Uncreative Disclaimer #11: The author does not own the amazingly awesome Amazing Agent Luna. That belongs to Nunzio DeFillipis, Cristina Weir, Shiei, Seven Seas, and anyone whom the title belongs to that I may have neglected to mention.
A/N: Wow, it's been a while again. I hope that you enjoy it anyway!
This one-shot takes place before the series begins. I present: Dr. Barbara Ohlinger and Aristotle!
Knowledge and Wisdom
Principle Ohlinger used to be a woman of great logic.
True? Surprisingly, yes.
Before she was Principle Ohlinger, she was Dr. Barbara Ohlinger, an acclaimed academic with three PhD's. She believed, much as we knew Control to be, that the world could be categorized and filed and dealt with entirely with logic. There was nothing that couldn't be tackled without rationalism, even the densest philosophical treatises. She faced every difficulty and loss with a stoicism that surpassed many. She never thought that she would need anyone or anything besides her books and the minds of the writers who wrote them.
Then, contrary to everything that she had ever believed, on her fiftieth birthday, she woke up and realized that she was alone.
That thought had scared her. All of the other women of her age were married. All of the other women of her age had children. Almost all of them had grandchildren.
She had never even married.
Now, after all of her life's work, her life's awards, her publications and her praises… she was alone.
It terrified her. She could not find the answer to her situation with her own mind, so she searched in her books, among her greatest minds—but they were silent, no matter how many crinkled pages she turned.
She sought out new sources, new thinkers, and new materials. She tried different books—less academic books, because even the less academic books can have at least one gem of truth—but nothing satisfied her. She tried self-help sections, pamphlets, brochures, and magazines, all to no avail. She even reread her own publications, wondering if she had written the answer where it would lie in wait for her future self—but there was nothing.
Finally, one afternoon, when she turned on her trusted radio to listen to the day's weather report, she discovered a radio show hosted by a Dr. Andrew Collins. As soon as she heard his voice, she reached angrily for the receiver to shut off the transmission. He sounded so young—what could he possibly know? Then she heard the one phrase that she had been seeking: "How can we understand ourselves?"
Barbara paused, one hand still on the radio knob. The voice continued, "We understand ourselves best when we open ourselves up to the world outside and to others."
Hungrily, she consumed the rest of the program. Was this the knowledge that she sought? But how did one open oneself? She drove immediately to the bookstore and purchased his book, impressed by its Bestseller standing but naturally cautious to judge before reading.
She read it in one night. Her notes and scribbles and underlining marked up the text, deconstructing the arguments in his books just as she had deconstructed the arguments of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Einstein, and the literature and arguments of the greatest thinkers of the world.
His final conclusion: "You must open up yourself. When you open yourself, everything around you falls into place, and you are able to attain the happiness that you seek."
But how do you do it?!
His claim for easy happiness maddened her. Angrily, Barbara threw the book across the room. Dr. Collins' book—how had such a man earned a PhD, she would never know!—had not eased her anxiety, only created new ones.
Dr. Collins had said to return to what was familiar in order to begin to understand oneself, and she had done that. She was in her library, was she not? She was in her apartment full of books. She was surrounded by books of literature and philosophy of the greatest minds and she had allowed this psychiatric radio host Dr. Collins to have his book placed among them, but the only thing that he had taught her—reminded her, really—was that she was lonely.
She thought of sending in a letter to Dr. Collins, to make him buy back his book and eat his words—he had failed a listener—but she decided against it. She knew that she was lonely—she had known that before she read his book—but what she wanted to know was why she had a problem with it. How could she frame a solution if she couldn't delineate the problem?
She was Dr. Barbara Ohlinger, praised as the greatest educational mind the world had seen—and she couldn't educate herself.
The irony was too much for her. She threw on her shawl and her large glasses that her old classmates used to make fun of her for being "owlish." She grabbed her keys and ran to the car. As a last attempt to give Dr. Collins a chance, she would attempt the "communing with nature" that he had suggested. She had never done it because her apartment, so filled with literature and away from things and people, was the quietest place that she had ever known outside of a library.
She drove and drove until she came to the nearby forest. There was a half-moon, but the surrounding woods gave the night an eerie pitch-dark blackness, an inky sheet that draped the landscape.
It wanted to swallow her. Dr. Ohlinger, the PhD in Classics, in Philosophy, and in Education, wondered if she was finally going crazy, as all of her classmates threatened would happen to her one day.
Maybe she had spent too much time in the classroom without leaving some for herself. What had it brought her? Loneliness. Despair. Confusion. Driven to do crazy things, like leave her apartment and drive to some forsaken forest. She was on a long winding road, and there were no lights other than her car lights—
A sudden flash of beige, of tan, of brown, a sickening thud—
Her foot slammed the brake—
—and the car screeched to a stop.
She had hit something.
She had never hit anything before.
Shakily, Barbara Ohlinger put the car in park and, grabbing her flashlight from the glove compartment, slowly exited her car, swinging her light across the road.
There was a small form several yards behind her car. She approached nervously, but then relaxed when it didn't appear human. She must have hit some kind of animal. At that realization, she paused. What if it was still alive and attempted to defend itself? Shaking her head, she dismissed the thought. She needed to see if there was something that she could do!
Finally, Dr. Ohlinger found a long stick along the side of the road and gently poked what she determined was a pile of feathers, the wings sticking out at awkward angles.
It was dead.
Dr. Ohlinger moved closer with morbid curiosity. She pushed the matted blood and feathers until she determined that she had killed an owl, and a rather large screech owl, too.
Her stick rested listlessly against the ground. She had killed an owl, the symbol of Athena, the symbol of wisdom.
Where was her wisdom now? Her touted intelligence?
She gripped the stick as her eyes burned, her vision blurring. Had she come all the way out to this forest merely to steal life from something due to her own groundless impetuousness and fears over the lack of her own? Look at what she had caused! This was a needless death!
It must have been a grand creature, wings spread out as a silent flash of white against the black sky—when it was alive.
Now it lay dead.
What am I even doing here in this stupid forest? She threw the stick bitterly to the ground. It landed at the foot of the mass of blood and feathers before bouncing away into the grass, away from the stained asphalt and gravel.
She turned to leave, but her flashlight caught a hint of gray. She wiped her eyes and then bent closer, noting that there was a struggling mouse clutched in its talons. A second later, it wriggled its way out and scampered off into the grass, where it disappeared. The owl must have just caught it for its dinner and didn't release it even when it was hit. Such strength, even as it died.
Barbara Ohlinger hung her head, only reminded again that she had killed it in her hunger for an answer, an answer that wasn't going to come from this silent, dark, bloodied forest.
She was going home. At least there were things that made sense in her library, even if it was only the same arguments that lied within pages, voices that couldn't speak back to her if she asked them questions.
Barbara had started walking back to her car when she heard a soft thump. She swung her flashlight behind her wildly. "Who's there?" What if there was someone in the forest? She had just thrown away her only weapon, and her only knife was the sharp edge of her words—
A soft cry broke through the darkness.
"Hello?" she called tentatively.
She moved the flashlight cautiously to where she thought that she heard the sound, but there was nothing. She turned back to leave when she heard it again—a soft screech.
She waved her flashlight back and forth and, daringly, began to walk to the sound. Finally, she saw a small fluff of white, tan, and dark brown feathers. Large eyes blinked up at her, and then the beak opened to give a high-pitched cry.
She had heard the cry of a baby owl. She exhaled in relief as the anxiety left her, replaced by frustration. "I can't help you," she said. "You need to get back into that nest by yourself, you hear me?"
"I can't!" she insisted. "If I touch you, I'll leave my scent on you, and then the other owls will smell me when they smell you. In fact, when your mother smells my scent on you, she'll reject you, because you won't smell like her baby anymore."
She threw her arms up in the air. "What do you want from me?" she exclaimed. "Go on and—"
She stopped. Slowly, she swung her flashlight around to the mass of blood and feathers on the asphalt. She whispered, her voice nearly inaudible, "Was…was that your mother?"
"I'm sorry," she whispered. Dr. Ohlinger stared at the ground, her eyes glassing again. She no longer had parents, but to deprive a child of its mother—
She knew that the creature had no way of answering her. For all she knew, the dead creature in front of her was not the child's mother. It might even be male. She knew next to nothing about owls—but she knew one thing: this was a baby creature that had fallen out of its nest and, quite possibly, regardless of whether or not the carcass in front of her had been its mother, might not return to its nest. It might never receive parental attention again now that it had failed to remain where it was told.
If she left it alone, it would die. Nature decreed it.
She gripped her flashlight tightly in her hand. Could she steal two lives tonight: one through direct action, one through indirect action?
She stepped resolutely toward the creature, taking the shawl from her around her shoulders and using it to carefully scoop the creature up. It squawked and opened its beak, but she kept her fingers away, stroking it carefully between the eyes, rubbing upward from the top of the beak along its soft, downy feathers in gentle motions.
It calmed, and, for all intents and purposes, appeared to go to sleep.
She hurried back to her car and drove back to her apartment. She put him in a shoe box with her shawl and, in the morning, took him to a veterinarian. The veterinarian informed her of what she had already known: because her scent was on him, the owl was now her responsibility. But she was also informed that the owl was healthy, and she was given a list of dietary needs.
She took him home.
It was a challenging first few weeks, and perhaps, first couple of months. She had never raised anything but ideas, papers, and plants. They misunderstood each other—but eventually, he became her baby, and she became his mother. She named him Aristotle, after her favorite philosopher. He was her Aristotle, the child she found at the end of her pursuit of knowledge, the symbol of some wisdom that—actually, she was uncertain of what wisdom exactly she had found.
But she had opened herself, and as she did, she opened herself to the possibility of a family of a different kind: first, her Aristotle, soon to be affectionately nicknamed Ari; later, in the form of children as students, when she accepted the post of a principle at a high school run by the UN. They had read of her literary and academic achievements, and for what they touted as the best high school in the nation, potentially they world, they wanted the famed Dr. Barbara Ohlinger, touted as the best scholar of education in the world.
She may have become the strange professor that she had dreaded, but instead of a published work against her chest, Aristotle rode on her forearm.
She wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: Principle Ohlinger fascinated me. She fits the bill of the zany principle, but she's the principle of the children of world diplomats and scientists. Obviously, in order to gain that post, she either knew a lot of formidable people or she was quite accomplished herself. Hence why I gave her three PhDs, but that was also my explanation for why she didn't have a family. Yet her "zany" side, what I'm attributing as her maternal instinct that never manifested itself in a biological child, instead exists as a maternal/grandmotherly/great-aunt figure for her students, and she finds her child in Aristotle, who also symbolizes the end of her pursuit of wisdom. Now whether her Aristotle will be the teacher of an Alexander the Great is another story entirely…
Thanks for reading! Please R&R!