Enough is Enough

November 01, 2015:

Captain Marvel has had enough of waiting. Caitlin Fairchild is missing, as are others of the League. And Carol is going after them, since no one else is ready for it.

Apokolips

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Long days since Caitlin had fallen through the portal and landed on the hellscape that is Apokalips. Though she's immensely tough and strong, even superheroes need food and water, and both of those are few and far between on this planetoid.

Still, some luck had presented itself. An accumulation of brackish moisture water after a sudden cold snap had presented Caitlin with a few meager sips of water, and some fungus growing on the underside of a metal slab had proven to be vaguely edible (though in all likelihood, fatal to someone not possessed of her iron constitution).

Dodging ocassional patrols, shivering through cold nights and scorching days, Caitlin had just continued to trudge in as best she could guess was away from the standing military forces, searching for… something. Anything.

And in the late evening, she looked skywards, searching for some sign- some hope- that perhaps someone was looking for her, too.


Carol Danvers has been as patient as she can be. For days, she continued doing all of the heroic things that needed doing. She responded to requests by the JLA to handle situations that arose. Captain Marvel has done everything she can, while waiting for the rest of the Universe to get on board and get out of her damned way.

But the rest of the Universe hasn't been cooperating.

The JLA haven't been in touch about further planning for the rescue mission. No further intel has been forthcoming. And weeks have passed without a word back from her off-world contacts about an available ship. The proud ex-USAF fighter pilot has been getting crankier and crankier as time as dragged on.

Carol does not do well being forced to let down someone hoping, praying, and waiting for her help.

That's why when she finally gets word back from her allies, she meets them in orbit and doesn't wait for anyone else. Oh, she leaves word, letting Kate know that she's heading off-world. She lets her bosses at the Planet know that she's going to be out of town. She lets her lawyers know to prepare for the possibility of her lack of return. She has told them to process her disappearance as her death, should she fail to return in six months.

Carol has spent days, at this point, cooped up in the light frigate the Starjammers came up with for this mission. She has bitched and moaned almost every hour of every day about its lack of amenities, its lack of space, and most especially its lack of heavy firepower. She has some idea of how damned dangerous Apokolips is, and she's rather furious that they're going to be so out-gunned when they arrive. Of course the captain of the ship has informed her in no uncertain terms that he doesn't give a Tinker's damn how good a friend she may be to the Starjammers, he is NOT going to get his ship destroyed and his crew killed for her suicide mission.

The only reason Carol hasn't either given up, or punched the man's head off is the fact that nestled inside the cargo bay is a top of the line Shi'ar cloakfighter. It is, in fact, better armed and armored than the light frigate that is carrying it. Faster, too, though its FTL systems are not nearly as strong. But it has two huge advantages, and both will come in handy: First, it has a cloaking device, which should enable it to penetrate the defenses of the hellplanet unnoticed, or so they are hoping. And secondly, it is a transatmospheric fighter, as capable of high-speed flight and maneuverability in atmosphere as it is in space.

And so it is that Carol is sitting in the cockpit, righting pre-flight prep as the frigate nears its FTL jump coordinates, ready to leap out into near-Apokoliptan space and deposite the fighter, before spinning up those engines and jumping back out. It's going to be a bumpy ride.


Caitlin is weary and tired, but that dogged survivor's sense keeps her going even when she's taking a few moments to rest her bones. She's always looking up— making measurements with the crude semblance of a sextant she'd bent out of scrap, marking a route of sorts with a grime-covered probe and a thin sheet of battered metal. Almost nothing, almost worthless… but better than having empty pockets.

"Note to self," Caitlin mutters. "Next uniform. Pockets." She looks down at her leotard, which thankfully is more intact than usual.

"Note to self— next uniform, something with a liner."

Sitting, knees pulled up to her chest, she turns the sheet over and writes on it. It's smudged with layer upon layer of grime, from the notes of previous days, erased again and again. An improvised dry-erase board. Caitlin patiently re-writes her previous notes, from memory, and then adds her observations of the day's travel to it. "Found rations.. three days ago." She glances at the worn sack next to her, an improvised haversack with her meager supplies in it. "Water, yesterday. Gotta set up a dewcatcher again, tonight," she remarks, muttering to herself. She's a muttering sort of person.

A flicker of light catches her attention and she shrinks back into cover, peering overhead. Enemy fliers have crossed over her position several times during her trek, but she'd always managed to avoid them. The sullen yellow gleam, though, elicits a frown. It's brief, a quick popping that emerges from nowhere and vanishes just as quickly as if obscured by an invisible cloud.

"That's much too fast," she murmurs, trying to gauge the approach. "And the engine colors are wrong. The angle… no, I saw the last two squads going… the other direction," she mumbles, looking to the horizon. "There's gotta be a base, there. So why… would there be…"

Caitlin scrambles to her feet with dawning excitement and apprehension, cramming her supplies into the knapsack, and breaks into a mad dash. Her path is a beeline towards the tallest structure she can see, a tower of sorts in the middle of abandoned wreckage and twisted steel. Possibly an outpost or surveillance base, abandoned due to whatever mad reasons run Apokalips' military forces.

"Oh man oh man oh man oh man, pleaaaase be my ride home," she whispers. With solid steel underfoot and nothing in her way, Caitlin can run with all the effort her powerful legs offer, almost denting metal with the force of her forward step.


The frigate emerges from FTL, already warming up, shunting as much energy back into the FTL systems as they can from the descel, shortening their window in normal space as much as they can. The moment they resume sublight speed, the word goes out to Carol, and her ship - still powered down, except for the rapidly-deployed cloaking field - is dropped into normal space as the frigate speeds past. She banks to starboard with reaction thrusters, and watches the ship coast onward, sustaining over a dozen mighty blasts from a patrol ship and the orbital defenses, before it finally manages to FTL back out. She knows they won't be back; this was a one-way mission as far as they are concerned. The fighter is supposed to be her way out, if at all possible. If not, she's going to be in just as much trouble as Caitlin and the others, and just as much in need of a rescue.

Not a pleasant thought.

With her cloaking field in place, Colonel Danvers keeps her engines powered down, her systems on minimal as she coasts towards orbit. As such, she's just an empty hunk of space, floating on in, and no threat to anyone or anything. She'd land it that way if she could, but she knows she can't. The guess is that as soon as she transitions into atmosphere, the cloak will be unsufficient. After all, she'll have a thermal signature then from the friction of re-entry. And there are much more likely to be visual distortions. Either one alone would probably be something others could ignore. But together, they're almost sure to be enough for paranoid evil military forces to target and fire.

As soon as Carol hits the atmosphere, she kicks on the engines and takes flight, her blood and her mind singing with the call of flying in battle; there's nothing like it, in her estimation. And Carol is one of the best pilots in the galaxy. She knows what she's doing, well enough that despite the heavy patrols and their nasty weapons, she's betting she can make it through and land this thing in something other than a disastrous crash. Of course, even if she crashes, she's likely to survive. The question is how long she can do so once she's on the surface, without the ship to get herself and others out of here.

Assuming any of them are still alive, after so long.

SHUT UP, PESSIMISM!

Without JLA comms, and knowing that Fairchild herself never carried anything anyway, Carol doesn't bother to squawk any messages as she comes streaking in across the heavens. She just flies in, looking for a way through those patrols and fire nets, and a place to set this bird down that won't put it right on top of the enemy. Neither is looking too damned likely. But it's her job to find a way. Somehow.


Caitlin goes up the side of the building like a particularly nimble, giant monkey. It helps that her first leap carries her easily a hundred yards skywards, and she kicks up the walls with huge leaps and bounds. When she's near the uppermost levels, she finds a single, lone leverage point, and smashes her fist into a translucent wall panel that's meant to stop indirect explosives and asteroid impacts.

It cracks and shatters inwards with a hurricane of force.

Caitlin can barely breath for the excitement of the moment, fingers shaking as she dumps her knapsack out on the dusty metal floor. "Okay, power source, copper… ish wire," Caitlin says, tosssing particular items into a corner. "String, fasteners, and … hah!" She grabs a fistful of components and dashes back and forth, stringing wire up and running an ugly unsightly mess of cord and cable down to the little glowing power source at her feet. She has no idea what it is, of course, aside from some sort of battery. Photian power cells aren't exactly Earth tech. But, the young engineer knows a battery when she sees it.

"Oh god, Wikipedia, please don't let me down now," Caitlin whispers, hooking the entire assembly together. It runs across the wire and down into the building's superstructure— creating a massive, single resonant antennae.

She starts tapping the wire into the battery's power receptacle. A crude message, sent with raw radio waves. Indistinguishable from normal radio chatter on Earth, but so laughably primitive by Apokalips standards it's very likely not even something they'd scan for.

"Dot… dot… dot.." Caitlin says, biting her lip. "…dash, dash, dash… dot, dot, dot."

"Please, please be up there," she whispers to herself, scanning the empty skyline.


Sadly, as hot and fast as her little ship may be, Carol is not really much hotter or faster than the ships of Apokolips. A bit, but not a lot. They tend towards three-person 'fighters', piloted by three parademons of slightly higher intelligence than most. Only slightly. As such, Carol's big advantage is not the capability of her ship, but of the pilot. And she pushes her ship to the limit to keep up with her ability, dodging as much fire as she can, trying to save the ship from destruction.

It's not easy to manage all that fancy flying and handle the communications and sensors. She wasn't expecting any communications. But when Carol picks up that radio signal - she can feel it, and identify it, in the marrow of her own bones, after all - she rapidly adjusts the comms on the ship, and starts tapping out a response message, as she tries to track the signal and narrow in on the location.

Not wanting to draw the parademons to the source of that signal, Carol fights her way through the hellish fire and confluence of patrol ships until she can find a landing spot in the ruins of a shattered fortress. Once she gets the ship down, with its engines powered down and its cloaking field still active, she is able to drag it under cover, and then deploy an indenpendent camouflage netting, before shutting off the cloaking field to save power.

Still tracking those radio pulses, she sets off on foot, moving quickly and carefully, not caring that she's looking at ten miles of such hiking. She has what she considers clear evidence of at lease one survivor who is not only alive, but free enough to be sending out that message. That's a Hell of a lot better than she expected. She was figuring she'd have to infiltrate the enemy strongholds looking for prisoners to rescue.


Caitlin gasps in shock at the sight of the dogfight in the sky. It confirms her suspicions— that ship was no Parademon vessel! She frets at her lip, looking down at the crude radio. It's laughably simple in design— basically just a giant coil of wire that ties in to the emitter she's manually pumping power through. It can only send and recieve on one frequency. Fortunately, Carol Danvers is one of the only humans in the universe capable of perceiving such a narrow emissions band, and able to respond to it as well.

Caitlin picks up her grease pen and marks on the floor, watching the tiny needle wavering ever so slightly against a tiny sliver of metal the size of a razorblade.

"….dot… dash dash… dot dash…" She faithfully writes it out, smudging the dust into a vaguely arced line of dots and dashes. "Daddy, I don't care if it's crazy, I'm bringing some beer to your tombstone next time I'm home," Caitlin says, sobbing happily. She brushes tears from her cheek with her wrist and sets about translating the morse code message, finally emitting a horsely relieved squeal of delight.

"Also, Gramma Maxine is gonna have to talk with the Deacon, 'cause I'm totally gonna marry Carol Danvers." She drums her hands on the floor in excitement, reading the message again.

"Stay down. Repeat signal. On my way. CM."

Caitlin moves to the radio and resists the urge to start tapping out a signal immediately. Some sense reminds her that she's in dangerous territory. "Okay. Okay. They might be scanning for the signal. But Cap's listening for it now, right?" she says, working through it. "So … okay then." She frets her lower lip. "Gotta… gotta make it seem like random static. Background stuff." She bites down, tongue hanging out the side of her mouth, and hunches down over the transponder.

"Let's play telegraph." She starts manipulating the length of the radio very slightly, tugging on a coil of wire with her free hand to change the modularity— enough that even if somenoe was listening on one specific channel, they'd only hear one letter or sequence at a time.


Good damned thing Carol's not in the Air Force anymore; wouldn't be good, with some lovely towering redhead declaring her intention to marry Carol.

Ten miles, through rough, Hellish terrain and heavy patrols, and still Carol Susan Jane Danvers, also known as Captain Marvel, manages the trip in less than an hour. It's a harrowing hour, and she has to kill a patrol of parademons along the way - not an easy task. But she manages it, changing her course as needed to avoid patrols, constantly guided by those continuing signals.

Once Carol is within easy sight of the tower in question, she sends another message of her own. Brief and to the point:

CM here. Stop send. Six Zero meters WNW. Message repeats.

Carol sends it only twice, and then stops, and hopes like Hell the message she's been picking up stops when she does. They've taken an awful chance, up til now. It's time for radio silence, so that they can rendezvous in person, and start working out who knows what and how the Hell to be ready to get out of here. It's going to be a rough trip, no matter what they decide.

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