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Old February 16 2006, 10:42 PM   #1
Starkers
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Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Dear all, this thread is designed to become the home for each and every winning story from the new monthly challenge. As such I hope we'll all get a story in here, at least once, and that this archive will act as an advertisment for all our other works. Anyway...on we go!
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Old February 16 2006, 10:46 PM   #2
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

November 2005

"They're just jealous" By Zephyr

Gene Roddenberry sat staring at his computer screen. This was his finest character yet. No one could help but be inspired by the qualities of this character—he was just so life-like, so believable. Absent-mindedly he noticed that he had new mail. He clicked on it and saw that a friend had sent him a link to the Mary Sue Litmus test to help fan fiction writers avoid creating Mary-Sues. Just for laughs, he thought, I’ll fill out the test for Wesley. See what they do to a canon character.

Question 1. Is the character named after you? (10pts)

Gene paused a minute and thought, well yes. Well, sort of, but that didn’t make Wesley a Mary Sue. The author of the test was obviously exaggerating, that had to be it. He scanned over a number of questions, relieved to find no more obvious ones. Okay, he did get a point or two for same gender and same ethnic group, but it would be a rather boring starship if there were no male Caucasians on it, so he was certain those two points didn’t count. Fairly pleased with Wesley’s performance, though a little riled at the initial question, Gene moved on to the next section, which was Personal Traits. Wesley breezed through this one. The only problem was “does everyone like the character?” With a sign Gene added one point to the growing total. And this section had been going ever so well.

He skipped over super-powers entirely, ignoring the potentially painful “does the character just seem to know things,” and went straight to the section on the character and the real world. Now this section was not going well; he couldn’t seem to seem to answer no to any of the questions. That was a whole seven extra points. He bit his knuckles and got up and paced around the room. He knew better—of course Wesley couldn’t be a Mary Sue. He would never have written such a despised type of character. After all he had envisaged Spock, he had written McCoy’s dialogue, he would never have written a Mary Sue!

Having managed to calm himself with a tea break, Gene sat down again to the final section: The fiendish plot. Well yes, he did introduce Wesley in the first scene, but someone had to. With a sigh he added another two points. Luckily a lot of the rest of the questions involved the TV series Gargoyles specifically, so he was saved from more embarrassment. Although the annoying question of “does the character save the day?” was worth three points. Sneakily, Gene thought: well he will save the day several times but I’ll only count it once. He is a brilliant engineer after all. He had nearly got through to the end without racking up any more points, till he got to the one about stories that revolved around the character. With a heavy sigh he added the two points and totalled his score up.

It was a twenty-four! He was shocked that his brilliant creation could score so high. Looking it over, he saw that Wesley was definitely in the Mary-Sue camp, even after those traits he had managed to excuse. He stared at the test for a moment or two, not really believing his eyes. Then he turned and looked at the window and mumbled “they’re just jealous”.
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Old February 16 2006, 10:48 PM   #3
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

December 2005

Death Watch By Starkers

I wish it didn’t have to be like this, he thought.

But it did, and he knew it did. On the view screen in front of him was the planet. It was nothing special, just another blue/green sphere like so many other M-Class planets, and it orbited a fairly uninteresting star. Nothing of importance, nothing of note, except for what was about to happen, then the planet would go down in the history books…

As a footnote, a statistical entry, nothing more.

The raktajino by his side had gone cold without him touching a drop, his mouth was dry but he couldn’t take his eyes off the planet.

It wasn’t the first time for him- the third in fact- but nonetheless there was something…he struggled for the right word, historic seemed crass but it would have to do, something historic about this, his first time as a Captain. No one else to blame this time, no shying away from his own culpability by thinking that the Captain should have done something, anything.

Sisko sighed. The Defiant had been in orbit around Belthess 2 for three hours, they wouldn’t be here much longer. The bridge was as quiet as a tomb, each of his crew was alone with their own thoughts now, each of them dealing with this in a different way.

Kira was in her cabin, praying. When she’d said she hoped the Emissary didn’t mind his stomach had clenched. Of course he hadn’t minded, the only thing he minded was that dammed word.

Bashir had argued of course, demanded that Sisko do something even though the young Doctor knew as well as anyone that nothing could be done. Sisko hoped the fire in Julian’s eyes, the passion in his heart, would never fade.

But it would, you only had to look at O’Brien to see that. The two men were more alike than either would ever admit, both dedicated to fixing what was broken, both tinkerers. But, while Bashir raged against the inevitable, O’Brien faced it pragmatically, grim resignation in his veteran eyes.

And then there was Worf, Worf who’d managed to surprise his Captain. He hadn’t been with them long, not long enough to know well, but still Sisko hadn’t expected him to be so emotional. Of course with the big Klingon it was hard to tell, but Sisko had seen a hint of turmoil in the warrior’s eyes. This bothered him, and Sisko wondered why? Perhaps because it wasn’t very honourable…maybe when this was over he’d ask. Then again maybe he wouldn’t, this wasn’t the kind of mission anyone in Starfleet tended to talk about.

‘Sixty seconds to impact,’ said Dax.

He winced at the dispassionate tone of her voice. She’d approached this from the outset with clinical detachment that would have put a Vulcan to shame. Sometimes it disturbed him how cold she could be. He guessed multiple lifetimes could do that to you. In spite of that he knew she would be the only one he’d talk to about this, after.

‘Forty seconds,’

He gripped the arms of his chair. I ought to be able to do something. I’m the Captain of one of the most powerful ships in the Federation; I’ve got some of the best minds in Starfleet right here on my bridge. I ought to be able to do something!

But he couldn’t. They’d talked about it, run endless simulations through the computers, but all came up the same. It had been moot anyway, because his orders wouldn’t have allowed him to do anything even if one of their harebrained schemes had been viable. Except maybe he could have bent the rules, maybe he could have told Starfleet to shove their orders.

‘Twenty seconds,’

Be honest, Ben, you could do something if you wanted to. So you can’t stop what’s going to happen, no one short of a Q could, but you could still save some of them. He’d done the math; in the time they’d been here they could have beamed at least fifty of them up to Defiant. Not enough for a viable colony though, he told himself; clutching at straws.

No, don’t hide behind ifs and maybes, Ben, as much as the non-interference directive tears your heart in two you believe in it. And that’s why you’re going to sit here and do nothing.

‘Ten seconds.’

Damn it woman, show some emotion.

They’d all seen the Belthessians- their race didn’t even have their own name yet, just the afterthought of the Cardassian who’d discovered this world- their scans giving a superb overhead shot of one of their villages. In human terms they were little beyond cavemen. Though already they’d mastered fire, already they had tools and wore furs. Who knew where they’d be in a few million…

‘Impact.’

On the screen nothing happened. Everything happened.

Berthold rays were invisible, ghost particles that were nonetheless real enough to be deadly to all forms of carbon based life. The cloud that had just shrouded the planet, the cloud they’d only detected two days ago, contained a concentration of berthold rays more powerful than any yet discovered. He consoled himself that at least it would be swift.

‘It’s over,’ said Dax. ‘They’re all gone,’

Now she let a little pain creep into her voice. Though no amount of pain could do justice to what they had just borne witness too. Over one hundred and seventy thousand sentient beings, a civilisation in the making, snuffed out as easily as a candle.

And all we did was watch.

Heavy footsteps sounded behind him, someone had to get off the bridge quickly, anger resonating though the bulkheads with every step, a death knell for a race.

He knew it was Bashir.

Worf muttered an obscenity under his breath that the universal translator had the good manners not to translate. Sisko looked over at O’Brien. He looked older, sadder than he had ever seen him. But then he forced a tiny smile. ‘We couldn’t do anything,’ he said ‘But at least we were with them, someone was with them, at the end.’

Sisko turned back to the now dead planet, wondering if that mattered at all, wondering at the random nature of the universe, wondering if some alien ship had sat above Earth as a meteor crashed down and consigned the dinosaurs to extinction.

“If someone had stopped that we wouldn’t be here now.”

He knew the line off by heart, the very first thing the lecturers taught you about the Prime Directive. The words hadn’t sounded so hollow in a lecture hall though.

He felt he should say something, a eulogy, an apology, anything to give this meaning.

Instead he closed his eyes. He wanted to go home, he wanted to see Jake, to wrap his arms around his son and never let go. ‘Chief, drop a warning buoy, Dax, set a course back to DS9, maximum warp.’

‘Course laid in, Benjamin,’

He opened his eyes and looked again at the graveyard before him. ‘Engage.’

I wish it didn’t have to be like this.
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Old February 16 2006, 10:50 PM   #4
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

January 2006

Too Much by RevdKathy


Bethlehem Colony was in a far flung corner of Federation controlled space. Almost as if people didn’t want to know it existed. Which probably they didn’t.

Health care had rendered such places long since obsolete. Well, almost obsolete. The days of penal colonies such as Tantalus was long gone. ‘Criminally and incurably insane’ was a forgotten category. People preferred not to know that there was still a tiny, tiny minority of patients who failed to respond to treatment.

But out there, in a far distant corner, was Bethlehem Colony. Not a hospital. Nor really a prison. Euphemistically called an ‘asylum’: a place where people went when they needed to be kept safe.

The staff at Bethlehem were hard working, decent folk. But no-one pretended they wanted to be there. It was hardly a posting liable to get you attention. And there were no promotion opportunities. A dead end post, watching over dead end patients.


The man sat at his desk and stared into space. He wished he could forget how long he’d been at Bethlehem colony. He wished he could forget anything. But forgetting wasn’t in his repertoire. That was his problem. Century after century and every single moment carefully recorded.

He remembered back to the beginning: his Father. And the woman he’d called ‘Mother’. In a way it was their fault. The time factor was not something they’d considered.

He remembered his early days at college. He hadn’t fitted in then, despite his best efforts to blend. No-one had treated him as ‘normal’ until his first posting.

He remembered that, too. His first Captain: a warm, brave, serious-minded man who’d taken the young lieutenant under his wing, and helped him come to grips with his basic humanity. Dead now, of course. Long, long ago.

He remembered the bright enthusiastic engineer. They’d worked together to solve so many problems: one with the spark of genius and inspiration, the other with a limitless capacity to process information and sift through data. They’d had some brilliant times on that first posting.

And others, too: the fierce Klingon, who’d actually respected him for his physical prowess. Respected him! Maybe the first person who had.
And the gentle, empathic counsellor, who had been the first to try to understand the huge issues of his identity and strange collection of responses.

And the girl. Tasha. Funny that after millennia she still mattered.

When they admitted him to Bethlehem, they’d taken all his belongings ‘for your own safety’. He wasn’t sure what they’d thought he’d do with a desktop hologram, but he resented that loss. He’d like to see her again.

Of course, Bethlehem had to exercise their ‘duty of care’. The place was carefully constructed so there were no ligature points, though he doubted he could hang himself. And no sharp objects, though cutting his skin would not make him bleed. He was a ‘risk’, carefully assessed after his so-called ‘attempted suicide’.

They didn’t understand. How could they? Their lives were so short: maybe a hundred, a hundred and fifty years. Little enough to leave them always wanting more, always wanting to extend their lives by one more year, one more day, one more minute.

But what about him?

He’d had friends. He’d loved people. And they’d gone. Every single one was dust.

And he’d achieved so much. With a positronic brain capable of almost limitless calculations he’d advanced science, engineering, medicine. He’d researched history, studied the arts, learned psychology.

And finally, he’d run out of things to think. So he’d turned himself off.

They didn’t understand. To them, that was ‘suicide’, sign of a disturbed mind. They deactivated his ‘off’ control, and tried to ‘treat’ him. But you can’t medicate a mechanical body. And talking therapies come to an end when there’s nothing left to say. He couldn’t make them understand: he’d simply lived enough.

So here he was, in a Nice Safe Room on Bethlehem Colony. One of the very few ‘severe and enduring’ psychiatric patients. One of the ‘intractable’ cases.

He shuffled in the chair. It gave him something to do. And stared at a blank wall, having seen everything else.

What else did you do, when you had too much time?
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Old February 17 2006, 08:52 AM   #5
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

*Mod's note: this thread is now prune-proof *
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Old February 22 2006, 10:17 PM   #6
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

my sister finally got around to reading Death Watch.

I've just (finally) got around to reading this entry from the December
challenge on the Trek BBS - and I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I
read it. It's absolutely brilliant. Please convey my admiration to the
author - I'm not going to forget it in a hurry. Very impressive. (You
can quote me on that if you want.)

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Old April 2 2006, 11:27 AM   #7
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

February 2006

"We Come In Peace" by AdamCzar


Captain G’rant waited so long for this one particular day that when it finally happened he could hardly believe it. As he stood in the middle of the bridge in the starship – his starship – he had to laugh to himself that he had predicted the situation so well: like anything anyone waits for, when the time comes, it seems like any other instant, moving by too fast. It’s only in a state of retroflection that a moment seems to slow down.

Even so, he took a deep breath to add a little drama to the situation. “Mister Call,” he ordered the helmsman, “take us out.”

The young helmsman couldn’t help but smile, himself. G’rant realized he was being a bit selfish by basking in this moment, making it his own, when his entire crew was right there with him.

He spun around to face his chair and the rest of the crew behind him.

“This is it,” he said after a moment. “We’re doing it.”

That’s it? He thought. The big moment, and that’s all I say?

With the slightest hint of embarrassment, G’rant sat in the chair. He’d sat in it a few times before, but now, as he began the mission he had wanted for so long, he took in the details. His arms fell onto the rests with ease, and as he took one more deep breath he felt his posture lean right back against the red fabric, his head held high.

The Starship Explorer’s primary mission – finally granted by his planet’s Space Commission to get out there – explore all that was to be explored.

Oh, the possibilities, he thought. I may even run into someone just like myself… seeking out new life and new civilizations for the betterment of all.

On the other hand, as far as G’rant knew, he was alone. He’d pondered the subject with his family many nights before. Acquaintances and strangers alike would even ask him, “Do you think we’re alone in the universe?”

For a scientist like himself, he always felt a bit pressured to give a definite answer. Grey areas never appealed to him. However, he knew the best answer his people’s studies could come up with was “I just don’t know.”

The unknowing of it all drove him crazy. He wondered, if there was just one form of life like his own, why haven’t they made contact?

Then the adventurer in him would take over, and decide to take the matter into his own hands.

If they weren’t going to introduce themselves, he’d go out and introduce himself.

One of G’rant’s largest ambitions was the forming of some kind of alliance. “The Great Planetary Alliance,” as he called it, was the source of controversy back on his home planet. Some of G’rant’s biggest critics called it too extreme and looked at it as a child’s fantasy. They hadn’t even make contact with any forms of life yet, and G’rant was talking about forming alliances whose sole purpose would be to go out and find more alliances to ensure a peaceful universe where everyone could be happy.

But, the Space Commission saw in G’rant what many others saw – extreme optimism, and an unyielding determination to do the right thing. G’rant was a good man, and as soon as the first Starship was commissioned, after a few obligatory shake-down missions, he’d get the orders he always hoped for: “Go out there, see what you can find, and make friends.”

So when the alert claxon came to life – the one that was programmed to notify everyone when a signal was being picked up that could indicate an intelligent broadcast – he was shocked.

“This soon?” He asked, with wonder in his eyes.

G’rant sprang up from his chair and ran over to his communication’s officer. “What is it?”

The communication’s officer looked over his readouts. “It definitely has the signs of being intelligent. Definitely not any random noise.”

“What kind of signal is it?” G’rant knew it would take time to figure that out, but he asked anyway.

“It’s not analog,” the officer responded. “Not a radio wave. Switching to digital.” He pressed a command into the computer.

The speakers creaked and popped a bit, but eventually there was a voice.

And it spoke their language.

“Clean that up.” G’rant ordered. His mind spinning, he pondered the situation. “Listen, we can understand them,” he finally stated. “Is it coming from the Space Commission?”

“No, sir.” The communication’s officer answered.

All eyes on the bridge were facing their Captain.

“It’s gone, sir. The signal stopped.”

Before G’rant could utter another word, the helmsman, from in front of the view screen, shouted for his Captain’s attention. “Sir!”

The helmsman didn’t have to say anything. G’rant knew what he was going to say as soon as the large vessel materialized out of nothing in front of them. He got weak in the knees as he marveled at the architecture of such a beautiful vessel.

G’rant laughed.

“I don’t believe this!” he shouted. “Not even ten minutes out on our first mission and we’ve already found life!”

Some of the other bridge crew began to laugh, too.

“I knew it!” G’rant continued. “I knew life was abundant! I’m jumping to conclusions, sure, but if there is life right next door to us, logically there’d be more the further we went!” He shot excited glances all around.

For a moment, an awkward silence took over the bridge. G’rant realized he was becoming too excited. Some of the crew looked scared. And when G’rant took another look at the vessel, the thought did enter his mind that the large green vessel was intimidating.

Nonetheless, he didn’t wait for the signal to come again. “Can we send a communication to them?”

“We can certainly try, sir.” The communications officer said.

G’rant nodded. He walked around to the center of the bridge and stood directly in front of the view screen. When the communications officer gave the word, he began to talk.

“On behalf of the planet of Rhemor, I greet you in peace.” He’d rehearsed this so many times, the words rolled right off of his tongue. He wished he could slow down this moment, too. “My name is Captain G’rant of the Starship Explorer. Our mission is to seek out new life, to make contact.” He left out the part about the Great Planetary Alliance. “Please, the last message we received was garbled, probably because of our—”

He couldn’t finish his sentence. A large discharge of static came over the speakers. After a moment of fighting off the impulse, he gave in and covered his ears. He rushed over to the communication’s station.

G’rant lowered his head to the officer and removed the hand from his right ear. “What’s happening?!”

“It’s coming from their ship, sir!” The officer shouted back. “But we should be able to hear them just fine. It’s as if they’re sending the noise on purpose!”

G’rant looked back at the view screen. The ominous vessel floated before them. What looked like white windows peppered the outer green hull. He could see no one inside.

The noise stopped.

“Captain G’rant of the Starship Explorer,” a voice announced. The bridge froze. A few seconds passed. “You have entered space belonging to the Romulan Star Empire. You are ordered to leave at once.”

G’rant’s head began to spin. “The Romulan Star Empire? I’m sure there is some mistake,” he questioned aloud. “We’re only minutes away from our home world… this area is, by default, already claimed by the Great Planetary Alliance.”

Some of the bridge crew began to understand.

Sometimes, it happened as kids.

They’d find a really neat area in the back section of their parent’s land and build a tree house, only to find out the tree was on someone else’s property.

They’d be playing in the sandbox when another kid would approach and kick sand in their face for messing with their area.

Back then, as children, they saw only one logical way to settle the dispute: who was there first? Even as adults, more often than not it ultimately came back to that one question.

But G’rant was so thrown through a loop he was having a hard time maintaining his composure. “We’ve studied this area. There was no one out here. Our boundaries clearly indicate that at this time—”

“Captain, you’re boundaries mean nothing.” The bully kicked sand in G’rant’s face. “You are not welcome here. Leave, or be destroyed.”

As if suddenly realizing how badly this first contact was going, G’rant tried to redeem the situation. “Please, we mean no disrespect. Perhaps we’ve made a bad first impression—let me once again state our peaceful intention. If we’re this close by, we should be allies!”

“Sorry to interrupt, sir, but I’m getting a peculiar reading,” one of the bridge officers reported. “There is an energy discharge forming along their starboard bow.”

“A weapon?” G’rant’s brow furrowed. “Fine. Mister Call, get us out of here.”

“Yes, sir,” the helmsman said. “Reversing course.”

They headed home without saying much. On the way back, the moments seemed to go by a little too slow.
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Old April 2 2006, 03:16 PM   #8
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Neat idea, Starkers. Would it be possible to include what the challenge parameters were for each month - then we can see what each entry was going for.
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Old April 2 2006, 08:43 PM   #9
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

^ My thoughts exactly. Good idea.
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Old April 2 2006, 09:04 PM   #10
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

I think there's a time-limit on editing your own posts, so I'll put the themes here. Although, I can't find the challenge for November.

December 2005 - 1,500 words on the theme of "wish"
January 2006 - 1,500 words on the theme of "time"
February 2006 - 2,000 words on the theme of "boundaries"
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Old April 2 2006, 11:00 PM   #11
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

^ Thanks for that. Wish I could remember what November was!
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Old April 3 2006, 07:14 AM   #12
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

November was 'deception' - i remember since my entry was simply entitled 'Deception'
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Old April 3 2006, 10:38 AM   #13
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Ta!
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Old April 10 2006, 04:14 AM   #14
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

March challenge - stories up to 2,000 words on the theme of "Misunderstanding"

Winner:

Inflection
by Admiral2

(1493 words)


“Time to arrival, Mr. Data?” Captain Jean-Luc Picard asked.

“Four minutes, twenty-three seconds.” Commander Data said, noting internally that it had only been five minutes since the last time Picard had asked.

Picard had reason to be impatient. He was trying to avoid the collapse of a diplomatic initiative that had made significant progress over the past few years. That was why the Enterprise-E was barreling at Maximum Warp toward Tamarian space.

Ever since Enterprise-D’s first encounter with “The Children of Tamar”, the Federation had made opening relations with the Tamarians a priority. The method they’d chosen for doing this was novel, in more ways than one. In essence, they would trade stories. Federation ships would periodically return to Tamarian space and wait to be contacted, then transmit text and holonovel versions of narratives from member worlds’ histories, mythologies and heroic fiction, then wait for their contacts to respond in kind. The ad hoc cultural exchange would provide both sides with a wealth of source material to work from while helping the Federation’s representatives to learn to communicate the way the Tamarians did. It wasn’t the most elegant plan, but it had worked. Picard had made the initial offering and gotten a response almost immediately, and in the years since he and other Starfleet captains involved in the exchange had become almost fluent in Tamarian communication. Both sides were really talking now, about their civilizations, about becoming allies and about the wider universe.

Yet all of that progress was in jeopardy, and Picard was at a loss to understand why. The Starfleet officer currently managing the exchange program, Captain John Morgan, was relatively new to the job, but he’d been trained well. Picard wouldn’t have thought it likely that Morgan would commit any kind of diplomatic error, much less one that would require sending the Priority One distress signal that Enterprise had been sent to investigate.

Picard brooded over the problem in silence for the last few minutes of the warp transit. Commander Worf’s report brought him out of his reverie. “Swiftsure coming into visual range.”

“Slow to Impulse.” Picard said. “On screen.”

As the ship slowed the image on the main viewer changed from the Warp-distorted starfield to a magnified image of the Federation Starship Swiftsure, Captain Morgan’s command. The small Nova-class vessel was currently surrounded by ten much-larger Tamarian cruisers.

“Damn.” Picard muttered, then said clearly: “Hail the lead Tamarian ship.”

Worf carried out the order. “They are responding.” He said.

Picard stood, adjusted his tunic and looked squarely at the main viewer. “On screen.”

The image changed again to a view of the Tamarian captain standing on his bridge.

Without missing a beat, Picard said clearly: “Lanir on the hillside at Kanam!” Let me resolve our differences.

The Tamarian glared back and sneered: “Judas earns his silver!”

That was ominous. “A newborn who listens.” Picard said. “Pharon and his scales.” I don’t understand. I came to find answers.

“Caesar crosses the Rubicon!” The Tamarian said. You are here to conquer!

“The journeyman, with arms out-stretched! Sunset at Maryl. Lanir on the hillside at Kanam.” I come in peace! Give me time to resolve our differences.

The Tamarian pointed at Picard. “The Rigan Fleet, with sails unfurled!” He raged. Leave now while you can!

“Borath at the Passage?” And if I refuse?

“The French at Agincourt.” The Tamarian hissed.

There was a tense silence, which Picard broke by repeating his request in a more pleading tone. “Sunset at Maryl. Lanir on the hillside at Kanam.”

There was another pause as the Tamarian captain glared at Picard, then his features softened as he relented. “Sunset at Maryl.” He growled, then closed the connection.

Picard glared back at the screen for a moment after the image reverted to the Swiftsure and the alien ships, then he turned and walked toward the turbo-lift. Data spoke as he went. “Captain, given the length of the day on the world ‘Maryl’ references I estimate that we only have...”

Picard cut him off. “I’m aware of how much time we have, Mr. Data. We won’t need all of it. If we haven’t figured out how to resolve this problem within fifteen minutes of the deadline we will simply withdraw to neutral space and hope to start over another day. Contact the Swiftsure and inform Captain Morgan that I’m beaming over. Number One, you have the conn.” With that he stepped into the lift.

================================================== =====

“I don’t know what happened, Picard!” Morgan told Picard in Swiftsure’s Ready Room. “I thought everything was going well! I even told Captain Akon that I looked forward to the day our peoples would truly be united, then suddenly he calls in all these reinforcements and he’s calling me things like Judas, Benedict Arnold and all sorts of other famous traitors from Federation history!”

“Something you said must have given the him the impression that we would betray them.” Picard said.

“Well, obviously, but I’ll be hanged if I know what I said!”

“Calm down. What exactly did you say before Akon grew angry? What phrase did you use?”

“I tried to use a symbol of unity to express my wish for continued good relations, so I said ‘Ganek on the plains of Vikrid’.”

Picard looked as if he’d been struck. “Say that again.”

“What? ‘Ganek on the plains of Vikrid’?”

Picard lowered his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Of all the stupid mistakes...” He muttered, then said to Morgan: “You should have said ‘Ganak on the plains of Vikrid.'”

Morgan looked confused. “So all of this is because I mispronounced Ganak?”

“Have you actually read the story of the Battle of Vikrid?”

“Are you kidding? There are over five thousand stories in the context database! I haven’t read a tenth of them yet. I’ve been more concerned with making sure I had the proper phraseology down pat for this round of talks.”

Picard sighed. “The Battle of Vikrid was a seminal moment in Tamarian history. It was the first time the chief tribes gathered together to fight an invading horde. The leader of one of the tribes was a young warrior named Ganak. He formed the alliance, led the tribes against the invaders and laid the groundwork for unifying all the Children of Tamar.”

“Okay, but I still don’t see...”

“Ganek was the brother of Ganak. He was leading the invaders against his people and their allies for his own personal gain. His actions were the reason why Ganak took up the mantle of leadership. Their relationship had kept him from realizing Ganek’s ambitions almost until it was too late.”

“Oh. So when I said ‘Ganek on the plains of Vikrid’...”

“You essentially bragged that you were using this entire diplomatic effort as a ruse to put them at the mercy of their enemies and bring about their destruction, solely to satisfy whatever ambitions you might have.”

The two captains stared at each other for several moments, then Morgan bowed his head. “I guess ‘Oops’ doesn’t quite say it.” He said.

Picard smiled. “No, and I can’t honestly say there’s no harm done, but perhaps we can alleviate some of the damage. Here’s what we’ll say...”

================================================== ========

Later, on Swiftsure’s bridge, Picard and Morgan were standing in front of the viewscreen, facing the image of Captain Akon. Picard put his hand on Morgan’s shoulder and said: “The Man who listens.” He has learned what he needs to know.

“Lothog before the Goddess!” Morgan said with a bow. I humbly beg your forgiveness.

Akon regarded them for a moment. “The journeyman, with arms outstretched?” He said.

“The journeyman, with arms outstretched.” Picard said, then turned to Morgan. “Herakles atones for his misdeeds.” Morgan will do anything he must to earn your forgiveness and trust.

“Garoth and Marka by the fire?” Akon said. Will we continue to talk openly and honestly?

“Garoth and Marka by the fire.” Morgan said.

There was another pause while Akon thought, then he turned to someone on his bridge and said: “Akton’s ships, with sails unfurled.”

“Captain Morgan, the Tamarians are pulling out.” Swiftsure’s tactical officer said.

“All of them?” Morgan said.

“Except Captain Akon’s ship, and it’s standing down from alert.”

Morgan turned his attention back to the screen. “Lanir leaves the hillside.” Akon said. Our differences are resolved.

Picard and Morgan smiled at him. “Lanir leaves the hillside.” Picard said. Akon nodded in affirmation then closed the channel.

Morgan and Picard turned to each other and shook hands. “Thank you, Captain.” Morgan said. “That was not one of my finer moments.”

“I was glad to help.” Picard said. “Just try to keep in mind that when dealing with the Tamarians...”

“It’s about what you say and how you say it.” Morgan finished.

Picard nodded, then stepped back a bit and tapped his comm-badge. “Picard to Enterprise: One to beam up.”

Minutes later, the Enterprise-E pulled away from the Swiftsure and its counterpart and departed the system.
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Old April 10 2006, 04:17 AM   #15
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

admiral2's on his own when it comes to summarising the April challenge!
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