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Star Trek vi: The Undiscovered Emacs ***
ACT IScene 1
On the bridge of U.S.S. Excelsior, seated in the captain’s chair, Sulu is drinking a cup of tea. The science-officer stands next to him, conferring, handing him a datacount. Sulu muses over the contents, “According to this, we’ve completed our exploration of the entire section.”
“Fifty-four editors and their anomalies. Our sensing and analytic equipment worked really well.”
“Time we were heading home. Three years is…”
The ship starts to tremble. Sulu’s tea cup is shaking in its saucer…Sulu and the crew look at each other as the shaking increases. The teacup smashes while the science-officer leaps to his station, “I have an energy wave from 240 degrees, mark six port….”
“Visual!”, Sulu commands.
An enormous gaseous wave, a subspace shock front appears on the main display. “SHIELDS!”
Meteors and asteroids smash past; burning chunks fly by at warp speeds. Excelsior rolls, throwing everyone off balance. The ship has been knocked about and everyone on the bridge is holding on or sliding around. She settles and one by one, her crew resume their stations. Captain Sulu requests a damage report.
“Seem to be in one piece, Captain. We’re re-starting Emacs, this is going to take a moment…”
Sulu then looks to his science officer, “Don’t tell me that was any meteor shower.”
“Negative. The subspace shock wave originated at bearing six-six-six, Mark five-one, the location of…Praxis. A Klingon moon. Barren of indigenous life forms.”
“But essential as a resource. Praxis is where they store the complete source to their primary editor– vi.”
Thinks for a moment, then, “Send to Klingon High Command: `This is Excelsior, a Foundation Starship traveling through Beta Quadrant. We have monitored a large explosion in your sector. Do you require assistance?’”
The science officer waits for Emacs to finish loading the ship’s .emacs configuration file and display the start-up screen. When he finally looks up from his console, he says, “Sir, I cannot confirm the existence of Praxis.”
Sulu goes over to the Science Console and looks at the screen. Nothing there.
The Science officer types “M-x magnify RET” and a barren moon with three-quarters of its mass blown away drifts lifelessly in a black void.
“What’s left of it.”
“Do we report this, Sir?” “Are you kidding? Send to Gnufleet Command…”
Captain Kirk and his crew, in a Gnufleet briefing room, “What are we doing here?”
A door opens and a Gnufleet Aide De Camp, austere and impressive enters and gavels the meeting to order, “This briefing is classified. There will be no recording devices. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Commander in Chief.”
All rise as the Gnufleet Commander in Chief enters, with a briefcase and pulls materials from it, “As you were… I’ll make this as simple as possible. The Klingon Empire has roughly 50 years of life left to it. For full details, I am turning the briefing over to our special United Foundation of Editors’ Envoy…”
He makes a sign and another door opens. Spock walks to the podium. Kirk and company are astounded.
Spock begins, “Good morning. Two months ago a Foundation starship
monitored an explosion on the Klingon moon Praxis. We believe it was caused by insufficent safety precautions. The moon’s decimation means an almost eighty percent loss of their CVS repository holding the source code and backups of their editor. Without the source, no new features will be added and soon their editor will become obsolete. The Klingon economy does not have the resources with which to combat this catastrophe. Last month, at the behest of the, Vulcan Ambassador, I opened a dialogue with Gorkon, Chancellor of the Klingon high council. He proposes to commence negotiations at once.”
“Negotiations for what?” asked Admiral Donald.
“An end to seventy years of unremitting hostility, which the Klingons can no longer afford. They want to switch over from vi to the Foundation’s editor: Emacs”.
Audible mutterings…“Is the war finally over?”
Spock continues, “If the Klingons sue for peace, we could use their developers to improve Emacs, thus allowing the Foundation to undertake additional software projects.”
Kirk simply eyes Spock briefly, then speaks “Sir, I’m no diplomat, but the Klingons have never been trustworthy. This is a terrible…a terrifying idea!”
The Admiral whispers to the Commander in Chief who then turns to Kirk, “You once lost an important file in the days you used to use vi, didn’t you Captain?”
“I’m sorry Kirk, but Commander Spock has persuaded the Foundation that this situation is too promising to ignore.”
Spock explains, “It is imperative that we act now, to support the Gorkon Initiative, lest more conservative elements persuade his empire that it would be better to switch to XEmacs.”
“Captian Kirk, you are to be our first olive branch.”, the Commander in Chief proposes.
“We have volunteered to rendezvous with the Klingon ship that’s bringing Chancellor Gorkon here, and escort him safely through Foundation space.” says Spock. Kirk is too startled to speak.
“As it happens, Kirk, the Chancellor specifically requested you and your officers.”
“Why, in RMS’s name?”
He is met with silence; all rise as the Commander in Chief and his aides file out followed by the rest of the crew.
The room is empty except for Spock, still at the podium and Kirk sitting alone in the auditorium. He is curious, betrayed and Spock knows it.
“WE volunteered?”, Kirk asks increduously.
Spock replies, “There’s an old Vulcan proverb: `M-x apropos is your friend.’”
“How could you vouch for me? That’s…arrogant presumption.”
“I was asked by my father to open negotiations with the Klingon high council on behalf of the Foundation. Under the circumstances, I was inclined to agree.”
Kirk stands, and walks out of the room.
Kirk is in his quarters aboard the U.S.S Enterprise, unpacking his bags as he dictates, hanging up his uniforms, his shaving tackle going next to the sink, etc., “Captain’s log, Stardate 8679.259. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and maybe they’re right. It seems to me our mission to escort the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit is problematic at best. I have never trusted Klingons and their editor, and never will. I have never been able to forgive them for the loss of my file. Spock says this could be an historic moment, and I’d like to believe him, but how on earth can history get past people like me?”
A delicate cough; Kirk realizes he’s not alone. He swivels to face Lieutenant Valeris standing in the bulkhead doorway.
“Come on, Lieutenant, you could knock!” “We’re almost at the rendezvous, I thought you’d want to know.”
On the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the cruise is proceeding evenly as Kirk arives out of one turbo-lift. Spock and the Lieutenant emerge from another.
“Uhura, hailing frequencies. Hard starboard, bring us alongside.”
“Channel open, Captain.”
“This is the Starship Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk, Commanding.”
Gorkon comes up on the main visual display.
“This is Kronos one. I am Chancellor Gorkon.”
“Would you and your party care to dine this evening aboard the Enterprise with my officers as guests of the United Foundation of Editors?”
“We’d be delighted to accept your gracious invitation.”
“We’ll make arrangements to have you beamed aboard at 1930 hours.”
In the officers mess on the Enterprise, a window irises open revealing the stars gliding by. A hand pours deep blue Romulan ale into Gorkon’s crystal goblet; dinner well underway. Principals from both parties are at the table; stewards keep food and drink in motion.
Gorkon asks Scotty, “Is Emacs easy to use?”
“Aye, it is even capable of emulating vi; this makes the transition to Emacs a wee bit easier. Of the three emulators, viper is the most faithful.”
Azetbur, the Chancellor’s daughter asks, “Commander Spock, mindful of all your work behind the scenes, and despite the cordiality at this mess, I do not sense an acceptance of our people throughout your ship.”
“They’re naturally wary, ma’am. We’ve been at war a long time.”
Uhura asks, “How do both sides overcome engrained prejudice?”
Chekov says, “Perhaps with a few small steps at a time. Like this one.”
McCoy? adds, “And perhaps with a large step or two. Like a peace treaty.”
Gorkon toasts, “I give you a toast: `The undiscovered Emacs’; the future.”
All drink Romulan ale, echoing `the undiscovered Emacs’. The Klingons eat with their fingers, scorning utensils.
***End of ACT I
In Act II, the Enterprise is accused of launching a denial-of-service attack on the Chancellor’s Bird of Prey; Kirk and McCoy? are imprisoned in the penal of Rura Penthe where they are forced to use the pico editor. After years of depending on Emacs, can they survive this torture?!
In the final act, can the Enterprise and her crew prevent the peace summit from being disrupted when they discover that the Klingons have a Emacs emulator for vi?