Copyright 2011 Douglas T. Vale
Cover image courtesy of Fotovampir / StockFreeImages.com
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Genghis Khan stroked her orange beard with a purple hand and surveyed the vast underwater plain below. The army arranged against her was full of warriors riding sea horses. A glitch in the programming allowed voice to travel as if through air.
“Stay in formation!” She shouted to the troops behind her. She could still pull the competition through, she thought. Something had gone terribly wrong with the programming, but if she held her chin high and kept going she could pull through. She had to.
Her army charged (or, rather, swam) down to meet the opposing army, and she was right there among her troops. They fought ten hours, at the end of which the water was so clouded with blood she could barely see her way around. But the Mongols had defeated their enemies. Even if the whole thing had taken place in a fantasy underwater realm. A great ping sounded, and the simulation ended.
“Very nice twist on the usual story, Miss Khan,” the announcer said. “I think the judges will give you high marks for that.”
“Thank you,” she said, not daring yet to hope. Her mind raced as she disconnected the wires from her scalp and arms. What had gone wrong? A glitch? But she was always so careful with her programming. What else could it have been? Sabotage? But who? She grunted. It came to her. It must have been her former love, Plato. He was cutthroat, and it would be just like him to feel threatened by her. He knew how dedicated she was to winning, so he must have sabotaged her. She ground her teeth together and clutched her hands into fists.