D'zoll: Hey, Bibi, this is great. With the stuff I ordered from in-Territory, this should keep me busy for a couple of hours. I'll see you later.
D'zoll takes Bibi's book on Gen-wrangling from Rialite Press, adds it to the pile already under his arm, and heads for his room.
Bibi hopes D'zoll doesn't get carried away with any of the more inappropriate, pre-Unity ideas in the book on Wild Gen management techniques.
Nattin shakes his head.
Bibi heads back to her office to work on the monthly report.
Nattin settles down on one of the comfortable sofas to read a new book on the history of Householding Imil.
Shorsh wanders in from the back garden, glad to be in a Sime Territory, even one this small.
Shorsh: Good evening, naztehr.
Nattin: Sosu Shorsh, it's good to see you again. I trust your channel didn't have too much difficulty with the train ride in from Gumgeeville?
Shorsh: It wasn't much of a problem. There were some nice comfy sacks of grain to sit on in the baggage car. He's getting used to wearing retainers for prolonged periods, too.
Shorsh shakes his head in reluctant admiration for D'zoll's dedication to his profession.
Nattin: I never approved of that particular section of the Unity Treaty. I don't see that it does much good, in the long run.
Shorsh: It's not as if a Sime couldn't rip them off and attack a Gen if strongly enough motivated, but they do seem to inspire confidence in Wild Gens.
Nattin: Perhaps. Bibi isn't able to leave the Sime Center very often, so I haven't been able to compare the responses of the same Gens, with and without retainers.
Hrandl ambrov Sat'htine is a young channel sent by Hiram to see how matters are progressing with the Gegg project. He pauses in the doorway to the common room. Having pinched a lateral in his new retainers on the train ride out, he's feeling none too charitable towards the devices.
Shorsh nods at Hrandl, projecting ~~ welcome ~~.
Hrandl: I keep telling myself it's worth it, naztehrhai. But sometimes I don't know.
Hrandl pours himself a cup of trin and joins the two Gens.
Hrandl: On a good day, it's just a part of being a channel out-T. On a day like today...
Hrandl lets his voice trail off, gesturing with one dorsal towards the red welt on his arm.
Hrandl: ... I wonder if my duty to Sat'htine really includes things like this.
Shorsh wonders why Hrandl's Tecton-assigned Donor hasn't done a better job on his channel's arm.
Nattin: I guess it depends on whether you prefer to live your life behind the frequently-assaulted closed gates of your House.
Hrandl is too young to remember the physical assaults of the pre-Unity days.
Hrandl: I do sometimes think we're not moving forward fast enough since Unity. But don't tell that to Sectuib; he's all for caution.
Hrandl winks at Shorsh.
Shorsh doesn't wink back. Since being assigned to D'zoll, he's even more for caution than previously.
Nattin: Caution is well advised. Our neighbors here may be Gens, but they're hardly harmless, if they get angry.
Hrandl: True. Some of the stories I hear from the new kids...
Hrandl: You'd think nothing had changed in the last forty years.
Nattin: Rather little has changed, this far into Gen Territory.
Hrandl: Then it's time we tried harder to change it. But then, that's what you and D'zoll are doing on the front lines, isn't it, Sosu?
Shorsh: Things seem to be changing remarkably fast in Gumgeeville, considering that the first time any of them had encountered a channel was last spring.
Hrandl nods, listening.
Shorsh: D'zoll and I even had a porstan in the local saloon.
Shorsh is embarrassed to mention D'zoll eating meat stew there as well.
Nattin: Henree let you into his saloon? He wouldn't allow Hajene Seruffin to go in, even to save his granddaughter's life.
Hrandl: ~~ amazement ~~ And I thought nothing was changing.
Shorsh makes a hand gesture.
Shorsh: Henree wasn't pleased about it, but the saloon was empty and D'zoll exercised his Farris charm to wheedle him into it.
Shorsh doesn't mention D'zoll wheedling Shorsh into the saloon in the first place.
Hrandl tries not to snicker at the idea of D'zoll's charm. He raises an eyebrow instead.
Nattin is a Householder from a non-Farris House, and is therefore less inclined to scoff at the idea of Farris charisma.
Hrandl grew up surrounded by Sat'htine's Farrises, and considers D'zoll one of the least charming of the bunch.
Shorsh: It worked out well enough. Nobody shot us, after all.
Shorsh doesn't mention the shotgun-toting drunken Gen commemorating shooting his own child.
Hrandl: That's something.
Hrandl's tone invites further comment.
Shorsh: One of the patrons invited us to come by and tell him whether his daughter had established yet.
Hrandl: And did you?
Shorsh: Yes. She had established. D'zoll zlinned her out in the yard. The man was grateful. This was his youngest child, so he no longer had to worry.
Hrandl: How did the neighbors take that?
Shorsh: I don't know about the neighbors. We haven't heard anything yet.
Nattin: Most of the natives are keeping their distance from you, then?
Shorsh: Overall, the village seems to be taking the whole thing pretty calmly. They're curious, of course, but not all that actively hostile. Or perhaps the hostile ones are staying away.
Hrandl: So how's the...
Hrandl pauses and glances cautiously at Nattin.
Hrandl: How's the main project going?
Shorsh: Well. I might even say surprisingly well. Progress has been faster than I expected.
Shorsh is, of course, a pessimist in this context.
Nattin: Mr. Gegg is a very determined man.
Shorsh: He is indeed.
Nattin might even say "stubborn as a professor whose pet theory is being challenged".
Hrandl: You're involved with the case, Naztehr Nattin?
Hrandl is trying to figure out how blunt he can afford to be in front of Nattin.
Nattin: My student Layna was doing research in Gumgeeville before her unfortunate accident forced her to return to Dar. Hajene D'zoll has been using me as a resource.
Shorsh is nonplussed to hear what happened to Layna referred to as an accident.
Hrandl: As a non-physician and therefore a relative outsider, Naztehr, how do you see the case?
Nattin: It will certainly earn Hajene D'zoll an important publication, if he is successful.
Shorsh: It's an unusual and challenging case.
Nattin: You say Hajene D'zoll has made good progress, however?
Shorsh: Yes, I would say so.
Hrandl gestures with one ventral, inviting Shorsh to amplify.
Shorsh is looking forward to witnessing D'zoll reporting to Hrandl, and doesn't want to spoil it.
Shorsh: Mr. Gegg is able to converse with D'zoll from a reasonable distance without panicking. He even managed to observe D'zoll take his retainers off and extend his handling tentacles.
Hrandl nods, inviting more.
Shorsh: This is substantial progress for a Simephobe in this short period of time.
Hrandl: Will it be possible to keep to the original... optimistic... schedule, then, do you think, Sosu?
Shorsh: It's possible, but I wouldn't want to commit myself. Or D'zoll.
Hrandl glances at Nattin.
Hrandl: Would you excuse us for just a couple of minutes, Naztehr?
Nattin raises an eyebrow, but stands.
Nattin: I'll make some tea.
Hrandl: Thank you, Naztehr.
Nattin heads for the kitchen.
Shorsh thinks it was rude to chase Nattin out of earshot. He and Hrandl could have gone out on the veranda. Shorsh has never had a high opinion of Hrandl and that isn't about to change.
Hrandl: Sosu, Sectuib sent me to get a real report. Not just the kind that can be put on paper. If you're going to dance around the real issues, I might as well have stayed back at Sat'htine.
Shorsh: Well, of course D'zoll can give you more details, channel to channel. I can't tell you what D'zoll zlinned, except by hearsay.
Hrandl: I'll be speaking to D'zoll too, of course. I'd like your side, too.
Shorsh: Things are going well. Surprisingly well. We haven't had to use drugs, except for offering Mr. Gegg a few sleeping pills.
Shorsh: People out-T are very suspicious of Simeland drugs, you know. They have the connotation of Pen drugs.
Hrandl: And the patient, especially?
Shorsh: No more than most, I'd think.
Hrandl decides to unbend a little.
Hrandl: Sosu, I know you think I'm probably a bit young for this job. But Sectuib didn't have anyone else to send, and he knows I've worked with D'zoll. Has he bitten off more than he can chew, or is this going to work?
Shorsh: It's working so far. I'm quite ~~ optimistic ~~.
Hrandl zlins Shorsh's sincerity.
Hrandl: Is there anything I should tell Sectuib from you, off the record?
Shorsh: Tell him I think we've misjudged D'zoll. He's not the neophyte we remember. He's matured.
Hrandl nods, listening. He's never thought of D'zoll as new, but will convey the message.
Shorsh hopes D'zoll will live up to that assessment.
Hrandl: Anything else?
Shorsh: No. I'll let D'zoll explain the nageric aspects to you.
Shorsh figures that if D'zoll tries to conceal or minimize the Genslam, he'll make sure that the truth comes out.
Hrandl zlins Shorsh closely, suspecting something still left unsaid. He waits a moment, to see if more is forthcoming.
Hrandl: Okay. Thank you, Sosu. (louder) Let me help you with that tea, Naztehr.
Hrandl gets up and joins Nattin in the kitchen, returning a moment later with the tea tray.
Nattin serves the tea.
Hrandl: So tell me, Naztehr. How has your research been going, and what are you learning? In layman's terms, that is?
Nattin: I'm not sure I know any layman's terms, but I'll try. I did get a report from my student Layna not long ago. She was working in Gumgeeville, if you recall. She said....
Nattin settles back to elaborate on Layna's observations in mind-numbing, academic detail.