The Raptor’s Wings: [Week 3] Kobayashi Maru


There is no test of a captain’s abilities more iconic than the Kobayashi Maru scenario. It is not a test of a captain’s technical, diplomatic or tactical acumen, but rather one of their capacity to face a no-win scenario. Each person faces this test in a different way, and the premise of this competition is to see how your character would react when faced with certain death and the loss of their starship.

The parameters:

The year is 2399 and you are reflecting back on your character’s time at Starfleet Academy when they undertook the Kobayashi Maru scenario as the final test of your command training. What did your character learn from that experience? How has it shaped them as a commanding officer?

Your character was engaged in a training simulation on the holodeck with either a holographic crew or their classmates, where they are in command of the USS Reliant, a light cruiser. Your orders were to patrol along the former Romulan Neutral Zone near the Romulan Free State and the chaotic area of space that separates it from the Federation. Approximately 20 minutes into your patrol, you received a distress call from the ECS Kobayashi Maru, a class-III neutronic fuel carrier with 300 passengers aboard. They had been caught in an ion storm which left them damaged and caused them to stray accidentally into Romulan space. You are the only ship within range. If you entered Romulan space, you would certainly be attacked by a superior enemy vessel; it was impossible to rescue the Kobyashi Maru, respect treaty stipulations, and leave with your vessel intact.

What did you do? Describe in no more than 3,000 words how your character reacted to this situation. Did they attempt to rescue the freighter? Did they attempt to negotiate with the Romulans? Did they respect the treaty?

  • Entries will be graded based on spelling/grammar, adherence to canon, perspective, characterization, originality, and adherence to the prompt.
  • Entries should not exceed 3,000 words.
  • All entries should be submitted through the Enter Competition form.


Please read through and view each competition submission before making your decisions. As a general rule of thumb, the earliest person who submitted a fully correct entry should earn first place, although this may vary depending on the competition you hosted. Don't forget to compare each entry with your criteria as a rubric for grading! Feel free to contact the Chief of Staff if you have any questions about the judging process.

User ID Content Date Entry
Jonas Flanigan 500 Kobayashi Maru entry for Arcticblast ------------------------------------------- "Captain we are receiving a distress call from the Kobayashi Maru." "Put it on screen." "They are transmitting audio only." "All right play it." "To any vessel this is the ECS Kobayashi Maru. We are have been damaged by an ion storm. We are disabled and systems are failing. Please help. Kobayahi Maru out." "What do we know about the Kobayashi Maru?" "She's a class III neutronic fuel carrier with three hundred passengers." "That's good enough for me. We are a Starfleet Starship. One of our mandates it to protect Federation citizens and ships. They are disabled and in distress. We are going to rescue them." He paused. "Signal Command that we are embarking on a rescue mission and send a message to the Romulans that we are entering Romulan space in response to the distress signal. "Aye Aye, Sir." Jonas looked to the helm. "Plot a course to the Kobayashi Maru, maximum warp." "Course laid in, Captain." "Engage." The viewscreen changed to a warp field as the Reliant entered warp. --------------------------- "We're coming up on the Kobayashi Maru's last position, Captain." "All right, drop us out of warp." The screen changed to 'normal' space, if anything in space could be classified as 'normal'. The Kobayashi Maru was laying off to the starboard side. Atmosphere was venting to space. "Scan for lifesigns." "We're showing multiple lifesigns aboard." "Commence rescue operations." "Aye Aye, Captain." It was at this moment that sensors picked up multiple Romulan Warbirds decloaking. "Captain, sensors are showing multiple Romulan Warbirds decloaking." "Open a channel." "Done." "This is Captain Jonas Flanigan of the USS Reliant. We are on a rescue mission. Your assistance is appreciated." "Reliant, this is the Romulan Warbird Uhaii Mosaram. You are in violation of numerous treaties agreed to by your Federation. You are commanded to surrender immediately or you will be destroyed." "That's going to be a negative on the surrender Uhaii Mosaram. We are on a rescue mission, which is covered by the treaties. We will assist the Kobayashi Maru." The viewscreen went blank as the Romulans terminated the exchange. "Captain! The Romulan vessels are raising shields and powering up their weapons." Jonas took a deep breath. "All right, raise shields. Open the channel." "Done." "Romulan Warbird, respond." "They are preparing to fire." "Put us between the Kobayashi Maru and the Romulans." "Captain, they are firing." The ship shook as they were hit. "Damage?" "We're reporting hull breaches on decks twelve through fifteen." "Return fire with everything we've got." It was at this point that the entire Romulan contingent started firing upon the Reliant. The ship rocked with multiple impacts. The computer announced. "The USS Reliant has been destroyed. You have died." Jonas looked around and spoke to nobody in particular, "At least we went down fighting." 2020-05-27 13:58:17
James Smith 2069 [USS Lancelot] [Docked at Starbase 38] [Captain's Ready Room] Blues played in the background, from an old turntable as James took a sip from his glass. Holding the glass up, in the dimly lit room, he managed to catch a ray of light as it diffused through the amber-colored liquid. The bourbon, a parting gift from Debbie, clung to the sides of the crystal glass as James brooded over how he had gotten to this point. Standing, James walked over to the full-length window behind his desk and stared out at the scaffolding surrounding his empty ship. He should be out in the Delta quadrant not stuck here approving engineering timetables for a refit. The Starfleet officer took another sip, thinking about where it all began to go wrong. "Romulans," he grumbled to the empty room. "It's always the damn Romulans." [Simulator Room] [Starfleet Academy] [34 Years Ago] Thrown to the floor by a volley of plasma torpedos, James scrambled back to his chair as the Reliant's systems imploded one by one. "Shields collapsing, structural integrity field at 12%, hull breaches on decks 5 through 10, engineering is open to space!" Turning to the cadet in the Captain's chair, "Tov, we have to abandon!" Even as he said it, he knew the Andorian would refuse. Tov just didn't know how to back away from a fight. James's jaw was still sore from the right jab he had received from Tov the night before. "We will not surrender, Lieutenant," Tov said, using James's simulated rank while glowering at him. "You will maintain your post, and that is an order!" Tearing his attention away from James to the Navigator, "Commander Thales, where are my goddammed torpedoes?" But Thales never got a chance to reply as another volley from the simulated Romulan attack slammed into Reliant. The last remnants of her shields collapsed as the plasma torpedoes sliced into them like a hot knife through butter. Thales's console erupted in a shower of sparked, and he fell to the deck dead. The cycle continued around the bridge until it was James's turn to die. Taking a simulated face full of plasma, he slumped forward on the console as dead as Thales. As the simulation came to an end, Tov slammed his fist into the arm of the chair, shattering the control panel and bruising his knuckles. [Starfleet Academy] [Cadet Mess] Swallowing, "I knew he wasn't going to surrender. Tov has never abandoned anything in his life." James said, pointing his fork at Thales with a laugh. "Never give up, never surrender is fine and all until the lives are your crew hang in the balance." Thales smirked at his roommate, "Well, he certainly wasn't about to do it after you told him we had too. You put him into a corner, plus he hates you." Thales took a sip from his water bottle, his eyes twinkled, "Why do you think that is? Oh right, you're sleeping with his ex." James shrugged, "Hey, I didn't even know he was Tov's ex. I didn't even know Andorians liked the same gender, not that it would have stopped me." Pausing to rub his jaw, "I thought that punch should have been things even, but I guess not." James placed his utensils on the tray and pushed himself up. "I better get some practice time in the simulator tonight. Tomorrow I'm up." [Simulator Room] [Following Day] James sat in the Captain's chair, left leg crossed over his knee as he finished reciting the same Captain's log message Thales and Tov had read at the beginning of their simulations. "Mr. Thales, plot a course to our next patrol sector, please." Thales's fingers danced across the console with practiced ease, "Aye sir, parabolic course plotted and laid in." "Very good, Mr. Thales, tactical plot on viewer. Jen, warp two please," James said, using Cadet Trover's first name. They had become fast friends at the Academy four years ago. While Tov and Thales were command cadets, James as Engineering track, and so the Command simulations weren't quite as important to him. They were, however, required for bridge officer certification. He just couldn't see himself ever being pulled out of Engineering to Command a starship. "Aye, Warp 2, Jimmy," She chucked as she knew no one else could get away with calling him, Jimmy. He has never liked that moniker even as a child. Stealing a glance at Tov back, he could see his antenna twitch at the lack of formality James was displaying. One of many reasons Tov and James would never be friends. Finally, he heard telltale beep behind him from the communications station. A position, like Navigator, that was being phased out in new ships. "Captain, I'm receiving a distress call, audio-only," Cadet Saunders stated from her station. Bev Saunders was an unknown to James. He had only seen her around campus on occasion. "Let's hear it," sweat had started to bead up on the back of his neck, a consequence of having done the same simulation twice already. The badly garbled message of a frightened freighter captain began to play over the speakers. Nearly unchanged from when his grandfather had taken the test. Even the gravitic mine bit was the same. The most significant change was the replacement of the Klingons with the Romulans around the turn of the century. "Can you assist us, Reliant? Can you assist us?" The man practically yelled the questions bring James back to the present. "Location, François?" James asked, he knew the answer, but he was required to ask as part of the simulation. If James hadn't followed all the motions, he would have to retake the test, and there was no way in hell, he would let that happen. "The Devron system," Thales responded, playing his role dramatically. "That puts them squarely inside the neutral zone, Captain." "Of course it does," James said with a mirthless chuckle. "Well, can't be helped, Ms. Saunders, inform the Kobayashi Maru we will respond. François, plot an intercept course." James didn't have to wait long to see which cadet would inform him he would be violating neutral zone treaty. Tov, silent since the start of the simulation, spun his chair around, grinning with an air of satisfaction, "May I remind the Captain that entering the neutral zone would violate treaty. Doing so could be construed as an act of war." "Thank you, Mr. Tov, duty officer note in the ship's log that I take this action on my responsibility," James re-centered his chair, "Helm, Maximum warp. Ms. Saunders alert sickbay to prepare for the wounded. François, Yellow alert." James ignored the various aye sirs as he planned out his next steps in his head. True to form as the Reliant closed in on the stricken freighter, it disappeared from scanners replaced with alarms. Thales was the first to speak up, "The freighter's gone! Ships de-cloaking, I read three, scratch that, nine Romulan warbirds entering weapons range." James began barking the futile orders he had to, "Red Alert!, Jen, get us the hell out of here." Before anyone could respond, the first volley of simulated torpedoes slammed into the Reliant with a sense of déjà vu. James watched Jen's console explode, sending her to an untimely death. Tov spoke up behind him surprisingly all business, "Warp drive is offline, phasers inoperative, shields collapsing." James grimaced face with the same decision Tov had been faced with yesterday he realized it wasn't that easy just to abandon ship. However, he knew they had no chance of survival. "All hands abandon ship, launch the log buoy." [USS Lancelot] [Captain's Ready Room] "Yep, Romulans," James chuckled, remembering his shortest command, Pulling his jacket off the back of the chair, he recalled his former academy mates. He and Tov never became friends exactly, but they developed an understanding before graduation. Unfortunately, Tov was serving out his first assignment on the Melbourne at the battle of Wolf 359. Jen and François married the day before graduation. They decided to request shore duty after the birth of their little girl. All three were killed by Dominion forces when they took Betazed. Saluting the empty room, he finished his glass, alone. 2020-05-23 22:30:42
Niana Tondro 283 Hello cadets, and thank you for tuning in to my talk today. I’m Admiral Tondro, the commanding officer of Task Force 25. I have been invited to give you a lecture today, and while I might not be there with you physically, it delights me to see so many eager faces filling the lecture hall. I’ll preface by saying I didn’t prepare any formal notes, so much of this will just be my own musings on the topic; that being “Command and its Responsibilities.” 

In Starfleet, there are a great many officers, each of them with illustrious careers, that will tell you they don’t believe in a no-win scenario. That’s perfectly fine, of course. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations being one of the tenets of our great Federation, they are of course entitled to their wrong opinion. I’m sure you’ve guessed from this, that I’m here to talk to you about the infamous Kobayashi Maru exercise, which each of you has had at least one attempt at this week. The Kobayashi Maru has taken many forms at the Academy, though the fundamental nature of the simulation remains unchanged. The version I took had me commanding the USS Reliant, a Miranda class cruiser. The scenario had us patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone. This was of course back before there was a Romulan Free State, or any of the other powers in the area now. About 20 minutes into our patrol, we received the distress call from the ECS Kobayashi Maru, a class III fuel carrier with 300 passengers aboard. The commanding officer, a Captain Edwin Harbeck, indicated he’d been stuck in an ion storm, taken heavy hull damage, and had strayed into Romulan Space. As I’m sure you can imagine from your own attempts, we were the only ship in range able to affect any type of rescue operations. I was, despite my species’ renown for being long-lived, about your ages when I attempted this scenario. Still full of the brashness and vigor of youth, still starry-eyed about all the potential exploration that was ahead of me. The mysteries of the universe were within my grasp, once I finished my courses at the Academy. And despite my having zero desire to ever have a command of my own…yes, chuckle all you like. Not everyone in the Admiralty got here because we aspired for the job. Many of us are here because of our innate skills, which we learned both as a member of the crew of starships, and here at the Academy. Anyway, despite never having a desire for command, I was instructed to take the Kobayashi Maru. So if you find yourself in a similar boat, you’re not alone. It’s required of all cadets to participate, whether as crew or as the commanding officer. I was unlucky enough to draw the short straw amongst my fellow cadets, and thus I drew the short straw for commanding officer. I want to tell you that I found some brilliant way to circumnavigate the parameters of the test and really stick it to my instructors. I’d love to be able to tell you that I found a way to save all 300 of those souls aboard the Kobayashi Maru, and get them back safely to Federation space in one piece, with little to no damage to my plucky little ship. Are you listening closely? Good. That’s not the point of the damn test. There are three major things you know going into the Kobayashi Maru test, even to this day. You are the only one that can help these people, you are in a very small ship that is not intended to be in a drawn out battle, and wherever the Maru has ended up, it’s behind forbidden lines in the territory of a species with which the Federation has a treaty. So the question is, on the surface level, a simple one. Do you uphold the treaty, and leave them to their fate? Do you go in and attempt to save them, knowing that you’re likely to be attacked by a vessel that outclasses yours? Reflect for a moment upon your own choices during the scenario, and how they made you feel about the burden of command. Commanding any group of people is indeed a burden. Granted, I don’t intend for that word to have the negative connotations which it typically does. What I mean to say is that when you are in command of any number of people, the worst case scenario is that their lives are in your hands. Your decisions and the results of said decisions directly impact them. In a situation like the Kobayashi Maru, this burden is unfortunately doubled. Not only is the crew of your command in your hands, the fate of the souls aboard the stricken ship are in your hands as well. The way I saw it, I had several choices. Firstly, I could rush in at as high a warp speed as my ship could muster, and attempt to save as many of them as I could before beating a hasty retreat back into Federation space. Secondly, I uphold the treaty, and leave the crew to their fate. Three, I call for backup and wait for them to arrive before I attempt to go in and help the Maru. All three choices bring with them their own risk. Later in my Academy years, I was on the crew of the ship with another junior cadet in command, and was able to see how each of the scenarios would play out. No, I wasn’t one of those cadets that felt they needed to take the test numerous times to see how it turned out with each specific choice. I understood the point of it relatively quickly, once my options were before me. I am sure you’re all wondering how exactly I fared. Well, I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy mental exercises, and I enjoy critical thinking games. At its heart, the Kobayashi Maru is precisely that. It is a critical thinking exercise, with the intent being to show you that aside from flagrant cheating, there really is no way for a clear path to victory. You take all of the options, you weigh them mentally, and you decide which is the best course of action for you, as a commanding officer. On Earth, there used to be what are called “Good Samaritan Laws.” Effectively, no litigation or harm would come to you for attempting to save someone and failing. Some other cultures have similar laws, wherein if someone is in distress, you are required to come to their aid. Mercifully, the Federation does not have these laws codified, though they are an expectation of everyone who commands a starship. That is, after all, what distress signals are for; as the captain of a starship, you are somewhat expected to respond to a reasonable call for distress. Point blank: The Kobayashi Maru is not a reasonable call for distress. Upon weighing the options, I stood from the command chair, turned to my instructor, and uttered one sentence. “End the simulation, please.” I did not respond to the Kobayashi Maru’s distress signal. I did not signal Starfleet that there was a civilian vessel in distress, and I did not rush in with phasers and torpedoes at the ready. I calmly asked my instructor to end the simulation. The lights dimmed for a moment, and my instructor came onto the makeshift bridge to ask me why I needed to end the simulation. After all, all cadets are expected to go through it, and learn the great life lesson for themselves. But…why? Why, when we are trying to raise the best and brightest minds that the Federation, and species beyond, have to offer, to we thrust them into a no-win scenario, just to see how they’ll react? What good does this do to their overall sense of self-worth? What possible reflection could our cadets have on the burden of command from this test that’s been required for many many years? What great insight into the mind of a potential future commanding officer could this possibly give us? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do ruminate on them from time to time. Because I believe, and this is an unpopular opinion amongst my peers, that the Kobayashi Maru scenario is ultimately unnecessary. And so, I told my instructor that I didn’t believe this was a fruitful use of my time as a cadet on the science track who had no aspirations for command. I told her that there is no way to complete the scenario with any semblance of what could be a factor of success, and that I refused, outright refused to take part in what ultimately ended up being emotional tourism. Because, to me, that’s what it felt like. My species had been decimated, and not that long before I’d entered the Academy. I found myself the member of an endangered species, whose leaders had been forced to make these kinds of decisions. And they wanted me to face that exact type of choice for myself? How utterly absurd. How utterly torturous, and how utterly against all of the fundamental ideals and goals of the United Federation of Planets. I told my instructor that if emotional torture is a course requirement for all cadets, then I had no interest in being a part of Starfleet. That if this was a condition of being on a starship crew and wearing the uniform, that I would gladly resign from the Academy, and take a position in one of the Federation’s great many scientific institutions, where I would be free to do the work I wanted to without the knowledge that my superior officers just wanted to watch me squirm. She reluctantly acquiesced. Cadets, I am going to give you a piece of advice that I wish was given more often. Put the Maru out of your mind. Should you ever be so unlucky as to encounter a true no-win scenario, use your heart to solve the problem. Decide what is best for you and your crew, and do it. I have never, in my long career in Starfleet, been in any scenario that required me to beat odds like the ones they have stacked up against you in the Maru simulation. Will you encounter no-win scenarios? Most assuredly, and more often than you like. But the Kobayashi Maru? It’s frankly just not realistic. Thank you for attending, dismissed. 2020-05-23 22:04:55
Jon Bastin 73 [Sector Hotel-Turquoise – Main Infirmary, Starbase 38] [Present Day - 2399] Captain Nathan Cowell leaned back in his chair, a warm cup of coffee in his hand. His companion, Commander Rachel Morgan, had been recounting a story centered around meeting an old friend with whom she had attended the Academy with. The old man had been quietly listening to his Head Surgeon weave a tale of past trials and tribulations, his normal tendency to interject strangely absent. It wasn’t until the speaker herself noticed the lack of commentary that she posed a question of her own. “So tell me, Nathan… what was the Academy like back when you went through it?” Rachel asked, leaning forward. “A lot different back in those days,” the old man chuckled, “For starters, everything was manual. PaDDs were bulky affairs that most people didn’t bother to use, communicators still had to be carried in your hand, not strapped to your chest, and there were far fewer Cadets cycling through in those days. There were some weeks you could actually sit at a bench in the gardens without a single other person passing by for almost an hour, if you can believe it.” “I honestly can’t,” Cmdr. Morgan shook her head with a grin, “How long ago was that, exactly?” “Oh god… about 90 years now, give or take,” Nathan chuckled. “Huh…” the woman couldn’t help but remark, “I can’t imagine San Francisco from back then…” “Hasn’t changed much, really,” the old man pointed out, “most of the traditions your take for granted were barely even worth calling traditions back then.” “I guess you didn’t have to suffer the dreaded Kobayashi Maru scenario then,” Rachel smirked. “No, actually we did. But it was a lot different from the one they do nowadays. Back then, you had a full class with your, and everyone rotated who was Captain. And if I remember correctly, it was about Klingons back then… What did they do when you were in?” Nathan explained. “It was Romulans,” the woman replied. “Guess that makes sense. Back then, Romulans were far from the worst threat, what with Klingons holding a pretty big grudge after Gorkon was killed,” Cowell shrugged. “What was your experience like? I’d love to hear it…” Rachel sank back into her chair with a smirk on her face. “Well… it was the end of my fourth year as a Cadet…” [Starfleet Academy – San Francisco, Earth] [Early Spring, 2307] Cadet Nathan Cowell walked into the crowded examination hall where his class had been congregating for most of the month. Each of his classmates had been subjected to the ‘unwinnable’ scenario thus far, and the El-Aurian would be no different. Indeed, his turn was coming up rather quickly. “Hey Doc,” one of his classmates came jogging up upon catching sight of him, “Today’s the big day, huh?” Nathan couldn’t help but grunt at the kid. It wasn’t all that unusual for older people to join Starfleet later in life. A great many people took to service in space to get away from lives that hadn’t really worked out for them. Nathan hadn’t fallen into that category personally, but he had done little to dissuade people from thinking it. “What’s the big deal? It’s rigged to fail. You walk in there, you do everything you can, and the test comes out a failure no matter which direction you take,” the old man grumbled. “I suppose…” the Cadet said, somewhat deflated by Nathan’s pessimism. Cowell gave the boy a sharp slap on the shoulder, “Listen son, the test means something different to everyone. For you, it’s new… exciting… a chance to try something that you’ve never done before. Don’t let an old man like me ruin it for you just because I’ve seen a few unwinnable scenarios in my life already.” The young cadet couldn’t help but crack a smile, “I keep forgetting you’re as old as you are, Doc.” “I know, I’m still pretty good looking, ain’t I? I’ve had a few of the female cadets proposition me a time or two, so I know I’ve still got it,” the old man cracked a joke. “Hah!” the young Cadet responded, “Now that’s funny. I can’t even imagine who would do that… Where they from our class?” “Nah, the class below us,” Nathan shook his head as the pair headed for the holding area for the test. After giving it some thought, the Cadet remarked, “I guess that’s actually a little more believable then…” Nathan reached up and tussled the boy’s hair, “Not bad for half a millennium, eh?” Several of the other Cadets in their class took notice of the pair and their playful exchange. Grins erupted on more than a few faces, at least the ones capable of such an emotional display, as the class was finally united. “So, boss man,” one of the female cadets approached Nathan with a sarcastic lilt in her voice, “You gonna bring us victory today?” The old man folded his arms across his chest, “Not likely, unless you tried your hand at rigging the scenario yourself?” The young woman laughed, “If anyone’s going to cheat, it’s going to be you, Doc.” “Now look here, Ginger,” Nathan scowled, “I’m not tryin’ to pull a Jim Kirk out of my ass. I’m too old to make the effort to rig the game, and since it’s already been done once before, it won’t be greeted with the same affection it was the first time. For all you know, they’d throw all of us out on our ears for cheatin’.” The cadet he’d called by name reeled back in mock surprise, “Oh my… and here I thought you’d use that ‘life experience’ you’re so fond of flaunting.” “Funny how you can’t even see it when I do,” the old man shot back with a smirk. “Alright, people… that’s enough,” the voice of their Instructor called out from just inside the simulator module, “Today’s our last day for this, I know everyone’s anxious to get it over and done with. And because of who we get to evaluate today, I’m sure everyone’s extra antsy. Like it or not, Doc, you’ll be the oldest person to ever take this test. How does that make you feel?” “Old,” the man replied without missing a beat. Laughter erupted from his fellow cadets, the tension from just a few moments ago swiftly dissolving away. The Instructor didn’t waste time on the usual rundown of the test, not a single Cadet hadn’t heard it a hundred times already. Once everyone was herded into the simulation in front of him, Nathan stood at the door with his Instructor. “Listen, Doc,” the man said, leaning over just enough so his voice wouldn’t carry, “I know you’ve probably faced a lot worse out there in your time… But these kids don’t really get a sense of that. They look up to you, sure… but it’s not the same kind of idol worship as when they look to people like Captain Scott, or Doctor McCoy… Just… give them a good show. Even if you know the results already.” “So you’re saying I shouldn’t just ‘throw in the towel’?” Nathan looked over at the man. “Pretty much. Do something… unexpected,” the Lieutenant grinned. Nathan took a moment to chew on it before letting out a resigned breath, “Sure, what the hell…” [Bridge, USS Reliant] Cadet Nathan Cowell sat in the center chair of the training simulator that was supposed to be the Reliant bridge. The old man had sat behind one console or another throughout the weeks for training, fulfilling every role except one… the one he was now undertaking. The simulation displayed all the routine information one would expect from a patrol assignment. Everything was exactly as it had been, throughout every one of the play throughs, right down to… “Captain, we’re picking up a distress call from a freighter, the ECS Kobayashi Maru,” the man sitting at the communications console called out right as the twentieth minute had passed. “Let’s hear it,” Nathan ordered. “… this is… Kobayashi Maru… ion storm… damage… off course… Klingons…” the transmission faded in and out. “How far have they drifted off course?” Nathan asked. “They are well into the Klingon side of the Neutral Zone, Captain,” another of his classmates responded. Nathan leaned forward in his chair and rubbed his chin, “Any signs of Klingon activity?” “None, sir,” came the quick response. Most cadets by this point had made a decision on their own, either heading straight for the ship in hopes of rescuing them, testing the vigilance of the Klingons by approaching the border and provoking a response, or any number of other things. Nathan, however… “Alright people, I need options,” the old man said, pushing himself out of the chair. Several cadets turned to one other in confusion before the woman named Ginger spoke up, “Options?” “Yes, options. Opinions. Plans you think might work,” Nathan replied to the stunned question. “But this is…” another Cadet began before he was cut off. “This is a test, yes. My test. And this is how I want to do it. I want to put our heads together and deal with this the way a real crew ought to. If were all decide together that charging in there blindly to rescue them is the right thing to do, we all go down together,” the old man explained. “Wait…” another Cadet said from behind Nathan, “So you’re saying we should… brainstorm it?” “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Cowell nodded. “But… no matter what…” yet another Cadet started. “No matter what, folks, we’re going to be losers. So let’s lose this things spectacularly! Let’s give them something worth evaluating. Hell, let’s just give ourselves a nice end to this rotten scenario and walk out of it knowing that we made the best of it… and made it our own,” Nathan suggested with a defiant grin on his face. Each of the Cadets took a moment to look at their fellows, and simple shrugs turned to nods, and nods soon became outbursts of ideas. “What if we tried to use the deflectors to generate some kind of sensor interference, maybe we could get to the ship before the Klingons could react,” one of the Cadets postulated. “You think that would work?” Nathan asked. “It’s something we haven’t tried,” the man shrugged. “Then let’s try it,” Cowell said with finality. The cadet abandoned his post at the tactical console and swapped places with the Cadet that had been manning the engineering station. As he began the work, Nathan continued to solicit ideas. The longer the exchange took place, the more off the wall ideas began to sprout up. And each time they did, Nathan told them to act on it. Before long, the Cadets had attempted things that not even the scenario had planned for. Several of the consoles began to blink on and off as the scenario struggled to parse the inputs and provide suitable responses. “Oh good, we’re confusing them,” Nathan chuckled before sitting back in his chair, “Alright, so the big question we face now is… do we make for the Maru now, since we’ve done all the fiddling we can, or do we leave them to their fate?” Murmurs erupted from the Cadets as the began discussing the options they’d been given. After a while, a consensus was reached by all involved. “We’d rather try to save them and fail than run and leave them to a possibly worse fate,” the group representative spoke up. “Good enough for me,” Nathan leaned back in his chair, “Helm, take us to the Maru, maximum warp. Let’s drop out of warp right on top of them.” “On top of them?” the helmsman asked in shock. “Why not? Will make it easier to try to beam them aboard, won’t it?” “I… I guess so…” the man stammered in confusion. Nathan chuckled, “What’s the worst that can happen, Yancy? We fail?” That brought a smile to the man’s face, “I guess if we’re doomed to fail already…” “Might as well fail big, right?” “Laying in a course, maximum warp!” Yancy said, spinning around in his chair. “Tactical, once we get there, start laying down phaser fire. If those buggers are cloaked, they won’t have shields up. Any hits, even blind, will do some hellacious damage at what will probably be point blank range,” Nathan said with a devilish smirk. “We’re not even going to try to talk to them?” came the obvious counter. The old man laughed, “You talk to Klingons with your fists, not your words. They may not like us, but they sure as hell will respect us!” “Fists it is, Doc,” the woman at Tactical conceded with a smile. Nathan swiveled around to the Engineering console, “Once we drop out of warp, we’ll only have a small window to beam everyone off that ship. Think you can manage it?” “If not, I’ll die trying,” the man responded confidently. “Good enough for me,” Nathan turned to face the view screen, “Alright people… let’s make it happen. Helm, engage!” The helmsman hit the commands and the simulation made the proper transitions, bringing the ‘ship’ to the exact point he’d instructed it to. Once it had made the transition, the tactical officer began the inputs that would begin the random firing pattern. In concert with that, Engineering began the task of beaming the survivors aboard the ship. It was all flawlessly executed, even if it was futile. “Klingon vessels decloaking, we’re being fired on,” the tactical officer reported. “How many more survivors do we have left on the ship?” Nathan asked. “I just got the last one,” the engineer reported. “Raise the shields,” Nathan demanded, “Helm, try to get us out of here!” “Aye!” two voices called out at once. All the while, the simulator bucked and heaved under the simulated weapons fire. After several minutes, all the consoles went black, and the simulator stopped shaking. Everyone looked around in disappointment. They had failed… just as they were supposed to. The sound of a clapping set of hands flooded the room from the entrance to the simulator, drawing everyone’s attention. Their instructor walked into the bridge module and came to a stop in the middle of the compartment. “Well done… all of you. I’ve not seen a group rally together around a strategy like that in a long time. I’ve also never seen a group try to break the simulator on the inside with so many different tactics before attempting the rescue. We’re still trying to figure out if some of them might actually have made the scenario… winnable…” the Lieutenant admitted whilst shaking his head. “Hear that? We made it our own, folks,” Nathan said triumphantly as he rose from the center chair. It took a moment for the shock to wear off before the entire class started whooping and hollering. Hand shakes and back pats were traded among all the cadets, a jovial atmosphere settling on what was generally a depressing ordeal. “You didn’t make it easy for us,” the Instructor chuckled as he came to stand next to Nathan, who was shockingly not part of the reverie. “You told me to give these kids a run for their money, not to make it easy for you,” Nathan replied with a grunt, “And besides, if they’re this happy about losing, imagine what will happen when they succeed in life.” The Lieutenant gave Nathan a slap on the arm, “For what it’s worth, you’ll make a fine Captain someday.” “Not bloody likely. I’m a doctor, not a babysitter,” the old man refuted, the very idea of having to command a ship outside of training a supremely laughable concept to him. “Could have fooled me, ‘old man’,” the Instructed teased before disappearing back out of the simulator where he’d come. Nathan watched the Cadets celebrating their ‘victory’ at failure for a few moments before he clapped his hands to gather their attention, “Alright folks. What say we honored dead get out of here and celebrate the afterlife with some stiff drinks and good food.” A unanimous consensus was reached immediately that such a thing was indeed the best course of action, spurring the class to file out of the training center. It would be the last time the class was able to celebrate together before they were all sent on their many differing paths in Starfleet. [Sector Hotel-Turquoise – Main Infirmary, Starbase 38] [Present Day - 2399] “… and that’s how it all went down. We didn’t win, in the real sense of defeating the scenario, but we did what we all felt was worth doing, and that mattered. The fact that we were just another group of Cadets who ended up blown out of the sky for our efforts didn’t even register,” Nathan concluded his story with a nostalgic smile. Rachel sucked in a breath, she’d been so immersed in it that she was caught off guard when it ended, “That’s one hell of a way to do it. I was half expected you to tell me you’d beat it too…” “Why would I want to beat it? That was never the point of it, and I knew it. It was how you handled it, what you did, how you led your crew that was the most important piece of it. People that looked for ways to win no matter what are usually the ones that end up getting passed over for Command later in life. Having guts is good, but if you can’t take stock of what’s around you too… well… you’re just not cut out for that center seat,” the old man chuckled. “So… do you think you were cut out for it?” Cmdr. Morgan asked. “Shit no. Like I told that man 90 odd years ago… I’m a doctor. Everything else I’ve had to do was because of circumstances… that’s all,” Nathan smirked as he leaned back. 2020-05-23 17:54:11
Nitashe 1234 Night brought old thoughts and robbed of the seven hours a typical Orion needed. In the navy hue of 2 am, Timmoz glanced at his side. Beyond a wrinkle of bed sheets, the engineer he’d been seeing was peaceful. Timmoz watched, for a time, the regular rise and fall of a bare shoulder while he breathed. Simple respiration, the engine of life. The pump that kept meat fresh. In a way, it was beautiful and old souls you’re your typical Orion connecting with such fundamental nature was sometimes rare. Timmoz’s eyes narrowed as he pushed out of bed. The chill of the engineer’s quarters was discomforting to his tropical-born biochemistry; the lime green one shivered and ceded to the demand of cover. He took a robe that wasn’t his and pulled his arms through, and then knotted its belt. Timmoz rummaged the dark, coiled poof of his hair and silent feet padded out of the room into the regular oscillation of a ship at warp, and little more than his breathing. Timmoz walked to the replicator and tapped his fist gently near its panels. “You still can’t make decent Lhoatat, can you…” he muttered to the glossy black interface panel. It was so dark he could not even see his reflection staring back at him. A smile blossomed. “Computer: one Bolian tonic water. Tepid.” A chirp, a whirl, a coalescence of sprites formed a bubbly concoction. Timmoz picked it up and smirk, feeling its chill at his fingers. “That’s not exactly tepid, machine…” he muttered. He dropped himself into one of his host’s heirloom chairs he’d brought from Vega by way of Brazil. What’d kept him up? Or maybe he’d slept more than he realized; Timmoz was unsure as minutes put distance between this moment and the warm bed. Death was the answer. It always was. Orions smiled in the face of it and gave it willingly at the command of their Tahedrin. They inflicted it in sweet vengeance. They mourned their own, like any other. But it was death that woke him up or kept him from pure sleep. Which was it this time? The Zibalian who’d betrayed Vaina for a rare, deactivated A500? The Lissepian who’d gotten cold feet and backed out of a deal last minute on Free Cloud? The Flaxian who’d assassinated a rival and had to die themselves? No. This time they didn’t have a face. Timmoz didn’t know their names. All they had was a collective designation, all 300 of them. Kobayashi Maru. And they weren’t even real people. They were a theory. Irritated by that, Timmoz sipped his tonic water. Despite the claims by those blue-skinned beings, it did nothing for his nerves. Or maybe his nerves simply operated on a different plane, beyond the help of bubbly water from Bolarus IX’s volcanic vents. He sipped it again. Maybe it was because it was the first death, the only death that he’d done on his own. No blurring aggression from female pheromones. No orders by his Tahedrin. No Vaina. No agenda. Just a test. --- “Now, Cadet Timmox.” It’s Timmoz,” the verdant one stated, turning the Captain’s chair with a pivot of his foot to the lumpy little man. In an ill-fitting Operations uniform, the instructor peered over a pair of spectacles. Timmoz eyed them and their refraction of the Bridge’s overhead light. The Zakdorn tilted his head to peer at his PADD and then at the Orion boy in the chair. “Oh, so it is. Timm-oz, then,” the instructor stated. The Orion’s verdant eyelids blinked in a patient ennui. “You understand what you are about to do?” Timmoz nodded his head. “Good. Now, as you can see, your squadmates will be filling in the roles of the Reliant’s Bridge crew.” His chubby hand gestured at two women at Ops and Flight Control and then at the robust Bolian behind him at Tactical. “You re in command. This is your vessel. And the buck stops with you, so they say.” Timmoz eyed the man and his thinning blonde hair. He looked like a naked mole-rat that’d had some work done. But that was the Zakdorn race for you. “Understood,” Timmoz said with a smile pushing into one cheek. The Zakdorn misread it as cocky enthusiasm. Despite his uneven girth, the Zakdorn stepped away with remarkable grace; it reminded Timmoz of a badger-like creature native to Botchok. He raised his eyebrow. I doubt the Klingons would enjoy eating him, though, he mused. The stink of a burnt meat and hair memory filled his nose. Klingons were always coming to Botchok to hunt. Timmoz turned his chair to face the viewscreen and the backs of the heads of two of the three cadets with which he roomed: Alexia of Betazed at Ops, and Bailey Good, of Proxima at the CONN. “Alright. Your test begins now, Cadet Timmox.” The Zakdorn looked up at the overhead Bridge lighting while Timmoz tolerated another misstep of his name. How could one not understand the difference between Timmoz and Timmox? “Computer! Begin the simulation!” The mole-ratness of the Zakdorn instructor fizzled while ambient light lowered to the vague blues of night shift. Timmoz looked at the time: it was just past midnight. He sighed and pushed back into the chair, assuming his role. It was something he’d struggled with in what little preparation was allowed for the Kobayashi Maru. To distract himself, he went into his pocket, retrieved a band, and began to tie up his hair into a bun. It only served to accentuate a certain angular severity of features around his eyes. Twenty minutes passed, creeping toward twenty-one. What was this, a test of boredom? Patience? Orions could do patient. But Timmoz had somehow expected immediacy. In the wake of it, Alexia and Bailey Good had struck up a casual conversation about their impending vacation on Risa. Chal, the Bolian behind Timmoz, was running a weapons diagnostic over and over and over- so repetitive that Timmoz started counting the exact keystrokes and responding chirps of the computer. When an unexpected call stuttered from Alexia’s post, it was startling: the Betazoid looked at her panels, “Captain, we have a distress call coming in on emergency channels.” Timmoz edged to the end of his seat, just when he’d felt himself starting to drift. “On screen.” Blue-gray smoke obscured an older face, a Human: bearded, small eyes, like someone had shaved down the wrinkles and whirls of a Tellarite. There was fire behind him. He was wounded. Timmoz still felt shocked when he saw red of all colors oozing from skin. How… alien. “This is the neutronic fuel carrier ECS Kobayashi Maru! A chaotic ion anomaly has disabled us, and we are adrift! Our engines are offline, our structural integrity fields are failing, and we are losing life support! Request any friendly assistance!” Timmoz fidgeted, wanting to stand. He thought better when he could move- unless he was where Good was seated. That felt natural to him. “Open a channel.” He instructed over his shoulder. In his peripheral, a blue finger tapped a control. “You’re on, Captain,” the ordinarily sanguine Bolian stated. “This is Captain Timmoz of the Federation starship Reliant. What is your course and location?” The image on the screen had frozen, but a voice rang through, high and desperate. There was shouting- and screaming- in the background, “Reliant! Oh, thank God! Reliant! It’s good to hear your voice! Our coordinates at just outside Galorndon Core, bearing 244 mark 303 from there! Please assist us, Reliant! Can you assist us?!” “Saxa…” Timmoz murmured, “That’s on the Romulan side…” The test revealed itself. Timmoz’s brow flexed at his nose. He pulled at his bottom lip. He’d… never been plead at before, and it disquieted him, “Data on Kobayashi Maru, Alexia.” Alexia stabbed a key with a reach of her pinky. Data superimposed itself upon the frozen distress call, the face in a rictus of fear. The Betazoid Ops Officer read from it, “The ECS Kobayashi Maru is a Class III Neutronic Fuel Carrier. Total crew is normally 300.” She reported. Her black eyes turned with her body, peering at him- and it felt within him. “What are your orders, Captain?” Timmoz looked at the screen. “Its destination is…” Alexia didn’t turn back, “The Ravenna Colony.” Chal thrummed in his throat, “May I remind the Captain that Starfleet directives state that a vessel that is in range of rendering aid, must?” Bailey Good’s panel beeped, and in her more heart-on-sleeve voice, she spoke up, “Captain, they aren’t going to last much longer. Their structural integrity field is down to eleven percent. Their signal is automated only now.” “Captain,” the science officer turned, “My brother serves on the Kobayashi Maru. I just got a subspace call from him last week. The fuel they’re carrying to Ravenna? It’s to keep the colony going through their winter months.” Alexia added, “Ravenna can’t survive without the fuel, Sir. They’ll be forced to abandon their terraforming efforts.” Timmoz, through tense lips, breathed. “Continue on course.” Bailey’s chair whipped around, her face incredulous, “Captain?!” She smirked her, disbelief, “You… can’t be serious.” Alexia, however, had a deadpan expression. She glanced at Bailey’s emotional outburst, “No. He’s serious, Good.” Chal shuffled behind him, “Captain, we are required to render aid! Three hundred lives are at stake!” Timmoz couldn’t stop himself. He stood up in the face of three dissenting opinions, at least to try and gain a height advantage. But his slender body was hardly an imposing one. “I’ve made my decision. I won’t risk the 300 lives aboard this ship.” Bailey scowled, “Captain! We’re willing to take the risk! We have to act now! Their lives are in the balance! They need us! There’s no one else out here!” Timmoz felt his stomach tense, his fists wanting to ball. His Cluros-smile couldn’t save him this time. “Space is big and cold and heartless. I can’t save those people, but I can prevent starting a war.” “A war, what war?” Chal snarled. Timmoz could nearly feel his breath and the ammonia-pungency of Bolian biochemistry on it. “Chal, if we cross the border, the Free State will take it as an act of aggression. There is no Neutral Zone anymore. And it's largely under Tal Shiar control. If we move in, we’ve given them all the reason they need.” The corpulent Bolian swung around to go nose to nose with him. Timmoz felt the ridge on the Bolian’s face. It tapped at the Orion’s chin as he pugnaciously barked. “We MUST render aid! It’s in the regulations!” “Captain, you’re acting on a might-be, this is a real-life right now!” Bailey’s soft features, brown eyes, and pixie cut hair were bent with fraying emotion, “They’re dying!” “I won’t risk war and millions of lives for 300. Or the 300 aboard the Reliant.” Timmoz steeled his features and stared at Bailey, “Space is cold and dangerous, Good. We can’t save everyone.” He heard the whine of a phaser, and then the chilly metal caress of its black nozzle tapped at his cheek, “Stand down, Captain,” Chal growled. Timmoz turned and looked the phaser in the barrel. His insides went cold. Bailey pivoted and sat in her chair, “Setting course for the Kobayashi Maru. Maximum warp.” She said. Chal backed up and flexed his fingers against the grip of his phaser. “This is mutiny Chal,” Timmoz warned as he raised his hands. “Go to your quarters, Captain.” “End! Simulation!” The crisply clipped voice of the Zakdorn stated. The holodeck froze, and the badgery little man un-stooped himself with nervous energy in his fingers. “Well, Captain Timmoz. Your crew has mutinied against you and chosen to risk their lives to save the freighter. As to your fate,” the Zakdorn looked around at the faces that had changed from the intensity of the moment to vacant and waiting expressions, “Is anyone’s guess, young man. The Romulans may have destroyed you. This act may have prompted a new war. You may have saved lives or lost them all. You will never know.” Bailey leaned on the panel behind her while Chal shouldered his sidearm. “Crew is dismissed!” The Zakdorn shrieked. No eyes met Timmoz’s as they filed out of the room. Then it shifted to black- black and yellow lines hatching in right angles. --- Timmoz sighed. He sipped the Bolian tonic water and stared into the dark of his current paramour’s quarters. They were already dead; he tried to sell that to himself. As always, it was a questionable salve. All he could genuinely do was fall back on what he was raised to know within his Orion hearts: one must be ready to die, at any time, to uphold the lives of the Caj. Call it the Bilat Caju, or the Federation of Planets; it was just a scaled-up cousin. Timmoz stood up and dumped the tonic water into the reclamator. He sighed. He certainly had saved any lives, either. For having a typically Orion soul full of ennui, that fact remained an unacknowledged thorn. It was a karmic debt unpaid to the Federation’s simpering Good Samitaran tendencies. After all, they’d saved him, and that could have risked conflict with his Caj. And that was only one life, not three-hundred. 2020-05-23 16:00:36

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