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Bang Dream! Shifting Gears

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Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 8 AM

Rui sat down in her seat as the bell rang, signaling that class was beginning. She avoided eye contact with Morfonica, as well as the rest of the students that sent a gaze her way.

'Something is clearly amiss. I understand why the rest of Morfonica would be gazing at me. But other students as well? If Morfonica discussed what had taken place at the student council's office then that could very well be the reason. However, they wouldn't discuss that sort of thing so openly... would they? I should hold off on jumping toward any sort of conclusion until I know more.'

Rui wouldn't have to wait very long before students started whispering about why they were staring at her. However, it wasn't because of the incident inside the student council's office like she had predicted.

"Did you hear? Rui was with Rinko Shirokane!"

"I heard that those two are gonna be racing tonight, right here at Tsukinomori!"

"Whaaa? Seriously? Rui's facing someone from Roselia!? She's bound to lose!"

"I heard Rui actually beat Masuki Satou of Raise A Suilen last night! So, she may actually have a chance of pulling this off."

Rui rolled her eyes before letting out a sigh. How did they find out about Rui racing Rinko anyway? She just told Rinko about the race a few minutes ago! She'd have to get more information after class was finished.

Roselia's Garage, 8:30 AM

Rinko's R-34 slowly pulled into the driveway, as Rinko got out of her car and headed toward the house through the garage. She saw Sayo leaning against the hood of her Carrera with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.

"Sayo... what seems to be the matter?" Rinko asked as her lavender eyes softened.

"Rinko..." Sayo's tone was icy. "Why are you racing tonight?"

Rinko gulped.

"I... ran into someone I saw last night... and I decided... to challenge them to a race. To see if... they're okay." Rinko said as she avoided eye contact with Sayo's emerald green eyes.

"You left early this morning... where were you going?"

Rinko gulped once again.

"Tsukinomori..."

Sayo's eyes narrowed, proceeding to glare at the shy timid girl.

"You mean you went to Tsukinomori... and challenged someone to a race. Rui Yashio I assume?"

Rinko's lavender eyes widened.

"Y- you mean that-"

"The Tsurumaki Corporation posted an article about it? Yes. And you didn't think to tell any of us about it?!?" Sayo said, lashing out at Rinko.

"I... it's a personal matter Sayo-"

"Personal feelings don't belong in Roselia!!! Or did you forget that Rinko?" Sayo said lashing out with more venom in her tone.

"I...I didn't.... but if...I didn't go then... the issue wouldn't be solved... and Rui-"

Sayo once again interrupted her.

"You should know better than to challenge anyone to a race. We don't go and throw out challenges. We wait to be challenged and test our cars against people who we believe will push us to our limits and then some. We don't have time to waste on our personal issues. We agreed to that when we joined Rinko... I assume you remember."

Rinko slowly nodded, she remembered all too well.

Haneoka Girls High School, One Year Ago, August 19th, 9:30 AM

An orange 1993 Mazda RX-7 and silver 2014 Carrera were parked outside Haneoka, the two drivers leaning against their cars. Lisa, dawning a red t-shirt with blue shorts and sneakers, was the first to speak up.

"Yukina said we were meeting here to meet potential new members?"

Lisa said with a smile, leaning against her Mazda casually.

Sayo, with a light blue buttoned up shirt, black shorts and converse sneakers, spoke with her arms crossed and her eyes closed.

"Yes. Yukina told us to meet them here, and that she would be by as well. In fact..." Sayo slowly opens her eyes. "I think I hear one of them coming now."

Both Sayo and Lisa turned their heads to the sound of a loud engine, as they saw a black 2011 Tesla Roadster park next to Sayo's Carrera.

A girl stepped out, no older than about sixteen. She had dark purple pigtails, crimson red eyes, a black shirt, black shorts and black sneakers.

"Spawning from the darkest depths of hell, comes a creature so dark, so dangerous that...umm... umm... "

Sayo pinched the bridge of her nose. She wanted nothing more than to slam her head through the windshield of her Carrera, or just drive off right then and there. Someone that acts like a child still in elementary school, should not be in a racing team such as this one.

Lisa spoke up.

"A Tesla huh? That's awesome!! Those things are fast!"

The girl beamed in excitement.

"Yeah yeah!! I absolutley love Teslas!! My older sister drives one and she's so cool!! I want to be just like her! So i-"

"You bought a Tesla so you could copy your sister. I suppose your driving style is very similar to hers as well? You lack your own identity so you cling onto your older sister...I already fucking despise you."

Sayo stated, practically staring a hole through the younger girl, as the young girl whimpered in fear from Sayo's words and gaze.

"Sayo be nice!!" Lisa scolded gently as she smiled at the younger girl.

"I'm sorry about Sayo. She's a good driver but she's kinda rough around the edges. I'm Lisa by the way!! What's your name?" Lisa closed her eyes and smiled as the young girl's crimson eyes lit up.

"I'm Ako Udagawa! I can't wait to be a part of Roselia!"

 

"That's if we deem you make the cut."

Sayo stated in her usual icy tone.

"Anyway, Ako do you know if any other people were coming this way?" Lisa asked with a smile.

Ako's crimson eyes averted to the ground.

"Well...I didn't see anybody else coming down this way. I told my friend about this, but I don't think she's coming..."

Ako let out a sigh as Lisa gave a soft smile.

"Hey there's still time! Your friend may be showing up after all!"

Shirokane Residence, One Year Ago, August 19th, 9:40 AM

Rinko sat alone downstairs, eyes sadly gazing at the black and white keys of her piano. The piano that had made such beautiful harmonies and melodies, the same piano that brought tragedy to several other young musicians simply trying their best to get to the top of the music world. People playing guitars, bass guitars, pianos, and...violins.

Thinking about the violin made Rinko sigh. Looking down at the black and white keys, Rinko couldn't help but feel consumed by the dark aura that she felt radiating off her piano. All the destroyed dreams, all the passions that she had killed, all the misery she had caused because of the instrument. It all came rushing inside Rinko's mind,as Rinko felt herself drowning in the darkness that was her piano. She snapped out of her thoughts as she felt her phone vibrate.

Text message from "Ako" and "Kanon Shizaki 🎹🖤" received!
Ako: RinRin!! The meeting with Roselia is at Haneoka!! I sense two powerful bosses here, and i'm kinda scared...
Kanon: don't let this day get you down... it's sad but that's what happens when you play music competitively. If you ever need to talk, i'm here for you always. 🖤

Rinko couldn't help but smile at the message from Kanon. She was Kanon's student after all. To see Kanon give advice like that brought warmth to Rinko's heart. As for Ako's message, Rinko was a bit uncertain. Should she go? Maybe... just for a little while right? It's better than staying here staring at the piano... feeling all this guilt...

"Every piece... meaningless..."

Rui's words echoed through Rinko's mind, as Rinko quickly grabbed her car keys and left her house.

About twenty minutes later (and almost getting lost thanks to Ako's directions) Rinko finally made it to Haneoka. She parked her R-34 next to Ako's Tesla. Rinko stepped out of her R-34, dawning a black tank top, dark blue shorts, and black sneakers. Rinko avoided eye contact with the two other girls that she wasn't familiar with.

"Hi!! You're another one of the new recruits right? My name's Lisa! The moody one leaning by her Carrera is Sayo. What's your name?"

The woman known as Lisa smiled as Rinko started stuttering.

"M-my name is...R-Rinko Shirokane. I- it's nice to m-meet you."

Lisa smiled brighter. "I see you drive a GTR. An R-34 Skyline is a great choice. It's an all wheel drive, so you've got a lot of traction and grip. Not to mention getting off the starting line is pretty fast! Great choice for a car Rinko!"

Rinko blushed at the praise coming from the older woman, this wasn't what Rinko was expecting from Roselia at all. She expected them to be more... strict... more competitive.

"T- thank you very much Lisa. I-"

Rinko was interrupted as she heard another car's engine, she followed the sound and her lavender eyes widened. A white 2018 Mustang GT pulled into the parking lot next to Lisa's Mazda. The driver got out of the car and started walking toward the rest of the group. Rinko and Ako gulped. Long silver hair, sharp golden eyes, white leather jacket, white t-shirt, white shorts and white heels. Each step the driver took felt like the entire earth was shaking. A tremendous aura oozed from the woman. She stopped in front of the other girls, her sharp gaze looking over the rest of the girls.

"I will not mince words. My name is Yukina Minato and I am looking for the best drivers in Osaka. If you don't think you're up for this then get in your car and leave. We don't have time to waste on confidence issues or anything personal. You will leave your personal problems and goals far behind. You are to devote yourself to this team and their purpose: make it to the professionals. I will accept nothing less than your best. Questions?"

"Yeah! What do you mean by leaving our goals behind? We should only be devoted to the team but we can't have any goals of our own?!" Ako said, completely flabbergasted. She knew Yukina was going to be harsh and dictator like, but this? Not being able to have any sort of goal yourself? Just devote yourself to the team and that's it?!

"Congratulations, you've reiterated what I have already stated. When you agree to join Roselia, you will agree to these conditions. No goals of your own, no personal feelings to cloud your judgement. No personal issues to get in your way. You are not to challenge anyone, we are only going to accept challenges that will strive us to push forward. Test the limits of ourselves and our cars, test how far we can go as drivers. If you do not feel that the person who challenged you will be a suitable or worthy opponent, then you have every right to decline that challenge."

The rest of the girls gulped and nodded, hearing Yukina's icy tone was enough to convince everyone to keep their mouths shut. Yukina slowly walked over, peering at the Tesla and the GTR.

"A Tesla and GTR... whoever owns the Tesla is either very brave or simply an idiot. An electric engine could very well die out on any track if it's not charged. Not to mention the power comes with the cost of being able to handle the car. If you can't handle your car then you are useless to this team. As for the GTR owner, I actually have a bit of respect for you. An all wheel drive causes great traction and grip. Not to mention off the starting line it's relatively fast. I want this GTR upgraded, I want the engine to reach about 400 horsepower, and I want either the acceleration or speed to be improved. Do I make myself clear?" Yukina asked with an icy tone cold enough to make icebergs freeze. Rinko gulped and nodded in fear.

"Y-yes! I understand."

Yukina looked at Rinko and Ako from the side of her eye.

"What are your names?"

"Ako Udagawa. And i'll make you regret calling me an idiot!! I'll make my Tesla faster than your Mustang!!"

"R-Rinko Shirokane...I own the GTR. I- i'll do as you say and modify it right away!"

Yukina nods. "Good. You're capable of listening. Now let's see how well you both handle your cars. You are to both get inside your cars and do a lap around Haneoka. There are some decently sized straight roads, but there are several corners. Some of them are small, others are wide. Some corners will be sharp, so it's up to you to decide when to brake and what gear to have the car be in. This course is perfect for both of your cars. Now get inside your cars. Time to see if you're fit to join Roselia."

Roselia's Garage, Present Day, August 19th, 8:40 AM.

Lisa stepped outside, noticing Rinko had come back.

"Ah! Rinko you're back!!"

Rinko gasped and smiled.

"Good morning Lisa!"

Sayo grit her teeth in annoyance.

"Rinko!! Do you not understand the magnitude of what you just did?!? If Yukina was here you'd be lucky enough to still have your damn car! The fuck were you thinking?!"

Rinko whimpered to herself as Lisa chimed in, placing a hand on Sayo's shoulder.

"Come on Sayo. I've seen the article too and i'm not that upset about it. Besides, if Rinko wins then there's no trouble right? And who knows? Rui may pose a challenge. She did beat Masuki Satou in her first race after all!"

Sayo rolled her eyes in annoyance. "The only one that's actually a good driver on RAS is Layer. Everyone else on that so called racing team isn't worth our time. They're like a slightly upgraded version of Afterglow with the exception of Layer...Layer's good enough to join Roselia..."

Lisa gave Sayo a smile and looked over at Rinko. "Just make sure your GTR is ready for tonight okay?" Lisa winked and grinned as Rinko nodded.

"Yes! I'll bring v- victory to Roselia!"

Sayo growled to herself. 'You'd better Rinko...for your sake and everyone else's.'

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 12:30 PM, Cafeteria.

The four members of Morfonica quietly sat at their usual table, a silence looming over the rest of the group.

Touko was the one to finally break the silence.

"You guys think Rui's okay?"

Everyone else tensed slightly at the mention of Rui's name.

"I- i'm not sure...her snapping at us like that... that isn't like her. But... whatever is happening with her...m- must of caused this...if only...we knew what it was then we could-" Mashiro's miniature speech was interrupted by Tsukushi.

"Rui said she needed to solve this on her own... it pains me to say this but we should probably let her be..."

Nanami pulled her phone out, her eyes widening.

"Woah." Was all that Nanami could mutter out as the rest of Morfonica faced her with piqued interest. Nanami showed her phone to the rest of Morfonica as they all read the title of the article to themselves before letting out a collective "WHAT?!?!?"

R-Rui's racing Rinko Shirokane?! T- tonight!? Here?!?" Mashiro stuttered in shock.

"This is what she meant when she said she needed to solve this on her own?!? A race against one of the best drivers in Osaka?!" Touko shrieked.

"A R-34 Skyline against a Z28 Camaro...Rui... whatever you're thinking... you'd better be careful." Tsukushi muttered to herself.

Chu2's Garage, August 19th, 1:00 PM

Chu2 bit into her jerky extremely harder than usual, reading the article that the Tsurumaki Corporation had posted. "Rui Yashio...how dare you. Roselia is our target!! The mere thought of having someone else race against Roselia is unacceptable!!!"

"Quit your fucking complaining Chu2." Masuki growled to herself, stepping inside the garage and taking a seat on the nearby wooden stairs. "So what if Rui races someone from Roselia? Big fucking deal."

Chu2 growled, grabbing Masuki by the shoulders. "Have you forgotten it's our goal to defeat Roselia?! We formed this team for that sole purpose and now Rui could very well beat one of Roselia's drivers!!"

Masuki rolled her eyes. "Quit being so damn dramatic. Rui beats me and all of a sudden you're getting hysterical because there's a chance that Rui could win? You do realize we're talking about Roselia right? The best drivers in Osaka? And Layer's ranked right up there with them! Rui ain't even ranked Chu2 so stop worrying will ya?"

"We shouldn't judge someone based on whether or not they're in the top ten. Rui Yashio is proof of that." Layer stated, appearing by Masuki and Chu2 as said girls jumped out of shock.

"L-Lay! I didn't even hear ya come in or nothin!" Layer chuckled to herself as Masuki shuddered.

"If Rui is successful against Rinko tonight then that simply means Rui is as skilled as someone from Roselia. She could be a potential target for us as well. But I suppose as a team our goal is to defeat all of Roselia and be the first ones to do so." Layer rolled her eyes before continuing. "Personally i'm looking forward to this. A newcomer on the racing scene against someone who's on the best racing team Osaka has to offer. Color me excited." Layer smiled as Masuki smirked to herself.

"Rui Yashio,Rinko Shirokane, shit's going down at Tsukinomori... and those two fuckers are gonna tear that course up!"

Yashio Residence, August 19th, 2:30 PM

After a rather quiet goodbye from the rest of Morfonica, Rui had driven home. She stepped out of her car, closed the car door and headed inside the house. She couldn't blame Morfonica for the quiet goodbye she got, she was the one who lashed out at them after all. Rui wouldn't put it past them if they hated her. She'd hate herself if she was put in their shoes. Getting lashed out at just because someone suffered from pressure and anxiety and they decided you were going to be the target of their rage. Rui quietly cursed at herself before heading up to her room, proceeding to do some mathematics.

 

'Rinko...I do not know if this race will be the solution I am seeking... however I suppose it could not hurt to try. It is certainly better than bottling this up anymore. I've already done so much damage to the relationships I have... it certainly could not get any worse... even if I was to lose. It would not be so bad... it is Rinko after all... and she's a natural talent. It was foolish to accept...but... if I hadn't... i'd only bottle this up more...Touko...Nanami...Tsukushi....Mashiro...mom...I hope one day you can all forgive how i've treated you this day...'

Rui eventually finished her math homework, then opened up her phone. She stared silently at the article that was posted. She saw the headline about her taking on Rinko tonight and rolled her eyes. 'Of course everyone would be aware of it... this article was posted almost immediately after I challenged Rinko.'

Rui noticed the article had mentioned Rinko's car as well as Rui's. 'So my Camaro is a Z28... and Rinko's is an R-34 Skyline...hmm...'

Curious, Rui typed in R-34 in the search box and found several pictures of the car. She found the car came in a variety of colors, but what mostly caught her eye was what she was reading about the engine. A 2.6 liter turbo? What's a turbo? And how does it differ from her engine? She then saw that the car already had 320 horsepower. Going off of what Mashiro had told her, Rui may not have the advantage when it came to power. She recalled Mashiro telling her that her Camaro's engine had 300 horsepower or more. But could she have an advantage when if her engine was more powerful? If something was more powerful it could be harder to handle. That's common sense. However, she was able to constantly steer the car correctly back onto the track after feeling the car's rear swing out. That's when Rui remembered something else as well, she felt it at the beginning of her race with Masuki. Some sort of ditch or gutter, or perhaps it was gravel? Curiosity striking her again, Rui typed in gutter driving in her search box. What she found was a video. She clicked
Curious, Rui typed in R-34 in the search box and found several pictures of the car. She found the car came in a variety of colors, but what mostly caught her eye was what she was reading about the engine. A 2.6 liter turbo? What's a turbo? And how does it differ from her engine? She then saw that the car already had 320 horsepower. Going off of what Mashiro had told her, Rui may not have the advantage when it came to power. She recalled Mashiro telling her that her Camaro's engine had 300 horsepower or more. But could she have an advantage when if her engine was more powerful? If something was more powerful it could be harder to handle. That's common sense. However, she was able to constantly steer the car correctly back onto the track after feeling the car's rear swing out. That's when Rui remembered something else as well, she felt it at the beginning of her race with Masuki. Some sort of ditch or gutter, or perhaps it was gravel? Curiosity striking her again, Rui typed in gutter driving in her search box. What she found was a video. She clicked on it and when she saw the person in front of the car, her eyes widened.

"...Mom...." Akira had a black leather jacket, her natural black spiky hair, a choker, black pants and black combat boots.

"We're rolling Aki!!" Rui's eyes widened again.

"...Ayasa...."

Akira smiled. "Hey everyone, it's Akira!!" She waved to the camera. "So, i'm assuming you all clicked on this video to learn about gutter driving. Otherwise, why are you here?" She giggled before continuing. "There are two ways to use gutters. I will be showing both of these methods, and then explaining both afterward." Akira stepped inside a car Rui wasn't familiar with, this must have been recorded years ago from how young her mother looked. She then saw both gutter methods shown side by side, but Rui for the life of her couldn't comprehend what was going on. After both methods were demonstrated Akira stepped out of the car and smiled.

"Let me explain the methods to you." Akira smiled. "The first method is to help you pass someone. You'll start with your wheels in the gutter. You'll be shot around the corner and pop out of the gutter before the exit of the turn due to the force. Overall, you'll be slow through the corner and on the exit of the turn but have a higher entering speed. It's because of the high entering speed that you'll be able to pass someone. The second method is where you enter the corner faster than usual while overshooting the apex. The apex is the sharpest point of the turn and it's where you should go your slowest. However, for this method you want to overshoot that. You'll be slower going through the corner, but once your wheels land in the gutter you'll be able to step on the gas much sooner. This results in you exiting the turns quicker and catching up to your opponent. I hope these methods help!!" The video ended and Rui couldn't help but bite her lip.

'Mom.....i... ' Rui quickly stood up, dashing downstairs to grab a pen and piece of paper to write down the methods her mother had discussed.

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 9:15 PM

Unlike the last time a race was at Tsukinomori, this time there was at least double the amount of people at the elite school. At least about a few hundred people, if not a thousand or more were packed in on every straight, turn, and tight corner.

That's when fangirls started screaming, seeing Sayo's Carrera, Lisa's RX-7, Ako's Tesla, and Rinko's R-34 start pulling up to the straight road. Only Rinko's R-34 remained on the straight road as the other three girls parked their cars on the side of the road. All the girls stepped out of their cars as Sayo gave a stern glare.

"Win." It was said with enough ice and venom in her voice that it sent a chill up Rinko's spine. Rinko quickly nodded, then heard the sound of other car engines. Rinko noticed a Silvia S15, a Nissan 300ZX, and a Shelby GT500. Rokka and Pareo stepped out of the Silvia,Masuki and Chu2 stepped out of the Nissan and Layer stepped out of the Shelby.

"Raise A Suilen..." Sayo had her arms crossed as she was leaning against her Carrera.

 

"Roselia..." Chu2 growled through her teeth as Layer softly smiled.

"Sayo... it's nice to see you again. How've you been since last time?"

Sayo grit her teeth as Lisa quickly chimed in.

"Hey hey! Take it easy! We're not here to bring up old memories!! Just here for the race tonight. No need to get all hostile!" Lisa chuckled to try and lift the tension from the situation. Layer smiled.

"Of course Lisa. My apologies. I didn't mean anything by-"

"Yukina's offer still stands you know..."

Sayo coldly interjected, her emerald green eyes glaring at Layer. Layer simply rolled her eyes.

"Tell Yukina she can take her offer and shove it up her ass. I'm not interested."

Sayo growled, quickly approaching Layer.

"Why you little-" Sayo was quickly grabbed by Lisa as Masuki was also grabbed by Layer.

"Masuki let it go. It's alright." Masuki growled, having stepped in to defend Layer in case things got physical.

"It ain't my fault Sayo's still bitter about the tie and Yukina offered you a spot on Roselia!"

Ako's eyes went wide with shock.

"Yukina offered Layer a spot on Roselia?!?" Lisa smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, it was about two years ago..."

Lisa quickly stopped herself, hearing a car engine. Everyone quickly turned their heads, Rinko's lavender eyes sparkling.

"Rui..."

The Z28 Camaro quickly pulled up next to Rinko's GTR. Rui's breath started to catch in her throat again, her heartbeat starting to get faster as she quickly swallowed. She took a few deep breaths, quickly attempting to compose herself as she slowly stepped out of her car. She locked eyes with Rinko's lavender eyes, her magenta eyes still filled with dullness.

"Rui... i'm glad you... made it."

Rui didn't say anything, instead just nodding quietly. The last thing that she wanted to do was talk and say something else she'd regret.

Sayo stepped onto the road, getting in between the two cars. "Alright. Enough, time to get this started. Are you both ready?" Both Rinko and Rui nodded, their eyes never leaving the other's gaze. Rinko finally spoke, holding her hand out.

"Good luck tonight."

Rui quietly lifted her hand, before pulling it back, then extending it toward Rinko's, then pulling it back again, before finally grabbing Rinko's hand. Rinko's hand was warm, her grip was surprisingly firm. Rui's hand was ice cold, her grip feeling almost like a death grip.

Both Rui and Rinko went into their respective cars as Sayo held her hand up.

"We go in five seconds!"

"Five! Four! Three! Two! One! GO!!" Sayo threw her hand down.

(Play "House Of Glass" by Alesti)

Both the GTR and the Z28 left off the starting line, their tires both screeching and squealing as the R-34 starts to get in front of the Camaro. Both cars tires start squealing, both Rinko and Rui step on the brake as both their cars rears swing to the left as a right hand bend was coming up. After the turn was completed, the R-34 was ahead on the straight road by about three car lengths. The Z28 started swerving around a little bit before Rui was able to steer the car and get it back to going straight.

"As expected. The Skyline is leading." Layer states with her arms crossed. "It's got all wheel drive, meaning it has great traction and grip on all four tires. With Rui's Z28, which is a rear wheel drive, the grip and traction is only in the back tires. But what it doesn't have in traction or grip it makes up for in acceleration and speed. This'll come down to whether or not Rui's able to last the entire course."

Sayo nods. "Unfortunately, that won't happen. Rinko's GTR has been modified. 400 horsepower, improved acceleration, Rui would be lucky enough to finish the course while still being able to see Rinko through her windshield."

Both the R-34 and Z28 continue down the straightaway, with the R-34 leading by three car lengths. Rinko peered into her rear view mirror, noticing the Camaro was a little far behind.

'Rui....I hope... you can do better... than this... because if you can't... you'll just continue... to...fail.' Rinko pressed down on the gas, her RPM gauge going up to 5 and her speed gauge going up to about 115 MPH and increasing. Rui grit her teeth, stomping down on the gas as her speed gauge went up to 120.

'As I expected...Rinko's a natural...'

Rui's eyes widen, noticing the first gutter. It was quickly coming up on her side, so she sped up a little, her speed gauge going up to 130. Both cars brake, as Rui's front side tire quickly enters the gutter.

'If I remember what mom said in that video, I already overshot the apex... which just means that all i have to do is...'

Rui quickly steps on the gas, as both cars exit the left corner turn. Rui's Z28 shoots forward, now only being about a car and a half length away from Rinko's R-34.

Rinko's lavender eyes widened a little bit as she continues going down another straightaway.

'What did she just do? She wasn't...as close before....'

Both cars continue down the straightaway with the Z28 only about a car and a half length away from the R-34.

Layer couldn't help but smile to herself as she watched the scene unfold before her on the screen.

'Classic gutter run. I'm impressed Rui managed to figure this out so quickly...not bad Rui Yashio...not bad at all.'

"What the hell was that?!" Masuki exclaimed, her eyes going wide with shock. The Z28 sucks at going through tight corners! Has she gotten faster or what?!"

Layer chuckled. "I'll explain later Masuki. Right now, let's just enjoy this."

Sayo growled to herself, of all the times for Rinko to start losing her lead it just had to be now. Lisa's eyes went wide with shock, as did Ako's.

(Transistion to "Take The Pain Away" by Alesti)

The R-34 was continuing to lead on the straightaway, but only by about a car length. The Z28 quickly started catching up as Rinko smiled to herself.

'Whatever you did... it seems like you're getting better...I hope... you can continue to show me...how much you can improve.'

Rui's eyes widened slightly.

'Am i.... actually... getting closer? I...do i... have...a chance?' Rui gulped, her heartbeat started ringing in her ears. Her breath started to catch in her throat again, alarms were ringing in her head, telling her to turn the car around and go home. To leave and forget this happened. To accept the fact that nothing would change, no matter how hard she tried. Yet she continued to have her foot down on the accelerator. She continued to push forward.

'Why...why am I still... moving...why...am I still trying to...beat her? This... this doesn't make any sense to me...why?! I can't win...sure... i've gotten closer but...i... '

Both cars braked again, their rears swinging out to the right to complete a left handed corner. After the turn, Rui had to steer the car back to going straight. That's when she saw it. Her eyes widening.

'No... you shouldn't be here...none of you should be here...why? You should all be furious with me!! So... why.... why are you here?!?' Rui screamed mentally as she saw the rest of Morfonica against the guardrail.

"Rui!!! You can do this!! Keep going!!" Touko screamed.

"We believe in you RuiRui!!" Nanami screamed.

""Don't you dare lose Rui!!!" Tsukushi screamed

Mashiro's baby blue eyes made contact with Rui through the car window. Mashiro's baby blue eyes had tears at the corner of her eyes.

"Win...win...WIN RUI!!!" Mashiro screamed as the Z28 and R-34 continued down the straightaway.

'Morfonica.... you... you shouldn't... after what I did and said to you... none of you should... it doesn't make any sense... you...i....i....'

Rui's breath was caught in her throat. Why was Morfonica here?! They should be pissed! Upset! Furious! Something, but this? Rui wasn't expecting this at all.

"Holy shit, Rui might actually pull this off!!" Masuki exclaimed with a grin. "Roselia could actually suffer a loss!"

Chu2's eyes went wide. Should she be happy? Sad? Ecstatic? Angry? Rui Yashio just comes out of nowhere with her old Camaro, beats Masuki, and could possibly defeat someone from Roselia?! The team that she vowed to defeat?! Honestly...Chu2 couldn't stand Rui, or Roselia... but... it would be nice to see Roselia knocked down a peg.

"Godammit Rinko!!!" Sayo growled, her emerald green eyes sharpening as she practically pierced a hole through the screen with her gaze. "You made it this far and now you're going to choke?! Now you're going to fail after all the modifications and upgrades we gave that damn GTR?! Unacceptable!!" Sayo screamed as she clenched her fists.

Lisa quietly tried to place a hand on Sayo's shoulder. "Sayo the race-"

Sayo quickly yanked her shoulder away with a quiet growl. "Get the hell off me Lisa...if Rinko fails... then..." Sayo didn't finish her sentence as Lisa quietly nodded in an understanding manner.

The R-34 was only ahead of the Camaro by a car length, with yet another tight turn coming into view. Which meant only one thing. Tsukinomori's final gutter and Rui's last chance to pass.

'What do I do? Do I use the gutter and possibly pass Rinko? What if it doesn't work? Then what? That's it... the race would be over. And i'd lose... i'd fail again... but if I don't use it then-' Rui's thoughts were quickly interrupted as her front left side tire suddenly went into the gutter.

'Ah! Dammit no! I spent too much time overthinking it and now i'm using the gutter run to try and pass!' Rui's breath suddenly became rapid, her heartbeat started pounding so loud and fast that she could hear it in her ears along with several alarms ringing in her head. Then...Rui saw it again. Visions of her and Rinko when they were young, Rinko and her piano playing, the lights of the stage, her not placing, and... the eyes of her mother.

(Transition to "Be My Escape' by Relient K)

All of a sudden, Rui's visions stopped, the pounding in her chest became quiet and regular, and her breathing returned to normal, albeit with a few questions.
'No... you... you're still... you should still be... you shouldn't be here!! Not after I lashed out at you!! Not after all those things I said, which weren't even true. You were just doing what should've been done through all these years, and I pushed you away. So...why?!? Why are you here?!' Rui mentally screamed on the inside, her magenta eyes locking with her mother's natural deep sea blue eyes. Akira didn't say anything, just gave a brief nod to her daughter. Oddly enough, that was all that needed to be said. With a deep breath, Rui gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and held on as the front side tire in the gutter continued to trudge along, Rinko's R-34 getting closer and closer with each passing moment, all the pain Rui went through, all the grief and anguish that Rui kept bottled up for five years, the concert hall hallways, the stage, the lights, the anxiety, the tears.

All of them had disappeared the second the Z28 passed the GTR during the end of the turn and going into another straightaway, right toward the finish line. Rinko's eyes went wide, her lavender eyes going wide with shock before a tiny smile came onto her face. 'I... lost...Rui...passed me... and the finish line...is just up ahead. I'm sure that the rest of the team will be upset...but...' Rinko smiled to herself. 'With Rui shining so brightly... she'll fly... farther than me...like she has blue butterfly wings on either side of her car....'

The Camaro crossed the finish line and beat the GTR by about a car length, and the crowd was met with stunned silence. A member of Roselia had just been defeated...

"FUCK YEAH RUI!" Masuki exclaimed as Layer couldn't help but giggle at Masuki's exclamation. Sayo however, slammed her fist down onto her Carrera's hood out of pure frustration.

"GOD DAMMIT RINKO!" Sayo shrieked as Lisa paled slightly. Ako on the other hand was shaking with fear due to Sayo's anger.

Chu2 was left with a stunned silence, her mouth open wide. Did that seriously just happen? Someone from Roselia lost? To someone who isn't even ranked in the top ten?! Chu2 remained still, her eyes wide, her mouth stayed open. 'Roselia....lost.... someone.... from Roselia.....lost....'

Layer smiled to herself.

'Looks like the racing scene just got a little bit more interesting...all thanks to a little old Camaro and its driver. Rui Yashio... i've got my eye on you.'

Rui exited her Camaro as Rinko parked next to her. Rinko slowly stepped out of her GTR and looked at Rui.

"So...how... do you feel?"

Rui looked at Rinko and for the first time, in about five years, there was a bit of color in Rui's magenta eyes as opposed to the usual dullness.

"Like a weight has been removed from my shoulders...Rinko...I... i'm-"

"Hold onto that childish part of yourself Rui." Rinko smiled. "Don't grow up...at least...not too fast." Rinko gave a small wave and got into her GTR, driving off and leaving Rui all alone for a few minutes.

Until a black C7 Stingray stopped in front of Rui, and Akira stepped out of her car. Her natural black spiky hair, blue eyes, leather jacket, black tank top and pants, black boots, and a soft smile on her face.

"Hey sweetie."

"Mom...i... what are you-"

Akira shook her head, quickly gesturing to the car. "We'll have our conversation later Rui. Right now I think your friends want to talk to you."

Rui's magenta eyes widened as all of Morfonica stepped out of the C7 and ran toward Rui, quickly enveloping her in a group hug.

"Rui!! You actually beat someone from Roselia!! Holy shit!!" Touko exclaimed.

"RuiRui just gets better and better with every race doesn't she?" Nanami chuckled.

"Nanami she's had all of two races..." Tsukushi chuckles.

"But... seriously...Rui? Are you... okay?" Mashiro peers up into Rui's magenta eyes as Rui remained silent before finally giving a brief nod.

"Yes. I'm fine. But... why did you all come here? After what I said and how I lashed out at you all... you should all be furious with me...not coming out to support me..."

Mashiro smiles softly.

"We're your friends Rui... that's why. Do we really need any other reason?"

All of Morfonica smiles at Rui as Rui's magenta eyes widened before a very faint smile comes across her lips.

"Thank you...all of you...I apologize for my outburst this morning and hope you can all forgive me for it... but since you are all here...I suppose you have already forgiven me... even if I don't deserve it."

Morfonica slowly let go of Rui as Akira gently smiled to herself.

'It appears you have people who are willing to share your pain amongst themselves... you've got some great friends there Rui.'