“I didn't miss,” yelled Pet over the clanging noise and the screams of the crowd. She glared at the blinking lights. “Check the ball. It’s blue, not orange.” How can two laser ball players foil a cartel boss’ diabolical scheme to steal some prototype crystals and blackmail the Solar System? These crystals stabilize dihydrides that could be used as a novel rocket fuel or a disastrous weapon. More
Petunia 'Pet' Numdahl and Kyle Clawford play laser ball - a sport played at zero gravity in an enclosed court watched by rabid fans. Laser ball requires players of utmost skill to strike a little ball with a racquetball-like racket into their opponent's guarded small goal while preventing this ball from entering their own goal. Not to mention each player is also armed with a small laser pistol whose beam can turn the ball – if struck - to another color, denying a goal.
“I didn't miss,” yelled Pet over the clanging noise and the screams of the crowd. She glared at the blinking lights. “Check the ball. It’s blue, not orange.”
Before playing the championship game on a space station orbiting between the Earth and the moon, Pet, a laser ball unknown, and Kyle, famous to all laser ball followers albeit the loser of last year’s championship match, find themselves caught up in a diabolical scheme of a cartel boss, George Tsau. Tsau plots the theft of some prototype crystals, discovered by Jack Blodder - a rich, fat industrialist with a penchant for gambling (where he expects to win), the finest cuisine (that he loves to eat), and a luxurious life on his terms.
Kyle turned toward the man. He did not personally know Jack Blodder. “You and a lot of other people. Right now I'm kind of busy.”
“I'll make it worth your while.” Jack grinned. “How does a thousand credits sound for a few moments of your time?”
Kyle raised his eyebrows. “For that much money, you can have more than a few moments. What do you want me to do? Kill somebody?”
Kyle is also a gambler whose favorite game, other than laser ball, is six card stud. Unbeknown to him, Kyle has a key role in Tsau’s plan to steal the crystals. In an effort to repay his gambling debts, Kyle had unfortunately borrowed from the cartel boss. Now Tsau plans to call in his marker, forcing Kyle to use his laser ball skills as an unwilling participant in Tsau’s scheme. Pet, unaware of Kyle’s gambling debts, unintentionally gets involved and strives to assist Kyle in stopping Tsau’s plan to steal Jack’s crystals.
These crystals provide the means of stabilizing dihydrides -hydrogen atoms with two additional electrons thereby having two negative charges. Theoretically, when dihydrides are converted to anti-protons and subsequently (in a controlled reaction) combined with protons the energy produced would serve as a new fuel with sufficient power to increase a space ship’s velocity up to 0.5x the speed of light. However and in the wrong hands, these prototype crystals could produce a destructive weapon. If enough dihyrdrides were contained in the crystals, an uncontrolled reaction would result in an explosive force far greater than that from a nuclear bomb. After stealing the crystals from Jack, Tsau plans to sell them to the highest bidder, who can then use the potential of the crystals as a weapon to blackmail the governments of the Solar System.
“Can you repair it?” Jack's formerly content face, as he waited to be fed, filled with concern. “How are we going to get out of here if the engine isn’t functioning? So much for your luck.”
“Of course I can fix it,” Pet said, muttering through her hands. “But not here and not without some special tools and spare parts.”
“You mean we're going to be buried in this hole you created?” Jack almost screamed as his mind pictured his possible coffin. He stood up and started around the table. “That would be worse than being caught by Tsau. At least death would then have been quick.”
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