Echo-1: Part 13
Once again I was seeing a synthetic female and once again she was the spitting image of Dixon, in her frame anyway, the rest of her was completely unique. Her hair was crafted into a kind of floppy mohawk and it was a dark forest green. Her eyes were electric and flashed like lightning. Her pupils formed a perfect black equilateral triangle ringed in yellow light. Her body was covered head to toe in tattoos. There were monsters and spacecraft bursting into flames. There were motorcycles and symbols from rock-n-roll bands I had listened to when I was in high school. Oddly in the mix was a portrait of John Denver with a big heart around it. Her face was filled with designs and colors. There wasn’t a part of her not decorated. On her back was a giant swan song angel, with great white wings. I noticed after staring a bit too long at the naked woman that she had no nipples. I reached under my shirt just to check.
“You don’t have any nipples either, we aren’t mammals anymore.”
She was right, we weren’t, and I didn’t.
“You should also note that your conventional mentality about clothing is ridiculously outdated and completely species-specific. Besides I look amazing, our bodies are badass, and we always suit up before doing anything too dangerous.”
She held out her left forearm which was marked with the famed logo, RoBo-a-GoGo.
“Vransky told me you know how to ride. Your little droids aligned the blue one specifically for you.”
I took notice of two metallic cubes about the size of washing machines; one green and one blue. The blue one pulsed and came to life. It opened up and doubled in size. There was chair inside and Wingus and Dingus were sitting on it. They floated out and magnetically attached themselves to the rear.
“You can ride feet first or head first depending on your style. Whatever’s comfortable.”
I walked over to the vehicle and climbed into the seat, which flattened out when I leaned back. The top cover and windshield slid into place and completely sealed me in. It was somewhat like a recumbent bicycle with no wheels but felt more like luging in a mini-fridge. I was aware that the vehicle was floating. I looked over as the green bike opened up and the tattooed lady climbed in facing forward, her vehicle adapted to fit her perfectly.
Over the bike-to-bike communication system and doubled in my mind, I heard her. “I’m the type that goes down the waterslide head first.”
And then what was clearly Black Sabbath came blasting over the intercom.
“Call me X. Now let’s see what you are made of!”
Her bike wrapped around her body shape with energy squares at the front and back. I assumed mine must look similar, but with two twin robots attached to the back. It felt less sleek looking on the inside but was rather roomy and comfortable. X tore off down the road in a single burst of silent energy and was out of sight in a moment.
“Proceed… Follow,” chimed in the robotic voices of my twin passengers.
Forward. With a thought I was in motion, accelerating at mind-bending speed. Thoughts of 0–60 in so many seconds seemed laughable. The Robo-a-gogo truly lived up to its reputation. It was the personification of a fast. The controls were not with your hands like one might imagine but in your mind. There were manual control panels on the inside, but the steering and navigation were linked to my neural transmitter.
I should mention the handling. If by any chance, my fine reader, you are a car buff or a motorcycle fan, trust me when I say you would sell your soul for a chance to drive one of these bike suits. It moved with the slightest intent and it could do amazing things. I went faster and faster, feeling for the first time g-forces inside the ship. Overtake. I was side by side with X in a moment. She smiled.
“Ok, you’re my kind of rider, let’s try some more.”
She pushed the speed even faster. Digital readouts projected into my field of vision through the windshield to help guide me on a path. I didn’t need them, the bike and I had become one. We moved with unstoppable purpose and force. We merged out onto the large lower level ship highway and really opened it up. Engage Overdrive. It was like the autobahn at the speed of light. I caught up to X again. This time she smirked through the windshield at me. She slid her bike to the outer lane, then up the side of the wall. I followed.
Right. Transverse. Just as my perspective shift was settling into driving on the wall, avoiding any protrusions and jumping turn-offs, the ceiling turned to glass and revealed the sea above us. X swerved and slung her bike onto the ceiling. Transverse invert. I followed again and settled into what felt like driving on water. We raced on and on upside down.
“Ceiling elevation change ahead. Collision imminent.” Touted the twins from the back.
A red light pulsed on my readout projection. X went even faster. At the last minute, she cut her engine, fell off the ceiling, and somehow rolling in midair flipped her bike over and landed right side up as she hit the throttle again. She took off down the covered tunnel.
Engine Brake. I commanded my engine to stop but realized too late I needed to use the manual shut off. I hit the edge at full speed and rocketed down toward the ground. Buster ignite. I fired the buster and went even faster. Rotate. I half turned before smashing into the floor with a fire of sparks, rolled over once, caught the energy grabs, then went flying up the opposite wall. I flew past X and shifted back down onto the ground. Transverse and normalize.
“Totally fucking hardcore!” She approved of my chaotic driving.
I assumed she was impressed with my near death experience. She pulled up next to me and advised taking a shortcut. We rocketed down a side exit and then up an airshaft traveling toward the top of the ship. We spun around and around in the tunnel. My sense of up and down should have been completely lost, yet I was able to navigate the bike. Possibly the absence of inner ear balance issues?
“Punch it, baby!” X rocketed ahead again.
I gave it all it had. Pushed beyond overdrive. Everything around me was a blur. The tunnel suddenly ended and we were literally shot through the air with a sonic boom, like being fired out of a cannon. We rocketed across a giant hangar bay and landed down a row of a thousand transport ships. We hung a dead man’s curve left at the end of the hangar and zig-zagged up another 20 decks to the battle bridge section.
We glided to a stop in front of a huge blast door with two hulking guards posted outside of it. The guards were masses of mussel, Zero-G grunt commando troopers. X opened the top and did a moving stop somersault out of her go-go. She landed on her bare feet.
Stop and disengage. She bounced up to me as I was climbing out of my bike.
“Kick ass riding, you’re my kind of dude, Hands. Low ten!”
She held out both of her palms face up about waist height. This wild naked space woman had the mind of a teenager. She was smiling and waiting with her electric eyes.
“Don’t leave me hanging.”
I slapped both her hands and held mine out for her. Which she immediately slapped back, hard.
She did a finger-snapping snake-like body wiggle and punched one of the guards in the stomach. The hulking giant feigned injury, doubled over, and produced a long black trench coat from his side pocket.
“This is Punchy and that’s Stoneface.” Punchy nodded to me and Stoneface lived up to his name. X flung on the trench coat and cinched up the belt.
“Anger is a bit prudish about the whole nudity thing. He has a tough enough time tolerating my tats. Oh, and don’t call him Anger. Unless you like being dead.”
The meter thick door slid open and we walked through onto the bridge.