Marvin has decided to take a break from studies and see if there's anything at the free spread. He's hoping that there will be something worth eating for a pre-turnover Sime.
Marvin understands why the bosses are putting him through this retraining session, but he's not used to spending days and days under the same roof any more.
Marvin enters the Braket Central Sime Center cafeteria, which is pretty thinly populated after midnight, and heads over to the buffet table. He scoops up a little o'this, a little o'that, and carries his tray to a table for eight at which only two people are currently sitting.
Elaria is one of them, another Mule a few years younger than Marvin, and with a similar background.
Marvin nods as cheerily as he can manage to the two and commences eating.
Elaria takes another spoonful of her soup, which doesn't really appeal to her, even though she's only just past turnover.
Nirket is a TN-2 who normally works at the Sime Center, but is about to embark on an extended out-T excursion, thanks to Marvin.
Nirket wasn't looking forward to her next assignment, a channel locally known as Jiri the Jerk, but hopes that retainers will subdue him a bit. She can understand why, given the need to send someone out to replace Marvin for a few weeks, the Controller was most willing to make Jiri the one he could arrange to get out of zlinning range.
Elaria puts down her spoon and zlins Marvin with ~~ open curiosity ~~
Elaria: You're Marvin, aren't you?
Nirket sips her heavily sweetened tea and projects a little ~~ hungry ~~ to Elaria.
Elaria makes a face and picks up her spoon, but doesn't dip it in the soup quite yet.
Marvin: That's me. I'm sorry, I don't know your name.
Marvin isn't good at faces.
Elaria: Elaria. I'm Mule on the Jixom Hill route.
Marvin: Well, I was on the Hannard's Ford route. Now I'm on the books-to-bed route.
Elaria leans towards Marvin and lowers her voice.
Elaria: Did you really....serve a transfer?
Marvin: [cautiously] It's a matter of public record.
Elaria: I've always wondered: what's it really like?
Marvin is rather taken aback by this blunt request, and doesn't quite know how to answer it.
Marvin: Well, it was a difficult situation all around. When I first saw her, she was in an arrest, and I was too secondary-low and had no medications. So I tied her field and my Donor's in a knot, and figured whoever was going to give First Transfer could worry about it when the time came.
Elaria: Where did you learn to do that?
Marvin: It was strictly on-the-job training, and I had absolutely no idea whether it would work. The plain fact is, I was improvising every step of the way.
Marvin: Call me Rimon Farris.
Marvin pretends to look around anxiously to see if the Tecton Secret Police are anywhere in sight.
Elaria: I met a Farris channel once, at disjunction camp.
Marvin: Really? I've never met one, I don't think.
Elaria: Beak like a heron, and a nager you could float in forever. Not that you had a choice; that much selyn in one secondary system sort of takes you over.
Elaria: So why didn't your Donor give the transfer?
Marvin: I was high-field, so he was low. Just the way it goes, I guess.
Elaria: You couldn't reach your next Sime Center in time?
Marvin: What with the lateral damage and the bad roadbed on the train, I was afraid to try.
Elaria: There was lateral damage?
Marvin: I meant to say, arm damage. No, in fact there was no permanent lateral damage, just a severe case of Handling Noodle.
Elaria: So what did you do about it?
Marvin: I stopped the train and carried -- my patient -- to the local jail. So far so good, but then I wound up losing it and using an out-T minor as a donor. Baaaaaad idea.
Nirket winces, but keeps her nager steady.
Elaria's eyes widen.
Elaria: You took a donation, too?
Marvin: Had to. I tried messing about with a reverse shunt, but I couldn't get the selyn to stay shunted. It kept pouring back into my primary system no matter what. Anyhow, by the time all that had happened, the whole First Transfer dream had turned into a prolonged, painful, messy nightmare.
Elaria, like many disjunct Mules, has often fantasized about what it would be like, if she had been allowed to function as a "real" channel.
Elaria: From an out-Territory Gen?
Marvin: I was out-Territory, after all. If I could have gotten an adult volunteer, I'd have been in gravy. As it is, I'm in post-digested gravy.
Nirket likes Marvin, usually, but he really is a bit too gross sometimes. Especially at the dining table.
Marvin: Sorry about that. ~~ contrition ~~
Elaria: Still...you got to take a real donation.
Elaria is ~~ envious ~~
Nirket: At least you had Eugen there. He does ~~ steady ~~ really well, I understand.
Nirket understands that Eugen does 'inert' and 'stubborn' really well, too.
Marvin: Umm, no. I sent him out of the jail to try to round up that hypothetical adult volunteer.
Elaria: Did the Gen know you were disjunct?
Marvin: She was an out-T kid. She doesn't know disjunct from trin tea.
Elaria: So she just treated you like any other channel?
Marvin: Anyhow, it turns out that taking donations isn't much different, if the Gen is enthusiastic (and she was) from taking an offload from a channel. You use your secondary system and glean what you find.
Nirket: You took this first donation from an out-T minor without a Donor to support you, Marvin?
Nirket does the nageric equivalent of rolling her eyes.
Marvin: ~~ shame embarrassment ~~ Yes. That was my first mistake. And you know the line about how many mistakes you get in this line of work, eh?
Marvin: I'm sorry, Elaria, you were asking me about "treating me like any other channel". The fact is, she had a very obvious crush on me. I can't say I didn't take advantage of that to gain her trust.
Elaria starts laughing.
Elaria: You don't mean... She thought you wanted to kiss her?
Marvin: ~~ embarrassment suppressed laughter ~~ I guess.
Nirket shakes her head. How does Marvin get into these situations?
Elaria: Wouldn't she be a little young, even for you?
Marvin: Umm, you might well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.
Marvin radiates ~~ creepiness ~~
Elaria rolls her eyes.
Nirket: Come on, Marvin, she must have had second thoughts about your heart-felt passion for her when the tentacles came out, no?
Marvin: What can I say? If anything, I'd say that added to the titillation value.
Elaria: It sounds like the kid's a real pervert, herself, at least by out-Territory standards.
Nirket: And what was the poor changeover doing while you were romancing this infant pervert?
Marvin: ~~ mockery ~~ Oh, that was simple. I just put her on ice for a bit. She never felt a thing.
Elaria: Put her on ice?
Marvin: ~~ Seriously ~~, I'm not sure why her changeover wasn't progressing at this point. It may have been the aftereffects of the arrest, or the general trauma -- the arms were the worst, but not the only thing -- or something else. In any case, there turned out to be plenty of time.
Elaria frowns at Marvin.
Elaria: What is it you're not saying?
Marvin: ~~ further embarrassment ~~
Marvin: Well, I believed at the time that I had put her into menar sleep. But the First Order channel who checked her out later on said I definitely hadn't, so I'm baffled.
Elaria starts laughing again.
Elaria: You invented a brand new functional! You really are a Farris, aren't you?
Marvin throws his head back and roars with laughter.
Marvin: No, I'm not a Farris channel, I'm a Marvin channel. Here, want a quick demonstration of Marvin Power?
Nirket is glad she can't zlin, sometimes. Like now, for example.
Marvin assembles a nageric lightning ball and tosses it toward Elaria.
Elaria yelps, and fumbles under slight augmentation to ward off the ball.
Elaria: Where did you learn that??
Marvin: It's eeeeeeeasy -- if you're a Marvin channel. Here's another one. Try catching it on your laterals this time.
Marvin manufactures a slightly less potent ball and sends it toward Elaria in a high parabolic toss.
Elaria holds up her hands, and manages to catch the ball, this time.
Marvin: Ahaaaaaa! You too are a Marvin channel! I always knew there had to be more of us, somewhere!
Marvin ~~ laughs ~~
Elaria inspects the ball for a moment, then pitches it back to Marvin.
Marvin waves his laterals at the ball and sends it almost straight up in the air and spinning rapidly.
Marvin: This time absorb the ball.
Marvin flips it gently back to Elaria.
Elaria catches it, zlins it dubiously for a moment, then lets her laterals touch it.
Marvin: That's it. Just let it sink in and feel its structure. Then try to exude a bubble of selyn from your own system, give it a good hearty topspin, and send it my way.
Elaria experiments a few moments before she figures out how to absorb the ball, then frowns.
Elaria forces some selyn out, and molds it into something a lot more like an ellipsoid than a ball.
Elaria throws it towards Marvin.
Marvin catches it deftly and spins it with his laterals.
Elaria: What are they good for?
Marvin: Not a fleckin thing, as far as I know. The great thing about being a Marvin channel is that you can do all these functionals that have absolutely no use whatsoever. Like this one.
Marvin rapidly pulses his laterals to spin Elaria's ball until it is a perfect sphere, and then piles on the speed until the sphere deforms into a toroid of revolution.
Elaria zlins, ~~ enraptured ~~
Marvin spins the toroid and sends it toward Nirket's head, where it hangs for a few seconds and then slowly settles around Nirket, stretching and shrinking to track the contours of her field and finally settling around her feet, where it dissipates.
Marvin finds himself giggling uncontrollably.
Marvin: Whoo, I didn't know just how that was going to work, did I?
Elaria: A channel mutation whose purpose is to have fun. I think that may be of more use to the Tecton than the Farrises, actually.
Marvin holds his hands over his head and makes the-winnah-and-next-champeen gestures.
Nirket: Marvin, you're a maniac. So how did you get yourself and your client out of there alive?
Marvin calms himself down by force nagure.
Marvin: The folks from the nearby Sime Center came and got us, and I got a rocket from the First diplomat who was staying there at the time, and I got sent back in-T and got another rocket, and got sent for retraining, and here I am.
Elaria: So was it worth it?
Marvin: Personally, just for me, yes, absolutely. In terms of risk to the First Contract, no. When Eugen didn't come back in time, I should have euthanized her and that would have been that.
Nirket shudders. She isn't looking forward to going out into Wild Gen country, where choices like that are necessary.
Marvin: It's important to be able to make tough choices, but it's even more important not to get addicted to making them.
Elaria looks at Nirket.
Elaria: It's not any worse than Sime Territory was, before Unity, you know.
Nirket: Well, before Unity, I'd have been a Choice Kill, so I have to agree with you there.
Nirket turns to Marvin.
Nirket: Any advice about the route? Jiri and I are getting sent out there tomorrow morning.
Marvin: Jiri, eh? I hadn't heard that. By what I hear, it couldn't have happened to a nicer fella. ~~ irony ~~
Nirket rolls her eyes.
Marvin: The route, just as a route, is nothing special. Give my regards to Hajene Bibi at the Ford, though. ~~ affection ~~
Nirket smiles, glad that Marvin has a friend out there.
Nirket: I shall. My Genlan is marginally better than Jiri's so I might be able to keep the two of us from being murdered by doing all the talking to the locals.
Marvin: Umm, ah, yes, I think that might be wise. Of course, keeping your channel bound and gagged instead of just in retainers might have merit as well.
Nirket: Don't I wish. Gagged, especially. Too bad I can't do that Marvin channel functional that puts a Sime out cold despite perverted kissing and donating going on in the same cell.
Marvin: Here, let me show you a little trick -- but only for emergencies. Elaria, I'm going to use you as the victim, okay?
Elaria: Umm...all right. What do you want me to do?
Marvin: When I raise my hand, just try to talk.
Elaria: All right.
Marvin: Okay, Nirket, the idea here is to use your tongue to press down on your voice box, like you're going to make a [gug] sound, but don't make the sound. Then project that toward Elaria.
Nirket practices it, without projecting. It's sort of a non-retch. Trust Marvin to come up with something gross.
Marvin: Try again, but this time hold it in place.
Nirket: Do I wait for your signal?
Nirket hopes Marvin recalls that Gens have to breathe.
Marvin raises his hand.
Nirket squashes her larynx with the posterior portion of her tongue and ~~ projects ~~ the gooshy choked sensation at poor Elaria.
Elaria starts reciting the Tecton regulations regarding handwashing after meals, then gags halfway through the first subparagraph as Nirket's projection hits her.
Marvin lowers his hand.
Nirket raises her tongue.
Marvin: See? Useful for shutting up your channel in an emergency.
Nirket: Sorry, Elaria. Do you really think that would work on Jiri, Marvin?
Marvin: Well, it worked on me just fine when Eugen, umm, showed me how.
Elaria swallows a few times, just to make sure that she isn't really choking.
Marvin: ~~ support ~~
Nirket: Well, I'll keep it in mind. If Jiri complains to the Controller, and the Controller is willing to listen to him, what worse can he do to me?
Marvin: Well, here's hoping you avoid the Fate Worse Than Death, and pleeeease have all your out-T ducks in a row. Learn from your Uncle Marvin, and neeeeeeext month, I'll show you how to put a Sime out cold no matter what's going on in the cell.
Nirket: Um, Marvin, can you guarantee the Sime will wake up again? In the same condition he started off?
Marvin gives a quick nod.
Marvin: Absotively. Let's just say it's a matter of artistic thermoregulation.
Elaria: Remind me not to volunteer for that particular demonstration.
Marvin: No, indeed. I'll be the guinea pig.
Nirket thinks it's a real waste, making Marvin work as a mule. He'd liven up any Sime Center as a working channel.
Nirket: Um, Marvin, remember to show me how to wake up a Sime whose been Marvin-channeled out cold before you have me try it on you, right?
Marvin: Count on it.
Nirket: Anyhow, I should get some sleep. Anything you want me to bring you from out-T, guys? Garlic sausages?
Marvin: Thanks. Garlic sausage would be great.
Nirket smiles and waves goodbye as she gets up and leaves.
Elaria waits until the Gen is safely out of sight, and pushes away her still half-full bowl of soup.
Elaria: I think I'll get a little rest, myself. I'm off on the road again tomorrow. Maybe I'll see you the next time I come through.
Marvin: Yeah, I have to hit the books again ~~ thump, thump ~~ myself.
Elaria chuckles, then makes her way for the door.
Marvin gets up from his table, busses the trays, and goes out the door in a far better mood than when he went in.