And here we have the next chapter. And it's a Mera-centric chapter! Yay!
Saying anything else would be a spoiler, so let's answer some reviews:
1) LH-Teller9999: Thanks! :)
* We'll find that out this chapter. But long story short, yeah.
* Let's just say it'll be wild.
And now, to the chapter!
Mera crashed on a building while Yoomtah tried to chase after her, only for her foot to suddenly latch on the ground.
The robotic girl turned around, and saw Lori with her gun stretched forward, steam coming out of it as she reloaded.
Yoomtah, however, didn't stand still with her arms crossed: she aimed her arm at Lori, and her hand transformed into a buster, audibly charging up as Lori grimaced.
However, moments before it shot a blast, Mera ran to Yoomtah and slapped her buster, covering it in a protective layer just as it shot, destroying itself in the process.
For her part, Yoomtah seemed barely fazed by her broken buster, and quickly smacked Mera back with it.
"Last time I checked, your Epithet was fragile," Yoomtah remarked. "That means you used it, didn't you?"
Mera regained her footing and spread her arms forward, shouting:
But nothing happened. Mera stood in place, trying every hand gesture she could think of to try summon Web's ability: a fist, a thumbs up, even a devil's horns that she moved up and down to be sure.
The only way it did work was in making Mera look like a complete fool.
"Well, that gave me all the time I needed," Yoomtah smiled. "So thanks for that."
Lori raised an eyebrow. "Time for wha-"
Lori hit the ground, groaning in pain as her Epithet's hold on Yoomtah's foot loosened, allowing the cyborg girl to escape, all while her remaining hand returned to her arm like a rocket fist.
However, rather than run away and try another day, Yoomtah extended her hand to Mera, grabbed her by throat, and pulled her back before taking to the skies, the vigilante trying to snap free all the while.
"You know, there was something about you that always made me curious," Yoomtah lowered her eyelids. "You're experienced in resisting physical pain... but can you do the same with Epithet pain?!"
A spark of yellow was all the warning Mera got before she was assaulted with an array of lighting strikes, screaming in pain as the electricity ran through her body.
"Mera!" Lori grimaced, then dialed her phone. "This is Officer Lori, requesting backup!"
"I guess that a answers my question!" Yoomtah giggled. "It hurts, doesn't it? It's unbearable, isn't it?"
Mera stopped screaming and gritted her teeth, glaring at Yoomtah with a look of defiance.
"In case you haven't noticed, this is the part where you give in to the pain and tell me where the Arsene Amulet is!" Yoomtah grinned with notable sadism. "So spill the beans, Mera! Where is it?!"
Mera headbutted Yoomtah hard enough to not only make her release her, but slide back significantly.
Luckily, Mera activated her boots' Epithets before she plummeted to her doom.
"Holy crap, did that hurt!" the cyborg girl whined. "But of course, your pain must be even worse, right, Mera?"
Mera took a couple of heavy breaths as a bit of blood ran down her forehead. Despite that, however, she seemed to be fine.
"Impressive. You're still standing, or flying, even after coming into contact with my hard head!" Yoomtah knocked the side of her head twice, each time making a metallic sound. "That Epithet swap you did must've really helped you out."
Mera gritted her teeth. "Just tell me what you're doing here, Yoomtah."
"It's simple, I was looking for you."
"I was more than happy to just forget you ever existed. You could've gone on to do anything else, and I wouldn't bat an eye. But now, you've forced me to deal with you. Now, because you couldn't leave that damn thing alone, you and your entire family are going to face my wrath! The wrath of Bliss Ocean "
Mera's stance hardened. "Don't you dare get them involved..."
"Oh, wait, you actually have a family? I was just bluffing!" Yoomtah smirked with a laugh. "I thought you couldn't even have a family anymore thanks to that little injury you got!"
Mera clenched her fists. "Don't you dare go there..."
"Oh my, still salty about that little incident?" Yoomtah shrugged. "That was several years ago. I figured you'd have gotten over it by now. But guess I was wrong-"
Mera extended her hand forward and shot a web string, wrapping it around Yoomtah's body before spinning and slamming her against the ground, doing so just as Lori's reinforcements arrived.
She witnessed one of the officers place something on Yoomtah's body, but that was all he could do before she unleashed a row of electricity that stunned everybody for a brief moment.
A moment that lasted long enough for the cyborg robot girl to make her escape.
"Drat, she got away!" one of the officers yelled.
"Not necessarily," Lori said, rubbing her head. "Officer Flip, did you set the tracker?"
An older man nodded and revealed a small machine, with one dotted line flying away from their spot.
"Excellent, as long as she's got that tracker, we should be able to find out where Bliss Ocean's HQ is in no time."
Mera flew down to Lori's side, but the blonde's smile vanished as she noticed something about Mera's expression.
She was angry. Very angry.
"Officers, go back to the station. Keep an eye out on Yoomtah," Loro instructed. "I'll stay here and talk with our vigilante in private."
The cops quickly got the hint and went to their cars, driving away as Lori pocketed her hands and lead Mera to her own car.
Once inside, Lori took out a lollipop and offered it to the enraged woman.
"Lollipop? It's a special one that's surprisingly therapeutic to lick with all your literally might."
"... Did you know?"
Lori blinked twice.
"Yoomtah said that she was looking for me... and you told me to head here when you saw her..." Mera faced Lori and grabbed the lollipop. "Did you know about that, or was it just a coincidence?"
Lori hummed. "I bet you want me to say that this was all planned. That I somehow knew all along that Yoomtah was looking for you. But the truth of the matter, Mera, is that even if I could literally predict the future, Yoomtah would be looking for you even if we didn't know about it. After all, we both know you once held something very important for her business."
"That damn amulet," Mera growled.
"The Arsene Amulet is believed to be a key component of Bliss Ocean's ultimate goal, whatever that is. Anybody who'd even poke it for a second would be at the very top of their hit list. You just so happen to have a past with Yoomtah, so it was more personal."
Mera lowered her eyelids. "You checked my files, didn't you?"
"Every single little literally detail: name, origin, ethnicity... and of course, Epithet," Lori looked at Mera. "I found the last one to be quite shocking."
"Look, I can explain-"
"Don't bother, the police know: when you handed over the Arsene Amulet, an analysis was made to it where it was revealed it not only had Yoomtah's fingerprints, but yours and Lincoln's," Lori shrugged. "Comparing the info we had about you two made connecting the dots all the easier."
Mera lowered her head. "I'm sorry-"
"Before you start beating yourself up for the obvious, I wanna ask you a few things: did you force Lincoln to swap Epithets with you?"
"Were you on board or even okay with the idea?"
"With my Epithet? Not a chance."
"Did it even cross your mind that you could use the Amulet for such a purpose?"
"All I wanted to do was to get rid of that thing ASAP."
"And finally... was Lincoln against the idea?"
"He... encouraged it, to be honest. He was pretty stubborn about it, too."
"Then Mera, you're not a bad person. Nor are you a bad mother. It's just that things went out of your control," Lori smiled. "Besides, look at the literally bright side: Lincoln has been getting better at using his Epithet, he's safe and healthy, he's doing well at the school, and you have a new job that'll help you support your family."
Mera hummed... then frowned. "Speaking of family-"
"If you're not comfortable discussing it with me, don't force yourself to be. Everything has its moment: some arrive pretty quickly, some take months or even years, but there's always an appropriate moment. And this isn't it."
Mera looked at her lollipop, then put it on her mouth. "I think I should go back home. Unless you're going to pay me first."
Lori quickly reached for her pocket and took out a twenty dollar bill.
"Try not to get literally greedy with it, okay? Anyway, should I take you back home?"
"No offense, but I don't think I can return home in a police car without getting some odd looks from my neighbors," Mera opened the door and left. "I think I'll take the scenic route."
With that said, Mera bid farewell and flew off into the skies, wobbling around as Lori watched her leave with an amused smile.
The cop woman left the area, and Mera kept flying until she eventually saw her apartment in the distance. She got up and then glided slowly but surely to her window, flipping right inside successfully.
"Okay, that was a pretty rough landing," Mera sighed, taking off her helmet. "But at least I'm back home, where there's no crazy stuff happening."
Then she turned around, and saw Lincoln, Ronnie Anne, and Molly sitting at the table, looking at her with stunned expressions.
"Well, dang it."