1964-09-18 - King's Men 18: Penglai
Summary: The Inhumans descend to face their past in the depths of the South China Sea. What's so valuable that it calls the Kree back? An army of Accusers. Universal Weapons. Sub killing technology. The world's best underwater waterslide?!
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
chloe corvus crystal kamala blackagar maximus rogue nexus nick triton karnak 


Midnight offers limited cover for an unlikely collection of souls gathered over the graveyard of empires. The fat pearl of the moon hangs huge over the horizon, revealing a staggered chain of rocky islands strung along the blackened waters. Waves break and fall in the middle of the open ocean, heaving high enough to engulf any small, rickety fishing craft. There's no safety here. Without mechanical protection or mutant gifts, anyone exposed to the sea's fury will likely drown, being 150 kilometers from shore.

This is the Gulf of Tonkin, and any error may well be fatal.

In the distance directly southwest of their location, any of them can see an American destroyer, the rest of her patrol disturbingly close. They will have a glimpse of skimming lights and perhaps a few planes high overhead, maintaining a perimeter.

And what do they patrol? The Inhuman contingent brought by their powers that be have something indescribably, unquestionably unnatural when viewed from above. The site covers a square kilometer, easily. Seventy meters beneath the choppy waters rise spires of varied height, covered in coral. Some are terraced chunks, somewhat natural. Others are distinctly manmade against the abyssal plain around them. Imagine a medieval crown: that's about accurate for a jagged ring of clustered coral crags. In the middle, however, is one rising considerably higher than the rest; the Spike. That's the destination, and as they close within two hundred feet of it, the weird, smothering darkness of the gloom goes up in a rattling hum that jars the teeth and hurts thee bones.

Crystal has friends in…many places. One of those places happens to have access to an invisible jet, which is the easiest form of transportation for this sort of mission. Swimming last time was a bit more exercise than prudent for this, and then there was the matter of radiation. So Crystal spoke with the Avengers, and borrowed some invisible transportation.

The invisible jet is a little bit tight for an entire crew of Inhumans, but it has the advantage of being invisible and able to travel through air and water. Piloting it likely requires some assistance from Nexus, but it will get the party to the spire.

Once they get to the destination, and all get suited up in their dive gear, Nexus closes his eyes, and reaches out. It doesn't take long. "I have interfaced with the system." Before these words, Nexus has been quiet through the trip, his expression forced into an evenness by meditation, concentrating on aiding the flight. But now, with the circuits in his skin a bright silver, he settles into relaxation. "The site is active; it is controlled by an artificial sentience, though one that is fairly primitive. The facility is heavily armed and contains a safeguard to contain, I am assuming, The Weapon." He repeats some Kree words, and looks around, "I do not speak Kree, but that is approximately what it is called. Further, the facility is networked with the interstellar Kree Accuser Corps — the communication protocols imply a law-enforcement or military function for the organization."

In order to save a little bit of space, the newest member of the Inhumans, after a crash course in protecting herself, Kamala Khan, also known as Miss Marvel, is sitting on Crystal's shoulder. She's already in a tiny version of the dive gear - she managed to get her field to extend and pull it down around her as she listens to the conversation from her spot. She doesn't really have anything to add - and as small as she is; just above 3 inches in height, she'd be hard to hear anyway as she holds onto a strand of Crystal's hair to support herself.

Know who looks amazing? Maximus. At least, that's what HE thinks. He has on a super-snug dry suit, with silver tubes threaded through it in places. The outfit covers pretty well all of him, excepting his face, which is visible through the clear mask. The mask, unfortunately, does NOT stop him from talking, though it does at least sort of muffle it, so that his near-constant snarky chatter, or crazy rambling, isn't quite as distracting as it might otherwise be. There is obviously some sort of air-filtering system going on. There's no obvious tank, or source of power for it. Whilst in the Invisible Jet of awesomeness, Max has the mask OFF, of course, and only puts it on when it seems like getting wet is imminent. "It means 'Dragon of Heaven'." He offers with a smarmy tone, like…GOSH, doesn't EVERYONE know an alien language? No? Just him who used it to translate ancient sites and documents so that he could make deals with the Kree and reactivate the slave race? "Can you overpower the sentience and shut the weapon-systems down?"

Once they get close enough to have a good solid visual, Nick looks at the landscape before them and says, "Looks like most of this was crafted, made. There's coral on the glass and crystal, but it seems like it was covered purposefully. There's also some parts of a sub around here."

Triton waited for people to assemble and looked at the gathered. "Crystal, please keep reserve team together. I'm taking Nik down first to get us a door made. Shouldn't take him too long to do so follow behind, stay close." Looking back to his cousin he said to Max, "Well I can't, I can get you guys out there. Once we make touch down we will not have much time before we are noticed. If there's a problem, rendezvous is Na Long. Understood?" Happy fun diplomat was gone and the infiltration specialist stood where generally easy going Triton once stood. "arts of the sub were shot down when human vessels got too close. It's defending itself and its position. When we get down there, Maximus, Nexus? Let's get into that system. The rest of us will keep you covered. Karnak and I can help handle covering our ex-filtration route. Chloe if you could assist there in case we need to exit sideways that might be helpful."

Karnak nods, "That seems like a prudent option, considering the current situation in particular." She keeps mostly to herself in this endeavor, as she tends to, though the observant might notice that she does focus a bit more attention on Kamala.

For those disposed to using any kind of floodlight in the eastern quarter of the site, one shape stands out for a lack of coral on it. Hard to miss the torpedo shaped object lying on the seafloor, its back end sheared off as though by a giant can opener of sorts. Given its size, it is a submarine, and not one of the ancient things from World War I or II. This is a hunter, nuclear, a ship killer, and ten nautical miles from an American flotilla. And something clearly missing from it? Its nuclear reactor. At the extent of Crystal's senses — and possibly Nick's, for odd matter — there's another similar one buried under a rock and coral fall about a half-kilometer due south. In the 'run the fuck away from here' direction.

Chloe suits up, and she nods to Triton. "Of course," she replies. Then she glances to Karnak and gives her a respectful nod. "If we need to step out, I can get us back here so fast you won't even notice." Her gaze goes then to the corals, and the gears are turning in her head. Corals can be useful friends.

Corvus makes a few last minute adjustments to his as they close in on the Kree. He doesn't look to have anything to add from behind his blacked out mask. Instead his attention is firmly on a small device in his hand, fiddling with some of the electronics.

When Triton starts to speak he takes his place near Maximus, apparently still in charge of making sure the royal doesn't get shot. "This'll be fun. Remember your corners, and I'll stay near the back in case of any surprise attack."

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Crystal +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Kamala +rolls 1d20 for: 18

|ROLL| Corvus +rolls 1d20 for: 10

|ROLL| Chloe +rolls 1d20 for: 6

|ROLL| Maximus +rolls 1d20 for: 10

|ROLL| Maximus +rolls 1d20 for: 7

Would anyone be terribly surprised if Blackagar was quiet? Of course not. The Inhuman sits quietly during the flight and the subsequent elements of it as the descent and operations are undertaken; studiously looking over a journal of notes written in his own hand writing while turning from one page to the next.

|ROLL| Blackagar +rolls 1d20 for: 7

Once everyone is prepared, Crystal prepares a bubble of air for those without the equipment or adaptations required to survive in the deep. "Stay close," she says simply. "Maintaining this will likely require most of my attention." That's all that's left, and then they're descending into the deep, drawing closer to the spire of coral and other things. "The radiation seems to have…dissipated," Crystal observes with some relief.

"Unfortunately, the system has already detected us — despite the stealth capability — and is attempting to determine what we are and who built us. Fortunately, its database, despite being networked to the Kree enforcers, appears to have not been updated in… a very long time." Nexus opens his eyes, the glowing circuits in his irises bright, as he nods to Maximus, "As we descend I will engage the sentience and attempt to disable it, but I suggest we not wait — if it decides we are a threat it may attack." Then they are jumping out and in the water and descending, and Nexus relies on gravity and the others to make sure he gets himself down— he's mostly distracted as he engages with the AI.

Remaining quiet for now, Kamala nods on Crystal's shoulder and becomes a good little guardian on her shoulder, ready to protect her at a moment's notice as the young woman watches the rest of the Inhuman's deploying and murmurs softly a prayer in Urdu for their protection.

Fifty meters to the top of the spire in the middle. It doesn't require much but all the moonlight is gone and they have little better than shadows to see by, except Triton's hyperadapted eyes. Beams from torches fog up but show a surreal world of craggy rocks and coral clusters mostly devoid of colour. Occasional filtering wisps of black water bubble up from the ground below, evidence of smoking rifts fed by hydrothermal vents. Try to avoid those, they're hot enough to melt lead. The craggy Spike gives good handholds and places to cling all over. It looks like a natural formation for all it isn't, a tapering tower with craggy indentations that could be 'balconies' or arches. Eventually they can all get there with some hard swimming, pressure digging in. The weight of the water is horrific. And the Spike waits. Quiet, silent, a relic of a long-forgotten past.

Maximus straps on his mask, not because he doesn't trust Crystal, but because he's not fond of drowning and it just seems wise. He stays closer to Corvus, giving him a nod, but then notices how grim Blackagar is being, all quiet over there. "Oh, brother…of course we will all survive, but your concern is noted with great affection. You know, a little sweep of your genetic code and this Spire will probably /crown you/." He grins overbroadly. When Nexus hits the water, he puts his hand on Triton and will follow the Fishman into the depths. And on his way out the door, he shouts in a muffled manner, "Blackagar thinks one of you looks fat in that suit!" WEEEEE!

"I am not!" Kamala shouts back. At three inches tall, only Crystal probably hears it.

"It would be a better idea for us to try to find a door, something with an airlock, that we can enter without opening a hole in the side of the thing and filling it with water. I can do something similar, I think.. but I've never tried it before," Nick says to Triton just before he's apparently dragged off to the Spire, in whatever suit or apparatus Triton has provided for him. His hands, however, are left uncovered. He approaches the Spire with Triton, following his lead, but doesn't actually touch it, instead, scanning to see if he can find an entrance.

Triton could just leave Maximus down here. It'd be so EASY to do. Just sink him like that box Max put his stuff in and sank. No, he's not forgotten. On the upshot being his natural environment he was, pulling Maximus on his back to interpret what they found, and carrying Nick making like a green, scaled torpedo. He slowed his approach and gestured to Nick the Blue Eye further down if they failed to find anything useful up here. "Nick, I know it's weird as hell, I believe in you. You can do this." The fish-man's head stayed on a swivel though extending senses out like sonar in all direction waiting for signs of disturbance in current, sound, or taste of the water filtering through his gills.

The currents twist and churn around the site. Off in the distance runs a low, moaning ping of sonar.

Chloe stays near Nick and Triton, and Maximus by proximity. She eyes the mad prince sidelong. "Would my Lord prefer a less tactically vital back to ride upon?" she offers, and she casts Triton a sympathetic glance. Then she tells him, "If things go south, I can take three of you with me, and we can get back to the jet."

Corvus zips along, trailing behind Triton and the trio with the help of his aquatic armor. The increase in pressure was barely noticeable. Of course it seems that he was keeping an eye on Maximus. Some things really never change. When they come to a stop his suit flickers, then fades from view.

Blue eyes lift up as Maximus makes his proclamations and statements, the look on his features rather passive but betraying a slim hint of annoyance that passes after a time. «Perhaps.» Blackagar expresses with feature and impression of thought; so that the Royals would know at least.

"Don't mind Max," Crystal murmurs to Kamala with a brief, rueful smile. "He just likes to get a rise out of people." She doesn't seem bothered that the former king puts on a mask, either - one less person for her to have to keep track of under the waves. The odd little bubble of people that she's maintaining moves closer to Nick and Triton, closer to the Spire. "It's changed," she says, carefully shaping the air and the water to carry the sound. "The energy. And it's…do you see the spiral?"

With Nexus, usually his circuits are either bright or dim, or have a variation in intensity. At the moment, there's flashing and shimmering and he clenches his jaw and closes his eyes, "Someone guide me; the intelligence is itself primitive but it is well armed with attack matricies and designed for war. It is attempting to neutralize me." He sounds affronted by that, and even slightly pained, but grimly determined as he concentrates and redoubles his effort. The circuits flare and dim in a chaotic pattern, some bright enough to illuminate the the flesh and organic structure beneath his skin, like a flashlight held up to a hand.

"Well, he's probably passing gas in his suit." Kamala mutters softly for Crystal, her face screwing up into a brief frown, before her tone turns apologetic for yelling so close to her ear as she turns her attention to the spire. "I don't see anything. But I suppose I wouldn't." she admits quietly. She is still settled in place - and so far, she's more sightseer than adventurer.

"Ooh, Crystal, look!" Mala is suddenly a little more alert as she points towards a nearby opening. "There. It's like.. one of those fun house slides. Round and round all the way to the bottom!" she says with a grin at her observation. "We should probably be careful and send Maximus first." Because traps.

"Try placating it." Maximus suggests to Nexus. "Instead of overpowering, flatter it, convince it we belong." Then he raises his voice and starts speaking in Kree, ~~"I am Max-Mas, ruler of the children of the Kree on this, the blue planet, 3rd from Sol. Long have we sought the Dragon of Heaven, to aid in its protection from the growing threats of the humans on this world. Allow my agents to access the entrance."~~ To everyone besides the AI, it just looks like he's yelling gibberish at coral walls. /awesome/.

Nick nods his head to Crystal and says to her and motions to Chloe, "There's a thin spot where an entrance might be near the base. I need someone to get through the coral though. I can't manipulate the organic matter, but once I can touch the crystal or the glass, then I can get us in. But it's locked inside a candy coating at the moment. Chloe, Crystal, can either of you take a whack at it there?" He points out the particular location.

Hope everyone enjoys the sight: stars emerge from the gloom. Blue points illuminate the calcite and organic matrices of the coral, flashing alive on the main spike. Then other clusters illuminate. Pure bluish-white beams emit from various points around the circumference, spotlighting the tower in a flooded wash that gives no place to hide.

Vibrations hum beneath the sea floor and throw about the water, a rattling race. In a few places, coral crumbles to the ground and plumes of fine sediment start to rise where something moves. Something very, very large moves in a drifting spiral, coming unsolidified after twenty millennia of stony sleep vexed to nightmare by a noisy greeting. A double circle glows dimly under all the sediment gathered at the foot of the tower. It rather does look like a landing pad.

Triton was on standby ready to pull Nick and/or Max out if the need arose. He did look back to Blackagar and backas the Kree-speak started picking up the bits he remembered, though he didn't comment either way. They swam all this way for Max to yell at a wall. He wished he could say this was a first. "Nick, if we need to relocate let me know. We have conveyance."

Chloe nods to Nick and says, "I'm no it." She approaches the coral, and she opens her mouth, about to say something when it all comes crumbling down. She steps back, but not all of the coral comes down. ONly now there's something afoot, and she doesn't have time to waste. Stepping back up to the coral, she starts to sing, a light, trilling soprano. Disney Princess mode engaged. The coral perks up, and elements of the microcosm start to move. She helps it along with gentle sweeps of her hand, guiding it where she want it to go. Off to the side, away from where they want to go. Bristling reef worms coil around her wrist, but they don't leave so much as a scratch. She goes as quickly as she can, but it's coral. It doesn't run so much as drift. She coaxes it to come loose enough she can sweep it, though. Gradually, the bristling worms recede from her wrists, back into their homes, now relocated neatly.

The metal device in Corvus' hand turned out to be something shaped like a bow, minus the string. Currently it's the only thing that marks his location in the group. He's not much help here, so he's on standby for the moment, ready to jump in if anything happens.

Blackagar casts a glance at Maximus as he begins spouting, a small look given with a deep frown etched before it passes away. His notebook comes forth again with some jotting being made on the pages before looking around and quickly diagraming the lighting that has spilled out.

Admission to the Spike is considerably easier to see in a long, ovoid bay probably wide enough to accommodate a pair of semis, turned sideways. At the crown, it's five meters high, entirely walled off in opaque crystal shot by an energy signature that ought to be familiar for some. It's identical to that which Crystal, Kamala, and Nexus encountered in Thule.

"That's definitely more gentle than what I was going to do," Crystal smiles faintly at Chloe's solution, giving Maximus a sidelong glance as he speaks to the mechanisms. It's never good when Maximus starts speaking for the group. But priorities. "You're right," she adds to Kamala, dipping her chin slightly. "Down toward the center. Where there's more of…Oh, honestly," she sighs. "If we could have just gotten here by traveling through one of the other sites, I'm going to feel like a complete fool." Either way, though, she starts moving their bubble in that direction.

The attack ceases, obviously as Nexus is no longer immitating a christmas tree gone completely crazy, "Whoever designed this matrix was not an expert at security, it believed you, Maximus. It didn't even demand an authentication code." He hrmphs. But then he moves over towards the landing pad with the others.

"It's okay." Kamala gently encourages. "It's so dark down here, I barely saw it.. though I can see it a lot more clearly now." she murmurs. Mini-Mala continues her free trip on Crystal's shoulder as they head for the slippy fun slide.

Maximus holds his breath while the spire shudders and he braces for doom. Then, he looks at Nexus when Nexus declares it believed him and releases his breath, acting like he had no doubts at any moment that it would have done anything else. "I can be convincing." He goes wherever Triton swims, presumably towards the landing pad, though he does glance back towards…towards what? If the ship is invisible then he won't see it anymore. But, he makes a 'come on' gesture in the 'back that way' directionish, as they move on. "Maybe its lonely. I would be, if I were an AI that had been /abandoned/ and then had strange, weaponized submarines flung at me. It could be almost as alive as you are, Nexus."

With the assistance of moving the coral out of the way, Nick makes his way to the point where there is a spot that he can touch the structure beneath, laying his hands upon the surface and causing the structure to peel away a thin layer which he then uses to create a bubble in which the other and Crystal's bubble of air can fit. "Once everyone and the air is inside, I'm going to close the outer layer like an air lock and open the inner layer so everyone can walk through inside." He explains this to whoever is around him and waits for everyone to get situated, and barring any other eruptions or earthquakes, he will do just that.

If anyone has an inkling of what to expect walking into an ancient Kree ruin… they probably weren't expecting a waterslide. Yet there is one. Curtaining locks cut off the intrusion of the sea as soon as they bypass its crystalline sheath, though the scent of ozone is heavy on the air. Racing sparks fly along walls translucent as smoky quartz, and very clearly… scaled. Not that there's much chance to appreciate that short of flying. The initial landing 'pool' acting as an interior pad has a current. That current is deep enough to shove someone not anchored well down the chute, spinning through the internal helix structure down a gradual descent into the ground. There aren't any doorways or intersecting chambers to speak of on that whirling descent, only an array of figures displayed on screens that could be carved: men and women, humanoid enough, caught in an obvious battle.

If anyone's ever seen Kree space technology, a few millennia out of date, it's also displayed in the blur as they literally twist through their own history to be dumped into a round lapis-floored, triangular chamber significant for the towering walls. One is built of crystal, the tallest. Sandstone forms the back two. A metallic disk hangs on the back wall over the water-spiral's entrance.

Triton noted to Crystal, "Awww, Crystal, the say is young. There are pleanty of other opportunities we'll have to feel foolish." He looked from her to maximus who had successfully negotiated with a chitin wall. Oh yeah, that one was one to put money on. Still it worked so he wasn't going to snub method. "Maximus, they did find a lifeform and we weren't able to find an organic one. My bet is on AI." He pulled Nick closer so he could do what he had to to get them inside and not be pulled by tides. Triton: aquatic taxi at large, ask him how. When they touched down though? That he wasn't expecting. Weirdly he had the inverse reaction to hitting air. This was not relief. A faint smirk came to tehfishman's features. It might suggocate from an abundance of air if they got trapped underwater? Oh the damn irony. Still, they had time.

Chloe tells Crystal, "They didn't want any trouble, except for the bristle worms, but they'll behave." Staying close to Triton and Nick, she goes inside. She looks him over and asks softly, "Do you need anything?" Since 'hey are you going to die here' isn't a great question to ask a Prince.

Once inside Corvus flickers back into view. Looking around he just seems sort of stuck, apparently Kree structures weren't something he was familiar with. "So, any idea what we're doing?" It wouldn't be the first time they ran blind, but it doesn't feel very safe.

The lapis gleams in the light, a round plate smooth enough to trip up even nimble folks. A thin sheen of water conveys the slightest sound. Inscriptions flow across the sandstone, repeated Rosetta stone style: one layer for pictograms Mesoamerican in style, another Phoenician, a third Tibetan, a fourth nested in early Mandarin. The sandstone walls carry another obvious shape: a Chinese dragon, serpentine coils crawling amongst the text, all flowing scales and curved claws, eyes wide and knowing. Smaller versions of the same, minutely altered, creep around other locations. There are five different draconic beings in question.

The metal boss on the wall features the double-circle again, cut by a scrolled pattern and a wheel of twenty-seven stars.

As they reach the center of the chamber - and blessed air - Crystal lets out a breath along with her control of the careful balance between air and water that kept them breathing under the waves. "Maximus, I don't suppose you could just tell it that we have this planet well under control and there's no need to send any help, could you?" It's almost certainly not that simple, but hey, it's worth hoping. Catching sight of the 27-motif, she dips her chin toward the metal boss. "And if patterns hold true, that should return us to the central site. In case anything goes wrong here."

From Crystal's shoulder, Kamala pauses for a moment. "One mo." she says as she hops down Crystal's arm and off of her hand before growing to her full normal size. Reaching into a pocket, she pulls out a pair of glasses and slips them on. Nerd. She steps a bit closer to the runes and starts to read in Urdu. After a few moments of halting talk to herself, she speaks up to read in English:

"We far outnumber the race of men,
Yet they tread on our host without ken;
We burn as their souls while the sun is bright,
And cool with haste come the darkened night.
Our wrath cuts out the eyes of their fools,
Yet theirs makes us clear as diamond pools.
We thrive where many souls would perish,
And bury them there with all you cherish."

"…if anyone had any doubts that this was a weapon. Is this.. the only one?" she asks in slight concern.

For the moment, Nexus follows along, and he does murmur softly, but loud enough to be heard, "It has a sentience, but as I said, it is primitive. It may very well be lonely but it is still a bounded matrix, written according to rules." He does hesitate at the edge of the center of the chamber, circuits intensifying for a moment as he reaches out for the AI while simultaneously interfacing with the Core for translation purposes. He speaks aloud the words transmitted: "Query. Recognize Kree access authorization. Command. Reset facility status to normal and transmit status update." Hey, Max talked it into letting them in. Apparently you can sweet-talk an AI.

"There is a riddle upon the walls. TRA-LA-LEE." Maximus, put to a point of stress by a forced waterslide, tears off his mask and breathes of the ancient air, curious if he'll find it more or less sufficient than what he can tolerate in New York. He picks himself off the black floor, and then cocks his head. Animatedly, he moves towards Blacakagar after a moment and tries to walk his fingers up his brother's arm. "Its exciting, isn't it?" He cuts his eyes to Crystal. "/Do we/?" Then he grins WAY too broadly and lets out a laugh that speeds up and ends abruptly, just like the slide. He eyes Nexus and seems to appreciate the man's technical approach. Its like poetry too. Then he's re-reminded of the riddle on the walls. "Noooo, we need to solve the /riddle/. She's read it for you, the little one. So you can think about it and solve it with your average minds. But I already have!" Then he traipses closer to Crystal and says it over and over, "I solved it, I solved it…" pretty much begging to be punched. Then he stands on a tiptoe and spins himself in a wet circle. "You want me to tell you. I can tell that you do." He push-push-pushes, then blurts out before someone hurts him, "Its SandsandsandsandsandSAND." A pause. "Now, if only we had some." He squints his eyes, "Or do you think its like a password?" He wrinkles his nose. "Should I say Sand in Kree? Do you think that will unleash /dragons/?"

Saying sand does not cause a miraculous anything. The water pools around their feet. The walls stand. The crystal shines. The tower waits as it has in its vigil, though the AI singing through the systems is far too happy for anyone's business. It practically rubs up against Nexus' circuitry like a cat crossed with a sugar glider and given the temperament of a golden retriever puppy.

|ROLL| Rogue +rolls 1d100 for: 74

"I could make sand," Nick points out from where he crouches not far from where he ended up at the end of the kamikaze waterslide from the deep. He gestures toward the sandstone walls. There's plenty of material at their disposal between the glass, crystal, and sandstone. "But I'm not sure what one would do with it." He glances from Maximus, toward Triton, and then over to Crystal. Then he looks over to Nexus and says, "So if it's primitive and responding to rules.. is it still signalling something? Can we figure out what it's signalling and make it stop?" Then he looks at all the dragon motifs and says, "Or maybe can we pick the dragon of least destruction and make it do that? Like, that one there.. the one that looks like it's high.. the dragon of pot and some munchies."

Triton was standing quietly inside the door that Nick made. Deep breaths. His gills lay plastered flat to his neck and back. Could he read the riddle? Seems so. He was, though, conserving air as Max seemed to be doing a fine job of using it all up anyways, but at least it was productive. Interior and exterior eyelids blinked to Chloe with a nod of appreciation that didn't answer the question. Still he seemed alright for now and if it was getting tight he was confident that someone could get him back out. His voice, was different than the normally muffled and modulated tone withteh mask he usually had for these environs. Nick was give a nod. "Hell, try it." He stood off the wall and wandered over to max. That he was in a position to drag him outside if needed was a TOTAL coinsidence. no really.

Chloe nods back to Triton, a furrow in her brow. She's caught the lack of answer, but she doesn't press. His Lordship will speak if he wants to speak, or not as it pleases him. She shifts as Triton approaches Maximus, positioning herself equidistant from the prince and Nick.

Crystal quirks a brow as Kamala reads the riddle, more at the fact that she can read it than at the riddle itself. And when Maximus comes over, she just sort of…stares at him. One might almost think she's caught Blackagar's powers and is trying to figure out what won't kill them all. The last part might still be accurate. But the answer eventually comes out, and she sighs. "I don't think there's enough silicon in you to make a pile of actual sand, so you're safe enough where I'm concerned," she drawls. "And I would prefer not to wake dragons. Why in the hell would they leave a riddle on the wall?" she frowns, looking to the others. Triton, at least, she can help - drawing water from the slide, she makes a mask of it for him to ease his breathing.

"I… rather think it likes me." remarks Nexus with an arched brow, nodding to Nick, and giving a bit of an odd look to Max. "/~ Query: Designation? Compliment: Status is most satisfactory. Command: Update status to normal and transmit to network that maintenance and reinforcements are not required. Update access mode: maintainer. Update reason: I will take care of you. ~/" Then he shakes his head slowly, "I am deeply tempted to copy it to a secure enclave in the Core; it is almost cruel to leave it here."

Nick nods to Triton and then he gets up and moves over to the sandstone walls. He reaches out and places his palms on the surface and then just, pushes, and the sandstone begins to become sand, the grains swirling around him and then flowing out along the floor to either side of him as he opens a hole right through the middle of the wall, an archway of stone with a soft sandy floor straight through the middle of it.

And what lies on the other side is like a terracotta army, but of Inhumans, and more creepily than that, Inhumans that resemble all of the faces that they saw as they slid down into this room, wielding spears and clubs and the like. But even more eerily than that, is that some of them bear what might resemble older versions of those gathered, all standing in silent rows within. "Uh.. while you're asking it things, Nexus, could you ask it why there's a creepy army that has Inhuman faces in here?"

"Maybe they just like the puzzles? I don't know. Shouldn't we be considering what…" she pauses, and Kamala looks to the others. "Question." she asks the others as the young woman reaches up to rub the back of her head. "Uhm. What if each one of these — is a location of one of these?" she asks. "And we have to activate them in a certain order? Like, this one is telling us to go to the one in the desert?" she asks, and turns to the others. Perhaps she's played too many games.

More upsetting: there is in fact a Maximus in there, a dead ringer right down to his clenched hands. Over in a corner, anyone who knows his brother? Right, he is there, and a third for Randac in his famous statue in Attilan. Nearer at hand, a comparable version of Triton with a marginally more impressive head fin.

Maximus casts Nexus a look. "You cannot bring it back." Max may be the only one not totally creeped out by the terracotta army, though its puzzling to be sure. He strokes the walls that Nick molded for them, capturing bits of the sand in his hands that then get strewn in a trail behind him as he continues to move. ~~"Sand."~~ He tries in Kree, verrrrry curious over the doppleganger of himself and of Blackagar. "Interesting. Interesting. I wonder when these were made. Recently, I would think. Hmmm. Is there one of the /new girl/?" Steel eyes look to find where Kamala-ant has gotten herself off to. "This is not the Dragon of Heaven…"

"Well, that's disturbing. I could have done without the philosophical question of whether those looked like that before we opened the door," Crystal grimaces, crossing her arms over her chest and taking a step back. "Unless you're completely certain you can keep it from infecting the rest of the core, Nexus, probably best not to bring it back. If the Kree were to use it to trace us back to Attilan? That would end poorly for all involved." For once, on one thing, she agrees with Maximus.


All those eyes come online. Terracotta, to be sure, but they orient to the front in their ranks and rows. Hammers shift. Spears stand straight. Bodies assume their ideal posture. Shoulders align. They wait, the rustling motions echoes.

And yes, there is most definitely a Kamala in there. A Kamala somewhat different than herself, given she's a twenty-five-ish Kamala. And her sister over there. And Maximus himself as a young man. And Maximus as a much, much older one…

"Looks like a really big Chinese Checkers board.." Kamala starts to say, before she takes a couple of steps backwards and draws in her breath. "Uh, I don't know if any of you have ever seen One Touch of Venus, but I don't think any of these turn into Ava Gardner if you kiss them - but you're welcome to try." is said towards Maximus.

"As if I would risk the Core; you clearly do not understand my relationship with it if you would think that." Nexus is for a moment haughty over the very idea; of course it was the risk to The Core that he interpreted the arguments against. "A secure enclave is encrypted and isolated from the rest of the system. Access to both the contents, and the access the operating matricies within the enclave have to the outer system, is strictly sandboxed. As I have said, this is a primitive matrix. Sentient, yes, but only just. It certainly can't be allowed to run free, but studied in a secure enclave? I do not see any risk and I am the expert on these matters. If you insist, however…" He pauses, then adds, "The system has accepted my instruction to move into normal operating mode and to transmit to the Accuser network that assistance is no longer required. Its power, however, is limited — moreso because it is maintaining lifesupport for us and devoting a not-insignificant amount of its resources to do so."

Chloe starts, and she draws back. This ain't right. "Milord," she says to Triton, "who should I grab if we have to make a speedy exit?" She's eyeing Nick, Triton, and whoever's near enough she could literally grab them. Because these terra cotta mimics? Yeah. Princess Murder-Hobo isn't having any of that.

"No." Maximus whispers, "I do not want to kiss your terracotta statue, Kamala. Not that /anyone ever asks/, but I am actually in a relationship right now." It lacks the bite it would have had 30 seconds ago, though. In fact his whole manner has changed far more serious, less manic. "I think this is an entire army of…artificial accusers. Which is terrifying if you have regrets." At Nexus' remark about it transmitting, he frowns, "We need to move this army. The Kree will know that we have found it. Are they following your control…or mine?" he asks curiously and totally, absolutely innocently, the way someone would ask who would absolutely not be interested in using the army of accusers to torment traitorous council members.

"Ew." Kamala's response is rather indelicate at the idea of Maximus kissing her in any way shape or form. "Good for you." she says about the relationship as she frowns. "Embiggen!" she calls out her warcry as she grows a couple of more feet in height to become eight feet tall, expanding her fists to become bigger as she sets herself into position.

The Kamala statue does not increase in size, alas. She and her counterparts remain stationary, as they probably have for roughly twenty five thousand years. Chloe-statue clutches her spear at the ready. Nick-statue wears a curiously distant expression. Nexus-statue stares off into the middleground, hammer pointed slightly forward. Each is a unique creature unto itself.

Triton rubbed his jaw and said curiously obsering Kamala-Ant and Crystal. "Nexus has got inlaid circuitry. How do we know something can't hitch a ride anyways?" He's dealt with enough water parasites to ask. he blinked more and curiously looked at the status of his fascimile, "They make me look taller… interesting."

The air though was wearing thin. still he turned around and said "In Vietnamese, 'Bach Long Vi', this island nearby, means 'The Tail of the White Dragon' which I am believing to be this very vessel and the AI within. This name has its root from an ancient Vietnamese legend. NOW according to the legend, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the Jade Emperor who rules heaven called upon the Mother of Dragons to help defend the land, Consider this to be the Kree technology, or maybe Inhumans? They go on to say that this family of 'dragons' began spitting out jewels and jade. These jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the sea, linking together to form a great wall against the invaders. The people kept their land safe and formed what later became the country of Vietnam. After that, Mother of Dragons, again this technology, was interested in peaceful sightseeing of the earth, and then decided to live upon the isles, teaching humans how to farm, use technology, advanced crafts, and what have you."

He paused and looked to them, "We, or our ancestors helped protect this region from something in China and helped cultivate their culture. I have every reason to believe that those gems scattered might either be Terrigen crystal like Kamala stumbled on, or our DNA scattered amok. Hell I could be off. I'm starting to get light headed… but we have a lot to stand on here that's buried in layer of metaphor."

Triton says, "This ship vessel might even be able to find it now that I'm considering this. End of this? We don't know."

"The hammers…" Crystal says even as Maximus makes his own observation, nodding to her cousin. "Accusers," she agrees. Still, there's something more that draws her eye, toward the back of the statues. "That one is different." Squaring her shoulders, she starts to move forward, to weave her way through the statues to reach whatever at the back has caught her eye. "Maybe the terrigen's what's meant to go into that…spot on the hammer," she says back over her shoulder.

Maximus fitted his mask back on as he listens to Triton explain the rest of the legend, the missing piece of this strange puzzle. Breathing through the mask, now, his voice is more muffled. He hurriedly follows Crystal to see what she's spotted. "How could they know, though, what all of us would look like, unless they had among their original number…someone with the gift of foresight?"

"Sorry. Kinda used that crystal I found." Kamala murmurs. Because you know. She did. Cause that's how she ended up like this. Shrinking back to normal, she's starting to trail behind Crystal, because that's where she was told she would be safe.

"The AI has not transmitted of our breaching of this facility offworld, and it will not, Maximus." Nexus says confidently, "It has accepted my instructions to return to normal mode and transmit a report refuting previous reports that a response was needed." He adds after a moment, "Shall I instruct it to go into dormant standby mode after that transmission is sent? Why move it when the call to bring them has been rescinded?" But he is distracted, not really interested in the army at all when his mind is occupied with communing with the AI. He does nod to Triton, "This is certainly Kree technology, though one must undertand our technology as an offshoot of their own, of course." But if there is scattered Terrigen? Obviously that is of interest. He looks to Maximus, "Quite likely the equipment has advanced scanning technology and it is replicating us— not that these were always there, but they are reacting to us. Remember, its scanners could detect the invisible aircraft the moment we arrived." But he adds, "It is scattered terrigen, I expect. That is worth investigating."

"I have no idea," Crystal shakes her head to Maximus. "But this is either some sort of memorial, or else another riddle. Your thoughts on that?" She points to the plinth beneath the statue, where an inscription waits:

A sinner of many torments,
Thrice was burned,
Twice beaten,
Once drowned,
'ere I bowed.
Turned a slave to serve
the slaughter.

Broken, I am peace,
Silent, I am justice,
Still, I am redeemed.

I am….

"You are a mystery," she grumbles, giving the hammer a look. "But it sounds to me like leaving these things alone and slumbering is in our best interest."

Edit: I am …..

Shrinking back to her normal size, Kamala folds her arms over her chest, watching the others at work as she eyes her statue. She doesn't really look like that, does she? I mean, that statue looks older. More mature.

Sorta hot.

Maximus studies the newest riddle beneath the metal golem and he's lost. Might as well just leave him here, because he's not going until he's figured it out. His aparatus makes soft breath-type sounds and he nods, absently to Crystal as he continues to stare. He struggles with this one, no bragging in the same manner as the last, but…then his whole face relaxes. "yes…I know you. Though…I would not weild you. Its not /my style/." He says softly. "She is a sword…."

What matters: at the back of the chamber, the metal disk is altered: a line of stars shining fiercely among the twenty-seven. A sword.

As she comes over to the stars made as a sword, Kamala asks quietly. "Is it a constellation? Someplace else out there among the stars? I mean.. they're aliens. Could that be where they came from?"

Triton eyed the riddle and snickered with a shake of his head, "Well… it's either that or the story of my Terrigenesys. You need a blade… I have mine on me." He was eficient in wading back over to Max handing him one of his knives and said "It might just be metal, but the idea of a weapon stands… I'm going to be patrolling." They were pushing hard and his focus was shot. The fishman was suffocating and with that quietly took a step back. He stoppedat Chloe's shoulder in passing. "If it goes sideways you know what to do." Both pair of eyelids blinked to her and he made his way back to Nick with laboured breathing extended by the abundance of humidity thankfully. On the upshot Nick could let him back out. Who puts air underwater to ruin it. Really!

Chloe nods to Triton once and says, "Yes, my Lord." She offers him a small smile that's far less stuffy and formal as her addressing him. And she stands ready to do 'the thing' if needs must.

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