Author’s Note: This is an update to the first series I ever wrote for storiesbydude.com — If you’re not caught up here’s the last iteration [Star Child II]: https://storiesbydude.com/2020/07/04/star-child-ii/
Please don’t forget to leave a comment of what you think…more updates to follow…
Smack dab in the middle of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales sat the Isle of Man, the birthplace and home of the world’s most dangerous race and the scene of retribution for Aron. He’d spent the last forty months recovering from his last attempt at the track, when he and his bike had been forced to leave early due to a severe right knee misplacement and tibia fracture on the fourth lap; the bike hadn’t been so lucky. He and Marcus, his team’s official navigator and his bestfriend of twenty-two years, stood silenty soaking up the scenic excitement of the grandstand; it was an eruption of personalities: skirted race girls bounced about, repping various teams and organizations with their glimmering outfits, team and race officials speed walked to and from, conducting last minute checks and inspections, competitive intrigue and thrilling possibiliy grew uncontrollably and threatened to burst from each of the rider’s insides.
Aron rubbed the fuel tank that sat just below his chest. The 650cc, twin-cylinder, light-weight classed feat of race engineering that he sat atop was prepared for the mountainous adventure that lay ahead; he prayed one last time, hoping that he was ready as well. The third-signal sounded, instructed everyone that the race was fifteen minutes from starting.
“Six laps man…”, Marcus began his pep talk, “…you got this. You’ve done a hundred, this is just six. Watch your RPM’s going into Ramsay…Don’t forget the Black Dub…”
“How could I forget…”, Aron suggested, alluding to his near-career-ending crash. The Black Dub was a stretch of the course accented by low overhanging branches that created a strobe affect on the course, greatly limiting visibility.
“Look don’t think about. Block it all out…”, Marcus was losing the edge he needed to give an inspirational speech. “You know what, I’m gonna give you some time…get outta your hair…”, He tapped the radio crowning his head. “I’ll still be in your ear though!”
Their hands slapped together in the original handshake they’d perfected over the years. Aron remained silent, watching his friend walk off and step over the low fence that separated the track from the teams and bystanders. The number nine plastered Kawasaki shook rythmically with his body as he twisted left and right, stretching his lower back. He leaned down, practicing his race posture and envisioning the course in his mind.
Time and space seemed to dissapear as he got lost in daydreaming, it felt as if no time had passed at all before he noticed the grandstand beginning to empty and clear out. The fourth signal was sounding. Leaving the only the race officials, riders and their machines of fury on the track alone; every competitor prepared to move to the start line.
“Ready?!”, Marcus came across the comms device, “You’ll be fourth out the hole…”. The navigator instructed in compliment to movement happening on the track.
The riders were beginning to be ushered to the starting point, they’d all start the time-trial race sequentially — meaning Aron would have a forty-second, nerve wracking, focus blistering, heart pounding wait after the first rider began the race.
As he sat in the fourth position of the exit gate queue, Aron rocked his bike and shook out his limbs. He wasn’t aware but Marcus always noted how he repeated the same pre-race motions, it was the same routine Aron had been doing since they were a motocross race team back in Arizona during their teen years. Marcus had told Aron about the sretching and moving routine of his one time before, but Aron had brushed him off not convinced he really did the exact same motions before each race. He did.
While rotating his he head and neck the first rider erupted from the exit gate. The race had begun. Loud cheering roared from the collection of onlookers and supporters. Aron clapped with excitement and energy, he heard the loud shout, “Whooooo” from a few racers behind him and still others feathered their throttles.
The second rider shot out of the gate.
He was after-next up, nothing could break into his zone now. All sounds and distractions outside of the track vanished from his perception. Six Laps.
“This would be much easier if you weren’t determined to keep your encoding chip program running…”, Morzing stated as he helped Kisa up for the nine-hundred and eighty seventh time. He was keeping count.
“If I’m going to do this I’m not going to look like a…like a….”, The words froze on her tongue.
Morzing, Kisa’s mentor since she’d been brought back to Mars, grimaced, waiting for the next nasty insult. Kisa had begun developing a reputation as race traitor — she was the only one of ‘the returned’ to refuse to turn her encoding program off, instead choosing her human appearance over her true Martian self. And lackadaisically completing her re-integration classes and training sessions. “Well…go on…don’t stop now on account of me.” Morzing capitolized on Kisa’s hesitation, stroking the snout of the Chiparu she was failing to mount. “I heard about your unseemly outburst during training today. Not the actio–“
“Look I didn’t ask to be your princess!” Kisa snapped, cutting him off. She then yanked the Chiparu’s mane towards her feet a bit too aggresively for it or Morzing’s liking. “Again.” She demanded, although she detested all of Martian culture up to this point, there was something about learning to ride Chiparu’s that spoke to her determination.
Chiparus were tremendously beautiful creatures, a myriad of colors and almost appearing trasnparent under certain lights. Kisa would describe them as “looking like bubbles” when she first laid eyes on one of the creatures. The Chiparu was a three-legged steed, two in front and one massive hind leg, designed for digging into the harsh, hard, sandy terrain of the planet. According to Martian history and culture the Chiparu was one of the most ancient, native inhabitants of the planet; It was considered a rite of passage to ride one throughout the canyon range, Valles Marineris. The manes of the Chiparus were extendable and allowed riders a sidecar seated position to steer the huge creature.
Kisa stepped up onto the thick fold of hair and grabbed hold of the saddle, pulling down roughly, signaling for the Chiparu to begin stride. Tugging both saddle ropes commanded of the Chiparu more speed, they rounded the first pylon with a right turn as she pushed the corresponding strap down, yanking the Chiparu’s snout in the inteded direction. The Chiparu leapt over the barrier that followed the first turn, it was exhilirating, the sun burnt air grazed her face before they came thudding down in a dust producing slam back onto the Mar’s surface. The next training pylon was the difficult 180-degree left turn, Kisa braced and prepared. She yanked the Chiparu’s snout with the left strap, it started smoothly but as soon as it felt like she would make it, she lost her grip once again and went tumbling away from the galloping steed.
Morzing raced over to help the betrodden princess to her feet.
“I got it! I got it!”, Kisa barked out, upset at herself for falling once again.
“The texture of your human hands is not adequate for a proper grip…” Morzing began his lecture.
“Don’t.”, Kisa leered.
“Getting better!” Came a shout from the far end of the training grounds. It was her father, Emperor Kr’Khofa, issuing his words of encouragement as he strode towards her and Morzing.
“Your highest one.” Morzing bowed, so deep his tentacles brushed the ground. He elbowed Kisa’s thigh to show the same respect for her father.
In tow with the Emperor were his ever present advisors and Prince Kr’Jati — who strutted with an air of superiority; Kisa could feel his disdain for her refusing to readily accept their culture.
“I bring great news…” Kr’Khofa relieved them of their bows with a hand placed upon each of their shoulders, “…your husband has been recovered.”
“My husband?!” Kisa coughed, “I’m not married….”
“Oh but you are…”, the Emperor corrected. “Come. You will be one of the first to greet him…”
Kisa and Morzing followed as commanded, joining the pack of followers that trailed the Emperor. Kisa made sure to distance herself from the pompous prince.
The ever-instructing mentor, Morzing took the stroll as an oppurtunity to inform the distraught Kisa of her engagement. “At birth, royal members are ajoined to their mates of matrimony. As law once each of pair reach their twenty-fifth birthday the consumation is completed. Congratulations…”
“Wow…thanks.”, Kisa mumbled.
Groggily regaining consciousness, Aron yelled out in terror at the figure that leaned over him with a metallic instrument held over his face. Aron smacked the medical tool from the creatures hand and scrambled away. He toppled off of the gurney and fell with a hard smack into the gleaming silver floor. Traction betrayed his fingers and nails as he clambered for an escape against the slippery surface, soon he found that he was able to anchor his posture on the balls of his feet and he bolted, heading any where but where he had been. Aron slammed into a gurney, spilling a tray of sharp tools and prodders.
“Please…please! Stop, sir!”.
The creature being able to speak just drove more fear into Aron’s sporadic actions. His back pressed against a glass cabinet, Aron felt cornered and reacted accordingly. He reached down and grasped the first thing his hands could grab hold of and launched it at the oncoming tentacled being. A direct-hit. The creature crumbled to the floor under the impact of hollow metal container and its liquid contents drenched the aliens body in a foul stench. Aron wasted not a moment in seizing his opportunity to flee. He burst out of the open door on the opposite side of the operation room and slipped yet again on the tractionless floor, bumping into several more of the odd tentacled creatures in doing so. He scrambled away, crawling up to his feet using the wall as a brace.
The hall was long and wide enough for his wild flailing arms and gait to pick up speed until he was sprinting down the hall. Shouts and yells ordering him to stop knicked at his heels as more of the creatures gave chase. Aron shoved aside any that stepped out to try and stop him; most of them were caught unawares as he made his escape. He leapt over a shorter one and pushed open a round door. Gasping sharply as the dry, sand-filled air forced its way into his lungs.
As much of shock as he saw in her face, he was sure he wore the same expression. He tried to grab her arm as he fled away from the group of tentacled beings that she was with, but his grip failed and he crashed into the ground. With no time to waste he broke out into a scrambling sprint yet again. The girl was on her own…
“Who was that?!” Kisa asked as her and the rest of the entorauge watched the fleeing man.
“Your husband….”, responded the jaded Kr’Jati with a smirk.
Copyright © 2020 Kacy Gilbert (Writing as Remontz)
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