Deleted Scene ~ Caveman Swap
Ranger Dan smiled and nodded at the other four. “Are we ready for this?”
“Let’s do it,” said Roberto.
“Great,” said Dan. “Arcon, you’re with Elaina. You don’t mind if we keep your clothes, do you?”
“I’ll get them back, right?”
“You sure will,” said Dan. “Just the way they are now.”
Ranger Becca laughed and said, “That’s because his wife is out of town, and he wouldn’t have a clue how to clean leather clothes.”
“All right then,” said Dan. “Dwight, let’s get you changed. Roberto, you’re going to stay here with Becca, right? I don’t expect trouble, but I don’t want to leave her alone, either.”
“I’ll stay at least till the crowd disperses.”
“Great. Everyone to their places.” He looked at Elaina and Arcon and said, “Good luck, you two. Be careful.”
“We will,” said Elaina. “Bye, everybody. See ya later, Dad.”
Arcon felt dumbstruck as he followed Elaina out the door. He didn’t know what was happening, but he was glad to be paired with her. As they walked up to her car, he looked it over carefully. He pointed at the trailer and asked, “Am I riding back here?”
“No, silly. That’s the drone trailer. It’s full. Here, let me show you where you’ll be.” She pointed at the back of the car, and it popped open.
Arcon looked at the car, then looked at her hand. “How did you do that?”
She held a small, black object out to him. “It’s called a remote. Let me get some of this stuff out of the way.” She pulled some bags and clothes out and set them on top of the car. Then she reached in and collapsed the seat. “Sorry, it’s going to be a bit cramped back here, but it’s just temporary. Crawl in with your head to the front.”
Arcon peered into the back of the car. “The South Outpost has beds like this. A little longer, though.” He climbed in and squirmed toward the front. Then he lay on his side so he could pull his legs in.
“Now, see if you can flatten yourself out. That’s good. Separate your legs some more. Great. Now I’ll pile this stuff back on top of you.” Elaina laid some hanging clothes on top of him. Then she pulled some towels out of the bags and stuffed them around him. After scattering the rest here and there, she said, “Looks good. Are you okay under there?”
He heard the back hatch close; then another door opened near him. He felt something press hard against his head. “Is that you?” he asked.
“Oh, yeah, sorry. Let me move the seat up another notch.”
He heard a click and felt the pressure relieve. “That’s better.” As soon as he said that, he felt the vehicle start to move, but he didn’t hear a rumble like Roberto’s car. He thought about that and asked, “Is this one electric?”
“This car? Yeah, mostly. There are electric motors on the wheels that are powered by the caps, but there’s a gas motor for the front wheels just in case.”
“In case of what?”
“In case the electric motor fails. It can also charge the caps and give us an emergency power source. Most emergency vehicles like ours are dual-sourced since we work in remote areas. The wheel under your feet is only electric. I’m using that right now because I’m trying to sneak out of here. Hold on for a second. I’m coming up to the main road.”
The crunching noise under the car slowed down, then stopped. Then the car sped up without the crunching noise. He felt a nudge, and the car started a quiet rumble. “Okay, we’re on the road, and I just switched the drive train. Now a motor that runs on gas is driving my front wheels.”
“Now it sounds more like Mr. Roberto’s car.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Daddy has a bad electric motor he needs to get fixed, so he’s using the gas motor right now. But he uses the electric motor in the rear too. You just can’t hear it.”
When she said that, Arcon heard the rumble stop. “What just happened?”
“I switched back to electric, so I can show you something. Once in a while, you’ll hear a whine from the electric motor under your feet. When I’m braking, I use that motor to slow me down and charge the caps. Sometimes when I go up a hill, I use it to give me a boost in power. I can do the same thing in the front, but the rear one does it better.”
“Why is that?”
“I’m not sure. A different kind of motor, I guess. Does any of this make sense to you?”
“Hmmm. Most of it, I think. One of the Founders was a real genius with electrical stuff. I read a lot of books he had. What are caps?”
“Uhh, that’s short for super-capacitors. They’re like a battery. They store electricity for the motor. We have different sizes for different things. Cars use the biggest ones, drones use smaller ones, and the earpiece you had used the tiniest ones.”
Arcon thought about that for a minute. “I remember reading about super-capacitors. They’re probably different now.”
“They haven’t changed any in my lifetime,” said Elaina.
“If this has an engine and an electric motor, is it a hybrid?”
“I suppose you could call it that. But we use that term more with plants. Most cars are just electric unless they have to travel super long distances in remote areas. When we get home, I can explain it better using the computer.”
Ranger Dan looked in his rear-view mirror. “Are you settled in, back there?”
“Can you turn on the air conditioner?” responded Ranger Dwight.
“You didn’t have to wear your Ranger suit under the caveman clothes. As soon as we get past the people at the front gate, I’ll open my window. That’ll help us both.”
Dwight laughed. “You can smell this up front too? Then let’s get moving. I’ll hide my face till it’s safe. I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
“I can’t believe you actually agreed to it. As soon as we get past Calico, it should be safe for you to get out of those things and into your Ranger uniform. Oh, that’s right. You already are in uniform.”
“Are we at the gate yet?”
“Becca and Roberto just got there. I’ll have to slow down as we drive through the crowd, so make sure you look real caveman-like.”
“Do you want me to grunt and wave my arms, too?”
“I said caveman, not gorilla,” said Dan as he slowed down. Ranger Becca unlocked the gate, and Roberto pushed it open while Becca shooed the crowd away from it.
As Dan inched his Ranger vehicle through the people at the gate, he saw Roberto give him a quick nod. Then he looked down the road and saw Elaina’s three-wheeler. No one seemed to be following her. Then he saw a woman standing next to the same brand of three-wheeler.
“What’s wrong?” asked Dwight.
“I just saw an Asian woman with reddish hair. I think she’s a reporter. Oh great. She just jumped into her car. I think she’s going to follow us. Yup, she pulled in right behind me. You may have to stay in the caveman suit.”
“No way. After we’re through Calico, it’s coming off. That was the deal.”