It wasn’t, one of the Marines was quick and eager to explain, a regulation sized volleyball, but something cobbled together out of a leathery material not unlike animal skin that had been found on another planet. Of course, then he had to explain exactly whose and what “regulations” he was talking about.
Teyla wondered if this was why the Taur’i soldiers were so anxiously aggressive, if they had to worry about following complex rules in everything, including games for children.
Ronon, standing next to her, looked equally unconvinced.
“See, like this,” Dr. Zelenka intervened, stopping the stuttering of the Marine (Teyla couldn't remember his name, must be fresh off the Daedalus), who indeed seemed more interested in not making eye contact with Ronon than with satisfactorily explaining this game.
“This ball, here, and závod družstev, two teams, on either side of this net. Yes?”
Teyla smiled a little, nodded to show she understand, but Ronon still stared, with a look as if he wanted to raise an eyebrow.
“Are we supposed to hit them with it?” he asked, and Teyla could see the group of scientists and soldiers on the far side of the net (some kind of string that was not dissimilar to the traps her people laid to catch fish and other water creatures) which Lorne and Sgt. Harris had strung between two poles, turn pale. One of them squeaked.
“No, no, is not target practice,” and it amused Teyla that Zelenka sounded scolding. “See, one team hits the ball to the other, who hits it back.”
Dr. Kavenagh, who had been standing awkwardly at the side of the game, now hurried over.
“While I think this is an utter waste of time, the least you can do is explain the game correctly,” he said sharply.
Dr. Zelenka rolled his eyes and muttered something in his own language that, Teyla was sure, didn’t translate into anything complimentary.
“There are three different ways to hit the ball,” Kavanagh continued firmly, which Teyla thought was brave, considering the fact that Ronon was glaring at him. Only too recently had John told Ronon the story about Kavenagh's... poor behavior during the incident when the team had gotten stuck in a 'jumper half-through a Stargate.
“Bump, set and spike,” offered Dr. Zelenka, and Teyla stopped herself from smiling at how irritated Kavanagh looked at the stealing of his words.
“Look, it’s easy enough, can we just play now?” Lorne shouted from the other side of the net and, even though Teyla didn’t quite understand how to hit the ball (did it go under the net? Through it? The holes didn’t seem large enough) the sun was rising higher, and it would be a great pity to have gone through all of this work and not be able to play.
Without waiting for a reply, Dr. Zelenka took the ball away from Dr. Kavenagh and tossed it into the air.
“Now, this,” he said, huffing a little with the effort of talking and watching the ball at the same time, “is called a bump,” and he stretched out his arms, clasping his hands together. For a moment, Teyla thought it looked like he would catch it, but instead he let it bounce off his arms.
It headed towards Ronon, who caught it easily in one large hand. Teyla heard Dr. Zelenka sigh.
“First rule. You do not get to catch the ball. Only hit it. You can bump, as I did, or set. Ronon, give me the ball.” He grunted as it slapped into his chest a moment later. “A set is, to prepare the ball for someone else to hit it over, usually.” Dr. Zelenka carefully tossed the ball into the air, hit it (a tap, a nudge, no, Teyla finally remembered, a bump) to another Marine standing near them, who raised his hands above his head, almost prayerfully, halting the ball’s downward motion and sending it back upwards.
Unfortunately for the other side, upwards was also to Ronon, who reached out with one clenched fist and punched the ball over the net (which must be the right way, otherwise why was it so high up in the air?) and almost directly at Corporal Jensen’s nose. At the last moment, he ducked and the ball (which technically, Teyla had been told, was called a volleyball, although why, no one could quite agree) bounced awkwardly and rolled next to his booted feet.
“Was that good?” asked Ronon. Zelenka coughed, though Teyla was pretty sure it was hiding a laugh.
“Yes. Do that, many times.”
Now Teyla clearly could hear most of the group on the other side of the net (funny how the name was still the same, like they were catching fish, not playing games) made strangled noises of fear. She knew Ronon heard it too, because his grin got wider, wickedly amused.
“We’ll serve first,” Zelenka said. Whatever exactly that meant (Teyla was fairly sure a “serve” wasn’t as gentle as it sounded, politeness clearly not the point of this game, judging from the competitive glares on everyone’s faces).
All she hoped as the ball went into the air, spinning slightly as it passed over the rough roped net, was that Doctor Beckett had an adequate supply of bandages and ice for when they returned to Atlantis.