Literary Challenges : The Library Computer
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Join Date: Dec 2007
05-06-2011, 12:36 PM
That football? Oh, that’s a long story.
It begins when I was at Starfleet Academy. I was on the academy football team. We were getting ready to play the Vulcan Science Academy when I was approached by the Romulan Ambassador to Earth. He had grown an interest in the sport and wanted to talk to me about it. I was the team captain, you see, and so the ambassador thought I’d be the best one to answer his questions.
I was happy to help out. We had lunch together a couple times while I explained to him the intricacies of the game. He said he would be traveling to Vulcan in order to catch our next match. And he wished me luck.
We arrived at Vulcan as a major underdog. Vulcans are naturally stronger than humans and logic is a pretty good predictor of sports plays. The first half went as well as could be expected. The Vulcans ran up a 28-point lead and we were just hammered. The coach tried to motivate us, but it just wasn’t working. Then, as we were walking back to the field, the Romulan ambassador approached me and said, “The Vulcans' strength could be your biggest advantage.” I didn’t have a clue what he meant.
As we got ready for our first play after the kickoff, something occurred to me. We were lining up in the expected formation and were about to do a play you would expect from a team in that situation. The Vulcans knew that because it was the logical thing to do. I told the quarterback to call a timeout. He looked at me strange but did what I asked.
As the crowd was looking on in confusion as to why we would bother to call a timeout before the first snap of the half, I ran over to the coach with the quarterback and I told them, “Throw away the playbook. The Vulcans know what we are going to do because it is what is expected in this circumstance. We need to do the exact opposite. If it is an obvious run play, we need to throw. If it is an obvious throwing play, we need to run. The Vulcans are going to do what is logical, so we need to be as illogical as possible.”
The coach agreed and he flipped the playbook onto the grass. From that point on, we would do the opposite of what you would think we needed to do. As a result, we took that game into overtime and we finally broke a 36-year losing streak to the Vulcans. The coach presented me the game ball because it was my suggestion that lead to our victory. I then gave it to the Romulan ambassador and told him I owed him a debt of gratitude.
The Romulan ambassador came to every game while I was in the academy and we would get together twice a week to talk football. He personally pinned my first pip on and said, “If every Starfleet officer was like you, the Federation’s future would be secure.” I thanked him and we kept in touch over the years.
Six months ago, I found out that the Romulan ambassador’s shuttle had crashed while landing near his office in San Francisco. I was on ESD for a conference at the time and so I beamed down to the medical center he was taken to. I arrived three minutes after he died. His aide recognized me and let me see him. Seeing him there in that hospital bed hurt. There was an honorable man... brought down by a bad engine diode.
At his funeral, I took off one of my pips and pinned it on his uniform. I said, “If every Romulan was like you, then the Empire’s future would be secure. Thank you for being such a great friend.” As I started to walk out I was approached by one of his aides carrying a box. He said, “The Ambassador instructed that this be given to you upon his death.” I thanked him but didn’t open the box as I returned to the USS Huntsville.
As we got underway for a routine survey in the B’Tran Nebula, I went to my quarters to read up on some situation reports when I noticed the box. I walked over to it and inside was that football. It had my signature and the date of that victory over the Vulcans. With it was a note that read, “Given to me by the captain of the Starfleet Academy team. He is the most honorable man I have ever known.”
I was moved to tears. I immediately took the football and that note to my ready room and put it on display. That ball means more to me than any award I have ever gotten from Starfleet. That ball was given to me by a friend and mentor; a man I will never forget as long as I live.