D'zoll, in the Hannard's Ford Sime Center common room, is beginning to feel like this is one of those re-education sessions the Tecton used to do with former members of Distect Houses.
D'zoll: Sectuib, with respect, I have gotten his field down, and I have managed to ...
Hiram: What you've managed, Hajene, is to do a month of fine work and then ruin it with an hour of haste.
Lusinka: Honestly, D'zoll, did you look at it from the poor Gen's point of view, before you grabbed him?
D'zoll: I object to the word "ruined". Many steps forward, a few steps back.
Shorsh adds some more ~~ calm ~~ to his support of D'zoll and signals to Lusinka to mellow her channel out a bit.
Shorsh: The effect wasn't as bad as you might think. The very next morning Gegg was willing to let D'zoll treat his back pain.
Hiram ~~ hardens ~~ his field against the two Companions' efforts.
Lusinka gives Shorsh an apologetic "what can you do?" look, keeping it well out of her nager.
D'zoll: As we discussed last month, and as you'll find in my treatment plan, I expected that there would be setbacks. And a number of his defense mechanisms, the ones that support his overdeveloped courage, are beginning to come down. When I got here, his field zlinned like this:
D'zoll does a credible imitation of Gegg's replete Donor-strength field in a state of rigidly locked Simephobia.
D'zoll: That's the baseline.
Hiram frowns but says nothing. His nager is a ~~ brick wall ~~ .
Lusinka works to counter the effects of D'zoll's projection.
Hiram: Don't bother, Lusinka. I have to zlin this.
D'zoll holds the projection.
Lusinka purses her lips: she hates to see her channel being abused, but obediently moderates her nager. She used to find it just as difficult to allow Hiram to zlin Wild Gen captives as closely as he felt necessary.
D'zoll: Now when you meet him, I'd like you to compare this with how he zlins then. I was a stranger then, you'll be a stranger now, so any effects relating to his personal trust -- or distrust -- of me will be neutralized.
Shorsh: His attitudes and his comfort level with D'zoll have improved markedly.
Shorsh doesn't point out that at his first encounter with D'zoll, Gegg was ready to murder the channel with a shotgun blast.
Hiram: Show me what he zlinned like the morning after your little stunt.
D'zoll obliges by demonstrating, including the ~~ back pain ~~, for once resisting the temptation to babble.
D'zoll's showfield returns to ~~ neutral ~~.
Hiram: Now show me what he was like the day before.
D'zoll: This is my best recollection of it, Sectuib.
D'zoll shows Gegg ~~ wary ~~ and ~~ resigned ~~.
Hiram sighs heavily.
Hiram: D'zoll, I think maybe you took too literally the phrase, "breaking a Wild Gen."
D'zoll: ~~ puzzlement ~~
Hiram: What you've just shown me demonstrates that he was coming along nicely until you pushed him too hard.
Lusinka: This isn't the same situation we faced before Unity. You had time.
Hiram: And these aren't the same goals we had before Unity. Then, it was necessary to render a Gen fit to live with, whatever the cost.
D'zoll bows his head and remains silent, but his nager shows ~~ resolve ~~.
Lusinka: And, the Gens had no choice in the matter.
Hiram: And very often, the cost was a broken human being. The stronger they started, the more badly broken in the end.
Shorsh is getting a bit ~~ annoyed ~~ at his Sectuib and First Companion's catastrophizing.
Hiram: Your goal here is, or was supposed to be, a stronger and healthier human being.
Shorsh: Sectuib, if I may?
Hiram ~~ listens ~~ .
D'zoll is ~~ relieved ~~ that Shorsh is taking some of the burden -- if Hiram and Lusinka will let him.
Lusinka ~~ approves ~~ of Shorsh's willingness to stand up for his channel.
Hiram: Yes, Shorsh?
Lusinka is ~~ reserving judgment ~~ on whether that support is justified, however.
Shorsh: May I suggest you wait until you've met Mr. Gegg before you assume the worst? He's not broken. He's still willing to continue treatment. While that particular session may have moved inadvisably fast, it wasn't disastrous. It may be a small setback, or it may turn out to be an important step forward in freeing Mr. Gegg from his old, undesirable patterns of thought.
Lusinka looks at Shorsh sharply.
Lusinka: You think it might have caused a breakthrough?
Hiram hates, above all else, how often D'zoll seems to push his Sectuib into playing "bad cop."
Shorsh: Possibly. Mr. Gegg was dealing with D'zoll by covering his fear with courage, and trying to think of him as a Gen with tentacles. I believe he's rethinking his long-established attitudes now, which will be essential for him to move forward.
Shorsh looks directly at Hiram.
Shorsh: Sectuib, I was also very concerned that D'zoll had gone too fast, but when Mr. Gegg turned up the next morning willing to accept not only medical treatment but another session with D'zoll I was not only relieved, but impressed.
Hiram: Very well. I'll reserve judgment on that for the time being.
D'zoll releases his ~~ tension ~~ and ~~ relaxes ~~.
Lusinka: He must be an extraordinary person.
D'zoll: "Extraordinary" is indeed the word, Sosu.
Shorsh projects a little ~~ solidarity ~~ at D'zoll.
D'zoll makes the "Doing the best I can" gesture.
Hiram: What concerns me more, Hajene, is why you took such a foolish risk.
D'zoll: I judged that the time was right -- barely. And it was, in fact, right -- barely. I concede that my judgment was a bit distorted by your expected arrival, Sectuib.
Hiram: That's the part that concerns me, D'zoll. Your attitude towards me. Am I such an unreasonable monster?
D'zoll: Of course not, Sectuib. You challenged me to do my best with this patient, to stretch my limits. Is it surprising that I would try to demonstrate that your trust in me was in fact justified?
Hiram: As far as I was concerned, working with this patient at all was a stretch, Hajene. I don't know many channels who would have been willing to even begin such a task.
Lusinka: Especially since it had to be done in Gen Territory.
Hiram offers D'zoll a wisp of ~~ approval ~~ .
D'zoll: I am, as you pointed out, an idealist, Sectuib.
Shorsh feels much less like rolling his eyes at that than he would have in a similar conversation last month.
D'zoll: My therapeutic style does tend to favor short-term approaches, it's true. ~~ ironic ~~
Hiram: And I would have been more than satisfied with your progress if it looked like you were going to be able to take his donation within the next month or two. Did you really think you were in "now or never" mode, because I was on my way?
D'zoll: No. But I did want to impress you with my Iron Farris competence, I suppose. I'm sure you know the syndrome.
Lusinka: He's got a point, Hiram.
Hiram: ~~ wry ~~ You've got me there, Hajene. But why do you have to imitate my worst examples instead of my best ones?
Shorsh smiles, ~~ amused ~~. It can't hurt to let Sectuib know he appreciates his jokes, too.
D'zoll: [droning] The Sectuib embodies the Virtue of the House. Therefore, the House members serve the House by emulating the Sectuib.
D'zoll's eyes twinkle.
Hiram twines all his tentacles in a "you've got me" gesture.
Hiram: An Iron Farris who's also a healer tortures himself, D'zoll, not his patients.
D'zoll: Himself and his patients.
Lusinka: Now that we've settled that, what are your plans for Mr. Gegg now?
D'zoll: I wanted to get Sectuib's approval to bring him to the House, now that he's demonstrated the ability to allow his field to be lowered.
Hiram: And what shape are you in right now, D'zoll?
D'zoll: I'd like to get away from the pig shit, that's for sure. And I could use a break from being "on" all the time.
Lusinka: Not to mention enough work to avoid entran?
D'zoll: Well, I have started doing some healing work in town, as well as taking some donations.
Hiram glances to Shorsh.
Hiram: What do you think, Sosu? Is your channel ready for a little vacation in the booming metropolis of Hannard's Ford?
Shorsh: Sectuib, D'zoll has borne up well under the unrelenting stress of living in a community of people who are willing to shoot him. Wearing retainers whenever he leaves the mobile is most unpleasant for him as well.
D'zoll: [ironic] But as an Iron Farris I wouldn't dream of mentioning those points.
Shorsh: We're both tired of our own cooking, such as it is.
Hiram: That's why I asked your Companion, Hajene.
Shorsh: He's not falling apart. Yet. But he shouldn't have to keep this up for month after month. And we all know that outfunctions aren't a long term substitute for real work.
Hiram: There's only room in the mobile for two people. D'zoll and Shorsh, why don't you spend a few days here in relative comfort, and do a little work in the collectorium here, while Lusinka and I go check out Mr. Gegg?
D'zoll takes a deep breath, lets it out, and ~~ releases even more tension ~~.
D'zoll: Thank you, Sectuib.
Shorsh is ~~ dubious ~~ about Hiram and Lusinka encountering Gumgeeville, the Geggs and Petunia unaccompanied.
Lusinka has lived under primitive conditions, but not recently. She doesn't object, however, having her own share of the Iron Farris syndrome.
Shorsh: Sectuib, perhaps I should go with you while Lusinka stays here to support D'zoll, since I'm now fairly familiar with Gumgeeville. It might be easier for the Geggs to have me there to introduce you as well.
D'zoll: I'd have no objection, of course.
Hiram considers this briefly, then signals ~~ agreement ~~ .
Lusinka: I admit, neither would I. I'm a bit old to camp in barns, I'm afraid.
Hiram: That's settled, then. Thank you, Shorsh.
Shorsh: No problem, Sectuib.
Shorsh regrets the excellent cooking he's going to missing, as well as the warm comfortable bed and the generally clean, odorless milieu of the Hannard's Ford Sime Center, but he's got his share of Iron Farris Syndrome too.
D'zoll disengages from Shorsh's field and invites his Sectuib to swap Gens.
Lusinka catches Shorsh's eye so they can coordinate, and moves to D'zoll's side as Shorsh goes to Hiram.
Hiram leans into Shorsh's field, releasing Lusinka's to D'zoll.
Shorsh engages Hiram's field smoothly and takes up the support with the typical effortless skill of an experienced Farris Companion.
Lusinka is busy with the same task.
Hiram relaxes. Shorsh's field is almost as familiar to him as Lusinka's is.
D'zoll luxuriates in the unusual experience of the First Companion's field.
Shorsh notices D'zoll's reaction and smiles, or perhaps smirks, at him.
Hiram: So what else is there in Gumgeeville that's worth my zlinning, while I'm there?
D'zoll thinks about it.
Shorsh: You may want to meet Bart Mullins. He plans to go in-T for Donor training in a month or so, but hasn't made any formal arrangements yet.
Hiram: He may be recruitable for Sat'htine, then?
D'zoll: Potentially, yes. But we haven't discussed his interests.
Shorsh: And he's very naive about how things work in-T, so he may not understand the implications of being trained by, or joining, a House.
D'zoll: He was able to be helpful to me when we were dealing with a psychotic drifter, a former mathematics professor.
Hiram: Well, then, it's a Sectuib's job to discuss Sat'htine with him, then. You think he might have potential for psychiatric work?
D'zoll: I'd say it's far too early to tell.
Hiram: I'll talk to him, at least. Anyone else?
D'zoll: Above all, you should monitor Gegg's wife Toria's pregnancy, of course; if she does definitely have channels, we'll need to activate that part of the treatment plan.
D'zoll: So far, I'm just not able to tell, not that obstetrics is my specialty.
Lusinka: Does she understand what it means, to bear a channel? The things that will be necessary?
Shorsh: Well, she's already successfully borne one, out-T here, with no help but a Gen midwife.
Hiram: Channel's obstetrics is one of my specialties. I've had lots of practice at giving that speech.
Hiram thinks privately that he'd much rather practice obstetrics than his other specialty, emergency care of physical trauma.
D'zoll: Thank you, Sectuib. Shorsh is right, but twins are very different from a singleton.
Shorsh: She's a very no-nonsense person, so she may take some convincing. And recall that out-T Gens don't have any particular reason to defer to a channel's judgment or expertise.
Hiram: I've had some practice already, you might recall, at impressing Gens without using the big nose or the white lining.
Lusinka: Does Toria have any Donor talent of her own?
Shorsh: You may want to talk to Hajene Bibi about that. Toria has a strange reaction to lateral contact. Hajene Bibi isn't able to define it, but perhaps you can figure it out.
Hiram makes a mental note.
Hiram: Will do. Anything else?
D'zoll: There's an utterly strange Gen with barely a general-class donor's speed, but the sensitivity and capacity of a TN-2 at least. Neither Bibi nor I have been able to figure out what's appropriate to do with her. She wants to be a Donor, but ....
Shorsh: Very labile emotionally, too.
Hiram: Hmmm. I'll take a zlin at her.
Shorsh: And she managed to put a visiting QN-2 flat on his back when he tried to take her donation.
Hiram: A very careful zlin.
Lusinka can at least trust Shorsh not to let Hiram take too many excessive chances.
Lusinka: How about Gegg's Donor talent? How much has that complicated matters?
D'zoll: Oh, he still has it all right. I think it would take a [English] miracle [Simelan] for him to ever be able to use it, though.
Shorsh: I never truly understood how Donor talent could be a terrible curse until this case.
D'zoll: His selyur nager is powerful, but it's utterly unaccompanied by the usual emotions. Oh yes -- he can Genslam when something unexpected happens to him. So be on your guard for it. Shorsh knows what to do.
Lusinka is ~~ concerned ~~ about the possible consequences of her Sectuib interacting with such an individual.
Shorsh: Fortunately he's now low field.
Shorsh winks at D'zoll when Lusinka isn't watching.
Hiram recalls a couple of the first-time donors who Genslammed him at the Battle of Shen and shudders.
Lusinka: What kind of a person is he, apart from the phobia?
D'zoll: Courageous, determined, and depressed -- What's wrong, Sectuib?
Hiram: Just remembering the Battle of Shen, and some could-have-been Donors there.
Lusinka: Oh, dear, yes. Some of them were a real trial.
D'zoll: I can just imagine.
Shorsh figures D'zoll can imagine now.
Hiram: After what you've zlinned from Gegg, maybe you can indeed, youngster. So you say Gegg is still determined? And courageous? Is it the right kind of courage?
D'zoll sighs again.
D'zoll: I think so. I wish I could be certain. But until he's put to the test --
Lusinka: What do you mean, put to the test? Do you think he'll balk at donating again, next month?
D'zoll: N-no. But whether he'll change enough inwardly, that's another question. Treatment plans are one thing, a live patient's another.
Hiram is ~~ amazed ~~ that D'zoll seems to have figured this out, finally.
D'zoll folds his arms.
D'zoll: I know. That's what you wanted me to learn.
Hiram: ~~ strong approval ~~ Hajene, this entire exercise just paid for itself. Thank you.
Lusinka gives Shorsh his own approving smile, as she knows who did the hard work.
Hiram notices Lusinka's smile and twines a dorsal around Shorsh's wrist to reinforce her message. He ~~ relaxes ~~ . Now that all four players are on the same team again, this will be much less impossible.
D'zoll: Perhaps so. But now I've got -- no, we've got to get Gegg out of the Very Deep Pit I just left him in.
Lusinka: How do you want Hiram to assist you, D'zoll?
Lusinka doesn't want D'zoll's problem Gen just dumped in Hiram's tentacles.
D'zoll: He's already made a good start at accepting what he can't change. Now you can help him change what he can change.
Hiram: Any specific suggestions?
D'zoll: Talk therapy may be effective now in building up his self-esteem on a new, more rational basis. Of course, his thinking control needs more work as well.
Hiram: Isn't the latter more your department?
D'zoll: I understood that you wanted me to stay here a few days. Gegg's treatment should continue while I'm gone, if at all possible. And are you not the Sectuib in Sat'htine?
Shorsh is amused by D'zoll's chutzpah, and shows it to him on his face, without letting Hiram zlin it in his nager.
D'zoll: Of course, I'd like your comments on Gegg's condition as well when I return.
Hiram: I'll do what I can to reinforce his self-esteem, certainly. Maybe if he hears it from enough people, he'll finally start believing in himself. But I'll leave the other therapeutic work for you.
D'zoll: Understood, Sectuib.
Hiram: And yes, Hajene, you'll certainly be getting my comments.
D'zoll: I look forward to that. ~~ sincerity relief ~~
Hiram zlins that for once, maybe D'zoll really means that. He figures it's now time to lighten the topic.
Hiram: So tell me, how did you manage to get Mr. Henree to let you through his door? Seruffin was most impressed by that.
Shorsh: D'zoll exerted his famous Farris charisma. And it didn't hurt that I paid Henree's custom-inflated prices without complaint.
D'zoll: I tried to stop him, really; I wasn't padding the expense account.
Hiram: Big nose and big wallet, then? ~~ gentle teasing ~~
Lusinka: So long as he's willing to overlook big tentacles, I think Sat'htine can absorb the cost.
D'zoll: Glad to hear it, Sosu. But yes, they have a saying in Gumgeeville: Money has no soul. And since they think Gens have souls but Simes don't, it lets them provide me services that they otherwise wouldn't be able to do out of courtesy.
Hiram: Come, now, Naztehr, Farris tentacles aren't really bigger than anyone else's, are they?
D'zoll looks at his tentacles.
D'zoll: We must uphold the family reputation -- Naztehr.
Lusinka: Well, anything looks larger from close up -- and Farris channels are always sticking their tentacles into everything. Right, Shorsh?
Shorsh: They've certainly been known to do that. Of course, all of us Farrises tend to stick our big noses into everything.
Hiram shares a long-suffering glance with D'zoll.
Hiram: Ganged up on by our own Gens.
Lusinka: Of course. You expected something different? How else can we make sure you behave yourselves?
D'zoll: I don't know about you, Naztehr, but when I stick my tentacles into something -- or my nose -- I generally get nothing but enthusiastic appreciation.
Shorsh does roll his eyes this time.
Lusinka: Your Mister Gegg appears to be an exception.
Shorsh: My big nose detects that dinner will be ready soon. ~~ appetite ~~
Hiram glances at his travel-stained clothes.
Hiram: I really ought to wash up before dinner. After all, I'll want my... tentacles... to be in good shape to impress the local lasses.
Shorsh smiles. Sounds like Bibi's dimples have won another admirer.
Lusinka's stomach growls, in Genlike fashion.
D'zoll: I'm for washing up right after you, Sectuib. I wouldn't want to miss anything.