Changeovers and Consequences: Episode 16

NOTE: The prolog to this week's exciting episode is best read to the accompaniment of a certain well-known orchestral work by Rossini.

Return with us now to those Thrilling Days of S/G Yesteryear!

Seruffin thunders across a wheat field towards Hannard's Ford, on the back of a giant white horse. His face is obscured by the handkerchief he has tied across it, to cut the dust and the haze from the forest fire, which is still burning in the hills.

Seruffin is a channel whose presence brings fear to out-Territory Gen lorshes and hope to those Simes and Gens who want to make the Hannard's Ford Sime Center their home.

Seruffin is followed by his faithful Companion Gerrhonot on a pinto, as the daring and resourceful masked diplomat of the trains leads the flight for law, order, and prompt selyn delivery in the early Tecton.

Seruffin sets his mount plunging across a drainage ditch with a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi-Yo!", silver-colored retainers gleaming in the sun.

Farmer in a distant field looks after the pair with ~~ amazement ~~ and ~~ confusion ~~

Farmer: Who was that masked Sime? And what the hell were he and his buddy doing, trotting bareback cross country on Bob's old plough horses?

Seruffin pulls his mount to a walk, in order to rest both it and those portions of his anatomy that he would like to preserve in working condition.

Seruffin: Are you all right, Gerrhonot?

Gerrhonot is wondering whether his medial thigh adductors are going to rip right off the surface of his obturator foramina. It's a very wide horse.

Gerrhonot: Um, I guess I'm okay, Hajene. I hope the farmer doesn't get pissed off that we're tearing up his wheat field.

Seruffin: So do I, although the wheat's still young enough to recover. And we'll cut a good hour off our time, by not following the railroad track.

Gerrhonot: How much farther, do you think?

Seruffin: A mile and a half, as the crow flies. As the horse trots, it looks like there's a path of sorts along the next field, that goes in more or less the right direction.

Gerrhonot: Good. ~~ relief ~~

Seruffin: Bibi will be frantic, with the train delayed.

Gerrhonot: Yes. ~~ concern ~~ compassion ~~

Gerrhonot draws his knees up a bit, so different muscles can suffer for a while.

Seruffin: It's fortunate that fellow was ploughing that field near where the train stopped, and more so that he was willing to stop ploughing early, for a consideration. You handled that very well, Gerrhonot.

Gerrhonot: Thanks, Hajene.

Gerrhonot would have been much happier if it had been Uncle Tony in his comfortable, well-sprung buggy who had been passing by the train instead.

Seruffin takes a firm hold on his mount's mane to aid in keeping his balance, and kicks the shaggy sides of his mount. He knows Bibi will be very glad to zlin him today, but wonders how happy she'll be to zlin him tomorrow.

Gerrhonot urges his pinto to follow, no great problem since the horses are used to being together. He's glad that they are muscular and well-fed, backbones well padded with flesh.

Seruffin guides his steed onto the firmer footing of the path, and yells, sending it into a lumbering canter.

Gerrhonot's big pinto follows. These horses are having a much more exciting day than usual. They seldom leave the farm, or move faster than a walk.

Gerrhonot thinks that Seruffin is having fun, being physically active and getting to shout and all. He wonders how he can arrange for him to have more opportunities to do so. He hopes Seruffin's Sime self-healing will fix up his sore muscles so they don't interfere with, um, CD prevention activities.

Seruffin, being Sime, is more concerned with the immediate activities required to rescue Bibi from need.

Bibi is pacing in her bedroom. She felt better while Marvin was with her, and even managed to drink a glass of cold tea, but she's still dehydrated and hasn't eaten or slept for several days.

Bibi sent Marvin to talk to Ukoh and Daffodil, and maybe Mik, and perhaps Layna.

Bibi is trying to decide what to do tonight: take another shunt to hold off attrition for another day or so, take a full shunt that will leave her miserable and unable to work effectively for a month, try a very inadequate partial from Eugen, or take a chance with the repercussions if she lets Marvin try to serve her -- not likely to be much good in any case, since Marvin doesn't outrate her significantly. She refuses to even think about taking Bart.

Bibi is also trying to get that shidoni-doomed song out of her head. "And whistle your cares away..."

Bibi picks up a pillow and punches it repeatedly. Why can't her Controller tell her whether a Donor is on the way? Why didn't Seruffin even answer her telegrams!

Seruffin guides his flagging mount around the last corner, balancing precariously on the broad back of the draft horse, and urges it towards the Hannard's Ford Sime Center at a brisk trot. He doesn't dare go faster, for fear of trampling a pedestrian, as the horse isn't used to being ridden.

Gerrhonot stays as close to his channel as he can manage, under the circumstances, and tries to keep the ~~ pain ~~ out of his field.

Bibi hears some unusually loud hoofbeats on the road and goes to the window. She wonders if she's started hallucinating now -- she zlins... Seruffin?

Bibi leans out the window, laterals extended and sees Seruffin on a big white draft horse and Gerrhonot on an equally large pinto at the gate.

Seruffin pulls his steed to a walk, to ensure that it makes the relatively tight turn onto the Center's grounds.

Bibi restrains herself from augmenting onto the porch roof then onto the lawn and across it. ~~ incredulity ~~ desperation ~~ hope ~~

Seruffin looks up sharply as he zlins a channel-sized gaping need leaning out a second story window.

Seruffin: Shen. Gerrhonot, it looks like Bibi's Donor didn't make it in. Can you find someone to look after the horses while I see to her?

Nattin opens the door to greet the newcomers.

Seruffin: Never mind, Gerrhonot. Nattin, please see the horses are taken care of, will you?

Gerrhonot dismounts with care, and walks stiffly toward the door, trying not to let the ~~ pain ~~ in his thigh muscles into his field.

Nattin nods, reaching for the reins as Seruffin slides off his mount.

Seruffin is already waddling briskly through the door, pausing only to remove his retainers. He heads up the stairs briskly, walking more naturally as his legs start to unkink.

Gerrhonot isn't a Sime, but he's a lot younger than Seruffin, so manages to keep up.

Bibi can zlin Seruffin approaching, like the sun coming up after a bitterly cold night. She composes herself, as best she can.

Seruffin adjusts his showfield to a ~~ calmly welcoming ~~ Genlike aspect.

Gerrhonot flattens his field to ~~ neutral ~~ to avoid irritating or attracting Bibi.

Seruffin wants this transfer to be as normal as possible; it won't do Bibi's self-confidence any good if she attacks him, and never mind that they both know she couldn't harm him.

Bibi does a breathing exercise and resolves to stay duoconscious and coherent, as best she can.

Seruffin pauses outside Bibi's door to ~~ signal ~~

Bibi: Come in. ~~ calm ~~ polite ~~ desperate ~~ stressed ~~

Seruffin enters, opening the door slowly, to give Bibi a chance to adjust to zlinning available selyn.

Bibi: [whisper] Seruffin.

Bibi is standing stiffly, her hands gripping each other. ~~ iron control over desperate hard need ~~

Seruffin: Bibi. I made it, if a bit later than my telegram promised. I take it that your Donor is still missing in transit?

Bibi: I haven't heard anything from my Controller. I didn't get your telegram.

Seruffin: Oh, Bibi! It must have been terrible for you, these past few days.

Bibi: Yes, it has been.

Seruffin's ~~ sympathy ~~ is carefully dampened to be bearable to need-sharpened nerves. He can tell that Bibi is close to breaking.

Seruffin: We're here now, Bibi. The wait is over.

Bibi: Help me.

Seruffin approaches Bibi, motioning for Gerrhonot to shut the door.

Gerrhonot does so, keeping his eyes and attention on his channel.

Seruffin reaches for Bibi, avoiding her arms for now in favor of enfolding her in his selyn-rich field. ~~ all the selyn you could possibly need, when you're ready to take it ~~

Bibi slumps against Seruffin, trembling.

Seruffin murmurs reassurances that he is pretty sure Bibi isn't hearing, and works at unkinking her nager.

Bibi: I... I've been suppressing intil for so long... I.. I can't...

Bibi closes her eyes, remaining duoconscious with effort. She breathes a bit easier under Seruffin's ministrations.

Seruffin's showfield is stronger than the Donors Bibi usually gets assigned, and his sensitivity is also greater, which makes up at least in part for his not being Gen.

Gerrhonot watches, careful not to let his field engage with Bibi's.

Seruffin: That's right, let me worry about your need, now. You've controlled it as long as you had to, but you don't have to, any more.

Bibi leans on Seruffin's beautiful sec field and gradually relinquishes to him.

Seruffin zlins Bibi closely, trying to gauge when she is ready to face her need again. He doesn't dare let her raise intil too soon, or she'll suppress it. He does not want Bibi aborting during a premature try at a transfer.

Bibi relaxes further, unclasping her hands and tentatively putting her arms around Seruffin. She begins to breathe deeply and slowly as his golden nager permeates her. ~~ unnatural calm in the midst of hard need ~~~

Seruffin finds this ~~ encouraging ~~, and reaches for greater control of Bibi's need, coaxing her to ~~ relax ~~

Bibi's tense muscles gradually loosen and she stops trembling.

Bibi: [murmurs] Thank you... beautiful...

Seruffin continues to murmur reassurance as he works, zlinning for the proper moment.

Bibi is floating in Seruffin's intense and beautiful field. Need seems far off.

Seruffin is old enough to enjoy being comfortable, and so he guides Bibi towards a small couch along one wall of her room. He urges her to sit, keeping up his need-blanketing projection.

Bibi sits without letting go of the other channel.

Seruffin sits, too, only then discovering that it isn't as comfortable as he'd thought it would be. He shifts to a more comfortable position, using his decades of channeling experience to make sure that none of his muscular discomfort leaks into his showfield.

Bibi lifts her head and looks into Seruffin's eyes.

Bibi: You're amazing.

Seruffin, not being in need, is able to smile in response.

Bibi smiles back a little.

Seruffin: So are you, to have endured this situation so graciously. Are you ready to stop enduring?

Seruffin offers his hands.

Bibi takes them.

Seruffin reaches to entwine handling tentacles.

Bibi begins to breathe faster, and tries to raise intil.

Seruffin: No, Bibi. Let me do it.

Bibi finds the entwined tentacles comforting, but it's out of context for her for transfer. For taking transfer, that is.

Seruffin increases the nageric-blanket effect to counteract the tension that Bibi's struggle to raise intil is causing.

Bibi closes her eyes and relinquishes to Seruffin further.

Seruffin: Very good.

Seruffin lets some ~~ honest admiration of Bibi's skill ~~ to show, then delicately starts working to raise her intil.

Gerrhonot watches his channel's skillful work with admiration, while keeping his nager ~~ flat, neutral and unobtrusive ~~

Bibi realizes that she's tending towards channel's mode as a reaction to the tentacle contact and closes her eyes again, trying to think of Seruffin as Gen.

Seruffin works hard to maintain the illusion. He lets Bibi's perception of need grow, adding a bit of ~~ anticipation ~~ to the projection.

Seruffin tries to pattern his showfield as closely as possible on Gerrhonot's response when the Donor is anticipating transfer. Fortunately he has Gerrhonot close by to use as a model for Genness.

Bibi zlins a welcoming Donor field. She knows it's Seruffin, but it's for her. It's safe to let go. It's safe to take transfer here and now. Her restraint suddenly releases and her intil soars. She grasps Seruffin's arms more tightly, ignoring his tentacles.

Seruffin zlins Bibi's response ~~ gladly ~~ and lets his laterals extend towards hers.

Bibi's laterals extend onto Seruffin's arms. She jumps as his contact hers. Her intil flags at this reminder that she's in contact with another Sime.

Seruffin tries his best ~~ eager Gen Donor ~~, and his best is pretty darn good, even if it's not quite up to Farris standards.

Bibi is getting upset that this isn't working. But what else can she do? She begins to ~~ panic ~~.

Seruffin projects ~~ calm ~~

Seruffin: Bibi, relax. It's all right.

Bibi: I didn't think it would be this hard. Not with you.

Seruffin: You're not a renSime, conditioned to channel's transfer, and you've been through quite a lot, these past few days. But you need this transfer, so give me complete control, all right?

Bibi: Yes.

Seruffin reaches for control of Bibi's field, this time using more of his superior nageric strength.

Bibi ~~ trusts ~~ Seruffin deeply, and relinquishes to him as fully as she can.

Seruffin first ~~ calms ~~ Bibi, to help her relinquish even more, then lets her intil rise smoothly. He hopes that with lateral contact already made, Bibi will be able to believe his Genlike showfield.

Bibi is assisted by the Sime instinct to defer to the sec. She feels strangely ~~ free ~~ in this passive state.

Seruffin matches the intil he raises in Bibi with a Genlike need-to-give of his own, so that it can be perceived as pleasure, not a life-threatening horror.

Bibi drifts ~~ hyperconscious ~~ and perceives Seruffin as an intense peak in the ambient, a willing fountain of selyn, yearning to be tapped. She leans forward, reaching for a fifth contact.

Seruffin seals the contact and begins pouring out selyn with the artistry acquired over decades of channeling experience.

Bibi opens herself to the golden flood of life. She's never taken transfer this way before: the Tecton frowns on Gen-controlled transfer except therapeutically. She begins to draw actively, at her top speed. The incredible torrent of glory continues. ~~ joy ~~ relief ~~

Seruffin lets Bibi draw as quickly as she wants, offering just enough resistance to imitate the response of a Donor who's just slightly higher rated than Bibi, and who can therefore be satisfied by her. He adds a ~~ growing Gen satisfaction ~~ to permeate his showfield.

Bibi reaches repletion but doesn't stop, drawing greedily into her secondary. ~~ ecstasy ~~

Seruffin keeps pouring selyn into Bibi, caught up himself in her ~~ ecstasy ~~. He doesn't get such a strong response from renSimes.

Bibi realizes her secondary is almost full and gradually terminates.

Seruffin lets the selyn flow trickle ~~ blissfully ~~ to a halt. He waits patiently for Bibi to relinquish contact.

Bibi breaks the lip contact and looks into Seruffin's eyes. She smiles, a bit dazedly.

Seruffin smiles back, caught up in Bibi's emotions.

Bibi: I'll give the extra back...

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: Bibi, thank you.

Bibi withdraws her laterals and releases Seruffin's arms.

Bibi: Oh, Seruffin!

Bibi wraps her arms around herself and bursts into tears.

Seruffin is glad to see that his transfer was good enough to provoke a proper post-reaction. He makes comforting noises as he wraps his arms around Bibi, offering his shoulder for her to cry on.

Bibi accepts.

Seruffin gestures Gerrhonot to get a handkerchief. He meanwhile hands Bibi his own.

Gerrhonot digs one out of his own pocket and offers it. He inquires whether he can leave, and offers to bring some food and tea, in non-verbal signals.

Seruffin nods thanks and assent, taking the handkerchief from Gerrhonot and waiting patiently for Bibi to finish with the first one.

Gerrhonot touches Seruffin's shoulder and leaves for the kitchen. ~~ happiness ~~

Bibi's sobs diminish, but she continues to lean on Seruffin, trembling.

Seruffin is not at all reluctant to have Bibi leaning on him.

Seruffin: You've had a bad time, but you've come through it well.

Bibi: [whispers] Thank you. When I didn't hear from you, or my Controller... I didn't know what I should do next.

Seruffin: If I'd had any idea that my telegrams weren't delivered...

Seruffin hugs Bibi closer.

Bibi ~~ enjoys ~~ the hug very much.

Bibi: There's been a lot else happening. Jed Mullins tried to bring me a boy in changeover and his wagon broke down and Layna tried to give him transfer and got a bad burn. The boy isn't in very good shape either.

Seruffin winces.

Seruffin: Will they recover?

Bibi: I think Layna will recover completely. I don't know what the effect will be on the boy. His parents are religious and hate Simes. He feels very guilty about what he did. Layna shenned him to save herself. I don't know what will happen to him, shenned and shorted on First Transfer from a Gen. I'd appreciate your opinion on both of them.

Seruffin: It sounds like the boy had better be placed in a First Year Camp that has some better than average therapists. Has Layna's Sectuib been notified?

Bibi: I believe Nattin has written, but it's too soon for it to have been received.

Seruffin: Well, I'll be happy to take a zlin at both of them, while I'm here.

Bibi: The day after Mik changed over, I had a berserker tear the door off and go for one of the donors. I managed to intercept her, so she's all right.

Seruffin winces.

Seruffin: Three changeovers in a community this small, in the course of what, two days?

Bibi: Well, two were from Gumgeeville, and we'd been expecting Mik. My Controller is sending a low field Donor for him, next week. A bit late.

Seruffin: Has anything else gone wrong?

Bibi: Well, wrong... and right, perhaps. Bart is doing very well at learning to be a Donor, but he wasn't able to help me much through this because he couldn't control his need-to-give. That's been very hard on him.

Seruffin puts a handling tentacle over Bibi's lips.

Seruffin: Is there any emergency that can't wait a while?

Bibi: Not that I know of... now.

Seruffin: Then perhaps you should consider yourself off duty, for a bit?

Bibi suddenly becomes aware of the masculine scent of Seruffin's body.

Bibi: Yes... I think I deserve a little time off.

Seruffin's tentacle, displaced from Bibi's lips, caresses her cheek, finding the dimple.

Bibi cups Seruffin's smooth warm Sime cheek in her hand, tracing his lip with a tentacle.

Seruffin leans forward a bit hesitantly, offering a lip contact of another sort.

Bibi lifts her face to meet Seruffin's kiss.

Seruffin accepts the invitation.

Bibi sighs with ~~ pleasure ~~ and rising ~~ desire ~~ as their lips meet.

Seruffin breaks the kiss after a moment, laughing with ~~ delight ~~

Bibi laughs too.

Bibi: At last.

Seruffin: Bibi, you're a wonder, and I love you dearly, but I'm an old man, and like my creature comforts.

Seruffin wraps his arms around Bibi and stands slowly, lifting her off the couch.

Bibi puts her arms around Seruffin's neck and rests her head against his chest.

Seruffin carries her towards the bed, and its welcoming red and white quilt.

Feathered Star quilt circa 1860

This quilt came from the Mendum house in Holly Avenue, Silver Spring, MD. Aunt Margaret and Aunt Catherine both remember it being on the guest bed there. It is far too old to have been made there, however, and so was almost certainly made in Duncannon, PA.

Quilt appraiser Marilyn Maddalena says that this quilt is partially machine pieced, and hand quilted. This confirms the status of the Pennsylvania branch of the family as solidly middle class. The hand sewing is extraordinary, "professional seamstress quality", and the quilt was therefore not made by the same woman who made the Birds in the Air quilt or crazy quilt. Given the timing and the duplication of fabric in the Birds in the Air quilt made ten years later, the most likely candidate for making this quilt is Catherine Reel (Penny) Smith, who raised her granddaughters after her daughter Margaret Smith Reutter died. This would have been a special event quilt, and the most likely special event would have been her daughter's wedding in 1858. This might be confirmable by reference to one or more of the family diaries from that period.

Mary Lou Mendum

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