Y.O.T.B.R. - Finale + Epilogue

Discussion in 'GT5 Race Reports' started by FireEmblem10, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. MiuraSV777

    MiuraSV777

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    Alfa romeo?
    Citroen c4?
    Volvo s30?
    Renault clio?

    V6, premium, Red, import, left hand drive, european.... And Hatchback, based on picture....
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  2. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Clio it is.
     
  3. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Slight error in judgment notice - the next chapter has been delayed because of my desire for a certain car, specifically the '69 Ford GT40 Race Car - it'll show up in my UCD in 4 game days, and once I realized that I needed to get more money to buy it, I went and loaded the save I had placed on my USB (after winning the 15th Anniversary Time Trial event.)

    In doing so, I learned something new - that the Daily Login Bonus resets as well when you back up your save, meaning I just have to wait it out until I'm back at 200% bonus so I can use my cash cow races in order to get the GT40. (PD did me a favor by putting the prize for the new Seasonals as the Toyota 7, which is the only non-premium racing car I need besides the GT40.)

    Next chapter should be here on the 29th-31st of May.
     
  4. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Well... I'm reporting the passing of a family member. The PS3 has YLOD'ed, around 3:32 PM, Eastern Standard Time. I knew him for about a year, and during the time I spent with him, he became one of the greatest friends I ever knew.

    I'll miss you... until I fix the damn thing. Not going down without a fight, not losing my gamedata, not starting fresh. Resurrection time is nigh, and I will fix it.


    That being said... I will have to put the fanfic on hold after the 19th chapter, since that's where I had gotten the pics done up to. If someone's willing to continue the picture work (and doesn't mind having the story spoiled if they can guess what the locations mean) then by all means the story will continue.

    I COULD write and post chapters without pictures, but I don't feel that that's the right way I want to do things. I'm not abandoning this fanfic, not after I've come this far. The PS3 will be fixed, and now that school is ending I think I can devote a lot of time to getting it fixed.

    I'll have it fixed, come hell or high water. Peace out for now, might be on to post the next chapter tonight.
     
  5. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Damn the pictures, full speed ahead!


    Chapter Fifteen: All My Life

    Later in the day;

    “So... this is your adopted daughter? She seems very shy, but very beautiful.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    “Stop calling me that, you're older than I am...”

    “Common courtesy is well received by anyone in a position above your own.”

    “Does that mean you're just sucking up?”

    “No, sir.”

    “:censored:. I won't win this, will I?”

    “No, sir.”

    “God help me...”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “So, how was the experience?”

    “Very nice, everyone there seems to like me even though I didn't really talk to anyone but the black-haired lady...”

    “Isard, Ysanne Isard. An old friend, if you will.

    “What is her connection to you?”

    “She drove on a racing team I formed for a few years. Was the only driver who could consistently evenly race with me, and beat me regularly.”

    “She's that fast of a driver, too?”

    “Speed in a car means nothing if you can't handle it.”

    “Then why do you drive slow now?”

    “Because I don't know if you can handle the way I drive when I actually care.”

    “Okay... then try me.”

    “Fine.”

    I took my right hand off of the wheel and rested it on the shifter.

    Wait for the flash of the light... three... two... one...

    All 300 horses of the turbo brick screamed out as I slammed the gas down.


    Quickshift into 2nd, then 3rd...

    “There's a turn coming up, you know...”

    I tapped the brakes enough to shift the weight forward, then swung the wheel quickly right, then left, then right again as I kept the throttle down, making sure I was consistently centered in the lane.

    The tires began singing their unearthly song as I drifted through the turn.

    “I noticed... you're constantly precise, never moving more than the required amount. Like a surgeon.”

    “At least you see that much precision. Most people don't look for it.”

    “You told me I couldn't handle it... and I'll prove you wrong.”

    “That really wasn't the point of doing this, you know...”

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Back at the house...

    “So, Ms. Isard was telling me...”

    “Hmmm?”

    “She was telling me stories of how you used to be... you were married and had the perfect life. What made you start doing this, and how did it fall apart.”

    Dammit, that's what I was afraid of...

    “Yeah, I did have the 'perfect' life. But... I wasn't happy.”

    “But you had everything going for you...”

    “No. There's a story about the perfect life... two, in fact. Take the man who is perfectly happy in his life, with nothing bothering him. If he looked in a mirror, what he'd see was himself as he was, with nothing changed.

    That was something I couldn't achieve. I looked in the mirror, and saw the ideal of what I wanted – and never could achieve it. I never realized it until a late night about a year or so ago... perfection is impossible if you lack the elements needed to achieve it.”

    “What are the elements of perfection, then?”

    “Contrary to what people think... They include a sense of justice, the quality of kindness, the ability to care for others, love of others... Only then can you find inner peace.”

    “That seems centered on only others...”

    “Would you rather be focused on what you want, versus the rest of the world? When one man rises above the rest, the undertow will drag him back down. Such has been my life.”

    “... You don't seem bitter about it, though.”

    “I'm not. I saw my errors, and I'm taking steps to correct them.”

    “Ok... then what about your wife? Did you love her?”

    “Yes... enough to give my life for her.”

    “Then... why haven't you called her to let you know you still love her?”

    “She believes me dead, and for the sake of her life... I'd rather it be a deception that I am dead and gone.”

    “...You're a hypocrite.”

    “How so?”

    “You just said that the essential qualities of a happy life include the care of others, yet you hide yourself away, saying that you 'care' too much for her to show your face ever again.”

    “...”

    I grew silent, because... she was speaking the truth. Why am I so blind sometimes? I can't see the essential things in front of me, plain as day...

    A single tear rolled down my face, burning me deep inside with what I had done. I threw it all away because I had been blind to everything around me, except what I wanted – and I thought my way was the only way that should be followed.

    In this, I truly had become my father...


    “Are... you crying, Daddy? I didn't mean to hurt you... I'm sorry...”

    “Don't be. Sometimes we need reminding that the biggest problems are the ones staring us in the face, and we ignore them and turn away.”

    I slowly rose, with finally a sense of purpose in my heart...

    “Get ready to go out again... this might be a bit of a trip. But first... I need to make two phone calls.”

    “Okay...”

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Hong Kong, China;

    “Sir... wake up. It's urgent.”

    “Why are you disturbing me...”

    “Someone is calling, asking for you alone.”

    “...Fine. Put them on...”

    Probably one of my lieutenants, calling me to ask whether to murder a target or to let them live...

    What followed was the biggest shock of my life.


    “Hello? What do you want?”

    “Hello, Han.”

    I very nearly dropped the phone in shock. That voice...

    “John? But... you're dead... is this some kind of a joke? Not funny...”

    “No. It's me, very much alive, sadly. I know you wanted me dead before, and you achieved it.”

    “Then...”

    “Ever heard of a criminal organization called the Wind Stars?”

    “They're the biggest threat to my life and empire right now. How do you...”

    “I was one of their experiments. They're playing with the keys of death and life, and I'm an end result.”

    “That explains your metaphors about life and death...”

    “Who in the hell is that?”

    “My adopted daughter. On to business, though... I want to apologize.”

    “That can't be the only reason you called me.”

    “Sorry to disappoint, but that's the only reason. I can't ever make up for what I put you through... and you were right to want me dead.”

    “Then why call me, if you knew I wanted you dead?”

    “Recently I was reminded that I was being hypocritical... and I'm trying to make up for it.”

    “You still drive? Because you'd lose against me...”

    “I no longer have a passion for it. It's a way to get me back and forth from work now, because I'm too damn cheap to take a bus, and with a daughter... it wasn't efficient enough to stop driving altogether.”

    “...You're not lying, are you?”

    “I can't lie in good conscience without someone reminding me that I'd be even more of a hypocrite...”

    “He's not lying!”

    “Wait a minute... I thought you HAD a daughter already...”

    “That's part of the original thing I need to ask about.”

    “So you DID have a second agenda...”

    “No, it's part of making up for my past sins, as I said earlier. Do you know where I can find Emily?”

    “...I might. What would I get in return, though?”

    “... A solemn promise to never bother you again for the rest of my days.”

    “Again, I ask... Do you still race?”

    “If I do, it's only with my job, which is working for a tuning shop as a test driver and mechanic. Otherwise... only on Friday nights, trying to discover what I lost.”

    “So you're still as good as ever...”

    “He was worse than he is now? No, he couldn't have been...”

    “If not better than I was. But, it's become a chore now... And a chore I despise doing.”

    “Hmmm... I know what I need in return from you...”

    “And that is?”

    “Well, I do have an idea... but we need to discuss it in person. Is there a place I can get in touch with you?”

    “Hmmm... I could suggest Mt. Hiroshima Pass, you know which one. In two days. I have off from work that day, so I'll be there.. around noon.”

    “That works. And, John?”

    “Yes...?”

    “Just to let you know... Apology accepted. And... I'm sorry for what I've done to you.”

    “Don't be, I needed it to see the path I need to take now.”

    “Fine... And you can reach your wife in Tokyo, near that one area you used to run around...”

    “Route 7, 246, any of the other well traveled hotbeds of street racing, or 5?”

    “7. She's been driving there recently, or so my sources tell me.”

    “Thank you. Remember, noon, two days' time, Mt. Hiroshima Pass.”

    “Understood.”

    “Bye now.”

    I heard the click of the phone as he ended the call, but I had a hard time registering it...

    So... the Wind Stars did this...

    “They should have left him dead and gone... but then again, he's been reformed...”

    “Sir?”

    “Nothing important. I'll explain in the morning.”

    “Understood, sir.”

    Fin Chapter Fifteen
     
  6. lbpomg95

    lbpomg95

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    Good chapter. If only I could remember any of the previous ones! Remember, if you need photos, give me a shout. I've got a lot of free time for the next month or two.
     
  7. Driving Park

    Driving Park

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    Great to see this back again. Loved the chapter. :tup:
     
  8. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Chapter Sixteen: Encounter

    That same night;

    “You know how I said that you were a crazy driver?”

    “Yes...”

    “I was wrong...”

    “Good...”

    “You're a maniac bordering on insanity.”

    “Why is that...”

    “Let's see... the speed thingy on the dashboard is reading about 150...”

    “Speedometer.”

    “That, whatever it is... And that's in miles per hour, not kilometers per hour.”

    [​IMG]

    “That's an issue?”

    “It's dark...”

    “So?”

    “You're putting both our lives at risk!”

    “...No.”

    “What?!”

    “I'm not being sarcastic, but I could be driving at 200 mph or 20 mph in this car... and you wouldn't notice a difference.”

    “You're that good? Seems like a bold claim...”

    “I drove this in a endurance race for the shop. I know every nuance of how to drive it. If I was putting our lives in danger, I would slow down.”

    “So you know everything about this car?”

    “The left front tire is at... 44.2 psi, currently.”

    “How in the...”

    “I am not lying, I know this car like the back of my hand... Hey... that's new.”

    “Haha, very funny. Could you please slow down a bit, though? I am getting scared...”

    “Sure.”

    I dropped the car down to about a speed of 75 mph.

    “Better?”

    “Yes, thank you, Daddy.”

    I wonder if she'll ever be able to see... that I really am doing this all automatically, like a machine slaved to do a task. I don't enjoy it anymore...

    Micaiah must have noticed a change in my demeanor, for she frowned at me.


    “What is it?”

    “You seem a bit sad now...”

    “It's because comprehension will sadly come with age. For now, just understand that what I said to Han about not enjoying driving anymore... it's all true.”

    “Why is it true? You're obviously very good, even with the inflated opinion of yourself that you have...”

    “...I don't have an inflated opinion of my skill, I'm speaking the truth. And it's because of that skill that I despise driving now.”

    “Why? I still don't understand...”

    “Imagine you're the ruler of everything, with no one stronger than you. You attempt to see who can best you, but none can. When you've done that for as long as I have, especially in racing cars, you begin to doubt how good you truly are as a driver.

    Once doubt sets in, you no longer can trust yourself as a driver. You begin to lose the passion for it, because of your 'invincibility'. None can beat you, so what's the point of even trying anymore to do it? Human nature is then to move on to the next thing in line, but in my case... I feel trapped by that. I can't escape it, even though I've tried my hardest.

    People view me as I once was with the ideal that I was the best in my field, and they aspire to be like I was, and to best me. That's not a good thing – for if we look up to a role model, or who we see as a role model... then I'm the devil.”

    “That's harsh on yourself...”

    “And well deserved, for what I became.”

    “...You're making me sad.”

    “Sorry... It's just that the past holds so much hurt that I caused others, that I don't know if I'll ever 'break even', or if it's even possible.”

    “It always is possible.”

    “Optimism can give you a lot of benefits, even though mine is sadly neglected.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Route 7:

    No one here tonight. Dammit.

    I had found a simple way to support myself and my daughter – take what little money that remained from my deceased husband's accounts, and use it to build a car for street racing, doing as he had once done himself.

    I was sure that there was more money hidden away, just waiting for someone to crack the codes in place, but even I couldn't do it. Once or twice, I had thought about returning to America to live with my parents, but after all the events of the past two years... it was impossible to face them, or my past life.

    “Hmmm...?”

    Car approaching... heavily modified. Could be a rich kid looking to impress the chick he's picked up, or could be a highway racer like myself in want of a good battle...

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I got the feeling that I had walked down the same path before, and indeed I had... that horrible night back in 2005. A seven-year absence is a long time, and since Federigo's death here... I had avoided the place with a single-minded intensity.

    [​IMG]

    Who knows, this may be a disturbance tactic that Han is using to draw me out so he can exact his revenge on me, but I need to follow this lead up. I had taken the shop car I had been given -with the condition that it be returned with the engine intact.

    I had no intentions of doing anything but bring it back whole, but the feeling was in the back of my head that it would be a dirty contest coming up...


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I looked in the wing mirror to see...

    [​IMG]

    “Yellow... Scion... FR-S. Interesting...”

    Odd. It's obviously left-hand drive, which means it's an import or was made that way but never shipped out to the United States.

    [​IMG]

    The banana pulled in behind me, and the driver stepped out.


    “SSW Tuning... walking advertisement?”

    I got out myself, and slowly walked over. You can't take any chances, especially in street racing. I mentally checked to see if I still had the gun in the wrist holster...

    “I'm assuming you're here to challenge me.”

    “That's not the true reason, but we'll start with that. What terms and conditions do you ask for?”

    “Standing start at the end of the on-ramp, one and a half laps, the ending point is the suspension bridge.”

    “I suppose that will do... and any monetary sums involved?”

    “100,000 yen if you win, same from you if I win.”

    “Hoo boy, you've got to be :censored: me... Fine, that works...”

    “Let's get this over with, then.”

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “That much?”

    “Sadly. Money seems to be a motivating factor in her driving, although I did notice a few things... The wrist holster for a gun, for one.”

    “Meaning...”

    “I'm assuming and hoping that it's merely for security and personal defense reasons, and if it's otherwise... I'm sorely disappointed.”

    “Then find out, by winning. I KNOW you don't have THAT much on you...”

    “You'd be surprised.”

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Hong Kong, a local street;

    [​IMG]

    Talking with Druten had set me on edge. Not in the brains side of the aspect, but in the automatic routines I had devised as a means of keeping myself focused.

    [​IMG]

    Even hooning my way around the streets tonight... it was as if I'd never driven here before.

    [I]Damn, this sucks!
    [/I]
    [​IMG]

    I just need to focus. I need to stick to the plan, and keep my head up. Otherwise, I'll get knocked on my butt and can be taken advantage of.

    My focus wavered for a moment – or was it my physical connection to the car and road? – and I drifted wide.


    [​IMG]

    No! Stay off the wall!

    I tried to pull out of it, but my physical strength felt nonexistent, for some odd reason, and it skewed back into the wall...

    [​IMG]

    I hit a solid concrete wall at around 95 MPH, and instantly succumbed to the blackness.

    [​IMG]

    Fin Chapter Sixteen

    (Concrete wall? No, I accidentally hit an air wall while doing a lap around SSR5 for this chapter and decided to work it into the story. In the replay, I skidded along the wall, past the end of the guardrail, and the magic airwall barriers did their worst.)
     
  9. lbpomg95

    lbpomg95

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    Ha! You'd be surprised the number of times I've hit that wall doing hot laps there! I guess it at least shows I was using all the track, hey? Quite badly as it turns out.
     
  10. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Just a quick update... Sending in the PS3 to be fixed tomorrow, no idea when the ETA for it getting back from Sony is. Might need a few cars from the story for a quick assist (really only the Amuse S2000 GT1 '04 in the stock white, possibly a blue Volvo 240.)

    Will go for level 40 before GT6 comes out. Here goes nothing.
     
  11. lbpomg95

    lbpomg95

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    Shouldn't be too difficult - I reached level 40 before the login bonus was added in about the same time - if you need any cars or help though, just ask me.

    By the way - when GT6 is released, I'll be starting my own Fan Fiction, assuming exams don't weigh me down too much.
     
  12. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Chapter Seventeen: Banana Vs. Strawberry

    “There are some things you're going to be wanting to look for in her driving. Assuming she hasn't changed, and I doubt she has... Her cornering is fast, but very reckless. She'll also burn me off the line, because I'm sure that the gears, or specifically first gear through third, are tuned for pass racing.”

    “Then what is this set up for?”

    “It was run at Fuji, and therefore it's geared more for mid-to-high speed ranges. First gear is a bit slower, plus there's a large amount of turbo lag at the start.”

    The guy motioned me forward slightly, and then stood in front of our cars.

    [​IMG]

    “In FIVE... FOUR... THREE... TWO... ONE... GOGOGOGOGO!!!!!!!”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    One of the reasons I chose this car is for the weight distribution. I'm assuming that the banana has had its weight distribution altered as well, because the thing, although light when stock, is slightly front-heavy.

    Off the line, he fell behind me, and I could hear the wastegate
    whooosh as he upshifted into 2nd. I think I get why he was slower off the line than I was – his transmission settings have to be geared for high speed, unlike mine, which are set for low-speed pass racing – at least until 4th gear, which is when things get kicked into high speed.

    Cheap tricks like he's pulling... they won't work against me.


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    “Trying to pressure her?”

    “Somewhat. One of her weaknesses was focusing too much on the opponent, and not the course. This is a wide highway, but even with the amount of wiggle room given here, if you focus on your opponent, you can make mistakes.”

    [​IMG]

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Damn... he's good. All his fancy high-class speech were window dressing compared to how good of a driver he is. And the car he's driving... it has excellent balance.

    Thing is... by the way he took it off the line, I'm assuming that it's a single turbo, possibly peaky. At the risk of sounding like Keisuke from Initial D, he might lose it if the balance it has is disturbed.


    [​IMG]

    I wonder if he's susceptible to dirty and aggressive driving, even though he's refusing to push me out of the way despite having slipstream and a sure-fire talent level to make a pass at these high speeds.

    Seems like he's making a move... Can't let that happen!

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    I registered the scraping of the car against the wall with a bit of a surprise – dirty tactics this early? I haven't even shown my capabilities yet...

    “Ok... now I'm scared...”

    She dropped her speed, allowing me to surge ahead – and to be spun out.

    [​IMG]

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Oops... I wasn't intending to do that, but at least he won't be bothering me now, and I'll sail home to that money!

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    I never let go of the wheel during the spin. Micaiah did grab onto my right arm and leg during the spin, but as it came back around – I downshifted, slammed the thing into 2nd and punched the gas again.

    “Ohmygod.... Aaahhhh...”

    “Are you alright?”

    “Yes... just panicked there for a moment...”

    I could tell that the car still was intact although the bodywork was damaged... Might be enough to not reach full top speed, but still well able to drive, if not at full capacity.

    “Why did she do that?”

    “Don't know, but I intend to find out.”

    “She's long gone, you aren't going to catch her now!”

    “Wrong... she suffered suspension damage in the hit. May not notice it on the straightaways, but once she does a left turn... it'll show.”

    “So you think you still can catch up and win this?”

    “Yes... and you do know... I'm sorry for bringing you along and scaring you like that.”

    “It's fine... how did you know that the other driver would act so aggressively? All you can control are your own actions, not someone else's.”

    “That's true.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    It's over. No way he can catch back up.

    Still... Two laps is a long time, especially here... but nothing should happen.

    Here comes the left-hander leading into the turning circle...


    [​IMG]

    The Clio broke left, and I barely slowed down in time to avoid crashing head-on. As such, I glanced off of the retaining wall that had been set up.

    Agh... suspension damage. Could it be from when I had hit him? Has to be.


    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    “Where is she?”

    “Still a good bit of distance ahead, but did you notice what was on the side of the wall in the turning circle?”

    “Red paint all along the wall?”

    “Yep, she found out the hard way about the damage. Probably still driveable...

    [​IMG]

    but a lot less effective than it had been.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Going to have to slow down a lot here...

    [​IMG]

    NO! Still too much speed... and now there's a huge dent in the front. Dammit... the money I bet in tonight might all have to go to fixing the car...

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    “There she is... looks like she came in too hot and hit the wall here too.”

    “That strawberry must be strong if it can take that much punishment.”

    “Strawberry?”

    “Yes, it fits, right?”

    “And... I suppose that this is a banana?”

    “Yeah!”

    “God help me...

    [​IMG]

    “We're catching up!”

    “Called it, right in one.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    No way... He caught me! That can be slightly excused by the damage I've suffered... did he take more or less than I did? Or is my driving skill just not good enough to beat this guy?

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    No... NO! He passed me like it was the easiest thing in the world, and the narrowest section of the highway is in the tunnels – it's only two lanes wide, and I didn't give him any room to pass!

    This cannot be! I don't even have the money if I lose – I never considered losing a possibility! This can't be happening! I won't let it happen!


    [​IMG]

    Even if I have to wreck you again to win... I'll do it! I'm not like the other racers here – with this much as stake, I'll do anything to win!

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    “She's trying to pressure me into making a mistake, or trying to spin me out again.”

    “You letting that happen?”

    “No... but, I do have an idea...”

    “What...”

    “When she passes me, I'll show you.”

    [​IMG]

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    He didn't even block me that time? What gives? Is there something he knows that I don't – unless... he guessed about the suspension damage from the hit in the turning circle... and the penultimate turn, which is coming up... is a left-hander...

    [​IMG]

    “NOOOO!”

    It's over... I've lost...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The tears started coming down, tears, the like of which I hadn't felt since John's death...

    Fin Chapter Seventeen

    (Special thanks to QG for her role as Emily in the strawberry Clio.)
     
  13. Driving Park

    Driving Park

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    What a race. :tup:
     
  14. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Key:
    Black = John
    Blue = Han
    Purple = Micaiah
    DarkOrchid = Emily


    Chapter Eighteen: Confrontation and Mortality

    Time: Around 2 AM.

    I laid my head down on the wheel and cried. I had gambled in trying to do this, and I had lost. Maybe I'm just not good enough... and now I'll be in a serious hole of debt, and I don't know how to climb out of it.

    I...I've... failed....


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “:censored:... the shop's going to be pissed.”

    “Language!”

    “Sorry.”

    “How bad is the damage?”

    “Ummm... looks like the internals are fine, along with the transmission, suspension, and other important components. The bodykit... that's trash, except for the rear, the wing, and the decklid.”

    “...Why'd she do this?”

    “I think it's time to find out.”

    I slowly walked over to where the Clio was sitting, still wary and cautious. Can't know what to expect here... she might release the inner anger she sometimes had, or the anger she showed during the race.

    I wasn't prepared to see her crying, and being as it had been over a year since I had seen her... it cut me to the bone to view her with such... a lack of self-control.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “Go away... I don't have the money right now, I'll somehow get it to you... leave me the hell alone.”

    “That's not what we're here for.”

    “We?”

    In spite of myself, I looked up... to see a little girl grasping the man's left hand in hers. She appeared to be around four... with hair as dark as the depths of the night, and violet eyes with a piercing gaze.

    I dimly recalled I stopped crying at this point, and just stared...


    “...You brought along a child?”

    “Yes... and in retrospect, considering the intensity with which we dueled... it wasn't the smartest choice.”

    Instantly I was reminded of my own little girl, safe at home.

    “You could have hired a caretaker.”

    “I don't like the idea of putting someone's life in another's hands, and I avoid it unless it's necessary. Tell me... how is your own daughter?”

    How does he- Oh. Probably recognizes me... :censored:.


    “She's fine, albeit safer than yours was tonight.”

    Masked as he was by the Scion racing helmet, I could guess by the motion of his head that he grimaced.

    “That smarts...”

    “Sorry.”

    “Apology accepted, but not needed, considering I did this without thinking...”

    “And because you're too stubborn to leave me home alone.”

    “You're too young...”

    “In some ways, I'm more elderly than you.”

    Jeez... A grasp of language and of worldly concepts at that young of an age? Shocking.

    “I'm not walking around with a cane... maybe you should start doing so?”

    “Hey!”

    “With age... comes knowledge and understanding.”

    “I'm already learning that, Miss Emily.”

    Holy :censored:, how does she know my name?

    “Little more... tact... next time, dear?”

    “Oh. OH.... Oops. Sorry...”

    “Apology accepted, I guess. So... I'm guessing... that since you told a little kid who I am, you know much about me?”

    “What I do know about you is not truly how you are, though...”

    Odd answer.

    “Could you explain that for me?”

    “Wouldn't it be easier to show you?”

    The man slowly removed his helmet, letting long dark hair spill out in front of his face... To hide it from me, perhaps?

    When he whipped his head back to clear it from his face... My vision tunneled and I lost all notion of anything else in the world.

    He looks so much like John did...

    “See what I meant?”

    And the voice... but... he died, this can't be true!

    “I'm assuming that because of your bewildered expression... you don't believe that it's me. I can prove it to you... if you're willing to believe me.”

    That bitterness... Wow... if he's a fake... he seems deeply hurt inside... Could it really be John, though?

    “One question to make sure you're not a fake sham dreamed up to try to fool me into doing something stupid...”

    “And what would that be?”

    “When we first met... when was the first time you saw me in something besides jeans and a T-shirt?”

    “...”

    He began to pace, obviously deep in thought. I then noticed the little girl, seemingly lost without the man holding her hand. I motioned her toward me, and she came and sat in my lap.

    “What's your name?”

    “...Micaiah.”

    “That's a very beautiful name...”

    “Not many people thought so...”

    Surly attitude...

    “Why do you have an attitude like that?”

    “Because of him.”

    She pointed at the John look-alike still pacing.

    “Why is that?”

    “...He seems so sad inside. I'm trying to help him, but even getting him out here was hard, along with talking with that Chinese warlord dude...”

    What the hell is she talking about – Oh. Oh God...

    “What did he want from... this man?”

    “You mean Daddy? Ummm... he didn't say, but he wanted to meet with Daddy in two days at some mountain pass back home...”

    “I don't like the sound of that...”

    “Neither did Daddy, but it's eating away at him. Even during the duel with you tonight... he was quiet for a while. I don't think he was focused on beating you... he had other things on his mind.”

    “Do you know who you daddy is?”

    “Yes, your husband.”

    ...I don't think she's lying...

    He came over, and bent down over me and Micaiah.


    “It was in Seattle... you were wearing a red dress that you had bought somewhere... I was in sleeping pants and a red Toyota T-shirt, and Han... was in his boxers?”

    “Correct. But... John... is it really you?”

    “...Yes... as much as I think you don't want to see me prove it to you...”

    “No, don't take an attitude like that. Come here...”

    I reached my right arm up on his left shoulder and drew him in, while hugging Micaiah close with my left. He put his left around us both.

    “I'm... sorry... for not contacting you sooner to say I was still alive...”

    “Shhhh... We're together again... I don't think that really matters at this point.”

    Then... I slowly kissed the man I had so deeply loved, had so deeply mourned, and now was returned to me...

    Ahhh.... Bliss...


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    A hospital in Hong Kong around the same time;

    “Sir... are you awake?”

    Bleary and in pain, I could just barely let the doctor know that I was in fact awake.

    “I don't want to be the harbinger of bad news, but...”

    “Just... give me the facts... and the details.... however bad they may... be.”

    “Well... you broke your left tibia in two places... and damaged your nerves in your right arm. We repaired them both, but we did find something else...”

    “What... is it?”

    “You... have early... onset... Parkinson's disease.”

    That would explain... what's been troubling me... recently.

    “Is there a cure?”

    “Nnnnooo, sir. I'm sorry to tell you... but with the way the disease is progressing... you don't have much time left. Maybe a year at best.”

    I guess the shock finally registered... and a flicker of true panic ran through me.

    “So... I'm going to die within the year?”

    “Yes....”

    “...Thank you for letting... me know, Doctor.... lesser men would refuse... to tell me... to take advantage of my... passing.”

    “...Th...thank... you, sir...”

    “There is one... thing... I need to ask... you to do...”

    “And... and... and... it is?”

    “Just... look the other way... if I'm discharged within a day.”

    “U-u-u-understood, sir. I-I-I-I'll leave you now... do you need anything?”

    “A phone, nothing more.”

    “I'll have one brought in immediately!”

    He might fear me... but underneath... he's a good man. Why I'm thinking this right now is beyond me, but he at least understands the concept that I rule here... And even if he's scared, he had the guts to be the messenger boy. Admirable.

    He returned a short while later with a cell phone.


    “D-d-d-do you need any assistance, sir?”

    “No, thank you, I'm capable of doing this. Your concern is appreciated, though. You may leave now.”

    He did so, and I paused for a second before putting the numbers into the phone.
    What made me freeze, like before, I truly don't know, but I began to think.

    Who I call and tell about this determines how I end in this life, and move on to the next if there is one. If I call my subordinates... they'll try to take advantage of me as the disease ravages my body, and I may be helpless to stop it.
    Generally, that wouldn't bother me, as it is part of the Code of Leadership... when one rises above the rest, the masses will claw him back down to size. This is the natural course, especially in the world of crime I've immersed myself into.

    However... there's something inside of me... that says that I have the chance to make amends enough for myself... although how that would be possible, I don't have a clue. I'm as bad as they come...

    Maybe... I can do it. If John can do it with his life... then I can do it with mine.

    I slowly punched in a number that I hadn't touched in years, wondering if she still had the damn thing...


    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    BEEDLE BEEDLE BEEDLE.

    I fumbled for the phone, and upon finding it, hit the answer button.

    “Hello?”

    “Hello... is this Emily speaking?”


    What in the :censored:... it's Han?

    “Yes... hello, Han. How are you?”

    “To tell the truth, I'm not well... but I need to talk with your husband. Is he there?”

    “Yes, he is.”

    I handed the phone to John while mouthing Han's name, and his face fell.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “Yes, Han... what do you need?”

    “Can you be at the place discussed at around 8:00 AM? We really need to talk, the three of us.”

    “You sound bad... what happened?”

    “Yeah... trying to hang in there, car crash. I'll explain more tomorrow.”

    “That doesn't give us much time to get from Tokyo to Hiroshima, especially by driving.”

    “If I had had any doubt in your abilities, I wouldn't have asked. But... it's serious.”

    “Sounds like... life-or-death serious.”

    “It is. Sorry for cutting you short, but my people are here to get me out of the hospital, and for security reasons, I can't call you. And John...”

    “Yes...?”

    “Please make it, I'm counting on you.”

    He hung up, and I just sighed deeply.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “He said he was injured?”

    “Not specifically, but he was at a hospital... so I'm assuming it's bad. He hates them, and never would go in one unless it's very serious. Part of that freaking warrior code he thought up... to help him explain his... malicious activities.”

    “Why are you going to meet him at all?”

    “I guess I feel like I'm under an obligation... and this little one reminded me of it. Friendship is and should be forever...”

    “I guess that's true. So... I'll get Yune, and-”

    “Hold that thought... What about the cars? You can't drive that strawberry to Hiroshima in that condition...”

    “Same for that banana.”

    “Enough of the damn fruit already... How about... We leave them with a friendly tuning shop...”

    “You can't just say that to one-”

    “I work for one, and the owner is well respected. Now, as to a suitable car... I think I know where to get one.”

    “Is it fast?”

    “It can be... but is very safe.”

    “Good... because if you drive like tonight again...”

    John gave me a sheepish grin, and I smiled as well.

    He's so happy... I like seeing that... he never did get the chance to be a father, and now he will to both girls. That makes me happy, too.


    Fin Chapter Eighteen
     
  15. Driving Park

    Driving Park

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    Awesome. :tup: Can't wait to see how it goes with Han.
     
  16. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    It'll start well, but end in flames. Meaning I'll end this volume in the nastiest way possible, leading up to Volume 4 when GT6 comes out.

    Volume 4's only hint I'll give... is that I'm basically starting fresh. No one from the previous installments will be seen... at least until some point when I bring some of them back. IF I bring them back at all.
     
  17. Driving Park

    Driving Park

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    The mystery! The intrigue! :crazy::scared:
     
  18. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Chapter Nineteen: Bread Van(s) of Doom

    On the road to Hiroshima:

    Heck, I was tired. Sure... it was a medium-paced drive to Hiroshima, but... This wasn't a heart-pounding, blood-pumping race like earlier.

    Driving a GT-R wagon, though... is enough to make you want to go all out. I was restraining myself, because I could sense how the car just wanted to be let loose. The two girls in the back were sleeping peacefully, and Emily was happily resting beside me, with eyes half open and one hand on my left forearm.

    Seeing my daughter for the first time had been an experience that I had never thought I would ever get to do, and I did cry for all the wasted moments that we could have had as a family. It hurt to think that way, but I can attempt to make up for lost time... the four of us, finally alone together.

    Emily didn't seem to mind that in her and Yune's absence, I had adopted Micaiah; she had told me that “I'm happy that you found someone in need of your love... even though I know that you feel that you lack it.”


    I felt vindicated that my wife would think that I had managed to show my love to someone other than her... which, considering my past relationships with women... was something of a miracle.

    I wasn't planning for my life to be like this, but as I look back on the events of last night... it seems... comforting, in a way. Why it would be comforting that I nearly ruined a perfectly good car, and also my life, I don't know.

    Could be the knowledge that I still had all the driving talent – No. It's not that... it's that there's still someone who is better than me at driving. I only got lucky, that's all it was. In nearly seven years... Emily's skill behind the wheel is unmatched, even by me and despite her comments to the contrary.

    Maybe... it's time to start thinking of where I came from – the back alleys and winding roads of the Japanese and American mountain passes, and the teens and young men driving them. Could I give back to where it all began that way?

    Who knows.


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    7:55 AM, Mt. Hiroshima Pass;

    I wondered if there was a hidden meaning behind John's choice of this for a meeting point. The natural beauty of the region was astounding, and not something many would know about.

    I felt at ease, despite my pain, both physical and based on knowledge of my own mortality.

    “Sir... there's a car coming. Has to be him.”

    “Alright.”

    “You sure you can walk and stand?”

    “Yes... I have strength enough for this. Just be prepared for anything.”

    The driver's door opened, and out came a face that I had once admired, then hated, then was curious about.

    “John...?”

    “Han. Good to see you.”

    Same voice... this is the real McCoy.

    “Wish I could say the same, but I'm not in the best mood or shape right now. I'll be flat-out honest and straightforward, but don't take it as rudeness, if you don't mind.”

    “That's acceptable. So... you needed my services in return for the location of my wife.”

    “And were you successful in that endeavor?”

    “Yes.”

    “Alright... Sit down, and I'll explain it to you.”

    “Fine by me.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    He doesn't look well at all. Something's wrong.

    “What exactly does this service consist of?”

    “...I had an idea bouncing around in my head for the longest time, but there wasn't anyone skilled enough to do it. Now that I know you didn't die-”

    “Actually, I did, but that's a story for another time.”

    “Ummm... Ok... well, you must have known how I was caught cheating in the WRC.”

    “Yes. I don't fault you for cheating, it happens in any sport. You got caught, that's what I don't like.”

    “So you had no problem with it?”

    “No. To each his own... I couldn't control you, much like you couldn't control me.”

    “Makes sense when explained that way. Well... I'd like to show that I can be trusted and honorable.”

    “As in?”

    “Proving that I've been reformed.”

    “By racing again?”

    “Yes.”

    “You and I both know that I don't have the skill you do in rallies, which makes no sense if you want to recruit me for that purpose. Sebastian Loeb is just too good.”

    “It's not for rallying... it's for the 24 Hours of LeMans and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.”

    Really... I had won the LeMans in 2005, but lost the Nurburgring when I ran it due to an engine failure.
    Why, though? He has the skills to do it all himself... what's his motivation for having me drive? A team of drivers for a car?


    “I don't entirely understand your motive...”

    “John... I'm dying.”

    “What?”

    “Take my hand.”

    I took it, and what I felt was... weakness? He had tremors running up and down his hand... but why?

    “What's the cause?”

    “Parkinson's disease.”

    The same thing my grandmother had... the disease that ate her away.

    “... You want to go out in a bang?”

    “...No. I was thinking about what you had said during the phone conversation... about fixing the problems you had made in your life... and that inspired me... to change my ways before I die.”

    “Are you afraid of death?”

    “Yes... because of what will happen after it in this world. I'm disbanding the criminal enterprises as we speak, and attempting to give myself a good name before... you know...”

    “...I no longer... fear death. It's a natural part of life... or at least it was. Tell you what... I and Emily will both drive for you. It'll satisfy what you need and want, and do the same for me... I never forgot how badly I treated you, and... I want to make amends.”

    “So we have a deal?”

    “Yes... on one condition?”

    “What's that?”

    “I'd rather race a GT3 Class car in both races. It's safer.”

    “You, concerned about safety?”

    “Han, I'm an old man, getting older by the minute. Not so much my safety as my wife's and family's. It matters.”

    “...Alright. And... I'll find a suitable car, and let you know when it's time.”

    “Good. See you around.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I woke up as John was pulling into the driveway of his house. On outward appearance, nothing was special about it... but it seemed perfect for the idea that I had in mind for how I wanted to spend my life with him.

    Small, nice, well-equipped... it was perfect.

    I walked into the house holding our daughter while John unloaded the gear from the Stagea, and after we were all situated... we all fell asleep again.


    Fin Chapter Nineteen
     
  19. lbpomg95

    lbpomg95

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    Good chapter - I must admit, when I saw the title I was hoping for the Volvo 240 again. I mean, can you blame me?
     
  20. Driving Park

    Driving Park

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    I was thinking more of a white Subaru. :D

    Loved the chapter, as always. The title leads me to believe it's foreshadowing for something pivotal happening involving the Stagea.
     
  21. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    I actually don't have either car at this time - thanks to the dead PS3, I don't have many of the cars that were featured at this point, and that included the Volvo 240 and the Stagea.

    Once I end up finding them in the UCD, I might dupe some Restore Tickets, as I'm finding cars on my alt that I was looking for and need to restore (AW11 MR2 Supercharged, and the '70 Skyline GT-R.)

    And nothing pivotal in the title, just a reference from a long time ago.
     
  22. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

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    Chapter Twenty: Diplomat

    Date: April 22nd, 2012.
    Time: 7:00 AM.

    I heard the alarm clock ringing, a unique sound similar to that of the circus. Strange... John never used one before, he had the internal sense of when to get up to start the day.

    Of the changes I had noted before I fell asleep last night, one stood out. John had changed, and some would say for the better... but I do wish it were the way it had been. The house itself was cozy, but compared to what he had before, the interior was Spartan and lacking high-class items.

    Obviously... we still have money socked away in accounts, but only John knows where they are and how to access them. Could it be that he doesn't remember or know?

    “Em? I'm headed out, the boss called me in. Big project they're working on and they need my help.”

    He was up before the alarm went off?

    “..You awake?”

    “Yes, dear.”

    “Alright... I'll see you around 2, they only need me until then. I love you...”

    He gently kissed me on the lips, and I put my arms around him to return the affection.

    Then, he was off, and the noise of a peaky turbocharged Volvo resounded through the house.

    I went in to check on Yune and Micaiah, and both were still asleep.

    Strangely... I feel at peace. Serene. Is it because John's finally woken up and begun to focus less on himself? I didn't believe this all at first, thinking it was a ruse, but... I think he's sincere and truthful.

    Hopefully... he'll stay that way.


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Suzuka Circuit, around the same time, and in a heavy downpour;

    “May I call your attention here, drivers... Thank you. Today, I have some good news... and bad news. I'll give you the bad news first... This is the last Academy event. The good news... is that the winner of the competition will be decided here, and to explain what the winner recieves... my co-host.”

    “As many of you know, this Academy was set up to find the best young talent out there in order to give you an opportunity and a boost to get into the racing world. The winner of the Academy – actually, the top three finishers – will get to drive on the same team in two of the world's greatest races; the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and the 24 Hours of LeMans.”

    The shock that swept through the room could be felt in the palm of one's hand.

    “There is but ONE challenge this time... a 10-lap sprint to the finish, using a special car – the Suzuki Cappuccino tuned to racing specs that you drove yesterday. Starting order is determined by lap speed at the practice sessions that were held yesterday. The race stars in one hour, and it's time to go get prepared. The clock... is... ticking.”

    “Were the dramatic pauses really necessary?”

    “...Yes.”

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I affixed the helmet to my head, and began to focus. Now... is the time when you will show the world – and the television audience watching at home – your true strength. You may be up against the cream of the crop here, but it's nothing you can't handle.

    Just play the game how you feel it should be played, and the cards will fall into the right order in a flash.


    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    I walked into the tuning shop, where I saw the group clustered around the TV.

    “Good morning...”

    “Hey, Edmund, good to see you...”

    “What's all the white noise about this time?”

    “Just some racing academy thing that's going on... the winner receives a ride in this year's 24 Hours of LeMans.”

    Great. I'm assuming it's not the GT Academy and is instead the Wind Stars' scam organization... which might pose a problem if they know I'm going to be racing there.

    “Well... I might end up heading to France to see it. Got a good deal on some tickets early...”

    “Not bad, not bad. You'd be taking...”

    “My daughters and possibly my wife.”

    “You're married?”

    “We separated but never divorced, and got back together recently for the sake of the children.”

    “I understand... and I meant vehicle-wise...”

    “Probably a rental, I don't trust the Volvo as much as I used to...”

    “I might be able to get you something special with my contacts...”

    “No no, it's fine. I can make do...”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    [​IMG]

    Zero hour. This one's for all the marbles... and it's going to be similar to driving on marbles. Thank God the rain's supposed to let up at some point. And hopefully soon.

    Wet weather driving isn't something I bothered to practice, and I really haven't ever done it with any degree of urgency or need before. All that changed during the practice sessions – it was a heavy rain swarming in during the laps that caught all the drivers off guard.

    Three drivers crashed their cars, because they were out when the downpour hit – and they had racing tires on. I happened to have been one of them. I was able to have my car fixed, but the two others who crashed... had no chance of continuing on. The damage to their cars was just too severe.

    I honestly didn't know how the car was going to handle – I wasn't able to get in a flying lap before the practice session was over, and before the car had been crashed. I was able to hold on to my spot of 4th... but with barely any practice... my confidence was dwindling.


    “Three... Two... One... GOGOGO!”

    [​IMG]

    Still in 4th, I slotted in behind the three other real challengers to my dominion – Ricky, in the silver #45 in 2nd, Mei in the yellow #57... and that Rosalina person, running in first in the #10.

    [​IMG]

    Heading into the 4th turn, I swapped positions with Mei – and took off in pursuit of Ricky.

    [​IMG]

    Not good. I'm struggling with the understeer... and it's really affecting how fast I can make line changes to get through the corners, something I need to do with the wet weather conditions.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    “The kid in third's hella quick, but seems to be making mistakes.”

    In spite of myself, I sat down to watch. And... Fumihiro's statement was correct.

    The driver behind the wheel of the #93 had some serious speed. It wasn't because of his car – it was just his driving talent was that good.

    [​IMG]

    He went out wide again heading into the Spoon Curves... and I noticed what he was doing wrong...

    [​IMG]

    He was trying to make the car turn by just using the brakes and steering. In wet weather, usually the car's weight has an effect on how stable it is. Cappuccinos only weigh about 590 kilos in race trim., they're very light and maneuverable.

    The problem is that this is in dry conditions. In wet weather, the lack of weight means you aren't going to grip the road as well as in dry conditions, or with a heavier car.

    Stage 4 of Initial D was correct – in the sense that the car with more weight (and obviously more power) was going to do better on the straights in the rain. To counter this, the slower car would have to be far faster in the turns – and the driver in the Initial D episode did it by drifting through the turns by using the brakes, throttle, and steering.

    The driver here... he wasn't understanding how to corner effectively in the rain, and I knew that drifting in a race-trimmed car with gobs of downforce was out of the question.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't think much of his chances, despite his obvious speed and skills.

    :::

    The rain had finally started to lighten up. That still didn't take care of the surface water, which was bordering on small-creek-esque.

    Because of that, I screwed up my braking heading into the first turn after having passed Ricky...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But, managed to retake 2nd coming out of the S-curves.

    :::

    “He's back in second after his mishap... I'm impressed.”

    [​IMG]

    So am I, but I'll keep that observation to myself. I began to see where his strengths and weaknesses were – and I got the feeling that he hadn't done much wet weather driving. I dealt with years of it even when I was still in high school... and sometimes I would practice driving in the rain just to save wear and tear on the tires of the old GNX.

    Awash in my reminiscing, I noticed the driver of the yellow Cappuccino take 3rd away from the second silver one.


    [​IMG]

    :::

    Finally... I caught up with you!

    [​IMG]

    You're good... I would be a fool if I hadn't picked up on that beforehand – I noticed your skill in Germany, and even then you almost had beat me.

    [​IMG]

    :::

    “He's in her trunk again... persistent.”

    Hmmm... he's managed to carve into her significant lead twice now, and I can see that his lapses are decreasing. He's picking up on how to race in the wet... and it's only been a lap or two. Very impressive.

    [​IMG]

    “He's making a move...”

    [​IMG]

    Ill-advised.

    “Damn, he almost had it!”

    [​IMG]

    No, he didn't. He had too much speed entering the turn because of the line he took. He managed to keep it off the wall and out of the sand, but dropped a wheel off and nearly cut across the track into the inside wall.

    :::

    [​IMG]

    “Oh... A.a.am eye drivin?! Maan... ah need sum moar crack quick!”

    “The #69 car is driven by none other than the infamous Tyrone Biggums...”

    :::

    [​IMG]

    Last try. Last lap. Don't got much left in me for this... I'm losing control and focus already. Damn wet conditions.

    Alright... on the outside. Gotta get a better line and momentum...

    [​IMG]

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Fin Chapter Twenty


    Notes:
    ~Hell if I know if my interpretation of the physics of wet weather driving is correct, and I really don't know if Initial D was actually correct with it. If it wasn't, I claim ignorance under the auspices of being a writer with very little time on his hands to research things.
    ~Tyrone Biggums is a Dave Chappelle skit; if you haven't seen it yet, I suggest searching for it (although it is not AUP-friendly.)
     
  23. lbpomg95

    lbpomg95

    Messages:
    1,501
    Location:
    England
    Aahhh, the Volvo.

    [​IMG]

    Happy days.
     
  24. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    United States
    Well, some dumb:censored: lost my USB... meaning I need to find it.

    Might just end up rewriting the sections I had written already... don't know yet, though.
     
  25. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    United States
    Well, I'm proud to say that my USB was located recently; now, onto the dirty work of finishing the pictures. I have noticed that the quotation marks along with the image links have been disabled or removed; once I'm sure that they'll work again I'll post the next few chapters.

    With GT6 coming out, I'm probably going to end the series in the only way I know how; an unhappy ending. It's up to your imagination to think up endings for now until the finale is posted.
     
  26. Skython

    Skython

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Well. I reckon you could just carry on the fic into GT6, start a new thread in the GT6 race reports (assuming there is one) and link this for newcomers. I'm breathing a bit of life into my fic, and I'm going to get it going again in about a month when I finally get my filthy hands on a clean PS3.

    PS: After catching up on your fic, I can simply say... Good grief all the references!! :lol: I've only just started awhile ago getting more into COheed and Cambria... Realized the title is a reference to their album. Chapter 8's title makes me think of that sort of common hospital voice. The one at the start of Queensrych'e Operation Mindcrime ("paging Dr. Blair, Dr. Blair, Dr. J. Hammelton, Dr. J Hammelton.") among quite a few others. :D
     
  27. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    United States
    Chapter Twenty-one: Style Changes


    Some days later, in the country of Italy, at the famous track of Monaco;


    [​IMG]


    “...I'm impressed. Twenty-five laps done and not a single problem or issue. Not even a mistake in his driving.”


    It's not that simple. I scanned over the lap time chart, noticing a few interesting things.


    “Take a look at these charts... and then tell me how you're interpreting the data you see.”


    [​IMG]


    Emily moved over to where I was stuck in the wheelchair so she could see what I was pointing out. She looked over the times, and eventually gave me an answer.


    “...there's a definite level of consistency being displayed here. It's not as if he's a robot, following the same line each time – he's varying his approaches, lines, and exit speeds in order to find the one he's most comfortable with.”


    “That's close to what I was thinking, but if you step a bit farther into this... the times are all within .100 of each other. That's phenomenal in any form of racing, even a practice shakedown like this one. I also have noticed the oddity that he hasn't ever used the exact same line twice... and that he's getting nearly identical times by varying it up each lap, each turn.”


    Coming in this lap... I need new tires. Used them more than I should have.”


    [​IMG]


    I moved over to the radio set.


    “Confirmed. Set of 4, and how much fuel?”

    30 litres, and a set of 4.”

    “On it.”

    I motioned the pit crew to get ready for the stop – they're used to point-to-point stops, a leftover of my WRC days, and they need all the practice they can get before the first race.

    Emily was still pondering over the data as I rolled myself back over.

    “He's coming in this lap. You want to have a go?”

    “Not yet... I'm still trying to work this out, how he's able to do this.”

    [​IMG]

    “That's a puzzle that might take a long time to answer... are you sure you don't want to go yet?”

    “I don't want any distractions while I'm out there driving. If I go out there right now, my head would still be working on this problem and not be focusing on the road, like it should be. Without full control of my mind, I won't be able to master the car and get full control of it.”

    “Understandable.”

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The crew did admirably, and as John rocketed back onto the track for another set of laps, I was left to think about how he was managing to pull times that were near identical but with different lines...

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Around the same time, in the country of Japan, at the track of Twin Ring Motegi;

    [​IMG]

    “He's getting slower. How many laps has he done, Mei?”

    “About... 26? 28? 32?”

    “Then that would be the problem.” That car, as nice and well-equipped as it is, still has some major flaws. The biggest would have to be dealing with the amount of horsepower the engine is cranking out; funneling all the power through just the rear wheels just isn't working when the tires start wearing down.

    [​IMG]

    I do know that we're even lucky to have a car within the regulations for the GT3 Class at LeMans; it's near impossible to get anything older than 2005 within the regulations. Most cars older than that need a complete overhaul; it's why you don't see many pre-2005 cars anymore.

    Just changing the chassis and framework completely requires a large amount of cash – much more than we could possibly fund on our own.

    [​IMG]

    The other problem is the tires we're running; we're using Goodyears. Most of the other drivers use Dunlop, Yokohama, Michelin, or one of the other major tire suppliers – making us the odd ones out when it comes to tire testing and data. We can make do, but winning the 24 Hours races will be a lot harder than if we had a team to compare data with.

    [​IMG]

    If we can make this car work for us, it will be rewarding.

    [​IMG]

    “He's spinning out!”

    [​IMG]

    I'm alright... but these tires aren't. I think the left rear came apart coming out of the turn... but I'm not sure.”

    “If you can make it back to the pit lane, or can take the shortcut once the barriers are removed, then do that. We need to sit down and figure out what happened before Mei and I take our turns behind the wheel.”

    Got it.”

    Not good. If we don't solve this issue soon, all our hopes and dreams will be for naught.

    ::::::::

    “...How are they doing with their testing?”

    “They appear to have encountered problems with the tires they're using... application of the throttle is being severely limited by the car's immense power... more or less, the tires aren't lasting long enough.”

    “They must know that they can't switch tire brands now... not with how close the race is, and not with our budget.”

    “Andrei, the problem seems to lie in the fact that the car they're using really wasn't intended for driving like this – it wasn't built as a race car in the factory, we ended up having to customize it ourselves because you were too stingy to get it done at the source. Now that oversight is coming back to hurt our chances severely.”

    “No matter... these three will find a way to make it work for their own ends. If they cannot... shouldn't you be heading out on your next assignment?”

    “I still don't agree with it-”

    “You don't have to agree or like it... you just have to obey orders. Now... are you going to obey, or do I have to have someone else do it and then kill you?”

    “N-n-n-no sir.”

    “Good. Now get going.”

    I scrammed out of the room, just wanting to get distance between me and Andrei... his personality had changed since he had discovered what Han Tzu had planned. When two men are completely mad... their paths inevitably cross.

    The way he's playing this game, what with wanting to form an alliance with the other leading criminal of this age... doesn't bode well. Even if there are sound reasons behind it all.

    :::

    “...”

    “How is she doing?”

    [​IMG]

    “...Better than I was, I think.”

    “What do you mean, 'I think'?”

    [​IMG]

    “She's very fast, around a full half-second faster than I was. The problem with that... is that she's inconsistent in certain spots, and she's also wearing out the tires and car faster. Endurance racing isn't about speed as a whole, it's about consistency and fuel/tire management.”

    “That's true... I do notice she's having some issues in the second sector.”

    [​IMG]

    “...I think I know why.”

    “Why?”

    “She's trying to do what I was doing – the 'variable line' theory.”

    “Was that how you were getting consistent lap times, but using different lines to do so?”

    “Precisely. Do you need it explained?”

    “No, I think I got the basics of it while you were driving...”

    [​IMG]

    “Then there should be no question of the theory itself...”

    “How and why are you doing it, though?”

    “Why is a simple reason. It lets me figure out the fastest line through the corners by varying it each time to see if a given line is faster or slower than the one previous. Once I find the fastest line through a corner, I store it away in my head and don't use it until needed to.”

    “Why is that? It seems like you'd be handicapping yourself by deliberately not using the best line...”

    “I am handicapping myself. Taking a slower line may lead to a slower time, but in endurance racing the idea is to plan ahead... saving your fuel and tires... not encouraging excessive wear and tear... it's all part of the way endurance races are run.”

    “...I think I'm getting it now.”

    “Good... now, if Emily can just understand it, then there won't be a problem winning both 24 Hour races.”

    “We could do the 24 Hours of Spa as well...”

    “It's a possibility. I enjoy that track much more than LeMans... it's a bit harder on the car and driver, though. The long straights on LeMans allow time for a driver to relax... therefore saving even more of the car until needed.”

    “You've become very insightful.”

    “I was taught well.”

    Fin Chapter Twenty-one

    Editor's Notes:
    Ironically, I had thought about holding off posting any more updates until GT6 came out... but with uncertainties in how the Photomode system will work (I'm hoping for a GT4-style saving system, directly to USB) I decided to give the go (to myself) to attempt to finish this volume by GT6's release. It might seem like a hard task, but it's kinda easy - I've just been being my usual lazy self when it comes to releasing these.

    In addition, I am not entirely sure if there will be a fourth volume in the future - or, at least a fourth volume in this style I've been using for so long. It's time for a change I think... but to what, is the unknown variable. With how things are shaping up... you might be surprised to see who lives through the third volume - and who gets the ax.

    And yes, I rely too much on obscure references, Skython (I know that's not what you meant, though.) Dr. Blair was originally going to be an actual character in the series, but I decided not to go with that (though props to Queensryche for the brilliant music in Mindcrime.) In the aforementioned fourth volume, the references will drop down significantly... mainly because I need to keep up with the times.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  28. Skython

    Skython

    Messages:
    7,089
    Location:
    New Zealand
    ... Don't know if variable line theory is absolute genius of just a load of :censored:. :lol:

    I'm sort of just hoping on GT6 having the same sort of photomode system as GT5 when it comes to getting images to PC. I mean, PD must know how so many people use photomode, editing photo's and uploading them. They will essentially have the same system I believe.

    I reckon a change of style would be nice. Creating something as big as this needs variance in writing style to keep it interesting (even though the plot is interesting, I guess minor changes to other things like style just make reading more interesting).
     
  29. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    United States
    Chapter Twenty-two: Trial and Error


    Still at the Twin Ring Motegi track, now three days later.


    [​IMG]


    Dammit! It's been days... and nothing we do is working! We've tried changing the suspension, the transmission, the driveshaft and even the limited-slip differential... but nothing seems to be working!


    We're burning through tires at an alarming rate... and, even if the changes are making the car easier to control in the turns, we're still having to deal with the power of the car being too strong for the tires!


    I thought that we would find a way to avert the tire fade with the changes, but that didn't work... and that issue is starting to burn through me. Ricky has said that in his experiences with Goodyear tires, nothing like this had ever happened.


    [​IMG]


    I believed him, and threw out my misgivings that he had merely been using a tuned streetcar, and not a fully powered race car. I should have listened to my original thoughts of changing tire brands, because even with three drivers and a good support crew, there hasn't been a solution to our problem yet.


    I'm starting to be convinced that it is related to two factors, in addition to the aforementioned tire problem: the first being the issue with the Challenger funneling all of its immense power through just the rear wheels, and the second being that the Challenger itself wasn't a works car and therefore did not have any input from the engineers and racecraft people at Chrysler, or even Team ORECA.


    Is there a solution to the issues? I truly don't know... short of scrapping this car and trying a new one, there's not much we can do when it comes to sweeping changes like what I'm thinking of.


    [​IMG]


    Dammit... I don't know anymore!

    [​IMG]

    :::


    After pulling into the pit for what seemed to be the umpteenth time, I decided to get out and have a talk with Ricky and Mei.


    “...Even I can't figure out the problems we're having.”


    “Would switching tires have a positive effect?”


    “Yes, but we've bought so many of them from Goodyear already. That complicates things – we're going to have to use Goodyears anyway, what with being sponsored by them and all...”


    “...We can't switch cars, either?”


    “...Assuming we could find another one that's suitable, which is a very unlikely possibility... it could work. Although I doubt it would have much of an effect...”


    “Hmm. You want to end it for today, and see if we can find something to make this all work out?”


    “That might work. Let's head back to the garage.”


    ::::


    Monaco, Italy;


    I yawned, realizing that I had been up since 6 AM and that it was now nearing midnight. I slowly got up, stretching to stimulate my stiff muscles.

    I had spent around three hours crunching down information about what I would be expected to face at LeMans. Opposing teams and their cars (or at least what they were supposed to be running), pit strategies, track data and supposed conditions in all kinds of weather...

    It was all a bit overwhelming. Although not impossible.

    Stupid idiots... gave me a pictograph memory. Now I won't ever forget things that happened...

    I slowly walked to the small kitchenette, and poured a glass of water.
    I took a sip, feeling the cool liquid rush down my throat... almost covering up the soft footsteps that were heading in my direction.

    And... it wasn't my wife or Micaiah. And not one of Han's men, either.

    Old, half-forgotten combat instincts took over, and I quickly moved to the joint in the wall where the corridor connected to the hallway.

    The footsteps drew closer to my hiding spot, and I forced myself to hide my breathing and will myself to not be seen.

    The footsteps resolved themselves into the form of a black-clad female... with just the slightest hesitation. Caution is normally good... but when holding a stun gun, you do just never know what's going to happen. It may not be a true weapon, but... the implications were worth noting.


    Meaning I'm seen as much of a threat to warrant such weaponry, and also being seen as much of a threat to be eliminated. Even if the weaponry isn't lethal.


    I recognized the figure now – the woman known as Rosalina.

    Even as I processed the information presenting itself to me, she started to turn in my direction, and so I reacted instinctively... by nailing her in the forehead with the glass. She staggered backwards, and I kicked the gun out of her hand to send it skittering away.

    She recovered quickly, and blocked my uppercut, countering with a roundhouse to the jaw... which hurt.
    She hit me in the chest with the next punch, but when she tried to follow that up with a kick to the stomach, I grabbed her leg, twisting it with such force that I felt the tendons and muscle snap beneath my hands. Possibly bone as well.


    Her eyes grew wide with pain, and she began crumpling to the ground... as I then kicked her square in the jaw, knocking her out.

    Breathing heavily, I slowly came down off of the adrenaline rush... and back into reality.

    I right away knew that my jaw, although bruised, wasn't broken. My chest also had some bruising. My feet had some blood on them, from when I stepped on the broken glass from my cup... which finally brought everyone running to see what had happened.

    “Dammit, John, what the hell happened? Who the hell is this...”

    “Assassin. Feel free to do with her as you wish...

    I leaned in close to his wheelchair...

    “...because she's a Wind Star member.”

    “...Now I get it.”

    Han told his goons to pick up the unconscious woman and carry her down to the sub-basement... where Han had installed a private hidey-hole, in case he needed to lay low for a while.

    Emily came in soon thereafter, while I was washing my feet with peroxide. She quickly moved over to me, and held me close...

    “Agh. I'm sore...”

    “Where'd she get you?”

    “Chest and jaw.”

    “You should have gone to bed earlier...”

    “And if I had done that, we could have all been dead.”

    “...”

    I slowly kissed her, despite the pain, and she began to relax. After a little while, I let go of her, and retrieved the stun gun.

    “What's that for?”

    “You'll never know when you need one.”


    :::

    Later the next day, in the sub-basement mentioned;

    I made my way into the outer room, and was stopped by a guard.

    “No one's allowed in here... Oh. Sorry, sir... right this way.”

    “Thank you.”

    I noticed the room's sole occupant was lying on a couch, and apparently asleep.

    “...You've proved yourself to be a resourceful man.”

    Never assume. Dammit, should have known.

    “I don't think that's the issue here. That's not the problem.”

    “So... you can draw conclusions from my coming here?”

    “...I think so.”

    “Then what are they?”

    “That I'm still enough of a threat to be eliminated, along with my family.”

    She surprised me by letting out a quick laugh.

    I moved to the only other piece of furniture in the room, a straight-backed chair.

    “What's the whole truth here?”

    “Take a guess, you're obviously smart enough.”

    “... Organized crime. And why Han isn't continuing with his part in that side of life.”

    “Good... and you know that Han's stopped any efforts to thwart us. The real objective I had was to find out why... and I think I know, based on what I saw of you.”

    “...I don't see why your people would have a problem with this endeavor I've undertaken...”

    “The Academy. It was founded with truly good measures in mind... and Han's attempt at the same thing, winning the 24 Hours race and restoring his reputation... is in direct counter to what our plans are.”

    “Have you let your superiors know about this?”

    “Not yet, but-”

    She caught herself, but the damage was done. She was trying to control the conversation, and I went along with her in the hopes of tripping her up.

    And I know she wasn't lying... she was trying to dominate me or make me fearful, and in her position she wouldn't gain anything by lying... in her attempt to force me to do something, I did do something – but at the same time getting the answer to the burning question I had.

    Just like interrogating terrorists and bad types in the old days. How I hated it.

    Han wheeled himself in, and flashed me a smile.

    “That was quicker than I thought you'd be.”

    “Some things go faster than others... and interrogation was one of the things I was good at, despite my dislike for it.”

    “So... what now?”

    I turned to the woman.

    “...I actually want to know your real purpose for being here. Drop all the pretensions, all the subtleties. Stop lying to me. Why are you even here?”


    “... I was trying to force you to make a deal.”

    “...What kind of deal?”

    “The one in which you make a deal with our group to run the 24 Hours races together, under the same banner.”

    Odd request.

    “Is she lying?”

    “...No. Continue.”

    “Well... we've run into some major difficulties with the team we've currently set up.”

    “Such as?”

    “...The drivers we have scheduled to run the events are good, but their driving is rough. In the practice sessions, they're burning through their tires and equipment at an alarming rate. I've seen you drive before, and you never push the car to its limits... and know how to manage tires and fuel better than anyone else in the world.”

    “Hmmm... Who do you have driving for you?”

    “You should know them... Rick Robledo, Mei Ling, and Kenji Yamamoto.”

    Fascinating. So it was Ricky who joined up with the Academy.

    “...I'll do it.”

    “What?!”

    “Of course, I'm not the one holding the cards here... you'll have to convince Han here. But... I at least owe Ricky and Kenji a favor... otherwise I wouldn't agree.”

    “...Do we have a deal, then?”

    Han took his time pondering the situation, and I suppose he trusted my judgment enough... because he agreed, but not without some stingy conditions...

    “...Fine. Let her go free to report to her superiors.”

    “...I can't walk.”

    “Fine, give her one of my spare wheelchairs until she recovers...”

    That was all said and done, but as she left I sensed that Han still had some questions for me.

    “Why, though? Why'd you agree?”

    “Think back to why I decided to do this in the first place...”

    “Oh. You feel you're obligated-”

    “Yes. As much as I still distrust them, before I retire from professional driving forever I feel I need to help those I've hurt in any way I can.”

    Fin Chapter Twenty-two
     
  30. FireEmblem10

    FireEmblem10

    Messages:
    2,373
    Location:
    United States
    Chapter Twenty-three: Flying V


    Date: May 7th, 2012
    Time: 2 PM
    Location: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium


    Perspective: Han

    :::

    I pored over the large amount of data that was streaming past on the computer screen, wondering how easy it would be to make a mistake in drawing conclusions from it.

    Sigh... It was just as difficult as when I drove in the World Rally Championship. I'd try to analyze the data my team was getting, but when I would drive the race, it wouldn't ever play out like their data said it would.

    That was the biggest problem I had, and what drove me to find other methods of influencing the race. Humans cannot ever be as precise as a computer might be, and trying to run a race by what a machine is telling you is impossible. There's just too many things that can happen, and computers can't predict that.

    I took a long drag from the cigarette... although I never smoked before now, and I only started because I was going to die anyway.

    What comforting thoughts.

    Thing is... after my unprecedented win in the WRC in my rookie year, my consistency dropped like a rock in freefall. I couldn't quite figure it out, and to this day I have some nagging doubts, but sabotage of my equipment cannot be ruled out. That's why I began looking for any advantage I could get... even if they weren't legal.

    The experiment with that drug that's supposed to help you keep your focus, concentration, and reflexes sharp is what started it all... and when that didn't work, the train couldn't be stopped. The derailment was a result of sloppy work on my part, and I vowed that it would never happen again.

    I could have cut myself off from crime then and there, but I didn't... and I still have no idea why. Cheating is a system I should never have adhered to in the first place... and I'm still paying the debts of that now.

    I wonder if John ever has or has had these kind of thoughts...


    :::

    [​IMG]

    It's been a long while since I've driven here... but I oddly can't remember when that exactly was.
    It'll come to me. Eventually.


    [​IMG]

    Still, running laps around a track such as this one... gives me an odd sense of inner peace. I know that I belong here, and I'm more at home behind the wheel of a car than on my own two feet, but... there's still some lingering doubts in my head about doing this all.

    Han's condition had gotten worse, and now the poor soul had taken up smoking to calm his nerves and dull the pain... he had decided to scale back the 'Last Drive' he had planned and only run LeMans. After that, he'd leave the racing side of his operations to the Wind Stars – with the condition that I would be let go to live my life the way I personally saw fit. He had been planning to run the race himself...

    Even though he knows that he can't drive.

    [​IMG]

    I would have thought that I'd be having problems with my health far before he did; yet, I don't feel any changes with my increasing age, at least physically – I know that because of the experiments done to me that I'm stronger, faster, more resistant... and then I realize that with all my newfound abilities... that I'm still the same man underneath the shell.

    I just hope that I can win this race... just one last win... for Han. Not for myself, or for anyone else... but in reparation for the way I ended up shaping his life.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    :::::

    A few hours later, still at Spa;

    “Woah.”

    “Impressive, isn't it?”

    The three of us turned to see a man in a wheelchair with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth headed our way. The source of the words we'd heard stopped in front of us and smiled.

    “Welcome to Belgium, more specifically Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Sorry for bringing you here on such short notice, but time is of the essence.”

    “You are...”

    “Mr. Han Tzu, former businessman, currently a team manager – and your new boss for the races.”

    “...Why'd we need this change? It seems unnecessary...”

    “I'd heard that three bright young stars in the racing world were having problems getting a good ride for LeMans and the 24 Hours of Nurburgring... and, since I needed more drivers for my entry, I decided to help you three out.”

    “Alright... Why a Corvette, though?”

    “Best available option I could find – it was tuned by Pratt & Miller, have you heard of them?”

    “Yes, and with utmost praise.”

    “Then this will work. Given the track record of tuned Corvettes... this will be a good challenge.”

    [​IMG]

    I noticed the flash of blue that screamed down the straightaway, heading into another flying lap.

    “That's the car?”

    “Affirmative. The driver of that car is also going to put you through a rigorous training method for endurance racing, as he's very experienced in that kind of race. He should be pulling in shortly.”

    “I have to ask this...”

    “Go right ahead.”

    “...Didn't you run a criminal empire that ruled with an iron fist?”

    “Yes...”

    “Then... why did our bosses let you take the reigns of our team?”

    “To put it in short terms, I had a change of heart and quit all things wrong. That, and I'll probably be dead before the year is over. Month, possibly.”

    “...I'm sorry to hear that.”

    “Don't be... I made many mistakes in my life. If you don't get anything else out of this endeavor, just see what I've become and make sure you never do it.”

    That sobered us all up and forestall any questions that might have been forthcoming.

    The blue Corvette pulled in the very next lap, and the crew went right to work on it – with great speed and efficiency, far faster than our own crew back home. The driver slowly got out, and walked over toward our little group.

    I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a second driver was getting in the car – one with a decidedly smaller figure. Not by much, but enough to assume that the second driver was a woman.

    The first driver came up to us, still wearing his helmet – one with an odd design on it, that strangely seemed familiar...

    “How was the car?”

    Workable. Some fine-tuning is in order, specifically with the suspension settings... they're too soft, I can feel the car floating through some of the turns.”

    Han nodded and lit another cigarette. The still-helmeted driver took the cigarette from his hands and crushed it into the pavement with his heel.

    You should know smoking is bad for you.”

    “A man in my condition does whatever the :censored: he wants at this stage.”

    True.”

    “Excuse me... but are you going to introduce us all, or are we going to wait much longer?”

    “Shhhh... Mei, show some respect!”

    The only introduction I need is to the lady here... it's been a while since I've seen either of you in person.”

    “Wait... we've met before?”

    Affirmative. You should know...”

    The driver doffed his helmet...

    “...exactly who I am already.”

    I looked at Han, then Mei, then Ricky, then back to... John?

    What the :censored: is this?

    “Judging by the looks on your faces, you don't believe it's me. Sorry to disappoint you all, but I'm the real McCoy.”

    “But... you died!”

    “In a sense. All I had before was cut from me, and I was alone. I had nothing left. A part of me died that infamous night... and I'm still unsure if I'm glad it's gone or not.”

    “...So you're remorseful for all those lost that night?”

    “Except myself, yes.”

    I was prepared to be angry and upset at John for allowing my family to die, but... he isn't just saying words to stall what would have been his due from me – he really means it. And I feel... pity for him. Would have never thought that was possible.

    “Why didn't you contact me for nearly... seven years?”

    “I lost sight of the important things in life, and it cost me.”

    “Damn well it did. If I've forgiven him, then you two should be able to as well.”

    “I don't want forgiveness, nothing can make up for what I've done and failed to do. All I ask is your cooperation in this enterprise.”

    “...Is that all you want out of us? What are our benefits, and what do you get out of it all?”

    “Your benefits, besides the normal human body's needs, such as eating and drink, will include driving with a top-tier racing team, and being instructed by the best driver out there. This is the push you need to earn the rightful spots in motorsport you three deserve.”

    “...And? What do you get out of this, John?”

    “The peace that comes with knowing no one will bother my family and I again.”

    “Retirement?”

    “More than likely. If I drive professionally again, it will be on my own terms.”

    “...Why, though? You're the best there is... none can compare to you?”

    “There's the answer to your own question – I'm too good of a driver, or at least I'm told by everyone that I am. I'm beginning to doubt myself as a driver, and because I have no one to measure myself against... I can't get a grip on where my skill lies. One of these times, the doubt will cost me quite severely.”

    “...Then why continue to race now?”

    “Obligation to friends... and people that I should have never hurt.”

    The three of us were quiet for a while, just thinking the situation over in our heads. John and Han drew off by the side, and we could see they were having an argument of some kind – probably over what had been said before.

    ::::::::

    “Why quit, though? You truly mean that there's no one left to challenge you?”

    “Not in the professional world.”

    “...So... that means what, exactly?”

    “I go back to where I learned my craft – the streets.”

    “... I don't think it's a good idea.”

    “...I can understand your concerns. But, as I said... until I get a grasp on just how well I actually perform... I don't feel as if I can return to professional driving.”

    “None of those three have the talent you're thinking of?”

    “Just the one does. Kenji does. He's got the skill, even if he doesn't know it.”

    “Then...”

    “I'm not sure if he still hates me or not. Only after that is determined... will the knowledge be imparted. He needs to understand that it's not all about the skill you have – you have far more important things to deal with than racing. He needs to understand that.”

    “So you're training him up to be your protege?”

    “No, just making sure he doesn't go about the same path I did. He's getting that personality that I know I had when I began my true driving career.”

    “I think I get it now.”

    “Then you won't mind if I borrow the Corvette for some informal sessions on a nearby public road?”

    “What?”

    “You'll see... all part of that training regimen you mentioned I'd put them through. And, while you're at it... disable the ABS on the Corvette as well.”

    “...That's risky.”

    “It needs to be done in order to get these three to the level they should be at. Most of my training is mental and head games, but there is going to be some difficult aspects of driving that need to be learned before anything else is done.”

    “...Alright.”

    “Trust me... you won't be disappointed by the results.”

    “Nothing could disappoint me at this stage.”

    “Morbidness won't help you out here.”

    “Doesn't matter.”

    Fin Chapter Twenty-three