Avalon County Entertainment System

Channel Select: Avalon Broadcasting System (Channel 17)

Program start_

Marlene Dietrich
"Lili Marlene"
Decca 23456A (1945)

Tuesday, June 4, 1946
Brasserie Le Météore
Aubure, Gallia

None of the midday regulars took much notice of the quiet Liberion. Strangers weren't as unusual in the little cafés and brewery-restaurants of Alsace these days as they had been in older times, what with all the Allied military activity in the area, and this particular one wasn't terribly conspicuous. Dressed in plain khaki clothing, he arrived in a civilian automobile, and a small, unostentatious one at that. Soft-spoken and polite (albeit he spoke Gallic with a slightly tragic accent), he took a seat toward the end of the zinc counter, ordered a chocolate frappé, and didn't bother anyone as he sat drinking it.

While he was about it, another one arrived, and this one made a bit more of a stir. For one thing, she pulled up on a large and noisy Liberion motorcycle. For another, she was a much more striking specimen in her own right: a buxom young redhead in a brown leather flying jacket, she came into the brasserie with a certain assertive swagger that would have marked her out as an aviator even if her lack of trousers hadn't immediately identified her as a witch.

Without outwardly acknowledging the startled looks of the regulars, the witch sauntered up to the counter and - although there were a number of seats available - took the one right next to the man with the frappé. He somehow contrived to seem as if he hadn't noticed her while at the same time making it obvious that he had, sipping unconcernedly at his beverage while she sat and regarded him with an insouciant grin. This went on for perhaps twenty seconds, at the end of which she addressed him in a low, playful voice:

"You ever been caught out on these mountain roads alone before?"

The man in khaki took another sip of his frappé, then turned his head to give the redhead a nonchalant look. "Nope," he said. "I never have." Turning his attention back to his drink, he went casually on, "I don't think I ever will," then shook his head and added, "Never did meet the girl who could catch me out there."

The redhead's grin got a little wider. "I'm half jackrabbit," she said.

The man chuckled and finished off his frappé, then put the empty glass down and told her, "Forget it, flygirl. You'd never catch me."

"I believe I will," the witch replied.

Rising from his seat, the man shook his head again, unable to keep a slight smile from stealing onto his face. "Can't be done," he said; then he turned, left the brasserie, got into his little blue car, and drove away.

The redhead sat where he'd left her for a few moments, still grinning; then she, too, rose. Straightening her jacket, she sauntered back outside exactly as she'd sauntered in, threw a leg over her bike, fired it up, and then roared off in hot pursuit.

In her wake, the patrons and staff of Le Météore glanced quizzically at each other, silently wondering, Qu'est-ce qui vient de se passer?


ZZ Top
"Doubleback"
Recycler (1990)

Flying Yak Studios
and
Bacon Comics Group
in association with
The International Police Organization
Avalon Broadcasting System and
The Crown Colony Commonwealth Bastion Broadcasting Corporation
present

Lensmen: The Brave and the Bold
Our Witches at War
another serial experiment

© 2015 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited

Red Nose Day 2411 Special:
"Pursuit of Happiness"

From Le Météore, on the eastern edge of Aubure, to Château Saint-Ulrich overlooking Ribeauvillé, one had a choice of two routes. The longer, but somewhat easier, one followed the Route de Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines straight across the Alsatian countryside, all the way around Ribeauvillé, and then doubled back up the eastern side of the hill on which the castle stood. The other, shorter but more challenging, turned off the Sainte-Marie road about halfway between the two towns and followed a narrower, hillier, and much more twisting route up through the wooded hills, to approach the castle from the northwest.

In either case, one had a fairly straight run from Aubure up much of the length of the river Muesbach, then an epic complex of curves, followed by another, shorter straight(ish) stretch to the turnoff for the hill road. If one didn't turn off there, the rest of the run into Ribeauvillé had few surprises in store (though then one had to get around the town and up the eastern approach to the castle).

As he drove along the Muesbach, Gryphon caught a glint of chrome in his rearview mirror and knew that his pursuer's powerful modified Indian was catching up to him already. On the straights, her bike had a greater turn of speed to call on than any Belv could hope to muster. His only hope was to somehow contrive to stay ahead of her until they got to the twisty bits.

Half a mile behind and closing fast, Shirley Yeager knew that just as well as he did. Hunched over the handlebars, she keyed her squadron commbud and declared cheerfully, "You're not even gonna make it to the Strenbach!"

Gryphon activated his own radio and replied, "Oh, I think I might. You see, my dear Captain Yeager, as you well know, this is no ordinary Belv."

Grinning, he reached down into the footwell next to his left leg, took hold of a yellow metal D-handle mounted there, and pulled it. Instantly, the Belv's buzzy engine note became a much louder, throatier noise, less a buzz than a snarl, as the exhaust header disconnected from the pipe leading to the rear-mounted muffler, while the whole was underlaid by a high-pitched mechanical whine from the supercharger kicking in. The little car surged forward, its pilot countersteering against the rear wheels' sudden attempt to slide out, as the power being transmitted through them more than doubled.

"What I have here," Gryphon declared, his voice now raised to a gleeful shout over the angry howl of the little engine, "is now the most powerful Belv... in the world!"

Even with the boost from the supercharger, he very nearly didn't beat her to the bends where the road crossed from the banks of one river to the other - but beat her there he did, and the surefooted little car gained so much ground on the big, heavy bike through the switchbacks up the ridge that he was well ahead when they came flying back out onto the straight again. They flashed past Minna's favorite local restaurant, the Bonséjour, doing the better part of 120 miles per hour, with Shirley catching up again.

"This is the best game ever!" Shirley declared, flashing her headlight's high beam as she closed in on the Belv's rear bumper.

Gryphon said nothing, only laughed, as he gauged the distances for the trickiest part of the run. The turnoff onto the hill route was an extremely sharp lefthand bend from this direction - more than 90 degrees - and if he didn't get it exactly right he would end up upside down in a very deep ditch. Shirley knew it, too, and her strategy was to prevent him from attempting it at all. If she could get close enough and stay on his left, she could crowd him into aborting the maneuver and committing to the straight run into Ribeauvillé instead, at which point she'd have him.

Grinning fiercely, Gryphon poured on a little more speed than he really dared, then made his move, slewing the Belv to the left with a bit of heel-and-toe, a violent downshift, and just a dab of handbrake. The car's narrow tires wailed, then skittered on the gravel scattered in the V of the intersection, and for just a second he thought he might've overcooked it - but then he was clear, trees flashing by on either side, haring up into the hills. Shirley would have to all but stop to make that turn on her motorcycle; by the time she cleared it he'd be halfway to the really twisty bit.

"Nice! You win that one," Shirley declared in his ear, "but it's not over yet!"

As before, she couldn't catch him on the bends of the mountain road, but she did a masterful job of staying close enough to give herself one more shot at overtaking him. The final southeastward run to the main gate in the Saint-Ulrich perimeter fence was straight enough that, with a little determination, she might just have a chance. She came out of the last major bend already picking up speed, the mighty Indian girding its loins for an all-out assault. Ahead, the blue Belv was halfway to the gate, but Shirley ate up most of its lead by the time it reached the last leftward kink in the road before the fence.

They came around that kink almost neck-and-neck, so close together that Shirley could've reached out and knocked on the Belv's rear window -

They flashed through the open gate with the Belv still half a length in the lead.

"Ha haaaaa!" Gryphon declared, raising a fist through the car's open cabrio roof. "The winner and still undefeated - me!"

"Aawwww," Shirley said (through the window, rather than on the radio). "I almost had you that time!"

"I told you - can't be done," Gryphon replied, returning the Belv to "normal" mode as he and Shirley slowed to cruising speed on the airfield access road.

"One of these days," Shirley began, but if she intended to go further with the remark, she was forestalled by the sight of an unfamiliar new car parked on the apron in front of the hangar doors. Intrigued, she pulled to a halt next to it and got off her bike to have a closer look. A moment later, Gryphon parked up nearby and climbed out, puzzlement on his face.

"What's this doing here?" he wondered aloud.

"Ford three-window," Shirley mused, examining the bright red car carefully. "1934? No... '33. Roof's been lowered..." She walked slowly around it, taking in details, and was so engrossed in the task that she almost walked straight into the person standing next to it before she paused and backed up.

It was a man - she assumed - dressed head to toe in white: some kind of padded overalls, boots and gloves, his head and face completely obscured by a weird, futuristic white helmet with a visor so profoundly tinted black that it might as well have been opaque.

"Uh... hi," Shirley said. The helmeted man did not respond; she couldn't even be sure he'd noticed her, which gave her a slightly eerie feeling. It felt a little like how you could never really tell if a Neuroi was "looking" at you, and yet you were reasonably sure it could see you, regardless.

"It's... it is the Stig," said Gryphon, the bafflement in his voice deepening, as he came up alongside Shirley.

"You know this guy?"

"In a manner of speaking," Gryphon said. Then, addressing the white-clad figure, he said, "What are you doing here?"

The Stig made no reply, but after a moment's motionless silence, he removed an envelope from inside his overalls and handed it wordlessly to Gryphon. More confused than ever, Gryphon took the envelope, glanced at it - blank on the outside - and then tucked it away inside his own jacket.

Having concluded that whatever was going on with the guy in the white space helmet, it had nothing to do with her, Shirley resumed her examination of the car instead. She looked at the chopped-down '33 Ford with undisguised lust, her hands clenching into little "grabby" motions. "That is nice work," she declared after another circuit. "I'd never even thought of someone doing that to a '33!"

"This kind of thing will be all the rage one day in the not-too-distant future," Gryphon told her, putting his own bemusement aside. "But even so, this one's pretty special."

"You know this car?"

"Oh yes," said Gryphon, patting the side of the fire-engine-red car as if it were an old friend. "Some say it was built in 1983 for a man who could never die, and that it has the power to make dreams come true. All we know is, it's called the Eliminator."

Standing beside the hot rod, the Stig turned his helmeted head to look at Gryphon, then cocked it slightly in confusion, as if that hadn't quite been what he was expecting to hear.

Shirley gave the byplay no mind, walking up and down to get a look at everything that had been done to the car that had captured her attention. "Huh. Are those '39 taillights? That's kinda cute..." Finally, she came back around to the front, giving Gryphon and the Stig an appraising look. "So... this is your friend's car?"

Gryphon shook his head. "It's complicated, but the car sort of belongs to itself. The Stig... he just drives."

As if in response to that, the Stig popped the driver's door, climbed in, and brought the Eliminator's V8 engine to life with a roar. Almost delicately, he rolled the car to the end of the château's conventional aircraft runway, then revved the engine in a challenging manner.

Shirley gave a wicked smile, then snatched the keys to the Belv from Gryphon's hand. "Well, now he's talking my language!"

Even with the exhaust cutout and the supercharger re-engaged, the Belv's little four-cylinder engine wasn't in the Eliminator's league, really; but it had a lot less weight to pull, and the Fastest Woman Alive behind the wheel. The Stig still won the impromptu drag race, but it was a near thing.

After finishing out the quarter-mile as a matter of form, Shirley slowed, preparing to turn around and head back to the hangar... but the Stig kept right on going, the Eliminator gathering more and more speed as it hurtled toward the far end of the runway. It appeared that the Stig intended to drive right off the end and plunge into the valley beyond. Shirley slewed the Belv sideways in an emergency stop, springing out almost before the car had fully stopped moving. Cries of dismay rose from the little crowd of ground crewmen and off-duty witches who had been drawn to the sound of engines...

... But instead of a horrible accident, as the Eliminator reached the numbers at the far end of the runway, it was engulfed in a bright silver flash, then disappeared in a rolling cloud of hazy blue smoke that carried the scents of hot rubber and hickory back to the castle. Where it had been, a pair of flaming tire tracks crossed the numbers and ended just before the runway threshold.

Shirley was still standing next to the Belv, staring thoughtfully at the dissipating cloud, when Gryphon walked up and said (a touch wearily), "So that was the Stig..."

Shirley nodded, slowly. "I guess he was." Without looking away from where the car had disappeared, she leaned back against the Belv's side. "So... is he single?"

"Well..." Gryphon considered that, then finally answered, "He's the Stig."

They Might Be Giants
"Jessica"
Why Does the Sun Shine? (1994)

Eyrie Productions, Unlimited
Flying Yak Studios

and Bacon Comics Group
in association with
The International Police Organization
Avalon Broadcasting System
and The Crown Colony Commonwealth Bastion Broadcasting Corporation

presented

Undocumented Features Future Imperfect

Lensmen: The Brave and the Bold
Our Witches at War / Chronicles of the Stig

Red Nose Day 2411 Special:
"Pursuit of Happiness"

written and directed by
Benjamin D. Hutchins
Matt Wagner

and
The EPU Usual Suspects

Based on characters from Strike Witches
created by Humikane Shimada

Bacon Comics chief
Derek Bacon

E P U (colour) 2015