Travel Broadens: Episode 13

Hiram zlins around the hotel room, making sure he hasn't missed any small items that still have to be packed.

Lusinka is putting the last of the clothing into a trunk.

Hiram glances at Lusinka. The closer he gets to hard need, the more Lusinka looks and zlins like the lovely young Gen she was forty years ago.

Lusinka's nager is better-preserved than her figure, certainly.

Hiram: I'm getting too old for all this travel.

Lusinka: Yes. It's time to pass that particular responsibility on to the next generation.

Hiram: Do you think I was wrong, to let D'zoll stay in his ivory tower so long? He should have been ready to take on more of the load by now.

Lusinka: I don't know. I suppose we'll find out. Do you think he'll be able to manage, so far into Gen Territory? Not that it won't do him good, to know that there's no one to fix any mistakes he might make but himself.

Hiram: He's got to start learning, sooner rather than later. And Shorsh will be there, of course.

Lusinka: That will help -- if he's got sense enough to listen to his Companion.

Lusinka chuckles.

Lusinka: You didn't always listen to me, when you were the Wild Gen tamer.

Hiram: I know, I made my share of mistakes. But Shorsh can be very assertive, when it's necessary. He should be here in a few minutes, by the way; I've asked him to stop by so we can discuss a few things before D'zoll gets back

Lusinka: Good.

Hiram glances up, as he zlins a Farris Gen's nager in the corridor.

Shorsh has intercepted room service and signals at the door with a tray of trin and goodies.

Hiram: Here he comes.

Hiram nods for Lusinka to get the door.

Lusinka: Come in!

Lusinka shuts her trunk and secures the latches.

Shorsh enters, juggling the tray.

Lusinka: Lunch! Thank you for bringing it in.

Lusinka gestures for Shorsh to set the tray on the coffee (trin?) table in front of the couch.

Shorsh does so, not spilling a drop.

Hiram glances at the tray.

Hiram: Broccoli again! ~~ disgust ~~

Shorsh likes broccoli. ~~ calm ~~

Lusinka: It's in season, Hiram.

Hiram: Yes, but so are many other things, that don't give me hives. Room service should at least be able to follow a simple instruction.

Lusinka pours tea and hands it around.

Lusinka: So, Shorsh, how is young D'zoll doing with the revisions to his treatment plan?

Shorsh: He's gone off to the Tecton Library to do some research about conditions out-T.

Shorsh suspects D'zoll will be reading theoretical sociological treatises rather than studies based on first-hand experience. ~~ cynical ~~

Hiram: The library. Not the local out-T enclave, but the library. ~~ weary patience ~~

Shorsh makes a "what do you expect" gesture.

Lusinka: Has he thought to have his retainers adjusted for comfort, before he has to wear them for hours on a moving train?

Shorsh: I don't think he has them with him. They're probably back at the Householding.

Hiram: Has he thought about the fact that he'll require them?

Lusinka: And not just for the trip, either.

Shorsh: I'm sure he realizes it. I expect he hasn't thought through the implications of being out where he can be shot on sight if he isn't wearing them, for weeks on end.

Shorsh shrugs.

Shorsh: I sent a note to the external affairs ministry requesting some Sime Territory signs.

Hiram: Shorsh, I'm afraid I'm putting a heavy burden on you. Are you sure you're up for it?

Shorsh: Well, if he's going to do it, somebody will have to look after him. Who else?

Lusinka: Who, indeed?

Shorsh: I'm none too pleased at the approach he seems to be taking.

Hiram raises an inquisitive eyebrow.

Shorsh: He doesn't appear to appreciate the difference between a citizen of New Washington, who plans to return there, and a newly purchased Choice Kill.

Lusinka: In what ways, specifically?

Shorsh: He seems to assume he'll have total control over Mr. Gegg, without considering the reactions of his wife and neighbors.

Shorsh makes an expression of ~~ distaste ~~.

Shorsh: He also seems to be regarding Mr. Gegg as much more of a "case" than a real human being.

Hiram: With family, friends, and ongoing duties.

Shorsh: And personal dignity and autonomy and ethics and a worldview.

Lusinka: Is that attitude strong enough that Mr. Gegg is likely to pick up on it?

Shorsh: Oh, definitely.

Lusinka: How does he think he can treat a... case history, not a person? It does seem a bit unrealistic.

Shorsh: He's going to have to rein in that Farris analytical act and show some compassion or it's going to be a disaster from the start.

Hiram: Have you any thoughts on how to expose D'zoll to the local community and its attitudes without getting him shot?

Shorsh sighs with ~~ mild exasperation ~~

Hiram: He can't begin to do his work with Gegg until he sees him as a real person, in a real community.

Shorsh: I think he should spend a little time with Hajene Bibi, meet some of her donors, discuss things with her. After all, she knows the culture as a native, as well as the people involved.

Lusinka: Indeed. Mr. Gegg has waited over a decade for treatment; a few days longer won't make the problem worse.

Hiram: According to Seruffin, Bibi is very good at bridging cultures. Will D'zoll respect a Second?

Shorsh: Good question. I suppose I can kick him in the shins if I see him doing that charming act, backed by an overwhelming nager. I want him to listen to her, not bowl her over nagerically.

Hiram: I get the impression that Bibi is still a bit intimidated by us Farrises.

Shorsh: I don't think she's had much contact with Firsts in general. Shuven, she's been isolated out there in the wilds for years, never seeing another Sime but the mules and the changeovers. You saw how she interacts with Seruffin.

Hiram: She adores him, but she's overwhelmed by him too. Reminds me of myself, with some of my early teachers.

Lusinka: And she's from Gen Territory originally, isn't she? That would mean she's actually spent rather little of her life in Sime Territory.

Hiram: She can be a big help to D'zoll, but you may have to do some persuading to make him hear her.

Shorsh sometimes would like to persuade D'zoll with a piece of dimension lumber.

Lusinka: D'zoll's going to find his charming nager is a lot less useful, among Gens and children who don't know what a Farris channel is. It'll do him good, but he's going to have to do some fast adjusting to the new reality.

Shorsh sighs.

Hiram: ~~ amusement ~~ Everywhere he's gone, he's always been treated like a Farris.

Lusinka: I just hope he doesn't accidentally try to nagerically charm Mr. Gegg, or he might get more than he bargained for. At least, if the man is sensitive to fields, as reported.

Hiram winces.

Shorsh: Sectuib, you know I worked in Cago for almost a year. I doubt D'zoll realizes that most out-T Gens don't see much difference between a channel and a berserker. It was quite a surprise to me that that I didn't get any particular respect for being a Donor. On the contrary, the reaction was more likely to be revulsion and contempt, and I at least didn't have to zlin it.

Hiram: Have I let D'zoll bite off more than he can chew? Should I have just vetoed this project? ~~ self-doubt ~~ ~~ need depression ~~

Lusinka offers ~~ support ~~ to Hiram.

Shorsh turns up his hands.

Shorsh: I think it will be good if we can help Mr. Gegg. And I hate to think of his wife out there away from competent help if she's carrying channels.

Hiram: Thank you for refocusing this. It really is primarily about the Gegg family, and only secondarily about training D'zoll.

Shorsh: I think D'zoll is having the usual crazed burst of enthusiasm that he gets at the beginning of a project. I hope he'll settle down soon or I'll be tempted to throttle him.

Lusinka chuckles.

Lusinka: He'll require that enthusiasm, if he's going to spend a month out-Territory living in a mobile treatment room.

Shorsh: Perhaps a good talking to by his Sectuib, with a strong admonition to listen to his Companion, even defer to his Companion, that I can quote back to him... ~~ wry humor ~~

Hiram: That, I can certainly do for you.

Shorsh smiles.

Shorsh: Thanks.

Hiram: I told him to take the smallest mobile, hoping it would get him out among the community more. Is that one thing too much?

Shorsh considers this for a while.

Shorsh: I think you've got a good idea there, and none of the mobiles are all that large. It might actually do D'zoll a lot of good to have to choose between a hostile environment and a small confined area, the way he's been talking about finding some kind of cell to shut poor Mr. Gegg up in once we get him in-T. It would be a real mirror image for him.

Hiram: I wanted to force him to work with Mr. Gegg in Gegg's own familiar and safe surroundings, not drag him into the mobile. And yes, give him a zlin of the other side of the mirror.

Lusinka: Including the importance of having a "safe refuge" for anyone living in a hostile environment, as Mr. Gegg will be, once he comes in-Territory.

Shorsh: All the better if it's the small mobile then. There won't be room for much. He'll have to work with Mr. Gegg in his own house, certainly with his retainers on at first. ~~ satisfaction ~~

Lusinka: Of course, he won't be able to zlin his patient's field as closely, through retainers.

Shorsh: Surely with Farris sensitivity he'll be able to zlin quite a lot even in retainers.

Lusinka: True, but he may have trouble with fine judgments. Like, when his patient has had enough for one day. I hope you'll be able to rein him in, if necessary?

Hiram: For all his talents, D'zoll doesn't seem to have much aptitude at reading body language. I've tested him occasionally, projecting one thing with my showfield and another with my body language, and he's never picked up on the latter.

Hiram: That's the trouble, I think. He's never been forced to learn to read body language or vocal inflections.

Shorsh: It has been a good while since he was a child and had no choice. But perhaps he should get some practice wearing retainers before he goes out-T.

Hiram: Shorsh, do you think you could put him into a pair of extra-heavy retainers and give him some body language to read?

Shorsh laughs.

Shorsh: I'll have to present it as a challenge worthy of a Farris channel!

Hiram: ~~ amusement ~~

Lusinka: You can just hold him hypoconscious, to start with, until you get back to Sat'htine and find his retainers.

Shorsh: I may be pissed off at him, but I'm not that pissed off at him. He's a good lad, just a bit overenthusiastic sometimes. And somewhat lacking in the long view and the big picture.

Hiram: You know, I'm beginning to realize just how badly I've failed D'zoll by letting him coast this long. ~~ guilt ~~ ~~ self-doubt ~~

Shorsh: Oh, he's a good therapist, especially with Simes.

Lusinka: He's not bad with the Gens, either... at least, in-Territory Gens.

Hiram: Which is why I let him get away with it for so long. But it was the wrong thing to do, for him and for Sat'htine.

Shorsh: I think he doesn't really understand in what ways this is going to be very different from his previous experience.

Hiram: You're a good teacher, Shorsh. I just hope I'm not asking the impossible of you.

Shorsh: Don't worry, Sectuib. D'zoll's all right. Just tell him to listen to me, and I'll keep him from getting shot and pissed on. ~~ Gen optimism ~~

Hiram: ~~ warm gratitude ~~

Lusinka: D'zoll could use a challenge. And for that matter, so could you, Shorsh.

Shorsh: It will be a challenge, all right! ~~ warm humor ~~

Hiram: It's always been the way of Companions, to rescue channels from their folly.

Lusinka chuckles.

Lusinka: Indeed.

Hiram: So, what other issues do we need to discuss, before D'zoll gets back?

Shorsh: Do you really want us to try to recruit new members out there, Sectuib?

Shorsh thinks this could be a political disaster.

Hiram: Not if D'zoll doesn't shape up quickly. And it's not so much a matter of actively recruiting, as finding out what else this odd little gene pool might have produced. I was mostly just thinking of it as a way to get D'zoll out into the community with his eyes and mind open, not to run a recruiting campaign.

Shorsh: I'll have to keep him on a tight rein if there really are some strange nagers out there. They may be strange nagers to him, but I doubt many of those people even know what a nager is.

Lusinka: Probably not. Although they're likely to take offense if he tries to get a closer zlin of them, anyway.

Hiram: I'll have a word with him about that -- observe and take notes, but no pushing.

Shorsh has a chilling thought and ~~ shivers ~~

Shorsh: We may not be able to intervene if there's a changeover.

Hiram: That's always the way, out-T. Do your best, but don't let D'zoll get either of you lynched. ~~ old sorrow ~~

Shorsh wonders if he'll have to use any of those new sedatives on D'zoll.

Shorsh: Sectuib, when you have your little talk with D'zoll... perhaps you could ask him to consider, when he thinks of some technique, whether it's the best for Mr. Gegg, rather than the best for him?

Lusinka looks at Shorsh ~~ sharply ~~

Hiram: Hmmm... are you thinking of anything in particular?

Shorsh: I'm just uncomfortable about D'zoll's attitude that he's managing a fascinating case, rather than helping a suffering human being. I don't want to see him pushing Mr. Gegg into consenting to something that is more experimental than therapeutic.

Hiram: Has he been talking about some specific technique?

Shorsh sighs.

Hiram tilts his head inquisitively.

Shorsh: The two of us got into a discussion about sedation. D'zoll wants to learn to use and apply the new injectables, rather than some of the tried and true oral or inhaled drugs.

Hiram sighs.

Shorsh: I have to admit that I was rather upset at the way the discussion went. It was more like considering which sedative to use when shipping farm animals than considering it from Mr. Gegg's viewpoint. ~~ mild disgust ~~

Hiram: Very well, I'll use that as an example. As far as I'm concerned, new techniques should be tried out much closer to home. As to the whole matter of using sedatives...

Hiram rubs at his neck muscles with his dorsals.

Shorsh: ~~ sympathy ~~

Hiram: Barring some disaster at home, I've decided I'm definitely going to be the one who comes out to review the situation after a few weeks. Unless there's an urgent reason to pull you two out of there quickly, I'd rather not bring Mr. Gegg in-T until he's ready to donate with little or no sedation. If he has to be knocked out cold in order to donate, he isn't ready yet.

Shorsh nods. ~~ relief ~~ agreement ~~

Lusinka: Then, too, out-Territory Gens had a well-justified fear of Sime drugs, considering how they were used in the Pen system. That hasn't faded much in the intervening decades. Has D'zoll thought about what he'd be asking of Mr. Gegg, to let a Sime drug him? And for the purpose of harvesting his selyn?

Shorsh spreads his hands. If he had tentacles, he'd spread them too.

Shorsh: He doesn't listen very well in this initial-burst-of-enthusiasm phase.

Hiram: Do we have a copy of one of the Pen Gen autobiographies? "A Gen's Tale" by Rossim, or "My Early Life" by Nilla?

Lusinka: I think so, at Sat'htine.

Hiram: Good. I've never had difficulty persuading D'zoll to read. Maybe one of those will get through to him.

Shorsh: We talked to Roger, but I suspect D'zoll was more focused on technique than the emotional impacts. Of course Roger was minimizing that.

Lusinka: He's a Companion. Of course, he'd want to keep from broadcasting what he went through.

Shorsh: He's a man. He doesn't want to look weak.

Hiram: He's a good man. But sometimes too inclined to keep his silence.

Shorsh: He still has some of the out-T attitudes he was raised with. You know how they are out-T.

Hiram: The strong silent archetype. Combined with a Companion's urge to protect a channel from unpleasantness.

Lusinka: I hope Roger at least gave D'zoll a clear idea of some of the difficulties he'll face? And some of the old techniques developed to cope with them?

Hiram: Knowing Roger, I suspect he left the dirty work for his Sectuib. He hates delivering bad news. And I'm perhaps the one channel he's learned not to overprotect. ~~ gentle irony ~~

Lusinka chuckles.

Shorsh smiles.

Lusinka: It was quite a battle, too. Do you remember?

Hiram: ~~ amusement ~~ I'm unlikely to forget. I made such a mess of things, because he was trying to shelter me from unpleasant truths -- like the fact that i was full of myself and had my head up my lateral sheath.

Shorsh zlins of ~~ amusement ~~ as well as ~~ respect ~~ and ~~ love ~~ for his Sectuib. He remembers Hiram as the young heir apparent, whom he looked up to as a child.

Lusinka: Well, you learned. And so will D'zoll. He's young enough to adjust, even to life among the Wild Gens, if he has to.

Shorsh imagines D'zoll going native out there and smiles.

Hiram takes a sip of his cold trin and sits back, hoping the Gens' optimism isn't misplaced.

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