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> [FANFIC] A Challenge for The Speed Stars, Mainly a writing exercise
  Posted: Dec 21 2012, 01:05 PM

Were you expecting something else?

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Well, years later, I'm finally back to writing fanfics.
I wish I didn't need 3 days to get this one chapter done though. I had thought up ideas for this fic beforehand, but the time I put into this was still mainly spent alternating between thinking of things to write; and trying to make what little I did get written less boring. Hopefully I managed to accomplish the latter somewhat.

As mentioned in the subtitle, this is mainly a writing exercise. You can expect this to be a relatively short fic. But unlike with my other fics where I was trying to do justice to vague visions of super-awesome plotlines I wasn't actually capable of - and which could also be considered short - I'll be trying to keep things simpler with this one, so it'll be short only because I'll actually get it finished*.

(*Wishful thinking)

Anyway, comments and feedback welcome. Feel free to point out any possible grammatical mistakes, technical inaccuracies, any way I could've written a part better, etc.

Chapter 1 - Pressure

Having won against a rather underhanded team of Lan-Evo drivers, Project D was currently gearing up to take on an Ibaraki-based team named Purple Shadow. Iketani again considered heading out there to watch the race. Getting there and back on the highways would be relatively quick, but costly. Travelling through untolled roads instead would be free, but would be slower to begin with; and who knew how bad the traffic could get on them? He resumed pondering if getting there would even be worth it. On one hand: the time spent driving to and back would be an inconvenience either way. On the other hand: he had heard rumours of the two Gods of Purple Shadow; one an unparalleled master of cornering, another of straight-out acceleration, both extremely fast overall. And some had even said that against the God of cornering, the Eight-Six of Project D would finally meet its match. Perhaps these were just the ignorant opinions of those who had never really seen Takumi Fujiwara in action, but if Project D really was up against such strong competition this time around, then Takumi's next race was one he wouldn't want to miss.

As the S13 sped on in 4th, the first corner of Akina's downhill loomed into view. Iketani began braking, shifting weight onto the front tires. Moving his left foot over to the clutch as he held the brakes down with his right, he began moving the shifter into neutral as he clutched-in, dropped to 3rd, angled his braking foot onto the throttle, gave it a quick blip and let the clutch out. As the engine finished syncing to the lower gear, the revs only bounced up slightly before they resumed dropping.
And then he downshifted into 2nd in the same manner, thus managing to successfully heel-toe on a double downshift.
He could feel the difference. The car maintained balance, the drivetrain synced up quicker, engine-deceleration resumed sooner, the brakes worked faster - everything felt more stable and responsive. Seeing his speed drop quicker than expected, Iketani let up on the brakes and coasted towards the left turn ahead. Having finally gotten decent at it after much practice, he immediately knew that once he mastered this technique, he could brake later, slow down even quicker and significantly cut down on his times. He liked the sound of that.
His progress with cornering, however, didn't leave him so enthusiastic.
Reaching the left-hander, he turned in from the outside while using a small amount of throttle, spinning the back wheels just slightly to prevent understeer. The car turned in easily. Too easily, in his opinion.
A racing magazine he'd read ages ago had taught him this basic trick to cornering in an FR; and this was another technique he'd been practicing a lot. At first he was just satisfied with how much quicker this sort of gripping was compared to using no throttle at all. Sure, it wasn't anywhere near as fast as what Takumi did, but that was four-wheel drifting. It was only natural for grip driving to be slower in comparison.
But lately he'd started to realise just how little he'd been pushing it.
As the S13 headed for the corner's apex, the response from the front tires told him he could've taken the turn faster. He wanted to speed up, but that was impossible - any more throttle would just send him into a spin at this point. Leaving the apex behind, he dialed back on the steering, gradually pressed deeper on the accelerator and struggled to accelerate as much as possible. The back wheels just wanted to slide out. Exiting the turn and pointing the car forwards, he was finally able to go full-throttle.

It felt slow to him. He wanted to go faster. He could've been using more throttle at no risk of spinning if he'd been taking the turn just a little faster. Shifting up to 3rd, he kept that in mind as he sped towards the following right-hander. Where should he brake? How fast could he really stop? He tried to judge how much later than usual his braking-point would be. His fear kept him from braking too late. Another heel-toe downshift into 2nd - the car slowed down to appropriate speeds 3/4ths of a second before entry. Was he going fast enough? Did he have room for more speed? Iketani steered in; and a momentary lapse in concentration made itself clear - he had missed his line by around 60 cm. As the apex grew closer, the outer railing threatened him.
He used more throttle in an attempt to point the nose inwards. The tail slid out, the road tugged on the steering in suggestion; Iketani countersteered as necessary while using just enough throttle to stay on his new intended line. Losing a little speed while pivoting past the apex, the S13 avoided the guardrail as it swept outwards onto the next straight. Its driver let up on the throttle, waited as the spinning slowed more; and immediately stopped countersteering. The drift stopped and he resumed full-throttle again.

A bad entry, a weak line, a clear loss of speed; and that was his fastest drift yet. He did have some experience with drifting, he could usually hold a slide around a corner if he wished to these days and recently he'd been focusing on maintaining traction more instead. The combined experience had helped him keep the sliding closer to a minimum on that one - a first for him - but that corner too had gone by slower than he'd have liked.
Ever since the challenge from the Red Suns and the last minute rescue from Akina's now famous 86, the Speed Stars regulars had been taking their driving a lot more seriously. The driver of the S13 had improved leaps and bounds compared to where he originally was, but he knew he could still improve much further.

A few corners later, Iketani spotted slow-moving taillights in the distance. Closing in on it, his headlights revealed a yellow Subaru SVX, which proceeded to simply move aside and let him through. The S13 drove on towards a right hairpin turn. Thinking back, he had seen a car make its way towards the downhill shortly before he'd started his own run. He hadn't expected to run into it though, or for it to be such an unusual choice for mountain roads either.
With another successful heel-toe downshift, the S13 proceeded to cut across the turn. A left hairpin followed. He braked; and for the first time tonight, he intentionally decided to start a drift. The Silvia gently rotated into the turn under throttle and kept its front wheels pointing out until the corner's end, where Iketani smoothly stopped the slide and resumed acceleration. As he drove away on the next straight, the SVX was suddenly right behind him.

Wha-? So quickly?
This time, Iketani moved aside to let the other car through, but it continued tailing him. Was this a challenge? The straightway neared its end; he decided to oblige this mystery opponent as both cars went bumper-to-bumper into a slight right curve. Another straight later, the SVX still kept pace as a left curve sent them towards a sharper left-hander. More corners followed; the 1600 kg Subaru kept up easily through all of them and chased the Nissan into the five consecutive hairpins, leaving Iketani desperate for more speed. The first hairpin came up. Gaining some distance as the SVX braked earlier, Iketani heel-toed twice from 4th to 2nd and cautiously waited for his speed to drop. Closing-in on the turn and realizing he was still going too fast, he kept riding the brakes and was entering the turn wide by the time he lost the excess speed. Struggling to turn, he knew he had to get on the throttle. The Silvia was barely staying on the outer lane as it got into a slight drift; the SVX drawing side-by-side during this. Desperately holding out for the car to make the turn and trying to not end up just swinging the rear-end straight out into the guardrail, the driver kept the throttle constant and saw his angle increase as the turn ended. He was again in front on the next straight; and almost couldn't believe what he'd just pulled off.
That accidental drift had started out pretty fast, but he'd still lost speed towards the end and the SVX had stayed beside him since the apex. Did that last drift really leave him with enough speed to quickly accelerate ahead? No. Whoever was driving that Subaru was clearly toying with him. Making sure to be more careful with his braking, Iketani gripped through the rest of the course with the SVX right behind, got to the end of the downhill, then switched on his hazards and rolled into the parking area. The yellow car followed.

Iketani got out of the car and looked at the SVX. A sticker on the rear-left quarter-panel read "NEW EDGE". As a short-haired man of medium height stepped out, he proceeded to greet him.
'Quite some driving back there.'
The Subaru driver smiled a little.
'Heh, yours had some moments itself. You're one of the locals, right?'
'I am; and I take it you aren't. You seem to be part of a team. Do they have business planned here?'
'Yeah, they do. Let me introduce myself. I'm Yoshito Naruse - leader of New Edge.'
'Iketani Kouichiro - leader of the Speed Stars.'
'I see. . . Are you people the only team around here?'
'Pretty much. And we haven't had many visiting drivers here in a while either. You wouldn't happen to be looking for Akina's 86 or something now, would you?'
'Hm? You mean Takumi Fujiwara - Project D's downhill ace? Hehe. . Not right now. In time: we'll go after Project D, but right now we're just going to focus our efforts on Gunma. And now you know why we're here, so let me cut to the chase. We're going to challenge your team soon.'

After further discussing the terms of the challenge and the date of the race, Iketani told Yoshito he'd talk things over with the rest of the team first; and then drove off.
Improving his downshifts, getting a slightly better idea of how to corner fast, encountering a fast opponent, nearly managing a fast slide specifically without intending to, having his team challenged by the leader of another - everything that happened on this practice run left many thoughts running through his mind as he drove back home.

Ugh, I need to get better at writing dialogue. That conversation could've been written so much better facepalm.gif
Well, that's chapter 1 finally done with. Again, comments and feedback welcome.

By the way, would anyone happen to know which course Team Thunderfire races on?

This post has been edited by Meteor on Dec 21 2012, 01:09 PM
Posted: Dec 21 2012, 01:35 PM

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i don't know that Thunder Fire has an official home course since they only show up like four times in the anime.
Posted: Dec 21 2012, 01:36 PM

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Very nice and well written!! I really enjoyed how much detail is provided. You got skills and i can't wait to read more!
Posted: Dec 21 2012, 04:25 PM

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Aiya! Meteor! Writing again? After all these years? And he says he's not that amazing? Blasphemy! BLASPHEMY! Sir, this is amazing. I love it. If anything, I need to step up my game and really really really get back into writing. The amount of detail that you put in is nothing short of beautiful, I'm looking forward to you finishing this story. Are there any plans to finish any of your other projects at this rate?

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Posted: Dec 22 2012, 01:31 AM

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I was gonna suggest you to write a fanfic but looks like you did it before I could send a PM. A good proofreader should be a good author too. awesome.gif

And sure enough,I was right.
This is apparently better than mine.Especially the way you wrote the heel-and-toe downshift scene.
. Moving his left foot over to the clutch as he held the brakes down with his right, he began moving the shifter into neutral as he clutched-in, dropped to 3rd, angled his braking foot onto the throttle, gave it a quick blip and let the clutch out. As the engine finished syncing to the lower gear, the revs only bounced up slightly before they resumed dropping.
And then he downshifted into 2nd in the same manner, thus managing to successfully heel-toe on a double downshift.
He could feel the difference. The car maintained balance, the drivetrain synced up quicker, engine-deceleration resumed sooner, the brakes worked faster - everything felt more stable and responsive.

This could be a reference for me. I'll try to come up with something like this. smile.gif
  Posted: Dec 22 2012, 06:40 AM

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Writing exercise my @$$!!
The race scene, even though it's just Iketani is totally hot on the dot.
I wonder how the Speedstars gonna handle it without Takumi to help them out.

And BTW thunder-who? (lol)
Posted: Jan 10 2013, 07:07 PM

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It would be interesting to see itsuki have his first battle
Posted: Feb 1 2013, 07:22 AM

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Well, for a so-called experiment, this is not a bad start at all. I have very few hopefully constructive things to point out.

One, the numbers like, for instance, when mentioning the gears (2nd, 3rd, 4th...) should be written in full. The only numbers that style-wise are acceptable are the ones that are part of a name (like the S12) everything else should be in letters.

Another thing (but knowing you it's probably done on purpose) is the length of the sentences. They're very short. As if you want to increase emphasis. And it works. Clearly. happy.gif

Asides from that and since you mentioned the fact that you'd like to improve the dialogue, I'm only brave enough to make a humble suggestion and show you how I would have written it:


As a short-haired man of medium height stepped out, he proceeded to greet him.

'Quite some driving back there,' Iketani said as neutrally as possible.
'Heh, yours had some moments itself.' the Subaru driver said smiling a little,'you're one of the locals, right?'
'I am,' Iketani confirmed, 'and I take it you aren't,' he ventured, 'you seem to be part of a team, do they have business planned here?'
'Yeah, they do,' the guy replied, 'let me introduce myself. I'm Yoshito Naruse - leader of New Edge.'
'Iketani Kouichiro - leader of the Speed Stars,' Iketani supplied.
'I see. . . Are you people the only team around here?' Naruse asked him.
'Pretty much' Iketani replied, 'and we haven't had many visiting drivers here in a while either. You wouldn't happen to be looking for Akina's 86 or something now, would you?'
'Hm? You mean Takumi Fujiwara - Project D's downhill ace?' Naruse asked then, without waiting for an answer, he chuckled before he replied to Iketani's question, 'not right now. In time: we'll go after Project D, but right now we're just going to focus our efforts on Gunma. And now you know why we're here, so let me cut to the chase. We're going to challenge your team soon.'

I really hope you don't mind, you're an excellent writer and nit-picking your work feels plain wrong!

At any rate, I'm looking forward to the next chapter so, please update whenever possible.

This post has been edited by Sanae on Feb 1 2013, 07:23 AM
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Posted: Feb 8 2013, 05:36 PM

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I've always wanted to see Iketani's start into the Speed Stars. He is basically the one who forced Takumi into the racing world.
  Posted: Apr 5 2013, 07:54 AM

Were you expecting something else?

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Took me over 4 weeks of writing.... BUT IT'S FINALLY DONE.

@FC_Spec: Thanks, glad you liked the details. Hope you'll like this chapter too.

@CG2: Heh, we both have stuff we could learn from each other. You'll be at least twice as good as me if you really step up your game though. And yes, you really really really do need to get back to writing. Too bad you're so busy these days....
As for your question: once I get this fic done, I might start up another one. And later on I might end up trying to get Ghost of Akagi - Remix going again, but don't count on it yet.

@Nicholas86: Saved you some work then didn't I? tongue.gif And thank you. So when's the next chapter of your fic coming out?

@HyperSonic: It's a writing exercise? Yes it's a writing exercise. Glad you liked the race scene. Also, I wouldn't mind seeing an update to your fic either. I hear you're pretty busy yourself though. Here's hoping you and CG2 get a whole lotta free time soon.

@Sanae: Why the hell would I mind? You have no idea how much that helped me with writing this chapter, especially that example of how to make the dialogue look better. Thank you very much. And keep on nitpicking, because damn are your nitpicks ever helpful, which is really quite natural when you're ONE OF THE BEST INITIAL D FANFIC WRITERS EVAR. I'm gonna make some edits to Chapter 1 later on and see if I can make things better or not. Also, next chapter of Planetarium WHEN?

@justputitonmytab: Well, that's certainly an interesting idea, but I'm just not ready to make something good out of it; and I don't even see how it could be worked into this particular fic, so unfortunately you won't be seeing something like that here. I do hope a good writer goes to work with that idea though. I think I'd like reading it.

Thanks to all of you here who left me some feedback. You people are pretty much the only reason I bothered putting this chapter together. Anyway, here's Chapter 2, more than 3 months late derp.gif
It didn't turn out as great as I was hoping it would; and it gets rushed in plenty of places because I didn't want to spend even more time on it and didn't have the best idea of how to make things better, but hopefully you'll still enjoy reading it.

Goddamn did this chapter turn out way longer than I ever thought it would. Fun fact: It originally had even more stuff written in it, but when I clicked Preview, it told me the post was just way too long and that I couldn't post it laugh2.gif
I seriously didn't know I'd actually typed up that much. Didn't even know I was actually capable of writing a post so XBOX HUEG in length.
So anyway, that's one or two weeks gone to writing stuff that didn't even make it into the chapter; and one or two weeks not spent working on the stuff that did make it into chapter 2. But at least I already have stuff for Chapter 3 then.

Meh, I suck at this "talking to the readers" stuff. Here's Chapter 2 already.

Chapter 2 - Performance Driving

The following day, Iketani arrived at the gas station and again resumed wondering how he'd break the news to the team. Around a year after the challenge from the Red Suns, the Akina Speed Stars had finally received their second challenge; and Iketani found it to be just as frightening a prospect as the first. He had improved - the team as a whole had improved - but the driver he'd encountered last night was certainly no slouch.
Should he accept the challenge? Or should they simply forfeit? Would the team even want to accept? Iketani was once again thinking along these lines as a white AE85 Levin pulled into his workplace and parked itself; its driver stepping out wearing the station's uniform.
'Morning Iketani!' Itsuki energetically greeted his senior with right hand raised. That guy almost never seemed to start off a day on anything other than the brightest of moods, Iketani thought. What was his secret?
And with a quieter 'Morning Itsuki.' He gave a friendly return to that greeting. And then he wondered if he should tell him about the challenge right now. As Itsuki made his way over to the fuel pumps, Iketani decided that for the time being, he'd wait and see if Kenji would come here this morning as well before saying anything about it.

'Project D's next race is gonna be in Ibaraki, right? Man are they making good time.'
And with that, Itsuki broke him out of his thoughts.
'Ah, yeah. They really are being pretty quick with this.' Iketani responded as his brain readjusted to the conversation at hand.
'Seriously, Takumi and that Keisuke Takahashi are just unstoppable!' Itsuki exclaimed. 'They've even taken on an actual racing school; and Takumi's even won against a real professional racer! All of Project D's next races are in the bag, guaranteed.'
And with that enthusiastic outburst, Iketani's mood lightened considerably.
'Heh, you might be onto something there Itsuki. Next race sounds like it might be another close one, but we both know Project D's gonna pull through again.'
'Damn right they are!' Itsuki concluded. 'But what's that about the next race being close though?'
'Well,' Iketani explained, 'what I've heard is that the next two drivers are both really fast to begin with; and that one of them just flies through corners at insane speeds while the other one takes off like a rocket on every straight. And apparently people have actually seen them drive like that. Some people are even saying that Project D might lose this one.' And that was the end of the explanation. 'We both know better though.' He then added.
'Yeah!' Itsuki fully agreed. 'So they've got someone who's really good at cornering? Project D's got Akina's Eight-Six! Try and beat THAT!'
And the conversation paused as both Itsuki and Iketani spotted a grey sedan coming into the station - their first customer of the day.

'Takumi sure left us behind though, huh?' Itsuki resumed; catching Iketani's attention as the car they serviced got back on road. 'And here we once used to think of him as that hopeless spacecase when it came to anything on wheels.'
'Hah, did we ever! He even screamed like crazy the first time we took him up Akina.' Came Iketani's reply. 'But that was just because my driving plain sucked....' He recounted - his voice trailing off as he did so.
'And then there was the time we asked him what a drift was; and he was all "you let the front go out so you don't go too far in".' Itsuki recounted while performing his best Takumi impression - even mimicking his steering gestures from back then. 'We both laughed real hard back then, didn't we?'
'Yeah.... That we did....'
'And only now are we starting to get it...' Itsuki concluded. Then he began again.
'And then there was the time I kept talking about how I'd get a red Levin and me and Takumi would go be the legendary super downhillers of Akina.'
Having switched to a less sunny disposition at the drop of a hat, the younger of the two continued. 'Now Takumi's off driving for Project D. And I'm stuck with the wrong kind of Levin.' Now his voice trailed off too.

'Wow was I ever a moron.....' Itsuki then concluded, bringing about an awkward silence.

'So... Uh... You're not saying you're getting tired of your Eight-Five already, are you?' Iketani queried.
'Wha-?' Itsuki sputtered. 'No, no! NO WAY! I've got a turbo in that thing and it's loads of fun now! The thing spools up and it just goes "whoosh!" and runs real fast and I keep learning something every time I drive it and...... OH MAN MY EIGHT-FIVE'S SO COOOOOL! IT'S AWESOME, I STILL CAN'T GET USED TO IT, NO WAY AM I GETTING SICK OF THAT CAR, DON'T YOU EVEN ASK ME SOMETHING LIKE THAT NOW!'
And there, back to normal.
'So what's got Itsuki all riled up?' Came the voice of the station's manager Yuuichi Tachibana, who'd decided to step out and check up on the two gearheads present among his employees.
'N-nothing, Boss. Good morning.' Itsuki replied with nervous laughter. Iketani filled him in anyway though; and a discussion about the Eight-Five soon ensued.

'But anyway, with how quickly Project D's been doing things, how long's it gonna take till they beat everyone?' Itsuki resumed after they finished discussing his Eight-Five and matters related to it.
'Good question.' Yuuichi noted. 'They've been through two prefectures already; and there aren't much more left within reasonable distance. And I get the feeling they never really planned to go to every single mountain in Japan either. So.... Can't give you an exact answer, but Project D's probably going to get through every prefecture on their list before the year is out at the rate they're going.'
'And then what's gonna happen? Does Project D just end then?' Iketani pondered.
'Who knows what that Ryousuke Takahashi really has planned?' Yuuichi set about answering again. 'I guess after Project D's done with their expeditions, there won't be much point in keeping the team running any longer. But with their leader and their drivers being who they are, I don't think they're just gonna disappear into the shadows after all that's done. Or at least, I wouldn't want them to end just like that.'
'Yeah.' Iketani agreed.

'And speaking of that:' Iketani then set about mentioning, 'plenty of people here have been wondering if Akagi's White Comet's really retired for good, too. Him just stepping out of the limelight just didn't feel right to a lot of people, especially after he and Takumi raced on Akina and showed everyone the best damn drifting ever.'
And he had gotten to see it too, since someone had gotten some footage of their race all those months ago. Kenji had managed to bring them a copy a few days after it happened; and watching it still sent chills down their spines.
'Then there was the time the Red Suns battled the Emperors,' he continued, 'and Ryousuke Takahashi got a solid victory over their leader, set a new course record while he was at; and later raced with Takumi again on Akagi. Both races left people with no doubt that he still had it in him.' Iketani paused a little. 'They've all been wanting to see him race again; and some of them think he might even end up racing Takumi for the last time once Project D ends. To see once and for all who's the fastest.'

'C.. Could that really happen?' Itsuki asked wide-eyed.

'Who knows?' Iketani replied. 'It's all really just speculation at this point; and we aren't going to know anything till Project D actually wraps up. All we really know now is just that a lot of people want to see that showdown happen.'
'It'd certainly be something.' Yuuichi noted.
'It would.' Iketani agreed.
'Yeah.' Itsuki joined in.

'Speaking of showdowns though,' Itsuki continued, 'I've been wondering how good Keisuke Takahashi's gotten. We all know they're both fast; and Takumi once mentioned something about his improvements too one time we hung out. What if a showdown really does happen; and they're the ones who end up racing?'
'Mhm, they've been wondering about that one too;' Iketani mentioned, 'and I have to say it sounds slightly more likely. He never did get to run a close race against the 86; and they all say he's faster than ever now, so I can easily see him deciding to challenge Takumi again and have a real battle with him once they're done being teammates.'
'Exactly.' Went Itsuki. 'And imagine if it actually happened. Project D's double aces against each other, Takumi going up against his very first opponent, Keisuke Takahashi taking on the only person he's ever lost to, both of them now the fastest racers to ever set foot on the mountains... That rematch is just begging to happen! And it'd be the greatest ever, too.' He concluded. 'Though Akina's Eight-Six VS Akagi's White Comet certainly wouldn't be bad either.' He then added.
'You certainly got that right.' Iketani agreed. 'Either way though, we don't know what's really in store after Project D ends.'
'That we don't.' Yuuichi confirmed. 'But whatever happens, someone of Takumi's level shouldn't be stuck just getting into street races afterwards.'
'YEAH!' Came Itsuki's approval of that sentiment. 'He's already beaten an actual pro! He can totally make it in the pro world!'
'He's definitely too good to stay a road racer forever.' Iketani agreed.

The three of them then continued talking among themselves for a while longer. Yuuichi eventually stepped back inside, however; and Itsuki and Iketani ended up with a few more customers to tend to as well. The flow of customers soon slowed again though. And by the next hour, the only car currently making it's way over to them ended up being a certain white 180SX, signalling that Kenji had decided to show up to the station this morning as well (as he usually did despite not even working there).

'Yo~~~' Came Kenji's greeting once he stepped out of his car.
'Morning Kenji.' Itsuki happily greeted back.
'Welcome, dear customer.' Iketani joked. 'What can I do for you today?'
'Knock it off, Iketani.' Came the amused answer. 'So what's up? Are we three heading to Akina tonight? Because I can make it.'
'Sweet! I'm there too.' Itsuki replied.
'Same here.' Iketani followed.

And now that the Speed Stars' top three were fully gathered here, Iketani decided that now would be a good time to try easing into his announcement.

'About that though:' he continued in as relaxed a manner as possible, 'now that both of you guys are here, there are a few things I wanted to ask you two regarding our team. That okay?'
'Questions regarding our team, huh?' Kenji responded. 'Well, fire away then.'
'Yeah. Go ahead.' Itsuki joined in.
'Alright.' Iketani began. 'First off, suppose another team ended up challenging us on our home course. A good one too. How do you think we'd do against them right now?'
Both of them thought about it for a bit. Kenji was the first to respond.
'We do know Akina pretty well,' he set about answering, 'but you're saying they're a good team, right? Well, "good" probably doesn't describe us yet. Although we have gotten a lot faster compared to where we were before when you think about it, we're still really a little on the slow side. And you have to admit, the cars we drive aren't exactly very fast either. A good team would probably be driving much better cars; and they'd be driving better than us too, so.... Yeah, I don't see ourselves winning.'
And Kenji stopped there.
'Well, I think Kenji's got it.' Went Itsuki. 'We're not really gonna stand much of a chance. So what's this about anyway?' He then asked.
'I'll get to that a little later.' Iketani explained; and then promptly wondered if he might have said too much too early. This might not go as smoothly as he wanted it to, he thought, but he decided to push ahead anyway now that he'd started this. 'And now: second question. If you were supposed to race against a team like that, would you go through with it? Or would you just back out and give them the win?'

As Iketani waited for a response, Kenji and Itsuki both resumed wondering what this was really about before switching to thinking about the question. Itsuki responded first this time.
'I'd race if I had to.' He answered. 'Even if we wouldn't stand a chance, it'd be bad if we just ran away from a challenge like that, right?'
Kenji had flashbacks to when he was set to race Keisuke Takahashi in place of an injured Iketani; and how scared he was just lining up beside the FD at the starting line. Being in his car terrified him more than anything at that point. He knew he'd stand no chance; and he was standing in for someone better than himself too. He would have lost that race. The team's loss would've been on his hands. He was so glad when it turned out the Eight-Six Iketani talked about had decided to show up and race for the Speed Stars after all.
But he knew that with the Speed Stars counting on him to race, he hadn't wanted to back out.
'I'd race too.' Kenji agreed. 'Honestly, If I had to race an opponent like that, I'd be terrified. I wouldn't even want to be there. But backing out of the race and just giving them the win would be worse, so I'd get out there and drive anyway.'

'I see all three of us have the same opinion then...' Iketani concluded. 'So...' He pushed on with this. 'Last question: Have either one of you heard about this team called New Edge?'

As Itsuki began wondering if he'd ever heard the name before, Kenji spoke up.
'I think I see what's going on here.' He stated. 'This challenge you're talking about is for real, isn't it?'
Itsuki was visibly surprised as he now realised that possibility; and a momentary silence took over as Iketani adjusted to being found out.
'Yeah...' He finally answered.

'So it's those guys, huh?' Kenji guessed next.
Iketani nodded.
'Yeah, I've heard about them before.' He continued. 'They're a new team that formed sometime last month over in Saitama prefecture; and their home course is on Maze.' Kenji set about explaining.
'Maze?' Itsuki asked. 'Isn't that the place where Takumi had that rain battle recently?'
'Yeah, same road.' He confirmed. 'And they've been making a name for themselves since a while ago by beating everyone else on that course, including any visiting drivers that take them on. One of them even drove down Myougi a few days back and beat a few of the Night Kids in the process, so even people here in Gunma have been talking about them lately.'
'So they've been winning and winning and now they're even racing in Gunma.' Itsuki rewinded. 'Did they even end up beating the guy Takumi raced on Maze?
'Can't say I've heard anything about that,' Kenji admitted, 'but probably not. They run there practically every night; and they've had some time attacks before too, but so far I've heard they're as much as three seconds away from Project D's downhill record for that course, though they are slowly cutting their times. The guy Takumi raced stayed close by to the end, so I don't think they're fast enough to beat him yet.'
'So they're not insanely fast like some of the drivers Project D have been up against.' Itsuki noted. 'But three seconds away from Takumi's record is still something. We'd be lucky just to get four.'
'That we would.' Iketani agreed. 'This isn't going to be easy for us at all.'

Iketani momentarily stayed silent as he remembered the car he'd encountered just last night, but then he found himself with something to ask again.

'Do you know anything else, Kenji?' Came the question as he hoped to know what else he could expect on the day of the challenge.
'All I know besides that is they've got two aces themselves; and that the leader drives an SVX while the other one drives an SW20. And that's all I've got. I don't know about their driving styles or how much power they're making or anything like that; if you wanted to ask.'
'Wait. Did you just say SVX?' Itsuki then asked.
'Yeah. A Subaru Alcyone SVX.' Kenji confirmed.
'But.... Aren't those things pretty bad for racing?' Itsuki continued. 'Sure, they've got over 200 horsepower stock, but they only come in automatic. And they're heavy on top of that. I've even heard the engines and transmissions overheat easily and that the bearings on the rear wheels don't last long. Someone's actually fast in one?'
'I asked myself the same thing, really.' Kenji admitted. 'I've never heard of an SVX being fast anywhere, let alone on the mountains.'
'What Itsuki just said is almost all true.' Iketani took over. 'They weigh something like 1600 kg and only come in auto, the transmissions can have issues; and the engine actually can't send oil to some of the cylinders when it's revving above 4000 RPMs. The only thing he got wrong was the bit about the bearings. That was just a problem with the packing grease when the car first came out; and they dealt with that issue fairly quickly. But the transmissions just need a cheap and simple fix on the wiring that's nothing more than installing better resistor packs; and some people have dealt with the engine's issues before by simply swapping in other ones. Once those problems are taken care of, you have an aerodynamic AWD that revs properly and, despite its weight, still doesn't handle too bad. The automatic transmission would still slow it down, but it's not unbelievable that someone's getting an SVX to run fast without breaking it.'
That explanation from him ended up leaving the other two Speed Stars impressed.
'So that's how it is....' Kenji finally spoke up. 'Damn. How do you even know all that?'
'I ended up having to work on a few before.' Iketani answered.

'So an AWD and an MR, huh?' Itsuki resumed.
'Yeah. We've certainly got our work cut out for us as FR drivers.' Kenji stated. 'If we're good enough, we might be able to keep up with those going into corners, but those layouts would still have an edge over ours accelerating out of them - especially the AWD.'

'So when did we get this challenge, Iketani?' Kenji now asked.

'I was out on Akina last night;' Iketani began, 'and an SVX I came across just let me through. Then it caught up to me after two hairpins and kept chasing me. I couldn't get away at all; and he tailed me all the way to the end of the downhill. We both stopped there, we talked, he asked if we were the only team on Akina; and then he said his team would be challenging us soon. They've actually got their sights set on taking on Project D, so they're planning to beat every team in Gunma and work their way up from there. And we're the first team they picked.'

'We're just a warmup for them, aren't we?' Kenji said after a moment's silence. 'And even you think we don't stand a chance, don't you?'
'I don't even know.' Iketani admitted. 'I don't know exactly how fast they are, I don't know just how far away we are from their level, I don't even know if their leader was pushing it at all when he stuck behind me through the whole course. All we can really do is just practice like crazy and hope it helps us at all.'

'Yeah.. That's really all we can do.' Kenji responded. 'Especially since we don't want to drag Takumi into racing for us again, after all.'
'No, that we don't.' Iketani agreed. 'We've relied on him too much as it is; and he's already busy racing for Project D now.'
'That's right.' Itsuki spoke up. 'We have to do this ourselves. We'll practice as much as we can and race them with all we have.'
'But how much time do we even have before then?' Kenji then asked.
'Just until this Saturday.' Iketani responded.
'So we have only 5 days to work with...' Kenji noted. 'I don't even know if we can really get anywhere in that short amount of time. But it's not like we've never been in this situation before...'
'Yeah. We don't really have much time.' Iketani admitted. 'But we're gonna have to make the most of it. Even if we lose, I want to at least stay close to them till the finish.'
'I know what you mean.' Kenji continued. 'But do you really think you can get that fast in just five days though, Iketani?'

'Truth is, I think I came across a breakthrough in my driving last night.' He answered. 'Maybe it's still not enough to help, but I'm definitely gonna be faster than before if I keep working at it, so it's worth a shot. I've already started figuring out places where I keep losing time; and tonight I'm thinking I'm finally gonna get something done about it.'
Even if Iketani wasn't confident about the upcoming race, he was clearly confident about this.
'So are we still meeting at Akina tonight?' Iketani continued. 'If I get some of that stuff figured out, I might be able to teach you guys a few things already.' He said with even more of that sudden confidence. Kenji and Itsuki were again wondering just what was up.

'You sound like you might actually be onto something, Iketani.' Itsuki eventually spoke up. 'But anyway, I'm still going. So whatever it is, I hope you're right about it. Because I'm going to be pretty disappointed if you're not.'
'What he said.' Went Kenji. 'So, want me to let the others know about this?'
'Better sooner than later.' Iketani answered.

Kenji left some minutes afterwards, leaving the other two Speed Stars to themselves. Said two set off for Akina once closing time rolled around several hours later and, while the driver of the Levin was dreading the upcoming race as much as anyone else on the team, for the time being he was also looking forward to tonight's Speed Stars meeting. As bad as their chances were, the thought of seeing the whole team together, practicing like mad with them, learning what he could, sharing tips and getting faster till the day of the race was currently filling him with excitement. And he was also waiting to see this "breakthrough" that Iketani had mentioned earlier in the day.
Soon they reached the base of the mountain; and then the S13 immediately took off with no warning. The Eight-Five behind it fell back in an instant before Itsuki could react and floor it himself, making his turbocharger start whistling as it spooled away, hit max boost; and blasted enough power to the rear wheels to keep the lighter hatchback close to the Silvia in front of it.
Iketani was clearly fired up for this.
There was a left V-turn ahead. Itsuki knew it from memory and anticipated it as the S13 led him through the preceding straightaway at full throttle. Their surroundings began to hint at its proximity; and Itsuki suddenly noticed that they were heading for it at a pace far faster than he'd ever driven at. He'd already be braking at this point. As his mind screamed at him to slow down and the S13 ahead of him steadily pulled away, it took him all he had just to not step off the throttle.

Iketani finally braked; and the Silvia leaned forward as it began losing speed. Listening to the revs drop, he prepared himself and heel-toed as quickly as he could, smoothly dropping into third gear as his brakes continued to bleed off speed and his braking room grew ever shorter. The revs soon dropped low enough again, prompting another heel-toe downshift that sent the transmission down to second as the brakes continued bleeding off excess speed till the car was almost right at the turn. He finished his braking with a little room to spare, coasted slightly, then began angling himself towards the apex and found the car turning too easily again. Like always, he'd entered a corner slower than the car, its tires and even his own skill allowed. And he knew it.
Seeing how much space he had left on the inside, he tightened his line past the apex to give himself a straighter line onto the next straight, intending to salvage some speed on his way out of the turn through being able to push the pedal down further. Iketani turned most of the way into the exit, then reduced his steering and smoothly increased throttle, accelerating the Silvia back onto the outer lane as he and Itsuki left that corner behind.

With the Eight-Five's turbo spooling back up and the Silvia starting to get away again, Itsuki kept his foot flat on the floor as he waited for the turbo to kick back in. But now the practice sessions he'd been so enthusiastic about earlier left him feeling fear instead. The idea would be to drive as hard as they could - going full throttle for as long as possible, braking hard at the very last second; and slowing down just in time to make the corner before turning around it as fast as possible and taking off at full throttle again. And actually experiencing this made him less eager to try.
He'd already ridden with Takumi before; and even twice in this same Eight-Five. He knew the pace they were at now was nothing compared to his. But when Takumi drove, Itsuki always knew the car was in good hands; and that alone helped him keep most of his fear down no matter how fast the car was being thrown into a corner. Now all control was in his hands. Whether he drove too fast or not, whether he braked too late or not, whether he pushed or spun, whether he crashed or just came to a stop - all of it would be decided by his own actions; and a single wrong move could be costly.
The turbocharger blasted full power to the back wheels again, pushing Itsuki back in his seat as the Eight-Five tried its best to get back on the Silvia's tail. Next up was the same corner where Ryousuke Takahashi had finally met defeat; and Itsuki's mind screamed at him ever louder to hit the brakes already. The S13 ahead of him began braking; and the Eight-Five caught up a little as its driver inadvertently ended up braking slightly later. As the Silvia made its way into the right turn, the Levin driver did his best to keep up; and he floored it as soon as he could to shorten the turbo lag. Hearing the turbocharger spool up, Itsuki let off the throttle slightly on what had become instinct, dialed back on his steering, got the car as close to straight as he could, then floored it again. His Eight-Five quickly got back to full boost and resumed its desperate attempt to catch the Silvia ahead of it.

The fear Itsuki felt intensified as he kept driving at this pace with only the slightest clues to what he was actually doing. All the driving he'd done before always left him slightly nervous, but this was the first time he was ever really pushing it. He wasn't driving purely for fun anymore, but was now struggling to get up the mountain as fast as he could and dreading every turn on Akina for the first time in his life. But as the S13 in front kept its distance from him; and a smaller voice in his head told him he could manage this pace, he kept wanting to not get left behind. It was the only reason he hadn't simply let off the throttle already.
As Iketani braked for the left turn up next, Itsuki again reacted slightly late and caught up a little further as he stepped on the brakes. This time, he noticed it himself; and a small part of his fear disappeared, replaced with the fact that he might be able to close the gap even more if he just sharpened his braking.

Iketani gripped through the left turn, again aiming to reach the car's limits and coming a little short. But this time it felt like he might've been a little faster than normal. The line he'd taken on it had felt good; and he'd been able to keep the revs at a decent range going around the apex, which soon paid off on the exit. There was another turn right ahead and he wanted to try his luck on that one as well, but as he noticed the Eight-Five lagging behind in his mirrors, he felt he may have gotten a little ahead of himself; and began braking a little earlier and lighter before driving into the right curve. He'd take this turn a little slow; and stay slow afterwards until Itsuki caught up again.
But as he rounded the turn, he was surprised to find the Levin already back on his tail; and resumed his previous pace. He'd slow down again if the Eight-Five had problems keeping up, but so long as Itsuki could stay reasonably close, Iketani decided he'd continue driving as fast as he could. As he tried to reach maximum speed on the following right and left turns, however, Itsuki ended up surprising him again by still hanging right on his tail; and Iketani now felt he definitely had to kick it up a notch. This had now turned into an impromptu race as the Silvia driver decided that trying to get some distance on the Levin chasing him would be good practice.

After all, yesterday's challenger had tailed him with far more ease. He wouldn't stand a chance if he kept driving as slow as he currently was.

The Eight-Five lost ground again before its turbo regained full boost and resumed forcing the agonizingly slow engine to produce half-decent amounts of power and torque, preventing it from instantly losing its quarry as both cars now painstakingly tried to build speed on a long uphill straight. But the S13 still slowly pulled away. Turbocharging the once carbureted 3A-U - having first converted it to electronic fuel injection to make that setup cheaper and more efficient - and getting the 82 hp engine to over 135 hp had taken a lot of work and had indeed made the Eight-Five faster than ever, but all those additional components had also bumped its weight from 885 kg to over 910. With the CA18DET in the 1120 kg S13 making 173 hp, the white hatchback was still losing out in power-to-weight ratio.
What it wasn't losing in, however, was braking distance.
The straight neared its end and the gap quickly narrowed as both cars slowed down for the left hairpin ahead. Itsuki stared wide eyed at the S13 as he nervously matched its pace around the corner before accelerating after it again towards a right V-turn, where the gap shrunk further under braking. Then the S13 began turning; Itsuki's eyes and hands made his car follow; and the AE85 managed to drive into the turn on roughly the same line as the Silvia but ended up losing ground again even before reaching the exit. The Eight-Five driver had been keeping up well so far despite never having driven this fast before, but it was more due to reacting to the car in front than it was his skill and experience. Now that Iketani had started getting a better feel for the car's limits and managed a lucky turn as a result, the difference showed - there were subtleties to his steering and footwork that reflexes alone would not help Itsuki notice or imitate - and while the Eight-Five still cleared the turn faster than it normally would, the S13 had again reopened the gap.
Aided by its exit speed, the Levin's RPMs quickly got it back to full boost as it resumed its desperate chase. As Itsuki watched with his foot to the floor, the faster Silvia slowly increased the gap to a whole car-length, then slightly more as it sped in third gear towards another right V-turn before hitting the brakes again and downshifting back to second. The gap instantly shrunk before Itsuki hit the brakes himself, trying to keep his foot just off the locking point as the S13's rear bumper quickly drew close and the Eight-Five just barely avoided hitting it. Then the S13 turned in; and the Eight-Five again followed through naturally delayed reactions. Iketani resumed pulling away as a short straight led them to a left V-turn.

Now heading for a right turn, Iketani had taken notice of how this little battle had been playing out. He was getting some distance on corners and straightways, but the AE85 had been getting back on his tail whenever he had to brake. He was losing on braking distance, either because of his car or his own skill; and he also simply wasn't cornering fast enough to make up for that.
Itsuki cautiously delayed his braking again and caught back up before steering into the turn, fully alert and trying not to panic as fear coursed through his mind and adrenaline coursed through his veins. He got on the throttle and the turbo resumed building boost, its familiar whistle prompting him to lift his foot slightly before the increased available torque could spin him; and then he floored it out of the turn, quickly reaching maximum boost as he took off after the S13. Driving at this pace was taking everything he had. He was amazed he was even managing it.
And in addition to the fear, he was even starting to get a thrill from it.
They were now on a straight leading towards the five hairpins; and the S13 slowly pulled away as usual. Itsuki still wanted to catch it; and as much as it was scaring him, he was liking how much speed he was getting out of his Eight-Five just by chasing another car. If he could keep this up, he'd definitely get way faster in just a few days; and as that pleasant thought ran through his head, he continued pushing on even with how afraid he felt trying to keep control at these speeds.

Iketani had to hand it to him, the Levin driver had been doing a great job of keeping up. But as the end of the straight drew ever nearer, he decided he'd end this on the next five turns. Getting as far to the outside as he could, he looked at the left hairpin ahead and prepared to brake as late as possible. The previous corners had helped him better judge how quickly his car could stop; and Iketani pulled off his sharpest braking yet, only decreasing brake pressure a little towards the end as he felt the Silvia was close to slowing down enough. The previous corners having also helped him explore the tires' limits, he had judged his entry speed well. And as the Silvia began turning in on a decent line, Iketani used just enough throttle to make the rotation easier, then raised the revs as high as the rear tires could hold before finishing the turn and flooring it towards the next hairpin. Braking for the right corner, the Eight-Five couldn't even close the gap before the Silvia turned in again and gained even more distance.
The third hairpin went by. The fourth followed. The Eight-Five was now far behind the Silvia's mirrors, but Iketani knew he still wasn't being fast enough. He could tell his line didn't use enough of the road and that his cornering didn't make enough use of the tires. He could tell this wouldn't be enough to beat that SVX.
And yet, just driving at this pace was taking every ounce of his skill.
The fifth hairpin came up and Iketani braked later than ever. As braking room kept shrinking, he grabbed the shifter, heel-toed back into second and kept braking as he neared the turn while waiting for his speed to drop just enough. He felt the car slowing, he felt it finally slow down enough, then noticed he was right before the turn as he released the brakes and quickly steered inwards. He turned in, aiming for an out-in-out line that his delayed reaction had given a sharper entry to; and he felt it in a tenth of a second as his car hesitated to turn fast enough, prompting his foot to descend further on the throttle.
The rear wheels slipped.
Iketani was suddenly steering outwards as the rear tires swept across the road, trying to scrub off momentum in a state of reduced grip. The sudden steering had unsettled them just enough for the increased throttle to break them loose; and now he was stuck being very careful with the throttle as he tried to keep the front from going either too far in or too far out. Sliding past the apex and out to the exit, he finally killed his sideways momentum, leaving him with a good deal of his velocity gone as he floored it and struggled to rebuild the speed he'd lost. The Eight-Five quickly caught back up as they left the hairpins behind. All the distance he'd earned had been erased through a single mistake.
Iketani stayed at full throttle, trying to rebuild the gap as soon as possible as the Eight-Five still closely tailed him. The current straight led them to a left turn, after which the S13 resumed pulling away again, but as Iketani looked at the Levin struggling to keep up in his mirrors, he decided this race had gone on long enough and eased up on the throttle to let Itsuki catch back up. As much as he wanted to keep reaching for higher speeds, he knew there'd be several more practice runs later and that he'd learned enough from this one. The S13 held back on straights throughout the rest of the uphill as Iketani focused entirely on his cornering and the Levin driver nervously followed his lead; and the Speed Stars members gathered at the peak soon heard two engines approaching at decent revs as the two cars accelerated out of the final turn and made their way over to them.

Itsuki sat still in the now shut off Eight-Five and took a much needed breather. It was over. He'd actually driven up Akina at a pace like that; at speeds that made even the shallowest bends feel dangerous; and he'd pulled it off all the way through. He almost couldn't believe it. He was elated at having managed it, glad that it had ended; and still overwhelmed by the whole experience.
Over in the S13, Iketani mulled over what he'd done right, what he'd done wrong; and what would be the best way to use tonight's practice runs. He wanted to brake sharper, corner faster, take better lines and be more consistent; and he especially wanted to recreate that fluke of a drift he'd pulled off running from the SVX. If he could get any good at all at that sort of cornering, he'd be driving at speeds close to what Takumi would manage. He'd be winning the upcoming battle for sure. But could he do it? Would it even be wise to try? He still hadn't figured out how he'd even done it. What if trying to force out that sort of cornering just led to him crashing the S13 for the second time?
Maybe he could try practicing drifting faster and faster until he eventually managed it, but he immediately rejected that thought. His pace was already improving much faster through practicing grip driving than it ever did through practicing sliding the car around corners; and time was not on his side, so driving grip would be the only way to go for now.
He thought things over and realised that he absolutely had to get more consistent with his driving. The time gained from being decent on a few corners could easily be lost entirely by being bad on just one; and it wouldn't matter how sharply he could brake or how fast he could turn if he kept messing up as easily as he currently was. He began thinking of what he could do about this; and held that thought as he saw Kenji walk over to his car. Iketani then opened the door and got out.
'We could you hear you all the way from that last turn you know?' Kenji stated. 'What, were you two actually racing?'
'Well, partway through the course: yeah, it kinda ended up like that. We weren't driving as fast the rest of the way up though.'
'Wait, seriously? You're not just joking?'
'Nope. Being completely serious.'
'Heh. We're waiting over here and you two are already off having fun without us. Anyway, I told the other guys about this and as you can see, they all showed up. I've been answering their questions for a while and I think they've got some more left for you to deal with, so go on, Captain. Your team awaits.'
Iketani responded with an amused 'Alright.' before walking over to where the rest of the team was. Their numbers had certainly fallen over the past year - some of them had simply moved on from racing for a range of reasons - but a few had still stuck around, though they didn't show up to Akina quite as regularly as the team's top three did.

'Iketani. Are we really getting challenged?' One of them asked.
'Yeah, we are. By a team called New Edge. Their leader showed up on Akina last night and personally challenged us; and we can either race them or run away. And I don't feel like running away, so all that's left is talking over the rules with them and picking our drivers before Saturday rolls around.'
'And the Eight-Six won't be there?' Another one queried.
'No. This time, we're entirely on our own; and the team challenging us is no pushover either. That's the situation we're in.'
The other Speed Stars began muttering among themselves. Then came the next question.
'So what do we do now? I've heard about those guys; and they're fast. What chance do we even have?'
'I don't even know that much.' Iketani admitted. 'All I know is Akina's Eight-Six would have beat them with no problems, but we're obviously not that good. Even if we stand no chance though, I still want to try; and so do Kenji and Itsuki. But what about you guys? Do you think we should just give up?'
A few instantly responded.
'You're asking us? No way! That'd just suck! Don't back out of this.'
'Yeah! What's the point in running away?'
'Exactly. Give it all you got Iketani!'
'We're with you all the way Iketani!'
The rest of them joined in. Not a single one among them liked the thought of backing out of the race.
'Alright, now I'm completely sure about this, so no turning back. And as for what we do now: I'll be practicing like hell everyday and driving like hell through the whole race, because I'm not gonna stand a chance at all otherwise. And, since we still need to pick our drivers, I'm thinking it'd be good if the rest of us practiced over and over too. So hear me out. To be honest, I've already been getting much faster recently, so if all of us put time into practicing, not only would I get even better before the race rolls around, I could definitely make all of you faster as well. So what do you think? It won't guarantee a win, but we're not gonna be going down without a fight then. And I'm thinking we could all help each other improve even quicker too that way.'
The rest of the Speed Stars began thinking over the last part of that statement. A fourth question soon followed.
'The race is just this Saturday, right? Do you really think we can improve our driving that much in less than a week?'
Iketani thought over his chances again. Five days was still clearly not much time; and with the opposing team being as fast as they were, he doubted he could get fast enough to win.
But he was absolutely sure he could improve.
'Yeah, I do. Now I actually have a good idea of what I'm doing, so I know I can make all of us improve that quickly. And on that note: I'm going to be starting a practice session soon. Who wants to join?'
The rest of the team again thought things over and soon, one by one, all of them voiced their interest in taking part in this plan.
'Alright. Glad to hear it.'

Iketani continued talking with the team, answering more of their queries, asking a few things himself; and giving them a few tips on what they should be focusing on in order to improve. And as this went on, Itsuki finally got out of his car, which didn't go unnoticed by Kenji.
'Yo Itsuki, sure took your time in there. Thinking about stuff?'
Itsuki briefly laughed with a mix of elation and nervousness before putting together a similarly tinged response.
'Yeah... Iketani really pushed it driving here; and damn, he wasn't kidding about that breakthrough... Keeping up was the scariest thing ever. I had to drive like hell just to manage; and he'd have still left me behind if he hadn't simply stopped pushing it later on...'
'He was driving like that, huh? Yep, Iketani wasn't kidding about things becoming a race.' Kenji concluded.
'Was a race alright. And you wouldn't believe how much faster than us he's gotten already. I think I actually got faster just trying to stay close.'
'Oi, getting ahead of me are you, Itsuki?'
'Ehehe. Sorry Kenji, things kinda just turned out like that.'
'Well now, it certainly seems like Iketani's been getting faster and holding out on us. No wonder he was so confident earlier, even saying he'd teach us stuff once he gets things figured out. He damn well better teach us. I'm really looking forward to the practice runs now. I want to see just how fast he's gotten.'
'Heh; and now I'm looking forward to you trying to keep pace with him.'
'What? Think I can't do it?'
'I didn't say that, did I? But I sure hope you try. You'll be flooring it as long as possible, trying not to brake till the very last second, following him into corners at good speed hoping you don't mess up, trying to really step on it before you're even out of them and feeling just how little grip you have to work with when you're trying to drive that fast. Now that's a good way to scare yourself.'
'Oh? That sounds like a challenge!'
'Yeah, go do it! Then you'll know just what "practicing like crazy" will actually take. And we're gonna have to drive that hard over and over if we want to get any faster at all in just five days! Oh man is this gonna be scary as hell... But I'm not chickening out of this! You better not be either, Kenji!'
'Like hell I would. I'm actually pretty fired up for this now!'

A few minutes later, Iketani called out to the whole team.
'Alright everyone, listen up! We'll be starting the practice runs now. The first two runs will just be a warmup. We'll take it easy going downhill and just focus on getting a good line, then do the same thing going uphill, so just follow my lead and keep some space in front of you. After that, we'll stop here and discuss the next run in more detail, then get back to driving. Everyone clear?'
The team responded in the affirmative.
'Alright, so get in your cars and line up.' Iketani finished before getting into his own car, fastening his seatbelt and starting the engine. Everyone else followed; and soon, several cars were travelling down Akina in formation with the two-tone S13 leading the way.

Meanwhile, over in Saitama, a blue Evo IV was currently driving down Maze with a yellow SVX hot on its tail, both cars fast approaching a right hairpin.

Whew, to think I finally got this done.... Half-assed dialogue as usual. Help me Sanae?
Well, that's Chapter 2 finally over with. Working on this was a mix of "YEAH! I CAN FUCKING DO THIS!" and "Oh god I'm stuck again and again and again and I don't know how to make this scene look right and why am I staying up past 5 in the morning everyday I dun wanna do this anymore...."; and after all that, this is all you get.
As usual, comments, feedback and constructive criticism welcome. Let me know how I could write a scene better, where I'm making technical inaccuracies, how I could make better use of punctuation, etc.

Regular players of the IDAS games (a group I sadly have yet to be a part of - no IDAS machines where I live) might notice something odd about the Akina depicted here. Yeah, I did end up taking some liberties with the course layout, because while Akina has five hairpins in the anime and manga, the only maps I could find (IDAS maps) instead have the same four hairpins as the real-life counterpart Haruna, so I added a fifth hairpin after the fourth, changed the corner that came right after it; and attached the rest of the downhill to it. Probably not going to make things too different.
However, it does seem like I made some of the straights too long, because I have the S13 driving in fourth gear on straights that simply don't seem long enough to make that possible. Might end up fixing that later.

*Technical note: In the present day, it's actually possible to fix an SVX's oil starvation issues without swapping in a whole different engine. But since Initial D originally took place in "199X" and I'm trying to stick closer to what the series' "real" timeline would've been, I didn't mention this because I'm trying to keep modifications and the like closer to what I think would've been possible in the year 2000.

Anyhow, in addition to Sanae, there are a few other people I really should thank for helping me out with this fic, so:
.Thanks to shadow55419 for helping me come to a decision on New Edge's home course.
.Thanks to Nomake Wan for not only clearing up all the misinformed ideas I had about the SVX, but answering further questions and providing me with even more info on top that.
.Thanks to Tessou for answering all my questions about MR2s and the MR layout, clearing up even more misinformation and giving me a bunch of info that's going to come in real handy later on.
.Thanks to HashiriyaR32 for preventing me from misidentifying the engine in Iketani's S13.
.Thanks to Sensation! for helping me make a semi-informed guess on how much power Itsuki's turbo could be putting out.
.Thanks again to Nomake Wan, as well as HashiriyaR32, for leaving me with no doubt as to whether Itsuki's turbo was a carbureted setup or not.
.And, because they request to be credited for content used from them (though I get the feeling this doesn't really apply to fanfics), I'm gonna thank this website called Carfolio for helping me with most of my car specs needs.

I'll try to procrastinate less on Chapter 3.

This post has been edited by Meteor on Apr 5 2013, 08:34 AM
Posted: Apr 5 2013, 08:15 AM

Patient Zero

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ZOMG METEOR ACTUALLY POSTED UP SOME OF HIS WORK!?!1?!one And then I don't have time to read it.....? First world problems at its best. tongue.gif

After looking though the chapter really quickly I have to say that you are way out of my league sir. I might as well put down my writing gloves and hang up my coat to call it a day. I can't possibly top you if one single chapter is better than the 20+ chapters I already have out. And I think I'm going to be on hiatus for the rest of ever at this rate. sad.gif

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Posted: Apr 5 2013, 12:16 PM

Meteor's partner in crime!

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QUOTE (THE_HONDA_CG2 @ 4 hours, 0 minutes ago)
I think I'm going to be on hiatus for the rest of ever at this rate. sad.gif

i hate to hear that Honda. i enjoyed yours and was looking foward to being part of it some how.

@Meteor, you really didn't have to throw me into the list of thank yous, you've helpped me out more than i care to imagine, i'm only repaying the debt tongue.gif
Posted: Apr 6 2013, 06:23 AM

Patient Zero

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QUOTE (shadow55419 @ Yesterday, 1:16 PM)
i hate to hear that Honda. i enjoyed yours and was looking foward to being part of it some how.

Looks like I have to pack my bags and go to the train station...


I know I know. A lot of people were looking into making cameos in my story but I'm just so busy with work and everything else. Not to mention I still have writers block. When I feel like writing, I don't have time. sad.gif

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Posted: May 9 2013, 10:54 AM

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2nd best fanfic I have read ever. Of course, THX's first (no offense Meteor). I like this, really, really liked this.

I am starting to imagine how the New Edge would have problems leaving the SpeedStars behind. At this rate they might discover the secrets behind the Fujiwara Zone before it even existed in the manga. Lol.

Keep it coming Meteor.
Posted: Jun 6 2013, 09:28 PM

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This is one of the best fanatics ever read by me. super job man, keep at it. Been sharing it with some of my ID Fans