The Mk. 2 Marker Sprint GS-R, not the prettiest or most elegant car to ever put rubber to pavement, but it was sought after classic of sorts for being one of the greatest hot hatches ever made. A touring and rally car legend in its day it not many could challenge 400+hp race spec version, but that was ever such a long time ago. A much humbler example of the car sat in a shed next to a modest duplex with a small, young woman shoulder deep in the engine bay. She was Attempting to fit the last upgraded components of an overboost system for the car.
"So this is the big day then?" queried the girl's half vulpine navi as she too was busy learning the new engine management procedures for the system. Valis strained as she fastened the final bolt, pulling her hands back from the engine bay, wiping a bit of perspiration from her brow as she eyed the engine bay with subtle satisfaction.
"Yes, I shall finally wipe that insufferably smug grin from Markus' face, and finally no longer have to hear about his exaggerated tales of greatness, which only ever seem to happen when I'm not around." Armoury grinned as she scrolled through lines of commands,
"And prove once and for all that power is not everything?" the navi's words dripped with sarcasm as she knew exactly what the overboost system was for.
"It's nothing but an equalizer that will let me showcase how my car is otherwise superior, besides, you know how he drives with that boat of his" Valis said as she washed the grime from her hands.
"True, I suppose it's not very sporting of him to somehow occupy the entire track until he reaches the long straight bits of it" the navi agreed, then started to close the engine management programs. Valis then grabbed her PET, heading inside to get cleaned up and prepared for the track day this afternoon.
The sun beat down on the cloudless day, but there was just a hint of crispness in the air as the seasons had started to change. Valis' deep blue Sprint fit in perfectly with the rest of the old and new cars in various states of modification, some more show than go. Others, like her own car, were further towards the unassuming sleeper end of the scale. It took hardly any effort to spot the vulgar, almost comically huge wing on the trunk lid of Markus McCullan's Blake Marauder SS. A fast car in its own right, if only in a straight line, it was the sledge hammer to the Sprint's rapier. Merely competent in the more technical sections of the course, it's true strengths were quarter mile sprints and big long straights. It's suspension and chassis not being the most complex bit of engineering ever seen, but it's huge V8 providing more than enough power to motivate it's vast bulk.
Markus himself was a fairly skilled driver for all the wrong reasons, able to use the girth of the wide muscle car to block out drivers, who would attempt to take advantage of his car's less than stellar road holding abilities. His features were sharp, but almost cartoonish in their exaggeration, having a jutting chin and high cheek bones he almost appeared to be Fonzie's evil cousin. He carried himself with the distinctive swagger of a complete and utter ponce, daring those with lesser vehicles to challenge his mighty throne of mediocrity among casual modders.
The rivalry between him and Valis was a fairly deep one, each having followed a different school of speed, she'd won some, as did he, but since the Marauder the battle had become somewhat one sided. With Markus relying on his money and Valis her mechanical prowess, the money and line blocking was starting to win out more consistently when they raced head to head. Valis' few victories only came when she found a gap in Markus' zealous line defense, though it was the Sprint that generally produced faster time trial laps.
This time would be different though, at least that's what Valis told herself as she found herself and empty pit and unpacked her tools. Pits were marked with stakes and orange tape in a large section of the outfield, they were free to whoever was planning to run their car that day. The trackside pits were reserved for those who raced professionally, rather than the fun runs the rest of the Sunday afternoon crowd was out for. Already valis heard the din of various cars making their way around the track, buzzing four cylinders to 12 cylinder exotica blew past while free run time was going on. She would be racing in some fun heats arranged by the race course management, they were open to everyone and arranged fairly loosely though they did tend to try to keep cars of similar performance together.
Valis tinkered with her car a little more as her PET sat on the cowl under the windshield, her eyes closing as she braced herself, hearing the grate of a particular set of cowboy boots on the gravel.
"Aww, did you bring you little blue bug out to get squashed again? I've already told you there's no replacement for displacement, I'll just blow the doors of this heap again." Valis slowly leaned out to eye Markus from behind the open hood of her car, her eyes half lidded as they often were but still sharp, fixing their unpleasant gaze upon the pile of smugness next to her car.
"If my turbo put half the air through the engine as what comes out of your mouth I certainly wouldn't have any problems with power." Valis might not have been the pinnacle of razor wit, but she could certainly hold her own against the likes of Markus. He simply scoffed at the comment and crossed his arms with that horribly sleazy smirk of his,
"We'll see how tough you talk when we're out on the track and you're stuck behind me, staring at my tail lights and eating my dust and...stuff." Satisfied that he'd won that round, Markus strutted off back towards his car. Valis rolled her eyes and continued to wrench away, awaiting the moment they started to announce the beginning of the fun run heats.
Valis laced up her driving shoes, then donned her gloves and helmet before climbing into her car. She slotted her PET into its holster between the seats and plugging it into the centre console. Armoury bought up the engine management programs as she transferred to the small display screen on the car's dash, looking over at Valis as the car rolled towards the starting grid.
"So do you want to try and get this over with quickly?" the navi asked as she did a quick systems check.
"No, we'll warm the car up for a few laps first, then hit him right at the end. Otherwise we'll just get caught up in traffic, I'll be able to keep up with him...I'm always able to keep up."
"Just not quite pass?"
"That's going to change today" Valis whispered half to herself as she tightened her grip on the wheel, taking her starting spot in fourth position. Glancing in her mirror she saw the big black Marauder in fifth, though she knew he wouldn't be there for long. Eight cars sat on the grid as a few of the other modders had gathered to watch the heat, engines revving as they all awaited the drop of the green flag. Valis got herself settled as the flagman climbed up to his box. He selected the green flag and looked over the grid before raising it over his head, the collective revs of the cars raising with it as they got set for the off. A chorus of squealing rubber followed the drop of the flag, Valis having to react quickly to dodge left around the car in front of her which had botched its start. She moved up to third briefly before she heard the familiar bellow of that black monster tearing up the starting straight of the track. He always beat her into the first corner, that's how he stayed ahead, and would continue to block her until he got back out on the track's big main straight.
The two lead cars managed to stay ahead of Markus through the more technical back side of the course, but as they came around the last big left hand corner onto the straight he had them both outgunned. Valis kept pace with the two down the long stretch of track, and with Markus now out of the way dispatched the first car in the tight left at the end of the straight. Getting on the binders a fraction of a second later and outbreaking them she passed the car in third on the outside. She had all the advantages in the twisty back section of the track, the featherweight hatch could break later and bite harder into the corners. The Sprint's all wheel drive let the car hang on at higher speeds through a curve and get on the power sooner coming out of a turn. She soon took second place on the fast sweeper leading into a tight right hander before the big wide left leading to the main straight. As always she was sitting right on Markus' bumper until he was able to get the hammer down and pull away.
Valis bided her time for now, the race was 10 laps and she was only 2 in yet. She kept to her strategy of staying tight to Markus, any ground he gained on the straight was quickly lost once the road got twisty. The Sprint hummed along as Valis saved her tires for now, hardly having to push to keep pace with the constantly over steering Marauder. She made half hearted attempts to pass here and there just to keep Markus on his toes until the lap counter hit 9, now was the time to make her move.
"Alright Armoury, arm the system, 80% overboost on turn nine on my mark. Let's not blow it up first time out" Valis instructed as she stayed glued to Markus through the sweeper and headed into the tight right corner again. Armoury nodded as she prepped the system, which would let the turbo push its compression far past its normal limits, watching the engine for any signs of trouble. The two cars came out of turn eight and onto the big left hand turn nine before the main straight "Let's light 'em up!" Valis called out as she started to lay into the throttle. She turned to the inside of Markus, coming out of the turn on his left side in an overtaking attempt. Her front fender was level pegging with the rear wheel of the Marauder as it often was out of this turn before it unleashed its power and pulled away, but this time it was different. Valis watched the needle of the Sprint's boost gauge start climbing higher than it ever had before, the tiny car surging with new found power as Markus was now struggling to break away.
All eyes were locked on the duel for the lead as it certainly wasn't playing out the way any of them expected, the sound of the two cars pushing to the limit was immense. The tiny turbocharged four of the Sprint was like a thousand nests of giant hornets furiously swarming about as they were fed through a jet engine while backed up by the rattling baritone of the huge V8 like a machine gun that fired roaring tigers. The battle punctuated by sputtering bangs and spits of flame from the smaller car with every gear change. The rich overboosted fuel mixture caused huge wads of unburnt vapour to be dumped into the red hot exhaust manifold with every lift of the throttle to swap cogs. Also heard by all was the exact point at which Markus finally panicked, the Marauder's roar stuttering once the engine bounced off its rev limiter in a vain attempt to find some extra power to overwhelm the inexplicably swift hatchback. Valis held on as both their speedometers climbed at a suicidal rate, Markus' mistake having made them dead even coming into the tight left at the end of the straight.
Neither of them had ever gone this fast down this straight before, and the track they had left to work with was very quickly running out. The nose of the Marauder dived as Markus stood on the break, Valis waiting just a single, frantic beat of her pounding heart longer before stomping hard on both left pedals. She felt the back of the car go light and start to pull as the right front wheel locked up, smoke pouring off the tires of both cars as Valis flicked the nose of the Sprint into the corner. She threw the wheel to the right, the back of the car coming around gradually as she found second gear. Her right foot steering the car with the throttle as guided the car through a huge four wheel drift, having come in far too hot. She fared better than Markus though who fishtailed wildly through the bend behind her, nearly spinning off the track before recovering. They both knew it was over however, it was the last lap and only the technical section of the track remained through which Markus had no hope of catching up. Valis eased the Sprint through the remainder of the lap, opening a comfortable lead in just a few turns before rounding the final left one more time and taking the checkered flag. There were a few scattered cheers from the crowd, heard from those who knew of the rivalry between the two lead cars and the triumph that had just taken place.
The drivers did a cool down lap or two, eventually returning to the pits to let the next set set of eager drivers line up for their heat. Naught but a quietly smug grin and a vicious glare was exchanged between Valis and Markus as they rolled next to each other before turning away to their respective pit areas. Valis' expression was mirrored by Armoury who flashed her fangs with her smirk.
"THAT....was very satisfying" the navi said finally as they came to a stop and Valis started to get out of her race gear.
"That it was," Valis agreed "I imagine it will likely keep Geiger away for a little while if only for shame." Armoury smirked again at that comment, Geiger being the name of Markus' lecherous navi who hit on any female navi he met. Much to Armoury's dismay he was usually around when Markus pestered Valis at track days, though luckily he appeared absent today. Their interactions generally ended with some form of harm inflicted upon Geiger along with his declarations that she'll come around some day. With her mission for the day complete Valis gave her car a quick once over before packing her tools again and heading for home.
"Well since I've had my chance to blow off some steam we can probably do some virus busting or some such tonight. Maybe you can have a look around net square and see if you can find another navi to go busting with." Armoury twitched her tail a little with Valis' suggestion, she wasn't actively antisocial, but really didn't seek the company of other navis very much, though at very least she might as well give it a chance. Once they arrived home Valis jacked in her PET into her computer then went off to have a shower and make supper for herself, leaving Armoury to do as she pleased in the Netsquare for the time being.