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"Star Keys" (The Word & the Way)

“Keep up 4-2 Zat-U.” 2-8 B Strait chimes words to his fellow mate.

The sparkling droid rolls and the accompanying unit walks along a hallway to a central area, the 3rd of 7 levels, or, decks designed for galaxy gliders. Here, as there is on all gliders, there’s a game area. It sets just below the bridge and above 2 levels of engineering, computer, and lab equipment. When used by troopers, recreational facilities and a small arena keep spirits fresh.

“You want to see the game, don’t you?” 2-8 B Strait asks. “We’re late. Hurry.”

“I’m coming. I’m coming.” Zat-U rolls along.

Others pass their way, these two droids among a few specialty units allowed freedom in the ship. Behind the doors, ahead, where troopers pass with two golems hurrying, space-ball is about to begin.

“Take my hand, Dusty,” Geode tells the computational officer, golden Dusty Data, for the Moondrifter. “The game is already underway. Look.”

“Nice shot!” Close by, two, ladies shriek and clap.

Geode pulls Dusty past crew persons. “This way; I will find a comfortable seat,” he says and she smiles.

“Whoa!” A trooper blurts. His eyes gaze to a droid that jumps, high.

“Ah, ha!” Friends in the small, crowded arena laugh. Each watch excitement and all seem to have fun.

“Sit here,” e-Tay asks Geode and Dusty. Players, race not far from them.

Geode smiles to, Dusty. He waves his hand as Kieri does, with him.

Nik Nik Nik e-Tay’s face shines as a golden moon. Two, red stars lay stamped on his forehead and this Nookian of Nookna 9-b one of many of his people marked in such a way.

E-Tay, winks. “I am glad to have you two with me,” he says and he joins Kieri Oto.

“Oh!” Intent on the game, peering, Kieri laughs as friends do while watching.

“Two more for the team!” e-Tay hollers. His green, bedazzling eyes gaze to a player who scores.

Crewmembers chatter. “It is not easy to compete against droids, against the golems. The mechanical units are organized, flexible, and tireless. Programmed to be successful, each is deadly-accurate as they take aim at the net,” Geode whispers.

Space-ball—the fast game plays on. Droids and troopers race along a wooden, rectangular surface. An inflated leather ball is thrown to team members, bounced, and pushed up and into circular, rimmed nets suspended from two poles at opposite ends of the surface.

Scores are kept. Great relaxation for spectators, Captain Toskinov always briefed new recruits, “It’s, marvelous conditioning for participants. On such extended journeys in space physical activity is a requirement and part of the daily log of each member of the fleet.”

Now, the crowd keeps watch. “Yahoo!” Tee hollers. In front of Geode he jumps. “Our team has scored!”

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