Order of the Shell

- Class Introduction -
Sunlight bathed the submerged reef with a diffused golden glow, revealing bleached white coral fields barely interspersed with splashes of colour where the remnants of life fought a retreating battle against rising water temperatures and pollution. Some of the aquatic inhabitants remained, stubbornly clinging to their old, decayed home, but most had moved on to the few remaining living reefs. Dark shadows flitted about the reef as sharks and mermaids sought refuge and cover amongst the dead coral formations.

Dormu, a strike leader Hammerhead shark, harpoon in hand, wearing the Shell insignia in gold filigree denoting his class rank waited near the center of the largest coral formation alongside a young mermaid, who reclined back against the coral, her face twisted in pain. Dormu regarded his young charge with grave concern. All Mermaids were powerful, with abilities far beyond most in the ocean depths, but his charge was still quite young and inexperienced. She had exhausted her powers just buying the small strike force time to seek cover after they had stumbled upon an Atlantian ambush and in the chaos of the swimming battle, she had been struck by a gas-powered spear that had torn a nasty wound across her back and side. Dormu could see the stain of her blood across the bleached coral in the filtered sunlight as he also heard her pleas to him in his mind as she projected the thoughts.

“Leave me, Dormu! Take the others and retreat. I can still obscure this area and buy you time, before…” her thoughts trailed off as she saw his expression harden in resolve. She knew, as a certainty, that Dormu would not abandon her to the Atlantians. If they perished, they would all perish and Dormu would ensure that many Atlantians never returned from their ambush as well.

Watching the understanding dawn in her eyes, Dormu turned his attention to the remainder of his forces, already preparing in his mind their last stand. A quick, lithe Mako shark darted over an outcropping of coral, returning from a short patrol of the perimeter of the reef to report to his strike leader. Dormu flinched toward his scout briefly as he saw the displaced water contrail behind him race rapidly forward, covering the distance frighteningly quick. The gas-powered spear causing this contrail in the water found its mark before Dormu could move more than half a yard and a cloud of brown blood engulfed the Mako shark as it nearly bent in two from the force of the spear. The lifeless body continued its motion over the outcropping of coral and Dormu had his answer as to the extent and reach of the Atlantian forces. The Mermaids gentle touch at his side soothed some of the rage and despair building within Dormu as her innate powers calmed his mind, but he would not forget the bravery of that Mako, nor would he rest until the scout shark was avenged. 

Dormu’s eyes narrowed, his mind now clear and calculating, thanks to his young charge’s magic, and he quickly relayed orders to his remaining forces, few as they were. Turning back to the young mermaid he told her of their plan, cutting off her protests even as they began. They would engage the Atlantians in a final suicidal charge to distract and baffle them, giving her time to flee the reef and seek help. She looked from face to face of each of the remaining strike force and could see their determination and admiration for what she had done to save them to this point. Reaching out with her mind, she touched each of them, committing their names and faces to memory, so they could be honoured by their brethren for this sacrifice. The Queen herself would hear of their heroics this day. The currents and eddies amongst the reef might steal her tears as they began, but all knew and felt the pain of this farewell. 

Withdrawing her mind from theirs, the sharks of the Shell strike force turned as one and readied weapons. It was at that moment that a dark shadow began to grow across the reef, blotting out the filtered sunlight in a way that no clouds in the sky above could accomplish. 
An immense shape glided over the top of the reef, coming from behind the gathered forces of the Shell strike force. Looking up in alarm, Dormu’s eyes widened in wonder and his mouth opened in a broad grin of impending triumph. Dormu heard the gasps of awe from his unit but did not reprimand their loss of discipline for what swam inexorably but slowly above them was nothing short of an oceanic legend.

The Whale Shark was one of the oldest of his species, but age did not slow him or lessen his formidable prowess in the slightest. If anything, it made him one of the most frightening creatures of the ocean. Dozens of water-displaced contrails appeared rapidly from the ocean floor just in front of the reef as the Atlantians recognized their peril and launched all their gas-powered spears at once. Dormu’s smile became even more broad and vicious as he watched the spectacle as deadly spears, able to tear a shark in two, struck harmlessly against the steel-plated belly of the behemoth known as “Shark Tank”. From his vantage in the shadow of the Whale Shark’s gigantic underbelly, Dormu marveled at the still legible writing across the steel plates that so easily deflected the best that the Atlantians could launch at him; “Bismarck”.

Dozens of sharks and mermaids riding atop the Shark Tank returned fire with their magically empowered arbalests and Dormu gave the order to his own forces, leading them out in a now deadly charge towards the clearly dismayed and morale sapped Atlantians.  Gazing up in wonder herself, the young mermaid had forgotten her own pain at seeing up close such a legend of the deep. Shark Tank banked slowly, affording his passengers a better angle of attack on their hapless quarry and his gaze locked with the young mermaid, her mouth agape in awe. His broad mouth opened in a friendly smile as he swam past her, the one eye locked with hers closing briefly in a wink of acknowledgement.