Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ticket to Fly

It was another rainy day. There seemed to be an unending array of them. At the moment the rain had paused and a thin mist had filled the street in the early morning. Ranna Morrigen turned her collar up against the chill and waited by a streetlight. A black veil hid her upper face. Maybe the people set on her would see through it. MAybe they were coming for her right now.

That'd be their mistake. She really hoped they were making that mistake. She wanted closure for Jorge. That would involve bloodletting.

A familiar thrum filled the sky overhead. She looked up to see the flyvver approaching and dropping into to the street alongside her. Of course Jorge was not driving. Mayor Burns looked out over the side judging the room between two parked roadsters and began dropping down slowly. He doffed his bowler to her as he worked the controls.

"Hey! You! Yeah you! You can't land there!" The bellow snapped her head around.

P.O. Galen Twoomey stalked towards the flyvver his breath making fog, or maybe he was just preparing to breath fire. He stepped almost under the flyvver and glared at the Mayor.

The Mayor glared back. He drew his cigar and jabbed it downward like a spear, "What are ya trying to do, get squashed like a big blue bug?" he demanded.

"Try it wise guy, if you want to replace that second hand hat with your ass," Twoomey said pulling a summons book from his belt.

"You do know I'm the mayor, right Sleuth?"

"Big deal. I voted Conservative. Now move it!"

"I'm the mayor. That's Ranna Morrigen," Mayor Burns hollered.

Twoomey seemed to notice Ranna for the first time. He snapped a smart salute to her and tipped his cap for good measure. "Good morning Miss Morrigen. My apologies. But this ain't a landing area. That's two blocks over. I will happily escort you there."

"We just buried a friend. You ain't making her walk! Move out of the way or your feet won't be all that's flat about ya!" the Mayor growled. The officer's hand came to rest on the butt of his service revolver. It was probably just a reflex but the Mayor took his hand off the lifter switch. 

"Shamus," he growled.

"Blowhard," Twoomey answered flipping open his summons pad.

"Flatfoot."

"Bureaucrat."

"... Beat dick."

Twoomey looked up from his writing. From gritted teeth he hissed, "Politician."

The rest of the exchange was far less articulate and touched upon politics, sports, intelligence, genetic shortcomings and the Policeman's Pension Fund. At about the point Mayor Louie was swearing to have Twoomey pound a beat on a cowpath in Southbend and Twoomey was threatening the infernal powers of his Union and the Police Benevolence Society both fell suddenly silent.

Ranna's head had dipped forward. Her shoulders were wracked with strong emotion. Twoomey swore to himself for not being a little considerate of the lady in her grief. The Mayor was doing likewise when she straightened barely stifling some heartfelt laughter. She tried to say something and failed the first time, snorted loudly and brought every bit of her experience being the strutting ass in authority.

"Louie. Hold the flyvver steady. Twoomey!?" she barked.

"Ma'am!" Twoomey snapped to attention again.

"Make a stirrup ... with your hands officer. Like so!" She demonstrated and Twoomey complied. Ranna slipped one pump off and stepped into Twoomey's stirrup. Before she climbed further up the officer she leaned in close and planted a kiss on his cheek, Twoomey breathed in lavender and ... cordite? He took another drag for good measure.

"That was some daring police work you did chasing those guys that tried to whack me. Thanks officer," she whispered. Then she pocketed the pump, did likewise with its mate. Shegot both feet in his hands, stepped onto his shoulders and grabbed the side of the flyvver.

"Don't be looking up her skirt Twoomey or I'll drop a spanner on your flat head," Louie warned.

"Not an issue, your honor," Twoomey said hiding a decided blush with the brim of his cap.

"You gonna fly this thing or just leave it floating to let pedestrians get out of the rain?" Ranna snapped.

As the flyvver lifted Twoomey hung onto his hat and stepped back. As his brain resumed functioning he wondered how she was such a daredevil with such small feet?

***

Ah the flying car. We were supposed to have these to let us know it's the future (also robot servants and not some chintzy floor polisher). Air rafts fill the bill in most futuristic settings (when you leave out the slash it's Open 2D6 otherwise the Imperial Knights who say 'C & D" kick in your door). What exactly do we mean by a flying car?

I assume that 'car' is meant to convey a personal and affordable form of transportation anyone can operate. About what a car is to us now only in three dimensions. Material technology may make this possible in our lifetimes.. I'm not talking about those ultralites either. I want something to take a small group and their ordinance gear on an extended trip (cup holders, dome lights and like that). Something capable of vertical or DSTOL (Damned Short Takeoffs & Landings) are required too. We may have this without antigravity one day. 

Regardless of the way we get flying cars they're probably a bad idea (in large numbers for certain)! Imagine all the stupid things other drivers already do (I speak with experience living in New York City) and now multiply it by another dimension. That's at least 50% more stupidity. It might increase by the square and be 225% more stupidity.

Now imagine a car chase like on one of those police shows but in three dimensions. you're going to want a driver with a letter for his Dexterity for sure.

In the story above flying cars are fairly rare. Ground cars are not. The aeros have several restrictions. for safety reasons they are restricted in their parking to reduce the chance of an ill timed lift off taking someone already fly unaware. Apparently the fines for unauthorized operation are pretty steep too.

Higher tech planets with more air cars or more laws may ban human operation in cities or entirely and rely on autopilots. This makes us wonder about hacking such systems. Some planets may require human drivers where cybercrime is rife or robotics are just not trusted for various reasons. You might have to put in a flight plan to a central traffic authority and stick to it so ... no restroom stops unless you remember to include them. Characters will often dislike having their movements recorded and have to make do with ground transport. 

Air transportation will be easier on roads and infrastructure. On a planet where maintaining roads is difficult due to the terrain or quakes cheap air transport may be a life line. On worlds with aeros and ground cars there may be animosity between the two types of drivers. Do the roads get neglected to pay for the traffic control system or vice versa and why should drivers pay for facilities they don't use?

Grav belts compound the problem. Now you have pedestrians in the air or worse, the equivalent of cyclists; and they never seem to stay in their lane.

Some worlds may also have concerns about safety. I have yet to see an antigravity powered vehicle that wouldn't make a dandy brick. What happens when one's power cuts out (and it will)? Will airbags or restraints be any use? Will flying past a certain altitude or range need parachutes or survival gear?

My TL 7 Honda is beginning to look really good to me.