“In 2132 the GS1100 was born - the first triple-gyro flyke. Top speed 304 kph, VLC 40m, LV 9.2 m/s. The next breakthrough came almost eight years later, but not in the Braddon Wentworth® labs. In Japan, Tamakaya® produced the first (and incidentally the last) flyke to be fitted with the so-called 'Infinite Spiral' gear system and the Tamakaya® 1600 Turbo was born.
“Boasting a top speed of 885 kph, the revo-lutionary speeds of the TG-1600 were due to a new method of Gyrotor current modulation, whereby the gear-effect could be sustained indefinitely - Cyclic Gearing. The rider could simply change up or down to produce an artificial gear-ratio. There was in effect only one gear - extended to infinity. 885 kph was the extrapolated maximum - according to the equations and taking air resistance into account - and so this was taken as the specified top speed. It was, however, a purely theoretical limit, as the flyke had never actually been tested beyond that speed...”
As I walked slowly towards the group, the girls exchanged glances and as one hopped off their pillions and stepped back, watching me closely. The rest stayed on their flykes, their eyes flicking between me and Jefferson. So what! I thought. So what if he's trying to wind me. So what he’s succeeding! So freckin' what!
I stopped a metre or so in front of the grinning shazzer, sitting arrogantly astride his huge and battered Triumph.
“Well, well, Jefferson K!” I put as much sneer into it as I could. “Long time no see. Me run away? From a scag like you?”
Jefferson's smile hardly faltered as his gaze held mine.
“He calls me a scag, guys!” Jefferson raised his hands in mock-outrage, winking at his comrades as they hung on every word, their moronic grins mirroring his.
“Adrian Vonner, Mister Acey-Racey-on-the-Casey!” he sneered. “Wot challenged me back in '44, then sloked before the race!”
“You shut your slap! You know what happened!” I snapped at him. I was losing it, but I didn't care anymore. “They were after me for Ghost! I had to fargin' well run!”
“Yeah!” Jefferson leaned back on the saddle. “You ran, dincha, an' dropped it all on to me! I wuz the one wot got dragged into the cells an' had to face the china! I wuz the one who got boxed!” He thumped his chest angrily and glared at me. The years hadn't been kind to him. Cropped hair, an ugly scar across the left cheek, two more broken teeth.
“Not my problem, Jefferson. You race, you gotta take the heat with the cold.” I shook my head. “They were looking for me, and you were in the way.” I shrugged, forcing myself to remain calm.
“Yeah, you left lotsa fings behind, Vonner!” Winking at me, Jefferson twisted round and pointed behind him. “Remember anyone?”
I hadn’t noticed her at first, she’d changed so much. Grown her hair for a start. But yeah, I did recognise one of the girls standing at the back behind the group of flykes, hands folded, watching me closely from beneath a shock of thick purple fringe. I nodded to her.
“Hi Jayne. You with Jefferson's gang of pokey-nopes now, then?”
Jayne Morrissey said nothing, still watching me. Shaz! Even in the old days I'd never know what she was thinking from one minute to the next. Always went her own sweet way, did Jayne Morrissey, jumping from one poor loser to another.
“Yeah, Ady. She's wiv us, now!” Jefferson grinned. “You got a problem wiv that?” Reached behind him he crooked a grubby finger in the girl’s direction. “Come ‘ere babe. Ady wants ter say ‘allo!”
Jayne ignored him, thrusting her hands into her jacket pockets, and Jefferson’s grin faltered. “You come ‘ere, gerl! You bliddin’ well come ‘ere!”
In spite of myself, I grinned. Yeah, maybe she had her hooks into Jefferson now…though if she did, her tastes had slipped. Well, good luck to the both of them. Suddenly, I felt old, old and too tired for all this bullshaz. I sighed and shook my head.
“Nar, Jefferson. No objections. You're welcome to her, pal.”
I turned on my heel and began tightening up my jacket as I walked back to my flyke. Behind me I could hear Jefferson's cronies muttering, could still feel Jayne's eyes on me.
Would they try anything? Bottle me? A kick and a can? Nar, from what I remembered, jump ‘n’ run wasn’t Jefferson's style. Anyway, judging by the wasted looks of some of them, pokey-nopes was about right - Jefferson's little group looked like mostly 'K' freaks. That was where Jefferson had got his nickname - during his dealing days. And once a phazehead, always a phazehead.
As I reached the Harley, my brain was still skewing. Meeting Jefferson again, after all this time. And Jayne too. Seeing Jayne brought it all back, and it still hurt.
Stupid kreb! I muttered to myself. You shouldn't have come back!
I swung my leg over the saddle, nodding to myself. Pick up my gear. Say bye to Mum. Hit the Interstate. Back in Nottingham by early evening. Farg Jefferson K, farg Jayne Morrissey, farg 'em all!
And then behind me, a voice sneered.
“Hey, Ady! You wanna raaaace…?”