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The Man Who Fell to Earth [IC]

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Liberty Park

March 11th, 2013

10:12 PM


When the object was first spotted by an astronomer at Star Island, he thought for a second it might be a meteor about to burn up on reentry. But after a few seconds, he realized the mass was holding together, despite the punishing flames of low orbit. For a minute or so after that, it became a matter of fascination. Perhaps the meteor was made of some high-density metal - there was a bit of speculation on the sheer possibilities if the meteor represented an iridium node.


Shortly after that, however, the astronomers realized some more pertinent things. The object had seen incredibly little breakup upon reentry. It was large enough to do some damage if it collided with a populated area. And, if its current arc was any indicator, it was due to collide with the heart of Freedom City. 


The call went out soon after that - to NORAD, to the National Guard, and to the local press. The skies were cleared over Freedom, and as the object streaked towards the city, it was a matter of waiting to see who would - or could - rise to catch it. 




Meanwhile, up on the object itself, Cavalier was having one hell of a time. 


It didn't help that it literally did feel like Hell inside the cabin. The hull breach that Kyle had feared had only widened upon reentry, and the temperature was rising higher and higher. His suit was holding off the worst of the flames, but he was still sweating like he'd walked into a sauna wearing a down coat. All the while, he tried to maintain the controls on the ship, but it was quickly becoming clear that was useless. With no power source and little idea of how to operate the steering, it had all the control of a brick. 


Water landing water landing water landing...


He looked up from the controls. Not only was the ship heading towards land, it was densely populated enough that he could see the city lights from this far up.


Oh, well, he thought. When all else fails... He broke from the controls and started racing towards the airlock, hoping he could pry it open. ...get out and push.

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It had been a rather nice Monday for Baron Magnus Katastrof. His company had had no crisis of any sort for at least a week, his hero patrols (infrequent that they tended to be, as opposed to reactions to major events cropping up) had been refreshingly quiet, and the weather was turning nice for once. Well, for a cold-blooded Swede like himself, anyways; these Americans wandered about shivering like it was the middle of winter in the Arctic, whereas he was finding himself comfortable with his jacket off and sleeves rolled up while he worked away the hours at his desk.


Which is why the blaring alarm routed to his office from NORAD made him mutter a few words he'd never say around his niece as he scrunched up his brow and had the right wall of the work space display the issue. He blinked, then swore again as he realized just what was going on. 


"As if one alien ship smashing into the planet wasn't enough this year...and this one doesn't have the decency to head out to sea..."


He narrowed his eyes and commanded the video feed to zoom in...


'Damage...but from what? Doesn't matter, I suppose.'


He swiftly signaled the building's systems to initiate an orderly emergency evacuation to shelters. He wasn't sure what good they'd do if everything failed, but it was better than just sitting in a high-rise building. In the meanwhile, he made sure the one satellite that was under his company's purview and that possessed a clear line of sight on the ship was sending feeds to NORAD, AEGIS, UNISON, the Freedom League, and basically everyone he could think of that might be able to help. But time was short. 


"I guess we'll see just how the suit will hold up under extreme conditions."


Even as he walked to his extra-private lab space, the rack containing his armor was "spooling up", ready to transmit the high-tech suit onto his body with a moment's notice. And he had the computer send pre-set basic messages to several of his fellow technology-oriented heroes in the city, in the hopes that at least a couple would contact the hero Fenris and coordinate efforts to divert the incoming ship. 

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Henry Mason sat in his apartment, watching the news. Televisions still boggled his mind sometimes, but he'd grown used to them. He'd similar technology in space. At least the news was useful, even if most of it wasn't really news. The crashing space craft, however, was.


"That isn't good." He said, jumping to his feet. He ran to his closet and opened the small hidden compartment, fetching the bag with his costume in it. He changed quickly, put his clothes away, opened his window and flew into the alleyway, making sure his window would latch shut on his way out. He was simply too fast in the air for cameras, or even human eyes to see.


The blue glow around him intensified as he tapped into his cosmic power. Within moments, he was at the rallying point. He hadn't met a huge chunk of the heroes in the city, but he was here to help.

Edited by Thunder King
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As soon as her suit picked up the panicked chatter, Dragonfly's head snapped upward to try to track the falling object, trying to verify its trajectory...and mostly failing, at this distance. Still, the math held out.

She bit her lip, paying surprisingly little attention to the thug she was holding a foot off the surface of the rooftop as he desperately and futilely tried to drive his knife into her arm's armor plating. "...you are very lucky," she announced, dropping him and letting him scramble backwards. Behind her, four blade-like wings of glowing, twisted space burst forth, making only small, adjusting movements as she was lifted into the air. "But will be back for you if I catch you selling guns again. Don't bother going home - police are already there."

And with that she took off, heading straight up into the sky as fast as her science would take her.

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Near the tip of the gleaming pyramid of Archetech in Hanover, a bay door opened to allow a figure to take to the sky. That was hardly an unusual sight, but it was an unusual figure. This creature was obviously artificial, skinned in gleaming silver metal from head to toe on a figure that was subtly feminine in its lines. Hairless, sans clothing, and with only the vague suggestion of facial features. It looked more like a mannequin from a high-end department store than a hero, but it rocketed through the sky towards the falling ship with every indication of purpose. "This is Miss Americana," a voice familiar to most broadcast amdist the other local chatter. "I'm sending you a prototype support droid to help get that ship handled. Just let me know what it can do to assist." 

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It took Kyle a few good blows to knock off the airlock door; it would have gone a lot faster if he could have hacked the computer again, but the loss of power had done those controls in as well. He ducked out of the way of the immense backdraft - the drag of reentry was still sending up flames all across the hull, and they were all too happy to worm their way into the ship. Fortunately, he'd had the foresight to route the suit's offensive capabilities towards its shielding. He closed his eyes and ran through the fire, leaping when he felt his feet trailing over empty space. Thanks to his precautions, it merely felt like swan diving into an active volcano, instead of coming with all the secondary consequences of such an act. 


He opened his eyes when he felt the world zooming by around him, finding himself in freefall at speeds near the crippled craft. It took a second's thought to activate his thrusters, and soon he was catching up with the ship. That's right. Go towards the flaming ball of superdense material. That's me in a nutshell.


Kyle took position on the starboard side of the craft; part of routing the energy towards the suit's defensive capabilities meant it also enhanced his effective strength.  He touched the burning metal, trying not to think on what might happen if the shielding failed. Force equals mass times acceleration. The ship is God knows how dense and falling at terminal velocity. I can go about 250 MPH in atmosphere - which we've just entered - and I've got me, my suit, and whatever energy I can route into the suit's processes...


He knew that, with just himself, there might be little chance of pushing the ship over the Atlantic. If that failed, he would have to try breaking it up into smaller debris, and if that failed... 


He couldn't think about that. He just had to keep the worst from happening, as best he could. 

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It had taken only moments for Magnus to become Fenris, and just a couple blinks after that to get to the roof of the KST America building unnoticed. He took a moment on the top of the building to orient himself and get a bearing on the rapidly-approaching ship. It was a bit hard to miss at this point.


"This may be one of my Top 5 Most Insane Moments. Good thing no one is about to record this with a good enough camera..."


With a flash, he was gone, running through a tunnel of not-space down the side of the building; he was blocks away in less than a second.


He appeared for the barest of moments at the bottom of pyramid plaza, clearly in a full on sprint, mid-stride.




After that there was just short series of bursts of light along the angled slope of the Plaza, along with a few scratches to the glass (there would be an anonymous donation later on to fix it). He flashed into existence again for a split-second several hundred feet above the Pyramid Plaza moving at velocities that he by all rights shouldn't be achieving, before diving through another hole in space.


The next time he appeared it was just in front of the nose of the craft. His glowing eyes widened a bit, but he extended claws from hand and foot, and though he left gouges about 15 feet long along the dorsal hull, he did finally manage to stop himself and be hanging on. To a half-destroyed ship that was at roughly terminal velocity over a crowded city.


"In retrospect, I should have thought up a plan before latching onto the impending doom of the city..."


He crouched there, his brain working overtime to determine a workable solution...

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Henry stared up at the falling craft, and realized what he must do. Like it was back in the war; let the smart guys handle the planning and strategies, he'd do the heavy lifting. He crouched down for a moment and visualized his goal. Close in at maximum speed, get up there fast and find somewhere on that thing to hold onto it. Then push as hard as he could. A brief flicker of azure sprang about his body before he took off into the air, a loud BOOM the only reminder that he'd even been there.


Anyone who gazed up in that direction would, for a moment, see what looked like a blue laser streak across the sky, before vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.


He dropped from his maximum speed and put his shoulder to the ship. He felt the power within him change, powering his body for strength instead of speed. He cursed that limitation of his abilities, and not for the first time.


It was then that he noticed Fenris, and blinked. "What the hell?"

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The words had barely left the plummeting stranger's lips when a second armored hero blew past them, though she quickly turned to grab hold of the ship before it was too late. "If you tried to drop a ship on the city on purpose, I will punch you, with science," she shouted, looking not at the stranger but at the ground, calculating their flight path of doom from a somewhat easier angle. "If you did it by accident I will still punch you, but not as hard."

destroy it - shrapnel? - unknown power source - not enough time to verify safety - redirect - brute force? - apparently trying that already - other methods... "Fenris! How well do you know physics? Might need to make spacetime a little angry, here."

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The silver robot looked around expectantly with its featureless face for a moment, apparently waiting for a command. When none was forthcoming, it cracked its knuckles with an audible pop and suddenly shifted into a much higher gear. In moments it was at the ship with the others, putting its back to the nose and using what was apparently considerable strength to push against it and try to kill some of the velocity sending it careening towards the earth. There was a lot of inertia to try and counteract, but there were a lot of flying science heroes on the scene already. In Freedom City, that usually meant the problem was very close to solved. 

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The words had barely left the plummeting stranger's lips when a second armored hero blew past them, though she quickly turned to grab hold of the ship before it was too late. "If you tried to drop a ship on the city on purpose, I will punch you, with science," she shouted, looking not at the stranger but at the ground, calculating their flight path of doom from a somewhat easier angle. "If you did it by accident I will still punch you, but not as hard."

destroy it - shrapnel? - unknown power source - not enough time to verify safety - redirect - brute force? - apparently trying that already - other methods... "Fenris! How well do you know physics? Might need to make spacetime a little angry, here."

"My suit makes spacetime angry all the time! But I see where you're going with this. And I know a thing or two about science and physics."


Suddenly a text message popped up on Dragonfly's HUD.


<<I did build a device that rips a hole between spacetime, after all. But thanks for covering for me.>>


Dragonfly was one of very very very few who knew who was behind the mask of the wolf, after all.


"I think between the three people helping keep this thing aloft and us, we can get the ship to smack down somewhere outside of the city. Probably going to wreck some trees, unfortunately. I'm thinking that I can rip open a tunnel big enough for this bad boy, but I'm going to need your help keeping the tunnel stable, and everyone's help bleeding off speed. That bot that Americana sent might be able to help coordinate everything and monitor our suit gear, too. I'll probably trip a break or five, but that's what makes it all so EXCITING."

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Kyle said a silent prayer of thanks that others had come to the rescue. He should have seen it coming - he was back over Earth, the planet of heroes. Then again, he wasn't exactly sure he recognized any of the heroes - though he was fairly distracted at the time - but he was willing to take it on faith that they weren't villains who'd developed a sudden altruistic streak. Those who were focusing their attention on the underside of the craft - and could see through the flames and debris as the thing struggled against friction in a death match - noticed a man in green Star Knight armor pushing desperately against the undercarriage, thrusters at full power.


"Nice to meet you, too!" he said over the radio band to all that could hear. "Hey, I can safely say I didn't intentionally drop this bird. Accidentally? That we can talk about. Once we put it down somewhere that's preferably full of water and not populated. How's that sound?" 

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Solar Sentinel was grateful for the help, and glad to see so many heroes there. He looked to the other heroes, and shouted. "Just tell me where to go, and I'll go there. You smart guys can figure out the details, just give me directions and I'll help out." He knew they had it handled, all he was doing is helping make sure their plan worked out.

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"Help slow it down!" Dragonfly shouted back, already spinning her mind through the math and models and probabilities. At this speed, with this much mass, it was going to be hard to slow down enough to not cause a rather significant explosion when they hit the ground. But as long as they weren't exploding.... "stabilization will soak - but can only shunt up to - mass x acce- Slow it WAY down," she corrected, biting her lip as her suit spun up to speed, neon light running along the plates and seams of her suit. Space around the ship started to twitch a little, like an unstable, oversized force field was starting to form. "Slow as possible would be good. Can help stabilize a tunnel, but excess energy and momentum are going to have to go somewhere; need as little of them as possible when we hit ground!"

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"Well, as long as we're talking about tripping our breakers," Miss A said over the various radios, sounding slightly amused. "I've been wanting to try this new gravitic propulsion device somewhere not as fragile as the interior of my lab... you may want to brace yourselves." At the nose of the falling ship, the silent silver gynoid ceased in its pushing efforts for a moment and began tugging on its own fingers in a pattern too studied to be a random affectation. Suddenly, the robot began emitting a low-pitched worn-worn-worn sound, and the clothes and hair of the people around it began to float ever so slightly. It retook its position under the ship, and with careful pushing, settled it into a slow lateral glide, heading towards the sea as slow and easy as a gull on the wing. 

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The spaceship instantly lost all momentum, coming to rest in midair like the world's largest, most metallic balloon. In fact, Kyle almost pushed it further up in the half-second it took him to realize the change in pressure. "Well," he said, studying the floating ship, "I think that takes care of the most pressing matter." He cut his thrusters down to the level where he was simply hovering, not exerting any force on the ship unless otherwise needed. "Don't think this thing would make much of a splash if it hit the ocean. If anyone still wants to rend a hole in spacetime, speak now. Otherwise... I think we could bring it in gently." He turned to Miss Americana. "I mean, if that emitter of yours works for long distances..."

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Fenris couldn't help but grin as their speed drastically slowed.


"Excellent! Thank you for the assist, Miss Americana. Those of you helping hold up this thing, please begin moving us forward when you see the hole in space-time; I'll take care of the rest. Everyone, hold on tight, we're about to shove this ship through a tunnel made of science!"


With a strange almost barking laugh, Fenris's entire suit lit up with a bright blue glow. Tiny sparks began lifting off the hull as the air in front of the ship wavered...before cracking. In moments, there was a glowing tunnel floating in front of them, large enough to take the ship and all those clinging to it, so long as they didn't let go, at least. Those keeping the ship aloft got it through the crack, but it was clear once they were in the tunnel that velocity did not work like it should. There was a great rushing sound, and suddenly they were in the air just a few dozen feet above the ground...


Somewhere a few miles outside of the city. It looked like an old but well-kept airport, though several smaller, newer-looking buildings were well off to one side. There was more than enough space next to the over-sized hangar to let them set the ship down now.


Fenris himself sagged in place, his suit's lights growing much dimmer. 


"Let's not try that one again for a while."

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That had been interesting, Henry thought. Helping catch a falling ship and put it down safely was one thing, to suddenly find himself working with so many heroes was entirely another. "Seems as safe a place as any." He was just glad they'd managed to bring the ship down safely. He couldn't imagine the level of destruction that would have occurred if they hadn't.


He wasn't as smart as some of them seemed to be, but he didn't want to leave if they could use his help. So, he turned to Cavalier and nodded. "Ah, a Star Knight. It's an honor." His hand twitched, as if to salute, before he lowered it. "Sorry, old habits die hard." He said. It seemed a little rude, perhaps, to single the Star Knight out, but he at least had some common ground there.

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The field Dragonfly had made to help stabilize their journey flickered and died, space pulling back together into a more normal shape not so much because she was letting it and more because she just couldn't maintain it anymore. The heroine's suit appeared to be faring a bit better than Fenris', but she could still be barely heard muttering about what sounded like the results of a quick diagnostics check.

"Right," she said, attention snapping back as Solar Sentinel addressed their new arrival. "Honor, not so much. Don't care if you're a Black Hole Baron - kind of want to know why a ship almost got dropped on the city at terminal velocity. Might still owe you a punching."

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The wrecked ship touched down in the warehouse, still hot from the atmospheric drag but not likely to do damage to anything but the concrete. As it hit the ground, Kyle slumped to the floor, catching his breath. "Just... give me a second," he said, reaching for his collar. "Now that I'm not staring death in the face..."

The helmet on his armor expanded out, then began to retract, piece-by-piece. Soon, the face of a young man, still in his early 20s, became clear - brown hair, scraggly facial hair, and a look in his eyes that could be simultaneously described as "exhilarated" and "desperate." "I'm going to make the leap that none of you are bad guys. So... Kyle Steward. Star Knight. Not my title, 'cause that'd get confusing real quick..."

He shook his head. "Sorry. You want details on the ship. Star Knight was leading me back to Earth. I'd spent the better part of six years stranded in space, and signing up for the order was just one step in getting home. We were almost there, when we found this bird --" He jerked a thumb back to the ship. "-- in orbit around the moon, cloaked, non-responsive, and with what sounded like a distres signal on a loop. We boarded, and were fired upon. We were outnumbered, and the ship started going at relativistic speeds. We had no idea where, and the only way to get it to stop going that fast was to scrap the engine. I didn't realize we were in a decaying orbit over Earth until the thing came to a complete stop."

He shook his head. "They've got Star Knight. I've got no idea who these creeps are, but we need to find them. Fast."

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Once the ship was landed safely, the silver robot was perfectly still for a few minutes, blank face slack. It appeared the AI was either busy or had shut down from the gravitic propulsion trick. Eventually, though, it animated itself again, flying up to examine the ship through the portholes and any damaged places. "When you say "they've got him," do you mean that whoever set the trap for you has your Star Knight colleague still up in local space somewhere? Or do you believe they're still aboard the vessel we've got here? Traveling any distance into space will probably require securing some extra equipment." 

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Fenris had taken a few moments to rest, let his breakers reset, and let the rest of his systems cool off. But finally, he stood and walked to the edge of the top of the craft, before blinking down to stand with the others.


"If we get inside, maybe we can get some traces of whatever they used to teleport away, and track it. I think between all of us we can cook up something like that..."


He shrugged and crossed his arms.


"Either way, it sounds like you weren't trying to make a mess. And you helped out moving this little prize, so I figure that means you're fine. Now we just need to track down Star Knight. Speaking of which, do you prefer Kyle, or some other code name?"

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If they had Star Knight, a rescue was certainly in order. Wouldn't do to have one of Freedom City's greatest heroes, nor a Star Knight, fall in battle. He wasn't sure, but it was distinctly possible that some of the armored individuals didn't have technology that would enable them to survive space. He knew time was of the essence, and liberating Star Knight from capture could prove tricky. After all, if a Star Knight got captured, their foe must be someone either very powerful or very smart. He turned towards the others.


"Well, a rescue is in order, and if you need or want my help, you have it."

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"Lucky you even had an orbit," Dragonfly rather uncharitably pointed out, tilting her head to regard the ship. "Just as likely to have ended up entering atmosphere at near-c, or stuck in empty space. Or dragged into a sun."

The armored heroine tapped a finger against her leg as she thought, grimacing at the idea of scrapping an engine capable of relativistic speeds. waste - had to be done? - unsure - context - priorities "Would be useful to know how they captured a Star Knight, how they got away. Method, I mean. Probably going to have to track them somehow. And get to them. Suppose we could try to get that ship working again...mmh. Sounds like it was a trap, though. Would need to check it very, very carefully for tracers, control overrides, surveillance equipment. Costs time."

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"Yeah, I... really didn't want to think about the alternatives," Kyle said. "Honestly, I think they might have been aiming for Earth. They had their ship in one of the Lagrangian points, just far enough from Earth to avoid a lot of detection risks but close enough to keep an eye on things."

He leapt to his feet, feeling around the hull of the ship. "As for where the original Star Knight and her captors jumped off to... I've got no idea. Last I saw them, they leapt into this pyre in the middle of the room. Normally, I'd consider that really flashy suicide, but..."

He found a hole in the side of the hull, one of the first breaches that had torn its way through the craft, and walked inside. "These guys... they could control the flame," he said, his voice echoing out into the warehouse. "Call it to their side, shoot it out at others... and not only did it power the ship, the control protocols in their computer were based around prayer. It feels like... more than flame. More significant than flame. And I know I probably sound like a complete madman railing this off..."

He poked his head out of the hull. "Anyway. The pyre's in here in case you guys want to make sure I'm not crazy or anything. Also, if you want a name for the field... Cavalier works."

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