Bibi is sitting on the porch swing, wrapped in a thick wool knitted jacket, sipping trin and waiting for dawn.
Bibi hopes Ammenia is getting a good night's sleep. Looking after the twins yesterday was stressful, and with Flint's changeover about to start, today will be much worse. She also hopes Flint has gotten some sleep. The poor boy is a nervous wreck. It's too bad that he can't be calmed down nagerically until much later.
Marvin opens the door and walks out onto the porch, whistling a tune of his own invention.
Bibi turns and smiles ~~ welcome ~~, but then feels a pang of ~~ guilt ~~.
Marvin: Hi, Dimples. Taking a break between Twin One and Twin Two?
Bibi: Have a seat, Marvin.
Bibi pats the space next to her on the swing.
Marvin: Just what I had been about to ask for.
Marvin sits down in the space and throws a comradely arm about Bibi's shoulders.
Bibi snuggles closer to Marvin. ~~ affection ~~
Marvin returns the ~~ affection ~~.
Bibi: I'm sorry about Ammenia. I feel selfish, but I had to make the decision that way.
Marvin gestures with his other hand dismissively.
Marvin: It was the best of a bad set of choices. ~~ sincere ~~
Bibi is ~~ grateful ~~ for Marvin's understanding.
Marvin: I can't say that I wasn't looking forward to a transfer from a First, of course. But then again, there's something to be said for having a Gen you can actually satisfy, too.
Marvin waggles his hand.
Bibi wonders if transfer from a First would be particularly attractive to a disjunct like Marvin, since he could be completely without fear that he might harm his Donor. She's too polite and tactful to ask him, of course.
Marvin: I zlin you wondering about something. Cough up, please. We are supposed to be friends, aren't we?
Bibi: I was thinking... that you'd especially enjoy it because there's no way you could harm Ammenia. ~~ embarrassment ~~
Marvin snorts softly.
Marvin: There's no way I can harm Eugen, if it comes to that.
Bibi pats Marvin's hand.
Bibi: Of course.
Marvin: After all, I no longer need junct-satisfying transfers any more, even if I ~~ crave ~~ them.
Marvin does his best junct, only laced with self-parody.
Bibi: ~~ compassion ~~ I wonder... would you want Ammenia to try to give you what you... crave?
Marvin looks up sharply.
Marvin: Not a chance.
Marvin: [seriously] I have no interest in trying to wake the dragon.
Bibi: I'm sorry. I don't think I'll ever really understand what it's like for you. ~~ compassion ~~ sorrow ~~ affection ~~
Marvin: Yeah, probably not. Disjunction is separating two things that normally go together in either juncts or nonjuncts. My physical needs are those of a nonjunct; my desires are for what juncts have that nonjuncts don't -- which is not the same as the Kill.
Bibi stretches to kiss Marvin's cheek.
Marvin ruffles Bibi's hair.
Marvin: We live in different worlds, but there's still a lot of overlap.
Bibi nods. ~~ acceptance ~~ affection ~~
Bibi: Were you okay, zlinning Ammenia serving Clint?
Marvin: I was kind of divided. On the one hand, I was watching another Sime take my Gen, and that made me angry. On the other hand ...
Marvin takes his arm from around Bibi so he can gesticulate with it
Marvin: It was really amazing to zlin the transfer. I've never zlinned another channel's transfer close up. On the third hand ...
Marvin looks about comically for his missing third hand.
Marvin: I hope it didn't damage Clint to have me zlinning his First Transfer.
Bibi: I doubt he was at all aware of you. I'm more concerned about the effect on Flint of watching Clint.
Marvin nods soberly.
Marvin: There is that. If he gets too afraid he may run out of selyn. On the other other hand, it may reassure him that if Clint survived, so will he.
Bibi: Clint seems to have accepted his own fate, and his brother's, but Flint is still struggling against the inevitable.
Marvin: Sure. Wishful thinking. But when it comes right down to it, I suspect Flint will bear up.
Bibi: Perhaps once the symptoms start, he'll concede that it's going to happen.
Marvin: I think so.
Bibi squeezes Marvin's hand.
Bibi: It's wonderful, Marvin. You've rescued two channels.
Marvin smiles his thousand-Genpower smile.
Marvin: Yeah. And the First Contract isn't tottering this time either.
Bibi: You did well.
Bibi squeezes Marvin's hand again, and grasps his wrist with her tentacles in the manner of close friends.
Ammenia steps out onto the veranda, blinking ~~ sleepily ~~ and clutching a mug of tea in one hand, and a sweet roll in the other.
Ammenia: Good morning. I think.
Bibi: Are you sure you want to get up already?
Marvin: Yeah, there have to be several hours yet.
Ammenia: I'm sure I don't want to get up yet, but it always takes me a bit to wake up in the morning. I can't afford to be asleep when Flint develops symptoms he can't explain away.
Marvin: Of course.
Bibi: Poor kid will probably wake up nauseated, and shivering as the "Sime fever" starts. He is still asleep, I hope?
Ammenia: Yes. Dolmada is on watch; she'll call me when he wakes.
Ammenia: With luck, we can keep him comfortable. Or at least, as comfortable as possible.
Bibi: Yes. Maybe Dolmada can sleep for a while this morning. Bart or Marvin can help me with the donors if necessary.
Marvin: Want me to play Donor in front of the Wild Gens? That should be interesting.
Marvin makes a quotation-mark gesture around "Wild Gens".
Ammenia: It's too bad young Bart doesn't have any more experience in changeover than Flint. He'd be more effective at calming Flint than anyone else.
Marvin: He would, provided he didn't break at just the wrong moment, unfortunately. I worry that Bart's going to have trouble becoming a Tecton-standard Second, or First, or whatever, after all the highly nonstandard experiences we've put him through.
Bibi: Well, even with Mik, he tried to stick to what he knew, so I don't think he's developed much in the way of bad habits. Did you two notice anything?
Marvin: My attention was elsewhere at the time.
Ammenia: His background is going to make him unusual, anyway. He's pretty conservative about working within his limits, from what I saw.
Bibi: I hope he can go in-T with you two and the twins as well. I think a taste of Nivet will be good for him.
Ammenia: I admit, I'd feel better about making that trip with three channels if there's another Gen along.
Bibi smiles, although it may still be too dark for Ammenia to see it.
Bibi: I can understand that.
Ammenia finishes her sweet roll and tea.
Ammenia: Now, I think I can face Flint. Occasionally I envy you Simes, only having to refuel once a month.
Marvin: Aw, go on. You love eating. All Gens love eating.
Marvin zlins the state of Ammenia's tummy, but he's determined to make light of it anyhow.
Ammenia: Not as much as you Simes enjoy transfer, you have to admit.
Ammenia: Fortunately, we Donors have the best of both worlds.
Marvin looks at Bibi.
Marvin: Are we Genpecked tonight or what? ~~ teasing ~~
Bibi: Personally, I'm very glad Ammenia is here, and with her sense of humor functioning.
Marvin: So'm I.
Ammenia: I think it's time to leave while I'm ahead... I'll tell Dolmada to get some sleep, unless you want her for something, Bibi?
Bibi: No, I'm fine. Do persuade her to get some rest.
Ammenia nods, and steps through the door back into the Sime Center, but pokes her head out again, a second later.
Marvin: What's up?
Ammenia: You have a customer, Bibi.
Bibi is ~~ surprised ~~.
Bibi: They don't usually come in this early except on market day... a changeover?
Bibi gets up and goes inside while she's talking.
Ammenia: Looks a little old for that.
Marvin follows Bibi, ~~ Second Order Donor light support ~~
Bibi: Hello! I'll be right with you.
Ammenia follows Bibi inside, then goes up the stairs to relieve Dolmada.
Marvin: [quietly] How am I doing?
Bibi: Entirely adequate, Sosu. ~~ teasing ~~
Marvin: Umm, er, gee, thanks, Hajene. ~~ teasing back ~~
Epatcha is a tall, lanky (for a Gen) young man, who is currently feeling a bit ~~ intimidated ~~ by his surroundings. He's not used to city crowds, city customs, or city folk.
Epatcha didn't think that dawn was a little early to pay a call, for instance, since he's always had to have the milking done and breakfast eaten by then.
Bibi enters the waiting area, tentacles in.
Marvin trails after.
Bibi: Good morning. I'm Hajene Bibi, the channel here.
Epatcha: Morning, ma'am. ~~ bashful ~~
Epatcha vaguely remembers something he's heard of big city manners, and removes his hat, shuffling it from hand to hand as he wonders where city folk put the dern things once they take 'em off.
Bibi would offer tea and cookies at this point, but nothing is set out yet.
Bibi: This is Hajene Marvin, who's helping me this morning. How may I help you?
Epatcha: Well, ma'am, I'm in a bit of a pickle.
Bibi nods sympathetically.
Epatcha: Epatcha, ma'am. Epatcha Holk. Hired hand with the Greebes.
Epatcha gulps, unused to talking so much, and his Adam's apple bobs. He looks at Marvin.
Epatcha: I thought it only took one Sime to... guess that just goes to show, don't it?
Marvin: It does. I'm just the hired hand.
Epatcha: She's hired you? To do what?
Marvin: Whatever needs doing, I guess. In this case, just making sure she doesn't overdo it.
Bibi: Did you want to donate, Mr. Holk?
Epatcha: Well, I hope I'm as charitable as the next folks, but I'd kinda hoped to reach a two-way exchange.
Bibi: We pay for donations, of course.
Bibi tells Epatcha how much he might expect to get from a first time donation, and mentions that subsequent ones will likely be worth more.
Epatcha is ~~ amazed ~~.
Epatcha: Really? How can you folks afford that kind of money?
Marvin: Simes in Simeland cover it by paying taxes, Mr. Holk. Steep taxes.
Epatcha: Don't seem fair, somehow. Unless the Gens on your side of the border pay taxes too?
Marvin: No. The deal is, Gens get paid enough to live on, Simes get what they need to live.
Marvin: If you want more than that, you got to work -- and pay your other taxes, of course.
Epatcha: I guess folks out here get the benefits without paying the price.
Marvin: There isn't one Gen for every Sime in Simeland yet. Someday, probably. But until then, you Gens here farm selyn and we buy it. So are we going to do a deal here?
Epatcha scratches his head with a well-scrubbed hand that nonetheless has permanent dirt encrustations.
Marvin hopes he hasn't overdone it.
Bibi hopes so too. Marvin's approach is a lot more pushy than her own.
Epatcha: Well, I don't need a fortune: ain't no place to spend money, on a farm. But I do got my eye on a pretty girl, and a bit of ribbon might convince her to go to the hoedown with me. How 'bout I just sell you enough for that, and leave the rest in the bank?
Epatcha is not clear on the concept of effortlessly renewing resources.
Bibi: Well, what you don't sell just goes to waste. Whatever you sell grows back in a month. It's like cutting grass.
Epatcha: Grass don't grow, if you don't water it.
Bibi: Here, let me give you a booklet on donation. Marvin will bring you tea and a sweet roll from the kitchen.
Marvin goes off to get the food.
Bibi takes a booklet from the literature table and offers it. It's the most simplified one, with big print. Epatcha doesn't strike her as likely to be very literate.
Epatcha looks at the booklet in ~~ alarm ~~.
Epatcha: Could you just sorta explain it to me, ma'am? I don't have much book learning.
Bibi: Of course. Let's sit down, shall we?
Bibi sits in a comfortable chair that gives Epatcha a choice of distances from her to sit.
Epatcha chooses a chair at a moderate, Gen-polite distance.
Bibi: I don't suppose you've ever seen a Sime's tentacles. May I show you mine?
Bibi is zlinning for his reaction. He's been remarkably calm about dealing with Simes so far.
Epatcha is a bit ~~ uncertain ~~ , but nods gamely.
Epatcha: I s'pose that makes sense.
Bibi holds out one small feminine hand, palm up, and slowly extends her handling tentacles.
Epatcha's eyes widen at the sight.
Bibi wiggles the tentacles.
Bibi: See? I can use them just like extra fingers.
Epatcha: Those things wiggle like a mess of worms.
Bibi: I suppose so. But they aren't slimy like worms. Would you like to touch one?
Bibi stretches her arm out further and offers a ventral to touch.
Epatcha might be a farmworker, but he doesn't care all that much for worms. He leans away a bit.
Epatcha: I'll take you word for it, ma'am.
Epatcha is starting to have second thoughts about how easy this would be.
Bibi: Well, in order to donate, I'll take your hands in mine, slide my hands up on your forearms, and wrap my tentacles around them.
Bibi lets this sink in for a moment.
Epatcha is definitely feeling that ~~ sinking ~~ feeling.
Bibi: Then I'll extend my lateral tentacles, which are a bit moist, touch my lips to yours and take the donation. It takes about a minute, and you won't feel anything.
Epatcha: Except the tentacles.
Bibi: Yes. But it's only for a minute, and it doesn't hurt at all.
Epatcha: Huh. Guess it ain't something fer nothin', after all.
Marvin returns with the tea and roll and offers them to Epatcha. He sits down and decides to let Bibi do her job from now on.
Epatcha bites into the sweet roll with ~~ appetite ~~, then realizes he's being less than city-delicate about it. ~~ embarrassment ~~
Epatcha: Sorry, ma'am. My mother always claimed I wasn't civilized. Guess she was right.
Epatcha sets temptation aside.
Epatcha: That sure is a good sweet roll, though.
Bibi: Miz Gitl is our cook and baker. She's really good at it, isn't she?
Epatcha: Yes, ma'am.
Epatcha has now accepted Bibi's hospitality, and feels obligated to follow through on the purpose of his visit, tentacles and all. ~~ apprehension and determination ~~
Bibi waits expectantly for the Gen to offer his consent to donate.
Epatcha: Well, I guess if you're buyin', I'm sellin'.
Bibi: Good. We'll go into the donation room over here...
Epatcha: You got a whole room for it? Like the milking barn?
Epatcha follows Bibi over to the donation room.
Bibi: Nothing like that big. But we often have several people waiting, so this gives us some privacy.
Epatcha: Cows don't care much about being private.
Bibi: No, they don't. They like being with their familiar herdmates. I grew up on a dairy farm myself.
Bibi sits at the desk and offers Epatcha a chair. She takes out a file with a set of empty forms.
Epatcha views the forms with the ~~ alarm ~~ of the semi-literate.
Bibi: I'll just ask you some questions and fill out these forms.
Epatcha looks a little less alarmed.
Bibi leads her donor through the forms, making it as easy as possible, and being very encouraging.
Epatcha is feeling that's he earning his payment, but he struggles to give the proper answers to the questions.
Bibi: Well done. Thank you! Now let's move over here and I'll take your donation.
Epatcha is ~~ determined ~~ to earn enough to get something that will really impress his Anna.
Bibi gets up and moves to the transfer lounge.
Epatcha moves over to the lounge, pausing to look at it ~~ doubtfully ~~.
Epatcha: That's sure a funny couch.
Bibi: It is. But it lets us do the donation without twisting our backs.
Bibi gestures to the donor's seat.
Epatcha: I guess.
Epatcha sits as indicated.
Bibi offers a hand.
Epatcha looks at the hand, then at the "worms", then grits his teeth and puts his own hand in Bibi's.
Bibi offers her other hand.
Epatcha figures that milking is milking, whatever the "cow", and that takes both hands to be accomplished in a reasonable time interval. He surrenders his other hand.
Bibi slides her hands into position.
Bibi: I'm going to extend my tentacles now. Is that all right?
Epatcha: Well... you're sure they don't feel like worms?
Bibi: They're warm and dry, not cold and wet. How's that?
Bibi wonders if helminthophobia is hereditary, and this Gen is related to Estragen. But he didn't seem to recognize Gitl's name. Oh, well.
Epatcha looks at his arms, which have been duly encircled.
Epatcha: Feels funny. ~~ uneasy ~~
Bibi: Now Mr. Holk, before I can extend my laterals, I have to tighten up my hold. My laterals are very delicate, and you can injure me seriously if you move.
Bibi tightens up.
Marvin is being as strictly professional as any Donor.
Epatcha wonders if this is the equivalent of tying the cow's halter firmly to an immovable object before starting milking.
Bibi: Do you think you can stay still? My laterals are moist, and might feel a little tingly, but they won't hurt you.
Epatcha: I guess I can stand it.
Bibi: Good. You're doing very well.
Bibi extends her laterals.
Bibi: And now we'll touch lips for about a minute.
Bibi offers her lips.
Epatcha is taken aback for a moment, but that's one part of this whole process that rather appeals to him, girlfriend-to-be or not. He leans down so Bibi can reach his lips, then waits for the proposed selyn-milking to start. He's getting a whole new appreciation for what young heifers go through, and resolves to be more sympathetic with their confusion.
Bibi completes the fifth contact and zlins the donor carefully. He seems to be in good health, but his foot was broken once, probably by a large animal stepping on it, and his left thigh has a deep but fading bruise, probably from a cow or horse's kick.
Bibi draws carefully from his GN-3 level, and terminates without attempting the GN-2 barrier, as always with a first time donor.
Bibi breaks the lip contact, retracts her laterals, and releases the donor.
Bibi: Well done, Mr. Holk.
Epatcha grins, revealing crooked teeth.
Epatcha: Thank you, ma'am. I guess me and the cows have something in common, now.
Bibi: But you get paid for it!
Bibi moves to the desk and fills out a voucher.
Epatcha: Come to think of it, cash is a bit more useful for wooing a pretty girl than sweet feed. Of course, the cows don't have to worry about attracting the bull.
Bibi: Here you go. Mr. Nattin should be at his desk by now, and he'll cash this for you.
Epatcha looks at the voucher, and notes that he was milked a bit more thoroughly than the ribbon's-worth he suggested.
Bibi: If you come back in a month, you'll probably make a bit more than this.
Epatcha: Thank you, ma'am. With this, I can get my girl that hat she's been looking at, as well as the ribbon.
Bibi: Good. Best of luck to you with your courting.
Bibi figures she'll let Epatcha realize on his own what a better catch he is with two sources of income.
Epatcha: Thank you again, ma'am.
Bibi: You're welcome. You've given a Sime a month of life, as well as made some money for yourself. So I thank you, on behalf of that Sime.
Epatcha looks at the voucher again.
Epatcha: I guess I have, at that.
Epatcha is aware, of course, that cows couldn't care less if children have milk to drink, but he supposes he's glad that his selyn will be put to use.
Bibi leads the donor out of the donation room and shows him where Nattin's office is.
Epatcha goes off to cash his voucher, dreaming of the hat he'll buy, and what it might get him.
Bibi heads upstairs to see how Ammenia is getting along with the twins, and to make sure Dolmada is getting some rest.