About solanaball (home of Solanaball NFTs) - available via solsea
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This is a violent future sport where gentleman don't finish last - they don't finish at all!
16/10/21 NEWS - I'm giving away a Solanaball NFT on 1/12/21. See Twitter for details and how to enter.
Solanaball is a fictional sport created by screenwriter and author David Hearne. Here you can find the link to SolSea to buy official Solanaball NFTs and much more.
In the year 2279, Solanaball is King. The rules of the sport are simple. It's like rugby league except a power glove lets you pull the ball toward you and push it to pass. To score a goal (worth five points), one must aim the ball at the aeromar, a narrow slot suspended twenty metres above the centre of the end goal line. If you score, you get to add extra points via a kick (worth one point). A section of the glove contains the triameter, which holds the small ball securely while the magnetic pulse within the triameter both attracts the ball and keeps it safe. Only a heavy blow can knock the ball loose. Sensor pads throughout the club uniforms meant that a blow or jolt to any part of the body will register, so the glove-arm doesn't have to be specifically targeted.
Sensor pads were introduced soon after the sport’s conception, the removal of a player’s arm from his socket ringing alarm bells with the Solanaball governing committee.
However, there are not many other rules on the field - tackles are fine so long as you're not bashing the other player. Human, Catalot (think cat), Tharnian (think angry cat), Canineth (think dog), Vucemar (think snake) or Birdeele (think bird) are just some of the species to take to the field.
For more details, jump to the below link 'Solanaball - the story' to read all about a home game to the Renegades, taking on the Vipers.
With the rich worlds and aliens written about in David Hearne's novels, there's going to be plenty to come, including original content written just for Solanaball.
Entered Solanaball in 2250
Known for their fairness.
2279 roster - Captain and kicker, Lawler. The forwards: Ziggy, Mr. Snow, Frank the Tank and Scarecrow. The backs: Hubris and Fritz. The runners: Nation and Daneel. The centres: Braybrook, Caswell, and Woakes.
Note: Young superstar Wilde missing due to an alleged injury.
Entered Solanaball in 2250
Known to bend the rules. Their is no 'spirit of the game' with the Vipers, only winners and losers.
2279 roster - Captain and kicker, Clay. The forwards: Crichton, Sheridan, Carlos, and Hobbs. The backs: Dakota and Peach. The runners: Darrow and Peggy. The centres: Dicks, Miguel, and Clearwater.
Season 2 cards
More NFT players from both of these teams will appear soon
As well as new NFT releases, other exciting instalments in the Solanaball universe include:
1. More stories
2. Solanaball Comic Strip
3. Solanaball Novella
4. Solanaball Game Development
5. Stay tuned for more in the Solanaball universe!
Solanaball - the story (PART 1)
As the renegades entered the domed arena, Solana Stadium, the chant went up. Lighting flooded the arena from everywhere it seemed.
With an out-of-key mantra the blue-and-gold masses in the stands around them let them know the majority were here to see them. As they were the home team such loyalty was both expected and fitting.
Their captain, Lawler, gave a wave around the ground as he led his troops onto the battlefield. A deafening cheer erupted, breaking the mantra for a moment.
“Put your hands together for the home team, the Renegades!” boomed the voice of the announcer.
The crowd did so, their applause and shouts reaching a crescendo. The din faded as everyone reverted back to their ‘team spirit’ voices. The attendance figure once again exceeded capacity. Despite the disappointment that Wilde was unable to play due an injury, the crowd were still looking forward to a gruelling contest, even without one of their stars. Of course the press wasn’t buying Wilde’s injury – he’d been filmed just a few nights ago dancing on a table, apparently intoxicated. It was likely the club were in damage control mode and that meant keeping Wilde away from the media. A shame as this young gun was a big part of their future – if only he could learn to behave himself.
“The Renegades are captained by their kicker, Lawler!”
The name Lawler brought another round of thunderous applause. And it seemed Wilde was forgotten.
“The forwards: Ziggy, Mr. Snow, Frank the Tank and Scarecrow. The backs: Hubris and Fritz. The runners: Nation and Daneel. The centres: Braybrook, Caswell, and Woakes.”
The Renegade’s side was comprised mostly of humans. The two forwards, Ziggy and Frank the Tank, were exceptions, one being a catalot and the other a canineth. Their combination of strength and a complete disregard for their own self preservation meant that they were most at home in the forward pack.
There were also rumours that Daneel, another superstar in waiting, was a machine, or a cyborg – however these had proven untrue.
“Their opponents, the Vipers!” announced the voice, turning the cheers into boos.
Captain Jayne led his side out onto the well-prepared field. He swaggered and blew a purple bubble, the colour matching his team’s uniforms. He offered the crowd a spray of abuse, which no one had any chance of hearing and his middle finger before spitting to ground in contempt.
“Their captain and kicker, Jayne!” boomed the voice as the crowd’s disapproval rang throughout the arena. Some patrons looked as though they wanted to charge onto the pitch—and were it not for the security in place may well have done so.
“The forwards: Crichton, Sheridan, Carlos, and Hobbs. The backs: Dakota and Peach. The runners: Darrow and Peggy. The centres: Dicks, Miguel, and Clearwater.”
The booing turned into a series of jeers, hisses, hoots, and catcalls as Darrow came into view. The Vipers were all human except for Peggy, Hobbs and Miguels the catalots, Carlos the canineth, Peach being a birdeele and the dreaded Darrow, a vucemar. Two years ago, the interstellar Solanaball committee had allowed vucemars to play. The decision had proved unpopular, with most clubs boycotting these deceptively fast slithering creatures from their teams. The Vipers were not interested in gaining a good reputation, nor were they afraid of building upon their already bad one. To them the win was paramount. The means to achieving it were largely irrelevant. They had secured the services of Darrow last season, now an outcast on his home world and a rumoured criminal. Some thought that such traits were requisite for anyone aspiring to play for the Vipers.
Lawler checked his magnetised glove was fully charged and fastened securely. A section of the glove contained the triameter, which held the small ball securely while the magnetic pulse within the triameter both attracted the ball and kept it secured. Only a heavy blow could knock the ball loose. Sensor pads throughout the club uniforms meant that a blow or jolt to any part of the body would be registered, so the glove-arm didn’t have to be specifically targeted. Sensor pads had been introduced soon after the sport’s conception, the removal of a player’s arm from his socket ringing alarm bells.
Jayne looked across at Lawler with a devilish smile. He chewed his gum, blew a bubble then let out a snort. His rival met his gaze with equal contempt. Jayne allowed himself a smile as he continued to stare down his opposite number. Darrow was his trump card and the rest of his team were reasonably solid. If he could get his side through this, the finals were within reach. The Renegades didn’t need this win; they were already assured of a place in the finals. The ‘glamour ‘team before him was going to be difficult to defeat, but their best centre wasn’t on the field and they lacked the hunger within his brood. They also lacked an adequate countermeasure to his vucemar. He glanced around as they took their positions. Directly behind him stood Dicks. Behind to the left and right, catty Miguel and his only female player, Clearwater. To his immediate left and right were catty Dakota and flighty Peach; on his far left and right, Darrow and Peggy. The forward pack, Crichton, Sheridan, big dog Carlos, and feline-like Hobbs stood in front of him, ready to do some serious damage.
Lawler had a quick word to Caswell, his experienced centre. “OK. Let’s do it.”
Caswell nodded, ready to do battle. “Bring’n em on, lad!”
“We’ll kill them,” enthused Woakes, who’d been awarded ‘Rookie Of The Year’ last season (and won a Dominion Dart spaceship as his prize, no-less). This season he was struggling to keep his spot in the starting lineup—and he knew if he couldn’t put the complacency that had usurped him in check it would railroad him out of the side.
Lawler looked over his shoulder. “ Watch your passing game. Straight or behind you, nothing forward, not today.”
Woakes looked away, troubled that his captain still held the loss from two months ago against him. He had fired the ball forward outside the endzone, only slightly but enough to trip the computer’s sensor and the referee’s eye, which resulted in an instant turnover to the opposing team. On that day it had been New Haven. Their star back, Ende, had taken the opportunity and charged through the defence, crossed the goal line, and fired the winning shot into the aeromar. The kick was then successful and New Haven won the match.
“Daneel!” yelled Lawler, still preparing himself for the sixty-minute ordeal.
The runner on his right looked over to him. “Captain?”
“Darrow is your man. Keep him covered, champion.”
“You got it,” returned Daneel, knowing vucemars had a reputation that preceded them and everyone else. He stared across at his opposing number eight. With brown eyes, the serpent-like creature returned his gaze, its tongue confidently flitting in and out of its slit-like mouth. He didn’t like this one bit. A vucemar was the closest thing he’d seen to Satan on wheels. All evil with enough knowledge of the rules to break them without getting caught.
Big, bad black-and-while feline Ziggy looked over to his fellow forward, the big slobbering dog Frank the Tank. “Let’s get the snake.”
To most Solanaball players, the sport was an art, beauty in motion when a set play or combined team talent resulted in a wonderful goal. To Ziggy and Frank the Tank it was a chance to bang some heads together. Frequently they would get put on report, sent off, and suspended. An angry coach would await them but in the big games, when they truly despised the opposition, the game became more like a war. And a soldier’s due was to put the opposition down.
Frank the Tank smiled, saliva falling to the ground, the idea pleasing him. Surely the coach wouldn’t be angry at him if he took care of the snake? He looked over to Mr. Snow and Scarecrow, the grin still in place. “The snake.”
Mr. Snow laughed. “He’s only one player, don’t forget about the others.”
Lawler swallowed as the referee, Nyder, prepared to call time on. Such a mundane but necessary function must not interfere with the first few seconds of play.
‘Focus, Lawler, Focus’, he told himself.
The vast display screen above the ground came to life and Nyder sounded time on. The crowd went up as Lawler charged forward. The opposing forward packs stared at one another, knowing that only the player with the ball should be attacked though they longed to clash.
Lawler passed the ball back to Fritz, who prepared to charge forward. He ran across field, attracting the attention of the opposing forwards. As they closed in on him, he fired the ball over to a running Nation who had come across on his inside. Nation charged forward as Sheridan and Carlos crunched Fritz hideously. Hobbs lunged at Nation with a lazy claw but the big cat forward was easily evaded. From the opposing side Peach flew across in cover with calico feline Peggy in wait. Nation turned to look back as Woakes raced up in support on his inside. He was about to fire the pass when Peach hammered him, beak first, and the ball came loose.
Peach must have flew in the second he’d turned his head. Nation gingerly got to his feet to see if his side had lost possession.
And they had!
Peggy had scooped it up and was on the charge, brushing Woakes aside as though he were a fly. She swiftly fired a long ball to Jayne, just in time, as Ziggy stuck an arm out at neck height and nearly decapitated her.
Perhaps late—perhaps not.
‘Play on!’ was the call.
Peggy hobbled to her paws, swearing at Ziggy, and cantering after her captain.
Jayne made some easy metres as the defensive line of the Renegades regrouped. He then passed to cat Dakota, who found the opposing forwards almost upon him. He got a dazzling pass away just as Mr. Snow and Scarecrow converged on him in a brutal gang tackle. The poor back lay crumpled in a heap, tail swishing, as the two forwards got up unsmilingly. A tackle that didn’t stop the passage of play was a failure. Nyder signalled for a stretcher as play continued; Dakota would have to come off. On the sideline it was fellow cat Lighty Burgess who prepared to come onto the field to replace him.
The pass had been a good one, which found Darrow. As Dakota had drawn in two players the Renegade’s defensive line looked vulnerable. The slippery vucemar zigzagged around Hubris with ease and charged up the far-left side of the ground. There was plenty of space and little defence before him. Daneel ran to stop him and received a glare of contempt as Darrow casually swung his head into his rival, sending him reeling. Sparks flew as Daneel hit the deck, no doubt fueling further conspiracy theories he was more machine than human (even though he’d proved otherwise during a series of tests). That only made Joe Public think there were two Daneels – one human, the other machine.
Caswell was also trying to cover but watched the opposing runner slither on his inside and continue undeterred towards the goal line. Braybrook, the last line of defence, watched in anguish as Darrow changed direction and crossed the goal line on the far right of the ground. Once you were inside the endzone you were free to shoot for goal and without ample pressure from the defence it was all too easy. Just point and shoot.
Braybrook hadn’t given up. The serpent may have wriggled its way into the endzone but it hadn’t scored as yet. Breathing hard, legs pumping, he charged at the number eight who was now aiming the ball at the aeromar, a narrow slot that was suspended some twenty metres above the centre of the goal line. The ball was fired and found its mark, going through the mouth of the aeromar.
“GOAL!” flashed the giant display screen. The scoreboard at once read ‘5-0’.
The crowd immediately went up in a chorus of protest.
“You sea-horse freak!” yelled Braybrook as the hero of the minute slithered over to his jubilant team.
Darrow received pats on the back all round. Jayne drew close. “Next time, evade or steamroll whomever you must and fire from right under the aeromar. This will be a tough kick, I prefer them right in front.”
Darrow nodded as much as his physiology allowed. Scoring from the far right meant the kick would also be taken from the far right of the goalposts, which sat front-centre of the endzone. Ideally the goal would be scored from the centre of the endzone every time making the kicker’s job that much easier to add the extra point. Jayne put his arm around the bulk of the serpent, noting his head had fallen. “Daneel is good for us. A weak defender past his best. Forget the shove, just mow him down if he’s stupid enough to get in your way.”
Lawler watched as Jayne lined up the kick from the far right of the ground. The two posts were very narrow from this angle and sure enough, Jayne’s conversion was not successful. In fact it was a shocker of a kick. At least they didn’t get the extra point. He enjoyed the crowds roaring and cheering far more than Jayne did.
“One of your best,” Lawler shouted with a grin.
Jayne growled curses in reply.
The players took their positions again, Lawler starting with the ball and waiting for ‘time on’. At the ref’s signal he dummied a pass to his left, put on a fake step to his right, and darted between two opposing forwards. With more defence closing he passed over his shoulder to Frank the Tank, who caught a blinder, snarled and drooled, and then dragged three of the opposition, swarming on him like ravenous ants, for about ten metres before the ball came loose. He barked at them in anger.
Despite the fact that Lighty Burgess was a centre, not a back, he intended to make the most of his opportunity. A solid performance meant that the coach might consider starting him on the field rather than on the bench in their next match.
And here was his chance!
He scooped up the ball with his triameter and raced inside Ziggy. Hubris and Lawler charged towards him as he fired the ball, a long, scorching cutout pass, to Darrow who came onto the speeding missile with pace. The vucemar sped towards Daneel with no intention of evading his opposite number.
Daneel saw him coming.
The quality of the last pass and speed of the snake had taken the defence by surprise. From the corner of his eye he saw Caswell scurrying across behind him. If he could just delay –
Darrow continued his beeline towards the endzone, having gone straight over the top of Daneel, who now lay motionless. There had been the satisfying crunch of cartilage upon impact. He continued his nimble slithering as Nyder signalled a stretcher for the unconscious Daneel in back play.
“That should stop the robot rumours,” Nyder said to himself.
“Stop him!” shouted Lawler in frustration.
Caswell leapt upon the slithering juggernaut and tried to pull him to the ground. The vucemar dragged him for several metres before looking back, Caswell in tow like a reluctant water skier minus skis and water. The creature’s mouth opened and his eyes glowed crimson with anger as he contemplated biting the rival player. Because such an action would result in a send off, Darrow denied his instincts and used his tail to flick Caswell into the rapidly approaching Braybrook. Both men fell to the ground and the vucemar slithered into the endzone, firing the ball at the aeromar from directly beneath it.
“GOAL!” mocked the giant display screen once more. The crowd booed in disapproval, many of the fans on their feet this time, some yelling obscenities.
Jayne’s conversion from right in front was successful. The giant scoreboard jeered the score, ‘11-0’. He bowed and curtsied for the crowd, causing further insults and heckling, and followed by blowing yet another purple bubble.
“OK, gather round,” said Lawler as his players grouped around him. Daneel had been taken off and was replaced by the spare and still inexperienced centre, Boomer. Lawler shuffled Nation over to the opposite wing to cover Darrow and hoped Boomer would be able to cover the Viper’s other runner, the green-eyed fast feline, Peggy.
“Is Daneel gonna be alright, man?” Caswell asked.
Lawler shrugged his shoulders indifferently. “Haven’t heard but he’s tough. Don’t worry. Now what we need is a plan or this game’s already over. Suggestions?”
“Let’s get the snake,” hissed Ziggy in anger. He washed under his armpit with his tongue rapidly then hissed again.
“We’ve gotta get him,” agreed Woakes. “Seriously. He’s treating our defence with contempt, like we’re some kind of joke. Let’s hit him and hit him hard!”
“I still owe Darrow one for spitting venom in my eyes at the preliminaries last season,” said an angry Braybrook, hoping to encourage the suggested course of action.
“Caswell,” smiled Lawler, breathing heavily. “You’ve given me an idea.”
“Ya gonna put a contract on da trickin snake after da game?” Caswell asked hopefully. “If so I be ta man for da job.”
Jayne grinned as Nyder signalled time on. This was too easy. He watched Lawler pass to Mr. Snow and charged to meet the forward.
The robust Mr. Snow punched the closing cat Hobbs and sent him reeling. Sometimes the best form of defence was offence. Carlos the big mutt approached and was also thumped to ground then trampled for good measure. Carlos leapt up and bit him on the arm Jayne arrived and charged at Mr. Snow with a leading elbow to the face and knocked him to the ground, the ball coming loose. Mr. Snow’s face was bloody but that didn’t stop him hanging onto Jayne’s leg so he couldn’t jump on the scraps. His reward was a boot crunching his skull.
Scarecrow came in and scooped up the spilt ball, only to find Sheridan upon him. Scarecrow fired the pass but it went straight to the opposing side as Peach, who’d dashed early for the intercept, made unchallenged metres up the left side of the ground. With the Vipers back in possession, Peach passed to Peggy who, with explosive velocity, sprinted past the opposing forwards and toward Boomer. Fritz came to intercept as Peggy passed back to Peach. Peach stepped inside the running Fritz and passed on his inside to Jayne. Making sure he had attracted Frank the Tank and Ziggy, Jayne, shoes bloodied, passed to Lighty Burgess before being sandwiched in a vicious jaw-breaking tackle. He fell to the ground face first as though his spirit had left him.
Lawler and Hubris ran up to cover Lighty Burgess, who quickly passed to Darrow and swiped at Lawler in the process. The vucemar sped around Lawler and Hubris before sliding inside a racing Nation. Darrow then changed direction and slithered back across the left of the ground, noting both Caswell and Braybrook racing toward him. Ziggy and Frank the Tank had moved out of formation and were also lumbering after him.
Caswell leapt upon the vucemar again, this time getting a better grip.
“Whoa, fella!” Caswell shouted. “You’ll not be gitting aw’y from ma dis time!”
Darrow swung his head into the approaching Braybrook and sent him crashing to the ground like the doomed pest he was. He then tried to flick Caswell away, only to find the annoying centre still hanging onto his tail. He was about to try again when he noticed how close the two opposing forwards were. Darrow attempted to slither away but Caswell’s determination, spiked shoes digging into the artificial turf, turned his intended speed-burst into a crawl. Panicking and drawing on his reserves, the tired runner again tried to flick Caswell aside. This time he succeeded, but as Caswell was hurled across the field, cursing all the way, the opposing forwards arrived.
Frank the Tank and Ziggy launched themselves at the unbalanced runner. The crunch was nauseating and rung throughout the ground, the crowd to roaring their approval. The ball came loose and the vucemar went crashing to the ground like a drenched rag doll. Frank the Tank leapt upon the fallen runner with an elbow as Ziggy retrieved the ball.
“Encore!” encouraged Ziggy.
Frank the Tank got up and repeated the performance, the thud of an elbow connecting with Darrow’s torso sounding like bone striking rubber.
Jayne arrived and smashed his fist into the face on Frank the Tank, causing the slobber to fly. Crichton and Sheridan then arrived and starting attacking the forward with kicks and punches.
“Get off him!” yelled Jayne as Frank the Tank, woofing in satisfaction, pushing his attackers aside like bowling pins, stomped a spiteful dance onto the injured and now completely still Darrow.
Nyder arrived and sounded a penalty. Any player who did anything other than freeze would be sent off for the remainder of the game and may invite the end of their season, if not career.
“He didn’t have the ball!” yelled Jayne. “Come on!”
“Calm down,” ordered Nyder as he approached Frank the Tank. “Frank the Tank? Your explanation for this?”
“He stuck to my feet!” said Frank the Tank, looking hopefully at his feet. “ I couldn’t get off him!”
“He thought he was a Frisbee!” Ziggy added unhelpfully, licking at himself.
“Not likely and not on my field,” said Nyder, signalling a send off and calling for a stretcher. “Get off!”
Frank the Tank grinned and left the field. He had done his job, though he was now out for the remainder of the game.
“You’re going on report, too,” cautioned Nyder as the forward left the field.
“This is bullshit,” exclaimed Jayne, looking down at Darrow. “Medic!”
The Viper’s team of medics sped onto the field and surrounded the injured runner.
“Number five,” shouted Nyder, calling Lawler to his position.
Lawler came forward and forced an expression of concern to mask his face.
“Lawler, this isn’t your game. I would like to believe you didn’t plan this. If I find out otherwise I will not hesitate in awarding victory to the Vipers. I’m putting your forward on report and I’ll be recommending suspension. For the rest of the season. On your way.”
“Is that it?” yelled Jayne as Lawler returned to his position with a nod and a sly grin. “What about a send off? That piece of shit planned this!”
“Not today,” said Nyder as Darrow was taken off the field.
“You could have been over here a hell of a lot sooner! Were you allowing a square up?”
Nyder approached Jayne, his narrow eyes and concave forehead sweating just a little. “Do you want to be the next one sent off? You got the penalty and the send off—get on with it.”
“You’re a lame piece of shit, Nyder!” grumbled Jayne, though under his breath, returning to his team and taking the hand-over. He waited until catalot Terror came off the bench and reorganised his field. He put the utility forward into his position and assumed Darrow’s position himself.
Lawler considered his options. Daneel was off and wasn’t coming back. At least he was alive, so they’d just heard. He wondered how the vucemar was faring. He still had two fresh forwards on the bench, plus a spare kicker in case he was ‘taken out’. Deciding against a sub, he opted to stay with three forwards. He then signalled readiness and Nyder signalled time on.
Terror ran towards his opposing forwards and made the mistake of passing to Crichton who received the ball, mumbling something about a ‘hospital pass’, only to be smashed to the ground by Ziggy. The big cat went after the ball and scooped it up. A scrambling Lighty Burgess was brushed aside with both ease and contempt as Ziggy charged towards the goal line. He had both Hubris and Lawler in support.
Jayne ran to cover Hubris and thankfully Ziggy took the wrong option and passed to him. Hubris tried to fend as Jayne knocked him to the ground and followed with a subtle kick to the head. He made it look as accidental as he could.
Mr. Snow was too slow to cover Jayne, who was weaving up field, but Lawler was now back in position. He raced across field to stop the opposing number five. Jayne tried to step inside but Lawler found his target and took him to ground with a textbook tackle. The ball came loose and snapped into Lawler’s triameter. Unable to believe his luck, Lawler charged down the centre of the ground. The opposing forwards were still scattered, giving Lawler plenty of room. Woakes had come up on his outside and ran with his captain.
Peach and Clearwater ran up to cover Lawler while Peggy charged up to cover Woakes.
Lawler prepared to pass but changed his mind, stepping inside Peach and putting a fend on Clearwater, knowing she was tough to get past. Clearwater wasn’t deterred by the fend but a head butt put her down. Eyes wide, he continued running toward the line. Peggy changed direction beautifully and tackled Lawler, but three defenders meant a last-second pass fired to Woakes gave the young centre a clear run to the line. Dicks had little chance of stopping Woakes from crossing the goal line in the right hand corner and firing the ball into the aeromar.
The cheer rang throughout the arena and the scoreboard told the story. ‘11-5’ with a kick to come.
Fighting against the clock, Lawler hurried into position and took the kick, adding another point to the Renegade’s score.
“You’re too slow!” yelled Jayne, his team looking sheepishly over to their skipper on the right wing. “No mistakes! We’re here to win, not to roll over and play dead. Peach?”
“What’s the plan?” asked Peach, flying over to his captain.
“We target the greenhorn,” replied Jayne, calling over the rest of his team.
Terror ran towards Mr. Snow and Scarecrow as Nyder called time on. Jayne and Lighty Burgess ran across the right of the ground as they stacked the right flank. Ziggy was too slow to cover his opposite forward, who passed to Carlos. Before being cut in half by a classy tackle, Carlos managed to attract both Mr. Snow and Scarecrow and get a pass off to Peach, barking as he did so. Lawler pointed Ziggy and Caswell to cover the right side and went after Peach, who was busy trying to evade Fritz. Peach flew a few easy metres across the field as players scurried into position. He could see gaps opening up.
Rhoe Jayne was a genius!
Peach passed to Peggy on his outside as Fritz and Lawler pulled him to the ground. Even going down Peach applauded his outside man’s support play. Peggy sprinted up the right side of the field with Jayne staying in support back on the inside. The two pace men were making excellent ground. Boomer could not match their speed but he prepared to take them on.
“Cover Jayne,” yelled Lawler as he raced after the two tearaways. “You’ve got to cover Jayne!” Boomer would know what to do. Wouldn’t he?
“Go!” yelled Jayne and he struggled to keep up with his fellow runner. Peggy, licking herself as she ran, knew the plan.
Boomer had to choose one, and opted for Peggy. Jayne was too risky; if he got him without the ball he would incur a penalty and Peggy would score.
‘Always target the player with the ball.’
It was a simple rule and a golden one.
Peggy passed on her inside as Boomer took her to ground. Jayne took the pass well and raced away from Woakes and Braybrook who were trying to get across in cover. Crossing over to the endzone he took a few moments to sight a deflated Lawler and flashed him a taunting smile. He then fired at the aeromar, his shot finding its target.
Jayne yelled in jubilation as his team ran toward him, all oblivious to the crowd’s noisy jeers of remonstration. They lifted their captain onto their shoulders as he punched his fists into the air in triumph.
Lawler turned away from the scene before him in disgust. He looked across to Boomer, who was unable to look into his captain’s eyes. He knew it wasn’t the kid’s fault but that didn’t make the feeling in his gut any less hollow.
Jayne missed a difficult kick though it didn’t matter. ‘16-6’ was final enough with just three minutes on the clock.
With time on, Lawler charged forward at the restart and passed to Ziggy. Crichton, Sheridan, and Terror all closed in on their rival forward to counter the set play. Ziggy, rage augmenting his strength, fended Crichton away and put his shoulder into Sheridan, who went straight to ground like a felled tree. Terror went around Ziggy’s legs and brought him crashing to the ground, sinking his teeth into the creatures calve for just a moment, confident the ref wouldn’t see it.
There was a cry of pain and the ball came loose and was taken by Jayne who had moved back towards centrefield. The Vipers made good use of their possession again, Jayne passing back to Clearwater who made several metres before passing to Peggy. Peggy raced inside Scarecrow and looked for support. She found it in Peach. Peach fired his pass back across towards Jayne, only to find Woakes appearing from nowhere to take an intercept, giving possession back to the Renegades. Woakes darted between Hobbs and Carlos only to find the ever-present Terror waiting for him. He passed to Lawler as Terror knocked him down in a stinging tackle, biting him in the process.
The sound of flesh and bone colliding seemed to ring through the stadium.
In possession, Lawler attempted to fend off feline Lighty Burgess only to find the back still on him. A sharp elbow to the ear still didn’t stop the try-hard who was taking him to ground. Lawler turned only to receive a charging knee to the groin. Ignoring Lighty Burgess and the pain he’d inflicted he, now somewhat red-faced, fired a desperate pass to Nation who sped down the far left of the ground. With Jayne out of position, Nation raced toward the goal line. The ginger catalot Miguel was there in cover but Nation stepped neatly on his inside and continued his run. Dicks tried to cover but to no avail. The runner crossed the goal line and fired the ball into the aeromar as Nyder signalled full-time.
The crowd went up and cheered their side. A late consolation try was at least something.
Lawler kicked the goal and the score finished up ‘16-12’, giving victory to the Vipers.
There were a couple of handshakes but far more obscenities exchanged as the players left the field.
“Beaten again?” the female reporter named Tara asked Caswell coyly.
“Jayne an his team of crims broke enough’ve rules to git ta victory.”
“But your own performance today was poor,” she stated. “Very poor. Thrown off the vucemar twice.”
“Eh I wasn’t at my best” Caswell said dourly,” walking away shamefacedly.
“Time to hang up the boots?” she suggested as he vanished from view. Ziggy walked past, she tried to get a word in but he looked at her with unimpressed eyes and zoomed past on all fours.
She looked at some more crestfallen players making their way to their dressing room before cornering Lawler.
“Another loss—this time to the Vipers. That’s two in a row. Things just didn’t go your way today.”
Lawler snatched some air for composure. He hated playing the diplomat but it came with the rank. “No, not today, Tara. We didn’t do enough early and when you’ve got a vucemar up against you it’s always going to be tough.”
She appeared sour. “And that’s why you ordered a hit on Darrow then?”
“Not at all,” Lawler returned, knowing how difficult this reporter could be. In the end though, she was just doing her job, looking for that scoop. “Sometimes in the heat of the contest battle-madness can take you—and the blood fever strikes. I keep an eye on my troops but I can’t control the fever.”
“It’s not a winning fever, clearly,” Tara returned with a snort. “Rather than a cultured sport what we saw today was more like a barbaric bloodbath!”
Lawler grinned. In reality, as graceful as the sport could be at times, that was the nature of Solanaball. “Well, it ain’t supposed to be ballet.”