Jaklin ambrov Imil, World Controller, finishes reading a status report while awaiting her guests, the Sectuib and First Companion in Sat'htine. She thinks this alleged social call will be a good opportunity to see whether Sat'htine will be willing to take on the project of re-rehabilitating Nick Reckage, a Farris-trained and formerly rogue Donor. She would also like Sat'htine to evaluate some of the Companions in Naros, woefully underdeveloped in that Householding's lax training system. If you can call it a system.
Jaklin sighs deeply, the normal result of thinking about Naros, its Sectuib Emeritus, and the bizarre... situation that developed under his... leadership.
Jaklin wonders whether her guests have something in mind that they'd like the World Controller's Office to do for them, and considers the current balance of favors in the relationship.
Hiram steps into the elevator, mulling over the upcoming courtesy call. There are some things Sat'htine could use a boost with, about now, but the World Controller doesn't really owe Sat'htine any favors. Neither does Jaklin, personally, owe any to Hiram. If anything, he owes her.
Lusinka stays at her Sectuib's elbow.
Lusinka: Life was simpler when the Tecton wasn't a governing body. More dangerous, but simpler.
Hiram: A lot more could be done just Sectuib to Sectuib, then. Now it's all conferences and paper trails. And rulebooks.
Hiram is not as ~~ frustrated ~~ as he might be by bureaucracy, after an excellent transfer two nights ago.
Lusinka: Well, there are compensations. We haven't fought off a pogrom caused by Pen shortages in quite some time.
Lusinka: It's nice to be able to travel without an armed escort of Dar guards.
Jaklin expects her guests momentarily and steps into the outer office, where she zlins them exiting the elevator.
Hiram: You're right, as usual, Sosu.
Lusinka is tactful enough not to say, "Yup."
Hiram smiles ~~ warmly ~~ at Lusinka, then leads the way into the Controller's office.
Jaklin projects a ~~ cordial welcome ~~ as the channel and Companion approach the office.
Hiram: Good morning, Controller. ~~ warm pleasure ~~
Lusinka offers a ~~ cordial greeting ~~ of her own.
Lusinka: Controller Jaklin, it's good to see you again. It's been far too long.
Jaklin: It has indeed. I'm delighted to zlin you two again.
Jaklin ushers them into her office and across to the arrangement of comfortable seating by the window.
Lusinka sits on a couch, ~~ grateful ~~ for the extra padding. The train seats seem harder every year.
Hiram: You're looking and zlinning well. You're not supposed to zlin younger under the burdens of office, Jaklin. ~~ gentle teasing ~~
Jaklin smiles and shrugs.
Jaklin: I have some good people working for me, including Hajene Seruffin, whom you've recently met, I understand.
Hiram: A delightful man. And very persuasive.
Jaklin: Yes. He's invaluable in dealing with New Washington. It's remarkable how well the current trade negotiations are turning out.
Hiram: That's good. Trade and mutual aid are what's going to make Unity really work over the next generation.
Jaklin gestures to the table in front of the sofa.
Jaklin: My secretary has made us a fresh pot of trin, a new Narosian blend. Would you care to try some?
Lusinka: A Narosian blend? Please.
Hiram: Yes, please. Um, Naros? Haven't they been...?
Hiram fishes in his memory for what he knows about Naros besides their teas. It seems he's heard something about them lately, but he can't quite remember what.
Jaklin pours three cups of trin and gestures to the tray of Gen food in front of Lusinka. It's a bit lacking in tact to make a point of offering Gens food, but one still needs to do it.
Lusinka is old enough to have given up trying to eat like a Sime long since, and picks up a cookie to nibble.
Hiram takes a sip of the tea.
Hiram: Very good. What's this one called?
Jaklin: Purple Passion.
Hiram holds the tea up to the light.
Lusinka: Well, that's Naros for you.
Jaklin chuckles as well.
Jaklin: Oh, yes.
Hiram: Yes, it is actually a bit purplish. I wonder how they do that.
Lusinka takes a sip.
Hiram raises a tentacle quickly to forestall an answer.
Hiram: No, I don't really want to know. ~~ humor ~~
Lusinka: It tastes like they might have added a bit of pomegranate juice, and fiddled with the acidity.
Jaklin sips as well.
Jaklin: I like it myself; the tartness is pleasant. I just wish I didn't have to wince every time I mention the name. ~~ humor ~~
Hiram: ~~ wry ~~ If that's the worst Naros ever inflicts on the world, at least they're not going to be on your problem list much.
Jaklin: They have gotten a bit easier to manage since Sectuib Riyyh retired. And I think they're still a little abashed since the inbreeding scandal came out a few years ago.
Hiram takes another sip.
Hiram: Refresh my memory on that.
Jaklin: Well, Riyyh has long had a reputation as a man who can't say no... It turned out that he hadn't been able to say no to most of his female naztehrhai for the past few generations.
Lusinka: Few generations?
Jaklin: The amazing part was that nobody appears to have been aware just how widely he had... sown his seed.
Hiram vaguely recalls some gossip he'd heard but discounted. Wild orgies don't really fascinate him, even in imagination. He likes his sex more... one on one.
Jaklin: As a result, a substantial fraction of his naztehrhai are genetically half or three quarters... him.
Hiram is, on the other hand, fascinated by genetics. And quite knowledgeable.
Hiram: Odd recessives coming out all over the place?
Jaklin: Remarkably, there haven't been any severe medical problems. Most people would attribute the characteristics of the ambrov Naros more to the culture of the House. But there has been a concentration of the channel and Companion genetics from Riyyh himself.
Lusinka: It could be quite a mess, in another generation.
Hiram: Unless they start actively outcrossing, right away.
Jaklin: Once it was realized what had happened, quite a few people left the House or engaged in personnel swaps with other Houses. It must have been extremely traumatic.
Lusinka: Oho! So, that's your interest? A whole House chock full of Donor potential?
Jaklin: Yes. In general their selyn workers are very underdeveloped. It's not for nothing that Naros has been called the House of Slack, you know.
Jaklin thinks they act as if their Virtue is Hedonism.
Hiram thinks, privately, that there are far worse Houses to manage than Sat'htine. ~~ pride ~~
Jaklin smiles at Hiram's pride.
Lusinka: From your expression, they haven't been cooperative with the Tecton?
Jaklin: Things have been better lately. It used to be almost impossible to get statistics from them, and to get their channels and Companions to work outside the House... well, pulling teeth is a mild cliche for it. I think the scandal, and the personnel exchanges, have caused changes that have ameliorated their intellectual inbreeding as much as the genetic.
Hiram: Sounds like you wouldn't necessarily want them working outside the House. At least, not without close supervision.
Jaklin: I think it might help the House if some of their younger Companions could spend time in a well-managed Householding, with better standards of training and development. We do have one Donor who's worked extensively with some Farrises, so there's a lot of genetic potential in Riyyh's... get. This young man is his son and grandson.
Lusinka straightens with ~~ interest ~~ at this reference to Farris-potential. She knows that Riyyh himself is only a mid-level First.
Hiram shudders. Didn't Riyyh understand the difference between breeding sheep and breeding people?
Hiram: On the other hand, what about the... culls?
Jaklin: Naros seems to be a good place for people uninterested in challenges.
Hiram wonders whether Naros' slackness is cause or effect of their breeding, uh, problem. He fingers his own sleeve of Sat'htine's colors and smiles ~~ proudly ~~.
Hiram: Whereas some Houses are full of folks obsessed with finding better challenges.
Lusinka catches Hiram's gesture, and wonders exactly what challenge Jaklin has in mind to dump in Sat'htine's lap.
Hiram thinks there are far worse enthusiasms than D'zoll's.
Jaklin: How would we ever have achieved Unity without the Farris Houses and their commitment to challenge?
Jaklin figures she can get away with a bit of flattery, even if Hiram can zlin right through her.
Hiram glances ~~ curiously ~~ at Lusinka, not following her thought.
Lusinka might be a Farris herself, but as a Companion she has a different perspective and goal than most channels.
Hiram tries to tone down his unseemly ~~ pride ~~.
Lusinka: All right, Jaklin, just what do you have in mind for Sat'htine to do?
Jaklin: The Farris-capable Donor I mentioned has had a long string of unfortunate experiences, yet remains committed to continue working with Farrises. He has exceptional innate skill, a true Natural Donor. He wasn't raised in Naros -- Riyyh spread his genes farther afield than just the House. He wasn't aware of his relationship to Riyyh until a few years ago.
Hiram begins to zlin a very large, baited Sectuib trap.
Hiram: Indeed? ~~ dry ~~
Lusinka: Wasn't aware of it? How could he not be aware, if Riyyh was his father and grandfather both?
Jaklin: He believed his mother's husband was his father, and his grandmother never told him who his grandfather was.
Jaklin rubs her head with her tentacles.
Jaklin: His grandmother is... quite an unusual woman. Apparently she had some idea of breeding a Donor she could indenture to the Tecton to provide a continuing income for herself: the sort of junct thinking so common in that generation, even among nonjuncts.
Lusinka: She must be unusual, if she could carry through such a program. What was Riyyh thinking to go along with it?
Jaklin looks pained.
Jaklin: I suspect he wasn't thinking, just being led around by his gonads. Or trying to be accommodating. Or both. The grandmother is apparently a rather... forceful person.
Hiram raises an eyebrow.
Hiram: Is that one of Riyyh's... quirks? Forceful women, I mean.
Jaklin smiles wryly.
Jaklin: I don't think he's very selective. All they need do is evince some interest and he's delighted to oblige, or at any rate, reluctant to disappoint.
Jaklin doesn't want to get into the question of how Riyyh, a channel, apparently manages to do fine without discriminating by gender, either.
Hiram decides that not every Sectuib is necessarily a colleague and equal, not even in theory.
Lusinka: So why are you bringing this up, Jaklin? Do you want Sat'htine to evaluate the genetic damage -- and potential -- in Naros?
Jaklin: If you are interested, I'd like to arrange for some Companions in Naros to live and work at Sat'htine so your people can see if it's possible to develop their abilities and modify their attitudes to make them more productive professionals. Some of them may have potential as Donors for Farrises, and where but a Farris House can such potential be developed?
Hiram frowns, carefully holding his nager ~~ neutral ~~. This is definitely not a time to mention the main thing he'd been looking for when he came here today, which was a few good Donor trainees with a special interest in healing.
Hiram: This would be a substantial undertaking.
Hiram owes Jaklin a favor, but not this big a favor.
Jaklin makes a dismissive gesture.
Jaklin: If you could take on a few of the more promising ones, for long enough to give us an opinion, it wouldn't be a major effort. Of course, if it turns out that you can rehabilitate and develop them, it would be much to your House's benefit as well as to the Tecton's.
Lusinka: Just how many did you have in mind, Jaklin?
Lusinka wants to make sure that Sat'htine is only dealing with the least problematic cases, as Donor training is very labor-intensive and tends to disrupt the smooth functioning of the channel-Donor teams.
Jaklin: I could send you three or four, and if you'd like, more later.
Hiram keeps his nager carefully ~~ expressionless ~~ while he weighs a number of factors in his head.
Jaklin: They'd already be working Companions, qualified as Firsts. If you like, you could send someone to select them yourself.
Lusinka: You seem to be pushing this one young man. Any particular reason?
Hiram remains silent, still thinking.
Jaklin: He's remarkably talented nagerically. He's been ill-treated by the Tecton, and by the Farris channels he's worked with and devoted himself to. Farris-capable Donors are rare, and he's proven himself capable of supporting some very difficult Farris channels.
Lusinka knows a large percentage of the working Farris channels, at least by reputation.
Jaklin: Arat Audnes Farris and his daughter Wise Snake.
Jaklin grits her teeth mentally and tries to keep it out of her nager.
Lusinka: The rebellion?
Hiram is controlling his nager and his body language well enough to avoid a ~~ shudder ~~.
Lusinka is ~~ sympathetic ~~, but she has a responsibility to her House.
Jaklin: His personal commitment to these channels was, in my opinion, motivated by a strong sense of responsibility and by his Donor talent. He found the idea of leaving them intolerable in the absence of another Donor who could adequately support them, despite their ill treatment of him.
Lusinka: Is he sane, after going through that?
Jaklin: Oh, he's sane. No question about that.
Lusinka: So what aren't you telling us? Why aren't you snatching him up for your own rotations?
Lusinka has seldom met a Controller so eager to give away a talented Donor.
Hiram would rather stay away from this whole mess, but he does owe Jaklin a favor. And Lusinka's been treating him very well, lately. He could probably take on this Donor himself for a month. He waits for the answer to Lusinka's question, though.
Jaklin: He's wasted on a First like myself -- he's much too high rated. He deserves the opportunity to work with sane, normal Farris channels who will treat him decently and let him discover what life can be like for a person of his extraordinary talent and skill.
Hiram zlins Jaklin carefully. She still seems to be hiding something.
Jaklin: It's what he himself wants -- to work with, and give transfer to Farrises.
Lusinka: And just what is inducing you to go to such trouble to give this Donor exactly the sort of assignment he wants? It's not his seniority.
Jaklin: I suspect he'll quit the Tecton otherwise. You can imagine what kind of shape he'll be in after a while if he does. After all he did for those two aberrant Audnes Farrises, he certainly doesn't deserve a fate like that. With a little help he can be an asset to the Tecton again, and perhaps to your House as well.
Jaklin isn't going to mention the acquisition of selyn worker promoting genes after the earlier discussion.
Lusinka cocks her head.
Hiram: You want us to take him into Sat'htine, not just train him and send him back? ~~ incredulity ~~
Lusinka: So if he works out, we can keep him? You won't snatch him away without our consent?
Jaklin: If he wants to pledge Sat'htine, and you want to accept him, far be it from me to interfere.
Hiram wants to be very careful about just how much he's committing to, if he takes this on.
Jaklin spreads her tentacles.
Jaklin: If. Right now, he's confused, unsettled, and more than a bit bitter. But he has a very powerful Donor talent, remarkable skill, and the ability to work with difficult Farrises under difficult conditions. Indeed, he has a drive to work with Farrises.
Hiram comes to a decision.
Hiram: Very well, then. Sat'htine will try working with this one Donor. Only the one, until we see how he works out.
Jaklin: I think you'll find it very rewarding, in more ways than one, naztehrhai.
Jaklin reminds her guests that they are all Householders together.
Hiram: ~~ dryly ~~ We'll see.
Jaklin: Of course. More tea?
Lusinka: Thank you.
Lusinka holds out her cup.
Hiram: Yes, please. At least that's one thing Naros does well.
Lusinka figures it's time to smooth the waters a bit.
Lusinka: It's not that we're not intrigued by the challenge, but we're taking in some other difficult cases, and we can't help any of them if we spread ourselves too thin.
Jaklin: I understand. What have your people been up to lately? ~~ sincere curiosity ~~
Lusinka: Staging a Wild Gen roundup.
Hiram: D'zoll has taken on an interesting case out-T. In fact, that's what brings us on the road.
Jaklin thinks this sounds ~~ interesting ~~. She knows D'zoll is a psychology specialist, and wonders which out-T city Sime Center has called him in on just what kind of case.
Jaklin: A case out-T?
Hiram: There's this odd little backwoods town called Gumgeeville. Your friend Seruffin got stranded there for a few days last winter, and shook a few strange things loose.
Jaklin: Yes, he had quite a tale to tell. As did his Donor.
Hiram: ~~ amusement ~~ I can imagine.
Hiram: Anyway, the case D'zoll is working on is a Simephobe with Donor potential, who wants to be able to hug his son the channel. And his wife is expecting twins, who might turn out to be channels as well.
Jaklin: An irresistible challenge for a Sat'htine Farris. ~~ amused ~~
Lusinka is still not sure that she wants to cope with the results of an out-of-control Simephobe in her House, not even for a chance at twin, unrelated channels from a new bloodline.
Hiram: So D'zoll's out there, trying to get the Simephobe to the point where we dare bring him and his wife in-T. He's been out there a month, now, and according to reports things are going well. If this is true, in another month or two he'll be able to take the man's first donation and then bring him in.
Jaklin thinks that's optimistic, but Hiram must know what he can expect from his people.
Hiram: If things aren't going well, we'll try to bring in just the wife, for just long enough to manage the late stages of the pregnancy.
Jaklin: I have to admire your naztehr for being willing to spend time in a place like that. It must be very stressful.
Lusinka: D'zoll is young enough to find the hardships challenging.
Hiram: I have an ulterior motive. What doesn't destroy us, makes us stronger.
Jaklin: And his Companion in misery?
Lusinka: Shorsh is with him. He wasn't as enthusiastic as D'zoll about the project, but he agreed that D'zoll requires someone to provide... perspective, on occasion.
Hiram: Shorsh has amazing patience, and the sense of humor to survive just about anything.
Jaklin: A good choice, then, for that assignment.
Lusinka: We're hoping his sense of humor won't be stressed too far.
Hiram: You know it and I know it, Jaklin: our Gens are the ones who really keep everything going. Without them, we'd be as helpless as kittens tangled in string.
Lusinka looks a bit ~~ smug ~~.
Jaklin: Indeed. No one knows that better than Householders.
Lusinka: Someone would unwind you eventually, I'm sure.
Hiram gives Lusinka a burst of ~~ warm gratitude ~~ and ~~ affection ~~.
Jaklin smiles at the pleasant emotions.
Hiram riffles through his mental list, trying to decide if there's any business he still wants to discuss with Jaklin. He's is definitely not going to mention his search for Donor trainees with a special interest in healing. Not with all those Naros Donors still looking for takers.
Jaklin, if she knew what Hiram was thinking, would be amused at the idea that the Naros Companions have any intention of being "taken". She hopes she can get a subordinate to handle most of the "extractive dentistry", but expects that she will have to take a direct hand in the matter.