Preston was very quiet on their way home as he recalled what had recently happened. Faenys wondered what he had seen in the mall parking lot. It was the first time in her life that she had seen her older brother so disturbed. She wanted to ask him what was wrong, but immediately changed her question to serve her own interest.
“Say Prest, about the Racers’ King…”
“Not now, Faenys. I know what you’re trying to do, and I’ve already told you that we’ll discuss it once we get home and not before.”
Zero’s voice sounded the same, but the young teenager could discern a hint of annoyance hidden inside. Nonetheless, she was not done with the subject, so she asked him afterwards why they were not discussing this now instead of waiting until they were both home.
“Look, Faenys, I’m not in the mood for this conversation right now. So, if you don’t want me to make a drastic decision about you, you’d better shut up and wait until we get home,” he retorted, gripping the steering wheel tighter.
This was clearly a threat from her brother, which confused her a bit, but also made her wonder about this famous “drastic decision”. What could he possibly do to her that was not already annoying? Anyways, she decided not to talk about it anymore, but at least for the moment.
“OK! But at least tell me what happened in the mall parking lot. What did you see?” said the young teenager.
“A woman. It was a woman,” he replied after letting out a sigh.
“That’s interesting! Would my big brother have finally fallen under the charm of the female species?”
The young man looked at her out of the corner of his eye before answering that it was impossible for him to fall in love.
“Everyone falls in love one day or another, even you are no exception to the rule.”
“This also implies that you’ll eventually fall in love with someone.”
“We’re not talking about me here. Besides, I’ve got my own hormonal problems to deal with and I don’t want to add someone else’s,” Faenys said.
Preston could not help but laugh at what his little sister had just said, to which she added that it was true.
“I won’t comment on that. Everyone deals with their feelings as they see fit.”
“Exactly. Plus, I’d rather spend my time in my car than in a boy’s arms.”
The young man laughed again, prompting his little sister to repeat her words. After about ten seconds of silence, Preston told Faenys that the route they were taking was indeed much longer than the previous one. According to their on-board GPS, they had almost an hour to go.
“At least there are no surveillance cameras,” said Kririah.
“That’s true. I couldn’t see myself moving around all the time on this Route 40.”
Considering what he had just said, the young teenager said to herself that he must surely have a problem with the fact of being filmed. For her part, it did not bother her at all. For her, it just meant that her driving style would be seen by everyone and immortalized. As a result, Faenys was really looking forward to the competition.
After more than an hour of driving, the duo finally arrived at their house. The young teenager immediately wanted to talk about the Racers’ King once the car stopped, but Preston interrupted her by telling her that they had to unload and put away the groceries first. As soon as that was done, Faenys returned to the topic that had been on her mind since they left the mall.
“Well, we’re home now and the groceries have been properly put away. Can we now talk about the Racers’ King?”
“It’s true that I told you we’d talk about this competition when we got home, but I don’t plan to do that now…”
“But you had said…!” she exclaimed by interrupting him.
“But I’m not going to do it until I check out some things about this event. We will thus discuss it later,” said the young man before taking the direction of his room.
Faenys yelled her older brother’s name repeatedly, but he did not turn around and continued on his way. The young teenager was frustrated by his behavior, especially since she knew he was doing it on purpose. Why did he have to go to his room to get information he could have in front of her on his phone?
In order to calm down, Kririah did the only thing she could do in this situation namely, leaving to take refuge in her baby. The young teenager left the house and headed for the container that housed her car.
Meanwhile, Zero arrived at the door of his room. The young man then pulled out from under his shirt a pearl necklace he was wearing, which his room key was attached to. Preston took a few seconds to admire the object he was holding, even feeling rather nostalgic as he looked at it. Soon after, he unlocked the door before entering the room.
Unlike Faenys’s room, Preston’s room was already furnished and already had his things in it. There was a workstation with a computer and above it was a sort of digital counter with the number “7,965,581,402” written on it. This number was constantly changing, sometimes showing a lower value in the hundreds, but always increasing as the seconds passed. Apart from that, there was also a closet full of clothes – some much more formal than others – and several bladed weapons hanging on the wall, including a Japanese katana, an Austro-Hungarian sword from the late 19th century, and tonfas…
Preston locked his door before moving to his desk where he began to research everything about the Racers’ King. It was crucial to him that this event did not come to bother him personally, but also that it was something safe. He did not want to put Faenys’s life at risk after all, although that child tended to do that herself each time she got into her car.
“I’m way too old to be a babysitter,” he thought, putting both hands to his face.
Zero who was looking for information was quite surprised when he found a website dedicated to the event. He had thought it would be much more complicated to get it, but that did not seem to be the case.
“The Racers’ King competition, um.”
As he read everything there was to know about it, he realized that most of the information coincided with what the cashier had told them at the mall. He also discovered its rules, which read as follows:
Rule No. 1: Only people who are at least 16 years of age and have the necessary abilities are allowed to participate in the Racers’ King competition.
Rule No. 2: All registrations for the Racers’ King competition must be made via the mobile application or the official website. No registration via a third-party platform will be accepted.
Rule No. 3: Any person wishing to participate in the Racers’ King must pay the quarterly registration fee amounting to the modest sum of 10,000 dollars. Failure to do so will result in denial access to the event.
Rule No. 4: Any item pledged during a race between two or more participants will be immediately returned to the winner after the race.
Rule No. 5: Racers’ King participants are solely responsible for any accidents that may occur during a race.
As he finished going through the rules of this car competition, Zero realized how problematic it could be in some ways, especially when one took the time to think about what the fifth rule actually entailed. Because of it, it was possible to use dirty tricks during a race.
“It’s impossible he didn’t find out about this before building the house,” he said to himself.
The young man then took his cell phone out of his pocket, but just as he was about to dial a number, the device suddenly started ringing, displaying a certain Daemon K. on the screen.
“It’s a good thing you’re calling, I wanted to discuss with you,” Preston retorted after picking up.
“Hello, my friend. And what did you want to discuss with me? Is there a problem with the house?”
“There’s nothing wrong with the house. It’s exactly as I expected and I’m looking forward to using the training room. The problem is with the location. Tell me Daemon, when you had chosen this city, were you aware of what was going on there?”
Zero’s interlocutor remained silent for a couple of seconds, which made him realize that he did know what was going on in Vormer City. Daemon was Zero’s best friend, and the two had known each other for over a decade. Therefore, he knew Preston’s character and also some of his tastes.
“Tell me why you came to build this house in such a place?”
“There was no better place. It’s really an ideal location for someone like you.”
“An ideal location, you say. Well, there’s one thing about your so-called ideal place that might draw attention to Faenys and, by extension, to me. Don’t forget the real reason I’m in this country,” Preston replied with a more serious tone.
“You don’t have to worry about that. Like I said, this town is a great cover for you. No one would think to look for you in a place like this.”
“I hope not. Last time something like that happened, things went south very quickly, and I had to get rid of Lancelot.”
“Something the Queen didn’t really appreciate.”
“Exactly. I wouldn’t like this to happen again, at least not now.”
“You don’t have to worry about it. As I said, Vormer City is the perfect cover for you.”
“Alright! I trust you. By the way, I need you to find some information about a person.”
“Who is it?”
Preston told him that he wanted him to find out everything he could about the mayor of Vormer City: John Carrier.
“I want everything down to the last detail,” he continued.
“Do you think he might become a problem?”
“You never know what to expect with unlimited. The best thing to do is to be prepared for any eventuality.”
“OK! You can count on me. You’ll have everything in a couple of days.”
At that very moment, loud whirring sounds were heard in Preston’s room. Daemon asked him what was going on, which he replied that it was the consequences of his action.
“What do you mean, the consequences of my actions?” he asked as Zero walked to his balcony.
From the balcony, the young man had a perfect view of part of his compound. He saw his little sister take her car – a blue GTR R35 Nismo – out of the container it was in. He then took the opportunity to tell Daemon what Faenys had just done.
“Faenys, how is she doing? Any side effects from her treatment?”
“No, nothing to report. She’s still the same as always, restless, and she only wants to do what she wants. She’s also very excited about the car competition organized by this town, but I guess you already knew what was going to happen when you built this house here, right?”
“I can’t hide anything from you.”
“Anyway, this child is doing great. Ah! She noticed the irregularities in the house, and as you can expect, she hates the picture you put in her room.”
“Did you tell her that putting the picture there was your idea?”
“There are some things she doesn’t need to know, at least not now. Now, on a more serious and important subject, how is the search for the artifact pieces coming along?”
At that very moment, the slight smile Preston had been wearing a few moments earlier was replaced by a very serious expression. It was as if, in a split second, he had become a completely different person.
“That’s why I called you in the first place. We have detected movement on the Agency and the other factions’ sides. It seems that several fragments have been discovered.”
“Do we have any idea where they are?”
“Not yet, but I’ve got all my spies on it. We should have solid information in a few days.”
“Do it as soon as possible. The orb must not fall into the hands of any of the factions, let alone the Agency. It would be the end of us all if it did.”
Daemon replied that he did not have to worry about that, and that he was on the case. He also added that as soon as he got something, he would inform her immediately.
“I’m counting on you. Let’s not waste this opportunity Accelerated has given us by sacrificing himself.”
Zero ended their conversation before returning his gaze to his little sister who was still inside her vehicle. He called out to her many times but had to raise his voice to be heard.
“What?! What’s going on?!” she exclaimed while stopping her car engine.
The way she had just answered him exasperated him a little, but he did not hold it against her. He told her to come home so that they could talk about what to do next. Faenys got out of her car and met Preston in their living room.
“Yeah, what do you want to talk to me about?”
“I finally decided to let you participate in this car competition…”
“Are you serious? You’re not kidding me, right?”
Kririah’s face lit up as Preston told her this. She could already see herself racing against the others in her car.
“However, there are a few conditions, three conditions to be more precise, that you will absolutely have to respect…,” the young man continued.
“What are they? What do I have to do?” she said while interrupting her big brother.
The first thing that the young man asked her was that she applied for self-defense classes. He made her understand that he would not always be there for her. So, she had to learn how to defend herself in case a problem arose.
“You and that story,” she said before laughing lightly. “What are the other two conditions?”
“This competition, the Racers’ King, must not affect your grades in any way. If it does…”
“You don’t have to worry about that. It won’t,” she replied, interrupting him once more.
“The third and final condition is pretty simple, but it’s also the most important. You must never involve me in this Racers’ King business. Let’s be clear from the start, I will take care of your registration for this competition as well as everything regarding your car maintenance, money is not a problem.”
The young teenager’s face lit up again. It was obvious that her older brother had a lot of money. And if he was going to invest some of that money in her and her car, then she did not need to hold back. All she had to do was exploit her vehicle to the limit.
“However, you will also have to accept the consequences of your actions. Every action you’ll take from the moment you accept my terms will have an effect. Whether they are positive or negative, it is how you handle them that will determine some of my future actions towards what you call your “baby”.”
“What…what do you mean by that?”
“It’s very simple, Faenys. If you fail to meet any of my conditions, I’ll make sure your car is wiped out of the face of this planet.”
“You…you can’t be serious.”
The young man approached Faenys and, with a very serious face, whispered in her ear that it was up to her to determine whether or not he was joking. The way he spoke to her was completely different from the previous times. To Kririah, it was as if someone other than the big brother she had always known was talking to her.
“So, do you agree to my terms?” Preston asked, holding out his hand to his little sister.
The young teenager could not help but be hesitant and wary of the hand that was extended towards her. She did not really know why, but she had the feeling that Zero was up to some sort of mischief.
“What’s wrong, Faenys? Don’t you want to participate in the Racers’ King anymore?”
“Of course, I do! Of course, I still want to participate,” she replied, finally shaking hands with her brother.
“Good! Now that we’re done with that, we can move on to the next step.”
The young man then headed for the exit door as Kririah, surprised, asked him what he was talking about.
“We’ll see what you’re really worth behind the wheel.”
At that moment, Faenys’s fighting spirit took over. She then told him that she hoped he had strong guts before following him outside.
To be continued!!!