After weeks of exhausting trainings and many sleepless nights she is finally prepared for the race. Under the guidance of Lenny she not only succeeds to win but also is able to broke a record.
Lenny and his girlfriend - Tina arrive on a planet where different vehicles are used for racing in high-stake competitions. Lenny want to join them and to test his level. He always teaches his companions how to race honorably and to win with talent and passion. Misfortune cause Lenny to miss the competition and he is replaced by Tina. Tina is not very comfortable with the change. She knew that this races are not legal and most of the racers use dangerous traps. Even that the vehicles are driven remotely like virtual reality, the crash could cause brain damage.
Vulkan Maximus was very much like earth in many ways, however there were many more differences than similarities. The temperature range was extreme, the gravity lighter, and ecosystems that don’t seem to go together were now sitting side by side. There was not much built yet on this strange world and it all seemed to be made to service one thing…racing. Though the colonial government outlawed the races, the criminal underground put billions of credits in to each race and they went on nonetheless. Lenny and Tina had come to Vulkan to race, seeking a challenge that could be found nowhere else in the system. The extreme terrain, the secretive nature of the races, the devious traps by the unscrupulous individuals all made the event the culmination of reflex and racing skill. Unlike the races of old, these races were done remotely, the vehicles moving at speeds no human could withstand, the gravitational forces on a turn alone strong enough to liquify a human’s body. It was done with remote, a driver piloting a car from a nearby location through a high tech neural link. However, there was also danger ever-present, as if one of the cars crashed while controlling it, there was a chance of irreparable brain damage. This was precisely what happened to Lenny on the first week of training. He was controlling one of the cars, when a geological event caused the track to warp. His car went off the road at four hundred miles per hour and skidded into rough plains. Though he was able to salvage the car, the damage to it took a toll on him. The brain damage was minor but he could not drive for very long before debilitating headaches would take over. He was confident that he could overcome this obstacle in time…but for now…he could not race. Lenny and Tina were a team, called AstralPuma. Tina had at first trained to be the backup but after the accident it was decided that she would run the race. She was at first not keen on this idea but Lenny insisted that he would train her and when the race day came…she would be ready. Tina rode along the vast desert, in control of the remote car she called Volt. She knew that she was not in the car, instead on a bench back in control…however it felt like she was indeed inside, she could almost feel the wind whip through her hair. She was not yet at top speed, she was in an area that was a little uncertain. Wild animals and random geothermic vents filled the area and it was a place where one became unlucky very fast if they were not careful. She wasn't sure how close she was to town, the small trading post that served as both the finish line and the base of operations. She knew she would reach it any time and began to grow excited. It had been some very long hours in the weeks of training and she wanted rest. Though her body was technically not doing anything, she could still feel the strain upon herself. When your mind grew tired…so did your body. The races were twenty-four hours long and this training run was closing in on that. As the terrain rushed past her, she caught sight of another vehicle far to her right. They rode a red car that stuck out on the horizon. She knew it was Nick, the pilot of team SpaceBros. He was a good race pilot and a nice enough guy, but a bit overconfident. The other car came closer, pacing her...not in a threatening way, more of a challenge. “You want to race do you?” Tina commented to herself as she changed gears to make her vehicle even faster. “This might just be a training run but I wont be beat!” Nick acknowledged the challenge, shooting off and threatening to gain distance ahead of Tina. Tina virtually shifted gears and punched it. She was confident in the cars capabilities but not as much so on her own abilities. She knew she could go faster but part of her kept seeing her boyfriend’s car go off the track and she held back ever so slightly. Nick seemed to also have quite a remarkable vehicle, keeping pace and threatening to move ahead. The pair were about twenty meters apart and the view of the other car was obscured by the sun and the dust that naturally rolled over the open plains. Though it was not the real race, she wanted the win so badly, she wanted to prove to herself that she could do it. The two drivers pushed and pushed, streaking across the landscape in their impromptu racing challenge. Tina felt the speed, the ground and terrain under the vehicle…it was as real to her as if she were indeed in the car. As the race got closer and more heated so did she. Tina saw the town ahead, its water tower and small buildings growing in the distance. She was in the home stretch and she just had to hold on and she would win. However, a steam vent went off, Tina just managing to swerve to miss it. However, her heart was racing and she began to see Lenny’s crash again and again. She instinctively began to slow, wanting to protect herself and the car. As Tina saw Nick gain advantage she felt a wave of disappointment wash over her, it was like a paralyzing wave of shame and she could focus on little else. She saw Nicks car disappear into town as her car slowed even more. She entered the town, moving onto the garage pit area to park and secure the car. She had lost her impromptu challenge but she knew she would have another chance at them...that much was certain. - Tina made it into the town and even after she stowed her vehicle and disconnected she could still feel aftershocks of disappointment for her loss. She went to her small room that she shared with Lenny and laid down. Lenny did not say anything, knowing she was exhausted and needed rest before anything. She slept, but kept reliving the race, her dreams a blur of speed and motion. A few hours later she awoke. She did not know how long she slept but felt much better. She took a moment in her room to clean herself up before going down to the bar in the small hotel she and the other racers were set up on. She found Lenny at the bar, sitting with nick and his brother and navigator, Dave. “Good race earlier.” Tina stated, pretending she was not completely disappointed by the whole this thing. “Thank you.” Nick replied. “Though it seemed like you held back a bit.” “I suppose that I was.” Tina admitted. “I just…have seen what a crash can do to someone.” “No shame in that.” Dave added. “Some people could use a little more care out there.” “You need to be fearless.” Nick offered. “Life is dangerous and the best prizes are worth the risk.” “This was Lenny’s dream.” Tina admitted. “I am just the backup.” “You should just drop out.” A figure said as he walked up to the bar. It was Max, the pilot for team StarViper, the previous champion. Behind him was his partner Danny, who stood with his hands on his hips, enjoying Max’s smug attitude. “Move along Max.” Lenny replied. “We don’t have time for your boasting today.” “Boasting?” Max repeated with a grin. “I did not know that being right was considered as boasting.” “Just because you are the champion doesn’t mean you can condescend the rest of us.” Nick suggested. “The next race is anyone’s game. “We will see.” Max responded. “Who knows what will happen?” “What is that supposed to mean?” Lenny asked. “We both know that there were some suspicious mods to your car and some stuff on the track that happened to work right to your advantage. Are you inferring that there might be more?” “I don’t think I like what you are accusing him of.” Danny said with a sneer. “You are saying he cheated?” “I am saying that this is an illegal sport that we want to eventually get legalized.” Lenny replied. “This will only happen if we all play far and drive with honour.” “Honor.” Max scoffed. “That sounds like a petty excuse for those who do not have the ability to win.” “Call it what you want.” Lenny insisted. “But when my partner wins this race she will do it with honour and you will see it’s power.” “Her?” Max asked as he leaned out and looked at Tina. “She looks like she is better suited popping out kids and sending them to school than racing. This sport is no place for a woman.” “Is that so?” A feminine voice said as a woman and her partner walked through the bar to join the group. She was Arya from team CosmicSpider and with her was her twin brother Sam. “Because I am a woman and I seem to remember being right on you as you crossed the finish line.” “My point exactly.” Max said with a grin. “Second place is still…second place.” “Well I agree with the new guy.” Arya replied. “We will see what will happen tomorrow.” “Tomorrow?” Lenny asked. “They confirmed the race day.” Sam chimed in. “It will stat tomorrow at dusk. The conditions are not perfect, but they are the best were likely to get for a few weeks. You will likely get notice any time.” “Tomorrow is too soon!” Dave commented. “We are not ready.” “We will be.” Nick reassured him. “We can do this.” “Again…no shame in dropping out.” Max said as he turned to walk away. “Better safe than braindead.” Lenny looked to Tina. “You got this right?” Tina looked at him, so many concerns and emotions in her mind. She said nothing, instead walking out of the bar and going for a walk to clear her head. The town was bustling, it seemed that restock ships were arriving from elsewhere on the planet and people seemed to be hard at work to keep the small town going despite how very remote it was. As the herculean effort continued to around her, Max came out of one of the buildings and looked at Tina. “Well if it isn’t my impromptu rival.” Nick said with a smile. “For now, I suppose.” Tina said with a laugh. “I think there will be bigger rivals for us coming up.” “You mean the other teams being aggressive and perhaps cheating?” Nick asked. “Yeah, I don’t really worry much about things like that.” “I understand that the races are not without its challenges.” Tina admitted. “It is like the most dangerous sport in the universe. That is why so many people are against it. I always knew the facts, always knew the dangers…but now that I am here, now that I have seen it head on…it feels different.” “That is because it is real for you now.” Nick commented. “It is easy to look at danger and uncertainty when it is a number on a screen but when you get a taste for it, the reality is much different. Then your mind takes over, making things worse and worse until the fear is worse than the odds. I have always prided myself in dealing with such things.” “Your expertise would be very appreciated.” Tina admitted. “How can you ignore the fear? I feel like it is debilitating.” “You can’t really ignore the fear.” Nick said with a smile. “Fear is something that every one of us has hardwired into our minds and it is not something so easily gotten rid of.” “Then how do you get past it?” Tina asked. “How can you function with all the fear and uncertainty tugging at your concentration.” “You just let yourself be afraid.” Nick replied. “Fighting your fear takes up a lot of effort and at times like racing you cannot afford to waste the effort. You know the worse that will happen and you just say to yourself…yes that is terrifying, but I cannot let it dictate my action…I cannot let it stop me.” “It can’t be that easy.” Tina added. “I always thought giving into fear was letting it win.” “It is not about winning or losing.” Nick replied. “Let me tell you a story about this planet. I was actually born here…in one of the settlements to the south. To get you to understand why I do not let fear take me over I must talk about the people from where I come from. This planet was actually found quite by accident. A massive mining ship that was searching for resource rich asteroid fields stumbled across it. The life of space minors is a harsh one and the idea got set forth that some might try their hands at colonists. Taming this world and making a new life here. There were not many of them from the mining ship that stayed behind. They risked life, safety, and everything on an idea. It has been a challenge and likely will continue to be so. However, those people have rose to it, faced it all and everyone that came after, will remember this time as when humanity showed that it had a lot of strength left and that there is a bright future in front of them. They could easily have given into the fear, give in into the idea that they could falter at any time…however they did not…they just did what had to be done and persevered.” “I cannot begin to imagine the fear of people staying on a new world.” Tina admitted. “So far from help.” “Well they did see the risks and knew all too well the consequences that might come up.” Nick replied. “However, they also saw something else…something that would drive them past the fear.” “And what was that?” Tina asked. “Success.” Nick replied. “For all the risk of death and destruction there was also a chance of success. They saw a potential for a brighter future for themselves and their descendants. Though this world is still very raw in many ways…people like me, the ones that came after have pride in this place and what was built, and continues to be built here. This future…is what was worth facing the fear for.” “But what do I focus on?” Tina asked. “I am no pioneer with a future for humanity to work toward.” “Then what is your dream?” Nick asked. “It is our dream.” Lenny said as he walked up and joined the pair.”
Nick nodded to Lenny then looked back to Tina. “What is it? What is your dream?” “It was my father.” Tina replied. “Racing like this did not originate in this circuit. People like my father used to race vehicles many years ago back on Titan. He had the most advanced vehicle and won many tournaments.” “That was how we met.” Lenny said with a laugh. “She would travel with her father and I was a racer who wanted to become his apprentice. Together we learned the ins and outs of racing, the vehicles, and the technology.” “It was the happiest time of my life.” Tina admitted. “My father, the man I love, the sport that I loved. It was a time that I can never forget.” “What happened?” Nick asked. “You are speaking in the past tense.” “Well the other planets started to get into it.” Tina replied. “The vehicles got faster, the courses longer…as it gained in popularity, it also got more dangerous. My father argued on how the sport was being organized and it eventually led to him quitting. As the sport moved away from him he lost sight of what mattered to him. He eventually passed away a few years back, filled with regret. I don’t regret, I look on the time where we raced together with fondness. I want to have it like that again, make the sport legitimate, the way that my father would have wanted.” “Our dream was born by her father.” Lenny added. “We do it because we loved him and we want to honor him. This sport is something that we saw when we were young and we want to see a future for it.” “Well then there you have it!” Nick replied. “You are afraid…which you should not be ashamed of…but your dream for the future of the sport and your father’s wishes are the thing you persevere for. When fear comes to you and threatens to damper your resolve…just ask yourself. Is the fear stronger than my dreams?” “It isn’t.” Tina said with a smile. “Not even close.” “Then it sounds like you know what to do.” Nick said with a smile. “I must go…my navigator is not so good with fear and I need to alleviate his as well if I can.” “Thank you.” Tina said with a smile. “I will not let fear control me, and when we are neck and neck again…I will not hesitate.” “I look forward to it.” Nick said with a smile before leaving Lenny and Tina to find his partner. Tina admitted she still felt her reservations…but now that she knew how to handle them…they did not feel anywhere near as profound. The morning of the race, the small town was awash in excitement. Though it was an event that had its racers sequestered underground in VR pods it was still an event that had much fanfare. Tina felt pressure, she felt trepidation, however the events from the previous night still galvanized her and she knew that of all the things that could go wrong today, hesitation would not be one of them. She sat in her pod, Lenny hooking up the gear and preparing to turn it on. He looked down at her with pride and a reassuring smile. “Are you ready?” Tina nodded. “I did not think I could ever be truly ready, but you know what…I think I am.” “No matter what happens, we honor your father today.” Lenny replied. “Wherever he is he will be watching.” “I know.” Tina said with a smile. “Let’s do this. Lenny turned on the VR system and Tina felt her body go from the small room to the cockpit of the high-tech vehicle. She was on a starting pitch with the other racers who were all gearing up, ready to go. She went through her checks, now that she was in it was her responsibility to go over the systems of her race vehicle. Once she was set she took a breath, waiting for the countdown to begin. Soon enough, there was a warning sign and she could hear the other vehicles revving their engines. She primed her own, ready to launch out from the gate but not overtax the engines with the initial push. The machine counted down, the green light was given, then all hell broke loose. Close to thirty vehicles shot out like cannonballs, streaking along the landscape in a mass of machine and dust. Tina knew that many mistakes in the races happened at the beginning, trying to gain too much ground to fast and getting sloppy. Tina focused on keeping from colliding against other vehicles and getting a good spot to open things up. Though it was VR controlled, this was a real machine and its engine had limits, rules and they had to be followed. Luckily, she helped build the craft and its engine, there were few who knew their vehicles like her and Lenny and she knew exactly what is could do. Several vehicles collided, causing damage that either forced them to slow down or tossed them from the pitch immediately. Tina managed to avoid all of it while the best racers emerged from the front to duel over long stretches with each other. All of the vehicles were comparatively matched and it was the driver’s skills, the terrain and just a little bit of luck that would prevail this day. Tina focused on the terrain, getting updates from Lenny on conditions and reminding her of things that were ahead. During the race, it was the job of the navigator to monitor everything and keep the pilot up to date on anything that might get in the way. Tina was supposed to be doing this for Lenny, and all though she knew the route well, she was glad that Lenny was there for her, so she did not have to keep it all in her head herself while she focused on the turns. Over the next several hours, little by little the best racers began to pull ahead of the others. It took nearly twenty-four hours to run the race and it was grueling on all involved. Luckily, the VR set up made the racers comfortable and it conserved energy. However, it was easy to grow tired in the mind and Tina had to keep her focus. She had to let her mind do things on reflex when she could be conserving her focus for times where it really needed it. The first several hours of the race it was good to get into position and maintain. There were not too many bug switches in this time, just getting a place and holding on. Soon enough, coming closer to the twenty hour mark the serious racers were at the front and all falling behind. It was Max, Dave, Tina and Arya as expected. They were the veterans, the most skilled, or the wildcards. As everyone fought for places in the back, the four vehicles danced together in tight combat for the top positions. Arya was up front with Max, the pair neck and neck, matching each other in the turns as one sought to find an advantage over the other. Nick and Tina were behind, knowing that they needed to stay weary of the other, but both looking for an opening to charge up to the front. Arya moved back slightly, a turn in the rocks came and she knew that it would open up to her on the right. She prepared to make a sharp turn and push past max. However, as she advanced there was a flash from Max’s vehicle. It only lasted for a second but Arya’s vehicle started to vibrate. Without warning the engine blew out and the vehicle began to spin in place, shredding in place and sending debris flying as it scraped up against the rocks. “Max used some sort of pulse!” Tina shouted to Lenny as she swerved to dodge the wreckage that was Arya’s vehicle as it shot past. Several pieces struck Nick’s vehicle abut did not send it off the track. Tina thought about Arya, if she was able to disconnect fast enough to not be hurt...however she forced that back, that was a question that would have to wait until after the race. “I am submitting to race control.” Lenny told Tina. “Though I doubt they are going to do much.” “How can we beat him if his vehicle is rigged to take ours out?” Tina asked as she kept her distance from Max ahead of her. “I’m damaged.” Nick said, his com breaking in. “I am still good but leaking fuel fast. We can’t let that asshole win.” “What did you have in mind?” Tina asked. “I am all for sticking it to Max.” “I got enough fuel for one last push.” Nick explained. “I am going to go up, force past him and force him to try and get to me with whatever he has. I will fall back before he hits me but that will be your chance to get ahead. You will have no defense so you have to stay ahead. You will need to run the perfect circuit and not give him a chance to catch up.” “Let’s do it.” Tina said in a bold tone. “Let’s take a win to rub in his smug face.” “Affirmatives.” Nick replied. “Here I go.” Nick shot forward, striding close to the rocks and gaining on Max. He inched closer, knowing that he had committed to another part of the turn and it left an opening. It seemed that Max was assuming he sent a message to any that were behind him of the cost of going toe to toe with him. Nick began to gain and Max, as predicted slowed slightly to intercept. Tina threw the controls open, gaining speed for a massive push. As Max powered up his weapon, Nick suddenly fell back, the pulse missing and Tina shooting through. Before Max even had time to react, Tina was a hundred meters ahead and facing nothing but open track. Tina knew that Max was behind her, she knew that he would stop at nothing to take her out if she got a chance. “Lenny.” Tina said calmly. “I installed a camera to the back of the vehicle the other night. Turn it on as well as the flood light. I want him to know that we are recording him and if he has the balls to try and hit me from behind we will have quite a movie of his treachery.” “Done and on.” Lenny replied. “There is no doubt that he knows we are filming him now. If he wants to win he has to do it fairly.” “Good.” Tina replied as she manipulated her controls. “Let us see how good he really is.” With cheating too risky to do, Max was forced to use his skills and try and close the gap between him and Tina. Tina knew that if she lost her position that she would not be able to overtake it. He only chance was to keep Max at a distance where anything he did would be recorded. Tina knew that if she focused behind her too much she would lose sight of things ahead. Though Max was arguably the most dangerous thing with her, it was not safe to underestimate the terrain. There was a series of tight turns and jagged rocks, the precise place where she held back with Nick and lost in the test run. She would have to enter it at top speed, giving herself but fractions of a second to make the turns and maneuvers not to crash onto the stone. Ideally anyone going through would have to go slow, but she knew Max was hot on her tail and this was a time to be bold or give up. She opened up the controls, taking the cavernous terrain at top speed, using her knowledge of it as well as her skills to persevere. Lenny shouted what was coming and she saw the terrain as much in her head as she did with her eyes. May was behind her, gaining slowly, almost within range to take a shot with whatever kind of pulse he was using to disable the other vehicles. She knew that she had but seconds before he could attack her but also knew there was a pinch point. A spot that only one could get through and kick up dirt and obscure anyone right behind. Tina decided to gun it, letting this decide the race and seeing if Max was bold enough to follow her. Just as she shot through, max shot up his retro engines, slowing so he could make another entry point. Tina shot through, narrowly missing another turn and gaining speed toward the finish. She had done it, overcome her rival, overcome her fear and proven herself. She shot toward the finish line, nothing could stop her. “I did it!” Tina shouted. “I am coming in on the finish line.” “Boy did you!” Lenny replied. “Holy cow!” “What do you mean?” Tina asked. “I will tell you later.” Lenny relied. “Bring her in.” Tina flew past the finish line, her vehicle breaking the finish line and slowing to a atop. As she brought it in and locked it into the station the system kicked off and she was aware of the pod she was piloting in. Lenny helped her up, her muscles stiff and jelly. A platform rose and as it opened a massive char could be heard. Tina was the winner and the crowd was ecstatic. “Wow they are excited.” Tina replied. “I suppose it was an upset.” “I don’t think you understand.” Lenny said as the pair began to wave to the cheering crowd. “You did not just win.” “What do you mean?” Tina asked. “You broke the record.” Lenny asked. “You now have a world record in this race…by like over a minute.” “Wow.” Tina replied in shock. “What about Nick any Arya? Are they alright?” “Nick slowed down and his craft was picked up.” Lenny explained. “Arya did an emergency disconnect as the pulse hit but she took a bit of a hit. She should be fine…it was no worse than mine and she should recover.” “That’s a relief.” Tina said with a sigh. “I suppose Max made it?” Lenny laughed. “He clipped a wall trying to get around you. He finished eighth.” “Serves him right.” Tina replied. “Let us see him pay off the judges for cheating without the prize money.” “They are already asking questions.” Lenny replied. “I still can’t believe it.” Tina said as she looked around the crowd that was cheering for her and the other racers. “ We did it.” “We did.” Lenny replied. “Your father would be proud and this is but the first stop to legitimizing the sport. However, let us worry about all that later. This is your first victory and you owe it to yourself to enjoy it as much as possible.” “Oh, I intend to.” Tina said as she embraced Lenny. “Very much so.”