1964-10-15 - Astra VI: Suspicion
Summary: Neither side is willing to give.
Related: Ad Astra plot
Theme Song: None
hala rogue blackagar 

Space, Kree Mothership

Hospitality via the Kree may not be as truly horrible as Inhuman stories recount. Blackagar enjoys the comforts of an admittedly spartan chamber decorated exclusively in white and grey. Ambient lighting allows for meditation or sleep on the rather elongated slab filled by a tactile material allowing for proper sleep. Refreshment via an embedded ring descending from the ceiling serves as a good shower, hot or cold, the floor drain conserving water. Another space acts as a seat and there are clothes, plain tunics or trousers in white and green, available. Food may not be great, but it's nutritious, delivered through a plain console easy to decipher if one reads Kree. Technological innovations at their finest; the personnel are quiet, perfunctory, well-trained soldiers. Accusers one and all, nearly, though there must be techs. No one cries out in pain. No one bothers him. No one comes.

It's some point after the twenty-seventh hour that a chime emerges from the ship's systems to announce departure of two craft. Then they resolve into silence. Other than a brief stay by Lockjaw, who probably licked his favourite person to death, the time has been exquisitely uneventful. Until now, when a system voice alerts in Kree, «Entry impending. High Accuser Hala.»

For Blackagar, the time is actually akin to a vacation in many ways. He is able to sit quietly and meditate, to expand his mind and sit in silent reflection during the time. 27 hours of scarce interruption is embraced and when the chime of notification comes his eyes slide open. Shortly before the arrival is to occur he rises, presses his clothes some and takes a quick moment to offer a glance at himself in a reflective surface. A bit scruffy but overall not bad. He takes a moment to finalize observing his appearance and then turns, folding hands behind his back to look passively at the door in waiting.

One of the Kree speaks English as if a recent graduate from MIT or Harvard, direct out of Boston. That Sun-Ya's been required now and then to act as interpreter is no great hardship for the blue-skinned Accuser. He stands at the front, hammer on his back, partly obscuring the taller woman behind him. Her attire marks her as the same, Kree Accuser Corps, metal banding up to her knees and elbows an element of her station. Twin black braids twitch as she falls into place, at parade rest at best.

"High Accuser Hala and Accuser Sun-Ya," he says without preamble. Forget 'hi.' "I will translate as necessary. You understand Kree?"

The Inhuman looks at Sun-Ya, offering a slight nod of his head in affirmation of understanding Kree; at least enough that he can get enough of the message. The true challenge will be his own communication which he attempts to indicate with a series of hand gestures to demonstrate that he has a lack of speaking. It is followed by a small shrug and the tiniest of smirks as his eyes level on Hala steadily without retreat.

The conversation between the pair of Accusers is a quick one focused on alternate paths or methods for communication. Apparently inability or unwillingness to talk isn't unknown to them. A few moments later, a flat panel appears on the wall. Three-dimensional interfaces spring across the space, enveloping Blackagar on two sides. They shimmer faintly orange, circular dials presenting letters and shapes in Kree on one side. The green ones? Latin letters, allowing for a quick enough grasp. Push and the sound forms, drawing off a fairly deeply driven database that no doubt has Nexus shooting awake wherever he is.

An eyebrow quirks slowly from Blackagar but he is able to make sense of the offered methods to communicate. Taking a moment to familiarize himself he begins motioning to the letters in the Latin to start spelling and talking, increasing in frequency with it after a time. «Yes, I understand the basics of your language although not in spoken form.»

The linguistic fluidity improves with use. A voice rings with the statements made, clear and precise. If it sounds a bit like Sun-Ya, such is life. Volume melts down slightly. "Good," Sun-Ya says. He taps his head and steps aside, allowing Hala a clear view - or shot, as it were.

It's only natural that he translates for her, since she doesn't speak a lick of English. "«The guests returned to the planet. Further investigation to the signal source is required.»"

Blackagar listens, eyes locked on the seniority in the room; that being Hala. Reaching his hands out he touches the necessary letterings to form his words. «In that, I cannot help. We were investigating the source of signal as well which has led to this situation. If the source is not Kree, than what other options could it be?»

Sun-Ya is mostly expressive to convey certain facts. Hala is not, her blue face marked by parallel black markings and her eyes glowing a solid white sheen that casts their own light. She gestures briefly. Blackagar making eye contact is not a sort of thing she backs down from or responds to.

"«Unclear. The technology is ancient. How anyone acquired it would be like you using stone hand tools and vines to construct an ocean-going boat. We have dispatched people surface-side to determine why the signal broadcasts a war calling. It is assumed by the warrior on your side that someone else is mimicking us.»"

«To what end?» Blackagar responds through the movement of his hands over the letterings. «If you are not here to attack, and are aware that such a signal is in error, than the most probably outcome is you have been brought here by another source. Leaving the question; to what end? To create a conflict? As a trap?»

"«Would you not wonder if a city lost to you suddenly sent a barrage of messages being under attack?»" Sun-Ya has to carefully phrase that one. "«It is proper to investigate the source. We drew the same conclusions. Perhaps your people sought those ends, if responsible. If not then is it not reasonable to assume we are being pulled into conflict?»"

.~{:----------: features=+views :-:}~.

«Then the best response would be to retreat from the situation and leave it to my people. Earth need not concern the Kree any further; for as you said it is a city lost to you, yes?» Blackagar's eyebrow quirks up, eyes solid on Hala as he 'speaks'.

The woman doesn't crack a smile. The absence of those physical tells right down to the measure of her posture makes her a peculiar subject, surely, to someone used to reading posture and unconscious, unspoken elements. Not so with her; she's a closed book, text under shadow, not an impression of touch anywhere to be found proverbially. Sun-Ya is marginally more exciting on that front. He looks mildly displeased about having to translate that, possibly because the inferences between the Inhuman's statement lead to other conclusions.

Hala replies quite simply, "«From your perspective, perhaps. Not from ours.»"

Blackagar glances around the area of the room then back to Hala, now that she has responded it makes it much easier to speak directly to her. «From my perspective, you have arrived in a system with next to no information. You know as little about the situation as we do. Therefore we are on even footing in that regard; except the difference of our familiarity with the world which is our home and your lack thereof as visitors.» The King doesn't smirk or show outward expression. «Either your ancient systems are malfunctioning; which you would not admit to. Or you have been pulled here by a third party that you are uncertain of; which again you would not admit to. Which factions are you currently warring with that would do such an action?»

The room's pallor and relative lack of features make it typical to most guest chambers. Nonetheless, those thin bands of light rotate to offer the illuminated interface. The evolving relationship between the database and Blackagar's inputs allow quicker selection of words, nuances building on experience. "«We may agree on the danger from any party signaling our attention by crying wolf.»" The system has to substitute that compared to what she uses as an idiom. "«We perform due diligence by investigating the source. A legitimate threat deserves review. Upon completion, appropriate action follows. Which factions indeed benefit by our proximity? Few among our people. Then look to your planet. Who gains by your absence, or by conflict turning two of the dominant civilisations upon one another? I can name a few. But then, I know who /else/ calls from Earth.»"

If Blackagar is surprised by the implication of someone else calling from earth he conceals it across his steeled features. Instead he simply waits a moment then moves some, «So you know of one who calls from Earth but not the others. This does not bode well for you I suspect if you have that uncertainty. To know one but not all leaves a flank exposed. Threats at doors, hmm? But as the flow of information will not continue, we must be at an impasse.:

The glowing white eyes strafe a look about the room. Whatever data slips through the cracks into the databases doesn't seem to phase her much. "«It does not bode well for yours, either, I think. Information never flows in a single direction. We are not the only ones capable of tracing something to its source. I know one of your allies tries to infiltrate our ship and our systems.»" The calm state around the Accuser hasn't altered, for all the humming cadence of her hammer is a persistent presence, stronger than the one wielded by the translator. "«Threats at doors. I am to guess he does this to protect you, and your people. But that, in turn, could be reasonably called another act of espionage and belligerence when we are navigating through perilous straits. I have my reasons for seeing to the safety of my crew.»"

«In the same fashion I have my reasons to seeing to the safety of my people.» Blackagar counters and nods towards the lights that move around the perimeter of the room, «And why my people seek information. When it is not provided and we are held prisoner; one should expect subversiveness. Just as I anticipated agitation at such subversiveness.»

"You are not prisoners. You were returned when it was clear the imminent danger passed." Sun-Ya gives that emphasis, his arms crossed in front of him. "You showed up on our ship, one of your men covered in our blood, and others injured. Given the circumstances, I'd say that's a fair position. Would we have encountered the same if we'd shown up similarly in Washington? Your city? You've received care, food, and treatment as necessary. No one violated your privacy. Yet here you are surveying ours. Tread lightly."

Blackagar quirks an eyebrow at Sun-Ya, «Our entreat into your territory was not of our own volition. We were brought here against our will through some kind of transportation. Considering the stance between our peoples; do not claim a high road of innocence.» If there could be a tone to his voice, perhaps there would be. But Blackagar has none. «It remains however, that I am here as a means to attempt to move forward. Either we will and should do such, or we will not and as I am not a prisoner, will take my leave.»

Hala shifts her weight. How exciting, movement. She has that cool way of detachment about her, soldier through and through. "«This technology is ancient. What, exactly, are you proposing to do?»" It's a flat, simple question.

Blackagar is contemplative for several moments before he glances towards a wall then back towards Hala, «I am proposing that you share with us what information you have. In turn we will share what you have. In the end, we will handle the situation on Earth, you remain out of the system and we will keep you appraised on what we discover.»


Hala reasons with this for several moments. Her peer stands with her, his posture upright at soldier stance and his expression partly clouded by the helm he wears. The tall Kree woman is no different. She speaks in Kree. Her associate translates, a moment's pause needed to fully interpret her will.

"This requires trust and violating standard methods of inquiry," says Sun-Ya in his rather Bostonian English. "In principle it makes sense. In function, impossible. We have no guarantees that you will provide the necessary information or withhold things. The primary contact for your people is noted for his doublespeak and attempts at duplicity. It is not to say you have the same tendency but we cannot take the risk. We would be happiest for a firm resolution, and an end to the broadcasts if made in error." It needn't be said what happens in they aren't. Two subs lie on the ocean floor as testament to that.


«The primary contact you speak of /is/ duplicitous. The error is not in the approach but the individual you have utilized previously. I will not work with the Kree if you set foot or interfere with Earth further; the humans of that world do not need such complications.» Blackagar's posture himself remains relaxed if not a bit emphasized at moments. «You have no guarantees except that by interfering on the world; you will incite retaliation and conflict. No, the path I have laid out, although requiring a trust between both, is the one that will bring the most forthright answers. I will deal with Earth and will be held to account for it.»


"We know you and your history. That doesn't build trust. We have not done harm to you or yours," Sun-Ya translates on behalf of the Kree Accuser, "despite knowing one of yours has tried to turn this ship into a weapon against us. Your suggestions are non-starters. 'Stay here and let us do the work.' Who holds you and your people to account if they are treacherous? If we were to levy punishment for someone violating this trust, you would still act against us for engaging to inquire about that."

Hala shakes her head slightly and draws back a step. Small but substantial. Sun-Ya looks back to her. He nods. "With respect, this is not acceptable to the Kree Empire. Regardless of her opinions, Hala cannot accept the terms as such. However, we will return you to your planet at the safest place adjacent to your depature point."


Blackagar's eyebrow quirks but then he nods slowly, «You have my position. Know that I will view any incursion by the Kree upon the world as an act that will be met with opposition. If I stand alone in this, I stand alone; but I will not see you bring your kind to disrupting that world. You have already done so more than enough.»


Hala doesn't so much as frown at that. She has very little facial expressiveness to begin with. Sun-Ya nods curtly. "Your statements have been recorded. The Toliman Corps does not care for your world. Nor have we been here prior. We're not here for any other reason than to silence a beacon." He taps a fingertip against his hip, and Hala departs, stepping outside into the corridor.

"You'll be sent back immediately with your consent. Or you can go by ship, but it's faster to use the alternate means. Preference?" Sun-Ya asks.


Blackagar simply nods towards Sun-Ya; seemingly indicating the alternate means by doing so. Although flying himself would be amusing, he isn't quite ready for that.


Give it two minutes, even less. Sun-Ya waits in the doorway, speaking in Kree, an easy pair of set phrases. Hala probably countersigns the command or the ship decides to recite a happy song about gelato to Earth. Who knows? But the results are fairly similar. A recited message repeats several times over, altered at the end. The Kree quietly says, "Thirty seconds. You'll feel very little out of the ordinary."

The pale glow appearing on the ceiling and the ground correspond to a pair of in-filled rotating disks. Data flares along one of the interfaces, swiftly growing opaque. Being transported via Kree technology is somewhat surprising, probably, like sliding through a cool, dry waterfall. The downward pull of gravity doesn't reassert itself until the third or fourth second. Then he's standing on the outskirts of a dusty city sometime mid-morning. Heat already beats down. Brown walls and brown landscapes — rolling, scrub-swathed — greet Blackagar's eye, and the occasional honk of a weathered, overloaded white truck blares. Welcome to Erbil.


Blackagar runs his hands over himself, checking to make sure everything is where it should be and as it should be. Finding it all in place he glances up at the sky, frown etched on his features before he starts off walking around one of the moving vehicles.


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