It didn't take too much to track down Angel, she seemed to live in the same city. Once I had an address, I took off to meet her, anxious to learn what I can. But considering that Angel and Mr. X were supposed to be rivals, I knew that this would be awkward, if not downright difficult. Eventually I made it to the address, but the whole unusualness of it all made me seriously freaked, and I wound up sitting in Star for a few minutes, trying to work up the nerve. Finally, I just got out of the car, walked up to the front of the house, and went for it. I was nowhere near ready, but I had a job to do.
I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. It wasn't long before the door opened, and I was greeted by a red hedgehog, "Hi there." I just tried to be straightforward. "Hello. You're Angel, am I right?" "Yes I am. Who are you?" "So sorry about that. My name's Chris, and I'm here on a bit of a personal job. Would you mind if I came inside?" "Please come in." "Thank you so much." She seemed nice.
"Sorry to trouble you, but I've been working on a project, and I'd appreciate any help I can get. You see, I'm working on a special car for someone and I need an outside source to explain that someone's driving style, so I can set up the suspension properly". Angel seemed interested when I said that, "Really? What kind of car is it?" So I just tried to explain it to her, "Well, it's a supercar of my own design, actually. It's gonna be one of a kind, and because of that, I'm trying to make it tailor-made to its driver." "Sounds nice, Chris. But how do you need my help?" "Well, assuming you don't mind, I'd like for you to tell me everything you can about how this person drives." At this point, she had a puzzled look on her face, and asked, "That's OK with me, but why would I mind?" All I could do was be honest. "Because the driver who asked for my help, well, I don't exactly think that the two of you are on best terms." "Well, there aren't a lot of drivers that I have that bad of a problem with, just a few." "That's what I'm afraid of. Somehow, I'm fairly sure that I'm working with one of your unlucky few." "Come on, it can't be that bad. Who is it?" Well, there was no point going around it, I was gonna have to tell her. I had to take another deep breath for this one, before finally saying, "It's Mr. X."
Yep. It was that bad.
"Very sorry to bring him up, but I do have a very important project on the line here, and I need all the info I can get." "Yeah, but I don't wanna help that jerk!" She was kinda pissed at this point, but that's what you get when you ask someone for info on a rival, in order to help the rival. Yeah, it seems just as insane as it sounds. "I thought so, that's why I was so nervous to ask you. I know that this can't be easy, but I need you help here! There's a lot more on the line here than you think, at least there is for me. I have to get this done, you understand?" She had this look on her face, it looked like she was thinking it over. This had to had been tough on her, but I wasn't so sure if it was as hard as my predicament. After all, who has it worse, the racer being asked to help the person helping the rival, or the person who has to ask the racer for the help? Oh well. Angel had been silent for so long, that I just got up and said, "Sorry to trouble you, see you around." I got up and walked to the front door, and just before my hand made contact with the handle, she finally spoke up. "Wait!" I turned around to answer her, "Yes?" "I'll agree to help you, on one condition." With my luck, this could only be one thing. "Condition? What do you have in mind?" "Well, how about a race?" See what I mean?
To be honest, I was prepared to have to race Angel, it only seemed natural. Still, I didn't know if I was up for it, I was hoping to race only as a last resort. "You want to race me?" "Sure! That crazy car outside isn't for show, is it?" "What, Star? Nope, she's a real runner." "Star? Wait a minute, you named your car? Sounds kinda silly." "Trust me, it's a long story. Star and I have been through a lot, no way I'd be where I am without her. Not all of it is good, but I can't change that." "Sounds like a race to me, so what do you say?" I was gonna have to do it, that was fact. Besides, who knows? This could actually be really fun! So, I pretty much blurted it out, "Angel, you've got yourself a race! Do you already have something in mind?" "Yeah, meet me at the central plaza in an hour." You got it, see you there!" I turned back around and headed out. I saw a smile on her face, and I felt one on mine. I was pretty sure that we were both looking forward to this. At the very least, I certainly was, since the person I was gonna be up against was probably the first good racer since I was kicked from my home. Oh yeah, this was gonna be a blast!
I made it to the central plaza early so I could scope out the area. Really nice place, an excellent locale for the event at hand. I was even able to pick up an ice cream before it was race time. Nothing like a cookies-and-cream cone to get set up for that critical event, right? Once that treat had disappeared, I only had to wait a few more minutes, before a modified R34 Skyline showed up, followed by a pearl white Mustang. Both cars parked next to Star, drivers stepping out. Angel had arrived, and she had brought company. I was sitting at a bench at the time, and they didn't notice me sitting there. However, they both wound up looking at Star and talking to each other. Maybe a cross-examination or something? Then again, did it matter? I got up and approached them, overhearing the two as I got closer. Angel saying, "You really can't tell what car this is?", the man next to her saying "All I can tell is that something about this car feels seriously off, I just can't tell what. Please be careful out there, Angel." She smiled and said to him, "Don't worry, I will!" Nice, but time for my appearance. "So, what do you think of Star?" The two turned around to face me, Angel's friend speaking first. "You've got a very nice car here. How fast is it?" "Well, under normal situations she'll push 660, but Star's far from normal." "Star, huh? Yeah, Angel told me you named your car." "Kinda, Rogue Star. The whole car's a long story, and I don't know the half of it. Speaking of names, I don't think we've been introduced. My name's Chris, nice to meet you!" "Daz, same here."
"To be honest, I wish I could be racing under other circumstances, this doesn't feel right. But in a lot of ways, I don't have a choice here." And apparently, the choice was worse than I thought, according to Daz. "Well, I wish you luck, Angel's the city champ for a reason." "You're kidding, right?" Angel cut in here, "He's not kidding, I've been the city champ for years!" Oh, great. "So let me get this straight. I'm basically racing for survival, against the city champ." "Looks like it!" "Well then, don't expect me to hold anything back, Angel!" "I wouldn't expect anything less!" Awesome! "Well then, let's get to it!" We jumped in our cars and drove to where the race would start, Angel and her GT-R out front, Daz behind her, and Star and I behind his Mustang. Wasn't far to where it would go down, just a local intersection. Still, gave me time to think about the race at hand. I knew it'd be a good race when I saw the footage of Angel, but I didn't think she was so good as to be the city champ. She was probably gonna be my toughest opponent yet. And yet, something else was up. I didn't get the feeling that I didn't want to race, like I was sucked in. I actually wanted to race, something I haven't felt since Sunrise Village, since, ugh, Fox. And for a second, thinking back to that day, I lost the will to race. Damn it, why did I have to remember that! I had to think of something else. I thought back on what's happened lately, the whole car project, and I was back in it! Angel may have been the city champ, but she's never raced me, or Rogue Star before! Watch out!
We made it to the intersection, Daz pulling to the side and Angel and I pulling to the line. I rolled down the window to hear her out. "When the light turns green, it's from here to the courthouse and back, got it Chris?" "You got it, good luck!" A thumbs-up from me, and the window went back up. Eyes focus on the lights, and just because I was looking forward to it, I flipped on the radio again, haven't done that for a race in a while. The song in the car was warming up perfectly, eyes still on the red, both cars revving to peak RPMS. The red turned green, and it was showtime!
Why so pathetic?
Never thought you, I
Every heavenly light
Such a sinister way
Roll your eyes all day
At all the people kickin'
Golden girls, stop and stare
Double decker, so lookin' pretty.
Why such a serious miss
just made my serious list.
Now I demand that you act like you don't know.
Go where you want.
And if it drops to hot,
better drop it like it's hot, so.
Race Tune: TV On The Radio New Health Rock, Juiced
Both cars shot off the line! Star took a head start, the bang-bang anti-lag system forcing the AWD to grab the road like it was the last thing on earth. Angel wasn't far behind, her GT-R hot on Star's tail. 2nd gear, 3rd gear, Star started to slowly pull away. I thought I was safe, until I look in the rear-view and see Angel closing in fast. Looked like I was gonna have to be careful on the long straights, she was gonna have even more of a home-turf advantage. I just kept going and going up until the furst curve in the road, a soft right-hander. A toss of the wheel and Star dug into the corner, shooting right through the apex. I look in the mirror again, seeing the GT-R closer than ever, and with a puff of smoke coming from the rear tires. She wanted to catch me, I could tell that much. The road kept going, edging slightly left. I kept Star pointed to the left, Angel's GT-R still breathing down Star's bumper. I just kept going, Star gaining speed even now. Wasn't the best thing though, the road started to bend sharper to the left. I slowed down a touch, and noticed that Angel had fallen behind. What happened to her?
I looked back on the road, as the road went from a left curve to a blind 90-degree right! Holy crap! I hit the brakes there to hit the apex, when Angel shot by! She passed me, still pretty quick coming in. I almost thought she would crash, but I noticed the rear tires lock up for a sec, then her GT-R drifting the corner! She drifted a 90-degree bend! Damn, city champ for a reason! As for me, I dove into the corner and hit the gas early. I was able to get back up to speed quickly, but I know I could have done that corner much better! Coming out of the corner was about a quarter-mile straight, before coming to a tall roundabout in front of the courthouse building. With Angel nowhere in sight, I just kept going, Star accelerating like a cruise missile up until the roundabout. Heading in, I ducked in to the right, then left. And for a split-second, I saw the GT-R, coming out of the roundabout. If Angel held the lead any longer, I knew the race would be a loss. A second later, I was out of the roundabout and back on the straight, headed back to the start. Star kept moving, and soon I was closing in on her. I wasn't gonna go down now!
Back to the 90-degree corner, now left of course, Angel slowed down a bit to take it again, looked like she was gonna drift it again. Good idea! I slowed down too, and as soon as we got there, both car's tires locked up, both of us headed in there doing a tandem drift! Like pure automotive art! Coming out, I was able to pass her again, catching a glimpse of her expression through the window. Focused on the race at hand, like a true racer. Awesome, made it so much more worth it. The road was bending right now, slowly straightening out. I gunned it and put some more distance between the 2 cars, which worked for about 5 seconds, before the GT-R blasted by me! Blue flames coming from the exhaust pipes, all I could think was "Damn, she's using nitrous!" First time that's been used against me before! I had no choice. "Come on Star, let's kick it up a notch! Ready?" One stand on the gas with all my might answered my question, as the gauges switched colors! "Hell yeah, let's finish this! Thanks, girl!"
Star started to close the gap between us and Angel, but I was running out of road. All I had left was the last corner and the final stretch. Angel's GT-R headed right into the corner, still with amazing speed. Star and I weren't so far behind here, closing the gap quickly. And now , we were on the final stretch. Still closing in, shifting to 5th and noticing that I almost had her! 6th gear, and I was door to door with her! I looked out the window and noticed a smirk on her face, before she started to pull away again! Nitrous! And as I saw the GT-R's taillights, I had no choice here. I shifted up once more, into the unlocked gear. Now, I noticed the speedo, reading at more than 190mph! She had to have been at 200, at least! The end fast approaching, Star still pulling, now past 200 herself! Gap disappearing, cars starting to line up with just a bit more to go! The cars side-by-side, and I started to make the pass. One last look at her, and she was smiling again. One last look at the road, and the intersection blazed by immediately, with still a bumper's length between the cars.
I had lost. My first loss ever. DAMN IT!
I was there at the finish for at least 5 minutes, my head on the steering wheel, my fists pounding on the dashboard. AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!! I couldn't believe it! I mean, nobody's undefeated, but I needed this win! The car project depended on it, and so did my only source of cash! And I lost! Now the car couldn't get done! I was screwed Hell, I think I had tears on my face!
I heard a knock on my window. I didn't even look, I just lowered the window. "Are you all right, Chris?" It was Angel, a tone of worry in her voice. Talking with my head still on Star's wheel, "No, I'm not. I had too much riding on this race, and now it can't happen. But I'm not gonna lie, you put an excellent race, and I'm always gonna be grateful for that. Had the situation been different, I would have been happy to go down at the hands of the city champ, just grateful to have had the chance to race." "If it makes you feel better, you did great yourself! I haven't had a good race like that in a while, thanks!" Even trying to cheer me up, I answered her with my face buried, "No problem, Angel." "I'm trying to cheer you up, can you at least get off the wheel?" "Fine." I lifted my head up and relaxed in the seat. Still pretty obvious how upset I was. "Seriously though, I'm pretty sure you can't cheer me up much. I lost, fair and square. Again, I'm honored that it was at your hands, I've never had a race like this. But I had everything on the line here. And now, it's gone." "No, it's not." "And how would you know, Angel?" "Because Mr. X likes to drift." Say what?
"Mr. X? Wait a minute here, why did you tell me that? I lost, didn't I?" "Yeah, but it doesn't matter. When someone needs help, you help them!" That had me stunned. Even after I had lost, she still wanted to help me. Unbelievable, that kind of kindness is something that's rare these days. "So you're gonna tell me what you know then?" "Come out of the car, Daz and I will tell you everything we can." Overcome with happiness, I stepped outside, and we walked to a nearby picnic table, Daz already sitting there. From there, they were happy to tell me everything they could on him. Apparently, Mr. X was a talented drifter, as well as having a preference for rear-wheel-drive exotics. I also learned that he had a habit of driving at very high speeds, sometimes fitting prototype technologies into his cars to get that extra top-end power. And that if someone ever pissed him off, he would place big bets, then beat his opponent without mercy, still showing respect for his car the whole time. By the time Angel and Daz had told me everything, I had more than enough to not only match up the perfect suspension, but refine the rest of the car to a tee.
"Well, I've more than enough to make that car now. Angel, Daz, you have no idea how grateful I am for this!" Daz spoke first, "It's no problem, just make the best car you possibly can for Mr. X, all right?" "You got it, Daz! But still, why did you two agree to help me, even after I lost? It can't be just to help me out." Angel spoke up here, "Of course it can! But you're not the only one getting help here, Chris. Mr. X has had one hell of a bad past, but he's changed. He still looks like a bad guy at times, but he's got a good heart. So make that car for him the best you can, he deserves it! But please be careful." "Careful making the car?" "Careful being around Mr. X. His past has a habit of catching up to him, and if you're there when it happens, you'll be in serious trouble." Oh, boy
"Thanks for the warning, I'll keep an eye out. In the meantime, I really should get going. Thanks again you two!" We exchanged our goodbyes, and I got up to walk away, but not before asking Angel one more question. "One more thing. If I ever make it back here, can I count on you for another awesome race?" "Sure thing, Chris! Just make sure you do come back sometime, I'm gonna hold you to it!" "One of these days, it might happen. See ya!"
I made it back to the garage, with everything I needed to finish the car up. Everything Angel and Daz had told me, I had written down in a notebook. And with all of that, I had everything I needed. I called up the last of the parts suppliers and fed them the information for the parts I would need. It would only take a few days for the parts to come into the garage. A bare frame had already been built, made of carbon fiber and a special metal alloy developed in the R&D labs. They said that Mr. X had used it before, and that it was proven to be near-indestructible, which was perfect. The engine block was being cast, the pistons and rods forged, the crank, cams, belts, pulleys, all of it custom made to my specifications. The body panels, glass and lighting were almost done, and the interior almost completely hand-crafted and hand-stitched. All that was missing was the suspension, a special F1-style, and the brakes, massive carbon-ceramic rotors mixed with strong monobloc calipers, even using a dedicated handbrake caliper set out back for drifts. Thanks to Angel and Daz, the car was gonna be purely amazing!