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Thread: Faster Than Angels

  1. #981
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 50.0

    The referenced song title of Part 49 was Drift Away by Junkie XL.

    [FTA|s3_10.0: Part 50.0] Crash Test del Ragno 01

    <22150317-19>

    Friday, March 17th, 2215

    Monte Carlo Nouveau, Monte Carlo, Monaco.

    13:45:27

    "Sometimes the best solution is to not fight fire with water, but fire itself. While I would not stoop that far, I will defend myself the best I can."

    That was Brandon's response to what was the as yet unexplained elephant in the room.

    The practice round for the third 2215 race was under way, the race taking place at Monte Carlo Nouveau. In Angelus' control room, one extra computer was present, which was being used by Brandon. Technically, it could have been classified as a non-standard computing terminal, had the non-standard software been discovered. Every so often, he would plug in bits of data he received from the practice run. However, said data was not from his own craft...

    Brandon was analysing the vast amounts of data gathered from the other teams' crafts, and using it to calculate as accurate a prediction he could on the craft's peak performance, as well as their average race performance.

    "Can you explain to me exactly why you're doing that for?" A technician asked him.

    "I want to see if there's more blatant cheating going on here." He replied. "If there's some massive, or otherwise unexplained gain in some team's performance, I want to know... tch, where is that failure of a team!?"

    More people looked up at him, intrigued by his outburst.

    "Uh... which team is this now?"

    Brandon just looked at them. "Pfft, yeah, they're so remarkable at being unable to qualify for a single race that you've gone and forgotten about them. I'm referring to Gravitesse."

    A raucous laughter followed. Gravitesse was a name that was vaguely familiar to them, as it had popped up in the various participants list, starting from the 2212 inaugural F12000 season. However, no-one had ever seen them actually participate, until one particular qualifying round where the dull grey and cobalt blue craft was seen making its rounds... painfully slowly. It actually seemed like it was going at the equivalent of Rapier in a Phantom race.

    For three whole years, three entire seasons, not once did the team qualify in a single race in any of those seasons. It was a wonder how the team was even staying afloat despite their competitive incompetence. And yet, they were seen in the first two races' qualifying rounds this year, to the exact same levels of success.

    The craft they had used the entire time, the DXG T73, was modified mechanically over the years, but still retained the awful in-house chassis it started out with, seeming to be an ancient chassis despite being developed in-house in 2211. Its design was uninspiring and uninteresting, and, even by 2212 standards, heavily outdated in both design and aerodynamic function.

    There were two good reasons why Brandon couldn't find the craft. The first was fairly simple: It just wasn't participating in the practice round.

    In Gravitesse's pits, a simulator lay. The sim was running the current course in the race's layout, where their two pilots were getting their practice in. It was a loophole in the regulations, which didn't state specifically that the practice run had to be done physically on the circuit.

    With Angelus' allotted time over, and Gareth back in the pits, Brandon announced something they did every year on that day.

    "Alright, St. Patty's Day, let's go."

    "Ah, you're right! But tomorrow's the qualifier."

    "So don't drink as much! We all can't afford to spend tomorrow hungover, but it's still tradition, and it helps boost morale. Come on." He motioned to get Gareth, and everyone else within that room, to follow him out.

    "I... [sigh], fine."

    Unable to find a rebuttal, Gareth walked out after Brandon. The small subgroup of Angelus team members headed out after the long day of testing and pre-preparations for the race to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by moderately consuming alcohol. Yeah, doesn't sound that great, but they did have to be alert enough for the following day's qualifier.

    ------------
    Saturday, March 18th, 2215

    13:10:09

    Thankfully, none of those that celebrated the night before were hungover, having known their duties for the day's qualifying round, and did not drink excessively. All team members were present and accounted for...

    ...except... Brandon. He walked in a bit later than usual.

    "Brandon, you're late. Did you drink too much?" A control tech joked.

    He shook his head. "No... I was responsible about my intake, I always am... unfortunately I did not pay enough attention to the time, nor my tiredness. I simply slept in."

    "Alright, well, qualifying's almost over, we used the data you gathered to help Gareth get a few times in, along with setting up the craft for the track and the obviously horrendous weather."

    As per that day's forecast, the weather was rather not optimal, as their qualifying round had to be taken in a torrential downpour.

    "Good, hopefully the data's good enough. Frankly, this course is a b*tch, and this rain is helping precious little."

    The times were pretty slow in relation, but it was not the fault of the craft. The rain was so bad, visibility was extremely poor. Gareth was piloting on his mental image of the track alone, which was good enough to allow him to make several clean laps. However, they were far slower than his usual dry runs. And just like that, Gareth's usual high-place grid position was taken away from him, having to settle with a mid-pack start.

    ------------
    13:01:39

    Preparing for their qualifying session, a certain girl was stopped in her tracks when the craft she usually piloted had had its appearance changed, now seeing two very non-identical craft.

    "I... I... I-cosa!? My ship... why is my ship different?" (What?)

    Hearing her outburst and general confusion, the man she had befriended, her co-pilot, spoke out.

    "That was my doing. We need all the edge we can get. While Kotova ensured our craft were on a level playing field, I think your prodigal talent can benefit from an upgrade much more than I can."

    "So... now I am unfairly more competitive than you are? Hmmm..."

    She looked to her newly upgraded craft, then back to Leon.

    "...I don't know how to feel about this, but it won't impede my will to race. I'll try it, thanks."

    Several soaking laps later, it was clear that Lucia's talent could only get her so far, the heavy craft only allowing her a 12th place grid position. It was far better off than Leon, who could only manage 18th.

    Tigron, meanwhile, seemed to be having a very good run, their hive-type unit being pushed to its utter limits to essentially brute force their way through the rain. However, they didn't get pole position. That feat went, interestingly, to FEISAR, whose unrivalled handling nabbed them the top grid position, but only just. The gap between the top times was so close, that the second FEISAR pilot was only able to make do with fourth, despite being three-hundredths of a second slower than the lead pilot.

    ------------
    Sunday, March 19th, 2215

    14:51:18

    The final preparations were being made by all teams competing, especially Angelus. The final checks were to tune the craft in just the right way, to maximise their chances of victory.

    Brandon, meanwhile, was looking over the final qualification list. Several notable events had occurred during the qualification. The first was to do with Assegai. Their second craft had suffered a catastrophic failure of its ECU. An investigation was carried out, but the incident was ruled a freak accident, since their lead craft qualified without any issues. The second incident affected Harimau entirely. Both of their craft's thrust systems started to cut in and out intermittently. The second craft failed altogether before the end of the session, but their lead craft was able to get one time in. It was hardly their best, but they had qualified.

    The most notable event, however, was something the team wasn't aware of. Brandon noticed something odd.

    "Wait..."

    Looking outside, he saw an official display, showing, amongst other things, a full list of all 26 qualified pilots, and their respective grid positions...

    26. Tomi Makkinen. Gravitesse.

    "...well, that's new. But where was the proof of their qualification?"

    "Working on it now."

    As the technicians looked into finding any shred of evidence that the Luxembourgish team had actually qualified, the 5 minute warning sounded out.

    "Oh, whatever," Brandon said dismissively, "Just focus on the race now."

    And then, it happened. One by one, the 26 grid positions opened up, and the craft were raised up to the track's surface. Exactly 18 seconds later, the 26th and final craft rose up to the surface. When Brandon saw it, his eyes widened in pure horror, and he made a rather odd noise, before simply yelling out.

    "What the fff... hell is that thing!?"

    Finally, two days later, the second reason why Brandon couldn't find their old, standard DXG T73 was revealed to him. The craft they had brought was not that, but a secret project, perfected by the time the current race weekend came about.

    It looked, terrifyingly to the leader of the Australian team, a Cobalt Blue Tarantula, the titular colour accurately matching the secondary colour's patterns over the grey colour of the real arachnid.

    "What the... th-the f*ck kinda sick joke is this!?"

    The design of the craft was a proper quad-hull craft, with the rear wings of the craft somewhat doubling as two extra rear hulls to complete the look of the tarantula. The front of the craft sported two large headlights, with six smaller ones surrounding it.

    "Now how am I supposed to be observing this race, with that thing popping up at every turn!?"

    "And if they qualify for another race? Just... try and get over it maybe? Or you give the calls to Gareth and we get someone else to observe the race and make the strategies for you?"

    "...I tried the former. Multiple times. I'm 55, and I'm still sh*t-scared of spiders. So I'll trust you lot to make strategies to tell Gareth."

    The crew member just stared at Brandon, then shook his head. "Fine, let's do this."

    It took them another couple of minutes to prepare, by which point the race was just about to start...

    ...after another 17 minutes following a minor farcical disruption.

    3, 2, 1... GO!

    <15:17:28_>
    <monte carlo nouveau: long fwd_>
    <race: lap 01 of 59_>


    ...
    02. KIR311.0.67.297 #67 Natalia Kireyeva Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4
    03. VAL027.1.66.297 #66 "Valkyria" Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4
    ...
    06. WHI353.0.12.894 #12 "Lady White" Qirex LS12 v2.8
    ...
    10. ARD889.0.19.194 #19 Gareth Ardos Angelus AX2.2_r9
    ...
    12. SCA308.0. 7.329 # 7 Lucia Scarlatti Crinale F0-RG08/01792
    ...
    16. SIN959.0.10.576 #10 Sino EG.X EG.FF-201 II
    ...
    18. TUR847.1.13.329 #13 Leon Turner Crinale F0-RG08/01536
    ...
    26. MAK569.0.55.791 #55 Tomi Makkinen Gravitesse DXG/P T74.02

    <tarantula | pendulum_>


    With the rain pouring, the race began. Those with higher thrust outputs shot ahead, some of them even overtaking a couple of the lower placed craft. In the case of Angelus, Gareth swiftly overtook the Icaras it was sitting beside, before the faster craft crept past. Now up to speed, it rounded the first, high-speed corner, and attempted to take the Jennter ahead of it. It was quite a slow effort, but the pink craft had successfully overtaken the slower handling German team.

    "Rockets."

    ...until it was pushed back behind the still tightly-spaced pack.

    In the case of Gravitesse, way back at the end of the grid, the sole qualified craft sailed past the similarly qualified Triakis craft, and seemed to stay there, despite the Australian team having a higher top-end speed. Rounding the first corner, the result was very similar to the mid-pack where Angelus and Icaras were.

    "Plasma."

    BOOM.

    That, along with being shoved violently against the wall from the blast, did not help them in the slightest. Triakis knew they had the combative advantage, and could have used practically anything to re-take their position.

    "Missile."

    Firing straight back, both teams were back to a more level playing field. It was inadvertent, but the two teams started to help each other out. Triakis usually were rather horrible on the curvier circuits, such as Monte Carlo. So was Piranha, yet they were somehow coping surprisingly well, sticking around the mid-pack, behind Angelus.

    By the end of the first lap, Gareth had been able to use his craft to his advantage, and work his way past Icaras.

    "Turbo."

    Gareth just shook his head. "...Yep, could have done with that earlier, but whatever. I can work with this."

    "Turbo."

    The white and azure craft shot ahead past the line, up to the first of the two Jennter craft. The second was two craft ahead, in 6th. Rounding the corner, Gareth took the outside, and slipped past Patrick Rouser.

    "Something something I can't speak German bye." He commented, just as he took 8th from him.

    Naturally, the friendly rivals fought back. Or at least, they tried to.

    "EM Cloak."
    "Missile."


    The missiles shot from the craft towards the Angelus craft in a straight line, the cloak preventing a lock-on. Due to the Cloak's effects, the projectile was skewed off in a different direction around the craft, sending it flying past it, bouncing off the walls before exploding away from them.

    At the very front, Tigron were far ahead, having gotten away from the two FEISAR craft and gaining distance from them, racing in their usual formation. They were 15 seconds ahead, then 16, then 17, all before they knew it. They had the immense speed, and they both knew how to use all of it extremely effectively.

    Angelus were also gaining positions, when Gareth got a rather interesting radio message from Brandon. However, he was stopped in his tracks from a rather odd happening. Was it no real surprise that it was Gravitesse's doing?

    ------------

    The spider-designed craft, by which point Brandon had gotten used to the sight of, was ahead of more craft than was expected, in 18th place, right behind Triakis. The two teams had been going back and forth the whole race, stealing positions from one another. However, despite the surprise of the once infamously uncompetitive team gaining places all of a sudden, they were far back enough that Gareth could see theirs and Triakis' battle ahead of him.

    Just as suddenly, the grey and blue ship made its move. The Gravitesse ship gained and maintained a rather large burst of speed. A turbo, this was not. Gravitesse had gained an inexplicable power increase that was far from befitting their official performance statistics. Easily overtaking the slowly turning tank that was the Triakis craft, they continued forth, pulling away from them at a rather incredible rate, considering the aforementioned tank boasted a very high top-end speed.

    Despite this though, Brandon had felt the need to deliver that somewhat contradictory radio message.

    "Gravtesse aren't a problem, Gareth, Gravitesse are not a problem. You do not need to worry about them, just push on as nor--..."

    Stopped in his tracks at the event that had unfolded before his eyes, he had just completely stopped talking...

    But that event wasn't the craft's permanent burst of speed.

    Several seconds after the burst of speed began, the craft itself began to vibrate. The engines started to make an erratic noise, along with the higher-pitched whine of the overpowered thrusters pushed beyond its limits. That noise only grew louder the further away from Triakis it went. Until...

    <contender eliminated_>

    The craft started slowing down rapidly, while dipping forwards. The engines started making a noise, not too dissimilar to them powering down. However, they made one final noise, the craft burst forth one final time, and the nose raised up almost vertically, the craft entering a very abnormal pirouette, the engines having completely cut out, the craft emitting total silence.

    <air for life | above and beyond with andy moor_>

    Seeing the craft fail so spectacularly, the Triakis craft sideshifted at just the right moment to avoid the spinning craft, passing it before the craft finally crashed to the ground. The sideshift was also in order to place the craft in just the right spot, at the right angle into the corner that immediately followed the scene of Gravitesse's odd elimination. It was a sharp corner, so full airbrakes were applied to the craft, but that was still not enough. The sound of the thrusters dimming could be heard, as if they had lost some power. Simply, the thrusters were dialled back a little, slowing the tri-hulled craft down somewhat in order to make the turn. That last move was successful, the craft successfully rounding the corner as cleanly as the heavy tank could.

    Gareth, meanwhile, was lightly laughing. If he wasn't in control of a near 1000km/h racing craft, he would be absolutely doubling over in loud, raucous laughter.

    "Yep... just as I'd expected from Gravitesse!"

    Unfortunately, the Australian was unable to catch up to the leading Russians, the hive unit propelling them forward at, again, a much faster speed than the official performance statistics suggested. Unlike Gravitesse, though, the K-Bystrota was a far more stable craft than the DXG/P T74 that was the Luxembourgish machine. Gareth was barely able to catch up to the two FEISARs through his greater top speed, but a series of stray mines dropped him further back, the iconic blue and yellow team navigating the subsequent corners at a much faster rate than the white and azure craft could manage.

    "Surprise!"

    "Cannon."

    "Ghh... No."

    "Bomb."

    The Crinale of Lucia Scarlatti got exactly 6 rounds of cannon fire into Gareth's Angelus, before the bomb he fired flew straight into the black and orange pursuer, sending it sideways into the wall. Gareth was aiming to re-catch that FEISAR craft, he wanted no interruptions, no impediments. He also required extreme levels of mental fortitude.

    "Brandon. I need you to shut up for a while. I need to focus."

    "...Zone?" He asked, knowing what Gareth was aiming for.

    "Yeah, Zone."

    "Alright, then. Maintaining radio silence. Go get 'em."

    The final push of the team that race had started. Gareth gradually slipped into his record-winning mindset, focusing on using his strategy to guide him through the corners at as high a speed as the craft could maintain, not just taking the handling for granted. His ultimate aim was to maintain as high a speed as he could, in order to catch up to the marginally slower, yet faster turning FEISAR ahead of him.

    The tactic seemed to be working, the first of the two European craft entering the view of the Australian. But... it was just too late.

    <race complete_>
    <fifth place_>


    "...Yeah, P5, Gareth. It's fine, you tried your best. Better than an elimination, that's for sure. At least we're in the points."
    Last edited by Ace3000; 30th August 2019 at 05:01 AM.

  2. #982
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 51.0

    The referenced album title of Part 50 was Crash Test 01 by Bloom 06.

    [FTA|s3_11.0: Part 51.0] Shadows of the Past

    Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo, Japan.

    "Sometimes, it is not exactly clear who one should trust. If one is in a more common, everyday life, then this problem may not arise as much, but it still is prevalent. In my line of work, however, not even my own clients receive anything that could be called trust. I only provide them the service they require, nothing more."

    ------------
    Day 18.

    08:10:22

    Gelorumfan2182 <gelorumfan2182@gmail.com>
    ███ ██/██/2215 7:04 AM
    You <kr-aan@dkg85.x29.jp>
    Attachment: "3c41e329203d8c653403781961d01ca5.pdf"


    ---Decoded Data: Type A7 Encoding.---
    ngs continue like this, anti-grav racing will become a pre-scripted piece of theatre dedicated to m.

    Some more data for your perusal. You may hate the whole scene, but I have a good idea of what you are plotting. Why else would you come to me of all people in the first place?


    ------------

    The message was brief, but the vast majority of the content was within the single attachment. Immediately, Rei had downloaded the document, and had begun an automated scan for the vital data within it. The heavily fragmented string of text up where the salutation would have usually gone was, in fact, a codephrase, devised by Rei and the Race Overseer in another prior message. The source material was a fragment of a comment made by Natasha Belmondo, the material published on July 5th, 2160.

    The data itself within the attachment, once decoded like the email, and analysed, provided some very promising information, both pre- and post-Cataclysm. The data outlined some rather shady dealings and behind the scenes decisions made by even some very surprising subjects. And one simple section, headlined with a name that seemed to rear it's nasty, disgusting head again.

    Sefaialon.

    "...Fascinating."

    Quite a fair portion of the pre-Cataclysm information he was already aware of, but small details, along with all of the post-Cataclysm data, was well coveted data that was now within his hands. Unfortunately, there was not much, if at all, by way of data pertaining to Erebus. Instantly, he fired a reply to the woman.

    You <kr-aan@dkg85.x29.jp>
    ███ ██/██/2215 8:22 AM
    Gelorumfan2182 <gelorumfan2182@gmail.com>


    ---Encoded Data: Type A7.---
    37564=1

    This information is much appreciated. I believe you may be a great asset in accomplishing both of our goals. Let me know if you require payment for this information, it shall be delivered to you the instant you accept.

    Kurokawa Rei.


    The response came almost immediately.

    "No, it's all good. I'm fine to keep giving you whatever data you need at no extra cost to you."

    Simple, and to the point.

    Now, information brokers, while vastly knowledgeable, were still human, they were limited to only the knowledge they had obtained. That was what Rei was accomplishing. To meet his ends, to look further into the primary organisation he was pursuing, he had to reverse the roles, and seek information himself, rather than be the one to provide it.

    "Hmmm..."

    Loading up an older, but entirely relevant document onto his tech shades, Rei stepped outside to walk around the city, beginning to read it in detail, to connect the dots between it and the most recent piece of evidence.

    "...well, yeah, of course! He's so cool!"

    ...The answer was starting right at his face, he knew there was a connection in this specific document...

    "The way he just screamed past that kid so early on, it was the best!"

    It... what? No, no, the document. The document was very important, analysing it, uninterrupted, in its entirety could finally signal the end of--

    "Gaaaah! I can't wait for Archangel's next battle!"

    ...Damn it. He just couldn't resist, could he? He found himself walking towards the small group of university students.

    "...I don't think he was trying this round."

    "Eh!?" One of the girls spun around to look at the sudden new voice.

    "Ah, great, another one. At least you can fangirl with someone else now, Ichinose."

    The girl called Ichinose bore green dyed hair, which was long at the sides and short at the back, and was sitting underneath a pair of goggles. She was wearing an orange minidress, a long white coat that reaches below her knees, and a set of high heel boots.

    Rei's eyebrow raised.

    "I take it you're not interested in Archangel, then?"

    One of the boys in the small group shook his head. "No, I am interested in Archangel and his battles, but I'm not completely obsessed with him like she is."

    "Hey!"

    "I mean, it is true." Another one spoke up, "It's either the F12000 or Archangel with you."

    "I can't help it if I like them both!" She retorted, before looking back up at the man. "Anyway, what did you mean by Archangel wasn't trying in that race?"

    "Were you there?" He asked. "His car was physically moving slower than in the battle against Kazuya Iwasaki."

    "But he screamed past Kotonami so early on in the race!"

    "Yes. So? Perhaps Tsugumi Kotonami wasn't as quick as Kazuya Iwasaki. In fact, I do know that to be the case."

    The girl looked confused. "You do? How?"

    Rei's face remained unchanging. "It is simple. My occupation. I am an Information Broker. Information, data, such as a racer's performance, it is what I deal in."

    Her eyes went wide with intrigue. "Woah... so do you know him? Does he get this data from you?"

    "While I do know Archangel... he is not one of my clients."

    "I... see. So, uh, could I get your name? If you don't mind?"

    "Rei Kurokawa."

    "Ah, nice to meet you, Rei! I am Riku Ichinose. I'm currently a physics major."

    "Uh... huh."

    Riku then stood up, and began to walk along with her friends, who had started to leave after checking the time.

    "I have some plans with my friends, but hopefully we'll meet again!"

    As she left, the black-clad man was left wondering just what he had gotten himself into, remembering to resume reading the currently loaded document on his shades at the last possible moment.

  3. #983
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 52.0

    The referenced song title of Part 51 was Shadows of Our Past by Daiki Kasho.

    [FTA|s3_12.0: Part 52.0] In the News, Part 1

    <22150320>

    Monday, March 20th, 2215

    "Good evening, and welcome to the sporting news. I'm your host, Natalie Winters.

    "In our bulletin tonight, a surprise appearance in the F12000 race at Monaco, the Anti-Gravity Purity Alliance launch another attack against the F12000 Race Commission, and shock as a runaway gravity-ball severely injures a bystander.

    "But first, our top story. For the first time in their tenure, Gravitesse Anti-Gravité were allowed to participate in an F12000 race, following a qualification round that placed them just on the grid. Unfortunately, their three-year long dream was not to last, as reliability issues soon took effect, and they were forced to be eliminated. Later investigation proved that their elimination was caused by the apparent failure of an engine limiter module. The shell and several critical components were not rated to the power and speed the craft begun to put out, which resulted in the failure and subsequent crash of the craft.

    "After a catastrophic qualification in pouring rain, Angelus was only able to start 10th on the grid, which translated to a 5th place finish for the Australian team. The other Oceanic team, Triakis, was unable to achieve a position better than last place, the worst finish for them thus far."

    ------------

    "In related news, the Anti-Gravity Purity Alliance has once again attacked the Race Commission. The group, created by former teams Auricom and AG Systems, additionally are comprised of Angelus and a few other unknown groups and members. The group hacked more displays at Monaco, as well as launching a new campaign against the commission. They warned that they were, quote, 'acquiring enough evidence to make their claims irrefutable, yet they obtained a lot evidence against them at the current moment.'

    "A large group of independent members staged what was described by the group as an 'unofficial, unauthorised' activist protest. The protest delayed the race start for 17 minutes, before security and race officials apprehended the members of the AGPA. Yet another disruption occurred after the race, where more members, joined by a few who escaped the prior apprehension, interrupted the podium ceremony. They were all unceremoniously rendered unconscious by both Tigron racers, Natalia Kireyeva and the one known only as 'Valkyria', who had finished first and second respectively."

    ------------

    "In local sport, because I love my country, the Supercars Melbourne 400 ended with a clean victory for Andrew Hayes when rival Ashley Douglas retired from the race due to a very unusual and similarly catastrophic systems failure, and the resulting crash that stemmed from it.

    "The race was a very close one, with Ashley keeping up very closely with Andrew, a battle between the two breaking out. After several laps of close, intense racing, the electrics in Ashley's 522kW V8 Sandman Supercar shorted, jamming the throttle wide open and causing a vital component to explode, dislodging one of the hydraulic steering modules. When Ashley tried to turn as the car coasted to a stop from the lack of primary braking power, the module twisted and deformed, while providing very minimal steering. The car ended up slamming into the wall at 152km/h, after the late deployment of the emergency brakes by Douglas.

    "Thankfully, despite the high speed crash, the 3-time Supercars champion walked away from the accident completely unscathed. After the race was over, Ashley was quoted in the post-race interview as being 'completely okay', and will definitely be living to see another race."

    ------------

    "And finally, a shocking event occurred at last week's gravity ball game today, in the match against England and Italy. In the final minutes of the match, Gilberto Sportiello missed the goal, and sent the grav-ball flying into the spectators, hitting one of them in the face. They had to be taken to hospital, where they're currently recovering from their injuries. The match ended in favour of Italy despite that, winning 36 to 32.

    "That was today's sport bulletin, thank you so much for your company! Coming up next is the lottery results... I hope I'll see you tomorrow night~!"

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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 53.1

    [FTA|s3_13.1: Part 53.1] Some Kind of Blue-Green

    Nikko, Tochigi, Japan.

    "A good Information Broker always keeps up to date with their data. Unfortunately, when the only data that exists is out of date or incomplete, then problems may arise from the deductions derived from it, since they would most likely be inaccurate to the reality of the situation."

    ------------
    Day 23.

    10:13:44

    A tiny kei car casually glided down one of Nikko's local mountain passes. Silently, gracefully rounding the corners, as if the brake was never used, only the accelerator being released before every turn. Its driver, noting every square millimetre of the length of road. The manipulator of the wheel, of the pedals before him, imagining he was in a larger, more powerful, and faster car, in the dead of night, with one other car ahead of him. Multiple calculations a second ran through his mind. Braking zones, peak power output, suspension settings...

    ...that was the power of the master strategist, Rei Kurokawa.

    ------------
    10:21:09

    That very same kei car pulled into a parking lot of a small shop, and walked inside to buy some refreshments. As he walked out, there was one certain thing outside, waiting to surprise him.

    "...what!?"

    It was the one car he was imagining mere minutes before.

    The car was Archangel's next battle, his next opponent.

    There was no mistaking it. It was, after all, a much sought-after vehicle, especially due to its rarity.

    It was a 2193 Yamutsu Tempest GTA, painted in a two-tone cyan and black colour.

    It was not enough for the man to walk around the car, taking in every last part of it.

    "...it even has the original optional spoiler... This is amazing."

    "Hey, uh... can I help you?"

    An older looking man was standing a short distance away, looking at Rei take in the finer details of the rare car.

    "Yeah." He replied, not turning around. "This is a very beautiful thing. You wouldn't happen to know owns this rare piece of automotive excellence, do you?"

    "Well... I've been driving it."

    That revelation caused the man to glance up at him.

    "You!? Really?"

    With a push of a button, the car bleeped, its doors unlocking.

    "Since you seem know of the Tempest GTA, let me impart something else to you. This very car is the fastest down the Momiji Line."

    "...I knew of that. What I wasn't aware of was the driver of this machine..."

    He chuckled.

    "...and now I know."

    "Well," The middle-age man forced out. "I must be off, I'm a very busy man, you see."

    Rei nodded.

    "As am I."

    "In that case, let us go our separate ways. Goodbye."

    With a small smile, the man entered the car, and reversed out of the parking space, speeding away.

    "...Goodbye, Nakajima."

    ------------
    12:50:39

    Lunchtime had been going for about 10 minutes. A small group of friends were chatting happily on the rooftop of their school.

    "...I'm a little scared, to be honest." One of them said. A female, judging by their school uniform. "I don't think I've ever been this scared before..."

    "Eeeh?" Another girl spoke out. "I've only seen you be scared about one other thing? What are you scared about this time?"

    The one who was scared look up at the other girl with a slightly bowed head. "You've... seen the next announcement, haven't you? ...Archangel, I mean."

    "No? Why?"

    A quick search of the pseudonymous touge racer's website revealed all

    Next race: Nakajima ???, Yamutsu Tempest GTA【ES53】, Momiji Line, tomorrow @ 2200

    "N-Nakajima!? But that's... you, isn't it?"

    "Yeah, exactly."

    Nakajima turned, and leaned against the chain link fence, looking outwards.

    "That's why I'm scared... the race is tomorrow, and while my name isn't technically on the notice, it is m-... h-h-hold... on... no, wait! Where is it!?"

    Suddenly, terror filled the junior high school-like face of the senior high school student.

    "Where's what?" Yet another friend yelled out, an equal amount of terror in her voice, empathetic of her friend.

    "It... It's gone! My..."

    "...?"

    "...My car... my ES53... it's gone!"

  5. #985
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    Default new Jennter Racing Stories - Part 6

    Arc: NJRS - #006
    Title:
    Aurora Reborn


    The race in Nokav Vertigo was a mix of feelings for the Jennter team. Initially the improved JAG-F12.212/5b craft seemed to outperform its previous iteration. However, a system malfunction caused by a power surge stalled the craft of Aurora again, fortunatly this time without disabling all safety systems.

    Jennter Enterprises HQ, Düsseldorf, Germany
    Tuesday, 20th February 2215
    10:12.44

    Linda and Nico were discussing the next race together with Patrick and Aurora.
    "The craft felt great...until it gave up." reported Aurora her own experience with the new ship.
    Linda looked through a window, avoiding the other faces "This concept works better, no doubt."
    "Our shields are bad enough, but being unreliable is a death sentence in AG racing. Literally." Patrick commented "But I've talked about it with Aurora."
    "It felt great. If you can fix the reliability problem-" Aurora added to that.

    "Shut up, tin can." Linda threw at her without batting an eye "It is only natural that a rushed prototype won't last a race. That's why something spareable had to pilot it."
    Aurora stood in the room in silence. Her facial expression didn't change.
    "Hey! She didn't attack you!" Patrick broke the silence "So why are you having a go at her?"
    Linda turned away from the window to glare at him "I didn't graduate in Gravity Vehicular Engineering to hear a machine complaining at me."
    "I may leave the room, I sense your blood pressure increasing." the android noted, ready to leave.
    "Huh?" came from Nico, almost unnoticed by the others.

    Linda sighed "Whatever, I'll optimise the manufacturing process for the craft. And I'll refine the performance of the test craft."
    The engineer went past Aurora, who ended up staying in the room.

    "Don't think too much about it, Aurora" Nico tried to cheer her up.
    "Unlike...mother, I understand my existence as an object." she merely commented "Linda thinks very high of herself - I think so too about her."
    Nico nodded understandingly "Also, you started to discover the functions of your sensores, it seems."
    "Indeed. Though their purpose seems odd to me." Aurora agreed "Whatever you have in mind, master."

    Saturday, 24th February 2215
    19:44.21

    Aurora had her own room in the Jennter headquaters, as she was seen as the 'child' of the company.
    Someone knocked on her door, it appeared to be physically weak.
    "It's Linda." a voice came through the wood of the slideable door.

    Aurora was surprised, Linda never visited her and mostly ignored her existence. However, she let her in "Door, open."
    "Do you have feelings?" she asked bluntly, sitting down in a chair frontal to the couch Aurora was occupying all the while.
    "I have thoughts. However, my internals are not cramping up when they are complicated for me." she answered.
    "What is your physical composition?" Linda asked next. Her voice was growing in curiousity.
    "For packaging reasons I possess the same phyical performance of a trained male adult." the android explained "I don't have any organs, therefore I don't have to eat food."
    Linda was mustering her "That's some nice packaging then..."
    "Of course I perform better than a woman of my dimensions. But that's more than enough for AG racing."
    Linda frowned "That was...a joke..."
    "Oh, I see!" Aurora was surprised "I did not expect you to joke around with me. So I suppressed my sense for humour."
    "You have that?" Linda was wondering "Anyway, what about your senses?"
    As per order Aurora continued "My eyes are high definition cameras. I can move them individually, but usually don't do that, to not make people feel uncomfortable."
    "You are quite sensible" the engineer commented.
    Aurora smiled "I considered the benefits of staying on good terms with the people I have to work with."
    "Right, so your ears are microphones?" Linda asked next.
    "Indeed. Just plain microphones, they don't mimic the functionality of a human eardrum. Same for my eyes. However, my voice is generated through actual vocal cords."
    "What, how and why?"
    Aurora smiled about it "Simply to make my expressions appear natural. This also allows me to whistle and so on. And I have to drink water regularly, to generate saliva for the proper functionality of my lips. I can even spit!"
    Linda was looking confused at the proud expression Aurora made for this statement, but she stayed curious "So are you also able to taste and smell?"
    "Both yes. My tongue works similar to a human tongue, same for my nose. Master Bovier thought it would be useful if I had these abilities."
    "Yeah, I can see that." Linda nodded "Wait, Bovier developed you then?"
    Aurora shock her head "No, but he worked out my functionality. The actual programming and assembly was carried out by other people working for Jennter."

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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 54.1

    The referenced song title of Part 53.1 was Some Kind of Blue by deadmau5.

    [FTA|s3_14.1: Part 54.1] The Return of the Devil

    <22150331>

    Friday, March 31st, 2215

    Altima VIII, Toronto, Canada.

    14:00:00

    As the practice session got underway at the next location in the 2215 F12000 roster, several simulations were being run throughout the session by all the participants. It was just business as usual, but no-one was able to predict, or simulate, the conditions that befell one particular team.

    As was the norm for 2215, Gareth worked with Angelus' technicians to finalise the craft's settings for the qualifying and race, going out once more after the settings were dialled in to perform some more tests and simulations.

    Back in the control room for the Australian team, Brandon was staring at the screen before him, data being displayed on it. This time, it was only data that was sent back from Gareth's Xygen V.

    Except he was not taking any of the data in, he was looking in the direction of the screen, but he was spacing out, his thoughts running with him...

    A sight of the past... a vague, indeterminate location... the cutest, happiest smile he had ever seen... hair, as bright and vivid as an ocean sunset...

    "Brandon!? What the hell? What's wrong with you today!?"

    Suddenly, he was snapped out of his daydream. He simply turned slowly at the source of the voice, and scowled at the person his eyes laid upon.

    "What?" He flatly asked.

    "Do we have enough data? You've been sorta half staring at it, half spacing out for, like 20 minutes now. Are we good?"

    Brandon simply glanced over the data once more, before standing up.

    "Yeah, it's fine. As usual, I guess. I gotta get some air. Don't get concerned if I don't come back, I might just go back to the hotel."

    And with that, he walked out.

    ------------

    In a certain team's control room, a very special guest had entered, this time sporting vivid purple hair.

    "Technically, I'm supposed to be checking in on all of the teams, but... well, do I really need to say it? You know already, Alli."

    "Just... don't get caught, okay?" The other woman replied, holding her own arm. "I don't want to think about what would happen if Chris finds out about your bias to this team, let alone our relationship."

    "I know, but I'll be fine." Purple haired Catherine reassured Alex. "So! Everything fine?"

    Alex just smirked at her. "Please, you're the Race Overseer, you know how well we're doing today. Should turn out to be a pretty good race."

    "'Should be'? I was sure you'd be saying something more closer to it definitely being a good race... or that you're going to win!"

    She looked a little surprised by that. "I... I guess so... but you never know what will happen during a race."

    "Hmph," She feigned discontent. "Seems like you need a little motivation. Fine, how about this? If you win this race... I'll give you something cool..."

    The grin was met by a stunned silence from the team leader, her mouth slightly agape.

    "..."

    ------------

    "Change of plans, I am racing." Alex commanded Leon, having walked into the pits as he was just stepping out of the craft to continue fine-tuning it.

    "What?"

    Naturally, the second pilot was very shocked.

    "I am sorry, I... I have to do this. She said if I win... Just this one race, I promise."

    "Sure, but why me, though!?"

    "You're number 13."

    "I-- fine."

    A short delay of notifying the stewards, Alex suited up, and slid into the craft. Turning it on, she had her own ECU map loaded on.

    ...loading...
    modifying settings...
    finalising control map...

    GELORUM ACTIVATED.


    As the whine of the craft powering up sounded throughout the pit, the grid started to rise up, sending Alex up onto the track to begin her practice session...

    ------------

    ...by which point Brandon had returned to Angelus' control room.

    "Okay, whatever, I'm back. I cleared my head somewhat. What did I m..."

    He saw the updated pilot list

    "Wait... GEL...? Wh-Ohhh... no... What is she doing racing!? Sh-should... I get out there too?"

    "You can't. We weren't expecting this, we only brought the one craft."

    "Yeah, I know we did."

    The technician looked up at him.

    "Wait, you don't mean...?"

    "I don't know what I mean. I'm not thinking logically. Just... give me a moment."

    Opening his secret application that he used in the previous race, he started taking in data from the Crinale craft and compared it to how it ran prior to the pilot switch, the other craft being piloted by Lucia, and Gareth's own runs.

    "...As I expected, I can't tell if this is all due to the craft being fine-tuned more than Lucia's craft, or if she's still got it. Gareth's good, but he's far from competitive to how Gelorum was back in 2209. I know how good she was back then, she was... scary. All I can do is think about how her ability was back then and in 2198. This data just isn't enough. Is she better than before? Not as good? Just as good? Has she mellowed out in regards to her racing style? Or is she just as scary? I just... don't... know."

  7. #987
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 53.2

    The referenced album title of Part 54.1 was Return of the Space Cowboy by Jamiroquai.

    [FTA|s3_13.2: Part 53.2] Challenge: Response

    Nikko, Tochigi, Japan.

    Day 23.

    12:59:44

    "It... It's gone! My..."

    "...?"

    "...My car... my ES53... it's gone!"

    Immediately, all of Nakajima's friends clambered to the fence, looking out at the blank car space where a cyan and grey compact car should have been.

    However, the high-schooler's outburst wasn't due to the shock of the missing car.

    "...damn it... did he take it again!?"

    "Huh?" One of the other girls asked. "Who took it?"

    "Oh... my dad."

    "Huuuh!? How do you know he took it?"

    Nakajima simply pointed to another car, next to the blank spot. It was a silver two-door, four seat, mid-engined sports car.

    "That's my dad's car."

    Yamutsu was a Japanese car manufacturer that specialised in many different models. A larger, high-riding 5-door SUV in the XU-1, a sports utility in the Iseo, a hardened, mid-engined sports car in the Swan-3, and the compact that was Nakajima's car, the Tempest.

    However, that was not all. There was one more car that was produced by the company. It was two-door, mid-engined, and very sporty, like the Swan-3, yet it was more luxurious. It contained the 366hp, 3.2L V6 Turbo that resided in the Iseo, and retained four full seats. As described by the company, it was a "family supercar".

    Called the 3200R, it was Yamutsu's top of the line model... and the older Nakajima owned one.

    Which was the exact car sitting beside the space where the other Yamutsu should have been.

    A phone emerged from the bag of the Tempest's owner, who begun to call the one who borrowed it.

    "Dad, hi, how are you?"

    "I'm fine, and yourself?"

    "...you took my car."

    "I... it's not like you need it right now."

    "Yeah, but... I need it for Saturday. Like, really, really need!"

    "I know you do. But Saturday is Saturday, this is today, and right now, you're in school. I'll bring it back before you're done today."

    "I... fine."

    ------------
    Day 24.

    10:09:48

    "Dad, I've called my friends over... c-can I... um... can I get you to help me too?"

    The father looked down at his offspring in surprise.

    "No matter what, I will always love you, I will always be proud of you. And you can get my help with anything, so... why the timidness?"

    "Ah, sorry. I thought that... maybe... you wouldn't want to help. I... I want to tune the Tempest."

    The older man just smiled.

    "Who said I wanted nothing to do with that? Come on, you know me more than anyone, I love cars."

    "...you're right, dad. So anyway, my friends know what I want, so I can tell you now--"

    "No turbo?"

    "I-- Yeah, no turbo."

    The small teenager had been very adamant in the past about the intense will to not have a turbo installed into the Tempest GTA, wanting to keep the responsiveness that was more important with a very lightweight car, such as the limited edition compact.

    "Really, anything else. Intake upgrades, ECU timing, stabiliser tweaking, anything we can to make her faster. Just, no turbos."

    At that point, the high schooler Nakajima's friends entered.

    "Hey, you! And, hi, Mr. Nakajima."

    "Hi," He greeted back. "I see you all got coerced into modifying the Tempest as well?"

    The father chuckled.

    "No, nothing like that! We've been racing fans since around the time we all became friends! We used to watch Kotonami race. She was our senior."

    "Alright, so that explains why I was dragged along to see the last Archangel race. Well, if that black car of his really is that powerful to defeat a car like Kotonami's, then the power that GTA makes now might not be enough. Well, let's go...

    "...I want Hayate to win!"

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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 54.2

    The referenced song title of Part 53.2 was Music:Response by The Chemical Brothers.

    [FTA|s3_14.2: Part 54.2] The Russian's Dream

    <22150401>

    Saturday, April 1st, 2215

    Altima VIII, Toronto, Canada.

    14:00:00

    <the seconds | porter robinson_>

    At 2pm exactly, the qualifying began. Many of the other teams had set off to begin their outlaps. Angelus, in the meantime, were applying the final tweaks to their craft. It was a last-minute preventative measure, spurred on by Brandon due to the threat that was Alexandra taking the helm of Leon's craft. The pressure must have gotten to him, as at the very last moment, he had a final function added to the craft: One of many as yet unused buttons would be used to completely switch off the Xff engine's limiter.

    A single minute later, the craft rose from the pits, ready to begin the outlap. Gareth shot off, taking the course at a slower, less taxing speed than usual. As he navigated the course, he begun to psyche himself up to begin pushing himself hard to attain pole position.

    "...alright, let's go..."

    On the final, fast corner, Gareth pushed as hard as he could without resorting to the delimiter button. He wanted to get in a run on his own merit, to attain as fast a time as he could. And, as he flew across the line at top speed to start his qualifying lap, he did just that.

    978km/h was the speed Gareth was clocked at. Not the absolute fastest speed recorded that weekend, but it was the supposed upper limits of the Australian craft. Gareth carried that speed all the way up to the first corner. Turning into it, he applied the airbrakes about half a second later, his instincts pushing him to turn immediately into the second corner, the second half of the S-corner that matched the circuit's famous short layout.

    The longer course snaked around the short course, with the tunnel section up through the main straight being the only sections of the normal circuit that was shared with it. The medium course followed the longer course for a partial section, before deviating towards the steep drop, rejoining the old course from there onward.

    After navigating the shared medium/long section, the section specific to the long course followed. It ramped the difficulty up rather dramatically, starting to suddenly twist and shoot downwards to make up for the discrepancy in elevation. While the curves were flat, and sometimes were on a gentle incline, the drops varied in severity. Some were less steep than the short course's back straight, but a few were steeper, almost at a vertical drop. Of course, in those ultra-steep sections, mag-lock sections aided in the pilots' descent.

    The final corner was an extremely steep, corkscrew-like hairpin that crossed above, and met up with, the final chicane series leading up to the tunnel section. The rest of the circuit was very well known, and Gareth set a rather blistering lap.

    Up next was Alexandra, the equally sleek ship rising up from the pits to the track. After her outlap, her run began. The speed trap clocked her at a slower top speed, 966km/h, however the black and yellow-orange craft was still very competitive, the timing for the first section capturing a marginally faster time than Gareth. The times only got worse for the sole Angelus pilot from there on. Alexandra took advantage of the higher thrust, the RG08's system being pushed to it's limit. For some reason, in her hands, it also seemed to be much faster than Lucia's craft.

    All of that culminated in a 1-2-3 grid position for the Russians: Alexandra on pole, and the two Tigron pilots just squeezing in past Gareth. Lucia could only manage 5th, just 0.002 seconds separating her from Gareth.

    And, amusingly, Gravitesse were back beyond the bottom of the pack, having ever so slightly failed to qualify.

    ------------
    <22150402>

    Sunday, April 2nd, 2215

    13:45:09

    "...Y'know, when I said if you win, I meant the team, not you specifically."

    Alex just grinned.

    "Last I checked, Котёнок, I was a part of this team." [Kotonok, Kitten]

    "You know what I mean!" Catherine giggled.

    "I do, but you forgot to close that loophole. Better keep that 'something cool' you promised ready!"

    "Only if you win!"

    Catherine checked her watch.

    "Oop, gotta go. Good luck, in any case!"

    With her girlfriend gone, the leader of Crinale turned to Lucia.

    "So you know what you're doing?"

    The young Italian looked up at the older Russian. "I have no hope in hell of matching your pace. But I have a very good plan in place of getting around the problem of Tigron."

    "And Angelus?"

    "Ardos has never really been that much of a problem. His craft is his only strong suit. Well, that and possibly his luck."

    ------------

    "Just letting you know, Gareth, I've gone and disabled the delimiter. I still don't understand why you didn't use it when you had the opportunity to. Raising the power was quite common in the distant past."

    "I dunno... it still seemed a bit cheaty to me..." The pilot responded.

    Brandon raised a hand to his chin. "That seems fair, I guess. Well, it wasn't as if I was forcing you to use it."

    "I'm happy with 4th, I can make my way past those Tigrons."

    "We all hope so, but just have yourself a good race, okay?"

    "That won't be an issue." Gareth smiled.

    The pre-race stuff over with, and all 26 craft having been raised to the grid following the 5 minute warning, the race finally begun.

    3, 2, 1... GO!

    <14:00:00_>
    <altima viii: long course_>
    <race: lap 01 of 60_>


    01. GEL255.2.13.329 #13 Alexandra Gelorum Crinale F0-RG08/01536
    02. KIR311.0.67.297 #67 Natalia Kireyeva Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4
    03. VAL027.1.66.297 #66 "Valkyria" Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4
    04. ARD889.0.19.194 #19 Gareth Ardos Angelus AX2.2_r9
    05. SCA308.0. 7.329 # 7 Lucia Scarlatti Crinale F0-RG08/01792
    06. WHI353.0.12.894 #12 "Lady White" Qirex LS12 v2.8
    ...
    12. SIN959.0.10.576 #10 Sino EG.X EG.FF-201 III
    ...

    <control your body | pnau_>


    The #13 craft of Alexandra Gelorum shot off the line, as did the other 25 craft. In an instant, it was evident that the formidable opponent of the past had lost none of her racing prowess, and was soon pulling away from the trailing Tigron craft.

    "...Stratagem... uh..."

    Natalia was at a loss for words. She had seen the FX400 races when she was still training, but this was the first time she saw the talent of the woman she looked up to during those times first hand. There were only so many strategies she could think of in this state, all of them unsatisfactory in their purpose of defeating the competition.

    "...1. Stratagem 1. It's, uh, only way."

    Stratagem 1 was very simple. They would use the vastly powerful hive unit to their advantage. Essentially, overpower and outspeed the black craft ahead of them. Fortunately for them, the first section was a mid- to high-speed section, perfect for their strategy to work. Of course, that was not taking weapons into consideration. And, despite the past of illegal weapons usage, Alexandra was a master weapons specialist. Her burst of speed was simply due to a raised limiter that was a part of her personal tuning map.

    That, naturally, got in the way of their strategy. Catching up to the devil craft, Natalia and Valkyria made their move. From a straight line formation, the two, in a synchronized manner, sideshifted to either side of Gelorum. Natalia to the left, Valkyria to the right, they both slipped past her, before sideshifting back into their prior formation. Naturally, that would be where one would attack.

    "Rockets."

    Not even at the first corner, and the battle had already begun in such a bombastic fashion. The leading Crinale craft sideshifted to the left, out of the formation created by the two Tigron craft. At the same time, the right airbrake was deployed, skewing the craft at just the right angle to fire the rockets into both craft simultaneously.

    "Error. Plasma."

    There was a minor delay before the familiar purple energy sphere charged up in front of the leading Tigron craft. However, it was a direct hit. Alexandra was impeded, yet the extremely tough exterior, along with the powerful shielding system, took the hit very well.

    "Ghh... no! I have to win!"

    As the other Crinale ship of Lucia and the Angelus of Gareth flew past, all three craft were able to resume their battle. The new race leaders, however, were just starting their own battle, speeding around the first high-speed corner. When the three Russians rounded that very corner, the Tigrons of Kireyeva and Valkyria launched another, very similar attack, sideshifting to either side of her, slipping alongside, and...

    "Maneuver 7."

    CRUNCH

    Instead of overtaking her, they both sideshifted into her. With Kireyeva still ahead of Valkyria, they ended up skewing the Crinale craft at an angle. That only got worse when she applied her airbrakes, forcing the craft to spin around. As she cleared the incapacitated Crinale, she shifted back into formation with Valkyria, speeding past once again.

    The thrust system of Alexandra's ship caused it to spin right around to face the right way very quickly. As she rushed to retake the positions she lost, she picked up weapon after weapon, absorbing all of them except for the odd turbo or two.

    "Come on, damn f*ck you! Give me that!"

    The double upward chevrons that displayed next was not what she was specifically after, but it was something that would assist her with great efficiency.

    "Quake."

    However, the Tigron were nowhere in sight after that. They were still as far ahead as they had been, if not slightly further. Despite the similarities in handling officially, the team leader was certain that she could catch up to them, even with the end of the first section nearing rapidly, the technical second section to follow.

    "Lucia, pass Angelus, now!"

    The younger Italian was bewildered. She wanted to win even more desperately than before. What exactly did that purple-haired woman have on her?

    "You think I haven't been trying to get past this whole time!? He's been stealing every weapon from me!"

    "...A-"

    "No, listen, it's only the first goddamn lap! There's 60 in total, so could you just back off for one second? Please, let's think about this strategically."

    "But--"

    "Oh! Yes! Never mind, forget what I said, I got it."

    "Energy Blaster."

    "Ha haaa! Got it indeed."

    "...If I could speak now, I was going to let you do your thing, I just wanted to make sure you were on it."

    "Oh yeah, because I want to finish behind Angelus. Now get back up here, this race obviously has a great meaning to you, so you have 59 laps to get right back up here and fulfil that meaning!"

    ------------

    <14:40:29_>
    <altima viii: long course_>
    <race: lap 26 of 60_>


    01. SCA308.0. 7.329 # 7 Lucia Scarlatti Crinale F0-RG08/01792
    02. KIR311.0.67.297 #67 Natalia Kireyeva Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4 +0.612
    03. VAL027.1.66.297 #66 "Valkyria" Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4 +0.691
    04. ARD889.0.19.194 #19 Gareth Ardos Angelus AX2.2_r9 +1.993
    05. GEL255.2.13.329 #13 Alexandra Gelorum Crinale F0-RG08/01536 +5.460
    ...
    08. WHI353.0.12.894 #12 "Lady White" Qirex LS12 v2.8 +16.839
    09. SIN959.0.10.576 #10 Sino EG.X EG.FF-201 III +18.204
    ...

    <pull me under | dimension_>


    The top 5 didn't realise that there was one certain threat that was gradually climbing up the ranks. Of course, the one who could stop the yellow, crimson and blue craft didn't notice the long game had been played until it was too late.

    "Swarm Drain."

    The Super-Weapon, as expected of a merger of the two former teams, functioned like a combination of EG.r's Power Swarm, with the leeching capabilities of Xios' Shield Drain. The multiple miniature drones shot out from the trailing craft, and immediately surrounded the other, leeching portions of the uniquely white Qirex at a time. With 6 drones, each leeching a total of 12 gravity shield units apiece, meant that 72gsu was leeched from the craft. Her craft was not at full health, which meant that she was in the critical range.

    "Agh! No!"

    Firmly applying the airbrakes, she let the craft soar past her, narrowly missing her. It was then that she unleashed her own Super-Weapon, based on Qirex's older F5000 one.

    "Power Wall."

    Unlike the old one, the craft merely slowed down upon hitting it, passing through it. It still shaved vast amounts of energy from the shields of the craft that passed through it, however. Which was exactly what Sino did, perfectly taking the racing line into the wall.

    Coming up alongside the Finnish-designed craft, Lady White started regaining her lost shield energy, absorbing every weapon she received as she entered the final section, flying into the tunnel to start her 27th lap. Directly ahead of the two was another craft. They were the nearing 7th place craft of Piranha.

    "Cannon."

    The high-speed bullets relentlessly pummelled the red and yellow craft, causing it to decelerate just enough for both warring craft to scream past.

    "Bomb."

    And the large explosion and disruption ensured that very same craft wouldn't be stealing the positions back right in a hurry.

    Further up the pack, Gelorum was absolutely relentless. She had closed the some 3 second gap in the space of one and a half laps, thanks to no help from Tigron, who were even more adamant to push her back down the ranks. It had gotten to the point where the woman's eyes had begun to glow.

    "Gareth... out of my way..."

    "Plasma."

    Quick nerves from Angelus' Zone master had instinctively made the craft sideshift over to outside of the racing line... only to get hit by the very thing he was intending to avoid.

    "Ngh!"

    Gelorum had pulled her tricks again. Shifting over to the opposite side, she begun to charge the powerful energy sphere. At the very last, but opportune moment, she opened the left airbrake, again skewing the craft to face where Gareth would most likely shift to, as the plasma shot from her craft along it's trajectory, which Gareth, as Gelorum predicted, shifted right into.

    "Hmhm..." She chuckled lightly, pulling the other airbrake to straighten herself out. As she did, the black craft naturally passed the white and azure Angelus.

    "Right, now Tigron."

    Several hundred meters ahead, the two craft came into view, still in their perfect formation. They were nearing the other Crinale of Lucia at a gradual pace.

    "Bomb."
    "Missile."


    They weren't about to be fooled twice, they had both sideshifted out of the way before the bomb was deployed. The missile, however, was fired blind, something the two Russians were not aware of, until the projectile bounced off the opposite wall and into the leading craft.

    Back at the control room, a bewildered Brandon just stared in confusion.

    "This... how'd she get better than 2209?"

    As the craft was shoved into the wall from the direct hit, both Valkyria and Gelorum soared past her.

    "Hyah!"

    Of course, Natalia was not going down without a fight, and shifted to the left, in an attempt to force the other Russian woman into the wall. She had succeeded in getting a hit, but it was a more awkward one to the rear of the Crinale craft. Instead of the massive wall shunt she was hoping for, all that came from the maneuver was skewing the craft towards the centre of the corner, which the leader simply counter-acted with a drift through the corner.

    The idea of counter-steering to drift around the corner was one thing. The execution was by far and away another. It took all of her strength to twist the steering handles all the way to the left to fight the rightward rotation the craft was following. When that failed, she twisted one upwards, opening the opposite airbrake to the corner, which was barely enough to force the heavy, yet aerodynamic craft to cease the rotational slide, and fall back into line. All that was left to do was to straighten out, which she did with a big sigh, followed by a very pleased laugh that she pulled off such a feat.

    "Hahahaha! Valkyria! You are next!"

    <loop | voicians_>

    Alex wasn't the only one that was well-versed in advanced weapon strategies. At the leader's insistence, Lucia had been taught how to properly manage her weapon usage, which expanded the girl's strategic prowess. Admittedly, that was the only reason the prodigy accepted the training in the first place.

    "Mines."

    Immediately following a sharp, blind corner, Lucia immediately put that into practice. From one end of the narrow course, she started to deploy the mines. At the same time as the first mine leaving her craft, she shifted to the other side, the other 4 mines perfectly covering the track, and ensuring that Valkyria would run into at least one of them.

    Leon's engineer spoke to Alex through the radio. "Keep to the left. M-"

    "Mines."

    Alex was already starting to take the corner after the engineer and her computer's warning, and had seen the first of them right before straightening out. When she didn't see a second, she aimed for an exit that went right beside it. She soared right past the first, seeing the other three in a diagonal line across the track, with her trajectory correctly going through the gap created by the Tigron slamming into the second mine deployed by the true lead pilot of Crinale.

    In addition, flying over the crest that crossed above the prior piece of track below, she saw the Tigron of Valkyria attempting to regain speed. Just as she started to pass it, the pilot achieved what Natalia failed to do just before.

    CRUNCH.

    The black craft slammed into the other, pressing it against the wall. Just as they arrived at the corner, the K-Bystrota shifted the other way, spinning around the corner, yet leaving Alex to force her heavy craft to do the same, from a more awkward position and angle.

    "02!" She yelled out after regaining her composure and rhythm.

    The one she was referring to, CO-02, replied.

    "I know what you're about to ask me, and my answer is the same as it always has been. We don't know how their shielding works. We're starting to get some ideas and possibilities, but it's only conjecture at this point."

    "Damn. Okay, never mind. Unlike others, I'm not afraid to eliminate them."

    "Make it a 1-2 finish, you owe at least that much to us after taking Leon's spot." She commented.

    "Bhah!" Alex chortled. "Like I would ever let you down!"

    The matter was, of course, trying to close the distance between them once more. While the Tigron did have a higher top-end speed, they were on the exclusive, technical part of the long course, and both Tigron and Crinale had very similar performance in thrust and handling, which meant that they took corners at similar speeds, and accelerated out of them much the same as well.

    But what about a weapon that travels faster than both? And one that would almost guarantee to slow the leading craft down? Wouldn't that play perfectly into Alexandra's hands?

    "Quake."

    Sure, it might have placed Valkyria into dangerously low shield energy and was not a complete elimination, but it was more than enough for Alex to steal the position from the craft with the wonky shields.

    "Gh! H-Hey! What happened to warning me about those quakes!?"

    ...and, unfortunately, also hit Lucia.

    "Sh*t, sorry, I forgot. I was in my own groove there."

    "Well, whatever, it's not like I was going to b--"

    "Lucia. Enough. Let's get this done."

    "'Kay!"

    Passing the gradually accelerating Crinale was fairly simple for Alex, Lucia graciously accepting 2nd place on lap 31.

    <contender eliminated_>

    That elimination so happened to be the 6th place craft of FEISAR. The secondary battle was about to come to a head.

    ------------

    <15:16:48_>
    <altima viii: long course_>
    <race: lap 55 of 60_>


    01. GEL255.2.13.329 #13 Alexandra Gelorum Crinale F0-RG08/01536
    02. SCA308.0. 7.329 # 7 Lucia Scarlatti Crinale F0-RG08/01792 +0.118
    03. SIN959.0.10.576 #10 Sino EG.X EG.FF-201 III +0.345
    04. KIR311.0.67.297 #67 Natalia Kireyeva Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4 +1.492
    05. VAL027.1.66.297 #66 "Valkyria" Tigron K-Bystrota v1.4 +1.576
    06. ARD889.0.19.194 #19 Gareth Ardos Angelus AX2.2_r9 +3.111
    07. WHI353.0.12.894 #12 "Lady White" Qirex LS12 v2.8 +5.507
    ...


    Somehow, the lone EG-X craft forced its way past the pack, taking advantage of the relatively high thrust and cornering ability, masterfully dodging all weapons thrown at the craft.

    Naturally, the instant the 6th placed FEISAR was eliminated, CO-02 immediately noticed the approaching EG-X and Qirex, and overrode the existing strategy to implement an altered variation in place. Even though the EG-X was the only one that even got past the 5th placed Angelus, their new strategy still held on.

    It was expected that they would have seen the Finnish/Chinese craft by lap 56, but after a quake by Natalia, and a turbo by Sino himself, that prediction was out by a full lap, the maroon, yellow and blue craft entering their field of view very shortly after the 55th lap.

    Sino kept up quite well to the two Crinales, yet didn't gain on them. The bulk gain of the EG-X was its tighter, faster cornering speed, so only when the three of them entered the second section, was the point that Sino started lowering the gap between them. The final corner and straight made it seem like it was the final lap, when there was still 4 full laps to go.

    "Rockets."

    A direct hit on both of them, the EG-X flew past Lucia and Alex.

    "Energy Blaster."
    <contender eliminated_>


    And just like that, Lucia's second obtainment of the superweapon once again threw the standings in favour of Crinale. Four laps later, the two identical black craft crossed the finish line, a 1-2 finish for Crinale, and the first race win for Alex Kotova herself since 2209.

  9. #989
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    Default Faster Than Angels | Part 55.0

    The referenced album title of Part 54.2 was American Dream by LCD Soundsystem.

    [FTA|s3_15.0: Part 55.0] The Tempest

    Momiji Line, Nikko, Tochigi, Japan.

    "Everyone has the ability to race beyond what anyone expects. Even those who, at first glance, do not look like the type to be active participants in the racing scene. Perhaps, one may be interested in the scene, maybe even spectate a few events, but no-one would be the wiser that they actively race..."

    ------------
    Day 24.

    21:57:45

    At the start of Momiji Pass, a small high-school student waited eagerly beside an equally small car. Hayate Nakajima was sitting by a Yamutsu Tempest GTA that was owned by Archangel's next opponent. Around the medium-haired racer were the very same friends from high school who helped tune the Tempest with help from Hayate's father.

    "So when's he gonna be here?" One of the few females of the group asked.

    "I dunno..." Hayate replied. "Could be as late as 10 itself. He seemed to be there about that time when he was battling Kotonami. At least he's giving me time to make my last preparations."

    Crawling into the back seat of the 2-door compact, Hayate picked up a small object, still in it's packaging. Tearing it open, the small plush toy was attached onto the rear window of the car through its suction cup, letting it dangle from the new position.

    "Hakurou Tengu, please protect me." Was what was murmured from the lips of the small teenager.

    Tengu are forms of Youkai, Japanese mythological beasts. Specifically, the Hakurou Tengu, or White Wolf Tengu, acts as the mountain's defence force. The plush toy secured to Hayate's car was a cutesy, stylised version, looking more like a girl with very few minor wolf-like attributes, than some version of a supernatural spirit.

    After staring at the toy dangling for several seconds, one of Hayate's friends piped up.

    "He's here! Hayate, Archangel's here!"

    In the distance, the sleek black car of the gradually more famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) racer that was Archangel. There was just enough time for the teenager to crawl back out of the car, before the sound of the tuned engine that was the powerplant of Archangel's car resounded throughout the pass, from just a couple meters away from the helmeted racer's opponent. Upon seeing Hayate, however, Archangel was struck with a bout of confusion, all stemming from the androgynous appearance of his opponent.

    '...wait... Are they... male? Female? I'd... better tread lightly here.'

    "U-Um... You're Archangel, right?"

    Before the man could start introducing himself, Hayate spoke up, somewhat breaking the ice.

    "That's correct. Hayate Nakajima... I presume?"

    "Y-Yeah, that's right."

    He smiled under his helmet.

    "Interesting. You know, I initially thought it was your father that was the fastest down here. And had I been any ordinary person, I would have assumed that until right this moment."

    "Huh? What do you mean?" Hayate looked confused.

    "It's fine, you don't have to understand. All you should know is that I am more than just a simple touge racer, yet it is a somewhat favourite pastime. Now, what do you say, shall we start?"

    "I..."

    Hayate wasn't sure what to think, but at the very least, this Archangel guy did seem to be someone who would be fun to race against.

    "Sure! Let's go!"

    In an instant, Rei had his car turned around, and Hayate was properly lined up ready for the off.

    'Okay... the car is better than before... I can do this. I can win, I know I can!...'

    "...what!?"

    ------------

    "Slight change in the strategy for this one, hopefully I can pull it off. Don't you dare let me down, Hayate."

    Checking the car's diagnostics, everything seemed to be fine. Looking up for the signal, however, he saw something quite unexpected.

    "...Ryouta... Nakajima? That kid's father?"

    Standing in front of the two cars was Hayate's father, Ryouta. Raising his hand up, he began to yell out the countdown to start.

    "5! 4, 3, 2, 1! ...GO!"

    Driver 'Archangel'
    Team N/A
    Car Unknown
    Year Unknown, possibly 2200s
    Type Sports, 2-door
    Layout M4
    Plate ·4 07, classification 390
    Colour Black
    Engine Unknown modified engine
    Power 275PS
    Weight Unknown
    Custom Parts "Archangel" Body Kit, Unknown engine modification, Azure Blue Laser headlights, Unknown other systems.
    vs.
    中島疾風 (Nakajima Hayate)
    N/A
    Yamutsu Tempest GTA (ES53)
    2193
    Sports Compact, 2-door
    FR
    12-18, classification 576
    High Future Two Tone
    Modified 1.6L I4 NA YN6PB
    181PS
    848kg
    OEM Optional Spoiler, Aftermarket Steering Wheel, 8-point roll bar.

    <kaede -ver.2.0 | clean tears_>

    The instant the two cars leapt off the line, Rei immediately noticed a massive problem. The tiny car seemed to be accelerating far quicker than anticipated.

    "What? That... that just throws my strategy out of whack! How much higher is that car's power now!? It can't be by much, but it might be enough. This is critical to my strategy succeeding. I'm just gonna have to push harder and hope for the best."

    And push he did, just edging out Hayate before the first corner. The instant his entire car was in front of the GTA, he quickly swerved in front of it, then immediately turned sharply to the left, using the momentum in the initial right swerve to put the back out. It was a smooth, skilful Scandinavian Flick.

    The first left hand corner led directly into a not-so-sharp right hand corner, into another straight. Not even into that second corner, and Rei had already begun to pull away slowly from the smaller compact. Along the straight, Rei kept pulling, until the third corner they took showed a very noticeable desync in their movements: While Rei was turning through the corner and accelerating out, Hayate was just slowing down to turn in.

    'Excellent', He thought. 'The strategy still works perfectly, I guess I put too much power into this initially.'

    The first section was still, however, a mid to high-speed section. Despite two hairpins and a sharp corner, the rest of the corners were sparse and fast, blurring the line between corner and straight.

    Interestingly, after the first of the hairpins, the gap between Rei and Hayate stopped widening. It wasn't that Rei had taken pity on the small racer, the cyan and grey Tempest GTA was just starting to match the speeds of the sleek, black car being driven by Archangel. The true talent of Hayate Nakajima was about to be revealed.

    The gentle curves up to the second hairpin noted the second interesting point of that night: The smaller, older of the two cars started to, in a very odd sense, gain on the car that had soundly defeated two others before it. It wasn't by a very large amount, only the very slightest and briefest of gains.

    The black car that started to symbolise Archangel started to pull away from Hayate, just before the sweeping left-hand corner, leading into the brief straight before the second hairpin. There, Archangel's notable cornering style came back into focus. As the car slowed down, he turned sharply into the hairpin to push the back out, then immediately adjusted his throttle and steering so the minimal amount of steering into the corner was needed to have the car gracefully glide through and out of the corner, at a minimal angle and as fast as was technically possible.

    The lighter Tempest, however, seemed to just glide around the hairpin at pretty much the same speed as Archangel. The engine note only slowly decreased in pitch as the corner before the hairpin was taken, but Hayate did have to brake for the much tighter hairpin. The racing style was rather unique, not seen by anyone before. The car turned in at a far greater speed than what a normal, or even lightly tuned ES53 like Hayate's could manage.

    The resulting initial understeer was mitigated by the right foot of Hayate, the accelerator being planted to send maximum power through into the rear stabilisers, pushing them beyond their grip capacity and sending the rear sliding outward. From there, all Hayate did was keep the slide held, and the speed up. When the car straightened out exiting the corner, it was still moving at a great amount of speed, the YN6PB inline-4 working overtime to push the car faster as it accelerated out into the next immediate complex.

    It was a section taken at a much higher speed than the preceding hairpin, and consisted of 5 small, very minor corners that actually blended into one another, far more so than the map would suggest. Those two points of information, along with the knowledge and experience of racing on that pass that Hayate had meant that the car was pushed to the limits, the accelerator being held even through that final series. The first sector ended in a moderately sharp chicane, which, through minimal braking, was navigated with ease by the high-schooler.

    "And now... hell."

    To both Hayate and Archangel, that wouldn't be too much of a stretch, calling the second section 'hell'. It was full of consecutive, slow, sharp corners that could make or break one's run. To make the most out of it, careful, precise control of the car was required, along with ultra-fast reflexes. This was where the immense lack of weight would place the favour into Hayate's hands, adding onto the experience.

    The second section started with a simple left curve, then a double-apex right hand corner, disguised as two separate right corners. That, however, was all the warning they would get. Immediately after the 'second' right, the true "hell" of the second section began. Needing to slow right down in such a short space was almost bordering on impossible, and Hayate had to drift widely into the hairpin in order to keep bringing the speeds down to clear the tight corner. From there, it was a matter of keeping the speed up as the hairpins came thick and fast, without any time to recover.

    The instant the black car was exiting one corner, it was already turning the other way to lead into the next, the speed holding somewhat steady near, but not particularly reaching, 100km/h. It was only through the 3rd consecutive corner that the speed barely increased to 104. A fourth hairpin loomed beyond a small straight, providing a small reprieve before throwing them into two more consecutive hairpins. That allowed the speeds to creep up significantly, 119km/h being clocked by the black car.

    Within the lightweight Tempest, the hairpins were taken at slightly faster speeds. The shorter length also meant that the car could change direction much quicker than Archangel. 103km/h was the speed Hayate had slowed to through the first hairpin, turning quickly into the second and third at a constant 106. Despite the apparent ease, Hayate was physically wrestling with the car in order to keep the speed up. In a usual time attack run, Hayate's speed through the second section was closer to that of Archangel's. The consistency was kept up through the final two corners, as once again, Hayate physically forced the wheel to snap to the other direction a slight moment before the Tempest was even out of the corner.

    "Ngh... Hah! ...y-yes! 128!"

    While the sector wasn't over, most of the difficulty that comprised it was complete. There were still a few tricks up its sleeve, but it was not as hard as the initial hairpin complex. A slight chicane bridged the gap between the fifth hairpin of that section to a right-angle bend, leading into a standalone, less sharp sixth hairpin.

    A small right followed, before a gradually tightening chicane series pitted them to their reflexes and vehicular agility once more.

    "...hmm..."

    Archangel noticed that the headlights behind him were gaining on him.

    "Time to push."

    And push he did, somehow finding enough angular speed to match the speed of the nearing Tempest, the newer technology of the 2200s car keeping the speeds up and holding off the 2193 ES53 behind him.

    The third sector began right after a right-angle corner. Through a gentle curve, three more hairpins awaited them. However, they were not as sharp as the sector 2 complex, and gave, albeit very minimal, almost non-existent, some kind of breathing room between them.

    That was it, after that was a simple left high-speed corner, the track just straightening out even more after that. The road still curved along the mountain, but the road ahead of them was more like a straight than anything, the lines between a straight and a corner blurred to the absolute extreme. Both Archangel and Hayate could plant their feet to the floor, allowing their cars to accelerate and gain speed down the section. This was where the black sports car of Archangel could shine, its higher power output able to provide greater speed and acceleration than the still tuned Tempest GTA.

    What looked like another hairpin was just a minor kink that led to a long corner that could be taken at max speed. Through the second half of the corner, both racers flew past a small carpark, where some fans had taken as a great opportunity to watch the race. It was all over for them, however. They were able to hear the sounds of the warring cars several seconds back, but as soon as they screamed into view, they were already around the corner, and into the next. Sure, it was one of only few vantage points one could watch the race, but it was all for a mere second of action.

    Yet another chicane series followed, but it was more of a gentle right curve than the former.

    "...this... this is it... we're almost at the end. It's now or never, I think I know how to win!"

    Using as much of the road as possible, and pressing down as hard as was physically possible on the right pedal, Hayate's style switched, the focus was now on getting past no matter what. The younger opponent to Archangel knew that this race was the fastest ever, a new, probably unbeatable record was being set by the Tempest GTA already, but that wasn't what Hayate had come all this way for. Not for some new record, but a full race win.

    Two tight hairpins closed off the course, separated by a long straight between them. The straight was one of the longer ones in the course, but like the others, they weren't that straight, blurring the line between proper straights and corners.

    135km/h was the speed the first hairpin was taken by Archangel.

    146km/h was the velocity Hayate navigated it, the start of the final chance to take Archangel signified by it.

    From behind a certain black sports car, another one was somehow accelerating faster than it.

    And then, the move was made.

    <let it shine | yuko koshiro_>

    The first noticeable thing was the odd shift in the lights that illuminated through the leading car's interior. The cyan car's driver had started to make their final move. The third final corner of the course. Hayate Nakajima's Yamutsu Tempest GTA had started to overtake Archangel's own, unknown car.

    The crowd situated just after the corner would be waiting the longest second in their entire lives, waiting to see who would emerge from that corner in front of whom.

    Out of nowhere, at blistering speed, their questions were answered.

    Archangel had maintained his lead.

    ------------
    Halfway through the corner, Archangel smiled.

    "Strategy success. Time's up."

    A simple movement was all that was needed. A simple push of his foot, harder onto the pedal of the car, finally removing the mental limiter. Archangel unleashed all 275hp of his car, slingshotting away from the threatening Tempest.

    "No! No, no! What!?"

    Hayate was, of course, distraught that such a strategic move would be played out like that, especially with how well he was racing. But the small high-schooler kept the pedal pressed to the floor, not giving in for one moment. At the final hairpin, however, that black car disappeared completely from view. Racing around it at top speed, Hayate saw it once again, way too far to be caught up to.

    Crossing the line and slowing down up to where everyone else was, Hayate saw one thing that was not there at the end of every Archangel battle.

    The black car of Rei Kurokawa, with the man standing right beside it.

    When Hayate stopped, Rei walked over to the driver's side of the Tempest. When the window came down, and the racer looked up at him, Rei spoke.

    "Do you have a moment?"

    ------------

    In a parking lot closer to the Nakajima home, two people met to converse.

    The first was a small Hayate Nakajima.

    The other, practically towering the first, was Rei Kurokawa.

    "I just wanted to make sure that the final part of that race didn't get you down." The latter spoke.

    "What do you mean? You just wiped the floor with me, how am I supposed to feel other than upset?"

    He shook his head.

    "That's looking at the race as nothing more as the sum of the end result. Others may see it like that because they have no other choice. What matters to you is what you take from it. You were the one that raced against me, after all."

    "That... um... h-huh?"

    "Heh, it's simple, really."

    He pulled out a stopwatch.

    "I was timing you. I went into this race like no other race I've been in." Suddenly, he became serious. "Tell no-one what I am about to tell you."

    Hayate nervously nodded.

    "I gather data on everyone before a race. Now, I could tell that there was something special with you. You have some innate talent, whether you're aware of it or not."

    Hayate just looked up at the man silently, taking in every word he spoke.

    "With this race, I tried to bring that talent out of you, and push it as far as I could. And push I did, you raced your fastest out there, that time is your own personal best."

    "But... what about that end, then? Did you slow down?"

    "I never slow down. You were just that fast. See, I limited myself so I could gradually pull you along, to make you faster, and it worked... a little too well. When I pulled away from you at the end, that was me removing that 'limiter', and pushing as hard as I could to the end. Again, though, that's not what you should take from it. You're a very talented kid."

    Hayate could not help but smile from that. The high-schooler loved to race, and to hear that from someone like Archangel, was almost as good a praise as getting one from, say, Katsuo Tsukiko or 'Banzai' Sato!

    "Thank you, thanks so much!"

    Rei nodded in acknowledgement.

    "It's not common that I like to speak to someone about this. Just... I like to appreciate talent when I see it."

    As he turned to leave, he waved at his former opponent.

    "See you. We may meet again sometime, Hayate."

    "I hope we do, Archangel! I'll still follow your racing!"

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