By Dwayne MacInnes
Scott sped his dirty black muscle car down the battered pockmarked road that used to be Interstate 94. Dirt swirled in the air behind him leaving a telltale cloud resembling smoke from a burning vehicle. A destroyed and burning vehicle was a sight very familiar to Scott. Many of those vehicles were ones he destroyed; others were the victims of the roving packs of wasters.
The sun was high in the sky and its heat beat mercilessly down upon the parched wasteland. Over a decade ago, this all would have been part of the American Breadbasket. Now, it was the Great American Desert or as most people called it -- The Wastes. Scott took a sip from his water bottle as the car bumped down the rough highway. The warm water felt great washing away the dust and dirt coating the inside of his mouth, which was brought on by days of traveling through this sun baked and weathered land. The dead gray skeletal trees passed by in a vast sea of hard packed earth, most of the loose topsoil had blown away long ago.
A quick scan of the monitor mounted in the dash told Scott that he had company joining him from the rear. Boiler plating now replaced the rear and side windows of the 1970 Dodge Charger. A modest slit in both the driver and passenger's side steel plated windows allowed Scott to scan his mirrors. The windshield was reinforced bulletproof glass. Other modifications included the steel armor that encased the former muscle car, bulletproof tires, a beefed up suspension, an enclosed environmentally controlled cab, and a larger more powerful turbocharged engine to pull the heavier car. Two huge fifty-gallon self-sealing gas tanks took up the rear seat. There were no fears of gas shortages anymore. Not since the Big Bang that is. Nestled between the tanks were Scott's provisions and his .30-06 hunting rifle.
The camera mounted in the trunk revealed a gang of bikers closing in on Scott's Charger. Chances are that this meant trouble, but there was always the chance that these were Light Scouts escorting a convoy. Scott readied the two .30 caliber machineguns mounted inside the front fenders. The two .50s mounted outside the fenders Scott kept in reserve. He did not like to waste the ammo if he could avoid it. Being a Scout paid well, but .50 ammo still tended to be pricey.
Scott had been driving close to 100 miles per hour before he noticed the bikers. His car could easily do 120 or even 130 if he pushed it. Even with the problems of maneuvering a heavy car like this at high speeds, it would not be a problem on the old straight North Dakota highway as it bisected the horizon, diminishing in the distance. However, Scott did not want to run, he gradually slowed the Charger down. The roar of the engine relaxed to a purr as the vehicle reached 80. The bikers rapidly closed in.
Ding! Ding! Bullets from the light rifles (probably .30-06 hunting rifles) on the bikes told Scott that these were not friends. The small caliber rifle fire could not penetrate the Charger's armor; nonetheless, Scott did not like the idea of someone shooting at him. He waited until the bikers were close to his rear before he slammed on the brakes.
The bikers were caught by surprised. They evidently had never dealt with a Scout before. Two of the cyclists slammed into the trunk crushed between their bikes and the rear armor. Four others shot around the Charger and regrouped in front of it. Scott smiled behind his helmet; these wasters were obviously new to the game. He accelerated and depressed the finger trigger mounted behind the steering wheel. The .30 guns opened up tearing one biker to shreds before the Charger pounced upon the motorcycle's wreckage like a tiger on a deer. There was a slight bump inside the cab as Scott drove over the waster and his bike.
Two bikers peeled off in opposite directions and headed for the open land, the third tried to outrun the Charger on the road. The lighter motorcycle was pretty much stock from its original construction. Whatever modifications done to it was the mounting of a rifle to the front and maybe some engine work. Therefore, it took off like a jackrabbit before a hound.
The bike may be faster and more maneuverable than the modified Charger. However, there is one thing it was not. Scott depressed the trigger again. The .30 guns spat fire and steel at the fleeing waster. Within seconds, driver and cycle were just another smoking pile of broken wreckage on the highway.
These wasters were inexperienced; then again, no one since the Big Bang had decided to scout out the northern roads before. The wasters were more than likely used to preying on helpless nomads or the occasional lightly guarded convoy trying a new and unsecured route. However, once this road was open to trade the Twin Cities could join the rest of the recuperating United States.