13th of February – Season 3
TWO WEEKS AGO
A cup of coffee. That's all it was supposed to be. That had been the idea when Savana sat down at the booth of Kieck's Kitchen. But then he walked in. Savana had been surprised considering that back on Fuel, he and Jim Kieck were not friends. Neither was Savana.
When he'd sat down at her table, she'd asked the most basic question: "What do you want?"
"He wants us to play lovers." He must have known that her face would break into a shocked expression but he still waited to elaborate. "On the poster for Love 'n War, he wants us to look like lovers. The devil and his mistress to be specific."
That was how it had all started. And while Savana spent the first few days hiding her face when the poster was first shown, she'd slowly come to like it. Apart from the part she played in it, the poster was a work of art; like an ongoing apology for the hit-and-miss, that was Heart-Attack two years ago.
Savana had barely stepped foot into the PPV paddock when she was accosted. "So, are you two lovers?" Brenda Koek, displaying no tact. "Because I heard you two are lovers."
"We're not lovers, Brenda."
"You sure? Because you two look like horny devil's on that poster," she said laughing at her own joke. "See what I did there?"
Savana rolled her eyes. "It's just a poster, Brenda. And you're going to have to do a little better than that to get in my head."
Brenda smiled. "Only a little? Okay. How about this? Don't think that just because you won the Scramble Race that you have what it takes to win a Gauntlet Race."
Savana tried her best not to laugh, barely hiding a smile. "That's funny. I was about to say the same thing about you and thinking that winning that 'speeding ticket' means you have what it takes to win tonight."
"Well you're both wrong," said Devì approaching them. "Winning those races means diddly squat when it comes to capturing that Crown. Trust me, I know." Savana and Brenda had looked at her, then each other before bursting out laughing. "I don't know what the hell is so funny. I beat Solo Magubane to win that Crown and on the biggest stage in this series."
"That's not why we're laughing, 'Aphrodite'," said Brenda. "What are you wearing?"
Devì was wearing a Wonder Woman outfit except instead of the red, white and blue of America, it was colored orange, green, and gold: the colors of India. "It's a metaphor." But they didn't get it. "Wonder Woman?" Still nothing. "The most powerful female in the world?"
"Yeah, we know who Wonder Woman is," said Savana, "just not why you're wearing that now. You do know that the V-Day Costume Party is after the pay-per-view, right?"
"But that's not the funniest part," said Brenda laughing. "It's the fact that she's trying to talk smack to us wearing that." The two of them laughed even harder now.
The 'Asian Aphrodite' was not amused. Her opponents still thought this was a joke. So she broke the humiliation by turning the tables. "So, I hear you have a new lover, Savana? Care to share?"
Not to be alone as the centre of attention, Savana also turned the tables. "I'll share as soon as Brenda admits that the 'Koeksister Love Pact' was real." That had been enough to get them all in more serious of moods and they went their separate ways.
STYLES SITHOLE vs. TOUCH MKHIZE
While it was still a while before the feature race, Savana decided to go to the paddock. It wasn't until a minute before the first race that Savana regretted her decision.
"So I heard that you two are lovers?" This time, it was Plain Jane that had spoken the words.
Savana rolled her eyes. "It was just a poster, dammit."
However, Plain Jane had a different mentality, putting her hands up as if to defend her statement. "Hey, no hate. I'm not judging. I think an affair between racers is a great thing."
Savana wanted to say more but the race started. Styles took the early lead of the 10 Lap Match Race impressing all as usual, with his breathtaking power slides. As they watched, Savana decided to pick Jane's brain.
"So, are you saying that you and Styles are a thing?"
"Styles? Ew, no. Why would you think that?"
"Because you two were paired together at the photoshoot." A lot of photos had been taken at the photoshoot allowing for many options for the poster. In the end, Styles and Jane weren't picked for the official poster.
"Pffft," she said with a wave of her hand, "that's just Moodswing trying to play matchmaker. He's not my type."
"Then who is?" Savana's question was answered when Jane made a sound of frustration when Styles stole the lead back from Touch in Lap 8. "Touch? You're into Touch!?"
Jane broke into a sneaky smile. "Well, it's more like he's into me if you know what I mean."
"You're sleeping with him?"
"You don't have to make it sound so dirty. We're grown consenting adults despite Moodswing constantly calling this place a high school playground."
Savana was glad that Plain Jane had put it like that because this reveal definitely felt like something out of a high school TV series. What other secret affairs don't I know about?
JOHN KLOOF vs. TEMPER KUNENE
In an effort to avoid more questions about her love life, Savana made her way to the VIP section – willing to pay for a ticket to get away from the rumors. When she got there, she saw none other than Kloof's wife, Debra and decided to join her deducing that the last thing she'd want to talk about is who's sleeping with whom.
"Hello, Debra. Is this seat taken?"
Debra shook her head. "Being in the presence of a Scramble Race winner. I feel so honored."
Savana smiled. "Well, then I expect that you should feel honored every day of the week. Didn't your husband win the first-ever Scramble Race?"
"That was two seasons ago. As far as everyone's concerned, it's old news."
"Well, his performance in this year's Scramble Race isn't old news. He came from last to sixth place. That was impressive."
"Yeah, but it won't win him the award for 'Outstanding Performance in a Scramble Race'. That honor goes to you." It was true. Savana was now automatically entered into the next Formula-X Cup race in eleven months' time. "As they say, in Formula-X, you win or you lose. There's no second place."
It was as if poetry was in motion because not a second after Debra had spoken those powerful words, the gun shot to start the race went off. Of course, it wasn't a race but a derby. The contest started off fast! What other way could there be with only one kilometer to work with?
The stakes were high and neither man was letting up. It was only as they approached the horseshoe-like bend did a leader emerge which got Debra on her feet. It was not twenty seconds later that Debra broke into a joyful applause as John Kloof pulled out the win, successfully securing the money he needed to pay for his car repair debt from Temper.
"Well," said Savana, "for a race that short, that was exciting."
"Not as exciting as I hear your love life is." Savana was struck speechless. "So, was it a one night stand, or are you two sleeping together?"
What the hell is going on around here? What, are the storylines on Paradise Souled not juicy enough? Do you guys need to get your soap opera fix from me now? With no way to get answers to these questions, Savana returned to the paddock to go get ready. There was now only one race left between now and her own race.
PLAIN JANE, DUCHESS OF DRAG vs. JIM KIECK
Savana was in her racing suit by the time the race started. She was too wired to care about the outcome of this race although there was part of her that hoped that Plain Jane pulled it off. Because if she didn't, then it would put a damper on the continuing success of the 'Women's Dynasty'.
This made her think of Penny and the accident back at The Scramble. Since her victory at the pay-per-view, almost everyone was making a 'what-if' argument on the Formulary, wondering if Penny would have won if not for the accident. She'd certainly been on a roll since the beginning of the season.
Everyone had been convinced that it was a lock for Penny and that she'd use that victory to catapult herself into the title picture. Instead, it had been Savana who won and was now one victory away from becoming F-X Queen.
By the time Plain Jane's hand was raised in victory, Savana had forgotten all about the rumor about her love life and was ready to do this.
GAUNTLET V: QUEEN'S GAMBIT
"This may be one of the most anticipated races of the entire season which is saying something considering that there's been literally only two weeks of build-up."
"Well Captain, when you've got this much star power, how much build-up do you need? The reigning Formula-X Queen defending her Crown against the first-ever F-X Queen, the latest Speedway Derby Winner and the latest Scramble Race winner in a Gauntlet Race. No hype needed!"
Captain Khumalo and Miss Honeycomb had set the scene. Now, it was time for the action. Savana was entering the gauntlet last which, before Gauntlet IV: Motomania, would have been an advantage, but had since been viewed as a disadvantage. And that was all because of Darcy 'The Diamond' Stevens: the seventh King (styled Queen) in her first reign.
Queen Stevie was the one that broke Gauntlet IV – becoming the first person to do so – and she did it in the second phase of the non-stop race making Savana racing in the third phase a very dangerous gamble. The race could very well be over by the time it was her turn to face the Gauntlet Runner.
Devì had won the 'Order of the Gauntlet' race on Monday Night Fuel a couple of weeks back and opted to be the first gauntleteer, clearly having unfinished business with the Queen. And that was showcased in their portion of the gauntlet with furious action between the two.
While Devì had dominated the Third and Fourth Quarter, she'd lost the lead when it counted most and Stevie crossed the line first in Lap 10, automatically kick-starting the second phase with Brenda. Brenda simultaneously demonstrated her inexperience in feature races while also showing her hunger for the Crown by putting in a strong performance.
In the end, it was all for naught as Stevie won Lap 20 (to Savana's relief) and it was on! This was Savana's shot and she knew it as she chased Stevie like her very life depended on it. As Savana continued to put pressure on the Queen, she thought about the significance of this race.
While it wasn't the first all-woman PPV feature race, it was the first Gauntlet Race for the Crown and it was the first all-female gauntlet race. How far they had come. The last lap came about faster than Savana had expected and she swore seeing Stevie was about to win. She'd failed to make any good offence. But she also remembered that Stevie's had the most experience in gauntlets.
As Savana watched Queen Stevie celebrate her victory, she made her way back to the paddock. But before she got there, she was pulled into a dark corner by him.
"Of course. What, did you think I was going to let you go to that dance alone?"
Savana's heart skipped a beat. "I," she stuttered, "I thought you had a date."
"I do," he said, making it clear that it was her.
"Someone else. I mean, they've been going on and on about your mysterious plus one. I thought..."
"You thought what?"
Savana swallowed the lump in her throat. "I thought that you and I was a one-time thing; a one-night stand. I've been telling everyone that it was just a poster and that we were not lovers."
"I've had my fair share of one-night stands. Now I want someone by my side that shares my ambitions. And Savana, that's you."
Savana was moved. She'd felt the same way that night at Kieck's Kitchen when she and him had gotten to talking – initially about the PPV photo shoot and then about each other – and she realized that he wasn't evil, just highly ambitious when it came to racing. And the passion they shared about racing had led to passion between the sheets. It had been an amazing night.
"So," he said, looking deep into her eyes, "will you be my date to the costume party tonight?"
She nodded. "I'd be honored, Thawn."
THE VALENTINE'S DAY DANCE
From the moment Savana walked in, hand-in-hand with Thawn Oberhauser, everything seemed to change. It was like the world had shifted. Irony swept through the venue as, despite everyone guessing that her and Thawn were now lovers, her denial of it had made this revelation a surprise.
In fact, Savana's denials had been so convincing that the other racers were still not convinced that she wasn't just a date. That was until they shared a very passionate kiss. From that moment on, everyone was convinced that this was the birth of a new era k. Formula-X.