Day 2, 6:37 AM
Luke worked quietly on the car, the little last-minute things everyone had to do, between clearing out the last of the chip crumbs, making sure their patch-job on the radio still worked, and triple-checking the car's fluids. Linda, Scott, and Amy were slowly waking up, and once they had, the speed at which they had the camp packed up was impressive.
Day 2, 8:30 AM
The driver's meeting was a touch nerve-wracking, as they were all reminded that yesterday was easy compared with today. They were reminded that their prize at the end wasn't for money, but glory, bragging rights, and some really damn good food. Luke looked at Linda, Scott, and Amy, who gave a chuckle, reading Luke's expressionless face perfectly. They knew he'd drive just as hard to win as anyone else would, even though for him, the only prize was glory, and even that was minimal.
Day 2, 8:33 AM
As Team Arstotska took off down the mountain, Luke held the key down on the old Sinistra Sure-Start system, hearing the whining motor bringing the inertia-starter's flywheel up to speed. The red light glowed angrily just before Luke released the key and brought the engine to life with a snarling roar. Hiding in the rumble of the engine was the screaming bearing in the power steering pump, and the chattering, wailing clutch for the engine's cooling fan, the hissing of steam on a heatsink covered in dew, all little things that added up to the reasons the Sinistra's price was so cheap.
Linda looked up from her new copy of Mountain Pass, then said, "Well, sounds like it's okay. Well, okay, it sounds like shit and runs like hell, but we all know I don't like old V8's, okay?"
"How can you not like this sound? It's iconic, a classic." Scott replied.
"Because I like the sound of an inline 6 better. This sounds like a rust bucket."
Luke looked at the clock, one of the few things in the car that was still working just fine. 8:35.
"Right, time to go." he said, putting the car in Drive. For a terrifyingly long second, nothing happened, followed by a heavy clunk and a thud as the car started moving forward.
"Luke, why does it feel like the gears are being changed by a gremlin with a sledgehammer?!" Amy asked, seeming surprised by the violence of going into first, then first to second.
"I tried a little $80 fix last night. Drained the transmission fluid, put all new stuff in. High-grade hydraulic oil, with a high temperature rating and slightly more viscosity. Downside is, it's going to feel like that when it's cold."
"And you just happened to have that with you?"
"Well... I was hoping to save it in the event I blew a line, but if that happens, the purity of my fluids is the least of my concerns. Transmission fluid will work in a pinch, trust me, I know that one from experience. Always use an appropriate jack when lifting a truck, don't just grab the frame and hoist it up. Lesson I learned on that one."
Day 2, Leg 1
"Oh, geez. Luke, we already know this car sucks down hills." Scott said, feeling the car sliding a little on the way down the mountain. "Can you take it a bit easier, I'm getting nauseous."
"You should be, you had 8 beers last night. And who-knows-what that you got from Southend or Bust." Linda commented, giving a wicked grin.
"Not my fault that my taste for music and theirs overlapped, so I told 'em to turn it up."
Luke shook his head, then said, "Yeah, but we've got a long drive ahead of us, and I'd have appreciated having all four available drivers having a clear head."
As they made their way down the mountain road, all of them noticed that the brakes felt a bit better this time. "What'd you do?" Amy asked.
"Cold brakes. Between cold brakes and force-shifting the transmission, I can keep 'em colder so they'll last longer. And this is child's play compared to the first hill we had, where we found we had very little in the way of brakes on that one."
They turned onto the highway, and the giddy gremlin with a gear to grind took a good whack at every gear change. They hurtled through first, thud, then through second, thud, and all the way to the top end of third, thud, before settling into fourth, with the rest of the car carrying all the usual noises that it could make. Bearings in the power steering pump shrieked, the fan clutch chattered and wailed at full speed, the alternator rattled as they approached their top speeds for that leg, and the engine roared as Luke put his foot to the floor.
An ominous rumble shuddered through the unibody frame of the old convertible, and everyone looked at the car with worry, wondering if this was going to be the end.
Linda and Amy stared at Scott, followed by the instant look of panic turning into disgust. "I felt that through the god-damn frame! Oh my god, that fucking reeks!" Amy said.
"Top's already down, only thing I may be able to do is try driving faster." Luke said. The engine howled as Luke demanded all that was available from 662 cubic inches of twin-turbocharged V8, the turbos giving an angry hiss as he backed off a bit.
"What. The fuck. Did you eat?" Linda asked, gagging as Scott tried not to laugh, more from fear of breathing his own fumes than any retribution from the team.
"I don't know, I was drunk!"
Luke let off the gas and the car shuddered as it slowed down, the air pushing against it dragging it down far faster than the brakes would at those speeds, before flinging it onto the country road. He poured on the gas again and hoped for the best, the engine picking up speed slowly.
"Hey, look, right there, isn't that Team Arstotska?" Amy said, trying to distract herself from the lingering fumes from the back seat.
"Yeah, but they're going to cross the line before we can pass 'em." Linda said.
"True. But that's not going to stop me from trying to pass them anyway." Luke said, the engine roaring as they made up the time they lost going down the hill with raw speed on flat ground.
"Slow down, Luke, there's no point in this!" Scott yelled, as every bump seemed extra fierce to him at that point, and speed wasn't helping matters.
"Nope. I'm going to try to give them an excellent view of our grille in their rear view mirror. And sure, we'll miss that target by quite a distance, but we're not being slow." Luke said.
True to Luke's word, they weren't able to overtake the little Communitasia Wagon, but he figured if they had another 20 miles of flat road, it would've been no contest.
Day 2, Leg 1 Aftermath
With the car smelling like rotten eggs from the overheated catalytic converters, and distilled death from Scott's exhaust blast in the back seat, no one wanted to be in or around it for a good little while. Amy took one of the super-heated ceramic blocks off of the catalytic and used it to cook a late breakfast, resting one of Luke's pans on top of it.
Scott, naturally, was told to keep downwind of the team so that his 'exhaust leak' wouldn't possibly affect the rest of the team. Luke checked the fluids and found nothing to be out of place yet, and Linda decided to finish reading the copy of Mountain Pass they'd gotten from team Mountain Pass.
Seems to be fine, despite behaving differently today due to adjustments being made. Mechanically identical to day 1, Leg 11 in what's wrong with it. Currently smells really bad.
MRL +8 overall. Feeling great. Scott's worried someone's going to attack him with the spare catalytic converter. Luke's annoyed at a rip in the driver's seat. Amy dropped three jellybeans in the carpet and now they're a permanent fixture in the car. Linda is reading about fun FWD cars.