Marvin is standing in the jail cell, with his arms wrapped around Eugen's large torso, and Fridda lying close by on a cot, the cell's only piece of furniture. Fridda is lying quietly in late stage five.
Marvin: Shen and shid!
Marvin: It's not your fault, Eugen, but every time I try this shunt, the selyn comes flooding back into my primary system, and it's starting to feel downright grunchy.
Marvin: I'm afraid you were right all along: a reverse shunt just isn't a regular shunt, or an entran outfunction either. There's some trick to it I don't understand.
Eugen: ~~ I told you so ~~
Marvin: I know, I know. But it's got to be done, somehow.
Marvin tries squeezing the selyn out at high pressure through an aperture field as compressed as he can make it. Selyn flows from his primary, across Eugen's massive resistance, and into his secondary, but as soon as Marvin relaxes the pressure, it sputters back before he can dismantle the contact.
Marvin: Gyuchhh. I'm going to spend the rest of the month living on turbulent selyn at this rate.
Fridda is feeling ~~ nauseated ~~ again after zlinning all that action with her undeveloped senses, but she's too weak to retch. ~~ misery ~~ despair ~~
Eugen: Marvin, I hope you have a Plan C. Plans A and B haven't worked too well.
Marvin: All right, all right. Marvin Never-at-a-loss to the rescue. Here's some money.
Marvin takes some Gen Territory money out of the bag tied to the side of his pants.
Marvin: Now give this to the deputy and tell him you're bailing yourself out. After all, you're not a Sime, he should be willing to let you out. And he knows you have reason to come back here.
Eugen: Marvin, you have obviously lost what few marbles you have left. Just what do you think you're going to do in here without me?
Marvin: Absolutely nothing. What you're going to do is to get out there and entice some local to come back here and act as a donor.
Eugen's jaw drops.
Eugen: Say what?
Marvin: But first I have to dismantle that nageric linkage. Fridda's going to feel much worse without it, but there's simply no help for it. I've got to have a selyn source. Okay, hold on.
Marvin dismantles the useless lateral contact and moves to the neutral point between Eugen's weakly Gen field and Fridda's weakly Sime one. His laterals sway rhythmically as he impresses the pattern of the linkage on his secondary system.
Marvin: Brace yourself nagerically.
Marvin drops his showfield and grabs control of the field with his personal system. The alien rhythm jars him horribly and gives him heart palpitations, but he figures he can survive a few seconds of this.
Eugen senses Marvin's distress and tries to adjust his selyn production pattern to react, but ...
Marvin is ahead of him. He turns the pattern 180 degrees out of phase and deliberately voids selyn, creating a null in the ambient. He quickly re-engages his showfield, sucking up the nageric linkage right into his vriamic node. With an internal ~~ scrunch ~~, he rips the linkage apart inside his vriamic.
Fridda weakly curls into a trembling fetal ball. There doesn't seem to be any position that isn't intensely painful to her arms.
Marvin staggers, loses his balance, feels like he's going through the worst turnover of his life, and finally recovers.
Marvin wraps himself around Eugen again and slumps his whole weight on him.
Eugen: [gently] All right, all right, you did it and it's all over. Now sit down.
Eugen guides Marvin to the foot of the cot, which fortunately has plenty of room for him to sit.
Marvin: Thanks, I needed that. Now go.
Eugen: But, but, you're still in recovery!
Marvin: So I'll recover. Go. This changeover won't wait.
Marvin has uttered the magic word again, and Eugen calls out loudly.
Eugen: Hey, Sheriff! I can bail myself out!
Eugen waves the money in the air.
Dalkik enters the back room with the cell. He stands well back, since the Sime has his retainers off.
Dalkik: Now what?
Eugen: I have bail money here! I need to bail myself out.
Dalkik: Why'n'cha say so before?
Dalkik thinks this is the weirdest situation he's been in since he got the job.
Dalkik: I thought you wanted to be in there with your Sime.
Eugen: I did, but now I need to, well, get something. I promise to come back. Isn't that the point of the bail money?
Dalkik decides not to argue with lunatics.
Dalkik: Mr. Sime, you just stay there on the cot while I open the door, right?
Marvin: You betcha, Mr. Sheriff.
Dalkik moves closer, unlocks the cell, and lets Eugen squeeze out, never taking his eyes off the Sime.
Eugen squeezes out, hands Dalkik the money, and heads for the door.
Eugen: I don't need a receipt, thanks.
Eugen is not too positive Dalkik can write, anyway.
Dalkik locks the door again, starts to speak, then thinks better of it. He figures it's for the best. His wife gets paid to feed the prisoners, and this way there'll be more for him and his family. Eugen looks like he could eat a lot. He gives Marvin and the child one more suspicious look, shakes his head and leaves the room.
Marvin feels himself beginning to recover from the transients coursing through his system.
Marvin: Five tries at a reverse shunt with no luck, then severing a nageric linkage, making it up as I go along. At least I won't have any entran worries for a while.
Marvin doesn't think that all this activity may give him entran problems in the future.
Fridda realizes she doesn't know Marvin's name.
Fridda: Mister channel?
Marvin: Call me Marvin, Fridda. What can I do you for?
Fridda: I'm not going to survive this, am I?
Marvin: I have every reason to think you will. You're going to have First Transfer as soon as I can get a donor here.
Fridda: Just don't let me kill anybody, okay?
Marvin: I guarantee it.
Fridda starts crying silently. ~~ despair ~~
Marvin scootches around on the bed and begins to stroke Fridda's hair gently.
Marvin: Don't give up. You do have another choice.
Fridda: I got Sirtoss to take me to the train by telling him he could tie my arms up.
Marvin: I know, yes. You were very lucky that you didn't suffer any permanent damage.
Fridda: But I think it damaged the tentacles. It's not supposed to hurt this much, is it?
Marvin: No, it isn't. But I can see that their function isn't impaired one bit. Because I'm not carrying ... stuff ... right now, I can't do anything about your pain. Try not to fight it, if you can. Resistance just makes matters worse.
Fridda is gradually realizing that finding this channel is not the salvation she hoped for. Why doesn't he have enough stuff for one kid? Something's seriously wrong here, and she doesn't understand it.
Marvin: I see you're confused. What it is is, I'm a special kind of channel. My job's to collect ... selyn, we call it, Gen energy ... from a lot of different towns here in Genland. So I start out empty and wind up full.
Fridda: I don't think you're going to find anybody to give you any stuff in a little hick town like this.
Fridda lives in New Washington where her father is a professor of Ancient literature, and she knows what a bunch of ignorant superstitious people live in these villages near their summer place.
Marvin: No, I know there are donors here. My friend Bibi, who works at the Sime Center in the next town down the line, told me about them.
Fridda: ~~ surprise ~~ hope ~~
Marvin: That's where I was trying to get you to in the first place, but the track was too rough. New Simes can't take too many bumps.
Fridda: I kept passing out. And I couldn't stop retching.
Marvin uses his showfield, weak as it is, to try to conceal his doubt whether there are any donors at the top of their cycles.
Marvin: Yes, but that's all over now.
Marvin rubs Fridda's head.
Fridda: It's sore, from when I hit the floor in the railcar.
Marvin: Yes, I can zlin it. That's what we call it, zlinning.
Fridda: I think I can zlin you... it changes when I move my arms.
Marvin: Probably. Your tentacles are almost fully developed. They stopped growing for a bit while you were locked in the shed, or you would have reached breakout already. But it's just as well you didn't, so we could get you safely here.
Fridda doesn't feel very safe, overall, but she does believe that Marvin can keep her from killing.
Marvin: Anyhow, when the donor gets here, I'll draw from him or her, and then give you First Transfer. Then all the pain will be gone, and you will feel wonderful.
Fridda: My father wouldn't believe I was turning Sime. He said I couldn't be since I'll be sixteen next week. So I had to get away and talk Sirtoss into helping me. He was really scared but I told him to tie me up and take the shotgun along. The conductor told me once that sometimes channels travel on these trains, so I hoped there'd be one.
Marvin cocks his head to one side and smiles.
Fridda: Yes. Even if you can't save me, you can keep me from killing. That's the important thing.
Marvin: Never doubt it, Fridda. But you will survive this. I, the channel, have spoken. ~~ humor optimism ~~
Fridda wants to believe him, but she's still pretty ~~ dubious ~~
Fridda: Is there water? I think I can drink a little more now.
Marvin: [raises his voice] Hey, Mr. Sheriff! Can we have some water here, please?
Dalkik: [calls from the other room] There's a jug under the bed.
Marvin: Oh, okay. Thanks.
Dalkik comes into the back room with a covered bowl.
Marvin sits up and walks to the door, carefully. He extends his hand, tentacles retracted.
Dalkik: Here's your supper. Go stand back and I'll put it down where you can get it.
Marvin sighs ~~ resignedly ~~ and walks back to the cot.
Dalkik sets the bowl down on the floor, and goes back out to eat his share of the delicious meal. His wife made barley with beans and onions, and added a good big lot of chopped up mutton suet. He wants to eat it before the tallow congeals.
Marvin reaches under the bed, pulls out the jug, and holds it carefully, with hands and tentacles, to Fridda's lips.
Marvin: Don't overdo it.
Marvin is used to the habits of out-T Gens, so the smells don't bother him that much.
Fridda tries to hold the jug, but it's too painful.
Marvin: [softly] Let me. Relax and drink.
Fridda tries to drink without choking or spilling the water.
Fridda: Thank you.
Fridda lies back down again.
Fridda: How much time...
Marvin: I can't say exactly. So far so good, but the exact timing is different for every new Sime.
Fridda: He's not going to get back here in time, is he? Your partner.
Marvin is beginning to feel the strain of trying to control the ambient with his primary instead of his secondary.
Fridda: It's just as well. I might have tried to kill him. ~~ despair ~~ resignation ~~
Marvin chuckles softly
Marvin: [Rocket J. Squirrel voice] But that never works.
Marvin: No, Eugen is a Donor with a capital D. There's no way your need could seriously damage him.
Marvin isn't going to say just why.
Fridda: If my dad hadn't made me come out here with him, it would have happened in New Washington and I'd have been able to get away and go to the Sime Center. But he wanted us to come out here where it was quiet, to get ready for all the sixteenth birthday fuss next week. My uncle's a senator, and he's throwing a big party for me, but it's mostly an excuse to do politics.
Marvin: Well, you can't really blame your dad. Changeover at sixteen is pretty unusual.
Fridda: Yes, but even I can see that I'm developing pretty late. Most girls my age have tits.
Marvin: Still, I would certainly bet on establishment rather than changeover at that age.
Fridda: Really? Why?
Marvin: Let's just say, if you have to bet, that's the way to go.
Fridda: I guess I lost that bet then.
Marvin: No, your father did. You're going to win. ~~ encouragement optimism ~~
Fridda: You're doing something to make me feel better, right? I can ... zlin... that, I think.
Marvin: Yes. I had my transfer a few days ago, and Simes always feel optimistic after transfer (you will too). You're starting to feel my feelings.
Marvin reflects momentarily that he probably wouldn't have even tried this crazy stunt if he were any further along in his cycle -- but if he had, he wouldn't have been in this fix in the first place.
Fridda: I feel so weak. Is it supposed to be like that?
Marvin: You used up more selyn than you would have normally, dealing with the rope and the jostling on the train, plus fear and worry. But yes. Simes have an instinct to hide, because we're never more vulnerable than when we're in changeover. But I'm here for you.
Fridda tries to push up the sleeve of her sweater, but it's stuck to the skin with dried blood.
Marvin wets one corner of his cape in the jug water and works on the stuck places.
Fridda's arms are badly bruised and some of the rope abrasions start bleeding again. This is in addition to the rather alarming look of the arms of a Sime just before breakout.
Marvin uses his primary again, this time to press down on the bleeding nagerically, since he doesn't dare use a physical tourniquet at this point.
Fridda compares her own arms with Marvin's. She wonders how the tentacles are going to get out. She's finding it hard to believe that they aren't damaged, despite Marvin's reassurance.
Marvin keeps thinking that doing primary functionals will hurt less this time, but no, it always hurts just as much.
Fridda: Something's... hurting you?
Marvin: Normally, I'd stop the bleeding with my channel's, ummm, equipment, but now I'm having to use my personal selyn supply for a job it wasn't designed to do.
Marvin isn't going to go into the reverse shunt, especially as he doesn't understand why it didn't work.
Fridda doesn't find this very informative.
Marvin: It's sort of like having to do things with my feet instead of my hands. I'm a bit clumsy and I can easily get toe cramps.
Fridda: I'm so tired. I didn't know it was going to be like this. ~~ exhaustion ~~ resignation ~~
Marvin: I'm so sorry, Fridda. It's just bad luck all around. ~~ sympathy ~~ Since Eugen isn't back yet, I want you to help me to help you to ... go to sleep.
Fridda: What should I do?
Marvin has belatedly realized that even though she's not at breakout, he should be able to put Fridda into menar sleep at this point, which will slow her basal selyn consumption and delay breakout further.
Fridda is responding to Marvin's sec channel's nager. She wants to cooperate. Well, she wants to cooperate anyway, more or less, but this is extra.
Marvin zlins Fridda's cooperativeness and guides her through the process of entering menar sleep.
Marvin: Attagirl. Sleep. [hypnotically] Sleeeep.
Fridda relaxes into menar sleep, lying quietly on the cot and barely breathing.
Sanda heard the news quite early on - a huge Gen marched a Sime into the jail, forcing the Sime to carry the girl he had killed. Well, that was one version. She didn't think that was too likely. The Gen would have shot the Sime if the Sime killed somebody, and why take the body to the jail?
Sanda thinks it was probably another one of those channels and his Gen partner. She learned a bit about the whole Tecton thing by sneaking into her brother's room and reading the booklets he got.
Sanda decided to go down to the jail and see if she could find out what was happening. She's a grown up Gen now, even if her parents won't acknowledge it. Her brother isn't too happy that she's ahead of him that way either. She knows her parents will be really pissed off and it's far easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Sanda thought about bringing some friends along as witnesses, but then she decided that it might be less complicated to do this herself. Besides, most of them are really afraid of Simes.
Sanda isn't. Well, not of channels, that is. She met one and he was a normal sort of guy except much more distinguished looking than anybody in Gumgeeville. He was kind of handsome, too, in an elderly way. And very polite. She can't imagine her brother ever being that urbane, but maybe it takes decades.
Sanda sneaks up to the back of the jail building, and looks up at the window of the cell.
Sanda: Hey, Hajene, are you in there?
Sanda is pretty ~~ proud ~~ of knowing that a channel is called Hajene instead of Mister.
Marvin: [quietly, although noise won't wake Fridda] Yes. Who are you?
Marvin can't zlin effectively though the stone wall.
Sanda: I'm Sanda Gegg. I'm a Gen.
Marvin can't quite figure this out.
Marvin: Is Eugen with you? My Donor?
Sanda: No. I just came by to find out what's happening. The other kids are afraid of Simes but I'm not. I met one once and my brother is probably going to be one. ~~ confidence ~~ excitement ~~
Marvin says a wordless prayer.
Sanda: There's all these stupid rumors going around about why you're here, but they don't make any sense so I wanted to find out for myself.
Sanda is at that stage where she can talk non-stop indefinitely, if no one puts their foot down about it.
Marvin: Forgive me for being rude, but I must ask you certain things. What's your name? Are you alone? How do you know you are Gen? Have you ever donated before?
Sanda: I told you. I'm Sanda Gegg. Sheesh. Yes, I'm alone. The other kids are afraid of Simes. I know I'm Gen because Hajene Seruffin told me so. No, I've never donated. My parents would have a cow. But Bart did and he said it was no big deal. Even Vrian Mullins did, and I'm three weeks older than he is.
Marvin: Hajene Seruffin! Excellent!
Marvin thinks, "Well, I've already broken every other rule in the book."
Sanda: Do you know him? He was here during the big snowstorm.
Marvin: I've met him once, on the train.
Sanda: This is really stupid. Hang on, I'll get something to stand on so I can reach the window.
Marvin: Be careful!
Marvin doesn't want a child, Gen or not, with a broken arm on his hands. He has enough troubles without that.
Sanda: Sheesh. I'm almost thirteen. I'm not an idiot.
Marvin: Sheesh yourself. Simes tend to be overprotective of Gens, so put that under your dome and bubble it.
Sanda looks around and finds a couple of sturdy crates over by the wood pile, presumably destined to be converted into kindling. She missed that last bit, since she was out of earshot. She carries the crates back to the window, stacks one on the other and climbs up. She rests her arms comfortably on the window ledge and peers into the dark cell. Well, it's dark now -- she's blocking the light.
Marvin goes to stand under the window.
Sanda spots a girl lying on the cot, sleeping. And there's the Sime. Wow, he's really handsome. ~~ interest ~~ excitement ~~ teeny bopper level sexuality ~~
Sanda smiles, trying to look grown up. Wow, what a dreamy guy. So tall and lean.
Marvin: Hey, there. Can you wriggle through those bars?
Sanda: Uh... I don't think so. Why?
Sanda gets a good look at Marvin's tentacles. Wow. Cool. Seruffin was in retainers, so she didn't get to see his. ~~ prurient interest ~~ excitement ~~~ attraction ~~
Sanda: So what happened? What are you doing here?
Marvin: I need your help. If you can.
Sanda: Like what?
Marvin: See the girl there? She's going into changeover, and I need selyn in order to serve her. I'm not carrying enough myself. She won't wake up until you're safely out again.
Marvin: Absolutely. She can't wake up -- she's in a special kind of Sime sleep.
Sanda: You want to uhhh, suck out my uhhh selyn for her?
Marvin: Her name is Fridda, and she was literally thrown onto the train with her arms tied up, in hope that some Sime would be able to help her. I got elected.
Sanda figures that she can (1) be a hero by saving a life (2a) gross out some of her friends and (2b) win the admiration of others (3) get her brother really upset that she could do something he can't (4) outrage her parents (5) get to kiss this dreamy guy, all in one go. ~~ eager ~~
Sanda: Uh, yeah, sure.
Sanda hopes she sounds really sophisticated, even though she's standing on a couple of old crates.
Marvin: Then we have a deal? I thought so. Don't hold on to the bars.
Marvin augments, jumps up to the window, hangs from the bars with his tentacles, and uses his hands to bend the bars outward enough to allow one rather undersized Gen through them.
Marvin drops back down to the floor and lands Sime-lightly on the balls of his feet.
Sanda: Wow! I didn't know you could do that!
Marvin: Yeah, Simes can jump. But it costs us. Now, which will it be: you jump and I catch you, or I jump again and bring you down with me? Your choice.
Sanda tries to figure out if there's a cool, sophisticated way to squeeze through the bars, and concludes that if there is, she doesn't know what it is.
Marvin: Of course you have to squeeze through the bars by yourself. I'm not going to pull you.
Sanda: Uh, sure. Feet first, I guess?
Sanda thinks this is going to look really clumsy and stupid, but she did give her word.
Marvin: I can catch you if you're dropping head downwards, no problem. But I think feet first would be more, ah, dignified.
Sanda gets her knee up on the wide window ledge and sticks the other leg through. She hangs onto the bars and gets the first leg through too. She's trying not to get her clothes twisted up in an embarrassing way. ~~ determination ~~ excitement ~~ embarrassment ~~
Marvin: Ooooo-kay. You jump down, or I jump up?
Sanda: I can jump down, I guess. Can you catch me?
Marvin: Sheesh, Sanda, I'm not an idiot.
Sanda is ~~excited ~~ at the thought of this really dreamy guy catching her in his strong masculine arms, with a good excuse. ~~ heart throbs ~~ She lets go of the bars and flings herself at Marvin.
Marvin catches Sanda neatly and sets her on her feet.
Bart has also heard the rumors, and is headed to the front door of the jail. He would have told his father, but Jed is off working on the roads to cover their land taxes. He figures he's probably the best person in town to handle any problems a channel might be having.
Bart notes that the deputy is away from his desk, and decides not to wait for his return. He peers through the door
Sanda: Oh... sugar!
Marvin: Hey there. I take it you are Bart Mullins.
Bart: Uh, yeah. How did you know?
Bart comes into the room and up to the bars.
Bart: Are you okay? What's going on?
Marvin: As far as I know, Bart Mullins is the only pre-Donor in Gumgeeville.
Bart: Uh, you can zlin that?
Bart's nager reaches out toward Marvin without Bart's knowledge or consent.
Marvin: It's a looooong story. What it boils down to is I've got a selyn donor here, a pre-Sime just before breakout there, and a job to do. And my Donor is wandering about somewhere out there.
Bart: Sanda? What are you doing here? Your ma will be really pissed off, and your dad won't be too happy either.
Sanda: Ba-art, Hajene here needs some selyn or this girl is going to die. So here I am.
Bart looks up at the bent bars in the window. Oh shit.
Marvin: Don't worry, I'll fix the bars later. Nobody's escaping, anyway.
Bart looks at Marvin, and at Sanda and at Fridda.
Bart's nager is trying to interact with Marvin, and Bart hasn't a clue how to control it. He tries to sort things out.
Bart: Uh, Hajene, Sanda is only twelve. She's not an adult even if she is Gen.
Sanda gives Bart a disgusted look.
Sanda: You don't have to tell anybody.
Marvin: Bart, this is life and death. Fridda there is in menar sleep, so her changeover is suspended, but if she stays there much longer she'll go into Noreen's Syndrome. And that's really bad. If I could use your selyn instead, I would, but you are too low-field.
Bart: Uh, Hajene Bibi said she could upgrade me. Can you take the extra? GN-1 and -2?
Marvin: I might be able to. But upgrading donors isn't my usual job, and I don't have much practice at it.
Marvin doesn't have much practice at taking GN-3 donations either, but no reason to mention that.
Bart makes a decision.
Bart: Okay, Hajene. What do you want me to do?
Marvin: I was just going to say "I can use your help." First of all, come in! Since you aren't trained, I want you to focus your attention on Sanda here, not on me. Focusing on me would just be, well, a distraction at this stage.
Marvin uses a tentacle to jimmy the lock.
Marvin: No reason to bend more bars than I have to, eh?
Sanda thinks this is even better. She has just a bit of a crush on Bart.
Bart comes into the cell and looks at Sanda.
Marvin: Remember to stay focused.
Bart: Okay, Hajene, I'll do my best.
Marvin: Sanda, I need you to give me your hands to hold.
Sanda: Okay Hajene. ~~ excitement ~~ delicious fear ~~ bravado ~~~
Marvin: I'm afraid this is going to frighten you. It's normal: most Gens are frightened when they see and feel tentacles for the first time. Normally your first donation would be taken by a specialist, not me, and you would have time to get over any anxiety. But Fridda can't wait.
Sanda takes Marvin's hands. Wow. They're hot and soooo masculine and strong.
Marvin: Okay. Here we go!
Sanda figures if Bart and even Vrian could do it, she can do it.
Marvin extends his handling tentacles and wraps them lightly but firmly about Sanda's arms, ready to force her to hold still, but not exerting any force yet.
Sanda: ~~ fascination ~~ excitement ~~ delicious fear ~~ pride ~~ bravado ~~~
Marvin: [softly] Bart, think calming thoughts.
Sanda: It's okay. It doesn't bother me. I'm not scared.
Sanda sure isn't going to look like a wimp in front of Bart.
Marvin, behind his showfield, firmly pushes aside the deliciousness of that fear. He thinks "Not my will, but thy will."
Marvin: Sanda, it's important not to lie to me. You are afraid, you know it, I know it, and denying it won't change a thing.
Bart tries to be ~~ calm ~~ and ~~ professional ~~ but can't help feeling ~~ attracted ~~ sympathetic ~~ and ~~ compassionate ~~. Well, and a bit ~~ excited ~~ and ~~ proud ~~ and ~~ nervous ~~ too.
Marvin extends his laterals onto the soft, cool Gen skin. Old memories awaken, which he firmly represses.
Marvin: Bart. It's Sanda who needs the compassion now. Not me.
Sanda: I'm not scared. Really.
Marvin rolls his eyes.
Sanda pouts. She thinks the laterals are kind of exciting, and is looking forward to the "kiss". Wow, wait until the other kids hear about it.
Marvin: All right, I'm going to start. Hold still.
Sanda puckers up.
Marvin presses his lips firmly against Sanda's and begins to glean selyn from the GN-3 level into his empty and aching secondary system.
Sanda: ~~ thrilled ~~ excited ~~ a bit of immature sexual desire ~~
Marvin forces himself to remain in channel's mode, no matter what.
Sanda can't believe she's really doing this. Wow. ~~ even more excited ~~
Marvin feels a bit of postsyndrome reawakening, but forces it down.
Bart tries to be very ~~ calm ~~ and ~~ professional ~~ but he has no idea what a Sime can or can't zlin or how to control what he's projecting, so there's a good bit of ~~ oh, dear, is the shit ever gonna hit the fan ~~ in there too.
Marvin nears the GN-3 barrier and vacuums all the droplets of loose selyn clinging to it into his secondary. He dismantles the lip contact.
Marvin: All done!
Marvin dismantles the lateral contact
Bart is ~~ intensely relieved ~~
Sanda: How did I do?
Marvin: Perfectly. You did perfectly.
Sanda is a child again, wanting praise for her accomplishment. ~~ pride ~~
Sanda: See, Bart, it's no big deal.
Bart: Yeah, Sanda. You did well.
Marvin: You held still and didn't struggle, and I was able to get enough selyn to keep Fridda there alive for the next month. And by that time she'll be in Simeland and safe. [firmly] But now you must go home. I won't be able to give Fridda a proper transfer with you still here.
Sanda: I don't get to watch? It's my selyn.
Marvin: No. First Transfer is a delicate business, and Fridda needs privacy.
Marvin is the one who needs the privacy, really.
Sanda: Does Bart get to stay?
Bart: I'll be glad to help you if I can, Hajene.
Marvin: You did very well too, Bart. You're going to be a great Donor when you get your training. But you do need that training first.
Bart wants to stay. Partly out of interest, partly out of his attraction to Simes in general, and channels in particular, which just keeps getting stronger.
Marvin: Right now, your control of your field is just too unstable for a transfer situation. You could hurt Fridda without meaning to. Or even me.
Bart: ~~ yearning to help ~~ desire to interact with a channel ~~~ helpless attraction ~~
Bart: Okay, Hajene. Can I get you anything, or do anything for you?
Marvin: As I said, you'll be a great Donor soon enough. But not quite yet. [smiles] I could use a drink of water. Could you hand me the jug there?
Bart hands Marvin the jug, unconsciously ~~ hoping ~~ he'll touch him with a tentacle.
Bart: I mean, outside.
Marvin: You could look for my Donor, Eugen. A big, heavy guy, kind of slow moving. If you find him, steer him back here.
Marvin reflects for the Nth time on the Gen propensity for getting lost.
Bart: Okay, I'll do that.
Marvin drinks deeply.
Marvin: Thanks. Want some?
Marvin extends the jug to Bart using his handling tentacles.
Bart: Uh, I guess so.
Bart takes the jug, slowly, looking into Marvin's eyes.
Marvin uses the selyn in his secondary to fade his showfield to ~~ neutral ~~.
Marvin: [quietly] Trust me. Your time has not yet come.
Bart is ~~ embarrassed ~~ and ~~ confused ~~ by his ~~ attraction ~~ to Marvin.
Bart: Yes, Hajene.
Bart takes the jug and sets it down.
Marvin: Go in peace.
Bart: C'mon, Sanda.
Marvin: Sanda, thanks for your help and your selyn. I'll tell Fridda about how you saved her life.
Sanda: Um, okay, but look, don't tell anybody else or I'll get in trouble, okay?
Marvin: Mum's the word.
Sanda has the childish delusion that she can brag about this to her friends, but it won't get back to her parents.
Sanda: Okay, let's go, Bart.
Sanda and Bart leave, Bart resolutely not looking behind him.
Marvin closes and relocks the cell door. He walks over to the cot and drapes two laterals over Fridda's neck.
Marvin: Wakee wakee, Fridda!
Marvin administers a weak nageric jolt to shake Fridda out of the menar sleep.
Fridda jerks awake. ~~ terror ~~ pain ~~ shock ~~
Marvin: Easy, easy.
Marvin uses his showfield to ease Fridda's pain.
Marvin: [gently] Didn't I tell you everything would be fine?
Fridda: What.. what's happened?
Fridda looks around and sees they're alone.
Marvin: My silly Donor has gone and lost himself somewhere, but a supply of selyn brought itself to me. A local Gen named Sanda, in fact. So we're all set, as soon as you reach breakout.
Fridda: ~~ confusion ~~ fear ~~~
Marvin: ~~ calm relaxation ~~
Marvin: Oooo-kay. You haven't had changeover training, I don't suppose, and I don't have time to teach you deep relaxation. So just do your best to stay calm, because panic can use your selyn reserve right up.
Fridda: ~~ fear ~~ pain ~~ need ~~
Marvin: That's it, that's it. Soon your tentacles will break out, and this whole nightmare will be over for good.
Fridda struggles to sit up, reaching for Marvin. She zlins him more than sees him.
Marvin holds Fridda down.
Marvin: Not yet, not yet.
Fridda struggles with him ~~ fear ~~ confusion ~~ pain ~~ desperation ~~
Marvin: ~~ calm patience professionalism ~~
Marvin zlins the state of Fridda's tentacle sheaths. He is concerned by the overly thick and bruised tentacle sheaths, but decides to wait.
Marvin: Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Marvin uses his revitalized secondary to impose a breathing rhythm on Fridda.
Marvin: Breathe. Breathe.
Fridda tries to sit up again, reaching for Marvin.
Fridda: Marvin.. my arms... help me...
Fridda screams hoarsely as the first breakout contraction hits her deeply bruised arms. ~~ agony ~~
Marvin: ~~ DAMPER ~~
Marvin: [to himself] Agh. Not good. One more, maximum, and if she doesn't break out properly ...
Marvin: Hang in there!
Fridda pants as the contraction subsides. Tears stream down her face.
Marvin: I know it hurt, I know ~~ sympathy ~~
Fridda: Help me... [hoarse whisper]
Marvin: One more time. Wait for it, wait....
Fridda again reaches instinctively for Marvin's arms, zlinning his field.
Marvin flares ~~ Gen enticement ~~
Marvin: Come on, come on, come on ...
Fridda screams again as the next contraction hits, even more painful and prolonged than the previous one.
Marvin makes a quick decision. He takes his knife out of his boot sheath and deliberately blunts it against the stone floor, not without wincing at the damage done to a good piece of steel.
Fridda curls up again into a fetal ball, gasping for air.
Marvin, with augmented speed, goes zip-zip-zip-zip on each arm, breaking the handling tentacles free.
Fridda barely feels the cuts as she tries to recover in preparation for the next contraction.
Marvin holds the knife with two tentacles, ready to use it again or drop it, as needed, and wraps the other handling tentacles around Fridda's arms as carefully as he can. He still hopes that the laterals will break out normally.
Fridda tenses as she feels another contraction begin to build.
Marvin uses four tentacles to force the fluid in the remaining tentacle sheaths downward inexorably toward the breakout point.
Fridda gasps as the contraction builds and screams again as it peaks. Her handling tentacles emerge most of the way but the contraction continues with increased force.
Marvin deftly uses the knife to free the laterals completely
Fridda is unable to breathe and all her muscles tense.
Marvin extends his laterals and hooks them around Fridda's laterals. He imposes ~~ relaxation ~~ on Fridda's field.
Marvin: Congratulations, Fridda.
Fridda tries to grasp Marvin's arms but her handling tentacles move only weakly, and the distal portions appear limp and paralyzed.
Marvin presses his lips to Fridda's, making the fifth contact point.
Fridda's instincts kick in at the fifth contact and she desperately draws selyn from Marvin with all her strength.
Marvin starts to supply selyn from his secondary system in a Tecton-perfect normal curve, starting slow, then moving faster and faster until the speed peaks.
Fridda: ~~ desperation ~~ intil ~~ kill lust ~~
Fridda: ~~ mindless, egocentric drive to strip selyn ~~
Marvin pours out selyn for all he is worth, supplying the ~~ slilbliss ~~ he felt with Eugen the day before.
Fridda pulls at the selyn source as hard as she can and the supply seems endless. ~~ intense relief ~~ salvation ~~ life ~~ joy ~~
Marvin begins to go down the far side of the curve, tapering off the speed of the transfer as evenly as he can. ~~ satisfaction ~~ ~~ relief from worry ~~ ~~ joy pleasure slil ~~
Fridda's draw slackens ahead of Marvin as she becomes replete. ~~ satisfaction ~~ relief ~~ gratitude ~~
Marvin: ~~ joy relief joy slil joy joy joy ~~
Marvin terminates the transfer with Fridda 100% replete and his secondary still containing enough residual selyn for control. He dismantles the lip contact.
Fridda slumps against Marvin's chest, gasping. ~~ relief ~~ gratitude ~~ exhaustion ~~ pain ~~
Marvin dismantles the remaining contacts and wraps his arms around Fridda, letting her luxuriate in his showfield.
Fridda begins to cry.
Fridda: Thank you...
Marvin: That's right, that's right, cry. Let your feelings out.
Marvin has tears coursing down his face too.
Marvin: We did it. And you are going to be fine, just fine.
Fridda: I was so afraid I might kill somebody... I can see how it happens... I couldn't have stopped....
Marvin: No, you couldn't. That's what it is to be Sime. You can run faster than a speeding arrow, and leap, well, short buildings with a single bound, but when you feel need, you have to act on it. But you will never, ever feel such a strong need again. From here on in it's downhill all the way.
Marvin lifts Fridda's head with his tentacles to look into her eyes.
Marvin: I mean it.
Fridda: Thank you. You saved me. ~~ gratitude ~~ exhaustion ~~ pain ~~ repletion ~~
Marvin: Many people saved you: me, your friend Sirtoss, my Donor Eugen, the train conductor, Mr. Sheriff out there, Sanda, whose selyn you're living on right now, and Bart, who filled in for Eugen.
Marvin carries on mentally: "Bibi, Seruffin, the Tecton, Rimon Farris and the One Billion. Out of death were we born."
Marvin extends his laterals over Fridda's paralyzed handling tentacles and ~~ radiates Genness ~~.
Fridda: That feels good.
Marvin: It's the other thing channels can do -- healing. Your tentacles should be able to move soon.
Fridda: I'm so tired. Can I sleep now?
Marvin: Sure. Lie down and scootch over. I'm about medium dead, and I need some sleep too. Simes don't sleep as much as Gens, but it's been a helluva day. ~~ sincerity safety ~~
Fridda smiles faintly.
Fridda lies down and makes room for Marvin.
Marvin lies down next to her, closes his eyes, and is asleep before his head hits what would be the pillow if there was one. Sleeping, he snuggles up to Fridda and stretches his arm over her.
Fridda snuggles back and falls asleep in Marvin's comforting field.