Well kiddos, this may very well be the last post on this blog. If not the last… then the last one for quite some time.
I have come to a point in my life where I no longer have the time, money or the ability to build or support an Attack chopper or project.
And also no time to keep working on this blog, or surfing the web for photos to post.
I am pretty tied up at the moment (No snickering from you Flynch…) and have come to the conclusion that I should tie up any lose ends and give you followers a parting gift.
I wrote this little bit of fiction about a year ago for fun, and it never went any further.
It’s yours now, enjoy.
It’s been fun, thanks for all the ridiculous hater comments and for the cool folks out there that do get it…. Keep the faith.
Long live the attack chopper
Evade, Pursue, Survive
He opened his eyes and struggled to find something to focus on. All he saw was the green LED light glowing on the cordless drill battery charger. He rolled towards the nagging buzzing of his small wind up travel alarm clock that he scavenged from the junkyard 2 years ago while he was parts hunting in Texas.
He reached over and gently took it off of the over turned 30 gallon steel barrel that he used as a tool table and bedstand.
He clicked it off in the darkness with care. He liked the alarm clock. It was small, elegantly engineered in a time long ago, and it did its job well…with precision and class. He thought about the silver face of the clock as he looked at it in his hand, but saw nothing in the dark.
He laid in the darkness and remembered why he set the alarm for 9 pm.
He had a run to make tonight.
He had the ritual to start.
He sat up carefully, waking up quickly as he did, his mind already thinking ahead of him to the things he needed to do.
He reached up for the light switch mounted on the side of the work bench where he could reach it from the old army cot that he set up and slept on right against his work bench.
He snapped the lights on.
His eyes hurt from the bright light only a second… but not his head. He never drank before a run. Two days before if he had enough of a warning. If he had been drinking and he got the call to make a run within 24 hours, he turned it down no matter what the pay.
He needed his head clear and razor sharp to run.
As his eyes adjusted to the light he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the cot. He looked down at the floor and his boots. He slept in his leathers and with his small 1911 in his shoulder holster. But not with his boots on. He used to keep them on, but he decided that if he didn’t start enjoying a few small luxuries in life… he may never get to enjoy any.
Sure, he may get woken from his sleep having to fight for his life, or to run for it… but he had to start relaxing sometime. He told himself he was getting sloppy and he needed to sleep with them on and to remember to stay ahead of the other guy, stay sharp, stay focused, stay alive. High speed, low drag, be ready to move in an instant… but it was too early to be nagging himself about personal discipline. He had to get ready.
He got up and moved very carefully not to knock over his pump action Winchester shotgun that always leaned against his cot right near his head. He scooted it over to the wall, and proceeded to fold up the army cot and pack it away under the bench. He wiped his eyes and then took a drink from the small canteen that he kept on the edge of his workbench where he could reach up and find it in the dark if he should wake up thirsty. He stretched and put his boots on. He was hungry. But not hungry enough to worry about it. He could eat after the run. He didn’t want the extra weight in his stomach.
He scratched his head, wiped his eyes, yawned and looked around…leaning forward he slid the small rolling work stool closer to his bike on the small wooden work platform he had constructed from scraps of 2x4’s and plywood he had scavenged here and there. He stopped, took a deep breath and started.
He slipped his medium length extension though the full length aluminum belly pan that run the length of the bikes frame and unscrewed his drain plug.
The oil started to run into the aluminum pie pan he used as a drain pan as he caught a bit of the oil on the tip of his finger and put it straight into his mouth. He found he could feel the metal fillings on his tongue easier than he could feel them on his fingers or see them. And the taste of the oil also clued him into the condition of his clutch plates.
Hmm… the plates were ok. The metal filings were nothing to worry about. He was in great shape… this motor was holding up excellent.
He leaned over a bit and looked at the color of the oil with the light behind it… then inspected his bellypan. Big scratches to be sure. And a gouge or two. That bellypan was working beautifully. He remembered the last big hit he took jumping a curb a week ago over by the Red market. That was that big gouge there on the left.
He took out his permanent marker and marked it and then redid all the slightly faded marks next to the other big gouges. He wanted to make sure he kept track of all of them and keep a close watch on the condition of his pan. He wanted to know what he could and couldn’t do… if he took a chance and took a big hit that got through the pan… he wanted to know.
He slid his stool back and looked around his home. A tiny one stall garage is all it was. No windows, no doors other than the small overhead door. Several very bright high output fluorescent fixtures were mounted above the bike and on the walls carefully angled and deflected to keep them out of his eyes, but offer plenty of light bouncing up off the floor and across the room so he never had to deal with shadows hiding something important from him.
Packed into the very small garage was his support system… his TIG welder, his small lathe, his drill press, grinders, small tool box, various hand tools and a very minimal amount of spare parts. His wooden workbench was small and purposeful. Wall space was utilized to hold any scrap and larger tools to keep as much of his floor space open as possible. His cot was now folded up and stored underneath the work bench next to his spare motor and small torch tanks. There were no decorations save for four pictures on his walls. They were placed right above his workbench so that when he sat on his stool next to his bike and looked over the seat towards the workbench he saw the pictures dead center in his vision … one was a sharp black and white picture of a P-51 Mustang in flight looking like it was doing 6,000 miles an hour. When he looked at the photo he feels that he is the pilot. He could see in that pilots forward facing gaze… the burning focus, the intensity. He knew it well. He can hear the roar of the Merlin engine…sometimes he wakes up from a dream where he is flying the Mustang into combat and he can still hear the engine wailing and the vibration of the guns firing as he sits upright on the cot in the dark and thinks that he was shot down.
Next to that was a color painting of two Gudal Canal F4 Wildcats banking high on a squadron of Zero’s below them. They are blue with white and black US stars on the side. One Wildcat has oil streaking from under the engine cowl. He loves the painting. He knows that feeling too… feeling like death from above… coming down on the enemy high and from behind.
Next to that is a small painting of a fictional Train engine pulling a streamlined train. He assumes it is fictional because it has smoother and more majestic lines than any train engine he has ever seen. He remembers a special woman when he looks at it. He thinks of the drive to be the best, to conquer, to survive.
And then next to that is an old photograph of a Frisco style Panhead chopper from a time gone by. The Chopper is amazingly skinny and the pilot is tucked in tight. Knees high on Frisco pegs, elbows tucked in, head dipped low ,body hunched over trying to keep the his weight low and towards the front end, peering over the T-bars eyes cold with concentration as he wheelies the bike over the crest of a hill in SanFrancisco at what is no doubt a high rate of speed. The bike is light and stripped to the absolute minimum… he has stared at that photograph millions of times and wanted desperately to meet that chopper pilot… and then to run him through the streets of NeoTokyo and see how he would match up to him.
He listened to the slow gurgle of the oil falling into the pan as he reached for the spark plug wrench and pulled the boot off the plug.
He inspected the plug electrode carefully under his magnifying glass… looking good. He was happy with the burn, and thought back over the months and months of careful R&D he had to do being careful not to get caught out on the streets with the bike in a poor state of tune.
He took his time and cleaned the electrode carefully, then gapped it open just a tiny bit farther with handmade feeler gauge carefully checked every time he used it with his calipers.
He inserted the plug back into the head with his eyes closed using both hands to guide himself and then gently turned it in the threads with just two finger tips on the very end of the plug. He squeezed his eyes shut tighter and concentrated. He felt for the plug to bind, for any resistance at all… he felt none. Only when he felt the plug seat did he allow himself to open his eyes.
The music from the club above him started to pound suddenly. The dull thump of the bass cabinets soothed him. Many times he found out what day it was by the type of electronica that came soaking through the cement floor of the club. Oh good it was his favorite, acid breakbeat… must be Saturday.
His forehead tightened suddenly as he thought of the Saturday night/Sunday morning traffic he would have to fight… It made it a challenge but, he had a bit of an edge slicing through a pack of drunk drivers.
Their unexpected behavior and crazy jerky lane changes gave him the advantage. More than once he had shaken a nasty bogey by out swerving the fat tired bike with a sloppy slow handling swingarm frame and watched the exploding pieces of sport bike in his small rear view mirror as he blasted away.
He rolled his stool along the wooden platform inspecting the safety wire and looking for any unforeseen problems. He put his hands on every bolt, checked every clamp, and ran his hands along the nickel plated frame looking for cracks. He spotted a bit of rust, and promptly wiped it away with a bit of Windex on a clean rag.
He checked the safety wiring on the axle nuts. He spun the rear wheel slowly and checked his chain tension. He had already adjusted it last night, but it wasn’t luck that had kept him alive this long.
As he rolled the stool back to check the progress of his oil draining, the light caught the rainbow colored titanium pipe where he had cut and re-welded it to tuck it in tighter to make room for his boot to tuck in closer to the motor.
The oil was done.
He told himself he changed the oil way too much. It was a waste of precious money. Every four runs? Come on… who changes oil that much anymore? Maybe big name factory race teams back in the day…but there was no racing anymore… anywhere. At least not on tracks and not for trophies. And not by any rules that would be recognized by the racers of the past.
Money was hard to come by these days… and so was oil. At least the high performance oil that he ran in his bike.
He shook his head to clear the doubts… he didn’t care. He wanted to do it and he wasn’t going to live forever… and he took great pleasure in pouring the fresh oil into this motor.
He opened the footlocker hidden at the back of the small room under a oilskin tarp and was disappointed to see that he only had 20 quarts left of his special oil. He was going to have to talk to the Fixer again and see if he could get him stocked back up again.
He poured the oil into the funnel slowly and admired its honey color… he wondered how much longer he could get clean oil…
He took a break to weigh himself. 155 lbs.
He sighed…then ran his hand through his hair… it was long enough to shave off… there might be a ¼ of a pound.
He snatched up his clippers and leaned over the small trash can… he shaved his head to the scalp and caught himself wondering how much his eyebrows weighed.
He washed his head off with the hose that was attached to the spicket that sprouted without reason from the middle of the back cement wall… man; this room was amazing he thought to himself. It’ was one of the most hidden garages in NeoTokyo… he never had to worry about it being discovered and it had all the sweetest luxuries… if only it had a bathroom too.
He took a file to the titanium beartrap foot pegs and made sure the spikes were sharp. He need those suckers to bite hard into the soles of his boots… he had skipped off a quarter panel of a Caprice classic one time when he slipped a foot of the peg in the heat of battle and stomped the concrete at speed. That ankle was never right after that day and his shoulder ached whenever he ran up next to a full size Chevy.
He checked his watch and saw he was ahead of schedule… good. That’s the way he liked it. He liked the calm, quiet, careful methodical preparation… the relaxation, the calm before the run… and he liked this time even more because he knew the others would NOT be relaxing at all.
Probably hadn’t all day.
There were a lot of wolves out there that no doubt got the word that there would be a runner out tonight. He liked the thought of them out there, all juiced up trying to stay alert after all the hours of being awake and tense… sitting and watching, or patrolling… all tweaked out… the crank that they made nowadays didn’t work like the stuff back in the 90’s…. this stuff couldn’t keep you going as long as it did back in the day. And you got real shaky. Real shaky.
If there was such a thing as illegal drugs anymore, the cops wouldn’t have a hard time picking up the speed junkies… just look for the people shaking like a washing machine with too many towels in it.
No, he didn’t worry too much about the wolves that were tweaking… it was the straight edge wolves that worried him.
Tweakers couldn’t even shoot a pistol at you… they quit trying years ago. Pistols cost too much money and they missed every shot. Sometimes they even shot themselves or their partners. And they crashed so often… their bikes and their bodies where in horrible shape.
But the straight edges… they were out there too.
He went back to thinking about the pissed off juicers. He smiled.
He stood up from the stool and ran his hand along the gas tank. Underneath the aluminum armor plates it was a bright green plastic tank from an old 70’s era Japanese dirt bike. 3 gallons of weirdness perched atop of his frame. A bizarre bulbous shape that was quite a contrast to the straight lines of his rigid frame. He ran the tank because it was light, held 3 gallons of 120 octane quite nicely, took a hit very well without denting or piercing and was the only tank that he knew of that did not rust. It didn’t hurt matters that it was what the breaker had when he was in the market for a new gas tank.
He had grown to admire the odd shape of the tank, not completely symmetrical… and certainly not a traditional motorcycle tank shape… more insect than man made. He thought of wasps when he looked at it.
He took a large flathead screwdriver with a cracked wooden handle and blood stains on it and pried off a large scarred up piece of flat aluminum that was glued to the side of the tank. He had glued the armor plates onto the tank with something in a tube called liquid nails. They didn’t make it anymore, but he had found some in a store in the middle of the United States when he was running across Nebraska.
That was a long time ago… but he had kept a few of the tubes with him all these years and used it sparingly. The stuff was nasty… this was the 5th time he had replaced his armor plates on the tank… and every time he was impressed with the glue. He peeled off the three plate’s one at a time. One on each side that was bent precisely to follow the curve and wrap around the front of tank, and then one down the middle… like a dash on a fat bob Harley tank.
They left lines of bright green plastic peeking through the dull grey aluminum. The old plates had gouges and scrapes and a some serious dents… mostly from shotgun pellets . One .22 and two .380 dents had motivated him to replace the plates before this run… if someone got lucky and got shot into one of those dents…
He glued the new plates on after cleaning the plastic off, and was thinking that maybe he should start doubling up the plates… “Twice the weight” he whispered to himself and shook his head.
He stood back and looked at his bike. 198 lbs of steel, aluminum, plastic, rubber and titanium. Lightest thing on the street that he knew of. He had squeezed 60 horsepower out of the Honda CRF450 single that he had chosen for his attack chopper. The motor itself only weighed 65 lbs. Headwork, a cam, and a carefully tuned pipe was all that it took.
One plug, one carb, one pipe and one purpose: to outrun, overtake, overshoot, out accelerate, and out last every other bike on the road. Evade. Pursue. Survive. That was his motto. Holeshot after holeshot this bike had proved to be the fastest, nastiest, most nimble, most ferocious and most durable thing out there. It wasn’t quiet… many wolves knew the sound of the snarling thumper by heart… but then it didn’t matter if they heard him coming or not. It wasn’t subtle or sophisticated… but many wolves had learned the hard way that their precious fuel injected race bred superbikes didn’t work so well in the nasty nighttime streets of NeoTokyo.
They were a dying breed; the sportbikes of old… so many of them had been wadded up, or slammed into the back of a car at triple digit speeds that they were quickly becoming a thing of the past.
The wolves were starting to figure out why the smart runners always ran rigid frames.
The razor sharp handling, the fast lane changes, the connectedness that the rider felt to the bike almost like it was hard wired into their brain’s cortex, the low center of gravity, the ability to drift the bike, the superior behavior on lose surfaces… the swingarm was dead… long live the attack chopper.
This bike was the culmination of years of building and refining his ideas. He had been running for a long time. He was one of the lucky ones… he was able to cut his teeth back when running wasn’t so dangerous. People weren’t as desperate for money as they were now. The wolves treated it more as a sport than as a means of survival like they did now. All they wanted was your cargo back then. Now they wanted you dead. That and your bike.
Or at least his bike.
For centuries people coveted the better tools thinking that was all it took to win or to succeed.
If I just had that sling…that bow … that gun… that knife… that car… that bike.... then I would be top dog.
People never learned. They never saw the edge in the competitor… always in the tools.
He checked the pressure in his tires, and then checked the angle of his hand guards. Aluminum and steel shielded his hands from car mirrors, swinging chains, bats, pipes, bullets, and other handlebars. Your hands were your life… you could ride and live with a messed up leg, or even an arm depending on how bad it was… but you crush a couple of fingers or smash a wrist? You’re done for. He could live with the extra weight up high for some much needed peace of mind. Not to mention that he wasn’t fond of riding with broken clutch or brake levers.
He topped of the tank with his race fuel from the blue plastic motocross jug with the Pro circut sticker on the side. At least he still had a good source for race fuel. He hoped it would last.
He set the blue jug down, and unlatched a small aluminum thermos from the frames backbone right behind the motor and in front of a small aluminum box that sat of the bottom of the frame right in front of the back tire. He opened it and tilted it into the light to check the contents… he had filled it last week. No leaks but he stilled liked to see the gas in there with his own eyes before a run. It may have only been 20 oz of emergency fuel, but you would sell your left nut for a float bowl full of gas if you are in the wrong place with an empty tank. He hated the extra weight, but it the lesson was one he had learned long ago when he lost a bike to a pack of scavengers in the middle of Iowa.
He strapped it back in place and gave the cap and extra twist to be sure it was tight.
He stopped and stared. All that was left was the box.
A runner always had a cargo and his was always in that box. Mounted as low as possible and a mere 8x4x4 inches big, made from aluminum with latches on all 4 sides and 2 key locks built into it.
He never knew what he ran with.
Drugs weren’t illegal anymore. Maybe it was cash, but he doubted it.
What could the Titans have needed to be delivered by the runners all these years?
Why was the package always the same size?
Why did they never find a better way to deliver it?
Some people said that the Titans had made the whole thing up as a game. One big death race to bet on. They created the whole mess just for amusement.
If that was the case then they did a great job of hiding their presence in the streets. What was the use of sport if you couldn’t watch it? The TV never aired anything like it… just news reports about random crashes and deaths of a wolf or a runner.
He never saw any Titans along the streets, anywhere. Not that they couldn’t be there…. But all these years? And in all those countries?
It didn’t matter. He didn’t care what it was, or what their motives were.
He made good money, and got to ride fast all the time. He wasn’t starving somewhere, and he wasn’t sleeping on the streets or in the woods, or a field. He didn’t have to worry about scavengers or cannibals. The world may have fallen apart, but it wasn’t so far gone that money didn’t matter anymore. He had cash, and he could use it… and by god, that’s just what he was going to do.