Midnight Sun #3
Written by Matt Hamilton, Edited by
Part 3 of "Ebon Dreams and Ivory Prizes"
Gorgon looked from the viewscreen to Midnight Sun, who watched the approaching craft without betraying any outward sign of recognition. Even his telepathic interpreter was silent. Despite being impressed by the newcomer's skills, Gorgon could not bring himself to trust the man. He was doubly uncomfortable having the stranger here in the royal chambers, so close to Black Bolt.
Gorgon's was the only voice of dissent when he, Karnak and Black Bolt had taken the warrior in. He had reluctantly agreed after the king had nodded agreement to Karnak's proposal, but vowed to keep a watchful eye on the visitor. Indeed, unbeknownst to both Midnight Sun and his companion, he had had members of the royal guard observing them at all times. One could not be too careful in matters concerning the security of Attilan.
"They've slowed down, almost to a stop,:" he said, to no-one in particular. "Only one ship appears to be continuing the journey. Perhaps it carries a messenger, or a scout. Either way, we should raise a city-wide alert, and make sure every last Inhuman is safely indoors."
Medusa looked at her husband, who was once again poised beneath the same large window, staring up at the stars. After a few seconds, she turned back to Gorgon. "The king agrees with your sentiment, Gorgon. It is, after all, better to be safe, than sorry." Gorgon, happy that for once his advice had been heeded, gave the order to a guardsman standing at the door, who left promptly.
The queen then turned her attention to Midnight Sun. "Now, my friend. Black Bolt is almost sure that the Kree have come for you. They would have no other reason to visit Attilan, and they are going to great lengths to ensure that the people of Earth do not know of their arrival. No doubt they have much to fear from the heroes of the world below." She paused for a moment, as if reflecting on memories literally a world away. "Regardless, we must determine a course of action. I take it that you do not wish to return to Kree-Lar?"
Gorgon half expected the girl to speak, but she remained silent. Instead, Midnight Sun simply shook his head.
"Very well. In that case, we should make arrangements to . . . conceal you from the Kree."
Suddenly the cyborg's interpreter spoke. "My lady?"
Medusa looked across at the small girl, who stood, head bowed, in the back corner of the room. "Yes, my child?" she prompted.
"Midnight Sun wishes to inform you that it is more than likely that the Kree would have some means of tracking him, considering how much of him is electronic, and of Kree design. He asks whether it would be a wiser choice for him to leave this moon entirely."
Strange, thought Gorgon. The girl almost sounded sad when she spoke, as if the cyborg meant something to her. Was the shadow man attempting to gain empathy from her, in a bid to get access to higher-ranking Inhumans? Did he not know of her past?
Medusa bowed her head, and turned it slightly, as if listening to her husband. "We fear you may be right, Midnight Sun," she declared. "Perhaps it is time you returned to Earth."
Preparations for Midnight Sun's departure were made, hurriedly. Midnight was impressed at the speed with which the city was "locked down" against any potential intruders. Despite the sense of panic he felt emanating from the populace, he had not once found himself without Cerabel by his side. It was comforting to have a voice when necessary. Truly, though, she was more of a companion than a spokesperson - as he maintained his silent composure as often as possible.
Within a few hours the members of the royal family had gathered to see him off. His flight disks, still attached to the palms of his hands, and soles of his feet, would provide all the means necessary to get him from the moon to its mother Earth. They would not, however, get him across interstellar distances. He recalled the painstaking efforts to which he had gone, to relieve the Kree of one of their vessels, back when he had escaped from their space station.
Cerabel had prepared a speech on his behalf, thanking the royal family for their hospitality. She delivered it in a quivering voice, perhaps nervous, perhaps sorrowful that he was leaving. When she was done, he placed a hand on each of her shoulders, and looked at her through his faceless mask.
<<I cannot thank you enough for the kindness and generosity you and your people have shown me, Cerabel.>> He saw a tear appear in the corner of her eye, reflecting her dark blue skin in pale turquoise shades. <<I promise I will return when the Kree depart. We will meet again, soon.>>
At this, Cerabel's spirits seemed to lift. She hugged the cyborg in a way only a young girl could, and bid him a wordless farewell.
With that, Midnight Sun willed himself off the surface, towards the bright blue world above.
"I'll see you soon, M'Nai!" called Cerabel.
On the long journey home, Midnight Sun reflected on Bel's final words. He had never consciously told her his name.
And on the other side of Attilan, the first of the Kree scoutships touched down.
In a dimly lit factory warehouse on the outskirts of New York, four shadowy figures sat around a table-sized crate. Three of them were playing cards, while a forth was occupying his time counting banknotes as he drew them from a sack. Although they spoke in whispers, every once in a while a loud guffaw would break the silence.
Midnight Sun watched the quartet from outside. In the darkness, he was nigh on invisible, and would certainly remain undetected from these buffoons. He had, however, noticed that there was quite an array of electrical devices in this factory, and guessed that they would serve to shield him from any Kree sensors when his former owners came looking for him on Earth. Therefore it would be necessary to get inside, with or without the cooperation of the building's inhabitants.
Two options presented themselves to the cyborg. The first was to steal inside, undetected, and avoid any confrontation. Midnight Sun discounted this option almost immediately. Once inside he would have to activate the machinery, thus revealing his presence and negating any hope of stealth. The second option was simply to walk in unannounced, and see what transpired. Hardly becoming for a master of the shadow arts, but unfortunately the only choice.
The front door creaked loudly as he swung it open, and the four men inside looked up, surprised. The one counting the money stood up, and spoke in a belligerent tone.
"What the hell do ya' think you're doin', buddy? This is a private residence!" His three companions laughed nervously.
M'Nai could not answer, and decided not to acknowledge the men. He turned towards the machinery control room stairs, and kept walking.
Once more the man called. "Hey! I'm talkin' ta' you! Get back here!" At this point, another of the men had risen, and walked over to a light switch on the wall behind. Hesitantly, he switched on the bank of fluorescent lights above, and the two parties got their first real look at each other.
Midnight Sun was as surprised as the foursome; for they, too, wore costumes. The leader, the one who had spoken, was wearing fatigues of khaki and scarlet, with a mask hanging behind his head. The two seated men wore suits of white and yellow respectively, while the one at the light switch wore a bright green and gold outfit, and held a formidable looking iron ball and chain.
Ironically, the next words from the leader's mouth were, "You're a little late for Halloween, bud!" With that, he reached behind his makeshift seat, and picked up a huge crowbar. "But I guess it don't matter either way, since you're about ta' meat you're untimely demise. Nobody walks in on the Wrecking Crew and gets away bruiseless!"
Karnak watched as the main hatch of the Kree scoutship opened. The ship had landed outside of Attilan's protective atmosphere, and hence the Inhuman welcoming party had had to don breathing aparati before venturing out to inspect it.
At length a figure became visible in the ship's newly opened maw. It outstretched an arm, no doubt accessing a hidden control panel within the ship, and a large escalator extended to the lunar surface. When it touched the ground, the Kree stepped onto it and began to descend.
The visitor wore the traditional green and white spacesuit of the Kree militia. His blue-skinned face was clearly visible through the suit's faceplate. Although he seemed unarmed, Karnak had little doubt that the ship's defences were all concentrated on the Inhuman group as they waited.
The Kree captain looked Karnak in the eye, then turned and faced Black Bolt. Obviously he recognised their king. He raised his gauntleted hand, and spoke.
"I have come in search of a missing android. Our sensors have tracked it to your moon. Relinquish it now, and no harm will come to your city or its people."
Karnak nodded inwardly. Characteristically terse, he thought. The Kree are ever the ones to get straight to the point.
Medusa had not accompanied them on this trip, so it fell upon Karnak to speak for his king. "We know the android you speak of, but unfortunately he is no longer here. He left our city long before your ships arrived." A white lie, and no doubt one that the Kree would see through.
Indeed, the captain's deep blue lips curled into a snarl. "A fact which has been confirmed by our most recent scans. Be thankful that you no longer factor into our search, Inhuman. I am sure that the Kree empire would take delight in ordering the destruction of one of our history's greatest mistakes."
Without another word, the Kree spun on his heel and mounted the escalator. He rode the staircase back to the ship without looking back.
May Randac protect your genes, Midnight Sun, thought Karnak. The Kree's next stop will be Earth. As the ship's hatch closed, he reached to his belt and flicked a switch, activating the communicator built into his breathing mask. "Is our cargo safely aboard?" he asked. "It is, my lord," came the reply.
Midnight Sun: Ebon Dreams And Ivory Prizes continues in Cosmic Powers Unlimited #15! Now leave us your comments below!
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