“What are you going to do, Master,” Envy asked.
With a raised eyebrow, I looked at the droid. “You better watch out,” I told him. “For a second there it actually sounded like you care.”
“You are a fleshpile who is inferior to me in every possible way. However, you are an inferior fleshpile that I’ve grown accustomed to. Should you perish, I might get stuck with a fleshpile even more useless than you. Therefore, it is in my best interests to try to keep you from expiring.”
We had just finished the upgrades on the swoop bike that we had been working on for Turussk (after Nalith had taken the bomb off, of course). There was only ten minutes left to get it to the track in time for pre-race inspection, so I let the conversation drop there. Besides, it would probably be better for me to leave Envy out of this. I didn’t want anyone else taking a shot for me (not that Envy would actually take a shot for me. He’d probably let me get shot, laugh about it for a minute, then try to find me medical care.)
Getting the swoop to the track on time was a race unto itself, but we managed to do it. The inspector went over our bike and found nothing wrong with it. We got the swoop bike into position at the starting line and waited for the race to start. It seemed to me to be hours, but, in reality, it was only twenty minutes. During that time, I went over what I needed to do in my head. Because races are so unpredictable, it was impossible to know how it would all work out. All I knew for certain, was that I was going to have to drive faster than I ever had before.
The engines of all fifteen swoop bikes roared to life simultaneously. All of my focus was on the light that would signal the start of the race. As soon as it lit, I jammed the throttle and took off. My plan was working perfectly, as this was my best start ever. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. By the time I reached the first turn, other racers had caught up and passed me. I was momentarily confused because my swoop bike was so much faster than theirs.
“Attention, fleshpile,” came a voice over the comlink in my helmet. “You are supposed to go fast the entire race, not just the first 1000 meters.”
I looked down and saw that Envy was right. I had reverted back to my old ways and only the throttle at half power.
“Unless you want to die a horrible death,” he continued, “you should probably speed up. If you do, in fact, wish to die a horrible death, please allow me to watch as Nalith does his job.”
Tuning Envy out, I gave more power to the engine and held on tight as my swoop quickly accelerated. I let up on the power for just a few seconds as I approached the next curve. After this curve was a long straightaway that should let me catch up to, and pass, all six of the racers who were now ahead of me. As soon as the course straightened out, I once again jammed down the throttle and set my swoop bike to go as fast as it could.
This was the fastest I had ever gone on a bike before and I must confess, it was rather frightening. If I didn’t urinate before the race, I’d probably have a wet race suit right now. Nevertheless, my plan was working and I had passed all of the racers except one. Of course, that one had to be Teebo. As I pulled along side of him, I snuck a glance in his direction. It was very tempting to try to run him off the track, but I reminded myself that I had more important things to do at the moment.
My bike surged ahead of the pack again. I kept up my pace as long as I could, knowing that I needed to gain as much of a lead as I possibly could. The other racers had much more experience taking turns and curves at these speeds, so I was going to have to slow down some. The trick was slowing down enough to where I don’t crash, but also going fast enough to where I don’t lose my lead.
By the time I had reached the last part of the track, my plan had worked. I had given up some of my lead to Teebo, but not enough for me to worry….yet. The very last turn was a killer (I’m not being metaphorical. Many racers have actually crashed and died there). It was a straight ninety degree turn to the left. The only other time I had raced on this track before, I had gone so slow around that turn that the engine power was barely moving the bike. This time, I couldn’t do that.
I slowly let off the throttle and at the last possible moment, hit the brakes and swung the nose of the bike left. With my momentum, I was quickly getting closer and closer to the wall. Envy’s voice over the comlink told me that it had not been a pleasure knowing me. That’s when I kicked the power back up to full. The bike lurched forward and I missed slamming into the wall by mere millimeters. My heart was beating so loudly in my chest that I barely heard the roar of the crowd when I made it out.
“Very impressive driving,” Envy told me. “For a fleshpile, that is.”
I ignored him again and concentrated on the ever closer finish line. As I approached it, I held back my emotions as I whispered, “This is for you, Katellan.”
I slammed on the brakes, stopping the bike ten meters away from the finish line. Looking over in the stands, I found Nalith and just stared at him while all of the other racers passed me.