I familiarised myself with Sol 2's skyway, a track suspended in the endless blue of the atmosphere, suffused with a sunlight that seemed only to grow softer and brighter with the passing years. I forced myself to acclimate to strange, magnetised tracks, and the vertiginous sweep of the hundred foot drop that was the first right turn on Modesto.
Over the years, I developed a level of intimacy I imagine few will ever know. I learned which portions of which tracks might be used in confunction with which ship's engines to whip into a jump that bisected tracks, cutting total times in half. The ground would sprawl below, the ship clipping awkwardly here and there before being flung to the ground, miles ahead of the competition. This was real racing.
I learned to dodge incoming homing missiles, first at low speeds with tricky shunts of air brakes, but later, as it chased me down a straight at half a thousand kilometers an hourlike some unshakeable predator, with a sharp deceleration on the way into a corner that would send the red swirl of its contrail glittering past me as it ricocheted down the track.
Sure, she's showing her age now, but I'm sure she'd make the Kessel Run in like... super few parsecs.
As bombs blossomed into hemispherical gushes of light and smoke, I'd whip through and cross my fingers in hope that there'd be nothing in there to collide with, bursting through to the belt of neon and sunlight on the other side. The exhilaration was unmatched.
Studio Liverpool has closed, so I suppose I've played my last Wipeout game. I'd have felt sickened by the news, but I left my stomach in that sharp left bank in the tunnel that runs beneath the aquarium on Vineta K, only the bluest band of sunlight filtering through to the track below to fall in waves and ripples across the track.
I spent years learning to time the flips to the rear view in the heartbeat after the pilot-assist issued the warning of "MISSILE" to make some effort to jink between the spreading projectiles, only to find that the last race is ended.
I was an anti-grav racing hero. Trained for years for a sport I would never live to see.
It was never to be. It was too beautiful, too pure.