The automated subway car chattered away at me in pleasant Japanese, issuing gentle safety warnings I could not comprehend. A few lilting tones later and I was on the platform. I looked through the throng of people, and eventually found who I was looking for. Rinji stood at the end of the platform, holding some kind of incredible Japanese microcomputer beneath the neon drenched sky.

I handed him my bag, and we got through the early formalities. I gestured at his pocket computer, an obsidian slab so perfect it must be decades ahead of the obscene technology of the West. I asked him, “What is that thing?”

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“An iPad,” he responded, and looked at me like I was an idiot.

Things didn’t get much better as we found his car in the parking structure and began our long trip. After the hydrogen RX-8 incident, Rinji had always taken offense at me blaming him for Soichiro Mazda’s clever ruse, an attempt to capture me that was nearly successful. We both knew that Mazda - no, the world - could not survive having me as head of its automotive design department, but they would never stop trying. Even so, we had work to do.

Rinji’s N-One burbled softly through its government-approved aftermarket glasspack, and swept the streets of Yokohama ahead of us in a mixture of halogen and neon, the windshield lighting up with pedestrian-safety warning rectangles as it detected imminent threats. We pulled into a convenience store to grab cutting-edge snacks and dinners, packaged in innovative new ways.

We were merging onto the Bayshore route when the N-One’s windshield lit up with a warning I had never seen before, illuminated throughout with inch-high crimson ideographs. Rinji immediately cranked the wheel hard right, diving for the fast-lane shoulder, and hit a red button atop the shifter. I heard the unmistakeable sound of a Roots blower.

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Behind us, a Nissan Juke lit up blue and red before screaming up to our rear bumper in an eye-watering cloud of nitromethane exhaust. It seemed Mazda wasn’t the only one after me.

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