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stories & literature

spacestation #ma

"Part III: The Great Race"


(The IRC Version of this story is also available!)

Our friends sat once again around the campfire, and for the third time, it was SLAM's turn to tell the story. Leaning forward, and nearly torching his beard on the campfire, SLAM began. The fire roared skyward suddenly as the words

*eerie echo

were spoken. Everyone, taken aback by the sudden outburst of light and heat, was awed into silence for the story.

"The title of this story," SLAM began, "is The Great Race."

Most everyone remained quiet an awed, except Christofori, who laughed foolishly. Making an angry expression, SLAM raised his arms as if to cast a spell, scaring the crap out of Christofori. His "spell" having done its work, SLAM stroked his wise beard, thinking up his story. Inferno had the nerve to ask "Why do old farts always stroke their beards?" SLAM glanced at Inferno and explained, "It reminds us that we have something that you young-uns haven't." With that, SLAM finally began his story.

Once upon a time, not long after the crisis of the MIDI Snatchers, SLAM had some problems. Because of DALNet's Exploits department, the evil hosts of the #MA space station, SLAM was kicked out. However, with the help of his friend Nitro from Deepspace, he managed to return to

*eerie echo.

two weeks later with an idea. He walked up to the dinner hall, and looked in. James-Bond was missing, inferno_45 was making senseless sexual references to the general public from the stage, the ops were working up in ops, AcidDose was sitting at a table scribbling on a pad of paper, pretending he was hacking, and Christofori was tearing his hair out, listening to a song for the 4598th time, trying desperately to write a review for it.

For no reason, AcidDose decided to cause a disturbance. He walked smoothly over to the ph00d machine and knocked it over, spilling it's life-giving contents to the floor. SLAM entered at this convenient moment, having landed his ship on the Windows platform and bidding Nitro farewell. He walked calmly to the ruined machine, and picked up a pack of SIMM chips from the ground. SLAM then smacked AcidDose upside the head before seating himself at a table.

Inferno watched this, and commented, "pewp!"

SLAM chowed down on his RAM chips as Christofori started his song again for the 4599th time, as AcidDose laughed evilly over an odd line he had just scribbled. For no reason, a support beam labeled fell, followed by one marked It crushed Schabuda, sitting at the bar, Blaze0, sleeping on a table, Toffe, also sleeping, and knocked
poor little ModStats senseless.

Just then, DragonblooD walked into the dinner hall carrying a tomato, and noticed the commotion. SLAM, distracted for a moment, finished his chips, and then walked to the bar. SLAM decided to leap onto the bar to make his announcement. Getting a running start, he made a mighty jump directly onto the polished top.

However, Christofori had just finished waxing and polishing it, and SLAM's feet went out from under him, and he crashed into the glasses behind the bar. SLAM slowly climbed out of the mess mumbling at Christofori, who was standing by calmly, polishing a glass. SLAM resolutely climbed atop the bar... carefully... and made his announcement, his feet still slipping slightly.

"I've had an idea I think you'll all like," SLAM began, "And it doesn't involve inferno's corpse reappearing. I propose that we hold a race for all of our ships."

The whole crowd, except those sleeping, looked at SLAM, remembered his 486-powered ship, and burst into laughter at once.

"Did I say I was racing? Did I?" SLAM demanded, almost losing his balance again.

Christofori loved the idea, and went away right away to ready his ship.
AcidDose tripped him on his way out, however, forcing him to listen to the rest of SLAM's plan.

"Now, there are four location buoys around the station," SLAM explained, "those are what we race around. I've set up a starting line, and the race will start in one hour. Get your ships ready!"

Everyone, including those sleeping, jumped up immediately, and ran, stampeding poor Christofori just as he was trying to get up. Most everyone was planning to race, including the ops, and so everyone was out on the platform, readying their ships. Poor BardCat sat alone on the OS/2 platform, petting his ship softly on the head, and preparing to tweak it with a tube of lubricant.

DragonblooD was readying his ship, the S.S. Stinky, tying up some sensitive tubing with a roll of toilet paper he found. DragonblooD was about to install a new driver, but realized, "Wait a minute...I'm the pilot, what do I need with a driver?" He threw unfortunate driver down the garbage chute, and continued wrapping tubing up like a mummy.

Christofori was at his ship, throwing unnecessary things out to lighten it, and make it faster on the turns and acceleration. The first thing to go was his bed, which he hated because it made him sleep. And besides, it was starting to stink...The Modula Five was soon a mean racing machine, powered by a big ol' engine.

grl didn't have much time to get her S.S. 32MB ready. Between helping others out with mechanical problems, and her dogs having cows, she didn't have much time. Fortunately, her ships was always in perfect shape, so she didn't need to do much.

SLAM, it turns out, wasn't racing his 486, nor his 550, and not even his 1 giggy, but a fighter-like craft from Tribes 2. The S.S. Shrike was almost ready to go as he replaced its laser cannons with MOD blasters.

inferno_45 Had been working hard on his ship, whose name we shall not mention here. He had spent the entire half hour plastering new obscenities and senseless sexual references on its nose.

Gammis almost had his ship ready, when suddenly, for no reason, he fell asleep! It was too bad, because his ship looked like the fastest there. Looks are deceiving of course, but sometimes, beyond the shadow of a doubt...well, we won't talk about that now.

Stary, of course, had a speedy little fighter, which quite possibly had saved SPACESTATION #MA! *eerie echo. once before. Since Stary was an op, he expected to have an advantage over the others. He placed a console for his powers into his ship, so that he could "mute" his opponents' engines on cue. A moment later the S.S. Stary's-and-Stary's-Alone was declared ready for flight.

Gargoyle0 had decided not to participate in the race, but instead stay in his massive S.S. Notre Dame and observe the race...all the while tracking the racers with heavy cannons, should foul play enter into any of their minds.

Schabuda had fixed up ModStats, and was using him to help ready the S.S. Schabudadada. The extra "dada" at the end was to differentiate his ship from him. Should his ship and he share the same name...well, we don't know what would happen, but we believe it would be catastrophic.

AcidDose was still working on the S.S. AcidTrkr, which, after weeks of work, had still only reached the Beta .5 stage. Scribbling feverishly, he wrote as much functionality as he could. "Well, it should be okay," he decided finally, "unless I hit the 24-bit asteroid field at the wrong angle."

Brainwash was still working desperately at his ship, the stress making his Scottish accent even worse. He hammered futilely at his ship's Etherdrive, lamenting "Ay, me, the blasted Etherdrive again! I don't know crap about networking, someone help me!"

grl walked over, and gave his Etherdrive a good beating with her Three-Foot-Wrench, then went back to work.

Latebris finally brought his ship careening into SPACESTATION #MA! *eerie echo.'s Etherspace, and executed a violent one-point landing on the Windows platform. Remembering what happened last time he had tapped the engine casing repeatedly, he cautiously went back to work in other areas, being especially careful not to tap anything.

Finally, the time was up, and everyone hopped in their ships, took a short test flight, and gathered at the starting line.

The race was going to be a long and grueling one, with the course of the race taking them through a gravitational distortion, a portion of fluidic space, an asteroid field, with several ominous looking 24-bit asteroids floating about, THROUGH the core of a comet, and finally out for a final stretch to the finish line.

Gargoyle, enjoying his view as well as his position, started up a special display on the bottom of the S.S. Notre Dame, and signaled first red, then yellow, then green lights, and screamed "GO!!!" so loud that everyone had to wince before starting off.

All the ships shot off at the same pace, staying neck and neck for a while. inferno_45 took this opportunity to turn on XM Radio, his favorite station, and boost his thrusters for the first obstacle segment. infreno pulled ahead slightly. SLAM gunned his boosters as well, using the last of his replenishing energy to gain on inferno. AcidDose tried to do the same, but discovered a slight bug. Scribbling a correction onto his craft's hatch, he boosted ahead as well.

Those three were slightly ahead until they hit the gravitational distortion. In this area, it was impossible to tell which way ships would be pulled or pushed, or if they'd be sped up or slowed down.

Christofori in the Modula Five was the first to be slowed by the field, to which AcidDose leaned out and yelled "Christofori is ghey!" It was poetic justice as AcidDose's craft was the second to slow. SLAM's Shrike got thrown harshly to the left, as inferno shot past, blurting senseless sexual references, as grl mentioned "That guy shold write romance novels," as a gravity wave boosted her into first place.

Inferno interrupted the story to comment, "I do write them."
"So do I," SLAM replied sarcastically, "but we won't speak of that here."

Outofcontrolbris was unluckily buffeted by several concussive gravity waves, and was thrown to the right. Stary was in his way, and was the subject of a sharp collision and a mild case of whiplash. Extremely irritated, Stary made silentbris the first victim of muting. Momentumbris had to simply drift at the same rate to the end of the gravitational distortion. He lost some speed, but otherwise managed to keep up.

Gargoyle0 wasn't pleased with Stary's abuse of his powers, so he promptly unmuted roaringenginebris, and slapped Stary around a bit with a large trout to learn him. Careening into the last gravity wave, shocking nearly all of the speed from his ship, Stary DID learn his lesson.

Christofori managed to ride the last wave as it reversed, and regained his speed and position.

"Yay!" Christofori blurted out.
"Ahem," SLAM said, straightening his beard, preparing to recap the scenario.

So, there was grl in first, inferno in second, and Christofori in third. Inferno, who Christofori didn't like much, was blasted backward as Christofori came in from above, and dropped down in front of him, washing him with his engines, and blasting him nose over tail to the gravity distortion field. He didn't hear Christofori coming until it was too late because he had Snoop Dawg turned up waaay too loud.

Pulling alongside grl with an extra boost, Christofori asked, "grl, why do you hate me?"
"I don't!" grl yelled through clenched teeth, very intent on the race, "Now get out of my way!"

BardCat, having temporarily overclocked his cat, pulled up to grl's right and said, "Hey, that's my line anyway! So grl, tell me about the time..."
"NO!" grl shouted at him, and threw more juice to her engines.

AcidDose, finally emerging from the Gravity distortion with Stary and Schabuda, decided he'd try to get by with a little foul play. Scribbling madly on a pad, he hacked Schabuda's ship, and succeeded in taking the last "dada" off the ship's name. Suddenly, having no differentiation from its owner, the ship morphed and became one with Schabuda. Schabuda temporarily lost control, not understanding the sudden flood of information and commands.

Stary thought about trying to mute AcidDose who was gaining a slight lead over him, but decided against it. Instead, he just stayed in front of AcidDose as much as possible, the engine wash confusing several channels of the AcidTrkr.

Meanwhile, Christofori and BardCat were fighting over grl more than they were fighting for first place, and grl, annoyed, slipped ahead easily. SLAM and seriousbris were next in line, and battled for fourth place. They kept trying to get behind each other temporarily for a shot with their high-powered MOD blasters. Luckybris managed to do this, and pounded SLAM's behind with a tune. However, he picked the wrong ammo, and while it knocked SLAM engines out for a few seconds, the oomph boosted him forward a bit. As soon as he had regained control, SLAM braked hard, and popped up behind slackerbris's engine. Selecting a tune with a good tapping beat, he shot it onto unbeknownstbris's enginge casing, and left it there to do its work, then attempted to boost ahead when revengebris braked hard as well.

DragonblooD, having gained on nowslowbris, blasted past the nearly-stopped ship, and onto SLAM's tail. Meanwhile, up front, BardCat had managed to gain second place over Christofori, and tried to gloat about it, by positioning the aft hatch directly at the Modula Five's nose, and braking repeatedly, laughing manically all the while. Christofori soon tired of this tirade, and rammed his engines to full. He heard a loud "OW!" as BardCat felt the impact.

SLAM was running like a scared squirrel from armedbris and his MOD blasters, and from DragonblooD, who threatened to pass him and use him as a shield. Fortuanately, DragonblooD slipped into place at just the right moment as targetlockedbris fired off several rounds of Aryx. DragonblooD took the reverberating tune in the stabilizers and flew off course slightly before regaining control.

All of a sudden, grl's ship had a cow, and she was forced to slow for a bit, allowing Christofori and BardCat and the rest to catch up. Finally, the cow was out, and flattened onto BardCat's windshield, confusing him, and sending his ship veering about. Christofori ducked out of the way just in time, and was soon neck and neck with grl once again.

"Really, why do you hate me?" Christofori insisted pleadingly at grl. She replied "I don't hate you YET, now get back to second place where you belong!"

tunnelvisionbris was so intent on shooting SLAM out of his way, that he didn't notice inferno_45 gaining on him. Inferno shouted out several obscenities, which distracted unfocusedbris, and threw him off course.

DragonblooD had regained his position in the race, just in time to come up behind inferno again, who hadn't taken the hint and turned his stereo down.

grl was still arguing with Christofori, who just wouldn't take second place in her life, and was almost taken off guard by the asteroid field. She slowed for a moment, and Christofori blasted ahead, knowing all the while exactly what he was doing.

BardCat managed to shake the cow off his windshield just in time to see a backyard-sized asteroid hurtling at him. His ship juked out of the way with a screeching sound.

SLAM and DragonblooD were neck and neck, and took the asteroid field full speed, almost catching up with the leaders. Unluckybris, however, didn't have quite the same lead as they did, and it took him a while longer to get to the outskirts of the field. Inferno sped towards the asteroid field. He had finally decided to set all his high-powered speakers against his engine housing to increase his boost, and thus he was able to speedily make it to the asteroid belt along with disadvantagedbris.

grl took the asteroid field carefully, and barely maintained second as Christofori flew circles around each asteroid in front of her. BardCat kept his pace as well, barely missing rocks left, right, up, and down, all the while ignoring the caterwauling of his ship.

AcidDose, having improved his engines' efficiency, had managed to leave those behind him in the dust, and made it to the asteroid field. Loading his pair of MOD Blasters with some of Awesome's MODs, he didn't spend much time dodging rocks, but rather blasted them out of his way. He was doing very well, and had almost gained on Christofori, until his greatest fear was realized. A 24-bit asteroid loomed in front of him. It was too late to maneuver out of the way. Desperately, AcidDose pounded away at it with his MOD blasters, but the AcidTrkr's weapons were powerless against the 24-bit object. The last thing AcidDose did before AcidTrkr crashed was review his code, desperately trying to find out where the bug about 24-bit displays was.

Inferno was blazing through the asteroids, his new speed making it difficult to maneuver, and he grazed some of the rocks. To his dismay, he lost several very creative senseless sexual references that had been painted on, but he finally made it out alive.

Schabuda, in the meantime, still hadn't regained full control of his ship, but has learning how to control it with his very thoughts.

Meanwhile, up in the lead, Christofori managed to scrape across a rock, slowing him down just enough for grl to once again take the lead. Christofori regained his speed and ended up alongside BardCat, SLAM, and DragonblooD. They started a friendly conversation on how to get grl out of first place, which inferno's ship, roaring Snoop Dawg tunes right out of the engine, blazed past them, and headed right for the S.S. 32MB.

grl looked in her rearview mirror, and decided what to do. Forcing her ship to have another cow, she blew it out the aft chute, directly into inferno's path! Because of his speed, he wasn't able to avoid it, so instead, he pushed maximum power down, and closed his eyes shut tight. He blasted forward, right through the cow, his powerful engines frying it into burgers. His speed barely affected, he thought he had it made. He was battling grl for first place, when they were about to hit the patch of fluidic space.

The roasted pieces of beef, in the meantime, managed to fly at SLAM, BardCat, Christofori, and DragonblooD. SLAM caught a steak in the teeth, accidentally swallowing it too fast to enjoy it. BardCat's ship was rather picky about its meals, and turned up its nose. Christofori, snatched one, and placed it on his engine housing, to cook it a little longer. DragonblooD reached out for his, but his ship jumped at the last minute, and the steak ended up clogging one of his stellar radiation intake vents! DragonblooD kept going, but with his left engine out, and his right one still firing full burn, he was having trouble staying on course, to say the least.

They were just in time to see grl and inferno smash into the patch of fluidic space. Inferno had greater speed, but his ship was lighter, so his and grl's ships went about the same distance into the fluid before being slowed to a crawl. Inferno still had a slight advantage at first, because of his stereo, but suddenly, he saw a problem. The fluidic space covered the area around his engines, including his stereo. His precious speaker system shorted out, which was a good thing for grl: water conducted the sounds of Snoop Dawg far too well for her tastes. Forced to race at the same speed now, inferno kept fighting for first place.

BardCat's ship was protesting all the way, and as soon as it had hit the pocket of fluidic space, it knew that was the last straw. The Pokkit stopped in its tracks, refusing to go another step all soaking wet. SLAM and Christofori kept going, tossing random attack items at each other as they went. The water slowed things down too much though, so they ended up in a casual discussion about the weather, and port 80, and the gay-looking bar patrons. Somehow, Christofori and SLAM caught up with grl and inferno, just as the patch of fluidic space ended. In unison, all four of them broke free, and sped toward the next objective.

The other racers managed to keep the same pace and were about halfway through the water. That is, except for Schabuda, who had finally mastered his new craft controls, and blasted towards the asteroids. Oh, and in case you were wondering, folks, Brainwash WAS in fact, in the race, but his Etherdrive broke down after the first meter. Not knowing crap about networking, he was stranded there for the entire race. Schabuda, however, now had an advantage, being one with his ship, and slid around the asteroids easily as he blasted towards the patch of fluidic space. 

Stary didn't like the water at all: It wasn't showing off his new paint job nearly well enough, and he gave it everything he had. Stary thought he'd never get out when suddenly, something torpedo-shaped shot through the water right by him. It was Schabuda, speeding along so fast, the water didn't slow him down at all. The wake he created pulled Stary free at a speed he hadn't been able to achieve before. In a moment, they were nearly caught up with grl and the rest, as they approached the huge meteor, the last obstacle of the race.

grl, of course, was the first to enter the comet, through the appointed ice tunnel, followed closely by Christofori, who was still insisting she tell him why she hated him, and by SLAM, how had tired of their argument, and loaded some of Jason Chong's songs into his MOD blasters. Schabuda and Stary could clearly see the trio enter the asteroid. Stary started braking, so he could slow to a manageable speed, but Schabuda...He hadn't quite learned how to use his ships' brakes, he was so intent on moving forward. Steering desperately, he made it into the ice tunnel ahead of Stary, of course, but succeeded only in smashing deep into the ice wall, and freezing to death, along with his ship.

Stary blasted into the opening, barely keeping away from the wall, as he gained on the leaders. They took a right turn, then a left, then pulled up sharply. grl was still in the lead, and Christofori was equal with SLAM. However, Christofori, jabbed to the left suddenly, and forced SLAM to take what looked like an icy wall. SLAM blasted through the thin ice wall, and then through several more, as he took the alternate tunnel against his will.

Inferno thought, "Hey, that's kinda cool," and followed SLAM in.

Although the tunnel SLAM and inferno were in was shorter than the main path, all the ice walls they had to smash through slowed them down. Stary, in the meantime, was about to pass grl, when she nudged him to the left. Stary bounced all over the tunnel, still holding tightly onto second place, but taking a beating. His last act before smashing through the wall on a sharp right turn was to mute grl's engines. Inside the asteroid, Gargoyle had no knowledge of this. Stary got ahead of grl somehow, and hit the wall. grl smashed on top of him immediately, with a shipload full of cows, and screeched to a halt.

Christofori, deeply moved, screamed "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and killed his engine immediately to check on grl.

THUD! THUD! THUD! went the ice walls as SLAM cleared a path for inferno. They were almost to the exit.

"Christofori!" grl yelled up at the worried figure hanging out of his ship, "I'm okay, and I don't hate you!"
"Really?" Christofori wanted to know.
"Yes, really! Now go race, I'll be okay!" grl said, then proceeded to drag the battered figure of Stary out of his ship, and beat him to a pulp.
"Aww.. she really DOES like me!" Christofori said to himself, beaming, as he reentered his ship.

Christofori blasted out of the tunnel just in time to see SLAM and inferno exit behind him from a lower orifice. SLAM armed his MOD Blasters, and took a shot at Christofori, which missed.

Meanwhile, Brainwash had climbed out of his cockpit, and started pushing his ship by hand, determined to win the race. He had it as far as the gravitational field, when it was pulled in. Deciding that he couldn't safely push his ship anymore, he climbed into the cockpit. Then, a most amazing thing happened: His Etherdrive came online, at full blast! But that wasn't all that happened. He managed to hit a pocket of space/time/continuum goop, which did something...

The next thing Brainwash knew, he was blasting out of a comet, on the tails of three other racers! Thinking that someone had sabotaged his ship, Brainwash loaded in some tunes by Jogeir and sliced MODfire all around the leading racers. Gargoyle, up in the S.S. Notre Dame, still couldn't believe his eyes as Brainwash vengefully took the lead.

Suddenly... something they hadn't expected happened: Out of the comet, shot timelyarrivalbris! Seeing the disabled ships, he swooped down on Brainwash, and hammered him with repeated pulses of Falcon's Cosmic Outflow. Brainwash swore up a veritable storm of Scottish curses and winningbris zipped past. Joyousbris was overwhelmed with his imminent victory as he blazed towards the finish line with the last of his fuel, but all of a sudden...

The tapping sounds of the MOD SLAM had attached to cluelessbris's engine casing tapped one time too many, and the engine casing exploded once again! Luckybris was thrown clear, but not in the direction of the finish line.

Gargoyle, seeing that this race was clearly over, swooped around the racetrack, and picked up each survivor. Finally, he passed the finish line in the S.S. Notre Dame, Gargoyle declared himself the winner, and invited everyone to buy him drinks at the station's dinner hall... or else.

And so, as his friends drunk him under a table to make him stop spending their money, they printed out an Honorary Award for Finishing the Race (TM), taped it to his back, and let him sleep. Then the real party started, as they began swapping racing stories that they would pass down for years.

And in this setting, we leave our brave contestants on the dinner hall of...

*eerie echo.

The End!
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