General-Class Donors: Episode 10

Triangusul ambrov Joiffre grabs a seat in the cordoned-off portion of the press area that's reserved for him and his Sime colleagues. He's one of the relatively few renSimes who is sensitive enough to zlin decently even through retainers.

Triangusul had all he could do to get here quickly enough without actually augmenting in the streets and frightening the horses. Even just at a rapid walk, Simes can be very frightening to untrained out-T Gens.

Triangusul's attention, as both pre-turnover Sime and male, is focused on the young women who are holding up signs saying "SIME TERRITORY"; there's rope connecting each of the signs to its neighbors. He knows those can't be actual Pen yawals they're wearing, and anyway, no yawal was ever made of such slinky stuff. It's got to be just the warped imagination of the clothing designer -- a subject about which Triangusul knows little.

Triangusul: [to himself] Besides, those orange, red, and Pen green stripes -- Naah. Still, the effect is pretty wow.

Quispel is rushing around, taking care of the last minute details, making sure that the whole production is properly stage-managed. He directs two flunkies to bring in the green Farmers' Relief Fund banner, and position it to flutter in the breeze from all the hot air wafting from the Senate chambers. He pauses to assess the effect, then gestures for the banner to be moved a foot to the right.

Rinaldi is standing well back, admiring the gowns his models are wearing. He's sure every fashionable woman in New Washington will want several for festive occasions this coming spring and summer. He moves around intermittently to draw the attention of any reporter who might wish to approach him for comment on his creations.

Pollovic paces nervously in the storeroom, formerly a security post, that today is doubling as a green room for the press conference. He takes a peek out through the gap in the curtains over the window. It's a real mob scene out there. Quispel seems to have everything under control, but still the whole scene seems a bit vulgar.

Quispel darts into the green room, to make sure the principals are ready.

Quispel: Where are they? Shouldn't they be here by now?

Quispel ~~ frets ~~.

Rinaldi admires the effect of the wide bands of keldic braid couching in silver and gold cord circling the throats of the gowns and continuing down the left breast. He thinks it looks wonderful both on the gowns and on Pollovic's tunic. It's his keynote for the season.

Quispel: I'll find them. We're almost ready to go.

Quispel darts out again, in search of the channel.

Pollovic turns to his trusted family bodyguard, Fulberg.

Pollovic: Fulberg...?

Fulberg: Sir?

Pollovic: Is politics inherently vulgar? Is the idea of dignity in political life just an idealist's daydream? I keep wondering what my father would have thought of this media circus.

Fulberg isn't used to such questions, but he'll give it the old family-retainer try.

Fulberg: The senator knows that times change... and we have to change with them.

Pollovic: You knew my father. Would he have done this?

Fulberg: No, sir. But it wouldn't have been possible in his day.

Pollovic: If he were here now, I mean.

Fulberg: Perhaps not. But the senator is his own man... as was his father.

Pollovic sighs.

Pollovic: Too late to change it now, anyway.

Fulberg: Sir. Would the senator feel better if I keep... that person... out when he comes back?

Pollovic: What? Who? ~~ distracted ~~

Fulberg: Mr. Quispel. Sir. As my father used to say, sir, "Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are a vexation to the spirit."

Pollovic: Oh. No, Fulberg. He's just doing his job. For a moment I thought you were talking about...

Pollovic shrugs.

Pollovic: But you weren't. How do you feel about Hajene Seruffin, Fulberg?

Fulberg is silent for a while.

Fulberg: Well, he's certainly not loud. Or aggressive. Then again, he's a Sime.

Pollovic: You don't like Simes, Fulberg? You've concealed it well.

Fulberg: Sir.

Pollovic: Yes?

Fulberg: My father also said, "Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery." How much does the senator feel he can trust this Seruffin?

Pollovic: As a channel, he's utterly reliable. As a diplomat, he's fair, honest. On the other side, of course. But a worthy diplomat. You don't look convinced, Fulberg.

Fulberg: Well, my father further said, "Trust, but verify." I'll do my best, sir.

Pollovic: Seruffin is the last thing I need to worry about today. If anything, he's the one guarantee that there'll be at least some shred of dignity to this whole affair. But if he bothers you, Fulberg, just keep on the other side of me from him.

Fulberg: Very well, sir.

Pollovic reflects that it should be reassuring to know that even the polished Hajene Seruffin seemed to have a touch of stage fright this morning. But somehow it isn't.

Pollovic: You're a good man, Fulberg.

Fulberg: Sir.

Tsibola is making his way down the hall of the Senate building, on his way to lunch. He slows as he nears the Rotunda, and spots the mob of reporters.

Tsibola: No dignity at all. [muttered]

Triangusul: Senator, is that comment on the record?

Triangusul has left his post temporarily, knowing he won't lose his seat for good, to examine the Sime Territory signs more closely. Or something like that.

Tsibola starts in ~~ alarm ~~ at the sudden appearance of a Sime at his side, then pulls himself together with ~~ cold dignity ~~.

Tsibola: No, it is not on the record. And I've no comment.

Tsibola doesn't quite say, "At least, not to you," but it is implied.

Triangusul: Thank you, Senator.

Triangusul vanishes from sight, or so it seems, reappearing in the same chair as before.

Seruffin looks at Gerrhonot.

Seruffin: It's just about time. Would you help me on with the retainers?

Gerrhonot: Sure.

Gerrhonot holds one for Seruffin to put his arm in. ~~ sympathy ~~

Seruffin surrenders the appropriate arm, trying not to make a face. It's not Gerrhonot's fault he has to wear the things, after all.

Gerrhonot carefully and gently closes the device and holds out the second one, projecting ~~ love ~~ safety ~~ confidence ~~ and ~~ heaps of selyn for you when you need it ~~.

Seruffin: This will take a lot of support from you, I'm afraid. I wish we were doing this in an insulated room.

Seruffin is ~~ fretting ~~, and it's only partly from being in need. He surrenders the second arm, wincing as the clamps lock the devices over his swollen ronaplin glands.

Gerrhonot: You lean on me as much as you want. You know I'm strong. ~~ confidence ~~ devotion ~~ reliability ~~ steadiness ~~

Seruffin leans lightly on Gerrhonot's support.

Seruffin: Fortunately, it appears that Senator Pollovic is ignorant enough of Sime anatomy not to recognize where I am in my need cycle.

Gerrhonot: Good.

Gerrhonot strokes Seruffin's cheek then takes his hands.

Gerrhonot: Afterwards we can come back here and just rest until it's time for our transfer. We don't have to go outside again until after that. ~~ soothing ~~

Seruffin squeezes Gerrhonot's hands once, then lets go, squares his shoulders, and opens the door of the Sime safe room.

Gerrhonot surrounds his channel with ~~ comfort ~~ and ~~ protection ~~.

Seruffin has his "diplomat face" on, very calm and dignified but approachable, which is quite an achievement for a Sime in hard need.

Gerrhonot does his best to look professional and unobtrusive while staying within centimeters of his channel.

Seruffin maintains the facade even when a passing staffer doesn't see his retainers until she's too close for comfort, and scoots away with a yelp.

Pollovic has set his worries aside, and has put on his "Senator face". He emerges from the green room just as the channel and his Donor approach.

Pollovic: Ready, Hajene? ~~ brittle calm ~~

Seruffin: Yes, we're ready. Have you any last questions?

Pollovic grins.

Pollovic: Want to do lunch afterwards?

Seruffin quells a wave of nausea at the thought of food.

Seruffin: I'm sorry, we can't, today. Perhaps another time?

Pollovic: Sure. Did you want to say a few quick words after I introduce you?

Seruffin: Yes, that would probably be wise. It might set the onlookers more at ease.

Pollovic: Okay. [glances at his watch] It's time. Let's go.

Seruffin falls into place behind Pollovic, hoping this won't be the disaster his need nightmares have pictured.

Pollovic pauses just barely within Quispel's range of view to give the ready signal.

Quispel catches the signal, nods, and starts the show.

Gerrhonot takes a deep breath and intensifies his focus on his channel to the maximum.

Quispel steps into the cordoned off section, mounts the dais, waits until the reporters are paying attention, and introduces Pollovic.

Pollovic steps up to the platform on cue and strides to the front with unfeigned ~~ confidence ~~ . This is the part of politics that he lives for. He feels the adrenaline start to pump, steps forward, and begins.

Pollovic: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here on this historic occasion.

Seruffin follows, then stops short as he realizes what the fashion models holding the "Sime Territory" signs are wearing. ~~ shock ~~

Gerrhonot doesn't know what caused Seruffin's reaction, so doesn't know where to move to defend him. He steps in front of him and wraps his arms around him. ~~ intense protection ~~ lean on me ~~

Seruffin finds himself wondering, for a brief moment, if he's been transported back in time to a Tecton kill camp. He then takes a second look, and relaxes just a bit.

Fulberg does a little dance trying to stay between Seruffin and the senator.

Pollovic gets through the rest of the opening platitudes and launches into the main body of his speech. It's full of ringing phrases, and neatly works in comments about education policy, budget and trade, and agriculture. it's a very well-written speech, and he's pleased with it. He's completely unaware of the channel's agitation, behind him.

Seruffin: Are they really wearing what it looks like they're wearing?

Gerrhonot hasn't much noticed the nubile young women draped in brilliant colored silks, such is his concentration on his channel.

Gerrhonot: Um. Some kind of party dresses?

Seruffin then notes that the "yawals" are in fact not cheap cotton, and the "chains" around their necks are embroidery.

Seruffin: I suppose so.

Seruffin is still ~~ shaken ~~ by the resemblance.

Seruffin: Never mind. Help me get these retainers off before the Senator finishes his speech.

Triangusul wonders why the channel is behaving so, well, un-channel-like.

Pollovic: So it's clear, ladies and gentlemen, that true Unity benefits us all. But Unity means concern for our Sime neighbors as well as ourselves.

Gerrhonot helps Seruffin remove the retainers, sets them aside and takes his arms gently. ~~ safety ~~ love ~~ confidence ~~ protection ~~ repletion ~~

Triangusul observes flashbulbs going off prematurely all around him as the CLANK, CLANK, CLANK, CLANK of the retainers being removed resounds throughout the Rotunda. He's ~~ shocked ~~ to see the channel, whom he now recognizes as the well-known Sime diplomat, in such visible hard need.

Seruffin sees a flapping green banner out of the corner of his eye, and for a moment is taken back once more to pre-Unity days, until he see the "Farmers' Relief Fund" printed on the fabric.

Triangusul is young and has a somewhat naive view of channels.

Seruffin gets hold of himself, somehow, although it takes all the discipline of his over thirty years of channeling.

Pollovic: Most of us have been taught to think of selyn as something the Tecton offers money for, and donation as something done only for the money. We forget that Simes need selyn to live, as we need food. Without selyn, Simes would die. Without our selyn, as well as that of their Gen countrymen, Simes would be living at a very subsistence level, with barely the strength to get through the day.

Triangusul applauds silently ~~ irony ~~.

Gerrhonot wants to stay between Seruffin and the crowd, but with crowd on three sides, it isn't possible. He tries to at least block off the photographers and their startling flashes.

Seruffin's attention returns to the main event, and he takes a small step away from Gerrhonot to judge the ambient.

Gerrhonot watches him intently for cues.

Pollovic: Without our selyn, Nivet's industry would grind to a halt for lack of workers, Gulf's crops would rot in the fields.

Seruffin notes that Pollovic seems to have steadied under the audience's scrutiny, the reporters are working themselves into a feeding frenzy, and one of them is Sime. He quietly tables a half-formed idea of faking the donation. He steps back into Gerrhonot's clean, selyn-rich field, and runs through some focusing exercises.

Triangusul's trick memory is silently recording every word of Pollovic's speech for him, allowing him to focus his Sime senses on what's happening on a non-verbal level.

Gerrhonot is unconsciously doing a breathing exercise to help him keep his nager absolutely steady under these difficult conditions, and his attention unwaveringly on his channel.

Pollovic: We can no longer afford to think of donating as something done only by the poor, for the money. Nor as something done only by the young, to shock their parents. Those are the attitudes of yesteryear. We must learn to think of donating as simply our part in the building of true Unity, as something all of us must do, just as we all sent food to aid Breville after the hurricane, or blankets to Tor during the Winter of Ice.

Seruffin takes a careful step or two closer to Pollovic, ready to be introduced when Pollovic finishes his speech.

Gerrhonot stays very close.

Fulberg glowers at Seruffin and Gerrhonot, but isn't actually able to do anything about it without creating a scene. Trust, but verify.

Gerrhonot adjusts the ambient to reduce Fulberg's influence on Seruffin. He doesn't like the man's expression.

Tsibola was unable to work his way through the mob of reporters and spectators, and finds himself an unwilling witness to his younger colleague's undignified prank.

Pollovic: And that's why I'm here today, to show by example that donation is for us all, all of the time. And to aid me in giving this example, here with us today is Hajene Seruffin. Hajene?

Pollovic steps back a pace, leaving the channel in the foreground.

Seruffin manages not to flub his cue, at least.

Seruffin: Thank you, Senator. As you've explained, the donations that Gens like you provide are essential for the welfare, and indeed the survival, of the citizens of Nivet, Norwest, and Gulf Territories.

Seruffin decides to make this very short and sweet, so he can get back to the safe room and Gerrhonot's selyn.

Seruffin: Your generous gesture today will, I hope, spread that message to your own people.

Seruffin takes a step backwards, putting him and Pollovic even again, and turns towards his client.

Seruffin: Are you ready? [softly]

Triangusul focuses his Sime senses as sharply as he can.

Gerrhonot stands close behind Seruffin, his hands on the channel's shoulders, doing his best to surround the three with a bubble of isolation, and support his channel as strongly as he can.

Pollovic nods, glancing with ~~ concern ~~ at the red welts the retainers have left on the channel's arms. The flesh looks a bit swollen.

Pollovic: [also softly] Are you all right, Hajene?

Seruffin: Yes. I'm fine.

Seruffin hopes he isn't lying. He holds out his hands, tentacles retracted.

Pollovic signals to the two assistants Rinaldi provided, who step forward just long enough to fold back the sleeves of the brown tunic and button them up into place, displaying the vivid blue satin linings.

Pollovic: [projecting to the crowd again] Then in the name of Unity, will you please take my donation now, Hajene?

Pollovic places his hands in the channel's, and gives a firm nod.

Seruffin slides his hands down to Pollovic's wrists and lets his handling tentacles wrap around the Gen's arms, zlinning for any signs of an adverse reaction.

Gerrhonot: ~~ strong, steady, reliable support ~~ ~~ confidence in his channel ~~

Pollovic is still ~~ pumped ~~ with the adrenaline of the speech, but is otherwise ~~ calm ~~.

Seruffin would normally take the time to try to calm a Gen in such condition, but in this case, he doesn't think it's practical. He lets his ronaplin-slick laterals slide into place.

Pollovic feels the laterals glide across his skin. They don't feel like hot pasta, really. They're much softer, and slipperier. Not unpleasant, though. ~~ pleasant shiver ~~

Tsibola finds himself watching with ~~ horrified fascination ~~, imagining his brother-in-law in Pollovic's place.

Seruffin pulls Pollovic forward a half step and makes lip contact.

Gerrhonot tries to make that bubble of isolation as opaque as possible.

Pollovic is briefly ~~ startled ~~ . He'd forgotten about the lip contact. They hadn't practiced that part.

Fulberg tells himself "Pop, it's all very well to say 'Trust, but verify'; but how do I verify now? Just gotta trust."

Seruffin braces himself against the startle, then zlins Pollovic deeply, checking for any physical problems he might not have zlinned during the practice session an hour ago.

Pollovic ~~ calms ~~ immediately. He has nothing to do for the next couple of minutes, really. Just stand here and relax.

Seruffin has managed to set his need aside as he settles down to do what's after all a routine functional, however bizarre the circumstances.

Pollovic focuses on the touch of the channel's laterals. Quite pleasant, really. Warm and moist, almost sensuous, like the touch of a woman's lips. Her soft, lower lips.

Seruffin starts to tap Pollovic's GN-3 level, drawing selyn smoothly.

Pollovic pulls his mind away from such inappropriate thoughts, and turns his attention to the gathered crowd. How are they taking this, so far? What does this look like, to them?

Triangusul isn't sensitive enough to detect the emotions passing between channel and donor, but he can definitely confirm that it is a genuine donation, and not -- as rumored beforehand -- a simulation. Or a fake, not to put too fine a point on it.

Gerrhonot maintains his ~~ rock-steady strong support ~~ despite the lightning storm of flashbulbs.

Pollovic, in a split-second flash of insight, realizes exactly how this looks to the crowd. Scraps of knowledge suddenly click together in his mind: the feel of the laterals, the young Donor's attitude towards his channel, the touch of the hot Sime lips. And he knows what this looks like: it looks like he's kissing a man. ~~ shock ~~ panic ~~ disgust ~~

Triangusul feels the ~~ panic ~~ coming from the stage. What the shen?

Seruffin feels Pollovic's sudden resistance, and quickly adjusts the selyn flow to prevent Pollovic from feeling it.

Pollovic knows he has committed the ultimate act of vulgarity. ~~ panic ~~ self-loathing ~~

Triangusul realizes that this is going badly, although Seruffin is very obviously the consummate professional channel.

Seruffin is almost finished anyway, so he brings the flow to a halt as quickly as he can.

Fulberg is no Sime, but he too is attuned to Pollovic's emotions. His trust is breaking down fast, although he knows it's hopeless to attack a Sime physically.

Seruffin does, however, tighten his handling tentacles to prevent Pollovic from injuring his laterals.

Gerrhonot doesn't sense anything from Seruffin, so doesn't react to Pollovic's panic.

Pollovic tries very hard to remain motionless, as he knows he must, even though every instinct in his body is screaming for him to struggle. He tells himself silently that it's too late for that, that anything he might do now would only make it look worse. He knows, in a moment of bleak ~~ terror ~~ , that his political career is over. How can anyone ever respect him after this?

Seruffin breaks lip contact, hoping that this will reduce Pollovic's distress. He couldn't care less, just now, whether or not the photographers have managed to immortalize the occasion.

Seruffin: Hold still just a moment longer, Senator. [softly]

Pollovic gasps for air. His lungs seem to have forgotten how to pump.

Seruffin sets about retracting his vulnerable laterals.

Fulberg sees the Sime pulling back from the essentially unharmed senator, and releases all his accumulated tension in a single burst of emotion, creating a ~~ Genslam ~~, though fortunately only of GN-3 strength.

Pollovic struggles to get his breathing back under control.

Seruffin's handling tentacles tighten as he tries hard not to flinch too visibly from the Genslam, and he signals Gerrhonot for more support.

Pollovic feels the tentacles tighten. His first instinct is to pull back.

Gerrhonot's control of the ambient has muffled the worst effects of the Genslam, but he adds as much strength to his support as he can.

Pollovic's second instinct is to hold very, very still.

Seruffin: I'm sorry.

Seruffin lets Pollovic go.

Seruffin: I'm afraid your bodyguard there caught me by surprise.

Pollovic focuses his eyes on Seruffin's face. The channel seems to be in distress.

Pollovic: [softly] Are you all right?

Pollovic is, himself, all right now that he's worrying about someone else.

Seruffin: I will be. I don't usually work in the middle of a crowd.

Gerrhonot's projection now contains a fair bit of ~~ admiration ~~ and ~~ relief ~~.

Triangusul, fortunately for Pollovic and Seruffin, isn't able to detect the slam, what with the distance, the TN-1, and his retainers.

Seruffin pulls a check from his pocket and fills it out, writing slowly to keep his hands from shaking.

Pollovic takes the statement at face value and turns his attention outward to the crowd. There's no way to change what has happened. All there can be, now, is damage control. He must act as if nothing is wrong.

Seruffin presents Pollovic with the check.

Seruffin: I thank you for the selyn you have donated, in the name of the Tecton, and of the Sime whose life it will support.

Pollovic: Thank you, Hajene Seruffin. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm donating the payment from this donation to the Farmers' Relief Fund. Mr. Wilson?

Seruffin steps back with ~~ relief ~~ that his part in this drama is over.

Gerrhonot sees how stressed he is despite how well he conceals it. ~~ love ~~ safety ~~ admiration ~~

Seruffin: Help me on with my retainers, Gerrhonot, while they're paying attention to Pollovic.

Gerrhonot: Sure, Hajene.

Gerrhonot leads Seruffin back to where he left the retainers and holds one out for him.

Wilson steps out from the opposite side of the stage, accepts the check from Pollovic, and shakes his hand. Pollovic is very obviously stressed out, and Wilson thinks it's no wonder.

Seruffin tries to get into the uncomfortable devices as quickly, quietly, and unobtrusively as possible.

Pollovic: Mr. Wilson, just as I hope my selyn will aid a Sime, I hope this money will aid one of our own farmers in distress.

Wilson: Thank you, Senator Pollovic. Thank you very much. I'm sure it will.

Pollovic: You know that our hard-working farmers have my full support, now and always. I shall continue to do my best for you.

Tsibola shakes his head at the sight; it's obvious to him that Pollovic has realized too late just what a fool he's made of himself.

Wilson nods and shakes Pollovic's hand again. He returns to the place from which he came, still carrying the check in his hand.

Pollovic is starting to get the shakes, and ~~ depression ~~ is beginning to set in. Still, he has to get through the rest of this, somehow.

Pollovic: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the formal part of today's proceedings. Hajene Seruffin and I are now open to questions from all of you.

Seruffin returns to Pollovic's side, now wearing retainers.

Gerrhonot stays close, still providing strong protection.

Pollovic begins to relax, as the first couple of questions are routine ones about agricultural and trade policies.

Seruffin doesn't know which is worse, the hostile ambient or the sickening blur that the retainers make of it. He's glad that he wasn't able to eat any of the breakfast Gerrhonot brought him.

Rinaldi watches ~~ smugly ~~ as his models continue to attract the eye as they gather up the rope and signs. He notices how many of the office workers in the audience are watching them enviously. They are even distracting some of the reporters and photographers. The loosely draped supple silk outlines the shapely curves of their beautiful bodies as they move about.

The reporters burst out into a babble of overlapping and unintelligible questions.

Pollovic picks out one.

Pollovic: Fredricks, New Washington Times?

Fredricks: Senator, just how do you feel after that -- experience?

Pollovic somehow manages a small, humorous chuckle.

Pollovic: Quite well. Quite well, indeed. Several dynopters lighter.

Fredricks smiles.

Fredricks: Hajene Seruffin: Did everything go as you expected?

Fredricks knows that Simes can't easily lie, although he also knows Seruffin is a diplomat, having done battle with him before.

Gerrhonot stands there, next to his channel, looking calm and professional, projecting ~~ safety ~~ comfort ~~ strength ~~ steadiness ~~ repletion ~~ and wishing he could take Seruffin back to the safe room and get those shenned retainers off him.

Seruffin: Near enough. Although I admit, if Senator Pollovic wants to donate again next month, I'll ask him to do it at the Sime Center.

Rinaldi's models move out into the crowd offering brochures about his new spring line to the reporters.

Pollovic catches, out of the corner of his eye, a flicker of movement from the roped-off area.

Pollovic: Was that a question, Mr. Triangusul?

Triangusul: [dryly] Not at this time, Senator. Observing your donation in full detail was a most interesting experience.

Pollovic tries not to wince visibly.

Triangusul doesn't actually have "full details", of course, although he knows more than any Gen colleague.

Gerrhonot plans to fold down the sofa and lie down with Seruffin in his arms until it's time for transfer. Maybe after some tea and a backrub. He doesn't relax his vigilance while planning, however.

Pollovic: In that case, ladies and gentlemen, let's call it a wrap. I'm sure you're all as eager for lunch as I am.

Pollovic is, in fact, not hungry at all. Quite the reverse, in fact. He wants to go somewhere quiet and throw up.

Seruffin is finding Pollovic's nausea aggravating to his own, need-induced nausea.

Pollovic leads the way off the platform and back towards the green room, leaving Seruffin to follow.

Seruffin does so, leaving enough distance between them that Pollovic's nager is less irritating.

Triangusul reflects that this wasn't much like the last time he observed a donation. Sectuib said the day was warm enough to do collectorium outdoors, and Triangusul, who had recently changed over, was repairing a wall at the time.

Fredricks knows he is too big to get out of the crowd fast, and reconciles himself to having an accurate story rather than a scoop. Maybe he should interview Triangusul, who'll be filing with his home paper in Capital but not with any New Washington one. Nothing like adding whatever details his Sime colleague picked up.

Quispel hurries around, making sure that the props are collected and carefully stowed, questions answered, and tempers soothed.

Rinaldi thanks his models for a job well done.

Fulberg takes the senator by the arm and leads him from the green room to his private office before anything else can happen.

Bianca, who hadn't intended to be here but simply got caught in the crowd on her way to lunch, walks away thoughtfully. She'd never really thought about donating before, but the Senator made it seem easy. And worthwhile. And definitely less boring than copying tables of statistics all day.

Seruffin reaches the safety of the Sime room, and starts to shake with delayed reaction.

Gerrhonot is almost overcome with ~~ compassion ~~ as he helps Seruffin remove the retainers. He's also surprised at how exhausted he feels after that intense and sustained nageric effort. Maybe he can use his fatigue to encourage Seruffin to rest.

Pollovic, in the safety of his office, drops into a chair and starts to shake. His political life is over. He knows it. Soon he'll have to deal with it. But not now. Not right now.

Marten, the janitor, sighs as he watches the workers stack the last of the chairs. He picks up his broom. Always, after the important folks do stuff, it's up to people like him to clean up after them.

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