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

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

  1. FireEmblem10


    United States
    Chapter Twenty-four: Head Games

    Date: May 10th, 2012
    Time: Noon
    Location: About 10 miles outside of Spa-Francorchamps

    Perspective: Kenji


    My head ached. I'm not going to speak falsehoods here, the training regimen John was putting the three of us through – four, if you count his wife Emily – was bordering on ridiculous. Yogi Berra had stated about baseball that '90% of the game is half mental.' I was wishing for a figure in that range.

    The wealth of knowledge that was being imparted to us was astonishing, though. There are far more mental parts when it comes to racing that I had known previously. One of the hardest ones to deal with was when an opponent is driving at the same speed you are, following your line – and no matter how hard you try, you cannot open up a gap on the other driver chasing you.

    He pulled it on us with ease – even when driving a car with a definite performance advantage, a BMW M3 should not be being chased down and hunted by a little BMW 120d.

    After I had been challenged in that manner, he had gotten the four of us together and began to explain the theory behind that style of driving.

    The idea here is to drop your opponent into a mental state that is very hard to break out of. If you think that the driver behind you is unstoppable and can match your every move, then you begin to imperceptibly shift into an attitude of defeat.

    When in this state of defeat, one of two things will begin to happen; you either begin to drive slower than before, gradually decreasing in both speed and endurance, or you start to lose your sense of limit – it's far easier to make mistakes trying to run from someone if you begin to push the car unreasonably.

    The reason I'm telling you this is to make sure you understand how endurance racing works – it's not about taking positions early. The only thing you need to make sure you do early is keep driving at a steady pace. You might be a half-second or two slower than the leader, but that guy is already pushing his car because he is the leader. Waiting back and hiding your true strengths while also conserving your car for the later stages is my cornerstone theory for endurance racing, and it's how I won the 2005 LeMans.”

    I was beginning to get what he meant about driving being more mental than anything else. Balance is the key – both of the physical state and of the mental state.

    I also noticed other subtle things he would tell or show us. The fact that racing isn't the most important thing was the biggest. He kept reminding us to step back and look at the bigger picture after a particularly draining session – that missing the object of a lesson is fine as long as the more important parts had been gleaned, but while also keeping focus on the bigger picture.

    Ricky and Mei were growing more frustrated with John each and every time they were out driving, or being lectured. John's style of teaching was unusual, I will admit that – but for some reason I was able to understand most of the basic theories and ideas he was throwing at us. Neither of them were, and I would notice them sitting off alone together, deep in conversation – while throwing sharp looks at the back of Druten when he wasn't looking.

    Oddly, what I found most helpful for driving was his suggestions of thinking to the important things in life, listing them in order, then seeing how driving benefits or hinders each. I began to see that driving wasn't the biggest concern in John's life – his family and obligations were.

    It made me start to think about the consequences of every action I took in a new light – not 'how does this benefit Kenji' anymore, but 'how does this action benefit my family, friends, and obligations before it benefits myself'.

    It was unnerving and eye-opening. The weight of thinking this way was beginning to drag me down quite a bit.


    Lost in thought, poring over a time chart with an added path chart for each line I took from the 15-lap session, I didn't notice the precise steps heading towards my position.


    “Hmmm? Oh... Yes, sir?”

    “Teacher, not sir.”

    “Fine. Yes, Teacher?”

    “Take these and grab the Corvette.”

    He threw me a set of monogrammed keys with the initals HS on them.


    “Time for a one-on-one lesson. And you would do well not to ever speak of what transpires here.”



    John directed me to a section of road that saw very little traffic – it reminded me of the mountain passes back home.

    “Alright. What I'm about to explain to you may sound harsh or too critical, but it is necessary as well as being true.”


    “...I'm not expecting Ricky or Mei to last in racing.”


    “They're focusing more on each other than on the task at hand– which is good in a sense. The problem is... they're falling behind you and my wife in the learning curve here. Ricky told me that after this race they want to go home and start a family. Or... the could leave at any moment.”



    “Earlier today they both showed a complete lack of care for how I was trying to teach them, and I'm sure you remember how nastily I laid into both of them.”

    I actually winced – that was a memory still fresh in my mind.

    “After that, they both had confronted me privately and said they were leaving after the race – that I was a horrendous teacher with a nasty attitude who wasn't focusing on the important things.”


    “I don't think you're not a good teacher, if that's what you're trying to ask me.”

    “That wasn't where I was leading this, but that's good to know at the very minimum. I was going to see what your response was – and if you agreed that I wasn't focusing on the important things.”

    “You are... but I don't know if Ricky and Mei can see that.”

    “There's another chapter to this, long before I rose in the racing world. I used to know Ricky personally – and it's actually kind of where it all started. Simply put, he doesn't like being told what to do. Never has, never will. He doesn't like the style I'm teaching – his driving has always been headstrong with a tint of recklessness. He ended up in the hospital because of this recklessness, and was out until sometime after I had won LeMans.

    In the midst of that, he somehow managed to struggle along – barely making ends meet. I did have a car built for him, but he just was... irresponsible about the entire thing. And I don't know how Mei is going to deal with it when she sees how he truly is-”

    He stopped short of continuing his diatribe – and with good reason.



    “The brakes... they just locked up! What the...”

    “As it should be... the ABS is disabled.”


    “I had it disabled as the main reason for taking the car out today and teaching you. Learning to drive without ABS is an entirely different experience that I know you haven't had much time to do. The object lesson today is how to deal with this. It's one of the things that took me a very long time to master myself, so don't expect miracles your first time doing this.

    Just get a feel for how the car behaves under braking without the ABS, and see if you notice things. I would have preferred a all-wheel-drive car for this, as I found it easier to learn on that... but this will perform well.”

    “Shouldn't I be worried about how my technique will be affected?”

    “Oh, it will be affected. The point is that driving without ABS allows a driver to become as one with the car. You need to understand that this is far harder than it might become, but once mastered it allows flawless car control – and control is the most misunderstood aspect of racing. I'll explain more on that later.”



    Three hours later:





    “...I don't feel I truly get how to do this.”

    We sat outside the car, finally done with the session. And, good thing, because the tires were nearly worn out after I had locked them up so many times, culminating in a near crash into the trees.

    John, though, was completely composed and never showed an iota of panic when I was spinning out or headed towards fences or trees. It was astonishing, the complete lack of fear.

    “The easiest way would be to have started with a lower-powered car, like the BMW M3 you used earlier. Easy is not going to get you through the 24 Hours race, though. Only the most strenuous and difficult will suffice.”

    “...I have to ask this... Are you training me as your protege?”

    He was silent for a moment.

    “What do you want the answer to be to that question?”

    “...I'm not entirely sure – I have conflicting emotions and thoughts going on in my head.”

    “The answer is that I am not training you as my protege. What happens now to these thoughts of yours?”

    “More uncertainties.”

    “Allow me to clear them up, then. I am not training you to 'follow in my footsteps', as some might put it. Rather, my intention is for you to do the opposite.”

    “So you're hindering my development as a driver, is that what you're saying?”

    “Of course not. Think about what I just said, and then think about my life. Once you figure it out, voice it.”

    I thought about it sullenly for a minute, and then I understood.

    “By not training me to follow in your footsteps... you're helping me avoid the issues that had arose in your life.”

    “And still do to this day. But, in essence, correct. I'm training you to make sure you don't take the paths I've taken, and make the choices I made. All this mental junk I'm throwing out at you – I know it's viewed as junk by many – actually has a legitimate purpose.

    When Han told me that the three of you were being sent here because you needed help for LeMans, I felt that the biggest opposition to me would be led by you. When you got here, though... I was surprised at the lack of hatred that I had supposed would be rightfully coming my way.”

    “...I've learned not to hold grudges.”

    “...All the wiser for you. When I didn't see the hatred and began to see the godlike talent hiding inside... I was impressed. You are a far greater driver than you think... there's a definite hint of the racing genius in the making every time you take the wheel of something, even if it's a shopping cart.”

    “But shopping carts don't have steering wheels, they have a handle.”

    “...That's not the point. Do you not understand? I'm known as the fastest driver the world has birthed, but... being at the peak just means the ones who are faster still will ultimately rise to the top. You will be the fastest one day, and the cycle will begin once more.

    Kenji. I've lived a long life, drove far too many miles without a conscience. I'm telling you all this because I want you to avoid what I became – sure, I am still the fastest around – but it's a meaningless title to me, because of how much I made others around me suffer. You can avoid it, I know you can. Use what knowledge I've imparted to you, and use it for good things.”

    I was overcome by emotion at this point, and hugged the man I had sworn to hate with all my being.

    “...Are you serious... about me... being the fastest one day?”

    “Yes... and you don't even know it. I won't be teaching you much longer, but we will cross paths someday... and you will win. That's when you will be known as the fastest.”

    I was lost in thought for a long while after that.

    All he had said to me... was it true? I believed most of it, but... my newfound humility was preventing me from believing that I would truly be the fastest.

    And... his words about not losing sight of the bigger picture began to sink in.


    Later that night:

    “I had a talk with the kid, and told him what needed to be said. And... he gets it, at least in principle.”

    “So no chance of him self-destructing in the race?”

    “Highly doubt it.”

    John looked inexpressibly weary, and sighed deeply.

    “What is it?”

    “I didn't tell him how the Wind Stars are using him, though.”

    “...Don't. The deal we cut with them allows free reign after the race – if we win it. He'll understand at some point – but not like I don't think he does already.”

    “I'd rather make sure of that than have a giant screwup headed our way...”

    Emily walked in and sat down next to John, taking his left hand in hers.

    “It would be counterproductive to tell him at this stage, and maybe kick his concentration off of the race and on to other things. Speaking of which, I noted that he tried to call his friends back home today, but they didn't respond.”

    “...Well, he did understand the meaning behind my earlier words, then.”

    “And he's the only one who understood?”

    “Emily understands as well.”

    She nodded, then laid her head on John's shoulder, and his expression softened slightly.

    “...We've been in contact with the Wind Stars. They're pleasantly surprised at the progress that's being shown... and although I still don't trust them, there seems to be a decently solid agreement going on between their factions and the stuff we're undertaking here.”

    “...Alright. I'm exhausted, and I'll see you in the morning, I guess.”

    He slowly got up, gently helped Emily rise, and walked to his room still holding her hand.

    I moved toward the balcony and wheeled myself outside, lighting a cigarette as I did.

    It's what I didn't tell him that hurts the most. We'd come to a mutual agreement ourselves – not a true resumption of our friendship, but we were sharing information freely. I do know that there are some things he knows that he will not readily share with anyone except those who will understand it while keeping it a secret.

    I don't fault him for that – his knowledge is dangerous when misused, and while it would be nice to know what it is he has told the drivers... it's not my place to know it. I wouldn't be able to use it, either.

    He has legitimate reasons for keeping things to himself; sadly, while I don't... I still hold things close. I still have some dark things I will take with me to the grave, but one of them was carried out recently...

    My morals are different from yours, John... and so the actions that I take from now on are on my own conscience. I believe I'm saving countless others from the actions of a few; revenge is not the object here. Making the world safer is. So... do I leave him something about all this when I'm gone, or what?

    Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two figures headed for the car park down below. My vision in the night isn't sharp by any means, but I could guess the gender of the figures rather easily – a man and a woman.

    I had half a mind to call out to them to find out who they were, but stopped short before I revealed my position. I don't know if they're friend or foe, armed or not. The light from inside gives them a clear view of me, even if it's not apparent what I am or who I am.

    The man scanned the area furtively, looking to see if there was anyone watching. He looked directly at my position, but did not see me clearly, or thought I was a table or plant of some sort – the area around here is filled with furniture and shaped shrubbery.

    I got a good look at his face when it hit the light coming from my vantage point, though. Ricky Robledo. What are you doing out at this ungodly hour, you little sneak...? Obviously the woman with him was Mei Ling... and they were headed toward the black Ferrari 458 that was parked about halfway down the line of cars sitting in the lot.

    I also noted the suitcases in their hands... meaning, just as John had told me earlier, that they were leaving to go home.

    I hit the button on the side of my wheelchair, sending a silent alarm out to the men I had brought with me, and also triggering the alarm in John's room as well as Kenji's.

    In a flash, a group of five trained bodyguards converged on my location, with John and his family right behind. In his arms was his daughter Micaiah, and in Emily's arms (and thankfully asleep) was his other daughter Yune.

    The two figures down below panicked at the sight of all the people standing around, watching; and so they rapidly threw the luggage in the car and got in. I heard the engine start with a enraged roar, and dimly noted that it was raining heavily out now.

    Kenji also came running, slightly behind everyone else – but in time to see Ricky and Mei get in the 458 and head off with a squeal of tires and in a cloud of wet smoke.

    “...You were right, then.”

    “...Sadly. It wasn't an inability to learn that brought this on, it was a lack of wanting to learn that caused this.”

    “What should we do, Mr. Tzu, sir?”

    I looked to John for a solution on how to deal with this, because frankly I couldn't come up with one myself.



    As everyone but Emily and Kenji began voicing their objections, I motioned for silence... to let John continue with what he was going to say.

    “...There is nothing we can do in this situation. Nothing we can say or do will convince them to come back. They took the fastest car there besides the Corvette which is on slicks; it's raining, and changing the tires would take too long when there's not any equipment set up for it right now. And don't expect me to take one of the other cars and push it in these conditions... last time that happened...”

    For once, I saw my former friend at a loss for words. I couldn't tell how he was feeling, and I almost confessed to what I had carried out – but something stopped me.

    He sighed again, a deep one with a fair amount of pain hidden in it, but regained his composure that had been cracked not a second ago.

    “They go off to their supposed heaven, but with no thought as to the painful consequences it brings to those left behind.”

    Fin Chapter Twenty-four
  2. FireEmblem10


    United States
    : May 20th, 2012
    Time: 6:50 AM
    Location: LeMans, France


    Here it is. The motorsport world's greatest stage, of which we are all players, set to perform as though for the audience. LeMans. Twenty-four hours of racing.

    This place... it is full of history. The weight of all the memories, of the drivers, of the years gone by, of the blood, sweat, and tears poured into the asphalt. All the great names that drove here, and all the names that have been lost. And, of course, my own father. And the Haradas.

    It is time... to finish it here. Saying goodbye for the last time.


    “All set, Kenji?”

    Yes, sir.”

    I could feel the hint of nervousness in his voice, coupled with the boundless excitement of being behind the wheel of a car. Makes me wonder where it all goes from here for him. I know that he's beginning to wake up when it comes to seeing the bigger picture. What he does with that will determine where his path lies...


    “Just make sure to keep the car clean, and don't rush things. In time, everything will fold your way.”




    Han motioned me to come aside.

    “You think the kid can do it?”

    “Now's not the time for those kind of questions.”

    “...I needed an excuse to tell you something alone.”

    “Speak, then.”

    “...when I die, there's going to be something left for you at my gravesite. Take it and show no one... keep what you read hidden forever. And, I've received word that the two heads of the Wind Stars will try to pull something in order to get what I'm leaving you.”

    “You have received news on that? If it's something that will happen in the future, then-”

    “Trust me on this. I think I know what will happen. Just... keep it together, ok?”

    “...I will do so.”

    And, with that, we settled into the biggest portion of those not actively involved with the race – waiting. Waiting for our turn to take the wheel, to show the world that we're the best.
    No. The reason I am here is not to show that I'm the best, it's a favor for a friend. This isn't about me anymore... stupid human instinct.


    An few hours had gone, and Kenji was running a very solid 4th overall, 2nd in class.


    As he was trying to lap the slower Gillet Vertigo, the class-leading Mclaren F1 Race Car...


    ...nearly wrecked him.

    What the freaking hell was that?!”

    “Calm down. It was just racing... but be careful.”


    Yeah, right, John. You say that, but then again you're not out here racing right now.


    I really could care less if it wasn't intentional or not... I am focused on only one thing right now – winning. I understand you mean well with your teachings, but... I just can't focus on all that crap right now! I'm in a heated race... how am I supposed to focus on everything in my life while remaining fast?


    “In about 30 minutes it'll be time for a driver change... are you sure you're going to pull a double shift, John?”




    Best let you know the weather is starting to come in. At the end of the Hunaudieres I can see clouds starting to come in.”

    “Copy that. Be careful.”


    “And... so it begins.”



    “He's speeding up instead of slowing down... is that right?”

    “It's a technique I told him about. Natural instinct on pure racing slicks when rain is beginning to lightly fall is to slow down... which can be exploited as an excellent technique by those willing to take advantage of it.”




    “Not good... he's beginning to lock the tires up under braking. This either means they are wearing out, or the rain is making the car more and more difficult to control.”


    The Mclaren slowed... and I think I heard a grinding noise coming from it when it went past.”

    “Then your biggest objective has been removed.”



    I feel like I need to show John just what I truly can do... even if it means pushing the car to do so. I have that feeling of needing to impress him, but I don't know why...



    Crap! It's spinning out on it's own!



    “I'm alright, I'm alright. Flatspotted the tires, but everything else is fine.”

    Bring it in now, then. Too risky to leave you out on crap tires right now. Driver change coming up.”




    Time: Midnight


    “This... is just mind-boggling.”


    Despite being a full two laps down... John had caught the leading pack of cars in torrential conditions. It defies all traditional convention to see how fast he is in the wet.

    Is this truly what he is capable of? Then why'd he tell me that I will be better than him, when there's no possible way I can match this kind of performance? It doesn't make sense – everything I know feels as if it's been turned upside-down on its' head!






    The spray is quite frustrating when stuck behind other cars, but now... I'm in the open for a long time. Taking the overall lead in this part of the race and at this hour defies all known convention, and in a GT class car to boot.


    Then again, I am just that fast in the wet. It's something I can explain... but I know I'm nowhere near where I used to be. And... I'm happy with that. Knowing I'm not performing as I used to – and it's not from physical fatigue or lack of ability, it's a desire to not put myself at risk doing something that doesn't please me.

    It can be called lack of motivation by some, but... it's self-preservation. I have a life outside of racing I need to get back to... and it's something I should have done a long time ago. I waited too long, until my eyes were opened, and... now I see.

    Clarity is coming to me. I know where my flaws lie – not like I don't already know any of this, I know what I've done and how I need to fix the problems I've created. But now, I am understanding something – that learning from mistakes never stops, and that keeping an eye on the bigger picture is something that I still have a lot to learn in.


    I won't have a heavy heart when I leave this track for the first time... I'm finally at peace with who I am now, and what I need to become in order to keep this peace.





    Time: 6:29 AM


    “This is the final lap... make it and it's yours, dear.”

    On it.”


    The team had performed admirably, with no mistakes. Besides the small incident earlier in the race, nothing else of note had happened... but, for a GT class car to win the entire race... is nothing short of stunning.




    Everyone was celebrating and going mad, but I was still waiting, still watching... standing impatient, waiting for my wife to make it back safely.




    “Looks like they did it.”

    “Are we going to uphold our side of the deal?”

    “...Yes. For once.”


    “...Because nothing good would come to us if we didn't keep it.”

    “...I see. And what about the 'last will and testament'?”

    “We'll take care of that.”





    A month later, at a small cemetery located in Yosemite National Park.

    “From ashes to ashes, and dust to dust...”

    The speaker, while a good man, didn't truly know the body – or, who the soul behind the body had been. Standing there, watching the lifeless lump of my former best friend Han there in a cold, dark, casket... I felt the sense of finality that only death can bring.

    Emily held onto my right arm, while Micaiah clung to my left hand. Yune was mercifully silent, allowing me time to reflect. Kenji sat three chairs down, holding his own child in his arms – his girlfriend had had their son, and now he was beginning to understand something I wish I had happen earlier.

    The aforementioned girlfriend – Sanaki was her name – sat to his right, while the rest of his family was seated all along that row. Other friends, acquaintances, business partners, and mourners filled the ten rows.

    I sadly noted the lack of Ricky and Mei, and... my heart was breaking. I felt like I had failed them, and horribly so.

    But, my focus was drawn back towards the grave. The wind was gently whistling through the trees, a gentle song that bespoke sadness and heartache. The lake that stood down and to the right shone brightly from the sun's rays reflecting off of its cold surface.

    Memories swam through my head, of all the past things in my life, and of how it all comes to an end – here, in a box in a cold hole in the ground.

    The casket was lowered, the earth moved over it, and I shed tears for the first time in a long while... nothing like I had ever felt before.


    After everyone else had left, I motioned Emily to take the children back to the waiting car.

    She understood that I wanted privacy to pay my last respects to my deceased friend.

    I knelt down on the grass, pulling out a set of keys as I did so. The glint of sunlight that glanced upon them reflected the logo of Subaru, and the name of 'Legacy'.

    One of the only things he had left me that was of actual importance. The keys to his prized car – his Subaru Legacy. Awash in memories of how it had all happened... I noticed the small silver cylinder sitting incongruously but out-of-sight.

    I slowly took it, read the contents carefully and slowly, and felt the tears rain down from my eyes.

    “...For you, old friend. May you have... peace... on the beginning... of the next...great... adventure.”


    After a while, I noticed the sound of two pairs of footsteps headed toward me.

    Without looking up, I knew who they were – which didn't surprise me. And, with strength born of sadness, I prepared to face my demons once more.


    “How was the service?”


    “Really... I thought we removed that weak human emotion out of you.”

    “...What governs me now is a kite on a slow and steady course. Nothing you would ever understand, though.”

    “...Still the same :censored: as ever. Now... why don't we make this easy?”

    “...What do you need, then?”

    “...Whatever the idiot left you.”



    “I suggest you hand it over now...”

    I silently got up and passed them the cylinder.

    “...is it the real deal, Andrei?”

    “Yes. And, just to make sure you can't follow us...”


    As I crumpled to the ground, I saw the woman smile and the man smirk, then head off.

    They got into their waiting helicopter, and I watched it leave. And, sadistically... I began to smile. I noticed the Midnight Rose looking down at where I lay, and a frown began to appear on her face. She whacked Andrei on the shoulder, pointed down to where... I lay very much alive, even with a bullet in my back. He also frowned, then reached for the silver cylinder-

    Which, of course, as their shocked faces guessed, was a cleverly done fake. They looked at me, and I stopped smiling. With... an actual sadness, knowing that lives needed to be sacrificed for the good of the world as a whole, I reached for the silver radio transmitter and pressed the button.

    The explosion that followed was satisfying, in a morbid way. I lay back and watched the helicopter parts fall toward the ground, over the lake. The two persons in the vehicle would never trouble me again, and I knew it with finality.

    I slowly rose, feeling the pain of the wound – but knowing it would not be fatal and that I would heal in a few days. Emily drove the car quickly over, and I shambled into the passenger seat.

    In my pocket lay the last words of my good friend Han, and the final instructions he had left me. Ahead, the road before me stretched out her arms like a welcoming mother to a prodigal son. Behind me lay the demons of my past. Before me rose a new life, one free of constant fear and worry.

    I knew that nothing would ever be as it was – not with all that had happened. But, finally knowing that my family and I are safe in the world... it brings me peace at heart. Once more, on to the next stage of life.

    But, remember: Sometimes goodbye is a second chance.

    Fin Volume Three
    Skython likes this.
  3. Skython


    New Zealand
    Holy kajebuz... You've been busy. :tup:

    Sometimes your writing leaves me a little confused, like there's lots of different things happening and it's hard to keep track of it all. Which I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing. Have you decided whether you're moving to GT6 for the future or not? The photomode system is just the same as GT5, so not straight to USB which might not please you so much. But it works. At the moment there is no race reports section in the GT6 section. But we just need to ask Jordan to get one up and running (probably).

    My Cytranear story is coming back to life after so much procrastination thanks to GT6. Even though I've left it almost 2 years minus 2 chapters or so inbetween, I initially stopped for multiple reasons, mainly the fact that my brother owns the PS3 and I can never get onto it, and I didn't really know what I was doing. It wasn't quite planned in full, and GT5 was feeling dull for me in the end. But soon I'll have my personal PS3 which will have me updating it regularly (I also have every chapter's events planned out, so that problem is solved too. Right till the end in chapter 20 something).
  4. FireEmblem10


    United States
    That's what the major problem I felt was happening with my stories (as in having too many different things happening. For the 4th volume I'm probably going to only do two major plotlines while also going back and rewriting previous volumes for better clarity. Might take a while, and with the way GT6 is structured... getting the scant few cars I need will be a bit more difficult (even if I do spam for credits... money is hard to come by. Bleh.)

    Good to hear that your fic is back on track. I really haven't done much writing on the 4th volume yet, as I'm actually playing through GT6 with a minimalist approach (see just how little I can spend right now.) Although I'm (ab)using the 15th Anniversary cars in order to win races (because of money...) I have found a few cars that I know will be featured in Volume 4 (and a 5, if that ever happens.)