By Blackjack [Blackjack's Shadowrun Page:] [] [@BlackjackSRx]

Posted: 1996-05-27

The following is a collection of four excerpts from the book "Asphalt: A Rigger's Philosophy", the autobiography of Mercer McKay, better know by the name which titles his life story. Copyright 2054 SimonEl Press, Memphis, Tennessee, CAS.

I know how the first riggers felt. I was one of them. I recall the sheer terror that accompanied the now common place installation of a datajack. We respected and feared that hole in our head the way many respect and fear God. As far as we were concerned it was a bridge into our very soul. Nightmares assaulted us all. Mine were visions of my mind draining through the circuitry, down the socket, out of my skull, and onto the pillow. When I see people today, their skulls lined with plugs and wires and chips, I feel nauseous. Each individual hole represents another violation of the mind's sacred home. They flaunt this weakness like a new car.

The car. My test vehicle was an arrest me red Dodge Stealth 2029, one of the last to appear before the company was nearly wiped out in the crash. It was the perfect specimen of highway energy. The interior contrasted starkly against the gleaming, seamless, smooth beauty of its shell. The passenger seat was filled with what looked like a mad man's science project, portable mainframes wired into relays wired into more mainframes with countless more wires running into holes in the dashboard, sideboards, and upholstery. I crammed myself into the driver's seat, cables dangling and criss crossing the cabin, the dashboard a foot closer to me than normal due to the amount of electronic shit tacked onto it. Only one thing stood out in the whole electro-gothic mess. A single gold plated data plug hanging from where the dome light once had been. I fumbled with the jack momentarily, gazed up at the assisting scientist and, attempting to crack a smile, asked "So, where's the key?".

The man grinned. "You won't need one."

And with that he closed the door. I sat there in silence. The most deafening silence I have ever encountered. I was alone. Cables blocked my vision, I couldn't even see out. Then, taking one last look at the jack in my hand, I pushed my hair back and plugged myself in.

I was alone no more.

Nobody can survive life without a set of beliefs. Anybody who tells you anything else might as well be dead. I mean, Christ, how can anyone NOT believe in something? I guess there are a few around, we usually refer to them as suicides.

When you drive you have a lot of time to think about these things. And when you drive for more than half of your waking hours you learn a lot more than where the drive-thurs are. The road is a pretty good parallel of life. Something as simple as the double yellow line can develop into an idea to live by. If you stay on your side of the road you're pretty safe. Nobody bothers you and you move along at a nice easy pace. Eventually you get to where you're going. If you cross the line you have a million things to worry about; cops, oncoming cars, etc. But it also gives you a chance to pass, a chance to jump ahead and make up time, time you can use to get something else done. You skip ahead and ninety nine percent of the time get back on your side with no problems.

I've seen way too many people jump the line and just keep going. They drive and live holding the idiotic belief that the cops have all gone to Mars and nobody else decided to drive that day. When the semi finally pops over the hill they sometimes make it back. Sometimes.

I had a friend named Maverick who used to eat, sleep, piss, shower, play poker, screw, drink, and do Lord knows what else in his van. He called himself a true rigger. To him the world began at the van's front bumper and ended at the rear. He never left. We'd talk, sometimes argue, about this. He'd always attack by saying the more time he spent with his vehicle the better he got. I agreed. He was the best driver I had met in my entire life. But I would ask him: "When was the last time you saw the city without it being warped by the curvature of your windshield? When was the last time you actually touched the road you drive upon?" He'd tell me he was happy doing what he was doing. I never could understand why. It was as if he was shutting out the 99.9999999 percent of the world that wasn't within the confines of his vehicle. You can learn a lot about the world from the inside of a car. But you can also learn a lot about what it means to be inside of the car by experiencing the world without it.

We had a conversation similar to this the night he was killed. It was a simple pickup at the docks. A primitive mine slipped past his sensors and tore apart the drive shaft of his van. I later learned he had a good twenty minutes to get away. Instead he sat there, revving the engine, shifting through useless gears, staying within the "safety" of his beloved van. All he had to do was run. I don't think he knew how.

Asphalt's Ten Commandments

1. Always have a full tank of gas. Even if it's almost on full, get more. You never know when you'll have another chance.

2. Never cut anybody off. Your armor may be good, but their weapons might be better.

3. Know where you're going. Even the best rigger can't out maneuver a dead end.

4. Know where you've been. That pot hole may not have broken your axle on the way in, but it might on the way out.

5. If you don't have to fly, don't fly. There are a hell of a lot more garages than there are landing strips.

6. Own a Jackrabbit. You don't need four hundred horses and an assault cannon to go to the supermarket.

7. Never park where you live. Why should they worry about taking out your car when they can skip a step and simply take out you?

8. Three lefts make a right. Any one who follows the same motions is following you.

9. Paint is cheap. One coat and their APB doesn't mean shit.

10. Take a walk from time to time. It'll do wonders for your respect of mechanical transportation.