A Fungus Among Us

August 06, 2015:

A few meteors from a spectacular meteor shower get through, and strike on an island near NYC. Various heroes respond to the extraterrestrial biohazard that develops.

Hart Island

Hart's Island at the western end of Long Island Sound is technically in New York City. On that island there are over a hundred acres of graves. Burials began here during the American Civil War, and turned to mass graves for the poor, and forgotten. The Potter's Field here is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world with countless unknown, indigent, and lost souls buried by the thousands. Indeed, more than one million corpses lie in these fields- unknown, and barely marked.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Hart's Island at the western end of Long Island Sound is technically in New York City. On that island there are over a hundred acres of graves. Burials began here during the American Civil War, and turned to mass graves for the poor, and forgotten. The Potter's Field here is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world with countless unknown, indigent, and lost souls buried by the thousands. Indeed, more than one million corpses lie in these fields- unknown, and barely marked.

Above the Earth, however, something is breaking through the atmosphere. A meteor shower- one of many that happen throughout the year. Many watch as they see balls of fire burn up on entry- but one. One potmarked, ancient thing falls and comes crashing down. The space rock crashes right into Hart's Island's Potter's field, breaking apart as it comes down- crashing into those unmarked graves… Luckily, the Island is uninhabited…


It always happens when she goes to get coffee. Fairchild gets stuck working the swing shift, intern on call, and inevitably, someone wants something from Starbucks. The orders are dutifully written down and, wearing her lab coat and carrying a little daypack, she starts towards the company trucks, which are the only things big enough to carry her weight. At least she's not having to drive her beat up little VW around the city.

Midway back from Starbucks, drinks precariously balanced on the seat, she gets a text, diverting her across Long Island towards the bay. "I… damnit," she sighs, wearily. She texts her boss' boss a 'yessir' and then, one hand on the wheel and the other on her phone, informs her section boss the coffee will be late.

And then the first meteor starts to fall, and Caitlin deletes 'late' with her signature 'hero stuff- I'll be in tomorrow morning', abbreviated to 'HSBBTM'. An all too familiar text.

Pulling the truck off on the 'safe' side of the bridge leading to the island, she parks it, locks it, and then for good measure, takes her lab coat off and throws it in as well. Wearing blocky cargo shorts and a hoodie, she's perhaps a bit casually dressed, but she grabs her day bag in one hand and starts running along the bridge's walkway towards the impact site. Seeing no cars, she looks over her shoulder a bit guiltily, then really opens her strides up, crossing the long bridge in the span of a few seconds and arriving on the scene moments later.

"Hello?" she calls, over the crackle of sizzling meteorite. "Anyone out here?" she inquires, getting her phone out and taking a video of the area as she walks in.


Meteor showers are pretty much ho-hum. No big deal. No one usually worries about them. Except, of course, if they are positioned with enough pass and the right trajectory to actually potentially penetrate the atmosphere and make landfall near any populated areas. Who keeps watch for such things. Well, there are divisions of various space agencies who do this constantly.

And then there are off the books groups who do so with megasupercomputers. Because they're watching for the Bad Stuff (tm).

Somewhere in Metropolis, a smartphone rings, despite being in DnD mode. Grousing, grumbling, a hand shoots out and grabs the phone … regretful that she's just too controlled to have simply crushed it to scrap while doing so. "Yes?" Oh, crap. "Alright, alright. I'm moving. Get me that flight clearance ASAP. I'll be hitting the corridor in ten minutes."

Carol Danvers stumbles out of bed and heads towards the balcony doors of her condominimum in one of the high-rise towers of downtown Metropolis, even as whatever sleepwear she was wearing disappears in a shimmer of golden light, replaced by the blue and red with gold highlights of the Captain Marvel uniform. The most unfair part? Even her hair fixes up when she does this.

Eight minutes after the call ended, a text comes in. Twelve seconds after that, a sonic boom erupts off the coast, JUST far enough out that no one loses any windows.

Said sonic boom erupts off New York Harbor about six minutes later, as Captain Marvel finally decelerates, a golden corruscating streak over the water, rapidly approaching the area and following in the streaks of those fireballs. Someone out there has really, REALLY good predictive algorithms in their tracking software. And the ability to get supersonic flight clearances on short order. They also know how to blackmail Carol Danvers out of bed at one-fifty-two in the morning.

Captain Marvel buzzes over the island, then tracks after one of the larger rocks coming down, getting a visual on it and haring in close for a reading of its electromagnetic spectrum.


So Jamie is out doing whatever it is that Jamie does at night when he doesn't have a case! Okay really he was doing the bread and butter of the PI business, taking pictures of a cheating husband. A few pictures here, just enough for a divorce lawyer to kill the guy in court of course. Once that was done the master of the dupes started to head back home towards Mutant Town, cause Mutant Town is awesome dang it!

But then on the way home, he sees the meteor crashing towards the ground, and damns to himself. The guy has to go out and check to make sure no one was hurt. Hey no one is supposed to be on the island, but dang a cemetery is a perfect place for kids having some parties.

Jamie stomps his foot a few times and makes a couple of dupes. And well starts heading out towards the island. Man the things Jamie will do just cause he needs to do stuff. Anyone else would just walk on home, but nooooo he's gotta try and be heroic.


Kara received a call from The Watchtower about the meteor shower that was occurring and the potential dangers. She catches sight of Captain Marvel but her attention was more directed on the falling asteroids from space; using her x-ray vision and others senses to try and see what she was dealing with.

Her eyes are already glowing red as she starts counting the meteors and figuring out the most efficient way to begin lasering them to prevent damage to the city.


J'onn J'onzz, The Martian Manhunter- had been waiting for this. The time was right, and no longer were there Martians to protect Earth from the once every five-thousand year event that just so happened to fall on this August night at 2 in the morning. The majority of the meteors had broken up in the atmosphere- with the help of an invisible J'onn J'onzz pushing them to fall as needed. A couple though, it seems, he missed. The Green Skinned man from Mars shoots through the atmosphere towards Hart Island's Potter's Field.

The space rocks themselves seem to pulse and glow as they sit in their trenches, the limbs of long buried and more fresh corpses strewn around in the crater they've created. The 'rocks' continue to break apart, seeming to burrow into the soil as they pulse and writhe in place.

To Kara's X-Ray vision, the space rocks don't seem to have any particularly special something about them- they're not wholly inorganic, that much is easily gleaned.

Captain Marvel's electromagnetic scan brings up much the same information- Organic and Inorganic material mixed together, pulsing with new life as it cracks open and burrows towards the mix of shattered corpses.

Jamie's travel to the island would be mostly uneventful. Its clear, though, others have seen the rock land not far from New York City. Luckily, Harts Island is not easily accessed, as it sits under the purview of the Department of Corrections and isn't open to regular visitation. The Bridge can be easily crossed, however, if someone is willing to ignore the signage there.

Caitlin, however, is first on the scene. She witnesses for herself as *something* from inside those rocks begins to grow and attach to the multitude of corpses long buried on the almost forgotten-in-plain-sight island. Whatever it is, it seems to be growing on those bones and bodies almost like some sort of fungus, or fast-acting disease might.


"Holy myconid men," Caitlin mutters to herself, taking a half step back. "This city is so freaking weird." She steps fairly close to the growing necrospores, more or less fearlessly; after an incident at a biology lab involving some badly timed sneezing powder and a jar of pathogen, she hadn't found anything that could really make her sick.

She continues feeding video from her phone, and taps a few buttons to start livestreaming the feed to a certain blonde chemist who might find it interesting. She absently brushes her hair back from her mouth where it catches on her lip, and then casts about for a convenient tree branch. The cratered gap in the ground gets a few cautious prods and she nudges the fungal growth with the tip of the prodding implement, curiousity overrriding caution.


Captain Marvel lifts a hand to tap her earpiece, as she follows the last of the meteors on their approach to slamming into the island. "They are a bit odd. Organic and inorganic materials. Nothing outside the safety perimeter. Nothing coming down anywhere but the island. I'm going in for a sample now." Then she whips around, still glowing, salutes towards the Kryptonian beauty and heads for … well, isn't that interesting. Tall, bodacious and redheaded. If she's no mistaken ….

"Fairchild, that you?" Captain Marvel inquires, as she comes floating down behind and above the redhead, examining the inching ickiness in the hole. "You be careful. That stuff looks curious. And I mean it looks like it's curious about anything and everything around it." That said, Cap re-opens her call by turning off mute. "Yeah … you may want to put up a quarantine on the island. Definitely some surviving organic material, and it seems to be active enough to be engaging with the corpses in the area. You still need that sample?"


As Jamie walks over the bridge towards the spot the meteor crashed at he does start to think that dang it he needs to get himself a motorcycle or something. He can totally dupe a motorcycle, or well he thinks so, he never tried before. But hey, now is not the right time to start wondering about better transportation.

However Jamie was able to get to the island with some decent time, yay for his own two feet. He starts to look around, "So where are the aliens, this is usually what happens in the movies." Either Aliens or someone just got some super powers or something like that.


Kara notices the man heading towards Harry Potter's field and wishes she had some way to communicate with the Manhunger because he always knew what was going on. She sighed just a little bit as she detected the organic and inorganic materials with her X-Ray vision.

She offers a salute back towards Captain Marvel and speeds after the stunning tall blonde woman to see what is going on, calling after her, "Do you know what's going on? Are they good or bad?"

A wave was offered to Fairchild and Madrox.


The Martian Manhunter does something odd- but undoubtedly necessary: He crashes right into the single bridge that accesses the Island- just as Jamie crosses. The old road crashes into the water, as the Manhunter from Mars simply wrecks the bridge completely. He'll appear not far from the others in short order, silent as he stares at whatever extra-terrestrial threat has come to Earth. "About every five thousand years, an extra-solar planet passes through the Kuiper Belt. As its struck by Kuiper Belt objects it throws off masses of itself. The planet itself is a deep-space fungal colony, unique and quite beautiful in its own way. However, the fungal colony requires heat to send out spores- the friction of the collisions creates ample heat for it to regenerate itself on the planet's surface. Some collisions, however, are more… energetic. They send out things like this. In times long past, my people ensured the inhabited planets of our solar system were kept safe from this hazard." he states simply as he looks at the spreading fungus, infecting the earth. "It won't leave this island, as long as there is water to stop it. It reacts rather violently to water due to an unusually high sulpher content in its cells. We must contain the outbreak…." And the reason why becomes very clear, very quickly.

From craters a mass begins to form- corpses knitting together as if part of a single body. The pulsing 'creature' seems to be slowly taking on the form of those long dead, bones rearranging as they come together- held by a thick, black, oozing skin. The musty smell is not unlike mildew, mixed with the rot of ancient corpses. Slowly, the 'creature' rises from its grave- still forming as it makes a sick sound- a low gurgle as it spits a black-tarrish globe towards the ground where the heroes group. "Move!" J'onn shouts, "Do not get it hot.. We'll need a lot of water, the whole island has to be soaked. Its spreading underground along the grave-channels!"


"ohmygodit'sCaptainMarvel," Caitlin says in a breathless whisper, eyes going big as dinner plates. Totally not hero worshipping at all, which is why she lets it all out along a little 'eee!' of excitement. Completely under her breath and hopefully disguised under the rush of wind.

"Oh, uh, yes, hey, Captain," Caitlin says aloud, feigning professional indifference when the blonde superheroine hovers near. Realizing she's actively poking at a strange foreign entity with a stick, she recognizes that discretion is the better part of valor- and not wanting to get eaten by a fungus in front of Carol, she backs away a prudent few paces.

"I was across the island when I saw the touchdown. It's growing- fast," she says. Her head twists around when J'onn smashes the bridge, surprise and perplexity furrowing her brow. Then she starts when he manifests from nowhere.

"It's the Martian Manhunter!" she gapes. She visibly forces herself not to start snapping pictures of the duo. "Keep it together, Cait," she mutters to herself, trying to act as profesional as Carol and J'onn.

She hears him out and then nods enthusiastically. "Right! Uh… water drains. I think I saw some old sewer mains- I can break into them from the side," she reasons, thinking aloud, "and then if … umm…" she brings up her cell phone and starts plugging numbers into a calculator. "Formula for… hydraulics…"

"If I open up a hole three feet wide into the drains, and someone can force water into it at round five hundred PSI, I think I can lift the baywater up to the top of the island!"

She looks shocked that she just told J'onn and Carol precisely /how/ they were gonna save the island. "Er… if… you don't have a plan, already," she adds, lamely.

"I'm… just … yeah. Be back!" She sprints off towards the island's rocky shores and dives into the water, and the ground starts resonating with the sound of someone digging enthusiastically into the sidewall.


And suddenly … there is no bridge. Holy Hannah.

Captain Marvel nods to Caitlin and is just about getting ready to blast away at the fungus among us, when the Manhunter appears, and delivers that useful if slightly belated info dump. Annnd … the Captain puts her glowing mitts down. "OK. No blasting, Got it. Water … " Carol looks around. There's plenty of damned water around here. What she needs is a way to deliver it.

Caitlin offers a solution, and Carol shrugs. "Well, OK. I can probably fly through the water fast enough to create a vortex to shove the water through at a high enough pressure." Yeah. She's so going to need a shower after this. Flying through the waters of New York Harbor. Ugh! The damned East River opens into this, for pity's sake!

"I'll make a hurricane." Kara stated with utter seriousness. It might have seemed like an odd thing to say, since when could Kryptonians control the weather?

"If any of you need a hand just call out my name and I'll do what I can." She seemed super hopeful about all of this, like nothing could go wrong.

She flew off away from the island and out of sight…..

The Jamies, there are about 4 of them manage to make it to the group, "So uhm yeah. I'll let the gods among men, do stuff. And I can stand around to the thing to try and keep it contained?" Okay really he's one guy that becomes many normal guys. He has nothing compared to what these people can do, and he's kinda lost amongst the current company.

"Hey if we had a bucket, I could form a bucket brigade, will that be good?" Yup, totally at a lost for what he can do against this thing.


J'onn, of course, moves from where the black 'gunk' had been fired at the group- his eyes glowing as he strikes one of the now grown arms with a concussive blast. "Kara!" J'onn shouts, "A hurricane will cause massive damage to New York City!" he says, as the Kryptonian flies off, shaking his head. "That girl." he mumbles to himself, "You will help me keep the creature contained while the others implement the plan! You and I have nothing to fear from its spores." Then, J'onn looks back as Caitlin offers a solution- he nods, "Good." he then looks towards Captain Marvel. "You work with the young woman implementing her plan, then. I'll work with Kara to keep the creature's attention." J'onn looks towards Madrox, "It reacts violently to water. It will begin to sprout fruiting bodies near the shore- if you can hose those down as they appear you'll be helping to contain its spread to the city. An invaluable service." he explains, before he flies right at the creature to get its attention- a rapidly expanding and growing fist to hit its 'head'. SPLUT! Its not exactly solid.

Caitlin continues implementing her part of the plan, doing whatever it is Caitlins do best.


"Uhm. Hurricane? That doesn't … damnit. She's already gone." Carol offers. Kara is just way, way, way too fast for Carol to stop. Maybe the big green guy can manage? She sure as heck hopes so. "Bucket brigade sounds like a good idea to me." the Captain offers the Jamies before she flies off to do as suggested and ordered: flying through a harbor of water nearly akin to a sewer, trying to fly fast enough to create a vortex to force more water through the water mains on the island and up the pressure to Caitlin's specifications.

Yeah. Whoever called Carol earlier? Not getting their sample of THIS stuff. No. Sorry.


Jamie heads off to fight the creature at the shore line, go him he's doing something! Of course, it seems the creature has some intelligence, and well when it seems Jamie approaching the water with a bucket, he managed to find on somewhere. Don't ask, he's not gonna tell. (Okay he totally MacGuyvered that shit, one of his dupes took a class on how to make buckets. It was a freaking slow month for learning, okay?). But once he gets to the water, one of the things that sprouted up manages to swipe at Jamie and all of his dupes, taking the poor guy out of the fight. His last thought is that he shoulda sent the fast flying dame to get him a super soaker.


Kara isn't really making a full blown hurricane, she's just creating counter-acting gusts of air and creating a small storm front around the island using her super breath to change air currents and help move in clouds.

It's not really a hurricane, but pretty soon the gigantic beast thing finds itself being blown by Kara with hurricane force winds filled with gouts of rain.


"Kara!" J'onn shouts again, "We need to contain the main body! If you must create wind, keep it localized to the island, otherwise spores may escape!" J'onn shouts again, his voice booming as his form begins to grow and he begins to wrestle with the giant semi-intelligent fungal body. "Containment is the key, here!"

Still, that rain clearly causes a reaction. An explosive one, at that. The Sulphur in the creature's body reacts violently- BOOM! It roars in what could be considered pain. The fruiting bodies on the island begin to explode as well, tossing dirt and body parts into the air on the Potter's Field- elsewhere simply dirt. Still, the deep soil isn't soaked by the sudden, hard rain- its running off, but helping to keep the creature more contained. It grows back quickly, however, when it gets a dry moment. J'onn flinches as the major body begins to explode around him. The rain helps to dampen fires that are springing up. However, the resulting sulphuric acid bubbles and spits on the green giant's flesh.

Carol's quick flying is quickly rising the pressure in Caitlin's system of tunnels, helping to soak the ground of the historic, and still in use island. There will be need of hazmat cleanup crews, more than likely. No one said fighting space-monsters was easy, or clean.

More explosions begin to rock the island as the underground deposits are inundated by rapidly rising water.


Caitlin gags, down in the muck- it's not smelling like roses twenty feet under the island, either, and she's barely able to get through the crush of tiny flood drains that probably weren't even meant to accomodate a skinny Depression-era teenager, let alone the 300+ pound Amazon.

Still, after her first ingress into the sewers and a quick bit of orientation, she'd found what she was looking for- an old sub-level outlet that had been blocked off decades prior. She punches out a long swathe through the tunnels, using the concrete passages and making holes to connect them. Finally satisfied that most of them are blocked off- save for the one at the top- she grabs the lugs holding the massive iron plate on the outlet and twists them off with sharp, rusty *snaps*. One, two, six… water starts gushing around the edge of the plate. She grabs it and rips the entire five-hundred-plus-pound cover away, and before the water can swamp her, dashes off as fast as the tight space permits, standing under the hole leading up into the graveyard itself.

"C'mon, Captain Marvel," she mutters under her breath, feeling the cold shock of the water drench her shorts and waiting for the surging pressure of Carol's work to reach a critical mass.

When it does, the water- and Caitlin- go geyersing skywards in a *WHOOSH* of water and a "Whahahaahah!" of screaming postgrad, the muck-smeared redhead pinwheeling her arms and flailing as the water jets easily fifty feet in the air at hundreds of gallons per minute.


So. Damned. Filthy. Whose crazy idea was this? Carol cannot help but keep asking herself that, even as she is pushing harder and harder, trying to pick up speed while immersed in water. This is /not/ the high-flying fighter-jock's usual medium at all, and her golden light is little more than a flicker in the watery darkness. But the vortex she has created does indeed push incredible volumes of water at high rates of speed and astounding pressures through the mains into the island's underground systems … and past Caitlin.

HAZMAT crews. Blue scrubs. Scruffy elasticized booties. Carol is so going to give her contact a serious what-for after this is over. Only the assurance that the biting base of the decontamination showers slicing through the muck and mire of all the gunk coating her skin is going to make any of this worth it. That and the knowledge they saved New York. Again.

Oh, crap. And she has to be up in just three hours for her morning run. Life is so not fair.


As J'onn instructs, Kara keeps the winds localized to the island; her intent was on using it to batter the creature senseless rather than risk some kind of personal exposure to the spores and become an alien zombie.

"Are you sure it's not weak to fire Martian Manhunter? I could probably incinerate it really quickly." She almost seems hopeful that it would work. Too hopeful.


BOOSH! The sudden rush of water from below, mixed with the rain from above more than do the trick. A unique bit of national history begins to sizzle as the Sulphur in the creature's body is converted to an acidic compound. Explosions rock the island, sending gooey rotting flesh skyward- all of which mixes with the acid. A real, true mess. The scent itself burns the nose.

The Martian Manhunter stands as his skin seems to sizzle once the plan has come together completely, and worked really quite well. His form shifts, and all the goop on him seems to simply fall to the ground through him. The benefits of being able to lower one's density. "Fire would make it grow. It would make it grow so large, so quick that this entire planet would be engulfed." J'onn replies simply to Kara. "Still, you did good work." he admits to the Kryptonian, "You all did. Someone, however, will need to bring that other gentleman to the hospital. He's suffered a concussion and acid burns."

J'onn looks towards the broken bridge, then back to the corpses. He's quiet, just staring at the human dead that have managed to survive the explosions and the acid. "You all did good work." he states simply, "Now it is time to allow cleanup, and healing of the land."

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