This article originally appeared in Issue #011 of the downloadable PDF magazine.
Gwen “Aunt Molly” Polaneczky (8A9856)
Human Female Age 42
7 Terms ‘Bookie’
Vacc Suit-0, Brawling-0, Computer-2, Handgun-1, Gambling-4, Bribery-2, Streetwise-3, Carousing-2, Small Watercraft-2, Stealth-1, Bake Cookies-4, Bowling-2
Gwen’s parents were killed in a shuttle mishap at Waterston Station (in orbit around gloomy Hargrave). For several years following, the girl was raised by a succession of even-more-distant and uninterested relatives until left to fend for herself on the busy, crowded streets of windy, storm-battered Port Royale.
There was a craggy-faced, limping old lady with long grey hair in the neighborhood, whom everyone called The Babba Yagga. On many occasions, she would stop to have a conversation with young Gwen. Such conversations would usually end with the green-coated hag giving Gwen a few Credits to get by. Other times The Babba Yagga would pay her for running errands—most notably the crossing of busy Radinson Avenue to the Bodega and back to bring the old lady a bottle of her favorite Rye, Old Newshound.
This time, however, instead of the usual 5 or 10Cr note, the fierce-looking, crone offered Gwen a place to stay—as long as the kid didn’t upset her plethora of cats.
With so many different people with so many different names raising her, Gwen used whatever last name came to her as needed, but honestly, she’d confided with old Marishka (The Babba Yagga to you!), she wasn’t really sure just what her last name was. The two discussed it off and on over time, until one day Marishka decided. “I’m raising you now, child. My last name, Polaneczky. It’s a good name, girl. I give to you —Gwen Polaneczky” the cat lady bowed slightly and took Gwen’s hand as if they’d just met. “I am The Babba Yagga. That is my name.” The old lady smiled.
While bets could easily be taken via computer or her communications setup, the Babba Yagga still liked to serve the locals personally; see the faces, have a shot, pass along some sagely advice, what have you. However, time had been silently working its magic, and getting around was becoming harder and harder. So at 14, Gwen began going around the neighborhood, and became the face of The Babba Yagga.
Gwen had always liked baking cookies (Snickerdoodles mostly, but also Chocolate Chip, and sometimes Chess Squares—Marishka’s favorites), and started bringing some around on her face-to-face visits with the locals. One of the first locals to receive Gwen’s cookies enthusiastically consumed them, saying how much they reminded him of his Aunt Molly’s. Several others heard the comment and that was it. Gwen started being called “Aunt Molly”.
Mama Marishka would bring Molly along on the annual trip to see the old crone’s brother at the Hazelton Undersea Arcology, some 500km as the crow flies (and nothing short of the occasional visiting starship flies in Hargrave’s roiling, grey-black, lightning filled blender of a sky). Molly soon learned to pilot the little submersible along its circuitous route, avoiding Hargrave’s tricky, unpredictable tides, fierce surface storms, submerged mountains, giant reefs and shoals by following deeply-dredged pathways.
Molly is a small, pale, slip of a woman, with large, blue-gray eyes and blond hair kept in a ponytail. While The Babba Yagga was known as much for her grizzled appearance as her worn, green housecoat, Molly can usually be seen wearing a heavy leather duster made from authentic Earth cowhide to ward off the dreadful weather. Molly has never been offworld, or even into orbit (not that she can remember, anyways, as she was only 3 when her parents were killed) and has no interest to do so.
While she has acquired an encyclopedic knowledge of most sports over the years, Molly herself enjoys watching the Dog Races, and she loves to bowl—though her skills are really nothing to write home about.
Sometimes customers welch. When a stranger did it, it was handled efficiently by various means. But when a local did it, The Babba Yagga had always told Gwen it was like someone taking your trust in them and spitting on it. Now when the old lady came around to collect, her disheartening appearance would often be enough. If not, there were any number of nephews that made it their business to relentlessly grind whatever they could from the mark; sometimes doing a little body and fender work as needed.
Molly on the other hand—pretty, fine-boned, petite—lacking any intimidation value whatsoever, always tries to be nice and polite. Conversation is friendly, but business is business after all. If a local thinks he can welch on her and get away with it, Molly may well be pushed to the point where she'll ask “Do we really need to take this to The Babba Yagga?” (Who is in fact, retired. But no one needs to know that). At which point the joker will usually see the light. If not, well, Molly has several nephews of her own. Occasionally things have degenerated to the point that Molly has been forced to draw her big, lethal-looking snub pistol, and say “Don’t make me kill you!” (Molly has never killed anyone—though that shouldn’t be confused with getting shot.)
Molly may be encountered anywhere around Port Royale, one of the undersea arcologies, or what could generously be called the Starport at Hendrix.