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The Road Ahead

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RMR RC Model XL-5 was unamused. He'd been boxed at the factory with carefully gloved hands, then spent an inordinate amount of time in cool, dark cardboard-smelling environs before being loaded noisily into some sort of shipping container, then into an oily truck, then had been what felt like (but surely couldn't be) beamed onto a space ship or something, because somehow he was floating for a split second in no gravity at all before he felt the hum of gigantic engines under his wheels.

He heard yelling from inside the box next to him.

"Wahooo! Wooooooo! What a ride!"

"Excuse me? Are you insane?"

"Huh? Is somebody there?"

"Yes! And I'd think you'd want to keep it down. We might be under human surveillance, here."

"We're in a cardboard box. Inside our packaging."

"Yes, well. Good point, I suppose."

"Hey. I'm John. I'm a JPS Nitro EVO RS4."

Rodney heard the distinct whirring of wheels trying to engage against plastic sheeting. "You're an RC car, too?"

"Top of the line. I can do 50 miles per hour on the flats! How about you?"

"Hmmph. It's not always about speed, you know." Rodney ignored the snort. "I'm built for tough terrain. Something you speed-heads know nothing about it. You’ve got no clearance at all—hit a little pothole and you get knocked straight on your rear bumper,” he said smugly.

"No, I meant, what's your name."

"Oh. I'm Rodney. RMR RC Model XL-5."

"Nice to meet you, Rodney. Any idea where we're headed?"

"I'm completely in the dark," Rodney said, deadpan, and grinned quietly to himself at John's snicker.

"Well, once we get there, we'll have to hit the road together."

That might be all right. Rodney thought it would be good not to be completely solo on his first mission. Who knew what they might encounter in space? On another planet? It was frankly shivering his bolts to think about. And John sounded...nicely built. If a little revved-up.

"I’d be amenable," Rodney said, “even if your suspension is completely substandard.”

“Hey! At least I don't waddle like a duck!”

"As if. It's called terrain rocking. Listen, I'm running low on power. But it was...nice to meet you, John."

"You too, Rodney." There was a tap against the side of Rodney's box, as if John had bumped his door between them. "We'll drive soon."

"Drive soon." Rodney tapped back, then switched into power-save with a sigh.