TheIkranRider

Ikran's F-Zero timeline

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TheIkranRider

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Alright, since Starfox has close ties to another underrated series, F-Zero, might as well do this next. Introducing my F-Zero timeline!

Ok, yeah it is kind of obvious since some fans have splurged GP Legend into the main timeline, but hear me out:

So, much like the chronology, it starts the hyper futuristic race we know as F-Zero (200 years after the fatal F-MAX) that took place in 2560, the same race when Sterling LaVaughn first raced in. Then, there was the unfortunate event known as the Horrific Accident, aka the Grand Finale, in which Deathborn caused the lethal crash at the last course of the King League, Fire Field.

The Grand Prix was suspended for seven years until, thanks to the persuasion from Super Arrow, the Federation Congress decided to resume the sport with the F-Zero X competition in 2567.

Unlike the main chronology, there was a pilot that seemed to have returned from the dead, Tinsel Steelus. Aside from introducing the Duelists, Yugi Muto and Joey Wheeler, to the upcoming event (F-Zero GX) several years later, probably in 2573. It was thanks to Falcon that spread her wings and started to race again since the original Grand Prix 13 years prior and that incident in White Land.

Now, GP Legend would be in an alternate continuity, as would Climax, but both the GBA game and the anime were released at the same time in Japan in 2003, and then the US a year later. So, it's only fair to include both in the same timeframe. Here's the lowdown: In my OC's timeline, they both take place one year after the events of GX. In 2574, the scenarios of the anime went first, but only the first two Laps when Rick was awakened from the 150-year cold sleep and was just starting out; however, Lucy wasn't included in the game's Story Mode, so I theorized that the game must've taken place before the end of the second Lap prior to Lucy Liberty and Tinsel joining the Task Force. The anime resumed from there, and of course there were also the events from "Ending it All (F-Zero crossover)," which made some of the circumstances altered in the Japanese/English dubs. They just skewed into a different tangent because of the unexpected cancellation of the English dubs.

And finally, the latest Grand Prix, F-Zero Maximum Velocity, which occurs in 2585 (25 years after the original; I think having it a quarter century after GX was a mistake as it'll take us back to the settings from the original). The future's yet to come involving the all-new pilots, machines, and courses, though it's unknown as to how the competition had reduced from the intense, advanced rules to that from the original competition. Perhaps the Federation were having a restart. The future is hard to see.

Feel free to make your own timeline for the F-Zero series, and let's hope it lives on.

Such stories in the timeline include:

  • Falcon's Followers
  • The Samurai Returns
  • Cold as Ice
  • Rick's Lament
  • Vulnerability of a Hero
  • Ryu's Immigration
  • Tanaka in Trouble
  • Merry Christmas, Rick!
  • Tinsel's Trial
  • Tinsel's Interview with Mr. Zero
  • Ending it All
  • Man of Destiny
  • An Action Point for Valentine's
  • The Power of the Falcon
  • PJ, the Empyrean Colonist
  • The Bostonian Comes Home
  • To Be Married and Loved

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TheIkranRider

Alright, so here's the 1st installment!

Falcon's Followers

Disclaimer: I don't own F-Zero GX or Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters; the first belongs to Nintendo, Sega, and AV, while the latter is owned by Konami. I just happen to be a fan of both.

A/N: I wasn't sure about this fic, and I've thought of this since I was struggling on GX's Story Mode. But here it is, my crossover w/ F-Zero GX and Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Monsters. This would be mostly centered on Falcon and my OC, Tinsel Steelus, as well as the Duelists, Yugi and Joey. I kind of got this idea from Buttscottch since SHE'S going back to the original series.

Without further ado, it's time to d-d-d-d-d-d-d-DRIVE!


Lap 1

Tinsel Steelus has kept hearing about the upcoming Grand Prixes while still on hiatus, revering her fears. She'd been this way for the past 13 years and had decided to tune upcoming attractions out, yet somehow the thrill of them turned her on. She eventually went back to her garage where it all ended. The Silver Comet was just collecting dust, yet it was intact from the accident she endured all these years prior:

It was back in the first championship race, and she just won second place, thanks to being outranked by the elitist, Captain Falcon. She still qualified in the Knight League and advanced to the Queen League. She was able to conquer the courses, until she reached the final challenge, the second track in White Land. Deep within the planet, Alcatran, it was known for first-degree criminals to wind up in permanent cold sleep; in other words, death, which was exactly what laid ahead of her. The final circuit began and she was already struggling on the sharp curves and slipping on the ice. Tinsel was nearing a gap that was 50 feet in length, and lagging behind, she was quite surprised all her opponents made it. Including Falcon, Dr. Stewart, Pico, and Samurai Goroh. In hopes to cross it, Tinsel made the left turn and went for it...

Only to fall short by a mere thirty feet!


She'll never forget the crash that cost her life and the hypothermia she later developed. She felt she was literally meeting Death himself. Fortunately, a medical team rescued her and she was then hospitalized for an excruciating fortnight! Since that time, she had scars for life. She was so traumatized that she never wanted to race ever again, not even advance to the King League, the final, deadly stretch in the Grand Prix. Since then, she never used her poor Comet, and abandoned it inside a nearby garage in Mute City. Dr. Theodore Clash made the repairs and wanted to encourage her to keep going, but it never helped.

Now, Tinsel switched to another interest, Duel Monsters. It was a card game using some of the most lethal creatures known to mankind. This dated 5000 years back at Egypt, where a pharaoh known as Yami became a master of the dark arts. Since then, it evolved into a casual hobby introduced by her two closest friends, Yugi Moto and Joey Wheeler. Tinsel grew fascinated with the distraction, but eventually her love for the races gradually came back to her. Sure, there were some pangs of fear and hurt, but seeing the Silver Comet in all its luster brought a sense of nostalgia. She decided to give it a test drive throughout the mega metropolis, and she couldn't wait to show it to them!

Tinsel then met the two young boys, along with another male and female in tow. They were actually escaping an island that was rumored to explode, thanks to a corrupt dueler named Seito Kaiba. Somehow, Tinsel emerged into Battle City and ran into the panicking group.

"Get in! Quick!" she shouted for them to climb aboard.

Thanks to the Comet's immense speed, they were able to evacuate in a manner of seconds! She met Tristan and Tea, though they volunteered to be dropped off at Domino City instead of hitching a ride to the mega capital. Since then, Yugi and Joey tagged along and thus they began their journey into the unknown, and the most evil.
 

The sights were breath-taking, especially at night. Yet the duo was disappointed since there weren't any people interested in Duel Monsters. Later on, the gang went through a warp gate and Tinsel entered a place which gave her the most comfort, Port Town. This was similar to Mute City, only it was more tranquil, and less complicated to navigate. It was the location for one of the courses featured in the sophomore round, and it became a sanctuary for her.

Lucky for them that a punk was waiting in a dark alley, challenging them to a game. Ecstatic, both Yugi and Joey drew arms while Tinsel watched. Little did the group know that there was a massive fortress transforming before their very eyes.

It was a wide, curvy course littered with a rainbow pit area, and a bunch of capsules. Neon hot pink guardrails gave it a dazzling outline. Only Tinsel observed the spectacle, while her friends were busy with the street rat. She almost instantly recalled the cerulean machine racing across the track, and collecting the capsules.

Geez Laweez! Is that the Blue Falcon!? He lives in Port Town?! Boy, aren't we in for a treat. 

Unfortunately, she didn't want to disturb the duel, so she let them emerge victorious. As soon as the battle ended, after the hovercar made three effortless laps, it was over. The craft returned inside the stadium, and the simulation reverted back to the dull structure it once was. The result had no rewards just a big impression on Yugi and Joey's skills and teamwork.

"Hey, Tinsel. Yoohoo, Formula Zero pilot!" Joey called.

"Uh, sorry. What happened here? Who won?"

"You weren't paying attention, were you?" he said, irritated.

"I was just looking at that F-Zero track Captain Falcon raced on. He was amazing!" She couldn't get the moments out of her mind, it was so surreal.

"What track? All I see is this grey, ugly building. You must be seeing things."

"But, I saw..." she trailed off. Who was she trying to convince? She didn't pay attention to the fight, and they didn't look at the racetrack. Tinsel continued to argue with the hothead, but with no luck. Yugi, however, was curious on what she observed. They later discussed it at a hotel room, and she couldn't even sleep that night. She wondered where the bounty hunter's next location was going to be.

A/N: When I was doing the first chapter, I used to think it was almost impossible. I was only able to complete it successfully on Normal difficulty, and I later had this idea. At that time, I managed to find an old cassette tape featuring the Cars' album, Heartbeat City. And the intro song was "Hello, Again." I figured this would be the perfect song for the duel, but time kind of erased those fragments I had so long ago. It was just Yugi and Joey against another Duelist while Falcon trained at his turf, kind of like the setup of Ash's first fight in Mewtwo Strikes Back.
Well, one scenario down. So, stay tuned for the second one as Tinsel follows Falcon to lethal territory.

And here's the podfic:

 

 

A/N: Now comes Chapter 2, both in this fic and GX's plot. And this brought back some memories from the original F-Zero in terms with Samurai Goroh, and his endless, bitter rivalry w/ Falcon.

Lap 2

As Tinsel, Yugi, and Joey were leaving the hotel room after a hearty breakfast, they immediately saw the Blue Falcon whiz past them.

"Hey! There's Captain Falcon!" she exclaimed.

"Yeah, I wonder where he's going." the spiky-hair kid said.

"Oh man. You were right about him, after all, Tinsel." Joey admitted.

"Let's see if we could follow him; I couldn't sleep well thinking about him. It's been over a decade since he was my own competitor. I wouldn't get in the way with Pico or Goroh, though. And I'm not sure where Dr. Stewart is." She faced the duo. "So, how about it, guys? You up for it?"

They were very enthralled of the futuristic racing. They never seen anything like it, even though it was outside their norm. The guys laid their hands on top of each other's and hers. "I'm in." Yugi said, since he was a huge fan of games.

"Me too!" Joey added.

And so, the trio climbed into the Silver Comet and set out to the roads less paved and traveled.

Through a warp gate, they followed the hero and wound up at the middle of a desert. They all looked around at the open terrain as the intense heat and scorching sunlight greeted them.

"Where are we?" Joey queried.

"According to the data, we should be in Red Canyon, at Planet Cryton." Tinsel answered.

"Red Canyon? I never heard of such a place." Yugi said.

"This used to house one of the courses in the Queen League, much like Port Town. And it's also home to a vicious Japanese warrior named Goroh. He's the head of a nefarious band of space pirates, and Falcon's greatest rival."

"Pirates?! What the hell is he doing here?" Joey's voice rose a few notches.

"I don't like this, either, Joey. Let's get outta here." Yugi offered. But the team witnessed the Blue Falcon being surrounded by thieves just over a couple dunes away.

They noticed they were trapped and could be spotted if they dared to escape, so they immediately hid behind a massive hump, listening in on the protest.

Samurai Goroh cornered the professional pilot. "You stole the prize money from us last time!" he pointed. "You will pay for that!" The henchmen rooted.

The leader laid his hand on the polish of the rare, unbeatable vehicle. "That's a fine-looking machine you're driving, Falcon." He turned away as he retorted, "You know the law here in Red Canyon? If you lose the race, you forfeit your machine."

While the vile criminals took in their fearless leader's words, he stuck a switchblade against his rival's throat as he was starting up. Clearly, Joey had enough with the brutes as his face started to wrinkle.

"You can't back down now! The mighty Falcon can't back down from a challenge, now can he?"

"Let's do it!" he nodded and accepted in a cool demeanor.

Goroh performed a couple backflips and motioned to a goalpost. Two red flags were waving on top of each stalagmite. There was a dusty road leading up to it, although it was scarce compared to some rocky, unsteady ground. "Alright, then! The first one to that checkpoint over there is the winner!"

The vengeful swordsman sheathed his weapon and ordered his men in Japanese to bring over his prized machine. It was a bright pink with the number 5 in bold white. Tinsel recognized it as...

"I can't lose in my Fire Stingray. Heh heh heh." Goroh snickered, and the death race began in a flash!

The checkered flag was lowered and the trio couldn't lose their sights on the duel they saw! They were flabbergasted, especially Tinsel who recollected Falcon and Goroh's dark pasts. They were once partners belonging to the Internova Police Force. But things went awry as the two were getting more competitive; the bounty hunter defeated him in everything, from rising through the ranks, to retrieving more bounties. Since then, they were at each other's throats, until Goroh had an enormous criminal record. He was cast out and he made his living as a vicious killer and burglar renowned throughout the universe. Rivals at the F-Zero races was only the tip of the iceberg.

The Duelists and Tinsel saw the two duke it out on the uneven trail. Loads of rock were being pushed down the cliffs by Goroh's gang, and they managed to avoid almost every one. Some took damage, others were just mere obstacles. At times, they were neck to neck, and the leads were traded, until...

A ginormous boulder nearly crushed Falcon like a huge boot squashing an ant. Luckily, his booster saved him. And it was just enough speed to get him to the finish line. The threesome couldn't help but cheer for his stunning victory! They were so absorbed, that they didn't notice Goroh making a wrong turn and accidentally crashed into the precipice.
Unusually, the Stingray was steaming. It was hardly possible since it was known to have high acceleration, but also unsurmountable durability. Goroh stammered a few inches away and yelled, "Falcon! I'm gonna get you in the Grand Prix! Gaaagh!" The vehicle exploded, the shockwave threw Goroh into the rock face. And the Falcon went clear out of danger. This was also a signal for the trio to hightail it out of there while the minions were still preoccupied, extinguishing the rapid flames!

A/N: This was one of the only chapters I was able to finish on all difficulties, and I unlocked Princia Ramode as a reward. I wasn't very crazy about her nor the Spark Moon, but all I had to do was conserve my energy and boost like crazy at the last stretch while still avoiding the numerous boulders. The AI was just insane as Goroh kept rocketing passed me, so that's the strategy here. Next chapter, though, is my least favorite of them all. Oh, and btw, the cover song for the Red Canyon theme rocks!

 

A/N: This was one of my greatest killjoys while I was playing through Story Mode. You'll see why later, and I sorely disagree those who consider it to be a fun lap; I'm looking straight at you, Ephraim!

Lap 3

There wasn't any other way to go but out, and so they decided to head back to Mute City. As did the captain. Once again, they followed him despite the tension within the Comet's cockpit. Everyone was a bit reluctant to keep following him, but somehow the uneasiness subsided as they found a rest stop in the city that never sleeps.

A few cars ahead, they saw the Blue Falcon head straight into a parking lot consisting a bar and a refueling station. There was a sign completely covered in plasma. Amongst the twilight sky, it read Bet Race Dollars in large font.

As they stopped, Tinsel gazed up at the display.

"Bet...race..?" Her face turned pale, and her temperature dropped a few degrees. She was NOT expecting this.

"What's wrong?" Yugi questioned.

"Yeah, what gives?" Joey chimed.

"Guys, we can't enter here. We're all minors, and we're not even 21 yet."

"So?" The blond wondered.

"I've always hated casinos and games based on luck, and I heard that one of them takes place on a F-Zero circuit. Casino Palace, or New Vegas, as some people would call it. No offense, Joey, but I'd rather play games that have skill than the luck of the draw."

"Uh-huh..." He looked at her skeptically.

"I believe she has a point, Joey." Yugi said. "Luck isn't always your best friend, especially if people lose their money and their lives over something unpredictable. I, too, want games to prove that you're stronger based on your abilities and strengths."

"No, not you too, Yug! Why do I feel like such a minority?"

"C'mon, guys. Let's go in and grab a bite." Tinsel led them inside a comfy, casual outlet. They decided to order a few sodas and snacks while they watched the BET race on Televid.

They saw the match and the track consisting of sharp turns all the way around. Tinsel remembered how much of a hassle those cornering, sudden angles could be, always crashing into the walls and her opponents passing her. There were a couple jump plates at some spots, plus about three pit areas. And there were plenty of creepy clowns waving and wishing the racers good luck. Fat chance on that!

She took a sigh of relief as she wasn't a part of this irritating place with all the lights, bells, and slot and poker machines all around. "This is much better."

"We will shortly be closing registrations for the next race!" the male announcer called.

On the score board, there was Beastman at the Number 1 slot, Number 2 was labelled with The Skull, third was Famicom, fourth was Super Arrow, and fifth was Baba. But that wasn't all the participants. There was also Jack Levin, Dr. Theodore Clash, Mr. EAD, James McCloud, Antonio Guster, Gomar and Shioh, Bio Rex, and Billy. The trio weren't sure who any of those racers were, but they were startled to see a stranger enter the Blue Falcon.

"Hey, why is this guy using the Blue Falcon?" Joey queried, as the gang saw a mysterious man don on a large green cape, and a decorative mask which looked like one used for a Mardi Gra.

"Maybe it's Falcon in disguise." Yugi said.

"Yeah, a pretty lousy one at that!" Tinsel commented. "They would've done a far better job if they would've made a makeover on his vehicle, too."

"Nah, I think it's just a stranger. Heh, so much for grand theft auto." Joey mentioned.

Everyone was glued to the flat screen, including the patrons.

The Blue Falcon was amongst the crowd, and the race began. "3...2...1...GO!" The screens flashed and rose at the last second. Then, the cerulean car made navigation seamless as if he knew the course's every nook and cranny. From using the jump plates, to swerving at the right moments without being detrimental.

But, by the second lap, everyone kept on shooting passed him like living rockets!

"Oh, that stranger's never gonna catch up now." muttered one customer.

"Sure he is, he's Captain Falcon. He can make it." said another in a squeaky tone.

The Falcon boosted and at each turn, he managed to perform some side and spin attacks to keep his enemies at bay. The stakes were extremely high considering this was supposed to be a race with potential winners, taking advantage of people's wallets in the process. Everyone was desperate and reckless, yet Falcon kept his cool throughout the whole ordeal.

"Yeah! The Final Lap!" The announcer spoke after the first machine crossed the line.

A lot of them were losing power and flashing red as every careless pilot kept on going down the path of hell! Falcon kept up his strategy by boosting and using the machine to the absolute limit. The jump plates were a huge advantage as he gained more ground while in the air, and the rivals still caught up. So he kept on using his aggressiveness, although he had to be careful to prevent himself from falling off. Then, it was rinse and repeat after the pit area.

After a sheer stroke of luck, the Famicom reached the goal first.

Yugi, Joey, and Tinsel kept raving of the amazing feat he pulled.

"How the hell did he do that?!" the Comet pilot shouted with glee.

After they calmed down during the victory lap, she made a critical vow, "Note to self: Never gamble when we reach 21."

"We won't." The Duelists swore in unison.

They saw Falcon get rewarded an enormous leather sack. It was given to him by a scrawny elderly man who looked to be a nonagenarian. His messy, snowy beard reached down to his upper chest, and he was always hunching over like Quasimodo, only more wrinkly and brittle.

Falcon, in his normal apparel, took it and then a newsbreak suddenly turned on. Tinsel and the others surprisingly noticed it as well.

"Once again, Black Shadow is running riot in the Lightning Area. All citizens are advised to evacuate immediately. We repeat. All citizens are advised to evacuate immediately..."

The chaos displayed a demon clad in black, laughing hysterically as he raised his hands in triumph. Fire was licking buildings and destruction was everywhere. People were also screaming in the background.

"Lightning? Why would there be citizens in Lightning? I mean, what is this place anyway?" Yugi was very curious.

"I don't know." Tinsel wondered.

Just then, they saw the Blue Falcon hurriedly drive away from the lot and onto the public streets, nearly crashing into oncoming vehicles.

"C'mon!" Both Tinsel and Yugi leapt from their stools and paid the fare, while Joey kept stuffing in his mouth.

"Joey, let's go!" his friend grabbed and pulled him by the arm. He almost fell off his seat while he was gathering his bearings; he was always known to have such a huge appetite.

"How're we supposed to get there? A-are we gonna be struck?"

"Nevermind that, Yugi. Falcon's heading there right now, and it's up to us to follow him."

They each hopped into the cockpit and the Comet sped away on I-195 like a jack rabbit on loads of caffeine.

A/N: As you'd see on the roster for Lap 3 there was Zoda. Unfortunately, this was set before "Ending it All" and keeping the timeline consistent, I wouldn't include him since he'll be out of cold sleep next year. Actually, disregard that since this was a mistake, as he had caused a riot about 5 years prior. So I added in Bio Rex in his place. And of course, Falcon named Famicom was a reference to the old Japanese system similar to the NES but it was an add-on to play floppy discs. It's actually called the Family Disc System.

Also, I was a minor then, I wasn't even 18 yet. But I did keep making a vow to myself that I'd NEVER plan on gambling once I reach the legal age. Since then, I kept my word, except when I spent my 21st birthday at a casino; I didn't do very well on the games, but at least I didn't spend my life away like most unwise consumers would do! I despise casinos, and the Robert DeNiro movie, AND I loathe games based on luck! And I hate this damn chapter so freaking much! I can't for the life of me recall how long it was until I got that bastard done right, lousy rubber band AI!

With all resentment aside, this story would be more interesting as the Duelists get a chance to shine. This would be the lesson that Tinsel would later use against the Bloody Chain.

 

 

A/N: You want to talk about fun? This is indeed one of them. Excepting this one time, I never had trouble with it. Little did I know I was supposed to wipe out Mike before I reached the goalpost first. Though higher difficulties can be an exception. The Bloody Chain challenge makes them bleed more profusely than a heart artery. You'll see what I mean.

Lap 4

The Silver Comet continued to chase after the elusive Blue Falcon. While heading toward the Lightning pit stop on the hunt for Black Shadow. The newsbreak made the trio wonder who and/or what that demon is. Yugi and Joey, munching in the back seat, have speculated that he's another opponent straight from the Shadow Realm. Even Tinsel wasn't positive of his identity nor his capabilities, which made him the most mysterious. They even concluded he's nothing but a walking nightmare hell-bent on mayhem and massacre.

But their deep thoughts were interrupted by the incoming street gang while racing through the Big Blue highway. The entryway was dark and the ambush was much of a surprise as one of the colorless Wild Boars rammed into them. The black muscleman did the same stunt to the Falcon and showed absolute no remorse for it. He was wearing black shades and no hair. His teeth gleamed, literally, with golden choppers as he sneered.

"So you want to play... Let's play." the hero challenged.

"Ha ha ha ha! Guys. The party is just starting!" He stood out from the open cockpit, and all the vehicles with the mohawks obliged.

Everyone sped ahead and the bounty hunter was on the chase; he figured his best chance was to wipe out most of the dummy cars, but mostly crush Michael Chain. The result would probably allow safer passage, and perhaps cause the street gang to disband and scatter away like wimpy bullies.

So, he went on the pursuit. Tinsel advised the duo to speed ahead amongst the clashing machines as the Comet was never good at taking damage. This was an endurance test for all of them before they could reach the warp gate leading to Lightning. She figured sarcastically this was a good way to get there since they'd be conducted by electricity from the water vapor left over. Unfortunately, this was the shortcut to the next location, so they didn't have a choice.

The Silver Comet beelined passed the group, and the punks and Falcon were too busy to notice its illuminating presence. Falcon just kept on bashing and destroying nearly every grey Wild Boar as they clustered into small groups. Which was very unwise as it made them easy to demolish with a well-timed side or spin attack. Even some of the streetlights became inanimate targets. At least the surviving guests would be extremely lucky they wouldn't fall into the ocean below.

Finally, he made it up to the head honcho. Mike began to chase an unknown automobile of sorts, but he was easily distracted by the predatorial bird. Unlike his cronies, his machine was the most durable and the trickiest. His hide was as thick as a thousand mastodons, and the Falcon just kept slipping. The negro himself was undoubtedly aggressive as he attempted to hit Falcon directly with a few threats of his own.

The wrath was still going on after they crossed over the massive pit area, where it was the only one on the nocturnal highway.

Meanwhile, the trio left the car behind and set up a trap to the enemies yonder. Yugi and Joey shuffled their decks and the kid drew a few. The Turtle Cannon was the first, as a thick, green reptilian creature emerged with a turret on its large shell. There was also a little fur ball with jotted limbs and wide, beady eyes. It was known as Kuriboh, a monster that screams the phrase, looks can be deceiving. He loaded himself up to the shooter, then Yugi drew out a final card. A golden X was etched on its face; it was the Multiply card. As he laid it down, the turtle itself shot off the brown cutie into the air. It landed toward the gang below, while more of those buddies formed.

They were watching and waiting as Falcon was leading the pack, with Michael clipping his wings.

"Oh no! After Falcon! We can't lose him!" The dull Boars just got up and went for some strange reason. "Go! Go after him!" he commanded. In the end, he just turned and headed back. Falcon just simply waved goodbye, not knowing the shooting stars that were landing straight for them. Although, they weren't really comets or meteors.

They were just a bunch of Kuriboh that latched onto each of the Boars, but Mike's. Every one of the passengers illuminated and the machines exploded on contact mere seconds later! Through the smoke, it was hard to tell whether or not Mike was one of the unfortunate victims. What truly mattered that it was smooth sailing from here. And so, the Duelists and Tinsel resumed their odyssey.

"Wow! That was amazing, guys!" she complimented.

"I thought so." Joey replied.

"Indeed. I used to pull off that same stunt when we were in that virtual world, remember?" Yugi motioned to his partner.

"Yeah, you incinerated those flying beasts so we could have access to that Castle of Illusions where Mokuba and Kaiba were."

"Exactly. So, I figured with a nasty gang that size, it was necessary."

"Great move, you two! I could actually pick up a few pointers from you guys." Tinsel remarked.

Falcon already went under the checkpoint, saying Lightning Area in neon blue, and having one bolt on top of each post. The terrific trio headed there on the double.

A/N: If you would've seen the flashback scene on "Ending it All," that was when Tinsel took advantage of Yugi/Yami's strategy to heart, as she borrowed both the Kuriboh and Multiply cards from him to execute that same tactic on the Bloody Chain. It was unknown whether or not Mike was caught in the crossfire, but rest assured he'll have his eventually.

By the way, even though it was filler, I consider the Virtual World saga to be one of the best moments from the classic series.

So, the team and Falcon are on their way to Lightning with no interference. Stay tuned for one of the most intense laps ever.

 

A/N: This was one of the chapters I never wanted to go back to; Chapter 3 was also one of those dreaded Laps. And word to the wise, good freakin' luck on trying to do it on Very Hard Mode.

So, the team finally made it to Lightning. What would they find? Let's see.

Lap 5

The first thing they noticed as soon as they entered Lightning was the stormy weather. The stratus clouds overhead were as dark and ominous as they could be, plus very sinister counting the endless thunderstorms this area was known to have. The only exception was there was no rain, the air was completely dry, and Tinsel and the Duelists could've sworn their hairs at the back of their necks stood up. Also, their eyes had to keep readjusting from the sudden flashes as well. Luckily the rumbles weren't too unbearable for their ears. Still, they couldn't help but wonder how people would be able to survive in a planet that's prone to an unstable atmosphere.

Apparently, through research, this was once a lush, fertile planet, until the climate became a lightning zone due to intense air pollution which constantly harms the ozone layer. They were lucky that there were some innovative companies who were capable of harnessing the harmful bolts and utilizing the electricity into generators, which can house up to 10 million gigawatts total. The output was so great, that it was even enough to provide power to other neighboring planets. That sounded interesting, but Tinsel, Yugi, and Joey were growing more nervous by the second, as they never wanted to get fried, like Joey said.

"Still...we have to help Falcon and find Black Shadow." Yugi suggested.

A loud clap greeted them and they saw a passageway that was destroyed. Pits of fire littered it on all sides, and up ahead they saw what appeared to be a racer of sorts in a bright turquoise. According to the data, it was known as the Wonder Wasp, and the pilot was an elite member of the Federation named John Tanaka; he was also known to be a promising mechanic, although, he didn't look like a prizewinner himself. His body was covered in ash, ruining his pristine white uniform. And he kept going in and out of consciousness as Falcon hurriedly went to him.

"Are you all right?" he asked, holding the hapless man up.

"Urgh...Jody's still inside that building!" With his blurry vision, Tanaka pointed toward a massive power plant in the distance. It looked as cryptic as a haunted place would be. It was dark and it sustained heavy damage from the inside. The lightning only increased the fear factor, and the flames that were licking the core.

Falcon sped away in his racer. "Wait there." he told him.

As the trio climbed out of the Comet, and coughed on the thick air, they followed his gaze as he zoomed in; they thought it was suicide venturing in there, especially in this ludicrous weather.

"This is horrible." Joey said as he skimmed the area.

"I don't like this anymore than you do, Joey."

Tinsel was at a loss for words, she really shared the teen's feelings about this depressing situation.

"Which is why I need to do something. We can't just stay here and watch."

"What're you doing?" she cracked her voice.

"I'm going in after him, we can't stop now." Yugi's Millennium Puzzle started to glow and jiggle. Then, his whole body brightened just as the artifact did. "Yugioh!" he cried, and the transformation into the ancient pharaoh commenced. By the time the light and the symbol on his forehead faded after a few seconds, it revealed Yugi, but in a taller body, longer blond locks, and a more earnest demeanor.

"There's no turning back now." Yami spoke in a deeper voice. "We have to save Falcon and assist the Federation against Black Shadow. Are you with me?" Tinsel and Joey just nodded. He fixed his eyes on the destruction, "Alright then. This could be an intense rescue mission, so I would need someone who is fast, and is able to catch up with the Blue Falcon." He drew out a card, but it wasn't just any Duel Monster; it was actually one of his sacred Egyptian God Cards. "I summon my own Egyptian God, Slifer, the Sky Dragon!"

A large, spiky dragon emerged with two mouths, sharp claws on its feet and hands, enormous bat-like wings, and completely covered in crimson. The valiant champion leapt onto its back and it roared just before it went on the pursuit.

"Be careful, Yugi." Tinsel said.

"Hurry back in one piece, you hear?" Joey added.

Yami replied with a grin and gave a thumb up. His face turned serious as they both soared through the wide open hatch. Slipher got in the central chamber in less than a minute; he was undoubtedly the fastest, even surpassing Ra's speed. They saw Falcon climb out and hold an injured brunette who was lying down stunned on the floor. She also had her own machine, it was known as the White Cat and it propped up against a wall. Unfortunately she didn't have the strength to retrieve the badly damaged hovercar, and there was hardly any time.

"Jody!" Falcon ran to her.

"Ungh...Falcon?" She barely had enough energy to lift her hand. Her battered body was hoisted up by him, and they made it inside his machine instead. It was about time, too, as everyone saw sparks of electricity run amok. The Falcon turned from the main exhaust hatch and then it took off with a blink of an eye. Yami and Slifer chased after them just as soon as an enormous rapid wall of flames was closing in for the kill!

The Falcon reached up to speeds at around 2000 kilometers an hour, but it was a cakewalk for the red serpent. There were green-blue orbs that littered the straight shaft, refilling Falcon's energy meter, if only by a fraction. It still kept on boosting, while draining most of its stamina. On top of that, it was likely to decrease more of its energy if it should hit any of the tall pillars or the closing doors. Although, they didn't shut completely, it was still a hassle when they only stopped just mere inches. They were all like that horizontally, vertically, and even diagonally. Slifer used its flamethrower to blow any roadblock to smithereens, sticking as close to the Blue Falcon as possible. The pilot was so absorbed on the escort, that he hardly noticed the assistance.

It was mostly a clear passage, although the closing apertures were slowing him down. The merciless wall of flames loomed closer and closer to the group as they went, until Falcon and Jody came across a ramp.

"Jody! Hang on to something!" she obeyed as they raced onto some speed boosts. Unfortunately, like the other doors, even the one coming up was nearly closed shut! The gap was a grim chance for them to escape before the power plant should blow into space dust! It was no trouble for Slifer, but for Falcon at going at this exhilarating speed?!

Falcon put the pedal to the metal, and he and Jody shut their eyes, bracing for death. Yami ducked and held onto Slifer for dear life, expecting the worst, with the flames barely making contact with their tails!
 

Meanwhile, outside the power plant, Tanaka, Joey and Tinsel were completely aghast as they saw the power plant be engulfed in a vermillion ball of heat hurling straight into the exosphere. The heat went up against their faces, and the thunder crashed with the rising temperature. "Yugi!" the duo screamed at once. "And Falcon, too..." she whimpered.

Tanaka, barely holding on, prayed for their safe return, almost losing all hope.

Luckily, Yami on Slifer's back was able to escape just milliseconds before the explosion, although his navy blue coat was covered in soot. He brushed some of the residue off. "It's all right, Falcon and Jody are fine." he said as he dropped from his perch.

"Yami, you made it!" Tinsel ran and hugged him tightly. She didn't mind the sudden warm sensation, it was pretty comfortable.

"That was a close call, Yug." Joey congratulated with a smile.

"It sure was, Joey. It sure was."

Slifer was dismissed, then the trio looked at the devastation, and they almost missed the Blue Falcon that emerged from Hell's wrath, nearly unscathed.

Tanaka was reunited within his crush's soft arms. "Jody!" He then wobbled as he escorted her back to the Wasp. She, however, took the wheel as she observed Tanaka's condition. "We need to get you to a hospital, fast!" The hatch descended and locked. Then the totaled Wasp gradually made it out of harm's way. That was until a certain maniac was gleefully making the surrounding ignitions rise.

Falcon looked around and noticed the demonic bastard, raising hell. "Black Shadow..." He punched his open palm and he marched straight toward him with a brave, determined face. Tinsel, Yami, and Joey couldn't help but stare at that horrid sight. It seemed that their new friend was more acquainted with that Batman-look-a-like than they'd anticipated. Huddling next to the Comet, they let the unwavering hero take a stand.

A/N: Next up is my absolute favorite chapter in all of Story Mode, Black Shadow's Trap! Something about this particular chapter just keeps me motivated and interested, especially for what's ahead. Falcon steps up to the plate, as he'll deal with the heartless abomination. Who is he? Why is he at Lightning causing all this chaos? Find out next time!

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: If you've seen the movie, Speed, then you should already know the concept. In fact, I HAVE watched Speed when I was little, but I've only seen the bus scenes, not the whole movie. Not until around 2006; that was when I got into the Keanu Reeves movies, and it was surely a blast! Although, the sequel should be highly avoided, lousy replacement.

Anyway, this chapter was fun to play, I was able to complete it on all difficulties, and I was also able to unlock Dai Goroh. So, let the menace begin!

Lap 6

Tinsel and the Duelists saw Falcon approach the demon known as Black Shadow. He was twenty feet away from where he stood, as well as his own machine, whatever THAT was. It was also pretty dark and almost horrifying with the dim lights, and the continuous thunderstorms. They huddled together and hid beside the Comet.

"Falcon! You've come to die? I needn't have wasted my time looking for you, then!" the Emperor of Brutality taunted as he folded his arms.

"Let's settle this at the Grand Prix. Not like this, it's the coward's way." the bounty hunter growled.

The nemesis leapt off his vehicle. "The coward's way? You make it sound so noble. I just plan to eliminate anyone who stands between me and the prize. Simple as that!" They saw his body glow white, and his hands looked as if he was forming a ball of sorts. Indeed, it was a spell, but what? They were certain many people, err survivors, may not know much about Black Shadow. They were probably even lucky to escape from his terrifying presence. Just then, a massive golden ring appeared and two energy binds were formed, and then, "Falcon! Take this!"

He released them and they instantly wrapped around Falcon's body, trapping his arms. He attempted to dodge as he was conjuring, but the walking nightmare was quicker than the naked eye.

"Aggh! What're you doing?!"

"Come on out, Blood Falcon."

The hero continued to struggle, trying to break the bonds with as much strength as he could muster. Then, a clone of his emerged from him. It was as if the hapless trio was seeing double; they could hardly see his evil attire with the red jumpsuit, the yellow scarf, and the fuchsia, spiky helmet with a skull of death smack in the middle of it. Although most of his face was covered by his own visor, they could still make out his sneers.

"Are you ready?" his master queried.

He attached something on top of the fuselage of the Blue Falcon, just behind the cockpit. The device made a rapid, annoying, beeping noise.

"Yeah, I'm ready." the carbon copy said, then he jumped off the machine as Black Shadow lifted his victim in the air. The threesome were surprised he wasn't struck by the lightning. Still, what were they intending to do?

"Farewell, Captain Falcon!" the devil snickered. Falcon was trapped within his own machine, and it closed the hatch as if he was controlling the whole thing with telekinesis!

"He he. You and Blue Falcon can die together!" his servant added with an evil smile, nearly showing his fangs. Then they laughed triumphantly as the machine was speeding away!

"After them!" Tinsel said. She wasted not a single millisecond as the gang scrambled in the Comet's cockpit. With no time to spare, they chased after the Blue Falcon again, never caring whether or not the two evildoers would notice them. It was only a matter of seconds before they realized...Joey wasn't with them!

Yami scrounged through the backseat. "Joey? Joey!" He faced the pilot. "He's not here."

"What?!" Tinsel screeched, "Where is he?!"
 

Meanwhile, the elusive pilot barely had enough endurance to break apart the energy bonds. As he toppled over, his hands landed on the thrusters. Then, he checked the vitals; everything seemed normal, until an alarm turned off. It kept flashing, "WARNING!" and the display showed a bomb was attached to the fuselage. It also read that if his speedometer should drop below 800 kilometers an hour...

Falcon's adrenaline went up, never wanting to know what would happen to him, nor his precious craft! However, his life was more important, and he snapped back to reality as he avoided the obstacles in his way. First was a dash plate which was good, knowing he's in the safe zone, then, there were a small handful of cars. He blasted his headlights, and the cars scurried aside. Plus, there were a few sharp turns in which he drifted through.
 

Beside the Comet, Tinsel and Yami noticed their friend riding on a Duel Monster; it was a gigantic black dragon with sharp claws, bat-like wings, and even crimson eyes that glowed as bright as Rudolph's nose. It was Joey's signature monster, the Red-Eyes Black Dragon, the dark incarnate of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon!

"Joey! What're you doing? Get back inside right now!" Tinsel ordered.

"It's too dangerous!" Yami agreed.

"No way! I'm not gonna let these evil bastards win! For crying out loud, we need him! He's the Grand Prix champion, and he's the one who may know who we're dealing with! He needs our help!" Joey shouted over the calamity.

After a brief pause, they gave in. "Just make sure you don't get struck." she replied.

"I won't." he assured with a determined grin. He may be crazy, but at least they can admire his great courage. "I-I'm gonna try and dismantle the bomb!"

"Be careful, Joey! Don't get blown into bits, too." his old friend warned.

"Relax, Yug, I know what I'm doing...I hope."

As Falcon was driving vigilantly through the obstacle course of Hell, Joey and his Red-Eyes attempted to lift the speed-sensitive bomb off. Its claws dug in as much as they could, but the sudden, sharp turns and the collisions made it easy to slip up. As their ally bumped into a wall, Joey was so nervous he'd explode with him on top of it! But he never gave up, not even the stubborn inclines and more of those pesky cars couldn't stop them.

The velocity was too much, that Joey wasn't able to draw a card, not even the dragon's Sharp Claws. But at least Red-Eyes was able to scare away any troubled driver that would get in the helpless Falcon's path. Then, it began to narrow. Thankfully there was a speed booster. But that was only a brief respite as they came across a few dirt areas, slowing down the captor! With his quick thinking, Falcon used his own Booster and increased and maintained the speed limit above 800 kilometers. Whenever he was several centimeters close, the rotating bomb on the roof turned red, ready to burst!

Fortunately, Falcon was smart and foolish enough to prevent it. But, the bad news was, since he consumed most of his machine's energy from the rapid boosting and the endless impacts throughout the highway, the hovercar itself turned red, meaning it was severely low.

This put Joey in a state of panic. "Oh, come on! Hang in there, Falcon!"

He was so worried that he forced his Red-Eyes to dig in his talons deeper, which resulted a few cracked nails. The dragon was just as wound up as ever as it used all its body weight to detach the bomb.

The serpent and its rider were growing weary and dizzy from the constant movement, then there was a deep incline leaning toward the left. Falcon tapped another guardrail, disabling the dragon's hold. And Red-Eyes wasn't able to land on it due to its weak claws with the Blue Falcon speeding away from them. From overhead, they saw what was coming in the far distance. A well-lit burnt orange sign was crashed through which said, "CAUTION! ROAD CLOSED FOR CONSTRUCTION!"

Sure enough, it was as the Blue Falcon jumped over a gap. This reminded Tinsel of the incident at White Land as she and Yami continued to follow them several miles behind. They were horrified of his leap of faith. Falcon turned his vehicle toward a conveniently-placed hook from a crane, thinking it would really help to knock off the sensor. But, the height was barely enough by a few inches!

Joey observed the problem. "Balance it, Red-Eyes!" It obeyed instantaneously as it soared beneath the Falcon, and used its curved head to lift it toward the hook. It made contact, and the bomb was finally separated! The Falcon made it safely to the other side, but Joey and his monster were all washed up as the bomb exploded in the river several feet below!

By the time it was clear, the Comet jumped over the gap, which wasn't as long as the pilot anticipated. It immediately stopped as soon as it landed, and she and Yami emerged. They looked around for their missing comrade.

They heard a few pants and saw a hand reach up to the ledge. The duo went over and they pulled him up. Joey's body was completely soaked from head to toe. "Are you all right?" the pharaoh questioned.

"Yeah, I think so." He looked at the spent card, it's face darkened. That was a sign that his monster was used up. "I think my Red-Eyes did the job and saved Falcon."

"Where is he?" Tinsel wondered, fearing for the worst.

"I believe he made it. And then he got away."

They escorted him back into the Comet, but the sudden flash and crash made them startle. "Ah! Let's get outta here!" Tinsel screamed.

"I told you we'd turn into lightning rods!" Joey added.

The trio headed through a straightaway then a warp gate, not knowing where their compatriot and idol had ended up.
 

"Ugh! What a day!" Tinsel exhaled after they settled in the outskirts of Mute City. "This has been one disaster after another. I don't think we should follow Falcon anymore; it's just far too much!"

Yugi and Joey felt the same, exasperated and wound up, especially trying to comprehend the champion's greatest adversary and his evil twin.

Everyone was put on edge, and Yugi and Joey found Tinsel pacing around. "Ok we got a man who's clearly either from Hell or the Shadow Realm, who's capable of causing so much havoc, and God knows what he can do. And then there's a guy, who's far as I can tell, is Captain Falcon's doppelganger. I mean how are we supposed to survive with these bastards roaming around, what is going on here?! Who is this guy?!"

Yugi raised his hands in front of him, trying to prevent any more escalation. "Let's just take this one at a time. We need to analyze this so we could know who we're up against."

"I knew he's from the Shadow Realm. I'm surprised we never saw him in Battle City with Marik!" Joey intervened. "He can be another duelist for all we know. Well, I'm ready for him!" He drew out a card to prove his point.

"No, he isn't." Everyone turned toward the baritone voice that came from behind.

The street lights shone on his distinctive features; everyone went aghast. "C-Captain Falcon?!"

As soon as everyone caught their breaths Tinsel stepped forward, "Look, I'm sorry we've been following you. We didn't mean to be a bunch of stalkers. We were just curious, and we tried to save you from Black Shadow's plans on killing you."

"Yeah," Joey added. "We wouldn't want to let him have his way. Yugi and I aren't racers, but we've heard a lot about you." He reluctantly took out a hand to shake, but Falcon shook it in a coy manner.

"I guess curiosity does kill the cat. We really want to apologize." Yugi sulked a little.

"Don't." Falcon said. "I'm actually glad you saved my life. So you were all the ones who were lifting the speed-sensitive bomb, and escorting me and Jody out of the exploding power plant."

"Uh...yeah, we were..." Everyone just blushed, until Tinsel spoke up. "So, who's this Black Shadow and that clone we saw back there? Do you know these guys?"

"As a matter of fact, I do. Come, I'll explain along the way. We'd better hurry if we're going to enter the Grand Prix in a couple hours."

Her face fell. "Grand Prix..? Oh my gosh! There was supposed to be a race?! I've been tuning out the races for so long, it was like child's play. I-I didn't know!"

"The F-Zero Grand Prix is tonight?" Yugi was astonished.

Just then Falcon gave her a quick examination, with just his keen sight. "Are you...Tinsel Steelus?"

She immediately switched gears. "Uh, yes I am."

Falcon put a strong hand on her shoulder. "We have much to discuss. You're welcome to bring your friends along."

"Sure."
 

They stopped by the racing grounds where the competition will be held; they only had about a half hour to spare. The trio introduced themselves to Falcon, he did the same; although it was strange as he never heard of Duel Monsters before. He was pretty amazed that how they got his death averted all those times were just phenomenal. Yugi also told him about Yami's spirit within his Millennium Puzzle, and how he was able to change forms. The bounty hunter had never seen anything like it on all his travels. Nevertheless, there was still one more vital detail he had to tell them.

"You've missed out on so much, Tinsel. It's astonishing how you were able to survive after that incident at White Land. It was like you came back from the dead somewhat. I s'pose it must've been quite a shock for you."

"Yes it was. I never wanted to race after that, and I was so traumatized that I never wanted to use the Silver Comet again. Until recently after about 13 years. Even though I lost, I was still qualified for the final challenge, the King League. But I refused."

"I understand, but you must know something. There was also an incident within the last race. Have you ever been to Fire Field?"

She shook her head. "No, I don't think I have. Wait, what incident?"

Falcon paused for a few moments. The trio was anxious to know what they'd missed. Tinsel felt guilty for abandoning the races when she should've participated. Then, he rose his head.

"There was this event known as the Horrific Grand Finale. About eight years ago, it was located deep within the bowels of a planet that was said to house the best minerals in the galaxy. But then, some greedy drilling companies hit the nerve of a volcano, causing the entire world to be flooded by magma. They went into bankruptcy and joined the F-Zero Committee for funding reasons. So far, the location was used twice as one of the most fatal circuits in the universe, hence the name, Fire Field. And then, there was the Finale."

Falcon stated that before the F-Zero X tournaments, there was a seven-year suspension of Grand Prix races due to the "Horrific Grand Finale." It was a violent and fiery accident that incinerated fourteen drivers to death, including Sterling LaVaughn, now known as the Skull, during the old days of F-Zero. Another racer, an oddball superhero named Super Arrow, escaped unscathed. And one of his longtime racing rivals, Dr. Robert Stewart, attended all the critically wounded, including Falcon.

During his hospitalization, he was unexpectedly ambushed by Black Shadow. He felt weak and sedated before his nemesis got there, and he managed to steal his DNA and made himself a clone so he could have the leg up on the competition. About three years into the prohibition, he eventually noticed Blood Falcon himself during some of his practice races in Port Town. For seven long years, rumors were spreading like wildfire saying it was Pico who caused the crash, an alien who's well-known for his reckless driving; however, he knew in his heart that Black Shadow was the true culprit behind it all.

Before the F-Zero EXtreme Grand Prix, the Galactic Federation decreed that no racing was allowed; despite the prohibition, the sport went underground where many racers, including Falcon and Super Arrow, went to hone their skills in discreetly. The crash established the F-Zero Racing Academy, after a speech, by Super Arrow to the Federation Congress. Which after a seven-year battle helped lift the ban. The F-Zero championship made a comeback with the rules and regulations revised, yet still Black Shadow and his closest associate, Blood Falcon, were at their old tricks; the Emperor of Brutality wanted to eliminate his rivals, but also murder Falcon in front of millions of fans as a way to strike in fear. As if the finale wasn't bad enough!


None of them could speak. They could barely believe what they just heard, and Tinsel really did dodge a plethora of bullets.

"So...aside from the fact that Fire Field is a literal representation of Hell, who is this Black Shadow?" she stuttered.

"He's known as the Emperor of Brutality, and he's very aggressive; more so than any other racer, especially Pico." Falcon was stern. "His machine is #30, the Black Bull. It is a menace across the track with high cornering and body strength, yet he's very slow. But with his sweeping and mercilessness, he's a monster.

"Blood Falcon's hardly any different. He doesn't have the same mechanics as my Blue Falcon, but he's close. The Hell Hawk is incredibly fast and strong, though its grip needs improvement. We should use these features for our advantage."

"The Black Bull's lack of speed, and the Hell Hawk's poor grip..." Tinsel recited. "This should be quite a difficult challenge."

"Of course, which is why I need your help, Tinsel."

She gasped, "Falcon...I haven't practiced in 13 years. I'm not sure I can do it."

"It's been so long, but I've seen you race before. You did well when you won second during the Knight League. You may be a novice, but I'm confident you'll make it through, especially since you survived in White Land."

"How about I just take on Blood Falcon, while you deal with Black Shadow. You seem to know him better than I do."

"Sounds good."

"What're the rest of us supposed to do?" Joey asked.

Tinsel briefly hesitated. "I...guess you two can stand by and prepare your monsters, and your Trap cards. Just in case if Black Shadow were to cause another accident."

"Alright, that's a great idea." Yugi nodded.

"I managed to save a couple spots for you two on the front bleachers. You should be fine."

"Thanks, Falcon." Joey said. "Yug and I would love to hammer these guys if we can."

"Attention all pilots, the Mute City race will begin very shortly. Return to your vehicles immediately." the male announcer called over the loudspeakers.

"I guess we should go." Tinsel said, as nervous as ever.

"Don't worry, Tinsel. You're with the unstoppable Grand Prix champion. I'm sure the both of you can win this." the spiky kid assured.

"Be careful, you two."

"Thanks, and good luck, guys." The two pilots grinned and gave them a salute.

As Mr. Zero proceeded to point out every opponent, everyone was accounted for. Falcon and Tinsel were prepared to face their toughest challenge yet.

A/N: This was actually the first time I've ever heard or even encountered Black Shadow. I never played F-Zero X, so I had no idea what to expect. Even I was put on edge, and curious, who and what Black Shadow and Blood Falcon were. And then, I read up on the Horrific Accident, which the game didn't really explain much. Little did I know it was a copy-paste from X's profiles; for the longest time, I really thought it took place during the events on X, not Fire Field from the original. Then, I learned a bit more about Black Shadow from GP Legend as I met Dark Million. I was really fascinated by this guy, and I still don't understand why no one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever even mentioned him on their Favorite Villains lists on YouTube! Why NOT?!

Well, at least Captain Falcon was able to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Now, it's off to the nefarious F-Zero Grand Prix. This is going to be good...

 

A/N: Another unbearable killjoy coming up. I've always hated Lap 7 in Story Mode, and it was one of those chapters I NEVER wanted to go back to. I could never stop thinking about that rant from Ephraim225 on how much HE hated it on Very Hard mode. I understand Blood Falcon and Black Shadow are supposed to be the main enemies, but their AI was just insane. I was just lucky to beat this one, and this was even BEFORE I found out about snaking; not to mention, I happen to be racing against the entire cast of characters of the original 30! Let's just get the damn misery over with...

Lap 7

The Duelists were preparing for the inevitable as they were shuffling their decks, putting their best monsters and Trap cards at the very top. Yami was on standby inside the Millennium Puzzle. And Falcon was giving Tinsel some last-minute advice on how to handle her Comet: Particularly how to knock her opponents using the swift side and spin attacks. This was actually a first for her, as she never seen those techniques 13 years ago. He also taught her how to use snaking, a secret move that allowed the machine to gain speed by rapidly sweeping from side to side using the drift buttons, and finally how to adjust her settings from a gradual increase in velocity to making it have maximum acceleration. Although, her settings had to be at their fullest if she wants to perform snaking, so she did.

Before they knew it, it was time for the pilots to get into their machines. Falcon and Tinsel wished each other luck and victory, then Mr. Zero pointed out the competitors.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the contestants! The high-flying medico, Dr. Stewart." Tinsel recognized him as one of her past opponents, using the Golden Fox. She remembered how tricky it was due to its cunning and high acceleration. The spiky brown-haired doc bowed to the audience.

"The hitman who flies at the speed of sound, Pico." Another one of her distant rivals. There was a bright green extraterrestrial who looked close to being a turtle as he entered his Wild Goose; she remembered the rumor he was from one of the most volatile planets, known as Death Wind.

"The Japanese warrior, Samurai Goroh." Surprisingly, there was no applause for him. Poor guy.

"Huh?" He looked around him in disbelief before he climbed into the Fire Stingray. Both Falcon and Tinsel were astounded how fast his vehicle got repaired. Then again, the hero didn't seem to be fazed by his archrival.

"The cyborg returns, Mighty Gazelle." This was one of the opponents Tinsel never saw before. According to Falcon, he was once human before he suffered from the Horrific Grand Finale. He entered a narrow ruby machine known as the Red Gazelle.

"The Emperor of Brutality, Black Shadow." The demon chuckled to himself as he waved against the booing crowd. Even Yugi and Joey got involved in their disgust with their thumbs down.

"The newbie back with a vengeance, Tinsel Steelus." She raised her arms in triumph as the announcer introduced her. There was very little greeting and she wondered that her reputation was really that minute. And finally, much to the evil being's dismay...

"And the bounty hunter, Captaaaain Falcooon!" He waved against the excited spectators as they gave him a standing ovation, held up their banners, and cheered as loud as a rocket's ignition.

According to the roster there was also the caped crusader, Super Arrow; his wife, Mrs. Arrow; the renowned animal hunter, Beastman; the muscular man who didn't explode by the Kuriboh, Michael Chain; the pilot in both F-Zero as well as fighter jets, James McCloud; John Tanaka fresh from his injuries; a pink giant known as Draq; his delivery partner, Roger Buster; Sterling LeVaughn, aka The Skull; and the black songstress, Kate Alen.

There, too, was the space pirate, Antonio Guster; the mechanical wiz, Dr. Clash; the nonagenarian, Silver Neelsen; the orphan and anthropomorphic from Planet Zou, Leon; the poverty-stricken cephalopod, Octoman; the crazy monkey, Billy; the punk rocker, Jack Levin; the primate from Giant, Baba; the Huckminer duo, Gomar and Shioh; Jody Summer who somehow got the White Cat back from the doomed power plant; the man-eating Tyrannosaurus, Bio Rex; the android, Mr. EAD; and of course Blood Falcon.

Tinsel and Falcon both knew this was going to be a hefty challenge. And Black Shadow was still as pompous as ever.
"Well, still alive it seems? But I won't miss the chance to make mincemeat of you." he laughed hysterically.

The elite's face grimaced, "Black Shadow! I'll show you. You'll never beat me!" His enemy descended into the cockpit.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Start your engines!" Every machine did, and the Black Bull was right behind the Blue Falcon, while the Hyper Speeder was beside them. The Silver Comet waited amongst the epicenter, and there were three small screens in front of the starting gates.

"3...2...1...GO!" They ascended as soon as the drivers raced out of the stadium, and met perpetual danger.

On the first stretch, there was a pit of lava to the right side of the course, then after a left curve there was some ice to the left and no guardrails next to it. Tinsel and Falcon had to be extra wary to prevent from falling off.

Then there was a jump, and more pits of lava met the racers. They had to be careful as the hot, oozing lava was able to drain the energy meters rapidly. They could also feel the heat beneath them as their machines made contact.

After a left curve, the road narrowed, then widened before the next left turn. It was a tight squeeze again and this time there were no guardrails; in addition, there was also a dash plate. At a slight right-hand curve, there was a risky speed boost, followed by even more lava. Tinsel and Falcon grew a bit agitated, thinking the entire course had been crapped on by some inept, sleeping volcano god.

Thankfully a massive rainbow pit area met the weary sportsmen. And finally there were a couple lava pools at the sides and landmines before the finish line. Some gave them an increase in speed when hit directly; regardless some damage was done.

By the second lap, everyone's Boosters were activated, and the real chaos began!

The Blue Falcon shown its opponents its moves as he constantly rammed into its rivals, using its attacks. The Comet saw the mayhem and Tinsel decided to mimic its skills. With their combined efforts, they were able to wipe out nearly half of their victims. The worst part was that somehow during the melee, the Hell Hawk and the Black Bull took the lead. And snaking was always risky for her, especially when there were so many obstacles in her way, or if there was a lack of guardrails.

Meanwhile, the Duelists were cheering them on. "Come on, Tinsel. You can do it!" Yugi encouraged.

"Give them everything you got, Falcon!" Joey shouted.

Little did the spectators and the racers knew was that the Curse of Dragon and Baby Dragon were soaring above the course, waiting to seize the big bads if another accident should occur.

While the Falcon and the Comet were gaining up, the Bull slammed into the bounty hunter, forcing it to grind against a guardrail. The Hell Hawk saw Tinsel and he began to wreak havoc. This wasn't good considering she had a weak body, and the clone was a level higher than hers; though their speed seemed to be the same, making them the perfect rivals for this deadly match.

The machines kept on struggling for survival, and they were fortunate the pit area saved them. Yet, the war was still raging, even during the final lap.

The Hell Hawk made another ditch effort and laid a direct assault on the Comet, causing Tinsel to lose top speed as she was in the danger zone. Using no relent, Blood Falcon attempted to knock her into any of the hazards. Finally, she was trapped against a wall, while her energy was draining at a rapid pace. Sparks and smoke were flying from her machine, and there was a sharp curve ahead. She slammed on the brakes before the clone made a side attack. It did give him a lead, but...

The sudden escape was nearly too much for him! The Hell Hawk went out of control as it lost friction, and due to its grip which was at the failing level. Tinsel was able to pass him, while he fell toward the back of the pack. However, she still had to exercise extreme caution as her stamina was so low.

On the front, Falcon and Black Shadow were still at each other's throats. And while the Falcon was technically faster than the Bull, its cornering and strength were still inferior. The nemesis attempted to eliminate him by either sending him into a lava pool or falling off, but it managed to stay on track, just barely.

The Comet eventually caught up toward the free-for-all and wanted to distract the demon. Thankfully, the pit area was available, but the last stretch was just ahead. Since the Comet was the lightest out of the bunch, she boosted and immediately got in front of the madman. He was furious that she was letting Captain Falcon steal the victory away from him. Just as he did numerous times before. So, in a desperate attempt, he clipped her at the side, making Tinsel spin out.

She lost control as she was spiraling a circumference per second! Yet, she was still ahead of him! Somehow she executed a spin attack while her machine was at its last legs, causing even the most destructive machine to crash!
Tinsel couldn't see where she was going as she was yelling bloody murder! But she did, however, cross the finish line after Falcon did. He drove passed the accident just before she hit the left side of the track, and the unbeatable champion emerged in first once again!

There was one of those miniature, gold flying cameras that suddenly flew in front of the Blue Falcon, recording its victory lap and crossed the finish line intact. It was so unbelievable that the gizmo wasn't destroyed by the Falcon's acceleration, though.

Each lifeform went berserk as they saw their hero take yet another title. However, Yugi and Joey were startled as they leapt down from their seats and onto the track. They ran to the Silver Comet, wondering if Tinsel was alright. The machine looked wrecked and she was moaning and holding her aching head.

"Tinsel!" Joey called as he headed to the Comet.

"Are you ok?" Yugi queried, close behind.

"I-I think so... I think I won second again..." she mumbled, her head was swimming. The tall guy offered to lend her a hand, and then he hoisted her up and out of the totaled cockpit. The bounty hunter checked the damage.

"Is she all right?"

"Yeah, Falcon. She's just a little banged up. She'll live." Joey assured.

She gave a weak smile as Falcon nodded his approval. Then, he marched toward the winner circle.

"Our champion, Captain Falcon!" Mr. Zero announced.

The enormous, flat plasma screen was showing huge, decorative font of the new victor. Falcon walked up a pedestal in the distant corner.

"The F-Zero Committee will now present the champion's prize belt." There was a wide, golden belt with a ruby, translucent center. There was also a pair of wings attached to the eye. Captain Falcon grabbed it and raised it in triumph to show the exhilarated audience what he earned.

The trio grinned for his success, as they congratulated themselves for a job well done. Both Falcon and Tinsel foiled Black Shadow's and Blood Falcon's plot, now they wondered how they're going to retaliate. She then received the prize money of 200,000 space credits, all in cash. Suddenly, the Millennium Puzzle ignited, and Yami's voice boomed. Yugi immediately looked down at it. "I sense a great evil presence here. He's very close, and I believe he's even more powerful than Black Shadow; stay alert!"

They observed a dazed demon that collapsed on all fours. "What the..?"

"But...there's only him." Yugi said.

"No, Yugi. There IS someone else most sinister. Look!"

Everyone, including the audience and the losers, saw a portal appear in a deep purple. There was a cyborg about 12 feet tall. He donned on violet and elaborate armor, as well as a massive crimson cape. A large brain encased on top of a blanch, metallic face shown.
 

Meanwhile, Tinsel saw two despondent pilots; one was coyote-like, the other was the red octopus. Minutes prior to the race, she looked up each of the drivers and their corresponding machines. And the two in question, Leon and Octoman respectively, caught her interest. She saw them crushed in defeat.

Octoman was a cephalopod from Takora. His people were driven into war and poverty, and his kind was also being harassed by the Galactic Federation in reasons she didn't quite understand. Using her prize money, half of her 200,000 space credits, she walked up to the Deep Claw. The driver looked up and saw her hand over the cash.

"But why..?" he said, perplexed, in a voice covered in water.

"Just because I won second doesn't mean I shouldn't share my earnings with you." Tinsel replied with a small smile. "I've heard about your plight, Octoman; I looked into it before the race even started. I just want you to accept my offer. To help you restore your world and your unique kind." She snickered, "Hard to believe that an animal is capable of racing, especially if one should have two legs and six arms. Incredible."

After a brief moment, the troubled fish took the bait. He was almost tearing up as he hid his leaking, inky eyes with a tentacle. "Thank you... I can't tell you how much this means to me..." Octoman sniffed, and soon she went toward Leon before his Space Angler.

"Hey."

The wolf's ears perked up. "Oh, hi, sum."

"Look, I gotta make this quick, but I want to make an offering to you; I've heard your home world is in great poverty right now."

When Leon was still a pup, he lost his parents and became an orphan during some intergalactic war in Zou. It was rumored that the Arrow couple took him in for awhile, and the dog was determined to enter the F-Zero X race, much like the aforementioned Octoman. He hopes to restore funding to his planet and help the kids in need. He, himself, was a head of an orphanage and a supporter to many youngsters. Alas, he wasn't successful. So instead, Tinsel offered her remaining share to him. Leon's face beamed with happiness.

"Tinsel... This really means a lot to me. I'd be more than happy to use this for the kids; that's all that matters. Thank you..." He licked her face like any other tame canine. Then they both saw the chaos simultaneously.
 

The stranger in a vehement, mechanical tone spoke, "Black Shadow! You failed AGAIN! You-good-for-nothing..." He spread out his left arm and he revealed a saber made of potent energy. Suddenly, Black Shadow was covered in electricity, matching the shade of the portal. He was screaming in brutal agony and holding out a hand.

"NOOO! Forgive me, Lord Death! AAARGH!" His body dissipated in the middle of the stadium, putting all the onlookers in a state of panic. Except for his colleague, Blood Falcon, who clenched his fist vowing for revenge.

"Ju...just who are you?" Falcon pointed toward the unknown entity. At least he still had the courage to stand up to him.
"I am Deathborn, the Grand Prix Champion of the Underworld. Why don't you and I race each other tomorrow? Surely as champion, you have to accept." The portal and himself shrunk to an infinitesimal size, then burst like a popped bubble. Everyone was utterly shocked at what they just saw!

"The Champion of the Underworld..?" Yugi said in awe.

"This sounds even WORSE than Marik from the Shadow Realm." Joey added.

"I don't think Falcon would ever have a chance." Tinsel was in complete fear and doubt as she treaded back, her feet almost draggng the asphalt. She even wondered how would she get back to a hotel and settle for the night before they head back to Domino City.

They were so preoccupied that they hardly noticed Falcon beside them. "Tinsel? Duelists?"

Everyone turned their attention.

"I must defeat Deathborn tomorrow. There isn't much time to prepare for his challenge. And I hardly know him. Except...the Galaxy Police pieced together that he was the true culprit of the Horrific Accident."

The threesome gasped and muttered to themselves.

"Does that mean...you'll have to face him alone?" Yugi asked.

He responded stoically, "Yes. I'm afraid so. Why don't you three stay at my stronghold in Port Town. I'll tow the Comet to the repair shop where Dr. Clash runs his business. You're more than welcome, and you must stay there until I get back from his death race. In case Blood Falcon should take advantage of the situation."

"Blood Falcon?" they said in unison; they had not an iota he could have his way against his original. Then again, it's possible since he was the one who defeated his master and forced him into oblivion.

Even with the visor, they could tell Falcon was emanating some seriousness as he made them promise to obey him and never question him later.

The tense atmosphere managed to lighten a little as Falcon, Yugi, and Joey complimented Tinsel on how she was willing to share her profits to help the less fortunate. And she actually wished to see them again someday, if the next Grand Prix should begin. Frankly, from this point on, she'd welcome the event with open arms, reviving her career as a F-Zero racer.
 

That night Falcon led his followers inside the fortress Tinsel saw earlier. There was a door etched with a silvery bird of prey on the titanium. It was almost built like his own bomb shelter. The scanner read over the bounty hunter's face and it allowed entry. He came across another door in which he entered a code on the control pad to the left. Finally, he urged the trio inside.

A chamber with white walls was a bit blinding for their eyes. When they readjusted, they saw a room filled with a colossal motherboard, and a ledge in the center that had a spaceship. It was covered in goldenrod, its wings were a dirty green, and the nose was flat. Falcon described it as the Falcon Flyer, which was used in space via remote control to track down bounties across the universe. He also summarized his home as a safe haven from his enemies, and he always rushes back after collecting his winnings. Their voices ricocheted off the spacious area, and the bounty hunter said there were also some islands he practiced on during his free time, to keep him up to speed before the next race; he'd been doing this since the seven-year suspension began.

The trio couldn't put their stunned expressions into words, nor could they think that Falcon was willing to show them his private turf personally. Nonetheless, they were all worried about Falcon's fate the next day, and everyone had a rough night's sleep. The captain most of all with his insomnia. They were all at a dark room that was enamored with heavy air pressure, and within comfortable, warm sleeping bags their bodies were floating around in. Their minds were all over the place, thinking that their newfound friend won't be coming back alive.

A/N: All those techniques that Falcon shown Tinsel, like the spin/side attacks, snaking, and adjusting the machine settings before each race was never shown in the original. All those things, but snaking, were introduced on F-Zero X, which I never played before. It was a huge jump in the series as I got into the original first, then a huge hop into Maximum Velocity, and finally GX. And GX introduced me to these things; though snaking I hadn't used personally as I'd just saw Ephraim225's LP during Chapter 7. And of course, the rant is there, too, which was hysterical and relatable.

Yet again, Zoda had to be replaced, particularly by Tinsel, for obvious reasons. He won't be incorporated into the stories until a year after GX when Rick wakes up from cold sleep; just to keep things time-relevant. Don't ask me how or why Jody's Wild Cat is in the Grand Prix when it just got obliterated from the power plant in Lightning. Ergh, having the original 30 racers isn't really a smart idea. 

First Black Shadow and now Deathborn. How would Falcon overcome the new adversary? Find out next time.

 

 

A/N: Oh, man. This was a doozy. Making the course with Deathborn and Falcon, how Tinsel and the Duelists were gonna get there. Even describing Fire Field and the upcoming monster. Although, I feel that Chapter 8, from the game, would've been much more better polished; it kind of bothers me that anyone could win the Championship Belt and yet have that same secret. You'll see what I mean.

Lap 8

The day finally arrived. Falcon was on his way to the turf that the mysterious and deadly Deathborn assigned him in. He had to leave around the crack of dawn, putting his comrades in a state of shock and upset. Tinsel, Yugi, and Joey were never told where the challenge, nor the path to the Underworld was. The trio were stranded without the Silver Comet, and the only way out of Port Town was by a warp gate like any other planet they've been to.

"We have to get back to Mute City somehow. I was only able to travel with the Comet, and now it's stuck in Dr. Clash's repair shop." she said. Her mind was going all over the place, trying to find another way out.

"Falcon would get very cross if we were to leave here." Yugi stated, as reasonable as usual. Yet, she and Joey weren't buying it.

"Well, I'm not just gonna sit around and do nothing about it." he retorted. "There has to be a way to get your car back."

Tinsel laid a finger beneath her chin, "I'll see if I can boot up the computer."

After some playing around on the massive motherboard, she eventually wound up at a display of the whole galaxy.
There were numerous planets, including the original eight, and the worlds they'd visited. In addition, there were some planets they've yet to explore such as Sand Ocean, Tortiz 3, Zou, Giant, Silence, and even the red orb. She zoomed in, and the internal data showed it was named Fire Field. She and the card duelers were astounded as they recalled the bounty hunter's description of the place. They figured it was the perfect representation of Hell itself, perhaps where Deathborn was biding his time. They also saw a blinking spec heading toward it.

"Is that...the Blue Falcon?" Yugi queried.

"I guess so." Tinsel was just as clueless as her friends were.

"Then, that's where we'll go!" Joey pointed.

The two gasped. "Are you serious, Joey?"

"I'm positive, Yug. Falcon's gonna have a dance with Deathborn there, I know it. I say that if he loses against him, we'll get involved, too."

"But...won't we die trying?"

"Of course. But I'm not backing down. We've dealt with death on numerous occasions, especially when we dueled against Marik, or when we rescued Kaiba in the Virtual World, or when we got you out of the Millennium Puzzle while Yami was facing the Pyramid of Light. So, with the universe at stake, why stop now?"

"Falcon told us to stay here, remember?"

Joey gave an irritating sigh. "Do we always have to do what we're told..?" Everyone turned silent, thinking this through. Then, Tinsel spoke, "I agree with Joey here. What choice do we have? Besides, Falcon is the champion and he saves astronomical lifeforms from danger; no different than us, except you two are duelists instead of racers. I hate to admit it, but you guys and Falcon are like the best of what you can do, unchallenged. You're professionals! We just need to find a way back to Earth and go there." she pointed toward the crimson planet bleeding with magma like the thickest blood. "Falcon may not make it out alive, so it's up to us. Who's with me?"

"I'm in!" Joey walked over and laid a hand on top of hers. Then Yugi laid his hand reluctantly, although the Millennium Puzzle ignited.

"You should go, Yugi." His mentor, Yami, considered otherwise. "There's no telling if Falcon can beat Deathborn in his own game. He needs all the help he can get. And if he loses, then we will strike." He gave a weak smile and he nodded. The pact became official.

They left the fortress behind and walked out of the alleyway. All they could do was look around and ask how to get back to Earth. One of the locals said there's an interplanetary bus service that could take them to any planet, with a fee, that is. Tinsel was so relieved that she could finally use her bus ticket in her pocket. She had this since she started her career as a F-Zero pilot, but never used it. When her license was updated before she headed to Battle City, so was the ticket itself. And with the currency the Duelists earned from their match here, it was more than enough.

The kind locale pointed to a warp gate and there was a highway leading up into the exosphere. Thousands of vehicles of all sorts were driving through it! He said they'll catch the next shuttle if they should hurry. They only had a half hour to go. The threesome thanked him and they were off to the checking station.

Tinsel presented the shuttle driver her ticket and the Duelists paid the fare. They awaited for their destination as the long, limousine-like vehicle went off at light speed toward the deep reaches of space. Earth was light years ahead, yet it took only minutes to get there; they were lucky it was the second stop on its hefty schedule.

Finally, they made it to Mute City. Tinsel retrieved her ticket and they walked toward Dr. Clash's workshop. She remembered the location well since this was where the Silver Comet was waiting for her 13 years ago. She was downright certain it was sitting in the garage now as well.

She was fortunate they saw the mechanical genius at work. She led the way inside the rusty building. Through the glass door, they heard a noise coming from a drill. Sparks were coming from beneath the Crazy Bear. She thought Clash would be working on upgrades for it since he lost the race last night.

She tried to speak over the screeching noise. "Hey, Clash! It's me, Tinsel. I wanted to come here to get my machine, the Silver Comet!" The drill died down and Tinsel stammered on her words. "Hey, Cla-oh."

The old-timer emerged on a long wooden dolly. "What do you want?" he replied in a gruff tone. "I'm too overworked for repairs on other machines. Come back tomorrow."

"No, Clash, I'm only here to retrieve MY machine. Is it still in the garage?"

"Yes it is. Now hurry and skedaddle. I got a lot of upgrades to make on my Crazy Bear since I'd lost to Falcon, again!" He mumbled underneath his breath as he grabbed a monkey wrench, "I swear I can't always live like this... I'm not gonna make a crap load of cash losing every Grand Prix and working behind the counter at that stingy bar..."

"Um, thanks." she tiptoed away, and the Duelists followed her to the cool garage. The temperature nearly made her shiver; it undoubtedly had a lot of shade, and no windows. Sure enough there it was. The Silver Comet as good as new. No dents, scratches, or fenders were seen on its lustrous exterior nor interior. She knew she could always count on him for his upmost expertise as a mechanic.

With a whiff of ozone, it was off to the warp gate to Fire Field following the GPS signal. It was fortunate that Yugi's Winged Guardian of the Fortress was able to withstand the heat and lift the machine to a sharp, rocky isle located at the middle of the endless lava.
 

Meanwhile, Falcon drove through a cave and passed a sign that said "BLOCKABLE AREA!" in bold print. On his way, he saw two massive columns. And at the center, there was a large skull with the bottom-half of its face dropping toward the ground. The doors permitted him to enter and he swore he could've heard people screaming as they did. The light temporarily blinded him and he knew he was in serious, deadly business when he observed a course with spikes protruding from it. The heat was intense, much like the surrounding area. And then there was Deathborn, casually waiting for him next to his own machine. It was a dark violet, had a narrow, curved head, and a few spikes that were meant to pierce through anyone who provoked him. Nevertheless, the hero kept his cool as he exited the cockpit.
He was holding his own prize belt, which looked shockingly similar to Falcon's. He figured it was a coincidence, but he immediately shrugged it off. In the same unnatural tone, Deathborn spoke. "I've been waiting for you. Did you bring the champion's belt?"

He nodded and showed his lethal enemy his own by his side.

"Good."

Just then, the two belts soared into the air and began to spiral together faster than the speed of light. To Falcon, it was almost mesmerizing.

"Falcon, shall I tell you something before you die?" he snapped him out of his daze. "Dark and Light - the two great forces which make up our universe. These two universal forces are condensed within each of our belts. Didn't you know?"

The green light where the belts were circling grew brighter. Although this puzzled Falcon since it was likely that ANYONE could get that prize belt if they wanted to. What could be worth the risk?! Still, Deathborn continued.

"At the moment when the two forces become one, it is possible to seize that power. Then, I can turn this whole galaxy into a pile of ashes in an INSTANT!"

That. Was. Not. Good. He knew he had to stop him and win the death race at all costs. He's like ten times worse than Black Shadow and Blood Falcon combined! He was clearly a megalomaniacal bastard that means to die, before the universe could get utterly annihilated.

He climbed into his vehicle, very confident that his dream would be realized once he's done with him. It was almost like he was moaning as he spoke with orgasmic glee, "How I've waited for this moment. The world will fall...into total darkness..!"

He stepped up to the plate and challenged him on, "Not if I can help it. I'll destroy you yet!" He leapt into his own vehicle and crammed it up. "Let's go!"

On the runway the race began like normal; somehow Deathborn obtained similar ideas to start a race, like the F-Zero Committee did in the overworld. There was a light shower, only it was embers instead of raindrops. Out of sight and out of mind, the trio observed as Falcon cheated death multiple times. They knew he wouldn't last for long, so they did the unthinkable as Yugi volunteered to summon...the Blue-Eyes White Dragon! A bluish serpent with hints of grey emerged onto the battlefield. It was bi-pedal and had a pair of arms, large claws and maw, and an elongated tail and massive wings. It made its signature roar and they all watched the mayhem unfold.

The Blue Falcon and the Dark Schnieder were neck-to-neck and Falcon performed a side attack. It was completely ineffective and he did the same. Luckily, there was a speed boost just seconds before. He had to watch his acceleration, though, as there was a sharp right turn.

There were also some landmines which were very prominent throughout the course. Thankfully, there was a pit area that met the clashing duo. After a few tricky curves they met more mines, and a second pit area, yet the Schnieder was actually taking the lead. Orange steam met the lagging Falcon which meant there was lava ahead. The pools were quick as they went under the machine, but it was NOT painless, as its energy was drained by a quarter, putting him in even more danger.

There was a left turn which he drifted from, then a sharp, wider curve to the right. He hardly crashed into the wall, and yet Deathborn was still ahead. Another pit area, albeit shorter, met him, then there was another minefield before a hair-pinned left turn. After one last rainbow strip that was shorter than the rest, there was the finish line.

By the second lap, Falcon used his Booster to catch up to the monster who was still miles away. He had a bad feeling that he might not win his life-threatening competition, after all. His sudden desperation caused him to get a little careless as he bounced along the course and hit more obstacles. At least the several pit areas gave him a fair challenge.

Yugi drew out two more cards of the same creature, and with their combined presence, the threesome merged into a ginormous serpent with three heads! It was known as the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, standing by for an attack!

The captain kept on snaking until he saw the Schnieder by the third restoration point. He tried to do everything to slow him down, from side to spin attacks. And Deathborn masterfully dodged the onslaughts as if he was just a pesky little gnat.

With a few well-timed boosts, Falcon managed to get ahead of him. He wasn't entirely safe as he felt the heat on his crosshairs while Deathborn was speeding up as insanely fast as humanly possible. They kept trading leads off of each other. And they kept on their aggressive duel as they tried to swipe the other driver.

At times, he was very low on health, causing his stress level to skyrocket with Death literally on his tail. At the final lap, Falcon gave everything that the man and machine could handle, and then some. As did Deathborn and the Dark Schnieder.

It was finally time for the Light creature to reveal its most powerful form that could even rival the Egyptian Gods. Yugi Moto saw this when Kaiba and Yami were dealing with the Pyramid of Light. He made a sacrifice as he dismissed the potent monster, but it wasn't gone. The aura shaped itself from the three-headed mythical creature to another that took its place. The body shimmered like crystal; even its maw was bright as day could be. It was the holy final form of the Duel Monster, the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon! It sneered as it awaited its command to wreck the satanic Schnieder to pieces!

It barely missed Falcon as he did a spin attack, and Falcon's attempt was futile to say the least. He accelerated passed Deathborn, hit a wall which gave the enemy the advantage, and then boosted like a crazed mental patient. His stamina was at the critical level as he kept on usurping it. He ran over the smallest pit area on the circuit and the Shining Dragon was rearing its head back, building energy for his next move. Then...

With grace by his side, Falcon actually crossed the goal first!

Through his agony and frustration, Deathborn shouted over clenched teeth, "AAaarrggh! No, it can't be! How could I lose!" The dragon made its mark using its Shining Nova! "Nooooo!" The sacred beam made contact, forcing him to plummet. At long last, the nemesis was obliterated as he fell into the magma just a few feet below the track, churning into a petite pile of cinders himself, ironically. He was no more when he sank into the depths.

Falcon exited his vehicle and entered the runway where the belts were circling above. He found a pedestal to the side, and the area illuminated, revealing a much larger, glorious belt as the two halves merged! Falcon could've called it the Ultimate Champion's Belt. It descended and floated toward him. It was a miraculous fit as it fastened around his waist and glowed.

"The evil forces will never get their hands on this belt!" He raised his arms to the heavens. "I'll keep winning!" He hardly knew Tinsel, Yugi, and Joey were cheering for him as they ran up to him. He wasn't the least bit miffed from the fact they'd blatantly disobeyed him. He didn't even notice the commotion as they used their special weapon as a desperate effort to help him vanquish Deathborn for good.

Together, the quartet made the journey back to Port Town with Falcon leading the way. They wholeheartedly discussed the breathtaking, soul-shifting showdown while they headed home.

A/N: Whew. Glad that's out of the way. One more chapter to go. I should thank Siontix for the input on adding Fire Field as the whereabouts for the setting of the chapter. He said himself that the story to GX was crap, and he actually thought the scenarios from the anime were better as it wasn't just focused on just one particular character. I can't agree more, Siontix. After all, I heard from the LP that the coding for this area was labelled as Fire Field.

Also I believe the original theme for Fire Field should play where Yugi, Joey, and Tinsel head to the pathway to the Underworld.

As for the idea with the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, let me just say that even though I despise Seito Kaiba, I love all forms of Blue-Eyes. From its simple form, the White Dragon, to the merger with three of them as the Ultimate Dragon, and lastly its magnum opus, the Shining Dragon. When I got to the eighth chapter by sheer luck, I came across the Yu-Gi-Oh movie in theaters. And I happened to have the Shining Dragon card; I thought it was one of the best, magnificent monsters I've ever seen since the mighty mergence of the Supreme Dragon Master Knight! And its Shining Nova was no exception, even though I hadn't used it since Falcon won over Deathborn by a hair. Unfortunately, like everything else, I had to give it up; lousy growing pains.

Only one more Lap to complete. Although, I strongly concur that this chapter alone should've been the end of it. But no, the developers had to throw in a curveball. Ergh, hopefully I'll get this over with as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

 

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TheIkranRider

/N: Finally. The last chapter is up! Again, like many other F-Zero projects, I can't thank my collaborators enough for this. Although this isn't as deep as "Ending it All," they really helped me thru whenever I reached a roadblock. Especially on the previous Lap. This one, however, isn't really as thrilling, it's very anticlimactic. I should also give out a warning that this chapter could contain massive spoilers to the GX game. If you still want to read on, be my guest. Let's end this fic once and for all, and hope for a more well-developed story if the series should progress.

Final Lap!

Tinsel, Falcon, and the Duelists have arrived safely to his fortress in Port Town. They were relieved that Blood Falcon hasn't made a move on them yet; the trio could've sworn that he may know access to his stronghold, but he assured them he had increased some of the safety protocols on it. He'd never allow anyone inside, nor reveal the location. Except for the threesome as long as they promised to keep the secrets to themselves.

Still, Tinsel was very anxious about the captain's welfare. She kept on saying to him that he needed allies to watch his back, as he can't possibly defend himself and other racers from potential harm, even if it was from his own rivals. One person simply couldn't hold his own forever in the face of adversity.

The team wanted to make some contacts with him in case he'll be too busy while going away searching for bounty, or preparing for the next F-Zero competition, or just helping out someone in need. Although she was reluctant since she had a strong feeling he was pretty much a loner. Teamwork may have been a wise decision, but it just wasn't in his nature, regretfully.

They visited Falcon's turf for the last time, wondering what to do with the Ultimate Championship Belt he obtained. Yugi found a bright-red display cushion, and he and Falcon both assembled the decor onto the wall. It looked magnificent, hanging just beside the motherboard and the Televid. The quartet couldn't be anymore prouder, not even Yami safe inside the Millennium Puzzle. They hung out for a few more hours before it was time to leave, and they were discussing their plans for the future. Until...

"Falcon! Hahahaha."

Everyone heard a voice echoing from the blanch walls. They all looked around, wondering what the unusual voice belonged to. Suddenly, they saw three streams of translucence fly sporadically. They each came from the belt, and then return into it, mocking Falcon all the way.

"Look, I'm over here, Falcon. Hahahaha!" Another one of the bunch snickered, doing the same thing.

Having quite enough, Falcon asked in earnest, "Who are you!?"

Inside the jewel of the belt, everyone saw three apparitions. One of the specters appeared and said, "We are the Creator..."

"What are you talking about?" He stepped closer to it.

"We created the whole world." one to the left said.

"What a surprise you'd beat Deathborn, our best creation." one to the right stated.

"Your best creation..?" Falcon was confused about this, as were Tinsel and the Duelists. The three spirits giggled again. And at that moment, it suddenly hit the bounty hunter like a collision by the Black Bull going at full speed.

"So it was you who set up everything... But why?"

"To tell you the truth, there are no universal forces." one clad in blue said.

"What!?" That made Falcon's fists clench very tightly with all that nonsense.

"Now you have become the champion of the two Grand Prixes." One of the phantoms stated.

"And we'll take out your soul from your body, and turn into our creation." added a second one.

Joey was infuriated! He ran up toward the belt in front of Falcon and shouted to the group, "You're all talk! But you can't walk the walk! Right, Red-Eyes?!" He drew it from his deck.

"We'll defend him to the very end, won't we, Dark Magician!?" Yugi summoned his signature Darkness monster.

"We may not be as good as Falcon, but we can protect him in conjunction with my Blue-Eyes White Dragon!" Tinsel countered with her creature, whom she once borrowed from Yugi.

"You don't stand a chance. His soul belongs to us. And we'll be able to take yours with his when he loses." The three nuisances said one at a time.

Then, as the scenery changed to a psychedelic background, the trio was dragged down inside their own corresponding cards, leaving their monsters inactive and hapless! They each materialized in an encased area. There was a huge window in the front, looking out at the bewildered bounty hunter. It was very claustrophobic, and they kept bashing the wall, but to no avail. It was enough noise for Falcon to hear their desperate cries for help!

The three spirits burst out of the belt, and one of them chuckled, "Are you ready? Hohohoho..."

They all encircled in the air, and their bodies intertwined and formed a translucent replica of the Blue Falcon. This was a more threatening doppelganger than Falcon's vengeful clone! How in the universe could he possibly beat his own unstoppable machine?!

Never discouraged nor frightened, Falcon challenged them. "Come off it! You think you can beat me!? No way!" He leapt into his original vehicle which was hovering, cranked up the engine, and took off against his own copy as soon as the starting line gave the signal.

They were racing on a tubular course with no guardrails or laser walls. Sometimes the environment kept changing shades, and it almost looked as if the technicolor circuit was blending into its surroundings, confusing the ultimate champion. There was also some red lasers that could've been distracting to the eye. There were some slight curves that were easy to manage, but at times he was caught off guard by the hair-pinned turns that he had to drift through. At first he took it slowly, desperately not falling off the track which seemed almost impossible to survive in. The Staff Ghost's vehicle, however, went seamlessly passed Falcon, but little did they know, he was just warming up.

There was a steep incline that was leaning toward the left, and then there were a few jumps which put him in more danger as he gained more velocity while in the air for brief moments. He made some hard left turns and then there was an easy straightaway with the only pit area which was right before the finish line.

Falcon's Booster was activated, and on every narrow stretch, he used it until his energy depleted to a single ounce. Despite the irritating alarm inside his vehicle, he had to concentrate on not falling off. The ghosts were behind him, but by only about a mile. He can't slow down as much as he did last lap. At the incline, he just barely fell off, but he hung on by the skin of his teeth! It was smooth sailing until he reached the goal for the final lap!

Going on the straight path, Falcon saw the staff ghost catch up; he was so lucky he couldn't actually touch it, even when his machine was on its last legs. He boosted like a damn madman, trying to keep his lead. This was literally not only his own soul on the line, but also his friends' lives, as well. By a sheer iota of luck by his side, the long nose of HIS Blue Falcon reached the finish line, beating the Staff Ghosts' creation just by a measly hair!

They separated back into the apparitions again. And this time they phased out of existence screaming, "NOOOOO!" The cerulean hovercar emerged victorious and in one piece! It looked as if it was actually shining with heaven's light. Then, Falcon was back inside his fortress. It almost looked as if he just been through a surreal nightmare since his craft never moved from its perch! Neither did the Ultimate Championship Belt!

He immediately got out and looked down at the cards sprawled on the floor. Then, as soon as he was about to pick one up, they brightened. The light was blinding, and by the time his sight cleared, he saw his comrades safe and sound! They were bewildered, looking at their bodies.

"A-are we..?" Tinsel barely had any words to say.

"We're alive? The creators didn't take our souls?" Joey whispered.

"I-I guess not..." Yugi replied.

They all looked up and saw their hero without having a scratch, nor a change in his features. "I guess we really owe you one, don't we?" the teen said.

They thought they'd never get out and see the light of day again. Yet, there they were, and Falcon was his normal self. Without thinking, and incredibly grateful, they each embraced him. Wanting to relieve from the trippy experience, the trio eventually went outside and gave a heartfelt farewell to their new ally. He gave them permission to visit his fortress anytime as long as he's there and if they kept their promise.

As soon as they were exposed to the fresh air, Joey took a deep sigh, "Finally, we're done."

"Hey, it wasn't too bad." Yugi said.

"It could've been far, far worse." Tinsel chimed. "But yeah, now that it's just the three of us. We can actually relax for a while. We deserve a break from all this mess."

They couldn't agree more, and they headed to the Silver Comet, and drove off for their next adventure. Heck, Yugi was so fascinated from the events, that he might even develop his own game that'll relive their experiences, if he follows his dreams as a game designer.
 

Meanwhile, Falcon watched his friends leave. He was so glad that he managed to make it out in one piece, never letting the Creators, or Deathborn, or Black Shadow have their way. Once again, he saved the universe, and he started to reconsider on what Tinsel said about having camaraderie and teamwork.

With no one around, he took off his helmet and laid it on a side table beside his vehicle. He then walked outside, reliving everything that transpired over the past few days in his mind. For what it's worth, Falcon couldn't wait to retell the tale; it could even make history, or perhaps a legend. He looked up at the full moon, wondering if there should be a brighter future for him. And perhaps, someone with a pure heart that'll one day share his own journeys.
This was truly an event that'll follow many stories to come.

One Year Later...

After Tinsel practiced on the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald cups, a mysterious young man from the past woke up from cold sleep. He had short, brown hair and had actually been in suspended hibernation for the last century and a half. He just emerged into a brand new world at a much different time that was too foreign for him. Little did he know, that this could be the start of his own future. As, too, the story of a Grand Prix Legend...

A/N: There's also a story from Luke "Yoshi's Best Pal" Lynch, which did a retelling of GX's Story Mode, named "Bounty Hunter Tales: Captain Falcon." It's short, but pretty good.

At last, the fic is complete. It probably was a cheesy idea, and it was something I came up with before GP Legend existed. Hopefully, this could be a foreshadowing of what's ahead, even though the latter is set four centuries before. 

Hope you like this short story.

 

 

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TheIkranRider

Here's the second installment in the timeline, The Samurai Returns.

The Samurai Returns

Disclaimer: I don't own F-Zero; the anime goes to TVTokyo, 4Kids, etc, and the series belongs to Nintendo. I own my OC, Tinsel Steelus.

A/N: This oneshot is ripped off from the fourth Lap in the anime, though it was definitely the first to me. This one episode alone has introduced me to one of the most underappreciated installments in the franchise, and to my favorite pilot ever. Enjoy, as Tinsel ventures into Cryton and goes on a life-altering mission.


A young female in a lustrous machine had just left a diner complex known as the Falcon House after a hearty breakfast. Wearing a gleaming outfit, she was Tinsel Steelus, the pilot of the Silver Comet. As she was driving back to her apartment through the busy streets, something was wrong.

The prototype vehicle was known for its reputation. It was once built by Dr. Clash thirteen years ago. He designed it just before the start of the first official F-Zero Grand Prix. In its prime, it was known to have the allusion of the celestial body while cruising through the tracks. Yet, Tinsel's steering became stiff and difficult to maneuver. Then, a hint of fuel caught her nostrils.

Alarmed, thinking it was a leak, she cut in the middle of the road as she made a desperate U-turn; she never cared of the oncoming cars honking and swearing at her jaywalking. Tinsel was finally able to make a safe pit stop back where she started. She was relieved she didn't have to make a lot of sharp turns, excepting her risky attempt.

She killed the engine and ran into the entrance. Jingles greeted her as soon as she burst in. Burt was just as surprised as she was, "Hey, Tinsel. What're you doing back so quickly?"

She caught her breath, "Burt... Something's wrong with the Silver Comet. I had a hard time steering it; it seems to be on the fritz. Could you help me out?"

With a grin, he nodded. "Sure, Tinsel. Just as soon as I'm done serving this customer. This is Rick Wheeler. He's a F-Zero pilot who rides the Dragon Bird."

He mentioned a man who looked to be in his twenties, sitting on a stool across from him. He had short, brown hair and wore a denim jacket. Tinsel was in stunned silence, as if the cat got her tongue. She just stared at him, barely making a word.

"Rick, this is Tinsel Steelus. She's also a F-Zero racer who drives the Silver Comet."

He was astounded to meet another competitor and faced her with a smile. "Nice to meet you, Tinsel." He reached out a hand, but she refused to take it.

"U-uhh..." She backed away a few inches. She'd never heard of him, nor his machine. Rick Wheeler? The Dragon Bird? This must be a newcomer.

He looked into her blank face, "You okay? What's wrong? I don't bite."

"She's probably shy, she's never heard of you before." Burt explained. He put down the sweet coffee mug and started out. "Alright, Tinsel, let's take a look."

She reluctantly nodded, relieved for once not to get involved with a total stranger. Rick seemed like an ordinary guy. Who knows whether or not he could be dangerous? She couldn't trust just about anyone. Rick watched them leave, he really did want to meet this gentle woman. There weren't a lot of drivers from the opposite sex nowadays, nor during his time. She didn't seem like a threat, let alone belong to Dark Million.

So, Burt made some tune ups on the Silver Comet. The Check Engine light was on in a neon blue. "When was the last time you audited your engine, Tinsel?"

She rubbed her neck in embarrassment, "Um, I think it was before I participated in the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald Cups. So...I guess over a year, I think." Tinsel was also hoping to look for Dr. Clash, but she hasn't seen him around, not even in his workshop.

Burt worked his magic for a good long hour, like a doctor performing surgery on a patient. He was very efficient; he didn't even get soiled as he unscrewed and emptied the fluid from the chute at the underside. Eventually, new oil, fuel, and steering liquid was put into the Comet and everything was locked up tight.

"Try it now, Tinsel."

She climbed inside the cockpit and started her up. Thanks to fresh Liquid O2, the Comet let out a sudden chilling breeze like a new air conditioner was replaced. "Whoa, this is nice." The Comet was known to be cool both inside and out, and it was completely resistant to intense heat. "Now, let's give it a test run."

She drove it around the lot a few times, and she noticed the acceleration was twice as fast, and her steering was easier to control. Little did she know that Rick watched her, fascinated with the glimmering gizmo. By the time it stopped, his mind immediately switched gears. As soon as he was done with his hot beverage, he gave Burt the fare plus tip, and headed his way to the Dragon Bird. When the duo returned, Rick was already gone. His destination was to Planet Cryton and he discreetly took an alleyway to Warp Gate 16.

"Huh, I guess he left. He must be on his way to Planet Cryton." the server said, picking up the cash.

"Planet Cryton? Where's that?" Tinsel asked.

He said that it was the place where Red Canyon was located. That made Tinsel cringe; she has visited there twice, each time was a close call for her. Once was 13 years ago during the second round known as the Queen League, another time was one year prior when she and her Duelist friends, Yugi and Joey, were following the mysterious pilot named Captain Falcon. She knew from the get-go this was bad news, as she remembered this was the desert hideout of the vicious Samurai Goroh and his lethal band of space pirates.

"Rick heard of an incident when a space transport was being sabotaged. He'll never forget his name, Samurai Goroh, and his thugs have stolen some rare items, including medicine for many sick kids. That was his main objective, and he didn't want to tell anyone except Lucy since Cryton is known to be off-limits. It's no wonder since it's one of the most dangerous F-Zero venues."

"Ooh." Tinsel's heart started to race. "I sure hope he makes it back safely. Goroh and his gang don't mess around."

"I hope so, too, Tinsel. He's only there to save the children. We could only pray for all their sakes. He's a very courageous young man."
 

Later on, Tinsel just couldn't get Rick out of her mind. Burt really seemed to warm up to him, like as a father figure would. He said he had a promise to keep to retrieve the medicine from Goroh's clutches, but she knew that one man couldn't possibly stand up against him. She doubted he knew who he was dealing with and she kept racking her brain until it felt like it was about to splatter like a tomato. Irritated and curious, Tinsel powered up her Comet and set the GPS. She followed the directions toward the same warp gate Rick took, and she emerged into the scorching heat almost instantly.

The sun was setting and she had to find a safe haven to camp for the night. She let out a frustrated sigh, blaming herself for waiting too long and venturing at such a dangerous time. Burt told her that the medicine had to be brought to the children within three days. So far, it was dwindling to two.

She managed to find a group of stalagmites and shut down the Comet. The last thing she wanted was to let the bandits find her via the bright lights which were twice as much since the repair. The night may have been a bit frigid, but her vehicle was known to adjust to temperatures very well. Tinsel readjusted herself and went off to sleep.

The sun didn't rise, yet the canyon was still light despite the shadows. The sky had a crimson hue and was fading to goldenrod. As Tinsel yawned, she heard a screeching noise in the distance, as if steel was being grinded. It wasn't for wielding; instead there were some guardrails enwrapping around a mountain. There were also some numerous, deep booms that even made the ground tremble beneath the Comet. There was also a massive landslide somewhere near the midsection.

"I better find Rick, or perhaps Goroh. He depends on me to help him get that medicine." Only two days to go. She went on the hunt, never caring if any bandits were following her. As she was nearing the mountain, the avalanche was still a constant, but there were no signs of the Dragon Bird nor the Fire Stingray.

At the corner of her peripheral vision through the large, thin clouds of dust, Tinsel overlooked three vehicles; two machines were following a beat-up black covered van of sorts. It was a strange sight to her since it had wheels, while the other cars hovered. Pretty soon, they registered to her as the two vehicles she was looking for!

She grew ecstatic. "That's it! That's the Dragon Bird and the Fire Stingray!" She immediately chased after them, but she had her doubts. "But, Rick... Has he not known this is..." She shook off her paranoia. "I'd better warn him." She activated her Boosters and was on the prowl.

She saw them park near a massive, indigo building that was approximately 30 feet tall, and a large skull with red wings curving upward were embedded just above the entryway. She decelerated and hid the Comet aside. Trying not to make a sound or any sudden movements, she exited the cockpit and peeked in.

Suddenly, two metal cages descended from the ceiling and held Rick and a bandit wearing the sunglasses and the red-white bandana captive. A thief known as Vidion led the ambush. But his face was entangled by a long, black leather whip. Apparently, a girl almost the same age as Tinsel wanted to teach him some manners. "Your days as a fraud are over!"

"What the hell?!" the named Vidion cried.

The second victim was able to escape easily using his very deadly sword. That cage was nothing as it crumbled into dust.

"Wait a sec! Who-who the hell are you?!"

"Only Samurai Goroh can break out of those bars!" the girl stated enthusiastically.

Rick was more terrified than ever. "Y-you're not Samurai Goroh, are you?"

"You're right, Rick! He IS Samurai Goroh!" Tinsel declared as she entered the cave. "I can recognize you from anywhere!" she pointed straight at him. Disregarding the henchmen's grumbles of terror, he faced toward her.

"Say what?!" Vidion screeched.

"So, it was him all along..." another criminal whispered.

"I knew you were a fake all along! Now that the real Samurai Goroh is free..." the young girl jumped up and revealed a hot pink hooded attire. She was completely different from her casual wardrobe. She challenged the group, "...you should give up."

"How dare you lie to us." The thieves charged, but the ninja easily won over them with her swift moves. They hurriedly scattered away, and she soon followed, launching some grenades.

Tinsel continued her tirade. "Don't you remember who I am, you dastardly thief?! I was one of your old rivals from the first F-Zero Grand Prix. I am Tinsel Steelus, and I demand you to relieve the kids' medicine at once before I freeze you!"

Goroh smiled. "Hmph, Tinsel Steelus. And here, I figured you were dead at White Land. Well, I'm not afraid of ghosts His speech was interrupted as the cave started to crumble.

"What's going on?" Vidion asked in terror.

"I pressed the self-destruct button on the timer. The whole building's tumbling down." one of his minions replied.

"You IDIOT!"

There were layers of rock breaking off and a huge crack was forming just above Rick's prison. He was as white as a sheet as he observed the horror.

"Rick! Stand back!" Tinsel leapt into the Silver Comet and pressed down on the thrusters. There were two buttons on them, one was for acceleration, while the other was used as an ice beam instead of a horn. At the exact epicenter, a jet of ice shot out toward the bars, freezing them on contact! The ice was just enough to rust Rick's imprisonment as the bars crumbled. It was just enough time for him as he dove out before a large chunk of rock smashed it.

Vidion retained his composure. "Good riddance, what a good way to rid of Samurai Goroh. Ha ha ha ha!"

Just then his laughter was cut short by an explosive from above. The ninja was at it again; it was clear she's Goroh's associate.

"That little brat!" one of the gangsters scoured.

"We'll be done for!" another screamed.

She continued to launch away her explosives, making the bandits panic. Goroh finished the job as he jumped up, drew his sword, and sliced the steel platform in two!

While the enemies were busy, Tinsel persuaded her friend to leave. "Rick, come on!"

He was about to run out, but he hesitated and turned back. "No..! I gotta get the medicine. It's the kids' only hope!" He went to the side where several blue cases were. "Ah! Where is it?!" There was no answer as Goroh held his blade against Rick's shoulder.

"Don't move."

"You're one of them, aren't you?"

He only replied with a sinister nod. "That I am."

Tinsel felt as if he sliced her heartstrings. She headed back out and watched the building collapse onto itself. She also observed the samurai and his partner escort Rick at sword point and tied him up. She could barely make out the quarrel amongst the demolition.

"Samurai Goroh, I'm gonna get you for this! If it's the last thing I'll ever do! You hear me?!"

The Fire Stingray just casually left the scene. The last thing Tinsel wanted is to let the dying children and Rick down, as well as him making another vengeful enemy, as if Zoda wasn't enough for him to handle!

The Silver Comet lighted up and Tinsel zoomed passed the hapless detective, never realizing the ropes were loose once the bandits left.

"YOU'RE NOT GETTING AWAY!" she let out an angry holler. She made a hard side attack on the opposing machine. "WHERE'S THAT MEDICINE?!" she demanded.

Goroh just grinned at the threat. "You, pestering me again? You're just as bad as Falcon."

"Yeah? Well, I wish he was here to see this! You really are rotten to the core, Goroh! Never giving a damn about the kids' and Rick's welfare! Now where the hell is that antidote?!" she cried again. Her temper was as tepid as the desert itself.

Tinsel kept on attacking the Stingray, and at times it retaliated. "I don't want to play with a pest like you!" But she never gave up. She was hot on the machine's trail and kept on bashing it with as much might as possible. There were only a few speed boosts on the rocky road, and then, upon the Stingray's aggressiveness, the power of the Silver Comet began to shut down. It was even worse when she kept using her Booster to catch up. The coolness was beginning to fade and sparks kept licking the machine.

Just several miles later, there was a ravine up ahead. The Stingray was ahead of her and he was obviously prepared for the death-defying leap. It was no wonder since he knew every nook and cranny of his own turf. Tinsel saw it, too, putting her in a sudden state of shock. There was a flashback to when she was in White Land, taking the leap of faith, and never making it.

"No..! I cannot do this! STOP!" she slammed on the brakes. It was nearly impossible in the Comet's condition. The Stingray approached it and made the jump seamlessly. She could've sworn he was maniacally laughing his head off; clearly, he had won this battle. Tinsel sunk in defeat and reluctantly headed back with a very heavy heart.

Meanwhile, Rick found a metal briefcase on the Dragon Bird's fuselage. He slowly opened it and one lock just snapped. Before he opened the second lock on it, he heard an engine from behind. The Silver Comet parked a few feet away. The hatch opened, revealing Tinsel who was very distraught. She slowly got out and approached him as she dragged her feet, like a dog would while its tail was between its legs.

She sulked more. "Goroh... He got away with the medicine. There was a ravine and I couldn't catch up to him. I-I'm so sorry..." She was close to bursting into tears. "He really had us this time."

"No, he didn't!" Rick replied with an exclamation. He unlocked and opened the case, which revealed pills, agents, and a couple massive tubes.

Tinsel perked up and ran to him. "Rick, watch it! That thing might have bombs in it. Who knows what Goroh has plotted-" She stopped short, and was very ecstatic at what she saw. "Is that...the medicine?"

"I think so." He hadn't really seen treatment set up like this, not in this time period. "This could be the cure for all those dying kids. I'd better deliver it back to Mute City."

"I'll come with you; this place is never safe."

"Much obliged. By the way, thanks for rescuing me and chasing after him. You really helped me a lot back there."

Tinsel smiled as her eyes lit up. "Of course, Rick."

As they were heading back to the warp gate that led to Earth, they finally introduced themselves.

"Burt told me you're a F-Zero pilot and you drive the Dragon Bird." Tinsel said. "I'm sorry I didn't give you a proper greeting, I was very shy."

"It's all right. Not everyone is willing to meet someone who's new to them. What Burt said was true, I'm Rick Wheeler, a member of the Elite Mobile Task Force of the Galaxy Platoon." He grew bashful, "I've just started out recently, so I'm pretty much a rookie."

"I know how that feels."

"So, you're also a F-Zero racer?"

"Yes. I'm Tinsel Steelus, the pilot of the Silver Comet. I hadn't raced in a long while, about 13 years ago."

"I see. But what Burt didn't tell you is..." This was hard for him to say, but he managed to calm himself. "I was on hiatus from racing myself. 150 years ago." his voice rose with pride.

Tinsel's face turned pale. She was incredibly shocked. "What?!" Both machines screeched to a halt. "150 years!? I-I... I can't imagine being at a standstill for 150 years! T-that must've taken a huge toll on you."

Rick cleared his throat, "I was actually in cold sleep." This was a first for Tinsel since she only knew it was permanent for criminals who'd done first-degree murder and other deadly felonies. He continued, "I was a detective on an assignment and chased after a convict named Zoda, until he got the best of me." his voice softened as he recalled the fatal chase through the Brooklyn alleys. He also told her that he lost his girlfriend, Haruka. And he'd never forget the cultural shock he received after he awakened and was introduced to his boss, Jody Summer, and Dr. Robert Stewart. Although, he didn't give her all the details since his scars and the disaster were still fresh both in his body and in his mind.

"I once was involved in an accident myself." The murmur made Rick snap out of his reverie. "I also had a near-death experience. During the last course of the Queen League. That ravine reminded me of that large gap in White Land; everyone else made it across except me. I was close to death and suffered from hypothermia and trauma. Even today the accident was still fresh in my mind.

"Believe me. I know how it must feel to lose someone, and deal with the anguish from the past."

"I'm very sorry, Tinsel." His heart hurt nearly as much as hers.

"Thanks." she responded in an inaudible whisper.

After a few moments, Rick led her to the hospital where a boy bound to a wheelchair, named Alias, and his mom stood. He was coughing and wheezing into his arm. Rick made a brief pause, holding the case and let out a sigh with a smile. He walked up and gave the worried parent the antidotes. She smiled and gladly told him she'll give them to the physician right away.

Tinsel's expression became as blissful as theirs as she watched them leave. Rick unveiled he had a promise to keep to the boy; he was one of his greatest fans. Alias always loved to see him race, even though he hardly came in first He even recalled when he signed his first autograph on a toy model of the Dragon Bird the kid was holding, even then he was in a wheelchair. Later, he, and his partner named Lucy met both Alias and his mom in the ICU, and the child whispered that he wished he'd be a F-Zero racer just like him. That gave the two fellows a sense of comfort in that lonely, dire place. It was almost as if a weak streak of light shown on them. Since that moment, and when he heard of the burglary at the space transport, he vowed to keep it a secret and solve the case on his own.

Meanwhile, Tinsel described who Samurai Goroh really was, a heartless assassin that's the head of a group of the most fierce thieves in the universe. He was also known as Captain Falcon's archrival, and their relationship became strained since the masked man was the one who claimed the most bounties and climbed the ladder in the Internova Police Force, at least that's how the rumors went.

"You knew about Captain Falcon?" Rick asked in astonishment.

"Yeah. I also encountered him, Dr. Stewart, Pico and Goroh during the Grand Prix 13 years ago. His Fire Stingray is very aggressive. I, too, saw him compete in a death race against Falcon last year. He's really not a force to be reckoned with."

"Whew, tell me about it." He watched the kid one last time, as he finally was strong enough to stand. His mom was holding his hands, never being more proud of her brave son. "Oh, I need to get going. I'm sure my boss would throw a fit if she knows where I've been. It was very nice meeting you, Tinsel." He gave out a hand.

"Nice meeting you, too." She finally took his, and they shook with a warm, strong grip. They both grinned as they looked at each other. Then, they departed. But before he left, Tinsel remarked, "Oh, Rick, let me give you one piece of advice: The next time you chase after a criminal, make sure you do your research..." The last sentence had a slight hint of disappointment.

"I will. Bye, Tinsel." She watched him leave until he disappeared into the horizon.
 

Back at headquarters, Rick was scolded by Jody Summer and was doing janitor duty with Dr. Clash supervising him.

"Hey, you missed a spot."

"I know, I know."

He rested on the handle of the heavy steamer and muttered to himself, "I may not be the best janitor, but I am indeed the fastest." He smiled as he looked back at the good deed he'd done out of it.

Meanwhile, Tinsel stopped by the Falcon House and Burt was very impressed that she finally made the chance to meet Rick.

"So, you finally decided to make friends with him. I'm glad you helped him out while retrieving the rare medicine for all those kids."

"Actually, Goroh was nice enough to leave it with the Dragon Bird after he was captured. I'm not sure why." This always puzzled her since she knew him as a bloodthirsty killer. "I wonder if it's because he has a kid of his own. Maybe that's why he was so compassionate..."

"It's hard to say. I never thought that Goroh would have a soft spot for those dying kids since he orchestrated the assault." Burt replied.

"Me neither." She wasn't certain if it was either Goroh or that doomed thief, Vidion. Her eyes shot up to the Televid. Mr. Zero was announcing the next upcoming Grand Prix race. "Hey, Burt... So, you really think I should take my chances and compete alongside the Task Force?"

"It's up to you, Tinsel; whatever you want to do. Who knows, it's most likely you'll see the Dragon Bird. Rick would never miss out."

She recalled the fact he was in cryo for a century and a half. She was quite impressed on how much she knew about him. He truly was a hero, and she wished that the Falcon House could honor both he and the captain's valiant deeds. Her heart warmed as she gazed at an image of it on the screen. She grabbed the same model of his machine from a nearby shelf and held it firmly. "The Dragon Bird..."

Tinsel was truly looking forward to seeing Rick again. And perhaps someday, she could race by his side and make herself the third honorary member of his team.

A/N: The episode the fic that was based on was the first time I ever saw the anime; back in the fall of 2004. I was introduced to it around the same time Rick was looking for Samurai Goroh, and it was unfortunate I wasn't able to see Lisa Brilliant's trap afterwards. I guess I might've forgotten when was the next airtime on the FoxBox. It's too bad I can't find an English dub of this. I could only wish we'd have the missing episodes soon.

One thing to know is that Tinsel had a long, though quick, dread over Goroh, as she first encountered him in the Grand Prix 13 years back, as well as meeting up with him while following Falcon. She was so lucky that she was able to retrieve the stolen medicine and assist Rick in his time of need. Little did she know that her fascination with him would be something much more than she'd anticipate.

The fic would start out w/ the song "Beacon Port" from Maximum Velocity; "Hideout" from Disney's game, Quackshot, will play during Tinsel's early pursuit of Goroh. Then, "The Cover of Red Canyon" from F-Zero GX during Rick chasing the bandits, and the "Theme from Enter the Dragon (2001 Revival Mix)" from DDR Extreme would play as Tinsel chases Samurai Goroh. "Hurrah for the Champion" from GX plays as Rick thanked Tinsel for her assistance.

Well, that's it for now. Long live the franchise, and I hope we'll get a second chance for the English dubs.

 

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TheIkranRider

Cold as Ice

A/N: This is based on the anime episode, or the English dub, Michael Chain's Trap. Rick, Lucy, the Arrows, and Tinsel visit a mansion from a fellow F-Zero fan. But what they find would incredibly shock them. Will they find the other missing racers, or would they get caught in the same net they had fallen in?

It was sunset and Tinsel was on her way to the Mobile Task Force headquarters in her Silver Comet. She just obtained a huge silver Duel Disc from her friends Yugi and Joey; it was attached to her right arm and it was able to hold about two decks, though she never needed that many cards. She never liked it very much, as it kept falling off her flimsy arm, and it always became sore while she was trying to hold it up. But, she couldn't wait to show her friends on what it could do despite her struggling when she marched in.

Out of all the racers within the precinct, it was Dr. Stewart that knew about those Duel Monster challenges; while it was rare to find compared to all the hype of the F-Zero races, he caught on the competitions, including the ones that took place in Battle City last year.

"I think it's a very nice contraption, Tinsel. It can help you hone your skills as a novice duelist." His face fell when his voice became serious as he pointed out, "Although, you should get a much smaller disc since it doesn't suit well with your petite stature." As always, the doc was right.

Tinsel blushed as she rubbed her neck with her free hand, "Heh, yeah. It's said to house two decks, but I never needed that many. One deck should be fine for me. I don't use a lot of monsters, either, and those I do are mostly for beginners anyway. Nothing special."

"Speaking of which," Lucy said, "Rick is racing against Super Arrow in the Mute City Grand Prix."

"Really? What're we waiting for!?" Tinsel always loved to see her idol race. She stormed over toward the large plasma screen and glued her eyes on the Televid. The Dragon Bird was neck-to-neck with the King Meteor, and Tinsel recognized it as the machine belonging to a superhero of sorts.

"Wait, he's racing Super Arrow? THE Super Arrow? The guy that took F-Zero off of suspension by convincing the Federation Congress seven years after the Horrific Accident?"

"Yes, the very same." Stewart confirmed. He sighed, "I'll never forget that fateful race; only he and I were the very lucky ones that endured the incident at Fire Field unscathed."

Before he was about to explain more, he was interrupted by the commotion on the course. The King Meteor spun out of control, and Tinsel was ecstatic when Rick conquered the track; out of all the 24 contestants, he emerged victorious!
 

Moments later, the Task Force toasted him to a job well done. "Cheers!"

"You were great today, Rick." Jody said.

"Congratulations!" Lucy added with more enthusiasm.

"Yeah, what made you hustle so hot today, Ricky? Did you promise a pretty girl you would win her back the trophy!?" Jack queried joyfully. Tinsel and Lucy couldn't help but giggle at the statement. Rick just grinned.

"That is something you would do, Jack." EAD answered.

"I think he fought so hard to win that race because he wants whoever kidnapped those other pilots to come after him. Am I right, Rick?" Dr. Stewart assumed. He wasn't wrong when it came down to it.

Everyone faced him and gave him wary looks. He even had one himself as he looked upon his teammates. But, then his cockiness got the best of him in the end. He replied with another smile, "Whatever happens, happens, I guess. Good night." He then stood up and left. Everyone became silent in the room. All except Tinsel who looked around with wide, wandering eyes.

"What do you mean..? What has happened around here?"

Jody and Dr. Stewart explained that while she was hanging out with the Duelists, which was difficult to juggle as a trainee on both jobs, racers have wound up missing. Those that came in first were ironically the first people to be abducted, and they had faded into obscurity over the past few days. All the officers were so worried that the worst would come to him. That put Tinsel in a state of alarm, "Oh no..." She also remembered the supreme Grand Prix Champion. "Well, I'm sure it's nothing Capt. Falcon can't handle. I mean, if anything should happen to him, he'd be out in a jiffy. A-and even rescue the other racers." Her demeanor broke in frustration, "I just wish we'd find a way to contact him..."

"He's a bounty hunter, Tinsel. He'd never want to be bothered by crises like this one. It'd be hard to reach him either way." Jody mentioned.

The Silver Comet pilot sulked. "Please be careful, Rick."
 

Several days later, they saw Rick who was so buzzed over the night's incident just after his victory. "Hey, I just got a call from that guy, Truman. The one that got attacked after the race last weekend. It's Dream's birthday and he's throwing a little party for us at his mansion."

"Mansion, huh?" Jack boasted, "The guy must be loaded."

EAD stepped forward, "What is the girl like?"

Rick answered, "You'll see for yourself. They're both huge racing fans and I told them about you. So you're all invited, too!"

"That's great, Rick! I just love parties." Lucy exclaimed.

"How about you, EAD?"

"You can count me out; I would not fit in at a party."

Rick let out a smirk, "Whadda ya mean? Just because you're an android? You gotta stop stressing about stuff like that, or you're gonna blow your motherboard."

"Mama Mia!" He never liked the sound of that. If he got fried, he'd be offline for good.

The detective backpedaled as he raised his hands. "I-I'm only kidding! Chill out."

Lucy giggled.

Jack just shook his head and used a hand as if he just swatted a fly, "I'm not going, either. Those she-she parties aren't for me."

"Well, that's very unusual, Jack; this isn't like you since you always wanted to be at the center of the action." Tinsel stated. The others couldn't agree more.

Dr. Stewart entered the conversation. "Are Super Arrow and his wife coming too, Rick?"

"Yeah, what's the deal with those two?" he pondered.

"They're a couple whackos who think they're superheroes; they're the ones that keep the zero in F-Zero."

The team just chuckled at that. Though Tinsel was a little more acceptable since she was never crazy about them; other than putting the competition back on its feet from its seven-year suspension, thus F-Zero X, they never really did anything heroic in hindsight.
 

Rick, Lucy, and Tinsel arrived that night, and they couldn't believe their eyes. The entire lawn was completely trimmed so evenly from the hedges to the fresh grass, and it was glowing from all those little streetlamps highlighting the sides of the thin, marble pathway. It led up to a three-story monster, completely lit from the inside. Rick didn't exaggerate when he said it was truly a mansion, as if it could actually be seen from space. Truman and Dream were waiting for them, and the Arrows who followed them there, on top of the adhered brick stairs.

They escorted their guests inside, and they beheld a large dining area complete with a massive crystal chandalier hanging above a long rectangular table covered by white satin. A butler wearing a tall tux served them cavier on fine china as well as red wine in flutes.

Rick was sitting at the right side of the table next to Lucy, Tinsel, and the Arrows. He became awestruck as he looked around. "Wow. You inherited all this from your grandfather?"

"That's right." Truman nodded with a grin. He was in his twenties; had short, sleek, black hair glistening under the fluorescent lights; narrow spectacles; and a green, tightly buttoned top. He sat at the left side with his girlfriend, Dream, sitting next to him. Dream was a brunette with shiny, flowing, shoulder-length hair, thin makeup, and wearing a white, elegant dress.

"I wish I had a grandfather like that." Super Arrow boasted over his supper.

"I wonder if he got Dream from his grandfather, too." Mrs. Arrow whispered into his ear.

"I didn't. I met her a couple months ago. By accident." Truman flashed back to the time he first met her. It was at the dead of night in the middle of a quiet Mute City street. "I was driving a bit too fast when I turned a corner, went into a skid, and flipped over. I was thrown from my car and got knocked unconscious." It was surprising they had noticed that he never owned a hovercar; Rick said before that his shiny, large minilimo was just an antique on wheels.

Dream just ran to his side, and Truman was covered from head to toe in filth and oil. "Are you alright? Try to open your eyes."

He did and smiled up at her weakly. His vision was going in and out.

Dream felt so relieved when she smiled. "Ah, that's great. You're gonna be fine."

"She never left my side." he said. His mind then shifted to the moment he woke up in a hospital. Dream was right there with him. "You should go home."

She simply just shook her head and still had that sweet smile pasted on.

"I call her my Dream come true." He said as he faced her and returned to the present.

"Well, I hope you guys are as happy together as Mrs. Arrow and I are. Hm hm." Mr. Arrow nodded with pride.

"Happy as birds of a feather flock together." Rick then faced the Arrow couple, "Especially cuckoo birds." Tinsel couldn't help but snicker at that.

"Dream, did you fall in love with him right away?" Mrs. Arrow asked, disregarding the insult.

"Or after you found out he was rich?" Lucy butted in.

She just shook her head again. "I didn't know he was a millionare. I only knew I loved him." Her voice softened at that other sentence.

"I bet I can love a millionaire too, unless he didn't have any money." The carrot-top commented. Tinsel appeared confused.

Truman then stood up. "I hope you have all enjoyed your dinner. Now if you don't mind I have something I want to show you." He then faced his girlfriend and suggested, "I'd prefer if you would wait here, Dream." She immediately obliged; Tinsel almost forgot it was her birthday, after all.

Super Arrow just ran on and on loudly with a huge grin, "As you know, I am a superhero and as a superhero I have a superfeeling that you got a superspecial surprise from a superspecial someone waiting for you downstairs."

Hm, more like your superego, Tinsel thought aloud under her breath.

Truman looked like a deer in the headlights as he looked behind him from the arched window, but he immediately recovered. "Uh...yes, that's exactly it, Super Arrow."

The super cocky fruad just kept nodding his head in great affirmation, as if he acted he was some sort of psychic.-
Tinsel stood up. "Well, I've got a very special surprise myself! I've been wanting to show this off to all of you." She reached down and pulled out the large device from beneath her seat. "Behold, the Duel Disc!" Its lustrous body shined beneath the light.

"Wow, I've seen these around here before. For one this size, you must be quite the Duelist." Truman complimented. It was very surprising that someone else knew about those Duel Monster competitions aside from Stewart and the inevitable fact he's rich.

Just then, after she raised her arm, it began to slide off and drop to the floor with a clang. "Agh! Agh, agh. Oh no! My cards are scattered all over the floor, agh!" Tinsel got on all fours picking up the pieces. Her face was as bright red as a stoplight. "Ergh, I knew I never should've brought this thing with me. Oh, this is so embarassing..!"

Lucy offered, "Do you want any help?" Rick looked over.

"No no no, I'm fine. I just need to gather my deck together. It happens all the time, y'know." She looked up at the guests and then the host who looked at her with a stern face. "You guys can go without me, I'll catch up with you later. Agh. Ow, my arm." She held it in agony as it was starting to get sore again. "God, I wish I could've found a smaller one," she muttered.

The rest of the party animals followed Truman down a dark room. He never even bothered to turn on the lights as they were descending the stairwell.

"Are you sure you're ok? Do you need like an ice slab or something? It can heal you instantly." Dream offered as she bent down to her height.

"No, I'm fine. I just can't wear it as much. Oh, Dr. Stewart was right when he said it's not built for my stature." She rose herself up after she reloaded her Cards as the machine automatically shuffled them. Then, the top of her scalp hit something. "Ow!" Tinsel rubbed it, trying to minimize the pain. Her head struck underneath the table. "Ah, talk about reinforced glass..! Ow."

By the time she finally resurfaced, Dream wanted to treat her minor strains and pains, but she refused. However, something caught her eye. A cinabbar glow shined close to the ground outside the tall, arched, rear view window overlooking the yard.

"Hmmm, what's that ominous glow in the distance?" Tinsel wondered. 

Following the sight, she looked below and saw a very horrifying display of disarray. Outside, she instantly recalled the numerous F-Zero machines that were facing each other in awkward angles. She identified them as the Wild Boars; every one was in ashened multi colors, excepting the one smack dab in the center of the lush property, which to her knowledge belonged to Michael Chain.

"Oh no, it's the Wild Boar! They belong to the Bloody Chain! Hide!!" She immediately drew the long velvet drapes closed.

Dream gasped, "T-Tinsel, what's going on?"

She faced her with glazed, wild eyes, "Dream, I need you to hide somewhere. Get Truman, Rick and the others and find a place to hide! The Bloody Chain is a dangerous street gang known throughout the galaxy..! I thought we got rid of these guys..."

"Ok. I'll go," she squeaked.

Tinsel had a change of heart, and she grabbed her hand. "No, wait. ...I'll go. I know Rick and Lucy better. Just--please hide!"

Dream turned and headed toward another door at the right corner; Tinsel could've sworn it belonged to a closet. With her heart racing at the edge of her chest, she faced the opaque opening and slowly tiptoed toward the entrance. She then looked down and her eyes laid on something neon red. She ducked and saw a laser gate. From the upper floor at the corner hiding the majority of it, she made out Rick, Lucy, and the Arrows cornered against a wall, with Truman at the outside, gleefully holding a small remote.

Her breath was caught in her tight throat. Truman... This--this was all a setup. So he was the one who captured all those other racers. Her expression changed to wonder, Was he working alongside the Bloody Chain all along..? She then saw an attempt done by the foolish Super Arrow as he reached out and touched the gate, which was excruciatingly painful to the touch, and through eavesdropping Truman was making some kind of deal with Mike. She slowly rose and then gave the hallways a quick scan; no one was there, not even Dream, nor any backup for her imprisoned friends and the psuedo-superheroes never had their agonizing owl.

Tinsel knew from that moment it was now or never. She realized the fate of Lucy and especially Rick were in her quaking hands. Without a choice nor any hesitation, she grabbed her Duel Disc. She then found an old landline phone with a pointed receiver covered in golden lining and dialed a number for the Galaxy Police.

"Hello, my name is Tinsel Steelus. I'm at Truman's mansion, and he's dealing with Michael Chain. Watch out for fireworks. Hurry, he's got a gun!"

As soon as her eyes spotted Truman, she ran toward the closet door Dream was in. She panted as she harshly whispered, "Dream, you gotta break things off with Truman. He was in charge on plotting to capture those F-Zero racers, and he just caught my friends. He's on his way outside to negotitate with the Bloody Chain. I want you to head into the basement and wait for me!"

Her breath was shallow. "He--he left us. He left us!?"

With some determination she laid her hands on her shoulders, "But that's NOT! What I'm gonna do. Ok?" Dream nodded. Tinsel glued her ear toward the door, expecting to hear a sound, but there was none. After a few moments, she jiggled the knob, opened the door, and they both stepped out. "Go to the basement. Help should be on its way. Tell them what's happening. I'll hold off Truman and the Bloody Chain."

She nodded and she left without a word.

Tinsel recalled last year when she was chasing Falcon to Lightning, as well as the strategy she and the Duelists pulled... She rearranged some Cards within her heavy Duel Disc.

When she was ready, she hesitated at the front door. Knowing this was too easy, she found the back door instead. She was pleased with the mile deep pool, but she wasn't too distracted. She passed a couple advanced sprinklers, hoping she wouldn't arm them and get herself soaked. She crept her way behind bush after bush, until she saw both Michael along with Truman and his gang.

She nearly made out the conversation as Mikey congratulated Truman for trapping more F-Zero pilots, even those in the Elite Mobile Task Force and the retarded Arrows. "The Task Force would be vulnerable without their two champions," the leader of the pack said in a gruffy tone. "Once we capture the rest of those meddling officers, the universe shall fall to its knees. And then..." his golden teeth glimmered, "We shall make you as an honorary member sharing our blood."

"I'll do--whatever you ask, Michael." Truman bowed. "Just as long as you don't harm my beloved Dream."

He laid one of his calloused hands on his smooth scalp. "No harm should befall any of you, Truman. As long as you keep the bargain. Together, we had already captured three sleazy F-Zero racers, and we're this close to catch Capt. Falcon in our net."

Tinsel couldn't believe what the HELL she just heard.

"Never mind Dark Million. As long as we would rule all of Mute City, we will be unstoppable!! Hah ha ha ha!" The rest of his passe just joined in on the glory!

Tinsel then burst out of her hiding place, breaking many leaves asunder. "Hey, Mikey! Remember me, you big, black oaf!"

Everyone looked over, though Mike wasn't very pleased. "What?! Who're you calling big, black oaf?!" He roared. Even when he pointed to himself, letting one of his golden jewelry cling and jiggle. "I am Michael Chain, and this is my gang! We have some unfinished business to attend to. So, why don't you do us a favor and BEAT it!"

Despite the threat as well as his size, Rick just entered her mind providing her with courage and she never felt intimidated. "Never, Mikey. For you see..." She brightened and pointed a thumb to herself. "I am Tinsel Steelus, a member of the Elite Mobile Task Force, and I've come to force you to release my friends!"

Everyone, except Truman, laughed.

"Young, yet foolish. The Task Force has already been locked up! You have no chance against the Bloody Chain. What would it do with such a weak specimen like you!? You can't beat us!"

"Really? Not even with...THIS?" She took out a card that had an image of Kuriboh. It was a small creature with brown fur; big, beady yellow eyes with purple pupils; and tiny green limbs with yellow claws. Everyone, except their leader, was scared silent. "T-th-that's the monster that blew up our machines!!"

"Ahhh, get it out of here!"

Mike was so dumbfounded, as was Truman. "What? What're you talking about?! That's just a pathetic, little fur ball. He's too cute to be a threat."

"Mikey, he's deadly. Let's get outta here!" Most of the gangsters hightailed out. Tinsel inserted the card inside the Disc's loading deck and then used Multiply on top of it; the light goldenrod card with the X symbol was activated as it illuminated. Kuriboh materialized and shot out, then more appeared, and they each clung to the Boars. Some of the members were running away, but they were already caught in the destruction as each creature glowed very brightly...

BANG! BANG! BOOM!

Every machine exploded, including Mike's Wild Boar. It actually took off like a small rocket as it flipped over and landed straight on top of the muscular man! Sirens wailed as they headed to the stunning sight while each car was being obliterated! The officers apprehended the crooks, including Mike who was trapped beneath his own Boar. 
The Task Force and the Arrows noticed the enormous shockwaves the explosions left as they had some sawdust rain on them. The ground shook and Dream nearly cowered from the quakes. They hardly noticed the laser gate dimming and eventually die down.

Truman was knocked off his dastardly feet as he tried to run inside. But he was just lying on the marble.

The special forces were very impressed how the rookie was able to find and destroy the Bloody Chain by herself. And Rick and Lucy couldn't be any prouder. She told them what just transpired involving her Duel Disc and called out Truman and Mike for capturing those three missing F-Zero pilots; she still wondered if one of them was Falcon.

Despite Dream's horror as she looked at her betrayer, a couple agents twisted his arms back as they started to apprehend him, expecting his controversial actions to make him wind up with possible cold sleep. Looking at the devastated Dream, with rivers of tears leaking from her eyes and running off her makeup, Tinsel's throat burned.

As she saw him get dragged away, she immediately stormed forward. "Wait! Do not arrest him. It wasn't entirely his fault. Maybe he can help find the other missing racers."

"Tinsel? Didn't you say he was responsible for all this..?" Rick was overwhelmed, he could hardly think straight, let alone expect Tinsel to do a heel-face turn. There was a pregnant pause, then she looked at him and spoke, "Yes. ...But it was a mistake and it would never happen again." She could barely compose herself.

In the end, she said Truman made a terrible mistake: as he was desperate for his and Dream's safety, and relied on the Bloody Chain for protection as long as he captures more F-Zero pilots. He was so much in peril that he wanted to trap the Task Force in exchange for his life. Tinsel told the cops to let him go and drop the charges.

"We might as well, since you were the one who led us to the Bloody Chain. We've been looking for them for years..."

After they finally left and scrapped away all the Boars, she looked over to Truman with trembling, clenched hands. She stomped over to him while Rick and Lucy pleaded her to stop, and startled him by forcing him back till his body hit a wall. She grabbed him by the folded fancy collar, wrinkling it as tight as an octopus claiming its prey. Truman's head hit the wall with a bump.

He cried for mercy, "No, Tinsel, please, just give me one more chance..!"

"One more chance is all you get!" she hissed directly in his face. Dream was shocked at Tinsel's cold demeanor, even Rick and Lucy. "If. You. EVER capture my friends again, or if I see you kidnap another F-Zero racer, it's gonna be your head in the goddamn smasher!!" She forced him back again, harder this time as she let her adrenaline and enhanced strength choke him. She looked into his terrified eyes with so much resentment. "You know where they are, you know where they're hiding. Find them, or I'll find you..!" Again, she forced him back as hard as she could, then his body fell like a Jenga tower. She marched up to Dream.

Tinsel exasperated, "Dream? I'm sorry. But you're gonna have to break things off with him. He's not the man you thought he is. He's a backstabber and a traitor that only wants greed and chaos. Money and fame can utterly destroy you. This is for your own good..! Cause from this moment on, we'll be as enemies. I'll only spare you since it wasn't your fault. But..." she looked over at the fallen Truman, quivering in fear in a fetal position. "I won't go easy on him, and I hardly forgive and forget."

Tinsel marched away when Dream muttered, "Thanks for the warning."

She took off to her Silver Comet before a startled Rick caught up to her, calling her name. "Tinsel! Tinsel!" Unfortunately, it zoomed off leaving him in its arctic wake. As he uncovered his face from his right arm, he just looked out at the darkness. Then he moped, "Tinsel..."

She disregarded the speed limit, as she was in a hurry to get back to headquarters. She never felt this way before, with her mind full of resentment as well as going thru a nervous breakdown. She stopped, let out a shrilling scream, and her body just let go with her breath so fast and shallow as she burst into tears. Her face began to melt as it heated up...

By the time she finally partially calmed, the Comet was already in the garage; she was lucky the room was dark so passers wouldn't "see me like this." Tears were still flowing from her eyes as she hyperventilated. By the time she recovered a little of composure, she ignored concerned looks from her co-workers until she reached the office where Jody and Stewart stood.

They looked at her distraught face and immediately became curious. "Tinsel?" the doc queried. She hardly said a word.

She just stuttered, "I--I...have done something terrible..!" She sulked as she tried hard to hold her tears back. The medico put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"Tinsel..? What happened? Where's Rick and Lucy? Have you found anyone else?" She swallowed hard and her throat was dry.

"Doc... It was Truman. He was responsible for everything..."

Stewart and Jody escorted her to a seat and she filled them in: from the moment she saw the Bloody Chain awaiting outside, to the sight of Rick and the others trapped in the basement with Truman, to using her Kuriboh and overcoming the gang before the Feds arrived. Needless to say, they were also impressed on her astonishing achievement, as a rookie of the Task Force standing up to a large chain gang by herself.

"I didn't know you had it in you," the captain praised.

"Jody, she just went through a mental breakdown. She's not supposed to make any physical aggression on a suspect." Stewart reasoned.

"Maybe... But it was for self-defense, and Lucy, Wheeler, and the Arrows were spared. I know everyone has a breaking point. And so far, no other racers have been abducted yet. Other than the last three. Reports are yet to come in for the captors' whereabouts. However...she may need some evaluation." She looked at Tinsel's broken face, then she led her to the lavatory and urged her to hang her face in a cold, running faucet. Tinsel kept on breaking into tears and sweat as she made contact with the soothing sensation. A towel was there to hold her face down, then when the faucet was off, she helped Tinsel dry it. The Comet's pilot was nearly red as a Blood Hawk, and her breathing was shallow. Jody recommended her to take tomorrow off for her recovery and also to try and lie down as soon as she gets back home. Tinsel almost immediately obliged and thanked the two senior officers.

But before she left, she spoke to Stewart, "Hey. Remember when you said that the Arrows 'put the zero in F-Zero'?"

"Yeah?"

"...They do." Tinsel then slowly walked away and headed straight to her flat.

Jody and Stewart then saw Rick rush in, wondering where Tinsel was. They assured him that she was just here and left toward her home. They now all realized that Tinsel can be as cold as ice, and quite vicious, but only if she needs to be; the cyborg did appreciate her motherly instincts. And Tinsel wished that her dark side, much to the horrors of Rick and Lucy, wouldn't prevent her from working with her friends again.
 

Little did they know that Black Shadow had observed her actions from afar. "Ohhh...she does have a dark side too, does she..?" His voice echoed in the vacant, dimly lit chamber. "Then her dark persona can be put to good use..." He motioned to a mysterious cloaked figure that was covered in bone. "Skull, make the arrangements for our 150-year-old guest. Rick's reunion with her would be...quite welcoming."

"As you wish, Lord Shadow."

He wandered off, leaving the archdemon alone in his aspiration. "I shall make use of your evil intentions quite soon, my dear, Tinsel." His voice boomed as he laughed quietly.

A/N: Wow, this took since February to get it done? Dammit!

Alright, I'm not really going to do EVERY Lap in the anime, but I had a grudge with Truman for a very long time. His treachery made me go through the roof! The suspense was definitely a killer, and I never liked the ending when Dream forgave him as he tried to redeem himself afterwards; every traitor needs to suffer from their actions, and so should he!!

The title was like a play on words for the Foreigner song of the same name. And yes, Tinsel, and myself, CAN be as cold as ice, but it's not for no reason. Everyone does have a breaking point, and she was just pushed over the edge Truman really did it for her, and Jody was actually sympathetic for her, and impressed when she managed to overthrow and help catch the Bloody Chain for the Feds. I'm sure the 3 so-called racers would be safe after the episode, though there was no wedding this time, just heartbreak. Like I said, Truman deserved the worst, and I was never a fan of the Arrows either. Also, this fic reminds me of the hit Kelly Clarkson song, Dark Side, as Tinsel showed hers. And it did have a little shoutout to F-Zero GX, X, the original, Home Alone 2 and Rambo: First Blood Part II, my personal favorite.

So...Black Shadow wants to exploit her dark prowess. I'm not sure what my next project is. Until then, keep the faith, futuristic racing fans.

 

 

 

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TheIkranRider

Here's a little Yugioh crossover pic:

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As well as a meme I came out with!

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And finally the Duel Monsters Tinsel used for an emergency involving the incident in the Outer Space circuit during Lap 10 of the anime!

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I always wished that both F-Zero and Yugioh would have the same anime style, otherwise it would be a GRAND crossover!! I came up w/ these ideas since back in summer of 2004! And a few months later there was the underrated anime for the FoxBox!! So nostalgic, especially Rick! I love Greg Abbey so much as him!! Hence the timeline!

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TheIkranRider

And here's another installment in the timeline!

Rick's Lament

Disclaimer: I don't own the song "A World without Love." That was performed by Peter and Gordon, and written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon way back in 1964. Still, I find this oldie to be very good, ever since I was young.

A/N: This is something I've been thinking about back in 2004. When I first saw Lap 8 on the anime, the English dub, I couldn't think of a better song than this. As you'd see, Rick is the Hurting Hero as he laments over the life he had 150 years ago, but mostly for his loved one, Haruka Misaki. I believe this selection fits rather nicely; this is my very first songfic so I hope I did this right. This could take either one of the titles, the song itself, or as I like to call it, Rick's Lament.


About a month had passed since Tinsel first met Rick at the Falcon House. Burt introduced him to her as she was cleaning out the engine of the Silver Comet, and she was too shy to give him an introduction. After seeing him during race after race in the awesome Dragon Bird, she grew fascinated with him; not only was he an amazing F-Zero pilot, but also a rising star, and he was considered as a hero to many. Especially when she assisted him to retrieve the medicine for the sick children across the universe from a lethal Japanese warrior named Goroh.

But that all changed four weeks later. Tinsel found out Rick won two Grand Prixes in a row; he was described as unstoppable, but also Dark Million's "#1 target," as the leader of the Task Force, Jody, claimed. Unfortunately, Rick was just as vulnerable when Tinsel listened in on his angsts. He never felt happy taking these victories, all because he was suffering from survivor's guilt. He couldn't stop thinking of the life he once had 150 years ago. Particularly, his vengeance for Zoda, and his lost relationship with his beloved, Haruka.

He became somber, but later absent and depressed. This also made his mind drift even when he was on the job. Tinsel never saw her best friend like this before, and she wished there was something she could do to help heal his deep, emotional wounds. The manifestation was too much for them to bare.

One night, she followed the Dragon Bird, wondering why Rick disappeared so suddenly. She heard a conversation between him and Burt. The diner was empty and dark, as if it looked it was closing up.

Over a steaming cup and saucer of sweet coffee, known to them as 'the usual', Rick asked him with an expression that was too sad for words, "Burt, ever lost somebody you really...cared about?"

"Yeah." the boss answered as he was drying a plate.

"We had our whole lives ahead of us..." His mind reflected back to the time when he was chasing down an escaped convict named Zoda. He was racing in a brown sedan through a bunch of alleyways, heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Rick was right on his tail, until the insane inmate managed to use his semi-automatic and shot off his door from the hinges. He kicked it off, and the slab was heading straight to Rick's windshield. His whole body was destroyed from the fatal shards of glass, then he was put into cryo-hibernation for a century and a half.
 

"It must've been a big shock when they got you out of cold sleep." Burt said.

"They said I've been asleep for 150 years. But I couldn't believe it, so I rushed out to propose to Haruka. When I got to the bridge..." Rick paused for a few moments. "I can't stop thinking about her, Burt. I can't get her out of my mind. And I'm not sure I want to even if I knew how."

"I know it hurts. But you have to let this go."

"How can I? How can I forget how Zoda destroyed me?!" He slammed his right fist on the counter. "Everything I had... Everything...is gone." He looked at his wrinkled glove, thinking his hand was bleeding. It wasn't, but Tinsel knew his heart was.

That really sliced her nerve strings. Thinking she should give him some space, and hearing all she needed to hear, she held back her tears and drove to the apartment complex they shared.

While riding in her Silver Comet, she tuned into an oldie from her audio Blu-Ray already loaded inside her stereo. The song suited Rick's lament very well. It played in an E-cord, the drum tapped along, a bass played in conjunction with a guitar, and two guys expressed their pain:

Please lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside, where I hide
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love


This really described Rick's sadness quite nicely. This was actually a song made way back in 1964, and she and her family were huge music buffs. It came to show that they weren't the only traditionalists around. As Tinsel heard more, she became in tune on how much it spoke about heartbreak and despair.

Birds sing out of tune
And rain clouds hide the moon
I'm OK, here I'll stay
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love


It seemed the guys singing it were in denial. Despite their yearning for someone close to them, they tried to live on as best they could; yet still they hurt inside. During that time, they hope desperately for anyone to give them the love and support they needed to live, whether it'd be from the repercussions of death or separation. To Rick, this reminded Tinsel on how he depicted Haruka after 150 years.

So I wait and in a while
I will see my true love smile
She may come I know not when
When she does I know
So baby until then
Lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside, where I hide
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love


There was a brief instrumental break, and Tinsel found the song to be more relatable by the minute. The song repeated the bridge then the chorus, saying about Rick on how much he misses her, and is anxious on seeing her again by any means:

So I wait and in a while
I will see my true love smile
She may come I know not when
When she does I know
So baby until then
Lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside, where I hide
With my loneliness
I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love
I don't care what they say I won't stay in a world without love


By the time the sonata ended, Tinsel parked the Comet in the flat's lot. She cut off the engine and sulked. The night was just enough to hide her emotions of sorrow, empathy, and worry. She remembered that she was in total disbelief when Rick said he was asleep for 150 years; she knew already that only first-degree criminals were sentenced for permanent cold sleep in Planet Alcatran, but he was far more luckier than them. He may have survived that accident, but he was only half alive. Losing everything and everyone he cherished was really taking its toll on him.

And Tinsel wishes that one day, Rick would heal his scars, and find a sympathetic friend that would guide him through the dense fog of his depression. She hopes he won't do anything to put his life in anymore danger, as if Dark Million's assaults weren't bad enough. Tinsel was willing to protect Rick from those threats, no matter what Zoda, or Black Shadow, or Blood Falcon might throw at him, or if his endurance would fail and let his life take a turn for the worst.
From that moment on, she knew she'd be the one who would cure her close comrade, and be there for him if anything should go awry. She made a personal vow to do so, and she still does help him fight his treacherous demons to this very day.

 

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TheIkranRider

Here's Part 2 right after the events of the songfic! Based on one of my all-time favorite episodes of the anime and the English Dubs, Lap 8: The Secret Within!

Vulnerability of a Hero

A/N: *sigh..* Another request fic I had to create for Berrywatterson... But, at least I get the chance to finally make a story based on my personal favorite episode of GP Legend, The Miss Killer Puzzle/The Answer Within. Ever since I first saw this Lap, I knew it was the most dramatic, the most tragic, and it was my first encounter w/ Miss Killer/Luna Ryder/Misaki Haruka (from the GP Legend game no less), as well as the cool Moon Shadow; I swear this was one of the episodes I'd grown quite addicted to.

So, this is loosely on the songfic I created, as well as focusing on Rick's bout with his survival's guilt, while Dark Million takes advantage of it, his victories, and his dark past.


"Bio Rex is leading the pack! His mean machine, the Big Fang, is really chewing up this track! But Rick Wheeler and Octoman are right on his tail, so to speak."

Mr. Zero announced over the roar of the audience as they were glued on a track within Mute City. Of course, this was the most common place for F-Zero races, even the wars waging against Dark Million. Rick and Jack are up against Bio Rex, Octoman, and even this tricky circuit that had so many jumps, that even a few unfortunate pilots experienced a blowout if they couldn't make it. Thank goodness Tinsel wasn't there, or it'd rekindle her worst fears she had at White Land.

"I can see why this track makes the pilots so jumpy." Rick said while controlling the Dragon Bird with minimal effort.

Jody urged him on his dashboard, "Rick, this is the last lap! It's crucial that we win this race! You won't have a chance unless you make your move. And--"

Rick shut off the comm. "Sorry, Jody. I'd love to chat, but I got a race to win." He continued to valiantly pursue the two thugs, where they awaited him as the course was beginning to turn violently, and even start to narrow. "Last lap!"

The mutated Tyrannosaur looked behind and saw Rick on his heels. "Hrmph! You're not getting passed me, Wheeler." He snorted. "This is my chance on some major woolongs."

Suddenly, the Deep Claw was set for the ambush. The cephalopod suddenly approached from behind and boosted ahead from fourth to third, as he immediately cut the Dragon Bird from the side! The road was unable to allow Rick passage and he was lagging behind the impenetrable tank!

"Boxed in!" he shouted.

"Thanks, pal." Bio Rex grumbled.

"Just remember this the next time I'm in a squeeze," he sneered.

"You got it, Octoman, old buddy."

"I'll keep Wheeler octo-pied while you cross the finish line." One of his arms curled. He continued to tag beside the Dragon Bird as much as possible for his ally to take in the gold, even crushing his machine against the guardrail and causing sparks to fly and lose its energy gradually. "Bye, Wheeler."

Just then, his red machine suddenly jerked. Like the slippery fish he is, he even started to lose his grip against the Bird as his own machine started to slide against the wall. Knowing this was his chance, Rick hit the brakes just seconds before Octoman made a cocky side attack. The resulting impact caused him to tip over the wall and off course!

"That was a tough break." Bio Rex was miffed he lost his ally, but... "I'm still gonna win." The monster was still ahead of the hero.

With a free passage, Rick kept an eye on the track. Then the Big Fang finally had a wide opening.

"It's go time!" He shot passed the mutated monster. As did Jack.

"Takeaway for me!?" With all that bulk slowing him down, even the Hovering Tortoise took his chance, as well. That was the nickname Tinsel came up with for Jack's refusal on improving the Astro Robin's stats.

At headquarters, the entire team was watching the race upon the Televid, even Tinsel, who was beaming the most; she always loved watching her idol/best friend race!

"Rick's in the lead!" Lucy cheered as she clapped her hands together.

"And Jack is right behind him." EAD added. He could never be more right as he saw the Astro Robin tag along the Dragon Bird less than a mile away.

"Rick is some amazing racer!" Dr. Clash commented with his mechanical arms raising.

"Winning races must stir up a lot of memories for him..." Dr. Stewart uttered.

Tinsel grew curious, "What do you mean, Doc?"

During the last stretch, the high-flying medico explained Rick's past has been catching up to him. After his cultural shock when he woke up from cold sleep, it felt a little less important when he was training himself hard as an F-Zero pilot. Actually, it was thanks to Tinsel that helped improve his racing skills from a list of circuits throughout the Big Apple, as well as a certain someone who also used to teach him some pointers...
 

Just as he was closing in on the finish line, Rick's mind drifted away to a race he competed in 150 years ago. He was driving a white Formula One vehicle as two others gave away, leaving Rick to take the gold. It was during the Big Apple Grand Prix, aka the Championship, and he took in first. He then took off his helmet as he arose from his car, while the cameramen went crazy taking pictures. It wasn't till a special young woman that broke the constant flashing.

"Ah, Rick!" Wearing a light green dress, Haruka beamed holding a bouquet of roses. As she reached up for him to grab, Rick instead took her up to the winner circle. She was at first alarmed by the force of it, then gleeful when he hugged her by his side while the paparazzi continued their fury.

 

His mind then flashed back to the present just as soon as he crossed the goal. Rick then presented his winning while he raised the golden trophy. However...he wasn't smiling at all. Jack took the second step while Bio Rex took the lower third. The audience went wild for the newcomer, as did Mr. Zero.

"Rick Wheeler has just scored his second victory in a row! This amazing rookie has come from nowhere! To dominate the circuit with his speed and his style. It looks like F-Zero fans have a new hero!"

Rick then gave a slight grin while the big screen magnified it.

Back at the base's main hall, Rick's expression was smack dab on a white magazine cover. Lucy just couldn't stop smiling at it. Until, the cocky punk took it away from her.

"Hey, that's mine, Jack!" the carrot top scorned.

The rocker wasn't impressed, but rather irritated. "It's bad enough I have to look at Wheeler's face at work. Now that smug, little mugger's face is everywhere."

Lucy snatched it back out of Jack's grip and scolded, "Agh! You should be grateful to Rick! If it wasn't for him, you would've placed fourth in that race instead of second!"

He was just as pompous as ever. "I don't need that hot dog's help; I 'm the best pilot on the circuit."

"If you mean the best on being obnoxious, then I agree 100%." 

"Huh." He just grumbled, as there was no way to win this argument. Rick then stepped in, interrupting the altercation.
"Hi, Rick!" Lucy greeted.

The jealous jockey retorted, "Well if it isn't the cover boy! Thanks for taking time between photo shoots to show up for your day job."

Rick responded in a grumpy manner, "I didn't have anything to DO with that magazine cover. They used my picture without my permission."

"Why can't you admit you love being an F-Zero superstar?" Jack mocked.

"I was just doing my job," he simply said before he turned and walked away.

At first, Jack was taken aback, but as soon as he was out of sight, he continued his tirade. "I'm glad I'm not him. That guy doesn't know how to be happy whenever he's a winner!"

Lucy responded, "I'd rather be a sore winner than a sore loser." She then hid her face, admiring the cover as she revoked, "Like you." That certainly got the Aussie's tongue.
 

Meanwhile, Tanaka was too busy admiring the Task Force's trophies, particularly Rick's as his face glistened and reflected off the metal. "If Wheeler keeps this up he's gonna rule F-Zero racing! It was a good thing we took him out of cold sleep. It was risky, but my gut told me to go for it."

The captain responded, "There's no doubt he has tremendous talent, I expect him to win a lot of first place trophies." Unlike the boss, she was more down-to-earth.

He just smiled more as he faced his more serious compatriot. "That's great! The more the merrier! I'll keep them in my office! So the chief can see them if he ever wants to come in to see me!"

"I think we have a big problem, Tanaka," she said more sternly.

John just didn't get the message. "You're right, Jody, this could be a problem." He grinned again, "But if I need more room for Wheeler's trophies, I can ask for a bigger office!"

Her voice rose from his rambling. "Wake up, Tanaka! The problem is that he's too successful!"

HIs became a little more somber, and clueless. "Too successful? But he's supposed to beat the bad guys. Isn't he?"

She reiterated their mission. "We're all here to defeat Dark Million, Tanaka. Since Wheeler is winning the prize money they want, he's become their #1 target. Black Shadow and his organization would stop at nothing until Wheeler has been taken out. For good! They can't afford to let him stay on the circuit and keep winning."

For once, Tanaka became just as strict as the cyborg. "Wheeler's crucial to the success of our mission. You've got to make sure Dark Million doesn't get to him."

She responded with a salute. "Consider it done!"

"Goody!" He did one back. Although, it wasn't long before the horndog continued to idolize the trophies again, just as soon as Jody left.
 

Within the distinctive spacecraft with the flat top and the pointed body at a desolate location, Zoda was steamed as he stomped around. He couldn't get his incompetent henchmen's failures off his mind. Bio Rex and Octoman were far too inferior to get rid of his nemesis. He followed a corridor to the garage as he saw an array of Death Soldiers operating on some machines, including his own, and even a pair of machines he did not recognize.

The first was a bright cerulean machine that had a long nose which ended with two blanch spikes protruding from the left and right, as well as a pattern of bones that looked like a spine. It had the #16 on it, as well as a small grey cockpit with no steering wheel and a pointed, white tail.

The last vehicle in the row was hot pink with black patches on it and a placid underside, along with a bright purple, crystal-shaped cockpit, a raised back end, and the #32 etched on its side. Zoda was pretty suspicious of it, though his associates looked at him funny while he approached.

"Those tin cans can't turn their backs on me!" In his hissy fit, he kicked the robots asunder, and he continued to follow the dark violet halls to the large main chamber. He plunged onto a rotating chair and undulated his leg a few times. Still, he was so uneasy. "There's nothing but losers around this place," his screechy voice echoing off the walls.

"I assume you include yourself..!" A vehement tone added to his monologue.

"Who asked who--!" The psycho's rambling was cut short as he gazed upon a massive hologram of, "Black Shadow..! I didn't realize you-!"

The Emperor of Brutality's face sneered, "I'm very disappointed in the outcome of the last two races!"

Zoda just closed his eyes as he grinned. "So am I. In my opinion that punk, Wheeler, got lucky twice in a row."

"Your opinion has no interest to me, Zoda! So keep quiet!" That remark made the assassin cringe. "This Wheeler has to be stopped! I was hoping you could do it, but apparently that's not the case." His eyes began to narrow, and through the reflection, Zoda noticed two more people shrouded in shadow as they wore hoods over their faces.

The evil ruler introduced a live skeleton. "This is Skull. The galaxy's most powerful sorcerer." He stepped forward and unveiled his bald, bony face. He snickered as his opal pupils shined.

"What's he s'posed to do?" Zoda asked in doubt.

"He's going to use his magic to stop Wheeler. By conjuring someone from Wheeler's past."

He then faced his boss in curiosity, "Who's that?"

The undead just snickered, "Heh heh heh heh heh. Someone he hasn't seen in 150 years!"

The demon growled, "Proceed with the plan immediately, Skull! Zoda. You can go to the garage and maintain the machines."

The dark magician continued to cackle, while his close associate still had her face hidden. They barely saw her lips curl and her teeth gleam as she grinned. The new recruit seemed to admire herself as well as the sinister surroundings and her intimidating boss. Soon enough, the cronies got to work.
 

The Dragon Bird was cruising through the Brooklyn Bridge amongst a sunset shining beside him. The scenery was pleasant, but he seemed to be distracted, and lost, as his mind went back a century and a half once more...

He was involved in another race, the semifinals prior to the Big Apple tournament. He remembered it strongly as he gained the upper hand while his opponents gave way when they ran out of fuel. He crossed the finish line first and he leapt out of the racecar as Haruka met him.

"You did it!" The crowd was going wild as they embraced each other.

A few hours later, it was evening, and the couple were sitting at an outdoor table overlooking the gleaming city. Two fine glasses of red wine were laid.

"You were amazing out there today, Rick." Haruka said cheerfully.

"Thanks, Haruka."

"One more win, and you'll be the top racer of the year!"

"We'll see." Rick said enthusiastically. "There are a lot of great racers out there, Haruka. And my luck can't hold up forever."

"It's not luck, Rick. You're the hardest working driver on the circuit. You deserve to be number one." It's no wonder since she's been with him day in and day out. He was always maintaining his car and practicing tirelessly to keep the gears in check, and beating his personal best times, even honing his skills as an amateur.

"Thanks. That means a lot." He couldn't have felt more fondly.

"Everybody feels the same way I do."

"I couldn't have gotten this far if it wasn't for your encouragement, Haruka." This was mostly true since she was the one who was always at his corner, win or lose. She was not only like a supporter to him, but also his topmost rival giving him some pointers.

"That's sweet."

"Haruka...winning the championship would be great." Rick reached out and grabbed her hands. She returned the pressure since he was serious but hopeful. "But I got my sights set on a much more important prize." They looked deep into each other's eyes.

 

As the memory faded, Rick was sitting on a vacant bench at the exact same spot; however, the outlet was removed, as was the table and perches themselves.

He stared out to the barren site.

"I lost..." he uttered in his depression since he lost his previous life and Haruka. His memories brought nothing but pangs of deep sadness. He hardly had enough energy to head to the Falcon House; he really needed someone to talk to of his angsts. As he climbed out of the cockpit, he never noticed someone lurking in the shadows.

The Skull just chuckled, "It's showtime."
 

He and the assailant hardly recognized the Silver Comet parking beside the Dragon Bird; Tinsel actually followed Rick here. She just couldn't help chasing after him; even she knew he was as lonely and saddened as he walked in. It was no doubt she was obsessed with him, even when she admitted to Dr. Stewart privately that she has a thing for him.

After that incident with Truman about a week ago, Tinsel had been warming up more to Rick. So much so, that she wanted to make him a list of tracks within Mute City, in order to improve his skills as an F-Zero pilot. Following the inventory from the easiest to the slightly difficult, he was able to conquer nearly every track, plus she had been his own racing partner besides. Since then, Tinsel had become a more promising cadet for the squad, attempting to improve their most topnotch pilot. With her assistance, he was able to win the previous two races.

But that all changed a couple weeks later. Tinsel found out Rick won two Grand Prixes in a row thanks to her; he was described as unstoppable. Unfortunately, Rick was just as vulnerable when Tinsel listened in on his angsts. He never felt happy taking these victories, all because he was suffering from survivor's guilt. He couldn't stop thinking of the life he once had 150 years ago. Particularly, his vengeance for Zoda, and his lost relationship with his beloved, Haruka.
He became somber, but later absent and depressed. This also made his mind drift even when he was on the job. Tinsel never saw her best friend like this before, and she wished there was something she could do to help heal his deep, emotional wounds. The manifestation was too much for them to bare.

She then followed the Dragon Bird, wondering why Rick disappeared so suddenly. She then heard a conversation between him and Burt. 

The boss just loaded some dishes and closed the washer just before his frequent customer walked in. The door let out some jingles. "Hi, Rick." He wasn't expecting him this late as he took a seat. 

"What'll it be?"

"The usual, Burt..." He let out a voice that was hardly a whisper, and just as low, showing his melancholy.

"Coming up." Burt went to work as he brewed a sweet coffee for him. He then read his face. "Say, how come you look so down, Rick?"

He hardly lifted his face as his brows were still drooping. Still, he didn't really get out of his unhappy flunk.

Burt just remained cheerful. "You should be happy. You just won your second victory in a row!"

"Yeah, big deal.." That praise didn't faze him at all. Instead, Rick just turned away as his face became more torn.

"Rick, eh..." His close friend couldn't find the words to say. Suddenly, the door jingled again as three patrons wearing weird, neon outfits emerged. They were awaiting service until...

"I'm afraid you're too late. I'm just closing up for the night."

The trio mumbled irritably under their breaths as they left. "Sorry, folks. Have a good night." Burt closed the door, turned out most of the lights including the one in the entryway, and even flipped the sign from Open to Closed. It actually shown a tiny blemish of Capt. Falcon's face on either side.

The racer was actually surprised by that kind gesture. "Thanks, Burt."

He laid a hand on his shoulder. "I think you need some time to talk. Why don't you start from the beginning." He then walked behind the counter and washed some dishes as he listened.

Over a steaming cup and saucer of the sweet coffee given to Rick, he asked him with an expression that was too sad for words, "Burt, ever lost somebody you really...cared about?"

"Yeah." the boss answered as he was drying a plate.

"We had our whole lives ahead of us. Until I got that call on my radio..." 
 

His mind reflected back to the time when he was chasing down Zoda as an escaped convict. He was racing in a brown sedan through a bunch of alleyways, heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Rick was right on his tail, until the insane inmate managed to use his semi-automatic and shot off his door from the hinges. He kicked it off, and the slab was heading straight to Rick's windshield. His whole body was destroyed from the fatal shards of glass, then he was put into cryo-hibernation for a century and a half.
 

Burt was amazed and empathetic by this. "It must've been a big shock when they got you out of cold sleep." 

"They said I've been asleep for 150 years. But I couldn't believe it, so I rushed out to propose to Haruka. When I got to the bridge..." Rick paused for a few moments. "I can't stop thinking about her, Burt. I can't get her out of my mind. And I'm not sure I want to even if I knew how."

"I know it hurts. But you have to let this go."

"How can I? How can I forget how Zoda destroyed me?!" He slammed his right fist on the counter. 

"Everything I had... Everything...is gone." He looked at his wrinkled glove, thinking his hand was bleeding. It wasn't, but Tinsel from outside looking in knew his heart was.

That really sliced her nerve strings. Thinking she should give him some space, and hearing all she needed to hear, she held back her tears as her face lowered, and she drove to the apartment complex they shared.

And then, his heart hurt as he recalled the walk down to the jewelry store.

It was close to a cinema, and Haruka just saw a window sale of a mannequin hand showing a ring with a delicate diamond shining from it. She suggested it would make the perfect gift, whether Rick qualifies or not. He assented it and they walked off. Late that night, just as the outlet was closing up, he bought it and been wanting to save it for a very special occasion.

Still, Burt gave him a fresh new cup since the last one went cold while Rick reflected. He still didn't have the mood to drink, just stared at the brew while the fluorescent light reflected and shimmered from it.
 

While riding in her Silver Comet, Tinsel tuned into an oldie from her audio Blu-Ray already loaded inside her stereo. The song suited Rick's lament very well. It played in an E-cord, the drum tapped along, a bass played in conjunction with a guitar, and two guys expressed their pain.

"A World without Love" by Peter and Gordon really described Rick's sadness quite nicely. This was actually a song made way back in 1964, and she and her family were huge music buffs. It came to show that they weren't the only traditionalists around. As Tinsel heard more, she became in tune on how much it spoke about heartbreak and despair.

It seemed the guys singing the chorus and the first verse were in denial. Despite their yearning for someone close to them, they tried to live on as best they could; yet still they hurt inside. During that time, they hope desperately for anyone to give them the love and support they needed to live, whether it'd be from the repercussions of death or separation. To Rick, this reminded Tinsel on how he depicted Haruka after 150 years.

There was a brief instrumental break, and Tinsel found the song to be more relatable by the minute. It repeated the bridge then the chorus, saying about Rick on how much he misses her, and is anxious on seeing her again by any means.

By the time the sonata ended, Tinsel parked the Comet in the flat's lot. She cut off the engine and sulked. The night was just enough to hide her emotions of sorrow, empathy, and worry. She remembered that she was in total disbelief when Rick said he was asleep for 150 years; she knew already that only first-degree criminals were sentenced for permanent cold sleep in Planet Alcatran, but he was far more luckier than them. He may have survived that accident, but he was only half alive. Losing everything and everyone he cherished was really taking its toll on him.

And Tinsel wishes that one day, Rick would heal his scars, and find a sympathetic friend that would guide him through the dense fog of his depression; even if that kindred friend happens to be her. She hopes he won't do anything to put his life in anymore danger, as if Dark Million's assaults weren't bad enough. Tinsel overheard he's now their #1 target, and she was willing to protect Rick from those threats, no matter what Zoda, or Black Shadow, or Blood Falcon might throw at him, or if his endurance should fail and let his life take a turn for the worst.
 

What he didn't notice that as he was returning to the Dragon Bird, there was a phantom of sorts with protruding bone and wearing a large, dark cloak; almost looked as if it belonged to the Grim Reaper himself! Rick somehow sensed it, grabbed it by the cloak, then the hood fell off, though he was never startled. He just let go and walked away.

"You are haunted..." Rick's face rose abruptly. The intruder continued his mockery, "Haunted by a ghost. A girl." Rick looked behind with stern eyes.  The Skull then hovered behind him and reached both hands to his head, "Let me ease your mind." As if he was about to put a curse on him in order to soothe his inner turmoil. Yet still, Rick felt irritated, then he threw him off with such force. The sudden exertion was nothing to him as he laughed again, then faded away.
Rick rubbed his left cheek. "Bonehead." He then dashed away in his Dragon Bird.

Although, as he was looking from on a rooftop, the breathing horror cackled as he let out a palm holding a few strands of Rick's brown hair. This was what he wanted for his deadly spell. "Thank you."

Hours later, it was late at night, just several hours before sunrise. Nevertheless, Rick was sound asleep from the mounting fatigue and despair, until some chirping caused him to stir. His exhausted body felt like an anvil, yet he squirmed to his side and his hand touched the wall close to his bed. A screen flashed and it was Jody as earnest as ever.

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid we have an emergency."

Rick rose up quickly, "Huh, what's wrong?"

"We just got a call from a woman who claims she is defecting from the Dark Million organization."

"Where do I find her?"

"She's downtown at Fullington, Broadway. I'm sure Dark Million is looking for her too." She then grinned in confidence, "But if you move fast, you can get to her first."

"No problem. I'm on my way." He rose out of bed and was on the pursuit.

He followed a beacon upon his GPS; at least that destination hasn't changed. "She should be around here..!" He then saw a woman holding a basket in front of her and cringing in fear within an opaque alley. He then climbed out. "Excuse me, miss. Do you need help?" He hesitated as a sudden memory of Haruka's face came back to him; instantly, he noticed she had more bangs than she did.

"How did you find me?" she queried, her gentle voice interrupting his reverie.

"Uh--sorry. I'm from the Galaxy Police. They got your call at headquarters." She smiled that someone was able to receive her distress call, until a shot rang out between them! Rick immediately grabbed her hand. "Let's go!" Together, they both ran for the Dragon Bird as some bullets rained close to them! Then, the machine roared off.

"That went well..." The Skull cackled from another nearby rooftop.

The girl seeking asylum was still tremoring in the back chamber, though Rick assured her, "It's ok, you're safe now, miss." He looked back at her grim expression for a brief moment, wondering if she was... Nevertheless, he continued toward his flat.

He offered the escapee to hang out at his kitchen till the dust would settle. He walked in with a sweet coffee mug with a saucer, both for her and himself. "I'm afraid I'm not much of a cook but my coffee's not so bad."

"Thank you." She took in a few sips while sitting on the black futon.

"I don't think you told me your name, miss." He asked still standing next to her.

"I'm Sophia."

"I heard Dark Million's after you."

She nodded, next she closed her eyes as she recapped her bitter experience. "My father was a captain of the transport cruiser that traveled around the galaxy. He brought my mother and me along on most trips. But during one voyage...Black Shadow attacked the ship! He seized all the cargo and took my parents and me prisoner. He threatened to hurt us unless we worked for him." Her mind went to the present, her face full of remorse. "I knew what I was doing was wrong, so when I lost both of my parents a year ago I was looking for a chance to get away."

"I'm very sorry, Sophia..." His face was just as saddened as hers. He then took a sip and looked at her face again for a good long while.

"Is something wrong?" she asked.

"No, you just remind me of somebody."

"Really? Who?"

"Oh, just somebody I used to know." His body tensed as he recalled something. "Ah! Sorry, I forgot. I still need to tell my boss I brought you here." He put down his coffee and immediately stormed upstairs.

He didn't notice Sophia sneering and smiling as he departed.

Rick was on his PC, frustrated as he punched around the keys. "Ergh, I forgot to contact headquarters! Lucy told me how to do it but I wasn't paying any attention."

She snuck in from behind. Only a shadow approached him as her voice became deeper, more menacing. "Rick, who was the woman you used to know..?"

"Huh?" His eyes shot open.
 

Little did he know that Sophia was carrying out the Skull's plot. He snickered in a sinister chamber and he was sitting between a pair of tall blazing torches. "The moment you utter her name, you are doomed. It's Haruka. Just say the name. Say it, and your life is over!" He began to entangle the hair strands onto a card showing Rick's proud face on it. "You cannot escape your past..!" Just then, he held it against one of the torches, and the card began to incinerate quickly, never harming the conjurer's hand.
 

"Won't you tell me her name?" she asked in a soothing, sinister tone, all smiles.

That struck a warm cord in him. "Her name was Haruka." Just as soon as he said it, his chest had a deep, sharp pain, and his throat closed up completely. The air passages were blocked. 

"Ergh...I...can't...breathe..!" He fell on all fours, much to the lethal lady's delight.

"Good. The spell is working."

"What spell?" He faced his enemy.

"The spell that will destroy you!" She tossed off her clothing, revealing a suit of armor complete with a chest plate, shoulder pads, and leggings. "You sealed your fate when you said the name!" She even took a shiny dagger that gleamed in the dim light.

"You witch! Agh!"

He dove out of the way before she made her mark. He held onto the mattress, then leapt away again, leaving her to stab another blank. Rick was growing weaker by the second, and he was using a metallic drawer for support. But his weight and dissipating strength caused both of them to topple over.

"Don't move!" She flipped him onto his back and raised the knife aloft. "Now you'll be with your darling forever!" She drew it for his heart, and Rick grimaced and looked away. His eyes laid upon the fallen velvet case where the engagement ring was. It shimmered and for a moment, they both stopped. Rick stared in the eyes of his assassin as she struggled to drive the dagger through him. Even as he held her arm at bay, he wanted to believe there was just an ounce of good in her.

"Rick..?"

With his last ounce of energy, Rick managed to toss her back. She landed on her hands and gazed at her suffocating target. His vision was fading, and so was his life force, while he grew more blanch.

"Rick?" 

From the commotion, Tinsel followed into his apartment. The first thing she saw was him, lying lifelessly on the floor. "Rick!" She ran up to him as she screeched for him. Then, there was the mysterious, deadly dame whom she saw jump through the large window. She landed on the roof of the Sonic Phantom, and they raced off into the darkness. Tinsel ran to the shattered window and her breath was shallow, "Who the hell was that..?"

Without a second thought, she returned to her fallen friend. She then observed how pale he was. She tried to revive him after she hurriedly put a pillow beneath his damp head. Checking for his vitals, she could tell he wasn't breathing, and his pulse was remarkably weak.

She ripped apart his white undershirt, lifted his head to open his airwaves, and then she began to hold his nose while using her other hand to open his mouth. She began to take in a deep inhale then exhaled twice into his mouth. She checked his vitals again, still no breath, and she repeated the procedure. Tinsel also kept on begging for Rick to show a sign of life, thinking she could lose him forever. As quick as a candle, Rick's life just slipped away from him.

"Rick! Rick, please!!" Tinsel tried to shake the lifeless body awake, but there was no response. 

However...something else happened that she didn't know about.
 

"Rick. Rick!" As he thought he was dead, he heard a familiar, cheery voice call for him, then he saw a small light at the end of a tunnel. His body was very weak, yet somehow, that beacon gave him a small ounce of strength. Curious, he gradually followed it.

He shielded his eyes after he reached it. It grew brighter until he was immersed into paradise. Beautiful clouds surrounded him, and beneath him. The air was calm and pleasant, and the sun shined gently on his skin. That atmosphere soothed all the pain he had, both physically and mentally.

He stood up and there was Haruka, smiling at him after she turned.

"Haruka..?" He slowly approached her, and they suddenly embraced for a brief period of time. It was as if time had stood still. "I'm so glad to see you again after all these years..." He was so serene that his voice echoed his peacefulness while he caressed her.

She just held onto him, firmly. "Rick..." her smile faded. "It's not your time."

He immediately broke off and was at a loss for words after hearing it. It was as if his heart dropped and shattered. He waited for the last century and a half to be reunited with his long, lost love, and now this..?

"Don't worry, Rick. I will always stay with you. Just remember, that I'll be watching over you like I did before you slept. I promise, I'll see you again when the time comes..."

He recalled the woman who had a stunning resemblance to Haruka. As he was losing consciousness, he saw her crash through a window, shattering the glass. He didn't notice Tinsel being there as she noticed the commotion from the other room. The mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was enough for Rick as he eventually coughed and sputtered, abruptly bringing him back to Earth.

As he opened his eyes, he barely saw Tinsel laying over him at the dark room in his flat. She was close to tears. "Rick...Are you all right?"

He barely registered her hoarse voice. "I...think so..." 

Tinsel collapsed on his stomach as she tried to catch her breath. "Thank goodness." Suddenly, she started to sob, grateful and shaken up since her best friend was given a second chance of life. He never told her, nor anyone, of his second near-death experience.

Soon, she composed herself, and Rick explained he was unable to contact headquarters, ignoring the searing pain. She offered to write it down for him, and then she did just that, recapping the horrific events, barely keeping her sanity. Feds were on their way, though she decided to watch over him throughout the remainder of the evening. Before she returned with the torn blanket covering him though, Rick already passed out, and soon did she minutes later as she laid beside him.
 

By morning, the reinforcements arrived, as did the team. Tinsel and Rick slowly rose up, their bodies feeling like being weighed down by cement. A couple of the officers carried Rick to the nearby futon. While a few more were repairing the broken portion of his rearview window. Meanwhile, Lucy was tending Rick's injured arm.

"You'd better take it easy, Rick. Winning an armless lady isn't what it used to be."

"Tell me about it--ergh! Easy..!"

Jody then marched up to the duo. "Whoever she is, she must be working for Dark Million."

"I agree," he replied with a nod.

She then faced her teammates; Jack, EAD, Clash, Stewart, and Tinsel listened in, "As we win more races, Black Shadow will try everything he can to stop us. Now we'll have to stay on guard on and off the racetrack. Our lives depend on it. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Jody!" They've all assented in unison.

When Rick finally got some of his strength back, he was looking out through the sealed window, admiring the fact that his late beloved would always be deep within his heart. "Thanks for looking out for me. And for this..." He continued to look at the diamond ring twinkling in the sunlight.

That was a heartwarming feeling for Rick, knowing there was someone who loved him both living and dead.

From that moment on, Tinsel knew she'd be the one who would cure her close comrade, and be there for him if anything should go awry, just as she did that night. She made a personal, silent vow to do so, and she would always help him fight his treacherous demons every day.

A/N: Like I said, this is without doubt my all-time favorite episode of GP Legend, aside from the remastered pilot. It was right then and there when I grew closer to liking Rick. I can actually relate to the guy w/ his survivor's guilt as well as losing someone, cause I actually lost my mom when I was young.

It impacted me so much that I've actually created the songfic, Rick's Lament, as well; feel free to check it out. I had also made an extra fan made verse to the Cat Stevens classic, Moonshadow, since I can associate it with Miss Killer's machine; I doubt anyone else has ever thought of that. I hope I can make an AMV someday, and it'd be about her w/ The Cars song, Stranger Eyes... A lot of elements aspired me so much from that one episode, but it's mostly Rick and his tragic past. I feel he's a perfect example as a hero as he has feelings of vulnerability, and people aren't invincible. And he doesn't even know it's actually his late girlfriend..! Hence the events for a later fic... Poor guy , I can only wish that he (and maybe Luna Ryder) can eventually become Canon Immigrants for the entire F-Zero series. I can treasure that English Dub forever.

 

 

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TheIkranRider

I'm gonna take a break and make an original theory story; I came up w/ this after I saw the Nostalgia Critic's review of Sailor Moon. Not a fan. Let's just say I was trying to settle some pointless dispute involving Rick's name...

Ryu's Immigration

A/N: I know, I know, the pilot's name is actually Ryu Suzaku and he had the American 4Kids name, Rick Wheeler. And they always say that 4Kids sucked since they sugarcoat and Americanize everything and not embrace the Japanese culture very much. A lot of people prefer the original, but I grew up with the other name, after all he's still the same guy, right? But what many consumers may not know is that he was based off of Ryu from Street Fighter, and then his name drastically altered for US audiences. So here's what I'm gonna do, I'm going to try and take on both sides. I've been thinking about this for a short while now, so I'm glad to put it out there. And one more thing, this is only a personal theory and it's not really an official fact, so it's non-canon.

At the Falcon House, Burt was serving the usual to his common customer, Rick. Clank was confidently running the place by his side, and Tinsel was sitting beside her best friend.

She's been asking a lot of Rick's past out of sheer curiosity and interest, and each answer was more fascinating than the last. Then, it came one day when Rick told her that he actually wasn't called that, and he showed her his ID card, which indicated that it had two names, instead of one. There was his usual title, Rick Wheeler, but also an alternative, Ryu Suzaku. She guessed it was some Japanese name, and she was pretty much correct. She asked how he managed to get both tags.

It was dated back to 1941, when his ancestors were discreetly moving away from their home land ruled by pure dominance and corruption. The emperor of Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor and tension was building all over the Pacific. It was a part of the Imperial Japanese's conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya for Japan to take over Southeast Asia without interference and resistance. They nuked the US as an unofficial warning and threat to keep their military at bay. The invasion of Manchuria and the Pacification of Manchukuo also took place for their goal on expansion and plunder. The Empire of Japan surrendered and ended World War II after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and a declaration of war was sounded by the Soviet Union as they took over the Japanese-held Manchuria.

Because of the endless bloodshed and tyranny, as well as an act of protest against their unfair practices, including that the age of consent was at a disturbing 12, they decided to live in a more prosperous life in America instead. By the time they arrived within the California shores, however, they were forced to live in a concentration camp. And until the second World War ended in September 2, 1945, they were free to leave. So their next destination was to Ellis Island.

The husband refugee was the first person that carried the name, Ryu Suzaku. Rick's distant family went with their surname for several generations until World War II was coming to a close. So by then, they did the unthinkable. They had decided to give it up and go with a new last name, Wheeler. And the fact that his parents were into racing, as was he since he was a toddler, it was pretty fitting. Aside from that, they didn't surrender their ancient customs, and Rick had quite a few. He occasionally wore a white robe and works out in it from time to time, he still has a huge appetite for Asian food, particularly Ramen noodles, being and dealing with Samurai Goroh somehow reminded him of his roots in a bizarre way, and he was deeply fascinated with Haruka, who also had her family relocated to the Great American Melting Pot when she was a child. Finally, during an anniversary of their bloodline's horrid fate, Rick's parents passed on the name of his common ancestor to him, bestowing him as Ryu Suzaku II.

Tinsel was fascinated by the revelation, as she never saw him in that type of attire. She more or less thought he was of the Brooklyn type since he grew up there before it was even established as Mute City. According to records, his family 150 years ago was only 1/8 of Japanese blood, that was why it didn't seem noticeable. Regardless, she felt it was intriguing to know about his heritage, especially going as far back as to the late 20th century. She wished she could attain more knowledge of her own personal background, though she wasn't sure if she was Polish, Hungarian, or even German. Her mind was at a complete fog, as her own family weren't really traditionalists.

Nevertheless, it was fun to listen to. Tinsel stated to Rick that his family does have a budding legacy; and she was definitely glad that he was able to share the tale since it's possible that he may be the only one carrying the torch after surviving Zoda's fatal accident 150 years ago. She was certain that Haruka would be very proud of him, as his parents and ancestors. They embraced for a brief period and he hoped that Tinsel would find the answers on her genealogy. She just wanted to see where she came from, other than that it was of little concern to her. Even Clank wanted to get himself involved in the mystery, solving his own past as well as his friends'.

In any case, the future looked a lot brighter for Rick Wheeler. His friends are more than willing to lighten the weight on all the pressure that his life and living legacy shall provide.

A/N: One reason for a name change is people might pick a given name that is very American and sounds somewhat like their original name. It's also possible that an ancestor could have used that same name change, not an inspector of Ellis Island. I've decided to add Ryu Suzaku II to symbolize Rick using one of his descendants' names. It may not be possible for an immigrant to use both names and switch them once a name has been chosen.

I came up with this story on a whim and I decided to wing it right after I saw the Nostalgia Critic talk about Sailor Moon. From there, I received a disturbing fact, that the Sailor Scouts are actually 14 years, not the presumed 16, and the age of consent happens to be 12. It is a part of Japanese culture, but I'd rather have it like we have it here in the States, or better yet when people are married first. I was appalled after finding that out, hence one of the reasons why Rick's ancestors left, despite the war.

Also, this was done to hopefully solve a pointless debate as to which name is better for Rick/Ryu. So I've decided to try and appeal both sides of the international coin. Being that I'm a fan of Rick Wheeler and the anime. I thought this was a pretty good theory as to have both names, instead of one. Hopefully, I'll get back on the band wagon for Ending it All, so take care.

 

 

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TheIkranRider

Tanaka in Trouble

A/N: Alright, this was a request for my good friend, PrincessGumballWatterson777, as she wanted me to do a rewrite of the last English dub for the F-Zero anime, Target Tanaka. Damn you 4Kids TV for squandering it and making it get cancelled!

Anyway, there would be some slight changes for obvious reasons. Onward!


The recent event began just when the holiday season was about to take place. Christmas was only a few weeks away, and already Mute City was bustling with the festivities. From the busy, congested streets to the endless strings of lights, the hectic holidays were truly upon the world. And for the upcoming occasion, there was a package being delivered to the home base of the Elite Mobile Task Force.

Meanwhile, their chief officer, John Tanaka, was snoozing in his lounge chair at his oval office, unaware of the mysterious visitor. Instead he was dreaming on being with Kate Alen, the black blues singer that was once a target of Dark Million not long ago. In his delirious mind, they looked great as a couple, though everybody knew who the ACTUAL lover boy was. Still, he was so deep in his slumber.

"Katie, I love you..." he sighed.

Just then, a chirp interrupted his reverie, to the point where he startled off his chair and fell as he clumsily climbed onto it. Finally on the next try, he managed to retrieve his balance and answered the call. Sure enough, it was Jody displaying on the large flat screen.

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, Tanaka."

"No, uh, I was just doing some brainstorming," he bashfully smiled while twiddling his fingers.

"I just want to let you know that none of the data chips have shown up on the streets yet."

His face turned stern for once. "Right, it's a real setback for Dark Million. If they can't sell on what they steal, it'll hurt their abilities to fund their plans."

"I'll check back in with you if anything changes."

By the time the receiver went dead, Tanaka began to sweat as he rubbed his face.

Meanwhile, the strange deliveryman wearing a turtle shell with an engraving in the back met up with a couple cops outside. In fact, he almost looked like an anthropomorphic reptile with his scaly, eerie green skin.

"Hey, where are you going?" one of the guards spoke.

The stranger hesitated, then he replied in a distinctive voice, "I have an important package to be delivered right away."
The first patrolman got his urgency. He then smiled and volunteered, "I'll have to stop it by the mail room so you could leave it with me and I'll drop it off."

"I'll need his signature for the person addressed to. Company policy. It's for the head director, John Tanaka."

The two officers looked at each other. Then one of them offered, "Ok, go ahead."

"Thanks a lot." The pairing escorted the carrier toward the elevator and ascended to the utmost floor.
 

Back at the office, Tanaka was still daydreaming about something he couldn't get off his mind, He was just combing his hair back when he thought aloud, "I can't believe I'm going to Kate Alen's concert." His arms were outstretched, then he had his hands clasped together as he held them toward his cheek. "I've never dated a celebrity before, but I sure would make an exception for her." As he stood, he gazed over to a large wall poster of the black pop star wearing a police uniform, navy blue hat and all, though it was obvious it had been photoshopped. "Don't worry, darling. We'll be together soon."

He then fantasized wearing a formal, pink outfit standing within a huge crowd as she sang, "Love Rules the Universe." He then went over to the poster and began smooching her chest. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and Tanaka nearly got off his feet.

He immediately backed off and cried, "Who could THAT be!?" He tried to keep his composure as he rushed back to his perch. "C-c-come in."

Alone, the peculiar package man marched up toward Tanaka and his large table. "Director Tanaka?" he asked holding the same large, white box.

"Yeah that's me." he said casually.

"Package for you." The green alien lend it on top of his desk.

John just looked over it funny. "This is odd. I was never expecting a package. I think it'll blow up when I open it," he joked with a grin.

That caught the weird deliveryman off guard. He knows.

John's doubt broke, "Eh, I do love surprises." He then saw the attendant turn away. "Wait. You're not going anywhere, mister. You don't think you're gonna get away from me that easy, do you?" He stood up with the box in his extended arms. "Turn around and take this back."

The guy turned around and took the package away. Sweat was breaking from his head and his yellow eyes narrowed. What is he gonna do now? His mind then shifted as a small drawer opened.

John accused the strange dealer with a miniature, shiny blue rifle pointing at him, "Nice try, ace. But I knew you were trouble the second your shell walked through the door."

As soon as he went back into the present, he started to panic, turned on his heels, and ran off.

"Wait a second, don't you want me to sign for this package?" the officer asked.

The mysterious mailman wandered through the halls with his green cap covering his face, until he was abruptly halted by someone.

"Hold it." Jody stopped the intruder in his tracks. "Now turn around slowly." He still never obliged. "Do it!" Just then, the reptilian creature took off his long, heavy tan cape and revealed his true colors. He pointed a colorful bazooka and opened fire. Jody jumped out of the way and she shot her own weapon. But the stranger leapt and crashed out of the window and fell several feet down. However, he was prepared as he opened a parachute and glided over the city streets.

Jody ran straight for her boss who was still admiring the package. "Tanaka! Throw that package out the window!"

Tanaka stammered, then Jody tackled him to the ground just seconds before the box landed, rolled to the side, and exploded next to a wall! After a few moments, the smoke cleared and she slowly got on her feet. She held out a key fob and spoke into it, "Security to the Director's Office."

"Eh, my ears are ringing. I hope I'll be able to hear Kate sing tonight," he moaned as he still laid there just as Lucy, EAD, Jack, and Tinsel showed up.

"Hey! Hey, what happened?! Are you alright?"

John stood there proudly, "You can all relax. He didn't get me." Unfortunately he didn't get the attention he was expecting. Instead, they rushed passed him toward their associate.

She informed the group. "I'm afraid our deliveryman just flew away."

Jack gave her the scoop. "Rick went after him. We just came to make sure you were ok." John sighed deeply.

"Lousy creep." The top pilot was on the terrorist's tail, though he just hijacked a vehicle from a civilian after startling him while he leapt onto the front bender.

"Hey, come back here!" he cried as he sped off. Although he was amazed by the immense speed the F-Zero machine was going as it chased after the suspect upon the busy highroads.

Without his cap, he gazed at the rear view mirror, noticing his pursuer. He used his recklessness as he bashed away some passing vehicles. Rick tried his might to avoid damage then he boosted to catch up. The criminal never hesitated to shoot his firearm.

Rick just boasted as he grinned proudly, "It's gonna take more than that to stop the Dragon Bird!" Unfortunately, within a few more shots, the machine started to give way and swerve. He immediately pulled over to the side and watched over the guardrail while the assassin leapt onto a soaring spacecraft. The shape was recognized as one of Dark Million's cruisers. Rick went out of the cockpit and observed the convict escaping. "Who is this guy?" he wondered.
 

At the garage, Dr. Clash looked up as he was doing repairs. Jody remained somber when Rick appeared before her. "He still got away?"

"Yeah, I'm sorry. How's Tanaka?"

"He's just a little shaken up, but he just doesn't realize how lucky he was today."

"Yeah. That was a real close call."

"Well, I just don't get it."

"What, Jack?" Lucy asked.

"Out of the whole police force, why he'd go after Tanaka?"

"Perhaps the attacker went to the wrong office, or maybe it was a case of mistaken identity." EAD theorized, as intelligent as an android could get.

"Or maybe it was Zoda's way telling us to back off because we're preventing him from selling the data chips he stole." The captain added.

"He thinks if he gets rid of the boss, we'll give up." Rick concluded.

Dr. Stewart walked in, with Tinsel close to his side. "We've got something, Jody." The medico held out a tablet showing the deadly killer's image. "I read through a description in the database an ID of the attacker. Apparently he's one of the top shooters in the galaxy." Jody took the device and scanned over the sketchy lifeform. Lucy went to her side. "He's extremely intelligent, and ruthless."

"That's Pico!" Tinsel beamed. "I know him from anywhere! Dr. Stewart and I encountered him during the first F-Zero Grand Prix! He's the pilot of the Wild Goose, and he's a former member of the Polipoto army. It's a special unit stationed in Tortiz 3, specifically in Death Wind and the Devil's Forest." A few flashbacks racing against him rushed through Tinsel's mind. She went on as she recovered, "He's definitely one of the most nefarious gunmen in the universe, and he was rumored to cause that Horrific Accident."

The doc continued, "Once he has a target in his sights he won't give up till he hits it." Tinsel then remembered the time when Pico attempted and failed to set off explosives in every F-Zero machine during a race if they should go above or below the red zone; luckily she called her Duelist friends, Yugi and Joey, in such short notice, and Capt. Falcon was able to deactivate the blimp the gunman operated.

"We'll have to make sure Tanaka's safe until we find Pico and stop him." Jody commanded.
 

She then guided the clueless chief to a discreet room that hardly had any windows. It was only another small office complete with a table, a few chairs, and a couple fresh plants. "Feeling better, Tanaka?"

He simply bragged, "Well, I feel that my head's in a bell tower but other than that I'm ok."

"Pico won't give up just because he failed to get you on the first try. That's why I'm putting you on 24-hour protection."

This clearly wasn't what he wanted. "Ugh, does that mean you're gonna be following me around all the time?"

"It'll be much more safer and practical to keep you in here." EAD said. Lucy wasn't too far from the group.

"But this place doesn't have a bed. How am I supposed to get any sleep?"

"You use a chair like you do in your office." Jody grinned,

Tanaka sighed deeply. "Eh... That means I'm gonna miss the concert."

Jody wasn't sure what he was rambling about. "What?"

He tried to immediately cover his tracks, but it did no good. "Ah-nothing, Jody. Nothing." He sulked as he walked toward the blinds, just about to open them.

"Tanaka!" His close associate stopped him. "If you would keep out, Pico would sneak in, and that would give him a chance for some target practice."

John faced the closed windows again. Although his demeanor changed almost instantly to glee. "I'm gonna get to you somehow Kate!" He pointed a finger toward the glass.

From the outside, Pico noticed him as he spotted through the magnifying lenses on his cannon. "He spotted me instantly..!" he said as he backed off.

Hours later, Lucy closed the tall, opaque doors to John's new hideaway. He continued to lament as he leaned on them. "Now I won't be able to see Kate because of that stupid stalker. Ohh…" The out-of-luck man dragged his feet toward the lavender couch. "Her manager was going to introduce her to me backstage after the show." He stretched backward. "There must be some way for me to get away from here so I could see Kate tonight." From his peripheral vision, he saw a stack of turquoise boxes stacked up. "Hm? Wait a second..." A stunning idea struck him like lightning. "I WILL see Kate tonight!" he responded in ecstasy and got to work.
 

Meanwhile in a desolate shed, Zoda was leading a gang of Death Soldiers as they carried a bunch of big cases full of the stolen bounty. Octoman and Bio Rex were among them. "As soon as the trucks are loaded up with our stolen data chips, we'll hit the road."

"Where are we taking that stuff, Zoda?" the cephalopod asked.

"Straight to the Mute City Space Port."

"The Space Port?" the genetically-engineered tyrannosaur snorted.

"But luckily for us there's a luxury cruiser docked there that's scheduled to leave the port tonight."

The six-armed henchman wondered, "But Zoda, I thought you want to sell those chips not go on vacation."

His grin spread wider, "The cops won't be looking for us on the cruise so that's how we'll make our getaway."

"Our luggage would be the data chips. And we'll sell them off planet. You are a genius, Zoda."

"I know, I know!" He started to make his signature maniacal laugh. Two massive dark grey trucks pulled away with the quartet and the chips inside.
 

Minutes later, at Gate 3, two deliverymen were carrying a very big case, almost weighing close to a ton. "This is heavy. I wonder what's in it."

"Whatever it is, it's fragile. Just be careful not to drop it."

The guys accidentally did just that. The package landed with a thud and an "Ow!"

One of the carriers startled, "Hey, did it just let out a scream?"

They managed to board it in a carry van en route to Kate's concert. "This is a rushed delivery for the cruise ship, Diamond Star, at the Port Town Space Port."

They didn't know someone smiling wryly was already in it. "Hm hm. Sometimes you gotta think inside the box." The stowaway, John Tanaka, was so thrilled with himself. Although the cramped space eventually became too much for him. He was running short of air and wiggle room as he struggled to break free. "I can't get out!" Luckily, the van hit a speed bump, causing the box to roll down the road and burst open.

Seconds later, a nearby taxi cab pulled up. Tanaka immediately got in it. Little did he know, the driver was the same diabolical alien from before.

Pico replied casually, "Hi. Where can I take you, pal?"

Tanaka didn't waste any time. "Take me to the Mute City Space Port! I'm in a hurry so step on it!" He did just that as he put the pedal to the metal. Though as he looked in the rearview mirror, he knew something was afoot as he recognized his unwary passenger.

I can't believe it. He must have figured out Zoda's scheme.

"I feel you and I have met someplace before."

Pico was startled, but he instantly made a white lie, "Ah-well, maybe you have rode in my cab before."

"Eh, maybe." the naïve officer was easily convinced as he sat back in his seat. No matter who he was, he was still so obsessive on seeing Kate during the Diamond Star performance.

"So, why are you in such a big hurry to get to the space port, buddy?"

"I'm on an important mission." he said with a smile.

"And what's that?" Pico faced him.

"Let's just say there's somebody I have to see." Pico slowly took out a green pistol from his vest. "I've been waiting a long time for this opportunity. And nobody's gonna stop me now."

He knows. He's warning me not to pull any tricks. If I'll try to blast him, he'll get me first.
 

Back at the Task Force base, Lucy apologized for letting Tanaka slip through her fingers. Rick, Jody, and Tinsel were with her. "I'm sorry, Jody. I only left him out because he told me he wanted to see me."

"I guess he's not as dumb as we think he is." the captain concluded.

"I wonder where he ran off to." Rick said.

"He said something about a concert." Her mind switched gears as he recalled Tanaka's statement.

Ah...that means I'm gonna have to miss the concert.

Lucy drove it all home. "Hey, isn't Kate Alen giving a big concert tonight?"

Rick was just as amazed. "That's right, Lucy. Kate said that she's singing on the Diamond Star Tour cruiser tonight." His mind flashed back to the time he and EAD watched her perform with a warm heart instead of a stern attitude. "He invited EAD to thank us for protecting her from Zoda. Tanaka is friends with Kate's manager so he got a ticket to the concert, too."

"Maybe." the leader said with concern.

"No matter where Tanaka went there's a good chance Pico's tracking him. If we don't find him soon it may be too late."

"Yeah." Tinsel couldn't agree more with what her best friend was saying, as much as she didn't like him very much.

"Let's get to that star cruiser." Jody led them off. "Although as much as you wanted to see Port Town, Tinsel, you gotta stay on guard; this isn't the time for sight seeing, you know."

"Right..." She did feel a little disappointed, but she knew they had a job to do. "I'll try and concentrate as much as I can, Jody."

"Let's go then." They boarded a small goldenrod cab and they were on their way to the luxury ocean liner.
 

The exuberant announcer called from inside the massive, elaborate cruise line, "On behalf of the captain and crew of the Diamond Star, welcome aboard. Tonight we are delighted to host an exclusive concert from the one and only, Kate Alen. And after her concert we head into orbit! Please proceed to the main port immediately and bon voyage!" The main deck was extremely crowded with numerous diehard fans of humans and extraterrestrials.

Pico was watching from a guardrail overhead. "Tanaka's smart. He knew I couldn't pick him up in this crowd."

Zoda was just as angry as he broke the news inside a distant storage area. "Tanaka knows!? How can he figure out my plan so fast?"

The Wild Goose pilot replied, "He's the most brilliant cop I've ever seen. Tanaka never seems to miss a trick. He anticipates every move we make." Zoda was trying to hold his rage back as his hand was shaking, holding a forkful of strawberry shortcake. "We should call off and leave while we still have a chance."

"WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. Then he took a bite of the dessert, but something was wrong as his throat began to burn. Vile rose up, causing him to spit it out. He stood up in bitter hatred, "I had you to get RID of Tanaka but you're running scared!" He sat as be held his aching stomach. "These blasted data chips are giving me acid reflux."

"I don't believe you're supposed to eat them." Octoman couldn't believe how crazy and stupid he was.

"How many cops did Tanaka bring?" Bio Rex asked.

"He's alone." Pico said without hesitation.

"You've got to be kidding."

"He must be really tough if he knows he can take us all on by himself." the crafty octopus was intrigued the most.

"I don't care how tough he is; I hired you to get rid of him." Zoda ordered toward his hitman. Pico was undoubtedly right for the sniper job.
 

Kate was just finishing her usual number, "Love Rules the Universe," and the audience couldn't get enough of her finesse, not even John. Mrs. Kate Tanaka. He thought dreamily.
 

Zoda rallied up his troops. "Listen up! We are going to take Tanaka by surprise right before the second half of the concert!"

John was inside the restroom, making the final touches on his precious outfit. "Attention please, the concert will resume in three minutes. Please return to the auditorium."

"I have to look my best when I go backstage tonight. This is my big chance to win Kate over. I should probably play a little hard to get. But that won't be easy."

He daydreamed about him being with Kate, though he had to imitate both sides. It was definitely a creepy sight. "I know your singing was quite adequate." He then switched sides and his voice tried and failed to match Kate's own voice. "Oh, John I've been singing solo but I know you and I would make a perfect duet." He then returned to his usual demeanor. "I don't want to be rushed into any kind of commitment, Kate." He then switched to Kate again and made some smooches. "How can I resist..?" He made some imaginary kisses again. "One kiss."

His solo performance was interrupted as he was being ambushed by Octoman!
 

Kate just returned onstage from her short break, though Lucy's binoculars cannot find the chief anywhere in the tables. "I don't think Tanaka's in here, Jody."

"Then we'll have to split up and search the rest of the ship."

"Roger." Lucy, Rick, and Tinsel responded in unison. The carrot top went by herself, as did Jody, while Rick went with Tinsel; she wasn't really the most dedicated out of the bunch and she could admit to it. So she was pretty nervous on getting lost in a luxurious cruise ship, not to mention the numbers Kate were performing were a bit distracting.

Jody descended to the lower deck of the ship, and she spotted a Death Soldier go through a shifting door. She contacted her teammates on her key fob communicator, "I think I found where Tanaka is. Come to Level 2."

"Looks like we found a spy." Bio Rex growled.

"I'm afraid we need to eradicate the young lady." Octoman added.

"Aren't you part of the seafood buffet?" Jody mocked the cephalopod, who squirted ink toward her. She dodged it quickly and the clueless fish hit a wall as he blindly continued his barrage, stinging Bio Rex's eyes. He roared in pain, and Jody was able to knock the weak anthropomorphics down.
 

Tanaka was tied up on a back wall that nearly matched his outfit. Pico kept firing, though he was just fooling around as his bullets kept on missing his number one target. The chief trembled and screamed in great terror. Zoda yelled, "Quit acting scared. We know you have nerves of steel."

"Please, let me go or I'll miss the end of the concert! Kate will be waiting for me backstage!" he begged.

"Still acting!" Pico resumed his assault.

"Ahhh!"

The leading man was growing more and more impatient. "I was looking for a brilliant performance all night but Pico's got a job to do."

"I'll do anything. Please don't hurt MEEE!" Tanaka was very close to tears.

Suddenly the turtle's rifle was knocked out of his clutches by her own pink pistol. "I'm sorry to break up your little party but I can't take up a friend of mine."

"Jody!"

"This was a trap." Pico realized.

"He did bring other cops to back him up." Zoda was just as vulnerable as the rest of the group.

"Hold it right there, Zoda!"

A male voice belonged to a certain archrival, crouched on a large stack of packages. Lucy and Tinsel were right with him. "Wheeler! I should've known you shown up."

"I wouldn't pass up the chance to miss a rat like you."

"Go get them outta here!" the maniac demanded the robot soldiers. Fortunately, they were hardly a match for Rick's fiery strength, nor Tinsel's freezing firearm from her Silver Comet.

Rick rushed into the scene. "You're next, Zoda!"

Jody was just untying her hapless friend as Lucy and Tinsel continued to fire. "We can handle things here, Tanaka."

"Hurry, sir!" the apprentice shouted.

"Thanks, Jody, I thought I was a goner."

"I'll get you, Tanaka!" Pico screeched with his gun drawn. Lucy and Rick looked on as Tinsel fired her ice beams and froze Pico on contact. From the debris a few Death Soldiers slipped, causing the boxes to topple on top of them.

Zoda hurriedly grabbed his pre-extinct reptilian friend and began to retreat inside the caravan. "Ergh! You win this time, but you haven't seen the last of me!"

Rick wasn't entirely convinced, though. Tinsel swore under her breath they would apprehend him. Someday.
 

Tanaka recovered from his stupor. "What was that about?"

"Zoda escaped, but we got the data chips." Jody summarized the chaos.

"We'll get Zoda." Rick promised.

"Yeah, you can count on it." Tinsel added.

"Did you come here to catch the concert or to catch Zoda?" Lucy queried, wondering what story he'll come up with.

"Well, you see...I got a ticket for the concert because I had to hunt Zoda before he'd try to smuggle the chips off planet."

Ironically, Jody seemed to buy into it. "This concert's been sold out for weeks. I'm impressed you were able to figure it out what Zoda was up to BEFORE he committed the crime. Maybe we have underestimated you, Tanaka."

"Maybe."

Tinsel, however, wasn't very pleased. Just then, the hostess of honor along with her midget manager ran up to the heroes.

"Kate! At last we meet!" Much to Tanaka's surprise, they simply rushed passed him and his open arms.

"It's great to see you, Rick." the black singer said gladly. "Where's EAD?"

He responded bashfully, thinking he might've forgotten about the poor android, "Ah, actually, he couldn't make it tonight."

"Well I'm glad that you're here." She gave him a peck on the cheek, causing Lucy and Tinsel to hide a giggle.

"Ah, but Kate, what about me!?" Tanaka begged on his knees.

"If you don't go away, the officers would have to arrest you." Kate said sternly.

"Ah, Kate?" Her short assistant handed her the ticket, which actually had Tanaka's own name on it.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry." Kate said as she stood up.

"Oh, don't worry about me." John just sighed in despair. They never knew he could be so lovesick.

They enjoyed the rest of the performance, though Tinsel was just sitting back and soaking the stellar beauty as the cruiser sailed across the ocean and under the delightful starry sky.
 

A day later, she resumed her holiday shopping, and she just found a very special gift that was sealed in a golden, heart-shaped locket.

Meanwhile, the Dragon Bird was racing smoothly alongside the Great Star and the Super Piranha down the Beacon Port highway. While the clunky Wonder Wasp was trailing further and further behind. Tanaka was still begging with all his might his broken heart could possibly muster. "Kate! Wait up! I didn't get your autograph! Hey Kate, wait for meeeeee!"

A/N: I remember this episode well, back in December of 2004, as it aired on the FoxBox just one week before Christmas. I'm not kidding. After the last episode, they decided to start over again with the pilot, The Legend Begins, and I had to record it while I was opening gifts. It's too bad that this episode aired again on March 2005 before the series was canned for good without a sneak peek nor a proper finale, hence that was when "Ending it All" as well as others came to be. So this one obviously takes place around the holidays just before my fic, "Merry Christmas, Rick."

Well, the request fic is finally out of the way, and I hope I did the dialogue right from the 4kids dub. So, see you all soon, F-Zero fans.

 

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TheIkranRider

Tinsel's Trial

Disclaimer: I don't own F-Zero GP Legend. The anime goes to Nintendo and 4Kids. Very underrated, though.
So here's my first fic for the series. Enjoy!


Out of all the skilled pilots in the Task Force, Tinsel seemed to be the least confident. She either had some trouble dealing with sharp turns, or even hazards as the Comet kept falling back to recover its lost endurance. She was able to give a distraction to Dark Million's cronies during race after race, but she hasn't been attaining any high ranks. Their mission was to stop them from earning hefty prize money and often times they were successful; however, Tinsel always received some low self-esteem as the top dogs Rick, Jack, Jody, or even Dr. Stewart would take the Gold, Silver and Bronze trophies. Even Captain Falcon would prevent them from winning on occasion. This, at times, brought back some bad memories from the original Grand Prix about twelve years ago, how she wound up in 2nd during the Knight League, and had a near-death experience at White Land during the Queen League. In addition, the Silver Comet's Body was pretty weak, despite the decent Boost and Grip.

Tinsel felt hopeless as her friends took away the glory; she kept on contradicting herself that her racing skills were lacking compared to everyone else. Because of her dismay, her comrades enlisted her in a kickstarter program with hovercrafts instead. It was designed for amateurs, and those that just needed some improvement on their skills. The amount of payment was fair and they were certain she would obtain the experience she needed, plus it was on water, so she wouldn't have to worry about obstacles or sharp turns.

At first, Tinsel felt skeptical as she was handed a pamphlet. "What's this?"

"There's an Amateur Cup later on in the spring." Jody explained. "The frigid temperatures won't be suitable, so they have to wait 'til winter is over. We noticed, as did you, that you needed some improvement with your racing abilities. The fee isn't an issue, and it's purpose is to train wannabe F-Zero pilots; kind of like a jumpstart."

Tinsel noticed something odd. "They're...they're hovercrafts, not machines."

"Indeed, they are," Dr. Stewart reiterated. "Because they're on water, you don't have to worry about tricky obstacles or difficult curves. The only catch is the current, though they're not hard to manage."

"Don't take this the wrong way," Dr. Clash added. "It's not to make you more inferior."

"Or is it?" Jack exclaimed. Everyone gave him a stern look.

"Look, you don't have to do this if you don't want to." Her best friend, Rick, replied. "The choice is yours, Tinsel. The ball's in your court. I highly recommend it so you would be a better F-Zero pilot. What do you say?"

Looking over her comrades encouragement, as well as the brochure, she eventually said, "Well, if it's to help my skills as an F-Zero racer...Then, yeah, I accept!"

Her friends were delighted and after a month of practice with her closest pals, it was finally March 21st and Tinsel was ready to enroll in the Hovercraft Hub.
 

At Tortiz 3, on the opposing side of its vicious windstorms, the place was almost similar to that of a campground. There were numerous rivers, some were slow while others were swift. Numerous trees towered all around her, and Tinsel was mingled with a few inexperienced pilots of all races from across the universe. The environment was much more tranquil compared to all the noise, lights, pollution, and confusion from the major cities. It was also located beside the Green Plant circuits, so it was undoubtedly an organic place. And because she loved the courses there, she felt more relaxed. The Hovercraft Hub was home to those obsolete machines; however, they still found their place in aquatic races for novices and experts alike. They were just less complicated in handling than the normal machines.

Overtime, Tinsel became more confident as she had grown used to her new craft. Little by little she began to win race after race. The still rivers were great for basic training, and she'd gotten used to more choppy ones. They weren't too much of a struggle as they gradually got more intense. With her past experiences on the circuits, she honed her skills nicely. She constantly told her friends on her progress as they did with their own victories, even the head of the camp was also impressed on her rapid growth.

After a few weeks, she'd won every session and there was actually a Grand Prix coming up. Tinsel just heard the big race will start on her home world at Victoria Falls. She was undoubtedly excited, just as her allies were back in Mute City. Little did she know that someone was lurking deep within the forest, overhearing their plans for the near future.

The semifinal practice run was complete, and Tinsel emerged in first, despite the wetness. During a picnic where the pilots could dry and socialize, she was looking forward to it; she couldn't believe that a whole hovercraft course was sculpted around a treacherous waterfall! What was even more amazing was that Rick and the others offered to stop by and cheer her on. The elimination will commence tomorrow, and if she's in the top two, she'll return to Earth the next day.

Tinsel happily took some deep gulps from her orange canister. She needed to be refreshed so she could prepare for the finale. By the time she eased herself as the container was empty, she began to feel...woozy. She sighed as her head swam, and her eyes were growing heavy. That snake in the thick woods was none other than Zoda, Dark Million's most lethal assassin. The lunatic giggled as he shown a small bottle, dripping out a black liquid of sorts. The water didn't look, tasted, nor smelt like it was altered in a way. As the chemicals were beginning to take effect, Tinsel's body became numb. She slowly walked to the locker room, put on some drier clothes, and sat on the long, wooden bench.

She moaned as the toxins circulated her body and kept returning to her brain. Somehow, the fluid made her feel so...awkward, yet pleasant. As they coursed through her veins she took in deep breaths and her pupils became larger and opaque. Later she repeated a mantra, "Must...obey...the Darkness..." a few times before she made a sneer. She welcomed the thrilling sensation she just had.
 

During the finals, Rick, Lucy, and Dr. Clash were watching at the stands. They saw Tinsel from the rear of the group. Victoria Falls' track was referred to as Tsunami in the description.

"Wow. I thought I would never see a stunning aquatic race with hovercrafts before!" Lucy exclaimed.

"The hovercrafts have been discontinued for centuries, Lucy." Rick said. "And they originally came from Earth. Instead of being scrapped away and forgotten, they've managed to find a home in Planet Tortiz 3."

Dr. Clash chimed, "It's the ideal place for races like this. They're very environmental-friendly vehicles."

"Yeah, unless if their contents should fall out...They can be pretty light and weak compared to other machines." Rick grew concerned as he saw Tinsel and never seen a contest like this before.

They saw the circuit adjusted itself as it opened like a demolished dam and an enormous whoosh was heard, nearly deafening the spectators. "I can't believe it. It's an actual waterfall!" the top pilot observed.

Seconds later, the signal was made to begin the race. Over the ruckus, the trio encouraged their friend to plow through as Lucy watched from her binoculars. Rick was completely astonished as the competitors made a rapid descent on the steep ramp, and they went alongside the wild waterfall! By the time they fell to the bottom, "The pilots...they're gone..!"

After a few moments of silence, the audience roared as they saw the hovercrafts emerge completely intact!

"Whew. They're all right." Rick sighed with relief. "Where's Tinsel?"

She was within the back of the pack. "There she is!" Lucy pointed. Everyone encouraged her to catch up, and to beware of the 300-foot drop! "Come on, Tinsel!"

"You can do it!"

"Watch out for the ramp. Go for it, Tinsel!"

She, however, was only fixed on one thing.

"I must...win this race." She grew familiar with the course on the first two laps, and she was lagging behind. By the time she reached the final lap, she became aggressive as she rammed into any passing machine in her path! A couple actually toppled to the side while a few were punctured from the sharp guardrails and rocks. Some of the audience were alarmed as they feared the pilots could drown in the savage water or if they were capsized!

"What's going on? Who's attacking the pilots?!" Clash asked in shock.

"That's her! Number 47!" Lucy cried as she looked through her binoculars. They were shocked of her unusual demeanor; she was hardly ever this vicious with other racers, unless if they were part of Dark Million. She also noticed she seemed emotionless and always giving a blank stare, unless she was thrashing about.

"Is she really this determined to win..?" Rick wondered.

Sure enough, she won first place; there were hardly any pilots lagging behind her when she reached the finish line. Thank goodness there were no casualties, still the trio were uneasy. When they reached her while she received the golden trophy, she looked very menacing. She never even bothered to look up at her friends.

"Tinsel, great job on that race! You've earned this!" Rick complemented.

She just gave them a sinister glare and she walked away. The detective was suspicious at her expression and her actions on the track. "Something's wrong. This is not the Tinsel we know of."

"It's like she hardly knew we were there." Lucy added.

"Didn't she recall we were going to be there cheering for her?" asked Dr. Clash.

Rick wasn't convinced. "I'll check it out. Stay with Clash, Lucy."

"Ok, be careful."

"You know I will." he responded with a grin.

He followed her to a dark hall. He was kind of unfortunate since she approached the locker room. There was still some light underneath the door. The least he could do was listen in as she was speaking into a flip phone.

Meanwhile, Tinsel activated her cellular and informed the news to her new commanding officer. "Master Shadow, I have won first place in the hovercraft race as instructed."

"Excellent work, my young pawn. Seems you're not so shabby of a racer, after all." That filled her with a sense of pride, and lust as her eyes grew darker. "Your loyalty has been proven... Now, enter the Grand Prix at the Mist Flow track on Tortiz 3. Bring your Comet with you. But first...meet us at the back of the stadium at once. That is an order, Tinsel."

"Of course, Master Shadow." Her voice being more monotone.

Rick gasped, "Master Shadow..? Could she be working for Dark Million?" He heard some movement beyond the door, and he immediately escaped into the neighboring room. Good thing it was customized for men. Unfortunately, he came across some racers undressing. "Hey, what are you doin' here?" said one with goggles.

"Yeah! Give us some privacy here! It was a tough race."

He raised his hands and blushed. "Ah, sorry guys. I-I just kinda lost my way, that's all. I-I greatly apologize for that!" The pilots gave him an empty stare as he left. "Who was that peeping jerk?" one of them wearing a bandanna with a skull wondered.

Rick headed out and took in a deep breath to rid of his embarrassment. He was, however, lucky he was there before Tinsel spotted him.

"Rick!"

He startled as he turned. In the bleak hallway he eventually saw Lucy and Clash. "Oh, it's you guys."

"Yeah, it's us." The android replied. "We found some members of Dark Million hanging out at the rear of the stadium. Me and Lucy hightailed outta there in a flash."

"I don't like the looks of this, Rick. Why would Dark Million be here during a hovercraft race, instead of an F-Zero race? Unless..."

"Tinsel is definitely working for them. I even heard her mention 'Master Shadow.'" He smacked his fist to his palm. "We've got to alert the others!"

"Right." Both Lucy and Dr. Clash nodded.
 

"So it is true; Tinsel is working for Dark Million." Jody summarized at the Task Force headquarters.

"Indeed." Rick concluded. "And she did their bidding when she won first place at Victoria Falls."

"But why would they take an interest in her or the race? There is no prize money in this." Mr. EAD said.

"Maybe not. But it may be a way to test her skills. To make her a more formidable opponent." he thought out loud.

Jack protested as he slammed his fists on the meeting table. "That dirty, rotten traitor. Why would she turn on us like that!?" But Stewart had a better statement.

"I believe she wouldn't serve Dark Million willingly, Jack." He said as he was rubbing his chin. "I think they brainwashed her in some sort of way. Something about this concerns me so."

"Doc is right." Jody said. "There's no way Tinsel would join Dark Million on a whim."

Rick queried, "Remember when she saved my life that one time?"

He recalled the woman who had a stunning resemblance to Haruka. And when he revealed her name, he couldn't breathe. It was a spell made by her and the Skull in a way to wipe him out. However, on his last legs, he dropped the engagement ring and they gazed at it for a few seconds. As he was losing consciousness, he saw her crash through a window, shattering the glass. He didn't notice Tinsel being there as she noticed the commotion from the other room. Tinsel tried to shake the lifeless body awake, but there was no response. She hurriedly put a cushion beneath his head, and examined his vital signs. He had a weak pulse and he wasn't breathing. She raised his head to open up the airways and began breathing into his mouth while holding his nose. She made two deep exhales, leaned in to check his vitals, and repeated the process while encouraging to revive. The mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was enough for Rick as he eventually coughed and sputtered.

As he opened his eyes, he saw Tinsel laying over him. "Rick...Are you all right?"

"I...think so..." 

Tinsel collapsed on his stomach as she tried to catch her breath. "Thank goodness."

"Good thing she knew mouth-to-mouth." Jody reminisced. "You probably wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for her." Her face lightened up. "Alright, I believe Wheeler and Dr. Stewart are correct. Tinsel was definitely mind-controlled like he mentioned. We need to investigate how they did it. Let's go." The team got to work.
 

Inside a starship floating in the deep reaches of space, Tinsel was being escorted by her newfound comrades including The Skull, Octoman, and even Luna Ryder leading the way. "Congratulations on your success, Tinsel. It would be most valuable to have two women working together on the same side." she commented.

"Yes, Luna..." the hovercraft champion responded.

They went straight to a Death Soldier holding a canister for her. Tinsel drank it quickly and she felt that same sensation throughout her body. It tasted like regular water but she began to feel stronger, more lethal thanks to the toxins within it. She handed him the trophy and Black Shadow awaited her on a large chair overlooking the floor.

"Ah, the shining star emerged victorious. So the winner goes the spoils, Tinsel."

She bowed down to him. "Master Shadow... I am honored to make your presence again..." The others followed suit, recalling with her encounter last year at Lightning.

"For once, Zoda had the right idea. But we are far from total triumph! There is a Grand Prix within Planet Tortiz 3, a very chaotic track known as Mist Flow lurks there. It'll require-"

"Deep concentration." Jody looked over the schematics for the next course. "It is the same world that used to revolve a track around a stormy environment known as Death Wind. The planet itself is also volatile. The rumors say the atmosphere in Mist Flow is so thick, that racers could easily get lost in the fog. It's proven to be very dangerous, as they're unaware of what lies ahead. The visibility is pretty low. Memorization is the key to success. Use extreme caution, everyone." she said to her teammates.

"Yes, ma'am. You just leave the adjustments to us." Dr. Clash volunteered, as did Lucy.

Rick, Jack, and even Jody herself will be in the race. "I'm sure Black Shadow will use his finest pilots for this death-defying race. We must stay on high alert."

"And Tinsel..." Rick realized. I hope Dr. Stewart has found something, he thought.

The physicist was looking through the pack that was sent to Earth from Tortiz 3. Curious, he was looking through her clothes and other goods. So far, nothing seemed to be tainted. He was about to load the orange canister into the dishwasher. He unscrewed the cap and...

There was black vile inside! There was no foul odor emitting from it, just some kind of black goo. He then brought it to the lab for analysis. Under a microscope and a swab, he examined the contents. He concluded to Jody that the black material alters the neurons in the brain, making it some kind of agent that causes the consumer to be submissive and very lightheaded.

"It could be a temporary fix if the agent should wear off; however, if Tinsel is consistent on consuming it, it could have some long-term effects and cause her mind to degrade. We may never get her back in time after this race."

"We must prevent Dark Million from doing so and winning this thing. It's the only way."

"I will make a counter-agent to rid of the fatal substance. You, Rick, and Jack must beat the organization. There's no turning back now."

Unbeknownst to them, Rick listened on the conversation. So, that's how Zoda and Dark Million used Tinsel. I will stop them, with everything I have. Looking up, his mind went elsewhere, Please, Tinsel, wherever you are, wait for us. We'll be coming for you.
 

"Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for one of the most exhilarating races across the universe! The track is known as Mist Flow, located at the hostile planet of Tortiz 3! Racers must be cautious and careful to avoid obstacles and sharp turns within it amongst the intense fog!" The announcer echoed throughout the stadium. "All pilots heed your energy gauges and thermals to venture through this course. Good luck!"

Although the loudspeakers were mostly interfered as the audience screamed for their courageous, fan-favorite contestants.

The Dragon Bird was not with the others. He was so pensive over Tinsel's condition.

"Rick, you must not dilly dally; we have a race to win."

"Yes, Jody, I know."

"I understand your concern, but we're also worried for her as well."

He faced her. "Jody, what if we couldn't get her back? What if she crashes, or remains within the darkness forever?"

"We must not focus on the negative, Wheeler. We're on a mission. Of course Tinsel's fate is in our hands, but Dr. Stewart is doing everything he can to make a reversal. That's about all we can do for the moment; concentrate on what truly matters, and never let your guard down."

He reluctantly nodded.

"And that goes for you, too, Jack!" She demanded while he was standing next to a wall in a distant corner.

"Heey, no problemo. This race'll be a breeze, Jody. No need to get your brows in a furrow."

"Jack, we're counting on you! If worst should come to worse, we need you to cover our hides. Now move out, the race is going to start! Good luck to both of you!" She replied with a thumbs-up, knowing they're on the job.

"You too." The two men said in unison.

Meanwhile, Tinsel and Luna were also preparing for the competition. They were both in the back row as the Silver Comet went beside the Moon Shadow; a skinny, dark pink machine with a decent body and grip, as well as a weak boost. The heroes' machines were in the epicenter.

Each pilot went over the track; it was narrow and shaped like an oval similar to Death Wind. But the first half of the course has a slight ascending ramp, while the other descends and the fog gets denser.

"Let's give it everything we got!" Jody said.

There was the signal and the race soon started!

The two machines in the rear were gaining fast despite the hazardous mist. At the first lap, everyone became extra watchful, trying to avoid crashing and burning. Those that did were easy targets. Tinsel took the front and bashed into any vulnerable machine she saw, and since Luna was stronger she gave them the final blow either exploding them on the track or knocking them off. The straightaways were little to no problem for the veterans, and the fog itself made it ideal for an enemy ambush.

On the next couple laps, Rick and the others noticed Tinsel and Luna. "They're closing on us." Rick observed through his radar.

"Stay alert!" Jody said.

Her machine was their next victim. "I see the White Cat..." Tinsel said.

"Destroy it!" Luna commanded.

She obliged without hesitation, not even any memories of Jody entered Tinsel's mind. She began to ransack her machine before it reached some of the islands at the center, making Jody crash around. Luna finished the job as she made her machine go overboard, and plummeted to the lower part of the track!

"Oh no, Jody! Jack, did you see that?!" Rick shouted.

"Sure did, Wheeler! We better watch out; they really mean business."

During the final lap, when most of the pilots were out of commission, both Tinsel and Luna made their most lethal move yet. They trapped and commenced crushing on Rick's machine from both sides, disabling him to boost and escape, as well as destroying it gradually.

Both his good friend and the woman resembling his lost love were attempting to kill him; as if it can't get any worse despite the low visibility. Rick kept on begging her to snap out of the trance. "Tinsel! Tinsel, it's me, Rick! Don't you recognize me?!"

"Yes.. I recognize you as an enemy that must be destroyed, at all costs!" she countered.

"You must suffer dearly! We have already eliminated your commanding officer, Jody Summer." Rick gave a horrified expression. "You are nothing more than a worthless, dying insect. Now it's your turn to join her!"

Her eyes gleamed, as did Tinsel's while they mashed harder into the Dragon Bird. His power kept going down faster and faster. And the alarm sounded all around his vehicle.

"Erggh, no Tinsel!" With the combined strength sparks were flying and he could've sworn he saw some flames lick his car. But then, after seeing the wreckage...

The brainwashing spell over Tinsel started to wear off as she lost vitality and consciousness. So, too, her control over the Comet. Rick noticed as she was slowing down and swerving.

"This is my chance... Hrgh!" With a last-ditch effort, he attacked the Moon Shadow from the side, causing it to spin uncontrollably! Then, he saw Tinsel crash into a guardrail, and the Dragon Bird came to her side as he tried to catch her. Unfortunately, the impact was too much for them and they fell off to a lower part of the course through the mist!

Jack heard the explosions. "Uh, Wheeler! Looks like it's up to me to win this race!" Without many opponents gaining on him, he hardly looked back and approached the finish line!

"Incredible! The Astro Robin is the winner of the Mist Flow track! According to the results, many of the pilots have been demolished throughout the arena. But the amazing Jack Levin has succeeded in clearing the course in one piece. What a stunning victory!" The audience cheered with brutal excitement as the victor returned to the stadium. However, he didn't feel much like winning.

"Wheeler, Tinsel, and Jody... Crikey. I hope you're all alright."

The White Cat was towed away with little to no trouble at all. As for the other machines with pilots who were barely alive...

The Dragon Bird was emitting some smoke from its damaged hood. Rick held his head and waited for it to clear. He noticed the race was over, as the circuit was as silent, not to mention pale, as a ghost. He saw the Silver Comet as he looked out of his cockpit. "Uh, Tinsel."

His body was a bit wobbly from the sudden impact as he climbed out. But Tinsel was motionless as he neared her. He laid his hands on the windshield, screaming her name. "Wake up, Tinsel!" There was no response.

Paramedics arrived as he heard the sirens and saw the red and blue lights through the mist beyond. "That makes nine of them." one of the EMTs spoke as he observed the deadly disarray.

Seeing a stupefied pilot, he asked, "Are you hurt? Here, please lie down." He motioned to a stretcher.

"Not me." Rick clarified. "It's my friend, Tinsel. You have to help her; she's unconscious and she just fell off the track."

"It's all right; we will take her in."

"Wait, I'll go with her, but first I need to call someone." He tried using the communicator on his Dragon Bird, but it was shot from the accident. A doctor offered him one of their comms and he immediately called Jack.

"Jack!"

The reception was fuzzy, but he made out his voice. "Wheeler! You are alive."

"Yeah, just barely. How's Jody?"

"Oh, she'll live. We should be lucky she's a half-cyborg since she survived the wreck. She's one tough cookie, mate. How's Tinsel?"

"Not good. She's being loaded in a stretcher right now and she's being taken to the ICU. Tell Jody I'll be staying with her."

"Ricky, are you sure?"

"I...can't be positive right now, Jack." his voice softened.

"Rick? You'll have to come with us immediately." The chief instructed.

"On my way. Just watch over Jody for me." He ended the call as he was being led to the ambulance.
 

An hour had passed as the detective watched over the incapacitated Tinsel. So far there was no movement, not even a twitch, and her body was connected to a couple machines keeping track of her heart rate and brainwaves. He hadn't really seen the results of an accident this dire before. He was so preoccupied that he didn't notice Stewart marching in, holding a bowl of warm water.

"Doctor."

"I came as soon as I could, Rick, but we don't have much time. She must drink this in order to recover."

"Will she?" he wondered, his mind full of doubt.

"She will if she could drink this formula I've made. Let's hope for the best. It shouldn't be as toxic as the last one, and she'll hardly taste the difference. Keep your fingers crossed."

Rick watched him closely as he applied the healing agent to her lips. Tinsel began to consume it almost instantly, and she remained very still.

"She drank as much as she could. Now, all we can do is wait..." The doctor ordered.

Come on, Tinsel. You can make it. Rick thought, hoping she'll come around as her normal self.

Within minutes, Tinsel stirred as her head shifted. He laid a comforting hand to hers as she gradually opened her eyes. She felt someone caressing her hands and the fluorescent lights nearly blinded her. Her friends were eagerly looking down. "Rick..? Stewart?"

"Yes, it is us." The doc said.

"Welcome back, Tinsel." her best friend replied.

She wondered where she was and whether or not she was involved in another accident like in White Land. "You were, Tinsel. At Mist Flow."

"Mist Flow..? I've never heard of such a place. Unh, my head." Not only did she have a throbbing headache, but her fever was rising. Dr. Stewart laid a cold cloth over her forehead; the ice was actually from the Comet itself. She sighed as she cooled down.

"I'll leave you two alone for awhile. I have to check on Jody."

"Sure thing, Doctor. I'll stay with her."

"Rick, what happened?"

He told her everything: from the moment he heard she was brainwashed, to her victory at Tortiz 3, to her fatal race at the last course and how he and the medics, including Stewart, saved her.

"So...I actually won that hovercraft race?"

"Yes, you did."

"I-I must've given the prize money to Dark Million..! I...I'm sorry."

"Hey, don't sweat it. There was no cash involved."

She could only remember the sensation after drinking from the canister, as well as some fragments while racing in Victoria Falls. Then, something unusual occurred to her as she was nearing the edge of the waterfall. She said while she was going down, she had a flashback on seeing a tidal wave. Not personally, though; she did see one in all sorts of media, the earliest being an old comp game. It almost created that same allusion during the descent and when she reached the bottom during the first lap. She even wondered if there was a tsunami that struck NY in the past; Rick said there wasn't through his research, although there could always be one hypothesized for the future. He thought the pilots would've drowned or get crushed by the velocity and pressure; he was thankful they weren't, until...

That was when he put the pieces together. Tinsel figured that was why she felt strange after drinking from the orange canister.

"Are Jody and Jack all right? I didn't mean to endanger them like this. If I should lose my credentials, I..." She started to sob, but Rick kept assuring her she wouldn't be punished for what she'd done.

He then calmed her once more, saying it wasn't entirely her doing, as she contradicted herself for her actions. Although, since it wasn't under her own will, Jody wanted her to remain in the Task Force by their side. They even embraced each other after that.

"I'm so glad you're with us again, Tinsel."

"As I am with you, Rick."

After they parted, he suggested she should get some rest.

Both Jody and Stewart were, however, fascinated how deep Rick's feelings were to Tinsel.

"He really does have feelings for her." the half-human, half-cyborg commented.

"Indeed, he does, Jody. This...might help him out in the long run. But only time will tell his tale."

A/N: For years, I've been thinking of a good jingle for my OC. I knew everyone had their own, even if it's for only a couple seconds. I never came up with one until just now; Tinsel's jingle will be the few notes from what I believe to be the predecessor of F-Zero, Mach Rider. Unfortunately, it won't be heard much here since she was under Dark Million's control. That's the only idea I could think of that fits her best. Also, the way I see it, the voice actors will be from both the F-Zero anime, and GX. Like Black Shadow would be the intimidating demon from the Gamecube game, along with Blood Falcon, Deathborn, Captain Falcon, Tanaka, Goroh, and some others; you'll find out later.

Also, the Mist Flow track is one of my personal faves from the actual game. And I have made up the locations for every course; I hope they were accurate enough. The flashback where Tinsel described her past experiences on seeing tsunamis was inspired by my personal experience; the first time I saw one was from a Microsoft game known as "Undersea Adventure." Check out that fic for info. The possibilities are quite endless when thinking of a futuristic F-Zero course.

Another flashback was inspired by Lap 8, The Secret within. It's my all-time favorite episode from the anime besides the pilot, and I figured since it's geared for older readers, I made the scenario a little more intense. Especially when Tinsel did the mouth-to-mouth; I always thought Rick was lucky after he somewhat survived the attack from Haruka and the spell from the Skull. Needless to say, he's my topmost pilot in my eyes next to Falcon, Leon, and Pico. This story was scrapped away just before the anime bit the dust. And the flashbacks from GX will happen a year before the events of GP Legend according to Tinsel, since I played that game first before I saw the anime and experienced the GBA game.

What'll happen next? Find out soon...

 

 

Tinsel's Interview with Mr. Zero

Disclaimer: I don't own F-Zero. That belongs to Nintendo. GX also has SEGA and AV, and I respect those, too.

A/N: This is something I just came up with on a whim; I want to take a little break from "Ending it All". Here, Tinsel is having a live interview as she just won a few Grand Prixes. This may be non-canon, and since there was a limited time to answer each of them, I tried to keep the answers short.


Recently, Tinsel has won quite a few adrenaline-pumping F-Zero races. Although she couldn't have done it without the teamwork from her friends both in and out of the Elite Mobile Task Force. She was being interviewed by Mr. Zero in a green tuxedo and she was a tad nervous as she stood before him as the cameras were centered on them in a big stage. The back wall was animated with small screens featuring a live broadcast on F-Zero TV. And Tinsel hopes that one day her friends, especially Rick Wheeler, would have the same chance. Mr. Zero casually spoke to the head camera into the mike:

"From the special F-Zero GP venue, we're broadcasting an interview with the Grand Prix Champion. Okay then, I'd like to ask you something."

He faced her and asked Tinsel this. The series of questions were on.

Congratulations on your stunning victory!

She rubbed her neck as she answered.

"Ah, shucks. I don't win these Grand Prixes very often. So, that means a lot."

Can you tell us why you became an F-Zero racer?

"It all started 13 years ago. I was fascinated before the big race and I wanted to join at the original Grand Prix. I hadn't raced again after that tragic accident in White Land. About a year ago, I finally had the motivation. And I couldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for my friends' support."

That's a great machine you got there.

"Ah, the Silver Comet. You could see the allusion as it glows across the track!"

I'd love to ride in that kind of machine just once in my life!

What was the key to your victory?


She held her heart as it warmed.

"As long as I have my friends, losing just isn't an option."

Your rivals are howling for revenge!

She felt her temperature drop a notch.

"Ooh...I don't like the sound of that. I hope my comrades have my back on this one."

A message for all your TV fans out there?

"If you can achieve an F-Zero race, you can make a difference."

The winner of the Expert Class. Congratulations!

"I couldn't have done it without the ongoing motivation from my comrades." She looked up as she was rubbing her neck in thought, "I was actually thinking that Rick, Falcon, or Leon might have won."

What are your plans, now that you've won?

"To stop Black Shadow and his Dark Million organization at all costs!"

How will you use the one billion space credits in prize money?

"I'll donate it to charity and help the less fortunate, especially to Octoman and Leon. And whatever's left over, I'll fund the Elite Mobile Task Force."

That is quite generous of you.

May I have your autograph, Champ?


"Sure."

She wrote her full name in script. It was all in a silvery glitter. And a comet was slanting to the left over her name. Her location was also in cursive below it.

I'd like to present this autograph to one lucky viewer on F-Zero TV! Here's the address!

He pointed to the shimmering signature as well as the coordinates.

Listen to that crowd! Do you have anything to say to them?

"Always follow your dreams and make them happen, no matter what."

What's the most important requirement for a racer?

"Teamwork and determination! You can't possibly win if you don't have both."

What do you do when you're not racing?

"Oh, the usual. Sometimes I write fanfiction, explore and revisit certainparts of the galaxy, or just chill or help out my friends when they need me. I also do some practice races from time to time."

Why was your machine called the Silver Comet?

"It was an homage to Hailey's Comet; I saw it once on a live broadcast when I was really young. And I stuck with it ever since. Plus, I like when things have a lot of luster."

How did you and Rick become so close?

Tinsel was not expecting this one. She closed her eyes and took a very deep sigh.

"I've met him at Red Canyon while he was chasing Samurai Goroh, and I realized we were both F-Zero pilots. We have a lot in common, and I always liked competing with him. After hearing about his past, we were starting to bond overtime. Our attachment just grew stronger as we understood each other. And I hope that his scars from that tragic day 150 years ago would heal."

What are your dreams for the future?

"I hope that Rick and I will have a brighter future ahead of us. And perhaps win more F-Zero races, if the time comes."

I see. Thank you for the interview. That's it, everyone. We'll see you at the next Grand Prix.

A/N: The setting was of course from F-Zero GX; that was the fun part after a pilot has won first in the Grand Prix. I'm not sure if this should be canon or not. And I'm not really confident on doing an interview for Rick, even though I personally think he needs one like this. I can't help it, I really like the guy! And he was in GP Legend instead of GX. About her answer on hoping for more F-Zero races, I wish for the same since there hasn't been a new game since 2004. Far too long! And perhaps the characters from GP Legend/Climax will be on there as well. This fic was pretty fun to make.

I hadn't really seen Hailey's Comet before; I hope I'll be able to see it if I happen to live in 2061. I hadn't really played the Grand Prix on Expert/Master, so the questions from that were quite a treat. Also, I'd highly encourage those who want to ask Tinsel anything depending on what it is. I'll try and answer each one since she's my OC. I hope I'll come up with some good scenarios for "Ending it All" pretty soon, so please be patient.

 

 

Also, I LOVE this vid made by Silverreploid CLE, who's a huge fan of the anime including the English dubs like I am! Think of it as sort of a sneak peek for my outstanding F-Zero epic coming soon!!

 

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TheIkranRider

Ok, futuristic racing fans! This is it!! My all-time favorite fic of the entire F-Zero series, Ending it All! This fic means so much to me as I put an end to the GP Legend saga in which 4Kids FAILED to do!! Let's get this started!

Ending it All

Disclaimer: I don't own F-Zero GP Legend; it belongs to Nintendo, 4Kids, TVTokyo, etc. I just happen to be a fan.

This is a series of flashfics and crossovers involving the original character, Tinsel Steelus. Her friends have suddenly vanished and it's up to her to find them, and put an end to it all.

Lap 1

It was a typical Sunday spring morning and Tinsel was piloting her machine, known as the Silver Comet. It was a vehicle that was created by Dr. Clash as she enrolled in the first F-Zero Grand Prix several years ago. It lights up like a comet and it leaves a "tail" behind as it reaches top speed. It also has a weapon, a built-in ice beam to freeze her enemies. Dr. Clash said it was one of his prototypes in creating these magnificent machines, since none of the others didn't have any of these weapons.

She just stopped by at Burt's diner, the Falcon House, for her breakfast and she was talking to a young hacker named Clank Hughes. She greeted them. "Hey, guys. Just came to pick up some breakfast before I do my usual duties in the Task Force." She stretched to loosen her muscles. "So, how're they doin'? I bet they couldn't wait to see me. I've made some new friends over the past few weeks..."

Burt and Clank had some glum looks when she mentioned her companions.

"What's wrong...?"

Burt answered, "We haven't seen the Task Force anywhere for the past couple weeks. They've never given us any contact, nor have they returned to their headquarters. And according to Clank, their connections have been missing... Tinsel...I'm worried."

Her heart skipped a beat and she thought about Black Shadow and his minions. What if he got 'em? Will they be beyond saving? How come they never found me? Suddenly, she had a flashback when he met Black Shadow for the first time.

It was back at Lightning. The planet's name said it all because the weather always had scattered lightning zigzagging across the sky, but strangely there was no rain. A power plant was destroyed which generated power throughout the planet using its electricity as energy. Everything was dark and the only thing she saw was coming from the nasty lightning bolts.

She watched as Black Shadow met Captain Falcon as he planned to steal the prize after he wins the Grand Prix. "I would assassinate anyone who stands between me and the prize. Simple as that!"

His hands shot out and he got Falcon caught in his energy binds. Then in a flash of light his clone, Blood Falcon, came out and put a speed-sensitive bomb on top of the Blue Falcon. Hoping to dismantle it she jumped into her machine and took off at the speed of light. Her friends, Yugi and Joey, were right on her tail. Joey flew ahead on his Red-Eyes Black Dragon, while Yugi was riding inside the Comet. Joey pursued the bomb as his dragon tried to land on it and lift it off. However its talons kept slipping as the Falcon boosted and made sharp turns on the track. There were also numerous obstacles laying around including a few dirt roads. Eventually, he came to an unfinished road as he crashed through a sign that said "Under Construction." He went over a gap and saw a hook hanging from a huge crane. At first the Blue Falcon soared too low but Joey's Red-Eyes lifted it and the hook knocked off the bomb as it exploded in the water below. They made it to the other side and the Silver Comet trailed along.


Her flashback ended but her mind was still preoccupied with thoughts about Black Shadow's existence. "How can he still be alive after all this time..!" she whispered to nothing but thin air. "Didn't Deathborn kill him earlier? Maybe after Deathborn died, he magically came back to life! How could that be...?"

Clank and Burt grew suspicious on her rambling. What did she know about Deathborn and Black Shadow that they didn't? Clearly, she was trying to hide something, but the secret just kept peeking itself out, bothering her.

She heard some noise--something familiar. Suddenly, she pulled herself back to reality, realizing Clank called out to her. "Tinsel! Are you alright?"

"Oh...yeah. Everything's fine..." She took a deep breath to regain her composure. "I think I should go and visit headquarters just to see what's up."

"I'll go with you!" he said.

"No, you cannot. I don't want yourself to walk into an ambush. It's best if you stay here."

"Awww, geez." he moaned.

"What do ya say, Burt? Maybe if I find Rick, I'll bring him back for ya."

"I'd like that. Very much." he said.

"Alright. I'll investigate the place..." Her stomach started to growl. Embarrassed, she said, "...just as soon as I grab something to eat. I can't go on an empty stomach, ya know." She had a plate with two scrambled eggs, a pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese and scallions, and a glass of orange juice. She ate heartedly and in a half hour, she said goodbye and was off to the Task Force's turf.
 

Tinsel found a tall 30-story building at the heart of Mute City. It was the headquarters of the Elite Mobile Task Force. She remembered the first time she met Rick Wheeler, and grown fond with him ever since. They've been close allies for the past year. She was, however, least fond of Jack Levin. She heard he used to be a member of a rock band before he became an F-Zero pilot. But it was because of his arrogant nature that kept her at bay. She also liked Lucy Liberty, who was the newest and youngest recruit after her. They've been through a lot and they became close companions. Then there was Mr. EAD, an android who was betrothed to the famous black singer, Kate Alen. She still couldn't believe that an android could fall in love with a human being. She remembered Jody Summer, the leader of the Task Force, and John Tanaka. Tinsel didn't forget the time she saw them saved by Captain Falcon before the power plant in Lightning exploded, thanks to Black Shadow. And, of course, there was Dr. Stewart, the medical genius that saved countless lives during the Grand Finale in the first F-Zero Grand Prix. It had been suspended for seven years, as far as Tinsel knew; she didn't participate because she was still traumatized about her failure back in White Land:

It was during the Queen League and she was nearing the end of the big race. The last course was White Land where there was a monstrous blizzard and very treacherous roads. She could barely see the other racers as the snow blew haphazardly across her windshield, so she let them pass her. After a millisecond she was in the back of the pack. There were so many turns that the Silver Comet slowed down so it wouldn't crash into the guardrails. When it did, its power would decrease, making it more vulnerable to burn out and explode. At the corner of the course was a huge gap, almost 50 feet long. She didn't gain enough speed, so she backed up and went full throttle on the jump. She tried to follow the other racers, whom all made it to the other side. Somehow, she wasn't able to. She and the Comet started to fall and the machine was devastated. She didn't remember much after that, except she had hypothermia from the blizzard as she was taken on a stretcher and airlifted to a hospital. Despite the accident, the race was still on, until it finished. Of course, it was Captain Falcon who emerged victorious. She woke up at an intense heat wrap in a white, empty room and the nurses told her about the accident and her loss in the race. She couldn't get her failure out of her mind; in fact, when she got better, she decided to hide her machine in a garage in Mute City. It was never used again until the GX Grand Prix thirteen years later. She was lucky she was able to have it back and she hoped that one day, she will overcome her fears and make it over that gap.

She went up to the front door and slipped her license into the slot. It buzzed and spoke, "Tinsel Steelus. Access granted." The doors parted allowing her to walk through. Normally there would be a lobbyist waiting for her; however, there was none. The room was abnormally quiet and dark. All she saw were papers being blown in the wind. It looked like the place had been deserted. It was quite an eerie sight, but she continued to walk until she reached the floor where she would usually meet her friends.

Even they didn't show up. She began calling their names, but there was no response. It was so empty that her echoes ricocheted off the walls. "Rick...Jack...Lucy..."

She accidentally knocked a wheeled chair over as she was looking. "Jody...Dr. Clash...Dr. Clash, is this a joke?" She always loved his humor which cheered her up in the most dire situations. She walked down a narrow hallway and found Jack's room. Clothes were thrown all over the place and posters of various rock bands hung on the walls. "Jack...Jack..." She looked on his bed. Usually Jack was a heavy sleeper and she wanted to wake him up. "Jack? Are you awake...?" As she moved the covers off, he wasn't there.

She checked the doctor's office but Dr. Stewart was nowhere to be found. She even looked in the garage. Dr. Clash and Lucy were gone, including all of the machines the Task Force had. There were no notes or anything posted in the building. She at least had to find something so she would know where they were. Then she remembered what Burt had said and the words kept repeating in her mind: "They haven't been here in a couple weeks... Their connections were missing... Tinsel, I'm worried."

On her last effort on looking for at least a piece of paper to explain their whereabouts, she found a humongous white tube and a syringe dripping white, translucent fluid. She looked close at the syringe secreting the fluid. She wiped it with a nearby paper towel and had an idea. She will bring it to Dr. Stewart's son, Rodney, so he can examine it for her. His medical facility was in the outskirts of Mute City; he was also a prodigy who had knowledge passed down by his dad and his grandpa, Kevin.

She put the syringe in her pocket and found a piece of paper with thick layers of dust on it. Poof! It flew off as she blew on it. It revealed a list of races that the Task Force should be participating in. Tinsel decided to get involved in favor of their absence. She headed back to her Silver Comet, looking closely at the schedule. The first race was next week at 10:00 am at the planet, Tortiz 3. Green Plant was smack dab there.

She hadn't been there since she was in the hovercraft races, so she thought, Hm. Maybe I'll ask Burt and Clank for directions... And maybe I'll photocopy the schedule of the races so he could keep track of them. He'll probably let me know if he sees Rick, because when it comes to him he's always the top dog!

She smiled at the thought and she cruised to her house at a nearby apartment complex where she made copies of the schedule. It still worked even with little specks of dust on the paper.
 

Finally she went back to the diner and gave Burt the schedule. "Thanks, Tinsel. I'll keep a close watch on Rick and his buddies. Good luck on the race next week."

"Thanks, Burt."

"If you need any adjustments on your Comet, let me know."

"Sure thing, Clank. I'll be training in the old course if you need me." The old course was a great run for the Silver Comet. It was the first course made in Mute City; there were no loops, just a few curves and a bump that made the machine jump. She timed herself on each lap and every one was faster and easier than the last. There weren't any hiding spots but somehow Miss Killer was watching Tinsel race without her noticing.

A/N: The Silver Comet was my inspiration of Hailey's Comet. Like the comet I was thinking of a name several years ago for my character, so I thought that Tinsel would be good. Like a comet, its visible from its radiance and so is the tinsel on a Christmas Tree. As for Steelus, when I was leaving high school on a bus, I heard a boy said "steel uss." But it was actually an accent meaning Steelers as in the Pittsburg Steelers. And a little info about the Comet; the settings are CAB. It has moderate body strength, an excellent boost, and a nice firm grip as it turns. 

I first became interested in the anime after my brothers found it. It was after I played F-Zero GX back in the summer of '04. When I found out it's been cancelled I was disappointed, since it only had 15 out of 51 episodes made in the US alone. That was when I thought about Tinsel looking for her friends in the Task Force, who have suddenly disappeared without a trace. I've been thinking about that incident for years. And now I'm writing it! They'll be more just as soon as I get my scenarios together. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Comments are welcome.

 

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: Welcome back to another chapter, although this one may be the latest for some time, as I still need to put some scenarios together. Tinsel continues to look for the Task Force while she competes in a F-Zero race in Green Plant. Will she be successful on both ends?

Lap 2

On one side of Tortiz 3, the portion that is rarely hit by vicious windstorms, was a world inhabited by humans and numerous fertile plants, emitting oxygen to sustain life. It was a secondary planet for the immense human population and so Biotechnologists created these plants to create an automated oxygen-generated facility; hence the name. The course itself had an enormous pipe intersecting the course. There were also some cylinders to make the course a challenge for amateur racers. At precisely 10:00 the stands were filled with millions of fans of all life forms throughout the universe.

The announcer spoke, "Welcome to an astonishing race here at Green Plant! And now, here come the contestants!" He described each one, including Bio Rex's, Tinsel's, and Octoman's machines. The Deep Claw, a narrow red machine, was piloted by a red octopus from the planet Takora. Octoman was one of Zoda's henchmen working for Black Shadow. Another car also was used by the second one of Zoda's thugs. The Big Fang, Bio Rex's vehicle, looked like a green tank with thick, sharp fangs sticking out of its exterior. Bio Rex was a genetically-engineered dinosaur with a ravenous and aggressive personality. He was ideal for Zoda to pick such a reckless enemy. The two cars were located in the front while Tinsel was in the back along with a machine that almost resembled between a green, yellow shark and a torpedo with three dorsal fins. The machines hovered and the gates lowered.

"3...2...1...GO!" The race was on!

During the final lap, she saw the Big Fang and the Deep Claw as she caught up. She realized them as Black Shadow's minions and she won't let them win this race and take the prize money for his benefits. As he saw her, Bio Rex snorted, "Hmmph! That's Tinsel Steelus! The only surviving member of our enemies. What do ya say we...tick her off! Hehehehehe!"

"Ah, yes, a great idea." Octoman responded. "I'll distract her while you ram her out of her misery. She must be under a lot since she lost her friends. Heeeheeheehee!"

"Yeah!? Well we'll see about that!" They boxed her in but she slowed down and swiped Octoman clear off the track.

Bio Rex was more ferocious. "You'll never win, Tinsel."

"Ah, go munch on some mammoth ribs. Although I wouldn't because they're so fattening."


"Why you...!"

He kept knocking the Silver Comet against the guardrails to lower its energy. In fact her energy was so low that the alarm started to go off. Sparks flew as she was getting squished by the heavy tank. Off in the distance the torpedo-like machine showed up, it was the Hyper Speeder. The pilot was dressed up in a green dinosaur suit. "So this is Bio Rex, huh? I have found you!" he muttered.

He raced ahead and saw him and Tinsel taking a fight to the death. The Comet couldn't take anymore abuse and smoke was rising from its exterior. Just when it seemed all hope was lost, the Speeder zoomed toward the Big Fang and hammered it from the side. Bio Rex tried to hit back but it was too slick. It was very agile and it repeatedly hit the Big Fang when it was vulnerable after an attack. With a swift spin the vehicle flipped, crashed into the guardrail, and exploded on impact.

Tinsel crossed the finish line first then the mysterious pilot in the Hyper Speeder. The crowd roared as they stood up from the stands.

"A spectacular victory for Tinsel Steelus! This crowd is going wild for this newcomer!"

After they made their victory lap, Tinsel and the dinosaur-suited pilot jumped out of their vehicles and shook hands. "Great race, newcomer!" he said.

"Thanks! You didn't do so bad yourself! I did appreciate how you hammered Bio Rex, I was almost at my last legs. Thanks for your help!"

He turned bashful. "Ahhh...It's alright. My real name is Christopher Annex, but you can call me Beastman."

"Nice to meet you, I'm Tinsel. Tinsel Steelus."

"I admire your machine, Tinsel. Well, I should be going and capture that ugly carnivore before he starts anymore trouble."

"Yeah, thanks again."

"See ya later." He waved and walked away.

But before he was out of her sight she told him. "Wait, wait! Will I see you in the next race?"

"That all depends. I could be...as long as there isn't anymore fierce animals for me to catch!" He saluted and he was off leaving Tinsel with her first 1st place win and the prize money with her trophy.

At the dark room Octoman was sobbing. He wiped his yellow eyes with one of his red tentacles and his tears were made of ink. "Ohh, that stings... What is Black Shadow gonna say to me now...?"

"Octoman?" He stood up, startled, and through the glare he saw Tinsel walking over to him.

"Please...don't hurt me...I surrender..."

"I'm not here to harm you. Just calm down and tell me. What're you crying for?" That was a first since she saw one of her enemies in tears; however, Octoman wasn't her enemy to begin with.

"Black Shadow's gonna kill me 'cause I lost the race... He's been more brutal than he's ever been when the Task Force disappeared. Miss Killer will do the same since she is his right-hand man...er, woman..." More tears flowed and he covered them with one of his arms.

"No, it's not like that. It doesn't have to be that way. Why did you work for Black Shadow anyway? You weren't always like this."

"The Federation just couldn't get enough of me and my people. We were always being hunted down by them and we were surrounded by many enemies. Our economy is also failing, so I was recruited by Black Shadow to get my vengeance. That'll show 'em not to mess with me! It's only just to keep my credentials at bay, that's all."

"You don't have to do this. I'll make sure you are protected. I mean...You do remember last year when I gave the money to you so that your planet can prosper and that you can save your children? Well, I did it all for you, you're not truly my enemy." She put her hands on his face, how slippery it felt, like a fish out of water. Her voice softened as she looked into his eyes. "I can see you... You're just you. Don't make it much harder for yourself and for your people back in Takora."

"Tinsel..."

"Go back to your world and do what you have to do there. Unless if you want to help me search for the Task Force-"

"No! I won't let you...I'm sorry...I can't do that. I won't let them catch me and treat me like I'm a traitor to my family. I thank you for your help...but, I need to hide myself for awhile."

"I understand. Just remember what I told you."

He sniffed. "Thanks, Tinsel..." He sniffed again and walked away sliding his tentacles with his head bowed and his arms drooped at his sides. Tinsel made a promise to help change Octoman's reputation when everything is over.
 

Back at home, Tinsel changed into her racecar pj's and tucked herself in. She looked at Rick's picture with his girlfriend. She took it from his room when she was looking for him. They looked so nice together and then she made an amazing discovery. That girl looks exactly like Miss Killer! Could it be that she was brainwashed by Black Shadow? Only one way to be sure; if she finds the Task Force she'll find Black Shadow. And what about the syringe she found?
"Well...I guess I'll make an appointment with Rodney and find out..." She yawned and had a restless, dreamless sleep.

Rodney Stewart had just got his doctorate and his facility was close to the old course Tinsel was training at. Earlier she talked to him on the phone and he scheduled an appointment for tomorrow at 11:00 am. She was right on time and she met the receptionist. She said hello and she was expecting an appointment for her. "Dr. Rodney will be there shortly. Please take a seat."

After 15 minutes he came out and called for Tinsel. He was wearing a long white robe and his hair was the same color as his dad's only much shorter.

She walked over to his room and she discussed about the tube and the syringe. "I was looking for your dad back at the Task Force's headquarters, but he wasn't there. When I tried to find him in his lab I found a note." She took it out of her right pocket. She unraveled it, saying: "Tinsel, use this tool when you need it."

"I had no idea what it was used for. I was hoping you would figure it out."

"Alright, I'll take the tube and the syringe to the lab and find out what's inside it. Whatever it is, I'm sure it's very useful. Heh, my dad never goes wrong when it comes to chemicals."

"Thanks, Doc." She handed him the tools and he was off, leaving Tinsel waiting and wondering what they might be.

The fluid must be very potent, whatever it may be used for. Why would Dr. Stewart give me a note to use it? He must have prepared all this in a hurry no doubt.

After 20 minutes, Rodney came back and asked Tinsel to go with him to the lab. Inside was a lot of test tubes, burners, chemicals, and pills. They were stored neatly on the shelves in perfect order. Some of the test tubes had fluids bubbling inside. And a few robots were assisting Rodney with handling the strong chemicals properly. With goggles and plastic gloves, the duo went to the place where the tube and the syringe were laid, next to a microscope. Its lens could go up to 1000x to see what's inside the fluid. He looked closely through them and saw a bunch of different cells floating inside the fluid on the small, clear swab.

He observed, "This solution is very interesting! My father must've had a good reason on giving it to you."

"What's up, Doc?"

"It seems that this is some kind of an enhanced developer of the brain. If I'm correct, it could be used as a mind-controlling agent. Of course, it's not used for mind control, but rather to reverse the effects of it, restoring the brain to its normal functions."

"Wow! That's amazing!"

"Is there anyone you know that may be brainwashed or something...?"

"I'm not sure, but I fear for the worst for the Task Force. Maybe they could be hypnotized by Black Shadow because they haven't returned for quite sometime. Or...maybe it's used for that girl Rick knows; he said that she resembles a girl named Haruka and he thinks that that's her working for Zoda and the others."

"That may be. If you are right, I suggest you hold on to it. Like I said, my dad must've had a motive on placing his responsibility in your hands."

"Thanks, Doc. I'll let you know if anything comes up."

"Tell my father I said hi."

"I will, and I'll do my best to keep it safe."

"I'm counting on you, and so is my dad." He thumbed-up and she left the hospital with pride.

A/N: I know that this story is pretty much leaning toward GX more than GP Legend, but GX is my favorite game in the series and one of my favorite courses is Green Plant. And according to the profile, Octoman does want money to restore his planet and the Milky Way Federation does always give him and his kind a hard time. That's why Tinsel sees the good in him and she wants him to use it rather than work for Black Shadow.

If you look at Robert Stewart's profiles, he doesn't have a son. Rodney is an original character inspired by the singer Rod Stewart, although his real name is Roderick. I know it's kinda weird but...hey, Tinsel needs someone to talk to now that Dr. Stewart has gone away. If I get some more scenarios together I'll come up with more chapters, so keep a sharp eye for it.

 

 

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TheIkranRider

Lap 3

At the Falcon House, Burt and Clank were enthusiastic on Tinsel's victory back in Green Plant.

"Great job, Tinsel! You totally nailed that track; I thought for sure you'd be squashed like a bug from that Big Fang!"

"Thanks, I appreciate that. Although I had some help thanks to Beastman. He seems to be pretty bashful, but I hope I'll see him in the next race with that awesome Hyper Speeder."

After Burt gave her a cup of fresh iced tea, he asked, "Were you able to find anything on the whereabouts of Rick and the others?"

She shook her head in despair. "No. I'm sorry, Burt. I found nothing. Dark Million wouldn't say anything, except when Bio Rex kept discouraging me. Octoman never said a word either after I offered him to go back to Takora. I wish Rick was there. By the way, where's the next circuit?"

"The next course is at Sand Ocean, and the track is nicknamed Sandstorm." Clank analyzed the data on a tablet. It was pretty obvious since each race there is prone to them.

"It's close to Tortiz 3, right? I remember competing there 13 years ago, and Death Wind was right after it."

"It's on its own planet, and it's a complete desert. There says to be no lifeforms, until a fearless adventurer discovered ruins of a 30,000-year old civilization deep within the sand dunes. Although the inhabitants are often a rare find, and the air is almost toxic. Nevertheless, it is popular among tourists. I also used to explore there with Jody; we couldn't find any treasures, or the hunters, unfortunately."

Tinsel sighed, "I can't wait to race in Sand Ocean again. It's been so long..."

"You'll have to be careful. The course could have a lot of friction. And it's very deadly, considering there are very little guardrails."

"I will. Thanks, Clank. I sure hope Rick and the others will be there as well." When she was done, she trained at Sand Ocean's course from the first Grand Prix beating her own record times. She also remembered learning how to drift there, and Big Blue before that. She was able to master it sooner than Rick did. And she did her homework as she saw vids from various competitors, as well as seeing an old movie known as "Tokyo Drift." She also looked up the history as it was a technique used by the Japanese in the early 1970s. Even contests were held there and she strategized she'll have the advantage as long as she clips the inside track. It was a risky technique, but she'd gotten used to it when dealing with large curves; drifting truly worked wonders!
 

Sure enough, the circuit was exactly how Clank described it, and she couldn't be distracted by the humongous fish flying across the sky. Or even by the monstrous worm that ate one of the fish as it dove back into the hazardous sands during the final lap. There were also some narrow roads and some flashing signs pointing in the direction she needed to go before she'd plunge to the suffocating sands below. Some machines were unfortunate enough as they turned too late, others were demolished by foolhardy pilots who made a sharp side attack, including Tinsel. In addition, the heavy winds were slightly knocking them off.

Like they say, slow and steady wins the race, she thought making her driving as thorough as possible.

There, she encountered two unique pilots in one machine that cut ahead of her, and she was very impressed on how they handled it in sync amongst the harsh conditions. The two cockpits were actually connected into one contraption.

"An astonishing finish for the Twin Noritta! Gomar and Shioh's talents were immeasurable as they navigated through the sandstorm. The second-place winner goes to the Silver Comet, as the newcomer, Tinsel, had remarkably survived this course! Fans are growing ecstatic for them!" the announcer said over the roaring weather. By the time the competition ended though, it began to subside.

After that race, Tinsel began to become more somber after she realized her friends never showed up. Gee, I wonder where Rick and the others have gone... She wasn't even sure how long it has been since she last saw them either.

When they met after the duo took the Gold trophy while Tinsel was the runner-up, the Furikake people told her everything.

"Awesome job, you two! So, who are you guys?"

"I am Gomar." a short, plump, toad-like creature said.

"And I am his partner, Shioh." added a taller, skinnier creature.

Gomar was the one with the high intellect, while Shioh had the taller physique. They're envious of each other's abilities, yet they get along just as well. Tinsel was shocked they used to be criminals; however, she was relieved after they revealed they were released on bail thanks to the prize money they earned earlier. It wasn't much since they've burnt out, but their friends and ever-increasing family were able to give them some charity. Also, they were put on probation from stealing anymore machines or their components.

"Yeah, but we still can't wait on meeting Black Shadow! Oh, he's so elegant, and black with that awesome cape..." the small fry stated.

"Kind of like a hero." the thin figure cupped his hands over his chest.

"Uh, newsflash. No, he isn't!" Tinsel told them everything involving her first encounter, and Dark Million's motive on ruling the galaxy.

They also told her that they're a step closer from achieving their dreams as F-Zero champions.

"Wait... Why is there two of you? I thought each machine should have only one pilot."

They were at first disqualified before the F-Zero X Grand Prix as they were two individuals, yet somehow the EAD Foundation convinced the committee otherwise. Since they are from the planet Huckmine, they have an unusual relationship as they have a tendency to pair for life. As soon as the Furikakes emerge from their seed pods, which could be dormant for centuries, they get engaged with their partners. Until they could somehow find a mate and marry, thus finding new partners. Both Gomar and Shioh have long dreaded for that day as they would never see each other again.

She was surprised they knew Lucy Liberty, who recently helped them make some adjustments on their vehicle. At first the machine had a moderate grip and a weak body; however, she managed to increase its strength while minimizing its turning ability by just one level. Unfortunately, it still had some low top speed. And she was also able to build an extra cockpit after one was severely damaged in the GX Grand Prix last year.

"Well, since you know her, how about you help her out? Just as a way to return the favor? And since you're helping the Galaxy Police, maybe it could give you some leniency on your criminal record?"

"Sure! We'll do it. And we can achieve our dream! Right, partner?" They high-fived each other.

A/N: This lap was very short, as I still need to come up with some better material. I hope Revivedracer209 could help me in this bind. 

The way I saw it, I wanted the Death Wind theme play in the background, much like another course. It's a reference of one of the circuits featured in a special game known as Broadcast Satellite F-Zero Grand Prix 2; unfortunately it's Japan-only. I found that on a LP. Sand Storm was one of the circuits featured there: the first being Mute City IV which was as decent as the one in the Queen League except there are several jump pads, the second is an advanced version of Big Blue, the third is the first Sand Storm course which is almost a rehash of Sand Ocean with the Fire Field theme, the fourth is a more tedious version of Silence, and lastly was another Sand Storm but with a Death Wind atmosphere. There were also some modified versions of the original four machines known as the Blue Thunder, the Luna Bomber, the Wild Amazone, and the Fire Scorpion. This chapter also had some references to the difficult Diamond Cup course on GX with Sand Ocean's Lateral Shift. 

After seeing the episode "Lucy's First Duel" in the Japanese anime with English subtitles, I decided to change the Twin Noritta's stats: Its Body had the D rank, it's Boost was excellent in A, and the Grip was so-so in C. However, I changed it so it would have the D rank while dealing with curves. You know, DAD?

Plus, it had some throwbacks to the original game with the third course from the Knight League. And it introduced Gomar and Shioh, some of my favorite, unique pilots. They always had a great sense of teamwork and camaraderie between them, even though the Twin Noritta is cool but not quite as strong. So, another simple lap done, let's hope I'll come up with a better one next time.

 

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TheIkranRider

Lap 4

Somewhere in outer space, Zoda was infuriated as he realized Octoman was missing in action. "Bah! Where the hell is that obnoxious Octoman?!" He was so enraged that he actually kept trashing the space station while looking for him and his Deep Claw. He was close to his breaking point, "Errrgh! Someone answer me before I blow somebody's brains out!"

"Who're you looking for Zoda the Zealous..?" He looked and saw Luna Ryder, glaring at him and his destruction.
"Don't toy with me, Lady! Octoman is gone 'cause of that self-righteous imbecile, Tinsel! That slippery fish got away with it. We need more recruits or else we, along with him, are gonna be in the fryer!"

"Relax. I'm certain we will track down Octoman somehow." she responded, cold and composed as ever. "But until then, we need to clip her tail. Lord Shadow is going to send out you and Baba to the next Grand Prix. It matters not if she'd participate. However, we must keep ourselves from losing royally. We cannot let the secrets of the Task Force be revealed just yet."

Even Zoda was convinced by her words, like a chill shimmering down his spine. "You are quite the talker. Your resolve has stunned me since Black Shadow recruited you." He was just glad he'd be chosen with his buddy, Baba, to exterminate her. "I can assure you that her punishment will be nice and brutal. Heheheh."
 

Tinsel received a message from Clank at the Falcon House. In her apartment, she picked it up via flat screen. He was all smiles, "Tinsel! Awesome work nailing that Sandstorm! Too bad you only got second, though."

"It's alright, Clank. I don't mind as long as Dark Million doesn't get the profits. By the way, you haven't heard from Rick or the others, have you?"

His face dropped. "Sorry, Tinsel. Nothing. But at least someone, or some two people, are willing to join you. Gomar and Shioh will do great."

"Yeah... But I only wish at least he was here. It's been too long; something must've definitely happened to him!" Her voice was rising as it started to crack.

"Hey, hey, don't get upset. You need to keep your head up, champ." Burt chimed in.

"I'm sorry, Burt. I-I didn't mean to make the kid upset."

"We're doing everything we can, but we haven't gotten a connection yet. Still, you must be ready for that Big Blue race tomorrow."

"I know." Her mind was fixed on the fact her best friend was still missing. She couldn't wait to compete on that nostalgic track, though. That alone kind of lifted her spirits. It also cost a lot to enter, but considering that Dark Million would show up, this was not the time to worry financially.

"We're counting on you, and so is Rick and his friends. Do well, Tinsel."

"We'll be cheering for ya." Clank added.

"Thanks, guys." She ended the message.

Her mind shifted elsewhere as she remembered Jody's voice; it was a lecture from her at the headquarters and she doesn't get them very often.

"I need to tell you something. You're not really in trouble, Tinsel. But you soon might be. For you see, you do have the talent of an F-Zero racer. But...you mostly suffer from meekness."

"What, meekness? What's that?" she wondered, as she never heard that word before. It sounded very close to weakness. 

"It means that you hold back during each of your races. We noticed that you don't go all out like Rick and Jack do. You are a woman, of course, and they can get a bit scared when the going gets rough. But sometimes, you need to let yourself go, and not fall back. You cannot second-guess yourself, either. Sometimes, you'll have to take risks, be more assertive. You keep seeing how Wheeler is, right?"

And that's a huge difference between them. He's bold, aggressive, hotheaded, and sometimes reckless and disobedient; but she's the complete opposite of him. 

"I see." Tinsel tried to take it all in; she was right about that.

Jody said, "There will be a time when you need to take chances in order to succeed and overcome your limitations, not second-guess yourself or be hesitant. I'd noticed you often hold back when your Comet's power is low."

Tinsel was always nervous on destroying herself like she did in White Land. If she could conquer her fears, and perhaps be with Rick and the others more, she can become stronger, and achieve more victories. 

"This is meekness not weakness, there is a difference. You can't always play it safe. Only those who go too far will know exactly how far they can go. Think about it."

"Only those who go too far will know exactly how far they can go." Tinsel repeated the words out loud. "Jody's right. I do need to take some chances. Risk equals reward sometimes, and there's so much at stake. Rick and Jody will be proud if I can break my limits." She then made a declaration and a clenching fist. "I will win this race and never hold back. For you guys."
 

The weather was dark and gloomy at night, and the waters were choppy. The starting line was at the back of the dolphin-shaped course, and the lights were very dim. The course is known as the Dolphin Dive.

"Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the elite course of Big Blue, the Dolphin Dive!" The announcer spoke over the roaring crowd. As usual, he presented each of the pilots, and Tinsel noticed... "Zoda is here..?" She saw the Death Anchor at the middle of the lineup, while the Comet was next to a machine that was grey and had patterns of tiger stripes. I wonder what that belongs to, she thought.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the remaining pest from the Task Force I wasn't able to...take over." the maniac laughed.

She remembered him well; he once tried to manipulate her mind as he unknowingly gave her a toxin mixed in with her drink while she was training at the Hovercraft Hub in Tortiz 3. She also knew Zoda was her target.

"Zoda. So we meet again."

"Only this time, it'll be your last. I have a crony that'll do the job." He pointed to that machine she saw earlier.

She reminisced for a second on Jody's words, and considering she's dealing with Rick's nemesis, he came into her mind filling her with some spite.

"You won't resist us this time, Tinsel. Victory's within our grasp, and you'll be seeing your friends very soon."

"We'll see about that, Zoda!" He was taken aback as she retorted.

"Ooh, a feisty one. I s'pose Wheeler has influenced you too much. Time to put an end to that! Hahahaha!" Her body tightened as he saw him withdraw into his vehicle. She hurried to her own just seconds before they were starting up.

As she clutched the steering handles, her fingers were turning white. "Zoda. I will defeat you." Despite the hazards on the course, Tinsel was always focused on the lethal enemy.

At times, the waves licked the track, making it slippery as each machine skidded on it. This was especially chaotic when they approached the dorsal fin as the turns were very sharp. This wasn't too much of a threat for the Comet as it had a decent grip; however, she found herself colliding with the guardrails as she was struggling on the pointed fin.

Another portion submerged the machines underwater by the bottlenose. The pool's current forced them to go in a direction they didn't want to go, making them lessen their speed or pushing them toward the walls. There were also some jumps and speed plates, though they must be careful not to dive into the ocean. And the most tricky part was where the belly curved in. They must be fully aware as they were using the jump pads, which was a must to get over the raging sea. Lastly, the circuit eased itself as they went through smooth curves at the tail. Then it was rinse and repeat, literally, as they went through these enduring trials for two more laps. This was clearly a test of skill as this wasn't only an expensive course, but was actually designed for daring, experienced pilots. Nevertheless, Tinsel was determined to stop Dark Million from prevailing.

Just then, as she was boosting across the track, she caught up to the missile-like car ahead of the tiger-striped one. She didn't hear what those evildoers were saying.

"Let's ram Tinsel out of the competition." the pilot of the Iron Tiger stated to his associate.

"Good, Baba. She's closing in on us. I'll take the cake while you dissuade her."

She was just about to pass her next opponent when the Tiger ramsacked the Comet. That certainly caught her off guard, and the monkey sneered at her. "Who are you?!" she shouted.

"I happen to be another drone for Dark Million. Zoda ordered me to squash you."

She saw the Death Anchor go further and further ahead. "Zoda...!"

"What's the matter, you had enough, weakling?" he mocked. "You'll never be able to help Wheeler out this way. What's the point of you being here?"

"Something that Rick was unsuccessful to do, to destroy you!"

"Go ahead and try! I'll see you after I win this race, catch me if you can!" he laughed hysterically as he boosted away. Coincidentally, the Anchor had the same level of speed as the Comet.

"Come back here!" Tinsel was still being crushed by the Tiger's strength, and the Comet couldn't take more harsh treatment. She couldn't even use her boost since it was being held back and its power was draining rapidly.

An oncoming blue machine saw the devastation as the two duked it out. And the pilot recognized one of them. "Tinsel..?" He saw the Comet burn up as it was on its last legs. He fell back and then slammed into the Tiger with all its might, causing the enemy to spin out.

Even though she wasn't out of the woods, Tinsel was relieved by the assistance of...Captain Falcon? "No. That's..." She recognized the pilot as an anthropomorphic wild dog. "Leon..?"

"Tinsel, is that you?"

"Leon!" she cried. Tinsel was surprised the Space Angler was there to help out in her desperate time of need.

"What're you doing here in Big Blue?" he asked over the mighty water.

"I can't explain right now. My machine's about to blow, and Zoda's taking the lead!"

"I can help! I want to return the favor after you donated the prize money to my home planet last year. I'll demolish the Iron Tiger while you pursue the Death Anchor."

"Alright, but I need to recover."

"There's a pit area before the final lap, use it!"

"I will, thanks. Be careful. He may be slow, but he's very strong."

As she hovered over the rainbow area, she accelerated as much as she could. "Full power! I'm coming for you, Zoda!"

"Yeah! The Final Lap!" The announcer called as they passed over. She was in second, and this was her only chance for victory!

"Zoda!"

He looked behind him, and the Comet was closing in. "You never give up, do you? You're just as much of a nuisance as that hot-headed bastard!"

Since the Death Anchor was made from a missile by the Galactic Federation, it was designed for high velocity and sharp turns; however, it's defenses were low. There was a rumor saying it had a self-destruct mechanism, unbeknownst to anyone, including the abnormal assassin.

As Tinsel raced against Zoda, Leon was having quite a fight with Baba. The wolf was at a disadvantage when it came to speed and endurance, but he hardly slipped within the track, just as the Iron Tiger didn't.

Zoda was fairly weaker than her but he was just as fast, making it a challenge to keep up. She performed a couple side attacks, slowing down the Death Anchor bit by bit.

"Ergh, you really are grinding my gears!" He fought back, but something else caught her eye. Leon was struggling with Baba behind her, and her ally was losing when his machine started to spark. Zoda noticed the commotion, too.

"Heh, looks like your furry friend is being fizzled. You got a heart-wrenching dilemma on your hands, Tinsel. Not so tough, after all. Are you...defect?"

Indeed, she did. She could either help Leon, but it'll cost her the race. But if she gets rid of Zoda, she may lose the canny canine for good. However, after he said 'defect', she had her answer.

"Nobody...calls me...a DEFECT!" With everything she had, including her sudden anger, she crashed into the Death Anchor at full force!

"Gaaagh!" He lost control over his car and it stumbled throughout the course. It eventually shut down and the exterior was heavily damaged. It also cost most of her own energy. Suddenly, unaware of what's happening, Baba accidentally crashed into it. With all the intense speed, he flew into the air and had no idea where he was going!

"Hah...Hah! I'm going down! Zoda, can you hear me?! I'm not gonna make it! Aggh!" The Iron Tiger descended and just crashed into the wall beneath the gap. The rest of their bodies were never found again as they were swept away by the relentless wrath of nature. Baba actually blew up as he plummeted to the raging sea below.

"Argh. You vicious brats!" he screeched at the top of his lungs. He just noticed them pass the wreckage.

There was an enormous problem for both of them, as they entered the gap themselves.

"We can't make it, Leon. We're low on power. What if we don't get enough acceleration?!" Tinsel screamed. She knew since the first F-Zero that as the machine went critical, they lose their top speed.

"We have to try. We don't have a choice; we must finish this together!" Leon said.

They continued to near the ramp, and Jody's words suddenly rang in her mind. You cannot second-guess yourself. Sometimes, you'll have to take risks, be more assertive. You can't always play it safe. Only those who go too far will know exactly how far they can go. Think about it.

"Jody..?"

There was a sudden idea that came to her. "Leon! Let me follow you. My machine can go faster, I can give you a boost so you can make it over!"

"Are you sure?"

"No. But...there's only one way to be!"

He nodded. Tinsel tagged behind him and gave the Space Angler a push before it soared into the air. Then, for a few harebrained seconds, she used another one to get herself over. With that kind of cooperation, they managed to sacrifice whatever was left of their energy and clear the ramp. They almost lost their minds in ecstasy as they made the rest of the way.

"Unbelievable! The Silver Comet and the Space Angler both crossed the finish line. And by a photo finish, the champion has been decided!"

Although, they weren't sure who won. By the time their victory lap was finished, they calmed down and then caught up on lost time:

"I hadn't really told you the whole story, Tinsel. So, allow me to fill you in. About twelve years ago, or thirteen counting this year, my parents were killed in a war on Zou." It was known that his species have natural advantages over humans, such as sharper reflexes and enhanced instincts. "One day, I met Super Arrow and Mrs. Arrow when the couple were vacationing there. They decided to give me a chance in racing the King Meteor using my prized machine, the Space Angler."

Demonstrating his outstanding abilities, it was decided he would be sent to the F-Zero Grand Prix to be a symbol of hope for his ailing, war-torn world. Although he wasn't considered bright nor strong, he proved to be an amazing pilot at the F-Zero races, despite his young age. "I was only sixteen then, and I was constantly being teased on by other pilots." His determination and performance has given him a good track record. "It's my dream to become champion so I can use the money to save the children of Zou from poverty and despair. And I can't thank you enough for your generous offer."

Recently, Leon worked as a busboy at the Falcon House. He had a secret crush on Lucy and was deathly afraid to confess it to her. With a lack of bravery and confidence he just shied away from her ever since. That was almost a similar predicament as Tinsel was unable to show Rick her feelings.

Then, it was her turn. During a flashback, Tinsel won second and defeated Blood Falcon. As she received the 200,000 space credits, she saw a disappointed coyote or perhaps a wolf ahead of her; through her research, she knew Leon. Tinsel gave away some of her prize money after hearing about him and his plight at Zou. Then they saw Black Shadow disappear as they gazed at Deathborn. There was a portal made of dark electrical energy, and a voice boomed from it, "Black Shadow! You failed AGAIN! You good-for-nothing..."

He was using an energy saber of sorts, and the demon was caught and electrocuted. "Argh! Forgive me, Lord Death." The demon reached out a hand and... "AAAARGGH!" He just vanished.

After meeting Lucy, he heard about Clank's crisis in the orphanage at Forno. Ironically, he was the head of an orphanage himself. To return the favor, he actually wanted to help her out to defend the galaxy's kids from Dark Million and search for the Task Force. He's heard some rumors that Tinsel was part of the team, but she told him that they've disappeared, and Dark Million may be behind this. Even Leon's shocked that Black Shadow's still around, and that he recognized the other villains he saw in a few races prior. With a smile, he vowed to stick with her.

Tinsel won first while Leon was in second. Yet again, she shared the money with him. "No, Tinsel. This time, you keep it. You deserve this victory! After all, this is your second first place win?"

"Yes, it is. Not counting the Hovercraft race, of course. I can't thank you enough, Leon. You really saved my hide back there."

"As you did with mine. I'll stick with you through thick and thin until we stop Dark Million for good. This time, it's for the kids, and for Rick and the Task Force."

"I'd appreciate that very much." They both raised the trophy, as a symbol, for their friendship, and sharing the wild triumph and their common goal.
 

"So, Tinsel has slewed Baba, I see?" Black Shadow said as he watched the race from the telecom inside a dark, massive room.

"Indeed she did, Lord Shadow." replied Luna Ryder, standing closely next to him. "We must defeat Tinsel and her allies before she soars way too high. She could destroy every single last one of us."

"Not necessarily, my dear." He reached down and brushed her hair. "For you see, we have something far more sinister in mind..."

He then pointed to several massive tanks, and the people trapped in them were motionless and wired. They were so obscure, that their bodies couldn't be identified. Except for some rough details...like Jack's spiky hair, or parts of Rick's uniform, or Clash's metallic body.

"They will soon awaken. And they would serve us loyally, regardless if they happen to be her friends-turned-foes. They've taken a face-heel turn in our favor, Miss Killer." He faced the comatose Rick. "You will be reunited with him yet, as his essence will get enveloped in a world full of darkness. He will be our new secret weapon, and Tinsel and the universe will be ours for the taking!" He clutched his fist, and let out a huge, passionate belly laugh.

A/N: Whew, glad that's over with; it took me almost 4ever to write this out. Again, thank you Siontix for the inspiration. The Japanese dubs were like hit or miss, mostly miss. Yet, I was able to pull thru with it, especially when I created a new track for Big Blue, the Dolphin Dive. I'm not really a course developer, so...yeah. Also, I think "Night of Big Blue" should be played during the race, and so should Leon's theme as well. Leon has always been one of my all-time favorite pilots since GX. 

Here's what I think the voice cast should be: Have Black Shadow, Deathborn, Captain Falcon, Blood Falcon, Leon, Beastman, Gomar and Shioh's voices from GX, and Jack and everyone else's voices except Zoda's from GP Legend. Zoda would pretty much sound like Kefka from Dissidia. I just can't take him seriously in the anime, except whenever he was around Rick, but that was it. And it seems that Black Shadow has something diabolical going on with him and the Task Force... Could the rumors be true, after all? Find out later, F-Zero fans!

 

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TheIkranRider

Lap 5

Tinsel and Leon headed to the Falcon House. Burt and Clank met the hungry hound.

"Wow, Tinsel! You never cease to amaze us! You've conquered that Big Blue race!" the kid replied enthusiastically.

"Yes, this is her second first-place victory. Congratulations!" Burt chimed.

"Thanks. I also met a friend there." She pointed to him. "His name is Leon, he's from the Planet Zou. And..." she motioned to Clank. "He's also an orphan like you are. As he lost his parents in a huge war there. He loves kids and even he's the head of an orphanage."

"Really? That's great!" he beamed. "Do you mind if I pet you?"

"Not at all, suit yourself." He lowered himself a little so the kid would reach his head. However, he just held out one of his hands.

"I was taught to let a dog lick me first before I can touch it." Sure enough, Leon did. He never minded the gentle caress on his face.

"It's been a long time someone actually petted me, let alone an Earthling." Then he began to pant.

"Just like any other dog. You're cute." Leon blushed at Clank's comment.

"It seems you two are rather hungry. May I fix you up something?" Burt asked.

"Sure." They both faced him and spoke. "Give us your best!" Leon said.

Burt made a raw fish platter for Tinsel consisting of sushi and shellfish, while Leon got tender meat with bones. They thanked him gladly as they dove in.

The patrons looked as they heard muttering coming from the entrance. The ringing door was no problem for a muscular man. He looked very strong and fit with his stature and ripped body, and he was holding three large cases. Though, his partner had to struggle a little. He was enormous and had magenta skin. He also had two pointed ears and a couple feelers, plus a large nose and his abdomen was enormous. "Just suck it in and tuck in your gut, Draq. Go in sideways."

They were all agog on how much air the large alien took in. "Oh look, my latest universal delivery is here. Thanks, Roger and Draq." Burt said.

"No problem!" The wrestler put down the heavy packages on the counter. "Delivering is what we do best."

"I can see why. Drinks are on me."

"Alright!" He pumped a fist. Draq let out a huge grin showing his shiny, pointed teeth. Unfortunately, he had to stand since the stools may not hold his weight.

As he passed out the beer, a pitcher for the pink guy, and a fresh, tall can for Roger, Burt introduced the onlookers.  "Guys, I'd like you both to meet Tinsel, Leon, and Clank."

"Hey, I know you, Tinsel. You were here with Rick one time."

She looked at Roger quizzically. "Huh? Have we met? You don't look familiar."

"I knew you a few months ago. You were here with Rick and Lucy; we met this sick kid in a wheelchair." Roger Buster told her he was the one who made a deal with a child at the Falcon House. A boy named Alias was scheduled for heart surgery next week. And then, there was the Fake Star cup.

"Oh yeah. I remember that fateful race. But I couldn't recall you were there." She wasn't able to make it since the ballot was full. Fortunately, she avoided a catastrophe as each machine had to slow down and remain in the orange zone. Dark Million attached a bomb sensor on each of them, and if they went too low or too high from the orange zone, they would explode. She grew suspicious of the incident, and she could've sworn she saw Falcon leap off the course intentionally and disable a blimp nearby.

Roger's incentive was to give the kid very rare mangos from another planet, while Rick wanted to win to fulfill his promise to him, and they made a handshake to "make it official." She remembered he was put on probation for quite awhile after that. Somehow, Draq was involved and then forgiven by his partner. That was when he described his encounter with Miss Killer, and her demand on giving her all his profits during the race in order for the bombs to be deactivated. And he couldn't fight against her since he's no interest in assaulting women, and he cared about his business a little too much.

"Huh. So that's why I haven't met you." she said to Draq.

"So, tell me." Clank chimed in. "Have you found any owners of those machines yet?"

"Sadly, no." The pink creature said as his head drooped.

Roger slapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, lighten up, big guy! At least we could still use them."

Tinsel giggled a little. Roger asked if there was something funny. "It's just...I always consider you as a wrestler than a racer."

"Sometimes I even train at the gym, as does Draq." He pointed his thumb at him. "They say he could lift up something as heavy as 5 tons, which is why he's an excellent partner. Although, he may seem intimidating, he's a gentle giant."

"Good to know." Leon said.

"Yeah, and he also owns the Mighty Typhoon, where as Roger has the Mighty Hurricane. It's...kind of hard to tell the difference." Both models appeared on Clank's tablet as he analyzed them.

"But that's not all." the man stated. "Draq is a long-time fan of the F-Zero races, where he competes as a pilot in the Mighty Typhoon. We first participated in the F-Zero X race five years ago. Then...we heard about the horrific accident." That brought back some painful memories for Leon.

"So I've heard." Tinsel stated.

She wasn't there, but she did hear it from Falcon last year: The bounty hunter told her, Yugi, and Joey there was a death tournament for the universe's most talented. He was a part of it, and was about to win first in Fire Field. Until someone caused a cataclysm on the track. Rumors began to spread that Pico did it due to his reckless driving, but he knew for sure it was Black Shadow. He remembered being hospitalized after that, and his DNA was stolen by him in order to make the perfect "champion." That was how Blood Falcon came into being. At least Dr. Robert Stewart saved as many as he could; there were 14 casualties. And there was also a pilot that was lucky to be alive as he had his body replaced by mechanical parts. He was known as the Mighty Gazelle, a very high-functioning robot. And Super Arrow was the one who escaped unscathed, winning the race.

"Wow... That's so tragic." Clank stuttered.

"It's true, Clank. Even I've heard of this chaotic event." Leon mentioned.

According to Roger, his partner's full name was Bellonngian Draquillie. People always called him Draq for short. The machine itself is quite unlike Draq, as it is lightweight and has excellent acceleration and boost abilities. Sometimes he has difficulty getting himself out of the cockpit because of his enormous size. He worked with him in the shipping business. For years Draq had idolized such racers as Silver Neelson and The Skull, despite himself being older than the rundown geezer.

"Oh boy." Tinsel said about the formerly deceased Sterling LaVaughn. "You'd better watch out for this guy. I hear he's the most lethal since he's a master of the black arts."

Roughly five years ago, before the X competition, Draq and Roger came across two machines tagged with an unknown recipient and no return address. Draq quickly convinced Roger to let them enter the machines in the last Grand Prix, telling him that they would surely be recognized if the pilots should watch them, and the rightful owners would come forward to claim them. No one did, however, and the two have decided to try again during the GX race. Still, there was no such luck. Draq hopes to this day to win a Grand Prix himself before the owners come to claim the machines, then he could use the prize money to buy a craft of his own.

"Hey, I also want to make an F-Zero museum, Roger." he added.

The built man concluded, "He actually practices his racing techniques by playing the video games."

"That's weird." the kid prodigy said. "I never saw any games like that in the orphanage. I didn't even know they existed."

"I wonder how they got him prepared as an F-Zero racer." Burt added. "It's not entirely the same."

Meanwhile, during their socializing in the Falcon House, they didn't know something treacherous was at foot. A trailer bed was being laid out in the dark parking lot. Two F-Zero vehicles were loaded on to it, and a legendary samurai and his gang were making the operations. The only thing that was noticeable was his long blade.

"C'mon you lowlifes!" the leader growled. "Hurry up before someone would see us!"

"We'll get these two out of here, honey." replied a woman with long, wavy teal hair. She was poking out from the driver's side window of their truck.

"Yeah! Don't sweat it, Dad!" A ten-year old boy spoke in a nasally voice, peeking from the opposite window. He also had a lengthy sword sticking out from a back scabbard. He was wearing nothing but goggles and torn clothes, showing off his tan legs and chest.

"Roger and Draq always go for drinks after their deliveries, this'll be the perfect opportunity." The attractive woman's teeth shined as did her eyes while she sneered.

The Mighty Typhoon and the Hurricane were lifted, making the truck have an obnoxious noise. That caused Leon's ears to perk up.

"Leon?" Clank asked after the wild dog hurriedly looked outside and whimpered.

The room fell silent. And they could hear some heavy machinery as it beeped and clanked. Through the back window, they made out the commotion. "Hey! Someone's trying to steal our machines!" Roger stormed out, and the rest of the crew followed. Draq still struggled as he exited.

"Hey!" Roger called over the chaos. "Are you the ones who own these machines!?"

From the shadows, a samurai warrior emerged. "Eheheheh. Why do we need ownership, when we can just take what is rightfully ours?"

Tinsel knew exactly who it was. "That's Samurai Goroh! The pilot of the Fire Stingray; the leader of the nefarious space bandits! What're you doing here?!"

"Ah, Tinsel. So at last we meet again. I've wanted to repay you from taking each Grand Prix victory away from me as you helped that bastard, Captain Falcon. And also for spilling the beans to Rick on who I was! You'll pay dearly for that!"

There was a flashback to the day when they first saw each other. Rick was retrieving stolen medicine as kids across the universe were suffering from severe ailments. Somehow Tinsel followed him to Red Canyon, and he was trying to look for Samurai Goroh who was responsible for the loot. She managed to use her Comet's ice beams to freeze and break the bars that kept the detective at bay. She told Rick all about her encounters with him, including her rivalry at the first Grand Prix, and watching Falcon beat him in a death race.
 

"We've noticed that the Task Force has been disbanded. There's practically no one who could stop us now! Hahaha!"

"Maybe not. But we can." she retorted.

"Try as you might. You can't win!" the woman challenged.

"You're gonna get it the hard way!" the kid stuck out his sword and his tongue. The truck sped up, and it disappeared within the darkness before Roger ran up to it.

"Those confounding thieves! We'll never catch them and get those machines back!"

"Clank, can you get a fix on the Hurricane and the Typhoon's location?" Tinsel queried.

"I would, but it's gonna require some hacking." he sulked.

"Anything to get our cars returned in one piece, boy." Roger assured.

After some vigorous work, Clank received a signal from the Mighty Hurricane and the Typhoon. Since he was the one who made the profile pages for every F-Zero pilot, as well as their records, he was able to hack into the vehicles in order to see where they were going. It was thanks to him that according to the foreign coordinates, he stated to the team they were heading to Red Canyon, particularly where the bandits' hideout was.

"I should've known..." she muttered.

"This place is very dangerous." Draq said uneasily.

"Toughen up, Draq. Do you want to get them back or not?!" Roger forced him into compliance.

"Don't worry, guys. We can help." Leon said.

"Now you're talking! I'm sure you can't do this alone. There's no way two people could stand up to a whole gang of thieves. I promise I won't let you down. If I can contact my friends, we could do it, I'm sure."

"I'm certain Rick will do the same, Tinsel. You're starting to be more like him already." Burt complimented.

"Thanks, Burt." That made her feel so good just hearing his name and taking the initiative. She went to her Comet and called Gomar and Shioh, as well as Beastman to help out. She wasn't able to get Octoman's comm number, though.

She and Leon will plan the pursuit tomorrow morning and make their way to the savage territory. Of course, everyone would need a decent shut-eye first.
 

During the journey through the warp gates, Tinsel informed her friends on the vengeful, desert warrior. Although some of the info was provided thanks to Clank: Goroh was a well-known Japanese sword wielder, then he competed in the first Grand Prix to modify his machine and test its abilities while he became a bounty hunter, much like Falcon. While it was recorded to be the fastest machine out of the four original pilots, aside from the Comet, it is rumored that the Fire Stingray was actually stolen property considering he is a thief.

In the Death Race in X, he and Falcon were paired together. Aside from Falcon, his other rival was Antonio Guster, Lisa's elder brother. Brilliant was known to be some kind of seductress and criminal whom she happens to be Goroh's wife. She even tried to take away Jack's Astro Robin, at least that's what Tinsel heard. Guster was also Goroh's former friend in the Police Force, but something went awry and the samurai was blamed for the incident. They had a bitter relationship ever since, and Lisa and their son, Dai Goroh, constantly get caught in the middle of their wicked web of corruption.

Lisa owns the Panzer Emerald, which has a strong body, weak acceleration, but decent handling; the Fire Stingray consists the same stats as the former; and the Silver Rat is weak both in steering and endurance, but has incredibly high speed. Coincidentally, its stats spell out DAD, perhaps a tribute to his old man. Rumor has it that it was based off his uncle's Green Panther.

As they finally went through, they felt dry, intense heat surrounding them. At first, she thought she was heading in the wrong direction, toward Fire Field instead. Fortunately, they kept following the beacons to a desolate, open badland. It was almost endless and someone could easily get lost there, get buried alive in quicksand, or worse, get killed if they happen to end up in an ambush. Yep, they were certainly in Red Canyon alright. And they were in loads of crap as they saw the gang protecting their hideout. Near the mountainside, there were some flags having a Japanese symbol that represented their clan.

Through his binoculars, he murmured as he saw the machines. "Hmm. Looks like we got ourselves some fresh meat." He licked his lips. Either he was going to kill them, or just steal away their crafts. He was in the center of the stone fortress by the time they parked. Lisa and Dai were beside him. "So you guys are here to retrieve your precious machines, huh?"

"That's right!" Tinsel answered. Her Silver Comet taking the middle, followed by the Angler and the others.

"Yeah, well you're out of luck since it's considered to be our property." Lisa said.

"YOUR property?!" Roger pointed as he stepped closer to the gang. "Who the bloody hell says this is legitimately YOUR property?! You guys are nothing but a bunch of vile floating around the galaxy!" His temper was just as horrid as the air itself.

"Watch out, Roger." Draq warned.

"You two are deliverymen; you should know how the ways of Red Canyon works." Goroh boasted. Tinsel had the right idea, as did everyone else.

"You know the law in Red Canyon? If you lose the race, you forfeit your machine." Goroh said in her flashback.

This was not turning in Roger's favor. "We're here to get our machines back!" he declared, showing his muscles. "You'd better give us the Mighty machines or we will pummel you mercilessly!"

"I'm afraid you cannot do that." Goroh said.

The group was surrounded by crooks drawing out their swords toward them.

"Nobody messes with MY dad!" Dai Goroh pouted as he put his arms on his hips.

"What should we do with them? Toss them away?" Lisa suggested.

"Nah. Just take them away...for the moment." Goroh snapped his fingers and the pirates immediately bounded their arms behind them. Roger and Draq were incapacitated by their spiked boots as they tried to fight back. Clearly, they were desperate to re-obtain their machines.

They forced them down in front of their stronghold. Tinsel's plan certainly backfired and the pressure was put on her and her friends. How would they expect to save the Task Force now, if they can't save themselves?

Goroh unsheathed his sword and pointed toward the group. "Now, you have two choices, dick weeds. You can either leave peacefully, and we will take your machines without any bloodshed. Or, if you dare to resist, we challenge you to a race to the checkpoint and back under our discretion. And if you lose, your pathetic lives along with your cargo shall be ours. Take your pick!"

Most of the guys were quivering with fear. They knew they were going to die either way.

"I will challenge you, Goroh!" In the distance, a familiar, baritone was heard. Everyone looked incredibly shocked at the masked figure in blue. He donned on a helmet with the metallic, golden etching of a bird. He also had on thick, yellow gloves, a laser gun attached to his torso, and long boots of the same color. There was a shoulder plate on the right, symbolizing it to be a wing of sorts. They all realized he was none other than...

"Captain Falcon!?" Both the bandits and the victims chorused his name.

"YOU! What're you doing here, you pesky fowl?! Can't you see I'm trying to cut these crooks a few breaks?"

"They do not deserve this. Let them go, that is if someone is willing to challenge you in your death race."

"Heh. I'm afraid it's invalid. For you see, my crew claimed the machines are rightfully ours." They'd shown two receipts as proof, putting the hapless Roger and Draq into despair.

However, Falcon wasn't convinced. He responded coolly, "Is that it? You really think they could be accepted? Those signatures are nothing but forgeries! Those receipts have been typed haphazardly. They don't even match their license numbers. Even the Internova Police Force would laugh at it!"

Goroh clenched his hands in rage. "Errrggh! How DARE you!" He was miffed about it since Falcon was using his primal instincts from another squad patrol. Ironically, Goroh and Falcon were once cops in the Internova Police Force back in the day.

"I will take the offer, anyone who wishes to join me is welcome. I'll help to retrieve these two captive machines."

"Fine. Have it your way, Falcon." Goroh snorted. Facing the quintet, he asked, "Who will be brave enough to go up against me and my family?!"

Swallowing a knot in her throat, Tinsel spoke. "I will."

"And me." Leon snarled.

With incredible accuracy, Goroh cut the binds as quick as the wind. Tinsel's and Leon's arms were free. "Head over to your machines! We got some bounty hunting business to settle. Heheheh." He climbed into the Stingray, Falcon went into his craft, and the Angler and Comet started up. Lisa and Dai followed suit. Everyone lined up into threes: one side was the Blue Falcon, the Silver Comet, and the Space Angler; while the other consisted of the Fire Stingray, the Panzer Emerald, and the Silver Rat.

Dai Goroh actually stole Gomar and Shioh's scarves as they're being held hostage.

"Hey, give those back!" Shioh begged.

"Those symbolize our friendship!" Gomar ended.

"Nah nah. They're mine now!" the brat blew a raspberry at them.

"If you win, you get those old, broken machines back. But if any of you should lose this race, they will be forfeited, and your vehicles will also be ours for the taking!" Goroh declared, riling up his gang.

"Understood. I'll take you on." Falcon said.

"I won't let Lisa intimidate any of you guys." Tinsel added.

"Kids are my specialty. But I'm definitely gonna spank this one." Leon declared to the troubled tyke.

Tinsel raced against Brilliant, Falcon rivaled Goroh, while Leon took on Dai Goroh. Beastman and the others were held back by the thieves.

It was a three on three tag team instead of one on one, unlike Falcon and Goroh's showdown. The course was the same one, with the boulders falling by Goroh's henchmen, and the family boosting passed the other racers; however, it's the same process back while avoiding the fallen boulders and beating them to the finish. There wasn't even a pit area or speed plates, so each pilot had to take it very cautiously.

Dai Goroh was the first to be decommissioned by Leon and due to bad agility from the boulders, then came the coyote, by Goroh's side attacks as well as the damage from the landslide. And Lisa eventually got trashed by Tinsel with her Comet hanging by a thread. Falcon and Goroh were the strongest pilots, just as they were back then, so they were neck-to-neck; however, the Blue Falcon conserved its energy, gave a few boosts and whizzed passed the finish line!

Every one of the victims cheered for his stunning victory, knowing that their lives and belongings will be safe. All three machines exploded and Goroh, Dai, and Lisa scattered across the ground. The thieves rushed in to help put the fires out. That was when Tinsel, Falcon, and Leon had their cue and rescued their comrades. Gomar stood on Shioh's shoulders and retrieved the stolen scarves unscathed as they descended from the air, fluttering like kites.

"Thanks for helping me save my friends, Captain Falcon. I owe you one!"

"No, let's just call it even." He looked over at the disarray. "Come on. We have to go. They won't be vulnerable for long." The pilots hopped into their corresponding machines, while the malfunctioned ones laid on the trailer bed. Leon took the wheel and everyone followed the mysterious bounty hunter to safety.

The smoke was clear enough for Goroh to see the escape. He realized his possessions, and the long truck, were gone. "Falcon. One of these days, you'll answer for this."

They managed to head back to Mute City, and it was almost twilight. Falcon and Tinsel caught up and they recognized each other from the bounty hunting they did last year. He heard of the Task Force's plight, and he insisted to help.

"That's why I brought some friends with me. Even they want the team reunited as much as I do."

"You must bring back the Task Force, alive. Dark Million will stop at nothing to exterminate them. If Black Shadow should ever use them, though..." he lost his train of thought as he looked back and saw Roger and Draq.

He then let her on a little secret: The Mighty Typhoon and Hurricane originally belonged to one of the racing teams that dissolved after the big accident several years ago when the original Grand Prix was discontinued for a time. Oddly enough, every member of that team has since been reported as missing. Much like the Task Force itself.

"Does that mean...they'll never find their true owners?"

"I'm afraid not, Tinsel. I'm certain they'll find out for themselves eventually. But you must find every member of the elite, and bring them home. Especially Rick."

Wow. Even Falcon knows how important he is, she thought in awe.

"I must go now, Tinsel. There's still so much at stake. Their lives depend on you."

"Wait." She ran up to him. "I want you to stay with us, and help us look for them together."

"Perhaps some other time. I have more bounties to collect and bring to justice."

Reluctant, she nodded. "Alright. Good luck, just don't forget about us."

The Blue Falcon sped away and Leon hesitated as he made some deep sniffs. Tinsel asked, "What is it?"

"Hmm, I don't know. But there's something very atypical about Falcon. Something seems...familiar... I can't be sure, though."

"Well, we should get going. I'm sure Burt and Clank are waiting."
 

After that, they united at the Falcon House. Roger and Draq couldn't thank her enough for recovering their machines. They didn't mind if they wouldn't find their true owners; at least they know they'll forever possess them legitimately. Tinsel wondered how her friends found her so fast. Both Beastman and Gomar and Shioh were just renting some hotels in the city and usually hang out in the old F-Zero track. Much like her, they train there on occasion. She wished Octoman would join on all the action, wondering where he is now.

Speaking of courses, she challenged each of her friends in a practice race at the Mute City Serial Gaps; it didn't matter who won. Draq was impressed since the Silver Comet was similar to the Mighty Typhoon, albeit has better Grip. But during the final lap, a sensor was thrown onto the track just before the finish line. The Silver Comet was playfully nudged by the Twin Noritta which hit the Space Angler.

"I'm gonna win this one!" Tinsel cried happily.

Unaware of the sensor, it exploded as she reached the goal, causing everyone's machines to spin out and crash into each other! The pilots, including her, were injured. She was holding the side of her stomach as she was exiting the cockpit, looking around the sudden wreckage, and moving like a Draugr, "Ergh, is everyone alright?" she asked.

"Ah, all those attacks as of late..." Leon grunted, holding his head.

"Disturbing isn't it?" Beastman murmured.

"Who would do such a thing..?" Roger questioned, all shook up.

The anthropomorphic picked up a foul smell, and he growled. "What is it, Leon?" Tinsel wondered.

He was heading to the side of the track following the scent, and looking through the pink guardrails. He saw a machine with a darker shade. The pilots ran to him, and Draq just wobbled while taking huge strides. Tinsel identified the vehicle as the Moon Shadow, Luna Ryder was on top of it, sneering. And Zoda was with her! "Didn't you all have a blast? Heheheh!"

"Hey! It's no fair when you disrupt a practice race like that!" Roger shouted.

Tinsel never backed down, and she was as red as a beet. "Where do you have Rick and the Task Force?! Tell me now!"

"As if I'm gonna tell you where Wheeler is." Zoda said casually.

"All you should know is that you are too late." Luna added with a smirk.

Her heart skipped a beat. "What..? You mean they're-"

"No!" Everyone looked at Leon, baring his fangs. "I won't believe that! They can't be gone! They're obviously hiding something, I just know it!"

"So, you're really that desperate to find your friends? Even over your own pathetic lives? Even over your own shipping business?" Luna countered. The last statement was for Draq and Roger.

"We know friendship is of the utmost importance. That's how we prosper." Gomar and Shioh said in unison. They've seen that when Tinsel, Leon, and Falcon saved them, Beastman, and Draq and Roger from Goroh and his band of thieves.

"You fool-hearted ones always bore me." the crazed criminal said.

"So, you're all willing to sacrifice yourselves to save people who have already been doomed? Hmph, how pitiful your minds are."

"Go look for them if you want, but you would just be wasting your time!" They stormed away as the Moon Shadow took off at blinding speed.

Hurt and aggravated, Tinsel yelled, "You won't get away with this! Ergh!" That outburst caused her body to throb. Leon caught her as she sunk to the ground.

Just then, there was a jingle coming from the Comet's cockpit. Leon was the most agile and the least stunned; his reflexes and resilience could rival that of any mammal. It was Clank who sent out the message.

He had some more bad news: Luna would be one of the contenders for the next race, and Tinsel may be alone in this.
"What? Where is it?"

"In Fire Field."

Everyone listened in on the conversation. Tinsel was undoubtedly the most worried. "I might not be able to stop Miss Killer. She may be a rookie, but she's very lethal. What if I don't win this? No one can't possibly win them all."

"Don't worry." Beastman said as he walked closer to her.

"We have your back." Leon put a paw on her shoulder.

"Yeah. I'll make sure that Draq will be of some assistance to you. Kind of like a bodyguard. It's the least we could do." Roger offered.

"What about you?" Draq asked.

"I'll just keep an eye on our shipping business for awhile. I can't let those thieves try anything ever again. Those machines are the most important to us." Roger faced Tinsel. "Oh, and if anyone messes with you or Draq, I'm coming after them!"

"Thanks, Roger. Is that why you all want to help?" Everyone nodded.

"We wanted you to know..." Shioh started.

"That if we work together, you can achieve anything." Gomar finished.

With her friends' support, she felt a little better. Yet, something else was toggling her mind. Rick... If only you were here. I hope you could hear me, and I know you are out there somewhere in the vast reaches of space. But where? Where?!

Unfortunately, there were no answers, just the twinkling stars above.

A/N: Draq kind of reminds me of The Thing from Fantastic 4, he'll probably be Tinsel's bodyguard as Roger works. There was an episode called "Roger and Draq", and I remember seeing it when the anime was on the FoxBox, but unfortunately, I couldn't find it anywhere else except for some Japanese dubs. Dai Goroh might sound like Zidane from Dissidia.

The cover tunes of Mute City and Red Canyon are some of my all-time favorite songs from F-Zero and they play in this Lap. The first course was an homage to the second chapter in GX, but it goes to the goal, and back! And it's a three-on-three tag team. The last course is I'm sure a fan favorite to everyone, the Mute City Serial Gaps was a challenging finale in the Sapphire Cup, and it's easy to see why it made it as a stage for Smash 4. Also, I really liked the idea during a LP from Ephraim225 where he includes the alternate song on the last course. It was a very epic experience, and it does fit extremely well!

I always had an inclination that Black Shadow was the main culprit for the F-Zero accident. Otherwise, how would he take his chance and use some of Falcon's blood in order to make a clone of him? His Black Bull is very destructive, and he's always called the "Emperor of Brutality." Obvious puns aside.

So Luna has made her move on Tinsel, and Clank informed her she'll be a contender in the next race. With those two paired together, and with no support from the Task Force, things would really start to heat up! So stay tuned as I try to get Lap 6 done as soon as I can.

Here's Part 2 since OBS crashed on me..!


 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: Originally, the next course was supposed to be in Mute City, but I had a change of heart. I've mentioned on my last author note that things are starting to "heat up" so... *hint hint*. Ephraim225 is gonna h8 me for this. I completely understand his pain and suffering when he did this particular course in the original; I'm right there with you, buddy. Which is why it is featured here! On top of that, Tinsel is all alone, not counting the other miscellaneous racers, and she's up against one of the most deadly co-workers of Dark Million. She races against Luna on another elite circuit; will she be successful like she was in Big Blue?

Lap 6

Tinsel arrived at Fire Field through a warp gate, and the track was very similar to that of the King League from the original Grand Prix. She wasn't able to participate last time, though, since she had that accident in White Land during the prior round. Clank recently informed her that Luna Ryder, one of Dark Million's lethal enemies, have enrolled there. Because all the places were taken, she was alone now in that treacherous course. The intense heat welcomed her, but the Silver Comet was a lot more tolerable on resisting it since it had some frigid features that kept it from overheating. After all, it was just a prototype made by Dr. Clash. This actually reminded her of the sun course several months back when Lucy was considered to be an official member of the Task Force.

If only she was here now, she reminisced.

It was just as she heard: it's very long, there were endless minefields waiting to explode and hinder her machine, there were some magnets in a certain location attached to the guardrails, and there was a fork before the finish line. If the pilot chooses the left path, they will end up in a narrow pit area restoring a small portion of their energy which ends with a dash plate. If the racers should go right, they'll take the shorter route, though they must be aware of the sharp curves ahead.

According to Clank's schematics, the Moon Shadow has similar stats to the Blue Falcon, which was not good. Both vehicles have the same level of grip; however, the Moon Shadow is two levels lower than the Comet in acceleration, whereas Tinsel's machine is much weaker than her nemesis'.

Tinsel went over the intel before the finish line, and she barely even noticed Miss Killer's presence. And wouldn't the spectators know it, they've been paired together. "Still unconfident as ever, I see."

She immediately stood up as she heard that sinister, vehement voice. "Miss Killer!" Finally, she was staring at her greatest adversary in the face as her body tensed. She was hardly able to see her the first time as Rick was losing his life, nor the second time when she hardly noticed her during the catastrophe when the meteors started falling onto a space circuit. The third time after the accident in Mute City was far away but more noticeable. Now, her blood started to boil, she was as tepid as Hell's Highway itself. All this time on causing Rick his pain and suffering, she was about to pay her back in full!

"At long last, we finally race against each other. And on this fine elite course. Welcome to Hell, Tinsel. I can't wait to end your own life like I should've done with Wheeler! Hah hah hah!"

"Miss Killer! I'll show you a thing or two! You'll never beat me! And I swear I'll save him and my friends from Dark Million, you'll see!" Tinsel countered.

"I wouldn't be so steamed if I were you. It'll be easier for you to die, then."

Tinsel's fist clenched very tightly in response. Before they had another exchange of words, the lethal race was about to start.

"Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!"

All the other pilots' vehicles hovered as the gates lowered.

"See you at Death's door." Luna threatened, then left for her craft.

"We'll see about THAT! You may be called Miss Killer, but you will never be able to slay me!" she shouted over the ruckus.

"The bitter rivalry between the two female pilots is rising! Much like the competition. This course was used during the first Grand Prix, as it is very treacherous and lays over deadly pits of lava." The fire sea never stopped boiling and everyone could see arches rising and falling from it. "Pilots must keep a close eye on the track as well as their fuel gauges at all times. Use extreme caution. Now, let the soul-scorching race begin!"

The audience was cheering wildly for their favorite brave brawlers. So were Leon, Burt, Clank, Beastman, Gomar and Shioh, and Draq at the Falcon House for Tinsel.

"Go get her!" the anthropomorphic growled, and raised a glass.

"Show what the Silver Comet can do!" the boy prodigy cried, following Leon's lead.

"Give Miss Killer and that course everything you got!" Draq replied.

"Don't back down!" Beastman added.

"Try your best on surviving the course!" the Furikake people chimed.

Rick and my friends' lives depend on this. I cannot lose against her, Tinsel thought aloud.

The machines shot out of the starting line, and their first deathly obstacle were the minefields. Each one was placed randomly on the first stretch. Every machine took quite a beating as they ventured through it. Though the Comet and the Shadow were still kicking.

By the time they passed that, Tinsel had an idea: The trick was to push the enemy into the mines, causing more damage. She saw Miss Killer just ahead and rammed into her. She retaliated and it became a pushing war until they saw an island at the center. They split up, took a few chunks of damage as they shredded on the guardrails, and were then dragged into the walls of the isle. "Damn magnets..." she muttered.

The turns were tough without hitting the edges, which caused even more damage to their machines despite their decent handling. Nevertheless, they were the ones that stood out the most amongst the other competitors. As the anonymous pilots kept catching up, they each didn't hesitate to wipe them out with some side and spin attacks. Their victory was all that mattered.

Finally, there was the fork in the road. Seeing that the right path was the shortest, Tinsel took it. Luna followed and again they clashed. The Moon Shadow's body was stronger than Tinsel's and she hit her dead on. She collided with the course, but she never gave up. "You're not getting away!" Luckily, her booster was activated on the second lap.

Tinsel was able to catch onto Luna and she performed the stunt, unfortunately the Moon Shadow had more endurance, plus her ability to handle turns well made her very formidable. It was little to no effort. I don't get it. Not even a blemish. she thought agog.

Luna unexpectedly caught Tinsel by surprise as she hit her. Her strength was better causing the Comet to be forced to the wall. It grinded along and sparks were made.

"Burn to a cinder, Tinsel. Like how a comet should."

"Never!" She accelerated and she was temporarily saved by the magnets as the Shadow was caught. Seeing the Comet took quite a beating, she headed to the left where she saw a pit area. Her relief was short-lived as she saw how narrow and brief it was. The path was too long and detrimental, as the Moon Shadow passed her with minimal effort, despite the dash plate at the end.

Then, during the final lap, Luna used the same tactic. Since she was slightly stronger than the Comet, it caused it to lose top speed and her power was down. "Ergh!"

"It hung on by the skin of its teeth!" The announcer stated after seeing the near-death stunt!

Desperate, she used a boost which resulted the Comet to sacrifice most of its energy. It hardly had any left! An alarm was on as it was burning up and struggling to hold together. Black clouds of smoke were emitting from the tailpipes, and the draft became a little more strict. "C'mon, Comet! I need you to do this!" Tinsel took the course with upmost precaution, avoiding any more hazards and sticking as close to Miss Killer as humanly and mechanically possible. "I must not lose this race! Everyone is counting on me. I can't give up my life now..!" But Luna kept closing in on Tinsel, yet she kept using a spin attack to keep her at bay. Soon, she stopped trying and boosted ahead as they neared the last obstacle.

In the end, Tinsel had to make a choice: the left or the right path. Eventually, she made a last-second decision as she sharply turned to the left side where the small pit area awaited her. The catch was, it'll restore a little chunk of stamina and may cost her the race. Surely, it did as the Moon Shadow took the right and finished before she was able to pass her with a couple boosts. It was definitely a crushing defeat...

"NO!" She slammed her fist on the heated dashboard. "I-I lost..!" She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to hold back her discontent and upset.

Her friends supported her through the comm. They were watching that lethal race back at the Falcon House. "I lost...Miss Killer was able to beat me. If I'd just taken the right path instead of the pit area..! I-I didn't have a choice, I had to choose my own life over that race."

"I would've done the same." Leon assured her. "It's wiser to lose a race, rather than your own life."

"So would we." Gomar and Shioh added. "We would've chosen our partners' welfare over anything else."

"Hey, like they say, safety first." Beastman said.

"You said so yourself: You can't win them all. Take it with a grain of salt." Draq mentioned.

If only it were that easy...

After her victory lap, Luna Ryder marched up to the Comet, giving Tinsel another sneer. "Looks like the Comet has not burnt out, after all. Yet, it's still very weak compared to me. How do you expect to rescue your friends now? With the prize money I won, nothing is holding us back now."

"I may have lost that race, but I hadn't lost hope. I will never give up on looking for the Task Force!" Tinsel declared to her assailant.

"Hmph. Good luck trying to do so. Cause rest assured, they will find you." With a soft laugh, she walked away proudly with the trophy and cash in hand.

Tinsel never bothered to present her second place victory, even though she still technically qualified for the next race. She just drove her battered machine away as she sulked.

Clank worked on the repairs with Gomar and Shioh at the parking lot. The rest of the team kept encouraging Tinsel despite her devastating defeat. Beastman helped Draq exit the narrow door as they left.

"You should never give up hope," Burt said near the counter. "You still came in second, that alone means you're still able to compete against Dark Million. After all, you've made the wise decision not sacrificing your own life. The Comet should be done within the next day."

He handed her a soft drink. "Thanks, Burt. But I'm still nervous on Rick and the others. Luna said that the Task Force will find us, theoretically."

Leon laid a paw on her shoulder and gave it a shake. "Like we said, Tinsel, we got your back. You're not really endangering us, 'cause we're all involved in this. We each have a promise to keep." She still wondered what Octoman might be up to, though.

"I wonder how Dark Million is gonna use the prize money Luna won."

"Who knows, Tinsel. Who knows..." Leon thought.

Of course, Black Shadow would use it to speed up the process on what he's going to do with the Task Force. Whatever it is, something very diabolical was involving them.
 

With the prize money Black Shadow's experiment was near completion. A black solution was inserted into the tanks. Momentarily Rick was the first to react to it as his eyes were rapidly moving. The water started to bubble up and a fist clenched and trembled as he absorbed it.

"It's working..." Black Shadow gazed at his greatest creation. "Excellent work, Miss Killer. You'll be reunited with him yet!" His fangs shined as he smiled.

The lab rat eventually stopped shaking and he hanged limply. The demon gave a signal for his subordinate to drain it. A button on a motherboard was pushed, and the liquid was ejected.

The Death Soldiers surrounded Rick and the hatch was open. They disconnected him from the numerous wires, removed the oxygen mask, and carried him to a perch nearby. Lastly, the drones discarded his soaked Task Force uniform and replaced it with a new wardrobe. He donned on an opaque leather golden suit. Two spiky, dark grey shoulder plates were shown, along with a collar consisting red jewels. His pants was still the same, but his shoes were replaced by black suede ones with two horns protruding from them. And he had eyeliner with ink as black as night. He was just starting to come to as the Emperor of Brutality and his servant walked up to him.

Rick Wheeler shot open his eyes, wearing a ravenous expression. They were shrouded in darkness as the pupils were enlarged to full capacity. His breathing and his heart rate went rampant as he looked up toward his colleagues.

A/N: In terms of music, I would use the GP Legend version of that course. It's always very suiting. I like GX's version, but I always see it as having that course on a cylinder. So, I find the former to be more appropriate.

Thanks to a book named How in the World? I found a little tidbit: A comet can be a spectacular sight if the sun heats it up, and the icy core is surrounded by a big cloud of dust and gas. It's bright for a few months within Earth's orbit. Hence the sighting of Hailey's Comet. The Silver Comet was indeed glowing on the track as it was intended to do, but luckily, the pilot survived the ordeal.

As for Rick and the Task Force..? Find out next time. 

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: I've been waiting for weeks to do this lap. Rick is finally the first of Black Shadow's newest recruits! What would he do? How would Tinsel deal with this menace? Where would the confrontation be? How would Dark Million get involved? All of the answers are about to be unveiled!

Lap 7

Just a few moments ago, Luna Ryder won the Grand Prix in Fire Field. Thanks to the prize money, the process was sped up as Black Shadow was working on a dark solution which was originally created by him and Zoda. It was the same type of mind-controlling agent that affected Tinsel as she won the Hovercraft Hub competition. It was experimental, but being very persistent and determined, the demon decided to test it out on the Mobile Task Force. It was proven to be successful as he and Miss Killer watched Rick in a tank react to it. The fluid was inserted and his body began to convulse for a few minutes. Eventually, he became limp, then the container was drained, and the Death Soldiers gave him a quick makeover after carrying him out.

Rick began to come to and his body tightened while his hands clenched into fists. The first person he saw was Luna. "My dearest Rick. At long last we finally meet again." she said with a grin.

His pupils were enlarged as he gazed up at her. Even he was unusually fond on seeing her, in this...disturbing, yet assuring, place. He hadn't actually been here before, though the environment was somehow welcoming in a sense. And then there was Haruka, or rather Miss Killer, standing over him. Rick was reluctant as she gave him a hand. That feeling when he touched her was so...comforting, as if he belonged here all this time. He felt he was at home, reunited with his long, lost love.

"How I've waited for this day after 150 years." she whispered as she touched his cheek. Interestingly enough, he never flinched nor did he retaliate.

"So have I..." he was just as stunned as she was.

"Well, well." Zoda barged in, spoiling the mood. "Look what the black cat dragged in. Wheeler and Miss Killer, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-"

"Zoda!" Rick lunged toward his nemesis. At least his grudge for him hasn't changed. He was still his trigger, pure and simple.

"That's enough blabbering, Zoda! We have just been acquainted to our new recruit. Show him some of our gratitude!" Thankfully, a vehement voice boomed as it interrupted the impending brawl.

Black Shadow scolded, "Stay away from him, for the moment. We have a deadly mission to accomplish here and we don't need your meddling."

"Eh, of course, Black Shadow." The crazed criminal chickened out as he scampered away from them. "I'll deal with you later, Wheeler." he said before he emerged into the shadows.

Rick didn't listen nor acknowledged as he saw the proud, diabolical being face to face. Without hesitation, he walked up to him, and the solution affected more of his body and mind. He had proven his loyalty when he bowed down to him. "Lord Shadow..."

"Indeed. Welcome to our headquarters in Dark Star. I'm delighted to make your acquaintance, Wheeler, as I've heard you are a dedicated F-Zero pilot. I actually had this brilliant idea from Zoda after altering Tinsel's mind. It seemed to have worked for a time, so I was lucky we have found you instead. As well as some of your friends..." he pointed to the other tanks, and the servant saw Jack and the others in their own corresponding containers. "You'll be seeing them very soon, Wheeler. And with your talent, Dark Million shall be so impassable, not even the dreaded bounty hunter, Falcon, can beat us." He stuck up a finger as Rick rose, "Oh. Have you noticed we've made some...rearrangements?"

A dim ray of light was shone a few feet away. On a ledge, the Dragon Bird stood; although, it was not the same. Instead of having its white exterior, it was all black combined with the red from the exhaust pipes and the roof. On that, there was an etching of a face of a snarling dragon, wearing Black Shadow's eyes. Plus the rear had a spike on each side, making it deadly on the tracks. "It is the Dragon Bird no more, Wheeler. Since it's your machine, what would you like to call it?" Luna faced him in anticipation, but he was astonished of his new outfit. This filled him with a deep sense of pride and identity. Looking at himself and then the more sinister machine, Rick declared it as "the Dark Star Dragon."

"An admirable choice, Rick." Luna commented. Black Shadow considered the same.

"There is an assignment that you must accept. You realize there's only one of the Task Force members that we hadn't inducted yet."

"...Tinsel."

"She's our greatest adversary yet next to Falcon. You know her well, Wheeler."

"Yes, Lord Shadow. She's quite a formidable opponent even when she races."

"We must cut her strings and her alliance with those other pilots. You know what you must do."

His voice deepened as his hand curled and his eyes narrowed, "I must...kill her. She will never stand a chance against me."

"I have also hired Miss Killer to do the job. She won't be an easy feat to take down alone."

She laid a hand on his shoulder. "A mission together, at last. We'll make sure that Tinsel will be vanquished for good." she declared. "It'll be our first time carrying out Dark Million's bidding as one." His grip tightened around her hand. And then a Death Soldier offered him some gloves he'd never seen. He put them on, they were also red and black much like the Dark Star Dragon. They, too, had an emblem of his master's face.

This looks and feels...amazing! Rick thought after he adjusted them. He was so fascinated with all the changes he'd experienced. And better yet, he was reunited with Haruka within the darkness. No pain, agony, nor pressure got in his way. He was almost invincible!

"Carry out the mission as Miss Killer instructs you, Wheeler. Tinsel must be exterminated at all costs. Do NOT hold back as she was a former friend of yours. And handle the Dark Star Dragon well. You must succeed, and only you can..."

"I will not fail you, Black Shadow. You can count on it." He gave a low bow. The demon disappeared, and the corrupt couple got to work.
 

Meanwhile, Tinsel was racing with her colleagues on the old Mute City course. This was actually different from the same one she used earlier before her race in Green Plant. It was modified from the first course in the Knight League 13 years ago with landmines and no jump plates. The turns were a lot sharper this time around. In order to stand a better chance against Black Shadow and his thugs, she figured the best place would be the track used as the first round during the King League. They all accepted the challenge; they unanimously thought it was a good way to toughen them up.

The Silver Comet crossed the finish line first, then the Mighty Typhoon, followed by the Space Angler, Hyper Speeder, and finally the Twin Noritta. Needless to say, it was last since it received the most damage. They each had a sigh of relief now that the race was done.

"Man, that was a tough one." Beastman remarked.

"It sure was..." Gomar and Shioh rubbed their heads.

"That was quite a decent practice run, Tinsel." Draq added.

"Yeah." Leon replied.

"I thought so, guys. I hope this would help us improve our skills for the next competition." Tinsel stated, still remembering the sore defeat in Fire Field. "We still need to book well in advance for it. I can't possibly win on my own, not after last time."

There was a chirp coming from her communicator. It was Clank, and he was so ecstatic. "Tinsel, I hate to interrupt, but you gotta see this!"

"Nah, it's ok, you didn't interrupt anything. What is it, Clank? Did you find something?" She barely hid her own enthusiasm.

"Yes I did. You gotta go to the Falcon House immediately! Hurry! It's urgent!" The signal ended just before she responded.

She took the walkie-talkie and said to the other racers they must head there asap. Leon asked, "What did he find? Is it from the Task Force? From Lucy?"

"I don't know, he didn't say. But, we must head to the Falcon House at once; he said it was urgent."

They soon arrived at the diner. And the tech geek nearly knocked her down as soon as she stepped in. "Tinsel, thank goodness. You have to come quick." He showed her a beacon that was emanating from some location on his tablet. It was trapped somewhere in Planet Alcatran, in some kind of desolate ice mountain. "The signal is emitting from a certain location in Alcatran...it's close to White Land."

The sound of that made her gasp. She would NEVER forget that horrid place. "Oh my gosh... This must be some kind of SOS signal. C-can you make out the machne?!"

"I can try." Clank scanned the beacon, and eventually there was a match as it outlined the vehicle it belonged to.

Her heart raced as she saw it. "Ah, it's Rick! I hope he's all right."

"Rick? You must hurry along, Tinsel." Burt said anxiously.

"I will. But, I'm bringing Leon with me. If you don't mind."

"No problem. Besides I can help you track him with my nose; it won't be easy trying to find someone trapped under all that ice and snow. I can handle it just fine."

"Thanks." She gave him a pet of appreciation. "I owe you one."

"Nah, we're even."

"Please save Rick, Tinsel and Leon. I'm not sure how long he'll stand out." Clank begged.

"Don't worry, he's tough. I should thank you greatly for finally receiving a signal from him."

"C'mon, let's boogie." the bipedal canine barked.

"Right. Let's go."

The others stayed put since their machines needed some fine tuning. So the Comet and the Angler were the ones to set foot into the most treacherous area of her troubled past. Since it was for her best friend, she couldn't let her fears interfere.
 

Through the warp gate, they felt a slight chill. The Comet was accustomed to extreme environments, and Leon's fur kept him warm. Still, Tinsel was shivering both from the freezing air and her nervousness. They continued to follow the signal Clank gave them on their locators. They've kept nearing the mountain within every second. Thankfully, there wasn't a blizzard greeting them. Although, they had to watch for any patches of black ice.

"Almost there, Leon. Hang in there, Rick."

"Keep your fingers crossed. I hear that humans can't be exposed for too long; it's pretty deadly. His best chance is to stay in his machine."

They were so focused on the signal and the slippery ground that they didn't notice an oncoming machine slam into Tinsel from behind. "Whoa! What the hell was that?!" Upon close examination from the rear view on the dashboard, which was giving a warning, it was...

"That's...the Dragon Bird?!" She was completely astonished as she saw it's new, more sinister look. Suddenly, it was upon her. "Leon! It's Rick! He's been brainwashed by Black Shadow!"

"What?! So the rumors were true, after all! Argh!" His craft was also crashed into by someone else. Leon had his hands full with another vehicle hitting him. It was the Moon Shadow. And Miss Killer just sneered at her unfortunate targets.

The Dark Star Dragon rammed Tinsel again. She couldn't take anymore punishment. "You go and distract Miss Killer, I'll take on Rick! She's dangerous, be careful!"

"I will! Brace yourself, Tinsel!" He bared his fangs and faced his enemy. There were no pit areas or speed plates along the two paths, so they had to rely on their wits and luck. Considering he had better handling on the black ice, he had the advantage, along with his sharp reflexes. Even though they had the same speed, and his body was weaker than hers. As she kept sliding, it was his golden opportunity to side attack her. Then, as she was closing on his tail, he performed a spin attack which was more constant, causing the Moon Shadow to collide and go out of control. Thanks to the black ice, it was temporarily out of commission, allowing Leon to catch up to Tinsel and Rick. He headed back as he skidded and sped away.

Tinsel was lucky she was able to use her booster, but Rick was always nipping her tail. She wanted to get ahead and stay away from him until she got to the mountain. The boost sacrificed some of her energy, but it was very little compared to the abuse the Comet endured. He constantly used the Dark Star's strength and kept on bashing her. As she headed straight to the mountain she finally hit an ice wall as she spun out from another merciless direct hit.

Both her car's body, and her own, were battered. She was blinded by the headlights as they refracted from the walls. She was like a deer, stunned by them. Closing in for the kill Rick made a sneer as he tightened his grip on the wheel. The sound of his death-bringing declaration echoed throughout the mountain's interior, "Time for you and your Comet to make an icy tomb, Tinsel! Yaaaahh!"

"Rick..? You cannot-no! No!" Desperate to bring him back and to save her skin, she slammed her fists on the thrusters and unleashed the ice jets, nearly freezing the Dragon on contact! It only made a blockade covering the nose of the machine.

Still having an appetite for destruction he opened the hatch and jumped out, just as Tinsel left hers. She couldn't believe what she was seeing as she looked at his malevolent appearance. Using his new shoes, he didn't mind the ice as they had better friction than normal ones. The cold air was nothing to him as he breathed heavily like a dragon, and smoke left his mouth.

Tinsel wasn't as fortunate, she was freezing from the frigid temperature and fear. "Rick..? Rick?!"

With all his might, he charged straight toward the terrified pilot. She covered her eyes and she hardly noticed Leon being involved in the scrimmage as he wrestled with him.

"Leon!" she cried after uncovering her vision. She could do nothing except watch her two best friends shed their blood.

The anthropomorphic leaped and tackled him to the ground. They've rolled for a few seconds then he fought him off with his fangs and claws. Rick kept him at bay and kicked him off, then Leon rolled and bit hard on his arm. Rick managed to swipe him with his free arm, and Leon let out a low howl. He tried again, but he missed as Rick moved. He retaliated and threw him aside, toward the spiky structure. He went down on all fours, and a gash was in his lower back.

"Leon!" Tinsel screamed in as much agony as him.

Seeing the damage he caused, Rick just stood over him, took out his gun, and said, "I will put you down and ease your suffering. Meet your death...for Black Shadow!"

"Leon! Noo!" Tinsel got involved as she ran toward the manic detective making a stranglehold. Rick dropped the gun from his fishy grip then he grabbed onto her hands and threw her down over his shoulder. His strong hands were crushing her windpipe, but she managed to kick him in the groin. "Agggh!"

Vulnerable, she punched him across the face and took him down. She punched him again and Rick actually stopped when his pupils shrunk to their normal size. She was about to land another punch on him, but he held her shaking hand back. Gazing straight into her eyes...

"Tinsel..?" She soon got off of him after she looked at his, and they both stood in shock. "I-is it really you?"

"Rick..?" her voice let out a raspy whisper. He nodded in confirmation, but she backed off. "N-no! I...I know it's you, but... You-you're a part of Dark Million, aren't you?"

"I...I was. But you saved me." he said as he was rubbing his swollen cheek. His arm wasn't any better as it burned from Leon's deep fang marks. He held it for a few brief seconds. She looked at him skeptically and didn't say a word, still thinking he was playing a trick. "Ergh. Please, I can explain everything. But not here, it isn't safe; this place was known to house some of the galaxy's most dangerous criminals, including Zoda. This was his secret hideout after Black Shadow invaded here. We must evacuate now, before Miss Killer will return." There was a pregnant pause. His voice softened despite the pain. "Tinsel, you have to trust me. Just as we did before. Look past the dark uniform, and see me for who I truly am. A friend."

She took a deep exhale, then looked at Leon who got on his feet and held the wound. It was deep, but at least he wasn't bleeding profusely. Eventually, she accepted. "Alright, I'll go with you. But I'm taking Leon with me just in case."

"Fair enough. I'll lead you two out of here. Follow me."
 

The Dark Star Dragon led the Comet and the Angler to a warp gate. They soon materialized in the outskirts of Mute City.

"Are you sure we should listen to Rick? I could still smell some vile from him." His back was healing thanks to a cloth Tinsel had. With the Comet's ice jets, it was always a quick way to recuperate.

"I used to vouch for him, but I can't be certain."

Rick barely heard the conversation, and he became glum. Despite that, he kept his resolve. "This is the spot." After they parked near the apartment complex, she told Leon to wait a few feet away, while Rick recapped the events:

Not much was known about the Task Force's disappearance. Not even the commissioner knew. But before they went missing Rick, out of curiosity, wondered whatever happened to his loved one, Haruka. Was she really gone? If so, what happened to her? Could she be working for Dark Million after all? To find the answers he looked up the archives from 150 years ago. And what he found shocked him to the core...

According to the obituary, it was said that Haurka died from a broken heart; at least it was what it seemed. On that night, when Rick was involved in that tragic accident chasing the escaped convict, Zoda, Haruka was devastated. He remembered breaking his promise not showing up at the Brooklyn Bridge and later make the proposition. She ended up in another accident shortly after Zoda was finally apprehended and banned into Planet Alcatran. Rumors kept circling around Rick's fate, some say he was dead, but not many said he was in cold sleep. Haruka, under her weak breath, actually wanted to join him when he awakens, if he really was in cryo-suspension which she strongly believed. She was also inactive, unfortunately she wasn't able to recover. Her wounds were too great, and the time of death was declared during her loss.


After finding out the truth, Rick's heart was broken, even tears started to fall. "Haruka... She's gone..." He left the Task Force behind discreetly, and he lost his will to race or even cope. He kept asking why would his lover do such a desperate attempt to end her life? Why was he the only one who lived through it, despite Zoda? Later, while he was hiding away within an empty alley, Dark Million ambushed him, though he lost his will to fight. Luna was there, as was Zoda, but they never killed him. Bio Rex and The Skull were holding him back. Luna stabbed him with the same knife she used before, making him weaken more. As Rick looked at Luna, he saw a glimpse of "Haruka..."

"Don't ever call me that!" she retorted. Then, they knocked him out and inserted a dark solution into his neck. It was a coordinate that connected the spine to the brain, making him one of the first servants for them. As it happened, the Task Force disbanded, looking for him. But their fate was still unknown. Until he was able to see Jack and the Task Force at Dark Star, but not for very long.


After Rick left in remorse, Tinsel told the tale to Leon.

"So that's why it happened." he said. "He lost his will to fight after finding out about Haruka? What a waste." He shook his head. "And his friends must be there, too."

"He does keep blaming himself. But, with Rick on our side, we can find a way to get them back and stop Dark Million. He's our only hope."

"And that's why you risked your neck pursuing him. He means a great deal to you, doesn't he? You really believe that."

"I do. Rick is the one who can help us achieve victory, him and Falcon." She wished that he would recover eventually. "I must stay with him for the night. He really needs someone."

Leon put a paw on her hand. "Go to him. I'll be fine, we'll be waiting for you."
 

Meanwhile Rick was discarding his uniform and replaced it with the usual red T; he hoped that Tinsel would freeze it all with the Comet's ice jets and soon break the remains, as they were painful reminders of how he used to be. He had never worked for evil before, and through his painful pangs, he knew firsthand how it felt. The guilt, the weakness and the impulses, the flashbacks on what he'd done; they were as clear as day and very intrusive. To clear his head and rinse the dark, inky residue from his eyes, he dunked his head into a running faucet. As he dried, he headed to his bedroom. It was homelike, yet somehow he felt he wasn't there in a good, long while. He instantly wondered where he put his memos, hoping they weren't stolen by Dark Million. He had such a relief as he saw the portrait of him and Haruka, the golden locket, and the engagement ring safe and intact.

He grabbed the velvet case, opened it, and gazed at its luster. The diamond was shining, just like Haruka's eyes did so long ago... Then, his mind drifted to all the happy times he spent with her: from just hanging out and dating, to her endless support after he won and lost each race he participated in, even the cruise they took. His heart began to soar.

Until the images in his head became distorted and omniscient. He was in complete fright as he saw Miss Killer replacing her innocence, as well as the accident Zoda caused before he was put into cold sleep. Even the fight he had with Tinsel and Leon. His head throbbed and his arm stung, and he held the former tightly with both hands, trying to resist the agony and the hallucinations. He shook his head and opened his eyes, his sight was blurry but he was back in his room again. Then, from the resistance his body and mind started to weaken. His strength dissipated little by little, and he felt so lost as he saddened. Until he literally passed out from the mounting fatigue.

Tinsel was lucky they both shared the same complex, but different apartments. It wasn't too hard to find his, even in the dark halls. She opened the door slowly and saw Rick sound asleep on the bed close to the plasma screen. It was inactive for weeks. He never heard her knock. She was so restless and so she wanted to pay him a visit, though, she felt a little guilty to barge in with her PJs. Still she gathered some courage and whispered his name. "Rick..?"

He stirred and rose up slowly to see who was speaking to him. "Tinsel..?" he asked groggily. Even he never saw her in that fashion.

"Can I...stay with you tonight? Or perhaps sleep next to you?"

He grinned and nodded his ascent. "Of course." He invited her to climb in. They dosed off after a few seconds as they snuggled into their welcoming arms.

The next morning, he decided to visit "an old friend." She had her answer as he took her inside the Dark Star Dragon to the Falcon House. Clank was very enthusiastic to see him, as he thought he was gone forever. So did Burt.

"I'm glad you found him, Tinsel."

"Actually, he was the one who found me first." They smiled to each other. Rick asked her to give them some privacy and she and Clank went to another part of the diner while having breakfast. She described the new friends she met. She couldn't wait to show Rick.

Still, he lamented over the past ordeal. And with just the two of them, they cannot win. "Who said it only has to be the two of us, Rick?" she asked. He looked at her in awe. "I've made some friends while you were gone." She explained of Octoman's so-called appreciation at Green Plant, but he never appeared again. She clarified that he's only working for Dark Million and has an outstanding criminal record, just because he needs money to support his war-torn family, and protect himself from the Milky Way Federation. Rick said he's a target since he's considered a threat, but somehow Tinsel convinced him otherwise as she recapped the Grand Prix a year ago, while she worked with Captain Falcon. She, Clank, and Burt also discussed all the races she and her allies competed in, including her defeat in Fire Field. Both of the guys were stunned as they saw the black machine Rick owned, and what Black Shadow did to it.

A few hours have passed, and she wanted to show Rick her new buddies. Clank grinned, "I'm glad you made it back in one piece, Rick."

"Me too." They did a fist bump, and Tinsel led him the way. The kid was still a bit uneasy as he looked at the Dark Star Dragon. He hoped he'll turn it back to the way it was.

She later showed Leon and the others to him at the old Mute City track, where they were waiting for them. Most of the pilots, he already knew, except for the two young men: The one with the weird spiky hair, and the guy who remarkably had the same name as him. They were all delighted to see the missing champion in person. Rick couldn't be more amazed to meet Draq, Gomar and Shioh, Yugi and Joey, Beastman, and of course Leon. He wanted to have no hard feelings, especially after biting his arm. Rick forgave him, but he wasn't sure about the Furikake people since he knew they were criminals. Tinsel assured him they've been put on probation after bail, just to make sure they wouldn't steal anymore car components in a desperate attempt for cash-ins. At first, the Duelists didn't come to Tinsel's aid since they were too busy fighting Dartz and the Great Leviathan.

Everyone could all relate to the fallen hero's sudden realization: Leon with the possibility on losing the pups at Zou, Joey with his younger sister, Yugi with his grandfather, Draq with his partner Roger Buster, and Gomar and Shioh losing each other as well as their clan. Since they all had a common goal Tinsel declared they must fight together. And that Rick is in charge.
 

But she wasn't done yet. She also took Rick to see Rodney Stewart, someone whom he didn't know. He was surprised that Dr. Robert Stewart never mentioned a son, one who is a prestigious physicist but not a F-Zero racer. She made an appointment at around the afternoon for an introduction.

"Ah, Tinsel. Glad to see you've returned. Is the formula safe?" Rodney said as he saw her and Rick go into his office.

"Yes, it is. Your father doesn't know it yet; I hadn't gotten the chance to see him."

"He could still be with Dark Million, as their asset." the detective said, more to Tinsel.

Rodney turned grim. "I hope he'll be out of that bind soon..." His face brightened as he turned to him. "But at least you got Rick back, so there's still hope. As far as I know, he's one of the most promising pilots in the circuit next to my old man."

"Thanks. That means a lot." Rick smiled and nodded.

"Come, this way." Rodney lend him a hand to the examination bed, with Tinsel close behind. "I need to give you a thorough checkup to see if you're still tainted. I was really surprised you were able to snap out of Dark Million's control and not receive the formula my father made. But now's the time, we must proceed at once."

He prepared himself for the procedure. Tinsel handed him the syringe with its sharp point protected. Rick started to cringe a little at the sight of it. Sensing his slight alarm, he assured him, "Just try and relax, Rick. It won't take long." He used the stethoscope and also examined the arm where Leon bit him. He then scanned it and he was grateful the wound wasn't infected, nor had rabies. When the examination was complete, Rodney grabbed a wet cotton ball and applied it to Rick's upper neck. Then, he began the insertion. "This might feel...a bit weird." Tinsel laid her hands on his as he stuck the sharp point into him. The fluid was injected a few seconds later, making him feel a temporary pang and some numbness. By the time it was done, Rodney removed the needle slowly from the site and covered it up with a bandage.

She asked if Rick was alright, and he just gave her a slow nod.

"You might want to rest before you get the full effect. It's likely your mind could short-circuit if you manage to stay awake." Facing Tinsel, he asked, "Tinsel, would you stay with him?"

"Of course."

Minutes later a spare pillow and a blanket were brought in. Rick began to feel lightheaded in a matter of seconds as he felt something inside his skull, kind of like a buzz. Then it was almost like an anesthetic as he dosed off. Tinsel could've sworn she heard him mumble about feeling the same thing as he went into cold sleep.

"Your mind is being cleansed from whatever toxins are left over. Rest, Rick; you'll wake up soon." Rodney said in a soothing tone.

"Let's hope...it won't be for another...150 years..." He became very still, and Tinsel caressed his hands.

"Thanks for all your help, Doc."

"It's the least I can do, Tinsel. We all need him well again. And the other members of the Task Force. Have you found them yet?" She shook her head. "Don't give up. Finding Rick was quite a start." he praised. "I could see why you love him so much."

"What? How do you-"

"Don't blame yourself. The heart is all that matters. You should pay attention on what it says. Do not doubt yourself and be contradicted. You must follow what's important to you. You might want to tell him."

"I was nervous at first, since he was still suffering from Survivor's Guilt, and the fact that he lost Haruka after being comatose for so long."

"I believe you should express how much you care for him after he awakens. Always follow your heart, Tinsel. He may have some feelings for you too."

"I... I hope so." She highly doubted he would ever be ready.
 

Meanwhile, Rick heard a cheery female voice whisper to him, though he couldn't make it out. He saw a little light at the end of a tunnel where he felt lonely and hopeless. By the time he looked at it and kept listening to it, he recognized who it belonged to. "That voice..." He emerged and it began to blind him temporarily, until he saw her smiling face. "Haruka..." They've made a warm embrace and he held her tight, never wanting to let her go. Her face turned serious as they broke off.

"Is there something wrong?" he asked with concern.

"Rick. I can be with you only for this moment. We cannot stay here for too long. There is still so much at stake. And you will wake up soon."

"Haruka...why am I here?" He couldn't tell if he was dead or not, probably still under the anesthetics. So, perhaps he was only dreaming.

"Rick, you must listen to me. My spirit has left my body 150 years ago. That woman named Miss Killer was a byproduct from Black Shadow. He was the one who reanimated my vessel and transformed it into an abomination."

Seeing him in shock, she grabbed and caressed his hands. "Dark Million must be stopped for good, and the galaxy must be saved. Otherwise...I cannot find rest." she sulked. "You're the only one who could do this, Rick. I know you will. But you mustn't do it alone. Tinsel and your friends are the only ones who're willing to fight by your side."

"I know. I will save them." His grip tightened.

She opened and looked into his eyes. This was something that was hard to say. "She needs you now, more than ever."

"Ah, Haruka..." He couldn't believe what she just said.

"Do not grieve for me. I've watched over you for the last century and a half. I can take care of myself up here. But you still need someone by your side. And that someone, is Tinsel. You gave your love to me, now share it with her. I want you to be strong as she can help heal your wounds. Please, Rick, give her a chance, and prevent Black Shadow from succeeding at all costs."

He nodded with a small grin. "I will."

"Whatever you do, do not let Miss Killer intimidate you. Just remember..." she reached for his shoulders. "One day, we will be reunited. But until then, my spirit will always be with you in your heart. Do not let it be tainted again." She kissed him on the cheek, and then they gave a deep smooch to each other. As she released him one last time, his body started to fade. She said with a smile, "Go in peace, Rick."
 

Tinsel was there when Rick woke up in recovery. His eyes cleared and he saw Tinsel laying over him from the right side. He also gazed upon the locket and the ring next to him on the nightstand. He felt Haruka's kindred spirit in his heart where she said she'll stay, hence the warmth. His body was almost completely immobilized from the anesthetics, and he was just as groggy. "Tinsel..."

She nodded and grinned at him. "It's great to have you back, Rick. How're you feeling?"

He hadn't felt this way before, so calm-minded and mellow. He figured it was just the chemicals, and that they'll wear off in time. "How long was I out of it?"

"About 10 hours. We...actually missed a race."

His face was in total shock. "...What?"

"I'm kidding. We never missed a thing. At least you weren't asleep for another century and a half."

Rick started to raise his hands and move them. He felt his body getting stronger. He sat up slowly, his head swam a little.

"Oh, someone has been wanting to see you."

"Hi, Rick." A child's voice spoke.

"Clank."

"Great to see you're still alive and kicking." They all giggled. "But, I have some bad news. One of the latest machines had just enlisted in the next race, the Astro Robin."

"Jack!" Rick exclaimed.

"Is he a part of Dark Million?" Tinsel asked in horror.

"I'm assuming he is. You have to enter and get him back. The Space Angler will be there, too."

"Thank goodness. Leon will really help us out. We have to go there. Where is it?" she queried.

He grinned. "It's actually in Rick's former hometown; in Aeropolis." They were both relieved and excited.

"We can definitely win this one. I didn't know you lived there, Rick. I thought it was in Mute City, err, New York."

"I moved there when I was young. I lived pretty close actually." he said in confirmation.

"Oh, you gotta see it! It has literally transformed! I'd practiced once in the Ruby Cup last year, and I loved it ever since! The courses are like 30,000 feet above, and the view is just dramatic as you cruise through them, even alongside those mega skyscrapers!" Tinsel beamed.

"This place is incredible; did you know it is being run on a supercomputer? The Mother-Q is the central unit that provides the community in an ideal living environment, and its skyscrapers can regenerate and breed new ones, suiting their ever-increasing population." Clank analyzed.

Rick was undoubtedly enthralled by this, and he couldn't wait to see what it's like. "I hope this would help you appreciate our time a bit more." Tinsel said.

"It already has."

It was nightfall by the time they finally left the hospital, at around 10pm. Rodney wished the trio luck, and reminded Tinsel she must use the syringe on any of the Task Force members they'd come across. "Do not let my father know about this; please keep it safe. It must not fall into the wrong hands."

"We won't." Rick and Tinsel said in unison. The young Stewart successfully made a replica of the formula so she could use it multiple times.

Rick noticed the Dark Star Dragon was missing, as it wasn't in the same place where he left it. Clank admitted that while he was asleep, he called Tinsel and some of her friends to give him a big surprise. The Silver Comet was docked in the lot just a few feet down. She confirmed it was true on what the prodigy did, and he wasn't the one who hacked into it, but repaired it.

In the garage at HQ, some parts of the Dragon Ghost replaced those from the Dark Star Dragon. To Rick, it was pretty much the same. The white body was back, and the portions with the creepy colors and designs were scrapped away.

He touched it delicately. "We've been through a lot together. Yet it feels like...so long ago..."

Clank managed to tweak its settings and restore it to how it used to be. Rick was very astonished that it had decent components from the Dragon Bird and the Dragon Ghost.

"Now you got the best of both time periods in one machine!" Tinsel chirped.

"Yeah! I really like this! Thanks, Clank."

"No problem, Ricky. Glad I can help, and I really appreciate you returning to our side."

"I can't wait to give it a test run." Rick said excitedly.

"Well...It's kind of late, don't you think? It's already half past ten." Tinsel looked at her watch and yawned. "Besides, spending all these hours at Rodney's place can take it's toll; it's such a grind."

"I can see that." Clank replied. "I should get going. You'd best be careful, you two. Dark Million might be looking for you guys."

"Good point." Rick said. "I'll try and enhance the safeguards around here. We really need someplace to set up shop."

Tinsel thought for a second to invite Leon, Beastman, Draq, the Duelists, and Gomar and Shioh in here, but she disregarded the idea as the headquarters were meant for Task Force members only. She found a comfortable couch to lay on. After he made the safety protocols about an hour has passed. Rick saw her rest once more, then he went in the closet and laid a thick blanket on her. She moaned as she held it closely. He continued to watch over her. "Everything will be alright." he whispered as he laid a hand on her. "I will stay with you, so you can rest." He paused for a bit and promised to protect her.

While she slept, Rick was like the night owl, as he stayed up until the crack of dawn.

The next morning was the day for the big race, as well as their training, in Aeropolis. Tinsel met Rick in the garage, fine and dandy. "Ready to give the slightly modified Dragon Bird a spin, Rick?"

He smiled with a thumbs-up, "You bet, Tinsel. I'm back and better than ever!"

She nodded. "That remains to be seen. Meet me on the track."
 

They wound up at Multiplex, and Rick was nothing short on being overwhelmed by this amazing aerial metropolis. As they closed in on the course, the machines ascended higher and higher, until they were slightly above the clouds. There were also some small advanced planes and hover cars flying around the gorgeous scenery. And according to Clank's research, Rick as a kid actually lived at the location before it was named Aeropolis back in his time.

The Silver Comet and the Dragon Bird arrived on the track, and it was a one-on-one race. He and Tinsel were both enamored as they whizzed through the thin metal track using the numerous speed plates. They also needed to watch out for landmines, although if they'd hit one directly, they could get a boost. It was incredibly exhilarating when they used the single jump plate on the side as well as the drop they came across. Not even the dirt roads hindered the thrilling experience! They've competed who would complete the course the fastest, using all the gimmicks and their boosters. It didn't matter who won, and they made sure they weren't too reckless where they would fall off course or crash into a nearby building; they knew in advance those weren't for show. They made three laps, and at one point, Tinsel could've sworn they were flying as they kept leaping off the ramp with a sudden boost, just how a comet, and a dragon, or bird, should!

Soon enough, it was over. Both machines stopped and the pilots were still ecstatic as they attempted to calm themselves. "Wow! That was incredible! I hadn't had this much fun on ANY F-Zero track! We're definitely gonna nail the next one!" Tinsel cried.

"I couldn't agree more, Tinsel!" Rick added.

By the time they collected their bearings, he told her more about Haruka. "I remember racing with her; we, too, had some fun times together."

"Really? She used to be a talented driver, as well? What was she like back then?"

She was known as the racing queen back then. They competed against each other, but only during practice runs. They never did it during the Big Apple tournaments, unlike today. He also said that he fell in love with her as they had so much in common, including racing, and she was fascinated that he was both a talented competitor and police officer. He met her when she was twenty-one, her mom was a fashion designer, and her dad was a diplomat. They grew closer and closer as they saw each other more, even during races. She was the one who carried him forward when he won, or even lost as an amateur. It was no wonder that Black Shadow recruited her, rather than just bringing back someone from his past. But being with Tinsel reminded him of those times; they were so similar that maybe...

The alarm chirped on the Dragon Bird's dash, interrupting his reverie.

"Oh, we should get going. The next race is about to start. We cannot be late."

"I'll be right behind you, Rick!"

And so they were off. They both hoped that things wouldn't take a turn for the worst. Especially for Jack and the remaining members of the Task Force, Rick feared.

A/N: The Aeropolis Multiplex was one of my all-time favorite courses from GX. The Dark Star Dragon has three meanings: Dark Million's turf is known as Dark Star, this symbolizes Rick's alter ego after being brainwashed by Black Shadow, and it's an homage to the same name of a team in Mutant League Football. Plus the mixture of the black and reds tend to make both Rick and his machine have a more sinister appearance, and without counting the cape and helmet, it could be a similar look to Shao Khan, albeit shorter and thinner. Being that Rick was under Black Shadow's influence, it's a survival mission covered in black ice, and the Dragon's body's been enhanced to the A rank, while his other stats haven't changed. "The Chase is on!" plays as the Dark Star Dragon attempts to kill Tinsel, while the White Land theme from GP Legend plays as she and Leon pursue him.

"The Promised Land" from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children plays as Rick has been reunited with Haruka. As for the golden locket Rick has, I'm planning to describe it during the holiday season. Hopefully I'll get to that soon.

So far, I think this is one of my favorite laps in this fic. I was looking forward to have Rick reunited with Tinsel, as well as have some insight from Haruka's kindred spirit. I think their relationship is really starting to bud here. I figured it was a cool idea combining the parts from the Dragon Bird and Ghost. So, Jack is next. Will Tinsel, Rick, and Leon succeed, or crash and burn?

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: Rick has reunited with Tinsel and is no longer a part of Dark Million. They go on a salvage mission to save both Jack and Lucy. Will the captors have the same fate in the next two courses?

Lap 8

On their way to the Dragon Slopes, Rick told Tinsel of Jack being the Death Reaper for Michael Chain; a masked assassin who's mission was to destroy other gangs so the Bloody Chain would be the most dominant in Mute City, and later the whole universe. However, he saw his best friend deal with his past during that street race on an unfinished bridge. It ended in a draw, and Rick was able to distract Baba. As the two were fighting it out, they both held on to the unstable infrastructure. Thankfully, he and Jody were there to save his life, while Michael was taken in.

"I hope this time it's for good, Rick. Man, am I getting tired of this guy."

Tinsel recalled last year when she was chasing Falcon to Lightning, as well as the trap that a geek named Truman set up in the basement: The last time was when she just obtained a huge silver Duel Disc; it was able to hold about two decks, though she never needed that many. She never liked it as it kept falling off her right arm, and it always became sore. It was during a party, where Dream and her boyfriend lived. They were fans of Rick and there were rumors that some pilots went missing. Then they were introduced to the Arrow couple. Truman led her friends to the basement after the disc suddenly fell off Tinsel's arm. She was assorting her deck, and that was when the Wild Boars showed up. She saw the pilots encased in a huge laser gate which was excruciatingly painful to the touch, and through eavesdropping Truman was making some kind of deal with Mike. She dialed a number for the Galaxy Police. 

"Hello, my name is Tinsel Steelus. I'm at Truman's mansion, and he's dealing with Michael Chain. Watch out for fireworks. Hurry, he's got a gun!" She told the hapless woman to stay in the basement while she confronted the Bloody Chain.

"Hey, Mikey! Remember me, you big, black oaf!"

"What?! Who're you calling big, black oaf?! I am Michael Chain, and this is my gang! We have some unfinished business to attend to. So, why don't you do us a favor and BEAT it!"

"Never, Mikey. For you see..." She brightened and pointed a thumb to herself. "I am Tinsel Steelus, a member of the Elite Mobile Task Force, and I've come to force you to release my friends!"

Everyone, except Truman, laughed.

"Young, yet foolish. The Task Force has already been locked up! You have no chance against the Bloody Chain. What would it do with such a weak specimen like you!? You can't beat us!"

"Really? Not even with...THIS?" She took out a card that had an image of Kuriboh. It was a small creature with brown fur; big, beady yellow eyes with purple pupils; and tiny green limbs with yellow claws. Everyone, except their leader, was scared silent. "T-th-that's the monster that blew up our machines!"

"Ahhh, get it out of here!"

"What? What're you talking about?! That's just a pathetic, little fur ball. He's too cute to be a threat."

"Mikey, he's deadly. Let's get outta here!" Most of the gangsters hightailed out. Tinsel loaded the card and then used Multiply on top of it; the light goldenrod card with the X symbol was activated as it illuminated. Kuriboh materialized and shot out, then more appeared, and they each clung to the Boars. Some of the members were running away, but they were already caught in the destruction as each creature glowed very brightly...

BANG! BANG! BOOM!

Every machine exploded, including Mike's Wild Boar. Sirens wailed as they headed to the stunning sight while each car was obliterated. The officers apprehended the crooks, including Mike who was trapped beneath his own Boar. They were very impressed how the rookie was able to find and destroy the Bloody Chain by herself. In the end, she said Truman made a terrible mistake: as he was desperate for his and Dream's safety, and relied on the Bloody Chain for protection as long as he captures more F-Zero pilots. He was so much in peril that he wanted to trap the Task Force in exchange for his life. Tinsel told the cops to let him go and drop the charges. 

"We might as well, since you were the one who led us to the Bloody Chain. We've been looking for them for years..."


After that, Michael escaped from prison, wanting the Death Reaper to return. Fortunately, Jack realized what was most important, for having friends in the Task Force and dealing with their troubled pasts together, just like Rick and Tinsel. 

He thought that Jack could have a similar fashion since he was the Death Reaper.

"Don't worry. Three against one, on Aeropolis? I'm sure the odds are in our favor."

"You must never underestimate your enemies, Tinsel." he warned. "It's highly unlikely that the gang had ties with Dark Million, that was before Baba; Mike escaped from prison and he was on the hunt for Jack. And under the right conditions...he can be a very aggressive contender."

Before they got to their destination, Tinsel was looking over the schematics on the Astro Robin in order to familiarize herself with the enemy: According to Clank, Jack's contraption had a high acceleration and amazing handling, decent body strength, but pretty slow. Of course, Rick had a point on not misjudging her opponent. And being he's always a cocky pilot who isn't afraid to take any risks, they were in for quite a challenge!

"I think I might leave Jack to you, Rick; you seem to know him better than us. And the Astro Robin could be too much if not for your Dragon Bird."

"I'll do my best. Just make sure you and Leon stay sharp."

"Gotcha."
 

Eventually, the duo reached the serpentine circuit, although it was hard to find resulting them to have some delays, and they had only minutes to prepare themselves before the race. They hadn't seen Jack nor the Astro Robin, though Leon and his Space Angler were already waiting within the starting line.

"I thought you two would never show up." the anthropomorphic licked his dry lips.

"Sorry we're a little tardy to the party, Leon." Rick remarked.

"It took us awhile to find this place." Tinsel added.

Looking around and then to the pilots, Leon commented, "This must be some new stuff to ya."

They both nodded, although Tinsel had some slight experience at the Multiplex during the Ruby league. She took all three of them after her missions with Falcon were done; unfortunately, though she gave her best, she wasn't skilled enough to participate in the legendary Diamond Cup. It didn't bother her too much, though.

"This one has some guardrails lacking so prepare yourselves. What's your strategy?"

Rick suggested that Tinsel and Leon should deal with the rival racers, while he goes on the lookout for Jack. He figured he'll have a better chance since his Dragon Bird is strong enough if the Robin should get reckless. Not to mention the awesome speed which would allow him to catch up easily, as well as its grip. The machine may be slow, but Jack is often a deceiver; he's certain he'll cause a lot of chaos, though he's nervous he could get ahead of himself and fall off. The trio were, however, a bit relieved as Jack would be the only main enemy thus far.

They had to be extra cautious since they noticed the Robin is further in front while the others were in the midsection. As Rick saw it, some repressed memory came to him:

He was at Black Shadow's base, gazing at Jack's craft with Miss Killer close to his side. The tank hadn't released his best friend/rival yet, though he did see the makeover that he and his machine had. Jack had his right eye covered by a red and black patch; he could've sworn he looked very much like Death Reaper with the zigzag locks, the dark shoulder plates with the bolts, and the same suit but consisting a long-sleeve with a darker shade and the huge bolt. He also donned on long red gloves and a black cloak. The Robin had an indigo color and a large neon blue bolt dissolving into white.

"The Reaping Robin..."

"Wait, what was that?" Tinsel asked, snapping Rick out of his flashback.

He faced them with an anxious expression. "Jack Levin had the same makeover I had, both to himself and his machine. I remembered it being called the Reaping Robin. No doubt they're using this reference to him being the Death Reaper. Jack may really be out for blood. His boost stat may have increased as well."

"But, how would Dark Million know all this?" Leon asked, astonished.

"Baba must've known. He probably got the word out to Black Shadow during that duel. This was before he was wiped out in that Big Blue race, remember?" she said to her partner.

"Oh yeah... Good thing we have our own personal informant." Leon pointed to Rick whom he smirked.

"All pilots return to your vehicles; the race will begin very shortly." The announcer spoke. "I repeat, all pilots return to your vehicles."

"Well, I guess we better skedaddle." Tinsel said. "I hope you know what you're doing, Rick. We cannot lose him."

He didn't feel so confident, and he's not the type of person making a plan, either. He hoped his own judgement wouldn't fail him. If anything should happen to Jack, he'd never forgive himself.

Sensing his angst, the coyote whimpered. "It's three against one. Don't let your concerns get in your way. We can win this and get Jack back!"

"God speed to both of you."

Tinsel and Leon did a high-five, and they hurried to their cruisers. Rick was more sluggish as his mind was clouding with uncertainty.

It was known as the Dragon Slopes 'cause of the incredibly sharp curves, followed by the speed plates before the numerous ledges pilots can grasp. There were three layers, top, middle, and bottom. The lowest layer was the fastest of them all, and they must be widely aware of the missing guardrails along the way. At times, the course was wide, then narrow, then it expanded and shrunk on inopportune moments and those lanes contained several speed-ups, causing Rick, Tinsel, and Leon to use extreme caution and not lose Jack to the 30,000-foot drop. They must not be distracted by the endless hordes of crafts buzzing above the course, not even the highway covered in a translucent bridge overhead. There were a couple of pit areas, though they were attached to the sides of the track; thankfully, there were some walls. But where there was ice and dirt was definitely the worst part.

Nevertheless, it didn't make Jack falter; he went on a killing spree, wiping out any pilot he saw. His speed may have been enhanced, but his maneuvering and his devastating defense made him a wrecking machine, and under Black Shadow's control, he was deadly! Some pilots were knocked off course thanks to the Reaping Robin, though they used their ejection seats and parachutes before their cars became space dust. The rumors were true, he was working for Dark Million. As the Death Reaper's name applied, the big bad wanted to use him to eliminate all competitors that stood between him and his domineering victory.

"He's gonna kill all those pilots!" Seeing the activity, Leon was alarmed.

"Not if I can help it!" The Dragon Bird led the two machines into the fray.

"That's Black Shadow alright. He's so hell-bent on winning and exterminating the competition," Tinsel confirmed.

"We have to stop him. I'll take the lead and put an end to this. You two can finish the race, don't let him spot you."

"Be careful, Rick."

He just saw him demolish another one, only this one crashed into a distant skyscraper which regenerated in a matter of seconds. Despite the outstanding spectacle, he still had a job to do. He banged into the Robin's tail just to give him some attention. "Wheeler..."

"You want a piece of me, Jack!? After what you did to those pilots?!"

The punk said casually, "Easy, Ricky, I was just following orders from Black Shadow is all. You should join him, too, y'know, as our friends are waiting for you. Especially your girlfriend..."

He tried to intimidate him, but Rick was just steaming up. "No way, Jack! I've been down this road before, and I'm never going back! I won't let you destroy every pilot on the circuit; you're just as insane as Zoda is!"

His face grew very sour, at the realization that Rick was betraying his old friend and both associations. "Then allow me to vanquish you instead! See you later, filthy traitor!"

He was indeed a pushover as he attempted to force Rick off the edge! The Dragon Bird just barely hung in there as it was losing its footing, fortunately in mere seconds, it gained some ground which caused it to wobble as well as getting a speed boost. From the rear, Leon and Tinsel saw the melee continue. "It's Jack! I gotta stop him!"

Being she was the fastest, and disobeying Rick's orders, Tinsel caught up and kept ramming into him, but her Comet was weak. So, as she was forced away, Rick stepped in and she boosted passed the clashing elites. Jack went on the pursuit not allowing her nor Rick to win, but Leon was just catching up. "Don't worry about her, Rick. I got him in my sights!" The Space Angler hammered into him, but he was also too light. Lastly was Rick who gave it everything his machine could muster and Jack fell down the course where there wasn't a guardrail. Talk about karma! He just sunk like a stone since it was heavier than the others. "Aaahhh..!"

"One down!" Tinsel said.

"Oh no.. Jack!" Rick immediately stopped on the track, scared that his perished pal might have fallen from the slopes. He wanted his comrades to win the race, while he checks on him. "Go to him. Don't forget the syringe." she reminded.

He met him at the wreckage in a lower portion, but the rocker was unconscious. Paramedics arrived when the race ended. Rick gave them Dr. Stewart's formula. "The syringe... Did Tinsel give this to you?"

He nodded. "Then, this must belong to Rodney. We'll take him in right away." Rick only watched as they loaded in Jack on a stretcher and towed away the Robin.
 

At Rodney's hospital, he eventually came to. He immediately saw Tinsel and recognized her from the last race. "Hey, what were you doin' wrecking my machine!? Ow..." His arm gave away. He was in multiple bandages and the injured limb was in a sling.

"Take it easy, man. You just got out of the wreckage." Tinsel warned. Although he seemed to be back to his normal, egotistical self again. "By the way, the Space Angler won while I came in second. Leon, Rick, and I wanted to make sure you didn't get into any more trouble."

"Trouble? What kind of trouble?" he stared blankly.

"About what happened, Jack. You really don't remember anything?"

"Not really." Jack's face lit up as he gasped. "Wheeler!" They did a manly hug as they reunited. "I thought I'd never see that bugger again."

"It's great to see you, too." Tinsel said. "As your energetic, overconfident, and hotheaded old self."

"Hotheaded?! Well, you're one to talk trying to destroy me."

Rick, however, was more serious. She was about to make a rebuttal until he asked what he could remember these last several weeks. Jack recalled there was something sharp on the back of his neck.

"Before that." They said together.

He said he was meeting some very sexy ladies. They gave him a stern look. "Aside from that, I can't seem to remember very much. Other than looking for your sorry hide, Wheeler. By the way, where were you anyway?! Wait 'til Jody hears about this-"

"She has turned over, Jack. She's with Black Shadow." Tinsel said.

"So have the others. We only found you, so far. They're still in Dark Star." Rick added.

Jack's face fell. "What..? How could that be? I could only recollect ourselves being ambushed by those thugs."

"Thanks to you and Rick, the rumors have turned out to be true." Tinsel felt uneasy, first Rick and then Jack. She was certain Dark Million won't be holding back. "Still..."

"We're glad to have you at our side, Jack. Will you race with us?"

"Sure thing, Ricky! I'll get out of these casts in no time."

"Alright. We could sure use your help." Tinsel was for once glad he was officially working for the Task Force again, despite the major shortage of recruits. "See you later."

Before she walked away, he grabbed her lightly by the arm. "Um, Tinsel? We...seem to be bonding, aren't we, mate?"

She stuck up her index finger. "Only professionally."

"That doesn't mean you're going to get all mushy on me, are ya?" Tinsel looked at their waiting expressions.

"Course not!" That started a roar of laughter from each of them. Yep, Jack was back!

Rick and Tinsel headed back to their machines. They were so drained as they both took a deep sigh on a nearby park bench.

"One down..."

"Six more to go." he added. She mentally counted the remaining missing members: Jody, EAD, Clash, Lucy, Stewart, and Tanaka. Rick was right. They both knew that from this race onward, the Task Force won't show any mercy.

Clank informed the duo that the Astro Robin might have just a paint job. He'll return it to Team Lightning Bolt where it'll be good as new, though it'll cost them. Luckily, Leon would pay for it thanks to some of his earnings; this was actually his first-ever victory. Tinsel couldn't be more proud of that pooch.

While Jack was healing, Rick and Tinsel met an unexpected guest. He was around 15 feet tall, skinny, and was an alien with scaly, teal skin. Seems to be some kind of greenish humanoid-like being with extensions to his head that looked and acted like hair, but was, in fact, flesh. He was wearing a formal outfit, complete with a tie. "Rick Wheeler?" he spoke in a tenor voice.

He stood up and greeted him. "Yeah, that's me."

"I've realized you hadn't crossed the finish line at the end of the race. I see you went after Jack instead. Since you never placed in Aeropolis, this could result in a disqualification."

"Oh no..." Tinsel sulked. How could they possibly compete if Rick shouldn't race anymore?

"However, since you were able to stop Jack from destroying the other pilots, there were no casualties. Thus, you would still be eligible for the next competition."

"Thanks, Commissioner."

"Rick, you and Tinsel are the last of the Mobile Task Force; it's crucial that we should stop Dark Million from gaining the profits. You two must find the rest of the group and bring them home safely. Our lives depend on it. That's your mission for both of you. Understood?"

"Yes, sir." They said in unison.

He gave her a handshake. His hand felt rough, but very much like an elderly human's. "Great to finally meet you, Tinsel. Seems you're not much of a novice, after all. Keep up the good work."

She responded with a two-finger salute. "You got it!"
 

A short time later, Rick, Tinsel, and Draq participated in another Grand Prix course. Leon was one of the spectators watching from the stands; he really wanted to see the trio succeed and reverse Dark Million's effect over another particular member of their team, while Jack was still stuck in his body casts. Their opponents, identified by Clank, were Lucy as well as one of the most nefarious toadies Black Shadow ever conceived, Blood Falcon. He was undoubtedly the most lethal foe they'd faced and the Elegance Liberty, or rather the Pallid Pony, was a paperweight by comparison.

According to the info provided just before the competition, the altered vehicle had a phenomenal grip, and a formidable body. The only change was her boost stat which was actually higher than the Astro Robin's by just one level. The exterior was also completely different as the Pallid Pony had an appearance as white as an apparition with the ashen plates, it was skinnier and more lightweight hence the speed improvement and sharp handling.

With Tinsel leading the pack during the final lap, she was the first to see the newbie's striking uniform: She wore black shoulder plates, with a blanch outfit. Her hair was also as dark as her tainted soul, plus heavy opaque lipstick and eye shadow were smeared causing her to have a more Gothic approach.

The enemy machine, the Blood Hawk or otherwise known as the Hell Hawk, was also analyzed. The main engine was designed by the BS Group. It was remarkably the same one that held the underground races when F-Zero was suspended for seven, long years. It had a secondary engine which was stolen from the Blue Falcon at the time of the accident by Black Shadow. Tinsel recalled dealing with the Captain's carbon copy last year. She strategized that although its boost and body were boons, its only weakness was its grip. Apparently, the demon and his organization didn't do such a swell job replicating the all-time champion's unstoppable machine.

The Silver Comet kept ramming into the Pallid Pony and they were on a pushing match to see who was stronger. "Let's hope your luck will run out, Lucy!" They had a tough battle as the Blood Hawk kept gaining on them. He smashed into her without any relent, and Lucy just glared and sped off.

"Agh! The Hell Hawk is so damn strong!" Tinsel cried as the beasty bird kept pulverizing her.

"Hang on!" The Dragon Bird was close behind. He wound up on the left side and crammed into the assailant. They were soon nearing a sharp curve with no guardrails and the Blood Hawk was sandwiched. "Tinsel, turn against the Blood Hawk as much as you can!"

She obliged as she kept turning left. Rick did the opposite, not allowing the Hawk to attack nor boost. However, he managed to make a few minimal nudges to escape.

"Wait for it..? Wait for it? NOW!"

As the detective gave the signal, they both accelerated leaving Blood vulnerable. He actually fastened and steered so much, that he fell off the course and obliterated right after the scrimmage!

"Yahoo! We did it!" She cheered, however it was short-lived with Lucy in the lead. "But, Lucy..."

Rick constantly used his booster, but he wasn't quick enough. "She's too fast, I'm falling behind." He looked at the mini map upon his dashboard screen. "Damn, I can't catch up. We're nearing the finish line now."

"Leave that to me. Draq, I need your help dealing with Lucy."

"On my way." he grunted.

She figured the Comet and the Typhoon would be able to stop her since they had the highest acceleration amongst the other machines. It was just enough, though they had to watch their stamina as they both had a C rank.

Draq distracted Lucy with a crash, though she was better as she bashed him. Since he had bad handling, he slipped away and lagged behind. But Tinsel finished the job as she caught her off guard with a side attack, making her spin out and collide with other fellow contenders. They raced each other before they crossed the finish line. Rick was first, Tinsel in second, and Draq third. As usual, the colossal creature was bummed out.

"An amazing comeback from Rick Wheeler! This has been a long time since we've seen him achieve victory on the F-Zero circuit. And the rookie, Tinsel Steelus, isn't too far behind! The Mighty Typhoon had a difficult struggle with the Pallid Pony, yet Draq managed to end up taking the Bronze position. What a great team effort from the awesome trio!"

"Hey, don't feel bad." Rick assured a disappointed Draq. "There's always next time."

"Yeah, besides this is our victory; we've won this together. We wouldn't have done it without you." Tinsel added. "We really appreciated your help for keeping Lucy busy." The magenta monster gave a slight smile to the two humans. And so he, she, and Rick all raised the trophy. Just before the medics towed the injured pilot and her machine away, Tinsel applied the syringe when they got to the demolition while Rick shown her a vein in the neck.
 

When she was under, the team got her old uniform and Rodney and his assistants gave Lucy back her natural look. Clank said that he'd easily restore the Pallid Pony to its original settings as the Elegance Liberty. It didn't take too long for her to recover afterwards, just a mere few hours. Jack visited as did Leon.

The novice's vision blurred, but she was able to make out her friends standing over her from left to right. "Jack..? Rick..? Tinsel? Leon!" She beamed as she saw him panting heavily. The moment she said his name, he licked her happily and his tail was wagging rapidly. He was the most grateful to see her as her normal self again, no longer hiding his great feelings of affection for her.

"Hey. Who's partner are you, anyway?" Tinsel retorted. Leon also gave her a kiss, but he immediately returned to Lucy who was laughing the whole way.

"It's only natural, Tinsel. Besides, Leon hasn't seen Lucy over the past few months." Rick pointed out. He mentioned they first saw him as a busboy at the Falcon House, and he somehow had a crush on Lucy. He admitted once that he was afraid to show it, until now.

"Looks like you got yourself a fan boy, don't you, Lucy?"

"Oh, Jack. You're too much. Hey, what happened to you?" she was taken aback by his many bandages and the crutches. Her friends described the last race in Aeropolis, and she was alarmed that Dark Million was able to take advantage over the Task Force, including her, Jack, and Rick respectively. "That means...Clash is there, too. We gotta help him."

"Easy, Lucy. You just woke up." the canine reminded her. "We'll see what we can do. We've already gotten this far."

"You just concentrate on resting for awhile, champ." Rick suggested. "Leave this up to us."

"It feels like such a long time since we were last together, Rick. I'm so glad that we finally are again."

"Indeed, it has." Tinsel confirmed.

"Don't worry, princess. I'll be back in action. You'll see." Jack boasted.

With a smile, she counted on them. And Leon gave her another smooch before they left.

Back at headquarters, Rick mentioned to Tinsel seeing Blood Falcon while saving Jody from an abandoned warehouse in Port Town, and recently when the Task Force split due to a big misunderstanding as he shapeshifted to each member, spreading lies and chaos. He informed her they only managed to wipe out one of the clones.

"One...?! Are you saying there are more Blood Falcon clones?!"

He remembered while he was in Dark Star, there was a secret lab, but he never entered it; it's likely Stewart has. There was a restricted area just next to the main chamber with all those toxic tanks.

"I swear it, I'll destroy that laboratory as soon as we save him." he vowed.

She worried, "There could be thousands of 'em roaming the galaxy."

He assured, "It's unlikely Black Shadow would use them, unless if there's a race involved. They're expendable."

"I hope Clank and Leon can help track them down."

I'm certain Dr. Clash and EAD would reconstruct many Hell Hawks. But... Could it be from the Skull, or Dr. Stewart? she wondered. Only time can tell, which was something she and Rick thought they don't have much of.

A/N: I could use the song Synobazz from Maximum Velocity during the Dragon Slopes. Also I know this is from another game, not really a huge fan of it, though, but I'm gonna take a gamble and pick a track from the original Top Gear. In my eyes, I find the game to be incredibly annoying with the numerous pit stops where you constantly have to re-fuel, as well as use about three ineffective nitros, and the AI just rubber bands so much..! Anyway, my point is, I decided to go with Track 4 (or as I call it the San Francisco track, as this song first plays here) on the second course. And...well, it kind of reminds me of Rick, again. I just find it to be a decent fit for him since they're both epic, and it may contain some elements from the races he competed 150 years ago; he was a champion then, and even those cars had wheels. Eh...I guess it's just the fan girl in me talking.

The scenarios in the flashback were different from the episode itself. I wanted to make it seem more climatic as Tinsel deals with the Bloody Chain and Truman's treachery. She had a warm heart when she said she'll drop the incarceration, but by the time her friends were released, she never wanted to show up for the wedding during the Mute City Grand Prix. Once you get under her skin, she can be as cold as ice. This trait will be significant later.

I never had the chance to try the Diamond Cup; little did I know that it could be unlocked via Expert on all three rounds with a first place finish. At least I saw it on Ephraim225's LP, even AX! It was from there where I also found that Sand Ocean course I used in an earlier Lap, and there was an interesting rule in the physics of the game. If your machine begins to fall and go on the course in just mere seconds without dropping, it'll gain a speed boost for those who're very risky.

Also, little did I know, that Blood Falcon WAS introduced in X as an unlockable character for the captain's alternate outfit. I thought for the longest time he wasn't introduced until GX, but I guess it makes sense 'cause of the huge accident. And I realized that the course was never mentioned, and Pico was the rumor, 'cause in the X Cup the courses are randomized. No wonder Smash Bros got the idea to incorporate Falcon, and give him the clone's appearance, since it was released one year LATER! Damn!

It's just so interesting that the Elegance Liberty is remarkably similar to the Astro Robin, albeit has a better speed boost. The Pallid Pony is a unique machine I came up with: this is a reference to not only a poltergeist, but also the Horse of Death. I guess Sleepy Hollow is coming back to me on this one. But it's a pony since it's supposed to be for Lucy with her petite stature, albeit a bit more heavier; strong but mighty. Also, I wasn't certain what Jack's alternate machine should look like nor Lucy's appearance, the former was kind of like a night lightning strike of sorts. As for his appearance, it's almost like a mix between the Death Reaper and Ghetsis from Pokémon Black and White.

So, Clash will be up next. And are the rumors true about Dark Million producing multiple clones of Blood Falcon? Good luck Task Force.

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: Before I forget, I want to make a quick mention to the awesome discovery I found recently. There was actually the intro of the anime's American dub with fan-made lyrics; this would be the start for this fic.

So Rick, Tinsel and her allies killed two birds with one stone; they managed to reunite with Jack and Lucy in two consecutive races. With the duo as official members of the Task Force again, the pilots come across another former ally, and perhaps a tragic end...

Lap 9

By the next race, it was just enough time for Jack ad Lucy to leave the hospital. They were so enamored they just returned home since God-knows-when. The former rocker was glad to be back in his messy room, while Lucy was thankful to be in hers complete with makeup, some small tools, and fan memorabilia. Even Rick and Tinsel were also easing up a little now that their family is in the process of unity.

Once they were settled, Lucy gave them the lowdown. "I fear that Dr. Clash would be there. I...I can't be in the next race. I just can't race against him, he's too important to me." Her voice was close to cracking. "Please, bring back Dr. Clash in one piece."

"Don't worry, Lucy. We will. We will..." Rick responded in a soothing tone.

"Of course, we must be careful since the Crazy Bear has high body strength and boost." Tinsel warned.

"I don't like this. Clash is an expert when it comes to machinery." Jack recoiled. All four of the officers knew from the get-go that he would make some modified cars, soldiers, and major weapons for Black Shadow to use. They were certain he made the alterations on the Elegance Liberty and the Astro Robin. Though he wasn't the one who created the Dark Star Dragon; not to Rick's knowledge.

"We definitely need some help from the outside." he suggested.

When he heard that a certain engineer would participate, Beastman decided to volunteer as returning a favor for redesigning the Hyper Speeder; it was a fighter craft during an interplanetary war in White. Back when he was in the ripe age of 48, Dr. Clash was interested in fulfilling his goal on being an F-Zero pilot, just like his own. Ever since the X Grand Prix, Beastman couldn't be any happier, except maybe actually win a few of them. After receiving the call of duty, "Sure thing, Tinsel. I owe Dr. Clash a lot; it's been years since I've seen the old-timer."
 

Jack, Tinsel, and Rick raced against him, as Leon and Beastman took the rear. The Crazy Bear was too strong for most of the racers to handle as he was so damn reckless on the track, demolishing anyone he saw! They were nervous they'd be the next bunch of victims in his wrathful wake. It was quite obvious since he was one of Dark Million's most promising mechanics. His machine was a total brute on the course, as Clash had a nearly-perfect contraption with an incredibly strong body, a decent boost, but bad handling; almost like the Hell Hawk they faced earlier, except the first two stats were reversed.

The Dragon Bird was indeed the first to catch up. Fighting the dark impulses as best as he could when he saw him, Clash's eyes were widening and dwindling rapidly. Seeing him struggling, Rick kept speaking to him, encouraging him to resist the urges just as he did after the incident in White Land. Clash rammed into him, but he was able to break just in time. The pilots were amazed on how he avoided Clash's crash.

Not wanting to provoke him further, Rick spoke again, "Clash! It's me, Rick! Black Shadow is infecting your mind! You have to strike back. With your ingenious mind you're the one who can do this! Don't let him squander it! Remember us, and fight the darkness from within!"

Through the intense agony and the intrusive voices, he implored only him that he must win in first otherwise his machine would explode. If it would, everybody near him would be destroyed and it will affect the whole track! He confessed that he designed the mechanism himself and attached it to his own machine.

"But why?!" Rick said, alarmed. "Why did you do this to yourself?!"

For a time, the tech genius composed himself and told Rick in his despair he planted a device on it. He also trapped himself inside the cockpit as he entered the next race; he had no means on escaping. He knew he was far from saving, he never wanted the syringe since he felt he's too far gone. He was very grateful he finally achieved his life-long dream as an F-Zero pilot as well as joining the Mobile Task Force. With enough mind power he was able to have one final flashback to his earlier years:

His name was Theodore Clash. Decades back, he was known as a pro when it came to science and technology; he always had the highest minds than all of the other students, even in college where he was unsurpassable. He remembered competing and winning in many science fairs. But despite his success, he never got any attention, as the pupil body were interested in athletes instead of nerds. He always called himself "a supertonic geekoid." He was well-known as not just an engineer, but also an atomic scientist and an inventor, thus making him a crucial asset to the Task Force and recently Dark Million. He's a fan of old-time rock and roll, and he recalled having eight custom-made machines and seventeen prospects in his career. Not counting Tinsel and her Silver Comet, which just entered his degrading mind. He used to look up to his idols from the first F-Zero race, until he identified who the latter two were. The waiting took his toll, and he made the Crazy Bear in order to assist his limited mobility, making him equal to the prowess of the more experienced pilots. He joined the Grand Prix during the big accident, and he was the most fortunate next to Super Arrow thanks to the machine's advanced safety features. He was disappointed that it was suspended for a good, long while, until GX came around. Sadly, he lost against Captain Falcon and Tinsel Steelus, but the rest was history... 

On the final lap, his willpower continued to waver as the past left him wounded; he had so much to lose and still the toxins persisted, allowing him to say that Rick must knock him off before the Bear blows up. He hoped that Lucy will take his place as an aspiring engineer for the Federation, and work with Clank.

"I must let you go in first. You can't throw your prosperous life away like this!"

"Rick...you have to trust me, ergh!" The 55-year old held his throbbing head with his human arms while the mechanical limbs steered, his mind deteriorating in the process. The Crazy Bear was grinding the side of the course creating sparks.

"Clash..!"

"It's better this way. Unless you are willing to end your life! You're our last hope! I'm counting on you, the galaxy's fate is in your hands, not mine..."

"I'd rather sacrifice myself than lose anyone else...as I did so with Haruka." he softened.

His face lit. "I admire your valiance, kid. At least THAT hasn't changed a bit."

Meanwhile, Jack and Tinsel wondered why the Dragon Bird wasn't making a move against the Crazy Bear. "Why isn't Wheeler doin' anything? Quit screwing around!" he said impatiently.

She grabbed the communicator and asked, "Rick, what is going on?"

As he momentarily kept himself together, he demanded, "Tinsel! Jack! You must be able to pass us while I can still deal with Clash. Get as far away as you can!" They've nodded to each other with blank stares and accelerated as far as possible. "Leon, Beastman! Stay far behind me! We'll finish this race."

"Alright, but..." The dinosaur-suited individual was cut off.

"What the hell is he trying to do?!" the anthropomorphic wondered anxiously.

Rick teared up as he saw the detonator flashing. The geeky geezer wasn't fooling around, this was definitely not a prank! Clash begged him to do the unthinkable and the inevitable. "Rick, what're you waiting for..? Do it. Save me. Now!" They were very close to the finish line. After a few moments which almost stretched to an eternity...

"Goodbye...Clash..." And he reluctantly used a side attack and sent him falling. There was a flash and a massive blast shook the course. Jack and Tinsel looked behind them in horror.

"Wheeler..."

"It can't be..."

Leon and Beastman spoke over the comm, wondering if they were alright. "Tinsel! Jack! Can you guys here me!?"

"Are you two okay!? Do you copy?!"

"Y-yeah..."

"But, Rick..."

Then there was a spark among the thick smoke as the Dragon Bird emerged. He whizzed between them and the others caught up, wondering who made the explosion.

"Rick is here! But that means..." By process of elimination, Tinsel thought it was... "Clash..." Her throat immediately clenched at the thought.

"It cannot...Wheeler, wait!"

He was in first but he slowed after he crossed the line. He parked at the side of the track, and was very upset. "Dammit!" he slammed his fists on the dashboard. "Why...did you have to die..?" his voice was shaking from the drastic decision he made.

Jack and Tinsel rushed to the scene. Without saying a word, they knew. Leon and Beastman arrived soon after.

"It was Dr. Clash, wasn't it?" the dino-dressed pilot concluded. It came as a complete shock that the late engineer was gone. Tinsel just couldn't help but cry, Jack was the only one strong enough to acknowledge.

"Such a deep sacrifice...It's almost inhuman..." the canine sympathized. They escorted Jack, Rick, and Tinsel back to base, never wanting to share their victory.
 

Meanwhile a tear-filled Lucy was watching from the headquarters and they broke the news to her as the trio arrived minutes later. She was cradled by Jack, while Rick couldn't stand her agony on top of his own and his comrades'. He left without a sound, and Tinsel followed suit later. It was as if they were all weighed down by layers of cement.

Alone, and just before she walked up to him, Rick kept contradicting himself. "I never should've won and pushed Clash to his demise... This proves that Jody was right, after all. I am a glory hog. If I hadn't left the Task Force in danger and let myself be controlled by Black Shadow, none of this would've happened." He lamented, "I wish I could go back in time and prevent everything if given the chance."

She reassured, "It wasn't your fault, Rick. You've made a choice. It was either Clash or all of us caught in the crossfire. You said so yourself that Clash was fighting, and that he was too far gone. And he used his last ounce of strength to warn you this was coming. He wanted to sacrifice himself for us, 'cause he didn't want us killed along with him."

"I should've let him win that race..!" His voice rose in self-anger, his fists were tight beneath his red gloves.

"And get away with it?! He knew this was happening, and he was aware of all of it. And so he did what he did. Plus, we all escaped thanks to you. Clash saved you, and he saved us all from that horrible fate."

Rick just wouldn't budge as he sulked more, and tears began to fall from Tinsel's eyes. She began to choke on a sob as she kept trying to get her sorrowful words through. "Rick...Don't blame yourself for this. Stop with your Survivor's Guilt. There was nothing we could've done otherwise. It would've been far worse..." Her body was shaking, and he wrapped an arm around her. They were later in a brief, warm embrace.

During their small funeral, as they were mourning, Dr. Theodore Clash's smiling picture in a frame was at the middle of a counter. It was surrounded by tools and gadgets he made, along with his numerous plaques and awards, and a Task Force band was located in front. There were some leftover flowers surrounding the place setting. Rick was in the center, while Jack was to the left of him, followed by Lucy, and Tinsel was on the right side.

"We must avenge him and honor his loss." he said.

They nodded in confirmation, and began to hold hands as they reflected. They would miss him as he always modified their machines, and the fact he created the Dragon Bird, the Hyper Speeder, and the Silver Comet.

Several hours have passed. Rick eventually found Tinsel inside of the dim lit Task Force garage, sitting idly on her Comet.

"Tinsel..?" She looked up at him with somber, bloodshot eyes. "Are you all right?" He laid a hand on her shoulder.

She sighed, "I think so. I sure am gonna miss him, always. I wonder how we'll manage without him."

He sat beside her and wasn't certain, either. But he had some hope for Lucy, Clank, and some of the friends she found. She was still upset, but somehow, he knew that...

"Rick...we need to leave. Just the two of us; we can't stay here mourning like this..."

"Where should we go?" he wondered.

"...I need to show you someplace. I'm sure you'll find out when we get there. I hope I will get there in time."
 

In the Silver Comet, both Rick and Tinsel went through a warp gate taking them to a distant place in Port Town. It was known as the largest and most advanced space harbor and interstellar trading facility. It was surrounded by mountains and there were some enormous skyscrapers almost as tall as those in Aeropolis. There were also some pyramid-shaped office buildings and immense ROB construction robots operating on two separate buildings.

Despite the congestion, Tinsel took her Comet to a desolated area. Everything was tranquil and dark, so was the sky. The only lights they saw were nothing more than the twinkling stars above.

Rick queried, "This is the place? It's Port Town, but I can hardly see anything."

"Just wait. You'll see soon enough." He obliged and within a few seconds, he saw some distant lights from the city flicker on. Suddenly, the track began to illuminate as the guardrails lit up. He noticed they were smack dab in the middle of a racetrack!

He was skeptical, questioning Tinsel. "Why are we here? Aren't you worried some racer might crash into us?"

"No. It's highly unlikely; for you see, this track was for the Grand Prix 13 years ago. After that, it was closed down. Sometimes, when I need a place to unwind, I go here and gaze at its wondrous glory."

He looked around. "Hm. I could see why. This course must've been nostalgic to you."

"Look up." She pointed at the sky which was covered in so many stars, that there were too many to count. Amazingly, they could see every single one without straining their eyes as there was no light pollution, unlike the cluttered streets below. "Wow... Um, Tinsel, do you mind if you..."

"Oh, certainly." She unlocked the door and both of the pilots climbed out, sat on the roof and their eyes adjusted to its magnificence. The crisp air was also a nice touch.

"Everything is better up here."

"Indeed. This is the only place where it's peaceful and quiet, with little to no traffic, and no light or air pollution. And, we're up really high; no one can sneak up on us. Too bad I couldn't make it in time for the sunset, though." She sulked.

"It's beautiful..." Rick spoke to no one in particular. He closed his eyes and took a deep sigh as he inhaled the fresh updraft. This was definitely a place to relax, and it kind of reminded him of his own time in New York, all the buildings glistening in the distance. "You know this is where Captain Falcon lurks, right?" He asked as he pointed to the tiny islands in a distant body of water.

"I know. But I always come here for this sight alone."

"I cannot recall exactly, and I don't know if this was a dream or not, but...I've seen you here, staring up at the sky. I never realized how important this place was until just now." He faced her and put a comforting hand behind her back. She looked up at him. "Thank you for showing me, Tinsel." He gave a small grin, so did she. His hands moved onto her shoulders, inviting her close to him.

She leaned in and Rick enwrapped her in his warm arms. She respired as she returned the pressure. He continued to caress her, and she whispered, "I'm glad you came. And I don't want you to leave us again...I was so worried."

"I know."

"There's...there's nowhere else I'd want to be at this moment. But here, safe with you." He wouldn't want it any other way. Now that he knew that Haruka and Clash were watching over him, he too felt secure and calm as well. Soon enough, they were sound asleep, together, inside the Comet.

Day broke, and from a large boom, Rick awakened first. He rubbed sand away from his eyes as he sat up. He eventually yawned and stretched out his weary muscles. By the time he heard the impact again, he went on alert. He unlocked the Comet, looked back, and Tinsel barely even noticed. He took out and loaded his Glock as he scouted the perimeter; his instincts told him that Dark Million, and/or Zoda, was up to something here. He wandered around the track, seeing nothing except a few destroyed land mines and magnets.

"We're up really high. No one can sneak up on us." He remembered Tinsel's words; however, he wasn't convinced.
He then saw one of the ginormous robots located at the top of some tall building, like a corporation perhaps. He looked down from the track and to his surprise, it was being infiltrated by Death Soldiers. "What's happening..?" Rick thought aloud.

"It's Black Shadow." A familiar, distinctive voice sounded.

"Captain Falcon." Rick immediately withdrew his ray gun back into his side holster.

"He's here, and he's sabotaging one of the megacorporations. They're the heart of Port Town."

He did NOT like the sound of that. Still, Falcon continued, "There are many soldiers this time, and I don't think the special forces would hold them off. They seem to be outnumbered and overmatched."

"Shouldn't we help them?"

"No. It's far too risky. We must evacuate this planet and regroup where it's safer before they catch onto us. Hurry! Follow me!" The bounty hunter took off.

Rick ran after him, then he hesitated. "Tinsel..!" He went in the opposite direction, heading back to the Comet.

Meanwhile, she shot herself up as she heard some gunfire and shouting below. She noticed she was the only one in her vehicle. Alarmed, she called out, "Rick..? Rick? Where are you? Rick!?" She used the comm frantically and called for him. "Rick, are you there? I'm in my Comet, do you copy? Rick, if you can hear me, please respond!"

"I believe I can answer that, my pretty." Before she had one, she looked up and saw Zoda over her. He silenced her in a moment's pace.

The detective returned, following the signal, only to find her vehicle was empty. "Tinsel..! Tinsel!" There was nothing but the sheer chaos below. "I have to find her; sorry, Falcon." He started up the ignition, thankfully the key was in her seat.

He saw a familiar, dark looking spacecraft docked just a few feet from the building described. He wondered if Tinsel was being held captive there. Seeing this was tricky, he backed up a few feet away, and remembered the ice jets she occasionally uses. He pressed down the button on the handle. A beam shot out and froze a portion of the titanium wall on contact. He rammed in and then ventured through the halls. An alarm was off and he kept bashing through multiple Death Soldiers attempting to shoot it. When he was clear, he began to slow it to a tread. As he neared the top, he heard an echo ricochet off the walls. He realized it was Tinsel's cries.

Apparently, from his point of view after he left the cockpit, she was resisting to drink the black vile that once brainwashed her. A familiar face was there, along with a few cronies.

"That's Zoda..."

Staying alert, he drew his Glock and waited. He saw her get slapped across the face and the canister was being forced to her mouth! Then, she had her hair yanked back as the maniac demanded her to drink it. She managed to see Rick despite the pain. He made some charades, but she barely made them out. The nozzle was dumped as her head was lifted, then some of the toxins poured into her throat; the residue was leaking from her lips.

"Don't swallow it..." he whispered.

Zoda kept forcing her chin up, then her head drooped. "There now. Isn't it easier to just do what we tell you, instead of us harming you and your friends?" Tinsel didn't respond. "Now, answer me, who do you serve?"

"I...must obey...Zoda..." Then her face brightened. "Zoda's enemies!" She spat out the dark liquid, stinging her assailant's eyes.

With strikingly exact precision, Rick was able to shoot each of the soldiers. Those that were standing rushed to him and he fought them off seamlessly. Only his nemesis was left. "Surrender now, Zoda!"

"Wheeler! What a surprise! I s'pose the lousy traitor hasn't slipped through our hands then. Now... Drop it before I blow her brains out!" He drew out his own gun and held it to Tinsel's head. Rick was petrified.

Zoda ordered, "Drop your weapon, Wheeler!"

Luckily, her knees were free, so she kicked him hard and he held his leg in agony, dropping his Glock. Rick discarded his own. "I've been waiting forever for this! Let's settle it once and for all, mono y mono."

"I can't wait another century and a half to kill you, Wheeler! I'll remedy the error I'd made on that night..! You are MINE!"

Rick raised his hands as Zoda ran to him. He blocked the psychopath's blow and retaliated with a punch. It connected and Zoda backed away a few steps, yet still he was on the warpath. Rick avoided some of his blows, until he was hit by his other fist unexpectedly. He was tackled to the ground and they rolled for a few seconds, until Rick was able to kick him off. During the melee, Tinsel cautiously headed out. Only to return with the Comet, she was hoping she'd get an easy target.

It got more intense and they both wore themselves out after about five minutes trying to beat the piss and vinegar out of each other, especially Rick who was panting profusely. He didn't know that his arch nemesis would be so resilient. As soon as his eyes rolled to the side, Zoda managed to retrieve and aim his Glock and Rick's right at him after he made a quick dive and roll.

"Isn't this like deja vu, Wheeler? Black Shadow would thank me royally once I am finished with you. You should never have gotten out of cold sleep alive, and let your hot-blooded hatred drive you astray. I shall now rectify that mistake quickly!"

He pointed the guns directly to his skull, Rick was as cold and unmoving like a real statue. His time to die was here, by this insane monster. "Allow me what I should've done to you...150 years ago!" He shut his eyes and braced for the worst...

A volley of instantaneous freezing ice shot out from the jets of the Comet! As soon as his whole body was rock solid, she declared, "It's time for you to go back to cold sleep. Permanently!" Rick was still stupefied. "Now, Rick! Finish him!"

He did as he stood and carried the heavy alien popsicle, stopping by a pit. Looking at his fearful, gapping mouth, he retorted, "Now look who is afraid, and on the verge of death! You definitely deserve this for all the pain and suffering to me, and everyone I held dear. Zoda?! This 150-year nightmare ends...NOW!" He threw him down 100 feet to his demise. The body just shattered as it hit toward the bottom of the abyss!

Still, he was in total shock from the adrenaline as he gazed. "I...did it. I beat Zoda..."

"No." she clarified. This startled him and then he saw her close behind. "We did it." They held hands and grinned at each other. "Haruka can finally rest now."

He shook his head. "Not yet. We still have Black Shadow and Luna Ryder to deal with."

She held his hands. "Don't let her intimidate you, whatever you do."

"I won't." Those were the same words Haruka said to him while he was under anesthesia, little did Tinsel know.

Suddenly, sawdust rained on her from above, and they felt a murmur. Then, huge chunks of debris started to fall. They noticed the ship was on self-destruct mode!

"Let's go, we gotta get outta here! Come on!" Rick took her hand and led themselves back to the Comet. He immediately unlocked it and she was the first to jump into the cockpit, then he went into the backseat just before it was locked. "Step on it!"

She ignited after it did a 360. The Silver Comet raced within the halls, but a wall of fire was gaining on them! In her perspective, Tinsel thought it was a tsunami made of flames, then she accelerated as much as her machine can muster.

"I got your back!" Rick said over the roar.

Still, the onslaught was on their tails, and the Comet can't hold up forever, especially when it kept crashing into the walls and mines. The alarm sounded as more energy was sacrificed to speed it up. Through the radar the chase was more rampant as the sight darkened. They were just mere inches from it, "It's closing on us!" Tinsel screeched.
Rick volunteered to take the wheel as it took more abuse. He handled it better than she did, but it STILL wasn't enough! Rick didn't give up as he made one last acceleration before they hit a few speed boosts. "Tinsel! We've hit a ramp! Keep your head down!"

And out they went through a window. With his head down, Rick held onto the handle which raised the Comet's nose. Despite the lighter descent, they slammed onto the unforgiving terrain and collided in a nearby rocky dune. The ship exploded and Tinsel eventually caught her breath. She shook the unconscious Rick awake, assuring him they went out alive.

By the time his head was clear enough he still took the wheel, and started up the Comet. Unfortunately, it didn't. None of the lights turned on, and the comm was shot. It didn't even leave a slight murmur when he turned the ignition. From all the damage it endured, they were dead somewhere in the mountainous trail. The energy was completely depleted; they were surprised it never blew up on impact.

"I'm afraid we're stuck here." Rick concluded, Tinsel sulked. "I would like to call in the Dragon Bird, but we're so far away from Mute City."

"How are we supposed to get help? Port Town is in total chaos. It's not safe here."

"Then..." his head lowered. "We have no choice; we're walking from here. We need to get someone to at least give your Comet a jump, or perhaps escort us back."

She couldn't believe what she'd done, leaving her and Rick stranded on an unknown location without any assistance. As the criminals were taking control on one of the mega corporations.

They climbed out and were a few feet away from it, until he saw a glimmer in the dusty distance. From instinct, he drew out his Glock and gave Zoda's to Tinsel. She was very hesitant. "Rick, I never used a firearm before."

Obviously there was not much time to teach her, so he just told her to hold it firmly. He figured the safety was already turned off. As he adjusted his vision, a blue machine whizzed toward them. It immediately stopped and a pilot jumped out. They both gasped on who it was!

"Captain Falcon! Thank goodness!" she cried.

"Are any of you hurt?" he queried.

"No, we're fine." Rick replied. "We managed to escape from Zoda's ship, but the Silver Comet..."

Falcon went passed them and inspected it. He, too, was perplexed that it never exploded since it was so beat and it was completely out of fuel. "Wait here. I'll give the Comet a jump." He drove the Blue Falcon closer and stretched out some of the wires from the hood. He started it and he gave up half of its energy. Luckily, he had a full tank, and the rainbow bar kept dissipating until it reached the red-orange area. After about ten minutes, he offered Rick to activate the doomed craft. It kicked in, however, it sounded a little nosier as it turned.

"It seems the Comet is hanging in there by a thread." Falcon said to Tinsel. "This should only be a temporary fix, at least until we get to Mute City where it's safer."

"Thanks so much; we couldn't have left this place alive without you." she smiled.

He was just as serious as ever, "Still, we have to hurry. Dark Million can find us. Let's go."
 

He immediately entered his vehicle, and she came into hers. Rick was in charge of it, though. The trio headed out of Port Town at last through the closest warp gate the bounty hunter could find. They were thankful that he knew every nook and cranny of that enormous, congested place.

The jolt was just enough to get to headquarters. When the Comet became neutral again, it gave away. There was still some energy left, but it was too beat up to start again. During the night Falcon repaired the critical damage with Clank and Lucy in the garage. It was so extensive, that Tinsel may not compete in the next few races, at least that was what he theorized. Rick and Jack promised to take up the slack, although they were welcome to invite Leon, Beastman, Draq, or Gomar and Shioh in case they needed backup. Of course everyone was aware that Luna and company will be there along with Mr. EAD at the Cosmo Terminal, thanks to Clank's analysis. Fortunately, it wasn't until about a week later, which gave the Task Force some time to mourn over Clash and train. After the young mechanics left, Falcon also wished that the tech geek was here as well, thinking how far they went.

From the original Grand Prix 13 years ago when they first met, to Clash's participation in the X races, to Falcon's brief visit at a distant bar in Mute City with "Iron Silver" where he disguised himself as Famicom, and his time when he saved Clash from Black Shadow's captor. He would definitely be missed dearly forever.

By the time he looked into the Comet's hood again, something glowing caught his eye. It was in a circular container, almost looking like a big Poké Ball. Last time, he didn't notice as he was in a hurry, this time he discovered something peculiar.

"A Reactor Might..?" he was all agog by the sight of it. He was familiar with it, as there was one inside his own vehicle; he never thought Clash's prototype would also have one.

Just out of curiosity, he examined the Elegance Liberty, then the Astro Robin, and lastly the Dragon Bird where there was that same one! He locked his eyes onto it, thinking, Rick Wheeler... He's the one who'll put an end to Black Shadow. He has to help me do this, otherwise...there is no way. If I could just tweak his Dragon Bird, perhaps I'll train him to use it properly. He should do this, no. He MUST do this...

A/N: Please note that Falcon would be from F-Zero GX. This would be completely different from Burt Lemming/Adam Summer. Yes, in GP Legend Falcon is all three of those characters, but to me it's kind of awkward. I want Jody's brother to exist as Burt in disguise, but Falcon will be Douglas Jay Falcon, not Jody's long-lost sibling.

This is obviously a fic revolving around some huge battle, so there's going to be some sacrifices. In this case, unfortunately, Dr. Clash set an explosive by himself on his Crazy Bear if he shouldn't win the race. He committed suicide and never gave Tinsel or Rick a chance to use Stewart's syringe. I was contradicting myself to do this, but it still had to be done. RIP, Theodore. I never wanted Clash to go, even though he was around by the time the anime ended. But...we can't bring back everyone; and I never wanted this to be a one-sided ordeal. So I've decided to use the Dying as Yourself trope.

Also, I really liked the part when Tinsel and Rick visited Port Town when she shown him the astonishing sight as they began to bond with each other. 

The sudden attack on the megacorporation and finding Tinsel as Falcon was leading Rick away was kind of an excerption from Bambi; when he and Faline were separated. I wasn't too crazy about Clash, although he'll be missed as a prestigious mechanic to the Task Force, a valuable friend to Falcon, and the engineer of the Dragon Bird and the Silver Comet. Clash was known to make his own machine, as well as the Dragon Bird, the Dragon Bird EX, and the Hyper Speeder. The Comet was just a bonus. And to make matters better, Rick, along with Tinsel's assistance, have defeated Zoda! Finally! I hope those two deaths kind of balance each other out, somehow.

Yet again, the part where Tinsel and Rick escaped from the self-destructing ship was a reference to the tsunami featured in the DOS game, Undersea Adventure; even though technically speaking it was a wave of fire. This part always scared the crap out of me when I was very young. Also, this could be a reference to the difficult fifth chapter in GX, "Save Jody." Lastly, the relationship with Clash and Lucy kinda reminds me of Cid and Luca from FFIV, mostly The After Years.

So Falcon made an amazing discovery within the Silver Comet and the Dragon Bird. He found a Reactor Might in each machine which was similar to the one in his vehicle. What does this mean? Well, you're going to have to find out later.

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: Rick and company lost Dr. Clash in a fatal crash last Lap. Now, they have a week until the next challenge. What was inside the F-Zero machines that made Falcon so surprised?

Lap 10

So the Task Force heard that Mr. EAD will participate in the next race, amongst other minions from Dark Million, where it's going to be in Cosmo Terminal.

"As an android, he may have the upper hand with all the calculations he would make, taking whichever path is the most effective," Lucy warned.

"Although we must be aware of the lack of guardrails, even if they were daring enough to switch over to another path without falling to their deaths," said Clank.

Fortunately, the gang would have about a week to prepare for the nefarious course, which would give them time to not only train themselves, but also mourn over the death of their fallen, tragic hero, Dr. Theodore Clash. However, things were also turning in their favor since Zoda actually bit the dust as well.

Meanwhile, Captain Falcon discovered two Reactor Mights, one was stored in the Dragon Bird while the other was housed in the Silver Comet. He, too, also had a Reactor Might in his own machine, and he was surprised they were found inside each of Clash's prototype vehicles. Falcon was desperate on re-tuning these two, as using the Mights themselves could make them nearly unstoppable and turn the tides in the war against Black Shadow.

He was incredibly shocked to find out several months ago that the Emperor of Brutality was alive; he saw his so-called death just before he confronted his former master, Deathborn. He hypothesized that his own demise resulted in the resurrection, as well as the loss of the creator spirits since they won't be able to revive their diabolical associate by replacing parts of his body with mechanical ones, which was done three times now.

The last time he saw Black Shadow was during an assignment from Dr. Stewart on saving Theodore Clash. He left the Crazy Bear behind as Zoda captured him. Falcon recognized he was a bounty fugitive and he was later introduced to Rick Wheeler whom he said had a 150-year history with him. He had seen him several times while he raced, and he managed to beat him singlehandedly: from the brief encounter at Planet Nintae, to saving his Dragon Bird from an orphan at Forno. Things have changed this time around as he noticed that Black Shadow had a drastic increase in recruits during the raid at Planet Alcatran. His squad was later known as Dark Million, and aside from Zoda and Blood there were newer, more lethal, troops such as his old rival, Pico; Bio Rex; Octoman; Baba; and recently Miss Killer and the Skull.

It seems the chains of death have been broken over him; now he's causing more havoc across the universe. But...there's still hope. he soliloquized. He closed the hood to the Dragon Bird.

Hearing a noise, someone followed him into the garage. He was a bit uneasy that the mysterious stranger was still in there. "Falcon? You're still here?"

"Ah, yes, Rick. I had just found something peculiar in the Silver Comet."

"Oh? What is it?" he walked closer.

"It has an unusual substance implanted in its body, something very rare. This could be volatile if not used properly.  She has...a Reactor Might."

"Reactor Might? What's that?" he looked perplexed.

"Those cannot be found easily, even with the most advanced technology. They are bursts of energy that were created after the birth of our solar system. According to legend, there are six located throughout, and if they are obtained, they could utilize unsurmountable power. If any of them, or if all six, manage to fall into evil hands, it could mean unexplainable annihilation..."

"And...she has one? And we didn't even know it?"

"It's likely that Dr. Clash knew, but this was only a prototype. So is yours, Rick. We may not know the answers now that he's gone. I, too, have one, as do you."

"What?! But how?!"

"That I can't explain, nor how they were contained. Still...Black Shadow should never obtain these celestial bodies. He already has two of them in his Black Bull. If we can use the remaining Mights to our advantage, we could win this war." He then stared at Rick. "I believe...the tides can turn in our favor."

How is this even possible? I...have a Reactor Might. So does Falcon and Tinsel. What could this mean..?

Before Falcon left, he offered Rick to go with him to Port Town until the next race. The bounty hunter was hesitant 'cause of the mayhem from Dark Million, but he felt he didn't have a choice. "Get some rest. You're going to need it."

Rick watched him climb into the cockpit. "For what?"

"Your training."
 

The next day, Rick informed the group saying that he'll head to Port Town for the week and practice with Falcon.
"Really? Maybe you'll get to learn some of his secrets." Lucy said. "I might be able to spend some time with Leon before the race. I'll just be standing by here, being a prestigious mechanic just how the late doctor was."

"You're a lucky man, Ricky. I can't understand why he would choose you as his personal trainee. You better learn well." Jack mocked.

"I'll do my best, Jack." he responded with a grin.

But that left Tinsel with butterflies in her stomach; she couldn't stand being in the same place as that loudmouthed, cocky bastard.

"Don't worry, Tinsel. I'll be back before you know it. I won't be too long." he assured, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. They even hugged for a short time. He wished he could bring her along, but this was only a session for just him and Falcon.

When he reached the elevator, Clank was standing inside the shaft. "Oh, hey."

"I better get used to being on the 177th floor. Whew, it's extremely high. So, I hear your training with Falcon?"

"Yes, I am." That made the kid hacker beam. "What brings you here?"

"Well, I was hoping I'd check in using your Dragon Bird and see what Falcon has in store. I know this is wrong, but I think we should see what he does, only when he teaches you, of course."

"He's obviously got something up his sleeve. Alright, you have my permission."

"Yeah! Thanks, Rick. We can see you using the Central Computer. We can't wait to watch you and Falcon in action! God speed, champion!" Clank was a bit confused as to why the mysterious pilot would share his strategies only to Rick. What was this thing they had in common, aside from being gifted racers? Although one piece of info was accurate, he does live somewhere in Port Town, rather than Mute City as anyone would commonly believe.

Using the coordinates emitting, he met the Blue Falcon close to the warp gate. "I will escort you to my home, Rick. Keep your eyes open for possible threats."

He nodded, "I will. I always do."

With the iconic machine leading the way toward a desolate harbor, Falcon informed his trainee on a secret that has never been mentioned to anyone else.

Because of his endless success, and since he had so many enemies, the constant dangers forced him to live in a sanctuary on a chain of islands off the coast of Port Town, where he spent most of his time. His desire for solitude is such that even after winning a race, he takes his award and quickly dashes home. Even with a victory earned, he doesn't stay for very long. In fact, only the chance to compete in the F-Zero Grand Prix or getting a high bounty will lure Captain Falcon away from his archipelago fortress. Falcon was the most renowned racer ever and before X started after the Horrific Accident during the seven-year ban, he honed in some underground races; thus that was when the islands came to be.

Huh. No wonder he's very elusive. Rick thought. I bet it's hard to afford all that living space. Why does he always have to work alone?

Each of his home islands contained a different track, allowing him to keep his racing skills at their peak while remaining relatively safe.

"You must never tell anyone about any of this, not even what I'm about to show you."

The fortress itself was actually down a dark alley. He was behind Falcon as they exited their vehicles. A scanner read his identity despite the visor covering half his face. He then faced Rick. "Come." They walked down a dark corridor, Falcon entered an encrypted code, and Rick was greeted by a very bright light. He shielded his eyes, but by the time they adjusted, he was agog at what he saw. Apparently, this was Falcon's garage where it consisted a spacecraft on a giant, white ledge. They drove in and made themselves at home.

"Wow. So this is the expert's own abode. I've never seen anything like it," Rick observed. He gazed upon the long ship with its green wings, narrow roof, and elongated body.

"That's the Falcon Flyer. I only use it for transport across the galaxy when there's no warp gate accessible. It also has a supercomputer and helps track down some opportunities for bounty."

In a distant, massive chamber, the detective saw many upon many awards that went as far back as the F-MAX Grand Prix. The well-lit golden area even had some certificates and plaques for his work in the Intergalactic Police Force a long time ago. Even a small library with encyclopedias highlighting the history, and his personal best times, in the futuristic races.

"Incredible..."

The one thing that really fixed his eyes was a giant belt. Its centerpiece casted his reflection in a translucent, goldenrod hue. He heard about Falcon winning it at the Mute City race last year where he and Tinsel dealt with Black Shadow and Blood Falcon. He hadn't earned anything like this before.

He decided to touch it, and...

There were numerous hallucinations running through his mind!

"Are you ready? Ha ha ha ha ha..." an unusual voice greeted him, and he saw three phantasmal beings fly around in a trippy scene, with two Blue Falcons in the middle of it! One of them looked as if it was an illusion.

"Falcon, shall I tell you something before you die?" He saw an alien of sorts with a large red cape, and purple, metallic armor covering his body. He spoke in a vehement, unnatural tone and he was in a scorching hot, dim lit area where he thought was Hell, complete with lava and a thick, sinister atmosphere. There were also sharp spikes protruding from a course. Two smaller belts were swirling rapidly in the air. 

"Dark and Light, the two great forces which govern our universe. These two universal forces are condensed in each of our belts. Didn't you know? At the moment when the two forces become one, it's possible to seize that power. Then, I can turn this whole galaxy into ashes in an instant!" Despite the startle this caused Rick's head to throb, and he had an electric current run through him. "How I've waited for this moment. The world will fall into total darkness..." He shut his eyes, blocking out the sensation as much as he could.

"I'll keep winning..!" Falcon declared when Deathborn was gone, raising his arms in triumph. He was wearing the merged belt which glowed around his waist.

Rick set his hand away as if it was caught on fire. He was breathing profusely and sweat covered him.

"Rick, are you all right?"

He looked up and saw Falcon meeting him in the doorway. "Falcon... I saw something when I touched that Championship Belt."

"Oh? What did you see?" he asked, curious.

"...I saw you. In some distorted world with three ghosts. There were two Blue Falcons. Then, I was in Hell and saw you with some evil being with absolute power. There were two belts soaring in the air, and... He said something about dark and light, the two forces that control the universe. He said they will eventually become one and he can use that power to incinerate the entire Milky Way instantly! I'm not sure who he is, or where those places were, but I also felt a shock run through my body. Finally, I saw you cheering, and wearing that belt. It must've been very potent. Still, I can't understand why it was there where anyone can win it."

Falcon let the little intrusion slide. It's destiny... He must've been chosen. "Indeed, I was there during those tumultuous times, Rick. I, too, have seen crazy things from that sacred belt. That was how I obtained a Reactor Might, but it was stuck in the middle between Yin and Yang. Those with a pure heart or a dark one, as well as tremendous skill, can utilize it. Being that you have seen me, and dealt with those visions...I believe that only you can prevent Black Shadow from prevailing."

He was nearly speechless after hearing it. "Falcon... Why me? What can I do that no one else can't?"

"Maybe the better question is, why do you think I let you come along? We don't have much time to chat. Are you ready for your training?"

Rick's expression turned from utter shock to seriousness as he nodded. "Let's do it."

On the Falcon's control pad, he set up the simulation. Rick went into his own cockpit and they both saw the white walls transform into a Mute City course complete with guardrails and the starting line; however, it was empty. It only had some dash plates, but no capsules this time. From there, Falcon stated to Rick he must watch him perform a secret technique known as the Booster Fire. He described it as a rapid spin attack while at the same time, the machine gets a drastic increase in speed. Unfortunately, the safety features had to be turned off.

"Wait, what?!" Rick exclaimed. "You're kidding. No safety restraints?!"

"Yes, Rick. Which is why it'll be able to move more freely." Fortunately, the lanes were massive, making it the perfect place for using it. "Watch me closely! Booster...Fire!"

Falcon pulled back the accelerator as much as it could go, allowing his machine to drift faster and harder. The dashboard lit up as bright as a Christmas tree. He spun so blindingly fast, it almost looked as if it was hardly rotating at all. In addition, the Blue Falcon was covered in its own energy in a lethal, cyclonic disc. It cruised further and further away, though Rick was very astonished. He eventually caught up to him. And it was soon his turn as they made one lap.

"This looks very dangerous with or without any safety nets. I guess anything goes when you try to win. I'm not sure if you're either really foolish, or just plain lucky!" He was starting to get more jealous. How was Falcon able to learn this and master it without breaking a single bone?!

"You don't win by being lucky, you win by being bold!"

"You're not bold. You're insane!" Rick said after observing that mind-blowing display.

Falcon just chuckled. "You sure have a lot to learn, novice. You must take chances in order to be the very best. Never let anything hold you back." He nodded, "Now you."

He sure is persistent, Rick noticed. "Alright. Let's do this!" He shut down the auxiliary controls, and his machine became much more harder to handle. It was swerving all over the track, Falcon kept a keen eye on him. His machine fell back, allowing Rick more leverage, and he was struggling to utilize it properly, "This is a lot harder than it looks..!"

"Just keep your Dragon Bird steady. Get used to it, it needs more time to literally open and spread its wings."

By the time, they crossed over the line again, Rick was bravely keeping the maneuvers in check. He had a more firmer grip, and Falcon gave him the signal to do the incredible!

"Now, Rick! Do it! Show me your move!"

He copied each one of Falcon's actions, by pulling back the nozzle and accelerating.

"Booster Fire!"

He ran across a dash plate and the Dragon Bird was in a similar, dazzling field of blazing energy! From the driver's seat, he could hardly see what was ahead as he tried adjusting his eyes through the neon blue flames. The turns were too much, and Rick began to lose control! He found himself colliding onto one side of the course, then the other, and he was helpless as he couldn't stop its path!

"Rick!" The Blue Falcon sped ahead of the demolition which was still moving. He immediately stopped in the center of the course, with the doomed Dragon Bird gradually screeching to a halt. It came to a complete stop, as if he was commanding it to. The craft itself retained its normal appearance, only it was bashed in at a few places.

He ran to the wreck and saw an unconscious pilot. "Rick, Rick!" He tried waking him up, but he only let out a weak moan. His eyes opened and he could barely see him. "...Falcon..." His body became limp, and the bounty hunter lifted him toward his base. Before he shut the system down, he was able to use a grappling hook from his trunk and pulled the Dragon Bird.
 

A few hours later, Rick was placed in an opaque room on a thermal bed. Falcon replaced the cloth on his forehead with a warmer one, and then he gave him a bowl of lukewarm broth. He was able to sip it slowly as it touched his lips. He also gave him a spoonful of honey. Rick's shoulders were bandaged so was his left upper arm. Eventually day turned to night, until he finally came to.

"Falcon..." He noticed he was perched next to his bedside. "I...I failed the Booster Fire..."

"I know. Glad to see you came around. You shouldn't rush yourself on healing, we still have nearly six days left."

He felt so helpless in his own body, barely even moving a limb, or having no sense of feeling. Sometimes he felt like he was being crushed.

"Rest well, Rick. When you're ready, we'll resume tomorrow; you've been through a lot."

It didn't take too long for the injured initiate to dose off.

When Rick examined the hood after a couple days of recuperation, he opened up the canister revealing one Reactor Might; he recalled this astonished even Falcon back at headquarters. He was still wearing the Band-Aids on his shoulders, and his forehead. "This is the Reactor Might."

Falcon nodded. "You have one of them... Clash must've done this for a reason..."

Since then, he knew that Rick was someone profound, so he dedicated him as his first and only promising student.

"Why are you showing me all this? I doubt you have demonstrated your personal turf to someone else. How am I an exception?"

"Tinsel and her Duelist friends, Yugi and Joey made a couple brief visits. Regardless...I've seen you race, Rick. Multiple times, in fact. You truly have the heart and skill of an exceptional F-Zero racer. You seem to have the blood of a champion for a newer generation, even though you came from a far older one."

"New generation? But...I've been asleep for more than 150 years..! How can I possibly make a difference?"

"What matters is what's inside you. What's not significant is when you came from, or what machine is being used to win races. Who and what made the Blue Falcon so fast is actually irrelevant; it only comes from within. As long as the pilot is one with his own machine, nothing else is important. Every one is unique, do not let those other factors enter your mind. It must be clear and sharp, and the heart must be pure to achieve anything."

"Falcon..."

He was more somber. "I can assure you your Dragon Bird can handle it. Trying to make the machine spin with the power of a booster and keeping your speed in corners is difficult. Because of the burden placed on the vehicle itself, it could only be used once per race. Since you only have one Might, it can be used once. It should be operated wisely. For if the Dragon would lose balance, or if it would break down with too much input, your machine will lose control.

"Heed my warning, you and I are not the only ones. I had seen Black Shadow use this technique; only his is the Black Fire, as it has a darker aura than us. It's likely others in Dark Million might have it as well. We must be careful, especially with no safety nets. It sure is risky, though it must be done. I will show you everything I know, so listen well, Rick."

He nodded in determination, "I'm ready when you are...mentor."

After a week of vigorous training, both Rick and Falcon entered together at the Cosmo Terminal, the Trident circuit.

A/N: This might branch out to some side stories. Unfortunately, I haven't come up with anything yet. Also, I want to add the theme of Mute City from the GP Legend game when Falcon trained Rick, very nostalgic. Of course the setting and the track were references to F-Zero GX's first chapter.

The songs "Investigation" and "The Answer is a Mystery" plays here as Rick sees Falcon's trophy trove, examines the Championship Belt, and when Falcon gives a lecture on the Booster Fire.

I'm sure a lot of viewers will be confused with time misplacement, so here's the scoop: the original F-Zero was set in 2560, then there was X which took place seven years later in 2567, then four years later there was GX so it would be in 2561, then Ending it All in 2562. Next, Rick has been awakened from cold sleep after 150 years, but it won't be in 2051, rather in 2412. Which means Rick was involved in races that were toned down after the F-MAX races, hence the Formula One-esque ones. The F-MAX Grand Prix was the predecessor of the F-Zero Grand Prix. Not much is known about these races, only that the races were 200 years (in 2360) before the F-Zero Grand Prix was founded and that the races were very bloody in that time. The F-Max Grand Prix was ended after a huge crash in the finals, when some participants were burned alive. Sterling LaVaughn, aka the Skull, was the prime survivor through mind-bending science and black magic.

I never played Climax, but I should really thank the F-Zero Wiki for all this information, especially for the timeline as well as the Booster Fire. Through research, there are a few forms of it. Some are used in F-Zero Climax, but one is used in the anime.

Regular Boost Fire (Anime) 

In the anime series, Boost Fire is boosting and spinning at the same time. There is no color change to the vehicle's aura. This is possible to stimulate in Climax by spinning then boosting, but it doesn't really do much than a normal boost. 

Black Fire (Anime) 

Black Bull or any other machine with a purple aura, this requires two Reactors in a single machine. It is slightly faster than the original and lasts approximately two seconds longer. Again, this can be stimulated in Climax, but will only prove stylish. 

Full Power Boost Fire (Anime) 

Only available to the Dragon Bird in the anime. Not confirmed for Blue Falcon, this is when Rick literally pulls the lever to the back till it breaks. This is much faster than the Black Fire and this can be activated by one Reactor only. This is applied only once during Lap 51 of the anime series.

In the games...yeah, it does matter what machine you use, whichever has the best stats depending on the player's liking. In the anime, though, it sounds more mystical than that. For the longest time, I've always wondered why Rick was the savior of the galaxy, or how the Reactor Mights were obtained; I suppose they were open-ended questions that can't be answered by actual means. It was so complicated to comprehend, but I think this would explain things much more simpler. That's not to say I hate the Japanese dubs, I just miss the English ones so much and the series will be altered a bit here.

Like I said before, the next Lap or two would branch out to side stories. Stand by for these as I'd eventually come up with a decent plot for each. One would center on Leon and Lucy, while the other goes with Beastman and Bio Rex. See you later.

 

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TheIkranRider

A/N: The Task Force are becoming more desperate for the race in Cosmo Terminal. Would Falcon's training pay off? And what would the team know about the uncovered secrets from him, Leon, and Beastman?

Lap 11

Tinsel was becoming more anxious day by day. Having Jack and Lucy around wasn't the same without Rick. What really was starting to get under her skin was...

"I'm gonna go with Leon." the apprentice said with glee. "He's a really sweet guy, despite his animalistic ways. I don't care what anyone says, doesn't the inside count? What should I wear?"

"Ok, ok, you're in love with Leon, we see that." Jack, the brash home wrecker, replied as he raised his hands.

Oh, great. Now I'm alone with this egotistical, self-diluted, brainless..

Something interrupted Tinsel's self-ranting as the team heard a buzz. From the surveillance, the pilots saw two others approach the main entrance.

"Oh, it's him! It's Leon!" Lucy cried like a schoolgirl as she ran to the elevator.

"And they came, too." Tinsel followed after she saw Beastman and Clank. Jack chased the duo down and the lift descended to the ground floor.

When they saw the trio, Leon made a bow, "Mademoiselle."

"Wow, you are such a hunk, Leon..." she kissed him on the cheek, and he smiled and panted. Jack was a bit disgusted by it, and envious.

"Hey, guys. What's up?" Tinsel said. "Why can't Draq or Gomar and Shioh come along?"

"Oh, the Huckminers won't come 'cause they're still trying to improve on their racing. And Draq is busy with Roger, as usual." the hunter implemented.

"Ah, so it's just you and Clank, then." Tinsel was a bit disappointed that not all her friends would check out the base, but she was hopeful that they'll be able to see the duel between Rick and Falcon if Clank is successful.

"That chamber is like a hacker's playground; I'll see to it that we'll watch the race in no time!" the child prodigy smiled.
Jack objected Beastman's offer, "Hold up, buddy. You're not an elite member yet. We don't allow outsiders here. So do me favor, make like a tree and leave, will ya?"

"Jack! This is no way to treat our guests!" Tinsel retorted.

"Yeah, especially to a cutie." Lucy reiterated.

"Besides, we're accepting Clank, aren't we? So...how is he any different? Don't worry, I found him, I'll keep an eye on him."

"Alright, fine. Perfect. But you better not slip up." he warned.
 

As Leon and Lucy left, the shining star offered the masked man to grab a bite to eat at the Falcon House. Clank accepted while Jack stayed to watch over the fort. There, he explained during their breakfast was served. Tinsel asked, "So tell me, how did you become such a great beast hunter? Because let me tell ya, we have never, ever seen anyone like you in the F-Zero circuit before. Except maybe Falcon."

"You're much like him! Only not with bounty hunting, but with animal hunting." Clank exclaimed. "And you too seem very mysterious with your dinosaur costume. Are you planning to take it off?" Anxious, he even tried to reach for it.

"Ah..."

"Clank!"

"Mind your manners, boy." Burt said. He backed away, then Tinsel queried, "Anyway, did you start when you were very young?" The boss was listening closely while washing dishes.

His name was Christopher Annex and when he was a kid, he had a traumatic childhood experience with gators. On the planet White he was nearly killed by a giant crocodile and was left scarred for life, both physically and emotionally.  His family had always been shrouded with danger, much like Octoman. Thankfully, his world hadn't fallen under war and poverty, unlike Leon's. To hide the shyness that dwelled within him, he donned the "Beastman" persona and created the outfit from a real dinosaur hide to give himself an awe-inspiring figure.

"Wow! You actually still have living, breathing dinosaurs there?! Awesome!" the kid said enthusiastically.

"Yes, although we have to stay alert from any of the vicious carnivores there. The herbivores and omnivores aren't much of a threat." Beastman added.

Tinsel could totally relate to that event as she, too, was stricken with an endless dread after the near-death incident on not crossing the 50-foot gap at White Land. He's been in Planet Alcatran before, and he understood her fear entirely. As his trauma was done by a crocodile. "If I could somehow overcome that fear, I may lose this dino façade. But how I became the galaxy's best beast warrior is simple enough."

He was also a soldier and his deadly sharpshooting skills and aggressive tendencies made him feared by the beasts he hunted. His occupation made him quite popular and a hero to many people. Once he had eliminated all of the dangerous creatures from his home world, he decided to enter the F-Zero X Grand Prix to promote himself for anybody wishing to employ his services. He couldn't thank the late Dr. Clash enough for converting an old piece of military machinery into the prized Hyper Speeder. It was during his first year of racing that he met Bio Rex, a new competitor designed by the Keerlon Corporation. Chris had since continued to compete in both the X and GX Grand Prix with a vow to protect the other pilots and crowd from Bio Rex in case the creature ever decided to go rogue. Of course, he became a deadly foe as he later found out that he was one of the cronies, albeit low ones, in the Dark Million organization.

At one point, he stated to Mr. Zero that he wanted to make a helmet out of Bio Rex as a reward. Even though he had sworn to this day to defend everyone from Bio Rex's wrath if he should go wild, Beastman still wanted to put him into extinction.

"The Hyper Speeder and I are a really unbeatable team! And both F-Zero racing and beast hunting require dedication; a moment's hesitation could mean the difference between life and death."

"Maybe you should join us in the Mobile Task Force. You're so devoted." Tinsel said.

He did, but he declined as they only wanted to win prize money from Dark Million's clutches; however, since Octoman and Bio Rex are a part of it, he now wished to assist the Galaxy Platoon indirectly. He did appreciate Baba being wiped out back at the Big Blue race. He first found out about Bio Rex while on his home planet, as a very aggressive beast, especially to humans and mammoths. He turned to Tinsel. "Remember when I helped you out at Green Plant? That's why I'm here." She couldn't be anymore grateful for that.

Thanks to the data provided by Clank, Bio Rex was designed by the Keerlon Corporation like Chris mentioned. It's the result of genetic mutation that was banned on Earth centuries ago. "Geez, didn't we learn anything from Jurassic Park?" he sighed. The monster was created from the DNA of a fossilized dinosaur egg, but altered to have human-like intelligence and strength with that from enhanced steroids. He was actually arrested once by Captain Falcon at the time of the first F-Zero Grand Prix.

"That bastard!" Beastman clenched his fists. "How can anyone escape from him?! I swear I'll be the one to put an end to him. Mark my words. I may have plans to capture Octoman, as well."

This made Tinsel uneasy with him. "He's only been misunderstood. He's just doing this to save his home world, Takora. They're not as lucky as you, Chris. Octoman and his family have always been hunted, both by predators and even the Federation. He just needs some help."

On the subject of the X Grand Prix, that was also where he first encountered Leon, and he had mixed feelings about him. However, he later didn't have a desire on abducting him, as he's considered to be a tame, warmhearted creature.

"Whew. That's a relief. He happens to be a very good friend of mine."

"And he helped Tinsel save Rick." Clank said.

"He, too, loves Lucy and he was an excellent busboy." Burt stated. "I would love to employ him again if he wasn't so busy in Zou all the time."

"Alright, you got me." the hunting hero bashfully surrendered. "But, I have to wonder...what does he do there?" The guys and the gal told him everything.
 

Meanwhile, Lucy and Leon were walking down the side roads. Because of their charm and tenderheartedness, they were close. Out of all the citizens in Mute City she was the one that gave him the upmost respect, followed by Burt as he gave him a job, Tinsel next, then Rick. Most of the inhabitants were giving them some stares and comments behind their backs because of the interracial couple, despite the diversity of all of the lifeforms across the universe. Still, the coyote and caretaker greatly supported each other.

Leon told Lucy that he was first introduced to F-Zero during the X competition, much like Beastman, Octoman, and many others. He was treated unfairly by the other pilots due to his appearance; however, he still felt motivated as he held a promise to assist his planet, Zou, from poverty. In his downtime, for extra money, he became a busman for the Falcon House. He was also a soccer coach for the children, and the head of an orphanage; coincidentally, he was one himself. He then told Lucy on when he met Tinsel, and how she wanted to help out his predicament.
 

At the same spot where Rick and Haruka sat 150 years ago, Lucy and Leon had a table looking toward the city. She said, "You're a good dog, Leon. And you don't have to feel embarrassed on loving me; you have every right to." They even leaned in for a kiss, though he playfully licked her instead. She could do nothing but giggle the whole way through.

Back at the Falcon House, Clank's tablet was going through a disturbance. The screen went blank for a few seconds, then revealed a blurry image of a fat F-Zero machine with points protruding from it. "Hey, guys. I see something." Upon closer examination, he assumed it was, "The Black Bull? Black Shadow?!"

"What?!" Tinsel stormed over to him. Then, as the portable returned to normal, schematics came up.

"No, it isn't. It's something named...the Big Fang. A machine made by the Keerlon Corp."

"Bio Rex!" Chris grumbled. He ran out of the diner as fast as greased lightning. "Chris, wait!" Tinsel went after him, then she looked back. "Clank, stay here." The boy nodded in astonishment.

"Chris, let me go with you! I owe you that much after you saved me from him at Green Plant. He's too dangerous to take on by yourself."

Beastman accepted. "Sure, Tinsel."

"What's he doing in Mute City?"

"I don't know. But, I have to stop him!" The hatch closed shut and he was off.

"Wait for me!" The Comet started up and followed the Hyper Speeder as it pursued the army green, muscular machine.

Chris described, "The Big Fang hits like a tank. So it won't be easy." He recalled it was designed to have a high top speed and a tight grip, making it fit well with the pilot's aggressiveness. It's exterior was as hard as titanium steel, though it can make a slow crawl before it reaches its maximum acceleration.

By process of elimination, Tinsel decided to call Gomar and Shioh as their last hope to assist Beastman on bringing Bio Rex to custody. The Big Fang was on the chase before it was able to reach Lucy and Leon. They only saw it whiz passed them, with the Sharpedo-esque hover car nearing its crosshairs. Chris was closing in at the crowded streets, as he was creating a path of mayhem and destruction. Both pedestrians and objects were at its deadly mercy! People were gasping and yelping everywhere. Though, the clustered roads were no place for a battlefield.

"We'll never catch him. Not here!" Tinsel worried.

"Goddamn you..! I won't let you cause anymore harm!" Chris almost shouted his lungs out.

In the distance, the Twin Noritta hardly cut Rex off, as did the Astro Robin. His savage reflexes caused him to swerve and hit the foundation of a building with numerous glass windows. The shards rained down on it, but the Fang still pressed on.

"Jack! I thought you were at headquarters." Tinsel talked over the chaos through the communicator.

"Lucy and Leon just showed up. I don't want to miss on the action!"

"We're here too, Tinsel!" the extraterrestrials chorused next to their ally.

She beamed, "Ok, let's stick to it, then!"

The Twin Noritta was weak as a Styrofoam cup but light, making it a nice distraction; so was the Comet. The Hyper Speeder had better cornering, but a slightly punier body. He was prone to being wrecked as was the dual-driven craft, but they never gave up that easily. And the Astro Robin had just enough velocity, but had decent strength as it continually clashed with the monster! Reckless Rex eventually had enough, snorted in rage, and made a detour as he did a hard right.

"He's heading for the freeway!" Chris saw on the scrolling map on his dashboard.

"Better than being on the streets!" Tinsel said in relief. She was the fastest to keep up with the brute and distracted him with a side attack. That only left a blemish, and he retaliated grinding the Comet into a metallic rail. "Ahh! He's crushing me! I hadn't gotten it fully repaired yet!"

"Tinsel..." Chris' mind flashed back to the first Grand Prix race since the Task Force went missing. "Of course." He used the same tactic he did before while he made a spin attack at the Big Fang's rear. It was enough to clip it and Bio Rex lost control. "Everyone! Brace yourselves!" Luckily the Robin had tolerable turning to avoid the catastrophe. It rotated faster until it slammed onto a guardrail on the opposing side.

The crash catapulted Bio Rex about three feet into the air. Gomar and Shioh caught the lizard and he went berserk as he bashed the glass. They hit the breaks tossing him next to a nearby truck. The runaway craft crashed into the corner of it, making the shaft tip over. Little did the onlookers, or the Cretaceous creature, knew it was filled with manure!

His snout immediately burst out before he roared. He lost his balance and fell into the 300-pound pile of poop. "Manure! I hate MANURE!"

The pilots couldn't help but laugh at that! Although Beastman was able to compose himself as he harnessed his long-awaited captive. He had his jaws in a nozzle, Tased, then was cuffed and thrown into the cargo area behind the cockpit of the Hyper Speeder. "Great. Now it's gonna smell like shi-short, predator carcasses."

"What should we do with that?" Tinsel indicated the Big Fang after she recovered. Chris suggested that instead of being blown up, like Jack recommended, it'll be used for spare parts.

"Look, I gotta go somewhere to apprehend this Jurassic jerk."

"There's a jail not too far from here, Beasty. You should take him there. Although, the cell's gonna stink to high heaven, and Rex may get dangerous if he has to be hosed down." he offered.

"Hurry back for the race!" she said over the Speeder's engine.

"Thanks, guys, I'll be back in a jiffy!" The machine sped off, and Chris couldn't feel anymore excited now that Rex has reeked the prison. The correction officers would have a field day with this one, he thought.
 

By the time the Cosmo Terminal competition was a day away, Clank was hogging the Central Computer. He was hacking and typing his fingers off until he eventually saw a cockpit view from the Dragon Bird. Rick was just about to begin a duel between him and Falcon on a Port Town course with multiple dash plates and jumps; even a more dramatic one was up ahead. According to the intel, it was known as the Aero Dive and it was only a simulation. Clank contacted Rick and he was looking forward for them to watch.

"I'm in position, Clank! Ready when you are."

"Geez, what happened?!" he saw the thick bandage on his forehead.

"Never mind that. There was just an accident while I was practicing with Falcon; it's pretty common. I mean you could tell he's the best. Where are you, anyway?"

"I'm at headquarters. I'm using the Central Computer so we can watch you. This is the last day before the Cosmo Terminal race."

"Yes, it is."

"Rick, let's go. We need to do this."

"Right. I'm on it, Falcon." He was waiting patiently inside his.

The starting gate was activated and the fences holding the machines lowered. The countdown commenced and Clank was just as jittery as the trainee was. "Guys, hurry up! Rick is gonna start the race against Falcon!"

"Easy, mate." Jack said.

"Yeah. we're here." Lucy and Leon approached the gigantic screen. "Give Falcon everything you got!" said the bipedal beast.

All of Tinsel's friends, but Draq, Joey, and Yugi, were there. The gentle giant was on a delivery with Roger, while the young Duelists were facing some threat that went as far back as 10,000 years.

The signal went off, and the Dragon Bird was very close to the Blue Falcon.

"You won't be able to beat me, Rick. This is my turf." the captain challenged.

"We'll see about that!" his disciple talked back.

At first they were fighting over the dash plates, and the jumps kept making them feel more giddy. Then they went to an incline and three more plates greeted the pair just before the awesome leap. They felt they were soaring like the birds of prey, but it only lasted for a couple seconds. Next came more hops, a sharp left turn, and two more dashes.
Finally, there was a pit area to the left and a couple speed boosts to the right before the finish line. On the second lap, it was definitely an exhilarating stretch as one was using them, while the other boosted just to get ahead. It was rinse and repeat till they entered the goal.

"Alright, Rick. Final lap! Show me what your Dragon Bird can do!"

Rick was hesitant as he recollected the incident that happened almost five days ago; he wasn't sure if he was ready to use the Booster Fire now.

Meanwhile, the pilots at headquarters were anxious. "What does he mean?" Tinsel queried.

"What's he waiting for?" Leon growled.

"What does Falcon have in mind?" Chris wondered.

"Whatever it is... It should explain why he's an unbeatable racer." Gomar and Shioh chimed in.

"Look! Something's happened to the Blue Falcon!" Clank pointed out. They all had their eyes glued straight at the screen, watching the machine glow as if a Pokémon was evolving. Energy was building up, and it began to spin as fast as a tornado! They could barely hear the scream from the neighboring opponent, "Booster Fire!"

"W-what's going on?" Lucy asked, amazed at the stunning sight. No one had ever seen anything like it, let alone Falcon's vehicle.

"What's it doing?!" Tinsel added.

"Wheeler, this must be Falcon's secret move! Watch out!" Jack mentioned. "Rick? Rick!"

"His comm's turned off, but we can still see him." the hacker explained.

They were miles from the home front and Rick just kept seeing his rival take the upper hand. He finally casted his doubts aside. "It's time now. Here I come, Falcon." The dashboard brightened, nearly blinding the watchers' eyes. "Booster...Fire!" He pulled the nozzle back as far as it could, rotating the Dragon in an alarming rate! He held the wheel tightly as he managed to catch up to the bounty hunter on the straightaway.

He looked behind and saw his opponent. "Rick!" On the right, he ran over the dash plates, while Rick was on the pit area to the left. They were neck-to-neck until-

The screen went into static, making the pilots edgy and confused. They were outraged at the sudden malfunction. But outside, the winner was...

"NO WAY!" Falcon was frantic that his one true match managed to beat him! Rick was successful on performing the Booster Fire, but the spectators didn't know what that amazing technique was. The resolution returned to normal, and they only saw two idle machines, making them have a constant debate on who won.

Since the Dragon Bird had a higher boost rate than Falcon's by just one level alone, he was able to accomplish the race just mere seconds before him. Needless to say, Falcon was incredibly shocked that his own Booster Fire wasn't enough to complete it in time, and the fact that he had hardly lost one. Let alone on his personal, private domain.

Rick tried to block out as much of the dizziness as his poor head could. He momentarily saw his mentor standing over him and soon grabbed his hand. With a grin, the bounty hunter advised him to watch his boost times if he should use it again. Particularly in the Cosmo Terminal.

The Dragon's comm started to chirp. Rick ran to it and called for Clank. The foggy monitor cleared, revealing the kid's disturbed face. "Uh, Rick? Who won? We were arguing about it. Who won this race?!"

He saw everyone waiting in anticipation. All he did was just smile. "I did."

"WHAT?!"

"You...beat Falcon?!" Jack cheered.

"How's that even possible? What did you do?" Lucy asked over the commotion.

"Well, Falcon taught me a special technique. The Booster Fire." he said with glee.

"What's...that?" Tinsel was at a loss for words. "I've...never heard of it."

"I'll explain more later. We must prepare for the upcoming race at the Cosmo Terminal. I'll tell you once I leave Port Town."

"I still can't believe you were able to best Falcon! No one is any faster than him!" Leon was near hysterics.

"But I am." Rick pointed to himself proudly. Then, his face glowed both internally and externally as the simulation ended. He and Falcon were back in the garage again. He looked around for a brief while and ended the call, "We're inside Falcon's base again, Rick out."

Knowing this was secret territory, even the kid shut down the program. He slumped onto the seat. "Wow...That was fun!"

"Yeah, it was Clank!" the Comet driver said.

"Rick won...He must be the new champion!" the Furikake aliens spoke in unison.

"That guy's got a lot of spunk." Chris said.

"That's Ricky for ya!" Jack boasted.

"We can win the next race, for sure." Lucy admired.

"You're not too far off. Tomorrow, Cosmo Terminal will be very interesting." Clank analyzed the roster: The following machines that'll enter would be the Dragon Bird, the Blue Falcon, the Deep Claw, the Moon Shadow, the Red Gazelle, and even an interesting craft known as the Crushing Quasar.

"Since EAD is going to be a part of this, shouldn't Kate get in?" Tinsel asked.

"I don't see why not. I hope it's not too late for her to join." Clank really approved this. He had found out thanks to Rick and Tinsel that Kate and EAD developed a relationship after he saved her life from Black Shadow's evildoing.

"But why would Octoman compete? Unless..." Beastman lost his wording.

"He may still work for Dark Million." Lucy concluded.

"That sneaky cephalopod! After all I've done for him!" Tinsel hyperventilated.

Leon stepped closer and held her steady. "Relax! I'm sure he'll be on our side. We don't know if he's with Black Shadow yet. We just presumed he would."

"Damn, if only I could register if my Comet wasn't so banged up."

"I'm certain Rick and the others will put a stop to him if he should get crafty. Calm down." the carrot-top pacifist assured.

She took a deep exhale. "Alright. But he better wipe him out with this Booster Fire if he does; I don't sponsor traitors."

"We all need to cool our jets. Let's practice at the training ground for tomorrow. We need to make sure our skills are topnotch." Chris recommended.

"Clash would've wanted it." Lucy said, making the posse cheer for him.

The team eventually decided that Lucy, Leon, Jack, the Huckminers, Clank and Tinsel will stay behind. They needed as many strong, seasoned drivers as they could find.

A/N: With the concept of Chessmasters, I'm guessing that Black Shadow is the evil manipulator, while Falcon is the mysterious elusive from the opposing side. The metal cover of Big Blue by RichaadEB will play during the chase between Beastman and Bio Rex. Port Town's Aero Dive is one of my favorite courses, next to the original. No wonder it made a cameo appearance as a stage in SSB; now if only Smash would have more reps from F-Zero, especially Rick!

Listen Nintendo, you have Namco, Bandai, and Sakurai by your side. And Ryu from Street Fighter was already chosen as a competitor via DLC, so what the hell are you waiting for?!

What I did here was something called a gaiden, a Japanese term meaning side story or subplot. It's very popular from works made in Japan, especially with anime, manga, and games. They're usually told from a different character's perspective, mostly through flashbacks, minus the main protagonists. In this case, it was about Leon and Beastman, without Rick and Falcon.

So Rick learned the Booster Fire and was successful on using it, but would it be enough for the tumultuous race in Cosmo Terminal, especially against Dark Million and their formidable recruit, EAD? Find out next time, futuristic racing fans!

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TheIkranRider

Lap 12

After a week of vigorous training, both Rick and Falcon entered together at the Cosmo Terminal, Trident. From the registration, Miss Killer was there, along with EAD and Chris. Also a mysterious machine that looked sleek with a red and yellow design and a O1 numeral entered the fray. The detective looked at each of his opponents with caution. The other machine, the Crushing Quasar, looked very similar to the Great Star, only having a black look with multiple white specs on its body. Clank went over the altered stats on the contraption: the Quasar had the grades BAD, instead of the usual EAD, making its body strength very lethal. In fact, he could've sworn it was similar to the Black Bull.

So, that's what Black Shadow did to EAD's vehicle. Just like the Dark Star Dragon... he thought.

Feeling a hard hand on his shoulder, Rick snapped out of his reverie. "Oh, Falcon."

"We need to prepare for the race; do not let your training be in vain. It's known to be one of the most difficult due to the lack of guardrails. There are also multiple lanes which would give our enemies a chance to pass us. If not, destroy us. We mustn't fall off and it's vital to stay alert at all times, no matter what happens. The F-Zero Committee didn't put this on the legendary Diamond Cup for nothing."

This mechanical course was surrounded by hi-tech elevators which tied to the abyss. It was considered as the new method of transportation where it substituted the track elevator. The construction had reached a height of almost 50,000 miles, but because the budget was skyrocketing, the building process had it very rough. As such, the F-Zero Execution Project created this particular circuit inside the elevator itself.

Rick hadn't been in this much awe since he was in Aeropolis. The tracks were getting more serious and technologically advanced than the last. "They're getting really tumultuous now."

"No doubt." Falcon added.

"I suppose you all need a helping hand."

"No, we're fine. This course isn't for the young at heart and-Kate!" Rick was astonished to see her here. She made her usual pose behind the duo; they never even noticed her being in the roster, not even the Super Piranha. "What're you doing here?"

With a big smile she explained, "Why do you think, Rick? I'm here because I've heard that EAD is participating. I'd rather give up a thousand concerts to see him. Besides, I owe him that much after he saved my life and for visiting most of my gigs." Then her heart skipped a beat. "Is that...Captain Falcon..?"

He nodded, as bleak as ever. "The very same. We can't let Dark Million prevail. Especially since they have the Task Force under their wing."

"Your friends are a part of this?" she asked alarmed. "Even EAD?"

"Yes, Kate. He, Jody, Tanaka, and the doctor are still brainwashed by Black Shadow; Tinsel and her friends were able to save the lot of us."

Her face dropped. "Rick..."

He stepped closer to the songstress. "Kate, are you sure you still want to race with us?"

She paused for a few moments. She did have a lot of courage and a strong reason for showing up at the last minute. "I will. For the fate of EAD. I'm sure my Super Piranha would do well since it has the same stats as the legendary Blue Falcon." That made the bounty hunter blush a little. "Alright, Rick, I'll do it. I know you two will look out for me."

He grinned. "That's our job, Kate. We always will." he said, putting her mind at ease. Kate Alen would have to enroll since EAD was a valuable friend to her, if not the only one.

I hope the Booster Fire would pay off. Rick thought with a heavy doubt. Then, there was the signal and the exhilarating competition began as each pilot put their pedals to the metal.

There were three pathways and they overlapped a lot on this course. They always went up, down, and around the center path, which was a safe haven, along with numerous dash plates and pit areas across the track. There was also a long jump, and pilots could see the enormous elevator in the distance operating to the right.

This was built for true elites, something that literally separated the men from the boys, as several of the competitors were falling off left to right. It was mostly either due to accidentally falling off, or just constantly shifting from path to path. EAD never seemed to have a problem with it, as Lucy had predicted. Only seven cars were remaining by the final lap as they kept their cool and focused entirely on survival of the fittest.

At one time Rick was unfortunate ending up at the same lane as Miss Killer when she approached him.

Chris warned, "Rick, Luna Ryder is on to you! Be careful!"

She managed to push him off course, but luckily he was saved by an oncoming path beneath him. Out of nowhere, the Deep Claw boosted into Miss Killer and distracted her by an endless barrage of bashing, until Rick was lagging behind.

"Octoman. You sly devil!"

"I think I'll keep you octo-pied for a while, Miss Killer." he sneered. He continued on his annoyance.

"Keep ME octo-pied?! Why? Don't tell me you've turned traitor and decided to help them, did you?!" she said scornfully.

"Hell has no fury for you, Luna. That is what I'm doing! And I'm only helping out to return a favor to a special friend."

She automatically figured it out as quick as altering from road to road. "Tinsel... She convinced you to disobey orders and run away like a foolish coward!"

"I'm not running away, am I? Not anymore, I have my home planet and my family to save! What would Dark Million do for the likes of me?!" Obviously, this was the first and only chance to redeem himself; maybe then the Federation would get off his six.

They were at a tagging match. In a desperate attempt to catch up, while his lethal enemy was busy, Rick did the incredible stunt once more. "It's go time. Booster Fire!" He remembered the warning from Falcon on watching his acceleration timing. He caught up to the Crushing Quasar and Falcon never made a move. But...someone else did.

Luna made a quick glance and then a sinister move. "Moon Fire!" The Moon Shadow was engulfed in flames as dark as fuchsia could get. Octoman was lucky he was behind her as she cruised passed him in an instant! She was heading directly toward her target, the Dragon Bird!

Through the rapid-spinning vortex, Rick saw another cyclone in a violet hue head straight for him. "Ah, no way!" Alarmed and nearly petrified he saw the death trap speed up. How is this possible?!

"Rick, you must watch out! Focus on surviving the race! I've warned you someone other than Black Shadow is likely to use it!" Falcon announced in the comm.

"Th-this can't be..!"

"Hurry! Evacuate to the other lane!" He did just that before Luna Ryder made her mark on him! His machine almost lost its balance, and the two volatilities ended.

"Looks like I've met your match, Rick! Because of your treachery, you will perish!" she threatened.

"Miss Killer!"

"I owe it all to you, my love. As does Mr. BAD." On the third separate lane not much was seen through the black tainted windows, except his body giving out a shocking light blue tinge. He still had the wide load appearance, only he was completely shrouded in darkness. There were also some creepy outlines of turquoise surrounding him, and they were pulsating like veins. A sharp-pointed S shape replaced the Star on his belt. It almost looked as if he was glowing that same eerie light, even his eyes replicated that aura! He had on such a sinister expression, that he was sneering with his razor teeth always grinding. Because of BAD's programming on destroying all the pilots, including ones in the Task Force, his recklessness caused him, and the Quasar, to fall off!

"No! EAD!" Kate saw the fiasco just a few feet behind. She hardly observed it was caught by something after it fell for several miles. Falcon noticed the rash robot, so he immediately punched around the dashboard, and have him be saved by the Falcon Flyer! The maw opened as it brought in the Crushing Quasar, almost looked as if it ate it.

The Deep Claw caught up to Miss Killer. With a sudden nudge after he switched lanes, the mistress nearly fell, putting Rick in a state of panic, "H-Haruka!"

"Rick, concentrate! You got the homestretch ahead of you! Only worry about the race!"

"Falcon, I can't let her die like this!"

"Then, do you want to take her place instead?!" That shut his mouth by force. "Do not fret; we're at the finish line now."

Although, thanks to Octoman's sudden support, Captain Falcon won first, while the Dragon Bird went in second, and the Gazelle was in third. The audience roared wild with a standing ovation!

"I can hardly put this mind-blowing victory into words! The top five have achieved the quarterfinals!" Mr. Zero spoke over the calamity. "Captain Falcon takes the lead, with Rick Wheeler, and the Mighty Gazelle very close! The Moon Shadow and Hyper Speeder barely qualified. What a rush!"

"The Mighty Gazelle... Who is he?" Rick never heard of such a competitor this generic before. He was taken aback by the unusual title. But it wasn't long until Falcon explained once the aggressive race ended. "What do you know of him?"

"He's one of the bravest, and the most unique racers in the circuit." Falcon explained everything, coming back to the original Grand Prix 13 years ago:

The Mighty Gazelle was named Roy Hughes, and he used to be human. He was the late father of Clank, and he once worked within the Galaxy Police. He was very exceptional in his field, and he was also into F-Zero racing after being intrigued from the video games he purchased for his kid. He had most of his body replaced after the Horrific Accident. Like Jody, he was half-human, half-cyborg. During his hospitalization, his wife was incredibly terrified from what he became, as there was hardly any of him left. Because of the divorce, and the fact he couldn't visit to see his son anymore, his life was nearly meaningless, until the X Grand Prix was close at hand. 

The Mighty Gazelle was no longer afraid on taking chances on the track; not even another severe crash would stop him. He soon met Jody's long-lost brother, Andy Summer. Since then, they became close partners until his death during a shootout against Zoda. Then there was his own demise at Planet Forno in an infiltration of a space pirate transport run by that same maniacal monster. 

Falcon first saw him emerge from a dark chamber.

"Run!" he persuaded him.

"Hey, you're Captain Falcon..." Roy was a man in his mid-thirties. He had brown skin, short, fuzzy, black hair, and a light mustache having a few grey hairs. He was wearing a tan overcoat as well.

"I didn't know you were still working undercover." Falcon said, making his occupant perplexed.

"I never met you. How could you know me?" He never had a chance to realize it was his old friend in disguise.

"Well, well, well." A screechy voice belonged to Zoda who leapt off the balcony. He confronted the man who just entered the main deck. "I'm disappointed in you, Roy. You had me completely fooled, but now I know you're a Galaxy Police spy!"

He immediately tackled him down to the ground, though Zoda never flinched. He just kept laughing at him.

"Roy, no!" Falcon shouted.

"Run, Falcon! Go for help! I'll keep-Agh!" Roy was shot by a loaded pistol equipped with a silencer. His chest began to bleed onto the dark purple tile floor, and he barely even moved.

Zoda aimed it directly in the bounty hunter's direction, "You're next Captain Falcon! This is why you should never try to be a hero."

"Go. Get outta here!" Roy struggled as he held down a button to a small remote, causing a sudden explosion that shook the hideout.

"My transport!" Zoda screamed. Roy managed to sacrifice his life as Falcon hurriedly escaped from the carnage! He never saw him ever again, even though Zoda undoubtedly got away with it.


Falcon heard some rumors circling around about Roy's condition. Only his cerebellum was the one thing that remained intact. He became a full-fledged robot for life and has been attempting to stay mobile and active during the F-Zero competitions, rather than resort to working at the Galactic Federation. Thus, this was when he earned the nickname the Mighty Gazelle. Little did Roy know that his son was involved in the war against Dark Million.

Rick was fascinated from the intel he attained all those years ago; he hoped that Clank would find the answers eventually and realize that his father is still alive, albeit not having the same appearance and motor skills. He then gazed upon his machine, the Red Gazelle. It was presumed that it looked similar to a wild gazelle leaping through the savannah. The body was definitely on the weak side, but it was no issue for him, as he's always risky. It did make up for it in spades with its incredible speed and average handling.

Falcon mentioned he may want to take on disaster rescue one day because of his unwavering heroism and courage.

Kate stormed in to the hangout. "Falcon! What was that thing that caught EAD?"

"It's my starship, the Falcon Flyer. It's a spacecraft designed for interplanetary travel. I just remotely summoned it to catch the machine he was in. He should be safe, but also shut down. From the impact, he may be unconscious right now."

She begged, "Falcon, please. I have to see EAD to make sure he's alright."

"I'll go with you. Can it hold more than two machines and passengers?" Rick asked.

"Of course. Follow me."

"What about the Gazelle?" he queried.

"We'll worry about him later. We could always contact him through the Federation." the champion assured.

Meanwhile. the appliance saw the group leave as he listened in on their predicament. At first, he just saw Dark Million's minions, and Black Shadow, as just mere opponents; however, since he heard they're up to no good, he'll do whatever it takes to protect Clank.
 

Inside the control chamber, Falcon led Rick, Kate, and Chris back to Earth. With the current threshold of the thrusters, they could make it within less than an hour. While she was watching over him, she became more anxious as she saw the comatose android still trapped inside the Quasar.

He abruptly came to, but he was not himself. His eyes ignited with that fiery turquoise color again and he burst out of the machine, putting the black vocalist in a state of terror. Hearing the scream, Rick, Beastman, and Falcon stormed to her side as he was climbing out.

"The syringe. We need the syringe!" Rick startled. Falcon ran to get the formula from the Dragon Bird's glove compartment, after he tossed him the key.

What the terrified pilots never knew was that Mr. BAD had an arm cannon at his right limb. It made a sound as the beam was charging up. He aimed the weapon straight to Kate, but Rick tackled her out of the way just before he made a clear shot! He immediately took out his ray gun, and the bullet ricocheted off his bulky figure. He fixed his eyes upon the nimble detective as he dodged every one of his attacks. The bullet holes left some type of little blue flame which dissipated after a couple seconds.

"EAD! What the hell are you doing?!" he cried, trying to talk some sense into the berserk bot. There was no response. Instead he kept at his assault. The phaser charged again, and someone took the blow! "Falcon!"

The wound pierced his left leg, luckily the small flame was put out after he knelt in pain. "No... You won't finish him off, EAD! Not unless you go through me!" Rick drew out his Glock again.

He braced himself for the worst, and Kate was still dead in her tracks. Then, the cyborg was able to hold him back. It was the Mighty Gazelle! He lifted him up with all the strength he could muster. EAD kept wriggling from his firm hold, until he threw him clear across the room. EAD's fat, Phazon-like exterior hit the wall, sparks flew from him, and down he went like a ton of bricks.

"Gazelle." Rick was impressed from that valiant deed after he unshielded his eyes.

"You should be safe now, Rick Wheeler. You, too, Falcon."

"Thanks, we appreciate that." The fallen pilot grimaced in pain as Beastman was trying to carry him to the sick bay.

"But...EAD." Kate had a loss for words, still shaken up.

"His memory chip has been corrupted by Black Shadow." the former Roy stated after he scanned him. "Codes need to be cleansed."

"But, will that erase his memory?" Rick worried.

"It may be possible. The Emperor of Brutality has done quite a doozy on him."

"Ergh, Rick." He noticed Falcon's arm was sloping over Chris' shoulder. "Take this." From his free hand, he gave him the syringe with the sharp needle protected, as well as the key to the Dragon Bird. "You know what to do."

"I know, but I think I'll leave it up to Rodney on this one."
 

With the tainted data still inside him, the doc was EAD's only hope to restore his normal self. Full of doubt and uncertainty, Tinsel called Rodney saying they'll stop by the hospital as soon as possible. From the urgency in her voice, he knew it was an emergency. They showed up about ten minutes later, and Rick was by his side when they arrived next to the dormant android. Falcon was recovering in Port Town, and Beastman decided to wait it out with the other pilots somewhere distant. The attack in the Falcon Flyer really scarred him since this wasn't the norm with a feral animal.

She queried, "Rodney, I can't be sure about this. Can the formula really work? Even if it's someone who isn't human?"

He had nothing but a blank stare. It boggled his mind as well, but he was hopeful. "My dad made this for a reason; I strongly believe it can work on anyone. Human or not. Besides, don't androids have some organic qualities? They aren't just sheer machines, y'know." he responded confidently.

"This-this may be too easy." Rick muttered under his breath.

"But it's worth a try. I suggest we should use it." Kate looked up and smiled. Even she'd be willing to use anything to save the one she truly cared about.

The young physician did his business and was giving him a MRI. She, Rick, and Tinsel made some space as he proceeded with the syringe afterwards. Like his patients before EAD, he inserted it directly behind his neck, connecting to the brain. All they did was wait in silence. They heard some footsteps from behind, it was only Gazelle, Clank, Jack, and Lucy. They've all knelt by the stretcher, just wishing their friend would wake up as his old self again. Kate held his drooping hand in a tight grip and was close to crying as she recalled the last time she lost him, when he sacrificed his own life to save her from Zoda and the Death Anchor, before he was painstakingly reconstructed from the late Dr. Clash.

While the guys were waiting for EAD to reboot properly Gazelle looked at Clank for a few minutes, then walked away. After a brief period, he followed the strange robot to another corridor. "Hey, do you need something?" he asked.

The Gazelle zoomed in and analyzed the neckpiece the tech geek wore. He felt a buzz in his head as another memory came to him, when they were frolicking outside when the boy was only five. "Clank Hughes."

He looked up at him with his face full of doubt. "Yeah... How do you know my name? I know you were good around kids but-Hey, what're you doing with that?!" He took it off and scanned the moving pic in it. He stared at the scene where Clank and Roy were running together happily. "Um, Gazelle?"

He looked up and answered. If the metal wasn't covering his face, then onlookers would know how somber he was. "I am your father, Roy Hughes; I've waited a long time to see you again."

"How can you be my father?! You're just a robot!"

That statement shocked his circuits. He didn't know what to say since Clank uttered the same thing his wife shouted before she abandoned him.

"It's true, Clank. The Mighty Gazelle is Roy." Rick said as he followed them out.

"Rick...I can't believe it. How do you know that? Why does he have my locket?!"

"Allow me to explain." He reiterated everything he was told, from the accident before X, to the limb replacements, to his death at the space hanger. "Falcon told me he's your dad. He knew him personally before he changed completely. Only his brain survived, that was how he recognized you." He laid a hand on his shoulder. "He really isn't dead, Clank. He was reconstructed. Go to him." he smiled and motioned him over with a nod. "I'll be right behind you."

Clank stepped closer slowly to the cyborg as he climbed into the cockpit. He was about to leave, until- "A-are you...my father?" he stuttered.

Moments stretched onward until he made the confirmation. Needless to say, there was a tearful reunion. He remembered the warm embrace he adored so long ago. That alone was the key that he knew his father was present in his life, and he'd no longer be considered an orphan. The last thing Clank wanted was to be taken away to that accursed orphanage at Forno, where he was treated badly by the other children.

Rick couldn't be more happier as he sighed, "Together at last. I wish Haruka and I would do the same..." With one last, long look, he walked away, letting the robot and the kid catch up on lost time. Then, an idea struck to him like a lightning bolt. "What if..."

"Rick, it's EAD. He's coming around!" Tinsel called from the corner. He immediately followed her back. Just in time to see the android.

He opened his eyes, and they were in their normal, opaque hues, and his eyes and brows were squinty. He rose up immediately and took a quick survey. "Hm? Hmm? Where is this place?"

"EAD!" Kate was the first to go to him.

"Hm, oh. It's you, Kate."

"Welcome back, partner." Rick said.

"Great to have you here, at last." Lucy added.

"You literally gave us quite a shock there, mate." Jack stated cheerfully.

"We were worried sick about you. Is everything functioning ok?" Tinsel asked.

"I think so. But where are we? My memory banks can't recall this place."

"You're at my hospital, Mr. EAD." Rodney chimed. "I just did some tests on you earlier. You seem to be fine now."

"Hm? I don't remember you. Are you a younger version of Dr. Stewart?" the Italian robot queried.

"Actually, no." Rick shook his head. "He's Robert's son, Dr. Rodney Stewart. He was the one that applied the syringe to you, to clean the vile Black Shadow left."

"Black Shadow?! I was with Black Shadow, and Dark Million?" That certainly raised a red flag to him.

"We all were, EAD." Lucy pointed out. "Me, Rick, Jack, and Dr. Clash who..." She couldn't finish her sentence on Theodore's fate.

"We still need to save Jody, Tanaka, and even my dad from those evildoers. The Task Force has been brainwashed, just like you were." the high medico reiterated.

"How unfortunate..." the Mario-look-a-like became glum.

Kate grabbed his hand again. "EAD, I know this is a lot for you to process. But we're here. And we'll do whatever we can to fix everything. You won't have to be ashamed, we still need you. I need you, by my side." She kissed him on the cheek, which felt surprisingly warm on her lips.

He then smiled. "Sure, Kate." Hard to believe that an android would be capable of functioning as a mere machine, yet still possess traits and emotions from that of a human. He was the most unique friend and recruit the Galaxy Police had ever concocted.

"Um, maybe we should...uh..." Tinsel stuttered.

"Good idea." Lucy agreed, leading everyone away except EAD and the singing queen.

"Hey! I wanna see what's goin' on!"

"C'mon, Jack!" she pulled him by the ear.

"Ow, ow ow!" he yelped. Thankfully, the doors closed after Rodney was the last one out.

"I'll keep an eye on things from here. I'm sure EAD will be in good hands with Miss Alen." he said with confidence.

"You're the man, Doc." Tinsel praised.

"Just remember to keep the formula safe at all times. I'm afraid that my dad would find out soon. I'm not sure what I should do when the time comes."

"Don't sweat it. We got your back." Rick said.

"I'm counting on all of you, especially you and Tinsel."

"We'll do our best, even in the last two races."

"Good luck, everyone."

They all left the building in idle conversation, except Tinsel who hesitated and remained silent. She looked out at the sunset through a large window with a lush garden and fountain below.

Does love really rule the universe..? she thought, remembering Kate's famous song. Let's hope it does. I can't let the galaxy be shrouded in darkness. Her fist clenched in anxiety. I just can't! How much more punishment do we have to endure before Black Shadow is stopped for good, or when we get all of our friends back?!

She didn't even notice Rick calling her. "Tinsel, are you coming?"

"Oh...yeah. I'm coming."

He saw the uneasiness in her face. "Are you all right?" he asked in a coy manner. "Is something wrong?"

She denied it. "No, nothing's wrong." Tinsel marched on without looking at him. He knew in his heart there was some negativity building inside her. He began to get very concerned.

There were only three more pilots to go, and both he and she knew they'd be the toughest of all. She was very anxious and paranoid about the situation. Lucy told everyone via communicator to the Falcon Flyer earlier that the pilots in the top five had made it to the semifinals. Those being the Blue Falcon, the Dragon Bird, the Red Gazelle, the Hyper Speeder, and the Moon Shadow. The Deep Claw, the Great Star, the Elegance Liberty, the Mad Wolf, and other anonymous machines were disqualified, but she didn't mind the rejection. She said she was better off staying at base. Later on the team noticed the Mighty Gazelle would be more than willing to join them.

Much like how Rick presumed, he has been Clash's replacement, as a mechanic for the Task Force. He was able to make some repairs on EAD and convert the parts from the Big Fang to the other crafts, making them more durable for the next few races ahead. There were only a couple courses to go. Everyone was getting closer to the elimination round. The next challenge would be at one of the most fatal courses yet, Death Wind. And the Wonder Wasp would be there.

Some of Tinsel's friends understood her worry spot on. She told them once about Pico after he set a foiled trap to Tanaka, and when she and Rick failed to catch him. Zoda stole some of the data chips and he was on his way to Kate's concert in a Port Town cruise. During that time, Tinsel explained that Pico was not only a talented assassin, like Stewart said, but also an aggressive F-Zero pilot who drove the Wild Goose. In addition, the semifinals would be at Tortiz 3, the place that's rumored to be the birthplace of that "lean, green, killing machine," as she once called him.

With Tanaka, Stewart and Jody left, there was definitely no fooling around. She almost had an inclination that Tanaka may be the strategist and is planning to show up along with the rest of the crew on that particular course. Because of the constant tension, Rick had decided to train with Falcon one last time as soon as the hero recovers, before the Death Wind contest would take place within a couple days.

The Grand Prix was almost over, but what would it mean for Dark Million and the remaining Task Force members that are still imprisoned?

A/N: "One Ahead System" from GX plays here, although I'm not too crazy about it. I think after awhile, the "Web World War" from ReBoot may play here, as well. "Tatl and Tael" may play here after the Gazelle has realized his long, lost son. 

The Crushing Quasar was something I was thinking of as an opposite to the Great Star's outlook. The Dark Star wouldn't work as it was already introduced in Bowser's Inside Story. So, I was thinking along the lines of a black hole of sorts, thus the name came to be. Of course the stats were rearranged to symbolize...well, bad; BAD were similar grades to even the Hell Hawk, itself.

I'm not really a huge fan of the Prime series, but I figured that having the Dark Samus look for EAD was the most effective concept. I know he was supposed to represent Mario, but I didn't want to go with the Wario approach since he wasn't very intimidating. So, I went with the corrupting Phazon embodiment.

I know the Gazelle sacrificed himself for Clank in the anime, and he was a part of Dark Million before that. But that idea was taken out. I still don't understand how Stewart was able to restore Roy's human body after six years. Still, I'm going to go with the portrayal of the Gazelle from GX, and he also sounds like him from that game as well. There are still some intel about Roy Hughes, but as far as the cyborg goes, I'll use the intel from the games.

Also, three Diamond Cup courses are featured in this story? Aside from the fact I'd never experienced them personally? That's a stretch. So, the semifinals are coming up; much like this Lap, the next one's going to take a lot of work. I sure hope my collaborators would help me out. The Task Force will deal with the Death Wind course while going against notable opponents like Pico and Tanaka.

 

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TheIkranRider

Lap 13

Everyone couldn't stop thinking about the next F-Zero race. Alongside other racers who made it this far, the pilots in the Task Force and Dark Million had those that made it to the semifinals. The next featured challenge would be at the heart of Tortiz 3, where it was said to be home to one of the most nefarious courses in the galaxy, Death Wind. According to Tinsel, who was well-acquainted with it, Death Wind was a lethal circuit that is always smack dab in a strong windstorm blowing eastward, which could go up to speeds that could exceed 100 miles per hour. Pilots weren't affected if they were to hit a Dash Plate or the pit area, fortunately. But because they were scarce, those conditions made it very tedious, even for the experienced drivers, as they had always been tossed around like ragdolls while they trekked through the harsh terrain. She only experienced it once 13 years ago during the Knight League, though she missed the second track that was part of the King League.

From the announcement on a television at the Falcon House, Rick, Tinsel, Burt and Clank heard the bulletin on who will participate and knock on Death's door. Aside from the first two, one of them was a green alien who had an enormous infamy on being a talented assassin; he went by the name of Pico whom she and Rick knew in the past.

"Pico is one of the most aggressive racers in the original F-Zero; of course, there is also Samurai Goroh." That gave Rick an idea. She saw his brows go up.

"You're not thinking what I'm thinking, are you?" He nodded. "If you're planning to recruit Samurai Goroh, then you're just crazy! Don't you know what he did to Draq and Roger? He almost killed us if it wasn't for Falcon!" Tinsel recalled the events at Red Canyon: the sabotage, the capture of her and her comrades, and the sudden appearance of the bounty hunter. Then, there was the fatal race in which she, Falcon, and Leon won. They were able to retrieve the Mighty Hurricane and Typhoon in one piece, and they escaped just as the thieves' vehicles blew up.

"This is insane, Rick. I never trusted this guy. What would Falcon feel about this?! And he said he never kills?! What about the time he almost sliced us into ribbons, or those kids that were sick? If it wasn't for you, they would've all died, and he says he never kills?!"

Clank was taken aback by her outbursts.

"Calm down, Tinsel." Rick assured, "Goroh could help us win if he can match Pico's skills. You said so yourself that they were both veterans and are really tough on the tracks way back. So, we could use his experience to give us the edge. I'm almost like an ally to him; I know what I'm doing."

Tinsel rested her head on her hands as she sighed in disgust, "I'm not so sure about this..."

"But I'm not going just yet. I want to train you on using the special technique Falcon taught me, the Booster Fire."

She was shocked. "Rick, are you sure?"

"I'm positive, Tinsel. You'll need all the practice you can get. We still have a few days left."

The patrons then heard a yelp coming from Mr. Zero as he was introducing Pico. He claimed that his favorite food was steak, dripping with blood. The Comet pilot commented, "No wonder he gets into a lot of road rage, and has a thirst for violence. Do you know it has a lot of toxoplasma in it?!"

"What's that?" the cop asked.

"It's a parasitic chemical that settles in your brain after a few weeks on consuming it. It's known to make eaters have a more aggressive behavior because of the effect by it."

"She's right, you know. That's why I always make sure my meats are medium to well-done. I don't allow rare meats here. It's how we get many troublemakers on the road." Burt had a stern tone.

"Huh. I see."

This made Clank gulp. "I didn't know it could do that, Burt. I'll make sure I stay away from rare meat. Unless you count cold cuts. I don't want that to happen to me!"

"Good boy, Clank." Burt commented. "Where's Gazelle?"

"He should be here any minute. He's just testing out his machine at the old Mute City course."

He was mostly employed as a janitor for the Falcon House, but he worked with the Task Force from time to time. Just then, the Mighty Gazelle marched into the diner. "Hey, look who's here!" Clank beamed. "Burt, I'd like you to meet the Mighty Gazelle. He's a very cool F-Zero racer, and he appears to be my old man!" he stated proudly.

"Good for you, Clank. I'm quite glad now that you finally found your father." the server said.

Gazelle remained still. "Um, Dad?" Clank wondered. "Hey, are you having a short-circuit or what?" He never budged, but his eyes gleamed as he kept facing Burt.

He identified the data, and it was not what he expected. It was the same person, but it was a different name. "Andy Summer, confirmed." he stated.

None of them could even breathe. Clank said, "I think you got some screws loose, Dad. That can't be Andy, he's Burt Lemming."

"Burt and Andy are the same men. The former is his alias. He was once a member belonging to the Galaxy Police."
"What? Is he really?" Rick was shocked.

"You mean Burt is...Jody's own...brother?!"

Burt sulked for a moment. "It's true. Gazelle couldn't be more right." Everyone faced him in utter surprise.

"That means... You were the one who saved Jody from Zoda!" Rick had a flashback when she revealed what happened during the shootout in Mute City. There was a huge explosion as he covered her sis with his body. After that, she had most of her body replaced with mechanical parts. "You survived the attack several years ago. How was that possible?" He'd never been this stunned since he found out he had a 150-year sleep.

There was a pause that stretched on for a few moments. "Burt?" Clank wanted to get him down to Earth.

"I should've known Roy would recognize me." And the secret had been unveiled: Much like him, he was rumored to be dead, so he went by the alias of Burt Lemming; he never wanted to go back to being an officer for the Galaxy Police after he was shot. He never thought once he would stay alive, and he sometimes worries of his sister's fate. Just like Rick, Tinsel, and Roy even he was scarred for life. With some bone and organ replacements, especially his legs, he eventually started a new life and identity. He figured he wasn't mobile or fit enough, so he wanted to build and run the Falcon House dedicated to his favorite pilot, Captain Falcon. His career as an F-Zero racer, bounty hunter, and hero was really an inspiration to him. He tried his hand on the sport once, but of course he lost interest as he lost control. Much like Tinsel, even he gave him a second shot, a drive to keep on living. The rest was just history from here.

"No way..." the prodigy was all agog.

"I can't believe your old friend was able to recognize you after all these years." Tinsel said, facing the cyborg.

"A former member of the Galaxy Platoon, who nearly lost all his bodily functions. Then, after being honorably discharged, started a second chance as the head of a place inspired by Captain Falcon. And he became the driving force of his life." Rick reiterated. "That's absolutely...incredible. I wonder what Jody would think about all this--once we get her back."

"That's the ticket, Rick." They looked at him again. "When you come across my sister, you have my permission to do so. I hope it'll be able to make her snap out of the thrall Black Shadow has on her."

"We will. We promise." the detective sworn.

"However," he interjected, "No one else must know. Promise me this."

"Cross my heart." Tinsel said.

"You bet, Burt-I mean, Andy." Clank chirped. He said calling him by his second name was fine. "That goes for you, too, Dad."

"Affirmative."
 

Somewhere near headquarters, Rick had told Tinsel she housed a Reactor Might inside the Comet; it was originally pointed out by Captain Falcon, and he wanted to train her. She was worried since he just learned the Booster Fire himself, although he's confident she will too as long as he's her personal tutor while the champion is still recovering from EAD's onslaught.

Thanks to the spare parts from the Big Fang, Lucy, EAD, and Gazelle had actually made an advancement on the Comet, although its stats have been reversed. It still has the maximum acceleration, but instead the craft had a slightly stronger body, while also a downgrade on its grip. Which was good considering she was having some trouble with the enhancements, as well as her handling while the safety features had been turned off. Rick walked her through the process in the Dragon Bird as they were cruising through the Task Force's training circuit, the Traditional Park, and he guided her whenever she was slipping. Then, by the next few laps, it was time.

Tinsel listened in on how to utilize the nitrous while using a spin attack. Rick pulled back the nozzle as she saw his dashboard glowing. Then, his machine rotated in a very rapid fashion as it was being engulfed by its flames. She was surprised they weren't burning the Dragon Bird's exterior. She did see him zoom away as far as the eye could see. It only lasted for less than a minute when the car returned to normal. Rick allowed her to catch up.

"That was... I hardly even saw you. You were so far away when the transformation finished."

"The Booster Fire causes your machine to shoot past your opponents like a rocket breaking the sound barrier. It's extremely fast, but also dangerous. You'd best go to a straightaway and make sure there won't be any obstacles in your path. Let's do this when we reach the finish line," he lectured.

Before they hovered over it side by side, Rick encouraged her. "Now, Tinsel. Get ready. Use everything I've shown you since you only have one chance. There's only a single Reactor Might, so use it well. Do not be afraid. Go for it!"

She was more determined than ever; it was almost like his words have struck a cord. She nodded, and pulled back the handle. She pressed the button to do a spin attack while she stepped on the gas as hard as she could. Now, the Comet looked as if it was sparkling just like the celestial body itself. "Booster...Fire!" It spun in an icy light blue hue. The gravitational pull caused her to slump against her seat as she held onto the handles for dear life. Everything around her began to swirl so quickly that her eyes couldn't keep up the critical velocity, "Whoooa! I'm getting dizzy!"

The Dragon Bird saw the Comet swerve a few times; he was surprised she never crashed, unlike him. He boosted more to observe the flaring Comet!

"How do I STOP THIS THING?!" her jaw was barely moving as she screamed. By the time the course curved to the right, the phenomenal spectacle ended. It almost looked like the vehicle busted through as the tiny ice particles scattered.

The Comet slowed down gradually and Tinsel's head swam like crazy; it almost felt like it was about to fall off her shoulders. She hardly moved, as she succumbed to all that weight and speed. Her arms dropped to her lap, and she collapsed onto the motherboard. Rick ran to her machine and, surprisingly, there wasn't any damage to the outer shell.

He used the grappling hook and pulled the Comet back into the garage. He asked if he could borrow the master key from Lucy to unlock it and unload the comatose pilot. He couldn't turn away from her as he was so anxious to treat her wounds. He thought Rodney might give him some help.
 

Several hours later. she eventually came to, and her best friend was by her side. She was resting in a comfy bed, and the room was almost completely dark. He kept encouraging her to wake up. Her vision was very blurry, but at least she saw him from the dim lighting. "Hey. You alright? You just achieved the Booster Fire."

"Unh... What happened..? Did...did I crash..?" The room was still spinning as she groaned. She could hardly keep her eyes open.

"No. You didn't. You made it, I was there right beside you. I'm surprised you did it WITHOUT crashing; you're very lucky." Rick referred to the time when he had that accident in Port Town.

"Then...why do I have such a headache..?"

"Maybe the shock of the Booster Fire was too much for you." She sulked. He laid a hand on hers. "Don't worry. With me and Falcon by your side, you'll get used to it eventually."

"I...I hope so..." she dosed off, yet she was still holding the right side of her forehead just above her eye. Then, Rick gently removed her hand. It began to feel worse and she squeezed her eyes shut, then numb after he slowly leaned over and kissed that spot. She opened her eyes, "Rick..." She gazed into his eyes, he did the same, until their faces neared. "Wait." they hesitated. "I-I've never kissed anyone before."

He then smiled. "Time to have your second lesson. Just follow my lead." he whispered.

Finally, their lips touched, they closed their eyes, and it was such a warm, welcoming sensation for both of them. It was as if time had stopped as they slowly absorbed every touch and movement. What seemed like an eternity, they separated and looked at each other again. Tinsel's vision went hazy. Rick brought an assuring hand to her cheek, caressing it. "You'll be ok, Tinsel. Stay strong," he spoke soothingly.

"It's my head, Rick." she moaned.

"I think you should rest." She did just that. "I'll be beside you when you wake up."

"You mean...you'll wait for me?"

"Of course. Try not to overexert yourself so much. You need to recover, and I'm sure Rodney will be here shortly." He paused for a few moments then smooched her head again. "Good night, Tinsel."

She took a deep sigh. "Good night, Rick..."

Just as he suspected, the doc showed up. "How is she?" he spoke with a deep concern.

"She's very tired. She said she's suffering from a headache. The Booster Fire must've taken its toll." He wondered if Falcon would recuperate soon; they only had a few days to go.

Then, there was something Rick never felt before. His body began to heat up from within, and the thermal energy was crawling toward his palm. He hardly noticed it began to illuminate a light-orange shade. It felt so warm, and he laid it on Tinsel's throbbing skull. He touched her, and she let out another sigh as she absorbed the healing energy. It was almost like the sun's purifying rays, or perhaps like the regenerating flames from the Phoenix, as she began to feel better.

Rodney was taking out some pills from his medical kit until he looked at Rick in a perplexing manner. How is that even possible? he thought when he saw him somehow treat Tinsel's wounds.

A few seconds later, his hand cooled as it returned to normal. He looked at it in awe, he couldn't believe what he just did. He figured it was due to the Reactor Mights they possessed. They somehow made a chain reaction to each other after the training session, as if there'd be some kind of connection between them, like neurons.

"Rick..!" Rodney was astounded as he whispered, "How were you able to do that?"

He never really had an answer. "I...I didn't think I could..!"

Elsewhere, two female onlookers witnessed the occurrence. Through a pair of infrared binoculars, she gazed at Rick still as a statue watching Tinsel. "The Silver Comet has the missing Reactor Might," a brunette said.

"We have finally found it. We must report this to Black Shadow." Miss Killer stated next to her associate. "He will be pleased."

"The universe must fall. It would soon be ours."
 

The next day, he stopped by Rodney's place and met Tinsel again. He woke her up, and her sight cleared almost instantly as she saw him. "Rick. It's so good to see you."

"Likewise." He said with a smile. "How're you feeling?"

"A little better. I think my head is clearing up. But, I still feel so groggy..."

"It'll go in time. Listen, I'm actually heading to Planet Cryton now. I'm going to ask and see if Goroh could help us."

Tinsel's face dropped. "Rick, I told you. I can't trust him. How do we know he really is going to help us, and why? I can't understand... What do you see in him that I don't? What is it that you have in common?"

"That I'm not sure. But what I AM sure of is that he's our only hope to win against Pico and Tanaka. His Fire Stingray is very durable, this could put us in an advantage."

Rick tried to convince her otherwise, but it wasn't helping. "Rick, please return safely. I don't want you to give up your machine, or you life, to the likes of him."

"I'll return soon. You have my word. Just keep resting." He laid a hand on her cheek for reassurance, and then he was off. He then alerted his friends in the Task Force.

Leon said, "If anything should go awry, we're gonna know about it."
 

Rick met Goroh at the old saloon where they first met. The Japanese warrior reluctantly disagreed since Falcon would be in the same race. Rick convinced him that if he misses out, he would be forfeited and they desperately needed his help in order to put a stop to Pico since they were old rivals.

Goroh recalled how the Wild Goose was so aggressive during the original Grand Prix and how he occasionally saw him in other races. "The Wild Goose in conjunction to Death Wind and a member of the Task Force can destroy us all." He accepted Rick's offer since "He likes him".

Rick asked Goroh, "Why are you so willing to help me?"

"We may have something in common, you and I."
 

Meanwhile Falcon taught Tinsel how to use the Booster Fire. She wanted to do it herself, but Leon thought she was crazy after she passed out last time. The bounty hunter assured that she'll get used to it; she must master it in order for them to win. Plus the race was tomorrow. On the last lap, both she and Falcon did it together. He urged her to fight back her sickness and focus on the track. By the time it ended, she managed to catch her breath and he said to use it when the time is right. He'll see her at the race, but he must see Rick personally at Port Town. He summoned the Flyer and he departed. She heard a machine's engines and told Rick what transpired. He did the same. That actually convinced Falcon and Tinsel on Goroh's help as well, but they'd keep a keen eye on him.

"Are you sure we can trust Goroh?"

"I can."

On that night, he trained with Falcon one last time in Port Town. He led his best friends, Tinsel and Jack, to Falcon's fortress late that evening. They met him waiting outside of the entrance. The scanner went over his face and unlocked the garage.

"Looks like nothing's changed. It's been a year since I was here."

"What?! You knew about all this? And you didn't even tell us about it?!" Jack pouted at Tinsel's remark.

"She kept this as a secret for a reason, Jack. He needs the solitude." Rick defended. The bounty hunter motioned him to come along. "You two stay here. I have to train with Falcon. He's been expecting me."

"Good luck." she saluted.

"You're gonna need it, Wheeler." the rocker added.

He smiled and gave a thumbs-up before he headed inside the blinding white chamber. As soon as the door closed, he exhaled, "Alright, Falcon. What is so important that you have to show me?"

Through another simulation, Rick startlingly looked around, realizing the trippy background he saw earlier when he touched the Championship Belt. A neon blue track emerged at their feet, and it was refracting light from the sinister arena. There were some guardrails but they were very thin. It was almost like Rainbow Road, but there weren't any beautiful colors here. "What..? Where am I all of a sudden?!"

The captain gave Rick the final challenge, a simulation of the Phantom Road. After he defeated the creator spirits there, that was when he obtained the data for it. The safety features absolutely needed to be turned off for this. In addition, he promised that if Rick is able to defeat him, it'll be official he'll be the next Falcon.

With a big smile, Rick declared, "It's on like Donkey Kong. Give me the best you got, Champion! I'll still beat you like I did before!" He immediately climbed into the Dragon Bird and fired up the engines, just as Falcon did. "Let's go!"

With its sharp turns, and since it had very thin guardrails, the Blue Falcon had no trouble; however, the Dragon Bird was slipping at times. He was compassionate enough to enable a UFO if he was unfortunate to actually fall off. He had such a difficult time to keep up with the unstoppable Grand Prix champion, until he finally did after two irritating laps. Before the last stretch, Falcon was ahead of him and activated the Booster Fire, Rick then followed suit. By the time the ordeal ended, he was so stupefied that he hardly saw the fortress transform back into its normal state. It nearly felt as if he woke up from an excruciatingly frightening nightmare. This whole course was definitely one that was so surreal.

Falcon walked up to him and said, "You have done well, Rick, my disciple. It's now up to you to decide your own destiny."

With his face as pale as a ghost, Rick looked up. "I...I won..?"

The former champion took off his helmet and revealed short, dark brown hair; thick, tannish skin; opal colored eyes; and a scar through the left eye. "My real name...is Douglas Jay Falcon. I was the captain-turned-bounty hunter of the Internova Police. It was my duty to uphold peace and justice throughout the universe, and still is today. And now.." he handed the helmet to Rick. "I'm offering my legacy to you."

After a pregnant pause, he shook his head, "No. I refuse the offer. I can't accept your helmet, or your legendary reputation. Just because I won your last race. I could only be your friend, and your successor. That's all that I'm willing to give."

They shook hands. "Sounds good to me."

Rick nodded. "Ditto." and he smiled.

Tinsel was just as surprised when she and Jack heard the news from Falcon personally. "What!? You-You're giving Wheeler...everything..?"

"I thought you said you were never going to retire; you made that clear to Mr. Zero in an interview once."

"Indeed, I have. But the truth is..." He spoke softer, "I can't go on forever, and I really do not want to try. Ever since Black Shadow returned, I knew my time would come. We may cheat our fate, but we cannot escape it. So, who could I trust if the unthinkable should happen to me? I couldn't just pick any racer who'll take my stead. And that's why I've decided to tell Jody and Stewart that I need a follower. Someone that'll carry the mantle and responsibility, somebody who I can tell all my secrets. Rick made it official tonight; he is the one."

"Falcon...I-I don't know what to say. I still have to work alongside the Task Force, they need me. I'm not sure if I'm ready."

"That time will come. Soon enough."

They stood in stunned silence. After he re-entered his fortress, Tinsel theorized, "Falcon...must've known. That his death would be a fate that couldn't be avoided."

"And knowing that...he still gave you the last of his teachings, his identity, his secrets. Why?" Jack was dumbfounded as he faced his friend.

Rick was very somber. "...It was hope. So that a part of him will remain, after he'll be gone. He just...understood his mortality. He never wanted to show his fears, his anxieties to anyone. He was looking for someone to take his place, cause he knew ever since Black Shadow returned. We can't live forever, even if we were to sleep for another 150 years. And he can't settle down, he's so restless and earnest. The least he could do was pass the torch, to me."

He gazed at the gold etching of the falcon in his palm. This was actually the emblem he earned as the head of the Internova Police Force. Falcon...I will succeed you. I know my course now. I must finish what you have started, and I'll assist you to defeat Black Shadow. I swear it.
 

On the day of the big race, Clank analyzed the data for Pico and the Wild Goose. All three stats were arranged just as they were in the alphabet, ABC, making it the most volatile and versatile machine out there. Pico's home world was Tortiz 3 as Tinsel pointed out; torn by war and mutation, he's actually it's own general from the special unit of the Polipoto military. They designed this machine for use in command of the unit. When the general retired, the Wild Goose's military history was recognized, and it was adapted for racing. The soldier who designed the Wild Goose was a member of the strong fighting-spirited Polipoto tribe of Death Wind. It is able to withstand heavy damage and was made to perform attack runs thus making it suitable for Pico's aggressive driving nature. However, it's weak acceleration and below-average drifting ability in corners are a bit disconcerting.

Because of the inclement weather, there wasn't a stadium, nor stands. There were only a few cameras on very tall, sturdy tripods and one from a blimp overhead to monitor the race. In addition it was also dangerous since the Polipoto army may be around with its murderous general. This was Pico's and Tanaka's opportunity to incapacitate the racers and obtain the Reactor Mights. Clank and Burt were watching from the Falcon House while Lucy, EAD, Leon, and Kate were cheering at headquarters. They hoped the enhancements for the Big Fang would pay off for the volatile match. Rick recognized the machine as each racer pulled up into the starting gates which held their cars snug until the signal. Tinsel was nervous, recalling the unforgiving circuit and that their opponents are there.

"It's the Horrid Hornet; I've seen it back in Dark Star. It's a revamped version of the Wonder Wasp." Rick said.

The Wonder Wasp has been altered into the Horrid Hornet. It was labeled as such with very bold lettering. The lines on the vehicle were shaded black, the exterior was changed to a mix of ash blond, mahogany, and titian; and the gliders were pointed like its own lethal stingers. Tanaka's uniform almost matched the machine itself: he had on a jumpsuit that was a dark cider color and had multiple black lines going across it. His gloves looked similar, only the blackness was more dominant, as were his shoes. The stats were changed to have a slight improvement on both the body and grip. Because the components were BAB, it's likely he and Pico would have the upper hand, as he worked alongside the dreaded hitman.

Tinsel added, "He doesn't race very often, though."

"True. But he could still be a formidable enemy, especially with what Black Shadow did to him."

Falcon recommended, "Our main focus is surviving this circuit, even I know how tumultuous this is."

"You hear that, guys?" she queried to her comrades.

"Roger." Jack chimed.

"Copy that." Beastman added.

"You bet. We're gonna do some clobberin'!" Draq declared.

"Affirmative." Gazelle reiterated.

"Welcome racing fans, one and all, to the dangerous Death Wind track! The semifinals is about to get underway; no one who dared to lose has ever gotten this far! The Top 6 pilots that qualify will advance to the finals." Mr. Zero laid the rules out. After a brief reprieve the race was on!

Due to the strong gusts on the track, along with the minefields and strict turns, some of the machines lost control and crashed all over the place. The Dashes were nearly impossible to make, but like Tinsel stated, it provided temporary relief from the storm as each competitor went straight. So did the short pit area. The first lap was about survival, but by the second lap it was all about desperation as each pilot fought viciously on taking the winner circle.

The Hornet made its move on the Comet, making Tinsel jump. However, she was surprised that she took lesser damage than usual. She figured it was from the enhancements by the Big Fang's spare parts. She attacked back, on the creepy-looking contraption, and sent it crashing to the walls. Gazelle was the first to be wiped out. Clank was upset his dad was out.

"Aww, Dad..! Come on, guys, crush that bug!"

The others were swarming like flies thanks to the Hornet's rampage with Pico, Miss Killer, and the harsh environment. The Mighty Typhoon was down and out, as was the Robin. "It's up to you now, Ricky!"

"Don't worry Jack and Draq. We got your back."

At the final lap, Falcon, Rick, and Tinsel were lagging behind. "Rick Wheeler, Captain Falcon, and Tinsel Steelus are beside each other. While Tanaka and Pico are still in the lead. What're they scheming?" the announcer said over the roaring storm.

Falcon decided for all three to use the Booster Fire to stay ahead and prevent Pico and Tanaka from winning. They had to be neck to neck so they could sandwich their machines, with the Comet in the center. Goroh was always struggling with the two. Chris and Gomar and Shioh were low on power. Miss Killer saw the Triple Booster Fire ahead and did the Moon Fire. They couldn't lose the formation and they plowed through the leading pilots!

"Look out!" Tanaka screeched.

"Ahh!" Pico screamed as the Goose spun out of control and practically exploded! While at the same time, the Fire Stingray was nearly obliterated.

"Sorry, Goroh!" Tinsel said as she passed the Stingray.

Tanaka actually tapped into the Moon Shadow as it was closing in on Rick. He was able to lessen the ignition, yet...

"Watch out, Rick!" Falcon warned as it nudged the Dragon Bird. The collision resulted an accident involving the Hornet. Fortunately, the storm was ending as the race did.

When they crossed the line, the spectacle ended. The top 6 were Falcon, Rick, Tinsel, Miss Killer, Goroh, and Gomar and Shioh who maneuvered around the freak accident cooperatively. The Dragon turned back and the machines followed him to the wreckage.

"It's Tanaka! He's badly hurt!"

"Where's Pico? Falcon, where ya goin?!" Tinsel queried.

He was able to pull Goroh from the wreckage, though Pico wasn't so lucky.

"Why did you do it, Falcon? Goroh was your greatest rival."

"He's my rival, Rick. Not my enemy. There is a difference."

"I thought you wouldn't miss the chance for him to be destroyed." Tinsel said.

"That would be dishonorable. Letting someone die, I would be no different than Black Shadow." To Rick and Tinsel, he had a good point. But she wasn't really convinced. "Goroh was able to keep Pico busy for us, right? And we took him out. So, the least we could do is return the favor."

"Maybe. But that means he would still go after you. What could be worth the risk?!"

Rick laid a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. "Let it go, Tinsel. The deed is done."

"You-you're just gonna let him walk away?" she said facing him.

"It's what he wants, isn't it, Falcon?" He just started his machine. "Falcon, wait!"

"Meet me at Port Town. You know where to go! I'll be waiting." He sped off into the subsided storm.

The paramedics arrived with sirens wailing and Rick and Tinsel met Jack, Gazelle, Draq, and Gomar and Shioh. They told them to bring Tanaka to Mute City where Rodney was, so he could receive the formula to restore his mind. "Will do, follow us."

The Blue Falcon jumped off the track and Pico was flown back a few feet; for a second, she could've sworn his fist glowed as the wind was knocked out of him. EMTs took away Tanaka and towed the Hornet. Both Rick and Tinsel actually forgot to bring the syringe as they were preoccupied with the semifinals. The Furikakes were disappointed that Luna beat them.

"And she would be at the finals," Rick realized.

Tinsel called for Rodney but she had to leave a message which was unlikely. "Rodney, are you there? Hello? Look, uh, we won the race, but we forgot to bring the formula with us. Tanaka is being transported to Earth now. So, I want you to like, have it ready, will ya?"

Little did she know Black Shadow listened on the whole thing. "Can the Comet come out to play?" he boomed into the receiver.

Recognizing the demon's tone, she demanded, "Where is he?" She paid attention to his threats. There was an ultimatum. He won't be harmed if they lose the finals and give Dark Million the remaining Reactor Mights, then she immediately ended the reception and cried to Rick they must hurry back to Mute City.
 

At Rodney's office he was held hostage by the trio, Black Shadow, Jody, and his old man. She was wearing a black jumpsuit instead of the usual white one, but it had red lines. She also donned on the same sneakers Rick once wore with the protruding horns. Stewart had on a doctor's robe shrouded in darkness.

"It's time to have a taste of your own medicine." Dr. Stewart sneered while taking out the needle.

"Father, that's your medicine. You made this!" his son countered, helpless in the emperor's arms.

Stewart injected it into his upper neck.

"D-Dad... But why..?" he slumped.

The mad doc dropped the gizmo on the hard tile floor. And sensing something, Black Shadow teleported everyone out.

By the time the duo returned, it was too late. They found themselves in a demolished hospital: the test tubes were broken and leaking, the robots were out of commission, and the only clue left was a shattered syringe laying on the floor. Tinsel knew who it belonged to then sunk to her knees.

"This is our fault." Rick said in despair.

"If we would've brought the formula with us..."

"This isn't the time for self-pity." Their heads shot up as they heard Falcon. "We must rescue Rodney, but the Dark Star could be almost anywhere. Black Shadow doesn't stay around for very long." he said, and their only chance to win is in the finals. But without the formula, as the two saddened pilots feared, they can't bring Stewart, Jody, or Tanaka back. The captain said the Flyer could track Dark Million but it won't be an easy feat.

"Falcon's right. We need to accomplish the last race...in Lightning." Rick said.

Tinsel gasped, "Lightning?!"

"But...about Rodney..." Their hearts were heavy on the young medico's fate, thinking what Black Shadow or Dr. Stewart would do to him.

A/N: Of course, since the original game is the only one in the series that features Death Wind, it's loosely based off of the course from the King League with some added bonuses. The turns are a bit more sharper and there were a couple mines that littered the course. The only other difference is it doesn't have any of those annoying exploding cars, nor the orange ones.

While the Wild Goose still remains to be my favorite machine, and the Blue Falcon is very balanced, I can understand why people would often use the Fire Stingray. Even when it comes to the original. For many gamers, this works wonders due to its great endurance and high speed. Its gripping does need some work, but I'd see why it's a decent machine to use. Which was why I decided to use it as an advantage against Pico.

Another thing to note is I am a melissophobic, those that are scared of bees. Fake ones I don't have a problem with, and I never got stung once in my life. However, I've heard of many who were unfortunate and whenever I see or hear a wasp or something similar, I just freeze or run away as fast as possible. And considering that Tanaka's machine is the Wonder Wasp, I really want to make the alteration as sinister as it possibly could!

The final challenge was of course a reference to the Phantom Road, the last main track from GX, and also the finale from Story Mode. I had found an image of the unmasked Falcon from the Miiverse.

Keep in mind that Capt. Falcon is taking his name from the games as Douglas Jay Falcon, which he revealed to Rick, and Burt Lemming is the alias of Andy Summer.

It is true that rare meat does carry toxoplasma, a chemical which causes the consumer to have more irritability and is likely to cause road rage. The perfect example was Pico who loves meat dripping in blood, and always has an appetite for killing and destruction. I'd always prefer meat to be well-done, as black as a puck; I don't mind cold cuts, but still I kind of find rare meat with a lot of redness and blood as just disgusting.

Little did I know that Green Plant was also on Tortiz 3; at first I wasn't sure what planet the course was on. I thought it could be on Planet White, but I guess I have to fix everything. That's one of the things I h8 about the series, sometimes the info is just inconsistent. Like Pico's age for instance. In F-Zero X Pico claims to be 123, then 124 a year later in F-Zero GX. Both were considered to be around the age of adolescence on his home planet, however, in the first F-Zero game, he was 34. That doesn't really add up.

Regardless, after a month in hiatus, the Lap is at long last complete. I should thank RevivedRacer for the slight edits, but I had a lot of copy-pasting to do on it. Life just always gets in the way. So, Rick and company advanced to the finals, and Black Shadow demanded on Rodney's fate, his life for the Reactor Mights and losing at Lightning. With Stewart and Jody still influenced, will he and the galaxy be doomed?

 

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