"This is reporting that's worth being done, honey! Can't you see that?!? I know you're scared--I'm scared too, but this is a chance to get the truth about what the war is like for the Mechos out to the people! The kind of journalism they tried to train out of us after college when we hired in to our shiny media jobs!"
"I don't want you to go!" she fired back.
"Well, your father does," I tried on a smirk as she looked away, "he sees it as his chance to get rid of me." I let it drop as she whirled back.
"You and my father... you can both go to HELL!"
"Look, I have no idea when they are going to take me. This could very well be the last chance we have to be together for a long time... do you really want this fight to be how we leave things?"
"You have no training, no experience, and you'll be out of contact for who knows how long; maybe even dead! You can't just drop this on me and expect me to be okay with it. I know you want to make a difference, that's part of what made me fall madly in love with you, but this is too much!"
"Of course it's big, maybe the biggest story of my career. But the conscripts don't have any training or experience either. There are rumors that they are seriously ill-equipped as well! These people have been drafted, no matter what illusions of voluntary service the State produces.
On the way home from work. Take a detour through the ghost town south of Downtown.
38.79% of LA's population (at last count) moved away after the attack. Whole swaths of the city abandoned due to dangerous levels of fallout, or collapsed buildings. They just recently got the streets all cleared of debris.
This is where I do my heavy thinking. On the street, cruising where almost no one but the most deranged squatters will live. Thank the gods for free anti-rad supplements.
"Your car has been tagged as 'stolen.'" said the voice on the other end of my cell.
"Is that why the helicopter seems to be following me?"
"Put on a show. You're a multiple murderer already 'scripted into the Mechos. Escaped three days ago during a transfer. Your name is Stephen Patrick Conley; and don't let the cameras get a clear view of your face."
Well, I never expected to use this on monitored streets.
I reach under the dash and flip the hidden toggle switch, an old-school touch I'd insisted on. Sometimes a button just doesn't do it for you, know what I mean? The car started her unrestricted growl. A few things can unlock a newer car for performance. Being a licensed member of the SCCA, an amateur and professional racing league, I have legal access to gear that black market Tunerz get busted for every year. From weekend track-days and autocrossing events, to rally or drag races, these are the few sanctioned events that remain for gear-heads and speed freaks to get their thrills these days.
I stopped short of the full 'White Box' replacement ECU, as those are strictly regulated and legal for dedicated race vehicles only. Plus they are impossible to mask or explain away when the Bureau of Motor vehicles does their random yearly tech inspection. The best way to unlock your vehicle's potential is expensive, but well worth every penny. No replaced ECU for my car, but I have some custom boxes that allow some driving excitement. No more banging on the GPS rev-limiter. Your vehicle's Global Position is cross referenced these days with local speed limit databases, and your electrical motor output and combustion engine RPMs as well as your available gear selections are electronically limited to prevent speeding or dangerous maneuvers. About the only places you can legally hoon it up anymore is on the unmonitored roads (no longer listed on maps, privately or maintained, for profit, or abandoned). The only exception is the entire Great Free State of Montana.
For those of us who want some vehicular freedom on everyday roads, we choose our colors.
The easiest setup to get is a "Blue Box." Buy yourself an off-service, former law enforcement vehicle, and get the proper hacked activation software, and a damned good masking program. Voila, full power and capabilities whenever you need an asphalt freedom fix.
Ambulances and Fire Department vehicles (including volunteers) have "Red Boxes," which are useful, but only for point-to-point unlocking.
Mine is a "Green Box," the most sophisticated you can run, one step below the "White Box." This one unlocks the limits by constantly swapping in false GPS input data at random intervals to fool your car's stock ECU into believing you actually are on a race track or at some legally sanctioned event.
None of the boxes are worth a damn without a companion "Brown Box." This is the one that helps CYA by routing the real GPS data to your car's Event Data Recorder, or "Black Box," as it is generally called.
These are ordinary software mods that anyone can get, if they know the right lawbreakers. But the cherry on this hot-car-sundae is that my Hybrid systems have been upgraded and customized. A full solar-web clear coat was the second most expensive aftermarket option to have installed, the first: next-gen tri-mode miniature electric motors.
These babies can run off the battery packs in the car exactly like the old electrics did, but they can also run off the circular banks of capacitors that are arrayed around the motor, taking up all the space saved by the miniaturization of the in-wheel motors. In my case, I chose a system involving two sizes of caps. The large Caps store 1.5x the power of the conventional battery storage, and the smalls have a combined rating of 3x the capacity of the battery. What's more, the Cap charges can be transferred up and down the line, so if energy expensive maneuvers are required, empty large Caps can take the energy needed from the small, or you can transfer the large charge down to the smaller ones. The small caps even have the ability to transfer their charge to the vehicle's stock battery system over time. An elegant system using the newest tech hardly anyone has seen, yet.
Suddenly the sirens of two Interceptors shake me from my technological reverie. Tires screeching, sirens blaring, the cars come out sideways from East 15th, a block behind me. I know I'm sure to regret this, but I'm grinning like an idiot. The only thing I'd need to complete that mental picture is some drool.
I take an immediate right on Olympic from South Santa Fe Ave, using all 4 lanes, going into a slight power-slide. I thumb the pad on the steering wheel which quickly accepts my print and vein signature, enabling the large Caps. Take the pedal to peg-town and my stomach protests as someone sits on my chest, growing the distance between the Interceptors and I.
Chopper rotors sound above me, back and to the left. As if to smugly remind me that I'm not going to be getting away that easily.
I pull my hat down lower, let go of the wheel, and flip them the double-bird for a half second.
I'm almost to the LA River when Reds and Blues appear from around a corner across the bridge. Three more cruisers, coming across the River. The Big Caps are spent, I'm not going to make it past before they can block me off. There's no way I can take or give a hit at this speed, especially from a heavy beast like the Interceptor. So I key in the rear-view feed in the dash, and almost double-take at the space they're leaving me.
This may not be my smartest move, but I yank the E-brake anyway, and convince the steering components that yes, I really do want to go *that* direction now; and at this speed. The tires howl in protest and I stripe the pavement as smoke begins pouring from my wheel-wells as motors fight momentum and I execute the classic J-turn (or "bootlegger's turn," if you prefer). All that practice paid off, but I'm forced to use the thoughtfully provided sidewalk to avoid the two units trailing me, and traction control spits and fights the double hop of the curbs.
Back up Olympic to hang a fast right on Matteo, then all the way up to a right on East 8th, one last right and then I'm climbing the ramp to the 10. Screw the cliché, Freeway it is then. Let's burn some complex hydrocarbons, fellas.
I hope I'm not getting the viewers at home too hopeful.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
© 2010 Nicholas Cincinat (@SexCPotatoes)