Near one pm, Marr came out of her cabin dressed in her gym gear. She had on a slightly different crop top than earlier in the day. There was a little less of it.
Annee was sitting at the console. She sense Marr entering the crew mess and spun the seat around.
“Dressed for success I see,” Annee said smiling.
“Yep, absolutely,” Marr replied and grinned.
Annee reached behind the console and retrieved the digital ball. She tossed it over to Marr.
“Dukk just headed into his cabin to change. You might have some practice time. I’ll tell him you’ve already gone down.”
“Thanks, Ann. Your allegiances aren’t shifting are they?”
“Not at all. Just being sporting,” Annee replied and smiled.
Marr headed through the guest accommodation. She used the forward ladder shaft to drop down to the lower level. From there she accessed the hold airlock just as she had done with Dukk before departure the evening before.
Marr first practiced dashing and jumping off the walls and ceiling. She did several laps of the tight space before stopping to catch her breath. With a better understanding of how she would control her body in the near zero gravity environment, she turned her attention to the ball.
The ball was twice the size of her hand. It wasn’t heavy but felt solid. The rubber outer coating made it easy to grip in her hand. It felt very similar to the hand ball she was familiar with using. She wasn’t sure how to turn it on, so she practiced bouncing it off the surfaces.
Marr was only just getting a sense of what force was required, when Dukk opened the door. He was wearing a similar outfit to what he wore to the gym, earlier in the day.
“Ready?” Dukk announced as he stepped into the space and closed the door.
“Absolutely, who serves first?”
“The challenger, which would be you,” Dukk answered smiling.
“For now, but that is about to change, Dukk. So how do I turn this thing on?”
“Squeeze it three times to start the match.”
Marr squeezed the ball three times, then immediately served it hard at the wall behind Dukk. It bounced back onto him and back onto the wall. Red light.
“One nil,” she announced triumphantly.
“Nice, no prisoners then,” Dukk said as he retrieved the ball and repeated Marr‘s maneuver.
Marr anticipated the copycat and got to it after the 2nd rebound. Dukk missed the reply.
“Two nil,” Marr said coolly.
Marr won the next two points.
“Come on, Dukk. You are letting the team down,” boomed a voice from the walls. It was Annee.
Dukk and Marr looked up and smiled. A tiny green light could be seen next to a black dot in the ceiling.
“Watch yourself, Marr, he is playing with you,” came another voice. It was Mentor
“Practice time was over, no quarter,” Dukk thought to himself.
Marr served the next ball into the wall hard. Dukk stepped aside and raised his right hand to return the ball. At the last moment, he jumped and twisted. The ball got lost behind him. He gave it a light touch and it rose up with his body. Marr had no idea of the direction the ball was taking. Too late. It bounced of the ceiling, then skimmed the wall and shot towards the floor. Red light.
“One to four,” Dukk said pleasantly.
“Well done,” Marr replied disingenuously.
Dukk won the next eleven points. He used his and her body to hide the path of the ball. He made use of the corners and angles offered by the port airlock door. He pushed the limits of the small court such that Marr was often caught off balance. He used the collisions of their bodies to his advantage.
Heckles and encouragement came from Mentor and Annee as the match continued.
“Do you want to concede?” Dukk asked as Marr lay sprawled on the floor having just missed a repeated twist maneuver.
“A repeat maneuver. The end of the line,” Marr reflected to herself.
“Hardly, I am having too much fun watching your style,” Marr replied innocently.
She won the next point.
“Five to twelve” Marr said provocatively.
“Thirteen to five”, came the smug response on the next point.
It was point to point until fifteen to seven.
“Just a matter of time now, Marr,” Dukk said smugly.
“Finish him,” came a new voice through the walls. It was Luna.
“What is going on?” came another voice. Bazzer had clearly just joined them watching the video feed in the crew mess.
“Check it out,” Luna could be heard saying.
“Cool, what is the score?”
“Fifteen to seven in my favour, Bazzer. When you are ready, I’d like to finish this,” Dukk laughed up at the camera.
“Got you, that was your ego talking!” Marr thought to herself.
“By all means,” Bazzer replied.
Dukk won no further points. Marr had to work hard and they bounced off each other as much as the walls and floor, but she controlled the game from that moment on. Marr had learnt his tricks and leveraged his ego.
As Marr won the twenty first point, Dukk looked over puffing.
“You played me, again! You’ve done this before!”
“Not at all Dukk. I am just a good learner. And you, are an excellent teacher,” Marr laughed.
“Way to go, Marr. So it is me and Bazzer up next?” Luna shouted.
“Yep, one game a piece between old and new crew. Right back to work,” Annee added.
Marr and Dukk smiled up at the camera. The green light went out.
“I am going to do my warm down in the gym as it’s got better ventilation. Coming?” Dukk said to Marr.
(to be continued...)
[Rule of Twelve, Double Take, Chapter 13 - In Between (Passage 3 of 5)]
All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2021 BJ Allen
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Chapter 1 - A routine descent
Chapter 2 - Perspective
Chapter 3 - Grounding
Chapter 4 - Cause and effect
Chapter 5 - The first meeting
Chapter 6 - Staying goodbye
Chapter 7- Instability
Chapter 8 - Orientation
Rule of Twelve, Double Take - Ch15 (Passage 5/5)
“Hi,” came Luna’s voice as she bounced into the suit locker.
Dukk turned around.
“Are you alright? You are all flushed?”
“Yes, I am fine. I was practicing some yoga in zero-G. I lost track of time. Quite challenging and not what I expected.” Luna replied.
“Yoga?” Marr mouthed silently at Luna from behind Dukk.
Luna smiled cheekily.
Marr held her hands up and looked away as if to say ‘I don't want to know’.
Dukk laughed. He’d been an apprentice too once. He knew what was on his mind the first time he was in zero-g. And, he could tell an intentional lie.
“Are you sure you want to try this now? I can go alone and you can get back to your ‘yoga’?” Dukk asked in gest emphasising the last word.
“Nope, I’m good. Let’s do this.”
Thirty five minutes later, Luna stood at the port outer doorway. She was in awe.
Dukk and Luna had completed the same process Bazzer and Marr had done earlier. Marr, with ...
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