Car enthusiast

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Porsche 911 Turbo S on Forgiato Tecnica Series Wheels 

10 Baby Facts for SPN Fic Authors

[I swear this is not a rant - it ISN’T. Honest.]

It is actually kind of cool to realize that you possess specialty knowledge that may be of use to others. Stuff that you didn’t really KNOW you knew, until, of course, you are reading along in a fic and something the author describes (or the character says) brings your brain to a screeching halt. “That’s not right – it can’t possibly happen that way…” And then you go and do actual research to back up your gut knowledge. This little FAQ is the result of one such realization.

My dad fixed antique and classic cars for a living from 1964 – 1978, owning his own showroom for 3 years near the end of that time. Born in 1966, I grew up playing in old cars, hiding in floorboards and exploring them to my heart’s content. Our family car for several years was a 1966 Thunderbird, but when dad went to car shows, we rode in whatever he wanted to show off. I’ve been in rumble seats, hard top convertibles, cars with windshields that laid down flat, and cars with no roof, doors, or walls of any kind. My 1st car was a fully restored 1966 mustang. Without really realizing it, I soaked up a LOT of inherent understandings about older cars. The information below is based in that knowledge, backed up with some internet research.

The following is true about Baby (the character in SPN, not necessarily the actual cars that play her): 

1) Compared to most modern sedans, Baby is BIG. Like REALLY BIG. She is 17 and ¾ feet long (5.4 meters) and 7 feet 8 inches wide (2.03 meters). Allowing for door thickness on either side and the gaps between doors and bench seat, I’m betting the front seat is a little over 5 feet wide. Given basic geometry and human skeletal limitations, this means it is not possible for the passenger to have their head resting against the passenger door/window AND place their hand on the driver’s thigh. If the passenger is in this position, the driver can,  at best, entwine fingers with the passenger’s outstretched hand. That’s IT (even with Sam’s monkey arms). Sitting up straight, yes. Slumped over, no. On the plus side, this is why the guys can, in fact, get some sleep in her (and have fun in the back seat).

2) Despite how big Baby is, she is kinda short. Baby is only 54 inches high (4’6” or 138 cm). INSIDE the car, she is slightly less than 4 feet tall total. This means that the following actions WILL make you bump your head (or butt or hands or feet) on the ceiling unless you are very very slow and careful: climbing over the back seat, straddling someone’s lap, taking off your pants or t-shirt (unless nearly lying down in the seat), and lunging across the front bench seat to attack someone bodily. And you will look graceless doing it. [Ahem, trust me on these, I KNOW.] Additional negative modifiers for Sam due to height.

More below the cut.

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inspired by this video (sfw, but a sex toy is being used as car repair, so take that as you will)

“Laura’s gonna flip,” Derek says in dismay, looking at the huge dent in the driver’s side door of the Camaro. Her most precious possession, the car she’d been saving up for forever, the car she waxes and washes every weekend, the car that she let Derek borrow to go to the Mathletes competition in San Francisco because Derek had a basketball game on Friday and couldn’t make the official school bus, the car that Laura made him swear his life on, is now forever ruined.

“Damn, if there ever was a good place to curse, that would have been it,” Stiles says, crossing his arms and looking far more attractive than he had the right to. “C’mon, Derek. Just say it. Fuck.”

Derek blushes, watching the word tumble out of Stiles’ pink mouth. “No, I… there’s gotta be a way to fix it. But if I call her insurance people she’s gonna know…”

“It’s totally my fault,” Stiles says. “I was the one who wanted to go to Tastee Freeze on the way back, and let some dingbat hit you in the parking lot. Actually, it’s their fault, whoever can’t drive.”

Derek shakes his head. It’s his fault. He’d been having too much fun this weekend; he’d spent practically all of it with Stiles. He’d had a crush on him forever— in fact, joined Mathletes at his request, and the whole year of practice, of spending afternoons with Stiles poring over math problems, watching Stiles lick Cheeto dust off his fingers— it’s been too much. Coupled with the fact that Stiles actually just plain forgot to catch the bus on Friday, and then caught a ride with Derek, meant hours in the car listening to him sing along to Hamilton and muddle through the rap bits, and sleeping next to him in the four-to-a-room motel Saturday night, and waking up with Stiles’ face smashed into his shoulder.

Derek had been too overwhelmed by it all, too overwhelmed by Stiles. Getting the chance to spend time with his friend this weekend had just intensified his feelings, and he knows there’s no chance that Stiles will ever feel the same, so he’s just drinking it all in, savoring these moments when he can.

It had been a terrible parking job, the Camaro was at a weird angle, that’s why the person rounding the turn had hit him. Derek sighs. He guesses it’s for the best. He’ll just have to pay Laura back. For forever.

Stiles is studying the door, eyes narrowed in concentration. “Actually, it’s not that bad. They didn’t even scratch it. It’s just a dent. With the right amount of leverage…”

“I’m sorry, do you happen to have a magical car-door fixer in your overnight bag?”

Somehow, this causes Stiles to turn bright red. “Okay. I have an idea. But you have to promise not to laugh.”

“Okay…?”

Derek watches, perplexed, as Stiles pulls his duffle bag out of the back seat, and then rummages around in it.

“Promise not to laugh,” Stiles repeats.

“I promise.” Derek is confused, but sincere.

Stiles pulls a bright blue dildo out of the bag. It’s springy, and jiggles a little with the movement. There’s a thick vein running along the side, and the base even has… balls.

Derek’s brain short circuits, an image of Stiles, naked, working himself on the girth of the toy, his mouth open, panting, as he tries to get the right angle, skin flushed pink from pleasure…

“Fuck,” Derek says.

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anonymous asked:

Do you have any advice for writing characters undercover? Thanks!

So, we’ve covered this topic a lot in the past. Undercover operatives, intelligence agents, black ops, assassins, and spies I’d start with a spies search on our website, as that’ll get you started. The really good references will be there. My big advice for writing any kind of spy fiction is to have a clear idea of what you want and which genre you’re chasing. Do want James Bond or George Smiley? You can blend these genres, but it’s a good idea to have a clear idea as that’ll define your narrative.

The first thing to understand about spies and any sort of shadow operative is the Burn Notice quote: “A spy is just a criminal with a government paycheck.”

Take a look at this passage. This is a character (Thirteen) trained as an undercover operative exiting a bad situation. What do you see?

Limping down the hall, I forced one foot before the other. Slowly, my stride lengthened. The silver door at the end didn’t open, so I pushed it, and stumbled out onto the launch pad. My gaze fell on a string of oval automatic airstreams parked all in a row. No, I frowned, eyes sweeping to street and the vehicles winging by in the air overhead. No self-respecting AI would let me drive in this condition. Robots always insisted on hospital, and I had no time to hack. To get out fast, I needed a human. A cabbie. Older, preferably female. Fingers to my neck, I tapped twice. Up came the ODS, my thoughts linking to: call a cab. Human.

A string of numbers and faces appeared before my eyes, the oldworld men and women working a dying industry. Better for No Questions Asked rides in our digital world, no one else called when they could pay a corporate run robot for half the cost.

I picked the first female face that flashed across my dash.

Time to pick up… thirty seconds.

I gripped my injured arm, and ran an analysis. Tucked out of sight, Sixteen’s pistol rested against my ribs. Ammunition at less than half a magazine, so seven rounds. Eight, if I counted the one in the chamber. The Uplink already registered the irreparable damage and severed the blood flow to the damaged limb. So, no more bleeding out. My upper lip curled. A bad trade off for no more arm. Damn, Sixteen.

Fifteen seconds.

I couldn’t hide in the shadows. Needed to seem desperate, distraught. Call up tears.

Ten seconds.

My blurred gaze flicked to the skyline, watching for black. The Ghosts wouldn’t appear in the datastream. Still, NIS hadn’t cut my access. Not yet.

Five.

A beat up airstream in ruby red dropped out of the sky to the left, pulling up to the curb. They were early. From the shabby state of their car, probably desperate. Good.

I limped over quickly. Even if they weren’t my ride, they were human and sitting in the driver’s seat. A car enthusiast who needed no AI systems to handle the steering. Likely to have built in cameras. More likely to possess a slow Uplink. Slow data received poor police service. My fingers seized the handle, flung open the door, and threw myself inside.

“Need a ride?” the voice was sympathetic, unfamiliar.

I slid across the bench into the seat behind the driver. My free hand tight on my damaged limb, couldn’t do much about my nose. So, instead, I tilted my head and caught her reflection in the mirror. Younger. Mid-thirties. Red hair worn short with one gray streak, tied back in a severe bun. Clear hazel eyes. Talk like you’re in pain, scared, but putting on a brave face. Tears. I wiped the blood from underneath my nose, sniffling. “Y-y-yeah.” I cleared my throat. “Yeah. Thanks.” I tried for a half-smile, half-grimace, and leaned on the window. “Just looking to get away. The address should be—”

“You don’t need to worry, I have it,” the driver said. “Came in with your order. Grace, right? You want to go downbelow, the Rep Shop.”

“Yeah.” Resting my cheek against the glass, I closed my eyes; Uplink sizing up her car’s systems. Automatic turned off, but easy enough to hijack. My free hand drifted off my injury, and moved near the pistol hilt jabbing my ribs.

“I’m Marla, I’ll be your driver today.” A pause followed. “You sure a pretty girl like you wants the Rep Shop? Not a hospital? You look pretty banged up.”

“No,” I replied. I got what she suggested, this was a nice neighborhood. “I just need… need to go…”

“Boyfriend trouble?”

I grimaced, eyes squeezing shut, and wished I felt a twinge of guilt. It’s like the Overseer always says, love is just a cover.

“Don’t worry, no need to say it,” Marla said as the engine revved, the floorplates shook, and the airstream lifted skyward. “Shipped enough victims out of here to know.”

Notice, she pays attention to her surroundings and makes choices based on her condition in service of her needs. She needs to get out quickly, but would run into more trouble stealing a car so she calls up a cab driven by a human. Human’s are easier to manipulate in short order than code cracking. She specifically aims for a female cab driver, one preferably older than she is.

Why?

She’s female. Another woman is more likely to assume her injuries are because of a man, and a cab driver will have encountered this scenario often enough to not pry too deeply into it. An older woman is likelier to be maternal and protective, but not so protective that she’ll stay beyond when Thirteen needs her too. However, pay attention to the fact that Thirteen never verbally confirms it was a man who caused her injuries. She lets Marla assume, and fill in the blanks herself. This gives her an out later if she needs to change her story and place the blame on Marla’s shoulders for misunderstanding.

This is an example of what’s called social engineering. Deliberately manipulating the people in your environment to divulge confidential information or getting them to do what you want.

Notice also: After getting into the vehicle, Thirteen’s hand goes to the gun she stole. As she is playing to Marla’s sympathies, she is also assessing the possibility of killing this woman and taking control of the car if things don’t go the way she’s planned. Thirteen would prefer to exit by the easiest means possible, but a good spy always has a contingency. She won’t compromise her safety, and civilian lives mean next to nothing. A dead body is one more problem to deal with, one more attention getter that she doesn’t want, but she’ll go there. Violence is messy, and sometimes necessary.

There’s no real difference between a spy and a conman. Still, if you want to trick people there’s a few rules to follow.

What a spy isn’t:

A compulsive liar, an overseller, or lies all the time. An undercover operative needs to maintain their identity, that is one identity, singular. While a spy can create many false personalities, they should only be using one at a time with the goal of giving away as little information in trade as possible.

Notice: Thirteen does not tell Marla a story, she lets Marla create the story and then plays along. It is easier to convince someone of a lie when they’ll craft it themselves. Why say something when you can get just as much by saying nothing at all?

“You’ve told her three lies. Suppose she’s an asset, now you have to make all three lies true.” - Spy Game

Your character can’t just lie, a liar will be caught after a prolonged period of time. They need to manipulate the truth by creating a fiction. A cover is a fictional person with a fictional job who people think really exists when they check the character’s identity. Assume their identity will be checked, re-checked, and checked again. They are not maintaining a cover to a singular individual, but multiple ones. Their assets are the locals they are manipulating in order gain access to information, and who often run the jobs for them. These assets will, most of the time, not know the truth or not know the whole truth about who the spy really is.

Assets can be friends, business associates, girlfriends/boyfriends, wives/husbands, disgruntled employees, janitors, etc.

Your character can’t enter a business or government agency as a pretend janitor if they’re also going there everyday as a reporter or contractor or some other job. They must maintain the fiction of their identity.

This is the biggest problem most authors will get into when writing spy fiction. The concept of telling lies is something that comes easily to most of us, the problem comes in with keeping up a fiction over a prolonged period of time. The next step is to be able to lie without guilt and throw over people who help you without remorse. Crafting that dual identity of a person who genuinely cares about their friends and allies versus the real one who… really doesn’t.

You need a solid grasp of social functions, mores, and conventions in order to write a spy because a spy is manipulating all those points to gain access. You also need to understand these rules change based on what society your character is entering. Social rules change based on social groups, be it economic or cultural. The expectations for a man or woman in Mexico City versus Seattle are vast, and your character needs to be versed in the world they’re walking into. They need a cover identity to suit their work. Someone who has the freedom to go many places without being questioned, but unimportant enough to be neither needed nor remembered.

A spy is always looking for a way in, to slide into your confidences or sympathies however they can. They are going to use you to get where they need to go. They are very convincing actors and they are changing, modifying themselves slightly for each person they encounter. Not so much though that their falseness becomes obvious to the other people who know them.

When we’re working with a female spy, for example, all the “bad woman” societal traits you’re inclined to throw away are exactly what she needs to succeed. She will flirt, and flatter, and seduce, and manipulate the men (and women) around her to gain entry. She may rotate between being a gorgeous woman and an unremarkable one by the use of fashion and makeup. She is exactly what so many men are afraid of, a social climber who is manipulating their feelings and her attractiveness in order to get what she wants because it is the most expedient method to get what she needs. The one who is manipulating society’s view of women as nonentities, nonthreatening/replaceable objects in order to do her job.

Don’t be afraid of these characters. Don’t be afraid of “unlikeable” characters.

Spies are bad people who do bad things. They are often cold, calculating, impersonal manipulators looking for the most expedient method to get what they need. Your spy’s cover is just a cover. Never forget the real person underneath, especially when they’re lying to themselves.

-Michi

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I love being a car enthusiast. People will always wonder why I dump so much money into my cars, it’s because they are what make me happy, I’m spending my money and time on something I can show for. Something I can hold onto and admire, my passion. I could care less if it’s actually worth it in the end, because it’s worth everything to me. We all have something to turn to when were down, this is my getaway. This is my drug.