The Splicer, The Children & Edna Johnson
Aja worked with several engineers for a couple of weeks. She had an idea for keeping vessels from being boarded in the event of a losing sea battle. It would be a last line of defense. Inside the railings of the latest ship "The Splicer" were scanners built in. If a person's DNA print was not in the database, that person would receive one hell of an electric shock.
In the building stage, it was turned way down because a few men not part of the build team had tried to come aboard to borrow tools and were knocked on their arses. Aja had warned them and laughed her head off when it would happen.
"I told you.." she"d say with a big grin. "You don't listen to the captain, this is what you get." then she would go about her work, letting the crew member get helped to Parker"s for evaluation. Parker would scold her later of course, but she would remind him that she had told the yards employees twice now not to attempt to board that vessel without clearance. If they chose to ignore that warning, they deserved what they got.
Aja wasn"t without sympathy, she just saw it as a simple matter of consequences for not heeding a warning given.
On this particular day, Aja was hanging upside down off the ratlines installing a few sensors into the mast so the security net would also cover any attempts from above at getting aboard the ship. Parker stood below and looked around for her. It never occurred to him to look up. She grinned and lowered herself down silently, slowing and stopping just above his head.
"Lookin fer me, Paker?" she said with a grin and predictably he jumped. He looked up as she came down further and gracefully touched down on deck.
"Merciful Zeus, child. You scared me."
"I know. It was funny." she said undoing her harness. "What do you need?"
"I need your approval to send some tests to Riverview for evaluation."
"Parker, ya don't need my approval fer dat stuff. So what do ya really want?" she watched her normally stoic mage make a face. "Ya, didn't think that one through, did ya? Busted." she put the harness on a hook. "So. Jig’s up. What's the problem?"
"You know I wouldn’t speak ill of a lady..." Parker started to say and Aja smirked a little.
"What’s Edna done now?"
"She's been scaring the children in the waiting rooms." Parker said quietly. "Those that are not quite fully human."
"Oh dear lord. Let me guess, she calls them an abomination and other such nonsense?" Aja guessed and Parker nodded making Aja sigh. "I’m on it."
"How shall you handle this?" Parker asked curious.
"I might jist shoot her. But then you'd get all fussy cranky and insist that I shouldn't jist shoot people for being a colossal pain in the tookus, then I"ll have to send the crackpot flowers and she"ll think her behavior is completely ok and jist do it all over again."
"Since when do you ever listen to me?"
"I can't tell ya that." She smiled and kissed his cheek. "I'll figure something out, Parker." she paused. "Is there some sort of time that she chooses to show up?"
"On Wednesdays during the children's clinic hours."
"Crabby old broad." Aja muttered. "I oughta introduce her ta...Oh. Hang on." Aja grinned brightly. "I think I got it."
"You really aren't going to shoot her, are you?" Parker asked a little wary when Aja got that sort of smile. Aja sometimes came up with creative ways to deal with people she found to be troublesome. Something that sometimes led to the target of such, becoming very unhappy.
"No. Jist thinking of a particular young person who seems ta have a knack at handling cranky, stupid people."
"Young Miss Harker?"
"Yep. Mini mate has a talent fer putting adults in their place." Aja just smiled proudly. "A trait I greatly admire. And it's been a while since Mini Mate has come fer a visit."
"That is far too much to ask of Miss Harker."
"Trust me, Parker. If Mini mate doesn't want ta do something, I certainly wouldn't ask her to do it. But she does come visit the children in the waiting room from time to time to help them feel better about seeing ya. If Edna were to stop by at dat time, well" I would bet ya one hundred plat that old Edna would get her arse handed ta ‘er on a platter by Mini Mate if she started to verbally abuse the children in Maggie’s presence."
--The Next Wednesday: Mini Mate Visits the Children
Maggie was wearing the hat of the week, a battered fedora, as she let go of her mother"s hand. "I"ll be fine. I know, I know, manners. Always with the manners!" She grinned and reached for the doorknob.
Rhiannon smiled and shook her head slightly. "It never hurts to remember them." She kissed Maggie"s cheek. "I"ll be back to pick you up. If you"re ready before I get back, you know what to do. Right?"
Maggie held up her right arm. The bracelet glinted in the sunlight. "I use this!" She waved to her mother and stepped into waiting room. She headed for the reception desk to check in. Roberrie was adding names to the patient list for the day. Maggie offered a cheerful, "Hello!" as she set her backpack on the floor and wrote her name down as being present. She didn't wait for instructions, she grabbed up her pack and headed for a bunch of preschoolers that were parked in the indoor play area. "Does anybody want to hear a story?"
Several heads turned as she spoke. Those that recognized her smiled and answered, "Yes!" A few other children were playing with blocks and puzzles.
"I have a couple of books with me. Do you want a fairy tale, a princess story, or a spooky story?"
"Do you know Cinderella?" one girl asked.
A boy muttered, "That’s too girly!"
"How about three bears?" Maggie asked. "It's got a girl in it, but it's mostly about the bears."
A little blonde girl asked, "Are you going to play the bears and stuff again?" Her eyes lit up.
"I sure can!" Maggie was used to telling stories to Abby and Madison, who were used to the full spectrum of her story telling. Voices, puppets, and special effects. Some of the children in Parker"s care might not have been prepared for that. Maggie pulled three plush bears in graduated sizes from her pack. "Ok, are we ready?"
"Let's go!" a redheaded boy chanted from one of the rocking chairs.
"Once upon a time, there was a girl called Goldilocks." She gestured to the blonde girl. "She had hair like Lucy"s, all yellow and gold!"
"Like me?" Lucy"s grey eyes lit up.
"Yes, like you!" Maggie grinned and opened the popup book to show the page of Goldilocks walking through the woods. She made a walking motion with her fingers and the doll like figure seemed to dance across the page. That was greeted with ooos and ahhs from the children. "Just remember, nothing you see me do here will hurt you. Don't be afraid." Maggie held her hands over the book, which had been placed on the floor, and moved her hands over it. The forest scene grew larger. Every child now had a clear view of the staging area. Slowly, she turned the page.
"What comes next?"
"This is the bears" house!" Maggie showed a small cottage at the edge of the woods. "Most real bears don"t live in houses. They usually live in dens or zoos."
"What"s a bear den?" A green eyed boy asked.
"You what a cave is?" asked Maggie.
"A bear den is a cave that bears live in." Maggie nodded sagely.
"Ok. Can you read more now?"
"Sure!" Maggie moved the plush bears into the scenery. "The big bear is the Papa Bear. The middle sized one is the Mama. The itty bitty one is the baby!"
"Wait a minute!" Sally waved at Maggie. "What about Brother and Sister Bear?"
Maggie smiled. Someone had been reading some of her favorite stories. "They don't live in this forest. They live in Bear Country."
"Oh! Ok!" Sally leaned forward to get a better look at the bears.
"The bears were going to have breakfast, but the porridge was too hot!"
Another question came from a boy with gently pointed ears, "What's porridge?"
"It's hot cereal like oatmeal." Maggie suddenly understood how her parents felt when she was on a roll with question after question.
One of the mother"s came to gather up her two children. It was their turn to visit with Parker. Maggie like to think of it as visiting, it sounded better that way. Less frightening. She knew that it Parker was as gentle as possible with the little ones, but they didn't always know that.
"So anyway, they went for a walk to let their breakfast cool. And while they were gone ..." Again she moved her fingers. The page turned and it showed Goldilocks knocking on the bears" door. "She waited, but when nobody answered," she folded down the cottage and showed the inside, "she went in."
"That's rude!" shouted an older girl from the back of the playroom. "She wasn't invited!"
Across the room, one of boys was trying out his fledgling magic and making the blocks float. His playmate was wide eyed with wonder. "Look! He did!" she squealed with delight.
------------------------------Cut to Aja--------------
Aja stayed high up on the guards wall, keeping an eye on the kids covertly and also watching to see if Edna would be showing up. Wednesdays had become known for being a whole day of medical attention for the children in the area. Parker and his associates took great pains to assure the children they were there to help them and not hurt them. Maggie"s appearances also seemed to help ease the minds of the children there to receive treatment.
Maggie had a special talent at making the children feel better about having to see a doctor. Sometimes, Riddle or Peanut would join Maggie in her Wednesday visits to the clinic. Which all the children seemed to also like.
She was leaning on the wall looking around the city and low and behold. Edna was seen coming down the street, Aja started giggling as a song that accompanied the appearance of the wicked witch from the movie with munchin people started to play in her head.
"Well, this is gonna be fun." Aja smirked and went into the guard house with the special monitors that kept an eye on the inside of Parker"s waiting room and the playground areas. Complete with audio, Aja could be close by should she need to intervene.
Edna entered Parker"s office and looked around, Aja noted that Edna didn't even appear to try to have a cover to explain why she was there on a Wednesday.
----------------And back in the play yard---------------------------
Maggie paused in her tale to get a better look. "Hey, that's pretty good!" Other children made their way over to see what was going on.
Edna stepped out in time to catch the child displaying his magical abilities.
"Parker Madison! Just what sort of freak show are you running here!" she called out which brought Parker out of his office.
The woman"s voice succeeded in frightening the boy and caused him to lose concentration. He sobbed with frustration. Maggie put a protective arm around his shoulders. "It's ok. You can try again."
"Edna, I do wish you would simply stop coming unannounced on Wednesdays. It is a childrens clinic."
"I think you don't want me to see what sort of abominations are you treating here. This is a place for normal children."
And somewhere above the conversation, in a room with monitors, there was a pirate snickering her head off at what was likely to happen next.
Those children that understood the words Edna said or her tone were in various stages of anger and fear. Maggie understood, she"d heard them plenty of times. Edna was something she had learned to cope with sometime ago, a bully. Maggie whispered something to the boy next to her, hugged him and got to her feet. "Sally, you know the story, would like to finish reading for me?"
That was a first, the children had never seen Maggie pause that way. They had never seen her there when Edna was, either. Sally took up the task of reading, but a few children were watching Maggie as she dusted off the back of her pants with her hands. She kept her tone polite as she got to Edna. "Excuse me, but what"s normal?"
Edna had been getting ready to say something to Parker when she heard the question come. She turned her attention then to Maggie.
"Normal is what used to inhabit this town before all the riff raff moved in. Now we have mages and mind readers and those that could harm the innocent of this town with a mere thought. No one is safe anymore." Edna sniffed haughtily. So sure that she was right here.
Maggie set her jaw as she considered those words. "You know, some people are good until people tell them they are bad. So they do what they think is expected of them."
Edna was so flabbergasted that she looked at Parker. Who merely smiled at her and pointed her towards the door.
"As I said, this is a place for children. Which you are not. Come during adult office hours if you have a medical issue."
Maggie eyed up Edna, clearly the girl had more to say. "Do I look normal to you?"
Edna was now clearly confused.
"Of course you look normal. As does that one there, clearly he is not. Making blocks float."
"My grandma says, "looks can be deceiving." Just like you look like a nice lady, but you don't act like a nice lady at all."
"Well, I never!" Edna exclaimed and turned for the door. "I shall speak to Aja about this." and she stormed to the door and out.
"Excuse me." She said to Parker as she followed Edna out. She would not stand for what seemed to be a bitter woman bullying a bunch of children because they weren't the same as her.
Out on the street, Aja waited leaning against a lamp post near the doorway of the clinic. She had heard enough and gotten herself down to street level on the double to catch Edna upon her exit.
She didn't have to wait long as Edna came out, followed by Mini Mate. She tried desperately to hide a smirk, but she ended up having to look at the ground a moment to regain her composure.
"Well, well.. Edna Johnson" As I live and breathe. Ya do know yer not a kid, yeah?" Aja nodded to the door and gave Maggie a wink in the process. "Whut sort of business would ya have fer visitin Parker's today? Ya look fine ta me. Not da least bit sickly...physically speakin. Of course."
"Did you know what sort of children Parker is treating in there? Freaks!"
"Oooh really now?" Aja glanced around Edna to Maggie. "Any freaks in there, Mini Mate?"
Maggie cleared her throat and resisted the urge to say Not anymore. "No, just a bunch of little kids and their parents. There was a "" she paused, "rude person in there, but she left."
While Maggie thought of a different way to phrase what she was thinking, the "not anymore" thought got through making Aja smirk.
"Well. Mini Mate says there ain't no freaks. So. Ya wanna try again, Edna?" Aja came up off the lamp post and stepped closer to Mrs. Johnson. "Apparently there was a high and mighty, pain in my arse that likes ta stick her nose where it don't belong." Edna was now sputtering a bit as she tried to come up with a suitable reply.
Maggie lowered one brow as she listened to Aja and Edna. She raised her hand like she was taught in school. It was effective when grown ups were talking and she needed to say something.
"Yes, Mini Mate?" Aja raised a finger in Edna"s ever reddening face as she addressed Maggie.
"I really need to tell Mrs. Johnson something important." She waited a moment.
"By all means, Mini Mate. Ya has da bridge." Aja motioned like a game show assistant when she said it. Making it clear to Edna that Maggie had her full support. Edna certainly looked displeased by this.
"Mrs Johnson, normal is different for different people. You gotta learn to live with that. You got no business callin" kids freaks because they"re different than you. In some places, people would call you a freak." Maggie lowered one brow as she studied Edna. "Just a word of advice from a kid that isn't as normal as you think I am, it's not a good idea to make people angry that can do all the things you said. Especially not little kids that haven't learned how to use what they were born with." She took a breath. "Try being nice to people for once in your life, you might be liked instead of being the scary crabby lady that frightens innocent little children!"
"And out of da mouths of babes." Aja beamed a proud smile then turned her attention to Edna. "Mini mate is far more polite than I would"ve been. I see yer sorry old behind here one more time on children's day, ya ain't gonna like whut happens ta ya." Aja poked at Edna"s shoulder. "Ya"d do well ta take a lesson from Miss Maggie here. People think yer a freak. I'm inclined most days ta agree." Edna sputtered trying to come up with something in reply but the words wisely never left her lips. "Now git yer butt back home "fore I let Mini Mate practice her sword skill on ya."
As Edna turned away in a huff, Maggie turned to Aja and said, "If I was a mean kid, I'd be asking for help with setting fireworks up over at her house."
"Tell ya whut, Edna shows up next Wednesday. I'll let ya do jist that." Edna"s jaw dropped. "Ya been warned, Edna. Scoot." Aja waved her along. "Go on." suddenly applause broke out on the street, making Aja glance over. They had gathered quite an audience it seemed and most seemed to enjoy the show. Edna turned several shades of red then turned around and practically marched down the street towards her house.
Aja raised her hand for a high five with Maggie.
"Nicely done, Kiddo." she grinned. "Yer so my favorite niece."
Maggie gave that high five with jubilation. "You're my favorite Captain!" She grinned.
"Now, weren't ya in da middle of a lively bear story? We shouldn't keep our friends waiting ta hear how it ends." Aja patted Maggie on the shoulder lightly, glancing to see Edna steadily making her way down the street for home.