December 5, 1977.
It was a dark and stormy night.
Actually, wait, no, it wasn't, it was really more along the lines of "slightly damp". As for dark, of course it was, it was three o'clock in the sodding morning. Not that anyone you'd ask, unless they were a rabid caffeine junkie, would refer to three A.M. as "morning".
In a smallish countryside-style manor called Snoughton which was, oddly enough, not in the countryside, and in fact somewhere near Blackpool, there were six people awake at this ungodly hour.
They were in the shed next to the drive, in which there was also a sleek-bodied racing car, open-wheeled and low enough to the ground to make an ant duck.
Next to it, the tertiary mechanic and Head Part Fetcher, Craig, who was very Irish, and as such, a ginger, was arguing with the secondary mechanic and assistant car designer, a shortish, olive-skinned man named Nico.
Next to them, the other two mechanics were bickering even more furiously. Nigel, who usually stooped to try and minimise his height, was making full use of it to loom over Terry, who was not intimidated. It was hard to be intimidated by Nigel, who had awkwardly darting eyes and long, greasy brown hair. His primary mode of communication seemed to be apologising profusely. Meanwhile, Terry was very hard to intimidate. He had a mane of hair the colour of a lion's, which was also generally the same shape if you included his beard.
"You lanky pillock," he nearly shouted, balling his hands at his sides. "If that car is as aerodynamic as it was yesterday, I'll eat my hat."
Nigel scowled. "W-well, it isn't, it's more aerodynamic."
Terry rolled his eyes heavily. "You've made that thing as streamlined as a soup plate, you great-"
They continued bickering as loudly as they pleased, which was very.
Casually watching the racket were two people off on the sidelines. One of them, Tony, the chief car designer, was leaning, though none too heavily, against a shelf piled with spare parts. He sighed, and turned to the young woman who was halfway sitting on the floor, halfway draped over the car, as if she'd fallen onto it and just hadn't bothered to move. "Are you going to attempt to organise those yobbos? You aren't called our 'Team Manager' for naught."
The young woman, who was unfortunately called Priscilla, groaned loudly. "It's too early for this," she muttered loudly.
"You're the one who arranged for this meeting," he responded. "Maybe you could've used some of those negotiation skills of yours to negotiate a time other than three A.M."
Priss sighed. "Well you see, I would've gotten us a different time if they would've allowed it. You're the one whose idea it was, anyhow."
Tony scoffed. "Well, if we're laying blame here, technically it was your fault no racing driver wanted to sign with us, ergo, why we are meeting at three a.m. to go to a warehouse."
She looked up at him sleepily. "How on earth is it my fault that my father sponsored our team?"
"You could've asked him not to. Or, if he insisted, you could've not plastered the MacLean logo all over our car and uniforms."
Priscilla pouted. "I figured we could use the advertising."
Tony glared heavily at her, which was a waste of a good glare, because she was starting glassily at the floor. "Maybe it would've done something for your father's profit margins, but no racing driver, self-respecting or otherwise, wants to be associated with a middling U.K.-only company that makes toilet paper. Not even in Formula three."
Priss looked up at him, frowning. "That isn't true."
He frowned back, incredulously. "Really."
"Yes," she said diplomatically. "We also make paper towels and sanitary napkins. And our products are being sold in Ireland as of three months ago."
He stared hard at her. "If anything, the bit about the sanitary napkins makes it worse. And you're being really pedantic and missing the point. I've never known you to be pedantic. You must be really sleep-deprived."
"I am not," she whined sleepily.
He threw his hands up. "Damn, now we're bickering too. Wouldn't want to lower ourselves to their level," he said, making a sweeping gesture to the rest of the team, although, at this point, Craig and Nico had stopped arguing and had found common ground in amicably making fun of Nigel.
Sighing again, Tony went over to the record player in the corner, about sixty percent of which was covered in dust particles and grease, picked up the record at the top of the stack adjacent to it, and set it on the turntable to play. He twisted the volume knob up as far as it would go, stepped back, and covered his ears, which made his hair look even more like the ears of a brown spaniel.
Everyone in the shed, besides Tony, started as a hammering, deafening organ riff burst into the shed like a man late to a meeting. Terry was the first to react, yanking the needle off the record as quickly as he could without damaging it.
"Look, man," he said, berating Tony, "You could've just shouted or something if you wanted our attention. I like King Crimson, just not that bloody loud."
Tony rolled his eyes. "I've tried that. The only way to get the attention of you yobs is through yob music."
Nico wiggled a finger in his ear. "Bloody English music," he muttered in his fairly thick Greek accent.
Priss snorted like one inebriated. For some reason, perhaps because everyone was looking for a reason, that broke the tension. Everyone gradually broke into laughter, even Tony.
"Ah," sighed Priss, after the laughter died down, "I need some coffee."