Gina and The Bullet Boy Express
(Written by BlackAeronaut; posted 25 January 2007 - 25 August 2008)
It had been a month since I'd moved into my folks' place. They'd moved out because Dad had picked up a job overseas, and I needed a place to crash because my roomies had suddenly had to move. Tim and Cathey because of Tim's new job. My sister, Liza, and her husband, Steve, because they needed room for the baby. At least I had a place to stay, but it sucked being alone. Sure, it was quiet and I certainly had personal space now... But I still had no one around to keep me company.
Late one night I was doing my usual thing online as any Internet geek would when I had heard about it: Handwavium. The Miracle Goop that enhances anything you apply it to. I did what any geek would do at that moment. I put word out that I wanted to get my hands on some and had money to pay for it. One month later, I received a somewhat large package from UPS. Overjoyed, I practically skipped my way to the dining room table and tore into the package with the zeal of a kid at Christmas time. And inside...
...was a Maxwell House coffee can.
I reached in and pulled the can free of its bed of packing peanuts and noticed the weight of the can and the liberal application of duck tape over the top.
"Ooohhh-kaayyyyy..." I drawled. I carefully set the can aside and then began to leaf through the set of printouts that came inside the package. It was all about how I could get the stuff to reproduce and supposed uses. They weren't entirely sure as "Results will vary."
Well, not that I'm the domineering type, but I always knew what to do in order to get the sort of results I wanted. And glancing over at my computer, I knew where to start.
I had always been dissatisfied with the way my computer performed, and I'd be damned if I was gonna put up with it any longer. At first, upon opening the case, I thought about soaking each individual piece in Handwavium, but if I did that then they might become incompatible with each other. No, the best course here was to use a brush to coat the components with handwavium and then let it set. Sure, some disassembly would be needed, but just to get the Goop where it needed to be, and then back into the rig it would go.
So, with the use of a few screwdrivers and a one-inch paintbrush I coated every single component. Everything. Front and backside. The only exception I made was the hard drive, and with that, I simply un-mounted it from the case and let it soak in a small Tupperware container while still connected to the power supply and motherboard.
The power supply was something I disassembled and then treated. I wasn't sure what kind of power requirements the computer, which I had affectionately called Flowjet in the past, would have now that it was going to be Handwaviumized. Therefore, I was taking no chances and making sure that the components in the power supply got a proper treatment. Once done, I reassembled it and put it back into its proper place in the tower.
The CPU was a bit easier. I simply removed the heat sink and fan assembly and the CPU itself coated the whole thing (and the socket on the motherboard, too), then stuck it back in. A moment's thought about probable cooling needs came to mind so I treat the whole heat sink and fan assembly as well, and went on to treat all the other system fans, too.
I even went as far as to treat the DVD, Zip, and Floppy disc drives, inside and out, as well. I didn't know for sure what that would do, but I was hoping that it would be good.
All that done, I let it set in over night before putting the tower back into proper order and powering it up once more.
At first, it all seemed so great! The post went through a memory test for some reason. It doesn't usually do this unless there was a problem during the previous boot-up. Maybe it knew that something was different and was just making sure. Anyhow, I watched as the memory count went up. And up. And up.
How much is wow?
Somewhere between Ouch and Poing-oing-oing-oing-oing-oing-oing.
I could only imagine how big my hard drive was now, but I wouldn't get that chance for a while, because my computer picked that moment to do something odd.
I did not see the usual Windows logos and Microsoft copyrights while Windows was booting up, and even afterwards. Wherever any Microsoft or Windows logo or copyright was supposed to be was simply blank space. Everything else seemed fine though and I began to count my blessings, especially once I noticed how fast Flowjet was performing.
I then began to lookup information on how that one guy at Worldcon Yokohana got his car to fly. So far, this was looking very hopeful. With a minimum of messing around, he got his car to not only fly, but to go up into space! I then glanced out the window at the old VW Jetta sitting in the driveway and I could feel the shit-eating grin overtaking my face. Oh yeah, this was gonna be cool.
As far as I knew, this Jetta had started out life as a regular vehicle for a regular man. He later sold it to his son. Apparently, that son had aspirations to make it into a tuner car because he had applied a cheap black spray paint job in an effort to give the Jetta a two-tone racing scheme. Of course, things hadn't worked out for him, and the paint job didn't hold up. He had sold it to my mom and dad for a song, and the paint had begun to peel away.
For a long time, it was a regular vehicle for my folks until it developed engine trouble. They told me that I could have it if I could get it working again.
Jettas, even the older ones, made for very good cars if you could get them in good condition and treated them right. They made for even better tuner cars if you knew what to do. Visions of racing against the other local tuners in an older, but well kept, deceptively stock-looking Jetta danced before my eyes. So, I tried to get the poor thing working again and I took to calling her Gina. Unfortunately, there was something wrong inside the engine itself. Coolant would show up in the oil and that was never a good sign.
And so, Gina sat, forlorn, in our driveway, awaiting a time when I could find a good performance engine to drop into her. Perhaps now I could give her something even better.
I started by making sure that I had a growing supply of handwavium on hand. It simply would not do to run out of this stuff in the middle of my grand project. Then, while that was percolating, I began collecting every single bit of Battletech RPG I could find concerning Valkyries I could get my hands on, as well as pictures of the Delorean from Back To The Future II in its flight mode.
After about a month I felt that I finally had enough raw materials and got the Jetta onto jack stands. From there, I first coated the engine block and transaxle with handwavium and then literally began to paper mache the whole thing with the Battletech stuff, along with several printouts with specifications of vehicles used by characters from EPU's Symphony of the Sword. If this didn't give me a fusion turbine power plant, then I don't know what would.
Leaving that to set, I then took off the wheels, coated the brake assemblies with Handwavium and paper mached those with the Flying Delorean footage, did the same with the wheels, and bolted them back on. If that didn't make this thing fly, I didn't know what would. I took it a couple of steps further, of course. I got an Autobot decal and stuck it on the hood, and then coated down the whole thing with Handwavium. Inside and out. Nothing was left untouched this time. I even went underneath on a creeper with a face shield and HAZMAT apron (available at many auto parts stores) and coated the underside as well.
And then, I waited.
The process had taken me a full day's worth of work, so I checked my usual stuff on the internet, and then spent some time playing Crazy Taxi on my computer using a Game Cube emulator, and then watched a couple of my favorite Anime Music Videos centered around Asuka. I began to does at that point, so I went and crashed out in my bed.
The next day, I went to work.
When I came home, I immediately went to the Jetta and noticed that it looked a lot cleaner and neater than before, and it was no small wonder, too. The Handwavium had neatened up the two-toned black and gold racing paint job someone had made a cheap attempt at. Even the bits of rust were gone, replaced with gleaming black and gold bodywork. The windows had become tinted silver and I could not see through them for the life of me. Opening the driver's door I saw no major difference at all in the interior. Very curious. With a mental shrug, I popped the hood. The mess of paper mached Battletech and Symphony of the Sword printouts were still there, so I began to tear it all off.
"Whoa," I breathed as I saw what was underneath. Whatever it was, it was a lot smoother and sleeker than the Jetta's original gas-burning four-cylinder engine.
I then went to the wheels and began to tear the paper mache off of those. Well, I guess I should have expected that the original VW Alloy rims would have been transformed into the same rims on the Delorean. I unbolted one and took a look inside. Whatever it was that was in there, it looked like some sort of combination of drive motor and thruster. The paper mache I had applied to the brake assemblies before was now gone.
But I guess that was to be expected. Anxious, I bolted the wheel back on, got the remaining paper mache off the others, and packed into a garbage bag (Heaven only knew what this stuff could do the bird that lined it's nest with it!) and got the Jetta off of it's jack-stands.
I got into the driver's seat.
I shut the door.
I buckled myself in.
I inserted the key into the ignition.
And I started the engine.
It made a sound not unlike it had before when it was running, only it tone was deeper, throatier, hungrier, and with just a touch of the sort of whine that jet engines made.
It was only now that I discovered what few differences there were on the interior. For one thing, the instrumentation readouts were a bit different. The speedometer, for instance, read in increments of C from zero to zero-point-one. Even more odd was that where one needle for the tachometer would be was two - my tachometer now had a second needle that indicated...
I blinked and looked again.
Yep. Megawatts. The dial went from zero to just a touch past twelve, and underneath were it said RPMx1000, it also said Mwx100.
If this was to be believed, this thing could put out 1.21 Gigawatts. Coincidence? I think not.
That was not the only thing different. Some of the signal lamps nestled between the two main dials indicated different things. I wasn't sure what, though. I then happened to look down that the drive selector (it was an automatic transaxle) and saw that the 2nd and 1st selections were now "F" and "S".
Now I was curious. I pressed down on the brake pedal and shifted the selector from "P" to "F". The only thing that happened was that a red light among the other signal lamps began to blink accompanied by a low-key buzz. It was one of the ones that had changed. This one's new label read "AI?".
"AI?" I said aloud, at once puzzled and understanding. I knew then that I needed an artificial intelligence to handle what must be the avionics controls, but where was I going to get one and how would I hook one up? Right away, my eyes went to the non-stock stereo mounted in the dashboard. The Pioneer car stereo still looked the same as it did before, but after the Handwavium treatment, I'd given the car I'd be willing to bet that that wasn't the case anymore. With that thought in mind, I shut down the engine and got my tools out. I had pulled the stereo out once before to do a little bit of wiring work so I knew the trick to getting the thing out. Fifteen minutes later, I'd found that the thing had a fiber optic port that was not there the last time I'd done work on the stereo system.
I gave a bark of laughter and set the thing aside. It'd be kinda dumb to put it back in now when I had to get a computer rigged in here somehow.
Before I had left for work the next day, I checked my computer just to be sure. As I had thought, the ports behind the tower had changed as well - now, aside from the VGA port for the monitor, there was nothing but fiber optic, USB, 1394 ports, along with the obligatory Ethernet port. So it was that after work I purchased a sizable fiber optic cable that I figured would be long enough to run along the floorboards to the trunk there the computer would be secured.
Briefly, I wondered about power. That is, how I was going to get power to the computer. The power supply still ran on AC power, so I figured that what I'd have to do was to hook up a good and powerful inverter. Good thing I actually had one left lying around.
It was actually a burned out one, but I figured that a Handwavium treatment would fix that and then some. Of course, this also meant that I had to go out and buy a long enough cable for the power inverter so it could be directly connected to the battery, but that was no big deal since auto-parts stores had that sort of thing in stock. One evening's hard work later, I had the inverter installed and handwaviumized, the fiber optic data cable ran through to the trunk. I was ready to call it a night.
That evening in my down time I spent a little more time having fun with Crazy Taxi on my suped-up computer and studying Asuka Langely Soryu from Neon Genesis Evangelion. I don't know why, but I found the angry little Eurasian redhead quite fascinating and, before I went to bed that night, I even began to write up an introspection of her character.
The following morning I hit upon a snag. I realized that I had no way to fit the monitor inside the car without it taking up the entire passenger side seat - that would just be awkward. So, with a little work on Google I found a nice 17" flip-down LCD monitor that was suitable for the application at hand.
One week later, I was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to hook it up. While the website had said it was a monitor, I had forgotten to check for what kind of inputs it had. With a weary sigh, I went out and bought one more long fiber-optic cable. It was a good thing that I didn't have to pay rent, just the utilities.
I set up a plastic tub full of Handwavium, duct taped one end of the new fiber optic cable to the monitor's AV-in port, hooked up the power cord just to be safe, and dropped it into the handwavium. The next morning I pulled it out and wiped away the excess handwavium and nodded a satisfied nod, for the fiber optic cable now ran inside the casing where it was surely directly connected to the hardware.
After I was sure it had dried off, I hooked it up to my computer just to be sure. I accidentally found that it more than just worked. When I saw the crystal clarity of the picture I choked on my customary tropical-punch kool-aid and spattered the display. Wiping the coughed-up kool-aid, I found the mouse cursor moving with every motion my hand made against the screen.
"Bitchin'!" I cried out. The simple LCD monitor had become an absurdly high-resolution touch screen. And why not? Such was the magic of Handwavium. I just hadn't figured out why things hadn't become as quirky as everyone else's had been. Maybe this was as quirky as it got? Or maybe it was picking up off my tech-head vibe and giving my all the nice tech-toys? Who knows?
Briefly, my eyes turned towards my Shure E-500 earphones and I had to shake off the urge. I didn't want to chance anything weird happening to the $500 dollar Earphones my Dad was able to get me (He worked for the company). If they had beaten out Herby Hancock's custom-made Bose headset, then they were good enough without the Handwavium.
I had the day off, so I spent it installing the new fold-down display in place of the driver's side visor and the computer into the trunk. The keyboard was wireless, so I placed the receiver in the back, just over the center seat and kept the keyboard on the center consol. After making sure that everything was connected properly, I crossed my fingers and pushed the power button on the computer and went to the driver's seat.
Well... it was odd. I wasn't even getting the boot-up screen. In fact, I was getting very nervous because there was a lot of strange green code scrolling up the screen that seemed to consist of ASCII and katakana.
"Oooh shit," I said under my breath as I recognized where I last saw code like this. Suddenly, the code's trailing patterns became warped and twisted as something seemed to push through the 'surface' of the code. Fascinated beyond all rationality, I watched as this form began to take on more and more definition.
Whatever it was, it was female. Suddenly, the code on the figure began to take on more and more complexity until it blended together and even take on other colors. Soon, I found myself looking at an alabaster-skinned Eurasian girl with flaming red hair and blue eyes. She wore a strange red-with-black-trim get-up that resembled a high-tech diving suit.
"Hoooooh-leeeeeee fuck!" I breathed fervently.
You would too if you suddenly found Asuka Langley Soryu living inside your computer...
Which also happened to be connected to your car...
Your car that could supposedly fly...
Quickly as I could, I ran out to buy a camera and a microphone. The quality didn't matter, I could always buy something better later. What mattered most was that I give that poor girl some eyes and ears. As I raced to and from the Radioshack, all I could think about was the eternity she must be spending in there, caught in a sensory deprivation chamber at computer time.
I damn near took flight as I jumped off my bike and nearly killed myself on the landing, scrambling into the Jetta and not really noticing how badly scraped myself up on the pavement. Hurriedly I ripped the packaging open - Asuka was curled up into a corner of the screen. I nearly broke the USB hub I'd glued to the dashboard as I jammed the microphone and camera plugs into it.
Asuka immediately perked her head up, seemingly startled.
"Hello?" I heard her say over the speakers. "Is there somebody there?"
"Hey, I'm here," I said breathlessly. "Can you hear me?"
"Yes! I can hear you!" she cried out, a desperate, yet relieved tone in her voice. "Who are you? Where are you and where am I?"
"My name is Benjamin," I said, still catching my breath. "But the where's are going to be a little complex."
"What? Come on, just tell me! I've been here alone for so long now!"
"Okay then. Well, the simple version is that you're inside my computer and I'm outside of it."
She was silent for a moment, during which her face went from despair to an odd mixture of outrage and sorrow. "That is so sadistic for you to say."
My breath began to return to me and I began to reflect upon her character and how to best needle her into the right direction.
"Look, milady, I just busted my ass to get you some ears to hear me with. Now excuse me while I fix your eyes." I pulled out the CD that had the camera's software then pushed it into the stereo's CD slot, then gave the keyboard the three-fingered salute. Much to my relief, the logon window appeared. Interestingly enough, Asuka was still there, and very startled when the window appeared over her head.
"Mein Gott en himmel! What the hell is that?"
"It's my login prompt. I'm logging into my computer so I can fix the camera."
"You're serious, aren't you?" she said as she watched me type my username and password.
"Very," I replied as I hit the return key. She then watched in wonder as her world around her suddenly began to assemble itself into my desktop.
"That was freaky," she said as she began to walk around the screen, watching as I moved the cursor to double click the My Computer icon and go into the CD drive. "What is that thing?" she asked, pointing at the picture on the desktop.
"Oh, that's from Star Trek," I said as I hunted around for the install files. "It's a Romulan D'deridex class warbird."
"Star Trek? That old show?"
"In my world they made several new series and movies. Here, it's the year 2007."
"In your world? I don't understand it."
"It's going to be a lot to take in. Just bear with me here." I finally got the installation program working and Asuka flinched as the new window appeared 'on top' of her. She then stepped around it, wearing an annoyed expression.
"This is going to take some getting used to."
"Yeah, I guess it will. Look at it this way, though. I think you can interact with the computer - at first with just what you see on the desktop. But I think that with a bit of time and practice you can do things by just thinking about it. Kinda like synchronizing with an Eva."
"Hey, how do you know about that?" she suddenly demanded, hands on hips and glaring.
I sighed. "I guess the best way is to show you. Wait a second, please." I started going through the folders until I finally reached the one I was after.
"Neon Genesis Evangelion!?" she cried out incredulously as I double-clicked the episode in which she premiered, then jumped it ahead to the scene on the flight deck of Over the Rainbow. "Oh. My. God," she breathed. "Turn it off. Now."
I did as she asked. Right then the software finished installing. With the awkward silence ensuing, I simply closed the installation program and started the camera.
Asuka looked at the camera's window impassively. "You look like shit."
I blinked then looked at my own image. A bloody scuff decorated the right side of my jaw. Dirt and dried, crumpled bits of dead leaves were tangled in my hair. I began to examine myself further and found that I'd been scuffed up pretty good.
"Now that you mention it, I feel like shit," I admitted.
"How the hell did you do that to yourself?"
"Like I said, I busted my ass to get you some eyes and ears."
"How did this all happen?" she suddenly asked.
I sighed again. "We have something very remarkable on this world that... modifies anything you apply it to. But the thing is that it's like it has a mind of its own, and one that's got ADHD at that. It's known by several names, but most people call it Handwavium."
"Is that supposed to be some kind of joke?"
"Yes and no. The real joke is that it actually does as the name suggests. This stuff just handwaves away all the conventional laws and does its own thing. Fortunately, it can be influenced. That's how I modified my car and the computer you're in."
"Where do I come in then?"
"Well, I've been doing a lot of work on a character study of you from the anime that I just showed you. The following for Evangelion is a pretty big one, so there's lots of information available on the Internet. What must have happened is that since the computer hadn't developed an AI yet it decided to use you."
"Wait. You mean that I never really existed!? That I don't right now!?"
"Well... Not in this world. I'm sure that there's a bunch of parallel universes out there that you do exist in. And I think you are very real right now."
"I am not," she said sullenly. "I'm just a bunch of ones and zeroes on a hard drive."
"The hell you are! You're Asuka Langely-Sohryu, a beautiful, well educated young woman and an expert pilot. Have some self-confidence in yourself for God's sake! You're better than this."
She gave me an astonished look. "I never thought I would ever meet anyone worse than that idiot Shinji."
"I'd like to think of myself as an improvement."
Asuka snorted at that. "Oh yeah, you're an improvement alright."
"Yeah, well, I gotta go and patch myself up. Let me see if you can interact with the computer."
Asuka narrowed her eyes at me, then went over to the My Computer icon and thwacked it with a vengeance and opened a window.
"Great! Just don't mess with the system settings. I've got a collection of anime, manga, movies, and fanfiction in the My Documents folder, so you can keep yourself entertained while I'm away. The Internet should work, too. It's on a wireless connection and we should still be in range of the router."
"Internet. Joy. I'll just troll around on usenet."
"Hey, I didn't hear much about in when I watched you guys."
"Cute. Anyhow, you might find that it's a lot more interesting than you think. We have online content the likes of which you've probably never even thought of. Here," I said as I opened the web browser. "Google is an excellent search engine and you can probably find anything you want with it. You should try it out."
"And how the hell am I gonna type anything?"
"Hang on," I said as I jumped into the control panel and activated the on-screen keyboard."
"So, the pervert is smart, too."
"Damn straight. And I'm only perverted in a healthy way. I like to make a beautiful woman's toes curl, but I keep it to myself for the most part."
I rigged another computer inside the house. This one was a much older laptop, but with a soak in a tank of handwavium it turned into a beastly little machine. It's portability and wireless capability made it capable of keeping Asuka in touch with me no matter where I was in the house. It also gave me access to my files, for which I was grateful.
I had warned Asuka not to watch Evangelion, but I knew that she wouldn't listen.
"That did not really happen," said Asuka, trying to reassure herself. "I refuse to believe that was me. Well, pervert, do you got anything to say about that shit?"
"I don't know what to say, Asuka, except that Hideaki Anno was very messed up when he produced that mess."
"Don't call me that."
"I can't stand that name anymore. I want a different name. Besides, I don't want any perverted fanboys bothering me, so I want another name."
"Okay then, let me think. How about Regina Langley?"
"Well, I've taken to calling this wonderful German engineered car Gina, and since I fully intend to take Gina out into space, I figure that Langley will be a good last name for you to keep."
"Regina Langley," she said, tasting the name on her tongue. "It's simple. The fanboys won't notice it. I like it."
"Okay then. Gina it is."
"Cool. So, when did you want to get into space?"
I'd been thinking about that quite a bit. "Well, I definitely need to lay in supplies, but what I really need to do is figure out what the hell you're using for fuel."
"What I'm using?"
"Well... The computer serves as an avionics unit for the car, and since you can control the computer..."
"...I can control the car," she finished. "Well, that's a lot better than just being stuck like this."
"That's the idea," I said with a smile. "Now the only problem is going to be figuring out how the heck your flight controls work."
Asu- no, Gina looked thoughtful at that. "If handwavium works the way you suggested, then it's probably handled it somehow."
"True. And then we need to worry about the authorities. They've been getting pretty draconian about handwavium, which is why I haven't been driving. When we blow this joint, we'll have to be sneaky about it, not to mention that we probably won't be coming back."
"In that case, I'll start checking around for 'wave friendly people that can get us fresh consumables. How's the micro thrusters coming along?"
"Shipment tracker says that they get here tomorrow. I'll get them installed and waved ASAP."
"Cool. You sure we need that, though?"
"Yeah, the wheel-thrusters will be great for maneuvering, but we need something to give us some real forward momentum. Even the DeLorian from Back to the Future had aft thrusters, and a lot of the material I used to get the flight capability came from that series of films."
"Good point. And we got a few suppliers once we leave the atmosphere."
"How'd you do that?"
"Idiot pervert, I'm learning how to use my new abilities. It's like you said, just like synchronizing with the Eva."
"Awesome, way to go. That means we're that much closer to getting out of here then."
"Why do you want to leave so badly?"
I thought about that for a beat before replying, "Well, it isn't so much that I want to leave as much as I want to explore. I've always wanted to go out into space and explore the planets, but even if I joined the Air Force or the Navy just to become a pilot and get into NASA that way, we wouldn't be landing on the Moon or Mars until I'm too old to fly."
"I see. The pervert's got an adventurous streak."
Our preparations were going smoothly. Gina and I were keeping everything to ourselves and no one at work or online had noticed that anything was off. If we could keep things like this (no big deal at all) then we'd be able to get out of here, scott-free. The only thing I had to do was to tell my family.
"You haven't said much about your family," said Gina suddenly.
I poke my head up inquisitively from my work in the trunk - I had been installing one of the Turbonique micro-turbo thrusters. The passenger-side camera, one of the two remote-aim capable models that I bought and 'waved for Gina, swiveled to around to look at me from it's mount on the dashboard.
"What, that?" I asked.
"Your family," said Gina, exasperation coloring her tone. "I know you have some."
I sighed - I was doing that a lot lately. "Yeah, I do have a family. A pretty big one by todays standards."
"How many?" she asked.
"My mom, dad, one sister and five brothers."
"Shiest! That's huge! Where I came from, people were lucky enough to have just one or two! Where are they, anyways? Why aren't you with them?"
"London. And I'm not with them because I'm the black sheep of the family."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, my mom and I get along wonderfully - my biological father divorced her shortly after I was born, and then it was just her and I for about four years. She moved into her grandfather's place that was next door to her parent's house, and her parents would watch me whenever she went to work." I smiled ruefully. "That was the one part of the setup that I wasn't happy about back then."
Gina's laugh filled the air. "I get it, you're a Momma's Boy!" I grinned and went to sit in the driver's seat. It was time for a break anyways.
"Yeah, Mom and I have always been close. And that became a sticking point between us and my step-dad. We were just on such a different level and he couldn't understand that."
"How could he be so jealous?"
"Dunno. I think it might have been better if I was a girl, but not much. I was a brat back then anyways. A real terror."
"Oh, you couldn't have been that bad," said Gina, grinning.
I raised an eyebrow at her. "Back in kindergarten, I usually didn't want to do what everyone else was doing, and it would sometimes escalate to the point of me hiding under the teacher's desk and biting her ankles."
Gina looked at me in shock from the computer screen... then fell over laughing hysterically. After a few minutes of loud laughter interspersed with bits of barely intelligible German, Gina slowly sat up.
"Mein Gott, Benjamin. You were right about being and improvement over that Baka Shinji."
"Yeah, but then I'm pretty sure that the poor guy was losing it anyways."
Gina suddenly looked sullen. "Yeah. I think we all were."
"Don't worry about it, Gina. That's... well, whatever it is, you don't have to let it bother you. There's nothing you can do to change anything except to accept it and move on. I think you got a lot going for you."
"Well, you're out of that situation, you have a flying car for a body, you can manipulate computers with ease, and you got me for a friend."
Gina gave me a wry smile, then laid on the sarcasm. "Yeah. You for a friend. That's just what I need." And so I blew a raspberry at her. "Mein Gott, you're so immature."
I shrugged. "Better that than mature and grumpy all the time."
"Hmph. I prefer being grumpy over being happy-go-lucky. But anyhow... what about your family? I don't think you've told them about what you're doing."
"It's better this way. Don't worry, I'll tell them soon enough. Thing is that my folks need to see that I am truly committed to something before they'll accept it.
Gina nodded at that, then her eyes widened as she realized something. "You're going to drive over there!"
"Ex-zactly!" I said with a smile.
"But how are you going to be able to do that in an unregistered vehicle? Unless... You're going to have me hack into the DOT's mainframe, aren't you?"
My smile became a flat-out grin. "You're a very clever girl, you know?"
"What about the papers for the car?" she said.
"Easy. I got a portable printer soaking in handwavium right now."
"I guess that'll do it then. Got any other bright ideas?"
"Nothing bright. Just thoughts."
"Such as what the hell we're gonna do when we get out there."
"Glad you're thinking about that. Got anything?"
"Thanks. Courier work comes to mind."
"You mean running messages?"
"Sure. Someone's gotta deliver packages. It's not like anyone's invented some way to do matter teleportation, even with handwavium."
"Seems... Kinda boring."
"Yeah, but I thought of something to do for recreation that should be fun."
"How about racing?"
"Racing? In space? How?"
"In the asteroid belt. There, top speed doesn't really matter. It's how well you maneuver and accelerate."
"But don't you think it's dangerous?"
"A bit. I'm working on it."
"Armored survival suit."
I grinned. "Case hardening."
By case hardening I meant a handwavium-hardened external case for the computer itself. Gina made what passed for approving sounds.
I was living the handwavium lifestyle here. The car and computers were handwaviumized. I had found one of those nifty Coleman coolers that had a small refrigerator/heater built into it. With handwavium, it became a proper refrigerator chest and a microwave oven. Weird. Weirdness aside, though it was pretty damn convenient, despite having to remove everything else I didn't want cooked, like the milk. I just had to be careful about how long I left stuff in there to cook as it had no timer - it would run as long as the lid was closed.
There was only one final hurdle, and that was hygiene. I knew that the most I could hope for was to clean myself off with something like baby-wipes (I did not dare want to handwaviumized something I used directly on my body). While that may work for my skin, it didn't do much for my clothes.
While I was working on this problem I happened to handwaviumize one of my smaller steamer trunks - one that happened to have wheels on one end to make it easier to carry. In an outrageous quirk, it grew a whole bunch of legs and I found that anything I put in there for more than an hour or so came out clean, pressed, and smelling faintly of lilacs.
I simply wondered how the hell it knew about Terry Pratchett.
Gina only shook her head in disbelief and told me to stow it in the back seat next to the food box. At least I wasn't worried about it trying to eat anyone, given handwavium's thing about non-violence.
Gina didn't have too much trouble hacking into the PenDOT servers and got everything setup for me, and the handwaviumized portable printer didn't have any trouble spitting out the appropriate forged stickers and paperwork… though my new driver's license depicted me wearing an outrageously cheesy moustache.
Gina couldn't stop laughing for about five minutes, and even then she was making snarkish remarks about me with a moustache for weeks afterwards.
Once all the stickers had been applied, I made sure that everything else was in order. I called all the utility and service companies to discontinue service, made sure I had all the food we could carry (which was all of it - that little refrigerator chest kept on 'swallowing' the food, which would reappear as we needed it), and made sure that we had a full tank of… beer.
Yeah, it was just like Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future. The active yeast and stuff in beer was the perfect fuel for the fusion turbine. I just hoped the damn thing wouldn't start driving drunkenly (I would later discover that this only happened when we were dangerously low on beer and that, of course, it ran best on German beer). I had to go out and purchase a beer-pump for the kegs I'd have to buy in order to fill it up. I just hoped that a full tank would last a while.
The day to leave came after all the preparations had been laid down and we left Emmaus, but not without a backwards glance from me. Emmaus was one of the few places I liked from spending time in Pennsylvania if only because it had that nice small-town feel.
Gina made sure I didn't get lost along the way to New York City. There, we paused momentarily to pay our respects at the September 11th Memorial site. Along the way, Gina and I talked about how messed up the world was. She briefly accused me of running away. I reacted by asking her what I could do about the matter, and stating that I wasn't running away at all. I just wanted to pursue a child-hood dream.
The argument petered out about the time we reached a suitable pier.
It was dark and we were alone there on an unused pier. The Atlantic Ocean lay before us. It was quiet for a long moment.
"So, are you ready?" asked Gina.
"Yeah. How about you?"
"All set. You do realize, though, that someone's bound to see us take off from here."
"Yeah, but I'll take that chance."
"Okay then, let's do it."
And with that, I shifted from Drive to Fly. There was no turning back now.
Perhaps leaving from New York was a mistake. While I was certain that air radars wouldn't detect us as long as we stayed low, surface radar was another matter altogether. It wasn't too long until Gina, who'd tapped into the military radio frequencies to listen in, warned me that we had F/A-18's inbound. Figuring that there was nothing else for it, I lit-off the Turbonique Microturbos and let them shoot us out across international waters. There, at least, they didn't have much of a leg to stand on since the UN still hadn't figured out what to do about Handwavium - Australia was still causing headaches there. However, there was no doubt that the US had gone straight on over to their friends across the pond and were demanding our capture.
"Well, what now, boss?" asked Gina as we zipped along leisurely over the Atlantic.
"I guess we could just try calling my folks, then."
"Radio?" asked Gina.
"Yeah, even though my folks aren't radio hams themselves, there's bound to be someone over there that could get in touch with them for us."
"I think I can handle that."
Long story short, we managed to find a ham radio operator in the UK who was only too pleased to contact my family for me… in exchange for a can of handwavium. I promised him that I'd drop by Australia and ship it from there. My parents were happy to hear from my, but they wish it could have been under better circumstances. They weren't all that happy about the situation, but they understood that I was doing something that I wanted to do all my life and were proud nonetheless and made me promise to send them pictures regularly.
Once the connection was broken, we began a long flight to Australia to fulfill the promise to the radio operator. Aside from dodging the occasional non-pro-wave country, it was an uneventful trip.
It was pretty interesting, though, getting clearance to enter Australian airspace as a wave-refugee. Apparently this was happening often enough that they directed us to one of their smaller airfields they'd set aside for this sort of thing.
I did Melbourne for a few days and sent the ham radio operator in the UK his Handwavium as promised, and in an approved shipping container no less! Of course, I repackaged it so it looked quite ordinary to the postal workers in the UK so they wouldn't know the difference. The container was just to ensure there weren't any accidents along the way.
After that, we got reprovisioned, refueled, and then filed flight plans file for lift off. Since there really weren't any settlements out there yet, we were just doing whatever we wanted to do.
We were of the Frontiersmen of the New Age.
We were happy.
And the rest is another story for later.