessa, wondering about the oil spill. Over the last year, the two of them had grown closer and had begun dating a couple of months prior. Text fifty-one was from Aphie, although how she got my number was unknown to me.
Aphrodite: Hey, Amph. I made it back to the GC. I miss you. Forgive me? Over coffee and sweets?
That foolish, lovable idiot, of course, I forgave her. What was there to forgive? I would have to tell her that as soon as possible. I sent a reply with a smile, teasing the Goddess of Love.
Me: If the snacks are on you, I suppose I could forgive you. I’m glad you’re back. We have so much to talk about.
I left it at that, saved the number, and put the phone away.
I leaned up, kissed Dion’s cheek, and whispered, “I love you. Don’t ever forget that.”
The look of happiness that spread across his face made me blush. “I know, Pheephee. I have known since the first time I realized it.” Before my brain even started to try to make sense of Dion’s reply, he leaned in and kissed me with such fervor that I couldn’t make sense of my own name. Just as suddenly, he pulled away from the kiss and rested his forehead against mine, something we had done countless times already. He smiled and asked, “Shall we make for the waves of California or make our own here?”
My blush deepened, and I nuzzled against him, drawing strength from his touch. Then I let out a bittersweet sigh. It was half-born from the feelings Dion stirred in me and half from the sadness at yet another blow against the gentle seas by the greedy hand of man. “I don’t want to sink the sub, Nisos. Let’s get home and get this spill taken care of. I can’t think straight right now, between Aphie’s text and the Pacific Ocean.”
“What did she say?” he asked calmly.
“She wanted my forgiveness. Although I’m not sure what I should be forgiving her for. She wants to catch up over coffee and sweets.” Dion nodded, and I sat down in the chair beside him. “I’ll be there, naturally. But with this spill and everything else, I feel drained.”
“I know, love. That is why I am glad you decided to make the trip on board with me. I have the feeling that you will overexert yourself. So you can rest now and conserve your strength for the task at hand. And as far as Aphrodite being back…” he let the comment linger in the air, and I felt that wondrous tingle of desire flitter through my body. Even after a year together, it still felt new. I stopped believing in destiny a long time ago, but with Nisos, I could almost believe in it again.
“Alright, God of Revelry, make this boat go as fast as possible without tearing us asunder so that we can continue our party on dry land.” Dion chuckled merrily. Soon enough, the crew had steered us effortlessly out of the Aegean and towards the Panama Canal for our transit to the Pacific.
Two days later, the SS Minnowan anchored five miles off the Monterey Bay, and I whisked Nisos and me back to Nymphaeum. “Alright, Mathieu, break it down for me quickly.”
“Roughly three-thousand barrels worth of oil breached from the pipeline, approximately five miles off the shore of Huntington Beach. Officials have already begun comparing it to Exxon Valdez and BP Horizon. We have had dead sea life washing up on our beaches since the second. We closed our beaches according to public health guidelines, donated relief funds to local charities in the area. Clean up efforts have already started and we are organizing crews locally to help. Many of our guests have volunteered to help save the wildlife, and we have turned the grand ballroom into a sort of triage center and MASH unit,” Mathieu replied briskly.
I nodded sadly and made my way into my resort. It was the home I created from the ground up, with help, of course, but it was mine. This was my palace, my fortress, my queendom. Yes, Mathieu was my general manager. Yes, he ran the day-to-day operations, but when my feet hit the ground, everyone knew it. Dion’s hand slid into mine, and I calmed for a moment. A sense of battle readiness, I had not felt in eons, had crept into my body.
“Pheephee, breathe. It will do no one any good if you lose your cool now,” he whispered. A gentle nudge that not only were the people in Nymphaeum worried but also the sea life who were clinging to life.
His words rang true. I felt the anger and tension clinging to me like the chemicals that were threatening the balance of these waters wash off me with a deep breath. I leaned into Dion and whispered back, “You’re right, my Nisos, as always.” After I took a moment to calm myself, I turned back to Mathieu. “Deploy the oil barricades. I do not want the spill spreading. I realize that the government has already done this, but mine are special. I will head out and do what I can at sea.”
Mathieu nodded and ran off. I looked around me, finally taking in the scene of my ballroom. The room I held my grand opening gala in barely a year prior was a disaster. There were massive tanks filled with seawater scattered throughout the room to accommodate the lives that needed saving. My heart went out to them. I walked through slowly, taking the time to speak with each creature, to assure them I was doing everything I could to help them and protect their homes. One of the otters from the Monterey pod, the ones who reported to Nereus the year before prior to the gala, was in a tank near the windows. Her chirping made me cry, and I crawled into the tank to hold her, gently wiping the oil from her fur as best I could. “Never again, little one. I will not let this stand again.” The little otter merely curled into me and sighed. I could feel her apprehension. I knew I was making a promise I could not keep. But by the gods, I would teach humanity what it was to destroy the oceans.
After a few minutes of comforting the otter, I got out of the tank and finished checking on the rest of the sea life. Most were covered in oil. Some had injuries from not being able to see properly. Others could not breathe for the damage to their lungs. Those I helped first, those I had to save. I could feel my rage building again as I strode out to the balcony overlooking the Pacific ocean. Dion was right beside me, his warm hand providing strength and comfort on my back. “Go, Amphitrite, do what you do. What was and always will be your calling. I will be here when you return.” I placed a soft kiss on his lips and dove off the edge, taking on my full goddess form when I entered the water.
I could smell the oil. I traced it back to its source and snarled violently at the gaping hole in the pipe. At least the pathetic mortals turned the gas off. It looked like there had been some welding done to fix the problem, but it was too little too late. I swam back to the surf and stood on the water in full divine form. I was in my element. There was enough saltwater in the oil that I could move it without issue. I raised my hands, pulling the oil into a whirlpool of black ink. When it was the maelstrom I wanted, I sent the oil skyward, scattering it to the winds. I would let those deities take it from there. I sent my will to the sky that it landed on the fat oil companies’ properties and let it be.
When I returned to normal size and touched down on the balcony, Nisos gave me a funny look. He must have been able to see everything from there. However, I took my phone out of my pocket and sent a quick DM to Eris. They were the only ones who may lling to help me in this, to help sate my rage with violence.
Me: Eris. You… me… typhoon season coming early. You in?
As I put my phone back in my pocket, a note flitted down in front of my face. The fast one never stopped to chat with me. I recognized the handwriting as someone I hadn’t seen in an age, and suddenly I was calm again.
Scones, you, me, this afternoon at the Spitaki Café.
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