|Name: JON WALLACE
Author of: BARRICADE (2014)
On the web: thingaboutchickens.blogspot.co.uk
On Twitter: @Jon__Wallace
Kenstibec is the main character in Barricade. He is a member of the ‘Ficial’ race, a breed of merciless super-humans optimised for soldiering, engineering and other vital roles. They fought a war against humanity and turned Britain into a wasteland. Now they live in barricaded cities, besieged by tribes of human survivors.
Kenstibec earns his keep as an armoured taxi driver, driving fellow Ficials from city to city. It’s not an easy job: getting a fare to a destination is not guaranteed when you have mined roads, corrosive rain and ambushing tribes to contend with.
A number of competing taxi franchises have sprung up in this challenging transport environment, offering very different vehicles. Here Kenstibec describes the main competitors, and his taxi own firm.
1. Aircraft: Ardeb Airways:
Ardeb is a frustrated Medical Model. Took up flying to take his mind off the cull, which rather conflicts with his Hippocratic optimisation. Flies nap-of-the-earth most of the way, a real skilled flyer by all accounts – but he only visits York and Leeds barricades as the others don’t have landing strips.
Unarmed “King Air”. Maximum speed: 315 MPH. Constantly requires treatment as weather chews through hydraulics for fun, even at the altitudes he flies. Flying that low means you generally pass any SAM-toting lunatic before he sees you – but you will get a strong taste of small arms fire. Be prepared to pick bullets out your rear for days after landing.
Also, your chances of completing the trip halve with every trip – that plane is going down one day. Ardeb treats the surfaces with anti-corrosive strips, but they’re usually fried by the middle of the return journey. After a crash, the last thing you want is to search a ten-mile debris field for your luggage.
Sure, he gets you where you’re going quick, but it’s one shaky ride and it’s damn expensive. The days of stylish air travel are dead. There’s not even an in flight meal.
2. Boat: Lennos:
Lennos is a former Rig Mechanic Model optimised for the ocean wave. Lives on his own on Lincolnshire Island. Only pops up when in need of supplies, so service is haphazard at best. Offers short jaunts to Liverpool or Portsmouth and even to Brixton along the dangerous Thames route.
Ex UK Border Force 42m cutter, with heavy adaptations – he named it Pander. Maximum Speed: 77 MPH. Armed with two automated GPMG positions to shred any tribal skiff that ventures too close. Powerful Ficial-designed Project 1208B-VV engines give the craft serious pace and manoeuvrability.
Sounds good right? Don’t sign up just yet. The craft is poorly suited to new littoral environment. Gronts hull is poorly fixed and takes on water. Several passengers had to literally hold the ship together under fire, while Lennos made repairs. In addition corrosive fogs chew up automated gun systems, causing them to misfire at awkward moments – alerting nearby tribes and shredding fares.
Seriously, not a good option. Lennos has a reputation for being unreliable and constantly late. Worse, his navigation skills are not what they ought to be. If you fancy taking three weeks to creep around The Great Humber Floodplain, beaching on submerged housing, sign up. If you just want to get where you’re going, find another way.
3. Tank: Optant Travel:
Optant is a Solider Model. After bomb dropped he drove tank all the way from Salisbury plain. One of a number of armoured fighting vehicle offerings at the beginning of Barricade days, but now one of the last tankists in business.
Vickers Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. Maximum speed: 25-30 MPH. Armed with L30A1 rifled gun, 7.62 Cuploa machine gun, Gronts armour. There’s not much the Reals have that can challenge it, apart from maybe another tank, but I don’t believe they have the expertise to keep complex machinery like that in order. Optant’s adaptations have also made it well resistant to IEDs and the like, which took out many of his fellow tankists. Still, I would never drive a tank. You can’t see out, and progress is way too leisurely.
OK, I can see why you might think this a better option than what we offer: all that armour and weaponry can look attractive. But let me tell something about tanks: they’re slow, and they break down. They’re also hard to repair. There’s a reason Optant is the last tankist standing. Think about that when he gives you his sales pitch.
4. Landy: Shersult Taxis:
Shersult, another ex-soldier model, manages a varied fleet of augmented cars, driven by various models including me. We pride ourselves on reliability, customer service and lethality.
My own choice is a heavily adapted Land Rover Defender, produced by Rick’s Garage, Edinburgh. Complete on-board small arms provision. Limited Gronts armor plating. Top Speed: 165MPH. Other drivers favour other set-ups, but I believe in light, nippy, all-terrain transport.
Also, I occasionally use human guides. They are very useful if you want to pick your way quietly across the countryside. I pride myself on delivering luggage intact and unharmed, unlike some other drivers who think shooting their way along a straight line is the only option. I don’t underestimate people. I only kill them.
The sheer number of our drivers should indicate the extent to which our business model is successful. Choose Shersult taxis every time for reliable, speedy, safe travel. Also, tips are included in the final fare.
Barricade by Jon Wallace is published on the 19th June by Gollancz. You can download your e-book copy of Barricade for £1.99 until the 26th June 2014!