Chapter 1a- Race night
“Ready to see some action?“, Hugo asked Lillian eagerly as they both walked towards the entrance to the main car park. Lillian chuckled sweetly.
“Of course I am! You promised me this is the hottest street racing spot in Twilight City, and that’s it perfectly legal. What’s there not to be ready for?“, Lillian responded excitedly, as the couple drew closer to the entrance. The hallway was lit up in a myriad of rainbow-coloured LED lights and signs, all about street racing, the most popular and lucrative sport in Twilight City. Ever since the Japanese immigrants brought it to our home turf after the Oil Wars with Great Britain back in 2050, it exploded in popularity- and garnered more attention (and money) than ever. Every night, Twilight City was filled with the pops of unburnt fuel, the whines of turbos, the roars of powerful engines, and the screeches and smell of burning rubber- the drivers living life to the fullest and not giving a damn about who tried to stop them. Oh, and of course, there were A LOT cops. They didn’t like our sport. Not one bit. Twilight City became vibrant, loud, and lively in the best way possible (besides the cops)... until the damn TC police tried to shut us down.
Oh boy, did they fail! Once that was announced, the street racing... continued. It became even more popular, attracting racers and fans from all across the globe. It’s fanbase and lucrativeness increased tenfold. No police could shut us down. No authority could hold us. Twilight City became the world hub of street racing- to the point where it was even dubbed ‘Drift City’ by fans and critics alike. However, where there’s popularity and success, there’s always corruption, cheating, and a whole lotta suspicious behind-the-scenes shit. Street racing quickly became a sport not only associated with thrills, loud cars, adrenalin, hot women, and the apotheosis of daredevilish fun, but it also quickly became associated with crime, outlaws, corruption, extortion- you name it, street racing was somehow tied into it. It was a sport which had all its mechanical fingers and toes dipped in every single rotten pie in the city. Legal races became rarer and rarer- until they were so rare that you wouldn’t even know if events advertised as ‘legal’, ‘fair’, or ‘sponsored’ were actually just forefronts for racing gangs to scout new racers for their own ill-gotten gains. Due to all of that pressure, the cops said, ’fuck it, let ’em race!’. And then we caught the media’s attention, who then caught the attention of some rich dude named Vector. And then that dude said, ‘fuck it, let’s make it an official sport!’
And so, the TC Street Racing League was founded, back in 2065- 7 years ago, when I was just starting out in the racing biz- but the corruption of the sport only grew worse because of it. Teams of big-shot racers began buying top-end- and perfectly illegal- parts from chop shops, criminal organisations, corporations. Basically, if any of their digits weren’t dipped in crime, they were at a disadvantage- and doing something seriously wrong according to their devilish opponents. That’s why most goodie two shoe legal racers ain’t got no chance of making it in the big leagues. They’re just at such a disadvantage with their tacky, legal shit that a newbie racer from the worst of the street racing gangs could smoke them in an instant- whether it be on a quarter mile strip or a drift race. As for Lillian and Hugo, they were aspiring goody two shoes’- wanting to make it to the big leagues legally and fairly. Heh. What a damn joke. Such a dream is admirable, for sure, but that just ain’t possible. Not in this corrupt corner of nowhere.
Hugo wasn’t always an aspiring goodie two shoes racer, though. He was once part of the most mythical, most prestigious, yet most enigmatic and secretive street racing gang in Twilight City history: the Ghosty Boys. Man, I love the Ghosty Boys. Most racers in TC just dismiss them as a myth, an old wives’ tale of sorts. But I can assure you, they’re perfectly real. And dangerous, too. You cross the Ghosty Boys, and you can say goodbye to your damn head. And car. And dignity. And whatever you fuckin’ have in life. Their operation is small, but deadly- like a pit viper or a hawk. But, if you get scouted by them... first of all, you’re one lucky bastard. Second, say hello to your ticket into the big leagues. Ghosty Boys’ prestige is unmatched. Respected by everyone in Twilight City- even your damn grandma. So tread carefully around ’em. Behave yourself, and you may just get scouted by ’em.
As for Lillian and Hugo, they were a loving pair. Real well-knit. Close and cute, I suppose. Hugo was just a typical street kid- though he looked far too well-kept to be one. His black hair was combed into a slightly misshaped pair of curtains- held together by minimal gel. The face underneath that was smooth and youthful- without a single visible pore, scar, or marking. Hugo’s eyes were a dark brown colour- but they were lively and sympathetic. Overseeing those eyes were a pair of thick eyebrows, but they fit the face well. He was also clean-shaven about the jaw, chin, and top lip. Hugo- like any quintessential street racer- wore a dusty, worn-down leather jacket, and occasionally a bandana or do-rag to hold his hair up. Equally worn-down, tattered jeans completed the look of a stereotypical born-and-raised Twilight City Street Kid.
Lillian also had black hair- but it appeared much darker than Hugo’s, like woven midnight. It was usually styled into two long, flowing pigtails with bowl-cut bangs and lengthy wisps of hair hanging in front of pale ears- very different (and much more noticeable) than Hugo’s messy curtains. Her eyes were a deep violet colour- much like the numerous synthetic signs that accompanied the dystopia of Twilight City- and were undercut by dark mauve eyeshadow- as well as black lipstick. The eyebrows above her eyes were thin- almost artificial-looking- and her nose was small and less defined than her other features. Much like her boyfriend, Lillian sported a leather jacket- albeit a cleaner, but still black- one, along with a pair of black hip-hugger trousers. Her and Hugo had met when she was still new to Twilight City- although Hugo still didn’t know where she was from. I don’t wanna say that it was ‘love at first sight’, but... maybe it was.
“Tickets?“, the bouncer at the door demanded sternly, extending a bronze-coloured cybernetic arm. Hugo placed them in the man’s large hand. A red laser began shining from his right eye underneath a pair of sunglasses, scanning across the barcodes. It then blinked green.
“Have a good time, you two”, the bouncer said, opening the door for the couple.
They were immediately greeted by the sight of a large, cheering, jovial crowd- all jumping up and down like nobody’s business. The lights were dim, and lasers of infinite colours pierced the faint darkness- blinking to the loud, blaring music. By day, this place was just a discontinued parking lot- abandoned and run-down. But by night, it was- as Hugo promised- the hottest street racing spot in all of Twilight City. If you ain’t heard of the Heywood Parking Garage, you’re either dead or living under a rock. And a pretty fuckin’ big rock, at that.
Hugo and Lillian worked their way through the massive crowd towards the makeshift barrier of worn-down, old tyres and were immediately blasted by the smell of fuel and burnt rubber. God, I love that smell. Anyway, tonight was supposed to be a ‘legal’ event- but, like I warned ya- it ain’t what it seems. Its advertised as a plain rope, but its actually a deadly rattlesnake- if you get my drift. The race which was about to kick off was a drift race, between Han ‘Oni’ Sanchez- aka ‘Ronin’, head of the Street Samurai racing gang- and a mystery racer- simply known as ‘Miss Lollipop’, unaffiliated with any street racing groups. I’m tellin’ ya, don’t underestimate that chick. She may look pretty and submissive- but she’s got teeth. She can bark and bite. As for racing, I’m not so sure.
The music drew closer to an ultimate beat drop as both racers revved their engines wildly and madly. An announcer- dressed in an oversized hoodie and gas mask lit up with green LED ‘X’ signs over his eyes- came between the two racers, still revving loudly, sending jolts of adrenalin and excitement through the crowd- Hugo and Lillian included. The announcer finally spoke through the speakers.
“Gooooood evening, Twilight Cityyy!“, he spoke in an enthusiastic, energetic voice- as if he had been turbocharged. “Who’s ready to RACE?“, he continued with extreme passion- lifting a gloved hand to his ear to listen for a response. The crowd jeered and bellowed loudly, seeming to hype the announcer up even more.
“That’s what we like to hear! Now, on my right, heralding from Japan- home of our wonderful sport, give it up fooor... RONIN!“, the announcer shrieked. Around half of the fans began a war cry of sorts- cheering on their favourite racer. Gotta say, I like Ronin. He’s pretty badass. Plus, that 2067 Mazda RX30? Oho, it roars, and it screams, and it RUMBLES, my choom! And its paintjob is just... fuckin’ beautiful. Blood red with a black sword clutched by a mighty samurai warrior as a livery? Badass.
“On my left, heralding from right here in the Heywood region, and some new blood around these parts, let’s hear it fooor... Miss LOLLIPOP!“, the announcer continued- appropriately hyping up both racers. The other half of the crowd jeered with pure excitement- amplified by adrenalin, alcohol, drugs... whatever floats your boat. You see, the reason that some people cheer for one racer, and the others cheer for the next is because of their bets. They want their racer to win- just to earn a quick buck. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, choom. Just how it is ’round here.
“Alright, chooms! It’s time to RACE!“, the announcer finally exclaimed. He’s definitely taken something good, Hugo thought. The announcer raised his arms, psyching himself up to kick the next race off. As the music drew to a climax, he tapped his hands to the beat. Both racers were rearing to floor it- engines revving faster and louder than ever. Like music to my fuckin’ ears. The drop came closer. The revving became louder. The crowd became more excited and antsy.