Spherodon “Charger”


For the first time in generations, the post-war boom produced a new class in society: the young, spoiled, idle rich. Sons and daughters of families that had made quadrillions from exploiting the war effort found themselves in the enviable position of never having to study, work or achieve anything. The ennui that inevitably results from such a situation had the effect that it always does, as over-indulged, bored young aristocrats pushed their boundaries ever further in the hope of a glimmer of entertainment.

When the Spherodon Javelin, as it was originally known, was released it was an immediate sensation amongst these disenchanted youths. Aggressive, sleek looks and high performance coupled with very demanding handling from the single powered drive wheel at the rear guaranteed an exciting driving experience whilst stroking the adolescent’s fragile ego.

First, of course, races began to be arranged at clandestine meetings. Steering of the Javelin is achieved by use of the driver’s own bodyweight, leaning into curves adding a great deal to the driving experience. So, naturally twisty roads, ideally on high mountainsides were chosen for the most dangerous of races. The death toll was accordingly high, but a combination of conceit, self-belief and the downright stupidity of youth ensured a plentiful supply of competitors.

However, over time, the lure of the simple road race waned and it was left to the notorious adrenaline addict Neale “the Wheel” Featherington-Type to invent an even more perilous pastime: Spherodon Tilting, or Sphero-Jousting. The idea is no doubt obvious. At first, the challenge was little more than a high-speed game of chicken: two competitors would face off against each other over 500 yards, driving at full speed head-on until one driver’s nerve broke. Egos being what they were, in many instances neither driver would turn aside, and crashes were the rule rather than the exception.

Interestingly, in practice, the Charger’s design turned out to be quite safe for the “sport”. The conical nose ensured that the vehicles would slide fairly smoothly past each other with little damage – as long as each driver remembered to apply the brakes before hitting the spectators. This was, of course, until less sporting and more dangerous competitors realised that with judicious last-minute braking (causing the nose to dip beneath the opponent’s Charger) followed immediately by hard acceleration (causing the nose to rise up again) it was possible to flip the opponent’s Charger up, exposing (at best) the drive wheel to ruinous puncture or (at worst) allowing the nose of the attacker’s car to penetrate the passenger cabin – usually with fatal results. This was known as the “coup de main”, literally an “underhanded” manoeuvre.

Only the most skilled drivers were able to perform this manoeuvre successfully, with the majority lacking the necessary “feel” for their vehicle to control the braking and acceleration correctly. At the end of any tournament the ground would be littered with destroyed Chargers, their noses driven irreparably into the ground at high speed after the driver had braked too hard and “ostriched,” as the mistake became known.

Thus it was that Spherodon Tilting (now in the more literal sense of the word) became an often fatal sport. In a desperate attempt by the authorities to stamp it out, drivers were successfully charged with assault with a deadly weapon, intent to murder, and even murder in the first degree. Unfortunately, in many cases the wealth of the participants enabled them to buy themselves out for little or no jail time, and it was commonplace for the society pages to list numerous deaths of young aristocracy, each one chalked up to the infamous Spherodon Charger.

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