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Fuel Season 2: Episode 30 – The Crown Jewel

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

In the last episode of the season, the F-X King's mystery opponent scouts her rival...

Monday Night Fuel will return on the 6th of September – Season 3.

24th of May – Season 2

When Devì Pandey woke up, she immediately felt regret. She looked over to the man sharing her bed and sighed. While she'd always found Rao handsome and always enjoyed spending the night with him, their on-again-off-again relationship was becoming exhausting. It was all because of the press. They'd seen them out together last night forcing them to play to their wishes or answer questions about their relationship all month. 

While Devì had since retired from the public eye, Rao was still a star, having attained his breakthrough on Top One's biggest soapie: Paradise Souled. As Devì snuck out of bed and stealthily made her way to the guest room to have a shower, she thought about Rao's celebrity compared to her own. Like her, Rao had decided to go by first name only (feeling his surname of Saxena was somehow not cool enough) but that was where the comparison ended. Where Devì became famous through modeling (from runway to fashion), Rao had chosen acting. Needless to say, they'd both become stars. 

As Devì got dressed, she thought about the past couple of years of her life and how her desire to change who she was had brought her to this moment in her life. While she'd always had money in her life, this wasn't the kind of luxury she'd wanted. She'd settled for fame when in truth, she wanted nothing more than to be royalty. It was her parent's fault for telling her that she was a princess all her life. While that had gotten her laughed at in primary school and an endless number of dates in high school (she was sure her good looks had something to do with that), it had always left her wanting to legitimize the claim. It wasn't until September 7th, two years ago, that she finally found her opportunity.

It was because of this opportunity that she was dressed all in black with a hat, large sunglasses, and a trench coat in an effort to skate under the radar. It was because of this opportunity that she called for a Taxify car to pick her up rather than take the Porsche. Tonight's mission was to go undetected and scout the competition. Tonight was about learning more about her opponent at the Second Formula-X Grand Prix!

 

LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY

It was still an hour before Monday Night Fuel when Devì arrived at the Old Azania Airport, so she fully expected no one to bother her and was surprised when a young woman wearing a passion pink helmet getting off a similar pink motorcycle spoke to her.

"Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?"

Devì was immediately shaken. Crap! The whole idea of coming here was to not get recognized. Her debut was this Sunday not tonight. She was meant to make her first impression to everyone on pay-per-view, NOT in a damned parking lot. Fortunately, she was saved from having to lie her way out of this when someone rudely interrupted them.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the Diamond in the Rough."

"Blackcat Mathunzi," said Stevie, clenching her jaw. "The Master Spell-Castor. So, are you here to say some more nonsense but live and in person this time?"

Blackcat shook his head. "I've said everything I needed to say save for this. Our three-on-two race against me and Fiona, it need not include Fiona. It need not include 'The Cryptic Crusader' nor the 'Host of Boast'. Our race tonight need only be about you and me. What do you say?"

Stevie grinned in a very animated manner. "You want a Hallow's Eve return race?" When Blackcat nodded, she pretended to think about it. "And deny Styles and Touch an epic last hurrah? I don't think so. I kicked your ass before and I'll kick it again but this time alongside two of the best. So suck it up, Spell-Castor."

Before Devì could hear any more from the two, she snuck away making it all the way to the V.I.P. section without being approached. However, she wasn't alone in the old first class terminal waiting area as she recognized two faces having an argument a few seats down. One of those faces had his tongue down a woman's throat while the other face rolled his eyes.

"Excuse me but could we please get back to coming up with a strategy?" said John Kloof trying to get his relay partner for the night to concentrate.

"I've already got a strategy," said Jim Kieck taking a break from making out with his supposed girlfriend.

"Oh, do tell."

"We go to Moodswing and we get him to make our race the feature race of tonight." Jim wore a more serious look on his face now. "Seriously. It's the last episode of the season. We should be going on last, not second to last."

Kloof rolled his eyes. "That's not the strategy I had in mind."

Devì was pulled away from his discussion too when someone put a hand on her shoulder. Devì looked up to see Angela Moodley standing over her. "Fancy seeing you here." She then leaned in close. "I take it you're trying to keep a low profile." When Devì nodded, Angela took a seat and began to whisper. "I'm Angela. I'm a big fan and I've been waiting to meet you since Terrance told me he'd signed you."

"You're a fan of my work?"

"Very much so. I have to say: going from modeling and doing commercials to race-cars driving is quite a big career move. How did you get Terrance to agree to sign you? I can't imagine you have the experience he usually looks for in F-X racers."

"Actually, I've been training in open wheels for the past two years. I racked up quite a number of hours behind the wheel." Devì looked at Angela as if for the first time.

"What?" said Angela, noticing. 

"I'm sorry. It's just, when I pictured Angela Moodley in my head, I expected you to be Indian." Devì gritted her teeth expecting Angela's face to change. "I don't mean to offend," she said quickly.

"No offence taken. And I'm sorry too but when I thought of meeting you in person, I never expected you to be so breathtakingly beautiful. I imagined it being makeup that took you from being a ten to being a twenty." 

Devì blushed. While she'd always known she was beautiful while she was a teenager, she didn't know how ridiculously gorgeous she was until she began getting modeling offers left and right. "Thank you."

"So, are you familiar with the product or do you need a guide for the night?"

"I'm familiar. But I could use the company," said Devì smiling. "So aren't you going to ask me why I wanted to become a racer?"

"Well I thought it was obvious: you want to be a Queen." 

Devì smiled, impressed. It was clear that Angela was quite perceptive. The two of them continued speaking, with Angela letting Devì into the history of the series. Devì was surprised by how much had been left off screen. Admittedly, Devì hadn't kept up to date with the weekly newsletters or frequented the official website so she had no idea about the deeper parts of the rivalries on the show. But one thing that Devì was very interested in hearing about was the Formula-X throne.

"The history of the Formula-X Crown?" said Angela. "Wow, where do I start. Hmm, let me start from the beginning with how it got its name. From the beginning, Moodswing didn't want to call it a championship. He didn't want podiums and he didn't want medals. What he wanted was something that you could only find in this series and something that screamed prestige, hence 'king'. He then named it after the series."

"Was that the same thought that went into the upcoming pay-per-view title?"

"Something like that. It's all about prestige. Moodswing thinks about everything through that lens all the way down to who he'll allow to headline the P.P.V.s. Which makes you debuting in the feature race at his baby a very big deal."

It was true. Devì was debuting in the feature race of the Second Formula-X Grand Prix in the feature race for the Formula-X Crown. It had been a shock to her too when she was first told. "How would you like to debut on the biggest stage of motorsports this side of the equator in the feature race... For the Formula-X Crown?" Devì would have collapsed if she hadn't been sitting already when Moodswing had dropped the question. At first, Devì felt overwhelmed believing she'd done nothing to earn this. Then she changed her mind, realizing that if she could beat the F-X King on the biggest night of the series, then she damn well did deserve it which was when she said 'yes'. It was only afterward that she did an about face and realized the challenge in front of her.

"And speak of the devil," said Angela. At first, Devì thought Angela was reading her mind until she saw that Angela was referring to the big screen showing Solo Magubane, Formula-X King making his way to the speedway. "Some say that he's the franchise player of the series; the greatest racer in the series."

"We'll see about that."

"What, you think you can do better? Because it's one thing to be faster than him but if you wanna be Queen, you have to be a sports entertainer. Did you see Thawn's middle-stage segment at the top of the show?" How could she miss, what with Thawn going on and on about his achievements this season before letting the fandom know that he was going to survive the gauntlet this Sunday. "That part is important too."

Devì understood what Angela was saying and she also understood that she was better than Solo. Devì knew that she could be a better ambassador for the F-X brand. Now what she needed to focus on was Solo's driving skills. And this was her chance to watch and learn. 

 

THE FOUR WAY MATCH RACE

Solo was determined as ever when he got into The Abominable Seduction to prove that he was ready for this Sunday. Part of him wondered if this idea was a crock. How could he possibly be ready for a race against a driver he's never even met!? But Solo put this out of mind and concentrated on Juan van Zonder, Caliber Kid, and Lo-Rez. 

There were stakes in this race. If either of the rookies won, they'd get contracts on the show. Solo led the race throughout the first half only to have JVZ try to take the lead which ended up being hijacked by Caliber Kid. It was all going good until Solo proved why he was King when he overtook the rookie and secured the victory. With doubts still in his mind, Solo charged into the Winner's Circle, still determined but now to speak his mind to his mysterious rival.

"I know you're listening so here it goes: to the driver of The Avatar, I want you to know that in six days time, when you make your debut, you'll be facing not just the man who holds the Crown, but the man who's also the benchmark in the series.  You'll be facing the absolute best. I hope you bring your A game because you'll be on the biggest stage there is. You bring your best because I know I'll bring my best."

 

IN THE V.I.P. AREA

Devì and Angela had just heard Solo's speech in the Winner's Circle. Angela noticed that Devì seemed unmoved by the King's sentiment. "See what I mean about sports entertainment?"

"Yeah, I see. I just wish I could tell him that I will be bringing my best."

"Well, you could. Your contract signing is happening after the next race. You could shock the world and show up at the signing." Angela wore a smile on her face, excited by the mere concept.

Devì was already shaking her head. "No. My lawyer's gonna be there as planned. I'm not showing my face until the pay-per-view."

Angela's face changed. "Oh. Don't wanna show up unless it's a big payday, huh?"

It was true that pay-per-views paid more than appearing on Fuel, but that wasn't what this was about. "No, that's not it. I want them to underestimate me. If he sees me," she took a breath to correct herself, "if they see me before I appear on that racetrack this Sunday, then I lose my psychological edge. So no, I'm letting my lawyer handle tonight."

This earned a smile from Angela who finally stood up. "I think you'll fit in just fine here. Well, it was good meeting you and I wish you luck at the Grand Prix."

 

LATER AFTER FUEL

Devì had to admit that the night was a success. She managed to scout the King perfectly without him even knowing it. Now all she had to do was—

"It's you, isn't it?" Devì didn't have to turn around to know that it was King Solo speaking. They were currently standing in the parking lot where Devì had been waiting for her Taxify driver when Solo called out to her from the entrance 20 meters away. "I know it's you."

"Who exactly do you think I am?"

"Don't play games with me. I don't know what you think you learnt tonight but it doesn't matter. At the Grand Prix, I'm kicking your ass."

"Now that's no way to speak to a lady."

Solo scoffed. "This isn't the girl scouts. And the Grand Prix isn't just some event. It's the crown jewel of what we do here. You made the biggest mistake of your life agreeing to debut in the headlining event of the entire season. This Sunday, you're going down."

Devì didn't say anything and, as if on cue, her lift arrived and she got in. Then, perhaps because she'd been inspired by the nature of sports entertainment, she couldn't resist rolling down her window to lift the veil – literally taking off her disguise – and give Solo the piece of her mind that Angela had been speaking of. "Your Highness, I'm not going anywhere except to the Grand Prix to kick your ass."

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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