III

4: Dancing around the World

III

"Come along, let's go get an ice cream." I said the following morning. "I need to talk to you Kei."

He looked around the rest of the house slowly. "Uh...all right…"

IIIIIIIIIIII

I had to admit, Japan was gorgeous, especially in the winter. I admired the scenery outside from the ice cream shop at the foot of Mount Akagi.

"Thank you for your business!" said the young woman at the front counter as she handed the person ahead of me an ice cream.

"Isn't it a bit out of season to get ice cream?" Keisuke said.

"You complaining?" I snickered.

"Nah nah but seriously. Aniki, what is this about?"

I spoke truthfully as we moved forward in the line. "About your future Keisuke. What do you want to do in life? You plan on hanging around that biker gang forever?"

"Hey I got stuff planned." Keisuke countered.

I knew this was a lie. "Like what?"

"Um…" Keisuke shrugged. "You know, stuff."

"Right. Well I'm willing to put in a word to dad about getting you a car." I said.

Keisuke's eyes lit up. "R-Really?"

"Under one condition. You're getting a job at that bicycle shop near our house. Or anywhere else."

"Wow Aniki! Thank you!" Keisuke looked like he wanted to hug me from how happy he looked.

"Hi, how can we help you today?" asked the girl.

"I will have a single scoop of vanilla." I said.

Really man? I thought to myself. You're in Japan, get something interesting!

"Lemon raspberry swirl." said Keisuke.

"506." the girl said.

The Gamer notified me I had paid her a 500 Yen bill and a 10 yen coin.

We sat down with our ice cream as I spoke to Keisuke. "So." he said digging into his ice cream. "Why do you want me to get a job?"

"It's the only way the old man would be willing to get you a car. Another thing too, you're staying away from that biker gang. For good."

Keisuke put his spoon into the ice cream slowly. "Uh…"

"No excuses. You're turning over a new leaf Keisuke. No more fooling around. You want a car so bad, show dad you can earn it."

"B-But my friends. They're all I got." Keisuke pleaded.

I shook my head, eating this delicious vanilla ice cream. "For now, but I promise you, you'll make new ones."

"Where? At this stupid ass new job you're making me get?"

"You'll see." I said. Keisuke didn't know it, but as soon as I put the Red Suns together Keisuke would fit right in. For now he'd have to stop being lazy I suppose.

The whole question was. How? Ryosuke managed to meet the Red Suns by racing down Akagi, and eventually they came to recognize him as top dog. However, Ryosuke raced on his own in legally sanctioned Rally Races and as the lone wolf, The White Comet of Akagi.

This would be tough to do in about a year or so.

In about a few months, I'd need to master how to use the FC. Then I'd need to make a name for myself as the White Comet in street races and in rallies. Then about six months from now, I'd need to get Keisuke into racing and become the Rotary Brothers and create the Red Suns.

Safely assuming I slip into canon's timeline, which I believe I haven't butchered by being truck-kun'd? A long time from now I should be going to Akina with a fully prepared Red Suns. Assuming, again, that Akina is the first mountain, I am on track and on time to finish training in a week or so.

Granted, the Gamer will heavily accelerate my progress. I should be able to level up from winning races about two weeks from now, then-

"Ryosuke! Hello, earth to Ryosuke." Keisuke snapped my attention back to my ice cream.

"Sorry, just started thinking again."

"About what?" asked Keisuke.

I chuckled. "You wouldn't believe it."

"Try me." said Keisuke.

I sighed. "Racing."

Keisuke burst into laughter so loud the rest of the ice cream store caught attention. "The Golden son, Mr. Goodytwoshoes racing? Give me a break."

"Watch me Keisuke." I said.

IIIIIIIII

The FC's tires squealed loudly. In a few short hours, Ryosuke had heated them properly. The FC became properly attuned to racing despite the stock settings.

Ryosuke upshifted out of the hairpin.

I have to hold up Ryosuke's honor on the Touge. I can't let him lose.

He accelerated quickly down Akagi.

Ever.

Ryosuke braked, the FC backing up and its circled tail lights glowing bright red. The moon shone brightly as Ryosuke executed the braking drift better than before, timing it better.

[Critical Drift! +100 EXP to Hard Drift!]

[You have leveled up Hard Drift to LV 2!]

Ryosuke paid no attention to the Gamer notifications. They were a nuisance and he only used them to gauge tire and brake strength.

The FC's excellent acceleration and light frame let Ryosuke flip around turns with ease, the 20 year old showing off his improvement as the true street racing prodigy of the mountains he was.

Every brake.

He peeled out of the turn, shifting properly and countersteering well the whole way.

Every turn.

Ryosuke upshifted without even thinking about it, the FC backing up and screeching loudly through the turn.

Every shift.

Steam flew from the tires as he flew through the corner, the speedometer sliding down to 40 km/h as he had to slow to turn.

Every corner I practice. I get closer.

Ryosuke thought about what his younger brother had told him in the ice cream store that day. He had to how his brother something else. Something to escape being a biker gang forever. He had to show him.

He burnt rubber flying out of another turn.

With skill.

Ryosuke squinted as the turn approached, waiting until just the right moment before executing the shifting point to begin the drift. His front tires screeched, the back of his car lifting and turning rightward as he faced the inside of the mountain. Another great drift that the Gamer recognized instantly.

[Critical drift! +100 EXP to Hard Drift!]

Ryosuke relaxed, standing up straight in his seat and taking a deep breath.

Wait. Be patient. Akagi will talk to you. Just the right clipping section will appear.

Ryosuke's blue eyes noticed the corner, his body acting out of pure instinct. His reflexes becoming attuned to just the right moment to brake.

Now!

Ryosuke braked hard, downshifted, and countersteered lightly the whole way. He grunted, not getting the right speed. He was fine with the EXP he was getting grinding on the corners, but there was something bugging him.

Another turn and he thought while his tires screeched loudly.

The FC isn't gripping the road at all when I leave the drift. Its transmission must be stock, I'm guessing Ryosuke must've learned clipping points after or right before he upgraded the FC's setting.

He shook his head, still not getting the speed he wanted in every portion of the corner.

Ryosuke executed the same movement again.

This is simple. Brake, shift, turn, shift repeat. The only problem is every corner has different timing. Akagi is tough, the shifts appear in rapid order, which must be fueling my EXP gain.

He checked the right corner of his wind shield quickly, where the Gamer displayed his progress in a HUD of sorts.

Yup. I got to make some money. Fast. The FC can't stay at stock settings if I want to go even faster.

Ryosuke completed the rest of the course easily. Even though it was hard to try and balance the tough turns with the grip of the tires, Ryosuke still finished well within the time he wanted.

The second he reached the bottom he did a 180, the car's tires screeching as he accelerated upward. There was no rest, not for the White Comet.

IIIIIIIIIII

I checked the progress I had made. I leveled up most street racing techniques by about 2 levels or so, and I had one more run in me down Akagi before I turned in for the night and returned to the Takahashi household.

I shut the door behind me, standing at Akagi's peak I looked at this beautiful white machine. I could ask for no greater car, but I wasn't getting the speed I needed from it, even at stock settings. I looked at the sheen of its clean hood. What was the problem?

Seeing Ryosuke's reflection in it's windshield I knew the answer.

It was me.

I was holding back. I was afraid of damaging Ryosuke's perfect angel. Well no more, I was past that. Stock or not, I was ready to push myself and this FC to its limits to get what I knew we could both accomplish. The Ultimate Racer Theory.

IIIIIIII

Ryosuke keyed the ignition.

One more time. Let's do this.

The first hairpin curves were more of a formality for Ryosuke. A way to warm up his tires again and let the transmission gear in quickly for the turns ahead. He knew he couldn't go all out, not yet. They passed along the way a runner stretches and runs a quick lap before the real race.

They were coming, it was time.

There were three tight U shaped turns ahead. Ryosuke knew how they would go, the first one was a tough right, a moderate left a break in the form of a quick straight section and the finishing nightmare left.

Ryosuke shifted well enough, missing the better line and timing by a hair but enough to clear it properly. The moderate left was a quick breather before the abomination of a curve ahead.

All out. Here we go.

Ryosuke took a deep breath, accelerating down the straight before the U shaped turn. The Tachometer flicked upward to 90km/h before slipping down to the proper speed as Ryosuke slowed down for the turn.

Ryosuke braked hard, shifting quickly before turning slightly to the right and hard to the left. The FC faced the inside, the front tires squealing and releasing steam as they slipped, Ryosuke controlling the drift with the steering wheel well the whole time.

He had done it, the fastest drift he could at stock settings. A solid 50km/h at stock settings.

With that triumphant turn cleared, Ryosuke felt invigorated to finish the rest of the course as quickly as he could. Each turn spurned him to go faster down Akagi, the tachometer crawling upwards during the straight sections and flicking downward during the curves.

Surely enough, the Gamer recognized his improvement and his new personal best. He didn't just beat his personal best, he smashed it.

IIIIII

[You have set a new personal best! 07:00:42]

[You have gained +1 LV to Racing level (2-3)]

[You have gained +1 LV to Driving Ability (2-3)]

[All racing techniques are at level 4! You have gained the Novice Racer perk!]

I quickly checked what this was at the bottom of the hill.

[Name: Ryosuke Takahashi

Class: Racer/The Gamer

LV: 3 (14.16% to 4)

SPD: 5

ACL: 6

SKL: 6

Skill Points: 0 (Manual: Off)

Perks: Novice Racer (+5% to SPD and CRT chance for all techniques)]

Curious, I pressed my finger to each stat

[SPD: Speed. Your overall driving speed, important during curve entry and straight sections.]

Well. I don't see why I shouldn't min max this stat.

[ACL: Acceleration. Affects how quickly you can change between sections and how fast you reach your maximum speed.]

Yeah, nope. Still am gonna min max speed.

[SKL: Skill. Determines driving skill and ability. Directly determines critical techniques, tire, break, and car wear. Boosts all techniques.]

Nevermind.

I needed to go back home.

The drive back through Takasaki was again beautiful at night, and it gave me time to strategize.

Grinding every night driving down Akagi was fine. At this rate, I could reach level 13 by week two. Week three I should start trying to find races. Even if I lose I'm sure I could get more EXP that way instead of training. Also I needed money, badly.

I should need to do more runs as I needed more EXP each time Ieveled, but at the same time the Gamer rewarded higher level technique executions so it sort of balanced out. Now the question was, how the hell do I find the people who're gonna make up the Red Suns?

IIIIIII

The next night, after I reached level 3 I noticed something strange appear when I returned to the peak of Akagi's hill.

[Race Unlocked: LV 2 MR2; Condition: Time Attack. Accept: Y/N]

I pressed it and another notification appeared.

[Course: Akagi. Objective: Beat your opponent in a simulated race on Akagi.]

Wait a minute, the Abyss could spawn NPCs for me to race? Okay, let's go. I pressed yes.

Suddenly, the entire mountain changed. Pixels poured across the screen, peeling away another dimension hidden behind Akagi. There was a digital course right behind it, and me and the FC were transported right into it.

Appearing behind me, a black 1992 MR2 Turbo appeared turning its headlights on. It pulled up right next to me and roared its engine. Just like in an arcade game, the countdown began.

5!

I held the brakes spooling up the car's engine.

4!

The MR2's engine roared.

3!

I'd have more skill, but he'd have more horsepower.

2!

I had to win! NPC or not! I had to beat him!

1!

We both went off from the starting line, the MR2 moving ahead of me because of its better grip and power.

The NPC was clearly not very skilled, lacking clear understanding of the hairpins by not timing anything properly at all. Despite my superior timing, his power and the fact that he was already ahead kept him in the leading position.

The MR2 tried to leave me in the dust in the straightaway but I stuck to its bumper like glue.

IIIIIIII

Ryosuke shifted after braking, pressing up close next to the MR2's side bumper as the two entered the curve. Before he could take the left side of the road, the MR2 pulled ahead, again using its superior power to compensate for its robotic lack of skill.

The MR2 was predictable, the FC trying to pass on the straightaway, diving left and right but the MR2 blocking before the next right curve.

The cars slid into the turn, the FC's tires squealing as its tachometer flicked downwards, Ryosuke upshifting and finding enough space to gain the left side position against the MR2. The two cars flew down the straight away.

This is it! I can pass him!

Ryosuke pressed the gas, the MR2 not letting up either, accelerating down the hill as well. The white FC passed the black MR2.

Got him!

Ryosuke's luck paid off, his better SKL stat showing off against the NPC as he successfully passed the MR2. From there on out, the race was over. The only advantage Ryosuke's opponent had was horsepower and all he had to do was stay on his toes and prevent passing. Due to the MR2's lower skill in corners and especially lighter turns, Ryosuke easily won afterward as he stopped anyway counter attack.

At the end Ryosuke was greeted with a notification.

[You have beat the LV 2 MR2! You have gained +200 EXP! You have gained +¥1000]

After checking his menu, Ryosuke found out that the Gamer allowed him to rematch the MR2 as many times as he wanted.

Well. Time to put the nose to the grindstone.

IIIIIIII

I found a small cafe on the eastern side of Takasaki that gave me some time to think.

I ordered a small cafe and did what Ryosuke did best. Strategized.

First, Takumi. How do I beat him? Of course I'd have to level up quickly and then go face but I was at a serious disadvantage. Even if I stay at this every day like I have been, I would be facing someone who'd been driving Akina as fast as they could every day even longer and harder than I ever have Akagi.

As long as I didn't slip up like Ryosuke did. I should win. With extra tire control and speed, I should be able to outpace Takumi for at least the beginning part of the race. Considering I don't lose too much front tire grip, I should be able to continue to stay ahead. The problem was Ryosuke let Takumi counter attack when he was weak, I would need to do exactly as Ryosuke did.

Let Takumi go first, stick right behind him like glue, then when I saw an opening pass him. Then just try and pull away. This was easier said than done, Takumi was only slower than his dad, the God-like Bunta in the anime, but I did have two advantages.

First, time. I had a long time to prepare against him. Second, and this was perhaps my biggest advantage other than the Gamer, I had watched the anime. I knew everything that was going to happen and how fast everyone was, especially Takumi. Thirdly, the Gamer, which was quite powerful.

I mean Ryosuke was already pretty fast in the anime, clearly faster than Takumi. I expect Takumi to still be a bit of a challenge, just not as much as he was in the anime.

Everyone else though should be a piece of cake.

Considering Takumi beat everyone else and I think I might beat him, Takeshi Nakazato, Shingo Shoji, and a couple others to name a few. What'll be really tough might be Rin Hojo later on, and especially Shinji Inui who was a beast at 16 or 17.

The thing is, I was wondering, how exactly would things change now that I was Ryosuke Takahashi?

IIIIIIII

IIIIIIII

IIIIIIII

For the love of god go watch Initial D! Everyone just go watch Initial D. I am not gonna lie, I really want people to get into it. Other than that, a huge thank you to all of you for reading, and someone called "INITIAL Matches" for trying to keep the anime alive on Youtube. Again. Please. Go watch Initial D. Go watch Initial D, I cannot emphasize this more.

Thank you all again!