The steering wheels functioned only under emergency conditions. Manually operable vehicles were outlawed inside TransCon's ever-growing Automated Traffic Control Regions, and had been since the Speedfreak revolution in the summer of 2063.
"All we did, Trent, was we wanted to drive our own cars. And the fuckers went and outlawed them." Even after all the time, the amazement was still there in the man's voice. "So my reaction time isn't as fast as a chip's. My judgement's a hell of a lot better."
He was silent a moment, then shook his head.
"Water over the bridge. The argument's done, we lost it. But we attempted civil disobedience, Trent, almost two million of us set out from San Diego in a convoy, set out to do the Long Run. That's what we called them, the Long Runs, all the way around the world without stopping, without ever touching down on the goddamn dirt. We'd done thousands of Long Runs by '63, as individuals and in convoys. Speedfreak chapters used to pay to send members on the Long Run as presents, or rewards. In '63 two million Speedfreaks set out to do the biggest damn Long Run ever. Out of San Diego, to Hawaii, to Australia, over India, through Israel, through France, and then into the Atlantic for the trip to Capitol City."
Nathan's voice had grown harsh, strident. "The Unification Council called it treason, and we died, Trent. The Bureau of Weather Control hit us with a goddamn typhoon and eighty-five percent of us died and the ones who didn't were mostly picked up and tried for treason, they executed two hundred and thirty Speedfreaks and sent fifteen thousand into Public Labor for the rest of their lives."
The fierce glare did not leave Trent for an instant. "I was there. I was on the Long Run and I survived."
It took Trent a moment to find his voice.
"Faster, faster, faster," he said softly, "until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death."