Barbarella was a prevalent stunt driver in the early days of trideo. By the late ‘30s Los Angeles was overrun with wanna be actors willing to risk their lives for a shot at a role in the new media format. Despite being a truly gifted driver, Barb was never known for her looks and found younger, prettier “drivers” getting all the best gigs. It didn’t seem to matter that stunt drivers were digitally replaced with the images of famous actors before trids hit the matrix, trideo was still largely a man’s game and most producers only had one brain — and not the one on their shoulders.
Barb tried several avenues to make her mark. She started by enlisting the help of an amateur trideo director with a camera drone and a legal expert to help her record and trademark new stunts. Somehow, though, all her best creations found their way into the final cut of an action trid just days before her trademark applications were due to clear, voiding her claims. Next she hooked up with a tech geek on the bleeding edge of BTL technology and recorded all of her senses and emotions while going through an intense stunt run so that people could experience the thrill for themselves, but he vanished once the chips were done and was never seen again. A few months later the chips surfaced with key traces of her persona missing.
Barb was barely scraping by when matters got horribly worse and infinitely better all with a single event. She was pregnant. With no clue how she would care for her upcoming child, and no desire to ever see the father again, Barbarella had one last idea on how she would make it big. She sold all her vehicles except her turbo-charged Wrangler and began her preparations.
By pulling in every favor she could, handing out a few well-placed bribes, and promising the the most original, epic stunt anyone had ever seen, Barb arranged for a live broadcast of her driving to be shown as part of the pre-match show of the Hoyella vs Abraham Heavyweight Boxing Championship. She even had to sell her Wrangler with an agreement that she could use it one last time for the performance, but she was only given half its value due to the risk that she’d wreck it in the process.
Barbarella never told anyone what her stunt would be, nor did anyone need to ask. There were at least a dozen airborne camera drones buzzing around her as she strapped the harness around her chest, latching into her Wrangler’s new custom cockpit. A tiny red light appeared on one of the drones, then three of them, then all. Her medical drone (standard equipment in a stunt vehicle these days, in case of an accident) gave her an injection, and she gunned it.
LAX airport still laid in ruins, but thanks to the rise of trids it had become the most recognizable airport in the world despite having not had a flight in over a decade. Every documentary about the Big Ones and most post-apocalyptic trids to hit the matrix featured footage of the towers falling and buildings tumbling down around the airport. Nothing was tumbling down now, though. Barbarella Nampeyo was screaming forward into the ruins alone in her black-and-flame Wrangler.
While most of the airport had collapsed, the Theme Building’s arches largely still stood. Had it not been for those arches, LAX would be no different from half of the other ruins around the globe. Everyone recognized those arches now, though, and countless motorcycle stunt drivers had ramped off of them with varying degrees of success or death. It had been seen a hundred times, but never attempted with a 4-wheeled vehicle.
Clenching, screaming, she barely scraped between the broken sections of the fallen outer control tower. The pain was almost unbearable, but she refused to let painkillers cloud her vision. The small medical drone gave her a different injection in her buttocks using its mechanical arm, then drove around in front of her along the circular rail system rounding her cockpit.
She screamed again. These new medicines work far too quickly. Suffering through the pain, she made a quick jerk left and right again on the wheel, vaulting her right two wheels high in the air. That’s how she’d get this hunk of steel up the arch, and it had never been attempted before. The pain welled again. A camera drone buzzed by not 2 feet from her head.
This one hit right as she drove onto the southern arch, the arch everyone jumped from as it was broken near the top providing a good-enough angle for landing on a fabricated ramp below. She blacked out. For a split second only, had to be. She came to and was remarkably still on two wheels and climbing the arch.
Barb hit the NOS and it hit again, her Wrangler, the pain, all of it at once. This one the worst yet. She could no longer keep her feet on the pedals, she had to let the NOS do its job.
Then the jump. Adrift in the air. The final release of pain. The mechanical arm of the medical drone has swapped tools. This looked like a hammock with a Swiss Army surgical kit at each end. Its work was quick, deft, and precise in the way only a machine can do. The same precision that had half a dozen camera drones flying but a few inches from the outside of her Wrangler capturing every angle possible. Each of them recording the most beautiful face Barbarella had ever seen.
The pre-programmed autopilot in the Wrangler did a surprisingly good job at landing below with minimal damage. The front wheels locked and turned, spinning the rear of the vehicle around and peeled out to generate a huge cloud of smoke and stop just in time to not fall off into a salty cove of splashing waves on the north end of the Theme Building’s ruins. But not a single camera captured it, nor did Barbarella bother to look and see if the program worked. Drifting down from the sky by parachute, surrounded by cameras, and tended by the loyal medical drone dangling by a cable, Barbarella held in her arms the most precious thing she would ever know.
So Blanche Nampeyo was born.
The event was a huge success. The following day there wasn’t a single news broadcast headlining the winner of the Heavyweight Championship. All anyone wanted to talk about was the amazing stunt driver who gave birth to a baby on live trideo while ramping off the LAX Theme Building. It was too fantastic to believe. She had promised a stunt, a spectacle of risking life, and used it to showcase the power and beauty of creating it instead.
Barbarella was instantly the only stunt driver anyone wanted. Any stunt driver role that could be rewritten from male to female and metahuman to human were rewritten to entire Barb to accept them. Every talk show wanted an interview. She even got starring acting role offers, but she refused them all. She made a single simsense dream chip recording the birth and publicly auctioned it off with the winner signing a contract that if it was ever copied they would forfeit 200% of all revenues.
She was rich. Famous. Adored. Even a hero to some. She had everything she had ever dreamed of, and now she just wanted to raise her daughter. None of the stunts excited her as they had in the past. How could they? None of them would ever compare.
Barb knew she couldn’t raise Blanche without also teaching her the importance of hard work and being strong, so she purchased some land north of Covina and arranged contracts with a few of the major trideo studios to buy all their stunt wrecks. Stunts and racing were the only world Barb knew, but she wasn’t going to keep putting her life on the line.