This is the public log of DeeDee 'dzyjak' Jackson, a fictional character. DeeDee lives and works aboard a space station which orbits Saturn, and sometimes he writes about it.


One on One

Doc asked me to explain Spinball. She's never cared before. She was sitting on that plant-throne she spawned down in LG-Med, and Submind was fully present. I don't know how else to explain it. Submind was obviously trying to make a more sentient connection to the human race, and Doc was acting as a kind of filter. Since Doc doesn't really care about Spinball, Submind probably supplied the motive. It wasn't creepy. (I know you thought I was going to think that.)

I'd probably been bragging a bit, but the only reason Submind, a.k.a. Doc, would care enough to ask questions about a game is for whatever insights it might give on normal human behavior. Doc doesn't seem any more intelligent, (like I would know), but there is much more going on behind those looks she gives me, something which is truly puzzled by everything in general and me specifically.

What could I say? It sounded like a history lesson I once had every year.

Spinball was invented by a school teacher name Julius Hayes. He needed activities for the 20 or so children in his mid-level class, and he was always trying to play ball games on a space station. Many of these games are still being played by children who live where gravity determines how a ball moves. On a space station, gravity doesn't determine anything but orbit. A game requiring both weight and round bouncy objects is too annoying to play inside a centrifuge. If you move the game to a weightless environment, however, the possibilities change dramatically.

Mr. Hayes, being a teacher, saved all of his notes.

  • It is likely these children will live their lives on a space station.
  • Do you need gravity to play a game?
  • Can we create a game which teaches children how to move in a weightless environment?
  • Where can we find a playing field?

He took pieces from a couple of his favorite games; Basketball and Martian Rugby. Then he considered his environment, determined the hub as the only reasonable location, and stormed the Station Admin Office with a determination backed by 20 plus bored pre-teens. You all know how strongly those kids wanted to play in the hub.

    Starting with: Blue Team, Red Team, Big Blue Ball, Big Red Ball and some simple rules.
  1. Each team has possession of the matching color ball unless a member of the other team is in control of it.
  2. If you touch the wall while in contact with the other team's ball, the play is over and the other team gets two points.
  3. If your opponent can make it past your goal line while in possession of your ball, the play is over and the other team gets fives points.
  4. As long as you don't do so while in contact with your opponent's ball, you can use the wall to propel yourself anywhere you like.

    And he let the players take it from there... Within reason.

  5. You are allowed to pass either ball to a team mate, or even yourself.
  6. You are allowed to throw your ball at an opponent and force them into the wall. It's called a "spin-out" if you get two points for it.
  7. Your opponent is allowed to catch your ball and gain possession.
  8. Two minutes of "double napping" (both teams in a state of "Low Momentum" or "LM") will call an end play and both teams forfeit possession.
  9. You cannot enter your opponent's goal unless you are carrying your opponent's ball.

    With variation for number of team mates, one on one rules, murder ball rules for more agressive players, and etc.


Objects in Motion

I beat Eddie at Spinball. I didn't just win; I beat him by fourteen goals and nine spin-outs. That's 88 points. I've never gotten more than one goal in a game against EMF Eddie, and I had to catch him napping* every time. Attempting to spin him out almost always ends with me trying to keep him and his motive force out of my goal with my ball.

Spinball requires every player to control his or her momentum in a freefall environment, using the environment and the spinballs to do so. This symbiote has given me the ability to 'feel' momentum. If you think about all the ways a person can 'feel,' you might get an idea what it's like. Eddie will probably be unbeatable once he gets one of these.

I also got to test out my new vac-suit. It takes half an hour to get into a standard vac-suit, and then another 15 minutes for someone to double-check seals and such. It takes about 10 minutes for my new suit to form itself around me. I have to admit a bit of nervousness when no one checked my seals that first time, but the heads-up display probably makes the highest high-tech displays (which I've never seen) look like child's drawings. I didn't once feel like staring stupidly into empty space.

Counter-Spin doesn't play much spinball, but he is insanely fond of micro-grav. Or maybe it's the ice he likes. Rick and I spent 16 hours hopping from slush-bomb to slush-bomb, and showing off our bio-tech vac-suits to the half-trained OSA troops. Officially we were double-checking paperwork before we move them to Fort Falling, but mostly we were putting on a show. Doc's idea, but Rick made it his own. I was busy test driving.

Those Submind driven ion-thrusters are like riding mag-rails. I'm serious. I've never enjoyed riding a vac-suit before. I doubt if even the Martian Republic has personal scout suits capable of sustained 0.396 Gees. Add the Submind grav-sensors to that, and we didn't even have to slow down to find our landing zones. Did I mention the plasma cutter? The troops who go back to the OSA will have some very scary stories to tell the jerks who sent them here to take away our home.

  • Napping: In spinball, napping is a slang term for a state of low or no momentum.


Full Spin

I feel like the same person. How would I know? I feel the same as I did when I was ten, and 23, and yesterday; so how would I know? I might not be completely recovered from my two day nap in Paula's specimen bottle. Maybe that's it.

I'm mostly certain that Submind has not taken over my person. I think. If I hadn't had my back and spine all along, I might not know there was a new addition. I expected to feel it... or something. I don't think I'm going to talk about it much.

At the moment, I feel very divided about everything. I want to do something, but I don't feel like moving. I am depressed, but not really... Numb with every nerve on fire. I suppose schizo might sum it up.

I'm awake now. Maybe. Full weight and I don't care how heavy I feel because I know, in a way I'm not sure I did before, that the deck under my feet is pushing at .998 Gees. That's definitely new. I'm nearly certain. Just as certain that I'm going to like it that way.

I need to go now. Gotta be depressed, or eat some carrots, or something. And to think fond yet scary thoughts of my soon-to-be new vac-suit.


Dear Mom

Sorry I haven't called. We've been working non-stop: major structure repairs from our move; processing hundreds of new citizens; getting water out of everything now that we turned the heat back up; trying to get those troopships out of the slush balls Counter-spin Rick put them in....

One of those slush balls is alive, or as near as can be for a mass of ice floating in space. Those pods Rick planted have taken root and appear to be remodeling the ship while they spread inside the ice. Believe it or not, more troops on that ship are requesting citizenship on Fort Falling than any of the others. I'm guessing the air quality improved about 1000 percent once Submind invaded.

Paula has me scheduled for some remodeling of my own. I guess it can't be that bad if Counter-spin Rick did it. Besides, Paula explained Doc's comment about electrons, (promising removal of my favorite parts if I tell anyone about valence shells and the likelihood of the seventh electron combining with any available partner), so tomorrow morning I'm going in the tank.

Doc has emerged from what I can only guess is a living med-vat plant. It looks suspiciously like the animal habitats I first noticed over a year ago. She no longer looks 118 years old. She looks 40 maybe, and is more than half covered with a second skin. When she's not moving around, Doc is attached to the medical-plant-thingy and is somehow a part of Submind. Most of the time I understand what she's saying even less than I did before.

What else? The station is almost at full Gee now. You know how much better I sleep when I'm not floating, and all that ice I made under the ex-tangent track is melting and flowing away to hydroponics nicely. It's looking like a real space station around here... even better with the Submind installations. I wish Nana could see what we've done--I've never seen so many playful cats.

The cats are fine. Rat Bane, for example, has decided to start stalking and tackling every foot which gets too close. I believe this is a good sign, because he hasn't hissed at anyone for nearly a month.

Curious says, "Hi."

Speaking of which, there are 27 chimpanzees on board, and Paula says we want even more for a breeding population of Enviro-techs. Apparently Submind is under the impression that chimpanzees are easier to train than humans, so if your friend Callie needs to find a new home for her crew of apes, let me know.


The Seventh Electron

Doc is awake. Or was for a minute. She smiled at Paula and said, "The seventh electron."

I'm sure it makes sense to someone. Other than Paula I mean. Paula knows, but since she turned bright red and pretend not to have heard, I didn't ask. I would ask Doc, but she is busy turning into a plant. It's creeping me out a bit. Paula said Doc is just 'building the framework.' It didn't help.

More importantly, the station is spinning, and we hit half-rev this morning. We'll reach full-rev and 1.0 Gee in two weeks. Blessed weight all day every day. And a bath. With water I can sink under. It's like the opposite of vacuum.

Paula wants me to take a bath in one of Doc's med-vats for a couple of days. If I had one of those symbiotic smart-bugs like Curious or Rick, I could have one of those custom vac-suits. I suspect Paula asked Rick to send that picture. The suit looks awesome.... And the features; emergency hyber-sleep, oxy-cycling, auto-charge ion-thrusters, grav detection.... It's a childhood fantasy. And I want one.

Except it comes with an intelligent virus called Submind. Submind, or part of it, will be inhabiting a genetically engineered symbiote which needs to bond with my nervous system in order to make the suit work. Submind inhabits the suit too, so I have to float in the med-vat while Submind takes my measurements.

I wonder if I can convince Paula to explain Doc's comment in exchange for becoming her next lab monkey? It's got to be good, because I've never seen Paula turn that shade of red before.