Dimension Driving… diving … racing.
Came up with this one day, couldn't resist following it up.
Oh, partially because it helped motivate me to write, partially because I am not the greatest at thinking up names and largely because it's really quite fun; Those who know me well may notice some similarities between themselves and characters.
Lastly, in addition to my usual plea's for feedback; I have to add that this and the following chapters have only been edited once and thus may contain traces of nut, wheat, soy and spelling/grammatical errors.
A.N.: This is a very detailed synopsis and description of the mechanics and many of the locations the races will pass through.
It is not vital to read this, If you so wish, launch straight into the story in the next chapter. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy my description of how this story-verse works.
When Space and natural law are at your beck and call, there are a lot of things a person or race of people can do.
Many are practical, quantum leaps between stars, manipulation of 'raw firmament'.
Many are less practical, such as creating works of art using stars and entire planets.
Then, there is entertainment. Though the fastest form of movement might not require speed, watching a competition of teleportation is the only sport that takes less than a microsecond to become boring.
Then came the idea of incorporating teleportation, not into the vehicles, but into the track itself.
The currently accepted format is the Iridium Multi-space; A true test of anyone's mettle, one thousand five hundred meter sections of track, hostile terrain or whatever else could be thought up by the organizers.
Each section was capped by a D-Gate at either end. Depending on when you entered the gate it would be synchronized with another gate somewhere else on the course. However It could be Any gate except the victory gate or the departure point the vehicle had just entered.
There were cases where a driver would end up at the starting line halfway through the race… and then go on straight to the final stretch with their next jump.
Put this way, it sound's like a game of risk rather than skill. Not so.
Driving team's can be any size. With any vehicle; A famous champion once raced alone for an entire season in a Coyote Reflex suit attached to seven league boots.
However the catch is that immediately prior to and during the race, you do have a chance to see exactly where and when you'll end up.
Drivers or their navigators receive a map showing all the sections; and sequentially they mark out how long they estimate they will take to get to each gate. Gates change destination's at a variable speed; However, when you estimate, you are informed where you'll be based on that estimation.
Sometimes, you don't even end up at the finish by the route you plan out in advance, in which case you are allowed to have another go. Three tries is the limit. Planning done, you then have to either adhere rigidly to the course and times you planned or throw your chances of winning to the mercy of near total entropy.
Add in the factor that every moment you're early or late to the gate will throw out your pre-planned calculations for the rest of your race and you've got a puzzle requiring both superb driving and exceptional mental mathematics.
In other words, to win you need either luck or skill. One or the other, they don't stack.
There are however, other factors.
The Iridium is the base layout for races. It has evolved countless variant's, of which, five have risen to prominence.
The Wanderer requires racers to enter every gate prior to finishing. Meaning that if you end up on the final stretch before then, your race is over. The Mhiaki wanderer is the elite version, requiring that racers never go through the same gate twice.
The lockdown causes all gates to lock into the preset course of the leader, so long as he keeps hitting the gates on time. Essentially, the first person to enter the first gate sets the course of the rest of the race; either you accept that and try and take him on the final straight, or if you successfully overtake, the lockdown breaks and gates are randomized as they would have been had nothing happened:
Most drivers shun the risk of a random course, preferring to tail. However the Lockdown is famous for drivers eschewing protocol and ramming forward into first, throwing everybody into chaos.
The Fall; Driver's must stay up. Gates are projected at unfixed locations. Drivers must endeavor to fall through gates which exit higher than the entry point, and outlast their opponents. Unlike other races, this is rarely spread over more than one world.
Recall: Drivers are given the option to recall specific drivers to their immediate location instantaneously. As they have no clue exactly where their opponents will be at the time, the results are wildly erratic.
This is almost always coupled with the semi-standard Valued non-timer Gate-course. Where gates on more difficult to navigate areas are more likely to lead to the finish or 'higher placed' areas of the course. Essentially, each area had a chance of leading to the finish, however, as you progress through, the more difficult or 'higher placed' sections are more likely to lead to other more difficult or higher place areas. Add in a cumulative bonus and it equates to race where the further you go, the more likely you are to hit the finish.
The last but certainly not the least popular is the Arach attack. Racers arm their vehicles, are started from different locations and must navigate their way through a maze of courses filled with hazards of deadly proportions. The most dangerous being the other drivers, for to eliminate an opponent is to narrow the pool of victors. The Arach has no finish. It is a last person standing competition. You avoid crashing or being immobilized or otherwise taken down until there is no one else left on the course.
Then, there are the vehicles. Made to not only look good, but be able to traverse a myriad of environment's of all worlds atmospheres and laws, they must be versatile and fast.
Most races take place at about two hundred kilometers an hour. Slow relatively; However the participant's have to be equipped for almost every eventuality. A hover-car/glider or supersonic capable rotor assisted ramjet might be good for some planets, but if you burst out onto a planet with no atmosphere for the jet to burn or with gravity too heavy for the hover tray to bear then you'd end your race prematurely.
Thus, a leggy runner, having passed through a high gravity section, right into a swamp, might detach the cockpit from the legs and continue on a secondary movement system.
Most common design was the jet assisted hover half-track. Three means of locomotion; oxygen fueled jet's, tracks and plasma cascade propulsion. The last worked in vacuum best, being outdone in oxygen atmospheres by the jets and on high gravity worlds, helping out the tracks that could bear the weight of the vehicle even where the hover drive failed.
Invariably cockpits were sealed against vacuum and treated to withstand the more abrasive atmospheres.
Currently only thirty percent of gate equipped courses have artificial tracks. There are two thousand and thirty, a growing number, possible sections.
With between thirty five and fifty sections to a race course there were technically more than
103, 331, 479, 663, 861, 449, 296, 666, 513, 375, 232, 000, 0000* possible layouts of course alone not counting timing and other factors. Still, some tracks were crowd favorites, returned too as often as possible by the organizers.
*The site deletes this unless I space it out. Sorry!
These were officially:
The largest concentration of alcohol in the universe, with vehicles speeding over the frozen surface, avoiding the remains of the mining operations that once sought to exploit the mind bogglingly large cloud of pure ethanol.
The methane maze; Avoid igniting pockets of volatile gas while moving through a three dimensional course and avoiding collisions with the machines which once worked the cloud; Methane mining 'silver snakes'. Robotic and more than sixty meter's long, they have been reconfigured to home in on those who enter the area. This is one of the most universally feared course sections in any racers book: When you have to decide if the shadow silhouetted in the mists is a snake and if you should risk the damage of blowing out gas pockets and make a straight run for the exit.
The Fossil Fleet: Five hundred warships, now derelict; Frozen and locked in place. Of the popular areas, this one has the most extra gates. Eighteen, although usually only two are active. Racers must navigate through centuries old spacecraft, racing along their miles of hull and weaving between cannons and deck guns to find their gate. Once a racer took a wrong turn, entered a gate and continue to race on a completely different course, eventually, winning the wrong race.
Silicone ocean: Watch out for Antlion's, Maw eels and land sharks.
Pandora's box: Race officials and drivers refuse to talk about this course section.
It's not clear what or where it leads but sixty seven point five percent of those who enter do not leave intact. In a race so reliant on chaos, crowds are enticed by the unknown horror: Will the brave driver succeed or succumb and be spat out, his race done?
Breaking dawn: A planet frozen in the midst of it's personal apocalypse; Rivers of lava, spreading clouds of ash and dust mar the land and the sky. A mountain in the process of shattering and an atmosphere ablaze with falling stars and the jagged lances of sanguine lightning. Drivers will be frozen like the dying planet should they stray off the track by even an inch. No exceptions, for them the race is done.
Poisonous swamp: A marsh with more than the usual amounts of hanging creepers and turgid water. Well… The water is in fact concentrated acid and the vines have a tensile strength which approximates that of steel. Hence this is an excellent route if you are looking to wreck your car.
The restaurant of Ichiro O'mally: The course is enclosed and wind's in between the tables for an often unforgettable dining experience.
Chocolate concourse: A nearly unique location; A planet whose surface and ecology is based on dairy milk. Usually used as the last stretch of races on st. valentines day.
These are just some of the more popular sections of track.
Then, there are the people who drive personally built machines with a 'Wacky racers' sense of variety.
These champions are respected and Idolized by audiences of hundred's of worlds, millions of men, women and children all with their own favorites.
It's what every daydreamer aspires to; to be one of those legend's who doesn't hesitate to floor it through a gate and burst forth onto a new section of track.
Each populated world has it's own school. The prerequisite for entry is to find and enter the grounds with a machine that has been home-made. This is more difficult than it sounds: the schools themselves are off-world. Thus to get to them as a driver you must find and navigate your way through a gate course. Entrances to the course are scattered over the world by official's. It's up to potential entrants to find them; Enter them and complete the course. They are not activated all the time though. They are turned on at both random and set intervals. The set intervals are a source of celebration as the world looks for new champions to emerge from it's population. The random intervals force racers to capitalize on chance; They occur differently for each gate and last for anywhere between two hours and fifteen minutes. Unlike the set twenty five minutes of the planned openings. In any case, if you fail to reach the end in time, the next gate you enter will lead back to where you started.
The success rate for these forms of entry, Is always a tad below point oh oh one of a percent.
Now... Here's where the story really starts.