Chapter 1 – Broken Promise
The IGPX, the Immortal Grand Prix, is the world's most popular motorsport. Two teams of three pilots and their mechs speed down a race track at over 350 miles per hour, battling it out for the checkered flag. IGPX City is the crowning achievement of the sport, an entire city built around the most famous race track of all, the Big Eye. This 60 mile twisting track, suspended high above the ground by steel wire cables, stands in contrast to the corporate skyscrapers of the companies that all earn the livelihoods thanks to the IGPX. It is a true symbol of the modern technological industrial age.
However not everyone is fortunate to live in this utopia of technological achievement. Outside the city limits lies a vast expanse of harsh desert, pocketed by small towns and settlements. Out here is nothing but refuse and waste, leftovers from of the city, both mechanical and human.
"And River Marque takes the checkered flag! Followed by Johnny Lipkin in second! For the second year in a row, Sledge Mamma takes the 2057 IG-1 championship!"
The iconic booming voice of Benjamin Bright blared through the speakers of a small television in the corner of an old warehouse. Fifteen year-old Joshua Noa sat at a workbench, tinkering with a now outdated diesel engine he had found in the mountain of junk that lay piled in the center, only listening to the biggest sporting event of the year. He heard the loud sound of creaking metal as the side entrance opened. "Is that you Grandpa? Where've you been? You went out to get food over an hour ago!" he shouted without lifting his shaggy, brown haired head away from his work.
"Sorry, I didn't bring any food, but I'd like to talk to you all the same." He heard that voice before in interviews and press conferences. There was no mistaking the voice Cunningham Hume, former forward of Team Velshtein, three time MVP, and IGPX champion. Joshua opened his mouth to say something but instead of words, an unintelligible mumble dribbled out. His eyes wandered towards the floor. "You must be Joshua Noa. You probably already know this, but my name is Alexander Hume. You can call me Cunningham." The ace pilot once known as the Ghost offered his hand, "I'm putting a team together. How would you like to be a part of it?"
Two Years Later
"We're in the final moments of the last IG-2 race this season, people, and Team Suzaku has a substantial lead!"
From the stands the cheering crowd can already see three mechs coming down the homestretch, bright sunlight glistening against their green and silver plating.
"Team Suzaku takes the checkered flag! This will be Suzaku's second championship in a row and will bump them up to the IG-1 next season, pretty impressive for a rookie team that came out of seemingly nowhere just last yea—Hold on! What's this? It looks like a fight's broken out on the track between the two team forwards! While they sort that out, let's take a look at the history of Team Suzaku."
Many hopeful teams compete in the IGPX, all of them start out in the IG-3, and the rookies of Team Suzaku are no different. What made them the team to watch though was the news that their coach was the legendary Cunningham Hume, a.k.a. the Ghost, who retired from the IGPX when Velshtein disbanded in 2055. They blasted through the IG-3 last year, winning every one of their races, and just now did it again this year in the IG-2.
"It seems whatever problems they had down there have been sorted out. Now, let's go to the winner's circle!
All members of Team Suzaku, sans forward, stood awkwardly on the winner's circle amidst flashing cameras and clamoring journalists after the incident out on the track just moments ago. The exceptions were the beaming owner, and the politely smiling Cunningham. "We just heard that your forward was disqualified for disorderly conduct," a reporter called out, "Any comments on how this will affect your performance next year in the IG-1."
"He has always been a bit of a hot head but his conduct out on the track today was clearly inappropriate, and we will accept the decision that has been passed down. Nevertheless he was a talented pilot who will be hard to replace," answered Cunningham.
"But it won't be a problem," Michelle interjected, "Every member of our team, from the pilots to the mechanics, is a talented individual handpicked by the Ghost himself, and he'll definitely come through again. Watch out IG-1, because here we come!"
A small after party was held back at Suzaku's headquarters that evening. Along with the team, Michelle had also inherited the old facilities from her late uncle, Tom Suzaku, a smalltime entrepreneur and lifelong fan of the IGPX. Initially the place was in heavy disrepair, having not been used in over twenty years. Luckily for her Cunningham fronted the money to refurbish everything, but they were still underfunded and underequipped compared to IG-1 veterans like Sledge Mamma and Satomi. They were no doubt this year's underdogs. That's what she was counting on.
Cunningham was already in the meeting room with the rest of the team. As Michelle stepped in, Cunningham clapped his hands together and began. "Now that everyone's here, let's get started. First thing's first, congratulations on getting into the IG-1. It's what we've been working towards for the past two years, and Ms. Suzaku and I are very proud of all of your hard work, but it's not over yet. Our goal is to win it all!" The room erupted into an uneasy applause. "I was expecting a little more enthusiasm. I know what you're all thinking about, which is my next point. The most important thing we have to do right now is find a replacement pilot as soon as possible, but that's something for Ms. Suzaku and me to take care of, not you guys, so try to enjoy yourselves." The cheering this time was noticeably louder.
Mixed in amongst the small, celebrating crowd was Joshua Noa, holding a drink and smiling politely at anyone who looked his way. "Hey, thanks for all your hard work." Joshua was talking to Suzaku's midfielder Amanda Fox, in her white and green team jacket, and sitting her wheelchair.
"Yeah, no, just doing my job," Joshua mumbled back.
"No, really. If wasn't for your modifications to the standard controls I wouldn't even be out there. I owe you a lot you know."
"It's nothing really."
"Hey, come here bit," asked Amanda, motioning towards herself. Unsure of what to do, Joshua bent down closer, and was treated to a hearty and very hard slap on the back. "I'm giving you a compliment here, the least you can do is take credit where credit is do. Have a little more pride in yourself, yeah?"
"Then you're welcome?"
"You know, no one would guess that a mouse like you was actually the crew chief." Joshua shrugged.
An hour later, the festivities were over and most of the people had left. Joshua, having stayed behind to tidy up, was the only one in the now quiet meeting room, though maybe staying behind wasn't the most accurate way to describe it. He lived here. Not here exactly but at Team Suzaku's headquarters. Due to his circumstances a room was set aside during the refurbishing period for him to stay in. After all IGPX City was a long way from home. He didn't mind living in the facility though, he loved being around the mechs, and getting to work on them was a dream come true.
From behind he heard the hiss of the automatic doors of the meeting room opening. A toneless, steady voice asked him, "Do you need any help?" Standing in the doorway was, Kari Isabel, with her short, bright green hair and team jacket tied around her waist. She was the only one on Suzaku who had a smaller voice than Joshua.
"Nah, I'm just about done," said Joshua, tying up the last trash bag. "Where were you? You missed out on all the fun."
"Oh. Well, alright. So what are you still doing here? Everyone left already."
"Ms. Suzaku usually takes me back."
"She's still here?"
"She's talking with Cunningham in her office. I was told to come get you."
"Do you know why?" Kari shook her head.
It's been about two years since that fateful day when Cunningham came to his rundown home where he lived with his grandfather.
On the day he left, he and his grandfather had their last conversation together. "Josh, there's something I want to tell you. When I was a young man, just starting out, I had dreams. I wanted to make it big as an engineer, to make lots of money and move to a big city, but unfortunately reality never quite meets expectations. Things didn't go as planned and I eventually settled down, got married, and became content. I came to believe that those dreams were just the foolish fancies of youth.
"It was when we had your mother that I realized that I wasn't wrong to strive for something better. In fact I needed to in order to provide a better life for my family, so that my children would have not only the opportunity to dream as I once did, but to dream even bigger. I promised myself that I would work even harder so that we could one day leave this backwater town.
"But once again it just wasn't meant to be. Time continued to move forward, your mother grew up and had you. One day I lost your grandmother, and then your mother. I grew tired and resentful about not being able to keep my promise, until today. You are the only family I have left, and at the very least you will be able to move on to bigger and better things."
"But grandpa, I'm already happy here, I don't need anything else. You're the one who should go, you're a much better mechanic, and you deserve it," said Joshua.
"No, Josh, I've taught you everything I know. I may be better than you now but that's because I'm old. I've got lots of experience, experience that you'll acquire with time. You've got much more talent than I do and a lifetime to get even better. Me on the other hand, I'm just about at the end of my rope. Besides me and long distance travel haven't been on speaking terms for a quite a while.
"My lifetime of hard work has been for one thing, to give you the opportunities I didn't have. Don't be afraid to take advantage of opportunity when it presents itself."
A year later I received the news that he passed away. His last words to me had been "A boy has the right to dream."
A warm glow from the crack under the door of Ms. Suzaku's office seeped into the darkened hallway. Standing just outside, Joshua could make out a little bit of the ongoing conversation.
"So you agree that Amanda should be the new forward?" said the voice that belonged to Cunningham.
"That's not a problem. What I'm not sure about is who you think should replace her." That sounded like Ms. Suzaku. "He's never piloted a mech in his life."
"He knows them inside and out."
"Well, why don't we ask him what he thinks?" The automatic door opened to reveal a surprised Joshua. "Come on in," invited Cunningham, "we were just talking about you."
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the opening ceremonies of the 2060 IGPX season!" announced Benjamin Bright, standing on the center of the stage, with a spotlight shining down. If you couldn't see him, you could definitely hear Bright's loud voice, but he was definitely hard to miss, despite his short stature, in his bold purple suit and orange bowtie. "Without further ado, let's start by introducing the defending champions, Team Sledge Mamma! Please put your hands together for the twins Duo and Trey, and forward, River Marque!" The spotlight illuminated the three pilots, standing in front of a display of Sledge Mamma's black and blue mechs. "You guys have been champions four years in a row now, any words for your competitors this year, River?" Bright held out the microphone towards River, who stepped up, leaned forward, and spoke.
"I'd like to say good luck to everyone. You're going to need it to go up against us." Whether it was because of his bold confidence of charming good lucks, the audience went wild, especially the women in attendance.
"Bold words from the defending champs," continued Bright, walking along the stage. "Next we have Team Satomi! Rei Nakamura, Andrew Kelly, and Johnny Lipkin!" Team Satomi is a name recognized by anyone who calls themselves a fan of the IGPX. From their early rise to the top, and their fall from grace five years ago, the team has gone through the most changes of any team in the IGPX.
"From France, we have Team Cyclone! Bart Contador, Felix Gimondi, and Andre Hinault! Their tight formations netted them third place last year.
"Now for a team you're all guaranteed to have heard of, Team Hard Wok! Lily Ye, Peter Zhi, and Alan Lee!" The middle pilot, a tall woman wearing a yellow and red, silk qipao walked up and grabbed the microphone out of Bright's hand.
She managed to get out a quick, "Thank you to everyone who came out to support us, and remember to eat at Hard Wok!" before Bright grabbed the microphone back. The audience laughed.
"Please, Ms. Ye, we talked about this last year. Next is the all female team, Nightingale! Peggy Luna, Doreen Dickinson, and a new draft this year, the mysterious," Bright lowered his voice to an uncharacteristic dramatic whisper, "Sotto Voce." Sure enough in between the two tall women on either side stood a shorter girl with long dark hair in an elegant purple evening gown and a pair of stylish, heavy duty sunglasses.
"And finally, this year's rookies. They've been the talk of the town for the way they've blown through the IG-3 and the IG-2 in just two short years after joining the IGPX, Team Suzaku! They had some trouble at the end of last season due to losing a pilot but it seems they've got their lineup all sorted out. Introducing forward Amanda Fox, defender Kari Isabel, and their brand new midfielder, Joshua Noa!"
As I continue to update at a very irregular pace, there may be certain plot points that will need clarification and so at the end of every chapter there'll typically be an author's note where I'll explain things I'm unable to smooth explain fully in the story itself. Also if people actually care enough I would love to talk about the various inspirations for the new characters.
So to start off, this is basically my version of a third IGPX series. To help me get into the mood of writing this out and give it that IGPX feel, I put together a pseudo-soundtrack. So to start off, what's an anime without an opening and ending theme.
OP: "Confidence Drive" – LiSA
ED: "Movin' On" – SPYAIR
And what's IGPX with some background music from Ninja Tune. For this chapter it's:
"Time and Space" – Cinematic Orchestra
"Big Lost" – Diplo
"Count Your Blessings" – Hint
"Mr. Chombee Has The Flaw" – The Herbaliser (For opening ceremonies, was also used in the original series for the same event)