"Why was this a good idea?" I hissed to Han as we shot through the city with the white and red flag flapping behind us.
He shrugged with a smirk.
"You didn't think it would be easy, did you?" He drawled. My hovercam bounced happily by his shoulder
"No, but I didn't think it would be that bad."
We reached the drop off point, hastily hung the flags from the hooks that other crims had already set up, and dropped into a steep drop down into the drain pipes to meet the rest of the Crims.
Our plan had had to be completely scrapped. The wardens were still freaking out over the train thing, so we couldn't hang it in our preferred location. We also had to watch for copycats, so posting this footage was out too. We still stole it, but without it being broadcast, it didn't really prove anything.
The cold dark tunnel smelled like earth and reminded me of my little dip in the stream. I shivered at the thought. I was ready to be up in the sun. I told my hovercam to turn on its lights.
"There they are" Morimoto called when he saw the light cut through the dark space.
"How did it go? My uncle's pissed." Takashi asked.
We accelerated around the corner into the cavernous room where a few Crims were playing thumb twitch games or talking. Takashi's eyes were glazed over with his eye screen.
"Do they know it's us?" I asked with a sigh. I was super tired and this trick was pushing the limit even for me.
"No, they have no idea. You managed to kill every camera." He almost sounded impressed.
"You know it won't be enough to make me being inducted in the Crims not look bad." I reminded as I sat down on my board, carefully holding my injured arm. He smirked.
"What made you think you were done?" The blood rushed out of my face as I realized I should have seen this coming. This could be an elaborate prank; Takashi was known for being cruel when he was bored. "You did skip some of the planned obstacles."
"What exactly else did you have in mind?"
Stealing was bad. Stealing from a secure building where the mayor was working was worse. I was in so much trouble if I ever got caught. Most criminals did these days; with the reputation economy, they wanted credit.
"I had to make sure you weren't going to be another stupid, attention whore kicker." He replied lazily.
"That's Hayate and you know it!"
"You do kick more than the rest of us." Morimoto cut in.
"You're going to kick an interview tonight too. I want to control the press on this." Takashi ordered.
"Won't it make it worse if it's my brother? We are shooting for impartiality." Takashi blinked away his eye screen.
"I don't really care. We can kick a few shots of the race and be done with it."
"Everyone's kicked everything worth kicking from the race." I had seen myself disappear through that train tunnel at least a dozen times that morning. Takashi chuckled darkly.
"Our race. You and me."
Pride flared up in my chest. I had been working hard to prove that I was better and now was my chance to show his out of practice ass that I was the one that had it.
"She needs a bungee jacket on and we need to stay over lots of metal or our parents will kill me." Hayate put in as he floated over. I gave him a small smile for his attempt at caring.
It was almost cute. There was no way I would need that bungee jacket.
I screamed as I was turned end over end before being dropped unceremoniously to the ground. The pain in my shoulder bloomed to an almost unbearable level as I slowly opened my eyes and tried to get my bearings.
Instead of seeing the cloudy sky over me, I saw the bottom of DK's hoverboard as he dove down at me. I panicked as I threw myself to the side and rolled out of the way. He laughed maniacally as he came to a smooth, sudden stop and stepped off his board.
"What the fuck was that?" I gasped, trying to get my breath back.
He was damn good. They all were, but Takashi was the best I'd ever seen.
Turns out they were also the best I'd ever seen at dodging nosy hovercams and staying out of the public 'd ended up in the sprawling Rusty Ruins and set out around a brutal course that the Crims were apparently very familiar with. There was a lot of metal around to give the boards plenty of lift; until there was no metal at all. At the first break in the metal under my board, I had panicked as it fell out from under me like a rock. I'd landed hard back on the grippy riding as it found shaky purchase on the frame of a big metal skyscraper. I'd sloppily tried to get my balance and slid straight into the rusty structure bad shoulder first.
Han had appeared at my side, whispering tips on how to control my speed across the breaks and warning me about a second one on our course. I did no better on that one and Takashi was beating me by a mile. I had managed to catch up to him right at the end, but he stretched out a foot and brought it down hard on the surface of my board, causing one side to dip. I tried to correct for the addition of his weight, but then he stepped back on his board and I dumped myself off the other side. We were so high up that for a second I was afraid the lifters on my bungee jacked weren't going to catch.
I was super grateful to Hayate for asking for the course adjustments. I would have dislocated my shoulder again for sure if he hadn't have done that.
"I think it's time for a vote!" Takashi waved for the rest of the Crims join us down on the broken up pavement.
Vote! I had thought that I was automatically in. My heart started to pound. I couldn't go back to my dorm after being around them. I was meant to be out here with them.
"We haven't finished the course." I whimpered as I felt the tears in my eyes from the pain of my shoulder. I also knew that if we finished the course I might still be able to impress them.
Hayate shushed me as he helped me get to my feet. I was so shaky from the fall that he sat me down on my floating, waiting hoverboard.
"The only person to finish the course with Takashi is Han." He soothed gently. I had been avoiding looking at Han, but I snuck a look out of the corner of my eye. He shrugged.
"I vote yes." Takashi started. The others slowly started listing off their votes.
"Has to be absolutely unanimous." Hayate filled in. "It will be. You passed the test better than those two." He dropped his voice and subtly cut his eyes to two Crims standing next to Morimoto.
One by one they all voted yes, until we got to Han. He glanced at me when it was his turn and his full lips pulled up into a smile.