Planet of the Cheaters
Since the previous thread was wiped out... this is a Star Fleet Battles (and, by extension, Starfleet Command) fan fiction.
To understand the whole book better, you have to understand a couple of things:
Lyran Starfleet: The military of the Lyran Star Empire (often shortened to Starfleet among Lyrans and the subject species of the Lyrans) and most of the divisions are the same as those of the Federation Starfleet counterparts.
Lyran Star Empire: For those who played SFC1/2 you should know what the LSE is
Lyran Democratic Republic: A group that splintered from the LSE in the late 23rd century, in the TNG era it is much larger - but still plagued with similar problems as compared to the LSE.
Chapter 1: First Grade
June 9th, 2365. My mother, a stand-up comic, has trained me to cheat in exams, with the complicity of my father, an emergency medic. My mother could con my father into giving him a doctor's note, given that he isn't busy curing patients in the emergency room, while I undertook my cheating training. But my mother acknowledges that training people to cheat at this young an age has its limits. Sometimes I can be forgetful, but since I'm more or less above the average, my parents forgive me. The night before the first final exam arrives, I have a conversation with my mother and my brother, as my father arrives late.
Brianna: Mom! You didn't have to tell me how to cheat! Before I started cheating I was already good.
Ariane: Honey, I only want you to be the best in class. I want you to go to the best universities later in your life.
Brianna: I want to be a space ranger!
Ariane: The space rangers are too dangerous for you, my daughter. Besides, all the slots we could have in the space rangers (read: Lyran Starfleet) are those in Starfleet Medical.
Brianna: I don't want to be a doctor!
Samuel: Shove it!
Ariane: Brianna! Here's the thing for you: if you want to prove to the rest of the world how well you can cheat in exams, I have a surprise for you!
Brianna: What is it?
Ariane: To make the life of your father easier as he is tired of being forced to hand you doctor's notes after exams, I decided that you try to become a chartered cheater.
Brianna: What is a "cheating charter"?
Ariane: It's basically a license to cheat in class.
Ricard returns from the hospital, where he had to cure a broken leg in the trauma ward. As far as the trauma ward goes, it was little more than a routine broken leg surgery. Well, Ricard isn't much of a father for me or for Samuel, but I'm certain that he encourages me more into making it into the "space rangers" than my mother does. After all, he knows a bit how a space ranger do.
Ricard: You have to understand, my daughter, that a cheating charter is a lot of responsibility. If you can pull it off you will have my eternal gratitude.
Ariane: We all want you to succeed in your life. The bad news is that only three people in Malachorian history have succeeded to gain a cheating charter while being seven years old.
Ricard: These three people were prodigies in fields other than cheating, leading them to be seven and be in grades higher than the first grade. To our knowledge, no one that didn't fail or skip first grade became chartered cheaters in first grade.
Ariane: We are playing big on you. There are only three finals for this year: reading, writing and mathematics. If you are caught in any three of these instances, we will disown you. If you succeed however, you will bring our family much-needed fame. And you will be the youngest chartered cheater in history!
Ricard: I will not be conned into signing doctor's notes to help you cheat anymore!
Brianna: I will not disappoint you.
Ricard: There isn't much I can do to help you cheat.
However, as I learned much, much later, the program signed into law in 1760 cut some slack as far as "standared" tests go in first and second grades. The first final was not that stressful and I was a cheater-candidate. The teacher slipped right through when the teacher went out to collect copies. We were sent back home for the day after the final exam was over. Because I passed every other course, music, science, and others, including arts, and even going into an A+ for one of these, I'd say science but back in the day it was incredibly easy for all of us.
Ricard: You should receive your grade tomorrow. These are first-grade exams after all.
Brianna: If I cheated right I would be able to repeat what I did in science.
Ricard: Cheating is cheating. And this is baby math. I made you learn more advanced math so you should be able to get an A+ without cheating, Brianna.
Ariane: Cheat all you want. But the reading exam is ours.
Brianna: Wish me luck!
The next day, the mathematics final exam has come. As our wake-up call, which is traditional for writing exams in elementary school, we received our grades whenever the grading is completed. Although I loathed cheating then, I had an A for the writing exam. If I keep this up I may very well become the Cheater of the Year in the school district and maybe the whole planet! We were 22 in my class at this time, I saw the manifest of students with two columns on it and my name was the only one in the second column, for the cheater-candidates, i.e. the ones who wanted to become cheating charters.
First-grade teacher: Brianna Reiss!
First-grade teacher: Brianna, can you confirm that you are a cheater-candidate?
First-grade teacher: I found it quite odd that one who doesn't repeat first grade would want to become a chartered cheater. Anyway, good luck, Brianna.
And not to get caught! Some people exaggerated my cheating ability back then, especially among my family. The rest of my family all thought that my parents were overconfident; some of my relatives said that they overestimated my intellect and others thought that my parents were madmen. As I read a story about a dog and its master, I began to outline the events the best I could. This should be enough to secure me a few grades that should make me "earn the license" as I would say, was I not covered by the silence rule. The exam itself was not complicated, well, to my eyes anyway. The night after the exam, I made a nightmare that awakened me in the middle of the night.
Brianna: Mommy! Mommy!
Ariane: We were sleeping! What happened, sweetie?
Brianna: I had a nightmare.
Ariane: What was the nightmare?
Brianna: I was caught cheating and I was stripped of all honor I could gain.
Ariane: Wait for the wake-up call. It is traditional for the wake-up calls to be done in alphabetical order after exams are graded.
I could go back to sleep for about two hours because we were awakened by the wake-up call launched from my teacher. Wake-up calls were effective; we were awakened but the teacher kept the suspense to whoever answered the phone.
First-grade teacher: I have the pleasant surprise to announce you that your child is now a… CHARTERED CHEATER! Brianna has passed the cheating licensure! And you have gotten an A for the reading exam.
Brianna: I passed the year!
But the school is stormed by journalists who wanted to see the teacher for themselves, the one responsible for letting a prodigy of cheating to be formed or discovered in the first place. And they seem rather happy about it. The teacher was overwhelmed by the feelings of joy he felt by discovering a prodigy of cheating, one that could become a major hit a few years down the road.
Journalist: Teacher, how do you feel to see the rise of what could possibly be one of the greatest cheating geniuses of our time?
First-grade teacher: I'm confident that the chartered cheater I just saw in action over the past few days will grow to become a good cheater. However, I think it is too early to actually say that Brianna is going to be a good cheater. You know, many precocious cheaters go on to become respected cheaters later in their lives, but for every cheating prodigy that achieves fame there is another that crashes and burns.
Journalist: We know all too well each extreme of the spectrum: Prof. Madoor is an historically significant cheater, known for being arguably the best casino cheater and he even teaches casino cheating at Korvoord University. However, Mrs. Narada was also an early bird and became a prostitute later on. Were there moments where you would have caught your then-cheater-candidate?
First-grade teacher: No. Her cheating was flawless.
Chapter 2: Second Grade
September 1st, 2365. After my parents went shopping for the school supplies for the upcoming school year, I already imagine the whole ordeal this will be slated to become. I would become the "cool kid" because I hold a cheating charter, or I would be bullied out of my cheating charter, or I would be the victim of blackmail because I hold the charter. But I spent the first week of the summer vacation with the journalists from all over the planet – and maybe a few cat-men as well – because they were interested to know more about the feat that I accomplished. One of the other "chartered-cheaters" who were U-9s (that is, people who became chartered cheaters at the age of 9 or younger) were also prodigious cheaters even though they weren't known as such.
Second-grade teacher: I never had a chartered cheater in my class before! Why was I assigned the class with a chartered cheater in it? Mr. Principal, I'm afraid that chartered cheaters are only a load of trouble in second grade.
Principal: But it's not any cheater that we have this year around. We have witnessed the rise of a prodigious chartered cheater. That cheater gained her licensure last year.
Second-grade teacher: Gifted children are quite difficult but when the prodigies are cheating prodigies it is even harder to do it.
Secretary: If I may, we have gained sponsorships because of her.
Second-grade teacher: Who sponsors us because of Brianna's cheating charter?
Principal: A chain of hotels. They have Brianna as their children's mascot. Brianna being Brianna, she decided to let the school manage the cash she could get because of her sponsorship agreement. It will fund her future studies.
Second-grade teacher: Gifted education is usually the lot of "early-bird" cheaters.
Principal: I'd rather have the opinion of the cheater herself. (He turns to the intercom) Brianna Reiss is requested at the principal's office!
From my "lofty perch" in a class made for 30 people, which was way too much according to some musings between teachers, I had to walk all the way to the principal's office for a visit to the principal's office. Because I knew that the principal has asked for me. And my mother. She realises that my cheating charter is going to change a lot of things in my life and she doesn't even suspect that my cheating foundation would change my whole life.
Principal: We are facing a difficult decision. Since you are such a good cheater, we have contemplated placing you in a school for the gifted.
Ariane: No way! She'd probably be worse off in such an environment!
Brianna: I know that I wouldn't last very long. OK, I know that my intellect is one thing but there are limits to it.
Second-grade teacher: I saw your kid in an exam and there are two conclusions possible: either your kid is a whiz kid of a genius or she is an extraordinary cheater.
Ariane: She is a chartered cheater. I know that chartered cheaters aren't commonplace in first and second grades. The U-9 Cheater Confederation is a very select club of the best and brightest cheaters, administered by cheaters, for cheaters. The best cheaters can act as both receiver and emitter ends of cheating schemes, and I'm afraid that she'd be an imbalanced cheater if she was moved to gifted education.
Principal: What would you then fear for your child?
Ariane: That she'd become good only to be the receiving end in cheating schemes.
Principal: I don't know enough of your kid yet but the first-year teacher told me that she cheated flawlessly in both roles.
Ariane: First-grade cheaters are much different from, say, second-grade cheaters and so on, so forth. I know that she is surely a big fish in a small pond but still… fourth-grade chartered cheaters are far more commonplace than second-grade CCs.
Several more or less uneventful weeks go by and the students don't even notice how good I am as a cheater. The day will come tomorrow that I will prove to all of these students in the class who is the best cheater. Before the other second-graders get to ask me about that, they ask me in the school's yard about a cheating scheme.
Troublemaker 1: Can you help us cheat?
Troublemaker 2: You're the smartest girl here. I need your aid to cheat!
Brianna: I'm not sure what you're getting at. You want to become chartered cheaters? Wait until the end of the year to do that.
Troublemaker 1: What incredible nerve!
Troublemaker 2: What about I sit next to you in the exam?
Brianna: OK, but only so you can hone your chain cheating ability.
These troublemakers would assume that, since I could outsmart the first-grade teacher so I could get a cheating charter at such an early age, that my brain is sufficiently robust to process the calculations in said exam without cheating material. Of course, I was neither a living calculator nor a mathematics prodigy, but still very high up from the average, with or without cheating. I knew that, deep down, few first-graders would be smart enough to even understand what cheating is, let alone cheat like I do. That's why I am considered a cheating prodigy, even more so when I was made the Chief Cheater of the U-9 Cheater Confederation.
Second-grade teacher: Before the exam begins, you should know that you are very lucky and unlucky at this time.
Second-grade teacher: You have the Chief Cheater of the U-9 Cheater Confederation, the head honcho of the cheaters 9 years old and younger, among you.
Brianna: I have been appointed for one year. I have to represent the best interests of the Confederation until I am to step down.
This was the first mathematics exam of the year. It wasn't very complicated: it was a sequence of mathematics exercises, called a math jogging. Addition, basic number theory, and subtractions were on the menu. The next day, I thought that I was exposed as a fraud. But the teacher is going to forgive me anyway because cheating prodigies are quite a spectacle to behold for a teacher. Or I wasn't caught? Anyway, the distribution of grades was a moment where I realized that there was someone else I could look to, because that girl had an A+ as well. However, although I do remember the name, Lyran Starfleet Intelligence later decided that I should keep the name to myself.
Second grade teacher: Brianna Reiss, A+.
At the end of the year, I come to think about her role into creating a mathematics monstrosity, me. Like my broadcaster, I always get A+ because I'm cheating on her all the time. Thank God I have a cheating charter! I get in a quarrel over trying to convince her that a cheating charter will protect her. For the years to come I will increasingly rely on her for all my cheating needs in mathematics.
Brianna: Please! I'm a chartered cheater; it will greatly benefit you if you become a chartered cheater!
Math whiz: You're the top-ranked 2nd grade cheater in the world! How am I to become anywhere near to you in cheating skill?
Brianna: I'd better enjoy my experience as the chief kid cheater while it lasts.
Third-grade student: I saw you do math, Brianna, and I'm sure that you're quite smart for yourself, although you're a cheater and, as such, it is offset somewhat.
However, I was going to part ways with that math whiz to see her only years down the road. During that year, I was literally showered with awards from the cheating circles: the Utnara Dax Prize, awarded for the "Revelation of the Year", the Jimmy Neutron Award, awarded to the elementary-level cheater of the year, as well as a prestigious scholarship for cheating, called the St. Regis Scholarship. At home, I feel no longer pressured because they now trust me that I could get into any university that I wanted to.
Chapter 3: Science Fair Experience
Sixth-grade teacher: As we are fast approaching the science fair season, we win here and we go to the planetary final.
Teammate: What do you mean by “we”?
Sixth-grade teacher: The winner of this school goes to the planetary final.
Brianna: We have formed a team.
Sixth-grade teacher: What is the subject?
Teammate: We chose to make it on solid-solid friction.
Once again, I was a science kid but I did not dare to go to a more advanced level as many chartered cheaters would. I decided to use my cheating charter with moderation and, as such, I presented the subject of my team’s science fair. My teammate, who contemplated becoming a chartered cheater this year around, let me do the heavier work because I was supposedly more intellectually resilient than my teammate was.
Brianna: OK, we now know that the formula is KMG sine X, coefficient times mass times gravity times sine of the angle of the surface with the horizon.
Teammate: We have a cheating charter anyway. I don’t care if you present science the way we sixth-graders would usually do, we are immune against cheating accusations.
Brianna: Correction: I have a cheating charter. But you’re right in saying that my cheating charter would protect us from any harm a cheating charge would cause us.
When the local science fair is held, there were so few contestants other than us in the elementary competition, they may as well restrict the local phase to our school. Because everyone else lost interest in science fairs. Or did not see the value of going against an overly depleted playing field. Or, worse still, lost all interest in science because of a couple of cheaters, who are regarded by teachers to have an insurmountable advantage.
Brianna: Come closer! Come closer! There’s your chance to see the mechanics of friction!
Teammate: Smooth surfaces have a higher contact surface than rough surfaces.
Brianna: Also, static electricity has a role to play in friction.
Science fair competitor 1: You… cheated! Little chartered cheaters!
Local juror: There is no proof that Brianna cheated!
Brianna: We were completely honest!
When the recess came, I come out to see what the dozen or so teams that were willing to enter the competition had as far as subjects went. The subjects were well-chosen, in general, but it is the shoddy presentation and science that cost them everything. Of course, for the competitors, the time has come to eat the food that the organizers have brought to us. As each piece of food we got was important to gain the energy we need to keep explaining our stuff to the public who came.
Science fair competitor 2: You… are just freaks. At least you have enough brains to get a cheating charter before you even tried your hands at this!
Local juror: This is not the time to judge competitors down.
Customer 1: Brianna, why are you competing in such an advanced subject?
Customer 2: You’re a fantastic cheater in exams, but what good are you outside of an exam context of cheating?
Brianna: I didn’t even cheat here! Sure, I may cheat elsewhere but for the science fairs I wouldn’t. Because the field is so depleted anyway.
Sixth-grade teacher: Come, Brianna. The results are being announced.
Local juror: The winner is… Friction coefficient by Brianna Reiss!
Teammate: Don’t forget me!
This meant that I won and I did my best. For the first time in my life that I felt that I actually won something in an honest manner. I didn’t cheat and the people seemed to assume that I wouldn’t achieve anything without cheating simply because I am under the public eye precisely for my achievements in cheating. Also, I had to get ready for the planetwide final round, six weeks later.
Troublemaker 1: I’m so sick and tired of Brianna getting under the limelight each and every time! What about we get at her during the planetwide final?
Troublemaker 2: I’m still not convinced that she is a brilliant girl deep down herself.
Brianna: Today is the day where we will have the opportunity to show the entire world that I can make do without cheating.
The whole thing was made in Melkaen with the historical arena being used as the venue for the competition. It was deemed safe because no competitor had anything that could possibly destroy or damage the venue. But the field was somewhat larger and better than at the last show. The primary school representatives for the Lagdou region, us, are ready to duke it out against our foes.
Planetary juror: Let the competitions begin!
Customer 3: Brianna, what can cause friction?
Brianna: Static electricity, for one, and also hysteresis in the case of pneumatic equipment. Look, this could mean either underinflated tires or, in some cases, overinflated.
Teammate: But also because the surfaces are rough.
To get back at me, since he failed getting a cheating charter, or perhaps because I wasn’t stumped by things I am supposed to know to the extent many chartered cheaters are, the troublemakers went to the trouble of going to Melkaen and using the recess to sneak into the enclosure, then damaged every stand they could before the security guards caught them. Also, my teammate left the stand we were assigned to when recess time came. When he returned, he saw a pile of sabotaged stands; even ours wasn’t spared. However, since we were the ones who could best explain the thing despite the damage sustained by the stands we were operating, we were among the favorites to win. Until the moment where the jurors made their announcements…
Planetary juror: We are facing widespread accusations of cheating: everyone is responsible. If people here hold cheating charters, competition will be officially held only among the chartered cheaters.
Brianna (flashes cheating charter): This is my cheating charter.
Planetary juror: Anyone else have cheating charters? (The arena falls silent) The coefficient friction team is officially declared victorious!
But this time around, our sentiment of fulfillment was hollow because the others cheated and were caught cheating. Thank heavens that my cheating charter saved us. This meant that we won by default. We were simply swimming on a wave of confidence for the past few weeks until we were called for the Iron Fang provincial final, in which case the planetary government gave us a sponsorship so we could afford to go to the provincial final. The facilities themselves were majestic. We never expected to go compete in such a place in our lifetimes.
Lyran juror: Let the competition begin!
The competitors just keep getting better and better. This means that the competition is going to be rougher and rougher as we advance through every step of the competition. The tournament was of a pretty high standard despite the lack of involvement of the Lyrans themselves as far as competition goes. We were considered the underdogs by many people, though.
Lyran juror: And the winners are: the balance temperature team!
Brianna: We lost… After all we did to just be there!
I lived a bitter disappointment from our devastating defeat. That is not to say that we were no good; just that Lyrans did it better than we did. It is such a crushing blow that I swore hard science off for the rest of my life. But I broke this oath on several occasions. That is expected since I would later have to go to college to fulfill my dream of entering the Lyran Starfleet. My teammate would just swear science fairs off.
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