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Lift Me Up So High


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Even after her promotion, it wasn't usual for Naomi to be called in to ArcheTech headquarters, but at least the summons had become a less unnerving thing. She'd come in several times already for meetings with the Human Flight research group, getting her measurements taken, explaining exactly how she felt when exposed to various flight conditions and g-forces. They'd made all kinds of interested humming noises and gone off to their drawing boards, promising they'd get back to her. And they had, hence the meeting today. 


Miss Americana was waiting for her when she disembarked on the tenth floor, already wearing a clean new labcoat over her russet slacks and cadet blue blouse. "Hello Naomi, nice to see you again," she greeted the test pilot cheerfully. "Ready to try out the new rig?" 

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Naomi came in. She was already wearing the new flightsuit they designed for her. Of course for hiding it's true intent as her superhero costume as Seahawk it was set to it's international orange and red colors as a test pilot for Archetech. Her helmet was under her arm as she smiled, looking forward to what Miss A had in mind. "Of course,  of course with this new flightsuit this will be quite a comfortable experience. The labcoat squad tossed this to me when I got in... Just one question, should I test masquerading as Seahawk, or fly in my usual test-pilot regalia? Trying to manage this dual life is something I need practice with."


She brushed off the material of her suit. "But I am totally looking forward to it. Let's see what you got, boss!"

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"You'll be in civvies today unless something goes really pear-shaped," Miss A assured her, walking around Naomi once to check her straps and the fit of the suit. "I want you doing everything you can to keep your reactions within human tolerances." She smiled a little. "No letting yourself pass out on the turns just because you'll come back if you die, got it? That's two million dollars of experimental technology you're strapped into, and I'd like to get it back to the ground safely!" 


The scientists didn't take long to get themselves organized with their diagnostic tools and equipment, and soon the entire group were heading up to the flat roof of the square frustum that was the ArcheTech building. Miss A walked to the edge of the helipad painted there, looking down over the slanted wall of the building. "Sometimes," she confessed quietly to Naomi, "I just want to plop myself down and slide all the way down the side of the building like it's the world's biggest, fastest sled hill." 

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Naomi smiled, putting on her helmet as the HUD showing her pack's status and her suit's life support status were online. "Well the Repulsor attachment Gimbals could provide proper thrust compensation to pull that off... I just set the maneuvering banks to keep my feet just above the glass. I like to call it ground skating." She said, doing final diagnostics on her equipment. "I'll keep things at sub-sonic, more like 150 KM/h for now. Just to keep G-forces at a reasonable level. I'll have to keep my G-compensator to normal human tolerances on my suit to ensure I'm not cheating."


She straps on a bright green and a bright red LED light on her wrists, and a white light attached to her belt so she was flight legal. She then checked her life preserver, pressurizing it then deflating it, seeing the elastic material return to a state of what looked like a padded collar to her suit, noting it inflated fairly easily without being interfered with by the straps of the flight pack. "Seems everything's in order. I'll keep to a altitude of 1500 meters, with most of my flight route over the rivers and other bodies of water. That way with any malfunctions the packs repulsor fields at least I can set for a hopefully safe landing." She said, attuning her repulsor field to it's maximum setting. Hopefully she won't hit anything too hard... or with a repair bill.


She stood at attention. "How do I look?"


She indeed looked good, a combination of futuristic with a hint of modern considerations. "Ready to go on your call."

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"You look good," Miss A said with a nod, moving over to monitor one of the diagnostic computers herself. If necessary, she could be in the air to catch Seahawk in seconds, but she had enough faith in the technology to not stand poised and ready for it to happen. "Keep an eye on the HUD for any warning lights, and take it slow to start. There's plenty of time later for fancy maneuvering." She grinned, putting her tongue in her cheek.. "And try not to buzz HAX airspace, they hate that." 

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"Once I get airborn, I'll get into traffic control and tell them I'm in the air, I got the transponder ready to turn on. I guess that's why you told me to get flight clearances from all the airports first... if there is a problem I can use them for backup landing, although I'm going to stay over the bay for a bit to ensure that if there is a problem the landing is wet but soft."


She went over the pack's limitations. "Although hitting the water will mean I wait for a pickup... The repulsors don't seem to work with water and shut off. I'm reading the engineer notes on my HUD."


She walks to the edge of the building. "Here I go!" She hops and starts to Skate along the side of the Archetech HQ, keeping her balance like a skater as she controls the Jetpack's systems. The repulsors working as advertised, not even touching the windows or the frames that held them in, before taking off about 100 feet from the ground into the skies of Freedom City... She turned on her radio.


"ATC, this is NX-42006-J, I have taken off from Archetech HQ's helipad, heading to the South River flight route."


"Roger NX-42006-J. Odd ID number. We're picking up your signature on radar now."


"Thank you, notify the Coast Guard and the Navy at Lonely Point I am setting a course to the outer Bay. I'll need verification on no-flys in the area."




Flying at 150 feet she switches back to the Archetech channel, flying casual over the cold waters of late winter. "Okay, Boss. Started the usual formalities. I'm heading to the Bay to do some basic maneuvers that the Engineers requested."


She smiled, seeing the full HUD display on her helmet now. "I see the GUI is well designed. All the info I need and none of the crap. Seems the electrodes in the helmet help with interfacing with the suit and pack systems like a breeze!"

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"That's good to hear, NX," came Miss Americana's calm voice over the radio. "I'll pass that on to the design team. Are you ready to begin the curve tests?" The next few minutes were spent making wide, very precisely defined loops over the water, using the HUD for guidance. It wasn't the most exciting work, downright tedious compared to the more entertaining things that could be done with a body-mounted flight suit, but they were the bread and butter of a test pilot of any aircraft. Miss A was full of questions on engine pull, gravitational adjustments, whether the suit needed a better internal heater, all the questions that would determine the next generation of suit. "Having fun yet?" she finally asked, a smile in her voice. 

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Naomi actually enjoyed the typical routine, following the prescribed flight routes on the navigation points Miss A provided, although Naomi wouldn't have the benefit of that unless she had a GPS reciever of her own... something to consider getting. "All good. The hover system works to expected parameters. Everything about this is responsive." She said, hovering over the waters of the Bay. In front of her was the Atlantic ocean.


"Well I'm gonna try something..." Naomi said, hovering horizontally... Little vanes opened as wing-like arms fully folded out of the pack. She was no more than a couple feet from the water as she activated the suit's full G-compensation as she kicked the repulsors into full... she went from zero to Mach 1 in a few moments, the suit constricting using everything at it's disposal for a moment, before returning to a more comfortable state. Naomi casually moved across the ocean and she could see herself reflected in the icy February waters. "I'm livin' the dream Mum... I'm livin' the dream!" she thought as she took on a vertical stance flying, it seemed like she was skating, her repulsor field fully compensating as she kicked up a wake behind her. She moved like a figure skater in graceful turns and curves, almost like a fairy on the water with a glowing pair of wings coming out of her flight pack. "My god... Miss A this whole system works wonders! If this was their first attempt... this is totally out of the ballpark!"


She hits the brakes, as a wave of water slams up from the repulsors in front of her as she slows from Mach 1 to nothing... hovering over the Atlantic some 20 miles from where she started. She was breathing heavy from the experience... "This suit... this pack... It's like I was born with them on..."


She looked at her hands. "It's like a dream..."

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"Glad you're enjoying yourself," came Miss A's amused voice. "That's actually something like a fourth generation prototype, but it's the first one up for serious stress-testing. So far, everything's green across the board. Why don't you try taking it up to..." 


There was a moment of noise over the radio, background voices interrupting whatever Miss A had been about to say. She came back on a moment later, sounding curious but not particularly worried. "NX, it looks like our satellite telemetry is picking up an unusual reading about five miles south-southwest of your position. It may be nothing, just a boat, but it's near Lonely Point and we keep a lookout in case someone's trying to approach the prison. Want to go see what's up?" 

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She turned off her transponder and there was an immediate response. "NX, what is your condition?"


"I'm okay..." She said, "I'm waiting in the water for Archetech's techs to swing by. Suit's working great. Real toasty."


"Affirmative, We'll keep an open line in case you need Coast Guard assistance."


"Roger that."


She was obviously lying as she was hovering ten feet above the water. She stuffed the lights and switched her suit and flightpack's colors to the navy blue with white trim of Seahawk, keeping reds on the collar of her suit and at several other locations... She switched to a secure channel with Archetech.


"Okay Miss A... Got your message, Seahawk's checking it out."


She went into a cruising flight mode, about 100 mph, staying five feet above the water, looking for the boat in question...

Edited by The Osprey
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"Keep us apprised, Seahawk," Miss A responded. "I can be out to back you up within five minutes if necessary." 


At first, there was no sign at all of the disturbance ArcheTech had picked up, just miles of cold gray-blue ocean with the shoreline in the distance, marked with the forbidding blocky outline of Blackstone just beyond the coast. Then Seahawk spotted a flash of color in the waves, white and red and orange, then more gray blue. As she approached, she could see it was a small boat, probably a recreational sailboat, its mast snapped off and trailing in the water, its hull listing badly to starboard. On the deck were three figures in orange lifejackets, who looked to be frantically bailing. 

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"Boss, if you got a position on me, I got three boaters in distress, the sailboat's probably a loss... I'll keep you appraised." She said, opening her helmet to pull down the mask on the hood of her flightsuit. She closes her helmet again and races to the scene.


Pulling up alongside the boat she assesses their situations. "What happened? Is this a leak or something else?" She said in a thicker accent than normal, to attempt to hide her identity further. Of course her Welsh accent she was easy to use. "Do you have anti-exposure suits on-board or a life raft? The temperatures in these waters are... not the best. Anything I can do to help? I'd rather keep everyone on the boat considering the water temperatures."


There is a lot here I need to know.

1: Is there a leak or can this boat be saved? Knowing they're in cold waters, it'd be a bad idea to tell them to abandon ship.

2: Can she lift all three with her abilities? She's not that strong, and dropping one of the sailors could be fatal.

3: They can answer if they got anti-exposure suits or a life raft aboard.

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"Copy that, NX, we have your position, we'll alert the Coast Guard. Do you need my help?" 


All the sailors looked visibly relieved at the arrival of the superhero. "Storm came up, damndest thing I've ever seen," one of the sailors told Seahawk. "We were just out for a daytime sail, private dock on North Bay, weren't even going far. Then there were shapes in the sky, maybe people flying, and all of a sudden it's raining cats and dogs, thunder and lightning, the works. Didn't last more than five minutes, but we got hit three or four times. Wind broke the mast, the radio's frled, and we're taking on water from somewhere." He shook his head. "We put on our life jackets, but we don't have anything else. It was just supposed to be a short little sail!" He sounded somewhat aggrieved now. 

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Seahawk nodded. "You have trash bags then on board? I need them." Seahawk said, quickly hovering over to the sails, and taking the largest one and another off of the busted mast lines and all. "This'll be risky but I can make a makeshift raft... but that'll be a stretch. At least I can try to keep you three mostly out of the water until help arrives. But if you got trash bags I want you to start blowing them up now... I'll need 8 of them..." She said, grabbing the starboard side and turning up her thrusters to full to heave that side level. "Otherwise we gotta hope I can keep everyone out of the water until help arrives. To be honest if you don't got those trash bags I'm going to have to do a plan B..."


She put her finger on her radio button as she was still on Miss A's channel. "Yes, I'm taking measures to ensure these people can stay out of the water until you get here, Ma'am but if you can grab an actual life raft so we can tow them it would be appreciated. There was something at base that would have one... What I got isn't going to be the best solution, but it's all I can manage. And call the Coast Guard. We will need them."


What she eluded to was the fact there was a helicopter on the helipad when Seahawk left, and it did have a life raft for emergencies...

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"Just keep them out of the water and we'll take care of it," Miss A promised, her voice entirely confident. "i'm on my way, and the Coast Guard is scrambling a chopper as well. It sounds like there was a brief skirmish this morning with a weather-controller from Schenectady and it caused a storm over the water. They're going to make sure nobody else got caught up in it." 


While two of the sailors tied trash bags together, the third one continued bailing, and between that and Seahawk's heroic efforts, the boat remained afloat on the choppy gray sea. There were a few close calls when waves came awfully close to the flight pack, but though it coughed once or twice, it kept working. Finally, after a very long six or seven minutes, a speck appeared on the horizon, flying low and fast. It resolved after a moment into Miss Americana, towing something that Seahawk recognized as the largest cargo net for the hoist built atop the helipad. 


"Ahoy to the sailboat!" Miss A called down cheerfully, lowering herself to hover a few feet above the deck. "Everybody okay? Seahawk, you doing all right?" 

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"Well that's a better idea..."


She shouts up. "Well less greetings, more pickups!" Seahawk shouted as she set the tied together trash bags over her shoulder. "Sorry, needed to give you guys something to do to distract you... to prevent a panic. I knew Miss Americana was in route. I'm sort of new in town so we're working together." She said to the sailors. "Although I had a plan B... or was it C, I don't know... Now, I'm going to be keeping the net stable while Miss A does the heavy lifting, okay? Just hold on to the net and we should be back on dry land shortly."


She waves Miss A down to let the sailors climb on to the net. "Try to get as close to Miss A as you can... I'm... not the best lifter around."

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"No, no, just have a seat!" Miss A instructed the sailors, "You're getting a free ride back to shore, boat and all. Coast Guard hates it when we leave things just laying around out here!"


Flying over to the prow, Miss A began to arrange the net so the towing lines stayed on the deck while the net itself began to wrap around the boat till it hit the waterline."Seahawk, I'm going to lift up the boat just a foot or two by the hole where the main mast used to be, that's the strongest point on the hull right now. If you could take the net and loop it around the bottom, just like a hammock, we'll carry the whole thing over to Lonely Point." 

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Seahawk lets Miss A take the lead, making sure things stay stable as the net is set up so they can get this boat back to somewhere safer than where it was.


Although she was feeling more and more as if she didn't know what she was doing. "So what next?" She said, seeing the last of the makeshift hoist was set up. "I can keep things steady while we get everything back. That and keep an eye on our passengers."


She started to think that she was not up to this superheroing thing. She could fight, but not be able to operate on her own when it counted.

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"Great, that's perfect," Miss A replied, gathering up the lift lines and checking to make sure everything was aligned evenly. "We might get a little wind as we get close to shore, you know what to look for. Oh, and the technicians have been watching your telemetry feeds this whole time, and they want to thank you for all the new data on the suit in use." With a grin, she kicked off from the deck and took to the sky, and a moment later the boat was flying too! It didn't go very high, never more than ten or fifteen feet above the water, but it did move quite fast. Within minutes, the shore was in sight and the boat rocking lightly. 

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All Seahawk did was keep the boat stable, countering any rocking by adjusting her flight systems to provide counterbalance. As the shore came up Seahawk made sure to keep the boat straight and level for setting it down. With how everything worked out, it shouldn't take much effort. "Okay, what now, Miss A?" She asked setting up to make sure everyone made it back in one piece.


At this point she wanted to get the boat safe to shore. "Hey, that sandy spot looks like a good spot to set her down... nice and soft."

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"Looks good," Miss A agreed. "It's going to start to tip when I set it down, so I'll hold onto it while you help the sailors disembark." The boat settled onto land with a soft thud, and as promised, immediately began listing slightly again. With Seahawk's help, the extremely relieved and thankful sailors were soon back on solid ground, and within minutes the Coast Guard was arriving to take over the situation. 


"So, you just took the prototype through a real mission," Miss A commented to Seahawk as they watched the wet sailors being bundled into blankets and given coffee. "What do you think?" 

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Seahawk flops back into the water. Mentally exhausted. "There is... a lot to think about."


"To be honest my performance is great, but to increase my lifting capability I would have to lose mobility in the form of a exoskeleton... But... There is something that has been crossing my mind lately." She said, letting her hand glow with one of her own powers. "If I can amplify the power of my strikes and the doctors back home told me that my psychic potential was turned inward... what would happen if I infused this energy into my own body..." She mused. "It's a thought."


She pushed away from shore for a bit. She knew the flightpack was off line, but she wanted to see how she floated with it on. "Could take some foam and install it somewhere in the pack. The buoyancy is sort of imbalanced." She said, trying to keep vertical with her life preserver but the weight was pulling her back. She wades back to shore. "Otherwise..." The flight vanes pop out and the repulsors blink back to life spitting out whatever water got in "...everything seems to be functional. I'm going to take the suit and pack for a spin. Just a tour of the city later on to test a theory. With my own abilities."

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"Go ahead, you should have enough fuel for a few more hours," Miss A told her. "I'm going to take the net back to ArcheTech and do the pile of paperwork the Coast Guard is gonna want." She smiled ruefully. "I kind of think that maybe I should've become a test pilot myself." Miss A folded the net into an awkward but carryable mass, then gave Seahawk a pat on the shoulder. "You did a good job today. If you hadn't been out there when you were, those men might have died. Have fun on your flight." With that, she took off into the air, arcing towards Hanover in a flash of blue and red against the clouds. 

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Seahawk opened her front faceplate to her helmet, happy she remembered to pull down the goggles/mask that were part of the costume function of her suit. A couple Coast Guard men ran up to Seahawk to ask her a couple questions on the side which she was more than happy to oblige, before scratching her covered head from the sudden attention.


She blushed as she looked over to the people she helped save, suddenly knowing what she needed to do to be even better.


"Miss, can we get your codename down for the record?" One of the Coasties asked as Seahawk got up.


Turning to them, she smiled. "My Callsign is Seahawk. See ya in the skies." She said as her helmet closed up again and she took off.


She made a beeline towards the western forests with glowing blue wings behind her, wanting to see if she could find some heavy rocks to test a theory...

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