Lirpa Camp

By Linda

Rating: PG

Genres: general

Keywords:

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Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.

 

Acknowledgment: Thank you to Warpgirl for bate'ing this story.

Background: I used some of my memories of being on a fencing team in college for this story. And in my Scottish Highland Dance group, we learned the manual of arms for the claymore (sword). Just recently I have been reading novels about the Roman army which explained tactics using the Roman short sword. This is what inspired me to consider how the ancient Vulcans might have fought using the lirpa. I also smile each time I think of Blacknblue's three liner in the form of an advertisement: Lirpa for sale. Used once. Cleaned.

Intro to story: Trip and T'Pol's son is now 14 years old and just a few years short of starting adolescence. Although his parents refused to bond him at age 7, they feel he needs to have the training every Vulcan boy gets. So he did go through his Kahs-wan at age 7 and now he is off to training camp to learn how to handle one of Vulcan's ancient weapons...just in case he someday might have a use for the skill.

 


 

 

Trip sat next to Toval on a bench at the Vulcan Rapid Transit station in the mountain town that had been the family home for almost twenty years. In the cool mountain air Trip felt comfortable wearing a short sleeved shirt but Toval had zipped up his jacket. Living in this town had been a compromise that suited a mixed Vulcan-Human family on a hot, dry world. The maglev train would come through right on time - in ten minutes by Trip's watch. Trip took a furtive glance at his fourteen year old boy who was sitting perfectly still with his hands in his lap. Beside the boy rested his sports bag neatly packed by his mother with the items on the list sent from the training camp.

Trip racked his brains for something useful to tell his son and clearing his throat, he began. "Son, I have never been to lirpa camp myself. Only handled the weapon once, just to look it over. Nasty thing, and quite effective, in those stories of ancient Vulcan armies way before Surak's time. But your mother and I checked out this place, and they are very safety conscious. We expect you will be returned to us with all the fingers and toes you left home with."

Toval gave his father the brief half-smile that he had learned from his mother, for appreciating his father's humor. In fact, his facial features were those of his mother, as was his compact body. He would not be quite as tall as his father when he finished growing. The only visual inheritance from his father was the dark brown hair, just a shade lighter than the black hair of most Vulcans.

The hidden inheritance from his father was that sharp, creative mind which had put him at the top of his class every year in the best Vulcan private schools. His human heritage had been downplayed, ordered hidden by the Vulcan High Council as a prerequisite for allowing his mixed family to live on Vulcan. It was, however, revealed to the instructors at the lirpa camp. It was also made known to the teachers at the school where Toval was currently enrolled - the alma mater of his Uncle Soval, whom he had been named after. Soval hovered over Toval's life like he had over T'Pol's. The analytical part of Soval's mind wanted to study this experiment in Vulcan-Human gene mixing. But there was an emotional side to Soval which was fiercely protective and proud of the boy.

"Father, I will be fine. I hope to learn much at this camp, but I hope never to have to use it. It seems to me, that the lirpa from the ancient stories is employed in a similar way to the Roman short sword in the ancient earth tales from a culture that was technologically and emotionally equivalent to the era in which the lirpa was the weapon of choice here on Vulcan."

"You remember those stories too? Well of course you do," Trip said, a touch of pride in his voice. "Your eidetic memory. An inheritance shared by your Uncle Soval."

"Father I hear the train coming."

"You do? Right." Trip stood and reached for the sport bag.

"Uh, Father, I better carry that. There will be other boys on the train and if I am not carrying my own bag..."

Trip nodded. "Well, good bye, Son." And he reached out his hand which Toval took in a quick grasp but dropped just as quickly before anyone noticed the Human gesture.

Trip stepped back. "I will leave now. Best of luck and, uh, live long and prosper."

With that, Trip hurriedly retreated into the terminal building before the other boys could see his son with a Human and be wondering what was up with that.


The line of boys stood before the drill sergeant who was holding a real lirpa. A corporal was walking slowly down their line inspecting the camp uniforms which were a sand camouflage pattern like the uniforms of the ancient Vulcan armies. The uniforms were intended to give the boys a sense of history, seriousness, and discipline. For most of them, this would be the closest they ever got to real military service, which had begun to be looked down upon in these post Kirshara times.

"Attention!" The drill sergeant stamped his lirpa on the hard-packed sand of the parade ground. Its polished metal ax head flashed in the harsh Vulcan sunlight. The boys grounded their wooden practice lirpas in imitation of the drill sergeant. While made only of dark hardwood, the practice weapons were heavier than a real lirpa and valuable antiques which generations of Vulcan boys had learned to handle. Few of these boys would actually put the real thing to use in modern times. But though use of the weapon was rare, the records of actual modern fights to the death at marriage rituals were etched into memorial walls that flanked the entrance to the camp.

The drill sergeant's voice rang out in the hot Vulcan afternoon. "As we all respect the ancient traditions that the modern use of this weapon is based on, you boys will be trained in the manner of ancient army recruits. You will learn to march in formation. You will live in tents and eat hard-bread rations. You will have only a small ration of water, so you must learn to clean your bodies with sand as our ancient warriors did. Do you all understand?"

"Yes, Sir!" the boys chorused.

The drill sergeant cupped his hand to his ear.

"YES SIR!!" the boys responded louder and with greater enthusiasm.

Satisfied, the drill sergeant curtly nodded. "You will now pay close attention to the lirpa manual of arms. I will go through it only once. Then you will practice it, repeating it seven times in succession, with a brief pause, then seven times again. We will continue with this for the next two hours until the sun reaches the edge of the desert. No watches here, boys. We tell time like the ancients. And a reminder - any boy who has snuck in any modern electronic devices will immediately be sent home in dishonor."


That first night, Toval tried to put his arms under his head as he lay on his bunk, third from the floor of the tent in the stack of three. Wincing, he put his arms at his sides instead of under his head. They were too sore to raise above shoulder level. He tried to repress the manual of arms as it ran over and over in his mind like a song he was sick of but could not get rid of - ax forward-strike, ax back-bludgeon forward-strike, bludgeon back to vertical, spin the weapon once, return to parade rest with bludgeon grounded. His hands had blisters from holding the balance point on the shaft of the weapon. There were no slivers in his hands because the shaft had been polished by a legion of young boys holding the weapon at its balance point.

The boys were told that the practice weapons were heavier than the longer, real lirpas in order to build up their muscles faster. They would only get to handle the real thing in the second week of their two week training when they would use them against straw filled dummies.

"Psst, Toval!" came a voice in the dark tent from a boy in a bunk on the same level across from him.

Annoyed, Toval answered curtly "What!"

"Uh, do you have blisters too?"

"We all have blisters, just use that salve we were issued and go to sleep now."

"Psst, Toval. Can I borrow some of yours? I think my jar rolled away on this stupid canvas tent floor and I could not find it in the dark."

"Geez, Sapik, be more careful! Here." Toval tossed his jar, remembering from the daylight hours, the height and distance to the line of bunks across the tent.

"Ouch! Did you have to hit my knee?"

What a sissy, Toval thought. "Those are the wages of carelessness. Give the jar back to me in the morning."


The shortening shadows of early morning found lines of boys - fourteen to a line, moving down the parade ground in a rhythmic drill. Toval's arms were sore but soon fell into the rhythm. Practice lirpa held vertically, ax end up, Toval placed his dominant right hand over his left in a two handed grip at the center of the lirpa shaft. Stepping forward in unison with their right feet, the boys echoed their instructor "cut!"as their axes dropped ninety degrees down and forward. They all had visions of cleaving an enemy's helmet, or shoulder, or neck, or even the middle of a chest.

Then the instructor shouted "return!" and the weapons returned to the vertical position - ax up, and the boys had mental images of them being pulled from rent flesh, blood spurting from their enemy like a fountain of water in a village square.

Next, "Bludgeon!" the boys echoed the instructor, pushing their left hands forward bringing the weapon to the horizontal, weighted end forward. This was a dangerous position for the user, as the ax end came close to grazing their own chests. Many boys were grateful at this point in their training that their lirpas were dull wood.

"Strike!" they said as they sharply thrust the vertical lirpa's bludgeon end forward while taking a step with their left foot - to smash their enemy, breaking the breast bone or face and knocking them down.

Then it was "return!" lirpas assuming the vertical with the ax end up.

"Spin", and the lirpas spun once to confuse the enemy as to which end would now be used. The drill was repeated and repeated as young bodies tanned deeper or blistered bright green under the merciless Vulcan sun.

Sitting on the hot sand at midday, the boys listened to explanations of the basic coordinated maneuvers of an ancient Vulcan army. They imagined lines of lirpa men standing shoulder to shoulder in heavy body armor. They were taught how a line would move across the battle field mowing down the opposition with the cut and strike down exercises they were being taught, and of the soldiers trampling over the fallen bodies. In practice, only the strongest, most disciplined lines of men could do this, for the other side was attempting the same thing. And as comrades fell, the line would disintegrate into free-for-all fighting if it was not composed of men stalwart enough to keep close discipline.

This method of fighting passed into history when the lirpa was replaced by fire arms so that tactics necessarily had to change. Still, there was something very threatening, very elegant, and dignified about the lirpa to Vulcans. It became a symbol, as the sword became to Humans. So long after it was replaced by fire arms, Vulcan generals carried fancy jewel incrusted lirpas on ritual occasions. And the basic unadorned lirpa was still effective for settling personal quarrels. Against un-armored opponents it still efficiently settled disputes over mates during the modern Vulcan marriage rite.

For certain drills, the boys practiced in skirmish groups, seven to a line, three lines to a group, facing an opposing skirmish group. Sapik was in the first line, second from the left end. Toval was on the far left end of the second line, a position that was vulnerable in battle because he had no one to cover his left side. The people in this position usually had strong bludgeoning skills and those on the extreme right of the line had strong ax wielding skills. The first lines took the brunt in battle and when a man fell from the line, someone in the line behind them stepped up to take their place. This meant that the front line men were usually killed off in a battle, followed by those who stepped up from the lines immediately behind them. It was safest to be in the rear lines of the ancient armies. Those in the front lines could gain social approval by surviving and gradually win placement further and further back in the lines.

With the skirmish groups, the boys were taught to drop to the ground if touched by a weapon from the opposing group. The line backed over the fallen comrade, or went forward over him. Then the fallen boys could stand up and move off the playing field. They could then sit down on the sidelines and watch the rest of the battle. In a real battle, they would have been trampled to death if they had not already died of their wounds. But the only punishment they received in these mock battles was a few bruises from being stepped on.

In another method of practice, pairs of boys faced off in individual bouts as in the marriage challenge. All movements were judged fair in this kind of practice and the boys were allowed to try creative combinations from the techniques they had just been taught. Unlike Human fights, silence reigned among the spectators. But occasional shouts of encouragement and insulting gestures were not unknown.

The instructors hovered on the sidelines. They took notes for the boys' final ratings in one of the seven skill levels. Of course all boys wanted the top Green Star level. The levels were green-blue-purple-red-orange-yellow-brown, top to bottom.

Toval rarely got knocked out of the fighting, but Sapik usually went down early on in the skirmish group or at single combat. The salve jar spent most of its time in Sapik's possession, as he never did find his original one. After the first week, Sapik told Toval that he was ready to go home, but he dared not quit as his parents would be greatly disappointed. Sapik's father had been one of the few Vulcans in modern times who had actually been a champion in a challenge and had won the challenge to claim Sapik's mother. Although Sapik was not the sort of boy Toval usually hung out with, he tolerated Sapik's clinging to him because he wanted to hear all the details about a real lirpa fight that Sapik could tell him.

Toval and Sapik sat together at evening meal, at trestle tables made of lengths of slate laid over piled rocks that where reasonably flat. The benches were also large somewhat flat rocks. Mugs of water and hard-bread and soup of some mixture of wild vegetables was their meal - twice a day only. They had a sweet date-like fruit, dried, for a snack which was carried in their uniform belt pouch. A few pieces of this fruit were given to each boy at their early morning meal. Sapik's were usually gone before Eridani A was directly overhead, so he would beg pieces from Toval in the evening. By then, Toval still had four pieces left, so he shared them with Sapik.

"Maybe you would be able to get along on less food if you did not have so much nervous energy," said Toval in exasperation.

"You are no doubt correct." Sapik conceded. "I will endeavor to meditate longer and repress the emotion that is driving my nervousness."

"Well, it is only a suggestion," said Toval, trying to tone down his advice.

"Feel free to make suggestions. I know my short comings. And I appreciate your tolerance." Sapik sighed. "If I had not found your companionship, I am sure I would have washed out of lirpa camp by now."

Toval, like his Dad, cultivated an informal and friendly working relationship with people. "Aw, you would not. You are not that bad. It will not be long before you are swinging that lirpa like an ancient army veteran. You do have a wicked bludgeon strike that I envy, but you have to work on accuracy with the ax part. We could practice behind our tent during free time, later."

Sapik gave a curt nod. "That would be much appreciated."


The boys practiced behind their tent after evening meal until dusk made it too dangerous to see the dark wooden lirpas. They spent most of their free time on ax end techniques. The ax end took more finesse, and had more precise target areas like the base of the neck, the ear, the bridge of the nose, the center of the chest, and the heart in the lower trunk. For each of these areas, a specific angle was necessary. This was what Toval excelled in. And to let Sapik feel useful, as much as for real tuition, Toval asked the boy to show him in slow motion, the techniques he used with the bludgeon end of the lirpa.

Tired from this practice, but satisfied, they went around to the front of their tent to prepare for bed. Sapik lifted the tent flat but stopped short so that Toval bumped into him.

"Watch it..." Toval's irritation began, but his voice dropped to a whisper "what's up?"

Toval stepped in beside Sapik to see his instructor holding a salve jar above Toval's bunk.

"Whose bunk is this?"

As if he didn't know, thought Toval. "It is mine, Sir."

"Oh? And how is it supposed to be made up?"

"Blanket tight and clear of objects, Sir," recited Toval, standing at attention.

"Then, recruit, why...why have I found this object upon it?"

"Sir, I do not know. I did not put it there."

"You did not? Then who would?"

"I...do not know...Sir."

"You are responsible for your own bunk, are you not?"

"Yes, Sir."

"And your bunk was not in correct order with a jar of salve on top of it?"

"No, Sir, my bunk was not in correct order with a jar of salve on top of it."

"So logically, you are responsible for a messy bunk. Two demerits for yourself, two additional demerits for your tent."

The instructor pocketed the salve jar and knocked against Toval on his way out so that Toval bumped into Sapik.

The twelve other boys in the tent pointedly turned their backs on Toval as he walked over to his bunk. Soon it was lights out and Toval did not have to endure their backs, but their silence was eloquent.


At first meal the next morning, Sapik sat down beside Toval. "Sorry."

"Vulcans do not apologize." Toval said gruffly.

"Then why is the word in our language?"

"A vestigial holdover from the time before Surak?" Toval suggested sarcastically.

"Vestigial, like the lirpa, actually. We have many things which should have been left behind long ago. Hey, I wanted you to see that I returned your jar. I thought you would have time to put it away before tent inspection."

"Look, Sapik, I would have if you told me it was there. But I did not return to the tent all day. And I did not go into it when we got back from last meal because we went right out back of it to practice."

"Sor..."

"Oh, be quiet. One apology was more than enough."

The boys ate in silence, and then went off to morning drill, Toval still ignoring Sapik. Toval remained silent though Sapik mopped along beside him until Toval sighed and said "Save me a seat at midday meal. It is my day to sharpen the ax edges on the real lirpas after drill is completed and I will be late for the meal."

Sapik raised an eyebrow and nodded. His demeanor improved remarkably during the remainder of the drill.


The first week of camp went slowly and somewhat painfully for most of the boys. For Sapik, especially, the week crawled along, since he acquired many bruises and no longer had Toval's salve to attend to them. The second week flew by as the boys' bodies hardened up. They were intrigued by more complex combinations of moves than they would have expected of the simple lirpa. Each morning they were given sheets of moves to memorize.

Lirpa movements and tips for the day:

Cut forward and down with ax end. Target head, neck, chest, heart. Then strike bludgeon end forward horizontally.

Cut diagonally forward and strike to the left (or right depending which way the lirpa is held). Then strike bludgeon forward to the knee.

With bludgeon upper most, strike (stun) forward and switch bludgeon back to slash forward with ax to leg.

Push forward with staff part held horizontally, then pull sideways to cut arm or trunk.

Do not drop bludgeon on your foot when you come to attention. Broken toes are a ticket home in disgrace.

Do not throw the lirpa backward over your shoulder unless you know for sure that it is an enemy behind you.

Do not wander away from camp trusting your skill with a wooden lirpa against a wild sehlat. This falls under the gross tonnage rule.

 

In all, there were twenty combinations of moves that the boys practiced. These moves had been developed for single combat, but were also used by armies in ancient battle line style. To give the boys a live perspective on historical battles, the whole camp was readied to participate in one huge battle on their last full day at camp. Excitement built during the last week and even the shiest boys caught battle fever.

...

The day before the big battle, the boys of both 'armies' were issued either a red or blue armband. Then boys who had formed friendships over the past two weeks avoided each other if they were wearing different colored armbands. The usual clustering before drill now broke into groups of boys sporting the same color. This was also true for meals, with groups of boys posturing aggressively toward each other. Battle fever drew Toval and Sapik closer because they both wore the blue armband.

On the last afternoon when the armies formed up behind blue and red banners on standards, aggressive looks and the occasional derogatory remark were directed at the opposing army. The instructors not only ignored this aggression, but seemed to encourage it. Finally the armies faced each other with an eighth mile of desert between them.

The plan was simple. The two armies marched toward each other until the first lines impacted. They were to maintain their lines as well as they could during the course of the battle. Any boy in the front line who received a touch on any part of his body was to lie down as dead and let the fighter behind him step forward into his place. The fighters would step over the fallen boy until several lines of either army had stepped over him. Then when he was behind the active fighting, he could crawl free and sit on the side of the battle field. When what was left of an army crossed entirely over the starting line of the opposing army, they were declared the winners of the battle.

Those boys in the front lines wore grim expressions, knowing the instructors considered them social and literal cannon fodder, and fully expected them to be eliminated from the battle early on. Those in the back lines nudged each other in excitement, smug in their perceived higher status. In ancient times it was not unusual for men to have purchased their rear line positions. Wealth in ancient times rested in the clan treasuries; most battle lines were made up of members of the same clan.

Toval considered his place in the eighth line from the front to be because of his non-Vulcan father. Sapik in the seventh line was from a clan of fairly low esteem. There were twenty lines in each army, so Toval expected to be sitting on the sidelines by halfway through the exercise. There was high tension in the thin air and the boys did not have long to wait for the blast on the ancient war horn to start the battle.

Both armies marched toward each other, kicking up clouds of sand and closed on each other with shouts and whistles of aggression. Toval moved forward, lirpa at the ready, even though it would be awhile before the boy in front of him fell and he could step into the battle line. After three minutes of measured forward movement, the line in front of Toval stalled. He heard the thwack of wooden lirpas impacting on each other and on the 'battle armor' of thick sehlat hide padding that they all wore. He saw Sapik, face unreadable, lirpa held at the ready. Sapik's line would step forward soon, and Toval's line would follow.

In Sapik's line already individuals were stepping forward to replace fallen boys. At first the fallen boys had been able to crawl out between the lines in front of Toval's line, but now they were crawling out right in front of him. Then the line in front of Toval was reduced from 8 to 3 as boys moved into forward lines. Toval began to step over fallen boys before they had time to crawl past him and onto the sidelines as he and other boys moved up into the decimated line ahead of them.

It was a half hour after the start of the battle; Toval's line was now second from the front. The boy in front of Toval took a sharp audible crack to the head and was then knocked aside by a bludgeon to the stomach which surely knocked the wind out of him. To Toval's way of thinking, that had been a nasty unfair blow to his team mate which deserved revenge. Toval stepped over his fallen team mate with blood lust in his eyes and was now part of the front line. Toval feinted with the bludgeon end as if to heave it up into his opponent's groin. When the boy lowered his lirpa to protect his groin, Toval pushed the ax end forward and wacked the boy on the side of the neck. The boy's eyes rolled up and he dropped like a stone. Toval gave him a kick in the groin as he stepped over him saying through gritted teeth "You earned that kick, for cracking Satak's skull, you bastard. You only had to tap him."

Toval, now on the left flank of the first line, matched his step to Sapik on his right who had just taken down an opponent with a bludgeon blow to the knee. Sapik gave Toval a quick sweaty-faced grin. Toval and Sapik then fought side-by-side, Toval guarding Sapik's left. Sapik, who had been all but spent, exhibited a burst of confident energy now that his friend was by his side. Emboldened, they were a formidable team rhythmically hacking and butting through the last nine standing lines of the opposing army and jumping over fallen boys until they faced empty open desert just beyond the red line painted on the sand. Surprised that they had not fallen due to their somewhat forward original position in the army, they stamped their lirpas, bludgeon side down on the sand like battle standards and grinned at each other. But when an instructor came over to face them, they put on blank but tired expressions and stood at attention.

"Adequate job, Boys. Quite adequate, for the two of you to hold out so long. Blue team is the battle champion."

Toval turned to see the thinned ranks of his team, mostly to his right, as he had blocked boys directly behind him in lines nine through twenty from stepping into his place. Most of the opposing team was sitting to the side along the sand. All were dirty, sweaty, and many had dark green bruises. There was even a trickle of blood here and there, which no boy dared dab away.

They were formed up by the instructors to march back to camp. Most assumed a heavy tired tread, but Toval and Sapik had a light jauntiness to their step and matched their stride to each other. Later, as they washed the sweat away with desert sand, Toval noticed that for the first time, Sapik seemed contented with his lot. This was a fine way to end their last full day at camp.


 

Toval's bag was packed and he was glad to be going home today. He thought he could now handle a lirpa if it was ever required of him, especially after having achieved the Green Star level. The patch had been handed to him with what he thought was a grudging formality, as if the instructor's thoughts were "surprisingly good for a half-breed". Sapik had looked on with sympathy biting his lip to hold back from verbal defense of his friend. And he accepted his own fourth level red star with a barely civil nod.

Now that he had mastered the lirpa, Toval wondered about other weapons used in the marriage challenge. Occasionally under the rules of some clans there was the option of the challenger bringing in his own favorite weapon as the second one used if the lirpa round went undecided. Due to the variety of weapons, there were no camps for other weapons that might be used in the marriage challenge. Few challenges went to a second round anyway. Toval thought he would ask his mother about the most popular secondary weapons when he got home. But maybe Uncle Soval would be a better source for this particular aspect of Vulcan history.

At mid morning, the instructors marched the boys to the train station as if it were another drill, even though they all wore civilian clothes again. Sapik kept pace with Toval and tried to converse, but Toval seemed lost in thought. By the time they were on the platform waiting for trains, Sapik had fallen silent in deference to Toval's mood. Toval acknowledged Sapik with an inclination of his head as they stood next to each other, their bags hanging from their shoulders. However, it was not an isolating silence, but a companionable one. Then the trains started arriving and the group of boys became smaller. Toval hefted his bag and stepped forward as his train arrived. But he turned to bid farewell to Sapik.

The boys gave each other the greeting/parting sign after assuring each other they would keep in touch. Toval had then watched Sapik walk away down the line of train cars, and board a car behind a different engine. The sight of the lonely boy walking away had slightly saddened Toval. Yet despite their incipient friendship, neither boy ever looked the other up after lirpa camp. Even on the train home from lirpa camp, Toval put all thoughts of Sapik out of his mind rather easily in his excitement to show his parents the Green Star he had earned.


Back at home, the young Toval found things much as they had been before he left for lirpa camp. There was something a bit different though, and Toval thought it might be himself.

"Toval, dinner's ready," announced Trip peering into his son's room.

Toval looked up from unpacking his camp bag which was lying on the floor in front of his bed where he was sitting.

"Hi, Dad. I thought you were going to come with Mom to pick me up at the train station."

"Um, sorry, Son." Trip entered the room and ruffled Toval's perfectly straight Vulcan haircut. "Something came up at work and I had to go there for an hour to straighten it out. The birth of a new warp engine is never an easy birth, even for Vulcan engineers under the guidance of your talented father."

Toval's eyes sparkled with appreciation for his father. "A Terran too clever for his own good, Uncle Soval calls you. And Grandpa Tucker always grumbles something about Terran brain drain to Vulcan companies. Is that true?"

Trip sat down next to Toval on the bed. "Son, the elders on both Vulcan and Earth always have strong opinions. But the warp technology will be shared by the entire Federation, so what does it matter where it is developed?"

Toval smoothed down the cowlick his father had created by mussing his hair and responded in a pouty voice. "I suppose where that engine is made doesn't matter much and also your not meeting the train doesn't matter much... accept to boys who want their fathers to be there...when they illogically want them to be there. What's for dinner?"

"Your mother has assembled your favorite foods. She noted the complaints in your one letter home from lirpa camp."

Toval jumped up from the bed. "I'm starved. Do you know what they were feeding us at that camp?"

Trip followed Toval to the dining room where T'Pol had laid the table more formally than normal. The family sat down together and food was passed around in silence. Toval lifted his spoon as soon as his mother nodded and began shoveling in plomeek soup as fast as his arm could move. As he noisily sucked it in, he reached for a piece of soft fresh-baked bread with his other hand.

Frowning, and breaking the general rule of silence for Vulcan meals, his mother said "Must you eat like a sehlat, Toval? Where are your table manners?"

His cheeks puffed out with bread, Toval managed to say "But I am very hungry, Mother, and your food is so good. You do not think I eat like this when I am with PEOPLE, do you?"

T'Pol's spoon stopped half way to her mouth. "Are WE not PEOPLE, your family that is sitting around this table?"

That seemed to stump Toval for a moment. "No, we are family, not people. I mean, yes, we are people, but we know too much about each other to try to pretend we are not hungry. Right?"

T'Pol looked at Trip and he understood he must answer this one. "Well, Toval, practice your good manners here at home so they come naturally when you do eat with...people."

Once silence was broken at a Vulcan table, conversation usually continued, so Trip attempted to change the subject. "Toval, what do you think of the lirpa as a weapon now that you have become acquainted with it?"

Toval's eyes widened and he put down his spoon. "A dual purpose weapon that is quite useful. We all got good at it and even got to try a real one...with the ax head in a thick sheath of course. But our instructor actually had a bout with another instructor with live steel lirpas!"

"Live steel?" Trip frowned.

"Yeah, Dad. Sharpened so the blade could cut even if you gently touched the edge. Those instructors are part of a reenactment group for ancient Vulcan lifestyles which camps out several times a year and eats that gritty hard bread and dresses like ancient Vulcan warriors. Only difference from us is that they drink that strong beer stuff they used to make back then. They wouldn't let US try that beer, though."

"I should hope not." T'Pol said. "If I had known what manner of people your instructors were, I would not have sent you to this camp. Reenactment of ancient Vulcan life styles? Are these people V'tosh Ku'tar?"

"Nooo, Mother. The V'tosh are actually very peaceful, my teacher at school says."

"Well, where did they get this reenactment idea?"

"It is copied from a Terran idea, Mother. That is what we learned at school about reenactment groups on Vulcan. And it is not just weapons, it is for experiencing all the technology and culture of the era, like ancient forms of weaving clothes and reinventing parts of lost rituals...mostly the not violent historical stuff. But when I asked my lirpa instructor about it being a Terran idea, he got all huffy and denied it."

Trip's eyes twinkled. "Well, Son, I don't think lirpa camp hurt you any. Right, T'Pol?"

T'Pol gave her husband the eye, but did not respond.

Trip continued, "At least our boy learned a practical skill and something more about his Vulcan culture. So, Toval, to return to my original question, how would you rate the lirpa?"

"Truthfully, Father? It is okay...for an ugly old stick. But next school break can I do something else? Do you think the Klingons have a bat'leth camp and would they let a Vulcan kid sign up for that? Now there is an elegant weapon!"

The rest of the meal continued in Vulcan fashion, mostly in silence.


Toval had always meant to contact Sapik, but his busy life just kept putting a brief but intense friendship to the bottom of the to-do list. Now and then, Sapik surfaced in Toval's thoughts, usually with foreboding because he considered Sapik would have a tough time in life. He was right. Thirty-five years later when he learned that Sapik's life had been ended at a marriage challenge, he was not surprised. On one of their late night talks at the camp, Sapik had told Toval of the match his parents had made for him which was socially above his station and into a clan whose women were known for their great attractiveness. Toval had correctly surmised that the choice made by Sapik's parents was almost certain to provoke a challenge for poor Sapik, who would be honor bound to comply with the ancient rules of the ritual.

Toval felt a twinge of guilt that he had not kept in touch with Sapik so he would have known of the upcoming marriage. He would have offered to serve as Sapik's second. Perhaps his presence might have given Sapik confidence enough to ... Well it was too late now. Sapik's death must have been a great disappointment to his parents who were the winners in their own marriage challenge. But Sapik had another brother and Toval never read about his demise, so he guessed the family survived to the next generation.

It may seem heartless, but Toval thought little about Sapik after his death except to make a mental note to send his own children to lirpa camp one day. To the adult Toval, it was not logical to spend much thought on Sapik, because what was done, was done, and could not be changed. And thinking about it tended to bring up strong undesirable emotions which opened certain cherished cultural practices to too much ethical scrutiny. If one was to survive in Vulcan culture, one had to deal with life in the Vulcan way, repressing the compassionate emotions and sense of Human fairness Toval had inherited from his beloved father.

The End

 

 

 


Comments:

Silverbullet

Greeks fought the same way. The Romans copied much from the Greeks and the Box formation of fighting suited them. It is great against an enemy who only fights for personal glory. They are usualy disorganized so a Box can withstand a charge by a larger force. That is why both the Greeks and Romans were able to conquer the Celts who fought individualy.

Stepping up to replace a fallen soldier was standard procedure as was steppping over the dead and wounded.

Linda

Thanks Cogito and Brandyjane.  Since by canon TOS, Spock thinks he is the first Human-Vulcan, somehow Trip and T'Pol's children were hidden.  As to Sapik, I feel that not all Vulcans would be confident and strong and I think people like Sapik gravitate toward stronger people who might be compassionate enough to shelter them in their friendship.   The part about battle lines forming up tightly to protect each other is right from the Roman technigues.  So is the stepping over the fallen guys.  But from what I read, the Romans put their best guys in the front lines, so I changed that with the Vulcans having their weakest or least socially valuable guys on the front lines.  I thought it kind of made sense in a logical but cruel way.  Glad you enjoyed the story!

Brandyjane

I really like the way you connected use of the lirpa in battle with ancient Roman techniques. 

Cogito

It's always enjoyable to get a glimpse of life on Vulcan, and you make it easy to believe this is what it's like. What a shame Trip has to hide in the shadows, I'd much rather think of him as the proud and respected father, but I can see how both parents want to give their son a chance to fit freely into Vulcan culture and not be marked as an alien. How ironic that his Vulcan friend finds the camp harder than he does. And I loved the Vulcan instructors getting huffy when he pointed out that the idea came from humans! Thanks for a little jem.

Linda

Hi, Alelou! I think the experience of Native American culture underlies all that I write about Vulcans and Humans. Though there are points of understanding, there will always be differences.   But the statements about reinactment groups come from my acquaintance with friends in the SCA and visits to Civil War and Rev War encampments.   And I was thinking that cultural exchange of ideas and borrowing of behaviors must necessarily go both ways between two cultures, no matter how domineering one of the cultures seems to be over the other one.   

Linda

I am glad you liked the dinner conversation, Distracted and Bluetiger.  I was giggling through the writing of it.  I felt a need to balance the death of Sapik with some humor. And Silverbullet, Sapik's intended would not call off the challenge any more than T'Pring would have with Spock.  Its the Vulcan way, as they say.  But I tried to throw hints in that perhaps Vulcans need to rethink this part of their culture, considering the poignancy of the deaths of people like poor Sapik.  Toval was on the verge of doing that at the end of the story but the strict traditions have a grip on him just as they do for most Vulcans.  It might take a second Surak to change them, hmmm?  And Mary, you stroke my ego mightily!  Yes I did a lot of thinking about the details in this story and I am glad they were noticed!

Alelou

His cheeks puffed out with bread, Toval managed to say "But I am very hungry, Mother, and your food is so good. You do not think I eat like this when I am with PEOPLE, do you?"  I love that whole exchange.  (And T'Pol is right!)

Very fully imagined.  I found myself wondering if your experience of pow wows and Native American culture had an influence on this story, especially the discussion about re-enactments.

bluetiger

I'm glad that Toval did himself proud at camp, winning the Green Star.

It was indeed sad on two accounts though, Sapik's death because the girl was above his station and that Trip and T'Pol were forced to hide their relationship for twenty years so they could live on Vulcan. Well come to think of it, I guess they had to hide it for their entire marriage.

I also loved the dinner conversation. No matter the species, a hungry boy is a hungry boy.

Mary

This is one of the most original stories that I've read. Not really TnT, but thats's okay. It was well engineered and interesting to read. Depth and background, bothrichly full of detail and insight into their son. Great story

Silverbullet

Nice story. Sounded a bit like boot Camp with weapons.

Sad that the friend got killed in the fight over a female. somthing like a bigger male driving off a smaller male from a desirable female beecuse he can.  the female had to declare the death match. why didn't she just tell him that the marriage ws off.  Seems a bit unfair that he had to die because he was not adept with the weapon.

Good story

Distracted

I was rolling during the post-camp dinner conversation.  Toval's request to go to bat'leth camp was priceless.  :D

Linda

Warpgirl, because Toval is half human, he uses human expressions picked up from his dad and grandpa now and then, though he tries terribly hard to be a good little Vulcan boy, LOL.

Thanks for the comments WarpGirl and Asso!

 

Asso

They are stories like this one, which are able to make people savour the reading.
Linda, your stories are unique. There is no one who has your originality.

WarpGirl

YAY It's up!!!! This is so much fun, I loved the concept, because I always thought it would be really weird if Vulcans weren't trained to use the ancient weapons and then suddenly had to use them for a Kail'fee. I mean where is the logic in that? So this was great. I have to admit when I saw the words "Geeze" and "Sissy" it threw me for a minute. Then I remebered they're speaking Vulcan not English so what we're reading is actually the evqivilant in our English. This was a wonderful snapshot into the milestones a child goes through to become an adult. BRAVO!

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