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Competitive Exam

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This story is No. 10 in the series "An Inspired Future". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A Foresight Story. Xander has an interesting way of choosing a new Watcher-in-Chief.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Cartoons > Daria
Games > War
EricJablowFR711,250041,9599 Dec 129 Dec 12No
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its characters are the possession of Kuzui Enterprises, Joss Whedon, and WB. Daria Morgendorffer was created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lynn Lewis for MTV, though she has but a cameo appearance in this story. Her battle will be discussed in a story I'm in the middle of writing. Details at the bottom on the crossover game.

“Listen up!” Xander's voice, trained by ten years of practice giving orders on battlefields, easily cowed the young men and women before him.

“You seven are the final candidates for the post of Senior Watcher for Geneva. This is a job where you may often meet government officials, UN Ambassadors, and general busybodies. Accordingly, we need the most cunning, vicious, and self-controlled personality among you for the job. All of you have roughly equal strengths and weaknesses. Accordingly, we have devised the following examination for you. In a moment, you will enter this door; this selection of WCI Headquarters have been reserved for you.

“During the exam, you shall not physically harm each other. You will not do anything criminal to each other, and not blackmail each other. There is a digital clock in the central room; you shall not screw with it. When the clock runs down, a judge will enter the room; you shall not screw with him or her. You will not leave this wing of the building unless you are eliminated form the competition. Otherwise, you're on your own.”

“What's the exam, Xander? We weren't told what to study,” said Arthur Kilbreath. Arthur was a tall blond with a claw scar on his left cheek.

“It's not the sort of exam you study for, Arthur. Oh, there's food and drink in the kitchen, and a lot of small rooms to work in. Arthur, Lily, Donald, Scott, Armistead, Dorothy, and Stefan, may the best candidate win.” Xander walked to the door and picked up a small cloth bag from a stand. “Everyone, come here, take one item from the bag, and walk through the door to the conference room.”

The seven candidates filed in, each drawing their item as they passed Xander. As they entered the conference room, they all looked at their token. They were small thin wooden boxes, each a different color. In the center of a circular table was an old game board with a map of Europe, with a few pieces scattered atop. Around the table were seven seats, each with a set of pieces of the one color, sheets of blank paper, paper copies of the map, and a small pamphlet. Stapled to each pamphlet were sheets of paper with a warning: “Do not commit forgery!

Lily looked at her piece and sat in the Russian seat, looked at the board, and said “Xander is a real bastard, isn't he.”

Arthur sat at the English seat and breathed out, “Diplomacy”. Where did he find this one?”

“It is the classic. He even found a '60s edition,” said Dorothy, at the Italian seat.

As Donald sat by France, Scott by Germany, Armistead by Austria-Hungary, and Stefan by Turkey, Xander's voice came in over an intercom.

“Take 20 minutes to go over the rules, 30 to negotiate, and 10 to write your first move. It is now Spring 1901.”

The clock read 1:00:00.


In another wing of the WCI Headquarters, a technician sat at a console with many video monitors, all showing scenes from the testing area. Xander walked in, and the technician greeted him: “All the monitors are working, all the recorders are active. Do you think they know we're recording them?”

“If they don't know, I'm not telling them. And if they haven't guessed, they shouldn't be working for us anyway.”

Dawn walked into the room. “They're all settled in? Do they need snacks?”

You are not sending them snacks. Sorry. Their kitchen is well stocked. They'll be fine. Well, one of them will be fine.”

“The rest will have bloody knives stuck in their backs, I know. How's Dar?”

“She and her team are in New York, telling a UN Undersecretary that his career is over. Her special project, you know.”

Dawn gave the requisite shudder. No Slayer—no woman at all—wanted to think about the battle Daria waged, and few Slayers were suitable for a war against human evil. “Will he live through it?”

“It depends on what he's done to his family.” Xander looked over the tech's shoulder. “They're beginning to negotiate. Are all the rooms covered?”

“Everything but the bathrooms,” he replied.

Xander put on a headset and started listening to the various conversations. “They're just feeling each other out. I don't expect any real conflict until 1902.”

Dawn asked, “So, why did you pick out this game as their exam?”

“We're filling the Geneva Watcher's post. Whoever we choose will be dealing with diplomats regularly. We need someone who can hold her own.” Dawn shook her head and left the room, and Xander sat down at a desk and started to take notes on his laptop. After a half hour, an IM appeared.

Bob: Xan, I'm beginning to pick up some psychic energy from the exam subjects.

Xander: Bob, it's about time. Anything offensive?

Bob: I don't think so. Just attempts to read each other's minds there. Pretty weak, and I think everyone there can shield well-enough.

Xander: They're all psychics or mages. That's part of the test.

Bob: I think Armistead isn't trying anything.

Xander: If he's not trying to cheat, he'll lose.

Bob: Understood. Out.

At the end of the first hour, Xander walked back into the test area and gathered up the seven players' moves. Quickly, he arranged the moves on the board and judged the one conflict, certainly a prearranged one between Italy and Austria-Hungary.

“For now on, you have 15 minutes to negotiate, and 5 minutes to write your orders each turn. May the best diplomat win.“


A few minutes later, Xander's cell phone rang with the tone Daria had picked out for herself. Xander took off his earphones and answered it.

“Daria, love? I wasn't expecting you to call.”

“I know, Xand.” Her voice was a bit strained and weak.

“What happened? Did your mission go well?”

“I don't know. I'm at LaGuardia Airport. Rifka Kohn just put me in a cab and ordered me back to Cleveland. My plane will be in Cleveland 3:12 your time.”

“That's not like her.”

“She's not angry at me, but she told me I need to be home, with you.”

“What happened?” Xander was badly confused.

“Well, I was ill this morning. And yesterday morning. And the day before. And something didn't happen this week that happened four weeks ago.”

“Oh. Oh! I'll be there. I'll tell the doc.”

“I love you, Xand. And I'm a bit scared.”

“I love you, and we did it together. One moment.” Xander put Daria on hold, and then he bellowed out “Dawn!”

Diplomacy, by Allan B. Calhamer, was first published in 1959, and has been owned by many companies since. It's trademarked by Wizards of the Coast now, and is generally considered to be the best game of the Twentieth Century. I have no rights to it either.

Mods—I really don't know if this counts as a crossover; the characters use the game but don't become part of the game. Please adjust the category if you think it necessary. Mrs. Daria Morgendorffer Harris has but a cameo role.

The End?

You have reached the end of "Competitive Exam" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 9 Dec 12.

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