4th of October – Season 3
"So tonight you take on the Formula-X Queen, huh?"
Thawn took note of Jeremiah's tone. "No, tonight I take out the Formula-X Queen," responded Thawn, specifying. It was the final part of what he called his revenge tour for retribution for his loss at the Second Formula-X Grand Prix in Gauntlet IV.
While Thawn had planned this since the first episode of the season, he hadn't expected part of his plan to include facing the F-X Queen but as far as he was concerned, all the better. Surely if he won, he'd jump to the top of the 'line of succession'.
Zachariah – Jeremiah's brother and colleague – interrupted Thawn's thoughts by making a loud wolf whistle sound, cocking his head looking at something making it clear that it was something to do with a woman. His next comment proved it. "I tell you, man, these koeksisters are smoking hot, man." Zack was looking at the front page of the latest issue of the Formula-X newsletter. "How do you even concentrate in that paddock?"
Thawn didn't flinch. While he wanted to roll his eyes, he refrained because as much as this annoyed him, at least they weren't belittling his passion. "I'm a professional, that's how."
"Well, you're a strong man, my friend." While Jeremiah and Zachariah continued to talk about Brenda, Doris and even the 18-year-old Teresa, Thawn kept thinking about becoming Number One Claimant. Currently, both Touch Mkhize and Mandla Xulu had been making an argument on the Formulary all week about why they should be the next challenger for Stevie's title. But Thawn couldn't buy it.
Neither of these two had the box office drawing power that he did. He didn't have the nickname of 'The Box Office' for nothing. In fact, by the time he'd knocked off work, he was in the headspace of proving why he was called that.
AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
Thawn was a happy man when he got to the paddock and saw the racecard. His race with Queen Stevie was going on last... Exactly how where it should be. He should be the talk of the town. He should be what everyone waits all night to see. Unfortunately, while he was the main event of the night, something else was what everyone was talking about... the Speedway Derby.
The Speedway Derby was the third type of contest to be called a derby (after the One K.M. and 12 Rounds) and no one knew why. No one knew what the endgame of all this was but at least now they knew that there was an endgame. It also explained the new speed trap cameras that had been installed around the race track before the season had begun. Perhaps that's why it was the only thing anyone could talk about.
Thawn's mood wasn't improved when he saw a familiar face across the paddock and immediately made a bee-line for her. "Well if it isn't the 'Dollar Sign Girl' playing reserve once again. You're building yourself something of a streak there, Penny."
Penny didn't react, barely even looking at Thawn. "Or perhaps I'm pacing myself; getting some well-deserved rest before I take on my next challenge."
Those words got to Thawn. Penny hadn't accepted his challenge from last week yet, and her implying that she was still contemplating it was insulting. "There's only one person you need to be thinking about facing and that's me. So why don't you stop playing games and accept my challenge."
Penny smiled. She actually smiled. "Thawn, don't you think you have enough on your mind? Because I know I do." She pointed at the big screen which showed Queen Stevie making her way to the middle-stage for some kind of public address.
For once, Thawn wasn't worried about what Stevie was going to say but rather what interest Penny had with Queen Stevie. She wasn't in their league. "What is this to you? You're not in the 'line of succession' and if you are, aren't you at the bottom?"
Penny scoffed. "It's still early days there, Impaler. I'm gonna climb to the top and you can bet money on it."
"Oh yeah, and how are you gonna do that while people like me are in your way, huh?"
"Easy, the Speedway Derby." Penny smiled knowing that her punchline, that doubled as a trump card, had hit home. When the newest race type was announced, so was the mythology of the race. Like the two derby types before it, the Speedway Derby would also be raced for stakes, except this time, it wasn't about the racers putting something up.
The Speedway Derby was distinguished from the rest by awarding the winner a very special prize: an opportunity at the Crown at the winner's discretion. All they had to do was have the highest accumulated top speed at the end of the race. It was a brilliant idea from Moodswing and a monumental opportunity for people like Penny who couldn't climb the 'line of succession' the conventional way.
Thawn scoffed. "Well if you prefer the easy way out."
However, Penny wasn't daunted by Thawn's taunting. "Thawn, it's not just about getting a guaranteed shot at the Crown at a time of my choosing. It's also about becoming the first person to win a Speedway Derby and become one of the few that's won two different kinds of Derbies. You see, it's about accolades, Thawn."
Thawn actually smiled. "Honey, if being the best around here is about accolades then I'm the guy." Thawn started listing them on his digits. "First Formula-X King; 12 Rounds Derby winner; Season Two Scramble Race winner and the headliner of countless pay-per-views."
"Actually I can count them pretty well. But unless you beat her tonight," she said referring again to Queen Stevie who'd just finished her speech, "you'll never be headlining a pay-per-view again." With the last word, Penny walked away leaving a very angry Thawn in her wake.
THE FEATURE RACE
By the time Thawn was on the start line ready for his race, he'd long since put his fury aside. While it hadn't helped that Queen Stevie's speech had been about her accepting Thawn's challenge for tonight officially before talking about her return race with Devì at Hallow's Eve as if he didn't matter, Thawn had looked at the bright side. It would now be so much sweeter when he beat her after she'd looked past him.
While Queen Stevie looked like the picture of confidence with her new Crown on her head, sitting in her vehicle, Thawn was sure that his own confidence outweighed hers. But now, it was time to see if she was worthy of that golden helm.
The race started with the Queen taking the early lead and Thawn going on the attack. But Thawn didn't wait long to attempt an overtake and managed to capture first position briefly going into Lap 2 only for the Queen to take it back for the remainder of the lap.
As laps 2, 3, 4, and 5 saw Stevie hang onto the lead, Thawn couldn't help but be impressed with the twenty-one-year-old. She was putting up a fight and a dominant one to boot. She wasn't going to only try battling it out in the closing laps. She wanted to show that she was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for her, Thawn had the same goal.
When Lap 6 came about, Thawn began to threaten that lead again, with no clear leader through to Lap 11. Thawn finally overtook the Queen and began defending. Thawn was shocked when Stevie quickly reclaimed the lead for the third time and seemed to be on her way to holding it for the win only for Thawn to recover in grand fashion in the fourteenth and penultimate lap.
Thawn heard the crowd boo loudly which only spurred him on. However, Thawn became distracted when they cheered something, even though Stevie had not made a move yet. Curious, Thawn made the mistake of looking at one of the big screens located on the infield turn to see what had rowed the crowd and was shocked to see a shot of Penny.
She was holding up a sign saying "THAWN, I ACCEPT", clearly referring to the challenge he'd issued to her last week. Really? Was she seriously doing this now? Is this her new move like with Mandla and his Winner's Circle ambush? This is cheap!
Unfortunately, the distraction proved enough to allow Stevie to find a gap as they neared the end of the race and take the victory, this denying Thawn the final part of his revenge.
Thawn was once again fuming. He was beside himself with rage. If that was how it was going to be then so be it because Penny was going to get what was coming to her at Hallow's Eve.