The sky was grey and dotted with dark clouds, the wind growing fiercer before Chat's eyes. The masked pirate cursed before turning his attention to his ship.
“Crew! Get ready for some fucking rain!” He called, smirking slightly as the lads started running around, fetching heavier coats and finishing their chores. He beckoned to his first mate, who immediately started towards him, fiancée in tow.
“Yes, Captain?” Nino grinned, slinging an arm around Alya, his beau. “Need somethin'?”
Chat stared at the pair, debating whether Alya should stay around. He did call Nino, after all. Then again, Alya was an ex-journalist and would probably know what he'd told Nino within an hour.
“Keep a close look on the waters,” Chat offered stiffly, “there have been reports of a Mer, just near here.”
Nino looked at his friend and fiancée, wary. Alya just stared at her captain with unrestrained curiosity in her eyes.
“Is it dangerous?” She smiled widely, with her reporter face firmly on.
“We can't be sure of anything,” a frown twisted Chat's face, “that's why Nino will be keeping a lookout. We all know Mers are more active during storms.”
The pair nodded. They had heard the tales of the people gone missing, sailors finding the occasional chewed up hand or limb.
Alya kissed Nino’s cheek and ran off to tend to her pet. Foxes were a pain to keep on board, but at least it got on well enough with Plagg, the ships cat.
“Adrien.” Nino started.
“Don't call me that, Nino.” Chat glared at his oldest friend.
Nino backed down. “Fine. What do you actually want me to do? I know when you're not telling me everything.”
Adrien was often astounded by how astute his first mate was, since he did show his carefree attitude more than anything.
“My mother-" Adrien growled at the very thought, clawed gloves (apart if his powers, gifted by Bastet and other felines – to protect and attack) scraping against wood- “was killed by a Mer. Father told me a lot of details, and I hated it.”
“What are you saying we do, Adr – Captain?” Nino asked, tripping over Chat's title briefly.
“We're going to catch the Mer,” Adrien smirked, “Mers are territorial, so this should be the same one that killed my mother. An eye for an eye.”
Nino swallowed, nervous and fearful.“Kill a Mer? And the same one that killed her, that's impossible, c'mon let's just-"
“Do you think Mers can feel the pain of losing one of their own? Do you think they have families?” Adrien cut him off, “I hope they do. I hope I hurt at least one of them like they hurt me and my mother.”
Nino closed his eyes, feeling a throbbing in his temple start up. This was not going to end well. At all.
“C'mon, mate,” Nino pleaded, “this isn't a good plan.”
Adrien laughed and slapped Nino on the back.
“Buck up, Nino!” He laughed. “We're going to kill a Mer today!”
Marinette was yawning as she swam through a huge school of fish, idly reaching a hand out to pet one of the larger ones. She picked up some kelp as she twirled through a forest, stopping as a bright and shiny object caught her attention.
She cooed over the golden vase, making herself a mental reminder to stop by and get some plants for her maman.
She spotted some eggs (cod maybe? She was too tired to really care) and swooped to pick them up, laughing at the fish that tried to stop her.
She looked at her acquired objects critically, deciding that she had everything she went out after.
“Tikki!” Marinette called out, smiling brightly as the gorgeous Spotted Handfish slowly swam up to her. Tikki was a very special fish, being endangered and a bright red. Her species were a brown or green, red was unheard of and basically impossible.
She was a gift from Amphitrite.
She was Marinette's little secret.
She opened her bag (just a little fabric one she had found floating along the waters surface) for Tikki, full of shrimp for her to munch on.
She sped up and got home as fast as she could – getting the flowery decorations for the vase had taken longer than she had planned.
“Oh, Marinette!” Sabine smiled toothily, short white tail moving gracefully, drawing the eyes to the splashes of orange. “Did you get everything, dear?”
“Yes, maman. Where's papa?” Marinette set her collection down, long pink tail curling around her mothers as they hugged.
“Scaring off one of the Carnivorous,” Sabine rolled her eyes fondly, “I have nothing against the lifestyle, but it gives our home a bad reputation!”
Marinette smiled in agreement. The different types of Mer ate different foods. Marinette and her family preferred fish eggs and kelp – they were all adept at making the ingredients into amazing and sustainable goods.
Other Mers ate sailors – good riddance, sailors were thieving scoundrels – and other large predators. They were all friendly, but going into another's territory to hunt was disrespectful to say in the least.
“Oh, here, maman,” Marinette presented the vase, “for you!”
Sabine hugged her again, smiling even wider.
“Oh, it's lovely!” She spoke. “You didn't go to the surface for this, did you? Sailors are dangerous, you know what I say-"
“That if one gets near me, I kill it and swim away.” Marinette interrupted, the phrase familiar.
“I'm serious! The ones that look for us talk about markets! Selling our tears and scales! There's a boat above us now, and I don't want you hurt.”
“I won't get hurt, they've never caught one of our kind before. They want to sell us on superstition.” Humans were greedy and spiteful, willing to kill for money while even Mers only killed for food.
“I know,” the older woman sighed, “I just want you safe.”
“I know,” Marinette smiled and kissed her on the head, “I love you for it.”
Their almost daily occurring conversation over, Sabine waved her off. Marinette swam up, hastily tied pigtails floating behind her.
Their stone and wood house was beautiful, in Marinette's opinion, her parents having created it before she was even born.
As soon as she reached her room that was decorated with a variety of stuff humans dropped over their ships, she swam out the window. She murmured a prayer and turned to her red companion.
“Tikki,” she smiled sweetly, “Spots on.” Tikki was absorbed into Amphitrites earrings, granting Marinette a red spotted tail, speed, and the spots that covered most of her face.
Her powers were gifted from the gods, from the goddess of saltwater in order to be her kingdoms knight. She was chosen to protect the seals and dolphins and everything from outside forces. From enemies of Poseidon and his Consort.
Most gods did the same, gifting their creations with the power to protect all their others thpugh she had never met another. She was a mystery and her powers were a mystery – a lot of Mers would just use the earrings to help with their hunting.
She shot up, gills moving rapidly. In her other form, her black scales reached from her fingers to her elbows, creating a stark contrast with her skin.
Her ‘mask' of sorts was a collection of red scales, dotted with the occasional black. Her fins were much longer as well, to aid her with speed. Her teeth were small and sharp, ready to tear into any predator or enemy that tried to challenge her.
She reached the large boat, and for a little joke as well as revenge for crossing her territory, she cut the nets in the water. The nets released tons of fish (and good, if they wanted their dinner they could work for it!), and she muffled a giggle as the sailors shouted and cursed in surprise.
It was funny.
And, as she peered up to view their reactions through the murky water, she failed to notice the large hook coming up behind her.
Chat rushed to the main deck as his crew started shouting in surprise, cursing the heavens and rotten luck. He saw their fishnets, empty and torn in several places.
“Nino, I said keep an eye on the water!” He shouted, looking over the edge and seeing a flash of red. It wasn't from any fish or shark he had heard of before, which left just one feasible culprit.
Ignoring Nino's shout of, “I did!” He raced to grab the large hook on a rod.
A Mer would tear through a net, no problem, but a metal rod would be much harder. Especially when it was hooked in its scales or skin.
“Nino, help me!” He shouted, crew watching them in confused anticipation now.
Nino rushed over and they guided the elongated rod into the water, Chat praying that his usually bad luck would turn around. A sudden weight gave him a little hope, and he quickly yanked it out of the water and onto the deck.
An unholy screech split the air, the humans on board screaming as a black and red monster splattered onto the wooden boards.
The she-demon ripped the hook from where it was lodged in her tail, and scuttled backwards as though to throw herself over the side.
Chat stepped forwards quickly, manic grin on his face as he grabbed her by her blue hair, claws scratching at her scalp. He dragged her forwards and threw her in front of his crew. She snarled, and they drew back in fear.
She straightened suddenly, throwing everyone off guard. She pushed her hair back, exposing beautiful, big blue eyes. The wind picked up and she opened her mouth, causing everyone to yell, scrambling to shove anything in their ears to block any spell she could weave.
She started to say - sing – a little rhyme.
“A bunch of pretty mermaids
Swimming in the sea
I love you, sailor
Do you love me?”
Some weren't as fast as others, and one particularly young cabin boy stumbled over to the tailed girl.
Chat grabbed his sword, baton safely by his side to be used as a last resort.
“Step out of the way, Nathaniel.” He snarled, glaring at the mermaid who had the redheaded boy entranced.
“No!” Nathaniel yelled, arms wrapped the Mers waist. “I love her!”
“Nathaniel,” the demon cooed, stroking his cheek, “do you really love me?”
Marinette knew it was underhanded, but she managed to get into a situation no Mer had before. After her mother had warned her! She owed it to her maman to escape, and get back home.
“Yes,” Nathaniel turned his full attention to the goddess before him, “do you love me?”
“Of course I do,” she smiled, “but if you really loved me, you'd put me back in the water.”
“B-but what about me?” The boy looked as though he was on the verge of tears which caused Chat to tighten his grip on his sword.
“Oh, you can come with me!” She offered the simple solution. Nathaniel picked her up, turning his back to the rest of the people on board.
Chat delivered a quick thump to the back of Nathaniel’s head, and the boy slumped over, dropping the Mer as he himself fell.
He'd wake with a splitting headache, but it was better than death. He grabbed the red tail of the mermaid and dragged her back. When she didn't protest, he looked at her.
She had knocked her head on something, he noticed as he saw some blood oozing near her temple. He cursed.
“She's out fucking cold,” he dropped her tail, “someone take her down below deck so I can question the bitch later. “
No one moved.
“Now!” He barked.
Everyone burst into a flurry of movement, someone carrying Nathaniel to his bunk, another person dragging the predator down, away from the storm of swirling winds and black clouds. The sky gave a loud rumble as the Mer was dragged down, as though angry with her capture. Adrien couldn't care less about the angry sky, though. He could finally get his revenge.
“Where do you want ‘er, Captain?” The man called out, sound muffled by the wood between them but still loud enough to break Chat from his thoughts.
“Throw it in my room! I don't want it escaping!”
They obeyed and he sat down, Nino crouching next to him.
“Wow.” Nino finally spoke. “That was a shit-show.”
Marinette woke up on a cold, hard floor. Her head was aching, and she felt dehydrated – her scales were dry and peeling from rubbing on the floor as well as being out of her ocean.
A knock sounded, causing her head to snap up and her eyes to widen in fear. She was out of her element. She was a fish out of water - pun intended. She made really bad joes when she was upset. She blamde her father.
Her earrings had helped her adapt to being out of the water, thankfully, so she could only assume she had developed lungs or some other way of breathing for longer than Mers were usually able. They could go to the surface, after all, but thew time length was debatable. She couldn't be sure if it would last forever.
“Hello?” A girl walked in with a tray of...food? Torture devices? Marinette couldn't be sure. She noticed Marinette backing away. “Oh, no! I'm not going to hurt you. I'm Alya, by the way.”
The girl stood proud and strong, but smiled kindly down at the Mer.
“Why do you give your name away?”
Marinette didn't want to speak to the human keeping her captive, but names were sacred and powerful.
It was a great sign of trust to be granted it, and it helped Marinette relax, just a little. This was someone that was respecting her, allowing her to keep her name in a way many Mers would not allow.
Alya hummed thoughtfully. “What else would you call me by?”
“Your men called me Mer. I thought it was custom to refer to others by their status or title. Alya.” The gitl's name was added on as an afterthought.
“Nope! Not unless they're really important, like the captain. He doesn't even use his real name, ever!”
“Was your captain the sailor that hooked me out of the water? I shall claw his eyes out!” Marinette growled, displaying her teeth and clenching her fists.
Alya laughed nervously.
“Do you have a name then, girl?” The human female, Alya, asked her.
Marinette debated her answer. It would be rude to not give Alya her name in return, but she didn't know her that well. She could be fishing for power or information to hold over her!
“Wow, Marinette I love your tail! It looks like a ladybug!”
Marinette frowned to herself. “What is a ladybug?”
Alya gasped happily. “Oh. My. Goodness, I'm going to teach you everything about the human world, we're going to have so much fun!”
Alya's happiness was contagious, but Marinette was so sad.
She grabbed at Alya's hands and pleaded with her. She didn't know why she didn't start with begging, but she supposed it was never too late. She knew she was intimidating as a warrior, which could work against her; she looked and acted so much younger when she was just being herself. Being Marinette. Cold washed over her as she thought of something. What if she escaped and, one day, Alya spotted her as the warrior and called her by her name? No, she thought to herself, I'm going to have to kill her.
“Please, let me go! I have a family, I need to look after them! I'll die up here, please, Alya!” She didn't think it would work, but she had to try before she detransformed. Or before Alya found out she was probably going to kill her. Maybe she could ask her grandma to eat her? No, then she would need to say why. Tikki was going to die and she was going to die and then she was going to spend her time being tortured in the Underworld for her failures!
Tikki wouldn't survive it. That was just a cold, hard fact.
Alya looked uncomfortable, and opened her mouth as the captain stormed in.
“Leave it.” The murderous sailor snarled at Alya, who looked so miserable. She started walking away, quietly and slowly as if the Captain might change his mind..
“Alya! Alya, you can't tell them who I am! Not my name, please!” She knew the human had heard her, but whether she would listen was a whole other question.
The door shut, and Marinette hissed threateningly at the human who dared attack her, Amphitrite’s chosen. Dared steal her away.
She looked him, up and down.
He was handsome, for a human.
He too wore a mask, of black material. He was dressed in all black, and she noticed the goggles that were strung around his neck.
“You murdered my mother, beast.” He smiled, far too nicely, “now you can tell me what you did to her, and I'll do it to you. Deal?”
He started walking around her, reminding her of a shark who had cornered a fat little seal.
“I don't know what you speak of, human,” she held her claws out, too hurt to move but ready to defend herself, “don't try and pretend this is for anything but to satisfy your greed and hatred.”
He laughed, dark and mean.
“Did you rip her apart? Eat her? Drown her?” He drew his sword, admiring it. “I doubt I could drown you in water, but perhaps seeing you choke on your blood will satisfy me.”
She was painfully out of her depth.
She was scared.
She was going to cry.
“I don't know your mother!” She cried. “It wasn't me, I don't eat humans!”
He froze, but soon continued his pacing. “Don't lie to me, I know your kind!” He pointed his sword at her, blade glinting in the small amount of sun streaming through a window.
“Please, I promise you, I don't know who killed your maman, but mine is waiting for me to come home! She'll be so worried.” Marinette started crying. She couldn't help it! She was still young, and the this wasn't what she normally did. She settled territorial disputes, made sure everything in the ocean was working as it should.
She didn't know what it was she could do now. She wasn't in the ocean, and it seemed this was only going to end in bloodshed.
She did what she was always taught to do when a human approached her, or was close enough to hurt her. It was something taught as an instinct, as a last resort. No one actually believed they would have to use it in defence, but Marinette always defied expectations.
She tried a song again.
“Come now, pretty sailor,
I'm a child at your feet
Listen, little sailor,
One you have hurt and beat
Release me, darling sailor,
And all your dreams come true
For I, my daring sailor, will love you"
She looked to see a reaction, but was sorely disappointed and shocked when he yawned and showed her the wax he had plugged his ears with.
Without her song, with her in pain, he could kill her. There was wood stuck between her scales, and she whimpered as they were jostled by the movements of the ship.
“Your songs bore me, princess,” he toyed with the pearls in her hair, “now, you'll tell me the truth, or you have do something you don't want to do.”
She was a Mer, a chosen of a goddess, powerful and more beautiful than any human alive, she was no liar. It was insulting.
“I don't lie!”
He sighed, as though severely saddened by her words. He was a faker, a liar and he had the gall to disrespect her with the same title.
“So, darling. I've heard tales of humans tricking your people into blood bonds. Heard of them?” Marinette stiffened.
A blood bond was everything. Blood was powerful, and some humans realised and took advantage.
Tying blood, a life force to another was dangerous and painful. The Mers in blood bonds weren't able to harm their human without feeling the pain ten times over. They were easily enslaved, and killed themselves to escape the humans, killing both of them. Humans dying just caused mermaids great pain for a long while. Mers were stronger. More powerful. Could stand more.
“You won't get my blood.” She whispered, heart pounding in her ears.
“I already have it,” he waved a vial in her face. It contained just a little blood, a few drops at most. But it was enough, “you took a nasty hit to your head.”
“You're cruel.” Marinette was horrified. How despicable do you have to be, to harm someone like that. And for what? Misplaced revenge?
She imagined if it were her mother, killed by a sailor.
She would murder the sailor.
Would she be the same as the captain? He was lost in his fear, drowning in his pain to the point of him not even bothering to hear what she had to say.
“No. I'm a survivor. I raised this ship from nothing. I have no family – which is partially your fault – I was nothing. But I was strong enough to do more, which is better than anything you've ever done, witch.”
A dark-skinned man interrupted the two, and she was soon left to her own devices. She dragged herself over to the window. It was too small for her to fit through, but perfect for –
“Tikki, spots off.” She caught the endangered fish, and promptly threw her out the window, breathing a sigh of relief as she heard a splash.
Tikki was safe, and hopefully she looked more appealing or at least less threatening to the sailor.
She mussed up her hair, clutching her little bag to her body. She knew she looked very different; the pink made her look soft, and her skin appeared darker with no bright or dark colours to contrast - though she was still quite pale. Her injuries had been left behind in her other, stronger scales.
She looked small. She knew it.
She shrunk down as a thump sounded in the hall. A member of the crew – she didn't know names – gaped at her before yelling.
“There's a different mermaid! It's bloody witchcraft!”
At his shout, the captain ran towards the room.
He skidded to a halt by the boy, eyes furious. He snarled, claws taking a chunk out of the door frame.
He snarled at her. “What happened to the other one?”
Marinette curled in on herself, totally different to how she held herself when covered in spots. Then, like lightning, realisation hit her.
They didn't realise it was her.
She could work with that.