Hello everyone, and welcome back to our second exciting episode of the all-new season of 24: The Race Against Time. This hour, we have plenty of action in store for the DRH, Yuri the arms dealer, and our hero Jack.
And introducing a new element to the real-time format, the split-screen effect! Everytime you see this symbol:
It means that there are two events occurring simultaneously, and that any actions or conversations, irregardless of the order in which they are written, happen in more or less at the same time.
Now that we've got the explaining of this new feature out of the way, it's time to fasten your seatbelts! It's gonna be a bumpy ride...
The following takes place between 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM.
The early morning sun beat down gently on the lone 1949 Mercury Club Coupe as he trundled along the road leading back to Radiator Springs. One of the first few residents of the little town, and guardian storyteller of its glorious history and tales, Sheriff (as everyone calls him, since his first name was too difficult to pronounce) was out on his daily morning run. It was part of a new exercise regime he had undertaken every since he was inspired by McQueen and Doc's training sessions. The ancient patrol car smiled. It's about time he got fit again; one too many jelly donuts did not help the stamina of the sole police officer of Radiator Springs. Come to think of it, he was the only form of local law enforcement in the whole of Carburetor County, the nearest metropolitan station being in Kingpin, Arizona, about 60 miles from Radiator Cap. Sheriff pondered over that fact as he turned left at the T-junction and passed the leaning Route 66 'badge' signpost.
He supposed that one advantage rural towns had over the big cities was that generally, the crime rate was low, and the felonies themselves were less severe in nature. Of course, folks would be quick to point out that so was the population density, not to mention the fact that fewer cops around meant that it was easier to get away with an unlawful act. But so far, in his entire career serving as the lawman in this frontier town, Sheriff managed to keep things pretty much under control. He only had to deal with petty stuff like investigating the odd break-in into one of the townspeople's shops, setting up a perimeter in the event of a building fire, escorting Mater back to town as he towed cars who had broken down along the Mother Road, or booking troublemaking illegal racers like the Delinquent Road Hazards...
The patrol car came to a halt. Speaking of which...
In the distance, he saw the very gang of pranksters he was thinking about, caught in their latest act of mischief. He furrowed his windshield as he watched one of the cars, a gaudy Silvia decked with a ladder tower, put the finishing touches on his latest "masterpiece". That piece of work those hoodlums considered 'art' was a sore sight to his eyes. Silently turning on his single light dome, he got ready to make his move.
Wingo cackled as he put away his paint can and stood back to admire his work. He had replaced some of the letters with some of his own (custom-made font, of course), and sprayed over those he wanted omitted. What once read:
Gateway to Ornament Valley
a way to Ornery alley
He was pleased with his handiwork, if he did say so himself. Judging by his friends' chuckles, he supposed they felt the same way too.
"Now that's a good sign!" praised Boost as he punched Wingo's side with a tire as a display of approval.
"And here's a bad one! Put your tires out where I can see them!"
The gang spun around to see the Sheriff, their arch-enemy of the law, rolling towards them.
"Well, if it ain't the She-riff," taunted DJ, pronouncing the first syllable like the third-person female pronoun.
"What seems to be the problem, Officer?" enquired Wingo, playing innocent.
"You know what's the problem, boy. I caught you vandalising that public billboard there. Yer lucky it's just an infraction which I can't lock you up for. But you're gonna have to pay a fine to the local council," growled Sheriff. "And don't you other punks move a muscle," he added when he saw Snot Rod moving out the corner of his eye.
"Hey man, the way I see it, I'm doing the community a favour. See, I'm giving a much-needed revamp to their boring, old signboard. Needs to reflect their current state of affairs, see," smirked Wingo.
"Don't you diss this town, man," Sheriff retorted as he turned back to face the Silvia. He was furious at the youngster's insult of the town he had grew up in and looked after all his life. The police car slowly popped open his trunk where he kept a parking boot, while he fished for his ticket book under his side skirt. "Now show me those tires! I won't say it again, or I'm gonna cuff you," he ordered.
"Sure thing, officer," answered Wingo as he winked at Boost.
"Hey, I saw that! What was that for?" yelled Sheriff.
"Oh, it's nothing," said Boost calmly. "It just means that we'll split right about...now."
And with that last word, the four of them hightailed out of there in different directions, leaving Sheriff rooted to the spot for a few seconds. When he realised what just happened, he took off after Boost the leader. He didn't see the nails that Snot Rod had dropped on the ground earlier when he was not looking, and they took out his left rear tire. He swore as he struggled to keep up, but he soon lost sight of them. He knew it was unlikely there would be any squad cars around to hear him, but he decided to give a call for help anyway.
"This is the Sheriff of Carburetor County, I need backup to apprehend four suspects involving defacement of a public structure, last seen heading West from the Radiator Springs welcome billboard, Route 66. Please respond."
He decided to follow the leader's tire prints and try radioing again sometime later.
Somewhere above Cadillac Ranch
"You know, killing those cops wasn't necessary."
The helicopter snapped out of his thoughts when the Russian car he was transporting made that statement. "That may be unfortunate, but I'm afraid that's all part and parcel of collateral damage," the Bell answered. He frowned, as if pondering something. "I thought you would be used to all this, you know, going to conflict zones and doing business with warlords and all that."
"Yeah, well, just because I provide the means to kill, doesn't mean that I condone it."
"Geez, you must be the wimpiest arms dealer I've ever met," the chopper replied.
They were now flying over a range of rock formations shaped like Cadillac tailfins. As they came over the range and flew down into the valley, Yuri looked down below and saw a small forest, and rising just ahead, a huge mesa shaped like a radiator cap. "I guess you have to do your job, and I do mine. So where's the rendezvous?" When he got no acknowledgement, he leaned out of the cabin and glanced at the cockpit, where the helicopter's eyes were. "Did you hear me?"
"I don't feel good, I think that cop just shot my fuel tank. I'm losing fuel...and oil," the chopper croaked weakly.
"What? So now you're bleeding?" cried the Russian car as he turned behind to inspect the helicopter's tail. Indeed, the hole torn by Jack's last bullet had ruptured the chopper's fuselage, and oil and gas was gushing out at an alarming rate.
"I can't stay in the air...I feel dizzy," the Bell muttered faintly.
"Stay with me! Chyort voz'mi..." the Lada cursed as the helicopter started to spiral out of the sky. They were now rapidly descending over a small town in front of the mesa, and were falling towards a butte that lay East of it. The helicopter's engine began to sputter, then die. The blades were next to go, and they began to plummet to Earth.
The sudden drop in altitude must have startled the chopper from his exhausted stupor, because he was now wide awake and frantically trying to restart the engine. "We're going down!" he shouted the obvious. "Hang on, I'll try to initiate an autorotation sequence!"
"A what?" yelled Yuri back, but the Bell was too busy preparing for a controlled descent from their freefall. The internal stability detector was now blaring loudly at a high-pitched whine. They were quickly approaching terminal velocity, and Yuri's fuel tank felt like it was floating. He was experiencing a low-g condition, a sense of weightlessness that came from his rapid vertical descent. Yuri then heard the chopper's freewheeling unit disengage the engine from the main rotor, as the wind whistled through the blades and slowly began to turn them again. "Like a windmill," he thought as they slowly started to decelerate. The butte now loomed large, and the ground was less than fifty feet away and rushing up to meet them.
"Hold on!" the Bell screamed as he pitched his nose up for landing, sending the Lada tumbling into the back of the cabin. A crash landing was imminent. The skids were the first to hit the ground, and they did so with such force that they shattered, sending the helicopter into a rollover onto its side. The tail was sheared off by the impact and Yuri was thrown out of the side door onto the ground. The two skittered over the hard gravel before coming to a stop at the base of the butte.
They lay still for a while as the dust cloud cleared. Yuri was the first to get up, shaking a tumbleweed off him and checking to see he was okay. Aside from a cracked side mirror and a dented hubcap, he was fine. He rolled over to see whether the Bell was alright.
Far from it. Both his skids had broken in half, and his tail lay a few feet away, electrical sparks leaping from it. His body was dented in from the crash, but he was still breathing, albeit faintly.
"Hey, you okay, comrade?" called Yuri. There was no response for a few seconds, then the chopper opened one eye weakly, and nodded. "That was cool...whatever you just...did..." his voice trailing off. There was no further reply. The Russian looked around and spotted a side road leading up the ridge. "I'll just...go get help. You stay here, okay?"
"It's not like I can go anywhere," the battered heli replied.
Yuri ignored the sarcastic remark and sidestepped a crumpled tail blade before making his way out of the basin.
Jack had been driving for close to an hour now. He had taken an off ramp and was now heading past some rock formations that looked like car hoods. He remembered seeing pictures of them in a guide to the Mojave desert he had read as part of his field-ops theory training. There was a town nearby, if his memory served him right. Maybe he could go there to ask for help. He wished he could call CTU to inform them of the recent change in plans and the escaped convict, but his phone was useless without a nearby signal tower. The absence of technology, out here, in the middle of nowhere, made him feel exposed and defenseless. What he would give to ask Chloe for a thermal satellite scan of the surrounding area... it would make his job of hunting this fugitive much easier.
He was about to try contacting headquarters on his cell again when he spotted a plume of smoke rising from a butte shaped like a hood ornament about a mile ahead of him. A trail of gasoline lead to the source of the smoke. He raced towards the basin as he tried his TETRA radio.
"This is Federal Agent Jack Bauer. Requesting immediate assistance, I'm by..." He consulted his on-board computer, otherwise known as a Mobile Data Terminal, or MDT. "...Willy's Butte." He reached the edge of the ridge and came upon the wrecked Bell chopper. "I've located the bird carrying a wanted fugitive, I repeat, I've got the helo." He checked that the coast was clear. "Package is nowhere in sight."
Sheriff happened to receive Jack's transmission, and was intrigued. "This is Sheriff responding. What's your..." But he didn't finish his sentence, because he just spotted Wingo and DJ hiding out in a ditch. The duo saw him at the same time and sped away. The weary old police car groaned and gave chase.
"Hello? This is CTU agent Jack Bauer. Who is is this again? Hello? Dammit," swore Jack. He was going to have to do this himself. He slowly coasted down the rock face and approached the helicopter, gun drawn.
"Don't move!" he yelled. He pressed the barrel against the Bell's nose. "Remember me? I'm that guy who shot your butt in that little tunnel breakout you did back there. Thanks to you, my entire team is dead. Now I'm going to ask you one simple question: 'Where is he?' "
"I don't know who you're talking about, Officer. Don't you need to call for backup or something? I'm bleeding here," the Bell said nonchalantly.
"I don't give a crap, I just want my arms dealer back in custody. Talk!" Jack prodded the Bell with his weapon again.
"Look, I don't know where that Russian went. Even if I did, I'm under instructions not to tell you," the heli answered defiantly.
"Alright, you refuse to cooperate, huh?" The helicopter was lying on his side, so Jack wheeled round to the roof and grabbed one of his main rotor blades. He gave it a sharp twist, bending it at an awkward angle. Whatever he did must have caused the heli considerable pain, because he gave a sharp yelp almost immediately. "Where's Yuri? Tell me!"
"Ow ow ow, okay, okay!" whimpered the Bell. "Last I saw him, he headed that way." The chopper pointed with a mangled skid towards the path that led out of the basin. "You might want to hustle, though. The folks who hired me may be after him."
"I dunno. The guy on the line sounded Chinese, that's all I can say."
Jack didn't say anything and started up the ridge.
"Hey!" hollered the Bell. "Are you gonna call an ambulance or what? Hey! Don't leave me here!"
Jack ignored the Bell's screaming protests and made a mental note to try to call CTU again and get someone to pick the injured heli up. Suddenly his radio squawked to life.
"...requesting additional units. Suspects are heading toward the local drive-in theatre."
Jack quickly answered the distress call, recognising the voice. "Agent Jack Bauer here. Where's your ten-twenty? I'm by Willy's Butte. I need ID on vehicles."
Sheriff realised the stranger that contacted him earlier was now offering assistance. He would accept any help that came his way, because right now they were hurtling towards the town, where the hooligans could possibly endanger civilians with their reckless attempts to evade his pursuit.
"Suspects are a gang of illegal street racers. Green Silvia... blue Scion... grey Eclipse... and an orange Barracuda. Two of them are heading to your position now," he breathlessly replied. He gunned his engine and stayed on the speedsters' tail.
Boost and Snot Rod happened to zoom past Jack at the same time. "Got 'em. Commencing pursuit." The muscle car revved his engine and peeled off after the pair.
Base of Willy's Butte
The Bell chopper tried to lift himself into an upright position, but fell down again. His rotor blades went limp as he resigns himself to waiting for some passerby to give a tire.
Exterior of Manifold Tunnel, Southern Exit
The first response units arrive at the scene of the cave-in; a Pontiac GTO highway patrol, a Hummer H2 Search and Rescue, and a Ford Econoline ambulance. The Pontiac begins to unroll police tape to set up a perimeter, while the Hummer shifts the boulders aside.
Behind Ramone's House of Body Art, Radiator Springs
Red turned off his fire hose and stood back to admire his rose bush in front of Ramone and Flo's cottage to the side of the paint shop. Ever since Radiator Springs returned to the map, he had been making an effort to grow more of his beloved flowers to adorn the lampposts and sidewalks. He was proud of his work, and when his plants were in full bloom, they bathed the town in a carpet of beautiful colours.
He swatted at a VW bug that rested on a rose petal. Ramone came out of the front door, yawning sleepily. He stretched on his pneumatic axles and grinned at the firetruck.
"Heeey...good morning, Rojo! Whaddya think of my look, eehh...?" he greeted Red, as he displayed his latest artwork on his side panel.
Red gave an appreciative nod and bashfully returned to watering the thorny red flowers.
"Ay, I'm going to miss Lightning and Doc, they should be leaving about now. Vamos!" cried the Impala as he hurried to Flo's cafe next door. Red was about to turn to follow him when he heard a noise from behind the house. He slowly turned around and stood there for a few seconds, watching.
"Yo, whatchoo waitin' for, man? C'mon!"
Red turned back to see the lowrider waiting for him. He consoled himself he must be imagining things, and reversed to accompany the Latino to the diner to see the racer and town doctor off.
The Lada watched the departing firetruck and custom-car from behind a stack of tires. He supposed the townspeople looked friendly enough, he would wait here for a few more minutes to gather his courage, before making his way over to the opposite diner. He'll have some breakfast and chat with the locals before asking them to help the heli out. First things first... after all, he was starving for pancakes. The brown sedan saw the purple lowrider stop to give a waiting green 50s showcar a peck on the cheek, before melting back into the shadows.
Hope you enjoyed this installment. I had to watch some scenes from the movie (especially the map from the 'Our Town' sequence) to get a general feel of the geographical locations of the various landmarks. And yes, Kingpin is a spoof on Kingsman, and it was briefly seen on one of the highway exit signboards at the beginning of the 'Life is a Highway' sequence. If you liked this chapter, please let me know by dropping me a comment. You, the audience, are the reason why I keep writing this. And tune in next time for the third hour of the longest day of Radiator Springs, when Jack Bauer finally comes to town!