D'zoll paces back and forth, back and forth, inside the barn like a, umm, caged Sime. His tentacles are itching with the humidity. He can't imagine why he sent his Donor away for a raincoat -- after all, wearing one isn't going to make his tentacles itch less -- possibly more.
D'zoll reminds himself who and what he is and tries to pull himself together and stop pacing. On days like this, he actually looks forward to being Shorsh's age, when he may actually have a measure of calm. At least he doesn't have to wear his retainers: no Gen could reasonably sneak up on him here, except perhaps Shorsh who doesn't care.
D'zoll zlins a pair of Gens coming from one direction, one Donor-class but not trained. He zlins two more Gens, both Wild, coming from the other direction.
D'zoll does a little computation with his Sime senses and figures that they'll arrive at about the same time, if none of them turn aside. He ducks into the mobile and carefully puts on his retainers.
D'zoll: [to himself] The more haste, the less speed.
D'zoll finishes strapping himself inside the retainers without so much as a nick. He's now fully prepared to meet whatever comes, but more uncomfortable than ever.
Bart walks up the Gegg laneway with his brother. It's raining, so they've got a break from hilling potatoes.
Bart is ~~ eager ~~ to meet another channel. He's somewhat awed by the idea that the channel is a Farris.
Vrian is a bit less enthusiastic to meet a strange Sime, but isn't about to admit his ~~ nervousness ~~ to his older brother.
Bart approaches the barn door and signals. He hopes it works.
D'zoll is startled to zlin a nageric signal out here in Genland, but he recovers quickly.
D'zoll: Come in, come in. What can I do for you?
Bart opens the door and enters slowly.
Bart: Uh, hello Hajene. I'm Bart Mullins.
Vrian follows Bart in, a little ~~ nervously ~~
D'zoll recognizes the name.
D'zoll: Ah yes, you're the pre-Donor. And who's your friend -- no, your brother?
Vrian has learned to accept Bibi, but he's not at all sure about a strange Sime.
Vrian: Um, yes. I'm Vrian Mullins.
D'zoll: So I thought. I can zlin the relation in your nageric characteristics.
Bart thinks that's extremely cool.
Bart: We just thought we'd come by and say hello. ~~ nageric attraction under some control ~~
D'zoll: Well, have a seat on one of those, umm, straw, er, blobs there. You know, those tied-up things.
D'zoll points to two hay bales.
Vrian: The hay bales?
D'zoll: I guess so.
Vrian can't imagine anyone not recognizing a hay bale.
D'zoll: What can I say? I'm a city boy.
D'zoll laughs softly.
Bart thought that Householdings were all farms, but maybe he's wrong.
Vrian sits on a hay bale, a cautious distance from D'zoll.
D'zoll: That's the spirit, Vrian.
Vrian looks at D'zoll, and decides he looks a bit more impressive, and thus more intimidating, than Bibi.
Bart thinks he looks like a relative of Klyd Farris, judging by the pictures he's seen.
D'zoll: But I'm forgetting my manners. I'm Hajene D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine. But call me D'zoll.
Vrian: Pleased to meet you, Mr. D'zoll.
D'zoll doesn't want to be more intimidating than he has to be.
Vrian is temptingly close to the time of his next donation, after all. He's planning to go donate at Hannard's Ford, of course, four days from now.
D'zoll zlins ~~ GN-3 repletion ~~ mixed with ~~ denial ~~
Bart: [Simelan] Honored to meet you, Hajene.
Bart hopes he pronounced that right.
D'zoll: [Simelan] Hey, that's pretty good for an out-T barbarian.
D'zoll: [to Vrian] Your brother's Simelan accent is better than my English, I think.
Vrian thinks it's just like Bart to show off his new linguistic skills.
D'zoll: Although I probably know more big words than he does.
Vrian smiles, although it's still a bit forced.
Vrian: That wouldn't take much.
Bart: Um, isn't your Donor here?
D'zoll: No, he's gone to town to get me a raincoat. Can you believe it? I packed everything including the kitchen sink ...
D'zoll waves his arm toward the mobile unit.
D'zoll: ... and forgot my raincoat.
Bart notes the Sime Territory sign on the mobile unit's door.
D'zoll tracks Bart's attention on the sign.
D'zoll: Yeah, well, I can't wear these things night and day, can I?
Vrian finds the news that there isn't a real Donor around vaguely ~~ alarming ~~, although the retainers D'zoll's wearing are a mitigating factor.
Bart: I thought you might want to go in there and take them off. We could talk through the door?
Bart wants to be invited to help him with the retainers, and to interact with him nagerically. He isn't fully conscious of it, though.
D'zoll: I think that might suit you, but I don't think it'd suit your brother one bit, do you?
Bart looks at Vrian. How can he still be spooked when he's donated so many times?
D'zoll: Don't forget, I'm a stranger. Vrian, you might start to feel more comfortable around me when you've seen me a few times, eh?
Vrian flushes with ~~ embarrassment ~~ at being caught out being chicken.
Vrian: Well, yeah. I guess.
D'zoll: Nothing surprising about that.
Vrian thinks there's nothing courageous about it, either.
Bart would like to suggest Vrian go off and find Sanda or something, but he has more sense.
D'zoll: Lots of people feel funny around strangers, Sime or not.
Vrian has managed to fool some of the other boys his age into thinking he's brave because he donates, but he's aware that he'll never fool a Sime.
Vrian: We don't get many strangers in Gumgeeville.
D'zoll: There you go.
Bart wants to ask D'zoll whether he'd be willing to help him learn more Donoring while he's in town, but is a bit shy about coming right out and asking. Thinking about it makes his nager reach out tentatively, offering to engage with D'zoll's.
D'zoll engages very lightly with Bart's nager for a short time, then carefully disengages him.
Vrian watches his brother mooning over the Sime, and wonders what the attraction is.
Bart is ~~ thrilled ~~ at the interaction.
D'zoll: [Simelan] You still need to wait for your training, Bart.
Bart: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that. ~~ embarrassed ~~
D'zoll: No problem.
D'zoll changes the subject.
D'zoll: Did you see anybody going up to the farmhouse when you were coming here?
Vrian: No. Was it Mr. Gegg?
D'zoll: Definitely not. Two guys coming back from a trip, by the zlin of them.
Bart wonders if he should offer to warn them off.
Corr stood on the porch for quite a while waiting before heading for the barn. He's cold, wet and hungry and his boots are caked with mud up to the ankles.
Corr is an itinerant farm worker... sometimes referred to as a tramp by the less than kind. He can put in a good day's work when he is sober. But money in hand means a bottle in fist. Unfortunately, he's not only sober now but lost and completely broke.
Doron, on the other hand, is usually sober... at least technically. Who needs booze when one's own mind can hallucinate without any help? He's able to work, more or less. If someone like Corr helps keep him doing what he's supposed to, he can work quite well. Corr takes care of his money for him, too, since Doron keeps forgetting that money's important.
Corr: I dunno why there's no one ta home, Dorry.
Doron: Maybe they went to shovel snow?
Corr: Nice farm like this.
Doron: Real nice.
Corr: Not in the house or in the fields. Let's try the barn.
Corr really very badly wants some food and a spot of dry.
Doron nods at the pretty blue and orange sparrow and watches the snow melt into crisp autumn leaves. He watches the leaves begin to turn back into green grass blades.
Corr trudges wearily through the muddy field.
Doron wanders after him, enjoying the spring flowers.
Corr doesn't bother checking to see if Doron is following... the guy is like a puppy.
Doron smells the delightful odor of mint tea wafting from the barn ahead, and hurries to follow Corr towards the pleasant scent. He sniffs again, and realizes the scent isn't mint, but stale garlic. His footsteps lag.
Corr approaches the barn door.
Corr: [shouts] Anyone there?
Vrian looks at D'zoll.
Vrian: Were you expecting anyone, Mr. D'zoll?
Doron catches up with Corr, and reaches down to pet a purple tabby barn cat. The cat, as it happens, is really there, though it isn't really purple.
Corr stares at a cat who looks about as miserably muddy as himself.
Corr would expect a farmer to be at home for harvest... but if the place is empty he will certainly borrow some hayloft space to crash.
D'zoll: No, nobody. They zlin healthy enough.
D'zoll is forgetting that he's not thought of as a doctor here -- yet.
Corr: [shouts] Just looking to trade some work fer some chow! Can ye use two strong backs?
Doron watches the cat turn into a balloon and float away on the breeze. He smiles.
Bart is getting a little ~~ worried ~~ that these guys will cause some trouble for the Sime.
D'zoll: I'm not the farmer, but come in out of the rain, at least.
D'zoll gets a grip on their fields and calms them down a bit.
D'zoll: The door's unlocked.
Corr: Come on, Dorry.
Corr yanks on his friend's sleeve to dislodge his attention from the cat.
Bart unconsciously moves closer to D'zoll, wanting to ~~ protect ~~ him.
Corr pushes open the door, peering into the dim interior.
Doron nods, humming to himself, and follows Corr into the barn.
Corr sees several silhouettes within.
Corr: Hey, me name's Corr McTavish, and this here's Dorry.
D'zoll: My name's D'zoll, and these men are Bart and Vrian.
Vrian sits a little straighter at being called a man.
Corr segues into his spiel.
Corr: Ye got two good hands here.
Doron smiles and nods, then reaches up to let an invisible butterfly land on his fingers.
D'zoll: Well, I see what you both need is to rest and dry up.
Corr's eyes begin to adjust to the light, and he can see that while the two young men look pretty normal, there's something odd about D'zoll.
D'zoll: It's pretty comfortable up there, I think.
D'zoll points to the loft.
Corr: Thank you, Sir! Yer a gentleman.
Corr squints. The cut of the clothes is like nothing he has ever seen before. He thinks that the cut is particularly odd at the sleeves.
Bart is ~~ dubious ~~ that Gegg is going to be happy to find a couple of tramps camping out in his barn.
Vrian is watching the tramps carefully, to make sure that they don't try to make off with any of the chickens, tools, and other portable objects.
Bart should realize, however, that Gegg would probably be happier with tramps than a Sime in his barn.
Doron begins stroking the butterfly with his free hand.
D'zoll: Dorry, what's that in your hand?
Doron: Butterfly. Isn't it pretty?
Corr thinks the guy is wearing some odd kind of heavy metal armband.
D'zoll: [softly] It sure is, Dorry.
Bart realizes with ~~ alarm ~~ that Dorry is crazy.
Corr figures this D'zoll must be from some city where they care about clothes.
Corr: Come on Dorry.
Corr doesn't want Dorry to scare away the shelter.
D'zoll signals Bart "relax", and hope he understands.
Bart picks up the signal, and complies. He doesn't have any experience with the insane, but figures D'zoll must.
D'zoll: Mr. McTavish, I think your friend here needs a little help.
Doron: Do you see the sine wave pattern on the butterfly's back?
D'zoll is startled by this.
Corr: Dorry, over here. I'll take off your shoes.
D'zoll: No, Dorry, I don't see it. Sit down here and let's talk about it, okay?
Bart wonders if D'zoll is planning to do some channeling, and without his Donor. This sounds pretty risky, under the circumstances. What will he do if both men panic? They don't seem to realize that D'zoll is Sime.
Corr grabs the butterfly hand and yanks his friend in the direction of the loft.
Doron looks from Corr to D'zoll.
Doron: Can't sit unless he lets me.
Corr: He don't make much sense when he's all tired out, Mister Dezoll.
Vrian is very ~~ uncomfortable ~~ at being in the same barn with a crazy tramp.
D'zoll: Mr. McTavish, I don't think he makes much sense even when he isn't. Does he.
Doron: I'm not tired. Used to teach five classes a day and not get tired.
D'zoll: If you tell him it's okay to sit down, I'll see what I can do.
D'zoll: [softly] What did you teach, Dorry? Mathematics?
Corr rocks uncomfortably on his muddy boots.
Corr: Ain't nothing you can do. He don't hurt nothing.
D'zoll: I can try, though. I won't hurt him.
Doron: Yeah. First year through doctoral level. Then the potato trucks came.
D'zoll: Tell me about the potato trucks.
Corr: You some kind of doctor?
Bart watches intently. Can channels cure crazy people?
Doron: Pretty. Orange and yellow and blue. But they sent me away then.
D'zoll: Yes. And if I can get some help with Dorry here, I can probably fix your hangover too, if you want.
D'zoll: Bart, could you get my bag from in there?
D'zoll points to the mobile unit.
D'zoll: It's bright orange.
Bart: Uh, okay, Hajene.
Corr thinks D'zoll doesn't look like any doctor he's ever seen.
Doron: Orange is a good color.
D'zoll: It's easy to see, isn't it, Dorry?
Corr: Really he'd be better for some food and warm feet, Doc.
D'zoll: Good idea.
Bart goes into the mobile unit, finds the bag immediately, returns and hands it to D'zoll.
D'zoll: Bart, bring the bottle and some of those boxes from under the sink.
Doron stares at the bag.
D'zoll: Just a medicine bag. See?
D'zoll opens the bag.
Doron: Never saw a blue pumpkin before.
Corr pushes Dorry over near a convenient bale of hay and sits him down.
Bart fetches what D'zoll requested. He remains right next to the channel, hoping he can be of help.
Doron watches a flock of silver sparkles fly up out of the bag.
D'zoll: [distracted] Thank you, Sosu.
Bart is ~~ startled ~~ and ~~ pleased ~~ at being called Sosu.
D'zoll roots through the bag for a small bottle with a dropper in it.
Doron: So sue me. That's the results I got and I'm publishing them like that.
D'zoll: Of course, Dorry.
D'zoll hands the bottle to Corr.
Corr starts to remove Dorry's boots... which takes some elbow grease.
D'zoll: Here, give yourself three drops of that. No more, mind you!
Vrian watches, hoping the crazy man is as harmless as advertised.
Bart gives the signal that asks if support is wanted. ~~ hopeful ~~
D'zoll signals for "light support only". He reminds himself that Bart is not trained.
Corr pulls one boot off with a sucking sound and an explosion of stench.
D'zoll points to a bucket.
D'zoll: Vrian, could you go fill that bucket with rainwater? It shouldn't take long.
Bart cautiously allows his nager to engage with the channel's. ~~ careful ~~
D'zoll is aware of Bart's support, but of course it doesn't have much effect on his Farris nager.
Vrian: Uh, sure.
Vrian gets up, grabs a bucket, and goes to the barn door in search of a good downspout.
Corr stares at D'zoll's arm as he makes the gesture. That's not an armband. It's... something... else...
D'zoll: Go ahead and take the three drops, Mr. McTavish. It's hard for me to think through your headache.
Corr stares at the retainer.
D'zoll turns his attention on Corr.
Corr: What --- the ---
D'zoll: Yes, I'm a Sime. But I am a doctor. And with these on, I couldn't possibly hurt you.
Bart prepares to fling himself in front of D'zoll.
D'zoll: [command voice] Hold still, Bart!
Corr is back against the wall and in a fighting stance. He has developed some fast reflexes on the road.
Doron watches his own toes wiggle like a row of tulips.
D'zoll visibly relaxes.
Corr remembers tangles with berserkers in dark and hidden places down the years. Places like barns...
D'zoll: I'm not a berserker, so there's no reason to fear me. In any case, I'm trying to help Dorry here.
Corr stares at D'zoll. Well the voice sounds pretty sane for a Sime.
D'zoll visibly ignores Corr (while still zlinning him) and begins to work on Doron's other boot.
D'zoll: Vrian, do you think you could stand to wash Dorry's feet? I know they're pretty, umm, gross.
Corr has never seen a Sime in fancy city clothes and talking like a gentleman before.
D'zoll: But Corr here is right; he needs warm dry feet.
D'zoll neatly scoops up the abandoned bottle and returns it to his bag.
Corr likes Dorry, but he is just as happy that the Sime's attention is focused there and not on himself.
Vrian looks at Doron with ~~ distaste ~~, but he's been raised to be respectful to adults, and at least D'zoll isn't currently interested in him.
Vrian: I guess so.
Vrian brings his bucket of water over, and settles down as far away from D'zoll as he can conveniently manage.
Corr makes a furtive movement towards the knife in the pocket of his coat.
D'zoll: [warningly] I'm watching you, Mr. McTavish. I wouldn't advise it.
Corr feels safer touching the weapon but taking on a Sime with nothing but a shiv is not something he would place a wager on.
D'zoll: That's better. Hold onto the knife in your pocket; it makes you feel safer.
Corr has heard that the snakes can read minds... here is proof of it.
D'zoll: No, I can't read your mind, but your emotions are obvious as all get-out, just like the knife is.
Bart is doing his best to keep his nager ~~ calm and supportive ~~ but he's just a kid from an isolated village, and it all looks increasingly scary to him. D'zoll seems to be managing, but...
D'zoll turns his attention to Bart.
Corr: You leave Dorry alone.
D'zoll: I won't do anything but talk to him, I promise. And dry his feet.
Doron nods in time with a drumbeat only he can hear.
Vrian ~~ tenses ~~ during this exchange, but obediently starts washing the mud off Doron's feet with a bit of stray burlap from a feed sack.
D'zoll finds a rag somewhere and starts to work on Dorry's left foot now that Vrian is done with it.
Corr thinks well if someone gets burned, there are three potential victims here and he is the only one armed from the looks of it.
Doron: Ow! That soup is too hot!
Doron pulls back his foot.
Doron: Got to blow on it to cool it some.
D'zoll: Oh, I'm sorry, Dorry.
D'zoll blows on Dorry's foot.
Doron: That's better.
Corr wonders if the Sime is as crazy as the man he's talking to.
D'zoll begins to massage Doron's foot gently, just to see what happens.
D'zoll: I see you're confused about something, but I'm not sure what, Mr. McTavish. Are you still worrying about my intentions, or is it that you think I'm a bit nuts too?
Corr: You said you were just gonna talk to him.
Doron relaxes some more, and starts purring loudly.
Vrian is starting to get more and more ~~ freaked ~~ by the close exposure to nutcase and Sime.
Corr: Quit feeling him up.
D'zoll: He seems to be happy about it. Listen to him. He sounds like a cat, doesn't he?
Corr: Well he's crazy. That's why he needs me to watch out fer 'im
D'zoll: [sympathetically] I understand. You've been good to him when he needed it most.
D'zoll: Thank you, Vrian. You can go sit down over there now, where you'll be more comfortable.
Vrian's face turns red with embarrassment at this assessment, but doesn't let that keep him from making his escape.
D'zoll dries Dorry's other foot and works out some of the tensions in it, too.
Doron continues purring.
Corr stares at the two Gens. They look normal, but why are they taking orders from a Sime?
D'zoll: Okay, your turn, Corr. Want to get some food into him and get him to sleep?
D'zoll steps away from his patient.
Corr: Sure, if you back away.
D'zoll backs away further.
Bart follows closely, not just because of his Donor's attachment to the channel, but because he's afraid that Corr might decide to use his knife.
D'zoll: That food doesn't taste great, but it'll help keep him healthy.
Corr has concluded that whatever is going on with this Sime, it's not in Need. He wonders if the whole bunch are in some kind of Gen smuggling ring... although that sort of thing is supposed to no longer happen there are always rumors.
Doron: Mmmmm. Strawberry ice cream. I love strawberry ice cream.
D'zoll: Don't be so suspicious, Mr. McTavish. We're in this together -- helping Dorry.
Corr lowers his rucksack to the ground and removes a dry shirt.
Corr: Come on Dorry. Let's get that wet stuff off o' ye.
Corr pulls Dorry gently back away from the Sime and closer to the hayloft.
Doron follows meekly.
Doron: Just a couple of bites of ice cream, Corr, please?
Corr gently removes the wet clothes and drapes him in the dry shirt.
Corr: Yeah, ice cream.
D'zoll: Thank you for your help, Vrian, Bart. I zlin Gegg and Shorsh at extreme range, so perhaps you'd best be on your way.
Vrian: Yeah. I think Mr. Gegg might be a little upset about... things.
D'zoll: Leave Mr. Gegg to me -- and my Companion.
Vrian looks at the pair of tramps in Gegg's neat barn.
Bart is ~~ worried ~~ about leaving D'zoll alone with a madman and a hostile guy with a knife. Not that Bart could do much if either got violent.
Corr keeps one hand on the knife as he edges forward to snag the food that D'zoll has provided.
D'zoll: Don't worry, Bart. Mr. McTavish here knows what's what.
D'zoll: [Simelan] Think of it as practice in Wild Gen wrangling -- for me.
Bart: You go ahead, Vrian. I'll catch up.
Corr: Here, Dorry. Here's some ice cream.
D'zoll: [Simelan] These Gens are no threat.
Corr breaks off some pieces of the food and hands them to Doron.
Vrian leaves the barn with considerable ~~ relief ~~
Bart: [Simelan] I can wait for your Companion to get here.
Corr wonders if it is Pen Gen type food and drugged like in the stories.
D'zoll: Better if you don't, I think.
Doron takes a bite of the dry tasteless biscuits.
Doron: Mmmm. Strawberry. Good.
D'zoll doesn't want his authority undermined when Shorsh gives him his plumbing job.
Corr figures drugs can't addle Dorry any worse, but he is afraid to try it himself. He resigns himself to keeping watch on an empty stomach.
Doron: Long day.
D'zoll: [command voice] Sosu. I relieve you. Go home.
Bart Uh, okay. ~~ embarrassed and trying to keep it out of his field ~~
Bart follows Vrian.
D'zoll: Dorry will be asleep in a minute or two, Corr. Sure you don't want some food yourself?
Corr: No way.
Corr stares at the dry biscuit.
Corr: I'll pass on the strawberry ice cream for now.
Doron: It's good, Corr. Kinda purple and soft.
D'zoll: It's up to you, Mr. McTavish. Now I'm going in there and shut the door.
D'zoll points to the mobile.
Corr stares at the peculiar structure.
Corr: Well, good.
D'zoll: Mr. Gegg, who owns this farm, and Mr. Shorsh, my partner, will be along any minute now. You can let them know I told you it was okay to stay for a while.
Corr wonders just what they are partners in with this peculiar Sime.
D'zoll goes into the mobile and ostentatiously locks the door from inside.
Corr doesn't like the situation but with Dorry asleep and himself exhausted he will have to take the risk of staying put.
D'zoll is still drenched with sweat, his tentacles still itch, and he's got a couple of Wild Gens in Gegg's barn, one of whom doesn't trust him for shen, and the other can't tell, well, hay from straw.
Doron curls up in a mound of hay, snoring lightly.
D'zoll nevertheless feels better -- at least he's been able to help them somewhat.
Corr sits heavily and extracts his own feet from muddy boots. He strips off his sopping clothes and hangs them on a beam to dry.
Doron smiles in his sleep, watching eigenvectors float in space before him. They're purple and green and dance beautifully.
Corr lowers himself onto a bale of itchy straw. It's warmer than the clothes are. Naked save for a knife in one hand, he struggles to keep watch over the dreaming Dorry.
D'zoll waits for the return of Shorsh and Gegg.
Doron smiles in his sleep and nods.