Seruffin has persuaded Bibi to spend the evening wandering through the Nivet Historical Museum with him, since the museum tour was included in their conference package. He's curious about the highly acclaimed new exhibit on the Unity Wars.
Bibi is feeling much better now that she's had a reasonably adequate transfer. She thinks wandering the museum with Seruffin is much more pleasant than doing so alone.
Bibi enjoyed the last part of the conference, when she wasn't in need, a great deal more than the first.
Seruffin pauses in front of an exhibit of a Gen Army encampment, with one tent on display and a mural showing others going back into the distance.
Seruffin: When I was growing up, this was the stuff of nightmares for most Simes.
Bibi: Armed Gens, who could take your life from far out of reach.
Seruffin: Yes. Far too many to capture, but too high-field to ignore. Every few years, they would swarm across the border, destroying everything in their path: crops and horses, as well as Simes.
Bibi: How did the juncts rationalize the obviously advanced technology of the Wild Gens with their image of Gens as mindless animals?
Seruffin: How could they not, when their lives depended on it?
Hiram strolls up, nodding to Seruffin and the pretty channel with him.
Seruffin takes a step to one side, to give Hiram room to view the display.
Seruffin: Good evening, Sectuib Farris.
Bibi tries not to be intimidated by the even bigger nager of this Farris.
Seruffin: May I introduce Hajene Bibi? This is Sectuib Hiram Farris ambrov Sat'htine, Bibi.
Bibi: Honored to meet you, Sectuib Farris.
Hiram: Good evening, Hajene Seruffin. And I'm charmed to meet you, Hajene Bibi.
Bibi nods, and of course, blushes.
Hiram: Seruffin, I really enjoyed your questions to Hajene Norbom at his talk the other day. You definitely had him on the run.
Seruffin: I have perhaps a little more experience with what's possible when dealing with out-Territory Gen officials than he does. Although not as much as Bibi, of course.
Hiram looks more closely at Bibi.
Hiram: Didn't I see you asking some excellent questions at Norris' talk, Hajene Bibi?
Bibi: No, although I did speak to him later.
Bibi couldn't understand the nageric manipulations Norris described, so she asked him for a demonstration after his talk.
Hiram: A bit given to making everything as obscure as possible, isn't he? I've never known Norris to use one short word when three long ones would do.
Bibi: Well, he was a bit verbose, perhaps.
Seruffin: Long-winded, I'd say. And I've met enough politicians to know.
Hiram: I've known him since we were both barely out of First Year camp. The more unsure of himself he is, the more he hides behind verbiage. Once you clear away the clutter, though, he does have some useful innovations.
Bibi: I thought he had some interesting observations about taking donations from elderly Gens.
Bibi uses the in-T idea of elderly -- over 45 or so.
Hiram: Do you work a lot with older donors?
Bibi: Yes. Some very old, seventy to eighty natal years, a few older.
Bibi: No, out-T Gens.
Hiram: You're an out-T specialist, then?
Bibi: I was born out-T and lived there until my changeover. I've been running a very small out-T Sime Center for nearly five years now.
Bibi doesn't really regard herself as a specialist. Firsts specialize, Seconds just work.
Seruffin thinks that Bibi consistently underrates her accomplishments.
Hiram: That must be very stressful work.
Bibi: It's usually fairly pleasant, but it can get difficult at times.
Hiram can zlin the traces of stress in Bibi's nager.
Seruffin offers ~~ reassurance ~~, suspecting that Bibi is remembering being in need with no Donor in miles.
Hiram: I've seen some very interesting cases from out-T. I can't imagine having to deal with some of them solo, out in the field.
Bibi: The potentially difficult cases tend to avoid the Sime Center. The Gens that is.
Hiram: I admire the work that channels like you do.
Bibi: Ah, well, since I grew up out-T, I don't find the culture strange. My clients are just like the people I grew up with.
Seruffin is glad that Hiram didn't qualify his statement with a direct reference to Bibi's Second Order status.
Hiram: That might help you understand them, but it still doesn't provide you with a support system when you have to deal with them.
Bibi: Well, I have my Donor, and my other staff.
Seruffin: Bibi has managed to build her own support system in the town itself. Some of them can be quite formidable. Especially the ladies.
Bibi: The community has been very supportive. It was their determined efforts that got the Sime Center in such a small town in the first place.
Hiram: It sounds like you've been forced to be a diplomat as well as a channel.
Seruffin: Bibi is being modest. Thanks to her efforts, the town provides more support than many in-Territory Sime Centers can expect.
Bibi smiles, showing her dimples.
Hiram looks at Bibi with increased respect.
Seruffin: At least, I can't recall any other Sime Center where the local people provide fresh-baked refreshments on a daily basis.
Hiram: I do hope they're better than these.
Hiram holds up a napkin laden with little squares of chocolate cookie topped with cheese
Hiram: I take it you've tried one of these?
Bibi: No, I haven't. It does seem like a rather... innovative combination of foods.
Hiram: You mean it's not a traditional out-T item?
Bibi: Not in any area I've lived in, but perhaps it's eaten elsewhere.
Bibi can be diplomatic.
Seruffin frowns -- the conference materials touted the refreshments as traditional out-Territory fare, and he'd hoped that it would make Bibi feel more at home.
Hiram looks crestfallen.
Hiram: I'd hoped the food was at fault, not my tastebuds.
Seruffin: I admit, I was beginning to wonder. I've noticed three Donors throwing those cookies away, so it doesn't seem to appeal to Gen tastes any more than Sime.
Bibi: Uh, of course I've only lived in a few places out-T...
Hiram's nager sparkles with ~~ amusement ~~, making him seem much less intimidating. He wads up the napkin and flings it at the nearest trashcan.
Seruffin: I don't suppose the lima beans and berries on the crackers are any more authentic?
Bibi: From what I've seen, crackers are usually eaten with cheese, or jam or crumbled in soup. Sometimes they are eaten with meat products.
Hiram: Meat. ~~ disgust ~~
Bibi: I wouldn't expect the caterers to be that authentic.
Hiram: ~~ relief ~~
Bibi smiles again, dimples and all.
Hiram: So what do you think of this exhibit, Bibi?
Bibi: I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but it's quite interesting.
Seruffin hasn't missed Bibi's occasional amusement.
Hiram: As a healer, it always amazes me how they sanitize the images of war.
Bibi: A rifle can produce a dreadful wound.
Hiram: Have you had to deal with gunshot wounds, Bibi?
Bibi hasn't seen many children shot in changeover, but she's heard painful stories from her donors.
Bibi: No, not yet. I mostly try to prevent the necessity of gunshot wounds.
Seruffin offers ~~ comfort ~~, knowing that Bibi is not always successful.
Hiram: As with all branches of medicine, prevention is better than cure.
Seruffin: Yes. Although when the damage is already done, a cure is important.
Hiram: Oh, dear. Did I say the wrong thing?
Seruffin: Not at all. We do appreciate the assistance your Householding has offered, to Bibi's patient.
Hiram: Bibi's patient? ~~ puzzlement ~~
Bibi blushes at Seruffin's faux pas. It appears that Hajene D'zoll has not yet discussed Gegg with his Sectuib.
Seruffin: Mr. Gegg. He's the Simephobe Hajene D'zoll has offered to treat at Sat'htine.
Hiram: He has?
Hiram's nager suddenly becomes very ~~ closed ~~ and ~~ hard ~~.
Bibi gets a decided ~~ sinking feeling ~~.
Seruffin: Yes. Although I gather he hasn't yet consulted you about the details?
Hiram: No, he hasn't. So what has D'zoll gotten Sat'htine into this time?
Seruffin: It has been a rather busy conference.
Bibi ~~ cringes ~~ nagerically.
Hiram: It's not you I'm angry with.
Hiram projects ~~ calm ~~. After a minute, it becomes less brittle and more convincing.
Seruffin: Mr. Gegg is a farmer from a small village a few hours away from the town where Bibi's Sime Center is located.
Hiram nods, listening.
Seruffin: As a young man, he joined the Gen Army, and was sent to clear some juncts out of a swamp.
Hiram: Ugly business, that.
Seruffin: Very ugly. The juncts managed to pick off the other soldiers in his group, and captured him. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what happened then.
Hiram: Burned him?
Seruffin: They didn't get quite that far before his screams brought rescuers to him.
Bibi: Mr. Gegg has considerable Donor talent. The juncts took pleasure in tormenting him. It was all the more horrible for him in that he experienced an attraction to his torturers.
Seruffin: He still responds to Sime nagers, much as a Donor would, but for him, it invokes horror, not desire.
Hiram: And after this, he still came to your Sime center?
Bibi: His son began to have premonitions of changeover.
Hiram frowns, beginning to zlin the problem.
Bibi: Hajene Seruffin and his Donor were stranded in their village early last spring, and spoke to the boy.
Hiram: And the father is a loving man, who still cares for his son?
Bibi: Mr. Gegg has regarded himself as a coward since his terrible experience, but he showed tremendous courage in coming to see me several times. We arranged for his son to board near the Sime Center and a little over a month ago he changed over as a channel
Seruffin: Mr. Gegg would like to be able to hug his son again.
Hiram stares at Bibi with ~~ respect ~~.
Hiram: An amazing man. Sat'htine might very well be interested in such a case. Shall we discuss it further, someplace a bit less noisy?
Bibi: Thank you, Sectuib Farris. I don't know where else I could find comparable expertise for such a difficult case.
Hiram: You endure a lot, out there on the front lines. If Sat'htine can't take the case, I'll try to at least find you a referral. But let's go talk about it sitting down.