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HomeAction Stories Fuel Season 1: Episode 30 - The Duchess of Drag

Fuel Season 1: Episode 30 - The Duchess of Drag

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

Penny Potgieter learns the true value of being a monarch while on the highway to the Grand Prix.

"The Highway to the Grand Prix" is an expression used to refer to the 8 weeks leading up to The Formula-X Grand Prix which involves heavy marketing for the event.

11th of May – Season 1

When Penny arrived at the Fuel Speedway, it was in the back of a black Mercedes C Class. This hadn't been her idea. Neither was the paparazzi waiting for her outside the car. As she hesitated to exit, she thought about how this happened. It started at the first fan convention 2 weeks ago when the number of fans attending the downtown Civic Center had been so overwhelming that Moodswing had been forced to host another convention. Soon one convention turned into a week's engagement. And that week's engagement turned into a two-week mini-tour with last week having small conventions held across the island going as far west as Engels Bay and as far north as Noresto township. 

However, that's not what landed Penny in her cocktail dress about to walk an imaginary red carpet. Moodswing had the brilliant idea to invite fans from across the island to post amateur articles online about any of the monarchs (whether it was the F-X King, the Relay Barons, or her, the Duchess of Drag) and the best article would get featured in the official newsletter. Creativity was encouraged as was taking pictures to go along with the article. But the "fun" didn't stop there.

As it turned out, Moodswing's plan wasn't just "brilliant" but also sneaky because he then told the monarchs to dress to the nines every time they went out in public, including arriving to the Fuel Speedway and be willing to answer the questions of these fans-turned-amateur-reporters as if they were real journalists. Moodswing was blatantly using these fans to make it look like his titleholders were being hounded by paparazzi. Naturally, he made a point to have the real press take notice of this, thus increasing the buzz for the Grand Prix.

While Penny had never minded showing off her legs in public, it was a very different feeling to do it for a dozen people with cameras. But alas, she put on her dark sunglasses and braved the storm, starting for the entrance. 

"Hey Penny, Penny, over here. Over here." One of the amateur reporters. "How's your week been so far?" 

"Busy." 

"How many autographs have you signed this week?" asked another

"Hundreds." Penny had learnt that it was easier when she just gave one word answers: she got to answer more questions without speaking so much.

"Penny, Penny!"  said another one, trying to get her attention. "What were your feelings about Touch Mkhize challenging you for your title at the Grand Prix after teaming with you last week?"

No quick answer for that one which meant: "no comment. "

"Penny," said another. "What are your plans for tonight? Who are you racing?"

Penny smiled. "I'm not." This was a trick answer but she didn't reveal any more. "Look, guys, that's all for now. I gotta get inside and prepare." When one of them asked for what, Penny found herself spared by the arrival of Longitude and Latitude in a black Audi A4. They were both dressed in black suits as if they were the Men in Black, complete with the dark sunglasses. Unlike Penny, they were not hesitant about being hounded by these paparazzi wannabes.

When Penny walked through the concourse, it felt like she was breathing fresh air again. While she still got looks for her sexy outfit, it was looks that she was more familiar with: lingering looks from cowardly men who were too intimidated to approach her... which was just the way she liked it. It was not often Penny wore anything revealing, but when she did, she liked being appreciated without being a magnet for idiots who never stood a chance anyway. 

 

IN THE PADDOCK

Despite not liking Moodswing's plan, Penny had enjoyed riding in the back of the Mercedes he'd hired for her. He'd done the same for Longitude and Latitude with their Audi but when Penny walked into the paddock, she realized that he'd outdone himself on behalf of the King. While Penny had expected Moodswing not to bother with King Mandla since he arrived in his father's black BMW every week anyway, it seemed Moodswing loved to not only outdo himself but the Deputy Mayor as well.

Making use of his special privilege which allowed King Mandla to bypass walking through the concourse, King Mandla arrived onto the paddock in a long black limo! When he stepped out of it, he was smiling, wearing dark sunglasses as well, and carrying his golden crown under his arm. Since fans weren't allowed into the paddock, it was the F-X reporters that were taking all the photos. Looking around, Penny could tell that most of the other racers were jealous and trying to hide it. But there was one who wasn't.

"I,  for one,  can't wait for Kloof to wipe the smile off the face of that guy," said Touch.

Penny made a point to try and keep it civil, even though there was no reason to be nice to her rival. "Well, you had your chance." 

"Well, I may be getting another chance of wiping his smile away." When Penny gave him a narrow-eyed look, he elaborated. "A different kind of chance. He's going to be my guest on Talking with Touch."

"Wasn't he, your guest like two weeks ago." 

"Yeah, but that was when was Number One Claimant. This time, the questions will be different.  Anyway, let's talk about you." This got Penny's attention. "I hear you're putting on something of a performance yourself."

This was true. Penny had decided to do another drag race demonstration. While she'd done one before, she felt it would be a great way of building up hype for the Grand Prix while also showing everyone how good she was. "A drag demonstration is not a performance, Touch. It's a display of skill and a taste of what's to come, for you." 

"Oh," said Touch smiling. He'd smiled the same way last week when she hadn't batted an eyelash at his dramatic, wordless challenge. It was like he liked that she was into this rivalry. "Well that's all good and well but if you don't mind, I have a champion to pick."

"What?" 

"Oh, didn't you know?" Touch knew that she didn't, having just arrived. "Glen has sanctioned us into a combat by champions race."  Touch then smiled. "Good luck." 

Penny swore. Where was she going to find a racer to represent her in this race at this short notice? 

 

TEN MINUTES LATER 

"You want me to do what?" Brenda Koek was shocked by the question. And why shouldn't she have been? After the history they had back in October, Brenda was the last person that she expected Penny to ask any favors from. "Why the hell would I be your champion?" 

That was an excellent question as far as Penny was concerned. But she also had an answer. "Because you have nothing to lose." Clearly this wasn't an excellent answer. "C'mon Brenda, can't we leave the past be?" 

"If you're so interested in leaving the past be then why don't you ask Dime?" 

She knew why: Dime currently wasn't speaking to her. Not after humiliating him by knocking him out at Heart-Attack and then defeating him at Festival of the Fall. "I'm asking you." Penny didn't bother mentioning that all the other racers had already been sanctioned into races, including Touch's champion. But Touch had somehow convinced Styles Sithole to race twice. In fact, he was currently performing in the opening race against Latitude (in an effort to earn the right to challenge both the Relay Barons for the titles at the Grand Prix with his partner). This left the remainder of his race for Penny to convince Brenda to be her champion as that race was next. "Look, what can I do to convince you to race for me?"

Brenda sat back, all smug now. "What you can do, Penny, is tell me what's in it for me?"

This was interesting. Penny never knew that Brenda had this side to her. She always assumed with Brenda being the good ol' Christian girl that she couldn't wheel and deal her way into better prospects. "That depends. What do you want? "

 

COMBAT BY CHAMPIONS

As Penny watched the race through a clenched jaw, she thought about Brenda's request. It had been a simple request, yet a monumental task. Brenda wanted Penny to use her considerable influence (as both a monarch and a businesswoman) to convince Moodswing to not only lift the hiring freeze to hire one more racer, but also for that racer specifically to be one of Brenda's choosing. They had sealed the deal with a handshake that Brenda was smart enough to have happened in front of Sherry – the most notorious F-X reporter. 

The race itself was a fast paced display of racing action. Brenda dominated the first half of the race but surrendered the lead to Styles. While Brenda battled back in laps 6 through 8, Styles managed to increase the gap and succeeded in securing the victory. While Styles made his way to the Winner's Circle, Brenda approached an infuriated Penny. 

"Don't think this means that we don't have a deal anymore. You chicken out, I'll make you wear that dress of yours!" 

What!? thought Penny. I am wearing the dress. But Penny didn't have time to waste thinking about threats that didn't make sense and that were also unnecessary as Penny had no intention of chickening out of their handshake deal. Not only did Penny ironically think it was a good idea to get some new blood around here, but she'd also been cautioned by Glen about the responsibilities of being a monarch which included being an example to the other racers. Which meant if she wanted the other racers to honor their words, she would have to honor hers.

As Penny prepared for her demonstration, she saw Solo in the dedicated interview area with Toney about to get something off his chest. After Thawn's words against him in the Winner's Circle last week, Penny wasn't surprised. “When it comes to revenge, beating Dime and JVZ tonight will be small pickings for me. I’d like to aim higher. I’d like to get revenge on Thawn and Stevie. The two of them have been hogging the limelight for far too long, whether they’re enemies or allies. We’re heading into the biggest event on the calendar and I will not become an after thought.”

Penny raised an eyebrow. This looked like the makings of a big time race. It seemed that everyone was ready for the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Penny wasn't just anyone. She was a monarch. She was the Duchess of Drag. So, simply speaking ill of her rival wasn't going to cut it! She needed to prove that she was a leader. She needed to go out there and demonstrate it. 

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 © All stories are Copyright © 2016-2020 by S.T. Kubheka (also known by the pseudonym Bernard "Beesting" Bayede). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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