You'd think there'd be a way to back down. I mean, a human can't drive a space convertible without wearing a goddamn spacesuit for chrissake! Frezzipods can take the vacuum for hours, and convertible controls are designed for their clackety claw-hands. Me, though? I found myself sitting in a spaceship that hardly deserves the name -- more of a space skateboard with an over-clocked engine, if you ask me -- wearing a big, fitted bag of Kevlar, Mylar, whatever-lar-stuff.
My opponent's buddy, the other frezzipod, gave me a crash course in the controls, but I only had a few minutes to warm up before I found myself pushing full throttle on an alien spacecraft, racing like my life depended on it for Altu 5.
Caddy, for that's what I'd decided to call my frezzipod friend, started the race with some extra-fancy moves. For a moment, I thought I was off the hook. Caddy headed straight toward a starwhal sized asteroid, before we'd even passed the start line, way too fast to dodge it. At the last second, Caddy sprang his six legs, jumping clear off his convertible.
My elation at having already won was followed fast on its heels by realizing what I was truly up against. Having sprung eight feet from his ship, and, conversely having pushed his ship eight feet in the opposite direction -- a good, fat starwhal's girth -- Caddy and ship sailed smoothly on. The asteroid passed between them.
I, on the other hand, took the slow way around, adjusting acceleration from one direction, then the other, canceling my spurious sideways motion out. When I got past the behemoth of a rock, I saw Caddy pulling himself and his ship back together via his safety tether, still sailing straight ahead.
I'm good, but Caddy was flying at a whole different level. And after a couple more tricks like that one -- tricks I knew better than to try in my baggy suit with no prior experience -- I was almost convinced Caddy could do it. He was way ahead of me. Maybe he really could daisy chain from Altu 7 to Altu 5 in fifteen minutes.