Here's another one of Chuck's challenges. This one was a blast to write :) Want to join the fun? Go here. This is what I came up with.
I picked the hot-rod red Ferrari aircar, of course. I knew I had to get out. The party had evolved a frantic, cold edge, the kind that promised trouble, and I had had enough of that, with the Gargoan following me around all night. Should have let it down easy, I guess. Pushing it into the low-grav pool had probably been a mistake; but the look on its craggy, oyster-shell face had been fucking hilarious. The Ferrari beeped. Access denied, said a smooth female voice. Car like that, I’d have picked a male A.I., maybe something with an English accent. Rich people had no taste. Footsteps. The hiss of the hangar door opening. I glanced behind me and saw two security goons burst into the yard, shouting. Behind them was the Gargoan, dripping viscous fluid. It looked all kinds of pissed.
I redoubled my efforts, sending some more hackworms into the aircar’s systems from the implants in my fingertips.
The guards were almost on me, shouting something in angry ValSpeak. They weren’t shooting, probably afraid to hit the priceless cars. But I had one last trick up my sleeveless dress: The Hungry Little Caterpillar, I called it, and it hadn’t failed me yet. In it went, crunching its way into the car’s main processor.
Access Granted. Welcome, Miss Xaverian. The aircar door swung up and I dove in, the door obediently falling shut behind me. I slid into the driver’s seat. Real Terran leather. Nice! Someone banged on the door. I’d better get a move on.
What is your destination, Miss Xaverian?
“Anywhere but here!”
Analyzing. I am not familiar with Anywherebuthere. Please specify.
The banging continued. A louder bang, this one denting the door. Damn Gargoan. A bead of sweat trickled in my eye. There goes my mascara. “Oh hell. Go to manual.”
Manual override accepted. The butterfly-shaped controller popped out.
Detecting elevated heart rate of pilot. Do you require medical assistance?
I gritted my teeth. “No. Thank you.” The rubbery controller morphed to accommodate my hands. I bopped the activation button and the aircar rumbled to life.
Hull integrity compromised. Engage anti-theft measures?
“Yes!” I hoped the anti-theft measures didn’t include ejecting me out of the cockpit. There was a loud humming noise and I saw a guard fly through the air and slam into the Cadillac Shuttlecraft to my left. Some kind of forcefield or electroshock charge? Didn’t really matter; I pulled the aircar up and shoved the controller forward, sending the Jag roaring out of the hangar and into New Scheherazade’s hot night.
My heartbeat slowed to its normal crawl as I slipped into a convenient trafficstream of spacescooters and shuttlecraft. Where to next? Could I risk returning to my hotel room? It would be safer not to. Nothing much there that I couldn’t toss; just a bunch of clothes and my make-up bag. Most of what really counted was embedded under my skin, anyway. To pass the time, I starred building my next identity. Hmm… A former beauty queen, or a suffering artist? Too bad I’d have to ditch the car; the jag was a dream to fly, like it could anticipate my every thought. But it was much too conspicuous.
That’s when the three black Harpy-brand securitycars dropped down behind me. Damn. They weren’t going to give up without a fight. I swooped down through airlanes, claxons blearing behind me, hoping to lose them, but the Harpies followed with ease. As soon as we cleared the civilian cruisers, they opened fire.
I swerved to avoid the plasma cannons. Damn it. They were willing to destroy the Jag. Or were they? None of the shots had actually hit. Below me loomed the hanging bazaars. I sped up and drove among the narrow streets and shops, knocking over antigrav boxes of perfumes and bursting through hangnets of fruit that splattered on my viewscreen. I giggled. Maybe driving under the influence of a dozen thrillpills was a bad idea. The alley narrowed in front of me and I wrenched the controller to the right and just succeeded in slipping into a downward-sloping tunnel of carpet-shops. One of the Harpies crashed into the wall behind me and hung there like a flattened cockroach. How do you like that, you fucking credit monkey?
The other two Harpies were closing in. I looped through a maintenance portal into the guts of the city. Even with the thrillpills, I realized it was a damn idiot move, but they’d be crazy to follow me in there, right?
Pilot has left approved airspace.
Warning. Area restricted.
Penalty fees may apply. Warning.
“Shut up. I’m trying to concentrate.”
The underside of the city was a hive of maintenance droids and data hubs. Thick electricity cables hung from the ceiling like snakes. I looped through the mess, my aircar tangling in the cables and ripping them out as I went, swerving madly this way and that. The Harpies behind be had a worse time of it, because their stylized wings. One of them stopped, hopelessly entangled in the coils and cables, and a cloud of hissing droids descended on them, trying to repair the damage. I couldn’t see the other one anymore.
A portal opened to my left and I zoomed out, back into the city. My hands trembled from clutching the controller. I needed to find a place to land. Now.
A suitable platform presented itself. It was deserted, one of those scenic stops looking over Scheherazade’s Tears. Floodlights played over the falls, highlighting their iridescent shimmer.
The aircar rocked. A hit? Then another. This time the plasma melted the forward stabilizers and the Jag screamed, going into a death spiral.
Warning. Collision imminent.
Warning. Impact alert.
Warning. Hull damage.
Desperate, I pulled up. The platform rushed toward me, much too fast. Then the crash Then nothing.
My head pounded and there was something wet running down my face. A metallic smell. Blood.
You have reached your destination.
We hope you’ve had a p-p-pleasant trip.
Warning. This vehicle requires maintenance.
Emergency protocol. Contacting authorities.
The foggy, bright blobs focused into streetlights. I stumbled up. Shit. I was still alive. I kicked my way out of the Jag, the bent door almost refusing to give. Unsteadily, I pulled myself out, leaning on the smoking wreck for balance.
Then I saw the Harpy, parked on the far side of the ledge.
Then the two security guards, guns pointed at me.
Then the Gargoan. He pulled out a stungun.
“Stop right there, human,” he said.
“What the hell do you want from me? Look, I didn’t steal anything.” Well, except the Jag. But that hardly counted, right? I held my empty hands up. ”Leave me the fuck alone!”
The Gargoan smiled, looking like an animated boulder. “You don’t understand, Miss Xaverian. The thing you stole is you.” He lifted the stungun.
Then I heard the whoop of sirens and flashing lights descended, blinding me.
“DO NOT MOVE. YOU ARE UNDER ARREST ACCORDING TO CODE 92797107#4, ENDANGERING PUBLIC SAFETY.”
I’ve never been so glad to see the police arrive before.
I looked at the Jag.
That was one smart car.