"What are YOU doing here?"
It was the reunion Leah never expected.
Mar-Lynn had survived.
It was late in the evening; the sky above Eama was darkening. Everyone who had auditioned for the Race of Aleria was sitting on a series of benches erected outside the Capitol building, in front of a lectern. There was a lot of bustle and noise from the crowd, as the entrants greeted each other. Some of the larger entrants had settled beside the benches. Mar-Lynn had made her way up to Leah, and sat down next to her.
"Me?" replied Mar-Lynn. "Oh, you know, attending the Race of Aleria announcement, you know?"
this is surely surprising." said Leah.
"Yeah, what a coincidence!"
"But how did you get here? I mean, the flight paths of our pods got separated!"
"Well, I certainly didn't land in the city. But I'm a great survivalist. My instincts
"You must have walked a long way."
"Sure did. After many days I finally found a hotel and holed myself up in fear. Being in an unknown city
it worried me. I was in there for 2 weeks
But I made some friends. They gave me support. I finally gained the courage to get out. But I'm a magnet for trouble
however I ended up near the Capitol, and my adventures witnessed seen by Nah'Yair and Vespera. They invited me to the race automatically. I felt honoured to be recognised."
"And it's so nice of you to sit next to me! Oh!"
Leah leaped up.
"I never introduced you to my new friend. Mar, this is Chouko, the Red Panda."
"Hi!" greeted Chouko.
"Hey there! Aren't you adorable!"
"Aw, thanks! Hey, what are you going to do with the prize? Those dragon hides can sell for millions!"
"Me? Well, if I won, I'd take lessons in spacecraft piloting, and buy my own. The cruiser I was on board was attacked and my escape pod ended up here."
"Hey! Leah came here in an escape pod too! I think I remember her telling me about you!"
"Aww! Anyway, I bet all that prize money can help get the cruiser ship-shape once more! What about you, Chouko?"
"I'm not in it for the money, I think. I just want to prove myself. I want to show Aleria that small can be mighty! What about you, Leah?"
I don't know
perhaps I could donate it to some science lab researching alternate dimensions or something. I come from a really far away dimension, hopefully funding can get me back, unless my friends get to this dimension first. My travel here was accidental, I'm trapped here now."
"Sh!" whispered Mar. "Look!" mar pointed at the lectern. Vespera approached it, followed by Nah'Yair and Carlos.
Vespera spoke into the microphone.
"Greetings, everyone. You are all here for the revelation of the 32 entries that will go through to the first round of the Race of Aleria. We have deliberated for weeks, and are now ready to reveal those who have made it. To read the list, I give you my associate, Nah'Yair."
"Thank you, Vespera." Said Nah'Yair, taking the stage. "I have here the list of Round 1 contestants, arranged in no particular order. If your name is announced, please stand up, and head into the Capitol along the path marked by the barriers, and wait in the room you end up in until all 32 entries have been announced. Those who are not announced have not made the audition, and will have to return home. But remember, even if you did not make it, at least you tried. No regrets.
"And now, the entrants who made it. Firstly
"Whooo!" Mar-Lynn leapt up and headed downstairs, while the crowd applauded, even specators on the sidelines. She shook hands with some of them, presumably the friends she made at the hotel, and headed into the Capitol.
Kysar was one of the large entrants at the sides of the benches, a floating shark with a glass tank on its top. It floated into the Capitol.
And so it continued, as names were called, and entrants left to the Capitol. Leah grinned when he she heard "Tasman and Hitch!", but was still anxious, still worrying if she wasn't entered. But, surely
Leah could hardly believe it. She was chosen. Applause came from all around as she said farewell to Chouko ("but I hope you get picked too!"), and headed into the Capitol. She followed the path laid out into the waiting room, where she met all those names that were announced before her. She recived applause from the room, and plenty came from Mar, and from Tasman & Hitch.
"Well done!" said Hitch. "Never expected it!"
"Thank you!" replied Leah, smiling. "I'd better meet everyone! Who knows who I'll be against!"
Leah greeted her fellow racers, and more continued to enter the room, until it had filled up. A full spectrum of colours, a wide range of sizes. But
And then, Vespera and Nah'Yair came.
"Congratulations" stated Vespera."You have all been selected for the Race of Aleria. You will all spend the night living in luxury within the confines of the Capitol, but from tomorrow, you must put all of that behind you. When the time comes, you will all be directed to the teleporter room, where we will make the draw for Round 1. There will be sixteen matchups of two, and only sixteen will make it to the next round. We shall see you then. Until then, enjoy yourselves. We'll leave you to get acquainted further with your possible opponents, and soon I'll send Nah'Yair down to escort you to your bedrooms. Enjoy yourselves, and may the best racer win!"