Stranded in Gumgeeville: Episode 13

Jed opens the door of his house, ready to re-enter, as the sign says, Sime Territory.

Vrian trots behind in what he fondly believes is a manly fashion.

Jed starts to take off his coat and boots.

Vrian is feeling somewhat reassured, by the thought that he doesn't have to actually do anything about his convictions for another whole few weeks.

Jed: Quite the party we've got going here. Where's Magit?

Jed hangs up his coat, puts his boots on the rack and goes to lean up against the stove.

Seruffin: She's asleep. I hope you don't mind, Mr. Mullins, but Gerrhonot and I felt that she would rest more comfortably if we weren't in the same room with her.

Vrian crowds in beside his father, shivering.

Virla: Howdy, Jed. Hey there, kiddo.

Vrian is scrawny enough, and his coat is thin enough, that he's often cold in winter, even when he isn't establishing.

Jed: Seems to be okay with the rest of the crowd here, no problem for me then.

Vrian looks at Virla with stung pride.

Vrian: I'm not a child any longer, Miz Virla.

Virla: [teasing] Oh, is that a fact? Since when?

Bart grits his teeth. Vrian seems to have forgotten that this is an awfully tactless time let Virla know.

Vrian: Well, since earlier today.

Vrian shoots a glance at Seruffin.

Virla: You look about the same to me, Vrian.

Vrian: Well, I'm not.

Gerrhonot is somewhat ~~ concerned ~~ about this bunch of Wild Gens mobbing his channel in the small area around the stove and table.

Vrian sees Bart's expression, and his face assumes an almost-comical "oops" expression.

Virla: ~~ confusion ~~

Seruffin is doing all right, with Gerrhonot next to him, but he is not as young as he used to be, and it's been a very strenuous day.

Ma looks at Vrian with dawning ~~ hope ~~.

Ma: Do you mean.....?

Ma looks to Seruffin for confirmation.

Virla: Oh, Vrian!

Seruffin nods.

Virla is sensitized to hints on this topic, now that she has a clue.

Jed thinks that his younger son could use a bit of coaching on tact, but then again, you only establish once.

Ma looks ten years younger, for a moment, and she jumps up to hug Vrian fiercely.

Vrian endures this with teenaged fortitude.

Ma: Oh, Vrian, I'm so very, very glad.

Jed can't help but grin widely. Fortunately, he's not in Virla's line of sight.

Ma reluctantly releases Vrian, and turns to smile in Seruffin's general direction. Her smile disappears as she catches sight of Virla.

Ma: Oh, Virla, I'm sorry! We're being tactless.

Virla: No, Maree. I'm glad to see you happy with your family. And Vrian, uh, congratulations!

Vrian beams at Virla.

Vrian: Thank you.

Seruffin zlins the Gens carefully, then decides to take a diplomatic chance.

Seruffin: Magit is also an adult now, and deserves our congratulations.

Virla: What? Why ... [long pause]

Seruffin: In Sime Territory, changeover and establishment are both celebrated, as the beginning of a new life.

Virla: Why, why, I suppose you would, wouldn't you? My Magit ...

Seruffin: Is still your daughter, and still needs your love and support.

Seruffin uses the English word that is also translated as the Simelan "need" deliberately.

Virla: Well of course she has ... [beat, beat] You're right. No, you're right.

Seruffin zlins Virla as deeply as he can, given the crowded room and the necessity of keeping his laterals firmly sheathed.

Virla: ~~ wonder, courage, revelation ~~

Gerrhonot tries to shield Seruffin from the nageric chaos he thinks must be filling the ambient, while enabling him to zlin this particular Gen.

Seruffin: Your encouragement could make a vital difference to her adjustment, Virla.

Virla: Well then ... ~~ courage ~~ Let's hear it for my Magit!

Ma squeezes Virla's hand in encouragement.

Ma: That's the spirit.

Jed: Good for you, Virla.

Ma isn't sure she could do the same, if it had been Vrian who sprouted the tentacles.

Jed: Before we found out about Vrian, me and Ma had decided to take him to the channel at the Ford if we needed to.

Bart is a bit nonplussed at this, and looks to his brother.

Vrian shrugs innocently.

Bart is a little annoyed that his heroic gesture wasn't entirely original, but figures that sour grapes is hardly a fit attitude for a man.

Seruffin hadn't realized that he'd had such a profound effect on the Mullins family, and is genuinely touched.

Virla: ~~ admiration ~~ That's mighty brave of you, Jed.

Jed: Well, after meeting Hajene here, I decided maybe it wasn't such a bad thing to be a Sime these days, as long as you don't have to kill to live.

Seruffin: And so it isn't.

Virla: Well, the Lord's will be done, Jed.

Jed has more tact than to say: "and I sure as hell didn't want to shoot my kids if I didn't have to." He also doesn't think the Lord has any damn thing to do with it, but isn't going to try to argue about it with Virla.

Virla knows that everything that happens, except the doings of sinful man, is the Lord's will.

Seruffin is a bit wary, as he knows just enough about Gen religions to understand that some versions can be dangerous, and most are weird.

Bart: Ma, Miz Virla, uh, me and Vrian were talking before.... uh, the selyn that Hajene used for Magit, that came from Ma and me and Dad.

Seruffin: That's true.

Bart hopes it will help his mother feel better.

Seruffin leaves out several other donors in Capital who no doubt contributed a dynopter or two.

Ma isn't sure whether it helps to know that she was a part of saving Magit, or whether she'd rather not have known what happened to the selyn Seruffin managed to extract from her.

Virla: You know, Tweeb, I think, I think ... ~~ courage, determination ~~

Seruffin zlins Virla, and thinks "shen".

Seruffin is actually hoping to avoid shen.

Seruffin: Yes?

Virla: I think it's not enough to just pay for my Magit to be ... fed ...

Virla: I'm her mother. ~~ DETERMINATION ~~

Seruffin summons as much patience and diplomacy as the day has left him. He tries not to wince at the determination.

Virla: And I want to see her when she wakes up. I have to tell her goodbye.

Seruffin: She won't be going anywhere until the weather clears, and the trains are running again.

Gerrhonot sees Seruffin's stress level increase, and takes his hand. ~~ strength, steadiness, lean on me ~~

Seruffin looks ~~ apologetically ~~ at Jed.

Virla: But aren't you going to keep her locked up?

Seruffin: She isn't a danger to anybody now, but since she doesn't have legal retainers, she must stay in Sime Territory.

Jed is ~~ amused ~~ by Seruffin's apologetic look.

Seruffin will let the Mullins family decide just how far they wish Sime Territory to extend.

Seruffin: She'll be more comfortable if she doesn't have to confront high-field Gens, anyway.

Gerrhonot wonders if he should try to talk Seruffin out of taking another Wild Gen donation before he gets a good night's rest.

Seruffin: Although Gerrhonot and I can provide her with some protection.

Seruffin wishes to leave Virla a way out, rather than risk another fiasco like Ma's donation.

Virla: Well, I'm her mother, and I'm a "high-field Gen". It wouldn't be right to keep me from my own daughter. ~~ fierce protectiveness ~~ If there's any protecting to be done, I'm the one to do it.

Seruffin: Virla, it takes time to learn to shield Simes as Gerrhonot does. At the moment, you could easily hurt Magit, by accident.

Virla: ~~ taken aback ~~ But wouldn't I be able to hurt her less, if ...

Seruffin: If you were lowfield? Yes, although I'd still prefer it if I or Gerrhonot was present at first, until I'm sure Magit can handle her new senses.

Virla: Well, that's only reasonable.

Virla knows that Seruffin understands Simes better than she does, mother or not.

Seruffin can zlin very little that's reasonable in the situation, himself, but that's nothing new.

Seruffin: Do you wish me to take your field down, then?

Virla: [long, long pause] Yes.

Gerrhonot is getting worried. Not only could Seruffin be harmed, but both of them could be embarrassed by not being able to pay for the selyn.

Ma: Virla!

Gerrhonot doesn't think it would be professional to argue with Seruffin in front of this crowd in Genlan, but it would also be impolite to do so in Simelan.

Ma's face is white as she looks at her friend.

Virla: You don't have to pay me for this. I'm doing it for my Magit. ~~ determination again ~~

Gerrhonot figures Seruffin must know what he's doing, offering to take the donation, but .....

Seruffin isn't overlooking the payment issue, but he is confident that the Tecton will honor his IOU, and he really, really doesn't want Magit to undergo any more stress.

Virla: ~~ clenched teeth ~~

Gerrhonot: Um, excuse me everybody...

Gerrhonot: [in Simelan] Hajene, are you going to be all right? Maybe you should take her donation tomorrow instead? I'm worried about you.

Seruffin: [also in Simelan] Look at her, Gerrhonot. She can barely bring herself to think of donating now. What would she be like with another twelve hours or so to think about it?

Seruffin looks tired, though.

Gerrhonot: It's up to you of course.... but please, be careful... Let me know if there's anything special you want me to do....

Gerrhonot doesn't think it would be tactful to say anything about the Ma Mullins fiasco.

Seruffin turns back to Virla.

Seruffin: I will take your field down if you wish, but only if you are sure. You don't seem very comfortable with the idea.

Gerrhonot wonders where they can do the donation. Will they have to throw all the Mullinses out in the snow to get a little nageric isolation?

Virla: I'm sure, Tweeb. ~~ DETERMINATION ~~

Ma remains silent, not being in a position to argue, but one finger nervously traces the sore spots on her arms.

Virla: No one is going to keep me from my daughter when I can do something about it, no one. ~~ savage maternal feeling ~~

Seruffin sighs.

Virla: Do it, Tweeb. I need your help.

Virla extends her arms toward Seruffin jerkily.

Bart watches Gerrhonot and Seruffin, and wonders what's going on between them that he can't perceive.

Seruffin looks around, zlinning discreetly, to get some idea of what the rest of the onlookers think about all this.

Jed: You three want some privacy for this, you can use the bed alcove there.

Virla: Thanks, Jed. Whatever works best for Tweeb.

Seruffin: It is easier to work, without so many people around.

Jed is a bit ~~ amused ~~ as well by the whole incongruous mess. It's partly all that beer, and partly his ability to find humour in most situations.

Vrian is a little bit ~~ disappointed ~~, as he was looking forward to seeing another donation. He was hoping that it would help him figure out just whether he really wants to donate himself.

Bart: Uh, Hajene, would it help if we went outside?

Bart has picked up on Gerrhonot's concern.

Seruffin is a channel, and the thought of a half dozen Gens freezing outside isn't appealing. He doesn't want to feel rushed, given Virla's less-than-optimal state.

Seruffin: That won't be necessary, Bart. Gerrhonot can block most of the ambient for me.

Virla: No, Bart. I ain't ... aren't going to drive you out of your own home.

Seruffin nudges Gerrhonot to start him scooting off the bench.

Gerrhonot gets up but stays very close to his channel. ~~~ protection ~~~ support ~~~

Seruffin stands as well, then deliberately starts around the table, slowly enough to give Virla time to back down, if she wants to.

Virla: ~~ teeth still clenched, not quite as tightly: her jaw muscles are getting sore ~~

Ma remembers Seruffin moving like that, when she told him she wanted to donate, and huddles against the table.

Jed figures a distraction is in order.

Jed: You gonna feed us, Ma? It's past supper time.

Ma: Oh, my goodness, so it is. ~~ guilt ~~ Bart, Vrian, get the table ready, while I serve.

Bart: Sure, Ma.

Seruffin gestures for Virla to precede him to the alcove.

Bart has figured out what his Dad is doing, and is impressed at his cleverness.

Virla moves to the alcove, walking stiffly but still with ~~ determination ~~.

Jed: Vrian, how come the wood box isn't full?

Seruffin follows Virla, trying to figure out how to defuse the situation.

Jed: Ma, I wasn't home to stir it, so I just shoved it on the back there. Is it burned or raw?

Seruffin does not want another Ma on his hands, or rather, under his tentacles.

Ma investigates.

Ma: It survived.

Ma feels a bit less stressed out, with something reassuringly normal to occupy her.

Bart: I'll get some wood, Dad. Vrian, you set the table.

Ma isn't able to completely ignore what's going on in her "bedroom", however.

Virla's mood lightens somewhat with the change in the ambient.

Seruffin is glad of that much, at least.

Gerrhonot steps ahead and pulls back the curtain for the other two, maintaining his ~~ strong support ~~

Seruffin really, really wishes that he was working in a real Sime Center, with insulated donation cubicles and other staff on call. He doesn't think a cubicle containing a bed, a few clothes pegs, and a less-than-completely insulating curtain is a fair substitute.

Seruffin steps through first, leaving Virla to follow if she chooses.

Virla pushes her way past the curtain, then turns and closes it more carefully.

Gerrhonot secures the curtain, for visual privacy at least. He doubts it has much insulating value nagerically. It's quite dim, with only a little lamp light coming through the curtain.

Virla sits on the side of the bed, halfway between head and foot.

Seruffin zlins Virla closely, letting his laterals extend just a bit. He wants to know just what's lurking under all that determination.

Virla's nager seems to be full of little sparks.

Seruffin: Virla, I can't help knowing that you're more than a bit apprehensive. However, this will be much easier on both of us if you can relax.

Virla: [very tensely] How can I relax when I [forces herself to stop]

Virla takes a deep breath, holds it, lets it out.

Seruffin takes a step closer, trying to figure out what the sparks are.

Seruffin: When you're afraid of Simes? I know it isn't easy.

Virla relaxes. The sparkiness in her field begins to move along the nageric force lines.

Seruffin glances at Gerrhonot.

Gerrhonot is watching for signals or instructions.

Virla relaxes further. The sparks are swirling now in a hypnotic sort of way.

Seruffin: However, I won't harm you, so you don't have to be concerned.

Gerrhonot: ~~ calm, strong, steady, reliable ~~~

Seruffin ventures a step closer, monitoring Virla's emotional state closely as he does so.

Virla's emotions remain unchanged: determination above, fear below.

Virla: Do what you have to do, Tweeb. I need you, for my daughter's sake.

Seruffin sits beside Virla, leaning on Gerrhonot for support.

Virla is braced, as if Seruffin were about to set her broken arm.

Seruffin: Virla, I'm not going to attack you. Nothing will happen until you're ready.

Virla: I'm ready, Tweeb.

Gerrhonot kneels behind his channel with his hands on his shoulders.

Seruffin holds out his hands.

Seruffin: All right, then, put your hands in mine.

Seruffin's tentacles are retracted--for now.

Virla grasps Seruffin's hands firmly. The speed of the swirling sparks increases.

Seruffin zlins them warily, but can't legitimately refuse the donation because the Gen has a weird nager.

Seruffin: I'm going to extend my handling tentacles now. They're just to help you remain still.

Seruffin is a diplomat, and euphemism is part of the package.

Virla nods slowly, spikes ~~ fear ~~, forces it down again. She takes another breath and lets it out. She wishes Seruffin would hurry up; this slow approach is just making her more tense.

Seruffin lets his handling tentacles out of their sheaths, extending them to rest lightly on their joined hands.

Virla looks over at Gerrhonot, thinks about how he saved her Magit.

Seruffin: You see? There's nothing to worry about.

Gerrhonot smiles encouragingly, hoping Virla can see it in the dim light.

Seruffin wishes Virla was more inclined to emotional honesty, and less toward courage and denial. He lets his handling tentacles wrap around Virla's wrists, holding her securely.

Virla suddenly relaxes completely, going almost limp, but the sparkling fills her otherwise typical GN-3 nager completely.

Seruffin: That's very good, Virla. If you can hold that calm, this will be very easy for both of us.

Seruffin takes the opportunity to complete the transfer contact.

Gerrhonot intensifies his ~~ support ~~ for the functional.

Virla doesn't feel a thing, as expected.

Seruffin makes sure she continues to feel nothing as he drains off some of those sparks.

Virla's sparks swirl madly and give Seruffin a nageric ~~ tickling ~~ sensation as they pass into his secondary system.

Seruffin drains the GN-3 level completely, then releases Virla.

Virla: [FLASHBULB in the ambient as Virla's remaining sparks coalesce into a single bright nageric light]

Magit awakes from sleep, thrashes in the bed, and winds up falling on the floor with an audible THUMP. She holds her arms up to protect them.

Virla: ~~ low-field startle ~~

Seruffin wonders whether Virla's nageric peculiarities are part of the reason for the problems her daughter had with First Transfer.

Seruffin: Virla? Are you all right?

Magit, Sime-smooth, rises to her feet and glides to the door of the room, opening it. ~~ surprise shock ~~

Virla: I'm fine. What was that noise?

Seruffin zlins.

Seruffin: It appears that Magit is awake.

Virla tries to get to her feet, is surprised to find she's having trouble.

Virla: What's the matter with me?

Seruffin reaches out to steady Virla with a hand, tentacles retracted.

Virla grasps the hand, uses it to leverage herself up. She pushes the curtain aside. ~~ surprise ~~

Seruffin follows Virla out of the alcove. reaching to steady the fields for Magit.

Gerrhonot follows closely. Seruffin is still in recovery from the functional and doesn't need any more stress today.

Magit: Mama?

Virla: It's about time you were awake, girl. You going to sleep your whole life away? ~~ love pride (nakhes) ~~

Jed keeps an eye on Ma, worried that she might be alarmed.

Ma is quite content to stay where she is, but she's feeling less stressed than at any time since she allowed the second Sime into her house.

Magit: It's me, Mama. I didn't die. And I didn't kill anybody, either!

Virla: I see you didn't, baby. Are you ... Do you feel ...

Magit: [smiles] I feel ... different. Strange. But so, so right, too.

Magit is not reliably duoconscious yet, and is basically not connecting the input from the selyn senses with the real world yet.

Magit: Mama, could it be that God meant me to be Sime? Not as a punishment, but because that is what his plan wanted for me?

Seruffin moves past Virla and reaches to ~~ steady ~~ Magit.

Magit feels a little more connected

Virla looks around for someone to answer this question. She realizes there isn't anyone.

Virla: I don't know, Magit girl.

Bart comes in with another armful of firewood and stops to watch the scene.

Seruffin wonders why even Gens would worship their own genes.

Virla: Tweeb, is it safe if I ...

Seruffin looks at Magit.

Seruffin: How are you feeling, Magit?

Magit: [throws her arms outward] I feel, I feel, I feel like I could do anything!

Seruffin: Well, not quite, I'm afraid.

Seruffin gestures for Gerrhonot to support Magit, then nods to Virla.

Magit: Maybe this is what it means ... to be born again in the Spirit?

Virla: ~~ shock ~~

Magit: I know, Mama, I know. But I've been transformed.

Ma has to admit that Magit is different, all right.

Gerrhonot ~~ supports ~~ Magit carefully without interfering.

Virla: I see you have, Magit girl. And not just by becoming Sime, either.

Ma is no theologian, but she suspects that this isn't exactly what the religious authorities mean by the phrase "born again in the Spirit".

Bart wonders whether Magit rather than Seruffin is a typical Sime. He hopes not.

Magit: "When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child." Isn't that what the preacher said two weeks ago, Mama? "But when I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me."

Seruffin: You'll still have to adjust to being Sime, Magit. It's going to take time. But you'll have that time, now.

Magit: Time! That's what I have, now. When I was in the cellar, I had almost no time left. But now I have my whole life. Don't I, Mama?

Virla: Yes, Magit girl. You do. May the Lord be praised everlastingly!

Magit: Tweeb, can we ... touch one another?

Seruffin zlins them both, then nods. He signals for Gerrhonot to be alert.

Virla holds out her arms for her daughter.

Magit approaches her mother slowly

Gerrhonot stays close, managing the fields.

Virla holds her ground ~~ love pride ~~

Seruffin zlins, curious to see whether Virla will show the same strange reaction to her daughter's tentacles as she showed to his own.

Magit reaches her mother just in front of the bed alcove and embraces her, tentacles retracted.

Virla's nager sparkles, swirls slowly.

Magit: ~~ love compassion ~~

Virla: ~~ love longing pride ~~

Jed: Youse guys hungry? Plenty of stew, if you can stomach it.

Virla's stomach growls.

Magit: I ... see you're hungry, Mama. Let's eat.

Magit is picking up on her mother's appetite on the ambient.

Virla: Stew it is, then.

Virla gently releases her daughter, whom she has been clutching tightly.

Seruffin breathes a sigh of relief, and lets himself relax for the first time since Ma and Virla entered.

Virla moves back to the table and sits.

Magit walks to stand behind her mother.

Ma stands her ground, but only by dint of effort. She was raised to understand the duties of a hostess, however.

Ma: Bart, serve our guests.

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