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Planetary Pinball

So the two intrepid ethereal superaliens need a break in their long journey... What could be better than a game of Planetary Pinball?


On the long route to Aunt Persei’s System, they stopped for an anti-boredom break. Grym Helaeth was relaxed about travelling, but his newly-cloned companion, Grym Newydd, wasn’t accustomed to such protracted trips.

‘I want to play for a while. I’m tired.’ Little Newydd complained.

‘Of course,’ Helaeth agreed. ‘We can play a game, if you like. See here… this sun and oddments system?’

Newydd’s ilo-clusters twinkled in a kind of hipiric delight. ‘Yes. Yes. Can we re-arrange them? That would be good.’

‘That’s a great idea; we could squeeze them together and build something out of them.’ He flexed tenuous force fields in anticipation and gleamed like a nascent nova.

‘But we’ve done that before. Can’t we do something different?’ Helaeth’s clone-spring was adventurous now.

‘We could flick all the planets into a different order? In order of size, perhaps, from the centre? Or in inverse size, with the biggest furthest away?’

Little Grym Newydd pulled a fassicula. ‘That’d take a lot of thinking to make them stay in place – angles and speeds and things. It’d be no fun.’

‘Well, how about… see all these moons round these two biggest planets?’ The two Gryms swirled, wraithlike, around the two gas giants.

‘Mmm. There’s nearly two hundred.’

‘Suppose we flick them?’

‘Where to?’ Newydd looked around.

‘There’s that twin planet nearer the star – the small green and blue one with an over-sized satellite companion. See?’

Newydd kulated his wavebands when he saw where Helaeth indicated. ‘What? Put all these moons round that one?’ He considered. ‘That’d take a lot of working out, too.’

‘Well, we don’t have to be neat, do we? Suppose we just flick them there and see who can hit the satellite most? You have the moons from one of these big gassy planets and I’ll have the other. Let’s see if we can knock the big moon out of its orbit.’

‘Or into the planet? Make them crash into each other, like playing bounce-ball?’ This could be exciting stuff; Grym Newydd stretched and coruscated his spectral output in anticipation.

‘It’ll take a lot of getting right – the little planet and its big moon are spinning round each other, so you’ll have to make sure your timing’s spot on.’

‘Suppose we each start with forty points, lose a point for missing altogether, lose two for hitting the planet, and gain two for hitting its moon?’

‘Sure. You can do it. Practice with some smaller ones, then we’ll start on the bigger ones.’

‘Then can we go to Aunt Persei’s System?’


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