three days later:
The teachers and the children walked into the empty holodeck.
"Computer activate program Grace Beta 112," Jacqueline ordered.
The hologrid disappeared, the stage took its place. The walls flickered back and forth to the grid.
"Warning, file is corrupt," the computer said in a distorted voice.
"Ok then cancel and run repairs," Grace muttered.
"Unable to comply," the computer stuttered.
The entire stage area continued flickering on and off, then the entire area turned black.
"Ok... scared of the dark here," Linsey mumbled.
"What a wuss," Carl muttered.
Bright light shone in everyone's eyes as the program turned into the outdoors. The sun beat down on them, the atmosphere was sandy and humid.
The grown ups were the first to adjust to the light. They appeared to be in a sandy desert town that looked like it was made of sand stone buildings. Right next to them was a seemingly never ending line of the hologrid on the ground. On the other side there lay grass and muddy puddles, that side it appeared to be raining heavily.
"God I'm hot," Johnathan groaned. He jumped over the line into a dirty puddle. Grace widened her eyes, she quickly pulled him back where he was.
"Don't, we don't know what to expect."
Duncan turned around so he could follow the hologrid line with his eyes. It did appear to go on for a few miles into the desert, the other side went through a kilometre or so of a muddy graveyard, empty countryside and then a large old fashioned city. In the distance they could see both sceneries changing into a completely different one.
"This is screwy," he muttered.
"No kidding," Trinity said, pointing at the city of rain. "That's Paris, it's on fire." A lot of the kids, and the adults turned to look towards where she was pointing. From where they were they could see Notre Dame, a stone castle on top of hill, but no Eiffel Tower. Huge clouds of black sat over the city, flames had engulfed most of the buildings there.
"Are you sure it's Paris, cool?" Carl said.
"I think we'll be better off in the sunny town," Johnathan said as he jumped back into the sunlight.
"If the safeties are off we should take shelter, the children could all get sunburned and dehydrated easily out here," Joan said.
"Good idea, but we don't know where we can go to stay neutral in these merging of programs," Jacqueline said. She tapped her commbadge, "Engineering? We need some assistance in the Holodeck." Of course there was no response.
Grace sighed, "great, now what."
"I say being neutral is the best option. All the programs will play themselves out on their own, then they will end," Jacqueline said.
"But if we find the aim of the game, we can get out quicker," Heidi said.
"I don't want to risk any injuries, the safeties could be off," Joan said.
Duncan put his hand above his eyes to block out the direct sunlight, he pointed towards Paris. "Uh we have company." Everyone turned to see a group of soldiers armed with bows, arrows and swords heading toward them on horses. They were lead by an evil tall man on the only white horse. The teachers gestured all the children to stand a metre at least behind them while they faced the holograms.
"Look what we have here," the man said in the more commonly known English accent. The teachers looked a bit confused. "We either have trespassers-to-be, or traitors going to the other side."
"So the programme's decided for us," Joan whispered. "It's obviously not a program that takes itself seriously."
Jacqueline stepped forward, "listen, we're just taking the children on a school trip."
"To the enemy's territory, during a war. I don't think so," the evil Englishman snarled. "Lock 'em up."
"On what charge!" Jacqueline demanded.
"Either leading children to our enemies for slavery, which would be typical behaviour for those sand dwellers. Or conspiracy to trespassing. I haven't decided yet," the evil Englishman smiled deviously.
"You'd lock children away?" Joan questioned.
"No, just the guardians," the evil Englishman replied. Some of his soldiers jumped down from their horses, marched into the sun to grab the teachers.
"What should we do with the children?" the blonde soldier who wore a fancier uniform to the other lackies, asked the evil Englishman.
"Mmm, see if they're from our enemies side or if they know or are witches or gypsies. I do have a gypsy witch to find," he replied.
"I don't think so," a young man's voice bellowed heroically. Everyone looked to find the source, which came from a teenaged boy standing behind the children. He sported messy black hair, and wore a small filthy over coat style jacket, and baggy white trousers. A small monkey jumped onto his shoulders.
The evil Englishman snarled, "Aladdin. Don't you think you should get back to your own business."
"No, your good guys are on the run or are torn to which side they are on, no thanks to you," the boy replied, putting his hands on his hips and eyeing the blonde soldier suspiciously. "Let these innocent children go, Frodo."
"I'll decide whether they're innocent or not," the evil Englishman snapped. He pointed at Trinity, "she has the skin colour of the gypsies, lock her up too."
"Huh, gypsies?" Trinity squeaked, looking confused.
"But sir, she isn't dressed like one. You can't keep locking away black skinned people without proof," the blonde man protested.
"She's not black you moron," Duncan said, frowning in confusion. "She's got brown skin, but black would be so cool."
"Why do you want witches too, nothing wrong with them," Linsey asked.
"They're evil, in line with the devil. You asking that question is enough of a confession for me, lock her up too Phoebus," Frodo snarled.
"Sir, they're just kids," the blonde man protested.
"I'm not a witch, I just think they're cool," Linsey pouted.
Duncan nodded his head, "it's true. If she were a witch she'd do a spell to make herself less annoying, or make us able to put up with her." Linsey glared at him.
"Ugh, just get the witch detector out," Frodo sighed. One soldier on cue pulled out a futuristic device that looked out of place to the group.
"Wait a minute!" Grace struggled in two soldiers' grips. "I thought this was something like the eighteenth century, or something."
"Oh we stole it from our futuristic neighbours," Frodo said. "Take the witch sympathiser, just in case."
"Why are you taking witches? They're only evil if they're brought back from being dead," Heidi said.
"You know too much, her too. Keep a close eye on her, there's another one exactly like her," Frodo said, eyeing Britney suspiciously.
The guy with the scanner scanned her, he moved on to his last subject, Sasha. "She's not but she could be, genes and all..."
"I'm not wearing any jeans," Sasha quietly said.
The soldier stared blankly, "uh... what is she mistaking genes for? Anyway her brother and sister don't seem to have that... er gene thing, what's it called?"
Frodo rolled his eyes. "Who gives a damn? If there's a slight chance of it, take her."
"Uh..." Aladdin cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "I don't think so." Frodo groaned as he pulled out a gun, he shot Aladdin dead a second later.
"That boy just bugs me," he snarled. Everyone that wasn't a hologram stared blankly toward him. "Yes we stole guns too, from our other neighbours."
"But without him Jafar could easily beat us," one soldier commented.
"You know as well as I do that a villain can't have his arch nemesis dead," Frodo muttered. "Gather up all the kids I wanted locked up, and lets go. The rest of the children can wander the streets for all I care." He rode his own horse away, leaving his lackies to do the rest of the work.
The teachers were lead away first. Some of the remaining soldiers grabbed one child each that was mentioned, well with Sasha one tried too. Duncan kicked him hard in the kneecap, he began jumping around on his good leg, cradling the bad one. "Aaaah, you little brat!" Other soldiers pointed their bows and arrows toward them both. Duncan held onto his little sister anyway as another soldier carefully approached.
"Now son if you don't let go, you'll both be executed right here..." one soldier said.
Phoebus grunted in disgust, he marched forward to pull that man back. "Not under my command."
The soldier who held Trinity made the mistake of noticing Miral, and kneeling in front of her. "Aaaw, aren't you the cutest of them all?" Miral just glared at him for a short while, before he knew what was happening she headbutted him right in the nose. Most of the soldiers laughed at the unfortunate soldier as he stumbled to his feet, one hand cradling his bloody nose.
Miral giggled cutely, the men immediately stopped laughing and looked at her. In unison they did the usual, "aaaaw."
"It's times like these that make you feel un cute," Trinity commented.
Phoebus shook his head, he looked back at Duncan and Sasha. During the slight distraction he had moved to stand directly in front of her. "I promise she won't be harmed, or the others. I won't let this continue any longer."
"Carl's over there," Duncan said, pointing at Carl. "He's the idiot of the group, not me."
Johnathan grinned, "neat, it's usually me..." He laughed in Carl's direction, "ha loser."
Nobody noticed little Amy crawling up to Phoebus. She sat beside his feet, and looked up at him before slamming her fist down onto his foot. He did the same as the soldier who had tried to grab Sasha earlier. Duncan groaned, he rushed forward to pull his youngest sister away so she wouldn't get trampled. As he did the soldier who threatened to fire arrows at them both grabbed Sasha, and ran to rejoin the others.
"Hey, come back!" Duncan yelled as loud as he could. The soldiers quickly rode off, minus Phoebus anyway. "Just wait, I'll stick those arrows into your uptight a**es!"
"Ouch, that would hurt," Carl commented.
"Why couldn't they take him instead?" Miral asked.
Phoebus looked toward the remaining children after he climbed onto his own horse. "If I were you, I'd stay on the desert side. It's safer, just find shelter." He turned to follow the rest.
"What do we do now?" Scott asked.
"We have to play out the program. If safeties are off they could die," Britney quietly said.
"No way, really?" Carl said in shock.
"Yeah the witch suspects get burned, and traitors or trespassers... I dunno, probably death too," Britney said. She pouted, "I know my sisters are annoying but I don't want them to die." Her baby sister Holly pouted along with her like she agreed.
Miral growled to herself, then glanced at Amy who looked like she was going to cry any second. "I should've kicked more butt."
"I'm sowwy, it's my fault," Amy said.
"No, he was trying to trick us. You just did what I kinda wanted to do," Duncan muttered.
"Can we go somewhere else, it's really hot here," Holly moaned.
Carl and Johnathan both raised their hands, "I call leader!" They glanced at each other, "damn!"
"Fine you can lead each other," Duncan said, shaking his head. He, Amy, Britney, Scott and Holly headed toward the nearby town. Miral stood in a huff as Johnathan and Carl began to walk passed her to do the same.
Johnathan stopped, "come on, there might be more guys you can headbutt in the town."
Miral reluctantly followed him.
"There seems to be a problem with Holodeck Two," Jodie said. "Controls are not responding."
"When is it ever working?" Tom groaned. "The children are in there for god's sake."
Jessie frowned as she looked up from her station. "What was that?"
"Nothing, Jodie broke a nail," Tom blurted out.
Jodie snarled at him, "shush, don't tell everybody!"
Jessie rolled her eyes, "ugh god, going to Red Alert." She wasn't kidding either, the lights dimmed and the red lights started to flash on and off.
"Funny Jess, not too long ago you would of actually called a Red Alert if it was your nails," Tom said.
Jessie sighed and smiled, "Tom you're losing it, you must be getting old."
Tom stood up so he could turn and look at her, "what?"
"Your ability to even amuse yourself with your own comments," Jessie replied.
Tom widened his eyes, "oh god... surely there must be something higher than Red Alert."
"Maybe Grey Alert," Jessie smiled.
"Don't be stupid, I'm nowhere near that old," Tom muttered. He sat back down, when he was sure that she couldn't see him fully, he pulled out a small mirror.
Jodie shook her head, "Jess the real emergency was the Holodeck that the kids are in is playing up. I've already notified Engineering."
"Ugh... don't tell James, he'll start thinking this Christmas is cursed too," Jessie muttered. "I'll go down."
"Um do you know anything about Holodecks?" Jodie asked.
"No but I'm good at encouraging people to work faster and better," Jessie replied. She shuddered slightly, "eugh even dead or missing Danny can effect me." She rushed into the nearest turbolift.
The three teachers now were chained to a stone wall, obviously waiting for something horrible to happen.
"So we've counted at least four different programs," Grace sighed.
"Yes, one appeared to be Aladdin, the others are not yet known," Joan muttered. "We have to get out of here, the children are at risk."
"Well the ones accused of being witches are, yes," Grace said.