Earlier parts are here or here.
XVIII – 25 miles up: T-1
James peered past the strips of sticking plaster that now covered most of his side of the windscreen and tried to spot the ground through the glow of the hot gases that were streaming past the car. As far as he could tell there was nothing but cloud below. “I think we’re the right way up,” he said, “but god alone knows where we are.”
“Ask Sir Patrick,” said Richard, “they’re bound to be tracking us on radar.”
“Can’t get through, too much interference. Maybe when we’re lower.”
“What about the satnav?” asked Jeremy.
“You remember you wanted to cut costs?”
“You crossed off the aviation satnav I wanted and bought one from Argos instead.”
“And it was a real bargain.”
“Except that aviation satnavs work at aviation speeds and altitudes, this thing might be fine for a Mini but it won’t be any good for us until we’re practically on the ground.”
“We need to shed a load of speed or we’ll burn up as we get lower, but without knowing where we are… well, I’d hate to run out of fuel over the Atlantic or something.”
“Don’t worry, lad,” said Wallace, “it’s all taken care of. Gromit lad, deploy the homing system.”
Gromit rummaged under the dashboard, pulled out a small cage containing a disgruntled-looking pigeon, and hung it on the rear view mirror. The pigeon looked around wildly then peered ahead and to the right.
“Finest homing pigeon in all of Wigan, he’ll guide us straight there.”
“To Wigan?” said Jeremy.
“Of course Wigan,” said Wallace.
“We’re going to need one hell of a long runway,” said James. “Wigan doesn’t have an airport, does it?”
“There’s a flying club. And Manchester airport’s only twenty-five miles away.”
“Oh, good grief.”
“Problem, James?” asked Jeremy.
“There won’t be room for us to land.”
“Don’t worry,” Wallace repeated. “Everything’s under control. It’s all taken care of, just enjoy the ride.”
James was pretty sure he’d never seen a dog cross its fingers before. Gromit managed it now.
There was an ominous creak from the windscreen, and a shard of glass blew out. The plasters covering it bulged out into the opening then burst with a soft ‘pop’ as air began to whistle out through the hole. “Give me something to cover the hole,” shouted James. “Something smooth! Now!”
“Oh dear,” said Wallace. For a moment he seemed to freeze, then with an anguished expression reached into a pocket, produced a plastic-wrapped package and slapped it against the hole. The contents instantly moulded themselves to the windscreen, while pressure held the pack in place. The whistling stopped. Four pairs of eyes stared at it then looked at Wallace accusingly.
“You utter bastard!” said Jeremy. “We’ve been eating alien beans for fourteen sodding hours. Why didn’t you share that out?”
James stared at the pack. “Eight Extra-Mature Cheddar Cheese Slices. Eight! We could have had two each!” Gromit growled menacingly. “All right, one and three fifths.”
“I was holding it in reserve,” said Wallace. “Happen it’s a good thing I did.”
“That’s not going to hold forever,” said Richard, “we’ve got to get this thing down before it kills us.”
“Now the interesting thing about this,” said James, “is that as we get lower the pressure will tend to make the windscreen implode, not explode.”
“Have you got a better plan?” asked Jeremy. “Thought not. Let’s get this thing down.”
There was a rasp of static, and the radio said “…zzzst increase angle of descent by six degrees, repeat zero six degrees, and vector five degrees, zero five degrees, to starboard. I repeat, increase angle of descent… zzzzzzz…”
“Do you think they meant us?” asked Richard.
“Seems plausible,” said James, “the pigeon was looking that way.”
“Right you are then,” said Wallace, steering slightly to the right and pressing on the foot pedals. The wings groaned in protest, and the Bug began to shudder as it hit increased air resistance.
On the radio Sir Patrick’s voice said “…crossing the South Coast, altitude fifteen miles, distance two hundred miles. ETA ten minutes and counting…”
“We’re doing twelve hundred miles an hour in a three-wheeled car!” said Jeremy. “That’s got to be some sort of record.”
“Over two thousand, actually,” said James. “We’ve got to shed a lot of speed soon. I really hope this plan of yours is good.”
“Don’t worry, lad,” said Wallace. “The Stig loved it when I explained it to him. Um, her.”
“Wait a minute,” said Richard. “The Stig probably knew he… she… wouldn’t be coming back.”
“Oh dear… Never mind, I’m sure everything will be all right.”
The radio said “Altitude five miles, throttle back to twenty percent power, and reduce descent angle by three degrees, zero three degrees.”
“No course change,” Wallace said proudly. “Best pigeon in Wigan!”
Suddenly the pack of cheese slices blew in, followed by a blast of frigid air through the hole in the windscreen.
“Told you so,” shouted James. “We must be well below the speed of sound, or that would have torn the Bug apart.”
Gromit pressed the packet back against the hole, bracing himself with his back legs against Richard’s chest. It went comparatively quiet again.
“At least that’s cleared the air a bit,” said Jeremy.
“After fifteen hours of eating beans it needed it,” added Richard.
“Steer left two degrees, repeat zero two, increase descent angle by three degrees, repeat zero three, and cut power to ten percent.”
“Much more of that and we’ll be falling out of the sky,” said Richard.
“I can see lights flashing ahead,” said James; “looks like a plane, a big one.”
“Oh for god’s sake,” said Jeremy, “didn’t they even clear the bloody route for us.”
“There’s a sign!” said James, “it says ‘Follow me’.”
“There’s something behind it,” said Richard, peering over his shoulder. “Looks like something being towed on a cable.”
The object got closer; a man, riding something that looked like a jet ski with stubby wings, being towed at the end of the cable.
“No,” said Jeremy.
“Can’t be,” said James.
“It bloody is,” said Richard.
Together they said “Black Stig!”
“I told you it was a good plan,” Wallace said smugly.
“Didn’t we try to kill him a couple of times?” mused Richard.
“He was never one to hold a grudge,” said Jeremy.
“How would you know?” asked James.
When Black Stig was about thirty feet ahead he produced a huge gun and fired it at the Bug. A grapnel hook flew out, narrowly missing them. Black Stig did something to the gun and the cable started to retract.
“We’re getting bloody low on fuel,” said James.
“Have no fear,” said Richard, “Black Stig is here.”
“So this is it,” said Jeremy, “we’re all going to die.”
Suddenly Black Stig fired again, and the hook thudded into the front of the Bug, penetrating the fibre glass hatch and narrowly missing James’ feet, and began to wind back towards the aircraft ahead.
“That’s a Hercules,” said James, as they got closer. “I don’t see how we’re going to get aboard; our wings are way too wide to fit through the loading ramp.”
As Black Stig’s vehicle approached the Hercules, the freighter hit some turbulence and dropped rapidly; the towing cable snapped Black Stig upwards against the fuselage of the Hercules, and he fell from his flying jet-ski and disappeared into the night.
“That’s torn it,” said James.
“We’re only a couple of miles up,” said Jeremy. “He’ll be fine once he’s had a couple of aspirin.”
The Hercules levelled off, and the cable began to drag them in again. Inside someone wearing flying gear was signalling something with a “cut my throat” gesture.
“I think he means cut power,” said James.
“Right-ho,” said Wallace, hitting switches. Behind them the roar of the rockets died down. A few seconds later the cable started to wind them in again. “Retract the wings, Gromit lad.”
Gromit began to turn one of the handles protruding from the dashboard, and the wings slowly began to fold back under the Bug.
“That’s amazing,” said Richard.
“How else were you supposed to drive it home?” asked Wallace, as the Bug rolled to a halt aboard the Hercules, and the loading ramp slowly closed.
XIX – Somewhere near Wigan, Midnight
Watched only by some incurious sheep, two circles of searing bright green light scanned across a field and a small and newly-formed crater, before settling on a shattered black-clad body. Broken bones began to knit back together, torn flesh healed, and split leather flowed back to a seamless whole. Within minutes Black Stig was on his feet again, and walking briskly in the direction of Dunsfold Aerodrome, 189 miles away.
XX – Paris, France, T-0, 3.30 AM
It was a dark rainy night in Paris, which was good news for everyone who might have otherwise been out and about when the remains of the caravan plummeted from the sky and shattered on one of the main supports of the Eiffel Tower. The fuel bladder and oxygen tank burst; the small amount of fuel that remained ignited instantly to create a raging inferno. Within seconds the entire tower was engulfed, soon the metal itself was burning. With a groan the entire structure collapsed into the Seine, crushing several barges. As it fell the flaming wreckage of a piano rolled out of the Le Jules Verne restaurant and landed on a vintage British car which was parked on the embankment.
Epilogue - Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, T+5
“Okay,” said Jeremy, smirking at the camera. “I think that we can say that we handled that challenge pretty well.”
“It’s a shame we had to lose White Stig,” said Richard, “but we did save Milton Keynes, and Black Stig is already up to speed in his place.” As he spoke the Top Gear banners depicting White Stig fluttered down, and Black Stig banners were raised in their place.
“Admittedly White Stig went home, but we’ve flown the first car into space, made the first landing on an inhabited world, and made first contact with at least two types of alien.”
“And destroyed the Eiffel Tower, five barges, a piano and a Morris Marina,” said James.
“There may have been some minor property damage,” said Jeremy, stressing the word ‘minor,’ “but I think we can all agree it’s been a triumph for British engineering and ingenuity.”
“The French don’t think so,” said Richard. “Don’t expect us to be reviewing any French cars any time soon… unless you’re watching us on Dave, of course, in which case we’ll probably be doing it for another four or five years.”
“And on that bombshell,” said Jeremy; “Goodnight!”
Adding a very minor crossover with Captain Scarlet. Many thanks to everyone who reviewed and commented, especially those who pointed out errors. One day I may actually do something about some of them. Special applause to Don Sample, who spotted that the Eiffel Tower really does have a piano bar.
Comments please before I post to archives.
I assume that there are some Top Gear fanfic communities around somewhere - if anyone wants to bring this to their attention please do!