Day 2, 10a-Noon - “Danger to Manifold”
DING! “Catalyst Failure. Prompt Service is Required.”
“Jake, can you do something about that?” Marcus asked, having put up with it for nearly an hour.
“Not while we’re running. Have to flash a patch to the ECU to make it think the Cat’s fine, or possibly think it doesn’t need one.” Jake said.
“And this can’t be done while it’s on why, exactly?” Marcus asked, giving a light glare.
“Gotta pull the EPROM and do this the hard way. I’ve got a spare in my electronics kit, but flashing that chip doesn’t instantly fix the problem, gotta yank the one that’s in there. Thankfully, I installed a socket last time I was in there, so this will be relatively easy.”
“Ah. Considering that sounds incredibly technical, about how long will it take you to do that?”
“Maybe 5 minutes. Go fill the gas tank, it’ll take longer.” Jake said.
The car rolled into Jeffrey City at full pelt, screeching into the gas station under full noise and neons, the eurobeat only cutting out when the ignition switched off. Mercifully, the obnoxious green glow-mobile blanked out and Marcus got out to fill the gas tank. Jake crawled over the seat, carrying a slim black chip in his hand like it was made of precious metals, then reached under the dash and gave the ECU a quick, sharp tug. “Gotta love Dynamite and their hard-mounted edge connectors. Makes ECU swaps easy, I bet.” Jake said, grinning.
“Oh, it used to be a real problem on the 80’s ones. They’d fry 'em left and right. Bad alternator design, the voltage regulators would go and the ECU would get 20 volts straight to the board. Nothing’s gonna survive that.” Trevor said. “Used to work on my fair share of the stupid things. Swap the alternator, pull the ECU, shove the new one in there, and let the car auto-calibrate.”
Jake flipped the lid open, got out the chip puller, yanked the main memory chip, then carefully put the second one in place. He flipped the lid closed, put the two screws back in, then shoved the ECU back into the slot under the dash.
About this time, Marcus and Cody recognized they had a bit of a crowd forming around them, including a guy in a huge cowboy hat and several other people who had some gifts for them. Never ones to pass up a free lunch, they politely accepted the sack lunches and some coffee in their travel mugs, and were glad when several people worked together to squeegee the last of the vegemite and the dirt-dicks off of their windows.
“You’re the ninth in three hours, you know?” the guy said.
“That’s actually good to know. We’re in a race, so… Yeah, we’re not doing so good, but we’re not last yet.” Jake said, his laptop propped open on the center console."
“What happened to the car?” someone asked.
“Oh, you mean the questionable drawings and the slime on the window? Motel stop, we’ve annoyed some of the other teams, but we gave as good as we got. They drew in the dirt, we gave them a pink racing stripe. Other team that got us, they’re in a teal shitbox. Smeared something disgusting all over the windshield, set us back about 10 minutes to clear most of it.” Cody said.
“What made them do that?”
“I shot at them with a party cannon. Guess they didn’t like my idea of a free metallic paint-job from all the glitter that showered their car.” Trevor replied.
“So you’re saying you guys deserved it?”
“Pretty much. Look, if you could do us a favor, if the teal thing’s not been through here yet, could you guys put diesel in their gas tank, slow 'em up a bit?” Trevor inquired, giving a wicked smile.
“Nah, don’t think so. That’s not good sportsmanship. Plus we don’t have diesel at this station.”
“Fair enough. Maybe just old coffee, then?” Jake asked, handing over a $20.
“Could give one of 'em a cup of last night’s brew. That’s at least acceptable.” the person said, taking the cash.
“Thanks. And thanks for clearing the windows for us, that would’ve been a real pain to explain to a cop if we got pulled over.” Marcus said, getting back into the car.
“Oh, have you seen a car with a bright pink racing stripe on it?” Trevor asked, grinning.
“Yeah, they came through here a couple hours ago, got gas. Broke their timing belt and their car wouldn’t start. Looked so upset when it happened, too.”
“Damn. Was looking forward to passin’ them, too.” Marcus said.
“Mister, something under that car’s glowing, and I don’t mean like the green lights you came in here with.”
Cody looked, then said, “Oh, yeah, that’s because we’ve got nitrous, so we really overheated the emissions crap on this car. It’ll be fine, we’re out of passing gas.”
With the fuel stop completed, the Hooligans hurtled out of the station with the volume turned up to 11 and the neons glowing.
DING! “Please Buckle your Seat Belt.”
Marcus reached and buckled the belt, and the angry flashing light on the dash winked out. After a few minutes of glorious silence, they all cheered. “Jake, you’re a fuckin’ genius with that thing! Ivan’s not bitching about the emissions equipment.”
“Disabled the Catalytic Converter Warnings. Won’t tell us about a catalyst overtemp or a catalyst failure, but leaves the others intact. Figured that was better than completely disabling the audible alert system entirely, as it can give some useful information at times.”
DING! “Exhaust Backpressure Exceeded Normal Limits.”
“Well, that’s not good.” Cody said. “Whaddya think?”
“Clogged cat. We had the engine off, it cooled down, some of it solidified and now we’ve got an exhaust restriction. Could stop and take it off, or we keep driving on it and hope it’s not blocked enough to reduce power.” Trevor said.
“Not on my watch.” Jake said, getting the laptop open. He prodded at the keys and gave a light grin. “We’ll burn a little more gas for a few miles, but it should do the trick.” he said.
“The fuck did you do?” Marcus said, feeling the engine’s power dropping slightly.
“Basically told it to fire spark later, so some of that exhaust can leave unburned. Then turned up the fuel trim to keep the power up, mostly. Should have the wanted effect in about 15 miles.”
20 miles later, they heard a loud bang from under the car, and some crackling that rattled the whole length of the car as well. Jake immediately backed off the fuel trim adjustment and restored the timing to standard, then said, “Everything’s okay, we’ve just blown up the catalyst.”
“That was fucking loud!” Cody said.
“Well, we did just have a gas explosion in the catalytic, and it did just spray bits of hot metal out the pipe all over the road, so I’m not surprised it was loud.” Trevor said.
Marcus chuckled, then said, “Should’ve let me yank the bastard while we were at home, would’ve saved us the trouble and some fuel.”
“Didn’t figure we’d need to blow it up, but then again, maybe the teal turd will run over some hot metal and burst a tire. Either way, we’re traveling at a great rate of speed, and we heard from back there that some of our competition’s out. Let’s just enjoy what we can while we can, and hammer down until we pass other people. And Trevor, man the party cannon in case the teal shitbox shows up again.” Jake said.
Trevor nodded, then stuffed some wadded up tissue paper down into the cannon, poured in three pounds of glitter, and another paper ball on top. “Won’t be aiming in front of their car this time. Hope they like media-blasting by glitter.” he said.
With the cannon loaded, the four of them decided to dig into their lunch bags. “Oh, perfect! Tuna salad! Plus chips. Not a bad haul.” Marcus said. He held the wheel with his left hand, and the sandwich in his right, eating quickly.
“I’ve got grilled cheese and ham, and chips as well.” Jake said, taking a bite.
“Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato.” Trevor said, taking a hungry bite.
“Got a pair of bratwurst! Can’t beat that.” Cody mentioned, before digging in.
“Gotta admit,” Marcus said between bites, “they did things right with the food. Sure, it’s mixed, but you can mix and match if you don’t like what you got. And none of us are picky, we do what we must because we can.”
“Yeah, having a cast iron stomach helps when stealing food from the other teams.” Trevor said. “That, and a bit of good luck when it comes to knowing what’s worth taking and what ain’t worth shit. Like lifting that jar of 'shine out of the back of the truck on the first day. Never knew it would be good, but it made for a hell of a party. Or all the water bottles out of that shitty blue coupe.”
“Can’t believe you did that.” Marcus said, laughing. “Of all the things, why the water?”
“Well, if you’re gonna pack enough water to ride a horse through a desert, I’m gonna take it. Means if we blow a radiator hose, the car gets to drink as good as us. Plus, it just made sense while I was busy getting that beer out of the station wagon, they were close enough together that I could hop from one to the other with a minimum of sneaking.” Trevor said.
“What else have you stolen?”
“Well, you already know the beef jerky was in the camo-lunchbox that had the shine, and I already told you where that came from, and you know the beer and the water bottles… Swiped a package of Kosher hot-dogs from some red car and ate those while wandering around the lot stealing other stuff. Don’t think they noticed me, or I’m sure I’d have heard about it. Plus, they had two other packs, who’s gonna miss one? Then there was the red lunchbox that had the cheesecake we ate. And the chips that, well, I can’t remember which car I stole those from, honestly. At that point, I’d gotten into the beer I found in the back of that truck, the shitty beer that wasn’t all that good, but it got me drunk. Think I took stuff from a few more cars after that, but I don’t know. And I remember leaving a bottle of piss in the back of one of them, though I don’t know who I did that to.” Trevor said.
“So what you’re saying is, we’ve got enemies we don’t even know in this race, and yet, no one’s acted on it much?” Marcus asked.
“Pretty much. Either they haven’t noticed or haven’t cared enough to find out who did it. Or they kinda knew who did it, but can’t be bothered.”
They continued on for the rest of the time-block, lazily eating their sack lunches, downing their coffee, and letting more garbage hit the fresh air.
Morale: +2 (NC)
Fatigue: +7 (+2)
Status: Cannon reloaded, fuel tank filled, free food (not even stolen this time!) and coffee, plus some miles under their belts. It’s a good day so far.
Notes: Will glitter-bomb the next car to (try to) pass them.
(OOC: Yep, the plot thickens. More disasters await those who were anywhere near the Hooligans at any point in time. Of course, completely optional, but possibly worth a laugh for some mild conflict among teams and team members. And I figured it made sense, @Zabhawkin, to pretty much make the moonshine and beef jerky yours, as it was half-implied earlier. After all, now would be when it, and any other things you might want ‘inconveniently missing’ to not be there. The Hooligans pretty much stuck to food and drinks, only because they’re immediately usable.)