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Jun 18, 2022

This month's patron-funded story is A Star in the Rough by Lex B Griffin.  It's narrated by Nobilis Reed.

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The JK-10P was a machine quite unlike anything else on the market. Originally a bit of an experimental flop due to the number of oddities in its design, it was meant as 'an exciting, one of a kind solo-driving experience' and configured to mimic a number of now extinct earth animals, none of which had ever been suitable for humans to ride in the first place. 

It was a commodity, but… one that apparently no one wanted… 

That was just because the things were mind-bogglingly difficult to maneuver. 

It took months, even years of training and practice to adapt to the rocking, leaping, and lunging motions the JK-10Ps – or Jackalopes as they came to be known – used to get around. They were excellent for rocky terrain, and an expert rider could make them look elegant in the air. 

It's no wonder they became a sport within just a decade of their invention, and just barely fifteen years after the official league association formed, they were invited to the olympics in New Sanfran. Coincidentally, a city of even steeper hills than its namesake. 

Anton walked the course the day before the race, eyes wide and mouth agape. It wasn't even traversable on foot. Large rocky outcroppings, uneven straightaways. The Jackalope would eat up the terrain for sure, but if the gravel shifted unexpectedly… Anton would have to pay careful attention to make sure he didn't wipe out at the worst possible moment.

It was perfect.

Just outside the city, where there weren't even roads to smooth the way, peaks and valleys – those pockets of straight aways would let you coax your metal beast into a loping sprint, hands gripped to the 'antler-bars' while your body rode the writhing waves of your steed. 

Anton's excitement just to be here was only beaten by his nerves. He was new to the senior league, and this would be only his third appearance on the interstellar circuit. His anxiety was understandable, dammit.

"You'll do great out there tomorrow," Yulia, his girlfriend said, back in their room, calm and patient. She was always the more level-headed of the two of them. Anton loved her utterly for her support, he did, but this time… the olympics were a big deal. He was so early in his career. He could-

"Hush, now," Yulia said again, petting a hand over Anton's shoulder. "Listen to me."

Anton did, blinking and turning to face Yulia, rapt with attention.

"Tomorrow, you're going to go out there, and you're going to ride that monster you call Stella-"

Anton chuckled, he loved his girl, even if her paint job was a little retro.

"And you're going to make every jump, and you're going to wow everyone with your skill and your attention to detail and your focus. And you're going to be proud of that run. That's your only goal. It's your first appearance, you don't need to medal right out the gate. There'll be other chances." Yulia pressed a kiss to Anton's brow.

"And what if I do medal?" Anton teased, knowing Yulia was probably right.

"Hmm…" Yulia pet a speculative hand down Anton's arm and across his belly. "How about this… I'm going to stroke you now, until you're just shy of coming-"

Anton hissed, oh fuck… he knew where this was going…

"And tomorrow, if you're a Good Boy, and do as you're told, then you'll get to come."