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Fuel Season 1: Episode 25 - Deal with the Devil

As everyone prepares for the upcoming Festival of the Fall, Stevie contemplates an offer from Thawn.

Winner's Circle: Victorious F-X racers are honoured with an exclusive interview following their race to give insight into the winner's mind and allow them to share their thoughts.

16th of March - Season 1

When Darcy Stevens took off her helmet and stepped off her motorcycle, her face immediately fell. Across the parking lot, standing next to his black 1970s Chevrolet Impala was Thawn Oberhauser. She knew what he as doing. He was waiting for her... and this wasn't the first time. He'd done the same thing last week. Stevie rolled her eyes and started for the front entrance of the Fuel Speedway, walking past him.

"You're beginning to make a habit out of confronting me in parking lots."

"Well we didn't finish the conversation we had last week."

That was true. It had ended prematurely when Styles Sithole had suddenly come out, said something to Glen and then taken off. Judging from Thawn immediately ending the conversation, Stevie deduced that it was nothing good and left it at that. "Well I'd heard enough."

"Really?" said Thawn, seemingly not bothered by Stevie continuing to walk away. "So you don't want to hear how I can get you higher up on the line of succession and closer to the Formula-X Throne?"

Stevie stopped. She turned around and saw that Thawn hadn't even turned to look at her, so confident of his words that he just knew that she would come back. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about you and me working together to get that Crown off Mandla."

Stevie narrowed her eyes. "But you can't claim the Crown any more as long as Mandla's King." This had occured three weeks ago when Thawn lost a One Kilometer Derby and as per the stipulations of the race, could no longer challenge the F-X King as long as he reigned.

"That would be why I'm talking to you."

Stevie wondered what the plan was here? Was he going to try and get her to take the Crown from Mandla and then try and take it off her? "What exactly are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about helping you become an absolute star; face of Fuel." Stevie just stared at him. "Or are you okay with Kloof and Magubane being in the feature race tonight but not you? Once upon a time, you used to be proud of the number of episodes you'd headlined," he said remembering back to a conversation they had back in November. "Or is that no longer the case?"

"Okay, then explain to me how you're going to make me a star. And then, how making me the face of Fuel will get you what you want?" When Stevie asked the question, Thawn smiled... He'd hooked her.

 

IN THE PADDOCK

The conversation with Thawn had been a rivetting one as The Impaler laid down exactly what Stevie needed to do in order to climb up the ladder which included creating a little buzz for herself tonight before her big 3-Way race at Festival of the Fall this Sunday. Thawn had been quick to suggest facing Brenda Koek, her relay partner from the past two weeks. When Stevie had asked why, Thawn mentioned that the story would be easy to tell: allies turn enemies. He also mentioned how he might have rocked the boat already by suggesting to Brenda that she was better than her... like a kid in high school trying to get two students to fight.

Even from across the paddock, Stevie could see Brenda staring daggers through her. "Jeez, what did you do to get her to look at you like that?"

Stevie turned to find Styles Sithole next to her. She didn't want to explain what Thawn did but fortunately, she caught sight of JVZ looking at Touch Mkhize in the same manner that Brenda was looking at her. "What did he do to get JVZ looking at him like that?"

"What, didn't you watch Talking with Touch last week?" Stevie shook her head at which point Styles explained that Touch had decided, after three weeks of building up this rivalry of popularity between him and JVZ, that Touch himself was Mister Monday Night. Styles claimed that JVZ didn't like being played by Touch.

"What about you? Why aren't you upset about it?"

"Because I'm going to get my chance to show him and JVZ that I'm better than them in our three-way race this Sunday."

Stevie found herself intrigued by these developments and understood what Thawn meant by creating buzz. So far, Stevie had gotten by simply on skill as any rivalries she had were simply arguments of sportsmanship. Even her upcoming 3-Way race with Kloof and Solo was built on sportsmanship, not animosity which was why they had barely clashed in the build up to this Sunday. But Thawn wanted her to change that. And if she could do it by creating buzz around her and not Kloof and Solo, all the better.

Unfortunately for Stevie, if she was going to walk into Festival of the Fall with everyone buzzing about her, she was going to need to be involved in a story. Fortunately for Stevie, Thawn seemed hell bent on fulfilling his side of the deal by doing just that. Stevie watched Thawn go over to Brenda, say something to her and then walk away, leaving a fuming Brenda, giving her a thousand yard stare. Stevie wasn't sure she wanted to know what Thawn had said to Brenda. But it looked like she was going to find out when Thawn came over, grinning proudly.

When he didn't speak immediately, Stevie rolled her eyes. "So what did you say to her?"

"Oh nothing. I just asked her a question, is all," he said smugly. "I asked her how it felt to be bested by another teammate as its obvious that you were the star of the team these past two weeks."

Stevie wanted to throw something. "But we weren't officially teammates. We were sanctioned to team together."

"It doesn't matter. The damage is done." And Thawn seemed proud of it. But Stevie didn't complain. If a man who was once King believed that this was the right course of action to get her to the top, then she would go with it. But all of this only worked if she could perform on the blacktop.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Stevie blasted the accelerator only letting up when she came at the turns. She was currently leading the 10 Lap Match Race but she could feel Brenda right behind her and almost sense the hatred seething off of her from all the way in The Candyfloss. Stevie had realized that Thawn's words had affected Brenda deeply, as she obviously hadn't gotten over what had happened to her back in October. But Stevie tried not to take it to heart as she felt that animosity was theme of the day.

Stevie had felt that animosity between King Mandla and the Number One Claimant, Jim Kieck during their contract signing at the top of the show, particulary when Jim made a snide comment about the King failing to beat two nobodies two weeks ago. She continued to feel that animosity when the two each took part in two-on-one races.

Stevie brought her mind back to the race as Brenda managed to find a gap in Lap 6. However Stevie quickly stole it back in the next lap. Stevie then started to take advantage of Brenda's rage by baiting her with gaps only to close them every time Brenda tried to take it. As she did it over and over again, Stevie could see that Brenda was getting angrier as her driving became more desperate. But her desperation was all for nought when Stevie picked up the win anyway.

As Stevie took off her helmet to celebrate her victory, she caught sight of Thawn clapping. When Stevie looked back to the cheering crowd, Stevie realized that Thawn's plan was working. The hype around her was building. Stevie acknowledged Thawn with a nod before starting for the Winner's Circle... it was time for the next part of the plan.

 

IN THE WINNER'S CIRCLE

According to Thawn's plan, what Stevie needed to do next was to not mention any other racer at all. Thawn told her that she needed to make it all about her and make Kloof and Solo feel insignificant and not worth mentioning. The idea was to enforce the thought of them being nothing but a footnotes in her story.

Fifty-year-old F-X reporter, Geeza Gabashe was the man responsible for interviewing the victors and opened the segment with a smile. "Darcy Stevens is not immune to winning races and she has joined us tonight in the Winner's Circle." He turned to her. "So Stevie, tell us why this win here tonight was so important?"

Stevie smiled. This was her chance. "I needed to win because you don't know how important it is to go into the P.P.V. with a victory on your shoulders. It just gives you that confidence boost." While Stevie would follow Thawn's plan, she wasn't willing to become the ass he was in his interviews. She was going to keep it about the sport.

"So what can you tell us about Thawn? It's been reported that you've been seen with him for the past two weeks in secret meetings." Geeza then hinted at their alliance but used a negative tone.

Stevie hesitated for a moment and pondered whether to dismiss her alliance with Thawn or acknowledge it. "I think people just need to give the man a break. I'm not saying he hasn't said some bad things but that was all for show. Deep down, he's just like all of us: he's a sportsman doing what he loves and will do what he needs to do to get that shot again."

Geeza then pushed whatever his agenda was by pressing the same button again.  "So does that mean Thawn will be coaching you at Festival of the Fall against John Kloof and Solo Magubane?"

This was where Stevie needed to be careful. She needed to take the attention off her opponents. "Look, if you want to know if Thawn is backing me, then the answer is yes, he is backing me. And yes, he could very well coach me all the way to the Crown. However, at the end of the day, no one is just handed the Crown. And if it comes down to me as Queen and him as Claimant, I'll beat him."

 

LATER IN THE PARKING LOT

When Stevie got back to the parking lot, now on her way home, she found Thawn waiting by his car again. Stevie knew what to expect. She knew he was pissed. And why wouldn't he be? She'd revealed their alliance. "Look I know what you're going to say," she started.

"You disobeyed me. You failed to build yourself up. You allowed yourself to be cornered by that reporter and you put me down." Thawn watched as Stevie stood there nervously before breaking into a smile. "It looks like you're learning." Thawn then left before Stevie could ask what just happened.

"What?" said Stevie now to herself. What just happened? It was almost as if this was all according to plan. Had Thawn wanted her to mention him in the interview? Was there something else going on here?

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright © 2020 by Sphu "Beesting" Kubheka
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