Part 1 [8/5/12]
So. Here is how it goes.
The longest track in this whole tournament is an endurance test. The organisers knew how long the track was, but that still didn't stop them from putting the ten lap limit on it. So as it stood, we, the competitors who had made it this far in terms of points, had this final race to complete for tournament victory. It took thirty points in four races to be able to go onto the main last race. By the time of the fourth race, about five groups had taken part in the three other races. They were awaiting their turn on the track. The whole tournament ran all year. However, you can only enter at one point in the year, every year, for as long as your contract holds.
My name is Cobri Da'mine, and I am a racer of the Zincite Storm Cup.
As he says this dialogue, a laugh sounds behind him.
"Making a documentary on your losing career?" he says. The man, minus his helmet which is clipped to his belt, is wearing a red racing suit, and black socks. The man has brown scruffy hair and sharp blue eyes.
"Cut it," Cobri says. The cameraman stops filming. "What do you want, now?"
"To wish you luck, in even catching me." The red-suited man laughs again and starts walking away.
"Hey!" the cameraman shouts. "This is a documentary about the tournament. Have you got something to say?"
"Yes, actually. Da'mine here is a slow racer. How many points was it you got through with?"
"It was thirty-two," Cobri growls. "And I don't know what group you was in, Dane, but they must have been slow for you to have got full points again."
"Hey, I got through fair and square, and it was a tough ride."
"Hey! Hey! Hey!" another voice shouts. A man is walking towards the three. "Stop berating each other. Save it for the track."
For reasons unknown, this man was named Manic Max, and he was a commentator for the Zincite Storm Cup. It was said he was a legendary racer on the tournament himself, but he hadn't raced for some time.
"Oh, we was just having a nice chat about who's going to win," Dane says. His full name was Adam Dane, and he had a cocky voice that could wind up anyone.
"Race begins in ten minutes. Get to the pit lane and get to your vehicles. I suppose you are a cameraman for that new advertising program?"
Cobri never hears the answer the cameraman gave, as he made a quick exit from the scene. Unfortunately, Adam Dane had also headed to the pits, following annoyingly close to start the argument again. Cobri quickly turns left into the inside access for racers. He didn't want his focus ruined. Thankfully, Dane didn't follow.
In the pit space reserved for him, Cobri's car has already been finished for checks by his crew. A light blue, it curves smoothly.
"Good luck," one of his crew says.
Cobri gets inside and starts the engine up. A short lap track is supplied for tyre warming, and to get to the line.
"Welcome!" Max greets the racers from the commentators podium. "And let the race begin."
The klaxon sounds, and eight racers speed off the line for the first lap.
Part 2 [12/5/12]
So eight racers blast from the start line. My car vibrates slightly as wheelspin starts up. Letting go of the throttle a bit, the spin stops and I head into the first corner at a fast pace. The whole track is called Gamma Circuit, with the first section called Gamma Wave. A slight sharp left turn almost one hundred and eighty degrees, then into a wide right turn ninety degrees. After a long straight and a wide left turn, the second section comes into view. That section, called Hunger Bites, has a fairly sharp one hundred and eighty degree left turn into a sharp right turn at ninety degrees. It then leads to a forty-five degree turn left and a sharp right ninety. Then the track goes to a third section called Indy Powers, which takes a left turn ninety degrees and a very wide one hundred and eighty right turn. A sharper one hundred and eighty degree left turn follows and a sharper one hundred and eighty degree right follows that. After a short straight an eighty degree right turn with the same sharpness as the one before it follows. The forth section, called Blade Pass, follows the course of a knife. It-
As Cobri Da'mine is about to explain the forth section, the red car belonging to Adam Dane cuts him up, and he is forced to slow down greatly. On the straight, the other racers quickly overtake with their speed. Cobri, angry at having been slowed, quickly speeds up again and enters the second section. The car that Cobri uses is a custom interface model which he customised himself so it would have massive acceleration and good brakes. The downside was that he didn't have enough points for speed. He knew that Dane had bought a Speed model car, one that had massive speed and balanced everything else.
Overtaking seventh and sixth on the long curve of the beginning of the third section, Cobri quickly catches fifth, forth and third. On the first turn into the Indy Speedway-like track, Cobri overtakes them. He can see the red car of Dane entering the Blade Pass section. On the short straight, Cobri overtakes second place to take the position himself. Slowing down, he takes the eighty degree right turn then turns into a left one hundred and eighty corner that starts sharp but gets wider. A very wide and long right turn then follows, getting sharp as is gets to the knife point. A ninety degree right turn, edged like a square corner, then follows and a complete straight road for the length of the knife. That straight then leads into the fifth section Skydive Mountain. This follows the first part of the Indy Powers section, right the the very beginning point, exactly parallel, then turns twenty degrees left and after a short straight, makes a thirty degree turn left. After that short straight, a one hundred degree turn right forms the other side of the mountain. That same turn is then repeated. A wide one hundred and eighty degree turn right, and parallel to the beginning turn of the second section means that Cobri is now right behind Dane.
Dane realises this, but Cobri cannot catch up, as another straight follows, this one quite long, as the two racers head into the final section Jump Twists.
The other racers are catching up, each with their own stats on their car, overtaking and gambling at will. A forty five degree turn right with a short straight and then a forty five degree turn left puts the racers onto Jump Twists. Cobri, however good his acceleration, didn't have enough speed to cope with the straights. Two racers overtook him.
On the next turn, he decided he'd overtake them back and make sure they couldn't ruin his entire day on the most tricky part of the course.
Part 3 [16/5/12]
Cobri retakes second position just as the first of the two jumps comes up. The track makes almost a full turn in a circle clockwise before straightening out to allow speed to be built up for the jump.
Cobri made it through the turn to build up speed as he enters the jump, but fails that and falls on the part of the track he had just left. Now he was sixth again. Trying again, he makes it over the jump. But now he starts getting nervous.
That first jump isn't a problem. It hardly covers any track, although there is less chance of building up speed due to the shorter straight of the two jumps. When you get over that jump though, the next jump leaves you in a wreck if you fail it. Not because you crash to your doom, but because it goes over the first straight, meaning you have to redo all of the track to get to the point you was at. That is why if you fail the first jump, you get nervous because you know that if you fail the second you've lost the entire race. Simple as.
Cobri looks down on the screen that tracks other racers and their positions, and notes that someone had failed the jump. That put even more nerves on him. Speeding up, he pulls around the corner, which is one hundred and ten right, and keeps his left foot firmly planted on the acceleration pedal. Sweat builds on his face and starts trickling down his left cheek, but he refuses to take a hand off the steering wheel in case something goes wrong and he ends up the second failure on the jump.
And if he did fail, Adam Dane would never let him hear the end of it.
At the podium, Manic Max announces the racers moving onto the second lap. "That's Adam Dane, the first position racer. Full points again during this tournament. If only someone could beat him sometime soon, but it doesn't look likely this time around."
"And that's Falis De'jaris off the second jump, failing and falling," the second announcer, Sam Cubrock, announces. "With a useless amount of airtime, she really needs to get that speed going."
"Yes, but it's not going to help her now, because that's a definite last."
"Oh well. But wait. Cobri Da'mine is coming up on the second jump. He's not going to make it. Wait, hold up. He has. His speed means he continues on and speeds around the final turns to make nine laps left."
"And after that first jump failure too. Good thing he knows what he''s doing."
The crowd is thunderous in cheering as Cobri Da'mine speeds over the line to start his second lap. That cheering continues as another racer is sighted. The racer in last position pulls into the pits. The car is dragging on one of its wheels. The tyre has blown. Smoke can be seen, even at this distance from the entry to the pits, coming from that wheel.
Further up the track, at the exit, an accident almost happens between the seventh position and another racer who had pitted. The collision was avoided, but both racers had slowed right down as they entered the first turn.
Part 4 [20/5/12]
So. Racing has its dangers. Everyone knows that. It also needs skill, and to know the stats of your car so you can use it to effectiveness. For me, straights aren't the best thing in the world. But in the corners I can pull away from other drivers as quickly as possible. Adam Dane relies too much on his speed. As such, he has lost that skill to dodge and weave effectively. I know, and so does he, that if he is forced into a crowd, he won't be able to compensate with a new tactic of driving. He's spent too much time on the racetrack in the fast lane.
Since he has always been way ahead, and looking at the map on the screen I can see he is indeed way ahead, to be at the back trying to get to first will result in him crashing.
Sometimes, a slow pace is the best way to win.
Cobri heads into the corner as fast as he can, breaking as late as he could, then using the immense acceleration of his car to overtake a pack of racers. On the straight that follows, he looks down and sees he is second. Only Dane to catch up.
Using the skill of accelerating out of corners quickly, Cobri keeps the other racers away, and catches Dane up. A few seconds behind.
Dane's car increases speed as it gets to a straight, but a slight zig-zag section and he doesn't compensate quickly enough. Slightly below half stability at high speed stat points, and no amount of grip on the tyres stopped the spin of Dane's car. It flew into the run off and hit a barrier. The car looked undamaged.
Cobri realises what that meant. And on the second lap too.
I'm going to win once and for all.
"Ouch. That's got to hurt," Sam shouts into the mic.
"Just as he was winning as well," Manic Max guffaws. "We know what we say to people like that, even pros."
The crowd screams "Better luck next time!"
"And the underground passages are opening up to allow the rescue teams access across the jumps," Max informs.
Yellow trucks are seen following the track in the other direction.
"Hey. I always forget," Sam says. "Do the cars get access to the underground passages?"
"Yes. The raised road lowers to the connecting underground road, so that is the only way they can go. Lights around that area, for both jumps, announces to both racers and rescue teams if anyone is in the tunnels. It is very secure, unless someone ignores the lights."
Cobri slows down near the second jump. He had just passed lights on red, which meant the tunnel was being used. Pulling over to one side and stopping, he hoped the other racers wouldn't catch up just yet.
As soon as the two yellow trucks pulled out of the tunnel, Cobri puts his car through a burst of acceleration and gets through the tunnel, looking down on the map to see where the others were.
Blocked at the first jump.
Part 5 [24/5/12]
"And Cobri Da'mine is first as he goes into the third lap," Manic Max says.
"Everyone else is having a battle at the second tunnel pass," Sam Cubrock comments. "And also, it looks like the emergency teams were called out for no reason."
"Why would you say that, Sam?"
"Well look on the tracking map and see."
The tracking map allows for any vehicle on the racetrack to be located instantly. Red dots are the emergency vehicles with the racers being blue dots. Where the emergency vehicles were, no blue dot indicated Adam Dane. His dot was just passing the first jump.
"What state must that car be in?" Manic Max asks.
"Well at that speed I'm surprised he survived."
The other racers speed across the line and the crowd cheers wildly. Then Adam Dane's car appears, and it is neither damaged or dust stained. It looked exactly like it had off the line.
"That has go to be one lucky racer."
Adam Dane's car speeds across the line and everyone is on their third lap.
So you might say winning is easy. It's not. It takes skill and it takes the chancing ability to take opportunities when they arrive. For me, that opportunity came when Adam Dane crashed, supposedly. What I didn't expect was, when I come onto the second corner after the first long straight, he had survived the crash, somehow got around the other racers and came back to me. But in his eagerness to catch me up, he had forgot about his braking issue again.
He crashed again. Like I said, he's not used to being second, and if he is, the only way he can answer that is raw power and speed. Sometimes I wonder if he has a problem.
Cobri used his acceleration well in getting around the next few corners, making sure to keep an eye on the tracking map. The other racers had caught Adam Dane up, but before they could overtake, he was off again. By the time Cobri reached Skydive Mountain, Adam Dane was halfway through Blade Pass. That speed of Adam Dane's would get him to Cobri within a minute or two. And at the straights, that was a bad thing.
But in the corners...
Cobri maxes out his speed, not even bothered that he has reached the red area and the engine could implode from the strain. At the end of the straight, Cobri quickly broke all speed and slowly went around the corner to make sure the engine had a bit of a rest. He then added speed back to make sure he stayed away from Dane. Heading around the almost circle to the first jump, Cobri notices that the temperature of his engine is slowly rising again.
He activates the link to his pit crew. "Do you know how to stop this engine temp from rising?" he asks.
"Head into the pit but don't pull in. Keep at fourty-five percent speed all the way."
"Okay, got it. Is that meant to do something though?"
"A bout in the pits at constant speed should keep it from overloading until we can get you in proper."
Cobri has cleared both jumps and changes speed as he enters the pits, looking at the map at where Dane was.
If he was to keep first place, it would be a close shave. And it wouldn't last.
Part 6 [28/5/12]
At fourty-five percent speed, Cobri was out of the pits by the time Adam Dane had crossed the line. That distance didn't last long though, as the first corner heralded Dane getting close enough to try an overtake. But instead he settles behind Cobri instead. At the first straight, he overtakes.
Cobri, watching as Dane speeds down the first straight, knows he will never overtake again unless another mistake of Dane's part happens. That is unlikely however, since he is now back in his element.
"Save your engines power," one of his techs says.
"What now?" Cobri is in no mood for such breakdowns. Looking at the map, the other racers had just passed the line.
"Well, we don't know what is up with that engine, but we need an analysis. Your choice. Burn out, call in a favour from the emergency teams or spare your engine."
"But I'll be last!" Cobri is flabbergasted at this. He was second. The best he had ever got in one of these events. But even so-
"Either way, you're last. If your engines blows though, you won't have placed anywhere and won't get any money."
Cobri sighs. He knows this is true.
Keeping the engine down below sixty percent speed, Cobri watches as, at different points of the track, everyone but the person who failed the jump overtook him.
Pulling into the pits again, the crew instantly get him out of the car and insert probes and wires into the access ports. Cobri watches on the map as the other racers get another lap over him.
Diagnostics are run on the car and soon the techs say that the overheat problem has been fixed. Cobri quickly gets in the car, straps himself in, and pulls away.
"Cobri Da'mine is sure to be losing now," Manic Max says as Adam Dane passes the line for the start of lap five.
"And the other racers have passed the line too," Sam Cubrock informs.
"Wait. Cobri is coming out of the pits!" The crowds cheer. "And not a moment to soon. But now he really needs skill to get him back into a fighting position."
"True indeed. And looking at the map, it looks like Cobri might have some tricks up his sleeve."
So, barreling along down the straights, with the engine pumping cool water and the generator charged full, I could give as much as I wanted. But even so, ninety percent speed in a car with that stat set as 10 is a very fast thing indeed. That is the same as me getting this thing off the percent scale by a massive amount if I want to keep up with him. Only the fact he has to break earlier than me and can't get up to his full speed as fast as me gives a fair chance to us with lower speed stats.
Racing is the best, but I need to concentrate to get anywhere close to him again. And that means gaining that lap back. But there is one good thing I can take from this. I might have lost this race, but if I keep my cool, I can beat Falis De'jaris and get a fair share of the money instead of the bare minimum. And with a bit of luck, everyone else will have to pull into the pits during this lap or next, giving me an extra advantage.
Part 7 [1/6/12]
Using every ounce of skill that Cobri could muster, he soon overlaps everyone and hunts them down, since he is now on the same lap as them. Looking at the tracker map, Cobri sees that three racers have pulled into the pits. Adam Dane, however, still stays out on the track and still stays way ahead of the pack.
Cobri puts his car through a massive speed run, even on the turns. Through this, he manages to get to the other racers. But they, too, are desperate to beat Dane. Every racer overtakes at opportune moments, then loses that lead as another takes advantage of one of their weaknesses.
On the straights, those with the best speed manage to get away, but then fall back to the pack during the turns. Cobri has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Not wanting to challenge everyone at the jumps, he makes sure he slows down enough to stay near them but not too near. Then he keeps half of his attention on the tracker map. Just as he predicted, a mass battle isn't a good move on the turning before the first jump. Three of them crash while the other get to the jump. But even then two don't make it, and one crashes against the barrier.
The jump ramps lower to the underground passages, and Cobri puts on a massive burst of speed, making it through the first passage and to the second by the time the emergency vehicles manage to reach them. Cobri zooms around the last two turns and past the line before the last emergency vehicle exits the first passage. Now on lap nine, and with no way the other racers will be able to catch up, it was now between him and Adam Dane.
Speed versus acceleration.
"And as the last vehicle is took into the pits, Cobri gets within range of Adam Dane," Sam Cubrock says.
"Now all he has to do overtake or wait for Dane to pull into the pits," Manic Max says.
"Like that's ever going to happen."
"Still, every racer needs to look after his car. And Dane's engine must be reaching its overheat limit."
"Hold up. We're getting a communication from Dane."
A crackle sounds, and then Dane's voice emerges loud and clear. "Hey! I can hold my own against you Max. In fact, I'd like to see you race again sometime. So I can beat you."
"Well. Really." Max is a fluster. Opening a communication to Dane he says "I could race again, but I'd need to get a new car."
"Coward." Dane's voice is nothing but cocky.
"How dare you!"
"Okay. Okay. Break it up," Sam says. "This is no time to get into an argument."
"Fine." Dane's link then closes.
"Excuse me," Max says, and leaves the commentary box.
Part 8 [5/6/12]
I heard what Dane had said to Max. We all did.
The fact he is cocky is enough, but to enrage one of the announcers? That's going too far. If I can beat him now, I can show him that being a hot shot doesn't count for everything. But with him so far out, the only way I can do that is if his engine does overheat. That will give me the advantage I sorely need. Dane however, will sense the need to slow down. He knows he will win. That gives me an advantage.
Cobri races as fast as he can, and over the course of the remaining of lap nine, stays at seventy percent speed, even in the corners. In sight on the last main straight, Dane is slowing down.
He's overheated! Cobri thinks ecstatically. This is great news!
Accelerating some more, Cobri overtakes Dane. But as soon as he does, Dane is back in motion.
With Dane now not bothering to even consider overtaking him, Cobri tries slowing down. Dane stops him by slamming into his rear end.
Accelerating again, Cobri decides enough is enough, and speeds off. But Dane matches his pace, and on the first jump, Dane is slammed into Cobri's car and lands just short of the landing.
Stuck on the barrier! Yes!
Cobri rushes away, looking in his rear viewscreen to see Dane out of his car trying to push the barrier down to free his car.
Max had returned to the commentators box and had been swearing so many expletives at Dane that the microphone had been turned off.
When he had noticed that Dane was stuck however, he had stopped swearing and activated the mic talking so fast no-one could understand him.
"Slow down," Sam says.
"I was saying that it is good that Dane has got stuck on the barrier because it means Cobri can finally win once and for all and show that-"
Max then launches into another stream of expletives that Sam reaches over and turns the microphone off again.
Part 9 [9/6/12]
Cobri has made good ground while Dane was stuck on the barrier, but Dane was now free, as Cobri could see from the tracker, and was bearing down on him. Since this was the last lap, Cobri was more frequently checking the tracker for Dane.
But as he did this, his speed would drop, just slightly, but it was still enough to allow Dane a bit of an advantage.
Fed up with this, his crew had got on the link to him.
"Do you want Dane to win? Stop checking the tracker and start doing some real racing!"
"What do you think I've been doing?" Cobri shouts down his mic. At the same time, his speed slowly increases.
"Well let's look at the race so far. You've overheated your engine, lost first position twice and been in last place for a full two laps."
"Second to last!"
"Whatever. Dane's gaining, and if you want him to win, keep as you are. But if you want to win - speed up!"
"Thanks for the advice," Cobri bitterly injects.
He then turns his full attention back to the road to break quickly into a corner. But as he turns, he sees that Dane has indeed caught him up. He is only a few metres behind.
"Great," Cobri quietly says.
He speeds around the next corner of the track, and then the next. He knows Blade Pass is up next, and realises that Dane will overtake. And so Cobri makes sure he won't be able to by extending his speed to eighty percent and again into the overheat zone.
But that would hardly matter if he won. The money would pay for a new car and he would be racing the big circuits again in no time. And he would have also put a dent in Dane's confidence at winning.
He would also prove that speed wasn't everything, although Dane probably would have said it still was.
Through the rest of the track, Dane inches ever closer, but never overtaking. Over the two jumps, there is no incidents as the two racers speed to the finish on the last few corners.
And then, on the last corner, with the finish oh-so-close, Cobri's engine finally overheats and Dane crashes right into him. Through the confusion of the event, no-one knows what happens, but when the two finally come to a stop, both are over the line and all the other racers slow before the line, pulling into single file.
Part 10 [14/6/12]
"Well, that was spectacular," Manic Max says. "But we don't even know who won in that crash."
"All we can do is wait for the deadline cam to be viewed and analysed so we know who won," Sam Cubrock informs. "But what Cobri needs more than anything is a new engine for that car of his."
"But by the looks of it, Dane needs a completely new car!" Max is laughing so hard he falls off his chair.
Sam coughs, and looks a little embarrassed. "What if any are hurt?"
Max gains enough composure to sit back in his chair, but still is shaking with laughter. When he controls it, he says "No disrespect for Dane, but if he is, it will give the other racers a chance to finally beat him."
"And if he needs a new car, they might have a chance as well. But we can give you who came third onwards, and so-"
"That can wait until we know who is first," Max says in a bit of a rush.
Down on the track, Cobri is the first to get out of his car. Through the passenger side, since the main door was permanently locked. He then walks around his car inspecting it.
"Ha. Hack. Ha." Dane had managed to get out of his car as well, and rather than inspect it, had come to bully Cobri.
"What are you on about?" Cobri says, not meeting Dane's eyes. "You're the one with the bust up car."
"Yes, but at least I can buy a new one with the winnings from coming first."
"You assume too much."
"I know I'll win."
"And now we can announce the winner of this unfortunate circumstance," a voice calls over loudspeakers. "The winner of this final race is...
The crowd erupts in thunderous applause.
Dane smiles wickedly at Cobri.
Cobri just stares at the floor.
And so that is that.
All that effort, all the time keeping my engine from overheating, and it isn't enough. I didn't win. I guess I never was meant to. Not this time.
Racing is one of the sole competitions in which you have to be aware of all of your surroundings. That one sport where the tiniest mistake can be the fatalist. Crashing, or just swerving to avoid a crash, can be the difference between winning and coming second, which in effect also is losing.
Anyway, time to get my winnings and get this car repaired.
Then, it's time to get ready for next year's event.