Sorry to necro this. I did promise a final chapter to the story, so here it is. As an aside, characters and events involving @DeusExMackia @BailsMackenzie and @TheBobWiley are referenced.
In which Our Protagonists Almost Die Before They Even Get To The Start
In Which Our Protagonists Are Introduced And Act Like Somewhat Normal People
In Which They Noise Pollute Like College Frat Boys And Are Thoroughly Outdone by a Blue Man
In Which They Argue About Playing Gay Chicken With Keys Being Hidden in Unmentionable Places
In Which Gay Chicken Is Played But Kai Forgets the Chicken Part and Strop Loses
In Which Strop Fails Emissions Ratings and Team Southend are Scarred For Life
In Which Toothless Starts Wheezing and Strop’s Butt Unleashes a Can of Whoopass on Team Clutch Droppers
In Which Toothless Is Mortally Wounded And Team Flaming Fart Cannon Call it a Day
In Which Toothless Is Given A Viking Sendoff
“FUCK”, Strop shouted, rearing backwards, only, he was lying on a firm hotel mattress, so instead of jumping back, his knee shot up and into Kai’s crotch. At that proximity, no amount of race driver reflexes was going to save his tenders, so Kai was punted off the bed and onto the floor, where he lay in a groaning heap.
“Totally worth it,” he squeaked, while Strop sat upright, clutching his chest and blowing hard. “Seriously, what time is it?” Wiping his bleary eyes, he checked his phone and bugged out. “Three thirty? Seriously?”
Still clutching his family jewels, Kai rolled over and hauled himself over the side of the bed, such that only his face was visible to Strop. “Yep. Gotta go fast or we’ll miss the deadline.”
Inside, Strop was screaming in anguish of the day’s sleep ruined. Outwardly, he couldn’t be fucked to scream. “But we’re already out of the running. There’s no deadline to keep except the flight. Which is the day after tomorrow.”
“Yeah, but the party will be going on for a full day after the deadline. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be there. Getting drunk. Very.” Finally done checking that his balls were still anatomically intact, Kai immediately moved his hand from down his pants, to pick his nose.
Strop said nothing. Instead, he rolled away from Kai and stuck his pillow over his head. Bad mistake: Two seconds later, he leapt screaming from the bed, pillow and all, as Kai had poked him, hard, in the ribs.
“OH FUCK OFF, SERIOUSLY.” But it was too late, now he was fully awake and out of bed. Grumbling, he stumped to the bathroom to wash his face. Kai rattled off the itinerary as if he hadn’t terrorised Strop into doing anything at all: “It’s about a twelve hour drive from here to San Diego, but since we’ll be going faster, that’ll be twelve hours because we’ll be buying alcohol in San Francisco. If we leave now we’ll get to San Francisco and finish breakfast just as the stores open.”
Clearly he had been awake for some time. Since there was no stopping the determination train now that it had well and truly left the station, Strop resigned himself sacrificing three hours of darkness to driving down boring highway. Which gave him a thought he never thought he would have on this trip.
“Right. You’re driving. I’ll be sleeping until we get to San Fran.”
Impenetrable blackness punctuated by white lines and the occasional set of lights gave way to the gentle glow of sunrise, just in time to witness the approaching skyline of San Francisco from between the iconic arches of the Golden Gate bridge. Strop’s eyes cracked open, yawning, he unpeeled himself from the B-pillar of their hire-a-land-barge and stretched his aching neck. Strop liked San Fran, for its cosmopolitan quirkiness. In fact one could go so far as to say it was his favourite city in CA. Kind of a cultured mishmash of Melbourne and Sydney put together, his recollection of it was as a city of hidden art stores, cable cars, unionised homeless people, and really fucking steep hills. Speaking of which, there was a preemptive warning he had to make:
“Kai, no getting air through the intersections.”
“And don’t even think about attempting to drift through Lombard Street.”
Kai pouted. “Okay, now you’re just being a spoilsport.”
“Not me, but I guarantee you there’ll be heaps of traffic and pedestrians all over the place.”
“…so if we go there and there’s none I can drift through Lombard Street?”
Strop glared at Kai, but his brow was quivering because the temptation to not only do such a thing, but also film it, was very, very strong. “No comment.”
“Well, let’s just hope that the hire people don’t bother looking underneath the car,” muttered Strop as he swung the auto barge back onto the freeway several gallons of fuel and a liquor cabinet in the boot heavier.
“It’s not like I actually got any air,” countered Kai, who had clearly been sin-binned for his antics. “Hollywood movies are bullshit, this fatass can’t jump to save its life.”
“Not for lack of trying,” Strop snorted. “I think my nose is still bleeding from banging it on the dash.”
“Worth it.” Kai wound the chair back as far as it would go, kicked his feet up on the dash, and cracked a beer. Strop squited at him. “Really? Already?”
“I’m pre-gaming,” Kai explained, slurping the froth before it could spill down his shirt.
“It’s like nine hours to San Diego, more if we stop in LA.”
“We are not stopping in LA,” said Kai, unusually emphatic.
“Yeah nah, agreed.”
There was silence in the cabin for some minutes, punctuated only by the pop and hiss of yet another old America-mobile blowing a gasket, bonnet flying up and a deluge of steam flooding the lane. Then the pungent dankness of an entire neighbourhood worth of blazing up, and then they were back in the open air with the houses trailing off but the traffic as thick as ever.
That was when it happened. And by it, that would be Kai linking his personal playlist to the boomstick speaker. The first Strop knew, was when the twangy tones of a yakety banjo and a suspiciously masculine voice shattered his auditory Zen.
NOT SAFE FOR WORK. You were warned.
Dot com dot com,
Dot com dot com,
Strop frowned. “What the hell is this?”
And then it began in earnest. With Kai singing, with manic glee, over the top, because he clearly knew it inside out.
Vi har dejligt-piger dot com,
Vi har smukke-piger dot com,
Vi har piger-liker-piger dot com,
Og vi har piger-liker-krem dot com,
“Kai! Translate! Now! What’s all the dot coms for?”
But Kai wouldn’t translate, he would only sing more, and Strop had to resort to listening out for any more Danglish lines, which were rapidly forthcoming:
Vi har sadomachist dot com,
Og vi har spank-me-til-I-come dot com,
The penny dropped for Strop. “IT’S A PORN SONG!”
Vi har asian-fantasy dot com,
Vi har big-black-thick-monster-dick dot com,
“PUT IT ON REPEAT, PUT IT ON REPEAT, I’M GONNA LEARN DANGLISH,” Strop hyperventilated, ironically unaware of the fact that Raske-menn were actually Norwegians pretending to be Danes for the purposes of this one song.
And so that was how the hours of long straight highways of California passed by, with plenty of Strop yelling “FUCK!” mid-song for the first four, because he couldn’t get his tongue around the chorus.
For rundt tre og en halv by fluffy, skal du få din egen internett site…
As the car pulled into their destination, the song was still going, and Strop had finally nailed it, not to mention, he had also taken the extreme liberty (of questionable legality) of ‘pre-gaming’ himself. So now they were both a bit buzzed, and singing a fake-Danish song which was obviously about internet porn, at the top of their voice.
“What DOES that mean anyway?” Strop asked, finally, while hauling the grog out of the boot.
Kai fobbed him off. “I’ll tell you later.”
Just as they were about to leave the carpark for the beach where the party was clearly in full swing, Strop hesitated. “Do you think they’ve forgiven us for-”
But Kai was already tearing across the sand with an armful of grog. “HEY SUCKERS,” he announced. “WE MADE IT, AND WE BROUGHT BEER.” Fortunately, it worked; the provision of much grog went a long way to smoothing over even the most heinous of sins, and far from being tarred and feathered and run outta town, they were welcomed once more into the fold.
It could have been a few minutes, or several hours later, Strop couldn’t be sure, but what he could be sure about, was that he was well and truly soused. He wasn’t sure what direction his ears were pointing. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what direction the ground was pointing, but he sure as hell knew despite that he could still do a backflip.
“And I-Iiiisshhh tell yuse wat,” Kai slurred, his face a bright shade of red and his arms around as much of Team Southend as he could manage, “Shhhhtråp w-woooooud like to apolægissshhhe for bein shuuch a flamin fard cannon.”
“Go fuck yoursheelf,” from his recumbent position, Strop flipped the bird at Kai. “I’m shorry for noshing. Matter of ffffact, I feel another fire in the hole coming.”
Despite the relative inebriation of all present, James, Seb and Martin all dove for cover. “Haha, just kidding,” Strop called out to nobody in particular. “I can’t even ffeeeell my butthole.”
“Too late, Shtråp, they åhrl ran away.” Kai waved the furiously departing figures with a giggle. “Oh, hey, look, iss Team Clutch Droppers, we shoud apolægissshhhe to dem too!”
Strop couldn’t remember the part where he was dragged through the sand, moaning and weakly protesting but too incapacitated to mount a coordinated resistance. Somehow, though, he did get a souvenir on his phone of a beach selfie with Team Clutch Droppers, complete with all of them wearing matching air-fresheners over their noses. After that, Kai went charging into the water while still wearing all of his clothes because beach party, bitches. Strop was definitely sure that even if he could do a backflip, if he so much as trod in the water he would probably drown. That was fine. He didn’t like swimming anyway. And there was this very nice guy named Phil talking to him about the traumatic experience of his ex-girlfriend sacrificing him to the devil which he had recurring dreams about, which sounded really exciting, so exciting that he wasn’t sure exactly when he passed out, but all he remembered was-
-waking up in a hotel room, with one bed. With Kai in the same bed. With Kai awake, and leaning over him again. But this time, he was too dizzy and had far too massive a headache to knee him in the crotch.
“Bro, I have a question. How does E ever sleep in the same bed as you, when it’s like fucking Street Fighter on a mattress?”
“Huh? Dude, when E and I sleep on the same bed, wait- HUUUUUURK.”
That was Strop retching; with a new burst of energy, he pushed Kai off and stumbled to the bathroom, where he made a loud and messy offering to the porcelain gods. “Ugh. Fuck me sideways, this is why I swore off binge drinking. I have a fucking headache and I’m STILL drunk.”
“No constitution. And this is why horses are such weak shit,” Kai stood in the doorway grinning.
“Fuck you.” Strop scowled, wiping sick off his mouth. “You were definitely way more wrecked than I was, how are you not dying right now.”
“Actually, I’ll have you know-” Kai started, before turning a peculiar shade of green. “Actually, move.” Strop barely had any time to pitch to the side before Kai also collapsed over the bowl and made his own voluminous offering.
“Oh man. We are so fucked,” moaned Strop. He was right. And that was how they spent the next God knows how long. The pale blue light of day was creeping through the room before they were done, and at some point they’d possibly fallen asleep, faces mashed against the toilet. Now Strop couldn’t feel his limbs, for the reason that they had lain on the bathroom floor all night. Peeling himself upright, he stared at Kai. He could only imagine how much worse off the little guy was. And when were they supposed to be leaving anyway? Didn’t they have a flight to catch?
“Hey. Dude. Wake up.” He shook Kai’s shoulder. “What time is it.”
Kai blinked, the bags under his eyes crinkling. Wow, he looked like shit. “I dun - fuck…” He turned his wrist over and sqinted at his watch. “Is halv ti.” It didn’t help that half his mouth was still stuck to the floor.
Strop tried again. “Dude. English. When are we supposed to return the car?”
“Middag, probs, et??”
Good enough. “And get to the airport?”
“Vi er fucked, please lad mig dø…”
On second thoughts, why the fuck was he relying on Kai, inveterate travel ditz, to tell him their itinerary? He wasn’t much better but at least he was better. So on all fours he crawled over to the bed, fumbling for the phone where he had all the details, as well as, of course, the time.
Several seconds later, Kai covered his ears and winced as Strop screamed. “HOLD KÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆÆFT,” he yelled back, the act sending a fresh vice grip washing through his head.
“No, seriously, we gotta fucking RUN.” Strop appeared in the doorway again, looking far more alert, panicked even. “It’s ELEVEN. And our GATE CLOSES at twelve, nevermind the fucking rental car!”
Kai rolled his eyes. “Åh nej, ka vi ikke blive til den morgenmads buffet…”
Strop bugged his eyes out. “Buffet???”
Kai slumped back to the floor. “Murderate meh…”
“Nnnnnngh.” Strop seemed to be meditating somewhat fierce, perhaps preparing to deliver sweet merciful release. Then, contrary to his desires, Kai’s world tilted as he was hauled up and slung over Strop’s shoulder and carried out the door.
“You can die later. Now, we have a plane to catch.”
They’d sunk a lot of piss. For that, they looked and felt like shit. They smelt like vomit. Customs visibly recoiled when they shuffled up to the desk and waved them through just to get rid of them. By some miracle they’d not gotten booked for DUI, the rental office had allowed them to forgo the wait to see if they’d get their security deposit back before leaving, and best of all, they’d somehow managed to endure the torture of a sixteen hour flight. Sixteen hours. It was almost enough to drive them back to the drink, but now they were on the home stretch.
“Slå mig ihjel…”
Kai was still putting on his dying act, sprawled over the luggage trolley. Strop scowled, “Dude, could you not, I can’t believe that this of all times they actually let us back in without a cavity search first.”
“Det er ikke mord, det er for at skåne mig…”
Strop sighed. Between his own still present drungover (just how much did he really have???) and the inert non-English-speaking lump he had to drag home, the journey just seemed to get harder and harder. But first, he was gonna get some dinner buffet into him. And let the GG crew know that at least they were still in one piece.
Hannah replied first. “how’d it go?” she sent, expectantly.
“Toothless is buried,” Strop replied.
Maybe so, after all that, but that would never take away from his valiant final flight, to a country far away and lands unseen. A journey they had shared and would remember forever. Except for the parts they got so blind drunk they’d forgotten, of course. And it wasn’t entirely clear that the fart cannon parts were suitable to tell the grandkids. There was no telling what kids would attempt with a lighter these days. But hey, it was their parting gift, and they had given it in a way, somehow, that was fitting to them, and that was a great a gift to an old friend that anybody could have thought to give.
Hopefully Kai would eventually come to that same appreciation, provided he survived his hangover, that was.
Several months later
The momentum at the GG HQ was picking up faster than ever, an ever growing buzz as their roster continued to expand. As much as the products of their new agenda faced journalistic skepticism, the timeless novelty of ekeing out ludicrous speed from any situation was also met with curiosity and a lingering temptation. Nobody said that transforming the industry was going to be easy, after all.
On a whim, Strop poked his head into the tuner garage, curious that one of the vehicles there didn’t match the description of any of the pending jobs. To his surprise, one burgundy Cisalpina Scattante was parked in the IT Works bay, wires streaming from the cabin. Seated among them, was Kai, and behind the bank of computers from which the wires ran, was Waxwell, who had his giant headphones on and was clearly listening to K-pop.
“Oh, hey bro, we’re just prepping to reflash the ECU.”
“Wow, I didn’t think you’d actually get around to it.”
Kai blew a raspberry at him. “Well, Babygirl is mine after all, so after we get the mapping done we’ll port polish rebalance install the new turbo system, then actually do the ECU, get Noah to replace the wiring and-”
“Hold up hold up,” Strop put his palm up. “Did you just call this car, Babygirl?”
Kai looked affronted. “What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s a fucking terrible name. It’s like, Bianca turns up for a date in her best evening dress and you’re all, ‘whatup, ho.’”
“I’ll have you know, Bianca calls her,” at this point Kai put his hands over the Scattante’s mirrors and dropped his voice to a scandalised whisper, “Buttrocket.”
Strop doubled over laughing. “I love it! That’s it, she’s Buttrocket from now on.”
“Nooooooo! Take it back! Babygirl’s much nicer!”
“BUTTROCKET! BUTTROCKET! BUTTROCKET!” whinneying and laughing madly, Strop bolted out of the room, Kai sprinting after him yelling threats about how his beautiful car wouldn’t stand for such a crass insult. The debate would rage on for much longer yet, but only time would tell what kind of legend Kai’s new car would carve for itself, in the annals of the Gryphon Gear lore.