"Greetings, Kaldur'ahm." Aquaman greeted me as I exited the zeta tube.

"Greetings, King Orin," I replied, raising my fist to my head in salute. Our interactions in Atlantis were always more formal than on the surface world, but that is only because here he is my king, and not just my friend. He motioned silently for me to follow him, an oddity, but I complied. it is not often you raise question to your king in his own palace.

As we swam through the decadent corridors I tried not to look outside. It had been many years since my last visit to Atlantis, on the day of Tula's passing. Whilst a sad day for myself, Garth took it much harder, and blamed me for her death. I do not believe that he has forgiven me for that, especially after my deep cover mission with Black Manta. I was not sure if even my king trusted me. Apparently my troubled thoughts on this matter were shared, because finally Orin Spoke.

"I hope you know that I do not blame you for your actions, Kaldur'ahm. What you did with Black Manta and the Light saved many lives, and I am proud of you for that."

"Thank you," I said, a small weight lifted from my chest. "Though I fear that not everyone will share your, open mindedness, to the matter." Orin stopped to look out upon the city, a sadness seeping into his face. He had been through much in the past few years. Many deaths and betrayals, including my own, had worn him down it seemed.

"I have sworn to protect the people of Atlantis at all costs, Kaldur'ahm. As king that is what you promise to those whom you rule over. You made that same promise when you took on the responsibilities of leading your team, so I cannot fault you for doing what you deemed necessary. But I must admit, I was not pleased when I first found out it all to be a ruse.

"Not many people were," I admitted. "Especially the team. They found it, difficult, to trust me again." Orin nodded.

"I understand their frustration, and can sympathize with their carefulness. But those sacrifices you were willing to make, they were king like, and that is why I called you back to Atlantis." He sighed, the shadows sprawled across his face aging him well beyond his years. "I cannot do all I once was able. With the death of my wife in childbirth, and raising a son of my own, my resolve to make the ultimate sacrifice is waning." He turned and place his hand on my shoulder. The pain that resonated in his eyes reminded me that of Artemis's the night Wally had died. This did not bode well for me with the message he was conveying.

"My king, what is it you are asking of me?" I feared what Orin was to say next, but while in Atlantis, he was still my king.

"I am asking you to stay in Atlantis, Kaldur'ahm. I need a warrior of the highest skill to

help protect it in ways I no longer can. Someone willing to give even their life to protect Atlantis. Will you do this for me?" I could not answer. The weight of the question bore down upon me as if the ocean itself were trying to crush me. What Orin asked of me, I could not do. Not while I still had responsibilities on the surface world. But he was still my king, and more importantly, my friend.

"What of the team?" I asked, hoping to show him I was needed more on the surface world than here. "Who is to lead them if I am not there? Nightwing is taking a leave of absence, and no one else is as capable of a leader as I."

"Perhaps, Kaldur'ahm, it is time you trained a new leader. I will give you the time to do so, but your skills are needed here. We will discuss this more at dinner tonight, which I am expecting you to attend." His tone gave me the notion that I if I failed to attend this dinner, the consequences would be severe.

"Yes my king."

That's it for now. It's been awhile since I've written anything, so just getting my feet wet again. Hope you guys liked it. I don't plan on it being any longer than 5 chapters at most, and probably shorter. But anyways, leave me some constructive criticism please, I'm trying to knock the rust off.