Want to know who the WBWW winner is?

Way Back When Week

The judges have spoken! I’ve added up all the votes for each of our WBWW stories, and we have a winner! I want to first thank everyone who took part in WBWW, and whether you submitted your story or not, you’ve helped inspire others to do something just a little bit different, and that’s what life’s all about isn’t it?

I absolutely want to thank the judges who have read each story and had the difficult task of deciding which is their favourites. We chose judges from different roleplaying games and genres, for a broad range of tastes.

So here’s the top 3 winners. Can you give them an applause when you read each one please, it helps make it feel more exciting 😉

Third place – “1882”

In third place is a story from my own roleplaying game, Blue Dwarf. “1882” by Jack Tennant is the tale of Alex Solvay, a cowboy in the old west being told to Jack’s young roleplay character. Alex the cowboy gets himself into trouble and is helped by the barkeep and his daughter. Read the story here.

Second place – “Empty Skies Over Tokyo”

In a very close 2nd place is “Empty skies over Tokyo”, by Marissa Jeffrey from USS Victory, part of UFOP: Starbase 118 roleplaying group. This tells the story from the point of view of a military jet fighter, passed from generation to generation in the same family, introducing each new generation to the magic of flight. Read the story here.

First place…

Sabrina Pandora
Sabrina with her prize

The winning story is ‘Neath The Raptor’s Wing,  set in the Star Trek universe. Romulans discover an ancient ship drifting in space filled with genetically engineered Humans from Earth’s Eugenic wars. The story was written by Sabrina Pandora from the USS Victory, part of Independence Fleet roleplaying group (a different Victory to the one mentioned above – complicated!).

As well as our admiration, Sabrina also wins the special OngoingWorlds mug (pictured here) or shall we call it a trophy? Let’s call it a trophy! Well done Sabrina!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the winning story!

‘Neath The Raptor’s Wing

The Human war had ended… and the treaty had been signed, then the Neutral Zone established. Now began a cold war while the Star Empire sat and waited, biding its time, developing its technologies and dedicating itself to finding ways to overcome the determination of the humans and their burgeoning Federation… allied with the accursed Vulcans, the frozen Andorians and the swinish Tellarites. Now would secrecy be that much more critical as they refined their cloaking technology, as the Empire sought to find new ways to undermine and destroy their enemies, with any edge possible.

Serving as the chief science officer… the only science officer, in truth, on the Imperial Romulan Warbird Conquest, Lovok Charvon was awakened in the midst of his sleep cycle by a summons from the bridge. If there was one thing Commander Rikal was not known to be, it was patient. Thus he scrambled into his uniform and was present on the bridge in short order.

“It took you long enough,” growled the lady commander of the Conquest, not even deigning to turn around when he entered the bridge. “I require full scans of that derelict vessel out there, and I need to determine the probability of it being a Federation trap. I command it.”

‘I command it’ was one of the Commander’s favorite phrases, to stress importance… unfortunately she used it so often that it had become something of a joke amongst her underlings, though it was a very private joke. The meaning was never unclear… she wanted it done, and now, or she would eject you into space, disrupt you or personally snap your neck and advance your underling to do the task… all of which she had done this tour to members of the crew whom had displeased or failed her.

Thus one of the primary reasons that Lovok Charvon was now the only science officer aboard. While she demanded results, Commander Rikal was no scientist, and had no patience for explanations why things could not be done how and when she wanted them done. And thus Charvon hurried to perform his task.

“It appears to be a DY-500 earther ship, Commander… I am detecting lifesigns aboard, though faint… scanners show them to be human… oid?”

He knew without looking that there was a withering glance penetrating his skull. “Human or not, sublieutenant?”

Turning from his scanning station, he replied with as much confidence as he could muster. “Human, Commander… but with alterations, I suspect. Plus the lifesigns are so faint they are difficult to make any sort of clear determination. Perhaps more in depth scans, given time-”

“Is it dangerous?” the imperious commander cut him off. “Bombs, possibilities of engines going critical, plagues, onboard viruses or similar bioweapons, spying devices…?”

Obviously while she had little scientific acumen, Commander Rikal had a mindset that lent itself well to the devious and dangerous. Carvon contemplated his answer carefully before committing.

“I would need more in depth scans before making such a determination. Perhaps I could bring an exploratory force onboard the vessel to perform scans onsite to…”

“You are brave to volunteer, Sublieutenant Charvon. Beam over and make your scans alone, thus the only risk will be your own. Report your findings when you have them. I command it.” The smile that accompanied the words were a serpent’s smile, full of venom and malice. Lovok had gotten used to it by now… but for seven cycles now he had survived her wrath, so he would continue as he had been proceeding- slow and cautious. He had a wife and daughter back on Romulus, in Dartha.

While his bride was a sister of the Emperor Shiarkiek, that did not help him out here in the wilds of the Neutral Zone near the border of Federation space. Out here, as his cousin by marriage Ael t’Rllaillieu would have told him, he would make his own fortune, or die in the attempt.

Suited up for Extra Vehicular Activity and carrying a small generator to power systems that were lacking, Lovok stood on the transporter pad, and in a sparkling of green energies had his molecules disassembled and reassembled on the Earth vessel. He had chosen to be transported to the control room, to better ascertain the situation. “I am safely transported and beginning my research,” he reported, and received no reply… if he hadn’t checked in she would scold him for not doing so, but having checked in she affected an air of nonchalance. He hooked the generator into the ship’s systems… which were surprisingly dusty- and began powering up the ship’s computers while he ran scans off his portable science station scanner.

No known viruses or pathogens- that was a relief. The air was thin… not particularly breathable, but there, though there was no gravity, of course. As the registry came up, he kicked himself… this was not a DY 500, this was a DY 100, a much earlier model of the same design… ancient, to some degree. The Earthlings had not been using these for years… they were sublight only.

That would explain why it was out here as a cryoship… sleepers would survive the long trek from their homeworld and use no supplies. As he reviewed the records, he watched the images flicker past and realized what they meant… and then he moved to scan some of the biobays, to confirm his findings. He took the time to assemble his findings in a simple and comprehensive presentation, then called to be beamed back to the Conquest.

Decontaminated and uniformed once more, he brought his scanner to the bridge, and the awaiting scowl of Commander Rikal, only to lean in close and request a private audience. That got him a raised eyebrow, but she acceded, bringing him into her tactical planning quarter off the bridge.

“Well?” she said impatiently, hand hooked in her belt next to her disruptor. There was no doubt that she would kill him if he tried anything, but the scientist had no such intentions.

“This is the earther ship SS Tea Party… it departed what would become Federation space in the year of their calendar 1996. It has been out here, moving on inertia and occasional course corrections ever since. It currently has a crew complement of forty-seven humans… genetically augmented humans. They were exiled from their world as wars and clashes escalated, and they took to the stars to seek a new life elsewhere. Not all of them have survived- nearly half of the cryo-chambers have malfunctioned and the occupants died, and it appears micrometeor strikes ended some. But there are still forty-seven specimens onboard, Commander.”

The Romulan commander turned from her pacing and regarded him cooly. “Now tell me why I care for forty seven humans, Sublieutenant?”

Lovok smiled cautiously. “Forty-seven specimens of genetic alteration, Commander. Not humans, but superhumans… stronger than Klingons, more endurance than Andorians, smarter than… Vulcans… fast, deadly, with the ability to have potentialities hardwired into their very genetic structure. These are processes that could be reverse engineered, Commander… for the Star Empire.”

“The eyes narrowed and the Romulan commander regarded the scientist.”Can these alterations be performed on anyone?”

“I will need time to study the specimens, Commander… I can make no guarantees until then. But it is possible…”

Ten years later, and General Rikal had parleyed her find in space into a rather spectacular turn of good fortune. Using her wiles and guile and cunning, she was now the head of her own directorate within the Tal Shiar, and Lovok Charvon now labored in a rather extensive laboratory complex as he and the team assigned under him labored to unravel the mysteries and secrets of the earther Keniclius’ genetic wonders.

“The Augments were designed to be five times stronger, remarkably agile, and at least twice as intelligent as a normal human, resistant to sickness and with enhanced senses, possessing heart muscles twice as strong and lung efficiency fifty percent improved. They also had twice the average lifespan. Even their resistance to energy weapons was improved, as it took multiple shots with a phase pistol to stun one. We’ve extrapolated on a number of these possibilities as well, combining them with G’tur Daavik’s research into genetic pattern overlays to possibly be able to lay in skills and training and memories… as well as loyalties.” That last part he was most definitely unsure of, but he knew the General well after their long association… and given that she prized nothing higher than mindless obedience he knew it would be a selling point for her.

Currently she was leading dignitas from the Senate and the Tal Shiar on a tour of the labs, extolling the virtues of the project and proposing the next step- implementation.

“Why will the process not work on adult Rhiannasu, Doctor?” she asked. She knew the answer, but it was necessary to educate the politicians and the Tal Shiar.

“The genetic augmentations create an instability in the genetic code, which in adult test subjects has proven disastrous. While there is clear potential for aggression and violent behavior in those augmented as well as certain superiority complexes or other personality aberrations, resulting from their enhanced capabilities, the adults are unstable. Splicing in new overlays seems to literally unravel their DNA, causing their chromosomal patterns to deteriorate. While it was initially considered as a possibility for commandos who would ‘burn out’ during use, it has proven unworkable as a solution.”

“However, children seem to be adaptable… while embryonic is of course the best possible answer, we are seeing successes in simulations of using children, even as old as mid-puberty… their structures are still mutable, and we project that we may even gain results greater than anticipated. Of course, we have yet to go to live testing…”

“Until now. Thank you, Doctor…” General Rikal hustled the guests and dignitas along to the presentation she had prepared… this was the true focus of her exercise, and what she had been building for a number of years now. The Tal Shiar’s Subversive Directorate would be recruiting children and beginning the basic overlays to test what could be done with the new science, despite Charvan’s objections that it was not yet ready. But Rikal got what she wanted, period… and Lovok had learned a long time ago to pick and choose his battle with the ruthless Fin Rikal.

Seven years later, the program had made some strides. Embryonic reprogramming was producing interesting results, one of which was a prominent forehead ridge in the recipients that followed the arch of the traditional Romulan eyebrow. Increased intelligence varied… in some cases the children were only average, while occasionally they were producing autistic savants. The cutting edge of the research seemed there, but Rikal still wanted the overlays to occur, despite Lovok’s hesitance to do so. While General Rikal had noted his hesitation, she had brought his own granddaughter in for enrollment in the program, and used her as leverage to push him to branch out and take chances, lest she become the next test subject.

Then came the day they brought in the Vulcan child, and it all changed.

His granddaughter was the right age, and malleable mentally… she was not the intellect that her mother or forebears had been, and while Rikal had drilled her mercilessly to insure her loyalty to the Empire and to the Tal Shiar, the child could not keep up… she was clumsy and weak as well. But now Rikal had an opportunity to plant an agent on Vulcan with a perfect cover… and the only operative that fit the bill was young Scylla. He had tried to object, but he was overruled.

“This is for the good of the Empire, Doctor. Either serve your place or I will appoint someone who will,” came the answer, and Doctor Charvan knew he had no choice… but that did not mean that he did not have options. The fact that the child would be kept awake in order to sear the experience into her mind as a defense against mental intrusion would be torturous on him as well, but he would find the strength to persevere.

He performed the procedures; branching out far into his theoretical knowledge… he boosted the intelligence, forcibly forging new pathways while the child screamed. He forced himself to ignore the pleading and as he tightened sinews and forced muscles to double and rebouble upon themselves. Into those new neural pathways he jammed knowledge, of codes, of secrets and information that she might need, all while attempting to increase her hand-eye coordination and her physical agility. He deadened himself to the cries of agony and the begging of a child for someone, anyone to help her, to save her, and instead he did what he could to arm her for what lay ahead of her, even as he overlaid the personality of another child whose mind was now a blank slate onto that of his own granddaughter. He worked through the day and into the night, and even when all that the child could do was whimper, he continued his grisly work until it was done.

Six cycles later, when the Tal Shiar agents came for him and dragged him before General Rikal, he suspected that he knew why.

“You did your best work, Doctor. It is a marvel of Romulan science… but your notes on the procedure seem to be lacking a number of factors… if I did not know any better I would hazard a guess as to say that you created this one just to spite me, so that one day it might just come back around to turn on me.” General Rikal dropped the documentation on the desk.

“That would be foolish, short-sighted and against the greater welfare of the Star Empire, General. Of course I would do no such thing,” Lovok replied, knowing full well that his fate was already sealed.

“We will attempt to… convince you to share your secrets with the Empire, Doctor. But I suspect you will not yield them, and instead we shall simply end up breaking you. A pity… I have enjoyed our association and its mutual benefits,” the Tal Shiar general expressed, steepling her fingers and glaring at him smugly.

“You should not have made me operate on my own flesh and blood, and sacrifice it upon the altar of your ambition, Rikal. Someday you will know why, and I hope that she comes for you and destroys you, layer by layer, piece by piece as you forced me to destroy my own granddaughter,” he replied.

It would be many, many years, and quite unusual circumstances… but eventually, Lovok Charvan’s desire for vengeance would come to fruition, and the seeds of sedition that he planted would grow into something altogether unlike anything he could have possibly imagined… and all of it changed the course of an Empire, ‘neath the Raptor’s wing.

Written by Sabrina Pandora

Published by

David Ball

David is a web developer, and the creator of OngoingWorlds