Mylene lies on her nest-ledge, picking at her teeth with a small fishbone. She hates the feeling of fabric in between her fangs. She snarls around the bone and Yolanda laughs from her perch next to her.
“That’s what you get for biting where they’re wearing clothing. Go for bare skin, then you won’t have to deal with this.”
Mylene sighs, throws the bone to the side.
“I know, I just hate dragging it out. If I bite their torso they die faster. I don’t like listening to them scream.”
“We got over it after a while. But you’re nicer, so maybe you never will.”
Regina pops up, crawling up from sea level.
“Or you could just go for their neck. It’s the quickest way, and they usually aren’t wearing anything on their neck. The best of both worlds.”
Mylene sighs, she’s not enthused about that option. Then they’d bleed so much.
Regina settles onto the ledge, intertwining their tails.
“Well, I’ve got some good news to cheer you up. The mermen are coming to visit, they’ll be here soon.”
Yolanda cheers but Mylene frowns, confused.
Yolanda calms and begins to explain.
“Yess, mermen. They’re a herd, just like us, but with male members. They live a ways off but swim over to visit sometimes.”
Mylene still doesn’t understand.
“I don’t understand. If we’re created by taking woman who are suffering at the hands of men and making them more powerful, how can there be men like us?”
“They’re created from men who are suffering at the hands of men as well. Usually this is because they love men instead of women, or maybe just because they don’t fit the version of masculinity that society expects.”
Mylene nods, finally understanding. Being with Yolanda and Regina has opened her eyes to a whole new world, one not restrained by society’s rules.
“I’m excited to meet them!”
Just then a warbling cry of excitement goes up, mostly coming from the mermaids on the lower ledges. When they lean over to peer at the water at the base it’s filled with mermen, bobbing with the movement of the waves.
Regina dives off the ledge and Yolanda follows, shouting to Mylene:
“Let’s go meet them!”
Mylene follows them down. She’s still overjoyed by the way the air rushes past her as she falls, by the way the water embraces her when she hits it, by the way her tail feels as she pushes through the waves. It’s all so new and wonderful.
She’s quickly in the crowd, their tails moving slowly beneath the surface, sometimes brushing together. She’s nervous, even though all mercreatures are kind and won’t be impolite to her. Fortunately, Regina and Yolanda reappear a moment later, pulling two mermen behind them. She looks them over as they approach.
The first one is white, with long blonde hair that falls in wet stands around his shoulders. His tail is a glimmer of gold hiding underwater, like a flash of lighting seen out of the corner of your eye. His blue eyes shine like the sea when the sky is clear, and he smiles at her.
The second one is black, his hair cropped short. His tail is a dazzling ruby red, like arterial blood spilling out into the waves. Thick, silver scars run over his tail, as if he’d been attacked by something. Mylene wonders what could do so much damage to a merperson, but doesn’t dare ask. He’s less expressive, but his lips turn up at the corner and his dark eyes shine as he looks at her.
“Mylene, meet Thor and Shao. Guys, meet Mylene. She’s our new wife.”
Shao gives her a charming grin and jokes:
“Damn Regina, you must be doing something right. Two lovely wives already?”
Mylene giggles and blushes. She’s still not used to being complimented by men nicely, but she much prefers it to the alternative. She’s shaking Shao’s hand, his grip comfortably tight, when another warbling cry goes through the herd.
The merfolk turn towards the merperson who shouted, their tails churning the water in their excitement. Some lick their lips or do a quick vocal warmup, preparing for their next kill. Mylene feels the familiar mix of excitement and regret as she thinks of the doomed sailors on board.
The merperson who shouted the warning, who she now recognizes as Carmelita, goes tearing past them and towards the merqueen of their pack. Misty looks down at her, lips slightly downturned with concern as she takes in the mermaid’s frantic rush.
“What is it, Carmelita?”
“The ship is fat and ripe with men, my Queen. But it is also heavily armed. We may lose many if we attack blindly.”
Misty shifts, her long iridescent tail curling around her rocky throne. She looks out over the combined forces of her pack and the merman pack, their heads bobbing in the waves as they await her orders.
“We will send a scout to prepare us for the attack. As our honored visitors, the mermen may send one of their warriors. Who will the honor fall upon?”
Shao raises his voice:
“I believe Thor had first kill this hunt, your majesty.”
She nods, and waves him towards the oncoming ship, still obscured by fog.
“Very well. May you swim swiftly and your fangs be sharp, Thor. ”
Mylene pushes down a pang of jealousy and turn to congratulate Thor on being so vital to bringing down such a large ship. Shao is already patting him on the back, grinning proudly. Mylene joins Regina and Yolanda is wishing him well. He grins, baring his fangs and tossing his hair, before he dives deep and swims into the fog.
Only once the last shimmer of light reflecting off his tail has faded do the merfolk return to their visiting. They’re all twitchy, the bloodlust awoken in them. Regina and Yolanda take Shao to their nest ledge to continue filling him in on their new marriage. Mylene listens politely to their chatter and tries to ignore the gnawing hunger in her stomach. Now that she knows there’s prey around, it won’t stop until she’s fed.
They’ve talked for hours, stopping to snack on some fish, which does nothing to satisfy their lust for man-flesh. The sun has risen above their heads, turning Shao’s powerful tail into glittering rubies and burning off the fog. The ship has moved slightly closer, but still out of visual range. But with the fog gone, Mylene can see it much better. She looks at the colorful markings on it’s sides with unease and tugs on one of Yolanda’s fins.
“Does that ship look a little strange to you?”
All three turn to look at it, Yolanda and Regina squinting to look but not seeing anything concerning. Shao however, stiffens as if he’d been shocked by an electric eel, gasping in shock. Mylene feels the unease blossom into full concern and asks him worriedly:
“What’s wrong, Shao?”
He stares at it horror, one of his hands falling to his waist to rub at the scar rippling over his hip.
“It’s a trawl ship.”
Regina frowns, shakes her head, hair whipping around her face with the angry movement. She doesn’t want to accept the fear she sees in his face.
“What does that mean? I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
Shao grits his fangs, his jaw muscles pulled tight enough that Mylene can see them twitch. She hopes he doesn’t accidentally bite himself; she’d accidentally shredded her own lips a few times before she got used to her fangs.
“They’re a small fleet, but deadly. Thor’s in terrible danger!”
Yolanda, always the voice of reason, jumps in.
“How do you know?”
Shao snarls, spits out the words:
“Because I’ve met her before.”
Mylene feels dread trickle down her spine as she asks, not quite knowing if she wants an answer.
It takes him a couple moments to speak, and when he does, it’s with such immense fear and hatred that Mylene shivers: