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Top Gear - The Fenspace Special

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TITLES start to go by the screen, overlaid with the audio of the mix of Jessica.

CLARKSON (VO)

Tonight. Richard drives an example of British engineering.


INTERIOR SHOT OF SMALL CAR

HAMMOND wrestles with the wheel as the red sandy ground comes up along the driver’s side window like he’s rolling the car, while he grits his teeth.

CLARKSON (VO)

James drives an example of American engineering.


INTERIOR GARAGE

MAY steps out of the left door of a white car that’s filling the shot, looking quite cross.

MAY

The bloody thing won’t start.

 

CLARKSON (VO)

And I drive an example of Japanese engineering.


EXTERIOR DESERT SHOT

A black truck with a camper shell on the back blasts across the camera view, silhouetted by the sun, obviously airborne over a small gully.

INTERIOR STUDIO

The camera comes away from one of the many flat screens and dives in towards the center platform, where CLARKSON is standing, surrounded by the usual Top Gear Studio Audience.

CLARKSON

Good evening, and welcome to a very special episode of Top Gear. So, unless you live in the depths of the Amazon, and how you're getting BBC2 way out there I have no idea, you know how easy it is to get into space these days.

 

HAMMOND

In fact, it seems like everybody's doing it now. At least, those with a general disdain for most of what some of us normal people do, like, well, race cars, and obey the laws of physics.

 

MAY

And this is because of the underground market for a substance called, “Handwavium”. Some say that this substance can do everything from make your coffee maker turn out the Queen's own tea, to taking your entire country estate on a joyride around the solar system on a whim.

 

HAMMOND

But enough about Jeremy's bad habits.

 

CLARKSON

Anyway, the producers decided to send us to Australia, gave each of us 1200 pounds to buy a car there, and send us up to “Fenspace”. After all, the 'fen' apply this miracle substance and go into space all the time. How hard can it be?


EXTERIOR SHOT: PERTH SPACEPORT, DAY

CLARKSON (VO)

The spaceport in Perth, Australia parking lot seems to be a lot emptier than one would expect for the major point of call for vehicles entering and leaving FenSpace, until one realizes that most of the vehicles that might park here are actually capable of making the trip themselves.


One vehicle pulls in, a black pickup truck with a standard shell on it. The broken speed strip running down on the stripe might once have been red and yellow, but has faded to pink and white. It stops, cockeyed in one of the parking spots, and CLARKSON gets out, banging on the bonnet.

CLARKSON

Toyota Hilux, one of the toughest trucks ever made. I had to go a little over my budget, about 1500 pounds after the exchange rate, but given our own experience of trying to destroy one, this should be capable of doing, well, just about anything once I've used Handwavium on it.


The camera starts to take in various angles on the truck, and one sees that it's banged up, and indeed, some areas of paint appear to have been scoured away by sand, or rusted out entirely. The interior is no better, with the upholstery splitting in places... where it isn’t covered in duct tape.

CLARKSON (VO)

This particular one even comes with air conditioning, and the four wheel drive package. The seats aren't as comfortable, and there is a rather large quantity of black and white dog hair all over the interior. But then, compared to what James brought to the table, it looks like the posh limousine of Ziggy Stardust.


As is quickly shown as a sun-yellowed white, primer patched, dented, rusted past the primer, rather bedraggled looking white car with a very odd rear slope hatchback, and left hand drive, pulls in next to the Hilux. Clarkson looks gobsmacked as MAY steps out of it looking smug.

CLARKSON

James... what... is that exactly what I think it is?


Clarkson moves to look over the vehicle as May begins his accounting.

MAY

As a matter of fact, yes. A 1971 American Motor Company Gremlin. This is the basic two passenger model. 3.8L L6 engine, 8:1 compression generating 135 brake horsepower.


Clarkson momentarily breaks his stare at the car to look at May.

CLARKSON

Don't tell me you actually managed to buy it here.

 

MAY

As hard as that might be for you to believe, yes, I actually did.

 

CLARKSON

Who, in their right mind, would have one of these shipped over here?

 

MAY

Normally, I'd say a really incredibly eccentric car collector, but I bought this from a bloke that used to work in the Australian liaison department to the United States Air Force. The story is that it's been bounced around from serviceman to serviceman for the past 25 years. But it still runs, obviously.

 

CLARKSON

What possessed you to buy it in the first place?


Clarkson opens the rear glass and pokes his head in. The camera shows the interior, looking rather dusty, with a pair of boxy speakers bolted in on the sidewalls around the back seat, a horrible plywood patch in the dashboard where the original stereo once resided, and completely mismatched covers on the front seats that might at one point have had a southwesterny knit pattern on them.

MAY

It was cheap, and it's an ugly old American car so it's no big deal if it gets wrecked.

 

CLARKSON

Ah. That makes a very strange sort of sense actually... which should probably scare me for some reason I can't fathom.


Clarkson drops the glass back into place with a click, then looks around.

CLARKSON

I wonder what Richard is bringing?


The camera pans over as a small, yellow, three wheeled Reliant Robin wobbles into the lot, and stops by banging into the back of the Gremlin. HAMMOND steps out, with the biggest grin plastered on his face. Clarkson looks less gobsmacked, but more incredulous, at this point. May just looks annoyed at the continuation of the old running gag of beating on his car du jour.

CLARKSON

You brought a Robin.

 

HAMMOND

Yes.

 

CLARKSON

You do remember that these things are deathtraps on three wheels?


Clarkson nudges the Robin gently, which makes it rock quite a bit.

HAMMOND

Well... yes.


Knowing this doesn’t seem to be reducing the size of Hammond’s grin.

CLARKSON

And since they didn't sell them here... you had to buy it and have it shipped here. Which probably completely blew up your budget.

 

HAMMOND

Yep. I figured that, since our first attempt to get one into space was such a spectacular failure, that this time we'd be sure of getting it there.


Hammond pats it on the roof, and it wobbles some more.

CLARKSON

Hmm... you do have a point there. I will say this... it’s your funeral.


Hammond shrugs, closes the door of the Robin, and walks over to the Hilux.

HAMMOND

Is that yours? Are you going to plan on destroying this one like you did the other two?


Clarkson looks hurt.

CLARKSON

As a matter of fact, no. I don’t plan on doing things like driving it into trees, dragging it across building facades, setting it on fire, or dropping it into the atmosphere of Jupiter like we should do with yours when we’re finished.


Clarkson looks at the motley collection of vehicles.

CLARKSON

Although maybe we should favor doing that to James’ choice. It’s likely the ugliest example of American manufacturing I’ve ever seen. I think it might almost be as bad as the Porsche Panamera.

 

HAMMOND

Oh god, don’t even mention that monstrosity of a car. Just... don’t.


At this point, LABCOAT comes into the camera view, bearing an envelope, which he passes to Clarkson without comment, and retreats back the way he came.

CLARKSON

Ah, there’s our instructions.


Clarkson opens the seal on the envelope, and takes out the folded card within, opens it, and finds a good focus distance to read it.

CLARKSON (reading)

‘Now that you have purchased your soon to be space vehicles, it is time to take them someplace where you can apply the magic of Handwavium. Since doing so on Earth is rather unpopular these days, transport has been arranged for you and your vehicles to Moonbase Alpha on the Moon.’ Well, of course it’s on the Moon, it wouldn’t be a Moonbase otherwise. ‘Once there, you will take a course in material handling, and then apply the Handwavium to your vehicles.’ The rest of it is just a slip assignment. ‘Slip 94’ it says.

 

HAMMOND

Sounds great, let’s get a move on.


Hammond hops into the Robin, and slams the door, making it rock enough that it tips slightly to the right and onto that corner... then over onto it’s side.

HAMMOND

OW! Okay, I meant to do that, really I did. Care to help me up?


Clarkson and May quickly jump into their vehicles.

MAY

Sorry, mate, we’re on a timetable now.


Clarkson and May start up their engines, and drive off.

INTERIOR ROBIN: Hammond leans up against the door glass.

HAMMOND

And in the fine Top Gear tradition, I’ve been abandoned.


EXTERIOR SHOT: PERTH SLIP 94

CLARKSON (VO)

We arrived at the tarmac, not sure what we should expect... I was wondering if we’d see a gleaming white ship shaped like a large shoe. The reality was much, much worse. But then, we were dealing with Fen, who are well known to be more eccentric than that chap that runs Virgin.


The Hilux and Gremlin come into shop, enter the main circle of tarmac, and come to a stop. 30 seconds later, the Robin comes skidding in behind them, dragging first one corner, and then the other as it attempts to remain upright.

HAMMOND (VO)

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.


The three presenters get out of their cars, and move towards the camera, looking at something behind and above it.

CLARKSON

What sort of spaceship is that supposed to be? It looks like a truncated centipede mating with my wife’s unworn dress shoes.

 

MAY

I think it’s brilliant.


EXTERIOR SHOT: The camera angle shifts, now above the presenters, and slowly pans around until STARBUG 1 fills the shot with it’s incredible greenness. A few quick detail shots come in, of the cockpit windows, one of the landing gear, and finally settling on the ship’s name in white Eurostile along the side of the hull, before the view switches back to the presenters. Clarkson and Hammond both give May a look that he doesn’t notice.

HAMMOND

That’s because you haven’t had the misfortune of watching old telly, mate. That ship might well be more of a deathtrap than my car is.

 

MAY

Oh, it can’t be nearly that bad. It’s not swaying in the wind like some of the Doctor Who sets used to do..

 

CLARKSON

James, that’s because there is no wind at all right now.


The rear hatch of the ship is open, and the three presenters walk over and greet ANTILLES as he walks down the boarding ramp.

MAY (VO)

We were greeted by Captain Antilles, who seemed to be quite pleased that we’d arrived only about ten minutes late. Within minutes, we were loading our cars inside his ship for the flight up to the Moon.


EXTERIOR: PERTH and INTERIOR: STARBUG 1 HANGER: There is a montage of scenes of the cars being loaded, with Antilles directing them into position in the hanger bay in the back, which looks odd to Fenspacers who have seen it in person because it’s been cleaned unusually well and the usual vehicles Cerulean Edge and Starjumper are nowhere in sight. The Hilux and Gremlin are both loaded first... the Robin is last, a tight squeeze, which results in it dragging pretty much down the entire passenger side of the Gremlin, annoying May mightily and causing Antilles to wince.

CLARKSON (VO)

Once we had our vehicles stowed away in the luxurious accommodations, we retired to the main passenger area to prepare for liftoff.


INTERIOR: STARBUG 1 COMMON ROOM: Antilles moves across the room and through the door on the other side. Like the hanger, the room has been cleaned unusually well... but it’s obviously dressed in ‘Bachelor Kitsch’, with a rather bedraggled green futon along one bulkhead, next to what looks like a pile of thrifted and bodged video game equipment that’s threatening to explode from its crate and clutter up the room. On the other end of the futon is a somewhat time worn light green wingback chair, which really looks out of place in the steel walled room. The presenters sit down, May and Hammond on the futon, Clarkson in the wingback. They all look for seatbelts.

MAY

Oh, come on, there has to be some way of securing ourselves for launch.

 

HAMMOND (nervous)

Uh, I don’t think he has one. Certainly not that’s obvious to me.

 

CLARKSON

OK, don’t panic, I’m certain that the Handwavium will protect us from movement.


A golden blond woman pokes her head out of the forward hatch Antilles disappeared through. She isn’t Nene, but most Fenspacers who get around recognize her as Antilles anyway, albeit after her biomod kicks in.

ANTILLES

OK, secure yourselves for takeoff, gentlemen. We’ve gotten our clearance to depart.


Antilles disappears through the hatch again, which closes. The presenters all look at each other.

HAMMOND

You know, if it wasn’t for the fact that we’re about to die because there is no way to secure ourselves, I’d say the trip was worth it just for seeing the people Antilles hires as crew here.

 

CLARKSON

I’d almost agree with you, Richard. (digs in the cushions) Maybe the seat belt just slipped down in the cracks.

 

MAY

Maybe... but I don’t see that your chair is bolted down.


There is a rumbling noise, and the camera picks up a little vibration. All three presenters grab at the cushions.

EXTERIOR STARBUG 1: The ship blows up a plume of dust as it slowly lifts from the tarmac, momentarily obscuring the view of the camera before it runs out of dust to stir up, and rises just enough to clear the fence before moving to the right and almost out of view before the camera begins to pan along with it, showing it gaining altitude and speed.

INTERIOR STARBUG 1: The presenters have managed to finally find the seat belts hidden in the folds of the furniture. and strap them on as the camera tilts against the seeming movement of the ship.

HAMMOND

*BLEEP* I FORGOT HOW MUCH I’M AFRAID OF ROCKETS! *BLEEPBLEEP*

 

MAY

Settle down, man! There are much worse ways to get into space!

 

HAMMOND

THERE’S WORSE?! *BLEEEEEEEEP*

 

<*--Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30--*>


EXTERIOR EARTH ORBIT: Starbug 1 comes up from the bottom of the shot, the Earth falling away behind it.

CLARKSON (OV)

Once we’d gotten our initial panic out of the way, and made sure that we did indeed know where our towels were, we settled down into the routine of trying to occupy ourselves for the several hours it would take to reach the moon.

 

HAMMOND (OV)

Oh, hey, look, he has a Megadrive, er, ‘Genesis’ here... I wonder if he has a couple of good games for it we could all play together?

 

MAY (OV)

Oh, for *BLEEP* sake, Hammond.


EXTERIOR MOON ORBIT

The Moon rotates beneath the camera, until a disturbance of the regalith on the surface becomes obvious in the harsh light of the sun. There are several structures visible along three edges of the disturbance, as well as a few smack in the middle of it. As the camera pans in, Starbug 1 enters the shot, and homes in on one piece of disturbance that slides aside to reveal large landing pad, painted with a large bullseye marked ‘LAND HERE’ in fluorescent paint, and festooned with spitloads of almost aligned chase lights. As soon as landing is completed, the landing pad lowers into the surface, and the large door slides back over.

INTERIOR MOONBASE ALPHA HANGER

Starbug 1 continues to be lowered, as the rear hatch opens and lowers the ramp.

CLARKSON (VO)

Once we’d arrived at our destination, it was time to unload our projects, and allow the facility personnel to take them to a garage where we would eventually do the handwaving.


Facility people come to the back of Starbug 1 as, with a loud sound of fiberglass rubbing on painted steel, the yellow form of the Robin comes trundling out, almost tipping over as it goes down the ramp.

MAY (offscreen)

HAMMOND, YOU IMBECILE!


The other two vehicles are carefully offloaded as well, the Gremlin first... then the Hilux, banging into the back of the Gremlin in lieu of using brakes.

INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Sorry!


INTERIOR GREMLIN

MAY

Bloody Pillock.


INTERIOR CLASSROOM HALLWAY

The presenters walk into shot, Hammond reads the sign next to the door, signals to his compatriots, and they walk inside.

CLARKSON (VO)

But first, we were expected by the producers to take a class. Apparently to reassure our insurance that there would be no accidents with the Handwavium.


INTERIOR CLASSROOM

MYK is standing at the front of the room, giving some instructions to the class. Behind him is a large display screen that looks almost like a whiteboard, except it glows slightly and has some control graphics rendered in one corner. There is an exploded diagram of what appears to be a hazmat suit, combined with the Pulper idea of a spacesuit, on the screen.

MYK

If you drink it, breathe it, or even get some on your pinky finger, you’re gonna have a bad time. Not that it will be fatal to you, but it will at best be inconvenient to explain to your friends, your family, and your employers. Which again, you’re gonna have a bad time. Which is why it’s always recommended that, even if you’re experienced, you make sure to wear full protection whenever you’re working with The Goop. Otherwise, you’re gonna have a bad time.


The camera pans over to the presenters, who are looking, well, nervous is not an adequate description. Shocked is more like it. Clarkson raises his hand.

MYK

Yes, Jeremy?

 

CLARKSON

What sorts of effects should we expect if we’re accidentally exposed to the stuff?

 

MYK

Good question. I have some examples right here.


Myk waves at the screen, and the protection gear is replaced with a trio of pictures. The first is of hardsuited Jet Jaguar. The second is Kelly Harrison, Hotel Stellvia’s ‘bunnygirl’ major domo. The third is Jeph Antilles’ female form.

MYK

You could wind up fused with hardware like Jet here was. You could be turned into an anthropomorphic animal like Kelly.

 

HAMMOND

I don’t wanna get biomodded.

 

MAY

He’d probably become a real hamster.

 

HAMMOND

That’s not helping, James!

 

CLARKSON

It could be worse Richard. Much worse. You’d likely get some height out of it.

 

MYK

In some cases, you could become, erm, Gender Fluid like Captain Jeph Antilles here.

 

CLARKSON

That’s Captain Antilles?!?!


Clarkson and Hammond start looking vaguely ill.

MYK

Some of the time.

 

MAY

The two of you did seem to take a slight fancy to her. Maybe one of you should enquire as to her availability for a late evening dinner for two?

 

CLARKSON

May, just shut up, all right?


INTERIOR WORKSHOP

The three vehicles are sitting in a nicely appointed, if very industrial, bay area. There are several drums against one wall liberally labeled with all sorts of warning labels, as well as workbenches that include small paint cans, paint trays, brushes and rollers, and paint sprayers.

CLARKSON (VO)

With our training concluded, we were set loose upon the workshop to get started on making our cars spaceworthy.


Clarkson and May come into the workshop, both clad head to toe in the protective suits. A few seconds later, Hammond, well, waddles in after them. His suit looks a little odd.

MAY

Hammond, what are you doing?

 

HAMMOND

What? What am I doing?

 

MAY

It looks like you’re wearing two suits there.

 

HAMMOND

Well, one can’t be too careful with this stuff. I don’t want to become a real hamster. I just don’t.

 

CLARKSON

Isn’t that going to make your work just a teensy bit harder?

 

HAMMOND

I’ll manage.


Hammond goes over to the workbench closest to the Robin, and proceeds to clumsily knock half the tools off of it trying to grab a paintbrush.

CLARKSON

Well, that looks like it’s going to go well.


Montage: The presenters settle in to work. Clarkson just grabs the sprayer and enthusiastically hoses down the Hilux top to bottom, paying special attention to the engine compartment. At one point, he accidentally sprays down Hammond as well, but Hammond is well protected, so it doesn’t affect him outside of making him slip a couple of times while roller painting the Robin. May uses the paintbrushes, and makes sure to get every single nook and cranny that he can reach without disassembling the car, including poking brushes inside the vents on the dashboard.

MAY (VO)

It didn’t really take us that long, outside of Jeremy’s cocking about, to get the process completed according to the outline Mister Miller had kindly provided us in class.


Clarkson is spraying the rear of the Hilux, when his sprayer runs out of ‘wavium. He drops the sprayer to the table, and spreads his hands at the rather goopy and almost opaque covering he’s given the Hilux... although one can easily see into the back window of the shell.

CLARKSON

Easy as can be. I’ve had gardening jobs harder than that.


The other two vehicles are inspected by their owners. Both look a good deal more tidy than Clarkson’s handywork. The three of them move into an adjacent room, wash their suits down, then strip back down to their regular clothes.

MAY (VO)

With nothing to do but wait for the paint to dry, we retired to the luxurious accommodations afforded us by the Moonbase Alpha residents.


INTERIOR STATEROOM

The presenters enter a room that is literally only large enough for the three cots placed within it. It looks very much like the crew cabin from the Dark Star. There is just enough floor between the cots for one of them to stand up. Clarkson is the last to enter, and realizes that he’s got the cot furthest from the door.

HAMMOND

The joys of living in space. I feel like I’ve finally arrived in the 21st century.

 

CLARKSON

OK, I know livable areas have to literally be wrested from the cold, uncaring arms of space itself. But this seems to be a little bit... cramped.

 

MAY

Jeremy, if you snore like you did that one night in South America, I swear that I will smother you with your own pillow.


EXTERIOR MOONBASE ALPHA

HAMMOND (VO)

Anyone fancy a game of cards before we turn in?

 

CLARKSON (VO)

No.

 

MAY (VO)

Definitely not.

 

HAMMOND (VO)

OK, I figured I’d ask. G’night.

 

MAY (VO)

Good night.

 

CLARKSON (VO)

OK, I hate to ask, but who’s foot is that on my leg? And why is it cold?


INTERIOR STATEROOM

A screen callout pops up proclaiming it to be ‘the next day’. Clarkson and May are rather bundled up under their sheets. Hammond has somehow managed to get to where his lower half is on the cot, upper half is on the floor. May wakes first, sits up, blinks, looks around, then looks down at the patch of floor.

MAY (softly)

Oh, bugger it all.


May carefully sits up in the bed, then spends a moment carefully working out where to put his feet to avoid stepping ON Hammond, yet be able to actually leave the room. He manages to get a foot on the floor next to his cot, the other just on the other side, next to Clarkson’s cot. Hammond makes an odd snorting sound.

HAMMOND (softly and groggily)

Jeremy, you have five seconds to remove your stinking sock from in front of my nose.


INTERIOR LOUNGE

May comes padding out, looking very awake but also very cross. He is limping. Hammond follows, looking sheepish. Clarkson trails them, looking so bleary one swears he’s sleepwalking.

HAMMOND

Look, I’m sorry, I honestly thought you were Jeremy messing with me.


May gives Hammond a look that would cause a batch of Handwavium to stop working. Meanwhile, Labcoat comes in, hands an envelope to Hammond, then leaves again. Clarkson pokes at what appears to be a vending machine as Hammond opens the envelope.

CLARKSON

One of these has to be for ordering coffee. Has to be.

 

HAMMOND (reading)

‘Your vehicles, now that they’ve cooked overnight, should be ready for the hostile environment of space. However, due to Health and Safety requirements, you will each be provided with a spacesuit, carefully handwaved by your class instructor. Once you have donned the spacesuits, you will board your vehicles, and drive them to Port Lowell, on Mars, where you will receive your first challenge. Points will be deducted for every quirk you discover in your vehicle.’


Clarkson comes over, holding a cup of something black and steaming.

CLARKSON

What sort of spacesuits do you think we’ll be getting?

 

HAMMOND

Search me.


The three of them walk out of shot.

INTERIOR HANGER

The door nearest the camera opens out, obscuring who might be walking out into view. Clarkson is first out. His spacesuit actually looks a lot like what you’d expect a spacesuit to look. It’s reddish orange, with a nice, partially opaque helmet, and lots of nice little fiddly hoses, but it also looks quite comfortable.

CLARKSON

Apparently this is left over from some of the more recent Doctor Who. It’s actually very nice.


May comes out, dressed in what might be a Pulper’s spacesuit, with the completely transparent glass goldfish bowl over his head, and neatly ribbed sections on all the joints.

MAY

I feel like I just walked on the set of an old Blue Peter episode in this thing. In fact, that may well be where they got it from. But it’s very comfortable. Certainly much better than what the Americans stuck me in that once.


The two of them look over where they came from, and realize that the third member of their group is dwadling.

CLARKSON

Oh, come on, Richard. You can’t hide forever, and you’ve done more embarrassing things in your life.

 

HAMMOND

All right.


Hammond comes out into view. He’s wearing a highly detailed, ribbed everywhere, GOLD spacesuit. It looks like a spacesuit crossed with a zoot suit. He has the helmet in the crook of an arm, and the helmet looks like it’s making an accommodation for some growth on the wearer’s head. Hammond looks like he wishes a hull breach would occur right now and put him out of his misery.

MAY

Is that what I think it is?

 

HAMMOND

I’m... afraid so. It’s leftovers from Red Dwarf they couldn’t use elsewhere. It’s Cat’s spacesuit. The note says it was the only one that could fit me that they could spare from the prop department.

 

CLARKSON

Well, put the helmet on. We want to see the whole thing.


Hammond reluctantly puts the helmet on. Both Clarkson and May bust up laughing, which makes Hammond look really annoyed.

HAMMOND

It’s not very damned funny! I look like a complete shallow git in this thing.


The group of presenters moves out of the room, and into the hangar proper, where their cars have been staged.

CLARKSON (VO)

With our suits donned, we then boarded our newly minted spaceships.


INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson gets himself situated.

CLARKSON

Things don’t appear to be too different in here... cleaner, maybe. And the air is... well, I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s like there is absolutely no sensation of interaction with the air outside. That’s probably a good sign.


Clarkson closes his helmet, and then starts the Hilux, which roars into life.

CLARKSON

Hm. Doesn’t sound much different.


INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond starts up the Robin, listens closely, then with a grimace gives it a little gas.

EXTERIOR BAY

The Robin lurches forward, somewhat unstably, and smacks the back end of the Gremlin.

INTERIOR GREMLIN

MAY

HAMMOND!


INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND (Sheepishly)

Oops.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

May swears under his breath, then starts the Gremlin. The image gets... strange, completely out of focus and in a pinhole with a sharp noise.

MAY

What the bloody?


INTERIOR BAY

CLARKSON (VO)

Once we got whatever malfunction had befallen James’ dash camera sorted out, we were on our way.


The three vehicles roll along the ramp, and up to the moon’s surface. The Robin is blasting fire behind itself.

EXTERIOR MOON

The three vehicles lift off into space, the Robin continuing to blast a pillar of fire.

INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND

Well, that’s not what I’d call normal.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

MAY

Hammond, what did you do to get that?

 

HAMMOND (over radio)

I don’t know...


INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND

...it’s just there. Maybe it pulled in some sort of impression from the last time we tried to get one into space.


EXTERIOR SPACE

The vehicles all make their way... the Robin appears to be rather unstable in flight.

INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND

Uhhh... I’m not on the ground... how can it be this HAIRY to drive?


EXTERIOR SPACE

CLARKSON (VO)

It was fairly obvious to all of us that Richard’s ride had a serious number of quirks already evident.


The Robin’s flight gets more and more erratic with every course correction, before doing a quirky barrel roll.

INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND

I... I don’t like this...


Hammond looks ill as the barrel roll stops, then reverses.

HAMMOND

Ulp...


EXTERIOR SPACE

MAY (VO)

Once Hammond got adjusted to the worst of the quirks, we proceeded on at speed to Mars.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

May is leaning back, glancing around.

MAY

You know, this isn’t actually too bad. It’s... quiet, except for the engine. And it feels pretty good, outside of how worn this seat is. The thing is, I don’t think AMC was totally off-base with this car.


EXTERIOR SPACE

The camera pans around the Gremlin, front to back.

MAY (VO)

While it may have been designed from a misunderstanding of what the market was needing, and they really should have fired the person who was responsible for its looks, the overall engineering is sound. In fact, a large number of these cars were later modified into super hot drag racers, winning many races before they effectively became too scarce to use.

 

INTERIOR ROBIN

 

HAMMOND

Now, I’m certain that May is slowly but surely falling in love with his new machine... but I... I just can’t consider it a viable transport. Ulp.

 

EXTERIOR ROBIN

 

The Robin tumbles again, then stabilized.

 

INTERIOR ROBIN

 

HAMMOND

...however, I think, ugh, that I’d take it over this at this point. Oh this was such a bad idea. In entirely too many ways. But, back to May’s choice of car. It’s ugly, it’s American but not a muscle car, it’s ugly, it’s an AMC for crying out loud, and it’s absolutely butt ugly.


EXTERIOR ROBIN

The Robin tumbles again.

HAMMOND

...and I still think I’d rather be driving it than this... ULP! Maybe I should hitch a ride with Jeremy.


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Dare I say that I made a good choice. Unlike Richard, who appears to be getting well shaken and stirred. And James, who is likely regretting his lack of a car stereo right about now.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

May is bopping his head, listening to an MP3 player attached to the audio input of his spacesuit.

INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

However, I do think James actually has had a good choice of vehicle... aesthetics aside. So far it hasn’t done anything untoward like Richard’s choice.


EXTERIOR SPACE

The three vehicles move off into they disappear, as Mars grows in the frame.

MAY (VO)

It didn’t take us much longer to get to Mars than it would have been to travel all the way to, say Aberdeen from the furthest south point of England.

 

EXTERIOR MARS

 

The cars come in towards a large facility of environmental domes and buildings.

 

CLARKSON (VO)

Fortunately for us, as I hadn’t yet decided I wanted to risk my spacesuit’s, ahem, relief facilities.


A large hatch opens up, and the vehicles disappear inside.

INTERIOR PORT LOWELL HANGAR

Once inside, the cars pull off to marked spots and the drivers get off. Clarkson is observed to be accosting one of the techs, who points in a direction, Clarkson gives a quick thanks, and runs in that direction.

INTERIOR WAITING ROOM

Clarkson comes in, readjusting his spacesuit, as Hammond and May smile.

HAMMOND

Should’ve gone before we left, mate.

 

CLARKSON

But I didn’t have to go when we left.

 

MAY

May I suggest drinking less coffee beforehand then?

 

CLARKSON

But I only had one cup.

 

HAMMOND

At your age, that would be more than enough.


At this point, Labcoat comes in, hands an envelope to Clarkson, and then leaves. Clarkson opens the envelope.

MAY

So what are they making us do this time?

 

CLARKSON (reading)

‘You are to take your cars from here, Port Lowell, overland without flying, to New Adelaide on the northern rim of Marineris near Ophir Labes.

 

HAMMOND

Well, that certainly has some symmetry to it for us, given where we started.

 

CLARKSON (reading)

'Points will be deducted for every point at which you have to stop, regardless of the reason.’

 

MAY

Well, given that the planet hasn’t been settled for very long...


May looks at Hammond.

MAY

...you might have made a poor choice overall with your car, there, given the way it handled on the way here.

 

CLARKSON

James has a point, there. Like it or not, Richard, your car may still be a deathtrap.

 

HAMMOND

OK, OK... all right, let’s get it over with. After all, I can only die once, right?

 

MAY

And we’ll carry on in your memory.


INTERIOR GARAGE

The three vehicles sit in the garage, Gremlin first, then the Robin, and finally the Hilux.

CLARKSON (VO)

Unfortunately, we started immediately with a technical hitch... and a discovery of just what sort of major quirk James had managed to wrought with his car.


INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson toggles his radio.

CLARKSON

James, how much preflight can a car require?

 

MAY (over radio)

It’s not that. The dash camera’s conked out, the crew’s looking for another spare.

 

CLARKSON

Oh, for pete’s sake, James.


INTERIOR GARAGE

Clarkson gets out of the Hilux, and walks forward to the Gremlin, where the crew is working on the camera.

CLARKSON

Didn’t they fix it yesterday when it died?


May gets out of the Gremlin, looking a bit cross again.

MAY

They couldn’t. The lens popped off and wouldn’t go on again.

 

CLARKSON

What’s wrong with this one?


One of the crew says something that the mics don’t quite pick up.

CLARKSON

It went single color and out of focus? Do we have another one?


Another unintelligible noise from the crewman.

CLARKSON

Get Antilles down here. We need to ask him what’s going on, and see if he has something we can use.


Clarkson gets in close to the camera, and gives a stage whisper like a bad spy movie.

CLARKSON

Apparently we’ve only got one spare for the car cameras. And two cameras have now broken.


Antilles comes into the bay, not looking anything more than bemused.

ANTILLES

What’s the holdup?

 

MAY

We’ve had two cameras break. And we’re out of spares.

 

CLARKSON

Do you have anything we can use?

 

ANTILLES

Possibly.


Antilles looks at the scene.

ANTILLES

Both cameras were mounted in your car, weren’t they James?

 

MAY

Yes, they were.


Antilles starts to giggle, and turns to lean on a barrel near the door.

MAY

What’s so funny?

 

ANTILLES

James, what sort of car did you ‘wave?


May looks confused for a couple of seconds. Clarkson only looks momentarily confused, and then begins to laugh.

MAY

Damnit, man, share the joke!

 

CLARKSON

You... you ‘waved... *chortle* you ‘waved a Gremlin, James. Of all the people, you, you, ‘waved a Gremlin.


Jeremy goes to lean against the wall laughing. May looks confused for another second, and then it dawns on him what he’s done, as an engineer. He sits down in the Gremlin, and starts to gently beat his head against the steering wheel. Hammond comes up, says something just out of microphone range to Clarkson, who beckons him over and whispers something in his ear. Hammond pulls back, ‘really?’, and Clarkson nods, at which point Hammond also breaks down in laughter.

A few minutes later, the crew is shown wedging a blurred shape into position in the passenger seat of the Gremlin. The blurring is not quite enough to hide that it’s a red and white R2 unit, which is actually beeping and blurting angrily at every little knock it suffers being jammed into a seat never designed to fit it. They manage to get it to fit, barely, and use the seat belt to secure it.

CLARKSON (VO)

Once the hilarity died down, Captain Antilles was able to provide a camera... of sorts. But this one would not fall pray to James’ car’s potentially ravenous appetite for technological devices. And once we got it secured, we got ourselves underway.


EXTERIOR MARS

The three vehicles burst onto the surface, all three kicking up rooster tails of red dust behind them. The Robin is still sending flame out of the tailpipe. The Gremlin begins to pull ahead, while the Hilux falls back. The Robin... doesn’t look any more stable on the ground than it did pre-wave.

INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Richard, that car of yours looks like it’s about to go take a spill and spread you all over the countryside. Maybe you should turn back.

 

HAMMOND (over radio)

No, I think I’ve got it...


INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND

...it’s just a whOAAAAAA


The landscape tilts alarmingly in the Robin’s windows as...

EXTERIOR MARS

...the Robin begins to roll, just like the running (rolling?) gag of the 2010 series.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson begins to laugh hysterically as he watches the Robin begin to tumble.

EXTERIOR MARS

The Robin falls onto it’s side, and begins to turn it into a roll over onto it’s roof.

INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond grips the steering wheel tightly, gritting his teeth, as the red scenery outside rolls past his window.

EXTERIOR MARS

The Robin goes onto it’s roof, and keeps rolling over onto it’s passenger side.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson is still laughing...

EXTERIOR MARS

...up until the Robin comes back around to the end of 360 degrees, comes to its wheels, suddenly stops rolling, and starts to drive again.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson looks out his windshield, leaning forward, the laughter replaced with a look of complete dumbfoundment.

INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond glances around, still tightly gripping the wheel, not quite sure why he isn’t still tumbling, but it rapidly gives way to an incredibly childish, not quite in the realm of sanity grin.

HAMMOND

Yes! YES!!! I’ve made it SAFER! It’s NOT a DEATHTRAP!!


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

How in the bloody blazes did he DO that? The only time I’ve ever managed that is in a sewer tunnel.


EXTERIOR MARS

The Robin begins to pull ahead, rolling a second time and, again, coming back onto its wheels and continuing to drive.

INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond is smiling even more, like he’s won the lottery.

HAMMOND

Wow! That’s actually kind of fun!


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

He’s going to beat me. It’s not going to kill him, and it’s going to let him beat me. Well, I do have an excellent, nigh-unkillable off road vehicle. It’s time to see what it’s got!


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux veers off the road, over and down the slope leading down into the Marineris depths.

INTERIOR GREMLIN

May looks in the rear view mirror, looking rather perplexed. He thumbs the radio mic.

MAY

What does Jeremy think he’s doing?

 

HAMMOND (over radio)

Beats me. Maybe he’s finally decided to kill himself.

 

MAY

We should be so lucky.


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux scrambles down the slope to the floor of the trench.

CLARKSON (VO)

Now, I knew that we had many, many miles of dirt track ahead of us, looping around the Marineris to come back around to New Adelaide, our destination.


OVERLAND MAP OF MARS
The animators pick out the trail that the cars are supposed to be traveling, detailing a long, dusty drive around the long end of the Marineris, highlighting the Gremlin in white, the Robin in yellow, and the Hilux in blue. The Robin’s path has a few extra... kinks in it.

CLARKSON (VO)

However, the distance to travel is only about a sixth of that if one goes straight through. Now, granted, the way wasn’t well-worn like the dirt track Richard and James were traveling, but I figured that I could make the trip in half the time or less in the Hilux.


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux bounces jauntily across the terrain, throwing huge clods of dry dirt and rocks in all directions as it blithely conquers the Martian landscape, while...

INTERIOR HILUX

...inside Clarkson bounces around, only kept in place by his seatbelt.

CLARKSON

The ride *oof* leaves something *erf* to be desired... *goohf* WOULD THEY BLOODY WELL PAVE THIS?!


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux continues it's bouncy ride, as above on the packed dirt track, the Gremlin slowly pulls away from the occasionally acrobatic Robin. Soon, the two above get to the long, banking turn and New Adelaide comes into view.

MAY (VO)

Will you look at that?

 

HAMMOND (VO)

It's incredible. Like an old science fiction painting.

 

CLARKSON (VO)

Meanwhile, as they were admiring the view, I was admiring the incredible terrain. And, well, trying to conquer it.


The Hilux hurtles across a relatively flat and uncluttered spot, up until Clarkson apparently misjudges his speed and heads for a rock. The Hilux's brakes suddenly slam on and it comes to a quick halt.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson lets out an explosion of breath as he is yanked against the seatbelt as the truck comes to a stop, with a bonnet-height rock in view a few feet from the front of the truck.

CLARKSON

What the bloody hell? I didn't hit the brakes.


Clarkson checks the car, gently slips it into reverse and touches the gas, then moves it forward again, turning around the rock.

CLARKSON

Weird, the brakes aren't locked now.


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux continues it's somewhat perilous path... and looming ahead is a seriously vertical cliff face.

CLARKSON (VO)

Of course, what I hadn't thought about when I attempted my alternate route was how I was going to get back out of the canyon on the other side. I had figured that I'd be able to just climb up like the Scottish mountainside.


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Oh. My. God. It's sheer. It's completely, utterly *bleep*ing sheer.


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux pokes around

CLARKSON (VO)

I was losing time now that I had gained taking my shortcut as I tried to find a way to get back out of the canyon. I decided that I had to try something, and hope I could manage the landing on the other side.


The Hilux backs up, and kicks up lots of dirt from wheelspin as it gets a running start towards the smoothest part of the wall that isn't quite vertical, and has a nice natural “ramp” curving from the canyon floor to the canyon wall. It builds up a healthy head of steam... and then comes to an even more abrupt stop, halting with the tires touching the ramp.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson is yanked forward even more violently, smacking his chest on the steering wheel.

CLARKSON

*owtch*


He checks himself.

CLARKSON

...it stopped itself? Does it not like me taking chances?


EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux backs away, and starts racing up again.

CLARKSON (VO)

Unfortunately, my one possible option was closed to me, as my vehicle staunchly refused to perform the jump.


The Hilux again screeches to a stop at the bottom of the slope.

INTERIOR HILUX

Again, Clarkson is thrown forward, but this time he actually anticipates, and avoids smacking into the steering wheel.

CLARKSON

Yep. OK. It absolutely won't do that.


He thinks.

CLARKSON

Wait. I know it made this truck capable of flight. I wonder if the Handwavium assisted anything else on this?


Clarkson grabs the 4W lever and stickshift, and sets the Hilux to 4WD-LOW.

EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux starts up the slope, moving up towards the vertical incline itself.

INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson leans forward on the steering wheel, looking very nervous, as the hoses of his spacesuit hang backwards on him as the floor of the canyon becomes visible in his rear window.

EXTERIOR MARS

The Hilux proceeds to climb up onto the vertical portion of the wall, doing a credible imitation of Black Suit Spiderman.

INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Oh. My. God. It's... I'm actually off roading onto a vertical cliff face. This is amazing. This is beyond amazing. This is more than I ever expected. Flat out, I'll never have another experience like this again.


EXTERIOR MARS

<*--Spider Man theme--*>


The Hilux continues to do a long, slow, yet absolutely vertical climb up the cliff face.

CLARKSON (VO)

Eventually, I managed to scale the cliff face, and came back out onto the road close to our destination.


The Hilux pops up past the cliff edge, hovers for a second, and then comes back down to horizontal, bouncing twice on the suspension before settling down... just ahead of the Gremlin.

INTERIOR GREMLIN

MAY (into radio)

Jezzah, you did not just fly up, did you?


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON (into radio)

No, I did not. I actually scaled it, James. Like you would scale a molehill. You can check the camera footage if you like, but I had at least three wheels in contact with dirt at all times. So beat that.


EXTERIOR MARS

The three vehicles trundle along the dirt track, the Robin falling slightly behind now.

HAMMOND (VO)

So far, I had discovered two quirks in my vehicle, while James and Jeremy had each discovered only one in theirs. And I had lost time with the wide turns of the second quirk. I would have to hope that I would have the advantage in the coming challenges.


The vehicles come to the open surface door at the end of the road... with a sharp kink just before you get into the door itself. The Hilux and the Gremlin both make the curve just fine. The Robin happens to take the turn just fast enough to tumble... and fetch up against the doorframe on it's driver's side.

INTERIOR ROBIN

HAMMOND (into radio)

Uh, a little help here.


A handful of spacesuited locals come to the entrance, and manhandle the miraculously undamaged Robin back onto its wheels.

HAMMOND

Thanks!


EXTERIOR NEW ADELAIDE

The Robin slowly pulls into the entrance, and the door rolls down.

CLARKSON (VO)
Once we arrived, we disembarked so that we could wait for our next challenge.

INTERIOR NEW ADELAIDE GARAGE

MAY

Jeremy, were you thinking when you pulled that maneuver? The Marineris is the deepest canyon in the solar system that's not filled with water, and possibly even including those filled with water.

 

CLARKSON

Look, I made it up the other side, without having to fly. That has to count for something. This Handwavium stuff is certainly something. If it wasn't for the fact that my neighbors would likely sue me, I'd ask for a whole drum off the stuff to make my home life easier. Or perhaps to make my commute to the studio easier.

 

HAMMOND

Knowing you, you'd somehow manage to ingest some one morning from a bad waving job, and then we'd have to find another presenter. Although, what are the penalties for flying without a license in an unregistered aircraft?

 

MAY

Expensive. With gaol time.


Labcoat comes into the bay area, accompanied by a gruff looking man in a coverall, wheeling a large wooden box on a dolly with him. As he sets the box down and pulls a large crowbar from his belt, Labcoat hands a tablet PC to Clarkson, along with a stylus. Clarkson signs on the tablet, and looks at what was displayed as the worker starts to pry one side of the box off.

CLARKSON (reading):

Hm. ‘Delivered: One Tame Racing Driver’. I wonder... Oh, here’s the further description. ‘Some say that he’s the Second to Last Son of Krypton... and that he survives on a diet of fried eggs, hot chili sauce, and chutney. But he’s not the Stig. He is, instead, the Stig’s Fenspace Cousin.’


At this point, the side of the box falls to the floor with a bang, making a sort of carpet, and FENSPACE STIG steps forward from inside the box. As expected, his head is covered completely by the regulation white Simpson helmet. The rest of him is also white, but unlike previous Stig cousins, this white is entirely glowing white that washes out all details... with the exception of the black hole black ‘House of El’ symbol emblazoned upon his chest. The only other real detail that can be made out is his general shape, which can be described as ‘like a pear’ with the exception of a kind of squarish protrusion on his back.

Clarkson turns back to the tablet, shielding it with one hand against the light coming off Fenspace Stig.

CLARKSON (reading):

‘A course has been marked off along the ground outside. The Stig will drive each of your cars along this training course usually used to evaluate entrants into the Armstrong Day Classic.’


Clarkson glances at his cohorts.

CLARKSON

Seems straightforward enough. (reading) ‘The idea is to see how well your vehicles handle in one of the mixed environments they are expected to perform in.’

 

HAMMOND

Oh dear. I hope he buckles himself into mine tight enough.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Hilux is sitting at the starting line of the packed dirt track. Above the track, in a centralized observation tower, the presenters are watching.

CLARKSON (VO)

My vehicle was the first out onto the track in the hands of The Stig's geeky cousin.


The Hilux takes off, with only a little wheelspin in spite of being on packed dirt. It races down a very long, shallow curve, up until the first corner, where it follows it to the left. It heads a few miles to the next corner, a right, and then several miles to a left to right twist, showing some significant oversteer. And after a few more miles, it goes into another wide turn set, also to the right...

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

HAMMOND

(making some path with his fingers.) Hmm... and through... Chicago? Wait, they actually made our TEST TRACK?

 

CLARKSON

Are you thinking we should sue?

 

MAY

(sotto) They can drop asteroids on us if they wanted to, you realize.

 

CLARKSON

Point.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Hilux plows down the followthrough, kicking up more dirt, and past a very large tirewall... it's very obvious that the track is scaled up immensely from the Top Gear track upon which it's based. It slows down immensely as it gets into the second to last corner, kicking up a lot of dirt, and then a burst of speed and hard braking and sliding through Gambon, and then across the line.

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

 

Clarkson toggles the stopwatch.

 

CLARKSON

One minute thirty eight. Wow. That is very fast, given that this track has to be ten times the size of ours.

 

MAY (reading sign)

Actually, it says that it's thirteen times the size of our track over here on this information card.

 

HAMMOND

Thirteen? Why thirteen?

 

MAY

It doesn't say. Maybe they just wanted to prove a point, or maximize the potential for things to go horribly wrong? This is a qualifying track, and the Fen have some really strange notions of what's considered “sporting”.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Robin sits at the line.

HAMMOND (VO)

With Jeremy's invincible truck having set a first time, it was time for my car.


The Robin takes off, wobbling quite a bit, but holding the line up until the first curve, at which point it turns early... and the car does the tumble through the curve, coming back onto all three wheels as it hits the straightaway.

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

CLARKSON

Wow, that was impressively done. I wonder how it's going to deal with the Hammerhead?

 

HAMMOND

I can't bear to watch. I really can't.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Robin moves into the Hammerhead, moves left... and while it wobbles as if it's going to tumble, it immediately goes the opposite way and counteracts the tumble, coming through the Hammerhead remarkably composed for it's inherent design flaw.

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

MAY

Well, that's not something you see every day. A Reliant Robin being nimble.

 

CLARKSON

OK, now I'm envious. You know, my back still hasn't properly recovered from being killed driving one.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Robin continues it's somewhat unsteady way along the track, managing to roll elegantly on each corner as Fenspace Stig anticipates the roll each and every time to come out at the top of his game. Gambon gives him only slight trouble, as the distance required is barely enough for him to remain within the marked track, but way off the line as he crosses the finish.

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

Clarkson toggles the watch, and boggles a little bit.

 

CLARKSON

This thing must have broken.

 

MAY

Let me see... oh, wow. It must be. How can it be that?

 

HAMMOND

What? WHAT? What's the time?

 

CLARKSON

One minute forty two seconds. Only four seconds slower than my truck. And that's likely the tumbling.

 

HAMMOND

Well, it is considerably lighter than yours, Jeremy. That has to count for something.


EXTERIOR MARS TEST TRACK

The Gremlin sits on the test track.

MAY (VO)

Then it was my turn, with a car that the name inspires no confidence in anyone.


The Gremlin launches, popping a slight wheelie in the process, and while exhibiting some potentially nasty oversteer in the Hammerhead, makes a fairly composed and drama-free run around the track.

INTERIOR OBSERVATION DOME

Clarkson trips the watch again, and looks at the time.

CLARKSON

You really have to be kidding me. One minute thirty-two. Four seconds FASTER than my truck.

 

MAY

Tough luck there, mate.

 

CLARKSON

It's a misbegotten idea of what the American people wanted at the end of the fuel crisis. How can it be faster?

 

MAY

It just is. For the record, Jeremy, there are some examples that are actually being used for racing.

 

HAMMOND

Wait, James, are you saying...

 

MAY

It's actually a pretty good car once you get past the name and the looks. I'm quite impressed with it. There's not a lot of real nonsense. Yes, it won't be as reliable and unkillable as what Jeremy brought, but I might actually be willing to drive another in the future.

 

HAMMOND

OK, that's it, it's reputation among our viewers is now completely ruined, as if it didn't already have one with at least the American viewers. You've ensured it is so uncool that you can cook eggs.

 

Labcoat comes in, bearing another envelope, which he passes to Clarkson. Clarkson opens it, and begins reading the card inside.


CLARKSON (reading)

‘Now that you have found out how well your cars perform, you have been hired as couriers for a local food service outfit. You will be provided a cargo of hot pizza, cold ice cream, and a twelve pack of carbonated sugary syrupy beverage, which must be delivered to an asteroid station in the Belt. Points will be deducted if the ice cream sublimates.’ What does that mean?

 

MAY

It means the moisture in the ice cream will effectively evaporate and go away.

 

CLARKSON

Ah. (reading again) ‘...pizza becomes cold or wrecked, or the beverage is somehow disturbed.’ Well, this can’t be that hard. We’ve got our vehicles ‘waved, and they seem to be handling okay to this point. I can’t see what could possibly go wrong.

 

HAMMOND

Maybe James becoming lost, even with the handy nav thingy they gave him.

 

MAY

Oh, shut up.

 

HAMMOND

And y'know, on one of my other shows, we learned that the hardest thing to do in a vacuum was keeping things cool, not warming them up.

 

CLARKSON

Well, at least we have that working in our favor.

 

INTERIOR BAY


Workers are loading the cars up with various sorts of boxes. The presenters are working at getting their cars ready. May steps out of the Gremlin, looking quite cross.

MAY

The bloody thing won’t start.

 

HAMMOND

Ey?

 

MAY

It won’t even try to turn over.


May gets back in, and shows them by turning the key. Not even the dash lights come on.

HAMMOND (grinning)

Tough luck, mate.


Clarkson comes over, and leans in the passenger window, both arms crossed along the sill and hands hanging inside.

CLARKSON

Try it again?


May gives him a skeptical look, but tries it again. This time, the car roars into life with incredible vigor, at the same time a metallic PING! sounds, and pieces drop out of one of Clarkson’s hands. May looks blankly in that direction.

MAY

Clarkson, what was that?


Clarkson puts on an innocent air.

CLARKSON

What was what?


More bits drop out of Clarkson’s hand, including a silver linked band. Now May starts looking angry.

MAY

That was MY watch, wasn’t it?


Clarkson looks at the remains of what was in his hand.

CLARKSON

Oh. I must’ve picked it up to give to you, and forgotten I had done it.

 

MAY

You *bleep*ing pillock.

 

May rolls up the windows of the car.

 

HAMMOND

That was actually quite cruel of you, Jeremy. I’m proud.


They finish loading, seal up the vehicles, and the large garage door opens up.

CLARKSON (VO)

With our cargo loaded, and all the vehicles started up, we were ready to make our way to the mining “encampment” with our delivery of much needed sustenance.


EXTERIOR MARS

The planet falls away out of frame as the three vehicles make - and break - orbit, closing in on the camera.

INTERIOR GREMLIN

May is grumbling to himself, taking a moment or two once they’re clear to poke through the box of former watch pieces.

MAY

I’m going to have to do something suitably nasty to him. Yes, I am.


May looks at the camera, raising an eyebrow in a look of, “maybe I shouldn’t have said that on camera”.

HAMMOND (VO)

When we arrived at the asteroid belt, we determined a couple of things. The first being that movies are absolutely dead wrong about the way asteroid belts are.


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON (into radio)

Guys, my nav thingy is saying we’ve entered the asteroid belt. Where’s the asteroids at?

 

MAY (over radio)

You’ve been paying too much attention to Hollywood.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

MAY

Asteroids aren’t really all that close together. They’re separated by hundreds of miles, if not thousands of miles. We’d be lucky if we could see three at once.


INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Well, that’s somewhat reassuring. I was thinking we’d be having to play a HOLY *BLEEP*ING SPIT!


EXTERIOR SPACE

The Hilux comes to a screeching, sliding sideways stop as a smallish asteroid tumbles in front of it.

INTERIOR HILUX BED

All the cargo is thrown to one side of the bed, and a fine red mist begins to form.

INTERIOR HILUX

CLARKSON

Where the *BLEEP*ING HELLS did that COME FROM?


INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond laughs.

HAMMOND

Oh, tough luck there, Jeremy. I... oh gods...


EXTERIOR SPACE

The Robin does a hard set of tumbles.

INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond looks ill, as we see the pizza boxes behind him bounce alarmingly.

INTERIOR GREMLIN

May is peering at the little GPS bolted to the dashboard.

MAY

Hmm... that one wasn’t on the chart. No matter. Onward.


RENDERED MAP SHOT

The three vehicles, indicated again by appropriately colored lines, are shown moving through the belt, towards a large red dot on the opposite side of the screen from Mars.

MAY (VO)

What we did find out about the asteroid belt is that, while a large amount of it is actually mapped, there were still assorted “navigation hazards” that were not mapped. All of us were forced to keep our eyes opened, practically to the point of not blinking, in order to watch for what in a mountainous region would be falling rocks.


INTERIOR ROBIN

Hammond is glancing around nervously, like he’s in heavy London traffic in a car that’s easily squished.

HAMMOND

Ooooh, this is so not fun. If one comes right at me, I’m roadkill.


INTERIOR HILUX

Clarkson is reasonably more comfortable, but he’s still mildly concerned.

CLARKSON

I’m amazed they even allow civilian traffic through here, given the hazards. I mean, yes, there is good money to be made by miners on the asteroids, but all it’s going to take is one lapse of concentration at the wrong moment, and they’ll be scraping me up with a spatula.


INTERIOR GREMLIN

May is also constantly glancing around.

MAY

Crickey, this is harrowing in the extreme. And some of these people do this sort of commute regularly? Like every day? Both ways?


May starts as something goes by the window.

MAY

HOLY! Wow! That one almost had my name on it! These guys have to be utterly nuts to do this!


EXTERIOR SPACE

The three vehicles jink around, the Robin somewhat more erratic and elaborate.

HAMMOND (VO)

Eventually, we were able to make it to our destination, but only just. Jeremy was the first of us to arrive.


INTERIOR LOADING DOCK

The Hilux enters the bay, and skids to a halt. Clarkson steps out, and waves to the workers converging on his truck.

CLARKSON (VO)

I arrived with little fanfare except a flurry of activity as hungry workers came to unload my much desired cargo. Unfortunately for them, my one rapid stop on the way had caused something of a problem with my cargo. And it was not just one problem.


Clarkson opens the tailgate of the Hilux, and one of the workers reaches in to grab the cooler of ice cream... which comes out looking like it’s gotten a coating of red paint applied.

CLARKSON (VO)

Apparently I had managed to not completely create an airtight seal with the Hilux’s after market shell, and the cans of soda had burst and sprayed their contents all over the inside, and the rest of the cargo, resulting in an incredibly sticky mess to clean up. And the soda was not the only casualty.


The worker pulls the pizza boxes out, still steaming with obvious warmth and also coated with a thin layer of sticky red syrup. He opens one of the boxes, pulls out the entire pie with one hand, and it remains stiff as a board.

CLARKSON (VO)

Exposure to the vacuum had dried out the pizza almost completely, rendering it warm yet entirely inedible. The ice cream suffered a similar fate. I could sense at this point that I had lost this contest, and badly. All I could hope is that Richard and James had somehow managed to accidentally jettison their respective cargos like a shipment of thionite in the face of a Great Justice raiding party. I would have no such luck.


The Robin flies in, temporarily filling the docking garage with heavy smoke as the flame coming out the back comes in contact with the atmosphere. Hammond steps out, smiling and his hair somewhat disheveled. They pull his cargo out of the Robin, and open the pizza boxes on the table. The pizza doesn't look too bad... outside of part of the cheese layer being stuck to the lid.

HAMMOND (VO)

My cargo had managed to come through mostly intact, despite the tumbling. The only real issues were the redistribution of the pizza toppings, and that the soda could not be opened right away without becoming an excellent propellant in the low gravity.

 

As they’re unloading the Robin, the Gremlin comes in, and parks very, very, very neatly in the last spot. They start unloading it, and they start getting the various chow hounds congregating around it.

 

MAY (VO)

I, however, managed to deliver my entire cargo undisturbed.

 

The people are obviously enjoying the repast out of the back of the Gremlin, and the camera pans over to Clarkson and Hammond, both sitting on the deck in front of their cars, the piles of ruined food laying around them.

 

CLARKSON

I can’t believe it.

 

HAMMOND

I can. You drive like a lunatic.

 

CLARKSON

And you choose cars like a lunatic.

 

INTERIOR STUDIO

 

There is applause as the camera zooms away from one of the pylon monitors onto the presenters, standing in an open area.

 

CLARKSON

Now, now, you might be wondering, after all that. We normally have the cars of our challenge here with us, so why don’t we have them here now?

 

MAY

Well, that’s because the boys at Health and Safety mandated that we, ahem, dispose of the vehicles appropriately before we returned, due to the “inherent risks involved with Handwavium and its byproducts”.

 

HAMMOND

So, we were forced to sell off our cars before we could even consider boarding the return flight. Well, most of us.

 

CLARKSON

That’s only because Captain Slow beat all of us, and managed to sell it off before we were actually made aware of this.


May looks smug.

HAMMOND

Yeah, who did you sell it too, James? We’re dying to know.

 

MAY

Well, you know the car had a history with the United States Military?

 

CLARKSON

Yes? And?

 

MAY

Well, Captain Antilles took me aside while we were at New Adelaide. As it turns out, his father was an American serviceman, Air Force to be specific, and he, along with his family, had a two year stint in Australia. And, they brought along a 1971 AMC Gremlin, in white, with gray primer bits where his father had patched rust, and the stereo having been busted out while it was being transported to their new assignment. And he anticipated this turn of events, and offered to purchase the car at the end of filming.

 

CLARKSON

How much did he pay?

 

HAMMOND

Can’t have been that much, even with the sentimental value.

 

MAY

You’d be surprised. Cars with known manageable quirks and already handwaved are already somewhat expensive.

 

Clarkson makes “get on with it” motions.

 

MAY

And also, being an engine that originally ran on leaded gasoline, the car apparently runs on more substances than more modern cars. Plus, as you noted, sentimental value.

 

HAMMOND

How. Much?

 

MAY

Two thousand pounds. And I paid a little over 500 for it.

 

Hammond’s jaw drops.

 

CLARKSON

How is that possible? That car can’t be worth that much...

 

MAY

It can. I checked the online sales listings for cars its relative age already ‘waved. The cheapest, cheapest car was eleven hundred pounds.

 

May goes over to the points board, and writes in 15 in the first box next to his name.

 

MAY

So, with 1 point per 100 dollars we made, that gives me 15 points to start. Now, how much did you two make on yours?

 

CLARKSON

I didn’t do too badly. I sold mine to a gent with an obvious robot limb for twenty three thousand and change. And I paid about 1500 for it.

 

MAY

So that gives you 8 points.


May writes the number in.

CLARKSON

Richard?

 

Richard looks sheepish.

 

HAMMOND

Uh... I sold it... barely.

 

MAY

How much?

 

HAMMOND

Um... (small voice) 500 pounds. Apparently the two quirks were a seriously negative impact on the car’s value.

 

CLARKSON

And how much did you pay?

 

HAMMOND

1500... but I paid another 4000 to have it shipped.


May writes in -50 for Hammond.

CLARKSON

Richard... it seems like you may have started already with sufficient self-sabotage to your efforts on this one.

 

HAMMOND

Yes. I know. I’m really regretting focusing on getting that car into space.

 

MAY

OK, and now... for the quirks. We each lose 10 points for every quirk we discovered over the course of the challenges. Now, I had 1 quirk with mine, Jeremy, you had one quirk reportedly, and Richard, you managed to wring 2 quirks out of yours.


May scribbled in the numbers. It’s clear that Richard is falling further behind now.

MAY

As for the overland journey, it’s 10 points for being first...


May writes in 10 for himself.

MAY

Hammond, you don’t gain or lose any points, as you finished.

 

CLARKSON

But he finished last! And I finished FIRST!

 

MAY

Yes, well, about that, Jeremy. Not only did you not take the same route, you managed to contaminate a study site where they’re seeking evidence of life on the planet. And also, they ruled that your climb up the sheer wall does not count as “overland” for the purposes. Hence, you got disqualified, and lose 10 points.


May writes in the values.

MAY

Now, for the Stig’s Fenspace Cousin taking our cars out on that imitation of our track. Jeremy, yours came in the middle. It’s 5 points per second on either side. Mine was 4 seconds faster than Jeremy’s.


May writes in 20 points for himself, and 0 for Clarkson.

MAY

And Richard, your’s was 4 seconds slower.


May writes in -20 for Hammond.

MAY

And finally, for the delivery challenge. We get 10 points for each element, pizza, soda, and ice cream, that was delivered intact. I delivered all of mine intact, so I get 30. Richard, you delivered everything, but the soda was badly shaken up, and the pizza toppings were redistributed, mostly to the lids of their boxes, so you get 15 points. Jeremy... you managed to somehow destroy all of your product, as you somehow managed to not get your vehicle’s bed completely sealed.

 

CLARKSON

I honestly thought I had coated the entire thing, James.


May writes in the values.

MAY

OK, now, with that, Richard, you’re way at the back with minus 75 points.


May writes it in.

MAY

Jeremy, you’ve somehow managed to come in at a whopping minus 2 points.


May writes that in.

MAY

And overall, I’ve come away with 55 points.

 

CLARKSON

The game is rigged! It has to be! Someone come lynch the cheater!

 

MAY

Oh come off it, Clarkson. I won this one, fair and square. With a Gremlin on my side for once, rather than leaving me stranded on the side of the road like usually happens when you have gremlins and cars together.

 

CLARKSON

And on that rather punishing bombshell, it’s time to end. Before we do, I’d like to thank two people without whom tonight’s show literally could not have happened. Captain Jeph Antilles of the Jupiter Mining Corporation, and Myk-El Miller!


The camera pans over to show Antilles and Myk, who wave to the camera, both smiling. Hey, they’re on their favorite show!

CLARKSON

And now, thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week, Good Night!


Show Facts:

Starbug 1 was selected as the transport for the episode not based on any particular need the ship could fill, but because the BBC was concerned about the copyright violation that the ship technically was. Jeph Antilles worked out a deal with them to exchange the occasional service for them not trying to sue him out of existence. Top Gear is the first show to take advantage of the arrangement. That Jeph and his partner Myk are fans of the show didn't hurt in the least.
Doors have been opened by this, and Jeph is currently in negotiations to provide transport services to Discovery Channel for an upcoming 'Handwavium Myths' episode of The Mythbusters.

Cerulean Edge and Starjumper were used in the episode, each one modified to carry a camera rig in the manner of a helicopter. Most of the exterior space shots were footage from these cameras. Some footage was also shot from Starbug 1.

Some say that Myk-El Miller had to have played the part of The Stig's FenSpace Cousin. Being a winner of the 'hot hatch stock' division of Asteroid Racing in the rings of Saturn for the last five years, and winning of the grueling Armstrong Day Classic last year, would make him the ideal candidate for the role. Myk-El denies it publicly, but people have noticed that he wears a black “I am The Stig” t-shirt under his loud red button up shirts from time to time. The pictures of him and The Fenspace Stig together don’t do anything to quell the rumor.

The betting pools in Fenspace as to who played The Stig’s Fenspace Cousin also put Mal Fnord, Chris Marsden, and Noah Scott on the list of names. For many reasons, this makes Noah bust out in laughter or outrage depending upon his mood that day.

Trailbreaker
1981 Toyota Hilux
Waved by Jeremy Clarkson.
Quirks:
You want to do WHAT?: Will lose power and come to a sudden stop attempting any 'hairbrained' maneuver by any driver with a reputation for reckless driving.

Mowgwi
1971 AMC Gremlin
Waved by James May. Purchased by Jeph Antilles at the end of the show.
Quirks:
Feed me Seymour!: Must have one piece of hardtech inside when first started for the day, which will be damaged or destroyed. After that, it will start up without hesitation until the next day. Cheap knock-off rolex watches and antique PDAs count, click pens don’t.
Trivia:
Jeph's family spent two years in Australia, and they shipped this particular example of the Gremlin over instead of buying a local car. There was a small party to welcome the car back ‘into the family’. It is listed as the ‘backup’ auxiliary vehicle for Starbug 1. It also occasionally is used as a true transport.

Hamster Wheel
Reliant Robin
Waved by Richard Hammond.
Quirks:
My biscuits are burning!: Flies on a blast of flame out the tailpipe for no discernible reason while under way. Tailgating this vehicle is not recommended.
Roll the Dice: When attempting a turn without adequate personal preparation, the vehicle will suddenly capsize, then roll, and wind up back on its wheels, taking no damage and resulting in a wider than intended turn.