[June 21, 2021]
The factory hummed as the dozens of machines processed the raw ore. Breaking it down into the sponge like, white powder of titanium.
Doctor Akagi had lectured me on the pros and cons of the Kroll process.
From what I understood, the Akagi process was a modern Kroll evolution. It involved a large scale process already available.
The paperwork had shown that Titanium Foundries was making money hand over fist. Countries world wide wanted access to affordable titanium.
Val Gris had a unique and pure vein that required less processing. Concentrated, pure titanium was very easy to manufacture.
The heavy metal foundries were quick to set up. They were leftovers from when the Avengers attack.
The heroes had swooped in, kicked Modak around, and then left. Which had involved very little damage to the industrial section of the base.
The AIM personal loyal to the cybernetic being had been quick to retreat. They took their unconscious leader and cut their losses.
Akagi had gotten left behind. Disillusioned, she took her loyal colleagues and packed up. The team picked through the remains, and then left via hydrofoil.
The heavy tools then excavated a new base on Val Gris. They had worked during the night, and dug themselves a new home.
A home that included an entire server setup. A AIM server. Backups intact, and now in my hands.
I had to stop and swallow my drool at that information. The potential!
If AIM ever found out we had full copies of their research, blueprints, and technologies... a cleanup squad would be the least of our concerns.
AIM liked to played zero sum games, since it would promote global violence. Unless you crossed them.
Where upon deficits were acceptable trade off to remove rival organizations.
AIM was a cult that had deep pockets. Money was rarely an issue, and they were happy to squander money. So long as it fulfilled their goals of mass destruction.
“This is our last shipment for our current contracts.” Doctor Akagi pointed to the crates currently stacked against the wall.
Tomorrow, a crew would move that onto trucks. Trucks onto the hydrofoil. Then a sea trip to Praia, Cape Verde. Then the airport where an American company had several planes to move the goods back to US soil asap.
I frowned as I heard about how they were transporting the goods. The costs must undermine the profits that Titanium Foundries had.
Val Verde could streamline this by a huge margin. We were closer, and had a proper airport as well.
The next contract would
“Hence we are ready to move onto the next project.” The woman tapped at her tablet.
“The massive 3D printers?”
She nodded, a smile adorning her face.
Without the need to actually pay the high salaries of PhD graduates. Not to mention the logistical costs, and hundreds of other things. Her plans had progressed well.
Val Verde was not lacking in manpower. With the Gris Verde now running under full capacity, materials was becoming less of an issue.
Turns out the island was a treasure trove. The high output of titanium meant we could manufacture durable printers on a huge scale.
Titanium Foundries had issues procuring special resources. Val Verde could supply their limited needs with few issues.
Embargoes or not, money talked.
The new 3D printers was something that could get built across Val Verde. Within a year, we could start to move forward.
A few small steps before the country began to run forwards.
“How are our new scientists fitting in?” I stared at the woman.
A woman who was currently wearing a one piece bathing suit. She had sunglasses resting on top of her head. The only professional thing was her lab coat.
“Frighteningly well. Turns out that four day work weeks, unlimited beach access help a lot. A bonus of more margaritas then I have ever seen, makes happy and hard workers.” She drawled as she reached into her pocket and withdrew a thermos.
A straw popped out as she moved the lid cover, and she began to drink something light red. A strawberry light red.
This woman was already a corrupted AIM specialist.
“I guess AIM fanaticism is poor replacement for sunlight, siestas, and long weekends.” Doctor Akagi sighed. She had one day realized that she, and her colleagues, had institutional syndrome.
AIM had kept them in a tight organization since their hiring. Then when they had broken free, they began to have various degrees of panic attacks.
Now that they were back into a organization, and under tight ‘leash’, they relaxed as if this was normal.
Which it was. Sad as that is.
AIM was a strict organization. Val Verde told them the same, but offered far better perks.
Though they were now all much poorer, it also made little difference. When they were making a lot of money, where could they spend it? AIM had supplied expensive stores that imported requested good.
At least with Val Verde, she could move around the island as needed. Or she would be once her probation ended.
“Have you also considered our robot initiative? The Sentinel Program is old, but perfect for what the island needs. We have long since solved the raw, buggy code. There is no issues unlike early generational production types.”
“Yes. Having heavy support would be important. We have to take as many advantages as possible, but we also need to focus. We don’t have enough resources, and we need more then titanium to make this work.” I nodded along with the doctor.
“Has Kara’s suggestion for the new printing foundries worked?”
“Yes! That girl is a genius!” Doctor Akagi brightened as she recalled that humbling night.
A sixteen year old alien genius. She had taken one long look at the proposed massive 3D printer, and declared it inefficient.
The girl then spent the next six hours modifying the design to a room of PhD graduates. Graduates that stared with slack jaw expressions as they followed along.
More then one of them had slapped their foreheads. The small tweaks fix now obvious flaws. Groups of men and woman muttered as they began to overhaul their designs.
I had lasted an hour, before my brain began to hurt. I turned around, and left to enjoy the beach.
Candice, and Kori were more then happy to follow. For my protection you see.
“It should be up and running in a few months, and then we can begin to improve the island.” Akagi scrolled through her digital notebook.
One of the prominent requests was a newer, cleaner power source. The island was still reliant on coal, and we even had a aging nuclear reactor.
One of their prominent blueprints was perfect. A little inefficient as the cost to build was astronomical. Yet it would give them everything they wanted.
Clean energy. Renewable. Powerful enough, or plentiful enough to power a city.
“Whoops. I need to go. Good afternoon Doctor Akagi.” I waved as my watch beeped.
The blond woman smiled, and waved. She took another long drag from her thermos. She slurped as she had hit empty.
She stared at her thermos, and sighed. Now she needed to walk the extra hundred steps to the kitchen.
She turned off the image of the Arc Reactor.
A tune filled the air as she made her way over to her newest, favorite place in the world. A place that gave out unlimited margaritas.
The setting sun was beautiful.
It was a sight that always set my heart at ease.
Beside me, Kori and Kara were busy chatting with each other. Kara was nervous, but Kori was her loving self. She held the other girls hands as they talked a mile a minute.
My world dimmed once more as I stared at the paperwork before me.
It was less paperwork then ever. With only internal issues dealing with budget concerns on the national level.
Food production was on the rise, and by fall we would have more food then we could eat as a nation.
Death rates had fallen back to normal numbers. Death by accidents, and old age.
A new batch of graduates would soon round out the school year. A new generation of youths would get unleashed onto the world once more.
I signed the document to increase indoor farming. The proposal had plans of restoring old warehouses into something more modern.
More food. More life.
This new legislature would allow anyone access to their own aquaponic systems. A good law, but a power hungry one.
Didn't Akagi say she had a solution to that? Hmmmm. I needed to double check with her.
If anything, I was starting to worry what we would do with all the excess we were going generate.
I wondered if other countries noticed when our requests for food stopped. Though I did become more aware of countries asking for food in return.
Most were nations going through turmoil. I made a note on the side of some of the requests. We were going to send off food, but to who first?
In a year, we could export twice as much food as we consumed. By sending off food aid, rotting food would be a none issue.
Akagi also suggested that we convert some of our excess into compost. A nutrient rich compost that we would then sell to other countries.
She had taken samples of our contaminated soil, and she promised that they would find a solution. A group of scientists had got spun off tackle it.
They hoped to have a solution by summer of next year.
I grinned as the fact that the new scientific division was already paying dividends.
New abilities to manufacture aquaponic goods. New solution to old problems. New vigor in a country that was behind the times.
“Ah! Friend Johnny, they are the approaching.”
I frowned at the ‘them’ but capped my pen regardless. I hit my intercom button.
“Please prepare for the guests, and treat them with courtesy.”
People began to move, and I stood up. I brushed myself off, as Candice entered the room. Her combat gear was absent, as it was useless for our esteemed guest.
“Come girls, let us greet a very special group of people.” I made my way out to the patio.
It was once made of wood, before a fierce storm had stripped it bare a century ago. Then cement, and sand became the norm.
Beside the patio was my pergola. The wooden lawn chairs where I so favored naps.
I made my way over to the picnic table. Simple, collapsible chairs were already set up at my request.
The girls followed and we sat around.
Kara swallowed, her eyes darting towards the approaching figures.
It took a few moments, but then I was able to also see them.
Four people descended.
Superman. Wonder Woman. Green Lantern. Another young woman, who resembled Wonder Woman, but with blond hair.
Wonder Girl if I guessed right. Then I looked at Kara, and as her hair fluttred in the wind, I thought about Doctor Akagi.
Was being blond that amazing?
Kara felt my stare and looked at me.
Her blue piercing eyes. That glowing golden hair reflecting the setting sun.
Yes. Yes they are, a part of my mind whispered back.
“Greetings heroes. Welcome to the Island of Val Verde!” I exclaimed. My very presence was fuller then when we had last met a year or so ago.
“Supreme Leader.” Superman greeted. The other heroes gave their own little hellos.
The man of steel then stared at the young woman staring back at him. She was wearing her clothing we had found her in.
Her original Kryptonian clothes. A white suit, overlapped by a green dress vest. A small white mantel fell over her back.
Krytponian fashion I guessed, but it could have been a school uniform.
The two took hesitating steps towards each other. Kara was smaller then the confident Superman’s.
Then Kara greeted her cousin. Or it could have been a question.
I frowned as I wondered if I could learn Kryptonian.
Would it even be worth it? There was like what? A few thousand speakers left? Most of which were in hibernation. Or had that event already occurred?
Instead of focusing on the world, I had been fumbling around in Val Verde. Now that we were more stabilized, I would have to turn my attention outwards.
“You look much healthier, Supreme Leader.” A soft voice shook me from my monologue.
I looked up to see the blue eyes of Wonder Woman.
“It took for too long, but we are now all eating well.” I smiled. Then I frowned. “Where are my manners?”
I made my way over to stand beside Kori. “Everyone, this is Princess Koriand’r, of Tamaran.”
The bubbly girl greeted everyone with a curtsy.
The fact that she wore her one piece suit we had found her in, made it look odd. She had no dress, and no hem to speak of.
Her smile and poise however, made it work.
“I am the Green Lantern.” Hal smiled in greeting. He always liked the energetic young ones and many considered him a hot head.
His time in space, and as a member of the justice league had taught him many things. He knew that sometimes youths needed to be more bold then reserved.
“I am Wonder Woman, and this is Wonder Girl. My new protege.” Wonder Woman introduced as the young woman in question clasped her fists before us.
“Would you care for some drinks?” I looked over to the waiting line of servants.
They slid into motion.
Within a minute, they had drinks made from raw, fresh ingredients.
I selected one orange one at random, and began to drink the cool margaritas. Wonder Woman accepted the invitation.
She choose a orange one as well. Her eyes lit up as the sweet, and fresh flavor washed away a touch of her day’s duties.
Kori picked up a pink one, and began to drink.
Seeing as how we didn’t die, Green Lantern and Wonder Girl followed suit.
“Kori, please bring two to Superman, and Kara.” I motioned to the half dozen drinks left on the table.
The servants had returned to their waiting positions. They would be ready to refill our drinks, or anything else we required.
“Of course, friend Johnny!” the redhead smiled as she picked up two glasses and floated over to the Kyrptonians.
“Thank you for contacting us.” Wonder Woman smiled as she saw Superman’s wide smile.
The iconic hero was twittering between excitement at meeting another Kryptonian. Clark was nervousness at meeting another member of his own family.
“It is not a big issue. Kara wanted to meet Kal for a while. He was her main priority. Though Kal is not longer the helpless baby. A baby that she was afraid had crash landed somewhere else on the world.”
Wonder Woman stared at me, and I broke my attention away from the two chattering people.
“Family is important to Val Verde.” I explained and the hero nodded.
Themyscira had also held family values in high regard. The more she learned about this isolated country, the more she approved.
Warrior values. Family values. Nice vistas. It was pleasant to discover since her journey to the world of man.
Her mother would still have choice words however. A man leading the people? Nonsense.
“Values I can approve of.” Wonder Woman said as she suppressed a joke her mother liked to tell.
A joke that would have been funny at home, but more delicate in the wider world. Men were strange creatures.
I was about to make more small talk, but Kara was there. At my right.
I blinked at her sudden appearance.
Her super speed was beyond what I could see, and I didn’t know if it was because I was human. Or I was getting old.
“Thank you, Johnny.” Kara smiled. Her face lit up as relief flooded her system.
Sure Kal was no longer a cute little baby. He had grown up to resemble her uncle. A handsome man if she was being honest with herself.
She had to remind herself twice so far that he was no longer that little baby she held only a month ago.
“You are very welcome Kara.” I offered my hand and she shook it. “Thank you for helping us. Your very actions have saved many lives. If you follow in your cousin’s footsteps, then I know you will be as great.”
My deep desires was to persuade her to stay. Though she was close to perfection given flesh, it was her mind that held my opulent dreams.
Though in the end, she was not a citizen of Val Verde. She did not need to serve, and held the freedom of choice.
Besides, she would be a great heroine for the world at large.
Kara smiled. It was a little strained as she had always disliked violence, but she could see the truth in my words.
I pulled her into a hug. She stiffened, but did not stop me.
“Thank you Kara. You will always be welcome here. If you ever need some space to stretch out and relax… well you know how Clara likes to make margaritas for you.”
Kara’s smile deepened as my sincerity. Clara, the head maid, was always happy to showcase her abilities.
The Long House had given her a place of solace. She could cry here, or laugh. They didn’t judge.
The ever empathetic Koriand’r was also helpful. The girl was no stranger to loss, and her support was both wholehearted, and welcome.
“I will visit. Soon.” Kara smiled as she squeezed back, and then let go.
Kori then stepped up for her own hug. The two teared up as they promised to visit often.
Superman stepped up before me.
He offered his hand, and I shook it.
“Thank you, Supreme Leader. Kara means more to me then anyone could ever know.” His smile was wide, and his eyes were glassy from the emotional moments.
“You are very welcome Superman. The offer for vacation is open to the Justice League. Just don’t break anymore glass. Please.” I smiled back.
Superman barked out a laugh, and I chuckled with him.
“I apologize for that night. We were all emotional and…”
I held up my hand.
“You thought that I was intentional in allowing children to starve to death. Broken glass means little to the value of such a young life.” I looked at Superman in the eye.
He stared into mine, and then nodded.
“If there is anything you ever need, please let us know. I owe you a favor Supreme Leader.” His voice was firm.
I smiled and nodded. “Please, take care of Kara. She is a smart and brilliant young woman. But please keep in mind that she had lost everything and then woke up on a foreign world.”
Superman pursed his lips, and gave me one final nod.
Then he turned, and began to fly away.
Kara waved, before she too left us.
The rest of the heroes left.
We watched them leave.
I put a hand on Kori’s shoulder as she stepped up beside me. Her face held sorrow at the loss of her new friend.
“Kori, if you ever want to join her, just say the word. We will find you a home nearby Kara.” I promised as the flying figures vanished.
“Friend Johnny. Do you wish to get rid of me?” Her voice held a hint of something.
I looked down, and those deep green eyes stared into mine.
“Of course not. You will always be welcome here Kori. I want to ensure that you have choices. Like Kara, you have saved the lives of hundreds soldiers. Which in turn allowed us to spare hundreds of mercenaries.”
Mercenaries we had unloaded onto shield. They were more then happy to take care of mercs with potential inside knowledge.
Kori smiled as she took a step towards me, closing the distance and wrapped her own arm around me.
Her physical warmth was surprising. I could feel her against me.
For the first time in a year, I thought of Cheryl’s love. Not the loss. Not the pain. Her warmth. Her smile.
“You are not a weapon Kori. You have as much potential, if not more, then Kara.” I whispered to the red head. My hug tightened.
Kori leaned into the hug, and nodded.
Behind us both, Candice smirked and turned around to leave us alone.
Chapter 21: New Tomorrow
I know that on June 20th, The Reach’s exit strategy included Reach Drones. Drones that guarded Magnetic Field Distruptors.
Johnny remembers, but also knows that the heroes will save the day. He is unable to provide any meaningful help.
With the additional Marvel Universe, the danger is a lot less pronounced then what happened in the show.