27th of September – Season 3
Penny Potgieter had never really liked weddings. They were a mess to organize because the people getting married always thought they knew better than her. In the end, it was always an elaborate celebration for people who didn't deserve it that didn't mean anything afterward. It kind of reminded Penny of another celebration that was happening tonight... Queen Stevie's Coronation.
It was tradition now that when a new King (or in this case, Queen) was crowned at a pay-per-view, the following episode of Fuel would open with the new King or Queen being coronated. And tonight was Stevie's turn and Penny was not happy about that. She was seven years younger than her and this was her first title. On the contrary, Penny had been on Fuel just as long as Stevie and had competed in the relay division and the drag race division. She'd won the Duchess of Drag title a record three times.
Unlike the new Queen, Penny wasn't gifted with the status of feature-racer the moment she showed up. She hadn't been offered the chance to headline a pay-per-view within months of her debut. Instead, Penny had started from the bottom and worked her way to where she was. And after two whole seasons, she was ready to become a feature-racer. In fact, she had a plan to take down Devì and take her Crown. But that was out of the window now.
Penny was really upset which was ironic as she watched the groom and bride say "I do" and kiss to fanfare. It's a shame that all these people don't know what it took to get this perfect moment, thought Penny. But thinking of perfect moments, Penny thought of that moment when she'd capture the Crown. But to make this moment come true, she'd need to alter her plan. Fortunately, she'd established a year ago that she had a bit of a Darth Vader within her...
AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
By the time Penny arrived at the Fuel Speedway, she'd figured it out. It occurred to her that she needed to put a spin on this whole thing. While she had a tactical plan in place: win a Derby; win some big PPV races and maybe even a Gauntlet Race and climb to the top of the 'line of succession', she realized that she now needed a marketing plan. And now she had one: "The Formula-X Women's Revolution".
It hadn't escaped Penny's notice that since the end of the last season, the women in Formula-X were on a roll. And if Penny's plan worked and Stevie's reign was more impressive than Devì's then this season could really belong to them. In fact, Penny's plan was banking on that because tonight, she was going to call the shot and announce it into being. Although Penny wondered if revolution was the right word. She'd have to think of something else because Toney had caught up to her just outside the paddock, awaiting the interview that she'd requested.
They exchanged greetings before Toney dug into it. "So Penny, following your success at Arbour Games where you defeated John Kloof in a One Kilometer Derby where he stakes any claim for the Crown for the next four months, how are you feeling about the rest of the season?"
Penny smiled. "Well, it's funny that you ask that Toney because I've been thinking a lot about my future and where I'm going this season. Do I return to the relay division; do I continue in the drag racing division or do I aim for something else?"
"And, what answer did you come up with?"
"Well, that's for me to know and for you to find out. But just know that Penny Potgieter is on her way to the top this season."
"That's a bold statement, don't you think?"
Penny shook her head, disagreeing. "Not the way I see it."
"And how exactly is that?"
"Well I’m looking at all the success stories that are going on in the F-X Series right now and all the women who are dominating and I’m thinking that maybe, maybe this season is the Season of the Women’s Revolution. No," said Penny, settling on a better name, "the 'Women's Dynasty'."
"Oh what a bunch of bull." The vile words that were spoken had been uttered by Thawn Oberhauser who had been eavesdropping. He decided – to Penny's utter annoyance – to interrupt the interview, grabbing Toney's microphone. "I'm sorry but I couldn't help but overhear this crap and I had to interject."
"I'm sure you did," said Penny not-so-under her breath.
"Just because a few women in the series had a couple of fluke wins at round about the same time, it doesn't mean that we're in the middle of a sports dynasty. That's not how that works."
"Oh well, I'm sure you're well versed in how not to have a dynasty."
Thawn scoffed. "Now before you call me anti-feminist because I know you want to, I suggest you prove that this dynasty of yours really exists by going THROUGH ME!"
There it was. There was the challenge. Unfortunately, Penny wasn't going to allow Thawn to upstage him in her own interview and didn't dignify his challenge with a response and instead simply walked away. However, what Thawn didn't know was that she loved the idea of facing Thawn. She'd accept his challenge but on her terms and only if it happened on pay-per-view.
LATER THAT NIGHT
It was only halfway through the night and 'the Women's Dynasty' was already trending on the Formulary. While Penny was playing reserve tonight, she'd decided to stick around in order to keep her eye on her new rival: 'The Impaler'. But before that, she'd watched the new Queen being coronated complete with a speech. "This moment is three seasons in the making. I have been chasing this Crown since even before Monday Night Fuel was born. So know this, I will defend this Crown, this Throne with pride and honor and I will build on the foundation that's been set by those before me including my immediate predecessor, Devì."
It was at that point that the only former Formula-X Queen, Devì walked out to a chorus of boos and took the mic from the new Queen only to congratulate her. While the live crowd clapped for her, Penny recognized the move as being less about class and more about managing her image: a form of damage control. But she wasn't the only one trying to do damage control. The other was none other than the Club President's wife, Angela Moodley.
Her problems had started last week when she'd come bursting out of Moodswing's office, clearly not having liked something he'd said and made the mistake of stopping when Sherry Detwiler – an F-X reporter in perpetual search for a scandal – made her presence known. And she'd had a camera phone with her. "You guys think that man is something special, but let me tell you a little something about your beloved Club President. That man is a criminal. This illustrious empire, it was built on a lie." While Moodswing would come out of his office to try and put an end to the impromptu interview, Angela's rant would continue. "I remember a time when you were the best racer ever to get into an engine. But that time came to an end, or have you forgotten? I will not be embarrassed by a criminal."
Tonight, Angela was singing a different tune, to a different reporter: Belinda Baartjies. "While what I said was true, I will admit that there’s some context missing. I might have been a little loose with my past and present tenses." When Belinda asked if she was recanting, Angela shook her head. "No, absolutely not. I’m just respecting the fact that while I’m angry with my husband and would love to embarrass him the way he’s embarrassing me, I can’t take it out on this franchise." Belinda then took a chance and asked about the secret history of the franchise... the one no one talked about. "I can tell you that despite the illegal nature of what happened, it didn’t take away from the achievements and experience that many racers gained. Hell, there are Kings and Queens in this franchise that owe a debt to their time from this so-called ‘Era Before’."
And that was how the 'Women's Dynasty' trend was replaced by 'Era Before' to Penny's complete err. But it was quickly replaced by the hashtag 'Formula-X Cup' which was one of Moodswing's latest inventions that involved the racers being nominated into a race that would take place at the Year-End Bash. But was two months away. Penny needed to focus on the present. And her present was Thawn Oberhauser and tonight he was taking on Styles Sithole in an effort to complete part two of his revenge tour following his loss in Gauntlet IV at the Second Formula-X Grand Prix.
OBERHAUSER vs. STYLES SITHOLE
Thawn was smiling when he got to the start line, awaiting Styles as if he knew that he was going to win. Styles was more determined when he arrived. They both stood at the ready and were off the line fast eager to capture the lead early. Penny was amused watching them scramble over first position. With nothing at stake and nine more laps to go, there was no reason to fight over the lead so early. But they continued doing this right through to Lap 4 before Thawn allowed Styles to take the lead.
Penny didn't take this lightly as she studied her next opponent. She wondered if the reason he did this was because she knew that Styles' strength came from his attacking ability rather than his defending ability. Indeed, it seemed that way as Laps 5 through 8 had Styles leading but also had Thawn continuously teasing an overtake without actually taking the gaps that he'd created... that was until Lap 9 when Thawn finally pulled the trigger and defended his new lead vigorously, preventing Styles from pulling one of his signature power slides and secured the victory.
It was at that point, satisfied with her research that Penny packed up her things, not caring for Thawn's victory speech in the Winner's Circle. "Well honestly, it feels like just another day in the office; the box office that is. Look, I'm just doing what I said I was going to do..." That was the last thing Penny heard before leaving.