Morning - Part 2

A motorcycle means more than just getting from point A to point B. Wind blew through her red hair, flowing out behind her. Old-fashioned goggles protected her eyes, at least they were fashioned to look old-fashioned. A ventilator covered her nose and mouth making her look something out of science fiction. But this was Mars. This was science fact.

The goggles's HUD read 160 kph. Too fast for West Works roads, but she didn't care. Everything was on the display. She whipped through traffic like it didn't exist. The augmented reality built into the HUD made navigation as easy as if they were standing still. No surprises.

Courier turned the throttle to put distance between her and the truck she had rounded, and to avoid the vehicle headed directly at her in the opposing lane she now occupied. The bike did not accelerate. The engine cut out. The electrics went dead. The HUD readout showed declining speed and a completely dead battery.

She couldn't swerve back into her lane, the truck was there and more traffic behind it. Ahead of her, the lights of the vehicles loomed ever closer. She punched the ignition over and over. Her hand worked the throttle.

Courier looked into the oncoming traffic. The HUD tracked everything: speed, direction, course, bike conditions, and any necessary alerts such as other vehicles, tracking, and media, all centered on her. But her bike, and she herself, did not register. They were an untagged entity no sensor would detect. The HUD was programmed for night-vision, IR, and augmented reality. Through it, she had full knowledge of the road and everything around her.

The vehicle in front of her was tagged as a She'Ying transport headed for zone 132. In the local slums, it was referred to as The Garden. She loved riding there, in the green, air as fresh as she would ever smell on this planet. But the truck was going to slow, holding her back.

The courier pulled the throttle back. The front of the bike shifted up ever-so-slightly as the torque kicked in, accelerating her toward the transport. She swung left into the oncoming lane revving the electric engine to a whine as she came parallel to the over-sized beast commanding the other lane.

The HUD showed an on-coming vehicle, another transport at high speed. Most of them were automated vehicles without pilots, pulling trains of five and six or more semi-trailers. They ran on a computer system that monitored everything. Human reaction was not a part of the equation and that meant they could travel faster and more efficiently. Taking humans out of the equation meant fewer jobs. More slum-scum.

Courier pulled the the throttle tighter. The front of the bike dipped as the whine fell lower and the speed slowed. Something was wrong. The transport she had been pacing moved forward. The other was closing on her and her window of escape was cut off on this two-lane automated road.

She pulled on the throttle again. The whine continued down as the bike continued to lose momentum. The oncoming transport barreled on, closing in on her space in the early morning. The other blocked her original lane as its cars passed. Her only chance was to brake fast enough to return to the back of the behemoth she had tried to surmount.

The HUD turned red calling out, "Warning. Collision." The transport's systems would be doing the same and the computer would trigger the brakes while plotting an alternative, except that the transport would not register courier or the bike. The transport registered all clear. There would be no braking.

Courier pressed her right heel down on her custom job, her right hand lightly squeezing the brake. Courier shifted her weight bringing the rear wheel right, creating drag as she tried to maintain balance. Rust colored dirt and fine gravel sprayed against the neighboring transport as it continued to rush past her, the last two trailers running parallel.

The friction, sideways on her rear tire helped to slow her speed and the last of the trailers past her as the lights of the oncoming transport started to drown out her HUD. With her dying engine, if she lost too much momentum she would not be able to get clear before she flattened or flew, whichever the transport decided.

She kicked her left foot down and pulled with her right thigh. The rear of the bike whipped left and instinctively she tried to gun it, but there was no juice.Even the dash readouts were dead and her HUD overwhelmed from the transport right on top of her. Momentum was her only hope.

The last trailer past as she leaned right. She could feel the heat on her skin, the engine's breath heating the air as the transport scrapped through the space she had occupied just a whisper before. Her bike shifted out from under her as the giant tired nudged hers, the slightest of a touch. Courier found herself spread out on the rust gravel. Her bike meters away.


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