The Space Race
The Cementbeat Walrus spends its days drinking six-packs and watching GASCAR (the Galactic Association for Space Car Astro Racing). What, you wanted productive? It's a freakin' walrus in a cage!
It's the 24th mooncycle of Febrisius-9, and space racing is the talk of the solar system! Amid wild speculation that a popular candidate for President of the Universe would sponsor a rocketcar, meteors pounded the spaceway, leading to Sunny Solarhour being cancelled and significant meteor delays throughout the race. For the first time in this race’s history, the spacelanes of this 1.5-parsec course were illuminated by gamma ray projectors. It looked to be a great race, as on the previous solarcycle, hometown favorite Kyrbo Breezboi’s #18 rocketcar took the pole position (21 places better than his previous race). But holovid fans were outraged that the Vulpecula Network was still airing a spaceball game featuring the Martian Zeddrox and the Newyank Yorkies even over the playing of the Galactic Anthem, failing to broadcast both the end of the 99th outing and the start of the race.
Intrigue around the pilots abounded, as the popular but hotheaded racer Tarnquinn Stigbot announced his intention to leave his intergalactic racing consortium and start his own upstart macroglomeration. While Stigbot looked to the future, Dunkle Jorkbox looked to the past, as this race marked the final points race of his esteemed career before he bodily transcended to the Great Booth in the Sky. However, fans looking to these subplots would be disappointed, as Stigbot fell ill to Nebulax Worm Infestation and was replaced by lesser-known Justy Yaypalindromes. Adding to the confusion, a relative unknown replaced open-helm racing star Dollop Fredonia after Fredonia broke his tentaclebone the day before. Other off-the-spacelane intrigue included Rufus Fobbersham Rocketeering announcing it would not challenge the billion-dollarbuck penalty imposed on it after a loose lazyrblock was found on the #99 rocketcar last week. Meanwhile, the owners of Darwyn Earthlight Interstellar held a press conference earlier in the week denying that the company founded by the legendary Electrocutioner was for sale, not even for a zillion zillion dollarbucks.
The gentlebeings started their antimatter drives and blasted off, but were soon under yellow alert only ten revolutions in, leading to this warp course's record 11 such yellow alerts and even a 15-solarminute red alert. Remblar Norxbang’s #12 rocketcar was the first to fail, blowing a trilithium rod. But despite the cautions, this race, dubbed the Great Astronomical Race, showed off the capabilities of The Vehicle of the Future!, for which this would be the first complete season. With Grievous Booztop out to the early lead, fans cheered like mad, perhaps buoyed by the knowledge that part of their ticket price went to charity. Of course, some unfamiliar names also were expected to start well, due to “space course ringers” being hired for the season's first evasive-maneuver race (left-turn-only pilots being disadvantaged in such circumstances).
As the race continued, Kyrbo’s brother Kurbo Breezboi briefly went fourth-dimensional after losing control of his rocketcar, though he would recover and finish 8th. The race was fast, with one pilot making a rev at a whopping 196.009 parsecs per solarhour. Codknot Excelsior surged on, unaware he was staring at a 10,000-point reduction in his Space Race Chase standings after his upcoming rocketcar inspection. All the pilots knew this would be their last opportunity to qualify for the All-Star Blast-Off, which, even though it wouldn’t count in the points race, gave them ample incentive to max out their Heisenberg relays. Suddenly the field was thrown wide open, as Kyrbo Breezboi smashed into the Fourth Moon of Pildok and had to replace his nosecone. Meanwhile, his brother Kurbo managed to aid his fellow team member Norxbang with what their owner called a “shove from above.” Then a major crash claimed many contenders, including Dugnor Happipap and Effervon Starlighter—who ironically was planning to auction off his rocketcar’s now-crumpled deflector shield after the race. (Nonetheless, Bracchus Voor’s Crimson Taurus-sponsored rocketcar was the only one with its warp core unengaged at the end.) The pilots powered on, though none could know that this would be the first race in over five galactodecades where a rocketmaker from another galaxy would be in the winner’s Dyson sphere.
But first they had to overcome the conditions, as the oppressive solar flares and space dust abrasions melted the new Lightyear tractor beams, leading to an array of yellow alerts in which teams could swap out beam generators every dozen revs or so. Jorkbox fared especially poorly in his final race, finishing 37th. Excelsior spun out perennial winner Jinglebop Goot into the inner nullzone, but the emerald beacon stayed lit. Some pilots were more fortunate, such as Doogle Rootitoot, who tied the record for “lucky targ” free passes. Racing scion Darwyn Earthlight II, starting his 300th space race, remained a powerful presence. But the conditions were even more powerful, as the field was so splattered with meteors that the officials suspended the race and restarted it on Moncycle morning. By that point, Earthlight was overlording the field, and was on the brink of ending his victory drought, when a slashed airlock sent him to the hangars. The race went six revs past its expected length due to the emerald-ivory-holochecker rule, known to the excited commentators as “Hyperdrive.”
Right then, it looked like either Excelsior or Joofuz Jynx would undertake the annual ritual of "licking the landing strip.” Protozz Cylocia and Moonglow Weeblog slammed into each other near the finish line, taking them both out of the race. Out of the chaos, oft-despised pilot Kyrbo Breezboi came away with the checkered beacon, his fourth such victory of the solaryear. The race finished in 11,884 solarseconds. Earthlight, Jynx, and Booztop all locked up spots in the Space Race Chase (for which only races that give points matter), and the best racer will be determined by what happens next!