Who: Peter Quill, Dr. Strange What: Peter has a rough landing and gets an assist from Dumbledore uh Gandalf um Doctor WhoStrange. Where: Earth, New York, Stark's lawn. When: Now! Now, I say!
Slouching in the pilot's seat of the Benetar, Peter Quill tipped his head back and tossed a handful of extra spicy Gear Shift candies into the air. Just as he caught the entire handful in his mouth, the comms unit went off.
“This is the Kree Ship, Skrullsmasher. Identify yourself."
Mouth full of candy, Peter attempted to reply, “Breaker Breaker, Skrullsmasher, This is Captain Starlord of the galactic chick magnet, Benetar. You've probably heard of us. Over."
The noise that blared onto the deck of the small Kree patrol ship sounded less like communication from an intelligent life form and more like a garbage disposal full of legos. There was a short pause as the captain considered preemptively powering up the weapons array, then decided it wasn't worth the drain on the power cells. She checked that the universal translator was operating within normal parameters and then repeated slowly, “This is the Kree Ship, Skrullsmasher. Identify yourself."
Peter swallowed hard and muttered, “Oh Jesus, don't get your panties in a twist, Smurfette." He was congratulating himself on the sick burn, when he noticed that his comm unit was still broadcasting. Play it cool, man, she probably didn't hear you. he told himself.
In his most dignified, Thor like voice, Peter boomed, “Honorable Ship Skrullsmasher, Greetings and Salutations! It is I, the Starlord, Captain of the intergalactic legend, Benetar." He nodded his head, satisfied that he'd nailed it and that the entire Kree ship was looking at one another in awe of their incredible luck at having met THE Starlord.
On the deck of the Skrullsmasher, the captain and the comms officer exchanged glances, the comms officer said quietly, “Is he ill? There's a particularly bad strain of Moragian Syphallis in this sector. "
The young captain considered this and decided it was a reasonable possibility. She steepled her hands together, before nodding at the comms officer to reopen the channel, “Thank you, your reply and location will be noted. It is recommended that you seek evaluation and treatment at the first available station. Skrullsmasher, out." She then keyed in a log notation describing the ship, noting the name of the Captain and noting that the aforementioned ship should be considered a possible biohazard. Motioning for the helmsman to resume course, the captain shook her head and wondered if the twisted panties of a Smurfette comment was a clumsy attempt at courtship or evidence of advanced disease.
Peter frowned at the tone in the Kree's voice, “Evaluation and treatment? For what? Being so much cooler than you?" Not his personal best in terms of comebacks, but it had been a long haul without much company. He shrugged and stretched his arms over his head, Can't be getting spaghetti arms, he thought, right before he knocked over one of the last remaining cans of Bubble Up in the galaxy. The electronics began to spit and hiss as Peter frantically yanked his t-shirt over his head and attempted to mop fizzing sugar off the controls.
When the ship began shuddering slightly, Peter assumed that the Bubble Up was working its way into the primary anti-grav module. Unworried, he trying to decide who he would blame, when without warning, the ship's speed went from he noticed that the ship's speed went from a leisurely cruising Mos Espa in mah De Lorean to absolutely ludicrous.
As Peter struggled to wrestle the jammed controls, the Benetar continued to pick up speed while the jammed controls forced it into tighter and tighter circles. The view screens filled with the streams of psychedelic light while the cabin was filled with the noise of a hundred Niagara Falls.
Refusing to add chunks of Gear Shift and Cheetos to the soda pop on the control panel, Peter swallowed hard, and thought, There's a time to die and this sure as hell isn't it. while he alternatively slapped at the smoking control panel and yanked hard on the controls, trying desperately to keep his ship from entering what looked like a giant U shaped tunnel of light.
Buttcheeks welded together, Peter Quill was glad to be alone as his face begin to contort in ways that were way too wonkavision for his image. His last thought before the Benator was flushed from one reality into another was, “Aw C'MON"
When Peter opened his eyes, he wasn't sure whether his wince came from the force of slamming into Earth's atmosphere like a bug on a windshield or from the acrid smell that filled the ship. A quick check assured him that the smell was definitely from the control panel and totally not from him.
Doctor Strange was meditating in the Sanctum when his astral form rubberbanded, and he was suddenly - and painfully - sent back into his physical body. He opened his eyes and blinked a few times, feeling a disturbance in the force universe. A new arrival. Somewhere overhead but coming in fast.
A quickly muttered spell confirmed his suspicions. Star-lord was returning to Earth.
This was convenient timing. The speed that Peter was approaching was not convenient, since it didn't seem to be slowing down.
"...not again," Stephen muttered as the cape rushed over in a flutter, resting around his shoulders. He spent mystical energy on the most precise locating spell for an object in motion, and stood to open a portal inside of it. That took a few precious seconds getting it to stabilize and open, which was harder than he anticipated.
Once it did, he flew through and let it collapse behind him, he landed near Quill's captain's chair and promptly casted a tao mandala shield over the entire ship.
"Hello Again," Stephen said, making a few faces of his own as he tried to keep the spell held in place. Still able to win any music question during brain surgery or ships crashing, he was able to add, "The Cars. Released October fifteenth, nineteen eighty-four. First track on the Heartbeat City album, reached number twenty on the charts. Can you steer?"
“Can I steer? Of course, I can steer,". Peter muttered in the general direction of the sorcerer who had appeared in the cabin of his ship . “It’s Benetar who's having a problem, duh."
He spared a quick glance at Strange, wondered if the guy dressed like Bowie on purpose or if popped collars were some sort of magical power booster. Noticing that the ground seemed to be approaching rapidly, Peter yanked hard on the auxiliary braking lever….. which broke off in his hand.
“It’s fine, man. There’s another one of them around here, somewhere. Just a sec…." Peter twisted around in his seat, and began digging underneath it. He pulled out a handful of Little Debbie cupcake wrappers, a wrench and something that resembled a Jell-O shot, but smelled like urinal cake. Tossing the entire haul over his shoulder he went back to groping under the seat again.
“Yeah, you’re like the world champion at pub trivia, aren’t you, Steve?" As the actual reigning champion of “act casual", So what if the completion was between him, a sentient chihuahua and two eight year old girls? He won. Fair and square,, he thought as he gave Strange a cocky grin. Peter figured if Strange couldn’t tell that the likelihood of the ship becoming the interstellar equivalent of roadkill was fast approaching eighty percent, there was no point getting the dude’s cape in a knot about it.
His fist finally managed to grab what had once been a mini golf putter, disentangled it from under the seat and shoved the end into the smoking hole where the brake shaft had once been. The ship responded with a groan and a lurch, Peter muttered in Strange’s general direction, “Give me a sec…. this happens all the time, it’s all good…"
Stephen leaned aside, to avoid what smelled like a urinal cake as it was thrown aside. Even the cape wooshed to one side in the direction of AWAY before trying to flap that smell away. The cape doesn't even have a nose, and yet...it knew.
"It's Stephen. Strange. Doctor Stephen Strange. Not Steve." As he eyed that golf putter device with a wary glance, he felt blepharospasm - an eye twitch - developing in his left orbital socket. Mostly because Peter was right about something again, outside of the plan on Titan. Pub trivia helped fund drinking nights in grad school. At least until everyone wised up and stopped joining in.
The odds weren't even looking good from where he was standing, and with sheer force of will, he boosted the tao shield around the ship even more and saying a little loudly over the protesting engine, "If it happens all the time, now would be a good time to start steering. Not to rush you or anything."
Hello Earth. Should you be rising up that quickly to greet them? He didn't need Stark's knowledge of engineering physics to know that this looked bad.
"Does this really happen all the time?" he asked Peter. The question was posed in such a way, it made him seem like he might be wondering aloud about dropping the shield and opening a portal instead. Somehow, he didn't think Star-lord would like that option at all.
“Of course it does," Peter ground out as he grabbed the wad of sticky cotton shirt he’d been using to mop off the control panel and tossed it at Strange, “You might want to buckle in….but wipe the seat off first." The Starlord might not be the best host in the galaxy, but even he was aware that allowing someone to sit in a chair that had last been used by a Raccoon in desperate need of having his anal glands expressed was poor form.
Peter hadn’t been lying when he’d told Dr. Strange that things like this happened all the time, he had however omitted the fact that they often culminated in large explosions and shrapnel. Under his breath he muttered, “Holy Hoff, like you, I am a lone crusader in a dangerous world. It’d be rad if you could do me a solid here."
He grinned maniacally when the auxiliary braking system actually began to marginally slow the descent of the ship, “Hell yeah, Steve-a-rino! It actually worked!"
Peter looked at the rapidly spinning altimeter and figured they had at least a good three to four minutes before impact. Plenty of time, he told himself, bobbing his head and humming along as the song changed.
Before that sticky shirt could hit him, the cape swooped to one side and formed a protective cloth wall so it bounced harmlessly off onto the floor. Truly, it was the most loyal of outerwear. It even risked getting sticky. A little magic will get that out.
Somehow or other, he got the vibe that the captain of this ship was lying about scenarios like this happening. Because he could hear him muttering a prayer. Which was never comforting, even if they had slowed down a little bit.
"It's Stephen," he replied, glancing at Peter like he was going to get them both killed in about 4 minutes, maximum, and trying to think of alternate spells that didn't involve opening the Eye of Agamotto. "And right about now, We Are The Champions would be a lot more hopeful and a lot less ironic."
At least Stark wasn't around. Stephen could only imagine the soundtrack to destruction playlist those two could compile.
As the Doctor discarded the shirt, Peter thought, Suit yourself man, if you want to smell like raccoon ass, it’s on you. Despite the sorcerer’s questionable judgment when it came to the bodily fluids of others, Peter was a little impressed that the guy had any musical taste at all. He’d always envisioned sorcerers as sitting around and listening to….. Then it occurred to Peter that he’d never taken the time to envision what anyone else listened to ever.
He coughed and flipped several more switches, pumped the foot pedals and weighed advantages of an intact ego vs. an intact interstellar vehicle. It took a full minute for Peter to recognize that while his ego was, like other parts of him, above average, he was less his father’s son and more Yondo’s. What would Yondo, do? he asked himself.
It took a fraction of a second to realize that he didn’t know what the hell, Yondo would do in this situation, but it only took another moment for him to know exactly what his daddy would have said in this situation, “Hey there, Jackass!" Which Peter figured was a sign.
Without looking at Strange, Peter said, “Yeah, um so …. Doctor Doom, if you have any harry potter voodoo flimflam you can pull out about now, it might be a good idea." He watched the altimeter flash read as it dipped below ten thousand feet. While his face did not betray any concern, his buttocks had no problem recognizing DEFCON 1 and once again welded themselves together.
The last thing either the sorcerer or the cape wanted to do was touch anything on this ship, even if Peter's butt was desperate to grab anything it could in mid-clench.
The cape gave Peter Quill a single scolding flapping at - that was a firm NO - before raising its master up from the floor and helping him hover in place. At the very least, it could try to keep them stationary during any crash, or buffer against hitting anything so spells wouldn't be broken.
"I'm working on it," Doctor Strange replied, and it's Strange, not Doom (Let's hope HE doesn't show up!). The shield broadened so cushion the blow, and as he saw the Avengers Headquarters steadily coming into view, he eyed the water from the Hudson. There was another option to slow their progress, but it involved dropping the shield, since that was only going to leave a shield sized dent. He needed to think quickly and find a different solution. The shield disappeared instantly, which might seem like suicide except for the casual way he noted, "You and Stark seem to reference Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings a lot."
With fiery rings of Eldritch magic forming around his wrists and lower arms, he focused on the river and muttered an incantation, causing the water to form into a large whirly column of water, rushing up high into the air at them. When the water hit the ship, it slowed their momentum down significantly. A good thing too, since it might even save them from Stark's bitching about leaving a dent on the lawn...because the lawn was about to turn into a swamp.
"Let's confirm. Do you. Have. Steering," Stephen asked and it was hard not to sound tense right now. They were now running blind except for whatever sensors this ship had. And he was fully focused on a veritable tornado of liquid to slow their descent. He was also trying to sense when to condense the rush of water toward the ground so that they had a soft cushion to land on.
Grasping the putter, Peter gave it a final twist and felt the yoke finally engage. He stomped hard on the aeilron control pedal and finally felt Benetar respond. Surfing the giant wave, Peter whooped, “WAY TO GO DOC OC!" as he felt the ship touch ground on a virtual tsunami of water and careen its way over what had been pristine lawn.
He was about to offer the sorcerer a high five, when the proximity alarm went off. Peter slammed a fist onto the control board and a screen flickered to life, showing the distinct outline of what looked like a vehicle. He decided that the Hoff would not have deigned to drive a land Cheeto, but didn’t think having it jammed into the waste extraction port would help anyone.
Throwing all his weight against the damaged yoke, he managed to slam the ship hard to the right, sending a rooster tail of water over the top of an orange Audi as the Benetar skidded, lurched and squelched her way to a stop.
“Lucky for us, I used to skateboard when I was a kid." Peter slid out of his seat, grabbed his faux leather Members Only jacket and looked at Doctor Strange, “Bet Stark is gonna be pissed you messed up his lawn. Don’t worry, McStuffins, I’ll tell him you were doing your best."
He grabbed a shirt from off the deck, sniffed it and decided that while a little ripe, it had not yet crossed over into dank AF and put it on. “You coming?" Peter figured the sorcerer might be a little embarrassed about the whole landscaping soggy car issue, he grinned and motioned Doctor Strange toward the port docking ring, “Man, it’s cool. I’ll tell Stark it was my fault, if it makes you feel better."
Stephen was too busy focusing on pooling the water under the ship to respond to the current nickname. He wanted to give them a softer water landing, but Stark's Audi was an unfortunate victim of a tidal wave. Not only was the car skidded far off to one side, but the entire area resembled a swamp. A swamp that the car was now stuck in.
Stephen closed his eyes and took a calming deep zen breath, letting it out slowly.
"Actually," he said, while turning around slowly, "do you realize that you're in an alternate dimension now? Because the locating spell for new arrivals targeted you. If you have astral brain leeches eating your memories, then I can remove them...."
He looked at the state of the ship as he walked toward that port docking ring.
"...nevermind, I don't think I have enough time to purge everything you're infected with."
First the Kree and now Dr. Stardust insinuating that Benetar was nasty. “Dude, this place might, you know be a little, cluttered….but it’s nothing compared to Taserface’s bunk. That dude had more species of pubic hair stuck to his sheets than a lint roller at Crontraxia." Peter followed Doctor Strange toward the exit, but came to a full stop at the words “alternate dimension."
Cape’s and tights, man. It’s gotta be something in the spandex or the velvet …. people put that shit on and things go sideways. Always. As this ran through Peter’s head, he grabbed a duffle that Bereet had once called his “super adorbs man purse." From the number of angrily blinking lights in the cockpit, Peter figured it might take a little time to get her space worthy. He began pulling items from the lockers that ran the length of the crew cabin, stopped and checked his hair in the mirror that was attached to the inside of one of the locker doors and gave himself an approving thumbs up. Once he’d clipped his Walkman to his belt and slung his headphones around his neck he felt he’d given the whole alternate universe thing enough time to sink in.
“So, I’m in a different dimension than I was when I woke up this morning." Peter said to make sure that he’d heard Dumbledore correctly. If that were the case, Peter had been through much weirder things. Shaking his head, Peter remembered the time Yondu had decided his ward didn’t know enough about human culture. Peter’s crash course in earth education began with representative example of terranwildlife. Knowing that Peter was obsessed with Knightrider, Yondu also felt that it was important for Peter to know what actualpersonalvehicles, emergency response transports and public transportation looked like. And while the only home Yondu could give Peter was the Elector, he wanted Peter to know what an actualearth home was like. Most importantly, Yondu wanted Peter to know that the tv shows that he was obsessed with weren’t how humans lived. Yondu wanted the boy to see real, everydayordinaryterrans living their lives. Grinning at those memories for a moment, he also remembered the moment he found out that his biological father was a malignant narcissistic planet.
“My weird shit-0-meter is set pretty high, Doctor Who." Peter held up two fingers, “I got two questions. First, am I the only me in this reality? Second, I don’t want the Benetar getting impounded. You got any ideas on where I can get her towed?"
"This ship is a petri dish," Stephen said, like it was a professional opinion. Furthermore, if he knew that Yondu had shown Peter those things as evidence of how people lived on Earth, he would have blasted those comparisons to pieces. It might be a good thing that he didn't know. And it explains a lot about why Yondu liked his orange haired Thomas Dam troll doll.
To answer those questions, he started with step one.
"Yes, you're the only you. You take the place of any Peter Quill that would be in this reality. There is only ever one of our selves in any universe, otherwise that can cause a paradox."
"Don't worry, you crashed on Stark's lawn," he told Peter, answering question two with a wry smirk. "Your ship can't be confiscated here, and Stark can have it moved into the hanger. I'll be taking you to the Tower, where you'll get a room. In fact, I have a welcome pack for you. Including a phone, laptop, log in information for the network. There's also an expense account card. If you'll follow me right this way."
Stephen didn't bother opening the port door, but instead opened a portal right there, into what looked like the corridor of an apartment building. As he stepped through, he waited for Peter to follow. One corner of the cape curled up and made a crooked finger motion. That expense account mention might be like danging a carrot in front of a hungry horse, but the faster they put distance between themselves and Stark's new swamp land, the better.
Peter eyed the glowing portal, looked around at the smoking cabin of his ship and then back again. He asked himself the single most important question how he defined much of his decision making What would Michael Knight do in this situation? He considered carefully. He didn’t know exactly what the Hoff would do if he’d been sucked from one reality into another one, but he knew without a doubt what Knight would not do.
Running one hand through his hair, he shook his head slowly, “Doctor Strange, I’m sorry, but I can’t let anyone put Benetar in a corner. It wouldn’t be right." He paused, “but that laptop, login in and card would be real helpful."
"Actually, I can't let you stay in the middle of a swamp," Stephen said, attempting to reason and hoping it would work. "There's safety in numbers. You'll need to talk to Stark about the hanger space, anyway. And it's likely you'll want to talk to the rest of the Guardians, who already live in the Tower."
Peter paused, grabbed what looked like a key fob and activated the ship’s beacon. He reminded himself that whoever the Guardians were in the tower, they weren’t the people he had fought and bled with. He followed Strange through the portal, “Guess I better talk to Stark, then."
Actually, they were the people he lived and fought with, and when Peter looked and sounded dejected about leaving Baby in a corner to the tune of Love is a Battlefield, Strange made sure to tell him, "Peter, those of us here in the tower, we knew one another. We're all from that other universe. You'll find out when you talk to them.
"Anyway, good luck with Stark. But...one more thing." As the portal closed he took the welcome pack out of the wizarding man purse, otherwise known as a pocket dimension. "Gamora is here. I remembered you were looking for her on Titan. You can ask Friday to schedule a meeting if you want."
As Strange held out the welcome package with one hand, neatly wrapped in brightly colored Tibetan rice paper and twine, he pointed up at the ceiling where a woman's voice cleared her voice to get their attention.
"Hello, Peter," a woman's voice said from overhead. "I'm Friday. Mister Stark's operating system throughout the Tower. I'm available to answer questions, order deliveries, or give directions, if you need them."
"I think you'll have everything you need, and I'm available to answer any questions," Stephen finished saying, with a smirk. And because it deserved it, "I'm going to steam clean my cape."
And just like that, by the grace of David Hasselhoff, Peter Quill was back on Earth again.