Travel Broadens: Episode 11

Lusinka brings her Sectuib a steaming cup of trin, and sits beside him on the hotel suite's couch.

Lusinka: Now, you just drink that and calm down, a moment. I'm sure D'zoll has a perfectly logical explanation. Maybe not practical, but definitely logical. ~~ humor ~~

Hiram accepts the cup with a grateful nod, and glances at the door.

Hiram: Room service -- could you get that?

Hiram is glad of the interruption.

Lusinka: Of course.

Lusinka heads towards the door, managing the fields with the practice of over 40 years as a Companion. She deals with room service with polite efficiency, and sends them on their way, bringing the cart inside herself.

Hiram spends the brief reprieve trying to believe the optimistic things his Companion has been saying for the past half hour.

Hiram: Broccoli. I told them no broccoli.

Lusinka sets out the tray of munchies where Hiram can reach it, the offending broccoli on the far side of the tray.

Lusinka: It won't poison you if you don't try to eat it.

Hiram reaches across the tray, picks up the broccoli piece by piece, and dumps it in the wastebasket.

Lusinka selects a slice of melon, which Hiram likes, and bites into it, ~~ savoring ~~ the taste in a suitably low-key fashion.

Hiram visibly relaxes, and takes a small piece of the same melon.

Shorsh climbs the stairs in step with his channel D'zoll, and proceeds along the corridor.

D'zoll is glad Shorsh is small enough to do this, given the size of the stairwells. He needs the close-up reassurance.

D'zoll: [mutters] Gonna be bad this time ~~ worry ~~

Shorsh: Well, you have agreed to bring an out-T Simephobe with a Donor-strength nager into the Householding without consulting anybody else first. What can you expect?

D'zoll: I can probably expect what I'm probably going to get.

Shorsh: I doubt he'll assign you to work at our facility for the criminally insane out in the desert. This time.

D'zoll laughs.

D'zoll: Ah. I guess that's an example of Gen unquenchable optimism.

Shorsh: Right. The desert would be good for your allergies. ~~ humor ~~

D'zoll: I'd probably develop a hitherto unheard-of allergy to sand.

Hiram glances up as he zlins two Farrises approaching his door. He gestures for Lusinka to remain seated and opens the door himself, before D'zoll can signal.

Hiram looms over the younger channel, despite being an inch shorter.

Lusinka arranges her nager into the ~~ regal calm ~~ appropriate to support Hiram while avoiding putting out warm fuzzies that would garble the message he wants to communicate to the miscreant.

Shorsh nods to Hiram, who happens to be his first, third and fifth cousin.

Shorsh: Good evening, Sectuib.

Hiram: D'zoll. Shorsh. Please do come in. ~~ icy ~~

D'zoll and Shorsh come in.

Hiram's nager becomes a ~~ blank wall ~~ as he leads the way across the room to the table.

D'zoll does his best to ~~ do the same ~~, but he's pretty sure he's a wall of glass.

Lusinka gives D'zoll one of the patented "how could you do something to upset Sectuib so much?" Looks that all First Companions learn early.

Shorsh has no difficulty remaining ~~ calm ~~ and ~~ cooperative ~~ since he didn't have anything to do with D'zoll's impetuous act.

Hiram seats himself, leaving his guests to figure out whether to sit down or stand.

D'zoll recognizes the puzzle, sees that it's insoluble by reasoning, flips a mental coin, and sits.

Shorsh sits next to him, providing a little ~~ support ~~ but not enough to put himself in an adversary position with his Sectuib.

Lusinka does not offer tea to the miscreants.

Hiram: Lusinka, please pour some tea for Shorsh.

Hiram sits back and steeples his hands, ~~ waiting ~~.

D'zoll knows how to play the waiting game too: mind-healers either are patient or learn to be.

Lusinka raises an eyebrow, but pours Shorsh a cup of tea.

Shorsh accepts the tea from his second cousin once removed with a nod of thanks.

Lusinka settles back on the couch with her own tea, keeping her eyes on D'zoll and her attention on Hiram.

D'zoll realizes that he's going to have to give in.

D'zoll: ~~ humble ~~ I should have talked to you first.

Hiram: ~~ very icy ~~ You should.

Lusinka: What were you thinking of, to do such a thing?

Lusinka has a number of children and grandchildren, so she delivers the phrase well.

D'zoll: [levelly] You know just what I was thinking of.

Lusinka: Not your House.

D'zoll: My house, indeed. And its Virtue. And my oath -- oaths.

Hiram: ~~ wearily ~~ Even Sat'htine can't heal the entire world, D'zoll.

D'zoll: ~~ enforced calm ~~ "I will apply therapeutic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice."

Shorsh doesn't roll his eyes, although he thinks D'zoll is definitely taking the wrong tack here.

Hiram: "According to my ability." You have the ability, then, to manage this case?

D'zoll: According to my judgment, I do. According to the judgment of my Sectuib...

D'zoll leaves the line hanging.

Hiram: ~~ dangerously ~~ Yes?

D'zoll remains silent for a time.

D'zoll: Yes.

Lusinka remembers a few of the Wild Gens which Sat'htine purchased before Unity, and the problems of integrating them into the Householding.

Hiram: Then please enumerate for me the complications this case will produce, and describe how you will deal with each of them.

D'zoll: There will be two chief complications; the unexpected reactions of my patient, and my own unexpected reactions. I will deal with them in accordance with intelligence guided by experience. My own, when possible. My Sectuib's, when needed.

Hiram: And what of the expected reactions of your patient?

D'zoll: At present he is a danger to himself and all around him.

Lusinka: Really? At present, all those around him are Gens or children. If he comes to Sat'htine, there will be renSimes around, as well.

D'zoll: That is so. But there is also the matter of his prospective children.

Hiram: Let's be specific. You intend to bring a high-field, Donor-class Simephobe among renSimes. You will deal with this how?

D'zoll: I will administer a sedative and take his field down, to begin with. After that, progressive desensitization.

Hiram: And until he has been desensitized?

D'zoll: Sedation or tranquilizers, as appropriate.

Hiram: And he will learn, while constantly sedated?

D'zoll: Not constantly, Sectuib. Only as needed to reduce his field. I will expose him to a variety of Sime fields, using my own field as the instrument, of course.

Hiram: Either he will be sedated much of the time, or he will occasionally be high-field.

D'zoll: Perhaps I will find it necessary to keep him in the disused isolation facilities that Sat'htine must have. I'm sure I can do some additional work to upgrade them before he arrives.

Hiram shudders theatrically.

Hiram: You think he will learn to relax and trust while in jail?

Lusinka: Do you think that his family would permit such a measure?

Hiram: A comfortable prison is still a prison.

D'zoll: The shaking plague isolation ward is not.

Hiram: Either he is free to move about, or he is not.

D'zoll: "Freedom comes only with discipline." At present his undermind is not yet disciplined enough.

Shorsh does roll his eyes this time.

Hiram: And it is his undermind which will label his situation "Pen," regardless of what his conscious mind understands.

D'zoll: ~~ startled ~~ Pens?

Lusinka: Do you have any idea how the out-Territory Gens view Pens? And how many of them have never believed that they are gone?

Hiram: D'zoll, have you ever actually talked to any out-Territory Gens? ~~ exaggerated patience ~~

D'zoll: ~~ cautious ~~ Apparently not enough, Sectuib.

Hiram: Very well. Shall we leave this problem as "not yet solved" and move on to another?

D'zoll nods.

Hiram: How do you plan to apply techniques of gradual desensitization, as you seem to intend, when you yourself are a prime example of the feared stimulus?

D'zoll smiles slightly.

D'zoll: That is what makes the case sufficiently challenging that Sat'htine should take it, Sectuib.

Shorsh sips his tea instead of wringing D'zoll's neck.

Hiram: So explain how you will deal with this.

D'zoll: It is my theory that his phobia is primarily triggered by his Donor reaction. By presenting him with a strong Gen field, I can work on desensitizing him to the visual presence of a Sime before working on the nageric element. After all, he was sufficiently motivated to come into the presence of non-Farris channels on four separate occasions.

Hiram: Very well. I zlin that you have actually thought about the technical aspects of the case. Write up your treatment plan, with decision points and options, run it past at least three relevant specialists, and have it on my desk ASAP.

D'zoll: Yes, Sectuib. ~~ relief ~~

Hiram: Now, tell me...

D'zoll: I'd like to discuss it with Sosu Roger in particular.

Hiram pauses, waiting until he has D'zoll's attention again.

Hiram: How much of Sat'htine's resources will this case cost? How many other patients might have been healed with the same expenditure of skills, effort, and risk?

D'zoll: Sectuib knows the value of a Second Order, or perhaps even a First Order, family to the world.

Hiram raises an eyebrow.

D'zoll: A proven channel, Donor genetics, and two more potential channels.

Hiram nods, keeping his nager ~~ level ~~.

Shorsh wonders how much deeper D'zoll is going to dig himself. Imagine the poor Gen -- doped, confined and evaluated as a breeder. How is he going to see himself as any different from a Pen stud?

D'zoll: In the long term, we cannot afford to leave that genetic line out-Territory. Though Gegg himself will surely never be able to serve as a Donor, his younger relative already has demonstrated aptitude.

Hiram: And both Bart and Mik have already been swallowed by the Tecton.

Lusinka thinks her young relative is being overly optimistic about the way this out-Territory Gen is likely to view the Tecton, however much the man might like to continue some sort of relationship with his channel son.

Hiram buries his face in his hands, rubbing his eyes with two ventrals.

Lusinka offers Hiram a bit of ~~ support ~~

Hiram: So you're hoping to win not just your patient's acceptance, but his loyalty? To recruit his children yet unborn for our House?

D'zoll: I hope so, yes.

Hiram: How realistic a hope is this?

D'zoll: Time will tell, Sectuib. If not our House, then another; if not another, then the Tecton.

Shorsh makes a faint nageric gesture equivalent to shaking his head with incredulity.

Hiram rubs his temples with all four dorsals, wondering if he himself was ever so young and naive.

Lusinka: To do any of this, you'll have to earn his trust, first and foremost. How will you do this, while keeping him drugged and imprisoned, and scaring him repeatedly?

D'zoll narrows his eyes.

Lusinka: Even the necessary precaution of taking his field down will require you to steal what he is incapable of giving you freely.

Hiram sits back, letting Lusinka carry the burden for a few minutes.

Lusinka: Or at least, that's how it's likely to appear to him.

D'zoll: By making use of the well-known warmth of my personality, of course.

D'zoll smiles openly at Lusinka.

Shorsh grunts.

Hiram studies D'zoll with ~~ incredulity ~~ as he realizes this statement wasn't intended as a joke.

Lusinka turns to Hiram with a snort.

Lusinka: How do you expect him to have any idea what he's up against? He's never dealt with a captive Wild Gen.

Lusinka looks at D'zoll.

Hiram: And I have dealt with far too many. ~~ melancholy ~~

Hiram: D'zoll, D'zoll...

Hiram lets his hands fall to his sides and looks the younger channel in the eye.

Hiram: You're a talented young channel. You're also fifth in line for Sectuib. In another House, you might well be Sectuib. You have got to learn realism, and an understanding of the bigger picture.

Hiram: Everything you've said so far tells me you have talent, you have a strong vision of the ideals of this House, but you have no perspective and far too little experience.

Hiram reaches for the teapot and pours D'zoll a cup of trin.

D'zoll: I believe I have heard you say something about good judgment being a matter of experience, and experience being a matter of bad judgment.

Hiram: Do you agree, then, that you showed bad judgment in taking on this case, without discussing it with me first?

D'zoll sips his tea gratefully.

D'zoll: I do, Sectuib.

Hiram: ~~ relief ~~ Good. Now we can make a real start at dealing with this. So what do you think I should do?

D'zoll: Let me take the case -- and backstop me when I need it.

Hiram glances at the two Companions.

Hiram: Any thoughts from either of you?

Lusinka: It would be a chance to keep some of the old skills alive.

Lusinka has ~~ mixed feelings ~~ about whether those particular skills should be kept alive.

Shorsh: I suppose I can do much of the interaction with the poor man, especially at first.

D'zoll shoots a look of moderated gratitude at his faithless Companion^W^W^WShorsh.

Shorsh made it clear to D'zoll long ago that if his impetuousness gets him into trouble, he's not to count on his Companion to dig him out.

Lusinka: D'zoll, have you considered that even if you are successful, this may be a case of the cure being worse than the disease? In Gen Territory, where there are no Simes, even severe Simephobia isn't much of a handicap.

D'zoll: Mr. Gegg thinks it is, and his opinion is the one that counts, not his friends' and neighbors'.

Lusinka: You are proposing doing some pretty awful things to the poor man, however good your intentions. Can you square that with your conscience?

D'zoll: As I said to Hajene Seruffin and Hajene Bibi, sometimes you need to rebreak a badly healed bone.

Lusinka: Does Mr. Gegg understand exactly what he's getting into?

D'zoll: Of course he doesn't. He understands that he has a problem and we may be able to help him.

Hiram steeples his fingers again, tentacles weaving in and out among them as he studies D'zoll.

Hiram: Are you prepared to make him understand what you plan, before you bring him in-T?

D'zoll gulps.

D'zoll: Before, Sectuib?

Hiram: Informed consent, D'zoll.

D'zoll: ~~ shocked ~~ Of course, Sectuib! But why before he is safely here?

Lusinka: For one thing, you'll be able to understand him a lot better if you see his culture.

Lusinka's tone is very dry.

Shorsh: So he can decide whether he wants to go through with it before he pulls up stakes and disrupts his family's whole life, for another.

Hiram: And also because you still haven't given a satisfactory answer to all the practical problems for Sat'htine.

D'zoll: I understand, Sectuib.

Hiram: Here's my decision, then.

Hiram stares ~~ hard ~~ at D'zoll.

Hiram: You'll write up your treatment plan, and responses to the other issues we've left open, before we leave here tomorrow.

D'zoll: Yes, Sectuib.

D'zoll thinks that considering how open-ended the issues are, that's not exactly fair, but if it's needed to get him and his patient together, it'll have to be done.

Hiram: If that's in order, I'll give Seruffin and Bibi a qualified "yes" before we leave.

D'zoll: I understand, Sectuib.

Hiram: As soon as we get home, you'll talk to the necessary people and arrange for the resources you expect to require. Then you and Shorsh will go out to Hannard's Ford and meet your patient. Or another Companion, if Shorsh is unwilling.

Hiram turns to study Shorsh.

Shorsh is ~~ unsurprised ~~, ~~ not eager ~~ but ~~ willing ~~. He's been out-T before, and almost looks forward to watching D'zoll undergo culture shock, even if it's his duty to nurse him through it.

D'zoll zlins Shorsh too.

D'zoll: [English] Thanks, buddy. ~~ sincere ~~

Hiram nods and continues.

Hiram: You'll discuss the treatment with Mr. Gegg. Get to know him and his family. Take a look around his community. Pay good attention to Hajene Bibi; she's a superb diplomat and I don't want you to put your foot into the rapport she's been building with the people there.

D'zoll: I'll be careful, Sectuib.

Hiram: Also, take a look around, and see if that inbred little town has anyone else we might be interested in getting to know. But don't push anyone. If Mr. Gegg is willing, you may begin treatment while you're there, in his safe and comfortable surroundings.

D'zoll nods.

Hiram: I or another senior channel will pass through Hannard's Ford in... shall we say three weeks?

D'zoll: I suggest four: a full cycle.

Hiram: Very well. Four. evaluate your progress. If everything checks out, you may bring the Gegg family to Sat'htine as soon as Mr. Gegg is ready to let you take down his field for the trip.

Lusinka makes a mental note to review entran outfunctions with Shorsh before they leave.

D'zoll: Sectuib, can I have one of the mobile shielded rooms? We could transport it on the train. I understand that living quarters in Gumgeeville are scarce, but there's plenty of land.

Hiram considers briefly. Yes, this would still be less costly than protecting all of Sat'htine from a high-field Wild Gen.

Hiram: Very well. The smallest one has the best insulation. Any other questions?

D'zoll: Not yet, Sectuib.

Hiram: Very well. So be it. And D'zoll...?

D'zoll: Yes, Sectuib?

Hiram: Next time, ask first.

D'zoll: Yes, Sectuib. I will, Sectuib.

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