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In the past year, three racing champions had been murdered by, of all things, an archer. The shots were, in a word, impossible. The female sailor racer had been killed at sea, with nothing around for miles. The male dogsled racer was found when his dogs dragged him and his sled back into town. There’d been a killing blizzard that had shut down travel to the miles wide region for over a week, and the locals swore up and down nobody else had set out on the trail. The third had been a female marathoner, struck down in the American Southwest while training. In the desert. With several witnesses who swore nobody else was around for miles.

 

September 28, 2018. Freedom City. Just outside Ashton and Grenville. Horizon Festival Main Stage. 9 AM.

 

There would be over a hundred different races held, in varying skill rankings. Anyone with a driver’s license and an automobile that could pass an inspection could enter at the lowest level. The highest, however, was reserved for those who had proven their superiority over the competition. At stake? Honor, pride, and a trainload of cash. The Horizon Festival had come to Freedom City, and it was a madhouse. It was a street rally racing event primarily, but you wouldn’t know it from the stages set up what seemed like all over town. There was going to be three dozen bands playing at one time or another the entire weekend. Vendors had set up in sight of what seemed like every stage. Mechanics Alley was also open to onlookers, even if only the pro cars had slots booked in it. Because oh, yes indeed. The world’s finest street rally racers had followed the Festival to Freedom.

 

Dominic Cortez was the grudgingly acknowledged best street rally racer in the world. He wasn’t worried about anything today. He’d drive in the kickoff race, but only for a lap. Any real racing, for him, wouldn’t be until tomorrow afternoon. As the world’s #1, he was automatically entered into the S class, highest at the Festival. The people who were worried were his agent and mechanic, Darius Greer  and sister Sofia. He only trusted blood to work on his wheels. After the last murder, racing champions had gone into seclusion across almost all of racing. They only poked their heads out for events, and even then under astonishingly heavy security. Dominic Cortez was the sole exception. Leaning against the door of his car, he watched the MC blather on. The man was charismatic and effective, Dom would give him that, but honestly? Dom just wanted to get on the track already.

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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A silver Porsche slid gracefully around one of the practice tracks, the dark tinted windows hiding the mysterious driver who always seemed to be dressed in such away as to hide his face, and that was mostly because there was no diver. The driver and the Porsche were one and the same thing, Chromium took the turn tightly and accelerated rapidly out of it, he had heard there might be trouble at this particular meeting of Horizon but to be honest he didn't care he just wanted to race....yet the people in the know, mostly Lady Horus, had insisted that he be alert because there had been a few teething problems with his powers. It wasn't like the racers would cause a problem for him, they were trying to control a machine that was separate from them.

 

He was the machine, he would have grinned if he had a face at the moment as he accelerated into the last lap at high speeds. Porsche weren't supposed to go as fast as he could, but he wasn't going to show that off just yet. For now he was just making sure his times were good enough to get to the next level.

Edited by Tarrakhash

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Rev

 

Her car was cobbled together out of Frankenstein parts. 

 

Lexa Venn did not have much money. But she knew how to build a car from scrap. Well, kinda. She had called in some favours, cajouled some freinds. 

 

It was dune buggy. Of sorts. It looked like it might fall apart if one even looked at it too hard. But it had massive tyres and a massive engine, and would be great fun to drive. And even if she did not win, she wouldn't miss this for the world. 

 

She was, for now, racing as Lexa Venn. He arms and legs looked normal, coated in synth-skin sprayed on by SFX. She had resisted the temptation to boost the buggy's engine with her cybernetics. She was pretty sure the cobbled together engine would explode if she did. 

 

As a kid she had raced the streets of Freedom City, but this was different. This was legal. 

 

Maybe there is some fun to be had on the right side of the law!

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Alexander looked out the window of lexa's hobbled together automobile even as he admired how much one rather enthusiastic driver and engineer could do in a garage over a few weeks he'd feel a little safer once he'd gotten out.

 

He'd be lying if he claimed to understand the thrill of street racing at all, maybe it reminded him too much of chasing down get away vehicles and joyriders but he enjoyed driving for distance rather than speed on his motorcycle.

 

"Horizon, huh? Never heard of it." He confessed as he reclined "seems pretty big though!" He mentioned to Lexa as they pulled up to the waiting area.

 

He wouldn't be driving of course, he only had a motorcycle and even if it were allowed his mom would kill him if he survived the experience so he'd come to cheer on his friend and get away from claremont for a bit, not to mention sample some of the street food!

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The crowds were milling about, and the cars were being checked and re-checked by their drivers (and any mechanics they might have). It was a slightly cloudy day, just enough to make the weather pleasant...

 

And the nearby rooftops more shadowed. This worked out well for the Raven, who was observing the goings-on with much caution. He'd been hearing about the rally races for a while, but some of his automated alert programs had cross-referenced the killings in the last year and flagged it as a possible location for a crime. When he'd looked over the previous scenarios, he'd had some doubts, but since he wasn't in the middle of a large investigation otherwise, he determined it was worth watching over. 

 

Besides, with the Unkindness stashed nearby, he felt like he could handle most any automobile-related issues. So here he perched, having attached and activated his high-powered lenses, his suit's eyes regularly switching between green, red, and white glows as they automatically cycled which sensors were most active. 

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A tiny (ethnicity hoplessly indeterminate) woman with neon orange hair was checking to make sure all the kickoff race drivers were okay. Her staff nametag said Daria, and she carried a clipboard. Her interaction with Dom (who occupied the pole position) was brief, as he was a pro. He slipped into his car after talking to her. Others went a bit longer, as racer bros be racer bros (and she was reasonably attractive for such a tiny woman). She at last came to the car of (she checked her clipboard) “Lexa Venn? Oh, and passenger too.” Her eyes were green, adding to the sheer impossibility of determining her ancestry. “Just pre race check in. Ready to go? No problems? You can always back out if there’s any issues.” Her grin was infectious.

 

Up on his rooftop the Raven saw something odd. After leaving the dune buggy the tiny woman glanced up where he was. Her expression was of wry amusement, suggesting she knew he was there. She stretched her lithe form in such a way that it gave him the distinct impression she was pointing to her right. It was possible she was just stretching, but there was a direct line from her outstretched fingers to a sniper setting up on what was possibly the tallest building in Ashton.

 

Further back, Daria attempted to have a word with the driver of a certain silver Porsche. “Jason, was it? All good here?”

Edited by EternalPhoenix

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Rev

 

"Ready? I was born ready! Then injected with super-ready, baked in a ready-oven, and sent to ready-school majoring in ready with additional credits in ready" replied Rev, looking very ready indeed. 

 

Now, on many days, this would be Rev gassing on pretending to be knowledgable and keen. But today, it was no bluff. When it came to racing, she was indeed ready. Itching to go, in fact. 

 

Not that she actually thought she would win. She liked winning, but frankly she liked racing more. And she knew her Franken-car was no match for a certain silver porche. Maybe, if the driver of said porche couldn't drive. But she was under no illusion there, either. If they had the same car, she could have given him a run for his money. But this was not a level playing field. 

 

Maybe if it was really unlevel, like on a desert, her buggy would win. But, she was sure, not on street tarmac. 

 

Still, this was going to be a hell of a ride!

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The Porsche was sitting in position, it's engine revving just a little when the tiny woman knocked on the window. She wasn't bad looking, but Chromium, as he thought of himself now, didn't enjoy bright crayon colored hair, never really had. The window cracked just a little, not enough that a nosy little woman could look inside, but enough that she could hear him respond. It was through his radio but he had gotten pretty good at getting the volume and pitch right enough that people didn't suspect anything.

 

Unless they had super hearing, his voice was a little lower in position as that's where the speakers were as he responded,"All good, are we racing or checking tires? Because that jalopy over there looks like it needs more attention?"

 

Jason didn't know it, or at least didn't remember it, but he was the reason Rev had contracted the Mechaphage virus and it was just ironic that the two of them were in the same race. Literally feet apart and ignorant of each others identity.

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Facs beemed back at the very nice lady "Sure are, Im the navigator by the way! looking forward to it!" he said a little nervous, not of the person of course but rather the situation he found himself in, he assumed by all rights that standard "no powers" rules were in effect but even normal humans could be cunning and brutal if sufficiently provoked, riled or driven by the grandest of pettiest of things going on around them, which meant not only was he gonna have to watch for assholes on the road but also keep rev from letting her old ways get the better of her.

 

He didn't like to think about that part of it especially, smiling and nodding to the lady as she moved on he turned to lexa.

 

"Nice lady, Maybe this won't be so bad!"

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Rev

 

"Golly gosh darn it! If its not bad, its not good!" replied Rev, cheerfully. "And if its bad, its great!"

 

Her point clearly both entirely logical and completely irrefutable (at least in her own mind) she turned to the silver porche and the driver. 

 

"He looks familiar, you know..." she said. "He knows how to drive, I guess, and that Porche is souped up way beyond this heap of rust" she declared, kicking the Dune buggy (but not too hard, obviously). 

 

She recalled that fatal crash....or at least tried to. It was only there in flashes. Dim and obscure. There was adrenaline and fear and...blackness. 

 

Well she had been in a coma. No wonder she couldn't remember much. 

 

But still, that guy...

 

She ignored it for now, and kicked the enormous tyres of the buggy. They, at least, were solid!

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Raven's eyes narrowed behind his mask at the woman's rather obvious maneuvers. When he spotted the sniper, he went very still for a moment. The fact that the gun wasn't pointed directly at him told the vigilante he had at least a few moments to spare. He carefully disengaged, folded, and stowed the eyepiece attachments, before pulling out a few slim modules he plugged in on his suit's body, slotting them in carefully so that they blended in seamlessly. Rounded overlays completed the set, and as he stood, his body shimmered and faded from view. A silent click of his heels smoothed out his shoes just so, meaning he'd leave no real trace behind himself.

 

So hidden, the caped champion of justice jumped into the air, gliding between buildings and using his grapnels sparingly. He intended to take this sniper by surprise; it was one of the best tools in his arsenal, when all was said and done. 

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“Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!” The MC’s call cued up a roar of automotive fury. Daria had drifted in front of all the cars, and she had traded in her clipboard for a big green flag. It matched her eyes. Video screens set on either side of the road started the countdown.

 

10…

9…

8…

7…

6…

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

 

The main stage’s sound system unleashed a massive horn. Daria waved the flag like mad. Dominic Cortez (who lived for this moment) shifted into gear and led the way. Cars whipped past the tiny woman on either side. The kickoff race had begun.

 

Naturally, the sniper did not notice the caped crusader of justice. He just about had his shot lined up. The pull off area designated for the world #1 after his first lap. He relaxed for the first time all day.

 

Dom was just supposed to lead the way for a lap, but he was tempted not to. There were plenty of first timers in the kickoff race, and he kind of wanted to show them how it was done. “All right, Letty. Let’s what them what we’re made of.” On the car’s center video screen, where normally would be the radio/MP3 hookup/etc, a smiley face appeared. The car’s engine roared louder, almost sounding like a roar of challenge, and Letty (aka Dominic Cortez’s car) accelerated, dusting his closest competitors.

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Chromium, knowing that he likely couldn't win something like this as it would require him to take a podium and people had all sorts of rules about this was more intent on making a splash than winning. With that in mind his take off was all smoke and burning rubber and much less about smooth transitions and gaining speed, although speed he had in plenty as he shot forward watching the number of laps carefully. Fourth or fifth place would be plenty good for him and keep him out of most of the limelight...assuming it was that easy. He didn't have to worry about driving, this was as easy as walking was, just many times faster....

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Rev

 

"Hang on to your hats!"

 

Rev expertly accelerated, the big wheels of the buggy churning up the ground beneath. She could almost smell the diesel flowing through the engine. She felt the thrum of the beating engine in her bones (the few of them she had left), and could feel the movement and drift of the car in her heart. 

 

This was living. 

 

Hell, she might even win!

 

A stupid thought in this car, but hey, the thought spiked her adrenaline, and she allowed it. She had a stupid grin of determination and utter focus on her mouth. 

 

And even with the franken car she was driving, Rev knew she was as good a driver as any on the track today....

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For his part alex smiled at his friends enthusiasm and buckled down to do his job , pouring over his map, he'd gone over the route in green highlighter pen and shouted directions over the roar of the engines and rattling chasis as rev shot down them at break neck speed.

 

"Lets style on em Lexa!" He boomed getting a little more into it than he thought he would.

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The sniper's barrel extended past the rooftop; it really kind of had to, all things considered. The man was well-hidden, well-trained, and well-prepared. For many heroes, they wouldn't know he was there until a shot was fired. 

The Raven was not many heroes.

 

Suddenly and without warning, the barrel of the gun yanked to the side, in such a way as to move the man's hand away from the trigger. At first, there was no indication of the cause, but slowly, the air warped until it revealed first the gauntleted hand, and then the entire body, of the Raven. One hand grasped the ledge, the other the gun. Then, in a blur of motion, the sniper was disamred, the broken-in-half rifle was several feet away, and the Raven crouched above him.

 

"Now why would a man with a gun be up here?"

 

A swirl of his cape, and he had the sniper by his vest, shoved up against an AC unit, one forearm pressing, just barely, against the man's throat. 

 

"Why are you here?"

 

His tone had shifted even from moments ago, becoming harsher. 

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Dominic Cortez was by far the most skilled driver in the kickoff race. This was by design. Let the best show off in a display of what would come later. The course wasn’t exactly short. Whipping through and out of Ashton and Grenville, it took the drivers through the outer portion of the Southside and clear to Bayview’s limits before curving away. It skirted the southern portion of the Southside and then blazed a trail through northeast Lincoln on its way back. It was long enough to take a few minutes, even at racing speeds, for the various vehicles to get back.

 

For her part, Lexa outshined most of the field, to the point where she never quite lost sight of Dom’s car, barring a few tight curves. As stated, the skill in the field wasn’t the highest, and she had fought her way to fourth and was vying for third as they returned to Ashton.

 

Chromium, however, was stuck in the middle of the pack. Driving may have been as easy as walking or running for him, but there was more to a race than just that. The automobiles in front of him were using position, timing, even drafting to get ahead where they could. The silver Porsche had the speed to stay ahead of the lesser vehicles, but where that edge was thinner he wasn't doing so well.

 

The sniper outright panicked. “Whoa, whoa! Be cool, man. I was hired to do this.” A moment later, realizing this didn’t make him look any better, he spoke again. “It’s an Airsoft gun, man. Paint capsules. Girl handed me some money and this sweet gear, then she told me how I could get up here, too. I was gonna ruin some paint jobs, man. Only fair. Burning so much gas. They’re killin’ the environment! Somebody’s gotta stand up for the planet, man!” Upon closer inspection, the sniper had stubble. And long hair. And smelled of various recreational substances.

 

Meanwhile, in the shadowy roof spot the Raven had so recently vacated, someone (dressed in black from head to toe) drew an arrow and fitted it to their bow.

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Rev

 

"Hey Fax! We ain't doing to bad even in this junk!" yelled Rev at Fascimile, as she took another corner at almost too fast a pace. She was sweating. 

 

Part of the bane, or boon, of having only about half of your body mass flesh and bone was that any hormones secreted in her body were twice as concentrated. At least initially (until homeostasis kicked in). Adrenaline rushes spiked hard. 

 

And she loved it. 

 

"Now...if we are gonna win....we better fire the hyperturbine boosters. You did bring the hyperturbine boosters, right?" she yelled at Fax, as a tease. She had no idea what hyperturbnine boosters were. But they sure sounded cool. 

 

Now she said it, she wished she actually had some. Might get up a space or two in the rankings!

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Chromium was frustrated, and frustration lead to bad decisions, he'd already traded paint more than once and was busy working very, very hard on avoiding all the slow moving barges he was forced to drive with never getting a clean window he needed to pick up speed and his ranking. Cursing to himself he slid one way then the next trying to work an opening as best he could, deciding that he could lose a little more paint and possibly even get a little dent or two if it was what it took to get out there and get some speed on.

 

Speed...the reason he was in this mess, and the reason he managed to do what he did for so long. Loved it, longed for it and now that he was speed personified he couldn't get past them...

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Raven actually snarled.

 

"You still could have killed someone you drug-addled idiot! A paintball from this height might break glass, let alone what it would do if it hit a bystander! And even if it didn't break glass, distracting a driver at these speeds could cause a wreck!"

 

He hauled the man to the edge of the roof, keeping a tight grip as he leaned him out and over.

 

"You said 'she' hired you. Who is she? Who paid you?"

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The sniper was legitimately terrified now. “I don’t know, man! I mean, Dewstar’s gotta be a made up name, right?” This tickled something in the Raven’s brain. He knew that name from somewhere. But the guy was still talking. “She was tiny, all in black, with a hood and a mask. She scared me, man! Just by standin’ there! How do you do that?”

 

Dom was comfortably in the lead. He had several lengths over the second place driver, but even so he drove like said driver was tailgating him. It was simply more fun that way. Speaking of fun, he’d been considering doing more than one lap since the first turn. Darius would be pissed, but you know what? He’d get over it. Dom grinned. “We’re doing one more lap, Letty.” The smiley face reappeared on the dash, and her engine roared approval.

 

Dewstar, the tiny woman in black, knew that this shot would require precision timing. Breath control. Relaxed body and mind. Supreme focus. Heh, it was almost like she’d done this before. Under the mask, her mouth curved in a smile at her own private joke. Here they came. Draw like this, aim just so, and let that arrow fly.

 

If Dom hadn’t decided on a second lap, the arrow would have hit him. If Letty hadn’t reacted with she did, the arrow still would have hit him anyway. Hell, if he hadn’t reacted to her reaction, he’d still have been pierced. The shot was perfect. Letty felt more than saw something coming from the side, and (thinking it was a bird or something) braked slightly to let it go by. Dom, trusting his partner, twitched the wheel to the side, effectively changing lanes. The net effect was that instead of penetrating both of Dom’s temples, the arrow hit the front left wheel. With disastrous results. Dom got Letty around the corner into the home stretch of the lap, but then spun out hard. Tires squealing, he was about to meet the wall when Letty ejected him out the driver’s side door. He rolled along the ground as car met wall at high speed and flipped end over end. Aching, Dom lay on the asphalt…and then remembered he was on a racetrack and at least three cars were coming this way in the next 30 seconds. He pulled himself to his feet just in time to see the first one come out of the turn. Oh, crap.

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GM

 

Rev caught the crash out of the corner of her red-eye. She didn't get why it happened, but she knew enough about what happened. It was a crash, and a bad one. 

 

She felt the racing urge, to step on the gas and win whatever. She gripped the wheel slightly tighter, and felt her foot twich, wanting to press her buggy harder. 

 

"Grrr....damn it" she said through gritted teeth. She slammed on the brakes and the car slid around. 

 

"Sorry, Facs, gotta help him. I hope you can mimic a first aid kit!" she said, her course now committed to helping the man, although irritated the race was lost. 

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"Would've been disappointed if something like this didn't happen." He sighed sarcastically.

 

"Oh well! Getting our regular kinda adrenalin rush again ain't too bad."  He resolved with a grin as he leaned out the side of the buggy and taking a deep breath pulled in the air and all its properties.

 

Spun the wind to wind around the man in the road to hoist him out of harms way

 

"Prevention isss better than cure after all." He hissed, voice now air escaping from air.

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Raven's mind raced through what he remembered as he went very still for several seconds. Then, he brought the wannabe-sniper closer to himself.

 

"Listen you drug-addled tree-sniffer. The next time you decide you want to help the environment, try voting and volunteering, instead of taking contracts from killers."

 

Then the mess down below happened, and he casually tossed the man back toward the middle of the roof.

 

"Your lucky day. Don't let me catch you pulling this sort of thing again. Ever."

 

And then he was over the edge and falling toward the ground like a missile, aiming toward Dom's position on the ground. He wasn't sure he'd make it in time to make a difference, but it was worth trying. 

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Chromium was trying to thread his way out of the pack when all of a sudden all hell broke lose in front of him and he came around the corner at high speed and there was Dom, standing in the middle of the road, with at least one person converging in on him in a hurry and a pack of race cars heading towards him, one of which was Chromium himself. There wasn't a lot that Chromium could do, other than watch, but he wasn't sure if the people dropping out of sight were there to help or harm.

 

So he did the only thing that would be believable in this kid of situation, he crashed...well kind of, he acted like he braked too fast and  pulled off the track trying to bring himself to a stop in a hurry and get in a position to help Dom if he needed and at worst he could swing open his door and offer the driver a chance to get out of trouble if need be.

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