Man From Atlantis: Revelations of Home
Mark and Nautica surfaced noiselessly a few feet from the boat and saw a dim light and movement back and forth from inside. The winds around them picked up and the sky lit up with spurts of lightning. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Nautica pointed up.
"It's a sign that the portal is opening now! Mark, Schubert could be trying to make his entry tonight, before you might suspect it. But he knows you will go after him with Elizabeth missing!"
Mark was more concerned over the boat. "Nautica, you can only help me from the sea, go down and look out for any submersibles."
"Right!…Wait, what are they?"
"A device in which a Land Dweller can sit in and explore the ocean, like a miniature version of a submarine. Do not let him see you if you can help it and tell me immediately."
"I'm right on it, Mark." She grinned and dove beneath a swirling wave.
"You are a very brave woman, Nautica." Mark thought. "You will make a fine queen someday, when you are ready."
He crept up the side of the boat without a sound. With his heightened sense of hearing, he heard two male voices within and feminine, muffled whimpers.
"There you are, Elizabeth. I will save you."
He curled his fists and hardened his stance, ready to fight for her.
Nautica raced to the surface and just as Mark was about to climb into the boat and she splashed him. She thrashed about unusually. "Mark! Mr. Schubert! He is down there! He wants to go through the portal! I cannot stop him! He…Mark!"
Nautica reached her arms out to him and a thick black wire snapped around her waist. She immediately disappeared under the water.
Mark dove off the boat railing and plummeted down as fast as he could. Nautica screamed as the wire dragged her to the bottom of the sea. Schubert's booming laughter burst through the speakers on his sphere-like, yellow submersible.
"Snagged like a fish on a hook! Or perhaps more like a worm!" He shouted as Nautica struggled. "Hold still little fish, or else I will zap you!"
Nautica quelled her struggle and Mark swam close to them.
"Schubert if you hurt either Nautica or Elizabeth I will…"
"You will what, my boy? I've put you in quite a dilemma haven't I? My men had the bright idea to kidnap the good doctor, not me. You know that is not my style, but it works to my advantage. I am determined to make it through that portal come hell or high water! Don't you see? This is our chance to merge two worlds! To bring harmony back!"
Mark floated with his arms crossed, staring Schubert down through the dark glass. "Just how do you plan to do that? You have no idea what is behind that portal, or the kind of beings and creatures you will run into. They are not as benevolent and submissive as you may think! They are not like the Clicks!"
"You mean they are not as benevolent as you!" Schubert wagged a teasing finger at him. "Don't you see, Mark! It's always about you. You are the one who is going to help me explore Atlantis and make peace once and for all. I know you are King of Atlantis!"
"I will do no such thing, Schubert. You are on your own."
Schubert let out an exasperated sigh. "I can never win with you, can I, Mark?"
"I suppose not!"
"Very well. I was hoping I wouldn't have to take such drastic measures."
Mark stared at Schubert strangely. The fat man turned off his speakers and picked up his radio-control. Mark paid him no further mind and swam to the wire that held Nautica. He rent it apart and removed it from her body.
"Are you hurt?"
"No, not really. Thank you! Mark, there's not much time! The portal creates stormy seas, it could capsize the boat!"
The waters agitated and churned as the blue lighting intensified from the cave. The effect astounded Mark and he felt a strong magnetic pull. He swam a few meters out of range with Nautica. She held his shoulders and stared deep into his eyes, then kissed him. Mark gazed keenly at her, but kept silent.
"Now is our chance, Mark. We must go through it. Schubert's submersible won't make it! The force is magnetic and it will be crushed! But we'll get through! He doesn't know that!"
"It may not be crushed, Nautica. I cannot just leave and let him follow, I cannot let him destroy your world."
Nautica shook him. "NO! It's our world, Mark!"
Mark was about to respond, and then noticed the submersible rock to and fro and the waters sucked it closer and closer.
"Schubert! Pull away now! You may not make it!"
"I will make it!"
Nautica looked despairingly at Mark and heaved her shoulders. "No, he will not make it to Atlantis!"
"Nautica, what are you doing?" Mark shouted.
Nautica swam toward the submersible; she curled her body tight and rammed her fishtail against it in a fell swoop. Pains and vibrations coursed through her, but her blow was enough to send Schubert reeling back a few feet. She swam to the entrance and clung to the rocks weakened.
"Mark…you must stop him now!"
"Shaken, but not deterred!" Schubert growled. He toyed with his controls and the top of the sphere opened to reveal a long laser gun. He aimed it at Nautica.
"I'm in the mood for fried fish!"
Mark swam close and pounced on the top of the sphere, the weapon warmed up to fire. He waved at Nautica.
"Go through now!"
Mark yanked the laser backwards and bent the metal out of shape. Schubert shouted angry oaths. Mark straddled himself on the sphere and furiously punched at it, denting it all over.
"Mark, my boy! Either you continue to turn me into a sardine can, go with your pet fish through the portal, or…"
Mark swam off the sphere and glared at his malevolent face. The twinkle never left Schubert's eyes. "Or you will be responsible for the death of someone very close to you!"
Despite the disturbed waters, Mark heard the splash, clinking chains, and smothered screams from a few thousand feet above them. Elizabeth was drowning.
Mark's eyes glowed as they never had before. It unsettled Schubert and he backed as far away from the controls as he could. Mark drew back a clenched fist and slammed the glass on the submersible. It cracked slowly.
"No! You fool! Why! Atlantis needs us!" Schubert threw the switches on autopilot and prepared a breathing apparatus over his mouth. His submersible zoomed high as water leaked in.
The portal was finally open and only the cavern rocks protected those on the outside from the full force.
"Mark! Please come with me to Atlantis! This may be your last chance!" Nautica cried.
Mark swam up a few feet. "I am sorry! Nautica, go home! I must save her!"
"I love you, Darien!" Her voice faded and she disappeared into the light.
Mark practically soared through the water to reach Elizabeth. Her eyes were opened wide and her air nearly spent. Her arms were tied behind her back and a ball and chain wrapped around her feet, sinking her to her death. She struggled to surface.
Mark ripped through the chains to relieve the pressure. He pinched her nose and tore the gag off. He placed his mouth tight over hers and sent a gust of air into her lungs. Her eyes opened slowly and she nodded. He swam her up as fast as he could without causing injury. They broke the surface and Elizabeth heaved and grappled for him to help her stay afloat. Her ankle throbbed, but she felt too weak to even cry out. She sank against Mark distressed and coughed up seawater. Her entire body shuddered. He patted her back and rubbed it in tender, circular motions.
"Mark, please…don't let me go…" She moaned into his chest.
"I have you. I will not let you go. Breathe, Elizabeth. Breathe…breathe." He whispered gently and cradled her. "You are safe."
The storm tapered off and the oceans calmed. The dark schooner sped away. Mark would deal with Schubert at a future time. Right now Elizabeth was all that mattered.
The following evening, on the shore by the Foundation – Hastings Point
Using a cane to support her, Elizabeth stood barefoot along the beach and tossed shells against the surf. Her eyes were red and bright from crying. The more she stared across the ocean, the sadder she felt. She dropped onto her knees and put her face to her hands.
Mark watched her from the widow's walk. He had never seen Elizabeth in such anguish and it hurt him. He rushed down the stairs and then approached her carefully. He crouched next to her.
"Elizabeth, what is wrong? Is it your ankle? Perhaps you should not walk on it. CW told you to take a few days off from work."
Elizabeth quickly dried her eyes and sniffled. She lowered her head, unable to meet his soft glance.
"No Mark, it's not that. That's only a sprain."
"Then why are you sad?"
"I've been horrible to you, Mark. I'm very sorry. You lost the chance to return home to Atlantis, the one place you wanted to discover. It's all my fault."
Mark touched her shoulder. "No, Elizabeth. It is not. You should not feel guilty for Schubert's cruel actions. And you have not treated me badly. You never have."
She looked up at him. "I shouldn't have left the Foundation after what Schubert did to you with those sharks. I should have just encouraged you to go back to Atlantis from the beginning. They need you as King."
Mark's mouth tightened as he looked at the waves. "They already have their King…and their future Queen." He scooted closer to her. "There is more that you are not saying, Elizabeth. But you do not have to say it, because I can see it in your expression."
Elizabeth had to smile. "You learn too fast for me. I told you that, didn't I?"
"I know I have much to learn about human emotions and subtleties."
"The truth is Mark…" She hoped with every fiber of her being that he understood her feelings.
"What is the truth, Elizabeth?"
"Mark, I was jealous of Nautica. She was so beautiful and one of your kind, and she was in love with you. I couldn't stand that." She looked away, feeling foolish.
"I was not in love with her." Mark gripped her shoulders. "Elizabeth, I could not return to Atlantis. While I was down in the ocean I was forced by Schubert to make choices. But when I heard…" He cut his words off and drew his face close to hers.
"I chose you."
"Oh, Mark!" Elizabeth was overcome; shunning her sensibilities, she clutched his cheeks and kissed him fully on the mouth.
Mark did not fumble or draw away. He embraced her and caressed her hair and face. His heart throbbed as never before, giving him a delightful sensation. Elizabeth snuggled her warm, petite body against him. With lingering kisses he picked her up and moved into the water until he was thigh deep. He bobbed her gently over each wave. Elizabeth did not want to break free of his kiss. When their lips finally parted she stared at him and hot tears streamed from her eyes. Mark, enraptured, absorbed each one with more tender kisses.
"They still taste of salt…"
She closed her eyes and smiled the demure, attractive smile he was so fond of.
"I want you to stay, Mark. Always."
"I will not leave, Elizabeth. I chose you." He repeated.
Mark was reminded of a saying he once read.
Home is where the heart is.
Right now, he felt his heart belonged here on land, where he could learn, explore, and with Elizabeth loyally at his side – love.