Brought to Safety

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It was high tide, not the best time for shell collecting, but Apex made it work. Ever since he'd been separated from his pod last summer, he found it a great way to pass the time.

    Every shell imaginable was there, conch's, swirls, butterflies, oysters. One by one, Apex plucked them out of the sand and placed them in his jar. As he went along, he threw bread crusts for the seagulls. They picked them up and proceeded to follow Apex as he collected shells. Apex bent over into the water and gasped as a cold rush of saltwater hit his rusty brown hair, though in the overcast sky's light, it looked more murky brown. He stood up and began to collect shells again, but this time, something shimmering blue caught his eye. Apex gasped. It couldn't be.

    He dropped his jar of shells and ran for the shimmering object. It was. Finally another of his kind.

Upon closer inspection, the mermaid's sand-colored hair was spread onto the beach and her gorgeous aqua blue tail that fanned out into a equally as beautiful aqua fin. But something was off.

Apex shook the mermaid's fin, "Hey, are you alright? Hello?" Apex brushed the hair and sand away from the mermaid's face and placed one of the shells on her cheek. The shell radiated light, then disappeared.

"Wake up. Please." Apex shook the mermaid's shoulder. The mermaid's sea green eyes flickered open. She picked up her head and set it back down again.

"Are you hurt?" Apex asked.

The mermaid choked, "I don't know. Where am I, I shouldn't be here."

"What happened to you? Were you attacked by something?" Apex asked, concerned. She could have been the only survivor.

The mermaid gasped, "I can't remember. Something's in there, it's dangerous! I can't go back there."

Apex pondered for a moment, "I know how to keep you safe. I'll take you back to my house, there's a few little pools there." Apex picked up the mermaid and carried her to a small house on the coast. The beachgoers should have noticed, but they didn't.

******

    Apex set the mermaid in one of the larger pools. "You'll be safe here."

    "I have to be back in the ocean by the morning" The mermaid said urgently.

    Apex nodded, "I'll take you back soon and help you find your pod."

    "You will? But how? You're a human."

    Apex shook his head, "I'll swim right like you."

    "You're still human, it will take you years without a tail."

    'Who said I was human?" Apex winked and jumped into the pool. He felt the familiar, warm feeling of his legs binding together. Grey shimmers surrounded his legs and his legs morphed into a grey tail.

    The mermaid gasped, "You're a merman! But how?"

    "I'll explain everything. First tell me your story, what's your name?"

    "My name's Radia Thalassa. Yours?"

    "Apex Marduk. I was separated from my pod when we were attacked. A fisherman named Decain rescued me and is letting me stay here with his family."

    "What were you attacked by?"

    "You don't want to know, but if you insist, I'll show you."

    Apex and Radia bowed their heads and the two of them pressed their left hands together and waved them up, allowing Radia to enter Apex's memory in a flashback.

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