Absolute Depths by Red-Rum-18
Between the years of 1946 and 1958, the Bikini Atoll, a section of the Marshall Islands, was subjected to various nuclear detonation tests conducted by the United States government. They believed that all of the residents of the atoll were successfully relocated before commencing the first detonation... they were wrong.
Deep beneath the waves of the Micronesian islands lied Tlapallan, a colony separate from the mythical empire of Atlantis. There was an Atlantean child born there who was born with severe mental afflictions, but the high priests believed the boy to be cursed; the parents protected and sheltered their son Kaldur'ahm for years, before Tlapallan was destroyed by the surface world's nuclear tests. Kaldur lost his parents, and the remaining survivors believed him, and only him, to be the cause of the disaster! The boy was chased out the region until he was caught, and when he was he was beaten, tortured, and left to die. Kaldur's last image of his past was seeing the Atlantean king Atlan Kor'Dax Marius seemingly ignoring the dying child...
Jump to 2013, in the city of Atlantis. There long had been whispers of revolution against the Atlantean royal family, and now the time came! Armed revolutionaries, fueled by fury against the monarch for trying to forge peace with the surface worlders, whom they still see as a threat, attacked Atlantis. As they pillaged the city, the troops loyal to Atlan Or'yn Marius, son of Kor'Dax, rallied against them. Councilman Vulko pleaded with his student and Atlan to remain in the palace, but Or'yn couldn't bear the though of innocents under threat and became adamant about leading his soldiers into battle. The battle was long and treacherous but the royal military won in the end. But now a new problem arose: the Atlan has disappeared! The troops were too occupied arresting the rebels to begin investigation immediately, so Prince Orm, Or'yn younger brother, had no choice but to assume the throne until further notice.
Or'yn awoke in severe pain; his throat had been slashed. He was still alive but incapable of speech. He then noticed that his scalped had been sheared of his hair-like spines and his ears and nose had been pierced. His identity had been radically altered and he was unable to make his true identity known; in fact, he was being transported to the prison colony Xebel with the rebels he was just fighting against, and they claimed his true identity was “Rodunn, right-hand man of (rebel leader) Nwmo”.
As this began, councilman Vulko and Garth, Or'yn own student, began their own investigation into his disappearance, against the advice of acting king Orm. Vulko looked into the city block where the Atlan was last seen, and, evading the royal investigators, discovered a series of claw-marks against the stone walls of an alley, which were flecked with metal fragments. Going on a hunch, Garth decided to spy on Orm himself.
Meanwhile, inside Xebel, Or'yn was subjected to torturous hazing and threats of violence at the hands of the other prisoners. These were some of the deadliest criminals the undersea nations faced, such as The Siren, a manipulative black widow, Nanaue the King of Sharks, and The Thirst, who corrupted Atlantean tech for his own sick purposes. Just when Or'yn though he suffered the worst of it, his own hand was severed at the wrist by a sadistic terrorist named Kary'bdis!
As Garth spied on Orm, he managed to find a good hiding spot in his bedchambers as the acting Atlan had a conversation with someone, a conversation he didn't want known. This second participant had dark skin, black quills, and red scales, along with high-tech armor (perhaps this explains the claw marks?). Orm revealed to the hidden Garth that he and this “Manta”orchestrated the revolt and Or'yn disappearance so Orm could have the throne. Orm reports to Manta that he has just learned of a secret tryst between Or'yn and Mera Dethalis, director of the Xebel prison. “If she remains alive any longer, he'll recognize him and our plan is undone!" Manta swam off to the Xebel prison, with Garth in hot pursuit.
Mera was attacked in her dark office by Manta, just as she was about to see to “a detainee with a severed hand”, but Garth arrived in time to defend her. They crashed through the office wall into the security hub, damaging the controls to the cell doors. The prisoners escaped and began rioting, and the guards struggled to quell them. Mera was attacked but “Rodunn” saved her; she looked into his eyes and knew instantly that he was really her love Or'yn. Shoving a hooked shiv into his severed wrist, Or'yn the Aquaman battled against the Manta and won. Defeated, Manta explained he wanted revenge against the Atlan line because Or'yn's father left the young Kaldur for dead after the decimation of Tlapallan. Manta also admitted the Or'yn brother Orm helped him so he could gain control of the throne.
Or'yn reclaimed the throne, and his voice, and Orm was locked up in Xebel with Manta and the corralled prisoners for his betrayal.
* Because I chose Manta (and JUST “Manta”) to be Atlantean, I gave him his son's Atlantean name Kaldur'ahm; if Absolute Manta were to have a son, he would be “Kaldur'ahm II”.
* Instead of the dumb helmet, he has a half-face plate with a red eye lense. His armor also features various hidden weapons, a prehensile tail, and propulsion fins (based on his mutated form from the original comics).
* I chose Tlapallan as the birth city of Kaldur the Manta because, according to the wiki, it was “populated by a sub-species of onyx-skinned Atlanteans”.
** The Atlanteans don't know the surface world was responsible for Tlapallan's destruction.
* In Absolute DC, Kor'Dax is the father of Or'yn and Orm, but he was a cruel and abusive father.
* See Aquaman's bio for info on Atlantis forging peace with the surface world: red-rum-18.deviantart.com/art/…
* Manta ambushed Or'yn in an alley and drugged him in the midst of the giant battle so he could mute him and alter his face.
** Manta also had “rebels” pretend that Or'yn was another man.
* “Rodunn” was an actual character from the original comics.
* “Nwmo” is also known as “Lord Nemo” (named for the submarine captain, not the clown fish).
* The Siren, real name Hila, is Mera's sister.
* Kary'bdis is a normal-looking, if overly-muscular, Atlantean instead of a piranha monster.
* Manta originally wanted to imprison both Or'yn and Orm, but Orm convinced him that the ATLAN should be held responsible for Kor'Dax's actions, and Or'yn is the real Atlan.
* Mera doesn't have a last name in the main comics, so I lifted on from an alien from the Darkstars.
* When Or'yn retook the throne, not only did doctors restore his voice, but gave him a cybernetic prothesis that allowed him to manipulate water into a hand (and other shapes).
* It is later reported that Orm escaped from Xebel, and is currently in hiding...