Under the harsh glow and buzzing of electric arc lamps the man feverishly sketched in a leather-bound journal. The man had three days of stubble on his face, his hair unkempt and greasy from lack of washing. Crumpled pieces of parchment and wax paper lay all around the desk, proof that he'd been working and eating at the desk for days. Leaving only to relieve himself and sleep a few hours each morning, Franz Liesklart had been attempting to perfect a design for an electric motor that would be completely contained. His ultimate purpose was to create an engine that could be safely used on hydrogen airships and submarine. After three days of failures his fervor had only increased. It was a gift of Liesklart's to know when a plan would fail. This had allowed him to create various electric vehicles in the past quite efficiently. None of his prototypes had caused this much of a problem. The trick was insuring that the batteries could successfully transport power to multiple engines without any leaks or sparking while still being efficient, durable, and lightweight.
Franz was by no means repulsive in appearance but neither was he dashing. A rather normal face with strong lines and defined cheek bones was framed by long black hair. His dress was better than average but still more functional than fashionable. A dark brown vest covered a gray long-sleeve shirt, the sleeves rolled up above his elbows to allow for uninhibited movement. His trousers were black and pinstriped and clashed horribly with the vest, but overall, the ensemble meshed strangely well. He never gave much thought to his appearance but now, in the midst of his airship engine problem, he was at his messiest. Sweat ran down his face and he constantly swiped it away with a damp rag so as to avoid dripping in his sketch book.
It was the dead middle of 1873 and the London laboratory was swelteringly hot, even late at night. Exhaling in frustration Liesklart crumpled yet another page of his journal and tossed it aside. Setting down his ornate fountain pen he leaned back in his chair, wincing as his cracking back protested to the sudden movement. It was the first time he'd sat up straight for several hours. He twisted around in his chair to stretch, prompting further pops from his back and another twinge of nerve pain. This project was going to permanently damage his spine if it went on much longer. Standing and stretching further he fought off a yawn and stumped to the door that led into the parlor of the two bedroom flat he was renting. Continuing through the building he reached the swinging kitchen door and stepped inside to get some meat from the cold box. It was nearing the end of its edibleness but for now it would offer essential nourishment before Franz went back to work.
Taking a few moments to drink water and eat his cold ham Liesklart pondered the problem he was struggling to solve. This was how he worked, focusing totally and completely on the task at hand to the point of obsession. The scientist was nothing if not dedicated, that much could be said for him. Suddenly, while glancing vaguely upwards at an arc lamp he was struck by pure inspiration. This was it. This was the answer; he had found the solution to all his problems of insulation, efficiency, and power transport!
Sprinting through the door he raced for the lab to capture the design that had struck his mind like lightning in his sketchpad. Vaulting into his chair he grabbed his feathered pen, spraying black India ink across the room in the process. A smile spread across his face and he began to feverishly sketch the plan for the airship he had designed in his mind's eye. It wasn't only the engine that had to be modified but the entire craft. That was the secret that would solve all the issues. Of course the end result would be more expensive than the British government had wanted, but such was life. If scientific progress was limited by things like affordability nothing would ever be accomplished. Besides, Liesklart wasn't the one paying the bills and he assumed that since the British had rescued him from the clutches of the Kaiser's soldiers and brought him to England money was no object. The British were desperate for an airship that could move more quietly than a steam or coal powered hydrogen craft and without leaving dark trails behind it.
Franz finally finished the drawing late in the night, taking three attempts to get it just right. Even when he knew exactly how to solve an issue he took pains to ensure the result was just so. He was thorough as well as determined and the finished design was three pages and showed all necessary aspects of the craft. This breakthrough was worth disturbing the British command in the middle of the night. Stuffing the designs and specifications in his black briefcase he ran down the hall and out the door. He sprinted down the street towards the military offices several blocks away. This would change everything.