2009-07-09:The Man Who Fell to Earth


Keld_icon.jpg SheHulk_icon.jpg

Summary: The Savage She-Hulk discovers an alien (Keld) in a crater in New Jersey

Date: July 9, 2009

Log Title The Man Who Fell To Earth

Rating: PG-13

Near Solar Orbit, then New Jersey

The first warning comes from the Solar Max satellite, which of course has a few more systems than are commonly let on. Something, not big enough to be a flare, but tremendouosly energetic, has just formed in the solar coronal interface, the place where all the magnetic fields snap and whip around and the radiation-pressure is in the multi-millions of degrees (on Lord Kelvin's scale, or any other terrestrial measuring tool). The satellite focusses a few special sensors, but before they can lock the position, the energy anomaly plunges INTO the sun, leaving a faint ripple in the corona that quickly smooths away.
Nothing seems to happen for a long enough moment that the satellite systems have nearly decided (in their clock-work-and-punched-metal-tape way) that nothing worth reporting has happened - and then the ripple comes back, with the sun's surface practically ringing like a bell, and a sudden pressure wave in spacetime is aimed directly at earth - and the passing of the wave spins Solar Max away from "true" for a few seconds, and the satellite camera utterly misses the way the sun suddenly STOPS ringing, as if it were an annoyed old man locking the door that was being slammed by the bratty neighborhood kids.
Regardless, Solar Max does indeed send its message to Earth, just as something cuts a glowing arc across the daytime sky, and as it passes the terminator line moving into darkness, leaving a contrail behind it that points sharply towards the ground somewhere west of New York City. Yes, it's crashing in JERSEY.
And, somewhere in each of the SHIELD monitoring site, the Baxter Building (upper floors), NASA's orbital tracking system, and probably both the Avengers' Mansion and the Latverian Embassy, an alarm has been triggered to let someone, somewhere, know that the machines don't know what happened, but someone should do something.

The behavior of the meteorite has set off several alarms in the Avenger mansion. Unfortunately, the only one who's available at the time is a reserve member: She-Hulk. Fortunately, she isn't tied up in court at the moment, so, with a sigh she suits up, gets into her car, and heads out to Jersey of all places. "God. Why Jersey?"

The contrail does not answer for God, instead pointing the way like a big smokey "Look Here" sign. Fortunately, for whatever reasons of convenience, traffic is not too bad coming OUT of the city at something before 5am, and there's not yet any police or army blocking the road through the forest; over the crest of one more hill should reach it. There is no smell of smoke and no flames in treetops, so perhaps it didn't set the scrubby New Jersey pine forest ablaze.
Over the hill, and in the dark pre-twilight, there is an unnerving silence: birds and insects more quiet than they should be. The sky is scattershot with stars, the faint sulphur-yellow blur off the horizon revealing the location of cities to any potential alien invader, while the waning moon gives enough light to vaguely reveal the contrail just where it takes its sharp downward turn. The smell of ozone and burning fills the air as well, and the contrail leads inexorably down, less distinct as perspective and proximity do their work; it ends with a second column of smoke that rises from a broad hole in the ground.
Perhaps 35 feet across, the hole appears recent, a crater with dirt and rock tossed out, and the smoke rises from burning scrub-brush just in the edge of the crater.
Inside the crater, at the bottom, water slowly trickles in from the surroundings, filling the hole slowly.

Jennifer swiftly moves through the underbrush, following the smell of ozone, and the column of smoke, until finds herself faced with the crater. She quickly pats out the brush fire before it can spread and become a real problem before looking down in the crater curiously. "Hello?'

A mud-smeared figure can be seen vaguely moving in the bottom of the crater; it appears to be a human male, crouched low or crawling on his knees, perhaps trying to stand up. A good amount of the steam seems to be coming off his body where the groundwater springs are spraying against him. In fact, there's a sudden rush of water from one of the springs, and he's drenched, disappearing inside a cloud of white vapor that shows suddenly stark as dawn begins to crawl along the horizon.

Jennifer scowls as she starts trekking down the side of the crater to either assist the man, or detain him as the case may be. "Hello?" She asks again.

A voice answers, a medium baritone male voice, calling out roughly in garbled words that are cut off too quickly by the hissing water and the steam from the remaining superheated rocks and soil as the water quenches them. As Jennifer reaches the edge of the swirling fog, a hand, spattered in mud, appears from within, grasping half-blindly towards the source of the voice of rescue, please, let it be rescue. A man staggers forward, slipping and off-balance, towards Jennifer. It's too dark yet to see clearly, but he seems to be a regular human, with optional mud, and no clothes. About six-three, well built, and yeah, no uniform, or apparently any other clothes. At first glance anyway.

Jennifer reaches out and grasps the man's hand, helping to steady himself. "It's okay," she says, in a soothing tone of voice. She doesn't think he'll understand the words, but hopefully the intention to help is clear.

The muddy man accepts the steadying hand gratefully and … woah. He's heavier than he looks; at least 700 pounds, and his grip is stronger. Not in the She-Hulk's class, but still far stronger than the usual guys.
He speaks: "Hab killa ick-tick cast." He smiles, for just a moment, and winces and says something else.
"Smeg it, fay book Galakt bosch map sucked it up."

Once She-Hulk has a firm grip on the alien's hand she helps him out of the crater onto drier ground. At his speech she just chuckles at him and say, "That almost sounds like English."

No longer shaded by the sides of the crater, the dawn light (crepusculent, according to some) reveals more about the stranger from the hole in the ground. First off, he's indeed naked. No clothes. Not even a thong. Second off, he's … OK, either this is one of the most muscular and absolutely ripped women on earth, or …nope. He has nothing at all Down There in the Red Zone of Prurience. Just skin like on the rest of him. Yet he does seem to be a 'him" … voice, body language, even scent, if one notices that sort of thing.
He looks at his rescuer, and tilts his head slightly to the right, which in human body language might mean puzzlement.
"Has it kwuk sap?" And with a brief, quickly concealed wince again, "Has it gone soft, tapper?"

The alien's nakedness only gives her pause for a second as she somehow looks mildly disappointed at what she sees. However, now's not the time for window shopping. There's an alien in distress, and he needs help. She thinks. "Well, it's getting better, I can actually make out a word or two, there."

The two different one-way conversations are a bit frustrating, and the alien catches a quick sense of … something? nah. But a definite will-to-help, which of course will indebt him to her for a time. He reaches inside, the euphoria and the sense of godlike power that he almost remembers are gone, but an echo does remain, a strain of music. He lets it fill him, and where his hand is touching hers, it's as if a clear sense of words was there, if she wanted to take it, and if she wanted to give them. The phrases he spoke earlier are suddenly crystal clear: habkila ikt-khast, may luck grace your labors, which means Thank You - and then Azt quox-ap? where am I, and Azt gomz-avt appa? What small mudball planet have I come to? Well, clear communication doesn't mean it has to be polite.
And as the dawn light grows brighter, still too dark for regular human vision to reveal colors in most places, his green eyes widen as he looks at her.
"Iktam uth-ahru uth-uri-tsiu. You are very large. And green."

Jennifer is a little taken aback at the translation process at first, but quickly gets used to it. She takes his comment on her size as a compliment and strikes a little pose, with her hands on her hips. "Why, yes I am," she says, white teeth showing in a smile. "I am She-Hulk. Welcome to Earth."

When the hand-contact goes, so does the translation, how inconvenient. But the alien grins again, hollywood-quality smile. It was indeed a compliment, and he has just barely enough residual contact before it fades to catch her name, and the name of the planet. She-Hulk is her name. Earth is the … Earth?
That's the planet the exile was found on, that means, when he went into hibersleep on Dakkam, and then the bright yellow light, the incredible energy, it worked! He laughs for a moment in an exhiliration of glee, then snaps to military attention, right fist over left pectoral, still a ghost of that grin on his face.
"So fast cad fa Keld Jonal, stay zoo show kilt da camp ta" There's a break before and after Keld Jonal, and he lightly taps his chest with that fist.

Jennifer tilts her head, trying to make out the words, now that the translation has gone. One thing she did pick up, however, was his name. "Keld Jonal," she says, gesturing to the man in front of her. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

"She-Hulk," he confirms, and then with a deadpan face but his green eyes still wide, "Ick ta mouth aroo ooh thab key va ve suckshadowk. uther it's you. App zone dick tam squirrel soft-canned?"
He may get punched for that last question sometime in the future, but then, if she WAS, she'd recognize Dakkamite language. Maybe. They're tricky. But she has a normal jaw without the accordion-skin.

Jennifer can only make out a few of the words that he's saying before shaking her head and giving up trying to translate it. She claps him on the shoulder to establish skin contact again, since that seems to have worked before.

It's skin touch, not optimal but enough. And the strange almost-heard almost-music is there for an instant, before the window of comprehension opens. Keld is still at attention, but goes to a rest stance when she makes contact, and the words become clear again.
Zof-azt kad-fa Keld Jonalh, sta-zu-sho-kelt Dakkam-ta. My name is Lieutenant Keld Jonalh, Elect Warrior of Dakkam.
iktam uth-ahru uth-habkhivave-zukshavdokh. uth-uri-tsiu. You are very large and beautiful (erotic). And green.
ap-Zond iktam-skurolh-zof-kand? Promise you're not a skrull?
And when he senses that last sentence did get translated, he prepares for military discipline. Gulp.

Jennifer just laughs heartily at that last. No, this isn't the first time she's been mistaken for a skrull. She squeezes his shoulder reassuringly before answering, "No, I'm not a skrull. I'm human that's had… well… it's a long story. What brings you here to earth?"

Keld answers drily, "mud-sta-kstav-sletz. Gravity is irresistable. hauhraj-ko kand zukma-ta. There wasn't any food in space."
He's not exactly explaining more, but the image comes through of a ship, or more of a life-pod, and it being destroyed by tremendous heat.

Jennifer nods sagely, thinking about how to proceed from here. "Allright. Lets get you to the mansion, get some clothes on you and from there we can talk about what to do with you."

Holding the contact, it seems that Keld's thoughts are not quite in words but more in concepts. Clothes! Clothes good. (this)planet pleasant, balmy, temperature atmosphere, (amusement) Keld (forgot) not-clothes. she-hulk/gorgeous green woman (military) uniform-attire?. Curiosity.
"iktam ap-sho? Are you a warrior?"

Jennifer leads Keld through the woods, pushing aside the underbrush and conversing with the alien until they get to her car. "Yes," she answers, "I am a warrior. This is a uniform of sorts, I guess. I belong to a group of warriors called The Avengers. We protect the people of the earth." She shrugs. "We aren't associated with the government, though."

Keld nods, still in close enough communication that he isn't bothering to use words. It's a comfortable feeling, and a sense that he's been, if not actually lonely, then too far from people for too long. An apologetic-contrary-proud sense of definitely working for those-who-rule, and being very good at it, being chosen for the harder task, the stronger purpose of protecting people-of-dakkam, and then a bit of confusion and loss, perhaps abandonment. He stops short when he sees the car, and grins again, "zukrhuz!" (It's so cute and tiny!)

Jennifer laughs again at Keld's reaction to her sports car. "It's bigger than most of it's kind," she says. "Since I wouldn't be able to fit into most sports car." She opens the passenger side door, and motions for him to get in. She seems genuinely relieved that this encounter has gone so well, and without violence. Not that she doesn't mind bashing a few heads in, but it's good to have an alien drop out of nowhere that isn't bent on world domination/destruction.

Keld carefully enters the car, still not sure he's properly calibrated himself to this low-grav world, but it seems to be decently sturdy, and his military training for low-grav world survival seems to be still working, so he doesn't accidentally snap off a knob or bend the metal of the door, and the car seems to be sprung well, not bottoming out as he sits down in the seat and, glancing, recognizes a safety restraint and clips it on. On the way thru the woods, he had picked up a broken stick, and he looks it over, sniffing at it, touching the tip of his tongue to it as the green Avenger finds her way around to her side.
And, fortunately, the mud he was smeared with has dried by now, and been brushed off.

It's obvious that She-Hulk's sports car has had a lot of modifications done to it, mostly to the suspension to handle her increased weight. With a turn of the key, the car starts with a throaty roar, and she puts the machine into gear after buckling up herself. An eyebrow arches when she notices his stick. "I take it you're hungry?"

It's a small car, ergo, they're probably touching at shoulders or elbows, even though not enough to interfere with one another, and that lets Keld answer clearly.
"Azt shab-ta zukma, I have need of decent food," and then, "Azt bok shab-ta maf mak-kma, I might even need bad food."
He takes a tentative bite of the stick, chewing it for a moment, savoring the terran hydrocarbon. "shokma-ta, It could be military rations."

The car rockets down the road at a good (but safe) clip as She-Hulk drives into Jersey proper. "What kind of food do you eat? Plants? Meat?" she asks, trying to think of a good place to get some food. It will probably have to be some kind of fast food joint since Keld violates the no-shirt no-shoes policy of most restaurants.

Keld is keeping the communication bridge open by holding his left hand lightly on She-Hulk's shoulder, where he can pull off if there is any kind of attack, if an animal leaps out to try to devour them or a missile-rain comes. Not that there's any sign of missile-rain here. The ground shows no mottled scarring from the fist-sized hailstones; perhaps they don't have them. Along with his observations, comes a clear sense of enjoyment at moving so fast so close to the ground while in such a dangerous, uncontrolled, machine - there's no sign of any kind of nav-override system. A bit shocking, that their leaders allow them — because there's other cars on the road, with other non-green humans driving — and some of them appear to be suicidal, the way they ignore the consequences that will surely come to them if they mis-time, and are faced with the laws of motion and mass.
The same thrill, perhaps, that Keld enjoyed in combat.
Realization strikes. That was a question, Keld. He tries to recall the training-upload. "Zond," he answers. Yes. All of them. Any of them.

Jennifer looks rather amused at Keld's reaction to her driving. "We trust people to know what's best for them," she explains to him, picking up on his wonderment. "For the most part it works." With that she pulls into the McDonald's drivethrough and orders enough food to feed a small army, making sure that there's salads to go along with the burgers. Sure this isn't the healthiest meal to be found on this small blue-green planet but it's a damn sight better than MREs. "Here," she says opening one of the bags and pulling out a simple cheeseburger. "This is a cheese burger. See how you like it." She makes sure to unwrap it first, before handing it over, lest he try to eat the paper wrapping.

Keld ponders her words while they approach the landing strip for interstellar freight… wait, no, they don't have them here, but those arches look so much like a miniature landing marker. And the colorfully dressed training-android with its carefully chosen stimulating colors and the fight-or-flight facial paint, perhaps the Earthites are more sophisticated than the rumors they presented during the training. Which is gradually coming back to him. Right. That was going to be the first directive, set up an Elect base here on Earth, protect the Earthites (but they called them Terrans in the training) and secure that so-valuable sun, if it did in fact induce power-upgrades in Dakkamites.
… WHAT IS THAT WONDERFUL SMELL? Carefully taking the precious object from She-Hulk, Keld's train of thought derails utterly as it impacts his first bite of "cheeseburger".

Jennifer, for the most part, keeps her eye on the road, but every once in a while she glance over to see how her passenger is doing. When he's done with the cheeseburger she reaches into the bag and pulls out a box. "This, Keld, is a Big-Mac. I think you'll like it."

How is he EVER going to repay the debt-of-honor he owes to this woman? Keld's eyes are shining, immense, as she offers him a second, more complex arrangement of the food-design called "cheeseburger". The momentary contact when their fingers brush as he accepts the "big-mac" reveals a depth of gratitude and an acknowledgement of the profound honor of sharing, not just elegant-food, but a concatenation, what was that word, a "feast" … and so completely bio-available.
The "big-mac" is, as it turns out, indeed a step beyond the simpler "cheeseburger" with the addition of some sort of a flavored adhesive puree that was, itself, more flavor than he'd expected to experience before he reached Captain.
(Yes, Dakkam has been on War Rations for a very, very long time.)

Sometimes diplomacy between different races can be a long, and complicated affair. Sometimes you just need to show them a little hospitality. Score one for Ronald McDonald, intergalactic ambassador to the stomach, thinks She-Hulk as she drives her alien companion to the Avengers mansion to help get him settled in.

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