RCKakashi14's GT7 Fanfiction: Stars & Stripes Act 2 - Clipping The Wings

5,678
Philippines
Manila, PH
TakuKanonji22
IMPORTANT!



This is my latest fan fiction title. If this is the first story you'll read, please take time to read the preceding titles first. You can click on the links provided below:


GT5 SAGA




GT6 SAGA
(CHARACTER PROFILES CAN ALSO BE FOUND THERE)




GT SPORT SAGA




These are listed in chronological order.



NOTE: This entry is a soft reboot of Page 8 of the 10th Arc in the GT Sport saga of the story, titled: Hatch 2.0.




Page 8 - Eau Rouge Flat Out



Location: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
Time: 9 am, one week later




Rob went through the rest of the week thinking about the race, and his fated meeting with his long-lost brother, Dennis. A hint of anxiety can be detected, well, according to Diana, that is.


Nonetheless, the half-siblings head over to the track without incident. Rob and Owen directed the crew on setting up the car. They also noticed the growing number of racing fans filling up the grandstands, as well as reporters from various media organizations covering the event.

The one who gets the most attention, however, is...


...not surprisingly, Takuma Kanonji. He never made an announcement nor left any clues about his return. He merely made his presence known and even racing experts are taken by surprise.



Another highlight is Kevin's debut race in his new team, Rote Strahl, under the watchful eye of his still estranged father. They are hard at work, on the other hand, to be bothered by media interviews.


Rob, meanwhile, is also attracted by the crowd that Takuma built up.


"My my... what do we have here?" Rob said as he sees familiar faces in Spa's pit lane.

He approaches Takuma, who is seen talking to his twin, Takanori. Apparently, Dream Alliance Global has returned to business, albeit with a much smaller manpower than before. Yuki Kanonji has also enlisted.


"Is this another wacky gimmick?" Rob asked with his usual snark.


Takuma merely grins.

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"I'm back. For real this time." Takuma replied.

"Oh you'd better be a dear and keep your word. Competition's getting dreary without you." Rob commented.

"Hey, don't underestimate Kevin either. He whooped you more times than you can count." Takuma said.

"I'm aware of that. But I have another problem in my hands. And I'd be better off not telling it to you. It's... personal." Rob said.

"Don't let that drag you down, mate." Takuma said, as he places his hand on Rob's shoulder, accompanied with a smile.

The two men proceeded to grin at each other. Rob leaves Takuma be, and returns to the pit lane.


Meanwhile...

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Dennis and Bianca are also helping the crew in the Jaguar's set up. However, Bianca sees that Dennis isn't in his usual element, noticing his slightly inert behavior.

She approaches him out of concern.


"Are you all right?" Bianca asked.


"Uh... yeah. Don't worry about me." Dennis replied.


"He's here. It's your opportunity to let him know." Bianca said.


"I want to tell him how I felt, but I wonder how he'll react?" Dennis asked.


"He'll understand whatever you say. He's as much eager to see you as you do. I have told him about this already." Bianca answered.


And then...


...Rob arrives. Their meeting is long overdue. Bianca hopes for a pleasant one.


Rob looks at his brother from head to toe, then focus his attention to Dennis' hair. Dennis' eyes widened, with his fists clenched.


"Your hair. You grew it? I thought..." Rob commented.


Before he could comment further, Dennis pushes Rob. Dennis had snapped, something that Bianca didn't expect.


"HOW COULD YOU?! WHY?! WHY LEAVE ME TO DIE?!" Dennis frantically asks.

Rob maintains his rock solid composure and didn't even budge. But deep down he is just as about to explode as Dennis does, but with joy.


"I WAS ALONE! YOU DIDN'T EVEN COME!" Dennis continued on raging.


Bianca quickly holds Dennis' both arms, to restrain him.


"I knew it. Dennis, just... go back." Bianca said.


"I WON'T UNTIL I GET AN ANSWER!" Dennis replied.


"I knew this isn't a good idea. But your brother is here! Aren't you happy?" Bianca asked.


Dennis is left hyperventilating, only looking at Rob walking away. Bianca runs and catches up to him.


"I'm sorry, Rob. He's not ready yet." Bianca said.


"I knew it all along. Alexei hard wired his brain. Weren't you informed of that?" Rob asked.


"No. Alexei didn't tell me of that. I swear, Alexei has kept secrets from me too. I never approved of him "influencing" Dennis just to get an edge over you. If I want to race or even fight you, I'd do it fairly." Bianca explained.


"Why not.... show him? How about reminding him of the brother he once looked up to?" she said. "Do not hold back." she added.


She then returns to her team's pit garage, to check up on the still shaking Dennis.


Rob lets out a deep sigh. But a race is at hand, and he has to outperform the rest from qualifying to the race proper.


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All eyes are at Takuma at the moment, not only because of his sudden return, but also to Mazda's new race car that Takuma volunteered to gather data for them.

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The racing car tackles the Eau Rouge effortlessly, with Takuma's right foot flat on the accelerator. GT3 specification machines have the capability to tackle the chicane flat out thanks to the advancements on downforce.

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However, Takuma has another job at hand, and his mind had a brief flashback - a short meeting with Gerhard days before the race.



"I will fund your team's revival. But of course there is one important favor you have to fulfill in exchange." Gerhard said.

"What is it?" Takuma asked.

"You have to make sure that Kevin focuses on racing alone. I can't afford him doing reckless things as he did before. Be his hurdle. An extremely tall one, at that." Gerhard replied.


"Got it. Consider it done, sir." Takuma said.


"I will be the one doing the dirty and reckless stuff. I don't want Kevin to have the same life as I have. He has a life of his own. I must be a responsible father, and yet I haven't had a great progress on that so far." Gerhard added.



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The cries of the naturally aspirated 4-rotor Skyactive-R Rotary engine can be heard even outside the premises of the circuit, including those who live nearby.


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"Rest assured, Mr. Kern, I will give your son the challenge he deserves. Besides, I have to dust myself off." Takuma thought as he grins at the prospect of being trusted by Kevin's father to aid his son's progress.


Meanwhile, Kevin tests the waters using the newly-upgraded Audi R8 LMS in its EVO II configuration, with the modifications paid for by Gerhard as well.

Having found out his idol has suddenly returned, he cannot pass up the opportunity of proving himself to be better.

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"I'm totally taken by surprise. I'd never expected this day to come." Kevin thought.


"I don't care if mid-engined cars get heavier penalties in BoP. My real hurdle just popped up. None other than Takuma-san." he added.

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The modified R8 LMS EVO II hits the apex whenever it sees one, squeezing out much speed as it can despite the weight penalty.

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But the increased weight has a benefit on stability too. Kevin has little to worry about his car squirrelling out of control.


"All right. I can fully floor it." Kevin thought as he notices the newfound stability of his car.




And now, on to Rob.

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It's as clear as day that he's affected with how Dennis acted earlier.


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He muses over to what Bianca suggested a while back - to show his true skill in order to remind Dennis his brotherly love.


"She is right. I can't hold back. Why would I? Last time I checked, he has gotten way faster. I've got to take off this uneasiness." Rob thought.


As a start, he dashes the DBR9 on full throttle at the Eau Rouge.

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Back in the pit garage, Dennis and Bianca are performing the finishing touches on their race car before they can start their qualifying run.


Bianca, ever the loving half-sibling, attempts to give advice.


"Dennis, just give it your all. Let all the angst go. Then watch your brother very carefully. Maybe it will jog your mind." Bianca said.

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"This race will be an eye-opening moment for you. He is more than eager to welcome you back, Dennis." she added.


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"It doesn't matter to me now who wins. Let him show you what he truly is." she said, as she holds both Dennis' hands.






An hour later, the qualifying has ended. Dennis' skill has improved by leaps and bounds, as shown when he acquires the pole position. People are taking notice that a certain Darwin Healey outmatches Rob, even though they know nothing of the siblings' history.


Aside from a number of GT3 cars, there are lower-class racers in the fray.

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As the light turns green, Rob firmly grasps the steering wheel. Full throttle.




"I'll take a crack on revamping your memory. I'll show no mercy... just like how we trained together back then."





END OF PAGE 8



AUTHOR'S NOTES:



- Thank goodness for the addition of the Custom Race feature in Gran Turismo 7. Although the AI does need work when it comes to speed.


- The entire race is a crossover event. It ties in with the upcoming Rote Strahl arc, with that one focusing on the duel between Takuma and Kevin on that same race.












 
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Page 9 - The Bus Stops Here (Part 1)
The race begins. Dennis, albeit shaken from his meeting with his brother earlier, goes full throttle.
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True to his promise, Rob puts pressure on his sibling.


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"I will show no mercy, Dennis. Just like how we honed our skills in Brands Hatch on our younger days. Hopefully that should shake your brain even for a bit." Rob thought.

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The siblings don't mind the competition behind. For them, it's all eyes on both.


Kevin manages to overtake Rob at the Eau Rouge, but clearly Rob is far less interested on that little setback.


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"Out of my way, edgy German kid. You can have your retribution later." Rob said.


The DBR9 makes a quick work on Kevin's R8 on the straight. Now on the job at hand.

Side by side at the hairpin, neither sibling show no sign of letting up.


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Dennis still holds on the pole. But it is obvious to him that his brother has been scheming.



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"Whatever you are scheming, I won't fall for it, Rob. I am no longer in your shadow." Dennis said.


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Meanwhile, Kevin observes the heated duel of two British GT cars.



"Is there something going on between the two? I heard a commotion earlier. Dennis... is alive?" Kevin wondered as he flicks the right paddle to shift to a higher gear.


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The age between the two cars is made clear by the Jaguar's speed. But for Rob, it is out of the question as he keeps putting on pressure.


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"Is that all? Better go back to the X-Bow, Dennis." Rob taunts as he steps on the brakes approaching the Bus Stop chicane.


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However, Kevin is just as eager...


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The pressure starts to kick in, as the F-Type overshoots the chicane with understeer.


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"Tch! If it weren't for that added ballast thanks to that BOP, I would have been miles ahead." Dennis thought.


With quick steering corrections, Dennis still holds the lead. But it has been clear as the weather that the pressure is all around him.


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But it has been clear as the weather that the pressure is all around him.

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The F-Type GT3 braves through the Eau Rouge at full throttle thanks to the copious amounts of downforce a GT3 specification car can offer.


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"I think you want me to sod off. That means it's working." Rob commented as he manages to catch up to Dennis at the hairpin.




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Dennis firms his grip on the wheel, as frustration starts to set in.


"Why won't you disappear, Rob? You abandoned me.... you left me to die." Dennis ranted.



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That brief angst caused Dennis to lose his momentum, and sent the Jag off course at the next turn.


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"Oh bollocks!" Dennis exclaimed.

Rob simply smirks at the sight. His plan seems to have paid off.


"Time to bring out the Hatch in you, Dennis." Rob commented.


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"Stay calm, Dennis. Clearly he is mucking about." Dennis said to himself as he lets out a sigh.


Dennis steps on the throttle, but then the F-Type skids out.


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"ARGH!" Dennis exclaimed as he wrestles control of the supercharged racing car.


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The gap between the siblings has significantly widened. Rob's right foot is still buried on the accelerator.


"Try to keep up as you would. Remember the old days, chap." Rob said.



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"That's how you wanna play, is it? Fine then.... brother." Dennis said as he is somehow reminded of the similar scenario back when the two were training.



End of Page 9



AUTHOR'S NOTES:



- It's been over a year since I last posted here. A lot has happened since then.


As you may have observed, the liveries of the cars have changed, and so do the roster. That was because my main account got banned without even an e-mail from Sony. So, having lost all progress, I had to redo the game from scratch using my other account. Coupled with the rather less than stellar state of the game, this had completely put me off on writing.

Having gathered enough funds to get the race cars needed, I decided to give writing another go. I am somehow hoping the next major update brings
a lot to the table, but knowing PD I still hold back on my expectations.
 
Page 10 - The Bus Stops Here (Part 2)
Several laps later, overcast skies loom over the Belgian circuit. Bianca holds the radio and notifies Dennis.
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"There is a significant chance of rain. Be careful. It could shower at any moment." Bianca said.


"Got it!" said Dennis as he is rebuilding his momentum after that huge setback a while ago.

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Fog even sets in, but that doesn't waver Dennis' drive to take back what he lost.... more than just the lead.


Meanwhile, Rob shows no sign of lightening up his pace.


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"I don't want to cause a traffic for your sake, Dennis. I still expect you to be right on my arse." Rob taunted.


The next lap begins, and the race cars soldier on despite the fact that precipitation has started.




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"Great. Showers come in." ranted Dennis.


Bianca radios in.


"Expect heavy showers ahead. Pit in to switch to Wet tires." she commanded.


The surface starts to get slippery, reducing friction over time. This prompted everyone to let up their paces.


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Rob notices the bright orange Jag once again joining the fray. He firms his grip on the steering wheel.




"I guess the rain is a blessing. Hopefully." Dennis thought.



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Not minding the lack of friction, Dennis steps on the throttle fully.


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However, his eagerness starts to backfire. The surface friction has reduced to nil. Slick tires can no longer grip well under these conditions.


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Dennis exerts a herculean effort to keep the car back on the track, correcting the steering wheel in an attempt to wrestle back control.




The opening created an opportunity for Takuma and Kevin to overtake him, albeit on a snail's pace.

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Dennis pushes down on the pedal once the car has straightened.


"Come on! Come on! Make it to the pit! I have to catch him!" Dennis exclaimed while feathering the accelerator.


Steering gently through the Blanchimont, Dennis then applies the power....


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...however, the car had other plans.


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"Oh shoot!" Dennis exclaimed. Even correcting the wheel would completely be futile at this point.



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The loss of control suddenly evoked a flashback, a traumatic one at that.



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That bit of his memory triggered a severe, unbearable migraine. This caused Dennis to black out and lose consciousness.


Despite that, the car managed to crash albeit with only minor front end damage.



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Rob has witnessed the commotion even as he entered the pit lane.


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"Dennis!" Rob exclaimed.


He then parks the car at an empty pit garage, leaving Takuma bewildered.


"Huh? What's going on? That's not his pit garage." Takuma said.


Then he sees Rob getting out of the car and racing his way back to the Bus Stop chicane.


Upon arriving to the car, he knocks on the door, but seeing Dennis' head resting on the wheel, he opens it and unstraps his little brother.


The marshals join him in retrieval.


"Call an ambulance! He's unconscious!" Rob shouts in exasperation.




And with that, Rob decides to throw in the towel and retire. He also informs Bianca of what had transpired.


*****************************************************************************************************************************************


They then rushed Dennis to the nearest hospital. After waiting, the doctor came out and meet the half-siblings.


"Thankfully, he has no physical injuries. However, we detected a strenuous brain activity during the CT scan. He might have experienced a severe migraine and passed out." the doctor explained.


"I knew it." Rob replied.


"What?" Bianca asked.


"This was the result of that blasted mind trickery Alexei did. He must have remembered a traumatic event." Rob responded.


"Well, we will still do tests. Eventually, he will awaken." the doctor said.



The two then visited Dennis in his room. Upon entering, they see Dennis still in slumber. Bianca approaches on his left side, holding his hand.


"We're here, Dennis. Rob brought you here. He's not all bad." she said.



Rob straightens up his jacket and then proceeds to hold on the door knob.


"Where are you going?" Bianca asked.


"Stay here and watch over him. I am going to grind Alexei to the ground." Rob replied.



Rob exits the room with a noticeable loud bang when the door closed.



*****************************************************************************************************************************************


Location: A holding cell in MI6 HQ, London
Time: 10 am, two days later




Rob, true to his word, proceeds to the cell where Alexei is being temporarily held before transferring him to a prison far away.


Alexei is sitting nonchalantly, having just emptied his glass of water. He shows a smirk, as Rob slams his fist on the table.


"Shouldn't we start the day with a smile, my brother?" Alexei asked while showing a taunting smirk.


"You broke Dennis. And you are sitting here smirking." Rob said.


"I just fed him the truth." Alexei replied.


"No you didn't. You used him to get to me. And now he's lying in some hospital in Belgium because his head went boom." Rob said.


"It's no longer my fault now. Weren't you racing him at Spa during that weekend? I assume, you pushed him." Alexei said.


"I tried to be the brother he looked up to." Rob answered.


Alexei giggles. Then it turned into a laugh.... lastly into a guffaw.


"See, that has always been your problem! You always want to be the big man of the house. You have gotten so big, that you cast an inescapable shadow not just to Dennis, but to all of your siblings. You didn't even care. Dennis has always pushed himself to be the best, even before his "death". But here you are always proving you have the biggest balls of all. Not just to your family, but even to your team! Your pride may have created you, but it also pushed everyone away. You don't always have to be the superhero or some top super spy mowing down mafias in one swoop. You are already way ahead. Why not actually step on the brakes for once? I, Dennis, Bianca, or even Owen have dreams of our own, but all we can see is the darkness cast by your shadow. Be. A. Real. Human! Would it kill to have some humility in your blood? You don't have to replace our father to carry our so-called "family."" Alexei blurted out.


Upon hearing the tirade, Rob opens up his fist slowly. He then turns back and exits the cell.




End of Page 10






 
Page 11 - The Wall



Location: London, England
Time: 8 pm, the next day



The tirade clearly hit Rob, perhaps harder than the hits he received in his brawls. For a second there, his momentum slowed down.

The day went on as usual, trying his very best not to think about what Alexei dropped yesterday by doing a plethora of mundane tasks. When it was time to punch out, he immediately grabs his smartphone from the pocket of his slacks. He then goes to Contacts and dials up Takuma's number.

After three rings, Takuma picks up the phone, who is at his home not too far off.




"Oh hey, Takuma. Been a while, how are you?" Rob greeted.

Takuma responded, "Hey Rob! I've heard what happened. Are you okay?"

"Spritely as ever, chap. Listen, I know this isn't something you'd hear from me often, but can we meet at a pub? I want to talk." Rob said.

Takuma is at the living room, and after briefly telling his wife that he'll be out, he grabs the keys and quickly heads out of porch.

"I'm on my way, Rob." Takuma replied. Then the call ends.


An hour later, Takuma manages to find a parking spot just right in front of the pub. He sees Rob's Aston Martin DB11 painted in AMR theme.




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"Tasteful of you, buddy. Definitely not you." Takuma murmured to himself as he walks past the car. He opens up the door to the pub and he raises his hand as a sign of greeting upon seeing Rob sitting at the bar, drinking.


Takuma smiles and joins his best friend.

"Both of us are driving, gotta remember that." Takuma joked.

"It's on me." Rob said.

Takuma's eyes widened upon hearing that.

"Really? Ha! What is going on with the world? You? Treating me?" Takuma asked.

"Just sit down and hear me out. It's a little banter." Rob replied.

Takuma first orders his drink and then shifts back his focus to Rob as the bartender is preparing.

"Hey... I've sometimes observed you twins and your shenanigans. Deep inside, I'm quite... jealous. How do you keep that dynamic?" Rob asked.

"Hey, is that the drink doing the talking?" Takuma jokingly responded.

"I'm serious. All I ask is... how to be a good role model?" Rob asked in soft tone.

Takuma shakes his head and giggles upon hearing that question. And then he proceeds to take a sip of his drink.

"I'm not the best person to ask that, truth be told." Takuma answered.

"But then both of you, and your cousin as well, look so gleeful. When I do it, it's like... issuing an order to a subordinate. It hits different." Rob said.

"I just spend time with them, especially that I have returned to my family. I got to know them first, then find out their quirks and features, or whatever that floats their boats. I simply go with their flow. I learned that from Takanori." Takuma said.

"We gotta admit though, we are laced with too much pride that we don't want to show our vulnerabilities. I guess it's a brother thing." Rob said then he gulps down the remaining contents of his alcoholic drink.


"I think I am seeing the problem here." Takuma said.

"What is it, then? Feel free to roast." Rob asked.

"Breaking your own wall isn't such a bad thing at all. They want to get through you, but they can't. Try opening up. Tear down that wall, and maybe people will see what you truly are. You've built that thing so hard and towering, that no one can find a way to reach you. Haven't you told me, that your father drilled that idea to your head that you have to be strong for everyone? Maybe you went overboard with that. You are too strong, that you ended up driving people away instead of inspiring them. They can't see the real you. People want to see the real version of the person they are talking to.

It's okay to show a weakness. It won't hurt to ask for help. And when they see your weakness, who knows? Maybe they can fill that hole in your heart." Takuma explained as he pats his hand on Rob's shoulder.


"If you want to get close to Owen, well, show the real you. Throw away that super secret agent facade. Prove to him that you are a brother." Takuma added.

Rob smiles. A first in his life whenever someone gives him an advice. He would usually smirk or turn around.

"I'll give that a try." Rob said.

"Good luck." Takuma responded.



**************************************************************************************************************************


Location: Rob's garage, Kent, England
Time: 11 am, few days later



Weekend has arrived yet again, and a perfect opportunity for Rob to turn over the new leaf. He calls on Owen to come over the garage nearby Brands Hatch, which was recently built.


As Owen arrived, he was mesmerized by the size. As for Rob, he was equally astounded with his half-sibling's new steed - a BAC MONO.


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"Look at that shiny orange beast before me. When did you buy it?" Rob asked.

"A few months back. I thought it would be splendid to surprise you." Owen replied.

"I see. You got good taste. Have you set it up?" Rob asked.

"I did. But I think now is the time to ask for your opinion." Owen said.

The Mono is then being raised up for inspection. Rob goes through with the chassis and uses a flashlight to see the smaller details.

"Those chaps from BAC know how to come up with a wonder like this. I am actually envious." Rob commented.

"Really? I had expected the roasting from here." Owen said.

"Hey, credit to whom it's due. You also did a commendable job setting up yourself. I like this." Rob said.

Owen smiles, and that prompts his elder sibling to smile too.

As the two continue to pore over, however, they hear a loud engine note outside. Both come out and then see another lightweight sports car before them.


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A Radical SR3 SL - driven by none other than Dennis, who insisted to see Rob after discharging from the hospital. He takes off his helmet and alights from the machine.


"A Radical? Huh, neat." Owen said.


"Dennis? Aren't you supposed to recuperate?" Rob asked with visible worry.


"Well, I was livid for a few days at home. I wanted to see you." Dennis responded.


"I see. What do you want, then?" Rob asked.


"Another race. The last one ended rather prematurely, and with Bianca having told me everything, I want to see how you've changed." Dennis said.


"I'm free tomorrow." Rob replied.


"No. WE." Owen said.


Rob chuckles.


"More the merrier, it seems. All right. Tomorrow, at Brands Hatch. Just the three of us, forgetting the past. We are to move on." Rob said.


The three then nodded at each other. Then they enter the garage with Rob offering them some snacks and drinks.



**************************************************************************************************************************



Location: Brands Hatch
Time: 10 am, the next day





The appointed day. The day that shall start a new chapter for the Hatch family.

Rob walks back and forth inspecting his and his sibling's cars. He then sees Dennis fixing his hair before putting his helmet on and he approaches him.


"You ready for this?" Rob asked.

"Yeah. More than ever." Dennis replied.

"Just be yourself. You don't have to hold back." Dennis said.

"Of course. I'll give you a bout you'll never forget." Rob said with a smile, then proceeds to tap Dennis' shoulder two times.


When all is set and done, the three head off the pit, with Dennis at the lead.




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Soldiering on the first hairpin, Dennis floors the throttle. Rob notices the increased pace of the leader.



"That's good. Alright, make me sweat!" Rob said as he firms his grip on the wheel.




End of Page 11
 
Page 12 - Walk Down The Memory Lane
The overcast skies are merely the audience for this three-way battle at Brands Hatch. Rain or shine, the bout goes on.
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The SR3 SL may be built for the road, but it cannot deny its circuit credentials inherited from its racing brethren. It takes a commanding lead.


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Owen backs off a bit, pondering as to what is truly going on, having noticed Rob's sudden change of demeanor.


"I haven't seen Rob act like this. What in the world has been going on? He usually isn't that generous." Owen thought.


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And then all of a sudden, Rob puts his right foot down, hard on the accelerator. The boost builds up rather swiftly.


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"All right, Dennis. I hope your head won't turn into mush with this!" Rob said, with a smirk on his face.


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Dennis feels the pressure behind, somehow ominous.

"Is he always this pushy?" Dennis asked himself.


Owen clearly sees the pace of the two rising.


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"Blast it. I have to quit faffing about." Owen said.

The BAC Mono's engine may breathe naturally, but its response more than makes up for the lack of aspiration.


On the other hand, Dennis is pressing on, eager to shake off his pursuers.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__7.jpeg


"Whatever your game is, I am not falling for it." Dennis thought to himself.


However...




...Rob has just started his offensive.



Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__8.jpeg



"Charging in." Rob said.


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Out of all the three, the XBow makes the most power, tuning wise. It is easy for Rob to for him to toy around his opponents.

"Just like turning up a dial." Rob said to himself.


"Now, let me bring back our older days. Sorry to mess with your head a bit." Rob thought.


Now that his older brother took the command, Dennis breathes out a sigh.


"Focus. He is a hurdle. I can jump on him. I can do it." Dennis said.


Meanwhile, Owen also smirks. A sign that he is ready to join the fray.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__10.jpeg



"That's it. That's how we play. Let's go!" Owen said.





End of Page 12
 
Page 13 - Open Wheel Showdown
Owen also decided to have the piece of the action. Well, one simply doesn't just watch a race unfold. Spectating will not do justice.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit_.jpeg



"I'm reeling you both." Owen said as he presses down the accelerator, seeing both the Radical and the KTM picking up the pace.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__1.jpeg



The BAC Mono's engine is naturally-aspirated, hence lacking the shove that the turbocharged opponents have. But it more than makes for its responsive nature and the car itself being the lightest among the three.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__2.jpeg


Owen clearly demonstrates his car's advantage over his brethren.


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Rob smirks upon seeing the Mono taking the lead.


"Oh finally, a bit of spine. Let's go!" Rob said.


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Dennis also gives praise to Owen.


"Never thought he would be that skilled too. And that Mono is no joke!" he remarked.


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The Mono's list of credentials is long, having set production car lap records in circuits around the world, including the famous Top Gear test track in Dunsfold.


"I must admit, you made me jealous. You got a car leagues ahead of mine, Owen." Rob admits.





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Despite all the commendations, everyone wants to win. Dennis is catching up, not letting the other two out of his sight.


Rob then pushes forward, attempting to overtake Owen.


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But he pulled down anchor way too late approaching the sharp bend, sending him off the course.


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"Blast it!" Rob exclaimed.


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Dennis saw that as an opportunity to strike, which placed Rob back at the pack.


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"Not a chance, chap." Rob said, as he puts his foot down, easily handing back the 3rd place to his little brother.



Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__11.jpeg




The tension has risen, perhaps keeping up with the sudden rise of temperature as the sun has finally decided to become part of the audience as well.


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"All right gents, gloves are off!" Rob said.




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He then nudges the Mono, in an attempt to keep Owen off his momentum.






End of Page 13

 
Page 14 - Fork on The Road
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit_.jpeg

Rob has turned up the tension, perhaps giving his final test to his siblings.
Owen definitely did not have the reflexes to recover his car from that predicament. It was an unexpected move after all.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__1.jpeg



"Bloody Nora!" Owen exclaimed.


He was, however, quick to recover and rejoined the fray.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__2.jpeg

"What's with him? I know Rob can be aggressive even in practice, but not THAT kind of aggressive." Owen pondered.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__3.jpeg

Even Dennis starts to feel the immense pressure, despite having finally taken the lead.
"Reality will never be friendly, chaps. I am drilling that on to your heads!" Rob said.
The pressure overwhelms Dennis, and he accelerated way too early out of the bend, prompting the Radical to kick its tail out.
Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__4.jpeg



"He's breathing down my neck!" Dennis exclaimed.

Rob and his KTM easily zoom past.


"I am that one hurdle you can't leap on. Or can you?" Rob asked.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__5.jpeg



However, as Rob hits the brakes approaching the first bend....


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....the X-Bow became skittish, however that is a typical trait among mid-engine cars, exacerbated only by the lack of mechanical grip.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__7.jpeg


"This little tramp is having tantrums again!" Rob exclaimed as he wrestles control of his car, wandering about the track.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__8.jpeg



A huge opening was left, which both Owen and Dennis eagerly took.


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"Strike while the iron is hot!" Dennis thought. But he can still feel the weight.




However...


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__10.jpeg



...Rob displays a different kind of smile, not the usual smirk he uses in his tense moments.



"Who am I kidding? Both have vastly improved their mettle. I shouldn't be wasting my time mentoring them when there is nothing more I can impart on." Rob remarked.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__11.jpeg



"They have finally made past the hurdle. And Takuma is right, time to be a brother, not a drill sergeant." Rob thought.


Just before the final turn, Rob ultimately lets off the throttle. The blow off valve whistles, as if the car letting off a sigh.


Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__12.jpeg



"They have to know, that they are no longer under my shadow. They have seen the light. They are free...."



Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit__13.jpeg



Owen notices in the mirrors that only Dennis is on the tail.


"Rob? Where is he?" Owen asked.




The three then decided to call it quits. It didn't matter to them who won or not. For them, it was a moment of pure bliss. They have never felt this kind of bonding.


In the pit garage, they have quenched their thirsts, and as Rob placed his helmet on the side table, he approaches his siblings and pats his hands on each of their shoulders.


"Great job. You aced it." Rob said.


"Huh? But we haven't decided on the winner. We just had to postpone..." Dennis replied.


"Both of you have exceeded my expectations. There is pretty much nothing more I can teach you." Rob said.


"Rob? Is there something going on? Why are you saying these all of a sudden?" Owen asked.


"Forgive me. I have done nothing but cast a giant shadow on you. You may have been feeling that you haven't met my expectations. Truth is, you both did. I should have said that eons ago. It was too late for me to realize that I wasn't being myself, that I have been too hard on you. I was focused on building this... unbreakable structure for our family. I failed to find out that I have been pushing you away. For that, I am truly sorry." Rob explained.


Dennis smiles.


"Well, I still have to recover all of my memories, but I can feel it in my heart, that you inspired us both." Dennis said.


"Glad to hear it." Rob said.


"To be honest, I wished that you could open up a bit more. But hey, we still have the coolest brother of them all." Owen remarked.


Rob then clears his throat.


"From now on, you are free to choose whatever race team or discipline you wish to take. You have proven to me your commendable skills. I have contacts readily available and I can assure you my good word. You both deserve this. New opportunities await." Rob said.


"But what are you going to do from here on out?" Dennis asked.


"I will focus on the security matters of this country. But of course, I will always be on your backs." Rob replied.


Rob then proceeds to hug both his younger siblings.


"This... isn't awkward at all." Rob thought.



**************************************************************************************************************************


Location: London, England
Time: 6 am, the next day



It is once again a sunny morning at the MI6 headquarters. Alexei is wearing a prisoner's uniform, now cleared for transfer to his prison at the outskirts.

He walks around, looking left and right to the burly security regimen. The men could only give him a cold glare as he is being led to the armored van.


As he sits, he looks down the metallic flooring of the vehicle. His view outside is limited only to the windshield.



"MOVE OUT! You are clear to go." shouted by one of the personnel.

The van moves. For hours, there was no incident.


It then arrives at a coastal city.

As the black van stops along the shore line, which one would find peculiar given that it's merely a prison transfer routine.

Alexei is hearing Slavic accents from the driver and the guard at the front.

"What is going on?" Alexei asked.

The driver looks back and smiled. "You don't recognize me?" he asked.

Just then, the guard heads out the van and opens up the rear doors.


He pulls Alexei out, dragging him to that silver Mercedes C63 AMG parked at the port overlooking a rather rare sunny British morning.

Whitby_.jpeg




The "guard" then opens up the passenger door, pushes Alexei inside. Then, the person behind the helm is a woman with blond hair wearing sunglasses with matching leather jacket. She smiles at Alexei.


"How does it feel being saved by the comrades you turned your back on? A bit nostalgic, isn't it? My name isCzarina Marsh." she said.


Then she grabs a trench coat and sunglasses from the backseat, passes them over to Alexei.


"Wear them, for about four hours." Czarina ordered.


Alexei would then show a smile, as if appreciating this newfound freedom.


"Why why, if it isn't HIS daughter. Like father, like daughter, perhaps." Alexei quipped.


And then the sports car breathes into life, departing from the coastline.


Cliff Gate Road_.jpeg



"I can freely send you back to the prison where you TRULY belong, or maybe, you can help me gather information about him." Czarina said.


"Who?" Alexei asked.


"My father, no less." Czarina replied.


Alexei smirks.


"Things have gotten a lot more interesting, eh?" Alexei remarked.


Czarina then steps hard on the accelerator, with the AMG making a swift work on the B roads.




THE END
 
Finnmark__1.jpeg



Arc 11: SILVERLINE


Czarina Marsh - the daughter of the now infamous FIA president Maximillian Marsh - is now on the crossroads of doing what is right and protecting her familial bonds.
Can she choose both?
New Characters:

Czarina Marsh
- she is the only daughter of the FIA President Maximilian Marsh. Her stepmother had succumbed from a disease which barely affected her. The separation of her parents does, however, still impacts her to this day, and as a result she holds some resentment towards her father. Much to her father's chagrin, she took up professional racing in which he slowly accepted and supported his daughter in her activities.


Dave Lempel - Dave and Czarina first met in high school, and the pair would eventually hit it off on college. He is actually running a family-owned automotive business called "Lempel Technologies" - a firm specializing mostly in restoration of classic vehicles and even making retired racing vehicles competitive as they were in their heyday. However, their business went under after a conspiracy that is still being under investigation. Dave works tirelessly to bring back life to the company that his late father had started, who had died just days after its inauguration.


Timeline: set during the events of GT500 Legend IV, Formel, and Storm



Page 1: Sweethearts


Location: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Time: 10 am; Sunday



"All right! We're on borrowed time, people! Let's move!"


A sentence shouted by a man in his late-20s, named Dave Lempel. His crew scrambles around, making final checks on his Mitsubishi 3000GT. Joining him is his racing partner and girlfriend, Czarina Marsh.



Pit Garage_.jpeg



"Your first round. Good luck!" Czarina said.

They are participating in the World Touring Car series - a series that is joined by all comers, and they are composed of amateur and professional teams alike.


"Race is starting in a few minutes. Whew... didn't even qualify yesterday." Dave said.

"It's just a minor setback. You can get on the podium later." Czarina assured.



Every racer is now called for the warm up lap and lining up on the start line. Lempel Technologies team starts out at the back, due to the mechanical problems at qualifying yesterday.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca_.jpeg



His hands firmly grasp the wheel, his right foot repeatedly pushing the accelerator down.


"Remember, Dave. Keep it on the high rpm. You know how lazy the turbo is." Czarina said in the comms.


She is referring to the fact that the GTO is running a 2.5 liter turbocharged V6 from a Pikes Peak specification car. To meet the regulations, the engine had to be reworked and retuned, making lower horsepower than its donor car.


And the race finally begins. Czarina's point was proven rather quickly, with the competition rapidly distancing themselves.


Once the needle goes past 6000 rpm, the surge of power can be felt. The engine is now ready to rumble.



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__1.jpeg

"There she goes. Finally kicking in." Dave remarked.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__2.jpeg



Dave keeps Czarina's advice to heart, strictly keeping the engine beyond the 6000 rpm range. Because of that, he was able to keep up with the rest.


He is now putting pressure on even the thoroughbreds in the track, such as a Porsche 911 GT3.



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__3.jpeg



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__4.jpeg



Which paid off, with the 997's driver entering too fast on the Corkscrew.


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"You're doing great! Keep pressuring those Porsches!" Czarina exclaimed.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__6.jpeg



The GT3 RS manages to escape, however, as the GTO once again lagged on the corner exit.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__7.jpeg


"Yeah, yeah, you'd better run." Dave said.



The GTO's 4WD more than makes up for the turbo lag. It provides unparalleled traction which make it easier for him to storm through the pack.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__8.jpeg



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__9.jpeg



Even making short work on these so-called "Sausage Kerbs", which some drivers only dare to trifle with.



He then overtakes another GT3 Cup, driven by Owen Hatch who runs the Team Storm.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__10.jpeg



"Lempel... Technologies? Hang on a minute..." Owen wondered as he sees the bright red Mitsubishi taking his place away from him.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__11.jpeg



After a plethora of laps, the 3000GT runs comfortably despite the laggy engine. The only pit stop procedures it has to do are refuelling and tire changes.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__12.jpeg





"Only three racers left! See, I told you can move up!" Czarina said.


Meanwhile, Czarina leaves the communications to one of the crew members, as she excuses herself to go to the bathroom.


As she walks past the team trailers among the various pit crew talking about themselves, one particular conversation does stand out:



"Lempel Technologies? Didn't they go bust or something?"

"Well yeah, but I am surprised the owner is trying to make a comeback."

"I guess he has a new backer. Someone must be funding him. It's a good thing."


She pauses her stroll to the bathroom upon hearing that conversation, attempting to eavesdrop by pretending to look at her phone while standing on the proximity.


"I heard he is under the payroll of Czarina Marsh. Well, she's rich. Damn he's a lucky guy."

"Endless pool of money. How we wish we have that."

"No thanks. Not from a daughter of a criminal on the run."

"Wait, for real?"



Czarina breathes out a sigh and resumes her walk to the bathroom. She is hounded by questions every single day regarding her father's whereabouts, in which she can either ignore or give a professional response on the matter.



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__13.jpeg



Back in the race, Dave continues to put on the heat.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__14.jpeg



"4-rotor Mazda3? Cute, but I am faster." Dave said proudly, leaving the loud-pitched Mazda hatchback only wailing for retribution.


However, all that hard work comes with the price of tire wear. His aggression cost him the front tires. The 3000GT platform is based on a front-wheel drive design, hence making its weight distribution push all the way to the nose.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__15.jpeg



He feels the wheel starting to violently shake on cornering, leading the car to understeer.


"My tires are about to die. Gotta make it to the goal." Dave said.



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__16.jpeg



"Hang on!"



WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__17.jpeg



Dave soldiers on, and manages to take the checkered flag.


This calls for a celebration, a win on the maiden event of the championship.


Czarina runs to the podium, and hugs her boyfriend along with giving each other a kiss.


"I told you. You can do this." Czarina said.



"You always know what to say." Dave said.





Pit Garage__1.jpeg



Upon returning to the pit garage, Dave gets a towel and wipes his head thoroughly. He then takes a glance on the car.


"I think we need to replace this. Look, I like running this kind of machinery, but I can no longer deny that it's uncompetitive." Dave commented.


"I can find a replacement. I have contacts who can provide a new car lickety-split." Czarina said.


"You sure about this? I mean, you have the lion's share on spending." Dave asked.


"We will do this together, right? We have goals. We have dreams to fulfill. You do your part, and I will do mine. Plain and simple." Czarina replied.




End of Page 1
 
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Page 2: Zora's Vision (Part 1)



Location: Dave's home, Los Angeles, California
Time: 9 pm




After the race, the pair continued to celebrate. This is not the typical big party celebration after a race victory. They decided to keep it simple.
They ordered take out food - from pizza to Chinese fried rice boxes - which is actually Czarina's idea considering her affluence.

Once they all placed the meals on the kitchen table, Dave gets two bottles of Corona, passing one to Czarina.


"I seriously love their General Tsao's Chicken. I used to sneak it in during midnight when I just started out on driving." Czarina said.

"You are always the rebellious type. While everyone else thinks you're a princess." Dave commented.

"Oh please, you know very well the current dynamic between my father and I." Czarina snarkily said.

"But still, you have to keep in touch. You still have a dad." Dave said.

The celebratory atmosphere quickly dissipated upon mention of that statement. To bring the mood back up, Czarina opens a box of pepperoni pizza, and takes a large slice equivalent to three normal slices.

"Hey, don't hog all the pepperoni! Fine, I'll take the General Tsao's!" Dave jokingly said.

"I'm starving!" Czarina said, while laughing.

After that hearty dinner, which left no unfinished food (a first for their usual dining escapades), Czarina is ready to depart, wearing her light jacket.

She then sees Dave watching television.

"Dave, I am going." Czarina said.

But Dave didn't respond. His eyes are all focused on a movie he's watching.

"Dave?" Czarina called.

Dave turns around.

"Oh, sorry. I was hooked on this." Dave replied.

Czarina approaches him, and sits beside Dave on the long sofa.

"Are you okay?" Czarina asked.

Dave snivels. Czarina gets a glimpse of Dave's watery eyes.

"Oh. Nothing. I just remembered something from that scene." Dave said.

"What is it? I'm all ears." Czarina asked.

"Well, today is dad's birthday. He loved this movie, and he used to watch it every birthday, because that was the film he watched in the cinema where he first met mom. It was very special. Until now, the culprit is still haven't caught. Walking free, having everything I worked so hard for. Dad only got to see the fruit of his efforts for a few days, until he was hit by a semi." Dave narrated.

"Hush. You don't have to relive that moment. You've been telling me that over and over." Czarina said.

"The pain still sears, Czarina. It's not easy to just throw that aside." Dave said.

"Look. We can bring Lempel Technologies back on its feet. You're not alone in this fight. Yes, pain is part of the process, but don't let that trip you. I'll find that culprit, if you want." Czarina said.

Dave shakes his head.


"No... no... you have too much on your plate. I can't let you get involved." Dave said.

"No. Ride or die. We made that oath, remember?" Czarina asked.

Dave nods. Czarina rubs his back.

"I know. Things will get worse before they get better. But rest assured, I AM HERE." Czarina said.

The pair smiled at each other. Then they head out to the front porch, on to Czarina's C2 Corvette.


"Sleep well. We won the first round. It's a huge first step." Czarina said.

The pair hug and kiss each other. Then Czarina rides in her car. The Corvette breathes into life and departs.


Dave walks back inside his home, locking the front door.


*****************************************************************************************************************************************
Location: Lempel Technologies, Los Angeles, California
Time: 4 pm, the next day


Dave is at his office, sitting behind the desk pouring all hours fiddling with the computer. Lots of tasks are at hand. Revitalizing his business takes on rocky path.

He had been rebuilding his customer database for months, with some of his loyal customers coming back to avail of his services, albeit at a much slower pace than it was on its peak.

He then hears Czarina's Corvette parking in front of the garage. Anticipating that loud rumbling V8 is a habit of sorts for him. Dave smiles.

Czarina marches to Dave's office, carrying two cups of coffee she ordered.

"Good news! But first, our usual macchiato." Czarina said, as she passes over the hot plastic coffee cup to Dave.

"Wow, at least Monday will end on a high note." Dave remarked.

"Our replacement car is ready to rumble. As a matter of fact, my contacts in the Corvette Racing Team are delivering it to Road Atlanta circuit as we speak." Czarina announced.

"Nice!" Dave said as he giggles.

"The second round won't be next week. It will be after that." Czarina said.

"Lemme guess, a C8? Well, Corvette racing team, so...." Dave said.

"You'll see when we get there." Czarina teasingly said.

"You're really bad at surprises." Dave teased.

"What else am I gonna say? I've left large bread crumbs." Czarina said.

Dave once again slips into his melancholy.

"Czarina... thanks. You've done too much." Dave said.

"Oh boy. Lighten up! That attitude will get you nowhere. Okay, as your way of thanking me, why not actually let me drive for the 2nd round?" Czarina said.

"Sure! That's in my head already. We are to take turns on being first drivers. You can also do the qualifying if you want. Well, time to make your friends proud too." Dave suggested.

"I have also finalized the schedule. We will head to Atlanta two days before the race. Inspect the car, then qualifying on Saturday, race day on Sunday." Czarina said.

"Then third round is in Tokyo, Japan." Dave added.

"All settled then! Oh, gotta slurp." Czarina said, then proceeds to take a sip from the coffee.



*****************************************************************************************************************************************
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Time: 9 pm, two weeks later



As scheduled, the pair heads over to the rented garage where the car is being stashed. The location is rather unkempt.

"They could have chosen a better place to stash this." Czarina commented.

Czarina's agent arrives as well.

"Sorry for the inconvenience, but the other garages were spoken for by the other teams." the agent said.


Dave runs over to their new steed - a C8 Corvette modified for the World Touring Car championship regulations.



Granville Island, Vancouver_.jpeg


"Maybe you're forgetting I am part of the Corvette Racing team. I get first dibs on their prototype racing cars before they get sold to clients." Czarina replied.

"This is awesome. Much better than the Mitsubishi." Dave remarked.

"Engine power is at 500 horsepower, but the parts are definitely made for endurance racing in mind. Close-ratio gears, FIA-approved roll cage, and of course maintenance will be taken care of the Corvette Racing Team." Czarina said.


"Should be easier to take on Porsches this time. They are way too dominant." Dave said.


"Time to rest up. We need all the energy we can get for tomorrow's qualifying." Czarina commanded.




*****************************************************************************************************************************************
Location: Michelin Road Atlanta
Time: 9 am, the next day



Qualifying for the second round of the World Touring Car Championship is in full swing. Clear skies are adding to the festive atmosphere. Racing fans are free to view the cars on the paddock.



Paddock_.jpeg


The C8 attracted more fans as they were surprised by the sudden change. Czarina and Dave entertain a few questions from the media as well.



The display is short-lived, however, as all teams are now called for a brief orientation and then qualifying begins.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta _.jpeg


There are, of course, strong contenders for the championship, such as this R34 GT-R by Schneider Racing in Germany. It has divided opinion among enthusiasts as it is swapped with a V8 engine. But it is no ordinary V8 either, as it is directly sourced from Nismo as a spare VRH engine with twin turbos.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __1.jpeg


Team Storm has to step up their game as well. Owen Hatch leaves no quarter, taking full advantage of the Porsche 911's capabilities.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __2.jpeg



JUN Auto is having a decent run with their Synergy BRZ as a way to promote their project V8 engine - which is basically two Hayabusa engines linked together with a turbocharger to add extra grunt.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __3.jpeg



Then there is Kiehl Muller, who once again returns to Blitzgelb after Kevin Kern enacts his plans for retribution.


"That woman, Czarina... she's been more active these days. What is she up to, reviving the defunct Lempel Technologies?" Kiehl asked himself as he tackles on the series of blind corners the track is notorious for.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __4.jpeg


And finally... Czarina. She now takes on the task of qualifying the team. She has a tall order.


"C8 Corvette. Not everyone welcomes it. But they will adapt soon." Czarina commented, in regards to the mid-engined layout of the car which is a departure from a long-standing tradition of Corvettes having the motor at the front end.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __5.jpeg



Indeed, the decision by GM to make the eighth generation Corvette wasn't taken lightly. But the concept itself is not entirely new. Zora Arkus-Duntov have toyed around with the prospect of a mid-engined Corvette in the 70s, with the intention of making the car competitive against European thoroughbreds such as Porsche and Ferrari, but GM has rejected the idea more than once.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __6.jpeg


And now, Zora's vision has finally come into fruition. The C8 is leaps ahead of other generations when it comes to overall performance. Czarina seems to enjoy it.


"A bit understeery for me, but that's fine. I need stability. A regular C8 is lairy, to be honest." Czarina commenting on the handling of the race-prepped C8.



After two hours of qualifying, the leaderboard finally makes it appearance. The grid will now be composed as follows:


Round2qualify.jpg




"3rd place! Awesome work, Czarina." Dave said.


"Blitzgelb on pole. But no matter. I can finally trifle with that Kiehl Muller guy." Czarina commented.


"Tomorrow's gonna be rough. But we can do it... right?" Dave asked.


"Of course, sweetie." Czarina said, then proceeds to kiss Dave.




*****************************************************************************************************************************************


The next day is the race proper. Once again, the skies cooperated and there is zero chance of showers. The cars now line up, and a rolling start procedure is decided out of consideration for rear wheel driven cars.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __7.jpeg




And the race finally takes off. Czarina is already aware of the pressure the Porsches behind her.



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But of course, her focus is at the front and getting at the front. Nothing else.


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"I'm not just the FIA president's daughter. I am not a mere spoiled princess. I am way past that." Czarina said confidently.



Meanwhile, Dave excuses himself and proceeds at the back of the pit garage. He then takes out a lighter and a stick of cigarette. He lights up the stick and takes a puff.



"The wheels have started to turn." Dave said, followed by an impish smile.





End of Page 2
 
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Page 3 - Zora's Vision (Part 2)


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The second round begins with Czarina placing third in qualifying. Her efforts paid off, at the very least, as she has only two opponents to deal with.


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Kiehl, taking command of the race, is aware that Czarina is at the helm.




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"I have no doubt you are skilled. But there is one thing looming behind you." Kiehl said.



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"You are the daughter of a fugitive. Daughter of a coward, even. All thanks to him, Kevin has gone through a dark path. And I won't stand for that." Kiehl said.


Exiting at the back straight, Kiehl buries his foot on the accelerator. The rear-engined layout provides excellent traction, enabling superior acceleration at the corner exits.




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But the C8 Corvette aims to be a true world-beating sports car, and it cannot afford to fall behind thoroughbreds that are priced twice or thrice as much.



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Meanwhile, Czarina is just as critical to Kiehl as is to her.


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"If I can remember, you were working with Kevin to bring my father behind bars. You are just as culpable as he is. You just don't understand him." Czarina said.


She would then go full throttle at the main straight, overtaking the Porsche.



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"And now I bet, you are thinking I am some sort of a criminal, enabling my father." she said.


However, at the first corner, the C8 understeers due to Czarina's aggression.



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"Shoot, I got in way too fast." Czarina said.

"Calm down. We haven't even reached the halfway point of the sprint." Kiehl said.


The mistake provided an opportunity for Kiehl to retake the lead.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __22.jpeg



"I respect that you love your family. But hiding a fugitive? I hope you sleep well at night knowing your father's questionable actions for decades." Kiehl said.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __21.jpeg




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __20.jpeg



Czarina locks on. What's on her front only matters.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __19.jpeg



The cries of the V8 engine roar, at the back straight, and the C8 drafts behind.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __18.jpeg



It seems that the switch to the mid-engined layout pays off more than commendable performance, despite the outcries of the enthusiasts who prefer sticking to the tradition, or "purists" as they call themselves.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __17.jpeg




The Corvette and the 911 are longtime rivals. Now that the C8 employs the layout similar to that of supercars, the gap between the two has tightened.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __16.jpeg




Meanwhile, as the laps go by, at the pit garage, Dave is strolling around looking at other pit crews busy at work. Perhaps he wants to pass some time.


However, he is then approached by a man, named Daniel Schneider, the head of the Schneider Racing team of Germany.


"I must say, I am impressed by your strategy, Dave." Daniel said.


As it turns out, Daniel was also a client of Dave's company, before it went bust.


"The C8 is a beast. And Czarina proves it out there." Dave responded.

"Well, what's next? I am curious... as your client, that is." Daniel asked.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __15.jpeg

"The plan is already in motion. I have someone doing the "work". He is playing the part very well. Meanwhile, I do the driving and all the tech stuff." Dave replied.


"Well, I can also provide some assistance. I have to thank you in one way or another. You revived my team, and I can revive your business. We are two men braving through loss after all." Daniel said.


"Perfect. You are mostly in Europe, am I right? Then, there is something you can do for me. I'll send you the details via the email." Dave said.
Back in the action, Czarina does not cease on putting on the pressure.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __14.jpeg




Czarina attempts to brake late approaching the chicane in order to take the lead.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __13.jpeg




However, this backfired. The 911's rear-engined placement also allows for superior braking.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __12.jpeg


The C8 overshoots, allowing Kiehl to take back the lead once more.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __11.jpeg



"Okay, that didn't work." Czarina remarked.




Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __10.jpeg
Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __9.jpeg


As race lingers on, Czarina notices that the 911 is starting to wander about in the turns.


"I have driven a 911 once. They are capable, but finicky. And once they get into trouble, it's hard for them to bounce back." she remarked.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __8.jpeg



"And I am going to show, that I mean business. I am not some spoiled brat of the FIA President." Czarina said.





Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __7.jpeg



Czarina lets the C8 join into the draft, granting the car less wind resistance therefore increasing speed.


Upon reaching the chicane, the 911 applies the brakes. However, instead of doing it much later previously, all it took for Czarina is a literal blink of an eye before she can slow down. That moment was the deciding factor.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __6.jpeg



And she manages to squeeze into the inside just as the Porsche is about to turn in.


"What the?!" Kiehl exclaimed.


"You're not the only one having gimmicks." Czarina said.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __5.jpeg



Dave radios in.


"Nice! I know you want to win, but it's also important to keep calm. Cool heads prevail." Dave said.


"I know. But I have a tougher job proving myself. Not because I'm a woman, but because of the shadow my father created." Czarina replied.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __4.jpeg



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __3.jpeg



"I don't care what other people would label me. I will cut through my path. I'm vastly different from my father." she added.


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __2.jpeg




The C8 keeps a solid lead, expanding its gap even further. Zora's vision of the Corvette has finally been realized.



Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta __1.jpeg





Victory once again showers Lempel Technologies. Will the streak continue?


Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta _.jpeg








End of Page 3
 
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Page 4 - Siphon


Location: Monterey, California
Time: 6 pm, two days later



After that satisfying victory from the second round, Czarina travels to Monterey in California. It's a long drive from her home in Los Angeles.




17 Mile Drive_.jpeg



But all that will be worth it, since she will be seeing her mother, named Anita. Anita and Maximilian have separated when Czarina was 10. And while Czarina did have moments of happiness growing up only with her father, she definitely yearned for Anita's presence; so much so that Maximilian would arrange for her chauffeur to take her to Monterey every month during her teenage years.

Though of course, those instances had become more frequent, when she got her driver's license.



Cannery Row_.jpeg


She has arrived at Monterey in the evening, and the town seems peaceful, with only her C2 making those rumbling engine noises.




Few minutes later, she has finally arrived at Anita's home. Her mother would open the electronic garage door to let her daughter's car inside. Upon alighting from the vehicle, Czarina would greet her mother with a hug.


M Residence_.jpeg




"Oh Czarina, my beautiful queen..." Anita said.

"Mom, how's it going here?" Czarina asked.


"I've got new neighbors, that Czech couple settling down here for good. And I've been learning about their culture too. Maybe we should go to Czechoslovakia.... oh wait, Czechia. New name, I also learned." Anita replied.


"Yeah, why not. I mean, I've been to Europe tons of times and yet I haven't visited that country." Czarina said.


"Oh, I prepared something for dinner too! Let's come inside."


The pair headed to the kitchen, and Czarina is greeted with a sight of a roasted chicken meal, her favorite.



"Of course, the usual..." Czarina said happily.


"The moment you told me about your visit, I had to rush to the grocery." Anita said.


Czarina then takes her plate, picks up the carving knife to cut a piece of the chicken.


"I have also heard about your victories lately. Aren't you helping out Dave? Oh, how is he, by the way?" Anita asked, while she helping herself with some mashed potatoes.


"He's working extra hard to get his company back on track. Plus of course, the racing would be an excellent opportunity to grab clients. He's been doing the lion's share of the job, which I told him repeatedly that I can always contribute.

As we speak, he's taking care of the logistics for the next round. Round 3 will be in Tokyo, four weeks from now." Czarina answered.


"I like a man who is very dedicated to work, yet still maintains his humility. You must be doing a good job too. Don't let him dominate you." Anita said.


Czarina giggles.

"Don't worry, he definitely knows what he can and can't do." Czarina said.


"I wish your father's the same." Anita said. Then Czarina would briefly look down and then look back at her mother.


"I know I have been asking this a lot, but can't you at least speak with him?" Czarina asked.


"With a man who has nothing to lose? And now where is he?" Anita asked back.


"Last time I heard from him, he's in the Bahamas. We got word that the Interpol is closing in on him in L.A. so he packed up." Czarina replied.


Anita would then drag her seat closer to her daughter, and then holds her hand. With a concerned look, she would then impose another question.


"Do you think you can keep hold of this family for long? Aren't you tired of sheltering him from the world who wants answers from him?" Anita asked.


Czarina takes a deep breath, and looks up at the ceiling.


"Honestly? I do not know. I love Dad, but.... I can't fathom seeing him being beaten by the world. I just want us three to be together, even for just one Christmas. A dinner would do, that's it." Czarina replied.


Anita rubs her daughter's back, and caresses her hair as well.


"You don't have to be involved in the mess he made. He chose to run away. The only thing keeping him afloat is his pride. What you should focus on, is your future. Don't let that fleet away. You have to accept the fact that there are things that you can no longer fix. We have to move forward.



Let's not talk about this anymore. The food is getting cold." Anita said.




*****************************************************************************************************************************************


Location: Gottlieb Electric, Stuttgart, Germany
Time: 11 am, the next day





It's the usual busy day at Gottlieb Electric headquarters. Employees are making calls left and right. Kevin is at his office, sorting out the meeting schedules. He is also about to leave, as he is invited to a thesis defense event in a nearby university as one of the panel adjudicators.

Kevin then sees Gerhard heading out of the office, and then stands up.


"Mr. Gottlieb! I am about to leave, but aren't you scheduled for a meeting at 11:30?" Kevin asked.


"Cancel that. I have a more important matter to attend, Mr. Kern." Gerhard said.


"Got it, sir. But would you be back by 1 pm?" Kevin asked.


"Definitely. Oh, and..." Gerhard said.


Gerhard then proceeds to fix Kevin's tie. The opportunity is ripe, the urge is there, a brief silence occurs, as if the father is more than eager to confess, but of course.... Gerhard still has to keep appearances, as Uwe Gottlieb.


"Make sure you look the best everyday. You have to show power." Gerhard said.


Kevin smiles.

"Uh, thanks, sir. Ummmm... I must be going too. I'll just sort out the schedules and I'll be leaving shortly." Kevin said.



Kevin runs back to his office to finish the remaining work. Gerhard then goes to the basement, and right at the doorstep is his Porsche Vision Gran Turismo Spyder.


National Stadium_.jpeg


He then puts on his helmet with a visor to protect his face from the elements. The car rapidly sets off.


And then Gerhard would swipe the touchscreen, and calls a certain person.



"It is time. Initiate the procedure. I am on my way..." Gerhard ordered.



*****************************************************************************************************************************************


Location: Monterey, California, United States
Time: 12 pm, the next day




Czarina prepares lunch for her mother, as it would be her turn to treat her after a rather gloomy dinner the other night.



As she is sauteeing the food in the pan, her phone rings. She picks it up.


"Hello?" Czarina answered.


"Ma'am, we have a huge problem in our hands." said Jesko Artemis , a representative from the Atkinson Motor Technology in Europe. Czarina is the largest stakeholder of the company, and as well as the company being the primary source of parts for Dave's racing cars, as well as Czarina's.


"What's the problem?" Czarina asked.


"Someone hacked in our servers, and all... I mean, everything... was stolen. Our projects, the part codes, customer database, finances... all of it. What's worse, our main warehouse was ransacked. It was empty. Camera footage was even stolen. We have a huge log of part deliveries all over the world, and yet we don't have anything to deliver." Jesko delivered the news a calm manner.


Czarina's eyes widened.


"What?! Dave and I are competing in the World Touring Car Championship! We can't afford to lose those spare parts! Any idea who's behind this?!" Czarina asked in an exasperating tone.


"The police are currently investigating. Rest assured, we will update you frequently. We honestly do not know what we can say to our other stakeholders and clients." Jesko said.


Czarina scratches her hair.


"Oh boy. Look, let me know if I can help you out with the investigation. I'm not just going to sit around. Thank you." Czarina said, and then proceeds to end the call.



She then breathes a heavy sigh. Anita sees her daughter clearly in distraught.



"What's the matter?" Anita asked.


"Big problem, mom. I can't bore you with the details, but to keep it short, we have a problem with our parts supplier." Czarina replied. Then once again, she takes out her phone and calls Dave.



"Hello? Dave, we have a huge problem. Listen to me." Czarina said, and then she explains the huge predicament.



*****************************************************************************************************************************************


Location: Tokyo, Japan
Time: 10 am, 4 weeks later




Four weeks have passed, and yet none has been found responsible for the theft at Atkinson Motor Technology. For weeks, the news has made all over the motoring news websites and related social media accounts.


The third round takes place at the Tokyo Expressway. For two days, the traffic will be re-routed as part of the preparations.



Czarina is at a dilemma, for obvious reasons. Dave, however, just keeps himself calm, not letting the predicament take over their performance.


"Czarina, now's not the time. I am just as stressed as you are, but we have a race to win tomorrow. We have to qualify too."


"I know, but the case has progressed to... nothing. That's what bothers me. Whoever did this is clearly a pro. It's all too clean." Czarina said.


"Let the authorities do their job, okay? I don't want us to overthink." Dave said.


At the paddock, Dave notices a Subaru WRX STi (VA) sporting a livery representing the colors and symbols of the Philippine flag.


Tokyo Qualifying.jpeg



He sees a group of men, speaking a foreign language - the Tagalog dialect of Filipino - gathering around the Subaru and discussing amongst themselves.


"New faces, huh? And from the Philippines? The racing world is truly an interesting place." Dave remarked.


Of course, one of them is familiar to Czarina - Isaiah Geronimo - who used to race for Team Formel, now representing his own country with the newly-formed team named "Sagisag".




Team Lempel got to work. Morale has to be kept up, despite the huge setback. Qualifying begins in a matter of hours.





The session begins. Team Sagisag sets off without incident.


Tokyo Qualifying 1.jpeg



The STi seems to struggle at the main straight.



"Once it reaches two hundred ninety kilometers per hour, it's running out of breath. Could be because of the downforce." Isaiah remarked.




Tokyo Qualifying 2.jpeg


The speedometer would read 300 kilometers per hour, but the bumps on the road would reduce the speed slightly and go back up.


Tokyo Qualifying 3.jpeg


The STi's four wheel drive system ensures copious amounts of traction, all thanks to its decades long experience in rallying.

Tokyo Qualifying 4.jpeg



"My opponents would easily hit 300 km/h. But that won't matter anyway..." Isaiah said.


Tokyo Qualifying 5.jpeg



"I also watched the weather reports. There is a 70% chance of rain tomorrow. Well, it rained yesterday when we arrived." Isaiah added.



Meanwhile, as Dave sets off to qualify, Czarina also notices a new racing team, sporting an AMG GT S. But the faces are familiar this time. She sees Takanori, Takuma, and Kevin.

Tokyo Qualifying 6.jpeg





Tokyo Qualifying 7.jpeg





Tokyo Qualifying 8.jpeg





She notices something from her archnemesis, however.


"He looks... pale. But look at that smile. Could he be...?" Czarina pondered to herself. But accusations or speculations simply won't fly.

She also sees the new team logo, with the word "Neo" in it.


Kevin would then get in the car and drive off the pit lane.






Tokyo Qualifying 9.jpeg



"I don't care if we started late in this championship in our first stint. We simply have to make our presence known; and that our dreams are still... alive." Kevin said.




Tokyo Qualifying 10.jpeg





While the AMG GT S shows impressive speed, it is evident that the setup has yet to be finalized. They had rushed to finish its initial setting before this race after all. The car would sometimes wallow about or even oversteer in the bends, but Kevin's skills cover them up.




Tokyo Qualifying 11.jpeg



"The front end doesn't respond well. Haste does indeed make waste." Kevin commented regarding on the car's setup.






Tokyo Qualifying 13.jpeg



However, Kevin seems to be unbothered by this.



"We are off to a good start. Now that Czarina is here, it is the perfect opportunity to show to her...






....that I mean business. Today is the day that she will start to crumble." Kevin said, with a grin on his face.










End of Page 4
 
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Page 5: Underhand


Location: Keio Plaza Hotel, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Time: 8 pm


The qualifying ended with Lempel Technologies Team taking the pole position for tomorrow's race. However, it isn't enough for Czarina to sweep away her woes.

She is at her desk, poring over the laptop for more than hour, checking the latest developments of the heist that happened in Atkinson Motor Technology.

Meanwhile, Dave is just exiting from the elevator, coming from a convenience store having bought cans of tea and coffee. After all, they are to stay in Japan for weeks since the 4th round also takes place in the country, in the Fuji Speedway.


Upon entering the suite, Dave takes off his jacket and places the refreshments on the table. He then sits down on the sofa, takes off his shoes and opens the television.


"Hey, staring too much at that laptop will damage your vision." Dave said.


"I just can't let this go. Surely you have felt what I am feeling right now, right?" Czarina said.

Dave stands up and walks closer to his girlfriend.

"Look, I know this is devastating, but moping around won't help bring back what was lost. We have to focus. And besides, I have also gotten wind that the spare parts we ordered actually arrived. Though of course I am also looking for other suppliers. Trust in the process. The authorities will catch the culprit for sure. Sooner or later." Dave explained.


"I know... I know. But I also feel bad for other investors and suppliers who rely on them. Millions of dollars lost. Perhaps even more than a billion. I put in there over a million and it actually grew. Now... it's... poof." Czarina said.


"Don't lose sleep on that, okay? We have a race tomorrow. Sure, you will be in the pit garage, but I need an effective instructor." Dave said.


Then they hear a rumble from the outside, a thunder roar. Dave then gets closer to the window, and notices droplets of water.


"The weather forecast doesn't lie. It's going to rain. Glad we have intermediate and wets ready." Dave said.


Czarina then closes her laptop and takes a deep sigh. She then faces her partner.


"I guess you're right. Being paranoid won't bring them back." Czarina said as she stands up and heads over to the bathroom for a shower.

Dave smiles, and then suddenly he feels his phone vibrating from his pocket. He glances at it and quickly puts it back inside.

He then shouts, "Czarina, I will be heading out again. I'll take the umbrella!"

"Okay!" she replied.





He then puts back his jacket and takes the hotel umbrella. Upon heading outside, he crosses the street, and sees a man in a brown trench coat also holding an umbrella. He follows the man, and is eventually led to a steak house. The man then folds the umbrella, who turns out to be none other than Gerhard Kern.


"Good evening. Pardon my tardiness." Gerhard said.

"No problem. Shall we order?" Dave asked.

The men then order their meal sets, and as they wait, Gerhard pours some tea on his cup.


"So, the deed is done. How did she react?" Gerhard asked.

"Devastated. Just the same way I felt when everything was taken from me." Dave replied.

"Vengeance is indeed a very sinister act, no matter how well intent you are." Gerhard said.

"You are living a double life. I can't say I find that easy." Dave commented.

"You are brave and bold. You took the "eye for an eye" approach." Gerhard said.

"I honestly feel bad for Czarina. Unfortunate for her to be the daughter of one Maximilian Marsh." Dave said.

"Cast aside your emotions if I were you. You will end up giving everything away." Gerhard said.

"I'll keep that in mind. I still won't forget how that man took away everything from me, just because he can't have it." Dave said.
Their conversation continues as the chef arrives with their meat and cook right in front of them. They are at a teppanyaki table after all.

"Maximilian wants everything under his control, and if he can't have it, no one will. That's how a man with a bruised ego is capable of. Look at me. Everything was taken away too. A happy family. And you, a wonderful enterprise and perhaps, a future with Czarina.

But do not forget one thing. You can easily get lost in the forest of revenge. You'll end up stepping on something you shouldn't.

Maximilian's revenge is taking everything away because he can't have something with hard work. He can't stand.... struggle. Because that is one thing he will never understand. Him being the FIA President is his way of telling the world that he did it, and that he had to play dirty because he can't fight fair. He is still an immature, spoiled brat of Maximus.

Hate spawns even more hate. That's the unending cycle we must accept." Gerhard said.


Dave then looks at the chef's cooking performance, and then he grins.





************************************************************************************************************

Location: Tokyo Expressway East
Time: 10 am, the next day



The showers persisted throughout the night, and though they paused at dawn, they quickly made a return in the late morning. It is as if they want to be part of the action.

Czarina makes a brief orientation before the race starts. She asks the crew to prepare spare intermediate and wet tires. Wet tires are equipped on the Corvette as well.

"Everyone, we may be experiencing issues with our parts supply, but let us all pitch in and make this race count!" Czarina exclaimed.



Czarina puts her headset on, and Dave gets in the car.


All the racers were then assembled and performed a one warm-up lap. Dave notices some puddles on the way.


"Those puddles are bad news." Dave said.


As they return to the main straight, in a tunnel, the green flag is lit. The race begins with a the thunderous roars echoing throughout.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise_.jpeg



Starting on pole is one thing, but defending your position is another. The other two cars quickly latch on to the Corvette's draft.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__1.jpeg



Czarina then begins her command on the communication.


"Be careful, that all-Filipino team is playing for keeps." Czarina said.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__2.jpeg


The cars exit the tunnel, greeted by the full force of the precipitation. The 997 GT3 Cup of the Brumos team and the WRX STi of Team Sagisag now go side-by-side with the C8.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__3.jpeg



Dave looks left and right, already feeling the immense pressure at the very beginning of the battle.

The 997 ended up taking the first corner ahead. Dave has no choice but to back off, in order not to cause a commotion considering the road surface condition.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__4.jpeg




Aside from that, of course, the Subaru's 4WD system makes easy work on the wet surface.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__5.jpeg



The STi makes a mincemeat out of the C8, as it gracefully takes the inside lane for an overtake.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__6.jpeg


"Nuts. Four wheel drives are cheats!" Dave exclaimed.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__7.jpeg



Hearing that expletive, Czarina responds.


"It is what it is. The rules allow it. Also, didn't we start on a four-wheel drive too?" she said.


"Oh yeah... right." Dave said.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__8.jpeg



And just like that, the STi steals the glory. It may seem that the rain is on its side, but....



"I don't know if I made the right decision to make it rear-biased." Isaiah said.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__9.jpeg



Isaiah remarks on the rear-biased four wheel drive setting of the STi, having believed that it will grant him better turning ability.


But that setback is nothing compared to his rear-wheel driven opponents. The STi merely blasts away like a bullet out of the hairpin.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__10.jpeg



"Wow, is that thing fair?" Dave asks sarcastically.


"Relax, you have a better top end. You can catch him." Czarina replied.


While her statement is true, their difference of speed is still minimal. The C8 can only inch closer, but the Porsche behind him clearly shows no sign of giving up, either.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__11.jpeg



"I'm going 190 miles per hour, and I still can't catch that Subaru." Dave said.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__12.jpeg



Dave manages to defend his position on the first corner.


However, the Subaru's 4WD system clearly shows its superiority.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__13.jpeg



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__14.jpeg



"You told me to calm down last night, and now you should too. The rain will stop one way or another." Czarina said.


The laps go by, with the rain still showing no sign of ceasing. Thankfully, no incident took place so far.




Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__15.jpeg



The only way for Dave to close in is at the main straight, for which the C8 has a speed advantage.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__16.jpeg



"I gotta close in on him on this lap if I were to draft on him here later. But how?" Dave pondered.


"If I push down the throttle earlier, I would end up spinning. But if I am too careful, he'll leave me behind." he added.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__17.jpeg




Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__18.jpeg



He then notices that droplets on windshield are disappearing, only a few drops would fall. The rain has stopped.



"Dave, enter the pit lane and switch to Intermediates!" Czarina ordered.


However, he sees the STi soldiering on.


"Are you sure?" he asked.


"The road is about to get dry. Intermediates fare better." she replied.


"Roger that." Dave said.



He complies to her instructions and slows down to enter the pits.

Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__19.jpeg




The pit crew get on to work, switching to the recommended tires while also refilling the fuel tank. The rest of the cars do the same.




Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__20.jpeg




After the replenish, the cars head off, ready to rumble.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__21.jpeg




Now that tarmac is starting to dry itself, Dave feels better turning ability from the C8.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__22.jpeg



"She's right. I can tackle the turns faster than before with these tires." Dave commented.




Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__23.jpeg



Finally, the Subaru enters the pits, Czarina notices it and is quick to turn her communications on.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__24.jpeg



"The Subaru makes a pit stop. Now's your chance!" Czarina said.


"That's one good news I'd love to hear!" Dave replied.


As the C8 blasts down the tunnel at full speed, Dave now sees a speck of the STi coming out of the pit lane.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__25.jpeg



"I got you now, fam." Dave said.


The C8 finally takes back its lead. Dave's efforts pay off.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__26.jpeg



But the time spent by the STi on pits is short enough to still get out, enough to increase its momentum. Hence it only fell back just two positions behind.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__27.jpeg



Once again, it shows the benefits of four driven wheels, even if the surface is about to get damp.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__28.jpeg



Dave's time to relax cuts short, with Isaiah putting the pressure.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__29.jpeg



"Here he goes again. I'm actually starting to miss the Mitsubishi and four wheel drive..." Dave lamented.





End of Page 5
 
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Page 6 - Sprint


The surface dries up, providing Dave the opportunity to snatch another victory, but of course Isaiah wouldn't let up. After all, one must debut on a good stride.

Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise_.jpeg



The STi retakes the lead shortly after its pit stop.





Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__1.jpeg



"Great, back to square one." Dave said.


And after some more laps, the gap widens. In addition, the Intermediate tires are not as durable as full on slicks.

Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__2.jpeg



"Czar! I will box. Change to slicks." Dave said.


"Copy." replied Czarina.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__3.jpeg



As the C8 enters the pit lane, the STi soldiers on yet again.


"We clearly have to work on this tire wear issue." Dave said.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__4.jpeg



After that brief stop, Dave gets more aggressive each and every turn, ignoring the pressure of the two 911s closely behind.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__5.jpeg



The STi once again enters the pit lane. The surface is dry enough to safely use slicks after all.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__6.jpeg




"Got him on my sights" Dave said.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__7.jpeg



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__8.jpeg



However, it is obvious which car has superior dynamics. Modern 4WD cars can take the corners as fast as rear-wheel driven ones without much consequences.



Seeing that the STi builds up the gap once more, Dave can only remark.


"Wow, that Subaru's handling makes my 3000GT look like it's having arthritis." he said.


But then, at the final hairpin, Dave was too aggressive that it sent the C8 into understeer, making its slick tires touch the wet parts of the road.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__9.jpeg



"TURN! TURN! TURN, DAMMIT!" he exclaimed.


This provided an opportunity for Kiehl to take the 2nd place.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__10.jpeg




While managing to safely get out of that predicament, Dave can only shake his head in disbelief.


Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__11.jpeg



"Un... believable." he said.



"Keep a cool head, Dave. Lots of chances still at the final lap. Think positive." Czarina said.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__12.jpeg





Dave manages to retake his 2nd position.



Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__13.jpeg



But clearly it is too late for a win. The STi's performance shocked many, considering that it has the lowest top speed among all the cars on that main straight coupled with the fact that it was prepped in haste in the Philippines.




Tokyo Expressway - East Clockwise__14.jpeg



Czarina sees the Philippine team celebrating their victory on their debut race, even though they aren't eligible for points since they came in late. Their only purpose is to showcase their abilities in hopes to attract more sponsors.



"All right, race is over. Great job, everyone!" she said.


Suddenly, her phone rings, prompting her to pick it up. Upon seeing the screen, it was from someone named "Wanda". Wanda is her mother's next door Czech neighbor.



"Oh hello. Ms. Wanda? What makes you call at this hour? Isn't it midnight over there?" Czarina said.



"I called in to let you know that your mother is missing!" Wanda exclaimed, panting and exasperated.


"Hold on, what did you just say? Mom is missing?!" Czarina inquires once more.


"Yes, I just wanted to give something to her this evening, but as I kept on knocking, she wouldn't respond. I looked around the house and all the lights are off. I was so worried that I called 911 and let them know. They went inside and found no trace of her. I don't know what to do, and now I decided to call you to let you know." Wanda replied.


"Okay, thank you. You did the right thing. I will be there. I will catch the next flight to LA. Thank you for letting me know. My team will handle the rest." Czarina said.


As she sees Dave approaching her, they briefly hug, but Czarina quickly lets go.


"What's wrong?" Dave asked.


She then walks away hurriedly.


"I have to go back to LA. The team will know what to do. Carlos and John will take charge." she replied.


"What? Why?!" Dave asked.


"My mother is missing and I will go home to find her. You can go on without me." she replied.


"Huh?! Wait!" Dave said.



"Just go on without me! You can handle this. I trust you on this. Once I'm done there, I will join you again." she said.


Dave can only scratch his head, as he sees his girlfriend frantically making her way to the exit.




End of Page 6
 
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Page 7 - Clutch



Location: Los Angeles, California
Time: 7 pm, the next day



With her anxiety running high, Czarina booked for the next available flight to Los Angeles. She gives additional instructions to Dave while waiting to board.


She can barely even rest her eyes during the long flight to Los Angeles. She can only glance at the thick clouds through the window. Her mother means everything to her, and the only family she has considering that her father, Maximilian, is getting more distant than ever now that he is on Interpol's Red Notice - the highest level of manhunt in which member countries are authorized to use whatever means necessary to find, capture, and even neutralize the criminal.


Several hours later, she makes haste to the luggage claim area and swiped her luggage the moment she sees it come out. A silver car awaits outside, driven by her personal assistant - Janella.

Janella puts Czarina's luggage at the trunk while Czarina gets in the car. The car then exits LAX.


"Thank you for coming by on short notice. This is an emergency. Please drop me off at home, ASAP." Czarina commanded.

"Yes ma'am." Janella responded.


With surprisingly little traffic getting in their way, Czarina finally makes it home. She just shoves in her luggage in the living room, takes off her scarf and quickly reaches for the key fob of her Corvette C7 ZR1.


As she starts the engine, her phone suddenly rings. It's her mother. Wasting no time, she swipes the screen to the right to answer.


"Mom? Oh thank goodness you called! I came back here to look for you! Ms. Wanda told me you were missing! Are you okay? W-Where are you?" Czarina asked frantically.


"I was also calling you, you weren't answering. Perhaps you were on a flight? Listen, I am fine. I am in an apartment in Long Beach. The one I leased out years ago. Thankfully no one rents it out yet, so I decided to hide here." Anita replied as she peeks out through the curtains in a barely furnished room.


"Long Beach? Okay. I know that apartment you are talking about. But why? Why did you run away?" Czarina asked.


"I will explain when you arrive. You've got to hurry. I don't feel safe here either." Anita responded.


Czarina then shifts to first gear and accelerates the car out of the garage.


"Okay, once I arrive, I will give you a call. Once you hear your phone ring, get out and you'll see me across the street. Got it?" Czarina said.


"Okay. Please hurry." Anita said.

The call ends, and Anita immediately puts on her oversized poncho, then grabs a leather attache case, clutching it in her arms.


20 minutes later, Czarina arrives and parks right in front of the apartment.


East Seaside Way_.jpeg


Anita's phone rings, as planned. She now takes it as a sign to escape. She then sprints across and finally makes inside her daughter's car.


"Mom!" Czarina said as she hugs her mother.

"I am so worried about you. What happened? And what is that?" Czarina asked, as she notices the attache case.

"We have to move. I'll explain on the way." Anita said.

The pair then makes a quick getaway.


East 4th Street_.jpeg



"So, what's in that?" Czarina asked.


"A mysterious man just dropped it off in the house. At first, it didn't make sense to me as to why I got this. And then, when I inspected the contents, I couldn't believe what I saw. That is why I ran away." Anita replied.


"What's in it?" Czarina asked further.


However, before Anita could offer an explanation, someone is stalking...


East Seaside Way__1.jpeg



"I think we are being followed." Czarina said.


"No doubt it is one of your father's men." Anita said.


"Huh?" Czarina asked.


"I saw that gray Charger roaming around the moment I got in the apartment. It would leave, but then it came back again today doing the same thing until you arrived." Anita replied.


Czarina shifts down to second gear.


"Buckle up." Czarina said.


She then buries her right foot hard on the accelerator then quickly shifts up to third. The Charger gives pursuit.


Their pursuer tries to side swipe them.


Wharf Area_.jpeg



But given the Corvette's overall superior performance over the Charger, the attempt is futile. But then of course they are on public roads. Czarina exercises caution while trying to throw off the pursuer.



Grand Lower, Los Angeles_.jpeg



The traffic is an obstacle, negating the Corvette's advantage.

But it isn't what Czarina thinks at the moment. Their safety is top priority.




Figueroa Street_.jpeg



As the Corvette slides its way through an intersection, Anita is clinging on, literally, for her dear life.


"I don't remember you driving like this." Anita said in jest.


"Yeah, always follow the racing line. Sorry, mom." Czarina responded.




Ginza_.jpeg


Czarina would drift on various intersections and enter through streets with congested traffic in order to throw the Charger off.


Then Czarina attempts on a stunt...



... she drives straight on oncoming traffic, on a collision course with an oncoming pick up truck.


"Czarina? What are you doing?!" Anita asked.


Then at the last moment, she then veers off and evades the pick up truck with a drift, while the Charger's driver was too late to react and collides head on.


East 4th Street__1.jpeg




"Learned that from action movies." Czarina said, with a huge sigh of relief.


Anita would then laugh instead of the typical panicked, exasperated reaction seen in times of duress.



Returning to her usual composed self, Czarina then slows down.


"I know a place where we can lay low. Dave's garage." Czarina said.



They finally made it to one of Dave's garages. It's smaller, but it is still filled with customer cars with pending requests in each one.




GReddy Performance Products_.jpeg




Czarina would then lead her mother to Dave's office and only open the desk lamp. Anita places the leather attache case on the desk while she sits down in front, facing her daughter.


"As I was saying, this is why I ran away." Anita said.


She opens the case, taking out plenty of paperwork.

As it turns out the contents include post-mortem results of Alicia Kern's death, printed screenshots of Maximilian's shady dealings with FIA's top officials, surveillance photos of him doing nefarious acts towards his critics including the attempted murder of Mila Janson in Japan, and the multitude of failed experiment photos of race car drivers who are crippled or invalid for life - all overseen by her father.


Czarina couldn't believe what's presented to her.


"Now, do you still vouch for your father? He's capable of doing those things, and now just a while ago... you've seen it. He is willing to step on his family just to keep his power. That is one example of a man who has nothing to lose." Anita said.


"If he truly loves us, then why would he send men to spy and chase us? Is that true love? I know you are trying to fix this family, but it is now clear... ....that this is beyond your reach." she added.


"And these were sent by some man? Can these hold up in court?" Czarina asked.


"It doesn't matter who sent it. Fate made a path to justice. You now know what you must do." Anita said.


Czarina stands up, looking away from her mother then wiping off some of her tears.


"I can't just sell out dad. He's a part of me too. He brought me into where I am today." Czarina said.


"Without stepping on others? You are clearly naive. He merely used you, to gain favors from various racing teams across the world. Look at where we are now. He can dispose... not just me, but also YOU to keep himself clean. He married me just to show to the public how wholesome he is, just to further his racing career back in his heyday. If he truly loves us, then why are we apart? If he truly loves YOU, why would he think of laying a finger on us?" Anita said.


She then stands up, approaches her daughter then hugs her. She would then wipe off Czarina's tears as well.



"You are not like your father, just like you said to me before. You can still make a change. If you truly love him, then you will be the one making an effort of changing him." Anita said.


Czarina nods, a sign that she finally accepts the reality she is in. Though her battle is far from over....





End of Page 7















 
Page 8 - The Tell-All

Location: Anita's home, Monterey, California
Time: 8 am, the next day



The mother-daughter pair finally get their much needed respite after that adrenaline pumping action that took place last night. But clearly this isn't the sign that they can just relax. Now that they have evidence of Maximilian's nefarious deeds, they have to be on the run, and show them to the trusted authorities.
Anita is ready with her luggage, rolling it alongside her.

"Ready, mom?" Czarina asked.

"I can't believe we are leaving..." Anita responded.

"We have to be looking out for each other. I know... and you know... Dad is dangerous. I am sorry it ended up like this." Czarina said.


"Where are we going?" Anita asked.

"We are going to dig up some more. The team can handle itself on my absence, and I trust Dave." Czarina replied.
"Name a country." Anita said.
"United Kingdom. I know someone who once crossed paths with Dad." Czarina replied.

Czarina assists her mother in loading up their luggage. Anita makes a brief farewell to her Czech neighbors, especially to Wanda who helped them out in their predicament.

And then they make their way to the airport.

*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: London, England
Time: 8 pm



They finally made it to London. They settle in a flat which Czarina rents and stays whenever she has a race in circuits nearby London.
"Oh, this is such a nice place. Better than Long Beach. Hehe." Anita commented, as she looks around the classical ambiance the place offers. Shiny gold chandelier, a wooden cabinet and a vintage themed kitchen.


"Believe me, I'm a sucker for antique stuff. Well, Dad taught me how to value these." Czarina said.
"So... who are you meeting up with?" Anita asked.
"He's in the prison at the moment, but I arranged something special for him." Czarina said.
"You are breaking him out?" Anita asked.
"I'm not doing anything illegal, Mom. Trust me. I conjured up a deal with the justice department and Interpol, basically making him a witness and can provide us a lead." Czarina said.
"At least you are using that power for something good." Anita remarked.
Czarina and Anita sit down at the kitchen. She opens up her laptop and connects to the Internet. She gets various notifications, but one particular notification got her attention.


It's from a streaming platform, and as it turns out, she is a follower of Kevin Kern's livestreams, despite her apprehensions towards him.


"Kevin's livestream is about to start in 10 minutes. Titled, "The Tell-All"? Fascinating." Czarina said.


Czarina then gets two cups and prepares coffee. They both want them black. Anita helps herself once the hot cup is placed right in front of her. Czarina then returns to her seat, waiting for the livestream to start.




As minutes had passed, the waiting screen finally fades, and it shows Kevin realigning his microphone. Interestingly enough, he wears a checkered bandanna. Though his other fans already know that he wears it for style according to his previous sessions. Czarina got a little intrigued on that change.


Now, Kevin has finally adjusted the ideal angle of his microphone, a few inches away from his mouth.


"Ehem... ehem... okay, time to start." Kevin said.




"Oh hey, everyone good morning, good afternoon, or in this case, here in my wonderful hotel room in Japan, good evening. Oh wait... still an afternoon. It's 5 pm here. Anyhow, so as you know, I will be racing this weekend in Fuji Speedway with Team Neo. We got off in a good start, and by the way, congratulations to my former teammate, Isaiah Geronimo for winning in his team's debut race. I commend you for that and keep on fighting for your dreams. You have my support, even if we are rivals. Rivals uplift each other.


And going to the meat of this topic. As you all know, the title is about "The Tell-All". I am sure you know what that means. For now, I am playing nothing, because what I am going to tell you is serious, as it contains my future moving forward.


Well, where do I start off? Ummmm... let's see. My goodness, I am filled with so much today I can't even start properly."


Kevin looks down briefly, and sniffles. Upon looking back at the camera, he takes a gulp.


"Maybe you are wondering, why am I wearing this bandanna and other types of... bandanna in my appearances lately, be it on track, or on anime conventions, or even here in my stream. I will now address this... elephant in the room."





"I am on borrowed time..."

Czarina's eyes widened, and the stream comments are flooded with shocked emojis and outbursts and even some profanity. Kevin looks down once again, and it is noticeable that his eyes are getting watery. He wipes off his cheek. And then...
...proceeds to remove his bandanna. Large patches of hair are gone, which prompted even more concerned comments. Czarina places down her cup of coffee on the table.


"I have been diagnosed with late stage Hodgkin's Lymphoma. But that really is the least of my worries. Because of that, I got hit with other kinds of diseases. I also have a tumor somewhere in my digestive system. I have stayed too quiet about this. I have been wearing wigs to cover up my chemotherapy, and even have to use some make up to keep up my appearance as a jolly, anime-loving guy with the passion for gaming and racing, and overall good time. I'm sure my teammates will be so shocked while they are watching this. I kept this to EVERYONE."


"Maybe you're wondering how and when I got this. Actually, I don't even know. I just got weak in the past few years, and initially I brushed it off until I lost consciousness in a convention in New York. Some of you saw it for sure. Then yeah, the doctor told me straight right onto my face. I. Am. Sick. But not the kind of sick that you can easily get over with."


"Then surely, just this comment right now. "Why are you still racing?" Well, simple. I want to die doing what I loved. But I can't die yet until I finally achieved my goal. And I will cut straight right into it."



"You see, I simply won't allow myself to perish until I get justice. That's right. This whole livestreaming thing, the gaming, and all the racing... I have done them to get close to this justice that I seek."


"And to put a rumor to rest, yes, I have beef with one Maximilian Marsh. Where is he? Isn't he on Interpol's Red Notice? He attempted to kill my partner, Mila, and in the process she had a miscarriage. But that doesn't stop there. He is also responsible for arranging a hit on my father... DECADES AGO. I never got to meet him. He also approved to dispose of my mother, who was about to let the world know how rotten he truly is. Where are his critics? Gone. Either silenced, or God forbid, eliminated. I got proof right here."


Kevin then shows the same documents that Anita received.


"Let's just say one Good Samaritan sent these to me. All of these, including this little diary that the man wrote. Lemme just open it up and read one excerpt."




"Kevin Kern... he's here again. I saw him once more. Every time I see that man, he reminded me of the man I clashed with during my heyday.

He has the splitting image of Gerhard Kern.

Every time I see him...


...brings back the days that made me a loser. He always rubbed it on to me, that's he's one step ahead, no matter what I do.


His acts led to the eventual death of my father.

Of course I could not take it sitting down... so I did the one thing I still regret to this day:


DISPOSE OF HIM.


Until now, no one has ever known the true cause of Gerhard's death. It was me. I hired a man to make him go away. That man said the job was done, he cut off the brakes.


Whenever I see Kevin... those days come rushing back.


But my greatest fear of all...


...is that one day, he'll come rushing right in front of me, bashing a red helmet against my head."



"Are these the words you would expect from an honorable public figure? If he wants to defend himself and deny these accusations, why can't he come out and present evidence to the court? Testimonies of other families of racing drivers can also back me up. They have already aired out their sentiments."

"The FIA is rotten. Everyone in it is reeking of that foul stench of corruption. They can't cover it up with even the most glamorous of perfumes. But I do believe that it's not too late to clean it up."

"And as for you, Ms. Czarina Marsh. I know you are watching. The pressure is on once again. You'll never be able to evade the cries of justice. You may be the daughter, and you are never involved... but you know what you must do.

If you truly love your father, then the best option for him is to turn him in. I am pretty sure you know where he is. Do not coddle him any further. For your sake and the sake of millions of aspiring race car drivers...

....do the right thing. BRING HIM OUT."


"And as for me, I will use my last ounce of strength to fight until the very end. This disease drives me further. I won't let that stop me."

"And so... this caps off the session. I know that this is all too sudden. But it's better for me to let everything off my chest. This may be... no... will be my last livestream session. Thank you all to my sponsors who helped my throughout the years. I would also like to thank the entire cosplaying community for providing me countless hours of great moments that I will never forget. Oh, I will also be donating my costumes to you as well, You'll be spending hours on picking one, I guarantee you. Just go to the link that I'll be posting in the comments right now. And I also donated a total of 3 million US Dollars to various cancer foundations across the globe. I hope that should be enough to provide hope for those afflicted. I shall be spending the last days... or months... or hopefully a few years cherishing great moments with my racing team and the gaming and cosplaying communities."


Kevin takes a moment to look down and sob. The comments section is also flooded with crying emojis and messages of support. The views reach over 4 million.

Then he looks back up the camera, with some tears flowing down, but then shows his smile.

"This is GermanWeeb... officially signing off. Auf Wiedersehen.... Sayonara.... Farewell...."



The stream ends, showing a rather lively music after ending an otherwise drama-filled message.

Czarina closes her laptop, also wiping her cheek. Anita then holds her daughter's hands.

"You know what to do, Czarina. You can do the racing world a giant favor." Anita said.


*********************************************************************************************************************
Location: Fuji Speedway, Shizuoka, Japan
Time: 10 am, four days later



The grim announcement made by Kevin Kern sent huge shockwaves throughout the racing, gaming, and cosplaying communities. Various media outlets attempt to interview Kevin but were denied by Mila and Abel Kern.

And on the race day itself, even Team Neo decided to give an order to deny interviews and will release an official statement.

But of course, it is not the time to dwell upon the harrowing news.

Dave checks up on Czarina and is provided with updates. All he can do now is to win....

The qualifying session is underway.

Fuji International Speedway_.jpeg



Dave focuses on the task at hand. Even he was affected...



Fuji International Speedway__1.jpeg



"Damn, Kevin... you inspired me to take the fight even further. I know what I did was questionable, but I won't stop getting justice either. Don't worry, I'll finish it for you." Dave thought.


Fuji International Speedway__2.jpeg



Fuji International Speedway__3.jpeg




Meanwhile, the Kanonji Twins are taking the news just as hard. Kevin is still driving despite Takuma's protests. They are discussing their opinions in the pit garage.



Fuji International Speedway__4.jpeg



"Aniki, what can we do?" Takanori asked.

"I honestly don't know. It's a large bitter pill to swallow." Takuma replied.



Fuji International Speedway__5.jpeg



"Yet look at his lap times. That's not something you'll expect from a sickly person." Takanori remarked.


"Just like he said... he will fight until the very end." Takuma said.



Fuji International Speedway__6.jpeg



Fuji International Speedway__7.jpeg





*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: United Kingdom
Time: 6 am, the next day


It is once again a sunny morning at the MI6 headquarters. Alexei is wearing a prisoner's uniform, now cleared for transfer to his prison at the outskirts.

He walks around, looking left and right to the burly security regimen. The men could only give him a cold glare as he is being led to the armored van.


As he sits, he looks down the metallic flooring of the vehicle. His view outside is limited only to the windshield.



"MOVE OUT! You are clear to go." shouted by one of the personnel.

The van moves. For hours, there was no incident.


It then arrives at a coastal city.

As the black van stops along the shore line, which one would find peculiar given that it's merely a prison transfer routine.

Alexei is hearing Slavic accents from the driver and the guard at the front.

"What is going on?" Alexei asked.

The driver looks back and smiled. "You don't recognize me?" he asked.

Just then, the guard heads out the van and opens up the rear doors.


He pulls Alexei out, dragging him to that silver Mercedes C63 AMG parked at the port overlooking a rather rare sunny British morning.


Whitby_.jpeg



The "guard" then opens up the passenger door, pushes Alexei inside. Czarina smiles at Alexei.


"How does it feel being saved by the comrades you turned your back on? A bit nostalgic, isn't it? My name is Czarina Marsh." she said.


Then she grabs a trench coat and sunglasses from the backseat, passes them over to Alexei.


"Wear them, for about four hours." Czarina ordered.


Alexei would then show a smile, as if appreciating this newfound freedom.


"Why why, if it isn't HIS daughter.
Like father, like daughter, perhaps." Alexei quipped.


And then the sports car breathes into life, departing from the coastline.



Cliff Gate Road_.jpeg

"I can freely send you back to the prison where you TRULY belong, or maybe, you can help me gather information about him." Czarina said.


"Who?" Alexei asked.


"My father, no less." Czarina replied.


Alexei smirks.


"Things have gotten a lot more interesting, eh?" Alexei remarked.

"I've cut a deal with the Interpol and the justice department. Your sentence will be reduced, provided that you assist me in locating and apprehending my father." Czarina said.


"You are calling the shots now, huh? Well... I can definitely join in the fun." Alexei remarked with a grin.



Czarina then steps hard on the accelerator, with the AMG making a swift work on the B roads.




End of Page 8






 
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Page 9 - The Torch


The Fuji race is underway despite the drama still fresh on the racing community. The organizers decided to begin the race in a rolling start method to negate the launch advantage of 4WD vehicles.


Fuji International Speedway_.jpeg



Fuji International Speedway__1.jpeg


Dave actually looks in awe at Kevin who is in front of him.


"It takes a lot of bravado to share THAT much to the world. For a moment, the racing world stood still." Dave remarked.


Fuji International Speedway__2.jpeg



Fuji International Speedway__3.jpeg


Kevin takes a commanding lead, intent on showing the world that he is sticking true to what he said - fighting until the very end.


Fuji International Speedway__4.jpeg



"Gotta admit, I underestimated Mercedes cars. I thought they are some mid-life crisis mobiles. But now's not the time to praise..." Dave said as he sees his two opponents increasing their gap.



Fuji International Speedway__5.jpeg


He finally managed to snatch away the STi's position, after his struggles in Tokyo.


"Not so hot now, Scooby? Kevin's mine." Dave said.



Fuji International Speedway__6.jpeg


The AMG GT S continues to show off its brute force expected from the German performance marque. The car has proven itself to be one of Mercedes-AMG's most successful creations, having won GT races left, right, and center with few rivals.


Fuji International Speedway__7.jpeg



Dave decides to stop pulling punches.



"Kevin, it's OUR turn to take the lead. You have done more than enough to expose Maximilian's shenanigans." Dave said.



Fuji International Speedway__8.jpeg



"It's OUR job to protect and uplift the dreams of millions. No need to carry everything." Dave added.



Fuji International Speedway__9.jpeg


The C8 then closes in to the GT for the attack.


Fuji International Speedway__10.jpeg



And finally takes the pole spot, taking advantage of the mid-engined car's better rotation.


Kevin gasps, but then it turns into a satisfied grin.


"That was awesome, Dave Lempel. You are one rookie I didn't expect." Kevin said.



Fuji International Speedway__11.jpeg



"WE will carry the torch!" Dave exclaimed.



Fuji International Speedway__12.jpeg



The C8 blazes through the race without much incident. Round 4 is pretty much in the bag now.



********************************************************************************************************



Location: Czarina's flat, London, England
Time: 9 pm



News of the team's victory reaches Czarina's ears. She got temporary happiness out of that. But then she has to focus on finding her father.

Anita serves a dinner of pot roast and baked potatoes, and she smiles at their guest, Alexei Bourdovsky.

"Pardon for the simple dinner, we just moved here." Anita said.

"Oh please, do not mention it. You keep a lovely home." Alexei said.

"Mom, he's here to assist me under an arranged deal. Once we're done, he will be back to the prison to serve the rest of his REDUCED sentence." Czarina said.

"Oh do not worry, ladies. I am a man of my word." Alexei responded.

"Well then, how do you know of my husband?" Anita asked.

"Let's just say that he promised us something good, until he made us look like fools. That man has an alluring charisma, only for one to be too late to realize his true motives." Alexei answered.

"You'd better make this temporary freedom worth our while. Sources mentioned that you met him months before you were arrested. Where did you meet?" Czarina asked.

"Well, at a lovely cafe in Versailles. How bold of him to choose such location, considering he is on the run." Alexei replied.

"Did he mention anything else? Like, where is he planning to go next?" Czarina asked.

"You think a person on the run would trust anybody? Think." Alexei clapped back.

"When it comes to trust, there is only ONE person he would approach. And you see him most of the time." Alexei said.

"Don't tell me.... Uwe... Gottlieb?" Czarina said.


Alexei grins. He knows that he is merely watching a game of cat and mouse, and how Maximilian is still naive about Uwe's true identity.


"How can Uwe Gottlieb be trusted by my father, based on what you said?" Czarina asked.


"He and Uwe are like brothers-in-arms in the FIA. If anything, Uwe basically acts like a catch basin for all of your father's thoughts." Alexei replied.


Suddenly, she hears her phone vibrating on the dining table. She then reads an SMS notification. It is from an unknown number.
The message is read as follows:


37.7394° N, 25.6687° W

Which turn out to be coordinates.


"Coordinates. And who sent this?" Czarina asked.


She copied the numbers on her laptop, and the results showed that the coordinates point out to Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, which are part of Portugal. Alexei also goes to Czarina's side to look at the results.


"Well, what a lovely place for your father to hide. Does not look too seedy and suspicious either." Alexei commented.


"Wait, lemme just call my private jet. Alexei, we're going to Heathrow." Czarina said, as she clenches her fists.


She is now ready to confront her father. This won't be a typical father-daughter bonding moment.




And to answer Czarina's question....








....the person who sent the coordinates is none other than a man residing in a German mansion in Stuttgart, giggling and grinning.







"Now be a good daughter and give your father company." Gerhard said.


"Soon... this facade shall come off." he added.






End of Page 9
 
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Page 10 - The Chase


Location: Czarina's flat, London, England
Time: 4 am, the next day



Before the crack of dawn, Czarina and Alexei leave the home in a hasty, yet calm manner. She has to reach to her father to get the truth out of him. She briefly stops, breathing out a deep sigh.


"I can't believe I'm doing this." Czarina said.

"Well, do it for the racing world. Time to accept the fact your father's rotten." Alexei said.


Then the pair proceed to enter in the silver C63 AMG. White smoke comes out of its exhaust as the engine wakes up on a chilly morning.


They arrive at the runway of Heathrow airport, where her private jet awaits. They depart immediately.

It takes around four hours to reach Ponta Delgada in Azores Islands. Filled with anxiety already, she looks out of the dark horizon, with a speck of the sun attempting to calm that anxiety out of her.

"This better be worth our time." Czarina said.

"Knowing your father? Well, it better be. But hey, Azores has nice beaches." Alexei commented.

Czarina then turns to face Alexei.

"What about you? You have a father like that too?" Czarina asked.

Alexei giggles.

"Oh, I'd be better off without one. Funny, isn't it? Fathers are supposed to be role models. Some, like yours, take that role too seriously that even the world changes for them. At the expense of others, of course." Alexei replied, as he picks up the hot cup of coffee and takes a brief sip.


"I just think of the happy days with Mom and Dad, before high school. We used to go to Lake Tahoe, and he will clear his schedule just for that. He knows I love fishing. But now, those are nothing more than mere memories." says Czarina.


"My only father figure was from the mafia. He treated me as if I was his own. Taught me the tricks of the trade... including taking lives." Alexei added.


"I don't mind learning how to use a gun, considering my status. But I can throw a rock and incapacitate people with it." Czarina said, also with a giggle.


"Conflict is human nature, Czarina. Even the closest among us tend to offend each other to prove their righteousness. There's no "good" or "evil" in this world. Both are just... spectrum." Alexei said.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Ponta Delgada, Azores Islands, Portugal
Time: 9 am



They have finally touched down at the Azores Islands, specifically the capital of Ponta Delgada. For such a small island, it is busy with life with tourists strolling around the European vibe mixed with warm weather.


Even though every second counts, Alexei suggested they go to a cafe and plan things out. Alexei orders two cups of hot chocolate to get them started.


"We cannot just rush into a mansion without knowing anything, my queen." Alexei said.

Czarina's phone vibrates, showing notifications. She receives photos from that same unknown number. They are aerial and third-person perspective shots of the mansion where Maximilian resides.


Along with a message of:


"Even when the world looks for him, he still has the pleasure of kicking back. I wish for a good reunion..."


"Who the hell is this guy? How does he get this kind of info?" Czarina said, as she shows to Alexei the photos. Right off the bat, Alexei knows the number, but of course he merely giggles.


"We are already here. I say we indulge." Alexei replied.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Maximilian Marsh's mansion
Time: 10 am



The mansion is located at a serene part of the island, a bit far away from the urban side. Alexei and Czarina gets past the bushes surrounding the mansion.

They are at the vicinity of the front gate, with the guards holding high powered ammunition, given orders to inspect any guest coming in or shoot away intruders.


"Of course your father has armed men... with stolen weapons may I add." Alexei whispers.

Czarina shakes her head in disbelief.

"I never knew he would stoop down like this." Czarina commented.


"Now, you know what to do. On my cue." Alexei said.



The guard hears ruffling from the bushes, prompting him to approach the source of the noise, and slowly aims his gun.


However, from behind, a rock flies past by, hitting his head with such force that he lost consciousness. The other guard gets alarmed, and turns to other direction to find the trajectory.

But Alexei sprints from behind, putting his Mixed Martial Arts skills to work. He performs a head scissor throw by climbing up and locking his legs around that guard's neck, rapidly smashing the other guard down the pavement.


With the two incapacitated, Alexei and Czarina makes their way to the entrance, but with some more armed men roaming around, they find the nearest bush and crouch down.

Alexei proceeds to incapacitate another batch of guards quietly by breaking their necks.

"Let's go." Alexei said.

The pair enter through the back door, leading to the kitchen. Just as they are about to make a move, two armed men aimed their guns from behind. Sensing that their plans failed, they can do nothing but raise their hands.

"Stand up!" said one bodyguard.


The armed men commands them to move, and lead them to the living room where Maximilian sits down to watch the morning news, wearing a suit and a tie, laying down the newspaper on the couch.


"Now, now... please treat our guests nicely. Put your guns down." Maximilian commanded, as he approaches his daughter.


"What brings you here, my beloved?" Maximilian asked.

"I just want to hear the truth. Did you do those things? The murders? Bribery?" asked Czarina.


"And what if I say yes? Will you hate me?" Maximilian responded.

"I am trying not to." Czarina said as she clenches her fists.

"I am pretty impressed, you saved your mother. That was just one of my messages of love to her." Maximilian said.

"How could you do this? You are already on the top. You stepped on everyone, including us. Is it true, that I was born out of convenience? That I was merely a part of your career?" Czarina asked.

"My father, a person with incredible resolve who survived the second World War, once imparted me one important lesson: You can only rely on yourself. Bonds mean nothing. People can easily use you for their own ambitions. And so he taught me that the only good thing people have is their talent. Use them at your own convenience, do not get drawn. Be the one who uses, not used." Maximilian explains as he walks around her.


"Your mother was merely a ticket into the world of racing, and eventually to the throne of the FIA. And that one happy family you once had? All smoke and mirrors." Maximilian added.


"Then why did you invest so much on me? Gave me a career? Was that a ruse as well?" Czarina asked.

"Bingo. That's what I like about you. Smart. You know your way. But this is the only mistake you made. I have to project to everyone that I am a loving father who encourages his daughter every step of the way. I want to take hold of the FIA, and control the world that I so cherish... the world of speed. That was the only thing I have left when everything was taken away from me. I want to prove to that one person that you can have everything with a little bit of connections, and if I have to step on someone else's toes, then so be it.

Hard work? Struggle? That's something my father didn't want me to experience. And then there's that ONE person who rubbed me the wrong way. But now his son is slowly rotting to his death. Surely he won't be lonely since he will be joined soon. That's one little neat bonus." Maximilian said, with a grin.


Then Maximilian stops, then turns back to his daughter.


"Want a real father-daughter bonding? You want to play? Why don't we play hide and seek?" Maximilian said, as he walks away, raising his hand. As if on cue, the helicopter lands right in front of the vast garden overlooking the ocean. Some men are aiming their guns to Czarina and Alexei.


"Try to catch me, dear." Maximilian giggles as he walks his way to the helicopter.


"Let them go once I fly. I am playing a game with my dear daughter." Maximilian said to his chief security officer.


As Maximilian gets in and closes the door, he smiles as the helicopter rises to the air.

Czarina's emotions turn from sorrow to rage, as she can only look at her fleeting father.


The game now begins.


*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Czarina's flat, London, England
Time: 6 pm



Czarina and Alexei left the islands safely, with the woman clearly shaken from her father's revelations. Anita immediately notices her daughter's downtrodden mood.


"Czarina! Have you spoken to him?" Anita asked.


Czarina slowly nods, fighting back her tears.


"Yes... but... he just disposed us... just like that." Czarina replied.


Anita hugs her daughter. Alexei feels a little bit of jealousy seeing that moment. But he has to keep his cool.


"He ran away." Czarina added.


"Important thing is, that you are alive. I cannot afford to lose you." Anita said.


Alexei clears his throat.


"Pardon me, but may I remind you both why I'm here? Time is of the essence." Alexei said.


Czarina lets go, and then wipes her tears.


"Right. Let's get down to business." Czarina said.


Czarina sits down, opens her laptop on the dining table.


"I know the exact model of the helicopter he rode on. And we can track it down." Alexei said.


"The floor is yours." Czarina said as she hands over her laptop to Alexei.


As Alexei gets to work, Czarina gets a call from Jesko Artemis.


"Hello, Jesko." Czarina said.


"Ma'am, we finally tracked down where the stolen funds went. Please come here at the soonest." Jesko said.


"All right." Czarina said.


Czarina once again gets her scarf and heads out. Alexei follows her, placing the laptop back down the table.


"Where are you going?" Alexei asked.

"AMT." Czarina replied.


"What about the...?" Alexei followed up.


"Track him over the phone. Let's go." Czarina said.


The pair proceeds to Atkinson Motor Technology Headquarters in the outskirts of London. Once they arrived, Jesko approaches her and leads her straight to the computer room. She sees technology experts in police uniforms, gathered around in one computer.


"Please take a look at this." Jesko said.


"We have finally traced down the bank account where the stolen funds went. Does this look familiar to you, ma'am?" an officer asked.


Czarina inches closer to the monitor. Alongside the SWIFT code that represents the bank's name, she sees the numbers on the screen.


"What?! That's... Dave's bank account! I sometimes put a deposit there whenever he asks me to." Czarina said.


One revelation after another, Czarina couldn't believe that two of the people closest to her are fleeting away. What did she do wrong to deserve such treatment?


She finally had enough. She distances herself from the computer and faces the authorities.


"Okay. Let's go to Los Angeles. Time to clean up this mess." Czarina said in conviction.


*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Time: 9 pm, the next day



With a new fight on her hands, Czarina flies to Los Angeles along with agents from Interpol. Upon landing, she contacts the local authorities and coordinated with them on how to arrest Dave.


And to start with the operation, she contacts Dave.


"Hey, Dave. Yeah, let's meet up. We have to talk. One round left, right?" Czarina said.




West 16th Street_.jpeg




She gets inside all by herself, as part of the plan. She then waits for Dave to get inside. She briefly looks down, still trying to absorb everything she learned lately.

Then she hears footsteps, the lights have opened. It was Dave.


"Oh hey, Czarina. Are you okay? Have you found your mother?" Dave asked.

"Yes. She's fine. But..." Czarina replied, and then she raises her arm.


She hurls her palm, with all the force she can muster, on to Dave's left cheek.


"How could you do this?" Czarina asked.


"Do what? What's going on?" Dave asked.


"I know what you did. You took my money and the other investors' funds. What for?" Czarina asked.


Dave knows the cat is out of the bag, and he can only smirk right in front of her.


"You wanna know why? You are so blind. Your father took everything away from me. All of my aspirations, and even the dreams of my crew that I'm looking after. I promised them better futures, and then what? On one snap of a finger, everything is gone!"

"While you are there, being pampered by your daddy dearest, I am suffering. And then that's when I realized that it's an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Too bad you are dragged into this. I... merely... used you. You are the keys to your father's loot. And you led me right there. So thanks." Dave replied with an even bigger smirk.


Czarina takes out her smartphone, and presses the call button to alert the authorities awaiting for her go signal. In a few moments, the police come in, placing Dave's hands in handcuffs.


"I'm done being used. I will fight for what is right. I will be the one sparking the change." Czarina said.



"Mr. Dave Lempel, you are under arrest for the charges of embezzlement. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." an officer said.


Czarina then looks at the C8 Corvette.





Ishikawa Body_.jpeg



"Oh, by the way, that's technically mine. Enjoy life behind bars. Ciao!" Czarina said as she walks away with a smile while the officers take Dave into their custody.


Czarina breathes out a deep sigh, as she observes the police cars depart. She has taken the first step.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway, California
Time: 11 am, one month later



A month has passed since the events that shook Czarina to the core. She is in the process of rebuilding herself. Dave's trial is set for few months later.

In the pit garage of Laguna Seca Raceway, Czarina looks at the telemetry. The C8 is running in tip-top condition sporting a new livery.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca_.jpeg


The driver is a male younger than her, named Charlie Kesler. He also hails from California but from San Diego. He is a two-time world karting champion and has decided to join Czarina's Corvette Racing Team.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__1.jpeg



Czarina contacts Charlie over the radio.


"How's the tire grip?" Czarina asks.


"Good. I just want to dial out this understeer for a bit. Just a teeny bit and we're golden." Charlie replied.


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca__2.jpeg



Then Charlie made this statement over the radio.




"I won't stop... until I settle my score with... him." he said.





End of Page 10

 
Page 11 - Spring



Location: A prison in California
Time: 4 pm, the next day



Somewhere far away from the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles....



...in a bland, perhaps even a desolate location. A prison cell, to be exact. Dave, in his orange prison jump suit is doing his routine chores, sweeping the corridor.

He is used to this kind of labor; after all it was normal for him to be covered in grease as a free man, being a mechanic and race car driver.

As he is about to dip the mop into the water, a PA system rings.


"Attention, David Lempel. Please proceed to the security reception immediately. Once again, Dave Lempel, please proceed to the security reception immediately. Your attorney wishes to see you."


Dave wipes his sweat and leaves the cleaning supplies. He proceeds to the designated area as instructed. Once he got there, the guards escort him to the visiting area, and there awaits Mr. Hans Dawson, his attorney. The attorney then places his briefcase on the cold table, opening it and taking out some papers.

Dave
sits across his attorney.


"Oh, I thought I wouldn't be able to make it to the visiting hours. Well, I won't be here for long, anyway. I'll keep this meeting short." Hans said.

"What do we have here, attorney?" Dave asked.

"Congratulations! You are a free man." Hans said.

Dave's eyes widened. That is a news he wouldn't expect considering the gravity of his actions.

"I'm sorry, what?" Dave asked.

"You. Are. Free. Simple as that. But of course there are some caveats for your release." Hans said.

"The conditions for your release are as follows. Number one: You are not allowed to make any form of contact to Ms. Czarina Marsh. Number two: You are permanently banned in racing at ANY circuit in the United States of America. Wow, that's sad. Number three: The money you stole will go back to their origins, but she did leave you at least ten percent for you to "start over". But... there is one interesting clause." Hans said as he reads the contents.

Dave nods, but what is that specific clause?


"Conditions one and two will be null and void IF you beat her in a race." Hans said with a smirk.

"Huh? But how? You said I can't even contact her in any way." Dave inquired.

"Oh, that will be possible. This wouldn't be written if it wasn't for a certain someone." Hans replied.

"Who?" Dave asked.


The answer makes itself known in front of them. It was none other than Gerhard Kern.

"Oh, right on cue. Don't you like it? She dropped the charges because of me. We made those certain arrangements." Gerhard said.

"Wait, does she know that you're...?" Dave asked.


"I still have to keep up appearances, young man. Better start calling me Mr. Gottlieb while you are under my wing. Understand?" Gerhard answered.

"Well, that's settled, then. Just let us arrange your release while you get yourself dressed." Hans said.

"Better hurry, I have an upcoming press conference in the FIA." Gerhard said.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Circuit St. Croix, France
Time: 11 am, two days later




The sun shines brightly in the green fields of eastern France, nearby the German border.

One car, however, breaks the serenity.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C_.jpeg


A heavily modified Bugatti Veyron runs solely in the new circuit. It belongs to none other than the Blue Streak racing team now managed by Louis Montagny.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__1.jpeg



But who is piloting this hypercar?


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__2.jpeg


The Veyron shows its agility through the first hairpin, something not expected given how it was made.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__3.jpeg



Louis, in the pit garage, carefully looks at the telemetry provided by the car. He intends to participate in the next set of touring car races.

But in a Veyron? Wouldn't that be unfair for the competition?


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__4.jpeg


As it turns out, it is the sole 2013 specification Bugatti Veyron meant to be sold to a customer who suddenly passed on before the car got delivered. Rather than collecting dust, Bugatti modified the entire car for competition purposes. To be able to run fairly against the competition, the car's horsepower was dropped to 600, but the weight has shaved down completely, weighing as much as a typical saloon or hatchback. Majority of the engine and chassis components were replaced by more durable ones, and then tested vigorously by Louis himself.


Circuit de Sainte-Croix - C__5.jpeg



Louis then communicates to the driver.


"Please enter the pit lane immediately, lunch is ready." Louis commanded.


"Copy." the driver responded.


The driver heeds to the instruction. Upon exiting the car, he takes off his helmet, revealing a youthful face with a brown mullet haircut. His name is Alphonse Blanchard, also a two-time world karting champion. He is only eighteen years old.

He wipes off his sweat and grabs a bottle of cold water to hydrate himself.


"How's the car?" Louis asked.

"Impressive, sir. Moves like a total rocket." Alphonse replied.

"Glad you like it. You will be running that for the entire championship. That will be your opportunity to shine after moving up from the karts." Louis said.

Alphonse shows a grin on his face.


"I won't stop... until I beat...


WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca_.jpg





...him."


"Hmm?" Louis asked as he heard that mumble.


"Oh, nothing. Let's eat. I am starting to get hungry." Alphonse said with a smile.




*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Red Bull Headquarters, Salzburg, Austria
Time: 6 pm



"A dinner at Ikarus, huh?" Yuki said as he strolls along the Red Bull headquarters in Austria.

He passes by employees who are in a rush to get home, since the sun is calling it the end of the day.

Yuki Kanonji has renounced his Japanese citizenship after leaving Dream Alliance Japan due to a bitter parting of ways with his mentor, Nobuhiko Hiramoto; and the fact that he officially holds German citizenship as he gets more freelance racing work with various racing teams in Europe.


Which ultimately led him in the Red Bull Hangar. His recent exploits raised the eyebrows of one of the most prolific sports brands in the world, and in motorsport as well.

As he waits in the reception area filled with various sports memorabilia, a secretary approaches him.


"Mr. Kanonji, correct?" she said.


"Yes." Yuki replied.

"Mr. Bayer is now ready to see you. Please follow me."


Yuki looks around during their brief walk, and then finally, they enter the rather chilly office of Peter Bayer, the CEO of the Red Bull Visa Cash App. The secretary leaves them, and then the two men exchange pleasantries.

"Ah, it's a pleasure to have finally met you, Mr. Yuki Kanonji." Bayer said.

"Likewise." Yuki says with a bow.

"Pardon us for repeatedly contacting you regarding our offer." Peter said.

"Oh, I don't mind at all." Yuki said.


"Now, let's get down to business. You see, we need to expand, despite the rather negative reception we got lately. We need new talents in other categories of motorsport. To tell you the truth, what we are doing is a gamble. We are making an attempt to make our presence known in touring car racing, specifically in Europe and in Japan's Super Taikyuu and Super Formula series." Bayer explained.


Upon hearing his birthplace, Yuki's right eyebrow raises, but then he shows a grin to relieve tension.


"Are you uncomfortable racing in Japan, Yuki-san?" Bayer asked.


"No. Not really. It just hits different that I basically left my home then revisiting it." Yuki replied.



"Actually, that is kind of the attitude we are looking for. We also dug deep, and we found out your rather reckless activities in street racing in Japan. To be honest...



...we found the perfect candidate." Bayer said with an impish grin.

18ee196ad0045-screenshoturl-jpg.1346775



"We need a TRUE menace in the track. Not some smiling honey badger being a walking meme, as the youth calls it. Are you up to the challenge?"
Bayer asked.


Yuki smiles, then said smile turns into a menacing, sinister smirk.


"I'm all up for it. I'm ready to sign." Yuki said.


"Now, shall we discuss further details?" Bayer asked, with a delightful smile.


"Let us proceed." Yuki said.


"May I add that you are also to scout for potential candidates. That means, you have to observe everyone during a race. A win isn't necessary, but a podium or a top 10 finish is a minimum." Bayer said.


"Sounds interesting. Okay, I'll sign." Yuki said.


The two men then proceed to shake hands after Yuki signs the contract. He is now officially part of the Red Bull family.


"Oh, mind if I take the car out for a spin?" Yuki asked.


"Not at all. We can practice until the evening." Bayer replied.


Yuki puts on a loaned racing suit provided by Red Bull. He then gets in the modified NSX and tears up the Red Bull Ring under the cover of darkness.







Red Bull Ring_.jpeg




Yuki intentionally applies the throttle early in the corner to induce oversteer, a staple in testing the car's limits.




Red Bull Ring__1.jpeg



"The car has the ideal balance of under and over steer. They knew the NSX's flaws very well and addressed them thoroughly." Yuki deduced as he gets the initial feel of the car's dynamics.


Red Bull Ring__2.jpeg



Red Bull Ring__3.jpeg



Thinking about the recent events, Yuki firms his grip on the steering wheel.


Red Bull Ring__4.jpeg



"The twins have gotten soft lately. Not that I have ill will towards them, but I am disappointed to say the least." Yuki thought.



Red Bull Ring__5.jpeg



"I will be the one rising to the top. I no longer want to sit on the sidelines and be under the shadow of you both. And Nobu-senpai...."


Yuki's right foot presses down further on the accelerator.



"....just you wait. I will be the one crushing you in Super Taikyu."



*********************************************************************************************************************



Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 3 pm, the next day




It's a busy afternoon in the newly refurbished Neo Headquarters in Nurburg. The main color scheme of the facilities is bright green, signifying spring and rebirth, according to Kevin.


Takanori and Takuma oversee the daily operations, and then they enter in the meeting room for a brief respite.


"Okay, still have to sort out the logistics. But the rest are okay!" Takanori said.

"Mr. Gottlieb said we are to wait for someone. And I thought Germans are known to be punctual." Takuma said.



Suddenly, an intercom rings on the table. Takanori picks it up.


"Mr. Kanonji, your guest has arrived. Please meet him in the reception hall."


"Right on cue." Takanori said.





The twins then head down to the reception area. As it turns out, it was Dave Lempel after all.


"Wow, quite a nice HQ you have. I dreamed of this back then." Dave commented.


"Aren't you... Dave Lempel?" Takuma asked.


"That is right. Nice to having finally met you both." Dave said, as he shakes hands with the twins.



"So... Mr. Gottlieb sent you, we presume?" Takanori asked.


"Yes. Second chance." Dave replied.


Getting down to business, the twins tour Dave in the headquarters. The American racer can only be awed at the state-of-the-art facilities and the myriad of employees doing their tasks.


Then finally, Dave is presented with their weapon for the next touring car championship - the AMG GT R. The upgrade was suggested by Takuma, seeing that the GT S wasn't able to live up to their expectations.






S_Company East_.jpeg



"This will be our new steed. And also, as much as possible, you are going to drive in place of Kevin. You know..." Takuma said.


"Yes, I am aware. But is he doing well?" Dave asked.


"Right now, he is in the hospital for the routine check up. He shall be back in an hour or so." Takanori replied.


"But he is still stubborn as a rock. He really wanted to race as much as his strength dictates." Takuma added.



Then a secretary approaches them.


"Gentlemen, the live conference from the FIA shall start. Let us proceed to the board room." the secretary said.





The trio then head to the conference room and turn on to the sports channel. They see a multitude of microphones in the screen. With nothing much to wait, the session begins with Gerhard Kern taking the stand, still masquerading as Uwe Gottlieb.


"Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming over on such short notice. You may have been wondering about the whereabouts of Maximilian Marsh, and I can definitely say this without any lying...




...I do not know where he is. You may see us both together in events, but even he has his secrets. We only talk about professional matters, nothing else. I have gotten wind that his daughter was able to reach him but wasn't able to convince him to turn in.


But rest assured, we are coordinating with the authorities, especially with the Interpol, in our ceaseless search. We believe that the truth shall one day prevail, and we will give Mr. Marsh the avenue to let his voice heard.


For the meantime, I shall introduce to you our newly elected FIA president, Mr. Noel Chevalier."


The audience clap their hands, as Noel takes on the stage and Gerhard sitting with the other executives. Noel's age is relatively youthful at 45, but he has numerous racing victories under his belt. Noel has been part of the FIA for over a decade now, and was responsible for creating a multitude of changes in motorsport despite strong opposition from the senior members.


"Thank you. Thank you very much for entrusting me the leadership of the FIA. I shall not waver in my tenure, and will continue to uphold the ideals of this prestigious organization. As we all know, this organization has been stained with numerous scandals involving the previous president. I will assure to our viewers, and to the racing world, that I shall clean this organization from the ground up. The FIA has undergone various challenges, and it has always been victorious, and this time it won't be different.


The new era begins." Noel said.




Everyone in the FIA conference room clap their hands. Gerhard is seen smiling, and Noel shakes hands with him and then to other members of the board.






THE END















 
Atlantic Ocean Road_.jpeg



NEO


A new chapter opens for this 12-year long Gran Turismo fanfiction.

An aspiring breed of race car drivers find their way in the grueling word of speed.


Kevin Kern, on the other hand, is on borrowed time. He must achieve justice not just for himself, but also for the dreams of others that were crushed by FIA's corruption. He wants to see even a glimmer of light he tries to shine before he himself fades.




NEW CHARACTERS:

Alphonse Blanchard:

Nationality: French
Age: 18

Bio: Alphonse Blanchard is a young, up and coming race car driver racing under the tutelage of Louis Montagny and the Blue Streak racing team. He is the son of a supermodel mother who, unfortunately, passed away after giving birth to him. His father, on the other hand, remains unknown. However, he holds no interest in learning his parentage. He was raised well in a comfortable life by his mother's parents. One day, his grandparents brought him to see a Formula 1 race in Paul Ricard circuit as a birthday gift. Upon seeing the countless speeding open cockpit race machines blaze by the main straight, a fire was lit in his heart. He never felt that rush of excitement in his life before, and that prompted him to join karting races with the blessing of his grandparents. Alphonse started off quite splendidly in the karting scene at the tender age of 11, and has finished in podium... every single time. His skills earned the ire of another karting virtuoso from the USA named Charles Kesler, and their rivalry still burns up to this day.
Now that he has earned a place in the world of touring car racing, he is now experiencing that same excitement he felt when he first saw those F1 cars tear up the track, albeit of course, behind the wheel of a much faster car in a bigger arena.



Giacomo Marelli:

Nationality: Italian
Age: 23

Bio: Giacomo Marelli. Son of a once-illustrious Formula 1 car driver named Benito Marelli. His father once had a flourishing career in the highest level of motorsport... until it all came crashing down all thanks to one scandal. Now, Benito merely runs a business supplying go kart parts and even selling used go karts. Giacomo learned the tricks of business, and as well as to how to tackle the apex. He has recently finished his business management studies in a university and now focuses on building a career in the world of motorsport, something his father isn't too excited about.




Noel Chevalier:

Nationality: French
Age: 45

Bio: Noel Chevalier is the current head of the FIA, after the entire board decided to kick out Maximilian Marsh for his nefarious deeds that stained the reputation of the organization as a whole. Noel may be relatively younger than his peers, but his racing experience and victories more than compensate for that, even earning the jealousy of Maximilian himself. He is one of the few who actually questioned most of Maximilian Marsh's decisions, and doubted his credibility. While he is efficient and keeps morality within the organization in order to rebuild it, his personal life is something of struggle for him....




Charles Kesler:

Nationality: American
Age: 30

Bio: Charles Kesler is a happy-go-lucky American race car driver hailing from San Diego, California. He is one of Kevin Kern's biggest fans. He has moderate success in the motorsport scene at home, but he holds intense sense of rivalry towards Alphonse Blanchard. The two clash frequently on the karting circuits, trying to outdo each other. He now works under the employ of the Corvette Racing Team, guided by Czarina Marsh. Will he be able to set a match point against his French rival on the global stage?


*********************************************************************************************************************






Page 1: New Sprouts


Location: Neo HQ, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 9 am




The new NEO headquarters. It was purchased by Gerhard Kern and was refurbished without his son knowing. It's once again brimming with life and activity after it became a desolate domicile after Hiroyuki Hiramoto's passing. Living quarters for each race car driver have better amenities, and the gym operates 24/7.


And inside that gym, running on a treadmill wearing a bright green sweatshirt, is none other than Kevin Kern.

While Kevin has made his health known to the world, he makes sure that he keeps himself fit and not let the disease get over him until he finally achieves his goal. His doctors allowed him to resume his racing, but in a limited manner.


Also getting inside the gym is Dave Lempel, who feels like he is living La Vida Loca in the headquarters. Though of course he knows not to make himself too comfortable. He approaches Kevin.


"Yo, Guten Morgen!" Dave greeted.

"Good morning!" Kevin says as they trade high fives while still running.

"You're holding up okay?" Dave asked.

"I am in a good picture of health, thank you." Kevin responds.

"What do you think of the recent developments in the FIA lately? Like, your enemy got the boot but still hiding; then a new president promising changes like a typical PR move?" Dave asked.

"Typical PR move. Like you said. I won't trust them until I see REAL action coming from them." Kevin replied.

"And what about you? How do you like this place so far?" Kevin asked.

"Oh it feels great. This 24/7 gym WITH FREE MEMBERSHIP? And a technical team working every single nut and bolt on your cars? That's the vision I used to have before he.... took everything away." Dave replied.

"Sorry to hear that." Kevin responded.

Dave picks up his water tumbler and towel, and gets on the treadmill beside Kevin's. He starts with the low speed setting and looks at the screen showing the morning news.


He sees Gerhard Kern shaking hands with the new FIA president Noel Chevalier, as the news replays the footage of the conference.


"You think Mr. Gottlieb can help the FIA? He's all by himself, you know?" Dave asked.

"I'm actually wondering the same thing. I don't think he trusts everyone in that organization, either. But on the other hand, he showers us with... THIS. It's as if he's like a dad that everyone loves." Kevin said, then suddenly he sets the treadmill into its slowest speed setting.

"I wish my father was still alive to meet him. I'm sure they'll get along well." Kevin added. The lively mood suddenly shifted into melancholy.

Noticing this sudden shift in mood, Dave stops the treadmill and taps on Kevin's shoulder.

"Everything will be okay. I am here to help. The team is making this possible. And Mr. Gottlieb too. We will get through this. Maximilian will be behind bars. We'll make sure of that. Don't do these all by yourself, man. It's not good for you and your health." Dave said in a reassuring tone.


All of a sudden, Julie Meade enters the gym, looking professional as always.


"Oh good morning, boys. Did I interrupt your workout?" Julie said.

"Not at all." Kevin responded.

"So you're the new guy, David Lempel?" Julie asked, as she reaches out her hand.

Dave reciprocates the gesture, shaking her hand.

"Yes. A pleasure to meet you." Dave said.

"I'll be waiting for you both to finish your exercise. I'll be in the board room with Mr. Gottlieb." Julie said.

"Mr. Gottlieb's here?" Kevin said as his eyes widened upon hearing the news.

"Yes. And he will be here more often." Julie replied.

"I hope that's not because of me. He shouldn't worry too much." Kevin said.

"You are one of his worries. A shepherd worries about his entire flock." Julie answered.

She then turns back, making her way to the exit.

"I'll take my leave. We are waiting in the board room." Julie said.


An hour has passed, and both Kevin and Dave enter the board room in their smart casual attire. Gerhard looks at his son with a smile, but of course with a hint of worry. Takanori, Takuma, and even the android Nigel Heidelberg are present as well.

Now's not the time to delve on that, as Gerhard keeps up with his act.


"Good morning everyone. I am here to deliver the latest developments and of course lay out our plans for the future." Gerhard said.

On cue, Julie opens up the projector and shows up slides.


"Well, the World Touring Car Championship, as we all know, has been given an overhaul thanks in part of Maximilian's daring escape and his cohorts who planned the previous one were actually put to justice. I am as shocked as you are." Gerhard said.

Julie then makes another click, showing another slide indicating the championship structure.


"In a few weeks, the championship begins. First round is in Monza. Second is at Suzuka in Japan. Third will be at Bathurst, Australia. Fourth round will take place in Trial Mountain Circuit in Washington state in which Dave must stay here in Germany, and the final will be on the Nurburgring and that will be crucial because it will also serve as a qualifying event for the VLN. Any questions?" Gerhard said.

With no one raising their hand, Julie proceeds to the next slide. The slide shows the cars the team has at the moment.


"As you all know, the AMG GT R will be our front runner in the WTCC. For the future, I have made talks with AMG to secure the purchase of an AMG GT3 for the Nurburgring 24 Hours, and then we move on to the WEC in which the Kanonji twins will handle the matter, I presume?" Gerhard asked.

"Yes sir. We have made arrangements and filed the necessary papers for the FIA to allow us to use the Mazda LM55. Also, Takanori and I were contemplating on joining the Super Formula series. We heard that it's no longer taking place exclusively in Japan, and if you will allow it, we will open an audition for aspiring drivers who want to join in the category." Takuma replied.

"Ah, good. Let us expand, I say. But for now, we have a pressing matter." Gerhard said as he lays his hand out to Kevin.

Kevin looks at everyone as if he's on a hot seat.


"Kevin. While we recognize your fight for justice, isn't it also high time to look after yourself? You said that you are on borrowed time. Do not overexert yourself. We are handling this together. I saw you one time going to bed at midnight when the doctors clearly said that you must sleep early. Let the authorities pursue the matter." Gerhard said.


"I'm sorry that I made everyone worry. Look, it's not going to be easy. And I fear that you are straying away from our main objectives while I continue fighting. You do not have to worry about me, sir. I'll always ask help whenever I need it." Kevin replied.

"I may be your strict professor in university back then. And I hate it when you were stubborn... even until now. Be thankful there's no eraser here to hurl it on to you like I used to." Gerhard said in a jest, in an attempt to ease the tension. Everyone in the room giggled.


Then Kevin stands up and clears his throat.


"Well, this one is no joke. Whatever happens to me, this team must go on. I am trying to shine light to everyone who got lost in the darkness, and I am aware that I am fading. All I am asking is.... please... help keep that light shining. I may not be able to personally see Maximilian behind bars, but I will use whatever strength left in me to make sure everyone gets the justice they deserve. Mr. Gottlieb, thank you very much for helping us. I do not know how and when to repay you." Kevin said.


"You don't have to." Gerhard said, as he proceeds to hug his son. Kevin is shocked, as he isn't used to be hugged by the typically no-nonsense Uwe Gottlieb.


After Gerhard let go, he then straightens up Kevin's blazer.


"Look sharp as always, Kevin." Gerhard said with a smile, but with his usual imperative tone.


"Oh, there is one request I have." Kevin said.


"What is it?" Gerhard asked.


"Before I perish, I want to duel with Takuma-san at the Nurburgring. The 930 is ready. I want to honor my father by giving my best on that race." Kevin said.

Everyone in the room now turn their attention to Takuma. Takuma then shows his trademark condescending smirk that he learned from his late mentor, Sir Ben McCarthy.


"All right. Don't die on me on that day, okay?" Takuma responded.



*********************************************************************************************************************

Location: Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Italy
Time: 10 am, three weeks later




Three weeks have passed without incident, and just like that, the World Touring Car Championship restarts after all the kinks were ironed out.


Today is the qualifying day, and tomorrow will the race proper. Teams have the entire day for themselves to set their best lap times in order to secure that pole.


New faces have appeared as well, as Takuma noticed. Rob Hatch is also present in the pit garages, to cheer on his friends.

The Brit is walking along the pit lane, and he spots a familiar face... Louis Montagny. Smirking, he approaches his French best friend and rival.


"Bonjour, mon ami." Rob greeted.

"Bonjour!" Louis greeted back, then the two men did a brotherly hug.

"What brings you here?" Louis asked.

"Of course I want to check on my friends. What's your steed?" Rob replied.


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The answer shows itself up to Rob on cue as it blasts down the main straight.


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"A Veyron? Bold choice." Rob said.


"Driven my an impressionable youth, may I add." Louis said.


"I hoped it would be you behind the helm." Rob said.


"I am molding him... to be the next Zephyr." Louis said.


"And be as sassy as you? Leave the poor kid alone." Rob said.


The two men giggled.


"Just kidding. But he will be just as a headache to your friends as I was to you back then." Louis remarked.


Then the Veyron enters the pit lane. Exiting the car is the young Alphonse Blanchard. He removes his helmet and fixes his mullet hair with his hand.


"I can't believe you are promoting child labor. Despicable." Rob said in a jest as he saw just how youthful and bright-looking Alphonse is. Louis approaches the driver.


"Is the car good? Are there any necessary adjustments?" Louis asked.


"The car needs more rear torque bias. It understeers in the chicanes." Alphonse replied.


"Okay. We will work on it. Please sit down and relax first." Louis said.


Alphonse complies, and while at it, he gets his earphones and plays his favorite tune at full blast while closing his eyes. Taking that opportunity, Louis decides to tell Rob something more serious.


"May I ask you a favor?" Louis said.


Alphonse briefly opens his eyes, he sees both Louis and Rob walking away, which piques his curiosity. But as he is about to stand up, the two men quickly return, with Louis giving a small clear container to Rob. The music is too loud for him to grasp their conversation. He sees Rob nodding and finally exiting the pit garage.


Meanwhile, the other teams put everything on the table.


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Dave learns about the presence of that Veyron, and knowing the layout Monza has, he started to get anxious.


"A Veyron? Heh. Yeah, as if we have the chance." Dave commented.


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"Monza is basically stop and go. Long straights then sudden sharp turns." Dave added.



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And then another driver shares the struggle. An Italian racer by the name of Giacomo Marelli.


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Just like Alphonse, he too is an aspiring race car driver. He is running under the Mistral Motorsport racing team with close partnership to Alfa Romeo. The Giulia GTAm captivates the audiences with the combined traits of beauty and speed.




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And then there's Charlie Kesler. As it turns out, Alphonse and Charlie are fierce rivals in the karting stage. Now that he finds out that his rival is also competing, he is provoked once more. Charlie races for Czarina's Corvette Racing Team.


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Back in the pit lane, Yuki Kanonji decides to pay a visit to his cousins before he can start running.


"Hey guys." Yuki said.


Takanori happily approaches Yuki and exchange fist bumps. Takanori then notices a familiar logo on Yuki's white racing suit.


"Red Bull?" Takanori asked.


"Yes. But on the VISA Cash App team." Yuki replied.


"Oh, so there are two Yukis now, huh?" Takuma said.


Yuki smirks.


"I strive to be... better... than the other one." Yuki said.


"So what are we expecting? Weekly German national anthems? Well, you're a German citizen now, am I right?" Takanori asked.


"Who knows? I can't predict the future. Oh, it is time for me to run. See you later." Yuki replied.


Yuki immediately begins his qualifying stint.



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"Well, good luck to him." Takanori said, always being positive towards other people.



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The qualifying session ends in the afternoon. Tomorrow shall be the deciding factor...


*********************************************************************************************************************


The next day, the cars line up in a rolling start formation to negate the launch advantage of four-wheel drive cars. Alphonse takes the pole, to the surprise of no one, while Giacomo takes the second.







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Neo starts at 4th. Dave tries his best to be optimistic, but he also tempers his expectations.


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"A good start. But that Veyron will be pain in the butt." Dave remarked.




The green light flashes. All 20 cars roar past, with the spectators cheering loudly.



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End of Page 1


AUTHOR'S NOTES:



- FYI, that race is at 40 laps. Yes, forty. :lol:


























 
Page 2 - The Defense




Round 1 begins with the racers charging at the tight first chicane of Monza.


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Dave manages to clear it without incident, but the Corvette is right behind him.


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Charlie overspeeds at the second chicane. The sight of the C8 makes Dave reminisce.


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"Gotta admit, I miss that one. And... her...." Dave remarked.


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But clearly nostalgia is out of the list, as the Giulia and the Veyron are fading away from his sights.


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"Those two are really going at it, huh?" Dave said.


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However, Dave has a new problem on his hands - the blue Diablo GT driven by Enzo Panizzi.


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"Fighting for the podium spot, I see?" Dave said.


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But the Diablo understeered at the first chicane's exit, enabling Dave to snatch back the 3rd position.


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Gerhard speaks to the radio.

"Dave, do not mind those two front runners. Just keep the position as much as you can." he instructed.


"Got it." Dave replied.


And so another lap begins. All Dave needs to do is to set some distance away to seal his spot.






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But he went in too hot on the first chicane, one of the many common mistakes among racers in Monza.


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"Crap!" Dave exclaimed.


Which gave the other racers an opening as he is to stop and let them through after that predicament.


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"Dropped to 5th." Dave said.



He breathes out a deep sigh.



"Gotta focus. I will get that back." he said to himself.






End of Page 2
 
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Page 3 - The Top Leagues


Dave has to regain the 3rd spot. He knows very well that this is the most realistic result of accomplishing this round.

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While he was able to regain somehow, the Diablo driven by Enzo proves to be a challenge.


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But of course, no one is perfect. The Diablo once again went off course in the first chicane. Dave seizes the opportunity.


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It's short-lived, however, as Dave notices the tires are about to run out of grip; as well as the fuel levels running low.


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"I'll box." Dave said over the radio.


"Okay, pit crew is ready." Gerhard replied.


Dave pits in at the 22nd lap.


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Neo's pit crew are in position, with the tires and fuel refill all prepped. As the AMG stops to a halt, the tires are replaced in mere milliseconds thanks to the pit crew sourced from a former F1 team by Gerhard. Only the refueling takes time.

Once the tank is filled, the AMG scurries off, along with the Diablo.


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"Great, both of us have fresh sets of rubber. At least we can have fun while the two are completely gone." Dave remarked.


Then the Diablo overtakes the AMG.


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"You really want to play, huh?" Dave said.


Dave makes another charge at the beginning of another lap, he brakes late to retake the position, but...


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...the car bounces off the kerb.



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Which makes it nigh impossible to recover on a sharp turn like Monza's first chicane.



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"Dammit!" Dave exclaims.


"Stay there, let others pass." Gerhard said.


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"Sorry about that." Dave said.


"Don't let pressure take over your head. We have to at least finish this race with a point in order to qualify for the top class of VLN. Finishing 6th will suffice for now." Gerhard said.


Dave can only shake his head in disappointment. But he has to comply or else things will get complicated. This is just one among the common possibilities when racing. Getting to the podium has slim chances, let alone reaching the top.


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"Okay, 6th it is." Dave said calmly.




*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 6 pm, the next day




Neo finished 6th in the first round, garnering them at least 2 points. While they didn't reach the podium, the result satisfies Gerhard. They can be sure of competing in the Nurburgring 24 Hours in two classes.


Gerhard suddenly approaches Takuma, who is setting the dining table.


"Can I bother you for a while? And... I plan on buying take out food for dinner." Gerhard said.


"Uh... sure, sir. What are we going to do?" Takuma asked.


"This is just between the two of us. Let us leave quickly." Gerhard said.


Gerhard and Takuma make their way to the exit, passing through the reception area in which Kevin notices the two.


"Mr. Gottlieb? Where are you going?" Kevin asked.


"We will buy dinner in a short while. What do you want?" Gerhard asked.


"I'm fine with sausages, thanks." Kevin replied.


Then the two set off.


After half an hour of traveling, Gerhard leads Takuma to a small shack. It was a bit dusty, but there are a multitude of power tools inside and with a covered car.


Wasting no time, Gerhard takes off the cover, it's a purple DeTomaso Pantera.


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"What is that?" Takuma said, as he stares at the wide stance, and its purple color that can make it stand out.


"Your father raced me using this." Gerhard replied.



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"Whoa... never really seen a Pantera in the flesh." Takuma remarked.


"After that fateful duel, the car was stashed, but your father never came back. Not even Sir Ben expressed interest. When I recovered and had the money, I took it and modified it further believing that one day you and my son will race once more. The paint was in such horrid condition that I had to repaint it. Pardon me that I chose the wrong shade of purple." Gerhard explained.


"No worries. But... he's going to..." Takuma said, trying not to ruin the moment.


"As his father, it pains me to see him suffer every day. But circumstances prohibit me from telling the truth. Ever since Kevin made that announcement, I am shedding at least one drop of a tear every single day. I consulted all the best doctors of this country and they all told me it's too late. Not even money and connections can save him. I was... so blind. Blinded by revenge not knowing my son is already on death's door. The most painful thing for a parent? When they outlive their children." Gerhard said, not letting even a single tear fall off.

Takuma briefly looks down in sadness. But then Gerhard places his hand on Takuma's shoulder.


"On that day, please do not hold back. Give my son the race he truly deserves." Gerhard asked.


"I will. I promise." Takuma replied and then proceeds to hug Gerhard to comfort the grieving father.




*********************************************************************************************************************



Location: McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, England
Time: 10 am, the next day





A Tuesday morning begins with Owen and Dennis Hatch arriving at the futuristic-looking McLaren Technology Centre located in Woking in Surrey.


They have an appointment with a technical director. Dennis is awed by the surroundings, even going around in some of McLaren's most iconic racing cars.


As they take in the ambiance, the secretary approaches them, and then leads them to the outside where they see a low-slung vehicle under covers.


The director finally meets them.


"Good morning. I am glad that you came over on such short notice. Mr. Rob Hatch personally commissioned this car for the both of you." said the director.


"What's underneath?" Dennis asked.


"Without further adieu." the director said as he finally takes off the veil.



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The car is adorned with the orange and black livery with Google being the main sponsor - similar to the current McLaren Formula 1 machine. The extremely cabin forward design surprises Owen.


"Wait a minute... it's too low. Our arses are going to literally touch the tarmac." Owen remarked.


"Not to worry." the director replied as he opens the front clamshell to give access for the driver. The director demonstrates how to get in and settle in the car.

The motorcycle driving position shocks the siblings.


"Wait, so we ride on it like we are on a superbike?" Dennis asked.


"Correct. The main differences being that you are still holding a multi function steering wheel typical to a racing car, and that the pedals are situated on their respective foot. Right one being the accelerator and the left one for braking. This will take getting used to, but this is actually the ideal driving position especially when you want to hit the apexes with precision. Not even a Formula 1 car can achieve that. Mr. Rob Hatch performed thousands of hours testing this car and he was extremely pleased." the director explained.


Owen smiles.


"Guess there will be no problems in the FIA WEC, then. Rob is always two steps ahead." Owen commented.






End of Page 3





 
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Page 4 - My Last Run



Location: Suzuka Circuit, Mie, Japan
Time: 4 pm, two days later



Just two days before the qualifying on Saturday, most of the racing teams including Neo had made it over to Japan in preparation for the Sunday's 2nd round.


For Kevin, the Japan race holds special meaning to him. As the team settle in their own paddock, Kevin is seen practicing his dance moves, as he plans a dance performance for his fans that he announced a week prior. Even Takanori and Takuma are part of it, with the latter clearly not in the mood.

"Sunday has to be special. Majority of my fans are based here." Kevin said.

"You sure do got a lot of energy." Dave commented.

"This might as well be my last run here in Japan." Kevin said.

"Oh no. Don't go around saying that. Didn't you say that we should always smile no matter how rough things get?" Dave said.

"I know what I said, but I have resigned to my fate. Hence why I chose to run the second round. I want to give the best performance for my Japanese fans. This country is so special to me. This is where I kicked off my social media career." Kevin replied.


The dance in question is "PonPonPon" by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, apparently the dance that Kevin performed that made him viral in the social media world.


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Nigel approaches Dave instead of Kevin since the latter is in the middle of dance practice.


"Mr. Lempel, there is an 80% chance of rain this Sunday." Nigel said.

"Oh great, rain. I guess Japan is mourning for Kevin." Dave said.

"Extra measures have to be taken considering the AMG GT R is a high-powered FR." Nigel said.

"Duly noted. We do have Intermediates and Wets ready. But the Veyron is a real pain." Dave said.


Suddenly, Dave hears a loud, zooming sound coming from the main straight. He rushes out to identify.


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"What the hell was that?" Dave asked.

Nigel catches up with him.


"Oh, didn't you know? Yuki Kanonji-san is also part of the Super Formula Series. Though the start of the season is still far off, the VCARB team is testing the Honda SF thoroughly as early as now." Nigel explained.


"Busy guy. When can I get behind the wheel of a Formula car?" Dave asked himself.


"Having a criminal record restricts you from such opportunity." Nigel answered.


"Thanks for the vote of confidence. No need to remind me of that." Dave said.




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Meanwhile, Yuki is assessing the performance of the the VCARB Honda SF.



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"So far so good. Hopefully I make these guys proud." Yuki thought. There is still anxiety after all, as the VCARB team has a lot to prove in order to recover from their dismal reputation in the F1 circles.


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But then, Yuki shows confidence, still.


"The twins have gotten soft. Takuma is the most disappointing one, truth be told. But hey, no Kanonji stands in my way." Yuki thought.









However....








...he may have missed out on one.




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"Hmmmm.... I wonder what's for lunch? I hope Cesar brings his signature Jamon." Benjamin Kanonji asked himself as he tears up around the Red Bull Ring, thinking about his Spanish teammate's cooking.





End of Page 4
 
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Page 5 - Honda's Turf



Sunday, a special day for Kevin as he will be treating it as his last race in Japan, a country that brought him to social media fame.

Neo's paddock allowed access to his fans, though of course not everyone could get inside. And despite the threat of showers for today, the dance performance must go on. Large speakers are placed outside, and a space was given for the three racers to perform their dancing moves.


Though the weather was kind enough to cooperate, as there are bits of sunlight shining on the fans awaiting to see Kevin's final performance as a racer which will make it a bittersweet moment for everyone.


After everything is set, Kevin and the Kanonji Twins finally come out. But first, Kevin takes a microphone and delivers a speech to his fans.


"Good morning, everyone. Thank you all for coming to see my.... last ever race here in Japan. I have always thought that I will race in this wonderful country for many times in my life. But... here we are, terminally ill but still smiling and fighting. I will never forget my first days here, as an exchange student then getting fascinated day by day by your wonderful people and culture. You all showed me how beautiful and vibrant this country is, and next... that dance, the one we'll be performing... that dance that launched me to where I am today. It's so bittersweet, that I'll be performing this as my last dance. This dance meant so much to me, that it taught me no matter what we go through, we have to keep smiling. I hope that you will keep being happy for yourself and for your loved ones no matter what kind of adversities you go through. I honestly do not know when I will leave this world, but please keep that light of happiness shining.... not just for me, but also for you."


Kevin sniffles, but he gets into position. He then signals a cue to the technician to play the audio.

"PonPonPon" by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is now being played loudly. The three racers perform synchronized dance steps, and then eventually, the fans join in the performance.

"
Ano kousaten de
Minna ga moshi skip wo shte
Moshi ano machi no mannaka de
Te wo tsunaide sora wo miagetara..." Kevin sings the lyrics as he moves with glee.


At the back, Gerhard is seen shedding a tear, but showing a smile upon seeing his son dance.

"I wish I was that happy." Gerhard said to himself.



Kevin gets overjoyed seeing his fans joining him in the performance. After the performance, the fans then applaud. The three then bow in front of the audience.


"Thank you. Arigatou gozaimasu." Kevin said. Then one of the fans hand over a box to him. As he opens, he sees a chocolate cake with a simple, yet heartwarming icing message that says "Danke Schoen" which means thank you in German.

Then Kevin hugs the young man who gave him that present.

"This means so much to me. Thank you." Kevin said.

With that little gathering over, it's time to get to business.

Kevin will also drive for this race, as he wants to give his best performance for the bulk of his fans.


The cars are all lined up in a rolling start method, according to the qualifying results yesterday. To the surprise of no one, the Veyron once again takes pole.

But Yuki Kanonji is now placed on second.


"I have one special task to do here. But... I can't afford to lose either." Yuki said to himself.






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As the light turned green, all the racers set off.



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Yuki sets his sights on Alphonse.


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"I want to see if you truly are a racer, and not just because of the car." Yuki thought.


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Meanwhile, Kevin observes the two top racers. He notices something from Yuki's movements.



"What is Yuki doing? Is he that aggressive?" Kevin asked.



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Yuki puts Alphonse's patience to the test at the Degner Curve, sideswiping the Veyron and using it as a buffer to corner faster.



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"What?!" Alphonse exclaimed.


"You may be 17, but you gotta know now that racing isn't all smiles and sunshine!" Yuki said.



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Kevin is appalled at the act.


"Never knew Yuki can do that." Kevin remarked.



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This shakes Alphonse, who felt that he was inches closer to death, and he got a brief glimpse of Yuki's cold stare, even if covered by a helmet visor.



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"I still have legions of fans here, even after throwing my Japanese citizenship away." Yuki said.


Also, Kevin is struggling to overtake the Giulia.



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"I'm impressed. Now I see why Giulias are praised by car reviewers lately." Kevin commented.


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Yuki increases the gap. The Veyron isn't the only one showing impressive traction on corner exits.



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Starting another lap, Kevin's pressure pays off.


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Giacomo overspeeds on the first bend, making the Giulia understeer and provide a huge opening for an overtake.


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However, the rain decides to join in the fun...




Gerhard communicates through his son.


"Kevin, the precipitation begins." Gerhard said.


"Copy, Mr. Gottlieb. I'll box later. Grip is still fine." Kevin replied.


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Yuki decides to switch tires and refuel.



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For now, overtaking Alphonse is Kevin's priority.


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But clearly the precipitation gets heavier every second. Yuki is regaining ground as he swiftly overtakes the cars struggling to get traction on a wet surface still running on slick tires.


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Kevin finally takes the lead at the Casio Triangle, but would he hold on considering the worsening conditions?



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Yuki finally catches up to the top ranks.


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"Fools. I admire your persistence, but such strategy is frowned upon in F1." Yuki remarked.


The NSX finally retakes the lead as the AMG GT R oversteers at the Casio Triangle, prompting Kevin to finally box in.


Gerhard says "Box. Box. Box." to Kevin.


"Copy. Intermediates." Kevin replied.





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With a fresh set of Intermediate tires and a refill, Kevin sets off.



"You are 20 seconds behind Yuki." Gerhard said.


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Kevin firms his grip on the wheel.




"Got it." Kevin replied.



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The pressure gets to Kevin. He has to deliver to his fans after all, claiming that this will be last race in this country that he holds dear.


However, Yuki pits in again.



"Yuki pits in once more. Now's your chance, Kevin." Gerhard said.




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Kevin finally takes the lead, which prompts the fans at the grandstand to cheer even louder.




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"I hope you are hearing the cheers of your fans, Kevin." Gerhard said.



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However, it's not yet time to celebrate. The race is approaching halfway, and circumstances can change in a blink of an eye.



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"Are you seeing this, Maximilian? My flesh might be giving away soon, but my fighting spirit still lives on!" Kevin said.





End of Page 5
 
Last edited:
Page 6 - Agitation





Kevin finally takes the lead, but there is no breathing room.

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The Veyron breathes down on his neck.


"Veyron right on my tail." Kevin said over the radio.

"Stay calm. Just look at the front." Gerhard responded.


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Kevin sees a Scirocco, and uses it as a wall to slow down the Veyron.


"I'm lapping the Scirocco. Blue flag." Kevin said.


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"Block him for me, will ya?" Kevin said.

The strategy does work, as the AMG sets a considerable distance from the Bugatti.


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But that didn't last long as the Veyron has superiority when it comes to traction and straight line speed. All of Kevin's methods of defending the lead were for naught.


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But Kevin has noticed something...



"Alphonse has gotten more... aggressive. I think Yuki agitated him." Kevin thought.


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And speak of the devil...


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"We're not done yet." Yuki said, as he has caught up with the two once more.


Yuki takes the 2nd spot as he overtakes Kevin on braking approaching the Spoon curves.



"Oh great, he's back." Kevin remarked.


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"Aren't you done playing?" Kevin said.


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The spat between the two isn't over... clearly. The rain has stopped falling.


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"Don't you see? I am testing you." Yuki said.


Yuki then briefly remembers a meeting with Peter Bayer before the championship even began.



"You have a special task, Mr. Kanonji." Peter said.

"What is it?" Yuki asked.


"Scout for potential candidates in the championship. And do it the only way you know how." Peter replied.

"You mean...?" Yuki said.

"Weren't you a street racer in the mountains of Japan back then? I asked the locals about you, you know? They said that you gave your opponents a taste of death to make sure the race becomes more entertaining. You basically triggered their fight-or-flight responses." Peter explained.


"Heh... I think you are the creepy one." Yuki commented.


"Formula 1 is a true test of a driver as a whole. Drivers have their full potential always ready to be unleashed, as if it's only done by a push of a button. When you engage them, they are on attack mode, 100% of the time. What you are going to do is basically giving them a test. I will let you pick the driver. Is that clear?" Peter elaborated.



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"Sorry, but a job's a job. Don't take this personally." Yuki said, as he begins his charge once again.



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Alphonse can only look at the NSX scraping by his car.


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"Is he going to kill me?" Alphonse asked to himself.


"Even expensive toys get scratched every now and then. Don't be afraid of that!" Yuki said.


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The surface dries up enough for both Kevin and Alphonse to decide to box in and change back to slick tires.



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After the pit stop, both cars set off in new sets of slick tires. Kevin can already deduce the change of behavior in Alphonse.



"I think Alphonse is pissed." Kevin remarked.



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And then Yuki also decided to switch to slick tires.


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Yuki blitzes past the cars thanks to the slick tires able to grip well on the dry track.



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And decides to play once more after a few laps have passed.



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There is a downside to agitation, of course. It can lead to several mistakes, such as unknowingly driving on the wet parts of the track.


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"Merde!" Alphonse exclaimed.





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Yuki commits the same mistake on the 130R.


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Alphonse puts up a grin on his face. It's as if he hasn't experienced this level of fun.


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"So this is how the big leagues work, huh? Monsieur Montagny is right, this is an unforgiving world. Your innocence will perish in an instant." Alphonse thought.



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"En garde, s'il vous plait!" Alphonse exclaimed over the radio.


As if answering to the French racer's call, Yuki makes another move.



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With the Veyron pushed off the track, Alphonse slams his fist on the wheel.


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"T'es vraiment emmerdant, toi!" Alphonse exclaimed.


Louis hears the profanity over the radio, and responds back.


"Calmez-vous, Alphonse." Louis said.



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Moments later, Yuki enters the pit lane once again.


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"Huh?" Alphonse asked to himself.


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The precipitation once again begins.



"Gotta finish this lap quick." Kevin said.


"Box, box. Switch to Intermediates." Gerhard said.



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End of Page 6
 
Page 7 - Entrust



As the 2nd round nears its conclusion, the showers return. Save for Yuki, the competition struggles to find their footing on the wet.


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Which makes it easy for Yuki to climb up the ranks.


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Kevin caresses the car into the pit entry, hoping not to put himself into the similar predicament the 3rd place C8 Corvette has.


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With their tires switched to Wet compounds, they begin their charge on to the final leg.


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"I have to overtake that C8. I want to get at least a podium finish here. I want my last race in Japan to be memorable." Kevin thought.



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Kevin takes advantage of the AMG's 4 liter twin turbo V8 that gives a lot of shove when needed. Then he sees an opening at the 130R, aiming for the inside.


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"I gotta make this race worthwhile for my fans. Sorry, Charlie." Kevin said.




His hard work pays off, as the Veyron is in his clear view at the start of the final lap.


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"Mr. Gottlieb, final lap. Am I third?" Kevin asked over the radio.


"Yes. And please take it easy. You have no advantage over the Veyron in this surface condition." Gerhard replied.


"Figures." Kevin remarked.


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Little did they realize that they are inching closer to Yuki.



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"I'm close to the goal. I'm all out. I'm exhausted." Yuki said.


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Then Alphonse makes his final charge after the Spoon Curves, taking advantage of the four driven wheels.


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But so does Kevin.


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"Gotcha now. No way knowing what I'll end up with." Kevin said.

"Do not take further risks. Settle for third." Gerhard said.



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The crowd is holding on to the edge of their seats as they see the two leading cars clash just a few meters before the goal.


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Yuki's fatigue gets the better of him, rendering him completely stunned and losing focus on the Casio Triangle.


Plus the fact that the NSX is not a true four wheel drive car....

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Kevin gasps upon seeing the NSX losing control at the final bend.


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"Kevin!" Gerhard exclaimed over the radio.


Kevin lightly steps on the brake pedal...


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....just enough for the NSX to pass through. Then Kevin feathers the throttle to control the wheelspin. It's a nail-biting moment for all the spectators.


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The checkered flag is waved. Blue Streak is declared the victor of the 2nd round of the World Touring Car Championship. Neo finishes 2nd and Yuki was able to recover immediately and settle for third.


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Kevin then applauds.


"That was epic. I won't forget this. Thank you all." Kevin said over the radio.


Then he looks at the Veyron in front.



"You have guts for someone very young. You remind me of me a lot. I think the future of racing is safe on your hands. Bravo." Kevin thought as he keeps on clapping his hands.


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Once the victory lap has finished, they all return to their respective pit garages. Blue Streak is seen celebrating, with Louis hugging Alphonse along with the gleeful crew jumping up and down.


Meanwhile, Yuki writes down Alphonse's name on his small ledger.


"He is definitely formula one material. Kudos. I think a meeting is in order." Yuki said to himself.


And over to Neo, they are also in a festive mood. Gerhard gives his son a hug as well.


"Great job, Kevin. I'm sure your father is proud of you." Gerhard said.


"You bet he is. Well, I finally closed my chapter here in Japan. I can finally leave this wonderful country happy, and at peace." Kevin said.


Abel also arrives to congratulate his nephew.


"Great job. Well, you always win. I ran out of words!" Abel said.


"Thanks, uncle." Kevin said.

His girlfriend Mila Janson approaches him and the two share a passionate kiss.


"Love you, babe." Mila said.

"Love you forever." Kevin replied.


"Kindly get a room, you two." Gerhard said in a jest. This prompts the entire team to laugh.



Neo gets 11 points total after receiving 9 points for placing 2nd in today's race. Blue Streak accumulated a total of 20 points after that 1st place finish. Three rounds remaining, yet a lot can still happen.




A brief podium celebration ensues, with the French national anthem playing on the speakers. When the three racers step down, Alphonse inches closer to Kevin and taps on his back.

"Yes?" Kevin says as he turns his attention to the French racer.


"So you are Kevin Kern, right? I'm an avid follower of your gaming streams. I'm... really glad to have finally seen you in the flesh, and race too." Alphonse said.


"I am thoroughly impressed by your performance. You prevailed after everything thrown at you. That's the kind of resilience and fighting spirit I want to see. Magnifique!" Kevin said.


"Thank you. I am going to miss you too. I hope this won't be our last race." Alphonse said.


"Who knows? But listen. You have a promising future ahead of you. Keep on racing and don't let anything bring you down. I will be watching." Kevin said as he pats on Alphonse's shoulder.




Kevin then leaves, with Alphonse smiling but also feeling bittersweet knowing the fate of his rival. And then...



"Hey! My handle is AlphonseB17! CoD tonight?" Alphonse yelled.



"Sure! Let's play!" Kevin replied with a big grin.








Next round will be at Bathurst, Australia.





End of Page 7


 
Page 8 - Love



Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 9 am, two days later



After that bittersweet race for Kevin in Japan, the team returns to Germany for a little respite. Although Dave, Takuma, Takanori, and other members of the mechanical team head immediately to Australia in preparation for the next round with Julie supervising them. Kevin has another medical procedure to undergo, hence not being able to take part.




Kevin heads over to a special garage within the compound to inspect Gerhard's 930. And speak of the devil, the man himself also gets inside.


"Mr. Gottlieb." Kevin said.

"Ah, you are eager to race with Takuma-san?" Gerhard asked.

"Yes. Sooner the better." Kevin replied.

"Well, we can arrange that, after the third round. There is a two-week gap after that." Gerhard said.


"Oh that's great! Um.... well, I have been meaning to ask this for a long time." Kevin said. "How do you know of my father? Like, you even made the effort of fixing this one." he added.

Gerhard smiles, still keeping up with his act.

"Ah... well, I was one of his sponsors. I wished for one day to drive a race car, so I got some pointers from him. But the moment I heard he had tragically passed on, everything came crumbling down. I focused on building my business instead, until one day I found this in a very sorry state. It reminded me of his valiance, and to finally honor him, I decided to buy and rebuild it according to his vision. Too bad he is not alive to see this. He would have been very happy." Gerhard replied.


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Then Gerhard goes to open a special metal box placed on the side table, inside are keys for the 930.

"Mind if we go for a spin? I'll be careful, I promise." Gerhard said.

Kevin's eyes are filled with delight.

"Sure! But... I haven't seen you drive a manual. Is this okay?" Kevin asked.

"Don't be silly, of course I do. It's just that I have been driving electric vehicles lately. Let's go." Gerhard said as he unlocks the door and straps himself in the cockpit. Kevin gets in as well.


They set off for the Nurburgring, just a stone's throw away from the headquarters. Gerhard applies a little bit more of the throttle, and it prompts the 930 to squat down and blitz by in a few moments, hitting the speed limit in mere seconds.


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"I still can't believe how responsive the engine is. You swapped it, right? Because I inspected everything in this car after it came mysteriously in my garage long ago." Kevin said.

"Correct. The air-cooled engine has its limits. So I rang up my connections and they provided me a water-cooled engine from one of those 911 RSR racing cars. And remembering your father's preference to turbocharging, I simply respected it." Gerhard replied.


Then they enter the Nordschleife. Granting permission was effortless thanks to Gerhard's position in the FIA.


Kevin can only gasp in awe watching Gerhard demonstrating how to drive his pride and joy, still unaware that his father is guiding him all along.

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"Jeezus, you make this too easy!" Kevin remarked.

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"To clarify you, I am still terrified driving this thing. I just don't want to panic in face of pressure." Gerhard said.

"But you nail the corners perfectly here. I can barely even go full throttle in this thing!" Kevin exclaimed.

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"Oh really? I even reigned in the boost level of this car. It's currently at 600 horsepower." Gerhard said.

"600?! Gott in himmel!" Kevin said.


Rushing through the Kesselchen, the 930 clocks in at 300 kilometers per hour until Gerhard applies the brakes for the Mutkurve and Klosterkal curves.


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Truly a touching moment between father and son, on what could possibly be their final moments together.


*********************************************************************************************************************


The next day...




Kevin and his girlfriend Mila set off to the hospital. Gerhard takes charge in the headquarters. He then sees Abel entering the reception area. Gerhard clenches his fist, but not in anger. Rather, this is now the perfect opportunity.

What for?


"Mr. Abel Kern?" Gerhard called.


"Oh, Uwe Gottlieb! Nice to see you here." Abel said.


"Mind if we speak in private in the conference room?" Gerhard asked.


"Sure. Kevin just asked me to take charge here while he's in the hospital." Abel said.


The two men head inside the conference room as planned. Gerhard then rolls down the blinds and locks the door shut as Abel sits down.


Gerhard clears his throat, as Abel is beginning to feel anxious.


"What is this for, Mr. Gottlieb?" Abel asked.


This is it. The perfect opportunity for Gerhard. He takes off his glasses, and then his contact lenses are placed on a special liquid filled container. Finally, he straightens his mullet back using only his hand.


"Abel... do you recognize me?" Gerhard asked.

"Huh? What are you talking about? And... what did you just do?" Abel asked.


"It's me.... Gerhard...." Gerhard replied, with his voice indicating he is about to sob.


And then it finally hit on Abel. Gerhard's brown eyes and his signature mullet that he styled in his youth...


"Gerhard?!" Abel said, as he approaches closer to his brother, looking at every detail of his face.


"It is you...." Abel said in tears. Then the two men hug. They have finally reunited after almost 3 decades.


"Abel... I am sorry... I am truly sorry..." Gerhard said as he still weeps.


"You have no idea what you've put us through!" Abel exclaimed.


"You have every right to be angry. But I did this to protect my son..." Gerhard responded.


"Your wife died trying to expose Maximilian's schemes! Kevin is putting up this happy facade while crying almost every night! He was beating himself trying to keep positive and... you! What were you doing?!" Abel said as keeps on lashing out.


"I have to live a double life, even dabbling in some shady people in order to succeed and plan to put Maximilian to justice. I have to protect Kevin while giving bread crumbs to help him achieve his goal. I was deeply saddened upon finding out he is bent on revenge, as I am trying to make him avoid that and focus on racing. But what can I do? I have no choice but to go along! It hurt me so much, and now..." Gerhard explained.

"When are you going to tell your son? Huh? On his deathbed?!" Abel asked in anger.

"There is a proper time for that. Right now it is not good for him, considering that Maximilian is still at large. I cannot put him in danger. I don't know what to do right now." Gerhard answered.


"I cannot believe this. But what is important... you are back." Abel said.

"Until Maximilian is put to justice, I have to keep up with my act. So please... help me." Gerhard said, as the two siblings hug once more.





*********************************************************************************************************************



Location: Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit, Australia
Time: 10 am, three days later, Saturday





The week goes by without much incident, save for Kevin having undergone another painful chemotherapy session that rendered him completely bald.

The mechanics are hard at work as usual, then Takuma entertains some questions coming from sports journalists, in particular, answering questions about Kevin's health.


Naturally, this worries the entire Neo crew. But there is no time for that. They have a race to win. First is the qualifying.



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Dave also finds out that Czarina will take the helm on this round.



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But there is no room for feelings now, as he is to set a lap time.


"Impressive traction on the uphill." Dave remarked.


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However, Dave sees the temperature reading showing the engine overheating, prompting him to slow down.


"This is bad. Overheating." Dave said over the radio.



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Takanori then makes the response.


"Can you crawl it to the pit lane?" he asked.


"Yes, fortunately I am nearby." Dave said.


"This might be a DNQ. Oh boy." Takanori added.


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Upon entering the pit garage, the mechanics inspect the engine. And one of them brings a rather disappointing conclusion.


"Sorry, but it will take us the whole day to sort this out. We have no choice but to settle for DNQ." the chief mechanic said.


Dave scratches his head.


"All right. Sorry guys, I think I might have pushed too hard today." Dave said in a somber tone.


"No worries." Takanori said. "Things happen. But I know we can spring back up tomorrow. That's more important." he added.



********************************************************************************************************



The next day...




Race day. Third round of the World Touring Car Championship. Every race team is prepared, including NEO in which they finally mended the car's cooling system.


Dave puts his helmet on, and as he is about to put his gloves, he makes eye contact with Czarina. The two briefly stare at each other in considerable distance.


"You know the deal." Czarina said.


"Yeah." Dave replied.



Without further adieu, they return to their respective pit boxes. And then they are finally called for the rolling start formation.


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Dave firms his grip on the steering wheel. Getting to the top will be a tall order.


"I can win this. My future is at stake." Dave said to himself, as he clearly remembers the conditions set upon his release from incarceration.


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When the green lights finally make themselves seen, all 20 cars roar and begin their sprint.




End of Page 8
 
Last edited:
Page 9 - Moving Forward



Getting to the top starting from the bottom of the grid is almost an impossible feat only a few can accomplish. Some well-known drivers from various motorsports disciplines have performed this miracle, with results ranging from a win to at least a podium finish.

Will Dave be part of this elite group? We shall see.



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"I am doing this for the team... and for my future as well." Dave said.



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Takuma is taking charge of the communication.


"You can pull this off. Just... set aside your feelings." Takuma said.


"Ummmm.... this isn't really about... the two of us." Dave replied.


"Oh good. Actually better. Thanks for making that clear." Takuma said.



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The AMG sweeps past the lower tier, while Czarina keeps a consistent pace in the lead.


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The AMG GT Rs unique front mid-engined layout is helpful on gaining traction on the uphill.



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"Getting there." Dave said. Neo is now in the middle of the pack.



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Czarina has work cut out for her, either. She almost forgets the fact that Alphonse and the Veyron placed second on the qualifying and are ready to attack her.



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Which is demonstrated clearly on the straight.



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"Czarina is in P2 now." Takuma said.

"Oh great. That Veyron again." Dave says nonchalantly.


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Dave performs masterful footwork on the winding sections on the hilly part of Bathurst.


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"Nice. I always thought AMGs are peaky, German Muscle car counterparts. I am happy to be proven wrong." Dave remarked.


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Dave secures 8th.

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And proceeds to climb up, both literally and figuratively, through the ranks.



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Overtaking Yuki, Dave snatches the 3rd spot.


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"You're now in 3rd, Dave. Great job. Just don't overdo it when chasing the other two." Takuma said.

"Don't worry about it. This baby and I are in sync." Dave replied.


And with that being said, the AMG blitzes through the apexes, demonstrating the performance company's dedication to motorsports with years of racing know-how.



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Even Takuma is impressed with Dave's performance.


"Save for the straights, you are faster than even the Veyron in other sectors. Keep at it." Takuma said.



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To remain consistent, Dave uses the entire width of the track.



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Takuma observes the race leaderboard on the screen, impressed at how the gap quickly gets smaller.


"You're only 10 seconds behind P2." Takuma said.



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All of Dave's efforts pay off. He now sees a speck of Czarina's C8 on the back straight.



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"Gotcha." Dave says with a grin.



Then another lap begins, Czarina notices a car approaching, but cannot identify properly due to the sunlight's reflection obscuring it.



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And then she gasps...




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"Miss me?" Dave said.


Then at the hairpin leading to the straight, Dave uses the car to nudge Czarina out to create an opening.


"Mind if I shove you a bit? I have a race to win." Dave said.


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"What?! Whoa..." Czarina can only marvel at the sight of Dave finally keeping up and overtaking her.




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"All right Dave! One more to go." Takuma said.


Dave's hands clasp tighter on the steering wheel.



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"This is the start of my redemption." Dave replied.




"I've got a Veyron to catch. See ya later, Czarina." he added.





End of Page 9
 
Page 10 - Numbered Days




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Czarina is stunned at Dave's massive improvement in performance. She can only look at the fleeting image of that bright green AMG.


"He's massively improved. Credit to where its due, I suppose. No hard feelings, Dave." she thought.



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Consistency is key in racing, and Dave definitely took that in stride.


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"Finally took P1. Great job. Now, protect it." Takuma said.


Alphonse was taken by surprise too.


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"C'est magnifique. I thought the Italian will only be my rival here. Monsieur was right all along. Neo isn't just a renamed Dream Alliance." Alphonse remarked.


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"Sorry kiddo. I will take the trophy today. Impressive as you are, the racing world is always unpredictable." Dave said.


The AMG will soldier on without problems, and finally secured a victory for Neo.



*********************************************************************************************************************


Location: Neo Headquarters, Nurburg, Germany
Time: 10 am, two days later




Neo is such in a celebratory mood, having finally secured their first win in the championship. Every employee in the headquarters has their morale boosted.


There will be a two week break before the 4th round takes place at Trial Mountain in the USA. Kevin, looking completely bald and leaner, still keeps up with his happy and positive demeanor.

He then enters the gym, and he takes into heart that the doctors told him to only perform light work outs. He sees Dave, doing squats.

Dave notices Kevin and pauses his routine, the two men then exchange high fives and bro fists.


"Impressive! Congratulations on your win. Hehe. I wish I still have that kind of energy." Kevin said.


"Hey hey, don't be such a letdown. If it weren't for you, I would still be covered in grease working my butt off in every customer car and never racing at all." Dave said.


"Are you still planning to revive your company? And... now that you beat Maximilian's daughter, are you going back to America and build a career there?" Kevin asked.


"Not sure yet, to be honest." Dave replied as he puts the towel on a bench. "I think I have to expand my repertoire. I've learned so much great stuff here in Europe. Never knew that a lot of these legendary racing events would all come here. Le Mans, Nurburgring, F1... even WRC. I wanna try them all." Dave replied.


Suddenly, Julie enters the gym and interrupts the pair.


"Sorry to interrupt, but Kevin.... Czarina Marsh is here to see you." Julie said.


The two men briefly stare in silence.


"Oh... okay." Kevin said.


"Go. I'll be fine here." Dave said as he picks up the towel from the bench and proceeds to resume his squats.



Kevin and Julie head to the conference room. Upon entering, Czarina is sitting down, looking at Kevin across the table. She shows a concerned look on her face, seeing Kevin's state.

Julie leaves them alone and closes the door.


"Kevin. How are you now?" Czarina asked.

"Well, I could croak at any moment now. How about you?" Kevin replied.

"Still shaken... from the fact that I never had a loving father at all." Czarina answered.

"At least you still have a father." Kevin said.

"Better to have none rather than the one feeding you lies." Czarina said.

"You know, I may never be able to see the day your father be put behind bars, but the fight isn't over. I am not the only one with a score to settle." Kevin said.

"I'm aware of that. And every single day, I am making things right. As we speak, we are still looking for him, financial compensations were made. You don't have to do anything. Let me take care of this." Czarina said.


"Are you prepared to... turn your father in? Not everyone can do that." Kevin asked.


"I am. I am already prepared the moment he spoke the truth. It was painful, but that didn't stop me." she replied.


"Can I... really trust you on that?" Kevin asked.

Czarina breathes out a sigh.


"Yes. You can. I'll even let you hit him with your red helmet... just not that harsh." Czarina replied.


Kevin smiles. He felt the authenticity from Czarina's words.


"Okay. I'll leave you on to it. I guess, in a way, we have the same pain. I believe in you." Kevin said.

"Thank you. And I will not let you down." Czarina said. Then she stands up and heads over to Kevin's side. She would then hug him, with a tear on her eye. Peace was finally achieved between the two.


*********************************************************************************************************************


The next day, Kevin heads over to the garage at the crack of dawn. He then looks at his father's 930.


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"My time is near. I have to do this. I can feel myself expiring..." Kevin said. He then remembers his latest visit to the hospital, the doctor gave him the grim reality that he only has, the worst, days to live.


"I didn't choose to be hooked on in the hospital. I have to race him..." he said.



Kevin leaves the garage, having made his mind. He then walks briskly, until he sees Takuma entering the reception area.


"Takuma-san!" Kevin called.


"Kevin?" Takuma said as he got the attention.


"Let's settle this. Now." Kevin said.


"Wait. Hold on. Why?" Takuma asked.


"I want to use all that's left on me to give you the battle you will remember." Kevin said.


Takuma shows a grin. All concerns were thrown out the window at that moment.


"If that's what you want, then." Takuma said.


"I'll take full responsibility for what shall happen to me. I have already prepared for that as well. I would rather die doing what I loved." Kevin said.


Abel sees the two and joins in.


"What's going on?" Abel asked.


"Uncle, we will race. Nurburgring, at least two laps, just like the tale you once told me." Kevin replied.


Abel looks at his nephew with concern, but there's nothing he can do.



"All right. Just... be careful. And be back in one piece. Can I trust you on that, Takuma-san?" Abel said.


"Don't worry, both of us will come back happy." Takuma said.


Wasting no time at all, Takuma heads to Gerhard's shack as Kevin prepares for the race. He would then enter and start up the Pantera. Takuma revels at the noise the 5 liter Coyote V8 makes.


"Now that's a V8 engine I would want to hear all day." Takuma said.



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*********************************************************************************************************************


The next day, the Neo crew is at the Nurburgring, making final checks on the cars before the race begins. Gerhard and Abel are fully focused to make sure everything is in order, while Mila checks on Kevin's condition.



"Are you sure you really want to do this?" Mila asked.


"Yes. I have thought this through." Kevin replied.


He then holds her hand.


"Mila... when that happens... please... keep yourself happy. We've been through so much, and you never gave up on me. I love you. I will always love you even when I reach the other side." Kevin said.


"I love you, Kevin. Forever." Mila said in tears, and then the pair would lean and touch their heads together, holding their hands as tight as they could ever be.


Gerhard witnesses that moment, and can only fight back his tears. He now accepts the fact that his son will wilt away at any moment. But he cannot deny his son's wish either.


The conditions are perfect for racing. The sun shines brightly, with no chance of showers. The two cars finally start their engines and proceed at the starting point.


Gerhard reminisces that duel he once had with Michiharu, still fresh in his memory.


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"Are you watching, Michiharu? It's now our children's turn to clash." Gerhard said to himself.



All eyes are on the two resto-modded cars, launching away from the starting point.


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Kevin firms his clasp on the steering wheel as he observes Takuma.


"Before I disappear from this world, I want to make sure that I can fully entrust you to shape the future of racing." Kevin said.


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"You've been on a slump for far too long...






....AND I WILL WAKE YOU UP!" Kevin exclaimed.







End of Page 10












 
Page 11 - Restored



The fated duel commences. Two restomods with renewed mechanical vigor resuming their decades-long contempt.


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Kevin gets mesmerized by the Pantera's pace. With the modern 5 liter V8 under the bonnet along with a lighter weight, it compensates for the lack of turbocharging that the 930 has.


"Panteras are rare even in Europe. Never knew they can go that fast." Kevin remarked. He steps hard on the throttle.


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After passing the Aremberg, the 930 makes ground.


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"I can't believe how much traction I'm getting from this. I think I am no longer afraid of this car." Kevin thought.


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"911s are tough to deal with, I give you that. But man... this car is a beast. Wish my father is still alive." Takuma said as he is in awe with the Pantera's performance.


However, the praising will have to wait...



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"Argh! I forgot. He was once under Walter Rohrl's wing!" Takuma said.



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Takuma hugs the inside, but the kerb was rather high, bouncing off the Pantera.


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And lose control in the process.

"Ah!" Takuma exclaimed as he fights off the oversteer with a full opposite lock. Kevin reflexively applies the brakes to prevent contact.


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"Hey hey... I should be the one being sickly and weak. Are you still in a slump?" Kevin asked.



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"I have to be honest. I was sorely disappointed in you the moment you left Dream Alliance after Hiroyuki's death. I thought you will be the one setting everything right in the racing world." Kevin said, as he now makes a move to overtake his rival.


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"Now I want to see the Takuma who sets the racing world ablaze! Grant me that wish before I die!" Kevin said.


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Takuma's eyes widened upon seeing the sudden increase of speed from the 930.


"Kevin's going all out now. Damn... I can't play any longer. Guess I have to grant a dying man's wish!" Takuma said.





"I'm fired up!"







End of Page 11
 
Page 12 - Fade




Kevin takes the lead, as if sending a wake-up call to Takuma.


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Takuma does not give any quarter either, taking advantage of the V8's power.


"All right, Kevin. I'm all fired up. I applaud your bravery for telling me that I wasn't at my right state back then. I respect people who tell those things bluntly." Takuma thought.


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The two cars rush into the left hand kink. It may look simple, but it's actually one of the Nordschleife's most dangerous turns. It's a test of a car's high speed stability and the will of the driver.


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However, Kevin prevails as Takuma hits the brakes due to his unfamiliarity to the car.


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"Be lucky this is my first time driving this." Takuma remarked.


The two cars blitz by the starting point to start the second, final lap. Gerhard and Abel watch with anxiety.



"Gerhard, Kevin will give in at any moment." Abel said.


"I have already requested paramedics beforehand. They are ready in case..... the inevitable happens." Gerhard replied.


Then, also watching with worry, Dave and Takanori make remarks.


"I guess your twin made a profound impact on Kevin, huh?" Dave said.


"You have no idea how much my twin struggled not only to fulfill his dreams, but also change the racing world. Kevin's motivation to fight came from him." Takanori explained. "I'm thankful that Kevin never gave up on him especially when we got downtrodden. He was the one who made the move, and lit my twin's heart on fire." he added.


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The 930 displays impressive speed through the consecutive turns of the first sector.



"Kevin. Give everything you got! I know that sounds cruel... but I want this battle to be memorable!" Takuma said.



Music: Elements of Trance - ACM (DJ Kim's Reload Mix)

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Meanwhile, Kevin coughs hard. And another wheeze.


"This is the sign." Kevin thought.


A sign of impending doom, it seems. This provided an opening for Takuma to catch up.


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"I can't die until I see the real dragon in front of me!" Kevin exclaimed.


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"I've never focused this much before. I'm much more alive. Thank you... Kevin. You truly woke me up." Takuma thought.


And then he makes his final charge before the long back straight.


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Just as the 930 dives in the little Karrusell, the Pantera steals that line.


"This battle is mine!" Takuma exclaimed.


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Kevin finally shows a grin, having been satisfied that his efforts paid off.


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Kevin uses the Pantera's slipstream and lines up along Takuma. Then he turns his head to his left and...


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...shows a thumbs up. Takuma notices this, and returns the gesture.


"Thank you, Kevin. Let's just finish this race." Takuma said.



And as a final sign of Takuma's renewed vigor, he charges full throttle on Tiergarten.


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Kevin, with his waning strength, utters his final thoughts.



"Finally.... I can entrust the future... and my dreams... to you..."


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"Auf Wiedersehen."


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Kevin has lost consciousness, resulting for the 930 to hit the barriers and slow down on its own.


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Seeing the crash, Takuma stops.


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"Kevin!" Takuma exclaimed.



He makes a quick dash to the red 930. Upon getting there, he opens up the passenger door. He sees Kevin, head slumped on the left. Takuma removes the helmet and the balaclava.

"Damn!" Takuma exclaimed, and then reaches for his phone in his pocket, calling Gerhard.


"Mr. Kern! SOS! Kevin has lost consciousness!" We're here at the final corner, just at the pit entry! Call the paramedics!" Takuma exclaimed over the phone.


"On it!" Gerhard said.


Gerhard's worst fear is finally coming to fruition. He tearfully calls the paramedics, instructing them to rush to the location.


"GO! MY SON'S LIFE IS AT STAKE!" Gerhard desperately exclaimed.


Mila hears that expletive, making her bewildered. But the questions are to be saved for later, as she also makes a run for it.


Back inside the 930, Takuma shakes Kevin.


"Hey, Kevin! I TOLD YOU NOT TO DIE ON ME, RIGHT?! WAKE UP! WE'LL CELEBRATE THIS TOGETHER!" Takuma shouted, with tears starting to flow down his cheeks.


The paramedics arrive, and quickly secured Kevin on the stretcher and then inserted to the ambulance, with Gerhard coming along.


As the ambulance makes haste, Gerhard holds Kevin's hand, and then he leans his head on the fist, and then...



...Gerhard weeps.









End of Page 12
 

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