2009-07-12: Getting a Hand Up


Keld_icon.jpg Aaron_icon.jpg Miguel_icon.jpg

Summary: Keld meets some Avengers, and doesn't learn English yet.

Date: July 12, 2009

Log Title Getting a Hand Up

Rating: PG-13

Kitchen, Avengers' Mansion

The kitchen is oversized, preparing for the possibility of cooking for large numbers. All the appliances are silver and black, lending to the sleek design for the kitchen interior.

Having a rare Sunday off from his normal job, Aaron's come by the mansion to have a visit and see what's new around here. He got the message about the Alien, but hasn't really done anything in reference to it. After all, he's only JUST become an Avenger. Vines are currently rather present and active in his hair as he takes a seat in the kitchen at the 'bar', just to stretch and think for a few minutes. It's quieter here than at the station.

Aforementioned alien had an odd night. First, She-Hulk brought him through an extremely chaotic and noisy city, as vibrant as any trade-port he'd seen anywhere even though it was, maybe, more monocultural. At least, more exclusively human. He got to meet a man named "Jarvis" who appeared to be servant-trade, and an elect of that caste as well. He was amazingly efficient, bringing human-style clothing that fit perfectly the first time, and providing him a room, where he was told he could sleep. So, sleep he did, for an entirely sybaritic and unexpected four hours, twice as long as he really needed, but his body was perhaps repairing damage he hadn't noticed.
Following the scent of "coffee" - She-Hulk had given him a glass of the brew from the … Mick Donuls? If she'd just stuck around a bit longer he might've gotten more than rudimentary English. Ah well. He enters the kitchen, and stops short. A human, being devoured by a zkah-ramk vine? No, wait, he's not screaming in pain and ecstasy, it has to be something else. Best not to assume. Keld brings his right hand to his chest in a casual half-salute, and speaks a greeting.
"azt khiimb-hab iktam," and waits to be invited further. Humans might not wish to share their eating-acts with someone who does not owe them honor, after all.

Aaron's not really eating, just thinking. Hearing the odd greeting, he looks up, tilting his head. "Ah, you must be the alien guy they found." He says, just speaking normally, unsure whether or not the guy can understand him. One of the vines in his hair curls out, shaping itself into a question mark. "I'm Aaron." He offers. While he's most comfortable in his uniform from the force, he's fine in normal clothing. At the moment, he's clad in a simple pair of brown jeans and a green t-shirt. "Do you speak any English, or… not yet?" He asks, politely. He does offer a smile, so hopefully he doesn't look too unapproachable, but with the standard cop-look, who knows how people will respond. Especially people who aren't used to the local customs and mores.

Having been away from the mansion helping the guys over at Project Pegasus deal with an energy being they couldn't communicate with for the past few days, Miguel's just getting back now. he got the message about an alien on his IdentiPhone but was a bit too busy to deal with it. Coming into the kitchen from out back, having flown back in his usual manner, Miguel's in uniform right now. He pauses when he sees Aaron and Keld, recognizing one but not the other. It takes him a split second to remember to use words instead of electic jolts to communicate but he offers a smile before speaking. "Hello, Aaron. And you must be our new guest," he says, stepping into the room.

Keld takes a moment to match the words to meaning - at least, the ones he managed to retain from the too-brief contact with She-Hulk the night before - and contstructs what he thinks is a proper answer, but as he is about to speak, another strange human enters, this one wearing what looks suspiciously like a Science Guard uniform, though they would cover more skin to protect against chemical spills in the laboratory or factory.
"Yes. Little. I Keld Jonalh am, warrior Dakkam from." He gives a more formal salute to the officer, who must be on duty.

Hmm. Warriors? Well, that must be how he sees things. What would be the proper terminology for what Aaron does for a living? "I guess you could say I'm a city guard." Aaron says with a nod before turning to Miguel. "Hey, Miguel. Just meeting the new guy." He says with a half-grin. He glances over his shoulder to the window overlooking the yard. He still has some work to do on that at some point. "Welcome to Earth. And to New York City." He offers, back to Keld as he rises and moves towards the refrigerator. Juice is in order for him.

Miguel pauses at the salute and considers it a moment before giving the same salute back. "Hello, I'm Miguel. I suppose you could call me a city-guard as well," he says. "It's very nice to meet you, Keld Jonalh. What brings you to Earth?"

Still too much too fast. Keld remembers 'city' but 'guard' is blurry. He remains standing beside the entry, smiling for a quick moment before placing his hands behind his lower back as he assumes a nearly-human-military 'parade rest' stance, then considers. It would be good to converse with more ease, but how to ask permission to touch one of them, especially in the food-consuming place. At least he's not hungry himself; the 'big mac' thing had sufficient energy to last him for a full ten-day shift if he didn't have to do physical labor.
"Miguel," he repeats, nodding towards the uniformed one, and "Aaron" nodding towards the fellow who was apparently in species-traff with some sort of plant symbiote. Iron self-control and extensive training keeps him from shuddering or staring or fleeing, because that would be profoundly rude to his hosts. The question, not completely understood, but he recognizes it as similar to what She-Hulk asked the night before.
"azt shab-ta dokh-sta-iktam," Keld says, apologetically, wishing he could remember what the right words were.

"Please, come in. No need to hang around the doorway," Miguel offers to Keld, moving to sit down. He seems confused by what Keld says next, tilting his head to the side. "Umm," the lightning controller pauses. "I'm sorry but I did not understand that."
Ah, permission to join at the fast-table. Keld crosses to the breakfast bar and pulls up a not-in-use stool, relaxing a bit. Well. Barstools seem to be the same everywhere that human-shaped entities can be found, because he sits on the thing in a comfortable way that looks like he's done it often.
The words don't come. Stubborn words. Keld holds out his hand in a 'handshake' gesture, "Can zu-talk?" but that bit of Dakkamite grammar in there may just confuse things.

"Zoo talk?" Aaron asks, as he returns, with a glass of juice. He extends a hand with a shrug, a little confused in exactly what is wanted, but hey. "We have zoos. But… I don't know for sure if that's what you're talking about. Probably a language barrier."

Miguel nods. "We do have zoos. I was planning to check out Central Park zoo next week," he remarks. He extends his hand as well, wondering just what Keld really means.

Two of them, at the same time. Keld takes both hands, one in his left and one in his right. If either hasn't clasped hands with a super-strong human before this, the sensation is rather like having an iron statue take his hand, then revert to something more like flesh - the skin is smooth and warm, but the hand is completely unyielding for a second, before relaxing completely. There is a momentary sensation like hearing a song that isn't quite loud enough, and then the strangest thing - at the point of contact, a sort of 'shared awareness' manifests, and the words spoken earlier by the alien are clear. The first thing, "it is a good thing to see you" which is a polite greeting, then "I need to touch your body," which is actually intended innocently, as "need" is not in an intimate mode.
"This is better. We can understand each other." And that's understood in each man's native language.

"Oh, wow." Aaron says, blinking suddenly. "That's… definitely interesting." He says with a bit of a grin. Poor Tim would probably freak a little over this one. He chuckles a bit. Fortunately, working with the Avengers and others, Super Strength people are fairly normal in his life. "So, by touch you can understand us?"

Miguel's reaction is pretty similar to Aaron's, "Woah," a pause to remember the super-strength grips of old teammates. "Some kind of psionic ability? It's quite amazing."

Keld very slightly inclines his head, while looking to the side slightly, and then smiles more openly and nods, and it's clear from the slightly overlapping consciousness that the gestures mean the same thing, agreement. A sense of amusement carries over at Miguel's words.
"I agree, it's new to me as well. I got it from being exposed to your sun, Miguel. To answer your earlier question, my people can gain powers beyond our normal strengths when exposed for a time to the light of your sun, and, because we are not an empire, the empires around us have been trying to conquer us for many (pause) thousand years now. We have detente with Shiar, and the Skrull and Kree are fighting each other mostly, the Badoon have been repulsed, but others are growing in power, and my leaders-elite wished us to have warriors with power to match some of these. I was accepted, with others, but I don't know where they are now."
Keld pauses a second, then says, "I woke up in your sun's corona, some sort of power-overload. I moved myself here, and crashed, and now I seem to be at loose ends."

"Ah. Unlike some of us who are just born with the ability to handle different energies and powers." Aaron says with a nod. "My own came to me at puberty. No explanation, no real knowledge other than what I taught myself as I went along." He pauses for a moment considering the rest. "Well, I'm sure we can figure something out for you here. But then, we have hundreds of people with interesting abilities, including some aliens from various places you mentioned as well. Our planet seems to be a universal melting pot." He says with a shrug. He's heard of Kree and Skrull before after all.

Miguel blinks. "Powered by our sun? Like…Superman?" he asks with an amused smile. "My powers came about as the result of an accident involving some super science," he says. "That's right. I believe one of those Young Avengers is a skrull. Or a kree. I'm not quite sure," he says, a little embarrassed at the inability to remember.

Melting pot? Keld shrugs in return, and the mental image flashes past of Earth being at a crossroads, just one point downstream of what seems suspiciously like a cross between a giant truck-stop and a bazaar in a port-city in Indonesia, but with aliens.
Miguel's comment catches his interest and alarm though. Superman, never heard of him, but Young Avengers - Skrull … or KREE? Wait. They're mortal enemies, AND hard to mistake from one another.
"I hope that won't be an issue. My people are officially at war with both races, but, no active combat when I went into hibersleep. But I don't know how long that was because my life-pod was destroyed in the sun."

"I haven't met him yet. But I did read a little on him. I can't remember really. Never been one to watch heroics too much. Too busy doing my own. Speaking of, I think I need to finish the yardwork I promised Jessica I'd do after I let it get overrun with Kudzu the other day." He says with a chuckle as he moves to pull away. "I'll see you both around." He offers.

Miguel shrugs. "I don't really know. I haven't met or seen him yet. I just know he's one of the Young Avengers and calls himself Hulkling. I doubt it'll be a problem though," he says. A smile is offered to Aaron. "See you later, Aaron. If you need a hand, just give me a call."
The same thought goes through Keld's mind, quickly: if he can help, just ask.
"I am gladdened. Only, now, I have one problem. I don't speak your language," and Keld pauses, "I'm not sure this is the same language as Aaron's speech. It feels different."

Miguel pauses but eventually lets out a slight chuckle. "It's alright. There are many different languages here on Earth. I can speak two, English and Spanish. English is what Aaron was speaking. It's the more common one in this country," he explains. "Can you learn a new language with your telepathic abilities?" he asks curiously.

Keld is a bit of an open book as far as his surface thoughts go, at least while their hands remain in contact.
*Maybe?!Should work right?Can try?But not to offend/too-intimate-too-fast?!(ToobadSheHulkwassoabruptleaving)*
"Perhaps. I think I can but it would require more contact, more skin. More intimate is a harder thing for my kind, Warrior, and I already have honor-debt, so, if it works would prefer to give you a skill in return."

Miguel blinks a few times, arching an eyebrow slowly. "How much skin are you talking about?" he asks. "And what do you mean by intimate?" he goes on, wondering what Keld's people's definition of intimate is. "Skill?"

Keld suddenly realises that he might be overreaching. But, Miguel hasn't recoiled in horror, so, a bit of hope sparks.
"I'm not sure. I think that as much as if we were wrestling," and the accompanying mental image is a rather full-sensory touch-memory of Keld and someone who could be his physical double engaged in classical greco-roman-style wrestling, and then the memory is quickly squashed.
"Only, not actually struggling. I think, also, you call it a kiss, because it brings nerves closer together, but, not sure how long it takes."

Miguel pauses, realization slowly dawning on him. "You're talking about what…sex?" he wonders. "I…well…uh…that is something intimate…" he trails off awkwardly.

Keld would blush if that was possible and he were actually, y'know, shy.
"Not that intimate, sorry. It would complicate things. And we don't share warrior-bond and there's no gene-meld tanks here. Are there?"
From the background-thoughts it's also clear that the real problem is, of course, that it could be TOO distracting from the task at hand (copying neural-nets) because, and especially, speaking in English and/or Spanish should not be wired into sexual arousal. And if the instincts are right, it will take about fifteen minutes of contact to get the language, and then another however-many to transfer the payment-skill. Language would be simplest, but not really much of a payment in kind. Kree language perhaps. Skrull, well, Keld knows the static language of Skrulls, but cannot even begin to speak their shifting-language. Few non-shapeshifters can.

Miguel nods slowly. "Oh. So just like…naked wrestling," he chuckles. "Still a bit…intimate," he says. "Typically, in human culture, people prefer to get to know one another better before getting…that close," he says. "What's a warrior-bond? And a gene-meld tank?"

Keld relaxes the slight edge of tension he had built up; opening emotional pathways to permit that closeness was more stressful than he expected. Miguel's questions are easier to answer.
"Dakkamite Warriors - Dakkam is my planet of origin - we have a code of honor. We are at risk, so we do not normally form emotional bonds with those who are not also warriors. Warrior Bond is the contract we make with our squad-mates, it's the closest we have to the family that other Dakkamites sometimes form. And our people don't usually choose to bear children to term in their bodies. My fathers were both front-line Warriors, and I come from the combination of their genetic material and an egg donated by their warrior-bond-sister."
That, by the way, was also more intimate than Keld would have been except for the lowering of inhibition from the mindshare touch.

Miguel seems very surprised but also happy for some reason. "So your people are a lot more accepting of such things," he says. "Sadly, it's not the same here on Earth," he sighs. "People usually aren't so welcoming of anyone that would prefer to be involved with someone of the same sex," he explains.

Keld seems puzzled, unmistakable across the link. "Then you really don't have gene-meld tech? How would two males who have desirable traits be able to pass them on to a single offspring?"
He thinks about the surface-emotion he's feeling from Miguel. "They don't… welcome? But that doesn't make sense. Why would it be any of their business?"
And a revelation hits him. "Oh, I think I understand. Do Terrans still have tribal-style authority-structure families?"

Miguel shakes his head. "We don't really. There is…research into that kind of field," he says, remembering something Dr. Pym mentioned back when they were both West Coast Avengers. "But usually, you need a man and a woman to produce an offspring between humans," the man from California states. "I'm sorry…tribal-style authority-structure? Can you explain?"

How to explain … Dakkam has its own problems, of course. Keld tries to form the ideas in the language he's borrowing.
"Your people have a sort of pseudo-random genetics, no? I had this in our overview of unguided genetics. Males and females attracted by scent, by pheromones and facial and body structure and instincts, family organization evolving over time, paternal or maternal authority controlling reproduction to ensure optimal genetic outcome. Except that there's no deliberate filtering out of damaging components."
It's an interesting boil of references and incomplete associative links, watching another mind at work. So this is the stuff telepaths have to put up with.
"Anyway. Time plus instinct plus tradition plus random genetics almost always results in prolonged, extended family structures, which gain power, and all sorts of rules controlling reproduction."

Miguel nods slowly. "That's…part of it, yes. But we have a lot more complicating factors thrown in such as money," he says. "And power," a shake of his head. "It's complicated no matter where one goes."

Keld laughs, not bitterly but resignedly. "Indeed. The undirected approach has its benefits as well. You Terrans have a much greater choice about what you can become. I was pretty well guaranteed to be a warrior, coming from two such, although they could have changed that while I was being grown. But then, it would no more have been my choice to be whatever else they designed, because we do what satisfies our needs the most. It may be an illusion, but you have more freedom."

Miguel smiles slightly. "Well, now that you're here, you could always become whatever you want," he chimes. "If you're staying that is. Or are you going to try and get back to your home planet?"

Now, that is a really good question. There were no orders. And … it doesn't actually FEEL right, at the moment, and besides, there's that huge debt of honor to She-Hulk for feeding and clothing him.
"No, I think there are things I need to learn here, and I have a debt to discharge. Which leads me to ask, since you Avengers have become my hosts, what service you require of me in exchange?"

Miguel seems surprised. "Service? Keld…you don't have to do anything. This is the sort of thing we do. We help people," he says with a grin. "We don't expect anything in return for it."

Keld shakes his head in the Terran gesture of negation, "my honor as an Elect Warrior demands it of me, and besides I would go stark mad from boredom. If I may not do house-duty, since you have a very comptent Elect servant, I offer my service in any warrior duty that you require."

Miguel lets out a thoughtful noise, 'Avengers' floating to the front of his mind. "I don't know," he says. "I think you could talk to Spider-Woman about it. She may have an idea or two. I can see what she says if you'd like."

Keld says, "Spider-Woman?" The image passes very quickly, but Keld would recognize the red-and-yellow uniform now. "She is your Squad-Archon? Leader, I mean. Yes, please. I thank you for talking with me, Miguel. It feels as if it has been so long since I was around people."

Miguel frowns a moment, unsure of how Jessica would react to being the leader. She is the best candidate right now though. "At the moment, yes. She's in charge," he says. He then offers a smile. "It's nothing. It's been nice talking with you too Keld. I know the feeling," he chuckles.

Keld sighs, and relinquishes his hold on Miguel's hand, and the shared mind-space fades, but the emotional and mental isolation also restores his barriers, which is a re-balancing thing.
"habvekhko uthiktam." And the transient left-over sense of meaning, "good talk with-you-honored."

Miguel flexes his hand a moment just to get the blood going and nods. "Very good talking to you as well."

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