Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.
February Challenge- First Contacts :: In this challenge, you had to create your own choose-your-own-adventure story. Be sure to read this post first, or it won't be much of a choose-your-own-adventure!
In this third-person story, you will be playing the role of Jethro Tannings, as you try to make a successful and peaceful first-contact with the indigenous species of Nelantus I. Good luck.
The USS Neverland Chronicles:
Jethro Tannings let his eyes wander over the trees around them, all clawing and strangling each other in an attempt to win the sunlight. Nelantus I was a deftly unforgiving place—or at least, that was what he thought.
Nelantus I was a lush jungle world, inhabited by its indigenous, hominid species. But what gave Jethro the suspicion that there was something amiss, was that none of those indigenous people were anywhere outside of their huge, well defended camps. And there must have been a reason. That was specifically why he, and his team where there.
Their plan was to try and enter one of those camps.
Now, First Officer Suroth had hypothesized that each of the encampments was home to a separate “clan” of sorts, due to the great difference in architectural styles, and observed behaviors of the people. Captain Nairvet proposed that they try to contact one of them. Thus, as advised by Suroth, Jethro and his team where heading to the encampment of one of the “clans” that seemed (or at least as well as they could tell from their long-range spying) the most peaceful. But things would have been so much easier if the jungle didn’t have a habit of interfering with tricorder readings with all of its various chemicals.
In short, they were lost.
Growwnarlashten swung down from the trees, flexing his long muscles under his leopard fur. “I say we ought to go due east,” he said in a low growl. “The last readings we had said that encampment was in that direction.”
Vexenterani shook her head at him, the sunlight bouncing off of her iridescent skin in a cascade of rainbow light. “No, Growl,” she said. “That was a different camp. The one we want would be to the west.”
“Your both wrong,” Herran called from where he was behind, bringing up the rear. “We already passed where we should have turned, but nobody listened to me. And then we ended up turning in a circle! There’s no telling what direction we should have gone in.”
Jethro sighed, and looked over to Yera’sy for help. Yera’sy only looked back at him helplessly.
Head east. Growl’s a bipedal leopard after all; he knows the forest better than anyone.
Turn west. Vexenterani does always seem to know best.
“We’re going east,” Jethro sighed, earning a livid look from Vexenterani. “Growl’s right. That was where we got our last reading from. Even if it is the wrong camp, it still is
Growl made a soft, throaty noise, which Jethro had no doubt was a smug growl as they followed Growl as he swung off in the direction he had indicated.
“With our luck, we’ll be walking into the camp of the most vicious of these jungle clans,” Herran said.
“I think I’ve told you before,” Jethro scowled as they continued walking. “Don’t be so pessimistic all of the time.”
Vexenterani laughed lightly at that—a jangle of chimes—despite her obvious irritation.
After hours of trudging and kicking their way through tangles of weeds and grass, Growl let out a whistle above them, then dropped back down to the jungle floor.
“I was right,” Growl said with a feral grin. “There’s a camp right up ahead in a large clearing.” Vexenterani scowled.
Jethro nodded. “Good then. Herran, bring it up here!” he called, and Herran trotted up to stand beside him. “Alright,” Jethro said. “I want us to keep our phasers away and out of their sight. I don’t want anything to end up going south, and I don’t want you pulling them unless its absolutely necessary, understood?”
They all nodded agreement.
As they passed out from their cover of trees, the large sun above, which dominated the sky, met them in all its fury. Jethro wasn’t sure which was more blinding: the sun in the sky, or Vexenterani next to him, who was reflecting the light in a violent flurry of color.
Ahead, it appeared that Growl had indeed been correct. There was a huge camp, at least the size of two San Francisco’s, surrounded by a barbed and savage looking fence, cornered by guard towers covered in shrapnel—no doubt to keep unwanted visitors from climbing up the sides. It was from one of those guard towers that, only seconds after they emerged from the trees, an alarm was sounded—a shrieking crescendo of some sort of animal. It didn’t take long from there for a platoon of the indigenous people to come from within the camp, armed to the teeth with vicious looking swords, spears, bows, and chains.
Jethro and his team froze.
Oh, God, here they come! FIRE!
Peace was our mission. Maybe we can reason with them.
“Don’t move, anybody,” Jethro said quietly. “Just don’t move. That way, we can be certain we’re not doing anything that can be considered hostile.”
The others didn’t answer, but their obvious stillness was answer enough.
The natives slowed to a halt before them, obviously surprised that these foreign intruders were so calm, and Jethro was astounded to see how much these people resembled the Vulcans and Romulans. Brandishing their weapons in an attempt to be intimidating, the others stepped aside so that one could step forward. The man was taller than the rest, his whole body—of what that was not covered by armor of bone—tattooed in red, while the others had no such markings. The man leveled a long spear, crowned in brilliantly blue feathers at Jethro.
the man said sternly. “Vah’ein mnave i aef khir-d’fiv?
Jethro frowned, but Growl hissed quietly to him, “Sir, I think that’s Romulan.”
The man turned with sudden speed and smacked Growl over the head with the shaft of the spear, commanding, “Qrie’hn, veruul!
Best not to anger him. Maybe you could try and free-lance Romulan, if Growl’s right.
Could Growl be right? But you’d have to challenge the man’s authority to let him speak…
Jethro put a hand out in warning at the man, who stiffened angrily. “Ihl
,” Jethro said, one of the only Romulan words he knew: no. The man frowned at him, and responded, “Nahi
Jethro looked over at Growl for help.
“He wants your name, sir,” Growl said, and the man looked over angrily at him again.
Jethro returned his gaze to the man. “Tell him my name is Jethro Tannings, and that we mean him no harm,” he said, and Growl translated, “Hlui’a nahi hrras
Jethro Tannings, u’mne i’hllan hwi ihla mnurhi
“Jet’throhh Tahn’eegs,” the man repeated, his accent badly butchering the name. Jethro nodded slowly, and the man mimicked the gesture.
“How can these people be Romulan,” Jethro asked quietly, glancing at Growl.
“I’m not sure they are,” Growl said. “Their language isn’t exactly the same, though most of it is. Maybe they’re an off-shoot, perhaps as far back as when the Romulans first seceded from Vulcan and left on their generationships.”
“And they settled here?” Vexenterani said, and the man looked over at her in surprise upon hearing her voice, which sounding much like wind chimes.
“Only option?” Yera’sy suggested, and upon hearing a man-plant speak for the first, as it seemed that they hadn’t really noticed him, the natives went into an uproar.
“Hva sthe hwi th’anng au varuul i uri fvil
,” the man demanded, as swords and bows and spears were leveled at Yera’sy.
Growl looked worriedly over at Jethro. “They think Yera’sy is one of the plant predators of this planet, sir,” he said. “And I don’t think they’re going to be welcoming him with open arms.”
Maybe some good-ol’-fashioned Romulan chivalry is in order.
Jethro shook his head. “Ihl,” he repeated, putting out a hand so that it was only inches from the point of the man’s spear. “Growl, tell him that Yera’sy is not from this planet. He is with us and he means no harm.”
Growl translated, though apprehensively, but the man looked unconvinced.
“Ask him his name, Growl.”
“Vah’hras nnearh nahi?” Growl interpreted.
The crowd of natives began murmuring in shock at the question. Jethro looked over at Growl, confused. “What’s wrong?” he said.
Growl shook his head. “I’m… I’m not sure,” he said, as the man said something in Romulan.
“He says that names are power here. If you know a man’s name, you have control over that person,” Growl said. “He says that because of this, no one but the mate of the Leader may know the name of the Leader.” Growl shook his head. “But he says you may call him Ssaedhe, which is his ‘honor name’. It means ‘brave’.”
“Very well then,” Jethro said, turning to face Ssaedhe, who asked something in Romulan.
“He wants to know if the ‘plant-predator’ can be trusted.”
Jethro gave Ssaedhe a bow, one of the length that would be required of one bowing to a Romulan praetor. “Tlhei, Ssaedhe,” Jethro said, which appeared to satisfy him, as Ssaedhe gestured for them to follow.
The others looked at him uncertainly for instruction. But there was nothing else that they could do, so Jethro followed after Ssaedhe, Herran, Yera’sy, Vexenterani, and Growl only a step behind. The native warriors formed a circle around them, separating them from their leader. Whether it was because they didn’t trust them, or it was just a “guest welcoming” ritual, Jethro couldn’t be sure.
As they passed through the gates, they snapped shut behind them, trapping them inside the alien camp.
They came to a stop in a clearing lined with a sparse ring of spears pointing in towards the circles center. The warriors wandered away to the outside of the ring, leaving only the landing party and Ssaedhe. As they stood there, curious villagers began to gather around. Now that they knew roughly what language that these people spoke, Jethro had discretely tuned the translator hidden under his shirt to the appropriate setting. Because of this, he could understand what was being said when Ssaedhe began to speak.
“It is to be known to you—and it is your duty to inform those of your brothers that are not present—that these hrull’niens—,” Jethro frowned when the translator refused to render the word, which must have been something native only to these people, “—are to be welcomed as guests of the Clan of Blood Warriors. They are to be treated as such, and any who disregard my decree of their guest-ship will be made to answer directly to me. I ask you to make room for them if there is room to give; food if there is food to give; and appropriate wear if there is wear to give. I ask nothing of you that you do not have or cannot give.” Ssaedhe paused, and a woman bowed forward, straightening from her kowtow when Ssaedhe stomped a foot.
“House of s’Hunter would gladly take them,” she said, brushing back her long braided hair, “if You are so willing.”
Ssaedhe nodded approval. “Yes,” he said. “Let that be so.” He turned to face Jethro and his company. “Follow t’Irhun to your lodging,” he said to them. “I will meet again with you shortly.”
As Ssaedhe walked off, a handful of people breaking from the crowd to follow him, Herran bent over to Jethro. “I knew it would happen,” he said. “I told you we would end up with the savages. I mean, ‘the Clan of Blood Warriors’? It doesn’t get much more obvious than that.”
Jethro shrugged him off. “Maybe so, but we did get here, and that’s enough. We have to make do with what we have.”
“Please come,” t’Irhun motioned to them, then turned to lead them through the camp.
Huts and tents and a few woodwork houses fanning out beyond the center clearing. Sure, most of them seemed somewhat ramshackle, and none of them at all matched another, but they were the homes of these people. Curious looking dogs whose bodies were slim, slick and wiggly such as a worm’s slithered in between their legs playfully as they walked, before they were called back by playing children or reproachful mothers. Perhaps they were savage, but from this inside view of things, it did not seem so to Jethro.
T’Irhun brought them to a halt in front of one of a few mud-and-stone houses, big enough to keep at least twenty individuals. With a slight bow, she gestured them into her home—or at least that was what they thought at first. But then she put a hand out to Vexenterani to stop her. “No,” t’Irhun said. “This is the lodging of the men. The women are housed elsewhere.” This caused Vexenterani to protest avidly.
You shouldn’t let yourselves be separated. Argue to keep Vexenterani with you.
Continue in next post with Choice #1
You’d best follow their customs. If the women have to be separate, well…
Continue in next post with Choice #2
Go straight ahead. You might just please everyone.
“Vexenterani’s right,” Jethro said, and Growl huffed irritably. “That wasn’t the reading from the camp we wanted. We should go west.”
Vexenterani smiled smugly as they turned west, Growl lividly swinging back up into the tree branches, high enough so that they could hardly see him.
“Look what you did now,” Herran called. “Growl’s throwing a temper-tantrum.”
Jethro sighed. “Growl can throw whatever fit he wants. We’re still going west, and that’s final.”
They walked for several more hours, trekking through the undergrowth until they finally reached a break in the trees. They began to thin more and more until they reached a small plain. Near them was a small herd of what looked most like short reptilian horses, which were grazing quietly. As they took their first steps into the open, the creatures heads flew up at once. When they spotted the landing party, their nostrils flared and their eyes visibly widened. They stamped their feet anxiously, their tails swished about, and the skin fold at their neck flared out in a crimson halo. But from in their midst, a small man appeared, cooing softly and calming them by pushing his hand along the neck-seam of their skin folds.
After he had managed to relax most of them, he happened to notice Jethro and the others. He inclined his head curiously at them, and held out his hands, then gestured at his thin tunic—which Jethro figured was perhaps a sign that he had no weapon. At first, it appeared as if he was not going to do anything at all, but then Jethro felt a sharp tug on his mind, as if something was trying to get it to open up—but then upon finding it closed it moved away. He saw Herran, Yera’sy, Growl, and Vexenterani one by one flinch as they experienced a similar mental tug.
The man looked a little sad then, but then lifted his hands, and tried to sign to them. When he found that they did not understand this either, he let out a whistling sigh and frowned, confounded.
Try a verbal communication. Why bother with telepathy or sign-language?
The man looks an awful lot like a Vulcan. Perhaps, “Live long and prosper?”
“We don’t mean you any harm,” Jethro tried, and the man looked absolutely shocked to hear his voice.
And so did the reptilian horses, who screamed in fear and began to stampede wildly, trampling the man.
The landing team scattered, but despite their size, the reptiles were fast in their fear, and Jethro suddenly found one upon him, stamping him to the ground. Frozen in shock on the ground, Jethro lay there. But two others came by, and one misstep caught Jethro in the head as he lay there unable to get up.
YOU ARE DEAD.
For this option, continue with Choice #3 in the next post.
“How about this,” Jethro said. “We’ll just keep going the way we are. Sooner or later, we’ll have to hit something.”
Vexenterani scowled, and Growl huffed in slight anger, but neither could argue.
“Always the mediator, eh, Jethro?” Herran laughed from behind.
Jethro scowled back at him as they set back up their previous pace. With the sun beating overhead, the trees doing a very poor job of masking the heat, they trudged through the undergrowth.
It seemed to have been hours, when suddenly, Growl let out a shriek above them. They froze, phasers drawn and pointed upwards, but all was still. They stood like that for several moments. Then suddenly, the giant jaws of a monstrous swarm of carnivorous plants came flying down from their cover of leaves---
YOU ARE DEAD.