Story by Geoff Tuffli
++++ DATE 13.1.2469
++++ TIME 17:25 Solar Standard Time
++++ LOCATION Kracatena, Triton, Neptune
Keep it cool, Miyu told herself. Uneven spoils the balance.
The oscillations of the sled reverberated through her prone body like the palpitations of the heart beat of some giant, monstrous creature. And indeed, there probably was some truth to that, as Miyu's sled slipped through the old unused transit tubes that formed the early arteries of the earliest days of Triton's colonization.
The sled was barely as long as Miyu herself, the parallel conducting rails reacting against the transit tubes themselves as a kind of inverted railgun allowing the sled to accelerate to staggering speeds that tested the very limits of human reaction times in the tight tunnels. At the prow of the sled was a light and a proximity sensor; in front of Miyu's face was a tiny readout that fed her precious little information to make corrections; her subcutaneous node transmitted the presentation feed.
Her speed was good, too, clocking a mean of 512 kilometers per hour so far, but she still had a ways to go, and coming up fast was the third of six places where her current tunnel converged with another one, this one for half a klick. Beyond that the converged tunnel would split again, and she'd have a choice. Slow and steady, or faster and riskier through a narrower tunnel. Miyu's sled lurched as the electomagnetic generator hiccuped, and she slid close to one of the walls.
Idiot, she chided herself. Way too close that time.
In her ear the presentation feed roared with a cheer.
"Now, that was a tight call," Nick Czar's always slightly sly voice exclaimed in her ear through the feed. "Four of five Miyu Onbekend just about tossed out her port armature with that last one!" To Miyu he almost sounded disappointed; the audience tuned in always with the unspoken hope that one of the sleds would crash.
For Nick Czar, that would only improve his own personal blog ratings. For Miyu, the price hardly seemed worth it, but if she had wanted to live forever she would have gone to school to be a transit comptroller.
Her sled dipped into the convergence, and sure enough, coming up behind her from the other tunnel was one of the other sleds. Miyu glanced at her rearward camera to see who it was, but the other sled's forward light was too bright. No matter.
The other sled was gaining fast, however, and almost too late Miyu saw what they were going for. She had assumed they were just going to try to pass her, but as she saw the other sled drifting in her wake but slightly to the side she understood what was about to happen. Sure enough, the other sled suddenly rocked forward beside her, attempting to disrupt her own sled's ability to react against the transit tube's wall.
Both sleds twisted, Miyu's wrenching violently up, the other sled to the right.
Miyu narrowed her eyes. Fine. You want to play that game, asshole? Instead of trying to completely correct her sled's vector, she instead let her sled's rear drift left just as she angled her prow down.
The result was murderous. Miyu's sled's new orientation put her starboard rail reacting at an angle against the top of the other sled just as it was attempting its own recovery. The feedback caused the other sled to buckle, then flip, crashing in eerie silence into the side of the airless tunnel. Miyu allowed herself a faint smile.
This time the feed in her ear went berserk. "Holy hells, did you see that?" Nick Czar yelled. "I'm not sure exactly what just happened, so we'll have to check the replay, but the result has four of five Miyu Onbekend now in the lead, taken from two of five Hammer Castillo who is now plastered, and I mean plastered on the side of the A15 tube!"