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The First Rule of First Contact Club

“The First Rule of First Contact Club”

Scott Coleridge



“The first thing you need to know about first contact is simple: don’t do it.”


Scott’s professor paused. He might have sworn it was for dramatic effect, and he might have sworn the voice carried with it a tinge of world-weary disdain, were it not for the fact that his professor was Vulcan. She stood still at the front of the room, hands clasped behind her back, no need to pace or gesticulate. Her voice carried to the entire theatre of cadets.


“Avoid, if at all possible, having to make first contact. Because you will make a mistake, and then others who are far more qualified will have to be called in to fix it.


“First contact is the most difficult and challenging type of mission you will ever face in the field. It is more difficult than combat against a superior adversary. It is more difficult than charting a multiplexing subspace anomaly. I’m not employing hyperbole, as some of your human instructors are so fond of doing. I speak entirely from experience and evidence. The best Starfleet captains have struggled with first contact scenarios, and none of you, at least not yet, measure up to any of them.”


Scott blinked and stifled a yawn. He was having trouble staying awake for these 08:00 lectures, and the dry style and subject matter did little to encourage him. All the upperclassmen had told the first-years that First Contact Protocols was an easy class--dry, yes, a little dull, but by far one of the easier upper-year electives to take and round out your second term. So Scott shifted position and continued to listen.


“Remember that first contact is far more than just establishing intelligible two-way communication. Yet it is also much less than establishing lasting trust. First contact is about laying the groundwork for eventual trust, and perhaps even a relationship, between the Federation and the species you’re contacting.”


The professor touched a control, and a hologram of the Phoenix appeared. A few of the cadets in the first rows leaned forward, obviously excited.




“First contact with humanity could have gone very poorly had either species reacted even slightly differently. Fortunately, Vulcans had a great deal of experience with first contact scenarios by this point, and even contact with such a primitive species proved no more challenging than usual. While integrating humanity into the wider interstellar group of civilizations proved a long, slow process, it did gradually happen.


“Which brings me to my topic for this first lecture: first contact is not a single event. It is a process, one that might span…”


Scott started to zone out. He wondered if this was a mistake--when was he ever going to need to know this, anyway? If all went according to plan, he was just going to be a starship engineer, and engineers seldom went on away missions to uncontacted planets. That’s just not done. In what foreseeable universe would Scott Coleridge be responsible, in any capacity, for a first contact situation?


Scott answered a few messages on his PADD.


Scott jolted upright, wiped some drool from the side of his face, and glanced around to see if anyone noticed that he had slept through some of the lecture.


“... will conclude with a reminder that your first assignment deadline approaches. I expect no fewer than 5 sources of information for your paper analyzing proper adherence to first contact protocols. Furthermore, and I don’t know why I always seem to have to reiterate this, but any captains of starships named Enterprise are not considered reliable sources for this assignment.


“I am aware that it’s common practice among the upperclassmen to recommend this course to first year cadets as a ‘practical joke.’ Rest assured, regardless of your intentions for taking this course, I will hold all of you to the same standards as expected of Starfleet Academy cadets. One day, you may be representing the entire Federation in front of a species new and foreign to us. This is not a responsibility I will allow you to take lightly.”




Scott walked out of the meeting, his mind turning over those moments earlier on the CnC, when he stood in front of an alien and did his best to represent humanity. Well, as far as he could tell, he hadn’t started a war—point Coleridge? And it seemed like this species, while interested now in communicating, was just so different from them—not just in terms of communication, but in culture and perspective of time and space—that establishing a rapport was going to be a gradual process indeed.


It was unusual for a station to be involved in a first contact scenario. Aegis wasn’t going anywhere; as long as the alien starship lurked nearby, Aegis was responsible for representing the Federation. Unlike a starship, it couldn’t move on or cede its mission to a new vessel.


Fortunately for him, Scott wasn’t doing this alone. That moment on the CnC had been one of staggering, sobering responsibility—but now, that hurdle cleared, they were entering an exciting part of the process, the part full of discoveries. It would mean more hard work for everyone involved, but it would also be rewarding. It wasn’t a responsibility to take lightly, but it was also a responsibility Scott could share with a dedicated, motivated crew.

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