The Next, NEXT Generation
Posted on Wed Feb 26th, 2020 @ 11:52am by Lieutenant Mona Gonadie & Kodria Mizu & Commander Rita Paris & Ensign Briaar Gavarus & Ensign Fiona O'Dell & Jaeih Dox-t'Aan
Edited on on Mon Mar 2nd, 2020 @ 12:03pm
Location: USS Hera, Deck 3, R&D Department
The break room on Deck 3 of the expanding R&D Department was in a bit of chaos at the moment. Some degree of construction had already begun, at least in regards to dismantling some of the existing structure of the room in order to make way for the expansive creation of what had been whimsically dubbed “Daycare 1” by Commander Rita Paris.
At the long lunch table, Jaeih Dox had a temporary computer workstation set up in order to assist the department chief, Lieutenant Mona Gonadie, in the design of what was planned to be an ejectable, modular daycare that would be able to function as a highly defensible life raft/escape ship in the event of an emergency. As a former Romulan engineer with a specialty in cloaking technology, Jaeih Dox was putting considerable effort into figuring out how to maximize the available space of the department and help her Daughter-in-law create a ship-within-a-ship that would keep her charges safe.
Two of those charges, Minerva Carrot and Moira Artan, sat on the padded deck in front of her while the canny former Intel agent kept a watchful eye over them. Not that it looked like it, however, as her attention seemed quite focused on her screen, but she nonetheless was watching them quite carefully as they played. Or, at least, it looked like playing.
The miniature Minotaur babe, Minerva, was on her hands and knees, snorting at the much smaller half Orion, half Trill little girl, who was sitting on her diapered rump, waving a green, rubber sword at the other child’s head with a look of dread determination on her tiny green, spotted face.
Snorting again, little Minerva bobbed her head back and forth, brandishing the horns growing atop it at the much smaller child, leaning on her hands to get closer to Moira. Sitting opposite, Moira stuck her tongue out slightly as she brought the sword down to meet Minerva’s horns and the blade struck with a resounding *HONK*, to which both children giggled.
While Moira was a couple of months older, she was much smaller than Minerva, who was clearly touched by Hera’s power. Thus the miniature minotaur was growing at a slightly accelerated rate. Already, she could toddle about on both hooves and mutter random words as she saw fit. But in spite of her larger size and considerable strength, it was clear that she was being extremely gentle with her playmate, and only pretending to attack.
Clear to Jaeih, but not automatically to Briaar Gavarus. The portly porcine Tellarite engineer was one of Minerva’s mothers, and as she walked in, her jaw dropped as she let out a curse. “Holy SHIT! What the effin’ F***, Jay!? Are you even looking at this? They’re trying to kill each other!?”
Rolling her eyes, Jaeih saved her work and stood up from the table. Adjusting her blue uniform top, she walked over to the children and bent down to talk to them. As she did, her stern facade lightened into a warm smile as her charges smiled back at her. “Moira, dear. May I play with your sword for just a moment? Please?”
The tiny green baby looked at Jaeih and down at the sword that was almost half her height and giggled as she stuck it out towards the Romulan nanny. Gently taking the toy, she nodded. “Thank you, my dear. I promise I shall return it post-haste. Plus…” She then whispered to the children with a warm and mischievous grin, “You will both likely enjoy this. Watch.”
Standing back up, Jaeih stepped over to the two-meter tall Tellarite who looked positively flummoxed. “Miss Gavarus, you will note the Medical tricorder on my belt. Your daughter is perfectly fine. As you can see, this deadly weapon is decidedly harmless.”
As she spoke, she raised the toy sword and lightly bopped Briaar on the top of her head several times in a row. Each time, the rubberized longsword let out its distinctive sound, which caused the two children to squeal with delight.
“Really?” Briaar commented, flatly.
“Would you cut that out. C’mon.”
“Really, Jay? This ain’t funny!”
“The children disagree,” Jaeih said, glancing towards her charges, who were both giggling hysterically. “Your daughter seems to be functionally invulnerable based on the scans I’ve run, and the toy is incapable of harming anyone. Well…” Then she looked at it and raised an eyebrow back at Briaar with a grin. “... I could hurt someone with it, but you likely don’t want to know how. Nevertheless, I have been monitoring them both closely, and they are simply playing. Minerva is surprisingly gentle with Moira, and they seem to be enjoying each other’s company well enough.”
“Well… okay. It just… it freaked me out a little, is all.” Briaar replied, blushing slightly with embarrassment.
“Which is to your benefit, Miss Gavarus. You and Miss O’Dell are wonderful parents, but you may rest assured, I am giving little Minerva my full attention.” Jaeih said softly as she returned the sword to its owner with a smile, watching as the children returned to their play. “Now, is there something you needed, Miss Gavarus?”
“Huh?” Gavarus said, slightly distracted. “Oh, yeah. Commander Paris is in the bay and wanted to talk to you.” Then, the tall Tellarite’s tone became slightly conspiratorial, “She doesn’t look pissed or anything, but I can never tell with her.”
Rolling her eyes and smirking ever so lightly, Jaeih patted the space swine on the shoulder and sighed. “Thank you for the warning, Miss Gavarus. I suspect I shall survive, however. If you would be so kind as to monitor the children for a moment, thank you.”
With a friendly, “Sure thing, Jay!” the portly porcine walked back to start playing with her beloved daughter and Minnie’s unlikely little friend, as the former Tal’Shiar agent adjusted her blue tunic and stepped out into the main day of Deck four and the R&D Department, where Commander Paris was waiting patiently in her standard, anachronistic gold velour miniskirt uniform. While it was unique amongst the crew, the uniform was a remnant of the bygone era from which the comely commander hailed.
For her part, Jaeih Dox seemed… different… as she walked over to the Hera’s First Officer. The elder Romulan woman’s posture was a bit less formal and her expression was a bit more relaxed. She had given up her duties in the Pod as an independent Intelligence agent unless needed, choosing to take up the offered role as caretaker to the next generation of the Hera. Thus far, it seemed as though the choice may have been an unexpectedly positive one. “Good day, Commander Paris. Miss Gavarus said you wanted to speak with me?”
Turning from her observation of the mechanical repair O’Dell was working on inside one of the station ‘legs’ of the experimental Silver banshee craft, Rita Paris smiled, the expression that seemingly lit up a room. In truth, while there were very few if any personnel that the full-figured first officer did not get along with on the USS HERA. But Jaeih Dox was a special case- a stern Romulan agent turned smuggler, captured by Starfleet and forced into indentured servitude for well over a decade, she was an angry, distrustful and suspicious woman by the time Rita had come to visit her at Starfleet Intelligence.
But her daughter served on the Hera, and Mnhei’sahe Dox’s career had come under the tutelage of the old-fashioned officer. Thus when she had initially sought out the middle-aged Romulan woman, it was to tell her that her daughter was excelling, and that she should be proud of the young woman. The lessons of discipline and dedication that Jaeih had drilled into her had borne fruit, thus the Starfleet officer Dox was dedicated, capable and morally sound.
It had taken quite some time to earn the woman’s trust. But consistency was a watchword of the lost navigator, and over time, she had drawn out the elder Dox. Bringing her aboard gave her assignments and responsibilities, as she discovered a home, a family, and a purpose on the unique starship. Which brought her back from ‘existing’ to ‘living’ once more. Now, with the advent of the next generation coming into being, Rita was recognizing the patterns, and assigning children to the daycare she was deliberately segregating from the regular nursery on the starship. Because many of the children of the USS Hera were exceptional- literally touched by the divine.
Thus they required a guardian, mentor, and teacher who was up to the task. Which Rita had determined to be one Mrs. Jaeih Dox. Having watched the seemingly dour woman accept the positions Paris had assigned her and contribute as if she felt she had to prove herself, it had made the ancient astronaut happy to see the woman come into her own, learn to trust, and see that what might seem to be demeaning assignment was instead one of the most vitally important duties on the starship.
“Reassuring Miss Gavarus, I take it?” Paris asked cheerfully as the blue-clad spy, inventor and reformed Romulan agent arrived on the R&D flight deck.
With a neutral expression betraying only the slightest of grins in the corners of her mouth, Jaeih glanced back to see the two-meter tall Tellarite laying on the deck of the break room with Minnie and Moira climbing on top of her prodigious paunch and giggling. "Indeed. I believe Miss Gavarus is still in that stage of her career where she assumes every visit from a Commanding officer is to be a dressing down."
Then the elder Romulan woman turned back to Rita, standing straight with her hands behind her back as usual, military discipline being second nature to the woman who had served one military or another for the better part of half a century, "I have no such concerns, of course. I assume this isn't a social visit, though you seem in a quite pleasant mood?"
“No reason not to be, Mrs. Dox,” the cheerful commander replied. “As for the undisciplined fearing discipline, that’s the natural battle of order versus chaos in the modern age, I suspect. As for the reason for my visit… yes, official business, of course, but of a peculiar nature, as things tend to be on the Hera. Let’s retire to your classroom for the moment, shall we?”
Gesturing toward the break room, Paris strode in the direction indicated. While some might have chosen to wait for the other party, Paris knew without a doubt that the Romulan nanny was on her heels, so she acted expeditiously and did not feel the need to reassure. However, upon entering the construction zone, she took it all in at a glance, then settled on Ensign Gavarus.
“Miss Gavarus, Mrs. Dox and I are about to have a sensitive and highly classified discussion. If you wish to be a part of said discussion you may stay, as it does concern your child, thus indirectly you as well. However, that also means more highly classified information stored in your head, of which you may wish to be blissfully ignorant. So the decision is yours to make, but now it’s time to make it, hm?”
While Paris could have thrown rank around or simply ordered what she wanted, it was a hallmark of her command style that she tended to almost exclusively ask for what she wanted, rather than order it. In this case, she was offering options to the junior officer, which was also seldom seen in Starfleet. But the uniquely uniformed throwback was different than her modern counterparts in many ways, this being amongst them.
Sitting up with a light grunt, Gavarus bounced little Minerva on her lap as she knitted her brows in thoughts. "Uh... Wait, what?"
Looking up, the enormous Ensign realized she was still sitting on the deck while talking to the ship's first officer and scrambled to her disproportionately small hooves as quickly as was possible while Jaeih collected Minnie and Moira and put them in their toy-filled playpen in the corner of the repurposed chamber. Readjusting her blue uniform tunic, Gavarus replied with a bit more certainty than was usual for her. "Uhhhh... Yeah. I mean, Yes, Commander? If it's about Minnie then yeah, I need to know what's going on."
“Fair enough. Then as you were, Ensign,” Paris gestured back to the floor. "No need to stand on ceremony. Neither the Captain nor I call for that ‘officer on deck’ rise to attention when we enter the room, so please don’t feel obliged to do so.” Taking a seat at the table, smoothly tucking her skirt beneath her as she did so, Paris crossed her legs in a precise scissoring motion that indicated a lifetime of practice maintaining her modesty in a short skirt.
“In the year 2480, a version of Miss Artan here,” Paris indicated the emerald-skinned toddler on the floor, “created an artificial life form named Kodria Mizu. That android would come to know many of us whom are still alive and active in that era. Sometime around her fourteenth year, she was investigating a spatial anomaly, and was hurled through time to the year 2376. Her inert form was captured by Section 31, and taken to one of their research facilities. The base was soon overrun by a Romero virus outbreak, and when her internal systems rebooted, she was the only living being in the base.”
"That young woman made her way to the comm system, figured out how to power it up and sent out a distress call for weeks, never losing hope that someone would hear her, and come to help. We intervened, and I carried her out of there- apparently fulfilling a promise I'd taught her years ago... That's when the trouble started." Paris recrossed her legs, her equivalent of fidgeting. "You see, Kodria came from the future. Which meant that she had foreknowledge. Which she would accidentally blurt out as conversation additions. One thing would make her think of some experience from her own life or a correlation to an old story she'd heard of our exploits, possibly from us, and she would say it before she remembered there was so much she wasn't supposed to say."
"Our ship's physician at the time had rather an excellent summation of Kodria," the blonde bombardier held up a PaDD as a sensor log played.
“She’s a bit adrift. I can see her start to say something and then stop, as if realizing she would potentially disclose things we should not know in the process. To me, that indicates good discipline and awareness of the consequences of one's actions. She has been very physically cautious, I suspect she has augmented strength compared to you or I and is aware that her movements must be measured to avoid harm. To be frank, it struck me as an adolescent interacting with a baby for the first time. The adolescent knows they could accidentally crush the baby and are being careful because of it. She takes in information at a remarkable speed and can quickly form thoughts and conclusions. For instance, she immediately posited the world in the Hobbit was being constructed to a larger purpose than the one story she was aware of. However, socially she is as a child. She seems to need strong bonds and is missing her caretakers still. The time she spent in isolation has not helped her social development, in fact I believe that has regressed from what it likely was. It is my belief that with proper support she can be a contributing member of the crew, should she wish.”
"The only thing I know of that Doc Dael got wrong was that she actually has rather low strength, by design. In order to prevent Kodria from further polluting the timeline and statistically quite likely wipe herself out of existence by paradox, we locked her up in a time vault." Noticing the surprised and taken aback expressions, the Earth girl held up her hands. "What? Classic Cinderella. She went to sleep surrounded by us, and hopefully she'll wake up that way in 80 years or so. The time vault was to keep paradox from wiping her out, although we've already made changes to the timeline."
"Well, more Sleeping Beeee...." Gavarus interjected as she sat down to the far side of the table, blushing a deep pink as she revealed her knowledge of Earth fairy tales was a bit more advanced than your average Tellarite. She chuckled nervously and grinned a bit too broadly to overcompensate"Uh... never mind. Sorry. Heh heh... Go on."
"No no, quite right Miss Gavarus, I am confusing my fairy tales," Paris admitted. "Thank you for the correction."
While Gavarus hushed herself up as she looked down at the cooing, pale green baby playing with the Minotaur toddler, Jaeih simply crossed her fingers and nodded, absorbing what Rita was saying while sitting across from the Hera's XO. "I've seen one of her recordings with Mnhei'sahe just prior to our... abduction. Beyond that, I knew precious little aside from what isn't classified."
"Well, now you know why. But wait, it gets better. You see," Unexpectedly, Paris rose, crossed the room, then reached down to scoop up the emerald toddler, bringing her up to perch on her rounded hip. Crossing the room again, she slid down to her seat, to perch the babe on her knee. "You're pretty big for six months, Moira. It turns out, Kodria left behind messages, little time capsules that she wanted to use to warn us, to help us head off future catastrophes. Which we couldn't avoid, so we weren't breaking any temporal rules. She was, but she was gone, sleeping off the decades until she can pick up her timeline again."
"Then after a few alterations were made, she offered us advice on something that was unknown in her timeline. Something foreknowledge could not have accounted for. Which was when I realized that Kodria had left a digital clone of herself in the Hera's computer system, who might have started by dispensing Kodria's prerecorded messages, but a child is raised by a tribe." Bouncing Moira a bit in her knee, Rita Paris smiled at the wary toddler, then frowned, and the tot giggled. "Apparently I helped raise this one, so she has this rather strong desire to try to help. Because that's what Starfleet does. How did I put it?"
Looking to the overhead, the career Starfleet gal recited her speech from memory. "If you are ever alone, then you stay calm, and you call for help. Then you wait, and you don’t give up hope. Because there are people out there who spend their lives answering those calls for help, in the darkness, when all seems lost. People like Starfleet."
Unbeknownst to her, those words would grace the base of a statue in her likeness, as she appeared today, in the Rita Paris Hall at Starfleet Academy.
"Well, that certainly sounds like your insidious influence, Commander." Jaeih said, allowing a very noticeable and wry smirk to crack her usually patrician facade. She was now relaxed enough in her position on the ship to actually make a good-natured joke, which elicited a wide-eyed stare from Gavarus who was still terrified around Commander Paris, and still a bit scared of the dangerous, former Tal'Shiar operative.
Returning her gaze back to the situation at hand, the time-tossed temptress, bounced the babe on her knee, steadying the child with one hand. "So my current dilemma is that I have a sentient computer program wandering around the ship's computer, watching us, monitoring for trouble that she can help prevent. Which is a bit dangerous, but the kid's heart is in the right place. It's been confirmed, we can't really get her out of there because we could never be sure that we got all of her, and likely all we'd end up doing is wounding her. Which, not really an option."
"If we ignore her she'll pretend to be sending a message from the past, but otherwise she'll be alone, watching and fretting over us, and that's just cruel. So. That's where you come in, Mrs. Dox. There are two projects currently underway... Okay, fine!" Minnie had risen to her hooves, clambered out of her playpen and waddled across the room to gently ram her head against the Commander's knee a few times, clearly jealous of the attention. Pulling Moira in close, Rita scooped up the Minotaur, then sat up with a slight grunt, balancing both babes on her lap. "You are a surprisingly dense little person, Miss Carrot."
"Two projects are underway in R&D on this side of the flight deck, and both of them are in Daycare 1. The school, and the ship. It is the command's opinion that Miss Kodria would do well to have some regularly scheduled socialization. While we feel you are fully capable of the task of overseeing the children and designing, constructing and testing the lifeboat with Lieutenant Gonadie, this may be a chance for you to help us solve this particular problem." At that, Paris looked to Jaeih Dox and cocked her head, with a slight smile. "How would you feel about having an assistant. Mrs. Dox?"
"Well..." Jaeih said, stalling slightly as she pondered her answer. "I know Mnhei'sahe trusts this Kodria implicitly. She told me that much. That this young woman considers my daughter and you, Commander, as her... aunts. That says a significant amount to me. And if you feel that I can be of assistance in... integrating her into a role here on the ship, then I see no reason to decline. And I am not so fragile of ego as to not concede that I could use assistance in some capacities here."
"And that is the Starfleet way, is it not? Teamwork and the ultimate goal of building each other up, as I understand it. It is quite the opposite from the crucible that is serving on a Romulan vessel, but I have gotten to witness the benefits firsthand," Jaeih said as she uncrossed her fingers and raised an eyebrow as she looked up to the room. "What exactly did you have in mind, Commander? What would my ultimate role here be, as you seem to be implying more than a simple managerial position?"
"Ultimately, I don't know, Mrs. Dox. I'll be assigning more children to Daycare 1, so I will expect you to be a nanny and teacher for them, then the headmistress of their schooling as they advance in age. Ultimately? I can't say. The future, current situation notwithstanding, is unwritten for the most part. I am no Cassandra, and my oracular capabilities are nonexistent. A year ago you were in custody at Starfleet Intelligence, and I most certainly could not have predicted that we would be here having this conversation." Paris scritched the spot behind one of Minnie's ears as she spoke, as the wee Minotaur giggled a bit at the attention while Moira bopped the Commander on the boob with her play sword.
"The important part of this discussion is that I need somewhere safe for Kodria, where she can participate and be involved with others. Admittedly caring for her own infant mother is an odd experience, and a bit stressful perhaps. But I can't assign her to the Captain, I can't assign her to shadow me, given the rather unpredictable nature of my life. She needs stability, structure, and a purpose, in an environment where she will minimize the damage that she might do with faulty foreknowledge. So, working with you as a teacher's aide in Daycare One, while helping with the system designs and such seems to be... my best option to care for her." At that, Paris looked up a bit wistfully.
"We are finders of lost children, it seems. We do not abandon them, and we do not ignore them just because they are inconvenient," Paris said, perhaps a bit forcefully. "Just as I asked you to take on the responsibility of Daycare 1, now I ask you to take on one more. There is a lost teenager who needs a life, a purpose and someone to talk to so that she does not go mad from loneliness and being forced to witness history crawl by one second at a time. So your purpose in this is to help her, Mrs. Dox. If you refuse, I will find another way. But I think this is the best possible solution, and thus why I am bringing it to you. Because I trust you to help Kodria."
Sitting back slightly, Jaeih's mind was already working on the task of figuring out what might be the best way to move forward, but realized internally she was putting the proverbial cart before the Shaill and hadn't properly met the young girl in question or fully confirmed her willingness to accept this new responsibility. As such, she straightened up in her seat, taking on a more professional demeanor and replied. "I accept, Commander. I shall endeavor to do my best to serve and assist the young woman in any way I can."
A smile spread across the face of the surprisingly successful with children Commander. "You never back away from a challenge, Mrs. Dox. Much appreciated." Looking up at the overhead, Paris addressed empty air. "Miss Kodria, would you be so kind as to come and meet Mrs. Dox, and give your own input to the situation?"
With a shimmer of holographics that took a bit longer than normal, a young girl appeared before them with mirrored eyes, dark purple hair, Vulcan-esque ears, and a purplish pink skin that looked at home on the definitely Artan facial features. She also had the signature Artan body build. scattered around the young holographic android were half a dozen floating screens full of scrolling raw data.
With a slight bow, the Kodria in the computer introduced herself. "Mrs. Dox, I am Kodria. I must admit that in my original timeline I know only the stories I was told about you... Mostly from your daughter in relation to her tattoo, and having watched you personally... I'm not really sure what to expect anymore."
Raising an eyebrow at the somewhat enigmatic statement, Jaeih stood up to greet the young holographic representation of the android woman. With her arms folded behind her back, Jaeih gave a light bow and replied. "It is an honor, Kodria. I hope I live up to whatever expectations you may have of me. Though you have me at something of a disadvantage, I'm sure."
Considering the strange statement the young woman said, Jaeih understood what Rita had meant earlier about Kodria's propensity to give more information about the future than was probably safe. Although now, as the golden-clad Commander had pointed out, that information was from a future that had been prevented, making the information a bit safer to know now.
"Well, expectations..." Kodria began, shuffling her feet a bit. "You don't seem like the kind of person that would train children to the point of broken bones... Or able to kill a hundred Tal'Shiar with a spoon... You seem a lot nicer, really... I guess I believe the part about you single-handedly rescuing a million reunificationists? So I'm not sure what to expect."
Her ears perking up, Gavarus' eyes widened again as she leaned forward and coughed a little on her words. "*Kaff*... Wait... what? Children with broken WHAT now?!"
In an extremely rare reaction, Jaeih's own eyes widened slightly and her cheeks flushed green ever so slightly as she pursed her lips. "How I chose to raise my daughter is... not something that I am proud of, regardless of her skills now. And... I was a very different woman then than I am today, Miss Gavarus. I know all I can do is tell you that the only bones I would ever break in regards to your wonderful daughter would be the bones of any who tried to harm her."
To which Minerva, still being held by Rita bounced and giggled slightly as she muttered out a happy, "GAM!"
Of course, Gavarus knew just how dangerous Jaeih was, as she and O'Dell regularly referred to her as 'Granny Murderpunch', but hearing a detail of how she had trained her own daughter as a child to fight was still something of a shock she was doing her best not to overreact too as she let them continue.
Nervously, the former Tal'Shiar operative grinned at the tiny tot on the Commander's lap as she ran a finger over her ear for a moment to recompose herself. It was an anxious affectation that Rita immediately recognized from Mnhei'sahe. Clearing her throat, Jaeih continued. "As for the rest, I can assure you that whatever my daughter may have told you in this future... is wildly exaggerated."
The young holographic android sighed in relief. "Then the story of the time you murdered a twenty-foot tall Gorn that pissed you off with a single punch... That too must have been an exaggeration."
At that, Jaeih legitimately smiled and let out the slightest of chuckles. "Oh, my dear... I've not encountered any Gorn even half that size. And the last one I encountered in any kind of crisis scenario had to have been a smuggler that contested my rates... oh... twenty years ago. And the only thing I murdered that day was his pride. I will say that it helps in a fight to know where the Gorn keep their genitals."
"Well, this looks to be a promising introduction," Paris said, sliding Minnie off her knee and onto the hooves of the basically bipedal bovine. Taking a second to steady herself. Minnie established she was upright, then turned around in a circle, her tail trailing behind her as she exclaimed 'Moooooo!"
Tucking a hand under and one around baby Moira, the intuitive navigator turned to look down at Kodria. "Miss Mizu, you are in no way obligated to do this. You still retain agency, and if you don't wish to do any part of this, you are not beholden to do so. This is, as I explained, what I think will be my best option to get you some contact with people, a place to call your own, and some responsibilities so that you can contribute. Because I know you just want to help."
"This, I think, is a way you can help. I think you can make a real difference to these kids, and I think you might learn a thing or two from Mrs. Dox, who is going to need more than 2 hands to keep up with all of these exceptional children of the Hera." With that, Rita Paris held out the babe and offered Moira to Kodria, who she gingerly accepted.
Staring down at the infant that promptly decided to bop her on the noggin a few times with the toy sword, Kodria couldn't help but give in and grin brightly. One by one she turned to the various holographic data feeds that surrounded her, deliberately shutting down her future analytics and analysis in order to focus on the moment.
"Hey, mom. It's good to meet you, too."