Millicent In the Ship
It was the hours long before dawn and yet still called morning as Millicent sat in the galley alone holding her head staring at the table. A bowl of fruit, the last of the season, was in front of her untouched. Rest eluded her and she thought a bit of food might distract her. It wasn’t working.
Charles voice intruded, “We have a guest.”
Millicent didn’t look up and said, “We don’t accept guests. Send them away. Non-lethal means.”
Charles said patiently, “It is John and Liam with Rachael’s father.”
Millicent’s gut churned. She was not ready for this. Nobody saw her ship unless they signed. Only that wasn’t true anymore. Rachael had. Liam had. Her head came up but her eyes were closed and her fists clenched, “Dammit, what were those idiots thinking?”
Charles said in a smooth tone, “That a daughter is hurt and her father wants to see her. Millicent, this is what happens.”
Millicent snapped at Charles, “I do not need this right now. Send them away.”
There was a pause and then Charles said simply, “No.”
Millicent stood up and said sharply, “What?”
Charles explained, “I will not send them away. You can do that, but I won’t. I don’t know what they’ve said, but it IS his daughter. You tell him he can’t see her. I will not.”
Millicent paced around the room, “What do I tell him about you?”
Charles replied, “You should worry what you will say about his daughter.”
Millicent stopped and closed her eyes and said, “I’m not ready for this.”
Charles said quietly, “No one ever is. No one should be. Liam and John will have said the right things. Mr. Weiz will be angry. He will be upset. But he will want to see her. If he even notices the ship, it won’t matter.”
Millicent delayed, “I am a mess. I haven’t showered. I haven’t changed.”
Charles said, “Millicent, that may be better. Wash your face and let them in. I will inform them you will be down shortly. “
Millicent cried out, “No you don’t you electronic bastard.” But there was only silence in response. She had never had to do this before. People were hurt and even died while on contract, but by then family relations had been broken off. She had never had to tell a parent, “I’m sorry, your child will never walk again. Bad slip. What happened? I sent her into this brawl and you know how things happen…” There was no training in the Guild to cover this.
At the Warehouse door
She moved to the sink and splashed her face and dried off. Her leathers were covered in dust and had burn marks. She smelled bad from working with the crew who were in the sewer. Her hair was unkempt. She tried to straighten it. Eventually she pulled it into a pony tail and headed out of the ship and to the warehouse door.
She straightened herself before the door and had Charles turn off lights. She opened the door. Liam and John stood on either side of the much shorter Mordechai Weiz. The small grizzled man held his hat. His eyes were red and rimmed with circles. He kneaded the hat as he looked up at Millicent and said quietly, “Where is Rachael?”
Millicent replied as calmly as she could, “Resting comfortably. Or as comfortably as possible. Her injury is serious.”
He waved the comment away, “They told me all that. You and I will talk later Miss Morgaine. Now, I see my daughter.”
Millicent closed her eyes trying to focus away from the hurt in the words, “Liam, what have you told Mr. Weiz about this place?”
John answered for him, “That there are things here are beyond imagination and those things shouldn’t be discussed with others. “
Weiz said sharply, “Yes. Yes… they told me to expect strange things. Let me see Rachael.”
Millicent sighed deeply and said, “You are right Mr. Weiz. I’ll take you to her. Please follow me. Charles, path lighting only. Guest mode.” When the men entered the warehouse the ship opening was illuminated as well as a path to the ship, but little else of the warehouse or its contents could be seen. Mordecai’s eyes got wide as they approached the ship and outlines became visible, but he said nothing.
Back Inside the Ship
Outside the medical bay door Millicent explained, “Rachael has a severe spine injury. We made her immobile to prevent further injury and to assist in healing.” She paused and then looked directly in to Mordecai’s eyes and said, “but she may never walk again.”
Mordechai looked back with a long face and a low voice said, “They said as much.”
Millicent said, “I am sorry. I not sure what to say.”
Mordecai said simply, “Let me see my daughter.”
The doors opened to show Rachael on the table. Straps held her down. A frame immobilized her head. Bottles of liquid drained into her veins. A mask covered her face. Strange machines surrounded her that flashed lights and beeped in strange alien tones.
Mordechai gasped, “What have you done to her?”
A feeble voice came from the table, “Daddy?”
Mordecai rushed to his daughter’s side. Millicent felt relief as his focus was now on his daughter.
Mordechai blurted out, “Oh Rachael. What happened?”
Rachael whispered, “We rescued Eleanor. In the mix up, someone pushed me and I fell. I fell bad.” Tears filled her eyes.
Mordecai stroked her hair through the frame and said, “We’ll get you to a real doctor honey…out of here.”
Rachael laughed weakly and then coughed and said, “I don’t think any hospital in England is better than this place…”
Liam touched Millicent’s arm and he guided her out of the room. John nodded as the two passed and then he moved to supply a stool for the old man as he talked to his daughter.
In the hall, Liam said, “The man needs some time with his daughter. John can tell if something is wrong.” The lights flashed red in an angry pattern.
Millicent smiled faintly, “Don’t be offended, Charles. It is a good cover and one less thing to explain.”
Liam said, “So we should find a place to wait while they talk.”
In the Galley with Liam
Millicent said, “Some tea might be good at this point. It is almost morning anyway.”
Liam said with a crook in his mouth, “Sure you don’t want something stronger?”
Millicent said sadly, “I had that earlier. Tea and company is better now.” The two headed up to the galley. Millicent busied herself with the tea preparation. As the Assam blend of smoke and spices filled the room, she closed her eyes and said, “Thank you for talking to him first.”
Liam poured himself a cup and mixed the milk and sugar in. He said, “Still angry with me bringing him?”
Millicent opened her eyes and prepared her own cup and said, “I might be but Charles agrees with you. It seems he has more experience with situations like this. It also seems that there are subroutines that let him ignore me.”
Liam sipped his tea. “Charlie knows these things. Once we told Rachael’s father, there was no choice.”
Millicent said, “He’s here. We will figure out something. I won’t ask how he took your news. Do I need to wear body armor when I see him next?”
Liam sighed and set his cup down, “We tried to explain what happened, but there are no good words. Maybe Rachael talking to him will help. What is going to happen to her?”
Millicent closed her eyes and inhaled the tea aroma and said,” She learns to live without her legs.”
Liam waved his hands around and said, “All this…magic and you can’t fix her?”
Millicent put her cup down and said quietly, “No, I can’t. I might know someone who can try, but this is bad. It could have been worse, much worse but this is bad enough.”
Liam leaned back and said, “Worse? How?”
“She could have not have her arms or she could need a breathing machine or she could be dead. I won’t say that to Mr. Weiz. But if this injury had happened on Eleanor Woodson’s factory floor, IF Rachael would have survived and I say if, she would have starved. Rachael will survive and she will NOT starve.”
Millicent and Mordechai Talk
The lights flashed in the galley. Millicent guessed the meaning and said, “Guide them up here.”
A few moments later, John and Mordechai arrived. John showed the man to a seat. He seemed more beaten by age than he had when he arrived at the warehouse door. Millicent poured some tea for him. He mixed the cream and sugar in and sipped it.
Mordechai stared at the cup as he spoke, “Rachael told me a bit more. Said she volunteered.”
Liam spoke up, “Millicent told her to take you on a holiday; that it wasn’t her fight. But she wouldn’t have any of that.”
Mordechai said quietly, “I trusted her to you.”
Millicent winced at the words. She drank her own tea and stared at the table wishing for answers that weren’t there. She said, “I let her down and I failed your trust. It was rushed and they weren’t ready for that sort of thing.”
At that point, Eleanor Woodson and Simone Campbell came to the galley and sat. Eleanor said, “I am the person they were rescuing and they saved two of us. My name is Eleanor Woodson.”
Mordechai eyed her but said nothing.
Eleanor continued, “Rachael and I did some work together at school. She is quite brilliant with those hands. And she has an eye for how to transfer energy in a machine.”
Mordechai smiled a little, “You should see my shop and the doorbell, “ and his voice caught.
Eleanor said gently, “Maybe Rachael can show me and Simone when she is up and about.”
Mordechai winced a bit and said, “I didn’t think she was going to ‘up and about’ anymore.”
Millicent said, “Her legs won’t work, but the rest of her will recover fully. I am not ready to sing a Kiddish for her yet. In a few weeks, she should be ok for trips.” She looked around the table and mused, “Good lord, Mordechai. Look at the engineers in this room and Rachael’s own ability. Can you imagine the wheel chair they will make?”
Mordechai laughed heartily for a moment and that dissolved into tears. Eleanor got up and hugged him surrounding him with her giant frame. Simone said, “I am truly grateful, Mr. Weiz. I know it may not matter to you right now. But she saved me from something you cannot imagine. Please know that my life would be over without her help.“ His shoulders shook as the fear, uncertainty and grief swept over him.
Millicent said, “Mr. Weiz, spend the night here. She will want to see you. Tomorrow, Liam can take you home and you are welcome to stop by anytime while Rachael is recovering.” The lights flickered once and Millicent said quietly, “You were right as usual, Charles.”