28th of February – Season 3
Devì was not new to giving to charity. She knew the game: it was a publicity stunt. Giving to charity had nothing to do with the needy. It was about the person giving money or food making themselves feel better. But if one could get some free publicity from it, then why the hell not. That's why when Savana had challenged her to an exhibition race (the term being Moodswing's idea, not theirs), she said "why not?"
"So," said Beatrix Honeycomb, interrupting Devì's thoughts, "are you ready to begin?"
Devì nodded. In truth, this was the last place that Devì wanted to be. If this was an official interview by Toney or Belinda for the weekly newsletter, that would have been one thing. Instead, she was sitting with Beatrix in the commentary booth (a whole hour before Fuel no less) because Beatrix wanted to add some color to her commentary on the upcoming race: make it a bigger deal than it was.
Beatrix clicked play on an old-fashioned voice recorder before starting. "So, I'm here with Devì, also known as the 'Asian Aphrodite', also known as the 'Daughter of Divinity'..."
"Also known as the first-ever Formula-X Queen," added Devì arrogantly, smirk and all.
"Of course. And she's about to go toe to toe with the 'Saharan Knockout', 'The Dojo' and one half of one of the most popular couples in all of Azania, Savana. Tell us, Devì, how do you feel about that?"
It was a standard question that Devì had answered many times before, but for some reason, the way that Beatrix had asked had triggered something in Devì. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?"
Beatrix was taken aback. "What do you mean? It's a pretty straightforward question."
"I mean the part about Savana being one-half of the most popular couples in Azania?"
Again, Beatrix was taken aback. "Well... Her and Thawn. The Millionaire Affair? It's blown up big time."
Devì rolled her eyes. "Oh give me a break. Beatrix, tell me you're not seriously buying into that. It's all make-believe," said Devì in her most convicted tone. "They're not really in love. They're just using each other. Although, I'd say Thawn's using her more than she using him.
"Their whole relationship is classic sports entertainment. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Moodswing put them up to it."
"Doubtful," said Beatrix under her breath. When she saw the look Devì was giving her, she elaborated. "Let's just say that Moodswing has other things on his mind."
Of course, Devì knew exactly what Miss Honeycomb was talking about: the ongoing rivalry between Club President, Moodswing and the Club VP, Glenwood Jacobs. With the impending committee election coming up fast, it was such a shock for everyone when Moodswing introduced a plot twist and used the Formulary to do it when he revealed that, as Club President, he had a unique power: he could postpone the committee election. And this is exactly what Moodswing did... indefinitely.
"All that aside, it doesn't mean that their relationship isn't fake."
"Well real or not real, they're making waves making my next question: what are you going to do about it?"
Savana put on her best smile as she waited for Beatrix to click the play button, but the reality was that she was pissed. Beatrix had opted to start with the 'Asian Aphrodite' rather than her. Did Beatrix not know that she was mainstream news now?
"So I'm here with 'The Dojo', Savana: arguably the most popular woman on this island..."
"Who's arguing that? Devì?"
Beatrix looked like a deer in the headlines. "Excuse me?"
"What did you two talk about? Was it me? Pray tell, what unflattering things did that mannequin have to say about me? Did she give you the impression that I was some bimbo being used by Thawn? Because let me tell you something–"
"Actually, we were speaking about your race, if you must know, particularly why you didn't make this challenge for Festival of the Fall. Lord knows it would have been a big-time race." Beatrix let that sink in before pushing forward. "So why didn't you challenge her for the pay-per-view?"
Savana didn't answer immediately, remembering what Thawn had taught her about owning the room, and maintaining control of the discussion. "Thawn and I have other plans for the pay-per-view." When Beatrix went for the most obvious question, Savana cut her off. "No, I don't care to share."
Ironically, this had not been the plan. Thawn had specifically okayed her to drop hints that they'd be targeting Jim Kieck and Brenda Koek for the PPV, aiming to start a slow methodical build to the race. But now that the discussion had veered this way, they were going to have to alter the plan, reshape the narrative.
"Okay, if you won't tell us that, maybe you can tell us this: why are you racing and Thawn isn't?"
Savana was again annoyed and this time she let it show. "You should know Thawn by now. He's the 'Impaler': he never likes letting people know what he's thinking. And you should thank him for it," she said, smirking. "It keeps things unpredictable around here."
If only Savana knew that unpredictable would become the theme of the night.
MINUTES BEFORE MONDAY NIGHT FUEL
At first, no one knew what on earth was going on when the show seemingly kicked off four minutes early. But it didn't take long for the fandom and the other F-X racers alike to realize that someone was going rogue on the mic, letting out his frustrations.
"You know what, I'm sick of this," said Dime, not giving a damn about due process. "I'm so sick of this. When I first got hired by Formula-X, particularly on Monday Night Fuel, I was told that this place was different. I was told that it was different to championship racing because you'd never get lost in the pack in a race. I was told that it was different because everybody would get a chance to shine. Well, I haven't."
If one couldn't tell that Dime wasn't supposed to be speaking right now, it was a dead giveaway seeing him standing on the racetrack rather than the middle stage. One had to wonder why his microphone hadn't been cut off yet. Was this Moodswing once again rolling with it for the sake of drama? Dime continued. "It's clear to me now that someone like me will never get a shot at the Crown because I'M NOT A FEATURE-RACER! And that's a bunch of bull! If this place really gives a chance to everyone then give—"
"Enough. Enough, enough, enough." It wasn't Moodswing who spoke these words but rather the F-X Queen herself: Darcy 'The Diamond' Stevens. "Dime, this is all very dramatic; very cowboy of you. But all you had to do is ask. If you want a shot at the title, well now you have it. One condition: the race is next!"
It was only after this that the show truly began as the title sequence kicked in. As it did, Savana couldn't help but be amazed by the balls on Dime. It was tragic that gay people didn't get enough credit as gutsy in society. Savana also wondered if Dime could do it? Could he pull off an upset and become the new Formula-X King? Unfortunately, Savana doubted it. But what an upset it would be. And the funny thing about this turn of events was that the race had accidentally turned the night into the 'night of monarchs' as all the other titles were already set to be defended. As Savana thought about this, she caught sight of someone staring daggers through her...
Devì couldn't take his eyes off of her opponent and someone had noticed. "Wow. If looks could kill." Devì recognized the voice but didn't believe it until she turned around to find Ken Khumalo, Captain of the Academy standing in front of her. "Captain Khumalo." It took a moment for Devì to overcome the surprise. "What brings you down to the trenches?"
"Well, it's not every day that we have a race where the proceeds are going to charity. And considering that this race is between two people who could care less about charity, it had me curious."
"Wow. I knew you hated me but isn't this hitting below the belt."
"You see, that's your first mistake right there, Devì: thinking that I've been criticizing you personally. It's your racing style that I've had a problem with. Not to mention your entitled attitude."
"But if it makes you feel better, I think you've finally met your match." Both of their eyes moved across the paddock to Savana. "So, I look forward to seeing who comes out on top."
While Devì was still not pleased with the Captain, she couldn't help but smile. "Be careful what you wish for, Captain. You might not like the result."
Thawn was upset. Savana had seen this look on him before. It was kind of cute. At least it became so after she'd figured out a way to deal with it: sexy smiling. This time, however, Thawn seemed to be fighting the urge to get over it... a losing fight.
"Okay, we can fix this. We can fix this. We just have to change the narrative." He balled his hands into fists. "We have to make people think that they're together."
"We can't force them to date, Thawn. Isn't them being a relay team enough?"
Thawn was already shaking his head. "No. Listen to me, Jim and Brenda were the first racer couple this series ever saw, whether they were legit or not. People need to be reminded of that so that when we beat them, we inherit their popularity, understand?"
"Actually I do," said Savana, lying. "So what's our next move?"
Thawn thought for a moment before seeing two people across the paddock and smiled. "Our next move is to create some family drama. Go get ready for your race. I've got this."
Thawn was already walking away to put his plan in motion and it worried Savana that she's wasn't worried seeing him head towards Brenda, Doris, and Teresa Koek who, as had been the case for months now, were arguing. Do I want to know what's this man is about to do? Now it was time for her race. As she got ready, she wondered if Beatrix's interviews would really add any color.
LATER THAT NIGHT: COMMENTARY
After having both done their best to get the best out of the two competitors, Captain Khumalo and Miss Honeycomb were ready to call the action. "And ladies and gentlemen, here we go with our main event of the night. As you know, all proceeds will be going to charity."
"That's right, Miss Honeycomb. And now, let's get on with it." Not a minute later, the red lights went off and it was on. "And would you look at that. Devì has taken the lead in the early goings, looking to show that the 'Saharan Knockout' is still a rookie."
"That's right. Remember folks, 'The Dojo' debuted just three short months ago. But she's been on the rise ever since then, managing to defeat the likes of the reigning Duchess of Drag, Plain Jane Deyi, and former F-X King, Solo Magubane in the span of two weeks."
"But never count out the 'Asian Aphrodite', Miss Honeycomb. Don't forget, she's the first woman to hold the Formula-X Crown... As she loves to remind everyone." Suddenly there was a stir from the crowd. "Oh-oh, it looks like the former Queen might have made a mistake as Savana has managed to find a gap, but can she capitalize?"
She didn't, as the race continued with Devì in the lead. As the race continued in laps 3, 4, 5 and 6, Miss Honeycomb did her job as color commentator by informing the listeners of the racer's motivation, touching on Devì's jealousy over Savana's newfound popularity and Savana's hunger to climb the ladder. She also made a point to mention the part Thawn played in all of it.
It was only in Lap 7 that Savana showed that her motivation might outweigh Devì's. "Oh and there it is folks. Savana has finally managed to overtake the 'Daughter of Divinity' and in what fashion. But can she hang onto it for the victory with another seven laps to go?" While Laps 7 through 11 saw Savana firmly in the lead, it was the last two laps – 12 and 13 – that saw the two competing, fighting over the lead. "Now this is what I've wanted to see from Devì when she was Queen," said the Captain. "Some of that ferocious dueling. I wanted to see teeth."
"Well Devì might have teeth, but I think Savana has grown fangs as she recaptures that lead here going into the penultimate lap. But I hear that hanging out with 'The Impaler' can do that for you." Indeed, Savana had regained control of the race, and this time, she hung onto the lead to convert it into a victory. The fandom showed their respect for the race by cheering for both women. It had been a tremendous race, truly worthy of the main event of the episode.
As Savana headed off to the Winner's Circle for her victory interview, Devì was surprised when she was met outside the paddock for her own interview. This was rare for Monday Night Fuel as it was accepted practice not to make the losers feel worse by giving them a losers interview. But alas, tonight's First Class Exhibition called for different rules.
While Devì answered the standard questions – doing better with the one about how she felt – when asked about what was next, she singled out one man. "Well I know one person who's been looking for redemption for a few weeks and, well, I need the press for my new fitness app – something I was hoping I'd used tonight's win to promote. So maybe 'The Franchise' can spare a moment to get off his couch and face me at Festival of the Fall. What do you say, Solo Magubane?"