The Crew pt.3
All the pit crews had grown accustomed to hanging out in the press boxes during the actual race. They certainly wouldn’t be filled by anyone of note, though once an awkward situation had arisen from a showdown between the crews and a particularly nasty squatter clan.
Some had tried to watch the race and drink from the stands, but a few groupies had started a whole stink about it and frankly they could be much worse than the squatters. The few that had been caught were not only stuck listening to an extended tongue lashing, but their pay was severely docked for 'fucking with our biddies'. At least in the press boxes they could still see the race.
That is if there were anything to really watch, the ‘race’ was more of a funneled demolition derby than any proper racing. To start most of the cars, while extremely beautiful and slick looking, were so bogged down with pleasure mods and fancy ui that turns seemed to take decades and often would end with several crowding around each other around the walls.The straight aways quickly became mad dashes that left more sparks flying as they crowded past the holo rings.
Most of the crews spent the time drinking and playing chance games, it was certainly a spot more enjoyable than watching their work go to waste on the track. A few had tried to start placing side bets, but the odds were often so even that it'd be hard to actually make any money and they had fizzled out, so the attention was now near solely on the cards and booze. That is, everyone aside from Pops and Axel. The pair had found two old seats and pulled them up to the edge of the booth. The sound of betting and swears provided a nice background to the show below.
The show may not have been pretty, but it was a sight better than anything they'd have at home. What few races did stream were always on the more exclusive channels and trusting the pirate streams was a one-way ticket to having yourself a bad time debugging your entire life. So for the time being it was prime time trash, but it was the most they could get so they had to deal.
They were eventually joined by Watt, who promptly finished his drink and fell asleep on the floor beside him. The final lap kicked off below as the pack of cars grinded against one another and jockeyed for position into the final turn. Pops gave an exasperated grunt "See back when this was a serious course, they'd be driving those babies like water flowing around each other, not this...it's like rocks crashing down." He gave a long exhale and shook his head, "Used to bring a tear to my eye." Axel looked over briefly, "Someone had to have been half decent in this group right?" "Oh sure," Pops responded, "But they usually don't stick around long, show up for one circuit, win it big and then no one else wants to race them do they are forced to go pro or hang it up. After that...I don't know. Heard one of them just started juicing before races to make it more fair, went pretty well until he careened through the walls of one of the tunnels trying to make a shortcut. Damn kids…" but no sooner had Pops story started than the buzzer had gone off indicating the first few cars had careened past the finish line.
The first few names were all new, it seemed that a few of last week's stragglers had gotten lucky on some pileups and come out ahead, but in 5th Axel recognized his illustrious employers name. He threw a soft foot into Watt's side, awakening him from his power nap "Come on Watt, gotta get ready to receive." Together with Pops they lifted him from the ground and followed the rest of the group as a few remained behind to break down the set-up.
The machines were once again brought to life and made ready to repair all the damage that the vehicle had endured. Typically this was the harder portion of the job. It was one thing to hear a vehicle up racing, it was a whole other thing to bring it back to it's 'luxurious' state and make it seem like the race never happened. The team was prepared though, and more than willing to get it done quickly and get on the next nondescript truck back home.
They did their best to make it seem as though they had done nothing aside from await the cars return from when it started, Watt was especially good at looking like he'd done nothing considering he usually spent the races half asleep in a stupor. But what was usually a fairly uneventful handoff aside from some off handed remarks about social status and being worthless was thrown for a loop by the aggressive slam that Cyrus gave his door quickly by a more serious line of questions than anyone expected, "ALRIGHT WHO THE FUCK HAS BEEN DRIVING MY FUCKING CAR?!" The crew looked at each other in a mix of shock and concern. Too many eyes must have fallen on Axel as Cyrus was once again in his face.
If he didn't know better he would have thought that all this make calling and getting up in his face meant that Cyrus liked him, but he had known better for a while now, and the feeling had for a long time been mutual. "Came across the finish line and decided to record my time, lo and fucking behold there's two times for the past few days. Wouldn't know anything about that would you Slummy?" His face betrayed that he had already made a conclusion on his thought process and that the best that Axel could do was beg for mercy and to not have OSEC called.
It was true of course, after the races when their contract holders had all left a few of the more daring members would take the super fancy cars out for a spin around the track for fun and to actually experience all the hard work they had put in. One of the big reasons for Axel continuing to tolerate the shit conditions was that this was the only track time he could reasonably log that wasn't flying from bad drug deals or testing out a ground pounder. But he was certain that he had always had Watt delete the records from the logs after each run, he'd have to speak with him about it later. For the moment he had to beg, and that alone might kill him. He avoided eye contact and looked off toward the car, "I'm sorry sir, it was all my idea, the other two aren't responsible I swear." Cyrus pushed him and put him back a step, "Oh you swear huh? You promise? Oh that's really fucking adorable, well I don't give a shit what you swear I should have OSEC get down here right now and have you all killed for what you have done, do you have ANY idea what kind of power I hold? You mean NOTHING to someone like me!" Another shove sent Axel back into a machine and he lost his footing briefly, only staying vertical thanks to quickly gripping it for balance. Pops was first to move and helped steady Axel and tries to intervene, "Please sir, he doesn't know, he doesn't know at all, just don't get OSEC involved and we'll make this work."
Cyrus now got in Pops face, and this brought both Axel and Watt back to attention and moving closer. Cyrus must have read the room as he backed off slightly. "I'm not paying him, not one more fucking cred from me for this whole circuit. And then, he does the next one free as well." Pops without flinching offered a firm, "Deal, thank you sir" as if they had come to a more official agreement. Axel felt his mouth dry as the reality of the situation set in. Without this he'd be getting a lot thinner that was for certain, he'd have to probably stop that one booster he'd been working on.
He was caught up thinking it through and didn't notice that Pops had stepped aside to let Cyrus through. The irritating smugness cut through to his mind, "You hear that Slummy? You're my bitch now, you got that? I say jump you ask how high, and I don't want you even looking at my fucking car unless I say so." There was a pause, "In fact, look at this fucking scratch right here" he pointed toward the back of the car, around the bumper. Axel moved closer, "No really look in there, you see that? I want you to fix that so you better look close." Axel looked back to him and Pops briefly with some trepidation before putting his head close to what appeared to be a perfectly normal part of the exterior. "What, you don't see it?" wiith a sudden *THUD* Cyrus had brought the bottom of his boot to the back of Axel's head and I to the car. He left it here for a second before letting him fall to the floor, "See? There it is, now fix it bitch." He walked confidently out of the garage as the group came together once more, Axel looked up feeling the rush of blood come to his left cheek and held down the urge to scream.