| Falling to Earth:|
The Arrival of Cir-El
|What: Jane Roe and William Argent intercept Cir-El as she appears in Earth's upper atmosphere--and have to help rid her of an unwanted passenger.|
The disturbance appears in orbital space, but not moving relative to the ground below. It is drawn to the Earth far below, clipping in passing a low orbiting satellite helping route internet signals. Computers below compensate, most users barely notice.
Cir-El is surprised to find herself alive, the last thing she remembers is jumping into the Timesmith's portal. She should have ceased to exist, instead she is here. It looks like she is at orbital height over southern New York. Well, the sunlight might make her tough enough to survive impact, but she will die of lack of oxygen before then probably.
Analysis confirmed, host unit will not survive without oxygen long enough to reach the ground. Begin reconfiguration of host unit to enhance probability of survival.
What have you done to me THIS time Cir-El? Isn't stealing my life enough for you?
Down on the ground, the howl of the small ATV as it dashed through the area disturbed the peace. On the back, in the box, an array of batteries provided enough energy for the laptop and radio antenna. Jane didn't own the machine, she just had rented it for cash. Half an hour ago, when the first telescope had reported that something was closing in on earth, she had aborted her analyses and went to the move. If it was a satellite, she might be able to salvage a few parts, and the GPS did tell her she was closing in upon the projected point of impact. Kicking the machine down a gear to climb a hill, she was so glad, that she had set up her laptop and the radio to fill the air with some static, as the last bits of radio and WiFi from the city faded.
Aboard The Seeker, William Argent--alias Dyson--was performing a fairly routine flight, testing out some of his latest modifications, when the alarm tone started to chime. Within seconds, a holographic arc flicked into existence before him, displaying the telemetry of a falling object. Issuing a series of rapid vocal commands, Dyson sets the Seeker to a parallel course on intercept trajectory. He doesn't want that thing, whatever it is, to hit his ship, but maybe he can catch it. This done, he goes to the craft's arsenal pod and deploys his armor, preparing to pop the hatch and step out into the midst of the action.
Outside the atmosphere, there is nothing to slow acceleration, the Disturbance follows an easily calculable arc. A military satellite is retasked to observe, detecting that the disturbance bears the form of a humanoid woman in black, with a blue cape.
What is that? I know you are there Virus, I feel you trying to overwrite my mind, turn it into an operating system for your cyberware, but I refuse to be a robot for you. I WILL NOT!
Difficulty encountered, this host was designed to be a carrier, not to be subject for transformation. Mental transformation will be required first.
WHAT! I will not be removed again. I WILL NOT!
Meanwhile Jane dashed through the hills towards the mountains, the machine leaving deep impressions into the dirt as the machine moved up another climb. "Come on, can't be too far... the mathematics tell me it should go down over there... two, three leagues away."
The Seeker's hatch slides smoothly open, and a large, silver-armored figure emerges, leaping through the air and heading directly into the path of the rapidly descending Cir-El. This armored figure, Dyson, does not attempt to catch her directly, but instead he raises his hands, and invisible telekinetic energies reach out toward her, attempting to slow her descent enough that she will be safe to approach.
And it becomes apparent: This is a person. And they seem to be alive. Dyson sends out a cautious empathic scan to see what can be sensed from this strange visitor...
Cir-El hits the upper atmosphere even as the Seeker starts to close in. The air around her body starts to glow with the friction heat of her passage.
Jane sees two streaks of light, one converging with the other.
Dyson senses three minds in conflict. One is clearly the mind of a human child, but is somehow incomplete. One, though similar to the first, seems to have been constructed, it is stronger and more complete than the first, but not entirely natural. The third mind has no empathic signature, it is a blank reaction mechanism, machine-like in it's precision.
Mia? I can tell you are there. We are not strong enough to fight Braniac alone, but together...
The human mind is damaged, weakened by the original imprint, we can destroy it first, then destroy the imprint mind.
I hate you Cir-El, but I hate him worse. Help, he is coming after me!
Reacting almost on instinct, Dyson reaches out telepathically to contact the two humanoid minds. Can you hear me? I can help you coordinate your thoughts against the invading intelligence. He gradually increases his telekinetic strength, seeking to slow the woman's fall further still so he can get her to safety. I should be able to get your body to safety, but you must free your mind to survive! He's admittedly acting on several assumptions, here, but the situation hardly allows for thoughtful contemplation.
Jane drives, her target only know to about 100 meters in radius, but finally she stops, turning to watch the sky. Somewhere up there should be the downing item... something getting red and white as it would be surrounded by fire...
Jane quickly spots the (now apparently single) glowing streak headed apparently strait towards her.
Dyson hears two voices. One pleading for help, the other giving him a warning.
Whoever you are stay back, I am carrying a nanotech virus, it needs to be dealt with, I can not let it infect this world. It is the source of the attack against us. Cir-El thinks, warning the unknown telepath.
Interference can not per permitted, preparing digital barrier against telepathic contact.
Help Me, cries Mia, I don't want to die again.
Pushing the machine behind a small array of fallen over trees on the lower edge of the hill, where it should be shielded from the impact close by, Jane settled herself for the coming impact. Opening the box, she glanced over the screen of the Laptop once, then shut it again to pull the box to the ground where she could easier work in cover. The Radio, the wifi... If her calculations where right, she should get connection to any tech soon. But for now, she could only try to spot it. But instead of taking analog binoculars, she faced a camera on a small tripod with a tele objective towards it. Zooming in, she used the monitor of the laptop to see.
Dyson does not attempt to get within direct contact distance of the plummeting woman, as the last thing he wants to do is have to purge a nanotech virus from his armor. However, he continues to apply telekinetic drag to slow her fall. He activates a control, and a panel on the suit slides open, deploying one of his oxygen canisters. This he floats over to Cir-El, unsure of whether she needs to breathe yet or not, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Machine intelligence, I advise against attempting direct astral conflict. You--Is it Mia? You must keep control of your mind! I can help you push him back, but as your counterpart says, we cannot risk infecting the Earth.
Jane's view upon the screen seems unbroken, but as the picture becomes clear, she looks back over her shoulder. Was that small dot above a ship?! the screen told her so, and then she looked back upon it. What could that thing be? If SHIELD or whatever was already sending in a snatch-team, then she might not get any of the loot she was out for, but maybe some photos would be worth a tad to some.
Jane can make out that there is clearly some kind of structure to the object, it has a delta shape that she can see on high zoom. Clearly artificial, though not a satellite.
Dyson realizes that the problem with the two living minds is they lack integrity. The gaps in each are creating angles of attack that the virus can exploit. He realizes he might have made a mistake, as it is the virus that acts to grab the oxygen, it clearly prefers the host survive. It might, however, be momentarily distracted.
Cir-El knows she is getting close to her oxygen limit, but she refuses to risk the planet....but watches in horror as her hand grasps the air tank against her will.
Oxygen detected, divert resources to ensure it is drawn in, survival is paramount. Get away from me, Virus. Get out of my mind.
Meanwhile Jane is far out of radio reach still... a bit under one and a half mile was the range of the cheap radio she had with her, the WiFi was just like 660 feet. But she took a few good photos, and a little Video stream. Maybe it would turn more clear as it came closer...
Dyson is startled that the virus seems to be the source of the survival instinct, but he seizes on the opportunity when it seems distracted. Hoping that he's slowed the woman's fall enough, he gives his full attention to telepathic contact. Reaching out through the Astral Plane, he begins to weave the ambient energies of the thought-realm into something almost tangible, a bridge of astral energy to begin connecting the two minds, to allow them to make more effective contact.
I should be able to catch you, he sends urgently, But you must take control! Use the thought constructs I'm building around you. Make them your own!
Jane realizes that the ship appears to be slowing down, though that does not seem to be extending its fall, it still seems to be headed almost directly for her.
Dyson senses a strange resonance from the direction they are headed, something there similar to the computer mind he is trying to reach. He also senses that the two minds seem hesitant to make contact.
Even if I am not controlled by the virus, it will still be in me. We must remove it, even if we die, Cir-El tells Mia and the stranger.
Survival probabilities enhanced, requirement to transform host diminished, preparing to return to transfer mode.
I hate you Cir-El, but I don't want to die.
Dyson keeps a safe distance away from the falling Cir-El as best he can--Cir-El is the name the machine-intelligence keeps using, after all, so it seems fitting enough. He activates a control on his armor, linking to the network between the Seeker and the the Sphere, hidden beneath Eagle Mountain. "Active scan," he tells his computer, "Determine threat level of invasive machine intelligence and calculate countermeasures." Meanwhile, he continues to offer what telepathic support he can to Cir-El and Mia. Their cooperation in containing the virus seems his best bet, for the moment.
As the sudden increase of signals rushes past Jane, she smirks and started to hammer upon the laptops keys - just to start to tear herself through the defenses of the mainframe of Eagle mountain, so she could get in control of that satellite dish. Standard protocols to log in as a guest user, then just setting up a bypass to mirror the data... Wait, was that an information about a threat level evaluation? Was that up there a computer dropping? Judging from the speed, it would most likely get destroyed, so Jane sighed and relaxed against the ATV's wheel, starting to slip into the cyber realm. The next moment, she hijacked a signal towards that mainframe, armed only with a handful of hacking programs to crack firewalls. Earthly firewalls.
Jane jumps from her laptop to the sphere, and from the sphere to the Seeker. She senses the presence of an incredibly advanced computer mind in space near the ship, but she also senses it is mostly dormant, not having enough computer powr for full activity.
The withdrawal of the opposing computer mind causes the two human minds to suddenly flow together across the bridges Dyson had created. There is great confusion within the suddenly unified mind as pieces that had been sundered regain their place...and pieces that had been added suddenly try to find a way to fit into the whole.
There is immense confusion as Cir-El and Mia find themselves united, but not quite sure who they are.
There is an outside probe detected, determining threat level.
The Sphere's computer contacts Dyson via his communication link: Alert: External infiltration attempt detected. Query: Divert efforts to counter?
"No," Dyson says, "We'll deal with that later. Focus full resources on threat assessment and containment."
Acknowledged, says the computer's voice. Communications signal has been compromised. Signal is no longer secure. Threat assessment: Full danger level unknown. Subject registers as highly adaptive machine intelligence, probable replication via nano-virus. Recommendation: Purge all physical traces to avoid contamination.
Dyson's voice takes on a coarser edge as he replies, "Not an option. That's a living person. Prepare a focused EM pulse. If we can disable the nano-bots long enough, we may be able to destroy them without harming the host."
And then he senses the merger of the two minds. Mia? Cir-El? Are you... all right?
Mia...Kent, Cir-El is my Kryptonian name, Mia Kent is my legal name, nobody knows dad is Superman, well not many anyway... Dyson senses the mind struggling to form a unified history and personality. They have a lot in common, of course, the memories that were stolen to create Cir-El were originally Mia's. Many of the originals are so heavily altered they may never be recovered, but they may integrate to a whole mind.
Riding piggyback and on a hardly reliable connection - any moment they could just shut it down and kick her out and possibly into coma - Jane did her best to try to assess the surface of that 'alien' computer. That it was advanced, she knew. That it was an AI intending to eat the world, she didn't. But the curiosity of a hacker drove her, and she started to gently probe the defensive emplacements, tossing it a few senseless bits of not fully compiled machine code, while she was working on a proper key to get inside. Maybe one, two, or rather three minutes passed until she had a rough key, and she tried it - she was just a file made out of 0 and 1 in here, but a one that had a conscious, creative thinking... And a soul rooted on the place where her body lay.
Jane can sense the alien computer, a mind whose computing power is dispersed over millions of self replicating nanites. And that, she can tell, is just barely enough to perform minimal functioning. It would take hundreds, thousands, even millions of times as many nanites for the system to come fully on line.
Welcome back to Earth, Mia, Dyson sends, and he files away that "possibly Superman's daughter" detail for later. It's possible she's delusional, possible she's telling the truth, and it's also possible that she's... not from around here. That does tend to happen sometimes.
EM pulse is prepared, the computer reports. Release primed for when subject reaches target zone.
"Stand by," Dyson answers. "She's not hitting yet, and I want her mind intact when she does."
Oblivious to the EM threat, Jane prodded and probed the minimal frame of alien nano computer network.. Was that a Borg with tons of Nano-probes? Hell yea, she wanted to get some info from those. Assaulting the barely serviceable network on a base that was mere machine code, she tried to decipher how it was programmed, only so she could make that clock stall a moment. And if she could stop it, she could try to play with it. If that was a borg... She would have her very own 7 of 9! Or was that Icheb dropping there? In any case, it would be very interesting to try to learn about that alien tech.
Having slowed the fall early, at the edge of the atmosphere, Dyson has let the atmosphere do most of the later slowing. If Cir-El really does have any relation to Superman, she should survive impact at this speed. Right now, he is more interested in buying extra time for her mind to reintigrate.
It seems clear the basic program has to be hardwired into the nanites, the machine language has to be in a molecular-level code, it is the only thing dense enough to be that small. The metaprogram, however,is dispersed over the network, king of like cloud storage. It is amazingly complex, the nanites in this one form probably contain more information than the internet.
The mind of Cir-El is still a bit shaky, but one thing is clear, The YES! Virus, has it been stopped? We can not let Earth become a new Brainiac world.
Analysis, two separate signals detected, one overlaid upon the other. Signal one is mechanical, of level 8 or less. Signal two is organic in origin, if possibly find and convert to a suitable host.
Dyson continues to offer a bit of help slowing Cir-El's fall as she gradually seems to adapt to her new situation--and then he detects another mind, a strange mind. It's similar to the machine-intelligence, somehow, yet also quite different. Casting his thoughts toward the as-yet-unidentified presence of Jane, he sends, Whomever you are, unless you're able to withstand invasive viral nanotechnology, you may wish to remain clear.
Whatever the strange mental presence is, Dyson cannot seem to get its attention. So instead, he shifts gears. "All right," he says to the computer, "Prepare a containment field. Focus the EM pulse inside it. That should disable the nanites at least temporarily." He activates another series of subroutines in his onboard computer. "Then, I'll have to reprogram them."
Acknowledged. Containment field and electromagnetic pulse standing by.
This done, Dyson extends his hands and telekinesis once more, seeking to guide Cir-El safely down to the target zone.
The nano-net computer realizes the possibility that the computer probe eminates from a device that can possibly damage it, being a significantly higher technology than they world it was designed to invade. It attempts to download a virus into the probe to disable any effective attacks...only to find the virus blocked by the mind of Jane Doe.
Dyson detects that Jane is occupied in the equivalent of psychic combat with the alien computer and can not answer. He also senses that Cir-El is integrating into a solid, but fragile, mental state, kind of like a diamond.
Cir-El is reliving her past, finding her mental and emotional footing in the shifting landscape of her mind
Slowed down to a reasonable velocity, the only problem is removing the human before she can be infected.
With the "trap" set, Dyson focuses his efforts on bringing Cir-El down into the EMP's blast radius, where the nano-bots can be contained.
Above, The Seeker engages its active stealth mode, trigger by remote control, and vanishes from view.
Cir-El can hear the heartbeat of Jane, and the faint sounds of her electronic devices. She is fairly certain the man in armor is trying to contain the virus, and she warns him, "That woman is pretty close, make sure she is out of range."
Jane finds herself fully occupied with preventing the alien network from taking over the advanced technologies on the ship and in its nearby base.
Dyson thinks the trap is ready, as long as he can keep anyone from being infected, he can probably deal with the results.
Nodding, Dyson gently guides Cir-El into the designated field--even as he moves Jane's body and her vehicle farther away from the site. As Cir-El touches down, the containment field activates, and then the ground bursts open as a small pod emerges, bursting open to burn itself out as it releases the electromagnetic pulse. Fortunately, the containment field is designed to withstand such a blast.
Dyson stands by, watching, and waits to see the result before he attempts the next phase. He takes a small computer from his belt, an isolated portable system that cannot be networked--just in case of infection in situations like this one.
Jane falls to the ground as the tension of countering the attacks by the nano-net cease. She can not tell if the net is disabled long term, or is merely rebooting, but for the moment it is down.
A normal person would be fried by the electromagnetic pulse at this short a range, but to Cir-El is is more like grabbing an electric cord and pulling it from the socket, a brief jolt that stiffens the muscles, then done.
The Sphere analyzes and then says, "The system is going to have to rebuild itself from permanent storage, that will give us some time to insert our own programing."
Nodding, Dyson deploys a cable with exposed lead wires from the portable computer. He feeds this carefully through a small port that opens in the containment field, which seals itself around the cable. "If you can," Dyson says in an even tone, "Take hold of those wires. I need to make direct contact with your system, since wireless networking seems ill-advised at the moment."
Cir-El grasps the leads, one in each hand. She has already risked her life to be rid of this virus, what is an extra time?
Dyson says nothing further, and his armored form betrays no outward sign save the slight tapping of his gauntlet's fingertips on the console as he calls up software to reprogram and neutralize the nanites within Cir-El. Within a few seconds, the signal is being transmitted, instructions sent using her own body as a transmitter to send self-destruct instructions to the nano-probes within her.
Still silent, Dyson watches his scanners for the results.
It takes some time, the nano-net is moire advanced technology than the Sphere has encountered, but while it is vulnerable it can be defeated. Eventually Dyson is informed that it is working and a sign flashes saying nanite purge 1% complete, and begins counting higher. After what seems like a very long time it says Purge 100% complete, testing completion. Finally, it says, "No further nanites detected.
Nodding to this, Dyson looks up. "Cir-El, can you hear me? I'm showing that we've purged the nanites from your system. I would like you to report to STAR Labs, who offer medical support for metahumans. I'll call ahead and inform them that you're coming and that they should observe isolation protocols. They will probably want to keep you overnight for observation, but they'll be able to make certain you're all right. Does this sound acceptable to you?" He casts a light empathic scan as he asks, wanting to be sure her answer is truthful.
Cir-El comments, "STAR Labs? I remember when they tested me to see of I was genetically related to Superman. They missed the virus then, but they were not looking for it. Knowing what to look for should make all the difference."
That, he can tell, is a real memory, though the world that STAR Labs was in was different.
Canting his helmeted head slightly to one side, Dyson says, "I see. Well, I'll be certain to inform them what to expect. They have the necessary technology, especially if forewarned." He issues a silent command, and the containment field drops. "Once again, welcome back to Earth, Cir-El. I am William Argent, sometimes called 'Dyson.' If you are in need of help again in the future, please contact me." A beat, and he adds, "I'm in the phone book."
Cir-El exits the sphere and stands upon the Mountain in the Sunlight for a long moment before jumping off. After another couple of leaps, including one where she did three forward flips before landing, she started running, pausing a moment to check no one was nearby to be hurt before breaking the sound barrier. It seems she is using the trip to make sure that her physical abilities are not impaired, but as she is headed in the general direction of Metropolis, she should be there in about ten minutes...a bit longer if she slows back to subsonic when she gets to more heavily populated areas.
Dyson watches her go, remarking to himself, "Interesting. I thought they could all fly." He then turns and lifts into the air, floating along toward a certain waterfall on the side of the mountain. "Sphere," he instructs, "deploy servitors to scrub the area, and prepare a full sweep and cleanse for the interior. I don't want even a single nanite to survive." Then, as his presently invisible craft sails along after him, Dyson plunges through the waterfall and vanishes into the underground.
Cir-El arrives at STAR Labs and sets about explaining who she is. Who she REALLY is...not who she remembers being. That is the hardest part, telling a truth that feels like a lie. Of course, there are limits, she does not exactly know who she is, but she can explain WHAT she is. A biological construct used to smuggle in a terrifying plague, one who needs to be tested to be sure the plague is gone for goo.
The moment the Containment field had activated Jane was taken by surprise. The sudden electric field that held the nanites captured, also broke the connection between her and them, forcing her into a jackout. The digital world around her went black while in the real a trickle of red lifeblood ran down from her nose, smearing her unconscious face. Time would heal that, allow her to regain consciousness - but at least she was not hit by the EMP she had known nothing about.