Literary Challenge #19 : Perplexing Complexities
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Join Date: Dec 2007
05-21-2012, 12:55 PM
Sinclair's head pounded, his eyes burned, and his throat was dry. Worse yet, none of these symptoms were attributable to the (barely touched and now entirely thawed) Comet Cocktail at his elbow; they were all the result of trying to untangle the arcane text rendered in deceptively neat lettering, pale blue on black, on the PADD he'd brought to the ship's main lounge.
Two evenings past, he'd been roaming the corridors and common spaces of
and come across a few Sciences blue-shirters, also off-duty, who were having a game of cards and/or a friendly argument about same. Two of them were going back and forth on some obscure point of the rules, while a third (holding a PADD identical to the one he was now consulting) offered a third interpretation. The others at the table simply watched with amusement or boredom, checked their own cards, and picked at the refreshments. His appearance further interrupted play, even with his admonition to be at ease; one idle question led to another, and soon he was initiated into the grand mystery of "fizzbin."
Over a century ago, it was said, the legendary Captain James T. Kirk had invented a card game (or at least the pretense of one) as part of a ruse to escape captivity. Generations of admirers, with clever minds that needed occupation and a love of trivia and twisted logic, had put flesh on that skeleton and come up with something that they claimed was actually playable. The proof - the collaboration of hundreds, through an initially ad-hoc but increasingly formal process - was before him now. The official rules, along with all of their conditions, exceptions, codicils, errata, and teraquads of opinions by "expert" players over the years, filled a good portion of the PADD's memory.
Sinclair had given it a glance yesterday before putting it aside with a shake of his head and a mental note to review it later. He'd just spent the last hour and a half grappling with the game, and was about ready to concede defeat. He was half convinced that the whole thing was an elaborate prank, to be played on unsuspecting captains and other easy marks; the rest of him had come to the conclusion that one would have to be a Vulcan, or an android, just to hold it all in memory and keep track of the variables. He'd had Academy finals that were easier than this.
He'd just set the PADD down to rub at his eyes when he heard a warm, familiar murmur: "Care for a little advice?" Despite his weariness, he smiled. He was not at all surprised, when he opened his eyes, to find the ship's head bartender standing close by, or that she'd replaced his drink with a fresh one.
"Please," Sinclair said, taking a grateful sip and enjoying both the initial chill and the lingering burn.
"With some games, the only winning move is not to play." Her dark eyes sparkled as she withdrew.
He took another sip, considering her words and the PADD lying on the table. Then he nodded firmly, blanked the file, and settled back to savor the rest of his cocktail.