Death To Hughes Part One

Death to Hughes, Part One
Date: September 20, 2010
Participants: Proton, Daybreaker, Scimitar
Summary: Proton and Daybreaker help Scimitar prevent a satellite from crashing into John Hughes High School.

It's a lovely day in California… The sun is shining, birds are singing, people are hanging out in the park. And Tara's base has informed her over a comlink that a Low Earth Orbit Sattelite has just lost communications with the ground and is heading towards earth. Towards California. Towards San Angeles. So Scimitar went off to deal with it, and is now… well, not appearing so much is now a superheated smudge of light somewhere up, way up in the sky.

Aleksei is out at the park to do some skating; he has his board, but today is preferring some simple sedate tricks and such on level ground rather than heading for the skate-park part of the park. He's rebelliously forsaken the pads and helmet (though they're in his gym bag over by that bench), and is just concentrating on getting down this one trick. Clack-clack-clack OOOF! OK, not yet.

Tara was not really willing to let a satellite fall to Earth and kill folks, and to have it come so close to her base, well, that's a clear invitation to intervene. Running to her lab, she straps on the prototype space booster even as her armor forms around her, and then kicking in the thrusters she rockets up towards the falling satellite. Fortunately her brain moves about as fast as a computer, she's able to track the object's telemetry and plot an intercept course. Of course—it weighs a LOT, and has a considerable amount of inertia built up. "OOMPH!" Perhaps not the most noteworthy line, but all that comes to mind when she slams into the thing, and grabs on, applying braking thrust as she tries to divert it from the city and into a body of water.

"Ready, okay!" A pretty blonde girl in a short skirt and clingy sweater is facing a dozen others gathered near the dolphin statue at the south end of the park. The dozen are younger — fourteen, fifteen, a few sixteen-year-olds. They're all dressed in approximately the same style, and in unison they begin to move and chant. "How funky is your chicken! How loose is your goose!"

Leigh, similarly dressed, is not in this group. Rather, she stands nearby with a couple of other girls, one of whom is smoking a cigarette (and Leigh is glaring at this girl balefully, though the glare goes unnoticed). "Really, did you have to make them get together the night after that party?" She didn't attend, parental wrath being understood by her co-cheerleaders. "Half of them look hung over." And if she finds out who it was that brought booze to the party, heads will roll. Leigh may not be head cheerleader, but she damn well takes care of her comrades in fuzzy white sleeves.

After his upteenth fall, Alek sees Leigh over in that group and picks himself up to go say hi - not realizing at the moment that he, the painfully unhip, is venturing into a squad of cheerleaders. "Leigh, hi," he says casually as he walks up, sweaty and disheveled from skating.

The armored heroine finds herself fighting mutually contradictory problems. Such as Friction, excess of and traction, lack of. It's hard steering something the weight of a sattelite, especially when its falling through the air. The friction of the air heats the satellite to a golden-orange streak in the sky, and threatens to heat her suit up much the same. The lower they get, the easier it is to break of course… but the more she and the satellite will heat up.

Even as the armor heats up, and the satellite, and the young lady inside the Scimitar armor — Tara diverts more power to the thrusters, robbing power from life support. "Need…more…thrust…" Said through gritted teeth. Heated well past the flashpoint of the air around them, the satellite and armored heroine both are sheathed in a corona of flame and smoke, the blue-white flares of the thruster packs the only sign that there's more there than just the falling satellite.

More than one of the cheerleading squad looks down their nose at Aleksei's arrival. Karen, the girl whose cigarette would have long since burst into much brighter and more violent flames were Leigh willing to use her laser powers on it, actually goes out of her way to sniff and make a disparaging comment to one of her neighbors, and Leigh casts an even more scathing look at her as she turns to Aleksei and starts to say somthing. In the end, though, her eyes are caught by something burning in the sky over his head. She doesn't turn, but yells out, "Tiffany! We've gotta go! Now!" 'Cause if she's not mistaken, there is something very hot falling straight toward the park. She points, both for emphasis and for Aleksei's benefit.

Aleksei blushes hotly, and starts to walk off, but Leigh's comment and yell cause him to turn, look up… and nod. He fake-sniffles and yells something incoherent at the girl with the cigarette, and runs off like he's going to go off and cry. God, what he does for the secret identity thing… he sprints to and past the bathroom area and into dense foilage. Then he grasps the amber stone around his neck and there is a flash of light. Then Proton rockets out of the grove at almost-invisible top speed, heading up towards whatever it is coming for the park.

"What? Go?" "What's she pointing at?" "Is that, like, a comet?" "Comets don't happen in the daytime!" "Let's go!" Soon there's a half-panicked milling group of teenaged cheerleaders trying to run out of the park.

Even as they plummet, Tara realizes that the satellite is course correcting with attitude thrusters in an attempt to keep it on course! "Bloody…hell…" Sweating, and not liking the stink of her hair as it starts to smoulder, Tara cuts her own thrusters, and then clambers over the red-orange hull of the satellite, getting into a relatively cool spot to the rear. A gauntleted hand tears open an access panel, and then she reaches in and with apparent calm start rewiring the thrust controls to fire retros. Unaware of Proton (though that's sure to change!), the woman works frantically her own thrusters once more engaged as she grips the hull and tries to help with the deceleration once more.

As long as the cheerleaders are moving out of the park, and none of them are doing anything stupid, Leigh picks her own path, one that will lead her somewhere secluded where she can quickly and privately change into the golden, sleeveless disco costume that marks her as Daybreak. Once her mask is affixed she leaves her backpack and uniform behind and bursts out onto the scene leaving a brilliant trail in her wake. She checks on the other cheerleaders quickly, then speeds skyward, following Proton's trail. "Sorry about that," she says as she comes close enough to speak to him. "Karen's a total bitch." Because for all that there's something falling into the park, one must make certain one's friends are not hurt by one's… well, Karen's not so much a friend as a problem in waiting. That said, she speeds upward to lend herself to the redirection and deceleration efforts. Heat-absorption powers, don't fail me now!

Proton gives a quick nod to Leigh, the young man he is now somehow able to put that aside and concentrate on the task at hand. He shoots up into the sky, telescopic vision already locked onto the falling satellite. "Someone's bringing that satellite down on the city!" he says, "She's working on it even now." He frowns. If he simply slams into it, the satellite will break into a few dozen major problems, all heading for the city. So.. he comes up and matches course, then starts to try and slow the satellite himself, not realizing that Tara is trying the same thing. "We'll deal with you in a second!" he yells at her, and exerts his strength to try and stop the thing. He can literally move a small mountain as needed, so he hopes it's enough to deal with this thing. He sets his jaw, sets his broad shoulders against the falling mechanism and pushes back for all he's worth, carefully applying pressure in order not to break it up.

Speaking calmly, Tara ramps up the volume on her armor to a level that can be heard easily despite the ruckus ongoing. "Someone reprogrammed this CommSat — it actually has a set course, extrapolating target impact point…" Once Proton lends his super strength to the cause, Tara continues her own efforts. "Steer for the fountain…this thing is hot, too hot to land by trees or other foliage." The water in the fountain is sure to flash boil and turn into a large cloud of steam, but that's the best option at the moment. The ground is way too close to do much else.

"Hughes High School was the target…" Tara adds, her tone clearly puzzled.

Leigh quickly comes to the conclusion that, while she's unsure the heat would bother her at all (though her costume might be another story), she doesn't have enough strength to actually do any good in terms of slowing anything, and she is definitely NOT proof against being crushed. So instead she flies up alongside the falling satellite and moves in close. "If this works I'm going to… HUGHES?!" Her startlement is far, far too obvious, but she stays close anyway, following the satellite and the other heroes down.

Proton's eyes widen at that and he shoots Daybreaker a significant look; then he puts his back into stopping the sat, slowing it as much as he possibly can. He certainly uses his strength to change it's course towards the fountain, even as heat shimmers flicker around his invulnerable cape from the reentry. "Got it; fountain," the young man says, shifting the multi-ton hunk of metal easily even against it's enormous velocity. "There may not be any water left when we're done, but.."

"…but it is better than any other option." Scimitar states firmly. "I'm Scimitar." She adds afterward. Since Proton seems to have things well in hand, she downloads the contents of the satellite's memory core for further analysis later. "Hughes." She confirms to Leigh. "Quite deliberately, in fact…allowing for windspeed and other factors it would have impacted with the main building, the explosion would have set off secondary blasts from the furnace and gas mains. The entire building would have likely been more or less vaporized in the double explosions." And anyone there would have probably died.

Absorbing the heat doesn't hurt Daybreak… in fact, it feels kinda nice at first, like sunshine but… different. Before she can analyze the difference however, the group comes crashing down into the fountain, the residual heat enough to vaporize all but a 1/4 inch of the water, filling the air with clouds of steam. But miracle of miracles, ENOUGH heat and velocity had bleed off that the fountain is mostly intact, with just a few minor cracks! Oh, and a large commsat satellite sitting in the middle of it.

Proton grunts as he slows the satellite some more, bleeding off as much acceleration as he can while keeping the thing in one peice. "Can.. ummph.. you see who did this?" he says, giving a quick look at the armored woman. "Someone really must not want to take their first pop-test tomorrow…"

After the touchdown, Proton stands up and shakes dripping hair. "Whew.." he says, eyeing the massive satellite. "OK, I guess I should take this to the military base for them to look over. These things belong to the military, right?" the young caped man says, only the faintest trace of his accent remaining.

Daybreak returns Proton's look in kind, with an additional look that says 'This has Robbie Butler written all over it,' because that's just the way Leigh thinks when it comes to Robbie Butler. The poor kid is a slime, but probably not a satellite highjacker. Try telling that to Leigh, though. "Hughes High. Thank goodness it's Sunday," she remarks as she settles amid the hiss of steam and tick and crack of cooling metal and marble. "Also, whoa, head rush."

"I've downloaded the memory core, aside from any sort of physical alterations to the sat this should be sufficient. Great work, guys, thanks for the assist — I was doing my best, but there's limits." Having landed in a crouch, the woman straightents to her full armored height of seventy-eight inches. Crystalline armor hisses and pops as it cools, Tara resetting the power systems to spec, and then looking to Proton again. "Yes. I'd suggest taking it to either the Freedom Brigade at Freedom Plaza, or to the First Metahuman at Fort Bragg." The blue crystal face turns then towards Leigh. "Handy ability, did I see you dampening the fires?" A moment then to step back, her armor flowing into a new matrix, transforming as the thrusters over the shoulders are cannibalized, the plates sliding and shifting, and then the woman ends up crouched low on a blue crystalline motorcycle of a very exotic design, the wheels made of shimmering fields of force.

Proton can only say 'Whoah, cooool,' at Scimitar's transformation, forgetting that two minutes ago he was all set to fight her and pack her off to the first meta-prison he came across. He picks up the massive satellite and kicks off a bit, floating there with the multi-ton chunk of equipment held aloft easily. "Fort Bragg sounds best," he says. He looks to Daybreaker. "I'll be back in a minute." Then: he looks to Scimitar. "How can we find you again, so we can find out who targetted the school?"

"I… yes," says Daybreak, a little surprised to have her contribution acknowledged. It didn't seem like that much to her. "I absorb heat." Among other things, and she could go into detail, and probably would given her penchant for self-promotion, if not for the fact that THIS SATELLITE WAS AIMED AT HER HIGH SCHOOL! She manages a somewhat sooty smile, though, and wishes, in the back of her mind, that there were a newspaper photographer on hand.

A few braver bystanders are taking photos or videos…. from a safe distance. This will be all over flicker and YouTube in minutes!

Flickr and Youtube will suffice. Just get the name right, folks. It's 'Daybreak.'

Scimitar offers her open hand to Proton, and then a sheathe opens in the armored glove, a titanium card emerging. "This is a private comm to get to me. Call me tomorrow and I'll let you know what I found out." And then she offers the pair of you jaunty salutes, then hunkers low as shields extend to lock her in place and the bike /zooms/ off, a sonic boom audible some few hundred yards away. Jeepers!

With Scimitar gone, Leigh can drop a little of the attempted heroic facade that was already shattering. She turns to Proton. "You gotta get that thing somewhere, but… HUGHES?!"

Proton nods to Daybreak as he lifts off, mostly ignoring the cameras and video phones. "I know. We will all need to talk about this, later," he says, then with a boost he's off. Seconds later amid sirens, he sets the satellite down gently near a cleared spot in the Fort Bragg confines, then zooms away faster than radar can follow him. He touches down near the park and transforms back, trotting back to get his gym bag and skateboard, marvelling at what has happened while he went off.

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