Sarati Route Space Race
Part 1: Race to the Spaceport

It was a cold wet morning on Jamsine IV as the racers prepared their personal vehicles for the first part of the race. With Goth Garal's drop from the race, there were only 11 competitors. No fans were allowed near the communications site and entry was controlled through pass cards (which the competitors were given earlier). Security fences did a great job keeping spectators away but their shouts were heard by all.

3D holo-cams caught all the action in the large lot by the building. Taking shots of each competitor's vehicle.

Rose Leta Waznu, a former Tigbar Captain had a purple and yellow double-rocket Metalikorse. Leetah Kalynda had a black Paban Shadow-Cat, equipped with her supplies she used to use on her missions. Berserker's gray-and-white Chrome-Tank was one of the biggest vehicles in the race. Commentators joked that it would never gain enough speed to compete.

Kasious Koal mounted the much-coveted Nukatal Tremere, in gold and black. Version 9 strapped into a red Power Panther (given to the cyborg as a gift from his home planet, Surge). Prince of Gates' crimson-and-black demonic chariot was the only non-mechanical vehicle in the race. He had no seat, no belts, and no protection of any kind.

H'Ronka fit tightly into his Orange Glossamer (which he helped design with Ophidian engineers). Stefan Hartel secured his violet helmet which matched the Helix Corporation's CyberSunset--complete with dual-electrode antennae and an experimental fusion engine all encased in a durable brightmetal shell, mounted on Karpa-core wheels, providing great traction for rough terrain.

The Stallion tightened his neoleather gloves and secured his Mortheo shades and revved his engine to his famous blue-and-white HoverSteed. Eric Berka lined up his light-blue jet cycle to the start line and waved to his fans. Ray Raba sounded the sirens on his brown Gercan cruiser. The fans waved their banners in joy.

All the competitors were ready as the sun started to rise. They all prepared their vessels and waited for the signal. Each competitor looked at the other and tried to make last-minute plans. One had to be fast on her toes in this kind of race. A laser was fired into the distance and the race began.

In a cloud of dust the fastest to accelerate were gone. Among them, Stefan Hartel, The Stallion, H'Ronka, and Leetah Kalynda. Following behind was Eric Berka, Rose Leta, Ray Raba, and Kasious Koal. Brining up the rear was Prince of Gates, Version 9 and Berserker.

The road ahead was straight and flat, an excellent stretch to see which vessel was the fastest. The Stallion and "Speed Head" Hartel tied for first place, keeping their bikes so steady, it looked more like the world around them was flashing by and they were perfectly still.

3D holo-cams mounted on the vehicles captured the action as the two captains Rose Leta and "Sting" Ray each started to gain on H'Ronka and Leetah Kalynda. "Blue-Eye" Berka and Kasious Koal were still ahead of the remaining three gladiators, but Version 9's Power Panther shot out a grappling device and hit Koal's Nukatal Tremere. Berserker laughed through his shielded window at Version 9 and then Kasious as he started to pick up speed. Prince of Gates was behind and it seemed his demonic minions were no match for the mechanical machines.

As the competitors approached the first major turn, Stallion and Stefan were neck-and-neck each one holding the lead for a brief time. Rose and "Sting" Ray had already passed H'Ronka and Leetah. Rose swerved toward Captain Raba, trying to get him to flinch, but it didn’t work. The Gercan was familiar with these types of tricks.

Amazingly, Berserker had made it to 7th place, passing Eric Berka. 3D holo-cams in Berserker's cockpit captured him laughing like a maniac as he advanced. Close behind was Version 9, successfully able to slingshot himself past Eric Berka and causing Kasious Koal to fall into 10th place--right in front of the Prince.

After the turn, Schaeffer Steelarm and "Speed Head" were still in the lead, however, last year's champ "Sting" Ray Raba was now close enough to them to give them something to worry about. His cruiser's handle of the turn was most impressive.

H'Ronka's Glossamer shot out rocket blasts from the side and enabled him to successfully turn without losing any speed. Leetah's Shadow-Cat used an anchor similar to that of Version 9's grappling device to also turn and advance. Both gladiators were now tied for third place with the former Tigbar Captain.

The Machine of Death was able to pass Berserker on the turn because the Chrome-Tank's turn handling was pitiful. Berserker almost flew off the road, but managed to hold on.

Prince of Gates' demonic minions began to show promise as they fluidly handled the turn and passed Koal's Nukatal Tremere.

With the road turning in the rising sun's direction, the path became harder to judge and a few of the racers ended up riding on the rougher terrain beside the road. The Gercan Captain managed to take the lead from the previous two. Whether by mistake from the sun or not, the trio started to become a bit more aggressive, lightly tapping into each other.

There was no mistake as Rose Leta shout out a cloud of smog right into H'Ronka's intake valves, crippling the speed of the alien's vehicle. Leetah Kalynda countered with a bump from her Shadow-Cat which caused the former captain to think twice about trying that on Leetah.

Version 9 focused on trying to pass H'Ronka.

Prince of Gates was now catching up with Berserker and the Fanatical Genius wasn't laughing anymore. he shot out a blast from a small mounted cannon which the Prince's minions barely jumped over. The Prince gave a wicked stare at the white-haired construct. Berserker was in trouble now. He lowered himself in his seat and raised his speed to maximum.

Eric and Kasious were behind and needed to find a way to get ahead.

The road started to get more dangerous as it got closer to the end.

"Sting" Ray Raba showed The Stallion where he got his nickname from by shooting a missile at the gladiator, causing the human to swerve towards but miss Stefan Hartel. If not for The Stallion's reflexes and his HoverSteed's handling, both he and "Speed Head" would be out of the race and dead.

Rose managed to get a slight lead over Leetah and Version 9 bumped H'Ronka, causing the Glossamer to flip 5 times. It looked like H'Ronka was out of this race, but if he could get back in he might have a change in the second part.

Berserker suffered the wrath of Xarz’ycus as the demon started to corrode the Chrome-Tank with a cybernetic plague. The Tank started to melt like butter on a hot day. And Berserker was out of the race.

Kasious Koal and Eric Berka also seemed to be losing the race but neither attacked the other knowing it wouldn't make a difference.

As the launch pad of the spaceport was becoming visible in the distance and the road was no longer heading directly at the rising sun, the road became a lot smoother and safer. However, the competitors' aggression not only negated that but made things more violent. Of course the fans loved every minute of it as they waited at the spaceport watching on the monitors.

"Speed Head" risked it all by trying out what the Helix Co's CyberSunset had to offer. From out the dual antennae, several bolts of electricity shot out at The Stallion and "Sting" Ray. Both riders dodged the attacks, but slowed down as a result. "Speed Head" was now in the lead and pushed his luck even further. The fusion engine buzzed loudly as it reached its maximum point. The CyberSunset made remarkable distance from the two.

Rose, Leetah, and Version 9 started shooting each other with grease spills, clouds of gas and flame, and jagged metallic blades. In the end they made no progress with each other but gave Prince of Gates the opening he needed to get past them and into 4th place.

As the racers approached the finish line, "Speed Head's" CyberSunset's engine exploded, engulfing the vehicle in flames and black smoke. The Stallion and Captain Raba swerved again, this time avoiding a fiery collision with Stefan.

It was now down to "Sting" Ray, Schaeffer, and the Prince. They were all racing neck and neck. Prince of Gates was viciously whipping his demonic beasts as Stallion pushed his HoverSteed to its limit, not holding back. The Gercan Captain was sweating bullets as he too pushed his cruiser. His attention was partially divided among the road and what the Prince might do to him.

His instincts were correct. He saw the Prince look at him and aim his whip at the Gercan cruiser. A crash at this speed would be the end of the captain, and even though this race was near its end, there was a second part. But what dishonor might be seen from the captain's retreat? What example would he be setting? He regained his composure and decided to face his destiny.

His sudden bravery surprised the Prince into rethinking his attack. If the Prince attacked the Gercan, Stallion would definitely win the race. Right now the Prince had a slight lead. He focused on the win, saving the captain for later. He continued whipping his beasts, as the captain now was surprised.

With that the three raced to the finish line. The waiting crowds cheered as all three crossed. It was close. The 3D holo-cams had to be used to playback the race. But there was no time for the racers to watch, they would have to find out as they took off from the spaceport.

The three got off their vehicles, grabbed their packages, and rushed to their individual spacecraft. Meanwhile, Version 9 and Rose crossed the finish. Leetah had been knocked off her vehicle from a combined attack by Version 9 and Rose.

As the two of them boarded their starships, Kasious and Eric crossed the line. Once all competitors had launched, H’Ronka crossed the line. Out of the 11 competitors, only eight would continue to the second part of the race.

Emergency vehicles reached Stefan Hartel as a worried crowd watched on in silence. He was saved from fire, but needed to be rushed to a hospital. It didn't look good for him, but officials asked the fans to applaud his efforts and wish him a blessed recovery. The fans cheered him on, then rushed home to watch the second part of the race.

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