Foreword: This is based after the new SSX (2012), and focuses around conquering a new set of Deadly Decents. If anybody is confused on the plot, and how it pans out, PM me and I'll be more than happy to explain.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the SSX Characters, Tricks, or the Deadly Descents name. However, my character, Nick, is created as an original character.
SSX: Second Deadly Descents
"Adventure is just bad planning."
Roald Amundsen, Antarctic Explorer
Chapter One: A Meeting with Fate
Somewhere in the middle of the Sahara Desert
Another day, another ride. This one, however, is slightly different. I'm sitting inside of a helicopter, alone in it's cargo area, piloted by some Aussie called Wizard, or something, and with my board at my feet. My palms are sweaty, and my cheeks too. This is heat at it's worst, and rather than my snowboarding jacket and pants on, I've got a blue t-shirt, and jeans on, something with another generic logo. A grey beanie hat, and a pair of Aviator sunglasses accompanies it, and a headset was on my right ear, which I had only put on a moment ago, to speak to Wizard and the person who I'm going to meet. An MP3 headphone is in my other ear, and I'd already put on The Island (Madeon Remix) by Pendulum, which was just starting now, and put me in the mood for what I'm going to do. It was always like this, when I rode, since it just felt more epic. I guess that SSX is always famed for it's music, and with mine, I guess it was adding to it.
Most of this stuff was something that I haven't worn in a while, but it was worth digging out for today. Normally it's cold, and death that I have to worry about, and now, I'm going into sand and heat, somewhere my board would consider no-go territory. I remembered when I first thought this up. And the fellow rider I'd meet. Someone who is SSX gold. Yet she somehow agreed to this. But she told me that she was up for riding something else, and for that exact reason, she wasn't in the helicopter. She's in nature's sandiest playpark, and probably warming herself up in the heat of this place, something I didn't think she needed to do. Wherever she is, when we got to the drop, I'm going to see her sooner rather than later.
"Hey, Wizard, how long?" I ask, crackling my knuckles, as I look out the small window behind me, to see a sea of sand, standing as it has for millennia.
"Two minutes. You sure it's rideable?" Wizard replies, a little concerned by the end of his sentence. Still, he didn't doubt me one bit, and I was glad be at least did that. He had done some of SSX's chopper rides, and he seemed like a good pilot, for his laid back style.
"For a while. The dune's one of the largest in the world. And I've always got you to hang onto if I run out of sand that goes downhill. Besides, this stuff should have enough bounce to give me some good opportunities to get some tricks in." I respond quickly, checking the connections to my board. I know that I look like some kind of loner, especially after what SSX did. Conquered the 9 Deadly Descents, and you know what...that gave me an idea. I was getting good then, but now. I'm ready. I want to go and do a few others they didn't see, but right now, this was just one ride that I want to have as a bit of a laugh. The board is a multicoloured mess, with red, blue, green, purple and yellow crosses as well as a main backdrop of white making it a nice vinyl, and the board itself, like the kind they had used on the Deadly Descents, able to be removed from my feet at will. I know that I sound like a copycat, what with all this similarity- but what I'm going to face is going to be different, and I'm probably going to need a few of them to come and give me some help. I'm not doing this alone. Besides, people like Alex and Ty still want to kick it, even after what they did. After they heard what I was up for, they were in, and the Second Deadly Descents were on. To conquer the Atlas Mountains, the Pyrenees, Norway's Lyngen Alps, Iceland's Volcanoes, Australia's Snowy Mountains (aptly named, in my mind anyway), and the Kamatchka Range in Siberia. A good list, and stuff that still needed doing. That was the future, however, for now, I have other matters. This was one meeting with destiny I have to make. As Wizard slows the chopper's forward speed, in a swift manoeuvre, I stand up, hanging on, with my even sweatier palm. It must be at least 45 degrees centigrade, maybe even 50.
"Alright Nick, you're good to go. How do you reckon you want to go in?"
"Trapdoor. She'll be waiting." I respond, moving to the centre of the helicopter's cargo area, my stomach churning as always on these drops, and as I hold the bar, I nod, as it opens.
"Good to go." Wizard says simply, as I hang suddenly, clinging on, as Wizard adjusts the chopper's position, once again. As I look down, my stomach becomes violent. This feels horrible. I want to be sick, with the feeling that this stuff was completely different. First time on it...hopefully not my last. As the dune's size came into account, I hear a faint noise, of a whine. Not of the chopper, but of something else. It instantly comes into my mind. She's here. And as soon as I see her come straight into my field of vision, below me, she was over the very edge and top of the dune. The engine of the motocross bike wails, and it's rider, one that I knew wasn't only a world-winning motocross rider. That's Zoe Payne for me, I guess. I smile, as I yell at the top of my voice, to Wizard, knowing it's time to go:
"See ya down the bottom!" as I fall, into the few meters of abyss. Out of the chopper. It felt like slow motion, as I straighten myself, and brace up. When I hit the sand, everything I know passes for a momentary blur, as the sand is kicked up. I'm going down. Her outline is gunning down the dune, a few meters past me, landed from her immense jump that her bike's suspension is soaking up, and a very certain guess that underneath her helmet, she was smiling. Time to show her what I can do.
"Zoe Payne. We meet at last." I speak, into my headset, with my Welsh accent sticking out a little, as I then ride a small curve, to test the sand's grip. It was like really dry powder, and hard to turn on, but it feels comfortable, and good for tricks, not racing.
"It's a pleasure, Nicolas. Let's see what you got." Zoe replies slyly, using my full first name, and a smirk came on my face, as I know that Zoe wasn't going to just be here for a little fun. As I straighten out, and go straight down, unaware of my speed, I know it's time to show her what I really have got. Zoe's ahead- but she knows that I'm coming. Her engine whines, as I hear her voice through my headset.
"Going to do a trick, or what?" She asks, as I know that I can't say no to that, the corner of my eye getting that she was glimpsing back. One last mental check, on the board and how loose it feels compared to what I'd normally have, and I reply.
"Watch this." I say, as I turn sharply, and jumping using the momentum, get myself off the steep dune, away from it and into the air. Just for a few seconds, but it's long enough, for what I need to prove. I unhook myself from the board using the momentum, the board just about following me, and make my move. As I start to fall away from the board, I make the snowboard flip, both horizontally and vertically, by contacting it in the right-rear. And in this entire rush, I find myself doing a backflip, not tucked, and separated from the board still, and realizing that I'm upside down, and about few off of a sand dune. Reality hurts, but it makes me come back round, and get strapped up to the board again, almost too late as I hurtle back to the sand, landing into the soft sand. And I know that somewhere over there, Zoe knows what I did. Though I know she's going to want more.
"Haha! Get that one on Facebook, will ya!" I yell out loud, and I know that it was also into my headset. Being back on sand with an adrenaline rush keeps me going, but I know the dune's running out now. I keep winding back and forth, my hands covered in sand, which had accumulated through the wind here.
"Where did you learn that one? The Tour?" Zoe asks, over the headset, as I know that she definitely recognised that. And somehow, inside, I know that somehow, she wants to see more.
"Nope. I guess I'm a quick learner. I'll meet with you on the next dune." I reply, with a smirk on my face, as I see her blast the bike to the bottom, and my run finish. The dune was a quick run, but unlike any other mountain, that entire decent took forty six seconds.
"Wizard, I need a lift. Pronto." I speak into my headset, as my run runs out quite literally, and I'm at the bottom. The sand has no momentum, and as I look up, back at the dune, Wizard's helicopter comes down, toward me, and swoops gracefully, something I even wondered possible with it's size when I first saw it. It comes ever closer and closer, and as it does, I give Wizard thumbs up, as I detach myself from my board. I feel good. Adrenaline rushes through my veins, and I know that till the next dune, I can cool off a little, from this heat, that really now sets in. To think that I'd get a tan here. But I bet that wasn't why there wasn't a tourist resort within 100 miles of this place. The sand is just everywhere, and I thought you could be snow-blind easy- this sand just blows everywhere, and onto any piece of exposed skin you have. But as I take my board in my hands, I know it's onto the next one. I toss my board in first, into where the side door is open, and the chopper is a meter off the desert floor, and then jump up, onto the skid of the chopper, pulling myself up, into the helicopter.
"Get us out of here. I don't want to lose a second on Zoe."
A few minutes later, I'm still on the chopper. My board is at my feet, and I'm hanging out the side of the chopper, Sitting on the skid, and my board below me. It felt like a cool position, and as I looked below me, not directly, I see Zoe, still following us like she had for a pretty long while.
"Zoe, you going to show me what you can do? It's your turn." I ask, a little questioning, as I glance behind, and where she is picking her route through the dunes. She was getting a lot of air out of them, and she wasn't exactly wasting her time airborne, making a few tricks over them. But she knew that I wanted something special.
"I don't need to prove myself to you, Nick. But if you want." Zoe replies, as I then hear an even louder roar, of the motorbike, and instantly, I can tell that whatever speed she had before, as high as it was, has been doubled. I can hear the bike shrilling, clearly strained, but working as fast as it can, and then I realize what she's about to do. As she goes over the next dune, my mind wants to slow this down. Just to analyse it. My tricks are crazy, and probably up there with SSX, but what Zoe does, in that exact moment, makes me rethink this again. She comes level with the helicopter, and in a simple move, comes within a meter of me, doing a double backflip. While only keeping hold of the rear of the bike, one handed, and a distinct impression that she wanted to leave on me. Noting special to her, I bet. But to me…that tangle with that proximity blew my mind. Any closer, and she would have hit me, and the chopper. I want to curse, but I don't, as I know she knows that nothing needs to be said of what she did, as she comes back down,
"Uhh….Zoe, I think you proved your point." I reply, a little less cocky than before, as I take into account that distance, and what I just had to see.
"But it's only another day at the office." Zoe replies, and I know that any cockiness, on both our sides, is gone. Somehow, I know that this entire tour is going to be like this, and I don't know how to react to that. I guess that she seems nice, but even I can tell, that Zoe isn't exactly my ideal riding partner. A friend, of course. I mean, that's what we've all got to at least try and be, or we're all just riders. Just people with sponsors and just in it so that someone on YouTube can give you a like. But thanks to human nature, we're not like that, and because of that, it is why in this exact moment, I can do what I love, and know that I'm sharing it in someone. But, I know that as a riding partner, Zoe might not be for me. There's just something. I keep thinking, as I then look around, into the sea of sand that surrounds us.
"Oi, Nick. This is gonna have to be your last drop, I ain't running too good on fuel." Wizard says, his accent still sticking out, as we come to the dune, finally here after what in my mind seems like a lifetime. I stand up, not in my hanging position any more, and wait for Wizard to give the green light. Zoe's still playing catch-up, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that she would come sooner rather than later.
"Alright then. Just make sure I have enough airtime, and we'll get out of here." I reply, as the chopper jerks a little, and the altitude slightly increases. Not a huge deal, but enough. I know that I can pull a trick in that time.
"Done. Go when ready."
That simple speech makes me automatically react, and as I fall from the side of the chopper, for the second time today and instantaneously grab the side of my board, only taking one foot off, and spinning it round twice. That's all I can afford, as I then hook back up, and go for a landing. I knew that I was cutting it tight, and I guess that was a risk I wanted to take, in the heat of the moment. But I slammed into the sand, unlike the first time, within milliseconds of pulling the trick, and it threw me off balance, as I then fell down a little, a little dazed and confused. It annoyed me, as I knew I had screwed that up. As I wiped my face of sand, a horrible feeling compared to snow, I carried on, out of it only just, and covered in patches of the yellow stuff. It was easy to wipe off, but I didn't have time. As I decided to move on from that, I gave myself a bit of speed, and pulled off a few more tricks, from ground ones, such as tail presses, to small jumps and grabs. Getting my system back in it. I had nothing to prove, so I just went with what I could, and moved on from that incident. God, I hate sand. It felt nothing like snow, and the heat was killing me, still. I wouldn't mind coming back here despite all of it, I think to myself, but in that instant, a batch of sand gets blown into my face. Again. That thought is quickly dispelled out, as I carry on, through what started as an exotic adventure becoming trickier and trickier. By the time I make it to the bottom, I still haven't seen Zoe anywhere. But that run, compared to my first, felt a bit duff. Nowhere near as good. Maybe I just like things once. Maybe that's why I became an adrenaline junkie. The days in Patagonia…maybe that reminds me why I do this. Looking for new thrills. But I'll always be back to my board. And so long as it's snow under my feet, I'll be happy, not sand. I can say I at least tried it, anyway. As the gradient finally finishes out, Wizard is already waiting, the helicopter kicking up sand fiercely. The same old drill. Zoe's motorbike can be heard in the distance, and as she clears the dune, coming down where I had gone slowly down, she makes my pace seem humiliating. Then again…she does have more than enough horsepowers in her bike's engine, and compared to what I have to use- gravity, it's a big difference, every way you look at it. As she pulls up, and stops, to take her helmet off for a moment, I take my board off, as the rear door of the helicopter opens, as I know that Wizard's got some room for her bike. It's going to be tight, but I think all of us would agree on getting Zoe and her bike out of here rather than leaving her in the heat to cook over.
"Zoe...I know you might like this stuff, but I ain't coming back here. Ever." I say, a little annoyed and laughingly, as I quickly add onto it, to stop myself from looking a bit awkward.
"I guess it wasn't too bad. I got a good run in the first time." I quickly add, as Zoe turns the bike's noisy engine off, and knows that I just want to leave. She clearly seems at one with this place too, but sometimes, I don't know if I can read people that well, so I'll leave that up to debate in my head. On what she thinks of me. I guess I'll find out.
"Yeah. Well, let's just get out of here." Zoe says, the last part of the sentence a little quick. At least I wasn't alone in the fact that this place was boiling. She led the bike forward, and into the chopper, whilst I was check my sand-covered board, knowing that it was going to be a pain to clean. The sand isn't that pleasant, and even though it has an appearance of being easy to wipe off, it gets everywhere. And that is what makes it hell, for all alike. As I then got in the chopper, via the rear door, I nodded, as Wizard knew it was time to go. I had to like the guy, but I knew that the real Wizard came out in the mountains, and sometimes, he was a lifesaver of which I probably couldn't live with, on a Deadly Decent. When you second-guessed, he gave you the line, and tips. I guess his attitude is what's most likeable about him, though he can be sometimes just too chilled out. Wonder if he used to be SSX. Maybe, just maybe. But for now, as I look out, at the sea of sand, I that it's the same as always, but as I look at Zoe, I know that she's someone who just changes.
"You really need to stop staring into space sometimes." Zoe says, as I know that I seemed a little awkward, at that precise moment, as I look around a lot to compensate for that.
"Yeah, I guess." I reply, a little meekly, as I then know that things are as always. And at this exact moment in time, I'm fully aware of what I look like. I know that I have to move it along, and quickly.
"Reckon the team's up for the Atlas?" I ask Zoe, just out of interest, and whether she knows the answer or not, I don't care.
"I know Ty can't wait till Iceland. But apart from that, I think that they're all ready. What about you?" Zoe replied, as she puts her helmet next to her, off of her knees, and wipes her sweat from her forehead.
"You know me, Zoe. I ain't a quitter. And you know that if you get down that Deadly Decent before me, I ain't going to let it go." I said, a little more upbeat, as I know that some friendly competition never hurt anyone.
"If you say so, pretty boy." Zoe replied, chuckling as she says it, and I know that it's just sometimes the way people see me. As a rookie, and nothing amazing. But when I get the next Deadly Decent, I guess it's all up from there. Something to establish myself on properly. But whatever lies ahead, I know that as soon as we get back to our base, in the foothills of the High Atlas, then it's going to be the usual routine of sleep, eat, ride, and alcohol if I feel like it. Ah, I love my life.
To say the least, this is an introduction, with a definite difference, starting on sand of all things, but it also serves as one to the characters. Nick, the character played in first person, is going to serve as the protagonist during this story (blantantly). As you can tell, he can be easy-going or on edge, though even I got to admit- he has some likenesses to Mac, but there won't be as many as soon as I can develop his character. You've got Zoe Payne- SSX Royalty, and I found it pretty cool to use a different way to introduce her, through I will add much more speech to help flesh it out, compared to the raw snowboarding (or sandboarding in this case), and Wizard, the Australian pilot (personally, my favourite out of the three). More characters are on the way, though I won't reveal which ones…
Next up: Chapter 2- Peak Performance