DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Catherine Kay and is copyright (c) 2001 by Catherine Kay. In answer to a challenge to tell how Scotty lost a finger...

The Gamers

Catherine Kay

The light coming from the gaming table was more subdued in between rounds when the Gamers rested. It is hard to see the outline of the perfect, four dimensional cube that make the playing surface of the table that floats two feet above the floor. The room where the Gamers roll the destinies of their character's lives and uncounted untold millions of others seems transparent drifting in space. What could be stars, but are not, glow faintly through the floor, ceiling and walls.

The "stars" in actuality are other gaming tables from other rooms with other players. These millions of seen and unseen affect the rolls of the game in this room as in other rooms with the weight of their probabilities as they roll in other playing rooms seeming into infinity.

For now, these Gamers come together to play. In another century or millennia, it really didn't matter, one or two might walk out the Door of Infinity and enter another gaming room to play with another set of Gamers.

The players in this room have been together longer than most. Often other Gamers will drift in. They will stay for awhile to watch or play a round or two but the game in this room is always fast moving and full of danger. The rewards are immense but the consequences are higher.

One of the long time Gamers in this room has already lost a finger. Not from the current game but from one long ago when the table had been only a two dimensional plane. They have moved far and fast this group of Gamers. They have leapt from one dimensional play to two and then three, now to four. They have even caught glimpses of higher dimensions still and will soon be playing games beyond the comprehension and endurance of all but the best Gamers.

It had been a shocking thing when the Gamers had found out that hurts to the characters in the game could translate to real hurts to the players themselves. It doesn't always. It depends on the intensity and quality of the game itself. And this room always sports the very best that the Gamers can produce.

There had been originally 13 in the game that cost a finger. When it got too intense too fast all but two left. Word got around and 8 more hardier players joined. One of the original two had to reduce his character's roll as he was not strong enough to combat the particular evil that had arisen.

He passed the responsibilities onto the best of the next group. The new player rolled for a name and came up with Frodo. The original player who was not fatigued and knew the game the best was called Gandalf.

The game got dark and frightfully real as forces of good and evil vied for dominance in the room. The players did not know that there was a real contest of power bigger than themselves. One force, evil, always striving to end the games forever. Good struggling to continue. Occasionally evil would win and a room would go dark, the players ceasing to exist.

Evil almost overtook the room and became dominant but the strength of the Gamer Frodo carried the "day" because of the loss of his literal person. When the game ended the gamer looked down at his hand and the finger was truly gone, the price of defeating evil.

They rested for a bit. Two left, shaken, looking for easier games. But the gamers that had been Frodo and Gandalf stayed on and with them the other six. With the next roll of the dice Frodo was granted a brief rest in not carrying the main burden for the next game. He rolled the name Lt. Montgomery Scott, dexterity 9, in spite of the loss of his finger. Gandalf rolled pretty much the same character with the change of name to Spock. The gamer Strider who had been king after hardship became Captain Kirk and the Gamer who had been Sam and had cared so much for everyone became the character McCoy..

One by one each of the players rolled their names and destinies and formed a new game, Christine Chapel, Lt. Uhura, Mr. Sulu, and Mr. Chekov. Players stopped in to play a round, others came to just observe. The table became a sphere and flexed from time to time as the game continued to push the dimensional boundaries of the group. Good predominated but evil still waited for it's chance.

The Game has become well known and other rooms enter in. Other tables share the "galaxy". With the demise of the original 8 characters the Gamers are rewarded with the ability to incorporate a new dimension to possibly re-enter the game of "Star Trek" anew or not as they choose.

For now as the Gamers rest and watch for awhile, the decision has not yet been fully made as to what "shape" or "context" the next round will bring. The loss of the Gamer McCoy has left a hole in the companionship of the other 7. More likely than not the others will drift after him. But for now they are content to watch and take their well deserved rest in between rounds.

The games continue.