Who's Babysitting Whom?
Location: Deck 8- Education Center/ Holodeck 2
Timeline: MD 1 1400 Hours
Nokomis walked swiftly toward the education center. This was Logan's fault, he'd signed her up for this ridiculous event so that he didn't have to have a Captain Barrett day. She sucked in a breath and tried to put on her most disarming smile as she turned the corner and entered the classroom. The Romulans were already waiting for her, standing off to one side. She thought a day with this particular class would be good for them.
Lieutenant Watson smiled as the Commander entered. "Class, I'd like to introduce Commander Dixa, the Orion's first officer." She waved the Commander forward. "She will be showing you . . . Clayton, pay attention. She will be showing you how to interact with the computer by introducing the variety of programs that can be created on the holodeck with a little imagination."
"That's right," Nokomis smiled, taking the silence as her cue to talk. "I was raised on Earth so I thought perhaps we might recreate old Earth fairytales that some of you might be familiar with and our guests, Lieutenants t'Keirianh and t'Ehhelih will be accompanying us."
Vriha inclined her head politely toward the children. Seeing children on a starship still seemed strange. Bringing one's young on a warbird would strike most Romulans as insane - not only potentially genetically suicidal, but a factor that might inhibit crew from the sacrifice that might be necessary to defend the Empire. She still remembered the tutoring session when her uncle had explained that this was Starfleet practice. Folly, perhaps, he had said, but a solid marker on the Federation's official position that their starships were not primarily vessels of war. Of course, he'd also been careful to point out that the combination of short lifespans and prolific breeding potential meant that the practice might make sense for them even if the ships were true warbirds, so that official position should still be viewed with a certain suspicion...
Barely older than these children at the time, Vriha had been both shocked and fascinated - shocked (and little impressed) that humans would sacrifice their whole families to perpetuate that image/ruse, and fascinated by the possibility of growing up on a space vessel as her ancestors had. Her childhood fantasies had focused heavily on living on one of the great Migration ships (and the knowledge of children on Starfleet vessels had added a very secret fantasy as to what that would be like). While she had dared to speculate if a similar practice might have altered the division between the ship clans and the other great Houses of ch'Rihan, she had never imagined what would truly start to alter her thinking on the issue: Hobus...
She blinked away the dark thought, focusing on the more positive fact that using youthful imagination to instruct the young was something the Federation and RSE had in common. "I am most curious to see these 'fairy tales'. I did a preliminary search on 'fairy' and the earth folklore associated with this concept of magical and dangerous otherworldly beings. It was quite fascinating. Will we be covering tales on recognizing dangerous deception, as with changelings and will-o'-the-wisp, or of bravery in retrieving those lost to the Fairie Realm, like the Tale of Tam Lin?"
Eilaea, meanwhile, observed the children with thoughts from an ever so slightly different viewpoint and set of wistful memories and recall, as the mother of a young child herself. First, with the reflexive reaction to be appalled at the presence of such young children aboard a ship that could be called into combat. Second, with fond recollections of calls home or visits there on leave, of Nevala whipping around the house eagerly reenacting ancient tales and playing at being the heroine of such, whacking at her legs with a toy sword.
"I'm honestly not familiar with that so I think not likely," Nokomis answered. "As for which fairy tales we will be seeing, I think it's best not to spoil the surprise. If you will all follow me."
Mrs. Watson gestured for the students to stand and to file out of the classroom with her bringing up the rear. They walked toward the holodeck as the children chattered and Nokomis answered the occasional question from a student. It was clear she wasn't completely comfortable with the circumstances, at least to the adults. The children seemed oblivious however and tagged along happily.
"How did you get spots?"
"I was born with them," Nokomis glanced down at a blond haired child who reminded her of Logan's daughter Emma.
"Can I get them?" She asked, obviously hopping along as if she might jump high enough to actually reach and touch them.
"Technically you could have the doctor change your skin pigmentation but I don't think your mother and father would like that very much. If you still want spots when you're an adult then you can have the surgery done."
The little girl looked disappointed, but took Nokomis' hand as she walked a long.
The tug on Eilaea's tunic was not entirely unexpected when it came, but still, it was odd to her to see the eager, curious young eyes looking up at her. They perhaps lacked some of the...intensity...of her own daughter's, but the bright inquisitiveness was eerily similar.
"Are you a real Romulan?" the small child asked.
Eilaea blinked, of all the things she had expected to potentially be asked, that was most certainly not among them. "...Yes." she replied, uncertain what else could honestly be said.
"Oh! Cool. Did you bring one of those things that will make the ship invisible?"
"....No. They are highly sensitive technology, and would not necessarily interface well with the ship's systems."
The child's brows crunched down at that answer, less than satisfied. However, after warning glance from the teacher decided not to press the case further, and instead switched topics, and Romulans, tugging now on Vriha's sleeve. "Do Romulans have fairy tales?"
Vriha cocked her head to the side, bemused at the child's query. "Not in the sense of tales involving magic or supernatural beings," she replied. "But there are tales of bravery, cunning, and adventure that most Romulans hear as children."
"And that children often like to act out and play as, in fact." Eilaea added. "Though there is rarely a holosuite involved."
This was going to be quite the interesting experience, Nokomis though, not only for the children but for their Romulan guests who had very different ideas about what Fairy Tales should be.
"Class, if you'll gather around, I've already entered the information into the computer," Nokomis said as they arrived at the holodeck. "But normally you would tell the computer what you were looking for and create the program bit by bit and piece by piece or you can let the computer put something together with some guidance form yourself. Computer, begin Diza program Fairy2." When the computer replied that it was ready, the doors opened and she gestured for everyone to enter.
Vriha followed them in, nearly as eager as the children. The tales about fairies had been fascinating, and had lead her to read over several other earth folk tales and mythologies. Would it be a quest for some object of power? Slaying a dragon or some other monster? Or maybe an encounter with some of earth's multitude of Q-like gods? She had been surprised by how many tales, especially those termed 'Norse sagas', might almost work as Romulan bedtime stories. It made her think that humans were perhaps not as different from them after all.
Eilaea came to an abrupt stop as the group entered the holodeck and the doors vanished behind them into the illusion, one eyebrow rising high. In the distance, what she assumed was meant to be a young human female--though she had never seen one so pale--in richly textured finery and jewelry was staring wide-eyed and terrified at a man holding a knife, pleading with him. Unsure if they were meant to intervene in the scenario - or for that matter, of behalf of which character - she hesitated, observing, as the man turned away while the woman ran deeper into the woods. At least some of the children apparently knew this tale, she would guess; based on their excited whispering.
It was certainly an exciting beginning to the story, Vriha thought. Though she was surprised to see an obviously well-bred young woman openly show such fear. Indeed, she didn't understand why the girl wasn't taking a better stance to counter the attack. There were a number of defense against knife attack techniques that any Romulan, particularly from a high ranking family, would know by half her apparent age. Perhaps she was feigning terror to throw a larger and more experienced opponent off guard... but no, the man turned away, perhaps bribed or persuaded by promise of later reward, since he allowed her to escape and then spread blood from an animal he brought down on her cloak to make it appear she had been killed as intended.
If the girl was the princess, she had already co-opted an adversary's retainer. Despite her youth, she was clearly cunning. Vriha looked forward to seeing how her story would play out.
"As you can see, the characters did not notice us but the computer can be programmed to include you in the story. She genuinely smiled. "Who wants to be a dwarf?"
Several of the children raised their hands, one little boy with dark hair started jumping up and down, Nokomis noticed his ears were slightly pointed. "Alright Thaddeus, which one do you want to be?" She asked.
He stopped jumping and sucked in a breath, obviously deep in thought. Nokomis kept her eyes on him and opened her mouth to offer suggestions but he beat her to an answer. "Grumpy."
"Do you want to help me program the computer or do you want me to do it."
He made a face, "You, I hate computers."
"Computer, include Thaddeus Dawson as on of the seven dwarfs, correction, Grumpy the dwarf."
Eilaea wasn't entirely certain of her grasp of some of the more obscure terms of the language - but if she was interpreting 'dwarf' correctly...Well. A slight smirk crossed her face, amused: The children were certainly an appropriate size to act as such characters.
Vriha was fascinated by the images of the dwarves as the children claimed their roles. She had expected short, but heavily bearded and muscled, like the images she had seen in the folk literature she had reviewed. Though miner's tools could be used effectively as weapons, the lack of armor and traditional battleaxes was also surprising. Given this further evidence that she had no idea what to expect of the story, she decided against requesting any role in it and resolved to simply observe.
"Anyone else want to volunteer to be more dwarves or should I let the computer create the other characters?" The silence was surprising given the amount of children that were in the room.
"I want to be a princess!"
"Well . . ." Nokomis replied, "There really isn't a princess in the story until she marries the prince but that happens at the end. And there's only one maiden in the story. There's an evil queen." She said hopefully but the look the little girls were giving her was priceless. "All right," she answered them almost laughing. "You can all be princesses." She gave up on any sort of authenticity and soon the girls were all waiving magic wands and running around the room. The teacher looked confused as to whether she should be trying to control them or not. "Let them have fun," Nomokis assured her.
Vriha lifted an eyebrow at the departure from the story, but then she had always heard that earthers were far more indulgent toward children. If true, as this seemed to suggest, it was a defect, though perhaps not such a severe one as such lack of discipline would be for Romulans, or Vulcans for that matter, since a child not raised to control the passionate nature inherent in vulcanoids would become an ungovernable little terror with little hope of ever succeeding in school or life in general.
More interesting was the display of what constituted a stereotypical princess by human standards. The dresses seemed impractical, but not an extreme departure from the robes worn by Romulan upper classes for formal occasions. And the sleeves and voluminous skirts did leave ample room to conceal the sort of personal weapons one ould expect the heiress of a powerful House to carry. However, on that score, the wands were puzzling - too short for rapiers, too long to be stilettos, and they way they were being waved about indicated they weren't intended for use as weapons anyway. Some sort of symbol of authority, perhap...?
Finally she had to ask. "Excuse me, but what is the purpose of the long sticks they are waving?"
Nokomis couldn't help it, she cracked a smile. "They are used in fairy tales to produce magic, that is making things happen that in their time period seemed supernatural or mysterious such as a transporter to someone who lived in a more primitive society. "
From behind them all, the doors opened, throwing the seemingly artificial light from the corridor into the filtered light of the holodeck's forest. Varina stepped in quickly, hoping her arrival didn't spoil the mood. "I'm sorry I'm late. Have I missed it?" she whispered.
"That depends on what you were hoping to catch Doctor. Welcome. We've sort of gone away from the traditional fairy tale though the kids seem happy with it." She gestured to all the girls waving wands and to a couple who had taken up swords made of wood and were trying to defend against invisible attackers. At least none of them were battling each other that she could see. "Would you like to be a fairy queen? I can make it happen and you might get their attention."
Varina considered the XO's question. "I'm not sure I'd make a good fairy queen. I think I'd be more of the sorceress type." She turned to the blonde with a grin that may have matched her assessment before looking back. "However, it appears our Romulan friends may have something up their sleeve." She was now curious what would happen.
Eilaea observed the children with the wooden weapons for a moment, cringed slightly: For the age she could best guess the children to be in most cases, their form was atrocious. As she watched, one of them dropped their weapon, seemingly from nothing more than an overenthusiastic swish of the little wooden blade through the air--the child in question looked older than her own daughter even, and she wouldn't have let such a blatantly poor grip go uncorrected even when Nevala was not yet school aged. She flicked her eyes over to share a brief glance with Vriha. "Computer...Two practice weapons."
With a bare tip of head in assent, Vriha took a wooden sword and briefly felt its balance before taking a fighting stance. She too had noted the poor form among the youngsters, though was less shocked by it since she had been heard that only a small portion of humans trained in fencing, the majority preferring firearms for weaponry (and so assumed the children were trained in the use of phasers). She had originally been instructed in which races had such preferences because reliance on a particular form of weapon was a potential weakness that might be exploited, but she agreed with Eilaea's apparent judgment that it would be wrong to leave these children so unfamiliar with basic sword work.
With a smile, she called out a word - the Romulan equivalent of 'en garde!'
"Yes," The smile slid from Nokomis' face. "I did notice that." She answered the doctor. "Good thing medical staff is present." A hint of nervousness showed up in her voice.
"Merely a demonstration of proper technique," Vriha assured her. "With little chance of anything but bruises. On a warbird we practice with naked steel!" She flashed grin as she thrust at Eilaea on the last word.
Varina merely grinned, intrigued to watch the new spectacle.
"Looking on the bright side maybe our Captain won't sign me up for any more First Officer days." Nokomis spoke softly to Varina with a little bit of a grin coming back to her face.
Varina had to reign in the laugh she almost let out to keep from distracting the kids, and appearing to laugh at the women with swords. Best not to aggitate them at the moment. "I can pass on that we turned all the kiddies into little warriors, if you'd like."
"Oh please do, I would love to see his face." Nokomis grinned thinking of that conversation. She turned her attention back to what was happening in front of her.
Lieutenant Commander Nokomis Diza
Executive Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Eilaea t'Keirianh
Operations Officer, USS Orion
Sublieutenant Vriha t'Ehhelih
Science Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Varina Hightower
Chief Medical Officer, USS Orion