1964-11-14 - Five Bucks Says it Hits the Tree
Summary: Mike and Johnny go out to investigate and discover a strange scout which they send merrily on its way. But where will it end up?
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
johnny-storm mike-matthews 

Just a bit upstate from NYC, there had been some rumblings about some strange sounds and sightings of some sort of vehicle tearing through the winding upstate highways, leading through some small towns in the Adirondaks. No one had been able to pinpoint exactly what it was, but the strange rapidly moving object that some described as a motorcycle, or a single-person car, or a pod of some kind, was tearing through the winding streets, and doing damage to street signs, barriers, the occasional deer, as well as leaving a scorching trail that just.. vanishes, with no obvious traces of the thing.

The Fantasticar is fantastic, but it is not presently flying, though it can. Its speeding, and Johnny is driving, dressed in the tight suit of his Fantastic Four uniform. Once he arrives where these reports of the speedy thingamabob are, he pauses, gets out of the car and looks around. Glancing over to Mike, "I don't for sure know if this is anything, or if its a prelude to another alien invasion, or a transdimensional crystal jackrabbit attack. THe latter wouldn't surprise me, based on you know, how things are going." He flashes a quick grin.

"Well, if we see any transdimensional crystal rabbits," Mike says, "I can assure you that I have not had any mushrooms in the past twenty-four hours to blame it on." There's a little smirk followed by an easy grin. Once they are out of the car he takes a look around. Mike does not have a fancy suit. He just has a pair of jeans and sneakers on with a t-shirt covered over by a navy blue windbreaker. The chill doesn't seem to bother him much at all as he takes a look around. "Whatever it is," Mike says, "It has to be somewhere during the day." He crouches down near where what looks like a single scorch-track the size of a regular tire tread just ends.

"That's good." Johnny laughs softly, and follows Mike over to where the scorch mark is, reaching down to touch it, get a feel for it. Not that he has any magical soot-reading powers, so there's nothing really to get from it, but still. He looks, and follows it with his eyes up along the path. "But no mushrooms, agreed. Hm, this doesn't look like a tiremark at all, nothing at all that one drives on earth that I've ever seen, and I've seen everything that drives."

"So, maybe something that flies?" Mike ponders, looking around. "It just sort of ends." It's beginning to head toward twilight, the days getting shorter and all, and not far from the time that the thing was usually seen by people, who mostly describe it as a kind of blur, indistinct. "Maybe we should.. wait and see if it comes out and then try and.. stop it? Or at least look at it?" He wanders a little bit off the road to look around the edges.

While Johnny might recognize there doesn't seem to be any tire tread or evidence of something touching ground, he does know fire, and it definitely seems that the heat generated by the object managed to melt a bit of the top portion of the road itself, not just leaving a tread of rubber behind. That kind of heat might even be akin to the sort he uses to generate thrust when he flies.

Johnny frowns a little more, looking closer, and noding, "Its a lot of heat, enough heat to get thrust like I do, but why is it so low to the ground? Its like if I was flying…. but along the road. Why'd I do that? If its got th eheat to fly, why is it not fly-flying?" But he nods his head slowly, taking a long breath, and moving over to lean against the car, "I don't have any better idea. I'm not exactly the plan it out guy, usually. Reed's off doing a thing." But his eyes are up, alert, keeping an eye on the sky which is more 'his' dominion to watch in a team with Mike.

"Not sure I've got a better idea either," Mike admits with a chuckle. "I've seen a lot of different sorts of vehicles but I'm no expert on them. This sort of thing, I think we're going to need to see it in action."

It isn't too long, as the sun goes down, before they don't have to wait much longer. What happens as they lean against the car, waiting, watching the road, is definitely unusual. Suddenly a tear appears in mid-air over the spot where the track begins. Out of the "rift" pops something that flashes silver on top, and burning red on the bottom, but is moving too fast to get a good look at it, and it takes off, following that familiar pattern on the ground.

"It seems like it has a sort of hovering-action, fire-like, but…" A rift. Johnny reacts instantly, leaping away from Mike and the car, and not just flaming, but burning with pure liquid flame, and *zooms* fast enough to send a loud *CRACK* through the air as the shockwave of his sonic boom cascades out from where he was in that moment. He moves to put himself between the … vehicle's path, and then he solidifies into a *body* sheathed in flame. That's not so smart but he knows he can take a car running into him without doing much more then bouncing a couple times.

Mike Matthews is fascinated by the sudden opening of the rift, enough so that he barely has time to react when Johnny suddenly leaps away from him and takes off after the thing. He remains by the car, instead moving to try to examine the rift, to see what might be left of it, examining the air around it.

Meanwhile, when Johnny takes off after the thing, he is easily able to outpace it at that speed, but when he solidifies directly in front of it, the thing attempts to course-correct but is unable to. And so it slams, full force into Johnny's chest, knocking him back off of his feet and dragging him across the road into the trees before the momentum is stopped and both end up in a pile of snapped branches. However, the thing has stopped. And getting a good look at it the strange thing is vaguely nautilus-shaped and silver on the top, a kind of metallic shell under which a number of flagellate appendages spin at extremely high speeds and actually seem to burn all on their own, though they aren't currently. In fact, the entire organism and its metallic shell seems to lie, inverted, half on top of Johnny. It's heavy, but not heavy enough that he can't push it off.

It is fairly said of Johnny, that he is not familiar with this strange emotion called fear. So when he grunts, gets a good brusing, and is not bounced but instead finds himself crashing through trees, scraping up his uniform and his skin, and leaving him bruised all around, he takes it with only a grunt and a groan. With a wince he pushes it off of him, standing up and looking down at the thing, "Mon-El, come check this out. I'm… not sure if its a thing or a creature or I don't even have a proper framework for the words. Also, ow."

Pulled away from where he had been examining what was left of the vanishing rift, Mike turns toward Johnny's voice and begins to jog over in that direction. He looks around and then he follows the broken tree limbs until he finds both Johnny and the Nautilus, which sounds like a good band name. There's a moment where he stares at the thing, and then he says, "I know what that is. It's a Kev'Ashi scout. We used to use them to explore hostile environments, since they're pretty resilient self-sustaining organisms for the most part, requiring litttle in the way of sustenance. They'd go zip around a planet, collect information. This one won't likely try to melt my brain and goo everywhere." He smirks, remembering their last encounter with alien life. "Though I don't know what it's doing here… or why it seems stuck in that loop."

Brushing off his suit, which has a couple tears in it— that if one is paying attention, are slowly mending already. Johnny frowns down at the creature, "Oh, its a living thing?" HE winces, "I didn't hurt it, did I? I thought it'd be a vehicle and we'd crash and then interrogate whoever is at the driver's wheel. Wait, you used them? Is this related to you at all? Your people?" He furrows his brow and looks between the pair of them.

Mike Matthews does notice the tears in Johnny's suit and watches a little to note the tears mending. He looks down at the thing and then he bends down and grabs it by the metallic shell and rights it, turning it shiny side up before setting it back down on the ground. Then he leans in and puts his ear right on up to the shell and says. "C'mere," gesturing for Johnny to put his ear against it as well. "Listen." And should Johnny do so, he can hear what sounds like a combination of a strange thrumming triple-heartbeat combined with the sound of slight whirring or humming like something mechanical.

Johnny comes as called, and leans down, putting ear against the machine, and he is silent for a moment, blinking, "Is that a heartbeat, or a pumping mechanism?" He wonders with a tilt, pulling away after a moment to gaze down at the ship-creature and look over with a mix of both interest and curiosity. He traces a hand along its surface, feeling the heat and flow of that heat.

"Both, sortof. It's a kind of melded organism. Like some of the shellfish of your planet, they inhabit the shells of other organisms that have been discarded. So these are raised, and they are offered these biomechanical compatible shell-bodies to inhabit. They crawl in, make their home inside, and then they sort of.. fuse with it. They can, if they wish, unfuse and pop out and then inhabit a different shell if they want to." Mike gently pats the thing on its shell and says, "But no, it's still running. You just stunned it, knocked it out perhaps. High velocity collision will do that. It should recover just fine." He runs his fingers along the shell until he finds some etchings and says, "Serial number." Then he says, "I don't think it's related to me. There are a number of worlds that trade and use them for exploration, scouting. I couldn't be sure if this one came from Daxam. Though if it did, that would be highly coincidental since I ended up here accidentally."

"You ended up here accidentally… the other Kryptonian did. Once is a coincidence, twice? It might not be a plan, but there's an order to events at that point, more likely then not. " Johnny shakes his head, standing up and looking down at the creature-ship, "Can it communicate? If another world is scouting us, that's not good. As a son of Earth I say I'm not super keen to be scouted out. At least unless you're looking for real-estate to, legally, buy, and peacefully, live. You know, like you did."

"It can," Mike says, "Just need to wait for it to wake up and hope it doesn't take off again." He then glances over at Johnny and says, "I even pay taxes on my illegally obtained identity." There's a flicker of amusement in his expression. It's then that the thing begins to stir, some of those flagellates beginning to twitch and move. Mike turns to it then, placing a hand on the shell but when he speaks, the language is clearly alien in nature, a series of soft clicks and whirrs. The thing replies, though seemingly a little more slowly as it rouses. Mike's brow furrows and he says, "It seems to be lost. It is expecting a planet with a red surface, no forestation, no water. Instead it's on a blue planet. There are numeric designators but they won't mean anything." He glances over to Johnny and says, "It basically runs its default sample program, departs, and ends up right back here again. The rift seems to be it trying to jump to its destination.. but it keeps ending up back here on the other side."

"If I have to throw myself in front of it again, I'll do it. I might crack a rib, but I'll do that." But he shares a grin about taxes, curious at this new language, "Okay, so its not scouting us, but scouting… us on accident. I don't know anything about technology. Is there a way to get it where it needs to be, or stop it doing what its doing, at least? A return-to-home button? Sooner or later if its doign this, it'll hit someone who isn't really keen on being hit, like me."

Meanwhile the scout is coming back to life, the limbs beginning to move and heat up, though for the moment it doesn't go anywhere, just beginning to hover right there in front of them. There is definitely heat and thrust coming out from under there, but it isn't taking off into the air, or moving anywhere. Mike says, "I think we can probably get it where it needs to be if you can help me identify the planet that it needs to get to."

With a gesture, Johnny pulls the heat of the drive away and into him. There's not really an upper limit on the heat he can absorb, and taking heat is natural. It might look like a light streaming of fire that just sinks into him, but heat his his. "How? Do you think — wait, you said red planet, do you mean mars? The fourth planet in our system is a fairly desolate world, but theorized to be high in iron content in its surface— thus its red surface. If it missed, that's the closest red-world to missing here. I can get pretty exact coordinates for Mars from here."

Mike Matthews nods his head and says, "Seems logical enough. And probably why it can't figure out where it's supposed to go now that it's on this planet instead of the one it was sent to. If we can get the coordinates for Mars from here, I can probably put them in and we can see if we can get it to jump there and out of here. But I'm going to need tools. Think we can bring it back to the shop? Or get tools from the shop out here? With a few screwdrivers I should be able to pop the panel off."

"Oh, the Fantasticar has quite a few tools." Johnny nods, and pads over that way, soon he is returning with a heavy, well-stocked toolbox. Not only does it have all the regular tools, but some fancy electronic-ones and some that do not have an obvious use. Setting it down, he pulls it open and pulls out some screwdrivers, "As for coordinates to Mars, that I'm not entirely sure of. It *might* be something I can calculate with Reed's computer, but this isn't my field of expertise."

When Johnny comes back with the tools, Mike says, "Well, at the very least we can try and get it going somewhere away from here, even if we throw it further off course. I haven't seen one of these in a while so.. I don't know if I'll even be able to figure it out," he admits. "So… here, here, and here.. is where we need to apply pressure in those slots. Got something that is roughly big enough to fit in there?" They look like a medium-sized flat-head screwdriver would likely do the job.

Johnny fetches three screwdrivers; one is the right side, two are smaller, but hopefully smaller is better then bigger. Usually is when it comes to slots. So he hands the proper sized one to Mike, "Is it actually sentient? By which I mean I'm not clear if we *should* help it or if our goal is to just get it away from earth." He reaches out with the smaller ones and moves them to the slots to apply pressure.

"Well, sortof," Mike says, "It's not particularly intelligent. It bonds with the system in the shell, and the shell gives it instructions, basically through electrical impulses, and it responds to those, basically doing what it's told. It picks up scientific data and makes observations, but by and large they are kind of like animals that carry scientific equipment around with them. They go out, and they come back, like.. homing.. turkeys?" Okay, so he got the wrong bird, but at least it was a bird. When Johnny puts pressure on two of the slots, he applies it to the third and then manages to pry the compartment off. Inside is what appears to be some sort of a computer system as well as a comoplex mechanical interior into which the creatures body seems to be seated and fused around at several points, adhering itself to the shell.

Staring at the… creature, Johnny shakes his head slowly, "Okay, in that case, I suggest we focus on getting it… away. I'm not entirely sure I approve of it even scouting mars: that's next door." But he does sound curious. He adds with a quick grin, "Homing pigeon. Turkeys are for sandwiches and thanksgiving— oh this'll be your first experience with that holiday, won't it? THe food, Mon-El. The food." He sounds wistful, adding, "And pigeons are for homing and carrying messages."

"Yes, pigeon," Mike says when Johnny corrects him, "Those are the ones that crap on statues, yes?" One of the many things one learns in cities, it seems. "Okay, then we will try to get it as far off course from where it was going as possible. That should.. at least get it out of your .. our.. solar system." He then glances over at Johnny and says, "Halloween was strange. Small children wearing masks showed up at my apartment asking if I wanted to be tricked or treated. I said treat but they seemed to expect them from me instead of the other way around. It was a confusing holiday. Are there masks and costumes for Thanksgiving, too?" Nope. Earth holidays. Not his forte. Ask him all about the Fourth of July. He fiddles a bit and eventually a small screen folds out and he pokes at it. It lights up but the language on it is alien. "So, keep draining the heat from it so that it doesn't move, and I'm going to try something." For Science!

"Exactly, they crap on statues." Johnny laughs softly, nodding and holding his hand out to continue draining the heat as he explains Holidays. "Right, so Halloween has a lot of history. In the old days it was All Hallow's Eve. It was a day to remember the dead and departed. Ancient pagan thing, it…got twisted over time. Its complicated. 'Trick or treat' though, is a _threat_. Do you want to get a trick— a prank, like someone throwing rolls of toilet paper all over your house or lighting some dogpoot in a paperbag on fire on your porch— or will you give a treat. Its not a threat anyone means, … mostly …these are all kids." He laughs softly, "Thanksgiving goes to a celebration at the founding of this country. Thanks-giving. Giving thanks for what you have. Mostly though its just when people eat a godawful amount of traditional food. Christmas is supposed to celebrate the birth of one of our dominant religions gods, though really its when you dress up a tree in fancy decorations and give presents. Easter his death and resurrection, though really its when you paint eggs and hide them for kids to find. Saint Patrick's Day is when you celebrate the Irish culture, though really you wear green or get pinched, and get very drunk. I like that one. Valentines day is when you give your lover chocolate. I have never for the life of me known what the hell ARbor Day is about. Columbus Day is when you celebrate the discovery of this continent by Columbus and the nearly-complete genocidal destruction of an entire people, half on purpose, half accidentally. Hmm. Oh, New Years Eve is when you get *really* drunk and count down for the start of a new year."

Mike Matthews fiddles all the while that Johnny is describing Holidays, until finally he looks at the screen, considers, looks skeptical, and then presses a button on the screen. There's a moment where the whole thing flickers and goes dark and then comes up again. "Well, I think that should do it.. It's either going to get out of the solar system until it hits another planet, or it's going to crash into that tree over there… one of the two." And from the looks of it, the odds are about even. He pops the panel back into place, using the screwdrivers to lever it back in until it snaps. Then he gives the thing a bit of a pat and says, "We should set it on the road then let it go." Then he pauses and says, "I am.. not certain what half of all of that means but I can get behind eating a lot of food, giving presents, and getting fantastically drunk."

Johnny flashes Mike a grin, "Those are my favorite holidays, yes, but I know too much about how most of them are ancient pagan rituals that the Christians stole to really follow most of them." BUt he nods, and moves to help lift the device and carry it, though he doesn't really think that through: surely Mike doesn't need the help. "Road, I'll fly up to get a look and make sure no one is coming on the road, then we turn it on. Five bucks says it hits the tree."

"Ancient rituals being taken up by modern gods?" Mike asks, trying to make sure that he's interpreting what Johnny is saying correctly. But then they make to move the thing out to the road, and Mike accepts the help. He nods at the plan and says, "It's on, and ready to go. All you have to do is allow it to build up its heat and it should take off on its own." He then glances at the thing, at the tree, and then says, "I'll take that bet."

|ROLL| Mike Matthews +rolls 1d20 for: 13

"Christianity is a relatively recent religion, even though its one of the dominant ones, at only about two thousand years old. As it spread, when it moved into an area, it narrowed its eyes and was all like: This special rite or holiday or legendary figure? We're going to reinterpret it to fit our story. Oh and anything we don't reinterpret as ourselves, we declare heresy and burn people at the stake who do it." explains Johnny with a slight nod: its clear from his tone this is not his religion, if there was any doubt. He steps away, and stops pulling in the heat, and instead crosses his arms over his head. After a moment, he shrugs, and *adds* heat, to help. "Deal, bet on."

"Hmm. I see. I have read some things about Christianity. Mostly pamphlets. The Mormon people also like to come to my door and talk to me from time to time. They seem a lonely people, always wanting to talk for a long time. I do find the gentlemen with the small flowers more pleasant though. I'd rather the flowers than the pamphlets," Mike opines on his encounters with Earth religions before taking a step back as well.

It doesn't take long for the shelled nautilus robo-organic critter to heat itself up. It makes a whirring noise and the sound of the propulsion grows until it suddenly takes off rapidly down the road. At first it seems as though it might careen off into the tree, but then it seems like it may stay its usual course. In the end, however, it does not. It takes off straight down the road and then *pop* a tear opens up in front of it, the thing goes through, and it closes again. Gone.

"Well," Mike says, hands in his pockets. "It didn't hit the tree. And it didn't go the same way it did before. So.. hopefully it's gone. Guess we'll know if it doesn't turn up again tomorow night."

"Careful." Johnny laughs and shakes his head, "The question of if, or if not, Mormons are Christians is a complex one. Originally, there were many small Christian sects, after Christ died. But then the Catholics eradicated most of their competition. And then the Protestants rebelled. There's a fairly calm peace between Catholic and Protestant lately, but Mormon is something else. They added a whole book and a lot of weirdness and so…" He shrugs, and watches, and sighs wistfully, though amused, "So I owe you a fiver." it is decided, "What do we do if it does show up again? I'm sort of, well, of the opinion we put it out of commission with prejudice."

"I'll have to read some more about Earth religions. Some of them seem all blended together to me," Mike decides with a small shrug of his shoulder. "I was never much of a student of our own Gods back on Daxam. My interest in religion is.. casual at best." He then looks in the direction that the thing went and says, "Well, if it comes back, and you deem it a threat, then I guess we terminate it as such. It's just less suspicious if it goes flying off somewhere else than if the signal terminates here, I figure. But, we gave it a shot."

"Oh, they are … related. Judiasm, Christianity — both Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant — and Islam are all… cousins. The Jews have the Torah and the Old Testament. The Christians took that and added the New Testament. The Muslims— Islam— took that and added the Qu'ran. The Mormons took the Old and New Testament and added the Book of Mormon. But in a way, they are all worshipping the same god. Its just this mess of deciding which holy scriptures you consider valid or not. Then on the other side of the world, you have the many varieties of Hinduism, Buddhism… which have _regional_ variations." Johnny shakes his head slowly, "Personally, the fact that there's aliens with gods shaped not at all like ours proves the whole thing is bullshit. I'm an athiest. Not a popular position around here." He shrugs and grins, nodding, "Yeah, I just worry, mostly, if it comes back and someone *else* gets it and .. uses it. I don't fully understand this technology but it just doesn't belong here."

Mike Matthews nods a bit, but it's obvious that at some point in all of that, he gets a bit lost, as his familiarity is very vague. Still, he takes it all in with a faintly amused smile when Johnny declares it all bullshit. "There are many species on many planets with many beliefs," he agrees. "I just try not to piss off the ones that might light me on fire for not believing so where I can. Though, that's less of a threat on this planet." He then wanders over to where Johnny is standing and says, "Well, we can come back here tomorrow night and wait and see if itcomes back, or if we hear of anything similar to what was happening here nearby. If we don't see it tomorrow, I am pretty sure I got it right."

"Hey, not historically. We were big on lighting people who believed wrong on fire. For going to war and raping and murdering across nations of wrong-believers. Nowadays, they don't light you on fire so much as maybe hang you from a tree. This world has a lot of people that, frankly, suck, in it, Mon-El." Johnny sighs softly, long-suffering, "But it has a lot of perfectly nice, innocent people. But on religion we're touchy. I don't admit to being an athiest in public: even me with my reputation." He nods at the rest of the plan, "Sounds like a good strategy. Here's hoping, but if we gotta deal with it, we gotta deal with it."

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