31st of October – Season 3
Darcy Stevens woke up with a start. She looked around, relieved to see that she was still in the comfort of her bed, safe and sound. It had only been a nightmare but one that could very well come true if she wasn’t careful. She looked across the room to check that her Crown was still there. She hadn’t lost it. And if she kept her head about herself, she wouldn’t.
Stevie’s dream had been a strange one as Devì and she had not faced off in a race but rather a modelling contest and Stevie had lost the Crown in it. Despite being a dream, it wasn’t shocking. Devì was a breathtakingly beautiful woman. While the other racers liked to make fun of Devì and her good looks, Stevie felt differently.
For Stevie, she was impressed that someone who could have earned millions if she continued to model decided to give it up and develop racing skills and actually be quite good. In fact, Stevie wondered if she was jealous. Fortunately, beauty didn’t matter when it came to winning races. It was the one thing she was better than Devì in and tonight would just prove it once more.
AT THE HALLOW’S EVE PPV STREET CIRCUIT
While Stevie did not need to arrive early since she was the main event of the night, she came early anyway wanting to send the right message as the main ambassador. After Touch Mkhize’s disparaging remarks about her lack of press since she became Queen, Stevie had made a point to increase her public appearances appropriately.
She’d made a point to go to the paddock and interact with the other racers, mingle with the backstage pass patrons and give a few words to some F-X reporters. It wasn’t until Penny Potgieter approached her that the complexion changed, starting with some slow sarcastic clapping.
“If it isn’t the Formula-X Queen, making her presence known. On an ego trip much?”
“What do you want, Penny?”
“I want to give you fair warning, Your Majesty. Tonight, I lock in my spot in the first-ever Speedway Derby, and when I win that,” she said looking directly at the F-X Crown tucked under Stevie’s arm, “I’m coming after that.”
Stevie kept her composure and even managed to smile. “Well consider me warned.” While Stevie didn’t think much of Penny’s warning, her curiosity was piqued by this idea of this upcoming Speedway Derby. It was the latest of Moodswing’s crazy but brilliant ideas: a race where the racer with the highest accumulated speed won not just the contest but a shot at her Crown at a time of their choosing, a prize poetically called a ‘speeding ticket’.
While Stevie thought about what a threat someone with this speeding ticket might be, she looked at her watch before taking off for the VIP section just in time to get to her seat and watch the first race of the night.
BRENDA, DUCHESS OF DRAG vs. DORIS KOEK vs. TERESA KOEK
The three-way drag race. Stevie herself was not immune to three-way races having taken part in one of the biggest in the series at The First Formula-X Grand Prix against Thawn and Solo, but this was different. This race was between three sisters who knew each other like the back of their hands. While drag races were the quickest in Formula-X, they were considered the purest form of motorsport: all about speed, acceleration, and pure velocity.
The race immediately lived up to the hype as just the three sisters sitting on the street circuit has the fans jacked, with them revving their vehicles too much cheering. When the race did kick-off, it was baby sister Teresa, of all people, who garnered the lead. However, she only managed to perfect her shifting through the first two gears with Brenda showing her experience and managing to nail the sweet spot through the first five gears.
The end was something of a photo finish with Brenda in the lead and middle sister, Doris challenging from second position. In the end, Brenda won the race and retained her title.
THE RELAY BARON/ESS TITLE RACE
Admittedly, Stevie didn’t have much experience with relay races – save the odd ‘Enemies Unite’ races – but she respected the sport of it all. There was a skill to it and the idea of trusting someone else to bring home a win with the final lap was something quite impressive. The relay division had definitely graduated from simply being the ‘tag team division of motorsport’ that it was known for in Season One.
A clear indication of that was the simple fact that Blackcat Mathunzi – reigning two-time Relay Baron – was prominently featured on the pay-per-view poster, looming ominously over her and Devì. Then again, perhaps it was because he’d debuted at this very PPV a year ago exactly.
“Well, well, well,” said the approaching Thawn Oberhauser. “If it isn’t ‘The Diamond of F-X’. I heard you had a run-in with Penny Potgieter.” Thawn had a sinister smirk on his face like he was gloating about something.
Despite their history, Stevie decided to be civil. “Yep. She was delivering a warning. The nature of being the alpha, I take it.”
“Yep. Heavy is the head that wears the Crown. Everyone wants a piece of you. Believe me, I know.” Thawn threw a gesture of the head to the two challengers on the street circuit. “So do they.” He was referring to Jim Kieck and John Kloof – both former Formula-X Kings in their own rights – who had shocked the fandom by forming a relay team out of the blue.
Stevie decided to tease Thawn a little. “Wow, you acknowledging another racer’s achievements? Who are you and what have you done with ‘The Impaler’? I mean, here I was half expecting you to issue me a warning.”
Thawn’s smirk warmed a little into more of a smile. “Oh, give me some credit. You forget, I was something of a mentor to you back in Season One.” When Stevie laughed at him unapologetically, his smile darkened into a smirk again. “Besides, I think you heard what I had to say this past week on Fuel about my affinity for making history. I think that serves as warning enough, don’t you? I mean, the idea of me becoming the first racer to become a two-time King must have crept into your mind.”
Stevie screwed her brow animatedly. “Not really,” she said sarcastically. “I was too distracted by Penny stealing your car and owning your ass.”
Thawn jerked his jaw, clearly embarrassed, and swiftly changed the subject. “So, is this how desperate Kloof has become for a monarch’s paycheck? He’s stooped to teaming with a man who once wanted to date his wife?”
Stevie rolled her eyes, not dignifying his question with a response. Thawn of all people should know by now the difference between real life and sports opera. Instead, Stevie watched the race which was interesting and surprisingly well-balanced.
While Blackcat and his partner Fiona showed their skill in relay races with perfect changeovers, Jim and Kloof showed their feature-racer-level prowess by dominating the actual laps, So, by the time the halfway mark was reached, it had been a back-and-forth affair, no clear leader. While Blackcat and Kloof took the odds, Fiona and Jim had taken the evens meaning that Fiona and Jim had the responsibility of finishing the race on behalf of their teams. And that ending had them neck and neck in the closing moments of the race.
For the first time in the Formula-X history, the ending of a relay race was a photo finish as Blackcat & Fiona were declared winners after Fiona was shown to have narrowly, narrowly beaten Jim as they both crossed the finish line. Stevie was thrilled by the race and judging by the sound of the live crowd, so were they. It was only sweeter as Thawn had left her alone to watch the race in peace having needed to leave to prepare for his race which was next.
THAWN OBERHAUSER vs. PENNY POTGIETER
After being confronted by both competitors earlier in the night, Stevie found herself curious about this race. While everyone knew all about Thawn’s desire to climb back to the top of the ladder, it was Penny’s motivation that was the biggest talk with ‘Women’s Dynasty’ trending on Formulary all week. But if Penny was going to make all her dreams come true, then she was going to have to go through Thawn.
Just as the racers were about to start the race with their engines revving it up in excitement, Stevie’s eyes glued to the action down on the street circuit, she was suddenly and rudely interrupted by Touch Mkhize. “So, this is where you’re hiding, huh? This is your little hole.”
Stevie rolled her eyes. “I’m not hiding, Touch.”
“Then what do you call you just sitting here then?”
“I’m enjoying the pay-per-view, Touch. I am allowed to do that, aren’t I?”
Touch shrugged and momentarily turned to the street circuit as Thawn captured the lead early and led the race through Lap 2 and into Lap 3. Touch sighed loudly. “Makes sense that you're watching this. This race must have you scared considering that the winner could go on to win that Speedway Derby and then challenge you whenever they feel like it.”
Stevie didn’t answer immediately as she watched Penny execute a beautiful overtake in Lap 4. “I'm not scared, Touch. I just like being prepared.” She decided to turn it on him. "Are you scared?"
"Becoming irrelevant. I bet you're lying awake at night wondering why you're not in a qualifier for the Derby."
While Touch didn't say anything, her words clearly got to him "Maybe we should just shut up and enjoy the race, huh?"
“Wow. No need to get so touchy. I was just saying.” Stevie wore a smug smile. “Don’t you have a race to get ready for anyway?” That was enough to get Touch to back out of the room and leave Stevie to watch the remainder of the race in peace. The race was now six laps deep with Thawn in control. He remained in control for another two laps before Penny managed to find a gap and overtake ‘The Box Office’.
The desperation set in as Thawn began to battle back as Lap 9 came to an end with the final lap coming about fast. However, Penny proved that she was serious about the ‘Women’s Dynasty’ as she managed to pull off the victory to the cheers of the crowd, successfully qualifying for the Speedway Derby. Stevie looked on as if studying Penny, finally thinking about Penny’s warning and wondering if the plan she spoke about a few weeks ago was finally coming to fruition. Was she on her way to building herself enough credibility to make her unquestionably a challenger for Stevie’s Crown? Only time would tell.
For now, Stevie had other things on her mind, things that were far more pertinent. She had a vested interest in the next race because – assuming she retained her title – the winner of the next race would be facing her at the next pay-per-view for her title!
MANDLA XULU vs. TOUCH MKHIZE
The Number One Claimant race. Oh man, this hype is real, thought Stevie as she listened to the crowd become electric upon seeing Touch and Mandla take to the street circuit. While it was barely evident, Stevie could detect that the fandom was more behind Touch than Mandla. Stevie herself couldn’t help but root for Touch as well but for very different reasons. In fact, her beef with Touch was very different to Mandla’s beef with Touch.
Where Mandla and Touch’s rivalry could be argued to have started back in Season One when they headlined Sunday Night Easter together, before heating up again on Touching Base back in September due to both being knocked out in the Royal Tourney – a tournament that Stevie won. Stevie’s beef with Touch was simpler than all that: Touch beat her two weeks ago and she wanted to right a wrong. But in order to do that, Touch would have to win tonight.
Just as the race was about to begin, Stevie was interrupted again from the action. “So this is where you’ve been hiding?”
Stevie rolled her eyes at Devì. “Why does everyone keep saying that? I’m not hiding. As Queen, I have the privilege of being in the V.I.P. section. Unlike you. Speaking of which, since you’re ex-Queen, how are you in here? Did you buy a ticket?”
“I didn’t need to. My charm has always opened doors for me,” she said smirking.
It killed Stevie to admit that Devì’s smile was ridiculously sexy. Stevie turned to the action to distract herself from it. On the street circuit, Mandla was dominating the race in the early goings with Touch doing his best to contest. Stevie finally thought of a smart comeback. “Yeah well, my skill opened doors for me. And tonight, it’s gonna close some doors. Say, for example, your opportunities at my Crown.”
Devì’s smirk momentarily broke into a smile. “Oh honey, I’m not going to need more than one.”
Before Stevie could retort, they were both interrupted by the Club V.P. “What the hell are you two doing?” said Glenwood Jacobs. “You both know the clause that Moodswing added to your contract for tonight’s race. You two cannot interact until your race.”
“Oh relax, Glen,” said Devì. “We were just being friendly.”
Stevie took note of Devì’s smirk. Was she trying to convince Glen using her charm? “Yeah, don’t worry Glen. We’re not going to hit each other again.” That’s what had happened two weeks ago at their press conference. Moodswing had made a point to call them both out for embarrassing the franchise afterward, hence the handwritten clause.
“Yeah well, I don’t care. I want you two on opposite sides of a room at all times until after your race.”
Devì, still with a smirk on her face, shrugged. “Well, I have a race to prepare for and a title to win so I’m out of here.” Both Glen and Stevie watched the glum Devì leave.
Glen took note of Stevie not moving. Instead, he noticed that she had her eyes glued to the race. Down on the track, Touch had managed to recover and now had the lead as of Lap 11 out of twenty. “Aren’t you going to go get ready?”
“I wanna see the outcome of this first. I have fifteen minutes after this race before my own, right?”
Glen nodded. “What, trying to determine who you’re going to face at Show-Down at the Capital?”
Stevie flicked her eyes to the co-showrunner. This was the first time that Stevie had heard the full title of the next PPV. Show-Down was the only PPV that took place outside of the City of Ngelosi and the name of the PPV always emulated that. That meant Show-Down this year would be taking place in Pretoria, Gauteng.
Glen continued. “Well, I hope you’re not looking past Devì if that’s the case.”
Stevie shook her head. “I’m not looking past anyone. In fact, I’ve got my mind on everyone who wants a piece of me. “I’ve got my eye on Devì; I’ve got my eye on Touch; I’ve got my eye on Mandla, Penny, and Thawn. I’m well aware that all of them want what I’ve got. But right now, I’m ready for Devì. And next, I need to get ready for whoever wins this.”
As the laps went by and the tables turned, it looked like Mandla would be that person. Stevie wondered if Mandla’s chances were higher due to having been in more 20 Lap Feature Races from his time as King back in Season 1. However, Stevie’s assumptions were put to rest when Touch recovered once again in Lap 18 and managed to overtake with two laps to go. He eventually managed to convert his lead into a victory, thus becoming the new Number One Claimant.
“It looks like Touch is the guy to beat at Show-Down at the Capital,” said Stevie.
“Mhmm. Now that you know that, go defend your title and lock in your place in that feature race.” Stevie didn’t need to be told twice.
QUEEN STEVIE vs. DEVĺ
As Stevie sat in The Candyfloss, she thought about her dream where she lost her title to Devì in a modelling contest. She remembered that feeling and used that as fuel to get herself in the right frame of mind. This was her first title defence. While Stevie was confident she could retain, she thought about her opponent and the fact that she lost the Crown on her first defence.
While Stevie had thought the hype for the Number One Claimant race was huge, it was nothing compared to the crowd reaction right now in anticipation of the upcoming race. It was an amazingly electric reaction considering this was a race that the fandom had seen before. Either way, Stevie was jacked up for this race.
Both Devì and Stevie were revving their engines as if trying to intimidate each other. They were ready. They were ready for the main event. The lights went off and it was in on!
Having studied the tapes of their race at Arbour Games and knowing that Devì's vehicle, The Avatar, was faster than her own, Stevie took control as soon as possible. By the end of the first of three laps, Stevie was in the lead. While she knew better than to start relaxing, Stevie paced herself knowing that PPV feature races were double the length of Fuel feature races. It was gonna be a long race.
So when Devì finally managed to overtake her in Lap 6 – poetically inverse to Arbour Games – Stevie didn't panic but instead let her pass and began putting pressure in her own right. They maintained these positions through the next ten laps before Devì mysteriously let Stevie retake first position.
It took an entire lap before Stevie understood Devì's thinking: she was trying to pace herself too. She knew just as well as Stevie that the defending racer was always at a slight disadvantage due to having nothing to measure their speed against, often over-accelerating and overthinking the cornering. The attacking racer had no such problems, basing their decisions on the racer they need to beat.
With just thirteen laps to go, Stevie decided to see how long she could hold the lead and defended as if it were the last lap. It continued this way until Lap 24 when all of a sudden, it became serious for the claimant. Stevie began to feel the mounting pressure building as Laps 25, 26, and 27 went on.
Devì finally managed to garner the lead in Lap 28 making Stevie extremely nervous. Even the crowd's roudy discomfort was evident and Stevie knew that she needed to take her lead back, if not for her own sake then for the fandom's sake. Stevie finally got her opportunity a lap later with her coming nose and nose with the 'Daughter of Divinity'.
In an amazing case of lightning striking twice, the ending was a photo finish with it being anyone's game. But Stevie had felt it even before they had announced it, she'd won. She had retained the title in her first title defence.
It was a great race, even for Devì. Stevie couldn't take that away from her no matter how much she hated her. And it was as if the powers that be knew that too because this time around, her victory was punctuated with confetti reigning from the heavens. What, had they believed my win at Arbour Games was a fluke?
But that all didn't matter to Stevie. What did matter was that she'd just proven that she was here to stay. As the patrons of the event began shuffling towards the streets for the now-traditional Hallow's Eve trick or treat, the racers came down to give Stevie a standing ovation. Even Penny, Thawn, and Touch, with scowls on their faces, stood there and clapped, acknowledging that she was the best.