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Supercape

Around the World in Eighty Minutes (IC)

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GM

1st June 2011

"Welcome...to the future...of aerospace travel!"

Brum buda bum bum-bum bum baaaaah! roared the trumpets, as Karl Schmidt, head researcher of the Hanover Research Institute pulled a slightly too ornate gold rope, which pulled the silver coloured tarpaulin off the Z-17 experimental plane.

"We call it the Zipcraft!" he joked to the assorted scientists, engineers, politicians, and military personnel who had attended. "We have already tested a variety of prototypes, but today the Z-17 goes on its first test flight, around the globe - manned! and we believe we can achieve this in under eighty minutes. "

He started taking the small group around the craft. Security was tight.

"The Z-17 flies around the very edge of space, but not space itself. By cutting down friction, it encounters almost no resistance, and can achieve velocities that would be impossible in conventional air space. It is the off spring of the space shuttle and a 747" he explained.

"Naturally, one can see the future military applications for such a high altitude plane, and this is why security is so tight. For today's test flight, one of AEGIS' finest agents, Victory, will be accompanying the Z-17, to monitor and provide assistance and security, although we do not anticipate and problems!"

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Heavy footsteps echo through the hangar, as Victory walks up to the craft. As he walks, he checks the wrist of his artificial arm, the binders hidden inside it opening and closing, as his body makes a last check that his aerodynamic functions are all set to go.

"Well, to be quite frank, I wish I could be the one inside, just for the sake of history. But I know the crew, and they deserve the honor as much as anyone."

Oddly for him, his entrance his fairly mundane. Normally he likes to make his grand, sonic-boom inducing entrance to big events, but this one's definitely not about him, and he knows when not to try and show off. He takes a step up to the ship and gives it a little pat, a small clang ringing out.

"Of course, you'd need the best for something like this. Right now, this baby's the only thing that can come close to keeping up with me. Gotta make sure the pilot is sharp enough to handle that kind of speed."

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GM

"And alongside Victory, we have a very special Crew! Let me first introduce Lt. Col Flywheel, of the US Airforce, on loan for this mission!"

The dashing young Flywheel entered to polite applause, a handsome fit blonde man of somewhat short stature, in fully military attire. He gave a genuine smile and a crisp salute.

"And also, for her technical expertise, our chief engineer and designer on the project, Doctor Kessler!"

Another round of polite applause accompanied a thin lady of similar stature, with slightly unruly hair and a brown civil flight suit. Dr Kessler wore thick rimmed dark glasses and a thin, terse smile.

"And finally, our passengers! our test subjects, the simian six!"

Accompanied by their handler, a burly, but kindly fellow with a bald head and broad build, came six heavily built and well manicured apes, with clean white overalls.

The apes got the loudest applause of all.

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While each crew member came up to the stage, they passed Victory, who gave them each their own salute. Even the apes. He couldn't help but grin a little at the applause for the apes. Sometimes he's surprised that people still use them for experiments like this.

While he knew Flywheel and Kessler, Victory hadn't gotten the chance to meet the apes' handler. He knew he should have taken the chance to know more about the apes' part in the experiment before, but there is only so much time he's had available as of late.

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GM

As the final preparations for the test flight took place, and the simian six were lead to their passenger seats with the promise of the finest banana's, Flywheel took a moment to have a word with Victory.

"Good to have you with us, Victory" he said, giving a salute that was only partially formal, and mostly not. He gave a warm smile as he looked up at the cyborg. "Guess you can't wait to get into the air again, knowing you? Well, with this old bird I might just keep up with you! I have given the prototypes a few flights, but this is the first fully functional model. And now we get to test it with a live crew, instead of drones. The real deal today! if we pull this off, the next few years could revolutionise air travel. I guess the military will be lighting fireworks over this baby too..." he added, with a little less enthusiasm.

Flywheel has a long and well decorated career in the air service, but was perhaps not the biggest fan of war. Because he had seen it.

"Anyway, if there is any trouble, I'll be sure to let you know over the airwaves!" he grinned. "Just keep talking to me. I doubt ill much conversation from Kessler. Can't get more than two words out of her at once. She just sort of grunts and gives me a cold stare. Lives for her baby, I guess..." he added, nodding at the Z-17.

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Victory returned the salute, and then gave Flywheel a friendly shake of the head.

"Well just make sure you make this thing look good. I know you can. If you impress them enough, who knows? We could get enough funding for an entire fleet of these babies. I'll make sure not to get in your way. Or leave you in the dust."

Victory gives a little grin there, and lightly smacks his fellow pilot on the arm with his still-flesh hand.

"All kidding aside, though, I know you'll do great. Just stay relaxed and don't let the fireworks bother you too much. Believe me, I know how it can get with those things going off all around you. Fortunately, you have a few more layers of sound-block between you and those than I did last time."

His metal hand makes a motion as if to clean out his ear, although it is still covered by his helmet. With a last nod, he moves over to greet Doctor Kessler

"Hello, Doctor. I'm sure this is a great day for you, finally getting to show off what your hard work has created."

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"Well just make sure you make this thing look good. I know you can. If you impress them enough, who knows? We could get enough funding for an entire fleet of these babies. I'll make sure not to get in your way. Or leave you in the dust."

"All kidding aside, though, I know you'll do great. Just stay relaxed and don't let the fireworks bother you too much. Believe me, I know how it can get with those things going off all around you. Fortunately, you have a few more layers of sound-block between you and those than I did last time."

"Fireworks, buddy...how did you guess?" sighed Flywheel, as he headed off to the Cockpit.

"Hello, Doctor. I'm sure this is a great day for you, finally getting to show off what your hard work has created."

The thin-lipped Doctor gave a curt grunt, which Victory could just about make out as "thanks" before she also turned heel and stormed off to the cockpit, looking preoccupied and angry. To say she was rude would be an understatement.

Whizz! Bang!...

Bang! Whizz!...

Flywheel was right, as the F-17 rolled out of it's hangar, and on to the runway, a small but rather impressive firework display saluted the aircraft, along with another romping tune from the band.

It was not long before the F-17 fired up its engines and sped off down the runway, to launch into the skies.

"You ok, there, Victory? just keep talking, fly shotgun, and see if you can keep up!" joked Flywheel over the airways as directed the F-17 into the edge of the atmosphere...

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Victory shook his head, his face showing a small sign of amusement after the Doctor's response. He knows how she is, and he knows she isn't trying to be rude. It's just her way.

"Talkative as always."

Victory finishes his own final pre-flight checks, then began to walk out to the runway, just behind the jet. When it picked up speed and roared down the strip, Victory gives the crowd one last wave and rockets off behind. Once they were in the sky, Victory connects his signal to the jet.

"Testing, testing. Can you hear me in there, Flywheel?"

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GM

"Testing, testing. Can you hear me in there, Flywheel?"

"Roger, Victory! It's looking good up here, all systems checking out and we are in the air, ready to fly!"

The F-17 was fast enough even in "conventional" airspace, and was already hitting the very outskirts of the earth's atmosphere, and beginning to speed up.

"You sure you can keep up, buddy?" Joked Flywheel, as he hit the engines that had been especially designed for this environment, on the very edge of space. With a soft roar, that was entirely to do with the thin atmosphere poorly conducting sound, rather than the power of the engines, the F-17 hit full power, and sped off, many times the speed of sound...

"Come on, keep up!" roared Flywheel, clearly enjoying the sheer speed of the craft.

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While Victory had let the plane get a head-start, since the test is just for it, and he's only a "bodyguard", if that would even be the proper term, he can't see why he can't have a little fun. With a grin crossing his face, Victory kicks his jets up a higher gear, propelling him forward. He does have to keep in mind, however, that they're getting awful close to the very edge of the atmosphere, and his mask auto-deploys to cover his mouth.

"Hey now, pal. Just because you got a new set of wings...."

Victory kicks up another notch, and the next thing that shows up through the viewing glass of the cockpit is Victory flying ahead of it, giving a big thumbs up, then tilts it to point at himself. If he didn't have the mask up, a big, cheesy grin would've been viewable for miles around.

"...don't you forget who's king up here!"

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GM

"Well it's nice to see the little guy has still got something to offer!" laughed Flywheel, now cruising comfortably at the dge of the Earth's atmosphere.

"25,000 mph and steady" he reported "all looking good. A little bumpy on the way up but its levelled out nicely. The earth looks magnificent up here as always, you can even see the curvature!"

The F-17 was comfortably cruising across the Atlantic for a solid fifteen minutes, and was not far from the east coast of Norway, when Flywheel checked in again.

"Hold on, Victory, got a few odd readings here... nothing too serious, but it looks like I have some loose wiring back there. Kessler is going to check it out. I hope our monkey cousins haven't been chewing on anything they shouldn't have!"

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While it didn't sound terribly dangerous from how Flywheel said it, Victory knows from personal experience that even the smallest flaw can mean life or death. His demeanor became a bit more grim, and he turned down his own engine to drop slightly behind the plane.

"Roger that. I'll see if there's anything visible from out here. Let me know as soon as you figure out what the problem is."

Once dropped behind the jet, Victory switches his vision to full analysis mode, and scans over as much as he can get a look at, bobbing up and down to see all angles.

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Victory's powerful analytical vision scans the craft, checking every little inch for any signs of outside tampering. While he doesn't seem anything causing a problem from the outside he does notice various oddities in the internal state of the craft.

"I don't see any damage, but from out here it looks like you're losing temperature. It's gradual, but it's there. Same thing with your altitude. At this point in the test, you should be heading higher up, but it seems you're losing a few centimeters every couples of seconds. Do you see anything from inside?"

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GM

"Roger that" replied Flywheel, a note of caution in his voice. "She is still flying steady, I can't feel any difference. But something lit up on our control panel, and our silent brains went to check it out. I'll just run another diagnostic from here, see if I can't make some sense of it..."

The radio went dead for a while, as Scandinavia flew past underneath them and the East Coast of Russia swam into view.

"Yeah, you picked something up. We have lost a tiny amount of power. I don't understand the engineering precisely, but we aren't going to maintain the sub-space altitude with the way the engines are working. Its...strange. Its not quite like they aren't working, or are less powerful. More that they aren't working quite the way they should do..."

"Damn, and not a good place to abort the mission, either. We are just about to hit Russia. "

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"Don't worry. If we have to abort, I should be able to carry this bird back to Freedom. You just keep on going. I'll watch from out here."

Victory cycles through his various vision modes in rapid succession, while starting to fly in various angles. Perhaps there was something he hadn't seen? A goblin on the wing, perhaps? Victory flies much closer to the plane. It was a bit of a dangerous range, but there could be something very small that he hadn't yet been able to see.

"Watch your sides, Fly. I'm coming in close..."

Victory zooms his vision in, scanning each and every inch, but putting extra focus near the engine. A strange situation, there's no doubt. He had personally helped inspect the ship using his hyper-enhanced senses,and there wasn't a single chip or gear out of place. Something was in there. Or maybe....out there?

Victory opens up his enhanced hearing, which he normally keeps regulated around other jets to hone out the roaring engines. He winces at first from the sound, but plays around with the filters, and eventually reaches a setting that buffers the roar, while specifically looking for vibrations coming from outside the range of the engines.

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GM

A few moments later...

"Victory!" yelled Flywheel over the phone. "Somethings happening! Losing Power!"

The craft was now passing over East Russia.

"Loosing altitude! what happening?" came the call, as the F-17 dipped, and started to plummet back to earth. "The engines... they are... overloading? This can't be happening! Kessler, there you are! what's going..AAAACK!"

His communication was cut short by what might have been a scream, and a burst of static. And with that, the communication link went silent as the F-17 Started to dive towards central Russia.

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An overload? But the power was just falling!

As strange as it is, Victory has no time to worry about the cause. Now when the jet had begun a more rapid descent! Hurtling out of the sky, Victory kicks his rockets into high gear, chasing after the plummeting vehicle, and, more importantly, the people inside.

Zipping like a silver flash of motion, Victory gets beneath the craft. His mechanical muscles whirr and grid as they reach up, every single rocket attached to his body blazing with power as he tries to use his momentum to reverse the jet's course.

"DON'T WORRY EVERYONE! I GOT YA!"

A few moments pass, as Victory struggles to keep the plane steady. But he doesn't hear a response back....

"FLY? FLY, DO YOU COPY?!"

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GM

"FLY? FLY, DO YOU COPY?!"

The com link just fed Victory static. After a few moments, even that went dead.

The mighty F-17 started dipping more severely, its engines still on full throttle. As it lost altitude and dropped from the edges of space, it began to hit more dense atmosphere.The plane shuddered and jolted from the turbulance, and Victories Infra red sensors could see its wings and nose hub heating up from the plummet.

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The static from the radio was discouraging, but that was something Victory couldn't look further into just yet. Not with the whole plane burning up over him. He'd have to get the plane back up, and slow its descent at the very least.

He kicks his boosters up into high gear, and tries to push the jet up. If he could get it back into the altitude it was made for, there was a chance he'd be able to help it coast along without burning up. And only then would he be able to worry about checking the status of the crew.

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GM

The mighty Jets of Victory were up to the task - by seizing the underside of the F-17 he pushed it back into the outer rim of space.

The radio link once again burst into life.

"Curses, I might have known you would interfere!"

It was the voice of Kessler! harsh, cold, and bitter.

"But don't you worry, there is always a plan B! hahaha!" she laughed, equally coldly.

The undercarriage of the F-17 opened, and out dropped six apes! all kitted out in oxygen masks, jet packs, and high tech helmets full of electrodes and coils. Victories enhanced vision could also make out that each had several kilo's of explosives strapped to their chest.

And were carrying what appeared to be high tech rifles!

"The simian six!" laughed Kessler.

"So what's it to be, army boy?" she taunted "Stop the plane, or stop my little pets?"

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