*Episode 1-4: The Price of Peace

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OOC Date: April 28, 2011
IC Date: February 7, 2128

The human peace delegation goes aboard the alien flagship. Terms are discussed; questions are asked; a trade is brokered.

Alien Flagship - The Corona Borealis Supercluster

Description not available.

The countdown reaches its end, the 24 hours are up and it's time to send the shuttle with a delegation to the alien flagship. Two Marines in power armor are being sent along with the pilot in heavy armor, the Commander, Science Officer Holtz, Intelligence Officer Yin, and the ship's psychiatrist Dr. Jackson as representatives. They board the shuttle and are ready for launch, clearance having been given to go.

Power. Armor. If only it holds up to it's name against the aliens should it be needed. Michael does a second ready check of his suits systems to make sure everything is five by five and then nods towards Dominic, "Everything seems copacetic on my end sir." The power armor distorting his deep rumbly voice only slightly. After all, there's only so much it can do to a voice that deep. He waits for the rest of the crew to board the shuttle, assuming of course he and his CO will be first ones on the 'beach' so to speak, and last ones off. If anything though the armor just makes his hulking form, even more hulking.

This is not going to be as bumpy of a ride as the last time Ben-Haim had his hands on controls, thankfully. Sort of uncomfortably in his armor, his head turns enough to see the group making their way on out of the corner of his eye, last one focused on being Eisley. "When you're ready, sir."

Dominic takes his seat on board the shuttle, dressed in the power armor, he checks to make sure that the suit and the weaponry are in working order before he sits back in his seat and prepares for the boarding on the alien ship. He looks towards Michael as he speaks, nodding once. "Good. Let's just hope that we won't need it." He says to him before he turns and stares out ahead of him as he mentally readies himself for whatever they're about to face.
Poor Dr. Jackson doesn't get any power armor. He's seated in the craft, a slight and serious frown creasing his lips. He's silent, and has been for most of the day, inquisitive and thoughtful as they prepare for the delegation. Silent, seated, hands clasped on his lap, he waits.

The Commander finds herself a seat and settles in to make last-minute checks of her EVA suit. The Marines might get their shiny power armor, but everyone else has been required to put on an encounter suit, for all kinds of reasonable practicality. It is a touch awkward being suited up like that over a dress uniform, but whatever discomfort she might display is probably not due to the many layers of… stuff. Once satisfied that everything is in place she goes still, though only for a moment, head bowing, all breath going out. When she straightens back up it is to square her shoulders, and to look up toward the front of the little vessel. "Take us out," she directs.

The laser weapons salvaged off of the derelict alien ship were fully tested by engineering and the Marines have been able to train with them for the past few days, enough time for them to be ready to use them if need be. It's ironic that the weapons they'll be carrying are the same weapons made by the aliens they're about to visit. With everyone in the minimum of an EVA suit considering it likely that the onboard atmosphere of the alien ship will not be hospitable, they all have at least some protection should it be necessary.

The shuttle launches smoothly from the bay into the void of space, streaking off towards the central ship of the five alien vessels, the flagship, by far the largest ship any of them have ever seen. In the distance, a single derelict Devourer vessel sits quiet and still.

"Aye, sir." Ben-Haim's soft-spoken voice answers Eisley, head turning back towards the front shield of the shuttle. His silence as he flips the last two engagement switches is heavier than simple concentration, though if there are words flowing through his head his lips don't move to make them apparent to the rest. After a moment or two he looks back up. "Shuttle-one to Genesis. Launching." And off they go.

Laser weapons might be on hand, but Michael isn't forgetting his good old fashioned slug throwers built into his suit. "Never know," He rumbles quietly to himself, even if his voice does carry rather well, "Might be they have shields against lasers, but not bullets." He rumbles a chuckle as he leans back into the power armor at his station with the acceleration of the shuttle. After that however he grows deathly silent, serious, focusing himself on the task that will be soon to come.

Coordinates come up on the pilot's screen, instructions on where to go to board the alien ship. As the shuttle nears the indicated and location, a landing bay opens to allow entrance. It's a massive hangar with numerous craft of various sizes, ranging from smaller than the shuttle to four or five times its size. A section has obviously been cleared for landing.

Dominic's gaze moves from the spot in front of him towards the front of the shuttle, trying to get a look at the fleet of alien ships that they're heading towards. Inside his power armor, his foot taps to the beat of whatever song he is singing in his head to get himself in the right frame of mind for the mission. As the ship grows closer, he makes one final check of his suit and weapons before his gaze moves over each person in the back of the shuttle with him in turn.

Jackson sits back a little in the seat, perhaps just trying to settle in and make himself comfortable on the short journey. His fingers lace together on his lap, and he glances down thoughtfully at them. He isn't unfriendly, though he's not speaking unless spoken to at the moment. Lost in thought would be a good explanation. As they approach, he glances up at the screen curiously but likely can see little from his vantage point.

"They've been kind enough to provide a map, sir." Ben-Haim's voice is ever so slightly dry. His eyes stay forward, flickering down every so often to check their progress in space along the trajectory indicated on his instruments. As the landing bay opens, giving them their first glimpse into the maw, he breathes slowly through his nose. "Coordinates set. Setting down in three…two…"

"Remember, gentlemen, that this is above all things a diplomatic mission. This is our first contact with a living alien species, and so far they have not initiated any hostilities." Eisley is calm, almost tranquil; though she might have been a little bit frayed around the edges several hours ago everything has apparently been patched back up and put together again. Granted, her version of serenity is a cool thing, like so much polished steel, but it is better than many of the alternatives. She does not move until the shuttle comes to a complete halt and the whisper of the engine goes quiet, at which point she rises.

The shuttle sets down smoothly, the hangar doors closing behind it and the air lock sealing off the room from the vacuum of space. Two tall, attenuated alien figures emerge from the far end of the hangar, both easily six and a half feet in height and garbed in crimson and gold robes of the ornate design. They are smooth all over, a faint yellow tinge to their papery thin flesh, and mostly humanoid in shape if elongated and freakishly spindly. Their faces seem almost featureless, and yet it is easy to tell the two apart - while they both have a simple slit for a mouth and two smaller slits for nostrils, their large gray-black eyes are slightly different in shape and their egg shaped heads are structured a bit differently as well, one with higher cheekbones and a longer face, the other more rounded. Both lack any curves, suggesting that they are male. Atop their heads sits the crustacean creature that would seem to control them, shiny scarlet red like the robes their hosts wear, chitnous and spiderlike, like a hand cradling the top of the skull. They drift over almost as if walking on air, gliding along the hangar floor towards the shuttle with their hands steepled before them.

Dominic smirks slightly as he glances towards Eisley as he hears her speaking to the group. "Don't worry, Commander. We'll remember to keep our cool." He looks back towards Michael, nodding his head once to the other man as the touches down. Once Eisley stands, he does as well, taking a deep breath. He lets Eisley take the lead as the aliens emerge and step forward, following along behind her.

Michael follows like a good soldier, moving to be side to side with Dominic as they move to back up and support the XO when she departs the craft. Somehow he suppresses a shudder at the sight of the red crabs on the aliens heads, instead he sweeps with his eyes as best he can to make sure that there isn't -more- of the red crabs trying to sneak up on them or start clambering on suits. He stay silent though, not his job to talk right now.

Jackson's hands unclasp, and he clenches one hand into a fist before splaying his fingers idly. He rises to his feet slowly, his eyes widening slightly at the sight of the beings. Curiosity and a mild sense of wonder are on his features, and he appears far too interested in studying them to be able to carry on a conversation at present. And thus here is yet another pose where Dr. Jackson is not talking.

In the movies, this is where the chauffeur slips off to have a smoke and a game of cards. But not being a smoker and having nowhere to go even if cards were remotely a thought in the first place, Ben-Haim makes his way out at the back of the party and stays there. His protective boots make soft thuds until he coems to a standstill, hands folding rather stick-up-the-arse primly behind him. His eyes flicker to the doctor, then Eisley, then to the odd creatures coming to meet them.

Any sneak attack is highly unlikely here, there are none of the vines growing up the walls and none of the plans dangling down from the ceiling overhead. The massive hangar is not unlike one they would see on an Earth ship.

The two aliens offer a polite nod and bow, turning and sweeping a hand towards the door that they entered from. Without a word or further gesture, they then turn and walk back towards it, apparently assuming that their guests will follow. The EVA suits indicate that the atmosphere here is breathable, though not likely ideal for long-term sustainability. Still, the aliens don't seem to be bothered by the fact that the humans wear them, nor do they seem bothered by the power armor and obvious weaponry. Indeed, they are unarmed and have turned their backs to their guests, making them quite vulnerable.

Eisley also watches the approaching aliens, very still, very silent, for several long moments. It gives each time to study the other, surely. This is not something that can last forever though, and once the pair - quartet? - of creatures are within ten paces or so of the shuttle she finally steps out and down onto the hanger floor, then moves to follow their unusual, er, hosts.

Dominic follows Eisley down the ramp and onto the hanger floor as she does, glancing towards Michael before he starts scanning his side of the hanger, taking in everything that he can see and keeping an eye out for anything that he's not suppose to see sneaking up on them. While it seems that their hosts are maintaining the peace agreement that's lasted so far, he doesn't want to take any chances. As the group follows the aliens, he keeps pace next to Michael and behind Eisley.

Walking slowly with the group, Jackson still retains that curiosity. He's probably as nervous as anyone else, though he seems to be finding some enjoyment in this as well. Moving slowly with the others, he keeps pace with the rest of the group to make his way where directed by their hosts.

Once through the door, things change rather rapidly. The ship becomes almost instantly organic. Dark, heavy vinework covers most of the walls, extending all the way up to the ceiling where it becomes bushy shrubbery, overgrowth dangling down in leafy tendrils. A very faint mist hangs high overhead, seeming to emanate and cling to the plants that grow there. A long corridor with numerous doors along the way extends down to what would appear to be an elevator at the end. This, it would seem, is the destination. The two aliens never look back at their guests, simply gliding effortlessly down the hall.

Vulnerable could very well be an illusion, the hangar bay doors are now shut effectively cutting off retreat. Michael doesn't let his guard down, every sense on high alert as he too tries to keep an eye on everything as they move. He'll even try to keep an eye on the motion detectors and sensors to see if anything is sneaking up on the group as best he can. Everything he can do to stay alert and aware, he does.

Ben-Haim also walks, since that appears to be the thing to be doing, staying off behind Jackson and to his right. His eyes flicker briefly around the landing bay, taking a mental note here and there perhaps — an engineer-turned-pilot's attention was bound to be caught up with the technology, at least for a minute.
Nobody needed to tell Yin to sit the hell down and shut the hell up. Or, as is presently the case, to follow the aliens wherever they might be leading her — and shut the hell up. It's enough of a struggle to move fluidly in that suit of hers, which might be why she's not at all close to the front of the pack. Or maybe it's because she's doing her best to memorize the details of everything she sees, from the heavy vines to the clinging mist to the bizarre aliens themselves. But it's mostly because of the suit.

They all got the 'Shut the Hell up speech' and they seem to have taken it to heart. Dominic continues to follow the aliens as his eyes take in as much of the ship as he can, but mainly focuses on making sure he can find his way back to the hanger in a hurry should the need for retreat comes up. Since neither of the aliens speak, Dominic follows the same procedure, not wanting to accidentally offend the aliens somehow and get everyone turned into hosts. That'd be a big buzz kill.

It is all quite processional, this: the aliens, the Commander, the suits of power armor, the rest of the delegation… almost like it were planned out somehow. The pace set by that strange, gliding pair in their long, red robes is maintained by Eisley, who makes no attempt to either catch up with them or to be left behind. The encounter suit covers a multitude of sins when it comes to body language, reducing her down to a thing of pure purpose, fully intent upon following them to the elevator, at very least, and very likely to wherever else they are being taken.

The two aliens stop at the elevator door and step to each side of it, once again bowing politely and sweeping a hand towards the elevator as it opens. They say nothing, but clearly they are inviting their guests to step in. Assuming that their guests do so, they step in after them, one of them pushing a button on a panel of buttons marked with alien symbols. The elevator doors close and they can feel the cab move upward.

The elevator doors open again to reveal a somewhat large chamber filled with more of the vines and plants and mist. At the far end of the room is a table set with exactly enough chairs for the guests, and at the end of which sits another, solitary alien. The two inside the elevator step out just far enough to move to each side of the door and offer one more bow and sweeping gesture towards the table and awaiting alien.

Michael tries to keep track of how many times the symbols change on the elevator as a rough estimate of how many 'levels' they've gone up… just in case. When they come to the table and whatnot Michael looks over at Dominic for lead but he definitely doesn't seem inclined to sit, not that such would be comfortable in power armor to begin with.

"'Take us to your leader,'" says Yin to herself, her eyes wide beneath the transparent faceplate over her face. The woman doesn't giggle — that would not be Appropriate — but she does allow herself a ghost of a smile as she finds a chair and stands behind it, waiting for the officers to sit before she does the same. The longer that takes, the longer she has to commit things to memory.

Holtz is near the back of the procession of humans, a wary expression visible through the faceplate of his encounter suit's helmet. Like Dominic, he's checking out the surroundings as the group proceeds towards the elevator; unlike the marine, Holtz isn't looking for landmarks, but rather at the ship itself… the walls, the floor, the ceiling, any visible controls. Anything that might give him any insight whatsoever into the aliens' technology. As they enter the elevator, Holtz peers towards the panel and the symbols upon it. His wariness slowly begins to turn to barely veiled interest. The wariness returns, however, when the group exits the elevator. The CPO takes a seat at the far end of the table, and once again his eyes begin to wander.

Ben-Haim doesn't quite smile at Yin's murmur — really the small twitch of the corner of his mout might just be the side effect of his slight sniff. He says nothing as he trails behind his superiors, his back still fairly tense as he waits for the officers to seat themselves.

Eisley crosses the chamber to that table and, after a moment, draws out the chair most directly opposite this symbiote-and-host pair. There is one advantage to the EVA suit; it retains a great deal of flexibility, and sitting is really only as hard as one makes it. Hers might have come equipped with her standard issue steel spine reinforcement, given how stiffly she accomplishes this, hands folding together in her lap. Glances are given to the right and to the left, looks traded with whichever other representatives of the human race happen to be nearest and willing to sit near her. Still, however, there is silence. The issue of communication has not yet been broached.

The two guides remain at the elevator, stationed to each side of the door as the guests head to the table. The alien waiting at the table, their host apparently, looks and dresses similar to the other two, though a high golden collar rises up around the back of the head. He? Yes, he. He bows his head once and gestures with both hands to the seats before him, then folds them up atop the table surface where they can easily be seen. Intentional? Probably. As they take their seats - or choose not to the, as those in power armor might not - something very strange happens: an image fills the mind of all the humans gathered (though those watching on the screen at the ship will not be privy to this) of the number two. The alien gestures first to its own body, then to the parasite atop it, then replaces its hands upon the table as the number two flashes again in the mind's eye.

Dominic moves into the elevator as the others do. Like Michael, his eyes focus on the floor display, trying to count the number of floors they go up before the door open again. He glances back towards Michael before he starts looking around the larger room. As they arrive at the table, being third in the food chain, he stands behind the seat directly to Eisley's right. As Eisley and the others sit, he remains standing until told to do otherwise. He blinks at few times in surprise at the first images that appear in his mind, but otherwise doesn't react much.
"Oh," murmurs Yin, who unlike the commander finds sitting something of a chore. She almost manages to upend the chair she's selected, but let's just chalk that up to the shock of a big flashing number that suddenly blinks on and off and on again somewhere between her seat and floor. "That is a useful thing to know how to do." Another comment spoken barely above a whisper — but the shakiness is evident nonetheless.

Michael on the other hand moves so that he can keep an eye not on the aliens, but on his fellows as if to make sure no creepy crawly brain spiders go climbing up on anyone's suits, or dropping down from above. He also takes up a position where he can watch the exit, just in case. Yep, he's paranoid but otherwise just seems at the ready, wound up tight perhaps, but that's not always a bad thing. When the number flashes in his mind however he grunts, "Great." He rumbles, "Now they're mind readers too." His voice soft, carried over the suit radio to the others which hopefully, he seriously hopes, isn't picked up by the aliens and translated.

The flashed image in Ben-Haim's mind catches him right off guard and his slight flinch shows it, his left eye twitching and narrowing. His lips thin into a straight line, hands detangled with some tense effort from behind his back and chair pulled out. He glances surreptitiously into the seat, as if just making sure no strange creature was already sitting there below the table line, and then settles. Carefully.

Jackson's eyes widen a little, a small smile even touching his lips at the foreign and invasive means that the creature(s) is communicating. He does not speak, and remains in step with the others when they exit the elevator, but he is obviously enthralled by this whole scenario. He glances between those of his own crew present, before glancing back toward the emissary. "Two," he mouths silently, before smiling again.

The flash of number provokes some surprise from Eisley; both brows lift a little bit, and she spends another moment or two gathering what might be suddenly scattered thoughts. Still, communication might be an issue, but she has so far proven to be -without- telepathic abilities of her own. So. "I am Commander Victoria Eisley, executive officer of the Genesis and diplomatic representative of the Earth Alliance and human race. It is my honor to meet both of you." The greeting is given almost conversationally, but with much formality, words spoken in carefully measured cadence, with no -hint- that she might as well be conversing with the chair behind the alien.

The alien points from itself to the other two aliens at the elevator and back, the number two flashing again. It would seem that it is indicating that all of them are Two. Perhaps that is what they wish to be called as a species? The Two? When Eisley gives her introduction, he nods once and points at himself as an image of a mid 20th century performer flashes into the minds of those gathered. Elvis Presley. Along with this image comes a sense of identity, the alien perhaps suggesting that this is a suitable name for it. Perhaps it has chosen a name easy for the guests to pronounce. This is then followed by a general sense of peace and welcome washing over them. Clearly, they are telepaths and empaths.

"Was ist das denn?" murmurs Holtz as the number flashes in his mind. It's not alarm in his voice… not exactly. More of a guarded curiosity. Hearing a couple muffled bits of radio chatter, he realizes he's not the only one who sees it; the realization both reassures him and sets him back on edge. All of that turns to bemusement, however, after the alien's second mental broadcast. Holtz turns his gaze towards the alien, an eyebrow raised. It doesn't catch him quite as off guard as the first telepathic broadcast, but he's still not sure he believes the alien's messages of peace and love and all that, and it's evident in his tense posture. At least there's a name for the face now, though.

An eyebrow raises slightly at the image of Elvis that appears in Dominic's head, a slight smirk resulting from it. He remains silent, as the meeting gets underway. As the feeling of peace and welcome over comes him, he manages to keep his mind focused and aware of his surroundings. He glances over towards Michael, making sure he's doing okay.

Yin just looks bemused. Her head tilts to one side while she sets her hands on the table, as she mouths This is the man with the hips? to the pilot beside her. And then she finds herself slouching forward with a little catlike whimper that testifies to telepathically-induced comfort. Bad Yin. Sit up straight, girl.

Ben-Haim turns his head just enough that the lofted brow is clearly aimed at Yin. The moving ones, he mouths back, with a subtle and dead serious nod.

Jackson's just having too much fun. With the curiosity of a scientist, yet an odd spark of child-like wonder, the normally rather stoic doctor is just grinning like a banshee at the creature. "Fascinating," he whispers, though it's unlikely to really be audible to anyone.

Michael himself is to wound up to allow those feelings of peace and welcomeness to control him, or so he hopes, he certainly tries to fight them as hard as he can. He grits his teeth, hard, grinding them just to give himself something to listen to even if it doesn't transmit across the radio's. At Dominic's nod the marine returns the nod and continues to try and be ever alert. He just -knows- that one of them red crabs is gonna try and get -someone-, damn them.

"Elvis. Presley." Eisley will be the one who speaks this particular name aloud, with the same care exercised thus far in every other word she has spoken. Such careful moderation keeps all but the thinnest hint of bemusement out, because it doesn't take a rocket surgeon or an empath to pick that out, even with the barrier imposed by the EVA. "Well. We are pleased to meet you. We have been very curious about you, given the very limited nature of what we know about your kind, and your relationship with each other." Hopefully the aliens translate better than the Rosetta program did.

An image of two people trading items comes to mind as Elvis gestures between himself and Eisley. He then holds both hands out, palms up in offering. Next comes a series of images, what they intend to offer to their guests as a part of the trade. First is a black box like the one they already have attached to one of the shuttles. Having a second would give them a matching set and a means of communicating both ways instead of simply broadcasting one way. Next, come images of pistols and rifles of the kind they salvaged off of the derelict ship just over a week ago. Third is a planet, a green and blue sphere floating among the stars. Last, and perhaps most shocking, is footage of a broadcast. It appears to be a news broadcast, though the writing on the screen is completely foreign. The people, however, are quite human with a few exceptions. They are slightly more dense and compact and humanity as it's currently known, and their skin tones range from a deep coppery bronze to pale silver and gold, their hair colors spanning ebony black to ivory white and numerous metallic tones in between. Still, they are the closest thing to humans that humanity has ever seen.

A faint blush spreads across Yin's delicate cheeks at the pilot's response. Evidently she likes the moving ones. But before she can embarrass herself further, she suddenly finds she has no problem sitting up straight, her fingers tightening on the side of the table. And for one moment it seems as if she might break the cardinal rule of the mission before, with difficulty, she forces herself to stay quiet. This isn't her show — but you can bet she'll be talking in her usual paragraphs the moment she steps back on the shuttle. Assuming, of course, she hasn't been ordered to chomp that cyanide pill first.

Dominic turns his gaze away from Michael as he returns the nod and looks back towards the host as he reaches out then the next round of images come. He seems to be getting use to the images as he doesn't react as much now. At the images of the humans, his eye widen slightly in surprise before he looks back towards Michael before he looks down at Eisley. He remains silent for a few moments as he tries to process what he just saw. Perhaps the panspermia theory was right after all.

Ben-Haim's faintly amused expression melts into a slight frown as the images change, his brows twitching together at the last surprise of a picture they get. He blinks slowly, glancing at Yin as though he expected an explanation to be written across her brow, then back at the aliens.

Michael however, is just a rock at the image. The trade isn't complete, they don't know what they want in return or whether they are even biologically compatible with the metal skinned and haired ones. Or if the other 'humans' are even friendly, or enemies. There's always a catch, and he just waits for it. Each time a vision hits him though Michael immediately looks around to see if there is something that's changed since before the vision, like, red crabs crawling somewhere.

It is the image of the planet that catches the Commander's breath; thus she has precious little to exhale with when the broadcast flickers through the collective mind. Her mouth thins into a line, lips pressing together tight and white before she wets them with only the tip of her tongue, banishing some of the dryness of the recycled air inside. "Do they live on that planet?" She wonders this aloud first, but this is but prelude to other parts of the negotiation. "This is very generous," she observes. Then, at last, comes the million-dollar question. "What do you want in exchange?"

Jackson's eyes eventually close, albiet briefly, at the new round of visions. He's no longer grinning, but there is still a somewhat serene smile playing across his features. His hand moves in some vague, small, circular motion, before Eisley's query draws his eyes to open and refocus. He looks to her, then to their hosts once more. A brow is quirked.

Holtz's fingers are restlessly drumming against the alien tabletop; still looking somewhat tense, he goes absolutely rigid when the alien again broadcasts images into the humans' mind. A chill runs up his spine at the sight of the planet… but he's even more surprised by the last image, the odd-looking 'humans'. His jaw drops ever so slightly, and he mouths a silent oath. There's a faraway look in his eyes, the wheels turning furiously in his mind - and then, the lines of his face harden once more. "Too good to be true," he mutters to himself, and he turns a chilly blue gaze first to Elvis, and then to Eisley herself when the commander asks her question. He's begun to wonder the same thing.

Elvis shakes his head when asked if the humanoid aliens live upon the planet. No, apparently they are two separate offers, or two separate parts of the offer, rather. The planet flashes again, along with a map of the stars. Then comes in image of a broadcast signal streaking through space and being received by one of their ships, showing the broadcast that he just showed them. When asked what it is that they want in return, he lowers his hands to the table and sighs softly. Images of war flash through their minds, of The Two and another race of bulky, powerful looking lizard creatures that maul and destroy the fragile bodies of the hosts of The Two. Then comes an image of the derelict Devourer vessel still floating in space nearby. Images of The Two trying to take Devourers alive with sophisticated stun guns flicker past, but in every case the Devourers manage to kill themselves either by impaling their tail spike under their chin and up into their brain, or by slashing their own throat with their claws. The the Devourers are smart and crafty hunters, and they know when they are outmatched and will not allow themselves to be taken alive. These images change to Devourers hunting humans, preying upon them. Lastly, an image of those humans gathered at the table bringing in a live Devourer male and female in bondage.

Dominic's brow creases as the images continue to flash through his mind. As the images of the captured Devourers appears, he raises an eyebrow slightly before he looks to Michael, a slight smirk forming on his lips. They finally get to get some revenge on the mortal enemy of the human race at he moment, if only in this small form. At least it's something. He returns his attention back to Elvis and Eisley, getting ready for the next round of images.

Michael seems honestly surprised at what they want in return. Here he was expecting like images of the cryotubes being shipped over. At Dominic's nod he nods in return, a smile flashing bright behind his dark lips. Intent is clear: 'I am -totally- in.'. After that however, he still goes to make sure there's no creepy crawlies, could be something to lull them into a false sense of security. Paranoia. Is it really paranoia when the universe -is- out to get them?

If Eisley bothers to look in Petty Officer Yin's direction, it'd be a fair bet that she'd be able to guess what the woman is thinking even without epic powers of mind control. The blush has receded from her cheeks as the woman's countenance returns to its grave baseline, and Laurel actually snaps her head back and forth as if to try to get the images to go away before the alien permits it. It's only by supreme force of will that she keeps those lips firmly sealed.

Negotiation is never about compromise. It is always about finding a way to make both party's goals align in such a way that both groups get exactly what they want. It is a delicate balance, really, but in this case… Eisley is quiet again for several moments, considering this relay of information, pulsed in pictures and scattered fragments of emotion. To be fair, she does not seem surprised by this request, but she may have spent all of that she brought along in responding to their preliminary offer. Now there is only calculation, surely some kind of complicated mental gymnastics of her own, weighing these things in some great unseen balance. When she does respond, it is almost in ritual. Her hands rise and come to rest on the table, palms up, very nearly mirroring The Two across from her. "We accept your terms, Mr. Presley. In exchange for these things that you offer, we will procure for you one live breeding pair of the alien species that we call Devourers. Besides this, we look forward to a long, peaceful relationship with The Two."

Elvis rises gracefully from his seat and offers a bow to Eisley, hands steepled before him. He straightens and reaches into a pocket of his robes, producing a data chip and extending it out in one long, tapered hand. Images of information and data streams flash through the mind.

Poor Yin. At Eisley's unequivocal response, she rests her elbows on the table so she can cradle her head in her hands. Covered face, meet gloved palm.

Serene smile turns into a small frown on Jackson's visage, his expression darkening just a little. He glances to Eisley, then to Elvis, then to others present. He falls silent and contemplative — well, he was silent already — but you know what I mean. Maintaining his position and not moving around, he merely watching now… eyes finding faces, studying, then moving back to the hosts.

Ben-Haim's eyes shift slowly to Eisley and stay there, one brow very, very slowly lifting. She…wait, what? His attention slides to Yin, then back to the alien. Starting to feel that familiar headache again.

Dominic turns back to Elvis as he stands from the table, the smile still on his face at the idea of what they've got to do as Eisley agrees to the terms and conditions. He manages to maintain his composure but it seems that the Marines are already to go hunting for Devourers.

Michael's posture has changed too. Still stiff and formal but, more forward leaning, like he was preparing to spring right that very moment. Or just rocking up onto the balls of his toes in a vain attempt to contain his pleasure at the thought of taking on Devourer's himself. Yes, he's a Marine. No, he's not all that bright. This is already known without doubt. When Eisley agrees to the terms he can't help but crack a wider grin at that and only barely manages to contain a celebratory motion and sound.

Holtz has the look of someone refraining from speaking only with the greatest of effort. His eyes focus again on Eisley and Elvis as the commander voices her agreement. As much as he may not want to, the chief simply bites his tongue and watches as Eisley accepts the data disk from the alien.

Ben-Haim glances at Holtz, a moment going by before the corner of his mouth tugs into a faint smirk. He clears his throat softly, mouth dutifully still shut for the time being.

Eisley rises when the alien does, just a little bit stiffly. She reaches across the table to accept the data chip and smiles in response, though this may be but a formality. "Thank you," says she. "I must take this back for review. We will need some time to prepare for a visit to the Devourer ship. I believe it would expedite and ease matters if you could… give a deposit for services rendered in the form of some of those weapons." Diplomatic? Maybe. Pragmatic? Certainly. The rest of the little diplomatic contingent is temporarily ignored, still.

The frown on Jackson's face only grows from there, especially as the terms seem to energize some members of the crew. Like the rest, though, he holds his tongue and does not speak. His hands clasp in front of him on the table, and he glances down at them thoughtfully for a moment. He eventually rises as the XO does, getting to his feet quietly and backing away from the table without making any fuss or scuffle.

Elvis nods once in reply, then sits once again with his hands folded atop the table. He looks up and down the line of humans, head tilted slightly, a sense of general curiosity washing off of him. It appears that he is open to entertaining questions if they have any.

However shall Yin contain her boundless desire to share the Marines' reaction? Very easily, as it turns out. The woman sits back in her chair, her expression decidedly neutral until she realizes the negotiation may in fact be drawing to a close. Question time. "Who do you fight?" she asks before anyone can stop her. "And why?"

Dominic glances around the room once more as Elvis sits back down and opens the floor for questions. Since he has no questions so he doesn't ask, but his attention turns to Yin as she speaks. An eyebrow raised slightly at the question then waits for the visions that will provide the answer.

If Ben-Haim has anything to ask, himself, he lets his superiors go first. Polite as he is. His eyes stay on the aliens as questions start to spring to life around him.

Elvis looks to Yin when she asks her question. A sense of complexity, of things long and convoluted creeps in. Once again the hulking, muscular lizard men come to mind, savage and brutal one gets the impression, however, that things were not always thus. A young female of that species then flashes to mind, not that they can tell that its female by looking at it, they just instinctively know because Elvis knows. She is seen asking for and receiving the opportunity to join with one of the parasites. This enrages a particularly massive specimen of the lizard species, a queen perhaps, and it becomes clear why she is upset: the young one is her daughter. The two species were once peaceful, perhaps even friends, but this changed everything.

He then looks to Holtz. Images of the Devourers killing themselves whenever The Two try to capture them return to the mind. The Devourers know that The Two can enslave them, and they never allow themselves to be taken alive in any case. Humans, on the other hand, are seen by the Devourers as prey. They will not expect the humans to attempt to capture them alive.

"Because we don't think like them." Michael says over the radio to the other suits, "They're reliant on their technology. They have only tried their stunners, not even simple nets and lasso's to control the tails." His voice is a soft rumble. "I can think of half a dozen ways not reliant on super-technology to pull it off off the top of my head." He shakes his head a bit, looking back over towards Dominic and nods once, falling silent again.

Ben-Haim finally speaks up, once those strange images have had their time to be processed. "Do you," comes his soft voice, "Know of any weaknesses that these…Devourers have. Their ships. Themselves."

Elvis turns his attention to Ben-Haim. The derelict Devourer ship comes to mind, disabled and vulnerable, floating passively in space. The ship poses no threat. The presence of six Devourers can be felt within that ship, two of which are female. The rest of the crew is dead. A single Devourer is then seen, standing on its two articulated, hand-like feet, its wings spread and its posture hunched forward with its wedge shaped head lowered. It is known that the heads of the Devourers are particularly powerful and tough, able to beat their way through steel if given enough time, and despite that tapes there prehencile tail is capable of puncturing titanium. Their claws, razor sharp, are almost as strong. The weakness is clearly in the torso, in the softer abdomen that they conceal with their crouched posture and protect with their clawed feet.

Eisley has the chip, and has secured some kind of agreement with The Two, even if half of the delegation doesn't seem to appreciate her decision. The chip is tucked safely away in a pocket before she directs her attention to them at last, brow lifting slightly as all of them start spilling out questions. For the moment the Commander is silent, however, neither asking questions of her own nor reprimanding any of them for curiosity.

Yin's expression turns dark as she gets her answer — though even as she narrows her eyes and presses her lips together, she can't quite stifle the half-scoff half-cough that rises unbidden. Curious, perhaps, to hear the lizard-people's side of the story, but that's a question she doesn't ask. "And these people you showed," she continues, in reference to the human-esque figures in one of the visions. "How do they fit into this picture? What was their news saying?"

Ben-Haim had opened his mouth slightly ask something else, but quiets to hear whatever it has to say to Yin first. The side of his thumb scratches gently over his lower lip.

There's a moment where Jackson looks like he's going to pose a question of his own, but — hey, they're coming at a quick enough clip anyway. The man clasps his hands in front of him, glancing between their host and his crewmates, remaining silent for the moment and listening and processing the images they're receiving back.

His attention returning to Yin, Elvis tilts his head slightly. She and the others clearly get the impression that he doesn't know what the broadcast said, that it wasn't enough for them to be able to decipher. It was simply a stray signal that they caught purely by accident, and while they don't know exactly where it came from, they know what direction it did. They've narrowed it down to a cluster of galaxies that, were a ship to get within range of them, would likely pick up more signals. It was included, perhaps, to let the human delegation know that they may not be alone, but that there may be distant Cousins out there.

Ben-Haim glances across the table towards the psychiatrist, making a small open-handed gesture that way. "Sir." Giving him the table. How generous.

Dominic glances to each person as they ask their questions, just remaining silent. No need to ask questions when everyone else will ask them for you. He takes in the visions, processing all the information that he's gained.
Holtz looks to Michael after Elvis' response to Ben-Haim. "You think you can capture one of those things with a fucking lasso?" he sneers. "Much luck." He shakes his head, looking back to Elvis with a hard cast to his expression. For the moment, however, he again restrains himself from asking any more questions that have come to mind.

Michael falls silent again, still(?!) on the lookout for ambush brain crabs. It's just that he's paranoid by nature perhaps. Looking over at Holtz he then keys to marine frequencies, "Sir, permission to thrash that swabby when we get back aboard?" He then goes silent on marine comm's, even that however doesn't distract him from his vigil.

"One last question. Let us say we do succeed in capturing the aliens you wish to breed for soldier stock." Yin sure doesn't sound as confident as the Marines about humanity's chances. "What plans for us do you have? Will you permit us to leave, or will we owe you more favors?" Nor does Yin sound like she expects anything but the answer she wants to hear. Nevertheless, she waits politely for the answer, her arms folded across her chest, her visor fogging up momentarily from her warm breath.

Most of the questions seem to be coming from Yin; maybe that is why Eisley's attention slides to and locks on her. No further commentary is yet forthcoming from the Commander, however. She seems content to stand and watch, to listen and see what is offered across from the aliens. It isn't until the very last of these that she finally arches an eyebrow at the woman. Here, finally, is a flicker of exasperation, but it is tightly contained, controlled down to a single, sober look.

Elvis tilts his head, a sense of confusion and curiosity emanating from him. An image of the Genesis flying away comes to mind as he waves a hand in mild dismissal, as if to say they may leave at any time.

Jackson offers a small smile to Ben-Haim, nodding his head as he's afforded the opportunity to ask a question of his own. He frowns again, though, and leans forward slightly as he gathers his thoughts. "I'd be interested in learning more… about the Two, specifically. Your history, the changes to the anatomy of…." He trails off, before finally saying, "… the biological science of your kind. Is parasitic attachment the only means of propagating your species? Joining to create two, as it were?" A pause, and he gestures toward Elvis. "Is this on the data disks?" Someone just -had- to make this about something dumb like science and history. Ugh.

Dominic can't help but smirk at the comment that comes over the Marine channel, his eyes glancing to Michael. He shakes his head slightly as he keys into the channel. "Negative. Let the proper channels handle him." He pauses for a moment before adding, "I appreciate the enthusiasm and the offer." He keys back to the normal channel, his eyes returning to Yin as he frowns then looks to Eisley, waiting for the response from Elvis.

The thin slit of a mouth almost seems to curl in a smile at Jackson's question, the first that is not rooted in suspicion or about their needs. Images of the two halves living separately come to mind, the larger, attenuated aliens developing slowly and clumsily until they encounter the vastly smaller and weaker parasites, which had been forced to use non sentient, simple creatures for hosts in order to survive. At some point, the former come to revere the latter, and allow them use them as hosts, instead. Shortly after birth, a ceremony is held for the host in which it is implanted with a parasite that will live with it for life. The union greatly helped the hosts advance their society and live better lives, their technology developing at truly impressive rates that they never could have matched on their own. In return, the parasites are no longer forced to live in the safety of their vines and plants in caves, and are able to use the full scope of their intellect through a body capable of manipulating tools and bringing their ideas to reality.

Ben-Haim sits in silence through Yin and Jackson's questions, his expression tough to read as his eyes are, as always, partly shielded by his almost sleepy-looking lids. Once the alien replies to Jackson he's still quiet for a few more moments, then: "Why do the Devourers bother? With us, I mean." He isn't quite saying what he means — perhaps it's the second language problem — and pauses to regroup his thoughts. "As you've shown, we are prey, but…why devote energy to chasing such small scale as this ship? What would they get from us if they caught us?"

Jackson inclines his head politely at the creature after processing the mental image received in kind. And apparently, he's decided he's asked quite enough. He takes a step back, and listens while others speak to Elvis. Hands are once again clasped in front of him, his eyes attentive and wide as he looks from one person to the next. There's still an expression of worry or dissatisfaction with something on his features, but he's content to listen for now.

Elvis looks back to Ben-Haim, a sense of uncertainty coming from him. They know little about the Devourers other than what they were able to learn from the Givers and through a few limited interactions with the Devourers directly. In idea comes to mind, the suggestion to ask them, personally. There are six of them all live in that ship, after all.

Ben-Haim gives Elvis a thin smile in return. There might be more clanging around his head, but his silence finally defers back to his higher-ups. Though his eyes remain on Elvis.

"That one I can answer, Mr. Ben-Haim." The Commander speaks at last, maybe pre-empting Elvis, maybe simply offering a more human spin on why this fleet of five ships came after their one lonely vessel. "They are -thorough.-" The words are grim; she lacks the warm, peaceful quality of the alien's fuzzy thoughts. "It is the same reason that they hunted the Givers to extinction." Then it is her turn to ask a question, another of those big dollar figures that only high-ranking officers get to field. Except that what she says is not a question, merely a dry statement of fact, more resolved than suspicious. "I believe, Mr. Presley, that there have been questions about how, when, and why you choose to make this joining. Some among our crew have wondered if you would require us to share in this process in order to maintain good relations."

"Aye sir," Ben-Haim comments to Eisley. "It just seems terribly…inefficient." The Israeli treats the word as though it were wearing a little too much cologne. He loosely folds his arms, eyes shifting back to the alien.

Elvis shakes his head in reply to Eisley. An image of the ceremony comes to mind again, and a sense of almost religious sanctity accompanies it. The arrangement between the two species, agreed upon long ago, was entirely willing and remains so to this day. Images of forced joining then come to mind with a sense of revulsion and distaste, though the image of a joining with a Devourer follow shortly after with a sense of resignation. A necessity of survival.

At the receipt of which last image Yin meets Eisley's exasperated gaze with a faint little smile. But the group will hear nothing further from the willowy NCO, who now allows her eyes to drift toward various salient features of the room.

Michael finally speaks up, aloud, "Did you make the wormhole we came through artificially, and if so is it technology you can share when we succeed in delivering you the devourer's you wish? You have managed to put a singularity in a box, making a wormhole hardly seems beyond the bounds of reason given such." Finally he isn't watching everyone's backs, now, is the time when the spider crabs can attack!

Dominic feels a little bit better after the images and feelings about a forced joining comes over him. He visually relaxes, but he still doesn't sit down. Mostly because of the armor that he is wearing. There is a glance towards the others to gage their reactions as well. His attention returning to Elvis and Eisley.

Elvis looks to Michael and shakes his head again. The impression comes that they weren't even aware that the wormhole in the Milky Way galaxy existed, and that it ended here, until the Givers sent a ship through it. After this, however, images of large rings floating in space made from the same material as the black box come to mind, followed by images of ships traveling through the rings as they activate a black hole and create a temporary wormhole. This was how they traveled to the human's galaxy, and this is how they manage all of their long distance travel. They make gates. If they know the coordinates of a location, they can get there simply by directing the gate to it. The wormhole is natural and one way.

"Thank you," is Eisley's response. "As I said before, we have little knowledge of your kind. We would be most interested in any additional information that you would be willing to share. While you seem to have done admirably at absorbing our cultural history, that does give you a… clearer sense of who we are, and puts us at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to understanding." Again, this is not a question. If anything it is possibly a suggestion, couched in a careful, diplomatic sort of observation.

A long, slender hand lifts and points to words Eisley, an image of the data chip he gave her flashing in the mind. It would seem that they have included information on themselves on the chip.

Elvis then rises and lifts both hands, signaling that they are free to go if they choose to. The two aliens at the elevator call for the cab to take them back down to the shuttle bay.

Ben-Haim's eyes remain on Elvis as the thing gets up, though he says nothing further. He'll wait for Eisley and the other officers to get going before he does, slowly standing.

And that will be that. Official negotiations have concluded, and thus Eisley rises, inclines her head to Elvis in a formal gesture that is not quite a bow, and then turns to make good this offer to depart. Again there is no real sense of urgency, but it is a bit of a hike from the elevator to the hangar, and it would seem that she has no personal desire to remain aboard the flagship.

When the group returns to the shuttle, six large crates await them, ready to be loaded up. A cursory check of them reveals that two are loaded with pistols, three with rifles, and one with stun sticks and guns. All are in pristine condition. No further images or thoughts are transmitted once the meeting has concluded, and once the crew are loaded onto the shuttle with their new toys, their two guides exit the hangar and the air lock opens to allow the shuttle to leave. If any scans are conducted, the shuttle has not been tampered with in any detectable way.

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