Changeovers and Consequences: Episode 18

Layna is lying on a bed in one of the staff rooms. Her current room is in the back corner of the converted farm house, with a linen closet between it and the nearest other bedroom, which is currently being shared by Driver and Ukoh.

Layna's head is aching right down to her toes, and she's beginning to wonder if it will ever stop.

Marvin assumes the authority of a channel, something he doesn't get to do that often with in-T folks, by scratching at the door and walking in without waiting to be acknowledged.

Layna starts to turn her head, then thinks better of it. ~~THROB~~

Layna: Bibi? Is that you?

Marvin: No, it's me, Marvin.

Marvin does his best not to wince visibly at the ~~ pain ~~ in the ambient.

Layna: Hajene Marvin? What are you doing here?

Layna tries politely to moderate her pain projection, but she's no Donor, and she's too groggy with fosebine to focus properly.

Marvin: Well, Bibi finally got her transfer and is sleeping it off, and I've been asked to look in on you by Sosectu Nattin.

Layna: Bibi's Donor finally arrived? Does that mean the fire's out?

Marvin: No, Hajene Seruffin had to give Bibi channel's transfer -- but apparently it was more successful than anybody anticipated.

Layna: More success.... Oh.

Layna isn't thinking too clearly, in her condition.

Marvin gives Layna a slow wink.

Marvin: [whimsically] I call Nattin "Sosectu" because he seems to be the person running the show around here.

Layna: Well, yes, with Hajene Bibi incapacitated. Sosu Cristal isn't good with people, you know. And he was spending all his time trying to keep Bibi comfortable, anyway.

Marvin: That can't have been easy, as depleted as he is. You gotta respect the man as a professional, anyway.

Layna: I suppose so. But he seemed to be irritating Bibi while he tried to help her.

Marvin: Well, sometimes when he gets sweet you do just want to kick him. But that's not his fault. Anyway, with Bibi edging into attrition ... But anyway, the point of this visit is to find out about you.

Layna: It hurts. Just like it hurt yesterday. And if Bibi's right, it'll keep hurting for a while yet.

Layna isn't very happy about that.

Marvin: "Just like" yesterday? Or is it a bit better?

Layna thinks about it, which requires some effort.

Layna: Well, maybe a little bit better. Or I might just be getting used to it.

Layna is not thrilled at the idea that one can get used to this sort of thing.

Marvin: Well, as you probably know, channels can't do much nagerically for transfer shock. But if you're willing, I can do a little bit of pain blocking while I'm here.

Layna raises an eyebrow.

Layna: You can do that? I thought they didn't train mules in that sort of thing.

Marvin: I use it to help new Simes who've had a changeover trauma of some sort.

Marvin: [hastily] Of course, I won't be hurt if you refuse.

Layna doesn't believe that for a moment. She is, however, very low field, and her head (figurative speaking) is taking up where Ukoh left off, in killing her. She also likes what little she knows about Marvin, and his effect on Bibi.

Layna: Sure, Hajene. If you can do something, please do. I don't expect Hajene Bibi will be by any time soon, if she's just had transfer.

Layna is also hopeful that Marvin will treat her without the implied criticism of her judgment, seeing that he was recently guilty of a similar indiscretion.

Marvin walks over to Layna and extends his tentacles above her head ~~ enable healing mode ~~

Layna keeps her field as compliant as possible, so as not to disturb Marvin's work.

Marvin: [leers] Can you feel anything when I do this?

Marvin reaches up and twirls an imaginary mustache with his left outer ventral.

Layna lets out an involuntary chuckle, than a hiss of ~~ renewed pain ~~

Marvin: Sorry.

Layna: ... Please don't make me laugh.

Marvin: [humble] That's not easy for me. It's second nature, if not first nature, you know.

Marvin reconcentrates on blocking the nerve pain.

Layna: I've got nothing against humor, most of the time. It's just that laughing jolts my head.

Marvin: I understand.

Layna: Actually, it's been dreadfully boring, just sitting up here for days. I can't even read, and the fosebine makes me groggy and stupid.

Layna is beginning to regret, not saving Ukoh's life, but not doing it well enough to avoid all this inconvenience.

Marvin: My sympathies; I'd hate to be in your position myself. Of course ...

Marvin pauses significantly.

Layna: Yes?

Marvin: No, it can wait; you're still full of fosebine. By the way, is the agony abating at all?

Layna: Yes, some. Thank you.

Marvin: Okay, let's see if I can do just a bit better.

Marvin redoubles his efforts.

Layna sighs in ~~ relief ~~ as the pick and shovel crew that have been excavating her spine take a short break.

Layna: You know, you're good.

Marvin nods in acknowledgment. His concentration makes him only able to speak in short bursts.

Layna: It must be hard for you, that you're not allowed to do much work as a channel.

Marvin: It has its compensations.

Layna: You mean, you have a lot more freedom than regular channels?

Marvin: Escort duty, yes. [pause] Also traveling. Wayfaring stranger, that's me.

Layna: It must be hard, not to have a home, even in the sense that most other channels have a long-term base.

Layna, being a Householder, is very committed to her home.

Marvin: Gen Territory saying... home is where the heart is... for me, that's here.

Layna: In Hannard's Ford?

Marvin: Here in the Sime Center.

Layna is an inveterate enthusiast of social dynamics, which translates into English as "hopeless gossip".

Layna: I know you like Hajene Bibi...

Layna dangles the bait, to see if Marvin will bite and indulge her curiosity.

Marvin smiles his patented thousand-Genpower smile.

Marvin: [English] You betcha.

Layna starts to shake her head but stops in time.

Layna: I don't know how she does it, but Hajene Bibi's cornered the two most eligible bachelors in a hundred miles, and I have to work hard to get a date.

Marvin: Cultivate your dimples.

Layna: I don't have any. ~~ glum ~~ I tend to scare the guys off. Especially if they see me working out.

Marvin: Have to find someone ... who likes you for it.

Layna: Well, there were a couple of guys back at Dar. But I won't see them for a while yet... I hope.

Layna is ~~ worried ~~ that her shenanigans will interrupt her pursuit of a degree.

Marvin: Don't count on that ... probably be sent to rusticate.

Layna: Has Bibi said anything about that?

Marvin: No. But your Sectuib ... will want to ask ... "Have you eaten your rice?" Then he tells you ... to go wash your bowl.

Layna: Huh?

Marvin is a bit surprised that Layna doesn't recognize a Dar training koan, but perhaps she's not advanced enough yet.

Marvin: Wait and see.

Layna: Well, I guess if I do get sent back home, I'll get a chance to see my friends and family. And it'll be nice to have someone to work out with, when I'm better.

Marvin: Yeah.

Layna: Still, it's not gonna do my education any good, even if I can get back here before too long.

Marvin: Best possible thing ... for your education ... as long as you ... get back ... eventually.

Layna: What do you mean by that?

Marvin: Wait. Running out of steam.

Marvin very gently, very carefully, relaxes his efforts to the lower level of healing intensity, hoping that the hammering pain doesn't start up again, at least not right away.

Marvin: How's that?

Layna feels the throbbing increase somewhat as Marvin withdraws.

Layna: Better than it was when you came in, thanks. How long do you think I'm going to be laid up, anyway?

Marvin: Days, for sure; a week, possibly. But I'll work with you as long as I'm here, which may be a while with the railroad torn up by the fire.

Layna: Yeah. That's why Bibi's Donor couldn't get through. Have they got it out, yet?

Marvin: I don't know. But even after it's out, the rebuilding crews will have to come through before anything is moving again.

Layna: I suppose so, if the track's damaged.

Marvin: Torn up by all reports. But as I was saying, or trying to say [smiles], real education comes from the unexpected things that happen to you, or that you arrange to have happen to yourself. Schooling takes second place to that.

Layna: Well, I guess you're right. I don't think my thesis committee will be very interested in this adventure of mine, though.

Marvin: I've never had to face one of those. But from what I hear, at your defense you might get asked about anything.

Marvin: [pompously] And when you tried to give transfer to that out-T Sime, what's-his-name, were you considering what effect that would have (according to Thingummy's Theory of Thociodynamics) ...

Marvin breaks down in the middle of his line.

Layna laughs, then yelps.

Layna: Ow. Don't do that.

Marvin: Oops, I forgot again. [sincere] I'm so sorry.

Layna accepts the apology with a bastardized Gen version of the Sime tentacle gesture.

Layna: But how can I answer a question like that, if I'm not here to see what does happen in Gumgeeville?

Marvin: Oh, I'm sure you can find some fellow gossips to fill you in on what happened, after you get back from Repentanceville, I mean Dar.

Layna groans at this reminder of all the extra drill she's going to be subjected to. Her Householding believes in making punishments serve double duty as physical conditioning sessions.

Marvin: Hmm. Bad memories?

Layna: Let's say I had a misspent childhood.

Marvin: Followed up by a misspent adulthood, eh?

Marvin smiles teasingly.

Layna: Well... I did save Ukoh. I suppose that's worth something. Although I'm having to keep reminding myself of that.

Layna grins weakly.

Marvin: Exactly what I've been thinking for the past few months.

Layna: Yes. Oh, I expect I'll feel better about it, when this shenned headache is gone.

Layna is probably right: she does have a tendency to brush off official disapproval.

Marvin: Not too much better about it. This isn't something you want to make a habit of, even without the burn. [pause] But you knew that.

Layna shudders.

Layna: I don't think I'm going to want to try that again, any time soon. It hurt.

Marvin: No need to tell me.

Marvin rubs his own head in Sime sympathy.

Layna: Marvin, do you think I'm going to have trouble donating, after this?

Marvin: You want me to do a lateral contact exam?

Layna has been subjected to several by Bibi over the past few days, and had no particular trouble with them.

Layna: Sure.

Marvin does the exam.

Marvin: I'm no expert on general-class donors, far from it, but I don't see any trace of deep trauma below the burn. Your Sectuib will be definitive on the point, though.

Layna is an in-Territory raised Householder, and unlike many out-Territory Gens, doesn't necessarily equate lateral exams for medical diagnosis with transfer.

Layna: I expect so.

Marvin: You obviously aren't scared of me.

Marvin looks at his tentacles as if he'd never seen them before.

Layna: While you're doing a simple lateral exam? No. But then, you weren't trying to take my field down.

Marvin: Field, what field? Oops, sorry. No laughing.

Layna: I guess it's just as well I'm lowfield, the way I'm hurting.

Marvin: Definitely.

Layna: Poor Driver tried to stop by to say hello yesterday. That lasted about thirty seconds.

Marvin: Well, renSimes don't have the same control. To him you probably felt like you were attacking him with one of those weird Dar weapons, the ones with all the sharp points? Batleths, that's what I mean.

Layna: Well, I admit, if I could get away from this headache by leaving the room, I'd be gone even faster than Driver.

Marvin: [gently] I'm still here.

Layna gives a lopsided smile.

Marvin takes a deeeeeeep breath and lets it out again.

Layna: Thank you for that, but don't feel obliged to stay longer. You've already helped the headache a great deal.

Marvin: I will work on you tomorrow, I promise. I think I can help you sleep, if you want that.

Layna: Can you? It's boring, just lying here listening to my head throb.

Layna holds her arms out to Marvin again.

Marvin takes a full grip and extends his laterals ~~ sleep sleep sleep ~~

Layna sighs, and her eyes flutter closed as she slips into sleep.

Marvin: ~~ sleep sleep ~~

Marvin very gently dismantles the contact and tiptoes Sime-quiet out of the room, closing the door behind him.

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