The Merfolk that staged their kidnapping were still in the warehouse. They were just lazing around, amusing themselves with various hobbies. “…Hey,” called one Mermaid, “you think they’ll ever find us?”
“Not in any reasonable time,” remarked the Ringleader, a Cecaelia woman. She then looked in her hand mirror and tilted her head to have the mirror focus on the right of her head. “What do you think?” she asked the whole group.
“No offense, Teylan,” remarked a Merperson as they adjusted their glove, “but you don’t really pull off the whole ‘flower in hair’ look.” The Cecaelia, Teylan, gave her reflection another glance before removing the flower from her hair.
“I guess I just wanted to experi…” she was interrupted by a pounding on the door. “Who in all the…Tayan, see who’s out there.” The nonbinary Merperson swam to a window and yelped.
“It’s the police!” they warned.
“WHAT?!” yelped the first Mermaid.
“What are they doing here?!” asked a Merman.
“Tanshwar’s out there!” reported Tayan as they bit their nails nervously. “He’s cast a voice amplification spell!”
“The jig’s up!” called Tanshwar. “We know all about this joke! You idiots panicked too many people! Come out with your hands up! We have you surrounded!”
“They know!” wailed the first Mermaid.
“We gotta go NOW!” declared Teylan. “Get the supplies and get that escape tunnel open!” The crowd wasted no time in gathering the supplies. However rushed it looked, there was a clockwork efficiency to the gathering of supplies. A large crate was pulled back and revealed a tunnel. The crowd swam towards it just as the police began slamming a battering ram into it. The police broke through only to be greeted by sudden flashes of light temporarily blinding them. When their eyes cleared, the crowd had vanished, leaving only the police.
“Search the joint!” ordered Tanshwar. The police turned the whole warehouse upside down and soon found the collapsed entrance to the tunnel.
“Should we detail a digging crew?” asked a Merperson.
“They’ll have long gone before we even broke through,” countered Tanshwar. “We’re going to set up patrols around the city. Yenfu, detail the patrols.”
“Yes, Sir,” declared the Merperson, Yenfu, as they swam off.
After the disaster at the warehouse, Chief Inspector Tanshwar met with the Caldora Family and personally reported what happened. To say that the Royal Family was unhappy was an understatement. The news made it to IntraRealm Communications and was spread around all sorts of social media. When Mr. Iggir met with the Royal Family and Tanshwar, the immediate water surrounding him felt hotter than usual. “‘Alleged Kidnapping Victims: Nothing More Than Practical Jokers’,” Samuje read from her shell-phone. “‘Mr. Iggir makes clownfish out of police department and Kurontar Sea citizens.’ Well, Mr. Iggir, what have you to say for that?!”
“Just a minute, my Lords and Ladies,” Mr. Iggir gulped, “there’s obviously a misunderstanding!”
“Yeah, and you misunderstood that we would allow this kind of sick joke!” snapped King Vorko. “We saw the video of you explaining why you would do all this! Now, the question becomes, why would you want us to go back to those lawless days?!”
“Come now, those days weren’t ENTIRELY lawless,” replied Mr. Iggir.
“Mr. Iggir, it was YOUR responsibility to assist me in keeping our people safe!” snapped Tanshwar. “Since you were derelict in that duty, as the Chief of Police, I have every probable cause to demand that you resign!”
“And we have enough reason,” growled Queen Yotrii, “to have your sorry hide rot in the dungeons for the rest of your life! Trying to undo your rulers’ work is a treasonous act and such blatant disregard for your proper leaders will not go unpunished! We have decided that you are unfit to be part of Kurontar Society! If the courts find you guilty, you will be stripped of your assets and the money will be used as reparations for those citizens you’ve panicked!”
“Even if I thought that fair,” remarked Mr. Iggir, “you won’t have enough money.”
“Even with the stash INSIDE the northern wall?” replied King Jentay. “What about the stash by the bank in the southern district? Or the stash at the abandoned shell-slam stadium? I could go on, but the list your daughter gave me is a little long.”
“My daughter told you about my stashes?!” yelped Mr. Iggir. “I am SO gonna disown her for this!”
“You won’t get the chance,” muttered King Bremmek. “Besides, she’s proved her patriotism by telling us how much you were withholding from society.”
“You mean the riff-raff!” snapped Mr. Iggir. “You royals constantly hound us for cash just so you could use it as a hand-out for the poor because they’re too lazy to do anything else!” That did it! King Bremmek left his seat and was about to beat him senseless before Samuje and Marianes held him back.
“YOU DARE CALL CHARITY A HAND-OUT!” he roared. “YOU LEECHES ARE A CANCER TO MY OLD CLASS! YOUR PARENTS PAID FOR YOUR EDUCATION! THAT’S THE BIGGEST HAND-OUT OF ALL!”
“My husband was a member of the poor before he married into our family,” hissed King Jentay. “Guards, take him away!” The guards grabbed Mr. Iggir and hauled him out of the throne room as he flung various threats at the Caldoras, promising revenge. Bremmek was seething for a good minute until he took deep breaths to calm himself.
“…Sorry you had to see that,” he sighed.
“I have patrols looking for the rest of his gang,” reported Tanshwar. “We’ll find them.”
“We’re going to hold you to that,” replied Jentay. “The people are incredibly angry and want answers from those involved in this scandal. You may go.” Tanshwar bowed and left the throne room.
Arsha reported the whole thing to Rokalla from her Ready Room. “That escalated quickly,” muttered Rokalla. “This won’t look good for the Kurontar Sea’s readiness and unity, especially if war’s on the horizon.”
“We’re giving the police a helping hand,” reported Arsha. “Personally, this feels like desertion to me.”
“Me too,” agreed Rokalla. “Give whatever aid you can. The Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom would be a prime target for Dr. Borg in its current state.”
“Understood, Sir,” answered Arsha. “Arsha out.” The call ended and Arsha returned to the bridge. “Any communications from the kingdom?” she asked Shalvey.
“A request for further aid,” answered Shalvey. “The City Guard is assisting the police and want us to bring a platoon of Guardsmen to the end of their escape tunnel. The police found the end just the other day.”
“Accept their request and ask for details on when and where we’re picking up the City Guard Platoon,” directed Arsha.
The Endeavor picked the platoon up in the Central Plaza an hour later. They plotted a search pattern from the northern wall that would spiral outwards. They began the search and had just completed the first spiral, a five-hour long journey, and were beginning the next when Malak found something. “Captain,” he reported, “sensors indicate something following us on the seafloor.”
“Can you identify it?” asked Arsha.
“Identifying now,” replied Malak. His eyes then went wide. “It’s a Golem! …Wait, a Golem? Beneath the water?”
“Splitters might have improved on them!” declared Arsha. “Beam that Golem to the brig!”
“Beaming,” reported the brig’s transporter chief. After a few seconds, he reported that the transport was complete.
“Denstra, take a team and figure out how that Golem was able to stay together underwater,” ordered Arsha.
“Aye, Captain,” confirmed Denstra. She then turned to Dalengor and Endea. “You two, with me.” The three then left the bridge.
“In the meantime, we continue our search,” declared Arsha. “Malak, keep sensors tuned for any more of those Golems.”
“Aye, Captain,” replied Malak.
Denstra, Dalengor, and Endea arrived at the brig to see the Golem. It was shaped in the standard Golem shape, but the color was all wrong. The clay it was made of looked silver instead of terracotta, grey, or brown. The light inside the eyes and mouth took a yellow color instead of red, orange, or blue. “What position are you?” demanded Denstra. “What branch are you?”
“I’m not a Splitter Golem,” scoffed the Golem in a female tone. “I don’t identify myself by my position. My name is Ms. Femfaf.”
“…A name?” asked Dalengor. “Golems don’t have names…or gender.”
“My breed of Golem does,” replied Femfaf. “I am Golem 7.0.”
“A more advanced Golem,” mused Endea. “That explains, somewhat, how you were able to stay together while submerged.”
“Having metal shavings introduced into your birthing clay,” answered Femfaf, “DOES tend to hold you together better. I followed you to propose an alliance.”
“Alliance?” asked Denstra. “Why should we honor that request?”
“Because those people that fled the kingdom,” explained Femfaf, “have damaged my organization and we want to see justice done to them.”
“What proof do we have that you’re on our level?” interrogated Denstra.
“Absolutely none, given the circumstances,” replied Femfaf. “But, right now, you are proceeding under the assumption that I was the only one of Golem 7.0.”
“…You brought a whole platoon with you,” realized Endea.
“They’re keeping well out of your sensor network,” continued Femfaf, “but they WILL go after the deserters and, if necessary, kill them. I want to prove that we don’t need to be that savage. After all, wouldn’t it be easier for the Caldoras to dispense justice?”
“…I’ll need to talk to the Captain about this,” remarked Denstra. “You’re not leaving that cell. Dalengor, Endea, watch i…her.”
“Understood,” replied Dalengor. Denstra left the brig to report the news.
“An alliance?!” protested the Guard Captain.
“Golems are shock-troopers,” continued Arsha, “they live for destruction. Why would they want to see any form of justice?”
“I have a feeling this particular Golem,” replied Denstra, “is one more clever than Splitters want.”
“Well, we need to find the deserters,” mused Arsha. “…Tell Femfaf that we’ll be allying with them but watching them closely.”
“Captain, I must protest this course of action,” argued the Guard Captain as his fins twitched. “For all we know, these new Golems are in the service of Dr. Borg.”
“That’s why we’re watching them,” answered Arsha. “The instant any single Golem does something against us, we destroy them.”
“That’s something I can get behind,” conceded the Guard Captain. “I withdraw my objections.” Arsha then nodded to Denstra and Denstra left the room to carry out her orders.