Travel Broadens: Episode 15

Darrel is starting to feel a bit more comfortable with his duties at the Hannard's Ford Sime Center.

Darrel has gone almost a week without a disaster (at least, as he defines it), which is pretty good, considering. He's glad that some of the stranger clients, at least according to their files, have stayed away, however. He would be quite content if every Gen he meets out here is as easy as Uncle Tony to handle.

Cristal used to look forward to collectorium duty, but it's getting to be quite a chore dealing with Darrel's unpredictable reactions: it's the Gens who are supposed to react unpredictably, for shid's sake. He's careful to keep this attitude out of his field, however, and Darrel isn't up to noticing his body language, unlike Seruffin and Bibi.

Mari strides up to the gate of the Sime Center, smiling in happy anticipation. She's looking forward to donating again, and has heard that Hajene Bibi's temporary replacement is quite a good-looking man.

Darrel zlins the positive emotions in the approaching donor with ~~ hope ~~ , although he can't quite bring himself to trust in potential good luck.

Mari is also looking forward to a fresh start at making a good impression. She has the feeling she didn't get off to the best possible start with Hajene Bibi.

Darrel: Cristal, we've got a customer. Do you know her?

Cristal looks out the window to try to make out who it is.

Cristal: I do, Darrel. She's the one with the low-speed slil response.

Cristal hands Darrel the paperwork on Mari.

Darrel scans it, and blanches.

Cristal: ~~ support encouragement ~~

Darrel: This is the kind of case that should be handled by a First.

Cristal nods sympathetically.

Cristal: Unfortunately ...

Darrel: Yes. It's a little far to send back to Capital for one.

Cristal: You can always refuse her donation, but the knock-on effects might be serious for her.

Darrel: Well, at least it says here that she doesn't panic.

Mari strolls up the walkway towards the front door. She hopes this new channel will be willing to upgrade her, since this is her second donation.

Darrel: If I stay under the speed Hajene Seruffin listed, maybe she won't react so strongly.

Cristal: It's worth a try.

Mari climbs the steps, humming a little cheerful tune.

Darrel takes a deep breath to steady himself, and tries to look like a confident professional, not a scared rabbit.

Mari opens the door.

Mari: [in Simelan] Goahd moherning.

Cristal smiles.

Cristal: Good morning, Mari.

Mari has been teaching herself Simelan, entirely from books. Her grammar is not as bad as one might expect, but her pronunciation is atrocious.

Darrel: Good morning. I'm Hajene Darrel, filling in while Hajene Bibi is away.

Darrel is careful to speak in English, in hopes of actually communicating.

Mari: [still in mangled Simelan] I seek (hunting-mode) to transfer serve to system-secondary of channel who is provisional-member-of-Householding in which Hajene Bibi is Sectuib.

Mari spent hours working out that sentence, and is rather pleased with it. ~~ eagerness ~~

Cristal works his way through the twisted syntax and mangled semantics.

Darrel blinks in ~~ bewilderment ~~ at this statement, which seems to be saying that Mari wants to attack him for being a member of Bibi's non-existent Householding.

Darrel: Umm... perhaps you'd be more comfortable speaking English? ~~ hope ~~

Mari: Oh, dear. Is my Simelan that bad?

Darrel: It's just that I'm not sure you really meant what you said.

Darrel is trying for tact.

Darrel: Simelan can be a very difficult language to learn.

Mari: ~~ resigned self-deprecation ~~ I asked you to boil me and serve me over rice?

Darrel: Well, not quite.

Cristal: More like you told him you were going to boil him and serve him with or without rice.

Cristal laughs, hoping Mari will too.

Darrel: I have to assume you aren't really a berserker?

Mari: ~~ humor ~~ Wouldn't I have to be Sime for that?

Darrel looks a little whimsical, with this nageric assistance.

Darrel: It helps.

Cristal: A Gen berserker would be -- unusual.

Darrel sincerely hopes that Mari isn't one.

Mari grins.

Mari: Well, I've been called unusual before.

Darrel: Since we've confirmed that you're not here on a mission of total destruction, perhaps you'll tell us what we can do for you?

Mari: What I was trying to say was that I'm here to donate.

Darrel: Ah. That would be, "I'm here to donate".

Mari repeats the phrase slowly.

Mari: Is that better?

Darrel pantomimes ~~ relief ~~

Cristal: Much better.

Darrel: I much prefer taking donations to being served with unboiled rice.

Mari: And I'd also like to return this book.

Mari holds up a battered copy of "Andrew Goes To Capital", a novel from the adult literacy line of the Zeor Learning series.

Cristal takes the book from Mari.

Cristal is glad to see that Darrel is handling things so well, so far.

Mari: I'm hoping you might be able to upgrade me this month. The sooner I can save up some money, the sooner I can go in-Territory to try out for Donor school. Do you think you could get me all the way up to GN-1? ~~ eager hopefulness ~~

Darrel: Er...

Darrel looks ~~ uncertain ~~

Darrel: From what Hajene Seruffin wrote here, that might not be advisable.

Mari: ~~ disappointment ~~ Why not? I promised him I wouldn't try to grab for slilbliss again.

Mari has at least learned to pronounce this one technical term correctly.

Cristal: We're concerned that you'll experience it whether you try or not.

Darrel: I'm sure you would do your best, but you might react unpredictably to a deeper selyn flow.

Cristal: [Simelan] Perhaps you could draw very slowly for a long time?

Darrel: [Simelan] I ought to at least try, if only to get her in-Territory and in more competent tentacles as quickly as practical.

Mari frowns, trying to decipher what the other two are saying.

Mari: Feeling it doesn't actually hurt you, does it, so long as I wasn't pushing for it? It's not like I mind the sensation. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.

Darrel switches back to English.

Darrel: What concerns us is that it's rather hard to not react to a sensation like slilbliss, especially when you haven't been taught what to do with it.

Mari: Can you explain what I should do with it, then? I'm a quick study.

Darrel was afraid Mari would ask something like that.

Darrel: I'm not used to training Donor candidates. Cristal, how did they explain it to you?

Cristal: It's very unusual to experience slil at all during a simple donation. I certainly haven't.

Cristal: The normal responses of a Donor aren't what you want to show at all, because Simes tend to assume people who feel competent, are. And even though you're not a trained Donor, Hajene Darrel may find himself treating you like you're trained.

Darrel is probably paranoid enough to avoid this particular pitfall.

Cristal: Which could be very bad for both of you. So he'll try to keep the speed so low that you don't feel anything, which may disappoint you, but it'll be safest for everyone.

Mari: ~~ resigned ~~ I can be patient, I guess. I've got the rest of my life to feel slilbliss.

Darrel: I've got Hajene Bibi and Hajene Seruffin's notes on what draw speed caused you to feel slil during a GN-3 donation. I'd have to guess if I tried to go deeper.

Mari: If you just stayed at the same speed?

Cristal: Each section of your selyn supply has different characteristics.

Darrel: I'll tell you what. Why don't I take care of your GN-3 level first. Then, if it goes well, we can consider trying for more.

Darrel always was a Genpecked channel; he finds it very difficult to deny a Gen anything. At least one who seems reasonably sane and stable.

Mari: Okay. Better to be cautious, I guess. ~~ wry amusement ~~ Not that I'm noted for caution. But there's a first time for everything.

Cristal: This would be the time, yes.

Darrel chuckles.

Darrel: I'm cautious enough for both of us.

Darrel gestures towards the small donation cubicle.

Mari opens the door and leads the way in. She goes straight to the contour lounge and sits down.

Darrel takes a moment to look over her file once more, then hands it to Cristal and sits down beside Mari. He offers his hands.

Cristal puts the file away and moves to the neutral point

Mari takes Darrel's hands.

Darrel wraps handling tentacles around Mari's arms, then zlins Mari as deeply as he can, without lateral contact.

Mari: This is going to be much more fun than kissing Hajene Bibi.

Darrel groans.

Mari glances at Cristal.

Mari: Though of course, you're entitled to disagree with me. Sorry, Hajene. You looked tense. Just a little joke.

Darrel: It's nothing personal, but we've been swamped with a number of young ladies seeking the sort of adventure that their husbands, fathers, and fiances would disapprove of.

Cristal winks at Mari.

Mari: I can see why. But I'm not exactly the romantic type. Tried to read a romance novel one time, and got about three pages in before I gave up.

Cristal raises one eyebrow.

Mari: Don't worry, Hajene. I won't swoon over you unless you're a new textbook.

Darrel: That's reassuring.

Mari grins.

Cristal grins too. ~~ humor ~~

Mari: Okay, so I'm joking to calm myself down too.

Darrel extends his laterals, zlinning again as he tries to figure out how far this donation's figures are going to differ from the parameters of the previous ones.

Mari takes three deep breaths and drops into a moderately deep state of relaxation, just as she did for Seruffin.

Darrel raises an eyebrow.

Darrel: Very good! Can you hold that state for me?

Mari: Mmmmmhmmmm.

Darrel takes that as a "yes" and leans forward to make lip contact.

Cristal makes his well-schooled moves.

Mari relaxes even more.

Darrel zlins the associated barrier movement with some ~~ trepidation ~~, but the situation seems to be stabilizing.

Mari's GN barriers are all completely flat now.

Darrel lets his showfield drop, starting a slow flow.

Mari remains relaxed.

Darrel gradually increases the gradient, moving towards the "danger" speed listed in Mari's chart.

Mari's speed must have been stretched a little by last month's efforts, because nothing unusual happens as last month's safe speed passes.

Cristal's gut tells him this month isn't like last month, and he's ~~ concerned ~~

Darrel is still going far slower than a normal donation, but he holds at that speed until the GN-3 level is empty. He notes that the GN-2 barriers are relaxed enough to work through. He hesitates, then breaks lip contact.

Darrel: Mari, how did that feel?

Mari opens her eyes lazily.

Mari: Didn't feel a thing. ~~ mild disappointment ~~ Did you get all the levels? ~~ hopeful ~~

Darrel: No, I only got your GN-3 level. But if you didn't feel anything, that means things haven't changed much from last month.

Mari: Isn't it a good sign that I didn't feel anything?

Cristal ~~ supports ~~ Darrel as the recovery transients course through his system.

Mari is more alert now, but her GN barriers are still down flat.

Darrel: Yes, it is. Hajene Seruffin left an estimate of where he thought you were likely to start reacting to selyn movement in your GN-2 level. You had your barriers lowered nicely, there. If you can do that again, I'll try to see what I can do with your GN-2 level.

Darrel isn't sure this is wise, but as remarked before, he's a Genpecked channel, and Mari seems to want it.

Mari: Let's do it.

Mari closes her eyes and relaxes again.

Darrel: All right. If you start to feel slilbliss again, try to stay as neutral as possible. Don't grab for it, and don't reject it.

Mari: Okay.

Cristal is in ~~ favor ~~ of this approach, and thinks Darrel is ~~ handling Mari well ~~.

Darrel always appreciates a vote of confidence, especially when doing something against his better judgment.

Darrel signals Cristal for support, and leans forward to resume lip contact. He takes a close zlin of the GN-2 barriers, and cautiously reaches past them, initiating a slow draw.

Mari remains relaxed.

Darrel gradually increases his draw speed, trying to find some compromise between caution and letting his laterals dry out from overexposure.

Mari: ~~ warm pleasant tingle ~~

Mari begins to grab at the sensation, then a split second later backs off and relaxes even more deeply. The tingle fades.

Darrel sharply cuts back his speed at Mari's response, then gradually brings it back as she regains control. He holds for a long moment, zlinning deeply, then cautiously allows his draw speed to rise again, approaching Seruffin's estimate of Mari's probable slil response.

Mari remains relaxed.

Darrel is getting a bit overconfident, as things continue to go well, and lets the draw speed rise just an increment too high.

Mari: ~~ strong slilbliss ~~

Mari again begins to grab at the feeling. She gives a strong push of selyn, as her body resonates with ~~ intense slilbliss ~~

Cristal feels something shift hard in the ambient, moves closer to Darrel and ~~ intensifies support ~~

Darrel panics and wrenches his head back, breaking lip contact and throwing himself into ~~ SHEN ~~ He gives a strangled scream as the backlash hits him.

Cristal wraps his arms around Darrel, with his hands over his vriamic node.

Mari gasps and sits up, radiating intense ~~ guilt ~~

Darrel's poor abused laterals cringe back into their sheaths.

Cristal: Get up, Mari. I want Darrel to lie down.

Mari drags herself off the lounge as quickly as she can.

Cristal helps Darrel recline, and kneels next to him, taking his arms.

Darrel is whimpering through his gritted teeth, trying hard to relinquish control to Cristal.

Mari: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Darrel's task is made more difficult by the fact that he doesn't have much control of his fields to relinquish, just now.

Cristal holds Darrel's arms gently but firmly and tries to impose ~~ relaxation ~~ on the channel's field.

Cristal: [Simelan] Relax, Darrel, Relinquish to me.

Darrel's locked muscles gradually relax, at least enough to let him start shaking.

Cristal maintains a ~~ strong steady ~~ field for Darrel to rest on and begins to work on some of the knotted flows.

Mari, having moved before she had resumed breathing normally, is now getting a ~~ fierce dizzy headache ~~ from oxygen deprivation. She realizes her headache isn't doing the channel any good and stumbles across the room to the door.

Darrel vaguely realizes that his client is leaving.

Darrel: Mari, are you all right?

Mari: I'll be outside.

Mari slips out of the room, closing the door gently.

Darrel is glad he'll at least have the chance to make amends for his miscalculation, and is finally able to ~~ relax ~~ enough for Cristal's efforts to do some real good.

Cristal: Shidoni. That woman is dangerous.

Darrel: Yes. The sooner she's handed over to the experts, the better.

Cristal continues supporting Darrel and working on his shocked system.

Mari sits in the front reception room. She knows how to get rid of this kind of headache, but it will take some time. She takes slow deep breaths, trying to get back to her earlier state of relaxation. It's harder to do, while worrying about the poor channel.

Ghan walks into the reception area with a handful of booklets for the information table.

Mari is curled into a little ball on the sofa, but has begun breathing slowly and deeply once more. Her headache is slowly starting to fade.

Ghan: What's wrong, Mari?

Ghan thinks she looks like she's been crying.

Mari has taken herself back into the light trance she had earlier, so that this time she can come out of it slowly and properly. She can hear Ghan, sort of, but doesn't want to bring back her headache by trying to talk now.

Ghan begins to get rather ~~ alarmed ~~. Mari is awake, but not reacting to her. She wonders where Darrel has gotten to.

Ghan: What's the problem, Mari? Are you ill? Talk to me.

Mari twitches one finger feebly but makes no other response.

Ghan is a grad student in anthropology, not a medic.

Ghan: Just wait here, Mari. I'll find the channel for you and come right back.

Mari forces her head up and opens her eyes. The headache comes crashing back as she grabs at Ghan's sleeve.

Mari: No! Don't bother him.

Ghan: But you're ill. He won't mind helping you. That's his job.

Ghan isn't going to mention that Darrel has been hoping for more work. She wonders if Mari is afraid of him.

Mari: You don't understand. I hurt him. I hurt him so bad. Leave him alone. Let him help him.

Ghan: Here, let me get you a nice cup of tea.

Ghan doesn't think this makes much sense, but she's used to emotional teenagers, after working with all these new Simes. She crosses the room and fetches a cup of tea for Mari.

Mari is responding very slowly.

Mari: No. No tea.

Ghan: Here, it's good for you.

Ghan hands the cup to Mari.

Mari's hand is shaking too badly to hold the cup. It crashes to the floor.

Mari: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Ghan sighs at these histrionics.

Mari realizes she must get functional quickly if she isn't to make an even bigger mess of things than she already has.

Mari: Sugar. Need blood sugar. Honey?

Ghan: All right.

Ghan picks up the cup Mari dropped and puts it in the dirty dishes tub.

Mari uses the moment's reprieve to take a few deep breaths, trying to get enough oxygen back into her bloodstream to be able to function.

Ghan fills another cup and stirs a lot of honey into it. She fetches a sugar cookie too, and sits next to Mari.

Ghan: Here you go.

Mari: Thanks.

Mari lets Ghan hold the cup as she sips.

Mari: Have you got something for a headache?

Ghan: Let's have Hajene Darrel zlin you first, okay?

Mari: No! No, leave him alone. I've done enough damage already. Let Sosu Cristal help him. I nearly killed him.

Ghan thinks this is unlikely.

Mari's hand is steadier now. She finishes the cookie and the tea.

Mari: Thanks. I don't deserve your help, though. They told me. They all told me, whatever you do, don't grab for slilbliss. Whatever you do, don't push selyn at a channel. But it felt so good, I couldn't stop myself. (pauses) No. I didn't want to stop myself. And now I've hurt him, or maybe killed him. It's all my fault.

Ghan: I'm sure it's not as bad as it seems.

Mari: I might have killed him.

Darrel opens the door to the donation room and wobbles out.

Darrel: I'm alive, Mari.

Mari: Hajene! You're alive!

Cristal follows closely, continuing strong support. He really thinks Darrel should have stayed lying down.

Mari starts to go to the channel, then realizes she's still broadcasting a ~~ headache ~~ , and stands where she is.

Darrel: Cristal is very good at what he does. How are you feeling?

Mari: Are you all right?

Darrel: Just a headache. How about you?

Mari glances at Cristal.

Mari: Is he really all right?

Cristal: He's well enough. He'll feel better once he has some fosebine.

Cristal is not feeling very sympathetic toward Mari.

Mari: Hajene, I'm so sorry I did that to you. It was all my fault. Is there anything I can do to help now?

Darrel: Cristal is already doing what's necessary.

Darrel didn't get a response to his question, so he forces himself duoconscious to zlin Mari for injury.

Mari is trying very hard not to cry.

Darrel zlins her headache, as well as he can, past his own.

Darrel: It looks like you could use some fosebine, as well.

Mari: Anything you say, Hajene. I'm so sorry.

Darrel: It was my fault, for trying to do more than I ought to have. Soon enough, you'll be in Sime Territory, working with channels that you can't hurt accidentally.

Darrel has at times resented Firsts, but he's never lost his confidence that they can work miracles.

Mari: No. You did nothing wrong. I didn't have the self-control. I knew better, but didn't control myself. And you're the one that paid the price.

Mari does a double take as she realizes what Darrell has said.

Mari: You mean I'm still going to be allowed to try? After that?

Darrel: You haven't had a chance to learn how to control your nager properly. When you have, you'll be held accountable for your nager. Today, though, it was my job.

Mari: An adult is always accountable for their mistakes. You trusted me to be safe to take a donation from, and I couldn't even do that simple thing.

Darrel: Hardly simple.

Ghan: Shall I get some fosebine for the two of you, Hajene?

Darrel: Please do.

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