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Nightmare at 200,000 feet (IC)

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GM

1st February, 2012

House von Archeville

"And so, Doktor Archeville we would be honoured if you would accompany the maiden voyage of the SX1!"

David "Dave" Davidson was a businessman through an through. Slick suit, slick tie, slick sports car, micro-thin computer, micro-thin mobile. Business card. The works.

For all that, he was actually quite a nice guy.

He was getting on for fifty, and successful in his company: Hanson Enterprises, a pan-European engineering company that operated successfully in many avenues, but perhaps most famously its top of the range fleet of planes that travelled across the world.

The SX1 had been a decade in the making. A scramjet based airplane that could zip through the very edge of earth's atmosphere, circumnavigating the globe in an hour. It was a luxury plane, and had luxury prices. Many thought the cost was so steep that it wouldn't be a business. Even Hanson Enterprises acknowledged that it would barely break even. But, they said, it showed that their company was serious.

But there were, of course, concerns. Safety being the prime one.

As far as Doktor Archeville could tell, the SX-1 was indeed a masterpiece of engineering. Very well designed, innovative, and - whilst complex and advanced - totally functional and totally safe. True, it would cost the earth to build, and not much less to fly, but it was a great leap forward.

"We would really appreciate you coming on the first flight, Herr Doktor!" said Davidson. "It's just publicity, you know, but - well, we aren't going to make any money on this. It's actually going to cost the company. But we really believe this is the way forward. And if you came along, well...with your reputation...it would help dampen fears, and the world can proceed apace with sub-orbital transport. It's one step from there to proper expansion into space!"

Davidson's arguments were sound, and there was no reason to distrust him. Hanson Enterprises had a good reputation for being decent, and it was true, from the presented Data, that the company would actually make a small loss running the SX-1.

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Kristin was excited. She had received the news just the night before that her sister was finally being released from hospital after the car accident. Desperate to be there for the celebration, Kristin had practically begged headmaster Summers to let her fly home for the week and after grilling her about her grades in maths he had finally relented. The amount of homework assigned for the week was rather intimidating, but that hadn't phased her in the slightest. She was going home.

Dragging along a suitcase that was more than half full of presents for family and friends and carrying another bag slung over her shoulder she hustled into the airport and made her way over to present her ticket. "Good morning!" she said cheerily to the lady behind the counter. Sure, she had a 20-plus hour flight in front of her, but nothing could ruin a day like this.

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GM

Glow

"Ah here we are madam..." said the check in lady, punching away at her computer.

"If you just put your luggage here...and here...such a long flight to Australia eh?" she smiled.

"And..oh..what have we here..." she said, after plugging in KRISTEN JONES into her computer.

"I...I think you have an upgrade..." she said, squinting at the screen. "Yes! special promotion, our millionth flier! fancy that!" she said, with a mixture of surprise and shock.

She turned to face Kristen.

"Well, you have been upgraded to V.I.P with Hanson Airways" she smiled, her service reflexes kicking in "or, I think, very very important person!"

Soon, Kristen was introduced to Marco Angelico, a perma-tanned italian-accented suit come butler. He was handsome, and dressed in an expensive suit, and well skilled in the art of being a perfect valet.

"May I take your luggage madam? Australia, I see? A long flight...normally...but as a V.V.I.P, you will be flying first class with our new service. It's maiden voyage. The flight time will now take only two hours, spent in our newest aircraft, where you will he in the lap of luxury. Complimentary meal and drinks, of course! are you allergic to lobster or caviar?"

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Kristin deposited her suitcase as asked, then raised an eyebrow as the check-in lady mentioned an upgrade. That'd be nice, some leg room on my twenty hour flight!

She looked even more incredulous when she was told that not only was she being upgraded but she was being moved to an entirely new flight. On a new service. Millionth? Surely they get more people through here than that? Oh whatever, so long as I get home...

She shook hands with Marco as he arrived, feeling distinctly under-dressed in her comfortable jeans and jacket as she was greeted by the impeccably attired Italian. She handed over her bags as she fell into step with him. "Uh, I am kinda allergic to the seafood." she replied "I'll have to stay away from the lobster sorry. But wait, did you say two hours? What kind of plane can possibly get to Australia in two hours?"

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GM

Marco smiled as he whisked her through the VIP section of customs and security. She did get the full scan, but, well, they seemed so nice about it.

"The maiden voyage of our new airplane, the SX-1" explained Marco, all smiles and aftershave.

"Designed by over years by our top engineers, the SX-1 has been our little secret. Oh, it has leaked out here and there, of course. Rumours, half truths, and even truths buried in amongst them. But today, the SX-1 Is on show for the world!"

He took Kristens Luggage and took her straight to the plane itself, docked to the VIP segment of the airport.

"Here we are! the SX-1!"

Marco expalined some of the specs, it's design, and made careful mention of its testing and safety. But the actual plane itself made more of an impression than his speech.

It just oozed slick. A grey bird, all lines, with stubby but elegant wings that rippled with strange looking engines, and a nose so pointed it looked like an arrowhead. It almost looked like a stealth fighter, just larger, more powerful, and more, well...

...more sci-fi!

"Let's step on board, shall we?" said Marco "I will be your personal flight attendant!"

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"Of course, Herr Davidson, I understand completely."

Archeville knew Hanson Enterprises well enough. While working in his native Germany, before moving back to Freedom, Hanson was one of numerous companies for whom he'd done some freelance consultation work. He had not worked on the SX1 directly, but he would not be surprised if some of the suggestions he'd made for the Hanson projects he did work on ad made their way into this new craft. He was surprised to see Davidson using this 'beta test' flight in such a public manner. He must be very confident of its ability. And it is solid enough, no flaws are immediately apparent, though an object in motion acts quite differently form an object at rest. So asking me along is not just for publicity's sake, for hopes of an endorsement, but also as insurance in case anything goes wrong. Clever. I wonder if there will be any other heroes, perhaps 'undercover,' on board?

Davidson had of course let word out that Archeville would be on the SX1's maiden flight, so of course there were numerous reporters and paparazzi for him to get through. "Yes, yes, delighted to be seen again... oh, quite busy, yes, I was even, ah, off-world for a bit... ah, yes, I am still working with the Freedom League... heh heh, no, no ring for Fulcrum yet... well, I- ah, there is my flight! Must be going!"

Archeville was lead to his seat by Yvonne, a 5'4" redhead (whose brown roots were starting to show) with a dancer's body, who spoke to the Doktor in German (though with a noticeable French accent); were it not for his 'new' monogamous mindset, his attention would be wandering from monitoring the plane's performance. He was just about to sit down in his VIP section seat, when Marco escorted Kristin in.

I saw the name Yvonne from a list of "common female German names," which made me think of

Yvonne Craig, who was TV's Batgirl. Yvonne was a member of the corps de ballet of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, hence the French roots; her version of Barbara Gordon was a brunette who wore a red wig as Batgirl, hence the red-with-brown roots hair.

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Kristin made her way though security without complaint or incident and followed Marco through the very classy VIP terminal, listening to his spiel about the fancy new aircraft she would be riding. While she wasn't the most tech-savvy, she was enough of a nerd at heart to ask a couple of questions and was amused when Marco subtly evaded them without providing any real information.

Her first sight of the SX-1 stopped her cold. "Alright, that thing is hot." she decided as she looked at it with her hands on her hips. It looks like something out of a movie! Man, Serge is going to be so jealous..

She followed her "personal attendant" onto the aircraft, and for some reason felt a little bit of a chill as he led her to a seat. As she stowed her backpack and dropped into her surprisingly comfortable seat she looked around the cab, then did a double-take at the handsome blonde man just across the aisle from her.

I know that guy from somewhere.. she thought as she wracked her brain, trying to work out exactly where she'd seen his picture.

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GM

There was not much time for socialising before the plane took off.

Aside from Dok and Kristen, there were two other passengers. One was Dick Hanson himself! Beyond wealthy, the 50 year old man was still in good shape and unusually tall. His unruly grey hair was juxtaposed by a sleek suit that looked like it had been made from silk. He nodded at Kristen and shook hands with Doktor Archeville.

"" he said enthusiastically in perfect German ""

Hanson was accompanied by a muscular Japanese man, who looked like half bodyguard and half personal assistant. he certainly had the build of a bodyguard, but one look at his penetrating eyes would persuade anybody that he was barely less intelligent than his immediate superior.

The final passenger was a reporter. Well, it was a newsworthy piece.

"Hey, its the disaster from down under!" said Jack Jackson as he spotted Kristen "Damn, fellas! watch your step around her!" he laughed, without humour. "I hope your plane is built to last, Mr. Hanson!" he added.

He leaned a bit closer to Kristen.

"Hey, I should thank you for getting me this gig! After I reported on that pirate gig you got yourself into, I got a promotion! well, I followed you to sea, now to the air, eh!"

With that, he snapped a picture of Kristen with his enormous camera.

The interior of the plane was luxurious, to say the least. It was beyond first class and into the realm of private jets. It looked like it had everything but a Jacuzzi.

"Welcome the SX-1" said Marco, who seemed to be the head steward, with Yvonne his second mate "we have everything you could possibly want here. Cinema, Beds, Gym. Even a Jacuzzi!" he added, pointing to the rear of the plane.

"And I believe it is time for take off!" he said, strapping himself in, as the engines kicked in and the mighty plane started down the runway.

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Kristin was interrupted from her attempts to work out just where she'd seen that handsome blonde guy before by a frustratingly familiar voice. Jackson. Of all the reporters in Freedom City they had to send Jackson. Of course.

She smiled icily at the man as he leaned down to "thank" her for helping him get promoted. "There you go calling me that again Mister Jackson! I haven't caused any disasters thank you very much!"

She gave him a bit of an icy glare as he leaned in closer to her. "Now now, none of that was anything to do with me and you know it. That Glow chick did all that stuff remember? Oh wait, didn't your story mostly claim that it was your investigation that led to the Coast Guard raiding that ship? Clearly nothing to do with me!"

At least it's only a two hour flight. He can't possibly bother me much in two hours! Kristin thought as Jackson was ushered off to his seat. Seemingly moments later the SX-1 was in motion, and she was amazed by the sense of acceleration as it raced down the runway and soared into the air.

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"," Archeville smiled, ""

The Doktor glanced around the cabin, again admiring the sleek lines of the vehicles, and also mentally taking note of his fellow passengers, smiling and nodding at each of them. Ah, that is the new Claremont student, the telekientic from Australia. Glow, I believe is her name. I wonder how she got on here? Related to someone, or- oh, there is that odious reporter, Jackson... ah, no escape, I suppose- wait, no, he is talking to her? Hrm, I may need to read up on this girl, see what she has been up to. Easy enough to do with my- wait, what did that man say? A cinema? Gym? Jacuzzi?

He turned back to Davidson, a puzzled look on his face, "

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GM

Dave Davidson smiled at the Doktor and started his lengthy explanations on the technology of the facilities onboard the SX-1, which partly took advantage of the sub-orbital nature of their transit. It was all well within the Doktor's grasp of course. Hanson engineers had done a good, innovative job.

The SX-1 Roared into action, its acceleration beyond that of a normal aircraft. And the ascension carried on..and on...

Looking out of the window, the sky became thinner, paler, and crisper, and the roar of the jets became less. The continued ascending, and ascending, and accelerating.

From this distance, all could see the curvature of the earth clearly. They were not in space, but rather floating on its edge, where the air was beyond thin, and there was barely any resistance to the SX-1's continued acceleration as it sped around the globe.

"What do you think, gentlemen?" said Sir Hanson "I must confess, this is beyond what I expected. It is truly incredible up here...thank you for sharing this with me...."

It was fair to say his entrancement was shared by all the passengers:

From Jackson, who had almost forgot to take snaps, so amazed was he by the view...

To Dave Davidson, who, whilst fully briefed on the voyage, was still stunned by the reality...

To Marco and Yvonne, who tried to remain professional host and hostess, but had broad grins on their faces of pride...

And even to Hansons Assistant, the Japanese man, who looked lost in a moment of serenity as he calmly observed the earth...

......

Beep Beep

Kristen's Phone cut in, with a new message.

"Stop me"

It was from an unknown number. From somebody called only "G"

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It was quite simply astounding. The acceleration and climbing ability of the SX-1 were amazing and as it reached cruising altitude the ride was glassy smooth. The most breathtaking however was the view. Kristin's seat wasn't ideally situated for taking in the vista, so as soon as she was allowed out of her seat she had made her way to one of the windows.

"Alright that's just the most amazing thing ever," She breathed as she looked out, her nose practically pressed against the viewport. "Is that a thunderstorm over there? Check out how the clouds light up! That's fantastic!"

As enthralled as she was, the beep and vibration of her phone receiving a message took a few seconds to register. "Huh, that's weird," she said quietly as she stepped moved away from the window and dug it out of her pocket, practically bumping into the handsome young man whose identity still eluded her. "We can't possibly have phone signal all the way up here can we?" she asked with a glance at him as she thumbed the button to bring the message up.

"Stop me"

Her heart skipped a beat and the surprise was clear on her face for a moment. Aww that sounds bad..

The young telekinetic forced an impassive look back on her face, then glanced around to see if anyone was paying attention to her. I hope this is someone pulling a bad joke...

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Archeville was, as ever, the odd man out -- he'd seen all this before, many times! The first time was nearly a dozen years ago, when he first started working in earnest as a superhero in and around Germany. That first time, I got such a sense of connectedness to it all, seeing everything below me, how it all interconnected. And such radical shifts in perspective often helped me to figure out some problem I was facing! Since then, I would come up more and more to look at it all, and created a small orbiting platform to rest and recharge on. The platform, many years and expansions later, became the seed for ArcheStern, which has allowed so many others see such breathtaking vistas.

Of course, it would be rude to stand there looking jaded, so the Doktor smiled and nodded as the others tagged him into their excited exchanges.

"Oh, indeed, thunderstorms look quite different from up here," he explained, "in fact, the thinner atmosphere has allowed scientists to measure things in such storms we normally could not detect, such as Gamma ray and radiowave bursts. There are many satellites up here to detect such phenomena -- though, not to worry, even at this height they are far above us, so we should be in no danger of colliding with one!"

Okay, I probably could have said that a bit better, but- oh, what is this?

Archeville happened to be looking at Kristin just as she received the odd text, and saw both it and her reaction to it. He drew a small wand-like device form his lab coat pocket, covered in buttons and studs and blinking lights, and waved it around the area, "no, normal phone signal should not be able to reach up here...."

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Kristin raised an eyebrow and stepped closer to Archeville as she tried to get a better look at the device he was waving around. "Alright, what's that thing?" she asked in a low voice, doing her best not to draw the attention of any other passengers. "Some kind of sensor or something?"

If he was the one sending the message I doubt he'd be waving that thing around right in front of me.. maybe he can help?

She held up her phone a little. "Not that many people have my number, so someone is definitely messing with this. Who are you anyway? I know your face from somewhere but I just can't place it."

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This is odd, I cannot trace where this signal is coming from... I do not even recognize the signal. Who could-

He paused at Kristin's questions, and his face registered a very rare thing for him: sincere confusion. "Who am I? You... you do not know? How... I... " He stammered a few moments more, then was silent for a bit, fixing her with his Rhine blue eyes.

Is she joking? Even if she were unfamiliar with my scientific papers, I have been on numerous television shows, written scores of articles for popular science magazines, and, let us not forget, a member of the Freedom League! How can she-

Whoa, whoa, settle down, now. Hunh, I suppose after all I have been though, all I have put others through, I still get caught up in my celebrity status, and am put out when others do not acknowledge it. Definitely need to watch that.

Well, if I am to introduce myself, I may as well do it right! Well, as much as I can given the confined space.

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The confusion gave way to a smirk, which broadened into a grin. He cleared his throat, shook a lock of long blonde hair from his face, straightened up (emphasizing the seven inches of height he had over her), and held his gadget up like a torch. "I, young lady, am Herr Doktor Viktor Archeville, Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist of Science! For over a dozen years I have worked to make sure Science and Technology are used to aid and advance humanity, and not put to villainous ends; to my great honor I was inducted to the Freedom League two years ago."

"And this little gadget is my Elektromagnetischer Schraubenzieher, my Electromagnetic Screwdriver! With it, I can harness the energies of the entire electromagnetic spectrum -- gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared light, microwaves, and radio and television television signals -- for a wide variety of effects, as well as interface with any technology I come across!" As he spoke, the device shifted slightly, folding and unfolding little antennae and cables and blinking lights, and made hissing and popping noises as it scanned through the radio and tv signals reaching out from the planet below them as they raced off into the void of space. He looked at it, smiling, but thee glared at her phone, "which makes my inability to trace that signal all the more frustrating!"

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Kristin couldn't help but smile at the sheer bewilderment on the Germans face, and his rather grandiose introduction did nothing to lessen her amusement. "Oh right!" she said with a snap of her fingers. "See I knew that I'd seen your face somewhere before. How could I possibly have forgotten a genius billionaire playboy science-type-guy?"

She stuck her hand out for him to shake and grinned, matching his introduction with a much simpler one of her own. "Kristin! Pleased to meet you!"

She took a step close to Archeville. "You could maybe keep your voice down and be a bit more subtle though! Don't want to freak people out!" she hissed. "If that thing can track anything like you say then how come you're not finding the signal? Does that mean that whatever sent the message is already shut off?"

And if that's it is it a good thing or a bad thing?

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GM

As they spoke, the SX-1 continued its orbit of the earth.

"It truly is incredible!" said Dick Hanson, staring out of the aircraft, before turning to the whispered conversation of Glow and Doctor Archeville.

"A pioneering feat of enginering, all running without a hitchhey whats that!" he snapped, as a trickle of water wormed its way towards the cockpit between the seats.

"Ladies and Gentlemen" said Marco, smoothly "It seems we have a slight malfunction with the Jacuzzi, and regretfully we have had to turn off the water supply "I do apologise for the inconvenience..."

"Damn odd..." muttered Hanson "...that never happened on the preliminary test flights. I thought we had that cracked...." he said to himself, somewhat vexed.

As he spoke, the Elektromagnetischer Schraubenzieher spluttered, sending out sparks, and promptly died in the Doktors hands.

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"Subtle?," he repeated as he shook Kristin's hand. "Pfaugh! I am a Man of Science, I have nothing to hide!" He turned slightly to flash a smile at the other passengers, and a wink at Yvonne.

Yeah, I have still got it.

"But... perhaps you are right," he stage-whispered to the young heroine, "there is some wisdom in taking a, ah, humble approach to things. Now, if you would hand me your phone so I can access it directly, I- oh." He paused as he saw the water trickle by, "that cannot be right." He turned to Hanson, but before he could speak he gaped in horror as his Screwdriver sputtered and died. "No, that cannot be right at all."

Too localized for an EMP. Targeted? From where, and by whom? and is anything else on me affected?

The Doktor laid his Screwdriver down on one of the chairs, and pulled part of his coat aside to check his belt. Kristin could tell it was no simple length of leather used to hold up his slacks, it was covered in tiny circuit-like designs and studded with tiny buttons and lights. "If my Screwdriver was knocked out by someone, or something," he said grimly, "it may have knocked out my Gravimetric Belt, too."

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"It's not supposed to do that right?" Kristin asked as the Elektromagnetischer Schraubenzieher died a small but spectacular death. The little trickle of water winding between the seats was even more of a concern, and she glanced from that to the apparently high-tech Gravimetric belt that Archeville wore.

"What exactly is a 'Gravimetric belt' then?" She asked quietly. "And if something is messing with your technology that could be pretty bad seeing as we're on a technological wonder of an aircraft, right? Maybe we should go take a look at this Jacuzzi and see if you can see what's wrong with it? I'm pretty sure there isn't supposed to be water running down the middle of an aircraft like that."

She headed over to Marco. "Hey Marco, can we go and take a look at some of the other facilities on this thing? I want to see what a gym and a cinema in a jet like this look like!"

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GM

"Of course, madam!" said the unflappable Marco "if you would just care to step this way...mind how you go..."

He stepped over the water seepage with a wrinkled nose.

"Pardon the water madam. Perhaps a Jacuzzi was a bit ambitious for a airplane..." he commented, before showing her to the rear of the craft.

"Here we are, Madam, our entertainment room..." Marco opened the door to a rather compact "cinema" of 8 seats and a large projector, complete with games consoles and popcorn holders.

"And the gymnasium..." he said, spinning around and opening another door into another small room which held two multi-purpose resistance machines / treadmills, and the obligatory posing mirrors.

"We also have shower facilities at the rear" he continued, pointing at the very back of the craft, where the water was coming from "along with our jacuzzi, although unfortunately we have had to turn off the water supply due to...technical difficulties..."

Meanwhile

Just as the Doktor started to inspect his belt, it too, fluttered and sparked, and died.

"Having a spot of bother, there, Doktor" said Hanson, a half smile on his face "glad to see we aren't the only ones who had the odd glitch!" he commented.

Out of the corner of his eye, through the window pane, the Doktor spotted a shadowy figure on the plane wing. As soon as he looked, it was gone....

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"My Gravimetric Belt is... was," he corrected himself with some frustration, "what allowed me to fly, and protect me from the injuries all those supervillains I face would want to inflict upon me. But it seems whatever shorted out my Screwdriver has knocked it out, too."

"But aside from the problem with the hot tub," he turned and pointed towards the leaking water, tracing it up the cabin and finally pointing at the cockpit, "the SX-1 appears to be operating just fine. Which makes me think this is a targeted attack upon me, rather than some general naturally-occurring or man-made effect; the water problems are due to an initial range-finding/targeting-calibration shot they took in order to properly hit me."

He picked his Screwdriver up and returned it to its pocket in his lab coat, then checked his other pockets to make sure any other devices in them were not sputtering or smoking, and that he could still access the folded-space pockets that were, like his home, bigger on the inside. Very calmly, so as not to cause panic, he went on, "now this make me wonder several things, foremost who is doing this and why. Equally important, though, is: what is next? Yvonne, Marco, Mr. Nakamura," he nodded towards the three assistants, "what can you tell me of the SX-1's safety features? Specifically, evacuation and-"

There was something on the wing! Some... thing on the wing!

"- how well trained the pilots are in emergency nonpowered landings," he continued without skipping a beat, owing to his superhumanly fast mental processes.

"I never said," the Japanese assistant to Mr. Hanson began, "how did you-"

"I am a Doktor -- knowing things is what I do." He turned to Hanson, "now, my good man, I would presume that, even as confident as you are in this craft's performance, you would not skip such important -- and FAA-mandated -- precautions, hrm? Parachutes alone would do us little good at this altitude, but there is perhaps an escape pod?"

What was that? Another one of those damnable 'gremlins'? No, those things had to touch technology to disrupt it, nothing has touched me, and the planet itself -- so far -- is operating okay.

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GM

Hanson took over, smoothly replying.

"Of course, of course. Please don't be alarmed, Doktor. In the event of an emergency, the SK-1 has a unique safety feature! we anticipated your very concerns..."

He smiled, and leaned back in his chair.

"The entire passenger compartment here, if required, can be ejected!" he grinned "now, granted, it is not the most comfortable experience. We did some simulations however, and it works perfectly!"

He grinned.

"In simulations!" he added, maintaining his confident grin.

He paused slightly, before leaning over and explaining.

"The capsule then heads towards earth. It has an ablative shielding - a special foam, that shields us from the friction. Then, when we are in lower orbit, a series of calibrated parachutes eject, gliding us to safety. You see, with just this lightweight capsule, we weigh very little - it is a simple matter to fall gently to earth. And of course, we have all safety mechanisms - GPS, food, rations, water, radio equipment. The works!"

"All we have to do is eject!" he grinned broadly.

Warning! Passenger Compartment Ejection Mechanism Jammed!

Warning! Passenger Compartment Ejection Mechanism Jammed!

Said the polite automated female voice.

Hanson's face went a deathly pale shade.

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Kristin, still in the rear section of the SX-1 whirled to look back into the cabin as she heard the computerized alert. Ejection mechanism jammed? That sounds really really bad. She glanced at Marco as she started to walk quickly back towards the passenger compartment. "I'm starting to wish I was flying in the cheap seats still.." she muttered as she passed him.

"See I'm on a plane and I just heard a computer complaining that the ejection mechanism failed!" she exclaimed as she strode back in to stand next to Archeville. "An experimental plane even. Is everything going alright Mister Hanson? Because that really doesn't sound very good?"

In quieter tones she spoke so that only the Freedom Leaguer could hear. "I didn't see anything back there that might have caused that water leak, but the high-tech stuff is a bit beyond me. Do you have any idea what's going on here?"

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Archeville nodded and actually smiled a bit, "an ejection pod does seem the best contingency; at this altitude passengers could not simply jump out with a parachute, they would need a pressurized cabin. I presume the ablative foam would also seal any breaches, to maintain atmospheric integrity and-"

That's when the alarm sounded. His smile shrank until his lips were closely pursed.

"Of course it is jammed," he muttered. He glanced around the cabin, caught Kristin's question, and gave a tiny shrug. Then back to Hanson, "I presume there is an access hatch where I can reach the mechanism and inspect what has happened, and possibly start repairs?"

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