Snow fell lightly amidst a landscape alien to human standards. A group of people sat on metal benches, bundled up in jackets, blankets, and whatever else they could find to keep warm in the deathly cold environment. In stark contrast to their surroundings, the crowd was eager with anticipation. Just in front of the stands lay a black road, freshly paved onto curving metal. The sound of squealing tires greeted the crowd's ears, as a group of twelve sleek, multicolored cars rocketed around the corner at breakneck speed. The crowd went wild as a red machine ignited the jet mounted on the back, moving it into second position. The Formula –MAX Grand prix was in full swing, and the final race of the season was heating up as Joe Skyhawk, in the red machine, and Michael Schädel, the "Flaming Skull" in a blue and white machine ahead of him, were tied in point standings for first place. This was the last chance for either one of them to make any more points, and they were each taking every chance they could to pull ahead and run from their respective opponent with everything they had.
Joe pressed in his clutch, feeling his racing coveralls stretch as his legs moved to operate his F-MAX machine. He pressed into the corner, fighting understeer as the booster kicked back on. There is no way the slicks are helping on this road… the road, though clear of ice, was cold, making the tires on his machine remain compact, with little grip. The dual rocket nozzles on the back of the car aided in steering where it counted, but it couldn't eliminate the understeer. He shifted into sixth and let the mid-engined Ferrari V16 scream its one-note song, revving to twenty thousand RPM. "You are NOT getting away, Schädel. Not this time." He and the driver of the car ahead of him were something of friendly rivals, but their competition had caused a temporary rift between them. Now, Joe was desperate to take this victory, pressing his booster activation button as soon as they hit the longest straight on the course. Most drivers used this spot as a place to let their minds take a break; it was a veritable paradise of monotony among the torrent of undulating turns. Joe's mind was racing, as he moved directly into the slipstream created by Michael's car. This "Slingshot" maneuver kept Joe's speedometer climbing, over five hundred kilometers per hour. He only had a few more seconds to pass, and he took the opportunity. The engine cried with victory as the tires groaned, fighting to maintain grip in the corner. Joe took the inside and activated his afterburners before Schädel had the chance to answer in kind. He felt time seem to slow to a crawl, though there was no loss in perceived time at all.
A simulation of a checkered flag fell over the finish line half a second before Schädel crossed it, signifying that there had already been a winner. He pressed in his clutch and brake, punching his steering wheel. "Verdammung!" He had been so close. He had been leading most of the race, but Joe's little "Slingshot" had been the straw that broke the camel's back. They had long been friends, but this grand prix had twisted Michael's perception of Joe. He was a rival, and what's more, he had won a race he should have.
There was no way he'd let that slide.
Joe held his trophy high, noticing his breath fog as he let out a victory yell. This was the moment he'd been waiting for the entire half-year season. In the end, he had defied all odds, coming out on top. Though smiling, his thoughts were a total blur of thoughts and emotions. I won. But at what cost? He knew that Michael was none too pleased with him now, especially now that he was left in second place for a season that he had powered through. At last, the ceremony ended. Joe handed his Trophy to his team, telling them to keep it safe. He turned, seeing a very angry- looking Schädel behind him. His head was steaming from the perspiration on his head, and he pointed an enraged finger at his rival.
"You're lucky you got through that corner the way you did." He said, glaring. "If you messed up your timing half a second more or less than you did, you'd have been a splat on my windshield."
Joe chuckled. "That's why they call it 'Skill', Skull."
Schädel wasn't smiling. "You want skill? Alright then. I assume you won't mind a 20th century challenge?" Joe raised an eyebrow. They were both fans of older cars, especially from the latter half of the 1900's. Joe used his refurbished RX-7 on a regular basis, but it was still race-ready, even by modern standards
"I didn't know you had your 911 here." He shrugged. "A friendly race would be a nice way to wrap up this venue."
"Friendly, my ass!" Schädel practically yelled. "I'm gonna show you that you don't mess with a flaming skull!" He turned and left, still visibly angry. Joe chucked to himself, almost forgetting the whole thing happened as he was surrounded by camera and microphone-wielding reporters, deciding to humor them by answering questions. The promoters at Ferrari and Shell were no doubt happy with his victory, but he knew that he should cover the other sponsors as well- Racing, as much a Joe hated to admit it, was just as much about funding as it was about skill. That's the way it always had been, back even to the days Michael Shumacher raced in F1, The F-MAX grand prix's "Ancestor" of sorts. He needed to say that the Sparco harnesses held him in just right, that the seats had been tailor-made to hold him in securely at three G's. That was the way they could be sure that they'd have their sponsors next season, which was absolutely crucial. After about half an hour of interviews, he headed back to the garage, a wry grin on his face. An unofficial race on an official track was technically illegal, but that was half the thrill of it. He had to make sure the FD was ready for a high-speed run.
Hours later, Joe was leaning up against his RX-7, his gloves doing nothing for the cold. The track was slick, and the cold radiated off in the black night. The adrenaline from his win was just beginning to wear off. It was close to midnight, as he and Schädel had used as a time in the past for these races. This was partially because the track was absolutely deserted at that time of night, but it was mostly to simulate Street Racing. Only difference is, we don't have to worry about anyone getting hurt.
He heard a high-pitched hiss as Schädel came closer. His midnight blue 911 looked handsome with its single white stripe, running lengthwise down the spine of the car. It slowed to a crawl and stopped. Schädel stepped out, still looking very angry and ready to prove his dominance.
"So." Joe grinned. "We ready to do this?"
Schädel nodded coldly. "We'll do this as a single-lap race, since we don't have much time. Running start, side-by -side. We'll begin when we hit the first corner." Joe nodded. That was simple enough, and besides that, they didn't' have anyone to officially start them off. "Let's get started." Joe got into the FD, Buckling into the six-point harness. He'd done this many times, but… Something felt wrong. He shrugged it off and started the ignition, putting the car into gear as Schädel got in the 911 and did the same. They started off, beginning a race that would change them forever…
Doctor Robert Stuart's practice was always highly profitable. His side-career as a pilot in Formula Zero races boosted the amount of people that wanted to be treated by him, but the events of five years ago meant that he had reached a record for the number of patients a day that he treated.
Five years… he thought, a pensive look in his eyes. Hard to believe it's been that long. He remembered it as if it had happened not ten minutes ago…
A flash. Sparks flew as a Green and Yellow machine collided with intent against a black and red machine. The Blazing Drake went up in smoke as the Red Gazelle, unable to maneuver, smashed into the side. The ensuing pile up occurred so quickly and so violently that Dr. Stuart wasn't sure which way was up. He punched a button marked "Eject glass." The already smashed canopy of the Golden Fox flew off in a myriad of shards. Stuart limped out of his machine, pausing as he emptied the contents of his stomach onto the tarmac and steel plating. He then looked up… and looked into the eyes of chaos. "Oh... Oh my god…"
His instincts kicked in. He stopped limping. He ran. He ran into the fire and the smoke, helping everyone that he found crawling out of the burning, twisted carnage. It was difficult to measure exactly how long he stayed, treating everyone, from Capitan Falcon, the victim of a broken leg and a minor concussion, to Leon Guster, the pilot of the Red Gazelle, who had injuries so extensive that his arms and legs needed to be amputated… never mind the internal damage to his torso from the extreme impact.
He later was given an award for outstanding merit- As a direct result of his actions, not a single casualty occurred. He shook his head. "How I wish that never happened… "
A knock at his door interrupted his thoughts. A nurse walked into the office. "Doctor? There's a representative on line for you from the Federation. Stuart's eyebrow's widened. He'd dealt with the Feds before, of course- He had saved many Federation lives with his hands. He nodded, picking up an old-fashioned telephone receiver. "Doctor Stuart speaking."
"Good to hear from you, Doc." He smiled. He knew Jody Summers quite well. She was an admirable pilot, and the two were good friends as a result of injuries she had sustained during training last season. They were now quite good friends. "Ah, Jody. What convinced you to call my office today? Headache?" He joked. At least it's better than thinking about the accident…
"I have a favor to ask of you." She said simply. "We sent a team out to Fenris 2 last week. It's an icy planet, one we had already inhabited, but our scientists believe that there could be dense metal reserves under all the ice." She paused. "While they were drilling through the ice… they found something. Or to be more specific… Someone."
Stuart froze. "Go on."
"You may or may not have heard of Joseph Skyhawk?" Jody continued on. "He won the F-MAX grand Prix in 2246, then disappeared. They found him."
Stuart slumped into his chair. "You think he can be brought back." It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
"If he can, Doctor," Jody stated simply. "You're the man to do it."