Technical-Class Donors: Episode 5

D'zoll rummages around in his office desk to find the paperwork on this new Donor he's supposed to check out. He doesn't understand why Sectuib has stuck him with this job, except of course that the fellow has an "interesting" background.

D'zoll: Did you see where I put the paperwork, Sosu?

Arinna: No, I didn't. Are you sure it came in?

D'zoll: Well, maybe he's got it with him. Let's hope so, because I zlin a First Order Donor out there in the corridor.

Arinna, who had been looking forward to transfer with D'zoll this month now that he's back home, would have been just as happy if the Donor, as well as his paperwork, had stayed absent.

Nick checks the name on the door, then ~~ signals ~~.

D'zoll: Come in, come in.

Nick opens the door and steps through.

D'zoll: Hello, Nick. Sat'htine offers respect to the Tecton, and all that. I'm D'zoll, and this is my Companion, Arinna. Come in and sit down.

Nick is dressed in clothes that are clean and neat, but neither Tecton nor Sat'htine uniform.

Nick: Pleased to meet you.

D'zoll extends his tentacles in greeting.

Nick is polite but a little ~~ reserved ~~ as he reaches to brush his fingertips over D'zoll's tentacles.

Arinna gives Nick a cool nod, but doesn't offer her hand.

D'zoll: Do you have your paperwork with you, I hope?

Nick has yet to fully adjust to life in the Tecton, working with strange channels whose requirements he doesn't know.

Nick: Some of it.

Nick extends a folder.

Nick: The full story was a bit too massive to be portable, at least not if I wanted to bring a change of clothes, as well.

D'zoll: So I hear.

D'zoll takes the folder and flips through it rapidly.

Arinna ~~ protectively ~~ edges a bit closer to D'zoll. This Nick is just too good-looking. She knows the type; they tend to rely on charisma instead of skill.

Nick's lips twitch ~~ wryly ~~.

D'zoll: Why don't you tell me the parts you think I need to know right now?

Nick shrugs.

Nick: I was trained the old-fashioned way, not in a Tecton school, by Hajene Snake Farris ambrov Zeor. She wasn't big on paperwork -- it would have been a liability for a rogue channel -- but she covered most of the essentials.

D'zoll: So I take it that means your training was thorough and intensive, but a little non-standard in terms of signals, conventions, and so on?

D'zoll doesn't react visibly or nagerically to the term "rogue channel".

Arinna raises an eyebrow. Sectuib expects her to hand off D'zoll to a Donor trained by a rogue channel?

Nick: Yes. Although I've learned the Tecton signals now, as well as the Zeor ones.

Nick's nager is as firmly disciplined as any channel could want, although its Zeor flavoring is a bit nonstandard.

D'zoll projects "moderate support" to Nick using the Tecton-standard signal.

Arinna forces herself not to respond to the signal. ~~ frustration, carefully damped ~~

Nick obliges smoothly, then notes Arinna's expression.

Nick: I'm sorry. I was told I was supposed to be working with Hajene D'zoll today, but if he's your channel...?

Arinna shrugs.

D'zoll: Arinna doesn't own me, Nick.

Arinna: Sectuib has apparently assigned you here... but he hasn't reassigned me anywhere else.

Nick: I see.

Nick ought to be used to not being trusted by the Tecton by now, but it's getting a little old.

D'zoll: Which means Sectuib is trying to send me some sort of message, and it's up to me to figure out what it is.

D'zoll scratches his head.

Arinna projects ~~ reassurance ~~ . The more Sectuib trusts someone, the more challenging tasks he tends to give them.

D'zoll: Well, Nick, your nager has a good solid feel to it. On the other tentacle, we've not only never worked together before, but neither one of us is exactly [English] an interchangeable part.

Nick's lips twitch.

D'zoll: So I'm going to ask you to provide primary support, but to be ready to relinquish me to Arinna immediately I signal you. Arinna, I apologize for the situation this puts you in, but it's the best I can come up with just now.

Nick looks at Arinna to see if she's amenable.

Arinna gives a tight nod. ~~ protective ~~

Nick looks back at D'zoll.

Nick: So, if you're a [English] odd cog in the machine, [Simelan] in what odd ways do you deviate?

D'zoll: Well, you know I specialize in mind-healing? That means I've got to do a lot more with listening and talking than the average channel does, even the average Sat'htine channel.

Nick casually snags a chair and sits on it, at precisely the proper distance to keep D'zoll comfortable at his point in the need cycle.

Nick: I don't have all that much experience with mind-healing. I gather, though, that you have to zlin your patients pretty carefully while you're conversing with them?

D'zoll: That's true. Sometimes I'll signal for a deliberate lowering of support so that you don't outshine the renSime or renGen in question.

Nick nods.

Nick: Do you want lowered support, or a window?

D'zoll: A window? Can you demonstrate that?

D'zoll tries to prepare himself for who-knows-what.

Arinna offers ~~ shelter-if-you-require-it ~~.

Nick: Sure.

Nick casually demonstrates his mastery of a rather advanced Zeor technique that allows D'zoll to zlin Arinna's offer of shelter clearly, while not being affected by other nageric influences, and with greater support than the standard Tecton technique.

Arinna can't believe someone who looks so much like a farm worker could really know what he's doing. Muscles are pretty, but they're not what make for a good Donor.

Nick has no idea it's considered an advanced technique; Snake insisted that he learn it early, since they seldom had insulated treatment rooms to work in.

D'zoll raises his eyebrows, and hopes his jaw isn't actually sagging.

D'zoll: Very impressive, Sosu. That technique will be extremely useful for me, I think.

Nick moderates his field back to normal ~~ light support ~~.

Arinna suppresses a stab of ~~ surprise ~~, and a bigger one of ~~ jealousy ~~ .

Nick: It can be useful, although the channels I've been working for lately don't seem interested.

D'zoll: That would be because they don't require it, or because they're too thick to see the advantages?

D'zoll twinkles.

Nick: Actually, most of them seemed skeptical that it was possible. Or maybe they just thought a mixed-up embarrassing mistake like me couldn't do such a thing.

Arinna pulls herself to a more professional frame of mind. If this is a useful technique, maybe she can learn it too.

D'zoll: Do you happen to have any experience with Donor training?

Nick: I spent two weeks in a training camp just after I established. From what little I remember, they were more interested in how we made the beds than in what we did with our nagers.

D'zoll laughs.

D'zoll: No, I meant with training other Donors under a channel's supervision.

Arinna tries not to be ~~ smug ~~ . This is one of her specialties.

Nick: Not much. Snake did have me help her train her second Donor, but we lost him when we had to leave town suddenly.

D'zoll: Lost as in left behind?

Nick: Yes. There wasn't time to go back for him, and by the time we found him again, he'd found a place in Naros.

D'zoll: Well, given that you do have experience training Donors, and that you are a repository of unusual techniques, you may very well find yourself teaching an advanced Donor class. But only if you're interested in it, to be sure.

D'zoll steeples his fingers and tentacles.

Nick: Perhaps, once I figure out which techniques are unusual. I'd hate to start an advanced class by trying to teach something all my students learned early on.

D'zoll: Ah, good point. We'll try doing some brainstorming, trying to figure out what you know that I know, that I've heard of but never met, and that I've never even heard of. But not this shift, I think.

Nick: Well, Snake was trained in Zeor, if that helps. Although I get the impression that she was making a lot of her techniques up as she went.

Arinna wonders if she's going to spend the rest of the month picking Nick's brains and taking notes on the contents.

D'zoll: Well, the Book was written mostly by Zeor Farrises, and it consists of a lot of nitwitted Zeor ideas that turned out to work.

Nick chuckles.

D'zoll: But don't get me started. Sat'htine Farrises can talk about our Zeor non-relatives for hours.

Arinna can't help smiling too. One of her cousins is in Zeor, and some of the stories she hears are rather... extreme.

D'zoll: As Arinna knows all too well, I think.

D'zoll smiles at her.

Nick: Well, I have to say, I didn't care for the only conventional Zeor channel I've met.

D'zoll: Umm, let me guess. Obsessive-compulsive, no fun in life, head down over the desk all the time?

D'zoll mimics the kind of channel he's describing with his body and field.

Nick guffaws.

Arinna grins fondly at D'zoll. One of the things she likes about working with him is his sense of humor.

Nick: Well, to be fair, Arat was like that, too.

Nick can't recall laughing at anything Arat said.

D'zoll: I've read some history. It seems to be extremely rare for rebels to have any sense of humor whatever.

Nick's nager shimmers delightfully when he laughs.

D'zoll: Of course, Arat wasn't a rebel in the usual sense: he was, from what I understand, trying to restore his family's way of life.

Nick's nager loses its laughter.

Nick: Yes.

Nick didn't approve of that goal.

D'zoll: Sorry. I didn't mean to rub you on a raw spot.

D'zoll makes a mental note of it.

Arinna reflects silently that this is like fundamentalists of every stripe: a yearning for the "old ways", whether or not they ever existed in the past.

D'zoll notes the presence of an insight in Arinna's nager, but not of course what it is.

D'zoll: Something occurs to you, Arinna? Let's hear it, if it's not too personal.

Arinna: Fundamentalists everywhere want to get back to the "old ways". And they can be some of the most dangerous people you'll ever meet.

D'zoll nods soberly.

D'zoll: You're right as usual, Sosu.

Nick: I don't know if I'd go quite that far.

Nick has a far more extensive experience of the denizens of the underworld than any sheltered Sat'htine channel or Donor.

Arinna glances at Nick ~~ curiously ~~ .

Arinna: You've met types that are more dangerous?

Nick: I knew an enforcer or two in Bender Cove, and there was the smuggler, and that... Well, let's say life as a rogue introduces you to a lot of people who aren't exactly welcome in polite company.

Arinna: But enforcers and smugglers don't usually inspire throngs of followers.

Nick: You'd be surprised.

Arinna studies Nick again. Just what uses has he made of that charismatic manner of his? ~~ suspicion ~~

Nick: Some gang leaders can be quite charismatic, and gain real power.

Arinna: And their Donors? ~~ stronger suspicion ~~

Nick raises an eyebrow.

Nick: Gens and renSimes don't generally have Donors.

Arinna knows a non-responsive answer when she hears one.

Nick sighs impatiently.

Nick: Arinna, whatever else Snake was, she never became the leader of a gang. And even rogue Donors have to spend too much time with their channels to run a large gang on the side.

Arinna shrugs. She still doesn't trust this man.

Arinna: How about a small one?

Nick shakes his head.

Nick: You really haven't given any thought to the practicalities of keeping an entran-prone Farris channel healthy without a Sime Center to provide work, and without attracting the attention of the authorities.

Arinna: Isn't the underworld full of Simes who don't want to attract the attention of the authorities once every twenty-eight days?

D'zoll: Not from what I understand. Indeed, the best way to draw attention to yourself is not to show up for your transfer appointment. The natural suspicion is that you've gone junct.

D'zoll looks at Nick.

Arinna: That's if you're on their records in the first place.

D'zoll: Now you're talking about a Distect-type conspiracy. That's a very different thing from a criminal gang.

Nick: True. We got clients who wanted transfer with a Farris channel, who were willing to fake an out-of-town trip, and hope that it would be assumed that there had been a mixup with their paperwork.

D'zoll: That sounds a whole lot more plausible, frankly. I think you've been reading too many thrillers, eh, Arinna?

Arinna shrugs. She admits to having led a sheltered life. But she just can't trust this too-perfect Donor.

D'zoll sighs, and wonders for the umpteenth time how he can be a competent and skilled mind-healer and still drop so many bricks in more or less social situations.

Arinna: I defer to your greater experience of the criminal world, Hajene. ~~ irony ~~

D'zoll: Well, there was that fellow that I treated for depression after he had murdered his wife's cousin.

Arinna: Hardly a hardened underworld denizen.

Nick: True. Most of them only resort to mayhem if it's profitable. And often the threat of mayhem works just as well.

Arinna: And I somehow doubt most of them suffer from post-mayhem depression.

Nick: True. And even fewer of them know it can be treated.

D'zoll: Actually, he was: the murder was a matter of business, and he couldn't understand why he was so upset about it.

Arinna: As I said: scarcely a hardened specimen.

D'zoll: The other dozens of deaths he had ordered didn't seem to affect him much, though.

Nick: They weren't relatives?

Arinna isn't sure how she's ended up fighting with D'zoll. What she really wants to be doing is protecting him.

D'zoll: No, they weren't. But that wasn't the reason for his depression.

Nick is ~~ curious ~~ now.

D'zoll: Unfortunately, that whole story is under seal. Rimona and I are the only ones allowed to know about it -- and Sectuib, I suppose.

Nick: Ah.

Nick is ~~ mildly disappointed ~~

Arinna wonders how long ago the case was. She's been at least marginally aware, she'd thought, of D'zoll's entire caseload for the past eight years.

Nick: So, what is your workload like today?

D'zoll: Well, three therapy sessions this morning, and then some dispensary work in the afternoon, basically. Past that, I don't know: Arinna?

Arinna reaches for a stack of file folders and sets them on D'zoll's desk.

Arinna: A new client from out-T; another phobia case. And Terzalli was wondering if you could fit him in for an extra session today or tomorrow.

D'zoll gives Arinna the hairy eyeball.

D'zoll: Another Simephobia case? Or is this just another routine fear-of-pigeons situation?

Nick wonders if he wants to know about the pigeons.

Arinna: Extreme agoraphobia. To the point that he's had to resign his seat on his city council. Enough of a mover and shaker to get sent here for treatment.

D'zoll: Believe me, one Simephobia case per year was more than enough. Okay, I'll read up on him. As for Terzalli, he's just looking for attention. Tell him -- No, tell him I'll see him at his regular time next week.

Nick: Do you have a lot of clients from Gen Territory here?

D'zoll: No, only one, or two starting today. The one is a Simephobe with a powerful Donor talent, believe it or not.

Nick winces, and reflexively increases his ~~ support ~~.

Arinna: Hajene was out-T for a month, working with him.

Nick: That must have been difficult.

Arinna: And his wife is pregnant with twin channels. Literally.

Nick: Ah, that explains why he was willing to get treatment. He wants to keep his family together, even when his children are grown?

Arinna: His existing son is a channel already.

Nick: Ah. I expect you'll require a little extra support with that one?

D'zoll: I'll be interested in seeing what help your techniques can provide. Treatment in Gegg's case tends to the improvisational anyhow -- there aren't exactly a lot of case studies of such things.

Arinna reflects that Nick can't know how very improvisational a situation must be, before D'zoll would bother to classify it as such.

Nick: No, I wouldn't think so. At least, most of the out-Territory Simephobes I've met have been quite content to stay that way.

D'zoll: Indeed. When we were talking of rebels a while back, it occurred to me that the real rebels of our time are the Houseless people who rejected the junct and semi-junct societies they grew up in -- on both sides of the border -- and around and dedicated themselves to true Unity.

D'zoll: In my stint out-T, I met two such people: the matriarch of a Gen Territory town who bullied the Tecton into giving her a Sime Center, and a Houseless channel who understands both sides of the border better than anyone I know, even though he changed over here just after official Unity. Our simplified and regimented society needs a lot more of those.

Nick: I'm afraid I qualify as conventional under that definition.

D'zoll was hoping to provoke some such remark from Nick.

Nick: I've never set out to change the world, only to make a place for myself in it.

D'zoll: Well, I qualify in that way too. But sometimes making a place for yourself involves changing the world, at least locally. How does it go?

D'zoll: Oh yes. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

Nick chuckles.

D'zoll: Too many of my colleagues think it's their job to adapt their patients to the world around them no matter what.

Nick: You sometimes try to adapt the world, instead?

D'zoll: Sometimes. I adapted Sat'htine to a Simephobic Donor; whether or not that counts as progress I guess depends on how you look at it.

Arinna nods a firm ~~ affirmative ~~ ; given Sectuib's former attitude towards such things, it was a big leap.

Nick: He's been causing trouble?

D'zoll: In fact he's been staying in the stone cottage where Leegi put him like a lamb. Except for his three-times-a-week sessions with me.

Arinna: His daughter, on the other hand... ~~ amusement ~~

Nick: I suppose he's not so assured of his progress that he's willing to face a whole Householding full of Simes.

Nick looks at Arinna.

Nick: His daughter doesn't share his aversion to Simes?

Arinna: Quite the opposite. She's rather fond of good-looking Donors, too. You might want to watch out, Sosu; she's quite a child despite her age.

Nick: I'll consider myself forewarned, then.

Nick is well aware that he inherited 75% of his father/grandfather Riyyh's good looks.

Arinna: By out-T standards she's still a legal minor.

D'zoll: Mr. Gegg may have advanced views about Simes (for a Wild Gen), but his attitude to his daughter is firmly Gen Territory.

Nick: It sounds like that's just as well, if she's likely to seek out trouble.

D'zoll makes a dismissive gesture

D'zoll: She's not seeking out trouble; she just has no idea what her effect on people can be.

Nick: Well, I'll do my best to stay out of her way, anyway.

Arinna glances at her watch.

Arinna: Hajene, your first client should be here any minute.

Nick recalls himself to business.

Nick: Have you any special instructions for how you want me to handle this?

D'zoll: No. Just try to make yourself as unobtrusive as possible. I'll signal like this [makes an unlikely tentacle gesture] if I want you to create that window, okay?

Nick: Umm... why don't you just...

D'zoll: Yes?

Nick describes a simpler, and more discreet, gesture, with accompanying nageric signal.

D'zoll tries it a time or two.

D'zoll: Okay, I think I've got it.

Nick: That was Snake's signal for it; that way I won't have to memorize yet another set of signals.

D'zoll: By all means.

Arinna: What's my role today, Hajene? ~~ carefully neutral ~~

D'zoll rummages in the top drawer of his desk. He finds a letter-opener and hands it to Arinna, handle first.

D'zoll: Your job is to take care of Sosu Nick in case he acts in a way contrary to the best interests of the House.

Arinna takes the letter opener ~~ solemnly ~~ .

Arinna: Understood, Hajene.

Arinna hopes she has kept both the relief and the amusement out of her nager.

D'zoll turns to Nick.

D'zoll: I assume you can take care of yourself, Sosu?

Nick: Well, I'm a bit out of practice; I'm sure my Dar friends would tie me in knots in no time.

D'zoll: In that case ...

Nick: Perhaps I'd better stand over here.

Nick gets up and moves to put D'zoll between him and Arinna.

D'zoll hands Nick a penknife from the drawer.

Nick solemnly accepts the penknife, inspects it, and notes that D'zoll apparently doesn't bother to put much more of an edge to it than his letter opener has.

Arinna is now far more ~~ offended ~~ than amused, since D'zoll didn't trust her with a sharp object.

Nick doesn't view it as a sharp object: his own pocketknife is much sharper.

Arinna: If you truly don't require my presence, Hajene, perhaps you could put me through for a transfer to another assignment?

D'zoll: [contrite] I'm sorry my attempts at humor have distressed you, Sosu. If you want a reassignment, you can surely have it. I would like you to stay through our session with Zinya, though.

D'zoll: [to Nick] Zinya is getting anger-management training, so I have to practice insulting him.

Nick: I see.

Arinna: If you have any use for me, Hajene, I'll gladly stay. If not, I understand Maternity is short-staffed at the moment. ~~ protective ~~ and ~~ supportive ~~

D'zoll: Okay, Arinna. After Zinya's session I'll write you an order. Rimona can certainly use you.

Nick wonders what long-standing relationships his presence is breaking up.

Arinna: ~~ disappointment ~~ worry ~~

D'zoll: [annoyed] Sosu!

Nick moves to shield D'zoll from Arinna's nager.

Arinna: I'm sorry, Hajene.

Arinna forces her nager carefully ~~ neutral ~~ .

D'zoll: If you want an order, ask for one. If you don't really want an order, don't ask for one. I can't afford to treat my Donor like one of my patients.

Arinna: Since I'm clearly more harm than help here, Hajene, I think sending me to Rimona would be best. ~~ careful restraint with only faint hints of jealousy ~~

D'zoll: You are not more harm than help here, and you know that perfectly well -- when you stop being jealous of Nick's skills, which have obviously cost him plenty to acquire.

Arinna: Yes, Hajene.

D'zoll turns his attention to Nick.

D'zoll: Comment?

Nick: I didn't come back to the Tecton for the purpose of sowing dissension between channels and Donors. Maybe I should have gone back out-Territory, after all.

D'zoll gives both his Donors the hairy eyeball.

Arinna: I wasn't being very professional just now, Sosu. Personnel are rotated all the time.

D'zoll then spoils the effect by running his hands over his face.

Arinna turns her attention to projecting ~~ reassurance ~~ at D'zoll.

D'zoll: Nick? Arinna? I require your help. Zinya requires my help. And he's about halfway up the corridor.

D'zoll: [softly] Let's leave all other issues aside for the moment, if we can?

Nick looks at Arinna and raises an interrogative eyebrow.

Nick: Truce?

Arinna: Understood, Hajene. ~~ crisply professional ~~ and ~~ supportive ~~

Arinna: Truce.

D'zoll carefully refrains from smiling.

Arinna tentatively offers Nick the fingertip-touch she didn't earlier.

Nick reaches out to brush her fingers, then moves smoothly back to his chair and settles there, blending inconspicuously into the woodwork except for his firm ~~ support ~~.

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