Avalon County Entertainment System>>
99 - BBC Galactic

datecode 24070107.210000

/* BBC Ethereophonic Orchestra
"Jessica (Theme from Top Gear 2400 Edition)" */

Clarkson (VO): On tonight's Top Gear: We fight for our lives against impossible odds with true grit and dauntless courage!

Int. day, Top Gear studio. All three presenters try to hide behind the interview couch, with predictable "success".


Clarkson (VO): Richard faces an old foe...

Ext. day, Top Gear test track. A large truck-like vehicle sits on the tarmac. RICHARD HAMMOND enters from left, obviously shoved into frame against his will. He glares angrily at someone off-camera in that direction, then briskly straightens his leather jacket and walks warily toward the truck, his body language changing rapidly from angry to apprehensive.

Hammond (subdued): This is the HB-88. Better known as the Banzai Institute, uhm... ... jet car.

He swallows audibly.

Hammond: ... right.

Clarkson (VO): And the Stig runs an errand.

Int. day, posh office building. Tight shot on a heavy closed door.

Voice (muffled): Sir, you can't go in there!

The door crashes open. THE STIG stands framed in the doorway, his racing suit scuffed, rumpled, and even burned in a few places. Behind him on the floor, a few UNIFORMED BODIES can be seen.

Int. day, new Top Gear studio. It looks pretty much the same as the old Top Gear studio, though some of the old one's exhibits are missing. CLARKSON, MAY and HAMMOND stand in the center of the logo on the floor.

Clarkson: Hello! And despite the best efforts of the Earth Alliance military, we're back!

Applause, cheering.

Hammond: Yes! Now, you may have noticed that there was, er, no fall series last year. That was because things got a little... interesting... on Earth last summer.

May (drily): You may have noticed something about that on the news.

Clarkson: Or, you never know, maybe you've been in a coma.

Hammond: The point is, we weren't able to finish it. But as it happens, we were at our Surrey headquarters when it all unfolded...

Pan around to one of the display panels mounted on the studio's support columns, which changes from the Top Gear logo to the beginning of a film.



Title card: 11:46 AM BST, 24 JULY 2406

Ext. day, old Top Gear test track. A pleasant, sunny morning at a converted airport in the English countryside. An antique Helldiver-class light transport is parked on the tarmac outside the hangar used as the Top Gear production studio.

Int. day, old Top Gear production office. HAMMOND, MAY and CLARKSON are at their desks; in a closeup we see that MAY is archiving data from his desktop system onto a secure crystal module. A television set in the corner is tuned to the BBC's coverage of the Crackdown.

Newsreader (on screen): ... deadline approaches for the transfer of power to Earthdome, Parliament have made no announcement as to whether the United Kingdom will comply with Geneva's demand.

Clarkson (shaking head): They will. Oliphant simply hasn't got the backbone to stand up to the Dome.

May: More to the point, he hasn't got the army.

Hammond: Oh, come on. It's not going to come to that, this is the 25th century.

CLARKSON finishes with his computer - in a closeup we see him set the onboard storage to total erasure - and gets up from his desk, tucking his own crystal mod into the top pocket of his shirt.

May: If you truly don't believe anything will happen, why is your family even now in New Avalon with Jeremy's and the production staff?

Hammond (awkwardly): Well... better safe than sorry.

CLARKSON wanders over to one of the windows, looks outside, and blinks in surprise.

Clarkson: Chaps...

May: What?

Clarkson: We might have a problem.

Ext. day, old Top Gear test track. An Earthforce Security Division Pelican dropship is landing next to the Helldiver. As the presenters watch from their window, armored ESD troopers disembark, two of them moving to secure the antique transport, the rest forming up and readying their equipment for some other operation.

Clarkson (VO): We didn't know it at the time, but Earthforce Security was under President Clark's personal orders to get us out of circulation before the official announcement that the UK was knuckling under to his consolidation of Earth's governments - which was scheduled to go out at noon.

Int. day, Top Gear studio. The presenters hurry through the area where the audience would normally be, heading for the interior door on the opposite side of the room.

Hammond: They've got our ship. What good is this going to do us?

May: (sarcastically): Would you rather just surrender quietly?

Hammond: We don't even know what they're arresting us for!

Clarkson: Well... we have been a bit unkind about the Clark administration in the past.

Hammond: Do you honestly think we live in a world where the authorities, however corrupt, are going to employ lethal force against three blokes off a car program who said something nasty about -

The EXTERIOR DOOR, about 20 yards away, blows apart and ESD troopers enter, weapons drawn.

ESD Squad Leader: There they are. Shoot to wound. Command wants at least one alive.

The presenters backtrack, scrambling over the platform where they usually do the news, and try with limited success to all hide behind the couch.

May (bemused): Wasn't very professional of him to say that so we could hear it.


Hammond: All right. All right. Stay calm. I've got a plan. We'll all leg it in different directions. They can't get all of us!

A beat.

May: Hammond, they have automatic weapons. They can get all of us.

Clarkson: That is kind of the point of automatic weapons, mate.

Hammond: ... Right. Yes. You have a point.

May: What we need to do is get to Megaweapon.

Clarkson: James, Megaweapon doesn't work.

May: It runs. That's really all we -

He's interrupted by the sound of a revving engine, followed by a mighty crash as the REASONABLY PRICED CAR bursts through the wall. The impact crushes the front end, wrecks the radiator, and sets off the airbags, but doesn't seem to faze the driver, who is climbing out even before the car finishes sliding to a halt. The ESD troopers turn, shocked, to see a lone figure in white confronting them silently across the crumpled hood.

Hammond: What?!

Clarkson: Is that - that isn't...

May: That's... not the Stig.

Clarkson: But by the look of him, he is the Stig's SPARTAN cousin.

HAMMOND gives him a how-can-you-joke-at-a-time-like-this look.

Clarkson: What?

SPARTAN STIG is, indeed, wearing what appears to be Covenant War-era Salusian MJOLNIR close-quarter battle armor, complete with gold-tinted faceplate. As the presenters watch in shock, that armor sheds several round from the ESD troopers' rifles before SPARTAN STIG ducks down behind the wrecked RPC. After a moment it becomes apparent that he's not looking for cover back there. Rather, he's LIFTING THE CAR - after which, with no really evident effort, he THROWS it at the troopers, causing them to scatter in all directions.

While they regroup, SPARTAN STIG strides purposefully toward the huddled presenters and, without saying a word, hands MAY a small, blank white card. Close-up on MAY's hand as he turns it over.

The presenters break cover, trying to keep their heads down, as SPARTAN STIG ushers them toward the back of the studio, occasionally pausing to lay down covering fire with a Salusian Armory M6D sidearm. MAY, seeing where they're heading, smiles.

May: I told you...

Ext. day, old Top Gear test track. The two ESD troopers detailed to secure the Helldiver are warily approaching the hole in the wall left by the RPC, weapons ready, and are about to enter when -

An ENORMOUS BLACK TRUCK smashes through from within, making the RPC's small entry hole a much larger exit.

Freeze frame with title card: MEGAWEAPON (40 MEGATONS!)

The two troopers jump for their lives, one to either side, as MEGAWEAPON roars past in a cloud of smoke and a locomotive howl of pneumatic horn.

/* Basil Poledouris
"Theme from Robocop"
Robocop (1987) */

Hammond (VO): Megaweapon was Jeremy's contribution to a contest we'd had several years before, in which we had each attempted to build a vehicle with which to enforce despotic rule upon a post-apocalyptic Earth. Where we got the notion to do a segment like that I've no idea.

Ext. day, test track. Black-and-white archive footage of MEGAWEAPON being put through a number of challenges, including one in which its mission was apparently to run over a futuristic-looking motorcycle - which CLARKSON, in the cab, carries out with visible glee.

Int. day, Megaweapon cab. The presenters, MAY and HAMMOND in back and CLARKSON riding shotgun, glance at each other in amazement as SPARTAN STIG handles the truck's giant controls.

Hammond (VO): Though heavily armed and nearly indestructible, Megaweapon was plagued with electrical faults which kept it from living up to its full potential. We could only hope that it wouldn't fail us now.

Ext. day, test track. MEGAWEAPON drives straight through the Earthforce Pelican, smashing the light airframe to bits without appreciably slowing down. The ESD troopers emerge from the hangar and start shooting, but their weapons are useless against MEGAWEAPON's armor. Accelerating across the apron, the truck actually power slides slightly as it cuts across what would normally have been the apex of the test track's first corner.

Int. day, Megaweapon cab. CLARKSON looks at SPARTAN STIG, then turns to HAMMOND and MAY.

Hammond: Did you see the way he took that corner?

May: It is the Stig.

Ext. day, test track. MEGAWEAPON accelerates across the airfield, heading for an Avenger-class dropship that has landed at the far end of the main runway and waits with its ramp open. Markings on the side of the Avenger indicate that it is the Pan Worlds Enforcement International starship Patriot Five. The ESD troopers run after MEGAWEAPON, but have been left well behind.

Clarkson (VO): Some say that he was built in 1965 by order of Her Majesty the Queen, and that he can never die.

Int. day, Patriot Five vehicle hold. MEGAWEAPON roars up the boarding ramp, barely clearing the lintel at the top of the hatch, and skids to a halt just before it would have rammed the forward bulkhead. An ALARM sounds overhead and the lighting changes to red as the ramp begins to retract. The presenters and THE STIG disembark hurriedly.

Onboard computer voice (overhead PA): Magnetic clamps engaged. Vehicle secured. Stand by for departure.

Int. day, Patriot Five corridor. The presenters hurry toward the cockpit (helpfully denoted by a bold arrow painted on the wall reading COCKPIT->). THE STIG disappears down a side passage, but the presenters carry on to find the cockpit... empty!

Hammond: What the - where is everybody?!

Clarkson: You know the Stig always works alone.

Hammond: But where's he gone?

May (taking the controls): Oh, stop wittering and sit down. (He begins muttering to himself as he runs through preflight checks.)

Clarkson: James, I hate to rush you, but we really do need to get a move on.

May (distracted): Yes, yes. Strap yourself in.

Hammond: James, this really isn't the time for your pathologically precise preflight procedures.

May (casually, without looking up): Richard, has anyone ever told you that you are a devastatingly annoying little man?

Hammond (equably): Well, yes, actually.

Clarkson: Quite a lot, I would imagine. Nice alliteration, though!

Hammond: Thank you.

May: Right. Atomic batteries to power; turbines to speed...

Engine noises increase. THE STIG enters the cockpit, having changed into his usual racing suit and helmet, and straps himself into one of the seats at the back without comment.

May: ... and we're off!

Ext. day, test track. The Patriot Five lifts off, scattering the ESD troopers with its thruster wash. They shoot at it, but to no effect, as it lifts off and rockets away.

Int. day, new Top Gear studio. The audience applauds as the presenters turn away from the monitor, which changes from the long shot of the Patriot Five to the Top Gear logo.

Clarkson: We made it as far as Titan, which, thanks to the efforts of a little IPO ship called the Valiant, was far enough, and then spent several days celebrating our deliverance with much rock music and liquid refreshment before managing to arrange transport out of the Solar system.

May: From there we made our way to Westminster Prime, where the BBC was in the process of regrouping.

Hammond: And that left us with a problem. Where would we set up shop?

Clarkson: Yeah, the thing is, Top Gear requires fairly specialized facilities, and unlike the UK back on Earth, Westminster Prime does not have a great number of disused airbases just lying around.

May: Where are the Germans when you really need them?

Hammond: Obviously building custom facilities to suit our needs was a bit beyond the BBC's suddenly, er, rather restricted means. Fortunately, though, we have amassed a few... friends over the years.

Clarkson: Which brought us, after some fumbling around, to... Perth.

May: Now, you know Perth as the pleasantly obscure second city of Avalon, off on the east coast of the pseudocontinent - if, that is, you know it at all. What you may not know is that it's also the home of the Banzai Institute.

Ext. day, the Banzai Institute campus. Aerial stock shots of the Institute's grounds, with its clean white buildings, neatly manicured lawns, and decorative quadrangle.

Clarkson (VO): The Banzai Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Strategic Information is one of the galaxy's premier adventure science organizations and closely allied with the IPO. Think of it as a more cerebral, more esoteric counterpart to Tesladyne Heavy Industries - albeit just as ready and able to punch evil in the middle of its face with science.

Int. day, a well-equipped workshop. Obviously archival footage, with a different video grain and archaic clothing styles on the people shown. A thin, intense-looking, dark-haired man stands at a workbench, building something electronic but not immediately identifiable, with several other men and women in close attendance.

Clarkson (VO): Its founder, the legendary polymath and adventurer Buckaroo Banzai, was a long-time friend of Top Gear - and of the three of us. Today his Institute carries on his vision at their state-of-the-art compound outside Perth.

Ext. day, new Top Gear test track. Aerial shots of the track, showing its familiar outline but brand-new-looking surfaces, and the new hangar, which resembles the other Banzai Institute buildings in its architecture, but has the Top Gear logo painted on the roof.

Hammond (VO): And for some odd reason, they already had a copy of our old test track.

Int. day, studio. HAMMOND shrugs.

May: So first of all, we want to offer the Institute our warmest thanks for taking us in and enabling us to get back on the air so quickly.


Clarkson: Yes. And we have to talk briefly, if I may, about the events that brought us here. It is not part of the Top Gear mission to conduct social or political commentary, or to take an explicit stance about the events of last July.

Pause; CLARKSON looks directly into the camera.

Clarkson: But we're going to. Because it is part of the Top Gear mission - a very big part - to promote fun. And last July on the planet Earth, for a great many people, very nearly including us three and our families, the fun stopped. And that's... not OK.

Hammond: We're still going to do what we do best. We're still going to drive fast cars, blow things up, fight and cock about.

May: And we want you to bear in mind, always, as we do it, that these are things the present masters of Earth and her closest colonies think of as criminal acts. That they are pleasures billions of our friends and neighbors can no longer enjoy under William Clark's totalitarian regime. We're doing what we do in their name now - and specifically in defiance of him.

Clarkson: So, a special message then, from all of us at Top Gear to everyone back home who aren't allowed to see this but, we're sure, wll find ways to see it anyway: We'll be back.

Hammond: And until then, we're not going to keep quiet.

May: And when we do return, we promise you, we will bring the fun back with us.

Wild applause.

Clarkson: For now, though: the news!

The presenters adjourn to the new version of their standard seating arrangement for the news.

Hammond (sheepishly): Did we, er, miss anything?


May: Obviously the whole auto industry is still in a bit of an upheaval what with everything that's been going on since last summer. (He displays a sheaf of papers.) I have a partial list here of the car companies that remain within the Earth Alliance and, as such, are no longer doing business in the Crown Colonies or the Republic of Zeta Cygni. And it's... pretty gloomy reading, I'm afraid. We've lost BMW...

Hammond: Aw!

May: I know. We've lost... let's see... well, pretty much all the German companies, actually.

Clarkson: And the ones they own that aren't German?

May: Most of them.

Hammond: So, well, if the Volkswagen Group is in there, that at least means we're finally shot of Škoda.

Clarkson: Oh no! No, that's terrible! That means Lamborghini is gone!

May (glancing at list): No! Amazingly enough, Lamborghini got out.

Clarkson (eagerly): Where are they now?

May: New Avalon.

Clarkson: I sense the hand of Gryphon in that.

Hammond: Wait, no. Jeremy. With everything else he undoubtedly had to do at that time, why would the Chief of the International Police take the time and trouble to rescue Lamborghini?

Clarkson: Well... I... (mumbles)

Hammond: What?

Clarkson: (mumbles)

Hammond: Speak up, Jeremy.

Clarkson: All right, I may have bet him he couldn't do it.

May: Hold on, hold on. Let me get this straight. You're trying to tell us that you used a cheap psychological trick to manipulate the Chief of the International Police into saving one of your favorite car companies from the Earth Alliance.

Clarkson: Yes.

Hammond: And it worked.

Clarkson: Apparently.

Hammond: That's brilliant! What did you lose?

Clarkson: The Skyline.

Hammond: What, the R32?

Clarkson: Yes.

MAY bursts out laughing.

Clarkson: What?

May (recovering): Well, it's just... Jeremy, he's wanted to get that car off you for years. You know that.

Clarkson: Well... yes, but -

Hammond (getting it): Ohhh, I see. You thought you were playing him...

MAY sits back with a satisfied smile.

May: How d'you feel now?

Clarkson (sputters for a moment, then): Ah, well. It's a fair trade.

Hammond: Who else didn't make it?

May: Well, let's see. Holden's gone, of course...

Hammond: That's very sad.

Clarkson: A great effort by the Australians, though. Much respect.

Hammond: Yes.

May: Quite. Apart from that... maybe it'd be quicker to list the ones that we still have. Fiat had a division in Zeta Cygni anyway, of course, so they're all right.

Hammond: Which means Alfa, too.

Clarkson: That's good news.

May: On the other hand, a similar branch arrangement in the Crown Colonies means that even after the fall of Earth, we still can't get rid of Vauxhall. But, you know, maybe what this means is that we should start to spend more time talking about the car companies that didn't originate on Earth. There are a lot of them, you know, and people were always complaining that we were too Earth-centric before.

Clarkson: Well, that's because no one else can build cars.

Hammond: That attitude is - you're just old and grumpy and pathetic. The automobile as we know it today is one of Earth culture's most successful exports. Plenty of other species build great cars today.

Clarkson: Name one.

Hammond: Sunrise.

Clarkson: Damn, I was hoping you wouldn't think of them.


May: Actually, I quite like the new Salusian Motors Scamp.

The monitor shows a picture of a small, blocky six-wheeled car that looks like a cross between an economy off-roader and some kind of light cavalry vehicle.

Hammond: Oh my word.

Clarkson: What is that.

May: It's the new SalMo Scamp! Six-wheel drive, go anywhere, very comfortable ride... Salusian build quality so it'll never go wrong... nicely equipped for about ten grand.

Clarkson: And styled by the people who make chest freezers, apparently. James, that is horrid.

May (patiently): You may not be aware that SalMo is a division of ExoSalusia Heavy Industries, which made the ship that rescued us so effectively from Earth.

Clarkson (brightening): It's a wonderful car!

Hammond: I think it looks pretty good, actually. Sort of rugged and sturdy. I like the wheels so much I'm glad there are six of them.

Clarkson: I'm going to buy one on my way home tonight!

Hammond: I think that's enough news. The confused state of the auto industry did leave us with a problem as we were putting this episode together, though. Having arrived on such short notice, and with most of the companies we usually deal with either out of commission or dealing with their own problems, we didn't have anything on hand to do a power test with. So we asked the Banzai Institute if they had any fast cars we could do films about.

Clarkson: Weirdly, they said they did have one, but that Richard might not want to be the one to test it.

Hammond: Oh, go on, I said. I'm a member of the Four-Minute Society. I own a Zonda. How hard can it be?

Hold on close-up of HAMMOND for a moment while audience laughs; then DISSOLVE to

Ext. day, new test track. We see HAMMOND shoved into frame with the large, truck-like vehicle from the opening sequence.

Hammond: This is the HB-88. Better known as the Banzai Institute, uhm... ... jet car.

He swallows audibly.

Hammond: ... right.

Tentatively, he approaches the vehicle, opens the driver's door, and puzzles out how to clamber through the roll cage into the cockpit. Once he's settled, he takes stock of the controls, turns the key as if he expects it to electrocute him, and looks pleasantly surprised when a piston engine starts up, at which he puts the HB-88 in gear and drives away.

Int. day, HB-88 cockpit. HAMMOND drives rather sedately around the test track, narrating as he goes.

Hammond: Well, at first glance, it really doesn't seem that scary. I mean, at heart, the HB-88 is a Ford F-350 heavy-duty pickup truck from the early 1980s, and it feels like... well, like a truck. Acceleration is good, thanks to the torque that massive V8 engine chucks out, but the handling... (He manhandles the HB-88 around a corner.) It's very... truck-like. You start to wonder what all the fuss is about.

He points to one of the many dials and knobs that look like they were installed on the vehicle's dash by hand.

Hammond: Until you turn this knob to 7, and then you start to understand. Because turning that knob to 7 puts the HB-88 in what the documentation calls "pursuit", and suddenly... everything's different.

He turns the knob. Immediately the sound of turbine startup fills the cabin and various of the displays and readouts start changing, the predominant color of the video displays changing from green to yellow.

Hammond (voice raised over the increased cabin noise): The petrol engine's still running, still providing power to the wheels, but now the HB-88's fusion turbine is running in what they call "power assist" mode. In that mode it's turning a generator which is providing electric boost to both axles, changing the vehicle from rear-wheel to all-wheel drive. It also energizes various active suspension components and activates a set of tuned harmonic mass dampers. All of which means that this big, heavy, clumsy-feeling truck turns into... well... (He grins fiercely.) ... something rather special.

Ext. day, test track. The HB-88, now with the turbine exhaust clearly glowing, begins taking corners with an aplomb and poise that are so entirely at odds with its ungainly shape and double rear wheels that they look somehow unconvincing, as if the effect were being achieved with photographic trickery.

Int. day, HB-88 cockpit. HAMMOND works the wheel furiously.

Hammond: It settles down on its great big wheels and these fat, chunky tires and just grips and goes. It doesn't feel like a Lotus, don't be ridiculous - the thing weighs upwards of five tons - but it's like a big, meaty grand tourer, something with a lot of muscle and yet a surprising amount of poise. It's like an Aston dressed up in a spaceport fuel delivery truck suit. It's terrific!

Ext. day, test track. Hammond drives the HB-88 briskly around for a lap or two, then pulls up near the start/finish, shuts down, and climbs out.

Hammond: There is... another mode, though. And for that, I shall be handing the beast over to Top Gear's resident expert on ludicrous speed.

He starts walking away from the HB-88.

Hammond: Some say he holds an advanced degree in classical music and has a strange fondness for the products of the Klinzhai Motor Works.

MAY enters the frame from the opposite side, dressed in a racing suit and carrying his distinctive goggled helmet.

May: And I do, actually. (He accepts the keys from HAMMOND as they pass each other in mid-screen.) Thank you, sir.

Hammond: Better you than me, mate.

HAMMOND passes out of shot on the far side as MAY approaches the HB-88 and begins climbing aboard.

Ext. day, desert. Archival footage of the HB-88 being prepared for some momentous undertaking by technicians in silver foil fireproof suits. The support vehicles that can be seen around it are obviously from a much earlier time.

May (VO): The Hikita Banzai Eight-Eight Jet Car's maiden voyage into the unknown took place in 1984, in the Arizona desert. It was pitched to the U.S. Department of Defense as a simple speed record run... but Dr. Banzai had other ideas.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. MAY, now underway, adjusts controls. The pitch of the turbine noise changes sharply and the displays change again, this time from yellow to red.

May (shouting over the turbine): What I've just done is put the HB-88 into what's called "S-pursuit". This shuts down the petrol engine and switches the turbine into "active thrust" mode, meaning that it's actually propelling the vehicle directly. The electric wheel assist is still operating, but in a more passive configuration; the suspension and mass dampers go to a more powerful setting and active aerodynamic control surfaces start doing a lot of the work.

It has to be said that in this configuration, the HB-88 doesn't handle as well as it does when it's set for standard pursuit, but then that's not the point of S-pursuit. S-pursuit has one function and one function only: to make the HB-88 the fastest ground vehicle ever constructed on Earth! Which is why I'm now leaving our test track and heading over to one that the Banzai Institute has built expressly for it!

Ext. day, Banzai Institute compound. The HB-88, now moving much faster and sporting several aerodynamic fins, leaves the Top Gear track by a side branch, passes behind a couple of the hangars, and begins a long, sweeping right-hand turn that eventually brings it onto a staggeringly long, flat, wide, meticulously paved track.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. Even on this iron-smooth pavement, MAY is being jostled a little by the movement of the vehicle.

May: This may look a bit rough from in here, but it's actually insanely smooth by the standards with which the HB-88 was originally designed to cope. I mentioned the 1984 test - there was no proper track there, not even an ordinary road. Just the hard-baked pan of the desert floor! The HB-88 was expected to set a record of about 400 miles per hour - impressive by any standards - but what Dr. Banzai actually did was leave the prepared course, on purpose, and take the Jet Car all the way to the sound barrier across open, unprepared ground! And then he played his real joker.

He reaches to the dash and flicks a toggle switch.

May: Control, this is Hotel Bravo Eight Eight, I am entering the primary test area now and preparing for a full-power run. Over.

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We have you on the approach run and everything looks good. You are GO for overthruster initialization, over.

MAY opens a metal case resting on the passenger seat and removes a small, solid-looking piece of unidentifiable technology.

May: Here it is: the Mark II oscillation overthruster. This is the actual one built by Doctors Banzai and Hikita in 1984. This is a priceless relic of the dawn of overtechnology, the first fully operational faster-than-light drive mechanism made by humans of the planet Earth. And I'm about to fire it up for the first time in at least a hundred years.

He starts adjusting the device, causing various metallic studs and buttons to pop out of its convoluted surface with a variety of very precise musical tones.

May: I'm trying very hard to be calm and collected as I do this, but in reality I am beside myself. This is by far the most exciting thing I've ever done in my entire life, and that includes the Kessel Run.

He reaches up and back, installing the OVERTHRUSTER in a gimbaled cradle were the back window would normally be. It beeps and swivels.

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We show your overthruster initialized and calibrating. All systems running normally. You are GO for full-power run, over.

May: Roger, Control. I am commencing my run now. Over.

He moves the controls, and the sound of the HB-88's turbine changes from a roar to a shriek.

Ext. day, Banzai Institute full-power track. The HB-88's turbine exhaust changes from orange flame to luminous blue shock cones as the engine goes into full thrust mode. From this angle the vehicle's license plate can be seen, an antique California plate reading ROKIT 88. The vehicle lunges forward and the camera angle pulls back to a wide aerial shot, conveying both the sheer size and straightness of the test track and the speed with which the Jet Car is moving.

May (VO): The Banzai Institute's full-power test track is one of the longest continuous stretches of asphalt in the galaxy, and because the Avalon pseudocontinent has no appreciable curvature - unlike a planet's surface - it genuinely is absolutely straight and flat. Any motor vehicle you care to name has room here to go flat-out for as long as most of them could survive such treatment. But I'm going to use all of it for what I'm about to do.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. As MAY continues to pour on more throttle, the OVERTHRUSTER begins beeping and chiming more energetically.

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We have you at marker 17, horizontal velocity five niner seven and expanding. Negative mass is approaching criticality threshold.

May: I apologize if I don't keep up the usual standard of running commentary at this point, but I am, as you can see, a bit busy. Particularly since I'm rapidly approaching...

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We show your Mach number as one point two and still accelerating. Congratulations, you have just joined the Banzai Club.

MAY's face breaks into a huge grin.

May: I don't know if you heard that, viewers, but in case you didn't, I've just been informed that I'm traveling faster than the speed of sound. With my wheels still on the ground! When Buckaroo Banzai did this in 1984, no one had seen anything even remotely like it - and he still hadn't done his party piece.

As if on cue, the OVERTHRUSTER's beeping reaches a crescendo and the device lights up.

Ext. day, full-power track. From the equipment atop the HB-88, a beam of blue-green light shoots forward, stabbing straight off into the distance. Camera pans to show it striking a CONCRETE WALL standing at the end of the track; pan back to show that the HB-88 is still several miles away, but approaching very fast and showing no sign of slowing down.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. MAY, his face now a mask of concentration, checks gauges and adjusts a couple of controls.

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We show your overthruster engaged and working normally. Coordinates locked; see you on the other side. Godspeed, Captain Slow.

May: Right. Here we go. Geronimo!

Ext. day, full-power track. The blue-green light has completely suffused the wall, toward which the HB-88 races at impossible speed. But just when it appears that a hideous crash is imminent - the vehicle DISAPPEARS into the blue-green light, which is then swallowed up behind it, leaving the wall blank and unblemished and the track completely empty.



Title card: (3,332 MILES FROM PERTH)

Ext. day, Mathews Memorial Spaceport. A quiet day without much traffic on the field. Suddenly, the outside wall of the IPO pool hangar at the end of one row of spaceport outbuildings begins to glow with that same blue-green light - and a moment later the HB-88 bursts out of it and onto the tarmac, still going hell-for-leather.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. MAY throttles back and flips a few switches.

Controller's voice (on radio): HB-88, this is Control. We show crossover complete. Welcome back from the Eighth Dimension.

May: Full braking engaged... velocity dropping off - umph - rapidly.

Ext. day, Mathews Memorial Spaceport. The HB-88 is about halfway down the main runway now, trailing a bright orange, fully deployed drogue parachute behind it. It comes smoothly to a halt with plenty of runway to spare and starts automatically reeling the chute back in.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. MAY removes the OVERTHRUSTER from its cradle, shuts it down, and puts it away in its armored case, then turns to the camera with a look of pure astonishment on his face.

May: I... good God, that, I... I can't even begin to put into words how thrilling that was. Even flying through hyperspace is nothing like that. I... (He shakes his head.) I'm sorry, I'm a little overwhelmed. I was right before, that was literally the most exciting thing I have ever done. (He takes a deep breath, lets it slowly out, and then puts the HB-88 in gear and begins to drive it off the runway.) Back... back to the studio.

Int. day, Top Gear studio. MAY stands next to the HB-88 alongside the POWER BOARD, with HAMMOND and CLARKSON looking on, waiting for the applause to die down.

Hammond: Was that really the most exciting thing you've ever done?

May: Easily.

Clarkson: More exciting than escaping from Earthforce?

May: Oh, definitely. More exciting than nearly getting eaten by the Sarlacc. Like I said in the film, more exciting than the Kessel Run! It's just - I've gone faster than that, OK, a lot faster, but the sensation of speed that the 88 gives you is just incredible. There really is nothing else in the galaxy like this car.

Hammond: I have to agree with that. I mean, I only took it out in regular pursuit mode, and it was really something special. I know it doesn't look it - it looks like an American pickup truck with a gland problem. But it really is amazing to drive. And having seen what you got up to with it after I got out... that almost makes me wish I'd stayed put.

Clarkson: But of course, before we can pronounce our final judgment on any car, it has to pass the ultimate test. We have to see how fast it goes round our track, and that of course means handing it over to our tame racing driver. Some say he's a fugitive cyborg super-soldier who tired of war long ago. And that all he wants is to be left in peace to drive fast cars and listen to his books on crystal. All we know is, he's called the Stig.

Ext. day, Top Gear test track. The HB-88, with THE STIG at the wheel, roars away from the start/finish line.

Clarkson (VO): And he's off! The Stig, of course, has the 88 in regular pursuit mode, for the optimum balance of horsepower and handling, but can even the Banzai Institute's incredible suspension technology compensate for such an unwieldy vehicle? Let's find out.

The HB-88 approaches and negotiates the first corner with little fuss.

Clarkson (VO): Looking clean through the first corner - surprisingly little body roll considering how incredibly heavy the 88's superstructure is. It must be quite top-heavy, but you wouldn't know it to watch it take corners.

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. THE STIG driving with his usual unruffled demeanor.

/* Joe Satriani
"Sleep Walk"
Strange Beautiful Music (2002) */

Clarkson (VO): The Stig listening to the Hong Kong Cavaliers there, the guitar stylings of the master himself. Still hard to believe that Buckaroo is really gone, even after all these years.

Ext. day, test track. The HB-88 negotiates the Hammerhead.

Clarkson (VO): A bit sloppy through the Hammerhead, but the Stig throws in some nice six-wheel drift on the way out - even all that advanced technology can't entirely negate the laws of physics, and that is a very heavy piece of machinery. Right, into the Follow-Through, will he lift?

The HB-88's jet exhaust focuses to shock cones, its pitch rising sharply, as the control fins extend.

Clarkson (VO): Good Lord, he's put it in S-pursuit for the Follow-Through. Stig really is going for it, I just hope he doesn't convert the most historic vehicle we've ever tested into a historic fireball.

The HB-88 screams past the TIRES, shaking the camera violently with its slipstream, and as it recedes the exhaust flames back to orange and the fins begin to retract.

Clarkson (VO): Ah, he's gone back to regular pursuit, thank goodness. Still, that is very fast as he goes into the final two corners, let's see if he can hold it...

Int. day, HB-88 cabin. The STIG works the steering wheel violently, his helmeted head at one point actually bouncing off the rollcage.

Ext. day, test track. The outer of the HB-88's two right rear wheels goes briefly onto the grass out of the second bend, throwing up a brief geyser of sod.

Clarkson (VO): Onto the grass, tearing up our nice new turf, then sliding it through Gambon and... across the line!

Int. day, studio. CLARKSON stands next to the POWER BOARD with a time tape in his hand.

Clarkson: And here's the time. The HB-88 - originally built in 1983 out of a pickup truck, a second-hand jet engine, and some industrial scraps, and steadily but, let's be honest, a bit haphazardly improved ever since... has just lapped that exactly faithful facsimile of our original test track, so the time does count... in one minute... fifteen point two nine seconds. So it goes there. Just behind the Lamborghini Hechicero.

May: That's the kind of genius Buckaroo Banzai was.

Clarkson (nodding): Yes. He was a genius and an all-around great guy, and we miss him terribly. But now it's time to put a star in our reasonably priced car. And for that, we faced another in the series of challenges our new situation has provided us with, because, as you may remember from the beginning of this program, we sort of... lost the old reasonably priced car.

Hammond: The Stig sort of... threw it at some baddies.

Clarkson: Mm. Totaled it a bit, I'm afraid, and then of course we had to leave it behind. So one of our first order of business once we'd got settled in here was to choose a new reasonably priced car.

Hammond: There was no shortage of candidates, but after a long and extremely comprehensive evaluation process, we settled on this. (He whips a cover from a small, comically styled, bright minty green car.) It's a 2407 Ford Popular, and it's... well, look at it.

May: I've seen this year's sales figures. They should've called it the Ford Ambivalent.

Clarkson: Well, all right, it hasn't been Ford's biggest seller ever. But it actually is a pretty good car, if you come over all aspirational and spec it up a bit.

Hammond: Which we didn't.

Clarkson: Well, no. But if you do...

May: I've bought one.

Clarkson (skeptical): You've bought a Popular.

May: Well, I've ordered it. It should be delivered next month. I splashed out on the GL250 version, though.

CLARKSON just shakes his head.

Hammond: You mad, rakish daredevil, you.

Clarkson: Unfortunately, we didn't have the time or wherewithal to put together the kind of block party we usually do to inaugurate a new reasonably priced car, so the time my guest tonight puts on the board may be a bit of an anticlimax. So we had to work extra-hard to get a guest so interesting that that part wouldn't matter. And I think we've succeeded. Ladies and gentlemen, Gryphon of the IPO himself, Benjamin Hutchins! He's here!

A grinning GRYPHON arrives on the platform, shakes CLARKSON's hand, and has a seat on the couch.

Clarkson: Welcome! Well, I must say this is a bit of a triumph. I've been trying to get you to visit us for years, and all it took was being chased off of Earth by a power-crazed maniac.

Gryphon: Perth is a slightly easier commute, particularly passport control. (Grins.) As it happens, though, this isn't a purely social call. (He reaches into the top pocket of the old Starfleet field jacket he's wearing and fishes out a data crystal.) I have something here you and your audience might be interested in seeing.

Clarkson: Oh? I'm almost afraid to ask.

Gryphon: Well, you may know that we had a few deep-cover agents in the Earthforce security apparatus before the Crackdown. They were all extracted in the aftermath, before the Psi Corps could track them down and use their newly expanded enforcement powers on them, and one of them brought this out with her. It's internal security footage of the ESD team that went to Dunsfold to arrest you three, being briefed for the operation. (He tosses the crystal to CLARKSON.) We thought you might be interested in seeing what they think of you.

CLARKSON looks at the crystal, then around at the audience, as MAY and HAMMOND emerge from the crowd to stand near his chair.

Clarkson: What do we think? Shall we have a look?

The audience, HAMMOND and MAY all agree that this should be done. CLARKSON slots the crystal into the TV and fiddles with the controls a bit.

Int. day, Earthforce Security Division branch headquarters, London. Slightly grainy footage from the upper corner of what appears to be a conference room; there's a time code running in the lower right-hand corner. An ESD INTEL OFFICER stands at the front of the room, in front of a large display screen; several armored troopers sit attentively facing him.

Intel officer: Right, listen up. These orders come straight from the President. He has reason to believe that the men you're going to arrest today have the potential to become serious security threats if allowed to go underground - which we're sure they are preparing to do - before the United Kingdom's formal reduction under the Internal Security Act 2406. This is not a standard celebrity arrest. These men have connections to the highest levels of the International Police. I will now brief you on each of them individually, so you know what you're up against.

The screen behind him changes to a publicity file image of HAMMOND.

Intel officer: This is Richard Hammond. He's the youngest of the three, not that that matters much since they're all over 400. He is a skilled driver, highly aggressive and surprisingly tough even for a recipient of the Wedge Defense Force's Omega-2 retroviral treatment. However, our best intel indicates that although he's an experienced brawler, he's unskilled in serious hand-to-hand combat and has little weapons expertise. He's not liable to be a significant threat unless he's drunk.

Hammond: Oh, thank you.

The audience laughs. In the footage, the screen changes to a picture of CLARKSON.

Intel officer: Here we have Jeremy Clarkson. He can essentially be considered the mastermind of the outfit. (MAY snorts audibly.) His ill-informed but widely broadcast opinions carry a bizarre amount of weight with the British public, which is the main reason why the President wants him neutralized. He's large and obstreperous, but has only attempted pugilism once that we know of, and on that occasion he hurt himself more seriously than the man he attacked. There are rumors that he has some latent psionic potential. These are not backed by any hard evidence, but the Psi Corps would like to explore the idea, so they'd prefer it if he wasn't dead when we bring him in.

The troopers chuckle amongst themselves. The screen changes to an image of MAY.

Intel officer: And finally, James May. Do not be fooled by his inoffensive appearance, his gentlemanly manner, or his music degree. This man is exceedingly dangerous. He's a rated starpilot, holds a Class T weapons license, and is known to have killed at least four people in duels. Our Klingon friends honor him with the title of "thought admiral". Leave him to the specialized personnel. Reg, Des, this one's all yours.

The screen changes to a map of the Dunsfold Park complex.

Intel officer: We have solid information that these three men are all here, at the headquarters of their subversive television program. If we move quickly and strike hard, we should be able to neutralize them before they can leave the planet. The Dome would prefer them taken alive, particularly Clarkson, but under no circumstances are they to be allowed to escape. If your choices are letting them get away or shooting to kill, you are to employ the full sanction. Is that understood? (Affirmative noises.) Are there any questions?

A TROOPER raises his hand.

Intel officer: Phelps?

Phelps: What about the Stig, Lieutenant?

Intel officer (scornfully): You watch too much television, Phelps. The Stig is a hired stunt driver in a costume. He's not going to be there on a non-shooting day, and if he is... he's not part of the order. Keep him out of the way, and if he makes too much of a fuss, eliminate him. Any other questions? No? Then mount up and let's get this job done. We're on a deadline.

The footage ends, returning the screen to the Top Gear logo. There's a moody silence.

Hammond: I knew they were serious, that much was obvious when they came in, but I had no idea how serious.

May: They didn't have very good intelligence, though. I've only killed three people in duels. The Baron survived. Though he does walk with a limp.

Laughter breaks up the tension.

Clarkson: Phew! Well. That was certainly an eye-opener. Particularly the part about us all being dangerous subversives. (Smiles darkly.) I'm looking forward to making their prophecy self-fulfilling on that account, I think.

Gryphon: I was hoping you would say that. I've got a few ideas.

Clarkson: You've always got a few ideas. In fact, I'm a bit surprised you had the time to come here today, what with all the saving-the-universe stuff.

Gryphon: You know, it's weird, but I really don't do that much personal saving of the universe these days. I see my job now more as providing the tools that other people need so they can save the universe.

Clarkson: Ah, you see, you say that, but I happen to know that your staff have a very hard time getting you to come in from the field.

Gryphon: Well, OK, yes, but that's just a side effect of one of my most annoying personality flaws.

Clarkson (raising an eyebrow): Which is...?

Gryphon: I have a hard time delegating. I've put together a top-notch team in the IPO, and still I have to stop myself from just charging out and trying to do everything myself. It's not that I don't think my people can do the job. I know they can, that's why I picked them. It's just that I can't stop myself. I'm like that at home, too, and it drives my kids crazy. When they were little they'd be putting the batteries in their toys, and I'd be standing there going, "No, no, plus is positive, minus is negative - oh let me!" (Mimes taking something and doing something decisive to it.)

Clarkson: And yet you've never really struck me as a hardcore Type A personality. Not like James May, for instance, who needs to have all his spanners named and lined up alphabetically before he can work on a motorbike. And gets homicidally angry if anyone moves the air vents in his car away from perfectly horizontal.

Gryphon: No, I - if you mean by "Type A" the people who sweat the small stuff, no, that's never really been my style. Mainly because I just can't be bothered with it. My desk at Headquarters is a disaster. I know where everything is, but it looks like complete chaos. My yeoman calls it the compost heap. Keeps trying to get me to go paperless. I've tried to explain to her that if I don't have printouts of things, there's nothing for me to throw across the room when I get frustrated, but she's from a newer generation. It just doesn't compute. Uh, no pun intended.

Clarkson (laughing): These kids today, with their clothes and their hair and their fast cars. And speaking of fast cars, of course, you've joined us today to do a lap in something that isn't one. As the first guest to drive our new reasonably priced car, what did you think?

Gryphon: Actually, I liked it. I mean, the specific one you guys bought isn't very good, but I think the model itself has potential. Might see what my tech people can do...

Clarkson: Who'd like to see him try to unlock some of that potential in one of his practice laps?

Gryphon: I knew this was coming...

Clarkson: Play it!

Ext. day, new Top Gear test track. The Popular, with GRYPHON at the wheel and THE STIG in the passenger seat, heads toward one of the corners.

Clarkson (VO): It's always this corner. People carry way too much speed into this corner. Almost all of our guests have come to grief here in practice...

The Popular slews into the corner much too fast, and in the process of trying to correct it, GRYPHON briefly gets it up onto two wheels. THE STIG can be seen bracing himself and shifting his weight to try and get his side of the car to come back down.

Clarkson (VO): I think you actually frightened the Stig there!

Int. day, studio. GRYPHON shrugs self-deprecatingly.

Gryphon: It didn't have quite as much grip as I was expecting.

Clarkson: Have you seen the tires?!

Gryphon: Only after I was finished. Although they were slicks by then.

Clarkson: Well, after a warmup like that, let's see the lap itself, shall we?

Ext. day, test track. The Popular, now without the Stig aboard, sets off from the start/finish line.

Clarkson (VO): An aggressive start...

Int. day, Popular cabin. GRYPHON glances at the dash with surprise.

Gryphon: Huh! Everything's got a rev limiter these days. (Changes gear.)

Ext. day, test track. The Popular speeds through the first corner.

Clarkson (VO): It does corner surprisingly flat.

Gryphon (VO): It's a nice little car. I'd buy one.

Clarkson (VO): You wouldn't.

Gryphon (VO): Sure I would. I mean, I don't need one, I got a great deal on an old Nissan Skyline not long ago, but...

The audience laughs. Meanwhile, the Popular is through Chicago and heading for the Hammerhead.

Int. day, Popular cabin. GRYPHON tunes the radio.

/* P!nk
"So What"
Funhouse (2008) */

Clarkson (VO): Oh dear. It seems the Stig left his crystal aboard.

GRYPHON blinks, then shrugs and sets about negotiating the Hammerhead, leaving the radio on.

Ext. day, test track. The Popular understeers, but GRYPHON manages to thrash some oversteer out of it on the way out.

Int. day, Popular cabin. GRYPHON countersteers against the sound of the Popular's starboard wheels leaving the pavement.

Gryphon: Whoops! Picture the headline in the Post: PINKO KILLED WHILE PINK PLAYS.

Clarkson (VO): Does anybody still use "pinko" as an insult?

Gryphon (VO): The Post does. I don't think they even know what it actually means.

Ext. day, test track. The Popular heads through the Follow-Through.

Gryphon (VO): This is my favorite part.

Clarkson (VO): Going past the tires, you mean.

The Popular sails past the tires.

Gryphon (VO): Yup.

Clarkson (VO): Everyone loves that.

Gryphon (VO): I think it's why we have so much trouble with Atomic Corner, actually. Because we want to be going as fast as humanly possible by the tires, and reasonably priced brakes just... can't handle what happens next.

Int. day, Popular cabin. GRYPHON is thrown against the harness.

Gryphon: Oof! I see they've opted for the "anti-lock unless you really mean it" brake option...

Ext. day, test track. The Popular is heading for the last corner.

Clarkson (VO): Ooh, you did lock up the right rear there. Still carrying quite a lot of speed into Gambon - a nice bit of drift there, and across the line!

Int. day, studio. CLARKSON gestures to the completely empty time board.

Clarkson (deadpan): So. Where do you think you've come?

Gryphon (even more deadpan): Well, Jeremy, I think the important thing is that I had a great time.

Clarkson: Well, we can't be sure until we get a little more experience with the Popular, but my gut instinct is that you turned in a great time as well. You did it, Gryphon of the International Police, in one minute... forty-two... point four seconds! Which goes there! (He applies the tape with GRYPHON's time to the top of the board.) For now. But I suspect it'll take some work to top that. In the meantime, it's been a great pleasure having you here. It's Gryphon, everybody!

Applause. Pan to MAY and HAMMOND, who are standing at two of three lecterns set up in the open area near the power board and the HB-88.

May: And now it's time for the Top Gear awards for 2406, which were sadly postponed along with the rest of what should have been our fall series last year.

Hammond: Right. Now, ordinarily we'd have quite a few of these today, based on the things we'd seen and done in the motoring world over the course of the year, but... if I'm honest... all of that was quite overshadowed in 2406.

CLARKSON joins them at the third lectern.

Clarkson: So, after much deliberation, we decided that there would be only one Top Gear award this year. And then we sent the Stig to present it to its deserving winner.

Pan to the large monitor, which changes from the show logo to

Int. day, a room off a major spaceport concourse. On the wall behind the entrance is a large banner bearing the Geneva Interstellar Spaceport logo, and an official-looking sign reading INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL CENTER.

Voice on overhead PA: Now arriving, Rigel Spaceways Flight 284 from MegaTokyo, New Japan.

A line of weary-looking business travelers file past the CUSTOMS OFFICER standing by the desk at the end of the room, presenting their documents. Some near the end of the line look a bit freaked out by something. Then the last person in line reaches the desk. It's THE STIG, carrying a large, heavy-looking black duffel bag, square in cross-section. He places the bag with a clank on the conveyor belt that carries it out of the Arrival Center and into the security substation on the concourse outside, then stands regarding the startled officer impassively.

Customs officer: Er... your passport, please, sir?

Silently, THE STIG removes a blue-covered passport from a pocket on his racing suit and hands it over. The officer opens it and looks at the bearer ID page.

With a shocked look, the officer drops the passport, hits a red alert button on her desk, and flees the room. THE STIG watches her go, then picks up his passport and returns it to his pocket, turning to leave. A moment later, two armed security officers burst in from the arrival side and point their weapons at him.

Guard #1: You are under arrest! Take off your helmet!

THE STIG stares at him, looking from his face to his weapon and back, as if not comprehending.

Guard #2: Take off your helmet and lie face-down on the ground with your hands interlaced behind your head! Do it now!

She punctuates the command by gesturing with her blaster carbine. THE STIG transfers his quizzical look to her, but otherwise does not react.

Guard #1: Last warning! Lose the helmet or I'm taking it off you.

Int. day, outer concourse. The black duffel bag reaches the end of the conveyor, having passed through and set off the unattended metal detector, and is dispensed onto the floor with a heavy metallic THUD that startles a couple of passing travelers.

First one and then the other GUARD bursts through the glass walls of the Arrival Center and out onto the main concourse. They emerge with enough force and momentum that they slide across the slick tile, surrounded by little skittering pebbles of glass and fragments of their own equipment, all the way to the far wall. A moment later, as the two guards begin to stir and moan and the civilians just stand staring, THE STIG steps through the hole where the glass was and crunches through the fragments to the end of the conveyor. He bends to collect his bag, then looks up as alarms sound throughout the concourse.

PA voice: This is a Level Two alert. Full security response to the International Arrival Center.

THE STIG looks back up the concourse and sees fully armored EARTHFORCE TROOPERS running toward him, readying their weapons. He looks down toward the far end, where the entrances and exits are, and sees more soldiers coming from that direction as well.

/* The Crystal Method
"Weapons of Mass Distortion"
Legion of Boom (2004) */

Reaching some internal decision, THE STIG bends to his duffel bag again, but instead of picking it up, he grabs one of the handles, rights the bag, and then briskly jerks open a zip that runs all the way around it. The black nylon slides away with a faint rasping sound, revealing a gleaming block of intricately machined metal within. Ignoring the shouts of the approaching officers, THE STIG twists something inside the strange mechanism, causing a SEAT to unfold from its upper surface. He then climbs atop it, into the seat, fitting his heels into two recesses near the front. Then he reaches down between his upraised knees, takes hold of a red-and-white-striped handle, and gives it a firm tug upward.

With a sound like a charging camera flash, the Stig's machine quivers, a circular PORT in front of THE STIG's feet irising open to reveal a bright white light. The machine seems to come alive, and then begins to change. Its components unfold, expand, and rearrange themselves in an impossibly intricate and elegant dance, the parts and pieces almost seeming alive in the way they reinvent themselves. Struts telescope and rotate outward, becoming tubular frame members; wheels and their associated hardware emerge from somewhere deeper within and move to the outer corners. THE STIG's seat settles into the middle of the expanding machine, the niche at his feet becoming a pedal box, as the rest of the structure builds itself around him.

Twenty seconds after the process began, the machine has finished unpacking, revealing itself to be a car - an ATOM micro-racer, finished in gleaming silver and scarlet, the Stark Industries logo prominently displayed on the upright finial of its intake scoop. The white light revealed at the beginning of the process is a Stark ARC REACTOR, which is now mounted in the center of the bonnet. With a final flourish, the car's steering wheel assembles itself in THE STIG's hands. A moment later the engine starts, the headlights snap on, and THE STIG is underway.

The ATOM's tires don't have optimal purchase on the polished tile floor, which makes avoiding the benches, baggage stations, and startled onlookers slightly trickier than it would be in, say, a parking lot, but THE STIG obviously isn't bothered. Nor does he seem interested in the security staff's gunfire. There's very little for them to hit in the tiny, skeletal outline of the ATOM anyway; a few rounds spark harmlessly off the frame rails, and one glances off the side of the Stig's helmet as he cannons down the curving concourse toward the main entrance.

A couple of the Earthforce soldiers try to make a stand there, blocking THE STIG's route to the main doors - but he just avoids them, power-sliding the ATOM to one side and drawing a neat black curve on the white tile around the two troopers. The spindly little car crashes through the window to one side of the entrance instead, leaping over a decorative flowerbed and slamming down on the tarmac beyond with a burst of undercarriage sparks. Taxicab horns blare as the ATOM darts into the traffic pattern on the airport's perimeter road.

The local police and Earthforce vehicles are no match for the ATOM, though they try to intercept - until suddenly they fall back. THE STIG looks in his wing mirror and sees that the road behind him is clear except for a huge black car, which is coming up fast. As it draws even with the ATOM, the driver's window rolls down - and at the wheel is the BLACK STIG!

/* British Whale
"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"
(single, 2005) */

An EPIC AUTODUEL on the freeway network into the center of Geneva ensues between the ATOM and the EXELERO. The ATOM has the edge in agility, the EXELERO in brute speed, and the black car's much greater mass means it'll win any contact, so THE STIG's top priority is preventing any from happening. As drivers they seem evenly matched...

... until THE STIG feints toward the concrete barrier at the edge of a sweeping expressway flyover, causing BLACK STIG to think he has an opportunity to crush the ATOM between his car and the barrier. He goes for the kill - and THE STIG uses the ATOM's headlight-mounted REPULSORS to stop almost instantly, causing BLACK STIG to overshoot and hit the barrier head-on. The EXELERO crashes through and plummets a hundred feet into Lake Geneva.

THE STIG shakes his head as if slightly stunned, puts the ATOM in gear, and drives off.

Int. day, posh office building. Tight shot on a heavy closed door.

Voice (muffled): Sir, you can't go in there!

The door crashes open. THE STIG stands framed in the doorway, his racing suit scuffed, rumpled, and even burned in a few places. Behind him on the floor, a few UNIFORMED BODIES can be seen. He stalks forward, halting in front of a massive desk, places two objects on said desk, and then turns on his heel and strides briskly out again, not even pausing as he flattens a late-arriving guard with a single punch.

In his wake, EARTH ALLIANCE PRESIDENT WILLIAM CLARK sits at his desk with a stunned expression on his face, looking at the two items THE STIG has left on his blotter. One is an incredibly tacky little figurine of a rooster, made mostly of brass tubing, but with a number of synthetic crystals suspended within it on wire. The other is a tiny circular holoprojector, which suddenly clicks, irises open, and displays perfectly resolved miniature images of the three presenters.

Clarkson: Hullo, President Clark. Jeremy Clarkson here, off that pokey motoring show on BBC2. You probably know my colleagues Richard Hammond and James May.

Hammond (waving): Hiya.

May: Morning.

Clarkson: And of course you've just met the Stig. You're probably wondering what he was doing here. (With feigned delight.) Well, as it happens, you've won one of our prestigious awards!

May: Yes. For your untiring service to greyfaced, totalitarian repression, your naked contempt for anyone who isn't you, and the sheer, raw audacity of your lust for power, you have been awarded the first-ever Golden Cock Lifetime Achievement Award!

Hammond: Enjoy it in good health. You earned it!

Clarkson: This message will self-destruct. Bye!

The presenters disappear. A moment later the projector melts down, leaving a smoking hole in CLARK's desk. He sits staring at it, and at the figurine, in astonished horror. The figurine seems as if it is silently mocking him.

Int. day, studio. The image of CLARK, still staring at the GOLDEN COCK, vanishes from the display amid wild applause and cheering.

Clarkson: Sadly, that's all we have time for this week. Oh, and don't worry about the Stig. He won't tell us how he got back off Earth after making his delivery, but he's fine - and next week he'll be finding out how fast the IPO's new Newport Phæton goes! See you then! Good night!

/* BBC Ethereophonic Orchestra
"Jessica (Theme from Top Gear 2400 Edition)" */

presented by

"The Most Outrageous Top Gear Episode in the World... EVER," a Future Imperfect maxi-mini-story by Benjamin D. Hutchins
based on
Top Gear by the BBC
special to the Eyrie Productions Discussion Forum
© 2010 Eyrie Productions, Unlimited