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HomeDrama Stories Fuel Season 2: Episode 23 – Where the Pretenders Fall Off

Fuel Season 2: Episode 23 – Where the Pretenders Fall Off

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

In order to get one last crack at Penny's Duchess of Drag title, Dime must win a One K.M. Derby...

Sports Operas, like soap operas before them, have multiple storylines happening at once. On Monday Night Fuel, all F-X racers are main characters.

15th of March – Season 2

"Well, well, well. We meet again. You know, the last time you came to my office, hours before the show, you were conspiring to take Touch Mkhize's title. But considering that you're currently top of the division, I can't figure out what you could possibly be doing in my office."

Indeed, the last time she was in his office, had been in October and he had been in a worse off mood. "I'm here about Dime. I need to get the man off my back once and for all and I was hoping that you might have some nefarious way of doing just that."



Dime made a face as he watched the drama on the middle-stage unfold. Currently, Formula-X King, Solo Magubane and Number One Claimant, Thawn Oberhauser were being forced apart by Moodswing, enforcing his rule about there being no physical fighting between racers. Instead, the Club President opted to let them chose champions for a race. Something he liked to call 'Combat by Champions'. Dime smiled.

For weeks now, Dime had been complaining about being under-utilized on the racecard but this was his chance. If he could convince either King Solo or Thawn to pick him then not only would he have a race but it would be a high-profile race, possibly even the feature race. However, when the King entered the paddock he made a bee-line for Jim Kieck, clearly having no one else in mind but him. Dime swore. But it wasn't over yet. He quickly made his way across the paddock so that when Thawn entered, he was the first person 'The Box Office' saw.

"Hey Thawn, you got a minute?"

"This should be good," said Thawn.

Dime's shoulder's slumped. "Oh c'mon. Don't just assume it's gonna be bad."

"Is it ever good with you? I've heard what you've been saying all over The Formulary. Whining, complaining about how the committee is doing all sorts of wrong by you; saying you deserve another shot at the Duchess and what have you. Well, I want nothing to do with that."

Dime rolled his eyes. "Well as far as small talk goes, this definitely sucks. So let me just get to the point: I want to be your guy." When Thawn's eyes popped open, remembering that he was gay, Dime elaborated for the idiot. "Your champion; I want to be your champion."

Thawn had to physically keep himself from laughing by covering his face with his hand. "No can do."

"Why? Do you have someone else in mind?" Dime knew that he didn't... that he was just saying no because he didn't want him as his champion.

However, Thawn surprised him by pointing at the big screen where a vignette was playing. It was clearly a recording of something that took place earlier in the week because the people sitting in a boardroom (that Dime recognized as being in the Formula-X Racing Clubhouse) were Mandla Xulu and John Kloof... who were currently standing in the paddock. On screen, they were discussing their upcoming 12 Rounds Derby and the money in the pot: a cool R28 000 comprised of a combined PPV performance earnings of R13 000 and the money they agreed to add as their stakes of a R15 000 earning a whistle from the other racers in the paddock. That was a payday.

Suddenly Dime found himself even jealous of John Kloof who was only doing this to earn money for his family. What I would do to be involved in a race that high profile. As if on cue, Dime was suddenly approached by the Club Vice President. Glen gestured for the closest F-X reporters and the cameraman to turn their attention to what he was about to say. Dime looked at him puzzled. "What's up, Glen?"

From the get-go, Glen looked reluctant to make his announcement but made it anyway. "Tonight, you and Penny are going to be racing in a One Kilometer Derby and I am going to tell you what you and she are going to stake. If you win tonight, you will get a shot at her title. But if she wins, you can never challenge her as long as she's Duchess of Drag. Do you understand?"

Dime believed he understood. "So she stakes a future title shot and I stake any claim to the title? I think I get it." Glen nodded and turned to leave. "Just one thing, Glen. When's this race, excuse me, Derby taking place?"

Glen stopped for a second, turned around and barely met his eye. "Your race is next."

Dime swore.



It didn't take a genius to know that this had been Penny's doing. Dime had heard about what Penny had done to Touch to attain her current reign, talking to Moodswing behind the scenes and getting a title race sanctioned and only telling Touch at the last possible minute. Well, Dime had opted not to follow Touch's line by confronting her head-on before the race. Instead, he remembered something that King Solo had said just two weeks ago about why it was called Festival of the Fall: 'on the highway to the Grand Prix, this was where the pretenders fell off'. If there were truer words than that in Formula-X, Dime didn't know what they were. But in order to prove he wasn't a pretender, he was going to have to get there first.

When the gun went off that started the race, Dime took off with a start. The race wasn't a long one so Dime made sure to jockey for position as soon as possible. He cycled through his gears the same as Penny and inched ahead as they approached the far turn. Dime maintained the discipline of his actions, remembering that there was nothing more that he wanted than to put Penny in her place. They cornered the homestretch bend and Dime smiled when he noticed he was in the lead. While it was only inches, it was enough as he crossed the line and thus cementing his title shot. He'd done it. He'd derailed Penny's plan.



Following his Winner's Circle interview, Dime returned to the paddock all smiles. He was so excited that he didn't care to watch the Gauntlet Runner, Styles Sithole take on both Relay Barons, Longitude & Latitude in a 2-on-1 as a taste of the upcoming Gauntlet III: No Holds Barred. As the race went on, he saw Penny collecting her things and couldn't help but go over to her.

"So how does it feel to fail, Duchess?" When Penny looked at her as dumbfounded as Thawn had before, Dime elaborated. "Your plan to remove me as a challenger for your title went up in smoke."

"Oh, is that so? And what about my contingency plan?"

"What contingency plan?" asked Dime.

Penny smiled and shook her head, smug as ever. "Oh Dime, still so small-minded." Then, as if she planned it, Penny pointed to the big screen where it showed Moodswing making his way onto the middle-stage for an announcement.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Formula-X has just finished signing a new racer to the series who will make their debut at Festival of the Fall. Not only will the arrival of this new racer not see any familiar faces leave," said Moodswing as everyone in the paddock turned to look at Fiona before turning back to the screen, "but they will also be in action at the upcoming P.P.V. You see, as a condition of him signing with us, our newest recruit was allowed to conduct an open challenge which, just earlier today, was answered by none other than reigning Duchess of Drag, Penny Potgieter."

As Moodswing continued, revealing that their race would be a drag race for her title, it dawned on Dime that Penny had screwed him again. "What the hell is this? What does he mean the new guy is facing you for the title? That's my title shot."

"Looks like someone didn't read the fine print in the proverbial contract. Well, let me tell you what it says." She bent closer to him, purposefully invading his personal space. "It says that dictate when we have our race as long as it takes place this season." Penny waited for Dime's face to read as shocked. "So it looks like you'll have to wait until I'm good and ready, Dime." Penny then walked off, laughing as she made her way to the middle-stage to join Moodswing.

Dime was shaking with fury. How had this happened? He'd somehow landed in a worse position than when the night started. Seeing Mandla and Jim Kieck go out there for their 'Combat by Champions' race only made Dime feel even more slanted. Seeing King Solo by Jim's side only reminded Dime of his iconic words. If I'm not going to even appear at Festival of the Fall, does that make me less than a pretender? Dime didn't know. All he did know was that when the time came, even if it was the very last episode of the season, Dime was going to make Penny pay. Come hell or high water, she was going to pay!



It was now the dead of night as two scheming individuals – a man and a woman – sat in a dimly lit office, discussing the events of the night over a drink. The man swirled the golden alcohol with a smooth gesture of the wrist, making the single ice cube jingle. "Sorry the plan didn't come together the way you wanted."

"It doesn't matter. The contingency worked out like a charm."

He smiled. "So, how long are you going to keep him on a leash for? Because I'm assuming you're not going to want him as an opponent at the Grand Prix, assuming, of course, that you still have your—"

"Oh, I'll still have it. I'll bet money on that. As for that fool, you're right, I'm not going to waste my last opportunity to shine this season on him." She thought for a moment, bobbing her head at her options. "I guess if I wanna be nice, I'll face him at Sunday Night Easter. If not, he'll have to wait til the last episode of Fuel."

He smiled, raising his glass of single malt scotch. "I'll drink to that."

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than 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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