Location: Spoon Sports Type One tuning garage, Tokyo, Japan
Time: 10 pm
Samui pays a visit to his mentor's shop. He sees Tatsuru Ichishima working on a customer car alone.
Samui: "Ichishima-san, I'm glad you're doing well. But why work on closing time?"
Tatsuru: "Oh-ho, look who's here. My little Samui-kun. What brings you here?"
Samui: "Just wanting to know how you've been doing. Such interesting cars here."
Tatsuru: "I'm done with my latest project, a Honda INSIGHT LS installed with a 5-speed sequential box. That ain't eco-friendly anymore, despite the fact that it's still street legal."
Samui: "That's great. Oh, the Civic FD2 Type R you tuned is amazing as well. But there is another reason why I'm here."
Tatsuru: "Which is?"
Samui: "They're out and about."
Tatsuru: "The Slashers?"
Samui: "Yes. And I have to deal with them using my car over there."
He points a car covered in cloth.
Tatsuru: "Oh I see."
Samui: "My carbon fiber, widebody NSX would be too much for them. I want to play fair."
Tatsuru: "Whenever I look at that covered car, it reminds me of the days we tuned it together. You even install the parts, while I check if they are screwed on properly. Oh that was fun."
Samui: "All my efforts have paid off to create the ultimate Touge machine, one that can beat the "Touge Monster" RE Amemiya FD3S owned by Takuma. Besides, those Slashers have yet to see the Original Slasher. I don't even know why they were called by people as such. I'm going to show them what it takes to be one."
Tatsuru: "Just be careful in what you're about to do. If your mother is still alive, she definitely won't allow you to race on the streets."
Thankfully, we managed to get the car back after being set up all the way from London. It's time for Nobuhiko to test it out. As part of the training regimen, I DID NOT BRIEF him first on the car. Otousan does not describe to me a car that I am to drive for the first time. I had to find out how to drive it on my own. Now, it's Nobu's turn...
Nobuhiko: "Dammit... it's all so fast! Even adjusting to it is...
Nobuhiko: "With a car that weighs half a ton, it's hard to get traction on the road! I have to adjust the throttle even more precisely!"
Seeing how it runs, it seems Nobuhiko is struggling. What happened to your god-like reflexes? But of course, he's in a new body! So he's not as reflexive as he was before.
Nobuhiko: "I braked too early! Crap!"
He's losing it...
Nobuhiko: "There it goes again. Gotta admit, this new body has a rather slow reaction time..."
Nobuhiko steps on the brakes later than usual, however he ends up overspeeding and flying off.
Nobuhiko: "Over speed! Shoot!"
Nobuhiko: "Great, now I've done it. This reminds me the first time I drove Oyaji's Supra..."
Seems you're not eating supper tonight, Nobuhiko. Hehehehehehe... You're also a bit scrawny too. You need to work out in order for your body to withstand higher G-forces.
He returns to the pit lane. Peter is worried, fearing that we would be a laughingstock. Though he reassures everyone in the team, should we feel down.
Peter: "It's okay. It's the first time, and we tend to mess up."
Takuma: "Dou da?" ("How is it?")
Nobuhiko: "Kuruma wa hashirinikui desu. Subete wa hontouni hayai deshou. Ima made kontroru ga dekimasen..."
Takuma: "He says that the car is hard to run, and it all seemed too fast for him. So far, he cannot control it."
Peter: "I see. Don't be discouraged. Takuma-san went through the same thing. He even almost crashed that thing."
Nobuhiko: "I won't let you down, sir. I will work hard."
After the session, we all went home. Then at the hotel, Nobuhiko invited me to do some tennis practice at the hotel's recreation floor. Uh-oh... I am fearing that this day would happen. He will kill me in Tennis...
Nobuhiko: "I guess this shall give my reflexes a boost. Shall we begin?"
He bounces the ball. And my heart bounces faster as well.
There he goes, his serve! Whoa! I barely volleyed the ball! And the racket is not bad, though.
At a blink of my eye, he manages to volley the tennis ball at his far right side...
...and it's already in front of me. Crap...
I managed to hit it though, and as soon as it goes to Nobu's side, he executes a very strong strike! I have to spring back and anticipate the speed of the ball! However, it bounced on the floor, and...
...hits my left eye. Owwww.... it hurts just as bad as Shin's kick on that eye.
Nobuhiko: "I'm sorry! Are you okay?"
Takuma: "You still have it, Nobuhiko, despite being in a new body."
So that explains his famous god-like reflexes. In tennis, you cannot afford to lose the ball! Your body has to be as fast as it! And with that, he can apply it in racing as well!
He can control the car with his reflexes! He just needs to adjust. Maybe this tennis game could help him, as long as my eyes are okay...
End of Page 3
- The first part of this page acts as a prelude for the next book titled "The Slashers".
The next day, Nobu and I head to a dojo just nearby Katrine's home in Ahrweiler. The car is being worked upon once again. Man, there's little time for Nobu to master it! I will go crazy if I am in his shoes.
We changed our clothes as usual. And we have the room all by ourselves. He is so calm about this... why? Isn't he aware of the pressure pushing down on him? This is part of the training regimen. Well, one must have his body in perfect condition for the race! It's not just a recreation!
Nobuhiko: "Shall we start? I'm telling this to you now - this is gonna hurt."
Takuma: "Bring it on. I've been shot twice, beaten up, and even impaled. I've had gone through all pain you can imagine..."
Both of us slammed our fists and bowed to each other. Let's start!
Takuma, remember this... you are facing a black belt Karate 5th Dan practitioner!
He makes his first move. A punch that I easily parried. Then he follows up another one quickly! I only side stepped to avoid it! He's fast! Just as fast as Takanori is.
But this reminded me of... NH2! His speed and aggression!
Nobuhiko: "What's wrong? I can't imagine you holding back on me."
He unleashes a roundhouse kick, that I evaded and then I switched to a Phoenix stance.
Nobuhiko: "Kung Fu, eh?"
Takuma: "I've learned Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Kenjutsu and a bit of Karate."
Nobuhiko: "Then you can land a hit on me!"
I evaded his kick once again, and then I switch to Tiger style. My turn!
I unleash punches, and then we traded blows. But once again, neither of us can land a hit! Time to unleash the big guns!
I use my "trademark" multiple kicks in a standstill. Damn! He easily evaded those with a quick side step, and he follows up with a jumping roundhouse kick! Shoot! That was close!
We briefly stared at each other. Nobu is just calm... but I'm sure he has more deadly attacks in his arsenal!
We rushed at each other, and at a blink of an eye, he kicked my left leg. And he punched my gut.
Ahhhh!!! Damn.... I even spit blood. His slender frame can deceive many!
Nobuhiko: "Sorry! That's too much...."
Takuma: "Heh.... *wiping mouth* I think you can kill me in bare hands. You are one hell of a human weapon. You are still in shape."
I just hope Shin won't beat me up as badly when he grows up... sigh...
We take a break. Damn, that punch still hurts!
Nobuhiko: "Hey, how about if I drive for the first round?"
Takuma: "Huh? Well I don't see anything wrong about it, but..."
Nobuhiko: "I promise, that I will master it before the season starts! If there is another practice run tomorrow, then I'll be more than happy to drive it once again!"
Takuma: "I like your fighting spirit, dude. That will help. Sometimes, even willpower alone can conquer the most difficult of challenges."
Nobuhiko: "I want to be faster. I cannot just be stuck at one level. I have to move up. Look at you, you moved up... so does your twin, Samui-kun, and Big Nobu as well."
Takuma: "Heh... okay then. You'll drive for the first round. I like your determination."
Weekend came, and we're once again at the track. I'm even thinking of how's my wife and kids doing in their holiday in U.K. Little Ben might even continue his studies there... And maybe Shin will begin his education there as well.
Man, Nobuhiko is really pushing it.
Lap after lap, he's getting faster. I did 1 minute and 34.9 seconds the last time I ran. Let's see if Nobuhiko beats it.
1:36... 1:35.5... Damn...
He starts another lap...
Peter: "That young man makes impressive progress!"
Takuma: "Indeed. He is more than determined to master that car. He has amazing willpower, and that's his greatest asset."
Yeah, that willpower also became key in accomplishing his goals before he died. Even at his last moments, it's still there...
Oh, there he is, at the last corner!
And he clocked in at 1 minute and 34.9 seconds. Heh... Now we're talking...
...So, just watch the two laughingstocks devour the competition. Bring it on, big boys!
At night, while Takuma is sleeping in his room, Nobuhiko gets his laptop from his luggage and places it on the desk. He plugs the ethernet cable to his laptop, taking advantage of the hotel's internet.
At the internet, he accesses the FIA database and searches for Sir Shaw McCarthy. While it only shows his basic info such as the date of his first race and his last ever race, no other detailed info is seen, since he didn't undergo the Nanoparticle registration which was nonexistent in his heyday. It also shows old photos of him and his race cars.
Nobuhiko: "Of course I cannot determine his racing skills since the Nanoparticle Data System was not around in his heyday."
He scrolls down, and he sees a piece of information at the miscellaneous section:
Sir Shaw McCarthy, feared in the European racing scene from the 1950s until his rather early retirement in the 1970s with no explanations why. He suddenly disappeared at the time, and is even scheduled to race at one of the F1 rounds.
He is known for is motto of "Perfect Execution", which he lies in wait until he spots the "perfect" opportunity to overtake the opponent to make sure "he humiliates them" at the end.
During the height of his career, he had a son named Sir Ben McCarthy, who also became a legendary racer and was knighted as well. Rumor has it that the father and son had quarrels, and one photographer spotted the latter sleeping on the streets, possibly hinting of running away from home. Whatever the reasons are, his son did run away from home eventually.
After his sudden disappearance in the 1970s, he reappeared, announcing his retirement from racing, and disappeared once again from the public eye...
Nobuhiko: "So Sir Ben ran away from home... but I'm not interested in that. However, it could prove useful for my investigation. Why did that old man disappear from racing, then? Could Sir Ben's running away and Sir Shaw's sudden retirement have a connection? And why would that old man surprisingly appear now? I've got to find out his plans for Takuma-san."
Sayuki from Japan suddenly calls him.
Sayuki: "Are you about to sleep?"
Nobuhiko: "Yeah. What are you doing now?"
Sayuki: "I'm just starting to work. Are you online?"
Nobuhiko: "Yeah. I'm reading the dossier of Sir Shaw McCarthy in FIA's website."
Sayuki: "I've posted it. The info is from various sources, however, that's all that they can say. Sir Shaw is known to be silent in his heyday, not saying much in both of his racing activities and his private life. But one source did say that he used to brag about how great his son was, and he will mold him in his own image."
Nobuhiko: "What's these got to do with Takuma-san, then?"
Sayuki: "That, I don't know. That old man is planning something on your partner. You've got to be on your toes, and Takuma as well."
Nobuhiko: "I see. But I will be racing in the 1st round, how about I let those two talk? Takuma-san has yet to see him."
It's the big day! This is it, first round of the Formula 1 season...
I sure do hope our practice sessions paid off, especially for Little Nobu. I'm worried, he has the guts to take on the 1st round.
After the opening ceremonies and the qualifying session, the race officially starts. Peter and I are crossing our fingers...
While we're watching, an old man approaches us. Peter is taken by shock.
Sir Shaw: "You must be Takuma Kanonji, am I right?"
Takuma: "I am. And who might you be?"
Sir Shaw: "I am Sir Shaw McCarthy, your grandfather."
Grandfather!? So I assume he's Otousan's father. Otousan didn't make any mention of his name...
Takuma: "Your son never mentioned you. But it was nice meeting you, sir."
Sir Shaw: "That was rather a bold move sending in your partner for the first round. Won't that be too risky?"
Takuma: "I have a lot of faith in him. He may be a novice in this game, but he'll eventually be a beast that will devour the competition. He's dedicated, and that will be his weapon. And so am I."
Owen: "This is unexpected, Takuma is not driving for this round."
Owen: "But I gotta get serious, I have to do the task."
Nobuhiko: "Man, this is hard! Catching up to your opponents and controlling this car require lots of concentration! Messing up here is fatal!"
He brought his antics, as he taps one of his opponents.
Nobuhiko: "That should have been my car... Nice color scheme there."
The cars pass by the main straight for another lap.
Sir Shaw: "Your partner is moving up. Impressive."
Takuma: "He will never back down from any kind of pressure."
Owen is struggling to accomplish his task.
Owen: "He's getting away. I have no idea he could be that good."
I just found out from Nobuhiko that he has 4 opponents left to overtake. Heh, you're treating this like Super GT? I like it. Your antics in Super GT is evident here as well. Go for it.
Nobuhiko: "I'm getting close."
And he applies late braking to overtake another opponent! Nice move!
Nobuhiko: "F1 cars have insane stopping power! I can brake as late as I can!"
All right, Little Nobu! Just one left!
Nobuhiko: "You're a tough one."
Nobuhiko: "I'm not gonna chicken off the throttle! See ya!"
I expect no less from Nobuhiko. Picking you is the right choice.
Sir Shaw: "I'm amazed. But the real battle is yet to begin."
Takuma: "Of course I know that. I cannot celebrate yet. But I will commend my partner for his first ever F1 win. A hard work deserves a praise."
Nobuhiko: "Hmmmmm.... this is just as tense as Super GT. But I must admit, I haven't mastered this car... and its full potential."
That old man tapped on my shoulder, before he can return to his team.
Sir Shaw: "Impressive run there. But I am looking forward to seeing you run for the next round."
And he leaves. Just who the hell is he? He appeared like a ghost...
Sir Shaw: "Next round... I won't be so nice. Let's see if your "dedication" would still be an effective tool.
Faith? Instinct? Dedication? What could they do for you? They are nothing more than just plain emotions that get in someone's way in perfection. Mind over heart... what can a heart do? A heart is a source of human weakness.
My son, just watch your protege's spirit being crushed... Even from beyond the grave, you will regret running away from me. And I'll make sure of it."
Our win in the first round made a sensation. To think newcomers toppled veterans in their game. Nobuhiko could not even get over it, to think he hasn't yet fully mastered the car. Oh man, we had a great day.
The next day, it's our break, and the 2nd round will be held in Monte Carlo next week, and we're not allowed to practice there... since it's a public road.
We headed instead to Nurburgring, to check Nigel out. And maybe take a spin on one of his cars.
Nigel: "I saw your race yesterday, Nobuhiko-san! Truly amazing!"
Nobuhiko: "Really? I was rather flailing back there. I haven't fully grasped the car. I need more practice..."
Nigel: "You are dedicated to it, and that's something robots don't have."
Suddenly, I see some people turning their attention to someone arriving. It's a car, as I can hear it coming. As the people moved over, I see a Mazda Furai! Whoa! Damn... such a beautiful machine.
And getting out from it is....
Sir Shaw. Oh grandpa drives such a mean machine. He approaches me with a smile, which is normal for a relative, anyway.
Sir Shaw: "Good morning. What a wonderful opportunity to see you here."
Takuma: "Good morning, old man. Such a nice car you brought along."
Sir Shaw: "Just like you, I have fondness for Rotary-engined cars. I used to drive a Mazda RX-3 and beat GT-Rs with it. Those bombastic GT-R drivers went back home to their mommies."
And he popped open the hood. While Nobuhiko is just dazzled at the sight of the engine, I can easily tell what it is. I am a Rotary Junkie, you know?
Takuma: "A 3 rotor version of the RX-8's engine and ported as well. This is the only one in the world, as the rest of the 3 rotors are either custom built or the ones found in a Eunos Cosmo."
Sir Shaw: "Fantastic observation there! Even I don't know that much on Rotary engines, ironically.
How about you drive this thing at the track, eh? What do you say?"
Takuma: "Really, you would? I would love to."
Sir Shaw: "You're my grandson, and you deserve to drive this. Come!"
Without any hesitation, I hopped in one of my dream cars. Man, you rock. But seriously, why let me drive this thing?
Anyways, we set off.
Nobuhiko feels further suspicion as he looks at the car driving away.
Nobuhiko: "Why would that old man let his grandson drive, if he views him as an enemy? Something is really fishy."
Takuma: "So wonderful! It just sticks like a glue on pavement. I'm getting grip all over!"
Sir Shaw: "Rotaries rule! I restored this car after being burned by that stupid British magazine. It took them 5 years to admit their foolishness."
But of course, as the MR layout dictates, it can get cranky. But not as cranky as Otousan's 787B.
Sir Shaw: "Your right foot has it under control. That's a high level technique I taught to my son..."
Takuma: "I see..."
Sir Shaw: "Oh how I miss him so much... the greatest tragedy is when a father outlives his son."
Sir Shaw: "You drive this very well; much better than I do. How about I give this to you, if you win the season? You gotta prove that you deserve it."
Takuma: "Really? Isn't that a bit too much?"
Sir Shaw: "I'm old. I don't have the nerves nor reflexes like you do to drive this car. Besides, I'm not enjoying life, as my son died anyway."
Takuma: "Just move on. That's the only thing you should do."
The more I spend time driving this car, the more I love it! But isn't it really too much to give this away, old man?
And I set a lap time of 6 minutes and 25 seconds. Not bad, considering it's my first time driving this, anyway.
Sir Shaw: "I expect nothing less from the Black Dragon!"
So you also know my former codename, eh? Better not call me that, old man.
Takuma: "I love Rotaries, and I have to show love whenever I drive them."
Sir Shaw: "Ehehehehehehe.... Better make sure you can take whatever I'm throwing at you."
Both of us returned to the parking lot. Grandpa immediately left, but that last sentence sounded cryptic.
Nobuhiko: "How's the car?"
Takuma: "Very great to drive. And I got to know him more, somehow."
The next day, Nobuhiko and Nigel shop around Ahrweiler. The two split up, eventually, as the former delves further within the plaza.
Nobuhiko then sees Christie forcing to pull her bag back from a thief. He runs towards them and then punches the thief in the gut. With the perpetrator passed out, he gives the bag back to Christie. The woman blushed as he hands the bag to her.
Christie: "Thank you very much. I must note to myself that I shouldn't really bring all of my credit cards."
Nobuhiko: "You're welcome. Aren't you an F1 racer too? I saw you in Sir Shaw's team."
Christie: "Correct. And I must say you put up quite a nice fight in the first round."
Nobuhiko: "I have to be dedicated and show my best. That's all."
Christie: "That's nice. Hey, I need to go now. Thank you very much for today!"
As she leaves him, she looks back while walking.
Christie: "He's so charming... and also, he is an F1 racer. Can he be the one that will truly make me happy? I need to get to know him more."
Nobuhiko continues his window shopping. He buys a scarf and a pair of expensive sunglasses for Kasumi. After a while, he meets up with Nigel once again, waiting inside the car.
Nobuhiko: "Let's go."
The two leave the plaza and head to their next destination...
It's quite a nice evening, met up with Peter in Berlin to discuss matters for the next round, and the arrangements as well. Man, we've got to move again? Well, that's a life of a racer.
I'm on my way back to Nurburg, to rest after a whole day's work. Great, Little Nobu got to do shopping while I didn't. I can relay the info anyway.
I will send this Aventador LP800-2 Signore McCarthy to Japan tomorrow. Lamborghini is done developing it, and they are really sorry for falling out with Otousan.
I returned to the hotel. Nobuhiko is just watching TV at the suite, while I get beer from the fridge and offer another bottle to him. Staying up late? Drink up...
Nobuhiko: "I'm watching this German car review show. They are so much into details, much similar to our motoring show."
Takuma: "Interesting, a Weismann vs. Porsche shootout, eh?"
Nobuhiko: "So, have you talked to your mother?"
Takuma: "Oh, that reminds me."
So I head out to the balcony. Knowing the time zone, it's about 8 am in Japan, which is the time Okaasan would usually prepare to open the shop. I call her up using my smartphone. How much would be the charges for long-distance calls? Eh, never mind.
Takuma: "Hello, Okaasan?"
Tomoko: "Oh my little Taku! I'm so happy you called! You haven't called since you left."
Takuma: "I'm sorry. F1 has been busy lately. I'm doing fine."
Tomoko: "Congratulations for your victory in the 1st round. Your fans are going nuts for this."
Takuma: "Really? Maybe those Nobuhiko fans. Well anyway, I called here because not only I am checking on you, but also I want to find out more about Sir Shaw. You know him, right?"
Tomoko: "Oh yes I do. I know him very well way back in my racing days. I'm really worried, you know? He is doing something you won't like."
Takuma: "Which is?"
Tomoko: "He'll take you down. It's all because his son left him. You are involved in his anger. You know, even by the time he resurfaced, I can still see sadness in his eyes. They're similar to what I saw over 30 years ago. In truth, he's really a lonely man longing for a love from his children. Sir Ben left him because Sir Shaw demanded too much from him, and that's all he said."
Takuma: "I see..."
Tomoko: "You've got to take care, okay? And I'm sure you are the only person who can truly break through his emotional walls."
Takuma: "Got it."
What a pity. So he "demanded too much" from Otousan, huh? What, is he trying to mold Otousan in his image?
Otousan deserved to have freedom, of course, even as a son. He had his own path to carve. Now, I gotta get to the bottom of this...
2nd round... Monte Carlo... This is the most popular street track around the world, and it has always been the host of F1 races every year, hence the locals decided not to remove the circuit guardrails, bleachers and even pit garages at the streets that make the circuit layout. Open or closed to the public, those streets feel like you are in a racetrack.
Driving around here in qualifying laps, the track is very technical! Downforce is almost useless here. And accelerator control is once again key here. My right foot is prepared for this.
It would be half an hour left before the race would begin. And someone makes a surprise appearance...
Takuma Sato: "Yo!"
Takuma: "Heh. It's you! I was wondering who tapped my shoulder. What brings you here? I thought you're in a middle of the Indy season.
Takuma Sato: "Yeah, but turns out I have a long break. I'm here to watch you."
Takuma: "Thanks for coming, my clone. But I can sense you have another purpose."
Takuma Sato: "I'll tell that to you later. For now you must concentrate on winning this. Monte Carlo is one of the most difficult courses, even the perfect setting is difficult to determine here."
Meanwhile, Nobuhiko observes that Sir Shaw gives instructions to Christie, then the former showing a rather sinister smile.
Nobuhiko: "Even a smile can mean your darkest intentions. Takuma-san has to put his guard up."
There we go! It's the start! I'm starting at the middle of the grid, thanks to my rather mediocre qualifying lap time. But I'll catch them!
It's hard to overtake here as well. One must come up with a fool-proof strategy on how to pass your opponents here.
Christie: "He's fast. This makes it difficult to perform this task. But if I do it, what would Nobuhiko think of me?"
Sir Shaw's F1 car is right behind me. Something's fishy. Why would that woman fall back? She could have easily overtaken me at this tunnel!
Christie: "Shall I really do it? Sir Shaw clearly wants Takuma down..."
Start of the 2nd lap. That yellow F1 is making a move!
Christie: "It's time..."
Whoa! What the!? That car just hit me at high speed while I was braking! Dammit! I'm too fast to stop! I'm hitting the wall!
Dammit! The right tire took off. I knew it... So this is that old man's way of getting back to his estranged son, huh? I'm not gonna lose to some old fart! I got out of the car unscathed, and the circuit marshals are at work taking out the wreckage.
I returned to the pit lane, frustrated.
Takuma Sato: "That crash... it reminded me of my F1 days. I crashed in that very corner... "
Nobuhiko: "Takuma-san, are you okay?"
Takuma: "I'm fine. But I'm not gonna race if there's something dirty going on. This is clearly a foul play. I might as well just give up..."
On Sir Shaw's pit garage...
Sir Shaw: "Perfect... that woman did as I expected to. Let's see if your high spirits and determination would still make you conquer this sport. Ben, this is just the beginning. A clever mind would always be on top, not like your ideals of bravery and aggression."
I got in the team's caravan to cool off. Sato came in as well...
Takuma Sato: "Don't be discouraged. Things like this are bound to happen. I have high hopes for you. We are exactly alike, we do things aggressively. Yes, my aggression and dedication brought me some troubles and carelessness in the past, but those also brought me to where I am today.
I will tell something to you, should you have cooled off already. This is not the right time to tell it to you."
When the race ended, Nobuhiko sees Christie. Immediately, he approaches her and drags her to a wall. He slams his fist on that wall and gives her a cold stare.
Nobuhiko: "I saw what you did there."
Christie: "I was just under orders..."
Nobuhiko: "Think! Do you think that tactic would bring you to fame? I know your manager's intentions. Now get out of my sight, or else I will forget the fact that you're a woman, and I'll make sure hell breaks loose."
Christie runs away, and she breaks down in tears.
Christie: "I'm so ridiculous... now he hates me... I should have just disobeyed the orders."
Otousan... I miss you... and your demeanor! Your sight alone just cleared off all the frustrations I had today.
How I wish I could lean on and cry... But I can't, of course. He will probably beat me up if I do.
I sit beside him, and instead of giving me a pounding, he just put his arm across my shoulders.
Sir Ben: "What's wrong? You're not the person I used to know..."
Takuma: "Otousan... I'm so happy to see you again."
Sir Ben: "Would you just quit it? Spare me the emotional outbursts. You clearly have a problem."
Takuma: "I just met your father, and I instantly turned into a scapegoat. Instead of just lashing out at him, I need to at least understand why he's like that. I don't want to sink lower by punching that old man."
Sir Ben: "Oh, so my old man turned you into his punching bag, eh? Forgive me, my son. So he did pop out, eh? One needs to come out from hiding sometime, you know? One can't just be stuck forever like a cricket in a box.
I ran away from him. I have tried my very best to please him, I learned racing skills from him. But he always demanded too much... simply put, he's a perfectionist. Our ideas clash, eventually, for I believe in hard work that can surpass a genius. Look at you, you may not be the smartest person in the world, but all that hard work you've done made you what you are today.
He have always told me that perfection is the key to success. Actually, it's not always the case. No one is perfect, remember that. The greatest people known by mankind made mistakes at some points in their lives and they learn from them. My father is not perfect as he thinks he is. He lacks two things... one, being a father and two, being a human. I never had an idea what a father truly is. I became a monster like him. Look, I even had an illegitimate son, Ricky, and you... who I always treat harshly. So..."
Takuma: "...you turned into a great father. You exerted effort in being one, and you are successful. Eventually, I became a father of 2 kids, one adopted, and the one I created. Even though I never grew up with my real father, but I had an idea how to become one, and that's all thanks to you, and eventually I met my own father, and that even made me into a better person."
Sir Ben: "My father still wants this perfection, but he cannot achieve it. He'll never be the perfect person, and no one will be. But... I think you'll be able to topple his ideals once and for all. Show to him what determination, pride, and hard work can do... the things I have known from your father. I leave it all to you. Good luck. I believe you can save him from his sadness.
And to achieve that, you'd better return to your "Black Dragon" persona. You have to show him how ferocious you are. Let's see if his ideals can stop the Black Dragon."
Thank you... thank you very much! I will treasure this moment. If I will have to return to my former self, then so be it. But not to the point that I have forgotten compassion.... Sir Shaw wants the Black Dragon? Then he sees it!
I woke up at 8 in the morning. I am hearing the loud TV noise from the suite. Nobuhiko is watching TV that loud, huh? Oh well, gotta focus on the 3rd round. We need to spring back up to action.
Nobuhiko: "Good morning. Oh, I forgot to ask, when and where's the 3rd round?"
Takuma: "Suzuka, Japan. 4th round would be in Fuji Speedway. They're perfect for our comeback. And I think you'll be the one running for Suzuka. No need to request. I know it. The event would be a week from now. We've got to return there immediately and start practicing."
Nobuhiko: "I see. I wonder if the car can be fixed in time."
Takuma: "Just believe in Peter. He'll be able to have it running."
I called my wife in U.K. to tell the plans for the 3rd round. In response, they have started packing and I think they will be at the airport. Pretty quick, huh?
Once again, another long-haul flight... dammit. Well, we've got First Class seats and they really fold like you're on a bed. I can't sleep on a reclining chair, I have to really lie down, so I'm thankful that I have abundant legroom for the chair to tilt in a flat position and I can sleep. Hehehehehehe...
The next day, the two of us decided to head to Suzuka, to practice, of course! But since the F1 car is still being fixed in U.K., I decided to take out the Dream Alliance's Elise.
Actually, it belongs to Nobuhiko. And...
Nobuhiko: "Before I passed away, this was bright green. What have you done???"
Takuma: "Sorry... we cannot really decide on which color to stick, as this car looks good in every color you can imagine. Hence, this car changes colors like a human being changing clothes. What's worst, that dummy Takanori blew the engine. Thankfully, we found a similar engine as a replacement and tuned it the way it supposed to be."
When we arrived in Suzuka... things got serious. Nobuhiko pushes it!
Nobuhiko: "You know, this is a great training tool. Very light chassis coupled with a powerful engine... that's F1 for you."
And he's smiling... why???
Nobuhiko: "This is great! It still drives as I remember it! This car is tuned to take on Suzuka's 130R."
And he proves it. The car did 207 KM/H in 130R in Sports Tires!
Nobuhiko: "Once a car can do 200 KM/H in 130R, then that just means it's a cornering machine!"
Nobuhiko: "Just like an F1 car, this car gets cranky too if you're not careful."
Nobuhiko: "Whoops.... that's MR for you."
Guess I'll be saving my Black Dragon antics for Fuji, then. It's Nobu's turn first...
But then again, it's not wise to tease a Dragon. Dragons are not playful beings.
3rd Round. Suzuka Circuit. Nobuhiko Hiramoto. F1 car finally patched up. Formula? Remember, Nobuhiko knows Suzuka like an extension of his body. When we arrived, Peter is worried...
Peter: "Nobuhiko, are you sure about this?"
Nobuhiko: "Yes sir."
Takuma: "Nobuhiko needs no practice here. Heh. Place all your trust on him on this one.
And Nobuhiko? Let's do this..."
Instead of wearing our team's race suits, we decided to wear our own...
Nobuhiko: "It's time to show them who we really are. And what we are capable of."
Takuma: "It's been a while since I've last worn this. I'm much more comfortable with this."
Peter: "What in blue blazes..."
Nobuhiko: "Sir, this is us. We wear different race suits despite being in one team. These represent what we really are, and that we are feared. I shall show you why. Please pay attention to this race."
As Nobuhiko gets in the car as the race is about to start, he sees Christie once again, doing the same thing. The two stare momentarily at each other, and then Nobuhiko points at her.
Nobuhiko: "You deserve to be the witness of the Legend in this race. Don't take your eyes off me for a single moment."
At the starting grid... the combined revving of all the F1 cars produce a deafening sound.
Nobuhiko: "The Legend enters the fray... You're in trouble, woman."
Christie: "I will make it up to you. You shall see my skills, my worth! Don't take your eyes off me as well."
And they're off! Go Little Nobu! Make them realize it's a mistake to mess with you! This place shall be their doom!
While watching the race, I am immediately approached by Shaw. I won't call him with a Sir... he does not deserve my respect, knowing what he did in the previous round.
Sir Shaw: "That's with a Sir."
Takuma: "You don't deserve my respect. I only respect people who are respectable. I know your intentions all too well. And I am not going to kneel down before you... ever."
Sir Shaw: "You think sending your partner would make you win this one? It should have been you. After all, as you have probably known, you are my target. I have set up the car in perfect sync with Christie. I set it up in a way that she can utilize her skills properly. It's over for you."
Takuma: "Don't make assumptions. You are not driving, nor am I. Let those two decide the outcome."
Sir Shaw: "What's your trump card, then?"
Takuma: "I'm afraid, old man... that this track is on our side. And I made the right decision to send Nobuhiko out there. You are clearly just making assumptions. We have yet to see everything."
I have to leave a cryptic message to him in Japanese, so as to strike his core.
Takuma: "Omae wa... ningen ja nai. Zannen datta na... omae no musuko wa omae wo nikunda. Itsumo hitori darou, OSSAN. So****e, omae wa hontouni chichi darou? You don't understand that? DECODE IT! Even if you can't, just look back why are you this way."
("You... are not human. What a shame, your son hated you. You are always alone, old man. And, are you really a father?")
At the race, Nobuhiko holds back as he is about to overtake Christie.
Nobuhiko: "What's wrong? Don't tell me you are scared of Suzuka's first section!"
Christie: "I must block him. Just watch me! I know I can do this. I like you so much, you know???"
However, Nobuhiko makes a move, and even foregoes his tap at Christie.
Nobuhiko: "You don't deserve a tap. I don't intend on wasting my time on you. But don't get me wrong, I don't underestimate women. Now, just like what I told you before, just watch me. It's your turn to watch me!
Gotta catch the leader..."
Nobuhiko: "She's drafting behind."
Then Christie attempts a pass on the first corner, however it's too fast that she stepped on the brakes the slow down.
Nobuhiko: "I am following my racing line here. And you can't ruin it. Now look at you, you're desperate."
Nobuhiko: "You don't like it when you mess with me. You have no idea who are you facing with."
Christie: "He's fast!"
Nobuhiko sets his sights on the leader.
Nobuhiko: "I won't let you escape... I cannot let anyone escape here in Suzuka."
He applies a little tap to the opponent as they brake.
Being pressured too much, the opponent made a mistake in cornering speed, hence understeering and heading to the sand, losing control as well.
Nobuhiko: "What? You already gave in to my little pressure? Are you an F1 driver?"
And Nobuhiko flies... so, where's your PERFECT COMBINATION there, Ossan? Even if you have the best blend of car settings, a driver's skill and determination will determine the battle!
As expected from Nobuhiko. Heh, does he even live here? Haha! This is a great start of our comeback!
2 days later, I visit the Hiramoto home. Kyoko-san is as welcoming and heartwarming as usual. I actually arranged for a drive with Hiroyuki-san. First, the couple served lunch. Then Nobuhiko arrives as well, from a grocery store. Itadakimasu! Ooooh.... interesting Sushi platter you serve. And I like octopus...
Nobuhiko: "What brings you here, Takuma-san?"
Takuma: "Me and your father will be having a little drive."
Hiroyuki: "Yes. We'll head to the hills as I want to clear my mind of troubles from everyday work."
Nobuhiko: "Ohhhh.... I see. Well, as for me, I'm thinking of moving back here. I will be leasing out my apartment unit in Roppongi and live here again. I want to spend moments here again."
Kyoko: "We're so happy to hear that, but you are a grown up now. And with your workplace accessible from where you live, it should be convenient."
Nobuhiko: "So you're fine with the current arrangement? Okay. But I'll visit you everyday after work and stay here for dinner."
Hiroyuki: "That's good."
I wish I had a conversation like that with my real parents. Oyaji is only out of the picture... I do talk things with Okaasan, but seeing the Hiramotos having a conversation like that makes my heart melt. I'm sure Takanori enjoyed that kind of conversation.
And after having lunch, we're off. Heading to the hills is a nice idea, Hiroyuki-san. The cool climate and breathtaking views do drive away your stresses.
But why do I want to see Hiroyuki-san? Here we go.
Hiroyuki: "So, why do you want to see me?"
Takuma: "Okaasan told me that you know more about Sir Shaw than her."
Hiroyuki: "Ahhhh... well, I'm always here to tell you a story, boy. Even I can tell your father's adventures. But, assessing your current situation, I think you need to understand what Sir Shaw is going through. He's a father too, like you and me."
Takuma: "Well, he deprived himself of his children. That's his fault being a perfectionist."
Hiroyuki: "Parents want their best for their children, however, they have to limit themselves as well, when they see them finally grown up and can fend for themselves. That's something Sir Shaw failed to do. He molded Sir Ben into his image, against his son's will. Sir Ben is the type of person who learns from experience, he is independent, and that didn't sit well with his father. Sir Shaw wanted his son to be as feared and respected as him, so that he can carry on his legacy. However, Sir Ben wanted to be faster in a different way."
So... he's babying Otousan back then, huh? There's nothing wrong wanting your children the best, but when they grow up, let them taste the wonders of the real world and make them grow with experience! That's what Otousan did to me, he allowed me to witness the wonderful and harsh realities of life on my own. At one point, when I was 14, he even left me in a wilderness in Europe to test my survival skills, and that's with bears and wolves!"
And so, I fulfill Hiroyuki-san's request, to head up the hills. However, a car blocks our way as we climb up.
An FC, huh? Not just your ordinary FC. But what does the car's driver want? As far as I'm concerned, I have no pending challenges for now.
To our surprise, it's Sir Shaw coming out of the car! So he owns an FC... Well, that's a Rotary Junkie for you. The two of us confront him as well.
Sir Shaw: "I am thinking that you are running here, that's why I'm here, waiting."
Takuma: "Well, the rumors are true. I do run in the hills too."
Sir Shaw: "Despite everything I'm throwing at you, why do you still stand up? I did everything to put you down and prove my ideals, but you are still standing... very determined."
Takuma: "Simulations, theories, and your ideas of perfection are not applicable in every aspect of life. There are times that you need to learn with experience. Experience is what makes a person grow."
Sir Shaw: "But being unconventional can put you at a risk!"
Takuma: "Then take that risk and make a gamble! Be brave enough to conquer it! That's not something a simulation nor a theory can solve. WHEN IN DOUBT, FLAT OUT!"
Sir Shaw: "Heh... all right then. Show it to me the power of experience, Black Dragon. Let's see if you can "eat" me alive."
A race, huh? I'm not gonna back down on veterans. But before we set off, though, I adjusted the A'pexi Power FC boost settings. There... 480 PS, what I set whenever I intend to go all-out. I tone it down to 380 PS for daily driving.
Okay. All set. We do the usual touge start, leader-chaser style.
Whoa... his FC takes off like a rocket! The 13B can easily get to 500 PS even without Porting!
And as expected from a Rotary, it corners like a god!
But I can already spot the difference. Having driven an FC, that car is more stable on corner exits! My FD would spin its rear wheels and wiggle the tail on 2nd gear! I am falling behind when it comes to that!
Hiroyuki: "This is also the perfect time to tell you his driving style. I have raced him once in my heyday."
Sir Shaw: "I shall show you what perfection can do. This is my racing line! I always formulate perfect racing lines on every track."
Hiroyuki: "Sir Shaw is known for having the perfect racing line."
And it shows. He's getting away! That FC is definitely making more than 500 horsepower!
Sir Shaw: "Where's the Black Dragon? I came all the way here to see it!"
Hiroyuki: "However, that "perfect racing line" is effective...
...only when he's in the lead and no one disturbing him."
So that's his weakness! I'm so thankful having you around, Hiroyuki-san! All right, get ready!
The Black Dragon is ready to devour you...
End of Page 12
- This is the A'pexi Power FC. This is seen in the RE Amemiya FD3S, and in the RX-7 TC.
Now I know that old man's weakness, I know what to do! I gotta pressure him! I must keep up!
You leave me choice but to use the gutters...
It's a tricky maneuver... one must keep the car in check.
Hiroyuki:"The look on Takuma's eyes... it's like he's going to do something sinister! He's very serious! Michiharu has been like this before! It's like I'm being strangled by his dark intentions!"
Hiroyuki:"And his reflexes has gotten better. To think he can immediately catch this FD's oversteer.
I'm keeping up! The gutter techniques pay off!
Sir Shaw: "There... that's what I want to see. I want to see your recklessness paying off! You obviously don't know which line to take!"
I'm hot on your tail, old man... then that hotness will turn into dragon flames...
Sir Shaw: "It's like a beastly being chasing after me. I'm sort of panicking..."
Gotcha! You went in too fast!
Hiroyuki: "Now's your chance! You disturbed his rhythm."
Sir Shaw: "Oh dreary..."
Takuma: "No mercy, old man!"
Once a racing line is disturbed, it's difficult to put it back, especially when you are under pressure! And besides, there is no such thing as an ideal racing line! It's up to each and every racer to decide on which line to take. You cannot make others follow yours.
Sir Shaw: "No!"
Sir Shaw suddenly has a vision...
Sir Shaw: "Indeed... the Black Dragon still lingers. It has devoured me."
Hiroyuki:"Unreal! This FD's rate of speed is astonishing! We're several meters away!"
Sir Shaw: "I have made a mistake... to tease my son's Black Dragon!"
Sir Shaw: "That was a brief display of madness..."
The race is over, I won... not only that, Otousan also won. Both of us stopped by at a parking lot just at the base. Sir Shaw approaches us, clearly in a state of shock.
Sir Shaw: "You... just what the hell are you?"
Takuma: "I am a racer, using just my determination and guts to make my way to where I am right now. No amount of your precious simulations can match it."
Sir Shaw: "That's exactly what my son said, when he opened the door and got out. What have I done wrong??? I thought everything I've planned for him was perfect... I want him to be..."
Takuma: "Your pawn??? Your son wants to carve his path to success on his own! You are a bad father!"
Sir Shaw: "How come you say that? You shunned away your biological father, right!?"
Takuma: "I have realized how great he was, and I am proud of his achievements despite not knowing him while he's living.
And I kinda understand how you are feeling. Because I'm a father too. I want what's best for my children, but I let them decide what path they want to take when they grow up! You cannot force your beliefs on them... not even you are perfect, either. Your son never had an idea how to be a good father, because of you!"
Sir Shaw: "Happy now? Now you've got what you want. You've beaten me, and I deserve it... after what I did to your team."
Takuma: "I'll be happy, if you go to your son's grave, kneel down, and APOLOGIZE!"