Author's note: Here goes! My very first fanfic of any genre! Granted, I have written fiction before but not a fanfic. So here's one, dedicated to all Benbonians at the Benbow Inn ezBoard! And greets to VikM! Without your "do that one" I would still be plugging endlessly at other so-and-so stories...

Oh and the disclaimer: If you think a character is not mine, you're probably right ...

=== === === === === === === === === === === ===

The Great Race
By pepoluan

Chapter 1: Good News, Indeed!

300th Anniversary Celebration

In celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the Terran Empire, the Emperor has decreed that a year-long celebration will be held for all subjects of the Empire. All vassal kingdoms and republics are to have friendly competition in subjects of sports, science, and art.

To foster better interplanetary relationship, the Emperor also has also arranged the founding of the Anniversary Celebration Organizing Committee, which shall implement and oversee friendly competition between planets of the Empire.

One highly expected interplanetary competition will be the Imperial Great Race of Sailing Ships which shall pit the ability of the Empire's finest Captains among each other, in a month-long voyage which shall test their sailing skills to the extreme . . .

The footsteps were heard very rapidly, almost like an automatic pistol it sounded on the cobblestone. The cause, a beautiful female felinid walking very briskly. You might think she was being pursued by someone, but what's pursuing her is none other than the desire of delivering a very exciting news to her beloved husband at home.

She looked at her watch. Seventeen forty-five. He should be home by now Half running, she covered the last mile to her home in record time. Somewhat winded as she reached the top landing of her mansion home's entrance, she silently berated herself for not taking the carriage earlier this morning. But that no longer matters, as she's home anyway.

She flung the front door wide open. "Delbert darling, I'm home!"

The target of her holler, a certain canid which looked very much like a scientist, and actually was, was sitting in the study, perusing a newly delivered star chart. Hmm, he thought, There must be some good news. Being married to this felinid for more than 17 years has surely taught him how to read her perfectly.

"I'm upstairs, Amelia sweetheart. Come join me!"

"Be right there in a moment," replied Amelia. Quickly she hung her coat, and bubbling with excitement, she ran upstairs to meet her beloved husband.

"Delbert, guess what happened today!" she exclaimed excitedly as she rushed into his study.

"You won the lottery?" guessed Delbert playfully while turning around to face his wife.

"Hmph. You know I'm not into that kind of thing," she frowned.

"Just kidding, darling," grinned Delbert, rising from his chair, "Okay. I haven't the faintest idea what could make you so excited. Now tell me."

Quickly, she ran over to her husband and threw her arms around his neck. "Sweetheart, we've been invited to partake in the Imperial Great Race!"

Delbert looked stunned. "What? How in God's name could you possibly gain entrance?"

Amelia glowered. "Darling, let's not forget that I am still a decorated reserve officer of the Imperial Navy. I have every right to join the race. And this afternoon, two junior officers came to the RLS Arrow bringing me this invitation," Amelia produced a very formal looking envelope.

Delbert opened the envelope and read the posh invitation within:

Dear Rear Admiral (rsv.) Katherine Amelia Doppler,

It is with great pleasure that we, as the Anniversary Celebration Organizing Committee, invite you to partake in the Imperial Great Race, which as you know will commence in 05-01 of this year. The technical meeting shall be held in the Great Asimov Hall, Terran Capital World, at 1030h on 02-15 of this year.

We look forward on you being there. You may bring along two senior crewmembers. The dress code shall be formal morning suit.

Please note that since The Emperor himself will be attending, the security will be tight, and you are well advised to plan on not bringing any weapon.

Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me as the supervisor of the Imperial Great Race, at the communicator number printed on the footer of this invitation.

Sincerely,

Orner MacGunn.

"Hmm. Interesting."

"Interesting? Just INTERESTING, you said?" exclaimed Amelia, her turn to be stunned.

Delbert broke into a laugh. "Of course not, my dear! It's ... amazing! Splendid!"

"Oh, you rogue!" exclaimed Amelia, playfully punching him on his arm.

"Ouch. Heh heh. Okay, so, that gives us about 7 days to be prepared. Who do you plan on taking with you?"

"Of course I will bring along Mr. Marks. He's my first mate, after all," She mused. "I don't think anyone else is required."

She couldn't contain her laugh when she saw her husband's face suddenly fell. "Of course I am joking, my dear Doctor. I will surely bring along the Empire's second best astrophysicist with me..." she let her voice trail off.

Instantly Delbert's face changed from disappointment to annoyed, "Second best you say? Of course I don't want to be pompous but second ..."

She interrupted, "... because I heard that the best astrophysicist is too busy having wonderful romps with his felinid wife..."

She could barely contain her laughter as she watched her husband goes through all sort of expressions on his face, his mouth opening and closing several times before finally being able to cry, "Okay! You'll get one for this." She shrieked with joy as her husband playfully growled and chased her all over the house before finally catching her, and unceremoniously lifted her up, still laughing, and climbed the stairs to their room.

"Hmm, do you think we ought to ring Marks now?" mused Delbert.

"Delbert, let's do our 'things' first, okay? He can wait until tomorrow," purred Amelia.

Delbert grinned sheepishly, "Okay," and closed the door behind him.

=== === === === === === === === === === === ===

Author's note, again: Ahh! The first chapter! Finally it gets written! Sorry if it's rather short. I am just trying to burn off this writer's block. I may rewrite this first chapter if you indicate it to me... so review please! And I promise chapter two will be longer.

Edited, 2004-08-08: Thanks to an unnamed reviewer who told me (via VikM) that I keep going back and forth on the tenses! I have retouched this chapter, and I also changed Amelia's status from Retired to Reserve, which I think is more proper.