Shorsh examines D'zoll critically after yet another entran outfunction.
Shorsh: All these outfunctions just aren't doing it, are they? Maybe we should take a few days at the Ford again next week.
D'zoll: [annoyed, but trying to restrain himself] We don't have a few days. Sectuib will be here all too soon, and what have we got to show for it yet? If he'd had his way, he'd be pulling into town right about now. We have got to get Gegg's field down, if it can be done without setting him back too fleckin far.
Shorsh adds a blatantly heavy-handed ~~ soothing ~~ component to his support.
Shorsh: We've accomplished quite a bit, I'd say. If Sectuib expects a complete cure in a few weeks, he's dreaming.
D'zoll: Well, no, I don't mean that exactly. But if we can just get him in condition to come in-T, things would be so much more straightforward. And of course Sectuib has to bless that.
Shorsh is glad that D'zoll seems to have gotten over his assumption that sedatives are the answer.
Shorsh: Do you think he's ready to see us in a transfer contact, from fairly close up?
D'zoll: It's certainly worth a try, now that he's seen me doing things with tentacles and managed to hold himself steady.
D'zoll: Do we tell him what we're going to do, or just do it?
Shorsh: Better warn him. If you just grab me, I'll have to tire myself out treating you for Genslam again.
Shorsh twinkles back.
Gegg makes his way towards the barn, after a hard day of hoeing. He's ~~ tired ~~, and not only from the physical labor.
Gegg is feeling the effects of spending much of the past three weeks being scared silly while trying to deny it, anticipating being scared silly while trying to deny it, and recovering from being scared silly while trying to deny it. He doesn't feel like he's improving much, either in the getting scared aspect or the denial aspect.
Shorsh: On the other hand, you could try just grabbing him. If he doesn't have a heart attack, it might be an instant cure.
Shorsh ~~ isn't really serious ~~ but he is getting awfully tired of living next to a pig sty. Even if Petunia's piglets are cute. Though doomed.
D'zoll: I don't believe in instant cures. Only instant failures.
Shorsh: Do me a favor and go hypoconscious if you think you might trigger a Genslam, okay?
D'zoll: I'll do my best, but it's a little hard to monitor him closely for signs of incipient slam and then relevel myself before he can actually deliver.
Shorsh makes a gesture of concession, and reminds himself not to be so impatient. The weather is getting cold at night and he feels it in his joints. He'd like to get back to civilization.
Gegg can't muster much enthusiasm for the upcoming session, but he's working hard on ~~ resignation ~~, even if it tends to slip into ~~ nervous anticipation ~~ without warning. He takes a deep breath, ~~ nerving ~~ himself, then squares his shoulders and opens the barn door.
Gegg: Good afternoon.
Shorsh: Welcome, Mr. Gegg.
D'zoll: Come in, come in!
Gegg enters the barn, glad that D'zoll is safely in the mobile, which is all the way over in the middle of the barn.
D'zoll: Well, I see you're feeling somewhat better about these sessions. Time for something new today!
Gegg: Er, good.
Gegg's voice is less than completely certain.
D'zoll: Just to review, we've been having you observe me doing various things with my handling tentacles for the last few days.
Gegg nods, remembering how sinister such innocuous activities as making tea looked, when accomplished by tentacles. He moves closer to the mobile, impelled by his innate courtesy closer towards what Gens consider normal social distance, although that has discomforts of its own.
D'zoll: Today we're going to have you observe transfer positions modeled by the two of us. Do you think you can handle that? I know you're rather tired, but that should also lower your overall anxiety level.
Gegg considers D'zoll's suggestion.
Gegg: The last time I saw... that, it was my buddy Len. And an ulcerated scarecrow that at least was too hungry to play with his food. Much.
Gegg's nager echoes the remembered ~~ horror ~~ of it. He isn't sure he could take seeing Shorsh subjected to something like that.
D'zoll signals Shorsh for an incremental increase in support.
Shorsh provides it, while looking at Gegg sympathetically.
Gegg is willing to admit, however, that Shorsh and D'zoll have managed to get him doing a lot of things he wasn't sure he could take. Some of them he still isn't sure of.
D'zoll: I've never observed a kill, but from what I understand, transfer doesn't have the same emotions surrounding it at all. I'd encourage you to watch Sosu's face and body language rather than looking directly at me or my tentacles.
Gegg's eyes, which had been pinned to D'zoll as the more serious threat, flicker towards Shorsh.
Shorsh looks calm, comfortable and sympathetic.
D'zoll zlins the shift in Gegg's attention and takes Shorsh's hands in his.
Shorsh smiles at D'zoll.
Gegg's ~~ apprehension ~~ rises, but there's a hint of ~~ curiosity ~~ underneath. Even if it is a bit morbid around the edges. He has been wondering, off and on, ever since Jed described his experimental donation to Seruffin, whether channels really could make taking selyn seem harmless.
D'zoll moves his hands up on Shorsh's arms and then, with exaggerated slowness, extends his handling tentacles and wraps them around Shorsh's forearms.
Shorsh gently clasps D'zoll's forearms.
D'zoll: [lecturing] Now as you can see, I'm now holding Sosu's arms steady with both hands and handling tentacles, so that when I extend my laterals he won't move accidentally and injure them.
Gegg stiffens, fighting competing impulses to run, to stare, and to rescue Shorsh.
D'zoll: This is the point at which Simes are most vulnerable. A motivated and knowledgeable Gen can injure or kill any Sime at this point, in fact.
Shorsh turns and smiles at Gegg.
Shorsh: It's okay. I know he won't hurt me. And he knows I won't hurt him.
D'zoll: I was just about to say that.
Shorsh: More believable from me, perhaps.
D'zoll laughs outright.
Gegg is unable to see the joke, much as he could use a laugh.
D'zoll: After all, even though you know Simes don't tell lies very easily, I know the notion of Gens hurting Simes is pretty alien to your people's way of thinking.
Gegg: My squad sure didn't seem to do very well at it, once their guns were taken away.
D'zoll: Nobody trained them to do it; anyhow, nobody out-Territory knows the techniques.
Gegg: You'd think that after hundreds of years, someone in the Army would have figured it out.
Gegg isn't surprised, however: any trust he had in military competence didn't survive basic training. He takes a cautious step forward for a closer look at D'zoll and Shorsh's entwined arms.
Shorsh finds this encouraging.
D'zoll: Until a few decades ago, the knowledge wasn't widespread even in Simeland.
Gegg: I expect a lot of Simes weren't eager for it to be known?
D'zoll: You expect correctly. Okay, I'm extending my lateral tentacles onto Shorsh's forearm skin now.
D'zoll does so.
Shorsh stays calm and steady.
Gegg does not stay calm and steady, although he does hold his ground after one backwards step.
D'zoll: Okay, we're just going to hold this position for a while so you can get used to it, Gegg.
Gegg had a sinking suspicion that D'zoll would do something of the sort.
Shorsh: You've come a long way. I'm sure you wouldn't have been able to stay calm like this a few weeks ago.
Gegg is feeling a lot of things, but he's pretty sure that calm isn't one of them.
D'zoll: [quietly] Shall we do another outfunction while we're at it?
Shorsh: If you like.
Shorsh is a little ~~ concerned ~~ that D'zoll feels he needs one, but doesn't let it show on his face. He adjusts his field suitably.
Gegg is very, very tired of being afraid of Simes.
D'zoll starts the rhythm of an outfunction: selyn drains from his secondary into his primary across Shorsh's resistance, then back the other way, four or five times. He completes the outfunction but maintains the transfer grip.
Gegg wants his fear to stop, and the only way he knows to do that is to deny that he's afraid. He therefore forces himself to take a second step closer to D'zoll and Shorsh, and then a third.
Gegg is now standing in the doorway of the mobile, close enough to be within "easy grabbing distance". His nager is, alas, less inclined to play the denial game than his body, and it's now more than close enough to respond to D'zoll's nearness.
Shorsh increases his protective support, and signals D'zoll to lean on his nager more heavily, just in case.
D'zoll: Okay. Now we'll demonstrate the lip contact, but no selyn will flow, so your body won't experience any shift in the fields.
Shorsh leans forward to meet D'zoll.
D'zoll makes lip contact and does a deep reading while he's at it; Shorsh is healthy as a horse for his age.
Gegg again fights the conflicting urges to tear the two apart in hopes of saving Shorsh, or run before D'zoll can drop Shorsh and grab Gegg instead. His conflict-resolution efforts aren't helped by the knowledge that neither course of action is appropriate.
Gegg clenches his fists, letting the small pain from his fingernails digging into his palms distract him enough to maintain some semblance of self-control
D'zoll: Mr. Gegg! Please don't induce pain in yourself like that. It's a very bad idea around Simes other than me.
Gegg jumps at D'zoll's sharp tone, and his fists spring open.
D'zoll: If you need a distractor, wiggle your fingers.
Gegg: Wiggle my fingers?
Gegg is finding this request ~~ confusing ~~. Fortunately he's less afraid when he's confused.
D'zoll: Sure. It'll take your mind off other things. Hold them up in front of your face and watch them wiggle.
Gegg tries it, but the wiggling fingers remind him of wiggling tentacles. He feels a little dizzy, and gropes towards the nearest place to sit, which happens to be a stool actually inside the mobile unit.
D'zoll: Hmm. Glad to see you here, Mr. Gegg. I think it's time to dismantle, Sosu.
D'zoll retracts his laterals and begins to dismantle his grip.
Shorsh holds still until D'zoll finishes, then stretches. He wonders whether the channel's laterals were getting dried out.
D'zoll: Aaah. It's good to change position now and again.
Gegg is ~~ relieved ~~ that he's no longer being confronted with his insoluble dilemma.
D'zoll turns v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y towards Gegg, holding his tentacles still but not retracting them.
Shorsh watches and maintains his ~~ strong support ~~.
Gegg's eyes widen as D'zoll's Gen-perceptible attention turns from Shorsh to him, but doesn't bolt.
D'zoll takes a short step back, pauses, and then takes a slightly longer step forward.
Gegg's heartrate spikes.
D'zoll takes two steps back.
Gegg's heart slows; he's running out of adrenaline, not to mention tired from a hard day's physical labor.
D'zoll takes two steps forward again.
Did you ever see a Donor
A channel, a renSime
Did you ever see a donor
Go this way and that.
Gegg tenses, trying to make sense of D'zoll's actions, but his level of distress is less than before.
D'zoll: You see, Gegg, as I step closer to you [does so], you feel stressed, but then I step away and you feel better [does so], and then I step closer again [does so] and you continue to feel better.
Gegg leans back, pressing against the wall of the mobile, but stays seated.
Gegg: I'm just so tired of feeling like this.
D'zoll: [comfortingly] Sure you are. [persuasively] Relax and let the process happen.
D'zoll Sime-gracefully sinks down to a lotus position, closer to Gegg than ever, and then holds himself very still.
Gegg is sweating, although it isn't all that hot in the mobile. He's at least glad that D'zoll isn't dancing closer any more, although he's too close for comfort. He tries a relaxation exercise that Shorsh tried to teach him, with indifferent success.
D'zoll strives to get a lock on Gegg's field without touching him, also with indifferent success.
Gegg thinks he's far too old for this sort of thing.
D'zoll: Now comes the hardest challenge yet. If you're not up to it today, I understand; we can wait till tomorrow. I need you to, literally, lay a finger on me. I'll continue to hold perfectly still.
Gegg has gradually come to understand D'zoll-speak. He translates this "suggestion" as "sooner or later, you're going to have to do it, because I'm going to keep working on you until you do."
D'zoll secretly admires his mastery of the nuances of the English word "need".
Gegg finds the latest demand more unsettling than the previous ones, and debates whether to chicken out and put it off until tomorrow. He's forced to conclude that it probably won't get any easier if he delays, and he'd probably have nightmares even with a sleeping pill, if he has to think about it all night.
D'zoll is zlinning Gegg for all he's worth to make sure there's no Genslam imminent.
Gegg's right hand twitches twice, and slowly extends towards D'zoll.
Shorsh is poised to snatch D'zoll away if he gets slammed.
Gegg's hand shakes, and therefore it's actually not one, but two fingers that brush lightly against D'zoll's cheek.
D'zoll: [softly] Excellent. Well done, Gegg.
Shorsh isn't ready to relax yet and continues to watch intently.
D'zoll takes advantage of the momentary contact to seize control of Gegg's fields. He does it as smoothly as he did the funky chicken before.
Gegg feels something change, but has no words to describe it.
D'zoll: Hold still, Gegg. You're doing everything perfectly.
D'zoll smoothes Gegg's suppressed but underlyingly turbulent emotions with all his Farris strength and skill. He realizes that unfortunately that's not enough for this particular Gen.
Gegg feels the odd sensation increase, sort of like the "pull" he's felt before around Simes, but somehow different. He tries to brace himself against it, but can't, because it's somehow already past his defenses.
D'zoll: Easy, Gegg, easy. Do your relaxation exercise.
D'zoll tries again to calm Gegg nagerically.
Gegg makes a strangled noise as he fights to relax, which is not necessarily the best way to go about it.
Gegg: What are you doing?
Gegg is going on the assumption that D'zoll is responsible for the strange feelings, as the alternative is that he's going batty bonkers.
D'zoll: I'm helping you to do what you in fact want to do -- stay calm.
Gegg essays a smile, which comes out as a grimace.
Shorsh is alarmed that D'zoll is allowing the Gen to engage nagerically with him, but doesn't let it into his nager.
D'zoll: Your field is interacting with mine, and you're able to draw on my strength. All you have to do is -- reach out for it.
D'zoll adjusts his own nager to fluctuate in rhythm with Gegg's.
Gegg thinks this sounds like the sort of weird Sime magic hinted at in some of those cheap pamphlets they pass out at revival meetings.
D'zoll is no longer consciously exerting control, but is dancing nager-to-nager with Gegg's field.
Gegg is, however, becoming increasingly ~~ desperate ~~ to find some way to live with what's happening with him. He hasn't the faintest idea how to go about reaching out to D'zoll, but while he's dithering, his nager follows its own inclination and grabs at D'zoll's.
D'zoll's personal selyn supply is of course entirely unaffected behind his highly responsive showfield.
Gegg's nager doesn't know a showfield from a deproda, and latches on to what's available.
D'zoll: Excellent work, Gegg.
D'zoll extends one finger s-l-o-w-l-y to touch Gegg, closely monitoring his emotional response.
Shorsh would be extremely nervous if he didn't have such excellent nageric control.
Gegg's control is so far from "excellent" that it's more properly described as "nonexistent", and therefore his nervousness is easy to zlin.
D'zoll: I know you're nervous, but you're handling the nervousness well.
D'zoll touches Gegg very softly on the top of the knee.
D'zoll: It's all right, isn't it.
D'zoll's voice is soft and hypnotic.
Gegg is distracted enough by the new sensation of true nageric interaction that he doesn't have much energy left over to respond to the touch.
Gegg's throat is so tight his voice squawks like the hens.
D'zoll works to relax Gegg's throat.
D'zoll: It's all right. Tell me when you can.
Gegg swallows twice, regaining at least some control over his voice.
D'zoll: Go ahead.
Gegg: It's almost like what I felt before, that time, but stronger.
D'zoll: Exactly. We've gone back behind the trauma, and this is your authentic response to Sime fields.
Gegg's long-ago tormenters were crude amateurs when it came to manipulating Gen fields, although they had a great deal more expertise than D'zoll in other areas.
D'zoll: This is your birthright, Gegg. This is the experience you were born to have.
Shorsh is amazed at what D'zoll is accomplishing.
Gegg is not at all sure he wants this uncomfortable new sensation; unlike Bart, he doesn't find it uniformly attractive.
D'zoll: I know, I know. Your feelings about it are still mixed. But mixed feelings are a whole lot better than uniform revulsion, aren't they.
Gegg: Well, I guess.
Gegg can acknowledge the progress made, while admitting, if only to himself, that the uniform revulsion was at least more straightforward.
D'zoll closes his eyes and goes briefly hyperconscious, the better to experience the flavor of Gegg's nager.
Gegg's nager is an intermediate strength, with an odd hybrid mixture of Donor and non-donor characteristics. He's physically tired, stressed, and suffering from the common Gumgeevillan's lifetime lack of ongoing medical care.
D'zoll takes his hand off Gegg's leg and skootches back away from him.
D'zoll: Well, Mr. Gegg, there's good news and there's bad news, as they say.
Gegg feels ~~ relief ~~ as D'zoll retreats.
D'zoll: The bad news is, you're never going to get a job as a Tecton Donor.
D'zoll slowly disengages his field from Gegg's.
Gegg feels the unsettling sensations wane, with no outward cause.
D'zoll: [compassionately] The good news is, I am now convinced you can make a complete recovery from the trauma, the Simephobia, and all the other problems you've been suffering with for so many years.
D'zoll: You're going to get better if we go on working together.
Gegg has no basis for comparison except his own distorted view of how he "should" progress, and by that standard he's been a hopeless case from the start.
D'zoll takes a deep breath.
D'zoll: You can see your son again, spend time with him, let him perceive how much you actually do love him.
Gegg's nager sets off a wave of ~~ relief ~~ mixed with ~~ hope ~~, for once almost unmixed with the nagging fear of Simes.