Mark A Davis
"I apologize Mr. Anarchy," said Annie Two, the Anarchy Computer AI. "I really thought you'd be pleased with the change. Your old vehicle was not well maintained, and there is your own safety to consider. In addition, you are a high-profile hero who really ought to be driving an appropriate vehicle, not something that is essentially rust held together with duct tape. I was amazed the thing still ran...."
The AI that appeared on a large screen in the Anarchy Cave was a young woman with black hair tied back in a tight bun. Reading glasses perched on her nose -- although what a computer AI needed with glasses remained a mystery. She was dressed like someone from the Victorian era, or perhaps like a conservative Steampunk cosplayer who did not go in for all of the cogs and gears and brass goggles.
Grandpa Anarchy and his current sidekick -- a young woman in a sleek black and silver outfit who called herself F8Wasp (pronounced Fate Wasp) and who had built the new Anarchy Computer II and who, not coincidentally, resembled Annie a great deal -- were standing in the center of the cavernous room. Before them was a sleek new vehicle -- a sports car that looked as if it could win any race without even the need to start the engine first. It was speed personified, in a sleek, black shape that looked as if it were already in motion. A silver anarchy symbol appeared on the hood and on each door of the coupé.
"What we have here," said Annie, "is the Anarchy Vehicle II -- a custom modified Aspid GT-21 Invictus sports car, 2-door coupé, front engine, rear-wheel driver, powered by a BMW 4.4 liter V8 engine with 450 horsepower and weighing less than 2,182 lbs. It's capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds and has a top speed of 187 mph. This, Mr. Anarchy, is a vehicle suited for one of the world's most famous heroes."
"Well I don't like it," Grandpa groused. "I've never driven a fancy sports car in my life -- not even when I was young." He paused, then added, "Well, except for my Nash Roadster, of course -- that was pretty fast for the time. And there was my Bugatti Type 35T, too, that was a speed demon of a machine. My 1928 Bentley 4 Liter Le Mans Sports car could beat anyone, and then in 1929 I got the Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK. Later on I upgraded to an Alfa Romeo Tipo C 8C-35, and then to my Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster, loved that car, it was fast as anything.
"But you know, other than that I've never gone in for fast sports cars," he added. "Besides, what was wrong with the car I had? My 1958 AMC Ambassador Station Wagon was the only thing in this cave that wasn't build by one of my sidekicks! I bought it brand new, right after the Studebaker died, and it still has the original tires!"
"Had," said Annie Two. "It's been disposed of. Trust me, Mr. Anarchy, your new car -- should you maintain it properly, which I will be certain to remind you to do -- will also last a very long time."
Grandpa frowned. "Well, seeing as I have no choice," he grumbled, and opened the door and slid inside. F8Wasp slid into the passenger seat.
The interior was larger than one might expect from a futuristic sports car. Grandpa and F8Wasp sank into rich black leather bucket seats. Grandpa slipped on leather gloves, gripped the wheel, and looked over an array of speedometers, dials, and computer screens.
Annie's face appeared on a small video screen in the center dashboard. "This car has many advanced enhancements that should aid you in your crime fighting," she said. "Shall I list them for you? There's onboard GPS, drone-based CTS tracking of criminals, computerized driverless technology, forward and rear-mounted machine guns...."
"A talking car!" Grandpa interrupted. "Just like that Knight Rider show!"
"Hardly, Mr. Anarchy," the AI replied. "I am not a part of the car. However, I can communicate with you through this interface and aid you as needed. This is a very advanced car built to my specifications -- I tried to anticipate everything you might need or could use."
Grandpa frowned. "Who's paying for all of this?" he demanded.
"You are, of course," the computer replied. "Do not worry, Mr. Anarchy, you can easily afford it. Your finances are in very good hands."
"Great," muttered Grandpa. "My computer's making financial decisions for me. The takeover has already begun!"
He started the car, which roared to life with a throaty rumble. "Well, let's see how it handles," he said, shifting into gear. Ahead of them was the ramp that lead up out of the Anarchy Cave, around several bends, and eventually exited into the back alley.
F8Wasp quickly buckled up. "Be careful, Grandpa," she said. "This is finely tuned and powerful machine. It's very easy to...."
Grandpa stepped on the accelerator. The car shot forward, up the ramp, and into the wall at the first turn.
"The GT-21 Invictus will take two months to fully repair," said Annie Two. It was three days later. F8Wasp had her arm in a sling, and a bandage around her head. Grandpa, in typical fashion, was already recovered and showing no signs that he'd been in an accident at all. The two of them were once again gathered in the Anarchy Cave, inspecting a new car.
"Indeed," the computer added, "it is only the fact that this is a very expensive custom-built car that prevents it from being totaled. In the meantime, I've prepared a backup model, which we shall call the Anarchy Vehicle III...."
"Now this," said Grandpa, staring at the sleek silver sports car with anarchy symbols in a darker gray on the doors, "I like! An Aston Martin DB5, just like James Bond drove! 1964! Goldfinger! Now we're talking!"
"I suspected that you would appreciate something that was not so modern," said the AI. "It has, of course, been given the same crime-fighting upgrades as the Invictus."
"I thought you liked your rusting AMC station wagon?" F8Wasp asked.
"It was a good car, but that's ancient history," Grandpa said. "Besides, did James Bond ever drive a station wagon? I don't think so!"
An alarm sounded. Red lights flashed. Annie Two said, "Grandpa, we're getting a report of a bank robbery in progress at First National on Main Street...."
"I'm on it!" Grandpa exclaimed, climbing into the new car. "Come on, F8Wasp, let's roll!"
An hour later Grandpa Anarchy and F8Wasp stood in front of the First National Bank and watched as police hauled the bank robber away.
"Good work, Grandpa," said Police Chief Capernicus. He shook his head. "Everyone knows that the famous Grandpa Anarchy lives in Frosthaven, and still they try to rob our banks. I just don't get it."
"Criminals don't think, in my experience," Grandpa said. He turned to the street and paused. "Hey! Where's my Aston Martin DB5?"
"It's gone!" F8Wasp exclaimed. "Grandpa, did you lock it?"
"Lock it?" Grandpa replied. "Can't a talking car lock itself?
Police Sargent Shakespeare took out his notebook. "So... a stolen car as well? A lot of brazen criminals on the loose tonight...."
"The DB5 is in Mexico," Annie Two reported. It was two days later, and a new sleek sports car -- dubbed the Anarchy Vehicle IV -- was sitting in the Anarchy Cave. It was red, with silver anarchy symbols detailed on the doors and hood. "I have been tracking it via GPS ever since it was stolen -- but the chances of getting it back at this point seem slim.
"This would not be a problem if you had not encouraged F8Wasp to disengage the computer autopilot system...."
"Can't have a computer driving my car for me," Grandpa said.
"In the meantime," said the computer, "your new replacement is this electric Tesla DarkStar Roadster....."
"Electric?" Grandpa exclaimed. "What good's an electric car? There isn't an extension cord long enough to even pop down to the local grocery, never mind racing through the streets chasing criminals!"
"This 2012 model can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds," Annie continued, ignoring Grandpa's rant. "It has a range of 244 miles on a single charge, and given that you never drive further than New York City, and with me making certain it is always charged up when it's here, I thought that the environmentally conscious choice was the best option. It is, of course, also very fast...."
"I've never been environmentally conscious in my life!" Grandpa exclaimed. "I don't see why I should be starting now! Gasoline was good enough for the generation that fought in the second great war, so it ought to be good enough for anybody! I don't need a fancy computer AI telling me I gotta conserve energy!"
"It's just a car, Grandpa," said F8Wasp. "Besides, the GT-21 Invictus will be fixed eventually...."
"Another car I didn't ask for!" Grandpa nearly shouted. "What was wrong with the car I already had, is what I want to know?"
"Do I really need to answer that question?" F8Wasp replied. She slid into the passenger seat. "Now come on, we've got a meeting with Idiot Ball and his criminal organization to break up."
It was evening, with the sun having just set. Grandpa looked down on the warehouse by the bay, far below his perch atop a cliff.
"The way I figure it," he said, "is we can drive down that winding road all the way to the warehouse, and Idiot Ball and his boys will know we're coming ten minutes before we get there."
"That's probably why they picked this as a meeting point," F8Wasp agreed.
"Or," said Grandpa, "we can -- now, stick with me for a moment on this -- we can launch this car over the cliff, barrel straight down, and plow through the wall of the warehouse in less than a minute. That ought to catch them off guard, don't you think?"
"Grandpa," said F8Wasp, "that would destroy your brand new and very expensive Tesla."
"I know," said Grandpa. "I don't see the downside either. Buckle up!"
"I find it remarkable," said Annie Two, "that you drove the same cheap station wagon for more than fifty years, and yet inside a week you've lost or destroyed three very expensive sports cars, all of which were specifically designed for crime fighting. In other words, much more suited to the rigors of a superhero lifestyle. Almost as if you meant to destroy or lose these cars...."
"Hey, things happen," Grandpa said. "It's not all under my control. I mean, I liked the Aston Martin...."
Grandpa Anarchy was deep in the Anarchy Cave, arguing with his computer -- as he'd been doing for the last several days. Annie had called him down, saying she had a surprise for him.
"Even with your long crime fighting history in my data base, I am still learning new things about how you think and work, Grandpa," the AI said. "But this time I do believe I have got it right. May I present your new Anarchy Vehicle V?"
F8Wasp drove the car into view. Grandpa stared at it. "It's... a station wagon," he said.
"Not just any station wagon," the computer replied. "This your AMC Ambassador Station Wagon, the original Anarchy Vehicle that you bought in 1958. I had it pulled from the junk yard and completely restored -- as well as upgraded with all the same crime fighting technology as the other cars. In short, it's not just the car you've owned for over fifty years, Grandpa -- it's better than it ever was before."
Grandpa continued to stare at the car. Finally he said, "But why would I want to drive an old station wagon?"