LAST EDITED ON Dec-27-08 AT 07:25 PM (EST)|
[Two for the price of none this Christmas. This is just a silly idea I had the other day, and probably won't make much sense if you don't watch Top Gear, but what the hell. Merry Christmas! --G.]
Across the galaxy, stories are told of a mysterious stranger. A man who seems to appear from nowhere when the need is greatest. A man who arises to champion the cause of the innocent - the helpless - the powerless - and then disappears into the night.
He accepts no payment.
He speaks to no one.
Few have ever seen his face.
He is a man...
who does not exist.
Some say he's the escaped product of an illegal super-soldier project,
or the cyborg creation of a mad automotive engineer,
or the Devil's own chauffeur.
Some say he's just an urban legend.
All we know is...
He's called the Stig.Eyrie Productions, Unlimited
Undocumented Features Future Imperfect
The Chronicles of the Stig
The Sandero Affair
Benjamin D. Hutchins
© 2008 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited
It began, as these things so often do, with the 12-for-a-credit shrimp-flavor cup ramen special at Tesco.
Had the shrimp ramen 12-packs not been on special, they probably wouldn't have been in a special display on an endcap, but instead with the rest of the Soups & Instant Foods in aisle four. Had they been there, the Stig wouldn't have been able to see the supermarket's parking lot from where he stood contemplating his soup options. Had that been the case, he wouldn't have seen the abduction.
But they were, he was, and he did. As a young woman crossed the market's forecourt, headed for the door, a black van pulled up, its side door opened, and two large men grabbed the girl from behind and hauled her into the van. With a chirp of tires on tarmac and the metallic clang of the side door slamming shut, the van was gone. The whole incident happened so fast, the few people who saw it questioned whether they really had seen what they thought they saw.
All but the Stig.
Dropping the ramen 12-pack back onto the display, he handed his shopping basket to a passing Tesco employee, pivoted on his heel, and strode briskly from the store, the automatic doors swishing quietly to let him pass. In his wake, the startled stockboy stood staring for a moment, then looked down into the basket. If he was hoping for some clue as to the motivations of the strange customer in the white full-body racing suit and sleek black-visored white crash helmet, none was forthcoming in the assortment of items there. If anything, his shopping choices were even more puzzling than his dress or behavior: two rolls of Scotch tape, an avocado, a pack of condoms, a pound of fresh mozzarella, two magazines (Queenfancier and Modern Bride), a paperback book (Aeryn Stonefist and the Carpathian Syndicate), and a whisk.
If the Stig was giving any thought to his abandoned shopping, it didn't show as he marched across the parking lot to his car, climbed behind the wheel, fired up the engine, and roared away, leaving two smoking strips of duravulc in his wake.
The driver of the black van had a significant head start, and her vehicle was not all that it appeared to be. It had been specifically prepared for this task, and one of the many factors its preparers had taken into account was the possibility - indeed, the likelihood - that the abduction team would have to deal with police pursuit. In a city like Perth, that might take the form of anything from automobiles specially configured for the chase to light aircraft to - unlikely but conceivable - jetpack cops. In addition to a number of dirty tricks, the van had a considerable turn of speed and deceptively good handling for its ungainly body shape, both achieved at considerable expense and with the aid of very sophisticated parts.
As such, it came as no great surprise to the driver when she noticed a glint of reflected sunlight in her rearview mirror. Something was cresting the brow of the small hill behind them, something that was catching up fast. But...
"That's no cop," she muttered, mostly to herself. "What the hell... "/* The Art of Noise
"Peter Gunn (feat. Duane Eddy)"
In Visible Silence (1986) */
"Hang on!" she yelled to her passengers (willing and unwilling), then put her foot down. The van leaped forward, its modified turbine wailing, the driver calculating a precise path through the surface traffic toward the freeway. As she maneuvered with deft professionalism through the afternoon traffic, she glanced regularly in the mirror, monitoring the progress of her strange pursuer. She'd never seen a car like the one behind them before. Low and sleek, with bulging wheel arches and a long hood, it was clearly a high-performance automobile, but with its vivid blue and red racing stripes on an otherwise white paint job, there was no way it was a police vehicle. The Perth Police Department's cars were the standard black-and-white panda jobs, and the Avalon County Sheriff's Department's livery was green and gold.
"Who the hell is that?" one of the kidnappers demanded, looking out one of the rear windows at their pursuer.
"I don't know," the driver replied through her teeth. "Not the local cops, not a county mountie."
"IPO?" the second kidnapper asked.
"Their cars are blue. Just keep quiet and let me lose him."
The driver's job was simplified by the natural instincts of the other motorists on the road. Seeing a black van with bull bars bearing down on them, they got the hell out of the way. That suited the driver fine. She'd have preferred to use a car, as was her normal procedure - she was a BMW woman, personally, but anything with reasonable performance would do - but her employers had insisted on the van to make the initial grab easier, thinking the tradeoff if there was a pursuit would be worth it.
The driver did not agree, but she wasn't getting paid to agree; she was getting paid to drive. So she put her foot down and applied all her professional skill to the task of shaking whoever that was back there.
She cleared the last corner before the freeway entrance on three wheels in a huge cloud of smoke, taking the corner faster than a lot of sports cars would've been able to manage it, and lost sight of their pursuer in the smoke. With a straight shot to the freeway now, she bent slightly over the wheel, urging the van onward. A glance in the mirror didn't show the white car emerging from the smoke. Maybe he'd lost sight of them as well in the impromptu smokescreen and missed the turnoff...
The white car was a Sunrise Motorworks Griffon 6155 Interceptor, the famed Salusian automaker's early-22nd-century supercar follow-on to the more famous Griffon Mk II 2100 limousine. If the black van's driver didn't recognize it, she could perhaps have been forgiven. Only 24 were made, and those nearly three centuries before her birth. Had she known what it was, though, then even if that didn't tell her who was driving it, she would at least have known that, as a rule, those who do drive G-6155s are not in the habit of missing turnoffs.
The Interceptor rocketed out of a side street ahead of the van, pulled into line with it, and abruptly disgorged a large quantity of oil onto the road in its wake. Cursing, the van driver tried to avoid it, but it was too late, and the attempt to change direction only made the problem worse. The van slewed, overcorrected, toppled onto its side, then rolled onto its roof, sliding down the street with a hair-raising shriek of metal on asphalt.
The Stig executed a double-clutch downshift and tugged the handbrake, slinging the Interceptor into a 180-degree skid and then bringing it to a halt fifty feet or so from where the upside-down van came to rest. In the sudden quiet that followed the crash, police sirens could be heard in the distance as the Stig opened the Interceptor's driver's door, climbed out, and began walking toward the van.
As he approached, the back doors burst open and the two men, bloodied but upright, dragged their captive out. The shorter of the two spotted the Stig and pointed.
"Look out, they've got guns!" the girl screamed, a half-second or so before her captors opened fire. Bullets ripped into the Stig's chest, punching five neat black holes in his white racing suit, and he crashed to the ground, flat on his back.
Covering him cautiously with their guns and dragging the girl along with their free hands, the two kidnappers edged closer to the Stig until they stood a couple of feet away, looking down at his sprawled body.
"No blood," the shorter remarked.
"Who is this guy?" the taller wondered.
"Check his wallet," the shorter suggested.
The taller kidnapper gave his colleague a do-you-work-here? look, then turned away, tugging the girl along by her upper arm. "Come on. Cops'll be here any second. We gotta find another way out of here."
The shorter one lingered for a moment, staring at the fallen Stig, then turned and followed.
Hanging in her seat harness, the driver came to in time to see the kidnappers shoot the stranger in the white racing suit, then turn away. She further watched as, unnoticed by his assailants, the Stig twitched, twitched again, then climbed to his feet. She could, she supposed, have blown the horn, warning her erstwhile clients that their pursuer wasn't as dead as they thought...
... but, given that they'd just abandoned her for dead (or for the cops), the hell with them. She just hung there and watched while the big one left the girl in the care of the smaller one, then stepped into the outside traffic lane and brandished his pistol at the next fast-looking car to come along.
For his part, the Stig didn't hesitate. He turned and walked back to his car, and for a second the van driver thought he was giving up and quitting the scene.
Then, as the big kidnapper was occupied dragging some poor sap in a suit out of his V-class Mercedes, the kidnap victim braced herself and yanked her arm out of the smaller one's grip, turned, and made a run for it. Cursing, her suddenly-ex-captor lunged after her -
The Interceptor's big V-16 roared to life, its headlights snapped on, and it practically leaped from its position, speeding toward the girl. For a second, the shorter kidnapper thought the crazy bastard was going to run her down.
Instead, the Interceptor's passenger door popped open and the car went into a tire-shrieking sideways skid, matched her course, and seemed to swallow her up before turning the rest of the way around and coming to a stop with a jerk that slammed the door shut behind her.
Several seconds passed in which the kidnapper and the car (its driver and abruptly acquired passenger invisible behind blacked-out glass) stared each other down.
Then the Interceptor launched itself again, this time heading straight for the freeway entrance that had been the black van's goal in the first place. The shorter kidnapper had to dive out of the way; the Stig didn't really try to run him over, but he certainly didn't bother trying to avoid him either.
"Get in, asshole!" the big one yelled from the driver's seat of the V-class.
In the Interceptor, Dacia Sandero tried to regain her breath and figure out exactly what had just happened. One moment she was running for her life, the next she was sprawled in the passenger seat of a strange car. At the wheel of that car was a man in a white racing suit and matching helmet, his face completely obscured by the helmet's black visor.
"Uh..." Dacia collected herself, shifting to a more normal position in the seat, then turned to take a closer look at the driver. "Who are you?"
The Stig looked blankly at her for a moment, pointed to a placard affixed to the dashboard of the Interceptor, just in front of the passenger seat, and returned his attention to driving.
"... Oh," said Dacia, unable to think of anything else to say. No further comment was forthcoming from the Stig either. He wasn't the type for a lot of chitchat, and anyway, he was focused on the stolen V-class that had just appeared in his rearview mirror.
The Stig knew well the capabilities of that car, having tested one very much like it on the previous season of Top Gear. With its brutal turboelectric torque, the Merc was very probably faster in a straight line than his Interceptor, which, though one of the galaxy's great supercars, was after all nearly 300 years old. Its handling wasn't anything to sneeze at either. A normal man would, perhaps, have wondered why these kidnappers were so fixated on their task that they would give chase without the aid of their hired driver, who was, after all, supposed to be the professional at this sort of thing.
The Stig didn't care.
He simply considered the situation, weighed his options, and then gave the handbrake a yank, flinging the Interceptor into another 180-degree skid. Dacia gave a muted shriek of surprise and dismay as the car spun violently, her seat's tractor array keeping her firmly in place despite the sudden maneuver. Then she gave a somewhat less muted shriek as it dawned on her that they were now hurtling into oncoming traffic on the P420 freeway.
Two miles back, the carjacking kidnapper put the accelerator to the floor and smiled with gritted teeth as the V-class responded with its full mountain of torque, hurling them forward. He had no particularly detailed plan for what he intended to do when he caught up to the Stig, but he knew he had to do something. The alternative was to report to Falcon Gold that they had failed to secure the cooperation of Sandero Technologies in the effort to improve the Imperizer System. And that was clearly not on.
His semi-willing copilot was the first to notice that the Interceptor had turned around and was now threading its way back through the flow of freeway traffic, making lane changes with the cold precision of a slot car, toward them. Pointing, he made an incoherent noise. His colleague snarled and gripped the steering wheel harder, flogging the V-class to even greater speed, and turned the contest into a straight-up game of chicken.
His passenger didn't particularly like that plan. Nor, it had to be admitted, did Dacia, who made a fairly credible attempt at backing into the Interceptor's boot which was only thwarted by the back of her seat.
"What are you dooooiiiiinnng?!" she demanded shrilly as the distance between the two cars dwindled at more than 200 miles per hour.
The Stig's only response was to hit one of the special control buttons on his steering wheel for the second time that day, then flick the Interceptor over one lane.
The V-class flashed past on the right, and for one elongated instant, Dacia made eye contact through the side window with the shorter of the two thugs in black. Despite the fact that he'd terrorized and tried to kidnap her, she felt a momentary spark of empathy with him, if only because the expression on his face perfectly mirrored her own in that fragment of time.
Then the Mercedes hit the oil slick the Stig had just laid down, spun completely out of control, punched through the concrete barrier at the edge of the freeway, and described a fiery arc through the crisp afternoon air before plunging into Fremantle Harbor.
With a faint air of satisfaction, the Stig pressed another button. Behind them, the oil slick dissolved, changing from a pool of slippery liquid to a faint damp patch and then evaporating entirely in a few seconds. It wouldn't do to leave something like that lying around on the P420, after all. Someone might get hurt.
The Stig guided the Interceptor down the same entrance ramp he'd used to get on the freeway in the first place and cruised back up the street, passing the overturned black van with a small wave for the cordon of police who had surrounded it in their absence.
For a minute Dacia thought he was taking her back to the supermarket, which would make sense, she supposed, except for the possibility that she was still in danger. Instead, he cruised right by it, hung a right, and silently drove her up into the hills to her house. The gates of the Sandero estate opened for the Interceptor without a pause, letting the vehicle growl to a halt at the door of the mansion itself. Black-suited Sandero Tech security officers swarmed out of the house, surrounding the car, as the passenger door sighed open automatically.
Dacia sat staring at the strange figure that had just rescued her, uncertain what to say or do. Then, on impulse, she leaned across the center console, gave him a hug, and kissed him on the side of the helmet.
"Thank you," she said softly.
The Stig regarded her for a moment, then fractionally inclined his head in acknowledgement. With a smile, Dacia slid out of the car. Her mother's head of security announced her safe return into his earpiece as the others fanned out to check the grounds. The Stig's Interceptor glided between them, nosed around the decorative fountain in front of the house, and rumbled back down the drive, where the gates once again parted to let it pass unchallenged.
"Who was that, Miss Dacia?" the security chief asked.
Dacia watched the Interceptor until its taillights disappeared around the corner at the end of the drive, then turned her smile to him.
"A white knight," she said.
Back at Tesco, the stockboy with whom the Stig had left his basket was still trying to decide whether he should re-shelve the items, turn the basket in to the service desk, or what when the figure in the white racing suit and helmet re-entered the store and made directly for him. Apart from the bullet holes in his chest, he looked no different than he had when he'd left the store a few minutes before.
Well, that and the big red kiss mark on the side of his helmet.
Unconcerned with the stockboy's open stare of astonishment, the Stig collected his shopping basket and went in search of tinned salmon.Eyrie Productions, Unlimited
The Chronicles of the Stig
The Sandero Affair
by Benjamin D. Hutchins
The Stig created by Jeremy Clarkson
Special to the Eyrie Productions Discussion Forum
E P U (colour) 2008