Welcome ladies, gentlemen and variants, to the final round of Ballblazer 3097. I'm Slan Sterling, the Voice of the Void, and, ethercasting with me today isArboster Kipling, one of the great Masterblazers of recent times, now Governor of the Omega Colonies. Arboster, welcome. We haven't talked since you purchased the Omega Colonies with your tournament purse. How is it owning a planetary system?
Slan, it definitely beats working. On the other hand, there are times I'd liketo be back in a Rotofoil, working the Grids like any other Blazer.
Arboster, this is the first time an Earthling has made the final round of the Interstellar. What are his chances?
Frankly, I think he's in trouble. These Terrans are a young species - they were barely out of their atmosphere when the game was invented.
Which was when?
Centuries ago, Slan, at the end of the Great Madness - back when there was still war. For deep space dog-fights, you had to maneuver your vehicle under the incredible G-forces of close combat - reversing thrust instantly, sustaining plasma-torpedo blasts on yourenergy shield, that sort of thing. The G-forces during space combat would snap your neck like a toothpick.
And so a whole new breed arose, right? The thick necks, the shortened synaptic connections, the triple-walled lungs.
Exactly. Part of it was just old- fashioned genetic engineering, of course. But Ballblazing developed from actual military training exercises. Theyused vehicles like our Rotofoils, and forcefields to simulate sudden changes in direction and acceleration. Deadly stuff. They busted up ten recruits for every one that finally saw action in space. Praise Mind, the Great Madness isbehind us, and what we have left is the finest sport of all time.
Is it true that a Masterblazer such as yourself has the most highly evolved nervous system of any creature in the galaxy?
Oh, gee, Slan, I don't know about that. The Scylliac Venom Hunters of Trogon - the guys who actually grab the fangs - those are pretty fast boys.
Modesty aside, Arboster...
[Deep sigh.] Well, Slan, Ballblazing isn't just a sport. It's deep disciplinefor the nervous system. When the on- board computer rotosnaps you ninety degrees, just keeping a clear head can be the toughest part of all. But it's worth it. Once you have the pace of Ballblazing, dealing with the rest of the galaxy seems like vacation.
Excuse me, Arboster. Here are the two Rotofoils now, vectoring onto the field.Crockett, from Earth, is in the purple, and Xarta, representing the Minotaur system, is in orange. In the background,we're hearing the traditional "Song of the Grid". That's auto-improvised, of course...
Based on the contributions of former Masterblazers. It is really an honour to hear my own melody in there among those of the other Masters.
The musical essence of Masterblazers of old is heard, as each Rotofoil takes itsplace, ready for the first face-off. Andthe two best Ballblazers in the galaxy are staring down the Grid, meditating onthe "Song", waiting. Xarta attracted some attention, coming up through the preliminaries, didn't he?
Sure he did. That scaly Minotaur can shut-out a Level 9 Droid in less than a minute. But beating a Droid doesn't meanyou can beat a Human. Whereever you go in the universe, there's only one regu- lation Ballblazer game - three minutes, two players, one victor.
Stirring words, Arboster - and here we go! The Plasmorb blasts in from our left, and both Xarta and Crockett are already accelerating downfield. Each had full stick forward even before the orb appeared.
All these boys are hearing now is that freeball rhythm, driving, driving... All right! Crockett's Rotofoil has captured the orb in its Pullfield and now he's veering right, heading for the goal, trying to get around Xarta.
The goal is moving, of course, in the same direction as the ball is fired.
There you go. Crockett's sighted the goal, but he's reversing direction, backing up, faking out Xarta. He's back to where the Goalbeams must have alreadydisappeared over the horizon - but he blasts anyway. That's it! Three points for the Earthling with an early over-the-horizon shot!
And you do want to get those OTH shots in early, Slan, before the goal starts to shrink.
Arboster, you're often credited with perfecting the OTH shot.
Somebody had to.
OK. Here we go, second face-off, the ball blasts in from the right this time,with Xarta out in front. The Minotaur has it! And his Rotofoil rotates to face the goal.
Sign of a good player here is not losinghis orientation during rotosnap. Move forward, forward...
But Crockett is catching up alongside him now - part of the Minotaur's Rotofoil power goes into that activated Pullfield. But Crockett's not using his Pushfield yet.
Good play. You want to get in close, really hear that electromagnetic buzz inyour helmet before you blast. "Max the buzz", is what we teach the nestlings on my planets.
All right. Crockett blasts the ball awayfrom the Minotaur, but Xarta recovers. Crockett is blocking, but - there it is!Straight past the Earthling, into the goal, two points for Xarta.
Classic goal defence there by the Earthling - stay between your goal and the opponent. But it's no match for a good angle shot.
Arboster, we've seen some quick scoring here today.
That's right. These boys have been competing since age twelve. This is the Terran's chance to make a big splash in the galaxy, so a lot is riding on young Crockett.
And here goes the third face-off. Ball in from the right this time, the Roto- foils race down, and Crockett is there a microsecond before Xarta - but he doesn't immediately capture the ball. He's...
What we're seeing here is some fine Pushfield dribbling. Crockett knows thatif he captures the ball, he'll lose power, so he's keeping his Pushfield activated. Each time he gets near the ball, the Pushfield bounces it forward. Fine control there by the Earthling. Buthe has to capture the ball to score.
There - he captures, swings the ball to the left of his view and blasts - ...
... - and misses. The ball bounces off the electroboundary to the left of the Goalbeam. Xarta accelerates, captures...
Crockett is already moving back. He's going to try a block midfield, but Xartais out ahead.
The Earthling has the right idea - the key to active defence is to keep moving,keep moving.
Incredible! Xarta makes an angle shot, the orb bounces off the electroboundary and back into the Grid. He maneuvers around the Earthling, captures the ball directly in front of the goal - ...
... - blast! blast! - ...
... - and that's it! The horizon flasheswith the scoring electromagnetic pulse, and that's another point for the Minotaur. Comment, Arboster?
That score looks close, but i think it'sobvious that we're seeing an outclassed player here. I'd wager to say that a fewhundred million hearts are sinking on Earth now.
[As indeed there are. For the next two minutes, billions of Earthlings, scattered throughout their tiny solar system, bang on every word of the distant ethercast, hopes rising, then dimming, as face-off after face-off. Xarta from the Minotaur system holds the Terran to a handful of points.
Now, with fewer than fifteen seconds remaining, the Terran Crockett is behind nine to one and the face-off begins.]
And here we go with the last face-off; the clock is running, the orb blasts in from the right. Look at that Earthling move!
He's captured the ball and rushes the goal - but pulls back - catching Xarta by surprise.
And there are the first notes of the final countdown...
It's an impossible long shot...
Incredible! He made it! The horizon is flashing, the clock stops with just 2.5 seconds to run... Three points for the Terran push his score back to four points against Xarta's six.
lan, we're seeing history here. One more point and the score goes to five all. Then the game could go into sudden death overtime.
Face-off, the Rotofoils in front of the goals, the orb blasts in - 600 metres per second - the Terran rushes and...
One second, Xarta has captured the orb. He's backing up, killing time - ...
... - and that's it! The clock hits zero, the Terran's Rotofoil spins out inthe traditional loser's penance, the atmosphere over the asteroid glows with the orange colour of the victor from Minotaur.
One remarkable contest, Slan. I think...
Wait one microsecond. Xarta has remainedon the Grid, to accompany the Terran Rotofoil off the field. It's a gesture I don't think we've seen in this tournament for centuries! Arboster?
It's a brand-new Masterblazer's tribute to an up-and-coming species, Slan. I'd say that we're going to be hearing more about Earthlings. A few millennia from now, these Terrans are likely to be real contenders.
Thank you, Arboster Kipling. This is Slan Sterling, the Voice of the Void, returning you to your local ethercast. We'll see you here, next solar cycle, same place, same game. In fact the only game: Ballblazer. Three minutes, two players, one victor!