Travel Broadens: Episode 6

Bibi listens ~~ intently ~~ to the conclusion of Hajene D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine's talk on managing changeover in the mentally disabled.

Seruffin also listens, as some of the same techniques just might be useful for dealing with Gen diplomats.

Bibi is finding the conference very interesting, but is somewhat intimidated by all the big nagers. She's not used to being around so many high rated channels and Donors.

Bibi is also rather intimidated by Seruffin's efforts to introduce her to his colleagues. They are all high rated and much older than her, and she wonders if, behind their courteous and opaque showfields, they all figure she's some kind of bimbo, evidence that Seruffin is going through a midlife crisis. She hasn't felt as self-conscious about her attractive appearance since she was a teenager.

Seruffin stretches as the lights come back on, keeping his showfield ~~ relaxed ~~ in hopes of easing Bibi's discomfort.

Bibi is in need, which doesn't help her self-confidence or optimism. Seruffin is post, and she wonders whether he now sees her as more of a millstone than an asset.

Seruffin is finding it easy to be casual and relaxed, if a bit frustrated, since he and Gerrhonot had an excellent transfer a few days before.

Seruffin: I always enjoy D'zoll's talks; he comes up with such interesting observations, don't you think?

Bibi: Yes, he had several interesting ideas here.

Bibi was somewhat relieved that the speaker came right out and admitted he felt use of what amounts to nageric coercion justified when necessary in difficult cases like these.

Seruffin: Would you like to learn about what he's done in a bit more detail?

Bibi is feeling ~~ distressed by need ~~ much earlier and more strongly than usual this month, and is reluctant to get into another situation where she'll feel ~~ intimidated ~~ again.

Bibi: Uh... do you suppose... I had trouble understanding how he does some of the projections he described...

Bibi is ~~ humiliated ~~ at her low rating in this august company, and her inability to [Simelan term for the zlinning equivalent of visualize] complex nageric patterns from a verbal description.

Seruffin: Come, let's get some tea. The next talk is Ormon's, and he's never had anything relevant to say in his life.

Bibi: Okay.

Seruffin stands, offering Bibi his arm according to the out-T etiquette she's used to.

Bibi smiles, ~~ charmed ~~ but ~~ self-conscious ~~ and declines to take the arm.

Seruffin: Come, Bibi. Your experiences with problem changeovers are just as valid as any described here, and the solutions you devise are more generally useful than the fancy things only a Farris can manage.

Bibi: I suppose so.

Seruffin leads the way down the aisle, nodding an occasional greeting to an acquaintance.

Bibi follows, maintaining a ~~ calm ~~ professional ~~ showfield for all the good it does among these channels who can zlin through it like chicken wire.

Seruffin thinks that he really ought to speak to Jaklin about changing the policy so that channels stationed out-Territory get back to civilization at least once a year, to minimize that kind of reaction.

Bibi's problem is not the kind of culture shock Seruffin imagines, but the effect of being plunged into the rarefied domains of high Firsts, where Seconds seldom go.

Seruffin ushers Bibi towards the refreshments, managing the ambient subtly to shield her a bit.

Bibi ~~ appreciates ~~ Seruffin's nageric support.

Seruffin shortly is handing Bibi a steaming cup.

Bibi: Thank you.

Bibi sips her tea, finds herself edging closer to Seruffin's friendly and supportive nager, then stops, ~~ embarrassed ~~

Seruffin thinks Bibi's confusion is absolutely charming, but is old enough to know better than to mention that.

D'zoll is glad the paper seems to have gone well, or at least better than last year's disaster. He should have known better than to present a paper on feline psychology at a conference like this, no matter how interesting the subject-matter was.

Seruffin steers Bibi through the sparse crowd of Ormon-avoiders, aiming for a less-crowded corner.

D'zoll notes a disturbance in the nager approaching him: a First with a Second. He wonders if he's going to be asked one of those questions people ask psychologists at parties; the fact that it's a couple makes him suspect so.

Seruffin discovers that they aren't the only ones with that goal.

Bibi spots the Farris channel they are approaching and pulls herself together, ~~ determined ~~ not to make more of a fool of herself than she can help.

Seruffin smiles in greeting.

Seruffin: Hajene Farris, another interesting discussion, even if the subject matter wasn't as exotic as last year's.

D'zoll smiles self-deprecatingly.

D'zoll: Thank you very much.

Seruffin: I don't believe we've been formally introduced. I'm Seruffin, with the diplomatic service.

D'zoll lights up facially and nagerically.

D'zoll: The Seruffin, of the World Controller's office? I am honored, Hajene.

Seruffin gives a small bow to show that the honor is returned.

D'zoll admires Bibi's dimples ~~ sincerity; no trace of concupiscence ~~

Seruffin: This is Bibi. She does a fine job running a small Sime Center about halfway between the border and New Washington.

Bibi: Honored to meet you, Hajene Farris.

Seruffin: She's actually used some similar approaches to the ones you were describing to help changeover victims there.

Bibi ~~ blushes ~~

D'zoll: Respect, Hajene. It's good to meet someone who actually does what we poor theorists can only speculate about.

Seruffin: What he really means, Bibi, is that he's glad that he can now proclaim that his findings aren't just one more fancy technique usable only by Farrises.

Seruffin winks.

Bibi: Many changeovers I manage are of children with no preparation. Some of them regard becoming Sime a fate worse than death.

D'zoll sighs and nods soberly.

Bibi: Techniques such as those you describe can overcome their... loss of will to live. They often do well afterwards.

D'zoll: That is very gratifying to hear, indeed.

Bibi: I look forward to reading your paper when it's published. I'm not very high rated and I have trouble imagining how to do some of the nageric manipulations from a brief verbal description.

Bibi blushes, and mentally kicks herself for it. She's never met anyone more sec than Seruffin before, but at least this Farris is keeping his nager well pulled in.

Seruffin: Bibi deals with a great many cases that would be considered highly unusual, on this side of the border.

Bibi looks to Seruffin, wondering if he's hinting that she should mention Gegg.

D'zoll: Hajene Bibi, is there a particular case that you wanted to tell me about?

D'zoll thinks this is certainly taking a different turn from anything he foresaw.

Seruffin nods ~~ encouragement ~~

Bibi: Uh. There's one Gen who was severely traumatized when captured by juncts when he was in the Gen Army. It appears that he had or has considerable Donor potential, which of course made his experience much worse, as he felt an inexplicable attraction to his torturers.

Bibi looks to D'zoll, wondering if she's piqued his interest.

D'zoll: ~~ fascinated ~~ Do go on.

Seruffin wasn't raised out-T where the Gens teach their kids to catch fish, or he would be thinking in terms of hooks setting, about now.

Bibi: This happened about twenty years ago. Since then he's felt himself to be a coward for breaking under torture. His screams led his rescuers to him. This has warped his personality a great deal, especially his self-esteem.

D'zoll: I can see that it would.

Bibi: Now his son has changed over as a channel, and he's determined to overcome his Simephobia at almost any cost. I'm not able to evaluate whether this would be possible. He's willing to come in-T with his family for treatment.

Bibi smiles tentatively.

Bibi: You can see he has tremendous courage, no matter what he thinks of himself.

D'zoll: He certainly must. I can hardly imagine what it would take, given that history, to be willing to come to Sime Territory for any reason at all.

Bibi: Courage is valued very highly in out-T culture.

Seruffin: Courage like that can be dangerous, in a Gen.

D'zoll: It can also be the source of great strength. I've found that many out-T Gen migrants consistently out-compete their in-T matched counterparts in economic and political affairs. Their home lives, of course, are not nearly so well-adjusted.

Seruffin nods, thinking about Gegg and his managing wife and adventuresome daughter.

Bibi: I wonder whether there might be expertise in your House in dealing with such trauma and the resulting Simephobia, perhaps developed before Unity.

D'zoll tilts his head to one side.

D'zoll: The old Wild-Gen-to-Companion scenario, is that it? Very interesting.

Bibi: I doubt he'd want to become a Companion. His expressed desire is to be able to hug his son again.

D'zoll: Oh, to be sure. Nevertheless ... ~~ interest curiosity ~~

Bibi finds this encouraging, and presses on.

Bibi: I thought the more sheltered environment of a Householding, as opposed to a city might benefit them. They live in a remote farming village right now.

D'zoll: Householding? Oh. You mean Sat'htine? An interesting thought.

Seruffin is careful not to let himself interfere with the conversation, but he's looking forward to hugging Bibi and telling her how proud he is of the way she's handling D'zoll.

D'zoll: Some of those old techniques could be used... I could recommend ... You know what, Hajene? Perhaps I've been spending too much time in research and not enough with clients. It wouldn't do to get stale, y'know.

Seruffin: Of course not. Besides, think what an interesting paper you'd have for next year.

Bibi: The man's wife is unexpectedly pregnant now, with twins. She's in her late thirties. I'm not able to tell if one or both of the fetuses may be channels. They live much too far away for me to be able to monitor the pregnancy, and certainly too far for me to be able to attend the delivery.

D'zoll: No better place to have a baby or two than my Householding ~~ pardonable pride ~~

Seruffin chuckles.

D'zoll: We'll do it. You talk this family into it, Seruffin can smooth any problems with residency permits, and I'll handle my Sectuib.

D'zoll overestimates how much Bibi can "manage" out-T Gens, even though he knows better in theory.

Bibi is ~~ amazed ~~ that this worked so easily. She realizes how transparent she is, and blushes yet again.

Bibi: Thank you, Hajene.

D'zoll: Thank you. I think I needed a real challenge about now.

Seruffin: I'd be glad to offer what help I can. The authorities are generally a bit reluctant to issue travel permits for high-field Gens, but that can be overcome, I expect.

Bibi: Uh... Mr. Gegg retains enough Donor talent to react strongly to Sime need. His reaction is very... distressing... to zlin.

D'zoll: Distress is something we're trained to cope with. Sat'htine Donors are excellent as well.

Seruffin: Would you be able to spare one to escort the Geggs to your facility?

D'zoll: You did say twin channels, Hajene Bibi?

Bibi makes a tentacle gesture.

Bibi: I'm not able to tell, but the woman has given birth to one channel, and she's now pregnant with twins at a fairly advanced age.

D'zoll: Well, we'll say probable channels, then.

Bibi thinks "possible" would be more accurate, but isn't going to argue.

D'zoll: Our Donors are much in demand, it's true. But given this set of facts, perhaps the World Controller's office could issue a directive ...

D'zoll tilts his head again and looks at Seruffin inquiringly.

Bibi winces slightly at the way this Farris is leaning on Seruffin.

Seruffin: If that would help, I'm pretty sure it could be arranged. I'll require sufficient detail to make a case why the particular specialist you choose is required, of course.

Seruffin doesn't find Farris channels particularly intimidating, although he has a healthy respect for their talents.

Seruffin: When will you be free to take up the case?

D'zoll: Hmm, that's a good question. I fear I'm not very organized; I'll have to ask my Companion when I get back to the hotel. He tracks those things. I think a few weeks to a month, unless I'm forgetting something.

Bibi: Uh, perhaps you'll want my card?

D'zoll: Please.

D'zoll extends his tentacles for it.

Bibi was issued a box of cards, in Simelan, when she took up the Controller position, and in five years hasn't had much opportunity to give them away. She takes one out and gives it to him.

D'zoll takes the card, managing to brush his tentacles against Bibi's while he's at it.

Bibi tries not to jump at the more intense exposure to a Farris nager.

D'zoll realizes at once what Bibi's reaction is all about.

D'zoll: Forgive me, I didn't mean to pry. But the organization of your personality is most admirable. For someone with your history, you have a superior adjustment.

Bibi thinks this is a strange evaluation. She's been feeling like a bundle of nerves soaked in insecurity and radiating fear of need.

Bibi: Uh... thank you, Hajene.

Bibi resolves to ask Seruffin what he thinks about it.

D'zoll: You are in a very stressful situation with neither training nor experience to guide you, and nevertheless you are reacting appropriately throughout, neither too rigid nor too readily influenced.

Bibi feels rather ~~ uncomfortable ~~ at being evaluated on the spot like this.

Seruffin offers ~~ reassurance ~~

Bibi starts to unconsciously move closer to Seruffin, but stops herself when she notices what she's about to do. She nods, not being able to think of anything to say, and hopes this sort of thing won't totally freak Gegg out.

D'zoll: But there, there, I am doing what I so often accuse my colleagues of doing, letting my professional skills take over in a social situation. Please forgive me, and allow me to invite the two of you to dinner at The Bottomless Channel.

Bibi isn't sure what to think of this, and zlinning is useless. She's not going to be able to appreciate good food for at least a week, anyway.

Seruffin: That's very kind of you. And yes, I'm sure you'll be able to get some more details on how Bibi manages changeovers in Hannard's Ford.

D'zoll: Then it's a date? At nineteen hours, shall we say?

Seruffin: Bibi?

D'zoll lets out a teeny thread of ~~ appetite for gourmet Sime food ~~ into his showfield.

Bibi figures it's now a fait accompli and nods.

Seruffin thinks that spending some casual time with other high-rated channels will help Bibi take them off a pedestal.

Bibi isn't putting them on a pedestal: she just feels like a party balloon in a herd of blimps.

Seruffin: We'll meet you in the lobby after the last talk of the day.

D'zoll: I think, Hajene, that Hajene Bibi here might prefer to have a little ... time between the last talk and dinner.

Seruffin: Ah, of course. How thoughtless of me. We'll meet you there, then.

Bibi nods again, feeling like an idiot. A nagerically overwhelmed idiot.

D'zoll beams at both of them.

D'zoll: Until then, then.

Bibi can't think of anything to do but nod again.

Seruffin: We look forward to it.

Bibi looks to Seruffin as D'zoll strolls away.

Bibi: I hope I'm doing the right thing.

Seruffin: D'zoll has an excellent reputation for dealing with difficult psychological cases. I can't think of any better channel to take on Gegg.

Bibi: Yes. I trust your judgment.

Seruffin: You handled him perfectly, Bibi. I'm ~~ proud ~~ of you.

Bibi knows there's no point in asking Seruffin whether he thinks D'zoll was making a bit of a pass at her. Men never evaluate these things correctly.

Bibi: Seruffin...

Seruffin: Yes?

Bibi: I'm finding the ambient kind of overwhelming. And... like you said might happen... I'm beginning to dread getting further into need.

Seruffin offers a ~~ solid comforting blanket of selyn ~~

Seruffin: Perhaps you'd like to go spend an hour with your Donor? The rest of the talks this afternoon aren't as applicable to your situation.

Bibi: I could do with some rest in an insulated room, I think.

Bibi is a bit disappointed that Seruffin isn't offering to help her himself, and is too proud to ask him to. After all, he's post and needy Simes are a drag to be around.

Seruffin: Come, then. I'll walk you up there.

Seruffin increases the protection he's offering Bibi from the ambient.

Bibi: ~~ gratitude ~~ Thanks.

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