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Falling Sky:
A Simple Discovery



City of Heroes/City of Villains
Fan Fiction By
Anthony Harte


    Howling ice-dagger winds screaming across the tundra of the Arctic Circle struck forth penetrating the tent of Dr. Marvin Linder causing it to undulate in mock pain.
    “Damn it man,” he yelled to the Crey technician from inside his fur-lined olive green parka speaking with visible breath. “It’s been over eight hours. I need communication restored.”
    “Sorry, sir, the satellite just isn’t there or someone is jamming us.” The technician silently wished his site chief would go get bent and pound snow.
    Dr. Linder paused in his berating. Who could be jamming us?  His mind drifted to the Malta group, then to the 5th Column. Inconceivable, they are completely unaware of Crey Industry’s involvement in this expedition.
    A roar of static consisting of pops, sizzles, and squeals erupted from the speaker of the shortwave HF radio grabbing the attention of the technician and momentarily interrupting Dr. Linder from his contemplation. He had applied for a Crey Industries directorship and was denied because of his lack of experience. This pathetic stint with the Paragon City University and the Discovery Channel was his first assignment on the rung of the corporate latter to achieve power. He was not about to let freezing cold, two-bit electronics, mercenaries, or fascists destroy his chance at a directorship. He began running scenarios through his head of the various possibilities and potential solutions.
    “Sir,” the tech cried. “We have contact on the shortwave.”
    Dr. Linder, this is Crey Outpost Five-Niner, helicopter en route, prepare for emergency evac. This is not an exercise, command protocol… Falling Sky. I repeat Falling Sky!
    The technician grew quite satisfied with the humanizing jaw-dropped look from his stern boss, the innuendo of the transmission lost to him.
***
    “This is incredible Doctor!” The undergrad exclaimed jumping up and knocking over one of the three Discovery Channel cinematographers.
    Professor Orrin Praetor of Paragon City University unzipped his heavy winter coat and walked from the heating units. They were ten feet under the ice and snow of the surface safe from the snowstorm that raged angrily above. He glanced at the mobile MRI unit they were using to document locations of the large discoveries of wooly mammoths. After mapping the site and viewing the basic condition of the bodies, they would start excavating.
    “What do you have here?” he asked adjusting knobs of the imaging unit focusing the display to zoom out.
    “It’s a human!” the student said sending the cameraman behind them to record the event on the display.
    Prof. Praetor titled his head and scaled the image. “Well, no… well maybe. Over eight feet tall whatever it is.” His heart secretly raced at the discovery. This could be the missing link, he thought. They could be on the verge of a great discovery. Breathing deeply he focused his thoughts; he was a scientist and needed to take his time. “It’s only a couple feet down… get Dr. Linder, we’ll need to have his plasma cutting system to melt the ice.”
    The student scampered quickly up the ladder, and throwing caution to the wind Prof. Praetor turned the heat up on the environmental units. Crey Industries was footing most of the bill on this expedition. They supplied much of the advanced equipment they were using and he was grateful for the help. Truly, Countess Crey was a great humanitarian and philanthropist.
    He moved back to the MRI to begin recording his findings for posterity.
    “Let’s see, human-like being located, over eight feet tall, and… horns? Possibly a tail… Okay… Not human then.” He tweaked the controls and brought and even sharper focus of the graphically extrapolated image. “Form looks intact, except some physical damage to right arm and on the left arm below the elbow.”
    Prof. Praetor stopped and unknowingly posed for the camera becoming the perfect representation of scientific reflection. Autopsies of other mammoths from nearby sites supported the theory a drastic and severe change in the weather pattern happened in this area predating the ice age. They had found undigested flowers and grass in the stomachs of the beasts. It is as if the beasts had been subjected to a sudden super intense cold. He dismissed the data, but nonetheless some weather phenomena had to be the cause for the fine specimens. Recalling the specifications of the plasma cutter, he figured they could recover the body within the hour. The smile that spread across his face looked well on the Discovery Channel. Human or not, this humanoid could still be a common ancestor.
    “We are leaving,” Dr. Linder proclaimed climbing down the ladder.
    “What?” Prof. Praetor responded at a loss of words for the finality in the site chief’s tone.
    Dr. Linder started powering down the environmental units and MRI. “We need to leave base camp and head back to our ship.”
    “Why?” Prof. Praetor was ready to beg. “We just had an amazing breakthrough. This is no simple discovery.”
    “I do not care, we must all go now.”
    The aggressive order hit Prof. Praetor squarely across his pride igniting his defiance.  “Please, just look at the findings.”
    Dr. Linder paused and against his better judgment reviewed the recording on the MRI screen.
    “See, we might have found the missing link,” Praetor lied not truly believing that anymore.
    “Doesn’t matter. We have thirty minutes to gather our things.”
    “I am staying then.”
    “You don’t get it Professor; Paragon City is under attack, probably the world. There will be no supply helicopters or anything. I am lucky that I am not stranded here now.”
    “But…,” a befuddled Praetor stuttered the doctor’s words registering in his mind. “Huh, under attack?”
    “Yes.”
    “By whom?”
    “Rik…,” Linder swallowed hard almost revealing the classified information. “Uh, aliens what else.” He took a deep breath; company directors did not casually leak secret information as he almost did. He berated himself for the weakness.
    “Aliens? From where… oh, never mind.” Prof. Praetor realizing how absurd he was sounding stopped. Aliens came from outer space and while improbable as traveling to other universes the latter was still true. He looked back at ground where the frozen figure they found laying just a couple of feet below them and sighed.
    Dr. Linder seeing the dedication his colleague had grabbed the Professor on the shoulder. “We’ll be back. If Crey survives that is.” Without me if I have any say, he thought. To hell with this cold, dead-end hellhole.
***
    The Crey modified CH-47 Chinook helicopter braved the growing snowstorm and lifted off into the wall of white quickly disappearing in the fury. The entire crew had been rescued. Below, in the ice chamber of the prehistoric hero, a small assemblage of immortal beings gathered around the frozen resting place of the half-dragon immune to the effects of the cold or the weather.
    “Unforeseen this was,” Asclepius whispered lowering his head almost in silent prayer.
    “Agreed. What art our options?” Ares questioned glancing at the other four. War was presently afoot and the drakes battle had been finished over many a millennia ago.
     The wind shrieked in the short pause that the gods used to ponder the implication of the drakes and the memory of the true dragons returning from the dead.
    “Much is explained,” Hades said. “I expected to see the last half-dragon at the beginning of his eternal journey starting through my realm. His absence now hath an answer.”
    “Admittedly, we all owe a debt to the son of Grendel.” Artemis said knowing that ideas did not sit well among them.
    “Bah,” Ares spat gripping the shaft of the spear he brought with him. “Thou can pay my debt to the kin of dragons.”
    “Their cause was pure and devotion blinding,” the thinly robed Eros said. “We may hath regretted our actions or inactions, but the dragons were too powerful a threat to all pantheons. Their jihad was both blessing and bane. Some shared their goals if not their fate.”
    “The Saurians fell to them,” Asclepius said, “costing the dragons their mortal forms. This half-breed completed the destruction they started.”
    “His actions, nay, their actions changed everything,” Artemis said her thoughts drifting to loved ones. “Existence with or without the dragons is difficult to scry.”
    “And no one remembers him,” Ares responded, “his name lost on the lips of mortals. They have even recorded the events of his father incorrectly.”
    “Time forgives all sins and good intentions,” Asclepius flatly stated drawing the gaze of those present. Death was falling upon the world and many cried out for his healing miracles. “None knows that the dragons were responsible for Odin’s missing eye either. Many things have been misinterpreted by mortals, as well as immortals.”
    Another long pause in the ice chamber allowed the wind to take voice once again.
    “His return could also be a bane or a blessing,” Eros stated his voice echoing throughout the chamber and time.
    “I could take him.” Hades sneered. “Claim his soul as thine.”
    “Thou art a fool,” Artemis said chastising Hades who only glared menacing back. “The spirits of the dragons would not rest. Our problems would be greater than before.”
    “He is part mortal,” Hades said the irony lost in his growing anger. She would need him soon and he would be sure to resist any requests she may ask of him.
    “Aye,” Ares agreed.
    “Only one is he,” Eros said. “The ways of dragons shall never return. I beg of thee Asclepius heal him. Mend his broken body that he may rise up and become the light of hope.”
    “Nay,” Asclepius coldly answered. He knew such an act would anger many of the gods. “Besides there art others, descended through the ages they will have finally found that their lives have a deeper meaning.”
    “He may then be of assistance in the future,” Eros pleaded falling to his knees. “Ultimately, we know whither his true heart lies; he will serve us in ignorance. The events art already in motion, allow his return from the deep sleep.”
    “Thou hast thy answer then,” Artemis whispered to the group knowing there was still much to do.
    “Verily,” Ares said realizing what Artemis was hinting too. It was a common solution among the gods. “We do naught then, and none shall approach him either. Allow him to learn of the new ways by himself. Inform the others of the decision.”
    “Sleep lightly young son of Grendel,” Eros proclaimed on bended knee. “Thou hath greater things still to accomplish.”
    The wailing wind kept the memory of the last drake company on the lonely far off tundra of the Arctic Circle,  its chilling whispers heralding the once and future hero.



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