14+: Racing Stripes
There was no doubt about it, it was a strange scene. The four ex company maschines were camped at an outcrop of mined N-Stone, nothing too out of the ordinary there, the plains were filled with similar scenes. That these four were brightly coloured and covered in brand logos, that was something different.
For a least the past 15 years, any sort of mining operation had more than a passing semblance to a military operation, droll and serious. But since the Eastern Rim incidents, it was clear there was more at play than simple rivalry, company é company or even inter-Company, and the introduction of the mysterious ‘Locals’ only added further complication to the whole thing. Either way, mining crews were armed and armoured, with fair justification.
The new guys on the block were the ‘mercs’, well that’s what the company heads called them. Teams of ex-company men, usually some of the best, started to strike out on their own, realising they could do what they did, for themselves. The risk would be the same but the cash would be a lot better. Before too long, the plains began to fill with ‘prospector teams’, as they liked to refer to themselves.
The story goes it was a drunken size-fest responsible for the first ‘race’. The idea was drunkardly simple – two teams, starting at the same point, would race out to see who could tap the most N-Stone within a given grid reference. It was a no holes barred affair; hard not to be considering prospecting teams were probably even more heavily armed than the company crews. They had more to loose if things got sticky.
The race lasted a week, and while both teams received a thorough bashing in the process, N-Stone was tapped, money was made and someone even fashioned a trophy from one of the scrapped rigs. And as these things usually go, the tall tales after the event, the sort that leave out the unpleasantries, built a mystique that saw more and more prospecting teams join what was to become known as ‘The League’; because prospecting and mining apparently was not challenge enough, adding in some good old fashioned racing was just the thing everyone needed.
The League turned the plains from a sombre company driven affair into what could only be described as a race track. As it grew, so did the money, the teams, and the industries to support it. Maschines in all flavours, Platforms and Landmates. Bright colours and graphics began to dot the plains, sharply contrasting the drab and quasi camouflaged company affair.
And as the grab for N-Stone went from a company controlled affair, as it had been from day one, to a broadcast fuelled cash fest, the company men began to become increasingly unhappy….
Looking for Gods in Maschines:
Spans of the known:
A collection of hard science fiction tales written and illustrated by Gerard Thomas.