== > BE DAVE STRIDER
The floor beneath Dave’s feet shook with a tremor as they approached the crust of blue growing larger through the port of the lab as the meteor hurtled towards the planet.
“Is that it?” Tavros asked quietly, uncertain.
“Yep. That’s it.” John answered. The control room was filled with both humans and trolls vying to get a view of the newly created Earth through the front port windows.
“It looks bluer than I imagined it.” Kanaya leaned towards Rose with a question, dipping her slim-horned head. “Are you sure that this is the right planet?”
Dave knew his home planet when he saw it, even when planets started to blur together after so long spent racing past solar systems.
“It better be.” Sollux spoke without turning around, his knuckles clenched around the control panel’s makeshift steering wheel. “These are the coordinates I was given, I swear if this isn’t the right shitty human planet I’m fucking turning this lab around.”
Dave sat back and took in the view. He never imagined that he’d see Earth from space like this. Even with three years on the meteor, such sights still took his breath away. The planet was small compared to others he’d seen and massive when compared to LOLAR or LAWAS, but Earth was familiar and expected and…and rapidly growing closer.
“Strider, get your ass over here!” Sollux said, a slight lisp in his voice. “We should be close enough to make contact.” A smaller tremor shuddered through the meteor.
Dave turned to the wheel, heart thudding in his chest beneath the red symbol of time. He had work to do. “Right, leave it to me.” With a few steps Dave pushed past where Terezi and Tavros were pacing in circles around the lab floor to join Rose and Sollux in front of the massive port window. Stars glittered in the distance and the blue and green ball of the Earth was hanging in the space between the stars. The sun illuminated the planet and there was the moon, mostly hidden but visible through a slight egg shelled crack that peeked like a shy face around the crust of the larger planet. God, it was beautiful. He’d really missed Earth.
“Here, Dave,” Rose handed him the phone Jade has assembled for them to use to make sure the military didn’t shoot them down.
“Thanks Rose,” he said, completely straight-faced as he continued. “It’d be a shame if we blow up and die here and now after everything we’ve been through.”
“Sarcasm, Dave,” she warned, and he held back a smile from his ectosis. Below, the planet spun languid and peaceful, it’s sheer size immense and uncaring to the meteor rocketing at it full-speed.
“All right, let’s fucking do this,” Dave said as he picked up the phone. One of his more shitty remixes played as a dial tone as he spun through the stations to find something that wasn’t static.
“Hello?” Dave heard the crackle of a response. “Can anyone hear this?”
He listened hard but heard nothing over the sound of everyone else all trying to butt into the conversation. “Hey, can everyone shut the hell up?” Dave yelled, covering the mouthpiece with his palm. “I’m trying to make a call. Have some goddamn manners for a change, heathens.”
The largest tremor so far rocked the floor of the lab. Dave swayed with the sudden movement as the talk fell below a whisper. The mess of hair and horns below held still as the screeching of metal was heard from outside.
“Sollux? Rose? What the fuck was that?” Karkat finally dug himself on to the command floor with his hair ruffled and a grimace on his face. The troll sounded panicky.
“Welcome to the party,” Dave said, “glad you could join us.” Karkat scowled at him, the troll’s face uneasy as the floor continued to rumble.
“It’s fine KK.” The hacker was wrestling with the wheel, arms straining. “This piece of shit meteor wasn’t made to enter an atmosphere. It’s not like I can steer it or anything.”
“By my calculations it should begin to disintegrate when we reach the stratosphere.” Rose said, reading over the notes held close to her chest.
“Well that’s good to know,” Dave said. “Now hold on, I think I’m getting something.”
In his ear, words crackled into existence. Glorious words- proof that they weren’t the only living things left in the universe. He waited just long enough to disconcert that the voice was in English before he launched into his prepared speech.
“Houston, we have a problem.” Dave said grandly. He’d been waiting for this. Through the port window, the stars were being blocked out. Soon the earth was all he could see. White clouds covered the surface and obscured the shape of the land masses beneath.
Faintly, Dave heard a reply. “Who is this? How did you get the password for this private channel?”
“Greetings, NASA,” Dave replied, ignoring their questions. “This is Dave Strider and I am currently aboard the meteor inbound for planet earth. This will be an emergency landing- just thought I’d give you guys a heads-up before we crash land somewhere and blow up some shit. Common courtesy and all that, to let the world know that we’re about to land and basically fuck up everything you thought you knew about the universe.”
Rose tried to take the phone from him. “That is not appropriate.”
Over the phone, he could hear the slightly curious scrambling of someone trying to decide if they believed him or not. The constant timer in his head kept its steady countdown.
“Listen we hacked your signal,” Dave dropped the sarcasm from his tone. “I’m honest to God sincere about this; we are piloting a meteor and are about to do a majestic pirouette out of the belly of space and crash land on the surface of the planet. Look up- you should be able to see us by now. Do you see that ball of fire streaking towards you? That’s us.”
Over the phone, he heard a sharp inhale of breath, followed by a “Holy shit.”
“Okay NASA person now that you know I’m being drop-dead serious can you please patch me through to the guy in charge or the military or something? I don’t care if you have to hook me up with the goddamn president, I need to know that there won’t be any missiles or shit being shot as us on the way down,” Dave said.
There was a click, a burst of static, and a new voice that was sterner and gravelly took over. “State your name and business.”
“Name’s Dave Strider,” he answered, his voice rushed. “Human being, American citizen. Business is to not die in a fiery explosion.”
“Are you saying that you are on the projectile approaching earth’s orbit?” The voice asked. Dave liked this voice better. It didn’t play around. He pictured the face of a generic old gray-haired soldier, gave him a mental cigar, and guessed that portrait would be pretty accurate.
“Yes.” Dave said shortly. “That is exactly what I’m saying.”
“Are you alone?”
“No.” He answered. The room was quiet, but a dull roar was building in his ears. Everything depended on how the next few minutes went. “I’m not alone.” He swallowed thickly. “There are several other humans with me, as well as a handful of other species.”
“What sort of species do you mean?”
“Well, about that.” Dave said conversationally, “There’s several aliens on board as well, but we mean no harm. We come in peace and all that. I’ll tell you the story of how we got here and what’s going on later, but right now we’re kind of being pulled in by Earth’s gravity.” Dave left out the million or so consorts on the four planets Jade was carrying, the one insane murder clown sneaking about somewhere, and the mute carapace wrapped in a bedsheet down in Can Town. He couldn’t have this shit get too complicated.
“It doesn’t matter if they try to shoot us down.” Jade said, flicking her ears. The Witch’s eyes shone green in the starlight. “I can take care of any missiles.” She promised.
“I know you can, but we need all the help we can get landing this rusty piece of shit safely.” Sollux was madly typing away at his keyboard, numbers and symbols flashing too fast for Dave’s eyes to follow.
Dave could swear he heard the windows rattle as the lab shuddered. Out the window, they were close enough that he could see the shape of the North American continent forming beneath its white covering.
“Let me see if I understand this correctly,” the stern voice said. “You are claiming to be aboard the UFO currently occupying our airspace, with several other humans, with no explanation of how you got there or what is going on, and that there are also aliens with you?”
“Yes, that’s about it,” Dave lied. “Clean cut and simple.”
Karkat leaned closer, scowling. “Hurry up, Dave,” the troll said, “This was the one thing you had to do, so don’t fuck it up and get us all killed.”
“I’m trying, give me a break.” Dave said, covering the mouthpiece with his palm as his patience ran thin. “Can’t you understand how paranoid the US military can be?”
“Who was that just then?” The voice asked as if to prove his point.
“One of those actual aliens.” Dave answered, turning his attention back to the phone. An explosion shook the lab. He grabbed onto the railing to keep himself upright as the lab lurched to one side. The computer screens began flashing red and green error messages and warnings. An alarm blared.
“What the hell was that?” Karkat yelled. His face was painfully close to Dave’s ear and the noise, on top of the alarms going off, sent a thrill of honest fear through him. He could smell something burning, like fried wires. The scent burned in his nose.
“Don’t panic- I’ve got it.” Sollux said, but Dave got the feeling that everything was falling apart.
“Okay, listen to me,” Dave snapped into the phone. His heartbeat was fluttering wildly. He may have reached godtier but that didn’t mean letting the lab go up in a ball of flame was a good idea. He preferred his friends not burnt to a crisp. “We’re running out of time. We will not hurt anyone. We come in peace. Do not try to fucking shoot at us okay! If you do, we will be forced to defend ourselves. Don’t fuck with us and we won’t fuck with you.” He yelled into the phone, fingers hard around the phone until his knuckles turned white.
“Are you threatening us?” The voice crackled, indistinct and wavering. This was just great, the first new person he spoke with and Dave already didn’t like the guy, plus he may have just threatened what may have been the entire American government. He was doing perfectly.
“If that’s what it takes to ensure the safety of those whose lives are at stake,” Dave said, growing frustrated. “I don’t have the time to deal with your politics and red-tape bullshit at the moment. You can’t stop us. We will be landing soon. It’s better to have us as friends right off the bat by not trying to murder us, right?”
There was no answer. The line had gone dead with static. Dave threw the useless phone away from him. “I hope I managed to convince them,” he said grimly.
Rose gave him a small look of approval. “You did rather well, given the circumstances,” she said.
Jade was beside him suddenly, pushing up her glasses. “If they try anything I can stop the attacks.”
“I don’t think that they will attack,” Rose said, her voice sure. “If anything, the decision won’t be made before we’re too close and have touched down. Praise governmental red tape.”
“I am curious about your government,” Kanaya said, reaching out to take her hand for comfort during the rough decent. “I look forward to seeing how you run things with more than one leader.”
“Yeah, well. Sometimes having more than one leader leads to everyone being a shithead to each other and holding a pissing contest until someone busts out the bombs.” Dave answered, staring intently out of the window.
They were well into the atmosphere by now. For the first time in three years Dave wasn’t floating aimlessly through space. Clouds filled his vision, fire began to burn around the metal and stone edges of the meteor. He could see the heat tearing through the porous rock as the meteor shook itself apart.
Jade reached out, grabbed John’s arm, and they both vanished with a flash of green light. Dave silently gritted his teeth. There wasn’t anything else he could do to help the lab land safely. That part was up to John, Aradia, and Sollux. Jade would make sure that nothing happened to the lab on the way down.
Dave repeated words of reassurance to himself as the shaking increased and the burnt smell grew and grew. Metal was melting. The air was scorching. Sollux’s hands were going mad trying to keep the meteor on track. Red and blue sparks snaked through the air around the psionic and Dave felt a jolt as something caught hold of the meteor and strained against the freefall they were locked in. He knew outside John and Aradia were doing the same as Sollux- trying to slow them down as much as possible.
The meteor streaked through the sky. He could hear Terezi cackling madly somewhere from the lab floor. He could see the surface of the planet, see the scars of rivers and swaths of forests. It looked like they were going to land somewhere in mid-western America, so at least one thing was going according to plan. The Great Lakes glittered like overturned spoons pressed into ground and filled with liquid silver.
The floor shook again. Karkat was clinging to the railing, wide-eyed. A ceiling panel nearly hit him on the head as it tore free.
With a jolt, they broke free of the clouds. Suddenly, Dave could see roads and fields and even the shady spots of cities in the distance. The aura of fire around the front port window was tinged with red and blue. The ground was dangerously close- he could see the tops of trees, but he could feel it. They were slowing down.
Everything solidified in a single moment, grew sharper and more defined. They were still going too fast and the sky was running out. The meteor was going to hit hard. This was not going to be a soft landing, even with three godtiers attempting to snag the meteor out of the sky like a left-fielder with a flyball.
“Everybody hold on!” Dave yelled, just before they crash-landed onto Earth in a ball of fire and scorched steel.