Posted by: Natasha A. Morea | 04/28/2011

Taris part 9

Aiden and I walked along quietly on the crowded streets, neither one of us quite knowing how to act. A couple kissed in an alleyway as we passed, causing me to blush in remembrance of what my own kiss had led to last night. Good thing my helmet was firmly in place to hide my reaction! I wondered if Aiden sensed the pounding of my heart, beneath my armor. I took a deep breath as he and I stepped up to the back door of Dak’s shop, shoving all memories of last night firmly from my thoughts. It had no place in my mind today. There was too much to do, too much at stake.
The bike was ready just as promised. Shorcuk had done an excellent job!
“Is this the same bike? It is so beautiful!”
Dak laughed. “Yes, it is a lot prettier than it was, but more importantly, it works.”
Aiden walked over and inspected the swoop bike. “So, when do I get to test drive this thing?” He rubbed his hands over the handle bars as he spoke.
Dak walked over and patted Aiden on the back. “Patience, you will have plenty of time to learn how to be a swoop jockey. The trials don’t start until later this afternoon. I secured us a few hours on the track to test this baby out.”
Aiden stepped away from Dak, squinting his eyes, as if slightly annoyed. Dak didn’t seem to notice Aiden’s actions, but I did. I wondered why those two couldn’t just get along. It would make life so much more enjoyable.
Shorcuk stood up and growled out something in his native tongue.
I nodded. “Sounds like a plan to me. We will grab a bite to eat and join you at the track.”
Aiden, Dak and I stepped out of the shop and made our way across the street to the nearest diner.
The delicious aroma of food assaulted my nostrils, as we opened the door and entered the diner; my stomach growled in response. The waitress seated us in a corner booth. I slid in next to the wall, facing the door. I liked to be able to see the exits, for safety purposes. Aiden and Dak both attempted, simultaneously, to sit down next to me. Aiden was just a bit faster, sliding in and glancing at Dak with a smug look. Dak, reluctantly admitting defeat, seated himself across from us.
I placed my helmet on the table in front of me, trying hard not to laugh at the childishness, the two men were exhibiting. The waitress came for our order and luckily, their behavior was pushed into the background for a while. The meal passed pleasantly and soon enough, it was time for us to head to the track.
The track wasn’t as packed as I remembered from my previous visit. There were still a few hours until the trials began, so the only occupants were racers, taking practice runs and making adjustments to their machines. I glanced around as we entered the track, looking for any sign of the Blade Vipers. Shorcuk was to the rear of the track, resting near our new bike. Aiden went over to the registration booth to sign up as our racer.
Dak walked beside me. “Well, we will see what this baby is made of. I hope she does as well as I think she will.”
I smiled. “With Aiden on that bike, it will do extremely well, you will see.”
Aiden chose that moment to join us. “All right then, tell me what I need to know.”
Dak and Aiden talked intently for about ten minutes and then Aiden moved the bike to the starting position. Up until that moment, I hadn’t been worried, but I had heard stories about bodies being mangled during these kinds of races and I did not want the see Aiden’s strong frame twisted and broken.
Aiden looked at me, as he readied himself for the test run. “I will be fine, Na’sha. The Force is with me.”
He reached out to touch my arm reassuringly. I felt my heart leap into my throat as he fired the bike up and I was ushered out of harms way by Dak.
I squinted my eyes, prepared for the worst, yet hoping for the best. I felt like an eternity had passed before his run was complete and yet it had only been a couple of minutes.
“Not bad, not bad at all,” Dak smiled widely.”For a first timer.”
Aiden parked the swoop bike and dismounted. It was all I could do, not to run to him. I was so happy he was still in one piece. Instead, I calmly followed Dak over to where he stood. Shorcuk hurried up to examine the bike.
“That was certainly a rush!” Aiden smiled, eyes twinkling with excitement.
“You haven’t seen anything yet.”Dak said. “You will have to shave quite a bit off of your time, but I must say, I am very impressed.”
He held out his hand to Aiden in a sign of camaraderie. Aiden gave a crooked grin as he excepted Daks hand.
“Like I said, How hard can it be, if you can do it?”
Dak gave a raucous laugh. “Don’t get all cocky just yet. You still have to complete a trial.”
I would be glad when all of this was over with. I didn’t like Aiden risking his life like this. I could only hope that all of this would not be in vain. Aiden had to be good enough to gain some interest from the gang members. We needed to win their trust and learn more about them. I had to find Manias’s daughter ….. and soon.
Dak told Aiden that he had time for one or two more runs before the others would be arriving for the races. He looked the bike over with Shorcuk and then slapped Aiden on the arm.
“Ready when you are.”
What about me?! I wasn’t sure that I was ready for this. I was more nervous than I would have been if I had been the one entering the race. I felt an excited queasiness in the pit of my stomach. This was going to be a long day!

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