Strangers in Strange Lands: Episode 12

Marvin walks up the street from the Frederickton train station to the Old Frederickton Hotel, which now serves as the Sime Center. He's softly singing "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" in English. He enjoys taking little walks in these old market towns: they have more atmosphere than anywhere else in either Territory.

Marvin is making his last stop for the day: after collecting his load here, he'll require the rest.

Wyner is sitting in his bare office at the Frederickton Sime Center. He's a Second Order channel who was sent out-T not long ago after some of his comments about his Controller got back to said Controller. He is not happy with his current placement.

Marvin wishes the town had kept the old hotel as a hotel and built a new Sime Center instead of a new hotel, but he has to admit it probably isn't practical.

Wyner is feeling more put upon than usual. He gets all the dirty jobs since he's new here, and one was to collect the selyn from the other channels and dump it on the mule, if he ever shows up.

Marvin opens the front door of the hotel, which is not locked. He goes up to the old desk and rings the bell.

Wyner isn't quite in need yet, but the over-full secondary and depleted primary are making him feel uncomfortable and irritated. He also anticipates feeling dirty making lateral contact with a disjunct. Disjuncts are uncommon in-T these days.

Marvin asks his Donor: "Would you mind seeing what's going on? Usually Syrus comes down when I ring the bell."

Lisa, Marvin's Donor, goes up the stairs to try to find out what's what.

Wyner figures he might as well wait for the mule in the lobby and heads towards the stairs.

Lisa sees Wyner at the top of the stairs and figures she's on a roll.

Lisa: Hajene? I'm looking for Hajene Syrus: would that be you?

Wyner can zlin that the woman at the bottom of the stairs is a Donor.

Wyner: I'm Hajene Wyner. Syrus is back in-T. Is the mule here?

Wyner refrains from making a comment like "lucky bastard" about Syrus.

Lisa finds this reference to Marvin offensive, but manages to keep it out of her nager.

Lisa: Hajene Marvin is downstairs, yes.

Wyner: Good.

Wyner floats down the stairs with unconscious Sime grace, hitting about every third step. He's been cautioned about doing this when the local barbarians are in view, but he doesn't zlin any around.

Wyner: Good evening, Hajene. Marvin, is it? I'm Wyner.

Wyner offers a few tentacles to brush.

Marvin brushes tentacles and acknowledges his name.

Marvin: Boy howdy, am I glad to be here. It's been a long hard day, Hajene.

Wyner: I suppose they have your usual room ready for you. Can I dump this selyn now? We could go to one of the donation rooms.

Marvin: By all means. Feeling a little overstuffed, eh?

Wyner: Yeah. I'm not used to this.

Marvin thinks Wyner has a story or two to tell.

Wyner leads the way to a donation room.

Lisa comes back down the stairs and tags after Marvin and Wyner.

Wyner opens a door, enters and sits on the transfer lounge.

Marvin sits down next to Wyner.

Lisa moves to a neutral point where she can support Marvin without upsetting Wyner -- she hopes.

Wyner offers his arms, ~~ eager ~~ to get this over with, concealing his ~~ slight disgust ~~ at the disjunct mark in Marvin's nager.

Marvin ~~ recoils ~~ inwardly from Wyner's not-so-well-concealed disgust, but grabs Wyner's arms anyway and extends his laterals.

Marvin: You may draw when ready, Hajene.

Wyner smiles briefly, completes the contacts and pushes selyn at Marvin.

Marvin draws quickly but steadily until Wyner's primary and secondary systems are in balance again.

Marvin: There. Should I go ahead and draw further?

Wyner: You're welcome to it. It's not like we need it to do transfers here.

Wyner is rather proud of his skill at serving transfer to renSimes and the lack of dispensary work is another reason he dislikes this posting.

Marvin resumes the fifth contact and draws more slowly until Wyner's secondary is about 10% full.

Marvin: Go ahead and dismantle, Hajene. If I take any more I'll be too full for my other, umm, clients.

Wyner dismantles the contact and tells Marvin his estimate of the amount of selyn transferred to check against Marvin's.

Lisa moves until she is supporting Marvin properly in the new ambient.

Marvin: Sounds correct to me, Hajene.

Marvin leans back and waits for the recovery transients in his system to settle down.

Wyner: Good. You do the paperwork and I'll sign it.

Wyner feels a lot better without his secondary stuffed full. His systems rebalance.

Marvin takes a form out of his backpack, which is sitting in the corner where he left it.

Marvin: Okay ... okay ... right... right ... Frederickton ... dynopters ... Wyner. Sign here, Hajene.

Marvin passes form and pen to Wyner.

Wyner reads and signs the form.

Lisa: Your full name, if you please, Hajene. Hajene Marvin always forgets.

Wyner prints his full name under his illegible signature: Wyner Klyd Lurgee, QN-2

Marvin gives Lisa the hairy eyeball.

Marvin: Thanks, Hajene. Tell me, do you have anything on your schedule right now?

Wyner tries to decide whether to tell Marvin he has a lot of important office work (untrue) or not.

Wyner: Why do you ask?

Marvin: Well, it seems to me that this posting is rather stressful for you, and I wondered if you might like to talk about it for a bit.

Marvin: ~~ warmly ~~ I find it often helps.

Wyner: You mean aside from being stuck in Genland? I can't even go out the door without retainers, for one.

Marvin: Fair enough. But that would be true of any Sime. I know these out-T postings aren't exactly challenging professionally, eh?

Wyner snorts.

Wyner: Nothing but donations. We don't even do any medical work, to avoid getting the local doctors annoyed.

Wyner doesn't get to manage any changeovers because he has the lowest status and his English (and attitude toward out-T people) is poor.

Lisa raises one eyebrow.

Marvin: I see. So, collectorium-orium-orium till you drop, then start over a few hours later, then? Or is it just doing exercises because there's no real work at all?

Marvin doubts the latter.

Wyner: Well, I do my shift every day and take my turns on call at night. There's enough work to stave off entran at least.

Marvin: ~~ surprise ~~ Night? I'd think there wouldn't be any donors at night, only changeovers.

Wyner: No changeovers have shown up when I was on call so far. The channels here with more seniority take them anyway.

Marvin: I seem to recall that there have been fewer changeovers lately than expected.

Marvin doesn't do escort from Frederickton as a rule, but he and Syrus have chatted quite a bit over the months.

Wyner: You'd have to ask someone else. I've only been here a few weeks.

Marvin: Ah. Then you missed Hajene Jiri's circuits?

Lisa stares at the ceiling and hopes Marvin can keep his mouth shut about Jiri the Jerk....

Wyner: I suppose so. The other staff said something about you being in trouble and another channel covering for you on your route? Was that Hajene Jiri?

Wyner examines Marvin and tries to remember the gossip. At the time he heard it, he was so annoyed about his new position that he wasn't listening carefully.

Marvin: That would be him. He was covering for me while the Tecton was treating me for excess initiative.

Wyner wonders what constitutes excess initiative in a mule, and how they're punished for it.

Marvin smiles wryly.

Marvin: I've definitely learned my lesson now, oh yes. Excess initiative is a very serious disease, and nothing to take lightly.

Wyner: I see. ~~ mystified ~~

Marvin: It can take you from a little unscheduled escort duty to threatening the First Contract in just a few hours. If you detect any symptoms in yourself, I suggest you turn yourself in at once!

Wyner figures he's safe. He's had no desire to exhibit any initiative since he got this placement.

Wyner: I'll be sure to do so. Uh... What happened to you?

Wyner figures there are limits to how you can punish a mule. After all, one of the worst punishments for a working channel is to make him work as a mule.

Marvin: Nothing much. I had to do some research and write some papers, and I ended up spending some time with a class of new renSimes. It was all about convincing a certain Someone that I'd learned my lesson already.

Wyner: At least you don't have to worry about entran.

Marvin: Not as a general rule, although while I was in-T I was pretty much being treated as a, well, ordinary working channel. For me, that is borderline entran.

Lisa can't believe Marvin believes he can get away with this outrageous exaggeration.

Wyner doesn't understand what Marvin means by "being treated as a working channel". They obviously didn't let him work dispensary or collectorium. He wonders what this guy is bullshitting him about.

Marvin notes the united skepticism of his two interlocutors.

Marvin: What I mean is, they had me doing anti-entran outfunctions equivalent to about what an ordinary Second would require.

Wyner is ~~ unimpressed ~~

Marvin: ~~ stung ~~ Well, you may think it was no big deal, Hajene. But I assure you it hurt.

Wyner looks to Lisa, wondering just what's going on here.

Lisa gives Marvin the hairy eyeball for a change.

Marvin pulls himself together.

Marvin: In any case, it's over now, and you're the one who's stuck with what you consider a punishment assignment, eh?

Wyner, as a normal, nonjunct working channel regards himself as a different order of being than Marvin, and it wouldn't occur to him to compare their luck at getting good or bad assignments.

Wyner: I suppose you're used to being out-T.

Marvin: Well, I was born here, and I've spent essentially my whole life here except for First Year, so yes.

Wyner: This is my first time out-T. I hope it's my last -- I much prefer civilization.

Marvin shrugs.

Marvin: [philosophically] We get to choose some things, we don't get to choose others.

Wyner has already vowed to be more careful of whom he criticizes his management to. He figures this will help guarantee better things, or at least not worse things, being chosen for him.

Lisa likes Marvin better when he's being amusing, and wishes he'd get back to it.

Marvin: Anyhow, I thought you might want to engage in a simulated transfer or two, just to sort of keep your hand in.

Wyner is ~~ startled ~~. Is this the sort of "excess initiative" that got Marvin punished?

Wyner: A simulated transfer?

Marvin: Yes. Using the secondary system only, of course, but with the nageric signature of an actual transfer.

Wyner is ~~ suspicious ~~ that Marvin is either trying to get him in trouble, or wants him to engage in some kind of perverted disjunct thing.

Marvin: [seemingly oblivious] It's simple. Have one of your colleagues fill your secondary system from hers, and then have her simulate just-short-of-hard need. Then, well, just give transfer.

Wyner hasn't done that sort of nageric messing around since First Year. He probably wouldn't admit to having done it then. He's relieved that Marvin doesn't seem to be proposing that the two of them do it now.

Lisa is trying very hard not to hold her breath.

Wyner is ~~ revolted ~~ at the idea of letting Marvin pull some kind of junct style transfer out of him.

Marvin: Just a suggestion. Use what you can and let go of the rest.

Wyner: I'll bear it in mind.

Marvin smiles benignly.

Marvin: In any event, it's been a long day, as I said, and Lisa needs her beauty sleep.

Lisa blushes.

Wyner: And I must get back to my paperwork. I assume you can find your accommodations?

Marvin: Sure, no problem.

Marvin detaches one copy of the form and hands it to Wyner.

Wyner: It was a pleasure meeting the two of you.

Marvin: Likewise, I'm sure.

Lisa: Glad to meet you, Hajene.

Marvin: [sings in English] Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to bed we go....

Lisa checks out the ceiling again.

Wyner takes the form, nods to Lisa and leaves. Up to now he thought the natives were the worst he'd have to deal with out here.

Marvin squelches himself, gets up from the lounge, and waves Lisa to follow him.

Marvin: I'll just stretch out with you, if you don't mind. Sectuib and Companion among the juncts....

Marvin giggles.

Lisa gets the giggles too.

Lisa: Sure, let's go.

Return to Table of Contents