Archive for January, 2013

Dear fellow lovers of the written word,

some of you might think, that online interactive, text-based role-playing is something for nerdy kids.

Au contraire!

Maybe it was ten years ago. Today it is an art form of writing and it can be highly enjoyable and a very good training for professional writers!

Let me first explain what it is, for those of us who haven’t spent most of their lives online.

Online role-playing is available for many different fantasy worlds, which are mostly based on famous TV shows or movies. As an example I will take one that is based on Star Trek, an epic TV show that 99% of all people have seen at one point in their lives.

Anybody can join this text-based role-playing game. The first thing you do is to create a character (sound familiar?). The only condition is that the character traits fit into the Star Trek Universe, so you could make a Vulcan character, but not an Ewok, because that’s from the Star Wars Universe.
You will then be placed as a crew member on a starship (one coherent role-playing unit within the game), with the entry rank of “Ensign”. On this ship, you have all the other characters too (Captain, First Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Engineer and so on) and each of them is played by another member of the RPG (RolePlayingGame) community.
Each ship (or role-playing area) has a Gamemaster. He or she guides the the ship and its crew through a specific mission (the equivalent of one TV episode).

So for example, the GM might write:
‘The bridge crew saw a Romulan warship de-cloak right in front of them.’
Then it is up to the players whose characters are on the bridge, to react to this. If you were playing the Captain, you would respond by writing for example

‘John jumped up from his chair and shouted “Raise shields, go to red alert.”’
If you participate in this game on a regular basis and write well, your character will advance in rank. Once you are a Captain, you can get your own ship and you can choose your own crew. But for writers, the job of a Gamemaster is much more alluring. Think about it!

You constantly get to create new characters if you wish to interact with the crew during a mission – very good training!

Planning an episode for the crew of your ship is almost like planning a book. Running an interactive episode is even more challenging, because you have to stay very flexible and react on the reactions of your crew. The job of a GM is not to shine him-/herself, but to write a great story that challenges each player to respond with more depth, feeling and quality that make them shine! You are the equivalent of an entertainer running a show on TV, only what you do is much more demanding.

You will have to train your skill to improvise and re-write your story-arc as it develops. At the same time, this is a very creative and inspirational process, because the inspiration goes both ways. You will find that the reactions of your players inspire you and make you do things in writing that you have never even thought of before!
The same happens when you play a character of course, but as a Gamemaster it is happening on a much larger scale. I can not stress enough how much you can learn by writing interactively!
You learn new ways to use language. Those games have players from all over the world. American, English, Irish, Canadian, Australian and even non-native English speakers whose English is good enough to participate. They will teach you expressions you have never even heard and enrich your vocabulary greatly.
You gain like-minded friends. Yes, it is possible, even on the web. If you have interactively written with some people for a long time, you get to know them very well. Besides, most of those online RPGs have their own community sites, where people meet up to chat. It is easy to become part of them, because everybody knows one trait you all share: In this case the love for Star Trek.

In short – it is the perfect hobby & enjoyable training for writers!
You get to immerse yourself into an alternate world that you like/love, you get to create deep, believable characters, you get to train your spontaneous writing skill and you learn a lot from those who interact with you in writing. Contrary to common belief, you do not need to be online at the same time, nor do you interact via email. This wouldn’t work for a community who has a large number of members all over the world.

My personal experience

Interactive, text-based writing has changed my life, by giving me the courage to go public with my writing and get published!
I have learned a lot through it and I have made real friends in six different countries, two of which I have already met in person.

After a long day of writing for my next novel, I am still looking forward to go online and interact with my characters in my RPG. It is a different kind of writing and I feel it to be very relaxing and fun. At the same time, it can become incredibly intense and deep, because you know the other character is not just another part of your own mind, but a real person. Some of the threads I have participated in or read truly reach the “Tolkien level”.
I have been a Gamemaster in my RPG for many years now, but I’ve just recently read my first book for authors and their “tools of the trade”, the “How to..”.
It read like a description of what I have been doing in all those years as GM! But then of course I had to train to become a GM too. I did a course and the exam. All this is offered at no charge by my RPG.

If you would like to know more about this great hobby, feel free to comment on this post.
If you are indeed a Trekkie like me, this is your game: www.star-fleet.com

All yours
Julia B. Kingsley

books that changed my life

I read this when I was around 27 years old and it caused a radical change in the way I thought and in my quality of life.

I have always been a thinker. When I was a child and later a teenager, I spent a lot of time alone for various reasons and I spent this time either reading or thinking. Even today I’m one of those people, who sometimes spends hours lost in thought, something that is simply inconceivable to some of my friends, but I quite enjoy it.

The problem I had back then though, is that I spent 90% of my thinking time either in the past or in the future. I thought for example about past situations and how I could have mastered them better, what I could have said or done. Back then I was rather introverted and not well equipped to deal with people my age, so I always was able to think of much better ways that I could have behaved. Of course that constantly dampened my self-confidence, which made the overall situation worse, not better.

Alternatively I thought about the future and what I would do differently/better in that future. I thought about my dreams and how to reach them and what could possibly happen. For important events I had a plan A, B, C and D! I’d say it’s rather normal for many Germans to have a plan B, but C and D is really obsessing. When things took a different turn, that I had not pre-calculated, I was mostly unable to adjust.

Then I read this book! I realised that I was living in the past and in the future, but rarely in the Now. I tried the exercises in this book that help you stay in the Now. They were extremely difficult for me at first. But I kept at it and my life transformed. I changed my job, I became much more extroverted, I was suddenly able to react spontaneously and to improvise, to jump into cold water. It was like somebody had lifted an enormous weight from me, truly liberating.
I don’t remember who it was who said it, but many wise people have voiced this concept: “You are what you think you are.”
You build your Universe, the way you perceive the world with your thoughts and if theses thoughts are rarely in the Now, in a way you do not really live, because life is NOW!

In my opinion it is secondary if you gain “enlightenment” (a term very misunderstood and abused nowadays) or not. But to discover what life has to offer in this moment is a great experience, especially for people who tend to “fuss”  😉

PS: Eckhart Tolle is also an author who wrote books in English and in German, only he did it the other way around. His first books were written in English and then he switched back to German. However they all got translated of course.

The Meaning of Life

Posted: January 12, 2013 in Freethought

I do believe I found the meaning of life this morning after waking up, while I was still lying in bed and watching the sun rise. Although I do believe in certain spiritual concepts, I also think that some of them obscure things more than they reveal. I also heartily dislike extremes, because I believe they are harmful in whichever way they manifest.
So people who, for example, denounce every patriarchal religion and every male god and turn to a wholly maternal religion and the divine feminine, did not really get any further in their development in my opinion. They just turned the coin around, but they didn´t get rid of the need for money!
Hence, I try not to do that. And while it has been said very often in the last decade that using the right half of your brain is so much better, and that basically all of the bad things that happen are due to the fact that people only use the left half of the brain, I believe that you need to use both in the same measure if you want to really find a solid solution to something.

So you will have to bear with me for a while, if you want to find out what the meaning of life is, because first of all, we have to lay a common ground by looking at some scientifically acknowledged definitions.

Definitions:

1. Definition of an “organism” (source: Wikipedia)
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system (such as animal, fungus, micro-organism, or plant). In at least some form, all types of organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homeostasis as a stable whole.

2. Definition of “evolution” (source: Wikipedia)
Evolution is the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.

3. Definition of “homeostasis” (source: Wikipedia)
Homeostasis (from Greek: ὅμοιος, “hómoios”, “similar”,[1] and στάσις, stásis, “standing still”[2]) is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, relatively constant condition of properties such as temperature or pH.

Now, in order for you to gain insight from this article, you have to concur with, or at least consider open-mindedly a few generally accepted assumptions which are, however, not fully scientifically proven. If you can not do this, you can stop reading now and do something more useful.

Generally accepted assumptions:

1. How does this “change” (=>; evolution) in the inherited characteristics of biological populations (=>; organisms)” happen?
It happens when a organism encounters a chaotic element that threatens to destroy it.
Example: The flying fish (source: Wikipedia Flying_fish). In this example the chaotic element could have been the fact that the fish didn´t have enough food for some reason and were facing extinction, so they evolved into flying fish to add flies and other airborne organisms to their menu. Of course there is no proof of that, because it happened about 240 million years ago. But there was undoubtedly a reason for them to evolve in that way.

2. Evolution is not just a theory, it is reality and the reason why human beings have evolved to this stage.

3. The planet Earth is a living organism as per definition no. 1 above (which we will examine more closely below).

The meaning of (human) life:

It starts with the third generally accepted assumption. Without doubt, the Earth responds to stimuli, I think we can all agree on that. If you need an example, watch the news at any given time anywhere on the world!
It can maintain homeostasis as a stable whole (see definition No. 3 above).
It gets a bit more wobbly with reproduction. Of course the Earth doesn´t give birth to little baby worlds… or does it? Do we know this? How long is the pregnancy? Say, the Earth is pregnant for a few billion years and its pregnancy works different than ours, just like a sea horse has a different way to reproduce than a horse.
Can we really make judgement about it? I leave that up to you to ponder.

Now, what about growth and development?
This is where the dog bites its own tail and it is the reason I have listed it under “Generally accepted assumptions”, no. 3!
So let us assume, that we human beings are an integral part of the living organism Earth. Just like the bacteria (bacteria are micro-organisms by itself) in our stomachs are part of our own organisms and help us digest better. What would our use be for the organism Earth, if not growth and development?

At that point my cat joined me in my bed and wanted to be petted. My cat has its very own mind about when it wants to be petted and when not, so I asked myself:
“But why give us free will then? Why not make us similar to the healthy bacteria in our bellies, designed to do one thing only, which is to be born/grow/die as human beings, so that through us and our actions, planet Earth could live healthy and happy. It would be so easy! We would all just strive to live ecologically, we would all recycle, we would all pursue only what is best for us, for those around us and for the planet. There would be no destruction, no wars, only the occasional natural catastrophe to regulate our expansion and maintain a healthy cycle of life in co-existence with the animal world. In fact, that sounds a lot like the Christian concept of “Paradise”.

The answer is of course, because there would be no development, and in extension, no evolution (see “Generally accepted assumption no.1 above). The planet could exist quite happily without us, but then it wouldn´t be – as per definition – a living organism! Our free will introduces the chaotic element that the organism Earth – of which we are part of – needs, in order to not only be a live organism, but to evolve!

So what is it, that makes a cell in our body useful? What is it that makes a certain kind of bacteria in our body healthy for us? The answer is again simple: If that micro-organism fulfils its full potential and does what it was designed to do!
We, as human beings, have the free will to decide whether we choose to fulfil our potential and do what we were designed to do, or do something else. Something that earns more money for example, or something that we`ve seen others do, or something our parents or our teachers told us to do, or something we just happened to do and now are too lazy to discontinue….

If we use our free will to decide, that we do not pursue fulfilling our potential (or even finding out what it is), then we are not part of the organism Earth, we may even become a chaotic element. But the chaotic elements are crucial for the evolution of the whole organism.

I know better than you might think, that the crux in this is to find out what it is, that fulfils your unique potential and that is what you were designed to do*. I also know that every human being can find it, if they continue to pursue this knowledge!

Once you have found it, there is no stopping you! Once you work to fulfil your potential, everything around you will come to your aid, because the organism Earth recognises another cell that does what it is supposed to do and will automatically link you in with the whole and everything will work together.
This is one of the most amazing things, if not the most amazing thing that can happen to a human being and I believe it is the only way to attain complete, true happiness.
If you would like to know how this is done, then I recommend the book “The Magic” from Rhonda Byrne, bestselling author of “The Secret”.

The reason we exist as human beings, is because the organism Earth needs us for its growth and development which, in turn, makes it a life organism. And it needs us to have a free will in order to evolve, which also defines a life organism.

The meaning of life is therefore defined by the last word: Meaning of LIFE! It is no big mystery and you don´t need a religion or spiritual enlightenment or a guru in order to understand it. All you need is yourself and your free will to fulfil your potential.

All yours
Julia

Note: * I wrote about that in another of my blog posts (“What it means to be a Wolf”)

Disclaimer:
I don not presume to think, that there is only one meaning to life, nor that I am the first one who has come to this or a similar conclusion. In fact I know that there have been many great thinkers and philosophers who have voiced this idea in many different ways. Wolfgang van Beethoven, Rhonda Byrne (“The Secret”), Vincent Van Gogh and uncountable others. But I did really think of this specific way to explain it to myself this morning, while I was still lying in bed, and I used my own words to explain it. I know that every person on this wonderful Earth has a different way of understanding and perceiving things, therefore I believe that the more definitions of this concept exist, the more people will understand it and maybe profit from this understanding a little bit in their own, individual way. That is my only goal.

The new website is online!

Posted: January 8, 2013 in News!

Due to the fast growth of fans and feedback that I get, it has become necessary to launch a new website sooner rather than later. It is online since the 8th of January 2013 and I hope you like it.

julia-b-kingsley-website-ne

What does it mean to be a wolf?

Posted: January 8, 2013 in Freethought

In fact it’s nothing that should be unusual. It simply means to fight for your own heart and its freedom continuously until you die.

When you are young, you feel like you can do anything, reach anything, be anything. Later, most people make the mistake and believe others, when they say that that was a teenage folly. It is not!

You can do anything, you can reach anything, you can be anything, but you have to fight for it. The older you get, the more you are enveloped by the so called grown up world, the more you have to fight for it. Bleed for it. Sacrifice for it. Endure pain for it. And just never give up.

The key is to find out what it is that gives you wings. Who you are, what you can do best, what you want to reach. That is the hardest bit. And yet it is so simple.

Just simply do the things that make you feel free and joyful as often as you can (even if you have to earn money in between).
And with patience, at one point in time, a pattern will emerge from them. You can’t force this, it just happens if you keep an open mind. And that pattern will reveal to you who you are, what defines you most, how you can unfold your full potential.

Then you don’t think about who you are anymore, you simply are, and it fills your heart with joy. Don’t censor your thoughts, don’t belittle your wishes, let nobody tell you how you should be and never ever give up on your dreams, because the moment you do, you’ve lost every chance to spot them when the chance to make them reality passes you by!

Fight for the freedom of your thoughts, fight for the free expression of your creativity, fight for the freedom to express yourself, fight to expand your horizon, to learn new things, to try out different ways, to taste strange tastes. Fight for freedom when- and wherever it gets cut down by those who have given up the fight.

And you can be absolutely sure that one day you will be rewarded for your fight in ways you can`t even imagine now. In ways that you have only just imagined faintly in your dreams.

Fight for freedom in all its many facets. Every decision is always up to you and never to anybody else, no matter what people do to put the responsibility of their decisions on others. It is always up to you, even if it is sometimes unimaginably hard.

It’s all in your hand and you have to decide what you do with the time that is given to you on this Earth. (Yes, that`s from Tolkien)
Take responsibility, fight for freedom and never give up on your dreams.That’s what it means to be a wolf.

Wagner didn’t listen when he was told he couldn’t compose a complete opera at the age of 20. Albert Einstein didn’t give a damn when his colleagues at work told him he was crazy to fancy himself a physicist. J.K. Rowling didn’t let people pull her down when she wrote her worldwide bestseller. Anja, who lived down the road from me, didn’t believe her husband, when he told her she couldn’t work as a fitness instructor with her figure.

There are so many people who didn’t give up, didn’t give in, who kept fighting against all odds for what they believed in, even if it was “only” their belief in themselves. And that set them free. You have it in your hands.

PS: Have I mentioned patience? 🙂

Sept. 2012 ~ When I started writing “The Fenris Clan”

Revelation

Posted: January 8, 2013 in Short Stories - for free!

(This is an award winning fan fiction short story, based in the Star Trek Universe. But you need no Star Trek background in order to enjoy it)

Beth loved it when she managed to make Dr. Barney Bridgewater laugh. “No you wouldn’t.” he chuckled, while casting hungry glances at the waiter with his icy blues. The lounge was packed and they had waited some time for their food now. “Sure.” she said a bit louder, so that he could hear her tiny voice above the crowd. “Ferengi are allergic to that alloy. Only one touch and the allergic reaction would render them unconscious.”

Barney shook his head while the waiter finally brought their food. “I’d still go for the ultra-high tone. It hurts their ears and they wouldn’t be able to do anything anymore. Your solution could actually kill them, depending on how strong the allergic reaction would be.” he said, and started to dig into his food with a vengance.

Oh yes, Ensign Barney was known for that, and his slightly rounded belly was a testament to his big appetite. Beth still liked him. A lot. He was the only officer on board who didn’t make her feel insignificant. No, that wasn’t fair. In her conversations with the Counselor, they had worked out
that this was only her perception. She wasn’t an insignificant Science Ensign who only took up space on the USS Genesis. Was she?

“Beth. Beth, focus!” Barney said kindly in between bites. “Your food awaits you, and it’s your turn now.”

She gladly let go of the gloomy thoughts and started to cut a bite from her steak, thinking. After her second bite she said “Ok, got it. How would you defend against Romulans.” she asked him and brushed a strand of her flimsy blond hair out of her face, so she wouldn’t accidentially eat it
on top of her steak. He smiled whilst chewing.

“Oooohhh, that’s too easy. I’d inject one with the Romulan virintix virus. Spreads through touch and within 3 hours they would have one coughing fit after the other, so fierce that they wouldn’t be able to aim a phaser.” he said proudly, shoving another fork heaped with food into his mouth. He tried to grin, but he really couldn’t, stuffed as he was.

Beth rolled her mouse grey eyes. “That’s a very flawed plan Barney. For one thing, Romulans don’t touch each other overly much. Second, show me how you would get a needle even close to a Romulan, and third,  within those three hours they can kill all the crew, have something to eat
and take a nap.” she shook her head while taking another bite.

“No, again the Science solution is much more suitable. Flood the deck they are on with suorin gas. A 15% mix into our air is sufficient, and it affects only Romulans and Vulcans. And we don’t have a full blood Vulcan on board.” she finished, excited about the fact that she beat him. Didn’t happen all that often in their sci vs med verbal sparring games. He was much smarter than her.

Barney stopped eating and stared at her. That made her rather uncomfortable, his eyes were…  well, they were really handsome.
“Beth, I had no idea you were so fierce. Again, that will kill all Romulans within seconds, first it will clog up their breathing and paralize their muscles, then they will slowly suffocate under great pain and die.”

Beth squirmed under his stare. “Well, yes, but I couldn’t think of another science solution. And it’s not like I would ever do such a horrible thing in reality, it’s just a game.” she said lamely.
He wanted to say something else, when suddenly the lunch crowd in the lounge hushed. Beth turned around and saw Captain Patricia Lewis and the first officer Lt. Cmdr. King stride towards their table.

Beth practically shrunk in on herself, trying very hard not to get noticed and wanting to disappear entirely. But they only walked by, towards a free table, immersed in a conversation. And when they passed, Barney and her could hear a bit of it.

“It will be hard to get each one on that Training Patricia, we have a lot of junior officers on board.” Lt. Cmdr. King said in his deep deep voice.
“Well I’m sure you find a way to shift around the departmental plans so that it’ll work. I want every junior officer in that training, it’s important, also for the Ensigns. I’m sure if you talk to….” and then Captain Lewis was out of earshot again.
Beth relaxed and turned around to see Barney grinning wildly at her. “See? They do give a damn about us.” Beth shrugged. She didn’t want to get into that argument again with him. Ensigns were only Ensigns, some of them for a loooong time, like her.

A long while later they had finished their meal and the lounge had emptied out. She sighed happily. “That was nice. When does your next shift start? 0100 in the night again?” He opened his mouth to answer her, when his com badge went off.

=^= Dr. Brigewater, this is nurse Lily. The brige has called for emergency medical aid, and you are the only Doctor available currently. =^= her voice was shaky.

Barney’s eyes went wide as saucers. =^= On my way Lily. =^= he said and stormed off, throwing over his chair.

“Barney…” Beth called, but he was already out of the door. Her eyes fell on his personal med kit that stood below the table and her shoulders dropped.

“Oh no…” she said to herself. “…he’s forcing me to go to the bridge!”
She knew it had not been intentional. Barney was a bit scatterbrained at times, like many super smart people. She took the med kit and started running reluctantly, while mentally flinging all the swear words at Barney that she could think of. Chances were high, that by the time she got there, he was already finished.

She knew he carried a dermal regenerator with him at all times, just like she did her environmental remote control. After all she was the ‘weather girl’ as other Ensigns called her behind her back, just because her main task was to tend the ship’s environmental controls. She would stand there on the bridge with his med kit and look like an idiot. Well, at least she had gotten used to that over the years.

Shortly before the turbolift doors opened to reveal the bridge, she forced a smile onto her face. A moderate one, not too much, not too few, and she straigthened up her tiny frame, trying to look like Captain Lewis had done earlier in the lounge. That made her smile for real. Whom was she
kidding! The mere thought was plainly absurd.

The turbolift doors opened and she marched onto the bridge  purposefully, then she stopped short and her jaw dropped in stark horror.

Her brain did the registering of the scene in front of her on its own volition while she was still in shock, her heart pumping like it intended to jump out of her mouth any second now.
The Chief of Security was lying closest to her, behind the tactical station, bleeding out of his half open mouth. He didn’t move, his eyes were closed, but his chest was moving. Next to him stood a Romulan, pointing a disruptor at him.

In front of the Captain’s chair lay the Chief Engineer, also unconscious, despite him being an Android. A fibre cable stuck out of a panel of his neck and ended in a blinking, box-like device that another Romulan was holding.

The Captain crouched in her chair, bent over, clutching her belly and Barney was kneeling in front of her, apparently treating her with his dermal regenerator. Beth couldn’t see the Captain’s face, but in Barney’s face she saw cold fear. Two other Romulans were pointing their disruptors at the Captain and Barney.

And finally, Lt. Cmdr. King was there, in front of the view screen, kneeling on the floor. He had one blood soaked hand on his left shoulder, where a phaser blast had burnt away his uniform and most of his skin. His other hand was behind his head, because two more Romulans were
standing behind him, their phasers trimmed on his head. It was eerily silent, except for the Captain’s laboured breathing.
And the view screen… showed a Romulan ship. But something was wrong about those Romulans. They didn’t wear Romulan uniforms…

All Romulans looked up at her, as did Barney and the First Officer. But the Romulans lost interests just as quickly when they saw her, only the one closest to her kept an eye on her. Which was just as well, because she had been about to faint. Everything inside her told her to turn around and run, run, run, when Barney’s voice cut through her terror.

“Beth, thank god. I need that med kit now.” he said in a thight voice she had never heard before.
She froze, looking at the Romulan next to her… and at his disruptor. Such a horrible, horrible weapon. She tried to move, but couldn’t. Not one muscle in her body reacted to her mental command to start walking.

The Romulan looked her up and down shortly, but his disruptor stayed trimmed on the Chief. Then he gave her an almost bored nod and looked at the unconscious Chief again. And amazingly, that stung her. So the unconscious Security Chief was more threatening than her? Go figure. Funnily, the realisation that they saw her as the insignigicant no threat Ensign she was, gave her command again over her muscles and she slowly, slowly walked down to Barney and the Captain.

Since she would pass the First Officer on her long, long way down, she looked at him, because he was who he was, he was so strong, such a great fighter and protector… at least that’s how she had always seen him. But he would have no chance to fight.
The two Romuans pointing their phasers at the back of his head didn’t even blink while watching his every move. And still… still he looked at her with his green eyes that didn’t even hint at the fact that the burnt tissue of his shoulder had to hurt him the hell of a lot. No, he didn’t flinch.
He… he gave her a short, encouraging smile, as if he knew that secretly, she had been hoping for just that.

And in that second he wasn’t Lt. Cmdr. Julien King, First Officer of the USS Genesis anymore. He was just another Starfleet Officer… like her, Beth realised. Trapped in a life-threatening situation.

She turned towards the Captain and Barney. Now that she stood in front of them, she could see Captain Lewis’ wound. It was huge, and deep, and Captain Lewis covered it with her bloodied hands, not because it hurt so much, although it surely did, but because she wanted everything
that belonged inside her stomac to stay where it was supposed to be.

Beth dropped to her knees next to Barney and in front of the Captain, partly to give him his med kit, and partly because her knees just gave out at the sight.

Behind her a short dialogue ensued between two Romulans, but she didn’t hear the words. She couldn’t look away from the horrible wound and the profusely sweating Barney, who tried frantically to mend it. But he wouldn’t succeed, she realised. And that knowledge stood in his
eyes as clear as his desperation. Wounds like this had to be treated under a special biobed within minutes after the injury.

The Captain would die, and maybe also the Chief of Security. And
maybe…. maybe all of them. She clenched her jaws shut to swallow down the scream that had built up in her throat. This couldn’t be happening. But it had to be reality, because even her wildest phantasy couldn’t produce a nightmare like this.

Slowly, very slowly she ripped her eyes from the wound and looked around. Lt. Cmdr. King was looking at one of his guards with loathing in his eyes and nobody, absolutely nobody payed any attention to her.
The two Romulans guarding the Captain monitored Barney’s every move silently, but they stood to the far side of the Captain. She gulped and looked again at the First Officer.
Just another Starfleet Officer…like her!

She knew that one wrong move would mean that her parents never even got any remains of her to bury. Her hands were shaking badly as she slowly, slowly pulled the environmental remote control out of her pocket while slumping a bit forward in her kneeling position in front of the
Captain, whose body shielded the view of the two Romulan guards. However Captain Lewis was too much in pain to notice what Beth did.

In her head she heard her own voice as she slowly pressed the buttons, the device partly covered between her thighs ‘….and it’s not like I would ever do such a horrible thing in reality….’
Now, what seemed like a lifetime later, those words seemed hollow. Meaningless. Insignificant against the greater truth that she realised in its entirety just only now. A truth that gave her the strength she needed.

As she pressed the final button, she knew that this simple act would change her forever. And she knew she was not insignifcant. She was, after all, a Starfleet Officer, and it didn’t matter a bit how many pips* adorned her collar.

The suorin gas didn’t have a particular smell. But she knew the moment when it streamed in, because all the Romulans went stiff, their eyes bulging out of the sockets. They dropped their weapons and grabbed their throats, already in the process of suffocating. Their mouths stood
open, but no sound came out and now the terror she had felt was in their eyes.

She stood up slowly, while Lt. Cmdr. King darted from one to the next, picking up their weapons and calling Security. One Romulan after the other started to crumble, dead. And to her own surprise she didn’t feel remorse.

Shortly before Dr. Bridgewater had him, Captain Lewis and the
Chief of Security beamed directly to sickbay, he gave her a short look that was full of amazement and admiration. He knew.

Well, she thought, while slowly walking to the science station in order to inform her department about the reason for her actions, that was a victory in their little verbal sparring game that they wouldn’t forget easily.

~ The end ~

(Winner of the 2012 Short Story Contest of http://www.Star-fleet.com – the best Star Trek online roleplaying game on the net!)

PS: Yes, I’m a nerd. There.

Seven years ago, we went on a holiday in Southern France. On the foothills of the Pyrenees is a region called the Laguedoc, a region ripe with history and mythology. Many tall hills are topped with the ruins of Templar and Cathar castles, the little old villages are very beautiful and the landscape invites you to go on a hike, a boat tour down the river Aude or a climb up some cliff face.

We went for such a hike, going up a little footpath through a forest close to a village called Rennes-les-Bains.
It was hard at times to keep following the tiny path, since it was overgrown with beautiful little yellow flowers and fern.
We came to a small clearing with a natural well that came out of the rock and there was a big slap of stone formed somewhat like an armchair. The ground around it was covered with grass and small tree sprouts and the light was slanting into the clearing, making it appear truly beautiful and magical. Brushing away the dirt and bird droppings from it, we sat down on the stone armchair and made a few lovely pictures, enjoying the serene feeling of the clearing and the wild natural beauty of it. Later we were told that it is called the Devil`s armchair by the locals, a very usual name for old stone structures. Where we live in Bavaria, we have a stone structure called the Devil`s table.

Two years later we went there again and re-visited the same place. This time, the path was much more visible and when we came to the clearing, the little well had a little basin around it, made with mortar in straight lines.
The earth around the Devil`s armchair was not grassy anymore, but bare and there were footprints everywhere. We met a man there who took pictures from the armchair and the well and was scribbling into a little notebook.

The next year, the little path was no longer so little and when we came up to the clearing, the well had a rather lovely bouquet of flowers around its mouth. We came to the armchair which looked very clean indeed, but we didn`t believe our eyes when we saw, that somebody had carved symbols into it! That really shocked us and later we were informed, that the believe of the free living spirits that had made their caravan home in Rennes-les-Bains – some call them Hippies – was that it was not the Devils`s armchair, but the throne of Isis. How Isis came to that particular region in France, we had no clue, and weren`t really interested that much either, we were just sad, that somebody had changed the original state of the stone armchair.

The next year there were published books explaining just how Isis had happened to be in that particular region in France, which by then somehow failed to surprise us. When we went up to the armchair this time, the path was rather broad now, well used and the beautiful tiny yellow flowers were gone. When we came to the clearing, we saw that it had gained in radius considerably and the tree saplings and the undergrowth, even some of the smaller trees at the perimeter were gone.
There was a group of Hippies sitting in a circle around the armchair and the well now featured a used handkerchief aside to the floral adornments. The hippies had placed incense on the seat of the chair and several flowers and they were in some kind of trance chanting a mantra, so we got no chance to actually sit down on it. We didn`t even take any pictures, because it was impossible to take one without any Hippies in it. We saw though, that the carved markings in the stone were even better to make out from a distance than the year before, so somebody must have carved them deeper. And we were sure that by now, the chanting Hippies believed those carvings to have been there for ages past.

The next year we didn`t really feel like going up there again, half afraid of what we would see this time. By now there were stories of Mary Magdalene`s body and Jesus body having been hidden or even found in that region and there were all sorts of connections with the armchair, but we weren`t really so interested in it anymore that we would have delved deeper into it. We were forcefully informed though, that the new hype was about UFOs landing on a close-by mountain top at the end of the world on the 21st of December 2012, and we were only happy for the Devil`s armchair that it was not this hill that the UFOs were allegedly going to land. Who knows, maybe then it would have experienced another re-naming to Seat of the Aliens and would have suffered even more symbol carving.
But in the end we did decide to go up there and this time, there was a wooden handrail erected on the way up the broad path, which had been made more secure by pebbles, chasing away the last remaining fern. Otherwise nothing much had changed to the year before, thankfully. Apparently the fact that it didn`t have the shape of an alien/UFO had saved the poor stone slab`s “life”.

But still, gone forever was its original state, the little yellow flowers and the fern, the grass on the ground, the natural outlet of the well and the peaceful, untouched atmosphere. And in a way that is the story of the whole area. It is still one of the most beautiful places I`ve ever seen, but its original wild and simple beauty is gone. And it didn`t need any stories or hypes in order to be beautiful. It did that all by itself.

But people believe what they want to believe and in order to make it more believable, they will go to any, and I mean any lengths. And if a slab of stone is more likely to be the throne of Isis with some symbols carved into it, than that`s what they`ll do, even if they are thereby destroying that which made it special in the first place, which is its natural beauty and mystery, and the fact that everybody who saw it, could think of his or her own theory how it came to be like this. The fact that we will simply never know, why there is a slab of stone that has the form of a comfy armchair.

Sept. 2012, France ~ Published in the Sauniere Society Journal, issue 01/3013