Strangers in Strange Lands: Episode 14

Seruffin has allowed Gerrhonot to persuade him to take a constitutional through the streets of New Washington.

Seruffin finds that having to wear retainers and endure the distrust of passing Gens tends to negate any positive effects of fresh air and exercise for him. He is, however, aware that Gerrhonot enjoys getting out, and doesn't suffer these discomforts.

Gerrhonot wants to take good care of his channel, so leads him to a local park, away from crowds.

Seruffin believes in taking care of the Gen who takes care of him, and so far, it hasn't been too bad.

Gerrhonot has been walking close to his channel and ~~ protecting ~~ him carefully. He relaxes a little as they enter the uncrowded park.

Seruffin sees some greenery ahead, and hears an awful screeching noise.

Gerrhonot was planning to suggest they walk around the weird statue and some flower beds, but some strange sounds seem to be coming from that area.

Seruffin: What the shen is that? Cats mating?

Gerrhonot: Um. I don't know. It wouldn't be some kind of lawn mower would it?

Gerrhonot listens more carefully, as the sound stops and then resumes, sounding more sort of, well, almost musical now.

Seruffin: No, I don't think any appliance manufacturer would dare sell a machine that sounded like that. They want to keep customers, after all.

Gerrhonot: It sounds a little better now. Is that somebody singing along with it?

Seruffin takes a few steps forward, out of the heavy protection Gerrhonot has been providing.

Seruffin staggers as waves of ~~ misery, grief, remorse, and enjoyment ~~ wash through the ambient, clearly zlinnable even through retainers.

Seruffin: Shen! Something's not right over there.

Gerrhonot is ~~ alarmed ~~ and moves forward to cover Seruffin with ~~ protection and support ~~

Seruffin is a channel, and a diplomat, used to being responsible for everything, and so he automatically starts towards the problem at a brisk walk to investigate.

Gerrhonot follows, staying close enough that he can support his channel. It sounds more like music and singing now. Some kind of sad song.

Ziggar is halfway through his rendition of "Gone to the Iburan Choice Auction", accompanied by Pistareen on the bagpipes.

Ziggar is unaware that a First Order channel and Donor are approaching, so has made no effort to tune his nageric projection to the sensibilities of his audience. He seldom gets to just let it rip in real performances.

Pistareen of course has no clue about the nageric performance or the channel.

Seruffin, as the channel in question, has no clue why these two Gens are making that awful noise while dancing around the peculiar statue.

Gerrhonot recognizes the song, a lament from the bad old junct days, in Simelan.

Seruffin can see that the Gens are not in immediate danger, despite the nageric onslaught, and so he pauses at the edge of the open plaza around the statue to observe.

Gerrhonot: Hajene, are you okay?

Gerrhonot can see he isn't.

Seruffin: That nageric projection is... powerful. It's part of the performance, though, I think. Isn't that the song about the Choice Auction?

Gerrhonot: Yeah, it's a really sad song. I wonder why he's doing the nageric part -- there aren't any other Simes around, are there?

Gerrhonot puts his arm around Seruffin to intensify his ~~ protection ~~

Seruffin: No. And if there were, he'd have no business projecting like that, anyway.

Seruffin leans against Gerrhonot.

Seruffin: At least, not if he didn't want to be arrested for endangering the public peace.

Gerrhonot: I guess he figures it's safe to do it out-T here. You wouldn't expect there to be Simes.

Gerrhonot would like to offer to go ask the guy to tone it down, but doesn't want to leave Seruffin alone.

Seruffin: No, you wouldn't. He's really getting into his projection, and he's over midfield.

Seruffin winces as the duet reaches the point where the widow's youngest daughter is sold off.

Gerrhonot: Do you want to move away? I think they're getting near the end. ~~ comfort ~~ safety ~~ protection ~~

Seruffin shakes his head.

Seruffin: We ought to remind him that he should be careful. Between the Embassy and the Sime Center, there are more Simes around than one might think. And they don't necessarily have a Donor to protect them.

Ziggar's projection moves toward ~~ resignation ~~ sadness ~~ calm ~~ as he sings the verse in which the widow advises the audience.

Seruffin isn't eager to go out there until the song is done, however.

Ziggar sings the final chorus, then repeats it, more softly.

Seruffin relaxes a bit as the violence of the projection ebbs.

Gerrhonot notes that Seruffin is less affected now, and sees the two Gens grinning happily at each other after the song ends.

Ziggar is really ~~ pleased ~~ at how well the bagpipes suited the song, and ~~ delighted ~~ to have met Pistareen.

Seruffin sighs in relief, and starts forward in a purposeful manner, not bothering to hide his retainers under his cloak, as he often does when traveling out-T.

Pistareen is ~~ very happy ~~ to have escaped the tedium of academia for a while. He's also ~~ enjoying ~~ himself immensely.

Ziggar turns and sees a couple of Tecton uniforms coming at him. One, a man his own age, is wearing retainers.

Ziggar: Oh, shit.

Ziggar would say 'shen' in-T, but he's fluent in both vernaculars. He's also ~~ intensely embarrassed ~~ at having obviously annoyed this Sime.

Pistareen: What's the matter?

Ziggar: Those two guys coming towards us are wearing Tecton uniforms. One's a Sime, probably a channel.

Pistareen: ~~ puzzled ~~ That counts as a problem?

Ziggar: The nageric projection I did with the song was sort of loud -- must have really annoyed the Sime.

Pistareen: ~~ partial comprehension ~~ Oh. You were projecting the feelings of the song in your, er, field?

Pistareen wonders whether he was doing the same thing.

Ziggar: Yeah. It's what I do when I perform, but then I'm watching the Simes in the audience so I don't overdo it. This time I just let it rip.

Ziggar arranges his face and nager to meet the channel. ~~ embarrassed ~~ apologetic ~~ non-hostile ~~ calm ~~

Seruffin nods a greeting.

Seruffin: Gentlemen. That was quite a... performance.

Pistareen starts to bow and say "Thank you, thank you", as usual, but figures he'd better hold his peace.

Ziggar: Thank you. I apologize if I annoyed you. I had no idea you were within zlinning range.

Ziggar isn't familiar with the range of a First Order channel, but he was obviously within it.

Seruffin: Fortunately, Sosu Gerrhonot was able to shield me from the worst of it. However, there are more Simes in this part of New Washington than you might think. You might bear that in mind, next time.

Ziggar: Yes, Hajene. ~~ sincerely apologetic ~~

Seruffin's tone isn't particularly upset, but it does carry a subtle warning, making it clear that while the current offense is forgiven, subsequent ones will be treated more definitively.

Pistareen figures he'd better apologize too.

Pistareen: My apologies, Hajene.

Seruffin: There was no harm done--this time.

Gerrhonot examines the bagpipe, trying to figure out what it is. He's glad that the two men are deferring to Seruffin. It seems natural to him, but he knows it doesn't to out-T Gens.

Ziggar: Might I sing something a bit lighter for you? To make up for the previous effects?

Seruffin is aware of Gerrhonot's interest in the pair of Gens, and sees no harm in indulging it.

Seruffin: That's very kind of you.

Gerrhonot likes music. He used to play a zorgol when he was a kid. It passed the time while watching the sheep.

Ziggar: Would you like to suggest one of your favorites?

Ziggar is happy to have a Simelan speaking audience again, and the chance to exercise his skills as a nageric performer to someone who can zlin it.

Seruffin: Do you know the one about the kitten and the butterfly?

Ziggar is ~~ surprised ~~. He figured he'd want a love song or something patriotic like "The Golden Plains of Nivet".

Seruffin spends far too much of his time doing politics to be interested in a patriotic air, and love songs would just make him miss Bibi more.

Ziggar wonders whether there's another song about a kitten and a butterfly. The only one he knows is a children's song. He used to sing it with his kids.

Ziggar: Okay, sure.

Ziggar starts in to the song. ~~ happy ~~ peppy ~~ cheerful ~~

Seruffin finds this projection far more pleasant than the last one.

Pistareen picks up the happy tune -- a kid's song, he figures -- and starts to play it. The great pipes aren't really the best instrument for the purpose, but any port in a storm.

Seruffin was perhaps more strongly affected by the Choice Auction ballad than most channels would be, but then, he's one of the very few living channels who grew up attending them.

Ziggar thinks the pipes are nowhere near as suited to this song as the last. In fact, it gives the impression that that butterfly and kitten are each tethered to bricks.

Pistareen, not being a telepath, goes on playing. Lyrics to him are about singability, period.

Gerrhonot enjoys the singing, even if it is a kid's tune. He finds the combination with bagpipes rather bizarre, but many things out-T are. He watches Seruffin to make sure he's all right.

Seruffin is weathering the tale of the brick-chained kitten and butterfly very well, considering.

Ziggar does a few nageric riffs, showing the kitten's ~~ frustration ~~ at missing the butterfly again and the ~~ happy smirking ~~ of the clever butterfly as it escapes the kitten's cute little claws.

Seruffin is glad to zlin that Ziggar's control is very good, when he knows he's being zlinned.

Seruffin is ~~ satisfied ~~ that Ziggar's uncontrolled projection will not be repeated unless he really is alone, out of zlinning range of any Sime.

Ziggar finishes the song and bows to his audience.

Seruffin: An excellent performance. Thank you.

Seruffin applauds.

Gerrhonot smiles and applauds as well.

Ziggar: Would you care for another selection?

Pistareen is trying to maintain a low profile, as much as that's possible when you are, or have been, playing the great bagpipes.

Seruffin is learning that a little bagpipe music goes a long, long way, but he is a diplomat.

Seruffin: Certainly.

Ziggar: I should introduce myself, first. I'm Ziggar, and I haven't yet learned the name of this Gen musician here.

Pistareen: Pistareen, Hajene. From NWU.

Seruffin: Pleased to meet you both. I'm Hajene Seruffin, and this is Sosu Gerrhonot.

Ziggar is ~~ startled ~~. The Controller at the Dam site when Ziggar arrived there was named Seruffin, and it's not at all a common name. The Controller and his Donor took off under mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards.

Gerrhonot: Pleased to meet you.

Seruffin zlins the startlement.

Pistareen is on his best behavior, because although he doesn't really understand what's going on, he isn't about to betray a fellow artist before Authority.

Seruffin: Is something distressing you, Ziggar?

Ziggar: No, Hajene. I just thought I recognized your name.

Seruffin: From where, if you don't mind my asking?

Ziggar wishes he hadn't said anything.

Ziggar: I spent the winter up at the Snake River Dam project.

Seruffin: I see.

Seruffin also prefers not to discuss the mess at the Snake River Dam, or the measures the Tecton has been taking to clean it up.

Ziggar: What would you like me to sing next?

Ziggar can think of quite a long list of songs he wouldn't like to sing for Seruffin.

Seruffin: Perhaps something from this side of the border?

Ziggar: Unfortunately I've only been here a few weeks. Most of what I learned from the out-T Gens at the Dam was pretty rude.

Ziggar: But there are a number of songs sung on both sides of the border, even if I don't have the words in both languages for all of them.

Ziggar sings a bit of the Unity song, each verse from a different version - "peace for Sime and Gen forever" "Solidarity forever" "Glory glory hello you all" etc.

Pistareen really doesn't think the pipes are a winner in this situation. It's on days like this that he wishes he played the banjo or something.

Ziggar: One I really like though, is "Knock on the Door".

Pistareen raises his left eyebrow in ~~ surprise ~~

Seruffin: I'm not familiar with it, I'm afraid.

Ziggar sings the verses of the Gen and Simelan versions alternately, with suitable emotions, carefully tuned to Seruffin's reactions.

Gerrhonot listens raptly.

Seruffin: An interesting parallel between the two versions.

Ziggar: Yes. This is the first time I've tried singing them together like that.

Seruffin: It's a poignant contrast, although I expect it will be less effective with an audience that only speaks one of the languages.

Pistareen: ~~ agreement ~~

Ziggar: I've been thinking about translating the English version into Simelan. I'm considering how to make the verses of the two versions sound distinct in one language.

Seruffin: You could use different accents, and a different nageric projection, as well.

Ziggar: Yes. Or I could get one of my kids to sing a duet with me, but they're all too busy to travel with their dad these days.

Seruffin: I hope you find a solution that allows you to sing both versions in the same language. It could help build understanding between the Territories, and that's always in short supply.

Ziggar: It could, although it does bring back memories of the days you and I grew up in.

Seruffin: What better way to persuade people it's worth a bit of effort to prevent such times from coming again?

Ziggar: Well, better that than the lament I blasted you with earlier.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: I'm sure you would have made it more appealing, if you'd known I was there.

Ziggar: I do tune the nagerics to the audience reaction, and it's not one I perform often, but I think I perform it well.

Ziggar regards it as one of his best pieces, but it's not real popular in most porstan parlors.

Seruffin: Indeed. Well, gentlemen, it's been a pleasure, but Gerrhonot and I must get back to the Embassy.

Pistareen: And I must get back to the university.

Ziggar: And my daughter will be coming to meet me shortly. Good afternoon all.

Pistareen finds himself reinvigorated enough by this incident to be willing to face academia for a little bit longer. He also has some ideas that he needs to think through further.

Gerrhonot smiles and nods, and follows his channel.

Pistareen hands a card to Ziggar.

Pistareen: Come and see me before you leave town, if you would. [mysteriously] You may hear something to your advantage.

Ziggar smiles at Pistareen's phrasing.

Ziggar: I'll consider it.

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