20th of September – Season 3
As Darcy Stevens looked over the edge of the pier, looking out at the ocean watching the sun set, she thought about the night ahead and how nervous she was. She only had one shot at doing this right and it was all riding on her winning tonight.
“I haven’t seen you come out here in a long while.”
Stevie turned around to see her brother, Pieter ‘Tar’ Stevens. He was dressed in Navy Dress Blues. “You’ve been deployed?” Tar nodded. “But I thought you were on liberty?” Stevie remembered the military jargon that Tar used to bother her about when they were kids with liberty meaning leave.
“Well, you know me, always want to be part of the action.”
Stevie did know him. Tar had wanted to join the Navy since he was a little boy and when he was finally of age, he’d had his application been rejected over and over again. When he’d eventually been accepted, he’d become inseparable from his commission, so much so that he had to be forced to go on liberty.
Stevie looked at the time. “Then what are you still doing here. Surely your ship is going to leave you.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to leave without saying goodbye to my baby sister and also making sure she’s in the right headspace for her big race. I know you’re nervous, Stevie.”
“Does that surprise you?” Stevie knew that Tar was confident in her abilities on the racetrack.
“Considering everything that you’ve achieved so far, yes, I am. Stevie, you’re the most talented racer, female or otherwise. I don’t care who’s wearing the Crown.”
“Ah,” said Stevie, holding up a finger. “You’re making the fatal mistake that many before have made of looking past Styles Sithole. Mandla did that and look what happened last week.”
“Oh, so he’s who you’re worried about. I assumed you were looking ahead to the pay-per-view.”
Stevie shook her head. “Styles has this habit of performing at his best when he needs to get to the dance. He did it to get to Gauntlet Three and he did it again to win the gauntlet and earn a shot at the title last season. It’s at the dance where he comes short.” Styles had famously failed to win the Crown at last season’s Sunday Night Easter.
“So, you’re worried because you’re basically facing Styles at his best tonight.”
Stevie nodded. “It doesn’t help that I’ve lost to him in a similar situation before.” Stevie remembered losing a race to him when they were both trying to qualify to be the gauntlet runner for Gauntlet III.
“Well, this is different, Stevie. You’ve grown as a competitor. Just look at what you’ve achieved since then. You’ve won a Derby and you became the first racer to break a gauntlet. And on the biggest stage in the franchise. That’s a big deal. So this is what I want you to do: keep your head up, show them your stuff, and most importantly,” he said pausing dramatically, “win.”
AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
When Stevie arrived at the Fuel Speedway, she was informed that her race would be going on last tonight, giving Stevie enough time to actually enjoy the show. As Stevie settled down in the paddock, she took the opportunity to check out the other racers and marveled at how much had changed just from the beginning of last season to the beginning of this one.
First, there were the new racers including Temper Kunene, Blackcat Mathunzi, and Fiona not to mention the F-X Queen herself. There was also eighteen-year-old Teresa Koek’s arrival this season which served as a catalyst for the edgier image of the three Koek sisters. Low-cropped tops and short shorts and mini skirts were quickly becoming the norm for them. In fact, Stevie recently something on the Formulary that they were running a poll of what to wear under their race suits at Arbour Games with bikinis being the leading option.
The other thing that had changed since last season was the sheer amount of drama which Stevie thought was impossible considering last season’s drama highs. They were only three episodes deep into the season and already John Kloof and Penny Potgieter were gearing up for a One Kilometer Derby (with their contract signing set to take place tonight); Mandla and Touch Mkhize were heading for an epic encounter at Arbour Games and Blackcat and Fiona had just accepted a challenge from Longitude & Longitude.
However, not all the drama was in regard to the budding rivalries as indicated by the unholy thunderous slap delivered from Queen Devì to Jim Kieck that led to Glen Jacobs sanctioning a once-off race between the two. But not everything was so dramatic as there was some comedy too and Moodswing had made sure to have it captured by the F-X camera crew.
Temper Kunene and Dime had formed something of a team this season but Temper’s anger problems had caused something of a problem leading Dime to enter them into anger management classes, which was what Stevie and the others were watching on the big screens. And the results were something out of Leon Schuster’s Panic Mechanic which included Dime trying to get Temper to open up, lighten up and even crack up to no avail.
As Stevie watched the opening race – which saw John Kloof teaming up with the returning Juan van Zonder facing off with one-time reuniting of Penny & Dime, she watched Teresa curiously, noting how she was completely smitten with JVZ before the race and couldn’t take her eyes off of him during the race. She wondered if there was something going on there.
After Kloof and JVZ knocked off their opponents, Touch defeated Brenda Koek in a race where if he lost, he would not compete at Arbour Games. It was after this race that she saw Styles doing his best to look confident and decided to confront the man.
“Hey Crusader. You were looking a little lonely, so I thought I’d come say hi.”
Styles managed a smile. “You know we’re supposed to be opponents tonight, right?” Stevie shrugged. “So, this would be the part where you tell me why I have no chance in hell of winning that you will be going on to Arbour Games to face Devì and capture the Crown?”
“Why would I say all that?” Especially since they’re no cameras on us, unlike last week in the Winner’s Circle.
This time Styles shrugged. “It’s basically what Mandla did last week.”
Stevie rolled her eyes. While she wanted to say she couldn’t believe it, she actually could as she was well aware of Mandla’s ego and penchant for mind games. “Well, I think we can forego such bravado. We know each other well enough to know to leave it all on the racetrack.”
“Preach sister. I’m half-convinced that everyone is provoking each other and escalating things on purpose just to get attention.” It was clear that he was talking about Touch Mkhize and Mandla Xulu’s spat on Touching Base last week.
Stevie thought about it. “I wouldn’t be shocked if Moodswing secretly announced a bonus for anyone who creates the most controversy in the shortest amount of time.” They both laughed. Stevie thought about something. “Do you think you could do it though? If you beat me, do you think you could defeat Devì and win the Crown?”
Styles pondered the question before turning it around. “Do you think you can defeat her?”
At that moment, the Formula-X Queen came out to a mixed response to face Jim Kieck in her race, and in that instant that Stevie knew in her heart that she could beat her… she could beat the new F-X Queen, Devì. “Hell yes, I can.”
LATER IN THE CAFETERIA
After watching Devì pick up her second victory in just as many appearances on Monday Night Fuel, Stevie had decided to get something to eat. Not in the mood for her favorite treat of coconut-covered snowballs, she decided to go to Catering for a sandwich. It was there that she found Penny sitting with Doris, finishing her meal.
“I don’t know, Potgieter. Your plan sounds a bit convoluted,” said Doris. “I mean, why don’t you just step up an challenge her.”
“Because I want to build up my credentials. If I just challenge her, she can just say no. But if I go at her with a One Kay-Em Derby win, maybe a gauntlet win and a couple more pay-per-view wins, then I’ll be undeniably a challenger. And moreover, by that time, I’ll be intimidating to the bitch.”
Stevie flinched. “Why did you have to call her a bitch, Penny.”
Penny didn’t even bother turning around. “I’m sorry. I don’t remember inviting you into this conversation, Stevens.”
Doris was less antagonistic when she spoke to Stevie. “Do you have a different opinion on the sex symbol being our champion? I mean, her only qualification for headlining the Grand Prix was her good looks.”
“And yet that same-sex symbol beat our best racer. She took on ‘The Franchise’ of this series and she beat him and yet it doesn’t count.” Stevie was now at their table. “Now I have no love for our Queen. I want nothing more than to win tonight and go on to beat her at Arbour Games but until I do, I’m not going to put another female racer down. Not when she currently represents the cream of the crop.”
“Whoa, hold on right you twenty-one-year-old, know-nothing, still-wet-behind-the-ears princess. Don’t stand there and tell me that I should respect her simply because she’s a woman. Now I get that women should not be putting down other women, not in this day and age, but at the end of the day, this is sports entertainment, emphasis on sports meaning respect is earned.”
“And haven’t I earned it, huh.” The words spoken by the woman entering the cafeteria silenced all three women at the table. Devì commanded the room by nonchalantly walking past them, placing an order for a bacon-avocado salad and then opening a can of coke. “Don’t mind me, ladies. Continue.”
It was Doris who broke their silence. “Well don’t look at me to say something different. I definitely don’t respect you. I know Penny has no love for you with her epic plan to take you down. Maybe if you ask Stevie here to kiss your ass, you might have a little luck.”
The Queen looked from Doris to Penny then to Stevie, not losing a smirk she’d been wearing since she walked in. “Hmm. Well, you ladies should know that I’m not easily insulted. As for you, little miss Diamond in the Rough, if you win tonight, we’ll be having our contract signing and press conference right after Fuel. So, keep your game face on, bitch.”
BAM! It was sheer luck that Stevie managed to avert her instinct in time to redirect her slap to Devì’s drink instead of her face, avoiding being suspended. It was just happy fate that the drink spilt onto her leather-cropped jacket. Not backing down, Stevie closed the gap between them, her face now inches from the Queen’s still smirking face.
“Now you listen here bitch,” said Stevie earning a smile from Penny and Doris. “After I win tonight, I’m coming for you and that Crown and you won’t be able to stop me.” With the last word, Stevie stormed off, now hellbent on defeating Styles and advancing to Arbour Games to take that Crown. Devì was going down.