Brother Pilot swung the wheeled infernal around the near turn. The front wheels gripped and the back end swung through the dirt, dusting competitors and spectators alike with gravel, rock, and ripping thunder. The momentum shifted Brother Gunner’s slumped body against the receiver of the heavy slugger gun swinging the large barrel around, partially blocking Brother Pilot’s view of the track and opponents. With one hand, Pilot pulled the dead man off the gun and grabbed the trigger grips.
The Icon of Saint Mercury rammed the back bumper of Brother Pilot’s vehicle, trying to spin him off the track and out of the race, but he held tight to both the steering wheel and the gun. The jolt of the strike threw Pilot against his door, but he was also able to yank the gun out of his view.
The Icon of Saint Mercury ground its fenders into Brother Pilot’s vehicle then let off, sliding to the high side to set up its pass.
The Conception of Saint Buick was Brother Pilot’s vehicle. It brought glory to him and Brother Gunner the instant Pilot started the engine for the first heat of the Machinas Festival races. It had brought glory to 30 years of Brother Pilots and Brother Gunners and would bring glory for 30 years more; the Familia Mechanicus, under the direction of the Artifex Rex, devoted their entire lives to the upkeep of the wheeled infernals.
It took questers, adventurers and other chartered trackers 25 years to find parts enough to bring The Conception of Saint Buick to life. Many of them had lost their lives in pursuit of such things as the Distributor Hat, the Glass Sparkers, Belts of Timing and hundreds of other needed parts. 25 years just find the parts, and another 10 to understand how it all worked and to get the vehicle running. A hundred others have been rebuilt since, but The Conception of Saint Buick was the first of the great wheeled infernals, and on this day, all its 35 years of parts and labor orchestrated a glorious show for the citizens of Septimontium.
Brother Pilot had a hand on the steering wheel, a hand on the slugger and his foot on the accelerator. He caught in the corner of his eye the bright yellow fender of the Icon of Saint Mercury coming into view as the heavy vehicle began a confident pass. Mercury’s driver knew that Conception’s gunner was down, so thought nothing of the routine pass. He quickly scanned Conception as he passed but Brother Pilot didn’t take notice. Brother Pilot was busy gauging the distance between the two vehicles; he wanted to make sure there was enough of a buffer zone in case he lost control of The Conception for what he was about to try.
Brother Pilot waited until the Icon entered The Conception’s high front quarter. Keeping his right foot on the accelerator, he lifted his left leg and rested it against the steering wheel to hold the vehicle steady. His hands free, Brother Pilot leaned over, grabbed the grips of the heavy slugger, swung the barrel at The Icon of Saint Mercury and opened fire. What a surprise Icon’s driver received!
Round after round of heavy iron slugs ripped through the Icon. Metal flew and tires shredded, and the Icon started to dig into the dirt track as heavy strips of jagged metal were ripped from the vehicle’s body by Brother Pilot’s gunnery. The Icon of Saint Mercury slowed to a stop, out of the race, smoking and on fire. Its driver climbed from his ventilated vehicle and stood in the gas-soaked track, quickly taking in the metal carnage he had just survived. He looked down the track, smiled and saluted Brother Pilot as the Conception of Saint Buick rolled across the finish line -- steered by his leg, his gunner dead, baptized in shrapnel – gloriously into last place.