The Death Song.

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A young Siren takes vengeance on the crew of fishermen that killed her family. “Please no,” Salmare whispered in horror before he brought the makeshift weapon down upon them. Lina jerked violently in her arms and Salmare screamed. The shaft of wood lay embedded in her sister’s chest.

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A Day Like Every Other.

“Salmare!” Linna squealed, throwing her arms around her friend from behind and resting her chin on her shoulder. “Guess what?” she singsonged. Salmare looked up from the braid she was doing, tilted her head back and grinned showing perfect, white teeth.

“We have a ship,” Salmare stated. Linna nodded.

“But that is not the best part,” her adopted sister paused dramatically. Salmare rolled her eyes with fond exasperation.

“Joy said that you could come with us!” Linna said in an excited whisper. Salmare gasped and turned so that she was facing Linna. The tall slender figure of Joy stepped up behind Linna. Salmare looked up at the lead Siren’s smiling face.

“Is it true?” she asked in awe. Joy nodded with a small smile.

“I spoke with Hula and Linna and they both think that you have come a long way from the first time that we found you. I agree with them. It is time now for you to head out with us on a hunt.” Salmare looked at Linna, who nodded to her with a broad smile.

“I don’t know what to say,” Salmare replied, her eyes misting up.

“Just say yes” Linna laughed, pulling her into a one arm embrace, “It is going to be so much fun hunting with you. My job is going to be much easier with another Lure in the group.” The Sirens all laughed.

“Thank you for giving me the chance,” Salmare said, eyes still misty and throat feeling a bit choked with emotion, “You all didn’t have to keep me but I am really happy that you did.”

“Are you joking?” Linna replied with a gently smile, “Not keep you and miss out on having the most awesome adopted sister in the wide ocean? Never!”

Salmare felt her face twist into a ‘I am trying not to cry’ grimace and she pulled Linna into a hug. Linna hummed soothing tunes around her until she got herself back under control. She sniffed a bit and holding Linna out at arm’s length and gave her a bright smile,

“I am also looking forward to hunting with you sister.” Linna grinned back and her.

“Linna,” Joy said, her tone going from normal to her command tone, breaking up their little bonding moment, “Go and tell Hula that we will be there soon. I want to have a word with Salmare before we leave.” Linna shot Salmare an unreadable look before she spun away to give Joy a sloppy version of the navy salute that they had seen the humans do on their military ships

“Aye, Aye mi lady,” she said before running off. They could hear her voice echoing through the cave as she sang a jaunty sea shanty on her way to relay the message. Joy shook her head with a small amused smile on her lips. Salmare stood, twisting her hands nervously as Joy turned to her.

“The ship that we are going to hunt is a fishing vessel,” Joy said gently. Salmare inhaled sharply as a sudden rush of memories flooded her mind; her mother’s voice screaming shrill and high, her sister’s body being torn apart, the sea being a mess of turbulent water, blood and pain and then a pair of strong arms pulling her away from her family’s ruined corpses. The same pair of strong arms that were around her now, holding her together while her mind tried to tear her apart. She leaned into the arms and forced herself to breathe against the horrible tightness that held her chest and heart. Soon the room came back into view and she heard the soft, soothing coos of Joy and the felt the slight sway as Joy rocked her gently.

“It’s alright,” Joy sang softly, “It’s alright Salmare.” She choked back a sob and inhaled the familiar comforting scent of her savior.

“You don’t need to come if you don’t want to,” Joy said, her hand running stroke down Salmare’s thick black hair. For a moment Salmare wanted to take the offer and hide away here in the cave. She knew that no one would blame her or judge her harshly but she couldn’t turn away; wouldn’t turn away. It had been three long months of pain, grief and self loathing. It was time to take hold of herself and get back out there to repay these people that had taken her in and patiently help her through the most horrible time of her life. She shook her head and stepped out of Joy’s embrace.

“I want to come,” her voice came out watery and broken. She wiped away the tears that she didn’t realize that she had been crying and tried again. “I want to come.” This time her voice was stronger.

“My mother and sister were powerful hunters. What happened to them….” Her voice cracked and she took a deep breath before going on, “What happened to them was horrible. But me hiding away instead of moving on and becoming the best hunter I could be, would be a dishonor to their memory. I want to come. I want to make them proud. I want to make you all proud too Joy. You all have done so much for me, so much that I could never repay you all. So this; this I will do, this I want to do for them and for you.” Joy smiled a gentle smile and pulled her back into a warm embrace.

“I think you already have made us proud my dear,” Joy whispered into her hair. Salmare smiled and then the two parted.

“Thanks for everything Joy,” Salmare said.

“It has always been my pleasure,” Joy replied and then held her hand out, “Now come. We have some men waiting to for us to come take them.” At that they both smiled with elongated teeth flashing out and faces narrowing into their predator forms for a few seconds before melding back into ones of beautiful women.

“Joy? Salmare? Are you both done? We are awaiting your arrival,” Linna called, slowly poking her head into the room.

“Yes we are done,” Joy said as she extended her hand to Linna, who took it and shot a questioning look at Salmare as they exited their small cave home and onto the lovely bay that lay huddled within a hidden cove. Salmare nodded and smiled to show that she was fine. The still waters of the bay reflected the night sky like a mirror. Salmare inhaled the tangy salt air and felt her skin tingle in anticipation of the hunt.

At the water’s edge the final Siren that made up their small hunting group stood waiting; the short and compact Hula who was the group’s scouter.

“Ready for a good hunt?” Hula said placing her hands on her wide hips. Salmare nodded feeling a stir of excitement and apprehension in her stomach.

“Where is the vessel?” Joy asked.

“About an hour of solid travel northwest. They are caught in some doldrums near the Nine Sisters,” Hula responded, “If we want to get them, we should move now. I would not have been the only one scouting around that area and we don’t want to let out prey fall into other hands.”

Hula came over, took hold of Linna’s free hand and together they walked forward until the sea water lapped at their hips. They all looked to the heavens, lifted their joined hands and together asked the age old Blessing of the Sea.

“May the Ocean grant speed to our tails, sweetness to our voices and strength to our claws.” Joy then looked at each of them with the dull black eyes of her predator form.

“Let’s go sisters,” she growled, “The hunt is on.”

At those words Salmare moved out to the sea with the others and with a graceful curve of her body disappeared under the black water. Once underwater she shed her human form. Her face elongated and sharpened, nails grew into long claws and her legs merged into a thick serpentine tail. Small scales melted out onto her skin and slender, strong fins flicked out along her spine, her forearms and framed her face. The underwater world burst into amazing clarity as her predator senses took over. Joy was waiting in her own predator form; making a horrible vision in the darkness. Salmare swam over to her, Linna matching her movements; another graceful monster swimming through the gloom.

“Hula will be in the lead,” Joy told her. Hula grinned at her and with two powerful flicks of her tail was already disappearing into the darkness. Salmare could feel the wake of the gentle currents that Hula’s movements left behind and used them as a guide. The first few minutes of travel was taken up with Joy setting the pace behind Hula and them taking their flanking places beside Joy and getting used to moving in and reading each other’s wakes. Salmare felt a pang of sadness course through her at the familiarity of the process. Just a few months ago it was her mother setting the pace and her sister trading playful jests with her. Joy turned to her and nodded with a gentle smile, as if she had read her emotions. Salmare returned the smile albeit a bit tighter and swallowed down the tears that wanted to rear up. Just then the water temperature dropped a few degrees and Salmare felt her body give an instinctive shiver as she adjusted to the change.

“We’re out of the current field of our island,” Hula called, “Let’s turn on the speed sisters.”

Salmare and Linna shared an excited smile and they shot off after Hula. The travel was a bitter, sweet experience. It was great to swim again with other Sirens on a hunt. It was nostalgic; feeling the sea rushing past her skin, the ever changing smells of the ocean and the myriad of sea life passing them by. But every moment had a memory that reminded her of her mother and sister making her chest tight and making her feel guilty for having the chance the experience this once again when her family would no longer be able to. She shook her head slightly and forced the negative feelings away. She was not going to fall again into that mind trap. She felt someone’s wake brush against her skin and saw Linna come up next to her.

“”Are you alright sister?” she asked concernedly. Salmare was about to nod but decided to not lie.

“It’s a bit difficult,” she said softly, “I keep being reminded of them. But I won’t let those memories stop me from going through with this. My mother always said that you had to face up to your difficulties in order to overcome them.”

“You mother sounded like a really wise Siren,” Linna said kindly.

“She was,” Salmare agreed, “She really was.”

“Linna. Salmare. Come in closer,” Joy called.

“She’s going to discuss the hunt plan,” Linna told Salmare and peeled off to take flank Joy again.

“According to Hula the ship is stuck in doldrums near the Nine Sisters. She’s gone ahead to scout out which of the Nine would give us a good vantage point to sing. Once we get there, we’ll take a pass under their boat to see what kind of men we are dealing with. According to what we hear we will see if we will be setting up a Song Net or if we will be taking a more direct approach,” Joy laid out.

“If we are going along with the Song Net remember even when a man is under the Song, he can still break out if he finds the will. Once your prey is in range, strike quickly and fatally. Playing with your food can lead to it escaping or even worst can lead to you or your sisters getting hurt.”

“Sing, kill, eat,” Linna said, “Got it.” Joy rolled her eyes.

“What happens if they are prepared for us?” Salmare asked, remembering the sudden appearance of guns, spears and nets that had been the demise of her family.

“Then we will be finding another boat,” Joy said simply.

An uneasy silence settled over Salmare at the prospect of failing. Joy seemed to read her mind.

“We’ve done this hundreds of times Salmare and we have always come home with food. Having you with us, it will be even easier. So don’t worry alright? Come on sisters, let’s enjoy the rest of our swim. I’ll race you both to the Nine.”

This time Salmare tossed her uneasiness behind her for now and just concentrated on the the easy movements of her body, the happiness of being on a huunt and the laughter of her sisters as they ate up the distance.

Before long the empty waters began to smell of sealife and rotting vegetation. Fishes began to pass by, keeping well away from them while bits of leaves and sea weed brushed against their skin. Soon the dark shape of the first of the Nine Sisters Islands blossomed underwater. Hula faded into view, her body almost fully camouflaged in the murkier waters around the islands.

“We are in luck tonight,” Hula said with a grin, “It is a small fishing vessel, one sail and oars. Apparently they snagged a big fish earlier on and it took them for a ride. They ended up drifting here. They are already terrified. It should be easy pickings.” She was guiding them as she spoke towards the vessel.

“I also found a lovely spot to cast our Song net, if we going to do that tonight” Hula cooed, “wide enough for all of us to fit and a convenient ledge for our prey to climb up for the kill.”

“Excellent work sister,” Joy said, “Now let’s take a first look at our hunted.”

Hula nodded and dived, her thick gray-black tail making slow but powerful sweeps as she moved effortlessly down. She took them till the depth of the water made them invisible and then began swimming in a straighter line. Soon she pointed upward and began acceding in a long graceful spiral. As they neared the surface a small black shadow appeared and Salmare realized that it wasn’t a shadow at all but the bottom of the boat. She sucked in a deep calming breath and forced down the sudden rise of panic and fear. They kept going further upward until they could see the ripples of water moving outward from the boat. Hula motioned for them to stop and listen. Words drifted down to the them from the occupants of the boat above.

“This is prime Siren hunting water I tell you1” a frantic shrill voice shouted, “They could be anywhere. They could be beneath us right now!”

The four sirens shared an amused look and grinned at each other. Linna giggled a bit. Joy pressed a firm hand over her mouth and frowned. The looked up worriedly but the men were too occupied with their own thoughts. Linna mouthed that she was sorry. A deep young voice spoke up this time.

“As long as we keep our wits about us and our spirits strong, we will be fine. The doldrums here do not last forever. The wind will favour us soon.” There was a moment of silence and then another voice spoke hesitantly.

“And what happened if we do meet Sirens. What do we do, if they attack us?”

“Then we brace our wills and fight. Their Songs won’t work on us if we don’t give into the lure. I don’t know about you but I do not intend to be made a meal of,” the Young Voice replied with heat, “I have something to live for. Someone to get back to. No pretty sea maid of going to tempt me to leave my Anna, no matter how nicely she sings.”

There was a sprinkling of nervous laughter. Salmare felt a flash of anger and indignation. That Young Voice was making light their ability to hunt. She would take great pleasure in feasting on his flesh and seeing him realize the error of his statements. Joy pointed down and they dived.

“Seems we have a mix of wills among our prey,” she said, “We will have to mix up our plans of attack tonight. We’ll go the shelf and set up our Song net. Those who come to us will be taken before we move to the boat. The fear at seeing their comrades die will break their will somewhat and make them more pliable for our Song when we move in.”

They nodded and Hula led them, skirting close to the islands until they came to the one that she had scouted out. They clawed themselves up the side that offered the least visibility from the water and then out onto the rock that sat sung in the water. The rock placed them perpendicular to the boat, offering them precious moments of being unobserved by the five man crew to set up their Song Net.They had slipped back into their maiden forms with Joy in the centre, Hula sprawled on her left, Linn and Salmare curled around her right side.

As discussed, Hula began the Song Net.

As I walked by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the salt water and take the sea air
I heard an old fisherman singing a song
Won’t you take ma away boys me time is not long

She was a Relaxer, out a low, deep tune that coaxed prey into a state of calmness and created a false security. The men on the boat jerked as if they had been stung and looked around frantically, seeking out the source of the Song.

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

By the time they had tracked down Hula, their postures were already relaxed. One man gave a shout of surprise and happiness and pointed to them. Hula waved a hand at him. Linna joined in; her voice high and sweet.

Now Fiddler’s Green is a place I heard tell
Where the fishermen go if they don’t go to hell
Where skies are all clear and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

She was a Lure. Her honeyed tones made prey want to leave the safety of their boat and come to them. One man made a move to climb out but another man, grabbed his back, shouting something they could not hear. There were outraged cries from the others in the boat. Salmare joined Linna for the third stanza. She was also a Lure but her voice did not run as a high as Linna but was a rich, pleasant melody.

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

When you get on the docks and the long trip is through
Ther’s pubs and ther’s clubs and ther’s lassies there too
When the girls are all pretty and the beer it is free
And ther’s bottles of rum growing from every tree

The man who was being held back, shouted and took a swing at the man holding him. The man who had been holding him rose up and swiftly brought his fist down on the side of the other man’s head. The hit men went down to the floor of the boat and did not rise back up. There was a moment of utter silence from the boat and the man who had apparently knocked out the other, turned to them and shouted at them, his words coming across clearly.

“You will not take me from my Anna and you will not take these men from their families!” It was the Young Voice.

Salmare poured all her anger at this defiant prey into his song. She heard Joy hiss with anger and then she joined in.

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

Joy was a Command. Her powerful voice reinforced the power of the others. It Called to the prey, invoking emotions and was powerful enough to even make prey hallucinate. The men in the boat responded violently to Joy’s Command. All except the Young Voice. They began to chatter among themselves, pointing and shouting back at the Young Voice as he tried to save them. Then as if they had reached some unheard consensus, two men grabbed him while the other two jumped into the water. Salmare leaned forward mentally urging their prey forward.

Now, I don’t want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
I’ll play me old squeeze-box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging to sing me a song

The Young Voice, threw off the two men holding him, grabbed up an oar and swing violently, teeth bared. A thick woody noise echoed across the water as the plankn connected solidly with the head of one. As that man went down, the Young Voice jabbed the other in the stomach and then brought down the oar on the head of the other. He tossed the oar aside and dived out the boat and swam swiftly for the others.

Salmare growled in rage and they poured out their frustration in the last words of the song.

Wrap me up in me oil-skin and jumper
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you some day in Fiddler’s Green

The Young Voice made surprising time and grabbed a hold of one of the men and after some grappling, shouting and shaking; the two men began swimming back to the boat. That left just one man swimming towards, trapped in the Song Net. Joy screamed in rage.

“Salmare, take out the one coming to us. We will take care of that prey that seems to ready to escape. Go now!” They all dived, transforming into their predator forms and cutting through the water towards the men. Joy and the others passed by the lone man, knocking into him and throwing him off kilter. He went down, gulped in a bit of water and came back up sputtering. Salmare rushed at him and gutted him on one clean move. The man made a wet gagging noise and looked down at himself with a confused look. She drifted up to him, placed a finger under his chin and made him look at her. She had transformed her face back to a maiden. Blood was already dribbling out of the corner of his mouth.

“Please,” he gurgled, “It hurts.” Salmare smiled at him and leaned in to lick up a bit of the blood.

“I know,” she whispered in his ear, curling her claws around his throat, “I made it hurt.” She ripped her hand back and tore of a chuck of his flesh in his fist. His body jerked once and then sagged against her. She hummed happily and swam back to their rock with the body. She was securing it on the rock they had just exited when there was a human scream followed by a loud blast. She spun around to see Hula’s body withering, one arm flaying out and the other pinned to the boat. There was a white puff of smoke in the air and the Young Voice held a small pistol in his hand.

Her world spun violently and Salmare screamed. She dived into the water and made for Hula with all the speed she could muster. As she neared she realized that Hula’s body was no longer in her predator form and her skin was going chalk white.

“NO!!!” she screamed against, “Please no!” She grabbed Hula’s body and pulled her back from the boat. There was a loud cracking sound and Hula’s weight dropped against hers like a massive stone. She had already turned into coral. Half her face was gone.

“Hula!” Salmare wailed, as the weight of the body drove her downward. She saw Joy coming towards her, cutting through the water at a tremendous speed. Then Joy jerked to a stop as if she was pulled back by some invisible force. Her face was a mask of horror and sorrow. She screamed her sister’s name and dove towards them, taking hold of Hula’s broken arm but instead of pulling her up began to sink with her. Salmare’s chest was so tight she could barely breathe. Her eyes were blinded from the tears and she couldn’t stop the screams that were tearing out of her. Suddenly Joy tossed her head back and let out a long mournful wail that made shivers run down Salmare’s spine. She let go of Hula’s arm and with a burst of speed began heading for the surface. Salmare watched her thunder past Linna, who called out to her then turned and continued to them. Salmare’s heart broke even further when she saw Linna’s face morph in utter disbelief at Hula’s coral form.

The depth now was becoming too much for even them to bare. Salmare pressed a kiss to Hula’s remaining cheek and slipped out from behind her and turned to see the white form dropping even faster now. Linna screamed and dived for Hula.

“Wait Linna,” Salmare went after her, reaching her just as Linna was about to take hold of Hula. Linna screamed again in rage and fought her, scratching her skin with her claws and thrashing in her arms.

“I know! I know!” Salmare wept, “But you can’t go after her. You’ll die too!” Linna wailed as Salmare began to swim them back to the surface.

“No! Hula! We can’t leave her down there! We have to back and get her! Hula! Please Salmare,” Linna begged, “Please. That’s my sister down there. Hula! Hula!”

Salmare gritted her teeth at the pleading and kept swimming. Her own memories threatened to engulf her. The only thing that was holding her from going completely under was that she had to get Linna to safety. She had to keep her new family from being wiped out.

“She’s gone Linna,” Slamare shouted back brokenly, “Please stop fighting me. I can’t lose you too! Please Linna!”

Suddenly Linna sagged in her arms. Salmare swallowed her sob of relief. She forced herself to focus on the surface of the water but the thought of Hula’s body being crushed by the sea pressure, or that her mother and sister were both gone the same way or that Linna was now so still in her arms that she might as well have been dead too; refused to leave her. She screamed against the horrors of her mind and just as they were about to clear the surface, Joy’s lifeless form floated down in front of them.

Salmare felt the breath suck out of her and her body went numb as they broke out into the cool night air. There were fresh screams around her. They had come up next to the boat. The Young Voice was standing above her, his arms raised with a splintered oar shaft held over his head like a spear.

“Please no,” Salmare whispered in horror before he brought the makeshift weapon down upon them. Lina jerked violently in her arms and Salmare screamed. The shaft of wood lay embedded in her sister’s chest. Salmare began swimming towards the shelf of rock that had the body.

“I have to get her to food,” she chanted, even as Linna’s body grew heavy in her arms, “She’ll heal with food. I have to get her to food.” She finally reached the rock but as she tried to climb the shelf she felt a hand touch her cheek. She looked down to see Linna in her maiden form smiling up at her. She shifted to her own maiden form and leaned down to press her forehead against her sisters. It was rough to the touch.

“Salmare,” Linna gasped, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to go through this again.”

“No,” Salmare wailed, “You are not going to die. Food is so close. So close Linna,”

“No close enough,” Linna gagged, “I can feel myself hardening Salmare. You have…” she tried to take a breath but ended up choking instead. Salmare held her tighter.

“You have to live on. You have to make they pay for what they did to Hula, to Joy and to me,” Linna gripped her neck hard, “for what they did to you Salmare. Kill them for us. Promise me!”

Her face already going chalk white. Slamare looked into her eyes as they turned into coral.

“I promise you sister,” she said, “I promise you.”

Salmare let her go and watched her body disappear into the darkness as she wrapped her arms around herself. She lay huddled against the rock and screamed and screamed.

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