KnM Blade - In Destiny's Way

Kixi Rajki, a professional high speed racer, is a seemingly average citizen of the United Systems of Sol in the 31st century. Going by the alias of Kay Blade, she is also a secret agent for an underground resistance cell intent on bringing down the powerful freedom restricting government. Mako Jhasmin Zaneca, alias eM Blade, and Kixi's lover, recently trained up as an agent, is also an expert computer slicer and hacker in her own right. She must accompany Kixi on what will be her first mission, and with all certainty, an extremely dangerous mission. Choosing arrest in order to save her lover, the two narrowly escape death, and consequently trigger in motion an unprecedented course of events. Unwittingly, her actions will forever change the balance of power, and with it the face of humanity as a space faring species.


22. Taking Centre Stage

Chapter 15 : Taking Centre Stage


EST 07:30, CE 3016-06-17, LST 15:30, CE 3016-06-17


We were about to go out to the post race conference and already things looked like they were brewing up. Like the actual race battle with Vickers for the title wasn't enough. Somehow I wished that they could all concentrate their efforts on the actual race winner, Senen Pyrex, but I like everyone else knew that that wasn't going to be the case.

"Yes it did happen," I said, finally, as I stepped away, fiddling with a watch on my wrist that was for some sponsor. We were in a holding room near the post conference room, still near the podium area of the circuit where we could refresh ourselves, and look good and presentable for the awaiting media.

"Yeah, I suspect that much," Jak replied with a slight sigh in his voice. That was understandable though, his driver and his team had just won the championship for the first time, and although not in the most desirable of circumstances, we were the legitimate winners. "You know he'll make up some bullshit to defend his actions as unintentional, and him being Vickers and all, they'll probably believe him," and before he could say anything else we were no longer alone.

The walk over to the conference room was short, and the wait there wasn't going to be long either before proceedings would be going ahead. People were already gathered everywhere with most of their attention focused on me. The PR girl who had arrived to walk us over to the conference room spoke to us as we made our way through the many people, stating that we needed to highlight how big this victory was for the team. We entered the room and then we were walking out to a long table with six microphones.

By this stage, I had readying myself for the post race interviews, by having had a quick refresher, a change of the top part of my racing clothes, and a clean shiny jacket that visibly showed the names and trademarks of all our sponsors for all to see on live holovideo. I definitely felt a lot more relieved and comfortable, even though it wasn't going to change the intensity of the atmosphere that awaited me. The other drivers and co-drivers had done the same as they all eventually made their way to the interviewing area. I sat down securing my own cap with the tyre sponsor Jinnerex on, sitting down on the far right with Kajtia to my left who also wore the same cap as I. Vickers followed through seconds later, walking past me, brushing unnecessarily so that our bodies touched and took a seat on the far left side with Ramsey Gatehouse taking position to his right. The middle two seats were filled by the race winners, Senen to the left of Kajtia and Samantha to the left of him or Ramsey's right, who both promptly took their seats, faces covered with huge obvious smiles.

Conferences and interviews alike were one part of a race weekend that I particularly hated. Weather it be for pre race, post race, I the winner or the loser, when I had to sit in front of thirty odd journalists, holovideo cameras and then the random people that somehow ended up at these things and were now gathered in tightly packing the room, it just wasn't my thing.

Although inevitably much attention would be centred on me, and most likely attention that would be positive in nature given the overall outcome of the championship standings, I still had the urge to just get this over and done with. Inside I was fuming. Despite winning the ultimate prize and the honours, being excited for the reason that now the entire System was focussed and slowly centring upon my success, that did not dominate my thoughts. Instead I wanted to unleash my anger on Michael. However I couldn't just try and hit him in front of everyone watching, despite the temptation to want to do so, yet I needed to vent out my frustration. Undoubtedly the chance would inevitably arrive, sensing already that one of the rowdy reporters would be bound to ask the question. In fact I could already see a familiar face amid the reporters by the name of Jacques reading himself in the front row to the left and knew that he'd raise his own quote if given the opportunity. I gave him a glare to which he only shrugged and seemed to pick a thread from the cuff of his shirt.

Less than a minute passed before the noises of the many rowdy voices talking over one another finally died down, to the single deep voice of the Formula Zero official who would be directing the initial questions at us. Looking up at the race winner, all the attention was suddenly focused on him, allowing me to subtly draw out a momentary breath of relief.

"Congratulations Senen, a blistering unstoppable pace, a fantastic win." The official announced directing for the winner to describe his win in which Senen promptly would then answer, clearly thrilled with his win in his home city.

"It’s been an awesome weekend for sure, the whole weekend had gone great from the word go, so it’s been very, very special, especially on this legendary track, in my home city and perhaps one of the most important cities in Sol today. It's beautiful to win here in front of a majority home crowd. And of course congrats also to my co-pilot Samantha and to all my colleagues in the team, for helping to make this victory possible. Without a team effort that would not have been possible. I would also like to extend my congrats to second place getters Kixi Rajki and Kajtia Xiz'injhürek who are now the new System Champions. Congratulations to both of you and all of your team, it's so absolutely deserved, definitely it’s been an unbelievable effort for you this season. You deserve to celebrate hard, in fact we all should." Senen along with his co-driver looked at me and Kajtia as he passed over his congrats to us. I returned his gaze, smiling and nodding in acknowledgement.

"Thank you Senen." The official then stated nodding to Senen before his and everybody else's attention shifted to me.

“Kixi, first off congratulations on your first championship title, and of course to you too Kajtia. Let's begin with the start of the race. At the start obviously you lost ground. We're not sure why your car just jerked at the start line or what caused your not ideal getaway? Perhaps a little detail about your fight back and perhaps how your car got tangled up with Michael's on the final run to the finish line?”

I shifted awkwardly in my seat, leant forward so that I could speak into the microphone and nodded in acknowledgement to the official from Formula Zero who was directing the questioning.

“Firstly, big congratulations to the team, incredible success this year, we were in the running for the title in the previous two seasons but couldn't manage to convert them into success. However this time, third time lucky we did. I'm very proud to be a part of this team and to help contribute to it, so a big thank you to everyone for all of their hard work. This is a great result. Personally I also would like to thank and congratulate my co-driver Kajtia, in which without her riding shotgun for me, none of this would have been possible today.”

Pausing for a second, I lifted my head away from the microphone to pat Kajtia gently on the back and whispered in her ear, "Thank you." Then I quickly shifted my gaze over to Senen and Samantha and congratulated them both for their fantastic race win today before returning back to the mic.

"I made a poor start, most definitely not what I was hoping for. I sent too much power to the engines which if I had been moving at speed would have been perfectly fine, but not from a stationary idling position. I've raced many races and have done many starts. Today, at least at the beginning of the race I was feeling the pressure and that was the cause of my mistake at the start. Once again I have Kajtia to thank who prevented the car's engines from stalling. Had that happened we probably would have been relegated to last by the time the engines were restarted and been in a totally different position now." Pausing a moment I slowly sipped on my glass of water to clear my throat as I was still feeling a little dehydrated from the effects of the colossal effort I had put during the comeback I had mounted. The press before me were very much all silently still watching me in anticipation waiting for me to discuss that.

“The fight back I knew from the beginning would be a huge challenge in itself. The fact that Genevieve got ahead of me lost me a lot of time. Of course having track position on me she had every right to stay ahead of me for as long as she could. I did get very frustrated being stuck behind her, Kajtia notably had to calm me down. Eventually however after pushing her hard and keeping the pressure on her, I was able to find the break and get ahead of her to resume my chase of the leaders. That was looking grim initially even though I was slowly wheeling in the gap, but not at a good rate. The fact was that I had lost too much time being stuck behind Genevieve Pardeux's car that the leaders had pulled up a good lead. By that stage I was very worried that I may not have enough time to catch them let alone pass anyone.”

Pausing to take a drink and clear my throat, I looked across the room, further absorbing the realism of all the cameras, microphones and faces that were centred on me before resuming.

"Once well clear of Pardeux, Kajtia did notice Senen pushing Michael to the absolute limits. We could tell that Senen was a lot quicker and couldn't understand why he just wouldn't let Senen pass him since it would have relieved him of that moment's unnecessary pressure, and more importantly as far as his own agenda was concerned, he only had to beat me. In fact in allowing Senen through, he would have still had a healthy lead from us. Soon after it happened rather quickly, don't know how but Michael made an error which not only allowed Senen through, but it allowed me to close right up on him. From that point I understood that I still had a fighting chance for the title. My car felt quicker than his, it was quicker and I immediately made an attempt to pass him as we came out of the final tunnel to the main straight. He however took a up a strategic position forcing me to climb the tunnel's ceiling and come down on the opposite side on the exit to the pit straight, causing me to lose time and maintain his lead. From there I knew I was faster, but I knew getting past him on any part of the circuit would be difficult. I followed him closely, tucking in closely behind him lap after lap trying to exploit any openings or possibilities, but no real chances ever came. Then the accident with the back markers occurred. That was a real frightening experience in itself. That happened so fast, Michael got through it first unscathed, I wouldn't have had Kajtia not seen the flying engine part coming straight for my car. Thankfully she's the best co-driver one could ever ask for and she gave me just enough warning for me to kink the car a little to the left and avoid the impact." I paused looking at Kajtia, tapping her gently on the shoulder and softly said thank you to her again, as I then faced the press once more to continue.

“The passing opportunity finally came—", my voice almost broke as emotional levels began to rise and I felt as if I would burst into tears at any moment. I forced myself to continue speaking, "I found myself in a situation similar to that at the end of lap two. I knew Michael would try the same manoeuvre to defend his position so I knew that I needed to be a little more creative. I also was running out of time. It was then or never. So from there I played it like a game of swords. I made a dummy move, like a feint that in sword combat creates an opening for an attack. In the race the idea was to create an opening that would allow me to come off the tunnel wall to put us side by side into the final stretch to that finish line, instead of behind him as Michael was trying very hard to block any opportunity I had to get side by side with him. In the end as you all saw, my cunning little stunt worked, only just, making it a drag race to the finish line.”

Then the steady stream of liquid began trickling down my face, as I began sniffling with my nose knowing I could no longer hold back the tears. "Neither Kajtia nor I ever could have expected that Michael would try and ram us off the track at such incredibly dangerously speeds." From here, I tried to hold back the seething torrent of tears, but it was futile. Once that first tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream. I bent my head forward from where I sat at the conference table and pressing my palms to cover my face, I began to cry with the force of a person vomiting. Kajtia immediately put her arms around me, embracing me, whispering nice words into my ear, however it was painful for her to see me like this and undoubtedly others close to me like Mako. All Kajtia could really do was embrace me and let the torrent of my tears to soak through my shirt. Kajtia could feel me clench my fists, not knowing whether to be mad or to calm down. She could hear me silently screaming, suffocating with each breath I took holding onto my pride. She ran her fingers through my hair, time and time again, in an attempt to calm the silent war within my mind. By this stage the main cameras that had been focusing on me sensibly had moved away and had temporarily focused back on the race winners Senen and Samantha. Meanwhile the PR girl who had brought us in did show some concern, approaching me while the cameras were now momentarily turned away. Several others, journalists mainly, also tried to come in close, but the PR girl sturdily positioned herself in between them and us with her arms out to hold them back. To my surprise, for a girl with a similar size and build to me, the PR girl possessed a stature of authority in her stance and facial expression.

"Okay, we'll move away from our new champion for just a moment. Without a doubt, the images just seen by those of you watching, will have witnessed an emotionally distressed Kixi Rajki. Let's proceed now with the third place getters and now the ex System Champions Michael Vickers and Ramsey Gatehouse." The F-Zero official began waving out with his arms and hands, motioning for all the attention to now be centred on them and to stay well away from me.

Just as the cameras moved over to them, Ramsey subtly and indirectly apologised to both Kajtia and me for what had just occurred, of course to the defence of his driver Michael who had chosen to remain silent, and patiently waited for the F-Zero official to have everyone hear his side of the story.

“Would you like to tell your story of the incident at the run down to the finish which resulted in Kixi and Kajtia becoming airborne and ultimately being involved in a very serious crash, one that potentially could have resulted in serious injury or death?”

"Firstly I was pushing hard throughout the entire race, but found it a struggle to match my pace with that of the race winner. Senen was in a league of his own today. Congratulations to both of you Senen, and Samantha on winning the race." Michael quickly acknowledged the winners by turning his head slightly to look at them, but still kept his head close to the microphone in order to continue. By this stage I had stopped with the sobering and just sat there, head down not wanting to look up at him, while Kajtia still had her arm around my shoulders whispering softly in my ear ever so hard trying to cheer me up.

"The incident with Kixi and Kajtia on the final straight is not what Kixi in particular perceives it to be. My car's stabilisers failed causing my steering to collapse and my car to veer right and ram into Kixi's. The front wheels became stuck and were pointing slightly in the direction of her car, causing my car to then bounce off and the veer into hers again, and then again until we were temporarily melded. Yes I de-accelerated and accelerated frantically with the controls in an attempt to break my car free from hers, it seemed the logical thing to do since none of us had any intention to slow down, however her claim that I tried to ram her off the road is far fetched and illogical." Michael finished off calmly taking a sip from his glass of water and then leaning back on his seat a little. He indeed had been very composed as he spoke, not stuttering once with his words or having to think about what he had had to say, speaking with total conviction, convincing very much all that his version of the story was in fact what really had occurred. A convincing lie in which his co-driver Ramsey finished up for Michael, backing up the story with a more technical analysis, reassuring all those present and watching throughout the Sol System and beyond, that my claim of Michael Vickers deliberately having tried to take me out was nothing more than an absurdity.

"Although it has been noticed that the two of you have been deliberately ignoring each other since the podium presentation. Michael, have you congratulated Kixi yet?" The F-Zero official wasted no time in asking Michael the next question, especially upon noticing that he had already congratulated the race winners, but not both Kajtia and I the championship winners.

"She seems to be under the impression that I deliberately tried to ram her off the track, that making it extremely awkward to approach her. In fact this is the first time I have been able to explain that I encountered a catastrophic mechanical failure myself causing my car to veer into hers. Yet just looking at her facial expression now, I can see the doubt reflected in her mind. But that's okay, I'm not going to be bothered by Kixi's childish tantrums, I've not come to expect any less from such an immature spoilt little brat like her. The stewards are more than welcomed to inspect my car for as long as necessary to verify my claim. As for our new little champion brat, enjoy your reign as champion, I'll be looking forward to next season where I'll not only win my title back, but I'll do so convincingly.

My jaw dropped wide opened in disbelief at the words that were coming out of Michael's mouth. Not only denying that he deliberately had tried to take me out, but taking the insults to another level altogether, and in front of a system wide holofeed. I didn't know whether I wanted to get up and punch him in the face or continue crying. Kajtia slowly wrapped her arm around me once more and brought me in close to her trying to comfort me as I burst into tears again. At the same time she signalled with her other hand for the cameras to continue to stay away from us, for until I could get myself back together again.

"Don't you think those words towards Kixi are little harsh Mr Vickers?" The official immediately spoke out, a little shocked himself not having expected that from Michael as he too indicated for all live camera feeds to refrain from me.

“Well it's a harsh world out there isn't it. If she feels hard done about my feelings towards her, then she should perhaps learn to grow up. Instead of being snobbish and immediately accusing me of any wrong doing, why not at least approach me first in person?" Michael then looked around to his right to look at me whom I had already stopped with the crying and stared at him with a look of total disbelief in my eyes. He then answered his own question as he continued to speak. "No she didn't bother with that because Kixi is an attention seeker and generally for the wrong reasons. And just for the record, this isn't the first time she has deliberately accused me of some wrong doing. We've already seen it happen this season, and if you ask her about it, she'll say she inadvertently did so. We all know it's just part of her desperate tactics to beat me, a far more superior driver, and I guess her efforts have paid dividends for her as far as this season is concerned." He then paused a moment and gazed me directly in the eye before subtly concluding he's slandering mocking commentary. "So there you have it everyone, our new System Champion Kixi Rajki, who achieved all this today with more than just driving talent.”

Then all remained silent for a good part of a minute. I was itching to just get up and hit him in front of all the holofeed cameras, something Kajtia could sense thus placing her hand on top of my thigh under the table, gesturing for me to stay put. In a nutshell the prick had just made a mockery out of me in his cruel heartless attempt at my defamation in which he subtly just called me a cheat to add further insult to injury. I sure like hell hated the prick even more after today that was for sure.

The official appeared to be somewhat oblivious to Michael's discourteous approach towards me. Either that or he was choosing to ignore it. However he was clearly done with his questions, promptly moving aside for a reporter by the name of Jacques Dubois, a well known and respectful reporter for the Sky Network, a system wide news media agency owned by none other than the powerful Skycom Corporation and controlled by none other than Gabriel Skyhawk himself. Jacques I discreetly noticed, that he couldn't keep his eyes off of me. I could tell the look of eagerness in his face, one that like with the many other men before him, would soon turn to sheer disappointment once he realised that I batted for the other team as far as my sexual preferences were concerned.

"There have been reports of increasing animosity between the two of you. Is there any truth in that?" Jacques asked immediately shifting all the attention back to me.

“Well I think Michael summed that up just now by claiming in his shifty choice of words that I'm a cheat. I understand that we're rivals and that we don't have to be friends. However I beat him today fair and square and also over the course of the season. Michael today has not only demonstrated his true colours today by showing me a total lack of disrespect in his choice of words, but his total disregard for the safety of others by the use of desperate measures in having attempted to salvage his championship hopes today.”

"So you suggesting Michael is a liar and that he really did mean to take you out?

I paused a moment staring into the reporter's eyes as I absorbed the question in, knowing that holofeeds throughout the entire Sol System were broadcasting live. Half a minute passed of silence that would have felt an eternity to everyone else passed by.

"Well Ms Rajki, do you believe he took you out?

"Yes I do." A slight pause as I straightened my body posture upwards, "Yes he tried to take me out, and I don't believe his story about his stabilisers failing. In fact a bit to convenient if you ask me to suddenly happen on the final stretch." I firmly finished off saying folding my arms together readying myself to defend my opinion the moment I got bombarded with more questions.

However Jacques simply smiled and calmly continued. "So you don't like him?"

"Until today, I didn't really care. He was nothing more than a sporting rival. Yet he clearly holds that opinion on me and a grudge." My response was blunt and to the point. Although now I had really had had enough. My immediate thoughts were, as I asked myself mentally, "Was winning the title and beating Vickers worth all this?" Then trying to hold in a slight chuckle at my own thoughts and failing miserably at it, "You damn right it is", I mused to myself.

"Is there something you would like to share with us Ms Rajki," Jacques asked in a rather dumbfounded manner.

"No not really, except that Michael Vickers is a sore loser that is, but that's nothing you all don't already know." I replied prompting a giggle from Kajtia and even a slight smirk from the winners Senen and Samantha who were seated in the middle.

"I see them Ms. Rajki. Well that's it from me then. Congratulations on your championship win, and to you too Ms. Xiz'injhürek." Turning to face Michael and Ramsey, Jacques then proceeded to ask them a series of questions.

Your co-pilot has already been on record saying that your veering into Kixi Rajki's car was due to front stabilisation failure, which ultimately caused your car's steering to collapse and then the series of successive collisions," Jacques glanced down at his notes on his floating video screen in front of him. "Did you get any warnings prior to the malfunction of any pending failures Mr. Vickers?"

“No, neither I nor Ramsey got any indication that it would fail. It's unfortunate that it had to happen as I would have probably remained ahead of Ms Rajki and not lost the title, and secondly avoided all of these wild accusations. At least on a somewhat positive note, no one was injured.”

"Yes indeed true, at least no one was injured." Jacques repeated emphasising on the last point Michael had made.

By now I had truly had enough of his bullshit lies, and simply crudely saw it fit that the time to vent out my anger and frustration on Michael had come. With no longer even the slightest trace of any tears, instead fury replaced the tears that had only filled my eyes minutes earlier, making it almost hard to believe I was the same person.

"You're a pathetic liar!" I lashed out at Michael pointing a finger at him and shaking my head appalled. "You knew I was faster, and then you so tried to ram us off the track, and now you sit here lying to the entire Sol System and beyond. You're a little Wiesel who is unmanly to admit the truth on what you did. Such a low despicable act dude!" I could sense this turning into a heated argument, and one that could get ugly at any moment now. Even if he was bigger and stronger then me, I was pumped with adrenaline and the urge to slam him against a wall and put my hands around his throat and choke him.

However Michael did not even retaliate let alone flinch. Instead he further infuriated me adding insult to injury by deliberately putting his hand over his mouth and yawning at me, before defiantly denying everything again. "Ah and you see what I mean. She likes to play the sympathy game with her childish and immature tantrums, making wild accusations with no basis to support her inconspicuous claims. As I said before, the stewards who will check my car throughly, will nullify your outrageous absurdities, and clear any doubts from those who may cast any regarding this incident, further proving that you Kixi, are nothing more than a stupid little twat."

“Oh really now Michael?" I retorted. "Well he really summed it up didn't he!" I said out aloud turning my head to ensure I now had everyone's complete and undivided attention. "Vickers is the new definition of an arsehole in the Solan dictionary. In fact it's the universal word for being an arsehole in Zurigo, Latinova and also Züncålidiom. Vickers everybody, brings the definition of arsehole to an entire new level.”

Michael frowned. "You sure talk a lot for an uneducated and unintelligent little shit!"

"Oh why don't you just fuck the fuck off and go stick your ugly head up your mother's arse where it truly belongs!" I viscously snapped back at him before Jacques wisely intervened putting an end to the vicious bickering that was getting way out of proportion. Both Michael and I could have easily went at it all day trading insults with one another with what would have been comically entertaining to some, yet very inappropriate behaviour to the majority.

“Okay everybody, clearly the vibe in the air is still hot and tense. The race and championship may have already concluded, but it seems the action has found its way here as well and that at least as far as a battle over words is concerned, this is far from over." Jacques stood up straight as he looked up at all the drivers and co-drivers and then all the others present before finishing his speech. "Well that's it for now from Jacques Dubois reporting for the Sky Network.”

Jacques stepped aside giving me a look of satisfaction as he stretched out his neck and straightened his collar, and then as quickly as I had turned my head slightly to one side to notice the look of total distain on Michael's face through my peripheral vision, the next reporter, a female by the name of Nadira Tabak from the SBM Network was already at it firing questions away at me.

“Your comeback or remount, that was a phenomenal lap, can you talk us through it Kixi?”

"Gee have you guys already forgotten about today's actual race winners Senen and Samantha to not ask them any questions first?" I broke out in a laugh which worked to ease up the tension in the room a little as it got Nadira, Kajtia, and most others in the room including Senen and Samantha themselves laughing too, before I proceeded in answering her.

I answered away, the first few questions were generic and similar to the ones already asked. I answered them minus the emotional outbursts from prior and without any issues. I talked everyone through the lap in detail and explained the immense pressure I had been under. I very much told her nothing that was different from what I, or what had already been said, and in fact I inadvertently began showing signs of disinterest. Hopefully she would be the last interviewer as I was itching to simply get away from being in the spotlight. It simply wasn't my thing. I thought of Mako who was undoubtedly watching on from a nearby holoscreen, and just wanting to be alone with her for a while.

Sensing my eagerness to simply wanna wrap things up, she decided to then interview the race winners and then Michael and Ramsey after that. However I could tell that she would come back to me once she was done with them, but at least she had gotten the hint to hurry up and move things along.

It was very much the same questions and responses for Michael who like prior was adamant that he had not tried ramming me off track, and that his car had encountered some sort of catastrophic stability failure of some sort. All too fucking convenient if you ask me, including the bullshit he had said about trying to detach his car from mine. He knew all to well that it would cause my car to become airborne once his car had become free from mine. Too bad for him though, that my car still happened to cross under the finishing line arch before launching itself sky high.

I stared towards Michael's direction, my own eyes narrowing as this time I held my cool, and just as Nadira was wrapping things up with him.

"So after today, given that your main protagonist and rival has accused you of trying to take her out of the race, do you now hold a grudge or any hard feelings towards her?" Nadira pressed, her eyes hard.

"Apart from the fact that she is immature and needs to grow up, no, none at all," Michael replied assertively, his arm moving back to his lap, as he settled back into his chair, clearly indicating to the young female reporter that he was done with all the questions. There were a few murmurs that could be heard immediately afterwards, a few polite laughs in response too, but Nadira had wisely decided that that would be it, and wrap up proceedings with me, before things being as volatile as they were, had a chance to escalate again with the likelihood of more inappropriate things being said.

Thanking Michael for his time and the answering of her questions, Nadira who could like most others present begin to sense my eagerness to wrap things up, then turned to address me once more.

“I know you've had a rather exhausting day Kixi, and I can see that you're body language indicates your yearning to wanna get out of here and perhaps start your celebrations with your team and friends. I just have a few more questions for you and then I'm done.”

I simply nodded to Nadira indicating for her to continue, it's not like I really had a choice to not answer anymore questions.

“You're originally from New Rome on Mars. Your co-driver Kajtia from Hedstaden Sajna from outside of the United Systems of Sol. You two are not only the first all female duo to be system champs, but also the first all non Earth born duo to achieve such a feet. You migrated to Celestia City at eighteen years of age, I believe that would have been five years ago now. Your first F-Zero race was here, at the Celestiaring five years ago. This was also where you had your first race win two years later. Now you've won your first championship title here. With all this factored in, how does the Celestiaring and Celestia City hold to you deep down and do you ever feel any regrets in moving off Mars?”

I was tempted to grunt in response and not give Nadira much more, as I really disliked the mentioning of having moved to Earth from another planet. I rationalised to myself that perhaps it wasn't deliberate, but there were those watching all across the planet that had negative sentiments of those who were not from Earth, something I could not fathom to understand given we were all one nation and one species. Either way I knew that I had to answer the question. I knew that many watching were probably saying that they would have preferred that Vickers had won and become System Champion again for that very sole reason. Chilling the thought given some were his detractors, yet still preferred him over me simply because I wasn't born on Earth.

"I came here because I knew I had what it took to make it big in F-Zero, and here in Celestia I was given the opportunity to race for Zed's Racing Team, a highly respectable and well organised team. On Mars no such opportunities existed. I wanted to win as it is something every driver wants to do. I'm grateful to Jak Zed and all of his personnel to having made that dream a reality for me. I'm extremely happy to be a key figure of ZRT and have no regrets of ever having to leave New Rome." I explained maintaining a gentle smile on my face and a calm composure.

“Would you ever consider going back someday, does the difference in the more cosmopolitan life of Celestia City create the nostalgia of missing home?”

“No. In fact I met my girlfriend Mako who is originally from Tokyo here at Celestia and it happened soon after moving here. We're in love and have been living together for a long time now and eventually I will marry her. If anything Celestia City is the place that's given me everything a girl like me could ever have dreamt of. A successful career and the love of my life. I only have great memories from here that will live within me forever, I have no reason to want to move back to New Rome.”

The answer was long and detailed.However I knew it was appropriate enough, especially in thanking my employer and team. Either way as far as I was concerned it all went without saying, thus I didn't really need to discuss it. If I had not gone into F-Zero, then for starters 1 wouldn't have ever joined the resistance which of course no one could obviously know about, and consequently meet Mako who meant the universe to me. As for racing, it was in my blood, in my very DNA and I needed the speed, the control and the power of the engines to feel alive. That as well as being a warrior in my other converted life that I led, however that was not relevant at the moment. A race driver was one thing I had ever wanted to do and all I'd ever wanted to be, and today, finally I had done it, reigning supreme as queen of motor racing's pinnacle category, F-Zero and the modern day version of the old world racing, born a millennia earlier that was known as Formula 1.

"Oh I wasn't aware you were in a serious relationship Kixi." Nadira asked surprised.

"Well you know now." I said blandly as I really couldn't be bothered discussing my personal life to a bimbo reporter at a post race interview.

"Well okay if you want to put it that way," Nadira clearly getting the hint to not go off topic with her questions.

“Okay here's a rather different question before we start to wrap things up then. This one might be a little emotional for you, but I believe it's worth asking.”

I simply raised an eyebrow at her in anticipation of the question thinking what the heck wasn't emotional already today, never in a million years expecting what she was about to throw at me.

“Other than this fantastic grand finale of a race that has dominated news media across all of Sol for the good part of approximately two weeks, something else rather more tragic has also dominated in the media. The tragic death of murdered head of Skysec Cerberus. Kixi, it was known that she was a big fan of yours, how did the news of her slaying effect you during the lead up to today's race and as a whole?”

That really put me in an extremely awkward situation, one that had me cursing at the reporter on the inside, but one that I immediately knew how to handle. "Fuck off you stupid bitch with your fucking bullshit questions already." The words rang silently in my head as I continued to force my body to calmly smile at her. Being an elite trained agent, I did well in hiding my true feelings regarding the very woman who I had hated and despised most. Ultimately, as Kay Blade, my covert alter ego, I had been involved in her brutal slaying along with her own youngest daughter Paige.

Hesitating to answer, but clearly choosing the wiser which was to answer since at least half of Sol was most likely watching, maintaining my relaxed posture and composure, I not only answered her, but did so putting up the biggest fake emotional speech I had ever made to date, and convincingly so. "I only had the unique opportunity to meet Cerberus once only around two weeks ago. It was by sheer fluke actually. Kajtia and myself had just finished a test run of the same car we raced today. Cerberus who actually introduced herself by her actual name Emilia spotted me from a distance while being shown around the facility by my team boss Jak. I was actually flattered at learning that she was an avid fan of mine. Such an important high ranking person. It felt an honour to know this and meet her in person." Pausing for a second, I placed my right hand above my heart area continuing. "Upon learning that in only less than a week later, that she was brutally murdered did touch me a little somewhat, as I'm sure it did for many others. My heart sincerely goes out to her immediate family and to those deeply effected by her unjustly tragic loss."

"Yes it was quite a tragedy. Sadly her killers are still largely on the lose, may they be caught and brought swiftly to justice." Nadira concluded sorrowfully.

"Agreed indeed." I softly replied to Nadira's final comment regarding Cerberus' assassins. Little did the stupid whore know she was actually interviewing one of them, and better she never find out either, or who my other self was for that matter, as I for one would not hesitate in a heartbeat to kill her if she did. Her or anyone else that may in fact find out.

Nadira then continued back on the race related questions, asking how I'd felt about this year's new safety measures, asking me about the Celestiaring circuit and its conditions, including the intense g-forces both driver and co-driver were subjected to during an average race. Non racing drivers did not understand the intensity of being in the cockpit, the amount of stress the g-forces put on our human bodies during a standard race, let alone one in which the driver had to push hard up until the very end. People thought we just drove cars. Little did they know the extreme pressure on our necks, backs and every other damn body part and the raw power needed to drive a Formula Zero car and become a System Champion. I answered as I should, being vaguely polite now that I was able to anticipate the questions being asked.

Finally, it was done and we could leave. As I got up I winked at Nadira and quickly swivelled around the conference table and whispered into her ear. "You know if I were single I would fuck your brains out, your fucking cute." Shocked, this took the reporter quite aback who clearly wasn't expecting that from me. She simply smiled, despite the rest of her body showing signs of awkwardness. I then returned the smile and blew her a kiss as one of the PR girls then led both Kajtia and I out of the room.

Finally relieved, the post race conference finally over. Boy was I glad to be out of there. All that attention mostly on me being the new champion began to feel overwhelming, and furthermore, being in the continued presence of Michael Vickers was simply straight out awkward.

After a few more formalities here and there, and after a few non formal congrats from people I knew and from people I didn't know, finally things began to wind down. Finally I could just be me again.




EST 10:00, CE 3016-06-17, LST 18:00, CE 3016-06-17



I offered to buy dinner to celebrate but Mako had a better idea. Fancy restaurants were nice but not really Mako's forte. I took everyone to the Moon Deck Bar and drinks were on me. That way when the party got out of hand, and everyone knew it would, the setting would be a bit more appropriate. I setup a tab at the bar and advised the barman to immediately advise either Mako or me when low for instant top up of funds. Kajtia did insist she chip in for half the tab, I however didn't let her.The first round was champagne for everyone. I decided to put myself in the spotlight. I stood. "A toast!" I shouted. Everyone quieted down to hear me. "To Kajtia. You're the greatest co-driver one could ever ask for. Thank you. And of course Mako, it goes without saying, you're the best closest friend I could ever ask for. You give me reason to live."

Everyone drank and we all downed our glasses. Then after a quick refill, I made another quick speech. "A toast. To the fallen. And to those left behind. May their sacrifice not have been in vain." In solemn silence everyone finished their drinks. There were only my close friends present and all had ties in some form or another to the resistance. I had chosen my words carefully and subtly being in a public area, but they all knew what I had been wanting to say and that I held deeply for our fallen ones. "Now have some fun." I ordered after a few somber moments. "They wouldn't want us to sit here crying. They'd be downright ashamed of us." The party picked up again.

“Thank you." I whispered quietly into Mako's ear. "I'm glad you were there for me. I don't think I could have run that race without your support.”

“I need to thank you too." Mako said. "I don't know what I'd wound up being or end up at, had I never met you and fallen madly in love with you." Mako laughed to herself. "You know, it's a real shame that Vickers refused to shake your hand and congratulate you. I bet his already looking forward to next season to win the title back.”

“That's alright." I said with a mischievous grin. "He may never get that chance if other things start to change at an alarming exponential rate and I simply can't be there to defend my title. Thus he can suck it up forever.”

And then we partied hard into the night. We drank, we ate, we talked and danced. The odd stranger who recognised us would come up to either me or Kajtia to congratulate us personally from time to time, sometimes ask us for an autograph and then walk away. In all, it was a marvellous and perfect way to wrap up an overall fantastic and glorious day.

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