Read Time: 6mins
“Right here, right now, we could be about to see the upset of the century!” The commentator’s bristling excitement was obvious. “Max Damage is entering the final lap with a clear 5-second lead!”
The screams of the crowd echoing through Deepridge Canyon was electric. The first race of the season always held a life like no other; thousands of spectators from every corner of Tantos crammed into sun bleached industrial stands to be part of the event. The weathered structures climbed from the base of the canyon to the sky well above its open mouth, their great metal frames creaked and groaned under the weight of the densely packed audience.
“And here she comes; the one, the only, Zuna!” The audience exploded into a chorus of whoops and cheers as Zuna passed the starting line to begin her final lap.
Deepridge Canyon was renowned for its sharp corners, twisting tunnels, and unexpected rock falls. The tyrax had constructed it to deliver as nail-biting an experience as possible, and with that in mind they had succeeded. Deepridge Canyon had ended many careers over the years, but that was all part of the thrill for any hot-blooded racer.
The Flynamo Mark 4 belched a trail of flames in its wake as Zuna pulled back hard on the throttle of her jetpack. Cutting skilfully round a tight corner, the tyrax superstar performed a barrel roll under a collapsed pillar before angling skyward and bursting out of the trench into Dugout’s scorching sunlight.
Max Damage had held a formidable lead for the duration of the race and Zuna was kicking herself for putting on such a sloppy display during the first lap; now nine laps in, she could finally see the boastful Max coming up ahead.
She had to hand it to him, he’d clearly put in the work during the off-season. Early mornings hitting the track had been something she had known well but the life of ‘Tantos’ most famous racer’ had been a tiring one. There were book signings, photoshoots and of course a whole host of sponsors to keep happy. With such a formidable schedule, her jetpack had seen less use over the last three months than she’d have liked.
Where other competitors normally chose to spend their final moments running every check imaginable on their packs for fuel leaks, acceleration dips and all manner of other dangerous possibilities; Zuna had always been a tinkerer. As long as the starting cannon hadn’t fired, she would be making some form of customisation to her pack and before today’s race had been no exception.
Zuna fixed her eyes on her opponent as her finger stretched towards a newly installed button that pulsed with light upon the head of her throttle. Taking a deep breath, she flipped the safety cover away from the button; it swung open with a satisfying thud. If she didn’t do something now, it was going to be too late. She would not lose the first race of the season!
“At this point what does Zuna even…” As Zuna pushed the button everything around her stopped. The commentators’ excitable yells, the roar of the crowd, even the thunderous explosion of fuel igniting within her opponents’ packs. Everything frozen in time.
That was when she saw it, so close she could almost reach out and touch it, a small spot of purest black, as if it was drawing in and feeding upon the light. The spot shuddered and groaned, as if tearing through the very fabric of reality; growing closer to Zuna as she hung in the air, powerless to stop its advance. Then she was gone.
The other side of the dimensional tear felt as if someone had taken every moment in Zuna’s life and thrown them into a blender.
Still suspended motionless, she watched on as fragments of her life played out around her in any order they saw fit. Building her first jetpack, her acceptance to the Mechaforce, the day she found out the truth about her mother; every moment thrown together, then spilled out in front of her.
Zuna tried with everything she could muster to push the button, she felt her muscles burn and shudder to no avail. The light that emanated from deep within the mechanical switch continued to pulse with life, as if mocking her.
Then she saw her, a figure stepping through her very memories. As her vision continued to flicker and change, this new addition moved slowly towards her, as if a part of every moment in her life. The mysterious stranger’s face covered by a large pair of goggles, a face that was undoubtedly that of a tyrax!
“Could it be?” The stranger’s voice was quiet, almost a whisper.
“You shouldn’t be here, definitely shouldn’t be here.” She moved frantically as she approached Zuna, animal-like, her emerald green skin glowing in this strange place. “Must leave, not much time. Haha. Time, I have time, but you, not much.”
The stranger reached out towards Zuna, her forearm wrapped in a leather wrist guard covered with timepieces, each one moved at a different rate, some forward and some back.
“It’s you!” gasped Zuna. “What are you doing here…?”
“Go now,” the mysterious tyrax cut across Zuna’s words, as her hand made contact with the glowing button.
The next thing Zuna saw was the finishing net as she tore into it at an alarming rate. The net stretched to near breaking point as it dispersed the energy from Zuna’s jetpack.
“…even do, to pull this back…” The frantic commentator was suddenly lost for words, the screams of the audience extinguished.
The other racers, lead by Max Damage, cut their jets as they rounded the final corner, no one sure what had just taken place.
“Your winner: Zuna!” came the commentator’s call, after taking a moment to adjust to what had just transpired. With his announcement, the roar of the crowd was once again ignited. Streams of confetti fell upon the field and fireworks began to erupt from high above the deep trench.
Slowly Zuna crawled from the net unsure of where she was.
“Zuna, Zuna!” A pack of reporters descended on the champion like predators. “How did you do that?”
“What have you got in that jetpack?” Their questions like a barrage. “Is this going to change the future of the race?”
Pushing through the sea of reporters and ecstatic fans, Zuna made her way into the locker room, closing the door behind her.
With a heavy thud her pack dropped to the floor, the release of its weight instantly making it easier for the tyrax to breathe.
What had happened out there? What was that place? She needed answers. But who could help her?
Two names instantly came to mind. Exus, his knowledge of machinery was unparalleled; surely he would have answers even if his research was a little ‘out there’?
Or there was another; Impex, one of the greatest minds the tyrax had ever known. However, many worrying rumours about his practices had started to surface.
Someone would have to help her. After all, if what she had seen was real, then finally someone had found her; Tempuz, the lost inventor.