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Just Another Working Night

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July 1st, 2013, 8:59 PM

Freedom City, "The Fens"

 

"How's the specifications on the prototype coming?" Jack said over the cellphone as he banked left around a neon sign.
"We're not getting the same corrosion problems the Friedrichshafen model had thanks to that WE43B alloy we bought up, but we're having problems with the beta-alumina solid electrolyte matrix," Louis said, his slight Quebeci accent showing through when he spoke. "The electrolyte saline mixture isn't reacting as well with the BASE as we'd initially hoped," he explained.
"It's probably the mixture. Use the secondary BASE solution we had for the solid state ceramix matrix. We had better results with that one anyway," Jack said as he banked right between an alley, saying out of sight, or at least attempting too.
"....the sim is working now. My god Jack, I can't believe we got this thing to work as it is. It's half as heavy as the Friedrichshafen model but it's still getting eighty-three...no wait, eighty-FIVE percent fuel efficiency out of biogas!" the engineer said, obviously exalting at the mechanical triumph. "Jack, if we take this to the Pentagon, we'll," he began, but Jack instantly cut him off.
"No. The Pentagon, Louis? They don't need MCFC tech for their vehicles. Look, I worked for AEGIS for four years, you have to trust me on this: the Pentagon has directed-energy weaponry, telepresense technology, and now things like bio-modified soldiers and cybernetics running through it's think tanks constantly, and some of this stuff it's had since 1984. Absolutely zero of these high-tech solutions are getting to the civilian market. I understand the need to properly equip troops, but some of these technologies, especially the biochemistry and cybernetics ones, could really help people, but hospitals don't have it, because the military wants it all for themselves for 'national security' reasons. The world doesn't need more super-science gadgets, they need super-science solutions." Jack said with an edge in his voice. He softened up as he continued speaking.
"Louis, remember when we started FreedomCon, we looked at groups like Grant Conglomerates, corporations that develop cutting-edge bio treatments and cybernetics and said we wouldn't do that? Well selling off these MCFC schematics will be the first step down that road. What I'm proposing is civilian applications for it. Cars that burn their fuels with 85% efficiency, and zero carbon waste? Hell, if you combined it with a steam engine add-on you could increase efficiency by another twenty, twenty-five percent! I'm talking about being the next Nikolai Tesla here, revolutionizing the energy industry! Let's not be Edison and rip off Tesla's ideas for profit margins here."
Louis was silent for a few moments before answering. "You're right, Jack. Sorry, I got carried away," he apologized. Jack shook his head, even as he landed on the brick ledge of the rooftop and crouched to mimize his visibility. "It's alright. Hey, if it makes you feel better even without the Pentagon contracts we're already growing so fast that we'll overtake MarsTech in a year or less. Freedom Consolidated isn't just going to make money. We're gonna save the world with this stuff." Jack said, and Louis laughed a little, as did almost everyone who heard Jack say things like that.
"If you want to save the world Jack, go join the Freedom League, they do it more often then we ever will," Louis chastised. "I'm still waiting on their invitation Louis," he quipped back, smiling at the inside joke. "Look, I have to go, the people I've been meaning to see are here. We'll chat later," he said, hanging up the comlink earpiece under his helmet with a tap.

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The old brickwork of the ledge held Jack even as he leaned on it staring over the lot where the van he had been following had finally stopped. The warehouse lot was near the edge of the Fens, right on the coast line, with the sound of the South River gently lapping at the edge of the concrete coastline almost louder then the sounds of the cars in the populated slums beyond.
Jack's pearch was on one of the taller taller structures overlooking the area, building who's bricks were so dirty they were practically black. A chimney spat acrid black smoke nearby as it jut out of the rooftop, and Jack leaned forward as the van pulled into one of the old warehouses on the pier, one that appeared completely disused from the outside: the fence was broken in many places, the windows were shot up, and the gates weren't even locked.
Make the destination uninviting so that nobody bothers think it's got anything worth anything inside of it huh? That's a bit more clever then I let myself think the Trolls were, he thought to himself as the van vanished into the warehouse doors as someone inside pulled them open just enough for the van alone to fit. "Getting sloppy, Jack," he muttered to himself quietly. Since he'd attented Harvard for his MBA and got FreedomCo up and running his detective skills had waned. He needed to bring them back up to par, otherwise he wouldn't be doing anyone much good down here in the Fens.
They were poor enough that it had taken him some time to actually find out about the Trolls, despite how unsubtle they were. The gang was fairly large, decently organized and armed, having established itself in The Fens and parts of Greenbank in the last two years. What made them so dangerous was the dealing and excessive personal usage of the street drug "Max": a super-steroid derived primarily from manaka root, a substance found only on American soil. The root when ingested increased strength, reflexes, agility, and stamina immediately, more efficiently the pain-inhibiting drugs and more effectively and swiftly then any anabolic steroids: it wasn't just a "muscle-builder", but a true temporary boost to all physical aspects of the body. The root had been used by the Minuteman, Freedom City's very first superhero back in the Revolutionary War, and a more potent, refined version was used by his grandfather's compatriot Jack Simmons, better known to the country as the superhero called "The Patriot".

It make Jack sick at heart to see a legacy like that perverted into a street drug. "Max" was less effective then pure manaka root, but the effects lasted longer, and additives made it almost instantly addictive on top of the incredible sensation getting high on something that improved your physical body dramatically provided....even though the vast majority of users eventually died from heart failure as the drug overtaxed their caridovascular systems. The Trolls usage of it had...changed many of them somehow. The drug they were using was altered, becoming less likey to kill someone immediately after the high wore off (all the better to get repeat customers, Jack assumed) but having queer mutagentic properties that frankly disturbed Jack: many of the more consistent users among the gang were now hulking brutes with permanently increased strength, capable of smashing brick with nothing but a solid length of pipe, exhibiting decreased intelligence and rational thought processes, and mostly strangely, green-tinted skin.

These mutated gangsters and the monsterous behavior the rest of the gang showed while on Max gained them their nickname.....though looking at their hideout now, it's possible that there was another meaning behind it: the warehouse lot was almost directly underneath the Mona-Glenn Bridge to South Freedom. "And we all know where Trolls live, don't we?" Jack said to himself as he stood up.
His wings were wrapped around him, two edges clasped near his throat like a cape, and with a thought to his psychoactive controls in his helmet they unfurled and extended to their full length, their pseudometal material swiftly shifting from a metal mesh-cloth state to a semi-rigid surface state that he could flex around and into place for maximum maneuverability while flying. With a single heave he lept off the building and towards the warehouse, intent on fiding out as much as he could about the gang before he started to really do some damage to the organization.

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