A Little Turbulence

March 20, 2017:

In which Isa Reichert is rescued by Superman when a quinjet's engine fails, and meets the Man of Steel for the first time.

New York Airspace - Sky

The city of New York sprawls beneath, a living, breathing thing. Its population of 8.3 million people go about their business, largely unheeding of what happens in the skies above them. Unless, of course, it involves something spectacular — like a meteor strike, violent storm, or clash of superhuman proportions. Then, they might remember to look up.

High above, the sky is bright and cold. Here, you're above the clouds, below the stars, and in that place where the falling angel meets the rising… well, airplane, actually. Or space shuttle. Take your pick.

In either case, the ground below is a long, long way off. Mountains rise and fall, prairies stretch out like postage stamps, forests appear like tufts of grass in a patchy lawn, and oceans sparkle in the light of the sun or moon. People… People are pretty much microscopic from this height, actually. So, unless you've got a telescope, don't even worry about trying to see them.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*# ]


Fade In…

Although the city far below is a tangle of urban sprawl following the haphazard heartbeat of the Big Apple, the sky is a more peaceful place. The horizon stretches end to end, here, and the sun slowly makes its round across the heavens.

This high up, the atmosphere hasn't quite begun to thin out, but it's comparatively dark enough to see stars beyond the sun's path, if one squints. It's all very quiet and peaceful.

Except for the quinjet.

One of SHIELD's stout but agile transports races across the dome of the sky, its afterburners on full, flaring brilliantly behind it. It sports standard paint, dark against the darkening sky, with SHIELD's ghostly roundels blazoned across its wings… but something is wrong. One of those engines is too bright, suddenly flaring in a brilliant explosion – pieces of wreckage are flung free and thick, acrid smoke billows from the port side engine. The quinjet slews sharply to one side, the other engine cutting in and out, as though in a desperate bid to control its descent.

A broad-range mayday is put out in English and Russian, although the former is choppy and difficult to understand; both have to be shouted over the blaring and screeching of cockpit alarms. The voice is a woman's, if barely, voice carrying the distinct roughness of too many years of alcohol and cigarettes.

…Right before the mayday broadcast shuts off, the tail end of it is appended by a lot of swearing in Russian.

As the quinjet streaks across the sky growing ever lower in its descent a small streak of color appears in the distance. Faster then a speeding bullet, this hypersonic object crashes its way through clouds leaving behind a trail of red and blue light in its wake as it streaks through the wild blue yonder.

That beam of light, that mysterious streak in the sky is none other then SUPERMAN! The hero of metropolis, and stallwart defender of TRUTH! JUSTICE! and THE AMERICAN WAY! Trailing far behind him is the crash of thunder like a thousand jets gone supersonic, his hypersonic trail sending him hard into a spiral as he slows down just bellow the jet.

There's a sudden lurch of as the jets descent finds itself dramatically slown down, the man of steel pushing back against the full weight of the plain with his own meager frame. "Dobraye ootro comrade, I heard you needed a lift." Spoken out in a booming voice from under the jet in a friendly tone, with a light laugh thrown in for good measure. Bellow the crashing inferno Superman smiles bold, as he presses hard to slow the descent. "I hope you don't mind a few dents in the paint, but it's a bit hard to get a grip down here."

The quinjet wobbles its way across the sky. Ordinarily this wouldn't be too troublesome, but something mechanical gave way at precisely the wrong moment, and now the aircraft's travelling too fast to safely steer itself.

Without equal thrust from its two engines, it keeps trying to slew hard to port, wrenching around without the thrust from its left side to correct it. The windshear is starting to have telling effects on its control surfaces. The relentless abrasion rakes off pieces here and there of its metallic 'skin.' If this thing survives to touch down, it isn't going to be pretty.

Inside the cockpit a gloved fist slams into the pilot's console.

The pilot snarls a long, largely unbroken stream of obscenities as she tries everything she knows how to try and save her aircraft. No matter how quickly and confidently she adjusts levers, flips toggles, pushes buttons, or wrenches at the flight stick, none of it appears to be working. In fact, the quinjet is beginning to roll as it noses down, still torqued hard to its relative left. It's tumbling through the sky without any hope of correction; its control surfaces just aren't enough to stop it.

For the second or third time in her life, Raisa Ivanovna Yakovleva starts praying, in Russian.

Before she can finish her fervent and heartfelt prayer, though, salvation comes in the form of something moving entirely too quickly on the radar. What is that? Is that a missile? No, it's not erratic enough, and it's too big. Suddenly there's a pressure against the quinjet's failed engine, a noticeable shift against the force of gravity. The quinjet has… stopped falling?

Isa stares at the cockpit display in evident bafflement. A split second later, the tightband radio crackles, shot through with incessant cockpit alarms. It's hard to hear the voice clearly, but there's definitely a voice there. Too bad it's speaking in Russian.

«Dobroye utro! I—I don't know who you are, but thank you for the assistance. If you can take this down, please do. Anywhere will do. Let me kill the afterburner; this is only making it worse.»

The starboard engine stops straining, and the flame dies away as it simmers to a more manageable level of burn, instead of fighting the Man of Steel's grip and heading.

«I have no visuals, and I fear my radar is malfunctioning, Comrade. Who are you?»

With the strength of ten thousand men superman slows the jet more and more. Becoming a smooth transition the jet begins a proper descent towards what looks to be an abandoned dirt road on the edge of town.

Just as it seems the jet is about to smash into a radio tower Superman gives a quick lift back for just a moment, his suit scraping across the tip of the tower thankfully not nearly enough force to tear it. He turns the flight to the east using his strength and the existing momentum to carry the two with minimal effort of his own. "Superman, at your service." He responds in a friendly Russian voice. "I saw your message and came as soon as I could, had no intention of leaving you for the trees."

Shifting his stance superman begins to lower the plane faster kicking his legs in front of himself to brace for impact with the dirt road. His cape cought by the wind flutters hard against the resistance, almost fully stock out behind him as feet first touch dirk and rock.

Tightening her grip on the controls as the quinjet skims lower and lower, instinct drives Isa to yank back on the yoke when the radio tower looms. Superman is on point, though, lifting the crippled aircraft up and over the obstruction without damage to either the tower or the quinjet.

The radio crackles again.

«Superman.» The pilot sounds surprised. «I was not expecting that when I took off this morning. Just set me down over… there, by the trees. I can climb out and thank you properly—»

Nope, too slow once more. Superman is already bringing it in for a landing, albeit one less smooth than she's used to, jolting in her seat.

Dust rises from the point of landing. After a few seconds, the hatch bangs open, juddering against its guides. Out staggers a figure in olive grey flightsuit, with a helmet masking their features. It's a woman, by body type. A hand reaches up to rip the helmet off, revealing a spill of long, vibrantly auburn-red hair and pale skin and—

—an eyepatch?!

Isa Reichert rakes her fingers through her hair to swipe it out of her face. The right side is almost entirely covered in scar tissue, burnt until the skin texture looks plasticky; over where her eye should be is a dove grey patch. The scarring follows the line of her throat, and apparently tracks down past her collar. When she unfastens both gloves, it looks like her right hand isn't unscathed, either. She looks a little closer to forty than thirty.

Her smile is a gallows smile, and one half of her face doesn't move correctly to suit it.

"Spasiba." Her voice is just as rough in person as over the radio, but one can see how she might have been pretty once upon a time. She switches to English, the same choppy, laconic way she'd spoken in the distress call. "Would have probably crashed without help. Thank you." Isa grimaces. "Would reward you, but left wallet behind in New York City."

With the jet stopped on this abandoned country road, and the day saved Superman climbs out from beneath the landed craft. Making direct use of his Super-Vision, the man of steel gets to work diagnosing the problem, a heroic and confident pose struck.

Once the hatch opens to reveal the woman within Superman gives a friendly salute. "Not a problem at all Ma'am, it was all in a days work." He pauses to hold out a single hand for a handshake. "And thanks but no thanks on the reward."

His smile is an almost unnaturally white one stretching out wide across his rather chiseled features. His cape softly billows in the light wind across what was apparently at one point an off the books air field. However now it seems to be little more then an overgrown building and a dirt road. "Helping to avoid tragedy is its own reward, and one worth more then all the money on earth."

The pilot blinks somewhat owlishly at the heroic pose, the mile-wide white smile, and the chiseled features, as well as the aesthetically pleasing billow of cape. He looks like he just stepped out of a portrait frame.

Seriously, who looks like that after self-powered supersonic flight? His hair isn't even mussed. This afternoon is turning out to be a little surreal for the pilot.

Isa shrugs, and shakes her head in disgusted disbelief. "Don't know about that—" This, evidently, in regards to avoiding tragedy, "—but appreciate it." Her bosses probably wouldn't appreciate her coming by, dumping Russian intel in their laps, and then kicking the bucket, even if she herself wouldn't mind that too much at this point.

Fumbling through her pockets, she manages to produce both a cigarette and a lighter, flint striking in a rapid-fire succession of restless flick-flick-flick-flick until she manages to get the thing lit. One deep drag later, and she exhales smoke, turning to study Superman with a more critical eye.

She offers her scarred hand to shake. "Isa Reichert. Pilot for SHIELD. Was testing this quinjet's limit. Apparently passed it several kilometer ago." Her frown deepens. "Will have to speak with mechanics about that."

"I'd like to think that's part of what makes America the bastion of hope it's always been." A light chuckle escapes the man of steels breath as his smile falls more to a smirk. "There's no one out there forcing us to act or think in the same way as one another. Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Giving a firm handshake the man of steels smirk returns right back to a smile. It's confident and joyous. "Superman, free agent." His own joke following with a bit of a light chortle, that single curly-q hair of his hanging down to the middle of his forehead just bounding slightly from one side to the other right between his two deep blue eyes. "I'd be more then happy to fly you back to the carrier if needed, though I'd recommend you look into alternatives to that smoking habit of yours." Instead of nodding to her cigarette he nods in the direction of the still smouldering engine.

That single blue eye hoods a little, as though to ask, 'is this guy for real?'

"Da… something like that. Maybe." Isa's tone suggests she doesn't buy a word of that 'bastion of hope' business. She folds her arms and shifts her weight, flicking a glance to the quinjet with half an engine. Her regard quickly turns to a scowl. "Where I come from, can't depend on thing like that. Get yourself killed, I think." She gestures as though in imitation of an assembly line. "Head down. Stay in line. Do job. Don't ask question."

"Free agent. Hunh. Is good to know. But no. Will not need flight back. Will—" And here she exhales smoke, possibly just to spite the Man of Steel, "—radio for backup to get bird back home. And have been smoking for twenty-one years. Hasn't killed me yet." She shrugs, fatalistic. The cigarette is twitching, very slightly, in her hand. It's not every day one's jet explodes into ruin and is summarily rescued by the Man of Steel. Even she's heard of Superman. "Wouldn't care if it did." Her smile is flat and mirthless. "Would be improvement, maybe." The smile fades. "Will take them some time to reach here, though. Not close to New York City."

That blue eye settles on him again. Where his are the deep blue of a clean, clear ocean; hers are a more brittle blue, the yawning emptiness of winter skies, a colour almost brittle and icy. It might have been a pretty effect with her red hair, once upon a time, when she still had two of them. Now, it just seems… brittle. As though, despite her gruff exterior, something were broken on the inside. "So. Da. We have heard of Superman, even in Russia. Was not expecting to meet you this soon, though, in States." Again that baring of teeth that's suggestive of a smile. "Am not catching me at best, though. So sorry. Is not often something happens in air like that."

"Last time… well." She gestures with her cigarette to indicate her face, and the broad swaths of scarring. "Was not pretty."

Real or not his inflection and general speaking patterns make it sound like if nothing else he believes the speech he's selling. Completely genuine in his attitude without a hint of self awareness. "Around here questioning the status quoe is just a part of daily life." He brings out a quick quote. "My country right or wrong, if right to be kept right, if wrong to be set right, and by golly do people do a grand job of setting it right when needed."

Unflinching superman doesn't even react to the smoke blown his way, instead allowing it to filter off against his uniform. He does however give just a slight chuckle at the effort.

"I'd say by the looks of that engine it almost did the job today." In regards to smoking never killing her. "Whole things one step away from being on fire." A light pause. "Well the half that's left of it anyway." Facial expressions add in to the whole display as he talks, gesticulating with his eyebrows as well as his hands to back up his own words.

He pauses for her explanation, nodding his head along with her words, fully intent on the woman before her showing respect in his motions. "Well I've rarely had a bad time in Russia, wonderful people." He pauses a moment for a quick visual scan of her to make sure there aren't any broken bones or damage he might have incidentally caused in his little landing stunt. "Let's hope our next meeting is on more stable terms then!"

"Ugh." Isa looks as though she's bitten into something sour, scowling around her cigarette.

Although questioning the status quo is the kind of thing that she absolutely would do, but she'd learned a long time ago to clamp down on those instincts. Where she came from, those instincts were dangerous; even if she didn't buy into the wonders of her own well-modelled society, she knew enough not to ask questions or offer criticisms. It was a good way to disappear, and quickly.

She might not have shied from death, but when her time ran out, she wanted it to mean something.

"Country. Nation. Doesn't matter, none of it." Isa gestures with her cigarette, leaving a thin trail of smoke from the tip. "Load of crap. Always was. Always will be. Was always better to make my own way. Can't depend on that; will only get you killed. And not even martyred."

Shrugging, she loops around to lean against the undamaged side of the quinjet, folding her arms. The fuselage is still warm. "Tch. Is different." But, perhaps tellingly, her face pales a little at the mention of bursting into flame. It's probably how those scars came about, so maybe that's not very surprising. But where Superman is emotive and talks with his entire face, Isa does not; perhaps in part because literally half her face doesn't really move any more. It's hard to talk with eyebrows when you only have one left.

At his scan there seems to be no damage. No broken bones, not even any strain, but her body is about as much of a wreck as he'd expect for the life she's led – old healed breaks and fractures. She stoops over, stubbing the cigarette out on the sole of her combat boot and dropping it into a small, pocket-sized ashtray, screwing its lid shut. At least she doesn't litter! "Da. Maybe. Am flying for SHIELD, so you will know where to find me, I think."

She watches him obliquely, though, as though she were considering something. After a moment she shakes her head, snorting to clear strands of red hair from her face. "Da. Maybe."

The words don't seem to hurt the man of steel. Even as he silently stands listening, allowing her to take the time to vent his direction. He doesn't once interrupt or speek up till she finishes up with her own story. Yet as she does he moves back away from the landed plane.

"I'm sure once you've gotten to know this place, you'll settle into things." His final statement to break the ensuing silence, before he gives a firm salute. "Even if you don't, there are still plenty of people here stateside I'm sure you'll get along with just fine." The friendly smile given once again, before he adds. "Vsego nailucsego!"

From the ground kicks a large plume of dust for just a moment as the man from krypton crashes upwards into the sky. His moments windup has sent him already hurtling up into the wild blue yonder through a small collection of clouds. Rapidly maneuvering in the sky before he flies off the trail left behind leaves the words clear as day written on the blue backdrop. "Cheer up, tomorrow is a new day!" Written right in the clouds.

Reaching over, the pilot thumps the flat of a hand against the stricken quinjet, as though in support of the machine. It doesn't do much than something in its interior banging, and a piece of hull plating over the damaged engine falling off with a clatter.

Isa sighs a long-suffering sigh. Of course this had to happen so early into her tenure with SHIELD. Of course.

"Dasvidania." Isa raises a hand in lazy salute to the Man of Steel, though her arm lowers to shield her eye when he kicks off from the earth and raises a plume of dust. She lowers it, looking after him until the blue and red dwindles, and there's no more to see but a faint disturbance in the clouds where he'd gone right through them.

She blinks somewhat owlishly, scowling into the sky as she scans that cloud once, twice…

…and heaves a smoke-laden sigh, scowling even more deeply.

"Fool," she sighs, but the word is almost an appreciative tone. Almost. Today wouldn't have been a good day to die.

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