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“You stupid MORON!”
“Go to hell, Sophie! Why are you even here!? To walk your mentally disabled ponies?”
“To kick your butt, Britt the turd!”
“Eat my dust, mole face!”
This last qualification race couldn’t have started any differently. Brittany, Hemlock, and Nightshade got gate number one, and Sophie, Morning Star, and Moonlight got gate number two. As soon as the race started, the two carts slammed violently into each other without causing any serious damage. It had to look like an accident, or else both teams risked disqualification.
Of course, Brittany had instigated the contact because she had a perfect reason to do so. Her team was already qualified for the Triple Crown races, and today’s race would only determine what gate number she would get during the three events, which wasn’t that big of a deal. However, in Sophie’s case, if they wanted to have a chance to be part of the Triple Crown, thanks to their average performances so far, they would have to finish fifth today, or their dream of saving Penny’s stable would be over. So, obviously, it was only fair that Brittany wouldn’t help them with their quest.
Being the least experienced pony, Moonlight had lost her cool and immediately fell out of sync, distracted by the word war between the two anger-filled drivers. While Brittany followed the pack with her focused pink ponies, Sophie’s team quickly fell behind.
“Moonlight! Focus! Forget about them! Follow Morning Star! Remember what I taught you.”
The young pony wasn’t a veteran by any stretch of the imagination, but she had made outstanding progress since her little trip in the desert and her improbable rescue. After what Tiantang Zhi Ma had put her through, she was left with the impression that she could achieve anything, including learning. Even though it was very late in the game, Sophie had trained her relentlessly between each exhibition race to bring her to a more professional level.
Like a sponge, Moonlight had absorbed every fluid ounce of knowledge that Sophie had made her drink without arguing a single time. She had placed all her trust in her trainer and her racing companion, Morning Star. She had fully accepted her absence of racing knowledge and that her body would be used as a machine in any way Sophie would see fit.
It was no longer about herself. It was all about the reason she had been lent to Penny’s stable, winning for a cause bigger than herself.
After the humiliating performance of their first exhibition race, and after Penny had miraculously convinced the board to let them run again, things only went uphill. Sophie and her two ponies had finished last in the two next races but ran with the pack all the way to the end. And then they finished third, fourth, fifth, and third again, which was consistent enough to accumulate enough points to be eligible for the final three Triple Crown races, the one that counted the most.
But today, they were in trouble very early in the race, which wasn’t part of the game plan. There wasn’t a single weak team ahead of them, and catching up after falling behind so soon was almost impossible, particularly because they would have to pass all the other ponygirls from the outside lane.
Yet, Moonlight got back into it and resynced her hooves with Morning Star’s, which allowed the team to regain its cruising speed.
“Good! Good! Moon! You got it! We are not dead yet!”
Thanks to the 3000 meters race, there was still plenty of time to attempt catching up. And since that giant single lap race was extremely demanding, it was certainly possible that some of the teams would suddenly drop behind because they had tried too hard too early and exhausted their athletic legs.
Still, they were in trouble. Being this far behind so early in the race meant that, overall, it would take a lot more energy if they wanted to finish fifth and qualify for the Triple Crown.
As they entered the first long turn, things didn’t seem too bright.
“Crap! They are all so good. I hope you had a good breakfast this morning because we will need to make an early sprint. I know you want to go faster right now but don’t. Keep that pace, Morning Star. Moon, conserve as much energy as you can. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m counting on you.”
It was a surreal experience, such a dramatic moment, and they felt like they were alone on the track. The others were too far ahead to be heard, and it didn’t feel like they were competing in the same race.
As they exited the first turn, Sophie observed what was going on with the other teams. The leading ponies began to slow down as they had engaged in a useless early battle for the railing. That was one team they would potentially manage to beat, placing them in the seventh position. Then there was the last team who actually seemed to have a very bad day. Their two ponies seemed nervous, and they, too, needed to finish in the fifth position to qualify for the Triple Crown races. It seemed that the pressure was too high and that their ponies were struggling to keep their emotions bahis siteleri at bay. Sometimes wanting something too much could bring the opposite result. If Sophie managed to beat those as well, then she would be in the sixth position.
She only had one more team to identify in order to implement a final strategy. But while using her expert eyes to analyze the remaining racers, she noticed something bad… really bad. Something that made her blood boil.
“That creature of hell! I’m SO going to punch her in the face!”
It was as shocking as it was unsurprising. Brittany and her pink ponies were locking the fifth position, the one Sophie needed. On purpose, she slowed down the team in the sixth and seventh positions to create a gap with the teams in fourth and up. Since Brittany was already qualified, it was understandable that she wouldn’t push her ponies too hard, but doing what she was doing was totally to prevent Sophie from qualifying.
Hemlock and Nightshade were the strongest competitors on that track. As soon as Sophie would get close to them, which would be toward the end of the race, Brittany would push hard to prevent Penny’s stable from achieving their mandatory objective. This scheme was motivated only by hatred and vindictiveness.
But it was fair.
It was a competition. Without fully realizing it, Sophie and Brittany had provided each other with those ridiculous challenges founded on ill intentions during all their careers. Doing this over and over, increasingly intensively, had made them better. Much better. It made them the best. Nobody raced for a medal. Nobody raced for a trophy. Outside the necessity of making money, nobody ran for that either.
A true race had no relationship with the final prize or a position number. It was all about the challenger and the will to beat it. No. It was only about reaching deep down to find the strength to achieve the unachievable and accept a rational challenge.
And this one was exactly that, a real challenge. Brittany may have been the rough driver on the track, but she wasn’t stupid. She knew very well that Sophie would quickly discover what she was doing and understand that there was no way around it. This confrontation had to take place, no matter what.
“Star, Moon. Forget about the race. We are going to beat Brittany and her slut ponies! You got me?”
Not too sure about the why of this sudden statement, Morning Star and Moonlight briefly looked at each other and nodded. Moonlight thought it was actually simpler that way, no matter what the reason for this decision was. She knew Sophie had a strategy, and it was as easy as listening to what she wanted. Doing so should be enough to provide a good winning chance.
Sophie passed the team in the seventh position as if they were nothing more than an invisible enemy and then shared her plan.
“Listen… We are going to trick them. When I say go, you will sprint, but no more than ninety percent of what you can do. That should be enough to throw them off balance, and at the very end, you’ll give all you’ve got to surprise them. We only have one shot at this, so be patient and don’t mess up.”
The long straight line leading to the second long turn was long. As expected, the cart in the first position had slowed down and headed toward the end of the pack, but it was inconsequential. Brittany still firmly locked the fifth position and wouldn’t change her strategy in a lifetime. Keeping her ponies fresh, she allowed Sophie to get closer, but not too close. They were not at an insulting range just yet. She hugged the railing as she had no intention of letting Sophie take the inner corridor. Every little thing she could do to exhaust her enemies would have to be applied. There was a risk in allowing Sophie to get closer to achieve an ultimate humiliation, but she was not a fool either. Brittany knew very well how strong Morning Star could be and how much potential the elusive Moonlight had. Were they stronger than Hemlock and Nightshade together? That was unlikely, but it was still worth considering in terms of risk management.
Halfway in the last turn, Sophie unleashed her ponies, hoping that they would remember what she had asked from them. On purpose, clearly wanting Brittany to hear her, she yelled as loud as she could to make her react to her trap.
“GO GO GO! MORNING STAR! MOONLIGHT! GIVE ALL YOU’VE GOT! LET’S BEAT THAT STUPID TEAM!”
Right away, Sophie noticed Brittany turning her head to see if that early sprint was really happening or if it was just some bait, and then yelled at her ponies in return once she had confirmed that the threat was serious.
“YAAA! HEMLOCK, NIGHTSHADE! GAME ON!”
Using her head start, Penny’s team rapidly reached Stardust’s team. They weren’t side by side just yet, but now they were definitely within insulting range.
“Die, Sophie! Die! You’ll lose your job, and we are going to purchase Morning Star so we can send her to the slaughter plant!”
“Shut up, Britt the turd! Maybe you should get breast implants like your ponies. canlı bahis siteleri At least you’d get something interesting to look at.”
“I can’t wait for Penny to go bankrupt. You can feast on her cold corpse when this is over.”
Being insulted was one thing, but Sophie never liked it much when Brittany attacked Penny. She couldn’t help but swing her riding crop at her rude opponent, missing her face by only one inch.
“Hey! I’ll hit you with my crop, too! See if you like it, you imbecile.”
Brittany responded by trying to hit Sophie in return, which quickly turned into a highly unusual fencing cross-carts competition.
A riding crop wasn’t a toy. It hurt a lot. Hitting each other on the arms like this was going to leave some nasty bruises.
Meanwhile, the ponies in both teams understood that they no longer had a driver to rely on. Perhaps Sophie and Brittany had taken their feud a bit too far this time. Fortunately, they had all they needed in terms of instruction to finish the race unassisted.
Now wheel against wheel, the two carts were almost touching. Not wholly clueless, Hemlock and Nightshade understood that their opponents were not giving their all just yet. It was suspicious at best. Unfortunately, ponygirls wore bits, and it was impossible to relay that information to Brittany, who was too busy hitting and getting hit anyway.
With the finish line quickly approaching, Nightshade signaled her partner that it was time to finish this at full speed before getting fooled by a deceiving team.
And Morning Star saw that coming from a mile away and did the same.
There was nobody else on the track anymore. There were only two teams, and the only objective was to beat each other.
Nightshade gave her all. Hemlock gave her all. Morning Star gave her all. Moonlight…
Moonlight just followed casually.
Inexperienced, she trusted her partner to do the right thing.
But she just followed casually.
She stayed in sync with Morning Star, who clearly knew what she was doing.
But still… she just followed casually.
There was no reason not to win this. Why was this supposed to be that hard? It wasn’t. What was hard was to hold back and keep the strategy alive. Sure, Moonlight had experienced firsthand what would happen if she didn’t obey.
What if, just for once, she just took the lead, just to unleash her real power a little.
Today seemed like a good day to try something like this. Sophie was busy whacking her friend, Morning Star was clearly at her maximum speed, which seemed unimpressive today. So… why not? She only had to let her team know of her intention, and perhaps they could win this. What was there to lose? The pink team was already slightly ahead of them, and the finish line was so close.
Whatever would happen next would happen. Moonlight had committed and screamed through her bit, something she had never done before. It would be up to everybody else to adapt to her for once.
This behavior was so shocking and wild that the two drivers stopped fighting for a second.
Sophie sank into her seat, and Morning Star almost tripped. She rapidly increased her pace to avoid crashing, which was only possible because it felt like she was running on an air cushion. Moonlight was the one pulling all the cart’s weight.
It only took a few strides for Sophie’s team to jump in ahead of Brittany’s team and cross the finish line in a solid fifth position, puzzling everyone who had remotely paid attention, including a roaring crowd who had undoubtedly appreciated the heroic move.
Without clear instructions, the two teams stopped next to each other, ponies panting and drivers angrier than ever. It would have been better to separate those two, but with wrists cuffed to their waist, it was not in the ponies’ power to do so. Morning Star just figured that, as usual, they would sort things out themselves, so she just jogged in place with Moonlight, happy to have officially qualified for the Triple Crown.
But on the drivers’ side, it got ugly. Both Sophie and Brittany were covered in bruises due to the intense crop whipping, and the latter jumped from her cart to Sophie’s and started punching her, which only motivated Sophie to return the aggression in the same ungraceful manner.
“NO! YOU DIE MORE!”
“I said no. You stay in jail. You are no use to me anyway because you got suspended until further notice by the Triple Crown committee.”
“STARDUST! You can’t do that to me! Who will drive Hemlock and Nightshade!?”
“In any case, not you. I’ll figure it out. You are off the team until we sort that out, Brittany. Your behavior was beyond disgraceful!”
“DISGRACEFUL!? IT WAS SOPHIE’S FAULT! She hit me with her riding crop!”
“After you slammed your cart into hers intentionally.”
“Pfff… She just had to stay behind us.”
“That’s not how it works. There are rules, and you broke them. I can consider canlı bahis myself lucky that they didn’t suspend Hemlock and Nightshade as well. Anyway, the sheriff put you in jail for potential assault, so that is quite something. They think this was beyond the context of a sporting event. You can’t say you didn’t cross the line this time.”
Indeed, it was quite something. Racing in front of thousands of spectators in a race broadcasted on national TV came with the disadvantage of not being able to pretend bad things didn’t happen. Not only Brittany got suspended, but on top of that, the police were waiting for her outside the race track. They had determined that she presented a danger to society and would put her in jail at the local police station until they finished investigating the case. A furious Stardust had, obviously, refused to bail her out.
On the opposite side of the same jail cell, hugging her knees in the far corner of the bed, was Sophie, smirking.
“Ah! Stardust, you are the owner of one fine stable. Maybe you need a new driver!”
“SEE! SEE! SHE IS A BITCH!”
Brittany didn’t like Sophie.
“Calm down, Brittany. And you, Sophie. Penny actually gave me a message for you.”
“She… she is not coming?”
“No. She said she had better things to do. She was beyond disappointed. So you are going to stay here overnight as well.”
“WHAT? That’s not fair! Brittany started it all.”
“ENOUGH! You two, you are sick in your head. You are going to stay in that cell until further notice. And too bad for you, that is the only one they have in this little town, so you have to share it. And if you dare pick another fistfight, that’s going to make your life much worse. So think hard about it before you punch each other again.”
At least there were two beds, so Brittany returned to hers, and similar to what Sophie was doing, she hugged her knees. They both had messed up big time, and they knew it. But Stardust’s little speech was also painful to endure.
Sophie and Brittany stuck together in a jail cell; that was not something anybody could have predicted when the rooster crowed this morning.
“What are we supposed to do without Sophie, Penny? We are screwed!”
“Maybe, but she deserves it. She will stay in jail to reflect on her actions. She and Brittany’s lack of sportsmanship today exceeded anything I’ve seen in my long life, and God only knows how many things I’ve seen. It is unacceptable, and it’s important that she learns something out of it. Anyway, there is nothing we can do while the police are reviewing their case.”
“But, we can’t race without her!”
“Have you lost the use of your legs, Morning Star?”
“And you, Moonlight? Do you think it’s over too?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know much about pony stuff.”
“Right. You only know about stealing cookies and getting lost in deserts. Yet, you managed to win today’s race without Sophie telling you what to do. I saw everything, you know.”
Penny had indeed not missed a thing. Left to themselves, the ponies from both teams had to make a judgment call and execute their instinctive plan without any direct command from their busy driver. And right before the finish line, Moonlight had even allowed herself to unleash some of her hidden power.
“Star, we will find you a temporary driver until Sophie’s situation is sorted out. We made it to the Triple Crown, and we are not going to abandon now.”
“… But, Penny. We don’t know anybody as good as Sophie.”
“Oh, I know one, but she is in jail too.”
“I don’t want Brittany to be our driver. She is strange. And Sophie said I would get bacterias if I got too close to her.”
“She won’t. I have a couple of people in mind. Let me make a few phone calls. We will see if I can convince one of them to help.”
“What are we supposed to do without Brittany, Stardust? We are screwed.”
“Well, too bad, Hemlock. Her behavior was unacceptable, so Penny and I agreed to let them simmer in jail for a while. I’ve never seen such behavior in my entire life. Anyway, they are suspended, so we need a contingency plan anyway.”
“What plan? Only Brittany can make us win. There are no other drivers as good as her.”
“Well, you have to accept it, Hemlock. But leave that to me. I know just who to call, and you’ll have to love it because it’s not an option.”
“Who is it?”
“You’ll see when she gets here.”
“So, are you proud of yourself now?”
“Don’t talk to me, Brittany. We know whose fault this is.”
“MINE!? You slammed your cart into mine not even twenty meters after the beginning of the race, and then you tried to block us on purpose out of evilness.”
“Grow up. It happens. It’s racing.”
“Yeah, it only happens when you are next to me.”
There was not a lot of common ground between Brittany and Sophie. Being stuck together in a cramped cell of a small police regional station felt like being in a room full of poisonous snakes, just worse. Both drivers were sitting on their respective beds, hugging their knees and hating their life. All the bruises they inflicted on each other while whipping the hell out of each other with riding crops weren’t making things any better.
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