1964-09-05 - Pool Party Politics
Summary: Crystal encounters Bucky and Kai at the pool at Avengers Mansion.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
bucky kai crystal 

So, the pool's heated….which means that even if they're heading into autumn, there's a Winter Soldier in there as often as he can be. The metal arm doesn't seem to rust, after all. Buck's in a dark t-shirt and swim trunks, treading water easily in the deep end….just gazing up at the skyline rather dreamily, and not paying particular attention to his surroundings.

Crystal has been scarce lately. It turns out that being a princess who is not in exile requires a great deal of responsibility. And while she's made sure that the important details here and elsewhere have been seen to, she hasn't exactly been present at the mansion much in the last few weeks. Now that she finally has a moment to breathe, though, she's determined to at least enjoy the pool. She's wrapped in a robe as she steps out onto the roof, brows rising in surprise to find someone else already there.

At first, a pleasant smile curves, ready to greet…until she gets a glimpse of the actual features. "You?!" she exclaims, at which the water around him is suddenly spinning like a vortex, starting to lift him from the pool.

Oh, crap. This is no good. Buck's immediately trying to fight his way out of the whorl of water. "Hey," he says, "Hey, put me down. Steve invited me here, I didn't sneak in." Like a Russian assassin's going to creep in just to use the pool. It's definitely the face she saw so many times in Vietnam….just with much longer hair, and that bizarre metal arm.

The water falls away, but it's replaced with bands of air as hard as steel, holding him in place. In the air. At eye level with the young woman who walks up to the edge of the pool. "With all due respect to the Captain, being invited by Steve is not a guarantee of innocence," she notes, words dry. In fact, he might notice that when the water fell, all of it fell away from him, leaving him dry as well.

"Who are you?" she asks, crossing her arms over her chest as she eyes him critically.

That…..even as he's held up in what's apparently nothing, not even dripping….he grins. "Fair enough," he concedes, with that wry little curl to his lips. "Yeah, Steve's a soft-hearted guy. I'm James Barnes. I've been Steve's friend since we were kids. But….I was captured by the Russians at the end of the second World War. They brainwashed me and used me as an assassin."

Crystal does not quite look convinced yet. Bucky is being held above the water in bands of air, keeping him at eye level for Crystal as she stands at the edge of the pool in a robe. "And either extended your life-span or found a way to keep you in suspension as well, it seems," she replies, head tilting. It's only then that she really takes in the arm, quirking a brow.

"And here I thought prosthetic technology was limited. What were you doing in Vietnam, James Barnes?" She asks questions like someone who's used to having them answered. For that matter, she holds herself like she's in control of the situation despite the fact that she's wearing a robe. Then again, she does seem to have control of the situation.

Kai ambles up from downstairs, dressed in swimming trunks with a towel slung over his shoulder. He's learned since the talking to at the beach awhile ago that one always wears swimming trunks when nominally in public, even if one is merely trying to share one's grandeur with the world. He spies Crystal and Bucky, and his relaxed demeanor changes. "Woah, uncool, chick. We don't suspend guests in the air in this house." Then to Bucky, "You can't stop making the ladies get all over you, can you?"

"They froze me between missions," he says, easily. "Though….even before them, the Germans got me in the war, and did some work on me, too. Which is why I think I survived what the Russians did - and the German work might've extended my lifespan. I…..I kinna got taken there." Then there's Kai, and Bucky's turning his face to the elf, hopefully. "I told her Steve invited me," he says, plaintive.

"I saw this man…" Crystal half-turns toward Kai, though the grip on Bucky doesn't waver. "Well. This man, and several who were uncannily like him, during a battle in Vietnam. The majority of them were not on our side. And we all know that Steve vouching for someone is a guarantee only that Steve thinks there is a chance for them," she adds, looking between the pair. "Which…is one of his better qualities."

She sighs, then gently lowers Bucky back into the water, releasing the bands of air around him. "I'm Crystal," she introduces herself.

"That man's my friend," Kai says, not particularly aggressive, but he's definitely invested in this. "He's been cleared by Steve, and he's been cleared by all the secret organizations I'm not supposed to know about that take care of things like him. He's safe now." He lays a hand to his chest and says, "I see this cat almost every day. He lives with me. I've seen him through thick and thin. I swear on my mother's name he's not evil-James." As Bucky is lowered into the water, Kai offers a hand to Crystal. "I'm Kai," he says amiably. "You've met Bucky here."

"Pleased to meet you," says Bucky, swimming forward until he gets to a depth he can stand in. His upper body's still dry. "The guys in Vietnam….they seem to be clones of me," His voice is so carefully level, his expression calm to the point of being masklike. Which of course telegraphs just how upset he actually is. "And…yeah, Kai's helped me out, including taking me in off the street. He knows."

Crystal takes the offered hand in a polite grip. "My apologies. I am a bit…sensitive on the matter of Vietnam at the moment. I've been meaning to make some calls, actually, but I thought I would try to relax for a bit first." She pauses mid-shake, giving Kai a closer look. "You…are not from around here, are you?" she asks, a faint smile flickering.

"Yeah, things are getting rough over there," Kai says. "Do you think there's going to be a war?" He slings his towel aside, and he splooshes into the water gracelessly but with pure delight. Then he surfaces shaking water free of his curls, and he grins up at Crystal like the sun coming out from behind clouds. "Nope," he says. "I'm from Alfheim." Apparently in Avengers' Manor, he doesn't keep his secrets too well.

That's got Bucky looking rueful. He attracts powerful redheads and blonds who are too open-hearted for their own good. "I think there already is, really," he says, softly. "And I don't blame you. I can tell you, I got a hell of a turn, seeing those guys there."

"A beautiful place," Crystal smiles warmly at Kai's admission, finally relaxing enough to step over to a lounge chair and shed her robe, revealing the dark blue bikini beneath it before she steps down into the pool. "I was lucky enough to visit once, and I think it would be my pleasure to return again some day. Though the matter may be slightly complicated. Maybe. Or not. One of the primary reasons I needed to relax before making calls," she sighs.

"There may already be a war there, but it looks as though there may be worse things coming as well. And I believe they're all related to a much larger threat. The reason I was in Vietnam at all."

Kai perks up. "My grandmother owns a winery and vineyard there in the Moonlit Vale. She makes Firefly wine." A specialty of the moon elves. "Bucky and I are going to go someday, and I'm going to bring back some wine." He frowns when war is mentioned. He glances to Bucky. "We might get to fight in the same unit yet." He swims to the edge of the pool so he can fold his arms upon it and rest his chin there. "What can we do?" he asks Crystal.

Of course Bucky looks grim. He nods at Crystal. "Worse things? Like what?" he asks, voice soft, as he comes to rest his arms on the edge of the pool….after a ducking to get his hair wet again. That mention of the trip to Alfheim makes him smile, despite himself. It'll be muchbetter than his first visit to the realm of elves.

"Well, I'm going to need to visit the Asgardian Embassy," Crystal smiles ruefully to Kai. "Which will likely be awkward, as I've not seen Thor more than once or twice since we decided the whole courtship issue was…best left alone. Thus, awkward. But." She floats easily in the water, legs stretched out in front of herself with just her head and shoulders above the surface.

"You may recall there were some unusual transmissions in Vietnam?" she asks with a look to Bucky. "They're of Kree and Inhuman origins. Which I realize likely requires some explanation." A faint smile quirks, and she looks upwards, ordering her words.

"Millennia ago, when humanity was just becoming human, an alien race visited this planet: the Kree. They were advanced, and engaged in a war with their ancient enemies, the Skrulls. But while the Skrulls were able to evolve and adapt, the Kree were not. And so the Kree experimented on the inhabitants of this planet, attempting to mingle their DNA with it to create soldiers for their war. They were the first Inhumans. In time, though, the Kree were forced to leave, and the ancient Inhumans rebelled. We fled to our safe hold, the city of Attilan, and have since kept to ourselves."

Crystal takes a deep breath, forcing it out slowly. "Recently though, our king's powers became…unpredictable. We were forced to explore some of the ancient sites in order to find a means of controlling them. And it seems we may have awakened some very old systems. We intercepted a transmission just yesterday. The Kree are returning."

"Thor is an Asgardian of honor," Kai says. "He won't let something like that stop him from rendering Asgard's aid if it's needed." Of this he seems entirely confident. He pushes off the edge of the pool and floats lazily on his back. "Woah," he murmurs, "that's heavy. I take it humanity isn't ready for that kind of threat? Prince Thor likes Midgard. I don't dare speak for him, but I could see him motivated to help. It's worth asking after, anyway."

That has Bucky going pale. "You're talking some War of the Worlds type stuff, aren't you?" he asks, straightening and resting his hands on the pool deck. A quick glance at Kai. "REady? Not even close," he says. "We're still fighting amongst ourselves."

"Loki rather forced the issue when he went on television," Crystal grimaces to Kai. "So humanity has had to make some large adjustments already. Whether or not they're ready for the knowledge that some of us have been here for a very long time has been a topic of much discussion in Attilan of late."

She looks back to Bucky, shaking her head slightly. "We don't know for certain why they're coming, how much of a show of force they'll make, or even what they'll be looking for. It could be a single scout ship looking for only one of us. Or it could be an armada intending to take all of us and the Earth be damned. But we'll need to be prepared for the worst."

Kai frowns faintly, then he says, "For what it's worth, that Loki is effectively dead. The Loki of now… it's complicated, hard to explain." How does it put this for non-Asgardians in a way they'll understand. "When he died, another was reborn through something that would probably seem like magic to you guys. Loki reborn comes from a time before any of that stuff happened." Of course he needs to defend his sweet baboo. He finds himself doing it a lot. To Bucky, he says, "Nothing creates a unified world like someone trying to destroy it."

Bucky snorts laughter. "I hope it won't come to that, but….yeah," he notes. "I….." He gives up, hauls himself out of the water. At least he doesn't shake like a dog. Instead, he snags his towel, starts drying himself off. "What about the Inhumans? Can they take on the Kree?"

Crystal smiles ruefully back at Kai, lifting one shoulder in a shrug. "My understanding of Loki is that it wouldn't even take some sort of complicated magic and rebirth for him to be a new person. It's simply who he is. But that does explain why he didn't recognize me." One mystery solved, at least. And hey, she has some practice at dealing with the family prince that you just have to accept. "Whether or not we can handle the Kree depends on a number of factors," she answers Bucky. "How many of them there are, for one. What sort of firepower they bring. If they come in secret or if they reveal themselves to the world. And most importantly, if the Genetic Council will allow it, given the risk that we might expose ourselves in the process."

Kai nods as best he can while floating in the water. "He didn't recognize you because he hadn't met you yet." He considers, then says, "The Avengers are supposed to handle threats like this. Maybe we can do something. I'll do whatever I can. I like the Earth. I don't want to see it destroyed. It's where I keep all my stuff."

Bucky just gives Kai a look, at that. "We definitely need to tell Cap. He's saved the world before, he can do it again," And thus do we see exactly how far Bucky's faith in Steve extends. HE sits down on a deck chair, shoulders slumped.

"Well, he is certainly on the list," Crystal assures Bucky. "The Avengers, which includes several former ACT-F members. Asgard. SHIELD. The X-Men. I've at least a few connections in each place, and I think that most would be willing to believe me about the threat. The complication then becomes everyone trying to decide what to do," she grimaces. "And just how many people then need to know about us."

Kai returns Bucky's look. What. Spot the lie. "What's ACT-F?" he asks. "I'm new to Avenging." Then he adds, "I see you know of all the organizations I'm not supposed to know about, too." He approves of this. "I mean as far as I'm concerned, you're people in peril, and that's all we need to know."

He also looks blank, at the mention of ACT-F….though there's that little line between his brows that usually indicates he's trying to drag something up out of memory. "Good," he says, softly, to Crystal's explanation.

"A disbanded group," Crystal answers Kai. "Formed by the government when the first threat of Kree and Skrull appeared here. A joint task force between the United States and Russia to act in defense against aliens. We considered the threat dealt with, but it seems that decision was premature."

Kai nods slowly and says, "Oh, well, that's going to be tricky. The Reds and the Feds aren't exactly on speaking terms right now. Don't get me started on the government." His expression borders on mutinous. "Just tell them the Kree are redder than the Ruskies and you'll see some results. Meanwhile hungry people continue to go unfed." Grrr. Hippy Hulk smash!

Bucky just looks bland. Like you do, when you're one of the points of contention on exactly that front. "Well, clearly they'll have to reactivate them…"

"That," Crystal shakes her head, "Is not my decision to make. In truth, telling so many organizations what coming isn't my decision to make either, but Blackagar isn't really one for talking, he and my sister have managed to bungle everything they were meant to be, and the Genetic Council is likely to take another century to decide if we should come out to humanity, so I'm just…acting."

Kai admits, "I don't know who that is." He swims to the edge of the pool and pulls himself out dripping his way to his towel. "Sometimes that's what you've got to do," Kai says. "You see the need and you act. Cleverly, sure. Tip the stakes Asgard's way, the Avengers' way, let them do what they will with the information. Your hands are clean. I get it." He flops onto a lounger beside Bucky, then he goes about pulling the water out of his hair with a tugging gesture, molding it into a sphere about the size of a golf ball, which he then splashes on Bucky. Super powers used for dickery.

IF only he knew who that was….it might make him explode in a cloud of jealousy. But that's a name Bucky's never heard, even if he suspects that presence on the other side of a certain redhead. Super powers Bucky's never really noticed before - he frankly stares at Kai, not so much in outrage as bemusement.

Crystal's lips quirk at the play of water, feeling it as much as seeing it. "My cousin," she clarifies for Kai. "The once and future king, if you'll forgive the poetics." She swims smoothly to the edge of the pool, folding her arms on the concrete to watch both of them. "Once for certain," she adds more quietly. "The future is somewhat less certain of late."

Kai smiles at Bucky. "Gotcha," he says. "Oh, poetics are fine," he tells Crystal. "I'm an elf. I only talk like this because it's habit, blending in, man, speaking the lingo of art and love. Dig me?" He clears his throat, then says, "However, when called upon so to do, I can speak in as courtly a fashion as any denizen of the higher realms." Then he shrugs off that ill-fitting mask and sounds like himself again. "There will be a future, or we'll die fighting for it."

He's still gazing at Kai, more thoughtfully now. "I can't wait," Buck says, after a beat, "To see who you are in Asgard and Alfheim." The image makes him smile one of those tiny smiles. Then he looks to Crystal. "….you guys have a king? Why?"

"Oh, it's less the presence of a future that's in doubt and more whether or not Blackagar will claim is place," Crystal smiles ruefully to Kai. "We retook the city after Maximus' reign, but even still, it was more because the rest of us pressured him than because he was driven for himself. And of course with his powers lately, we can't really blame him for going into seclusion again." Although it sounds like she might, just a little bit.

"We have a king because the house of Agon was so loved," she shrugs to Bucky. "We haven't always had a king. Usually it's the Genetic Council that rules our people. Even with a king, they're a force to be reckoned with."

Kai regards Bucky with a tilt of his head. "An angel," he tells Bucky, but the look in his eyes when he says that, and his smile, imply he might mean the fallen kind. "I've met a Maximus," he mentions, but he doesn't seem to think anything of it. Lots of people named Maximus in a huge multi-verse, right? Of course he doesn't question why there's a king. They've got those where he's from.

Bucky's grin goes crooked, at that. "I'm sure," he says, fondly. Then he's nodding at Crystal, and stretching out on the deck chair, lazily.

"If you met him here, then that is most likely my cousin," Crystal smiles faintly to Kai, starting to step up out of the pool. Water sluices smoothly off of her as she steps out, leaving her perfectly dry.

Kai's brows lift. "He was a king? A deposed king? Those are even more interesting! No offense to your undeposed king, and the troubles he's having. I hope he gets better soon." He sits up, suddenly interested in dirt. "So what happened? Was he really deposed or did he abdicate?"

HE's left cigarette and lighter on the table….so Bucky's lighting up,and then offering around the pack of Luckies. In case someone else wants one. But he's listening with idle curiosity.

"He could have continued to fight," Crystal allows. "But it wouldn't have ended well for him. Our family - those of us whom he'd exiled - returned, along with a few of the X-Men. We fought. And in the end, the Genetic Council made the deciding step. They declared that we would all depart, to find what we could of this world, and report back to them. It was very…" She smiles faintly, rueful. "Practical, of them."

"Ah, I see," Kai says, and if he's disappointed it wasn't more of an interesting chaotic fray, he's polite enough not to show it. He snags one of the cigarettes, muttering, "Nice training wheels, Barnes, let me know when you switch to the big boy brands." He winks, takes a puff, and exhales. To Crystal, he says, "Who decides who get on this council?"

Bucky snorts at him. "I don't have enough brain cells left to be killing them off willy nilly," he tells Kai, as he drags the ashtray closer with a fingertip.

Crystal summons up a light breeze, directing the cigarette smoke away from herself and cleaning the air as well, a faint hint of ozone around them. "Each house elects its representative to the twelve," she answers Bucky. "In practice, it tends to be elders, but there's no law that says it must be. And of course, they are usually scientists. The council generally serves a legislative and judicial function, but they also decide if someone is suitable for- Well, they are call the genetic council for a reason."

Kai grins at Bucky. Then he returns his attention to Crystal. He takes the hint of her moving and tilts his head aside to exhale away from her further still. "I was wondering about it being called the Genetic Council. It's not some freaky Nazi shit, is it? I mean what happens if you're not suitable?"

Speaking of freaky Nazi shit. The local representative gives Kai a look, past his wreathing of smoke, but doesn't comment. The scent of ozone makes him sniff, curiously.

"It is…" Well, there's the conversation Crystal's carefully avoided having with Erik for over a year now. "A little bit," she finally confesses as she settles onto a lounge, holding two fingers an inch apart. "Though certainly not on so specious a basis as religion. And we're not in the habit of killing people. There are reasons to be cautious about our genetics. Not the least being the constraints of being a small society without the option of marrying out. A certain amount of control is advisable to prevent excessive inbreeding."

"Oh, they decide who does and doesn't get to reproduce," Kai says. "That's far from exterminating entire peoples based on their alleged genetic suitability." This he can accept. To Bucky, he says, as though the soldier needs a translator, "They're just preventing inbreeding." He takes a drag off his cigarette then adds "Excessive inbreeding."

"That'd be a good reason to let yourselfbe known to earth at large," Buck muses. "Get some new blood in. God knows the mutants've been proliferating."

For some reason, Bucky's comment brings the faintest flush to Crystal's cheeks. "Yes. Well." She clears her throat, looking away. "There are certainly those who are in favor of such. But other are just as concerned that we not. Part of the genetic council's work is also screening for the likelihood of powers that would be…unfavorable."

"That's got to be handy," Kai says. "Some way of screening those out. I'm assuming powers like setting people on fire just by standing next to them? That would make waiting for a bus awkward, to say nothing about being on the bus." He shakes his head. Then he asks, "How do you guys handle dating?"

"Not nearly so casually as people here," Crystal answers Kai, rueful. "We learn to be cautious with our hearts. The Genetic Council must approve a union, so we take care to make sure it would be a suitable match before we give our hearts. But on the other hand…" She reaches up to rub a hand at the back of her neck. "The idea that procreation can be controlled, as controversial as it is here, is commonplace in Attilan. So no one need be concerned that they'll have a child by mistake. Which is good, as that's limited as well, of course."

"Wait, so even if you're a match you still need the go-ahead before you can have a sprog?" Kai says. "Don't get me wrong, I think birth control should be standard issue here. I'm lucky I'm unlikely to create any unwanted little ones. I was an accident and, let me tell you, they never let me forget it."

"Mmm. Limited space, limited population. Two children per couple." It's all quite practical, the way Crystal says it. "Accidental conception is rare. Accidental birth? Practically unheard of. Evolution was a purpose of our creation. We believe that each of us has a purpose. Will have a meaning to the greater whole. To take that lightly is…Well. Blasphemous, in a sense."

"So you seek to keep your population steady," Kai says. "I don't know why I find this all so acceptable when it means in your society I'd have never existed. Though I guess I never would have in mine if everyone was following the rules. It does kind of go against my 'do what feels good' philosophy, but I can see the need. I guess if you're raised in it, it's all just the way it is." He grins lazily. "I take absolute joy knowing that my existence is, in the long run, pointless." He sighs a plume of cigarette smoke at the thought, then stabs the thing out.

"That sounds very freeing," Crystal laughs softly as she stands, reaching for her robe to shrug into it once more. "But I'm afraid responsibility will call me again all too soon. I should sleep, so that I can start speaking with people in the morning."

Kai tips off a jaunty salute to Crystal. "It's a pleasure, Crystal. We'll have to talk again sometime, I'm for real when I say I'll help you however I can."

"I'll be sure to keep you apprised," Crystal promises, smile wry, before she descends back into the mansion.

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