The next day, Tyler flew Lindsay to the race course in his skyracer. No one else could fit, and thus rode with Albert instead. The grandstand was huge and full. There must be at least 1000 people up there, Baby Intelligence thought. Albert must have promoted the race.
Near the center of the grandstand, Albert stepped into the central box. After waving to the crowd, Albert began announcing the names of all the contestants that were racing against Tyler for a 500-dollar prize.
"And Whammo Fireball, racing champion and definite favorite," Albert continued. Whammo was Tyler's archrival and was 21 years old. "And Tyler, mutant baby and the reason for the race." The crowd cheered. Tyler waved briefly, then got back to checking the wings were safely on his racer. A good sign, thought Baby Intelligence. He is not easily distracted. Then he gestured for Lindsay and Force Baby to join him and Baby Strength in a luxurious grandstand that stood out from the rest.
As Force Baby rushed ahead, Lindsay grinned at Tyler. "Good luck, Tyler. You carry all our hopes."
"I won't let you down," Tyler promised.
As Lindsay left to join Baby Strength and Force Baby, Albert finished his introductions. Baby Intelligence helped Tyler into his skyracer and made sure he was strapped in properly. "You all set?"
"Remember, your focus determines your reality," Baby Intelligence replied. "Trust your instincts. Good luck."
"I will," Tyler said with a faint smile.
As he walked over to join his pupils, Baby Intelligence heard the roar of several skyracers start. It's up to Tyler now.
The starting line flashed green, and Tyler forgot everything but the race. He pulled a lever hard, hoping to get a good position from the start. The engines coughed...and then died.
No! How can this be? Frantically. Tyler worked at the controls as plane after plane swerved around him and vanished into the desert.
"Oh, wait!" Albert announced. "Little Tyler is stuck!"
Finally, Tyler sensed the problem--the fuel regulator had been sabotaged. Whammo! He was over here. He lost more precious seconds waiting for the excess fuel to evaporate, and toggled with the engines. Finally, they ignited.
Without waiting to see if the engines would keep running, Tyler sent his plane screaming after the pack. As he rounded the first turn, he glimpsed a smoking fireball smeared across the base of the rock. Did he swing too wide? Or did Whammo make him crash?
He sped easily through the series of arches; without other skyracers in his way it was simple. The trailing skyracers came into view ahead of them. I'm catching them! Again, he worked controls, feeding power to one side, then another. If I can get out of this bunch, I can really catch up...
A skyracer ahead of him slid sideways, blocking him. Tyler veered to the opposite side, but the other driver seemed to expect it, and cut him off again. And again. Tyler frowned in concentration. He pulled back, leaving an extra length between his skyracer and the one that blocked him. Then, just as the other driver went over the drop, Tyler shoved both engine controls full open.
The skyracer surged forward. It flew off a ledge and over the plane blocking him, barely missing it's right wing. The plane came down with a bone-jarring jolt, but a quick check showed the plane was in perfect order. If only Lindsay had seen that!
The next few planes were strung out along the course. Getting by them was easy, just a matter of speeding up on the turns. Soon he was past most of them. The grandstand flashed by as he came up on the central pack of racers. Only two laps left. I can do this!
It took him most of the second lap to work his way through the pack. Finally, he came within sight of the leading skyracers.
There were only three skyracers ahead of him now. Tyler sped up--and rounded the next corner, right into an enormous cloud of dust. Somebody else crashed. He swung wide, hoping to avoid hitting any of the pieces of the smashed plane. He had to duck in his cockpit to avoid the last one.
As he came out of the dust cloud, Tyler saw that he'd passed two others. The only racer ahead of him was Whammo. Now I'll show you what a baby can do! Leaning forward, he came up even with Whammo. Only one lap left. Just one.
Wing to wing, they raced over the artificial course. A flap opened in the rear side of Whammo's rear engine, sending a stream of fire straight at Tyler's hull. So that's why everyone else crashed! Whammo burned holes in their engines! Tyler pulled back just in time. Furious at Whammo's move, Tyler whipped ahead and took the lead.
Keeping the lead was harder than taking it had been. Whammo stayed on Tyler's tail, angrier than ever. Tyler clung grimly to his hard-won position. I just have to make it through a few curves...
Something felt wrong. The hinge holding his left wing in place was faltering, and the rocket systems were faulty. Rapidly, Tyler adjusted the controls to use the backup system, but he wasn't quite fast enough. While he was changing over, Whammo passed him.
I'm not going to lose now! But every move Tyler made, Whammo blocked. Something else, then...
He did not quite make it all the way round Whammo's skyracer. Side by side, they headed toward the finish line. Whammo swerved, deliberately slamming his skyracer into Tyler's. He swerved again, and his steering rods and wingtip got stuck with Tyler's. Tyler fought for control. He could see Whammo laughing as the finish line drew closer and closer. He tried to unlock the connection by pulling away from Whammo's skyracer, but they were too tightly caught...and then, Tyler's steering rod broke under the strain.
The skyracer began to spin. Grimly, Tyler hung on to the power controls. No steering, but he could still alter the craft's speed. By instinct, by feel, he kept the skyracer on course, heading for the finish line in a cloud of smoke and flame--Smoke and flame? Whammo crashed? Tyler crossed the finish line and brought the skyracer to a halt.
As the engines died, he heard cheers and saw Lindsay rushing over to him from the babies' borrowed box. Looking back, he saw Whammo hopping about his wrecked skyracer, on the wrong side of the finish line. Whammo crashed? I won! I WON!
Lindsay knelt down and gently unstrapped Tyler, who took a breath and stood up. I did it! The S.M.S.B. is free, and I'm part of them now! He gave Lindsay a hug, and then a cheering crowd stacked him on his shoulders.