The United Republic is renowned for its chrome finished airplanes and well trained soldiers. Funded through investments made by major corporations like the Ford Motor Company or business families like the Rockefellers, the arms industry in the United Republic is the wealthiest in the world. But as the stock markets fare well and the fat cat is eating his generous share of the pie, the ghettos of the Chicago, New York, Montreal, Vancouver, and other major cities in North America are filled with former test subjects of ambitious military research projects, such as the jetpacks for the Iron Troops.
Phoenix has lived in Detroit all of his live. At a mere twelve years of age he got his first job at the car factory down the block that someone named Henry Ford had opened. That was in 1903. They told him he would be contributing to the Republican Dream; the work was dirty and hard. But was there really any other choice to be made by a boy from Highland Park?
He was just Tom back then - he didn’t become Phoenix until much later. Phoenix shifts awkwardly. His back always hurts. In fact he couldn’t move it much at all. The nurses at the hospital started calling him Phoenix. Those nurses, with their impeccable white dresses and cold hands, he smiles. That was the only good this that had come out of the accident, to lay his eyes on those nurses again. The twilight of his life was approaching fast, but he Republican Dream got shattered when he was twenty-seven.
It was a warm summer’s day. Rank smelling garbage lined the streets and the smog around the factories had gotten so thick the sun was barely visible. His supervisor called him and his team to his office and pushed a number of flyers into their hands. The federal government needed him to contribute to the war effort. They needed test subjects at R&D. On the picture in the flyer his president reminded him that he should be proud to live in freedom. He crumpled the glossy piece of paper and threw it in the trash.
They were shepherded to the research facilities in the factory. The man in the suit explained that this new technology called a jetpack could make soldiers fly. After going through a series of complicated looking diagrams and schematics, the man emphasized that Republic soldiers would one day be able to own the skies, and that the test last week only had a 30% malfunction rate. They had made great progress. Just three months ago it was still an alarming 70%.
Someone strapped the metal tanks on his back and explained that he should push this button for take-off and pull that handle to steer. Phoenix pushed the button and started to lift off the ground. For a moment he was flying and thought ‘I’ll be damned’. Then a searing pain spread along his back and he heard his bones crack as he smacked into the concrete floor. There were third degree burns on 70% of his body and severe damage to the nerve system in his back.
Years later, the doctors were amazed that he sort of learned to walk again, and in their eyes he was the embodiment of the Republican Dream.