The Valentine Races
There is nothing quite like the magic of the races on Valentine. The history, the moon, the rings in the distance, the rumble of the engines, the roar of the crowds, the smell of dust and perfume and everything else twisted into a ball and shoved into your face. Anybody who hasn't been is going to go. Anybody who says they don't want to go is lying.
A Tale From Long Ago...The Valentine Races began some two hundred years ago, when the Chairman was arranging a diplomatic marriage for his son. Multiple suitors had courted the young man for several months, and the pool had been whittled down to only two - a son from the Silas family and a daughter from the mining dynasty of Kess. As they continued to court the son, they grew an enmity for each other that began to make itself heard in occasions they met one another. There were several occasions when they all but fought in the street over him. As matters reached a head, the Chairman organised a race between the two around the moon of Valentine, where whoever was victorious would claim his son's hand in marriage.
... Of Passion and Strife and the Roar of the CrowdThe rules of the competition were simple. One week to prepare a ship. One ship per party. No pit crew, no support team, just a one-man spacebucket capable of near-surface and orbital flight, and a pilot. First to cross the finish line wins. No fouls. Although the nature of the dispute was private, the tabloids got a hold of the information on the race, said to have been leaked by the Chairman himself, and on the day of the race a sizeable crowd made the trip to Valentine. A cruiseliner even made a special tour to the moon on the day. The race was, in the words of those who were there, "an intoxicating spectacle." An enterprising film crew had sent drones to the planet's surface to film the activity, broadcasting it illegally on several major news networks. The ships were state-of-the-art racers, and the pilots knew their game almost inhumanly well. A breakneck sprint at the finished left Cassa Kess in the lead by half a second, coming through the finish gate at more than 40,000 km/hr, breaking a speed record and two of the film drones in the process.
And so we Sing of Love and LossThe race was a hit all over Cerran space and shortly afterwards recreational fliers came in to try the course. Valentine became a popular destination for romantic holidays and cruises, and before long the first official citizen races were held. Again, no rules other than those held by gentlemen applied - one ship, one pilot, no support, no fouls. The event happens annually and draws crowds of up to one hundred thousand, and even more take hours out of their day to watch the races live. Betting on this event is incredibly commonplace as well, with the luckiest taking home millions of credits from this one event.
"Maybe I don't want anybody else, Jaq. Maybe it was always you. Ever consider that when I said I was racing for you, you ass? Now sit down, shut up, and put your money on me. I'm winning this for you and nobody else."
PledgesIt has become common in certain circles for the Valentine races to be a method of proposal. Those proposing enter a ship, and declare themselves to be racing for a certain person, in the spirit of the original race. Typically they race uncontested, although on occasion multiple people dedicate their race to the same person. Those who are particularly confident in their ability often ask relatives, friends, and their potential spouse to bet on them in order to gain a nest egg to start off married life.
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