== So lately I’ve been reading an awful lot of comics, and watching big and small screen adaptations. And then this idea happened… First post is a bit clunkier than I’d like with all the scene setting, but it will get better!
Advance disclaimer - this isn’t supposed to be realistic. Much as we read comics for amusement, our characters have holodecks where they can actually go and be heroes and act out the stories. And that’s what this is. ==
== Chapter 1, Arrival ==
“I’ve set you up a program. You like your 20th century comics? You’ll love this. Trust me.”
The words from Nat Okehampton were still fresh in Beka’s mind as she approached holodeck 2. Truth be told it hadn’t taken much to convince the redhead to give it a go - her roommate was a brilliant holoprogrammer, and the two of them had enjoyed a number of quests in the dungeon crawler game Catacombs over the last few months.
I know I don’t have the greatest attention span when it comes to holos. Never found one that really grabbed me enough to want to play make-believe instead of just working on something in the real world. I’ve got high hopes for this one though. Didn’t even know there was anything out there that starred some of those comic book heroes, never mind one fine-tuned by Nat for her crazy friend…
Beka keyed in the program on the access panel outside the holodeck. She was wearing a pair of black jeans over crimson combat-style boots, and a sleeveless white vest top under a tailored green leather jacket of her own design, her hair tied back in a ponytail. After a few seconds’ pause, the computer’s voice announced that the holodeck was set.
[Program loaded. Enter when ready.]
Rubbing her hands together and with a grin on her face, Sydesh walked in. When she looked around at the inside of a standard Star Fleet shuttlecraft, that grin quickly turned into a frown.
“OK…” she murmured out loud. “She knows I can’t fly one of these things, beyond the Academy bare basics…”
There were a couple of crates in the back, and Beka had a quick look. The first crate was a delivery of medkits marked up for a facility on Risa, and a small locked box apparently with a couple of phasers in. The second one was much more interesting, yielding a skyboard and kit in the doctor’s favoured dark reds. Slowly the wheels started to turn in her head as she added it up.
This stuff in the 20th century… They won’t know what to make of it! A flying surfboard, energy weapons and medical equipment the likes of which they’ve never seen. OK, that’s more like it. So any minute now…
Right on cue, there was a loud alert from the shuttle’s helm. Beka darted over and took the pilot’s seat. Silently she started to run through the checklists she just about remembered from the Academy. All systems running at full. No other vessels nearby. But right out in front of the shuttle, a disc of blue light had started to form. It was growing rapidly and as the redhead tried to steer around it, it tracked the front of the small craft. The whole ship was bucking and shaking under the stresses, enough to make the doctor pull the safety belts from the back of the seat and buckle in.
After a few moments of struggling against the anomaly, which was now a swirling vortex easily big enough to swallow the shuttle, Sydesh shrugged and grinned.
“Here we go then!”
She increased speed and flew straight into the eye of the storm. The warning lights and alarms went into overdrive, the whole panel flashing as the cockpit went dark. A dull rumble and another alarm marked the demise of the port nacelle as a shower of sparks flew from the auxiliary console. Whatever the redhead did seemed to have absolutely no effect so she simply stopped trying, grabbing hold of the armrests and hanging on as the ship was battered. It was a wild ride and she was very much a passenger.
Up ahead, a patch of clear space appeared. After a couple of spine-melting impacts and a loud screech of metal from the shuttle’s abused frame, it was violently spat out the other side of the anomaly. Quickly Beka tried to regain control but the helm was severely damaged. She had basic manoeuvring thrusters and that was it. The port nacelle had been torn off in the storm, the starboard one was leaking plasma, and then there was a planet ahead.
Without a moment’s pause the shuttle hit the atmosphere. The doctor scrambled to try and control the descent but the heat caused the plasma trail to ignite. She blazed a burning path through the night skies and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.
As Beka realised she was headed for a sprawling city, all high-rise buildings and narrow streets, a sinking feeling took hold in her gut. The helm still wasn’t responding and she swore colourfully as the still-rattling ship headed for the ground at breakneck speed.
At the last second, the trail of plasma stopped and she found she had some helm activity. Retros engaged full throttle, slowing the speeding shuttle out of its death spiral and allowing the redhead to at least aim it. She flashed between two skyscrapers, spun underneath a huge yellow crane on a construction site and finally got the ship under control, banking hard towards a series of run-down dockside warehouses.
There was no stopping the descent. Beka just about managed to aim for a set of broken doors and the shuttle went straight through. The restraints held the doctor in place as the emergency landing systems kicked in, whilst the shuttle hit the hard ground, bounced and then smashed into the far wall in a cloud of dust.
Stunned by the ferocity of the impact, the redhead shook her head to try and clear it. Every Academy lesson about the Prime Directive was echoing through her head, even here, and so she tried to coax the shuttle’s engines back into life.
“Come on…” she murmured. “There’s no way that people didn’t see that… I don’t want them finding this ship because that’s a whole lot of explaining that’s way beyond my paygrade…”
Amazingly, the battered shuttle responded. Beka managed to get it turned around and airborne, but the whole console was warning messages. Using the lightest touch she could, she aimed the ship through the smashed doors and back outside. There were red and blue flashing lights getting ever closer to the crash site as the shuttle shuddered and jolted its way along the docks. It managed to get roughly half a mile before audible klaxons added their weight to the alerts all across the consoles.
“OK! OK!” Sydesh hissed. “I’ll get us down. Just please don’t crap out on me yet…”
She saw what looked like a scrapyard below, the whole thing fenced off behind wire fences and barbed wire, and decided that was as good a cover as any.
The landing was meant to be slow and gentle, but the engines cut out and the last 8 or so feet was just a plummet to a jarringly hard impact on the solid ground. Clutching her back with one hand, Beka powered the whole thing down, shrugged off the belts locking her in place and sprang up.
“Ow,” she exclaimed to no-one in particular. “Damn it Nat, that really hurt…”
Beka had to manually release the locks on the rear hatch and force it open. When she stepped out onto the concrete ground, she took a few steps around the wreckage of the shuttle. One nacelle had been lost to the storm. The other had been severed by the two crash-landings and lay a short distance away, the warped metal scorched and blackened. The hull was badly scarred, the nose dented by impacts and the glass cracked and broken.
I don’t think this is flying again. Like, ever. Sydesh shook her head slowly and sighed. OK. I need to hide it anyway. This looks like a junkyard, so hopefully there’s enough around here to bury a runabout under…
It was hard work in the cool night air, but Beka was able to find enough big pieces of scrap metal to cover up the small ship. Off in the distance she could still hear sirens and see flashing lights, and she suddenly felt much better about the decision to get the ship moved.
Green eyes looked around and fell on a battered static caravan at the back of the lot. She approached and gingerly tried the door. It was locked, and judging by the built-up dirt on the handle - she wiped her hand absently on her jeans - had been closed for some time. With the toe of a boot, she nudged the half-rotten doormat aside, and a heavy key stared back at her.
The old ones are the best, I guess!
The key opened the door, and Beka’s nose crinkled as she stepped inside.
What is that smell? Could be anything… It’s probably everything. If this is my new lair, it’s time to clean up in here. With a flamethrower, I think… Ah screw it. I want to go look around! Leaving a couple of windows open, she locked the door and made sure the shuttle was secure before heading off towards the city.
The sun was up now and there were people everywhere. The sights, the sounds, even the smells… Compared to the sterile cities of the 25th Century, this one was a complete sensory overload. Sydesh couldn’t help but look around in awe. She was getting jostled from all sides and openly stared at, but the grin on her face couldn’t have gotten much wider.
Holy ****, this is amazing! It’s so realistic! Just look at it!
A strong aroma of fresh coffee drew Beka’s attention to a rough and ready stall, but her heart sank when she saw the prices on the board outside. Money was the big driver in the 20th century and she didn’t have any, and judging by the hard-bitten and deeply cynical look on the face of the man behind the counter, he’d heard no end of sob stories for a free drink before.
Damn it. I need a plan…
Just then, a loud shout on the other side of the street made the redhead look around. A skinny guy in a vest and jeans was trying to wrestle a bag off a raven-haired woman in an expensive formal dress and jacket.
“Oh cool, street crime!” Sydesh exclaimed out loud, and then she rushed to help. Cars blew their horns at her as she sprinted across the road, nimbly avoiding a yellow cab that didn’t stop, and then launched into a flying kick that hit the man in the small of the back. He yelled, let go of the bag and turned to face her, right as she landed a vicious cross-shot to his head.
Staggering slightly, he turned to run, taking off down an alley. Beka was faster, easily chasing him down and taking his legs out from under him with a slide-tackle. He jumped to his feet and swore.
“Who the **** are you? Just leave me alone!” He pulled something from his pocket, and then a blade glinted in the daylight.
A jumping scissor-kick knocked the knife away. Landing, she pivoted and a brutal back kick found his jaw, and he crumpled to the ground. A whitish-green bundle sticking out of his pocket caught the redhead’s eye, and she pulled out the bundle of banknotes, her eyes wide.
“Score!” she murmured. There were some small bags of powder in his other pocket that she left well alone, but she took the money and headed back out into the street as she jammed it into her jacket pocket. The well-dressed woman was waiting, and she gave Beka a sideways glance.
“I don’t know why you did that,” she said, her accent a refined version of the local drawl that Sydesh had heard so much of already. “But thank you. Here’s my card. If I can ever repay the favour, then please give my office a call.”
Beka took the card, and read the name - Jeryn Hogarth - before looking back up.
“Um, thank you. I will,” the redhead replied, and then the woman was swallowed up by the press of people.
So my first day in the 20th century, I stopped a mugging, robbed a drug dealer and have a… a Senior Partner, Hogarth Chao and Benowitz who owes me a favour. Not bad!
The redhead pocketed the business card and made her way back to the coffee stand, where she bought herself a peppermint mocha with her ‘liberated’ money and retreated to a bench outside a church. There was a newspaper there and she picked it up, scanning for details about where she was.
20th June 2017! Wow, OK. That’s later than I thought it was. And this is… Hell’s Kitchen, New York. Figures. In the comics I read, everything happens in New York. It puts me right in the middle of Defenders country. So they must be out there somewhere.
The front page of the paper was all about Sydesh’s arrival, even if nobody else but her knew that's what it was. There was a picture of an indistinct object, red-hot and trailing fire behind it, hurtling through the night sky. A couple more images showed that same shape - nothing clear enough to identify it as a shuttle craft - dodging under the crane and then arcing over a warehouse. The accompanying story was written under the sub-heading ‘Mystery As Fireball Comes Down From the Sky!’, and how ‘police were baffled’ when they traced the path of the ‘unidentified object’ to an empty warehouse.
There was a huge smile on her lips as Beka finished off the coffee and then headed back towards the scrapyard. All sorts of ideas were bouncing around in her head, about how she was going to build a life of sorts here and hope to make a name for herself.
It’s gotta be cooler than ‘the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’ though, she thought to herself as she walked, looking at the paper again and the first few lines of an opinion piece on Daredevil. I came from the sky in a fireball. Could I go by Fireball? Nah, that’s too trashy. Comet… Nope, too easy to corrupt. Meteor… Meteora? Actually, I like that. Meteora it is.