Although I was unconscious at the time, I'm told that someone found my body, saw I was still alive, and called the police. The police notified C.H.R.O.M.E. and I was picked up by a helicopter and whisked away to a top secret hospital for spies so I could get an engine transplant and my hood could be reshaped. Despite the amount of drugs they dosed me with and surgery I was sent through, I was ordered to return to my duties within the week. Not because my new engine was feeling normal and comfortable yet, but because C.H.R.O.M.E had a job for me. Apparently my dear, sweet, kindhearted bosses were desperate for any sort of help. Even if it came in the form of car who really needed at least another week of rest before going back on duty. Hey, that's spy organizations for you.
So there I was, going to the last country run by humans on Earth. Sodor island. I was supposed to be seeing what the living conditions for machines there were like, since some plane flying over the area had seen some 'suspicious looking stuff'.
A little boat dropped me off on the most remote part of the island a bit after midnight. I drove along a damp road, my headlights so dim that I could hardly see seven tirelengths ahead of me. Finally, with some help from my GPS, I reached a large engine shed. The engines were all asleep, of course. I concealed myself in some bushes and waited.
Sometime before dawn, someone came to start the engines' fires so they could run. A few hours after that, the driver and fireman came.
"Wake up, Gordon!" called the driver.
Gordon groaned. "I'm too tired," he said, "make James do it!"
The driver shook his head. "James has to pull the gravel train from the quarry, remember?"
"But I'm tired!" complained the big blue engine.
I watched, interested. This looked like the sort of thing that C.H.R.O.M.E. wanted me to look for.
"Oh come on," the driver said, hopping up into Gordon's cab, "we're late now."
Gordon puffed away, looking angry and exhausted.
Throughout the day, I saw many similar conversations happen. The engine called "Duck" went to work without any complaint, but the engine called "James" flatly refused to move. James' driver and fireman finally gave up, and "Henry" was sent to do James' work.
After several hours of observation, I went to the next stop on my list. It was a smaller railway run by five red engines and one brown one. I once again hid myself and watched the engine shed.
The oldest engines, Skarloey, Rheneas, and Duke, all seemed to not mind their work. Whether they were showing actual enjoyment or simple resignation was hard to tell, since they were all over 70 years old and had had many years to accept their fates. The younger ones, Peter-Sam, Sir Handel, and Duncan were less satisfied with their lot in life. True unhappiness or teenage angst? Once again, it was hard to tell.
Days dragged by and I slowly began to realize that something was very wrong here. I couldn't figure out what it was until I saw a female diesel engine and realized that she was the first female engine of any type I'd seen. I drove off to talk with James. He seemed the most rebellious and he might have some answers. Who should I ask though? I immediately decided against asking Edward, Duck, or the old engines from the other railway. They were loyal to their masters and would almost certainly report me to their controllers the moment I left. Henry, Gordon, or Sir Handel might be good choices.
I finally decided to ask James. He was probably feeling pretty unhappy with his job right now, plus he was sitting by himself which would make not being seen easier for me. I drove over to where James was parked all alone in the engine shed. His eyes widened with surprise when he saw me.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"My name's Rod," I told him. "I need to ask you a few questions. I hope you'll answer them, since it'll make my life much easier if you do."
James looked puzzled, but told me everything I asked about. He told me that all female steam engines had been killed (because they would be a distraction to male engines!) and that all steam engines in existence were genetically modified clones. Diesel engines were exempt from this morbid program, although he didn't know why.
I was shocked. It what James said was true, then these humans were more vile than C.H.R.O.M.E. had ever guessed. I decided to look into it more deeply... By going to the "engine workshop".
What I found at the shop was truly horrifying. By peering through the windows using my retractable periscope, I could see people working in a lab. By going to the engine shop and practically being seen, I could see the engines waiting to be sold to their future owners. A buyer actually stopped by while I was watching and purchased a scared looking engine who was driven away from the others, sobbing. I shuddered in revulsion. Yes, it was time to call the cops.
Unfortunately the braces-and-glasses wearing, nervous looking kid who filed my report said that C.H.R.O.M.E. wouldn't be able to send in anyone to help me for at least a week. They were currently trying to round up all the cars who had been part of the 'Allinol scandal' (it was a scandal now? Sheesh.) and couldn't spare anyone to help me.
"You don't mind waiting and collecting more data, do you?" asked the kid, her accent and braces combining to make her words nearly unintelligible.
I practically ground my teeth in frustration. My engine still ached, I had to refill my tank using cold containers of gas left for me by a passing boat, I got to watch misery for another week, and this kid who's obviously spent her whole career being a secretary at C.H.R.O.M.E. HQ asks me if I mind? Of course I mind! Rod Redline may be a famous name in the world of espionage, but that doesn't mean the name's owner enjoys his job.
"Of course I don't mind," I growled.
The kid smiles. "Glad to hear it," she says, missing my sarcasm completely.
I signed off and went to find more horrors for my next report.
It didn't take long to find some, of course. I found a scrap yard full of old engines and cars just four hours later. As I drove among them, I saw that some are still alive. The engines watched me silently since they need a fire and a full tank of water to speak, but the cars weren't as impaired. I drove up to a Ford Model T.
"Excuse me," I asked politely, "could you please tell me what you all are doing here? Where I come from, only dead vehicles are dumped in scrap yards."
She looked at me sadly, her headlight-eyes tiredly focusing on my eyes, which are on my windshield. "Well young man, none of us here can be repaired easily, if it's even possible to even repair us. Our humans don't want a machine that doesn't work, so they send us here." she stared a bit harder at me, "How can your human see to steer you?"
"How terrible." I whispered. Raising my voice a bit, I answered her question, "I don't have a human to drive me. I move by myself."
Everyone in the scrap yard who was able to gasp did so.
"Good Ford, how... How did you free yourself?" the Model T stared at me in amazement.
"In other parts of the world, not needing human assistance to move is normal. I was born this way."
"Can we be like you?" asked a car I couldn't see.
I sighed. "I really don't know. I hope so, but I can't promise anything."
The week passed slowly. I sent in reports of new horrors almost daily, hoping that my superiors would rush to help if I told them enough nasty true stories.
I was once again hiding in some bushes when I heard the roar of several powerful car engines. The sound was coming closer at an alarming rate and I drew my guns immediately. The cars circled around to surround my bush, their drivers drawing guns and aiming them in my general direction.
"Surrender, rogue car!" thundered one of the humans.
I glanced around quickly. I was surrounded, but with some luck I might be able to escape. I hate relying on luck, but sometimes an agent has no choice but to use it.
I threw myself forward, driving over an unfortunate car. I landed heavily, my engine suddenly burning with pain, and started driving at my top speed. The humans quickly recovered from their surprise at my agility and turned their cars to pursue me. A bullet scratched the paint on my side. I swerved a bit more violently. Someone managed to hit one of my rear tires which slowed me down a lot, allowing the others to drive around me and flatten all my other tires. I braked and glared defiantly at my enemies, simultaneously trying to keep myself from trembling. I'm getting too old for this.
They tied me to a semi trailer and took me to the cloning-and-selling factory. I was inspected by a human male who seemed to be very interested in my eyes. He nodded, scowled, took notes, and finally told my armed guards that he would preform 'the operation' tomorrow.
"What operation?" I asked.
"The one that will keep you from moving by yourself," the inspector said, patting my hood in an patronizing way, "We'll need to do something about your eyes since they'll impair a driver's ability to see, but I'm sure we can find a solution which won't leave you entirely blind."
That did it. I had to get away, and I had to get my stupid superiors to send some help. I met his gaze angrily, daring him to look away first, then let mine drop. Classic good-car-admitting-defeat expression. Perfect way to make these two-legged jerks think I was going to accept the fate they were planning for me. I sagged lower on my ruined tires and waited for night to come.
"This is Rod Redline calling C.H.R.O.M.E. I need some help here, now. I've been captured and am almost certainly going to be horribly crippled if you can't get me out of here within the next six hours," I said in my quietest audible whisper. "Hurry up, you lazy tractors, I don't want the information I gathered to be wasted!"
I was just giving up hope of ever moving my wheels again when I heard the harsh sound of an airplane's engine. My engine jolted with hope as the sound slowly grew in volume until it was almost unbearable.
Dark figures began parachuting out of the plane. They landed almost silently, even the ones who ended up practically on top of me. I saw that they were C.H.H.R.O.M.E.'s troopers, the superstrong muscle cars and SUVs who were too dumb to be secret agents. Predictably, one shot me with a semi tractor sized tranquillizer dart accidentally while he was trying to free me. I passed out in seconds.
I woke up feeling even more tired than I'd felt before being knocked out. I shook my hood and felt dizzy; a semi-sized dose of tranquillizer fluid will do that to a car.
The trooper who had shot me was watching me. With some amusement, I noted that he was looking very embarrassed. Quite decent of him to be ashamed, I supposed.
"May I help you, sir?" he asked.
"Yes. Are the nonhuman residents of this island being rescued?" I said, a bit sharply.
He cringed. "Of course, sir!"
"Good," I drove off to see what was happening.
Not being part of the action was fine with me. I silently watched as the still living machines left in scrap yards were towed to the ocean where a barge was waiting for them, and as humans were imprisoned when they tried to attack the troopers. I felt no emotion but a dull sort of satisfaction. This is why I keep taking new missions despite my age. The knowledge that sometimes the work I do really makes the world better keeps me going, it makes me hold on even when most cars have given up. No, it isn't a happy job, no, the missions don't always end with the world being better. But I keep trying, and I keep hoping. Because really, what more can a spy do?
I sighed. I should really retire one of these days. Maybe after my next mission is over...
I think my favorite car exclamation so far is "Good Ford!". I also like "Dodge Ram it!" too though.
Today I heard the song "Monster" by Paramore. It made me think of this story, so now it'll always be Rod's theme song when I hear it.
I shouldn't have resuscitated Rod, but he seemed so perfect for this story, and his death in Cars 2 always seemed so depressing to me. Don't hate me too much, please. :)
If I write a sequel, I'll put Stephenson in it. I promise.