Aquaman: Old Demons, New Hope, Chapter 3: Ancient Histories

by Libbylawrence

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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!” roared the huge, one-eyed, purple-fleshed monster who resembled a Great Old One from the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The creature’s monstrous size filled the huge hallway as his men lurked in front or behind his massive, rolling, large form and its tentacled starfish-like head.

“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 red-helmeted 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 his green-uniformed foes with 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 fierce new brutality. “I surrender!” babbled the creature. “Take your human friends and leave me. I shall return to my own realm!”

“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 okay 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 formerly short 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 and youthful, and she 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 whenever she so desired. Her name was Ulla PĂ„ske — 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 green-uniformed alien 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 one guard into a group of them, laughing with her old impishness as she did so. Her long, blonde locks flowed in the undersea current, 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 haggard, bearded appearance and his now-tattered underwater camouflage costume. He looked like he had aged drastically since she’d last seen him during the Crisis. He looked nothing like the heroic figure she’d once had a schoolgirl crush on a few years back. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Secret Origins: The Global Guardians: Times Past, 1982: Heroes of the World, Unite! Chapter 6: Waiter to the Super-Hero Set.]

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 alien guard squadron cowering before his flashing magic. I’m right about his identity, Curry assured himself.

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.

As the tower blinked out of sight, the adventurers all crowded into the vessel.

Mera lounged languidly across a divan as if waiting for them. “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 any extended periods 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.

Aaron watched as Mera combed her hair and glanced back at him. “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 local Zodiac Gate and beneath it 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!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Atlantis,” Warlord #55 (March, 1982).]

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!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Of Lovers and Demons and Sorcerous Things,” Warlord #59 (July, 1982).]

“Great Atlantis! This explains Mera’s changed ways — her hate, her venom!” breathed Curry.

Arion stepped forward. “My brother! I knew I recognized 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, Lord of Atlantis!” Garth held Ulla near as the ancient foes faced one another in battle.

Curry stood firm, even as fiery rays tore up what was left of his blue costume and 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 little 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 to this era, which I once visited anon and battled the demon Chaon alongside mighty Superman, a fact which I had forgotten until now. (*) But this time the voyage to the future so protected me that I even lost all memory of the fact that I was Arion. It hid me from myself as well as from you!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Partners in Time,” DC Comics Presents #75 (November, 1984).]

“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 only to save her from the evil that has warped her thusly!”

“You may have been drawn through time to this era without your memory,” said Garn Daanuth, “but I chose instead to sleep through the centuries and thus retained my sense of self… though alas I finally lost my aged body not long after I awoke in this era. (*) But even mortal death could not stop me! In spirit form I found a useful pawn in the so-called Sea King’s brother, ironically enough, and with the sorcerous powers I granted him, the Ocean Master could have dominated this world under my control, if not for the interference of that Silverhand witch. Orm Marius turned out to be such a disappointment in the end. That was why I turned my sights to this pretty little thing. While I could only influence Marius, I was able to fully claim her body thanks to the darkness that she had allowed to envelop her since her child’s death. Once in control I ensured that a bout of well-timed jealousy cut short any unfortunate association with Nuada Silverhand, lest she interfere once more with my plans. Though I must reveal that I’ve been influencing Artie’s emotions from afar in order to intensify his sheer misery for several months now!”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “All the Elements of Disaster,” Justice League of America #217 (August, 1983).]

The sickly grin that Garn Daanuth caused Mera to wear upon her face caused Curry to flinch as he realized how much this ancient evil had corrupted his family and manipulated him over these past few months. It needed to end — now.

“Leave her and take me as your host,” Curry demanded. “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 in an era yet to come! The magic would have adapted her to ensure her survival, but naught else can I say.”

Aquaman glanced down at his blue underwater camouflage costume, now ripped and torn to shreds, and rubbed one hand through his scruffy beard and long hair. “After I clean myself up a bit, I’ll help you find her, no matter how long it might take.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See The Forgotten Heroes: No Place Like Home.]

Arion smiled appreciatively, then turned to Mera. “Milady, I sense that you carry within you a new life yet aborning — a strong and healthy daughter of your own, free of any taint of my brother’s magic.”

It took a moment for the news to sink in, and then the pain of the last few months seemed to fall away. Mera clung to her husband happily and wept with gratitude as Aquaman rejoiced at the news. Aqualad soon hugged them both while Little Mermaid clapped joyfully close by. Hope had returned to their lives at last. And after so much inner turmoil, the man called Curry once more knew peace in his heart.

The End

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