The Rumble Rally
Episode 7: “Membership Has its Privileges”

Time was moving on. It was getting darker and darker, later and later. Lady Lavinia Kydd-Leatherette (aristo-playgirl and impoverished card-sharping trickster) and Miss Kitten Kaboodle (undercover agent on a mission for the Hooded Claw [mysterious underworld investments crime lord] who’s down to the last of her 9 lives) having already made good their escape from Count Backwards (certifiable bad-tempered bad-guy out to get everybody) and the Brash Ironic Ruffians (roaming impartial revenge gang for hire), it was now every woman for herself. Ms Pitstop had to think of something fast to get out of her latest predicament. Also playing heavily on her mind was the fact that the deadline for entry in the Rumble Rally (an international treasure-hunt style race for an undisclosed ‘fabulous prize’) was getting dangerously near and if she didn’t get out of this rather awkward situation and back to her bike, she’d be out of the race before she even started it.

As the Brash Ironic Ruffians drag her towards the railroad tracks, Ms Pitstop concentrated on her thoughts, ‘The money, focus on the money. Just think, enough to buy controlling stock in the family business and take back my rightful position as CEO of Pitstop Pistons. Then I can get my kid-sister out of hock (again!) and maybe even marry Sylvester Sneekly (beloved ‘old friend’ of the Pitstop family and their company’s financial director). He always seemed rather keen and so good with money too.’

Resisting as best she could but still being dragged towards the un-manned level crossing she continued to think to herself, ‘Hmm, railroad tracks. I suppose they’re going to tie me down and let the last train out of Paddington tonight do the business. Very traditional, almost old-fashioned in a sentimental sort of way. Perhaps I should appeal to that predictable micron of pity that lurks deep within their tiny little mercenary hearts?’

Ms Pitstop rather unsubtly feigned distraught emotion as her captors lead her past the wriggling, bound and positively incandescent with rage figure of Count Backwards. Seizing an opportunity she sobbed and over dramatically wailed, 'Oh Aubrey, why did you do it? That poor biker's death was no accident was it! Oh how could you?!’ The Ruffians suddenly stopped their dragging their morbid curiosity having been aroused.

Irritated further by her use of his alter ego’s name, Count Backwards forced out a coherent reply, 'No, your quite right Ms Pitstop, it wasn't an accident, but it was most definitely not all my fault, oh no indeed, it was YOURS my dear!' Count Backwards now taking advantage of being a captive for an audience bitterly told a somewhat exaggerated story of how several years ago while fueled by immense grief tinged with guilt, he ordered an abridged boxed edition of How I did It by Baron Viktor von Fronkensteen (with detailed illustrations, large print and 32 page anatomically correct colouring book) from ACME Publisher’s Warehouse. As part of his plan he gave specific delivery instructions that it must be couriered to an address in the remote village of Leafy Swallow where he was in hiding from various law enforcement organisations. He engineered the 'accident' because he required a last ingredient, a ‘fresh’ head, for the reanimation of Boris, his best friend and manservant, who was accidentally-on-purpose dispatched from this mortal coil by Ms Pitstop years ago while in the process of escaping from Arkham Asylum.

He had been using the headlining story of the 'accident' to his advantage by elevating it to legendary status and using it to scare people away from his secret hide out crypt in the village churchyard. The reanimation project was not however a complete success, but that’s another story.

After Backwards had finished anticipating applause for his colourful storytelling. Ms Pitstop pleaded to the Ruffians, 'Gentlemen, how can you possibly believe this sad crazed lunatic's story? Poor love, he's clearly not playing with a full deck.’

And then she tried to reason with them, ‘Best thing we can do is leave the poor creature here and report it anonymously to the authorities.’ The Ruffians considered this option for a moment and briefly discussed it amongst themselves. It certainly wouldn’t make any difference to them, but they’d still like to tie her to the tracks in lieu of compensation for damage to their bikes, not-to-mention the completion of their commissioned task. Unbeknownst to her, Backwards and the other competitors in the Rumble Rally, the Ruffians had been commission anonymously by the Hooded Claw to deter, disrupt and wreak general havoc at the start of the Rally. The Ruffians were one their way to the start when they became entangled with Backwards and the girls in their backward speeding car.

‘Look’, Ms Pitstop continued while digging her heels into the tarmac to slow the process of dragging down, ‘let me just show you my credentials and perhaps you will be so kind as to let me go. I may still just make it in time to register with the race clerk for my starter’s orders.' Pandora Pitstop produced a leather bill fold containing her Ace Café Club card, Carney Association Side Show Performance Artists card (from her days with ‘Ol Nick’s Own Rough Riders as part of Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival) and a Diplomatic Immunity Cart Blanche issued personally by the Dowager Empress Angelique la Magnifique of Carpania from her inside coat pocket. She then carried on explaining with great sentiment that she needed the Rally prize money for the family business and to save her kid-sister, no-to-mention a sizable donation to the BIR retirement fund.

Count Backwards was absolutely red and fit to burst. ‘You can’t buy that story, even if it is true!’

Ignoring Count Backwards completely the Ruffians dropped their hold on Ms Pitstop.

‘Whoa dude, you were with the Rough Riders? Man I saw them in that weird ‘olde worlde’ country, Ruitania, when we were doing a job for the local potentate. Ha, ha, ha, it nearly started a war.’ giggled the Mousketeer Ruffian.

‘Awesome, the Rough Riders, man they were legendary!’ agreed Stinky Ruffian. ‘I still got the t-shirt, it’s my favorite polishing cloth’, he said with a wink.

‘So legendary no one’s seen them perform twice in the same lifetime. They were like wow man!’ chipped in Sleazy Ruffian with wide-eyed amazement. Sleazy really needs to lay of the gear…

‘Nuff said dude, we can’t waste her, we’d get cursed by the Finger of Fickle Fate or something.’ warned Dumpy Ruffian.

‘ Cursed? Don’t worry about that, I’ll see to it personally!’ Count Backwards spat at them continuing to struggle in his bonds. ‘Damn, I picked a bad day to give up concealed weaponry!’

The Ruffians agree to help Ms Pitstop for fear of evoking some strange sort of voodoo-cult revenge curse vaguely stipulated in small print on the back of her Carney Side Show Performance Artists card. They saddled up, Ms Pitstop catching a lift with the Mouseketeer, and abandon Count Backwards tied to the churchyard fencing grinding his teeth.

Now alone in the dark, Count Backwards had long since gone beyond his ultimate rage level 11 (that’s one more than 10 you know) and fell deep into despair. In a little while his personality reverted back to his old self, Aubrey, Lord Ruthven - likeable rogue. With a heavy sigh, he closed his eyes, started counting backwards and made a wish.

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